Monthly Archives: August 2016

Discipleship – Christ’s charge in

British Major John Howard learned that his glider-borne paratroopers landing in Normandy, 6 June 1944, would seize and hold the Orne River Bridge and its surrounding land “until relieved”—which didn’t come for hours.  Stephen Ambrose, D-Day, 197

They fared better than American troops in the Philippines early in WWII.  One of the four men from Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 (MTB3) expressed the finality of the orders soldiers received.  An officer on Bataan would pass by a machine-gun emplacement and order the soldiers to stay and hold the position.  When asked for how long, he would say, “Never mind.”  That meant the soldiers were “expendable”.  They would stay until overwhelmed, taken captive or killed.  “Hold until relieved” meant to “Hold regardless.”  W.L. White, They Were Expendable, 3

Jesus Christ and his apostles established the spiritual line on which he put all disciples in all ages.  On that line they were to stand.  That line they were to defend.  They were not to compromise that line by letting Satan gain it, stand there or, above all, cross it into strictly Biblical territory, gaining access to Christianity’s truth, which he would suborn and subvert.

That’s the order under which Christians still live and work.  Whatever Jesus said, his people believe.  Whatever he accepted, they embrace.  Whatever he rejected, they oppose.  And they have a time limit:  Hold until HE comes.  That means every generation of disciples remains faithful to the Christ-directed, apostolic-written guidelines for truth.  Whether society likes it or not.  Whether many or few believe it.  Hold…hold…hold…Jesus Christ’s command to his people.  Are we listening?  Are we obeying?  Whatever it costs us?  Because obeying him is ever so much more important than the price we pay to comply.

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Discipleship – costs of re-paid

When the Marine divisions churned from mother ships to the sands of Iwo Jima February 19, 1945, they had the comfort of knowing that soaking destruction from pre-invasion bombardment had likely neutralized Japanese opposition.  Only to discover that the 6800 tons of bombs and 22,000 rounds of 5 inch and 16 inch naval shells rained on the island had failed to disrupt, let alone damage Japanese strength.

Only the effort of ground troops slogging through the volcanic sands and rooting out or burying the enemy secured the island 26 March, 1945.  Whatever was needed to keep the Marines fighting came ashore as the battle continued.  The Marines were reinforced until victory came.  Readers Digest, Illustrated WWII, 481

Serving Jesus is like that.  The costs of discipleship are re-paid even as service consumes the energies, time and resources of God’s servants.  Even as the costs of serving God increase his resources massively re-supply the effort.  Whatever price Christ’s servants pay, his reimbursement of grace exceeds the cost.  If American commanders wouldn’t let the Marines at Iwo Jima fight without reinforcing them with all the military weapons available, we can’t possibly think God will fail in any way to reinforce his servants as they proclaim the Kingdom Jesus Christ died to establish.

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God – know the truth about

American soldiers feared the same Japanese fanaticism in every battle after enduring Banzai attacks in Attu, the Aleutians.  The invasion of Saipan led to rumors that the Emperor of Japan had ordered such attacks.  It was called Gyokusai—Death with honor—and demanded 7 American deaths to every 1 Japanese.  (American Intelligence couldn’t find any fact in the rumor; they believed it originated from Japanese headquarters on Saipan or on the battlefield.)  Nevertheless, once believed by Nippon’s troops on the island, it became truth.  Between 3000 and 4000 soldiers participated in the attack, which effectively finished Japanese resistance on Saipan.  Readers Digest, WWII Illustrated, 442

A lot of rumors about God circulate daily.  Rumors, A.K.A., Satan lies.  One such is spouted by the likes of actor William Shatner.  He said that science fiction is mythology:  which is true.  He then said it isn’t “unlike religion”:  nobody knows for sure, but we tolerate it in case.  That’s patently false.  Parade Magazine, 8/28/16

A lot of religion may be myth, but God Almighty is FACT.  We have our understanding of reality and self only because God is SO REAL.  We couldn’t even open our mouth and eyes except God IS!  We can think, not respond by instinct, because God IS!

Never take an actor’s word for anything, especially about God.  No rumor about God is ever true, no matter what famous or rich person starts it or believes it.  Only the 66 books of Old and New Testament contain the truth about God in Christ.

Another rumor, i.e., Satanic lie, is that Jesus is only what the Gospel writers wanted him to be.  Indeed, they manufactured a triumphant Christ from a failed Nazarene teacher.  This is the favorite spout of the infamous Jesus Seminar.  It has influenced so many people, including Christians, that a sturdy, aggressive defense of the Four Gospels is needed.  And, by God’s good direction, this writer has the first volume of defense called Their Own Best Defense on the market and ready to buy.  It doesn’t claim to be the perfect defense of the Gospels, but it’s at least a careful verse by verse study of every chronological Gospel’s text, surfacing evidence of its integrity as a record of Jesus.

A third rumor/Satanic lie about God is the favorite spout of mortals wanting an easy way to Heaven.  One only need die to get there.  You live, you die, you go to Heaven.  All that’s required is to live decently, hug your kids, kiss your wife, do a few good deeds, etc., etc., etc.

Anyone who believes that needs to carefully read Hebrews 10:26-31.  Ponder what the writer said.  Take it to heart.  Only Jesus Christ gets us into Heaven, and only if we accept his sacrifice for our sins and live as fruitful disciples.

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Bible – know where to look

A college student on summer break in 1960 found employment with the Good Humor ice-cream company.  While subbing for a driver of a regular route he found kids waiting, change in hand.  He exchanged their coins for his goodies, then returned to the cab.  To find a large dog in the driver’s seat.  After fruitlessly trying to remove him he decided to bribe him with an ice-cream cone.  It worked.

He found the same dog sitting on his driver’s seat the next day.  He used the same bribe to evacuate him.  On the third day an older gentleman stood with the usual complement of kids, the big dog at his side.

The driver had hardly stopped when the gentleman explained the mystery.  The regular driver had forgotten to inform him:  a very big dog would meet his truck.  He would find a quarter taped inside his collar in exchange for an ice-cream cone.  Reminisce Magazine, July 2016, 40-41.

Mystery solved.  The regular driver had failed to inform his substitute.  Maybe he was too anxious for vacation.

The incident does surface a spiritual truth.  If we want to know the truth about God in Christ, we need to know where to look.  First, it’s in God’s Holy Bible, no other writing.  Second, it’s in the Gospels and Epistles, not in books written by Christian authors—where Christians most often look for information.  Nothing mortals write about their experience in Christ tells so clearly and persuasively what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record about Jesus Christ personally living among them, explaining himself in the days of his flesh.

Vikings admired book covers and saved them.  They cared nothing for the contents and discarded them.  Many people love the family Bible as a receptacle of family history:  births, weddings, funerals.  They don’t value the Living God and his Living Word revealed there.

If we want God’s word for everyday life, or in crises, or in witnessing to others, we need to know where in the Bible to look.  Do we?  Forewarned is forearmed.

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Funeral – a time to extol Christ, not mortals

Just thinking…why have we so freely and willingly rushed to adopt the humanist celebration of human life when people die.  We can understand their need to remember the dead mortal:  their only hope as humanists is to leave behind something worthwhile since they have nothing positive beyond the grave.

But for Bible-believing disciples of Christ to follow their lead?  Why not instead use the funeral (or memorial service as it’s now called, as if to lessen the finality of the event), to celebrate Jesus Christ the Lord?  Christians should use the occasion to glorify Christ:  whose sacrifice forgives our sins so we CAN be his disciples; whose Spirit lives in our minds and hearts to direct our new life; whose Word offers never-failing, always-sustaining education in spiritual truth.

We’ll never find a Christian hymn that focuses on human capability or worth.  We’ll find hymns of never ending amazement of God’s mercy in Christ; of victory in Jesus; of a Wonderful Savior in Jesus our Lord; of our soul being imprisoned in sin’s dark night and Christ’s light flooding our minds with his Presence.  And on and on.

Just thinking…how even in the final good-by to loved ones we can remind the living that Jesus Christ wants them also to accept his forgiveness and eternal life.

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Christ – not accepted by the up-and-out

Pastoral demands have priority.  Back to scribbling today.

The Presidential election of 1828 re-drew downward the parameters of social acceptance.  From Virginia and Massachusetts the young republic turned to the West—Tennessee—and to the under-educated Andrew Jackson, hero of New Orleans, a lawyer in the most basic sense whose high ideals often clashed with his violent temper.

A woman in South Carolina blushed with rage at his election.  She couldn’t forget that Jackson had lived in her town of Salisbury and been seen on its streets as one of the “regulars.”  How could he ever qualify as President?  Indeed, if he could, anyone could!  The Battle of New Orleans, 198

Jesus faced that problem in Nazareth, prior to his Great Galilean Ministry.  They thought he threw stones too heavy for his weight.  One of their villagers for 30 years, the product of peasants like themselves, he could build furniture but not a messianic-lineage.  Indeed, if he could be Messiah, anyone in Nazareth could.  (Which only proves how imbedded in their mediocrity they had become.)  While a one-eyed man is king in a kingdom of the blind, those Nazarene fence posts couldn’t recognize in Jesus the colossus soaring above.  That mantel also fell over the early Christians.  While it made converts at every level of society, it remained a faith mainly of the downtrodden and uneducated.

Christians today are under the same mis-judgment by society.  The unsaved can’t believe the universal value of Christ’s singular sacrifice; or that he actually performed miracles; or rose from the dead.  Blame a lot of that ignorance on churches that preach an “acceptable” message, not Christ’s challenging, revolutionary message; that preaches subjects people will welcome, but nothing that disturbs; that has taken for granted the place of the church in society only to find it’s taken as a joke.  The point is, however, God determines how he reveals himself, and through whom.  If we’re wise enough to let him speak, we’ll be forgiven; if we arrogantly suggest he poorly revealed himself, we’ll die in our sins.  The choice is ours to make.  It is NOT in our power to change God’s will; it won’t ever be.

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Christ – compassionate problem-solver

A leprous man had spent six years in a Louisiana leprosarium.  During that time he underwent 16 surgeries.  He found only shock and rejection when he returned to his family.  He settled into homelessness.

Desperate from depression and self-loathing, he wandered the streets.  One night he found himself at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.  An appointment with one of the pastors was arranged.  A dinner meeting followed.  When the man couldn’t hold the fork and knife, the priest casually and unobtrusively cut his meat.

The man had found a friend.  Someone who cared.  With compassion.  In the manner of Jesus of Nazareth, unashamed of his scarred, disfigured body.

When the priest became Bishop in Rochester, New York, he invited the man to a choice reserved seat.  As he recessed up the aisle afterward, the new Bishop stopped at the man’s row and offered a personal greeting.  When he continued his recessional, a woman next to the man whispered that the Bishop loved him very much.  He replied that such love had saved his life.

A thoughtful, emotionally-captivating story about Bishop Sheen.  Who did all that Christian compassion could.  And all that Jesus demands of his disciples when seeing human need.

As the Master’s meeting with a man “full” of leprosy proved—see Luke 5:12-16—Jesus felt compassion for the man, coupled with ability to remove the leprosy, not merely empathize with him.  With Bishop Sheen, we must encourage the stricken.  As only Jesus could, his encouragement not only renewed the person’s attitude, but removed the problem afflicting him.  Jesus alone does it all.  Bring to him any burden; he will lift, then remove it.  Bring to him any sin; he will forgive, then banish it.  Whatever it is that may devastate us, Jesus cares, and Jesus solves!

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God – rules by his own rules

When God allowed Adam to eat of every tree but one in Eden, he meant exactly what he said.  Every tree could be used for food, EXCEPT the one tree.  That had to be avoided. Eve and Adam didn’t believe God.  They asserted their will against God.  They ate from the forbidden tree and immediately felt guilt by seeing each other’s nakedness.

Ironically, we live in a culture increasingly naked by reason of style, but really by reason of our moral depravity.  Let’s understand that there is no “go along to get along” with God.  His unilateral position and authority doesn’t permit compromise.  He’s an undivided, whole, complete unity within himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He brooks no rival and tolerates no opposition.

Spiritual militancy originates with God.  It’s as innate to his being as water to rain and heat to sun.  It’s his way or the highway that leads nowhere we want to be.

The meaning for us:  God doesn’t accommodate any views we have on sexuality, marriage, ethics or morality that contravene his.  He warned Adam of sure death if he ate the forbidden fruit.  He keeps warning us that we personally and our culture will perish if we persist in our anti-God behavior.  When God-in-the-flesh, walked the earth he also had not an ounce of “go along to get along” in him.   Spiritually militant from bark to core, he established his own way as the way to God, with himself as the entrance into Heaven.  We can hate his unilateral position, but we’ll never alter it.  We may seek an alternative, but we’ll never find it.  Surrender of all human opinions to God’s FACTS is the only way to peace with the Eternal Godhead.

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Sportsmanship – ethical meaning of eliminated in sports

So Allyson Felix won the silver, not the gold medal in the 400 meter race in Rio.  Not because she didn’t outrun the Bahamian woman, but because that woman “took a dive” over the finish line.  Now…a dive in boxing means you have intentionally “thrown the bout.”  But in 2016 a dive in the Olympic 400 meters means you have won legally, but not morally and ethically.

The Bahamian paid the price of her dive in a few scratches, which hurt far less by winning the gold.  Allyson paid the price of receiving a silver by running through the finish line.  Let’s see…it’s called a 400 meter RUN, not a 399 meter run and a yard DIVE!  Listen…fall if you must after crossing the line; dive if you want after crossing the line.  But RUN through the finish line!

Was the dive legal?  Yes, by some twisted logic of the IOC, diving across a finish line in a race is legal.  Only a degraded organization can tolerate such stupid rules.  Was it sportsman-like, someone asked Allyson.  That “depends on what side you are on,” she replied.  San Diego U-T, 8/16/16

No, it doesn’t.  Sportsmanship means you compete by the rules and by the ethical standards the rules imply.  But, given our culture, where only winning matters—who remembers who comes in second?—lying, cheating, taking drugs, bribing officials or whatever it takes, doesn’t matter.  Ethics are good for religious people, but don’t expect businessmen, athletes, entertainers, politicians or broadcasters to be interested.  “Just win, baby!”, the depraved slogan goes.  Settle with God later, if you think you need to, but winning now is what matters.  Go to Hell if you don’t repent of it, but at least you go into the fire with gold hung around your neck.

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Christ – God’s One and Only One

Judy sometimes listens to a classical music station in L.A. as she prepares breakfast.  One morning she heard of a composition that had been written for two trumpets.  It came into possession of a conductor who rewrote the composition for two cellists, himself and his wife.  Our diverse society thinks that something like that has occurred in religion.  It believes that human relationships with the Divine are much too complex for one person or religion to have all the answers to the human quest for eternal life.

Unfortunately for them, God isn’t a musician who changes religious compositions and conductors agreeable to individual cultures.  Before the beginning, in an eternity explicable to and experienced only by the Glorious Trinity, God the Father destined God the Son to be his sole, unblemished, perfect Lamb sacrificed to forgive sinful humanity I Peter 1:18-20.  For, however complex and distinct human cultures may be, humanity’s basic problem is disarmingly simple:  all are sinners and continue sinning.  The historical beginning of Christ’s sole leadership was seen in Genesis 3:15, in the Garden of Eden, immediately after Adam’s sin.  None but Jesus Christ was and is that Enmity between Satan’s horrors and humanity’s hopes.  Even the great Moses was but a stop-gap measure in God’s plan, until the fullness of time brought Jesus Christ into history.  Not before he came did God change his mind, and not since he came has God changed his mind.

A scene in the movie An American in Paris had Oscar Levant dreaming of himself as the all-in all-personnel of a symphony.  He composed, he directed, he scored, he played all the instruments.

That is exactly the truth about Jesus Christ vis á vis humanity.  Jesus IS all the roles:  composer, lyricist, conductor, head violinist, second violinist, trumpeter, cellist, oboist, kettle-drummer, etc.—all the many roles in any symphony.  He doesn’t dream he is, only to awaken to the reality that many share his role.  Nobody shares with Jesus in being Savior of humanity, Lord of humanity, Sovereign over human history and Concluder of human history.  Jesus is God’s One and Only One.

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