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Love your neighbor?
February 19, 2018, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , , ,

As a Christian I try to practice the teaching of Jesus Christ in my daily life. In a conversation with a lawyer (a religious lawyer), one who studied the Law as found in the Jewish Scriptures. The passage is found in the gospel of Luke:
Luk 10:25-27 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (26) He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (27) And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (English Standard Version)
Jesus then answered him that he had spoken correctly and should do as the law required. The Lawyer asked him, “Who is my neighbor”. Jesus then told a story about a man who had been left for dead on a road side by robbers. A priest walked on the road and saw the man lying there and crossed over to the other side so as not to touch the possibly dead man and become unclean. A Levite then came by also a form of priest, somewhat like the deacons in many churches, he too passed by on the other side.

Then along came a Samaritan, seeing the man he went to him, bandaged him as best he could and cleaned out the wounds. Put the man on his animal and took him to an inn. The next day as he was leaving, he handed the innkeeper a goodly sum of money and asked him to take care of the man, anything more that he had to do above the amount that he was given, the Samaritan said he would pay upon his return.

Now we must understand that Samaritans were hated by Jewish people and would normally have nothing to do with them. Jesus asked the Lawyer who was the one who was neighbor to the injured man. The Lawyer replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” He could not just say the Samaritan, they were lower than any Jewish person. He did however realize that Jesus was teaching him that all people are our neighbors.

Since we have removed God from our normal day, no more prayer in schools, no more Bible reading, God is no longer a part of our daily lives in the greater world in which we live. We now have 60 million dead babies, we have school shootings, we have gang violence, drugs are pervasive in our society, we have sexual promiscuity, with children having children, divorce rates have skyrocketed, and marriage is no longer something that is revered.

Evil is rampant in our society, and yet the government says they can solve this problem by just removing guns from law abiding citizens. Problem, then only criminals will be armed, police are armed but cannot come to your aid before you are killed by those criminals. Police are valiant men and women but they cannot stop a crime from happening, they can only react to the crime that has happened. It is my belief that we need to allow for teachers who are licensed concealed carriers to carry on campus, but it is also necessary that we rid ourselves of the “politically correct” crowd in our midst and wake up to the reality of the need for God to be a part of our every day lives.

If God is allowed back into our public square then the teaching of Jesus, of things like “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Blessed are the peacemakers” will be taught and become a part of our very lives again. We also need to speak up when we see something that seems out of place in our neighborhood, to help avert a suicide, or murder. I know that growing up in New York City, I do not remember teen suicides, or death and destruction on every street. I also don’t remember the hatred I see today in our nation. I grew up in an integrated neighborhood, we played baseball, football, basketball together, there was no thought about black or white, just who was the best pitcher or quarterback. We fought with each other, but it was verbal, very rare was it a fist fight.

We had bullies, but we took care of that too, we stuck together and did what was necessary to take care of one another. We loved our neighbors, even the two German kids on the street, (Joke) we were German, Italian, Irish and African. We did not hyphenate our ethnicity, we did not need to, we were and are Americans. Ethnicity did not make any difference. I blame the government, liberal professors, and lawyers for the mess we are in today. We need more of Christ and less of division in our nation, because we are in the midst of destroying this Republic in which we live. Remember I said Republic, not democracy.

I cannot in good conscience ask God to bless America, for we no longer bless God which we used to do regularly. Our nation is now in the midst of total breakdown, and if we continue on this path we shall end up in groups and perhaps it will be another civil war, and this one will destroy our republic.

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Christmas
December 20, 2017, 8:55 am
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: ,

As we again come upon the celebration of Christmas in the year 2017, I wanted to remind myself and those who read my words of what this season is really all about. We will read the story in our Church this Sunday night at our Christmas Eve Service. We shall again hear that the child is born in a barn, and placed in a feed trough because there was no room in the inn.

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But will we hear that there is more to this story than just that a child is born, a Son is given? You see, the birth of the child, fully human baby boy, fully also GOD, is just one part of the story of Christmas. There is a great deal more to this story. There is the death of `100’s of children in Bethlehem 2 years later as the King Herod tries to find and destroy this baby who is the King of Israel in the line of David.

There is the growing up of Jesus in Egypt and in Nazareth in Galilee, becoming a carpenter, experiencing all the stuff that you and I experience. Hurt when you hit the wrong nail with the hammer, pain when a loved one dies, joy when there is celebration at a wedding. All the stuff you and I have in our own lives, happiness and sorrow, pain and suffering, he experienced.

Then, he experienced the worst pain of all, death as a criminal on a Roman Cross outside Jerusalem. That’s right he died a criminals death, because we, yes we humans were all guilty of the crime of rejecting God and His way of living our lives. Not the onerous laws that the Religious elites had stamped on society, no not that way. Jesus taught the truth of the way to live a proper God fearing life:

Mat 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (37) And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment. (39) And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (40) On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

We don’t live that way, we see instead hatred, war, and famine, that is not what He came to teach. Since we humans seem to have a propensity to ignore that which we profess to believe, Jesus had to die to save us from our sins. He died for all, but we have to be willing to surrender our lives, our lusts our sins to God in the name of Jesus Christ, and name him as LORD of our lives, in order for us to become new persons in God’s Kingdom.

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You see, none of us is perfect, none of us live without sin in our lives, even after we accept the sacrifice for ourselves, we still sin. Jesus lived a sinless life, and therefore he could be our sacrifice. That is what the Christmas story really is all about. Yes it is a wonderful story about the birth of the child in Bethlehem of Judea, and all that goes with that birth. However, without the cross at the end of that life, there is no atonement for sin, we would have no hope.

I wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas, and I pray that if you do not have a personal relationship with the one who we celebrate at this time, please get right with God. The scripture says: Rom 6:23 ESV For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.



Heaven or Hell?
April 23, 2017, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Church Stuff, God | Tags: , , ,

Jud 1:3-16 ESV Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (4) For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (5) Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (6) And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– (7) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (8) Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. (9) But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (10) But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. (11) Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. (12) These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; water-less clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; (13) wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (14) It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, (15) to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (16) These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

We talk a lot today about false teaching and how the Church has strayed so far from the truth of the gospel. Yet as the letter of Jude shows us this began very early in the Church, we find that there was such a problem that instead of talking about that which was the way, Jude felt the Spirit leading in a different direction. The direction that the Spirit wants him to take is to show the necessity to contend for the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”
What is the truth he is speaking of? It is that which we find enshrined in our Old and New Testament books. We have all the doctrine that God has for us to know, and to follow, if someone says he or she has received a new revelation from God, they are lying, there is no new revelation from God. Jude will go on to explain what he means, in that the truth was delivered to us through Jesus Christ, and the Apostles who established the church throughout the world of that day. There are many who take what the scriptures say and twist it to fit the way of the world, instead of the Kingdom of God.
The Bible tells us that the Devil is the Liar in Chief, he is the leading deceit deliverer to the world. The devil knows the scriptures and knows how to twist them to his own benefit. Where we see that the gospel delivers us to freedom from sin, false teachers will use it to say that we are free indeed to practice any thing we want. We are free from sin so we can sin all the more. That teaching was prevalent then and it is so today, God’s people need to stand against this deceit.
Jude 1:4 tells us that those who tell these lies will have to pay the price for their lies and sinfulness in lying to people. The gospel makes it clear, Jesus chastised the Scribes and Pharisees for being false teachers, and the scripture tells us that those who are leaders in the church that are also deceivers will pay the price as well. There is only one Lord and God, Jesus the Christ is the one who saves and sets free, free to live as God intended us to live. It is our duty to stand for the truth, no matter who we must stand against. If what a teacher, preacher or other leader in the church tells you something that disagrees with the scriptures, stand against that teaching.
I went to a conference of the United Methodist Church one year, the discipline of the United Methodist Church states clearly that they are to abstain from alcohol because of its negative impact on morality.
As we were enjoying our lunch in a restaurant in Corpus Christi, I noted that at a table near Yvonne and I were a couple of the leaders of the Church, also eating lunch, they had a bottle of wine on the table and were enjoying their lunch and their drinks. Hypocrisy of course since they knew what the teaching was, and it was also taught in the scriptures. As the apostle Paul wrote in Eph 5:18 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not with alcohol.
The point being we are to be like our Lord as much as we can, yes, Jesus drank wine, however, he did so in moderation. He expects us to act accordingly, staying sober, but filled with the Holy Spirit and working to keep ourselves in holiness as much as we can as sinful human beings.

In verse 5 Jude talks about those who rebelled against Moses and God in the wilderness after their escape from Egypt. In the book of Numbers 13 and 14 God acts against those who are rebelling and they are destroyed from the face of the earth. Those who pervert the word of God who rebel against God are slated to spend eternity in hell, those who strive to live in the way of God will instead reach the holy land, Heaven where they will live in the presence of God for eternity. Those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, are destined to live in Heaven, those who reject Jesus Christ, will also live forever, in hell. Jude goes on to show what happened to all who flouted the way of life that God had set down from the beginning. Sodom and Gomorrah, and many others all who have or will pay the price for their rebellion against God. Beginning in verse 6 and going through verse 16 we see the litany of those who will suffer eternal damnation. It hurts me to see this nation of ours going the way of all of Europe, chasing after the lie that there are alternative ways of life when God has clearly said there is only one right way to live. Again the Apostle Paul wrote that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” He also says that “the wages of sin is death.” All sin earns the same wage, whether it is telling a lie, or, cursing God, adultery or another sexual sin. Disrespecting your parents, or, perjuring yourself. Hell awaits those who blaspheme God, those who refuse to accept their need for a savior, God will not be mocked, he is in control.

Jud 1:17-23 ESV But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. (18) They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” (19) It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. (20) But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (21) keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (22) And have mercy on those who doubt; (23) save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Jude now goes on telling us we must remember that there will be those who scoff at the gospel, working to serve the flesh instead of the maker of the flesh we live in. There are people who work hard to divide us, one against another, closing down any faithful group of people by finding and exploiting any weakness in our church. Remember that Satan is the great deceiver, and will work to exploit any weakness in our faith walk. Do not just listen to the Sunday message, read the verses for yourself, is the message true to the gospel or is it false? Study the word of God every day, even if just a short passage, just keep up diligent study to be sure you are able to answer the scoffer with the truth.
The question you must ask yourself is, “Who am I?” Am I truly the child of the King or am I a child of the devil. Do I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, that He died and was raised from the dead to bring me salvation for sin? Or do I believe the scoffers who say there is no God and this is the only life there is. Which one do you believe? If it is the scoffer, then you are destined to an eternity in Hell with Satan and all his minions. If you have believed that you are a child of the King, have confessed with your tongue that Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior and Lord, then Heaven awaits.
Jud 1:24-25 ESV Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, (25) to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude closes with a Doxology, a short piece that tells us exactly who Jesus Christ is and what happens to those who believe.
We find that Jesus is the only one who can keep us from stumbling, the only one who can present us blameless in heaven by the power of his blood spilled on the cross at Calvary by which we are saved for all eternity from sin and death. Then Jude goes on to show us that it is Jesus Christ, who is the only God and our Savior. God himself came and lived as a Jewish lad, lived a sinless life, and then gave his life an atonement for my sin and your sin. We are set free when we recognize that we are sinners and that Jesus died on that cross, to allow us to be reconciled to our Holy God. Also by his resurrection, we too are guaranteed resurrection one day to be with him in heaven.
Lift your voices in praise for the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who saves, and we are the ones in need of salvation.

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What Is This Hatred doing to Political Discourse?
March 16, 2017, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , ,

I find myself in a quandary these days as I see people acting as if the world is coming to an end, and it is all because Donald Trump is now the President and he wants to destroy America. I hear a great deal about our “democracy” and how he is taking away our freedoms, and wants to deport millions of Mexicans who are here as immigrants. They forget the word illegal when they refer to these poor immigrants. Then a professor wants to allow a discussion to be held in his university and instead a horrible riot erupts, people do not want to allow this person to speak. Why? Because he has different views than they do and so his right to speech is offensive and he cannot therefore be allowed to voice his views.

Women wandering around in a big crowd, with signs saying they are against this, that, and the other thing, and wearing hats that are supposed to be a female sexual organ, what kind of people are these, and then one of them decides she will confess that she wants to blow up the white house. Where is the secret service? Why is this woman walking free? She wants to kill the president and any body else who happens to be in the White House at the time. Oh and we cannot forget Snoop Dog, who has a video out showing him shooting a clown made up like President Trump, where is the Secret Service on that one?

The Democrats promised that they would do everything they can to stop President Trump, and they have some lackey judges who are willing to join them in this, so they block a LEGAL  order from the President of the United States to work to protect our nation. A limited time ban on people who do not have legal status to travel to our country while they put in place a better system for vetting those who are coming from these countries. It was OK when President Obama declared these countries as not able to come into our nation because of the same reason that President Trump had for his executive order.

The President stands up and addresses the Legislative branch of Government in a joint session, and the opposition won’t even stand to honor a widow, instead the widow is castigated by democrats and made to look like she was being used. The Democrats are no longer the loyal opposition, they are just the enemy of anything like civil discourse. As for Hollywood, they are the haters of the year, I did not watch any of their self-congratulation shows since I knew it was going to be a bash the President at every opportunity. I was of course correct in my assumption.

Perhaps, I have gotten too old (72), I remember civil discourse in the house of government, even when there was disagreement, it was still civil. Now, it is a war, and it is one that says take no prisoners, destroy everything that the other wants to do and if needed destroy the nation just so we win! Well, if they keep it up, none of us win, we all lose because there will be no government, no country, we will be a third-rate power after the destruction of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and even our Morality, which is already in tatters.

I don’t like the country that I see, I find it to be a dirty, dismal place, full of hatred and discord, and violence and I see no future for us if this continues. Listening to rhetoric from the fascist democrats I believe it will continue until there is no country left, they will destroy the nation trying to destroy the Presidency, because of their blind hatred of the man who holds the office.

I pray for our nation, but I am afraid that God has begun to withdraw his hand from America, his protection is no longer on us. Don’t sing God bless America, pray rather that God will forgive our iniquity, will forgive our hatred, our immorality, our telling God we don’t want him in our midst. Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and here we are rejecting his teaching, so we can get drunk, have sex, abort babies, marry our same-sex partners, and all in the name of Secularism/Fascism. Forcing those who disagree with the hell we are making on earth, to pay fines and to close up their businesses because they still believe in the God of the universe.

If this is the world you want, I am glad that I belong to Jesus Christ, and this is not my home!

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How do we treat the stranger?
February 12, 2017, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , ,

I ask that question, because it does matter how we treat those who come to our country. If they come as a legal immigrant, have we checked to see that they really want to become a part of the citizenry? Have we ascertained what they believe about our nation, and what they are coming here for? I do believe we have the right to insure that people who come to live in our nation should be checked out, vetted if you will, because to be truthful there have been quite a few people who came to our country with our death in their minds, and that is not a good thing for us.

I grew up in New York City, Staten Island to be precise,  in a neighborhood that had a lot of kids my age, we played games, from hide and seek, to football, baseball and other games. Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, Soldiers and other things. We did not think about who was what nationality, we did not worry about differences, we worried about who would win the games we played. We shared food and drink, we would go to each others homes when someone was BBQing and enjoyed being together.

In the reality of our time 1950’s and 60’s, we did not worry about anything except what was the next game we would play, and who was on who’s side. Then along came the late 60’s and we found ourselves watching people setting fire to their own neighborhoods, and none of us, black, white or yellow, could honestly understand why? It never has made sense to me why people will burn down homes, stores and whatever else might be handy.

My mother worked at the World Trade Center, she passed away in 1974, so she was not there when 2001 happened. That too made no sense, why did those people hate us so much that they had to kill and destroy? Fast forward to today, why do these people hate us so much they have to destroy and kill, maim and just plain hurt those others?

Let me go to the Holy Bible, since I am a retired Pastor, because I think it is important that we treat others properly. Here is what God says about the stranger living in our land. Granted, in this particular passage he is talking about the Jewish people: Num_15:15 For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. (ESV) Also here is another passage, Num 15:16 ESV One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” Notice that there is to be one law and one rule for all who live in the land. In other words, if someone wants to come and live among us, they must be willing to live as we do, not separate, together under the same rule of law as we live under.

So how do we treat the stranger among us today? Mat 25:35-40 ESV For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ If we are to be true, moral people, then we treat those who come among us as we would want to be treated. Jesus told the story of the Samaritan who came upon a Jewish man lying almost dead in the road, he bound up his wounds took him to the nearest inn and paid the innkeeper to care for the man. Others had passed by and left the man for dead, but not the man of Samaria. He did what was right and proper. At the same time what if that man wanted to live under his own law, instead of the law of the land?

Again according to the scriptures, anyone who wants to come and live in your land, must live under the same law as you live. Therefore if the stranger comes and wants to live in your land, he or she must agree to live under the same laws as you do. What we see is that people coming into our country, want to change our country to what they were used to in their old country. This is not how it works, therefore, when the stranger comes to our land, we must ascertain whether or not they will live under our way of life or not. If the person does not want to live as we do, then they will not be welcome in our land.

Going back to living in New York City, when I worked on Wall Street, I could eat lunch every day in a different type of place. Italian, Chinese, Polish, Caribbean or American. The folks who ran those restaurants, were citizens, and lived as all of us live, and they too would go to different places themselves, because we all enjoyed the differences, but still were all Americans.

We speak of being a nation of immigrants, and that is true to an extent, however, we are also a nation of people who have a shared history, and we should be sharing that history with all who come to our country to live so that they can assimilate into society. We have forgotten that our ancestors had to assimilate into the society and they did so. We cannot last as a nation if we do not assimilate these newer folks into our society, instead, we will continue to see the hatred blossom until we find ourselves in the midst of a civil war, which will dwarf the one in the 1860s, too many have already been killed, we need to get ourselves back into the beauty of our history, the beauty of our nation. It is always working to get better, but lately we are reverting to hate and forgetting where our nation was, and now is going. Let us not lose our history to the idea that we must get rid of that which is not what we want to hear or see.

All these cries for safe spaces, and clean talk, are really destroying who we are. We have always cherished the fact that we can have conversation with others who are different and always still get along. However, today it seems that those who want to hear only their own voices will do anything to silence those who have different ideas. Whether it is Global Warming, or politics or whatever it might be. Believe me we are actually hurting ourselves, terribly by not allowing ourselves to hear dissenting opinions, it may just be that we find that those who differ also have some good ideas.

How do we treat the stranger? With respect, and honor, not with automatic hatred.

Tell me what you think, leave a comment, that we might have a conversation.

 

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It’s Christmas Time Again
December 10, 2016, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , ,

I love the Christmas season, although I have to admit, not as much as I used to. We are well into the time of preparation, or Advent as it is known in most of the mainline churches. It is supposed to be a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child into the world. Of course he has already come and completed his time on earth over 2000 years ago, but we celebrate the birth every year anyway, just as we celebrate the birth of our children and of course ourselves.

The thing is, the birth date, December 25th of each year, really is not important, it doesn’t make any difference if we have the right date or not. Yet there are those who will get very upset if you tell them that the date was probably not December 25th, but probably earlier like in late September or early October, which some of the “scholars” will tell you is the truth. Well so what? You see, it is not important when Christ was born, the truth is it is only important that he was born.

The important item or date for the early Church and for you and I is the date of the crucifixion and resurrection, without the crucifixion, the birth means nothing. We seem to have forgotten that the gift that God has given is salvation, by the blood of sacrifice, on the cross on Golgotha, and the resurrection on the 3rd day that basically says, resurrection to new life is available for all who believe. (John 3:16) tells us that this is what is important in the overall scheme of things, not the birth, but the death and resurrection.

The reality, and this is what I get really upset about, is that the Christmas (Christ Mass), is now only an excuse to shop until you drop. It begins with Thanksgiving week, of course most stores put out the Christmas decorations and start their sales after Halloween. The Christmas craziness begins with Black Friday, Local shop Saturday, Cyber Monday and on and on and on….. It seems like it will never stop, and this year is really getting out there with scenes of parents writing letters to Santa, in what the think is a kids hand, so they can get a Lexus. Then there are those parents who take their child to the Mall Santa, and have the kid ask Santa for the Lexus. Of course Santa delivers their Lexus on Christmas morning, after they get approved for the loan that is equal to 1/2 a years pay, and if it is a fully loaded Lexus could be close to a years pay.

Then we have the guy or woman who has spent hours shopping for stuff, one this year is a giant snowman that lights up, only to have his or her neighbor show up and after they tell the neighbor how much they saved, the neighbor hits the start button of the key of the brand new SUV in the driveway, saying, I saved thousands too. Of course then the one who went shopping now realizes what a dummy they were for not saving thousands on their own brand new SUV.

Of course we also realize that every kiss begins with a brand new diamond ring or bracelet or necklace. The best way to the Christmas Party is by calling UBER and let them take you to the party so you don’t have the trouble of finding a parking place and you can just call them to get home as well. So Christmas is almost here and most of the people are running around buying stuff to give to others and of course keeping the retailers happy, especially Amazon, and Google stores.

Meanwhile, the one this holiday is supposed to be celebrating has been replaced by SHOPPING, by SANTA CLAUSE, and by, you name it, I know it is not Christ anymore, it is just greed, avarice, lust and of course narcissism at its finest. In the scriptures we find this verse: Jos 24:15 ESV And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

My wife and I will enjoy time with our family, we will eat a nice Christmas dinner together, we will have gone to our Church Candlelight service, and worship our Lord and Savior, the one who died for us and set us free to live our lives in service to Him. We will continue to live our lives as best we can as members of the family of God, and we will look forward to the celebration of Easter, the first Holy Day of the church.

I do hope that you who read this missive of mine, will have a blessed Christmas, that you will spend the time with friends and family, eat your fill of good food, and reflect on what this day is supposed to be all about, realize that the greatest gift of all is not the physical things we receive and give, it is that God, so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in him, would have everlasting life.

Merry Christmas, may you be blessed this Christmas, with a greater knowledge of Jesus the Christ, son of God and son of Man, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

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Walk in the Light
September 7, 2016, 10:31 am
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , ,

This is a sermon I preached a short while back. The reading for this sermon is found in Ephesians 5:8-14.

I remember waking up in a new place and getting out of bed walking to the bedroom door, at least I thought it was the door, then tripping over a chair, actually, stubbing my toe. Man did that hurt! Finally I found the light switch and turned on the light so I could see where I was going. I imagine we all have had this type of experience at one time or another. It sure isn’t much fun when it happens either. Even in a room we know, it can be very unpleasant trying to find our way across to the light switch in the dark.

Paul says to us, “For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it!” in Ephesians 5:8 (NLT). What Paul is speaking about is a form of blindness, an inability to see, or understand the things of God. The Ephesian people were religious, they had one of the great temples to Diana. That temple was considered one of the wonders of the age. Of course merchants made a fortune from this temple, they sold religious icons and statues of Diana in bronze as well as other metals and sculpted statues.

What Paul is pointing out is the reality of the Ephesian believers having come from darkness to light. When they came to see Jesus as Lord and Savior, they received the light of Christ in their lives. In reality we receive a new identity, we are, in Christ, the light of the world. What a wondrous potential for spreading the gospel, our lives become the light of the world, a light that helps others see where before they were unable to do so. It is a wondrous thought, that by introducing the light, darkness can be abolished, for darkness cannot extinguish light.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” If we let our light shine, that will be proof for others that the light is in the world, and that the light has caused us to be changed, to be illuminated. Paul then says in verse 9, of Ephesians 5: “For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” The fruit of the light or of the Spirit is that which is good and so we are to live as children of the light that all might see the changes that God has wrought in us.

Verse 10 says we are to find out those things that are pleasing to the Lord. What is it that will bring glory to God? Is it not that which builds up those around us? Is it not that which reaches out to those who are in need of the love of Christ in their lives?

Remember that Jesus Himself said that He had come to preach good news to the poor, recovering of sight to the blind and release to the prisoner. Good news to the poor, is that which releases them from the servitude of poverty to gain the reality of work that rewards their labor, puts food on the table for their families and gives them dignity.

Recovering of sight, is that which Christ for more than one blind man, but more than that allowed them to be open to seeing eternity. Can we be the light that allows others to see eternity and realize that it is theirs for the receiving? Can we help those caught in the prison of their own making, their sins, those decisions that they have made that have sent them into the spiral of sin and death, to also see?

To see that God is waiting for them to come to Him, that he would put the shoes on their feet, new clothing on their backs, so that when He looks at them they are clothed, as are we, in the blood of Christ, instead of in sin and degradation. Our God would have us walk in such a way as to show our light before men that they might see. This is a way of life, it is not something we do only on Sunday for one hour or two, living in a way that is pleasing to God is a worship of God in all that we do. We offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, we offer our labors to Him as a joy before the throne of grace. We offer our families before God as gratefulness to Him for the bounty of our spouse, our children and our grandchildren. That is that which is good and right and acceptable.

It is also walking connected to the source of our power, remember that Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He was talking about being connected to Him so that we could accomplish that which we set out to do. That He would be the source of our power, and as long as we stay connected to Him we will be fed all that we need so that we may see and do that which He would have us do. Paul says that walking in the light will produce goodness: He means that we will be selfless in giving and in right doing. In 1st Thessalonians 5:15 he says: “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else.” We are to practice goodness always.

  1. Be courteous behind the wheel, even when others make obscene gestures and are discourteous.
  2. Volunteer your time to some good and worthy cause within your community, or a church group. Volunteers in Mission is one way to do this.
  1. Do something unexpected and good for those in your own household, just because.

Walking in the light should also produce righteousness. As Paul tells Timothy in the first letter 6:11, “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Another way to put this is that we are to walk the talk. So that others can see that we do what we say.

Next is that walking in the light produces truth: We should not dissemble, their should not be lies and deception as a part of our lives. I remember that my Dad once went to Pennsylvania to buy a car, his uncle had told him that the dealer was an honest man so my Dad went there to buy his next vehicle. When they finished haggling over the price they shook hands, there was no contract or anything like that. My Dad went back at the appointed time to pick up his new car, and all was ready. He received exactly what he had bargained for and he paid the man cash for the vehicle. Truth is the way we are to talk to all persons, that our word will be counted as our bond.

Walking in the light also means being obedient to the Lord, reading His word, praying, and doing those things that please Him.

Now comes one of the tough things that Paul says we must do as children of the light. In verse 11 he says, “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them.” We are not to participate, nor may we ignore that which is evil and wrong, that which is of the dark. We are instead to expose sin, to rebuke sin, wherever we might encounter it.

Brethren, we cannot be the epitome of goodness, righteousness and truth if we are going to ignore evil. That is not acceptable. A Christian cannot be neutral when it comes to the issue of sin. It is time for us to wake from our nap, that the light of Christ might shine out through us and on us. It has been said, “The world is lost in the darkness while the church is asleep in the light.”

Let us understand that sin is not only to be found outside our doors, we must look at ourselves as well, exposing our own sin that it might come under the light of Christ and be cleansed and expunged from our body. As long as we are not willing to shine the light on our own sin, we are not walking in the light ourselves.

Nina G. Gunter of the Nazarene World Mission Society tells this story: “A young Christian girl had just started her first job after graduating from high school. Her first day of work she was completely unprepared for the things she heard and saw. The language shocked her and the lifestyles sickened her. In great despair she went home and told her Christian parents that she was not going back. She just could not put up with that kind of sin. In the middle of her complaining her dad asked, “where do you place lights?” She shrugged the question off. What could that have to do with her problem? She carried on telling them all about the horror stories, and again her dad interrupted. “Honey, where do you place lights?” “Dad, what do you mean? You know that you place lights where it is dark. Exactly,” said her dad, “As a Christian you are a light, and lights are placed in dark places. You go on to work tomorrow and be careful to let your light shine before those godless men and women so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

That is what Paul is talking about when he says: “And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”” Jesus knows the power of His light, it is His light that dispels the darkness of sin and degradation. He therefore commands you and I to place our lamp on a stand and let it give light to all in the house (Matthew 5:15).

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. It is not darkness that extinguishes light, it is the snuffer of sin that puts the light out and hides the love of God from those who have need of His grace in their lives. So indeed let the light of Christ shine through you, that His grace and glory might be known.

Deal with the areas in your own life that need to be exposed to that cleansing light of Christ. You don’t have to stumble around in darkness beloved. You too can walk securely if only you will reach out to the source of your power and turn on your light.

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