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Apr 28, 2020

Forty-Day Proof

“The Lord has risen indeed.” – Luke 24:34


The tomb was empty. What did it prove? Remember the soldiers and Jewish leaders widely spread a story that, even though they certainly knew better, Jesus’ friends came during the night and, under the nose of a very sufficient Roman guard, stole His body. The grave-robbers allegedly broke the “fatal seal” on the huge stone over the tomb entrance.

Anyone who broke this fatal seal without Pilate’s consent was condemned to death. So, what was there to refute this story which was being trumpeted throughout the city and the whole country? What proof had God prepared to present to the contrary?

There were supposedly forty days in which Jesus remained on the earth before returning to the same place from which He came. He left the earth through a disciples-reported ascension into the clouds, but what exactly did Jesus do during these forty days to prove His resurrection?

If it were you, to whom would you choose to appear? Well, of course, those who killed you! To Pilate, the cruel soldiers, the self-righteous Jewish leaders, the torturers, the scoffers, those who spit on you, and those who called you every demeaning name in the book. Revenge is certainly warranted, isn’t it? In some way, you must prove to them that killing you would not destroy you.

But your way was not Jesus’ method; He did nothing of the kind. His appearances after the resurrection were to His closest friends. Some were women, who were considered non-credible witnesses in that day; He also appeared to Peter and His eleven disciples a number of times, as well as His other close followers, His half-brother, and, according to Paul, more than five hundred men and women, possibly even some children, at the same time and place. It was a great variety of witnesses, and not one deviated from what they had seen. Why these?

This is a good question worthy of your contemplation. At the beginning, even His disciples wondered whether what or who they saw was really the Jesus they had known before the fatal cross. He convinced them it really was Him by the crucifixion scars on His body. Though they had seen Jesus so many times, two of them did not recognize Him at first while walking and talking with Him along a road leaving Jerusalem to Emmaus, but that lack quickly fled during His meal with them. He ate with them on these various occasions. It is interesting that in almost all of His appearances He participated in a meal with them.

Meditate on these activities of your Lord and Savior after His resurrection. Think now, would His enemies really have believed His resurrection even if He stood right before their eyes? Rather than believe, they might even try to kill Him again to show they could. Perhaps they would run a sword through Him or even cut off His head. After all, He had already been condemned to death. Make sure of it!

Though the proofs of a resurrection were overwhelming, these corrupt Jewish leaders refused to accept the eyewitness of the soldiers. They paid them handsomely to lie. No fear of God or the supernatural penetrated their thinking, fully evidencing the power of sin to obscure the truth.

This proves the deficiency of men’s minds and character. Real proof is no proof to those who will not believe because they choose not to, even when the proof stands right there. Sinful man is incapable of correctly analyzing evidence when he has pre-decided something is just not true; the arbitrary choice of the mind becomes more predominant than any evidence to the contrary.

Jesus ate with His disciples and followers to show them He still had a body like theirs. He was still man yet also God. His body was different some way in its constitution, though not in appearance or even touch, for He could come into their midst without coming through a door or disappear without leaving through a door. This is a mystery because you, different than them, have never observed such.

However, the forty days of proof have convinced every believer in every age from the resurrection to the present that Jesus is truly alive. The believer’s faith bridges the gap between the proof of eyewitness accounts and personal observation.

Jesus broke the bands of death. He lives, and consequently He will return. You will see Him in your flesh, with your own eyes, just as ancient Job declares with unbridled confidence long before his Savior’s death and resurrection.

Scripture accurately describes what God wants you to know about the forty days. I do not believe the entirety of these days has been fully revealed; it will likely be made known in eternity. What we do know is proof to your heart and mind that you indeed serve and worship a living Lord Jesus. The sting of death has been destroyed. Jesus lives and so shall you. The tomb was empty because He rose.


“Hiding in that secret room, His disciples full of gloom and sorrow, suddenly the Lord appeared. ‘Death is conquered! Dry your tears!’ Rising like the morning sun, bringing hope to everyone; praise the Lord His work was done. Jesus is my morning sun!”

(Second verse of James Ward’s hymn, “Morning Sun,” 1975)


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Apr 22, 2020

A Last Second Request

“And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’” -Luke 23:42-43


Easter has passed, but it is well worth your time to think once more of the cross. Recapture this critical plea and its answer which escaped the ears of many scorning onlookers. It is a conversation etched in eternity.

This was a very brief exchange, yet it still reverberates in the heart of many a condemned sinner, a soul coming to naught yet earnestly wondering whether it is too late to be saved after having ignored every previous opportunity over a lifetime. This was a conversation casting a lifeline to countless souls over the course of mankind.

He could not have waited any longer, for in a few gasping minutes he would take his last breath. Beside him on the center cross of Golgotha, he had first scorned this man along with his fellow criminal, the soldiers, and the onlookers, but now his outlook suddenly changed as he truly saw the man hanging beside him.

What precipitated his reversal? Was it the darkened sky? Was it the words of Jesus forgiving His executioners and scoffers? Was it the sudden recognition that this man really was who He claimed to be?

The thief had apparently lived a hard, dissolute life. He had been condemned for robbery and most likely murder, but there had been many criminal acts leading up to the final one. He had been a habitual ruffian. He was not someone in whom anyone took pride. Few really wanted to be his friend; he would win no popularity contests. And now at a fairly young age he was meeting an ignominious end.

He only had the breath to ask for one thing – one all-encompassing thing! He offered no confession of his sins. He did not repent of any deeds. He offered no rationale for his irresolute life. He simply wrenched out a request which rightly could have been ignored by the equally breathless Jesus. However, Jesus, who could read the thoughts and hearts of those He encountered, saw into the heart of this man in his terrible extremity.

Looking at Jesus, he pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” The response was immediate: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise!” It was a request of few words, yet they ring out through all the ages. No words ever spoken offer so much hope to the desperate sinner.

Do not think of yourself as so much better than this poor man. From the least to the greatest, all of us are dying sinners until we find life in Jesus. We all earnestly seek Jesus’ answer to us when we ask by faith, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” The dying thief spoke with genuine faith while looking into His eyes.

Jesus tells you, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” He also says, “Whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out.” I have talked to a significant number of people on their death beds, and when they confess, even so late, “I believe! Yes, I do trust in Jesus as my Savior,” Jesus receives them.

If you hear this today, do not choose to wait until the eleventh hour of your life. The Word of God strongly declares, “Today is the day of salvation!” This is not anything to procrastinate. Death can come to you without a split-second in which to gasp the request “Jesus, remember me!”


“What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend, for this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.”

(Third verse of Bernard of Clairvaux’s hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” 1091-1153)


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Apr 21, 2020

Nuts!

If you read our newsletter, you’ve read the story of the 101st Airborne and how they stubbornly refused to give up the fight, replying with a simple “NUTS!” when the Germans demanded their surrender. Just like the 101st in Bastogne, we can sometimes feel a besieged. Fortunately, we have access to the same weapon they used to ultimately prevail in the fight. Will you help support us through prayer and through your financial contributions? Your gift can change a life for eternity!


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Apr 18, 2020

Staying in the Fight

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

I was once asked what combat was like. Believe it or not, my answer described a feeling that I am almost sure a lot of you have been feeling.

“Will ‘it’ happen to me?”

“If ‘it’ does, how bad might it be?”

“What are my chances of surviving ‘it’?”

“What can I do to improve my chances against ‘it’?”

“What can I do to help others from getting ‘it’?”

These were all questions that found myself pondering for the year that I was deployed for combat in Iraq in 2005. Every day of that year was accompanied by a sort of very low-level hum of anxiety or tension not only for me, but for the people around me. How might I do just one more thing to improve the chances that we all make it back whole? This was a constant worry as we lived day to day that year, a year during which we were shot at in some way every day.

Every. Single. Day.

It seems that a whole lot of people these days have that same sort of worry. Although they go about their lives as best they can under difficult circumstances, the worry is never far from the forefront of their minds.

For me, in 2005, I tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t happen to me. Or, that it wouldn’t happen today. Or that if it did happen, I’d live. Or, if I didn’t live that I would be accepted into God’s kingdom. I finally resigned myself to His will being done.

I should have just skipped all the “ifs” and gone straight to that last sentence.

God is sovereign and His will is going to be done. I don’t believe for a minute that God will allow a virus to undo us. No way! What I DO believe is that He is watching how we as a family, as a nation, as a world are reacting to this.

In combat, we followed our training and common sense. We cleaned our weapons twice a day, we test fired at the range before every patrol, and we rehearsed EVERYTHING. It was what we were trained to do and it was common sense. There was literally nothing any of us knew to do that we did not do to be ready. That’s all we could do. The rest was in God’s hands, and He was faithful to us.

It’s not all that different in the current pandemic. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and keep your distance, and use common sense. It’s simple guidance that anyone can follow.

Just as importantly, if not more so, we must guard our spirits. Christ tells us not to worry in Matthew 6, reminding us that God will take care of His Children. That doesn’t mean He will spare us every heartache or give us a life of ease. What it does mean is that He has a plan, and it’s better than any plan we could have made.

Stay in the fight!

Col-Ken-Vaughn-Signature

Col. Ken Vaughn

Chief Operating Officer


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Apr 15, 2020

What a Difference a Resurrection Makes

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.’” -Matthew 28:2-6


How blessed you personally are to be able to sit down and read the four amazing accounts of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and also consume the commentary of the New Testament epistles elucidating what exactly took place and why.

Easter may be over, but now that it has passed, read them again. Be astounded by the reports of these eyewitnesses as a risen Jesus soon stood in their presence, speaking to and eating with them. There is nothing commonplace about this at all.

But your sin has enormous power! It numbs your spirit; it deadens your faculties. How many times did Jesus tell His disciples of His death and His rising from the grave after three short days? Repeatedly! Yet they were still totally shocked and demoralized when it happened. They did not have an inkling.

His crucifixion truly astounded them even though He had told them many times it would happen, and now they were hiding in abject fear right when His glorious resurrection occurred. A few of the women had ventured out to adorn His dead, broken body with sweet spices, but the men hid. Two even fled town, walking away to Emmaus.

Reading those four gospels, you must wonder why they were so dull to His warnings. Would you be if you were a disciple with them at that time? There is little doubt! Here are a number of factors which deadened their consciences and can deaden yours.

The primary was, of course, the power of sin over their spirits’ faculties. Their memories and understanding were clouded. They seemed to remember nothing. Their unbelief blinded them. Sin in you will do this, and unbelief is sin.

Additionally, the Spirit of God was not yet bringing “all things” to their memory. Pentecost had not yet occurred. They were not filled with the Spirit of God. Jesus promised “the Comforter” to them on the night He was betrayed by Judas. Remember that one of the peculiar works of the Spirit is stirring your memory to who Jesus is and what His exact words are.

The stupendous power of the resurrection confirmed in Jesus’ appearances – His teaching, His intimate fellowship, His eating meals with them – all contributed to the resurrection of their own spirits. Their recognition was brought to life.

These revelations, the laser appearance of Jesus to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus, John’s 3D apocalyptic vision on Patmos, Matthew, Mark, and Luke empowered these fairly ordinary men to write down their extraordinary witness to a living Lord. Their encounters with Him prior to the cross were seen anew through the lens of the resurrection; they fully comprehended now who it was they served.

So, who do you serve? “Jesus lives, and so shall I,” the hymn says. Do you believe it? The fear of death is gone forever. Even the deadly virus of the present has no ultimate power over you. Come what may, the sting of death is erased. What a difference a resurrection makes! Believe it in your spirit; hold it dear to your heart. You serve a risen Savior!


“No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life. Life is naught without Thee; aid us in our strife. Make us more than conquerors through Thy deathless love. Bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above. Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won.”

(Third verse of Edmond Budry’s hymn, “Thine Be the Glory,” 1884)


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Apr 12, 2020

Will I See You in Heaven?

As we await the time when we can resume some semblance of normalcy, I set up my office each morning on our screened back porch which overlooks the campus.  It is a common thing for me to ponder my life in this place, on this hill.

There have been many young men who have passed through our home and I have often asked myself the same question: will I see them in Heaven?  My imaginative thought immediately becomes one of our reminiscing about the time we spent on these grounds, in this home, together.

When they leave us, I always ask the Lord the same question: did we plant those seeds of truth deeply enough? We desire for each of our precious young men to experience new life in our Lord Jesus Christ.

On Good Friday, the night when our crucified Savior was laid in a tomb, the enemy thought it was finished!  What he did not know what that the very first Easter Sunday was coming with a risen Savior who had conquered death and offered eternal life to those who would receive Him. Though I’ve known Christ as my personal Savior most of my life, I’ve never stopped wondering “who am I that the King would bleed and die for me?”

This Easter morning, I want to ask each of you the same question I ask for “my boys;” have you received Him as your Lord and Savior?  Asking Jesus into your heart not only brings new life on Earth, but through Christ taking our sins on Himself, we can have life eternal, and be with our loved ones forever and ever and ever.

It sounds sad that we will not be able to gather for church this Easter Sunday, but we still have reason to rejoice. The buildings may be empty, but so was Christ’s tomb. We can be with our Heavenly Father wherever we are.  Let us rejoice for the many blessings that are ours.  Sadness is not for the Christian; joy is ours, not only in the morning, but forever. COVID-19 will pass, as will each one of us. The real question is this: will I see you in Heaven?

Happy Easter!

Glenda Anderson

Glenda Anderson 

President & Co-Founder


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Apr 08, 2020

Eating Flesh and Drinking Blood

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.” -John 6:53-55


These are difficult words for material thinkers like you and me. We are not used to thinking in “spiritual realities” when such is the intent. Being primarily physically-minded, it is not our tendency to see clearly the spiritual meaning of these words which Jesus speaks concerning His own body and lifeblood coursing through His veins. This is strange discourse which easily repulses us when thinking materially.

Tomorrow is execution day. Good Friday is the day two millennia ago when Jesus was crucified right outside a gate of Jerusalem. His torn body was raw, bloodied by scourging with multi-strand whips with metal pieces on the tips and by sharp penetrating thorns gouging His head, where blood flows so freely. There were jagged holes where huge spikes were driven through His feet and wrists and a wound from the plunging of a sharp spear beneath His rib cage, deep into His chest cavity, ensuring that the excruciating crucifixion had truly ended His life, even though before this He gave it up Himself to His Father.

According to what Jesus was speaking, His flesh and blood was to be eaten and drunk by any who sought to save their own life; Jesus truly said those who eat His flesh and drink His blood actually abide in Him and He in them.

But then, you and I were not physically present at the cross. Neither were billions of others who hunger and thirst for life beyond the grave. None of them were there to see or touch His broken, bloodied body. You did not accompany Joseph or Nicodemus to a tomb nearby where they laid Him. You did not walk with Mary and the other women early on the first day of the week to anoint and surround His dead body with sweet smelling herbs and spices. You did not witness the empty tomb with a huge round boulder rolled aside. You were not there.

Can you take His words as meant for you if you were not there physically? You must grasp them in another sense, as they did by Jesus’ counsel, if you believe they apply to you today. To have an application to everyone who takes these words as directed to them, they must see them spiritually. So, what then does eating His flesh and drinking His blood mean spiritually?

It is an active, vigorous faith which sees Jesus as just what He is called in His Word: your “Passover Lamb,” crucified for you. It is faith which sees yourself and your sin nailed to His cross with Him; faith understands you die, too, not guiltless as He, but guilty, and it also grasps that Jesus’ death in your place is efficacious. In other words: It works!

Consequently and continuously, you die to your sin and you die to yourself in His death. This is why the Scriptures say when you choose to willfully sin again after your sins have been once forgiven, in a real sense, you are crucifying your Savior again to pay for most recent sins. Harsh words, but we do continue to sin. God clearly wants you to know you need to think so much more seriously about it before you do.

Your faith clings to the truth of Jesus’ death as the only means of your redemption. This truth must be digested in your heart and mind repeatedly that it might become and remain one with who you are. It will impact how you think moment by moment.

Your faith sees the empty tomb, the beauty and power of His resurrection, which is the corollary proof of your own future resurrection. Faith sees Jesus alive within you, and it sees you living in Him. It enables you to actually walk with, converse with, and see yourself as His disciple, together with the familiar ones. It sounds crazy, but so it is.

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul writes, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith…or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”

Just as the Gospel does, your faith puts you at the cross on Good Friday. This is faith transporting your spirit across ages to that cross of Christ. As you worship tomorrow, recount carefully the actual events of His time in the upper room, His praying in Gethsemane, His trial, and His crucifixion. Worship with the knowledge that you are with Him there. This is precisely how your remembrance of this day should come alive. Hear the words Jesus speaks on the cross and draw them close to your thoughts.

Do not discount the power of faith. Make tomorrow’s Good Friday a day of rich contemplation for you and your Lord together at the cross. Let your faith take you to such heights. Faith can do this. Let it!


“Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face-to-face. Here faith can touch and handle things unseen. Here would I grasp with firmer hand Thy grace and all my weariness upon Thee lean.

Here would I feed upon the Bread of God. Here drink with Thee the royal wine of heaven. Here would I lay aside each earthly load. Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.”

(First and second verses of Horatius Bonar’s hymn, “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face,” 1855)


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