Messiah Revealed

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Then He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you—everything written concerning Me in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

Luke 24:44-45 (TLV)

I’m so excited to announce the upcoming series that I will be launching in September. It’ll be a journey through the Old Testament, book by book, highlighting prophecies fulfilled in the person of Yeshua (Jesus) at His first coming. A few posts ago, I wrote about how Christians can claim that their faith is the one true belief system. One of my points included how Jesus, unlike any other religious figure, proved that He was who He claimed to be through miracles and by fulfilling prophecy. Revelation 19:10 says, “Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” That testimony is the root of this series. I hope that this series deepens your faith and assurance that Yeshua is and always has been, the center of hope and life. The story of the Bible has always had the same main character. Let’s read that story together.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me…

John 5:39 (NIV)

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Which is really blind faith?

not-everyone-is-blindI really struggle with how much evolution is plugged into our society today. Not because I have a problem with science. I love science. God created science. Yet our public schools are presenting theories as truth which has either been disproved or has no factual evidence to justify it. I’m not going to pretend that I am an expert. I’m far from it. But it doesn’t take an expert to see the major gaps in what is being taught, not just in schools, but in media as well. Of course, I am biased. I am a Bible believing, Jesus loving, Christian. That’s because Jesus has changed my life, God has shown me my value as His child, and the Bible is the most reliable source I know. Even without that bias, I would find evolution wanting on so many levels. I have felt for some time now that I need to share what I’ve found in my journey to understand origins and meaning. I would like to think that I would never be opposed to something that is true. For that reason, I don’t believe things blindly. Here is a simple, not exhaustive, list of why the theory of evolution would require just that…blind faith.

Evolution does not provide for origins of the so-called single-celled organism that can, all of a sudden, know how to replicate and create new species.

There is no proof of macroevolution ever taking place at any point in history. Macroevolution is based on the “creation” and “introduction” of new novelties of biological chemistry which is impossible without outside involvement. Hence a designer.

There are zero “missing links” in the fossil record showing the transition from one species to another.

Evolution, by definition, is based on the creation of a new kind of species from genetic information that never existed beforehand. That has never happened, been observed, or reproduced.

Paleontologists have based much of their theory on “cavemen” from partial skeletons, teeth, bones, etc…and filled in assumptions.

Humans have 1400 novel genes that apes do not. There is no possible way we are related.

Evolution cannot explain the existence of two sexes.

Radioisotope dating cannot be accurate without knowing how much radioactive material was in the rock when it formed. Since none of us were around when the Earth was made, that is impossible to know. Carbon dating is based on faulty assumptions as well.

Ernst Haeckel’s drawings of embryos (which are still in public textbooks) have been proven as fake. They were doctored to look similar.

The universe must have a beginning but evolution makes no explanation of that.

Evolution is based on organisms propagating its own design, which is impossible with sexual reproduction due to the sharing of genes between mates and the existence of recessive genes.

All mutations known to man have had no positive effect. Therefore, evolutionary mutation cannot lead to any new or improved species. In fact, it has been proven that genetically, species regress not progress. That means, as things change over time, there is actually a loss, not a gain. (Yes, that means we are actually not as smart as the first humans. That’s another hit on the caveman theory.)

Bacteria mutate, and so do fruit flies. But never have they ever changed to anything but bacteria and fruit flies.

There has never been any shifting of shapes in the fossil record, therefore no evidence of change occurring.

Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics which states that things start out concentrated and spread out over time. The natural process bends towards equilibrium and disorder, which is the opposite of what evolution presents.

Evolution also violates the law of Biogenesis which states that life only comes from life.

This is only a taste of the holes in the evolutionary theory, which has changed so many times to try and cover faulty science. Assumptions and theorizing aside, everything we know about science points to intelligent design. The natural world, space, our bodies, everything is screaming creation. In Luke 19 Jesus said that even if we stay silent, the very rocks will cry out in praise of Him. Psalm 19 says that the heavens declare the glory of God. In Romans one, it says that since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. I am not a Bible-believing Christian despite science. Science has only gone so far as to further the evidence that what the Bible teaches is the reality.

The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We aren’t accidents. We aren’t the product of mutations and biological improbabilities. And we certainly aren’t related to monkeys. You, dear reader, hold God’s affection. He made you for a purpose. You have a place in this story and your life matters. Evolution would tell you the exact opposite, without reason, and without proof. There is a God, and He loves you more than you could ever know.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Prayer Warriors

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“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:36-41 (ESV)

When my wife and I started dating we used to stay up all hours of the night watching movies or just talking. There were several occasions I can recall driving her home and knowing that I only had a few hours before I had to be ready to head to work that morning. But it was worth it. The sleep was not that important compared to spending the time with her. From the day we had started talking to one another, we never wanted to spend much time apart. From that point on, we’ve been pretty much inseparable. When I have had to be gone we would text all day long and talk for well over an hour when possible. Even after all these years and multiple children, the bond is every bit as strong.  I’m not telling you my sappy love story to try to impress or brag but because this is what love can look like. That’s what our love for Jesus is supposed to look like.

For our seven-plus years of being together, my wife and I have been the best of friends. Our relationship with Jesus is really meant to be the same way. I mean, think about it. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as both our friend and as being married to His church. Followers of Christ have several names: child of God, co-heir, saint, disciple, and much more. This chapter is more about the labels of friend and bride (which I know may sound weird to some guys, but it’s actually awesome). As a bride and friend, the followers of Jesus should want, perhaps more than anything, to be connected to Him. That’s what prayer life is all about.  It’s not morning or evening prayers, it’s daylong prayer. It’s not simply seeking God for help in times of trouble, it’s speaking with Him in the good and hard times. It’s not putting Him on the shelf until you need Him, it’s wanting to be in His presence constantly. That’s what the story of the Bible has been about since the very beginning. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in Genesis, He tabernacled with the Nation of Israel, He embodied humanity in Jesus, and one day the new heaven and new earth will exist in the glory of His eternal presence.

The question of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane can be a striking conviction for most people. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m not talking about setting aside prayer time, I’m talking about living a prayer life. Remember, Jesus didn’t need His disciple in the garden, He invited them because He wanted to be with them. It’s no different for you and me. We’re invited into prayer, with the God of all creation, because He wants to be with us. He wants us to enjoy His presence because we need it to make it through life. We all suffer loss and difficulty that wages war on our hearts. So do those we love. A praying life is the only way to effectively wage war on the things that seek our downfall.

Prayer is the greatest weapon we have to fight for our families, friends, and even strangers. Prayer is so powerful that it can help set people free from addictions, oppression, depression, pride, and in some cases, disease and death. Prayer redirects lives. Chapter nine explores more of the spiritual realities around us and why it’s so important to live a life Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

The Flood of Salvation #3

One of the most hopeful themes of the flood story in the book of Genesis comes at the end. As the waters recede and dry ground appears, the earth washed clean from the stains of evil, new life begins to take shape. It’s the fresh start that the world needed. It’s the new beginnings story that everyone is drawn to.

People have a tendency to make mistakes, sometimes rather large ones, and in doing so we make a mess of things. We’ve all hurt others by our actions or words. We’ve all hurt ourselves by poor choices we’ve made at one time or another. Some of us have ruined careers or relationships, or both. Some of us have alienated children or have wandered deep into the path of addiction. Some of us have made choices in life that have led to battles with depression or anxiety. Whatever the person’s story is, God is the God of new beginnings. It applies to everyone’s world.

The flood brought salvation to Noah and his family, but also to the world that had been plagued by misuse and corruption. The flood was a clean slate. As the story goes from there, humanity makes a royal mess of things all over again. We’ve been spiraling into moral corruption ever since the flood. Which means, the slate will be wiped clean again, only this time it’ll be permanent.

In the book of revelation we can read about Jesus’ return. Throughout the book Christ’s return is proclaimed, prepared, and finally carried out. It’s a difficult read but very worth an in-depth study. The preparation for Christ’s return brings about a shockwave of catastrophic events meant to draw peoples hearts back to repentance. Instead, people get more bitter and push God away more than ever. These catastrophic evens serve to cleanse the Earth of the prevalent evil. That evil will finally be eliminated once Christ’s rule is established and Satan is destroyed forever.

It’s pretty obvious that the world we live in now is messed up and getting worse all the time. Truth has been distorted and evil runs rampant at every level of society, in every society. It was no different in Noah’s lifetime. God has always been in the process of reverting the world back to the form of its original creation. A form in which God and man can walk together in the cool of the day. A form in which all of creation lives in harmony and all sin is absent.

God is in the business of redemption and making things new. The flood story is an illustration of that. But as we’ve been looking at, it’s an illustration that points to a far greater event carried out by Yeshua the Messiah. Christ’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection established the new life and new beginnings for anyone who pursues that in Him. The Spiritual cleansing has taken place and continues to because of Him. All of our bad choices can be erased. Our sins can be vanquished in the blink of an eye. Lives can be redirected. People’s hearts can be transformed. All because of Yeshua’s work on the cross. He rose to life so we too can be raised to a new life. As incredible as that is, it doesn’t end there. One day, there will be a physical cleansing of the Earth that Jesus will bring and it will be amazing!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation‬ ‭21:1-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Be the Proof

Throughout my years as a Christian, I’ve had to work through my faith like anyone else. I’ve had to try to reconcile my purpose, what it means to be a Christian, how good works fit in to the equation, and so much more. Conflicting messages have only served to complicate the search. Denominations have been formed over these same basic questions. Debates have long divided societies. If you’ve found yourself struggling to resolve similar questions in your own walk of faith, let me offer you something to contemplate.

On my most recent journey through the Bible I locked on to a passage late in the book of Acts. The book of Acts is a valuable source because it records the commission given by Jesus before He ascended to heaven, the giving of the Holy Spirit to His followers, and records of how that Spirit used Christ’s early followers. The book focuses on many different followers but a big portion centers on the apostle Paul’s missions. He is one of our greatest examples of what it means to follow Jesus, and he laid out his mission statement for us all. It comes in Acts chapter 20 verse 24.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

It’s simple, and yet very deep. It’s one line but all consuming. Paul’s entire life had the purpose of pointing others to Jesus. Whether by his words or actions, Paul wanted the world to see Jesus in his way of life. When Paul encountered Jesus, everything changed for him. Jesus consumed his heart and every affection, and he had to tell everyone.

Paul said he was propelled with the purpose of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. To testify is far more than just telling people. It also means to serve as evidence or proof. Our life, as a Christian, is supposed to be the evidence of God’s grace. That means we love greatly, unconditionally, serve everyone, forgive quickly no matter the offense, put others before ourselves, and lay our lives down for the cause of bringing others to God. Every single one of those things, Jesus did and then extended His hands in invitation for us to do the same. Our lives should show the world that the grace and love and power or God are very real and available to everyone.

Shine a little light

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

1 Peter 2:17 ESV

I’m finding it very difficult to not get bitter towards the media in our nation. Not necessarily because of anything new, but of the consistent manner of its existence. That’s all forms of media by the way. Social, broadcast, print, and chain media alike. In the opening verse above, none of those things occur with much regularity. I understand that not many media outlets run by godly standards, but some certainly claim to. Yet even in those, it’s rare to see people being honored, love being spread, the fear of God being shown, and our nation’s leaders being honored.

I am also aware that all of our presidents have been shady in their own way. They’ve all messed up. They’ve all been imperfect. No president has a spotless foreign or domestic record. And our media sources behave like ravenous wolves out for blood. It doesn’t matter who is in power, the media closely related to opposing ideologies take every opportunity, whether manufactured or legitimate, to attack and ridicule.

It’s expected, sadly, for our media to behave in such a manner. The bigger problem, however, is when individuals operating on their own, mimic the behavior. Gossip and misleading information circulates with rapid speed through our social media. I guess to some extent we can’t blame them since that is what they are being fed. But for those of us who hold allegiance to Jesus and godly virtues, we should not be guilty of the same.

Honor everyone. This is a pretty all inclusive command. We all have people who aren’t honorable in our lives, but that doesn’t excuse any Christian from extending honor to them. That simply means we show everyone that they have value. Whether they act or think like me means nothing. They still have value because they’re created in God’s image just like me.

Love the brotherhood. Jesus said that people will know that we belong to Him by how we love each other. That’s unconditional, sincere, deep seated, servanthood love. And just as Jesus demonstrated, we still love the unlovable in this way.

Fear God. This is probably the most obvious element missing. Godly standards are pushed aside, and in some cases, outright ridiculed. For believers, our faith should be interwoven into everything we say and do. Those around us should know Who and what we stand for.

Honor the emperor. Even though we don’t have an emperor, and even though our president is far from perfect, he’s head and shoulders above any Roman emperor. The worst that any American president has ever done can’t even be compared to the leaders of Rome. Crimes against humanity were a daily occurrence, especially among those who were in power when Peter wrote the words above. To disagree with our leaders is natural. But to disrespect them should not be permitted among those who follow Jesus.

The body of Christ needs to shine a bright light in all three of these areas. Our voices of love and honor need to resound more loudly than the pervasive winds of pessimism and hate that consumes much of what is broadcasted in our nation. Those of you who work in the mainstream media, start where you are. If you have social media, utilize that tool to it’s greatest potential. For all of us, let’s be a beacon of love and honor wherever we are.

Peace brothers and sisters

Wasted Earnings

“You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”

Haggai 1:6 ESV

Occasionally I take time to drink in the measure of my life by evaluating how I spend my days. I have a wife, two little girls, a Golden Retriever, a career, and a separate business. Saying I am busy is a drastic understatement. But busyness does not equate to effectiveness.

I sat down to write this following some devotional time with my girls. No super deep theological discussions came out of it. I had to ask one of my girls to come sit down multiple times. But we watched a short video and followed it up with a bible story and prayer. It was only 10 minutes of my day, but it could have eternal value. Most of the rest of the day could consist of cleaning up after two girls and two dogs (I’m pet sitting a second Golden retriever). Sometimes life feels like survival mode. Sometimes the end of the day comes with little recollection of what I actually accomplished that day. But it’s up to each of us to take control of how we spend our time.

We all have responsibilities. We all come across uncontrollable circumstances that demand our attention. But we all have the ability to determine our mindset and purpose. Those two things thread through everything we do. For example, I get to choose to be thankful for every moment with my children. That’s the mindset. And I can choose to look for teaching moments, both in the ways I behave throughout the day and how they behave. Dozens of ‘teaching moments’ arise every day with kids, especially little ones. Many of those moments are repeats from the day before, or even from earlier that day. If that’s my purpose, and my mindset is thankfulness, then my day will never be a waste. That’s only one example but it can be applied to anything from our marriage to our career.

We don’t have a lot of time in this life to make an eternal mark. Let’s break it down this way. If we sleep 6-8 hours for 365 days a year then that’s 2190 to 2920 hours a year that we aren’t making a difference. Live for 60 years, then that’s 5475 to 7300 days worth of sleep. That’s equals 15-20 years we spend asleep. If you sleep 8 hours a day you are asleep for a third of your life. As a kid, 60 years seemed like an eternity. Now, at 36, I’m over half way there and it has seemed like a flash.

So much of my life has been wasted. I know that now. Not because of sleep. Sleep is never a waste, even though I’ve kind of lived that way (I don’t sleep a lot). What I am talking about is all the time I’ve spent playing video games, partying and drinking in my youth, vegging out in front of the television, going over stats on ESPN, and fussing and fretting over so many things. I can’t even calculate the time lost. I’m glad because it would probably depress me.

The passage in Haggai is a stark reminder of how many people live their lives. A lot of what we do in life goes into a bag with holes in it. We sit in our beds at the end of the day and can’t think of anything done that day that pointed someone to Jesus, that served the needs of others, or that demonstrated unconditional love.

How do you determine a successful day? How much you earned? How many pleasures you satisfied? What new things you accumulated? Unfortunately, that’s how much of the world measures success. But that’s not God’s measure of successful living. That’s measured by the lives we impact on a spiritual and eternal scale. And that can best be done by the example we are showing with our lives.

We are going to be asleep for a quarter to a third of our lives. Let’s not waste the rest on our selfish desires. Instead, let’s spend that time loving well, both God and our neighbor.

Peace brothers and sisters