On January 24, 2022 I wrote … “In Case You’re Interested”

 

In that blog I talked about this book, Charter of the Christian Faith. I said that it would be beneficial to whoever wanted to enhance their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is absolutely true.

After hearing from many folks commenting on it and how it helped them, I took the privilege of writing a second edition. I refocused the message and gave the book a new title. Also, in order for readers to get the updated edition and not be confused with the two books, I took Charter of the Christian Faith off the market.

I replaced it with the new edition, Truth not meant to be Hidden, pictured here, and I’ve kept the price the same. This is a power-packed message you might never have heard before. And it does reveal truth that has long been hidden.

You’ll find the book at: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=S.+Eugene+Linzey&i=stripbooks&crid=NO0PDTQR3CQL&sprefix=s.+eugene+linzey%2Cstripbooks%2C107&ref=nb_sb_noss.

If you copy that url address and paste it into your browser, it will make finding this book very easy. It was published just last week, and I believe you will want to read it. You will see life in a way you’ve never seen it before.

The reason I wrote the book in the first place is although I know that all Christians go to heaven, much of the Church seemed to have forgotten how Jesus wanted a Christian to live while on earth. I didn’t see much difference in many people’s lives when they became a Christian or joined a church. On Sundays, most people talked about the Lord, sang, bowed heads in prayer, listened to the pastor – most of them – but something was missing.

Why would the Church of Jesus Christ—including all divisions and denominations–be confused as to what the Christian life is all about? Simply because I know many Christians who don’t seem to understand the Faith they claim to believe. Going to church and joining it is not the same as understanding the faith.

The Church, including each member of it, needs to keep in mind that our goal in life is not merely to get to heaven. Our goal in life, both on earth and in heaven, is to be a member of Jesus’ team and grow the Kingdom of God throughout eternity. It is by becoming an adopted child of God, and growing into a mature spokesman for God, that we can fully take our place in the Kingdom. That is why we need to know and understand the teaching in Matthew 5:1-12.

This book, Truth not meant to be Hidden, addresses this topic.

You Have Faith? In What?

In 1979 when I worked for a car dealership, a man walked up to me one day and requested an automobile. He listed the specifications: make & model, color, engine type and size, what he would pay for it, and all the rest. And he wanted it within two weeks. I chuckled and said, “You won’t get it at that price.”

Waxing eloquently about his faith, he said, “I told God what I wanted and I’m holding God to His word. The Bible says God will give us the desires of our hearts, and this is my desire. Therefore, I know I’ll get what I ask. And I want you to receive a blessing by getting it for me.”

I was flabbergasted to think a puny human could be so brash as to “hold God to His word.” God isn’t on trial. We humans are the flaky ones, and God is holding US accountable. We don’t have a right to demand anything of God.

When I asked, “Is your faith based on what you want, or on what God wants for you?” he retorted, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

I told him although he was sincere in his belief, sincerity doesn’t make something true; rather, truth substantiates faith, or exposes ignorance. Truth either validates or invalidates a person’s sincerity. So I asked him again about the object of his faith.

He laughed at my apparent ignorance, and said, “Scripture says ‘you have not because you ask not.’ I WILL get that car, everything I want on it, and at my stated price; but someone other than you will be blessed for getting it for me.” With that, he walked away.

I have many friends who tell God what they want. They say if they truly believe it, they will get it. They also tell me that not receiving what they want reveals a lack of faith.

I agree with Scripture but I disagree with their application of Scripture.

Although many of these folk have a true love for Jesus, they are taking those verses out of context. So what is the Biblical teaching?

I think some of you just tuned me out. But for those who are still reading, the interesting part comes next.

James 1:6 says to ask without wavering, and James 4:3 says we don’t get what we ask because we ask for the wrong things. So, let’s go to Jesus’ words.

Jesus said in Mark 11:24 – “Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.” His immediate audience knew what He meant; it is we new-comers who missed it.

Jesus stated it more fully to another audience in John 14:12-13. “The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.”

Two phrases stand out: “in My name” and “brings glory to the Father.” And this is where the rubber meets the road.

“In My name” means to ask for what Jesus would ask; and that includes 1) asking in the manner and attitude in which Jesus would ask, 2) asking specifically for what Jesus would ask, and 3) accepting the timing of God’s response. Jesus’ continuous attitude was, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, we will have Jesus’ attitude.

“Bringing glory to the Father” means that the answer to the request is to glorify God – not to primarily benefit us. Jesus never asked for a new donkey, a faster horse, or a better place to sleep. Those are not bad things, but that wasn’t what Jesus needed. God promised to meet our needs – not necessarily our wants. Psalm 37:4 instructs us that if we are in tune with God, He will give us the proper desires – the desires of our hearts.

Faith in God is not self-centered, but God-centered. True faithfulness is purposely living according to God’s word, and is revealed by a life dedicated to the Lord – not necessarily by things we have.

That man returned a month later to show me his new car. But when I pointed that many of the features he demanded were missing and that he paid about $2,000 more than he told God he would pay, he shrugged and said, “Well, I guess you can’t have it all.”

Perhaps he woke up to the truth of “asking in Jesus’ name” and maybe he didn’t. But dear reader, I hope your faith is in Jesus Christ, not in what you want. I hope your desire is to bring glory and honor to God, not merely to make yourself happy.

May God bless you as you learn what it means to truly honor our Lord.

Bible Versions

The first time I was asked about my preferred version of the Bible, I said I preferred the KJV – the King James Version. I was in high school and had only recently been introduced to the Amplified and the New American Standard versions.

But in the past 56 years (my entire married life) I have studied out of numerous versions. When someone recently asked me the question of my preferred version, I told him, “I prefer the NCV – New Century Version. However, the KJV is the one I take with me wherever I go simply because I grew up with it and my Bible memorization came from the KJV.”

Some time ago a man told me that I was wrong for not sticking with the KJ because, he claimed, it was the only accurate Bible in the world. I tried to discuss the topic with him, but he wouldn’t consider my point of view. I finally said, “In that case, you have just presented one of the greatest miracles in the history of the world.”

Asking what it was, I responded, “If the King James Bible, published in 1611 AD (or CE), is the only real Bible, the Christian church existed for almost 1,600 years without a Bible and the Jewish Church existed for about 3,500 years without a Bible. Isn’t that amazing?”

He hadn’t thought about that. Many others haven’t thought about it, either. But neither had he thought about the fact that the KJV is only English. If the KJV were the only real Bible, no other language group in the world would have a true Bible.

With that said, people should not spend so much time creating more English versions. Instead, they should invest money to translate Bibles for the ethnic groups who have no Bible in their language.

I remember being in Bible studies when the leader asked, “How do you interpret this Scripture?” Since those studies didn’t involve linguistic experts, the question didn’t make any sense to me. The leader should have asked, “How do you apply this verse?” or “What does this verse convey to you?” or “What is the Lord saying to you through this verse?”

Two major problems most people have of interpreting Scriptures are: 1) many people, if not most, do not understand the history and culture of the Biblical era, and 2) most people do not understand many of the idioms and idiomatic phrases the original authors used. 

There are books to help us with culture and history, but idioms and idiomatic phrases trip us up. (That’s an idiomatic phrase and might be difficult for someone to understand and translate properly 500 years from now.)

A current example of translating idiomatic phrases is the following. Mark 14:38, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” was translated into Russian by an American, then retranslated into English by a Russian. The result was “The Vodka is strong, but the meat is rotting.” Both non-Christian translators tried to be literally correct, but they missed the intent.

Some of the problems generated today are by many church leaders and Bible scholars who normally filter the Bible text through their own cultural background. But the only proper way of understanding Scripture is through the context of the original writers who wrote the Bible.

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg (professor of Jewish Studies for Christians in Tel Aviv, Israel) said in his book, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, “The proper context for interpreting the Bible is the context of the biblical writers – the context that produced the Bible. Every other context is alien to the biblical writers and, therefore, to the Bible. Yet there is a pervasive tendency in the believing Church to filter the Bible through creeds, confessions, and denominational preferences.”

That’s why we need Bible scholars, pastors, and teachers who have studied the culture and language of the Bible times to help us.

No matter how we cut it (idiomatically speaking), it is dynamically important that we read the Bible. Study it. Apply the truths and morals to your life. Honor the Lord Jesus Christ by the way you live. Studying the Bible will help you do that.

Lessons From the Flock – Security

Two of my chickens don’t like to be picked up, but something was different today.

I prepared their mix of goodies which consists of whole-grained rolled-oats, dried meal worms, cut-up apples, bread bits, and scratch. Water and the 16% protein meal called Crumbles are available 24/7.

As I tossed the mix out for them, Elona and Baby wanted to be picked up. These two, and Goldie, are the ones who always want to be loved on. I picked up Baby, then Elona. But this time, Whitey and Red Head came up. That’s unusual because they are the more elusive ones.

As I held and talked with Elona – she was explaining life to me – Whitey stood at my feet.

“You want up, Whitey?” She took a step closer.

I put Elona down and scooped up Whitey. She cocked her head, looked at me from both sides of her head, and talked – but not freely as do Baby, Elona, and Goldie. They chatter with me, but Whitey merely said a few syllables. (I’m not joking.)

Then Goldie walked up and began pecking on my britches. That’s her signal to pick her up. Elona does that, too.

I put Whitey down and scooped up Goldie, and she began telling me what she’s been doing lately. I then felt Red Head bump against me as she was looking for more worms. I put Goldie down and picked up Red Head.

She squirmed a bit but didn’t try to get away. However, she wouldn’t talk at all. Red Head merely looked at me as if to say, “Are you happy now that I let you pick me up?” When she looked at the ground and wiggled her legs, I put her down, and she continued her search for worms. I had an extra worm in my hands, so I said, “Red Head – you want this?”

Without hesitation she jumped up, and with outstretched neck grabbed it with her beak. At that movement, the others came running. They wanted it! Do you know the chicken’s philosophy of life? Here it is: If I have it, it’s mine. If you have it, it’s mine. And if I had it but you took it, it’s still mine!

So, I threw out another handful of dried meal worms; that generated another feeding-frenzy.

I often hold all five of the chickens – no more than three at a time, of course. I watch over my flock because (this may sound strange) I love them. I care for them and feed them very well. After losing the rooster (Fred) because I forgot to lock the coop, I always make sure they are safe and secure at night. They, in turn, come running to me every time I go out the back door. Again, as strange as it sounds, these babies love me – at least, as much as chickens know how to love.

Do you know that God loves us and wants to take care of us? But He does much more than I can do for my birds. I watch over my flock on a limited scale at best, but our Creator-Savior is a good shepherd and watches over His flock 24/7. He knows what’s happening with us every second of the day. He desires to “hold us” and care for us, and He goes out of His way to keep us safe and secure – if we let Him.

Amazingly, God is also limited in what He can do for us. What’s the limitation?

We are the limiting factor.

If my chickens wanted to, they could fly over the fence and escape my protective, nurturing care. They would be independent to roam freely. But they don’t. They stay with me, they trust me, they’re secure with me.

But many humans don’t have the wisdom my chickens have, and they run from God. Desiring independence, they “fly over the fence.” They fly from safety and into danger. They run from plenty, and into poverty. That’s not wise.

John 14:21 tells us that whoever loves the Lord – those who listen to and obey Him – are the ones to whom God the Father will reveal Himself.

If we run to God, and remain in His protective care, we can receive the “mix of goodies” that He wants to give us – in addition to His sustaining care available 24/7.

God loves you and desires to communicate with you. Study the Bible, learn to know Jesus, and find your security in and with Him. You may be surprised at the results.

What’s the Basis for Your Faith?

The title of this Reflection is a question I’ve been asked several times. Years ago, I often said: “The Bible is the basis for my faith.” But my answer has changed. Now I joyfully say, “Eyewitnesses, and the empty tomb where Jesus was buried is the basis for my faith.”

What’s the difference? To answer that, I’ll use a Protestant version of the King James Bible.

This version of the KJV Bible (printed around 1885) has 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 788,258 words in the text. It contains stories and narratives that relate information such as numbers of people killed in numerous battles, lists of kings, priests, and prophets, and genealogies of various people.

But that information, and a lot more, is based on various dating and numbering methods. For example: some cultures listed the second year of the king’s reign as the first year simply because some kings were killed before the first year was complete. Sometimes the second year of a baby’s life was counted as its first because 1st-year mortality was rampant. Sometimes, a king and a co-regent reigned simultaneously, yet their individual reigns seem to be listed consecutively.

Various versions of the Bible – even various KJ versions – have different word and verse counts. Other things are documented differently, depending on the original ethnic scribes or subsequent translators.

All of that, plus more, give people opportunities to call the Bible wrong – therefore, impugning the integrity of the Bible – which, consequently, tends to impugn the integrity of those of us who believe the Holy Bible.

Therefore, I no longer say the Bible is the basis for my faith because detractors, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and adherents of other religions think they have grounds to prove the Bible wrong.

I now rely on eyewitnesses and the empty tomb as the basis for my faith. As surely as the person on the right of this blog witnessed the US Navy Blue Angles flying over Duncanville, Texas, there were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection and of the empty tomb in which He had been buried. That means Jesus rose from the dead. How can you argue against a person who predicted that he would die, how he would die, by whose promptings he would die, by whose hands he would die, and that he would come back to life in three days – and it all come true? Are you going to call him a liar? Not me; especially since much of it was also predicted centuries earlier by others.

How can a person debate that? Jesus either rose from the dead, or he didn’t. It isn’t “The Bible” I have to believe – it is eyewitnesses I believe. Witnesses such as Matthew, Peter, John, and others who documented their observations. They had no idea that their writings might be saved for people to read centuries later. However, because their observations and stories were found to be authentic, they were incorporated into a group of books that became the Holy Bible.

Merriam-Webster defines the word bible as: a publication that is preeminent especially in authoritativeness or wide readership. Many bibles abound such as the Machinists’ Bible, Deer Hunters’ Bible, Flower Gardener’s Bible, the Holy Bible, and many more.

The topic of Jesus’ rising from the dead has been found by archeologists in ancient Roman documents because it was a political concern for the emperors. Therefore, it is worth our time discussing it, but not arguing over it.

But I don’t blindly accept the Holy Bible. We can believe it or we don’t have to believe it; but there isn’t much sense in arguing over it. The fact is that the Holy Bible is not just a spiritual book; it is one of the oldest and greatest history books in existence. It’s also a matter of faith. But faith goes both ways: you either have faith to believe Jesus rose from the dead, or you have faith that he didn’t rise from the dead. You have faith to believe the Bible, or you have faith not to believe it. You have faith to believe in God or you have faith not to believe. Everyone’s life is based on faith in something or in someone.

The historicity of Jesus living and dying has been proven by non-biblical sources, so that is not the issue. His raising from the dead is the issue. But you’ll also discover that Jesus’ resurrection has been proven by atheists and agnostics. Of course, they became believers in Christ once they verified the deity of Jesus Christ.

Not only does the empty tomb provide me with answers for this life, it also substantiates my faith for eternal life. And I ask you to turn to Jesus Christ and live for Him.

Identification Generates Change

I’m sure you were asked as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As I did, you most likely had a ready answer. I wanted to be a Navy Chaplain like my father. Many of my friends gave answers such as: a policeman, fireman, doctor, race car driver, a movie star, and so forth. In the 1970s, two other common answers were: a rock singer or an astronaut.

Why do kids respond like that? The simple is: identification. Identifying with something or someone we admire gives us a sense of belonging, a sense of importance.

As a Californian, I liked the San Francisco 49er football team. When the 49ers won a game, “I” won. When they succeeded, I succeeded. When they lost, I lost. I’ll never forget when WE won OUR 5th Super Bowl Ring! Had I ever met any of them? No, but what difference did that make? I liked Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, and Jerry Rice.

But I truly admired my father, and I strongly identified with him. I always liked dad better than the 9ers, anyway.

I also learned to admire other men who talked and sung about Jesus, and in high school a southern gospel quartet from Mississippi became my focus: The Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Not having met them, I referred to them by their first names, and sung along with the records I bought. I learned all four parts of all their songs and learned to sound like them – somewhat. When I finally met them near Boston, Massachusetts, my spirits soared!

A few others whom I admired and wanted to emulate were the Apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Graham, Paul Harvey, and Dr. J. C. Holsinger (Carol’s and my history professor in the university).

Identification with a person, group, or event generates change. Why? We mentally gravitate toward the object of our focus.

I tend to think like dad. I’m for a unified nation as was Lincoln. I focus on the Bible like Billy Graham. I learned to sing like several of the Blackwoods. Fifty years ago, I could sing tenor similar to Bill Shaw; but as the years passed, I began singing bass similar to J.D. Sumner – but not nearly as low as he did. I learned to study like Dr. Holsinger. I learned to tell stories similar to Paul Harvey. I learned to think theologically and philosophically like Paul.

Since identification generates change, identifying with these men gave me direction in life.

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines identification, in part, as: “A largely unconscious process whereby an individual models thoughts, feelings, and actions after those attributed to an object that has been incorporated as a mental image.” The person changes as the thoughts and feelings become a part of his life and his worldview.

An extreme form of emulation is idolatry and leads us away from God. But admiration, properly applied, is beneficial if it leads us toward God, maturity, and wholesome living.

But there is one more person with whom I have identified, and who has changed my life more than any other: Jesus Christ.

My favorite quote from Billy Graham is: “The Bible Says!” So, let’s go there.

John 14:23 says – “If people love me, they will obey my teaching” (NCV).

Romans 6:4 says – “When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared his death. So, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the wonderful power of the Father, we also can live a new life” (NCV).

So, obedience is another way of identifying with the Lord. Obedience includes actions, lifestyle, and manner of speaking. And we find that water baptism is our statement to the world that we have totally identified with Jesus: in his life, death, and resurrection.

Remembering that we mentally gravitate toward the object of our focus, I have learned to focus my life on Jesus Christ. I know who I am, and to whom I belong.

Some who call themselves Christian but who do not live according to Jesus’ teachings, have not identified with Him. If your life – words, actions, lifestyle, attitudes – does not openly verify identification with the Lord, there is a question as to the sincerity of your faith.

Identification with Christ grants strength, security, belonging, power. Not power to rule people, but power to overcome evil and spiritual darkness. Those who identify with Christ receive authority to become adopted children of God. Identification with Jesus will help us throughout eternity.

Who do you admire or look up to? With whom do you identify? As you contemplate your eternal existence, will your role-models help you or hinder you? Think about it. Pray about it. Jesus is ready and willing to help you.

Two Trees … Two Lives

As we walked through the Redwood Forest in Northern California, we were awed by the beauty, the grandeur of these magnificent trees that average 240 feet in height. I grew up in Southern California but rarely did my parents have opportunity to go that far north. Eight hundred miles was a long way in the 1950s, and I saw the Redwoods only one time in my childhood.

But this was 2018, Carol & I were on our year-long jaunt around the US of A, and childhood memories came flooding through the canals of my mind. On November 14 we visited the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and on December 8, we visited the Calaveras Big Trees State Park – in the snow, of course – with our son, Ron, and his family.

There are basically two divisions of giant Redwoods: Giant Sequoias (sequoiadendron gigantem) are found in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Coastal Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) grow near the Northern California coast.

Some Giant Sequoias grow 300 feet tall, have a diameter up to 35 feet (that’s almost 110 feet in circumference!), have a root system which can cover several acres, and be more than 3,000 years old. For history buffs: a tree that old sprouted about 100 years after Charlemagne died, the timeframe when Eric the Red (Viking) established the first colony in Greenland, and the beginning of the Mayan Post-Classical period. The Coastal Redwoods can grow 370 feet tall – the tallest trees in the world – with trunks up to about 30 feet in diameter (95 feet in circumference).

Loggers had cut about 90% of these colossal trees for housing, furniture, etc.; but various conservation groups appealed to Congress to preserve the Redwoods, and the state and national park systems succeeded in rescuing the remaining 10%.

 As Carol and I walked among the trees, we saw a number of them that looked as though two or three had been planted together. Standing very close together with 8-foot diameter trunks, it looked as though someone had poured liquid bark on the trees ten feet off the ground which solidified, connecting the trees. Looking at this photo carefully, you can see where the bark has joined the two trees.

Yes, they had grown up together – the seeds having landed about ten feet apart. As seedlings, ten feet is a long distance. But as they grew and their trunks began touching, a phenomenon called inosculation took place. This funny word means to connect or join; to become one or make continuous; to unite.

As each of them grew in width at about an inch per year, they began touching in 120 years. As the trunks or branches rubbed together and wore off the bark, the live fibrous tissues touched each other and began intertwining. They didn’t get infected, and the trees became one plant, sharing nutrients and water.

Depending on how close trees are, either the bark joins and becomes one covering around both trees, or the tree trunks themselves physically join and become one tree. The trees that fuse together like that are called Hugging Trees. And together, they are stronger than individual trees.

Trees and bushes are not the only organisms that experience inosculation. This interesting phenomenon takes place when a person receives a skin graft. Through inosculation, the blood vessels and skin tissues connect, intertwine, and become one.

As I stood in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park gazing at these two magnificent works of God that had become one, I began thinking about my relationship with Carol.

We were born in different states. Eighteen years later we met in Southern California in college. Both of us lived on campus, and – attracted to each other – we saw each other in classes, during meals in the cafeteria, and in the choir.

Married August 22, 1966, we began growing together – yes, including rubbing each other the wrong way sometimes. But we didn’t allow the irritations, the inconveniences, the frustrations, and occasional anger to infect us as we wore off the rough edges; and over the years we became one in many ways.

We share the same house, the same joys, the same children, the same grandchildren, the same church, the same God. We have the same basic goals in life. We even react in much the same way, and at times spontaneously come up with the same ideas. We’ve grown strong together.

Two trees…two lives. It’s amazing how two individuals can develop a strong marriage if they stay together, weather the storms of life, and learn to truly love each other.

The Positive Side of Life

Have you noticed that I like to be joyful, happy? I like to laugh and have a good time. I learned that from my dad who used to say, “We’re only going this way once; we might as well make the most of it!”  Of course, Dad meant that within a totally Christian lifestyle.

Should we be serious? Yes, but we don’t have to somber to be serious. Just after the North lost a major battle in the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln told a joke in Congress and was challenged by his Secretary of State.

“Mr. President, don’t you think you ought to be serious in a time like this?”

President Lincoln replied, “If I took everything serious, I would lose my mind.” Lincoln understood that a little humor alleviated a lot of mental turmoil.

We sometimes forget that God’s original intention for all mankind was to be joyful, happy while we fulfill His will for our lives – even if we encountered difficulties.

Do you know that the word joy, its derivatives, and related words are in the Bible over 250 times? God approves of joy and happiness as we serve Him. One of the words is rejoicing which is “celebration of thanksgiving; making happy sounds; laughing, having a good time; being cheerful.”

Proverbs 15:13 tells us that a cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

Proverbs 18:14 informs us that the will to live can get you through sickness, but life is difficult with a broken spirit.

Proverbs 15:15 tells it from the opposite viewpoint: “Every day is hard for those who suffer, but a happy heart is like a continual feast.” In other words, even if we’re poor and are struggling, a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” And I have found that a cheerful disposition is good for our health, but gloom and doom leave us bone-tired.

If you find that the cares of life are getting you down, remember the prayer of Francis of Assissi. It goes something like this:

          Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can change;       

          Grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change;

          And grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

Keep in mind that facing each situation with a cheerful disposition can make the difference between success or failure.

A truly joyful person is one who can enjoy the scenery even on a detour. Some of Carol’s and my more enjoyable traveling moments have been on routes we didn’t plan on, and it happened again just today. When things seem to go wrong, we try to find the good in it.

Normally, joyful people are healthier, they are more creative, they are more alert, and are more fun to be around. Why? Joyful people enjoy life! And joy is contagious. (So is depression, and that’s a problem!)

Joyful people don’t usually get stopped by negative influences, but more freely release or express the creativity that our Lord placed within them. Joyful people are generally more productive because they are prone to stay focused on what God wants them to do in this life.

It says in Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That last phrase could be translated, “…for the joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”

Forget Murphy’s Law that says, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That’s pessimistic and can slow you down. Instead, think about how you can make things right.

Let’s focus on and dwell on the last part of Romans 8:28, “…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  

So let the joy of the Lord saturate your bones, your mind, your spirit. If something seems to go wrong, turn to God and ask Him for understanding and guidance; and then you be the human element that turns things around for the better.

Join me on the positive side of life.

Jesus Overruled Physics and Politics

Before Jesus was born, His title was “The Word.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 tells us that the Word became a human and lived among us. God, the Word, was born under the name of Yehoshua (the Lord is Salvation) and translated into English as Joshua. Translated from Hebrew into Greek, his name is Iesous, and then translated into English is Jesus.

Historical records verify that Jesus was born in Bethlehem; lived in Egypt, Nazareth, and Galilee (and several other places), and His vocation was carpenter and stone mason. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus was no wimp. Although He had a gentle disposition, He was muscular, physically tough, and had a will of iron. Those who were hurting or oppressed received gentle looks of compassion, but some of His adversaries shriveled under his steely glare!

Jesus had no identity crisis. He knew who He was and knew why He left heaven to live on earth. This was verified in Luke 2:48-49. Joseph and Mary were looking for Jesus and found Him in the temple bewildering the teachers of the law. When Mary asked twelve-year-old Jesus why He didn’t stay with them, Jesus responded, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus never did anything worthy of execution, so why was He crucified?

A sacrifice had to be made to rescue us from the black hole of oblivion called hell so that we could live with God forever in heaven. But to complete this liberating task, the sacrifice could not remain dead. Only God could accomplish this other-worldly task, and that’s why Jesus came.

Historical records verify that multi-thousands of people, including the Roman Emperor, heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, although most folks didn’t want to believe it. When the guards told the leaders of the Sanhedrin that Jesus had left the tomb, the leaders paid them to lie and say that Jesus’ disciples took His body from the tomb while they were sleeping. But that lie was absurd. Any reasonable child understands that we don’t know what’s happening while we’re asleep.

In 1546 AD, John Heywood said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” That reminds me of the verse in Jeremiah 5:21, “Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear” (NLT). Both Jeremiah and John were speaking to people who refused to believe the obvious: those who closed their eyes and ears to reality. But Jesus was seen by many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of people during the forty days after He left the tomb. Jesus is alive!

Myths and legends have been created by those who refused to accept the fact that Jesus is alive, and I’ve been asked a number of times what happened to Him? The greatest history book in the world – the Bible – answers that question.

In Acts 1:9-11, after Jesus gave parting instructions to the hundreds of people standing with Him on the hill, He left earth under his own power. The verses say, “…as they were watching, He was lifted up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. As He was going, they were looking into the sky. Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go’” (NCV).

Not only did innumerable people see Jesus for forty days after He walked out of the tomb, but hundreds of people also watched Jesus overrule gravity and ascend into the sky. As He disappeared into the clouds the angel told them how Jesus would return.

Return? How? Why?

Jesus was not ruled by the laws of physics nor the pressures of politics, and the same will be true at His next appearance. Accompanied by myriads of angels and people, Jesus will come out of the sky under His own power. He will end the prevailing wars and put an end to all evil empires, corrupt democracies, and inadequate kingdoms. Jesus will set up His own Kingdom, and those whom He calls righteous will rule with him.

This is not the end of the story: read the Bible for more.

Legislating Morality?

Some time ago, a friend and I were talking about our nation’s problems and how they could be solved. His position was that new laws need to be created for every new situation, and I said multitudinous comprehensive laws were already in place – but needed to be enforced.

When the discussion turned to morality, Henry became agitated and blurted out, “You can’t legislate morality!”

Surprised, I asked what he meant.

“Outlawing alcohol – you know, prohibition – in the 1920s didn’t work; outlawing gambling didn’t work; and outlawing prostitution, drugs, and other activities won’t work; so we need to change the laws. Those things should be legalized so the government can collect taxes on it all. You just can’t legislate morals!”

But the young man had no idea what he just said. It takes legislation to make something either legal or illegal, and our government has legislated morals since our nation’s founding.

Morals is defined as: relating to or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct; the distinction between right and wrong; concerned with the judgment of right or wrong human action and character.

By the way, most verdicts that judges or juries give are comments on legislated morality. Who or what made the distinction between right and wrong? Let’s look into it.

What about taking a life? Homicide has commonly been called 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree murder, and it’s against the law in the US to murder someone. What about theft? On the books we have petit larceny, then four degrees of grand larceny: also, against the law. What about lying? Perjury is spelled out in the US Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 79, § 1621. You guessed it: illegal.

Nevertheless, lying is prevalent in our society – especially in government and the mass media. However, some rename it and call it disinformation.

Here are several disinformational methods:

Telling a big lie openly, then retracting it quietly. Giving erroneous reports as fact. In a valid report, omitting data needed to make a proper and correct evaluation. Quoting others out of context to give an erroneous viewpoint. Over-publicizing a news item in order to ignore or cover up something more important. Denigrating the integrity of one who is telling the truth. In all situations, disinformation is a means of hiding truth.

Let’s see now: morals is the distinction between right and wrong. And we just identified three moral activities which we have outlawed by legislation. Murder, stealing, and lying are also prohibited in the 6th, 8th, and 9th of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 34); so our government does agree with Scripture – sometimes.

Obviously, we can and do legislate morals; so the question is: what morals do we choose to legislate? The answer: many! We legislate (make law) many good, honorable ideas; but we also approve anti-Biblical and anti-American laws that nullify constitutional rights.

Ravi Zacharias, on his radio program titled Let My People Think, said, “The non-Christian world politicizes morality while they moralize politics.” He is correct. Some of our politicians favor good morality and truth while others outright disdain truth. What baffles me is that sometimes our leaders and judges listen to a small minority on the fringe of society and make or break laws that override the desires and morals of the voting majority. What kind of democracy is that?

We also have a built-in dichotomy in our government. Some well-known government officials can commit crimes and lie about it, and we overlook it; while other well-known officials commit crimes and lie about it, and are prosecuted. Yet other officials are prosecuted when there is no evidence for prosecution. The morality of the issue seems to depend on what side of the political fence the official is on. They moralize politics.

However, if it’s a hate crime, that is bad! Amazingly, that is a double-legislation of morals.

Friends, we legislate morals all the time. But we have a problem. Often we’re outlawing wholesome, healthy core values, while approving anti-Biblical values and morals. This goes against our national heritage and weakens our nation: both spiritually and politically.

Morals – right versus wrong – is both a Biblical and political issue. Galatians 6:7 says, “Don’t be misled. You can’t ignore or mock God and get away with it.” Therefore, if we don’t revert to using Scripture for our legislative standard as we formerly did, our national problems will become more profound than they are now. It’s time to wake up and turn back to God.

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