My every breath, thought, attitude, choice, and action is by the grace of God. Yet, He gives me the freedom to align myself with Him as an expression of continuing and eternal gratitude or to rebel and do things my own sinful way. By the power of the Holy Spirit choosing God’s way is easy, but Satan constantly fans the rebellious flames of pride. The tension can only be resolved by spending time with God, God’s people, and habitually, deliberately choosing God’s way. “I am the way…” [John 14:6]
The Christmas season reminds us of some curious lyrics about love and light, in the most enduring Christmas carols. A closer look reveals that the curious lyrics are rooted in Scripture. Consider two examples:
- Silent Night, Holy Night-3rd verse
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing-3rd verse
“Light and life to all He brings…”
There is a linkage between love and light and something very special about the linkage. Light has fascinated mankind since Creation; artists and scientists have had a complementary interest in studying light. But the highest source of information is Scripture. A look at what Scripture reveals about love and light may save artists and scientists considerable time and effort. We can do that right now:
- “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5 NIV]—All electromagnetic energy that we perceive as light comes from the Sun. Since the light that illuminates the eyes was created by God, He is the physical light. God is also the spiritual light that illumines the soul.
- “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV] and “…love comes from God.” [1 John 4:7 KJV]—Love is spiritual energy that comes from God, illuminates the soul, and fuels all interpersonal relationships. All love comes from God, whether the one loving gives God credit or not. Our greatest responsibility is to pass it on.
The visible earthly expression of God’s love is in and through the Son (Jesus, Y’shua). He provided “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” [Luke 2:32 NIV] “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” [John 1:4 & 9 NIV]
After forgiving the adulteress, Jesus (Y’shua) confirmed “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life.” [John 8:12 NIV]
Albert Einstein was famous for thought experiments. As a young man, he imagined riding a beam of light. Of course, Jesus could not ride a beam of light; he is the light. Instead, he chose to arrive in a stable through the humble darkness of a virgin’s womb. He was laid in an animal’s feeding trough called a manger. For 33 years, the “King of the Jews” lived a humble life serving others, ultimately exiting this life in the humblest way possible, dying virtually naked on the excruciatingly painful Roman cross.
King Jesus (Y’shua) came as a humble servant to model the life God intended for us to live and to pay the penalty for Adam’s first sin and all the sins in your life and mine. One day, the King will return as the conquering Messiah.
Don’t be afraid of any form of darkness; God is the light! Don’t fear any form of threat; God is love!
As for me, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” [Psalm 27:1 NIV]
Won’t you join me?
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (1970)
At a time when a movement is determined to forcibly revise history, our spiritual heritage is especially vital. Secular history chronicles man’s successes and failures. Real history chronicles the waxing and waning of man’s relationship with God. Real history is, after all, His story.
The root of C.S. Lewis’s observation is that, no matter how revered current authors may be, they are all subject to the influences and biases of modern culture. Similarly, historical authors were subject to the biases of their cultures. Reading books across a broad time span allows cultural biases to be offset.
C.S. Lewis’ quote drove this writer to search older books, leading to a rocket launch devotional plan. Consider these original source materials (origination time in red).
- Ancient–Bible—Choose a reliable translation. Others have masterfully written comparisons of scripture versions. Generally, avoid paraphrases except for occasionally clarifying difficult passages in a translation. Commonly, believers read a chapter each day.
- Modern-Federer, William J. (2012). American Minute: Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO). Each daily reading spotlights famous figures and events from the earliest American colonies to the present day. The massive collection of original quotations repeatedly reinforces the principle that the United States form of government is not sustainable in the absence of a virtuous people. The Great American Experiment intends for the people to be self-governing. If the Christian faith and the government are separated, the government will fail. Conversely, the government will succeed only to the extent that people of Judeo-Christian faith are or become engaged.
- 1600s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2012). The Puritans Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The Puritan movement crossed denominational lines and was perhaps larger in Europe than in America. The daily readings feature a different author each month. Although some of the names may be unfamiliar to the modern reader, the readings are all spectacularly powerful. A few of the most familiar names include Richard Baxter, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Rutherford, and Thomas Watson. The vivid daily readings will excite any reader.
- 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2010) George Whitefield, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). George Whitefield was one of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening, which was the driving force for the War of Independence (later called the Revolutionary War). Without the Great Awakening, there likely would not have been an American revolution. Whitefield’s preaching, profiled in daily readings, is jaw-dropping.
- 1400s-â Kempis, Thomas. (2004). The Imitation of Christ, Hendrickson Christian Classics (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA). Originally written circa. 1421 A.D. Thomas â Kempis was one of the leaders of a reformation movement separate from and predating the Reformation launched when Martin Luther nailed his 99 theses to the Wittenburg church door. Luther’s Reformation exploded in part due to the contemporary invention of the printing press. Nevertheless, â Kempis’ Imitation of Christ remains one of the greatest Christian classics of all time. Each daily reading is dynamite.
- 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2005) Day by Day with Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody MA. Jonathan Edwards was the other of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening. Although, his best known message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” may conjure a mental image of hellfire and brimstone, his extremely extensive writings and these daily readings brim with God’s infinite beautiful love.
- 18-1900s–Spurgeon, Charles (1991) Morning & Evening: A devotional classic for daily encouragement, Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, Peabody MA. The “Prince of Preachers” wrote these daily morning and evening devotionals himself. His imagery is colorful, inescapably captivating, and inspiring beyond any ability to express in a brief summary.
- 1600s-Bennett, Arthur, ed. (2013). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, (Versa Press, Inc. East Peoria, IL) Although some believers may not be used to reading the prayers of others, this collection is so vibrant it will bring tears to the eyes of many readers. The prayers in this volume have been written by saints such as Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, David Brainerd, William Jay, and Charles Spurgeon.
Personally, as time passed, a pattern emerged to my devotional time:
- At first these devotional materials were simply read.
- A bit later, I found myself highlighting occasional thoughts; eventually highlighting virtually everything with color coded highlighters.
- Notes were occasionally jotted in the margins of the daily readings.
- Today, virtually every page is filled with handwritten notes; some seem to be special thoughts from the Lord; others are 1-3 sentence summaries of the reading.
- Finally, good writers seldom write in the first person (I, me, my, etc.). However, since the devotions are personal, intended primarily for my own use, the message skyrockets off the page when it is personalized. Example: “Christ, is a Mediator of the new covenant, a mediator between God and me. Jesus is a friend to both. He is a reconciler and a servant to both. He suffered for both. Jesus suffered for God’s justice and He suffered for my rejections.” And another example: “I MUST NOT handle God’s magnificent Word or the moments of my life carelessly. Instead, I MUST take great care to honor God’s Word and the moments of my life as special gifts from Him.”
Two other observations burn brightly from this collection of historic readings:
- All of these great spiritual leaders fully integrate the Old and New Testaments in their teaching/preaching. The Bible and the biblical worldview is a whole, from creation to the return of Jesus. Such a holistic view seems to be often diluted or piecemealed in present day materials and messages.
- The same early spiritual leaders lift up all three members of the Trinity equally and treat the wholeness of the Trinity equally with the roles of each member. Today, many denominations seem to focus on one member of the Trinity more than the other two. Similarly, in a zeal for analyzing Scripture, the wholeness of God too often seems to be overlooked as people zoom in on one member of the Trinity or another.
It is my hope and prayer that YOU will benefit from these suggestions.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
Christ’s death on the Cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love. ALL real love (agape; unconditional; others before self) comes from God. He allows and enables us to express His unconditional love to others only to the extent that we cast aside pride. Even that ability to cast aside pride comes from God.
In a monumental departure from millennia of Biblical tradition, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—largest Protestant denomination in the United States—recently published a politically correct, gender-neutral version of the Bible.
Then weep profusely.
Then pray diligently and fervently!
A few years ago, the publishers of the beloved New International Version of the Bible, published their latest edition as a gender-neutral edition. They and others with similar goals were rightfully and soundly criticized by SBC. In an about face, the SBC has done the very thing they so harshly criticized in the past.
The potential effect is devastating. The perpetrators (read translators) claimed they were working to “clarify the meaning” of Scripture. Any preacher can clarify the meaning of Scripture in a well prepared worship service message. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord for good preachers.
However, the translators are producing a work product that is presented to the public as the inspired inerrant Word of God. Because of the intended use of their work product, the translators are putting themselves in the position of judging God and His Word, effectively placing themselves above God—a fearful place to be. Lucifer only wanted to be “like” (equal to) God and it clearly did not work out well for him.
Nowhere in the universe is pride manifestly exhibited with more inescapable clarity than among people who call themselves “scholars” Nowhere is more dangerous than among so called Biblical scholars.
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” [Matthew 5:18 KJV] SBC has arrogantly done far more than just mess with a “jot or one tittle.” They have adulterated Scripture and flagrantly distorted the Biblical worldview.
In the entire history of the world, Jesus Christ was the first and only great equalizer. He declared men and women to be equal, but “equal” does not mean the same, identical, or indistinguishable. Jesus also declared that men and women have different roles and responsibilities.
Those extraordinary and breathtakingly beautiful and complementary differences between men and women:
- Are fundamental to the abundant life He promised [John 10:10] and
- The only way the earthly marriage and family can be the visible manifestation of the heavenly marriage between the Bridegroom (Jesus) and the bride (the Church).
Those roles must not be fogged or camouflaged—especially in Scripture—by language merely intended to reflect “tolerance” and “inclusivity.” Political correctness is the incredibly powerful tool used by the liberal/progressive/Humanist/socialist/Marxist/globalist crowd to achieve the satanic objectives of destroying the,
1) God-created family,
2) United States Constitution,
3) American form of government,
4) free-enterprise system, and the
5) freedoms given by God (not granted by government).
The people who purport to make men and women equal by making them the “same, identical, or indistinguishable” seek to aggressively destroy the beauty of God’s greatest creation.
Are YOU listening?
In a recent Barna Group survey of conservative ministers, 95% of the participants agreed that the resolution of 95% of today’s cultural controversies can be found in the Bible. But only 5% of the ministers said they would be willing to preach on those controversies.
From a lay viewpoint, there are many of us begging for strong—even in your face—Biblical messages from the pulpit. It is mindboggling that while SBC is adulterating Scripture, they are at the same time commissioning a study on why there has been a huge loss of membership in recent decades. Part of the reason is Pablum from the pulpit!
Strongly preached messages will attract new members; the messages will not chase them away. If a few leave, they were the tares among the wheat anyway. The Bible says “Fear not” 365 times; that include YOU preacher!
Is there a preacher reading this who has the honesty, integrity, courage, and the spiritual gonads to preach it like it is? Preaching the entirety of Scripture—the good, the bad, and the ugly, especially as it applies to the most controversial issues of our modern culture.
As this is being written, a Republican Congressman—the House Majority Whip—and several others have been shot at an early morning Congressional baseball practice and an 8-year old “drag queen” is being praised by the LBTQ…. Community.
Believers are the only ones in possession of the solutions to all the most raging modern controversies. As believers, we need spiritual leaders in the pulpit who are willing to lead, rather than merely manage Christian clubs. How about YOU!
What does it take to wake up the people?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?
Pursue a godly life with zeal!
Draw others to God with zeal!
Zeal for God exceeds that for anything else.
I am wasting God’s time and mine when I don’t live exclusively for Him and proclaim Him to others.
While The Ten Commandments in the first table (refer to Part 1 of this blog) exposes the differences between American and Asian entertainment, the second table reveals the effects of the glaring differences. Take a look! Once again, the flashing neon-like table needs no further amplification.
To the seasoned Western viewer, the tables may be intellectually satisfying and spiritually appealing, but may seem emotionally a bit wimpy, begging the question, “Exactly, what is the source of dramatic power in the Asian productions?” For there to be a struggle between good and evil, there has to be some form of evil.
In Asian TV dramas, the villain is not necessarily a murderous, unlawful villain; more often the “villain” is an unscrupulous emotional or spiritual villain resorting to various forms of skullduggery to break up love triangles. The most popular Asian TV dramas contain several overlapping love stories, because, “love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8 NASB] For the sources of dramatic power in Asian TV dramas, here is the list:
- The storylines are amazingly creative unlike anything American have been able to produce. American cultural decay has produced one-dimensional movie/TV characters with a keen intellect and a severely limited range of emotions. Asian TV still produces three-dimensional characters using the full range of God-given intellectual, emotional, and spiritual faculties.
- Characters are fascinating, played by outstanding actors with endearing personal characteristics
- Selected characters have a vibrant sense of humor, backed by a soundtrack that demonstrates musical humor
- Drama aroused by conflicts and misunderstandings regarding ordinary and major life obstacles (romance, competition, illness, injury, separation, death)
- Rich interpersonal relationships among the characters fully engage the viewer
- Dramatic satisfaction is rooted in compelling illustrations of applying Biblical principles, producing the best possible results
- In a love triangle, the leading man invariable ends up with the girl who routinely meets the needs of others.
- Many scenes varying from heart-warming or heart-wrenching to heart-breaking, but nearly always reflecting positive character goals
- Dialogue exhibits amazing wisdom in ordinary and challenging situations—characters seem to say precisely the right thing at exactly the right time. The expressions of rightness paint spectacularly beautiful word pictures
- Most characters, other than villains, are positive role models. Even the villains repent by the end of the series.
American movies/TV routinely and aggressively break all ten of the commandments and then celebrates the outcomes. Asian TV celebrates godly virtues and character building.
So why not follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “…whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure, whatsoever things are lovely…good report…think on these things.” Why not entertain ourselves with the good and the beautiful, rather than the sleazy, ugly, and evil. We cannot continue injecting ourselves with a dose of evil every time we turn on the TV or go to a movie.
If you have never seen any of the Asian dramas, you must try at least one. If you are curious, try “Autumn’s Concerto” (Taiwanese), “Descendants of the Sun” (South Korean), or “Tomorrow’s Cantabile” (South Korean). They are available on Netflix and other common outlets.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?