More Boring than a Wheel

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (Exodus 20:9, 10, 11).

A CBS News story reported in May that Jews and Christians made up the idea of the 7-day week as a form of time slavery. The “week is man-made, arbitrary, a substance not found in nature.”

Instead of time being a continual revolving cycle of renewal, “Judeo-Christians decided that time was actually linear, beginning at creation and moving toward end times. This idea stuck—and it’s way more boring than a wheel.” To improve the conquest of time, the author of the report said we must elevate the weekend, which she claims was invented by socialist-minded politicians.

If you think that socialism is compatible with Christianity, here’s more proof you’re wrong.

God has a different idea about time than communists. The Bible says that He created the idea of a 7-day week when He created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh. It’s not man-made, it is inherent in His creation.

Instead of conquering time, we must be living circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Our Citizenship

German officer coat and hat 6.2016My son is finishing his third year of German language in high school. He loves it! Every conversation is littered with Deutch words and phrases. He listens to their music, follows German politics and politicians and is planning to move to Germany. It seems that everything he thinks of has a German slant to it. Fortunately he’s not scouring the internet for a German fraulein! … at least not yet.

Though the United States is his home and has been the home of his family for 6 generations, he keeps his mind and eyes on another land. It’s a land he’s never visited, but he’s heard about, read about, and has his heart set upon.

The Bible says of Christians: Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

It seems we often forget this truth because our minds, eyes, and hearts get too wrapped up in the things of this earth. We forget that Heaven is our true home and homeland. We fail to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).

It’s hard not to be consumed by the things in the land where we reside and what we naturally know, but remember Christian friend, your citizenship in not in this world. Heaven is your eternal home.

A New Commandment

two churchesMore than thirty years ago, it was my first stint as a youth pastor and our Youth Extravaganza! was going to be amazing. One of the old-time leaders of our denomination was going to preach a “wing-ding” of a message. There would be special music and ice cream sundaes afterward.

We printed up fliers and posters, and sent letters to every church in our city. We went out of our way to specially invite the other churches of our denomination.

The big night came – but only the youth in our own church showed up.

I was terribly embarrassed. I was embarrassed for myself and my youth who worked so hard to invite others. I was ashamed that no other churches, especially those of our denomination, showed up. I was horrified for our guest who preached to a near-empty auditorium.

Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I experienced this kind of Christian fellowship.

Churches located next to each other, with near identical beliefs, won’t cooperate. Each group is concerned in protecting its own money and attendance figures.

Just as bad, Christians live next door to each other and won’t even speak.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

Many but One

Different but NecessaryAs long as there are two people left on planet earth, no matter who they are, they’re going to be different.

I’m often told how much my son looks like me. Looking back at photographs of the two of us, there are many similarities. One of my favorite pictures is of a 1-year old Daniel and I sitting on the couch eating pickles: same facial expression, same hairline, same everything … but he’s still very different from me.

We sometimes consider our differences as weaknesses. It’s why we want the same new technology, teens demand the same style of basketball shorts, and we’re shamed into group-think.

But consider your body. Your ear is important. So is each finger, toe, and nerve ending. Even the parts of our bodies that medical science used to say have no valuable function, like the appendix, we now know are vitally important to a healthy life.

Being different is a strength rather than a weakness when we are found in Jesus. Being free to possess and share a different opinion, gift, function, or skill is an advantage when we’re using those differences for the good of the whole. We all need each other. We need the strengths that only others can bring to our own weaknesses.

The body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body … (First Corinthians 12:12).

Jesus brings different people together in His body for His praise, glory, and service.

Being There

not-the-same-as-being-there“I’m not going on vacation this year. I’m just going to watch a video about the Grand Canyon.”

“A Honeymoon? We’ll just listen to your Mom and Dad tell us about their own while we look at photos.”

“Hospitals make me queasy. My wife will tell me about the birth of our first son later from the comfort of our own home.”

“I’m not going to Great-Grandma’s 100th birthday party. Gonna watch the video on Facebook later.”

“I don’t go to church. I watch a preacher on the tv Sunday morning.”

Going to church isn’t just another routine event. It is our opportunity to hear God speak to us through His Word and fellowship with other believers around Him. There isn’t anything routine about it!

There may be times when physical circumstances make it impossible to get to church on a given Sunday, but like so many other things in life, actually being with other Christians to worship God can’t be conveyed any other way than being there in person!

Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24).

God is Love

god-is-loveFor God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). 

God is good and He is also love. It is His love, after all, that motivated Him to send Jesus into this world.

Love is more than something God shows, it is who He is (1 John 4:8). It is His nature.

Our fallen nature is not to love but to hate. Contrary to what the world says, kids don’t learn to hate, they hate because they are sinners. Cain’s hatred of Abel flowed out of his sinful heart.

Our human idea of love is very selfish. Look at the “love and hugs” crowd which is intolerant of those who don’t have their sappy vision of a humanistic world. They “love” you as long as you’re a liberal. That’s the sinful world’s concept of love. It’s based on a value of return. As Christians, our ideas and values flow from the Bible. The world’s love doesn’t describe God’s love or the love that He expects from us.

God’s love is not based on anything in us or even about us. As sinners, enemies, and haters of God, we are wholly unlovable (Romans 5:5-11). In me no good thing dwells (Romans 7:18).

Just as God is eternal (Jeremiah 31:3), so is His love. He didn’t decide one day when we did something pleasing that He’d love us. As His elect, He loved us before the world was even created (Ephesians 1:4). His love, which had no beginning, also has no ending!

He loves whom He chooses. As twins, Jacob and Esau had the same parents, were born at the same time, and raised the same way, yet God loved Jacob and hated Esau (Malachi 1:1; Romans 9:13). His love is as sovereign as He is, dependent upon nothing but the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). It is immeasurable and inseparable (Romans 8:35-39).

God’s love isn’t emotional, for emotions change upon circumstances. His love is holy and pure, and thus He cannot wink at sin. Love does not let sin have its own way or go unpunished (Hebrews 12:6). Love does what is best for the loved one, and so God gave Jesus to die for us

The Sanctity of the Unborn Baby

abortionThere are 233 countries and protectorates in the world. Of these countries, 210 have a population less than 60 million people. This is significant, because since 1973, more than 60 million babies have been aborted in the United States.

Let’s put it another way: More American babies have been murdered in the past 43 years than people who inhabit 210 countries of the world!

Many people do not understand that when abortion was legalized in the US in January of 1973, it became legal to get an abortion until the moment of birth.

Those with even a passing knowledge of the Bible are aware of what God says about the sanctity of human life in the womb (Exodus 21:22-25; Job 10:8-12; 31:15; Psalm 22:10; 127:3-5; 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:2; 49:1, 5; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Luke 1:15, 41; Galatians 1:15). Yet, there is a full disconnect in the minds of Americans who claim to be Christians.

Many people rightly decry the wicked and evil actions of Hitler and Stalin for their murder of Jews, homosexuals, and the handicapped, yet voted for candidates willing to do much worse by preying and profiting off the most helpless in society, the unborn. They had no difficulty voting for candidates who advance abortion rights and the illegal sale of the dismembered baby body parts for profit.

The only conclusion is that these voters are either woefully ignorant of what God says about an unborn baby or are wilfully rebellious toward Him.

Yes, God will judge us on how we vote; how we vote is an extension of our belief system. The protection of life created originally in God’s image must be an utmost priority of the Christian voter.

The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His, ” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19).

In a four weeks, people around the world will celebrate the birth of a Babe in Bethlehem. As Christians we must be careful to reflect our faith and our Father’s heart in all we do – including how we vote.

Goat Head Soup

Grace and Glory Church
A goat I was given by two women from the Grace and Glory Church.

I preached all day at the Grace and Glory Church in Kwa-Matingi, Kenya. Pastor Benedict Muendo ordered a goat killed and cooked in my honor.

Americans eat turkey for special occasions; in Kenya it’s goat. The head is boiled into a soup and the honored male guest is served the head and its broth which he shares with the old men. Fortunately for me, the head needed a day longer to fully cook than I was available!

When I was told that we would be eating a goat, my American sensibilities kicked in and I said, “Ewwww! I’ll pass.” We ate the goat like good guests, and greatly enjoyed it once we got past the “ewwww” factor.

There are some groups in the Christian tradition which forbid the eating certain kinds of meat on religious grounds. These groups, like the Seventh Day Adventists, base their beliefs on the Law of Moses given to the ancient nation of Israel (Deut 1:1; 14:3-7).

Through the grace of God given in Jesus, Christians are not bound to the Law of Moses; and the New Testament permits Christians to eat all meats. Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons … commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is set apart by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:1, 3-5).

Paul writes that all creatures are good for food because God created all creatures. To reject a certain kind of meat on religious grounds is to reject the goodness of God. As long as the meat is eaten with thanks to the good God who created it, Christians are free to eat … even goat.

*** Click here to see video & photos and hear Kamba music from our 2016 ministry in Kenya.

Waiting and Waiting

Waiting at the airportA Dutch man was hospitalized in July after waiting in a Chinese airport for a woman who never arrived to meet him.

Alexander Cirk, age 41, met a Chinese woman through an online dating site. After two months of conversations, Cirk flew to Hunan, China to meet the woman he expected to marry. During his 10 days waiting in the airport for her, Cirk slept, ate and drank little until he was taken to the hospital and treated for exhaustion.

The Chinese woman thought Cirk’s message of his visit was a joke. While he sat in the airport waiting for her, she underwent plastic surgery.

Christians have the amazing promise from Jesus that He is coming again to receive His people unto Himself. I go to prepare a place for you … I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2, 3).

While we wait for Him to fulfill His promise, we do not simply sit and wait like Mr Cirk in the airport; we busy ourselves in Christ’s work, preaching the gospel that Jesus died to reconcile sinners to the Father, living each day in His worshipful service.

We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Sue Happy

A Sue-Happy ChurchIt was a blistering hot day near the end of summer as three generations picnicked at the edge of the lake. While the adults got drunk, the small children splashed in the cool water. A few hours later, two of the adults and two children had drown; none could swim.

Relatives of the family have now filed a 4-million dollar lawsuit against the county for not warning that drowning can occur in water.

We live in a lawsuit-crazed society where court cases are continually televised as entertainment. A litigious world is nothing new, however. The Apostle Paul had to give the church members in the ancient city of Corinth a stern correction about this very problem. Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints … brother goes to law against brother … it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another (1 Corinthians 6:1, 6, 7).

The Corinthians were so used to arguing and fighting among themselves that their bef0re-Christ behavior carried over into their new lives. Paul called it shameful! His rebuke wasn’t because Christians couldn’t get a fair-shake in the courts or that wrongs among themselves were petty. The problem was that they didn’t respect their fellow believers to mediate their disagreements.

When Christians sue one another in the courts we’re saying to the world  that we don’t have the wisdom among ourselves to know or determine right from wrong. We, who will one day judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2) are unable to judge our own problems.

A believer may win a judgment against a Christian brother in a court of law, but he’s lost his case spiritually and morally in God’s Supreme Court.