Hello and welcome back!

As many of you know, I have been under the weather (is that another lightning bolt getting ready to strike?) and passed through a murky fog throughout the Christmas holidays.  I am getting past it all but still remain very weak and tire easily.

However, I am looking forward to the New Year.

Before you say,

“Here it comes.  Another article casting hype about New Year’s resolutions and about doing better this year than last!”

 What’s that?  Did I accidently hit a nerve?  I’m here to tell you that no, it won’t get better.  Not just from making a resolution to do so.  New Year’s Resolutions?  Bah! Humbug!

Surprised?  Wasn’t expecting me to say that?

Here’s the deal.  Nothing changes because you write it down.  Nothing.  Sure, it is good to have written goals but just what is a goal?  Is it a plan?  Nope.

A goal is something that you wish to accomplish.  A plan is a blueprint for getting that goal accomplished.  So, you ask,

“Is the plan what it takes to do better in accomplishing things this year?”

Nope.

I don’t care if you have a battery of assistants that you dictate goals to and formulate plans with for a month, you will not be one step closer to accomplishing even one of the goals you planned to accomplish.  Was your time spent in planning a total waste then?  Of course not.

“No one is happy about every little thing in their life constantly.”

Here’s another part of the deal.  Most people spend either too much time planning or they don’t spend enough time on planning.  What do I mean by that?

I mean, if you are an overly compulsive planner, when and where do you stop planning and start doing?

How long do you plan before you start to take action steps that the plan calls for?  If you don’t plan enough, in other words, don’t get an action plan down on paper in detail – how will you know how to logically go about accomplishing it?

Where is that golden mean?  That sweet spot?  Where is that motivation and perseverance to accomplish your goals?

Here is the last part of the deal.  If you are following Jesus, you have an advantage that those in the world who don’t are lacking in.  That advantage you have is the vertical aspect.  The God factor.  The Bible tells us that with God, all things are possible.

It is a truism.

As true as it is, however, it is only true – don’t miss this – if what you are trying to accomplish is in the will of God for your life.  In other words, it is God’s will not yours that happens.  It has always been this way and it will continue to be this way.  In the Garden where Jesus prayed for the cup to be removed he prayed,

“Father, not my will but yours be done!”

What is the secret for success? To know the will of God for your life and then to follow the path He sets for you.  How does one discover the will of God for their lives?  If you need to ask that question, perhaps you are not in the will of God for your life at the moment.

Why do I say that?  I say it because if you are in God’s will for your life, you wouldn’t have to ask it.  You would be in God’s perfect will already.

You might probably think,

“Zach, you don’t know a think about my life.  How can you say that if I am not happy that I might be out of the will of God?”

First, I didn’t mention being happy.  I said content.  No one is happy about every little thing in their life constantly.  But they can still be content.  Content means satisfied with your life not happy over every little part of it.

I can be content in my place in God’s will and still not be happy if a dog bites me on the leg.  Right?

In the beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are…”  Blessed in the Greek means happily content, satisfied, and filled. This is the opposite of being hopeless and bereft.  If you are feeling bereft, hopeless, and cast adrift in life, you are surely not feeling blessed, are you?

To be blessed, is to be in alignment with God’s word.

This is not to say that people who do not follow Christ do not have happiness.  They do.  Sometimes, they have happiness in much more abundance than a Christ follower does.  This fact does not defeat the formula for being blessed by God.  Happiness is temporal and fleeting.

You can be quite happy with a thing or a situation, only to become tired, bored, and just plain disillusioned with it over time.  Not so with the things of God.  Knowing the complete peace of Christ and to be found Him satisfies that place deep inside of you that nothing else in the universe can satisfy.

That is what being blessed accomplishes.  That is what that walk in the perfect will of God accomplishes.

         

With this scenario, your plans will not just get shoved to the back of your desk before you can follow them to completion.  When happiness fades, the intense benefit of contentment in Christ provides you with hope.  Hope is born in the love that Christ has for you and the grace that God has extended to you because of what Christ did on the cross and the gift His unselfish act bestowed on you.  The gift of eternal life with Him.

Jesus died for your sin.  He suffered so you could have abundant life.

Your sin was paid for when you first believed upon the name of Christ for your salvation.  When you confessed Him as your savior, because you could not save yourself, that is when the miracle of God’s blessings were materialized in your life.  Only you can restrict those blessings.

How?

You hamper the work of the Holy Spirit in your Christian life by falling into disobedience.  To disobey God is sin.  Sin separates you from God and His blessings.  The answer?  If you have sinned against God, repent.

Yes, repent.

Confess your sins, clear and make straight the path back into fellowship with God, and drop whatever ungodly willful thing that you are doing – and follow Christ!  Confession destroys the restriction and allows the blessings to flow in your life from God once again.

That opens the door for prayer for guidance in following your god-led plan.  This allows you to accomplish goals within His perfect will for your life.  True life change occurs in your Christian life as you count your blessings, persevere, take the necessary steps in contentment and watch those accomplishments happen!  They will happen because they glorify God, not self!

God bless you until we meet again,

Zach

QUESTION:  Where are you in your relationship with God?

Hello and welcome back!

Reflecting back over years gone by with the practiced eye of knowledge after-the-fact and looking ahead towards the unknown sea of events yet to happen – I wonder.

The old year is growing dim with age.

The New Year looms ever closer, brightly illuminating the open end of your tunnel of yesterday with the bright promise of yet another chance. A chance for you to accomplish that which seems to have slipped away from you like smoke into the clouds of the past year.

Time.

What is time, if not an illusion?  A mysterious wisp of vapor that marks your existence and separates your life into increments.

Reality.

Is what you see, hear and touch the substance of what is or but a shadow or visage of a reality that is yet to come?  When you touch an object, is it really there or does it have its reality in an eternity beyond and what you touch is just illusion?

Thoughts.

Do your thoughts originate within your mind of substance as something original and concrete of your own creation and unique to you?  Or could they be echoes from some vast eternity without end confirming that there is nothing new under your sun?

Knowledge.

Is knowledge the culmination of all that has happened since the beginning of time and stored within the fleshly computer that processes your existence or is knowledge beyond you and apart from you – emanating from a source existing before your creation?

Is knowledge accumulated over time by finite beings or is it granted to you by some great, uncaused, infinite cause of all things that has always been and shall always be?

The answer.

Can there be an answer without there first being a question?

Would an answer ever be sought without the question that begs it?  Which came first, the answer or the question?

Mankind is full of questions.  You are continuously seeking the answers to these questions.

Why? 

Good question.

If mankind is the source of total knowledge, why do you question?  To question implies a lack of knowledge.  Answers that truly answer the question implies knowledge granted.

This being said, what is enlightenment?

Enlightenment.

Does enlightenment come from within the person receiving it?  Do you produce the answer from a source of knowledge existing within self or do you receive the answer from a source of knowledge from without?

Does the questioner receive the answer (enlightenment) from self or an external source of knowledge?

If the answer lies within you why should you need to question?  If the answer already exists within the finite, why the need of a question?

Does knowledge stem from you, the individual, or did the knowledge exist before you came into physical being?

These are all questions that have answers.  Mankind, in his arrogance, tries to answer his own questions.  If he has to question, doesn’t this mean he doesn’t have the answers?

The answers are to be found within the Bible, God’s holy word.

God is omniscient (all-knowing).  He is the source of all knowledge.

Begin your New Year off right.

Discover the answers to your questions.

Read the Bible.

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  What questions are you trying to find answers to?

The “W” In Christmas

December 25, 2013

I wanted to share something with you all this Christmas.  You may have seen it before.  If so, please share it with those you care about.  It’s not anything I have written, in fact, it is my understanding that the author is unknown.  Or is He really?  All truth comes from above so — I pass on to you –this FREE gift…

——————–

The “W” In Christmas

Author Unknown

cid:X.MA2.1385918877@aol.com  
 
  Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations — extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas. 
 
 
  My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”
  I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
 
 
  So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
 
  Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment – songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
 
 
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage — held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”
 
 
  The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down — totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W.”
 
 
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.” Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
 
 
  For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
C H R I S T W A S L O V E
And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence…
Humbled by His love.
May each of you have a Merry Christmas and a blessed
New Year as you reflect on His Amazing Love for us.
Hope you all have a wonderful Christwaslove holiday season.
Wasn’t this a beautiful story?  Have you ever heard it before?
share it with someone you love and care for!
 


 
 

Hello and welcome back!

Countdown to Christmas is 8 days and counting!  Excited?  Not sure?  Well – let’s take a look at the Christmas pros and cons, shall we?

Are your Empty-Nest Years Christmases feeling lonely?  Children of elderly parents or surviving parent – do you know how parent or parents are feeling?

Christmas In The Empty-Nest Years

 “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.

The stockings had been hung out of Christmas tradition

The absence of children does not halt the decision.

No children are all nestled asleep in their beds

it’s many miles distant where they now lay their heads.

My dear spouse has passed and I sit here alone

With Christmas, old stockings, and a quiet telephone.”

 The above rendition of the old poem is taking place in 1,000’s of homes this Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be that way and that is the reason for this blog post article.

If you find yourself in a similar position this Christmas and God has graced you with the gift of mobility, here are 3 wonderful things that you can do that will brighten your Christmas and put joy back in your step!

Let’s Do Unto Others

…Give a gift to a child you do not know.

 Try as we may not to be selfish, we humans must die to self on a daily basis in order to allow God’s will to take place in our lives.  How can this be accomplished?  By following the word of God in such instances.

Rather than hibernate at home and feel sorry for ourselves (and let’s admit it, that is just what we are doing), we need to take God at His word and be doers of the word and not hearers only.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (NKJV): 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.

Let’s do that!  What better way to get out of self than to do for someone else rather than how we feel.  Here’s the plan!  How about going to Walmart or wherever you like to shop and pick out a children’s gift, no, make that two: male and female.  Have it wrapped and take the presents to the church of your choice, school, etc. and give them to the person in charge to give to someone they feel is needy.  What better way to do something for others without expecting the selfish motivation or expecting to get something in return.  Don’t even tell them who you are – let the gift be truly anonymous!

Visit An Elderly Care Home

visit the infirmed – make a new friend?

 If you feel lonely, think how lonely it might be for someone in one of the local elderly care homes in your area.  Do you already know someone who is in an elderly care home?  If not, just find the nearest one to you and take a Christmas present to a stranger.  They won’t remain a stranger long!

Galatians 5:14 (HCSB) says:  14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

 What better way can we show love to another than to pay a visit to an elderly care home and give some attention to someone alone on Christmas.  When we show love to others, we will be fulfilling Jesus’ commands.  Who knows?  You just might make a wonderful friend!

 Attend A Church Service

…what better way to celebrate the reason for the season!

 Are you a Christian and already have a church home?  Please don’t let loneliness or depression keep you from this joyous event!  Get together in services for worship and praise to Almighty God.  There is nothing that can get rid of loneliness better than being close to God within the family of God in collective celebration for the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

Again, the word of God states in Hebrews 10:24-25 (HCSB): 24  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25  not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

If you are not a Christian, go to a church and meet some of the family of God.  We are not perfect but we follow Someone who is and you need to meet Him.   I can pretty well guarantee you that you will not feel alone.  You know what?  How about commenting on this post and let me know how you are doing?  If you need prayer, go to the contact page on the site and send me a prayer request.  I would love hearing from you.

Until next time!

Blessings!

Zach

QUESTION: If this blog post fits you or someone you know, please put a prayer request in the comments.  I would love to pray for you or someone you know!

Hello and welcome Back!  I hope that You have the happiest Christmas ever!

It’s eleven days ‘til Christmas!  I made a decision this year—only reasonable portions and NO seconds!  Yep, I said it…the “N” word.  NO! NO! NO!

Why, you say?

I’m tired of being overweight, for one.  I’m tired of being a glutton, for two.  I’m tired of procrastinating, for three.  Oh yes, there are more numbers after these three but these are the main, motivating reasons.

THE PROBLEM

Somehow, I have slowly evolved from a 150 lb. 5 – mile a day runner to this 180 lb. couch-lovin’ blob that has mastered the defense technique of no-moves karate.

What is no-moves karate?

Let’s break it down, shall we?  You know what karate is, right?  Ok.  Let’s concentrate on no-moves then.  No-moves means just that.  No movement that is not absolutely necessary or desired.  Let’s look more deeply at the word necessary.

Necessary, according to Webster’s Online Dictionary, means inescapable.  Notice above: not absolutely necessary.  The meaning here is ANY movement that is escapable.

I practice that.

The other word necessary (no pun intended) for us to examine is desired.  Webster’s gives us this definition: longed or hoped for; felt a need for.  In other words, no movement unless it is longed for, desired, or a need is felt for it.

 I practice that.

THE SEASON

Holidays are the bane of every person considering on cutting down on the grub and increasing the exercise. Right?  Guess what?  It’s almost Christmas and New Year follows a close second behind it.

Dilemma: to eat or not to eat—that is the season’s question.

Most people around the holidays are quick to justify their actions by saying, “It’s the holidays!  I’ll get serious when they are over!”  Self-justification.  Is that Biblical?

Hmmmmm.

Romans 8:33 (HCSB) states: 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.

Seems that if I fall into the self-justification trap, I am trying to do God’s job.  I am not up to that.  I can’t even control my elbow from raising food to my mouth.  How could I justify myself?

I am going to quit self-justifying.  When I do that, I have to forget the old standard methodologies of the past.  No more Christmas excuses for me.  The same holds true for New Years.

Meaning?  I diet.

THE SOLUTION

What is the solution?

Trust.  Total trust.  I am going to trust the Lord’s word.  I am going to put my hope and faith in Him and believe Scripture, such as, Proverbs 23:21 (HCSB): 21 For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags.

Looks like the glutton

It appears that the glutton falls into the same soup as the drunkard, doesn’t it?  I suppose it is the excess, it is the disobedience, the lack of control because to indulge in either is to indulge in self-control.

Self-control or being in control of yourself and not allowing God to set your sail and decide your course—is sin.

The Bible says that I am to die to self.  In another place it says to take off the old man and to put on the new man.  In other words, I am supposed to put on Christ and let the old man die.  On the cross.

If I am in Jesus and Jesus is in me, I need to give up control and let Him take the wheel.

There it is.

The answer.

No more self-justification and procrastination.  Diet begins today, not after Christmas or after New Year’s resolution time.  I didn’t keep it last year, odds are I won’t keep it this year.

I begin now.  For the salvation of my health, my peace of mind, and my Christian walk.  God provides salvation in ALL things and the Bible says, “today is the day of salvation.”

“Father in heaven, I give up all control of my life and hand the wheel over to you.  You drive and I will act upon your word.  You give the directions and I will follow them, wherever they lead.  You give the orders and I will carry them out.  I trust you.  It’s in Jesus Christ’s name I pray,

Amen.”

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this post?

Hello and welcome back!

It’s great to see you again!  Merry Christmas!

It’s snowing again.  I just looked out of the window of my office and it appears to be going to hang around for a while.  That’s ok.  It’s almost Christmas!  Looking out the window again, I remember a Christmas past.

I was 12.  Christmas was just ‘round the corner and everyone I saw was joyous.  Looking out the picture window that night with Christmas only 10 days away, I was fascinated by the falling snow reflected by the street light on the corner.

Snow was falling!  Jolly ol’ St. Nick would be arriving on our roof in 10 days and all of the presents I had asked for would finally be mine!  I kept looking into the snow as it continued to fall and enjoyed trying to follow individual snowflakes to the ground.

“Hey son,” dad called, “Come here a minute, Mom and I have something we need to tell you.”

I followed one more snowflake to the ground then turned and went over to where my mom and dad was sitting.  He looked up at me as my mom began to cry.

“What’s wrong, Mom?”  I questioned while watching as she dried her eyes on her apron.

Dad reached out and took me on his lap and then told me the facts.  He had been laid off from his job that day and would have to leave the next day with some other men who were also laid off to take a job in another state.  Dad was an electrician and there was an overtime job that was hiring electricians and dad couldn’t turn it down if we were to survive.

In those days, credit was something people just didn’t have much of.  These were days before credit cards, easy home equity loans, etc.  This was basically a cash and carry world that we lived in and if a man got without work he went to where he could find it.

“No son, I don’t take charity, never have and never will,” he stated while shaking his head vehemently.

Since I was in school, mom and dad decided that we would stay behind and she and dad would decide what to do about things when summer came.  My younger brother was eight years younger than I was so that made him 4 years old that Christmas.

Well, I remember thinking that the end of the world had come.  Dad was going to go away and here it was only 10 days until Christmas!

Mom asked dad if he would run to the store before it closed for bread and milk.  He said that he and I would go get it.  That’s when dad handed me the envelope.

“Here son, this is the best we can do this Christmas what with me having to go to a job out of town.”

“I understand,” I managed to say.  I thought about the list I had written to Santa but I was old enough to know that he didn’t really exist.  I looked in the envelope and found a $20 bill.

“If you wait until after Christmas, you can get twice as much for that $20,” dad said trying to make me feel better.  I took the $20 out of the envelope and put it in my pocket.  “Yeah,” I muttered, “prolly so.”

We drove to the store that evening – both lost in our own thoughts.  I was going to miss my dad, especially on Christmas day.  We were a very close family and this was the first Christmas that my dad wouldn’t be with us.  Not very pleasant thoughts were crossing my mind as we arrived at Thompson’s Grocery Mart.  I remember feeling distinctively bitter that my Christmas was ruined as we entered the store that evening.

I looked at people laughing and talking, people greeting friends and neighbors with hearty, “Merry Christmas!”  I felt jealous as we sought out the bread and milk, found a check out isle that wasn’t too crowded and I was feeling about as low as a 12 year old kid can feel, I guess.

As we were preparing to leave, dad noticed a family preparing to leave at the same time.

“Merry Christmas,” dad offered as he held the door for them.  That’s when I noticed something.  The lady was sobbing and the man had a look on his face I couldn’t identify when I was 12.  It was the look of a man totally void of hope I discovered after I had some years on me and had experienced some of the highs and lows in this life.

“Is there anything I can do to help you out?” dad offered as we all exited the store.

“Not much anyone can do,” the man said in a hollow, ethereal tone, “they took the house today.  All’s we have to our name is in the car.  Three kids in the car and it’s Christmas.  Nothing anyone can do,” he repeated as he and his wife walked towards a dilapidated old Chevrolet sedan like people twice their ages.

As we walked up beside of them, I saw three kids in the back seat.  The hollow, haunted eyes stared back at me.  I felt something within my chest that I had never felt before in the 12 years of my young life.

Something inside of me guided me up to that window as the man started the engine.  I remember the look on his face as he noticed me standing outside his window on that cold, snowy, winter night. That look touched my heart.  He rolled down his window and bent out the window.

“What is it, son,” he asked as I just stood there shivering in that dreamlike moment as snow landed on my eyelids.

I reached into my coat pocket and found that folded up $20 bill my dad had given to me less than an hour before.

“Here sir, please take this,” I offered as he just sat there staring at me.

“No son, I don’t take charity, never have and never will,” he stated while shaking his head vehemently.

“No it’s not for you, sir, it’s for your kids – a Christmas present from me to them,” I stated as I offered that $20 through the window again.

He stared at me a moment then said, “Son, you sure?”

“I’m sure, sir,” I smiled as I handed the $20 into his halting hand.  “Thank you for taking it sir, I want them to have it for presents.”

He sat there looking from the $20 in his hand to me as I stood there grinning broadly and trying hard not to shiver from the cold seeping through my coat.  His expression changed from one of stubborn pride to one of understanding.  He looked me in the eyes and I sensed he realized that this was as much for me as it was for his kids.  He reached out and took it.

Clearing his throat, he managed to croak out a guttural thank you as he started the car.  He looked from me to my dad standing next to our car and nodded.

“That’s a fine boy you have there, mister.  You’re bringin’ him up right.  I thank you both from the bottom of my heart.”  They both nodded at one another.  He started that old car and pulled off.  I just stood there watching until I could no longer see the taillights.  I then turned and walked over to my dad and we hugged.

“Proud of you son,” dad whispered.  We got into the car and rode home.  I remember that ride like it was yesterday.  We didn’t say a word.  Dad was lost in his thoughts and I was lost in mine.  I remember thinking, “This is what Christmas is all about.  It’s all about the giving.”

Looking back upon my 12 year old memories, I think that was when I began to grow up.  I never thought of Christmas in the same way after that day.  I remember the Christmas Eve sermon Pastor Hinton preached.  It has stuck within my mind and heart through all these years.  That was a half century ago.

He preached on Acts 20:35:

“I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I knew when I heard Pastor Hinton’s message that Christmas Eve that had I heard the same message the Sunday before I would not have understood it at all.  I felt humbled sitting there on that pew as a 12 year old boy.  Christmas would never be the same.

I smiled.

Until next time!  Merry Christmas!

Zach

QUESTION:  I would enjoy your comments about when you first remember experiencing the blessing of giving over receiving! 

Hello and welcome back!

I saw something today that I would like to share with you.

I was driving down the street and noticed some activity taking place off to my right.  What appeared to be Christmas decorations were being installed by the city.  The closer I got to the intersection, I noticed that the wording on the sign read, Happy Holidays!

I understand the need for diversity.  I even understand the importance of social relevance.  What I do not understand is why there isn’t parity in America in terms of equal opportunity for Christianity as a religion.

“What?” you say?  “What are you talking about?”

I’m talking about an article in the Christian Post in on June 24th, 2013 which stated, “It’s illegal for Christians to pray in public school, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. But in Michigan, Muslims are being given special prayer privileges by school administrators, raising questions as about due process, equal protection, and freedom of speech for followers of the faith of America’s Founding Fathers.”

I’m talking about a school in Boston reportedly had a Muslim poem recital over the intercom instead of the Pledge of Allegiance on the 12th anniversary of 9/11.

I’m talking about a NBC news report on NBC News.com on January 31st, 2013, and I quote, “According to The Washington Post, about 10 Muslim students at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Md., leave class for about eight minutes every day to pray. They are part of the school’s Muslim Students’ Association, Principal Cheryl J. Logan told the Post, adding that another student is hoping to raise his grades so he can join the others.”

“As an American, I would fully defend the right of anyone who had the desire to worship a 1/4” wing nut if they so desired.”

I’m talking about the seemingly unfair practices where Christianity is concerned.  Is it my imagination that Christianity is being discriminated against in the public school system? By the government?

Am I just imagining it?

First of all, I am an American.  I believe in our constitution.  I also believe that the first amendment of the constitution grants equality to all religious freedoms.  Don’t take me wrong in what I am about to say.

I am a practicing Christian and I will always remain one.

As an American, I would fully defend the right of anyone who had the desire to worship a 1/4” wing nut if they so desired.

Would I be attempting to deliver the gospel of Jesus to this person if I had access to them?

Of course!

However, I would still defend their right under the U.S. Constitution to worship as they please if they refused to act on the gospel of Jesus.

Here’s the rub.  It appears that the United States government at the national, state, and local levels are running scared and being desirous of following “Politically Correctness” for the sake of being considered a cultural bigot.  I leave room for being wrong but I do not see any other reason for this post-modern behavior.

Here is my opinion – how I really feel about it.  Christmas is Christmas.  It is a holiday.  Christmas is not just a holiday, it is the birth of Christianity’s Savior, the living Son of God.  For Christians, it is one of the most significant of our religious holidays.  We want it recognized as Christmas not just a happy holiday.  When I see Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, I need a plausible reason.  I have not heard a truly plausible reason, have you?

I don’t condone bigotry or cultural bias.   I am a non-racist and happy that I am.  I am not approaching this question from any prejudices.  I am simply stating my opinion regarding the rightness of it.

This is a different type of blog post from my regular fare.  It’s intentional and directional.  It was time for a change!

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION:  Do you have an opinion on the above rant?

Second Installment:  God’s Call

Hello and welcome back!

ABRAHAM’S CALL

Abraham was living in Ur at the time of God’s call.  He didn’t accept the idolatry that was taking place all around him.  Abraham was a man, according to historical Jewish tradition accounts, under persecution for his stand for morality.

What we do know for fact is that God called Abraham as recorded in Acts 7:2-3 (NIV):  2  To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.  3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’”

Can you see the shadow of things to come in this call God gave to Abraham?  Think on it: this first voice pointing to many such calls throughout the history of God’s people.

“When God calls us, he doesn’t always answer the question, ‘Why, Lord?'”

This same voice called to Matthew who left his position during the course of his work and followed Jesus.  This same voice called out to Peter to leave the nets and follow Him.

The voice that Abraham heard that day was a voice that is a call to separate – to abandon the known and to walk into the unknown.

This was a call to walk a different path.

Such calls from God prepare the called one to grow.  Leaving everything known behind and obediently following God’s call forces the called one to become responsible, to pay attention to his surroundings, to expand his understanding without relying on other’s to do it for him.

YOUR PERSONAL CALL

Has God called you to action?  Has He given you a direction that He wants you to follow?

When God calls, be an Abraham.  Do not deny God.  When god calls, you may need to leave everything you know behind but God never calls without He leads the way to the destination.  To be a person who walks with God and not with the world, you have to follow His lead in order to be in fellowship with Him.

What does answering God’s call and following Him look like?

1.       There are trials and difficulties.

Following God means giving up yourself.  In other words, you may need to leave familiar surroundings.  You may have to say goodbye to family and friends.  You may be required to give up a secure material lifestyle to follow Him.  Following the Lord can at times be isolated from friends and loved once we are on God’s path for us.  Although we are expectant of unbelievable riches in heaven, the here and now can be rough.  To sum it up, seven words from the mouth of Jesus says it all in the garden, “Not my but Your will be done.”\

2.       It always proves to be for our own good.

Sheltered and surrounded by family can lead to weakness.  Strength develops when we find ourselves alone and in different surroundings.  We can discover how to handle responsibility.  Learning to trust God rather than self comes from being helpless and alone.  Total trust in Jesus grows faith.  When we release our grip upon the material world, we open the door to spiritual growth.  The world benefits too when we begin, through faith, to be salt and light to a spiritually dead world.

3.       The call comes with a promise.

When God calls us, he doesn’t answer the question, “Why, Lord?”  He may not give reasons for His call but he always gives a promise.  The promise is easily understood while the reason might be beyond our comprehension.  Let’s look at a call (command) and a promise (God’s promises are a guarantee): John 11:25-26 (NIV) 25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26  and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”  We can see the call being to believe and the promise to be never dying.

The promise is always greater than the price of the calling.  This is because He who guarantees is our Almighty Father in heaven.  Glory to His name!

(…to be continued)

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION:  Are you fulfilling God’s call on your life?

First Installment: Out of Darkness and Into the Light.

Hello and welcome back!

It’s great that you are here!  We are beginning a brand new post series!  This series will consist of several postings that deal with the life of the Friend of God, Abraham, the patriarch.

The importance of the life of Abraham in both the Old and New Testament is indisputable.  Without knowledge of this patriarch of the Hebrew nation, a great hole will be left in the Christian’s Scriptural understanding.

This is the purpose of this post series.  These mini-lessons will enlighten you about Abraham, the father of the great Hebrew nation of Israel.

Many passages in Scripture would be less likely to be understood without this knowledge.

Around 2,000 years before Christ appeared on the scene, in the city of Ur, Abraham first came into contact with God.

Abraham’s descendants sprang from Shem, lived in this flourishing land of fertile growth.

The beautiful expanse of sky in that region provided the best viewing for the wonders of the heavens.  This may be a possible reason they worshiped the heavenly bodies with a form of religion that wrapped around idols and a form of licentiousness that occurs when a people is out of obedience and community with God.

Through this one man, Abraham, God began the process of reconciliation between Himself and the human race, as he had done after the flood through Moses.

He separated Abraham and some of His relatives and sent the away from the place they called home towards a land they had never seen but that God promised to them if they remained in obedience to Him.

This happening occurred around 400 years after the flood.

The Hamites (descendants of Ham, son of Noah) were already in the land when the Shemites (the people descended from Shem, Abraham’s linage).

They settled where their patriarch, Terah, decided which was in the excellent pasture lands on the outskirts of Ur.

The detrimental effects of a people lowering their standards when confronted by a culture without morality created the slow but steady deterioration of the Shemites, Abraham’s people.  Their children who were brought up in these morally-challenged circumstances lost their moral compass.  The result was the gradual decay of the Shemite religion resulting in following the ways of the Hamites into idolatry.

Abraham grew up in this idolatrous culture of the Hamites and that cultures constant dilution of Abraham’s familial household.  Tradition shows that Abraham resisted the idolatrous lifestyle and the licentious behavior of this culture.

He came through the trials and tribulations of this culture and was chosen to be separated from this culture in order to call Abraham to leave the homeland of his youth and to follow Him to a promised land, to be set apart as God’s holy people.

Abraham was alone in his struggle to refrain from the morality and idol worship around him.  Grow in your determination to resist the modern cultural debased morality in which you find yourself, Christian!  It is a lonely walk but one in which God Himself walks with us, even when we cannot feel Him beside us.

Even in the lonely valley of this 21st century decadence – you reside, attend church, and work for a living.   Stand strong and uncompromising in the temptations of this morally-debased society.

God will see your faithfulness and will bring you out of the pit and you will be a light to those around you that reflect the true nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Like Abraham, God will lead you out of darkness and into the light.

Next Post: God’s Call to Follow

(…to be continued)

**These post on the life of Abraham will be found in the Bible study category**.

Until next time!

Zach

Question:  What do you think of this new post series?

Hello and welcome back!

How is winter treating you where you live?  You know – I have experienced three seasons in just as many days.

How?

By living in New Mexico!  New Mexico is a state where if you don’t like the weather today, hang around until tomorrow.  It is sure to change!

In fact, the only sure thing about the weather in New Mexico is that it will be different tomorrow!

Change can be good though, can’t it?

Think about your life before you found Jesus!  Oh.  You haven’t found Jesus yet?

Ok.

Hang with us while I discuss with those who have already found Him about how good change can be as a Christian.  Those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior realize that our lives before finding Him were pretty bad, right everyone?

I mean, walking on the pathway of sin was a normal occurrence for most of us back in the day.  One day, we were truckin’ along – doing our thing – when Jesus found us.

Everything changed!  We went from death and entered into life!

Now, ff you are still in your sins, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, and if you really don’t know what it is I am talking about, let me tell you a story.

” For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Time: 1st century A.D.

Location: Outside the city of Jerusalem.

Scene:  A hill called Mount Calvary.

30–36 AD     

A Man named Jesus of Nazareth is being nailed upon a Roman cross, after being charged with crimes He didn’t commit.

Those driving nails into His flesh are cursing Him, are spitting on Him, and are causing pain in His already abused body which has been scourged (whipped and ripped almost to the point of death).

Why was this man, Jesus, being treated in such a manner?

Let’s take a look at what the Bible, God’s holy word, says on the subject:

Isaiah 53: 1:12

Who has believed what we have heard?
And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to?
He grew up before Him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at Him,
no appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered His fate?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
They made His grave with the wicked
and with a rich man at His death,
although He had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely.
When You make Him a restitution offering,
He will see His seed, He will prolong His days,
and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
11 He will see it out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,

and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.

(This description of the Messiah was written through prophesy, according to most scholars, between 701 B.C. and 681 B.C.  This is more than 700 years before Jesus actually appeared on earth).

What we have just read is the prophet Isaiah proclaiming God’s word of the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ and the reason for His crucifixion.  He died in our place to redeem us from the wages of sin – death.

“I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned?  There’s worse people than me!”

Romans 6:23 – 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s love for the people groups of the earth was such that He gave His own Son to die upon a Roman cross for sins He did not commit so that we might live.

John 3:16-18 –  For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God [emphasis mine].

Condemned of what? You might be thinking, “I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned”!  There’s worse people than me!

“Just what are all people who are not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Messiah – the living Son of God – guilty of?  I know I am better than many people who attend church!”

Disobedience to God, unbelief in God, unbelief in His Son, Jesus Christ – through the breaking of His Divine Law – the 10 Commandments is what creates the guilt before Him.

Are you familiar with the 10 Commandments of God?   Here they are below:

Exodus 20:1-17 – Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Do not have other gods besides Me.
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.
Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 Do not murder.
14 Do not commit adultery.
15 Do not steal.
16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What we come to understand through the words of God in His holy word is the nature of God Himself.  God is Righteous, all holy (meaning set apart) and totally unable to abide sin.  He is perfect goodness.  He is love.  He is truth.

Any sin that is not confessed with the mouth, repented of, and salvation be asked for and obtained, ends in spiritual death and eternal punishment in Hell, the place where unforgiven sinners are destined.

“Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?”

Knowing this nature of God, we must understand that any sin at all, even breaking just one of the 10 Commandments only one time in our entire lives earns the wages of sin, which is death (See Romans 6:23 above).

Have you ever worshiped a false idol?  You have if you have ever put anything in your life above God Himself?  If so, that is what a false idol is today.  Anything you pay more attention to than God.

Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?  The wages of unpaid for sin – is spiritual death (Romans 6:23).  The only way to obtain forgiveness is to accept the precious gift of forgiveness and grace that comes only through Jesus (See Romans 10:9 below):

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus died so that you might live!  Read the Scripture below:  I Cor. 15:2-5:

 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Jesus says to believe in who sent Him (the Father) and to believe in Him.  He is the way to God and eternal life.  Check out John 10:8-10 below:

All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The above Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only way back in fellowship with God.  There IS no other way.

None.

Psalm 118:22:

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

Acts 4:11-13:

 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.[a][b]

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.

That said, can you understand the guilt of all humanity?  That all have sinned and unable to earn their way?  Below is what God says about it in Romans 3:22-24:

22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Christians, send an email link to those who you know have not found Jesus.  Post this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.  These are the words of the Gospel that lead to eternal life.

To you, the unsaved, I pray that you will read the above again, pray to God for the Holy Spirit to show you the way, find a Bible teaching church, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Need Prayer?  Contact me on Facebook!

Please, pass this along for those who are dying in their sin and need Jesus in their lives!

Until next time!

Blessings,

Zach

QUESTION:  If you are saved, would you give your testimony so others can be encouraged!