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The soil of my heart

It’s that time of year when I want to get outside and start cleaning up our yard, pull my pots out of the shed and get ready for gardening. But, I can’t just yet because it snowed last night — six inches of snow at the end of April. It was disheartening! There have been frustrating times and seasons when I have not understood the reasons for delays and waiting for the fulfillment of my hopes and dreams. But God is not in a hurry and doesn’t mind if I have to wait because He understands the process. The Bible talks about these seasons of life: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) He has ordained seasons in the physical realm and similarly in the spiritual. Fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives is a process, just like the development of a …

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The last generation?

Jesus made a statement about the end times that for decades has puzzled those studying eschatology. In his discussion of the signs leading to His second coming,  Jesus said: 32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34 NASV) Most understood this to mean, that when the various end-time signs cited in this passage started to take place, Jesus’ return will occur within that generation. Because they consider the fig tree as symbolic of Israel, the 1948 restoration of Israel as a nation is a key end-times marker. So what was a generation? Many believed that a generation was 40 years and adding that to 1948 meant Jesus would return sometime before 1988. And during the lead up to that date, …

Herdodium complex Credit: Eitan Yaaran/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Tomb of Herod the Great discovered

In 2007, Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the discovery of the tomb of Herod the Great, including his sarcophagus and mausoleum, on the Northeast slope of Mount Herodium. This confirmed the existence of a major player in early New Testament history. Herod was part of a larger clan who ruled Palestine during its Roman occupation — his grandfather and father had ruled before him. Herod, who was declared “King of the Jews” in 40 BC by the Roman Senate, died in 4 AD. Most Christians are familiar with Herod the Great and his role embedded in the Christmas story. Herod was the king that the Magi consulted when they came to Judea looking for the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1). This news troubled Herod (v 2) and he asked the Magi to report back when they had found the new King. When the Magi – warned in a dream – took a different route home, Herod was enraged (v 16). After consulting his advisors, Herod determined where the Jewish Messiah had been born and brutally ordered …

Study suggests babies feel pain in the womb in first trimester

A recent study published in the journal Cell has provided evidence that babies feel pain in the womb sooner than many in the pro-abortion camp want us to believe. In recent years, several reports mostly by specialists doing procedures on preemies or the unborn concluded that babies feel pain in the womb. For decades, most did not believe this was possible. This most recent study published at the end of March confirmed what others are saying. But this study differed in one important way from earlier reports. It didn’t analyze a baby’s reaction to pain but rather looked at nerve development and concluded that a baby’s nervous system is fully formed by the end of the first trimester (12 weeks). The study described the development as an “adult-like pattern of skin innervation” and added that the baby developed it earlier than previously thought. Despite their findings, the researchers were quick to add that this did not necessarily suggest a baby feels pain in the womb. The theory that babies did not feel pain in the …

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

But we still speak King James

Workers doing renovations at the Garden Museum in London, England accidentally broke through the floor and discovered a large chamber. When they lowered a mobile phone through the hole they saw 30 lead coffins, some piled on top of each other, that had been hidden from view for centuries. The Garden Museum is located in an ancient medieval church, St. Mary-at-Lambeth, found next to the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Lambeth Palace) – the head of the Anglican Church. St. Mary-at-Lambeth is considered a ‘deconsecrated’ church. This is a ceremony Anglicans perform on a church when it is no longer to be used for religious service. They essentially remove the religious blessing rendering it fit for secular purposes. The Anglo Saxons constructed the first church at the site in 1062, but over the centuries it has undergone major renovations and rebuilds. Perched on top of one of the coffins was an old gold-painted archbishop miter or crown indicating this was the burial chamber of some of the Anglican church’s long-lost archbishops. Realizing the …

Ruins of temples used in Imperial cult worship in Laodicea, Turkey Credit: Richard Munden/Flickr/Creative Commons

Two types of Christians, only one hears a knock

I regularly receive a daily devotional from Open Doors, a Christian organization that stands with believers being persecuted around the world. In a recent newsletter, they quoted Iranian Christian leader, Luke Yagnazar, who now lives in the US.  Having come from a country where a person can be thrown in jail or even executed for believing in Jesus, Yagnazar talked about his faith struggle in the US. He said: “It is more difficult to be a Christian in the USA than in Iran. There you are either a Christian or not.” In Iran, your decision to become a Christian is not taken lightly. It is very black and white. But in Canada, the US and many other Western countries we have developed a second tier of Christianity. Colored gray, it easily infects us all, myself included. The Book of Revelation talks about this second tier using a slightly different analogy. Speaking to the church at Laodicea, the Apostle John writes: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you …

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

So Who is Zoroaster?

About three thousand years ago, probably in the times of David and Solomon in the Bible, a man named Zoroaster or Zarathustra began preaching about one God, and one great force of evil in the world. His home was probably near Afghanistan and his teaching came to dominate all Iranian people, from northern India to Greece, in Europe. Information about times and places is mostly lost, but scholars agree that someone tried to turn people to God, in central Asia, many centuries ago. According to Tabari, a Sunni Muslim who lived about a thousand years ago, Zoroaster the ancient prophet of Iran was from Israel and a disciple of Jeremiah, or he travelled with a Hebrew prophet. We know the Persians were often kind to Israel and their temple in Jerusalem. Kings of Persia (Iran) ordered the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem: “Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The …

Sergels Square, Stockholm, Sweden Credit: Joakim Johansson/Flickr/Creative commons

A strange reason to celebrate?

Those with an eye on the end-times took note of the technological changes taking place at a small business center in Stockholm Sweden called Epicenter. Housing over 100 companies with an estimated 2,000 employees, Epicenter describes itself this way on its website: “Epicenter is Stockholm’s first digital House of Innovation at the heart of the city and Sweden’s digital landscape.” Though it is not mandatory, Epicenter offers to implant a rice-sized chip into the hands of employees of the various companies free of charge. Inserted into the flesh between the thumb and index finger, the chip serves multiple purposes. It can be used to open sealed doors and operate the printers that need to track usage. But the chip does more than that. Utilizing the same technology as credit cards it can also be used for purchases at the center’s food services. According to an article in the National Post, Epicenter first offered the chip in January 2015, and so far 150 of the 2,000 people working at the center have taken up the offer. …

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Filip Knezic/Flickr/Creative Commons

New York Times tells remarkable story of how a Muslim Jihadist became a Christian

At the end of March, New York Time’s journalist Patrick Kingsley wrote an unusual article  on the stunning conversion of a Muslim Jihadist to Christ. He stumbled upon the man while visiting a basement room filled with 22 Christian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey. Kingsley noted many had Muslim sounding names. Though Kingsley noted that it is not unusual for Muslims to convert to Christ as a ruse to claim asylum in other countries, there was one man, Bashir Mohammad, 25 who did not fit that narrative. He was a Christian, who wasn’t interested in asylum. It was also obvious he had a leading role with this group. As Kingsley talked with Bashir, he found out more about his story. At age 15, Bashir began listening to extremist preachers calling for violence. This led him to eventually join the Nusra Front, an off shoot of Al Qaeda, that was seeking to set up a Muslim Caliphate in Syria. Fighting with this group, Bashir witnessed prisoners being run over with bulldozers and another prisoner forced to drink …

Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio (1571 - 1610): Wikipedia

Proof of the resurrection

Like today, the early church had its doubters and haters. After Christ rose from the dead the Jewish Sanhedrin purposefully spread rumors that it was all one big scam and the disciples had stolen Christ’s body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15). Year’s later this rumor still had legs and was widely circulated among the Jews. And at times, the Apostle Paul felt  a need to point at the evidence of the resurrection, listing the people (such as Peter, the 12 disciples) the crowds (many who were still alive) and others who saw the Lord after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). But these eye-witness testimonies were not the primary evidence for the early church of Christ’s resurrection. They had something else. During the early days of the church they were under siege from the Jewish authorities and the believers asked for courage and power: 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take …

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He makes my feet secure like hind’s feet

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet (able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble; He sets me securely upon my high places.” (Psalm 18:33 AMP) Events beyond my control left me numb from the inside out and feeling like I was the worst person on earth. I took it all so personally. I shouldn’t have but I did. This traumatic event was a trigger revealing that the perception I had of myself (my identity and self-worth) was pretty much reliant on the approval and opinions of my peers. The fear of man ruled my life. All kinds of unresolved issues surfaced during this  time.  It was all out on the table and not a pretty sight. I was desperate to be free of these insecurities and their wounding effect on me emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was open and surrendered myself to the process of inner emotional healing. Over these past years, wise counsel, God’s word and sound principles brought me to a place of confidence and …

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The Intersection

A few weeks ago at a weekly prayer meeting I had a prophetic word for a young man. After I shared the picture I had received with him, I knew I needed to remember it and apply it to my own life. I began to pray for direction for his life and immediately God gave me this “movie” for him. I saw him in his vehicle pulling up to a stop sign at an intersection where he had two or three options for his destiny. Which direction was he to take? Next I saw the action God wanted him to take. I saw him park at the side of the road, put on some worship tunes, and begin to worship God. He was to make declarations about who and what God is – He is Lord, He knows all, and is greater than all our circumstances. He knows what we need and how to get there. What happened next was not what I would have expected. As the worship and declarations went up like vapor …

View of the Dome of the Rock and Western Wall. Many believe the Muslim Dome of the Rock is built on the original site of the Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 AD. Credit: Boris G/Flickr/Creative Commons

Will God allow a third Jewish temple to be built?

Many orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians are looking forward to the day when Jews build a third temple in Jerusalem, replacing the one destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD during the Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt. Both groups believe its construction would fulfill Biblical prophecy. And recent events in Jerusalem added to the excitement. According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), the Jewish Sanhedrin reenacted the Jewish Passover on Thursday, April 5, 2017 near the site of the original Jewish Temple. This was the fifteenth year that they held the Passover in Jerusalem that included building an altar and the actual sacrifice of a lamb using Jewish Priests. According to BIN, this year’s Passover was held closer to the Temple’s location than it had been in earlier years.  In order to accommodate a sacrifice this close to the Temple Mount, the Sanhedrin used the courts to get police protection. Jewish priests performed the sacrifice with instruments, utensils and clothing provided by the Temple Institute an organization dedicated to rebuilding the Jewish Temple. Attendance at the Passover …

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Fill my cup

‘’Chronically depleted’ is a term I have been running across lately describing the way women are functioning these days. It was a wake up call for me. I use a sleep machine at night.  I was not getting enough oxygen while sleeping and as a result I woke up many times during the night and  wasn’t even aware of it.  I would wake up in the morning fatigued.  It’s called ‘Sleep Apnea.’ My husband and I were traveling recently and I got out of the habit of using my machine. When we returned home, I continued the practice of not using it, even though it was within my reach on the dresser right beside my bed.  I just had to apply the mask to my face, place the strap around my head and press the button. Instead, I ignored it and even though it seemed that I was sleeping, I really wasn’t. The last few weeks without the machine slowly brought me to a place of fatigue and exhaustion. I was barely functioning. It was …

Hitler in Finland Credit: Wikipedia/SAkuva/Creative Commons

Those Pictures of Hitler

A few days ago I met a man who saw Hitler. He told a small group, including me, that he was four years old, in Czechoslovakia, and he remembers shiny black cars and a man in the distance. He says the memory is still clear. If you follow news on the Internet, there are several photo albums and collections of pictures that show the ordinary life of Hitler. For some reason, this information seems to be in the news now. I don’t know why some of these pictures were kept hidden, and have emerged this year. One example of a photo collection is a recent article with a free discussion by the readers: 50  rare photos of Adolf Hitler. There are several other sources of these pictures of the “human” Hitler: Unseen photographs reveal the private life of Adolf Hitler Never before seen photos Adolf Hitler found in an album in mistress Eva’s bedroom These pictures of an ordinary man, doing ordinary things, have generated angry debate. In the discussions, some people openly speak out …

Balaam's donkey could count. Credit: JohnBWilson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can horses count and does it matter?

I have always wondered what is going on in my dog’s mind other than the obvious – did I leave the cupboard door open to the garbage can? In 2008, Dr Claudia Uller from the University of Essex in Essex, England was speaking at the British Psychological Society conference in Dublin, Ireland when she announced that horses can count. She came to this conclusion based on a study she conducted along with Jennifer Lewis on 13 horses from Colchester, England. In the study, they had several buckets in which they placed either three apples or two apples. They only used plastic apples to eliminate the possibility that smell affected the results. They found in their testing that 11 of the 13 horses consistently chose the buckets with the most apples. In a second test they had buckets containing either two equally sized small apples or one large apple that was double the size of the two smaller apples, making them equal in amount. Ten of the 12 horses consistently chose the two apple containers over …

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A donkey speaks again, this time about King Solomon’s copper mines

Liberals have tried to picture King David and King Solomon as little more than tribal chieftains instead of how the Bible portrays them as leaders of a nation numbering millions of people. Unfortunately, a donkey seems to have upset the Liberal apple cart. Archaeologists working at the site of an ancient copper mine in Israel’s Timma Valley made an unusual discovery — they found donkey dung. It wasn’t just any kind of donkey dung, when they carbon dated it, they discovered it was 3,000 years old. This made the site older than archaeologists initially thought and the donkey’s appearance dated the mines to King David’s and King Solomon’s day. The area being excavated not only contained numerous mines, but also several areas where it was smelted including furnaces and piles of slag. This was a major production center. The mines explain several verses in the Old Testament that spoke of Solomon’s incredible wealth. When King David charged his son with building the temple, he listed bronze as part of the kingdom’s resources: 16 Of the gold, …

Queen Esther's feast where she exposes Haman by Johannes Spilberg the Younger (1619-1690) Credit: Rauantiques/Wikipedia

Artists and craftsmen point the way

Since the early stages of mankind, artists of the day have used imagery in their drawings to relate and preserve stories of their era.  In countries where Cave Drawings have been discovered they have served as confirmation to other historical documentation. Drawings of floods, famines, as well as animals fleeing from fires are just some of the images explorers have uncovered over the centuries. Since mankind has long recognized that artistic talents could draw images to record actual events, it is not surprising that Art would be created to depict the Heavenly Creator.  Dedicated hands can take stones and create works that glorify God. In Biblical times, the people of Israel were highly advanced in Literature, Music and Science, but were surpassed by other nations in the area of Arts.  This is likely due to God’s commandment not to “make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it;” (Leviticus 26:1). …

Replica roman shields Credit: Kim Benson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Above all the shield of faith to repel condemnation and fear

When the Apostle Paul outlined the spiritual armor of the believer, one of the most prominent pieces he mentioned was the shield of faith: 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:16 NKV) The Roman shield was about 2’ by 4’ and made of light wood covered with several layers of hide or sheet metal. The soldier used it to ward off blows and to protect himself from arrows. Paul says that the shield of faith has the specific purpose of protecting Christians from the fiery darts of the enemy. These particularly fierce weapons were fabricated of either hollow canes filled with incendiary material or arrows wrapped with similar ingredients (Psalms 7:13). They were lit and fired at their enemy. To repel this missile, the shields were made of a hardened material so the fiery darts would simply bounce off. If the shields were not properly constructed they were vulnerable. In one particular battle, an early historian recorded …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: Usman Malik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pakistani prosecutor tells 42 Christians to convert to Islam to escape murder charges

After Muslim extremists blew up a Catholic church in Lahore, Pakistan in 2015 killing 14 and injuring 75, Christians took to the streets. In the mayhem that followed, the police captured two Muslim men accused of the brutal bombing and handed them over to a Christian crowd who then lynched the Muslims. After the two Muslim men were murdered, Pakistani authorities arrested 500 Christians and kept most of them in jail for nearly 18 months under brutal treatment that included torture. However, after finding most had nothing to do with the crime, about 450 were let go, leaving 42 men still in prison. The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) that is monitoring the situation and providing legal help to the those arrested was horrified by the killing of the two Muslim men, but it said that at least 30 of the men still in jail had nothing to do with the crime. The BPCA then reported on a disturbing story published in a national Pakistani paper, The Express Tribune. The paper wrote about a bizarre …

A view of the Transantarctic Mountain Range in summer. Credit: Hannes Grobe/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

What do ancient tropical forests in the Arctic and Antarctic tell us?

When we look at the Antarctic we think of it as one giant bed of ice with the odd penguin strutting its stuff. But in the 1980s beneath all that ice and snow, scientists discovered the remains of a large giant forest located at the base of the Transantarctic mountain range. It’s estimated the forest covered an area of 1,300 kilometers. Of course, where there is a forest there was also animal life, besides penguins. They have found vast quantities of dinosaur bones, including a lizard that grew to 23 feet in length. Of course predictably they say that they are million of years old, but meanwhile the wood from these ancient forests hasn’t fully petrified, it can still burn and float. The Transantarctic Mountain range differs from other mountains in that its made up largely of sedimentary rock formed by layers of dirt and sand laid down by water. It is not much different in the northern Arctic. A similar forest was found on Axel Heiberg Island located just 600 kilometers from the North …

Breaking off those word curses hanging over you. Credit: Michal Jaskoslki/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking off word curses

Several years ago my wife and I received a prophetic word from Keith Hazell. Keith passed away in 2013, but he was one of a handful of people who I consider to be a full-blown prophet. Our church had brought him in for a time of prophetic ministry. He prophesied a number of things including that we would be writing. But then his prophetic word took an odd turn. He said that I had the ability to start a business. Then he added that God wasn’t saying that I should start a business, but only that I was capable of doing it. It is amazing how words people say can haunt you for decades. They hang like a dark cloud over your head. Years before this prophetic word, someone had told me that I was not capable of running a business. It was an off the cuff remark and I am not even sure the person meant it. It is not that I even had a personal interest in starting a business, but those words …

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Post Modernism: The Case for Rachel Dolezal

You might have heard of Rachel Dolezal, also known by her new legal name Nkechi Amare Diallo. She was once the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington. Her parents, who apparently had been Pentecostal Missionaries in Africa, exposed her as a white woman with Czech, German, and Scandinavian ancestors, and she was forced to resign in disgrace. Today Rachel, or Nkechi, is labeled as a liar and a fraud and life is difficult for her. She is famous enough to have her own article in Wikipedia, and you can read more about her interesting life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Dolezal Rachel is someone I have never met, and probably never will, but I know there are some lessons for us in her story, and Christians should be careful with their judgment. Rachel Dolezal is an expression of a philosophy called Post Modernism. Most of us live in Modernism, with the idea that people belong to groups, them and us, and the differences between groups never change. With that thinking, …

The Wadi-Qumran Credit: Otto_Friedrich45/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient copper scroll hold clues to the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant?

According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), a copper scroll discovered in 1952 in caves along with the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls may actually be an ancient treasure map. The two thousand-year old scroll, made of thin sheets of copper, sticks out from its fellow Dead Sea Scrolls made of papyrus discovered in caves found in cliffs below a large plateau a mile away from the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea. The scroll also differs in one other significant way — while the Dead Sea Scrolls contain Biblical texts and other religious writings — the copper scroll is a map with 64 different locations marked out on it. It also lists quantities of gold and silver associated with each site along with clues and descriptions of the secret locations. Archaeologists believe the map probably outlines where Jews hid money during the Jewish revolt that led to the Romans destroying the Jewish temple in 70 AD. But one of the sites also mentions something else — Jewish vestments — suggesting the Jews may have hidden some …

Young Turkish women in traditional head scarves. Credit: Ozgur Mulazimoglu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim woman hated Christians, but Jesus spoke to her in a dream

A story on Christian Aid about the conversion of a young Muslim women living along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey tells us not to underestimate the work we are doing for God. Matte, name not fully disclosed for security reasons, pastors a church in Turkey. He faithfully puts his sermons online, but often wondered if they were having any affect as he was seeing no results. “I sometimes wonder how many people watch the videos, and what is the result? Many are watching the videos, but why do they not believe?, ” he told Christian Aid. But his opinion changed after a young Muslim women wearing a traditional Muslim scarf showed up at church because of a dream. She had started watching the pastor’s videos online because she “hated the Christians” and wanted to make fun of his messages. But the sermons slowly started having an impact as they addressed deep needs in her life. She eventually decided to become a Christian, but did not go to church because of her strict …

Credit: Ezio Melotti/Flickr/Creative Commons (Modified)

What do the remains of two dead dogs tell us?

There is a verse in the book of Nehemiah that I have always found a bit odd. After Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, it basically assimilated the Israelis who were in exile under the Babylonians. The Book of Nehemiah records how the Persians allowd Nehemiah — a cupbearer for the Persian king Artaxerxes I (also known as Longimanus 465-424 BC) — to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. Three days after he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to inspect the walls. Because of the various political factions in the city, he did it under the cover of darkness to hide what he was doing. Then we read this puzzling verse: “And I arose in the night, I and a few good men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting in my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal which I was riding. (Nehemiah 2:12-15) Nehemiah rode a horse, but then specifically adds he took no other animals with …

Near Apache, Arizona Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

An act worthy of repentance?

It was early in the morning on January 12, 2017 when Arizona state trooper Ed Andersson responded to calls a man was shooting a gun at cars on a highway near Tonopah, Arizona. After arriving and exiting his vehicle, Andersson was immediately hit with a freak shot in his right shoulder — a little to the left the bullet would have struck his bullet proof vest and an inch and a half to the right, it would have missed him completely. But it didn’t. Instead the bullet partially paralyzed Andersson’s right shoulder making him unable to draw his gun. Fortunately, Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, 37, the man who allegedly fired at Andersson had run out of bullets. Penuelas-Escobar attacked the officer trying to grab his gun, but Andersson fought off the attempt with his good left hand. Penuelas-Escobar pushed Andersson to the ground, got on top of him and repeatedly smashed his fists into the officer’s head. When Andersson tried to resist, Penuelas-Escobar started slamming the trooper’s head into the ground. Minutes after the shooting took place, …

Amsterdam, Holland Credit: Werner Kunz/Flickr/Creative Commons

‘Poiema’

Sometimes I like to write poetry or prose. It is my way of expressing myself and connecting to God. It’s often easier for me to write down what I’m feeling than to speak about it. I suppose one could say this is how God made me, and so writing has remained a fairly constant thread throughout my life. Interestingly, I found out last week the Greek word for poem is ‘poiema’. Well this was new to me! Upon further digging, I also discovered this is the exact word Paul chose to use in Ephesians 2:10 when he said: “For we are His workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (NKJV) To think that we are God’s poem, His work of creativity, really highlights this scripture for me. The New Living Translation says, ‘we are His masterpiece’, which brings across how unique He made us all. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and we are His work of art. All we are …

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Will you complete the transformation?

In Romans 12:1,2, the Apostle Paul makes a life-changing statement that believers are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”  Though we are saved by faith, the transformation for the Christian takes place as we change the way we think. That word transformed is the Greek word ‘metamorphou’ from which we get the English word metamorphosis that describes the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This transformation is a gradual process for a caterpillar. First it spins a cocoon and then in the safety of this container, the insect dissolves and the mixture of enzymes reform into a new creature – a butterfly. The two insects are so different they can no longer eat the same thing because its digestive system has completely changed — one chews on leaves and the other sucks nectar. Paul says the Christian must undergo a similar transformation. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a few days in a cocoon to complete this change. We are forced to learn on the job. Further, Paul tells us that …

A woman prays near the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Jelle Drok/Flickr/Creative Commons

About Jerusalem

In recent years, I have been blessed to spend several weeks in the eternal city of Jerusalem. This is the only city on the earth which the LORD God of Israel declared, “In Jerusalem, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7). During my time in Israel, Psalm 122:6 was constantly before my eyes;  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Jerusalem is the most prayed for city in the universe.  At every meal, Jews pray the blessing, “Blessed are you, O LORD, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Every Monday the Jews recite Psalm 48 from their Prayer Book; “Walk about Zion and go all around her” (verse 12). Jerusalem is a spiritual city (not sinless), set apart for a Holy God. Many days I spent just walking around Jerusalem and was constantly reminded of the  blessings connected with Israel that can only come from the true LORD God.  Indeed the peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the streets and there are places where one can …

Message in a bottle Credit: Kev Lewis/Flickr/Creative Commons

Has the church lost its message?

I was on a Christian website reading an article on Disney’s recent release of Beauty and the Beast that portrayed overtly homosexual scenes in a movie intended for children.  One person commented deriding and mocking the church’s failure to boycott the movie that was a box office success. Baited, several Christians responded some with vulgar comments condemning the person. One used the term “bum holer,” a comment that was later removed. To be honest, I felt a similar resentment towards this pro-gay commenter. I have been a Christians for years but a verse from the Gospel of John cited in a devotional I received recently caught my attention. I wondered if someone had just added this verse to the Bible in the last couple of years, because it seems so contrary to current Christian practice. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV) The Greek word ‘krino’ means to judge as the NASV translated it or to …

Crystal Bassette and her husband Credit: YouTube capture -- This Morning show

From porn star to Christian to pastor

It’s a story that is sure to turn some heads. When she was 21 years old, Crystal Bassette performed in her first porn video. According to the British Newspaper, The Sun, after the shoot she sat in her shower and cried for two hours. She was supporting a son after becoming pregnant at age 16 and was working in a California bar with dreams of becoming an actress. And though initially uncertain about continuing, the draw of a monthly salary of $25,000 proved too much and a month later she did her second porn shoot. Over the next several years, she would make over 100 porn movies. With the money the lifestyle provided, she lived in a mansion complete with a maid, a gardener and seven cars, but to cope Bassette turned to alcohol and drugs. But that all changed in 2014 when she had a serious car accident where police charged her with impaired driving. After the crash, Bassette attended her sister’s church on Easter Sunday and became a Christian after the pastor preached …

Pope Francis Credit: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/George Martell/Pilot News Media/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Pope Francis paving the way for a second exodus from the Catholic church — Reformation Part II?

When Martin Luther, a Catholic seminary professor and priest, pounded his 95 thesis on the door of a Roman Catholic church in Wittenburg Germany on October 31, 1517, he was not setting out to start a new church, he was trying to reform the Catholic church. He was responding to the efforts of Johann Tetzel, a Dominican monk, who arrived in the area selling indulgences to help build a new cathedral in Rome. The indulgences allowed people to buy their way into heaven. Martin Luther said people are saved by faith, not by money. The Roman Catholic church reacted to Luther’s call for reform birthing the protestant church. Now on the 500th anniversary of this reformation is a second one brewing? I have been reading comments on a number of conservative Catholic sites of grave concerns about Pope Francis. Pope Francis who campaigned and won the papacy in 2013 as a conservative Catholic is anything but. Conservative Catholics call Francis a Marxist and a liberal. In 2015, Eugenio Scalfari, publisher of the Italian newspaper La …

Rural village in Sierra Leone Credit: martagiqs/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian pastor finds one of world’s largest diamonds

Emmanuel Momoh pastors an evangelical church in the village of Yakadu in the Kono region of Sierra Leone, a small country located along the Western coast of Africa. Found in the eastern part of the country, the province of Kono is famous for its diamonds. When he isn’t serving as a pastor, Momoh also works a small artisan mine where he recently found the 706-carat diamond, slightly smaller than a hockey puck. According to experts, it is very unusual for diamonds of any significant quality to be found in these smaller mines, much less one of this size. Yet to be fully evaluated, it is expected the diamond is worth upwards of $50 million — a 813-carat diamond recently sold for $63 million. There is hint of a possible flaw in the diamond that could affect its value. If its size holds true, it could potentially be the tenth largest diamond ever found in the world. Perhaps the most stunning part of the story is Pastor Momoh’s decision to turn it over  to the government …

Credit: mar is sea Y/Flickr/Creative Commons

Being centered: A personal struggle to belong

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. After studying his life for the past year, I have developed a love/hate relationship with this Old Testament hero, both for the same reasons. He stood faithful in God, no matter what happened. No matter who lied or betrayed him, no matter how far down in the pit life pushed him, he kept serving and looking to God. He stayed centered on God when most of us would have given up on God and our dreams. But I want to look at one aspect of Joseph’s life that is often not discussed but is both encouraging and challenging. Most people agree that Joseph came from a very dysfunctional home: 9 older jealous brothers, 3 step-moms, and a doting father who was clued-out as to the effect that his favoritism was having on his family. After studying Joseph’s life, what I see is a loner. He was a loner but never alone. He was too Egyptian for his family and too Jewish for the Egyptians. At the end …