Sunday, August 26, 2007

We Would See Jesus

It was in the fall of 1966. I was a freshman at LIFE Bible College. A friend of mine and I decided to take a peek inside of the first church of the Foursquare Gospel, Angelus Temple. Upon entering the foyer there was a huge display behind glass windows full of canes, wheelchairs, glasses, braces etc. from people who were healed back when ‘Sister’ Aimee McPherson was holding meetings in Los Angeles.
Walking past the foyer we entered the church auditorium which seemed massive to me with its 5,300 seats and domed roof.
The pipe organ console and pulpit sat much as they did when they were installed. My friend is an organ aficionado so he went there and began playing. I walked down front onto the platform. I sat in a chair where some great men and women of God sat. Then I noticed an inscription, hand carved into the back of the pulpit that only someone standing behind it might see.

The inscription came from John 12:21 and simply but boldly said,


Now I don’t know what you think about Aimee McPherson. She was a controversial figure in her day but today the fruit of her labor has been multiplied the world over. Anyway she’s not the subject I’m talking about. That subject would be Jesus.
I’ve attended many churches from many denominations, and even spoke in a few. I’m familiar with many of the essential differences that divide them. I’ve served on the boards of churches from two different denominations and have attended two bible colleges, one Trinitarian and one non-Trinitarian. The one thing that I see universally is that on Sunday morning you're likely to be addressed by someone who has not recently considered those words. You're more likely to get advice on how to live your life.


Turn on any ‘Christian’ program on radio, TV or the internet and you’re liable to hear how God wants to bless you, give you health, wealth and prosperity. You will be taught how to have a successful marriage, how to live, tithe, and what to eat and lately, what the Moslems are doing. I'm not trying to minimize the importance of those issues and certainly they have their place in the believers world today. Though they may be helpful to encapsulate tips on the how to's of believers, they are not the Gospel. What you may not see or hear from the books or tv churches today is anything about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now this will turn some of you off. We all like to hear all that success and how to stuff but just watch how many times Jesus is spoken of directly. Some Christian TV shows are nothing but entertainment and some interview only those who have a new book out. I suggest that this comes at a great peril. The peril is the neglect of God’s Book and becoming familiar with the Jesus of the Bible.


In my first years as a Christian, everything was about Jesus; His love, deity and blood. Songs talked of the Lord, Jesus or God many times more than it mentioned me, my and I. Today you can go to church…and I’m talking about solid Evangelical churches and you’re likely to hear a song that never mentions God, the Lord or Jesus and many that do so insert me, my and I more often. I once sat through a youth/music service at an Assembly of God church and heard several such songs. At the end of the service the Pastor greeted me and asked me how I liked the service. I said that the kids seemed to get blessed but some of those songs could have been sung to a boy or girlfriend. My bluntness left him speechless and my wife embarrased. Thank God for wives who will pinch, kick or grab you before you really make a scene. I was literally dragged by my shirtsleeve out of there.


In today’s Christian world the Gospel is still as powerful as it was the day Jesus rose from the grave, but that message isn’t getting out. I’m speaking mostly of America since the Gospel is being more clearly preached in other parts of the world, but here in the US…well…may I say that we are the lukewarm Laodicean Church. Like those Greeks of old, let us remind ourselves often that this world needs to see Jesus! Anything less will fail.

Gospel is "Good News." The Good News is that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."...God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17 It's good news to me because I'm a sinner included in the 'whoever' of John 3:16. (and so are you).


postcard photo

Monday, August 6, 2007

Different World Views

There are differing world views about how we got here and the purpose of life. In the Western world it's interesting to me that we can observe the exact same evidence and come to completely different conclusions based on those views.

Take for example the movement of our earth through space: The earth revolves once every twenty-four hours. The speed of it's rotation at the equator is about 1,040 mph or roughly half a kilometer per second and goes to practically zero at the poles. As the earth rotates, it's moon also rotates with such absolute perfect timing that man has only observed one side of it's surface from any point on earth. We see the same side of the moon as Moses and the ancient Pharoahs of Egypt. Earth orbits the star in our solar system, our sun, once a year at an average speed of 18.5 miles per second (or 30km/ second). Our solar system, which is about 26,000 light years from the center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, makes one complete revolution of the Galaxy about every 200-250 million years at an average speed of 155 miles per second (250 km/sec.)The Milky way Galaxy is just one galaxy in a group of galaxies called the Local Group. Within the Local Group, the Milky Way Galaxy is moving about 185 miles/sec (300 km/sec).An atheist would look at that and say, it's all coincidence! As a believer with a biblical world view I look at it and say with King David of old, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" When I see universal law, I see the fingerprint of a universal law giver. So you see, in my world view, God exists and I see His love and plan working continually. An unbeliever sees in their world view dumb luck and blind chance without a cause to account for the existence of everything. You may not believe in a god but we all believe something. Amazingly in the Bible book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible says God "hangs the earth on nothing;" - Job 26:7. Atheists and Christians are like anyone else in that we all have our troubles. We all go through life and face crises. We are all going to die. The difference is that the Christian has a blessed hope of an eternal day. That's what Jesus guaranteed when He said,
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - John 14:1-3.

Friday, August 3, 2007

E. M. Bounds

Edward McKendree Bounds (1835-1913),
Methodist minister and devotional writer, was born in Shelby County, Missouri. He studied law and was admitted to the bar at 21 years of age. After practicing law for three years, he began preaching for the Methodist Episcopal Church. After the Civil War, Bounds served as pastor of churches in Tennessee and Alabama, and in St. Louis, Missouri. He spent the last 17 years of his life with his family in Washington, Georgia, writing his Spiritual Life Books. He was a man devoted to prayer and his writings reflected his life's emphasis on prayer.
Some of these books are studied in Theological schools to this day. Here are the titles of some of his writings:

Power Through Prayer
Prayer and Praying Men
Purpose in Prayer
The Essentials of Prayer
The Necessity of Prayer
The Possibilities of Prayer
The Reality of Prayer
The Weapon of Prayer
Heaven,a Place, a City, a Home
Preacher and Prayer

Check at your local bookstore or library.

Tomb of the Patriarchs

Cave of Machpelah
Hebron, located 32 km. (20 miles) south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times.
The Book of Genesis Abraham's purchase of the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah.
According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are buried in the Tomb. The Cave of Machpelah (in Hebron) is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The cave and the adjoining field were purchased (at full market price) by Abraham some 3700 years ago. These are considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish People. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. It's there today marked by this uniquely impressive building is the only one in the region that stands intact and still fulfills its original function after thousands of years. Foreign conquerors and invaders used the site for their own purposes, depending on their religious orientation. The Byzantines and Crusaders transformed it into a church and the Muslims rendered it a mosque. About 700 years ago, the Muslim Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building. Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history.

It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods. It was only in 1929 - as a result of a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder were forced to flee - that the city became temporarily "free" of Jews. After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established. It has grown to include a range of religious and educational institutions. (thanks to Crystal and Paradise Sunday