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Does It Really Say That?
Feb 23, 2017

Does It Really Say That?

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” – 1st Timothy 2:1-3

Once George Washington’s Birthday celebration, and then combined with Abraham Lincoln’s, Presidents’ Day now celebrates all US Presidents on the third Monday of February. The Bible has something to say about respect for leaders such as US Presidents.
A vocal and sometimes violent large number of protestors of the most recent presidential election are often shouting, “Not my president!” Despite their passionate and angry feelings, 1st Timothy and Romans have much to say about all rulers like presidents. What is more, this was written when some pretty wicked rulers governed the populated world, known as Caesars. You could not get much more evil rulers than some of the particular Caesars.
The Apostle Paul urges Christians to pray “with supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” The current behavior of many in our country is contrary to Paul’s admonition. Some may even well consider themselves to be Christian, but obviously, by their personal behavior and thought, do not count the Scriptures to be sufficient authority to advise them.
In another of his epistles, Romans, Paul writes, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Apparently, God “instituted” (installed, raised up) the last President as well as the current one. Paul declares that “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Those are pretty forceful and clear warnings. Of course, the word “resist” must be understood as to exactly what such resistance entails from those righteous followers in God’s eyes. However, it is very clear you are to pray earnestly, genuinely, and respectfully for such leaders even if you are at odds with their policies, demeanor, or governance. Do I understand this? Not entirely. But am I called to obey the Sovereign God of all creation? Yes.
So we think to ourselves as we read these Scriptures, “Does it really say this?” Yes, it does. And these Scriptures are written for your edification and obedience, upon the warning of judgment if they be ignored or disobeyed. It calls us to review our thoughts and behavior in regards to the current President, and to review our prayer habits. How frequently do we pray for the President and for our leaders, and for what do we pray for them and for ourselves under their leadership? Will praying for him and them sanctify your perspective? I dare say it will. You will have to determine the effect of your earnest prayer life on your own perspectives.
Let me suggest the line of your prayer requests: pray for the President’s salvation; you may not know his true spiritual condition. Pray that his salvation may be borne out in the lives of all citizens under him (“that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way”). Pray that he may have reasonable, spiritual, and physical success in governing. Pray this for other pertinent and relevant leaders as well. Pray this for judges, especially Supreme Court Justices, who determine life and death issues.
God calls us, of the highest priority, to be prayer warriors; that his kingdom come, that his will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Call yourself to prayer, as God calls you to prayer. Pray regularly, pray passionately, pray with believing faith. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man, avails much. Your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.

“Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring; for his grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much, none can ever ask too much.”
(2nd verse of John Newton’s hymn, “Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare,” 1779)

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Hard Work
Feb 17, 2017

Hard Work

Work has been a part of God’s design for mankind since the very beginning. Even before the fall, Adam’s job was to take care of the earth and the animals, and Eve’s job was to help Adam. Sometimes we might think our “perfect world would consist of relaxing in a king size bed, donut (or other snack) in-hand, while binge watching our favorite shows on Netflix. However, even the actual perfect world that God created was anything but lazy. In fact, God is working in the very first sentence of the very first book of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Bible is full of wisdom regarding work. You can find this subject throughout both the Old and New Testaments; The Apostle Paul has some particularly insightful thoughts on the matter. In Ephesians 2, he writes, “For we are His workmanshipcreated in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Our very beings are the result of God’s work, and He made us to work hard for him. Even before we were born, He established good works for us to do in His name. In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. He lays out a very practical guideline here. If you want to eat, you have to work; it’s very simple, but very profound. Talk about accountability! In Colossians 3, he admonishes, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Working hard isn’t just something we do at our jobs; we are called to work hard at everything we do because it is for God. Meeting new people, cleaning the locker room, cooking dinner, delivering the presentation, taking care of your garden, walking a mile – whatever you are doing, you ought to be doing it whole-heartedly for the Lord, not for yourself or anyone around you.
Our work ethic can be a witness to non-believers around us. Unfortunately, many of us do not put others’ interests above our own in their work, conduct ourselves in an honest fashion, or really put forth 100% effort. When we work in this manner, people will notice a difference and wonder what it is. We will find ourselves in situations that allow us to tell others about the reason we work so hard – Jesus!
Colossian 3:23, which says “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,  was a favorite verse of our founder, Paul Anderson.  Paul understood the transformational value of a strong work ethic.  He promoted vocational education as a means to acquire skills necessary to engage in worthwhile occupations, giving a young man the opportunity to “work heartily in our free enterprise society and reap the satisfaction of a job well done.
We know we are supposed to work hard, but our flesh pulls us toward mindlessness and complacency. Laying around and aimlessly scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed sounds so much more appealing than the discipline it takes to concentrate on a task and carry it through to completion. So how do we train ourselves to become hard workers? The experts at Christianity Today suggest the following tips:

  1. Work six days a week.

God set the example in Genesis; work six days, and rest on the seventh. Often, we find ourselves working toward rest when we should be resting toward work. In other words, instead of working all week for the reward of the weekend, we ought to think of our weekend rest as our preparation for the hard work we are to accomplish throughout the rest of the week. Rest is a gift from God, and should be used to energize our work for Him.

  1. Plan your work.

Sit down and schedule your work for the week first thing every Monday morning. Write it on your desk calendar, save it in the agenda on your phone, create a to-do list, etc. – whatever system works best for you. Stay organized and set reminders for yourself throughout the week. This will keep you focused and less likely to get distracted or lazy.

  1. Work in segments.

It’s okay to take small breaks during your work. Brief pauses can actually improve the quality of your work, and leave you feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally refreshed. Decide ahead of time when you will take your breaks, and set alarms so that you won’t be constantly watching the clock. Once the break is over, pick up where you left off.

  1. Keep a work log.

Keep track of both your current and completed tasks. You can write this down in a journal, type it up in an app or on your computer, or find some other means that allows you organize your tasks efficiently. Doing so will keep you on track and  help identify distractions. Consider sharing your task list with someone else; knowing that another person is aware of what you are doing will hold you accountable and prevent laziness.
Practice these four tips and pray for a godlier work ethic and an eternal mindset. While there is no doubt that God values and commands our hard work, it is important to remember that He is a gracious God as well. We work hard as a form of obedience and worship, not to earn His love. No matter how much or how little hard work we put forth, God loves us the same. The truth of the matter is that even our best hard work isn’t good enough for Him, but He loves us just as deeply. We must never use grace as an excuse to not work hard because “God will love us anyway, but we should also guard against legalism and falling into the trap of trying to earn His love. Instead, we should work hard out of an overflow of love and gratitude to God for His graciousness in our lives. In our performance-driven culture, this can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is of utmost importance, helping us to learn and relate to the character of God. As it says in 1 Peter 2, “Live in freedom, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. With the Lord’s help, you can (and should) do both!

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Living And Dying In An Inhospitable World
Feb 16, 2017

Living and Dying in an Inhospitable World

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:22-25

Published in the early weeks of 2017, “The Lost City of the Monkey God” (discovered in 2015, less than two years ago) is the true story of a lost city in the impenetrable jungle of eastern Honduras, lost for 500+ years when its inhabitants suddenly disappeared. It is an exciting, page-turning story of the history of a people who built a truly magnificent, ancient Mayan-type city bordered by mountains, where the outside world had to work hard to even get there. The city, which had a sister city (still unexplored) in a valley close by, had been reclaimed by an indefatigable jungle, so much so that the only way it was found was using Lidar, a recently invented radar-type machine used from a low flying small plane which can capture images below the thick jungle canopy, images in this case of a vastly overgrown large city which the human eye could not detect. It is a mystery why the “White City,” as it is also known, was abandoned over 500 years ago, though there are promising theories, such as devastating disease.
The team of archaeologists, scientists, photographers, and support staff who heartily braved the dangers of this impenetrable jungle, swarming with deadly snakes, wild animals, and especially myriads of biting sand gnats, mosquitos, and other blood-sucking bugs, were beset with a deadly, disfiguring disease (not unlike leprosy in its disfiguration) known in many variating strains as leishmania; a parasitic disease implanted in one’s blood by swarming gnats, impossible to avoid. Many of the team contracted the disease which took months of painful treatment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with denigrating weakness to overcome.
Leishmaniasis may sound new or unknown to you, but it has plagued humankind for all its recorded history, even evidence of the parasite being found in Burmese amber, allegedly tens of millions of years old, probably infecting dinosaurs. Just as the Black Plague, Dengue Fever, Small Pox, Ebola, etc. has in the past decimated human populations in the tens of millions, so leishmania could and did destroy entire populations; and there is still no developed vaccination to ward off parasitic diseases. Leish, as it is called by some, is a global disease, affecting and infecting parts of the whole earth.
Yes, as the diagnosis of the results of the Fall reveals, all mankind and their home, the earth, fell under the judgment of sin and its consequences. You may think it unfair, or unworthy of a “good God,” a horrific result from the disobedience of only two people, but so it is, whether you or I like it. It is the condition of the whole earth and of everyone created and born into it. The world is inhospitable, even though there are many oases of delightful living in the midst of troubles, misery, and difficult conditions. There are no individuals, however, who have escaped the grievous affects of the Fall. After all, every human being dies.
Pain, thorns, weeds, thistles of Genesis 3 represent the difficulties of all of life thrust upon Adam and Eve as a consequence of their sin. Banishment from the Garden, a perfect creation in which to live, represented the loss of a life of constant beauty and sinlessness; and not restored until the renewal of a new heavens and new earth as a reward of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus, and upon his promised return in glory and majesty. Pie in the sky? A fairy tale of unsustainable imagination? You can think so, but the antiquity of God’s Word, its reliability through centuries of testing, its verified truth down through the annals of history says differently. Still it is faith which believes that God is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him, which is the real difference maker.
Faith, despite the inhospitable manner of human life; sickness, disease, death, accidents, failure, disappointments, tears, depression, addictions, murder, robbery, you name it; anything which well describes the human condition. Faith is the distinguishing factor of hope and promise. It is the substance of what is not yet, but will be. What is the alternative? Those who have no faith have absolutely nothing. I once asked an older neighbor who was near death what he thought happened at the time of his last breath. He responded, “Nothing! It is all over. I will pass into nothingness.” I asked, “What if that is not the case? What if there really is a judgment and life or punishment beyond the grave?” He shrugged. Nothing to say.
Faith is the only answer to unbelief. But it is anything but “pie in the sky.” Sincere faith is always attended by the reality and affirmation of a relationship with the invisible God and His Son who has taken on flesh. There are countless affirmations to the genuine believer of the existence and love of God; affirmations which have no other explanation, because, there is no other explanation than that God is.
The world is not hospitable. Life is a spiritual battle, and physically and psychologically painful. But faith overcomes this world because God is, and Jesus lives.

“In our weary hours of sickness, in our times of grief and pain, when we feel our mortal weakness, when the creatures help is vain, by thy mercy, O deliver us, good Lord.”
(5th verse of James Cummins’ hymn, “Jesus, Lord of Life and Glory,” 1839)

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adult hands key to child
Feb 09, 2017

The Legacy of Paul Anderson

He was the world’s strongest man. The history of Paul Anderson Youth Home begins with Paul Anderson Himself.
Watch his story above.

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Feb 09, 2017

Fire Insurance?

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

Is believing in the claims of the Gospel really anything more than securing “fire insurance?” Trusting in the reality of a heaven, having a genuine belief in life beyond your demise is cynically referred to by mockers as mere “fire insurance,” while ridiculing any assurance the Christian may have of eternal life. Hell, being the opposite of heaven, has been described biblically as a “lake of fire,” so attaining some assurance of avoiding it is by inference, “fire insurance.” Well, so it is, though there will be those who consider such terminology crass to describe your all-in claim of the Christian hope. Having faith in Jesus, having a love for all other believers, Paul says in this passage, stems from having a hope of heaven.
You can certainly put it as simply “fire insurance.” But it becomes so much more than this in reality when the great benefit of avoiding the punishment of hell fades in light of what transpires in your own soul: namely, an overwhelming unity with and deeply satisfying love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and, consequently, a never ending love for everyone whom He loves. All this because of your hope in heaven.
It may begin as a sigh, such as, “I do not need to live any more in utter fear that hell is a real possibility for me.” How your faith grasps the literal reality of hell and any potential of ending up there is too dreadful to contemplate. The hope of heaven may be the starting point for a serious faith, but when such faith blossoms into a love relationship with Christ, the despair of hell fades in the piercing light of knowing Him. The focus becomes not “I have escaped hell,” but I have gained the greatest thing in the universe; I have Christ.
“Fire insurance” actually becomes your last thought. It doesn’t rise to the level of what is preeminently yours: namely, adoption into God’s family through an intimate relationship with His Son, from which you can never be separated. The unbeliever, the skeptic, the mocker cannot even imagine what is chiefly yours; so the only description which makes sense to him in his unbelief is you are only seeking “fire insurance,” which he does not have, nor think he needs, nor understands. A skeptic, he is literally playing with fire, for his mockery will one day bring him to shame. His own tongue will condemn him.
“Fire insurance”? So much more! “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and declare in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Saved from death and hell, saved to eternal fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” With that in your future do you really worry about insurance from hell when you have Jesus, and will be like him through eternity?

“When I stand before the throne, dressed in beauty not my own, when I see thee as thou art, love thee with unsinning heart, then Lord shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe.”
(3rd verse of Robert Murray McCheyne’s hymn, “When This Passing World Is Done,” 1837)

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View Of Immigration Control At Changi International Airport
Feb 02, 2017

Successful Immigration

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.” Ruth 4:13

Immigration has been a way of life from time immemorial. Humans have been wanderers of the earth throughout their history. Nomads due to famine, food shortages and safety, and the ability to live and sustain life has often required this migration. As the world has populated, the ability to migrate has become much more problematic, yet still occurs throughout as some areas are especially more inhospitable than others for a variety of reasons, geographical and political. 

As wars have flared and the cruelty of man upon his fellow man has grown demonstrably worse again, immigration has ballooned once more into a world-wide cataclysm. The motivation to migrate appears to center on three primary factors: safety, the possibility of living in peace and under the order of law; and economic sustainability, the ability to earn or receive a living. The third concerns religious liberty, the freedom to worship as one pleases without fear of persecution. Consequently, migration is toward more prosperous economic environments where migration is allowed, and toward those countries where the rule of law is practiced justly to the benefit of the most, including religious liberty.

So what ought to be the thought and practice of Christians whose authority is the Bible with a desire to please God with their lives?  This is an issue over which there is great controversy and variety of opinion, but one to which the Bible speaks and enjoins faithful Christians to be obedient to God’s will. One of the most famous immigrants in the Bible is Ruth, who has a whole book of the Old Testament named for her and her story. In fact, a whole people, the people of God, known as Israel, were immigrants who sojourned for centuries in Egypt before returning to a land previously gifted to them by God.

Ruth, was a woman of Moabite nationality. She had married a man of Israel who had migrated to Moab with his parents and brother. Subsequently, her father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law died. Ruth, swearing allegiance to her mother-in-law and to her God returned to Israel along with her, becoming herself a migrant in a foreign land. Her migration was quite successful, as she married a Jewish man, and through her marriage became the great grandmother of King David. Most importantly, Ruth became an ardent follower of the God of Israel. This was true of her before she married Boaz, being evangelized and discipled by Naomi, her mother-in-law. Read again the four chapters of the Book of Ruth and learn from it.

The principles of a successful immigrant taught in this story may not and do not attend the immigration of many migrants, but there are some universal and biblical principles of successful immigration which can be learned from Ruth’s story. One of the most important is the principle of assimilation into the host nation. Some native characteristics are not necessary to change, but others will make the immigration successful, and if not pursued will likely cause it to fail. God makes it clear that the Israelites are to love the sojourner, receiving them as neighbors worthy of loving, and loving them as themselves. However, there are responsibilities placed upon the immigrant too. Some are, adoption of the just laws of a new home, the ability to converse with new neighbors, learning their language. If the immigrant has chosen to move to a new land, there is a responsibility to assimilate in such a way as to be a good neighbor: speaking the same language is key.

The immigrant must respect the laws of his adopted land and not aggravate for the overthrow of a just host government. This is simply following biblical principles found in God’s Word, to be good neighbors. They can keep their same food choices, same familiar culture and music, but being a good neighbor is critical to success and happiness in a new home. Isolation is never encouraged in God’s Word, unless it is to isolate one self from sinful practices of the world. Ruth and Boaz strictly followed the traditions and practices of Israel, ensuring that nothing disreputable could be said of them by the new countrymen of Ruth. 

The difficulty of Muslim assimilation into a majority Christian culture will arise from an unwillingness to curtail some of the religious teaching of Islam, such as that all other religious followers are considered infidels, ones you can in the words of the Quran  “rightfully” kill; any advocating for the overthrow of national laws and constitutional system; not raising up or pursuing a competing system of laws in place of constitutional law, such as what is known as Sharia law. Of course, the Christian does not accept any ultimate authority other than the Bible, which is consistent with the Constitution of the United States. But assimilation of Muslims will never be successful when there is an advocation of Islamic government that must replace this host country’s duly established government.

Our country is a nation of diversity, but the diversity is never adverse to the government of the land or to maintaining good order and discipline in the society. There is no room for such adversity in any harmonious society, as well as there is no room for prejudice or racism. It is an evil requiring constant vigilance to root out. But forcing a new system of laws upon an established government is a non-starter.

God has called the believer to seek peace and pursue it, until the King of Peace comes and establishes an eternal peace based on truth. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The pursuit and sustaining of peace never requires truth to be compromised. But we, believers and citizens, look forward to a City, a country, with foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Until then we obey Him and strive for peace with our neighbors as frustrating and irritating as that can be. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

“Great King of nations, hear our prayer, while at your feet we fall, and humbly, with united cry, to you for mercy call.”

“With one consent we meekly bow beneath your chastening hand, and, pouring forth confession meet, mourn with our mourning land.”

(1st and 5th verse of John Gurney’s hymn, “Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer,” 1838)

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