Where is He leading me?

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.

Psalm 43:3 HCSB

As believers in Jesus, we pray a lot for wisdom and for guidance. Hopefully we realize that it will always lead us towards God. The direction He wants us to take in life is the place of light and truth that He possess. It’s holy ground. God is both with us and waiting in the place He wants us to go. In whatever guidance we’re looking for we must always seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Many of our questions can be answered by starting there. Seeking a new career? Wanting to know whether or not to ask someone to marry you? Contemplating moving and starting over somewhere new? Should I buy that? Should I give to that? Ask yourself, which of your options will lead you in the pursuit of righteousness? And, could lead others towards righteousness. God’s light will always guide you to the greatest service, to the deepest love, to the purest living, and to highest character.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV

What Kind of Abomination are you?

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That might seem like an odd question. It assumes the position that everyone is an abomination. Which is exactly the point I wish to make. Every single one of us is an abomination to someone. I know that sounds bleak, but it’s none the less true. According to the dictionary, an abomination is something or someone who causes disgust, hatred, or aversion. I am not saying that we are all hated and awful people. This is not a rant about humanity. The truth is, the life you choose to live will inevitably cause others to want to avoid you or disgust you. The only exception to this are those who are fake. They blend into crowds. They mold themselves to fit who they are with. They never stand for anything because to do so will result in someone being offended. For the rest of us, whatever we choose to stand for will place us in opposition to someone else.

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Proverbs 29:27 ESV

Even the godly, and maybe especially the godly, are detested by some in society. As culture degrades, those who hold true to moral certainties and biblical truths, are seen as enemies of the majority. Think about all of those who hold to the value of every human being, born and unborn. They are labeled as sexist and disciminatory towards women’s rights. People who promote and cherish the way people are born are charged for discriminating against people who want to change their gender. Even promoting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one women is seen as so appalling and hateful and homophobic. Many in society will say that to claim Jesus as Lord and Savior and the only way to heaven is intolerant and closed-minded. To challenge the notion of moral relativism will make you a bigot in the eyes of some. The life of a godly person is a conviction for those who are not. Even for the person who does not behave “holier than thou”. To make the choice to try and live a holy life and pursue Jesus will make you an abomination to many. But what kind of an abomination do you want to be? Do you want to be detestable to the ungodly or to the godly.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you

John 15:18 ESV

Jesus Himself warned His followers that it would mean the world would shun them. The world’s standards are not God’s standards. Holiness and righteousness are foreign and rejected by most. So if we truly follow Jesus, there will be people who do not want anything to do with us, or worse, hate us. It’s happening in the United States, and it is certainly happening around the world.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Luke 6:22 ESV

Take heart brothers and sisters. To be like Jesus is to be counter cultural. To be like Jesus is to challenge the norms and the popular beliefs. To be like Jesus is to be different. And the world struggles with different. But that should not keep us from being heavenly minded and pursuing godliness. While you may get ostracized by some, you’ll win the hearts of others to the Lord. Our love will be an abomination. Our grace and truth will be despised. Our forgiveness and mercy will be hated. But the world needs us to be an abomination. For the light of Jesus shines in the darkness!

Be strong my fellow Christians! Shalom and may the peace of Christ be in your hearts.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 ESV

Turn up the Light

Oswald Chambers once wrote that, “When becoming Christ’s my individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.”

Far earlier the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And finally, the great pastor Charles Spurgeon is noted saying, “Christ first, me last, nothing but love in between.”

Devotion in the Christian’s life certainly plays out in different ways, but one common element should be evident in us all: that we are His, wholeheartedly, and our lives should show it. The Lord promised to make us springs of living water that overflow to those around us. He said the world would know us by our love. He said we are the light of the world. Lord Jesus, turn up the light in us. Give us undivided hearts and undivided lives. Be alive in us like never before.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Sign of God’s People

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live…But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Deuteronomy 30:6, 14 (NKJV)

As the body of Christ, being among God’s people, we have His law written on our hearts and in our minds. This means we have His love written on our hearts and in our minds so that we may walk in it. Jesus told us that loving our God with all our heart, mind, and soul and loving our neighbor as our own fulfills the law. We are far less likely to break God’s eternal law when we are living from a place of love and constantly focused on Jesus. We are far more likely to make the impact we’re called to make when we love Jesus from the depth of who we are. When it’s genuine, the love of Christ’s church can change to world. He is our God and we are His people. He calls us the light of the world. How brightly are we shining right now? We need more love and more truth from our mouths and from the expression of our lives. The world doesn’t need discord and discouragement. The world doesn’t need legislation or new leadership. The world needs the gospel. It needs Jesus. They will know we belong to him by our love.

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Jeremiah 31:33 (NASB)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters. Shine brightly.

Four Reasons Hanukkah is Important to Christians

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is also known as the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights. It’s origins come from the Jewish rebellion against outside oppression and idolatry over 100 years before Jesus was born. Its a fascinating story of heroism, faith, and God’s people refusing to compromise. While it’s not one of the commanded celebrations of the Bible (like the feasts of Leviticus 23) it has become a greatly cherished season for honoring God. It seems to have started out that way very quickly because it was being celebrated in Israel during the time of Jesus.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.I and the Father are one.”

John 10:22-30 (ESV)

Here are four reasons why Hanukkah holds so much significance for the followers of Christ.

#1 Light of the World

The centerpiece of Hanukkah has to be the Hanukkiah. It is an eight candle lamp with one center candle called the Shamash. In the Temple, this candelabrum was to remain burning at all times. It was the source of light that allowed the priests to carry out the worship of Yahweh. Christians often celebrate this festival by decorating their houses with lights, inside and out, and lighting of the hanukkiah in honor of this element of Hanukkah. There is no greater light in the world than Jesus. The Festival of Lights honors the Light of the World as well as reminding us of our role to serve as lights in this world for all those walking in darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (ESV)

#2 Miraculous Provision

When the Maccabean revolt regained the Temple, one of the first things they did was to light the lamp using the oil available there. The problem was, there was only enough oil for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted a full eight days which is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days. This was nothing short of a miracle. And God is a God of miracles. Jesus demonstrated that during His earthly ministry. Remember those two times that He multiplied the fish and bread to feed thousands of people? Not only did He demonstrate miracles, But He is also a miracle. His birth to the Virgin Mary was a miracle. His death on the cross on behalf of humanity was a miracle. And His resurrection from the dead was a miracle. Jesus is, in fact, the miraculous provision of God for humanity. Far greater than the oil. And nothing is more miraculous than a sinful people being cleansed and made new by God. Hanukkah is eight full days of praising the Lord for cleansing us of our sins and giving us new life.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2 (ESV)

#3 Dedication of the Temple

The temple had been desecrated by the leader Antiochus and idol worship had become a common activity there. The Jews chose to bring an end to this idol worship in the house of God and rose up in arms. After defeating their enemies, the Temple had to be rededicated to the Lord. Nearly 200 years later, Jesus would enter the Temple in Jerusalem to call out the idol worship being conducted there. He overturned tables and reminded the people of the purpose of the Temple. Jesus also changed the idea of what the Temple was. You see, God had chosen to live among His people in multiple ways throughout the story of the Bible. In the beginning, He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Later, He gave Moses the blueprints for a tabernacle. Solomon would construct the first Temple not long after King David passed away. Jesus said in John chapter two that He would “destroy this temple and in three days raise it up.” He wasn’t speaking of the building in Jerusalem. He was talking about His body. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the temple became the believer and follower of Jesus. In the Temple, God’s Holy Spirit resided. Now His Holy Spirit lives in those who dedicate their lives to the Messiah Jesus. Hanukkah is a great time to rededicate our lives to the One who saved us.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

#4 Jesus celebrated it

In the first Bible passage of this post, John 10, Jesus is shown celebrating the Feast of Dedication. That is obviously speaking of Hanukkah. As followers of Christ, we are supposed to do as our Savior did. Our life belongs to Him, to live a life honoring of Him, sold out for Him. If Jesus believed it to be important to celebrate Hanukkah than shouldn’t His followers? Besides, the Festival of Lights all points to Him anyways.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5 (ESV)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters and happy Hanukkah!

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

Hanukkah…all about JESUS

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Dear Friends,

I love stories about heroes and sacrifice. They are incredibly compelling. That’s perhaps why Hanukkah is one of my favorite times of the year. Hanukkah is the season when we celebrate how, centuries ago, God’s people were willing to make enormous sacrifices, to fight against great odds, not comprise their faith, and do what was right. They became heroes through their obedience to God.

Here’s a summary of the amazing story …

Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world but died without an heir, so his massive new empire (which included Judea) was divided among his generals. This was fine for the Jews of Judea at first – until 175 BC, when the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded and tried to outlaw worship of the one true God, the God of Israel. Antiochus banned circumcision, outlawed the Hebrew Bible and even sacrificed pigs on an altar to Zeus in God’s Holy Temple. This prompted a Jewish uprising – the Maccabean Revolt – led by a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his sons. After ten long years of guerrilla warfare against a much larger and better equipped Seleucid army, the Jewish rebels did the seemingly impossible, pushing back their enemies, recapturing Jerusalem and cleansing and rededicating the Temple. That’s why those Jewish Maccabean warriors were heroes – they did impossible things, against impossible odds, because it was right and because God told them to. Their heroic actions are the basis for the celebration of Hanukkah. Especially important was the miracle of the oil. During the re-dedication of the temple, they found only enough specially prepared oil to relight the lampstand in the Holy place for one day. But miraculously, God kept the lampstand burning for eight days until new oil could be prepared! This is why we celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles for eight days. All because the heroes of that day had faith that God could do the impossible.

Heroes today are those who work so hard to provide impoverished and often persecuted people with clean water, education, clothing, friendship, and most important of all, with the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus) who loves them, died for them and wants them to receive the gift of eternal life. After all, Yeshua is the reason for this season and this celebration. Here’s a few reasons why:

#1- He is our light, and the only good and pure thing that breaks back the darkness of our of a sinful world.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

John 1:4-5 (NIV)

#2- He is the ultimate hero who stepped down out of heaven to die on cross for a sinful humanity.

Have this attitude in yourselves, which also was in Messiah YeshuaWho, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (TLV)

#3- He is God’s provision for us that never runs out.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV)

Hanukkah is absolutely amazing. It’s full of spiritual significance, all of which points directly to the Savior of the world. As a Christian, this celebration has incredible importance. Who wouldn’t love celebrating Jesus for eight days straight? Lighting the Hanukkiah (tree of life), singing worship eight nights in row, recounting stories of God’s faithfulness, it’s so much fun and so encouraging! I invite all my brothers and sisters around the world to join me and my family in honoring our King, our Light, our Life. It starts tonight. Will you join me?

Will you be a hero by not abandoning conviction and truth? Will you be a hero and share the love of Yeshua with a hurting world? Will you shine His love and light into the darkness?

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (ESV)

Peace in Christ