Sunday, September 22, 2019

Without Faith We Won't Receive God's Rewards

Without Faith We Won't Receive God's Rewards 
~ Including Heaven

Evolution or Creation is an eternal decision.

     I was privileged to teach Jean's husband, Wayne, the Plan of Salvation.

     Jean was already a Christian and desired her husband to join her. She hungered for a Christian home in which to raise their three young children.  But Wayne reluctantly deferred making a decision.

     I really liked Wayne and remained close to him.  In fact we became good friends and chess competitors.  This allowed for a number of opportunities for me to share God's wonders. 

     A couple of years after we met he called me and said, "I was baptized last night."

     I was beyond elated and said, "Let me buy you breakfast in the morning and you can tell me all about it."  I was anxious to rejoice with him.

     The waitress brought our coffee and I said, "I am so happy for you. Tell me all about it."

     "I attended a different church Sunday and the minister brilliantly explained how the Bible's miracles could all be explained scientifically."

     My heart sank, "Wayne please give me an example."

     "Well the minister explained how Jesus walked through the wall: He just changed his molecules to the same as the wall."

     Oh, No! I thought. "Wayne what does it take to change your molecules to the same as a wall?"

     He looked stunned.

     I continued, "You and I can't change our molecules to the same as a wall, can we?"  Wayne didn't respond, continuing I said, "He walked through the wall because He is God in the flesh and it was a miracle.  We know that by faith not by science."

     Not to be outdone he asked, "Well can you think of any other miracles that can't be explained by Science?"

     (1) "Friend, Let me read you the story of Lazarus."

Jesus was again deeply moved at these words, and went on to the grave.  It was a cave, and a stone lay in front of it. “Take away the stone,” said Jesus. “But Lord,” said Martha, the dead man’s sister “he has been dead four days. By this time he will be decaying ....”  
“Did I not tell you,” replied Jesus, “that if you believed, you would see the wonder of what God can do?” 
"Then they took the stone away and Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of these people standing here so that they may believe that you have sent me.”
And when he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with grave-clothes and his face muffled with a handkerchief.  “Now unbind him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go home.”
     "Wayne, that was a miracle.  As an added thought just imagine what would have happened if Jesus hadn't specified Lazarus' name but just said, "Come Out!  All the dead would have come back to life."

     He pondered and scratched his ear and asked, "Any others?"

     (2)  Jesus' own resurrection.

"Very early that Sunday morning, the women made their way to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared.  Among them were Mary Magdalene; Joanna; and Mary, Jesus’ mother.  Arriving at the tomb they discovered that the huge stone covering the entrance had been rolled aside, so they went in to look.  But the tomb was empty. The body of Jesus was gone!
They stood there, stunned and perplexed.  Suddenly two men in dazzling white robes shining like lightning appeared above them.  Terrified, the women fell to the ground on their faces. 
The men in white said to them, “Why would you look for the living One in a tomb?  He is not here, for he has risen!  Have you forgotten what he said to you while he was still in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man is destined to be handed over to sinful men to be nailed to a cross, and on the third day he will rise again’?”
All at once they remembered his words.  Leaving the tomb, they went to break the news to the Eleven and to all the others of what they had seen and heard."  (Luke 24:1-8. TPT)
     Jesus was authenticated as dead by the Roman soldier that thrust a spear into his heart.  On the third day His tomb was empty attested to by the Roman Guards, the women at the tomb, Peter and John, and the two angels.  An even stronger proof Jesus rose from the dead is that the Apostles lives were forever changed.  They became powerful proclaimers of the risen Lord ~ to the point that 11 of the 12 Apostles died as martyrs - refusing to deny his resurrection.

     That was a miracle.

     Wayne left to go to work.  I prayed for wisdom of how to help him to have genuine faith and believe in the almighty Creator God.

     We remained the best of friends for over 50 years.  Over those five decades I used every opportunity to answer his objections.  But I failed.  The last few years, sadly, he became frumious.  My last tearful attempt was caustically rejected.

     (3)  The Bible and Creation

     I suspect that some of you would profit by considering just how crucial Faith in the Creator is and that the entire Bible is true.

"Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way." (2 Timothy 3:16, MSG)
     Without Faith we won't receive God's rewards ~ including Heaven.  Read and discover the depth of this eternal decision.

"Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. 2 This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for. 3 Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen."  (Hebrews 11:1-3, TPT)
And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who give all their passion and strength into seeking him."   (Hebrews 11:6 , TPT)
  • Faith is like a window to the unseen aspects of the Creator. (verse 1 above)
  • God spoke the Universe and all of Creation into existence. (verse 3 above)
  • To deny Creation makes it impossible for us to please God. (verse 6 above
  • Without Faith we won't receive God's rewards ~ including Heaven. (verse 6 above)
     Science not only fails to explain Creation, it also fails to understand how the Universe began and/or what holds the Universe together... so it won't collapse.
"For most of us, glue is a simple binding agent that we use to stick things together.  But in the heart of matter, glue takes on a far larger, more active role than the white paste that sticks macaroni to paper.  Before scientists can gain an understanding of the visible matter in our universe—the matter that makes up the 7 billion people on Earth, the stars in the sky and the earth beneath our feet—they will need to finally understand the universal glue that springs from the strong force. A new experiment at Jefferson Lab seeks to do just that." [a]
     Sorry Doubters ~ but the Bible defines what that super glue is that holds the Universe together:
"He existed before anything else, and He (Jesus) holds all creation together."  (Colossians 1:17, NLT)
     Scientists have also theorized that the Universe is not stationary ... rather it is expanding.
"Since the time of Hubble we have observed millions of galaxies with better equipment and verified his results.  With the exception of a small handful of galaxies close to us, every galaxy is moving away from us.

And in fact, the farther away a galaxy is the faster it is moving away from us.  This fits in very well with Einstein's predictions.  The galaxies seem to be receding from us because the entire universe is getting larger.  The space in between the galaxies is stretching!  And the farther away a galaxy is the more space there is to stretch so the faster the galaxy appears to move away from us.

Over the past half-century astronomers have observed many other facts about the universe that all point to the fact that the universe is expanding.  While a very inventive person might be able to explain away one or at most two of these discoveries, the expansion of the universe is the only theory that can explain all of them at once.  And with each passing year the evidence piles up higher!" [b]
     So Science is finally deducing what the Bible has said for nearly 2,000 years:
"The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word." (Hebrews 1:3, TPT)
     The late Christian apologist Ray Stedman wrote:
"That is an amazing statement. It is put in the present tense, saying that he is the One who is keeping things going right now. ...(Scientists) talk about a kind of cosmic glue that holds things together. Isn't it fascinating that here in the Word of God you have that exact kind of terminology used of Jesus! If you want a name for the force that holds the universe together it is very simple: His name is Jesus. He sustains the universe by his powerful word."
     Stedman sums it up:
"That is not only true of the physical universe, including our bodies and all that we are, but it is true of all the other forces and powers in the universe--physical, psychological, social, spiritual, whatever; he is in charge of them all." [c]
     (4)  The Creator did not make any blunders.

     Creation scoffers rationalize: "The supposed intelligent design of a Creator is full of blunders and screw ups.  Obviously no Intelligent Designer would have goofed so badly."

     (5)  ZEBRAS

     These scoffers snicker mockingly at the belief that Zebras were created.  "This is a big mistake by a creator.  Painting Zebras with black and white stripes makes them easily vulnerable to predators. It is unimaginable that any exist."

     To the contrary the National Geographic takes issue.  I watched a video the other night about Zebras.  Doubters bow your heads in shame.  The National Geographic says, "For Zebras on the Run, Stripes May Provide Protection.  The theory known as "motion dazzle" suggests that dramatically patterned animals in motion can confuse, and elude, their predators."

Watch the video and see zebras' motion dazzle.

     In addition Zebras run in large herds and will group attack a predator such as a lion.

     It is crystal clear the Creator made no
foozle in the creation of Zebras.

     (6)  Our Human Bodies.

     Maybe the greatest proof of Creation is our human bodies.  Since our bodies have infinite components, let's limit this consideration to the human brain... itself.

     (7)  The Brain

     Brain studies reveal:
"An adult brain weighs about 3 pounds.  About 75 percent of the brain is made up of water.  This means that dehydration, even in small amounts, can have a negative effect on the brain functions.  The human brain will grow three times its size in the first year of life. It continues to grow until you’re about 18 years old.  The human brain begins to lose some memory abilities as well as some cognitive skills by your late 20s.  The human brain gets smaller as we get older. This usually happens sometime after middle age.  Your brain uses 20 percent of the oxygen and blood in your body." [d]
     Now let's dig deeply into the Brain itself.  

     (8)  The Hypothalamus Gland

     The Hypothalamus Gland is an astounding tiny brain gland whose complexity absolutely proves Creation.

     I challenge any cynic to explain how the hypothalamus, surrounded by bones and not having any wiring, can control anything.  After all, this mostly-bone-surrounded gland functions in so many vast ways science can't even compute them.

     Here are a few of its functions:

"The hypothalamus' main role is to keep the body in homeostasis as much as possible.
Homeostasis means a healthful, balanced bodily state.  The body is always trying to achieve this balance.  Feelings of hunger, for example, are the brain's way of letting its owner know that they need more nutrients to achieve homeostasis. 
The hypothalamus acts as the connector between the endocrine and nervous systems to achieve this.  It plays a part in many essential functions of the body such as:
  • body temperature
  • thirst
  • appetite and weight control
  • emotions
  • sleep cycles
  • sex drive
  • childbirth
  • blood pressure and heart rate
  • production of digestive juices
  • balancing bodily fluids
As different systems and parts of the body send signals to the brain, they alert the hypothalamus to any unbalanced factors that need addressing.  The hypothalamus then responds by releasing the right hormones into the bloodstream to balance the body. 
One example of this is the remarkable ability of a human being to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6 °Fahrenheit (ºF). 
If the hypothalamus receives a signal that the internal temperature is too high, it will tell the body to sweat.  If it receives the signal that the temperature is too cold, the body will create its own heat by shivering."

"Hormones of the hypothalamus:

To maintain homeostasis, the hypothalamus is responsible for creating or controlling many hormones in the body.  The hypothalamus works with the pituitary gland, which makes and sends other important hormones around the body.

Together, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland control many of the glands that produce hormones of the body, called the endocrine system.  This includes the adrenal cortex, gonads, and thyroid.

Hormones secreted by the hypothalamus include:
  • antidiuretic hormone, which increases how much water is absorbed into the blood by the kidneys corticotropin-releasing hormone, which helps regulate metabolism and immune response by working with the pituitary gland and adrenal gland to release certain steroids gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which instructs the pituitary gland to release more hormones that keep the sexual organs working 
  • oxytocin, a hormone involved in several processes, including the release of a mother's breast milk, moderating body temperature, and regulating sleep cycles prolactin-controlling hormones, which tell the pituitary gland to either start or stop breast milk production in lactating mothers thyrotropin-releasing hormone activates the thyroid, which releases the hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and developmental growth
The hypothalamus also directly influences growth hormones. It commands the pituitary gland to either increase or decrease their presence in the body, which is essential for both growing children and fully developed adults." [e]
     In conclusion I repeat:

     I challenge any scoffer to explain how the hypothalamus, evolved into one of the most complex glands when it is surrounded by bones and not having any wiring.  Who programmed the hypothalamus to control more than a 100 functions?  Who inserted a microchip into the hypothalamus?  Which electrician connected wires to the hypothalamus?  It is such an obvious proof of an intelligent designing Creator that no truly honest person can dispute.

     For your Eternal sake remember these proofs of a Creator and the absolute truthfulness of the entire Bible.

(1)  The Resurrection of Decaying Lazarus.
(2)  Jesus' Own Resurrection.
(3)  The Bible and Creation.
(4)  The Creator Did Not Make Any Blunders.
(5)   Zebras.
(6)  The Human Body.
(7)  The Brain.
(8)  The Hypothalamus Gland
"Look at the splendor of your skies,
your creative genius glowing in the heavens.
When I gaze at your moon and your stars,
mounted like jewels in their settings,
I know you are the fascinating artist who fashioned it all!" 
(Psalms 8:3, TPT)
Song, "Creation Sings" by Stuart Townend:


[d] Excerpted from:

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Whole World Sings Praises To The Lord -2

The Whole World Sings Praises To The Lord

Part 2

     As of this writing the Gospel of Jesus has been translated into more than 1,534 languages. When the Good News of Jesus is read millions of believers worldwide sing praises to our indescribably-great God. Supreme exaltation to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "Now sing praises to God! Every kingdom on earth, sing to the Lord!" Jesus, when challenged to stop the praise singing rejoiced: “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” 

For an awesome spiritual mountain top experience 
feast on praise singing in several Oceania countries:

"All The Earth"

"Surround Me Oh Lord"

"We Believe"

(a large state in Northern India)
"He Hideth My Soul"

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Monday, September 9, 2019

I'm Just A Worm

I'm Just A Worm

     She called and made an appointment for counseling.  When she hadn't arrived I feared she wasn't going to show.  From my office in the back of the Church I walked through the dark auditorium and asked the church secretary if Martha had cancelled.

     "O' No! She's already here, maybe she's in the bathroom."

     So I walked back through the sanctuary towards my office.   I paused.  Was I hearing something in the dark?   Listening closely I heard movement in the third row of pews.   I went over to check it out.  That's when I saw her.  She was on her knees with something in her hand.   It looked like a strange-shaped knife.

     "Martha is that you?"  She nodded and raised herself to the pew.  I could see she'd been crying.   I asked if she was here for counseling.  She nodded and followed me to my office.

     Martha was a petite middle-aged brunette with a flawless complexion.  She had warm brown eyes but mostly kept her head down looking at the carpet.  Was she afraid?  Abused?  Hurt?  Depressed? Appearance wise she could have been a package of all.

     "How might I help you Martha?"

     "I don't know if you can... I... I... shouldn't have bothered you."

     "Well lets talk a bit. Maybe that will help.  Has someone hurt you Martha?"

     "I shouldn't talk about it. Maybe I just better leave."

     I explained how our meeting was completely confidential.   "No one will learn anything from my lips.  In 30 years of counseling I've never violated that trust.  Please feel you're fully protected and safe here."

     Opening my hands I gestured for her to begin.

     "This is really difficult because I don't want to speak against my husband.  But he is so cruel and judgemental.  We watched Phyllis come forward Sunday.   I saw her tears, and aching heart as she said, "I have sinned against my Lord and God."

     As soon as we got into the car he arrogantly mocked her, "She wasn't sincere.  She didn't repent.  Everybody could see she's just a rotten hypocrite."

     Martha whispered, "Oh, didn't you see how she looked.   She was so overwhelmed with guilt.  You could hear it in her voice.  I wanted to give her a big hug, wipe away her tears and tell her God loved her."   "Yea, sure," he answered, you are such a wuss... a sucker for any thing."

     "I burst out crying", she said.  "He was furious at me that I couldn't see through her sham.   I just ached and ached and silently wept."

     "You said he was cruel and judgemental,"  I said.   "Can you tell me of any other incidents?"

     She pondered and said, "Well the porch is one."

     "The porch? Tell me what you mean."

     "A few years ago the front porch started sagging on one end and when I walked on it I was afraid it might cave in and I'd get hurt."


     "I mentioned it to him and he exploded at me."

     "About what?"

     She began weeping so much it was quite a while before she got composed enough to continue.  "He... he... cussed me out and said, 'You're always complaining.  And I'm going to put a stop to it.  Do you know how?'"


     "I will never lay one finger on that porch again.  It can rot for all I care."

     "Did he later apologize and fix the porch?"

     "O' No - he never apologizes about anything.  And now the porch has fallen down... it can't be used.  All I can do is come and go by the back door."

     I grew quiet and she wiped her eyes.  I thought, Dear Lord what do you want me to say?  I said, "Martha I want to pray about this and then meet with you again - how about next week?"

     "OK.  But if he knows I've told you about him he'll erupt again."

     "Martha I'm going to call Jacob and tell him I have an urgent matter to discuss with him.  I will not mention your name I promise.  He's a member here and I'll do my best to persuade him to make some changes."

     Curious I asked, "Martha if you don't mind me asking what were you doing in the sanctuary.  You were down on your knees with something sharp in your hand?"

     Now the tears really cascaded.  "I... I... was scraping gum off of the underside of the pews."

     Scraping gum off of the underside of the pews!  Oh what a tortured soul.  Her hurt made me sick to my stomach.  Catharsis to the max.  She felt so belittled and bruised by her husband.

     She said, "Doesn't the Bible say 'I'm a worm of a man?"

     "That's me.  I need to do something to get God to forgive me... if He will. I feel so dirty."

     I had learned long ago to use a desk chair with rollers.  I slowly rolled near her and gently encouraged her downtrodden soul.

     "Martha, the Lord died so each of us worms could be saved.  Remember what the Father did when he saw his prodigal son on the far off road?  He ran to him and hugged and hugged him more.  God's arms want to embrace you.  He'll never leave you."  Then I prayed with her.  She left with a tiny glimpse of hope in her heart.

     Jacob made every excuse in the book about why he couldn't come and meet with me.   "After all Preacher ~ I work 60 hours a week running my business - plus doing all the paperwork." 

     Two more phone calls later persistence paid off and he said, "All right - let's do it right after church Sunday."

     I closed the door and sat across from him.

     "Jacob, did you see Phyllis come forward and repent?"  He nodded.

     "How did that impact you?"

     "I didn't believe her."

     "Jacob, aren't we supposed to forgive anyone who confesses?"

     "Not if they're a hypocrite.  She was so disgusting and insincere."

     "But Jacob, she's a revitalized changed woman now.  The Angels are even rejoicing for the lost lamb who has been found."

     "She won't last. Just wait. You'll see her do it again."

     "Aren't you aware of what God promises when we repent?"

     "Mark my words she's a loser.  She'll never change no matter how many times she says so."

     "Brother, I'm going to read you a Scripture."

     "For this is what the high and majestic one says, the one who fills the eternal realm with glory, whose name is Holy.  “I dwell in high and holy places but also with the bruised and lowly in spirit, those who are humble and quick to repent.   I dwell with them to revive the spirit of the humble, to revive the heart of those who are broken over their sin." (Isaiah 57:15, TPT)
     "Jacob you're arguing with God.  This passage says that revival comes from God.  We don't have the option or position to dispute anything the Lord says.   I challenge you to repent and beg for forgiveness."

     Jacob grew silent.  Like a stone.  He never shed a tear or anything close to it and then left.  He chose a different remedy.  Instead of coming forward in repentance - he wrote a letter to the church leaders, "I said some gruff things about someone in the church.  Sorry."

      How I wish he would have confessed publicly and then come for counseling.  But he didn't.

     About a year later he was working on a dump truck with the bed tipped clear up.  He failed to put a block of wood under it for safety.  When it collapsed he was crushed to death.

     Martha continued in counseling until she realized she didn't need to carry her own heavy baggage anymore.  There was Someone who would lighten her load.

     "Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30, MSG.)
Matthew West - "Nobody":

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Coffee With An Angel

Coffee With An Angel

     I never saw her come in.  Why had she sat so close?  Couldn't she see I needed privacy?  What if he called right now?

      I was on edge, to say the least.  I had survived one cancer already but my doctor said "I don't like the looks of this, I'm going to biopsy it... I'll call you Wednesday after 3:00.  My normal optimistic faith had hidden somewhere in a pile of shattered nerves. 

     I had chosen this Barnes & Noble coffee shop to await his call.
Dreading the phone call I was
nesting in a remote corner.  The normal clamor was absent.  There were only a handful of customers.  Quiet.  Private. 

     Eyes closed I was praying.  That must have been when she sat next to me.  I blinked two or three times when I noticed she had two thick books with Science titles that I couldn't hope to pronounce.

     "Looks like you're taking some tough courses," I ventured.  "No, I'm not taking classes... they just looked interesting."

     To this Einstein I jested, "Well I only completed kindergarten so I doubt I can help you."  Maybe she'll get the hint and move.

      Sweetly she demurred, "That's not why I'm here."

      My phone vibrated and I untangled it from my pocket.  It was the doctor, "The biopsy shows it is cancer.  You'll need to..." the rest of his words wafted to nothingness.  It was cancer.  Doctors are always in a hurry.  I must say something the lump in my throat muted my voice.  Struggling to respond our eyes met.  Deep blue penetrating eyes as her calming soft voice whispered, "It'll be
OK.  All will be fine."

      The doctor suggested, "It'd be best to bring your wife.  There are options."  The appointment made, I feebly thanked him.

      "It'll be OK. All will be fine," she repeated.  Why would anyone say that?  How could she predict that?  Who was this enchanting stranger anyway?

      I stood and grabbed a tissue to wipe tears.  I sat down and asked, "Why did you say that?  How could you know..." But I was speaking to ... to... the air.  Silence.

      She was gone.  The huge books were gone.  C'mon, no one could disappear like that.  "Did you see where she went," I asked the barista.

      "Who do you mean?  I haven't seen anyone."

      Days turned into weeks.  Finally we sat in his soft brown leather chairs and heard, "The more I've studied the biopsy you are going to be just fine."  He turned to my wife, "turns out the biopsy shows it is not malignant." But I didn't hear anymore.

      Drifting away in my thoughts I recalled a coffee shop, scientific books, heavenly blue eyes and soft sweet, assuring words, "It'll be OK.  All will be fine."

      Then I recalled, "Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it." (Hebrews 13:2, TLB)

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