Casual

She described her boyfriend as casual. He was shocked and disappointed. In his mind, he had been relaxed and willing to defer emotionally to her feelings which, if he were totally honest, could be described as over-the-top.

Casual. Really? She might as well have said, lethargic or indolent. Why was he so upset by this, he wondered? And then he remembered, it was the Bible quote from the Book of Revelation,  “I know what you have done, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. But since you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I’m going to spit you out of my mouth.” He shuddered at the recollection. Have I become lukewarm he wondered? via Daily Prompt: Casual

After Easter

After Easter

Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does the question sort of haunt you, make you curious or seem impossible? Then take time to read this booklet, “After Easter: How Christ’s Resurrection Changed Everything”

Small in size, this booklet, which includes the entire Gospel of John from the New Testament, packs a powerful punch with easy to follow narrative coupled with Bible verses to facilitate the reader’s understanding while answering most questions regarding the resurrection of Christ. Did Jesus walk out of his tomb after being dead three days? Reading “After Easter” will answer that question without long paragraphs filled with theological wanderings. The writers seem determined to briefly and clearly tell the tale of His death and resurrection which amount to three days that changed the course of history.

Not only did Jesus walk away from his grave clothes but in so doing, he opened the door for the forgiveness of the sins of the world and a pathway into eternal life. As the writers take us step by step from his birth to the eternally planned death, burial and resurrection, we see the building blocks of God’s magnificent and costly plan of salvation, offered to all of mankind. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we may enter an eternal destination which leads to perfection with God.

Read this book to answer resurrection-related questions that may have you curious, concerned or perplexed. And keep in mind the Gospel of John is included as a bonus.

The Road to Emmaus

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CARVAGGIO: SUPPER AT EMMAUS (1601)


Luke 24:19-32  ~New Living Translation (NLT)


“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Edifice Complex

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That the Christians in the apostolic age erected special houses of worship is out of the question, even on account of their persecution by Jews and Gentiles, to say nothing of their general poverty; and the transition of a whole synagogue to the new faith was no doubt very rare. As the Saviour of the world was born in a stable, and ascended to heaven from a mountain, so his apostles and their successors down to the third century, preached in the streets, the markets, on mountains, in ships, sepulchres, eaves, and deserts, and in the homes of their converts. But how many thousands of costly churches and chapels have since been built and are constantly being built in all parts of the world to the honor of the crucified Redeemer, who in the days of his humiliation had no place of his own to rest his head!  ~Philip Schaff, nineteenth century American church historian and theologian

The Letter To Rome

Why all this stress on behavior? Because, as I think you have realized, the present time is of the highest importance—it is time to wake up to reality. Every day brings God’s salvation nearer.

The night is nearly over; the day has almost downed. Let us therefore fling away the things that men do in the dark; let us arm ourselves for the fight of the day! Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the “delights” of getting drunk or playing with sex, nor yet in quarreling or jealousies. Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling.

J.B. Phillips Translation; Book of Romans, Chapter 13:11-14

Flourishing Faith

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“May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace” 2 Thess. 1:2

The room was filled with people eager to hear the pastor’s message. His charismatic personality and wit always carried his listeners easily through each sermon. Although not challenged, his flock was certainly entertained. Randolph was very popular.

The sermon, this morning would be different, challenging both for him and his flock. God had penetrated his otherwise charming manner in his prayers and stripped him of all pretense. It was time to share the words of God as that…Words of God!

“My friends we will forego all preliminaries this morning,” he began, “God wants to speak to us from His Word. He wants to remove all distractions so turn off all cell phones, tablets or anything else that rings, vibrates or gets your attention. Yes, I’m not fooling, turn them OFF. I’ll wait.”

“If you have a Bible, turn to 2 Thessalonians. If not, close your eyes and listen carefully as God speaks to us through this portion of His Holy Scripture.”

Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER TWO

Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

Randolph paused here, looking up from his Bible. He refrained from filling the silence with his usual light-hearted anecdotes. Today was different for him…for them. God was speaking today. He was changing lives, shattering strongholds, encouraging hearts. God’s Holy Spirit seemed tangible this morning.

Randolph said, “Come to the altar, friends. Let’s pray together and allow God to strip away our facades. Let’s wrestle with the spiritual forces of darkness as the body of Christ.” He turned and knelt. Soon the altar was full. A river of tears followed.

It’s Not About Me

"If you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave"  Mark 10:44

A.W. Tozer:  It would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it “life” and “self,” or as we would say, the self-life. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness; the words gain and profit suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is, in the end, to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the only effective way to destroy this foe: It is by the cross. “Let him take up his cross, and follow me” ~Matthew 16:24

There is an old saying aimed at a strong willed, take-control person that goes like this: “Subtlety is not his strong suit!” which means they are anything but subtle. In the Christian realm, we may be forced to say, “Servanthood is not our strong suit!”

Growing up we are encouraged to find our career, determine what we want to be, focus on your desires and work to bring them into reality. We admire the person who came from an ordinary income life and worked hard to accumulate wealth and power.  Christianity is not exempt…we flock to conferences to hear special speakers or singers, paying millions of dollars annually to further elevate their status as “celebrities.” Surely if Jesus were among us today He could command countless millions of dollars in product endorsements, books, speeches and website sales. He would be FAMOUS!

There is one fatal flaw to our fawning over famous, influential people; a slight bump in the otherwise smooth highway to idolizing people–God forbids it and warns of the heretical consequences to admiring (worshiping) anyone other than God. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).

No other gods…like money, power, fame, education, degrees, talents, and our own accomplishments. We may not outright reject God in favor of our wealth and financial security but we certainly strongly admire them. You may be thinking smugly, “I have no fame or untold wealth so I’m doing fine. God and I have a good relationship. He’s given me gifts that I use for the church which proves I’m just fine.

Shining His light into those hidden “self” corners of my life reveals my desire for accolades, assurance of my importance, self-satisfaction of my Christian standing and an impressive list of financial contributions (tax exempt of course).  Is there something about being a servant in the list of accomplishments?

A missionary was talking to a group of Christians who indicated their interest in serving God as missionaries. After sharing various stories of challenge and deprivation he asked two questions: “How many of you would sign up to move to a small village in a remote area of the world, living as the natives do, helping them as you share the Gospel? Please raise your hands.” Every hand enthusiastically raised! Then he asked, “Now, how many would be willing to move to that village and spend the rest of your life there if no one else knew?” Instead of hands shooting into the air, there was shock and silence. God had shined His light to expose their secret, self-serving desires. Not evil in our way of thinking but mostly selfish. In an instant the group went from servants to self-serving. They knew that recognition was an important part of their desire. There were tears.

Mark 10:42-45  So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Does this description sound like Christian celebrities which includes famous pastors and teachers who travel the world, have mega-churches and millions in book revenues? Clearly it seems not. Maybe we should get together and run them out of town! But first let’s get the giant Sequoia log out of our own eye and ask this question: Does this section of Scripture sound like me? Sudden silence as His light illuminates our hidden desires.

Matthew 23:11-12  The only ‘superior’ among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.

While in college a young man found Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was enthused about newly discovered eternal life and wanted to leave school to go everywhere sharing the Gospel. God said, “Stay and get your degree.” Reluctantly he obeyed. On graduation day he prayed, “Ok, Lord, now where can I go to serve you?” God replied, “Get your master’s degree.” After wrestling with disappointment he remained in school and graduated two years later with a Master’s Degree.

“Now where can I go spread the gospel, Lord?” he asked. God’s reply was, “I want you to get your PhD!” He was crushed and disappointed but still wanted to follow God’s leading. Back to school for three years until he graduated with a PhD. Having no idea why God wanted him armed with this highest degree, he soon found an opening as Athletic Director in an Oregon college.

“Then I understood why God wanted me to take that path,” he said. “In our weekly meetings many of the professors would share their frustration with student attitudes and problems. They had no idea how to help. It was then that I would stand and say, as department head, “The only sure answer is Jesus Christ!” This was met with surprise, shock and condescension. My stand also shined the light on other Christians who found themselves forced to agree, taking their stand as well.

“My PhD enabled me to become a servant.”