51 and fading……. Saturday, Nov 20 2010 

He was fifty one years old. He had never been this weary. He was weary in body, but even more weary in his soul.

His life dream was not happening. He had failed to reach his goal in the last four tries.

Questions bombarded his mind. Did he do the right thing? Should he quit? Maybe life was not worth it all anymore!

To make it worse he was all alone.

He walked and thought and brooded. On the horizon was a big city. It was a sinful city. Should he try again? Maybe just once more!

700,000 people were over there in the new city only 100 years old. He was aware it was not an easy city. Soldiers, merchants, slaves and prostitutes.

As he trod toward the outskirts he made what he thought might be his last important decision of life, after all he was despairing of life.

Slowly he stopped as the people on the road drifted by. He was just another traveller on this fine Roman road. Some where along the outside of the metropolis, Paul made a decision.

He decided, I will try again. The past four failures will not keep me from trying again.

Only this time I am making a decision.

This time I will only preach Jesus Christ and him crucified!

He had no fore boding that he was about to do what no other man in history would ever do again.

In the next eighteen months he would establish the largest church in the history of the world.

Corinth, the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the hardest challenge of Paul’s three journeys, would fall before the great apostle.

Paul at his lowest, was Jesus at His best.

God picked up His human crayon and drew a picture for all millenniums.

When I am weak, then am I strong.

It really isn’t about you after all.

Would you just let Jesus be the artist and you be the canvas?

Thanks for reading today!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Pontius Pilate Thursday, Nov 18 2010 

Pontius Pilate

His name is infamous.

Many people know his name.

Millions know his deed.

He judged Jesus of Nazareth.

Like so many who are infamous or famous, few actually know who he was.

Most would say something like this….He was the Roman governor who passed judgment on Jesus to be crucified. That is all most people know of him. Because of his act of judgment, he is viewed as a terrible person and goes down in history as a rogue.

How did he arrive in the land of palestine in the first place? What happened to Herod Archelaus?

The story of the land of Palestine is long and bloody. For centuries this fabled land was a pawn in the hand of world powers. Kicked back and forth like a backwater, unimportant prize to the most recent conqueror.

Some two centuries before the arrival of Jesus, a family in this land got tired of the iron heel of the conqueror and began to fight back. They became known as the Macabees.

Part politician, part freedom fighters, their only aim in life was to free their land of subjugation. They fought, they bartered, and eventually they won. Well, kind of.

Eventually there came of this family a very subtle and talented man who began a political ascent with the Romans. He was known in history as Herod the great.

Herod was a patriot. No price was to high to achieve his goals of promoting himself and the land he loved. He cajoled and finagled until he persuaded the Caesar to appoint him as King of the Jews.

From his new position he began to push, shove, and drag Israel into being modern. His greatest achievement was the rebuilding of the temple that was standing when Jesus Christ came.

His most heinous crime was the slaughter of all the babies two years old and younger in the attempt to prevent any king from usurping the throne he had worked a lifetime to secure from Rome. (10,000 or more babies were slain).

He died in 4BC. At his death he followed Alexander the Great’s example of dividing your kingdom into several parts. He gave his lands to his three sons. To Phillip he gave the eastern provinces. To Herod Antipas he gave Galilee and Samaria. To Herod Archelaus he gave Judea.

Archelaus ruled the area of Judea for about ten years. He was such a cruel and ruthless man that even Rome could not stomach his reign. Rome used it’s imperial jurisdiction and removed him from his throne and appointed a governor.

Caesar appointed Quirnius Caponius, then Ambivius, then Annius Rufus, then Valerius Gratus, and finally Pontius Pilate.

Pilate ruled from 26 ad until 36 ad. Pilate proved to be so cruel Rome removed him from power. But not before history placed him in the spotlight.

For one brief moment there he stands. All of history will condemn him for this one moment. His name is forever associated with consummate evil.

Three to six years later Rome removed him from power and history says Pilate committed suicide soon thereafter.

What man in history is so well known yet so unknown?

This fact screams to me, it isn’t about Pilate, it is about Jesus.

Without Jesus, pilate fades off the world scene and is never heard of.

Because of his intersection with Jesus, he is immortal.

The only way your life will ever have meaning and memory is if it becomes connected with Jesus.

Thanks for reading today.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Why David? Why? Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

‘Why, David, why?”

The place was another nameless cave.

The men stirred about restlessly.

Gradually, and very uneasily, they began to settle in.

All were as confused as Joab, who had finally voiced their questions.

Joab wanted some answers.

Now!

David should have seemed embarrassed or at least defensive.

He was neither.

He was looking past Joab like a man viewing another realm which only he could see.

Joab walked directly in front of David, looking down on him, and began roaring his frustrations.

“Many times he almost speared you to death in his castle.

I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

Finally, you ran away.

Now for years you have been nothing but a rabbit for him to chase.

Furthermore, the whole world believes the lies he tells about you.

He has come, the King himself, hunting every cave, pit and hole on earth to find you and kill you like a dog.

But tonight you had him at the end of his own spear and you did nothing!

“Look at us.  We’re animals again.  Less than an hour ago you could have freed us all.  Yes, we could all be free, right now!  Free!  And Israel, too.  She would be free.  Why, David, why did you not end these years of misery?”

There was a long silence.

Men shifted again, uneasily.

They were not accustomed to seeing David rebuked.

“Because,” said David very slowly (and with a gentleness that seemed to say, ‘I heard what you asked, but not the way you asked it’), “because once, long ago, he was not mad.  He was young.  He was great.  Great in the eyes of God and men.  And it was God who made him king – God – not men.”

Joab blazed back, “But now he is mad!  And God is no longer with him.  And, David, he will yet kill you!”

This time it was David’s answer that blazed with fire.

Better he kill me than I learn his ways.

Better he kill me than I become what he is.

I will not practice his ways.

I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.

I will not avenge.

Not now.

Not ever!”

Joab stormed out into the dark.

That night men went to bed on cold, wet stone and muttered about their leader’s views.

That night angels sang and dreamed, in the afterglow of that rare, rare day, that God might yet be able to give His authority to a man who did not throw spears.

Thanks for reading today!

3 Things Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him.

He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him.

Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them.

Something was different about David.

All he did was dodge.

What can a man, especially a young man, do when the king decides to use him for target practice?

What if the young man decides not to return the compliment?

First of all, he must pretend he cannot see spears.

Even when they are coming straight at him.

Secondly, he must also learn to duck very quickly.

Lastly, he must pretend nothing at all happened.

You can easily tell when someone has been hit by a spear.

He turns a deep shade of bitter.

David never got hit.

Gradually, he learned a very well kept secret.

He discovered three things that prevented him from ever being hit.

One, never learn anything about the fashionable, easily mastered art of spear throwing.

Two, stay out of the company of all spear throwers.

Three, keep your mouth tightly closed.

In this way, spears will never touch you, even when they pierce your heart.

Thanks for reading today!

Spear Throwers Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 


David had a question:

What do you do when someone throws a spear at you?

Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question?

After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them.

Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back!

“When someone throws a spear at you, David, just wrench it right out of the wall and throw it back.

Absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure.”

And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things:

You are courageous.

You stand for the right.

You boldly stand against the wrong.

You are tough and can’t be pushed around.

You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment.

You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy…..after the order of King Saul.

There is also a possibility that some 20 years from now you will be the most incredibly skilled spear thrower in all the realm.

Thanks for reading today!

The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success Monday, Jul 19 2010 

Paul was about 51 years old.  He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth.  His mind and body were on overload.  The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.

On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities.  It had been a  continual fight until he reached Derbe.  Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.

Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror.  He reveals his thoughts in his writings.  He was in despair.  He was so low he actually despaired of life.

Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge.  Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.

Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!

Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else.  Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.

Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people.  Only the capital, Rome was larger.  The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt.  It show cased modern architecture.

Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth.  There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.

Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point.  The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day.  The result is history!

In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world.  The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.

The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.

At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way.  What was his secret?

While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter.  So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.

I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.

He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.

In all of it he stressed for people to be content!

That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.

To the Philippians…be content, 4.11

To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6

To the Hebrews….be content…13.5

It was the balm for every running issue of life.

Servants, be content!

Free men, be content!

Unhappy married people, be content!

Widows, be content!

Whatever your calling, be content!

Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!

Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.

When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!

Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!

Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!

Godliness with contentment is great gain!

Thanks for reading today!

Bara, the divine fiat of creation. Tuesday, Jun 1 2010 

In the beginning, God created.

There is great debate about how long the creative process was.  There are advocates for each creative day being 7,000 years long.  There are others who contend for each day being 1,000 years long.  Finally there are some who say no, each day was a 24-hour period.

Regardless of which position you take, as a Christian I certainly hope you take the position that God created all things.  Christians do not embrace evolution in any form.  We reject it wholesale!

Creation is one of the bedrocks of Christianity!  It is impossible to believe in God and not believe in creation.

In the act of creation Almighty God did many wonderful things.  The Hebrew word used in creation is bara.  This word means to create by divine fiat.  It signals that God had no help and no material to work with! (Fiat: origin: 1384, from fiat lux, “let there be light” in Genesis)

God did not remake, or re-design.  Almighty God stepped out on nothing in the inky blackness of eternity and simply spoke!

God created out of darkness!  When there was not so much as an angel’s wing disturbing the air, when there was nothing but God himself, God spoke.  There was no light but God himself!

One of the attributes of God that is His essence, is light.  John tells us that God is light.  It is what He is and who He is.

God opened his mouth and said, let there be light.  Suddenly all of creation blazed with blinding brilliant light.  Suns appeared, and stars spangled the night sky.  It happened in a nano second.

The speed of light was created by God in His original word and still confounds man today!  Every thing astronomers measure they measure by the first word out of God’s mouth!

God created light at the speed of light, and light maintains that speed today.

Is there darkness in your life right now?

Fear not! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  He can create light in your dark world by His divine fiat!  He longs to speak light into your world.

God also created from deadness.  When God opened His mouth and spoke there was no life anywhere.  When God spoke, when God Bara-ed, the amazing world of flora and fauna sprang for.

The incredible world of flowers, and birds, oceans, quasars, animals, and ultimately man sprang forth with prodigiality.  It staggers our finite mind at the completeness of creation.

Every form of life on earth today sprang from deadness. There was no life!

Does your life feel dead and pointless?

Take courage, in one word God can and will speak life into your deadness and things will spring forth!  People will be amazed at the abundance of your life, because of your God!

God created from chaos and disorder!  When God finished days one through three, He then repeats the cycle, and perfects on days four through six what He had created on days one through three.

When light was undefined, God created the sun, moon, and stars.  When the atmosphere above was empty and unpopulated, God created every bird of the air and every fish of the sea. When the dry land was uninhabited God made every beast, creature, and Man.

Don’t despair when your world seems like everything is disconnected and in pieces! Wait on God.  God will complete the work He began in your life.

Because our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, He still creates by divine fiat!  If you are in darkness, or in deadness, or in disorder, take heart!  He will create things in you and in your life that will astound the experts.

They will look at you and shake their learned heads and wonder how in the world did this ever come to pass!

Thanks for reading today!

You can live for God anywhere! Thursday, May 20 2010 

You can live for  God anywhere!

He lived in the bulls-eye center of one of the worst times of history. Every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes!  There was no King in Israel.

Less than 10 miles from his ancestral home where he still lived, idolatry had just been introduced to Israel.

Idolatry would dominate every facet of Israeli life for the next one thousand years.  It would take a seventy year exile in Babylon to purge the southern nation, and a permanent exile of the northern kingdom to finally get rid of idolatry.

He was there to see the birth of Idolatry!

About five miles from his home one of the tribes had just forced a priest to become the priest of their tribe. They were dissatisfied with their land along the coast, and their tribe was looking to expand their boundaries beyond what God had allocated their tribe.

He had a ring side seat to watch a tribe lose its place forever in Israel. Dan’s heritage disappeared before his eyes.

He was right in the midst of a controversy that eventually cost the nation 65,000 fighting men.  He saw the results of infighting among tribes and saw the results.

He saw the grisly piece of evidence sent to his tribe and was close enough to hear the battle cries over three days that finally left only four hundred men to the tribe of Benjamin. To see a piece of a mutilated woman and the war that erupted among the people of God was no small issue!

Yet through it all he stayed true to the word of God!  When others had no regard for the law, he lived by every letter down to the smallest detail.

The world around him was going to hell in a hand basket, but he never flinched!

Let others fight among themselves.  Let others worship idols.  Let others lose their inheritance.  It never touched him!

If the law said take off your sandal and meet the near kinsman in the gate, that is exactly what he would do!

If the law said another man had first claim to the woman he was interested in, he would honor and defer to the law!

He stands as a silent sentinel to those who make up their mind no matter what others do, I will live by the word of God!

He is a testimony against every excuse maker, and compromiser that says everybody is doing it.

While his nation fell to idolatry, killed itself off, and gave away their inheritance, he stayed true to the law of God!

Is it any wonder his great grandson became the greatest King Israel ever had?

Thank you Boaz, and thanks for reading today!

Amaziah and the third sermon. Tuesday, May 18 2010 

In yesterday’s blog I introduced you to the prophet Amos.  He was an amazing man who obeyed his God and did a remarkable job.  Today I would like to continue with his mission and show you his three sermons.

His clothes were simple and probably homespun.  His language was of the simple unlearned people of the south Judean hill country.  So when this prophet of God walked into Bethel to deliver his message he started at a disadvantage.  The wealthy merchants and landowners were skeptical of this back woods evangelist.

When he delivered his first sermon, all doubts were replaced with satisfied nods of approval.  He thundered down God’s disapproval on the surrounding nations that Samaria had recently defeated on the battlefield. Around the coffee shops and gossip centers of Samaria Amos got the nod of approval.

They no doubt said things like, well he hasn’t bathed lately and his language is abominable, but he did say some valuable things!  So the balance slowly tilted in his favor and they showed up for his second sermon.  This time Amos hit a home run!

In his second sermon he climbed to the top of their preacher charts.  He preached how low down, no good, the southern kingdom was! He pointed out how the southern nation was not pleasing God.  Suddenly his clothes and language did not matter.  Amos was their man!  Their preacher was preaching what needed to be heard.  Three cheers for Amos!

Then came the third sermon.

As he took the center stage of their rapt attention, it was a sea of smiles.  They couldn’t wait for the newest sequel to his last two sermons.  They had waited all week wondering how he could ever top the last two weeks.

It started to go downhill when he called the jeweled, proud, over dressed women of Samaria a bunch of cows!  The smiles disappeared, replaced by looks of confusion.  Side-glances confirmed that there were other unhappy members in the congregation.  It erupted full bore when Amaziah the priest stood and called Amos down.

Amaziah informed Amos that his services were no longer needed in Samaria and maybe he should depart now and head south.  It was a not too polite “get out”.

Amaziah told King Jeroboam that Amos had committed treason.  Amaziah told Amos to get back to his own turf and preach his pretty little sermons.

Amos replied that he was not a prophet, but just a herdsman, and a poor one at that.

Then it happened, the moment that was so incredible.

Amos turned those blazing eyes on the man Amaziah.  Amaziah stood there insulated with wealth, position, and power.  He was dressed in the finest clothes, educated in the best schools, and had all of society’s approval.

Facing him, was a simple country farmer with raggedy clothes, no schooling, and buried under society’s anger.

However, this country boy was God’s man.  When he spoke all the authority of heaven backed up his words.  He pointed the long finger of judgment at Amaziah.

He spoke to Amaziah and said your wife will become a harlot in the streets.

Your children will fall by the sword.

This land shall be divided and will go into captivity.

And so it was.

When anyone chooses to openly and publicly withstand God’s man, God always reacts with the same action toward them.

Amaziah made the fatal mistake of rebuking a God called, God sent man.

God have mercy on anyone who is foolish enough to follow the footsteps of Amaziah!

Look beyond his clothes, his grammar, and his education.  Look carefully for the touch of God on his life.

And whatever you do, never under any circumstances, lift your voice against a God called, God sent man.

Thanks for reading today!

When Justice Was For Sale To The Highest Bidder Monday, May 17 2010 

It was the most prosperous time in their history.

Money was flowing.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was being led by the dynamic and charismatic Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam had waged successful war against Israel’s hostile neighbors and won control of the trade routes that poured wealth into Samaria.

The land was fertile, the rains fell, and the bumper crops swelled their barns and their bank accounts.  It was a golden age.  Public buildings were being built.  Private residences were large and expensive.  The public worship was now ostentatious and full of pomp.

The rich landowners with total disregard for God’s law,  built great personal estates.  They did so at the cost of dispossessing their poor neighbors.  The poor were further treated badly by the greedy merchants who used unjust weights to buy and sell grain.  These dishonest merchants mixed husks with barley kernels.

More and more of the people were being forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

Justice was for sale to the highest bidder!

The wives of the rich demanded more and more luxuries.  No one seemed to give a thought to those who were cheated to pay the tab of the greedy.

No one that is except God!

Ten miles south of Jerusalem, a poor farmer heard an inner voice speak to him.  He was of the poorest part of society.  He dealt in Sycamore figs.  The modern equivalent of someone who gathers cans along the roadside to get money.

His name was Amos.  He left Tekoa to challenge the greatest nation on earth at the zenith of it’s wealth and power.

Has there ever been men like those prophets of old?  Fearless men who gave account to no one but God!

When that poor country boy walked into Bethel, don’t you know his eyes were wide?  No doubt his mouth was hanging open.  He had never seen anything like this in the poor region he lived in.

He walked the streets and saw the luxurious homes of the wealthy.  He saw the opulence of the rich and famous.  He observed women reclining on ivory inlaid couches, feasting on meats and drinking exotic wines while they listened to the lastest popular music groups (Amos 4.1, 6.4-6).

He saw a nation that was hardened by selfishness and greed.  He  spoke to them about the need for their hearts to be touched with the needs of the poor and oppressed.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Does God still care about injustice?

Is Justice for sale to the highest bidder in your life?

Thanks for reading today.

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