Month: June 2018

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Expanding Grace

Recently, I was at the theater watching Jurassic World with my family. Beside me, there was a four-year old boy sitting with his father and throughout the movie I passed judgement on the father for bringing this young boy to that sort of movie. Later, I made a comment and my own son said, “maybe the man didn’t want to pay for a babysitter and decided to take him to a movie instead.” I was convicted afterwards by my judgemental perception of the situation I knew nothing about. Good on my son for choosing a positive perception of the situation. But, how I grieved afterwards about my opinion. And, even though I have worked hard to change my perceptions of people and circumstances, my original state creeps through and I judge again. I am reminded of the story of the man who was forgiven a large debt by his lord and then went out and demanded payment from someone who owed him money. He did not show this man the same mercy he had just …

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Marriage is good for heart health, divorce bad

It’s not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18 NASV) And shortly after uttering those words, God created Eve as a help mate for Adam and through this we have the first marriage. Men and women were intended to live together and help each other not only in life matters but apparently it also has spin-off health benefits for our hearts. The Daily Mail reports a study by researchers at Keele University in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England and Royal Stoke Hospital cardiology department at Stoke-on-Trent, England concluded that being married brings significant heart health benefits. They came to this conclusion after analyzing data from 34 studies between 1963 and 2015 involving two million people between the ages of 42 and 77. The researchers noted that about 80% of heart disease could be attributed to physical factors such as high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased age, bad habits such as smoking and even a person’s sex as men tend to have a higher risk of heart disease. However, there is still that 20% of risk factors that can’t …

Hillsong Worship Service at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia Credit: Michael Chan/Flickr/Creative Commons

What does it mean God is enthroned in (or inhabits) our praises?

It is a question I have wondered about for years. Does God really need our worship? Or is it that we need to worship God, meaning it’s for our benefit? I think it is the latter and there is a verse that provides a hint to why we need to worship God. The Psalmist writes: Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3 NASV) This verse tells us that God is enthroned in our praises. Other translations state that God “inhabits” the praise of His people. The Hebrew word “ysb” translated “enthroned” by the New American Standard Bible means to sit and remain sitting, to inhabit and to dwell. It implies the idea of ownership and control. We see the word used as Abraham and Lot dwelt (ysb) in the land (Genesis 13:6, 7, 12) and because of their growing size they were in conflict because both were trying to inhabit and control the same land and there was only room for one. But “ysb” also means …

Did God give a prophetic vision to guide Tua Tagovailoa?

People describe Alabama Crimson Tide’s comeback victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Football Championship on January 8, 2018 as nothing short of miraculous. Alabama was losing 13-0 at halftime and the coach pulled the team’s starting QB and threw in rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa, 19, who led the team to an overtime 26-23 victory. After the huge win, Tagovailoa, a Spirit-filled Christian, ran into the crowd to pray with his family and when asked in interviews after the game how he remained so calm in the NCAA’s biggest game of the year, Tagovailoa said he spoke in tongues. But now more is coming out about how the gifts of the Holy Spirit played an even bigger role in a game watched by 28.4 million people. Tagovailoa played high school football in Ewa Beach, Hawaii where he attended Message of Peace church pastored by his uncle and aunt, Tuli and Sai Amosa. While waiting offers to play college football, Tua’s mother Diane shared a prophetic word that Tagovailoa received about Tua’s future. But it …

Rusty car in Bodie, California Credit: Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Martha Meltdown Moment Part 1: Rusty Dreams

Trusting God at times can be a real challenge, especially when your dreams seem to have turned to rust.   We all go through dark times when we must verbalize two things: God is Lord, and He is good. I will trust Him even when I don’t understand and it seems too late – the rust is too far gone! Psalm 42:10 says, “My enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” During these dark times the enemy loves to use people to taunt us, questioning, “If God really loves you He would not have allowed these things to happen. Where is God?” To answer, we can leave the Bible open to the book of Job. God is God, and He is good! If my dreams seem to have turned to rust, and I picture the word “rust”, and bring the cross into the picture, right at the beginning, we now have the word, “trust.” It’s always about trust. We walk by faith, full stop. Ask yourself, “Is this …

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Sanctuary Cities and Free Stuff

We went for a walk the other day, and I was amazed. I live in the city that still has American Elm trees, the Dutch Elm Disease hasn’t reached here, and many trees are almost a hundred years old. As a result, a walk in an older neighborhood is like a walk in a park. So, we went for a walk, close to where I grew up, and I was shocked to see that most of the houses were gone. I saw many construction sites and large new “infill” mansions, and some expensive cars. People with money want a piece of the older generation, before it’s all gone. The next day, I read a front-page newspaper article demanding that we become a “sanctuary city.” The details are, we must give free services to people who here illegally, and possibly hiding from the immigration police who want to deport them. This is a huge argument and I don’t want to argue right now, so let’s call them “undocumented migrants.” These people now want driver’s licenses, cheap …

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Open your heart again

Sometimes jealousy strikes me when I least expect it. It could be a Facebook post where someone shared a great thought or perception of their life. I am ashamed to say that I find myself closing my heart to that person. And then I must do the brave and honest thing if I want my light to keep shining out into my world and open my heart to that person once again. Maybe you are like me and find your heart opening and closing many times in a day. Open to the prospects of a new day and then closed again because someone said something hurtful or jealousy crossed your path. Whatever it is closing our hearts and leaving them shut is hurtful to us and not anyone else. That person on Facebook has no idea what happened, so you haven’t hurt them. Good on them for showing up and making a good point or posting a great photo. Yet, for years I was afraid to show up and allow my true self to be …

Chris Pratt at the San Diego Comic Con in 2016 Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons

Chris Pratt’s nine rules for life?

At this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards held on Monday, June 18, 2018, actor Chris Pratt won the “Generations” award handed out to actors who have displayed their unique personality in a variety of roles. Pratt, 38, has starred in several major hit movies including the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic Park and its sequels. While receiving this year’s award, Pratt took the opportunity to present his nine rules for life ranging from how to properly use the bathroom facilities while at a friend’s place to feeding  a dog medicine (hide it in a piece of hamburger.) But scattered within these nine pieces of wisdom, Pratt provided some spiritual advice to the next generation as the MTV crowd is typically millennials and younger. In earlier interviews, Pratt recounted when he became a Christian a man gave Chris a prophetic word that he would become famous. A short time later while working as a waiter in a Hawaii restaurant, Pratt served a movie director and in a matter of days was flying to California …

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

La Danza de la Vida

English: The Dance of Life Estas últimas semanas mis ojos se han abierto a mi necesidad de amor, respeto y aceptación de los demás. Tiendo a acusar a otros de ser indiferente cuando se descartan mis planes e ideas. Exijo de otros lo que me falta en mí misma y hago que los demás sean responsables de lo que siento. Cuando deje de culpar a otros por la forma en que me siento (enojada, herida, rechazada ), sólo entonces puedo ver cuál es el problema real y me doy cuenta que en su mayoria es mi falta de autoestima. Tengo  que preguntarme ‘por qué’ estoy yo culpando a alguien más por mi falta de autoestima y mis inseguridades. ¿Por qué siempre quiero tener la razón? El resentimiento y la ira nos quitan todo poder. Nos debilitan y nos paralizan, sin embargo, sin saberlo, nos apoyamos en ellos como muletas para obtener el apoyo emocional y el amor que tanto necesitamos. Cuando buscamos amor sin darnos ese amor a nosotros mismos primero ( el amor y el valor …

Redcliffe City Church worship service at the beach Credit: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

Restoring the Tabernacle of David worship in the Church

I have written articles in the past about the Tabernacle that David set up in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 16:17). This tabernacle or tent existed for less than 40 years and was taken down shortly after the Ark of the covenant was transferred from David’s tabernacle to Solomon’s temple. 31 Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and they [a]served in their office according to their order. (1 Chronicles 6: 31-32 NASV) It needs to be pointed out that God did not want David or his son to build a temple, God preferred to stay in the Tabernacle of David. But because of its brief existence, it seems that David’s Tabernacle played a minor role in Israel’s religious life. But that isn’t true. The Book of Psalms, one of the most …

Calling of the Apostles by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448 - 1494) Credit: Perledarte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Apostles and prophets Part I: Five or three

[by Keith Hazell] Some of us have lived through days of exciting change in the Body of Christ.  We have seen God bringing the Church into her own; equipping her in ways that had not been seen for many years in the past. In particular God has been giving us the opportunity to see the resurgence of men and women who carry the Ministry of the Apostle and the Prophet in their lives. Many have had to pioneer the modeling of these ministries without themselves having good role models to follow. In my lifetime I have seen the return and recognition of both the Apostle and the Prophet by New Testament Churches; although it has not come without much confusion and controversy. In 1948 God began to bring a revelation to the church in North America through the Latter Rain Revival which broke out in North Battleford in Northern Canada. The principles released in those days to the Church were to reverberate around the earth and to be catalyst for the release of these ministries …

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Study shows that religious people live longer

According to the Daily Mail, a study undertaken by researchers from Ohio State University in the US concluded that religious people live on average four years longer than atheists or non religious. The results of their study were published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal. The group of psychology researchers came to this conclusion after studying the obituaries of over 1,000 people. This included 505 recorded n the Des Moines Register in Iowa in January and February 2012. The study led by doctoral student Laura Wallace concluded that church goers outlived non-religious people by 9.45 years. However, once they factored out other elements that can contribute to longer life including marriage and gender, that difference shrunk to 6.48 years. A second study of 1,096 obituaries published in 42 cites between August 2010 and August 2011 showed religious people lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those who weren’t. Once gender and marital status were factored out that difference dropped to 3.82 years. The researchers said there were several factors that may contribute …

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Jobs for Christians

Are you a Christian? Do you believe that God will provide? Do you know any Christian who is struggling to find a job? I know someone who is struggling right now and I have been there myself. I have worked in places where I never mentioned that I was a Christian and that I didn’t tell people that I went to church on Sunday. That information could have cost me my job, or I would have missed some promotions. A comedian in England, Tracey Ullman, has published a video comedy skit about a Christian in a job interview. The joke isn’t very funny, but sometimes comedians make serious statements behind the laughter. Getting and keeping a job can be a problem for a Christian. Most of my career work has been training people so they can qualify for employment, or getting them into schools where they could train for a job. At the same time, I had to get and keep my own job, and maybe get promoted. I also have good friends who work …

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The millennial challenge

We often joke with our daughter about being a “millennial” because she and her generation have a strong sense of entitlement. I realize now we are actually demeaning them and putting them in a shame position that makes it harder for them to move into adulthood. Several nights ago, I saw a young boy running with his teammates during a football practice and he couldn’t keep up. He was embarrassed. It broke my heart to see him caught in the throes of obvious comparison and failure in the eyes of his team mates. I wondered if this was what he wanted to do? Or was he playing football because that is what his parents’ wanted? On our journey through the child and teenage years, my husband and I realized that many times we were living our hopes and unmet dreams through our children. This was a harsh reality for us. It took time to undo the damage in their lives, our son in particular. We had to apologize and say “sorry” more than once. Many …

Malaysia Credit: Juha Riissanen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Oops, that wasn’t supposed to happen: genetic study unravels evolutionary theory

A study produced by two geneticists Mark Stoeckle from New York’s Rockefeller University and David Thaler from Switzerland’s University of Baler concluded that 90% of animals came into existence at the same time as humans and relatively recently. This conclusion seriously challenges the theory of evolution that requires millions of years for animals to slowly evolve, with man being the climax of the evolutionary cycle. In their study published in the Human Evolution journal, the two geneticists examined the “DNA barcodes” of 100,000 species of animals stored in GenBank, a genetic data base operated by the American government. Based on this study, the two concluded that animals appeared at the same time as humans about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. Though there may be some dispute on the dating, their study nevertheless confirms the Biblical account that says humans and animals were created at the same time on the fifth day. In an interview with Christian Headlines, Ken Ham founder of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis suggested the age numbers were inflated by evolutionary …

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If you want to know God’s will, start moving

Many of us can struggle trying to decide what God wants us to do. It is clear from Scripture that God has a purpose for each of us. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: 11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NASV) God has a plan for each of us. He has a future destiny laid out for you. But knowing God’s purpose for our lives can be a struggle and many times we find ourselves sitting and doing nothing waiting for a messenger from heaven to hand deliver our instructions. I think that is a mistake. If you want to know God’s will for your life, get out of your chair and start moving. This is exactly the advice that King Solomon gave: The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NASV) We are told that we can make our plans, but God directs our …

Where is Mt. Sinai?

We don’t know for sure where Mt Sinai is located. The mountain, also called Horeb (Deuteronomy 4:10), was the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It’s traditionally believed that Mt. Sinai is Jebel Musa located in Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula. Jews held this belief as early as 100 AD and people were making pilgrimages to the site. Christians accepted this and several monasteries were later built near the mountain. However, in an interview with WND, Pastor Joel Richardson is bucking the trend by suggesting Mt Sinai is actually located in Saudi Arabia. He believes a mountain called Jabal al-Lawz is actually Mt Sinai. In fact, the Apostle Paul describes Mt Sinai as being in Arabia, but it is uncertain what he meant by Arabia. At that time, this vague description could have easily included the Sinai Peninsula: 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (Galatians 4:25 NASV) After personally visiting Jabal al-Lawz, Richardson gave several reasons why he …

Yanghu, Anhui, China Credit: Ted McGrath/Flickr/Creative Commons

China’s communist revival: Is Satan rearing his head again?

There is a communist revival taking place in the world today. We see cultural Marxism rearing its ugly head in universities with the extreme left trying to shut down, sometimes violently, any conservatives who dare to disagree with their extreme left-wing opinions. Put perhaps the clearest example of this swing can be seen in the communist resurgence taking place in China. In an article in the Washington Times, Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid a Christian organization that monitors human right abuses in China, said persecution of Christians in China has reached levels unseen since the days of Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In 2016, ChinaAid reported the persecution of 762 Churches and 48,000 people and by 2017 that had risen to 1,265 churches and 223,000 people. The persecution trend is veering upwards again in 2018 since the passing of a law on Feb. 1 requiring all churches to register with the state.  Earlier this year, the government dynamited the largest church in Shanxi province — the Golden Lampstand Church.  The government has also burned …

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Just Don’t Drink the Poison

“We teach people how to treat us.” (Dr Phil) Toxic people are everywhere, and one of them will find you if you give them a chance. They range from overbearing parents or others in the family who know how we should live our lives, to addicts and alcoholics, and sometimes to violent abusers. You might have heard words like this “You make me like this, it’s your fault.” or “I drink because of you.” or “I only lose my temper when you …” RELATED: Cut toxic people out of your life says Christian psychiatrist: Christian Today In my extended family, I have a cousin who came under the control of an abusive man. She tells this story in churches, and this is my summary. As a young woman, I think a teenager, she met an older man and then moved in with him. They never did marry and she was a Christian. After some time, she realized that the man was controlling and abusive, and she needed to get out. One day they had a …

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Pushing through our fears to victory

Choosing to push through our fear often means not knowing what lies on the other side of it. We waver wondering if we are doing the ‘right’ thing or if we’re going to end up making another mistake. It is always the ‘right’ decision to push through your fear.  Many times we won’t know what the outcome will be, but we do know that God is with us in the good and bad decisions of our lives. The Lord will work it out because we did the ‘right’ thing trusting Him in our decision to move beyond our uncertainty. The great men and women of faith had a deep understanding that God was always with them: “King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Acts 2:25) It is the same belief that all of us need. When we push through our fear God honors our choice and walks with us. The whole weight of God’s presence, power …

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A ‘light’ does not judge

Some of you may be familiar with Jordan Peterson. He is a Canadian psychologist from the University of Toronto who has become famous in recent months for being a voice of reason in a world careening towards Marxism, totalitarianism and political correctness. In his many lectures available on YouTube, he made this curious statement that has stuck with me. When people look at Nazi Germany, we want to judge the Germans for falling under the spell of the megalomaniac Adolf Hitler and his utter hatred for the Jews. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that we are different and would never have been taken in by Hitler’s lies. Peterson disagrees. He says that if we had grown up in Germany when Hitler was coming to power, we (meaning you and I) would have become Nazis and embraced antisemitism just like the Germans did. Certainly, there were a handful of people in Germany, like Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who opposed Hitler and died because of it. We can try to convince ourselves we would have been Bonhoeffer, but …

The Temple Mount Credit: Ben and Ash/Flickr/Creative Commons

Discovery of three small coins confirms the Jews ancient connection to the Temple Mount

Archaeologists working on the remains from the Temple Mount have discovered five small coins that speak of an incredible time of religious freedom in Israel’s history. Though only three of the coins are legible, they are dated to the fourth century. This puts them at the time when King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return their homeland from their Babylonian captivity and rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in 538 BC. The archaeologists believe the other two similarly sized undecipherable coins are from the same set. Seven millimeters wide, the coins have an image of a barn owl on one side. The Jews basically copied the Athenian Abol, a Greek coin used in ancient times. It is curious that they used the owl because it was considered unclean under Jewish law and it also represented the goddess Athena to the Greeks. Instead of having the Greek letters ΑΘΕ used to signify Athens, the three legible coins had the Aramaic word YHD. According to an article on ynetnews, this is the shortened version of …

US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Credit: Keith Survell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Victory for religious freedom in US as Supreme Court rules in favor of Colorado baker

In 2012, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver Colorado, was approached by a homosexual couple who wanted Phillips to make a custom wedding cake for their gay wedding. Phillips said no stating that it contravened his beliefs as a Christian. However, Phillips was willing to make them a birthday cake or any cake for that matter, but was unwilling to decorate it with a message supporting gay marriage. Citing discrimination, the gay couple took Phillips before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) that eventually ordered Phillips to make the cake and as well required his staff to undergo re-education training. However, Phillips decided to take the case to the courts. Initially, he lost his cases in the Colorado courts who ruled in favor of the CCRC’s decision. After the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear Phillips’ appeal, with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Phillips petitioned the US Supreme Court in July 2016, the highest court in the US. In June 2017, the court agreed to hear the case in and …

Church steeples in Wurzburg, Bavaria Credit: Gertrude K./Flickr/Creative Commons

Bavaria requires a cross be displayed in all government offices

Officially called the Free State of Bavaria, Bavaria is Germany’s largest state making up 20% of Germany’s land mass. With a population of 13 million it is Germany’s second largest state. With its state capital in Munich, Bavaria also has Germany’s second largest economy. Bavarians are very conscious of their identity with many considering themselves Bavarian first and Germans second. With 75% of Bavarians calling themselves Christian (over 50% Catholic), many consider it Germany’s most conservative state. And recently, the Bavarian government passed legislation mandating that all state offices prominently display a cross in their public areas. Before this law was passed, crosses were required in court rooms and schools. The new legislation will not affect municipal governments or Germany’s federal government buildings in the state. It even has an official name “Kreuzpflicht or “cross duty.” According to Christian Social Unions (CSU), the state’s ruling party, the law is intended to recognize the Bavaria’s cultural heritage. Premier Markus Soder said these crosses should not be looked upon as a religious symbol, but a recognition of …

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Mehmet Aktugan/Flickr/Creative Commons

What’s happening in Turkey?

My family church, when I was a boy, was famous for talks about Bible prophecy. The pastor had giant charts the size of curtains, to explain what the Bible said about the future of the world. I remember that he could fill the church with his Sunday evening talks, and I vaguely remember pictures of animals with several heads, on those enormous sheets. This was before computers and projectors, and those wall-sized pictures were famous. Years later, as an adult, I met strangers in far away places who wanted to talk about those huge pictures. Our pastor was a good man, and his ideas were conservative. He just wanted us to know what the Bible said about the future of the world, and he made a sincere effort to teach us. I may have been the only kid in my school who knew about Gog and Magog in the land of the north. One thing I remember clearly from those talks was the advice to look north. From the Bible’s perspective, that means north from …

Stubborn donkey on a Mediterranean beach Credit: vad_levin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Stubbornness: The inner-child monster

Many psychologists today talk about our “inner child.”  And often the way we respond to people and the circumstances of everyday life has to do with our “inner child” desperately seeking and needing the approval of our peers. Many times we get knocked of our feet by our own perception of ourselves. In the end, it’s not really about what anyone said or did, it’s our childhood woundings and insecurities holding on to the past. And for many the trauma and woundings were real and the love and attention needed was not there to support the wounded child. It helps me to picture the “child within” still wanting the love and support that was needed at crucial times in our lives. Many of us have had a good family life but no parent or family is perfect. Some wounds go deeper for one child while another sibling may not have been affected in the same way. Later as adults, we find ourselves stuck in the same old patterns of seeking approval and attention. Sometimes, we …