The Elusive Pursuit of Peace

The Elusive Pursuit of Peace

Earlier this week, we honored the memory and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, the Christian pastor and non-violent civil rights leader, who was murdered in Memphis, TN five decades ago.

Later this week, Vice President Pence will meet with the leaders of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, as he travels to the “Cradle of Christianity” in the elusive pursuit of peace in the Middle East.

Fifty years ago, many Arab countries surrounding tiny Israel joined to attack the hated “Zionists,” with the expressed goal of destroying the nascent Jewish State by throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. However, even after the humiliating defeat of the Arab forces in that “six-day war” and a later peace accord secretly worked out in Oslo, Norway with Palestinian representatives of the terrorist group the Palestinian Liberation Organization, little peace has prevailed.

A contemporary observer of those troubled times, Dr. King said,

Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

Today, Israel has signed peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt and has a growing dialog with Saudi security and economic officials, particularly over the mutual concerns with the threatening actions of neighboring Iran. These relationships are always tempered by the anti-Semitic rhetoric, hatred, and violence ginned up by Islamic imams and extremists.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 in Oslo, Norway, Dr. King acknowledged his “… profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time — the need for man to overcome oppression and violence WITHOUT resorting to violence and oppression.”

The Apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians that Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles (including Arabs) by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us.  Through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, He united Jews and Gentiles as though we were one person and did away with our human hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God, and now all of us can become part of the Father’s family by the same Spirit. (Ephesians 14-18)

Let us pray that these truths ultimately prevail in the “Cradle of Christianity” and in every nation, tribe and tongue.

Posted in Pro-Life | Leave a comment

Learning the Grace of Giving in 2018

Welcome to the future! No matter whether you and I were as generous as we may have wanted to be last year, it is now a new year and God still loves a “cheerful giver” ( 2 Cor. 9:7)!

In this new year of 2018, God wants me and you to learn how to be even more generous in our stewardship of His blessings! Failure to do so robs God of the opportunity to bless us (Malachi 3:8-10)!

Jesus summarized God’s plan for our financial future when he said, “Freely you have received, freely give”(Matt. 10:8). This promise of divine reciprocity and reward is intended to teach His children the joy of unselfish generosity.

“God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16) and He teaches us to “Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.” (Luke 6:38 MEV)

In the Old Testament, God’s people paid tithes and gave offerings. The first mention of tithing was in Genesis 14 when Abraham gave “a tenth part of all” to Melchizedek, the King of Salem, who used it in a priestly act of worship. In the Hebrews recounting (Chapter 7), the priestly tribe of Levi is said to receive tithes because of his genealogy through Abraham, whose submission to the spiritual superiority of Melchizedek, “priest of the Most High God” (7:1), preceded the giving of the Law.

This Levite tithe has been described as a religious taxation to support the theocracy and was said to belong to the Lord (Lev. 27:30-33). Followers paid their tithes to the Lord by faith, believing He would reward them, heal them, and protect them. Leviticus 12 and 14 speak of additional tithes which were used for the benefit of the covenant society and social justice.

Further, Jesus affirmed tithing in the New Testament, not as a law or legalistic obligation, but as Continue reading

Posted in Finances, Pro-Family | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Christ at Christmas

Mary’s Boy Child Jesus

I’m sitting here in my small home-office on this “Night Before Christmas” and thinking about the wonderful service we attended this morning at our church.

The beautiful carols and moving worship-songs all blended into a sweet setting for our pastor to rehearse the facts and truths of “The Christmas Story,” in both traditional and contemporary ways and scriptures.

It was only a one hour service, but it all centered on Jesus Christ and we all left the sanctuary with happy hearts and joyous thoughts of this special season. More importantly, many had expressed their faith in Christ for the first time and joined His “forever family!”

That’s why Christ came, to seek and to save the lost!

Tonight, I’m also reviewing Christmas cards and greetings from many ministries which we try to support throughout the year. One letter comes from Renee Williams, a missionary sent out several years ago by our church to Japan.  She always shares some of the most interesting things about the Japanese lifestyle and culture.

In this recent letter, she was relating how many of the older Japanese know very little about Jesus or why he is called the “Christ.” They are surprised when she explains to them that Christmas is not the birthday of “Santa Claus.” They may have heard of Jesus, but often have no idea that the reason the Western (Gregorian) calendar is divided between B.C. and A.D. is that of Jesus’ birth.

The 80-year-old father of one of Renee’s Japanese friends once took a trip with her to Europe and saw some architectural remains that said “4th century B.C.” and asked the daughter what that meant.  He seemed shocked when she explained that all of the dates before Christ was born were written in this manner and the transition to A.D.  meant that Jesus was born approximately 2017 years ago.

As a grade school student during WWII in Japan, he was taught that the Japanese race was a superior race because of its long history. Whereas, the Western countries had only existed for 1940 years! He had heard of Jesus but had no idea that he was the Son of God, the promised Messiah of Israel, Who came to live and die, as the savior of all the Nations!

John 1:11-12 explains it this way: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (NKJV)

In the morning, my wife and I will join with our nearby daughter’s family to see their tree of sparkling lights, reminding us of Jesus, Who is the Light of the world. We will again read “The Christmas Story” from Luke 2 and sing songs, celebrating the incarnation of God in human flesh. This Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came to earth to save us from our sins! Hallelujah!

Truly, putting Christ in “Christ”mas is what this holy holiday is really all about! Merry Christmas!

Posted in Biblical Worldview, Christmas, Prophecy | Leave a comment

May Your Kingdom Come—this Christmas!

I received an email yesterday from a friend, asking that my wife and I join her in prayer for a needed miracle.

We have known her since college days and were surprised to hear from her last summer that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She was about to begin chemotherapy treatments at that time and asked for our prayers.

But the message yesterday was a cry for help. She has one more chemo treatment next week and then a pet scan after Christmas, for the doctors to decide on her next option. She said, “I am needing a miracle…”

Have you been there? Your natural options are used up and the only solution has to be a supernatural action, from God Himself.

For Christ-followers, the reality is something like the Apostle Paul’s when he said, “…For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain…I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:19-24)

In the face of those realities, I continue to be encouraged when I read that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages …preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every sickness and every disease…“(Matt. 9:35).

There is something powerful in the “good news” of the “kingdom” which precedes the healing of sicknesses and diseases. I suggest this powerful reality is wrapped up in our better understanding that word, “kingdom.”

You see, the kingdom of God exists everywhere the “king” is. For now, Christ’s kingdom is “not of this world.” Rather, the Gospels reveal that: Continue reading

Posted in Christmas, Human Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Visit

Today was observed, by most Christians, as the first Sunday of this Advent Season.

Advent means “coming” or “visit”.  During the Christmas-time season of Advent, we prepare to again observe God’s “coming” or “visit” to earth and to our lives and circumstances as the Christ of  Christmas.

Each Advent Sunday can become a teachable moment for believers to review the history and meaning of Christ’s first visit and give renewed understanding to the promises and hope of Christ’s second visit.

Purposeful preparation in homes and churches often includes four candles, plus a fifth one, known as the “Christ Candle,” which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Each candle has a different meaning, based on the Bible’s teachings, and each can help us remember some key facets of faith and prepare our hearts to appreciate the truths surrounding the “advent”  or “coming visit” of the Babe of Bethlehem.

By lighting one candle each Sunday of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready to meaningfully observe the birth of Jesus.  The first week’s candle is often called the candle of Hope. Its light pierces the darkness with the hope-filled truth of God’s transcendent presence among His creation.

The prophet Isaiah projected the advent’s truth when he said:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.” — Isaiah 9:2

Our advent preparations help us Continue reading

Posted in Christmas, Prophecy | Leave a comment

Moore Trouble

Judge Roy Moore
CBS News Photo

Judge Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate to replace former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, has been accused by four women of improper physical contact with them nearly 40 years ago, when they were underage teenagers and he was a young assistant district attorney or judge.

Of the four women, who were sought out by the press, the youngest at the time was Lisa Corfman, who was only 14 when she willingly joined him for their two dates. She is the only one who says the physical contact with Moore went beyond kissing but it did not include intercourse.

Judge Moore, who is now 70, denied the charges in a written statement: “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”

Later, his campaign said that if the allegations were true they would have surfaced during his previous campaigns. They summed up the decades-old charges of impropriety as “fake news” and “intentional defamation.”

Republicans leaders are scrambling to consider their other options for the December 12 special elections in Alabama. It appears that the date has passed when Moore’s name could be removed from the ballot, although some are suggesting they urge supporters to write in the name of Luther Strange, the currently appointed Senator who lost to Moore in the Republican primary.

In our currently changing culture, “sexual liberties” are suddenly not being celebrated, though Hugh Hefner still is and Hollywood scandals still unfold for celebrity predators. Can you spell “Hypocrisy”?

The Bible says God will judge Continue reading

Posted in Biblical Worldview, Culture Wars, Pro Marriage, Pro-Family, Religious Freedoms | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How soon is “soon”?

…see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven…

Three times in the closing chapter of the prophetic book of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote the words of Jesus Christ, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). Some denominational and para-church ministry statements of faith refer to this future fact in declaring their belief that Jesus is our “soon coming King.”

If we are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, how long must we wait? If he is our “Soon Coming King,” how soon is “soon”?

As the skeptics and non-believers in this world point out, our Lord seems to have delayed His promised “soon” return for nearly 2,000 years. How are we to understand or explain this? Are we missing something?

We should remember that the Apostle Peter told us the “why” of this delay: God wants to give this sinful world opportunity to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:1ff). As modern-day believers, we are to hold on to His promised return and keep ourselves pure, so that we may not be ashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28-3:3).

Again, we must ask “How soon is ‘soon’?” Is there a prophetic sequence or significant signs which can help us clarify God’s timetable?

Paul told the persecuted Thessalonian believers that they could be comforted and edified in knowing that whether we are dead or living at the time of Christ’s promised return, “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9-11).

Wrath is the keyword. It describes Continue reading

Posted in Biblical Worldview, Prophecy | Tagged | Leave a comment