Satan’s Puppets

16 04 2017

The chief priests, elders and scribes who conspired against Jesus and delivered Him to the Cross; the Roman soldiers who mocked, beat and nailed Him there; and, the citizens who demanded His crucifixion were all unwitting participants in an event that would affect mankind for eternity.  In spite of having been eyewitness to many of Jesus’ miraculous works, they defiantly refused to believe He was indeed the Messiah and the Son of God. Rather, they felt Jesus was a threat to their power and beliefs. But, during His short mortal life, Jesus made it clear He had come to save when He said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17. Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan of salvation.

 

Jesus also made clear the path to that eternal life when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.

 

Sadly, many today do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, nor do they appreciate what Jesus endured on that day on our behalf. Many are as blind and clueless as those who murdered Jesus and do not realize the harm they are causing or the destructive road they are following. University professors, the ultra-biased media, non-believing celebrities, corrupt politicians, and others who use their platform to spread their secular agenda, striving to remove all traces of Christianity from our lives, are unknowingly serving as pawns of Satan. It is one thing to espouse an opinion; but to openly, or subliminally, deliver evil is a fulfillment of Scripture and their followers will follow them to an eternal hell.  

 

God’s plan hasn’t changed. Jesus will return, but not riding on a donkey as He had done on what we now know as Good Friday. Instead, He will be as a warrior returning to defeat Satan and all evil. Those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior will not be saved from damnation.

 

Because of His suffering, we now have been given the greatest gift possible-eternal life. It’s right there like an apple on a low-hanging branch. All we have to do is grab it. Confess your sins and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, many will continue to ignore His call.

 

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God’s Perfect Plan

11 07 2016

Maybe this would have been more timely as a Christmastime post; but, then I thought, what the heck…God is every day…not just on Sunday and not just at Christmas. Besides, if I don’t write it down the moment a thought comes to me, then in 3 seconds, it’s forgotten!

 

Like Tumblers in a Lock 

As the locksmith rotated the dial on the safe door, first right, then left, and then right again, each tumbler fell perfectly into place at precisely the right moment until the last one dropped and the door swung open. God has a plan and it’s amazing to watch each piece fall into place like the tumblers in a lock. 

 

Several times this past week, I have thought back to the last post, Migdal Eder, and realized how all the pieces to God’s plan, as always, just fell right into place like the tumblers in a lock. It made me think of Joseph and Mary’s arrival into Bethlehem. As nothing seemed to go their way, Joseph and Mary probably were unaware that everything was actually going according to plan-not their plan, but God’s. They were a poor, young couple; otherwise, no different from you and me. They rejoiced when things went well and despaired when it seemed the world was against them.

 

Here is how I see things going on the night Jesus was born. baby-jesus-christmas-nativity-wallpapers-1024x768

 

No Room at the Inn

Mary sat out front on the donkey as Joseph went inside to get them a room at the only hotel in town. No doubt, Joseph was distraught when he was told by the innkeeper there was no room available for him and his very pregnant wife. Even when he played the pregnant wife card, the innkeeper reiterated there was no room. 

 

“Sorry, sir, but you know everyone’s in town for this census thing and we’re completely full. I even have a goat and two camel jockeys sleeping on the floor in my room. We’re packed in here like a pimento in an olive. Tell ya what, my cousin, Farrad, has a farm just on the outskirts of town and he has a cave where he feeds his animals. If ya don’t mind put’n up with a few farm animals, you might check it out. Farrad’s place is out Old Jerusalem Road about a half-mile past Daniel’s Deli.”  

 

Joseph goes back out to where Mary sits atop the donkey. “There’s no room here.” he told Mary. “I told you we should have left home sooner so we could have arrived over the weekend.” 

 

They could have arrived in the middle of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; but, they still wouldn’t have found anywhere to bed down, because giving birth in a cave was part of God’s plan. Proclaiming the great event to lowly shepherds, so they could make it public, was also part of God’s plan.

 

Born in a Stable

Why? Why would God have Jesus, His Son, born in a stable and placed in an animal feeding trough instead of a palace or a fancy, high-dollar hotel? Why would He have shepherds, the lowest rung on the chain of humanity, spread the news of Jesus’ arrival? 

 

The reason is because Jesus wasn’t sent to attend only to the rich and famous. Jesus was, and is, for all humanity. Had He been born in a palace to rich parents, then the majority of the world’s population, who, like Mary and Joseph, were poor, would have had the feeling they were alienated from the promised Messiah. They would have felt Jesus was for the rich and he didn’t care about them. Paul wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) 

 

As for the shepherds, who better to bring the Good News to the poor than one of their own? They were poor but hard-working people who were unaware they were playing a key role in God’s plan to save all mankind from eternal damnation. And, because of their experience assuring sacrificial sheep were protected from any harm, they readily recognized that the child they saw in a manger that night, swaddled in a protective cocoon of cloth, much like a sacrificial lamb, was the Son of God.

 

God is in Control

Think of your own circumstances. What placed you where you are today? What made you who you are? We are, certainly, the product of our own environment; but, I believe that environment, and as a result, our individual circumstances, is all a part of God’s plan which is far too complex for mortal understanding. I know in my heart, I have God to thank for bringing the Mathews family to Wilson where I would meet, court and eventually marry the first-born child of Pete and Elizabeth Mathews. Results of the choices we make are still a result of those circumstances which were created by other circumstances, often beyond our own doing.

 

God is in control and His plan is still coming together. The tumblers are still falling.

"I love it when a plan comes together!"

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

 

In the words of the unflappable Hannibal Smith, “Gee, I love it when a plan comes together.”   

 





Migdal Eder: The Watchtower of the Flock

5 07 2016

I find it astonishing that with all the sermons I’ve heard, all of the Sunday school lessons I’ve sat through, and all of the Bible study I have done over the years, it took me this long to learn about Migdal Eder.  

 

First of all, let me give credit where credit is due. For my most recent birthday, I had requested, and was given, a copy of UNLOCKING the SECRETS of the FEASTS: The Prophecies in the Feasts of Leviticus, by Michael Norten. In this book, which I highly recommend, Norten speaks of hearing a presentation by Jimmy DeYoung, PhD., in which Dr. DeYoung asks the audience what was “the sign” mentioned in Luke 2:12. 

 

You will recall, the angel who heralded Christ’s birth said to the shepherds,For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” What did the angel mean when he said “the sign to you?” As many times as I have read that passage, I’ve never stopped to consider that statement.

 

The Prophesy of Micah

Around 700 years earlier, Micah prophesied the Savior would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Well, just ahead of that prophesy at Micah 4:8, he said: 

“And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”

Migdal Eder:The Watchtower of the Flock

Migdal Eder:The Watchtower of the Flock

 

This tower of the flock, translated, Migdal Eder, was located about a mile outside of Bethlehem overlooking the pastures where shepherds would graze their flocks. The shepherds could stand on the top floor of the tower and keep an eye on the grazing flocks. The flock, on the night Jesus was born, was no ordinary flock and the shepherds were no run-of-the-mill shepherds. These were sheep which would one day be sacrificed at the Temple. Remember, before Jesus’ arrival, one would symbolically pass his or her sins on to a sacrificial animal, often a sheep, which would then be sacrificed on the Temple altar. Any animal which was offered as a sacrifice had to be without blemish…no markings, no deformities. It had to be perfect. For that reason, the sheep intended for sacrifice were given special care by special shepherds.

 

When a ewe was about to give birth, she was brought from the pasture into the lower floor of the tower and attended by a priest or shepherd-priest. When the lamb was born, it would immediately be swaddled in strips of cloth, possibly torn from the priests’ undergarments. This unblemished lamb, destined for sacrifice to atone for sins, was swaddled in order to protect it from harm and remain unblemished. And, to prevent it from being trampled, it would be placed in a manger. Sound familiar? 

 

That was the sign! It was a sign to the shepherds just as the angel had proclaimed. When the shepherds, who were familiar with this practice, saw the swaddled baby Jesus lying in a manger, they knew right away this was the sacrificial lamb-the long-awaited Messiah. 

 

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story.”





KISS- God’s Plan Made Simple

3 10 2013

Yep, KISS-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwenty-five years ago, I was the manager of ergonomic programs for a consulting firm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was visiting a manufacturing plant in Dublin, Georgia to assist them with a non-ergonomic related issue. While there, the safety and health manager, knowing I was familiar with ergonomics, asked me if I would look at a seating problem. Hey, I’m thinking, it’s your money; for 150 bucks an hour, I’ll grill you a pork chop if you want me to. He took me over to a workbench surrounded by stools similar to the one pictured. He explained that the stools were new, but one particular employee complained every day about her legs going to sleep while she worked. I asked the lady to sit on the stool. When she did, I noticed her feet were dangling about six inches above the foot rest, which was positioned as low as it would go. So now I’m thinking, this can’t be that easy. I leaned down and adjusted the footrest upward until it made contact with the bottoms of her shoes and took the pressure off of her thighs. She exclaimed, “Oh, I didn’t know you could move that thing!”

 

Sometimes things are so simple we can’t see the solution because we are looking for something more complex. Both the employee and the safety and health manager were looking for a more complex solution and, thus, were unable to see the simple fix right before their eyes.

 

That’s the beauty in God’s plan….simplicity.

 

Look at the birth of Jesus. It was very simple. The newborn Jesus wasn’t surrounded by rich and powerful well-wishers. Shepherds, the lowest of the low, the smelly, wretched refuse, were led, by God, to the stable where Jesus lay. And as Jesus grew to be a man and announced He was the promised Messiah, many Jews refused to believe Him because they were looking for something on a much grander scale. They were expecting the Savior to arrive as a mighty warrior on horseback and wipe out their enemies. Because Jesus didn’t fit the model Messiah they had created in their minds, they felt He could not be who He claimed to be and rejected Him.

 

Many years ago there was an old man with eight sons. The youngest of his sons was a scrawny little kid named David, who spent most of his time tending the family’s sheep. Three of David’s older brothers were in the Israelite army and were involved in the battle against the Philistine army. Fighting had come to a standstill because the Philistines had a nine foot tall warrior who would come out every day and issue a challenge to the Israelites to send out their best fighter to do battle with him…mano-a-mano. And each day, his challenge went unanswered because there were no Israelites brave enough or stupid enough to go out and answer his daily challenge.

 

David was bringing lunch to his brothers out at the battleground and asked why there wasn’t any fighting going on. When he learned what the problem was, he told them he would go out and fight the giant. They thought he had more courage than brains, neither of which was going to whip a nine foot giant. What they were unaware of was that David wasn’t planning to rely on either. He was leaving the battle to God. We all know the result.

 

God has a reputation for accomplishing great things in the simplest ways. He took a little kid and beat a giant and with it brought victory for the Israelites over the Philistines.

 

The ultimate goal of all believers is, or at least should be, to live eternally with God. To achieve that goal, God doesn’t demand that we go door to door passing out tracts. He doesn’t tell us that if we are good we will get to heaven. He doesn’t require us to do anything to earn our way into heaven, other than to believe. Again, He has made it simple to achieve that goal. We must confess that we are sinners and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the promised Savior. That’s it. How simple can it be? Yet, here again, there are those who think there has to be more to getting into heaven than that. It’s too simple.

 

When I was publishing my book on managing safety, the publisher, John Wiley, sent the manuscript out for peer review. One of the reviewers, a long-time safety professional and writer, commented the book was too simple. Well, duh! That was my goal. It is widely held that the average reading level for adults is eighth grade. For that reason, I write for the masses, not the scholarly-a much smaller group of readers.

 

God’s plan of salvation is very simple and it’s simple for a reason. Salvation is for all people and it is made simple so all people, not just the educated, the rich or the elite, can understand and ask for the free gift of salvation He promised. K I S S !

God loves you





THE Name

10 04 2010

When my wife and I got married I began to try different nicknames for her. I could have simply called her by her given name, Carolyn, but I wanted to give her a name that only I would use for her; something unique; something no one else would call her, but at the same time, something endearing. It would have to be something with special meaning and that she would like. I tried dear and sweetheart but these didn’t feel natural. And because they were over-used, I did not consider them unique or special enough to use for my wife. At some point in our marriage, and I can’t recall when or why, I began to call her Babe. It fit and she liked it. So, that’s what it has been for nearly four decades.

The Origin of Names

Names come from many sources. Many names come from cities, characteristics, occupations, etc. If your name is Baker, possibly, somewhere in your lineage, you had at least one ancestor who was a baker of pies and cakes. Or if you are a Pittman, there is a good chance you have an ancestor who dug graves for a living.

We give people nicknames, and not always with the intent to flatter. Someone with red hair is often referred to as Carrot-top. Or if someone wears glasses they may be called Four Eyes. One of my favorite teachers in high school had a severe acne condition and was referred to, by some of the more heartless students, as Pizza Face. If someone calls you a “Benedict Arnold”, they are calling you a traitor, since the name has become synonymous with the infamous Revolutionary War general of the same name. A Jonah, in addition to being a prophet from the Bible, whom we all know for being swallowed by a fish, is also someone who is considered to bring bad luck, as Jonah believed he did to the crew of the boat on which he was sailing as he fled God .

Respect the Name

And people do not appreciate the misuse or the misspelling of their names. If someone sends you an invitation to a party or their child’s wedding, and they have misspelled your name on the invitation, you may be offended and decide not to attend.

Names once had meaning, and were held in high esteem. That no longer seems to be the case. We carelessly toss names around today as no more than personal labels by which we might summon individuals, giving little regard to the importance the owner might place on his/her name.

Respect THE Name

Sadly, this has become true with God’s name as well. The name of God, in its many forms, is the most holy and precious of all names. He tells us, in the third Commandment, not to use His name in vain. Many people take that to mean we should not use the name of God in a cursing or swearing fashion, which we so often hear. To say something in vain is to say it without real purpose; to say it fruitlessly or irreverently. The third Commandment is telling us it is a sin to use the name of God in any context other than to honor Him, call upon Him, or in some way to recognize His deity. It means we are not to utter His name without purpose. That purpose does not include swearing, cursing, joking or expressing feelings of surprise, exclamation or disappointment.

Hardly a day goes by we don’t hear in a movie, a song, a television program, or everyday conversation, someone use God’s name in a frivolous manner. Every week we hear someone say, “TGIF”. But they aren’t offering thanks to God so much as expressing joy that another week has passed-parroting a well-worn cliché. People will text OMG, or use His name in a joke, giving no thought whatsoever, to the person of God. Without giving any thought to what the word means, people will say His name in exclamation or response, or just to say it. We hear, “Oh my God”, “Thank God”, “Oh Lord”, with such regularity, it no longer has the significance God intended for His name to have when He wrote it on the stone tablets for Moses. If someone says, “Thank God you got here before the party began”, are they truly thanking God? Probably not. Most likely they are simply expressing their happiness that you were not late. Their attitude, more likely, reflects their gratitude that you were not late rather than one of thankfulness to God in Heaven.

The next time you sit down to watch your favorite sitcom on television, count the number of times you hear someone use God’s name in some irreverent way. Most prime time network sitcoms will average nine to eleven frivolous uses of God’s name in each episode. (This is not a scientific poll, rather it comes from my own experience sitting and counting the number of times I heard, “Oh my god”, on television.) In movies shown on network television, the network will censor some words considered vulgar, yet will not censor the use of God’s name, even when the actors are swearing.

Respect the Messiah

The name of God identifies the one who gave us, not only all we have, but all He has. He gave His Son and He gave His home to us. He is the one, the only one, on whom we can call to be saved. My doctor can save my body (thanks to his God-given ability) but he cannot save my soul. He cannot give me eternal life. Only God can do this. Yet in the everyday flippant use of the name of God, people use God’s name as if they are ordering Chinese take-out. They have made His name as commonplace as yours or mine and completely undeserving of reverence. It has become a part of everyday language for those who use the name in this context.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:9, when He was teaching the Lord’s Prayer, that God’s name is holy. It is to be revered and exalted and held above all names. By using His name only in its proper context we honor His name and thus, we honor God.

The casual use of the name of God is so commonplace we have become desensitized as to its importance and majesty. At the same time we are teaching our children the name has little significance beyond that of merely expressing our emotions. Thus, God is pushed further and further from the center of the family and His exalted position in the lives of many.

This is God’s earth. We are God’s people. Everything I have and am, I owe to God. The same is true for you and everyone else who has ever drawn a breath. This being the case, it is only fitting and proper that we pay the respect to God that He is so rightfully due. He is, after all, the King of all Kings. God has told us to respect Him and respect His name.

If you were called into the presence of Queen Elizabeth, it is unlikely you would ask, “How’s tricks Lizzy”? You would pay her the respect she is due as royalty. You would probably be tutored by a staff member on proper etiquette before entering into her presence. And it is likely you would refer to her as Her Majesty, or something equally majestic.

Revere the many names of God, as well as the Son, Jesus. Whether it’s Jesus, Jehovah, Christ, Lord, or Yahweh, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, we are still talking about God the Father and Jesus the Son. To use these names in such a careless manner is to show disrespect and dishonor. The name of God, in all its forms, is to be praised and used only in a way that glorifies God. If you call yourself Christian, then you are a child of God. Be sure He comes first in all you do, and use His name with the respect and reverence worthy of the King.

We are to respect the name of God just as we should respect the person of God. We are to use His name with respect and reverence. For some of us this means working to break old habits. Become more aware of how you speak and how you use God’s name and let your speech, like your actions, reflect how you feel about God.