Archives For January 2014

Hello and welcome back!

Here we are approaching the end of the first week in January.  The year is getting off to a good start!  I hope that in your world you are preparing to make this your best year ever in whatever it is you are desirous of accomplishing.

An idea occurred to me this morning and I decided to create a blog post about it.  “What idea was that, Zach?” you may be asking.  Here it is in a nutshell.

Many Christians face problems in today’s culture that need to be considered and addressed.  I would like to mention some of these problems and address the ones that most people have brought to my attention in the course of my ministry.

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?

Have you ever had doubts about Jesus’ resurrection?  In other words, have you ever wondered or became concerned if Jesus really did rise on the third day? Maybe you have never faced this but it is amazing just how many Christians have faced this doubt sometime during their Christian walk.  Let’s take this particular doubt and drill down to its common cause.

If you know of anyone who is concerned about this particular fear in their life or the life of someone they care about, please share this post with them.

“Don’t take my word for it.  Look at the research.”

There have been doubters since Thomas expressed his disbelief in the upper room 3 days after the crucifixion of Christ.  If you are or ever have doubted the truth of the resurrection, know that most Christians and even pastors have had their moments of doubt also.

Sometimes this doubt happens when prayers are not answered how the Christian feels they should.  At other times, it just hits – out of the blue – for no apparent reason.  Some Christians have voiced feeling abandoned by God and fears that the resurrection of Christ might have been a hoax.

What is the solution for this very insidious occurrence?  Are you or have you ever experienced this doubt?  The best method to face a fear is to look at the known and accepted facts surrounding what is feared.

The 11 Most Agreed On Facts

The following facts surrounding the resurrection story of Jesus are considered fact by most scholars today.  In fact, even informed sceptics of the resurrection of Christ agree that these 12 facts hold up as being true:

1)      Jesus Christ died from the debilitating effects of scourging and the crucifixion on the cross.

 2)      The disciples were totally despondent and indicated their loss of all hope by their actions and the witness of the Holy Scriptures.

 3)      Jesus was literally buried dead.

 4)      Many reputable scholars agree as fact that Jesus’s tomb was found empty a few days after his death.

 5)      The disciples who ran in fear and believed Jesus dead and gone boldly carried Christ’s message to the world, even when facing death to do so.

 6)      They taught a physical resurrection unashamedly and this claim is the center of Christianity today.

 7)      The disciples. as many as 500 at one time, claimed seeing the risen Jesus.

 8)      The disciples claimed the resurrection in the very city where the resurrection and those crucifying Christ lived without experiencing resistance to the claim.

 9)      The church spread quickly rather than the movement dying down after loss of the leader.

 10)   James, Jesus’ brother, went from an unbeliever to a believer after the resurrection.

 11)   The Apostle Paul, a chief Pharisee and the killer and persecutor of Christians, became one of the greatest Christians and major author of the New Testament.

The vast majority of doubt about the resurrection of Christ revolves around lack of reputable knowledge on the subject.

It must be remembered here that the best of scholars and learned skeptics agree on the above facts. No critic, from the 1st century until today has ever been successful in refuting the above facts.

Conclusion to This Brief Blog Post

Further reading and study of current research will inform the reader of the defense of the Resurrection of Christ and the researcher will discover that no proof claim to the falsity of the resurrection has ever held up.  Don’t take my word for it.  Look at the research.  You can find reputable books on the subject by searching for the resurrection of Christ on Amazon or at your local library.

Next post, we will consider another issue that many Christians face.

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  What are some other issues Christians are challenged by today?

A Tumbleweed Christmas

January 4, 2014

The following article was written by a good friend of mine, Bradley White.  I also asked Bradley if he would bless my readership with his testimony.  He graciously agreed to do so.  I have included his testimony at the end of his article below:

 

by Bradley White

For most people around the world Christmas is a time of joy, family gatherings, giving, receiving and enjoying food that is generally too rich and served in great quantities.

There will be hectic shopping sprees and “to do” lists a mile long. Some will spend enormous amounts of time, money and effort as they scrounge through dark, dusty attics and garages searching for carefully packed decorations that they have accumulated over the years. I have spent many an hour performing the same routine each year. For me, however, this year will be very different. In the last year or so I have suffered the loss of my aunt, grandmother, uncle and my mother just a few weeks ago. You see, this will be the first Christmas in 48 years I will be spending without my mother.

“We were broke, we did not receive many gifts but Mom and Dad found a way to make that Christmas my favorite.”

I could simply not celebrate. In fact, until this morning that was exactly what I intended to do. However, for some reason, I thought about tumbleweeds. My mind was changed and I started decorating today. I guess, someway or somehow, my Mother dropped a memory in my heart and mind. It is suddenly 1968 and I am 4 years old again. I am transported back to Monahans, Texas where my mother worked as a legal secretary and my father owned his own business. He was a Master Electrician. I remember that year our family was broke. Dad was struggling in his business and my parents explained that our Christmas was going to be extremely lean. I was only 4 but I will never forget the night Dad said, “You all pop some popcorn. I’ll be back in a little bit.”

We, with Mom’s help, popped popcorn and in about an hour Dad came home. In his hand was a sack from the local market. He handed the bag to Mom and asked my brother and me to help him get something out of the car. In the trunk of the car were three tumbleweeds. One was large, another a little smaller and the third smaller still. We dutifully carried them into the den of our home. You may have guessed the rest of the story. While Dad was assembling the weeds, Mom opened the bag revealing six or seven cans of artificial, spray-on snow. We all took turns transforming the dead weeds into a beautiful, snow covered tree. My sister and Mom began stringing popcorn while being careful to instruct my brother and me on ways to place ornaments. As always, Dad enjoyed the honor of placing the angel at the top of the tree.

We were broke, we did not receive many gifts but Mom and Dad found a way to make that Christmas my favorite. I will never forget our Tumbleweed Christmas!

My father died of a heart attack in 1978. I was 13 and he was just 43 years old. After 34 years, Mom and Dad will enjoy another Christmas together. If there are tumbleweeds in Heaven, I think Dad will build a tumbleweed Christmas tree for Mom. Only this time, they are not broke and they will feast and look down and enjoy their kids, grand-kids and great grand-kids.

Here’s to all! Wishing you a very Tumbleweed Christmas.

 

Here is Bradley’s testimony as promised:

 

by Bradley White

My name is Bradley White.  I have been asked to give my testimony by Pastor Zach.

We all go through trials and, to each of us, it seems to always be a “trial by fire” no matter the situation.  Here is what God has seen me through in the past few years.

In December of 2007, I moved back home to Abilene, Texas with my mother.  She, along with failing health went with me because her Mother, my Grandmother was in her nineties and needed constant care.  We’ll call my Grandmother “Momo” because that is what I called her.  When we got to Abilene, things were tough.  I was having health issues as well.  While caring for Momo, I was finally diagnosed with a brain aneurysm…after almost 20 years of mis-diagnoses.  One day, while driving to work, I lost my vision and underwent brain surgery in 2009.  I looked like Frankenstein!  Still caring for Momo even with staples in my head.

Then the heart issues started.  Suffice it to say, since 2011 I have suffered four heart attacks and underwent triple bypass surgery.  During this time,  I lost my Aunt, Momo, Uncle, Mom, and another Grandmother.  I ended up back in New Mexico where, due to family disfunction, I ended up homeless and without a job.

I found myself in Ruidoso, NM on the street with no place to stay and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”!  But God had a different plan.  I was given Pastor Zach’s number by the local police department.  He saw to it that I had a place to stay for that night.

I believe that was in June of 2013.  Shortly thereafter, I went to California to care for an elderly friend.  That didn’t work out, however.  BUT, it was all still in God’s plan.

You see, years ago, I lived in California for about 16 years.  In that time I was a Minister of Music.  Long story short, I stopped going to church and went through a divorce.  I gave up singing and playing for God.  Instead, I became a professional pianist for another 16 years or so.

What I didn’t know was that a young man that I had ministered to in that church had been looking for me for 16 years.  He knew I was in New Mexico and every time he would visit the state, he would look through phone books in his hotel room to try and find me.

You see, I met Laban when he was two years old.  His Mom visited our church and asked me to hold him.  I took the toe-headed two year old and he immediately clung to me and put his head on my shoulder.  I’ve never been the same since.  Have you ever had that instant connection with another human being?  If you haven’t, hold on because you’ll never be the same.

When I was in California, Laban found me on Facebook.  Immediately contacted me and made plans for me to fly to Georgia where I now live.  I’ll never forget the night I landed…

We drove home and stayed up all night talking, catching up.  As soon as we got to the house, he said, “Come here I have something for you.”  We walked to his and his wife’s bedroom and he reached up on the chest of drawers and handed me something.

It was MY Bible!  When I left California 16 plus years before I left my Bible on one of the pews in the church.  He went through the Army, several moves but never lost my Bible.  By the way, he was 12 years old when he saw my Bible on the pew and “snatched it up”…his words.  He told me later that night that the reason he was so drawn to me was because I always had a kind word for him when he was growing up.  Kind words go a long way, my friends.

That was in August of 2013.  I now have a great job making very good money.  Have purchased a new car and am back in church worshipping God.  God is truly amazing.

Please remember, you may be down but you’re NEVER alone!

Pastor Zach is adding this testimony to a post of a short story that I wrote about a month after my Mother passed.  It is a true story.  I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you, Pastor Zach for showing me the true love of Jesus!  I consider you a very dear friend and a true man of God.

 

Editor’s note:  If any of you would care to personally write a line to Bradley White, just click on the Contact Us at the top of the page and I will personally forward all correspondence to him.  He would love hearing from you.

 

ENCOURAGE US:  Would you please share your testimony with the group in the comments?

Hello and welcome back!

It’s always good to have the opportunity to share with you!

I hope your Christmas was all that you had hoped it would be and that this New Year will present you with a prosperous 365 days in the Lord!

Today’s topic revolves around the 1st century church and the Western church today.  How close is Western Christianity to the 1st century church?

Let’s take a look at some of the stand out differences.

Community

When we consider Acts 2:26-27, we see that they worshiped in the temple complex daily, met in houses to pray, study, and eat together and spent time in fellowship on a daily basis.  People were being saved daily and joined the Christian ranks.

This tells me that the early church took community and assembling themselves together very seriously.

Tolerance

In today’s post-modern world, tolerance and political correctness has become the order of the day.  I may be wrong, but it just appears to me that the 21st century church is more tolerant to open sin and unrepentant sinning that it was in the 1st century church.  Do you see it that way?

I mean, Paul was pretty plain in I Cor. 5:1-7 and there should be no interpretation problem in what those 7 verses state.

Discipleship

The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:25 25 It is sufficient for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant or slave like his master. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub [master of the dwelling], how much more will they speak evil of those of His household.

We also read in Matthew 10:42 42  And whoever gives to one of these little ones [in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water because he is My disciple, surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.

Matthew 16:24 (AMP) 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

There it is.  A 1st century view of discipleship.  Read the three verses above and ask yourself: “Am I doing this?”  If not, why not?

 Love

 The Bible tells us this about love: Romans 12:9-10 (NIV)  9  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

We also read in the Bible at Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)
9  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Just look at what the bible teaches us in Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
8  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
9  The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
10  Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

“Finally, search yourself…”

There it is.  1st century truth written by the Holy Spirit through man.  This is the commandment that fulfills all of the other commandments in the Old Testament.

How close is Western Christianity in following the above Scriptures?  How close is your church in living out these Scriptures?

Finally, search yourself for it is between you and God.  You are not out to please man, but to please God.  Are you comfortable with how you are living out the above Scriptures?

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  What is your opinion of this article?