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Future – when hope exists, Part I

The following two blogs originated in a graveside service the writer conducted.  It was the last of 4 funerals our congregation had in a few months’ time, the last three within two weeks.

II Corinthians 4:16-5:1 offers the reason Christians must live for tomorrow.  There’s always enough sorrow in life to eclipse our joy, if we let sorrow dominate.  OR…there’s always more than enough Joy than sorrow can ever eclipse, if we let Jesus fill us with himself and his promises.

The apostle confronted that dilemma as he wrote the above text.  He understood the problem of humanity:  “outwardly we are wasting away.”  The four loved ones we lost experienced that wasting.  Of the quartet only one death shocked us by its suddenness.  We watched the other three vanish in stages—one lady slipped away in a worship service, only to rally for a few more weeks.

Like them, all of us waste away:  bodily, mentally, emotionally…until we go the way of all the earth.  We’re either now tired or weary or exhausted, or, like my brother Rich a few days before he died, “WORN OUT.”  If not now, later.  If not immediately, eventually.

Death…the human condition that interrupts relationships, cancels friendships, ends marriages, blasts retirement plans and mocks all the improvements in diet, health, exercise and medical care to significantly lengthen lifespans.

Yet…appreciate that little conjunction…though all I’ve written is true…       –  End Part I –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

 

 

Death – Jesus conquered – by dying, Part IV

Accept the principle that the strongest man is the one who gives all the advantages to the opponent in a contest, then beats him badly.  Then see Jesus as infinitely greater than Satan in any confrontation they had, their Wilderness brawl the prime example.

Christ’s conquest there, and at the Tomb, gave early Christians the confidence to face and conquer an entrenched heathenism throughout the Roman Empire.  It gives Christians the same confidence today.  We face a ravenously anti-Christ society.  What, then, should his disciples do?  Why, what else?  Preach Jesus Christ crucified!  This is the time for more, not less courage; for more, not less boldness in preaching; for more, not less insistence on self-denial in discipleship; for confronting people with their need to obey God, whatever he says, not seek him only for comfort in our problems.

By giving himself over to death.  Where Satan built his immovable fortress.  Where he erected his greatest barriers and flexed his greatest strength.  Where he had buried every generation forever.  And God seemed impotent to interfere.  Jesus came into Satan’s citadel.  And gouged out death’s eyes; sliced open its chest; tore out its heart; seized its arms and ripped them off.

Glory to God, the Master’s victory in the wilderness is also the reason he had no fear of death or submitting to it.  He proved it nothing but an empty shell, lacking substance.  It also occasioned the most unusual response in Hades

– End Part IV –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

 

 

Pain – with equal pleasure

All the apostles shared in the punishment of an enraged Sanhedrin Acts 5:40-42.  That didn’t keep them from publicly continuing to preach what brought the beating.  The attack on the entire apostolic corps accelerated the leadership’s hostility that began with the overnight imprisonment of Petr and John Acts 4:1-3.

Of all the apostles, only two had beatific visions of Heaven itself.  Paul’s occurred in approximately AD 40-41 during his ministry.  We don’t know the details.  What’s interesting is the sequel.  He received a thorn in his flesh to keep his mind on his business, not dreaming his way through daily life in Christ by dwelling on future ecstasy II Corinthians 12:1-10.  The thorn also kept him humble; it didn’t allow exaltation of himself as an apostle.  Equally interesting, when Paul referred to the crown of righteousness he would receive after death—eternal life in Christ’s presence—he also saw that as God’s gift of grace to every believer II Timothy 4:8.

The apostle John received the entire Revelation as an aged apostle.  The Roman Empire still considered him dangerous enough to their emperor worship that they exiled him to Patmos.  His vision came while in exile where he worked and awaited God’s summons to beatitude.  God’s revelation to him included future sufferings for God’s people and God’s assurance of Victory for him and his followers.

Thus we have two great men of God finding delight in Christ’s Resurrected, Ascended Glories while paying a physical price in his service.  The two concepts are mutually compatible, not distinct.  To this day we still find Grace more sufficient than the problems, disappointments, griefs, sins and failures daily life imposes.  Nothing in this life that could be an excuse NOT TO SERVE must ever be USED.  Paul continued to serve Christ despite his thorn.  John continued serving Jesus throughout his exile.

That’s a warning to our mortal need of answers from God:  trust him, regardless.  It’s also an encouragement.  Using Paul and John, God knows how and when to plant and bloom his ecstasies in daily life to compensation for any hardship experienced.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

Christ – identifies with us – Part III

Based on Hebrews 2:14-18, the blogs this week focus on the Lord’s identification with us.

The eternal God became a man in Bethlehem.  When he did he remained God the Son in human form.  He didn’t become sinful man.  The reason was simple:  enough sinful leaders, with flawed purposes, had already come before Jesus arrived.  Even more have come since.  And they have, as sin-riddled mortals, added to the PROBLEM, not to the solution needed.

In the first place, then, Jesus became a man to demonstrate what it meant to really be a human.  As George MacDonald said, Jesus is the only real man—human—ever!  All the rest of us are merely trying to reach manhood/humanity, while we struggle mightily with our frailties, limitations and sins.

In the second place, while he had no sin, he didn’t content himself with being SINLESS—which is a point of undeniable integrity.  Only the perfect person would have a distinctive purpose for his perfection.  Which Jesus did. While free of sin, the gracious Lord gave himself as Savior for those still burdened by it and with problems he never had Mark 10:45.  Thus, while many who have overcome particular problems have no interest in showing those still manacled how to unlock the cuffs, Jesus without the problems gave hope to those all their lives contesting them.

Which is also why Jesus died without fear.  He knew his death would be the means by which he banished death.  Indeed, by dying Jesus gouged out death’s eyes, tore off its arms, slit open its chest and tore out its heart. – End –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

Water – the Wonder of

Note:  my brainy professor-pastor friend Mark Berrier writes columns for his hometown paper.  I’ll include a few/as blogs this week/as blogs.

Scientists call water “the maverick compound.” No scientist can tell us why water is a liquid. Everything in the universe acts according to its molecular weight—except water. According to its molecular weight, it should be two gasses, hydrogen and oxygen, all the way down to 142 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Then it should be a liquid from -142 to -148, and then a solid from then on down. But for some reason, it doesn’t do as it is “supposed” to. Instead, it is a liquid from 212 degrees down to 32 degrees; then as it cools, it becomes a solid. Again, opposed to everything else, water expands as it gets colder—or hotter. From 39.2 degrees, either hotter or colder, up or down, water expands.

Not only that, but according to Genesis 1:2, water at one time filled the universe: “…the Spirit of God was brooding over the waters….” Scientists tell us that if the whole universe was brought down to “absolute zero,” which is -273.15 degrees Celsius (or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit), all matter would shrink down until nothing existed! The only thing that would fill the universe would be water, because it expands as it cools. It is the first thing that exists, besides God, mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 1:2).

Water is absolutely essential for all life as we know it. Without water, everything dies. The surface of our planet is made up of about 70% water, and our bodies are also about 70% water. All plants and animals depend on water to survive.

Have you ever asked yourself how water can get up into the tops of trees, even the giant sequoia? Water does what scientists call “chinning itself.” Somehow, with just the right size straw, water actually climbs up the straw, and it appears there is no limit how high water can climb. Trees and plants can’t “suck” the water up inside themselves; the water climbs up in there itself. If you’ve ever had a roof leak, you know how water can wick to different places; the leak is often very hard to find.

Water is truly a miracle. Water can break steel or concrete when it freezes. Nothing can contain water and hold it if the water keeps getting colder. It will break any container as it expands. It can exert tremendous pressure. The colder it becomes, the more pressure it exerts.

If you were to electrolyze water, you are basically “burning” the water. When you do electrolysis, water burns, separating it into its two parts, hydrogen and oxygen, and you get twice as much hydrogen as oxygen. That’s why it’s called H2O. Recently, a “hydrogen car” has been invented. The only “pollution” left by burning hydrogen is pure water. Hydrogen may be the perfect fuel for a clean world.

II Peter 3:5 says that the universe was created “out of water and through water.” This agrees with Genesis 1:2. Water was there before even the Word of God spoke.

Jesus said, “I am the water of life.” If we are going to live, we need Jesus. Jesus gives life to all he touches. Maybe water is such an amazing miracle because Jesus is.

Preaching – to be clearly Christ-inspired

Lyndon Johnson mastered the politician’s art of speaking from both sides of his mouth when talking with people of polar-opposite agendas.  He developed that duplicity at least from his earliest legislative days.  He proved his skill as Senate Majority Leader during Civil Rights discussions in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

He assured northern liberals that significant success would be made for black rights.  He then reverted to his southern drawl when assuring southern conservatives that any bill passed would have a minimum impact on “life back home.”  Smithsonian Magazine, June 2002, p. 100-101

LBJ could never be a Bible preacher, to whom absolutes are as bedrock as compromise to a politician.  We repeat what Jesus said as absolute truth, however listeners respond; we don’t twist into pretzel-shapes facts that leave everyone agreeing with something said.  We head in a straight line between the Bible and the listener, so they clearly understand what Jesus clearly said; we don’t evade and temporize, overlook or mis-direct statements so no one knows what is really being said.

Thank God he sent Jesus as a preacher, not a politician.  Thank God he warned all his preachers to remain true to HIS word, not to the latest issue to be ridden or dismounted.  And thank God he warned preachers to “tell it like it is”, not how listeners would “like it to be.”  No preacher ever wants to give an account to God why he failed to be true to Jesus.  For no explanation or justification will ever exempt him from denunciation.

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

Commitment – in discipleship depends on itself

In one of his studies Oswald Chambers noted the Savior’s realistic, even-tempered, resolute approach to God’s will.  He never hurried or tarried, but always moved within God’s timing.  He could trust his every decision because he perfectly understood God and as perfectly obeyed him.  Complete Works, p. 836, October 21.

Limited by our fallen nature, Christians can’t depend on either emotions or intellect as adequate guides in serving the Lord.  We can be as wrong mentally as emotionally in our service.  Simon Peter impulsively exited the boat on Christ’s invitation.  That emotional rush soon vanished however, and into the drink he dropped.  The intellectuals in Athens and Corinth couldn’t wrap their mental powers around Christ’s bodily resurrection and reviled the messenger preaching it.

What then, do Christians trust to assure they’re walking within God’s will while they strive to serve Jesus?  For starters, know to the best of their ability that their service is what God SEEKS from them as individuals; whether as a building custodian or its contractor; as a teacher of adults or children; as a layman or cleric; what fits their nature or stretches it to fit God’s purpose.

In that way each disciple can ultimately determine that he’s faithful in both his career choice and life-purpose.  While they’re separate entities, they’re likelier Christ-inspired and honoring when combined as allies.  For what better way to make a living if in doing so we achieve God’s purpose for us?

For follow-up, remain faithful in the chosen field/ministry until led by the Holy Spirit to another.  Always wait for him to lead.  Never pioneer your own way to change.  Only with a sure sense of God’s direction will change be fruitful.  And, word of hope:  persevering in one’s career or ministry when it seems infertile may well be surest sign of honoring God’s Son.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

 

 

 

 

Age – no barrier to obedience

He had been born into a Russian Jewish family, but hadn’t enjoyed the bar mitzvah at age 13.  By that time, 1941, the Soviets’ stranglehold on Ukraine strongly advised agaisnt religious instruction.  And in 1941 Hitler’s Wermacht unleashed its rage on Ukraine.  The family fled.

 

Fast forward to 2016.  At age 88 Lazar Abramovitch finally celebrated his bar mitzvah in San Diego.  And there he was, dancing with the rabbi at the end of the ceremony, friends and relatives laughing and applauding.  U-T, 10/7/16

True, older people have often built so many barriers to obedience that remaining disobedient to God is easier for them.  True, ministering to seniors as a means of converting them to Jesus offers formidable challenges.  Indeed, they may constitute the toughest age group to change.

The point is, however, if we’re willing, no age prevents acceptance of Christ.  Pride, ego, tradition all may, but not age.  Lots of years passed between 1941 and 2016, Abramovitch living through each, and not pursuing his bar mitzva.  But at 88 years he decided his time to obey had come.

 Why is it, in our youth culture, that only younger Ministers are thought capable of reaching those a lot younger and a lot older than they, but older ministers aren’t capable of reaching even the seniors?  Judy and I are 80 and 78 respectively.  Yet, neither of us is ready to die, to retire, to remain silent, to live on our memories.  At 80 and 78 we remain ready to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  There have to be at least some our age equally ready to obey and serve.

 Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 New books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

Look – the kind that reveals

While watching NCAA Women’s Softball Championships for a few minutes 6/4/16, I saw two revealing looks by the opposing pitchers.  The Florida State pitcher looked down to her left as a ground ball zipped past into right field.  The next inning the UCLA pitcher immediately looked way up as a FSU batter hit her pitch.  The ball sailed over the fence.

Two looks.  Two results.  Each look an indication of the impact on each pitcher.  And each revealing what each pitcher felt when hitters smacked the ball.

Then there were two girls—10 years old or so—at the San Diego County Fair, June 4, 2016.  Each had a pygmy goat being judged.  One stood behind, the other knelt behind her prize goat.  Each wore her 4-H cap.  Each wore pigtails.  But what so impressed me was their look as each gazed at the judge.  Were they trying to read his mind as he evaluated their animal?  Did the one girl have doubt in one eye and hope in the other; and the other hope in both?  Did the younger silently order the judge not to undervalue her goat while the older felt more confident?

Those little girls would ace their classes if they applied attention to their books the way they drilled looks at the judge.

Speaking of looks:  Hebrews 12:2 commands us to “…fix our eyes on Jesus….”  Who gives us direction for life, purpose in life and reward for a fruitful life.  We take encouragement for life from others—the application from 12:1, referring to the heroes of chapter 11.  If they served God, despite the cost paid, we can, despite any now.

While the ancients encourage, only Jesus empowers.  Therefore, don’t flick your eyes at Jesus before turning them back to something else.  Instead, Stare at Jesus.  Rivet your gaze on Jesus.  Super-Glue your look to him.

May those who watch us as we LOOK see our determination to belong to and serve only Jesus.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

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