Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Code Breaker

"As he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand." Luke 8:9-10 RSV

Is the kingdom of God an exclusive club as the quote above suggests? In some ways, yes. We are all God's creatures by definition; he created us all. However, not all of God's creatures will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Lucifer, for instance, was created by God with the same 'free will' given to us. Lucifer used his free will to declare war on God and his family, and herein lies the secret why some will understand and others will never understand. We are at war.

Another dimension exists that we seldom perceive. In this dimension, God's angels minister to the world and individuals. In this dimension his principalities protect and defend. It is also in this dimension that battles are planned and fought. This dimension has the capacity to perceive our world, but our world seldom perceives them.

As in any natural war, there are spies. Those who would keep the 'marching orders' from the troops so as to confuse the troops creating chaos in the ranks. Therefore, these secrets may be encrypted in code, or parables, so that only those dressed in God's full armor can understand the next plan of attack. The key to this is stated in Luke 8:11" Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved."RSV

So, how do we hear the encrypted word? We need the Code Breaker and it's name is The Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Choose Life

Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? God told Abraham that he would destroy these twin cities because of their debauchery. Abraham, knowing that his nephew Lot lived in Sodom, prays that God will spare the city if God can find ten righteous men living there. God agrees and sends two of his angels to search for ten righteous men in Sodom. Sadly, there was only one righteous man in Sodom, Abraham's nephew, Lot.

So God brought Lot and his family out of Sodom, and the twin cities were destroyed by fire and brimstone. God removed his divine protection from Sodom and Gommorrah; immediately the cities were destroyed. Only three people survived that holocaust, Lot and his two daughters. As they huddled in a cave above the burning cities, they believed they were the only people left on earth. In arrogance, they believed that because Sodom had been destroyed, then the whole world ceased to exist.

Americans feel that same kind of arrogance. We believe that we are the 'center of the earth' and that everything revolves around us. Since this country's inception, we have been protected by the favor of God, but that favor has become to us a right instead of a privilege.

While Katrina and Rita rage in the South, lawyers are fighting in the North against teaching intelligent design in Dover schools. While Osama is plotting his next act of terrorism in Pakistan, our courts in the West are writing decisions to eliminate the words "under God" from our pledge. While 'gun runners' from South America are crossing our borders with WMD's our courts in the North are allowing same sex marriage.

Read the prophecies in the Bible - is America mentioned at all? America is not mentioned once in the prophecies. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God and the prophecies are a true and accurate account of the End Times - then where is the America?

Turn away from the things of the world and pray. Pray for our country. Pray for our leaders - regardless of whether you believe in them - pray for them. Pray that God will enter Osama bin Laden and turn his heart from hatred to love. Pray for our courts and pray for our children. There is so little time to pray.

"Whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little." Nay, but by men of strange lips and with an alien tongue the LORD will speak to this people, to whom he has said, "This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose"; yet they would not hear. Therefore the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little; that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Isaiah 28: 9-13 RSV

" As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. " Isaiah 28:19 RSV

" I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, " Deuteronomy 30:19 RSV

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Parable of Unforgiveness

I am sure you remember the parable about the Lion and the Mouse where the Mouse bravely removes a splinter from the Lion's paw. If I may, I would like to take some literary license to create my own parable. I call it the Parable of Unforgiveness. This parable comes from years of personal experience from both perspectives.

On a cool autumn day, the Mouse and the Lion walked through the forest together. The Lion had agreed to help the Mouse gather food for the coming winter. He knew that gathering seeds for the winter food storage was always a daunting task for his little friend, so he offered his help with this year's harvest.

As they walked, they came to fork in the pathway. The left fork was known well by both the Lion and the Mouse, but the darker right fork had never been traveled by them. "Let us try the right fork." said the Mouse.

The Lion shook his head. "I don't think we should be going down a path we do not know."

"Come on! It will be fine." chirped the little Mouse. So, after some convincing, they started down the unknown path. To the delight of the Mouse, they found many seeds and nuts that had fallen from the tree canopy above. "See, I told you this would be a good idea." But, the Lion still felt uneasy about this path.

When they had gathered all that they could hold, they turned around and made their way back home. The Mouse skittered happily up the path to his little house; his winter harvesting was going well he thought, and he was grateful for the help offered by his friend. But, when he turned to thank his friend, the Lion grumbled something incomprehensible and turned towards his own den. The Mouse shrugged it off thinking perhaps that the Lion was just tired.

A week went by and the Mouse continued to fill his storehouses with seeds for the winter. Finally, he was satisfied that he had stored enough food to carry him through the dark days to come. He had finished just in time, for tomorrow was the Great Celebration when all the creatures of the forest came together to celebrate one last time before the first cold winds of winter. As the Mouse climbed into his little bed with the peace of someone who had accomplished his goal, he suddenly thought of his friend the Lion. "It's funny that I have not heard from the Lion all week. Well, I will see him tomorrow at the Great Celebration.", and with that, he fell asleep.

The next day, the little Mouse joined the merriment of the Great Celebration. Everyone was there and each neighbor had brought some of their harvest to share. The birds provided the music, the rabbits had already started the games and the squirrels danced from tree to tree. The Mouse moved easily through the crowd greeting his friends, but soon he realized that his best friend, the Lion, was not at the celebration. "Have you seen the Lion?" he asked the rabbits. They stopped their games each looking at the other in unease. "What's the matter? Where is my friend the Lion?", asked the Mouse.

Jake moved forward and with an air of reserve replied, "Lion is not feeling well and will not be attending the Great Celebration."

"What do you mean? Is he is sick?"

"You should know." replied Jake.

"But I don't know. What is wrong with him?" Without a response, Jake and the other rabbits turned their backs on the Mouse and went back to their games.

Deeply concerned, the Mouse ran to the Lions den. As the Mouse approached, he could see the Lion sitting outside his den with his paws before him. As the Mouse got closer, he was startled by the Lion's left paw. The fur was sparse and the whole paw was swollen with angry red swelling around each toe. "My goodness!" exclaimed the Mouse. "What has happened to you?"

"You should know."

"No." replied the confused Mouse. "I don't. What is wrong with your paw?" The Lion responded with a look of disdain. "Really, what has happened?"

"It was you. This is your fault. I told you we should not go down that dark path. I stepped on a thorn and it has lodged in my paw. This swollen paw is because of you!"

The Mouse pondered the Lion's paw quietly. Then with a small voice, "No, Lion. This was not my fault. You are my friend and I would never wish you to be in pain. If my decision to follow the dark path caused a thorn in your paw, you should have told me immediately for I would have gladly removed the thorn right there. It was your decision to leave me that day without a word about the thorn. Now, your paw is swollen with infection, and healing an infection is beyond my abilities. I accept responsibility for the thorn and I ask you to forgive me, but this infection is a result of your decision to keep the thorn to yourself."

Emotion coursed the Lion's face; first anger, then sorrow and fear. "Well, what can I do now? Is there no one who can heal my paw?"

"Yes, Lion. Although I cannot heal this infection, there is someone who can. He is a great physician and he can heal anyone who will believe in him. Come, I will take you to him. You will see that he will heal you."

"What is his name?"

The Mouse smiled broadly, "his name is Jesus."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Be Careful What You Ask For

About twenty years ago, I suffered a collapsed lung. It was a frigid January morning, the alarm clock buzzed and as I jumped out of bed, a great weight hit the right side of my chest. I could not breathe. An hour later, I was in the hospital with a chest tube in my side and morphine coursing through my body. A week later, I went home from the hospital wondering why this had happened to me. Yes, I was a smoker, but I found out later that smoking had little to do with collapsed lungs - I had blebs, or air bubbles in my lungs; the result of a disease I still cannot pronounce. It wasn't until years latter that I knew exactly why God had allowed this to happen.

Before my collapsed lung, two of my sisters had been praying that God would help them stop smoking. My collapsed lung was the only catalyst one of those sisters needed. She quit smoking soon after my hospital stay, and has been smoke free ever since. The other sister did not stop, but continued to pray for God's help.

The message had been sent by God to both my sisters; but only one recognized the message as answered prayer. My other sister never saw the answer. She did eventually stop smoking years later, but only after she had suffered her own collapsed lung.

When we ask God for something he always answers, but we do not always perceive those answers. We continue to pray, so God answers again with more force. If we still do not perceive the answer, he tries again and again, increasing the impact. Then, just like the sister who suffered the collapsed lung before she could see, we become angry with God for the way he answered our prayer. We never realize that it was our lack of faith, our lack of spiritual perception, that prompted God to answer with increasing force.

13 "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: 'You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. " Matthew 13:13-16 RSV

Thursday, September 15, 2005

From My Prayer Journal

My Father -

You told me that I am your delight - but you, Father are my light. All my hope is wrapped up in you.

I hope to live without financial worry. I hope to live with the time to finish all that you have set before me. I hope to live in safety and health. I hope to live encompassed by your love, and I hope to share all of it with those who do not yet know you. In Jesus' name - Jerusalem.

My Jerusalem -

1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Ba'als, and burning incense to idols. 3 Yet it was I who taught E'phraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4 I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one, who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. 5 They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. 6 The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them in their fortresses. 7 My people are bent on turning away from me; so they are appointed to the yoke, and none shall remove it.
8 How can I give you up, O E'phraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboi'im! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. 9 I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy E'phraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy. 10 They shall go after the LORD, he will roar like a lion; yea, he will roar, and his sons shall come trembling from the west; 11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD. 12 E'phraim has encompassed me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah is still known by God, and is faithful to the Holy One." Hosea 11 RSV

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Seventh Sign

This past week, I watched the movie The Seventh Sign with Demi Moore for probably the seventh time. I love Bible prophecy about the End Times. Before I go further, I am not one of those people selling everything I own and waiting on top of a mountain for Jesus to appear in the East - at least not physically. The reason I love Bible prophecy so much is that there are so many interpretations of the End Times out there, and they all claim to be based on God's revelation to John.

My favorite part of the movie is Demi's dream scenes. During the dream or vision, the Roman centurion is beating Jesus. He then turns toward Demi Moore and challenges her, "Will you die for him? Will you die for him?" This scene always sends shivers down my spine because I wonder if Hollywood realizes the significance of that question.

So, I ask you dear reader, will you die for him?

  • Will you die to your fear and invite a co-worker to your church?
  • Will you die to the comfort of your church pew and give your personal testimony to your next door neighbor?
  • Will you die to your full calendar to visit the sick?
  • Will you die to your Sunday dinner to feed someone who is hungry.
  • Will you let go of the size eight clothing in your closet that will never fit you again to clothe a single mother who has not had a new outfit in the past two years?
  • Will you give up your savings plan for that new car to purchase a car for a family that has no means of transportation?
  • Will you die to your pride to make peace with that person who annoys you?

I ask you again - will you die for him? He died for you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Treasures In Heaven

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. " Matthew 6:19-20 RSV

How do we lay up treasures in heaven? The news coverage of Katrina goes on with heart wrenching video and tear producing stories, but the most poignant stories are those of the children separated from their parents. Apparently, mothers and fathers chose to allow their children's rescue first, despite the possibility of being separated for days. Our children are precious to us here on earth. Children are also special to God.

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 18:10-11 RSV

The evacuees left their homes, their jewels, their televisions and computers. They left great-grandmother's china, they even left behind their dogs and cats. But, they did not leave behind their sons and daughters. In fact, they valued their sons and daughters more than themselves by sending them on ahead to safety.

If our children are our most precious treasures on earth, then too, our children will be our treasures in heaven. So, how do we produce heavenly children? We produce our heavenly children by spreading the Holy Spirit. Every time we give our testimony to someone, we are planting our seed. Our actions of compassion, kindness and goodness to others fertilizes the Spirit in their soul. Our witness to God's power and love waters the seed planted within them. Our prayers for their salvation allow that seed to grow and mature until one day they cry out to God in their travail, "Oh God - I believe that Jesus is Lord and that he died for my sins."

At that moment, you have just laid up your treasure in heaven.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Original Sin?

What is Original Sin? The Bible states that each of us is born with Original Sin, but what is it? Is Original Sin just the capacity to fall short of perfection, or is there more to the story?

I remember when my son was a toddler and he would fall and hurt himself or become frustrated with something he wanted to do, but couldn't, and he would cry, "I want to go home." Many times he would speak these words while we were at home and I would shake my head in bewilderment telling him, "We are home." He would look at me with his tearful face full of disdain and proclaim, "Not this home - my other home!" Eventually, I discussed this with one of my sisters and in her wisdom she told me that perhaps he remembers where he came from. He remembers being in the kingdom of God.

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them. Mark 10:14-16 RSV

When small children do something wrong - climbing on stairs, jumping on the couch or touching something that may break - they have no sense that they are doing anything wrong. There is no shame; no guilt. That is, until their parents point out that what they have done is not appropriate, over and over. We call this teaching or disciplining our children; knowledge.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Genesis 2:16-17 RSV

Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They now have brought something into the Garden that God never gave them. This something produced discord, separation and destroyed their peace. What they brought into the Garden was shame and guilt.

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. " Genesis 3:7-8 RSV

So we see that it is shame and guilt that separates us from God by stealing the peace and joy of our soul. What do we do when we feel shame and guilt? We hide from others. We blame others. We become angry at others. It is when we are filled with shame and guilt that we sin, for when we are filled with shame and guilt, we fear, and fear is the root of all evil.

The Old Testament is filled with animal and cereal sacrifices purposed to obliterate the guilt and shame. Some of these sacrifices are actually named, "Guilt offerings". When Jesus died for our sins - our guilt and shame - he freed us from these twin accusers - releasing us from guilt and shame and returning our souls to peace and joy. We now have the opportunity to repent - turn away from our actions, ask for forgiveness and be confident that we are forgiven without shame; without guilt. This is true freedom - a life free of guilt and shame can be lived in peace and joy.

" Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour." 1Peter 5:8 RSV

Satan is our accuser. His mission is to keep us in a constant state of shame and guilt. Beware, Christ already paid for your shame and guilt. Every time you feel shame or guilt, remind Satan that Jesus paid the price - and he will flee - leaving you with peace and joy.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

You Are Responsible for Your Hope

As I watched the devastating effects of Katrina and the news coverage of the aftermath, I held my head in shame. I cannot recall ever feeling this ashamed of my fellow Americans as I did this past week. Before you assume the cause for my shame, let me say that it was not because the relief effort was so meager or slow in coming. Although it was both those things. It was not the total lack of communication and acceptance of responsibility between the mayors, governors and the federal government, although there was plenty of that to go around, as well. No, my shame was watching an estimated one-hundred thousand people sitting on their back sides for four whole days without lifting a finger to help themselves or their neighbors.

News coverage of earthquakes in the Middle East show victims rising up and clearing debris from those neighbors still buried. Rescue efforts are started immediately even before outside help reaches the victims. The recent tsunami produced the same news footage of help and rescue by the very victims of the disaster. Even September 11th produced pictures and stories about one victim helping another victim well before relief efforts were able to reach the injured.

Where was this fellowship, this hope, this goodness in New Orleans? Where there is no goodness; evil reigns, and it certainly reigned in New Orleans. Thousands of people in the Super-Dome, and they could not stop a few from raping? Thousands of people and there were no plastic bags that could be laid out to catch the morning dew for drinking water or buckets to catch the rain that came that second night? Was there no one to share with the woman in the wheel chair who died alone? Was there no breast for a baby to suckle?

These people had lost their hope long before the Hurricane hit. They lost their hope in themselves and in God. Let me say emphatically - No one is responsible for your Hope, but you!

"Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za'tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, 'Take up your pallet, and walk.'" They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your pallet, and walk'?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath." John 5:1-16

The lame man's sin was not that he carried his pallet on the Sabbath. His sin was that he laid by the side of the pool for thirty eight years without faith; without hope. We are charged by God to have faith. Faith is a choice and if your faith is failing; stir it up just as the angel stirred up the pool of water. Faith is our choice - something that happens inside of us. Hope is a product of that Faith. Hope requires action.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Question

Science has answered many questions on life - Who, What Where and How.

There is one question that science cannot answer - Why?

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