One Man, One Day

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And the debates continue. Not the current political debates or the debates over social reform or world order. But the debates focused on one man in history. This man caused uproar over 2 thousand years ago. And that battle continues today– in the market place, the center of governments, among religious leaders of various faiths and among worldly scholars and educators.

One defining day in history has changed the world and it’s thinking forever– “Good Friday”, the day that Jesus’ died on a cross. His followers understood the purpose of the cross. Paul, a follower of Jesus, wrote to the first Christians:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…the world through its wisdom did not know him…but we preach Christ crucified” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22, 23

Why is the cross so important?  It was the moment in time when Almighty God in all of His love, grace, and justice allowed the death of His Son Jesus to be the payment for the world’s sins. Jesus said he came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:21-22

But His death then led to the most miraculous event in history– His resurrection from the dead. Yet, without the power of His resurrection from death, those who believe in Him would not know this resurrected new life. Peter wrote to the believers about this death and resurrection:

“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3

And Jesus defined himself to his followers:

 “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live even after dying.” John 11:25

That is why on this day, a sad day of death and evil crucifixion on a cross, we can say it is “good”. It was and still is “good” for every person who will trust in God’s love and forgiveness through his Son Jesus. Jesus suffered for our good.

Thankfully, someday the debates will end and every person will have to acknowledge the truth:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11

But until that day we who know Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Savior of the world, will continue to “preach Christ crucified”. We who follow the True Vine, Jesus, may continue to debate with others, be persecuted for our faith in the cross, and even die through beheadings. The message is still the same for each generation, and I for one, will continue to write about this message with joy.

Have a blessed Good Friday! It is a good day!

Disease in the Vineyard

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Did you wake up this morning to more bad news?  More killings around the world? More political disappointments? Are you mortified over the continual celebration of corruption, deception, vulgar speech, rage, slander, and mockery of God and His people?  As Christ’s followers, we understand the world condones this type of behavior. But, like me, you may be shocked to see many of God’s people, who claim to follow Jesus, succumb to this indwelling evil. They, like the world, support and encourage leaders and political figures that have no respect for God or His laws. These leaders are depraved and full of arrogance, rage, slander, and division.

There is bad news in God’s vineyard; a disease is spreading and the branches are becoming weak and fruitless. Some have no interest in remaining in the Vine, Jesus. Worldly thinking has taken their thoughts captive. Perhaps, these members in the church accept such behavior because it reflects their own behavior.  They are not bothered by their own acceptance of deceiving to get their own way and using anger and slander to bully others. They have left God’s standards and embraced the world because it feeds their selfish desires. Their acceptance of worldly pride in others is a mockery to God.

Paul warned the new believers in Colossae of following after worldly godless leaders:

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” Colossians 2:8

Jesus told his disciples to “remain in me” but he also gave a warning to those who chose not to remain and joined with the world:

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:6

Yet, Jesus continued to remind his followers of God’s love, even in the midst of warning:

“’As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.’” John 15:9 

God the Father, motivated by His love, is warning His people and desiring for the prodigals to return and remain with Him. Consider His words that still speak to His people today in the midst of their sin and turning away from Him:

“Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us…” Hosea 6:1

“…let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him.” Isaiah 55:6-7

There are dire consequences for continuing down the path of worldliness, away from God – in our personal lives and our nation. God is calling those who have left His side to return back to Him again. It is time to wake up and return to God!

My book, Wake Up! Return to God- a call to personal revival from God’s Word is now on sale at amazon.com. God is using this book to change lives and encourage those who have strayed away to return to Him. Are you ready for a change in direction? Do you know others who need that change in their lives? The time is now to wake up!  We can’t wait any longer while evil continues to rule our land!

Fruits of Worship

Their vast beauty is amazing, in every season of the year. Row after row of blue hues, smoky clouds and waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina are one of the most visited locations in the U.S.  Living not too far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, my husband and I took a drive last weekend to be awed at God’s creative beauty. While speechlessly gazing into the distance, another car filled with girls stopped at the overlook. They sat in the car taking selfies, seemingly not noticing the mountains right next to them, only admiring their personal beauty instead.

Too many today are consumed with self, the god they worship. In conversations they boast about themselves, their possessions, their skills and accomplishments and their looks while paying no attention to others. Great amounts of money are spent on shining their idol, keeping its outward appearance glowing. If someone seeks to destroy their idol, they lash out, mock, and hate others. The idol is never satisfied and needs constant attention and maintenance. Eventually, in utter exhaustion these people lose hope. As the idol crumbles so do they. And the results: Those who have “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…are filled with envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:25, 29-31)

However, the great Creator God, the Almighty One “who is worthy of eternal praise.” (Romans 1:25), has the power, love and forgiveness to free others from this self-love and its results. When God said, “You must not have any other god but me.” (Exodus 20:3), He was protecting us. He knew the results and wanted us to instead know His love and not hatred – “I lavish unfailing love…on those who love me.” (Exodus 1:6).

God spoke, “I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and sorry for their sins. I will give new life to those who are humble in spirit. I will give new life to those who are sorry for their sins.” (Isaiah 57:15)

The fruits of worshiping God as the only true God, is life not death, hope not despair. When we smash our selfish idols and run to Him alone, through His son Jesus Christ, He produces His holiness in our lives. His Holy Spirit produces the fruits of love for others, joy in the midst of sorrows, peace in all circumstances, patience with Him and others, kindness toward those who are hateful, goodness in character, faithfulness in keeping our promises, gentleness instead of strife and self-control in our thinking and actions.

Who are you worshiping today? Are you satisfied with the results? Are you willing to throw down the selfie stick and instead raise up God as your only god, who will in turn lavish his love on you?

It’s time to praise God, the Almighty Creator whose beauty reveals himself to us – even in places like the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1

“For 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, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20