The famous hymn writer Ira Sankey was once visiting someone living in the slums. When he was done and was on his walk home, he got to talk to a little girl who was sitting on the steps of a dilapidated shack. “Are you living here?” Sankey asked her. “I do,” the girl answered with a happy smile, “It’s not very nice here, but my father is building a new house for us over the hills.”| A new house over the hills? A beautiful thought came to Ira as he realized that on this earth we all live in the slums, spiritually speaking, but soon we too will move to our new house, just over the hills. The conversation served as the inspiration for one of Ira’s famous hymns, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop.” “I’m satisfied with just a cottage here below, A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransom will shine, I want a gold one that’s silver lined. I’veContinue reading »

Today, in the midst of Advent, the Roman Catholic Church remembers Samson in her readings. He is remembered because he began the liberation of Israel from the power of the Philistines (Judges 13:5), he prepared the way for the Davidic Kingship which began the line of the Messiah, and he was seen as a Hero of Faith by the letter to the Hebrews (11:32). Samson stood in the historical backdrop of Jesus Christ, 1000 years before the birth of Our Savior. The name Samson invokes images of heroic adventure, surpassing power, and invincible strength. Because of his name, which derives from the Hebrew word for “sun”, many have thought of him as a figure of folk tales, a myth from the early history of Israel, or an embellished memory of a local strong man. How unfortunate are those who do not see the rich theology in the narratives which speak of this man or the hand of God which moved him. His name, literally meaning “power of the sun”, showsContinue reading »

Better to enter into life maimed or crippled than to be thrown with two hands or feet into endless fire! – Matthew 18:8 With these words, Jesus forever dignified those who suffer with disabilities, handicaps, or challenges. To modern ear, these words which advocate for the value of the disabled are familiar. Many modern groups speak for the rights of the most vulnerable among us. However, this was not always the way society thought. Jesus lived in the First Century, a time when many religions were idolatrous and superstitious. What modern people call “mythology” was seen as true religions by the ancient peoples. Part of these mythic religions, often, was a worship of the perfect physical form. This was extended to the belief that one could not enter into paradise or heaven if the body was not intact. To mutilate a body was to deny its entry into the religion’s “heaven”. This was the reason for the outrage during the Trojan War, when Achilles dragged Hector’s defeated and lifeless bodyContinue reading »

“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” -Mark 13:31, Matthew 24:35, Luke 21:33 With these words Jesus established the enduring authority of the Christian faith. Upon these words rests the authority of the Apostolic community and the families of Christian religions that have emerged through the centuries. It is the words of Jesus Christ which form the powerful foundation of belief systems which have lasted over 2000 years.These are words which were validated by the atoning death on the Cross which He endured for us. These words find new life in the Resurrection, in which the Kingdom of God was now opened to us by the breaking of the power of Sin and Death. He paid the price for our sins, redeeming us now and forever in the eyes of God. His words are eternal as are the effects of the Cross and Resurrection, and is our Redemption. Politicians have authority which are attributed by society. The wealth and power which they seek areContinue reading »

The central point of the Christian faith is Jesus – crucified for our sins, raised from the dead, our gateway to God. The Bible says to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) not on the Catholics or the Baptists or Methodists and the perceived error of their doctrines compared our personal denomination. Let’s wake up and see this for what it is, just another smoke screen from Satan to keep us running in circles chasing “truth” while the world is going to Hell! When we compare ourselves to others, and find them lacking in our sight we are doing exactly what got us kicked out of the garden in the first place! God gave Adam and Eve everything good, everything pure, including their undefiled hearts. And what defiles our hearts? Evil. They had no knowledge of evil, only good. Until the serpent came along, convinced Eve he was her new BFF and said, “Hey, Eve, you know God is just holding outContinue reading »

Isaiah 1:18 (New Living Translation) “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. We all sinned; every woman, man and child. We have no way to save ourselves, which is why God had a plan. He knew that Adam and Eve would commit sin, causing a domino effect on all people. Many years later, the great plan was to send His Son, Jesus Christ to live a life of purity and show God’s Kingdom on earth…to give HOPE to people who desperately need it. Because we have no way of saving ourselves from sin, Jesus’ precious shedding blood can only cleanse us. No good works, not attending a church service every Sunday or special event. It all came down to this: Jesus Christ died not only for our sins but also to have a deep relationship with us. It’s like going toContinue reading »

A good friend recently passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He and his family are Christians, but some of his dearest friends are not. During his last days, when he knew his time was short, this weighed heavily on his mind, the question of eternity – eternity separated from God, eternal death “where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:48) Our pastor spoke about this as he gave his message at the memorial service. He told how this man had shared with him his concerns and the names of those on his heart. Pastor said, “Some of them are here, and I could call names, but I won’t.” At the close of the service, Pastor made a passionate plea to those who knew they were not right with God, speaking of this man’s dying wish that they would come to know Christ. He asked for those to make a bold statement and stand up as witnesses to theirContinue reading »

I stumbled across a song written by a performer known for his comedic songs. Ray Stevens wrote a song about another singer and called it I Need Your Help Barry Manilow. Here are some of the words: I need your help Barry Manilow I’m miserable and I don’t know what to do Sing me a song, sing it sad and low No one knows how to suffer quite like you I need your help, Barry Manilow I’m all alone and sitting on a shelf Sing me a song, sing it sad and low I feel like feeling sorry for myself I need your help, Barry Manilow Your songs can really comfort the unlucky Sing me a song, sing it sad and low I wish I didn’t have to feel so yucky!!! I heard a saying once, “Some days you eat bear; some days the bear eats you. (Maybe in ancient times, it would have been a dinosaur instead of a bear.) It’s the days when the dinosaur eats you whenContinue reading »

Ephesians 2:3-5 (KJV) “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). That means that our sins have caused a separation between us and God (Isaiah 59:2) and the result is death (Rom. 6:23) and wrath (Eph. 2:3). The only way to be saved from the wrath of God is to be saved from it by having faith in Jesus Christ. (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:1) Transformation literally means “to have a form altered.” This is a radical change from the inside out. We can only achieve this state of “metamorphosis “byContinue reading »

Be Strong in the Spirit We are nothing without God, but through the Holy Spirit we can do all things. Romans 5:5 (NKJV) “5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” John 20:21-22 (NKJV) “21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Why did Jesus breathe on His disciples? While Jesus was still with the disciples, the disciple had a limited measure of the Holy Spirit but after the resurrection Jesus gave them the full Holy Spirit. So they could be empowered to do the things that needed to be done. They received the Holy Spirit to prepare them for the full baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. For receiving the Holy Spirit is something differentContinue reading »

I have heard it said that the first prayer God will hear from anyone is the prayer of repentance – a sinner acknowledging his sin and turning from it, and confessing the need for a savior who is Jesus Christ. But I cannot reconcile that with what I know about God. We know God loves us (John 3:16, For God so loved the world, emphasis mine). He sent Jesus to die for our sin and Peter tells us, “God is not slow in keeping His promise,” he wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter :9). I think saying that God won’t hear you until you repent makes Him sound cold and remote, and He is anything but cold and remote. Jesus is my best friend. That doesn’t seem like my friend, Jesus. He answered the prayer of the Gentile woman who asked for a miracle for her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). God’s love and mercy are never more apparent than when we are at our lowest – scared, alone, desperate. It isContinue reading »