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A touch of heaven

Credit: Alan Levine/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Alan Levine/Flickr/Creative Commons

I felt a light touch and then it was gone.

It was a bright and beautiful fall day. My jacket was open because it was getting warm.  My daughter and I were running errands and crossing the mall parking lot to the bank.

There was a spring in my step.   Life was good and there was so much to be grateful for lately. The warmth and brightness of the sun made it even better.

I saw the truck out of the corner of my eye as it rounded the corner where we were crossing the parking lot.  I hesitated and then stepped forward confident that he had seen me.

It was a big, white, wide, 4×4 truck.  As my daughter and I continued across the road I was blinded by a white light in the shape of a large cross.  It was the cross that struck me in that moment.

I heard my daughter’s concerned voice urgently say,  “Mom, did you feel that?  That truck touched your leg!”

Then, I remembered the gentle touch, nudge that I had felt on my leg the same time that the bright light and cross blinded me.

We both realized that the driver had seen my daughter but because of the angle of the sun he had missed me completely.

The nudge I felt could have ended up being a broken leg or even a life threatening injury.

This little incident provoked me to further thought.  I was in such a happy and grateful state of mind at that present  moment.     No  anxiety, dark clouds of  fear or uncertainty  overshadowed me.

This was a new season in my life and it seemed that  every step I took was with the awareness of God’s presence and deep love for me.

Maybe it was just the brightness of the sun that blinded the driver but in my mind I will always be reminded of the bright light and the cross that I saw. A divine intervention ?  Maybe, maybe not?

But whatever the case, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Berean)

I am challenged of late to perceive  every circumstance in my life as an opportunity to engage in God’s grace and  love unconditionally,  be thankful and not offended, to forgive and forget.

These past five years have been an incredible journey of healing emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have been living in a place of hope, faith and experience that I have not known before.

My heart was full of thanksgiving that day. There was a bright hope for the future and things stirring in my heart.   If I had been taken at that time it would have been OK though.

I know nothing could happen to me that would change my right standing with God not then and  not ever.

Whether I have been going through deep trials or riding on the clouds like I was that day nothing would have changed for me eternally. Despite my failures, weakness and not knowing better at times , God has been at my side through it all.

Eternity is mine without any doubt or fear and no matter what may come.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of our righteousness but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:45)

 

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Christian Rapper tops the US Billboard chart in October

NF (rapper) Credit: YouTube Capture/Napster

NF (rapper) Credit: YouTube Capture/Napster

Going by the stage name NF, Nathan John Feuerstein, 26, is a Christian rapper and hip-hop artist who topped the Billboard Chart in October. For an entire week, his album, Perception, was the top selling album in America, Christian or secular.

Since his debut in 2010, Nathan has released four albums. His first entitled Moments was released in 2012 under the name Nathan Feuerstein. Since then, he has released three more albums under the stage-name NF that included Mansion in 2015.

He released Therapy Session in 2016 which won a Dove Award for top hip hop album of the year. It was also the top-selling Christian Album and top US rap album in 2016 and overall it was the 12th best-selling album in the US that year.

A song from the album, “Oh Lord,” (which you can hear below) won the 2017 Dove Award for top Hip Hop song. It has had quite an impact. Here is just a sampling of the YouTube comments from the song:

It’s Just Kayla
This song pushes me to tears each time I listen to it. I was just delivered from the hardest part of my life but my the grace of God. I pour out my heart for all the lost each day I’m still alive.

Prince Julius
I just survived a major car crash. I’m thankful God kept me another day alive. This song calms me in a moment of pain and anguish. It’s true you never know when it’s your time. God is always working behind scenes to keep you alive and we don’t even notice. Keep me in prayer still recovering. I know got kept me here for his Major bigger plan. Amen.

BasicallyNat
I’m not Christian, in fact I’m an agnostic but I love his Music and I love this song because he’s so passionate about what he believes in.

Chuck Stone
NF has helped me so much its so weird how with just a couple of versus i feel better. He helps a lot of people emotionally like me. Thank you NF i love you man

NF’s most recent album, Perception, was released on Oct 6, 2017.

Though Nathan is very open about his faith, he does not consider himself a Christian rapper. In an article on Idolator he said, “If you’re a Christian and you’re a plumber, are you a Christian plumber?”

His music is intended for all audiences, but often contains Christian themes such as:

“I don’t live for the world, I live for the king. I live for the king.”

But he also admits though a Christian, he is not perfect.

YouTube Comment: Matt Supertramp
I’m not religious but I love this music. Maybe I’m wrong…maybe there is someone watching over us. I’m going through a hard time and NF is helping me get through it.

Nathan was raised by his father, after his parent’s divorced. His mother died from an overdose in 2009 and Nathan sang about her death in his song “How Could You Leave Us” on his album Therapy Sessions.

In an interview with hiphopdx, he described the song as one of the most difficult he has ever written. Nathan bawled his eyes out in the studio and finally just asked the producer to leave as he continued to speak over the track.

With a growing fan base and appreciation of his music, Nathan’s songs have been featured on a several TV programs including NBC’s Chicago P.D. and Fox’s Empire. One of his songs, Intro, is also on Madden NFL, a digital video game.

YouTube Comment: GiantsA7X38
Haven’t prayed in 3 years. Heard this song on pandora and been praying everyday since.

Nathan became involved in music after attending a fine arts festival sponsored by Connection Church in Canton, Michigan. The church is very active in the creative arts ministry. On its website, the church describes its arts ministry:

The Creative Arts team is a community of artists who are called to worship God, serve the body, and share what God has done for us.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” -1 Peter 4:10

Sources:

Who Died and Who Didn’t

Folsom Prison, California Credit: Vidor/Wikipedia and Charles Manson Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Wikipedia

Folsom State Prison, Folsom, California final stop of notorious mass murderer Charles Manson (right) Credit: Folsom Prison, Vidor/Wikipedia and Charles Manson, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Wikipedia

David Cassidy was the poster boy for teenage girls around the world, about thirty years ago. He has lived a show-business life, with failed marriages and a serious addiction to alcohol. In 2015 he declared bankruptcy. On November 19 2017, the news came out that he was in a coma, with multiple organ failures, and his family was gathering at the hospital. The doctors said he didn’t have long.

This morning, November 20, the news is that David Cassidy has regained consciousness and he is very much alive. If his condition improves so that he can see a computer screen, he can read on the Internet that he died yesterday. Someone posted information about his death, in anticipation. I don’t know how much time he has with us, but good for him, he outlived his obituary.

One person who did die yesterday, at the age of 83, in Bakersfield California, is Charles Manson. This is confirmed; born November 12 1934 and died November 19, 2017.

This was a truly terrible man, responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. I don’t want to make him more famous by repeating some of the gruesome things that he did, but his passing is good news.

Some of his quotations are: “You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody’s crazy.” and “We’re not in Wonderland anymore Alice.” and “If you’re going to do something, do it well. And leave something witchy.”

Also on Sunday, November 19, we visited a church out in the suburbs. We like this group, but we live too far away to attend every Sunday. A few years ago, when we found this church, it operated in an industrial area, across the road from a truck stop. Now they rent space in a movie theatre.

This a humble group of Christians, with no stained-glass cathedral, or snooty attitude; and they have attracted enough people to fill the theatre. We were a few minutes late and we had to climb the stairs to the back rows and the auditorium is large.

I expected to see the pastor at the front, but someone else made the announcements, and he had to stop to keep himself from crying. The pastor of that church, George Carothers, died November 7. He went to the doctor on September 7 and he was gone two months later.

This was a good man, in my experience. With his wife, he had built a very healthy church from a rented warehouse near a freeway. I used to visit to see if they were still there. They always were, and I hope they will continue for many more years. They have put good things into the lives of many people.

Death is a dark topic, but it can teach us about life.

“A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7: 1 and 2)

Imagine being so terrible that people are happy when you die. That takes years of practice.

Also imagine being so good that people feel lost without you.

And you don’t have to imagine this; imagine having one more day to get it right. That is you and me, and David Cassidy. I trust that God will give David Cassidy the chance to make things better, to brighten his corner, in the time he has left.

So why are we here, you and me? What good thing still needs to be done, and what dark corner needs our light? We are here because so much needs to be done.

And if you have lost someone recently, I hope that you will know God’s comfort, in this world that has no answer for death. That is a terrible lesson, but after you have learned it, there are people everywhere who can learn from you.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14: 16 and 17)

Fear of the Words

Credit: Chuan Chew/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Chuan Chew/Flickr/Creative Commons

[by Keith Hazell] What are the most fearful words that most people hear? It could be “you have been laid off” or “ I  am leaving you” or perhaps “We are bankrupt”.

All of the above are words which strike their own fear into the hearts of the hearers. However one of the most fearful words we hear is “ I am sorry but you have cancer.”

These words carry with them fear and unbelief. We cannot believe that we have been “chosen,” singled out for such a horrible thing.

To many of us who hear this, it is like we have heard a death sentence and that we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable events that will culminate in our passing.

More than 21 years ago I received such information from a urologist. My initial reaction was like most of us… “ I guess my days are numbered”.  In my early 50’s I had not reckoned on a truncated life. However, the devil reminded me that both my siblings died early as a result of cancer and that my mother and possibly my father also succumbed to things that were cancer related.

I guess my initial reaction was to simply rebuke the devil and expect the cancer to go away . . .but it did not! I was sure in my own heart that this was an attack that came from my involvement in a massive spiritual battle in the church I was leading at the time. I knew, and still know, that when Christians start praying against other Christians there are always strange repercussions.

I knew that there were those who were so opinionated that they wished me evil, and even threatened me in telephone messages. At the time my daughter Nicola was still quite young and the devil began to speak to me that I would never see her grow up!

How insistent his voice was.

I was afraid in the beginning to share with even my family the diagnosis of my specialist, somehow I felt fearful that they would think less of my spirituality because this had befallen me. Even more, that my friends and ministry colleagues would regard me as somehow un-spiritual, because my defenses had been pierced by the enemy.

So I continued through regular check ups with recurrences being found and dealt with in the doctors office during the process of my checks. This would be interspersed with clear times and then there would be a need for BCG and Interferon treatments to counter the recurrences.

As the years progressed I began to enlist the prayers of my closest friends seeking to extend my life for the purpose of the Kingdom of God as well as my own family. This gathering power of prayer has carried me through several operations and continues to sustain me in the purpose of God.

After some time passed, my specialist said he might have to recommend the removal of my bladder. There was tremendous prayer that went up for me around the world and a year later, after a couple of operations, the same specialist declared me to be cancer free. Praise the Lord!

I am as the bible says “A sign and a wonder” and I acknowledge the goodness of God, the power of the prayers of the saints, and the ongoing skill of the medical profession.

I write this to encourage you who may find yourself in the same predicament. The bible says “ do not fear what they fear.”  Fear is the greatest enemy you must face. “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

If you have heard those fearful words don’t let them ruin your future hope and your faith in the ability of God on your behalf.

Once your friends and family find out, better if you tell them yourself, you will find yourself surrounded with a blanket of prayer, love and intercession. It is not a shameful confession to speak the truth and say “I have cancer.”

At the same time you will be inundated with many cures that others want you to try. I realize how sincere most of them are and don’t want you to ignore any hope that you may find. However, do not allow yourself to be duped by “mystics” and charlatans who are using your sickness for their own advantage. Cures that worked for a minority of cancer sufferers do not work for all.

Here in Canada I have been greatly helped by the doctors and the Cancer Clinic in my more than 21 year fight. They have been helped in their efforts by the incredible power of prayer that has come from saints around the earth on my behalf… and I am so grateful!! I believe God gave me an attitude of confidence and faith which has added its own dimension to my battle. “There is no fear in love , perfect love casts way fear.”

More than twenty years after hearing the dreaded words, I testify today that they did not end my hope or expectancy of life.

In these years I have watched my daughter grow and get married, and even was able six years ago to dedicate her son. In these last years I have become a great grandfather twice and soon three times. My eight grandchildren are a joy to my life along with my own children.

During the last 21 years I have enjoyed the most exciting and fruitful years of my ministry. In the last six I have seen massive response to the gift that God put in me in churches around the world. I have visited nations and planted words that have bought forth new churches.

If I had allowed myself to be taken by the fear of the words spoken more than twenty one years ago I would have missed the best years of my life.
The bible says “the thing that you fear most is come upon you” and this is many times a factor in our recovery or demise.

These words are to encourage those who are tempted to give up because of the fearful words.

What of my future? Will it last” I am believing it will!!

But let me leave you with the words of the hymn sung at Nova and my wedding: “ I cannot tell His future plans, but this I know, I have the smiling of His face and all the refuge of His grace whilst here below.”

I am indeed what I am by the grace and mercy of God who has kept me thus far!

_____________________________

Copyright Keith Hazell — Used by permission

Keith, now deceased, traveled internationally as a prophet and teaching ministry. For more than 35 years he has traveled among the nations demonstrating the Prophetic and teaching and raising up new generation prophets. He was one of the most accurate prophets that I have personally known.

Victory: Youth take ownership of their faith at East Coweta high school

East Coweta football team gathering for prayer before a game. Credit: Fox News Youtube capture

East Coweta football team gathering for prayer before a game. Credit: Fox News Youtube capture

It was an amazing story, and despite legal threats from an atheist group, students at East Coweta High School in Coweta County, Georgia have taken ownership of their faith in a big way.

At the end of October, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter of complaint to the Coweta school district that its high school football head coach, John Small, was leading a team prayer before games and demanded that this stop.

FFRF argued that this violated the constitution of separation of church and state and they included an image of Small standing with his head bowed during a team prayer.

In response, the Coweta school division sent a letter to all staff that they were no longer to take part in any prayer or worship while working in an “official capacity” with the school.

It was expected that the team’s prayer sessions would come to an end. However, instead something incredible happened. The players took the initiative to pray before the game and instead of 100 players gathering to pray as typically happened over 400 prayed before the game.

In an interview with the Christian Post, coach Small said:

“I think what happened with this organization [FFRF], whatever there intent was, you tell teenagers you can’t do something, surely they are going to do it. It has turned into a positive because at the end of the day, we are trying to teach students about leadership and they should be the ones taking the charge on it anyway.”

Teens taking ownership of their faith. The positive benefits are incredible.

Many of us are familiar with the passage in Romans:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASV)

The Greek word for “work together” is “synergei” and means to work together collaboratively.  We see the same Greek word being used in the Gospels where the Holy Spirit powerfully “worked together” with the disciples by providing miracles to confirm the gospel message:

20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. (Mark 16:20 NASV)

The Greek word “synergie’ is where we get our English word synergy from which means:

“the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

So Paul is telling us in Romans that the Holy Spirit works together with us and the negative situation to bring good out of it. The beneficial result will outweigh the situation that sparked it.

However, there is one conditional and necessary ingredient — a person who “loves God.” In other words, if we allow anger, bitterness or unforgiveness to infect our heart because of what happened, it spoils the recipe.

It is not that we won’t struggle, but in the end we must believe God will work through it.  If we do, the long-term positive outcome will outweigh the original negativity of what happened.

The positive outcome can show up quickly as we see in the case of East Coweta high school or it can take some time, maybe even years before we see the full benefit.

Notice how Paul starts the verse in Romans by saying “And we know that God causes all things….”  I believe he was referring to past stories of God bringing good out of bad.

One of those involved the Patriarch Joseph who his brother sold into slavery.

He eventually ended up in Egypt, where God raised up Joseph to be second in command in the nation. Years, probably decades later, he provided a safe place for Jacob’s family to live, grow and thrive. It was in Egypt, where Israel became a great nation.

But notice how Joseph acknowledge God’s hand in what happened to him:

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20 NASV)

Joseph was referring to the betrayal of his own family purposefully plotting evil against him. But he forgave and God was able to bring good out of it.

Sources:

¿Tenía Jesús un hogar en Capernaum?

Ruins of the ancient city of Capernaum, the home town of Jesus. Photo: Bon Adrien/Foter/CC-BY

Ruinas de la antigua ciudad de Capernaum, la ciudad natal de Jesús. Foto: Bon Adrien / Foter / CC-BY

English: Did Jesus own a home in Capernaum?

Muchos tienen la impresión de que Jesús fue un predicador itinerante, viajando de un lugar a otro alrededor de Galilea predicando el Evangelio. Sin embargo, hay una pista que Jesús tenía su propia casa.

En Marcos 2, tenemos el relato de que Jesús estaba en una casa en Capernaum. Tantas personas se habían juntado que un grupo de hombres se vio obligado a abrir un agujero en el techo para bajar a su amigo paralítico para que Jesus le sanara.

Pero note lo que dice Marcos en el versículo 1:

Cuando Jesús entró de nuevo en Capernaúm varios días después, se oyó que estaba en casa. Y se reunieron muchos, tanto que ya no había lugar ni aun a la puerta; y El les explicaba[a] la palabra. (NBLH)

Habla de que esta casa es la casa de Jesús. Por el tamaño de la multitud era obvio que Jesús era un poco famoso en la ciudad. Este versículo también sugiere que no era la primera vez que la gente se había reunido en la casa de Jesús, ya que la gente esperaba que el regresara.

Tenemos una mención similar del hogar de Jesús en Juan 1: 38-43. Este pasaje registra la visita de Jesús con Juan el Bautista donde él llama a Jesús el Cordero de Dios. Dos de los discípulos de Juan (uno de ellos Andrés, el hermano de Pedro) le preguntaron a Jesús dónde se quedaría.

En el versículo 39, Jesús llevó a los dos discípulos a su casa, donde permanecieron durante el resto del día y tal vez incluso durante la noche. Fue durante esta visita que Andrés convenció a Pedro, que también vivía en Cafarnaúm (Marcos 1:29), para visitar a Jesús en su hogar.

Sabemos por los Evangelios que Jesús nació en Belén (Mateo 2: 1), pero creció en Nazaret con Sus padres (Lucas 4:16). Mateo agrega este comentario:

13 Saliendo de Nazaret, fue a vivir en Capernaúm, que está junto al mar, en la región de Zabulón y de Neftalí; (Mateo 4:13 NBLH)

En algún momento, Jesús se mudó a Capernaum. Necesitaba un lugar para vivir, así que obtuvo una casa y era carpintero (Marcos 6: 3) tal vez incluso construyó la suya. No nos dicen los detalles de los arreglos de vida de Jesús.

En su comentario, William Barclay tiene esto que decir sobre la palabra griega “tekton” carpintero traducido:

La palabra utilizada para “carpintero” es [@tekton], lo que significa que no es un simple trabajador de la madera. Significa “un artesano”, más que simplemente un carpintero. En Homero se dice que [@tekton] construye barcos, casas y templos.

Mateo señala en el versículo 14 que el traslado de Jesús a Capernaum cumplió una profecía del Antiguo Testamento (Isaías 9: 1-6) sobre el Mesías que viene de esta región. Mateo también agrega en el versículo 17, que fue después de su traslado a Cafarnaum, que Jesús comenzó su ministerio.

Según una declaración hecha más tarde, Jesús finalmente abandonó Su casa y viajó alrededor de Israel predicando el Evangelio:

Jesús le respondió: “Las zorras tienen madrigueras (cuevas) y las aves del cielo nidos, pero el Hijo del Hombre no tiene dónde recostar la cabeza.” (Mateo 8:20 NBLH).

Sin embargo, el ministerio de Jesús comenzó básicamente como un simple grupo de origen en Capernaum. Fue aquí donde Jesús entró en contacto con cuatro de sus discípulos: Levi (Mateo), Pedro, Santiago y Juan (Marcos 1:29).

Poco después de su decisión de seguir a Cristo, Mateo tuvo una fiesta en su casa (Marcos 2: 14-17) donde invitó a muchos de sus compañeros de trabajo, compañeros recaudadores de impuestos, a encontrarse con Jesús y sus discípulos. Esta posiblemente fue una fiesta de despedida para Mateo, quien dijo que dejó todo para seguir a Cristo.

Esta fiesta en el hogar de Levi pudo haber marcado el punto de transición, cuando Jesús se mudó de un ministerio basado en una casa a uno por toda la nacion.

Pero vemos varias veces que el grupo regresó a Capernaum, lo que Mateo describe como “Su propia ciudad [de Jesús]” (Mateo 9: 1). Generalmente se cree que probablemente se quedaron en la casa de Pedro, de quien sabemos que estaba casado y que su suegra se quedó con él (Mateo 8: 5, 14).

Pero al final, Jesús maldecía a Capernaum por la cantidad de tiempo que invirtió en esa comunidad y la negativa de los habitantes a arrepentirse:

23 Y tú, Capernaúm, ¿acaso serás elevada hasta los cielos? ¡Hasta el Hades (región de los muertos) descenderás[a]! Porque si los milagros[b] que se hicieron en ti se hubieran hecho en Sodoma, ésta hubiera permanecido hasta hoy. 24 Sin embargo, les digo que en el día del juicio será más tolerable el castigo para la tierra de Sodoma que para ti.” (Mateo 11: 23-24 NBLH).

— EZ

Alcanzando todo tu potencial: enfréntate al miedo

Don't let fear dominate your life. Street art in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Giuseppe Milo/Flickr/Creative Commons

No permitas que el miedo domine tu vida. Arte callejero en Dublín, Irlanda. Crédito: Giuseppe Milo / Flickr / Creative Commons

English version: Achieving your full potential — deal with your fear

Hay una interesante parábola en los Evangelios que creo que Jesús dijo a propósito para preparar a los discípulos para la eventual partida de Cristo. Sería un presagio de lo que vendría.

Me estoy refiriendo a la enseñanza sobre talentos encontrada varias veces en los Evangelios. Aparece en diferentes formas y en diferentes momentos, y parece que Jesús contó esta parábola varias veces, porque era un mensaje que sus discípulos necesitaban escuchar.

En la parabola en Mateo 25: 14-30, un gobernante emprende un largo viaje y decide dejar sus riquezas o talentos para invertir en manos de sus esclavos hasta que el regrese.

Esto es paralelo a la partida de Jesús de la tierra, el otorgamiento del Espíritu Santo y sus dones (Lucas 24:49, Hechos 1: 8) y luego la segunda venida de Cristo.

¿Cuáles son los talentos?

Creo que el reino de Dios, existen los dones (espirituales y naturales) y los llamamientos que Dios ha otorgado a cada creyente. El Señor tiene tareas que necesitamos cumplir antes de que El regrese. Algunos de ellos son espirituales y algunos naturales, pero todas son igualmente importantes.

En este contexto, a un esclavo se le dan cinco talentos, al segundo tres, y al tercero one.

Una de las principales preocupaciones de Jesús es involucrar a personas que no alcanzan su potencial máximo. Sabemos esto porque el foco de esta parábola no está en los dos primeros hombres que duplicaron la inversión de su amo, sino más bien en el tercer hombre que enterró su talento en el suelo (v 25).

Ni siquiera se molestó en poner el dinero en el banco para ganar intereses, simplemente lo escondió y esperó a que su maestro regresara.

El hombre era controlado, o más exactamente paralizado, por tres miedos que dominaban su vida:

1. Miedo a la expectativa

Mientras leemos parabola la uno de los mayores miedos de este esclavo era que su amo era un hombre brutal, y no aceptaria el fracaso del esclavo.

24 “Pero llegando también el que había recibido un talento (21.6 kilos), dijo: ‘Señor, yo sabía que usted es un hombre duro, que siega donde no sembró y recoge donde no ha esparcido, 25 y tuve miedo, y fui y escondí su talento en la tierra; mire, aquí tiene lo que es suyo.’ (Mateo 25: 24-25 NBLH)

Si esto era verdad o no es irrelevante, porque los otros dos sirvientes tenían exactamente el mismo maestro y no estaban controlados por este miedo.

Este fue un problema personal para el esclavo con un talento con el que tenía que lidiar. Quería culpar a otra persona por sus defectos, pero el verdadero problema eran sus propias inseguridades.

Como niños, este miedo a la expectativa se puede construir en nosotros cuando nuestros padres ponen expectativas poco realistas en nosotros en el deporte o en la escuela. Cuando no cumplimos con estas expectativas, sentimos que les hemos defraudado.

Como padres vemos la expresión en el rostro de nuestro hijo que la fallado. La mejor manera de evitar este rechazo es no ponerlos en esta situacion en lo absoluto.

Este miedo de niños a menudo nos seguirá a medida que nos convertimos en adultos.

Si ha puesto a sus hijos en esta situación, pida perdón. Si tus padres te han puesto en esta situación, perdónalos.

2. Miedo de los hombres

Tenemos miedo de lo que otros puedan pensar.

Estoy seguro de que el hombre era consciente de lo que los otros dos esclavos estaban haciendo con sus talentos. Compartían el mismo hogar y sin duda se jactaban de lo bien que iban las cosas con sus inversiones.

A menudo nos sentimos intimidados por el éxito de los demás y retrocedemos cuando nos comparamos con ellos.

Siempre habrá alguien mejor que tu. Pero simplemente no podemos usar eso como una excusa para no alcanzar nuestro máximo potencial. A decir verdad, es posible que estemos completamente sorprendidos de cuál es nuestro potencial.

3. Miedo al fracaso

También estamos aterrorizados de perder y la mejor manera de hacerlo es no jugar el juego. Aquí está la cosa, vamos a fallar. Vamos a cometer errores, eso es simplemente parte del viaje de la vida.

Pero lo que sucede con tanta frecuencia es que definimos quiénes somos por nuestros éxitos y fracasos. Si tienes éxito, eres un ganador. Si fallas, eres un perdedor.

Tus éxitos y fracasos no tienen nada que ver con quién eres en Cristo. No debemos permitir que nuestros logros (incluidos los éxitos) definan quién eres. Eres un hijo de Dios y aceptado por el Señor, ya sea que fracases o tengas éxito.

Aprende de tus errores y sigue adelante.

En última instancia, este esclavo estaba controlado por una incredulidad en su propia habilidad para invertir el talento sabiamente.

El miedo es probablemente el mayor impedimento para cumplir tu llamado en Dios. Es necesario tratar estos temores para que alcances todo tu potencial.

  • El primer paso en este proceso de sanidad es reconocer cuánto te controla el miedo.
  • El segundo paso es dejar de culpar a los demás por sus fallas.
  • El tercer paso implica pedirle al Espíritu Santo que venga para fortalecernos (Romanos 8:26).
  • El cuarto y más importante paso es creer que Dios quiere que triunfes.

— EZ

Pero Satanás nos impidió

Credit: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

Crédito: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

English version: But Satan hindered us

Fue una fría noche de invierno en el norte de Saskatchewan, Canadá, con mi novia en ese momento y después esposa.  Estabamos conduciendo en una carretera solitaria en la via a visitar a mis padres. Habíamos comenzado este largo viaje de seis horas en las últimas horas de la tarde.

Habia solamente un automóvil que nos seguía detrás de nosotros dos. No había mucho tráfico. Pero dos luces parpadeantes a la distancia viniendo por la otra via oscura advertían de un vehículo que se acercaba.

Cuando el auto se acercó, de repente se desvió hacia nuestro carril. Mi esposa que estaba conduciendo se asusto mucho y tiró el volante hacia la derecha hundiendo nuestro auto en una zanja.

Llegamos a la zanja a toda velocidad y la nieve profunda agarró nuestras ruedas delanteras y nuestro automóvil empezó a rodar no de costado, sino de extremo a extremo: de atrás para adelante.

De repente, mi esposa y yo estábamos colgando boca abajo en nuestro auto. Recuerdo tratando de agarrar las llaves del para auto apagar el vehiculo. Nos quitamos nuestros cinturones de seguridad y caimos en el techo del automóvil.

Aparte de estar en estado de shock total sobre lo que acababa de suceder, no sufrimos ningún daño fisico.

Pero la nieve profunda, que había amortiguado nuestro choque, ahora estaba cubriendo por completo nuestras ventanas laterales y no podíamos mover las puertas.

El vehículo detrás de nosotros inmediatamente se detuvo. Dos hombres caminaron por la nieve para descubrir si estábamos bien. Limpiaron la nieve bloqueando las puertas de nuestro automóvil y nos rescataron.

Nos ofrecieron un viaje a la siguiente ciudad donde podíamos llamar a mis padres para que vinieran a buscarnos. El automóvil necesitaría una grúa.

Mi esposa y yo nos sentamos en el asiento trasero. Los dos hombres preguntaron qué había sucedido. Mi esposa les contó que un automóvil nos sacó del camino y nos obligó a salir de la carretera.

¿No vieron ustedes lo que sucedió? preguntó mi esposa, ustedes estaban siguiendonos muy cerca de nosotros.

El conductor, sonando un poco sorprendido, dijo que no había habido ningún automóvil que viniera en la otra dirección, lo que confirmó el hombre del asiento del pasajero. Ellos solo vieron nuestro carro desviandose a la zanja y las luces traseras volando por lo alto, en el momento que el carro daba vueltas en la nieve.

Pero había habido otro automóvil nosotros, insistimos.

Después de esa discusión incómoda, el resto del viaje fue bastante tranquilo. Les dimos las gracias cuando nos dejaron en un hotel, donde esperamos a que mi papá nos recogiera.

Al día siguiente llamamos a una pequeña estación de servicio rural que recogió nuestro automóvil. Probaron las llaves que todavía estaban prendidas y el motor del carro prendio. Aparte de un poco de daño en el techo del carro, ni siquiera se podía decir que se había volteado. Ellos simplemente lo sacaron.

Cuando recogimos el auto, el propietario del garaje dijo que éramos muy afortunados, porque habíamos aterrizado en una gran acumulación de nieve, varios pies de profundidad, que había amortiguado nuestro golpe.

A unos pocos pies de distancia, la nieve solo tenía unos centímetros de grosor.

Fue uno de estos eventos que no entendemos y que necesitamos un versículo bíblico para explicarlo.

En su primera carta a los Tesalonicenses, el apóstol Pablo dijo que había intentado dos veces visitar a los Tesalonicenses, pero Satanás lo obstaculizó.

18 Ya que queríamos ir a ustedes, al menos yo, Pablo, más de una vez; pero Satanás nos lo ha impedido. (1 Tesalonicenses 2:18 NASV)

De acuerdo con el léxico griego de Thayer, la palabra griega ‘egkopto’ (traducida obstaculizada) significa “cortar, impedir el curso cortando su camino”.

La palabra también se usó en atletismo griego cuando los corredores literalmente codearon a sus oponentes para forzarlos a abandonar la pista de carreras o empujarlos hacia atrás, para obstaculizarlos en su carrera.

Entonces, Pablo estaba diciendo que habian cosas que estaban sucediendo en el mundo físico que le impedían visitar los Tesalonicenses, pero que la fuente era satánica.

Mirando hacia atrás en lo que sucedió esa fría noche de invierno en Enero hace muchos años, me pregunté ¿cuál fue la fuente de esas dos luces que nos detuvieron?

Aunque a veces parece que Satanás nos está obstaculizando el cumplimiento del plan de Dios para nuestras vidas, Dios siempre tiene otro plan.

Debido a los obstáculos de Satanás, Pablo escribió una carta a los tesalonicenses y esa carta ha sido una bendición para cientos de millones de personas durante los últimos dos mil años, ya que fue incluida como parte de nuestra Biblia.

El apóstol Pablo mencionó en otra carta que también había sido impedido (egkopto) de visitar a su congregación, por lo que el también lo escribió en Romanos 15:22.

En retrospectiva, Satanás probablemente lamenta esos obstáculos.

Y desde esa noche agitada, mi esposa y yo ahora oramos antes de cada viaje entregandolo en las manos del Señor. — EZ

Alberta government starts a range war against Christians

Alberta Legislature Wikipedia/GPL

Alberta Legislature Wikipedia/GPL

The government of the Canadian province of Alberta has allegedly turned down an Edmonton couple for adoption because of their Christian faith. The unnamed couple who go by the initials C.D. and N.D are Evangelical Christians.

The couple was even willing to adopt an older child who typically become stuck in the foster system with little hope of adoption.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) is representing C.D. and N.D. in a court case against the Alberta government to have its decision overturned.

The married couple, who are unable to conceive, applied for an adoption in October 2016 and were initially approved by the Catholic Social Services (CSS) a representative of the government’s Child and Family Services (CFS).

Then in March 2017, the couple were told the government needed them to answer additional questions on how they would handle their potential child’s sexuality.

In its news release, JCCF said the couple responded that they would treat any child “with unconditional love, respect and compassion regardless of what the child chose to do, and regardless of the child’s sexual orientation or behavior.”

Apparently that answer wasn’t good enough and CSS unexpectedly withdrew its approval for adoption later that same month.

The couple appealed the decision. According to JCCF, in a meeting with two CFS staff in May, the couple were allegedly told that their religious faith was basically the reason for the rejection. One CFS staff member apparently added that this “was the official position of the Alberta government.”

In its news release, JCCF President John Carpay said:

“Making determinations about who is suitable to adopt on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs violates this couple’s right to religious freedom and equality under the law as guaranteed in the Charter and in Alberta’s own Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act.” 

However, this move by the left-leaning NDP government of Alberta is not surprising.

With the party’s popularity rapidly sliding in the polls, in recent weeks the NDP have started a range war with Catholics in Alberta. The party’s leader, Premier Rachel Notley, publicly accused Catholics of allowing spousal rape.

It was a bizarre statement and blatantly wrong. Though the NDP government has finally admitted as much, according to reports Notley refuses to apologize and allows the issue to fester on social media.

It seems the real issue was the Catholic school’s sex education program that differs with the NDP government’s approved program. Catholics have the constitutional right in Alberta to run their own school system.

In an interview with the Calgary Sun, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, the recently elected leader of the official opposition in Alberta, said:

“Rachel Notley has no more business than me or anybody else to tell Catholic schools how they should teach Catholic values. It’s none of her business. The government is basically a service provider. It’s not a surrogate parent.

“Why do they keep using the schools as a political battlefield? We’ve never had these fights in Alberta before? But they can’t help themselves. They cannot tolerate any dissent from their own political views.”

Sources:

British Survey: Majority believe only six of 10 commandments still important today

Ten Commandment outside the Texas State Capital in Austin. Credit: Office of the Attorney General of Texas/Wikipedia

Ten Commandment outside the Texas State Capital in Austin. Credit: Office of the Attorney General of Texas/Wikipedia

A YouGov poll of people living in England released this past October discovered the majority felt only six of the 10 commandments delivered by Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20) are relevant today.

Commandments such as ‘though shall not murder’ and ‘thou shall not steal’ still did well with both receiving 94% and 93% support respectively. Note the survey properly referred to the sixth commandment as forbidding murder, not killing that was sometimes justified in cases of self-defense.

It is difficult to understand why there wasn’t 100% support for the two. However, it can possibly be explained by the growing extreme left-wing beliefs particularly on university campuses where some feel there is justification in certain instances for murder and stealing.

Perhaps in a less extreme agreement with this later sentiment only 61% believed “thou shalt not covet” was relevant today.  This meant nearly 40% of those surveyed felt it was alright to covet a neighbor’s goods. At times, our hearts can justify theft because its unfair that some have wealth and others don’t.

There were four commandments that fell below the 50% threshold, where less than half of those surveyed believed they were still important today. Surprisingly even Christians were in agreement.

This included forbidding the ‘worship of idols’ where only 31% of Brits believed it was still relevant today. Even Christians were less concerned with only 43% saying it was important. The survey described an idol as a symbol or statue.

The other three to receive a failing grade included the first commandment, and some would argue the most important, that the Jews/Christians were to have no other gods but Jehovah. Only 20% of Brits thought it was important today compared to 36% of Christians.

The other two to get a failing grade were taking the Lord’s name in vain, where 23% considered it wrong (38% for Christians) and keeping the Sabbath where only 19% of Brits considered it relevant today compared to 31% for Christians.

Curiously among Christians, 49% of Catholics considered keeping the Sabbath importance compared to 29% among protestants.

In the New Testament, the Jewish Saturday Sabbath (seventh day) had become the traditional day to attend the synagogue. Christians changed this to Sunday, the first day of the week, to honor the day that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 20:7).

As for the importance of keeping the Sabbath, the Apostle Paul further wrote:

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5 NASV)

16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 NASV)

Paul was essentially saying a person should follow his or her conscience on this matter. If you are convinced that the Sabbath is still sacred then live accordingly. If you believe all days are the same, that is fine as well.

More importantly, Christians are not to judge each other about our differing opinions on the Sabbath. Even today, certain Christian groups, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, hold their church services on Saturday instead of Sunday.

YouGov Poll results:

The percentage of Brits who consider the following commandments important:

  • 94% — Thou shalt not murder
  • 93% — Thou shalt not steal
  • 87% — Thou shalt not lie
  • 73% — Thou shalt not commit adultery
  • 69% — Honor your mother and father
  • 61% — Thou shalt not covet
  • 31% — Thou shalt not worship idols
  • 23% — Thou shall not use the Lord’s name in vain
  • 20% — Thou shalt have no other gods, but Jehovah
  • 19% — Keep the Sabbath

Sources:

 

What does surrender to God mean?

Credit: -stefano-/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: -stefano-/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does surrender conjure up images of a criminal giving up his gun and surrendering himself to the police?  For many Christians this is what we envision and it terrifies us.

In her article, Winning Through Surrender, Kathy Cordova writes:

“For most of us the word surrender has a negative meaning because we think surrender is waving the white flag and giving up.”

We consider the spiritual process of surrender with giving up, but spiritual surrender is not about defeat. It is about acceptance, joy and faith.   Spiritual surrender is about a mutual relationship with loving reciprocity between the creator and the creation.

It’s about  accepting the gift of salvation and experiencing the joy of a relationship with the God of the universe who  not only loves us but knows us well.

I realized that after all these years as a Christian I did not have a healthy perspective of what surrendering to God really meant. I felt that I could never live up to the traditional Christian perception of surrender.

I was fully aware of the weakness of my flesh and did not understand what it meant to sacrifice my life for God daily.

The Romans were used to making regular, ritual sacrifices to their gods. They smelled these daily sacrifices being made as they walked through the market place. Although they had turned away from these practices, as Christians they probably still felt the pull.

The Apostle Paul wrote that they were still supposed to make sacrifices, but of a slightly different nature:

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedicating of your bodies, (presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice an well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

As we read this verse, Paul writes that the key motivator for presenting ourselves as a sacrifice is understanding “the mercies of God.”  Paul said that each of us is a priest of God and that we are to offer ourselves on the altar of the Christian faith out of gratitude and  our deep love for God and the salvation  he so willingly offered us.

What is our “reasonable” sacrifice?

It is loving one another through acts of kindness, forgiveness and showing mercy to those around us. We did not deserve God’s forbearance (loving kindness, mercy and grace) that He poured out freely upon us through Christ’s blood shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

We surrender ourselves out of gratitude for all that God has done for us  and  for what  He will yet do (miracles  and an abundant life) as we surrender our will to Him daily.

Spiritual surrender acknowledges that we’re not in control and releases the ‘driving’ and ‘directing’ over to Jesus.  It’s getting ourselves out-of-the-way and trusting God to guide us, provide for us and intervene in the personal matters of our lives.

Often, we think there is something we can do to fix a situation with a friend, spouse, or family member. As we lay down our doing (our desire to control the situation), and step aside, miracles can happen.

This is not giving up but an active surrender to the will of God, where we allow the Holy Spirit to move and do a miracle.

Surrendering also takes practice. Paul tells us that we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. Unfortunately, the first instinct of any living sacrifice is to crawl off the altar.

It is a daily act where we entrust ourselves to the power of  Christ in our lives.  It is not a whipping pole where we are beat into compliance. It involves a respect for God’s authority (knowledge and wisdom that is beyond our own) and a willingness to let Him take over when we are struggling, failing and falling apart.

We need to change our attitude about surrender.  Surrender is not manipulative but actually meant to spur us into loving action.

In his sermon from early in the last century entitled Are You Grateful, William Birch writes:

“[Surrender] means self-offering of one’s will to God. It is not passive, it is an active surrender to the will of God. Most of all it is an attitude of deep loving receptivity towards God. Offering our hearts and minds to him that He may transform us.”

Birch exhorts us to be fragrant like roses with our good deeds that bring a breath of heaven to a lost and hurting world. This is our reasonable sacrifice that is acceptable to God:

“Some people are like a picture of a rose, which has no perfume.  Be perfumed that is, living Christian,  be fragrant of good deeds which are the sweet breath of heaven” and thus you will show your gratitude to God.  Be an honour to the gospel of Jesus and a comfort to mankind.”

Can it be that God desires our surrender because He loves us and has our best interests and highest good at heart and that He wants us to be happy, fulfilled and joyful?

It takes faith to believe that God loves us. It takes faith to surrender ourselves to God. It takes faith to be a living sacrifice.

 

Faith through doubt: 4,000 year old marriage contract confirms story of Ishmael

The Mespotamia Valley where Abraham and Sarah lived before God called them on their journey of faith: Credit: Hassan Janall U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Wikipedia

The Mesopotamia Valley where Abraham and Sarah lived before God called them on their journey of faith: Credit: Hassan Janall U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Wikipedia

Though the patriarch Abraham and wife Sarah ended up in the ‘Faith Hall of Fame’ (Hebrews 11:8-11), their lives were far from a perfect display of faith.

God had promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son out of which would come a great nation (Genesis 17). Though they clung to this promise, there were times when they doubted God and took matters into their own hands.

One of these moments involved Hagar, Sarah’s personal maid:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16: 1-2 NASV)

Sarah told Abraham to impregnate her slave who would serve as a surrogate and have a child that Sarah would claim as her own. The couple went through with this plan with both believing it would fulfill the promise that God had given them.

Hagar became pregnant birthing a son Ishmael (Genesis 16:4).

As we look at this story, in reality both Abraham and Sarah caved to the cultural pressure of the day.

Archaeologists have uncovered a 4,000 year-old-marriage contract in Turkey. According to the Daily Mail, the clay tablet, cited in the publication Gynecological Endocrinology,  provides the first known mention of infertility.

The contract written on a small square clay tablet states that if the couple did not have a child after two years of marriage, then the husband would try to impregnate a female slave to provide an heir.

The contract even stipulated once the female slave gave birth to a boy, the woman would actually be granted her freedom.

This contract on display at the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, Turkey was found in Kayseri Province in 1925 along with about a 1,000 other cuneiform tablets. This is in the Mesopotamia valley, the very area where Abraham and Sarah lived before God called Abraham to leave:

12 Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,

And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation (Genesis 12:1-2a NASV)

There have been so many tablets found in this area, that some archaeologists have labelled Mesopotamia as “the place where history began.”

The tablet believed to be 4,000 years old also dates to the time of Abraham. The slave girl referred to as a hierodule, describes either a slave or a prostitute associated with a pagan temple.

The tablet confirms that the arrangement concocted by Sarah was an accepted practice of that day.

It also shows that there were moments in their journey of faith, that Abraham and Sarah caved to cultural pressure, but these moments of failure did not define them.

In the Biblical account, after giving birth to Isaac, Sarah drove Hagar and Ishmael out of the family. This may have fulfilled the cultural obligation that woman would be granted her freedom once she provided a male heir.

In this instance Sarah was no longer interested in keeping Ishmael and forced both to leave.  However, God sent an angel and preserved their lives (Genesis 21:1-21).

We all go through moments of failure and doubt, but as we push through these times and continue to believe, they ultimately will not define our walk with God.

Sources:

Did the Holy Spirit fall upon a man to stop a mass murderer?

Stephen Willeford Credit: Steven Crowder Youtube show

Stephen Willeford Credit: Steven Crowder Youtube show

It may challenge the theology of some. But Stephen Willeford, 55, said the Holy Spirit came upon him to help stop Devin Kelley the man responsible for killing 28 people at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, Nov 5, 2017

In an interview with Steven Crowder the day after the shooting, Willeford, a Christian, explained what happened.

After hearing shots being fired, Willeford who lives a block away, grabbed his AR-15 rifle and ran barefoot to find out what was going on.

When he arrived Kelley was leaving the church and Willeford ducked behind a truck parked in a neighbor’s driveway and the two began exchanging fire.

Willeford told Crowder:

“I’m a Christian, and I believe at that point, and maybe this sounds a little off to some of your viewers that aren’t Christians, [but] I believe the Holy Spirit was on me because I had the presence of mind to look at what was going on.”

During the shooting, Crowder noticed that Kelley was prepared for a fight and was wearing a tactical helmet and Kevlar bullet-proof body armor with plates front and back. He saw an opening along the side of Kelley’s body where the back and front sheets met and knew that is where he had to aim if he was going to take Kelley down.

In the midst of this gunfight, Willeford said:

“I can’t explain the clarity of mind that I had. I can’t explain it.”

Though 20 yards away, Crowder hit Kelley forcing the killer into his vehicle that he had left running for a fast escape. When Kelley took off, Crowder waived down the driver of a truck that was passing by and had witnessed the shootout. He explained to the driver Johnnie Langendorff what was happening and the two roared off in pursuit of Kelley.

During the high-speed chase, Kelley lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a ditch.

Langendorff phone in their location to the police and Crowder got out with gun in hand, crouched behind the truck, and waited for the police to arrive. Crowder had hit Kelley a couple of times, but in the end Kelley seems to have shot himself.

Police found other guns and ammunition in Kelley’s car indicating he may have had other plans. It is hard to say how many more people would have died, if Crowder hadn’t stepped in.

He said at the end:

“I was there when nobody else was there.”

Crowder admitted the confrontation has affected him and admits he will probably need counseling.

So would the Holy Spirit come upon someone enabling them to purposefully wound or even kill another person?

First let’s deal with the Ten Commandments. The King James reads:

13 Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 10: 13 KJV)

Many of a more Liberal persuasion use this version that seems to suggest we are not to kill anyone as the basis for their argument opposing any kind of killing including capital punishment.

Like our English, the Hebrew language has two different words to describe killing, It had “harag” that refers to killing or taking a life and can include killing both humans and animals and “ratzach” that refers more specifically to murder, the illegal taking of a human life.

The King James Bible, that is still one of the more widely used versions today, didn’t get the translation wrong. When it was written in 1611, the word ‘kill’ at that time referred to murder. The word has changed over the last 500 years and today refers to simply taking a life of any kind and murder refers to the illegal taking of a human life.

The Hebrew word used in the Ten Commandments is “ratzah” that refers to murder, which is how the modernized New King James Bible now translates the verse:

13 “You shall not murder. (Exodus 10:13 NKV)

We also have Old Testament examples of how the Holy Spirit fell upon people enabling them to fight their enemies. In Judges 14:19, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson allowing him to fight and kill Philistines.

In Judges 6:34-35, we read how the Holy Spirit fell upon Gibeon to lead men into battle, and in 1 Chronicles 12:18, the Holy Spirit anointed men who would become officers in David’s army.

Though not common, there were times the Holy Spirit fell upon people to enable victory in battle an unfortunate need in a fallen world.

Sources:

NEOM: What is happening in the Middle East now?

Riyadh City, Saudia Arabia. Credit: B.alotaby/Wikipedia

Riyadh City, Saudia Arabia. Credit: B.alotaby/Wikipedia

Could you find the city of Neom on a map? It hasn’t been built yet, but it is a serious proposal. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a proposal to build a new super city in a remote place near the Red Sea.

The cost is estimated at 400 billion and if it is built, it should be like a combination of Las Vegas and Hong Kong, in the Middle East. The proposal includes a bridge to Egypt and links to Jordan; and this is never mentioned in the literature, but it will be very close to Israel.

If you could stand on a boat at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, you could turn your head and see four countries; Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. All four countries converge at that location.

Saudi Arabia has huge oil deposits about two thousand kilometres from Neom, on the eastern side of the country. It also controls the Muslim holy city of Mecca, about a thousand kilometres south. Neom is the empty corner.

The concept is a city without the religious restrictions and the potential for strife found in other parts of the country. Saudi Arabia is famous for its rigid Islamic religion, and some neighboring countries, on the south and east are hostile, which pretty much kills any tourist industry. Neom would be peaceful and secular.

The Egyptians have developed a huge tourist industry on their side of the border, next to Neom, and Europeans fly there by the thousands.

Neom is an interesting concept, and it could be world-changing. Imagine mega outlet malls, resort hotels, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and perfect weather. This could work.

Now back to Israel. The Saudis are astute traders, and they would never invest 400 billion next to hostile neighbors, where the investment could be lost in a war. There must be an understanding with all three neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and the Jews of Israel.

When I was a boy I remember a speaker in a church who talked about Bible prophecy; things that will happen in the future. He said something that didn’t make sense at the time, but he insisted. At the end of this age in history, Israel will be attacked by nations far away. Huge armies will assemble in a valley in northern Israel called “Megiddo” or “Hor [valley] Megiddo” or “Armageddon” in English. That is where God will intervene and destroy them.

The speaker told us that the Arab neighbors are not mentioned among the hostile armies, and he thought they would stop trying to destroy Israel. I couldn’t see that, at the time.

“Gog in the land of Magog. He is the most important leader of the nations of Meshech and Tubal.” (Ezekiel 38: verse 2) and “Soldiers from Persia, Ethiopia, and Put will be with them.” (verse 5) and

In the later years you will come into the land that has been healed from war. The people in that land were gathered from many nations and brought back to the mountains of Israel. In the past, the mountains of Israel had been destroyed again and again. But these people will have come back from those other nations. They all will have lived in safety. But you will come to attack them. You will come like a storm. You will come like a thundercloud covering the land. You and all your groups of soldiers from many nations will come to attack them. (Ezekiel 38: 8 and 9)

The speaker also showed us the Bible predictions that the people of Israel would escape. That also made no sense; escaping into rugged desert country populated by hostile neighbors would be certain death. Millions of people could not do that. The speaker was certain, the Arab neighbors would stop fighting with Israel and they would build dormitory cities that the refugees could use. This will be God’s provision for the Jews of Israel, in preparation for the end.

And -blink- it just happened, or at least what the speaker predicted is proposed, and it was impossible a few weeks ago.

I don’t remember that man’s name, but what he predicted seems to be happening. He wanted us to know that God cares for us and keeps all His promises. I am not sure that Neom will be the great place of refuge, but it is the opposite of what we had a few weeks ago, and it shows a trend. The Bible predicted that trend thousands of years ago.

I think we all know that the world is moving to a breaking point, and the issues are becoming extreme. Choose your poison; global warming, nuclear winter, World War three, and whatever I forgot to mention. The whole world expects something global and dangerous. I believe our problems will grow until only God can fix them; and He will do that.

The people in Judea at that time should run away to the mountains. They should run away without wasting time to stop for anything. If they are on the roof of their house, they must not go down to get anything out of the house. If they are in the field, they must not go back to get a coat. During that time, it will be hard for women who are pregnant or have small babies! Pray that it will not be winter or a Sabbath day when these things happen and you have to run away. (Matthew 24: 16 to 20)

Struggling to love unconditionally

Credit: Christian R. Hamacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Christian R. Hamacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Loving others unconditionally (without any conditions, or expectations attached) does not come naturally for me or anyone I know.

The question is how does one DO unconditional love (live it out, act and think).

In order for me to extend unconditional love to others  I must have  a reason. What would motivate me to love others unconditionally and withhold judgement.

Glynnis Whitwer from First5.org ministry says that we must ‘find the why’ and reason for our motivation to love unconditionally. The Apostle Paul writes:

“For we were once thoughtless and senseless, obstinate, deluded and misled  . .  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:3-4)

Everyday, I must be mindful of the reason I choose to love unconditionally which is  to  honor God’s gift of grace to me by reflecting it back into my world.

In the Old Testament, the Jews had rules and regulations to please God and the Greeks lived to appease their god’s anger. The ancient god’s were not known for their love of humans.

Fear of punishment was the motivation for their choices.

Whitwer says:

“It is so easy to forget why we are to do good. We love unconditionally because we have been loved unconditionally. When we forget this ‘why’ we fall into the trap of religion.  We become consumed with the rules and obsess over ‘right’ behaviour.  We judge others by their choices and use it to justify our lack of mercy and kindness.”

So how do we do this?

‘Holding space’ is a phrase that writer Heather Plett uses to help us practice unconditional love. When we hold space for someone (spouse, friend, kids) we’re not trying to fix the problem or control the choices they make.

Plett writes:

“Holding space means just being there, showing up, and listening deeply without judgement and trusting the person to figure things out for themselves.”

When we do this, it can feel like we’re doing nothing, but in fact we are there to support and love unconditionally.

A year ago our daughter was struggling to make decisions about her future as she was going to school and working at the same time.

It seemed that my helpful advice only brought confusion and tangled up her thought processes. It took a few months for me to understand that what she really needed was for me to just be there (hold space), not offer advice or try to fix things for her.

We always feel like we need to do something when someone is struggling or hurting.  People need our presence more than they need our actions or advice.

I was actually ‘taking her power away’ by trying to fix her problems and advise her. I realized I needed to change my approach.

When she saw that I wasn’t trying to help her anymore she was ‘empowered’ to make a decision without worrying about me second guessing her decisions.

Part of loving unconditionally is making the person feel free enough to make mistakes. Somehow this helps de-tangle their thought processes and their fear of failure.

Offering gentle help and guidance needs to come from a place that is supportive and non-judgemental. It is a place of humility. They feel you are there for them whatever decision or choice they make.

They do not need to feel shamed for not knowing the right thing to do.  They do not need to live in fear of our anger or try to appease us by making choices that will keep us happy.

I liberated my daughter to make decisions that she felt were best for her.  Whether she was right or wrong in my eyes didn’t matter. I had enabled (empowered) her to make a decision without trying to please me or her dad.

This is particularly important for our kids as they transition into adulthood. When we give them freedom to make their own decisions, they will get more out of it than if we dump a pile of information and advice on them.

Loving unconditionally or holding space is not easy to do, because our human tendency is to want to fix people, give them advice or judge them for not being further along the path than they are.

We need to love unconditionally, without conditions, as God loves us.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Denzel Washington and director prayed every day while shooting ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq’

Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize concert. Photo Harry Wad / Wikipedia

Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize concert. Photo Harry Wad / Wikipedia

Denzel Washington, 62, has won two Academy Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor in the 1989 movie Glory and Best Actor in 2001 for his role in Training Days. He has also won a Tony Award and three Gold Globes.

Gospel Herald recently interviewed Denzel about his most recent movie, Roman J. Israel, Esq. Though, not overtly Christian, Denzel said the movie is filled with Biblical themes including sacrifice as a man gave up a successful career for a cause he believed in. The movie is scheduled for release on November 22, 2017.

In the interview, Denzel shared a couple of things I found interesting.

First, Denzel and Dan Gilroy, the producer and writer of the movie, prayed and read a Bible devotional together every day during filming. Denzel said, “Dan and I have been prayer partners during this whole collaboration.”

It is tough for Christians to speak out in Hollywood, when fellow celebrities not only oppose faith in God, but blatantly mock it.

Such as former Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton who mocked prayer on Twitter after the recent Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. When House Speaker Paul Rand sent out a tweet asking people to pray for those at the church, Wheaton responded:

“The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of sh–.”

There is an intense amount of pressure on Christians to just keep quiet. I have appreciated Denzel’s increasing willingness to stand for his faith particularly during these days.

The second thing I noticed is Denzel’s reference to a prophetic word that an older woman in his church gave him when he was just 20 years old. Denzel’s dad was a Pentecostal preacher.

Denzel told Gospel Herald, “I speak now and I’m doing what God told me to do from the beginning. It was prophesied that I would travel the world and preach to millions of people. It was prophesied when I was 20, I thought it was through my work and it has been.”

In an interview with Access Hollywood, Denzel shared more of the story on what happened. He even remembered the specific date that it took place because it had been written down. He received the message in a beauty parlor where his mother worked:

“It was March 27, 1975. I started acting four months later. She said, “You know young man, you are going to travel the world and speak or preach to millions of people…

She said that, and then she wrote “prophecy.” She couldn’t even spell it well. Then my mother wrote “preacher.” And then I wrote my name—and it was on a blue envelope; I still have it.

So when she left, I said to my mother, “Who was that lady?” She said, “Well, she’s one of the oldest church members in town, and she’s known to have the gift of prophecy.”

He told the Gospel Herald, “I’m all about the message, to the degree that I know it, and I’m unashamed and unafraid to share it.”

God had a purpose for Denzel when he was 20 years old.  Denzel added that he is praying for the millennials who are the same age he was when God called him.

It is difficult to share a message about God, when many on social media are mocking people of faith. Millenials need the strength to stand for their beliefs, even when their peers are shouting for them to sit down.

Denzel referred to a word that another pastor had given him, that “God puts leaders in place for a reason and a season.”

Sources:

The 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution and the birthing of the first Communist state

Moscow's Red Square Credit: viktor/Flickr

Moscow’s Red Square Credit: viktor/Flickr

I remember as a university student walking the halls crowded with tables of various communist groups peddling their wares. We had the Leninists, Maoists, Marxists and Stalinists. Each with their table full of booklets, leaflets and books promoting their particular brand of the ‘glorious’ revolution.

Of course, communism in its various forms was birthed in the heart of German Karl Marx (1818–1883) who along with Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto that became the staple for modern communism.

November 7, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution that paved the way for the world’s first communist state. It was the first of many countries that would eventually fall to this evil philosophy.

Ironically, the communist revolution that claimed to be the savior of the people resulted in the slaughter of over 100 million people world-wide. This was the estimate presented in book published by Harvard University Press, The Black Book of Communism.

Published in 1997, its numbers are a bit outdated.

The Black Book records there were 20 million killed during Stalin’s bloody regime. However, a high level Soviet official given the task of calculating the death toll during Stalin’s reign under reformist Mikhail Gorbachev put the total closer to 70 million.

The book also estimates the number of deaths in China under Mao’s brutal cultural revolution at 60 million, but most now believe it was closer to 70 million.

The actual number of people slaughtered by communism around the world is well in excess of a 140 million and it grows every day.

But even this number doesn’t include the deaths during World War II. Though leftists liken Adolf Hitler to a right-wing fascist, in fact he was leader of the National Socialist Party of Germany (NAZI).

This explains his initial kindred spirit with Stalin at the beginning of the war, but it finally broke down when Hitler, who also craved the Soviet Union’s natural resources, did not want to share Europe with Stalin. An estimated 60 million people died during World War II including 6 million Jews in concentration camps.

So how do you explain the countless millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and others?

When a person gets into discussions with modern communists, most peddle the line that no one has tried pure communism and somehow their version would turn out different from every other attempt in world history.

But is there more to communism than an economic theory. Is it an evil philosophy, governed by an evil force?

Karl Marx the founder of modern communism was a prolific writer. He was also a poet and his poetry carried an ominous, even satanic tone. In his poem entitled The Player, Marx wrote:

“The hellish vapours rise and fill the brain, till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed.

See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.”

And this wasn’t his only poem with satanic undertones and though communists try to sluff it off as just poetry, what followed communism has been violence, death, torture and despair.

Another interesting fact also emerges, perhaps it is just a coincidence as well.

In an early chapter of the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John refers to the existence of the Throne of Satan in the city of Pergamon:

13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Revelation 2:13 NASV)

In this passage, the Apostle John says that Satan actually ruled spiritually from where this physical throne sat.

In 1878, German archaeologists uncovered the largely intact altar of Satan — the massive altar of Zeus. In 1901, it was taken apart and transferred to Berlin’s Museum Island — renamed Pergamon Museum in honor of its most famous relic.

Thirteen years later, World War I broke out with the Germany resulting in the deaths of an estimated 16 million people.

Then in 1939, Germany under Adolf Hitler initiated World War II with a goal along with his Axis allies of world domination.

Then a curious thing happens. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Soviet Union captured Berlin and in 1945 transferred the throne of Satan to the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. Stalin who died in 1953 was arguably the bloodiest mass murderer in the history of the world.

Now to be fair, Stalin was involved in mass murder before the throne of Satan arrived, but after the war, Stalin set up the Eastern Bloc enslaving many of the countries the Soviets had supposedly liberated in their push to take Germany.

Similar to Hitler, for the next few decades communism pushed for world domination as we entered the Cold War years.

Satan’s altar was finally returned to Germany in 1958 and has been there ever since.

So was Marx’s poetry and movement of the Throne of Satan just one big coincidence or was it a sign of something more sinister?

Sources:

White Privilege and Lido Pimienta

Credit: Taema/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Taema/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are people with white skin privileged? Do we need to give special treatment to people with dark skin? People are talking about this.

On October 19, 2017, a singer named Lido Pimienta went on stage at the Halifax Pop Explosion music festival to sing. Halifax is in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Lido is a woman, originally from Colombia, South America.

Before she sang, she told white people and men in the audience, to move to the back, and she instructed women with dark skin to move to the front rows, close to her. Some people argued that this was racism, and a female photographer with light skin stayed near the stage to take pictures. She was ordered to move to the back several times, and then security removed her from the festival. Organizers have since apologized to Lido Pimienta for the photographer’s overt racism.

Arguments have ensured. One quote from the discussion in the Global News article is:

“I’m sorry but isn’t that the epitome of racism? Dividing people on the basis of skin colour. White people go to the back of the bus! Haven’t they learned anything from history? I’ve never heard of this Lido before but she sure sounds immature.”

So, what do you think?

What singer said this “Thank you, thank you very much”? Those words are a trademark of Elvis Presley, one of the most successful music stars in history. He started as a handsome and talented young man, and he was always polite and respectful to the public. His formula worked, and most successful entertainers are like him.

Lido Pimiento now has many critics, and I don’t want to pile on, but I guess she has damaged her music career. She was gaining positive fame, but now most of us only know about her from the problem in Halifax.

Many disagree with Lido Pimienta, but that is not the end of the story. I think she had the wrong solution for a real problem. We can criticize the failings of others, and there are so many, that could be a full-time job. It is more important to know and show the best way.

Have you met a Moravian Christian?

They are a small denomination with churches in Pennsylvania and Alberta, and parts of South America, and they have an interesting history. There is a story that two Moravian Missionaries sold themselves as slaves around 1732, so they could preach to African slaves near South America. At the time, it was common to believe that slaves with dark skin did not have souls.

Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann were willing to sell themselves, but we don’t know if they actually did; the story is lost in history.

We do know that white privilege was very real at the time, and as Christians they chose to obey God, at any cost. They didn’t argue and offend, they acted. They knew the instructions for Christians:

“Love must be sincere. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another. Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer. Share with the saints who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12: 9 to 13)

Recently, a man tried to hug me. I settled for a handshake, but he was very happy with me. We were in an industrial yard filled with large trucks and semi trailers, and truck drivers. I had just finished teaching a course that drivers need if they want to work, and I showed them how to pass the government test.

I am not a hero, I did my job for pay, but I am a Christian. I guess that some others, in the industry, don’t bother teaching some people. That man had a turban, and his skin was darker than mine. I think I opened the door for him, when others would not, and he had a chance to get a job and support his family.

The darkness is thick sometimes.

My story is really about the cruel world around me. We should all get this lesson; simply live like a Christian, and you will be different from the world around you, like a candle in a dark room.

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness. (Isaiah 9: 2 and 3)

God’s prophetic voice needed today

As I read about the massacre of 26 people (ages five to 72) in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during their Sunday morning service, it struck me how we need God to speak and warn us.

Sutherland Springs located 30 miles southeast of San Antonia is a small town of just 400 people. yet somehow evil found its way there.

Twenty were also injured in the attack by gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26. A former member of the air force, a self-proclaimed atheist and loner, Kelley apparently killed himself after careening off the road in a chase after the shooting.

Two days earlier — Friday, November 3, 2017 — a neighbor attacked Christian politician Senator Paul Rand as he returned home. Rand suffered five broken ribs and lung contusions. According to a report on the Daily Caller, another person who lives on the same block alleges the attacker is an “avowed socialist” who fought with other neighbors over politics.

Despite this underlying issue, recent media reports suggest that conflicts over landscaping issues may have been the underlying motivation for the attack. However, some neighbors have since stepped forward claiming that landscaping had nothing to do with this blindside assault.

This was the second time that Rand was attacked, the first one being in June when a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican politicians attending a baseball practice. Another believer, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, was seriously wounded in that attack.

These are dangerous times, even for Christians.

And because of this, we need credible prophetic voices to rise up in churches across the country to sound the alarm to Christians as the prophet Agabus did for the Apostle Paul (Acts 21:7-14). I am so convinced of this I asked a friend, Wayne Johnston, who ministers in the prophetic, to write a series of articles on prophecy.

I have also written articles of how God gave prophetic words to movie actors Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington about the fame that lay ahead for them. In Pratt’s case, his prophetic word came to pass within a couple of weeks.

I also wrote of a prophecy that spared the Kardashian family from the Armenian genocide.

The prophet Amos wrote:

“Surely the Lord God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:7-8 NASV)

God wants to reveal things to His people. But for that to happen, we need people raised up with a prophetic calling and voice in these critical days who God can communicate with.

One of those prophets was Kim Clement. Kim died November 23, 2016 from health complications due to bleeding in his brain.

Referred to as the singing prophet, Clement prophesied of events that would strike America. In the video above you can see prophetic words given by Clement that related to the 911 attack in New York and the capture of Osama bin Laden, plus other notable incidents.

You can watch the video yourself and decide if God still speaks today through prophets.

In his teaching on spiritual gifts, the Apostle Paul wrote:

14 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 NASV)

Sources:

 

Conservative organization suing Google and YouTube for censorship

Dennis Prager speaking a CPAC 2016. Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia

Dennis Prager speaking a CPAC 2016. Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia

Popular Conservative columnist and radio-host Dennis Prager recently announced his nonprofit organization, Prager University (PragerU), is taking YouTube and its owners Google to court alleging that it has imposed a “political gag mechanism” on some of PragerU’s information and news videos.

PragerU, that is being represented in part by Liberty Counsel, alleges YouTube is using a number of mechanism to restrict PragerU’s videos from being viewed. This includes a filtering mode intended to restrict access to certain videos that YouTube believes could potentially harm and offend younger and sensitive viewers.

It has also demonetized some videos not allowing his PragerU to earn ad revenues. The organization first noticed the problem in July 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that the restricted mode has been put on videos talking about such themes as North Korea, Israel and Supreme Court decisions.  In some instances, YouTube has restricted access to PragerU videos because they use such words as “genocide,” “hate” and “terrorism.”

Liberty Counsel said in its news release:

“While PragerU videos have been censored, the same subject matters posted by liberal groups have not been censored.”

According to Liberty Counsel, YouTube has admitted that PragerU’s videos were censored by its staff and not always by software.

PragerU alleges that YouTube’s filtering is not intended to restrict access to offensive material but rather serves as a political gag on conservative voices such a PragerU that supports Judaeo-Christian values.

While businesses are not bound by free speech provisions in the constitution, the state of California, where YouTube is headquartered, has ruled that private corporations are bound by free speech.

Speaking on behalf of Liberty Counsel, its founder Mat Staver said:

“In California, it’s one of the few states in the country that applied free speech principles to private shopping malls. That idea was these are the new, modern public forums like the streets, sidewalks and parks. And what is the modern public forum now more than a shopping mall? It’s YouTube.”

Meanwhile Breitbart recently wrote an article on documents released to the Conservative news organization by employees of Google talking about its bias against conservative voices.

This included screen grabs surrounding discussion about a poll conducted at Google  asking if the culture is improving at the dominating IT corporation. The majority, 74%, said no.

One Google employee wrote:

“The political correctness is out of this world. There’s a huge and loud contingent of butthurt pearl-clutchers who call everything offensive and who can’t tolerate any humor. The company openly discriminates against white men. It arbitrarily censors the political opponents of the founders. It fires people for speaking scientific truths. The company even throws its money around to silence critics. Is Google really a good place?

“Right now it’s a mixture of Vogons, the inquisition and the old lady who peeks through the blinds all day.”

Even Liberal workers at Google acknowledge there is a problem with one posting:

“I’m quite liberal myself. I voted for Jill Stein and support equal rights for all. But the situation at Google is completely out of control. Inclusion is used as an excuse to silence or punish others and it clearly isn’t making the company a better place to work. Instead it divides us into factions and pits us against each other.”

Sources:

Poll: Jewish Millennials express an unusual interest in Christ

Jews for Jesus office in Kentish Town, London, England Credit: Jim Linwood/Wikipedia

Jews for Jesus office in Kentish Town, London, England Credit: Jim Linwood/Wikipedia

A survey of American Jewish Millennials, those born between 1984 and 1999, revealed a surprising acceptance of Jesus.

The poll of 599 Jews aged 18 to 33, found that 48% of them celebrated Christmas, 33% said that God desires a personal relationship with people and 28% looked upon Jesus as a spiritual leader.

However, what was perhaps most shocking is that 21% of them said Jesus was God incarnate. Essentially, over one in five believed Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.

The poll conducted by Barna Group on behalf of Jews for Jesus further discovered that Jewish Millennials have a higher interest in spiritual matters than previous generations of Jews.

Jews for Jesus is a Christian organization made up of Jews who have accepted Christ as the Messiah.

Many Jewish scholars were completely caught off guard by this poll that Barna titled: Jewish Millennials: The Beliefs and Behaviors Shaping Young Jews in America.

Stanford University Jewish Professor Ari Kelman said as part of the report:

“These don’t look like the Jews I recognize. I was not willing to just write them off entirely. Maybe these are Jews we’ve never seen before. We know religion is changing, we know parameters of identity are changing, so why would we expect different generations to look exactly the same?”

Despite his misgivings about Jews for Jesus , Kelman who teaches Jewish studies, admitted that Barna is a reputable survey group and the stats would be accurate.

So what is happening to Jewish Millennials in America?

Are we witnessing the first stage in a profound shift of Jewish perspectives on Jesus as the Jewish Messiah?

The Apostle Paul, citing Isaiah 59:20-21, referred to a future day when the Jews would turn to Christ in massive numbers:

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” (Romans 11: 25-27 NASV)

According to Paul, the Jews acceptance of Christ would take place after the fullness of the gentiles had come into the Kingdom of God.

Several other Old Testament passages also spoke of Israel accepting the new covenant that God was going to make with them (Jeremiah 31:33-34). It certainly hasn’t happened yet, but the prophet Jeremiah referred to a day when the Jews would “‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”

But there are other passages that seem to connect this acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah with Christ’s second coming.

In his sermon to the Jewish crowds on the Day of Pentecost, Peter seemed to imply that Christ would not return until the Jews accepted Christ as the Messiah:

19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, (Acts 3:19-20 NASV)

Jesus seemed to suggest the same thing, when He said they would not see Him again until they recognized Christ as the Messiah:

39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ (Matthew 23:39 NIV)

This may suggest that one of the signs pointing to Christ’s second return is Jews accepting Christ as their Messiah in significant numbers.

Is Jewish Millennial’s heightened interest in spiritual matters and Jesus Christ preparing the way for the Lord’s second coming?

Sources:

 

Martin Luther not only believed in salvation by faith but also divine healing

Roman Catholic officials confronted Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms to force him to recant of his heresies Painting by Anton Werner (1843-1915)/Wikipedia

Roman Catholic officials confronting Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms to force him to recant of his heresies Painting by Anton Werner (1843-1915)/Wikipedia

When Martin Luther pounded his 95 theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, he was trying to reform the corrupt Roman Catholic church.

The impotence for this decision 500 years ago was the arrival of Johann Tetzel who was selling indulgences on behalf of the Pope who was raising money to renovate St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

The purchase allowed people to buy their way into heaven. They could even buy it for a deceased friend or relative.

Tetzel said, “Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

The front door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany where Luther pounded his 97 theses. Note: these are not the original doors that were apparently destroyed in a fire. Creidt A.Savin/Wikipedia

The front door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany on which Maring Luther pounded his 95 theses. Note: these are not the original wooden doors that were apparently destroyed in a fire. Credit A.Savin/Wikipedia

In his 95 theses. Luther wrote that the Bible, not the Pope or traditions of the church, was the final authority for the believer. It stated that a person could not buy his way into heaven, salvation was based on faith alone.

Luther who had his doctorate in theology and was teaching a the University of Wittenberg was struck by a passage in Romans that righteousness could only come through faith, not money:

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 NASV)

However, the Roman Catholic church was not interested in reform and quickly turned on Luther accusing him of heresy and called for this renegade monk to recant. Luther refused birthing the Protestant church.

But from his study of the Bible, Luther was also convinced the same faith that led to salvation could be used for divine healing.

In his book, This Day in Religion, Ernie Gross tells the story of the divine healing of Friedrich Myconius a coworker of Martin Luther in the reformation.

Friedrich who pastored in Gotha and Leipzig, Germany fell deathly ill in 1540 and by the description it sounded like he had tuberculosis, a death sentence in that day. As he became increasingly ill, Friedrich was unable to speak and finally in trembling hands wrote a letter to Martin Luther as a last good-bye to his coworker in Christ.

When he received the news, Luther immediately responded with a letter of faith proclaiming healing for his friend:

“I command thee in the name of God to live because I till have need of thee in the work of reforming the church… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name God.”

Myconius said that as soon as he read Luther’s words, he was instantly healed and would actually outlive Luther by two months.

Yet despite the protestant church starting on this foundation of faith in salvation and divine healing, there are a many Christians today who don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, divine healing and ministries such as the prophet and apostle.

Yet, they still believe in salvation by faith.

What happened?

It can be traced back to the influence of an American Plymouth Brethren minister John Darby (1800-1882). He developed and preached a message of dispensationalism that would sweep the church of the day.

It taught that the Bible was broke up into different dispensations where God moved in a unique way.  What happen in one dispensation did not apply in the next.

In the early church, they believed in divine healing, spiritual gifts, apostles and prophets.  But Darby insisted that we lived in a different age, the end times, and divine healing and the spiritual gifts were no longer in effect.

Darby was also one of the first to promote the pre-trib rapture that believes Christians are caught up to heaven before the end-times judgements fell.

In my opinion, dispensationalism is one of the great heresies to hit the modern church.

Fortunately, God was not done and through a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Azusa street in Los Angeles in 1906 restored the gifts of the Holy Spirit and divine healing.

Healing is for today, so pray for the sick, just as Martin Luther did.

Sources:

The invisible woman

Painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) Credit: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston/Wikipedia

Painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) Credit: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston/Wikipedia

Do you sometimes feel invisible to the people you interact with during the day.  Even if acknowledged it often doesn’t feel sincere enough to satisfy you.

I felt that way for many years. I believed I wasn’t significant enough to be acknowledged and seen for who I really was. People didn’t really know me.

I have learned after all these years that the way I was feeling (insignificant in the eyes of others) was a mirror reflection of the way I really felt about myself.

I had to dive deep into my emotions and my  past  to find the source of my  invisibility pattern.  So much of what I was mirroring to others was directly related to things that happened to me 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

In other words, in my own eyes I was invisible and felt unworthy of the attention and significance that came from wholesome relationships that I really longed for.

Often women are stuck in ‘old stories’, experiences and unpleasant memories that leave us struggling in our everyday interaction with people. We believe others think we are insignificant, because we consider ourselves insignificant.

I allowed my past woundings to stifle my  emotional and spiritual growth.

We end up wallowing in the limited beliefs we have created about ourselves because of these experiences. Our lack of self-worth and limiting beliefs shape our future possibilities, choices and actions without even realizing it.

This is often called ‘our inner glass ceiling.’

I had placed limitations on myself from old stories of the past.  These acted as a glass ceiling that I kept bouncing off.  I was  stifling myself  and pulling  back when I could have moved forward.

Many times we are still blaming something or someone as the reason we can’t move forward and be successful now. We will remain powerless to change if we keep blaming our past circumstances for the present.

Life wasn’t happening to me, life and people were responding to me.

I have been working at  shattering my glass ceiling ( old limiting core beliefs) for some time now.  Often the way people respond to me helps me  recognize whether I am mirroring a woman who holds significance and feels good about herself or if I am reflecting back to them one who is still caught in ‘old stories’ and experiences from my past.

Throwing  off those old beliefs that were formed from past experiences has been possible for me through  forgiving those who hurt and offended me. Are their specific incidents that come to your memory of things that happened years ago that devalued you?  Things people said to you or about you?

We need to forgive and keep forgiving until those memories begin to fade.

Once we have thrown off the old, then we can connect with our true identity that is in Christ. We are loved and we hold great value and worth in the eyes and heart of God.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKV)

‘Something different’ about this Bubonic plague says health official

A school in Madagascar Credit: lemurbaby/Wikipedia

A school in Madagascar Credit: lemurbaby/Wikipedia

It always concerns me when health experts use phrases like “something different” and “health officials couldn’t explain it.”

These were the words expressed by a World Health Organization (WHO) official describing a recent outbreak of the Bubonic plague on the island nation of Madagascar. Located off the southeastern coast of Africa, it has a population of 25 million.

Also referred to as the Black Death, the Bubonic plague gained its fame when it ravaged Europe during the 1300s and 1400s killing 75 million to 100 million people, decimating a third of the population.

The outbreak on Madagascar was not so serious. It infected 1,300 people killing 125. But nevertheless it was over double the number who normally catch the plague on the island nation each year.

The Bubonic plague is a very serious bacterial infection that results in death upwards of 60% of the time if untreated. Its symptoms include headache, fever, stomach pains and chills. But it’s best known for the painful swelling of the lymph nodes that can break open resulting in bleeding. These then turn black as the tissue dies (gangrene) — thus the name Black Death.

But aside from the increased numbers, the Madagascar outbreak concerned WHO officials for another reason.

Nearly 70% of the cases involved the pneumonia form of the plague that can be spread through the air by coughing and can result in death within 24 hours. As a result, the Madagascar outbreak spread to areas of the country that had not seen incidents of the plague since 1950. Because of this, nine countries have been put on alert for possible infection.

Most believe the Bubonic plague that hit Europe was the version transmitted by fleas. The bacteria causes a blockage in the throats of the flea preventing it from consuming blood.  As it becomes hungrier it becomes more aggressive in seeking out a host spreading the disease.

However, due to how quickly the plague spread through Europe, some have wondered if the pneumonia type was also involved.

An article on Breaking Israel News also suggests that the Bible records a couple of outbreaks of the Bubonic plague. During Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, God struck the Egyptians with 10 different judgements.

The sixth describes boils that broke out on a person’s body, one of the symptoms of the Bubonic plague:

It will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast through all the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 9:9 NASV)

A second possible reference is found when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant. After setting up the ark in their temple dedicated to the god Dagon, God struck the Philistines with what the Bible describes as tumors or boils:

Now the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories. When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god.” (1 Samuel 5: 6-7 NASV)

The Hebrew word ‘baopalim” can be translated as “tumor,” “boil” or “abscess.” (It can also be translated “hemorrhoids” which some translations like the King James have used.)

We not only see similarities to the Bubonic plague in the boils but also in the gift the Philistines made when they finally returned the Ark to Israel to stop the affliction:

Then they said, “What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?” And they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords.

So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land.

Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? (1 Samuel 6:4-6 NASV)

Notice how it says they not only made golden images of the boils, but also of the mice that ravaged their land. If this was the Bubonic plague, mice or rats could be the carriers. We also note in verse six, a connection to the plague that hit Egypt.

A 2004 study by archaeologist Eva Panagiotakopulu from England’s University of Sheffield suggested that the Bubonic plague may have actually originated in Egypt. She was looking at fossilized insect remains and found evidence of human and cat fleas among Egyptian tombs where thousands of workers toiled. These would be carriers of the Bubonic plague.

This combined with ancient Egyptian descriptions found in the Ebers Papyrus (a medical text from 1500 BC that describes a disease with symptoms very similar to the Bubonic plague — bubo or swelling or boils that discharge pus) led Panagiotakopulu to wonder if this bacterial infection originated in Egypt.

In the Book of Revelation we see several warnings that God will strike the world with plagues in the end days (Revelation 11:6; 15:1). But along with these warning, there are promises throughout scripture that God will protect:

26 And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer. (Jehovah Rapha)” (Exodus 15:26 NASV)

We need to pray and claim this promise by Jehovah Rapha, one of the names of God that translated means “God our healer.”

Sources:

Are you ready for when “It Begins Nov 4?”

Montreal student riot May 19, 2012 Credit: scottmontreal/Flickr

Montreal student riot May 19, 2012 Credit: scottmontreal/Flickr

I am writing this a few days before the big day. It is always interesting to remember the time before it all happened. Apparently this is a time we will forget because big things will happen on November 4.

Some radical groups, mostly in the U.S. have committed themselves to a violent uprising on one day. The promise is a threat to anyone who thinks differently than them. Some opponents think this promise is only bait, to make any opposers look bad and to get them arrested when they try to stop the uprising.

“Take To The Streets And Public Squares in cities and towns across the country continuing day after day and night after night—not stopping—until our DEMAND is met”

Are you ready?

I don’t know what will actually happen, maybe some angry demonstrations, but I am not worried about the action, I am afraid of the reaction. The police know more about this than us, and they have been getting ready for weeks.

My high school was a center for local radicals, many years ago. They had long hair and wore army surplus jackets, and they like to shout things at student assemblies. They also had violent demonstrations in a park near the police station.

One day the story went around our school that demonstrators had tried to rush the police station, and the police countered with a large angry dog. Possibly, the police let go of the leash, and the radical hippies ran away and never came back. There were no more demonstrations.

We also had the hockey riot of 2006, when our team won the final game.

It was dangerous, but it all ended with cold water from the fire department. You can see this on the video.

November 4 is a lesson for us ‘Count the cost before you do anything extreme; there is an opposing side.’ Jesus talked about this: “

Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This man could not finish what he started to build.’

Or what king on his way to war with another king will not first sit down and consider whether he can engage with ten thousand men the one coming against him with twenty thousand? And if he is unable, he will send a delegation while the other king is still far off, to ask for terms of peace.” (Luke 14: 28 to 32)

I don’t think the radicals who threaten violence have counted the cost; boasting is too much fun.

Also in the Bible, the end will begin with a warrior on a white horse. You might know about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, who are also the first four seals, of the seven seals. Picture seven wax seals on a scroll, each broken until the scroll can be opened and read, and four horsemen, on a white horse, and then red, black and pale. The pale horse is death. These images come up often in literature and movies.

The sequence is 1) conquering 2) violence 3) famine 4) death and then violence against God’s people, which provokes a reaction from God. See the book of Revelation chapter 6; this is a large part of the apocalypse which leads to the second coming of Jesus. If you are wondering, the Antichrist and 666 appear in Revelation chapter 13.

The big picture is that proud and boastful people will light a fire, which will lead to explosive destruction, until God intervenes. November 4 might not be the final fire, but it easy to see how it will all end. We will be the authors of our own destruction.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.

At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24: 7 to 14)

CERN scientist admits universe should not exist

The Milky Way viewed from Chile. Credit: Bruno Gilli/ESO/Wikipedia

The Milky Way viewed from Chile. Credit: Bruno Gilli/ESO/Wikipedia

A physicist with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, recently admitted in an interview with Newsweek that the universe is defying the laws of physics.

CERN physicist Christian Smorra said, “The universe should not exactly exist.”

With an annual budget of $1.24 billion, CERN, located in Switzerland, has a particle accelerator deep underground. They use this 17-mile long circular accelerator to have particles traveling at nearly the speed of light collide.

They have also been trying to find an imbalance between matter and antimatter. Since the matter and antimatter annihilate each other on contact, such an imbalance would be necessary for the universe to exist.

According to the Big Bang Theory the universe originally existed in pure energy the size of a thimble (literally the size of a thimble), this exploded in a “one trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second” to create all the matter that makes up the universe today.

However, if there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter, the universe should have self annihilated back into energy.

But it didn’t and because of this scientists reasoned there must be an imbalance between the amount of matter and antimatter. Using specially designed traps, they were able to capture and measure anti protons and despite repeated testing (350 times) with specially designed high-tech equipment they have not been able to discover an imbalance.

The universe’s very existence is breaking the laws of physics.

Some Biblical scholars believe that Big Bang Theory, based on the observed outward expanding movement of the universe from a central point, also perfectly explains creation when God instantly spoke the universe into existence from nothing.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3 NASV)

We can argue about the thimble later.

But with an equal amount of matter and antimatter something else must be holding it together.

Physicist Smorra said “All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist.”

So what is keeping the universe together?  Before we knew there was even a problem, the Apostle Paul wrote:

17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 NASV)

Sources:

The fiery trials of North Korea described as a ‘life of hell’

Painting of Nero's torches also referred to as Christian candlesticks by Henruk Siemiradzki (1843-1902) /Wikipedia

Painting of Nero’s torches also referred to as Christian candlesticks by Henruk Siemiradzki (1843-1902) /Wikipedia

In an interview with Fox News, Choi Kwanghyuk said he had never heard of underground churches until he managed to flee North Korea and its brutal dictator Kim Jung-un.

After his escape, Choi was granted asylum in the US in 2013 and now lives in Los Angeles.

While in North Korea, Choi was a member of  the country’s underground church. Though on paper, North Korea says religion is legal in the country, in reality the only god they are allowed to worship is its president Kim Jung-un.

Choi who lived in North Korea’s cold North Hamgyon province told Fox News there were nine members in their church and they were very reluctant to share their faith for fear of being found out because it would result in imprisonment and probably death.

Choi added that they had one Bible that they shared between them and they often held church services in a hole that they had dug in the ground as a storage place for kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage that is considered a national food in North Korea. It was even used in winter.

He told Fox News that they whispered any hymns that they sung to avoid being heard.

However, the authorities finally caught up with Choi. He was arrested, imprisoned, interrogated and tortured for his faith.

It was only after he found out that they were planning to send him to one of Kim Jung-un’s notorious death camps that Choi decided to try escaping.

A former guard of Camp 22, perhaps North Korea’s most notorious prison, stated that people are forced into slave labour on borderline starvation rations.

The guard who had managed to defect said that Camp 22 crams 100 into a room. The guards regularly beat the detainees for simple infractions as not bowing fast enough. They also repeatedly rape the women.

Torture is part of life in these camps, with many prisoners displaying outward signs such as gouged out eyes and scars.

Some of the favourite forms of torture included ‘pigeon torture’ where the prisoner’s hands are chained to the wall two feet off the ground and the person is forced to sit in this crouched positions for hours. Others are stuck in tanks of frigid water up to their nose and forced to stand on their tip toes to avoid drowning for as long as 24 hours.

The crimes that lead to such torture include simply sharing your faith with other Koreans or even just knowing a religious person — both considered acts of treason.

After escaping jail, Choi made his way to China and from there to the US. Today he works to expose Kim Jung-un’s brutality.

Choi describes the life of North Korean Christians as a “life of Hell.” One Christian organization that secretly works with North Korea’s underground church estimates there are 300,000 believers in that country.

The Apostle Peter wrote:

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; (1 Peter 4:12 NASV)

It is a bit odd that Peter described the trials that believers were experiencing during that time as “fiery.” But there may have been a reason for his usage of the word.

Most Bible scholars believe Peter wrote this letter sometime between 60 AD and 65 AD. The Emperor of Rome was Nero who ruled between 54 AD to 68 AD. He was a brutal dictator who even murdered his mother in 59 AD.

The ancient Roman senator and historian Tacitus wrote that many believed the great fire of 64 AD that destroyed a huge section of Rome was purposefully started by Nero. While Tacitus only reported it as a rumour other writers were more adamant accusing Nero of setting the fire to rid the city of its old buildings so he could modernize Rome and build his Golden House.

But the fire also destroyed the mansions of Rome’s political élite. With rumours circulating that Nero had ordered men to set the fire, Tacitus says the emperor tried to deflect the blame by accusing the Christians of starting it.

This resulted in a horrific persecution of believers. Tacitus wrote that Christians were “being thrown to the beasts, crucified, and being burned alive.”

When Peter wrote his first letter, he may have heard the stories coming out of Rome how Nero was having Christians dipped in wax or oil, tied to tall poles then lit on fire while still alive to provide lighting for Nero’s palace parties.

Was Peter referring to this brutal torture and death when he cited the “fiery” trials?

The ancient church historian Eusebius reported that Nero (or one of his henchmen) had the Apostle Paul beheaded in 67 AD suggesting he was caught up in this wave of persecution that followed the burning of Rome as well.

Sources:

Human ‘being’ or human ‘doer’

Credit: Alex Pang/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Alex Pang/Flickr/Creative Commons

A few weeks ago my husband and daughter noticed that I was tired and sleeping more than usual.

Immediately, I became angry and defensively opened my calendar to recount every thing I had done over the past two weeks that justified my tiredness.

My husband said to me, “it’s not about how much you have done or are doing.  Maybe, you need to go to the doctor and make sure it’s not your heart.  Your mother has heart disease.”

His concern for my health interrupted my rant and how much I had done (with proof written in my calendar). I thanked him for caring enough to say something.  He was not questioning my ‘doer’ abilities but was genuinely concerned about my health.

I was later moved to tears when I realized my Heavenly Father tries in the same way to push aside my “doing mindset” and convince me that “I am enough.”

God loves and accepts us just the way we are. There is nothing we can do to prove ourselves to our Heavenly Father.

But a person with a ‘doer mindset’ never feels they are doing enough. You don’t believe that people truly love or respect you, because you really don’t love yourself.

Recently, I read an article where the author referred to herself as a ‘recovering doer’. I was familiar with the term ‘recovering alcoholic’ but I had never heard of this term before.  It resonated deeply with me because ‘recovering doer’ was very much my journey.

During a conversation with several women we agreed that we were tired of being ‘human doers’ and needed to be ‘human beings.’ We recognized that many times we say ‘yes’ to people and things without taking the time to consider if this was supporting us and our responsibilities at that time in our lives.

When Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha at their home, Martha ran herself ragged to get the house ready and even became annoyed with her sister who was doing nothing but sitting at the feet of Jesus. While Martha tried to prove her worth by what she did, Mary realized she was already accepted and was able to sit in the presence of Christ.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things but few things are needed – or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Over the years, I have said yes to many things even when I didn’t have the time, energy or desire because I was trying to validate myself to someone. But really I was only trying to validate myself to me, because of how negatively I felt about myself.

I am ashamed to say there are times when I put the needs of others before my family and responsibilities.

Unfortunately, this also reflected my attitude towards God who I felt didn’t really accept me for who I was. Through our redemption in Christ, we need to understand that God accepts and loves us just as we are.

Our struggle is to believe this.

Even when we fail we can embrace ourselves in our shortcomings knowing we remain loved and supported by our Heavenly Father.

We must become free from the need to prove ourselves.

Now is the time for women to heal so that we can shine and truly reflect Christ’s love to the world.

We need to move from a place of ‘doing’ to just ‘being’ a child of God who is loved and embraced by our Heavenly Father through our ups and downs, struggles and failures.

The old commentator Matthew Henry wrote:

“There is a self-love that is corrupt and the root of the greatest sins and must be put off and mortified but there is a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty.  We must have a due concern for the welfare of our souls and bodies.”

Italian woman sweats blood confirming Luke 22:44

Considered to be the location of the Garden Gethsemane located at the foot of Mount Olives in Jerusalem where Jesus sweated blood Credit: tango7174/Wikipedia

T The site, located at the foot of Mount Olive in Jerusalem, considered by many to be the Garden of Gethsemane Credit: tango7174/Wikipedia

The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently published an article on the case of a 21-year-old Italian woman who has been bleeding blood from her face and hands.

Italian doctors reported that over the past three years the woman has gone through episodes were she spontaneously bled blood without any breakage in the skin. According to their report the episodes would last up to five minutes.

Though they occurred at any time from sleep to periods of exercise, doctors noted the bleeding intensified when she was under emotional stress.

Embarrassed by her condition, the young woman was becoming a loner refusing to leave her home.

After ruling out chromhidrosis, a condition that causes discolored sweat, doctors diagnosed the young woman with a rare condition called hematohidrosis – ‘blood sweat’, when people actually sweat blood.

Some believe it’s caused by rupturing capillaries near the sweat glands. This can happen during times of extreme fear or stress. An Indian health journal reported ‘blood sweat’ in cases of people about to be executed and even cited an incident that took place during the bombing of London in World War II.

Doctors were able to alleviate, but not completely cure the young woman’s condition, by prescribing high-blood pressure medication.

Many of us are familiar of the account in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus sweated blood during an intense time of prayer just before His crucifixion:

44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:44 NASV)

The Greek word ‘agonia’ refers to “extreme mental distress,” “intense sorrow,” “conflict” and “agony.”

Matthew similarly reported on Christ’s emotional turmoil:

38 Then He *said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38 NASV)

39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NASV)

What is this cup that Jesus referred to?

In Genesis, God told Abraham that he would not inherit the promised land, but it would be his descendants because the Amorites’s iniquity was not yet full. Once full, it would result in their expulsion from the land (Genesis 15:16).

When Israel entered the promised land, God told Israel that they were not inheriting it because of their righteousness, but because God was driving out the inhabitants due to their wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4-5).

Once their iniquity is full, God’s wrath is handed out to the nations in a cup  (Revelation 14:10; Psalm 11:6). Once they received this cup, their judgement came violently often through defeat in battle and captivity (Jeremiah 25:15-38).  Jeremiah describes this judgement as a time of horror (v 18).

The prophet also provides a unique description of people being forced to drink from this cup because of their sin:

12 For thus says the Lord, “Behold, those who were not sentenced to drink the cup will certainly drink it, and are you the one who will be completely acquitted? You will not be acquitted, but you will certainly drink it. (Jeremiah 49:12 NASV)

The intense agony Jesus experienced in the garden was the understanding that God was placing the sin of the world upon Him and He would now drink the cup of God’s wrath. This revelation was so stressful it resulted in ‘blood sweat.’

In fact, it may have been at this moment in the garden when God placed the sin of the world upon His sacrificial Lamb.

Sources:

 

 

Blood, sweat and tears: Humans really can sweat blood, doctors say: Leaderpost

Woman 21, ‘sweat’ blood from her face and the palms of her hands when she feels stressed or exercises and even when she sleeps in bizarre case that has baffled doctors: Daily Mail

 

 

a capillar

Should we take #MeToo seriously?

London, England subway Credit: Nige Harris/Flickr/Creative Commons

London, England subway Credit: Nige Harris/Flickr/Creative Commons

A few years ago I had to travel on the rapid transit for my work. On a busy day I walked to a subway station because I had to get some paper work in another part of the city. I remember a small crowd on the platform waiting for the train and I stayed higher up on the stairs to see the train when it came.

And then something caught my attention.

A young woman, probably a teenager kept pulling down her shirt, to expose one shoulder. A few steps from her was a young man, who I guessed was her boyfriend. He watched over her closely, and I began to realize that she was a prostitute and he was her pimp. They had brought their business onto the public transit system.

If you are wondering, they didn’t seem to get any business. In any city, the public transit crowd is short on cash and the couple’s “business model” was never going to work, but I was really shaken.

We all see the world in our own way, and I grew up in one of the worst parts of my city. I think I’m OK now, but I saw terrible things around me until I moved away; drugs, prostitution, assault and murder were common. Later, in the subway station I was angry because I felt like I was being pulled back in. I thought I had moved away from that dark place, and then it followed me, right into my work life.

I needed answers, and I got them from a friend who used to be a community counselor, and a warden with criminals in a mental hospital. I told him my story and and his answer was simple: “Those people don’t see the world the way you do. They see us as a resource to be exploited; we are not human to them.”

That fit with my childhood. My friends and I were someone’s resource. The little girl that I had a big crush on for many years probably became a drug addict and a prostitute, and she is probably dead now. No one has any information for me, but she was going down when I last saw her.

So have you heard of the “#MeToo” campaign? Women, and now men, are identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment and abuse.

We could rationalize this; some people crave attention and this is a trendy cause, and some people sell themselves to get what they want, like the young woman in the subway station; so maybe they aren’t really victims. We can explain this Twitter movement away, but that rationalizing is just a way to make the truth go away.

The truth is that we have this movement among us today, and it grew from a very dark place. In Canada we are learning that too many boys were exploited on hockey teams, so this is not just about girls.

If you are wondering, I was never directly abused and I didn’t pay attention to harassment, but I believe now that I was targeted. That includes a man in my church.

Last Sunday, our pastor reminded us that we need to hurt with the victims of abuse and harassment, and he inspired me to write this. If we will see the dark side, the prettiest parts of the world hide some terrible secrets; places like Hollywood with all those glamorous movie stars.

The Bible tells us that God will make us all right “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I am learning why we need that message.

As you read this, if you remember some terrible thing that happened to you, or like me, you lost good friends, I hope that God will give you His correction. Ask Him.

If this all seems strange to you and you have never experienced anything like this, understand that someone near you carries a heavy burden. Ask God to show you what Christian kindness really is, in your circle.

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! (Psalm 40: 1 to 4)

 

Healing the brokenhearted

Painting by Peter Fendi (1796-1842)/Wikipedia

Painting by Peter Fendi (1796-1842) Credit: Web Gallery of Art: Wikipedia

According to an article in the Daily Mail, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have concluded that three traumatic events have the potential to cause heart disease in postmenopausal women.

The group led by Dr. Rebecca Thurston presented their findings to the 2017 North American Menopause Society annual meeting held in Philadelphia Oct 11-14.

In their study, Thurston and her group were trying to determine if psychological factors had an impact on a woman’s heart.

They conducted an indepth survey with 272 women asking the typical questions such as their exercise, smoking and eating habits.

But they then went further and asked the women how many traumatic events they had in their lives. This included a wide-range of things such as the the death of a child or spouse, physical assault and experiencing some type of natural disaster.

Based on this survey, they concluded that if women experienced just three traumatic events it had the potential to cause heart disease. It showed that these events negatively affected the inner lining of a woman’s blood vessels (endothelial function). This leads to higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.

The Bible refers to an interesting condition described as a broken heart. The Prophet Isaiah said that healing a broken heart would be one of the key ministries of the Messiah, Jesus Christ:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners; (Isaiah 61:1 NASV)

The phrase brokenhearted is made up of two Hebrew words “nisbre” that means to be weakened, broken or destroyed and “leb” that refers to the inner man and describes the emotions, mind and conscience.

When Isaiah says that God sent Jesus to bind the brokenhearted, the prophet was not referring to a physical problem, but rather emotional and psychological pain.

It shows that healing a broken heart is as important to God as healing our physical problems. And if the University of Pittsburgh study is right, this is because it can lead to serious physical problems.

The Hebrew word ‘habos’ refers to binding and describes bandages used to heal wounds (Job 5:18). But when used in the context of healing a broken heart it means to “inspire with confidence, and give hope and courage to.”

But also notice how the Holy Spirit plays a key role in this healing, as He anointed Jesus to bind up the brokenhearted. The Holy Spirit wants to bring emotional healing in our lives through Christ. He wants to heal us from the effects of emotional trauma.

I believe one of the keys to such healing is forgiveness. We need to forgive those who caused the trauma. Forgiveness helps us release the pain and anger associated with those events:

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASV)

It not only involves forgiving others but even forgiving ourselves. If you struggle with this, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you do this (Romans 8:26). It is a necessary step to healing a broken heart.

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How are we to respond?

Salvation Mountain, Colorado Credit: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons

Salvation Mountain, Colorado Credit: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons

In mid-October, a small Presbyterian church in Mayesville, South Carolina was vandalized with Satanic graffiti that included crosses drawn upside down, pentagrams and  the word “Satan.”

There were over 20 pieces of graffiti spray painted on Salem Black River Presbyterian Church and two of its other buildings. One door was also broken open but nothing was stolen from the church.

It was simple act of malicious vandalism.

But the church had security cameras and caught video of four people vandalizing the church with the satanic imagery.

After police distributed images captured from the video, people began to call in names of the suspects.  The Sumter County Sheriff’s department discovered that all four allegedly involved in the vandalism were from the nearby Shaw Air Force Base.

The sheriff’s office have charged four people, Kayla Eilerman, Daveion Green, Clayre Savage and Brandon Munoz, with vandalism, trespass and conspiracy.

Meanwhile in Canada, this past August, Trinity Baptist Church located in Burlington, Ontario was set on fire. The fire destroyed the old part of its building, but the fire department was able to save the church’s new section.

There was also graffiti spray painted on its wall in three different spots reading “ISIS” and “ISIS will remai” without the ‘n’.

As Christians we aren’t used to this type of thing common in many parts of the world.

So how are we to respond?

Hopefully, you are not like me. My first reaction when I read these stories was anger.

But my reaction contrasted sharply with Christ’s words on the cross when He prayed:

34 “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luke 22:34 NASV)

Jesus prayed that God would forgive the Roman soldiers who had not only put Christ on the cross, but had spit on Him, mocked and beat Him. They also jammed a crown of thorn on Christ’s head.

The soldiers had no idea what they were doing.  They were treating Jesus as they would any man condemned to death. As they waited for Christ’s slow death, the soldiers gambled for the Lord’s tunic.

But as this was happening below, Jesus prayed that God would forgive these soldiers and others for what they had done. In fact, Isaiah prophesied this very thing about the Messiah:

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 NASV)

Notice the last line of this verse — He “interceded” for the transgressors.

While my natural response was one of anger, God not only wants us to forgive those who persecute us, but the Father desires we go the next step and intercede for them.

And we are not to pray hell and damnation, we are to pray God forgives them.

As we ask God to forgive, I believe it can break off strongholds allowing people to respond to the Gospel:

54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:53 NASV)

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NASA discovers evidence of a ninth massive planet in our solar system

Artist rendering of ninth planet hovering on the outer edge of our solar system. The bright light in the centre portrays Neptune orbiting the sun Credit: ESO/Tom Ruen/Nagualdesign -- NASA

Artist rendering of ninth planet hovering on the outer edge of our solar system. The bright light on the top right, portrays Neptune orbiting the sun Credit: ESO/Tom Ruen/Nagualdesign — NASA

There have been some Christians and others predicting the end of the world through a collision between Earth and a mystery planet lurking in our solar system called Nibiru.

In mid-September, Jason Meade who claims to be a Christian numerologist stated the countdown for this collision started on September 23, 2017. He certainly received his 15-minutes of fame with media around the world picking up his story.

People have been talking about Nibiru since the 1990s and similarly predicting the world’s catastrophic end.

I even stated in my post on Meade’s prediction that if this planet existed astronomers would have noticed it through its effects on the trajectory of other planets and celestial objects.

I was a bit rash in my judgement because a couple of weeks later, October 4, 2017, NASA released a statement that it had found irrefutable evidence a ninth planet exits in our solar system.

It even suggested that this mystery planet was ten times larger than earth. Coincidentally, those promoting Nibiru also state its massive.

NASA claims that it has not been able to see this planet because of its unusual elliptical orbit. It is so far out that they suspect it takes thousands of years for it to orbit the sun.

Then I discovered that astronomers have been predicting the existence of a large mysterious planet since the 1800s, because they believed something must be affecting the orbits of both Uranus and Neptune.

NASA came to the same conclusion stating they have seen similar irregularities after studying the movement of objects in the Kuiper Belt found just past Neptune.

NASA concluded:

“If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden you have five different puzzles and you must come up with five different theories to explain them.”

So where does this leave the Nibiru prediction? Well NASA even acknowledged the controversy stating:

“If a planet is there, it’s extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance – in case you’re wondering – of every colliding with Earth, or bringing a day of darkness).”

So does the Bible speak of a massive planet hitting earth?

No.

However, in the Book of Revelation (the Apostle John’s vision of the end times) he refers to stars hitting the earth. Some believe these are references to asteroid hits.

In the first mention, the Apostle John speaks of multiple asteroids hitting land:

13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (Revelation 6:13 NASV)

The asteroid that exploded in the sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013 shattering glass and injuring 1,000 people was about 17 meters in size and weighed 100,000 tonnes. They estimated its explosion was 20 to 30 times more powerful than Hiroshima.

Can you imagine the damage if it had hit earth? And there have a been several near misses since then as well.

And in his second reference, the Apostle John sees a mountain-sized asteroid burning through the Earth’s atmosphere and hitting one of our oceans resulting in a massive die off of sea life:

The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.(Revelation 8:8-9 NASV)

An asteroid that size would cause catastrophic damage. The Apostle added that a third of the ships in the sea would be destroyed as well, I suspect due to the resulting tsunamis such a hit would cause.

And even Jesus referred to “terrors in the skies” leading up to His second coming (Luke 21:11).

Though catastrophic, these are clearly not references to a planet, ten-times larger, smashing into Earth.

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A different kind of famine?

Photo from South Dakota 1936 during the drought that hit North America during the 1930s. Credit: United Stated Department of Agriculture/Wikipedia

Photo from South Dakota in 1936 during the drought that hit North America in the 1930s. Credit: United States Department of Agriculture/Wikipedia

With the Canadian government planning to legalize recreational marijuana effective July 1, 2018, Bill C-45 that is working its way through parliament includes a provision that could have disturbing ramifications for young people.

Though the bill sets a minimum age of 18 for a person to legally buy marijuana, the curious provision allows young people between the ages of 12 to 18, to possess under five grams of marijuana without being criminally charged.

This is the equivalent of a 12-year-old walking the streets with shot of whiskey in his or her pocket without any consequences.

The biggest problem is the message the government is sending young teens through such a provision. It leaves the impression that marijuana is a safe drug, which is the mantra activists use to push governments to legalize Cannabis in the first place.

There have been many voices responding to the Canadian government’s decision to legalize including the prestigious Canadian Medical Association Journal that condemned the decision in a recent editorial.

As governments around the world legalize recreational marijuana, concerned medical researchers are releasing a staggering amount of data stating that marijuana is far from a safe drug.

A recent study by researchers from Brigham Young University added their voice to this growing list.

Their study showed that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cananbidiol), the two major active agent ingredients in Marijuana, may damage the brains of youth much more than previously thought.

TCH causes the high associated with marijuana, and CBD relaxes the person.

The group found that when they injected THC every day for a week in teenage mice that it affected their brain requiring an increased dosage of THC to get the same effect. They also noted that a one time usage did not cause a problem.

They found that THC was damaging the reward centre of the brain and it was permanent.

Though some question whether there is a marijuana addiction, people using the drug can develop a dependence on Cannabis. Referred to as Marijuana disorder, it is the second most common reason that people enter substance abuse programs in the US. The first being alcohol.

There are now even reports showing withdrawal symptoms for those wanting to stop Cannabis usage. This may be linked to the increased potency of the Marijuana being sold today.

The potential damage to future generations is staggering.

Yet these studies are being drowned out by those calling for Marijuana’s legalization.

The Prophet Amos wrote:

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
    “when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
    but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. (Amos 8:11 NASV)

Notice how he says there will be a famine for “HEARING” the words of the Lord. There will be voices, but people will not be hearing them.

Though this verse is referring to God’s prophetic voice, I believe its truth will apply in multiple areas.

Amos warned of a day when people will not hear warnings. They will be running around with both hands clamped over their ears.

Today, politicians seem to be deaf to the dozens of studies released in recent years revealing the serious consequences of Marijuana usage for young people. The following is a sampling of what this research is showing:

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Judgements: A mirror into your heart

Mirror glasses at a restaurant in Budapest, Hungary Credit: Elekes Andor/Wikipedia

Mirror glasses at a restaurant in Budapest, Hungary Credit: Elekes Andor/Wikipedia

What your think about others reveals a lot about yourself.  Catching yourself in judgement is a first step to bringing wholeness into your life.

There is a message behind our complaints, judgements and frustrations with others. Judgement is almost always a projection. Often it’s not about them, it’s all about you. We end up projecting our brokenness or an unhealed part of our lives upon someone else.

Catching yourself judging others is the first step to healing your emotional wounds.

Notice every time you react to what someone has said or done because this is really a message to you, about you.

On the surface scenarios that bother you seem to have nothing to do with you.  But if you are having a reaction to what someone has said or done, know this, it’s about you!

This is tough stuff!

Our personal criticisms and frustrations about others many times mirror exactly how we secretly feel about ourselves.

But it is so much easier to point the finger at someone else and not own up to the fact we might be ‘guilty’ of similar behaviour.

So, whenever you have a strong reaction to what someone else is doing ask yourself — do I do that, even a little bit?

Awareness is always the first step.

Is there someone who doesn’t answer your emails and it annoys you to no end?  Do you fail to respond to an email even though you have seen it.  Have you left other people questioning their value because you haven’t responded to them and it doesn’t have to be just emails.

These judgements are like a bright neon sign flashing a message about ourselves. Because every time I think somebody should act a different way, I am being judgemental.

When we are being judgemental we are actuality projecting our own shortcomings and failures in this same area on them.

Admitting this about ourselves is extremely painful.  It’s a knife that cuts deep.

As long as I refuse to pay attention to my judgements and the message they are sending me, I will continue wasting my time and my life on the problems that everyone else has. I will stay unhappy and remain bitter and angry while waiting for others to get their act together.

For years I have tried to deal with my judgemental thoughts.  But it wasn’t until I understood that my judgements were speaking about areas in my life that needed healing could I  begin to deal with my judgemental heart.

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 NIV)