Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween or All Hallow's Eve

Halloween; All Hallow's Eve
As we approach the end of October and the celebration of Halloween, I felt the need to talk a little about the connection between the church and Halloween. 

In Romans 1:7 Paul addresses the Christians in Rome by saying, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.”  In Philippians 1:1 he says, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi.”  The Greek word for “saint” can also be defined as “holiness.”  Since Christians have been declared holy or righteous by God, all Christians are saints.

During the eighth century the Church established a special day for the feast of All Saints or All Saints Day.  The evening before became known as All Hallows Eve.  The celebration of All Saints was intended to give honor to those Christians who had preceded the living in death.   Originally All Hallows Eve was solemn and without any merriment.  It was believed that on this night departed souls were liberated from Purgatory and were allowed to return to their earthly homes.  Eventually, in Ireland, Scotland and England the religious celebration was joined with a secular celebration of Ireland and prayer was combined with merriment.  Beggars (today called Trick or Treaters) would go from door to door begging for “soul cakes.”  In return they promised to pray for the dead of the household.  Soul cakes were a shortbread like small cake and could be very fancy.  Legend, or maybe a true story, tells of a cook who decided to make a soul cake that would remind everyone about eternity.  She cut a hole in the middle of the small cake and dropped it in hot fat and we have a doughnut.  Circle that it is, a doughnut can remind us of the never ending time of eternity.

The beggars would sing at every one’s door something like, “a soul cake, a soul cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake.”  Eventually the singing gave way to charades and drama.  The message was to warn the living that they needed to listen to Jesus and take the steps needed for salvation before it was too late.  Goblins and witches with cats, which were ancient symbols of the devil, appeared as a symbol for keeping track of spirits that had been released from hell.  The goblins and witches were supposed to make sure that the visitors from hell returned at sunlight.

I have heard many Christians say that Halloween should be outlawed or at least that Christians should stop participating.  I would like to suggest an alternative.  Instead of candy use soul cakes and gather together for prayer and remembrance of those who have lived before us.  Use doughnuts as soul cakes, and perhaps have a doughnut making party and discuss “what eternity means to me.”  Costumes could be of those people that we find in the Bible.  Instead of throwing Halloween out, I believe that it would be much better to return to the reasons for which Halloween (All Hallows Eve) was started followed by the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Please meet my new book "Bible Trivia"

Proverbs 8:10-11 - Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies.

Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

At this time I would like to bring my latest book to your attention.  It is in keeping with my belief that we must learn as much as we possibly can about Jesus and the Bible.  If we have only heart knowledge about Jesus, we might be fooling ourselves into believing that Jesus taught something that He didn't.  We must combine head knowledge with heart knowledge; both must be there. 

My new book, "Bible Trivia" is an easy way to become familiar with the highlights of the Bible.  There are 90 questions taken from the Old Testament and 110 questions taken from the New Testament.  Each question includes Chapter and Verse where the answer can be found.  There is also an answer key, just in case there is some confusion about what the correct answer is.  As I said, these questions are not in depth questions but are meant to be fun and to offer a look at some of the most familiar parts of the Bible.  This book can also be used as a trivia challenge for Bible study groups of all ages.

"Bible Trivia" is available on Amazon for only $5.49 and also qualifies for free shipping.  Check it out now, while you are thinking about it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Project Green

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."  James 2:17

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12

As Christians we are reminded again and again that we should be alert and aware of the needs of others and that we are to help them in anyway that we can.  With this in mind we at Look and Find Jesus have stepped out in faith with our first major outreach program that we lovingly call "Project Green."

The purpose of this program is to provide and install, free of charge, solar panels for single parent families and senior citizens who have received disconnect notices from their electric company.  Our goal is to help people across the United States.  As you have probably already figured out this is going to be a very expensive project, but we believe that it is worth it, considering the help that it will provide to those individuals who are receiving the solar panels and also the work that it will provide for the companies installing the panels.  A huge added bonus is the benefit to the Earth.  The more renewable energy that we can use will make a better world for our children and grandchildren.

During this organizational stage, which is also expensive, we are asking for your help.  Soon we will be reaching out to churches across the country and then to well-known sports and entertainment personalities for major fund raising.  For now we are using pay-pal for contributions; however, we will be opening a bank account and will make that address available, as soon as we find a bank that will give us the best possible service.  We will also be providing pictures of all projects and events as they become available.

We pray that you can find it in your hearts to help us through this initial stage.  More information and the donation process can be found on our web-site  We thank you in advance for any help that you can provide and extend an invitation for you to provide us with an e-mail address on our "Contact Us" page, so that we can send you updates as they occur.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why Go to Church

Matthew 16:18 - "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

For some time I have been hearing negative comments concerning the church and why it is better to stay home and worship rather than going to church and worshiping with other Christians.  What is being forgotten is that the church belongs to God and when we reject the church we are rejecting God.  I agree that the church is not perfect, but it is because we are all human that there is a problem.  It is not because God is doing something to mess things up.  I believe that instead of avoiding church we should be involved and try to remind everyone about what the Bible says.

Following is a short story I found among my papers that might help to make my point.

A church goer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church.  "I've gone for thirty years," he wrote, "and in that time I heard something like 3,000 sermons.  But for the life of me I can't remember a single one of them; so I think I'm wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor.  It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:  "I've been married for thirty years now.  In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall what the menu was for a single one of those cooked meals.  But I do know this.  They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.  If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be dead today."

No comments were made on the sermon comments anymore.
When you are down to nothing, God is up to something!  Faith is invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.
                                                             Author Unknown

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bible Word Search

Bible Word Search

Some time ago Kelly spoke with you about a book titled "Bible Word Search."  Since I am the author, I would like to take this time to share with you the format of the book and a little about what I was hoping to accomplish.

I would like to start by saying that in every Bible study I have attended, with the exception of one, the leader started with a Bible story, read it, and then proceeded to ask questions about the story, hoping to generate a discussion.  This works minimally, but I have never witnessed a truly exciting Bible study.  My hope with this book is to change that.

Educators, and particularly music educators, will tell you that when you practice a composition in the same way all the time very little is learned or changed.  This is the concept around which I wrote this book.  In order to learn you must approach a subject in many different ways, ie: go in the front door, back door, a window, and many other approaches.  For this reason I chose a series of topics, such as "Titles for Jesus."  Do you know that there are over 100 titles for Jesus mentioned in the Bible.  Most people do not.  Using the topic "Titles for Jesus" I then developed a fill in the blank section by finding the Chapter and Verse where a specific title was used.  I then developed a Word Search grid where these titles can be used to do an old fashioned word search.

This Bible Study can be done alone or with a group.  If done in a group each title can be discussed to determine who referred to Jesus in this way and why He was called by that title.  I also included a very short pararaph about the history of a topic as well as a dictionary that included many terms that might be unfamiliar.  I hope that you find this book to be as educational and entertaining as I did when I wrote it.  You can find a copy of a sample puzzle on this blog by clicking here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is There Really a Holy Trinity?

Holy SpiritI recently read an article in which the writer stated that he did not believe in a triune God.  This concept, which is professed by Christians, says that God is of one essence, but consists of three persons that are equal in nature.  These three are God, the father; Jesus, the son; and the Holy Spirit.  The writer goes on to say that the Trinity is not possible because there is only one mention of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Revelation.  Clearly, this writer has ignored the remaining books and does not give credibility to the words of Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit.

In Mathew 28:18-19 Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

At the time of His ascension Jesus said to His disciples, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you," Acts 1:8.

John 16:5-16 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is not to be found in Heaven, but with us and in us.  In John 16:7 Jesus makes this very clear when He says, "It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

John 14:15-31 is also very clear about the existence of the Holy Spirit; specifically John 14:16 where Jesus says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever."  Also, John 14:26 where Jesus says, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

Jesus' words are enough to convince me that the Holy Spirit does, in fact, exist and is a vital part of the Trinity.  He does not exist in heaven; but right here with you and me guiding everyone who truly loves Jesus and believes that He is their Savior.

AppleI would also like to offer an example that might help make the concept of the Trinity a little more understandable.  If you hold an apple in your hand, you are holding one apple which consists of three parts: pulp, seeds, and peel; ie: 3 in 1.  Without the seeds the pulp and peel are nothing.  Without the peel the pulp and seeds are nothing.  Without the pulp the seeds and peel are nothing.  You must have all three to make one apple.  They are three separate and distinct parts, but all are necessary to make one apple.

If an apple can be 3 in 1, is it so difficult to imagine that God, with whom all things are possible, could also be 3 in 1.  Yes, the Trinity does exist and Christians worship one God consisting of three inseparable persons.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Introduction

Hello to everyone,
I would like to take this time to tell you a little about myself and the major focus of what I will be writing.  First of all I will be building on what Kelly Madison has written and will be revisiting some of her writings when it is appropriate.  I will continue, as Kelly did, in basing my writing on quotes from the Bible.  If you are going to write about the Bible, it should be your primary source of information.

Also, I am a firm believer in Christian education.  We hear again and again that if you want a good job, you need to get the best education that you can get.  This holds true for religion also.  I have an acquaintance who is an atheist and he knows more about the Bible than most Christians I know.  Unfortunately, he uses his knowledge against the Bible and always makes the Christians he is talking to angry, because they don't know what he is talking about and, as a result, can't hold their ground.  He ends up appearing to win and the other person is left angry and confused.  The only way to stop this is for Christians to learn what the Bible is telling them.  This is why you will frequently hear me say that you must study and read.  Learn all that you can about religion.  There are many good books and Bible studies out there and don't be afraid to question and even challenge your pastor, if you don't understand or disagree with what he/she says.  I am going to close with 2 Bible passages that tell what God teaches about acquiring knowledge.

Proverbs 8:10-11 - Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies.

Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Good-bye for Now

The time has come for me to step down from my position at Look and Find Jesus.  I will still be doing support work and writing occasionally for this blog, but I am no longer able to provide the time that is needed for this position.

My replacement is Charles Christopher Martin, who some of you may already know, if you have a copy of his book "Bible Word Search."  He tells me that he is currently working on several other books both for children and adults.  I am sure that you will find him to be very knowledgeable and informative.  On the surface Look and Find Jesus will not change.  It will still look the same and function in the same way it always has, only the writer will change.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Sunday

As I begin to write this article and to think about what I wanted to say, I realized that no matter what I could write it would not compare to the way that the Easter story is told in the Bible.  So I am going to quote Matthew 28:1-10.

Easter Sunday
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.’  Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings,” he said.  They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”                     

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Good Friday Devotion

The final observance before Easter is Good Friday.  Once again Good Friday is a church term and cannot be found in the Bible, but on that day believers place even more emphasis than usual on the sacrificial death on the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Good Friday
Following is a short poem that is one of my personal favorites.  While I cannot show my devotion to Jesus in the same way as the little dog, there are so many things that I can do.  Everyday in everything that we do we show, not to God but to the world, how much we love Jesus.  As I compare my actions to that of the little dog, I must wonder whose love is greater.

I wonder if Christ had a little black dog
All curly and wooly like mine;
With two long silky ears,
And a nose round and wet,
And two eyes brown and tender that shine.

I’m afraid he hadn’t because I have read
How He prayed in the garden alone;
For all his friends and disciples had fled-
Even Peter-the one called a stone.

And I’m so sure that the little black dog
With heart so tender and warm,
Would never have left Him to suffer alone
But creeping right under His arm

Would have licked the dear fingers
in agony clasped
And counting all favors but loss;
When they took Him away
Would have trotted behind
And followed Him right to the Cross.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

For Heaven's Sake

We have gotten many favorable responses to our short stories that help us understand scripture but that do not come directly from the Bible.  For that reason we have decided to include these kinds of stories on a regular basis.  This is the first of what we hope will be a long list of many.

Heaven and St. Peter
He was one of those lads who seemed to keep getting into mischief.  It frustrated his mother greatly.  Finally, one day when he was being particularly troublesome, his mother posed this question to him:  “How do you ever expect to get into heaven?”

The lively boy thought a few seconds, then said, “Well, I’ll just run in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, ‘For heaven’s sake, Jimmy, come in or stay out.’”

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Maundy Thursday - Remembering Jesus' Gift To Us

Maundy Thursday
After Palm Sunday the next observance during Holy Week in many churches is that of Maundy Thursday.  Maundy Thursday is also a church term and not found in the Bible.  On this day believers remember the establishment of the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus met with his disciples on the first day of Passover.  At this time they ate unleaven bread, which symbolized Christ’s body, and drank from the fruit of the vine, which symbolized Christ’s blood.  This meal was meant to be eaten again and again until Jesus returns.

The establishment of the Lord’s Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:19-22 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.  Following is the account given in Matthew 26:26-30.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

While we should remember and give thanks 24/7 for the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, so that we may live with him forever, we all need to make the additional remembrance by eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine as he instructed us when he established the Lord’s Supper.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Palm Sunday

Holy Week
During the first several centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus Christians remembered both the death and resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.  Gradually the time that was taken to honor the passion of Christ grew to be one week long and became known as Holy Week.  Holy Week begins with the celebration of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on what is now called Palm Sunday.  Palm Sunday is a church label and cannot be found in the Bible.  Rather, the Bible refers to this event as “The Triumphal Entry.”

The story of “The Triumphal Entry” is recorded in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19.  In Mark 11:8-10 we read, “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!’”

Today many churches celebrate Palm Sunday by distributing palm branches to worshippers and perhaps having a processional re-enacting Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.                                                            

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lent: The Seven Last Words Of Christ

The Seven Last Words of Christ
Since we are now in the middle of the Lenten season, I wanted to discuss what is called “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”  As Jesus hung dying on the cross he made seven statements.  Each statement is referred to as a “word.”  The first three words were said between 9AM and noon, and the last four were said close to 3PM.  You cannot find a list of these words in the Bible in the same way that you find the Ten Commandments, but they are there.  The purpose of this blog post is to tell you what these words are and where you can find them.

The first statement, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” is recorded in Luke 23:34.  Since the entire reason for Jesus’ death on the cross was to grant forgiveness for their sins to everyone who believes and trusts in him, Jesus has established that purpose with this statement.

The second statement, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” is recorded in Luke 23:43.  This promise given to a penitent thief gives us a look into the future and tells us what happens after a believer’s death.

The third statement, “…he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother,’” is recorded in John 19:26-27.  With this statement Jesus provided for the care of his mother by his disciple John.  From that day forward Mary lived in John’s home and he provided for her.

The last four statements were said close together at 3PM.  The fourth statement, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is recorded in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46.  This was a cry expressing the emotional pain that Jesus felt as he alone took on his shoulders the sins of the entire world.

The fifth statement, “I am thirsty,” is recorded in John 19:28.  This was an expression of physical pain and his lips were moistened with some wine vinegar.  This was the drink of the ordinary people at that time.

After being given the drink Jesus uttered the sixth statement, “It is finished,” which is recorded in John 19:30.  This was not a cry of defeat but rather a cry of victory.  Jesus had completed what he had come to do.  Salvation was available for everyone who believed and trusted in him.

With that Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” recorded in Luke 23:46, the seventh and last statement.

These words are extremely important.  They were made while Jesus was completing the final steps for our salvation.  This was something that no one before or since could accomplish.  For this reason I have included these words and their location under our page titled “Things to Know.”                                                        

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lent Reflection - The Cross and The Star Thrower

Once again I found this in my collection of articles, but am not sure how it came into my possession.  During this Lenten season I believe it is a good article to share.

Lent God and the Cross
Loren Eiseley, a naturalist, tells a story about a star thrower.  He was in the seaside town of Costabel, and, plagued by insomnia, spent the early morning hours walking the beach.  Each day at sunrise, he found townspeople combing the sand for starfish which had washed ashore during the night, to kill them for commercial purposes.  Eiseley thought this was a sign, however small, of all the ways the world says NO to life.

One morning, however, Eiseley got up unusually early, and discovered a solitary figure on the beach.  This man, too, was gathering starfish, but each time he found one alive he would pick it up and throw it as far as he could out beyond the breaking surf, back to the nurturing ocean from which it came.  As days went by, Eiseley found this man embarked on his mission of mercy each morning, seven days a week, no matter the weather.

Eiseley called this man “The Star Thrower.”  On the beach in Costabel, everything that Eiseley had been taught about evolution and the survival of the fittest was contradicted by one man.  For this man, strong as he was, reached down to save the weak.  Eiseley wondered if there is a star-thrower at work in the universe, a God who contradicts death, a God whose nature is mercy itself.

During this season of Lent, our focus is on the Cross.  This cross is one of the ways that human beings said NO to life.  And yet, through the cross of Jesus, God says a resounding Yes to life.  Through this cross of Jesus, God reaches down to save us from ourselves.  Through this cross of Jesus, God rescues us from certain death – he hurls us back into the fullness of life.  And he invites us to take up our crosses and follow him – to become star throwers ourselves, cherishing life for all people.  Through the Cross of Jesus, God invites us to join our voices with his in a resounding YES to life.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why We Celebrate Lent?

Why We Celebrate Lent?
As we approach the upcoming celebration of Easter, many churches observe the penitential period known as Lent.  The observance of Lent began during the 2nd century as a period of fasting in preparation for Easter.  Early Christians believed so strongly in the significance of what Jesus had done for them that they felt the need to prepare themselves, so that they could be worthy to celebrate Easter, thus the beginning of Lent.  Over the next couple centuries the period of time was extended to 40 days before Easter not including Sundays.  This transferred into 46 days beginning on a Wednesday, which became known as Ash Wednesday.  Churches today observe Ash Wednesday with special services and by placing an ashen cross on the foreheads of believers.

In today’s society the original significance of Lent has been greatly reduced.  In the words of one contemporary song we tell Jesus, “You are worthy of my praise.”  We should turn that the other way and become concerned about whether or not we are worthy of what Jesus did for us, just as the early Christians did.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Transfiguration of Jesus

On the Sunday before the first day of Lent many churches celebrate the transfiguration of our Lord.  The word transfiguration means to change in form or appearance in a way that elevates or idealizes.  The transfiguration of Jesus is reported in Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, and Luke 9:28-36.  Following is a portion of the story as told in Matthew 17:1-8.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  There he was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord it is good for us to be here.  If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them.  “Get up,” he said.  “Don’t be afraid.”  When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

The transfiguration gave Peter, James, and John a look at the glory of Jesus.  This glory which is still hidden from us will be revealed fully when Jesus returns again.  Mark 13:26 says, “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”  There was also encouragement for the disciples who were discouraged after having been reminded that Jesus’ suffering and death were fast approaching.  Also, Moses' and Elijah's appearance confirmed Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:17.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  At the transfiguration Moses is representative of the Law and the promise of salvation, and Elijah is representative of the Prophets.

As we think about the transfiguration we must remember that this is the second time that God announces that Jesus is His Son and that we should listen to him.  The glory that was revealed that day to Peter, James, and John should also be a comfort to us as we await the second coming, when Jesus returns in all His glory to defeat all the violence and corruption of this world.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What Is Love?

1 Corinthians 13:13  -  And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Jesus Loves You
A teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

As we think about the idea of love, many differing thoughts enter our minds.  So what did Jesus mean when he said the word love?  The Greek word “agape” is the one that is used and was used by believers to talk about the special unconditional love of God.  This unconditional love is what Jesus is telling us we should have for God and for each other.  This is a love that looks toward all things holy and turns away from the world and the pride of life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives an excellent explanation of the kind of love that Jesus was talking about.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast.  It is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

As believers living a life of repentance this means always putting God, Jesus, family, friends and neighbors before ourselves.  As human beings there will be times when we fail, no matter how hard we try.  Once again, this should remind us that we should always be thanking God for His gift of Jesus, and the gift of salvation that we were given when Jesus suffered, died, and rose again.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Careful How You Say It

There have been so many serious problems throughout the world that I decided to include something this week that I hope will give everyone a laugh.  It is a little story that came into my presence, but I do not remember how.

religious story
There’s a story about a revival where a barber was saved.  The preacher told him that since he was a barber and got to meet a lot of people, he could do a great work for the Lord if he would talk to them about religion and salvation.  When he asked how he could get into a conversation like that with his customers, the preacher said, “Just do it casually.  Talk to them about their soul, ask if their house is in order, if they are prepared to die, and so on.”

The first man to come in the next day wanted a shave, so the barber put a hot towel over him, talking about the weather and what-not, and then after he had lathered the man up good, he figured it was time to get down to the religion part.  He grabbed up his razor, stropped it a few times, pointed at the man, and said bluntly, “Brother, are you prepared to die?”  The man jumped up and ran out of the barbershop with the lather still on his face.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Happened When Jesus Was Baptized?

Many churches take this time after Epiphany to celebrate the baptism of Jesus.  All four gospels refer to our Lord’s baptism, but I would like to use the account found in Matthew 3:13-17.

Jesus' Baptism
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Several important things happened when Jesus was baptized.  First, God announced to everyone that Jesus is his son, that he loves Jesus, and that he is pleased with him.  Included is the fact that the Spirit of God descended from heaven and landed on Jesus.

Second, John the Baptist announced to everyone that Jesus is the Messiah and that his ministry is beginning.  John 1:31-34 supports this when John says, “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”  Then John gave this testimony:  “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

Third, through baptism Jesus identified completely with our sin and failure, even though he was pure and did not need to repent.  This is how he became our substitute.  This gift to us from God is reemphasized in 2 Corinthians 5:21; God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Finally, through his baptism Jesus set an example for all his followers:  that we should repent and be baptized.

As each of us remembers our own baptism, we should also remember that Jesus, who was without sin, became our substitute and took on the pain that is rightfully ours, so that we can stand sinless before God and live with him throughout eternity.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How Do You Say "I Am a Christian"?

Zazzle Products
As I said in an earlier blog, I have spent the last couple months doing a lot of reading and what I found was a lot of confusion.  There is a tremendous amount of information available and much of it results in the scattering of Christians to the far corners of the world.  There are so many opinions being promoted that even strong Christians can be led astray, if they don’t stay in their Bibles and continue to grow in their faith.  Even among Christians differences are becoming more and more evident, so that one Christian may doubt a Christian brother or sister.

Zazzle Products
I believe that Christians need to start pulling together again and talking about what they believe.  I also believe that Christians need to start standing up for Jesus instead of just sharing their faith at church on Sunday morning.  For that reason we are developing a line of products that can gently or boldly say to the world, “I am a Christian.”  Over time this line will grow, because we want to make available designs and products in a wide price range.  We hope that all Christians will be able to find something that they like and will want to use.

Please check out what is already available and keep checking back as new products and designs continue to be made available.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Why Is There Epiphany?

Because the festival of Epiphany is part of the church year and developed as the Christian church grew, you will not find the word “epiphany” in the Bible.  I did think it was important to include it, however, because many churches still celebrate Epiphany as part of the church calendar.

3 Wise Men
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek and means “appearance” or “manifestation.”  It is celebrated on January 6 and the twelve days starting on December 25 and ending on January 5 have been call “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  In Western Christianity January 6 has always celebrated the appearance of Jesus to the Gentiles, or non-Jewish people.  This appearance is represented by the coming of the Wise Men to see the baby Jesus as told in Matthew 2:1-12.

In Eastern Christianity Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus.  This story, told in Mark 1:9-11 tells about the appearance of Jesus to all of humanity as the Son of God.