Friday, December 21, 2012

RAPTURE SCENARIO

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." - 1 Thessalonians 4:16

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Jesus steps down off His throne (Wow!) - "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven," - and midway down to us (as our daily routine rolls on) Jesus calls in a strong, firm, loud, but not deafening voice to all True Believers......."Come Forth!"

This phrase would not only mean "to come out of" but it would have a "be ye transformed into my (Christ's) likeness" meaning to it also.  His words transform all True Believers dead and alive to their eternal bodies.

Then, possibly the Archangel Gabriel - "with the voice of the archangel" - the order is given, "The dead in Christ shall rise first!" (Gabriel acts as an proclaimer and overseer and usher, if you will).

Then the trumpet sounds - "and with the trumpet call of God" - and this signifies those who remain now may follow those who rose first.

So, all True Believers who are transformed at the initial command of Jesus, see each other in their eternal bodies.  Then those that were alive on earth but who are now transformed watch as those that were dead in body who are already transformed too, now rise first to meet Christ - "we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep." (v.15).  Then at the trumpet call those that remain follow to meet Jesus and those that preceded us in the middle of the air - "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (v.17).

*Perhaps this scenario, eh? I'm just elated that my Savior loved me to the extent He did and I get to share my love for Him and my love for others now and later with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SHARE TIME - A PERSONAL STRUGGLE

Recently there have been certain people in this world that are allowing me to see a different side of myself.  There are those in my private life and especially in the public eye that obviously don't know Jesus Christ as their personal Messiah and both are pushing my buttons to the point where I desire to say - "When I get to heaven I am going to let out the biggest - 'I told you so' - anybody ever heard, in your general direction."

A check in my spirit by The Holy Spirit confirms to me that my emotional knee-jerk reaction is understandable BUT not the correct one.  The Holy Spirit then impressed upon me that by the time I am meeting Jesus in the air with other Believers (Rapture reference) that this "I told you so" attitude/spirit will not be the pervasive one toward the still-then earth-bound unbelievers.  No, the atmosphere of heaven toward them will be more inclined toward woe (for what is coming on the world and it's inhabitants next) and continued prayer that these friends and family left behind will realize what has happened.  I find support for these two views in heaven by observing all the warnings/woes in Revelation from God to mankind and the compassionate nature of Jesus that none should perish, but all come to the saving knowledge that He provided (2 Peter 3:9).  In addition, The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said, "The right to say, 'I told you so is all mine [God's].  Leave that one to me."  I said, "Yes, Holy Spirit.  I hear that loud and clear."

Me?  I am finding that with these times and circumstances, nationally and personally, I am beginning to get edgy and quick to putting on my fighting gloves.  I might not pull them out right then and there, but mentally I have "thrown some heavy punches" toward those that I thought just don't get it!  This is the incorrect mindset.  One's thoughts leads to actions and I need to have the right thoughts - God's thoughts and perspectives on matters - already in my head so I can snuff out the human reaction to things and bring forth the Spirit-Man reaction to things.

It all starts in the mind - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2   I am work in progress - He's still working on me!

Monday, December 17, 2012

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Ah yes, a great Christmas song (referencing the title of the blog)!  However, not all of us hear (one of the five senses) the same and not all of us listen the same (understand what has been said).  A marriage counselor once described the male listening and male speak as a color - blue.  While he also described the female listening and female speak as a color - pink.  In order for us to understand one another better within the marriage relationship we need to learn the language of the color of the other  important person in our lives.  Not only do we need to develop a "pink language" if we are a male and a "blue language" if we are a female, but we need to develop our blue and pink listening skills as well in the same manner.  This is just within the context of a marriage.  Now let me apply this to the Christian's relationship with God.

There is no doubt that the God of the universe knows what we mean when we speak.  It is our feeble minds with all the myriad voices to consider that has the challenge of developing an "ear" for God's voice and language.  Once we do stop listening and accepting the curses and lies of what other people say toward us we have made a step in the right direction.  The next step is to NOT JUST think positive about yourself and others and the birds and the trees and so forth and so on.  No!  The next step is to hear, listen, accept, and believe what God says in His Word to us and about us.  We need to look through the best eyes possible - God's eyes - and view how God sees us.  There are tons of Scripture to pour through and observe God's perspective of you, but in short - if you are a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ, then He is who Father God sees you through and nobody else.

We can see the heart of Father God through the words, actions, and compassion of Jesus.  We can see the power, comfort, leading, and discernment through God's Holy Spirit with us and in us.  God is the ultimate Gentleman.  He did not make the mess the world is in, we did, but He cleaned it up (through faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ).  And He gives us the choice of accepting His GIFT or not.  Of all the Faiths out there Christianity is the only one that has it's God visiting in the image it created - teaching, ministering, and living a perfect life - and then laying that life down willingly for all SO THAT we would be Redeemed to God the Father for eternity.  That's how much God loved us.  And that is a start at how God sees every single human being ever created - worth dying for - O How He Loves You And Me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FOR SHAME, FOR SHAME

There was a time in humanity's existence when shame was not an issue (Genesis 2:25).  But then a time came when humanity rebelled against God.  The relationship we had with God fell so far and so hard that we have been shamed for it by the enemy and ourselves ever since that day.

The spirit of shame has been around for many generations teaching humanity how to use shame as a weapon, especially inside the family unit.  A Biblical example of this is found in 1 Samuel 20:30 - "Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan [Saul's son] and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you?"  So, not only did Saul disgrace his own son, Jonathan, he included Jonathan's mother, his own wife in the slander.  The spirit of anger triggered the whole episode - "Saul's anger flared" -  but Saul eventually got around to using the spiteful weapon of shame to attack his own family on a matter.

Other actions that have been deemed shameful are recorded in Psalm 97:7 - "All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols-- worship him, all you gods!"  Another Scripture that supports this one is Isaiah 42:17 - "But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame"  In addition, the book of Proverbs supplies a handful of types of individuals who are shamed because of specific actions.

The shamed:
  • The Fool (Proverbs 3:35)
  • The Wicked (Proverbs 13:5)
  • Ignoring Discipline (Proverbs 13:18)
  • Answering before listening (Proverbs 18:13)
  • He/she who robs his father and drives out his mother (Proverbs 19:26)
Shame is so important to David that he prayed against it several times, but here are two instances.  Psalm 25:2 says, "in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me."  And Psalm 25:20 - "Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you."

In the future, God will remove the national shame on Israel.  "At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame." - Zephaniah 3:19

For some, shame will be an eternal condition.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).......  Therefore, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, for cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (Galatians 3:13; Dt. 21:23), and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2).

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).  Plus, Jesus said, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8).  That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day (2 Timothy 1:12).  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (1 Peter 4:16).  Jesus reminds us, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me (John 15:20-21).

Shame seeks to disgrace, slander, and defame our character.  It's goals are to humiliate, mortify, and defame.  It's agenda is to discredit, disrepute, and always assign guilt.  BUT GOD, by His Word in flesh, Jesus, supernaturally bore all my shame, your shame, and the shame of the world on His body as He hung upon The Tree.   So, the next time the enemy tries to use shame as a weapon against you - rebuke that attempt and confess what Jesus has secured for you through the cross and His resurrection -  "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn . This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17).  Claim this and you will be doing "your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WATCH AND OCCUPY

Some people have the attitude and teach that since Jesus is going to come at a time when Believers do not know then Believers don't need to be concerned about it.  This is the incorrect approach.   Let us consider some Scripture on the watchfulness of the Christian believer.

Word study on "Watch".
Matt. 24:42 - “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

Matt. 24:43 - But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

Matt. 25:13 - “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

*Luke 21:36 - Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

"Watching" for Christ's return is a command - "Therefore keep watch..." (Matt. 24:42 and Matt. 25:13) and "Be always on the watch,..." (Luke 21:36).  This calls for a constant state of readiness or living that demands the Christian to be responsible and accountable for his/her thoughts, actions, and words unto God, with the aid of fellow Believers, until Christ's coming.

"Watching" is an action word.  This term portrays a sense of expectation.  However, instead of sitting and waiting for the arrival of something, the Matthew 24:43 verse describes a type of "watching" that is proactive.  It displays an owner of a house that if he had known about a thief coming to rob his house, the owner would have been prepared.  Back then they did not have house alarms so citizens would have to defend themselves by listening carefully to street talk, buying a guard dog, and possibly taking guard shifts of the family property.  That is proactive watching in the natural.  Proactive watching in the spiritual is recognizing all the signs that pointed to Christ's First visit and realizing their TOTAL fulfillment in prophecy.  Then recognizing there is a promise by Christ to return again for His true believers with signs of the times supplied to show us the season of His coming.  Additionally, proactive watching for the Christian should exemplify Christ-like living while studying the Bible and the times concerning Christ's return.

Word study on "Occupy".
1 Tim. 4:15 - Occupy thyself with these things; be wholly in them, that thy progress may be manifest to all. (Darby Translation)

Romans 12:7 - or service, [let us occupy ourselves] in service; or he that teaches, in teaching; (Darby Translation)

*Luke 19:13 - And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. (KJV)

According to these verses, the word "occupy" is a term that denotes action in expectation of something else.  Said another way - busying oneself for a desired result.  In the 1 Timothy 4:15 verse the things we should "occupy" or busy ourselves with are listed in verses 7-14, SO THAT "thy [your] progress may be manifest [known] to all."  The next two verses, Romans 12:7 and Luke 19:13, deal with serving or ministering (being busy) on this planet and in this world [human systems] for the Lord and the extension of His Kingdom.

I have heard teachings for the Christian on the concepts of JUST occupying this earth for the Lord.  I have heard teachings on JUST watching for the Lord's return.  Imagine if we JUST did both - watched while we occupied.  Both of these terms have active ingredients in them, not passive only.  The watching for the promised return of Christ (for His true Believers) can occur simultaneously while occupying this planet and the land that we call home.  In fact, the act of watching for our Lord should set-off proper behaviors and mind-sets and speech in Christian Believers that aid us in our effort of occupying until He comes.  So, the next time you hear any teacher dismiss "watching" by itself OR "occupying" by itself, I encourage you to politely challenge them on the matter.  Christian Believers are commanded to do Both.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WHERE IS HOME FOR YOU?

For the Christian, where is home?  I have heard it said, "Home is where the heart is" or "Home is where you hang your hat".  I have done a number of word searches in my study of this question that must be considered first before we get "home".

My word search in the Bible for the term "pilgrim" found no result, yet Christians sing of themselves in hymns as just that - pilgrims just passing through this ole world of woe in route to their true home of heaven, paradise, streets of gold, the golden city, and the like.

The word "alien" is used quite often in Scripture, but usually refers to people from a different place than Israel or wherever the Hebrew people happen to be at that time instead of the Believer's relationship with this planet as his/her home.  But is the heaven scenario really home, the final destination for the Christian?

The first real connection I found with a verse that might speak to earth NOT being the believer's final destination was in Psalm 119:19 - "I am a stranger on earth;".  I looked up the original Hebrew word for "stranger" (ger/geyr/gare) in this verse and it means - properly a guest, by implication a foreigner.  Why would David feel like he is a foreigner on this planet?  Read the rest of the verse for the answer - "hide not thy commandments from me."  As David operated under God's Commandments he became a "stranger" or "foreigner" to the world's requirements.  That is how David or anyone else feels when we follow the rules and regulations of another source or governing body over our lives while living in a different place that has it's own system(s) of government.  Jesus had the same kind of reaction.  Notice what Jesus says about "the world".

Word Study on "the world"
  • John 15:19 - If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
  • John 17:14, 15, 16 [Praying to Father God, Jesus says/prays the following] - I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
  • John 18:36 - Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
The Original Greek word for "world" is kosmos.  It means the literal or figurative moral and orderly arrangement of things and people in a wide and/or narrow sense.  So, the usage of the word "world" in the verses above should Not be taken as "planet" or "earth", but as government or culture of a society or race.  It would Not make sense to translate John 15:19 as...."If you belonged to the planet/earth, it would love you as its own."  A planet or dirt does not "love", so the word "world" in the original verse must mean something different and it does.  Said another way..."If you belonged to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas then humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas, but I have chosen you out of these things.  That is why humanity hates you." [Chad's Paraphrase]  

Now let us observe that second reference, John 17:14-16.  In the beginning there was The Word who was with God, in God's Kingdom.  Later, The Word became flesh, Jesus, and dwelt among humans.  He, The Word of God or Jesus, shared Father God's mind with the populace but especially His disciples.  The more the disciples or anyone accepted God's Word the more the "world" order or human system(s) rejected them.  Yet Jesus prayed this - "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."  There was Good News to be spread and the disciples were going to be the spreaders.  What good news is there to spread?  There is a far better Kingdom that can rule humanity's heart and mind right now through faith in God's Son and His sacrifice for your redemption.  And there is a far better Kingdom that is coming to rule over the earth someday with Jesus as it's Master and King.  So, again "world" here is not the third rock from the sun that Jesus desires for Father God NOT to take us out or away from, but the fallen, imperfect ways of humanity.

That leaves us with the third verse from above - John 18:36.  Jesus, speaking to Pilate, allows Pilate in on some Truth - "My kingdom [my government] is not of this world [figurative or literal; human government or earthly].  Then Jesus admits that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants/disciples which have abandoned Him at this point, would fight for Him, just as any potential king with followers would have at His disposal.  "If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews."  However, the Kingdom of Jesus is different and so are His servants - angels.  "In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.'" Hebrews 1:7  I think it interesting to note that the angels must have known the plan of salvation too.  Observe how Jesus phrases His statement to Pilate - "My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants [who are really angels] would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews [But they are not going to fight! Why?  Because they know The Plan!].  But now my kingdom is from another place."

With the word "alien" the piece of the puzzle does not fit.  "Alien" deals with the relationship between foreigners and Israel NOT people and the earth.  With "stranger" notice that David said he was "a stranger on earth" NOT to earth.  This would still claim earth as David's home but "stranger" to the "world" or human systems.  Now let us turn our attention to "home".  A Biblical word search on "home" produced many verses that one would typically expect concerning someone's physical establishment.  Then there were verses like these.....
  • Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. - John 14:23
  • Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:6
  • We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8
  • So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. - 2 Corinthians 5:9
  • But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. - 2 Peter 3:13
At first glance, justifying John's verse and all of Paul's verses to the church in Corinth can be confusing.  How can John say in 14:23 Father God will come to us and make a home with us (those that love and obey Christ) and then Paul turns around and says in 2 Cor. 5:6 while we are in the body we are away from the Lord?

Verses, like John 14:23 are speaking about the Holy Spirit coming and residing within the Believer to lead, guide, and direct them in their lives today.  The other three Pauline verses are referring to being in the immediate, physical presence of Jesus someday future.

So, in light of the study at hand, verses, like the first four verses mentioned here, refer to the physical body on this physical planet as our residence for our mind, spirit, and soul, plus the home of the Holy Spirit.  Concerning the home as a location for our bodies and considering the last referenced Scripture, 2 Peter 3:13, I would venture to say that Christians have had one home, are living in one now, and have two more to come.  There was earth before The Fall.  There has been earth since The Fall.  There will be a Millennial Earth.  Finally, there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Before sin entered into humanity's nature and corrupted creation itself - God walked with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden.  He put him steward over the creatures of the earth and in charge of the Garden.  The creation was as it was supposed to be for some time even after Eve was created.  Our first home through the eyes and lives of Adam and Eve was perfect until The Fall (Genesis 1 - 2, especially 2:9, 25).  After The Fall, humanity and earthly creation has been living in the home we are living in today (Genesis 3:17-19)  Next, there will come the Millennial Reign of Christ from Jerusalem.  During this reign, topographical changes will be observed and national boundaries reassigned (Revelation 19 - 20:6).  After the thousand years of Christ's rule a new heaven and a new earth will be issued and this old one that has fulfilled all prophecy will be burned away (Revelation 20:7 - 21).

Notice how all these earths are locations for the believer's body to exist.  It seems God has always had in mind an earthen planet for humanity.  The things that have changed are the status of our relationship with God and the subsequent set-up of our rebellious, human kingdom.  Believers in Christ are special.  We receive God's Kingdom or government, with a new city - New Jerusalem - that is even now being prepared for us, the new heavens, and the new earth.  But first we will live here now, taking up our cross daily, then later we will rule and reign with Him during His Earthly Millennial Reign from old, but refurbished Jerusalem.  Then the new heavens and new earth and eternity with our Savior.  That is how I see Home for the Christian.

Monday, December 3, 2012

RECALLING WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT

Over my 42 years of Life, I have heard many stories of people with different degrees of fame who have committed suicide.  However, this recent murder/suicide by Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs has got my emotions and thoughts flowing again and I would like to share them with you.

For those who do not know the story that I am referring to here is a link that you can click and then read the related story.  http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl--jovan-belcher-s-conflicting-potrait-reveals-an-earnest--hard-working-young-man-154216138.html

Sad.  A young 25 year old male with a NFL career, a 22 year old girlfriend, a great reputation and everything seemingly working out for him and he takes away her life and throws away his by shooting each other.  No signs, no signals, no tells of any sort to alert anybody of this possibility.  Of all that people knew about Jovan there was no need for concern.  Ah, but there is my point - why wait for something bad to develop or happen in somebody's life before getting to really know them and be able to really share each others joys and burdens - lives.

We as a society seem to operate on assumptions instead of taking quality time and quality measures to invest in each other.  Family and friends that you already have are wonderful people to at least start reaching out to establish meaningful relationships.  However, once you are solidified in the family and friends department, I think it would benefit us all (teaching myself here too) to reach out to someone you don't know.  These people could be complete strangers or fellow co-workers, but share joy, share burdens, share life, share love one for another.  The more positive inputs we have in people's lives hopefully the less likely we are to have situations like Jovan Belcher.

With Jovan all the wires seemed connected Save One.  In honor of Jovan's stint with the Kansas City Chiefs I will name this connection the Game Over wire.  This all-important synapse relays the information about the preciousness of life, the fragileness of life, and the finality of life to all necessary parts of the brain.  Jovan does not get a second chance.  Reincarnation is an old postulation that has intrigued people BUT NEVER WORKED!  For example, those that believe in reincarnation claim that coming back (as human or anything else) is suppose to improve humanity's chance to take us to the next level of existence.  After supposedly 10,000 years of human history and this supposed cycle with no improvement I think we can safely say THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN!  Another consideration toward reincarnation is  - what was the reincarnation of the first thing?  Continuity is totally shot here and any attempt to answer places the proponent for reincarnation even more in "Left Field".  Jovan is dead and the judgment is next (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. 

It's all about relationship(s).  It IS about being up in somebody's business, but not in an overbearing, smothering way.  More to the tune of a deeply ingrained and involved relationship - enough that lets the other person know without a doubt that you sincerely care and will be there for them.  So, Reach Out to someone, Get Involved in someone's life and Share and you will be more richly blessed than them whom you extend yourself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

IMHO

From my perspective and my expectations there is not a whole lot to be said.  The play and outcome of the UNC vs. Chaminade game was online with what I thought would happen and the result of the UNC vs. Indiana matchup was right on target.  A win against an inferior team and a loss against the # 1 team in the nation respectively.

The lost really magnified our youth and the weaknesses within our youth.  Rebounding and ball-handling are two weaknesses I would like to bring out here.  The Tarheels have too many players playing volleyball with the basketball instead of going up strong and grabbing the ball with two hands and coming down with a sure possession.  Last I checked it was a basketball court, not a volleyball court that they were playing on, but what do I know, I'm just an analyst.

The Tarheels have a lot of refining to do especially in the fundamentals.  However, Coach Williams desperately needs to find the right combination to the right mix of chemicals/players to be on the court at any given time and quick - if the young Heels are to have a fighting chance in the ACC and the nation this season.

Next on the list is UAB at home on Saturday, December 1st at 6 pm.

GO HEELS!!!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IMHO (LBSU, MSU, BUTLER)

The Long Beach State game I thought was a matter of the team finding their rhythm and staying in that groove.  LBS was playing on their home court so they had all their vibes and flow going early.  But once Carolina settled into their gameplan and took the fast-break opportunities when they came, the outcome favored UNC.

In the Mississippi State game the Tarheel team I have wanted to see this season finally showed up on the court.  Guard play, shooting, height, and defense were all keys to the win in this one.  McDonald and Hairston were instrumental in bringing the threat from outside.  P.J. even hit a beyond the half-court line shot to end the first half (and you know it is going good when you hit shots like those).

In the Butler game, everything the UNC squad did right the night before they left it at the hotel and nobody went back to get it.  It was a complete turn-around performance - no defending the three (obviously - Achilles heel), we spent most of the game running around on defense, poor decision making on passes and shot selection, and when Carolina did shoot there was a lid on the basket (only 18 points in the first half).  Turnovers were rampant and coach would not call a timeout.  Need I go on?  I guess the saving grace for this Tarheel fan is - better the kick in the butt now than later in the second half of the season or tourney play.

A mediocre game, a stellar game, a no-show game - the Tarheels are inconsistent right now and their chemistry desperately needs the right mixing especially with Indiana (#1) waiting for us on their court next!

GO HEELS!

-Chad Pritchard

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD"

At first glance the words of Matthew 8:22 can seem rather harsh.

"But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"

However, in order to gain a better grasp of this verse one needs to examine the context of the verse, review Jesus' track record, and consider other's study of this verse carefully.

Contextually Luke's account of this event must be considered to examine why the other disciple said to Jesus in the first place - "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."  In Luke 9:59, Jesus charges the teacher or man to "Follow me" (Jesus).  In verse 60 Jesus goes even further as to why the man should leave his father and follow Jesus - SO THAT the man might "go and proclaim the kingdom of God".

Jesus' track record was to heal the sick, dying, or dead.  Here is such an account of Jesus' nature -

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!"15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. - Luke 7:11-15

So, why did Jesus say what He said in the Matthew 8:22 encounter?  Why did Jesus not go and heal the man's father?  Because the man's father was not on his deathbed.

The Nelson Study Bible explains Matthew 8:21-22 as follows:

"This passage most likely describes a follower whose father was still alive, because by Levitical law the man would not be out in public if his father had just died. His father was aged. So the man wanted to go to his home, wait for his father to die, and then follow Christ. Jesus' answer means that we must never make excuses for refusing to follow Him. There is no better time than the present."

Christ was not prohibiting this disciple from attending his father's funeral. The passage does not say that his father had died and needed to be buried.  What Christ was addressing here was the desire of His disciple to stay with his elderly father UNTIL he had died, rather than following Christ's invitation to become a minister and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God wherever he would be sent. This man tried to make excuses for not following the call to the ministry at that moment in time. He wanted to wait for a more "appropriate"
time. As the early apostles forsook everything they had in order to follow Christ, so this disciple was challenged to do the same. But he refused.

If I have my facts straight, the Marines have a saying that goes something like..."God, Country, Family, Corp".  The point is that God is listed at the front of this list, but is He really the most important and does He get the most attention for the Marine soldier and for the Christian soldier.

"This aspiring disciple placed family responsibilities ahead of following Jesus. The concerns of home were this man's stumbling block... Jesus emphasized that a disciple must have clear priorities. The call of God should receive priority over everything else."

The Life Application Bible adds this thought regarding Matthew 8:22: "As God's Son, Jesus did not hesitate to demand complete loyalty. Even family loyalty was not to take priority over the demands of obedience."

...we are God's Spirit begotten children whose first and foremost responsibility is to love GOD with all of our heart, might and soul.

Christ was not saying, of course, that the father should not be buried when he died. He was talking about spiritually dead relatives who would be in a position to take care of the funeral arrangements. We were all, at one time, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), but God has made us "alive" in Jesus Christ (same verse), having forgiven us all of our trespasses (Colossians 2:13). For us, who have been made spiritually alive, nothing must be more important than to follow Christ wherever He goes and wants us to go (Revelation 14:4).

Words in Purple quoted from http://www.eternalgod.org/qapdf/6107

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When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 21 Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."22 But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." - Matthew 8:18-22

Now here is the same account recorded by Luke - 

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." - Luke 9:57-62

2012 EDITION of IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)

Welcome to the 2012 edition of In My Humble Opinion - a season long appraisal of the performance of the University of North Carolina Men's Basketball games by me, your host writer - Chadwick E. Pritchard.

I was fortunate enough to be in Chapel Hill at the first two games of the season - vs. Gardner Webb and vs. Florida Atlantic.

In the first contest, against Gardner-Webb, I did not expect much and did not receive much.  The team definitely looked rusty.  I thought rightfully so, after coming off an off-season where you are only playing your own team-mates.  Playing the same players over and over gets old quick.  You get to know their ways and you adapt or should adapt quickly to their style of play.  However, with a team UNC has never seen before, they were making poor decisions on passes and shot selections, relying too much on MacAdoo and not spreading the "Love", and COULD NOT HIT A FREE THROW TO SAVE THEIR SKIN!  Another interesting observation that I made that also found it's way into Coach William's comments was - I thought Reggie Bullock played the part/role of a "parent" on the hardwood.  He would stay in the background and direct traffic, grab rebounds, play defense, and not take wide open shots when they were available.

Some of this bled over to the Florida Atlantic game and some didn't.  They shared the "Rock" among the players (plural) better.  MacAdoo got his, don't you worry, but others gave a healthy contribution also and we will need that a whole lot as the season progresses.  Our FREE THROWING still STUNK!  You would have thought that maybe the team would have been at the line practicing those shots ever since the last game, but if they were it sure did not show in the second match-up.  Reggie Bullock got the message!  He came to life and started being bold and taking the first shots and hitting some threes right off the bat in this game.  The team desperately needs a Floor General.  Of course the fans and coaching staff want that Now, but this takes time to develop, especially at this level.

Players that caught my eye and that I will be looking to make an immediate impact are Bryce Johnson and Joel James.

Next game is vs. Long Beach State at Long Beach State at 11 pm EST (ESPNU).

Until next time.......GO HEELS!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

THE GREAT SHEPHERD

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - Psalm 23

"The LORD is my shepherd"
To me this means Believers in Christ Jesus are His sheep.  In addition, The LORD is called the Believer's "great shepherd" in Hebrews 13:20 probably in reference to this Psalm.

"I shall not be in want"
This condition is because if you have a relationship with the "Great Shepherd" you have everything.  However, within His fold, flock, and/or Kingdom there are many additional Benefits - 

1.  "He makes me lie down in green pastures"
The Great Shepherd treats His sheep to "green pastures", representing the opportunity for the sheep to graze and rest.  So, applying that to the Believer - "He makes me lie down in [His provision, His daily bread and comfort/rest]"  

2.  "He leads me beside quiet waters" 
As a sheep, "quiet waters" would nourish the inside with nice, cool, refreshing water and calm the outside by being a pleasant sound to hear.  It would also not drown out any potential predatory threats like raging waters or rapids would.  For the Believer another verse helps out here - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth , give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled , neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)  Concerning "quiet waters" that anyone would want to dwell beside or drink from - "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water [water from a human well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)  The Words of Jesus are indeed The Bread of Life and The Living Water of the soul and the "quiet waters" is a great place for meditation and nourishment from the River of Life Himself - Jesus.

3.  "He restores my soul" 
As a shepherd might console or comfort a sheep that is agitated about something so does the Believer's Great Shepherd with His flock.  Jesus is also known as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and through the power of the Holy Spirit He ministers to the Believer, restoring their souls when needed.  However, the ultimate restoration comes for the "whosoever will believe" (John 3:16).  Jesus has taken the condition of everyone's soul - Broken - and restored it for eternity.

4.  "He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." 
A regular human shepherd would guide a sheep along the right path.  The Great Shepherd of the Believer in Christ not only leads us along the right path, but the path we traverse is of "righteousness" or right doing and it is "for his name's sake" or for the Glory of God that we do.  Notice too that sheep may bear a mark of their shepherd.  The Believer has the responsibility of carrying and representing the name of Jesus Christ - Christian.  The Lord guides the true Believer along the journey of life in doing the right thing so that other people might say, "Hey, He/She must be a Christian because that lines up with what the Bible and I have believed a Christian should do."  We bear His name, use it wisely and not in vain!

5.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;"  
Wow!  There is the "shadow of death" and then there is "the valley of the shadow of death"!  And even though Believers may reach a point in their lives where they are facing their mortality and possibly see evil itself - there is no need for any kind of fear, including the fear of evil because The Great Shepherd is with us (the Believers).  In fact, The Great Shepherd has hand-held devices that help this cause.

6.  "your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
A shepherd would use a "rod", a straight club, to defend his sheep.  His staff, the hooked rod or inverted "J" that we commonly see shepherds pictured with are used to guide sheep or pull them back from danger. So it is with the Great Shepherd of the Believers in Christ.  He does the same mentally, physically, and spiritually for His flock.

7.  "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." 
As a sheep I am elated I am not on the menu!  I am so happy the table has not been prepared for me to be the main course for someone!  No!  On the contrary!  The table is prepared before my enemies so they can see that I have "tasted of the Lord and He is good!" (Psalm 34:8)  They will see that I and many other Believers have partook of the Lord's Table, believing in The Sacrificial Lamb - Jesus, that we have taken into our lives as our Savior, The Lamb of God (John 1:29).

8.  "You anoint my head with oil"
This is a special sheep for sure, if you keep that theme here.  From a sheep to a priest!  In the Old Testament whenever a Priest or King was ordained, someone anointed him.  Revelation 20:6 views the Believer as Priests, anointed to rule and reign with Christ during the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth - "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." 

9.  "my cup overflows"
 
The Great Shepherd has done everything for the sheep or Believer in this Psalm.  There are times in our lives when we need to not only stop and smell the roses, but we need to pause and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  However, there are other instances where action on our part is required first.  "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10)  "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  (Luke 6:38) 
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,"
With good attention and merciful behavior from any regular shepherd the sheep are sure to flourish.  How much more so the flock under the care of the "goodness and mercy" of The Great Shepherd!  And not just this....

"and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
And His house is to die for!  ;)

Friday, October 26, 2012

HUSBANDS AND WIVES: Both [Pt. 3 of 3]

Wives and Husbands
1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

In an effort to better myself and my marriage there is an area I wish to share with you now that is challenging for me - consistent husband and wife (team) prayer.  My heart was pricked by the Holy Spirit the other day when someone in the family needed prayer and another family member asked me and Tanya to please pray for that other member.  After hanging up the phone I immediately sat down with Tanya, took her hand in mine, and prayed for that need and others.  While praying the Holy Spirit whispered to my own spirit - "Why does it take emergencies to get the two of you to pray together?"  Point taken.

Even though the phrase above in verse seven says "your prayers" - referring back to "Husbands" who are challenged to be "considerate" toward their wives and "treat them with respect and as heirs" - I believe "so that nothing will hinder your prayers" can also be applied to the married couple as well.  "When a husband and wife treat each other as equal and valued partners in life, they become a powerful team.  On the other hand, if a marital relationship is out of order and one or both of the spouses do not value or appreciate each other, First Peter 3:7 says that this out-of-sync condition will "hinder" them when they pray together.  The word "hinder" is the word egkopto, a word used in Greek times to portray the moment when a runner comes alongside another runner and literally elbows him out of the race.  Although the runner was previously running a good race, the aggression of a competitor literally breaks in on his race and destroys his effectiveness.  When a married couple see themselves as a unified team, their prayer life becomes powerful and effective.  Therefore, husband, adjust your thinking to see your wife as your co-partner, co-inheritor, and co-ruler in life.  If you are married, you are no longer just one; you have now become inseparably joined to your wife."  (Renner, p.765, Sparkling Gems From The Greek)  I would add to Mr. Renner's comments - because I know my memory wanes at times, wives, please support such an endeavor that would remind the both of you on a daily basis to get alone together for prayer - a counseling session with The Counselor.

I truly believe that if I and the rest of Christ believing married pairs will schedule a couples prayer time on a consistent basis we will all see "misunderstandings through miscommunications" begin to diminish.  "Misunderstanding through miscommunication is the door the devil likes to use to get in between spouses and divide them.  But if a husband and wife will commit themselves to keeping the door shut to misunderstanding and miscommunication, this one factor alone can keep the devil from finding access into their relationship." (Renner, p.767)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

HUSBANDS AND WIVES: Wives [Pt. 2 of 3]

Here is the main reference Scripture (1 Peter 3:1-7) again.

Wives and Husbands1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Let us turn our attention to the wives and what they can contribute to a wonderful marriage - according to Scripture.

1 Peter 3:1 in the King James Version says, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;"

Now before husbands and wives alike get "bent-all-out-of-shape" about the word "subjection" in this verse - a timeout desperately needs to be called.  The original Greek word for "subjection" here is hupotasso.  It is a combination of two words - hupo, meaning under and tasso, meaning to place something in the proper order.  God is the one who created the order of everything seen and unseen, man then woman, and the order of authority in the home.  Many times within the relationship the husband distorts the God-given authority of the marriage and dismantles the order and destroys the relationship by abusing this right.  "...it's important to understand that when Peter commands a woman to be in subjection to her own husband, he is not recommending that she become a 'doormat' whom the husband takes advantage of.  Rather, Peter is urging each wife to take her place as her husband's chief supporter and helper." (Renner, p. 741, Sparkling Gems From The Greek)

At other times the wife has the issue.  She is nagging, micro-managing everything, and critical, therefore forcing her husband to retreat and build walls around himself (emotionally speaking) or causing him to bite back at every instance of negativity.  "..it is very interesting to note that nowhere in the New Testament are women directly commanded to love their husbands.  Instead, wives are told to be 'in subjection' to their husbands.  Why is this?  Because a husband perceives his wife's love when he senses her support.  
Nothing communicates a wife's love to her husband better than a supportive attitude." (Renner, p.741)  Wives are you getting the point?  We need your support within the order given by God for the authority of the home.  And we can tell when you are faking it!  There are two paths wives seem to take here:  they submit outwardly but rebel inwardly or they wholeheartedly understand and exude the proper relationship and supportive attitude.

Wives, are you preaching and teaching so much to your husband that your "preachiness" not only is pushing your husband away, but does not allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity for a one-on-one with him?  Although the following Scripture is referring to a unbelieving husband, believing husbands can be ministered by this method also.  The Scripture instructs wives to win over their husbands by the quality of their lives.  Concerning this, verses 1 and 2 say, "...if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."  The word "won" in the first verse is the Greek word kerdeo, which means to act cleverly or play the game correctly.  The song by Kenny Rogers comes to mind - The Gambler - "You got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away and know when to run..."  And that is the mentality here - playing your cards right without saying a word.  The King James Version of this verse is rendered - "...if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;".  The "conversation" mentioned here is NOT what we think of or at least I think of right off the bat - talking between people.  The original Greek word for "conversation" is anastrophe, which speaks to how a person behaves on a daily basis in every circumstance.  Ladies I humbly and gently encourage you - if you are a wife that is in this category (preachy) please consider letting your actions speak louder than words.

 One of the titles of Rick Renner's Gems is "Is God Against Cosmetics?"  The part of the passage above he was referring to is verses 3 and 4 - 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  Here it is a matter of worth and in whose eyes or perspective you view.  In God's sight the greater worth is the "inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit".  To me the words bridled and calm replace "gentle" and "quiet". In the KJV it is "meek" and "quiet". "...when Peter writes about a "meek and quiet spirit," he is paying the highest compliment to wives who fit this description.  These wives are so strong in spirit that they are able to refrain from outbursts of anger and thus are able to become a calming force in a variety of difficult situations. Considering the many opportunities wives have to get shaken or upset by the affairs of life, it is very commendable when a wife is so strong, so consistent, and so stable in the home that she consistently 'steadies the ship' and helps keep peace in every situation." (Renner, p. 754)
So, is God against cosmetics - no.  However, it should not be your identity or focus in life.  There is a saying, If the barn (face) needs painting then paint it.  I would add, but don't make it a "Golden Calf" (idol) in your life.  "In essence, he was saying, 'Ladies, it's all right to do what you can to look outwardly beautiful.  However, don't forget that the most important emphasis and the place to invest most of your time should be in the beautifying of the hidden man of the heart." (p.748, Renner)
"God isn't against your desire to work on your outward appearance; however, he wants you to spend at least an equal amount of time developing and beautifying your spirit." (p.749, Renner)

Lastly, this passage holds up Sarah, Abraham's wife, as a model to examine.  She was considered a holy woman who put her hope in God to make her beautiful, was submissive to her husband, obeyed Abraham, and called him "Master" (husbands I don't suggest you request this one from your wife).  She was a wife of integrity and did not live a fearful life.  Wives, I encourage you to be who God called you to be with a little dash of Sarah thrown in.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HUSBANDS AND WIVES: Husbands [Part 1 of 3]

Marriage - many people have had a lot to say on this topic throughout time.  More specifically requirements or at least strong suggestions on what each party, the husband and the wife, should bring to the table have been discussed ad nauseam.  One of those contributors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that I would like to highlight in this blog is Peter.  There are many places in Scripture one could go to study the topic of marriage, the husband's responsibilities, and the wife's responsibilities but for this examination I would like us to consider 1 Peter 3:1-7.

1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

This time let's take the husband's responsibilities toward a great marriage - first.  Verse 7 starts off saying, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, ..."  Notice the second segment of this verse - "be considerate as you live with your wives,...".  This "as you live with your wives" speaks to a pre-existing condition, a condition of dwelling or living with your wife.  But here I am referring to more than just physically taking up space next to your wife.  "Living" or "dwelling" with another human being, especially your spouse, requires energy and effort that many husbands are not willing to invest by the end of their work day.  There is the challenge - invest the energy and effort.  Even if you (husbands) have had all the interaction you can handle in one day, the one person you do not want to shut out is your wife!  So, do not shut her out and do not shut down for the night.  Dwell/Live or share your day and life with your wife because before you know it the journey will end.

Husbands, treasure your wives and let them know it.  Display to her the value you hold in your heart and mind about her.  It is not enough you know you love her and cherish her forever, she needs to hear that and see that on a pretty regular basis.  There is a very bad misconception that needs clarification.  Within 1 Peter 3:7 it says - "...giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel" (KJV).  This "weaker vessel" does not communicate your spouse as less in rank or importance.  "This is the Greek word asthenes, which actually carries the idea of something that is fragile and of great value, like a priceless, beautiful, hand-painted porcelain vase that must be treated with supreme care.  Furthermore, the word "vessel" is from the Greek skeuos, which presents the idea of a vase or treasure so rare and valuable that it should be treasured, cherished, highly prized, and handled with special care." (Renner, p.760, Sparkling Gems From The Greek)

Husbands, here are some strong suggestions Mr. Rick Renner provides that I agree with and paraphrase in treating your wife with utmost care.
  1. Open doors for your wife for her to walk through first.
  2. Aid your wife up stairs, off the curb of the street, up from a seat with the appropriate touch.
  3. Set aside some money to surprise her with, knowing she has been eyeing a certain something. And remember that something to begin with.
  4. Tell your wife she is beautiful, often.
  5. When speaking about your wife in front of your friends or family - speak honorably.
  6. Take your lovely wife to dinner and allow her to talk, talk, talk (vent).
  7. While at work, call her and sing..."I just called to say, 'I love you'..." (Lionel Richie)
  8. If you have to, schedule time with her (a walk, game, movie, etc..)
  9. Write her your own version of a Hallmark Love Card/Note.
  10. Remember the time.....(special dates and events)
It all boils down to paying attention and being considerate at ALL times!  Appreciate her and love her.  "That's all I got to say about that." (nod to Forrest Gump)

Now a special word to my wife. (Everybody read this.)

Dear Tanya,

The more I spend time with you, the more I "see" who we really are.  These bodies are nothing but an imperfect shell that starts off healthy and "in shape", but later develops challenges and morphs into another body-type slightly different with the years.  However, what never changes is you - inside that shell.  Some say that the mind, will, and emotions make up a person.  If that is so then I truly have been married to the most Beautiful Person on Earth.  "Whatever is in the spirit is exactly what will be reproduced in a person's life and conduct.  ...what makes her most beautiful to me is not her hair, her face, her figure, or her clothing.  The most beautiful part of my wife is her heart.  The sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ emanates from her heart, through her attitudes, and into her words and actions, making her one of the loveliest people I've ever known." (borrowed words from Rick Renner, p.751)  I love you Tanya and hope and pray I live up to the charge - "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THERE IS AN EQUATION

The Church of Jesus Christ in America (or any nation)
Humility + 
Prayer + 
Seeking God's Face + 
Turning From Their Wicked Ways  = God's Response
                                                          1.  I will hear from heaven
                                                          2.  I will forgive their sin
                                                          3.  I will heal their land

2 Chronicles 7:14

EXAM TIME

I respectfully challenge all churches everywhere, including my own, to observe Communion next time with a heightened awareness toward being in right relationship with "the body and the blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27).

To me. being in right relationship with "the body" of the Lord means that the Believer believes correctly about Jesus' physical existence and is right with all the members of The Church, also known as the body of Christ on earth since His ascension.

In being in right relationship with "the blood of the Lord" I refer to another Scripture for support - Matthew 6:14-15 - "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."  The blood of Christ shed for our sins on The Cross dealt with forgiveness - "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22).  With Jesus as The Example and Forgiveness as The Lesson, Believers should take the time to get right with God and other believers, especially BEFORE Communion!

Paul instructs the believers in Corinth that "many of you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep [died]" because "anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor. 11:29)  Earlier, in verse 27, Paul begins this warning by stating -  "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord."

So, how is "sinning against the body and blood of the Lord" and "judgment" avoided?  Paul says, "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup." (1 Cor. 11:28)  The original Greek word for "examine" in this verse is Dokimazo and it means to scrutinize, test, try, determine the genuineness or value of something through testing.

In the case at Corinth, Believers there were arriving at the gathering hungry and using the Communion elements as their food - without thought to their true representation and without regard to the whole number of people being present.  The passage reads - "So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.  If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment." (1 Cor. 11:33-34)

Fast forwarding to the present, I do not believe we have the problem of someone eating the majority of the elements before Communion.  However, the other issues of non-forgiveness and incorrect belief are more dangerous in my humble opinion.  According to the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul - weakness, sickness, and death were a direct result of whatever falls under eating and drinking Communion "in an unworthy manner" (v.27)  So, once again, in order to obey the Holy Spirit, avoid the pitfalls listed, and just stay away from unforgiveness and incorrect belief - I encourage Christian churches everywhere to at least take a healthy few moments during their observance of Communion from now on for people to examine themselves SO THAT you are right with God and His Body as you remember His sacrifice properly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ALL WE HAVE

"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." - 1 Timothy 6:7

The context of this verse was the reliance on money.  Paul was about to be martyred when he penned 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.  Paul was writing a letter of instructions to aid Timothy in running an effective church body for the Lord.  On the list was the love of money.  Paul mentions in verse 9 that people who have a desire to "get rich" are already primed for "the temptation", "the trap", and finally "ruin and destruction".  It reads - "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."  Verse 10 and 11 elaborate nicely -  "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  Instead of this love of money Paul instructs that "godliness with contentment is great gain." (v.6) and "if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (v.8).  That truth is not hard to understand, especially with so many families in debt, especially with a nation (America) in debt.

However, it is 1 Timothy 6:7, stated alone that really got me thinking (look out!).

Life is all about relationships.  At birth we are naked and totally dependent on God and our parents.  At death, if Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior, we are once more dependent on our relationship with God to trust we will be with Him (Paradise).  At the end, death does not allow for any "carry-ons" or "check-in bags"!  It allows for nothing materialistic to pass from this realm to the next.  Only relationships made or not made in this life will carry over to the next chapter of existence.  And the only relationship that matters for this side and the other side is the one you have with Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9

If you are reading this and you are already a Christian, then the rest of the time here on planet earth is all that more important.  Relationships will come and go, but when they come take the opportunity to share The Answer to Life with them before they possibly leave your radar for good.  If you are rejected, so be it - Jesus was rejected and you will be rejected too (John 15:20).  Plus, you have obeyed The Great Commission (Mark 16:15) and the seed has been planted - the rest is in God's perfectly capable hands.  Our lifespan is but a blink now-a-days.  I challenge all of us, me included, not to get caught up in the world and all of it's offerings, but to treasure and nurture our relationships, especially the one with Jesus.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from The Lord of the Ring series.  (Press play above to hear it.)

Frodo:  I wish the ring had never come to me.  I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf:  So do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW."

The encouragement in this teaching is to live a life led by the Holy Spirit.  A life being lived with just The Word of God (Bible) at your side and being read every day is a great foundation and a wonderful practice to keep all the days of one's life.  However, there is so much more that can be drawn from each reading with The Word and there is so much more that we as Believers can do by being empowered with the Holy Spirit and living the Spirit-led life.

A great Biblical life exemplifying the above condition is Peter.  He had The Word of God, Jesus, with him for three years wherever he traveled.  Peter heard the teachings and saw the miracles of Jesus.  Peter was even the one to hail Jesus as the Son of the Living God, the Messiah.  But then Peter turns right around and is used by our spiritual enemy in an attempt to thwart God's plan of salvation by saying, "Never, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!"  (Matthew 16:13-23)  Then there was another time in Peter's life, the trial of Jesus, that Peter not only abandoned his teacher, mentor, and friend, but he betrayed his association with Jesus to the locals (Matthew 26:69-75).  Now, besides fulfilling prophecy (Matthew 26:31-34), why would Peter and the rest of the disciples scatter and leave Jesus all alone?

One huge reason is that they did not want whatever was coming to Jesus to fall on their necks too.  Those words of how they would go to the death for him (Jesus) before anything bad happens was all just a lot of hot air.  Many times when faced with death a great cause takes back seat to self preservation.  This instance seems no different.  However, all the disciples lacked one thing during their three years with Jesus that might have painted a different picture - the indwelling of The Holy Spirit.

Father God had it all planned out.  The vessel had to be restored and cleaned before a pure substance could be poured into it, so that it could be poured out again.  Salvation through Jesus had to take place first.  Then be believed by the Disciples, evidenced by the resurrection.  And all this before the Holy Spirit could come on the Disciples in power in the upper room.  Interesting note that Jesus "breathed" on the Disciples in the upper room after His resurrection, before He ascended to sit at the right hand of His Father and before the Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost indwelling.  "Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'  And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'" (John 20:21-23)

I personally believe the key between the two events is in the words "receive" and "be filled".  I believe in the John 20:21-23 reference that Jesus was saying - Accept ("Receive") the Holy Spirit.  Accept Him as your guide, teacher, mentor and friend (For Jesus was preparing to ascend to The Father).  Later, observing the Disciples had accepted The Holy Spirit and the Spirit-led life (John 20:21-23), they waited for the indwelling or to "be filled" or empowered (Acts 2:1-4).

Scripture says there are two mind-sets:  1) the mind controlled by the sinful nature and 2) the mind that is Holy Spirit-led.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8

Let us observe the mind, body, and spirit led by the sinful nature first.  The obvious sins or hurtful actions against God are many but the ones listed in Galatians 5:19-21 give us a running start - 

"...sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."

There are other behaviors to not engage in - "being conceited, provoking, and envying each other".  These are spoken of in verse 26.  This list is not only a hitlist of potential pitfalls to a spirit-led life but Scripture promises that the people who constantly observe these behaviors/sins "will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21).

Now, if you live a spirt-led life which means you allow The Holy Spirit to permeate every decision, every action, and every word then the kind of fruit you and others will see is - "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  FOR "AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW." (Galatians 5:22-23)  There is no rule against love.  There is no regulation against joy.  There is no stipulation concerning peace.  There are no boundaries for kindness and goodness.  There are no parameters for faithfulness and gentleness.  We can never have enough self-control.

The Spirit-led life is like someone who always keeps his/her candle light or oil light burning bright, even in daylight.  There is no-telling when that person will travel to a shady place and need to illuminate the area with his/her light.  In the same manner, if the Spirit is fed and kept alive in us, like the fire of the candle or oil lamp, then the Spirit can spotlight the bad to stay clear of and spotlight the good to acquire more of in our lives.

"So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." (Gal. 5:24)

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - " (Romans 8:16-17)  "...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God...you received the Spirit of sonship." (Romans 8:14-15)  And for the ladies - daughtership.  ;)

If the "fire" is not lit for you, pray that God strikes the Holy Spirit "match" (baptism of the Holy Spirit).  Those that have His fire, Keep The Fire Burning!  Meanwhile, I will be observing you for those things against which there is no law!

Friday, September 28, 2012

DON'T DO THAT! (BUT IF YOU DO)

The Apostle Paul and I have some questions for a particular somebody.  Paul had the questions for the Believers in Galatia and now I submit them to the Believers who will read this blog seriously.

"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:2-3)

After doing something for so long or behaving in a certain way for possibly a lifetime, it is extremely challenging to completely lay that habit or behavior or lifestyle down even if it is for something better.  I know, I have been there and done that and have the t-shirt.  I eventually saw the errors of my ways because I got hurt or I hurt others.  It is too bad it had to come to damage control to get me to STOP operating in the wrong mode.  I imagine it is that way for many of us.  Again, Paul writes, but this time to the Believers in Rome -

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19)

So, Paul fully understood this dilemma.  However, I believe there is something on a more serious level that Paul is trying to communicate to the Galatian believers.  Yes, in the letter to Rome Paul confesses he does not understand his actions sometimes and to me this speaks of daily struggles and temptations to overcome.  But the grave concern Paul has toward Galatia seems to be a matter of salvation.

If you will observe, Paul asks, "Did you receive the Spirit by...." and "After beginning with Spirit, are you now....".  These first parts to the questions allude to the fact that the Galatian believers at one time accepted by faith the message of salvation through Christ Jesus.  Now, evidently, the Galatian believers had received some bad teaching that placed them back in the shackles of The Law (or was threatening to) - "are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"  

It is commonly accepted that individuals called "Judaizers" visited these believers after Paul's ministry and corrupted their new found faith.  The "Judaizers" that were undermining what God had done through Paul in Galatia were placing the Galatian believers back under condemnation because of their own pride (Romans 8:1).  By losing their congregation to God's Grace, the Pharisees and Sadducees did not have their Law and their supposed perfectionism to lord over the populace (like Matthew 20:25).  So, they go behind Paul at Galatia and say something like, "Is that what Paul said to believe now?  Well, if you want to be a true and complete Christian then you need to be sure to follow The Law."  Can't you just hear the voice of the serpent (from the Garden Scene) in these words?  Whatever the persuasion, it was crafty and successful enough for Paul to pen Galatians 3:2-3.

There are no self works, no deeds required to have a right relationship with God and gain access to heaven.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God has provided the access, the way as a gift to us.  The only Holy Instructions are to verbally accept your gift and from your heart activate your faith - "believe".

"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

The Encouragement:  No matter where you are in you Faith Journey with God, it is always good to pause and take inventory and/or reflect.  Mentally, physically, and especially spiritually we acquire a lot of junk we do not need.  Sometimes all the acquisitions can lead to a back-slidden lifestyle.  If you have returned to old ways (before knowing Christ) like these Galatian believers did, I encourage you with the words of Jesus through John -

"You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2:4)

Remember your first love, your true first love - God - and His meeting with you on your day of salvation, then you and God take it from that memory forward.

First Love by Petra