WALKING WITH THE RISEN CHRIST

April 21st, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland

    Some events happen to us and effect our lives drastically. The day we met our future spouses for the first time is an example. Pearl Harbor is an example on the national level. 9/11 is an example from my lifetime.

    The resurrection of Christ is also an example. Even though it was about 2,000 years ago, that event still has an impact and repercussions on our lives today.

    In Luke 24, Luke gives us five evidences for the resurrection of Christ. Tomorrow, we’ll present fivereasons why the resurrection is still relevant for us today.

 THE RESURRECTION:

    Luke records the resurrection in chapter 24. It happened on the first day of the week. Verse 3 is key: “when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Where was it? Clearly, the women did not know. They had done nothing with it. The empty tomb is proof #1.

     Evidence #2 is the message from the angels. As with everything spiritual, it takes a message from God to get events on earth in their proper perspective. One of the angels tells the women what happened, in verse 6: “He is not here, but He has risen.”

     Proof #3 – The apostles did not know how to explain the empty tomb either, verse 11. They thought the news from the women was “non-sense.” Nolland comments: “the later testimony of the Apostles is that much more impressive because they have been so hard to convince” (III:1191).

     Evidence #4 – Peter and John even got up and went to the tomb to verify what the women were saying (verse 12 & John 20:2ff). Sure enough, the linen wrappings were lying there, neatly folded by the Man who would not need them anymore. You do not wrap a living body in burial clothes. Jesus did not “resuscitate,” leaving the empty tomb with his clothes left behind! Neither did anyone steal the body, leaving the burial clothes behind.

 THE ROAD TO EMMAUS:

    Two of those disciples were walking along the road to the village of Emmaus that very Sunday, seven miles from Jerusalem. If the average man walks 3 mph, then we’ve got a two hour walk to Emmaus. The trip back to Jerusalem will assuredly take less time! These two disciples were talking about what had happened. They could not answer the question either – What happened to the body?

     Proof #5 – Jesus gives these two a rebuke for not believing the prophets, chief of whom was Jesus Himself, as the angels had reminded the women back in verse 7(9:22; 17:25; 18:32f). “It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and enter into His glory” (vs 26). The final proof given of the resurrection is fulfilled prophecy.

PURITY IN YOUTH, PART 2

April 9th, 2014 | By admin

By Katt Anderson

Last week we talked about Purity In Youth. We discussed living by God’s Word, seeking God, don’t wander from God’s Word and treasure God’s Word. Today we’ll talk more about what we as Christians must do.

Do you realize that any sin is a sin against God? We think we don’t hurt anyone when we sin, but we do. We hurt God. Sins hurt us, but God is also hurt. A good example of this is the parable we call, “The Prodigal Son” in Luke 15:11-32. This young man took the blessings of his father and went out into the world. He lived on the wild side, and finally realized it was wrong. He came back home and asked his father’s forgiveness. Who had he hurt besides himself? His father and brother. Today when we sin, we hurt God, our father, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We should learn from God’s Word. Psalms 119:11 has been highlighted in my Bible. It reads, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Do you have God’s word in your heart? We should want to study and learn God’s Truths. Each time I read the Bible, I’m amazed at what new wisdoms I find.

After we have studied God’s Word, we must teach it. You’re thinking you can’t do it, aren’t you? Well, anyone can teach. Of course you can do personal Bible teaching, but you can also study the Bible with other people in a group. You can hand out tracks. I know we have a lot of them at church that most people never use. If you keep a few in your purse or notebook, you’ll be prepared to give them to someone. Who knows, just one track can make a difference in someone’s life. You can also help with Bible correspondences. Teaching through helping grade them and making comments that will inform and encourage the person taking the course.

Everyone needs to understand the true riches in life. What we have is not permanent. It can all be replaced, but our soul goal of heaven cannot be replaced, except by sin. When you’re a Christian, you’re the richest person on earth. So many people think money is important. It is to pay our bills and eat, but what about God’s riches? God has blessed us more than we can ever know. Here on earth, people use their riches as a “show.” They want people to think they have a lot and are important. Give me the humble Christian any day. When you have God’s riches, you are the richest person on earth!

The Christian must have the right attitude toward God’s Word. Do you keep your Bible ready to use? I have several Bibles I use. The one I keep in my office is filled with hand written notes, underlined passages and corners turned down. I love to use that Bible. It stays close at hand. Yes, I have a nice Bible I take to church and I have Bibles downloaded on my Kindle and tablet, but this one in my office is my favorite. Why? I know where everything is. I use it regularly. I respect it and all the others because they are the Word of God.

May God bless you richly in your study of His Word.

 

THE GREATEST MAN IN THE WORLD

April 7th, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland 

    “At war’s end, he stood alone at the pinnacle of power, but he never became drunk with that influence, as had so many generals before him, and treated his commission as a public trust to be returned as soon as possible to the people’s representatives” (Chernow, 457). The “he” of whom Chernow writes is General George Washington. We were taught growing up that humility was one of Washington’s highest virtues.

    Following the victory at Yorktown and the end of the Revolutionary War, Washington, as Chernow writes, was practically worshiped by the American people. He was a hero to so many, and more than a hero. It has not his victories that brought such praise. He lost more battles than he won. But he had tremendous perseverance. He was courageous in battle. He fought for his men who needed better pay and clothes. He tried to refrain his men from abusing their role as a soldier and protect homes and belongings of the private citizen.

    When the dust settled, Washington was left standing tall in the eyes of his countrymen. When the dust settled, Washington put down his sword. That act was nearly unprecedented in the annals of human history.

King George III had a court painter named Benjamin West. Following the revolution, George asked West of Washington’s ambition. Would he be the head of the army? He could have been a dictator. Would he be the head of state? He could have been king.

    But West informed King George that Washington’s sole ambition was to return to Mount Vernon and be a farmer. King George was struck by such meekness. “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world” (Chernow, 454).

    Of course, Washington is not the great man in the world. But his actions do give some context for understanding the great sacrifice that our Savior, Jesus Christ, made. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

    Jesus gave up the joys of heaven to come to earth. He had (at least) two opportunities to become king and He turned that down (Luke 4:5-6; John 6:15). But, nothing compares to the sacrifice Jesus made in coming to earth, to wash feet, to die for His creation. In fact, depending on the importance of Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 15:28 (see Mike Johnson’s study The Restructuring of Heaven), Jesus’ sacrifice may go even deeper than simply leaving heaven to come to earth: “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

    In light of this inspiring example of humility in our Lord, let us “do as He did” (see John 13:15).

PURITY IN YOUTH

April 4th, 2014 | By admin

By Aunt Mary

A number of things have been discussed in this blog about young people and their Christian journey. Yes, we are on a journey. A journey to Heaven. It’s my desire to be with all my family and friends, but to encourage them, I must keep my body pure. Even grandma’s have problems keeping themselves pure.

If you read Psalm 119, you can gain much of what David says about living a godly life. He gives us several instructions in that chapter. It is the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is also my favorite chapter. David is such a kind, compassionate writer. He is so honest with God in his prayers. Let’s look at a little about purity. I will admit that I’m taking this from a sermon our minister, Kevin Williams, preached a couple of months ago.  It has some very good ideas.

As a Christian we must live by God’s Word. Why? Because He is our Creator. Eccl. 12:1 gives us some good advice. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you shall say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” How true that is and how sad that you people do not think about remembering God when they are young. They always feel there will be time later to depend on God. So sad, many young people die each day.

We should seek God wholeheartedly through His Word. Study the Bible each day. Make it a habit to take time to study God’s Word. The NKJV says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The KJV says, “Study to show yourself approved.” In other words, we should study diligently.

Never wander from God’s Word, Psalm 119:4. “You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently.” When you study and spend time with Christians, you will not want to wander from what God tells us to do. I always wanted my children to have Christian friends, and if their friends were not Christians, we talked about what did and how they behaved.

We should treasure God’s Word. I remember Senator John McCain saying when he was in prisoner in North Vietnam that he quoted every verse in the Bible he could remembered. He treasured God’s Word. Even when he was attacked time and again by the guards, he remembered God Word. Respect God’s Word. Treasure it in your heart.

Next week, we’ll continue with this subject of youth and purity.

 

MY FEET CAME CLOSE TO STUMBLING

April 2nd, 2014 | By admin

By Katt Anderson

Psalm13:1-9 reads like this:” Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.

5 They are not in trouble as other [e]men,

Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
7 Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart [h]run riot.
8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue]parades through the earth.”

This psalm of Asaph is one we all can identify with. As Christians, we look at the world through different glasses. Non-believers see the world another way. First, there are some very rich Christians, but most of us are average in wealth. Sometimes living from paycheck to paycheck, but we see these people who will scheme, cheat and do evil to get their riches. “It isn’t fair,” we say. When we try to do what is right,we see others, doing evil and gaining so much more in riches, popularity and power.

When I was in school, the girls who gave themselves to the boys were the popular ones. I can’t remember a Christian being that popular. In some schools it may be different. In the business world, some who cheated made the top of the ladder, where those who were honest do not. That’s what Asaph is saying in this Psalm He almost gave in and went the route of his peers. He didn’t. He stayed faithful to God, but it does seem a shame that those who were doing evil are gaining so much. I had to chuckle when in verse four, he said they were fat. Riches of food? It’s not good for us.

When your faith is low, read Psalm 73, all of it. It is encouraging to see how Asaph realized how much God loved him and had cared for him. We don’t understand why these things happen to people. As a whole, we look at wealthy people as greedy, conniving and schemers. This is not always so.

Remember wealth is not always money. Look at your riches if you are a Christian. You have the love of God and are respected before men. You are kind, passionate and caring. Not everyone is like that and it hurts at times to be that way, but it is a good trait for a Christian. Where are your riches? Mine are in heaven. It doesn’t matter if you do not possess the newest car, biggest house or finest furniture. You have the love of God, and that’s what is important.

SPIRITUALITY, NOT RELIGION, MAKES KIDS HAPPY

March 31st, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland 

    That is great to know. The wisdom of the ages has enlightened our minds and illuminated our hearts.  Kids want to be spiritual but not religious! As a loving father, I now know exactly what to do for my two girls. They want to be spiritual.  Spirituality makes them happy.

    The article with the above title came from the on-line version of U. S. News and World Report.  The article author writes, “Specifically, the study shows that children who feel that their lives have meaning and value and who develop deep, quality relationships — both measures of spirituality, the researchers claim — are happier.” So, spirituality is defined by these researchers as 1.) understanding that life has meaning; 2.) understanding that life has value; 3.) developing deep, quality relationships.

    The study was conducted by three researchers with the University of British Columbia. In contrast with meaning, value, and quality relationships, “religion” was found to have no meaningful effect on happiness. Religion is only one “venue” for the experience of spirituality, according to the researchers and even at that it is – (gasp) institutionalized. People want to be spiritual but they are “less enthusiastic about the concept of God”. Attending church, praying, and meditating had little effect on children’s happiness. The children were ages 8-12.

    I believe psychology has a lot to offer. I’ve had classes in several areas of psychology, including developmental and educational psychology. But psychology is not a cure-all. “Spirituality” comes from the basic English word “spirit.” From whence came the spirit of man? “Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him…” (Zechariah 12:1).

    The spirit of a child comes from God, the Father. A child is composed of three components: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul of the child, in this verse, refers to his/her physical life – what separates him/her from dead & inanimate matter. The body, of course, is created at conception at the union of the parental cells. The spirit is the component of a child that instills in him/her the value of a sentient being, in contrast with animals.

If God is the creator of the spirit of the child, God knows what that spirit needs – to be healthy and happy.  That spirit needs the Word of God. The Old Testament prophet, Amos, pictured the day when the “beautiful virgins” and “young men” will faint from thirst.  They will stagger from sea to sea, from north to south seeking the Word of the Lord, but they will not find it.  Why? Because there was a famine in the land, not a famine for food or drink, but “for hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11-14).

God’s word teaches the child (and parent) what the child needs. Every child needs security, both from the parents and from God.  Every child needs encouragement, from earthly parents and the heavenly father.  Every child needs love.  Every child needs support.  Every child needs to be challenged to grow.  Every child needs patience.  Every child needs forgiveness.

If a child learns all that, he/she will know the meaning of life – it is to glorify God.  Every child will know the value of life – it caused God the death of His own Son.  Every child will know how to have deep, meaningful relationships – they come through Jesus Christ. Spirituality that does not submit to the Creator of the spirit is not spirituality – it is self-uality. It is self-worship.

Where did I learn all this? From psychology?  From the Bible.  That’s what children need. And the Bible teaches that they also need to attend worship, to pray, to meditate, and to know and understand the will of God.  But not just the children.  Grown-ups need it too.

If we all, regardless of age, would take these things seriously, we would all be happier.

HOW BUSY IS BUSY

March 26th, 2014 | By admin

By Katt Anderson

How busy are you? Sometimes I think I can’t do another thing in the 24 hours God has given me, but I usually find time to do what I want to do. When it comes to studying my craft of writing, I’ll put it off. If it’s a good book, I’ll find time to read it. It’s all in what we want to do with these 24 hours each day.

Last night our youngest granddaughter was baptized into Christ. I was in the middle of getting ready to go to a retreat and get a book published before we had to leave. It’s funny, but everything stopped and I went to the church building to watch my beautiful granddaughter be buried into Christ. This was the most important thing for me to do. We literally left everything to go the few miles.

A friend made the comment that she’d read the book I have just published instead of reading her Bible. I told her I had the remedy for that, get up 30 minutes earlier and read the Bible. If I read the Bible first thing, which is the most important thing for me to do to start the day, then I can make time to do other things. It’s all in what we want to do.

Today, I have several things that need to be done before the retreat. I know the Lord will bless me with the time I need, if I put Him first. When I get with my other writer friends, I’ll relax and rest.

What do you put first in your life? I was looking at Jace Robertson’s Twitter page and saw something that made me think. I know these folks are busy with filming and speaking about Duck Dynasty and their belief in God, but this was the order of importance to him, God and family were first. How refreshing to know some people believe that God should be first.

Even in the Old Testament we are told in Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your might.” That is the first commandment in the Ten Commandments. Jesus also told us to love the Lord as the first commandment in Mark 12:29-30 and Luke 10:27. Since this is talked about so much in both the Old and New Testament, I know I must put God first.

So, how busy is busy?We all make excuses to keep from doing what we don’t want to do. So many do the same with church services and reading the Bible. We must put God first and do His commandments first. Decide today that you will love the Lord first and foremost, above job, family and money. You will enjoy life so much more when you do.

WHO IS SUPERSTITIOUS?

March 24th, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland 

    Christians are broadly portrayed as being gullible and superstitious. This is largely because we believe in a God whom we cannot see. We cannot examine Him in a laboratory or put Him under a microscope. The word “superstitious” comes from Latin, super (meaning “over”) and stare (meaning “to stand”). Thus, a “standing over” something, in awe. In common parlance, it means an “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings; a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.”

     Whether Christianity per se is an “excessively credulous” belief for an “unjustified” belief is outside the purview on my thoughts here. You and I certainly would not say that our faith is unjustified but I sure hope it is excessive!

     Anyway, we associate “superstitions” with beliefs in Big Foot or UFOs. In the early 80’s, Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge published a study they did of college students. This study was presented in theSkeptical Inquirer, a humanist magazine. The ones who were not religious were the most likely to belief in occult teachings and paranormal activity. Christians, especially the more active Christians, were the least likely to have such beliefs.

     For example, Dr. Rodney Stark writes in America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists, that irreligious college students were three times as likely as Christian students to place a high value on tarot readings, seances, and psychic hearings. More than 60% of the non-religious agreed with the statement “UFOs are probably real spaceships from other worlds” (pg 155).

     In 2005, Baylor University presented the results of their National Religious Survey. This study examined American’s beliefs in: dreams that foretell the future or reveal hidden beliefs, ancient advanced civilizations (like Atlantis) existed, places can be haunted, one can influence the physical world through the mind alone, UFOs, communication with the dead, Big Foot and Loch Ness monsters exist, astrology impacts one’s life, and palm readers and fortune tellers.

     Briefly, African-Americans were more likely than whites to exhibit a high belief in these things (41% vs 26%). Women (33%) were more likely than men (18%). Under 30s were more likely (41%) than over 60 (16%). Unmarried (43%) and never married (39%) were more likely than married (23%) and widowed (21%). Democrats were more likely (38%) than Republicans (15%). In a remarkable way, education showed no signs of influencing the beliefs. If someone only finished high school, 26% had a high degree of faith in these beliefs; 23% of those with postgraduate education.

     Now, as to religion. Those who worship on a weekly basis, only 14% registered a high degree of faith in those matters related to the occult and paranormal beliefs. Those who never worship, 30% have a high degree of such faith. Within denominations, those from a conservative church (like Baptists) were less credulous than those from liberal churches (like Episcopalians).

    Dr. Stark’s conclusion: “For those concerned about shielding young people from the prevalent occult and paranormal beliefs in our society, it would seem unavailing to send them to college, but quite effective to have them attend a conservative Sunday school” (158).

    Our God and His Son are being vindicated from every angle!

TURNING IT LOOSE, GOD THOUGHT OF IT FIRST

March 17th, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland 

    A woman in her early forties was molested to a certain degree by her older brother when they were young, living at home. She struggled with that pain for a decade or longer. It affected her psychologically and she eventually went to see a counselor or psychologist. He/she advised this woman to write her brother a letter – plain and to the point, telling how he had hurt her, etc. But, she was not to mail it. She was, in fact, to burn it. She did and eventually she was able to reconcile with her brother and feel safe and comfortable again in his presence.

    That is a method of dealing with negative experiences that is often recommended by counselors. Some troubles can only be dealt with by leaving them behind. Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her fascinating book The Myths of Happiness, talks about “sealing” such bad experiences in a “box.” This can even work with problems in your marriage, which is the context in which Ms. Lyubomirsky discusses this idea.

Writing about negative experiences, to the degree that the process makes you relive those experiences, can be more troubling and stressful, at first. But, write it out. Write as long as it takes to discuss all the details you feel need to be “exposed.” Write as long as you must in order to “make” the other person feel/understand how their behavior made/makes you feel.

    Then, fold up the paper(s), put them in an envelope, seal it with tape or glue, and then give it away. Or throw it away. Or burn it. Lyubomirsky writes: “It turns out that the physical act of sealing, enclosing, or locking up helps us attain psychological closure over our problems and heartaches” (67).

    One word translated “forgive” is found in Mark 1:4: “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” “Forgiveness” here is aphesis. The cognate verb is also found in Mark 1, verse 18, when Jesus called Peter and Andrew to be His disciples. “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” “Left” translates the Greek verb aphiemi. Forgiving is “leaving.” It means “turning loose.” Like the Israelites sending the “scapegoat” into the wilderness, bearing their sins on its head (Lev. 16).

    Consider “forgiveness” in this light, from God’s perspective: “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

    Whether the harm was done in the past or it is current, one way to deal with it is to turn it loose. Forgive. Writing about it, sealing it in an envelope, burning it, may bring some resolve.

THE FATHER’S HUMILITY

March 12th, 2014 | By admin

By Paul Holland 

    George Washington – as you well know – is rightly portrayed as the “Father of our Country.” I wish to share an anecdote with you that illustrates his character, specifically his humility. May we emulate the Christian virtues we see around us as they are a reflection of the nature of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).

    Early in the Revolutionary War, General Washington had a series of misfortunes. The Patriots lost Boston and they lost New York. They were, early at least, no match for the professionally trained British army.

During these emotionally-trying times, General Washington needed a confidante. This was in the summer, June, of 1776. He turned to his adjutant general, Joseph Reed. Reed, himself, harbored his own doubts about Washington’s ability to effectively lead the military.  Joseph Reed, in turn, confided those doubts to Charles Lee, an ambitious and cocky man in his own right.

    In November, Washington sent a letter to Lee, asking for help in Philadelphia. Reed slipped his own note into the satchel with Washington’s letter to Lee. In this letter, Reed suggested to Lee that General Washington’s own staff did not have much confidence in him and that he was too irresolute. Reed even suggested that it was to the praise of Lee that America’s army was still able to fight! Reed also advocated that he and Lee should go to Congress and form a new army.

    A letter from Lee returned, which Washington, in all honesty, thought was directed to him relative to his need for Lee in Philadelphia. Along with news that Lee was not going to do that, there was also a private letter from Lee to Joseph Reed. In that letter, Lee refers to Reed’s letter and agrees with Reed’s assessment of Washington’s vacillations. He suggested that this was even worse than stupidity or lack of courage. It dawned on Washington that Lee was quoting and alluding to an earlier letter from Joseph Reed.

    You can imagine how hurt and let down Washington felt. But here’s an indication of the man inside the man. He wrote a letter to Reed and sent along the letter from Lee. In that letter, he made no reference to Reed’s opinion of him and assured him that he had not inclination nor intention to read the private letter. In essence, Washington was apologizing to the man who owed him an apology! How mature is that?

    In took about six months for Reed to acknowledge and apologize to Washington for his indiscretion and Washington accepted the apology.

    Humility. The English word comes from the Latin which means “soil” or “earth.” It also gives us the word humus. It means to lower yourself for the benefit of another.

    “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10). I am still reading Washington: A Lifeby Ron Chernow. We’ll see how the relationship between Washington and Reed develops. But we all know how it ends with Washington. First, humility, then exaltation.


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