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Looking with HOPE to the future

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New Years. new_year_sign_19648

I have to be honest and admit that this is one holiday that I just don’t get. For millions of people it’s an excuse to get crazy drunk. For millions more it’s all about a traditional meal that includes sauerkraut and pork.

And then there are the millions who think of New Years as a chance to start over by saying goodbye to the previous year. Oh well, no one said I had to “get it”!last_year_garbage_can_custom_800_clr_21288

 

Today I asked my mailman if he was looking forward to 2018, and he answered very quickly “I don’t have much hope for the new year,and I don’t expect things will get better until we get a new leader in office”. UGH!

 

Hmmm…..no holiday cheer there, and it was too late to say Bah Humbug!

Actually, his response surprised me as I’ve always thought mail carriers led a pretty good life. But hey, what do I know?

 

What really matters in the big picture is where our hope lies. If, as in the case of my mailman, our hope lies in the next presidential election,there will always be a large percentage of the population left disappointed and wondering what might have been.

This is just one of many reasons why my hope is in Jesus Christ. With Jesus, I never have to wonder what might have been. In addition, with Jesus I already know what to expect, therefore I know in advance that I will not be disappointed.

Now, how cool is that??

Hope in Jesus does that! This hope says that irregardless of situations or circumstances, Jesus will make a way somehow, even in the darkest of nights. Which reminds me of a fish story. Well, sort of.

There was once a fisherman in the Bible whose faith and hope wavered when circumstances began to spiral out of his control. Fact is, he lost all hope and eventually denied even knowing Jesus, in spite of the fact that he had been with him nearly every day for over three years.

Who would have thought that within a very short time his perspective would do a 180?

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, ‘     I Peter 1:3

This one time fisherman and denier of Christ became a giant of faith and hope once he fully understood the power of the resurrection. I love the way that Peter uses the words “lively hope” to describe his new found hope in the resurrected Jesus!

As Christians we don’t have a dead hope. Our hope is not in dead religion or rituals. Our hope is alive! Our hope is in the risen Jesus!

light at end of tunnel

Because of this lively hope we have in Jesus Christ, I am looking forward to seeing God do great things in our lives in the coming year. Who can tell what He might have in store for us? Who can tell what He has in store for YOU?

One thing is for certain and that is that while we may not have all the details and particulars, we know that with God its going to be a great adventure!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

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What If…

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Recently, I watched a YouTube video produced by a church in Kentucky that featured a number of people giving their reasons why they had given up on the Church.

Listening to these heartbreaking stories, it quickly became apparent that there is a common theme among all of them. For these people, they believe the church has failed to reach them where they live.

The Church has stopped being the Church.

Tales of judgement and condemnation, outright rejection, and worse have left these people doubting whether there is any validity to Christianity. I mean, just imagine how you would feel if you had invited your family to your baptismal service only to be told by the pastor that “he forgot about it”.

The Church is the Body of Christ here on earth.

Do we truly understand what that means, or do we blindly accept the statement as just another one of those religious sayings?

The Church is made up of Christ’s representatives on earth. If that is the case, how representative of Christ are we when our primary purpose is to hand out judgment? How well are we representing Jesus when our churches are known as places of condemnation instead of love?

Speaking with those outside the Church, we hear that our churches have become places of rejection for all who do not look or act the part. Seriously, how many of our churches actually reflect the community in which they reside?

Much to the angst of many, I as well as a few others have been saying for some time now that the Church is broken. It is broken because those who are supposed to be the leaders of it do not know Him. If they knew Him they would go beyond the four walls of their castles and see how much hurt there is in their community.

And they would do something about it.

They most certainly would be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Because LOVE is the greatest motivator of all.

If they knew Him they would reach out, not with angry words of criticism and judgement, but in compassion and LOVE.

Ah yes…Love.

What if our churches actually believed and practiced LOVE?

‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

What if our churches actually believed and practiced this?

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

What if our churches actually believed and practiced this?

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.’  I Cor.13:1-3

What if…

What if the Church got back to being Christ’s representatives here on earth?

Here’s what I think would happen if the Church did this.

There would be a huge reduction in the problems that currently plague our society. Drug abuse, hunger, crime, divorce, abuse of all types, all would see a dramatic reduction if the Church got back to being the hands and feet of Jesus.

What if the Church somehow rediscovered the courage to LOVE those in our communities who are hopelessly trapped on the outside looking in?

What if….the Church started looking outward instead of inward?

Ron

A Wedding Invitation That Demands a Response

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Nearly everyone loves to receive an invitation to a special event. Whether it’s a family reunion, a Christmas party, or perhaps a wedding, these invitations are normally met with a high level of excitement and anticipation upon receiving them.

Of all the different types of invitations, it seems as though weddings rank at the top of the list. For some, it’s the romance that makes the day so special. For others, it’s all about seeing old friends and the opportunity to catch up on each others lives.

For a lot of people it’s all about the Big Event, especially those who are still dreaming of having their own wedding one day. Ladies especially are fascinated by weddings, and the bigger the better. Who can forget the grandeur of the royal wedding of Princess Diana for example? Princess Diana

Speaking of weddings, did you know that there is soon going to be a wedding the likes of which this world has never seen, one that YOU have been given a very special invitation to? Did you know that? Well, it’s true!  wedding invitation

Amazingly, as “over the top” as the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was, it pales in comparison to the upcoming wedding known as “The Marriage Supper of The Lamb”.

Best of all, you’ve already been sent an engraved  invitation!

You see, nearly 2000 years ago, your invitation was engraved in the hands and feet of Jesus. Cruel Roman nails left their scars, evidence for all to see that He was indeed the risen, crucified Christ. An engraving unmatched by anything the greatest artist or sculptor could ever envision.

And here is why all of that matters.

One day, all this hurting will be over. The day is soon coming when child abuse will be a forgotten horror never to be heard from again. As impossible as it may seem, the day is coming when hunger pangs will never again be felt in a little child’s belly.

Diseases of the most hideous kind will no longer have a hold on our bodies, as the day is soon to come when all sickness will disappear. Those who languish in torment and pain will one day be freed from their chains of misery.

How can this be, you ask? Listen to the words of hope and encouragement recorded by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation when he was in exile on the island of Patmos.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” ‘ Revelation 19:6-9

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Jesus bids all to come to this marriage supper. The invitation containing the nail prints of His hands has been sent out to all of humanity.

Yes, you have been sent an invitation, for Jesus leaves no one off of His guest list.

Today, you have a decision to make. The invitation that Jesus has sent demands a response.

Will you say “YES” to His invitation?

Be blessed,

Ron

Why Are We Here: Part 2

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Recently, I happened upon an online discussion about abortion. A key hot button of the discussion was that several of the more conservative participants kept referring to abortion as murder, while those from a more liberal perspective felt that using such a strong word demonstrated a lack of wisdom and compassion.

It didn’t take long before the gloves came off and the participants seemed to forget that they were on a Christian site. In short order, it got ugly. Real ugly. Words were said that certainly did not reflect the love of Christ. Feelings were hurt, and in the end nothing changed except for the fact that yet another wedge was driven between brothers and sisters in Christ.

All of which left me wondering about something. Do we not understand that the enemy excels at getting us to focus more on the things that divide us, rather than the things that bind us together? It seems that we Christians are so naive and gullible that we take the bait and swallow it before we ever have the first inkling as to what Satan is up to!

Am I the only person who thinks this way? Are the differences between us so insurmountable that even Jesus cannot bridge the gap?

Abortion has been one of the tools that Satan uses to cause division in the Church ever since it became the law of the land. Of course, he has many other tools at his disposal, but because abortion is one of those topics that people on both sides of the fence are incredibly opinionated about, it’s easy for the enemy to use it to sow discord among the brethren.

Whether you agree with abortion or not isn’t really the issue any longer. I don’t agree with it, nor do I believe it is a “right”, but then again I (unapologetically) tend to look at life through the lens of Scripture. This puts me at odds with a great many things taking place in our world today, not just abortion.

Obviously, many people, and that includes Christians, would object to my rather simplistic approach to this subject, and I have no problem with that. I happen to believe that God’s family is much larger than some of us believe it to be, and as such there is plenty of room for Christians who believe differently than I do. Insert 😊

Therefore, knowing that abortion is here to stay, is our best course of action to berate and condemn those who have an abortion, or has God called us to a higher purpose? Are we to continue down the path of division, or should we be seeking God for wisdom in how best to minister to those affected by abortion?

How would Jesus respond to the divisive issue of abortion? And of even greater importance, what would be His response to those who have had an abortion? I believe we can get a glimpse into how He would approach the subject by recalling His interaction with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Scripture reference John 8:3-11

As the story goes, a group of men brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the very act of adultery. According to the Law, she was to be stoned to death. They were hoping however that Jesus would do something contrary to the Law so that they might have an accusation against him, thus giving the religious rulers just cause to eradicate him.

The story takes a very unexpected turn however when Jesus looks at the woman’s accusers and says to them “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”. Their arrogant hearts condemned, as none of them were without sin; one by one they walk away. Can’t you just hear the stones dropping to the ground?

Jesus then looks to the woman and asks where her accusers are, to which she responds that there are none. Jesus then uttered what had to be the most gracious words this woman had ever heard. Deserving of death for her sins, Jesus tells her that neither does he condemn her, and to go and sin no more. Emphasis mine

This is how I see Jesus responding to the abortion issue. Notice that Jesus did not excuse the adulterous woman’s sins, but rather he acknowledged them for what they were, yet offered forgiveness instead of condemnation.

Jesus was much more concerned with forgiveness than punishment. Do you know why that was? It was because Jesus came to reconcile people to God. He could have delivered this woman to be stoned, but instead He offered her reconciliation! How amazing is that?

All of us have done things worthy of punishment, or worse. Some of us, like the adulterous woman, have committed sins worthy of death. Yet God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has chosen instead to forgive our sins and offer to us the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Does this give us a “free pass” so that we can do whatever we want to do without consequence? Of course not. No one gets a free pass. We must repent of our sin and turn to Jesus.

‘‘He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”.   2 Corinthians 5:17-19.  ESV

The Church has been entrusted with this message of reconciliation. We were not entrusted with a hammer of condemnation. Neither were we entrusted with the gavel of judgement.

Our ministry, our very purpose, is to extend mercy and reconciliation to a lost world that gropes in darkness. We can serve no higher purpose here on earth than to represent Jesus Christ in meekness and love to those left devastated and wounded by the poor choices they have made.

That we have made.

This world doesn’t need another argument for or against abortion. It needs the people of God to stand in the gap and offer comfort and hope to those who are struggling with issues that are bigger than they are. The world needs to see Jesus.

In all of us.

In every situation.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

Is today the day?

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“Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”  1 Chronicles 28:20   ESV

The words of King David to his son Solomon, as he was about to depart this life.

Words of…

  • encouragement
  • hope
  • promise
  • courage
  • faith

You know what I think? I think that sometimes its not only the kings sons that need to hear these words. I think everyday people like you and I need to hear words like these as well.

In these troubled days we all need to encouraged and strengthened by the Word of God.

Maybe today is the day that you speak these words into the life of someone desperate to hear that there is hope after all.

Perhaps today is a strangers day to receive a word of encouragement. Perhaps God has called you to deliver them?

Who knows, today might just be the day that you discover a new faith to overcome that which has defeated you in the past.

For all of us, let this day be one in which we are encouraged and strengthened in the Lord!

Ron

Time Out,Anyone?

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It’s amazing how cluttered our lives have become. Like the proverbial stuffed attic at your aging aunt Clara’s house, our days have become so filled with “stuff” that there’s hardly time to catch our breath. attic

The sheer number of things we cram into our days would be mind boggling to those a generation before us, incomprehensible to those just two generations ago. When you consider our ten to twelve hour work days, children’s after school activities, various appointments, and if we’re lucky a quickly assembled dinner, it’s no wonder we collapse into our beds exhausted from it all.

This time of the year of course, with its holiday planning, shopping excursions, and endless “to do” lists just seems to take it to a whole other level. And it’s very apparent that the pace of it all is taking its toll on us.

You can see it on the streets and highways as people drive ever faster and more aggressively in their hurry to get to the next thing on their list. You do understand that THEIR list is more important than yours, don’t you?

You see it in the grocery store as people rarely smile but instead offer up a face that reveals nothing remotely close to “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”. Cue the theme song from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”! Grinch

You see it at Walmart where the “greeter” doesn’t even try to greet because somehow or another he always seems to be preoccupied. Where kids are screaming for this and that and their parents want us to believe that those are actually the neighbors kids.

Who could blame anyone for wanting to run away from it all to find a moment of solace in the midst of the insanity?

Sometimes I wish I had one of those whistles that referees have hanging from their necks. Only I want a super colossal ginormous one that could be heard round the world. If I had one I would blow it a few times until I had everyone’s attention.

Then I would throw a penalty flag for “unnecessary abuse of the time God has allotted us”, and penalize all of us 15 minutes. penalty flagThat’s right, not 15 yards, but 15 minutes.

Then I would signal a 15 MINUTE TIME OUT!

A simple 15 minute time out to breathe, to catch up, to reflect. So much of this precious commodity that we call time is slipping through our fingers. Slipping away into eternity, leaving in its wake an empty vacuum of soon forgotten minutiae.

This life we live is described in scripture as a vapor (James 4:14). It doesn’t last for long when you compare it to eternity. Certainly I’m not the only one now asking where did the years go, am I?

Do yourself and your family a huge Christmas favor this year. Call a time out. You won’t be sorry you did.

‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ‘    Ephesians 5:15-16   emphasis mine

Be blessed,   Ron

 

Jerusalem, capital of Israel?

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As nearly everyone is aware by now, yesterday president Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This move sparked an immediate backlash of negativity from much of the national and international community, with promises of impending major unrest by the Palestinians.

To better understand this event, especially when viewed in the light of Scripture, we need to first understand how things got to this point. With that in mind, a little history lesson if you please.

In 1947 Israel became a state, thus fulfilling several Old Testament prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to their homeland. Amos 9:14, Ezekiel 37: 10-14, and perhaps the best known prophecy of Isaiah  66: 7-8 which foretold the birth of Israel in one day, all give clear indication that God’s chosen people Israel would one day return to their ancestral  homeland.

It was thought at that time that Jerusalem would become a city shared by multiple cultures. Remember, this was a different time in history, and optimism ran high that everyone would “play nice”.

All of that changed just one year later however when Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors. This left Jerusalem divided, with the western part of the city controlled by Israel, and the eastern part controlled by Jordan.

All of this changed in 1967 when Israel was again attacked by her neighbors, in what became known as the “six day war”. After the dust had settled, Israel had gained control of the entire city of Jerusalem, a fact that has been a major point of contention ever since.

So here’s where this really gets interesting. The U.S. embassy has always been in Tel Aviv, it has never been in Jerusalem. But did you know that a plan has been in place to move our embassy since 1989? It’s true: in 1989 Israel and America agreed to a 99 year property lease for a new embassy to be constructed in Jerusalem.

Oddly enough, since the inception of this lease, this property remains untouched to this day. Hmmmm….

You might be thinking by now who cares! What does any of this have to do with anything I care about? Well, as I said, here’s where this gets real interesting.

You see, six years later in 1995, our Congress passed a law REQUIRING America to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem! Did you know that? It seems the supporters of the law felt at that time that the U.S. should respect Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital.

I won’t even go there!

So the million dollar question then is this: why hasn’t America moved its embassy to Jerusalem before now? Several previous presidents including Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all said “no” to the moving of the embassy. Their fear has been that such a move would lead to further unrest in the region and negate any peace efforts already underway.

How do they get away with not complying with this law you ask? They simply sign a waiver every six months to “delay” the move. Sort of like what we’ve come to know as an Executive Order. Apparently it’s true, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword!

So why now, why this president, why move the embassy now after all of this time? I believe the reason is because the time is finally right to insert this particular piece of the end time’s puzzle into its proper place.

Every Christian should be aware of Jerusalem’s importance in end time events. We may not completely understand all things, and we likely do not all agree on every point. What is non-negotiable however is that the events leading up to Christ’s return center around Jerusalem.

At some point in the future, Israel is going to build a third Temple on what is called the Temple Mount. One of the purposes of this new Temple will be so that daily animal sacrifices can be re-instituted. The Antichrist will ultimately defile this place as well.

As it stands currently, this cannot happen because the Temple Mount compound is not under Jewish control. Israel controls all access to the TM through eleven gates, but the compound itself is under Islamic control. Obviously, something has to give here.

For those unaware, the Temple Mount is believed by Jewish scholars to be the center of the Temple Holy of Holies, the site where Solomon built the first Temple, where the second Temple referred to by Jesus was destroyed in 70 AD, and where the Third and final temple is to be built.

The importance of this site cannot be overestimated from a purely Biblical and prophetic point of view. From Wikipedia

“The Temple Mount,“Mount of the House of God, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif “the Noble Sanctuary”, is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Herodian walls and gates with additions dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.”

I have no doubt that if America does actually move its embassy to Jerusalem, it will create a firestorm heard all around the world. Every one of its Arab neighbors will rattle their sabers, with Iran and possibly the Soviet Union threatening all out nuclear war.

In fact, I believe there will be nuclear war in the Middle East, as Damascus is turned into a “heap of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1). Rather than be overran and defeated by all of it’s enemies, Israel will deploy it’s “Samson Option” of expending its nuclear warheads, thus causing Damascus to cease from being a city.

Of course, all of this is yet to come. No one knows the precise calendar of God, as we are given bits and pieces of coming events without specific dates and times. It is exciting however to be alive and witnessing these end time events!

We are told to watch and pray. We are also instructed to be wise and redeem the time. My prayer is that Christians will focus not on the politics of a Jerusalem capital, but on the spiritual implications instead.

As for today, I’m just glad to know who Jesus is!

Ron

 

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