Category Archives: Truth

Don’t Seek the Living in a Graveyard

Jesus trampled down death by death.

Jesus trampled down death by death.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?,” the angel said. “He is not here (dead in the cemetary); he has risen! Remember how he told you, …”

Forget the women’s shock of hearing from angels who looked like shining men. Heaven had caught them going to a graveyard to look for the living Son of God. Talk about getting things wrong!

These women had both the courage and compassion to carry burial spices to the tomb of their friend, Jesus, who was now a condemned criminal. But that morning their view of reality was shattered. Others had the same problem. Two men walking to Emmaus were told they had never truly understood “all that the prophets have spoken!” Peter, two nights before, had let fear rule over his heart enough to deny his friend Jesus thrice, when his captured leader, Jesus, actually had “all authority in heaven and on earth.” Peter had walked on water with Jesus and witnessed him raising people from the dead! But he finally found out that Sunday evening what Jesus had meant by saying, “On the third day ….”

In another instance of shattered reality, Nicodemus first came to Jesus assuming he was still a “teacher of Israel” expecting this “student” would answer questions about how he did miracles and spoke so well. Instead, Jesus proved he was the Teacher and challenged Nicodemus to be “born from above” and to get out of the dark. Jesus told him to come toward the “light that shines in the darkness.”

“God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life!” After receiving this message nothing about this life is the same.

Do you truly listen to the “Living Word,” Jesus Christ, when you read the Bible in your hands? Is there something God has said about your life or this world that you just don’t understand?

Pray for ears to hear now what God is saying rather than wait until the next time angels are scheduled to come with trumpets and announce the coming of the Lord in judgment. Perhaps, you too have been looking for the Living One in the wrong place and need this reminder that Jesus is “with you (the ones who believe in Him) to the end of the age.”


Life After Death

Review any of the four gospels and the account of Jesus’ resurrection and subsequent appearances after crucifixion and death  is the climatic ending. Paul would say later in 1 Corinthians 15.13 that his preaching and our faith is “useless” if “Christ has not been raised.” He obviously was certain that Christ was alive, raised from the dead. But what did the resurrection of Jesus prove?

  1. There is life after death. Hundreds of reliable witnesses saw Jesus and Lazarus raised from the dead. This is a fact based on historical proof. All reasonable objections to this fact have been removed.
  2. The future body that replaces our earthly decaying bodies will not die.
  3. Our eternal bodies are human and remain recognizable. Jesus hands and side were visibly marked by his dying injuries. The disciples recognized him after the initial shock.
  4. Eternal bodies can be touched, create sound waves and interact with light in this world. Yet they are not bound by the natural law we know. Jesus’ body was lifted up into the clouds against the pull of gravity, was not always visible and disappeared and reappeared quickly in various locations regardless of physical barriers like walls or distance.
  5. Death, the penalty of sin, does not hold those who believe in Jesus. Why? There may be pain before death or regret before our end. But death is not the ultimate end of existence and the dread we have of death for ourselves or for our loved ones is removed.
  6. The universe contains other realms or regions that are ruled by God. The Lake of Fire, Hades and Heaven are not visible to us now, but are as “real” as the Earth. One realm exists distinct from heaven where human spirits of the dead are conscious and can gather. Hell, contains fallen angels too dangerous to mankind to be free. Heaven is where God is praised and served by myriads of angels.
  7. Jesus, the eternal God, is the first true man who lives in heaven after death.
  8. God keeps His promises. A prophet-redeemer from the line of David came, was murdered by his own people, and rose from death on the third day. Why should we doubt other promises God made such as: we will be given a new heart, not of stone and the Holy Spirit will come as our “Counselor,” indwell us and seal us for heaven.
Христос воскресе …Во истинно воскресе!

Христос воскресе …
Во истинно воскресе!

This Easter celebrate His unbreakable promise: life after death with God in heaven. While you may, spread this good news!

Christ is RISEN! … He is risen INDEED!

Real Change

Tomorrow the US votes. Pollsters report that the “future of the world” may turn on the candidate for President chosen by one “independent, young, single female in Cuyahoga County, Ohio”. Would the prophet Ezekiel agree with the pollsters?

Ezekiel -- “God is Strength!”

Ezekiel — “God is Strength!”

After Babylon tore down the walls of Jerusalem and razed the temple, Ezekiel prophesied to refugees left behind in the desolation of Judea. Their detestable ways disqualified them from any inheritance. Next God told the exiles in Babylon their hearts still needed purging of “greed for unjust gain.” They were hypocrites, shepherds who cared only for themselves.

For over 1000 years prophets tried to convince rebellious Jews that YHWH was the ONE true God. National defeat, disgrace and exile finally purged that sin from their midst. Finally, the Jewish exiles DID STOP idolizing pagan gods. This remnant returned to Jerusalem and started over.

Will the pedigree of ANY nation or the plans of ANY leader ever impress God? No nation, no party, no president, no economy, no military is strong or important enough to turn God aside from His purpose: to redeem and call out His people to rule with Him for eternity!

Have the faith to put first things first.

Announcement by shofar

Announcement by shofar

Historical Notes:

605 BC. First Judean Defeat. Daniel and elite exiles sent to Babylon

597 BC. Second Judean Defeat. Main body of exiles deported to Babylon including Ezekiel

591 BC. 6th year after exile during 6th month. Ezekiel 11.18-21 Ezekiel is 30. This is the first message we have that God gave Ezekiel. It included good news with the bad—the kind we like to hear too. Exiles given “new hearts” would eventually return to the land of Israel, but those still devoted to “detestable idols” faced judgment. Ezekiel 14 Turn from your idols! Ezekiel 20.1ff. The prince in Jerusalem rebels. The remnant in Babylon enquires of God via Ezekiel. “Hearts devoted to idols.”

589 BC. 9th year 10th month. Ezekiel 24.16-27 As Babylon besieges Jerusalem for the third time in two decades, God gave Ezekiel a gloomy prophecy. Jerusalem and the Jewish homeland would turn into a desolate waste. This prophecy included a personal tragedy–Ezekiel’s wife, the “delight of his eyes” died, he was forbidden to mourn her and to make sure God took away his ability to speak.

587 BC. 12th year 10th month. Ezekiel 33. 22-33 Unable to mourn, three years pass until God gives Ezekiel back his voice. That same evening a messenger from Jerusalem came to Ezekiel with the word that Jerusalem had fallen, the king was executed and the temple destroyed. The next morning the exile community gathered at Ezekiel’s door to hear the news.

I’m sure Ezekiel (“God is strong”) wished to say something uplifting to his fellow exiles anxious for their homeland. But God’s message for the refugees left in Palestine was awful. The land would remain a desolate waste. Their detestable ways disqualified them from possessing the land God had promised to Abraham. And Ezekiel couldn’t spare his fellow exiles either. Their mouths may have expressed devotion, but their hearts were still greedy for unjust gain. God wasn’t fooled. They were hypocrites who had no intention yet of changing their ways; their shepherds only cared for themselves.

Julia’s Story

There is no God!

Julia’s parents were members of the Communist Party of Czechoslavakia. They taught their teenager daughter that God does not exist. Their beliefs, however, did not “protect” Julia from meeting Christians when she attended university. Julia believed in Jesus and told her family of her decision. They were incensed. Both her parents and her sister held high positions in the Party structure; Julia’s new identity as a believer jeopardized their jobs. But the small fellowship of Christians gave Julia the support and courage she needed to continue in her faith despite pressure from her family.

After a serious car accident, Julia’s faith deepened thanks to her small group leader who took Julia into her cramped apartment. Julia watched Milena, manage with grace the demands of her recovery, a job, plus a household with young children. Julia can’t forget how sacrificial love looks.

Today, Julia and her husband Pavel are mentioned among the top 20 most influential believers in the Czech Republic. I’m sure Milena had no idea that choosing to love an injured student would make such an impact.

Do you have a “Milena” or “Julia” story to tell? Drop me a note or email. Let’s encourage each other “all the more as the Day draws near!”

Generator Envy

Macadamia Nut Processing

Is there a difference between envy, covetousness and jealousy? I discovered that our English word for jealousy comes from a Latin term that means zeal. And the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible for envy and covetousness also relate to zeal.

So if I covet, I zealously pursue a selfish desire for the rightful wealth or power of another. If I am jealous, I will not share what I consider “mine”. But when I envy, I crave what rightfully belongs to another. When the urge arises to resent someone else’s job, house, pension, inheritance, kids, fitness, influence, clients or employees, I am about to disobey the 10th Commandment.

This sin doesn’t exclusively tempt the “rich.” Integra, who creates business solutions to poverty, recently reported that in the middle of the night someone carted off a power generator that served the region in Kenya where an Integra business employs 65 poor women. The small factory was processing macadamia nuts just harvested by 200 poor farmers.

Because someone coveted that generator, the poor families connected to this business face losses. And Integra’s plan to extend this business to help 200 more needy farmers is at risk.

Choose the “narrow road.” Share what you have with others in need.

Cut Off His Horns

Gadhafi, raising his horns. 2007. AP Photo

I chuckled when news reporters were caught on camera running from a conference room shaken during the East coast earthquake last month. But pictures of Hurricane Irene that followed of flooded homes and bridges ripped out, weren’t so funny.

Whenever we hear of the wickedness of a Gadhafi torturing his people or the arrogance of a Dawkins railing against heaven, we anticipate their fall. For that matter if anyone with the power of money or politics or fame starts acting like they are in control, we get upset.

The Lord in Psalm 75 promises to “cut off the horns” of the wicked who are acting like bulls in a barnyard. Because God holds firm the pillars of nature and society, imagine how silly our posturing looks to Him. He is the only one we can rely on when the earth or the nations quake.

We all act in pride or godlessness, living as though God is not there. The next time we personally forget His rule and need to confess our sin, let’s include the pastors, missionaries and other leaders we know in our prayer. Grace to face challenges God only gives to the humble and thankful.

Seeking for Truth and finding Propaganda

Thirty years ago while walking and praying along the bank of the Neva River in Leningrad, USSR, I scanned the incredible vista of the Winter Palace, church cupolas and golden spires. Jutting out in the distance on the roof of an old industrial building, in huge aluminum block letters, gleamed the phrases, “We Will Complete the 5 Year Plan” and “Praise to the Communist Party”. And I thought, “Does anyone still believe these slogans?”

Neva "vista"

We just endured two months of intense political advertising before the mid-term elections. Does anyone really believe those awful television ads full of quotes ripped out of context that attempt to make an opponent into a caricature? I’m so glad I don’t live in Iowa where they will endure six more months of this next year for the “privilege” of narrowing down the 20-30 presidential wannabes to 5 or 6 the rest of us will vote for! What happened to: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”? Thomas Jefferson et al.

Unfortunately, political consultants aren’t the only deceivers left on earth. The apostle John said, “many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Watch out …” II John 7-8. But it isn’t just those “bad people on TV” we have to watch out for. Don’t we regularly deceive our friends, our family, even ourselves. How long do we spend listening to the master deceiver, Satan, and making up our own lies to cover up that nasty hole in our heart that only Jesus can fill?

No wonder John felt “great joy” discovering children of a lady he knew who were “walking in the truth”. What a thrill we have knowing Jesus, who is the truth,lives in us and will be with us for ever”!