Christ and Culture,Teachings

Peace In the Midst of a Pandemic: An Interview with Ted Bradshaw

28 Sep , 2020  

Nine months into the global pandemic of COVID-19, on September 28, 2020, Brian Dickison, Pastor of Gold Creek Church in Woodinville, WA, hosted and interviewed Ted Bradshaw, Founder of The Shepherd’s Fool Ministry, during the Sunday Worship service.

He asked for Ted’s perspective on finding peace during a time of anxiety and fear for many.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.   (Philippians 4:4-9)

Peace vs. Anxiety and Fear

1) Why do you have such a positive outlook in the midst of a pandemic?

The Shepherd's Fool Man looking at lake and Mountain Being at Peace

TB: I read the end of The Book, and we win!

Our God is Sovereign. Life and death are in His hands. I have surrendered my life to my Lord Christ. I’d like to say with Paul,

For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.   (Philippians 1:21)

I can say the last part, but I fail to live up to the first part. I am a fallen, but redeemed man. As I have aged, I have come to realize the truth that Paul proclaimed.

Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?   (Romans 7:24)

The answer is that our Savior shed His blood to cover my sins. Jesus is the life of Christ in me.

Job proclaimed,

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!  (Job 19:25-27

The second part of the answer is that early in the declaration of a pandemic, we claimed God’s Word:

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler

And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [b]buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.   (Psalms 91:3-7)

On a material basis: the pestilence is not as serious as they initially gave us to believe. For those who are afflicted, the vast majority recover with no discoverable harm. The deaths occur among “those at risk – specifically among the aged with some other serious lung affliction.” We are discovering the death count has been inflated, in the state of Washington by 13%.

When You are Struggling and Need Peace

2) What do you do when you feel anxious?

The Shepherd's Fool Woman looking at trees in the sun Being at Peace

TB: I refer to the Word of the Lord!

Early in our walk with Jesus, Ruth and I were put in an anxious position, not knowing what the future held for us. Yet our faith in the Lord was firm. We knelt down and listed all our needs and gave them to our Almighty, loving Father. He carried us through in great peace, peace that the world cannot give.

It was not until months later we discovered that we were living out God’s word through Paul to the Philippians,

“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Pray for Peace and Repentance

3) In your perspective, what is God trying to teach us through Covid19?

TB: America! Wake up! You are racing away from God to a precipice of disaster!

You have driven the One True God and Jesus the Savior out of Government, out of our schools, out of the workplace, out of the media, out of entertainment.

We have slaughtered about 63,000,000 of our babies. America is worse than Stalin, who murdered 20,000,000 of his own people, than Hitler who murdered 6,000,000 Jews and ca. 4,000,000 other “unacceptables”, than Mao Zedong who murdered about 60,000,000 of his people.

We have codified in law the abomination of homosexuality. This has opened the door to persecution of faithful believers who, to honor God, will not participate in their celebrations.

Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22)

Hurricanes, school shootings, massive forest fires, earthquakes, financial reverses, homelessness, unemployment and pandemics are God’s warnings for America to repent and turn back to Christ.

God sent Prophets to the Chosen People of God in Old Testament times. Today we have the Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation. We have pastors to call us to pray together.

United prayer is more powerful then we can conceive. Unite with other believers to agree in prayer for a Holy Spirit revival that will turn America back from the brink of disaster. It is never too early and it may soon be too late to prevent America the most blessed nation in history from ending on the ash heap of history.

A Peaceful Life

4) What is your advice to us as an 80+ year old?

TB: My advice is the same as your Pastors have been adjuring you:

  1. Start each day in sequestering yourself with Jesus. Spend quality time with Him–not just concentrating on him, but for an hour or more. Yes, I know it is a sacrifice to get up early enough to love on Jesus. It means less time with your family, but it is worth it.
  2. Next, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Spend time in the evening praying with your spouse and children. Relationships are built up by shared experience. You will not only build up your relationship with Jesus, but with one another and with your children. You teach, by example, that time with the Lord takes precedence over worldly evening entertainment.
  3. Third, at whatever age you are, prepare for death. We do not know when God will call us home, or when Jesus will return. For most people death comes as a surprise. Thus, it is important to keep short accounts with the Lord.

There is a story about a Jewish Rabbi who was training students. He said, “Never forget, repent the day before you die! The students were assiduously taking notes, when one looked up and asked, “Rabbi, we don’t know the day of our death!” The rabbi looked piercingly at the student under bushy eyebrows, “Therefore, repent every day!”

Know and communicate your desires for a funeral or a memorial, for the disposition of your remains. Prepare a will if you have not yet done so, and periodically update it.

Theodore Roosevelt, our nation’s 26th President, said, “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” You cannot count on your youthful metabolism to keep you fit forever. If you carry extra pounds into middle age it will wreak a long-term harm. If you let your muscles atrophy after youthful sports activities are over, you will pay a price in your latter years.

Live, Learn and Love God

To sum up:

  • Live in obedience to Almighty God.
  • Learn the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him precisely. Then, when you don’t, confess quickly and submit uncomplainingly to His correction.
  • Finally, you are the steward of the Life God has given you. At the Last Day, He will call you to account for your stewardship of what He has given.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint each person here for the ministry He has for you—that He will endow you with his fruit of the Spirit growing to maturity in your lives. And that each of you will come to the end of your days far more deeply in love with God the Father, Jesus your Savior and the Holy Spirit than you are this day.

To the glory of Christ, Amen.


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Therefore, Choose Life!

18 Aug , 2020  

The Shepherd's Fool Tulips in the sunFor this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”   (Deuteronomy 30:11-20 ESV)

God Loves Us and Wants Our Love

This commandment is not too hard for you.

The Shepherd's Fool Wild flowers in the sunGod is Creator. He is, therefore, Sovereign. He gets to call the shots. In the obscurity of eternity past, He conceived of a mortal companion that would be capable of love. Almighty God already had companionship and love in the Trinity. He had all that there was to be had. He was a companionable, loving Trinity of three Persons in One Almighty God. And yet He wanted something other that was not God to Love God.

Why, is a mystery. He had all the love. He had all the fellowship in and of Himself. He did not need anything more. He was, is and always will be complete in Himself and in Himself. Nevertheless, He desired to have another who could love Him.

He could have created another spirit. Perhaps the Cherubim, Seraphim, Archangels and angels were His first Creation. They loved the Almighty, but they had one limitation. They were Created to love and obey. They were not volitional.

Someday I will have to do the research necessary to discover how Lucifer had the volition to not only covet God’s throne, but also to corrupt a vast number of angels to join in Lucifer’s rebellion.

We Are Created to Love God

The Shepherd's Fool Leaves in the sunStill the Almighty wanted some “other” to love Him. He determined it would have to be material. That in turn required God to Create laws for the material to hold together. Electrons swirling around in the infinitude of space needed cohesion to form substantial things. God Created Gravity, Laws of Motion, Magnetic Attraction, Light, Energy (and therefrom Heat). All this was “without form and void”. God moved and created light, and brought the formless to coalesce into liquid and solid. He exploded the light and heat into an extremely vast number of flaming stars as centerpieces of solar systems. And then, God expanded the solid exponentially. He coalesced the solid into a great number of earths to orbit around the stars. All perfectly following God’s “thermal-kinetic” laws

Still all this was insensible. That “other” needed being and sentience. It needed electrons to coalesce into a shape. It needed a place to inhabit. The habitation was delineated by the earths available. These formed the first layer of foundation for the other that God desired. He focused in on a mediocre star; and then on the third planet from that sun. There the Almighty chose to plant a garden of multiform plants – trees, bushes, flowers, lichens and molds. They formed the second layer of foundation. On that basis, the Almighty brought forth sentient creatures – insects, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. They formed the tertiary layer of foundation upon which the Almighty could create that other.

God Creates Humans to Love

The Shepherd's Fool Wheat grass in the sunTo this moment in eternity all God’s Creation had been impersonal. He had conceived and he had spoken it all into existence. But with the “other”, the Almighty got His hands dirty. He selected some of the basic elements and based on the excellent design of the mammals, He personally formed a human being. Animals he had spoken into being and into life. Humans, He said not a word, but personally formed the first; and then the Supreme being the Trinity, the Almighty God, in a kiss of love, breathed into man the Spirit of Life.

Man opened his eyes and beheld the most magnificent, infinitely loving Maker and Master. The Almighty filled all of this other’s first living sight.

Man’s heart was stirred and he knew, as the absolute first knowing, that he loved his Creator. God introduced him to the earth, the garden the animals. As man began his work, he felt joy in his obedience to the Almighty’s instructions. This was the second knowing – joy of obedience.

Still as he claimed mastery over all the animals in the naming of them, he saw them in pairs, each kind having a mate. But he had none. God was wonderful, a magnificent companion who loved him completely and who man loved completely. Nevertheless, God was not a mate.

God Creates Woman

The Shepherd's Fool Woman watching the sunsetThe Almighty was not surprised by that lack. For His reasons He created Mankind male only, at first. As the man’s sense of lack of a mate grew, the Almighty anesthetized him. God, the Divine Surgeon, opened Man’s chest cavity and removed a bit of bone and flesh. Again personally, hands-on, created a mate to complement and fulfill man; therefore, she was called Woman. Adam opened his eyes and there stood Eve and God, the two beings he loved in all the world.

Adam and Eve shared the tending of the garden. After a day of labor, they relaxed setting aside the work until the next day. They were never rushed. There were no schedules. The work was satisfying in itself. The rest at the end of each day was just as satisfying. They would first bathe in the River Gihon. Then the Almighty joined them and the three strolled through the evening in loving companionship. Adam and Eve pointed with innocent pride at all they had accomplished. God was pleased with their obedience and industriousness. Life was such a joy – filled with love, accomplishment, peace and God’s Presence.

Adam and Eve Sin

I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.   (Deuteronomy 30:15)

There were two trees in the Garden of special note. The Holy Spirit has not given us any indication that Adam and Eve sampled the delights of the Tree of Life. The thrust of the information was The Fall. Eve and then Adam both disobeyed Almighty God, their loving Father. They chose to sample the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

How could they be that stupid? Well, they weren’t really stupid. They were innocent, naive, inexperienced. They knew nothing of deception, having lived only in the Truth of God. Nevertheless, just as soon as they actuated their disobedience, their righteousness was stripped away along with their innocence. The close, loving fellowship with their gracious Father was severed. They knew the burden of guilt. They sought to hide their sin deceiving God, hiding from Him.

Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die.” It was a half-truth. They would not immediately die physically. But they immediately died spiritually and physical death was immediately in the future; whereas before sinning, death had not even been known. Satan gave them a half-truth that was a whole lie.

After being exiled from the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve drop out of the story, except the Holy Spirit makes record of some of their, likely, many children. The sins most other children committed were not recorded.

The Sons of Adam and Eve

The Shepherd's fool Pink flowers in the sunTheir second son, Able, gives us an indication of his parents’ righteous teaching. He was the “good” son. In obedience to Almighty God, he offered a lamb as a righteous sacrifice, i.e. life for life. It was a lamb of sacrifice to cleanse Abel of sin.

The elder son, was of a different character. He apparently was not listening to Adam’s or God’s instructions. He thought the offering to God was a ceremony. He brought the best he had. But it was not an atonement for his sin. What Cain needed to do was obtain a lamb from Abel.

Abel’s name means “something transitory”. Cain’s name comes from a root meaning “provoke to jealousy”

Cain thought his offering was good enough, so when God honored his baby brother, instead of Cain, he took offense.

Despite their loss of righteousness, God was intimately involved with the humans He Created. Knowing that murderous sin was in Cain’s heart, the Almighty God took a personal interest and spoke directly to him, “If you obey me in the manner of sacrifice, your offering will be accepted. If you persist in disobedience you are open to greater sin. Satan is waiting at your door, but you have the ability to triumph over him.”

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”   (Genesis 4:6-7)

But, tragically, Cain liked the feeling of jealousy and resentment. It gave him a sense of power, so he chose to embrace that, The enemy of our souls lied to Cain and he, like Eve, believed Satan, rather than God. Satan said, “You know, if Abel were dead. You would be the only one, so God would have to approve your offering.” The logic was there, except for one slight detail. God doesn’t have to do anything by man’s logic.

Cain chose to eliminate Abel. He hid the body and covered Abel’s blood with dirt – the “Perfect Crime”, no evidence, no body.

God has a way of asking questions He already knows the answers to, “Cain, where is Abel? I miss him.”

Cain compounded the felony with a lie and an accusation against God. “I don’t know! And besides he’s a grown man, I don’t have to keep track of him.” The implication is that God was exceeding His authority expecting Cain to keep track of his brother.

Cain chose a series of evils, when the good was so easy. By setting aside his pride, Cain could have gone to Abel and asked for, or even purchased a lamb for offering. It would take humility and acknowledging that Cain had to learn from Abel. Instead he preserved his pride at the price of Abel’s life and Cain’s banishment from God’s Presence – and loss of his pride anyway.

Obey by Loving the Lord your God

The Shepherd's Fool boy on swing in the sunNow let’s leapfrog over several millennia to the time of King David and after. David loved Almighty God! He had grown to be intimate with the Almighty as David, in solitude, tended Jesse’s flocks. He chose to obey and follow the Almighty exclusively with all his heart. In battle, David followed the Lord God, and God gave him victories against superior forces time and again, over Goliath, over Saul (David refused to slay Saul despite two separate opportunities), over the Philistines, and all the rest. By example He led the People of God to worship YHWH exclusively. During David’s and Solomon’s reigns Israel honored YHWH, exclusively, so they had peace and prospered.

However, beginning in the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, idolatry cropped up and began to flourish. The people chose to worship nothingnesses, building places of worship on “every high hill”! From the division of the nation into Israel and Judah, Israel completely rejected Almighty God and worshipped nothingnesses, particularly Baal and Ashtoreth.

Judah had a checkered history. Under the evil kings they abandoned God Almighty, but under the righteous kings, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzzah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah (even though several of these “good” kings committed grievous sins) they reformed the nation and eliminated idolatrous worship. Under those latter kings Judah was spared defeat by the bully nations.

Israel and then Judah were clear object lessons for us today. When a person or a nation commits his, her or their hearts to the loving Almighty God, he, she, or they are protected and prospered by the Almighty.

If Your Heart Turns Away

When individuals or nations turn their back on Jeshua, He as the righteous Savior, gives them up to their desires. Paul instructs us in Ch. 1

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  (Romans 1:22-25)

The Shepherd's Fool Calendula flowers in the sunIn our nation, today we have chosen to feed on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are living by human logic and understanding.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  (Proverbs 14:12)

We have begun to bow down at the altar of science. We have worshipped screen stars and rock stars and sport stars, as if they had wisdom, when all they have is fickle human emotion. They declare the latest politically correct craze, regardless of the truth that God reveals, and theydecry the “deniers” as pariahs.

We are sacrificing our pre-born babies on the altar of Moloch, which we have re-branded as “convenience” and “birth control”.

We are being told that we must embrace the abomination of homosexuality and all its spawnings. The laws of the state are enforcing our compliance with fines and suits that bankrupt believers who adhere to their faith in Jeshua.

We are indoctrinating our children in public schools and colleges to turn them into idolaters and away from Jeshua.

We have ignored past history. Very few are even cognizant of Biblical history. Even the history of our nation is unknown. America prospered and was victorious as long as we looked to Jeshua as the Lord of our nation. In the middle of the last century faith in Jeshua began to be eroded and now three generations later believers are just a faithful remnant.

You May Dwell in the Land

America is not ours. All the world, all the cosmos belongs to our Creator God. He gave this land to the faithful Pilgrims and their successors the Founders of this nation. America was founded by men and women who believed in Jeshua as their Lord and Savior. They knew that as long as the People adhered to faith in the Lordship of Jeshua our nation would prosper. As long as we were submissive to the will of God Almighty, we could keep this land, living in peace and prosperity.

The Shepherd's Fool Wildflower Seed Pods in the sunWe introduced the scourge of slavery to pollute the nation and we reaped the whirlwind of God’s judgment. A war to free the slaves cost America the blood and lives of 623,026 of our youth. BUT GOD! … accepted that sacrifice and allowed us to keep this nation.

From the 1850’s to the 1930’s, America has sent hundreds of missionaries to the far corners of the globe to evangelize the not yet reached with the Gospel.

In 1917, we sent our men to rescue Europe from stalemate and likely defeat during WW I

In 1941-45, We fought again, sending our men to Europe to save the nations from the Nazi scourge and at the same time sent our men into the Pacific to destroy the Japanese attempt to take over those nations.

After we had brought our victorious men home, leaving thousands in graves all over the world, we spent Billions of dollars rebuilding the war-torn nations of our enemies and our friends.

But since those godly sacrifices, America has turned away from God. We have been increasingly excluding Jeshua from sector after sector of our society.

Jeshua, the One who will judge nations and peoples with righteousness has, in his mercy, withheld His just condemnation, giving America the space to repent and return to surrender to the Lordship of the Mashiach. If we do not, He will cast down our nation and allow another to have a go at living under His rule.

He gave the Jews a millennium and a half to see if they could live under God’s Law that He gave to Moses. They could not. God sent His Son, Jeshua to give them one last chance. They rejected Almighty God’s only Begotten Son: therefore, Jeshua sent His Disciples to the Gentiles throughout the world. Christianity has spread across the globe by faithful missionaries. Many, if not most, were sent and financed by America.

He has given America 400 years. We began strong, and yet, in the last century we have drawn away from Jeshua.

Living in His Blessings

Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days,  (Deuteronomy 30:20)

The Shepherd's Fool Queen Anne's Lace flowers in the sun.What must we do? We must take Jeshua seriously. He said,

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.   (Mark 16:15)

You are charged with an evangelical mission.

Jeshua said,

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.   (John 17:20-21)

It is your word of testimony that will:

  • Lead others to Jeshua
  • Give them the foundation to believe in Jeshua
  • Bring them into the family of Almighty God and make us all one in God and one with one another
  • Make the conditions right for the Holy Spirit to send belief in Jeshua to every corner of this globe

We cannot bring in the Kingdom of God by our efforts, but we can proclaim salvation to all who will hear that wonderful news, that Jeshua is the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is to Him we must all surrender and be saved, clothed in righteousness and be given a place for eternity in the Presence of Love inestimable, joy unspeakable and peace unceasing.

Go in the power of the Holy Spirit to change your friends and neighbors, to change our nation and to change the world!

Prayer for Grace and Service

Lord God Almighty, You sent Your Son to transform our lives and to give us Your message to the world

You sent the Holy Spirit to empower and embolden us to seize that message of salvation through Jeshua ha Meshach, and proclaim it from the housetops.

You have adopted us as Your beloved children. You are asking us to follow Your Son and the Holy Spirit into a hostile world and give them your love.

We choose to obey. We choose to comply. We choose to be Your hands of mercy, Your feet to serve and Your mouths to proclaim the love of God for all people.


Benediction for Choosing God

“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and in the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.   (Romans 16:25-27)

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Glad Tidings

Indoctrination Education

1 Aug , 2020  

GT—Volume 17 Issue 8

Indoctrination Education

“William Temple characterized this as a ‘cut flower civilization.’ It appears beautiful, but is cut off from its roots, the value system that nourished it. Signs of withering may be detected in increased criminality, salaciousness, profanity, vulgarity, and uncontrollable drug culture. Instead of emphasizing values proven by years of societal experience, liberal education has frequently capitulated to the demands of pressure groups that have never been exposed to, or have never gained an appreciation of, these values. Legitimate criticism has asserted that often in the past morality has been taught but not practiced. But it is infinitely more difficult to practice if it is not taught. Freedom of inquiry need not be accompanied by freedom from morality.” (W. Ivan Hoy, “Education and Morality” Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Carl F.H. Henry, Ed. Baker Book House Company, 1973, Pg.200)

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Our public educational system has been overcome by educators who either do not know or do not care what children need to know to live effectively in the world. They have promulgated a curriculum that omits the basic responsibilities of schools and teaches curricula that usurp the responsibility of parents.

Unhappily too many parents are complicit. They have abrogated their responsibility to train their children, opting for the schools to be the baby sitters, so both parents can work.

I witnessed the genesis of the parental side of the problem. In the 1960’s, I worked in mortgage living. Our culture expected that the men would work outside the home and the women were mothers, they raised the children. Our lending practices expected a home to be purchased on the basis of the man’s salary. The wages a woman earned were extra. So, lending policies were to assess whether a woman was in the child-bearing ages and whether her job was “professional”. To secure a loan, lenders had to consider that women who were likely to have children were also likely to stop working when children were born. That would necessarily decrease the security of the loan. Women who were professionally employed were less likely to have children interrupt their earning capacity.

Then the Law changed. Lenders were required to assess a woman’s earnings the same as a man’s. Thus, the “extra” when included allowed couples to by a better home or have more money for other things.

I watched the consequent escalation of home prices, so that after five or more years, women were forced to work in order to afford a starter home.

That put strains on young families, causing homes increasingly to be out of reach for young couples. The snowball effect was that children were raised by childcare agencies, because their mothers needed to work to afford a home. That in turn eliminated the home nurture and the loss of family values inculcated in the children from the beginning of life. In addition, young couples were forced into apartment living, instead of a home with a yard. The children in early development had no place to play outside on their own; no opportunity to explore more broadly, no place to make mud pies (don’t discount the value of mud pies). dove-vector-clipart

Public School Curricula

The Federal, Government acknowledge the problem in our public schools. Our children are getting an inadequate education to compete with children of other nation’s schools. My wife, Ruth, when teaching Middle School, several years ago, pointed out to her class that they were not competing against one another for jobs. When they grew up, they would be competing with people educated in other nation’s schools.

A 2004 report, titled Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts, found that employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past. According to Achieve, Inc., “current high-school exit expectations fall well short of employer and college demands.” The report explained that the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed in college and careers. Furthermore, “While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common-sense goal.” The report also stated that the high school diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards. (“Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts”Achieve, Inc. December 10, 2004.)

Over the last 20 years, the Federal Government has passed several laws in an attempt to rectify the failure of the public schools:

I have not been able to find any significant improvements in student outcomes.

Another hindrance to student education is the teachers’ union. They refuse to allow financial rewards for excellent teachers. They also protect inadequate teacher from being fired. Thus, the quality of teaching is generally lower that it should and far less than optimal.

A further problem it the hazard that students and teachers experience. Discipline is hamstrung by political correctness. Teachers cannot exercise corporeal punishment, cannot even touch students. If a student chooses to be rowdy and disrupt the class. The teacher has few options. She can send the student to the Principal’s office, if she or he willing go. If they will not, she can call in the Principle, who is also under the same restraints. In the meantime, no education goes on, so all the students lose out.    dove-vector-clipart

Alternative Schools

The three main types of alternative schools are

  • Charter Schools
  • Private Schools
  • Home Schooling

Charter School is “a public school that operates as a school of choice. Charter schools commit to obtaining specific educational objectives in return for a charter to operate a school. Charter schools are exempt from significant state or local regulations related to operation and management but otherwise adhere to regulations of public schools — for example, charter schools cannot charge tuition or be affiliated with a religious institution. (because they are publicly funded)

In other words, charter schools are publicly accountable—they rely on families choosing to enroll their children, and they must have a written performance contract with the authorized public chartering agency. Charter schools are also autonomous—they have more flexibility in the operations and management of the school than traditional public schools.

They are generally more effective in teaching and in producing competent graduating seniors.

A study conducted by the Washington State Charter School Commission showed that on average, median rates of growth were higher at Commission-authorized charter public schools, as compared to the schools that students would have been assigned, based on their home address.  (

Private Schools are privately funded and have curriculum independent of public schools. They are able to focus on the student’s needs and to guide the students to a better education. Generally smaller, they are able to fewer children in their classes, giving students more personal help. They challenge the students to higher achievement. The do not let slow learners fall behind. Classes are taught by independent teachers that can often write their own curriculum.

We thrive on competition and challenge. We are dynamic, innovative, decision making, action oriented people.  We like nothing better than to spot an emerging need of families or society and respond to it quickly with an appropriate program or service.

“We cherish autonomy. We can act, unfettered by Boards or Trustees or elected officials. Of course that does not mean that we have no one to answer to for our actions. Far from it, we are governed by the free market. If we provide the quality of programs and services that families want and need, we attract and retain students: if not, students go elsewhere. We know of no better regulator that that.  (National Independent Private Schools Association)

Home Schooling is increasing in popularity.

… parents educate their children at home instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school. Families choose to home school for a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with the educational options available, different religious or educational philosophies, and the belief that children are not progressing within the traditional school structure.  (What Is Homeschooling? A Guide for Parents and Students)

While the overall school-age population in the United States grew by about 2.0 percent from spring 2012 to spring 2016, data from 16 states from all four major regions of the nation showed that homeschooling grew by an average of about 25 percent in those states. If the data from these states are representative of what happened in the other states during those four years, then homeschooling is continuing to grow in both absolute numbers and as a portion of the overall school-age population.  (Homeschooling Growing: Multiple Data Points Show Increase 2012 to 2016 and Later)

In far too many cases, parents do not have a choice. The public school is “free”, but parents still have to buy all school supplies and there are costs for lunch and activities, etc. Most cannot afford private schools. There are far too few publicly supported Charter Schools. Too many parents are engaged with work, so home schooling does not fit their schedules.

Further the teacher’s unions fight hard, spending large amounts of money to advertise and lobby to keep the status quodove-vector-clipart

What’s A Parent Gonna Do?

Our culture has changed drastically. When I was growing up, parents were expected to train their children. They instilled in their sons and daughters basic morality. They taught them to be generous to others, to be respectful of elders, to be polite. to not hit, to not lie, etc. They taught by example, by correction (when given something, “Say, ‘Thank you’. “Say, ‘Please’, when asking for something.”) We were also taught by discipline. Spanking was common. The joke was, “The board of correction applied to the seat of the problem.”

We grew up in a polite society and we continued to make it polite. Because of common morality taught, the culture was safe for children. Adults looked after children in the absence of their parents. That was because the social interchange was based of the Judeo-Christian morality, i.e. the Commandments of God.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind.  And a second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

This meant we treated (and were trained to believe) everyone was equal.

Parents were the first “school teachers”. In our fragmenting society, parents are losing the responsibility of training their children. In three generations we have gone

Today young Christian parents, believing parents, that is, need to depend greatly upon the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom. He knows the godly way to raise their children. That takes time, repetition, both home education in Christ’s life and teaching, and in addition, a faithful church school to reinforce the parents’ godly instruction.

Teens need a strong faith to counter the peer pressure to adopt the immorality rampant in the culture. They need to be able to stand up to the ridicule for keeping pure. They need to have ready answers for the Hope that is within them.

Tragically all believing children need to understand from an early age that most of the authority figures will be teaching them ways of living that are wrong according to their parents and God. Parents must be engaged in the public schools more diligently that in previous generations. They MUST know what the schools are teaching their children. Parents must demand that their sons and daughters be excused form improper and/or sinful instruction.

While we all pay taxes to support public schools, parents must face the financial sacrifice of educating their children in alternative schooling. Charter schools are often a good alternative, but there are so few of them (only 14 in all of Washington State) that there are likely none available. A private Christian school either Protestant of Catholic, is likely an expensive option, but they are worth the sacrifices. I can personally testify to both – sacrifice and worth. Home schooling (with sacrifices) allows the parents to continue their godly influence through High School. It also makes possible family exploratory outings.    dove-vector-clipart

God Is Alive And In The Family

Parents are not alone. That is what is so great about Omnipresence. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are with each one of us all the time. Believers have merely to turn their attention to Him and they have the resources of the universe at their disposal. Parents have the privilege of additional help, because the Almighty God is keen on educating children in the most holy faith. Our Father wants His wee ones and children and teens to be comfortable in turning to Him often for instruction, for help, for deliverance from threats, and just because they love Him. Jesus has many lessons to teach children of all ages, so He is there with parents giving them what they need. The Holy Spirit of truth, will manifest gifts of wisdom, discernment in parents as they are open to Him. He will teach all about Jesus and help the children remember what they need when they need it.

God has not gone away to tend sheep in other pastures. He is right here now and always, listening to you, regardless of whether you are listening to Him. He is deeply concerned with the correct teaching of children. The Holy Spirit is not a teacher of “Christian things” exclusively. He is co-Creator, along with the Son and the Father, of the universe. He knows math and all the sciences, history, geography, reading and writing, current events. He knows everything that children need to know to function in and alongside this society.

He can and will teach “bad stuff’ to train children what to avoid. It is not enough to train in what is bad, He also trains in what is good to replace the bad.

God loves Children. He loves parents. He loves Believers. Put them all together and you have a winning combination. Parents can be confident that Their Gracious Lord will guide them to the best Schooling for their children. They can trust that Their Savior will lead them through all the sacrifices, struggles, threats and attacks to a successful and well-rounded education for their children.  One that will give them a good foundation and get them started on the right path.

There is no power in Hell or on earth that can withstand the family that prays, all well- trained and one in the spirit. Our Farther is glorified in their praise. Jesus is triumphant over the world the flesh and the devil through them. The Holy Spirit will build up the children to be world-beaters as they mature. Which also means they will be world-changers, making this a better place to eagerly await His Coming.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus to rebuild the world as it was in the beginningperfect in glorifying God!    dove-vector-clipart

Questions Demanding Answers

This is a recurring feature. I pose a question in one issue. You have the opportunity to send me answers. I publish the best ones in the next issue. Please cite Biblical authority, and keep you answer within 250 words.

QUESTION: Have you been saved by Jesus?  Have you been released in the Holy Spirit?

ANSWER: Obviously these are personal questions that only you and Jesus can answer truthfully.

You must face yourself in the mirror each day and in so doing you will know the truth. You are either in bondage to the self and Satan, or you are in bondage to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul taught,

… and being made free from sin, ye became [bond]servants of righteousness.  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as [bond] servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as [bond] servants to righteousness unto sanctification.  (Romans 5:18-19)

All who are not saved are lost. But what are the lost saved from? There are only two kinds of people in the world, children of God and enemies of God. You know, when you think of it, it does not make good sense to be an enemy of the greatest force in the universe, the one who created you and has your life in His hand.

In John’s Gospel he states,

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.  (John 3:36).

This points out the Jesus, Who is God’s Son is the deciding point. You are either surrendered to Jesus and saved or surrendered to Satan and lost.

John made it more explicit,

He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.  (1 John 5:12).

Therefore, to be saved is to be delivered from God’s wrath and from eternal torment in Hell. It means that you are an adopted Child of God and have an eternal home with God your Father in love, joy and peace–and a lot more!

The second question refers to Jesus emphasis on “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Read Acts 2 for the initial coming of the Holy Spirit. Everyone who is saved has the Holy Spirit living in his or her spirit. The “release of the Holy Spirit” refers to the believer recognizing the Holy Spirit within and then giving the Spirit permission to fill her or him and overflow in the manifestations of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 for one of the lists).

The Holy Spirit is the power of God. When He is released the believer has power to testify to his own salvation, witnessing to unsaved people. The Spirit gives the believer power to withstand attacks, both physical and spiritual. He is a boon companion in joy and in trouble. He comforts, guides, teaches. He is a very powerful friend that is always at hand. Believing in Jesus starts one on the journey to God’s Kingdom. Releasing the Spirit gives you help along the way.

QUESTION: Where is the Prince of Peace when people are rioting and destroying and killing?

The Holy of Holies

Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.

Jesus, You said, “Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not.” You said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better to tie a millstone around your neck and be cast into the depth of the sea. You said, “Except you become as a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

That tells us that You are deeply concerned with children. They are most vulnerable, because they are innocent. Their innocence endears them to You. That is why You call all of mankind to come to You in the innocence and vulnerability as a child. 

Father, You love children so very much, it is a wonder that You put them in our clumsy hands and charge us with the responsibility of being stewards to start them on their lives. You have charged us to nurture and train them to be fit to take on the responsibilities as an adult. You have given us the responsibility to nourish them; to feed them healthy food, to feed their spirit with godly nourishment, and to train their minds to think critically, so as not to fall for deceitful allures that lead to evil thoughts, words and deeds.

We are struggling upstream against the current. The world is so full of evil, with wrong thinking, temptations of the body, the mind, the will and emotions. Strengthen our spirits to stand in the evil day (that is every day in this fallen culture). We would be faithful to You and to be a beacon of truth, righteousness, godly sense and an island of peace in the stormy waters of our society.

We can only do that in Christ. Give us the desire to seek after Jesus to the extent that we with Paul can truly say, “For me to live is Christ!” Only with Your help (or more properly) only in Christ can we stand in the hurricane of immorality, sectarian politics, inter-racial hatred, dishonesty of our leaders. and the pernicious people that assault us each day seeking to delude us offering bogus help.

Jesus, I need You every hour. You are my gracious Savior. In You I need have no fear. Thank You for teaching me that fear is a failure to fully trust my Father, and depression is losing track of Jesus my Savior; further, that worry is another manifestation of failure to trust my Father. My children are raised and thanks to You they love You and serve You. And so, it is with my grandchildren. 

My lovely Lord, these blessings are mine because of Your coming into my life. Holy Spirit, Your power and gifts have drawn me into Jesus and out of the world. I am deeply grateful to You as well. Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus, Son of God and Savior. Thank You Holy Spirit my Guide and Counselor.

Hallelujah!! Hallelujah! Amen!

, ,


Speaking Disrespectfully Of Sin

1 Jun , 2020  

Call to Worship:

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.

Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.  (Psalms 33:1-5)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.   (Genesis 3:1-13)

It was Tuesday when Henry ran into Zeke in Salem, Arkansas.  Henry had been doing business that took him into Little Rock for the weekend, so he missed Sunday worship at the Church in Salem.

“Hullo, Zeke, how was that visitin’ Preechur, standin’ in fer Pastor Michaels?”


“What’d he preach on?”


Frustrated with Zeke’s uninformative one-word answers, Henry asked, “Well, what’d he say about it?

“He’s a’gin it.”

I hope we are all “a’gin it.

Sermon Message:

Sin is a Trap

The Officers Candidate School was at Fort Benning, GA. In the south they have a much greater problem with bugs than we do. During our orientation one of the strong prohibitions was no food in the barracks. They called it “pogey bait”. If we received cookies or cake from home we had to eat in completely before lights out. It was also forbidden to order in any delivery food.

Each of the four platoons in the company was under a “Tactical Officer”, a Lieutenant who was permanently assigned to shepherd each platoon through the course.

In violation of orders, we officer candidates in 1st Platoon decided to have a “Pogey Party”. Now we had to have the pizza and soda delivered in such a way that it was not discovered by the on-duty Tactical Officer. We planned to have the pizza driver pull up by the dumpster in back of the barrack building. Another candidate and I would take out our garbage can to dump it in the dumpster. Meet the driver, pay him and carry the pogey bait concealed in the garbage can back into the barracks, distribute it and pig out. A great plan!

Except the stupid driver did not get the delivery instructions. He pulled up in front of the barracks and honked his horn.

I raced out and told him to go around to the back. We then proceeded with our original plan. We met and paid and loaded the pizza into the can and began hotfooting it back into the barracks. Then we heard “Halt!” We had been discovered!

The other candidate said, “What do we do?” I said, “We didn’t hear anything!” and we kept on. But then, close enough so we could not ignore it, “Halt! Ground that garbage can!” It was 2nd Platoon’s Tactical Officer. He looked me in the eye, and said, “Take off the lid!” There for all to see were stacked boxes of pizza and containers of soda. We were busted! I had been disobedient to a lawful order of a superior officer. In other words, I was guilty of sin.

Then the officer ordered, “Put the lid back, bring the can and follow me.” He marched us into 2nd Platoon’s bay, had us set the can down, stand at attention while he said to his candidates, “Men you get a pogey party, courtesy of your Tactical Officer.” We left much humiliated amid the cheers and jeers of the other Platoon.

Sin Snatches Away Pleasure

Satan is like that. He leads you into sin, promising a great reward for your violation, and then snatches the pleasure of the sin from you.

He offered Eve an expanded understanding of life.

“You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”   (Genesis 3:4,5)

Adam and Eve did get the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but the enemy of our souls failed to make full disclosure. He did not tell them that the disobedience would break, irreparably the intimate relationship with God. And for them the shock of loss of righteousness, and the death of their spiritual connection with their Loving Creator. He did not reveal that the cost would be thousands of years of misery. Eve had no conception that God Himself, the Messiah would have to become a man and die to redeem the consequences of one little bite. Such a little thing to have such great consequences.

What is Sin?

What is sin? It, too, is only a little word, but has world-shaking consequences. Paul defines sin,

“for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23).

Falling short of the glory of God is essentially not being God. Adam and Eve were created in perfection, and knowing nothing else, they lived robed in God’s righteousness and lived in perfect harmony with one another, with animals, with vegetation and with nature.

In considering the temptation offered by Satan, Eve fell short of God’s glory. Adam followed Eve’s lead. He, too, fell short. The result was they were no longer perfect, and they fell out of God’s righteousness and were naked and ashamed.

We have a hard time conceiving perfection. God is eternally perfect. He is righteous in all He thinks, says and does. His words had the power of Creation and His creation was perfect until Man, to whom God had given dominion, broke faith and disobeyed. Because man obeyed Satan instead of God, man’s dominion changed hands, giving Satan dominion over the world. Thus, the broken Creation became the world of natural disasters, pestilence, and entropy. It cannot be fixed. It must be discarded and God must start over.

What Makes a Sin?

If sin is falling short of the glory of God, what makes a sin? Well, certainly, the murder of another man, because it destroys God’s treasure that is life. Theft is sin, because it deprives another of what God has provided for her. Disobedience of parents is a sin, because in flaunting their authority it is thumbing one’s nose at God Who gave them their authority.

Every sin is in some way a sin against God.

A husband answers his wife’s question, “How do you like my new dress?” with a white lie, “Oh, darling it is lovely,” even though the color makes her look pale and sickly. That is just a little lie. But that mistruth is an affront to the Majesty of Almighty God.

God is truth and in Him is not a shadow of untruth. He is righteous, perfectly righteousness. Any one of the people He has created that does the slightest thing that is not perfect, is saying to God, “I know a better way than Yours.” That translates into “Move over, God, I’m taking control!”

God is a jealous God, and will allow no one or nothing to usurp His place. Thus, there is no such thing as a little sin. Every thought, word or deed that is not perfectly righteous, is a heinous sin and punishable by being eternally assigned to Hell to burn forever in the fires of condemnation. Remember, Jesus made it clear,

“but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22)

Yes, God is punctilious. He’s a knit picker, and nothing escapes His eye.

“Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that canst not look on perverseness, …” (Habakkuk 1:13)

In the following thought in the quote from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us both instruction and a warning.

“If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art with him in the way; lest haply the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” (Matthew 5:23-25)

Jesus Saves Us from Sin

Jesus is the God-man, who came to Earth to be our Savior. He died to free us from sin, death and Hell. But He gave us instruction both directly and via the Holy Spirit. Jesus is quoted in the Scriptures, so we must pay attention to His teachings. The Holy Spirit has delivered the Scriptures to us. They are given that we might learn to avoid sin.

“But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

Here we’ll deal with Jesus words. Jesus is admonishing us “to keep short accounts”. In the days before credit cards, the general store in a village had accounts for all the folks in the vicinity, who were mostly farmers. Their income came when they sold their harvest. They had an account at the store and were “carried” until they sold their crops. Then they paid their general store bill in full, hoping they had enough left over so they would not have to add much to their account, until they needed to buy spring seed. They wanted to keep “short accounts”.

Jesus is advising us to keep short accounts of sin. If you come to worship and know there is an unresolved disagreement, a complaint, an offense given or taken, between you and a brother or sister in Christ, Jesus wants you to resolve that difference before you worship. God knows our hearts. He will not respond to our prayers or our praise because the sin in our hearts.

Our Sins Impact Others

They have labeled the younger generation “the Snowflake Generation” because they are so easily offended, they easily meltdown at the slightest thing. Colleges now have to have “safe rooms’ where they can “recuperate” from some offense.

Because we live in a world populated, not by perfect angels, but by sinners, God exhorts us to be reasonable and give one another some latitude. Paul teaches:

Love “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;   (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Believers are to be tolerant of offense, affront, to “turn the other cheek”. We are to be peace makers (as someone has said) not peace breakers. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to live reconciled with one another.

Perfect Love Casts Out Sin

It is amazing how the words, “I love you” can make relationships easier. Ruth and I have been married for 59 years June 18th. We are very different people. God has had to work very hard to make us one, and sadly we are still not one flesh. But we love one another and we say it many times a day. That smooths over the hard times, because despite our disagreements, I know Ruth loves me. And she knows I love her.

In church, we do not tend to say, “I love you,” to one another, but perhaps we should. We are, after all, brothers and sisters of one another. Besides, saying, “I love you,” won’t break the COVID-19 protocol, which currently frowns on hugs.

Resist Sin with Humility

So, what do we do about sin? Well, first of all, DON’T. If you do sin, make a quick confession and seek forgiveness. If you believe someone has sinned against you, keep short accounts. Speak to that person and to no one else. Seek to get it resolved between you. If you cannot resolve it between you, do not allow your emotions, your wounded pride, frustration break fellowship. Initially agree to disagree. Then seek a disinterested third party to reconcile the disagreement.

When you have sinned against another, the Holy Spirit will let you know it. If you have to justify your words or actions, you can be sure it is your soul trying to cover up your sin. That is the time to get honest before the Lord, asking his forgiveness, first; and then go to the one you have wronged, and seek his or her forgiveness. There is nothing in this that you do not know. It is all old stuff. But it is hard stuff to do. Our soul wants to project the perfect image, despite the reality of our flaws.

All relationships require humility. Coming together, knowing I might do something offensive, or you might, too, will make anything negative that happens have less impact and importance; therefore, it can easily be smoothed over, if both are committed to act quickly. The ideal is that the two, each eagerly, hurrying to make things right between you, meet in the middle with apology and forgiveness.

Sin in Our World

What do we do about sin in the world? We can’t do anything directly. Sin in the world is everywhere we look. The sin problem is too big for us to handle. It is a God-sized problem. Our role and responsibility are to pray that the Holy Spirit will come with His revival fire and purge hearts as He has done periodically throughout human history. At times it has been a drastic purging as in the Noachian Flood and the Babylonian captivity. At other times God’s dealing with sin has taken the blood of war, as in the American Civil War, which cleansed our nation of the sin of slavery.

While we must leave reconciling sin in worldly people to our Almighty God; we have a responsibility to warn them.

What do we know about our neighbors across the road, or on either side or behind the Church? What do we know about those living on this road or nearby in our area? When was the last time any of us visited them? We need to get to know them, their families, their successes, their problems. To pray for them effectively, we need to know what is their relationship with Jesus, or lack thereof. In Ezekiel 33:1-9 God says that we are “the watchman on the wall”, with the duty to warn the people when God is coming with a sword to judge the people. He said that if we did not warn them, their condemnation would be on us!

Dealing with Our Own Sin

Our main focus this morning is dealing with sin in our own lives. That begins with humility:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Psalms 139:23-24)

Did I say, “Humility”? Yes. One of the spiritual exercises each morning before you get out of bed, is pray, “God guide through this day and make me a worthy servant, giving You glory in all I do.”

And then each night, before you get into bed, pray, “Search me, O God, see it there be any wicked way in me.” That starts and ends each day in humility.

God has made us ministers of reconciliation,

But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation.   (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Since we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot say with Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer is, “Yes, we are!” I quoted Jesus who said reconciliation with a brother is more important than worship, “leave your gift and be reconciled with your brother.”

Paul taught

Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.   (Galatians 6:1)

Jesus taught

And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  (Matthew 18:15)

Paul taught, it is better to suffer personal loss than to take a brother to court.

but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?  Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?  (1 Corinthians 6:6-7)

Jesus said the 2nd Commandment was

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  (Matthew 22:38)

Again, Paul taught,

doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself.  (Philippians 2:3)

We may not be able to eradicate sin in this congregation, but we can work at it by inviting the Holy Spirit to look into our hearts. As we look on diligently and honestly, then we confess the sin that lurks in the dark corners. We can rid ourselves of burdens that without our knowledge suck up emotional energy and, wear us out with their additional weight.

So, my summery is: Sin – I’m ag’in it! In me and in you.

Closing Prayer:

Please pray for me and with me.

Lord God, Holy Spirit, Jesus sent You to be our Comforter and to convince us of our sin. Give us honest, humble hearts to throw them open to Your purging, no matter how painful. Make us see ourselves as You do and as others do, too. Give us the joy of a spring cleaning. Bring us together to reconcile differences and to bind us together with cords of love that cannot be broken.

We acknowledge that we are too often agents of the enemy of our souls. He is Hell bent on dividing us from other believers, and uses us to do it. Give us the spiritual vision to see ourselves as You do, so we can reject our enemy’s temptations to separate us from the love of one another.

Father, John tells us that You are love. So, infuse us with your love that we become impervious to all attempts to separate us from any brother or sister in Christ.

For Your glory we surrender our hearts once more. Amen.


“Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen”   (The Revelation 1:5-6)

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Glad Tidings

Love in Marriage

5 May , 2020  

Married Love

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote Sonnet 43 as a poem of love for the person she cherished. It was dedicated to her husband, poet Robert Browning.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.    (1850)

This is an impressive expression of love. The breadth and scope she describes are total commitment to her loved husband. It springs from a magnificent passion.

Over the last several centuries, romantic love has dominated among the “loves”, i.e. love of God, love of country, love of parents, love of friends. For the centuries before romantic love has only been in the background. Marriages were arranged by parents, who tended to consider romance a distraction. Fathers would seek a “profitable match” for each of his daughters. That meant a man of good prospects; which meant he would be able to support his wife and family.

In mostly agrarian societies, the prospective husband needed a grant of land from his father. Then He would build a dwelling for his wife. Often there was a bride price to pay; likely in the form of livestock.

Land, a dwelling and livestock were tokens of a responsible man, who could take care of the father’s daughter and ensuing grandchildren, providing for them well. Most importantly, the husband would provide the basic necessities for his family. Secondarily, that the groom was responsible and capable enough, so that the bride and the children did not have to come back to be an additional burden on her father.

Thus, marriage was, foremost, a practical matter. Romance was a luxury that agrarian societies could most often not afford. Survival was always tenuous, so a young man’s abilities were the singular concern and a girl’s romantic ideas were of no account.    dove-vector-clipart

Married Love Today

We are no longer an agrarian society. Survival is not tenuous (in case you hadn’t noticed). We are by any reasonable measure a rich society. The vast majority of families may have working parents, so they have the income to provide the basic necessities. There are many luxuries that today are considered “necessities”, but they could be eliminated, saving the family a significant amount of money. The family would still be able to have the necessary (please note the word) food, clothing and shelter.

Because of our wealth we have the luxury of romantic love that seems to dominate all the kinds of love. In romance movies a young woman will be asked about her fiance. She responds, “Oh, he’s got a great job with opportunity for advancement. He really is good to me. He is good with children (all important qualifications).” The best friend presses, “Good, but do you love him?!” That is the single most important qualification. Forget the fact that he has never had a steady job, lives in a basement room of his parents’ home; mostly plays video games.

While I do no seek to toss away romantic love, I do insist that it is far overrated and needs to become the crust on a meat pie, good to have, tasty, but the important part is the healthy filling.

Commitment in Marriage

Love is not “hearts and flowers”. True love is commitment.

The traditional vows are a solid commitment and surrender through thick and thin, war and peace, ups and downs. “I, (Name), take thee, (Name), to be my wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance: and thereto I (give/plight) my troth.”

Can you see the length, width and depth of the commitment a couple affirms to one another, the community and to Almighty God?

One of the modern bastardizations of these solemn vows is to change “so long as we both shall live” into, “so long as we both shall love”. By that they define it as romantic love that is not permanent, but is emotional and flies away at a whim.  dove-vector-clipart

For Better Or Worse

In any human relationship differences crop up; tares are sown among the wheat.

During the dating and engagement, a man and a woman are on their best behavior. They are displaying their attractive qualities. They either hide or explain away any negative characteristics. The attraction to the other puts pressure on one to avoid anything that would make the other think again about continuing in the relationship.

Once married, the security of the commitment allows greater freedom to be “yourself”. Time wears away the effort to project “sweetness and light”. Overlooked differences during courtship become sharp differences, that lead to serious arguments. If the commitment is not strong the marriage can be broken off as soon as the honeymoon period is over.

When the relationship is based on a firm commitment, true love will rise above sharp differences. The first several years are the “shakedown cruise”. Those are the times when the “gloves come off” and the “warts show”. “I am angry with you, now, but I love you and I will not leave you.” A couple in real love enjoy the making up, because of the contrast of the loving sweetness to the separation caused by the broken fellowship.

Working Together in Marriage

There is a deep joy in working together, each sharing strengths to accomplish an important goal. The mutual thanks for one another’s contribution invigorate their love and deepens and enhances their intimacy.

Loving intimacy in a secure marriage commitment make procreation a deep and exhilarating joy. The companionship of the birth of a child supercharges the mutual admiration of the one for the other. A man’s wife needs her husband’s strength, love and concern to weather the agony of the birth process. The husband’s deep concern for her struggle breaks forth into amazing gratitude to her, when he holds that baby, she suffered to present to him and to the world. They have been partners in creation and birthing. Their bond of love is not romantic, but transformational.

As the decades pass, children and care for them often interferes with the relationship of the wife and husband. Committed love, seeks ways in the midst of an overfull life to reconnect on a foundational level. Once the children are launched, the couple can recapture the interrupted relationship. They are able in a more mature way to build their intimacy. For many (but I fear too few) they become “Golden Years” of working together, recreating together, laughing together, planning together. Through it all, they have satisfaction in what they have accomplished together. They rejoice together in one another’s awards for the works each has done separately

Toward the end of life, the diminishing ability and the struggles with infirmity and sickness place a heavy burden on each. The extra care one must have for the other in a deeply committed love is not a burden on the soul. It is a joy to care for the treasured one. In ways far beyond words, the gift the needy one gives is to receive the ministrations of the healthier one. Even the knowing that it cannot be repaid in kind, is a gift. This is love that is pure, strong and to be treasured as something far more precious than “houses or lands”.  dove-vector-clipart

For Richer Or Poorer

When I was a teen and contemplating marriage – off somewhere in the dim outer reaches of life, one of the things I was aware of was that a man needed to have a good-paying job to afford a wife. The “two can lie as cheaply as one” was a romantic fallacy. It is the reality of youth that most married couples do not have the income to be comfortable.

When I married Ruth, the ethos was that the man provided for the family. The wife was not expected to work. Thus, the pay of the Man set the standard of life for the beginning family. Newly married young couples generally struggled financially, during the early years, until the man worked his way up to a pay level that makes life more comfortable.

When Ruth and I got married, I was selling real estate. Laura was born shortly before our first anniversary. Susan came two years later. I was struggling financially. I could not make sales often enough. I was able to change jobs to obtain a regular salary that did provide adequately for our family.

Through the years, we have been both rich and poor. We have learned to live as the Apostle Paul,

I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.   (Philippians 4:12).

Money in Marriage

Controversy over finances is one of the sources of acrimony in marriages. The increasing needs of a growing family often outstrips the ability of the parents to provide. The decisions over spending of scarce resources can lead to acrimony; and too often they become continuing tension, separating the couple.

On the other hand, riches can also be a separating influence in the life of the couple. A man in a high-powered job brings home an enormous paycheck and provides a large house with swimming pool and all the extras. But he is never home. The woman becomes engaged in a social circle and in her husband’s absence, looks for companionship elsewhere. Riches do strain the commitment.

We must submit to God’s plan for our lives. We must come back again and again to Paul’s affirmation of contentment, stated above.  dove-vector-clipart

Until Death Parts Us

Our Sovereign Lord God planned for Marriage to be the foundation of Civilization. He brought Eve to Adam, and they loved and worked together. They had children and they became a family. As family groups increased, that became the genesis of civilization. They built relationships among the various family groups and began the complexity of interrelationships.

This is where God’s laws of love modified frictions between groups. The learning process began in families, starting with the interrelationship between man and woman in marriage.

God purposed that “these two become one flesh”. His desire is that they unite in agreement over life’s direction, shared purposes, combined goals. He has revealed the truth of strength in numbers.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.   (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

The Wife and Husband are the basic church.

Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.   (Matthew 18:19-20)

God’s will is for mutual submission, at the same time a wife is to defer to her husband.

… subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.   (Ephesians 5: 21-24)

This submission of the wife seems to our culture very hard duty. Until we look at God’s directive for husbands,

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;   (Ephesians 5:25).

He is to sacrifice himself for her. He is to nourish and cherish” her. This is a mutual collaboration, a covenant relationship with strong demands laid on both husband and wife by our Righteous God.

Submitting to One Another

It has been said that the woman has been given command to submit to her husband because she, being more spiritually attuned would tend to take over the spiritual leadership. Without the command to submit, forcing the man to be the spiritual leader, many men would and do drop out, spiritually.

On the other hand, husbands have been commanded to love their wives, sacrificially. Men tend to love their work most. Peter gives husbands further instruction,

Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.   (1 Peter 3:7)

In this mutual relationship of loving commitment, couples grow into that “one flesh” relationship”– shared hopes, dreams, ideals, purposes. All are indications of the “one flesh” that a married wife and husband share. As they age together, they ripen in their love and understanding of one another. Their psyches are so attuned that they can finish one another’s sentences. They agree on all the major issues in their lives. They are synchronized in their absolute trust in God’s love and provision.

God becomes the glue that holds them together. As they each grow closer to Jesus through the decades of their lives together, they grow closer to one another. Jesus is the one who lives in both and is the buffer that smooths the rough edges of each to make them an increasingly better fit as life together prolongs.

There comes a time that each is aware of the approaching end of life. It is rare that both die at the same time. Therefore, there is a growing concern of one being left alone. The three-fold mutual love is so strong that the thought of separation can be devastating.

However, God steps in and gives the believing couple assurance that the separation will be brief. The rejoining in Paradise will be joyful beyond imagining. Further, the marriage that lasts a lifetime gives each and both a preview of the love that awaits around their loving God’s throne.

God promises the surviving spouse the comfort of the Holy Spirit. God fills the hole left by the departing spouse. He surrounds the grief and mutes the anguish. He gives the one left a new direction that steps off from the foundation laid by the married love. Our Father knows our need and has already put in place what is needed to compensate for the loss of a life-long love.

God gives us the Grace for each day and joy in the remaining life that buoys the spirit. Anticipation grows in the meantime; anticipation of being unshackled by the flesh; anticipation of being reunited not only with the spouse, but also with all the loved ones that have gone on before; and then the anticipation of the glorious, magnificent entry into the Presence of God!  dove-vector-clipart

Questions Demanding Answers

This is a recurring feature. I pose a question in this issue. You have the opportunity to send me answers. I will publish the best ones in the next issue. Please cite Biblical authority, and keep you answer within 250 words.

QUESTION: Why did Abraham lie to Pharaoh, saying, Sarah was his sister?  (Genesis 12:10-20)

ANSWER: Because he was afraid. He and Sarah (and household) fled famine in Canaan for the breadbasket of Egypt. Abraham looked at the reality of the situation. His household was powerless against the might of Pharaoh. Sarah was beautiful. Pharaoh was an absolute monarch. The ethos of the broader culture was against stealing a man’s wife, but not against killing him and then taking her. So, to protect himself, he sacrificed Sarah. The lie was a half-truth. He had married his half-sister.

But his action raises several issues. A man ought to protect his wife at the risk of his own. He could have slipped into the large nation of Egypt and remained unnoticed. He should have trusted Go to protect both Sarah and him.

First, we must not expect A.D. 21st Century mores out of 20th Century B.C. people. That culture put a lower value on women, so the sacrifice of one’s wife was the natural thing to do.

Second, Scripture does not say, and I can find nothing that requires, immigrants had to check in with the local constabulary, bringing one to the notice of Pharaoh.

Third, Abraham had experienced יהוה, Jehovah, for only a short time, so he may not have been aware of God’s intimate care of each individual.

Pharaoh did take Sarah into his Harim. God protected Sarah from being molested and he sent a plague on Pharaoh’s household. Some scholars think it was a plague of barrenness in both women and animals. We do not have a time frame, so perhaps the evidence was a rash of stillborn sheep and cattle.

Apparently, God had spoken the truth to Pharaoh, that he had usurped another man’s wife and that was the cause of the plague.

Pharaoh was furious. He had given Abraham sheep, oxen, he asses, menservants, maidservants, she asses and camels in exchange for Sarah. To get rid of Abraham and the plague, Pharaoh sent him away, demanding back none of his gifts to Abraham.

The moral of this story is NOT “Honesty is NOT the best policy.” We learn from Abraham’s mistake that we can trust God in even the most threatening situations. God not only takes care of us but rewards us.

Unhappily, Abraham did not learn to trust God. Ca. 23 years later (Ch. 20), the King of Gerar, Abimelech had eyes for Sarah. Abraham again lied. Again, Sarah was taken into a Harim, again the king was plagued, again, God punished the king and demanded Sarah’s return and insisted that gifts be given to Abraham. Some of us are slow learners.

QUESTION: Why is fear a faith-betraying emotion?

The Holy of Holies

Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.

Father, our nation and our world are in a serious state due to the corona virus. Is this Your judgment poured out on us for our rejecting You? You sent plagues as punishment among the Children of Israel. They were seriously afflicted, but You sent release each time. You sent a plague as judgment against Israel because of King David’s sin. Upon His repentance You stayed the plague.

Lord, our Righteous God we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have sinned against Your divine Majesty. Have mercy upon us for rejecting You and putting our trust in man’s abilities. We have embraced materialism and rejected spirituality. We have legislated against praying to God publicly in government, in schools. Business for fear of law suits has proscribed prayer and even saying Your name, unless it is a swear word. We are stripping our nation of any reference to God. We have made our schools into indoctrination institutions against faith in You. We have presided over the slaughter of innocents, legislating ever broadening the legal aborting. We have legally codified the abomination of homosexuality. We have made divorce, which You hate, easy. We have legalized the “marriage” of homosexuals. We have embraced “recreational sex” and made fornication and adultery common as peanuts.

“There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine indignation; Neither is there any health in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over my head: As a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are loathsome and corrupt, Because of my foolishness.” (Psalms 38:3-5)

We, through our own fault, have wandered away from You, our One and only God. We have become altogether corrupt. We have no ability to make restitution for our flagrant sin.

Have mercy upon us, Almighty God. Have pity on our weaknesses. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot even turn away from sin and turn to embrace You, for our own strength is leached away by our egregious sin,

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, And blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee. (Psalms 51:7-12)

Have mercy on us. Deliver us from our unrighteousness. I worship You, o, most holy One. Unworthy as we are, honor us with deliverance, as we continue to praise Your holiness. Hallelujah!! Hallelujah! Amen!

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Palm Sunday Responsive Reading

2 Apr , 2020  

Palm Sunday Responsive Reading


Reader:    Jesus came to Jerusalem and the people waved Palm branched and laid their clothing in the road and cried

Congregation:    Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

Reader:    Blessed is the kingdom that cometh

Congregation:    The kingdom of our father David: Hosanna in the highest.

Reader:    Lift up your heads, O ye gates;

Congregation:    And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in.

Reader:    Who is the King of glory?

Congregation:    Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.

Reader:    The children were crying in the temple and saying,

Congregation:    Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 

Reader:    And some of the Pharisees said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples.

Congregation:    And he answered and said, I tell you that, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.

Reader:    I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star.

Congregation:    And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come.

Reader:    And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely.

Congregation:    Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

                                                    Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!  Hallelujah!



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We Are Ministers of Christ

26 Mar , 2020  


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”    (2 Corinthians 5:17 – 6:10)

We Are a New Creation

Saint Paul, by Bartolomeo Montagna, 1482

One of my teachers said that the early translation of the scriptures was done as circuit riders were ministering around the countryside. Every time the horse hit a bump it caused a chapter break. That is why sometimes there are chapter breaks in the midst of the writer’s thought. (…joking…)

Actually, with Paul, all chapter breaks are in the midst of his stream of conscious thought.

This passage in Second Corinthians begins with the affirmation that believers are new creations. It introduces the concept that all believers are ministers. Paul continues, pointing out that Christ works alongside us. He prepares us for the hardships of the work. Paul lists the characteristics of the minister of Christ, and then concludes with the glories of the ministry.

Has God come into your life? Has he disrupted your worldly ideas and plans, and inserted His own as replacements? If so, you are a new creature. You have been born again to a lively hope in the resurrection to eternal life.

You have been separated from the world and its ungodly desires. Unhappily, that does not mean you can’t go back. Like a washed pig that immediately wallows in the mire, all believers can return to fleshly, worldly and satanic pleasures.

One of the many benefits of salvation is that our selves are renewed. In actuality, we are new creatures. All that was before is obsolescent. It is passing away and as a new creation in Christ, the fullness of what that means will become manifest in due time.

Christ Reconciles us to God

Paul throughout his letter points out that B.C., before Christ, we were enemies of God. Because He is Sovereign, our lives of worldliness were in rebellion to His sovereignty. We were at war with God.

For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  (Romans 8:6-8)

But God was in Christ reconciling the world (and us) to Him. Jesus is our bridge between man and God and between man and man.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.   (Romans 5:8-11)

Christ is our reconcil-er. The initiative is His, not ours. He took on our sins, cancelling our debt to Almighty God. Jesus reconciled us to the Father.

In so doing, Jesus, promotes us from needing to be reconciled to being reconcil-ers. We are sent forth into the world to testify to the truth that all, women, men and children are at war with God, but “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses…” What a glorious message and what a privilege is ours.

Paul says the message of reconciliation is “committed” to us. In Greek it is τιθημι (tith-ay-mee) = “to place, make, ordain, purpose”. Thus God has placed the ministry of reconciliation in believers’ hands. He has made us responsible for being the reconciling force in a fragmenting society. We are responsible to bring people to God and to bring them together in unity.

We Are Ambassadors of Christ

When a new President takes office, he appoints a new staff, including Ambassadors to all the nations in diplomatic relationship with America. The role of an ambassador is to speak the policies of the nation and the President. He is a functionary of the nation and the administration. He or she may take the heat in a controversy, but the Ambassador never acts on his or her own.

We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ. We are not given the title to hang on a vanity wall as a bragging right. We are Ambassadors to go about our King’s business. We proclaim the message He gives us. We “rightly divide the Word of God”. We do not exceed our charge by our Lord. We do not go into the world to see the sights, but we go under direction to communicate the message delivered to us by our God.

We speak for God, but God must ratify what we say. His message is an earnest plea to cease their resistance to God’s will and to surrender to His authority.

We are Ambassadors for God seeking peace with the worldly.

Working Together with Christ

But contrary to worldly ambassadors we are not alone. Paul says of himself in his concern for the Corinthians,

“working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”  (2 Corinthians 6:1)

For us that message is a two-edged sword.

We are “Working together” – Christ Jesus shares His work with us. He is in our hearts and at our elbow with guiding words as we minister in His name.

One part of the message is for us. We must not have received the marvelous gifts in vain., i.e. gifts of salvation, of cleansing from sin, of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness and of eternal life in the Presence of our loving Father.

Far too many Christians take salvation for granted and live as if it is a retirement plan. We don’t mess with it until we die. Then we cash in our retirement policy and collect eternal life in blessedness. In the meantime, we live according to the dictates of our own hearts – “God doesn’t mess with me and I try not to sin against Him.” That is receiving the grace of God in vain.

God’s purpose in our salvation is two-fold. The first purpose is to benefit us. The second purpose: we are saved and called to minister to others and to benefit the world.

While Christianity has been around for 2 millennia, and while God is not bound by time, our lives are short. We are bound to time. All we get in this life is “three score and ten and if by manner of strength, four score.” For us and all humans, “time’s a-wasten”! Paul warns us,

“… behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”   (2 Corinthians 6:2)

There was a story that went around when I was at the University of Washington: A visionary student came on campus. He had his life all planed. He was going to become his class leader. Achieve the student body presidency. Clerk for local judge, be elected to Congress, then elected as a senator serve several terms and run for and be elected President of the United States. He was intelligent, good looking, charismatic, had a pleasing voice. Once in the office of the President, he would change the nation and as a result change the world. His life was going exactly as he planned and then he stepped off a curb, and was run over by a beer truck.

Our time is not in our hands. God tells us to redeem the time. We do not know how long we have to tell God’s truths to others. We do not know how long the other person has to hear God’s truths. “Now is the acceptable time!” “Now is the day of salvation!”

We Behave as Believers

Next, Paul instructed the Corinthians, and us, in how to behave as believers, as ambassadors, as ministers of the gospel.

Giving no occasion of stumbling in anything – We must conform our lives to Christ.

And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.   (Romans 12:2)

We must demonstrate to the world, what a Christian life is. Paul lays out the proper results of the believer’s life.

… for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;   (Ephesians 4:12-14)

To reflect Christ to the world, we must emulate Him, so that when others look at us, they see Christ shining through. Our attempts to conform to Jesus give us a personal advantage. We are built up in the faith, so many of the worldly concerns are sloughed off. We know the reality of our faith and become comfortable in its doctrines, so that we are not dissuaded or confused by others’ erroneous ideas of Christianity. We can stand firm in Christ when assailed for our “old fashioned ideas” or “politically incorrect views of life”.

Let me step aside: it is never too late to learn the basics. It is never too late to grow in understanding God. It is never too late to be reminded of what our lives in Christ should be. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and bring to our remembrance all that Jesus taught us. So now “is the acceptable time” to show yourself…

“approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15)

Characteristics of Ministers of Christ

The first characteristic Paul calls for, as a minister of Christ, is Patience. It is a Fruit of the Spirit, i.e. it develops naturally from being rooted in Christ.

  • Patience means to work hard for a long time without seeing the results you desire.
  • It means submitting to authority that God has raised up, despite disagreements.
  • It means continuing to work with, or minister to someone you disagree with.

Paul calls for pureness, i.e. moral uprightness, conforming to the standards of life that God has established. Obeying to the best of our abilities, recognizing when we sin. Then when we do, we confess and receive God’s and other people’s forgiveness.

He calls for long suffering, meaning suffering for your faith without changing in your belief. Paul entreats kindness, treating others with brotherly or sisterly affection, being sensitive to their needs and providing what is within your capability. He challenges us to live in the Holy Spirit, who convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He calls us to love simply, honestly and open-handedly.

Challenges in Ministry

From his own life the Apostle knew that the life Christ calls us to is no easy life. It is not for wimps. There will be severe testings. But for each of these God has glorious compensation.

The world will

  • Dishonor us. But God will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant! Enter into the Joy of Your Lord!”
  • Report us as doing evil. But Jesus, our Messiah “…my righteous servant [will] justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11)
  • Call us liars. “Ye shall know he truth and the truth shall make you free.”
  • Claim we have no reputation and so we are not worthy to be heard. All the reputation we need is with God. In Him we are secure. God wants His message heard. He will open the opportunities to proclaim His truth.
  • Threaten us with death. But God has “… delivered my soul from deathHast thou nodelivered my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?” (Psalms 56:13)
  • Punish us as evil doers, unjustly. “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: Oh deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.” (Psalms 43:1)
  • We will experience great sorrow. But God has“… turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Jehovah my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Psalms 30:11-12)
  • We will lose our financial security. But Jesus says, “… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also” (Matthew 26:20-21)

Holy Spirit Ministers to Us

The Holy Spirit is in this place. He is residing in each of you. His is the Spirit of Truth. He will guide you into all truth. He has gifts, manifestations of the Holy Spirit to give to you. He causes the Fruit of the Spirit to develop in your lives. He is your guide along the path of Jesus. He is your Counselor when you are perplexed and don’t know what to do.

There is not a one of us believers who has to be doubtful, or un-directed or without godly work to do. God has made all the provisions for you to minister in His name. He will not leave you hanging out on your own, but will provide everything you need to serve Him and to minister to other people.

God loves people. He is not willing for any to perish, but to come to the knowledge of Jesus the Christ. He has you as His ambassador to the world. He has given you the message of life to the people in the world. Jesus will accompany you every step of the way.

Therefore, be on the lookout for appointments. Sometimes you will get a question that will be an opportunity you can drive a truck through. Sometimes in the midst of a crisis, you will be able to fill a void with words of hope. Sometimes a long-term relationship will mature into an opportunity to say words in season that will become a turning point.

Never forget you are ministers of reconciliation to the worldly people. You are ambassadors to the alienated. You are God’s people placed where you are for such a time as this!

Prayer for Ministers

Our Lord and our God. You have touched the heart of each one of us. You have removed the stony heart and transplanted a heart of flesh. Give us in addition a desire to serve You each day. Give us a voice of courage to proclaim the bad news to the unbelieving and the good news to believers that are cast down.

You, Father have adopted as your children and made us to be joint heirs with Christ. Give us confidence that we have the resources of Almighty God available to us, as we need them. Give us the boldness to step out into untraveled lands and claim it as Yours. Give us the heart to make friends with the friendless, to help the helpless and to throw a Jesus life Savior to the drowning.

Father, again we give our lives to you to be Yours for eternity.

To the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.



God grant “that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and long-suffering with joy; giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;” (Colossians 1:9-12)

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Praise the Lord!

25 Mar , 2020

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98)

Praising God in Worship

The Pastor had been encouraging the congregation to let loose and shout their praises to God. After the service Aunt Deborah approached the Pastor with a frown.

“Pastor! Why are you encouraging the people to shout and sing so loudly? Do you think God is deaf?” she said disapprovingly.

“No,” he answered, “and I don’t think he is nervous, either.”

Praise and Not Ashamed

David Wilkerson, the author of The Cross and the Switchblade, had a suburban Pentecostal church. They loved the Lord. David’s father was a retired old time Pentecostal preacher. He was visiting, so David asked his father to preach. During the service his father noticed the subdued nature of the worship, because they did not want to offend the neighbors.

When the elder Wilkerson got up to preach, he stood beside the pulpit and took off his muddy shoes. He plunked them down on the pulpit. There was a gasp from the congregation.

He said, “This is not holy! It is a place for proclaiming God holy word, but this is material and temporal. It will get old and need to be replaced.

“You have fallen into complacency, since you moved into the suburbs. God called you to proclaim your love for Him and to worship Him exuberantly. Now we’re going to have a Jericho March, singing in triumph at the Lord’s victory in each of our hearts.

“You on both sides open all the windows, all the way. We’re going to notify the neighbors we are here and we are proud to declare God’s glory!”

What the Bible Says About Praise

Now let’s look at what the Psalmist and God are telling us.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.   (Psalm 98:1)

Psalms 96 also tells is to sing, to create a new song,

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth!

Sing to the Lord, bless his name; Tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalms 96:1-3)

Marvelous works – these are not superior, natural things. They are miraculous, supernatural entrances of יהוה into the affairs of men.

His right hand, and his holy arm, hath wrought salvation – this indicates God has rolled up His sleeve to get us salvation – a real effort of love. It required a two-fold sacrifice;

  • First, God the Son had to sacrifice His position at the right hand of God the Father to be born the God-man, Jesus. Then it required Jesus to grow up into manhood and next, in the prime of life be not only crucified, but also become the sin-bearer for the Elect. Thus, because He bore our sin, Jesus, the Son of God experienced the rejection of His father. He suffered the punishment for our sin – rejection by God and death, once and for all!
  • The other sacrifice required the Father to send His Son into the certain danger of torture and death. But worse, once Jesus was on the cross, and became sin for us, His Righteous Father had to reject Him and turn His back on His Son,

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Contrast the little effort God took to create all the stellar lights.

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;” (Psalm 8:3)

Salvation and Praise

Creation itself was mere finger play.

The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. (Psalm 98:2)

God displayed His acts of salvation publicly for all the world to see, to note and to believe. Paul declared before King Agrippa

“That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”  (Acts 26:23)

“For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26)

“The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)

“And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:20)

God’s Love and Praise

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen he salvation of our God.   (Psalm 98:3)

God has openly revealed His love for His Chosen People. He has made no secret of the way to participate in salvation.

“Shew thy marvelous loving-kindness, O thou that saves by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.” (Psalm 17:7)

Praise with Singing

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!   (Psalm 98:4)

“Make a joyful noise” this is a command to express your love for God exuberantly is declared seven times:

  1. Psalm 66:1 “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:”
  2. Psalm 81:1 “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.”
  3. Psalm 95:1 “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
  4. Psalm 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”
  5. Psalm 98:4 (here) “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”
  6. Psalm 98:6 “With trumpets and sound of cornet, Make a joyful noise before the King, Jehovah.
  7. Psalm 100:1 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”

Joyful–there are two Hebrew words used in these Psalms. In 66:1; 81:1; 95:1&2; and 100:1 they use רָנַן (raw-nan), which means to “emit a strident sound, shout aloud for joy, be greatly joyful, sing aloud for joy”. Psalms 98:4 & 6 use עׇלַז (aw-laz), which means “jump for joy, exult”.

Three Hebrew words are used for “noise”. Psalms 66:1; 81:1 שׇׁאוֹן (shaw-one) = from a root meaning “to rush”, thus “roar as a rushing sound) tumultuous’. Psalms 95:1 קוֹל (kole) = “call aloud, sing, thundering voice, yell”. Psalms 98:4& 6; 100:1 פׇּצַח (paw-tsakh) = “break out in joyful sound, break forth in joy, make a loud noise”.

Putting these words together multiplies their force. The Psalmists used different word combinations; nevertheless, the meanings of all are the same. When we worship יהוה, if we love Him, we should cast self-consciousness aside and shout for joy at the top of our lungs, we should sing His praises exuberantly.

Since the worship in the Temple involved not only music and singing, but also dancing. We must use our bodies to worship, jumping for joy, whirling in delight and any other appropriate movements that express our joy in worshiping our God.

When we worship with un-self-conscious exuberance, we glorify God and proclaim His majesty. Conversely when we are self-conscious, we are wrapped up in self and what people think of us. We are not freely worshiping God in spirit and in truth. A half-truth is a lie.

Praise with Music

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!   (Psalm 98:5)

Music out of full hearts blesses God. He takes pleasure in exuberant, and Loud praise.

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!   (Psalm 98:6)

יהוה is King of kings. We honor Him with boisterous fanfares and with loud cheers and shouted praise. He is not nervous when we boisterously and exuberantly sing at the top of our voices and shout for joy at His Presence.

When Queen Elizabeth goes out in state the people line the streets and cheer wildly, “Long Live the Queen!” A marching band accompanying her plays loudly, “God Save the Queen”, which is the same melody as our National Anthem.

We, in extolling the majesty of Almighty God, El Shaddai, should be as exuberant, or more so.

Praise All Over the Earth

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!   (Psalm 98:7)

This is not “respectful” and quiet, but resounding, even crashing praise! This is not disrespectful, but honoring the greatness of God! Consider what the sound will be when the voices of all the believers, billions of voices, are joined together in praise of their most loved God. That is what will occur around God’s throne, when we will all be standing in His Presence.

After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.   (The Revelation 7:9-12)

8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.   (Psalm 98:8)

Everything in the world praises their Creator.

Jesus is Coming!

9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.   (Psalm 98:9)

When Christ comes again, he will come in glory. His purpose will be to bring everything to the culmination. He will judge impartially and righteously. All people throughout history will stand before Jesus, the perfectly righteous Judge. Each person will get their just deserts.

He will act with equity, but He will not be vindictive. Those who have believed, Jesus will own and acknowledge His blood covering their sins and His righteousness clothing them. He will embrace them and welcome them into His Presence. Those who have not believed, He will see their sin and see their nakedness. He will not acknowledge them, instead He will disown them and cast them out of His Presence.

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”   (The Revelation 19:1-9)

Praise With No End

Do you think the rejoicing in Heaven with all the Cherubim, Seraphim, Archangels, Angels, the patriarchs and the teeming billions of the redeemed in the Church Triumphant is going to be subdued? “Whew, I’m glad that’s over. Now we can rest in peace -z-z-z-z-z-z…” Of course not! The myriad of voices will be raised in glorious praise at the top of their voices. Hallelujah! Praise God! Praise the Father! Praise the Son! Praise the Holy Spirit! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! If the Earth, Sun, Moon and stars had not been rolled up, the resounding praise would have shaken them out of their orbits.

All this is to say exuberance in worship is a blessing to God. Never be inhibited in demonstrating your love for your Father, Your Savior, your Guide, Counselor and Truth Teacher!

Sing your praise! Shout your Praise! Declare your praise! But do not suppress your praise. You are addressing El Shaddai! You are praising Almighty God, Creator of all that exists, who is worthy of all your praise.

Sing Praise to God

Prayer of Praise

You are magnificent, Almighty Father. We worship you with all our hearts, souls, minds and spirits.

Free us from anything that binds us. Any infirmities of our flesh. Any reticence or inhibitions of soul. Free us to be exuberant in our worship and praise.

Let our voices rouse the neighborhood. Draw them in to see what the commotion is.


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Anxious About Nothing

12 Mar , 2020  

Fill your mind with Scriptures; your mouth with prayers, and your hands with helps for those around you in need. When you do, you crowd out the negative thoughts.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.   (Philippians 4:1-9)

Life Changes

When I was in seminary, the class that teaches how to preach was called Homiletics. The Professor gave us a Scripture, and we each had to write and deliver a 15-minute sermon. Upon completion the student sat down. The class then critiqued his writing and his delivery. Next the Professor gave his critique. For our first sermon, Dr. Cook gave us Philippians 4:6-7 as the text.

As I opened to Paul’s letter to the Philippians and read the passage, I realized Ruth and I had lived it! Just months before I entered seminary, while our family was on vacation, one evening when Ruth and I were praying, the Holy Spirit told us that we were going to be involved in a ministry together. God gave us no idea what.

The day I went back to work after vacation, the boss called me into his office, “Ted, you are at liberty to seek other employment.” Our company was closing the Seattle office, but no one in the office was to be retained. I loved that job. The rug was pulled out from under me, but much to my surprise, nothing moved.

I went right home to tell Ruth. She was in the kitchen doing the dishes. “What are you doing home?”

I was smiling when I told her I had lost my job, so she didn’t believe me at first. When I convinced her it was true, she dried her hands, we went into the living room, and knelt down to pray. We affirmed our trust in Jesus, and then laid out all our financial needs. Just as verse 6 says,

… but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And He gave us that peace. It was not an attitude that was normal.

First the shock of painful reality. Then the grief at loss. Then the frantic preparation and search for another job. Tense days and worried sleeping (sort of) nights.

No! We knew that Jesus had something for us. We had peace that surpassed human understanding. I didn’t even look for another job. I was offered the same job with another company – same pay, benefits, company car, but I couldn’t take it. I had to call him back and say that I would not take the job, because Jesus had something else for us.

On my last day of work, I went into our denominational office here in Seattle to ask after a job as a camp counselor or old folks home host couple, any kind of lay person job with the church. Our Conference Minister asked me if I would consider the ministry, going to seminary. I told him no, but he pointed out a seminary that had a ministry to men who had been in business and then decided to pursue the ministry. When he said that the average student was 30 years-old and had a wife and two children, it described me to a T. I took the information and sent for their catalog. When the catalog came it was clear that it was a liberal, unbelieving seminary. That was a downer, but God made it clear that was where we were to go!

God put it all together! That was July 31st. We obtained tenants for our home, stored furniture, packed up and left just 5 weeks later. Just after Labor Day, we were on the road east 3,500 miles to Bangor, Maine.

My sermon in that class was a testimony sermon, emphasizing our trust in God and His provision for us. When it came time for the Professor’s critique, he asked, “Mr. Bradshaw, When you finish Seminary, do you think you will still believe as you do now?”

I was a bit nonplussed at the question, but God gave me the answer, “Well Dr., Cook, if I don’t, I will be wrong!”

Jesus is Faithful

Essentially, what I am saying to you is that God’s word is true. It is something you can found your life and decisions on. You can trust Jesus to be faithful to His Word.

There is a lot more I could tell you, but now let’s dig into this scripture to see what the Holy Spirit has for us.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.   (Philippians 4:4)

“Always” is an operative word. Paul’s standard is to rejoice in good times and in bad times; in sickness and in health; when rich and when poor. Paul and Silas were in a Philippian jail, their backs bruised, torn and bleeding, feet in stocks. He and Silas had to sit up all night, because the floor was too filthy to lay back on. They spent the night singing and praising God.

Rejoicing is a stance of life. Regardless of what occurs in your life, you can rejoice. Consider this: Jesus went through agony in the preparation for crucifixion, with beating, flogging, humiliation, and then crucifixion is an excruciating way to die. Should believers rejoice in Jesus’ horrific death?

Of course!

  • We rejoice that He bore our sins.
  • We rejoice that He won our freedom from condemnation.
  • We rejoice that He paved the way for us to enter into eternal life.

Yes, it is not only appropriate to rejoice, it would be an affront to God if we were to lament.

Paul, who experienced many agonies for Jesus instructed us strongly – he repeated it “Rejoice and again I say “Rejoice!”

What agonies? It was in A.D. 53, Paul and Silas were beaten bloody and thrown into a Philippian prison and spent the night singing praises to Jesus. I suspect many of the Philippian believers, would remember that night, particularly Lydia; and the Jailor, specifically. He and his family accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior that night, because of Paul’s rejoicing in that terrible situation. In A.D. 60, Paul wrote a 2nd letter to the Corinthians citing…

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.   (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

This letter to the Philippians was written when Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting adjudication that would most likely (and did 2 years later) result in execution.

Paul had every reason to live in regret, lament, anxiety. All that was nothing to Him. Instead he wrote and underlined, “Rejoice!”

Life for many of us is uncomfortable, to say the least. And yet, those who are triumphant over the afflictions of this life are able to rejoice in the knowledge that Christ has overcome the world and all its sufferings.

Live Without Anxiety

“Do not be anxious about anything” – What! Are you crazy, Paul? Life without anxiety? You’ve got to be kidding, Paul! You must be talking to the dead. They’re the only ones without anxiety. Right?

Wrong! That is absolutely the way for Christian believers to live! Without anxiety! When we live in Christ, we are confident that…

“all things work together for good to those who are called according to His (God’s) purpose.”   (Romans 8:28)

Anxiety is a sign that a person is not depending upon Jesus. Paul is calling, and I am calling for a radical surrender of your life to Jesus.

Job had that attitude,

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” (Job 13:15)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Babylon had that attitude,

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18)

Jesus had that attitude,

“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”  (Matthew 26:42)

When we realize that we

“… are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  (Colossians 3:3)

… then there is nothing anyone or anything can do to harm us. We belong to God and nothing can change that! No more anxiety!

Prayer and Thanksgiving

“but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” – Our appeal is to God. Everything is in His hands. Actually, that is true whether we recognize it or not. God is Sovereign. He is in control. It is foolish to wrest control from Him. When, however, we surrender to that truth, and live according to His will, we will readily bring everything to Him in prayer. We will appeal to our loving Father for all our needs and let Him sort out our desires.

Then in appropriate politeness we thank him for His provision. Thanking in advance is an act of faith. We are saying to our Father that he is faithful to provide for us and we rely upon Him to do so.

“let your requests be made known to God.” – I liken this to tossing everything up to God and knowing that what is according to His plan for me, He will return. The rest I will right-off as unworthy human desires.

Receive God’s Peace

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – This is where the anxiety is eliminated. Jesus’ gift of peace is that unworldly peace that when everyone around you has logical reasons to panic, you can be a spreader of peace. Everyone who sees your equanimity, your calm, your composure, your self-control, and your poise, will be drawn into your sphere of influence and experience your God-given peace, too.

Paul adds a final touch to his teaching on rejoicing anxiety-free. He encourages us to transform our thinking from the difficulties, hardships and evils of this life, instead fill our minds with upbuilding thoughts.

Think About These Things

“Finally,” – 

  • “whatever is true,” – Truth is reality, but not all reality is visible. God is not visible, but He is true. His truths are the way to live an anxiety-free life.
  • “whatever is honorable,” – anything that honors God is worthy to fill your mind.
  • “whatever is just,” One of the characteristics of the image of God in us is our natural sense of justice. We feel satisfied when we see an injustice righted. If we concentrate on what is just in the world, instead of the injustices, we will keep a blessed frame of mind.
  • “whatever is pure,” – Uncorrupted, wholesome, holy thoughts will be healthy because God blesses that which is pure. So, concentration on pure things gives us a pattern of life that maintains God’s blessings.
  • “whatever is lovely,” – We rarely think of godly things, or even God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit as “lovely”. But Jonathan Edwards did. He was the Colonial Pastor and Theologian who was instrumental in sparking the Great Awakening, a revival that swept the Colonies in the 1740s, creating a revival and a phenomenal turning back to Jesus. He described Jesus as “lovely”; His love for us as ravishing; the pursuit of Jesus as beautiful.
  • “whatever is commendable,” – All godly acts are worthy of honor. They build up the receiver, the giver and honor Almighty God, Who prompted them.
  • “if there is any excellence,” – All those things we think, say and do that the Holy Spirit inspires are supernatural; and therefore, above the human level, i.e. excellent.
  • “if there is anything worthy of praise,” – Of course, our LORD is worthy of praise. The godly works of believers are worthy of praise, not only in the doing, but also in the conception.
  • “think about these things.” Those are things to contemplate.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So, if your mind is not busy, it will dwell on the lowest common denominator – gossip, criticism, judgmental-ism and the like. Instead contemplate:

  • The beauty of Christ,
  • The blessings of His sacrifice,
  • The times He has saved you,
  • The glorious future ahead,
  • Ways to bless others – believer and unbelievers,
  • How to tell others about Christ’s love.

Fill your mind with Scriptures; your mouth with prayers, and your hands with helps for those around you in need. When you do, you crowd out the negative thoughts.

God’s Peace

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Look to Paul for the example to follow in living for Christ:

  • “For me to live is Christ!”  (Philippians 1:21)
  • “Nevertheless, no more do I live, but Christ lives in me.”  (Galatians 2:20)
  • “We have the mind of Christ.”  (1 Corithians 2:16)
  • “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.”  (Romans 8:2)
  • “Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ,”  (Philippians 3:8)

God’s Confidence

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” – This is a bold statement.

Paul was confident in Christ. He knew Who Jesus was – Son of God, very God, Himself – Almighty! Paul believed not only in Christ, but he believed Christ! Paul believed there was a transfer of authority to all believers, when Jesus said,

“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:”  (Matthew 28:18-19)

That giving of authority included Paul, and it included us!

God’s Supply

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – There are two points to make about this verse.

  • God is Omniscient – He knows our needs. He is generous – He will supply everything we need. All we have to do is rely upon Him and take the first step of faith.
  • It is not out of His riches. That would be depleting Christ’s riches. No, it was “according to” His riches. This means that Christ’s riches are the guaranty that we have the resources of Almighty God, our Savior to provide for our needs.

You are Precious to God

My brothers and sisters, you–each one of you–are precious in the sight of your Lord Jesus Christ.

You women are Princesses, each one of you, daughters of God Almighty the Creator of the cosmos. Do you believe that Your Father loves you? Therefore, you not only have His protection throughout life, but you have no reason to be anxious about any need in your life. So, rejoice always, and again I say rejoice!

You men are Princes of The King of Kings and the Lord of lords, the Sovereign of the universe. You have no excuse for anxiety about your future. It is secure in Christ. He knows your needs before you do. He has already made provision for you; therefore, rejoice now and for evermore, and again I say rejoice!

Now repeat with me:

I rejoice in You, my Lord Jesus. I rejoice in Your provision for me! Hallelujah!

Thank You, my Father. I rejoice that You have adopted me as Your child.


I love you My God, Holy Spirit. I rejoice that You have taught me about Jesus.


I rejoice in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.


Prayer for Peace

We are Yours, our God and King. We have given our lives to You. Now, my Lord reveal to us what peace You have for each one in the congregation. Reveal how You are taking the anxiety out of each one’s heart. Reveal the goodness that You are placing in that empty place, filling our minds with the good, the true, the beautiful, the worthy and with joy. Yes, Father give each one of us joy unspeakable and full of glory! To the honor of our Savior, Jesus. Amen

Benediction for Peace

May God

… grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:16-19)

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Praying to Holy Spirit, Our Guide

27 Feb , 2020  

I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.   (John 14:16-17).

These prepositions, “in” and “with”, are significant. Jesus was not waxing poetic. He was being instructive.

  • In” means the Holy Spirit dwells in the spirits of all who believe in Jesus Christ. When we were born again, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to live in us as the earnest of our inheritance.
  • With” means that He is not a passive passenger through your life. He is engaged as much as we allow Him to be. He is the Power of God in residence. We can through our inhibitions restrict His activity in and through us. Conversely, through stepping aside we can watch his power manifest the ministry gifts and office He wants active in our lives.

That means we have to give over control and let Him do what He wants. That’s scary. He is like a powerful wild horse; He can run away with us. But he will never buck us off. He will do far more in and through us than we can imagine, more than we are comfortable with, but far more effective in glorifying God than we could ever do by our inhibited selves.

As we pray, lets tune in to the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to direct our prayers. Let’s release His power to make our prayers effectual and fervent, ascending to God and gladdening His Father’s heart.

Order of Prayers

First, share your concerns, prayer requests, praise reports and offerings of thanks for God’s blessings.

Next, we will pray to release the Holy Spirit, so each one will pray in the power and love of the Spirit for us and those we pray for.

Opening Prayer

Jesus, You taught us to pray. First You set the example of praying fervently to Your Father. You prayed often and long. You taught us that those who worship must worship in Spirit and in truth. So, now we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, and release Him to pray through us.

Prayers of God’s People

Pray as you feel led by the Holy Spirit to pray

Concluding Prayer

Lord Jesus you sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and we acknowledge His ministry among us. Lead us in our prayer life to acknowledge the blessing of the Holy Spirit assisting our prayers.

We offer the prayer that You taught us, Lord Jesus, saying:

The Lord’s Prayer

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