Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Is Only the Beginning

The Christmas season has come and gone.    Once again families are parting and returning to their own homes.  Houses that were temporarily disassembled in the hubbub are being put back into order.  Christmas trees are stripped bare and discarded and the ornaments and decorations that adorned them for a brief time are placed carefully back in storage until next year.  The magic that filled the minds of the participants begins to fade as each day passes and the year draws to a close.  

How swiftly time passes, especially amongst the excitement and anticipation of Christmas day and all of the revelry and joy it bears.  It is a time of year when we are called to remember the importance of its significance.  And as we pause and reflect upon the meaning behind this special day that has been set aside, we cannot but wish that the joy its message brings would remain forever fresh in our minds with nothing to dispel it.  But as it comes to a close, the world comes crashing back in and the realities of the harshness of life on this earth can often discourage or depress us.  All we have to do is turn on the television set or read the latest headlines.  The brief vacation we enjoyed is over and we must re-enter the lives we have created and the hardships that surround us, whether we like it or not.

Our hearts were opened during the Christmas season.  We shared.  We generously gave.  And we united to partake of the Holy Communion and fellowship with our God.  But it should not end there.  The willingness to worship Him and to delight in the Gift He so graciously bestowed upon all mankind should continue within us each day of the year.  We should return to the world with renewed resolve and a desire to serve Him even more.  The Spirit that enveloped us in a loving embrace as we pondered God’s glorious plan of salvation should not fade as a mist into the air.  And like the ornaments that are packed away in boxes until the next Christmas season, we should not store away the importance of Christ's message, but continue to give and to share the great Gift that was given us.

When Christ was born, it was only the beginning of the story of God’s vast plan of salvation.  The fullness of the Gospel does not end there.  The end of the story has been written and many more chapters are waiting to be read that are equally as exciting and worth waiting for.  And as we watch the events foretold unfold before us, let us wait with the same joyful anticipation and faithfulness we experience when celebrating our Lord’s birth.  There is much work to be done for Him.  Let us carry forward into the New Year the Spirit of joy Who dwells within us and continue His journey to the Cross.  And as we do, may we continue to faithfully serve Him and remain in prayer for the persecuted, the hungry and homeless, the sick, and the despairing souls in need of a Savior.

To Christ be all glory, honor and praise EVERY day of the year and forever!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Our Christmas Eve visitor looking for a handout!

May the Lord richly bless you and yours as we unite in spirit to celebrate His birth!

In Christ's Love,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Father Tim Jones: Re-writing the Eighth Commandment

"Thou shalt steal when the need arises."


You heard me right.  It is okay to steal if you are poor.  But only steal from the rich, the large corporate chains who pass the loss down to customers in higher prices, not from the small businesses run by families.  Their loss would be too great and inflict too much damage to their livelihood.   After all, stealing from the rich does no harm, right?  They can afford it.  And the result is that you get what you want and no one is the wiser.

Sound ludicrous?  It does, but that is what one so-called Anglican "Christian priest" who resides over the St. Lawrence Church in York, England is preaching from his pulpit.   In his nativity sermon of all things, he encouraged the "poor", those who are suffering through the current recession, to steal from large store chains.

"My advice as a Christian priest is to shoplift," he said, insisting that it was better than "prostitution, mugging, or burglary."

He also stated that he believes he is not violating God's eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal".  Rather, he is of the mindset that "God's love for the poor outweighs his love for property rights of the rich."

Jones' response to the condemnation he quickly received, not only from law enforcement but also from the Archdeacon of York, for his misguided advice was this:  "This is simply a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable with contempt."

At this moment, I could not feel more contempt.  And that contempt is for a supposed "man of God" who is encouraging his congregants to violate one of God's laws; contempt for a "priest" who is advocating sinning against God; and utter contempt for re-writing Scripture that clearly opposes what this man is preaching.

Is this what Christ's church has come to?  Do we continue to add to the multitude of offenses that are being committed against our God and preach a doctrine of thievery, along with the other abominations that are currently being embraced within the church?  And if we do, do we expect God to remain silent and not bring swift and utter destruction down upon us for our disobedience?

As Christ was telling the parable of the judge and widow in Luke 18, He concluded with, "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  If He was to return to Jones' parish at this moment, I doubt He would discover much in the way of true faith in the heart of this man who is a wolf in sheep's clothing teaching his congregants a false doctrine of theft and deception.  His irresponsible brand of preaching defies the truth.  It reeks of lies, even within this one sermon, and tells of him leading his charge down a destructive path.  I can only hope that the pews will be empty this coming Sunday.

God made His case about stealing quite effectively as He gave the Law to Moses.  In Leviticus 6:1-7, we see that stealing involves much more than just merely taking from someone else something that does not belong to you.  The remedy far outweighed the crime for the Lord commanded that restitution with interest be made, and be made quickly.  Only then would the offender be forgiven.

Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 discovered what happens to those who steal from the Lord, then lie about it.  "You have not lied to men but to God."  The property that was sold did indeed belong to them prior to its sale.  But it was their sin in "test[ing] the Spirit of the Lord" by not giving all the promised proceeds to Him - their greed and covetousness, their lies, their theft - that condemned them.

Jones relates a time when he encountered an ex-prisoner who was made to live on a paltry 100 British pounds for six weeks upon his release.   He uses this man's situation as a demonstration to defend his position that theft is acceptable when you are hungry or homeless.  Perhaps Jones, instead of insisting it is okay to steal from those who have, should have reached into his own pocket, encouraged his congregation to reach into theirs, and assisted the man in the way God has called us to serve Him.  The offer of a job, regardless of how menial and trivial, would have far-better served this man and those like him then preaching a doctrine of theft and disobedience to God's laws.  Or perhaps the Lord had this man right where He wanted Him in order to turn Him to salvation - but a man like Jones got in His way.

It is my contention that Tim Jones is the violator worthy of contempt.  He is the enemy within the camp who is bent upon the destruction of God's Word, and who leads his congregation with untruths and deception.  He mocks God and His laws that are intended to convict us of our sins - including the sin of stealing.  It is not a trivial matter that should be overlooked when a man proclaiming himself to be a servant of God encourages others to disobey the very God he claims to serve.  He should be removed from his position - immediately - before he inflicts more damage upon the hearts of those whom he leads.  


Sunday, December 20, 2009

I am really disappointed that I had to remove the daily Bible verse widget from the blog.  For some reason, its format and translation changed and I didn't like it!  For those of you who enjoyed reading them when you stopped by, I am currently looking for another that doesn't have pop-up ads.  They are so annoying and they draw away from the message that is being given.

Bear with me for a while until I can find a suitable widget to replace it.  I hope it doesn't take long!

In Christ,


Friday, December 18, 2009

O Holy Night

David Phelps is perhaps one of the most talented and blessed singing artists I have come to love and appreciate in a great while.  There are many versions of this song that I love, one that is sung by Selah, but I hope you also delight in listening to Phelps version, its clarity, and the beautiful message the song portrays.  Besides, having played piano all of my life, the piano accompaniment to the song stirs a longing to be back at the keys.  The late Anthony Burger was born to play the piano and he demonstrates it here as he tears up the keys!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Called Christmas For a Reason

This year within the rotunda of the Capitol building of Illinois stand four monuments that were erected for the Christmas celebration.  Surrounding the Christmas tree are a crèche, or manger scene, a Jewish menorah, a statement from atheists expressing all religion is a myth, and one from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that proclaims what they see as their judicial responsibilities to protect Americans, including citing First Amendment rights.  However, I doubt they are, or will be any time soon, defending Christianity and the right to worship our God.  Rather, they have chosen not to challenge the upheld 1989 decision by Chief Judge James B. Parson of the Federal District Court in Chicago.  His decision stated that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against religious expression because it falls under the First Amendment right to free speech.  I think the ACLU sees it as a battle they cannot win - at least at this moment in time.

Last year, Washington State had their own battle when their governor, Christine Gregoire, welcomed with open arms the local atheist organization's doctrine of no faith to be displayed next to the crèche, Christmas tree and menorah.  Although she stood her ground and made a weak attempt to defend it, it outraged many of Washington’s citizens.  To make matters worse for her, Bill O’Reilly publicly aired on his FoxNews show her indiscretion to millions of viewers who then flooded the Capitol building with so many calls they stopped answering the phone.

The right to freedom of speech and expression of religion is a privilege afforded to all Americans, regardless of their political or religious affiliation.  The politicians who have to make these choices are under the strictures of our constitution and First Amendment rights.  They must always adhere to the legal rights of all citizens.  We may not like what is being said, but we must all respect others right to say it.  But the problem is bigger than that of allowing others of different beliefs to speak freely.  When it becomes an issue of treading heavily upon the rights of those who oppose your way of thinking and your beliefs, and an attempt is made to silence you and remove all aspects you hold dear, I believe that is the time to strongly object and speak out.

Although Christmas has been made a secular “holiday”, Christians view it in a completely different way.  It is the day chosen to be set aside each year to celebrate the birth of all mankind’s Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Christians view it as a day to be revered and honored because it is the day on which God Almighty chose to come to us as a man and redeem the lost.  But because there are those whose agenda it is to diminish and destroy Christmas and to deny its vital importance to those who believe in its significance, the results are disturbing in the least and destructive at best.  Rather than Christmas being a time of rejoicing and worshiping God, it has become a battlefront and the chaos that ensues draws attention away from its true meaning.

Our God is not to be mocked.  He is a jealous God and an all-consuming fire for those who would minimize and ridicule Him (Deut 4:24).  Man’s attempt to appease everyone has done nothing more than fuel the fire of God’s wrath.  Instead of standing up for Him, our politicians and judges have decided to allow the secular crowd to overrule Him by displaying their idols and their forms of religion next to Him.  When I hear politicians try to justify their actions by proclaiming their “religious” affiliation, I am nauseated.  Keeping their cushy jobs and the power, wealth and prosperity they afford has become more important than fearlessly defending Him as the One and True God.  They will one day discover they have run out of excuses and defense, and their shame will be their condemnation.

God Almighty’s voice cries out loudly through the ages that He is the Sovereign Lord:

“To whom will you compare Me or count Me equal?  To whom will you liken Me that we may be compared?…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.” (Is 46:5, 9)

“For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this.  How can I let Myself be defamed?  I will not yield My glory to another.” (Is 48:11)
 A crèche, menorahs, Christmas trees and all other objects that symbolize the holiday are nothing more than that - mere objects.  We would get along just fine without them adorning our homes, yards, or Capitol buildings.  Christmas resides in the hearts of all Christians who love their Lord, their King, their Savior Jesus Christ, and if they were permanently removed as a part of our celebration, little harm would be done.  But by allowing unbelievers to seize Christmas and make it into something it is not by calling it a lie, we are allowing them to “defame” Him.  By allowing the placing of their secular, pagan, or atheistic symbols alongside Him is asking Him to “yield” to them and perpetuating genuine lies that do nothing to serve Him.

There is a reason it is called CHRISTmas.  It is not about freedom of speech.  It is not about the rights of others to express their own belief system.  It is not Kwanzaa, “festivus”, or any other ill-contrived notion or holiday.  It is about the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of His journey to the cross where He would make atonement for all mankind.  At the expense of suffering derision and scorn, let us all make sure we loudly proclaim the message of truth and salvation behind it and refuse to allow it to be denigrated to a mere holiday.  Let us put Christ back in Christmas.

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Although Christmas is still ten days away, I felt it was fitting to start praising Jesus early and often while we await the day we celebrate as the day of our Lord's birth!  I hope you enjoy the music and videos!
Hallelujah!  Our God reigns!  To Christ be all the glory!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Missing Zeros

For some time now I have been forwarding, via email, China Aid updates on Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese Christian attorney who represents the rights of Chinese Christians against an oppressive and often violent regime.  For those of you who are unaware of Gao's plight, he has once again been arrested, persecuted, and his whereabouts and well-being are unknown (for information, please visit  Yet, within the context of the message I received this morning in my inbox is something that causes me deep concern.

China Aid is a very large organization, one that has proven itself to be effective in putting pressure on governments that persecute and oppress their Christian citizens.  I am confident that their letters, emails and updates reach into the homes of millions of Americans.  Although the response to their petition to free Gao was apparently successful, they note that only 5284 Christians have responded to their plea to contact their Representatives and ask them to become involved in helping free him.  At first, I thought it was a typo, that a zero or two had been omitted.  How could a mere 5284 Christian hearts be moved when a brother in Christ is suspected of being physically brutalized and persecuted for his belief and his whereabouts unknown?  Demographically, that is only one congregation of a large church, and 1/6th of what is considered a "mega-church" in America.  To me, the number was staggering and disturbing because it also speaks of what resides, or fails to reside, in the hearts of those who claim to know Jesus Christ.

I often read accounts of Christians in dark nations who tell organizations like China Aid or VOM they are praying for us.  Astounding, isn't it?  They are praying for Americans in spite of suffering the loss of their possessions, homes, jobs, and often being forced to flee and hide from those who would kill them.  Yet, they are praying for us.  That should strike the hearts of every Christian in America where we are still afforded the right to worship our God in the way we desire and not fear reprisal and severe persecution.  I also have read of Chinese, North Korean, and other Asian Christians whose desire it is to come to America and evangelize here.  One may ask why they think it is necessary that they do so, but perhaps it is not so far-fetched that Americans are in need of it, especially when the apathy and complacency of many is glaringly evident in their failure or refusal to become involved in standing alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in the dark corners of this earth.

Zero is a non-number.  It means nothing unless other numbers are added to it.  The more zeros, the greater the number; but they first must have the number "1" placed before  or after them to give them value.  When the Pharisee's power and authority was challenged by Jesus and they demanded He silence the praise of His disciples in Jerusalem, He told them, "I tell you...if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40 NIV)  There may be silence in the missing zeros, but the faithful "stones", those who have added their "1" before them, will have their voices heard.   

" 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.  'Now get up and stand on your feet.  I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of Me and what I will show you.  I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'(Acts 26:15-18) 

Gao Zhisheng and faithful Christians everywhere have answered God's call to present His Gospel to others, "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light".  Whatever the cost to us, we should stand with them in prayer and act when the occasion to do so arises.  I pray you will take two minutes of your time and add your name to the 5284 Christians who have contacted their Representatives on behalf of Gao.  Perhaps, then, the zeros I thought were missing will become a reality - for God's honor and glory.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Did You Mean It?

How many times have you made a promise to someone and not kept it?  It is an easy question, one that should gender an immediate response from all of us.  Whether the promise was made in confidence, or simply a task another has asked us to perform, no one is innocent of having made one and then not broken it.   We all too often make rash vows to each other without thinking about our ability to keep them.  Because we are human and for various reasons allow ourselves to be overcome by temptation, idleness, or a wagging tongue, the oaths we make to others become empty and meaningless.  We would have been better served by not making them in the first place rather than committing ourselves and then letting down the person to whom the promise was made.

Perhaps the most often used and broken vow is the one man makes to God.  “I’ll come someday, Lord.  I have plenty of time.  But first, I want to taste of the world and experience what it has to offer.  After I’ve done all of that, I promise, then, I’ll come.”

No, you won’t.  And God knows you will be unable to keep that promise because the deeper you delve into the world and the farther you stray from Him, the harder it will be to return to Him and fulfill it.  Man carelessly tosses tidbits of promises now and then to God; appeasing his own conscience by making them and thinking He will be satisfied.  But God knows the depth of the hearts of men and how shallow and empty they can be.

Bargaining with God can bring about circumstances that are hard to accept.  Hannah knew this when she promised to dedicate Samuel to the Temple and the Lord’s service (1Sam 1-2).  Our prayers, especially during times of trial and distress, are sometimes full of bargaining chips.  “I will do this or that, Lord, if You will only do this or that for me.”  God answered Hannah’s prayers because He knew her heart was sincere and that she would keep the oath she made, regardless of the pain it caused.  We should use extreme caution when we attempt to barter with God because He may just take us up on it.  We should ask ourselves, before we make the promise, if we really mean it and will be true to Him and follow up on the vow we have made.  God keeps His promises and if we make one to Him, He expects us to keep ours.

Before the question, “Did you mean it?” is forced upon you, pause a moment and consider what Jesus taught about making vows (Matt 5:33-37).  Because we live in a sinful and distrustful society, a man’s word is no longer looked upon as a bond of truth and a surety of promise.  It is no longer enough to have a man’s word that he will perform satisfactorily.  Instead, our litigious society has removed the handshake of good faith and replaced it with a burdensome legal system.  But Jesus Christ emphasized in this passage the importance of staying true to your word.  He condemned casual and careless oaths, especially in God’s name, and instructed His followers to let their “ ’yes’ be ’yes, and [their] ’no’, ’no’.”  If you give your word as a pledge but have no intention of keeping it, you break trust, not only with the one the promise was made, but also with your God Whom you have offended.  Keeping an oath is not easily accomplished.  So it is best, according to Jesus who sets the standards, not to make one.

If we remain truthful in all our dealings, if our reputation for being honest in everything we say is recognized as commendable and trustworthy, there will never be a need to back it up with a promise or an oath.  And if you find yourself in the position of making a promise to accept and serve God, be prepared to keep it, or the question, “Did you mean it?”, may come to bear heavily upon you.

Additional reading:

Leviticus 5:4
Numbers 30:1-2

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Hebrew Lesson

I have had a desire to learn Hebrew for many years now.  However, I can honestly say that it is probably not going to happen!  I have searched the internet for lesson plans, such as the one offered by The Rosetta Stone, and they are usually too far out of my budget.  Besides, learning a new language at my age, I have been told, is not easy.  But every now and then I run across a word or a phrase in Hebrew and it moves me and renews my desire to be able to speak and understand the language God's chosen people used to communicate with Him.

Since I am too old and too poor to learn the language (there is a smile in that phrase!), I thought it would be fun to share the Hebrew words and phrases I have run across by posting them here on the blog.  Now, if I could just retain them (and learn their syntax, accents, and pronunciations!), I would be on my way to learning Hebrew! (another smile!)

If you have any Hebrew phrases or words you would like to share, I would be most grateful if you would just drop them in the comment box for me and others to enjoy!

a-ha-vah (Love),


Lesson 1:

"Kadosh, Adonai Elohim tz'va'ot, asher hayah, v'hoveh v'yavo"

"Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come" (Rev 4:8)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is America a Christian Nation? - David Barton - In Touch Ministries - Dr. Charles Stanley 2009

I received this video in an email from Pastor Paul and thought it was vital that everyone who visits us takes the time to watch it.  David Barton teaches a brief, but valuable, history lesson on just how far America has fallen since her birth.  I guarantee you that you will hear words from our founding fathers that have never been heard before and are systematically being removed from our history books through revisionism.  When you do hear them, you will never again believe that America is not a Christian nation established and blessed by God.

Pastor Paul has joined Mr. Barton in a call to prayer for our nation and for restoring our God and Savior to His rightful place over it.  Please set aside an hour of your day and watch this important message, then ask the Lord to return His blessings upon America.

(As a post script, this would be a fantastic history lesson tool for all home schoolers!)

Is America a Christian Nation? - David Barton - In Touch Ministries - Dr. Charles Stanley 2009

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Most Excellent Way

The holidays have a way of throwing off my timing when it comes to routine.  A four-day holiday turned into five days when I found myself unwilling to tackle the chores Monday usually brings.  Unseen circumstances have caused my Tuesday to become my Monday this week.

This particular Thanksgiving brought sorrow to our family at the passing of my husband’s mother, Barbara.  Perhaps this unexpected event contributed to my lethargy because when the death of someone comes, it usually causes us to over-tax our minds by recalling memories of their life and hoping their relationship with the Lord was one that secured them eternal peace.  Because my mother-in-law and I were not close, it also caused me to examine myself and question whether or not I had done all God required of me while she still lived.  Years ago I cleared my conscience, forgave, and moved on.  But with her death, the unanswered questions and unspoken words were once again dredged up - words that could have healed a multitude of wounds - and the opportunity to address them is forever gone.

If Barbara’s passing has brought any enlightenment to me, it is that human relationships are a tricky and often troublesome part of our lives.  The only formula provided in dealing with them is designed by God.  We are the ones who look for other ways in responding to those who interfere, cause problems, or bring pain.  The human response is the desire to give tit for tat.  But that is not God’s way.  He expects much more from His children.  We are to love them.

As the Apostle Paul expressed in 1Corinthians 13, love is the greatest healer of wounds, even if the other party refuses to embrace it.  Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (v5), even if the wrongs committed cut to the very marrow of our soul.  Love is the comforter that helps us set aside our past and soothes the burning pain of wrongs committed against us and those we love.  Love drives back the whisperings of hatred and retaliation.  It is the “greatest” spiritual gift God can give us in times like these, and one we should pass on to others because only then can healing begin.

Each day in my walk with Christ, I am learning more of that valuable lesson of loving my enemies (Matt 5:43-48).  Indeed it has been and will be an on-going struggle each time I am faced with a situation that requires it.  And as we approach Barbara’s funeral tomorrow and a brief meeting with my husband’s estranged sister, my encouragement to my husband is for him to allow Christ’s love and light to shine upon her.  That is the way our God would have it.  It is a certainty that displaying his love for his sister in “the most excellent way” (v1) is one that is guaranteed to bring far-better and far-lasting results and a more satisfying conclusion to Barbara’s life.

Help us, O LORD, to display Your love for us and for the others who are grieving the passing of their mother and friend.  We pray that relationships will be healed and that pain and resentment will be driven from all of our hearts and replaced by Your abounding love. We also pray Barbara is at peace and in eternal rest with You and that one day we will all be reunited in glory and fully understand the love You have shown us.

In Christ be all glory, honor and praise.