Three, Three, Three

22 04 2019

Biblically speaking, the number three is a perfect number. Three is used 467 times in the Bible, and arguably, the most significant USE appears in the Gospels and the story of the Crucifixion.

Gethsemane
The night before He was to be crucified, Jesus and His disciples gathered to celebrate the Passover. Following what has become known as the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. While there, Jesus went off to be alone and pray three different times. He agonized over His pending torture and was trying to prepare Himself for what was to come. But, as fearful as the thoughts of torment were, He knew it had to be, for our sake.

Peter’s Denial
Shortly after arriving at the Garden, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed at dawn. Of course, Peter denied he would ever do such a thing. To deny knowing someone you love is a great betrayal. But, sure enough, when asked by local citizens if he had been with Jesus, out of fear for his life, Peter said he had not been with Him. The third time he was asked, he swore he did not know this man, Jesus. At that very moment, Peter heard the rooster crow and, realizing what he had done, he began to weep bitterly. I can only imagine the torment Peter felt upon the realization of what he had done. But it was nothing like the utter feelings of despair many will feel when one day, they will realize Jesus has returned and they have ignored His calls to come to Him. At that point it will be too late and they will face an eternity of torment.

Three Nails
After being beaten, flogged and spat upon, Jesus was made to carry the cross on which He would be crucified, up to the hill called Golgotha. This, apparently, was the site for carrying out public executions. Jesus was one of three who would be crucified on that day. At the third hour (9 A.M.), they used three nails to nail Jesus to the cross-one through each hand and one through His feet. Three hours after He was nailed to the cross, at noon, the sky went dark and darkness covered the land for three hours until Jesus’ death at the ninth hour (3 P.M.)

Three Days
They wrapped Jesus’ body and placed it in a tomb. To be sure no one stole the body, the opening was sealed with a large stone and a military guard posted outside. Jesus’ body laid in the tomb for three days and on that third day, He was resurrected from the dead. That Sunday morning was the single greatest day in the history of the world.

Maybe that explains our fascination with threes:

The greatest moment in history!

• 3 Ring Circus
• 3 Is A Crowd
• 3 Dimensional
• 3 Mile Island
• 3 Musketeers
• The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
• Paper, Rock, Scissors
• The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
• Small, Medium and Large
• Ready, Aim, Fire
• On Your mark, Get Set, Go

And the list goes on. But I’ll say this…if you hear the loud sound of a trumpet coming from some unknown heavenly source, and you haven’t come to know Jesus, it’s 3 strikes & you’re out!

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Moral Rot

10 03 2019

In case you missed it, democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates recently proposed a bill that would allow the murder of an infant outside the womb. The bill, similar to one passed to rousing cheers in New York, was endorsed by Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D) who stated that, in the event a child survives a failed abortion, they would keep the child comfortable while awaiting the decision by the mother whether to keep it alive or let it die. Is this what we have come to – infanticide? Have we grown so callous to life we are willing to allow a newborn baby to lie unattended until it is dead simply because the mother doesn’t want to keep it?

 

We are witness to an erosion of morals in America. In a single generation, we have seen the wide-spread acceptance of shameful acts like homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Democrats recently floated the idea of legalizing drugs and prostitution. Lying and cheating has become as natural to some as taking a breath. We have seen the removal of anything remotely related to God from our schools, courtrooms and other public institutions. We have seen fellow citizens express a vile hatred for a duly elected president, and anyone who supports him, through acts of assault and violence. We have seen the increased snubbing of the sanctity of marriage and other God-ordained institutions.

 

Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” And if that doesn’t get you to thinking, consider what John says in Revelation 21:8- “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” All due respect to FDR, he was wrong. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, other than Jesus, said, “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.” (Proverbs 28:2 NLT) Perhaps we should be fearful of God abandoning America and her ensuing downfall.





Precision of Words: How the Wrong Words Can Condemn Your Soul

1 02 2019

The purpose of this post is not to enrage the Jehovah’s Witness, but rather to enlighten in hopes he/she will read with an open mind and discover that Jesus is the only way to get to Heaven. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6

The Precision of Words

Words have meaning. Well, that’s not exactly a profound statement; of course, words have meaning. But one can easily alter the context of a statement simply by changing, adding or deleting a word or two. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a confined space as a space which:
• Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and
• Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; and
• Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Adding the word “and” following the first two of the three elements, makes it clear that in order to be a confined space, the space in question must meet all three elements-not just one or two. Looking only at the first of these three elements, it is clear OSHA is saying that if a space is so small a worker cannot get his or her entire body into it, the space, by definition, cannot be a confined space. However, as a consultant, I have audited hundreds of employers’ confined space programs across the country and in about 85%, the employer, in defining a confined space, rather than simply quoting the OSHA definition, has omitted the word “bodily,” saying simply, it is a space large enough to enter. In so doing, the author of the program has removed all reference to size which means a 16-ounce pickle jar can be a confined space.

Now, if one were to read down further into the regulation’s list of definitions, one would see that entry is defined as having occurred whenever any part of the entrant’s body breaks the plane of the opening of the space. So, applying the erroneous confined space definition, when a worker pushes his/her fingers toward the bottom of the jar in an effort to scarf up that last pickle, he/she has entered a confined space. The omission of a single word-bodily- has changed the intent of the law and made compliance impossible. For that reason, whenever I teach people how to use OSHA standards, I make it a point to explain the necessity of recognizing the preciseness of words and the need to pay attention to each one.

Manipulating Scripture

Likewise, one can use words to their advantage. That is exactly what the Watchtower Society, the parent organization of the Jehovah’s Witness (JW) cult, has done. Where the JWs once used the King James version (KJV) of the Bible, they realized the KJV was not consistent with their beliefs. For example, JWs do not believe in the Trinity. Although, they agree that Jesus was the son of God, they believe He was created by God and not God manifest in human form. Nor do they believe the Holy Spirit is God among us.

For this reason, the New World Bible Translation Committee was formed. This was supposedly a group of five biblical scholars who were expert in Hebrew and Greek. It has been revealed that among the five, only one had any formal training (two years) in Hebrew. The remaining four never finished high school let alone qualified as experts in the field. But they didn’t need an in-depth knowledge of Hebrew or Greek to edit the KJV to suit the purposes of the JW. As a result of this committee’s work, the JWs encourage the use of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures as official JW Bible.

Look, for example, at Zechariah 12:10 from the KJV which states, And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

That same passage, in the NWT, reads, I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and supplication, and they will look to the one whom they pierced, and they will wail over him as they would wail over an only son; and they will grieve bitterly over him as they would grieve over a firstborn son. In the KJV, “me whom they have pierced,” makes it clear that the one who was pierced, Jesus, and God are one in the same. But because the JWs don’t believe that Jesus was also God, the committee has changed the passage to read, “the one whom was pierced” to support their theology that Jesus was not the mortal manifestation of God. Thus, denial of the Trinity and the Holiness of Christ.

Jesus is God

Another example is found at John 1:1 where the KJV states, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This passage tells us that God, aka, The Word, existed before anything else existed but also that Jesus (also the Word) was with God and was God. In other words, Jesus and God are the same.

The NWT, on the other hand, reads, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. Contrary to the text, Jesus was not a god (notice the lower-case g), He was THE God. The one and only true God. But again, to refer to Jesus as the Word would contradict the JW doctrine.

Finally, although there are numerous examples of falsified Scripture in the NWT, the word “worship” has been replaced in several passages of Scripture by the word “obeisance.”

The KJV tells us at Hebrews 1:6, And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Clearly, it was God’s intent that all, not just His angels, should worship the newborn Christ.

Hebrews 1:6 in the NWT tells the reader, But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

Obeisance means to pay homage to or to respect as one would pay obeisance to the queen, the mayor or a favorite teacher. Some texts even list “worship” as a synonym. However, where one might respect or pay obeisance to a person, the act of worshipping is for God alone. Remember the third commandment in Exodus 20:5, Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

Because JWs don’t recognize Jesus as God, they will not worship Him.

It is good…no, imperative, that Christians, charged by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) with helping others to find the Gospel, to study Scripture. And among the most important in our personal battle against false prophets comes from Revelation 22:18-19. 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Sadly, the Watchtower has done just that and, as a result, has led millions in the wrong direction. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. You cannot have eternal life if you deny the deity of Jesus.

Test the spirits.





Inner Peace: George Bailey’s Epiphany

22 12 2018

Psalm 127:1 tells us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…”

In this context, “house” is a metaphor. You can plug-in home, family, business, country…just about anything involving people working, living or just existing together. A family without God will break apart. A church without God will split. A country without God will eventually self-destruct because of its corrupt leaders.

Recently, I was watching It’s A Wonderful Life…again. Like A Christmas Story, I just can’t get enough of that movie. And it seems that every time I watch it, I see something new. On this latest viewing, it was the correlation with Psalm 127:1.

George Baily, the Christian?
In the film, director Frank Capra never gives us a look into George’s or the Bailey family’s spirituality until near the end of the movie. We don’t see George teaching a Sunday School class or Janie and Pete singing in the youth choir. We don’t see little Tommy sitting in the pew belching out the tune of Jesus Loves Me. We don’t get a hint of the family’s Christian values until Christmas Eve when George comes home in obvious despair. It is then, Capra shows us the Bailey’s are, in all likelihood, churchgoers. Janie is at the piano practicing Hark the Herald Angels Sing for the Christmas party and Pete is writing a play about the birth of Christ.

Although he wasn’t a money-grubber like old-man Potter, George Bailey did crave the things that money could bring…travel, success, a nice home and new car like the Browns have. Because of his love of money, the root of all evil, George goes into a tirade flipping tables, kicking furniture and scaring the dickens out of the kids before stumbling off into the snowy night only to wind up getting soused at Martini’s and eventually standing on a bridge contemplating suicide. Now, up to this point nothing has happened that would be hard to believe. Enter Clarence, the angel on a crusade to earn his wings, and suddenly, a believable story takes a Charles Dickensish twist.

A Different Story
Suppose we replace George’s epiphany episode with something a little more realistic. Here are two directions the story could take.

In the first scenario, Mary, fed up with his drunken tirades, kicks George out of the house and tells him not to return, bringing to an end the existence of the secular Bailey family unit. Mary has to take a job as the librarian and she and the kids struggle on her measly weekly paycheck. Pete, like his dad, having a thirst for the nicer things in life, is shot during an unsuccessful attempt to rob the Bedford Falls Bank. While Zuzu turns to prostitution to help her mom provide for the family. George winds up sitting at Martini’s bar every night till closing time, sharing double bourbons and a bed with Violet. Having lost his family, his family business, all his friends, his dignity and everything that was good in his life, George eventually jumps to his death into the icy river.

In the second scenario, Mary, a strong believer who is indwelled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the first of which is wisdom, tells the kids to pray. She then sets out to find out what has happened and solves the problem. George realizes that money is merely a commodity that is easily replaced and pales on the value scale when compared to friends, family and, most importantly, salvation. George realizes that in spite of his circumstances, he really does have a wonderful life. All is forgiven and the Bailey family lives happily ever after.

Being Christian is no guarantee the family will survive the trials they are sure to encounter. There is no promise of happily ever after for anyone or any family…at least not on this side of Heaven. But knowing they are walking with God gives believers an inner peace that will greatly improve their chances of survival when hard times come. It’s a peace that helps us to prioritize the things that are important in life because it provides assurance there is a better life coming. Sadly, it’s a peace you will not find in non-believers.





The Quality of Your Faith

28 10 2018

Dr. David Jeremiah spoke of people of weak faith who might say, “Well, I’ve tried everything else; I guess I’ll try prayer.” Faith should be our default mode and it cannot be quantified…either you have faith, or you don’t. It can, however, be qualified, or made stronger. What is the quality of your faith? When the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, Jesus told them at Luke 17:6, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Jesus was telling them they could accomplish great things, even with a tiny bit of faith. Having more faith doesn’t equate to greater accomplishments. It’s like exercising your body. There are over 700 muscles in the human body. When you lift weights, you don’t get 800 muscles, but you make the muscles you already have stronger. David Jeremiah said, “We learn faith by stretching our faith muscles.” When we exercise our faith, we don’t get more faith; but, the faith we have becomes stronger and, eventually, seeking God becomes second nature rather than an afterthought.

 





My Friend, Jesus

5 10 2018

When Don (that’s President Trump to you) was in North Carolina inspecting the damage caused by Hurricane Florence, he gave me a call and asked if it would be okay to drop by the house for a couple of hours on his way back to Washington. He said had a few ideas he wanted to bounce off of me and that he was also in the mood for some of my turkey barbecue. I had to turn him down because I had already agreed to a request from University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, to provide his team with a pregame pep talk in Tuscaloosa.

 

In all honesty, as if you needed me to tell you, I don’t really know either of these two gentlemen. I have rubbed elbows with the likes of Phyllis Diller, Larry Miller, Wynonna Judd, Jeanne Robertson, and several other celebrities. Well, I didn’t exactly rub elbows with them; it was more like we touched elbows while sitting side-by-side in a plane. I suppose it’s human nature to want to claim an intimate friendship with someone famous. Perhaps it gives one a feeling of standing amongst their peers. The closest I’ve come to knowing a celebrity would be my brother, Jerry, a local artist in Wilson, North Carolina. Oh, I did teach Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s daughter in Sunday school for a short while, but that probably doesn’t count.

 

Well, I don’t mean to brag; but, I have a very close and personal friendship with the most famous man that ever drew a breath. Not only is He well-known throughout the world, He is the wisest, most intelligent, kindest and most powerful man who has ever lived. In 1968, I saw Paul Anderson, considered the strongest man in recorded history, drive a 16-penny nail into a board with just his right hand. My friend can bring Paul Anderson to his knees in the blink of an eye. My friend can outsmart, outwit, out-debate, out-anything anyone who has ever lived. My friend is Jesus and we talk every day. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say, He is my Heavenly Father. You might say, I’m a son of the Son. Now, before you go all Joy Behar on me, noI don’t hear voices. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the audible voice of Jesus, but we talk nonetheless. He speaks to me through His Word-the Bible. He helps me to know the right things to do. He helps me when I’m in a jam and gives comfort when things are bad. I’ll be glad to introduce you sometime, if you don’t already know Him. He’s always open to making new friends.





God’s Promise to Protect His Children

14 09 2018

Life is much like riding a bicycle through the woods; there are obstacles you have to go around and an occasional hill you have to climb. The difference is, when you are riding your bicycle, you are in control. You decide which way to steer so you don’t run into a tree. You decide which path to take when you get to a fork. You decide when the hill is too steep and when it’s time to stop and take a break.

 

In life, we have to allow God be in control; this is especially true when we face adversity. To do otherwise demonstrates a lack of faith that He is watching over us and will take care of us. Relying on our own strengths is both foolhardy and sinful. We want things when and how, we want them. We demand instant gratification and often get exasperated when we don’t see an immediate answer to a prayer, or when we think He is ignoring our requests. God has His own timetable and His own way of doing things. We have to trust He will do just as He promised.

 

David said in Psalms 31:14-15, “But I trusted in Thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”

 

When David said, “…my times are in Thy hand,” he was saying he fully trusted God to care for him in both his present and his future. And, he had good reason to think that because God had promised He would care for him. That same promise applies to all of us who trust Him and seek His help.

 

Isaiah 43:1-2 says, “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

 

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

 

When we encounter hardships, or as Isaiah puts it, go through the rivers, God will protect us. If we try to swim the raging river alone, relying on our own strengths, we will most certainly drown. But, if we rely on God, and let Him be in control, He will get us through safely.