Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is Your Wardrobe Changing?

Indian summer is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Hues of burnt orange, vibrant gold, and rustic red mixed with the last bits of deep green, inspire feelings of warmth and passion. Beginning preparation for the long winter, our thoughts naturally turn to fall harvest. The cool crisp foods of summer give way to pot roast, soup, and of course pumpkin pie. We sip apple cider, mulled or straight, as sweatshirts and fleece become part of our wardrobe. In a seemingly effortless transition, we move from swimming pools and bathing suits to football games and jackets.

Nevertheless, it’s not an effortless transition; it requires a conscious decision. We could stay in our bathing suits and freeze, but we don’t – we change with the seasons.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy New Year
Are you kidding? It isn’t New Year. Well, maybe not, but September always feels like it to me. With a new school year, new church programs, etc, the lackadaisical summer has turned into a disciplined schedule. Nevertheless, September-October is the month Israel celebrates their civil New Year, called Rosh Hashanah. Israel’s New Year begins Wednesday, September 24, 2014, but for them, it’s the year 5775.

Rosh Hashanah or The Feast of Trumpets is one of the seven feasts the Lord instituted in Leviticus 23. The first feast, The Sabbath, is weekly. Three spring feasts are next, ushering in the religious New Year:  Passover/Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Firstfruits, The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Jesus Christ, in His first coming, spiritually fulfilled these three. The remaining three are fall feasts, ushering in the civil New Year:  The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles are yet to be fulfilled. The gap of time between the spring feasts and the fall feasts represent this present church age. 

Into each feast, God built deep spiritual meaning and unless you know Jesus Christ as Messiah, you miss the fullness. This is where Israel is today. Some suggest this feast commemorates the day of creation and some feel it represents the binding and deliverance of Isaac.

Israel’s Feast explanations do have the feel of spirituality, but they remain empty and flawed without Christ.

So let’s examine the deeper meaning of the Feast of Trumpets. It begins on the first day of the seventh month, the month of Tishri (Leviticus 23:24). On all other months when two witnesses spot the new moon, the celebratory silver trumpets are blown. However, the new moon of Tishri is different. The shofar (ram’s horn) is blown as a symbol of calling the hearers to the ten-day, soul-searching process of repentance, culminating with Israel’s national day of repentance, the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur.

Because Rosh Hashanah begins with the blowing of trumpets, most pre-millennial commentators see it spiritually representing the rapture of the church or the “catching away” to meet Jesus in the air.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”(I Corinthians 15: 51-52)

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this’.” (Revelation 4:1)

Are there are scoffers? Of course, just as God said there would be (II Peter 3:3-4), but only because He is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)

While we wait then, let’s conduct ourselves in holiness “…and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (II Peter 3:11-12). If we do, people will “see our good works and glorify…[our]…Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taken A Faith Walk Lately?

 Has there ever been a time when you felt you were just going through the motions spiritually? You pray, read your bible, go to church, and do all the things you know, as a Christian, you are supposed to do, but you’re just not feeling it? Well, welcome to “Faith Walk”.

Wasn’t it just a little while ago we were standing on that mountaintop praising God, feeling His presence and seeing His hand at work in everything? It seemed like nothing could interfere with our closeness to our Savior. Then, without realizing it, slowly things changed. Emptiness crept in. Our prayers seem to stop at the ceiling not reaching God’s ears. We’re feeling spiritual dreariness resembling this time of year. Our weather is transitioning from summer to fall, from the intense heat of the sun to overcast, damp, chilly days. Gloominess like the groaning of creation, booms in our ears. (Romans 8:22)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Are You Ready For Change?

Change is in the air – can you feel it?

A change of season approaches with cooler nights and shorter days. Our flora and fauna change – fall flowers wear deeper hues and trees sport orange, gold and red leaves. Animals grow thicker coats instinctively preparing for winter. Change is part of our world. Genesis 8:22 says, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”

Nobody experienced more change than Noah and his family. The global flood changed the face of the earth. Nothing remained the same except for those on the ark. They must have felt as though they were stepping out on an alien planet. Nevertheless, Almighty God was there with His covenant and rainbow. He was their one unwavering constant who says, I am the Lord, I change not.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christian Tattoos?

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with my aunt and cousin. As volunteers, we arrived very early and the arena’s immensity stunned me. All I could say was, “Lord Jesus, fill this place with Your Spirit.”

After receiving our assignments, people began filling the seats. Soon the entertainment started with music of every genre, mostly appealing to the younger crowd. There was Rap, Grunge, Alternative, etc, and for us ole-folk, earplugs.

What a joy to see the kids having such a great time moving to the music of these Christian artists and then intently listening to their testimony. Each artist gave details of their life and the lies they believed until someone introduced them to Jesus. And as He does with everyone who calls upon His name to repent, believe, and receive Him as Savior and Lord, Jesus turned their lives around. They are new creations, who now sing for Him. Each evening, Jesus Christ was lifted up, Almighty God was glorified, and Franklin Graham had not yet taken the stage.

Reports of seven hundred teens going forward on Saturday night blew us all away. Adults and teens alike came forward to speak with counselors Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nevertheless, with events like this, I’m always concerned about sincerity. To this day, I pray every seeker found Jesus, their conversion was true, and the seed of the Word of God fell on good soil, so the enemy cannot snatch it.

However, sitting at breakfast on Sunday morning my cousin posed a question. She said, “Each artist and musician seemed tattooed to the hilt. How does that jive with Scripture when it says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)
Tattoos -
Remembering the tattoos I observed, clearly, these artists acquired this “ink” after they came to know Jesus. The only thing that came to mind was how Paul said in I Corinthians 9:22, “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul was saying he tried to fit in, so those to whom he witnessed would hear the gospel and not reject it, because of his appearance.

I wondered would the tattooed crowd listen to me if I tried to witness? Probably not. But, would they listen to someone sporting tattoos? Possibly.

I didn’t have a good answer, but I knew someone who would. Therefore, I asked the Lord, “Since it seems like disobedience, how does one justify a tattoo when obtained after salvation?”

Incidentally, as I read the miscellaneous laws in Leviticus 19, I found some very curious, especially verse 27. This verse before the mention of tattoos says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard."

But, a clean-shaven man with shorter hair is appealing in our culture.

So, since I’m still waiting for a clear answer from the Lord, I will pose the question to you. What are your opinions about tattoos and how do we reconcile these verses with the world in which we live?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Lord of Hosts Is His Name

On a warm summer night, darkness creates a quiet calmness. Chipping tree frogs and crickets break the silence and distant stars sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” says the Psalmist, and my breath catches, suddenly comprehending how small I am and how great is our God!

In these moments, I understand King David’s proclamation, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God… So let Your name be magnified forever saying The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel…”  Jeremiah agrees, “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and stars for a light by night…the Lord of hosts is His name.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Has God Made You Laugh?

       Have there been things in your life you never thought would take place, because you prayed and prayed, but nothing changed? When you began this quest, did you cling to Psalm 37:4’s promise of when we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart, only to realize His answer was no or not now? Did you pout and get angry or take matters into your own hands? Did your solution backfire or did you finally accept things as they were?

       Imagine Sarah, Abraham’s wife, would answer with a resounding “Yes”, considering the years of praying for God to open her womb. Each month her prayer and anticipation, just to experience great disappointment and pain when conception did not take place. Month after month, year after year, the same thing; after a while it can make you a bit numb and desperate. Finally, as a last resort, Sarah suggested something despicable; something I believe, she would never have agreed to under any other circumstances. It was a huge sacrifice, but she could see no other way for God to fulfill His promise. Sarah gave her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham “…to be his wife…So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.”

       Up to this point, no one knew whose body had malfunctioned. Now there was no doubt, When Hagar “… saw that she had conceived, her mistress [Sarah] became despised in her eyes.” (Gen. 16) Sarah thought this solution would make her happy, but it didn’t. It only caused more pain.

       However, after fourteen more years of waiting, God did something so wonderful, so amazing, that she just had to laugh. At ninety years old, “…Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken…Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.’” (Gen. 21:1-6) Sarah prayed and trusted God (Heb. 11:11), but I think she was as shocked as anyone was, when it actually happened. That is why all she could do was laugh.

       Now, back to your unanswered prayer. God had a set time for the miracle He promised Sarah and He has a set time for you. For me, it was twenty-three years. God’s promise came in the Jr. High school parking lot while I was praying and waiting to see if my daughter, Lorrie, had made it for seventh grade cheerleader. I was so nervous waiting, so I opened my little NIV Bible. God gave Psalm 1:3 as a promise, “He [she] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” When Lorrie came out wearing her cheerleading uniform, I thanked and praised for His fulfilled promise.

       However, as life goes, this joy was short lived. Many struggles ensued over the years and the fruit seemed stifled in her life. But, with intermittent tears, I kept praying and believing, especially during our knock-down, drag-out fights. During that time, I’ve watched how He has helped her grow not only into a beautiful wife and mother, but in Him. I was completely satisfied, the desires of my heart realized, and I wouldn’t have asked for more.

       But, we have a God “…Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20)

       And, God wasn’t finished with Lorrie. She had more fruit to bear. So, a few years ago, after volunteering at her children’s Elementary School, Lorrie decided she wanted to be a Teacher’s Aide.  Researching the subject, Lorrie found she must pass a test to become licensed, before she could apply at any school.

       My reaction? I tried to talk her out of it and when that didn’t work, I started to pray, “Lord, change her mind!” However, God immediately rebuked me saying, “Do you think I can’t do this?” Shame-faced I said, “No Lord, I know all things are possible with You. Help me to trust.” He then reminded me of that day in the parking lot and confirmed, this was Lorrie’s set time.

       Through one miraculous event after another, I have watched God’s hand with utter amazement and I just have to laugh. On the day of Lorrie’s ParaPro Assessment Test, He gave me Joel 2:25, “I will restore the years the…locusts have eaten…” She passed with flying-colors, got licensed, finger printed, and hired.

       God is at work in your life too. Keep praying, trusting, and watching for His amazing hand.
He will make you laugh!