Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day Tribute to our Fallen Heroes

Although we should remember our fallen heroes each day of the year, we set aside a special Memorial Day each year to remeber and pay a special tribute in honor of those who have selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. As a very small token of gratitude, we've created our latest annual tribute page at 2021 Memorial Day Tribute.

This past week, we received an email from Mikey's Funnies that I wanted to pass along to our readers. It was written by a local friend of his, Diane L Penrose, in 2005. Permission has been given to share with others, with attribution, but commercial use is strictly forbidden. It is simply entitled "Memorial Day":

It's not about the parties
Or picnics on the beach
It's in memory of those who have fallen
Just now beyond our reach

The men and women of past
Who gave of life and limb
To protect the freedoms that we enjoy
Our right to believe in Him

From our forefathers of yesteryear
To Grandpa in "forty-one"
Dad in Korea and Vietnam
A brother in Desert Storm

As you lounge beside the pool
Or stroll along the shore
Take a moment to reflect upon
Those that are no more

Take a look around you
At the life you hold so dear
Just a moment to remember
And you'll find that they're still here
May God continue to Bless our Brave Troups!

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Thanksgiving Hand

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ


Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart ~ Proverbs 3:3 KJV

The editors of Reader’s Digest wrote a touching story about Mrs Klein’s classroom of first graders. Mrs Klein asked her students to draw pictures showing what Thanksgiving meant to them. She didn’t think the kids would have much to be thankful for being as they lived in a deteriorating neighborhood. So she expected to get drawings of turkeys, thanksgiving dinner spreads and the like.

When the children turned in their drawings, Mrs Klein was taken aback when she saw Douglas’s drawing of a hand. Douglas was typically so forlorn and likely to be found in her shadow when they went to recess. When she asked the class what they thought this hand represented, one kid said, “the hand of God that brings us food”, another said “the farmer that raises the turkeys” and another said “I think it’s all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them”.

In her pleasure at the class’s response, Mrs Klein started the class on another project when she realized she had almost forgotten to ask Douglas what the picture was actually about. So, so she leaned over his desk and asked him whose hand it was, and the boy replied, “it’s yours, teacher”.

It seems Mrs Klein had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time, as she had done with many of her students, but it had meant so much to Douglas and it turned out to be her thanksgiving.

The editors of Reader’s Digest didn’t explain in the story why this small gesture had meant so much to Douglas, and they never explained why he was “forlorn and likely to be found in her shadow at recess”.

I have to think of people I’ve known in my own life, while in school, working various jobs, at social gatherings and even just in daily life who seemed out of place, didn’t fit in and sometimes just seemed a bit forlorn. The ones I have helped along the way and the ones who, in my own selfishness, pride and arrogance, I didn’t.

This story applies to adults and senior citizens as well as to school kids and it shows how sometimes the smallest of deeds can make a big impact on someone. Sometimes all a person wants is a friend. In a verse that comes to mind, Jesus said in Matthew 10:42 “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

I remember a good friend of mine saying that she instructed her kids, “if you see someone at school who sits alone and doesn’t have any friends, you be their friend!”

The bible has numerous examples of kindness to strangers and acquaintances alike, such as David’s kindness toward Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan in 2nd Samuel chapter 9, the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27 and 28 where the islanders showed them unusual kindness. There are endless examples in scripture of God’s grace and kindness toward us, even though we don’t deserve it.

As people celebrate the national Thanksgiving Day holiday this year, let’s remember that thanksgiving isn’t all about us.

Quoting from Acts 20:35, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let’s also remember Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbeareing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Being a friend, being kind and giving someone a hand could mean so much to someone who is forlorn.

The Book of Daniel Trilogy

Back in 2011, I wrote a series of three articles on Bible Prophecy called Are We Living in the Last Days?, The Study of Prophecy – in Perspective, and Present Living in Light of Prophecy.

Recently, I completed another trilogy on the Book of the Prophet Daniel. The first was an Introduction to the Book of Daniel. This led to two additional spin-off articles, the first being Interpretations and Fulfillment of the Visions and Prophecies of Daniel. For this article, I spent a few weeks combing through various commentaries and other resources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica to determine the various persons and events that fulfilled many of the prophecies from the seventh through the second century BC. I also attempted to explore the prophecies still to be fulfilled in our future. If you've always wondered about many of the strange images and predictions within the book, hopefully this article will shed some light on the subject. A knowledge of Daniel is essential to understanding almost all aspects of future prophecy, including the prophetic portions of the New Testament.

The Book of Daniel contains more prophecies that have since been fulfilled than any other book in the Bible. As I was researching the meanings, I couldn't help but be amazed at the detail and precision by which each phrophecy was fulfilled. Thus, the fulfillments have a strong apologetics application. Because we have so many prophetic visions that have already been precisely fulfilled in the past, we would expect the same accuracy for those visions concerning the future.

The final article in the trilogy was entitled The Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 – Four Interpretations. In this article, I examined various interpretations and timelines for this prophecy from an Old Testament (Maccabean) view, a Preterist (Reformed Historical) view, a Covenantal (Reformed Futurist) view and from a Dispensational (Futurist) view, pointing out the similarities and the divergences of each view. The Seventy Weeks of Daniel is the key to helping us understand the basic timeline of historical and future events prophesized in both the Old and New Testament.

I initially didn’t set out to do another prophecy-themed trilogy, but it just happened that way. Incidentally, I’m now working on the Introduction to the Book of the Revelation and, wouldn’t you know it, I currently have two spin-off articles in progress on it as well. The first spin-off considers how various events (and their timelines) are interpreted from a Preterist, a Historicist, an Idealist (Allegorical), and a Futuristic view. The final article will discuss four major interpretive views of the Millennial Kingdom of Revelation 20.

I’ll add the links to the Revelation articles in a new post when finished. To God be the glory…

Saturday, November 14, 2020

When the Skies of November Turn Gloomy

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ… a sinner who has turned away from a sinful lifestyle… writing in hopes of throwing somebody a life ring.

Webmaster Note: This past week marked the 45th anniversary of the event of which Jim writes. He sent the article late last year, but we saved it until now for posting. The image below comes from the US Corps of Engineers and is in the public domain.


Most of us know about Veteran’s Day and I’m sure everyone knows when Thanksgiving is. Those dates are usually marked right on the calendar for us, because they are important days that we should remember. But there’s another important day in November that’s not generally marked on our calendar, and that is November 10th, the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975.

The Fitzgerald wasn’t one of the thousand foot “super tankers”, but a pretty big ship on the Great Lakes, with a length of almost 750 feet. Being what’s known as a “straight decker”, the Fitzgerald was perfect for hauling iron ore pellets, as she was that fateful night. Gordon Lightfoot took poetic liberties when he sang “They left fully loaded for Cleveland” when in fact, they left fully loaded for Zug Island, which is near Detroit, but I suppose you just can’t make Zug Island rhyme.

Captain McSorley was a veteran sailor with over 40 years experience and had taken command of the Fitzgerald only a few years earlier. It’s ironic that this was scheduled to be his final journey before retirement.

Lake Superior that night had waves of 35’, and the wind was about 60 miles per hour. The weather was so bad that the Soo Locks had been closed and the Coast Guard had issued a warning for all vessels to take safe harbor and to remain at anchor until the storm had passed.

The Captain of the Fitzgerald radioed that his ship was listing. They were taking water across the deck and both radars were out. The Steamship Arthur Anderson was following some distance behind, trying to guide them by radio to the safety of Whitefish Bay.

We know how the story ends. The Fitzgerald sunk suddenly... very suddenly in about 600 feet of water and all the men on board died.

I was working on the freighters in those days. In fact, we were safely at anchor in the lee of a small island on Lake Huron. But I remember from our lifeboat training that we were told, “There’s no need to panic, there’s no hurry, you don’t have to rush, it takes at least 45 minutes for a ship to sink. There’s plenty of time to get the lifeboats ready.”

But that’s not how it happened on the Fitzgerald that night. In fact, about a year later, I met a man who said he was working on the Arthur Anderson that night. He said it happened so quickly that with one sweep of the radar screen she was there, and the next sweep she was gone.

Gordon Lightfoot hit it square on when he sang, “The lake it is said... never gives up her dead... when the skies of November turn gloomy”.

You know, I have to wonder how many, if any, of those men had come to Christ at some time before that final journey. And I have to wonder how many of those men cried out to Christ with their last breath as they sank into that icy water.

Sometimes we get so caught up with the cares of the world and our own “stormy situations” that we forget about our relationship with God.

“Oh, you don’t understand! I’ve got to work a lot of overtime to pay off my student loans... or whatever. I don’t have time for that religious stuff right now”, or so we reason.

Others may be caught up in a lascivious lifestyle. Drinking and carousing, carelessly singing, “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Those poor spirits never even see the need to change their course, much less to get the lifeboats ready!

Others may think they can just put it off, “Oh, I’m a good guy and people like me. I mean, I go to church, you know... or at least sometimes. It’s not like you have to really follow all that stuff. Besides, I can always repent on my death bed. Certainly Jesus will wait for ME, won’t he?”

The trouble is, as the Edmund Fitzgerald shows us, sometimes the calamities of life happen so suddenly that we don’t always have time to even LOOK for the lifeboats. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for a man doesn’t know what a day might bring”.

So the question is, “When should I change my course... when should I get my lifeboat ready?” Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 6:2, “And he said, in the favorable time, I listened in the favorable day, you needed salvation and I helped. Behold, THIS is the favorable time. Behold, THIS is the day of salvation”.

If there is anyone reading this message and has come to a point in your life where you see the need to change your course, you see that it’s time to get the lifeboat ready. I urge you to seek out competent biblical teaching, believe in the Word and repent from the world. Be baptized and receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.

I urge you to seek out and build your relationship with the One who can calm the stormy sea. And I urge you to do this while it is still the favorable day, before one of life’s calamities can strike!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Things That Go Bump In the Night

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ


Witches, demons, fortune tellers, skeletons, ghosts, monsters and the like are common themes in October!

halloween no funSamhain was celebrated on the night of October 31 when the Druids believed the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living was blurred and demons would visit. These spirits played tricks and caused havoc, so the Druids would offer sacrifices to appease these spirits, hence the modern holiday question: “trick or treat?”

The Druids dressed in costumes to look like demons in attempt to befriend them and celebrated the holiday with drunkenness, psychoactive plants and debauchery. They believed that by communing with the nether world, they could tell fortunes, cast spells and speak with the dead.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Pope Boniface IV created All Saints day, celebrated November 1st, around AD 600. This holiday was called “All-hallows” and the night before it, “Samhain”. Later, it became known as “All-Hallows Eve” and eventually, “Halloween”.

Most people today believe such celebrations are just good, clean fun. Kids get to dress up and get candy while going house to house giving each one a choice, “trick or treat?” I mean after all, demons, witches, ghosts and goblins aren't real, are they?

If demons, astrology, divination, necromancy, sorcery and idols don't exist, why did God forbid these practices in the Law of Moses and again through Paul in 1st Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5, among other places in the bible?

There are at least a dozen Hebrew names for demons in the Old Testament and demons are mentioned by every writer in the New Testament, with exception of the unknown author of Hebrews; but he did mention their ruler, Satan. Jesus taught in many passages that demons do exist, and many instances are recorded of Jesus and his Apostles casting them out of people that had been possessed. Demons are the fallen angels and can take on various physical forms.

People of many faiths celebrate Halloween and the bible does say, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

However, our bible also clearly says in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.”

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but rather than putting on a ghost, devil, witch or monster costume, why not put on "the whole armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, as shoes put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace; the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”? (Ephesians 6:13-20)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Seek the Welfare of the City

This is a follow up post to yesterday’s article Are All Politics Local, in which we examined the Power of the Majority Party in the US Congress and noted several characteristics of Worldly and Godly Leaders.

Today, I’d like to discuss the application of Jeremiah 29 for the modern day Christian. In particular, we’ll address how God’s command in verse 7 for his people to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” should apply to true believers in our earthly countries.

As our regular readers know, we must first look at what the verse meant to the original audience before we can begin applying it to ourselves. As I’ve said many times (I’m certainly not the first to say this), the three top rules for interpreting scripture are “Context, Context, and Context”. We know from verses 1-3 that the majority of the chapter contains a letter that the Prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the Jewish exiles that had been taken into exile to Babylon. So, looking at the immediate context, the letter begins:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jer 29:4-7)
At first glance, Jeremiah appears to be telling the people that their main objective is to become good citizens of Babylon. But looking at the entire chapter, along with the prevailing themes of the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, we find the narrative to be a bit more complicated.

Let’s begin with the bigger picture. The primary themes of the book are that a Holy God must punish His people for their constant disobedience to His covenant, but the Prophet also speaks of hope for the future. Thus, even though the people are currently in exile as punishment, they will later be restored to their homeland. In addition, there is also a running battle between Jeremiah the true prophet, and various false prophets who are constantly attempting to damage Jeremiah’s credibility among the people.

Continuing in verse 8, we read:

For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

(Jer 29:8-14)
The false prophets were telling the people to resist rather than to serve the King of Babylon; that they would only be there for a short time. Jeremiah however, accurately informed the people that their captivity would last seventy years. Furthermore, this was God’s righteous judgment so any rebellion would also be against God.

So Jeremiah was basically telling the people to be good citizens in their temporary home for seventy years, but cautioning them not to get so comfortable that they would refuse to return to their homeland when it was time to leave. In addition, the command to multiply also looked forward to the end of captivity since it would primarily be the sons and daughters whose families would return.

Thus, the parallel we can draw for Christians in our modern day is that, while we’re here on this earth, we should likewise be good citizens, but we should not get so comfortable as to want to stay here forever. The Psalmist writes, The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away (Ps 90:10).

As the old saying goes, “We should be in the world, but not of the world” as we look forwward to our permanent home in Heaven.

Prologue

Since this article is a follow-up to yesterday’s political post, I thought I’d address the meaning of the word “welfare” in our main verse. “Seek the welfare of the city” does not mean that we should vote for Socialist Democrats just because they’re attempting to turn the country into a welfare state (at least until they run out of everyone else’s money).

The word for welfare is translated “peace and prosperity”, “well-being”, or “the good” in various other Bible translations. It is the Hebrew word shalom that is most often translated “peace”, but also “welfare”, “safety” etc. Think of it as seeking the common good.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Are all Politics Local?

The saying “All politics are local” is typically attributed to Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 1970s and 1980s. This saying is still partially true, even with the vast amount of donations that pour in nationally for some state races, but the locals still do the voting (if you don’t count those who are bused in from out of state to vote multiple times). The out-of-state funding of local candidates has become the norm over the past few decades, but this strategy is now being extended to many local races

In the last few years, we’ve even seen George Soros backed funds buy many prosecutor races in targeted cities and counties. In just one example, a liberal prosecutor in North Carolina running on the platform of abolishing bail and refusing to prosecute most crimes received about $1.5 million dollars. In previous years by comparison, each candidate typically received only about $15 thousand. This strategy has led to an epidemic of increased crime and unrest across the country due to the Soros-backed prosecuters refusing to prosecute even serious crimes.

Power of the Majority Party

With the upcoming 2020 elections just around the bend and many voters have already begun to cast their ballots, we like to offer some brief thoughts about the importance of your vote, because you are voting for more than just a candidate. One of the single most misunderstood facts about voting is that when a person casts his or her vote, it is not just for a candidate, but for an entire party, and in the bigger picture, for an entire worldview.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain is to look at the 2108 mid-term elections. Prior to the election, the Republicans held a majority in the House and Senate. We should note that this fact doesn’t necessarily mean the Republicans had a solid majority, since as most people know, all Democrats are solid Democrats, but many Republicans are Republicans in Name Only (RINOs). A prime example was during the Republican’s attempt to repeal the expensive, one-size-fits-all Obamacare disaster and replace it with an individualized, more economical plan, RINO John McCain single-handly dealt one final blow to conservatism with his last vote in the Senate.

Be that as it may, the Democrats won the majority by running candidates proclaiming themselves to be “moderates” in over 30 precincts that had been carried by President Trump in 2016. Videos surfaced of aides to some of these candidates telling prospective voters that, “Our candidate is very liberal, but has to pretend otherwise due to the number of moderate voters in the district”. The “mainstream” media spiked the stories, and the candidates won by promising not to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, and to be an independent voice for their constituents.

Regarding the first of these promises, Ms Pelosi was able to win over enough of these new members by cutting individual special deals to be re-elected as Speaker of the House, and place herself third in line for the Presidency. Regarding the new candidate’s promise of being an independent voice, all but one voted the impeach the President over non-criminal, policy disagreements between Trump and the unelected deep-state bureaucrats.

We’ll come back to these “moderates”, but we first must understand the power of the majority party, or more accurately, the power of their leader(s). The leader of the majority party has enormous power, even if that party has only a one-member majority. First, he or she appoints the chairman for each committee and sub-committees. The majority party also holds a majority of members on each committee. Since any legislation must pass several procedural obstacles in the committees to even get to the legislative body, these committee heads also have tremendous authority. The minority party can’t even bring a bill to the floor without getting an agreement with a sufficient number of members from the other party. It’s not surprising that most legislation never makes it to the body for a vote.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that many of the new “moderates” were sincere in their promises to vote independently, they would still have no control over which legislation the committees and Speaker will bring to a vote. Even if a bill makes it out of committee and they decide to break with the leaders on a vote, they will typically be threatened to either vote the party line, or have the party back an opponent against them in the next primary election. Thus, once they compromised on their “No to Pelosi” pledge, they were basically powerless to keep their promise to their local voters, even if that had been their intention.

So, before you cast a ballot, please consider the entire ramification of your vote. We mentioned that when we cast our ballot, we’re also electing a worldview. Although specifics can vary somewhat by candidates, one party generally believes in natural law (from God), freedom of religion, state and local rights, free-market economics, the right to life, security, free speech and other liberties guaranteed by the constitution; while the other typically believes in federal government autonomous control (socially, economically and otherwise), judicial activism, the right to kill babies, and globalism.

Worldly and Godly Leaders

In 1998, pastor and teacher John MacArthur preached a sermon entitled Characteristics of an Effective Leader in which he painted a picture of an effective leader according to the two prevailing worldviews. The secular world typically prefers a leader with the following qualities. “Visionary – that is looking to the future and, in some degree or another, being able to forecast the future and plan ahead for the future. Action oriented – that is more than just someone who muses about things, more than someone who comes up with ideas and schemes, somebody who can make things happen… So, you have this typical picture of a leader: visionary, action oriented, courageous, energetic, objective oriented, paternalistic, egocentric, intolerant of incompetence in others, and indispensible.” Meanwhile, from a Christian worldview, he states, “What makes an effective leader? He’s respected/trusted, takes initiative, uses good judgment, speaks with authority, strengthens others, is enthusiastic and optimistic about triumph, never compromises absolutes, focuses on objectives not obstacles, and leads by example.” We need more candidates fitting Pastor MacArthur’s description of a leader in all levels of government today.

If I could add a personal observance, worldly leaders tend to be life-long politicians, while Godly leaders often serve for a few years, then return to the private sector. There are many exceptions of course, but as a rule, I believe this is often because worldly leaders often attempt to raise government to the level of diety. Witness Barack Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build that” statement implying that private citizens or corporations are basically powerless without government. One other example is the recent mandates closing houses of worship, mostly in the blue states. While liquor stores and marijuana selers are considered “essential” businesses, churches are considered as “non-essential”. In Pastor MacArthur’s state of California, churches are facing tens of thousands dollars in fines hold holding services.

Loud Dogma

This coming Monday, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to begin confirmation hearings. In her previous hearing, in which she was confirmed to the US Seventh Court of Appeals, Diane Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, attached her for her faith with the now infamous statement, “The dogma lives loudly within you”. Of course, what went, and continues to go unsaid, is that the dogma also lives loudly within Sen Feinstein, albeit a completely different dogma. Still, a secular faith is just as much a dogma as is a religious one, even though it is not recognized as such by most people. Article VI, Section 2 of the US Constitution states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States”. The Constitution, as Obama once noted, can be a real inconvenience.

Finally, as the percentage of authentic Christians continues to drop in our country, we encourage all remaining believers to exercise their right and privilege to vote.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Thy Kingdom Come

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Webmaster Note: Jim received some pushback from others on this article because it was incorrectly perceived that he was writing against all public corporate prayer. Public prayer was common and essential among the Apostles and disciples in the NT church (Acts 1:12-14). Jim believes that corporate prayer is important in the Church and while that involves someone praying publicly, that's not what Jesus was addressing in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was addressing the boisterous prayers some were making in the public squares only to draw attention to themselves. “Look how righteous I am by praying so loudly for everyone to hear!” Reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 through 7 should help the reader understand the intended context of this article.


This might be a good time to review what Jesus taught us when he gave his model prayer at the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus begins by warning us against praying to bring attention to ourselves. He says the hypocrites do that. We’re to pray privately where only God will hear our prayer. Worldly people repeat a lot of vain babbling, but we shouldn’t pray like that. God already knows our needs and those repeated ritual phrases are useless (Matthew 6:5-7).

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

Praying for His Kingdom’s return truly is praying for all the world’s issues to be corrected. All will be made right in that day and his will be done (Revelation 22). We ask for our own forgiveness in the same way we forgive others. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

Ask him to lead us away from temptation. A picture of this can be seen in the 23rd Psalm, comparing the Lord as a shepherd leading us to the green grass and along the still waters, the guidance of his rod and staff comforting us, not threatening.

And deliver us from evil. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread after 40 days of fasting. Jesus quoted scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Satan challenged him to test God, but Jesus again quoted scripture, “...thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Satan said he would give Jesus “...all the kingdoms of the world; and the glory of them” if Jesus would just worship him. Jesus once again quoted scripture, “...thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Deuteronomy 6:13, 10:20). Although Satan promised him “all the KINGDOMS and their GLORY”, Jesus closes his prayer by affirming that those aren’t the kingdoms we want anyhow! “For THINE is the KINGDOM and the POWER and the GLORY forever”. It’s God’s kingdom that we want!

Jesus told us to pray “in this manner”, not necessarily these exact words. There are no magic words. I think he meant to pray from the heart, briefly and asking for things that are of God’s will rather than our own will. We’re to ask with faith and confidence (Matthew 7:11). If we pray for the things that are of God’s will, he’ll take care of our needs as well!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Day of the Christian Martyr 2020

Tomorrow marks the annual Day of the Christian Martyr, and many Christians are paying special respect and honor this weekend to the legacy of those who have sacrificed their very lives for the advancement of the gospel. This day is chosen based on early church tradition that the Apostle Paul was martyred on June 29 in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero in the mid-to-late sixties of the first century AD.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an interdenominational Christian missions organization that has been serving our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide for over fifty years, maintains a memorial to Christian martyrs at its Oklahoma headquarters. This year's special inductee is Central African Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui (Graphic courtesy of VOM).

Pastor Sankagui’s inspiring story is courtesy of the Voice of the Martyrs:

Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui planted a church in a Muslim neighborhood outside Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, in 1993. He maintained good relations with the community for years.

But civil war between Seleka rebels, government forces and anti-balaka militias changed everything.

Most of the pastor’s church members fled the area as hostility increased toward Christians. And even the pastor’s wife, Mary, urged him to leave the area and work someplace safer. But Pastor Jean-Paul stayed in obedience to what he believed God had called him to do.

On Feb. 7, 2017, Islamists shot Pastor Jean-Paul to death outside his church in Ramandji before looting and burning his house and church. Mary said they killed her husband because the community no longer wanted Christians in the area. She and Pastor Sankagui had been married 48 years and had 11 children and 17 grandchildren. After losing not only her husband but also her home and all her possessions, Mary had no choice but to leave the area.

Five other evangelical pastors in the region also were killed in the first five weeks of 2017. Pastor Jean-Paul knew the risks, counted the cost and willingly stayed to shepherd his small congregation and serve as a witness for Christ in the neighborhood.

For those who would like additional information and resources about Pastor Sankagui and/or the Day of the Christian Martyr, we encourage you to visit the VOM website for the Day of the Christian Martyr 2020 podcast, and a prayer guide for the Central African Republic. There are also additional resources for your church or small group.

We have supported our friends at VOM for years and believe them to be one of the most vital ministries for our modern turbulent times. In particular, we'd like to alert our readers to a particularly urgent need of our sisters and brothers, not only in the Central African Republic, but also in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Laos and several other African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern nations. The number of Christian families forced out of their homes and villages in recent years has increased dramatically. Most are forced to flee with no food or provisions, only the clothes on their backs. They survive by sleeping on the ground and eating whatever edible plants they can find in the forests.

This is due not only to Islamic, Hindu and other militarists, but to superstition as well. The vast majority of many villagers worship the “gods” or “spirits” of nature (the river, forest, livestock, household idols etc). Many Christians are banished from their villages by their superstitious neighbors to avoid angering or offending these false gods or spirits. For those who would like to aid these displaced Christian families, VOM has set up a Help Christians Driven from their Homes campaign that delivers items for their basic needs. Thank you and God bless.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

Although we should remember our fallen heroes each day of the year, Memorial Day is set aside as a special day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. As a very small token of gratitude, we've created our latest annual tribute page at 2020 Memorial Day Tribute.

As I was making this year’s selections of pics, memes etc, I noticed several that urged everyone to have a “Happy Memorial Day”. While these were likely done with the best of intentions, and I’ve probably used this phrase several times without thinking in the past, I always pass these over in preference to other phrases. Although Memorial Day is partly a celebration of the good times we’ve had with our military families and friends, it is primarily a day of somber remembrance of those who gave their lives for us. Thus, we must be grateful for the sacrifices made by the families of these heroes, who let them go off in service to our country so that our families can live in safety and freedom.

We should also remember the fellow soldiers who were able to return home, many with physical and psychological handicaps that will last the remainder of their lives. One might wonder how a soldier can charge into a deadly situation that would paralyze a non-soldier. We can call it love for country and families back home, and that's certainly part of the answer. But I'm told time after time in conversations that, a primary concern during these moments is their fellow soldiers, their “brothers in arms”. However many years may pass, a soldier never forgets each of his fallen comrades, and Memorial Day is particularly difficult.

Memorial Day is made even more difficult for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In my opinion, PTSD is a falsely named term for their condition. It should instead be called simply PTS, or Post Traumatic Stress. After surviving under the extreme conditions that a soldier faces constantly during wartime, the disorder (or abnormal condition) would be to not have PTS. PTS should be considered completely normal under the conditions that our soldiers willingly endured. Yet, despite knowing this going in, and the fact that a major political party, along with all their leftist activist judges, are continually working to undue the freedoms that our brave men and women are fighting for, the soldier continues in his or her duty to family, friends and country.

One final thought for this day, Christians also remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for us. Just as many a brave soldier laid down his life for our physical, civil, and political liberties, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for our spiritual freedom so that believers are co-heirs with Him to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Below is a tribute made of the 3/7 battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Several years later, my son did two tours of duty with the Third Battalion - Seventh Marines in Afghanistan. We were very fortunate that he came back safely, but he lost several of his friends. Please continue to pray for, and express our sincere gratitude to the members and families of our brave military.

Operation Iraqi Freedom 3-7 Marines