Category: Uncategorized

Wrangling About Words

Responding to Critics

Since beginning in Christian ministry in 1973, first as an Associate Pastor (licensed), continuing as a home group leader and Bible study teacher, then as a senior pastor and church founder (ordained), and now as an online blogger, I have been accused on a number of occasions of being a “false teacher,” trying to start a cult and gain followers, or be like so many other prominent televangelists and megachurch leaders who seek to gain fame and wealth.  

I can understand the concerns of my accusers, for the Apostle Peter warned against just such “false prophets” in the following passage:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (II Peter 2:1-3).

It is not in my nature to become bitter and angry when I receive such accusations against my life and ministry, though I am only too willing to respond and explain my background, teachings,  and calling when confronted by those who are willing to listen.  

I fully understand that some of my teachings may conflict with many of the more standard interpretations of the Scriptures obtained from theology texts or consumed in seminaries and Bible colleges.  I also acknowledge my weaknesses, for I am not trained in the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek), for example.  However, I  believe my inadequacies are sufficiently compensated for by my willingness to consult expert opinions and translations online, as well as use a Greek thesaurus.

My Qualifications

With a Ph.D.  in literature and more than twenty years experience as a university professor, I believe I am fully trained in recognizing and adapting the genres of literature and written texts, while applying the norms for these genres to biblical texts, a context that is not always followed by many Bible teachers and preachers.  Those who delight in interpreting the Scriptures literally, for example, do not always acknowledge that some passages are nonsensical if interpreted literally.

Christ’s references to the “bread” and “cup” in the Gospel accounts  of The Last Supper, for example, do not mean that the elements of the communion are literally the body and blood of Jesus, although many Christians believe in “transubstantiation.”  An example of taking a metaphor literally.  Surely, Jesus wasn’t condoning cannibalism, as the Early Church was accused of teaching.

Apocalyptic writings in the Bible, mainly in Daniel and the Book of Revelation, are also interpreted literally, even though such writings are obviously made up of dreams, signs, symbols and the extra-textual meanings of these kinds of writings.  In addition, I once heard a Bible teacher relate that the “locusts” in the Book of Revelation refer to the “helicopters” in today’s conditions, which meant that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent given the kind of warfare being fought during the Vietnam era.  And how long has it been since then?  Remember when Henry Kissinger was labeled the AntiChrist?  Or was it Anwar Sadat?  

The Apostle Peter continues in his letter to advise and admonish Christians as follows:

14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 2:14-18)

Clearly, Peter the fisherman had some difficulty understanding the educated Apostle Paul’s letters, for even he, the “rock,” found them “hard to understand.”

Notice, however, that Peter does not counsel that believers must vehemently argue with and condemn or accuse any teachers with whom we disagree. He instead simply advises believers to beware so as not to be “carried away” with teachings that espouse greed and licentiousness.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy, his disciple, not to fight, or “wrangle,” over “words,” or perhaps such acronyms as the “TULIP” of Calvinism.

I, personally, have chosen to teach from the Scriptures rather than a book someone has written, whether in the 1600’s or in the 21st Century.    

14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers  (II Timothy 2:14).

Surely, Paul does not condone false teachings, but instead says that wrangling and fighting are “useless” and lead those who hear such wrangling to ruin.

Indeed, I have tried to explain certain biblical teachings to some of my opponents, only to see the homegroup meetings or Bible classes disrupted and almost destroyed.  Some people simply will not be convinced in spite of clear evidence in Scripture passages, primarily because they do not like what they have learned to be opposed.  Thus, they rise up in “unrighteous indignation.”

The Holy Spirit’s Teachings

Jesus related to His disciples that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to them, both to empower them to spread the Good News of the Gospel, but also to be their Teacher: “ But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:6).

I have been listening to sermons and teachings since my childhood, yet I am persuaded that I learn only when the Holy Spirit is the inspiration for these messages and He confirms their truths in my heart.  Consequently, while I admire and listen continually to a number of Bible teachers, I am mostly focused on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to live, learn, and grow.

In addition, as a Bible teacher I have been most moved recently by such Scriptures as the following:

  1. Job 12:22 “He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.
  2. Daniel 2:28:  “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.”
  3. Daniel 2:29:  “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place.”
  4. Daniel 2:47:  “The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
  5. Matthew 13:11:  “Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”
  6. Luke 8:10:  “And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”
  7. 1 Corinthians 4:1: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
  8. 1 Corinthians 13:2:  “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
  9. 1 Corinthians 14:2:  “For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.

The Apostle Paul’s defense of his own teachings includes the following:

 “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (II Corinthians 12:1-4).

Thus, Paul’s teachings, which comprise most of the New Testament, were revealed to Him as “mysteries,” which defined means, “the secrets God desires to reveal to His people.”  Consequently, the purpose of this Biblical Mysteries Revealed blog site is to share what I have learned about these mysteries.

Back to Peter

One teaching that continues to be highly controversial concerns “End Times” prophecy, for the reasons stated above, as well as the desire to sell books, perhaps, among other reasons.  Concerning this mystery, Peter wrote the following:

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:3-9)

Unlike so many teachers today, however, Peter does not, in an attempt to sell books, try to pick the “day or the hour” of Christ’s return (which only the Father knows!) nor does he try to locate the “anti-Christ” (who obviously was not the Emperor Nero!).  

Peter continues on to write the following:

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:10-13)

Therefore, even those who declared the prophetic Words of the Lord, following the leadings of the Holy Spirit, did not presume to “serve themselves” by trying to gain fame and fortune by publishing best sellers or make films about the End Times, as is the case today.

It even appears that lately, such false teachers are resorting to astrology to predict End Times events (“blood moons” and Jupiter’s emergence from the “womb” of the constellation Virgo).


It is fruitless to “wrangle” over such teachings, however.  We are only told by Peter and Paul to beware lest we be led astray.  We need only be concerned with keeping our lamps filled with “oil,” so that when Christ appears, we all will see Him in His glory, and we will forever be with Him!  

Which Film Will You Be Watching?

Many Available Choices

When Jesus Christ returns with the sound of the trumpet, after the “tribulation of those days,” (Matthew 24:29-30), what kind of movie or television program will you be watching?

Many people may be watching the latest “blockbuster,” either in a theater, on a DVD player, or using video streaming online.  One of the options might be a film about a single woman who has opened herself to the sexual temptations offered by the film’s hero, the attractive superstar who has never been turned down.  Consequently, the heroine is facing the choice of continuing with her pregnancy and having her baby or taking the advice of Planned Parenthood (what an ironic name!) and destroying the unborn child in her womb.     

More Choices 

On the other hand, a number of people who believe that the Scriptures are the true Word of God may be watching a film about Mary, the virgin who found herself carrying a child after the angel of the Lord had told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her.  The angel said,  “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (Luke 1:31).  In spite of the possibility of condemnation and scorn from her friends, family, and even her future husband (Joseph), however, Mary said to the Angel Gabriel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (v. 38).  Her faith in the proclamation of the Lord was enough to carry her through the persecutions of King Herod and to comfort her in the events to come, even to the point of seeing her son’s horrific death and crucifixion.

Another film some people might have found compelling and would be watching when Jesus comes again concerns our culture’s current uncertainties about “gender identity.”  In the film, titled Born Again, (rated R for V, N, AC, AL)  a young adult man finds himself confused to the point of suicide. His problems began when he was still in elementary school after being sexually abused by an older teenager.  Because as a child he had often imagined himself turning into a girl when he got older, he, therefore, decided that perhaps he was indeed a girl “trapped” inside a boy’s body, as so many people were explaining in the newscasts and online forums he was listening to.  This path led him not only to seek and endure further abuse, but also to suffer the physical harm he would endure from unnatural sex practices, to the point where he contracted sexually transmitted diseases and extreme mental distress.  In the end, he decided to take medical treatments and surgery to be changed into a woman. His agonies did not cease after his transition, however, and he ended up taking his own life by overdosing on drugs. 

Other people might be watching a film about a woman who awakens to find herself surrounded by a beautiful garden filled with flowers and living streams of water.  She turns and sees a large form beside her, who puts his hand on her shoulder and comforts her in her confusion.  Her fears are quenched by his kindness and tender touch, and she quickly learns how to communicate with him in his language of love.  She realizes that she is like him in many ways, although some of her body parts are very different.  She does not see these as problems, however, for their coming together seems to right, entirely understandable, and satisfying.  When he tells her that she was formed out of a rib in his side, she isn’t perplexed or confused, but instead sees herself indeed as being “one” with him in many ways.  As he had said to her, she was indeed “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).

Films for Families

A father and mother, both of whom were scientists, atheists, and university professors, were watching a film with their children, confident that a science fiction film would be enlightening and entertaining to the whole family.  The science fiction, however, soon turned to occult spiritualistic themes with alien ghosts and demonically evil antagonists.  The children were afraid even to look at the television, with one young girl standing in the room’s hallway so she could quickly escape if the violence turned ugly.  The parents were certain that there was no harm in the film, however, and agreed together that their children could benefit from seeing the evils of religious beliefs and practices, and seeing such an expanded vision of their universe, while learning how to cope with dangerous situations in life.

Another family with three young children was watching a film about the life of Jesus Christ.  One particular scene struck the children immensely:

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

The parents looked at their three kids in wonder and amazement, for they couldn’t comprehend Jesus’ statements about receiving the kingdom of God like little children.  Laughing together, they talked about the messy rooms and hilarious predicaments they continually visualized at home.  But they also were amazed at the love Jesus had for the children, finding their own kids in Jesus’ loving arms. Likewise, they held their sleepy children and carried them up to their rooms.

Keep the Lamps Full

Another possible film might be a depiction of the “Parable of  the 10 Virgins,” told by Jesus Christ:

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps (Matthew 25:1-4).
Watching a film does not mean that our lamps will be full or not, but the oil in the lamps is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and when Jesus comes again, just as the bridegroom comes in the parable, we must be sure to have our lamps filled with oil.  Our hearts need to be constantly full to ensure that they will be full when Christ appears.  The Apostle Paul exhorted the Church in Ephesus not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit, by whom they were “sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).  And Paul also wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Clearly, we understand that watching a film will not make us drunk in the way that indulging in alcohol will.  However, we must be aware of what we take into our lives that may lead to “dissipation.”  We need to take in what will not grieve the Holy Spirit, who lives and moves in the lives of all believers. 
Jesus taught his disciples that they needed to fill their hearts with “what is good.”
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45).
As is said in terms of computers and internet technology, “Garbage in…garbage out.” In the same way, we will reveal what is in our hearts by what comes out of our mouths.  We must, therefore, be filled with the Spirit and the Word of God.  Thus, by filling our lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit, we will bring forth what is good.

My Personal Story

Only one or two years ago, I was accused by a text message sent from a person whom I did not even know, of seeking to start a new cult and raise up to myself a new crowd of followers.  

This person had never even spoken to me, at least that I am aware, so he couldn’t have known for sure whether his accusations were true.  Since he didn’t know me, he didn’t know that I have never tried to be “cool” enough to start a cult, for I have never liked Cool Aid.  I have had no desire to lead a group of “followers,” hoping they would give me either recognition or money.  Instead, I have always tried to set an example of godliness in the churches or groups I have pastored or led, never even taking a salary in the last two churches.  I have sought only to be a giver, not a taker, unlike the leaders of most cults.

In addition, I have sought only to “equip the saints for the work of service and the building up of the Body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12), doing the best I can, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to encourage and exhort, speaking the Truth in love and rightly dividing the Word of Truth.    

Therefore, I hope to be ready when the Lord appears, with my lamp filled with oil. 



God’s Protection from a Scorpion by Jan Jenkins

Jesus’ Promise

In Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 10, Jesus appoints seventy of His followers to go out in pairs before Him to every city where Jesus plans to travel. He first instructs them regarding hospitality, healing, and His message that “the kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). Additionally, He says that anyone who listens to His messengers will actually be listening to Him because they are sent out and will be speaking in His name.

The seventy then return “with joy,” delighting in the fact that even the demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus!

He encourages them further, stating, “I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you” (Luke 10:17-19).  Jesus has given tremendous power to His followers so they may walk in His victory and speak in His name. No wonder they are joyful after completing their mission!

A Belizean Scorpion

We recently had been just one week in our new home in Belize when we ourselves experienced God’s supernatural protection over a scorpion. We have some jungle on both sides of our property, consisting of large bushes, coconut palms, and a maze of mangrove roots. Louie, our dog, was always attracted to this area outside our fence (grass is greener!), and he loved to go there and smell and dig in this wondrous terrain.

Generally, we made sure he didn’t stay there too long, but because initially the fence wasn’t yet completed, it was pretty easy for him to sneak over.

Our Little Hunting Dog!

One evening Charles and I were out raking up the accumulated sea grass on the beach for a little longer than usual. When we finished, we called Louie and came into the house. While I was in the kitchen, and Charles had just settled down on the sofa, I noticed that Louie was playing with something on the living room floor. I thought it was probably a stick or a dry piece of the sea grass. As I watched, though, the stick seemed to move a little, and every time it did, Louie would jump back. I came closer to see what it was, and when I did, I screamed “No!” at Louie. Then I hollered, “It’s a scorpion! It’s a scorpion!” I had never seen one before, except in movies, but I instantly knew what it was when I saw it’s tail curled up. 

Charles hurried off the sofa, fly swatter in hand, and much to Louie’s chagrin, gave the scorpion a huge whack. Evidently, his curled tail caught in the fly swatter, which was now cracked from the hard hit on the floor, and it made the scorpion fly up into the air. It landed behind Charles, and I yelled, “it’s behind you. Don’t step back! Go forward!”

My barefooted husband followed my very loud advice and stepped forward, still holding the broken swatter, ready to use it again on the scorpion. I grabbed a drinking cup from the kitchen cabinet and gave it to Charles who promptly put it over the three-inch long scorpion on the floor. Meanwhile, Louie was both startled and confounded at our reaction to his new “toy.” We had to keep telling him, “No!” because he wanted to get to the scorpion under the cup.

Now, what do we do?

Charles got a piece of cardboard and carefully slid it under the cup, trapping the scorpion. Then he cautiously put the cup, the piece of cardboard , and the scorpion outside the front door on the veranda where Louie couldn’t get it.  

Consequently, all risk of the scorpion’s getting loose in our house was eliminated! We left it out there for three days before Charles went out and took a peek at it. By then it was baked and definitely dead.

After this, we could only thank our Heavenly Father for His protection. First, we recognized how miraculously God had protected Louie, even though he had certainly carried the scorpion into the house in his mouth. How could he have held that thing in his mouth and not get stung?

Second, God had protected us from having a very dangerous insect loose in our house!  It very easily could have escaped from Louie, run under our sofa, and hidden itself from us.

Immediately, we both thought of the verse already quoted above in Luke 10. True, we hadn’t trampled on a scorpion, but more importantly, because we are trusting Him for protection and health while we are in Belize, He used this situation to show us one of the ways his protection was active in our lives. Additionally, since we pray every morning for His continued blessing and safety, we are confident that we are “covered” in every situation.

We don’t go out and deliberately watch for opportunities to prove God’s faithfulness, but by committing our lives to Him as His followers, we are protected. Interestingly, when the Israelites were wandering in the desert those 40 years, God also protected them from scorpions (see Deut. 8:15).

We were so grateful to the Lord for once again showing us His love in this way. We serve a magnificent God who is very much a part of everything in our lives. He abides in each of us to direct our path, for as the Psalmist says,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence. (Psalms 91:1-3).

Who Is In the Mirror?

Entirely Unexpected

I recently finished reading a extraordinary book on Kindle, a memoir titled, “Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard,” written by Laura Bates, a professor and volunteer teacher of Shakespeare in a maximum security prison in Indiana.  

As a retired Professor of English myself, with over 20 years experience teaching some of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as numerous other challenging texts in literature and composition classes (Seriously?  War and Peace?), while also teaching English majors to teach English as secondary education teachers (grades 7-12) for many years, I was poignantly reminded while reading this book of my own struggles to make my classes not only interesting for my students, but also challenging and meaningful, not to mention obtaining tenure and promotions.  

My students were usually very motivated to become teachers themselves, or at least complete their undergraduate degrees. I never considered, however, that teaching Hamlet, Macbeth, or Othello would bring significant changes into my students’ lives.  

Professor Bates, however, taught Shakespeare’s plays not only to prisoners, but also to the worst criminal offenders who had been confined in a supermax solitary prison. While doing so, she had to hand out assignments and hold group discussions with only eight students, yet all had to sit in separate cells, conversing through the very small “windows” used to pass meals to the prisoners.    

One of the Worst

One of these prisoners was Larry Newman, known to be the most dangerous prisoner in the Indiana state’s Westville supermax prison” (Bates, 17).  Although he was a fifth-grade dropout and a convicted murderer, with two escape attempts on his record, stabbing one of the prison guards during one attempt, Larry is the focus of much of the book because of his life-changing encounters while reading and studying Shakespeare’s plays.

Larry Newman’s experiences growing up in an abusive home and a crime-filled neighborhood gave him significant insights into some of the problems raised in Shakespeare’s plays, such as the gang-warfare in Romeo and Juliet (Capulets versus the Montagues) or the murders of King Duncan in Macbeth and Othello’s murder of his wife Desdemona because of Othello’s jealous rage. While reading these scenes in Shakespeare’s plays, Newman must confront the decisions he has made in his own life and is forced to challenge his own tightly held positions.  

Consequently, studying Shakespeare’s plays under Laura Bates changed his life, and he became one of the reasons why Bates’ program was so successful with other prisoners, as he participated with her in the classes, continually adding insightful contributions to the weekly lessons and discussions. Ultimately, he even partnered with Dr. Bates in writing a detailed guide to teaching Shakespeare’s plays to inmates, and he even began taking classes to obtain a Ph. D. while in prison to pursue his goal of becoming a professor himself, even though parole would never be possible in his lifetime.

Previously, Newman had spent over ten years in solitary confinement, his only contact with another human being occurring when he was handcuffed and escorted to a restroom, or when he was finally allowed to attend the Shakespeare classes with Dr. Bates.  In the class, titled “Shakespeare in Shackles,” Newman is confronted with such topics as honor, revenge, and conscience, forcing him and the other prisoners to consider their own actions from a new perspective provided by Shakespeare 400 years ago.

A Changed Man

At one point, after three years of partnering with Dr. Bates, the following conversation took place (Bates, 174):

“Where do you think you would be without Shakespeare?”  

Newman responded, saying, “I wouldn’t be anywhere I am today.  I know that.  I’d either be in deeper trouble–tried to escape and been in worse trouble than I was–or maybe I would’ve just that one day developed the courage to . . . you know what I mean?”

“Suicide?” I asked hesitantly.

Heck, yeah,” he replied.  “I was ready to go! I can’t tell you how much I was.” 

After musing on his suicidal thoughts, Newman continued to say,

“But the point is, the being dead part never worried me.  It seemed like a very plausible alternative.  So that’s not even what makes me the happiest.  I like being alive, I like my life, but what makes me the happiest is that I just really feel like I can go anywhere and do anything. I make decisions now ’cause that’s what makes me the happiest.  

Laura Bares is amazed and speechless:

I had worked with this prisoner for more than three years, but I had no idea that Shakespeare–and I–had that kind of impact on him.  I had never had that kind of impact on anyone.  I had never saved anyone’s life before (176).

Finding the Pattern

As both a literature teacher and a student of the Bible, I am always intrigued when I see “patterns” in a text, particularly the Scriptures.  These patterns might also be described as “similarities,” or “repeated phrases,” or “repeated themes,” for these patterns reveal helpful insights into the truths of the biblical teachings, the “mysteries” that the Holy Spirit desires to reveal to us.  

One such pattern is found in the following verses:

  • When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (I Corinthians 13:12).
  • But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:18).
  • For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25).

Beholding As In a Mirror

By reading these passages closely you will see that they all use the example of “looking into a mirror” to reveal how we are to see ourselves–not as we think we are but as we truly are.
The pattern revealed in these similar passages first highlights the perspectives of looking into the mirror as a “child,” or with a “veiled” face, or by merely seeing the “natural face” that appears.  This image may quickly be forgotten, while the image that appears in the “perfect law of liberty,” or a different kind of mirror, is an image that once adhered to leads to being blessed in all that we do. 
A significant indicator, therefore, of spiritual maturity is the ability to see ourselves consistently not through our natural senses but through the perspectives, we gain by “thinking with the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), or seeing ourselves as Christ sees us.  

While no record exists of Larry Newman’s encountering Jesus Christ and finding eternal salvation through Him, he did escape earthly destruction by viewing and identifying with human encounters through the examples of Shakespeare’s plays which enabled him to reorder his thoughts and find new directions not based on his previous misconceptions about life and death.  

Ironically, however, Shakespeare’s plays do not provide the same kind of freedom and liberty that the Word of God provides, for His Word is “perfect”:

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25).

Sadly, many representations in our culture today have stated that not only is God dead, but also Truth is dead, as portrayed on a recent edition of Time Magazine (Source).

April 8, 1966

Commenting on these covers, Jonathan Van Maren writes,

As far as our culture is concerned, God is dead, and so is truth. An institution no less respected than TIME Magazine announced their respective departures from the culture. But I can’t help but think of the origin of the phrase “God is dead.” It came from the nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietszche, in his parable “The Madman,” where he wondered with appropriate panic, where morality would come from once God left (Source).

Van Maren continues to expose the latest examples of the opposition of fact and fiction:

We now reject every constraint on our own so-called right to radical self-determination, even if those constraints are biology and reality. That is why a full-grown man can decide to leave his family and live as a six-year-old girl, and the media coverage of this is largely subdued and respectful. That is why there is a new group of human beings who identify as non-human beings—rather, they are “Otherkin,” people who identify as certain animals. This is treated with long-faced solemnity by our cultural elites, because truth is dead and people can be whatever they want, even if they are obviously not what or who they say they are (Source).

Larry Newman found much freedom, not by denying the truths about himself and his life but by acknowledging the truths about his mistakes and misconceptions about himself.  May God give him the grace to see all the way to “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:16).


Moving For Purpose, Part III: Belize Baseball?

Kids after school.

Another Purpose in Belize

My wife Jan and I are moving in one month to Belize with a specific purpose and direction, primarily to begin part-time community service and missions work among the indigenous Garifuna people and the many Expats in the Hopkins Village Area.

However, now I am also motivated to work with the numerous Belizean boys and girls by founding a Little League baseball team/league.  

My Experience

I am a retired Professor of English Language and Literature, with both teaching and administrative experience.  I am also qualified and certified as a middle school and high school teacher, so I have worked professionally with young adults from both the middle and senior high school levels, both as a teacher and also as a high school guidance counselor.  

Since Jan and I also have a number of grandchildren who have played (and are now playing!) on Little League baseball teams, I have recently become very enthusiastic about working with young adults in the Belize area in Central America, where we will be living part-time in the coming years. My understanding is that there are no Little League teams in the Hopkins area, so it may be challenging to start a new team and a new league, especially since the players seem primarily interested in playing on soccer teams as part of their culture.  

On our last visit to Belize, last September 2016, however, we talked to a number of potential baseball players, and they all expressed enthusiasm for playing baseball.  Their only hesitation was due to a lack of equipment and supplies.  They were excited about wearing baseball uniforms, especially a baseball cap like the one I was wearing at the time.  

The need is great in the local Hopkins Village area for activities for these young boys and girls since they seem to wander about the village after their school hours and on weekends, and they don’t seem to have many outlets for training, competition, or organized activities.  

My Background in Baseball

While growing up, I played on a number of baseball teams, including softball teams, and I served as an assistant coach for a high school baseball team in Strathmore, California, where I first began my teaching career.

While I do not consider myself to be a baseball expert, I have been a close follower of the sport my entire life, and I have learned quite a lot about baseball by listening to baseball games on the radio and attending live baseball games in Los Angeles!

I especially appreciate all of the help that has been offered already for this new purpose, in particular from The Potter’s Pallette, my daughter Bethany’s ceramic and painting store in downtown Lock Haven.  She has begun coordinating with me to help provide equipment and supplies for Belize baseball, and so far the response has been exceptionally good, with many people pledging their support and donations of equipment.

New Song’s Help 

While in Belize, I will also continue to operate through the non-profit corporation I founded a number of years ago, both for our community service work, but also for the Little League projects.  If you wish to contact me, you may use the following address:

Newsong, Inc.  C/O  Charles M. Jenkins 

P.O. Box 53

Lock Haven, PA  17745

Moving For Purpose, Part II (By Jan Jenkins)

Moving Ahead 

After visiting and sharing with Pastor Herdie, we walked to the CPC Real Estate office the next day, where we met John Stewart, who has lived in Belize for 20 years, but still has a home in Pennsylvania.  John took us to see several houses, but nothing seemed to stand out.

John then told us about some lots for sale along the canal and along the Sea at the southern end of Hopkins, in an area called Sittee Point (pronounced like “city”).  John took us to see some of them and then dropped us off at our cabana.  We needed time to process what we had seen, to pray and listen, and to talk together about all of the possibilities.

On Friday morning, we went out together for an early swim in the sea.  Our morning swim had become part of our morning routine while we were there in Belize since the incredibly warm Caribbean Sea was only about 60 feet out from the front door of our cabana.

We then decided to do more exploring of the village.  We found a wood worker, named Alex, who made beautiful carvings out of the native woods of Belize.  We picked a few small carvings that would fit into our suitcases to bring home for gifts, but when we went to pay, we realized we hadn’t brought enough money.  He pointed to two bicycles that were parked in front of his little shop and told us we could use them to go back to our cabana instead of having to walk.  He even let us take the carvings with us.  We bicycled the six blocks or so and got our money and then returned to pay Alex.

Finding a Lot on the Sea

We went to see John, the realtor, again to ask him about the lots for sale.  He took us for a drive to look at properties, and about an hour later we took our step of faith and made an offer on a lot! We had decided to build rather than purchase a home that could already have upkeep problems.  We had God’s peace and believed that if this was in God’s will to happen, He would make a way for us.  We had the money to pay for the lot, so if nothing else, it would be a good investment.  We found out that the property tax would only be $20 a year whether we built a house or not!  We felt very happy and took another swim in the sea to celebrate!

Sunday came, and as we floated in the water during our morning swim, we shared our thoughts about God’s direction and prayed that He would continue to direct us.  Again, we felt His peace.  We had learned long ago that if we wanted God to direct us, we needed to begin moving and trust that He would keep us on the right path.  Like someone has said, “It’s much harder to move a parked car than one that is already moving.”  Additionally, our God provides a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” Psalm119:105.

A Wave Hits

We talked to both of our daughters about our plans, and after explaining what we felt God was doing in our lives and feeling they understood, we wired the deposit money to Belize so that the purchase could proceed.  Now there were lots of little “waves” in the water, but in spite of occasional overwhelming feelings about all the decisions ahead of us, we felt peace and we were determined that we would keep our eyes on Jesus.

In May, 2016, I began working on floor plans for a house in Belize.  I looked at a few samples and even measured the rooms in our house here so I could have an idea of room sizes.  This was fun, and I went through pages and pages of drafting paper coming up with various ideas, showing them to Charles for his input, and then making more changes.

By the end of May, I had a couple of rough drawings that I thought would work.  When we were in Belize, our Realtor had introduced us to Dennis, who was about six weeks into a build there.  He gave us a business card for his builder whom he highly recommended.  Additionally, we had heard of a builder who built square or rectangle houses and then moved the house to the property to set up and finish.

I spent a month sending rough plans to these two companies, getting feedback and making changes.  We decided to go with the builder who was building the house for Dennis and who would build the whole house on our lot rather than moving it in.  Communication with R. G. Home Builders was easy, and they always responded quickly.

I emailed Rolando Gonzalez, the owner and contractor of R. G. Home Builders, and told him we would like him to build our house and requested an estimate on my floor plan.  In a couple of days, he sent his estimate.  It was much more than we thought it would be. We felt like we had hit a big wave this time.  Our plan to sell our house here and downsize to something small to rent or buy might not work, we thought!  For one thing, we realized that the first listing price the realtor had suggested for our house here in Pennsylvania was probably too high, so we had lowered our asking price.

We didn’t believe the Lord wanted us to get into debt with this Belize property either, so I sent an email to Rolando asking about changes to bring the cost down.  We still felt peace, however, and we believed it would work out.  Reading I and II Thessalonians seemed so timely, and so many verses jumped out and ministered to us. One scripture became a prayer for Pastor Herdie and the church in Hopkins:

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?  (I Thessalonians 3:9-10)

For ourselves, we prayed the following prayer:

To this end also we pray… that our God will count [us] worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.  (II Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Rolando had a few suggestions and sent another estimate.  It was still too high. We had gotten some idea of building prices when we were in Belize, and these estimates seemed so much higher.  Our house hadn’t sold, we hadn’t even gotten an offer yet, but even if it sold, we wouldn’t have enough money to cover this last estimate, along with other associated costs, such as where we would live while home in Pennsylvania.  Charles, in faith, had even written about our calling to Belize in his online blog site.  We had felt sure about Rolando and now we urgently believed that we needed to keep “walking on the water” and keeping our eyes on Jesus.

I went back to my Bible, reading again in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.  In Chapter five I read, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (I Thessalonians 5:24).

A couple of days later, I was looking again at the estimate.  I was stunned when I saw at the top of the column written in very small letters:  BZD,  (or “Belize Dollars”).  Rolando’s estimate was in Belize dollars, not US dollars!  That meant that the house would cost half as much as we thought it would.  I charged out of the house to find Charles and tell him what I had discovered.  We truly believe God sent us a huge blessing that day.

Calm Waters

Suddenly the waves were gone, and the water was calm.  It was easy to see that Jesus was with us.  There was a great deal of praise and happy dancing going on that day!  We emailed Rolando and gave him permission to have his architect look at our floor plan.  Working with the architect, Salim, we spent a few weeks exchanging ideas and came up with a final plan. We then received another estimate which we interpreted correctly and knew that with the sale of our house here we could pay for this home and remain debt free.  Now the build was contingent upon the completed purchase of the lot.

In June we made a decision to sell our camper/travel trailer.  It was only two years old, and we had taken good care of it, but we figured we would not use it enough to keep, and it would be nice to have the money for our move.  We found a large dealership in Bath, NY, that would sell it on consignment, so we took it up there and prayed it would sell quickly.  It didn’t sell quickly, but amazingly it did sell late in August.  By then we had begun to think about bringing it home since it was so late in the summer.  Who would buy the travel trailer when camping season was almost over?  Once again, God showed us who was in control!

On June 11th and 12th we had a huge moving sale at a friend’s house located on a busy road.  We sold a bed, sofa set, table, dressers, and many household items and tools.  It was exhausting, but it felt good to be rid of things we no longer needed.  With assurance, we told anyone who asked that we were scaling down to move part-time to Belize and live in a smaller house here.  We had the Salvation Army pick up everything we had left over.

A month later on July 11th, we received an offer to buy our house.  We were so grateful, and we felt encouraged in our faith journey.  Then, on July 18, we got a congratulatory message saying that the sale on the Belize lot was complete and we were the new owners of number 32, Sittee Point, Belize.  All we could do was thank the Lord for making our path clear.

The next day we contacted the surveyor our builder Rolando had recommended since we needed an up-to-date survey of the Belize lot.  We wired the money, and the surveyor emailed us a couple of days later  to write that he had finished surveying.  We then learned from Rolando that we needed to apply for a building permit.  Both Rolando and our Real Estate Agent in Belize, John Stewart, helped us through this process.  It would apparently take four to six weeks to be approved.

Another Wave Hits

Near the end of July, however, another large wave hit.  Our Real Estate Agent here in the U.S. phoned to say that the buyers had changed their minds and didn’t feel like they could continue with the purchase of our home.  We were too stunned to talk about it, but both of us prayed.  I went by myself into the bathroom and quietly told the Lord I wasn’t going to complain because our plan was His plan and He knew the timing.  This was not easy to do because my feelings of fear hit hard.

We had gone so far with our commitment in Belize, and we were so excited about God’s call!  Charles went outside to do some yard work which I understood was his place to be alone and pray.  There were so many parts to this puzzle, and they all had to be pieced together for this vision to be accomplished.

About four hours later the Real Estate agent phoned and said, “You must have been praying!”  I told her we certainly had been.  “Well, your buyers have changed their minds; they really want your house.”  Wow!  To say we were relieved is an understatement.  The sea had calmed.  We figured we would need to plan another trip to Belize after closing in September so we could meet the builder in person and make decisions about colors, countertops, and the placement of the house on the lot.

The buyers sent a home inspector to look at the house, and we began checking off the list of improvements he felt were necessary.  It was a little mind boggling at first since one of the improvements necessary was a whole new heating and air conditioning system.  We had no idea ours was so near collapse.  Again, though, we trusted that God would get us through this move debt free.  We needed to keep our eyes on Him and not on the waves.  We had already seen God meet our needs so many times when we trusted Him.

Surging Waves Hit

On August 5th the Real Estate agent phoned and said she had bad news again.  My heart felt like it dropped to the floor.  We had made arrangements with our daughter and son-in-law to rent a small house they owned on their property.  It hadn’t been lived in for several years, so we were there cleaning and repairing when we got the phone call.  “The buyers have changed their minds again and they won’t be purchasing your house.”   This was the biggest and hardest hitting wave yet.

Momentarily, we lost sight of Jesus in the midst of the huge wave crashing over us.  Charles and I gave each other a despairing look and again felt too shocked initially to talk much about it.  Our only communication was, “What do we do now?”  We held hands and said a quick prayer and then went back to our work on the house.  So far, we owned the lot in Belize, which had been surveyed, and we had applied for a building permit.  Our house had been scheduled to close around September 5th, and Rolando, our builder, had told us he could begin the build the first of October, providing he received the permit and first installment payment.

All the puzzle pieces had flown apart.  Both of us were praying and seeking God, although the temptation to sink in the water was great.  Many times we had to ask for His peace.  We both decided that if we had gotten it wrong, we would be willing to let go of the vision and be satisfied with having invested in a lot in Belize.  I emailed Rolando and told him to put the plans on hold until we notified him that we had sold our house.

He wrote back, “No worries.  I can do that.”  Yes, if we were truly walking with the Lord and keeping our eyes on Him, we shouldn’t have any worries.  It was a struggle to deal with relisting our house and starting over again, but we signed all the paperwork again, and the house went back on the market.

The Word says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).  We needed to trust and not waver just because we didn’t understand what was happening.  In Matthew 8, Jesus needed to get away from the crowds, and He told His disciples they were going to the other side of the sea (V. 18).

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.  And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”  He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:23-27).

I imagine the disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would have them get into a boat and experience a horrifying storm.  Jesus clearly reminded them that with faith they could be overcomers, no matter what they faced.  We only needed to ask Jesus to rebuke the “winds and sea” on our behalf.

After a few days, with humble hearts, Charles and I both felt that we needed to operate in faith again, so we could observe how Jesus was going to rescue this situation.  We notified Rolando that he could continue to plan on building the house in October.  We knew we had enough savings to make the first payment of the build and God would provide.  With this decision made, our spirits felt renewed, and we felt like we were back where we were supposed to be.  It was entirely up to Him to put all the puzzle pieces together.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (I Peter 5:6-7).

In August Rolando sent us a picture of the lot to show us what the surveyor had done.  When we looked at it, it didn’t look right.  I sent the picture to our Real Estate agent, John, who immediately wrote back saying that this picture was not of our lot!  John went to our lot and notified us that it had not been surveyed.  We contacted Rolando and told him to have the surveyor stop by the Real Estate Office and have John show him the correct lot.

After going to the lot with John, the surveyor emailed an apology and told us he would survey our lot immediately.  On August 22, John sent us an email verifying that our lot had been surveyed.  God had truly protected us again.  With much relief, we thanked him for his help and then contacted Evan at Royale International, Belize, to tell him he could begin the excavating. Without even a deposit, this wonderful company began excavating around September 1st.

Another Trip to Belize

We decided after this experience that it would be a good idea to visit Belize again for a week, so we could meet face to face with Evan, the excavator, and Rolando, the contractor.  We left on September 8th; this time we had an uneventful flight to Belize City airport and then flew in the little Maya Cessna plane to Dangriga, Belize, where our friend Golden picked us up and drove us to Hopkins.  It was fun to see him and be greeted by someone we knew.  Golden’s huge smile is contagious.  In the car he pointed out where several places were and answered our questions about the church in Hopkins.  He was excited because he was getting a license to be able to take people on fishing excursions.

We stayed at a resort called Jaguar Reef, not far from our lot.   We were greeted Belizean style and given drinks upon our arrival and then shown to our little cabana with a palapa roof.  It was beautiful and comfortable, but we were excited to go see our lot.  We unpacked and each got a bicycle provided by the resort and took off.

The lot was only about a mile up the road, but we still had a little difficulty remembering where it was.  When we found it, we were astonished at how picturesque the property looked. The excavators had leveled the lot and removed the mangrove trees and gigantic roots down near the water.  We stepped into the warm Caribbean Sea, and it felt wonderful.  The sense of God’s blessing was so powerful, we were overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation.

We biked back and had a fish burrito dinner at a café near the resort.  Mostly expats were eating there since the café is located near the resorts at the south end of Hopkins Village.  We had Belize style burritos and fried plantain chips, which were fun to try, and we liked the taste.


Local Fishermen

The next morning we resumed the routine we had started during our last visit in April and took a morning swim in the sea.  As expected, it was warm and calm.    We were fascinated to watch as several men launched a very heavy looking canoe.  When they go out fishing in Hopkins Village, they must drag or push the boat from the sand out into the water and then jump in since there are no close docks in the village.  Upon returning, they head straight into the sand as fast as they can and then pull the boat up on the dry sand.  If there is a motor, one man lifts it up just as they get into the very shallow water, and the boat shoots up on the sand.

We made plans to meet Evan, our excavator, at the lot a little later in the day, so we bicycled down to the Real Estate office where John Stewart worked, which was also on the way to the lot.  We wanted to thank him in person for all the help he had given, and it was good to see him again, like meeting an old friend.  He invited us to meet him and his wife, Paragi, at a local café called Lucky Lobster for dinner that night.  After a nice visit, we bicycled down to meet with Evan. 


It was encouraging to meet and talk to Evan, our excavator, as we watched one of his crew leveling the lot and seeing how conscientiously they did their work.  We asked him about payment, and he said he would send us the bill when the work was completed in about two days, and we could pay him after we were back in the States.  “No worries!”  We were surprised at his trust in us!  Evan piled our bikes in the back of his truck and gave us a ride back to our resort.

We relaxed and cooled off a while in our room and then went for a bike ride around the village.  September is the month when many of the expats and locals who own resorts, cafes, and other businesses take off.  Several of the places where we liked to eat and visit were closed.  We stopped at Golden’s shop to visit a little. It was fun to see the Hopkins kids coming back to school after their noon lunch break.  We found a little bakery located next to a house and bought some cakes to take back to our cabana for lunch.

On Saturday, we biked to Pastor Herdie’s house.  He was not there because he had been invited to speak in Guatemala.  We had a short visit with one of his sons, though, who was very friendly and polite. Charles left one of his books for Pastor Herdie to read.

Riding back, we got pretty hot, so we took another swim in the sea and then had a relaxing afternoon and evening at the resort.  We looked forward to visiting the church again.

Sunday morning, as we were walking along the beach, three young Garifuna boys approached us asking if we wanted to donate money for their soccer team.  We told them we had already donated to the girls’ soccer team, but that didn’t dissuade them.  It’s hard not to support these kids, even though we don’t know if they really are on a soccer team because they have so little.

Unfortunately, because they spot us as tourists, we’re sometimes targets because they think we’re rich, but we do have so much more than they do.  We talked to them for a little while, asking them if they liked to play baseball.  They said they didn’t play because this sport isn’t as familiar to them as soccer.  We asked them if they’d like to play if they had baseball equipment.  One got a little excited and asked, “Can we have hats like that?” pointing at the cap Charles was wearing.  It seemed like they were more interested in caps than in having a ball, bat, or glove.  We would love to have had three caps to give them right then, but maybe we will be able to bring some with us when we go back.

One of the ideas we’ve had is to have a baseball camp where we could show the kids how to play baseball and then have Bible classes with them.  It would be wonderful to have groups come to Hopkins for periods of time to hold Christian baseball camps, too.  The village has a large level park where they could possibly play.

For lunch we ate at the Jaguar Reef Resort, where we were staying.  Part of the meal included yucca (pronounced “you-ka” by locals) fries.  They’re a little more solid in texture and chewy than potato fries, but so delicious.  The Yucca Giganta plant is native to Belize and Costa Rica.  It was fun to try something new.  Interestingly, much of the food there is a variation of Mexican food with which we are very familiar.

We decided to rent a golf cart at the resort to drive into the village for dinner before we went to church.  There weren’t too many places open, but at the north end of the village, we found a small place called Northside Kitchen with a few tables set up outside a house under a carport.  When we stopped, we were greeted warmly by the owner.  She didn’t have a menu, she explained, because she makes one dish and then sells it until it is gone!  Today was chicken.  It was moist and tender and yummy.

While we were eating, we talked to a couple of women who were there visiting the owner.  It was an enjoyable meal and another opportunity to meet a few of the locals.  It was surprising how many people came by for take-out while we sat there and ate.  When we finished, we said “good-bye” to everyone and told them we would be back in February when our house was built.

We wanted to go to the little grocery store to get some snacks, and on the way, we saw two women walking.  We asked them if they wanted a ride, and they were so happy.  They talked, giggled, and waved to friends as we drove to the grocery store.

Coming out of the store, we saw a little boy who looked familiar.  He asked if he could go for a ride on the golf cart. I asked him if he was one of the boys that sell cakes.  It turned out he was one of the boys who would come to our cabana every night when we had been in Hopkins last April.  He told us his name was Brayden.  We told him he could have a ride, but that we were going to church, so we asked if he would like to go to church with us.  He wanted to go, so we had him show us where he lived so I could check in with his parents.

It was a roundabout ride and then a walk through the brush for about a quarter of a block to his tiny house.  It probably wasn’t necessary to ask his parents since the Belizean kids seem to run comfortably around all over the village without supervision, but it was nice to meet Braydon’s mother.  She was a beautiful young woman nursing a newborn.  She told me Braydon could go to church, but he needed a bath.  I told her I thought he was fine, and we could take him “as is.”  I asked her if she wanted to go with us too, but she said she couldn’t because she had just had the baby, even though she liked going to church.

On the ride to the church, Charles asked Brayden if he knew Jesus.  He said yes, but Charles still explained to him that he could pray and ask Jesus into his heart. When we got to the church building, Brayden became bashful; he would sit with us only for a few minutes and then go outside and stand by the open side door near where we sat.

It was a joy to see Pastor Herdie.  It was a little early, so he was setting up the floor fans and some chairs.  After talking with him briefly, he began walking around silently praying like we had seen him doing last time.

As people began arriving, I saw Kendra and walked over to give her a hug.  She looked very pregnant now, but was feeling good.  I had a lollipop for her, and she giggled with delight to see it.  Kendra told me she was due in October.  I told her that the next time I saw her, I would be happy to see her baby.  She seemed pleased.  I told her I had been praying for her, and she thanked me and told me not to stop!

The singing began, and this time more songs were sung in Garifuna than before.  The music blessed us even though we didn’t understand the words.  Pastor Herdie is a songwriter, so I imagine they were singing some of his original music.  Once again, we were aware of the people’s total lack of self-consciousness and their ability to sing “from the heart” during the worship.  The lyrics were all known by the people, and there were no songbooks or projected lyrics.

The same “prayer warrior” came up, and again she again prayed right out of the Scriptures with amazing boldness and power.  What a blessing!  Two ministers from Guatemala were also visiting, and Pastor Herdie introduced them and had each one share a brief testimony in Garifuna.

Since Pastor Herdie had been out speaking during the week, he had a man speak in the service who was originally from the United States.  I think the man and his wife have been living there at Sittee River for around two years.  He shared an excellent Word-based message of faith.

We hadn’t seen Brayden for a while, and we hoped he was still outside or had gone home.  When the service ended, we talked with another couple who had moved to Dangriga from the US, and then briefly with the Pastor, who told us his wife was temporarily in Punta Gorda, Belize.  He looked very tired, so we said goodbye and hoped we’d get a chance to see him again before we left Belize.

When we went outside, we were relieved to see Brayden sitting in the golf cart waiting for us.  We took him home and then went back to the resort.  It was another enjoyable evening and we continued to feel blessed.

On Monday, after our morning swim and sharing time, we went for a bicycle ride to the village.  We had just passed the church when we saw Pastor Herdie along the road.  We stopped to say hi and asked him about his wife.  He invited us to go into the church building, and we sat down together.

He shared that two of his sons and his wife had temporarily moved to Punta Gorda, where she has relatives, and where their older boys could attend school.  They were occasionally able to visit during weekends, but it was a difficult situation.  He never complained, but repeatedly told us they were in God’s hands and He would take care of them in this transitory situation.

He additionally shared with us that his oldest daughter had died about six months before.  The story was heartbreaking, and it was hard to keep back the tears, but again Pastor Herdie was full of trust, for he had obviously received God’s peace and comfort.  While talking to him that day, we saw the hurt and pain evident after 30 years of serving as Pastor in Hopkins, but at the same time, he exudes a quiet joy and peace. 

He made us mindful of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We shared with him that our house had not yet sold, but God had led us to “get out of the boat” and trust Him.  We further explained that we had told the builder he could go ahead and begin in October.  Even though we were completely out of our comfort zone, we told him we felt we were being led of the Lord to Hopkins Village.

He seemed to understand perfectly our situation, and we had a wonderful prayer time together, praying for all of our various needs.  As we left, both Charles and I strongly felt a release and a God-given confidence.  The burden over our house was gone, and we felt renewed.

For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)    

We met Rolando and Salim, our architect, in the large lobby of Jaguar Reef later that same Monday.  We immediately had a good first impression of them both, and the more we talked about the building project, the more we felt good about it.  Salim had pages and pages of house plan diagrams from all angles, including all the electrical outlets and plumbing.  We signed the contract to build and signed off on the floorplan.

Rolando then drove us to the property.  We decided where we wanted the house to be located on the lot.  It’s going to be built on nine-foot high cement pilings, and Rolando said he would contact someone who could put the pilings in, which would be the next step.  He assured us that the building permit was coming and that we could go ahead and have the pilings put in.

He then took us to see the house he had just about finished for Dennis.  It was very impressive and well-built.  We got back in his truck and began talking more about why we were moving to Belize. Charles told him a little about our calling to Hopkins, and immediately Rolando told us that he was a Christian.  He told us about his church, and again we felt so blessed.  God had definitely brought us together, and Rolando agreed.  When he dropped us off at the resort, we felt very content.

The rest of our time at Hopkins, we relaxed.  One day we took a drive in the golf cart to the harbor and river area south of Hopkins.  As we drove we suddenly saw about 20 coatimundis run across the road ahead of us. We learned that these cute mammals are part of the raccoon family.  When we were in Belize in 2006, one of the workers at the resort had shown us a coati that was her pet.  He crawled all over her, similar to a ferret.  

On Thursday morning Golden drove us to the Dangriga Airport to begin our trip home to the U.S.  On the way he shared his amazing testimony.  We were reminded how much God loves us and reaches out to those people whose hearts are searching for Him.

Charles with Golden

We took the Cessna plane again to Belize City and then flew home to Pennsylvania from there.  Of course, it was good to see our Pennsylvania family and our dog, Louie.  We took a day to adjust, get unpacked, and get caught up on the laundry, and Charles did some yard work.

Problems With Our Home Sale

We didn’t hear anything from our Real Estate agent for a week, so we discussed whether it might be time to drop the selling price of our house once more and trust that the Lord would continue to provide what we needed for the build in Belize, as well as our housing in the U.S.  Charles, however, felt that we should wait until the following Monday before we contacted the agent.  It wasn’t long after this decision that we received a message from the Real Estate agent saying that someone wanted to see the house on Saturday, September 25th.

On the following Monday, we had an offer!  We both felt it was a direct answer to our prayers with Pastor Herdie that day when we had felt that release.  We rejoiced and believed that this time, everything would work out.  The estate closing was scheduled for October 25th.

Moving Out of Our Home

Some friends had recently moved, and they told us that they had many boxes we could use for our move.  We went over and picked up what we thought would be enough and were grateful we wouldn’t have to look everywhere for boxes.  We had finished fixing up the little house where we would be living, so we began packing and separating things we no longer needed.

Even though we had had a huge moving sale, we were still finding so many accumulated things that we no longer needed since our little rental house had only one bedroom.  It felt good to “scale down.”  We found homes for our futon, large living room rug, stereo/TV cabinet, TV, sofa, dressers, and other items.  The smaller items we donated to the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries.  It kept us busy.

In October we moved a few things to the little house so we wouldn’t have to do it all at once.  Troy, our son-in-law, along with our daughter  Bethany and the grandsons, helped us one weekend by carrying all the heavy stuff.  The little house was starting to feel like home, and we loved it.


Meanwhile, we had to wire money to Belize to get an electric permit and then have an electrician put in an electrical pole so Rolando could begin his work.  He had moved a huge container, looking like a train car, onto the lot with all his equipment.  The nine-foot pilings were in, we learned; Rolando had the building permit, and was about ready to begin construction.

On October 7th, we made our application to the Belize Water Board to have water access for our property.  To process this application and get the water hook-up would take four to six weeks.

Meanwhile, the electrical post had been installed; now we had to purchase a permit so we could actually have electricity for the house and for its construction.  This, at least, was a little easier because BEL (Belize Electric Limited) is online and we could set up the account and make the payment directly online.  It wasn’t until October 27th that the electricity was connected and available.  At that time we were still waiting for the water hook-up.

Since we didn’t have much furniture left in our house, it was feeling pretty bare and cold.  With the help of Bethany and the grandsons, we got our heavy latex mattress moved to the little house.  We added a few personal items and moved in on October 8th.

After this, we gradually moved everything over and tried to unpack boxes as we brought them over.  Since Fall weather was beginning, I was able to put most of the summer clothes and small things we would take to Belize in plastic tubs that we stored in the garage below the house.  We enjoyed being in the little house and having the grandsons drop in now and then to see how we were doing.  Our furniture consisted of one sofa, two end tables, one cabinet, one dresser, along with our bed and two-night stands.  We felt so free!


Another Wave Hits

Everything during the escrow was going fairly smoothly until the day before closing.  On October 24th, around noon, our Real Estate agent telephoned to say we had a problem.  We could see the wave hitting again, and it was troubling, to say the least.  For some reason, the buyer’s bank had approved the loan for the house before receiving the appraisal.

Our agent told us that the appraisal had just been released, and it was $26,000 less than our selling price!  This news was astounding since our agent had agreed that our price was very marketable.  Did this mean the sale was off?  The Agent assured us she was going to find comparable sales herself to try to convince the buyers the price was reasonable.

(To Be Continued:  Part III in next Blog Post)

Moving For Purpose, Part I (by Jan Jenkins)

                                         20160421_115130 (1)

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  Is. 40: 29 – 31

At times the days go by slowly, and at other times they seem to go by very quickly.  Our whole family was together for Thanksgiving, which felt so good, and then the surge of the Christmas season passed quickly.  After the first of the year, 2016, Chuck and I felt apathetic. He had had surgery the previous October, and the recovery took longer than we expected because of some difficulties in the operating room, so we were so thankful when he was feeling much better.  A follow-up appointment in January showed that he was doing very well, and all his following appointments since then have been encouraging.  In fact, we had much to be thankful for, so why the lethargy?  Family, home, health, church, and friends were all a blessing to us.

We began praying that we would know God’s direction and that we would discern the plan and purpose God had for us.  Was retirement going to be settling down, finding some new hobbies, or taking an extended vacation?  Charles retired from the University in the spring of 2014, and for over a year we had reveled in the freedom we had to go on short camping trips in our new travel trailer whenever we wanted.  Now, there was an inner sense that there should be more for us.  Where was our place?  Where did we fit?  We had helped with leadership in the church home groups for a couple of years, but this ministry appeared to have ended since we never received further guidance.  I don’t remember how many times I asked the Lord what our purpose was. 

Getting Acquainted with Belize in 2006


A number of years ago in 2006, we had visited Hopkins, Belize, a predominately Garifuna community in Central America, and we loved it there.  The tropical sunny climate, the beautiful Caribbean Sea, and the enchanting rainforest with the howler monkeys were a joy.  The history of Belize and particularly the Garifuna people is intriguing. For many years Belize was inhabited by the Mayan civilization which accounts for the incredible Mayan ruins that can still be seen today.  Currently, Belize is home to the Creole, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo (Spanish and Native Americans), Mennonite (Amish) peoples, as well as a blend of many other cultures.   The Garifuna came from the inter-married Arawak Indians and Carib Indians of St. Vincent Island.  After the British tried to subdue the native people, a minority of survivors were deported to Roatan, Honduras.  However, the Garifuna were again forced to flee and landed on the southern coastline of Belize in 1832. 

In a victory over the Spanish in the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798, the British were given control and British Honduras became a British colony.  The name was changed on June 1, 1973, to Belize, and on September 21, 1981, Belize became independent.  In 1954 all adults could finally vote in Belize, and in 1986 the first university opened there. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Garifuna culture a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2001.  This proclamation was made to raise awareness and protection of the Garifuna culture.  The government in Belize is a parliamentary, representative democratic monarchy.  The prime minister is the head of the government, and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. 

Chuck and I decided to look at airplane fares and reservations to see if another trip to Belize looked possible.  After doing some research, we decided to plan a trip for the following April 2016.  This trip would give us something to look forward to and plenty of time to plan, look for flights, and find a place to stay. 

We chose to go back to Hopkins, Belize, which is a small fishing village on the southern coast of Belize in a district called Stann Creek.  It is a small multicultural community consisting mostly of Garifuna people with a few Mayan people, and a small expat gathering.  English is spoken with a beautiful rhythm and is relatively easy to understand for native English speakers.   Spanish is also occasionally heard among some of the people.  They are a happy, contented people and very friendly to everyone.  The first time we visited Hopkins, we stayed at Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, which is a beautiful resort located right on the Caribbean Sea that specializes in diving, snorkeling, and various tours of the area including the rainforest.  This time we felt confident enough to stay on our own in a location in the village of Hopkins itself.  After much internet searching, we found a small house, or cabana, to rent in the center of the village facing the Caribbean Sea. We made reservations for April 19th to the 26th.     

Seeking Direction    

As excited as we were to return to Belize, we still were grappling with purpose and God’s direction for us here at home in the United States.  We began thinking that maybe there was a higher reason to revisit Hopkins Village than merely a time of vacation.  We were both still searching for that answer.  I began looking at all the activities there were to do in the Hopkins area. 

On our first visit we had stayed for a few days in the rainforest in a beautiful resort called Lamanai Outpost Lodge before going to Hamanasi.  We hiked all around Mayan Ruins, climbed to the top of the magnificent Lamanai Mayan ruins, gone with a guide to hunt and tag crocodiles on the river, enjoyed the Howler Monkeys, taken an all day hike in the rainforest to beautiful Antelope Falls, where we went for a swim, and we had gone snorkeling along the Barrier Reef.  Now in the village area, cave tubing, river rafting, a Jaguar Reserve, zip lining, and sea fishing were available.  Initially, I thought we could plan one activity for each day since when we were there previously we had focused mainly on adventures and sightseeing. 


This time, however, we decided to see if we could find a church in the village to visit. I researched the area and found a church called Ligilisi Lareini Bunjiu, in Garifuna, and in English, “Church of Grace.”  We decided that we would try to find the pastor after we arrived.  With this first decision, it felt like God began speaking to us more about our visit.  Chuck had a vivid dream one early morning in which we were in Belize actively involved in ministry.  He woke up excited to share it with me.  Now we talked more about mixing with the Garifuna people and looking for ministry opportunities

By April, we additionally began to discuss whether, or not, God was actually calling us to a longer ministry in Hopkins Village.  Both of us believed that God had a higher purpose for this visit, and we needed to be in prayer for His guidance and wisdom. 

Meanwhile, our home here in the U.S. began to feel a little uncomfortable.  We had just attended a semi-annual Home Owners Association (HOA) meeting, and when the discussion focused on getting a large bank loan to repair the private road for our community, we became very unsettled.  Our plan since the early days of our Christian ministries, and God’s plan for us, is that we stay out of debt:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who  his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

This loan, however, would put everyone in the association in debt for the next 20 years.  If they were able to get the loan, it would only take a majority vote to commit all the families in the association to this large debt.  The majority at the meeting didn’t want simply to fix the eroded and cracked places, but also to resurface the whole road.    I felt the Lord speaking to my heart saying that we were “unequally yoked,” with unbelievers who were making financial decisions we didn’t agree with. This situation, along with the upkeep on our house on six acres, which was becoming more difficult, made us begin thinking about downsizing.  Maybe it was time to sell the house and look for something smaller.  

Maybe it was time to sell the house and look for something smaller.  Meanwhile, at the very least, we would have a nice vacation in Belize, we could have some time away to think about our situation more, and finally, perhaps, we could come to a decision about our house.

We remembered many years ago hearing a speaker talk about the eagle’s nest.  The parent eagles prepare a comfortable home for their eaglets with soft, downy feathers, and they carry plenty of food to them.  When the eaglets grow their juvenile feathers and become more ready to leave the nest, the parent eagles rough it up so that there are irritating sticks surfacing instead of the soft covering of feathers and other plant life that had made their home so comfortable.  This new discomfort makes them want to leave the nest.  We concluded, perhaps, that because our nest was becoming a bit scratchy, it was time to make a move.  Now we began thinking that if we were able to sell our house and move into something smaller, we might consider having a house in Belize.

On April 17, we made a decision to phone a Real Estate agent and ask her to look at our house.  She was available to come out that afternoon, so we showed her around.  She thought the house was “saleable” and was willing to do a “soft listing” while we were in Belize, which meant that while we were gone she could show the house to anyone interested, as well as to colleagues in her office, to get a feel for the market.  Incredibly, after living in this house nearly 21 years, we felt very peaceful about our decision.

We did some frantic house cleaning, packed, and left for Belize two days later on April 19.  Since we hadn’t flown out of the country since 2006, we had forgotten some of the steps we had to take to get through customs, and we were sometimes mystified at the rude attitude of the TSA officers.  When we boarded the airliner to fly from Miami to Belize City, we felt relieved that we had successfully made it through all the checkpoints. 

At one point, when our plane began to taxi to the runway, suddenly there was a screeching of brakes, skidding, and a loud noise at the back of the plane as the plane came to a stop.  All the passengers were jerked forward, and I half expected the oxygen cups to come flying out!  We looked back and saw that all the metal cupboards in the back of the cabin had flown open and the big bin of ice had sailed off the shelf and hit the flight attendant in the head.  She was bent over in pain, and all the attendants from the front of the plane came running down the aisle to assist her.  Behind them, a woman came hurrying down the aisle saying, “I’m a doctor, let me help.”  After giving the woman immediate first aid, the pilot decided to take her back for medical attention at the airport.  Over the intercom, he explained to all the passengers that this meant a “few minutes delay” while they found a substitute flight attendant. 

Nothing was explained about why the sudden stop was necessary, but later we learned that another plane had been headed in our direction because the tower had neglected to notice that both planes were given clearance and were taxing at the same time to the same runway.  About an hour later we were finally ready for take-off again. 

This was the second time we were flying to Belize, yet the first time we had another unique experience when we were certain of God’s protection.  In 2006 we had a layover at Atlanta.  When our boarding announcement was broadcast, we saw two Arab men hug one another and say their good-byes.  As we boarded the plane, we saw that our seats were directly behind the one Arab man who had boarded ahead of us.  He didn’t have anyone seated next to him so he spread his prayer cloth on the seat and began reading a book. 

I peeked through the two seats and saw the title of the book written in English:  Journey of Death.  This was alarming, but I kept thinking how God was sending us on this vacation and that He surely would protect us.  Even if something horrific happened, I knew where we were going, so I tried not to think about it.  None of the attendants seemed to notice him.  I realized later that I should have said something to a flight attendant, but at the time I didn’t want to call attention to him if he were innocent.  I said a prayer, though, for protection as we got ready for take-off. 

After leaving the runway, I peeked again between the seats and saw that he was asleep.  He slept through the whole flight and didn’t wake up until we landed.  God used this experience to remind me how He protects those who trust in Him.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me. (Ps 23:4)

We had a good flight to Belize City and went through customs.  The Belize International Airport is small and crowded, but it is fun to arrive and feel that immediate immersion into the culture.  There are several small shops that sell souvenirs and snacks around the perimeter of the room, with a tight seating area in the middle. We saw a sign for a restaurant, but never could find it in this small area!      2017-01-24_1029.png

Our next flight to Dangriga, Belize, was in a small Cessna that carried only six passengers, and after only 10 minutes we saw that we were landing again.  When we landed, the pilot said nothing to us, but we looked out and saw that they were loading several large boxes of vegetables onto the plane.  When they finished a couple of workers boarded, and then we were off again!  This time we landed in Dangriga Airport and we were picked up by a driver who took us to our small, colorful rented cabana in Hopkins Village. 

 2017-01-24_1030.pngIn the kitchen we noticed that all the knobs on the stove were labeled in Spanish.  We later found out that many of the “Mabe” appliances are made in Mexico and sold in Belize.  The cabana was pleasant, with a wonderful Caribbean breeze off the sea coming through the windows.  Occasionally, we would spot a gecko crawling along the wall.  We were told they eat bugs, so we left them alone.  We also saw beautiful Frigate Birds flying over the sea.

 We initially had a couple of days of adjustment to the tropical weather and the general environment.  It was hard to believe we were back in Belize, and we were even a little disoriented with all the activity around and the differences we immediately felt as a result of being in a different culture.  We were in the center of the village, so there was noise, and people, and children all around.  Out on the veranda, we would see an occasional small Iguana scamper across the sand.  They were fun to look at because when they run, they stand up on their two back feet.  Later, on a drive we saw one that was almost three feet long.  At night we could hear drumming at one of the nearby clubs.

On one side of the cabana, a crew of construction workers were building a house.  One evening we decided to try to knock off a coconut from one of the trees.  We found a stick but it didn’t reach high enough, so we tried jumping but couldn’t dislodge one.   One of the construction crew was sitting watching us and probably laughing inwardly at our technique.  Chuck asked him in Spanish if he could help us. The man found a longer piece of wood left over in a pile, and he was able to get us two coconuts immediately.  Between our limited Spanish and his limited English, we had a brief conversation and found out his name was Roberto and that he had probably traveled from Guatemala for this job.  After that, whenever we saw him, we greeted him in Spanish, and he would always greet us in English.


In the Garifuna language, the words for the village, Yugadan, Balisi, are translated “Hopkins, Belize.” In the village are many beautiful seafront properties with very small make-shift wooden homes that have been owned by families for generations. It is not uncommon for trash to be thrown outside on the sand, where it is then occasionally raked up and burned, along with sea grass that washes ashore. 


Hopkins is a small village with perhaps 1200 residents, many of whom are employed at the local resorts that have been built up over the years.  Many people own cafes or souvenir shops, or they just set up tables along the main road to sell food daily to tourists or school children for lunches.  One night we bought “burritos” from a woman who had set up a table.  To us, they were more like tostitos than burritos, but they were very tasty, nevertheless.

In the evening of our first night, though, we walked to a cafe called “Innies.”  We ordered a traditional Garifuna dish called Hudut, which is fish cooked in a coconut broth and served with a mound of mashed plantains.  When our bowl of soup, or stew, arrived, along with a plate with a huge mound of mashed plantain, we had no idea how to eat it.  We asked the waitress for help, who giggled and looked at her family gathered in the kitchen; they also thought our question was funny.  She then told us how to take the plantain mash and dip it into the “fish soup.”  This was our first experience eating plantains, and later we also had them fried, similar to French fried potatoes, or “thick chips.”

Since we were last in Hopkins ten years before our trip in 2016, a gracious expat had opened a Humane Society to help with the homeless animals that roamed the village.  Today, veterinarians donate time to provide vaccinations and care as necessary, and the services are all free.  On Sundays, The Lucky Lobster, a local eating establishment, has “Bow Wow Sunday,” a time when they invite customers to purchase a specific dish or drink, with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Hopkins Humane Society.  While we were staying in our village cabana, we had a temporary pet that would regularly come by and sometimes sleep on the veranda.  This dog looked healthy, but we never did find out if she had an owner.  We saw that there was a bag of dog food in the kitchen, so occasionally we put out a little food for the dog, who we named “Sandy,” since she seemed to come to us from the beach.  If she saw us walking outside, she often would come over and walk with us.

While we were staying in our village cabana, we had a temporary pet that would regularly come by and sometimes sleep on the veranda.  This dog looked healthy, but we never did find out if she had an owner.  We saw that there was a bag of dog food in the kitchen, so occasionally we put out a little food for the dog, whom we named “Sandy,” since she seemed to come to us from the beach.  If she saw us walking outside, she often would come over and walk with us.

Holy Family Roman Catholic School


From walking around the village and having conversations with people, we found out that the village school is what we call a “public school” in the US, but operated by the Catholic Church in Belize.  English is taught in the schools in Belize, but Garifuna is spoken among friends and family.  The children wear uniforms and generally walk to school or ride bikes.  For lunch they come back home or purchase food from women who set out tables of food along the road.  It was fun to sit outside at one of the cafes and watch the children go by. They’re somewhat shy, but responsive to a smile or wave.  I quickly found out that they love lollipops!

We learned that at the house next door to our cabana the owner rented bicycles, so we walked over to rent two of them.  All the bicycles we saw were “fat tire” bikes with peddle brakes.  However, now we could do a little more exploring of the village area.  We first biked to the north end of town, the home of the Drumming Center, where Garifuna drummers entertain and teach any willing visitor how to drum.  The Garifuna drums are hollowed out from solid trunks of Mahogany, Mayflower, or Cedar, made into a cylinder-shape, and then sanded smooth.  The skin of a deer, sheep, or goat may be used to cover the top of the drum, with cow skin for the larger drums, using rope and vines to secure the skin to the drum.  Eight pins are used to tighten the rope and these are used also to tune the drums.  The drums sit in the sun to dry and the skin is sanded smooth.  A drum called “Primero” is usually twelve inches or less in diameter providing a high sound, and a “Segundo” drum will be fourteen to eighteen inches or more and providing a bass sound. 

Lessons at the Drumming Center


Chuck was given a drumming lesson when we were in Hopkins the first time, and they had him drumming so long that he felt like his fingers were going numb!  It truly takes lessons and practice to beat the drums correctly.  

It was fun to visit the Drumming Center again and see that it was larger now, and easily accommodating more people that before.  The man in charge was just as friendly and talkative as the first time we visited.



We also met a Mayan woman who owns a souvenir shop selling both Mayan and Garifuna items.  She took us around her property showing us various edible fruits, as well as some that are medicinal.  One of the most unique fruits was the noni, which is used to make juice that the people believe kills cancer and many other illnesses.  Juice is made by letting the ripe noni sit in a glass jar in the sun making the juice seep out of the fruit over several weeks.  She says she drinks the juice every day, and she gave us one so we could try it.  The fruit is also eaten raw or cooked.  We tried the juice, and found it had a very bitter taste and the smell was pretty unpleasant.  The “free range” chickens in the village, however, like the ripe, softened noni fruit!

Seeing Golden Again!


We also saw a souvenir shop named “Golden Gifts.”  We remembered that in 2006, when we were there in Hopkins, we had a guide named Golden who took us on a hike to a beautiful waterfall called Antelope Falls.  We remembered him because of his name and because he was so informed about the plants, trees, and animals of the area.  We had a welcoming reunion with Golden, who now owns his own shop and has his own tourist company called “D Golden Tours.”  We’re so happy that Golden has been successful in his business since he was such a good tour guide.  On the way back to the cabana, we saw a woman washing a huge pile of clothes using a large bucket of soapy water and a washboard.  We waved as we rode by, and she waved back.

View From Driftwood Plaza

On another day we went on our bicycles up to the north end of Hopkins Village to eat at a highly recommended café called Driftwood Pizza.   It was a cute place, scenically located right on the beach.  There were tables inside and outside with a volleyball net on the sand and a few hammocks (the first choice for relaxation in Belize).  We ordered pizza from the waiter with several toppings, including coconut.  We saw the cook go out, knock a coconut off a tree and then take it to a place near the kitchen where she cracked it open with ease.  She got some coconut and began grating it to be put on the pizza.  Right before the pizza was done, she brought something rounded and light brown in color and placed it on our napkins.  We thought it might be some kind of a bread roll, so I asked her what it was.  She explained it was a rock to keep the napkins from blowing away in the light Caribbean Sea breeze!  Surprised, I told her I thought it was something to eat!  She and the waiter could hardly stop laughing!  Silly gringos!


 After a couple of days in the cabana, we started having young visitors every night selling cakes their mother had made during the day.  There were always two or three little boys who would knock on the door or look in the windows to get our attention.  They were lively and always wanted to try on our shoes which we always left outside the front door!  I gave them lollipops which probably encouraged them to come every night, and it was impossible for us to refuse to buy a cake!



2017-01-24_1051.pngOn Thursday afternoon we went out for another walk and decided to see if we could find the church and Pastor Herdie Castillo.  Everyone we asked knew him, and eventually we found the church, but there was no one there.  The double front doors were locked, and the wooden shutters around the whole building were all closed.  We then began asking for directions to his house.  The people have what for us was an unusual way of giving directions.  They are so familiar with their village and where everything is that they simply list off several landmarks to watch for, and always what you are looking for is “close by.”  Most roads off the main street are made of dirt, so we never could tell if “three roads that way” included dirt paths or dirt roads since most of the roads have no names that we could see.  Finally, after three or four directions, we found Pastor Herdie’s house. 

When we got there, he was watching the NBA playoffs on television, and we were apologetic for interrupting him.  The house was very small and simple, but there was an atmosphere of peace and contentment even though there was truly a whole houseful of people.  He came outside to talk to us.  Young and older children were all around, and he introduced us to several of them who were his children and grandchildren.  They were all attractive with beautiful smiles.  His lovely wife Victoria came outside so we could meet her also.  They told us a little about their ministry, and we told them we wanted to visit the church on Sunday.


We left Pastor Herdie’s house feeling like God might indeed have a ministry for us in Hopkins Village.  Pastor Herdie was a quiet, unassuming man who obviously had much wisdom and love for the Lord, and we were drawn to his humble, godly spirit.  Later, while reading the word the following scripture “jumped out.” 

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony go God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  I. Corinthians 2:1-5

These verses resonated with us because they provided confirmation of some of the things that Pastor Herdie had talked to us about.  He shared that the best way to become immersed into the village is by quietly observing and listening to the people.  One must come into the community with humility and listen as God provides opportunities to share the gospel, while also, relying on the Holy Spirit within us to give us His power without being concerned about our weaknesses or fears. Finally, we could depend upon Him to work through us.

We walked to the CPC Real Estate office the next day, where we met John Stewart, who has lived in Belize for 20 years, but still has a home in Pennsylvania.  John took us to see several houses, but nothing seemed to stand out.  He then told us about some lots for sale along the canal and along the Sea at the southern end of Hopkins, in an area called Sittee Point (pronounced like “city”).  John took us to see some of them and then dropped us off at our cabana.  We needed time to process what we had seen, to pray and listen, and to talk together about it.

Friday morning, we went out for a swim in the sea.  This morning swim had become part of our morning routine while we were there since the incredibly warm Caribbean Sea was only about 60 feet out from the front door of our cabana. We then decided to do more exploring in the village.  We found a wood worker, named Alex, who made beautiful carvings out of the native woods of Belize. We picked a few small carvings that would fit in our suitcases to bring home for gifts, but when we went to pay we realized we hadn’t brought enough money.  He pointed to two bicycles that were parked in front of his little shop and told us we could use them to go back to our cabana instead of having to walk.  He even let us take the carvings with us.  We bicycled the six blocks or so and got our money and then returned to pay him.

On Saturday, when we went out for our morning swim, we talked about Charles’s dream again and whether, or not, we were ready to make a decision regarding a purchase in Belize.  We formulated a tentative plan if the Lord should bring us back to Belize.  After talking with Pastor Herdie, we felt that we would be there initially to Pray, to Listen, and to Watch.  The following scripture ministered to us beginning with Paul’s prayer:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.  Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as though with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person  (Colossians 4:2-6).

Part of our discussion was the connection we felt with the Garifuna people of Hopkins Village because we sensed their need for the Truth to set them free.  The Garifuna people have cultural traditions that remain very strong, so they aren’t necessarily interested in accessing the truth of God’s Word.  When they commit their lives to Jesus, they must disown occult traditions like witchcraft, including the belief in mediation with departed ancestors.  The precious Garifuna Christians, who have let go of those religious customs, have a joy and love that is amazing, but they also deal with pressure and misunderstanding from family and friends who are without Christ and who feel that these Christians have rejected their Garifuna roots.  Charles and I are both trained, professional teachers, and we felt a desire to teach the Word of God so the people might “be firmly rooted and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), while being mindful that “no one takes them captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men”  (Colossians 2:8).

We also discussed our concerns about our family and being gone from them for longer periods of time.  It would take time and much understanding for them to comprehend our vision.  It was not easy to think about being this far apart from them, and it would be a difficult separation for us.  Furthermore, we couldn’t plan this journey without thinking about how old we are, even though foreign mission work has been something we have always wanted to do. 

We Had Always Wanted to Be Missionaries

When we were first married, we wanted to be missionaries.  We traveled over two hours to Long Beach, California, for an appointment with a representative of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society.  The representative told us that even though Charles had a bachelor’s degree, as well as teaching certification, and though I was a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), we would still have to go to Bible College, and it would be at least seven years of study before we could even think about going to the mission field.  This news was overwhelming since we were in our twenties, and we were eager to move into ministry.  A while after that, we thought maybe we should apply to join the Peace Corp.  We had Christian friends who were in Africa with the Peace Corp, so we filled out the application.  We never heard back! 

Was it possible that after all these years God was finally sending us to ministry outside the US?

Later, we went to see John, the realtor and asked him about the lots for sale.  He took us for a drive to look at properties, and about an hour later we took our step of faith and made an offer on a lot! We had decided to build rather than purchase a home that could already have upkeep problems.  We had God’s peace and believed that if this was to happen He would make a way for us.  We had the money to pay for the lot, so if nothing else, it would be a good investment.  We found out that the property tax would only be $20 a year whether we built a house or not!  We felt very happy and took another swim in the sea to celebrate!

Sunday came, and as we floated in the water during our morning swim, we shared our thoughts about God’s direction and prayed that He would continue to direct us.  Again, we felt His peace.  We had learned long ago that if we wanted God to direct us, we needed to begin moving and trust that He would keep us on the right path.  Like someone has said, “It’s much harder to change the direction of a parked car than one that is already moving.”  Additionally, our God provides a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm119:105).

Worship Platform and Pastor Herdie 2017-01-24_1059.png                

Sunday Worship Service

Pastor Herdie’s Church service begins at 7:00 PM on Sundays in order to accommodate the many people who work at the local resorts on weekends and are not off until Sunday evenings.  We walked and had to ask for directions a few times since we couldn’t remember exactly where the church building was.  Again, everyone we asked was familiar with the church location.  When we arrived, we saw that the double front doors were wide open, all the wooden louvers were open at the windows (no glass), and all the lights were on.  The chairs were the plastic lawn chairs that are common here in the US.  Ceiling fans were on, and a couple of floor fans were turning.  There was a low stage with the traditional Garifuna drums and a guitar. We were a little early and saw the pastor slowly walking around the room praying.  We talked briefly with him and sat down.  

As the people entered, we noticed the smiles and general joy of the people.  The women all wore colorful dresses or skirts.  The children were shy, but would smile at us.  I had lollipops for a few of them too.  A woman sitting close to me came over and asked if she also could have a “sweet.”  I first assumed that she just wanted one because she saw the kids with them, but she explained that they made her stomach feel better.  She was in the early months of pregnancy and had been very sick.  I gave her a lollipop, and then later in the service, I gave her another one.                     

Now the church was just about full.  I would guess around 90 people.  We were so happy to see our friend Golden come in with his family.  It turned out that he was one of the two drummers who play for worship.  Pastor Herdie played the guitar and led the singing with two women as back up.  Because they have all the doors and windows open and use amplification, the sound carries out into the village.  What a testimony to hear and see these people sing out with all their hearts, each one worshipping as though no one else is there.  The songs were sung in English, and many of them were familiar to us.  They don’t have the words written out, so the songs are memorized.

                     Anointed Prayer                               

Next, a woman who was recognized as a prayer warrior came to the microphone and led us in prayer.  The power of the Holy Spirit in her as she prayed was amazing.  She opened her Bible to Deuteronomy 28:2-8 and declared these precious promises in her prayer for all of us who were there:

All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God.  Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.  Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out.  The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.  The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.  The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. (Deuteronomy 28:2-8)

Her prayer was a declaration of faith in the Word of God, and there was no doubt the Lord heard this prayer which was prayed with faith and the agreement of the congregation.  This was truly a lesson in praying and believing His promises in the Word of God, as opposed to praying a “pleasing” prayer that just sounds good for listeners.

Golden on Drum and Pastor Herdie on Guitar

They had a greeting time, a time which always makes me nervous, but as the worship leaders sang and played the drums and guitar, it seemed so natural.  In an unselfconscious way, everyone, including the children, went around to one another for a quick hug and simply saying, “God bless you.”  It was not a time for conversation, but a brief blessing for one another.  There didn’t seem to be any hesitancy about including us in their blessings.  It was wonderful to feel so embraced.

One of the issues Pastor Herdie faces is the occult traditions of the Garifuna people.  He understands the hold the enemy tries to keep on these Christians.  In his message, Pastor Herdie spoke about this struggle and strongly urged the people to cease these practices which include trying to “hear” what their ancestors are saying.  He exhorted them, saying that our Savior, Jesus Christ, gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us, and He is the only one we should be listening to.  He encouraged people to live in righteousness and to listen to the Holy Spirit. 

At the end of the service, the pastor asked two or three people to come up for prayer.  One of the women was Kendra, to whom I had given sweets and who was truly suffering from morning sickness.  As he prayed for each individual, everyone in the congregation prayed too.  I was so blessed by this prayer time because I had been feeling all through the service that Kendra needed special prayer.  After this, all the people sang Happy Birthday in Garifuna to one of the men.  It was delightful to hear it sung in their language.

As we walked home, we felt spiritually refreshed and confident of God’s calling.  We were so excited.  Later, God gave us the following scripture:

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face[s], and may complete what is lacking in your faith?  Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you. (II Thessalonians 3:9-11)  

The following Monday morning, we went for our early swim and had our habitual sharing time, believing that God had spoken to us through Peter the Lord’s disciple.  Like Peter, we have always been somewhat impetuous and have never held back from making instant decisions when we felt God was calling.  We have had home Bible studies, pastored churches, and been professional teachers in the public and Christian school systems.  We have moved our family several times when God was leading, and the last big move we had made was from California to Pennsylvania. 

Peter, the disciple, is an ever-present example of someone who is not afraid of making a mistake, but who fearlessly jumps at every chance to be near Jesus.  For example, Peter recognized that he was “all in” with Jesus.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)  

Peter also made his confession of faith to Jesus when Jesus asked the disciples,

        “Who do you say that I am?”  And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). 

Peter didn’t always understand the mission of Jesus.  When Jesus told the disciples that He would have to leave them, 

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord where are You going?”  Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”  Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now?  I will lay down my life for You” (John 13:36-37). 

Furthermore, Jesus spoke to the disciples telling them that He must suffer, be rejected, and be killed, but after three days He would rise again. 

And He was stating the matter plainly.  And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.  But turning around and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”  (Mark 8:32-33). 

Again, Peter didn’t understand.  However, Jesus never gave up on Peter even though Peter tended to be impetuous, even cutting off the ear of one of the guards had who come to arrest Jesus (John 18:10-11).  And on the Sea of Galilee, upon seeing Jesus, Peter jumped out of the boat when he and the disciples were fishing. 

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’  So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net of fish.  John 21:7-8 

Any other disciple could also have easily jumped out of the boat to be with Jesus since they were so close to the shore.

Peter was also blessed to be one of the disciples taken to the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, but not comprehending the significance of the event. 

“And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles:  one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’ –not realizing what he was saying.” (Luke 9:33) 

Peter, as imperfect as he was, loved Jesus. 

He [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?  And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 

As Peter grew spiritually, however, he became a powerful evangelist after he was filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to the Father. 

His boldness and power were evidenced in the following passages:

  • At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty person was there together).  (Acts 1:15)
  • “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:  ‘Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.” (Acts 2:14) 
  • “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ( Acts 2:38)

In the stories of Peter’s life, we find wonderful lessons about how God loves and directs our lives, both through our wise decisions and even decisions made impetuously without much forethought or prayer.  I have always liked the way Peter was comfortable enough with Jesus that he could make mistakes, speak out, and even question Him, knowing that Jesus loved him unconditionally and would keep him safe.

Finding Peace in God’s Will

While we were in the sea, we saw John, the real estate agent, drive up to the cabana.  We quickly got out of the water believing that he had good news for us.  Instead, he told us that our offer had been rejected because another one had come in sooner.  We were surprised and initially wondered if we had been too impulsive.  John suggested we go out and look again at the lots.  So, we trusted that if the Lord had a lot for us, he would either show it to us, or we would know that we should stop moving in this direction. 

We quickly showered and got dressed.  John then took us for a drive to look at properties we hadn’t taken notice of before, and about an hour later we made an offer on another lot.  A phone call was made to the owner who accepted our offer over the phone while we sat in the Real Estate office.  We were excited but a little overwhelmed.  Our Heavenly Father had actually prevented us from getting the first lot, and we not only got this lot for $9,000 less, but also it was a little closer to the village and partially cleared.







Were we really doing this? God spoke to our hearts about Peter again, this time from Matthew 14:23-32.  Following the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus went away to be alone and pray.  The disciples went out on the sea in a boat.  In the middle of the night, Jesus appeared to the disciples walking on the water.  They were frightened so Jesus said, “Take courage it is I; do not be afraid.” 

No matter what is happening to us, good or bad, at any given moment, we can have courage because we have Jesus in our lives. 

Peter then said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus replied, “Come.” 

Peter didn’t let any distractions deter him as he climbed out of the boat.  I can only imagine what the other disciples were thinking, but Peter was focused and wasn’t about to listen to their concerns.  Peter left his area of comfort and safety and chose to be with Jesus.  He got out of the boat and walked on the water.  He only began to sink when he became afraid. 

The important message in this passage is that when you “see” Jesus and keep on seeing Him, there is no fear.  This was our time to step out of the boat; to step out of our comfortable lives and home.  Our confidence was that we were where Jesus was, and even if we began to sink, he would stretch out his hand and hold us, just like he did with Peter.

On Tuesday, we left Belize and flew home to Pennsylvania.  We made it home at about 3:00 AM.  It felt good to be back, knowing we would soon see and talk to our family.  That week we talked to both of our daughters about our plans, and after explaining what we felt God was doing in our lives and feeling they understood, we wired the deposit money to Belize so that the purchase could proceed.  Now there were lots of little “waves” in the water, but in spite of occasional overwhelming feelings about all the decisions ahead of us, we felt peace, and we were determined we would keep our eyes on Jesus.


(To Be Continued:  Part II in next Blog Post)

The Nature of Discipline

Our Heavenly Father Loves Us

Increasingly in today’s world, far too many people have not received proper discipline in their growing years; consequently, they personally acknowledge the need for more discipline in their lives, and it has become highly common for various “trainers,” “teachers,” or “experts,” often through expensive programs, seminars, or videos, to promote “self-discipline” through meditation, costly seminars, repetitive behaviors, deep breathing, rehabilitation programs, or sheer willpower to gain control over bad habits or destructive actions.  

As Christians, however, we have a heavenly Father who loves us so much that He guides our steps daily in life, while providing us with the power to be overcomers against the many challenges in our lives.  We also have a Father who loves us enough to discipline us as His own children!  

Read what the writer of the Book of Hebrews relates about discipline in the following passage from Chapter 12:

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:4-7)

Nothing is more disturbing than to see a child whose father or mother has not loved him enough to discipline that child.  We Christians, however, have the example of our Heavenly Father as the true disciplinarian: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (v. 6).  

Learning Discipline

I thank my heavenly Father that my earthly parents loved me enough to show me when I was not being polite, mannerly, or obedient, often in spite of their own grief or embarrassment and my own obstinance. As it is, many children cannot even sit quietly through a performance or meeting without disturbing others around them, most likely because they have rarely sat in church services.

While I didn’t especially appreciate my parents’ love and concern for me at the time, as the following verse describes, I now am most grateful for their loving discipline, for they were teaching me the discipline of God.

11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)

Notice that the word used in this passage is discipline, not punishment.  My earthly father never sent for the school bully to beat me up when I was disobedient!  Therefore, we need to reject the idea that our Heavenly Father, Who sent His own Son to the cross to redeem us from the hands of Satan, the enemy of our souls, would ever discipline or “scourge” us by sending Satan to attack us. Why would the Heavenly Father inflict upon us what He sent His son to bear for us vicariously on the cross? This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, as Matthew declares: 

16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Who Is Our Teacher?

Jesus said to His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

Therefore, the Holy Spirit was sent by our Father to be our Teacher!

And the Holy Spirit, obviously, always acts according to the “fruit of the Spirit,” which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).  

Our Father does not want His children to be killed, maimed, destroyed, or beaten down by the enemy, so He certainly would not do Himself what He deplores!  Our Father sent His Word (Jesus Christ) and His teacher (the Holy Spirit) to teach and discipline us so that we might not fall again into the hands of the bully of this world, the one who only seeks our destruction, as Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)  

God receives no glory or praise when His children fall into the snares and traps of the enemy, but it is a travesty even to suggest that our loving Father is the one who sends disease, sickness, death, earthquakes, fires, or other tragedies into our lives to “teach us something.”

And while our own lack of discipline, or bad decisions, may lead to such tragedies, the word to “chasten means to “lead toward virtue by correcting mistakes and putting barriers around passions.” And to “rebuke” means “to show a person his fault, or to bring a man’s sin to the light through conviction (which means “to convince of error or sinfulness”).  

The Fear of the Lord

Solomon, in the Book of Proverbs, relates that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7) 

Unfortunately, when Christians hear the word “fear,” as in the injunction to “fear the Lord,” too often we apply the definition for fear that we have learned in this world: “to be afraid or apprehensive, to be alarmed due to impending danger.”  We need not feel terror in God’s presence, but instead we should be filled with awe and reverence.

Therefore, we are not cautioned to be afraid of God, but rather to feel reverence for Him.  We are even told in Revelation 21:8 that the “cowardly” or “fearful”will have no place in God’s Kingdom.

Notice also that, generally, we are not assigned the task of convicting or rebuking others, even though the Father may use us as his spokespersons, at times. Instead, our Father is He who rebukes and brings conviction to our hearts through His Holy Spirit and through His written and spoken Word!  

God speaks to us personally through His Holy Spirit to reveal our errors or sins in order to bring about repentance and receive His forgiveness.  He does so with love and patience, not with anger and wrath. And with the Word comes the faith necessary to be obedient to His will (Romans 10:17).

  • Thus, the first step towards discipline, as Christ’s disciples, is to have reverence for the Lord and to open our ears to hear His Word, as revealed by the Holy Spirit.  As Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).  
  • Unless we are determined to be obstinately disobedient, we need not fear the Lord, as I feared the paddle my parents used.  

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
    His praise endures forever. (Psalms 111:10)

  • The final step, therefore, is to be continually obedient to the Word that we have received in Love from our Father. These commandments are not intended to be harmful or destructive, but instead are given for our welfare and good, just as my parents’ instruction to “Look both ways before crossing the street” was intended to ensure my safety. 

Finding the Truth

The Scientific Method?

One calling of God for the Christian Church is to be a vital channel for Truth in today’s world.  The Apostle Paul wrote, concerning this calling, the following message to Timothy:

14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (I Timothy 3:14-15)

By general consensus, however, our culture today assumes and supposes a scientific basis for all valid knowledge, not seeking Truth from God’s “pillar and support” Instead, the world’s scientific pillar is described as follows:

“a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.” (Source)

This procedure assumes that the resulting conclusion will be the “truth” since it is based on facts that are tested through research and proven hypotheses.
Ironically, however, many influential academics and intellectuals have concluded that “absolute truth” is unknowable and cannot be found because it does not exist, a conclusion that contradicts the basis of the scientific method. Since an absolute truth is always correct, regardless of one’s ability to discern, or discover, any particular truth, those who seek to learn the “truth,” often deny the possibility that it even exists because of their own inability to find it.

An Age-Old Question

This is not a question that has arisen only in the modern scientific age.  Rather, the question arose in ancient times, and it was particularly revealed in the discussion between Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ, when Jesus was on trial before the Roman ruler in Jerusalem:
37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)

Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, yet another doubter like Pilate, received an answer from Jesus about finding the way to the truth.  Jesus made the following statement about finding the truth in a conversation with His disciples:  

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:3-6)

And later, just before His crucifixion, Jesus prays the following prayer for His disciples, both those with Him and those who would be His followers in the future:

13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:13-19)

Significantly, when Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth,” He confirmed the first verse of John’s Gospel, a passage where John declares that Jesus is divine, the very Word of God Himself:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

Jesus Christ, therefore, is declared to be the manifestation of God’s truth, the Word of God through whom all things are created.  He is the Light that came into the world.

Unfortunately, even though this Light shines in our dark world, those who live in darkness cannot see the Light for their eyes are blinded.  And since the Light is allied with Life, those who cannot understand the Truth cannot obtain the Life that He was sent to confer upon everyone as a gift of God’s mercy and grace.

Revelation, Not Intellect

This is not to assert that the scientific method is the means Christians should use for gaining God’s Truth.  Instead, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are obtained through revelation, and only those who seek Him will receive these revelations.  Jesus said, 

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:6-8)

Jesus Himself gave His insights to Pilate, as well as other religious leaders, who then turned on Him, trampling the truth under their feet while seeking to tear Him to pieces.  Likewise, we must be discerning, seeking God’s guidance as we seek to fulfill Christ’s commission to spread His Word throughout the entire world.  We must recognize that some will not receive the Truth we have received from the Holy Spirit, and we may experience persecution for sharing the Word of Life, even though we are walking in the Light.

Likewise, we must be discerning, finding the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to spread His Word throughout the entire world (see Matthew 28:19-20).  We must recognize that because we find God’s truth through revelation, some people will not receive the Truth we have received from the Holy Spirit, and we may experience persecution for sharing the Word of Life, even though we are walking in the Light. Christians are despised for not being scientific enough, even though this scientific method is denigrated by those who believe they have discovered the truth through its use. Even the Apostle Paul was called a “babbler” (Acts 17:18) because he dared to share the spiritual insights he had through personal revelation:

Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. (II Corinthians 12:1-6)

Notice that in this passage, Paul relates that he received the “truth” (v. 6) from the visions and revelations he received from the Lord.  The truth was communicated not through the scientific method, but through “inexpressible words,” or in another word, “mysteries” which cannot be communicated directly, but only through the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Because of Paul’s faithfulness to these secrets, or mysteries, he suffered extreme persecution, as he explained to the Corinthians:

23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (II Corinthians 11:23-27)

Indeed, I believe that another period of persecution is coming to all who will be faithful to God’s calling, just as the early disciples of Christ faced extreme persecution.


It may be unsettling to learn this, but our brains are not the source of Truth. Instead, Christ Jesus and His Word is the source of God’s Truth, and we learn the Truth through “revelations” that come from God Himself through the Holy Spirit if we will only seek Him.  

Decades ago, people came to believe that “everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion.” However, such opinions derive merely from what has been heard and decided by the individuals’ brain choices, and not by direct revelation of the Truth from a loving and Holy God. Unfortunately, “majority rules” is likewise not an indicator of Truth.  Many horrible leaders in history have brought terrible disasters upon multitudes of people because their followers were convinced to become like sheep, all gone astray over the cliffs of false teachings and doctrines about what is True.     

People need only read the multitudes of “comments” following controversial articles on the Web to see that people disagree vehemently about the nature or substance of the “Truth.”  Unfortunately, therefore, the “Truth” is rarely discovered because the writers simply resort to name-calling, persecution, and threats. Subsequently, people who disagree are labeled as being a “bigot,” “stupid,” “uneducated,” or lacking in “tolerance.”  More and more, therefore, those who are “outside” the boundaries of what is considered true (from common perceptions derived from media representations or polling questionnaires) will be subject to various kinds of persecutions.


Note: For more on this topic, see the following blog article from





Blessed Are Those Who Believe Without Seeing

Peter’s Exhortation for Believers Today

In the Book of Hebrews, faith is described as the “evidence [or conviction] of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  This word “evidence,” or “conviction,” means a firmly held belief, which implies that if we have faith, we strongly believe in spite of what we see.  This exposes the lie buried in the statement we hear so commonly: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

While reading the Apostle Peter’s first letter written to believers today, “those who reside as aliens,” those who are scattered throughout the world yet who have been chosen by God the Father by the Holy Spirit to “obey Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:1-2), I couldn’t help but be amazed that Peter, this uneducated fisherman, was able to write such poignant and exemplary spiritual truths, or mysteries.  

Surely we too may be included in Peter’s audience, for we are among those scattered abroad to the uttermost parts of the world.  And significantly, the theme that strikes me most in his first chapter is that our faith is more precious than gold, a valuable metal which by comparison is perishable, and therefore less reliable than our faith.  In our physical world, we see gold as being solid and refined, more reliable than any other natural metal or form of money exchange.  Yet Peter writes about how our faith is more precious and valuable than gold:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:3-9) 

Peter refers specifically to the solid faith of those Christians in his reading audience who live far away and are scattered abroad, and he sees their faith as more reliable and steadfast than the world’s means of exchange (gold), even though their faith is not based on anything that they have actually seen with their eyes.  This faith will mean that our lives will be saved and our souls will receive God’s salvation, for it is more valuable than silver or gold in His eyes.  

We Must Not Be Like Thomas

Of course, Peter is also speaking from a different experience than ours, for he indeed saw the living Christ after His death, burial, and resurrection.  And Peter likely recalled the confusion of his fellow disciple, Thomas, who refused to believe the testimonies of the other disciples who had seen Jesus after His resurrection.  

Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20: 25).  When Jesus appeared again and Thomas was present, Thomas was ultimately convinced, for he saw the imprint of the nails and presumably placed his hand into the side of Christ Jesus.  

When Thomas became convinced that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead, Jesus had something significant to say to him: “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’” (John 20:28-29)

Peter was a true believer, who later saw this living Christ Jesus ascend into heaven after giving His promise that He would return with salvation and be revealed to all.  But Peter must have understood Christ’s message to Thomas, for in his letter he first refers to those who came before Christ’s first appearance, the prophets of old who received insights into God’s plan of salvation for humankind: 

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.  (I Peter 1:10-12)

Even Angels Desired What We Have Received

These prophets were given secrets, or “mysteries,” that they earnestly desired to understand.  How confusing it must have been for these prophets to know, through the Spirit of Christ, that the coming Savior would suffer and die in order to atone and redeem all people  from the sins that so constantly destroyed their lives.  Yet the mysteries were so valuable that even the angels desired to learn and understand the mysteries revealed to the prophets.

This understanding leads Peter to his ultimate conclusion, that all Christians must believe not what they see in the physical realm, but what they see through faith:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16)

Peter’s exhortation is framed in this context, therefore, and it applies to Christians today just as much as it did to those in the Early Church:  We must look not to the conditions of the world and give up our hope in the final return of Christ by being conformed again to the false deceptions of the world’s beliefs.  

Can it really be true, for example, that some Churches are incorporating astrology into their teachings?  Or are the beliefs in Eastern Mysticism truly compatible with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles?  If Jesus is indeed the “Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and “no one may come to the Father except through Him” (John 14:6), then we are misguided if we accept the notion that all religious beliefs are acceptable, and we must not judge others for their false beliefs?  No one was less politically correct than the Apostle Paul, who stood before the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens and chastized them for their beliefs in pagan gods, those made of wood and stone:

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”  (I Peter 1:29-31)

Does this mean we need to become “hateful,” despising and shunning those who seek to lead us into the sins of the times of Noah, or Egypt, or Athens?  No, we still must exhibit love towards all, as Paul did, seeking to lead them to the salvation that comes only through the love of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, through Jesus, who gave up His life for us all.  

Nevertheless, we must fervently oppose the deceptions of Satan, who seeks only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Peter’s advice is as follows:

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (I Peter 1:17-21)

We must not seek happiness or fulfillment in life through money (silver or gold) or through the futile and empty promises of those who promise joy, or contentment, or peace through meditation, yoga, sexual sins, or choosing the correct political party.  Instead, it is our faith in Jesus Christ’s promises that is more precious than what we only see or experience in this life.  Seeing a miracle will not change our lives significantly, at least in terms of obtaining as the outcome of our faith the salvation of our souls.

How to Heap Burning Coals

The Dangers At This Present Time

People only need to look at social media sites or read the responses to internet blog or news sites to see the extreme vitriol (harsh and angry expressions) being written about both the candidates, Republican and Democrat, for the 2016 November election here in the United States.  

Having experienced many elections in the past, I never dreamed that political conditions would be as extreme as they are today.  These conditions call for an appropriate response from Christians, who need to be guided by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, rather than the advice of the misguided politicians or media commentators of this world.  Learning from history, we can clearly see where the actions of disgruntled people may lead us because even now rebellion, insurrection, and revolution are being advocated if either Clinton or Trump  is elected, all in the name of freedom and democracy.  

Mob Rule and Peer Pressure

I have witnessed firsthand what mob rule and insurrection may lead to, and the consequences would be extremely detrimental to all of us.  (Click here for a pictorial history of the riots in our community in 1970.)  I was present to hear first Jerry Rubin’s and then William Kuntzler’s inflammatory speeches that ultimately led to the riots in Isla Vista, California (near the University of California in Santa Barbara where I was a student), along with the burning of the Bank of America, and I saw how tempting it could be to join in with those who advocated rebellion and violence.  It’s easier to join the violent mob than it is to resist it, especially if stones are skipping by you!

We need only turn to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans to learn what our proper responses should be during and after the election season coming up.  Here is what Paul wrote to the Roman Church, a Body of Christ that eventually had to endure the worst of persecutions and hatred from the Roman government itself:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Rulers Are Established by God

First of all, Paul writes, even the extremely anti-god government in Rome was “established” by God. This was a government led by the Emperor Nero, the supreme leader who adopted the title of “Caesar” after the first Emperor, Julius Caesar.  Nero claimed divinity himself to solidify his rule and authority.  His power was absolute, even to the point of being worshipped.

What does Paul say about submission to such a ruler?  He writes that resisting the Roman authorities means opposing the will of God and His ordinances.  Paul declares that the ruling authorities are all set in place by God for our good, in spite of what we might think: “It is a minister of God to you for good” (v. 4), one that brings judgment on those who do evil.  Clearly, even a supposedly evil government establishes guidelines that the most wicked and dangerous of people must ultimately obey, a condition that brings protection rather than danger to those who do good to others.  

Those who resist the governing authorities bring wrath upon themselves, therefore, and Paul advises that we do good rather than evil, for doing evil will only call down wrath upon ourselves.  We need to do good, not only because of the wrath that may come upon us, but also for “conscience’ sake.” We must do everything for the glory of God, not for personal gain or power.  This teaching is from the Apostle Paul, who was eventually martyred, decapitated according to tradition.

In my experience, specifically during the protests and riots in 1970 in Isla Vista, those who vociferously called for violence were only interested in gaining followers, notoriety, or power for themselves, and many who were led into these paths of violence were personally injured, arrested, or damaged. One young man was even killed.

Overcome Evil With Good

In fact, in the previous chapter in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Chapter 12), Paul advises that instead of sucumbing to violence we do the following:

Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:16-21).

If we want vengeance, therefore, this is the best kind–heaping hot coals on someone’s head!  And how do we do this? We heap hot coals by being kind, generous, loving, and helpful.  We don’t return angry words or actions, even though we ourselves have been insulted or deprived of possessions.  

Personally, “road rage” is what I am most tempted by.  Just an angry look by some driver makes me angry, and I am tempted to return some kind of angry or evil reply.  Thank the Lord that I have been able to resist this temptation! I’ve further decided that if anyone insults me on the road that I will help down the road if I see that person’s car in a ditch or in need of fuel.  That’s the best way to “heap hot coals!”

The Mystery of Pain

After enduring pain in my shoulder (rotator cuff) for several weeks, my orthopedic specialist gave me a cortisone shot. The shot was more than just a “pinch,” as shots are usually called by medical caregivers, but I was grateful afterwards, for I could move my shoulder again without feeling like I had been stabbed with an ice-pick!

This experience with pain was in addition to my craniotomy last fall and the onset of migraine headaches.  Physical pain is bad enough, but emotional and mental pain can be just as bad, if not more perplexing and burdensome.

Anyone who has chronic pain of one kind or another is usually moved to ask, “Why?  Why do I have pain in my life?”

Years ago, I learned some answers to these questions by studying the disease of leprosy that appears so often in the Bible.

Leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease, is an infection caused by bacteria that are contracted  by direct contact or through the air by sneezes or coughs.  Leprosy is highly contagious, therefore, which explains the prohibitions given to lepers in the Bible to prevent the spread of the disease.

(Click here to read Leviticus 13 for a description of the disease and its symptoms, along with some of the restrictions placed on lepers.)

Leprosy bacteria multiply slowly, so the disease may take years to fully manifest, but when it does, the symptoms are very visible, especially on the skin.  Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Skin lesions that may be faded/discolored
  • Growths on the skin
  • Thick, stiff or dry skin
  • Severe pain
  • Numbness on affected areas of the skin
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis (especially in the hands and feet)
  • Eye problems that may lead to blindness
  • Enlarged nerves (especially those around the elbow and knee)
  • A stuffy nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Ulcers on the soles of feet

(Click to see source.)

What About Pain?

When leprosy becomes active, which may take two-three years after initial exposure, it eventually attacks the nervous system, leading to numbness in the nerves on the skin and the loss of feeling or sensation on the hands and feet.

Read a fuller description here:

Many have thought leprosy to be a disease of the skin. It is better classified, however, as a disease of the nervous system because the leprosy bacterium attacks the nerves. Leprosy’s agent M. leprae is a rod-shaped bacterium related to the tuberculosis bacterium. Leprosy is spread by multiple skin contacts, as well as by droplets from the upper respiratory tracts, such as nasal secretions that are transmitted from person to person.

Its symptoms start in the skin and peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord), then spread to other parts, such as the hands, feet, face, and earlobes. Patients with leprosy experience disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and curling of the fingers to form the characteristic claw hand. Facial changes include thickening of the outer ear and collapsing of the nose. (Source)

The worst danger from the bacteria arises, therefore, when a burn or another kind of injury occurs, for example, and the leper does not feel the injury due to the lack of sensation at the site: “The leprosy bacillus destroys nerve endings that carry pain signals; therefore patients with advanced leprosy experience a total loss of physical pain. When these people cannot sense touch or pain, they tend to injure themselves or be unaware of injury caused by an outside agent” (Source).

Pain’s Purpose

Imagine putting your hand on a very hot iron or woodstove and not feeling anything.  You may end up leaving your hand on the heat for quite a while, resulting in a terrible burn.  If you had felt the pain initially, you would have quickly acted to remove your hand.

Consequently, as a result of an inability to feel pain, the leper does not react quickly, so the injury becomes quite severe, leading to extreme damage to the body.

Leprosy: A Metaphor for Sin

Leprosy was so dreaded that lepers were shunned, and they were required to announce their presence to others and were forbidden from touching anyone to prevent the spread of the disease:

As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46)

Leprosy was so dreaded, and the commandments of God were so clear, that lepers were shunned. Lepers were declared to be “unclean.” To prevent the spread of the disease, lepers were required to announce their presence to others and were forbidden even from touching anyone else.  Being shunned must have led to extraordinarily painful emotional distress, a switch from one kind of pain to another.

Incurable by man, many believed God inflicted the curse of leprosy upon people for the sins committed. In fact, those with leprosy were so despised and loathed that they were not allowed to live in any community with their own people (Numbers 5:2). Among the sixty-one defilements of ancient Jewish laws, leprosy was second only to a dead body in seriousness. A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family. The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing. Lepers lived in a community with other lepers until they either got better or died. This was the only way the people knew to contain the spread of the contagious forms of leprosy. (Source)

Being shunned must have led to extraordinarily painful emotional distress, a switch from one kind of pain to another. The consequences of leprosy, therefore, are analogous to the consequences of sin.  When we are infected with sin in our lives, we become “unclean,” and our sin may even infect others with serious consequences.  Sin results in severe consequences in our lives, both physically and mentally.  Like leprosy, these consequences may take years to yield their results in mental distress and physical deformities.

Like the symptoms of leprosy, the consequences of sin in our lives may take years to yield their results in mental distress and physical deformities.  Yet, we should dread the symptoms of sin even more than those of leprosy, for the consequences of sin are death and eternal separation from God.

Jesus Cleanses the Leper

Jesus Christ, however, is the answer for both leprosy and sin, along with the resulting mental and physical deformities and anguish:

When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

Jesus is willing to cleanse us wholly, in spirit, soul, and body.  He renews a right spirit within us and restores our souls.  Like King David, we may pray the following prayer in faith:

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalms 51:9-11)

Jesus Himself, because of His love for us, is the One who restores our souls and cleanses us from all the consequences of sin.  See what the Apostle Peter wrote about the crucifixion of Christ:

And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (I Peter 2:23-25)

While on the cross and before His ascension into Heaven, therefore, Jesus became our substitute, taking our sins upon Himself and cleansing us from all unrighteousness if we will only accept Him.  By faith (which is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1), we may receive His ultimate cleansing in spirit, soul, and body, taking away our pain.

Today, we constantly seek ways to escape our pain, whether through cortisone shots, or pills, or certain “relaxation techniques” that are essentially occultic.  While we do not like the experience of pain in our lives, we should seek the causes of our pain and be thankful to a wise and loving God who gave us nerves that help us feel the pain of dangerous situations, thereby protecting us from further harm and disabilities.  And above all, we need to find our answer to pain in the forgiveness provided  by God and the salvation offered through the sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


My Anchor Holds


While my wife and I have been on several enjoyable ship cruises, I have been on the ocean in a small boat only a few times.  My horrible seasickness during a fishing trip was enough to convince me that the ups and downs of the ocean were not very pleasant.

However, at one point, we even bought a small boat to use for fishing in the Pacific Ocean, but mainly we bought it to give the boat to my father-in-law, who was a particularly enthusiastic fisherman.  Trying to “fix” the boat to make it suitable for a gift, we learned quickly that a boat can indeed be a “hole in the water that you pour your money into.”

I confess that I am not an expert on boats or naval paraphernalia, including anchors. I have only owned one anchor used for a boat, but I rarely used it since we usually just tied up at the dock and didn’t try to stay stationary in the water to fish (to avoid sea sickness!).  

The use of an anchor in biblical New Testament times is clearly seen in the Bible, however, so understanding how anchors function helps us understand the Scriptural passages that include anchors.

The Apostle Paul’s Mediterranean Cruise

An understanding of anchors is particularly helpful when reading the 27th Chapter of Acts of the Apostles, a passage which includes the story of Paul’s journey to Rome while under arrest by Roman guards.  At one point during the journey, the following events take place as described by Luke, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles:

Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship’s boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:29-31)

In this story we gain insights even into the minds of experienced sailors as they attempted to escape the dangers of a terrible Mediterranean storm, while also avoiding the brutality of their Roman employers.  Notice also that the four anchors were released from the stern of the ship to keep it from being cast aground on the rocks of the coast.  

Luke’s next account reveals how the anchors were discarded when the boat’s crew mistakenly decided to head for the safety of the beach of a bay.  The boat indeed ran aground, leading to the breaking up of the ship.

When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could. And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach. But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. (Acts 27:39-41)

We see clearly from these accounts not only the value of ship’s anchors during storms but also their beneficial help in keeping the ship from becoming stuck fast and broken apart by the storm’s waves.

Most of us will never encounter such experiences in our lives, yet we all may experience the “storms of life,” perhaps even on a daily basis.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had anchors to hold us fast on the course the Lord has given us in our lives, as well as anchors to keep us from getting “stuck” and “immovable” when we are seeking to find peace and safety in this world?

In the Book of Hebrews, however, we find that we have indeed been given “anchors for our souls.”  The writer of Hebrews uses an example in the life of Abraham to demonstrate how this anchor keeps us steadfast, even in the worst storms and temptations in this life.

Seeing an anchor as being a beneficial help during a storm is somewhat of a mystery, for anchors are heavy and they usually are used to keep a ship from moving at all.    

Abraham’s Faith and Hope

After first warning Christians about the “perils of falling away,” the writer of the Book of Hebrews exhorts believers instead to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).

. . . so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:18-20)

This passage is unclear unless we can determine what the “two unchangeable things” are.  God’s promise to Abram is the first unchangeable thing:

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he [Abraham] obtained the promise.

Abraham, therefore, received the promise of God first because of the reliability of God’s Word.  To show the “unchangeableness of His purpose,” God also made an oath, the second of the two “unchangeable things.”

For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:13-18).

These two unchangeable things mean that “it is impossible for God to lie.” Therefore, we may be assured that the promises of God are “sure and steadfast”:  

We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:18-20)

Our ability to look forward to the future with hope is both sure and steadfast because the Word of God is sure and steadfast. Both of these words mean dependable, reliable, true, constant, and trustworthy.  

We must conclude, therefore, that since the Word of God is dependable and trustworthy, we who have received the promise of God may look forward to the future with joyful anticipation, knowing that the promises made to us will be fulfilled.  And this means we have hope, which is the “anchor for our soul.”  

This anchor, in turn, will keep us steadfast and true; in nautical terms, we will “stay the course,” and not depart from the will of the Lord or stray from His purpose for our lives.  The hope we have in the promises of God will keep us steadfast during the storms of life, especially because this hope we have “enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” 

This “veil” is the curtain in the temple was placed between the “Inner Sanctuary” and the “Holy of Holies” where God’s sacred presence was.  When Jesus was crucified, this temple veil was rent, or torn, from top to bottom, signifying that Jesus the Lamb of God was the perfect sacrifice which did away with sin.  And Jesus became our High Priest who as our forerunner became our mediator, the One who allows us also to come into God’s presence. Jesus became the great High Priest who intercedes for us continually before the Father. 

This passage in Hebrews 6 also implies also that we have a choice in whether we will take hold of God’s anchor for our soul, the hope we have in His promises:

. . . so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:16)

We have been given “strong encouragement” to take hold of the hope we have been given, but the choice is still ours.  The more we learn about the steadfastness of God’s Word, the easier it will be to receive the anchor we need to keep us on the course set before us and have peace in the midst of the storms of this life.  And hope is the anchor that keeps us firmly directed and safe in the many storms that arise in this world.

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Finally, the Apostle Paul summarizes our hope in the promises of God through Jesus Christ:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:1-5).

Not only do we have peace during times of tribulation, therefore, but we may also exult, which means we may feel a lively and triumphant joy.  We may rejoice exceedingly and be highly elated or jubilant, all because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the gift of His Holy Spirit.  Praise His name!


You Better Belize It!

Jan and I just returned from our trip to Belize on Tuesday (April 26th) after spending one week in the beautiful Hopkins Village.  It was our second trip to Belize, our first since being there nine years ago.

Our rented cabana was right on the beach, where we could go for exhilarating morning swims in the warm ocean water.  All of the days were quite warm, and we were having to drink a lot of water, as we ate the enticing food of the Garifuna people and walked along the main road.

school kids buying lunch from street vendor

Belize school kids buying lunch from a street vendor.

Significantly, before we left on our one-week vacation travels, which I knew would be long and frustrating since we had three flights to catch on the way and four on the way home, I received a “vision,” or gained “insight,” into possible ministry in Belize. I saw myself and my wife working with the local churches to establish a Christian school for children, or at least an after school program with Bible teaching. Currently, the school for children in Hopkins Village is run by the Catholic Church, and it includes regular Catholic religious training.


Public/Catholic school in Hopkins Village

While in Hopkins, we also met and talked with the warm, spirit-filled Pastor Herdie , who with his wife, Victoria, who had led the “Ligillisi Lareini Bungiu,” or “God Reins Chapel” in Hopkins Village for 30 years.

20160420_182535 (1)

God Reins Chaple in Hopkins, Belize

Due to work schedules, the mostly Garifuna people all gathered at 7:00 p.m. for an edifying time of worship and praise, followed by an inspirational message by Pastor Herdie.

Pastor Herdie leads worship.

In addition, we also want to begin a home ministry with the many “Ex-pats” in the area (mainly retirees from the U.S. and Canada). Jan and I have wanted to be missionaries since the earliest days of our marriage, which is rapidly reaching our 47th anniversary.  We are believing, therefore, that this is our opportunity to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others in foreign lands.  We are in the process of purchasing a lot on which we will build a home that we believe will also provide space for discipleship and Bible teaching.


Swimming after school.

Kids after school.

Kids after school.

Needless to say, this will be a huge change of direction in our lives, one that will bring tremendous joy, but also sorrow as we leave our children and grandchildren, even if only for part of the year.  We are hoping we can continue living in the Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, for much of the year (how about spring and summer! And maybe fall also!).

Therefore, we ask for your prayers and intercessions for us as we seek God’s wisdom and direction for the future.


What Is Truth?

So, Are You A King?

Pontius Pilate, while judging Jesus of Nazareth, asked the following questions, all to determine whether the claims of the Scribes and Pharisees was true: that Jesus was claiming to be a king and therefore committing treason against Caesar:

Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” (John 18:33-35)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered,“You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. (John 18:37-39)

Significantly, although Jesus claimed, or at least implied, that He was indeed a king, Pilate found Jesus to be innocent of the accusations of treason the Scribes and Pharisees had cast against Him.

Of even greater significance in this case is the fact that Pilate confessed that he did not know the Truth, even though, ironically, Jesus had stated that He is the Truth.  In addition, like many post-modernists, or existentialists, or atheists in today’s world, who in spite of their insistence that Science is the only way to know the truths about human creation and the existence of the earth and the cosmos, Pilate essentially declares that Truth is unknowable, a very ironic statement coming from one who is in the position of deciding whether someone should be crucified.  

Therefore, many of today’s modernist philosophers say that absolute truth does not exist, all while refusing to listen to the words of Jesus, the One who came to deliver the Truth, as He said:Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice,” (v. 37) .  

No Absolutes?

I heard a story once, probably fictitious, about a very intelligent man who said, “There is no such thing as absolute truth!”  His statement was followed by what another man said in response, a statement that exploded the first man’s faulty logic: “You say there is no such thing as absolute truth? Are you absolutely sure?”  

As a tenured Professor of English and Literature for twenty years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, I encountered many speakers and writers who had determined that knowing what a particular poet or playwright meant or intended when writing a poem or play was impossible because of the indeterminacy of language itself.  

Deconstruction and the Destruction of Truth

Building on the ideas of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, for example, the concepts of “deconstruction” entered the realms of literary criticism.  

A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings.  (Source)

To explain this problem further, even as children we found that learning what a ball is, for example, means deciding on multiple factors, not just shape.  We may mistake an orange for a ball, or decide that a ball may be peeled and eaten.  Looking and seeing an animal in a field might have been confusing because we had learned that cows were what lived behind the fences in most areas of the country. Therefore, what we thought were cows that say “Mooo,” were instead horses that say “Neigh.”

Jacques Derrida, while focusing on these difficulties in defining terms or meanings, came to the conclusion that there are too many holes, or gaps, in our words and conversations to lead to complete interpretations, meanings, or definitions.  By “deconstructing,” or taking apart a story or poem, therefore, we must observe the gaps in meaning that cannot essentially be determined, much less re-constructed into a precise statement of interpretation.  

Derrida focused on these difficulties in defining terms or meanings and came to the conclusion that there are too many holes, or gaps, in the definitions of our words and resulting conversations.  By “deconstructing,” or taking apart a story or poem, therefore, we observe the gaps in meaning that cannot be essentially determined.  Derrida and other contemporary deconstructionists decided, therefore, that absolute meanings are impossible to determine.   

The result of this lack of surety not only in the existence of Truth, but also our human inability to find the Truth results in a “Pot-Luck” menu of ideas that counterfeit the Truth, yet are still accepted as Truth.  

And instead of the One Way, Truth, and Life, who has been given to us in Jesus Christ, we have been led astray by many false prophets and antichrists who have gone forth into the world, proclaiming their own false gospels.  Eastern mysticism, for example, has infiltrated our culture today to such an extent that it is not even acknowledged or recognized distinctly when it appears:

  • Just breathe slowly and deeply and you will find inner peace.
  • Merely repeat the same phrase to yourself over and over, and enlightenment will come.  
  • Obtain kundalini, or a spiritual awakening, by perfecting certain hatha yoga postures. [Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning either “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake.” There are a number of other translations of the term usually emphasizing a more serpent nature to the word – e.g. ‘serpent power’.]  (Source)
  • Far Eastern Mystical thinking is basically “the belief that the ultimate expression of reality consists of an impersonal life force. There is no God for a person to personally relate to, or one who is able to reveal himself to humankind” (Source).

The Problem: Truth Versus Falsehood

In the Eighth Chapter of John’s Gospel, we read the following story one that perfectly illustrates the conflict between Truth, as manifested in Jesus Christ, and falsehood, as represented by the Pharisees, the group of religious teachers who adamantly believed that their understanding of the Law of Moses and tabernacle worship were wholly correct.  Jesus firmly declares that He is God’s messenger sent to speak the Word and to reveal the will of God the Father.  Jesus then confronts the Pharisees for their refusal to acknowledge the message He has delivered to them:

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. (John 8:24-30)

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

A number of lessons may be learned from this story:

  • First, those who adhere to falsehood and lies despise the Truth when it appears and will do anything they can to destroy it because it contradicts what they believe to be true.
  • Jesus has come to declare the Truth, and those who believe in Him and continue in His Word will know the Truth that will set them free from the bondages of sin.
  • Even those who have been saturated with lies and falsehoods may turn and come to the Truth that is resident in Jesus Christ and His Word.

As a pagan ruler under the authority of ancient Rome, Pontius Pilate may probably be excused for not knowing the Truth, even though he was confronted with the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ.  Even though he found no guilt in Jesus, he nevertheless handed Him over to the Jewish religious leaders who sought to kill Him.  Here is the story from John’s Gospel:

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. (John 11:47-53)

From this story we learn that the true purposes of the chief priests and Pharisees was not to receive the Truth about Jesus Christ, but instead to retain their power.  They were the “establishment” of the time, and Caiphas was determined that they should do everything possible to retain that power for the good of the nation as a whole. The times may have changed since then, but the hearts of the leaders of the people have not changed.

The True Way to Peace

In fact, seeking approval and cultural acceptance from the popular culture today, many Christians and churches have opened the door to the false teachings of the occult religions, Eastern mysticism in particular.  Yoga classes are being held in church facilities, and the teachings of Buddha are regularly brought forth in some pastor’s sermons.  Is it any wonder that many Christians today, including church leaders, have forsaken the teachings of the Word of Truth and held to the lies of Lucifer, just as the original sin of Adam and Eve was derived from the temptations of Satan: 

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Thus, seeking the enlightenment promised by Eastern mysticism, many in the church are not praying, but meditating instead, merely seeking to reach a kundalini-like counterfeit peace, instead of the “peace that passes understanding” that only comes from following the Truths of Jesus, who said:  “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).  

And this is how the Apostle Paul instructed the Philippian Church to receive peace in their hearts:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Instead, many Christians today, like Pontius Pilate, have accepted the fundamental lie of Satan: There is no Truth.

Many Christians assure themselves that there is real virtue in trying to see all the good they can in everyone and that in so doing they are showing Christ’s love. After all, isn’t love the most important virtue (1 Corinthians 13)? But love is meaningless without truth. Showing the influence of Eastern mysticism, a recent poll revealed that 71 percent of Americans, 64 percent of those who claim to be “born-again,” and 40 percent of self-described evangelicals do not believe in absolute truth.  (Source)

May we see the errors in our thinking and truly repent from believing the falsehoods of Satan, the enemy of our souls.

Examining Ourselves Rightly


The most difficult role for parents or Church leaders, in a similar context, is the role of one who must bring discipline and correction to the family or to the Church Body.  However, the Apostle Paul found himself in this role, as he describes it in his first letter to the Corinthian Church.  Since what follows is such a lengthy passage, we will examine it separately in parts.

Part I

In the first part Paul describes the problems that need to be corrected.  As Paul describes them, they consist of schisms and divisions in the Corinthian Church instead of solid unity:

But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.  (I Corinthians 11:17-19)

Clearly, Paul understands the sinful human nature, for he writes that these factions and divisions have occurred for an all-too-apparent reason:  those who believe themselves to be qualified to lead (those “who are approved”) also desire to be recognized as being in charge (“so that they may become evident among you”).  

Part II

In the second part of the passage taken from his letter, Paul describes an even more troubling problem in the Corinthian Church, one which was probably more prevalent among the believers as a whole:

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. (I Corinthians 11:20-22)

When the believers in the Corinthian Church come together, Paul writes, they come to eat and drink, not to “remember” the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for their redemption from the consequences of their sins.  Instead, they are only concerned about filling their bellies and soothing themselves with alcohol.  Their desire to gorge themselves is so strong that they even compete with one another, leaving some with nothing, while others are bloated with bread and wine.  

Clearly, this description is nothing like the communion observances we have in most protestant churches in our culture today.  As a child, I was struck by the tiny pieces of unsalted crackers that were passed on a silver plate down the rows of pews by the deacons, along with the tiny cups filled with grape juice. There was no way, under the watchful eyes of my parents, I could have filled myself with such small portions of juice and crackers, simply because there wasn’t enough on the plate for anyone to take more than a minimal amount.  

We knew we weren’t sharing a meal. My mother taught me to gaze at the elements after they were passed, while I prayed and asked for forgiveness for my sins, not allowing myself to be distracted by anything around me or spilling what was in my tiny cup.

Part III

Therefore, in the next part of his letter, Paul describes how the Lord’s supper should be observed:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

Their purpose in gathering to partake of the bread and wine, therefore, was definitely not to gluttonously fill themselves with bread and wine, but instead to remember what Christ accomplished as the “Lamb of God” by sacrificing His broken body and His blood, as well as to proclaim the victory of His death and resurrection until He comes again.  

For both elements of this Last Supper, the bread and the wine, Jesus asked that they remember Him, His broken body and His sacrificial blood that was spilled for them. And He asked also that they continue to remember Him as often as they celebrated the Last Supper in the future, thereby proclaiming His death and the results of His sacrifice until He comes again.

Part IV

In this next portion of Paul’s exhortation, the Apostle explains not only the proper attitudes the believers in Corinth needed to have while partaking of the Lord’s Supper, but also the proper behaviors they should have as they drink and eat:

27 So then whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in a way that is unworthy [of Him] will be guilty of [profaning and sinning against] the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But a person must [prayerfully] examine himself [and his relationship to Christ], and only when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks [without solemn reverence and heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ], eats and drinks a judgment on himself if he does not [a]recognize the body [of Christ]. 30 That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason why many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [in death]. 31 But if we evaluated and judged ourselves honestly [recognizing our shortcomings and correcting our behavior], we would not be judged. 32 But when we [fall short and] are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined [by undergoing His correction] so that we will not be condemned [to eternal punishment] along with the world. (AMP Version: I Corinthians 11:27-32)

To sum up these admonitions, Paul cautions believers not to eat of the bread or drink from the cup in an “unworthy” manner.  If they do, he writes, they will bring judgment upon themselves for “sinning against” (See above AMP v. 27) the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, resulting in weakness, sickness, or even death (v. 30).

By following and acting upon these admonitions, we will neither incur the consequences of sinning against the Lord’s Body and Blood, nor be “condemned to eternal punishment along with all non-believers” (See v. 32 above):

Instead, Paul’s remedy is that believers need to “judge themselves rightly” so they will not be judged or condemned along with the world (v. 32).  

Part V

Paul’s final teaching on this subject, therefore, entails that believers should “wait for one another,” eating at home rather than using the elements of the Last Supper to satisfy their hunger.  Avoid the temptation, he writes, so that the whole body does not come together “for judgment” (v. 34):  Here is the definitive passage:

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. (I Corinthians 11:33-34)

Eating and Drinking the Lord’s Supper Unworthily

What does the Apostle Paul mean when he counsels believers not to eat and drink of the Lord’s Supper “unworthily,” or in an “unworthy manner”?  (See I Corinthians 11:27 in Part IV above.)  

The secret to solving this mystery lies, I believe, in the consequences and ramifications of the incurred judgments, which are “weakness, sickness, or even death.”  Paul writes that we must “judge” and “examine” ourselves  to ensure that we are not
“sinning” against the Body and Blood of Jesus, a sin that may incur weakness, sickness, or even death.  (I Corinthians 11:30)

Most clearly, since Paul is writing to believers in the Corinthian Church, a person cannot participate fully in the Lord’s Supper unless he or she has become a true believer in Jesus Christ and has accepted by faith what He accomplished as the “Lamb of God,” the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sin that separates us from God, our Holy Father.  

This is why even churches that practice “open communion,” or, in other words, churches that allow even non-members of the church to participate in the Lord’s Supper, will most often still warn everyone who partakes to ensure they have committed their hearts and lives to Him, through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to avoid the results of taking the communion unworthily.  

Paul’s teachings and corrections are definitely directed in his letter to those who have indeed submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, having committed their hearts and lives to Him and become members of the Church of Corinth.  Therefore, we must assume that his injunctions and warnings apply to everyone in the True Church, including all believers in the Church today as well.  

It seems wise to ask, what are we missing from Paul’s message to the whole Church?  Why does it appear that many people today are weak, sick, or even dead?  Are we partaking of the Lord’s Supper unworthily?  Have we diminished the significance of the communion sacrament and disregarded the implications of not examining ourselves according to Christ’s own guidelines?

I believe the key to discovering the meaning of this mystery is found in the following passage from John’s Gospel:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30)

This is what Dr. Michael Brown writes about John’s description of Christ’s final moments on the cross:

What did Jesus mean when He uttered the words “It is finished!” in John 19:30?

The phrase actually translates one word in Greek, tetelestai, from the root teleō, which means “to finish, fulfill.”

Significantly, this specific form of the verb, tetelestai, is only found twice in the entire New Testament, both times in John 19.

In fact, the two occurrences of tetelestai are found within three verses of each other: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ … When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28, 30).

Do you see that? Although the verb teleō occurs 28 times in the New Testament, the form tetelestai is found only twice, and those two occurrences are in the same context, right next to each other, making the meaning perfectly clear.

Jesus was saying, “Mission accomplished! Everything that had to be done has been done! It is finished!” (Source: Click Here to View Brown’s article)

First of all, therefore, Jesus asks for something to quench His thirst in order to “fulfill the Scripture.”  See the prophecy in the Psalms:

They also gave me gall for my food
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalms 69:21)

Then, when He has received the sour wine from the sponge held up to Him, He says, “It is finished!” and “gives up His spirit” in death.  

We learn from this passage that, even on the cross, Jesus was intent on ensuring that all of the prophecies found in the Old Testament concerning His atoning death were fulfilled and “accomplished” before He gave up His life.  Jesus then declared that His mission was finished: He had completed all that had been prophesied and that His Father had planned in sending His only Son to be sacrificed.

What is probably missing in our participations in the times for ‘rembrance” during communion, therefore, concerns our inability to acknowledge and receive the fulness of what Christ came to accomplish on the Cross.  These relate to the three conditions that result from our not holding fast in faith to what He “finished”: His triumph over weakness, sickness, and death on our behalf.  

In Remembrance of Him

One passage in the Book of Hebrews states this idea in specific terms:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Clearly, many believers in the Early Church, just as in churches today, needed to be reminded about “remembering,” or the acknowledgement in faith and the appropriation of the magnificent provisions of Christ’s sacrifice on the Church’s behalf.  What does this mean?

Particularly as we “remember” Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, we need to focus on receiving “mercy and finding grace in times of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Since Jesus Himself was tempted just as we are, yet He did not fall into sin, we need to identify with the One who overcame all of the consequences of all sin.  

Jesus could vicariously sympathize with us, when the sins of the world were placed on Him, while identifying Himself as the One who took the punishment for all of our sins, receiving in His own Body on the Cross the consequences of sin as He suffered and died, even to the point of being “forsaken” by His Father because of those sins (see Mark 14:34 and Matthew 27:46).  

While in the Garden praying, Jesus knew not only what He would suffer physically on the cross, but also what He would endure while having the sins of the world placed on Him.  Imagine what He must have experienced, for He was without sin and knew no sin, yet suddenly while on the Cross He felt the sins of a world filled with wickedness placed on Himself, the spotless Lamb of God.

As a result of His willingness to receive this judgment, the consequences of sin were done away with, including weakness, sickness, and even death.  Therefore, Jesus Himself, as our propitiation for our sin, endured weakness, sickness, and death for the first time in His life, suffering not only death and entombment, but also three days and nights in Hell itself.  Is it any wonder why He asked His Father. . . 

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Jesus was in such agony over what He would experience and endure that He suffered from hematidrosa (or “sweating blood”) (See definition of “hematidrosa” caused by extreme stress“). Yet even knowing what He would experience, He was willing to take our place and drink the cup offered to Him.  

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (I Peter 2:24)

And beforehand, during the Last Supper with His disciples, He broke the bread and offered the cup to demonstrate to them how they could remember His sacrifice on their behalf.  Consequently, we today have also been instructed how to identify with Jesus’s offer of redemption through His own death, finding eternal life also through His resurrection.


Whenever I send a package via United Parcel Service, I receive a “tracking number” so that I can determine the progress of the package as it is being delivered.

In the same way, the Lord has given us a means of tracking our own progress as Christians in the ways of the Lord.  We daily need to examine and judge ourselves completely, while identifying with Jesus Christ and holding fast our confession of faith.

However, we also need especially to remember His accomplished work on the cross as we take communion, in order not to be judged and suffer the weaknesses, sickness, and even death that have fallen on some believers. We need to judge ourselves continually and appropriate by faith all that the Lord Jesus purchased for us when He drank the cup that was given to Him according to the will of His Father in Heaven.

Praying in the Name of . . .

  Burns is NOT God!

Not George Burns, and More Than, Like, an “Epithet”

This is how many people would pray the “Lord’s Prayer” today, especially in front of a large group or Church congregation:

OMG in Heaven, hallowed be your name, God.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, God, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day, God, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, God, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, God, but deliver us from evil.  For yours is the kingdom, God, and the power, God, and the glory forever, God.  Amen

I mean no disrespect to the Lord Jesus, who taught us how to pray, nor to our Father in Heaven, to whom Jesus addressed His prayer.  This is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:6-13):

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

I merely wish to point out the needless and meaningless repetition of the word “God” in so many prayers, as well as the fact that Jesus taught us to pray to our “Father who is in Heaven,” not some nameless God with whom we have no relationship.

Meaningless Repetition or “Filler Words”

Honestly, I’m surprised that words such as, “like,” or “Dude,” or “Hey!” are not heard in public prayers the way they are in ordinary conversation, especially among young adults.

Hey!  Our Dude who is in, like, Heaven. Hallowed be your name, God, and, like, your Kingdom come, your will be done, like, on earth as it is in Heaven. . .

Having been a professor of literature and writing for many years, I’ve grown accustomed to the ways that “filler words” have crept into the speech, and even the writing, of many young adults.  It’s so much easier to fill the gaps with popular expressions, rather than with meaningful words that are faith-filled and also make sense.

Finally, the expression “Oh, my God!” (and abbreviated as “OMG!”) has become so common that even many Christians use it constantly in social media or in conversation, in spite of its empty (or vain) meaning.  They do so in spite of the third commandment the Lord gave to Israel:  “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7).

Father, Guard My Mouth, Lips, and Keyboard

Instead, I am writing this article merely to exhort every Christian, every follower of the Lord Jesus, to pray the following prayer:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalms 141:3)

And may we have an abiding relationship with our Father in Heaven such that we do not address Him in the form of an “epithet,” but in accordance with the true relationship we have with Him, as our Father, just as Jesus did.  (See a definition of “epithet” below:

1. a characterizing word or phrase added to or used in place of the name of a person or thing.
2. a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt.

See more at this site:  Source.


Advice for Young Adults About Premarital Sex




David Kanski

Pastor at Emmanuel Community Church

Jersey Shore, Pennsyvania

Within the helping professions of social services, health care, and psychology exists a genuine and legitimate concern for what is commonly referred to as “high-risk sexual behaviors” among adolescents. High risk behaviors are usually defined as unprotected sex (sexual activity without condom use), having multiple sex partners, or sexual activity under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These behaviors are risky because they may result in contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, the underlying assumption is that not all sexual activity by young people is risky, and that by responsible behavior the hazards of sexual behavior are expunged.

However, this paper will attempt to show that any sexual engagement outside of a monogamous, life-time commitment introduces other grave risks which are beyond the scope of much of the current discourse: risks to emotional well-being and risks to a young person’s future ability to form a permanent attachment to a life partner. With an understanding of these emotional and relational risks of sexual activity, parents will be better equipped to help adolescents and young adults avoid repercussions that are often pernicious and far-reaching.


“For human beings, of course, sex is about much more than the body. Our entire person is involved. That’s why sex has uniquely powerful emotional and spiritual consequences. And there is no condom for the heart” (Lickona, 2004a, p.56).

Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist, has identified numerous dangerous, emotional consequences of premature sexual involvement that, most often, “last a long time, even into marriage and parenting” (Lickona, 2007, para. 12).

  • Regret and self-recrimination are among the most common repercussions sexually active teens experience (Lickona, 2007). Teenage boys and girls can both experience painful regret following a sexual relationship, but girls are usually more vulnerable because research shows that there are gender differences when it comes to sexual scenarios: “Women are likely to have sex to strengthen relationships and increase intimacy, whereas men are likely to have sex to gain physical pleasure” (Davis, 2008, p.468). A girl is more likely to approach sex to prove her love, leading her to experience the terrible pain of feeling used when, after having had sex, the boy is no longer interested in her. “According to a 2000 survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 72% of teenage girls and 55% of boys who have had sexual intercourse say they wish they had waited” (Lickona, 2004a, p. 86). A large number of young people are burdened by sexual regrets for many years after their sexual encounters.
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-respect is another consequence (Lickona, 2007), and sometimes that loss of self-respect makes a person vulnerable to further uncommitted sex, resulting in a devastating downward spiral.
  • The corruption of character is a likely result when we treat others as objects to be used for sexual pleasure (Lickona, 2007). Personal character is deformed when our selfish desires lead us to lie (“I love you”), or use coercion (“I’ll break up with you if you don’t”), to get sex.
  • Damage to the ability to trust can also occur. “Young people who feel used or betrayed after the break-up of a sexual relationship may experience difficulty trusting in future relationships” (Lickona, 2007, para 76).
  • Stunted personal development is another consequence Lickona identifies (2007). When a romantic relationship becomes sexual, teenagers tend to become so absorbed that other important relationships are neglected, and opportunities are missed which may never come again.
  • Depression is one of the most serious consequences of adolescents’ becoming sexually involved (Lickona, 2007). New research in the area of neuroscience has revealed that sexual activity triggers the release of powerful bonding hormones in both males and females (Bush, 2008; see also McElhaney, 2010). When the sexual partners are in a committed relationship, these bonds promote harmony and joy; but for non-committed couples, such bonding becomes the source of pain and despair. When these relationships come to an end, at least one of the partners will most likely experience a profound sense of loss, betrayal, and abandonment.

Most adolescents begin to engage sexually in the context of a romantic relationship because they believe they have found their one true love with whom they will share the rest of their lives. The likelihood is that the relationship will end before long, however, because throughout adolescence and early adulthood, the human personality changes rapidly. The biggest changes in personality traits occur from childhood through the 20s (Dahl, 2014, para. 7). The brain, also, is not fully developed until people reach their mid20s (“Understanding”, n.d., para. 2-3). Studies have shown that the median duration of adolescent romantic relationships is between 12 and 16 months (Karney, 2007, p. 20).

The powerful emotional bonding that occurs when romantic relationships become sexual, together with the transient nature of teenage romances, has resulted in a drastic increase in depression among sexually involved teens. Teenage boys who are sexually active are more than twice as likely to be depressed compared to those who are not sexually active (Rector, 2003). The outlook is even more dismal for sexually active girls, who are more than three times more likely to be depressed than are girls who are not sexually active (Rector, 2003).

A full quarter (25.3 percent) of teenage girls who are sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. By contrast, only 7.7 percent of teenage girls who are not sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. (Rector, 2003a, para. 11)

In the two charts below, Rector (2003a, para. 11) breaks down the data taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996:

Kanski #1        Kansk;i #2

  •  Lickona also warns about the clear link between sexual activity among teens and attempted suicides (2007). Girls who are sexually active are almost three times more likely to attempt suicide than are non-sexually active girls. Over 14 percent of sexually active girls report having attempted suicide, compared to only 5.1 percent of sexually inactive girls. Boys who are sexually active are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than are non-sexually active boys. Six percent of sexually active boys have attempted suicide, compared to only 0.7 percent of sexually inactive boys who have attempted suicide (Rector, 2003a).


  • Another of the most serious repercussions of teenage sexual involvement is the negative effects on marriage (Lickona, 2007). As detailed above, when people engage sexually with another person, their brains release hormones that cause them to bond and emotionally attach to the person with whom they engage. However, if they unattach from that person and reattach to another sexual partner, once or perhaps even multiple times, the ability to stay attached is significantly weakened, and “it is common for the first bond to haunt all future relationships” (Joy, 1985, p. 59).

Studies have shown that when people have had multiple sexual partners before marriage, they are more likely to divorce because they actually weaken the pathways that are necessary to attach at the deep and necessary emotional level important for marriage. (Bush, 2008, para. 13)

With repeated attaching and unattaching, the brain actually gets molded not to

accept the deep emotional bonding that is necessary for a lasting commitment.

“One huge result for the permissive is that when they do marry, they’re more likely to have a divorce than people who were virgins when they got married” (McIlhaney, 2010, para.13).

Sociologist, Jay Teachman, conducted a study to determine the association between premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and the risk of divorce among women. Teachman concluded that “intimate premarital relationships with other men are associated with a substantial increase in the likelihood of divorce” (2003, p. 445).


Faced with a cultural environment in which casual sex is the norm, how can we equip our teenagers and young adults to make good sexual choices which will promote happiness and emotional well-being, while protecting their futures and their future marriages? Lickona quotes the rationale of one college senior, who expresses a moral ambiguity common in our contemporary culture, “I got sexually involved because I couldn’t answer the question, Why shouldn’t  I have sex?’” (Lickona, 2004b, p. 5).

In order to abstain from premature sex, young people need internallyheld convictions about why it makes sense to save sexual intimacy for a truly committed relationship, with support from their families and their faith communities to live out these convictions (Lickona, 2004b, p. 4).

Kanski #3

1. Link to personal happiness

First of all, young people should be told that sexual activity in teen years is clearly linked to reduced personal happiness. Teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly less likely to be happy, compared to teens who are not sexually active. The next “Depression and Sexual Activity” table illustrates the findings of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996 (Rector, 2003a).

Rector notes that “a full 60.2 percent of sexually inactive girls report that they “rarely or never” feel depressed. For sexually active teen girls, the number is far lower: only 36.8 percent” (2003a, para.13). For either gender, however, the data makes it clear that adolescents who are not sexually active are markedly happier than those who are active.

The impact of sexual activity on personal happiness persists even into adulthood. A report entitled, “The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women,” found the following:
“an inverse relationship between personal happiness and the number of lifetime non-marital sexual partners. The greater the number of non-marital sex partners, the lower the probability of personal happiness” (Rector, 2003b, p. 20).
Fifty-six percent of women who have had sex only with men they married report that they are “very happy, while only 37 percent of women with five non-marital sex partners report that they are very happy (2003b).

The report also found that delaying sexual activity is linked to greater happiness. More than half the women who waited until their mid-20’s to have sex reported that they are “very happy(Rector, 2003b, p.13). The younger a woman was when she began sexual activity, the less likely she was to report high levels of happiness. Only a third of women who began sexual activity as young teenagers reported that they were currently “very happy” (2003b, p.13).

2. The Link to a happy marriage

Most teenagers report that they dream of being happily married someday (Lickona, 2007). In light of this fact, teens need to be told about the link between abstinence and the prospects for a future happy and stable marriage.

They should be taught to ask themselves the following question, before they consider engaging in any sexual activity: 

“What sexual decisions at this point in my life will help me realize my dream of a happy marriage? What problems might this sexual intimacy cause for me or my eventual marriage? What precious gift am I stealing from my future spouse?” (2007, para 14).

The Bible exhorts, “Let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). Fornication, or pre-marital sex, is one way the marriage bed is defiled. Many married men and women, report having flashbacks to earlier sexual encounters, along with the tendency, sometimes beyond their control, to compare their spouse with previous partners (McDowell, 1987, pp. 285-288). As McDowell observes, “Our sexual experiences seem to be written in ‘indelible ink’ in our memories, never to be erased” (1987, p. 286).

The following chart illustrates that over 80% of women who never had a sexual partner other than with their husbands were in a stable marriage. By contrast, women who had even one sexual partner prior to her husband were significantly less likely to have a stable marriage. The greater the increase in the number of non-marital sex partners, the lower the probability of marriage stability (Rector, 2003b, p. 18). 

                 Kanski Big Chart

The emotional and spiritual bond that is created between two people through the sexual act is too precious to be exploited for the sake of a transient, uncommitted liaison. “Marriage is essential to provide an adequate protection for the jewel of pair bonding in a relationship” (Joy, 1985, p. 54).

3. Don’t believe the hype

Young people need to be told not to believe the hype that “everyone’s doing it.” Joe McIlhaney, MD, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, excoriates the Planned Parenthood organization for bombarding kids and parents with the distortion that “essentially all high school students will be having sex by the time of graduation” (McIlhaney, 2015). The truth is that “nationwide stats show that the majority of kids in high school are still virgins” (2015, para.6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest data: High school students who have not had sexual intercourse are now in the majority (53%), and have been for the past 15 years (“Trends,” 2013). And of those who have had sex, nearly three-quarters of teen girls and nearly two-thirds of all teens admit that they wished they had waited longer before becoming sexually active. (Rector, 2003a).

Young people also need to be told not to believe the hype that virgins are looked down upon or stigmatized by their peers. In 2014, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy conducted a survey of attitudes and opinions of young adults regarding virginity and sexual experiences (“Virginity,” 2015). The survey found that young adults’ attitudes toward virginity are positive ones. Less than 1 percent of young adults say they think less of someone their age who has not had sex, and 46 percent of young adults say they “feel respect” for other young adults who have not had sex. Eighty-six percent say it is important for young teens to know that “it’s okay to be a virgin when you graduate from high school” (2015, para. 2).

4. Explain the benefits of waiting

It’s important to help teens realize the physical and emotional dangers of premature sex; however, too often, we leave them ill-equipped to face the inevitable temptation because we have not also made them aware of the rewards of saving sex for a truly committed love relationship.

  • Waiting will improve the quality of a couple’s relationships because they will spend more time getting to know each other.
  • Waiting will increase a person’s self-respect.
  • Waiting preserves a clear conscience and provides peace of mind, with no guilt,  conflicts, and no regrets.
  • Waiting will help people to find the right mate, one who will value them for the person they are.
  • By waiting, people develop character, and they will be able to attract a person of character, the kind of person people want to spend their lives with.

When a young adult does find the right person, waiting will allow the bond between the couple to grow deep and strong enough to last a lifetime.  Finally, Likona makes the following observation:

  • Waiting results in a better sexual relationship in marriage — free of comparisons and based on trust. By waiting, a person is being faithful to his other spouse even before meeting him or her. (Lickona, 2007)

Professional Counselor, Debra Fileta, elaborates this last point on her blogpost entitled, 5 Reasons Married Sex is Best!:

1.) Married Sex offers Unmatched Emotional Intimacy:

The commitment of marriage provides a safety that allows two people to be totally vulnerable to one another, which leads to great emotional intimacy, and the deeper the emotional connection between two people, the greater the sexual intimacy.

2.) Married Sex Provides An Ongoing Psychological Connection:

The beautiful thing about marital sex is that it’s not actually about the sex; it’s about something so much bigger, and greater, and more meaningful. It’s about a constant connection with another human being throughout the journey of life. This deep psychological connection between two people who truly know, love, serve, and sacrifice for one another spills out into sex and turns it into something more meaningful than anything Hollywood can muster.

3.) Married Sex Thrives in the Safety and Security of a Forever Commitment:

 Like anything worthwhile in life, a deep and meaningful sexual relationship takes time, effort, and a whole lot of practice. The beauty of marital sex as God intended for it to be is that there’s no rush. There is time to learn, time to grow, time to savor, and time to enjoy.

4.) Married Sex Maximizes the Physical Pleasures of Familiarity:

To know and be known is one of life’s most amazing gifts. Within the familiarity of marriage, we are more than free to try new things, but we’re also free to enjoy the same things again, and again. Gone is the pressure to “look perfect” or to “be an expert” because within the familiarity of a healthy marriage you are already known, already loved, already desired, and already accepted just as you are.

5.) Married Sex Involves a Supernatural Spiritual Oneness:

The beauty of sex within the framework of a loving, committed, God-honoring marriage is that there is a love present that surpasses all understanding. It’s an unconditional love between two people that overflows into their life, into their marriage, and into their bedroom. (Fileta, 2015)

5. Parental involvement.

The final tip for parents in counseling their teenagers about sex is, don’t underestimate your influence in their lives. It is hard to believe, sometimes, that you have any impact on their behavior, especially when they don’t seem to care or even want to hear what you say, and may at times seem to be ignoring you altogether, but the research indicates that parents do strongly influence their teens’ sexual behavior (“Parents,” 2015).

In survey after survey, children report that they want to talk to their parents about their sex-related questions, that it would be easier to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents, and that parents influence their decisions about sex more than friends do. (“Tips,” 2015, para. 4)

  • Parental Guidance: Teenagers whose parents discussed the social and moral consequences of being sexually active are more likely to be abstinent, and youths whose parents talked to them about what is right and wrong in sexual behavior are far more likely to be abstinent than those whose parents did not (“Parents,” 2015). Research also shows that teens are significantly affected when parents strongly disapprove of their being sexually active (“Parents,” 2015), so it’s important to be clear and specific about family beliefs and values about sex, and to communicate those plainly. Also, be ready to explain why you have those beliefs and values.
  • Parental Monitoring: Children whose parents monitor them more closely are less likely to be sexually active when they are in their teens” (“Parents,” 2015). Rules and curfews should be clear and lovingly reinforced. Openly and respectfully discuss with your teenagers the standard of behavior you expect from them. And know what your kids are watching, reading, and listening to. TV shows, movies, music videos, magazines, and the internet are saturated with material sending the wrong messages. “Young adults list Mediaas the main source of pressure to be become sexually active(“Virginity,” 2015, para 5).

It is common in our current culture to hear people talk about “safe sex. A recent Google search brought up websites entitled “Safe Sex for Teens,” “A Woman’s Guide to Safe Sex Basics,” and, “10 Ways to Make Safe Sex Fun.” The truth is, however, there is no such thing safe sex outside of marriage. Sex is too powerful to ever be “safe,” because with every sexual encounter we give a part of ourselves to another person.

In the current culture, sex may often seem like a casual thing. But sex is an act that is full of consequences. Sex, as one philosopher observed, is essentially deep. That’s a very good reason to save it for marriage, the deepest and most loving commitment two people can make to each other. (Lickona, 2004b).


Bush, F., & McIlhaney, J. (2008) “Hooked: The Bonding Power of Sex.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from FamilyLife Web Site:m -purity/hooked-the-bonding-power-of-sex.

Dahl, M. (2014, November 24).  “How Much Can You Really Change After You Turn 30?” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Web Site:

Davis, S. F., & Buskist, W. F. (Eds.) . (2008). 21st Century Psychology: A Reference Handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Fileta, D. (2015). “5 Reasons Married Sex is Best!” Retrieved December 9 2015, from True Love Dates Website:

Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2007). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Joy, D. (1985). Bonding: Relationships in the Image of GodWaco, TX: Word Books Publisher.

Karney, B., Beckett, M., Collins, R., Shaw, R. (2007). Adolescent Romantic Relationships as Precursors of Healthy Adult Marriages. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

Lickona, T. (2004a). Character Matters: How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues. New York: Touchstone.

Lickona, T. (2004b). How to Talk to Kids About Sex, Love, and Character.

Retrieved December 9 2015, from The State University of New York Cortland Website:

Lickona, T. (2007). “The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Catholic Education Resource Center Website: involvement.html.

McDowell, J., & Day, D. (1987). Why Wait?: What You Need to Know about the Teenage Sexuality Crisis. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

McIlhaney, J. (2010) “Sexually Indulgent Now, Marriage Ruined Later?” Retrieved December 9 2015, from CBN News Website:

McIlhaney, J. (2015). “Comprehensive Sex Ed Curricula Distorts Truth.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health Website:

Mintle, L. (2011). “Helping Your Young Adult Resist Pre-marital Sex.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from CBN Family Matters Website:

“Parents Influence on Adolescents Sexual Behavior.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from The Heritage Foundation Website:

Rector, R. E., Johnson, K., & Noyes, L. R. (2003a). “Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Center for Data Analysis Website: teenagers-are-more-likely-to-be-depressed#_ftn1.

Rector, R. E., Johnson, K. A., Noyes, L. R., & Martin, S. (2003b). The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts. Retrieved December 9, 2015 from The Heritage Foundation Website:

Teachman, J. (2003). “Premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and the risk of subsequent marital dissolution among women.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(2), 444-455

“Tips for Parents.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from Office of Adolescent Health Website:

“Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors and HIV Testing National YRBS: 1991—2013.” Retrieved December 9, 2015 from YRBSS CDC Website:

“Understanding the Teen Brain.” (n.d.). In University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 9 2015, from University of Rochester Medical Center Web Site:

“Virginity Revisited.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from Medical Institute for Sexual Health Website


The Mystery of Grace

What Is Grace?

The Apostle Paul clearly taught that Grace was a fundamental component of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here is what he wrote in the later part of his life as he journeyed towards Jerusalem:

And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

His ministry, he wrote, consisted primarily of testifying of the “gospel of the grace of God.”

The word “grace” is the English translation of the Greek word χάρις (charis), which means “that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune.” (12)

Today, the term has been adapted to mean the prayers said before a meal or to describe the beauty of a ballet dancer’s movements.  Throughout the history of the Church, however, the theological implications of Paul’s teachings have been much debated, and they are equally controversial in today’s Christian world.

Most recently, primarily because of the difficulty new Christians have in living holy lives, due to the extreme sinfulness of the conditions in today’s world, the term “hyper-grace” has been introduced to describe the teachings of those who believe that once Christians have been born-again, they no longer need to repent of their sins because they are automatically forgiven by the Blood of Jesus the moment they are committed” (Source).

You Must Be Born Again

The example of Nicodemus is especially helpful in clarifying this issue, for although he was a teacher and a Pharisee who tried in all ways to follow the Laws of Moses, Jesus told him that he needed to be “born again” to see the Kingdom of God.  Merely attempting to obey the Laws of Moses, or practice holy living, in one’s own strength and power is not enough; instead, one must first be regenerated, or born again, and then to begin living and walking in the Holy Spirit rather than in the flesh.

The Prophet Ezekiel looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s grace, prophesying that all believers would no longer be heirs of Adam’s sinful nature, but instead would be regenerated: 

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

The Apostle Paul also taught the following truths to the New Testament Church:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, (II Corinthians 5:17-18).

In fact, the phrase “new creature” means “new creation,” or a “whole new species of being that has never before existed.”

Indeed, when our Heavenly Father sees us after we are born again in Christ, He sees us as His children, and we call Him “Our Father,” as in the prayer Jesus taught His disciples (See Matthew 6:9-13).  Also, the Apostle Paul consistently taught that we believers need to see ourselves the same way:

Also, the Apostle Paul taught that we believers need to see ourselves the same way, as born again children of God, no longer bound by our prior sinful nature inherited from Adam:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)

The Apostle Paul and the other New Testament writers agreed in their exhortations to believers that Christians must not “sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).

In his teachings to the Romans, Paul also related that we have received abundant grace:

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Further, Paul taught that we cannot receive either justification or righteousness by our own works:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

The Problem of Legalism

It is through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption that we are saved, therefore, not by our own works.  The Laws of the Old Testament, says the writer of the Book of Hebrews, were given to prove to us that we cannot follow them completely.  They were given to teach us about our own inadequacies inherent in our sinful natures.

The Apostle Paul wrote that sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Some have taken this truth, however, to conclude that they may continue in sin, continue to live unrepentant, sinful lives, so that “God’s grace may abound,” although Paul explicitly denies this false teaching:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:1-3).

Have you ever tried actually to keep your New Year’s resolutions?

How easy is it to follow a diet to lose weight?  Knowing what I cannot eat only means I want it even more because I continue to think about what I cannot have!

Relying on our own strength and will power to conform to God’s standards of holiness and righteousness is actually impossible, for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Too many Christians live lives of frustration as they attempt to be holy by using their own abilities and resources.  They resort to legalism, demanding that not only they but also all Christians follow a list of laws that demonstrate their holiness.  When I was a child, these included not listening to the Beatles, not dancing to popular music, and not going to a bowling alley or a movie theater.

It was through one man’s sin that many were made sinners (read the story of the Fall of Adam in the book of Genesis).  In His mercy, God instituted a system of redemption for the Children of Israel  (see the “Laws of Moses” in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible).  By God’s grace, they received forgiveness through the keeping of the Laws of Moses, which entails relying on the blood sacrifices of animals that take the place of the sinners’ subjection t”o the “law of sin and death,” removing the sins of the people and redeeming the Israelites from the consequences of their sin.

In the same way, Jesus was the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” or so John the Baptist described Him.

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:18-21).

Notice the last part of this passage, which states that “even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

The Law was given, therefore, to show us what is sinful, not to demand under the New Covenant that we follow absolutely all of the rituals given by Moses. Grace reigns, therefore, and we can rely on the promises of God for His unmerited favor; He is not holding our sins against us because of the redemption we have gained through the sacrifice of Jesus, who took our punishment upon Himself on the cross.

It is difficult to imagine how God’s grace might be amplified even more than the grace provided by the superlative nature of God’s love towards us since while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  However, some Christian preachers and teachers have illogically decided that sinning actually allows God’s grace to work (as if He needs our help!).

In fact, many Christians have concluded that they may continue to live in sin and have never truly repented of their sins, merely continuing in their prior sinful conditions.  Such ideas have led to multiple accusations of “hypocrisy” against the Church and particularly among Church leaders, whose sins are loudly declared in the media.   However, these false teachings  of hyper-grace teachers explicitly contradict the clear teachings of the New Testament:

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

Significantly, just making a decision not to overeat or not to view pornography makes doing so all the more difficult because the “Law” we impose on ourselves only keeps the temptation before us day and night.  Under the New Covenant, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit and made to be new creatures; consequently, we should “have no more consciousness of sin.”

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

Instead of vainly attempting to follow the letter of the Law of Moses, therefore, God has given us a better way as a result of His grace.

The way of righteousness is not written on tablets of stone, giving us a constant awareness of sin in our lives, but instead, His Laws are written on our hearts since we have been regenerated as new creatures in Christ, having been born again.  See the following passage in Hebrews 10:16-18, quoting from Jeremiah 31:33:

This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”He then says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16-18)

Paul gives specific direction on how we can avoid having a consciousness of sin (always thinking about what is sinful): “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phlippians 4:8).

Jesus taught in the New Testament that we are in the process of being transformed, or “metamorphosized” to become like Him:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

(See more in this article and the subsequent articles.)

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Therefore, through the Holy Spirit, who was given to the Church as our Teacher and the one who convicts of the sin in our lives, as we “take up our cross” and “follow Him daily” (Luke 9:23), we are being changed into His image from day to day.  This takes place by exercising our free will, choosing to follow Him and not the ways of Satan or the world.  The road we walk is narrow, not broad:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Too many Christians teachers have denigrated the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Believers, declaring that the works and operations of the Holy Spirit ceased when the Apostles passed away.

Once again, false teachings have arisen as a result of over-reactions to abuses in the Church.  Legalism has resulted in the “Hyper-grace” movement, and the excesses of some charismatic, or “pentecostal,” believers have led to a dispensational dogma that opposes, essentially, any and all operations of the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit was given by Christ to the whole Church: to as many as the Lord, Our God, shall call (Acts 2:38-40).  Since the Holy Spirit was given as our Teacher, we are also taught not to “quench” the Spirit’s fire in our lives in any way (See I Thessalonians 5:19).  The Spirit instructs us in the ways of righteousness, having begun the work of regeneration in our lives by causing us to be “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6).

To summarize, I will point to what the Apostle Paul wrote in the Eighth Chapter of Romans:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

This means that we Christians have been set free from legalism (trying to follow the “law of sin and death.”  However, we still must live our lives not “according to the flesh,” or according to the lusts of our bodies, but “according to the Spirit.”  Our continual desire must be to be filled with the Spirit so that we do not follow the lusts of the flesh.  God in His mercy and grace has forgiven us of all sin, but we must choose to walk in the steps of Christ, a narrow road indeed!




Is Jesus Truly Lord of Your Life?


In my most recent Biblical Mysteries Revealed article, I addressed the problems of allowing our hearts to be filled with “evil treasure.”  Jesus said that “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). Consequently, we may know what fills the heart of those we associate with, as well as ourselves.  What goes in will eventually come out if we allow it to remain and grow! And we can know if the Word of God abides in us based on what comes out of our mouths (see John 15:6-8):

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

Many Christians wonder why their prayers do not seem to be answered, yet the words that come out of their mouths, or even are written in the form of “texts” or “posts,” may not be filled with faith, but instead are unholy words of ungodliness.

These words demonstrate that what fills their hearts is not faith-filled, and we learn from the Book of Hebrews that

“without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

True faith comes from the Word of God (Romans 10:17), which is why we need not only to “meditate on the Word of God” continually (Psalms 1:2), but also to speak the Word faithfully, guarding our tongues and following Paul’s exhortation:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29-30)

Jesus said,

But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  (Matthew 12:35-37)

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45)


Obedience Indicators

Not allowing corrupt communications to come out of our mouths takes more than mere willpower, although making a firm decision is definitely important.  Here is Jesus’ warning: 

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well-built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49).

As a child, you probably sang the song that is based on these verses.  It’s a message that is simple enough even for children to understand, yet we should not be offended that the message is also intended for our ears, for Jesus said that those who come to Him must be like little children.


What Does Lordship Mean?

Jesus relates this same parable in Matthew’s Gospel, but the context is slightly different:

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:22-24)

We must conclude, therefore, that even though many people may consider themselves to be Christians, having called upon the name of Jesus, or prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer,” they will be shocked to learn that they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, for they have not truly made Jesus Lord.  Instead, they have “practiced lawlessness,” calling on Jesus as their “Lord, Lord,” and even practicing in a ministry in His Name; however, they still have not made Jesus the Lord of their lives.  They do not hear the Lord’s voice through the Holy Spirit and follow the directions of that voice. They instead choose to follow their own desires or the temptations of the world, filling their hearts with ungodly thoughts and words and believing the lies of Satan who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.


My Friend Ed Newman’s Music Ministry

I want to do my best to let people know about Ed Newman.  What an inspiring man of God!

Ed has a superb music ministry, talented in so many ways, especially playing guitar and writing/arranging new songs.  You can see his web page by clicking on this link:

His music is available for no cost, and it will inspire you!  I recommend the CD he just gave me not long ago called “Let Your Mind Dwell on These Things.”  What a wonderful scripture song!  Click here:  Let Your Mind Dwell on These Things CD Information.  Ed does not charge for his music; you can download his songs without cost, but if there is a charge, just let me know and I will refund you the cost.

You can also visit Ed on Facebook:  Ed on Facebook.

What Kind of Tree Are You?


It’s Not What’s In Your Wallet, but What’s in Your Heart!

I just finished watching an episode of “Master Chef Junior,” a competitive cooking program that tests the precocious culinary skills of pre-teenagers, ages 8-13. Astoundingly, one of the phrases most commonly used by these children during the program was, “OH, my God!”

Little do these children realize, of course, that they are using the name of the Lord God in vain, one of the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments.  The word “vain” means “empty,” which means that they are using the name of the Lord God, but not giving Him the esteem and honor He deserves. They are appealing to God with their words, but their appeals are empty, without even acknowledging His existence or presence in their lives.

Even more disturbing are the many times I see the many “OMG” exclamations every day on Facebook, not to mention the many other acronyms that refer to sexual intercourse, excrement, or urine.  

When I was a child, I was taught not to use such words, even though I wasn’t always provided a positive example of what not to say.  Therefore, I didn’t have a very good understanding about why I was forbidden from using such words.  I was just told that they were “bad words,” and I was not to say them.  Unfortunately, such words also appear on many Christians’ Facebook pages, at least in the form of quotations from other posts, or “shares.”

Jesus makes clear in the following passage from Luke’s Gospel, however, that a tree is known by the fruit it brings forth.  Consequently, we can know what kind of tree we are by the fruit that comes forth from our lives, or more specifically out of our mouths, or from our pens, texts, or Facebook posts.  

For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:44-46)

Of course, most Christians are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 to inform the Church what kinds of fruit the Holy Spirit brings forth in those who allow Him to live in us fully:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The metaphorical application of a fruitful tree to a person who is living a fruitful life in the Lord is not unusual in the Scriptures.  One of the most obvious examples is in the First Psalm:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3)

This passage contains the essential truths about fruitfulness as it relates to our lives as compared to a living tree.  If we truly wish to be fruitful, we must keep these conditions:

  1.  We must not associate with, or be influened by, ungodly people.  Doing so will ultimately fill our minds and hearts with sinful thoughts and habits.
  2. We must delight in the Word of God, meditating on the Word at all times and filling our hearts with the truths of the Word, the primary prerequisite for building faith in our lives, without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!”  (Romans 10:17).


Our Words Reveal Both Our Character and the Faith in Our Hearts

Aligning these Scripture verses together in this way clarifies how the fruit of obedience and holiness arise in our lives.  The ultimate source is the Word of God as it lives and dwells in our hearts, producing the faith that brings obedience, righteousness, and blessing.  In addition, Jesus reveals in Matthew’s Gospel what the source of all good and bad fruit is in our lives: 

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. (Matthew 12:33-35)

We have a common saying today that relates essentially the same truth with regards to computer and internet technology: “Garbage in; garbage out.”  In other words, just as with computers, what comes out of our mouths will either be “garbage” or good fruit, depending on what we have received into our minds and hearts.  As Christians, therefore, we display who we are, or what kind of tree we are, by the words we use.  

The Apostle Paul is also very specific about what kind of evil speaking qualifies as both bad and good fruit:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

Any communication that does not “edify,” therefore, is not good fruit.  To edify means to “build up,” or to “improve spiritually, morally, or intellectually.”  In today’s culture, we are so concerned about what we are eating, checking for chemicals in our foods and seeking to eat only natural products.  However, Jesus said that it’s not what goes into our mouths that corrupts us, but instead what comes out.

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:10-12)

Learn a Lesson From the Fig Tree

Another striking example of a tree and fruitfulness  in the Scriptures is the story of the fig tree:

Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

The leaves on the fig tree hold out a promise of fruitfulness, but this promise is not fulfilled.  Clearly, Jesus is disappointed at not being able to eat, and He sends a strong message of rebuke to those of us in the Church who hold out a promise of fruitfulness that is not fulfilled.  

As Jesus promised, today’s Church is facing persecution in many ways, from many different directions.  However, some of this persecution will be brought about only because Christians are not being Christlike or truly fruitful.  Instead, we are perceived as hypocritical, only preaching godliness but not demonstrating that same godliness in our lives.

We need to be different, not merely mimicking the behaviors of people in the world, but pure and holy in our speech, appearance, and behavior.  Even what we quote in our Facebook posts reflects what kind of people we are and what we have inside of us.  If we are no different from everyone else on Facebook, what right do we have to send a message of forgiveness and transformation to others?  

My New Book

Now Available!

My new book is now available in eBook format, including Kindle, Nook, and other digital readers.  Click here to bring up the two most popular versions:

Kindle on Amazon

Nook on Barnes and Noble

Sparks Pic



Part I:  Introduction:  Seeing Beyond the Literal

Part II: The Spiritual Realm

Part II:  Thinking with the Mind of Christ

Part IV: The Apostle Paul’s Mysticism

Part V:  Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

Part VI: Using Spiritual Weapons

Part VII: Intercessory Prayer in Spiritual Warfare

Part VIII: The End Times

Part IX:  Final Words

About the Author

Christian Maturity: Part II

Natural Versus Spiritual Maturity

Natural maturity, being mature as a mental and physical human being, is not comparable to spiritual maturity.

A person’s age does not always indicate maturity in either the natural or spiritual realms, but spiritual maturity is measured primarily by such indicators as the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) and other indicators of growth, including true humility and leadership.

For example, the Apostle Peter told Believers to put aside the sins of immaturity, such as malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Instead they needed to grow in respect to salvation by first receiving the pure “milk” of the Word.

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (I Peter 2:1-3)

The writer of the Book of Hebrews (whom I believe was the Apostle Paul, or at least one of his disciples) is even more direct:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

The marks of the mature Christian, therefore, are clear. Mature Christians do not engage in sinful behaviors, and they also are obedient in following Christ’s instructions to teach and train new believers to become mature themselves.

Standing Firm

In addition, a number of admonitions from the Apostle Paul declare the power of not just resisting the captivity of sinfulness and temptation but also continuing to stand firm in the face of evil.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (Galatians 6:13-14))

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

Standing firm means exercising patience and stability in spite of the temptations to give up or turn away from Christ Jesus’ teachings to “take up the cross daily” (Luke 9:23) or walk the narrow and straight pathway to Heaven (Matthew 7:14).

The Apostle Paul, for example, exhorted his disciple Timothy to

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (II Timothy 4:2)
Exercising patience is one of the keys to opening the doors to the promises of God:
. . .so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)

Of these two enabling powers, faith and patience, the later is perhaps the most difficult, for it takes time to exercise patience. Too often we pray, “God, give me patience and give it to me now!” Consequently, like a child in the Walmart, impatient believers fall on the floor and cry because they cannot have the toys they have seen and want to take home. 

May the Lord reveal to us His paths to maturity as we seek to follow Him and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit!


Please view this video of my message from July 13, 2014, on the subject of Spiritual Maturity:  Milk, Meat, or Metamucil?

Christian Maturity: Part I

Christian Maturity

Newborn babies are beautiful when they emerge into this world from their mothers’ wombs, especially when they recover from a difficult entry into the world, cry a while, and finally slip into a restful sleep.  They are so innocent and pure, yet we know that their true nature will become manifest very soon.  They are essentially self-centered, the center of their own universe, and only concerned about themselves.  And since they are innately sinful, they need to be taught how to be mature and sinless through Christ.
The Scriptures speak of all humans as being innately sinful, in need of spiritual rebirth:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)
They need to be birthed into the Kingdom of Heaven, not merely the physical realm.  Jesus said to Nicodemus that a person needs to be “born again” if he is to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, “You must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)
Even Nicodemus, a spiritual leader in Israel, was told that he needed to be reborn in order to be truly spiritual and enter God’s Kingdom.  
This story leads us to the conclusion that even recently born children need to be reborn spiritually, for they have only been born into the natural world. Thus, although Jesus said, “A child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6), their understanding of the spiritual world is lacking, for they cannot see or understand spiritual truths.

Natural Versus Spiritual

Therefore, the first step towards Christian maturity is to be born a second time as a newborn into the Kingdom of God.  Otherwise, spiritual truths will not be understood or made a part of the person’s life and being:

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. (I Corinthians 2:14-15
Our lives in Christ must not end where they begin, however, as spiritual infants, for we must grow and mature spiritually.
We begin with a hunger for the “milk of the word,” as Peter writes:
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (I Peter 2:1-3)
Yes, infants subsist on their mothers’ milk, but they soon must begin to grow and begin eating more solid foods.  The Apostle Paul’s message to the Corinthians chastises them for not growing beyond the infant stage.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (I Corinthians 3:1-3)
Thus, while we all delight in the infants and babies around us, we are very disappointed when they continue to act like babies into their later months and years of life.  And some older adults even tend to continue acting like babies and children later in life.

Marks of Immaturity

What are the marks of a lack of spiritual maturity? Babies in Christ are like human infants, who are lovable, cute, and look like their parents.  And although  we may overlook and forgive their lack of maturity, they will likely exhibit some of the following characteristics at one time or another:
  • Spiritual babies are still carnal, are governed by their five physical senses, rather than “walking in the Spirit” and moved by God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Spiritual babies, like natural infants, get dirty and soil themselves, easily led into the uncleanliness of sin in the world.
  • Spiritual babies think they know everything they need to know.
  • Spiritual babies are not always spiritually motivated and may lack the spiritual power to live righteously. Instead, they must be motivated by rules, laws, and regulations enforced by punishments and chastisements, rather than being guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • Like natural babies and immature children, spiritual babies are impatient and lack endurance in the midst of persecution, trials, or hardships.
  • Spiritual babies may be self-centered and inconsiderate, yet hard to please, especially when they are older adults.
  • Spiritual babies are easily deluded and deceived, following the latest sensational teaching or television trends without discernment.
  • Spiritual babies may easily take offense, hold grudges, and find it difficult to forgive others.
  • Like the Children of Israel in the wilderness, spiritual babies may be complainers and crybabies.
  • Some spiritual babies are mean spirited rather than exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Finally, like the immature children in the natural realm, spiritual babies may engage in bullying, teasing, and other group behaviors that seek to exercise control over others.


Stunted Growth Christians

Ironically, not all spiritual babies are young in years like natural children. Instead, some Christians have failed to grow up in all things in Christ:
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head,even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)
Such immature Christians may even have assumed positions of leadership in the Church even though they essentially are spiritual babies, having failed to grow and mature in the Lord.
In addition, too often they have outlasted true spiritual leaders in the local church who may have moved on to other churches.  Consequently, these spiritual babies tend to assume more leadership than anyone else in the church because they have been around longer. “We have never done it this way,” they say, and they try to take control even over the physical facilities and make the building their “church,” rather than realizing that the people make up the true Church.  
Thus, Christians who have never fully matured in spite of their many years in the church may exhibit all of the same behaviors of spiritual babies, but they are even more ridiculously pathetic, similar to adults who think they are mature but are constantly drinking from a baby bottle, crying, or complaining.
The Book of Hebrews reveals the characteristics of some of these spiritually immature Christians:
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)
Thus, if they hear a message they have not heard before, or if it seems to contradict the basic doctrines they are familiar with, they will reject it the same way a little child will not eat adult foods. They have become “dull of hearing,” and therefore only hear what they want to hear rather receiving the “solid food” of mature believers.
The solution lies with the plans God has revealed through His Holy Spirit and the Scriptures: The ministries of the Holy Spirit have been given to the Church to bring about the full maturity of the members:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Who Are the Mature Believers?

By submitting to, and learning from, these spiritual leaders, the babies in Christ will grow to maturity, learning from the words and actions of the mature leaders in the Body:
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Ultimately, the time must also come when the Body of believers in the Church must even move past the basic teachings of the Word in order press on to the fullness of Christ’s ministry in the world.  This is what it says in Hebrews:
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.
 Thus, the mature believers in the Church exhibit the following characteristics:
  • The mature believer is led by the Holy Spirit rather than the flesh, or the natural knowledge that only comes from the five physical senses.
  • A mature believer seeks not his or her own way, but dies daily to personal desires, taking up the cross to allow Christ to live inside.
  • A mature believer shares willingly with others and is not controlling or manipulative to receive acclaim or authority.
  • Thus, a mature believer does not engage in “pity parties” or use unspiritual methods to get his or her own way.
  • A mature believer is led by the Holy Spirit rather than the latest best selling book, popular cultural fad, or the desires of the flesh (five physical senses).
  • A Mature believer is humble and appreciative, giving thanks to God and others believers who do God’s work.
  • A mature believer is a teacher, helping others grow up in the life of Christ.
  • A mature believer is becoming more and more like Christ, being transformed into His image day by day.
  • A mature believer subsists not just on the “milk” of the Word, but on the “meat” of the Word. Thus, even their physical senses are “trained” to discern good and evil: (Hebrews 5:13-14).
We must determine to examine ourselves and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to discern our own maturity level, seeking ultimately to be diligently prepared and powerful witnesses in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Knowing in Part: Seeing Through the Glass Darkly

Many Christians avoid discussing or even thinking about theological questions, mainly because they believe the issues cannot always be sufficiently resolved, at least using the mental tools we have.  
For example, how can a God who is the very definition of love make this statement about Rebekah’s unborn twins?
There was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-13)
How can we quote from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” yet also believe that God has predestined some for eternal life, while others will have no chance of obtaining salvation and will spend eternity in everlasting torment?
These and similar perplexities  have been the cause of division and strife throughout the history of the Church.
While the writings of the Apostles, particularly the Apostle Paul, attempt to clarify for the early believers the theological issues concerning salvation and the fulfillment of God’s covenant with the Church, the New Israel, for example, questions continue to this day over such seeming conflicts between free will and predestination or the “security of the believer” as opposed to the possible loss of salvation.
Very recently, for example, Andrew Wilson in the Christianity Today Weekly Newsletter wrote the following:

The paradox of divine sovereignty and human responsibility is not meant to be resolved but rather retained. Scripture indicates that both God and we work in our salvation. (Wilson)

Even this attempt to clarify one of the issues is enigmatic, however, mainly because of the word “paradox” Wilson uses.  If theological issues are paradoxes, how can we determine what to believe?

Logical Fallacies

Helping students improve their writing skills in my Freshman Composition classes included not just studying grammar and style, but also such topics as “logical fallacies.” 

First, however, I had to demonstrate to the students that using logical fallacies in their writing was highly ineffective in convincing their readers (i.e. Dr. Jenkins) that their arguments were solidly reasoned and effectively argued.

For example, to justify their essay’s argument, they might find some esteemed “authority” that they chose to agree with, perhaps a professor or a celebrity, then argue that since “So-and-so” says so in his “tweet,” it must be true!”  Since so many people have become accustomed to hearing and using these fallacies in their daily lives, therefore, convincing students of their inadequacy was especially difficult.  

Post Hoc Fallacy

One of the most confusing of the many logical fallacies, for example, is the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which literally translated means, “after this, therefore because of this.”  In other words, since one event precedes another event, the first event must be the cause of the second.

Here is a typical post hoc fallacy statement:

The number of vaccines given children today parallels the number of children who are being diagnosed with autism. Therefore, vaccines need to be banned because they cause autism.

Vaccines may indeed cause autism, but this simplistic statement needs more convincing proof than the mere coincidental relationship between the two statistics. In this case, the idea that the statement is “perfectly reasonable” is unreasonable.

What Is a Paradox?

A paradox is not “two doxes”!

Paradoxical statements or arguments may likewise cause logical problems in academic or journalistic writing.  A paradox exists when two statements seem equally true, yet they cannot both be true.  Here’s an example of a common paradox found in many television commercials:

Just telephone us right now!  By investing in this product, you will save hundreds of dollars! But this offer won’t last long, so call now!

Just “spend money to save money” might seem to make no sense, but how many times have we fallen for the entrapment entailed in these appeals?

Such is the issue with the theological questions concerning God’s omniscience and the innate human ability to make free choices as a result of personal “free will.”

If we have been chosen and predestined, for example, do we have eternal security and therefore cannot lose our salvation no matter what we do or how we sin? Here is what one author wrote on this issue:

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. (Qtd. on Horn)

Therefore, anyone who does not endure to the end was never truly “saved” in the first place, or so the argument goes.

On the other hand, was the writer of the Book of Hebrews mistaken when he wrote the following:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

This issue has resulted in schisms and separations within the Church, resulting in whole denominations devoted to one side or the other in the debate.  

Here is the paradox:  If God’s omniscience reveals what we will ultimately do, then our choices have essentially already been determined.  If we indeed have unlimited free will, however, then our directions may change at any time and God does not have ultimate, omniscient sovereignty.

In addition, so many theologians and Bible teachers are guilty of the “hasty generalization” fallacy in their doctrines, assuming that from their own limited perspectives they know all they need to know, not acknowledging that only God is omniscient and knows all things.

The problems persist once these complex doctrines are expounded upon from ancient texts, or the spoken words of esteemed preachers are transcribed .  So many people decide that they agree with one particular author or teacher and become “followers” of a particular teaching.  They then strongly oppose anyone who might disagree, to the point that other obvious truths are ignored. Those who disagree are ostracized, shunned, or attacked, while those who agree smugly or proudly pose as the true experts who have been enlightened fully.

Ultimately, new denominations or sects are formed or new leaders ascend to the head of the table, leading to further confusion in the Body of Christ.


Instead, we need to recognize that we are neither omniscient nor omnipresent. And since we are neither timeless nor infinite, facts and conditions that are outside our knowledge or understanding invariably exist.  Thus, we cannot make definitive conclusions, or we will be guilty of the “hasty generalization” fallacy, making an inductive decision of what is true based on insufficient evidence.  

Instead, we need to do the best we can with what we have received, while remaining open to other possibilities that God may reveal to us.

Below is a diagram that demonstrates a possible explanation of the “paradox dilemma,” based on what the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Untitled drawing

The two points of the triangle at the bottom represent “truths” that we may believe to be true from our limited perspectives, yet they appear to contradict one another.  Thus, they are paradoxical.

How can they both be true?  

Yet they both lead upward to a place beyond our cognizance, above to the unseen world of the spirit.  If we could see beyond the gap between the flesh and the spirit, we could easily see how both contradictory truths ultimately meet.

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

This means that what we perceive as logically sound may not be logical based on what is ultimately true from God’s omniscient, omnipresent perspectives.  

Go Into All the World

Ultimately, arguing about whether a person is one of the “elect,” or whether I am predestined to be saved or not, or whether she is one whom God has called are questions that are contrary to the Great Commission Jesus gave to all of His disciples.  

He sent us out into the entire world to preach His Good News, that whoever desires His mercy may be saved.  We shouldn’t even consider the idea that we are wasting our time preaching to certain people because they might not predestined to be saved from sin anyway.  

We need to operate in faith, trusting that Jesus will send us to those who will receive the Word and desire to follow Him. Jesus said:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Since all authority has been given to Christ Jesus, ours is not to question who or who will not receive His salvation, a salvation that is freely given to “all the nations,” a description that pretty much includes everyone!


The Kingdom of God, Part VIII

Displaying IMG_20150801_125947.jpg


The End of All Things:  Revelation 21-22

Chapter 21 in Revelation begins with a vision of the new heaven and the new earth John sees after the final judgment described in the previous chapter, when death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)

Again, like other images in Revelation, this detail about the sea’s not existing should not be taken literally, although in a new Heaven and a new Earth there may indeed be no more water, as some teachers of Revelation have suggested, even though there is a “River of Life” flowing through the city.

I believe that the sea in verse one refers symbolically to humanity, which no longer exists on the earth, for all of the unredeemed rebellious people have been sent to the lake of fire, and all of the redeemed are seen as the “New Jerusalem.”  

The sea also symbolizes humanity in Chapter 13 of Revelation, where we see two “beasts,” one rising out of the sea and the other rising out of the earth.  The first is described specifically as devoted to speaking blasphemies against God and persecuting the Church.

And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in thebook of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (Revelation 13:6-8)

The city called the “New Jerusalem” in Revelation 21 is also depicted as the bride in the following passage:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

The speaker in the next few verses is clearly Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, or the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the First and the Last, and the Beginning and the End!

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:5-8)

This symbolic connection between the New Jerusalem and the Bride of Christ is emphasized further in the next passage, for “one of the angels says to John, Come and see the Bride” (21:9), yet the vision John then sees is the holy city, the New Jerusalem:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. (Revelation 21:10-11)


What follows is an extensive and elaborate description of this magnificent city, including the dimensions, descriptions of the city gates, and the ornate composition of the walls and streets.

We need to be certain not to interpret these details literally, as though they describe a physical city, however.  Instead, the details are all symbolic, beginning with the picture of the “Lamb” and the temple.

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)

Even the word “Lamb” is a symbol representing Jesus Christ who is described as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), a description which links Jesus to the lambs of the temple sacrifices of the Old Covenant that were sacrificed for the sins of the people.  Even these lambs were a pre-figured representation of the ultimate sacrifice for sin that Christ completed on the cross of His crucifixion, as described by Peter:

  • He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (I Peter 2:24)
  • For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, (I Peter 3:18-19)

In addition, unlike what I was taught as a teenager, the New Jerusalem is not a physical place where all the saints will live, but instead consists of all of Christ’s saints, those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and are built up as “living stones,” as the Apostle Peter relates:

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, aprecious corner stoneAnd he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (I Peter 2:4-6)

Further, John writes this about the Temple that is in the midst of the New Jerusalem, indicating that the Temple is an overall representation of the Church of Christ:

And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only thosewhose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)

The Water and the Tree of Life

What follows in the next chapter, Revelation 22, is a description of the river of the water of life and the tree of life in the middle of the New Jerusalem, once again the symbolic representation of the Church, the Bride of Christ:

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)
This passage alludes back to the story of the fall of humankind in the Book of Genesis, where the tree of life first appears in the Scriptures.  If you will recall, God told Adam that the Earth was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, and the couple was banished so they would no longer have access to the Tree of Life.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. (Geness 3:22-24)
Thus, as the passage relates, there will no longer be a curse on the land, and the light will appear not from the sun, moon, and stars, but from the Lord God.

The Final Messages in Revelation

Finally, in Revelation 22:6-21, we read the final messages at the end of John’s visions:

  •  “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (22:7)
  • “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (22:10)
  • Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” (22:11)
  • “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. (22:12)
  • I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (22:13)
  • “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (22:16)
  • The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (22:17)
  • He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (22:20)

Some of these messages seem confounding and confusing, for they seem to be saying that the Lord is coming soon and Christ’s coming is near, in spite of the clear fact Jesus did not come soon.  Even the early apostles and the Apostle Paul implied that Christ’s coming was near.  

However, either His appearing has been delayed for two-thousand years or the Lord’s purposes have a deeper intent than we might suppose and understand.

Perhaps both interpretations may be correct, however, for the Apostle Peter addresses both possibilities about the delay in the Lord’s coming.  Considering that God is timeless, above the restrictions of the linear nature of time’s progress, only two days have passed!

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (II Peter 3:8)

In addition, the Lord will delay His coming until every stone has been added to the Temple, every person has been added to the Body of Christ:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

And finally, Peter says, the Lord will appear suddenly, without warning, much the same way a thief might secretly break into a home when least expected.  

Christ is not a thief, of course, but Peter’s analogy is significant.  As in the parable of the Ten Virgins, we need to be ready, no matter how long it takes, for He could appear at any moment:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)

A Word of Warning

John  adds a final note of his own to his book, warning that some may try to add or take away from the words, and perhaps even the meanings, of the signs and symbols of these marvelously revealed visions.

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Unfortunately, some of the most dedicated teachers of Revelation have made the errors John mentions, either by adding their own interpretations to the visions or taking away parts of the visions. 

I heard recently a description of these kinds of interpretations as follows:

It’s like looking into a well and seeing one’s own reflection.  

Thus, some well-meaning teachers only see from their own solipsistic perspectives, rather than finding the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to understand the mysteries of Revelation.  This means, for example, that the locusts in the Book of Revelation are not helicopters with guided missiles, and the 144,000 saints are not members of a religious cult that only appeared in the twentieth century.

New eBook Publication


Out Now!

My new book has appeared in eBook format, available in Kindle, Nook, and other digital readers.  

Kindle on Amazon

Nook on Barnes and Noble


Sparks Pic


In these pages I share and explain insights into biblical “mysteries,” a word used by both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. I begin with methods of biblical interpretation, including how to “rightly divide” the Scriptures, then I proceed to reveal insights into a number of perplexing biblical “mysteries.” In doing so, I use both historical fiction and autobiographical approaches to help the ideas come alive.

The Apostle Paul wrote that “a natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (I Corinthians. 2:14). Consequently, I seek to explain how to search the Scriptures wisely, beginning with some simple methods that help uncover the spiritual depths of the Words of God, not just their literal meanings.

With this foundation, I then lead the reader through a number of lessons necessary for seeing in the Spirit, seeking foremost to define what Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and others meant by this term “mystery,” a word often used to describe the secrets that God desires to reveal to us: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden” (I Corinthians 2:7).

The Kingdom of God: Revelation Part I


The Book of Revelation, written down by the Apostle John, has much to say about the Kingdom of God, but it is primarily this book, unfortunately, that is the basis of the teaching that the reign of Christ will only begin after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This teaching says that Christ will be crowned to set up His throne in Jerusalem, where He will rule on Earth for one thousand years.

     The Book of Revelation was written to the whole Church, however, not just the Church that exists in what is termed “the later days.” What is written must make sense and pertain to the Church of all ages, for as John wrote,

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)

The book belongs to all who read it, for the time is near to them also, as Jesus said in John’s vision, “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. . . .Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Revelation 22:7, 10).     

     In addition, Revelation belongs to a particular genre, or “kind” of writing called apocalyptic literature.  Thus, the book as a whole contains content much like parts of the books of Daniel and Ezekiel that include such strange images, as in the following passage:

Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. (Ezekiel 1:5-7)

Therefore, Revelation is a book that was not intended to be taken literally, for it was “signified” to John, as the word “communicated” is best translated in the Authorized Version, “He sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1 KJV).  Thus, the visions John saw on the Island called Patmos were revealed to him in the form of signs and symbols, a waking vision.  

     For example, in the first chapter, Jesus is depicted as having a sword coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16).  We must not make the mistake of seeing this as a literal sword, however. Instead, it is a picture or representation of the “sword of the spirit,” the “Word of God” described by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:17) and by the writer of the Book of Hebrews (4:12) 

     This example of the sword reveals that the mysteries in Revelation, the many images and symbols in the Book of Revelation, may be discovered and understood in the context of other parts of the Scriptures.

     In addition, this book must not be read and understood chronologically or linearly.  It is not a “history” of the Church through two thousand years and beyond, but instead it portrays a series of visions that show patterns that are relevant to the Church of all ages.  

     Again, John shows this relevance to the whole Church clearly in the final chapter of the book, where he says of the angelic messenger:

And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:6-7)

     Therefore, John’s visions are comprehensible only to those believers who have been given the Keys to the Kingdom of God, not to those who are “outside” trying to see inside.  

     The message of Revelation was also important in the Early Church period, for example, so that early Christians did not invite more persecution by revealing what some of the meanings were in difficult times.  Can you imagine what the Emperor Diocletian might have thought of John’s book if he had known its true and unveiled content?  

     Therefore, it is clear that the Scriptures as a whole are the keys that unlock the mysteries of the visions John saw.  We have been given the Bible as a kind of code book which holds the keys to unlocking the enigmas and obscure meanings of the text. These are mysteries that God wants to reveal to His people.

     Finally, the book of Revelation focuses on a revelation, or a “revealing,” of Jesus Himself and His Body, the Church, not just the horrors of a supposed tribulation and His second coming. Based on what this book describes, Christ’s work has been finished, just as He said on the cross, “It is finished.” Thus, there is nothing more to do except to finish, or complete, what has already been decreed.



An Outline of Revelation

     The book consists generally of seven visions in which the overall plan of God is revealed from seven different perspectives.  In varying degrees of specificity, we see both the entire picture, as well as different details, not necessarily with the same degree of specificity or in the same language.

Also, John sees his visions “in the Spirit,” not with the eyes of the flesh. Even what we see with our own eyes may be difficult to recall and write, but John is charged with writing what he sees in a spiritual vision, no easy task:

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. (Revelation 4:1-2)

     Each one of the seven visions portrays in different ways the story of the coming of Christ Jesus to redeem us from the Kingdom of Darkness, ruled over by Satan, followed by Christ’s victory over Satan, followed further by the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Christ’s reign on earth is then depicted and the final defeat of Satan is accomplished as the Gospel goes forth to the world and the Church is called to Heaven as the Bride of Christ.

     All of the visions John sees are also begun in different ways that show a transition to a new perspective.  Here are some examples:

  • First Vision (1-3): I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see. . .”
  • Second Vision (4-7): After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.
  • Third Vision (8-11):  When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
  • Fourth Vision (12-14): A great sign appeared in heaven. . .
  • Fifth Vision (15-16): Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues.
  • Sixth Vision (17-19):  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot. . .” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness.
  • Seventh Vision (20-22): Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 

     Here, then, are descriptions of these seven visions with appropriate interpretations and explanations. These understandings are not my own entirely, but they are compilations of the teachings of many Bible scholars and teachers.  The teachings of Malcom Smith have been particularly enlightening and helpful.


First Vision: Chapters 1-3

     John’s first vision should not be read or understood literally, for it sets the parameters for the rest of the visions in the book.  First, the vision was communicated, or “signified,” through Christ’s messenger (1:1), and for our purposes in this study, John clearly states that we, the recipients, have been made to be a “Kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1:6)

     What are we looking for?  Significantly, when He appears, every eye will see Him, for He is not a thief, as some have portrayed Him, coming secretly to rescue His followers.  The word “thief” in Jesus’ teaching refers only to the suddenness of His coming, not to the idea that He will not be seen.

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.  (Revelation 1:7)


John’s Visions Should Not Be Interpreted Literally

     Two images immediately appear in the vision, the sharp sword out of Christ’s mouth (1:16) and the “Seven lampstands.”  These images are immediately interpreted by John for us as the seven churches addressed. Are these churches symbolic? 

     For example, do the seven churches represent the different “ages” of the church throughout history, as some have suggested?  Some have taught that the universal “Church” of today is represented by the final church addressed in Revelation, the church in Laodicea: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (3:16).

     I do not believe that this teaching is correct, for these churches represent the different kinds of churches that have existed at any time in the church age since the ascension of Christ.  John makes clear, however, that those people Christ has redeemed with His blood are all part of the Kingdom of God 

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (Revelation 1:4-6)

And John’s vision also provides for us interpretations of what some of the symbols or images represent.  

He who overcomes, I will make him apillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.  (Revelation 3:120

     We understand, therefore, that the true spiritual Church is portrayed in Revelation not only as parts of a building, the Temple of God, but also as citizens of a city, the “New Jerusalem.”  Thus, our destiny is not to live in geographical Palestine but in a Heavenly city, a spiritual city not made with hands.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”


Next Time: The next article in this series will focus on John’s second vision and the breaking of the Seven Seals.

The Kingdom of God, Part III

Paul’s Kingdom Message to the Thessalonians

     Believing that they were defending Yahweh from heresies, many of the Jews in Thessalonica were incensed.  After hearing the preaching of Paul for three Sabbaths, many had believed the message and began following Paul’s message about the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  But the remaining Jews became extremely jealous and decided to attack Paul and his followers.  

     These Jews found some wicked men from the marketplace to help them implement their plans.  They engaged with these men and incited them to form a mob.  They surrounded the house of Jason, where Paul and his followers had been staying, seeking to bring them out to face the mob.

     When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of his friends before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

     Thus, they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.  As a result, the new believers gathered together and agreed that they needed to send Paul, Timothy, and Luke away for their safety.  However, everywhere Paul went he preached the Kingdom of God and declared that Jesus Christ is King of the Kingdom.



A Place Prepared for Us

     The Apostle Paul fully declared that the Kingdom of God arrived when Jesus fulfilled His mission on Earth and when He ascended to His throne at the right hand of God (Ephesians), not in Jerusalem. The moment came when Satan, the accuser of the brethren was “cast down” out of Heaven.
     Notice why Paul says the “eyes of the heart” may be enlightened: 
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
     These are all the result of Christ’s resurrection and coronation.  
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every  name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  (Ephesians 1:18-23)
     What are the ramifications of these facts about Christ’s coronation?  It means that we do not await a coming kingdom, one whose King still needs to defeat His enemies.  All things have been put under His feet, and since we are part of His body, we also reign over the forces of darkness, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
     This position of power does not exactly fit the scenarios portrayed by the many Bible teachers today who diminish the scope and power of God’s Kingdom reigned over by Christ Jesus.

Our Place in Heaven

     Where will we be when we enter our eternal destiny, therefore? Will it be on Earth for one thousand years, waiting for the final judgment?
     Jesus made clear that our place will be to be with Him in Heaven with God the Father.  In fact, Jesus claimed that He was going to prepare a place for us in Heaven to be with Him:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. (John 14:1-3)

     The Apostle John in this passage also answers the question we have asked.  The term “in my Father’s house” refers to God’s residence in Heaven.  Yes, God is omnipresent, and the Scriptures reveal this pervasive existence:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  (Psalms 139:7-8)

     However, John the Apostle writes in his Book of Revelation about the scene he saw in his vision, a vision of Heaven and Heaven’s throne:

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. (Revelation 4:2-4)

     Jesus also prayed that all of His followers would be with Him in glory, including the Gentiles:

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20-24)


Paul’s Vision

     We know that after being caught up to the third Heaven to see inexplicable things, the Apostle Paul describes in his Letter to the Corinthians the place where we will be when we die:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:1-3)
Paul continues to describe this place with Christ in the glory of Heaven, saying it will be our home as we await the final judgment day of the Lord:
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:6-10)

Our Destiny as the Bride of Christ

     Our place in Heaven is also revealed in the analogy, or “mystery,” that connects believers with Christ, just as a bride is linked to her bridegroom.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
According to the Old Testament, a bride who was found not to be a virgin was stoned to death:
But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.  (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
     However, despite the fact that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Christ the Bridegroom has assured that our purity, or “virginity,” has been restored as His bride:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:8-9)
     We as the Bride of Christ do not await the wrath of God.  Instead of being stoned, we await Christ’s coming again to receive us unto Himself, so we can partake of the Wedding supper and enjoy the consummation of our marriage with Christ. Like the ten virgins, or bridesmaids, who went out to meet the Bridegroom with their lamps of oil, we will rejoice at His coming.
     The final event begins when the Bridegroom goes to meet His bride and brings her back to the home he has prepared. The figure of the bride waiting with her companions to hear the voice of the groom when he arrives at her house to consummate the marriage is portrayed in Christ’s parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).
     Thus, the consummation of the Age is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when we, the Bride of Christ, wait to hear the shout of Jesus and his companions when He arrives. At this time, the faithful still on Earth will be found to be “pure virgins.”  
     The Apostle Paul refers to this moment in the following passage:
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (II Corinthians 11:2-3)
     The final stage in the Jewish weddings of Bible times was the wedding feast, and this celebration is depicted in the Book of Revelation:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God. (Revelation 19:7–9)
 Next Time:  The next and final article on this topic will examine the Book of Revelation’s teachings about the Second Coming, while discovering that this apocalyptic text was inspired and written for the Church of all ages, not just the End Times.

The Kingdom of God: Part I

Probably the most common belief about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is that He will come to set up His Kingdom on Earth and reign from Jerusalem on a physical throne.

For this doctrine to be true, the entirety of the Scriptures needs to point to this same conclusion, so let’s see what the Word of God says about the Kingdom of God and God’s plan for the final age to come.

The Mystery of  The Kingdom 

Jesus said that His followers must enter the Kingdom of God like a child: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15).

Thus, a child’s simple faith and ability to enter into realms of wide imaginatione are parallel to the believer’s faith, the “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), because the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom.  It doesn’t come with “observation,” and flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, just as the Apostle Paul wrote:

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (I Corinthians 15:50)

Thus, the idea that the coming Kingdom is a physical one is illogical given the makeup of the Kingdom Jesus and the apostles proclaimed in the New Testament age.


The Kingdom of God Has Come Upon You

A number of passages that describe Christ’s earthly ministry reveal that His purpose was to demonstrate and reveal the Kingdom in His person and through His mighty miracles.  For example, He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  Jesus also said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28)

This Kingdom, Jesus implied, will not begin in another two thousand years, but it actually began in the lifetime of those who were gathered there with Him in Jerusalem and the surrounding regions.  After His Transfiguration, for example, Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (see both Mark 1:9 and Luke 9:27).  

After His Transfiguration, for example, Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (see both Mark 1:9 and Luke 9:27).  

Such a statement must have raised great excitement among His followers, for they believed that the kingdom Jesus spoke about would be like the one King David ruled.  This is why, both before and after the Resurrection, they repeatedly asked Jesus,  “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:7). Even the Pharisees inquired of Jesus when He would restore the kingdom, although most likely they were trying to entrap Him (Luke 17:20).

After His resurrection, though, Jesus told his disciples, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  (Acts 1:6-8) 


Jesus Proclaimed the Kingdom of God

Jesus operated in His ministry as though the Kingdom of God was already present, showing through His works that the kingdom had arrived: 

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him.  (Luke 8:1)

And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Luke 9:2)  
But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11).
In fact, Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God was not coming with signs to be seen, but that the Kingdom was right in their midst, or in their presence:
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst”  (Luke 17:20-21).
Therefore, since the Kingdom “cometh not with observation” (KJV), the Church’s mandate was not to look for the beginnings of the Kingdom of God, but instead for the Kingdom to be populated, made up of people from every nation and language.

A Different Kingdom Than Was Expected

What the disciples of Jesus also did not realize was that the Kingdom would consist not only of the Jews, but also of gentile believers:

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:16).

Thus, after His resurrection and before His ascension to Heaven, Jesus gave His Great Commission, telling them to go into all the world and preach the good news:   
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 
We may now see clearly, therefore, what the disciples did not, at least at first:  The Kingdom of God would include people from every part of the world, from every nation and tribe, and would consist of believers and disciples from all times until the end of the age.  It has taken much time for this mandate to be fulfilled, and the time continues to this day.

Believers Are Also Told to Wait

On the other hand, the Scriptures seemed to signify that the Kingdom had not yet come, as in the following passage:
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. (Luke 19:11)
Thus, the disciples must have been confused; before the crucifixion, they were being led by their traditions and assumptions that because Jesus was travelling towards Jerusalem, He would soon assume the throne of an earthly kingdom, one they thought  would be similar to the Roman Empire and would take control over the Earth.  
Indeed, in the next few verses, Jesus even asked His disciples to appropriate a “colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat” (Luke 19:30) in order to ride into Jerusalem as the Messiah, as prophesied in Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  (Zechariah 9:9) 
Thus, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowds “took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13).
However, Jesus cleared up this confusion after His resurrection, when he continued to teach about the Kingdom of God: 
To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:25-27)
Jesus then gave the disciples their commission to go into the whole world, sharing the Gospel and bringing with them all who would enter the Kingdom of God.
This same Great Commission continued with the Apostle Paul’s ministry, a mission which led him to preach the good news to both the Jews and the Gentiles.  We will analyze Paul’s mission as it relates to the Kingdom of God in Part II of this series.

How Deception Works: Innate Feelings or a Choice We Make?

We live in the Scientific Age, and we all took science classes in high school and in college, if we got that far. Therefore, we all have pretty much decided that belief in the existence of angels or demons is not only misguided but also foolish.

However, we still seem fixated in our culture on the supernatural, particular in the popular media of films and television shows.  Science fiction is highly favored, for it raises the possibilities of the supernatural in scientific ways, and we have no difficulty imagining a time traveler or a super-hero.

Also, we continue to engage the imaginations of our children with tales of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, solemnly relating that they are indeed real, not merely fairy tales.

It is surprising, therefore, that any discussion regarding demonic spirits is usually abjectly ridiculed as being both nonsensical and uneducated.  It only takes a scientific name, usually in Latin, or some kind of logical construction to set ignorant people straight on any issue about the supernatural.

Even in the Church, the subject of demons is often ignored or moved over into the realm of psychology, a more reasonable and rational post-modern approach to spiritual problems.  Or the ultimate solution is an anti-depressant or an “intervention” to clear up people’s problems very quickly.

Living in the Scientific Age certainly has not rid our culture of the remnants of the ridiculous world of the supernatural, for Ouija boards, fortune cookies, astrology charts, seers who solve crimes, and various forms of mysticism still proliferate. Even in college and university campus student newspapers, astrology columns appear.


How Satan Continues to Deceive

What better Satanic strategy could the enemy devise, however, than to suggest either that he does not exist or that he is only imaginary and based in superstition.  The enemy either tries to hide completely or flaunt his existence so flagrantly that he is easily dismissed in mocking ridicule.  He is a liar, after all, the father of lies.

The reality is that he and his dominions do exist, and they do exert a powerful influence on our lives, in spite of the fact that they have been dismally defeated and deprived of their power over human lives through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  He still exerts his dying influence using the same deceitful ploys he used against Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, disguising himself and telling us lies about his very existence so he can continue his manipulations without discovery.

We Believers know that Satan and his minions exist because they are revealed in the Scriptures. However, in spite of the fact that we are taught to “resist the devil” so he will flee from us (James 4:7) or not to give the devil “an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27), we often live our lives as though these words in practice are untrue.


Let’s Call It What It Is

One problem is that we hear the voices of temptation so often over such a prolonged period of time, that we ultimately begin thinking and believing that the thoughts derive from our own brains, rather than the lies of the enemy.  Consequently, especially today, people end up thinking that the temptations they are experiencing are natural and normal, thoughts they themselves have personally devised; hence, they can pursue them without guilt, at least as long as they aren’t caught. Later, after the rationalizations begin, they need no excuses, for “I have a right to my own opinions.”

The trend today is to call sin by another name, whether it be a medical diagnosis phrased in Latin or using a popular term that is politically correct, “cool,” or trendy, just more ways for the enemy to mislead us.  I know of no better example than the claims that homosexuality is normal, not a choice people make in their lives.


Where’s The Logic?

Most people who make this claim would probably have faith in the ideas of evolutionists, yet even evolution itself argues against the claims that homosexuality is a normal, necessary part of the human condition. 

First of all, no gene has been discovered that links directly with the choices one makes or the sexual behaviors one chooses.  If there were such a gene, over the millions of years of supposed evolutionary modifications, the gene would have died out for it cannot possibly lead to increased survival of the human species. Even if such a gene existed and it did make human survival more possible, it could not be passed on since homosexual behaviors do not lead to pregnancies, and the gene would die out over time.

In addition, mortality rates are notably higher for homosexuals than for heterosexuals, particularly males, making a gene that leads to innate homosexuality even less likely because the “survival of the species” would be even less probable.   Many factors contribute to these mortality statistics, but the results are significant enough to lead to skepticism about the innateness of homosexuality in terms of human evolution.

Also, the claim that homosexuals have no choice but to feel inclinations towards those of the same sex contradicts the free ability we all have to make decisions about our behaviors.   The innateness of sexuality is based on the pleasure of sex itself, not the various expressions of that sexuality.  People make choices all the time about their sexual practices, engaging in sex with thousands of methods they devise in their own minds.  Are these choices innate?  If homosexuality is innate, why isn’t bestiality or pedophilia?  

I suppose their proclivities argue for normality, but only because all sins are essentially “normal,” for we all have fallen short of the glory of God.

To argue otherwise is to deny the evidence.  People constantly choose whom they will love and not love, and those choices are decided by the decisions made in their brains.  Yes, feelings matter, as do pheromones, but as humans we are constantly changing our feelings based on our behaviors and the decisions we make. Our behaviors change how we feel about many situations or conditions in life.  


My Own Experiences

When I was about three years old, I somehow decided that I was changing from a boy into a girl.  I’m not absolutely sure why I made this decision, but my memory tells me that I may have been envious of my older sister and her friends who always seemed to have so much more fun than I did, even when they allowed me to join with them in their activities.

If I had chosen to be homosexual, I can see why these beliefs might have led me to think back and conclude that I always had propensities towards homosexuality.

In elementary school, I definitely started liking girls, with whom I had to square dance, but I hung around mostly with boys, mainly to play sports.

In my teenage years, however, I was decidedly inclined towards girls, not boys, though I still thought they had what we called “cooties.”  Since sexual feelings arose unexpectedly and even randomly at times, they were often extremely embarrassing and hence best kept hidden.

When I was sixteen years old, however, a significant event occurred which affected me greatly, adding to the confusion of those years.  Having just obtained my driver’s license, I was sitting in the family car at the park in town waiting for my brother and sister to get out of the local movie theater so I could take them home.  A man who was probably in his late twenties walked by and nodded at me, and being the friendly guy I was, I nodded back.

Later, I was walking through the park, still waiting for the movie to end, when I again came upon the man sitting at a park table.  I decided to stop and sit, and we began conversing.  I don’t recall what we talked about, but at one point he looked at me and said, “Can I ask you something?”  He then proceeded quite graphically to ask if we could have sex together.

I was confused and speechless.  First of all, I had never thought of such a thing, nor was it something I particularly wanted.

Sensing my embarrassed reluctance, perhaps, he tried to convince me that such sex was not only fun but also normal, pointing out another man in the park who was also seeking a partner in a restroom. He said that it would not take much time and I would really enjoy it. He would take me to his apartment, he said, and he would have me back in just a short time, about an hour.

Again, I declined, and hastened away back to my car, telling him I needed to pick up my brother and sister.

Once home, I told my father what had happened, and he was so perturbed that he called the police department, though I gathered that there was little that could be done.  

My father and I talked more later about what had happened, and I eventually learned about many sexual behaviors that deviated from God’s original purposes.


God in Creation

Those who believe in God’s creation need only to realize that the essential definition of “perversion” is “to make alterations or changes from the intended purpose of the original design.”  

The Apostle Paul uses this foundation in his letter to the Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

In other words, even a person who is unenlightened about the ways of God may still understand the nature of God, along with the true functions of the parts of the body, among other parts of creation, for they are “clearly seen.”  They can be understood based on how they are made.  Nevertheless, Paul writes, people may freely choose lies over the truth:

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  (Romans 1:24-27)

The meanings of these verses could not be clearer, and those who have decided that the sexual practices described are not condemned in the Bible not only cannot read, but also have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. To insist otherwise with regard to human organs and sexuality is not only ludicrous, but also horrifically unclean.

When I was in seventh grade, my shop teacher told his students never to use a woodworking tool for any other purpose than for what it was originally designed.  A hammer’s purpose, obviously, is driving and pulling nails, and a screwdriver is used for inserting screws.  I learned eventually that this was a sound policy, for using a screwdriver as a chisel, or a chisel as a screwdriver, usually damaged the tool.  Essentially, however, a carpenter makes decisions about how the tools are used, and people are the same way.


The Rest of the Story

Inexplicably, from this first encounter in the park with a homosexual (the word “gay” was not used back in those days), I found I was the focus of many such advances, some more aggressive than others.  For instance, after I had been married for a short time, I went to the university to register for classes.  While there, I somehow caught the attention of another student, probably a graduate student, for he was older than I.

In the midst of a large crowd of students, he made some kind of suggestive remark about my clothing and said he wanted to talk to me.  It didn’t take him long to take me aside and broach his subject, one with which I was familiar.  I told him I was married, but that didn’t dissuade him.

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out and see,” he said.  “You might find that you like it.”

This young man’s approach was much more difficult for me to resist than other propositions, for I found that I had much more difficulty turning him down or even getting away from, despite the fact that my wife was at home waiting for me.  It was like I couldn’t make decisions because I felt so controlled, somehow.  It wasn’t until years later that I understood why.

When I finally was able to get away from him and go home, I erupted in tears of frustration and helplessness when I got to our apartment because I felt so manipulated, dominated, and enslaved to someone I didn’t even know.

From those early times, I couldn’t understand why some men seemed to think I was one of them, and there were plenty of times when I even wondered myself whether my childhood insistence that I was turning into a girl was actually true.  I was very happy being married, however, and we even had a child on the way.


Released from Bondage

It was not until I received prayer for deliverance some years later that the whole problem arose again in a different way and with a new perspective.  After prayer and commands to the demons to leave me, I was marvelously delivered of the demonic spirits of lust and homosexuality, and since that time I have not had the come-on’s or the propositions that I had endured for so many years.  I truly felt free and delivered from a bondage that I didn’t truly know I had, much less desired.  I’m sure that many gay activists might claim that being gay, or at least bi-sexual, is who I truly am.  It hasn’t been difficult for me to rebuke these lies, however, for I am a happy father of two children with six grandchildren.  And I have been married to my loving wife for 45 years since 1969.

Rather than living as a typical gay man who likely would have had his life shortened, I have never worried about getting AIDS or other  kinds of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.  Nor have I had as many as five hundred to one thousand sexual partners in my lifetime, for I have only had one.

Believing a falsehood or a lie does not make it true.  Instead, we need to resist Satan,  the “father of lies,”for as Jesus once said to those who persecuted Him,

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (John 8:44)

Blood Moons and Whirlwinds

Year of the Whirlwind

In a recent article in Charisma magazine for February 2015, Lisa Great, a minister, blogger, and former Malaysian pastor, wrote what she believes is a prophetic message about future events and the implications for Christians (  

Lisa Great writes in her article the following explanation:  

In the Hebrew calendar we are in the year 5775, which is the Year of the Whirlwind. Five is the number of grace and 7 is the number of completion, which means we have double completion of grace this year. 

Great’s message is based on the idea that the “Year of the Whirlwind” in the Hebrew calendar, as well as the appearance of four lunar eclipses during this same year, both signal significant events coming in the world. 

This year is going to be a whirlwind year, the Hebrew calendar says it is, the signs in the heaven [sic] are declaring it with the four blood moons, which mean change in a way that is unprecedented.

Great then adds further evidence of the significance of these signs in the heavens by referring to a “double tornado” that struck Nebraska in June of 2014, for when there is “double,” she writes, “it means it is going to happen.” Great’s evidence for this statement is Christ’s use of the “verily, verily” phrase in His messages:  

Jesus would say, truly, truly or in some versions, verily, verily I say unto you. I believe God is speaking through the prophets and the signs in the heavens, truly, truly this is the year of the whirlwind.

Astoundingly, Great then relates how she received further insights into this message:

When I was inquiring of the Lord about the year of the whirlwind, He reminded me of the movie The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy was in her house, when the whirlwind came and took her into a world she could not even have imagined or dreamed of. Her whole life changed forever.

Great concludes with what she believe God’s message to be overall:

I believe we are on the tail end of one age and on the precipice of another. This end is going to mean a season of discipline for some who did not repent (change the way they think), and a season of rewards for others who endured the flames of the last season and came out as vessels of honor.


Test the Spirits

The Apostle John speaks to all believers in the Church, writing the following:  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (I John 4:1).

Therefore, I believe we need to exercise discernment, testing the spirits, whenever we encounter such “prophetic” messages, whether personally delivered, read in Christian publications, or seen in television broadcasts or films.  

Personally, I believe that the spiritual gift of prophecy and the prophetic ministry gift are both still valid and viable in the Church today, for before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave the disciples the following teaching about the Holy Spirit:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Connecting this admonition to what ultimately occurred on the Day of Pentecost, we find that he outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the consequent gifts and ministries provided were to be needed and necessary, not just in Jerusalem and nearby countries, but also in “the remotest part of the earth.”  This statement more than covers both the geography and chronology of the Church today.  

In addition, the Apostle Paul wrote the following instructions, not just for the Church in Corinth, but also for “all the churches of the saints,” in his words: 

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14:29-33)

It is clear that Paul’s primary concern is about doing everything “decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:39-40) when the Church assembles, but the context of these teachings also gives us the parameters for the operation of the prophetic gifts and ministries in the church until Christ comes again.

What might we discern from Lisa Great’s message, therefore, a message which purports to be a prophetic message to the church?  

I have a number of concerns and cautions, including the following points.

While I understand that the Holy Spirit speaks in the languages we all understand when He is speaking to us prophetically, as opposed to the gift of prayer in an unknown language, to use a Hollywood Judy Garland film to emphasize His message’s meaning seems a bit like using a Star Wars character like C3PO or Darth Vader to reveal spiritual exhortations. 

Note the following admonition the Lord give the nation of Israel after coming out of Egypt and before entering the Promised Land:

When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11)

Two notable prohibitions in this passage are “divination” and the interpretation of “omens.” These include the following practices as described in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: 

  • “Divination” is “the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.” 
  • “Omen” is supposedly a “sign or warning of something that will happen in the future.”

These occultic practices may be discerned subtly in Lisa Great’s “prophecy,” for she uses the framework of the ancient Hebrew calendar and even numerology to proclaim these portents, or “omens.”


The Four Blood Moons 

Significantly, Lisa Great’s message mirrors somewhat the teachings of other more visible teachers, including John Hagee, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church.  

John Hagee has been at the forefront of  the “Four Blood Moons” teaching, and he currently has a book and a film on this topic titled Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.  In fact, Lisa Great even alludes to this teaching in her written prophecy, as follows:  

This year is going to be a whirlwind year, the Hebrew calendar says it is, the signs in the heaven are declaring it with the four blood moons, which mean change in a way that is unprecedented (I encourage you to study the four blood moons and what they are saying to the earth).

As evidence for his claims, Hagee uses the conjunction of the lunar eclipses with a Passover feast or Sukkot feast:  

“The sun and the moon and the Earth are controlled by God almighty,” Hagee said. “He is the one that is getting them in a direct alignment on a certain day at a certain time — but each time, it’s a Passover or Sukkot. . . .In the past, the rare appearance of four blood moons on these feast days has coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people. (Multiple Sources)

One problem with this approach is that the Jewish feast days were scheduled around a lunar calendar, particularly the full moon when eclipses occur, but another problem is that the significant events Hagee mentions, such as the 1967 Six-Day War, do not occur during an eclipse, much less four blood moons. (see


The Comet Ison

Then we have the prediction that the comet Ison is a sign of Christ’s coming, as Steve Fletcher, PPSIMMONS Ministry Contributor, relates in his online site.  


Fletcher relates that this comet will become visible to the naked eye on the first day of Hanukkah. Oh, wait!  Hold the presses or your tablets!  

This comet appeared in 2013.


The Shemitah and Isaiah 9:10 Teachings

This teaching is also similar to the “Shemitah” teachings of the Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn in his book titled The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future, a New York Times bestseller.  This book concerns the Shemitah, which he defines as follows:

“Shemitah (shemee-TA), or Sabbath year…the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the land of Israel. Understanding this seven-year pattern is essential for understanding the prophecy and mysteries of the Bible that are still applicable today. (

In addition, Cahn’s DVD titled The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment:  Is There an Ancient Mystery that Foretells America’s Future, links so-called prophetic end-times events to the verse in Isaiah.

In his writings, Cahn reveals what he calls “an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future and the collapse of the global economy.”

“Before its destruction as a nation, ancient Israel received nine harbingers, prophetic omens of warning,” he says. “The same nine harbingers are now manifesting in America with immediate ramifications for end-time prophecy.”

The key to decoding the harbingers, he says, is found in understanding the seemingly innocuous words of Isaiah 9:10, what it meant to Israel, and how the history seems to be repeating itself in America today.  Below, see the passage in context:

The Lord sends a message against Jacob,
And it falls on Israel.
And all the people know it,
That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”
11 Therefore the Lord raises against them adversaries from Rezin
And spurs their enemies on,
12 The Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west;
And they devour Israel with gaping jaws.
In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out.

13 Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them,
Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 9:8-13)

In this passage, Isaiah quotes Jewish leaders’ responses in verse 10 to an attack by Assyria, an attack Isaiah declares a judgment by God against apostasy intended to stir Israel to repentance.  Nevertheless, a link between ancient Israel and modern-day America seems unclear to say the least.


What Does Jesus Say?

Admittedly, such teachings as these by John Hagee, and Rabbi Cahn sell a lot of books at best and attract people who are being led by the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit at the worst.  These seekers are looking to things seen rather than things unseen, or walking in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. Notice what the Apostle Paul says,

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (II Corinthians 4:17-18)

In Paul’s teaching on walking in the flesh, Paul includes both idolatry and sorcery in his list of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20), and he exhorts believers, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (v. 25). 

Therefore, if walking in the Spirit is the will of God, it’s difficult to do so by being directed and moved by physical, earthly, physical events, signs, or omens, following the practices forbidden by God even under the Old Covenant.

To put this dilemma in a true context, however, we must also consider Jesus’ prophecy concerning the end times:

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  (Luke 21:25-27)

This prophecy seems to condone what Lisa Great, John Hagee, and Jonathan Cahn are proposing that we investigate and follow for our lives.  

We must consider, however, that Jesus does not deliver this prophecy to declare how true believers should govern their lives.  Yes, these signs will appear in the heavens and upon the earth, yet we still must not be led into occult practices, follow the practices of divination, or imitate those who interpret omens.


Bible Verses Warning About Astrology

  1.  And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)
  2. “If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host,which I have not commanded, and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death.   (Deuteronomy 17:3)
  3. “You are wearied with your many counsels;
    Let now the astrologers,
    Those who prophesy by the stars,
    Those who predict by the new moons,
    Stand up and save you from what will come upon you.
    “Behold, they have become like stubble,
    Fire burns them;
    They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame;
    There will be no coal to warm by
    Nor a fire to sit before! (Isaiah 47:13-14)
  4. Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord,“Do not learn the way of the nations,  And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens, although the nations are terrified by them.  (Jeremiah 10:1-2)


Spiritual Weapons, Part IX: The Arena of Prayer


Spiritual Warfare

The title of these articles is “Spiritual Weapons,” and they are all described in terms of  the weapons used by gladiators in an arena or by soldiers in a battle for a city.  However, it’s important to emphasize that these weapons are not “carnal weapons.” Instead, they  are used in prayer, not to fight God, but to engage with the enemy to win back the prisoners of war that Satan has captured or provisions of God that have been stolen from us.

Many Christians are unaware of the nature of this battle, some not even knowing whom they are fighting, much less how to overcome the forces of darkness through prayer.  

There are many different forms of prayer, as the Apostle Paul tells Timothy:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, or kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.  (I Timothy 2:1-3:  2)

Those prayers offered “on behalf of all men” are prayers of intercession, or “intercessory” prayer, and they are the ones most especially associated with spiritual warfare.  Note that even the Lord is described as a warrior fighting on behalf of salvation and righteousness in the following passage:

Now the Lord saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
16 And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.  (Isaiah 59:15-17)

Intercession and Intercessory Prayer

What does it mean to intercede?  An intercessor places himself between a condemned person, standing between that person and the punishment justice demands.  Or an intercessor attempts to reconcile or mediate the differences between two parties in a legal or personal dispute.

Thus, in the passage from Isaiah, when the Lord looked and found no one to intercede, He was not pleased.  He was astonished that there was no intercessor to bring justice to humankind.  As a result, He took up a breastplate and a helmet to exact justice, in zeal and vengeance He sought to defeat the foes of His will.

As stated a few verses following in Isaiah, not only did the Lord fight the battle Himself, but also He recruited an army of soldiers to fight with Him: 

“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.” (Isaiah 59:21)

Finally, in the penultimate act of intercession, the Lord Jesus came to earth as a man and died on a cross, the final sacrifice for sin, making intercession for us.  

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.  (Isaiah 53:12)

Jesus Christ took the sins of the entire world upon Himself, and He continues forever as a priest on high, a Mediator who is able to save all who come to God in repentance and faith: 

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  (Hebrews 7:23-25)

Christians Are Also Called As Intercessors

Has there ever been a time when you have not known how to pray?  Sometimes, we don’t even know whom to pray for, who needs our prayers of intercession.  We neither know who is under attack, nor the causes of their distress.  Thus, the following promise found in John’s letter is often neglected in churches today, or at best we hear the “Father, if it be your will…” prayer.

Note, however, what the Apostle John writes:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.  (I John 5:13-15)

The Apostle Paul also provides insights into the remedy for this predicament that God has given us through the Holy Spirit.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

From this passage we see clearly that the “groanings” Paul writes about have to do with prayers of intercession.  When we do not know how to pray or what to ask for, the Holy Spirit Himself provides the prayer, not in terms of words but in the language of the Spirit through us.  This is one reason why the Holy Spirit is so important in the lives of believers:  He is not only our Teacher, given to us by Christ Himself, but also our Intercessoer, praying for us when we don’t know how to pray.  

In an earlier verse in Romans, these groanings are compared to the pains of childbirth, the kind of struggle that brings forth new life. Not only the whole creation groans, Paul writes, but  also we groan within ourselves.  Such “groans” produce the fruit of redemption and hope, the ability to look forward to the future with joy and expectation, patiently waiting to see the will of God revealed and performed in our lives:

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:22-25)

Finally, we see in the next few verses in Romans that Jesus Christ Himself has continued to intercede for us after His resurrection and ascension to the throne of God.  Will not God the Father answer the perfect prayers of His Son who is presently interceding for us?    

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:31-32)

Few Mighty Works?

These promises seem too good to be true, especially when we are surrounded by disease, death, decay, and the sinful conditions in this world.  Why do we not see these promises fulfilled in our lives more fully?  Is it God’s fault?  Did He give us false promises, false hope?

Or are we ourselves together the reason why the Lord God is prevented from fulfilling His promises in our lives?  

I’m reminded of the story of what happened when Jesus came to His own hometown and began teaching in the synagogue. Although the people were astonished at His teaching, they began to question both His wisdom and His miraculous powers, having seen Him grow from childhood in their own midst:

And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them,“A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.  (Matthew 13:57-58)

Jesus Himself could do few miracles because of the unbelief of the people in His hometown.  Likewise, answers to our prayers of intercession, though given through us by the Holy Spirit Himself are even more unlikely  to be fulfilled today unless we begin believing in true faith with hope, the expectation that His promises will truly be fulfilled.



Imposed Meanings


Gabriel’s Message

An analysis of one verse in the book of Daniel  is sufficient to render inadequate many of the teachings that are based on this prophecy: 

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place” (Daniel 9:24).

The term “seventy weeks” refers to “seven periods of seven,” and nearly all Bible commentaries agree that this is a number that adds up to 490 years (7 x 70 = 490).  At the end of this period, Gabriel says, the “transgression” will be finished, an “end of sin” will be accomplished, iniquity will be atoned for, everlasting righteousness will be brought about, vision and prophecy will be finished (sealed up), and the most holy place (or One) will be anointed.

Clearly, if this prophecy has not been completely fulfilled by the coming of Christ and His final sacrifice, then these significant accomplishments will not have occurred, but must wait until the end of the 490 years.  Yet even Bible teachers who agree that these changes in the sin condition of humanity have been accomplished still believe that this verse waits for future fulfillment.

Fulfilled Prophecies

Through Christ’s earthly ministry, however, all of the promises spoken by Gabriel in Daniel 9:24 have been fulfilled:  

       To finish the transgression:

The Israelites were taken in bondage to Babylon because of their disobedience.  There they remained for 70 years, after which the Israelites, when they were truly repentant of their idolatry, were allowed to return to their homeland .  The books of Ezra and Nehemiah show how the Israelites returned to the God who had delivered them from their enemies.

       To Make an End of Sin and Make Atonement for Iniquity

Jesus Christ had the sins of the entire world laid on Him while He was on the cross, as the following three passages state: 

  1. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all  To fall on Him (Isaiah 53:4-7). 
  2. He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:20-21). 
  3. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (I Peter 2:24).

    To Bring in Everlasting Righteousness

The word “righteousness” means “right-standing with God.”  As it says in II Corinthians 5:21, through Christ Jesus we have been made to be the righteousness of God:  “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  

This condition is true for everyone who believes, not as a result of following the Law of Moses, but through faith in Christ’s complete atonement on the cross: But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:21-25).

To seal up vision and prophecy:

  1. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). 
  2. So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; 23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23). 
  3. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Ephesians 1:8-10).

To Anoint the Most Holy [One]

The word “place” is not present in the original language, so Bible translators and editors have added what they believe to be implied in the text.  I believe, however, that instead of “place” the word “One” should be used to connote Jesus Christ, the Anointed One.  He was anointed when He was crowned and was seated at the right hand of God, the Father, the event described by the Apostle Paul:  

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:18-21).


Nothing in the context of this prophecy by Gabriel in Daniel 9 may be taken to mean that there will be a 2,000 year gap, or more, between the 69th and 70th weeks of the time periods designated for total fulfillment.  The diagram at the beginning of this post shows this graphically.  By doing an online image search, you will find many such diagrams, although a majority have some kind of gap between the 69th and 70th “Weeks” of the prophecy.

The results of this gap, a serious misreading that came about because of a preconceived idea, rather than true exegesis, have led to numerous false teachings about the End of the Age and Christ’s Second Coming.

What does this mean?  It means that we eagerly await His coming, not a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem with renewed sacrifices.  Not a seven-year Great Tribulation period.  Not two second comings of Christ, but one glorious appearing when all shall see Him coming to take His Bride the Church.

WordPress Themes

%d bloggers like this: