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Showing posts from 2010

Am I Jealous or Are You Bragging?

This holiday season brings lots of Christmas cards, photos and family updates in our mailboxes. What I would like to zero in on in this little discussion; at least I hope it will be a discussion, with you providing some back and forth; are the family updates. There are times when I have read them and cannot help but think the writer is bragging. I am not sure if this is true in any or all of the cases that I have felt this or that this is something in me; a reaction to them as I compare myself, perhaps, and a feeling that I somehow fall short. So, how does one sort out such complexities? When is the author bragging? What are the clues? And when is the reader being oversensitive and, may I say, a tad jealous? How do you discern between the two?

I put myself in a precarious situation with this blog post since at least one of my readers is one who has sent a Christmas letter updating us on the family (Note to that person: I don't think I ever thought of you as bragging in su…

An Ancient Prophecy to be Fulfilled in our Day?

Could an ancient prophecy from a biblical prophet come true today? Joel Rosenberg's "The Ezekiel Option" shows how the prophecy in the Bible book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39 could come true in our lifetime. For those who are prophecy buffs, he provides some tantalizing (even secular) research on the identity of Ezekiel's Gog, Magog, etc. Joel Rosenberg's books get increasingly Christian as you move through "The Last Jihad," "The Last Days," and now "The Ezekiel Option." "The Ezekiel Option" is the most overtly Christian of the series that I have read thus far. Whether you are Christian or you are just interested in prophecies from thousands of years ago, this book is for you.

The Birth of Christ Announced to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)

An angel named Gabriel was sent by God on a special mission. The place: a city called Nazareth. His mission: to tell a young betrothed virgin woman that she was going to have a baby. This wasn’t the usual job for an angel but this was certainly no ordinary birth. Was it mission accomplished? You decide. Here is what happened:

Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, ““Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Mary responded with characteristic fear. It’s not easy to have a heavenly messenger suddenly appear.

Gabriel sought to assure her of the nature of his quest: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Confus…

The Birth of Christ Announced to Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)

After Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy, his head began to swim, we must imagine. He who was one of the righteous among his people, had kept his vows to abstain until marriage. But his betrothed wife, Mary, apparently had not. Questions of why and whom filled his grief-striken mind. Yet Joseph loved Mary and couldn’t embarrass her in public. To make a spectacle of her would seem to be an act of revenge and that he could not do. So, he had in mind to divorce her privately. That’s what they considered it back then. Their marital agreement wasn’t just an engagement. It was virtually marriage with the ceremony and what follows left to await the right time, when all was prepared.

Joseph was to prepare a place for Mary, in his father’s house. There, they would live and have a family. When he was done, at the agreed to time, he would lead a procession to receive his wife unto himself. They would enter the marriage ceremony and he would take her into their marital chamber …

Mary’s Reaction to the Miraculous Conception (Luke 1:46-55)

Dr. Luke, an associate and traveling companion of Paul the Apostle, recorded Mary’s reaction to this angelic visit and the wondrous truth of the Savior’s birth and her role in bringing him into the world.
Here is what she said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7)

One could assume that Mary and Joseph intended to have their baby in Nazareth, the place where they lived. Preparations most certainly were made to that end. However, man makes plans and God laughs. The plans of God are from everlasting to everlasting and beyond all comprehension. An ancient prophecy revealed that Nazareth was far from the place of the promised Redeemer-King’s birth. The prophet Micah, under inspiration of God, boldly proclaimed hundreds of years before:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2 NIV).”

So, how did God move Mary and Joseph from Galilee to the city of David, their ancient King, the one to whom God had promised a line that would last forever? He did it through a decree.

Augustus was emperor of Rome at the time and what they called Palestine was under his dominion. One day he decided it w…

The Birth of Christ Announced to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)

Shepherds often lived out in the fields with their sheep. Lots of hours, separated from the rest of the Jewish community. They were considered filthier than the average person. Obviously, their surroundings didn’t lend to as much ability to stay clean as in the cities. In addition, they were known to occupy their time by telling tales. The long hours, days and perhaps weeks, allowed the telling and re-telling of stories until they became all the more sophisticated and exaggerated. So legendary were their stories that a shepherd’s testimony wasn’t allowed in court. The Jewish community apparently felt that shepherds were somehow incapable of telling the truth.

To these members of Jewish society, so looked down upon, God had a special plan. A messenger came and delivered an incredible tale of his own. Let’s review the story of what happened:

It was dark, night had fallen. The shepherds were probably taking turns sleeping while some stood watch over the sheep. At any time, a…

The Shepherds Visit Jesus (Luke 2:15-20)

As incredible as the story was, the shepherds didn’t hesitate to act. They looked at each other and each thought the same thing:

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us.”

And so they rushed off, the sheep temporarily forgotten, and they found it to be true. There was a stable with a couple in it. And there, in the midst was a manger with a sweet little bundle inside.

After they left, the shepherds spread the story far and wide, glorifying and praising God. And all who heard it were amazed at what they heard from the shepherds. But Mary, she remembered these things, treasuring them within her heart.

A Mature Love Shown by Teenagers

This Christmas may seem a little, perhaps a lot, disappointing to average Americans. It is a year of hardship shared by many. The road ahead looks difficult just like the road left behind us. However, as is often the case when we get a glimpse of life from another perspective, we realize how good we truly have it, economic troubles and sacrifices notwithstanding.

This is the story of a 16 yr. old girl and a 15 yr. old boy. Ordinary they would be if these were ordinary times. Sabrina Parker loves roller coasters, skating, volleyball and softball. She has hazel eyes and brown hair. Sabrina is, in effect, the girl next door, perhaps even the young lady in your home.

Matt Scozzari is a typical teen boy. Yet circumstances have given him a choice to run from hardship and pain or to rise above his contemporaries. Fortunately for Sabrina, Matt chose the latter. This is their story and its timing is no coincidence.

Before going any further, Matt and Sabrina are not perfect teen…

A Watered-Down Faith

I like cola. What I don’t like is when it is watered down. Go through the fast food drive-in and you can be blessed with a cup of ice flavored by a hint of soda. Unfortunately, the Church is suffering from the same malady when it comes to truth. A watered down faith is lukewarm and not worth the blood of Jesus poured out on Calvary’s cross.

This watered down Christianity has been illustrated in survey form from a couple of recent polls. One disturbing sampling has been collected about Christians and their views of who is going to heaven. In David Campbell’s, American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, he states that surveys taken of 3,000 Americans show that America’s people are very religious and “tolerant.” For instance, 83% of those who consider themselves evangelical Protestants agreed with the statement that good people of other religions can go to heaven. This increases to 90% when limited to black Protestants. When pushed further on the question, 54% agreed t…

A Biblical, Thoughtful, Encouraging Book on Suffering

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Throughout the ages, lots of effort has been expended on balancing the seemingly incomprehensible co-existence of God and suffering. If God is good, then why does he allow suffering? If God exists, shouldn't he be expected to stop evil at any cost? Why must good people suffer and how come so many evil people get away with so much for so long? These questions and so many more are answered in this incredible volume.

Someday, I would like to write a book or commentary and Randy Alcorn raises the standard quite high! I am impressed with the amount of research, his leaning on theologians as well as those traveling the path of suffering and his faithfulness to the written Word of God. His illustrations of suffering include recent examples.

This would make a great textbook for an apologetics class. Yet, it has the readability of the sweet assurance of a friend. Alcorn's work is an act of deep counseling and perspective whether one is going through suffering presently or life makes it…

A Review of The Last Days by Joel Rosenberg

And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days (Gen. 49:1 NKJV)

Joel Rosenberg’s book, The Last Days, takes the reader on a fast-paced journey through war and peace. The setting is the defeat of Iraq at the hands of the United States after terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. “Black gold” and natural gas have been found in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of the Holy Land. Would both Israelis and Palestinians be willing and able to choose peace and wealth over war and conflicting land claims? What would win the hearts of minds of the people of the land: profits or the prophets?

Take the time to read this excellent thriller. Whether you enjoy developing love stories, drama, political fiction or even a tale of someone coming to Christ, this book has something for everyone. For a greater context, pick up The Last Jihad first and then continue with this novel.

The New King …

A Christian Tom Clancy - A Review of Joel Rosenberg's "The Last Jihad"

The Last Jihad is an action-packed thriller full of twists and turns. Joel Rosenberg went through quite a bit of research in order to make this book realistic and to give it a historic background. The plot involves a deadly assassination attempt on the president of the United States. Other attacks are in the planning and/or execution stages. As the U.S. government grapples with the attacks, their ferocity and audacity, behind the scenes are players who are feverishly seeking who is to blame. Rosenberg’s The Last Jihad addresses the fear of a terrorist nuclear attack. Will that one be successful and who is behind them all? To find out, read this excellent book.

A Few Thoughts on Life, Death and Elizabeth Edwards

I’m sure that politically speaking, Elizabeth Edwards was far from my ideals. Yet, that presidential campaign when John Kerry chose John Edwards as his running mate and how she was portrayed just sucked me in. I came to like the public persona of Elizabeth Edwards. When I heard about her cancer, I felt for her and prayed for her. Honestly, I didn’t think it was wise for John Edwards and for her to continue his presidential campaign when she announced the cancer returned and had gone so far. Even so, she soldiered on. Added to that was the awful revelation of her husband’s adultery and the child that was born of that illicit union. To me, you could not but feel for her.

Now she is gone and before she left this Earth, she authored a “dying letter” to her young children, ages 10 and 12 now. From what I recall, she began that “letter,” which sounds more like a book to me, in 2007. It advises her young children in how to cook certain things, pick a church and pick a mate among a…

"A Date That Will Live in Infamy"

Adventure's in Odyssey Episode from "At Home and Abroad"

One Last Christmas by Matthew West

Go to Matthew West's site and read about little Dax Locke who was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia at 13 months. The doctors didn't think he would make it to Christmas, so his dad put up the decorations early. Soon the whole community joined in. Thanks to them, Dax got one last Christmas. The family, along with Matthew West,... is raising money for St. Jude's Hospital in little Dax's memory.

It's December: Do You Know What That Means?

It happens every December and is totally unlike most every other time of the year.  Something in the air makes this time different. Hindus don't experience it.  Buddhists get overlooked.  Even Muslims are given a pass.  Do you know what IT is?  It is the bi-annual tradition of major news publications dissing Jesus and Christians.

Did you ever notice this?  Every year, as Easter or Christmas nears, Newsweek and/or Time and perhaps some others can't resist rolling out the stories.  Articles that deny elements of the holy-day story as presented in the Bible.  Jesus wasn't really the Son of God or never claimed to be.  The incarnation didn't happen.  Joseph was really the Father of Jesus and they made up the whole tale in order to stay out of trouble.  The resurrection was something concocted by His disciples or a legend developed over time.

Other religions do not face such ridicule.  Ramadan comes and goes without a negative note.  So, why is it that Christianity is open …

"If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil"

I am currently reading the Randy Alcorn book by the above title and I am loving it.  I brought it to the doctor's office since I have an internal leg injury needing attention and know that you can wait a bit, thus the reading material.  To diverge a bit, after an x-ray to make sure that I don't have a hairline fracture, some ibuprofen, rest and ice, I should be good to go in 10 days.

The doctor asked me if the writer was for the idea of God or against in relationship to evil and suffering. To which I replied, "For."  He asked what I thought and I said that I was just beginning but I am already in love with it.  I have already quoted from it on my Facebook.  I'm hoping to follow up with my doctor on the book.

The Chronicles Of Narnia : Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Official Trailer...

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A Chance Meeting That Will Forever Change Lives

Two thirty-somethings were unaware of the other's existence.  Both of them got into their respective cars.  Each having made decisions that have and will impact others.

32-year-old Jason Marles worked his job for a very respectable nine years.  This married man and father of two precious children just finished the late shift.  At 3 AM, he unlocked his Jeep Cherokee, got in and headed home, grateful for another work day finished, no doubt.  Jason liked to spend his free time mentoring children and helping them stay out of trouble.

A 2010 BMW X7 must have made 31-year-old Erick Uzcategui very proud.  A beautiful machine, luxurious, it must have turned heads as it went down the street.  Erick's activity of choice before he got in the car was to drink, a lot apparently.

The two men met that day on the Garden State Parkway when Erick's BMW slammed into the rear of the  Cherokee driven by Jason.  So great was the impact that Jason's vehicle spun and struck the guardrail, …

Keeping Christ in Christmas - Ideas Anyone?

This is a time for you to inform me and others who read this blog.  How do you and your family keep Christ in Christmas?  What traditions do you observe?  Any suggestions for those who would like to but do not know how to get started? Maybe somebody needs the pump primed so they can come up with their own ideas or use one of yours.  

If you are looking for a resource, here is one from homeschool mom and famous actress from the 80's, Lisa Whelchel.  

My Review of "God Gave Us So Much" by Lisa Tawn Bergren

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God Gave Us So Much by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a delightful children’s book.  The story’s setting is in a place where a polar bear family live.  This family has grandparents, parents and children.  Little Cub learns quite a bit from her parents and her grandparents about the nature of God; his creation; and his gifts to us which include the world, love and heaven.
From her mama, she learns about the world around them and so far away; a world that God gave to them.  The nature of God is explained in child-friendly language.  God is creative with a diverse creation, He is awesome (BIG), and amazing.  The purpose of living in this world is to serve and worship God who made it and to take care of it.  Stewardship of the planet is emphasized in such a balanced way that both sides of the environmental debate should be happy. 
Not only did God give us the world but he also gave love, explains Grandpa Bear.  God’s love is shown to his creation and it is expected that his creation learn to love hi…

"The Blessing of Gratitude" by Stan Guthrie

"As with the ten, just as there are no barriers to experiencing God's grace, neither are there excuses. If we want more of his blessings, we must praise him for those we already have. A thankful heart always leads to more blessings, even if, as for many of us in this economy, we seemingly don't have a lot to be thankful for. The blessings may come quietly, unexpectedly, or in disguise, but come they will. But we must choose gratitude to receive them, for our own good."  -- Stan Guthrie















Read more of the article by clicking the title or going to http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/november/31.46.html?start=1

Free Shipping from Christian Book Distributors!

Beacon2Light, in cooperation with Christian Book Distributors, is pleased to offer you free shipping on your next order.  Unlimited Free Shipping Terms:  Spend $35 or more on your next order and use promotion code 338509 for free standard shipping.  Use as often as you like from now to Dec. 9.  Get to CBD easily by putting a keyword or book/author's name in the Christian Book Distributors box above.  Enjoy!  Let me know if you got anything or if you have any trouble.  By the way, their shipping is quick so expect your order in about a week.
FYI:  Christian Book Distributors sells CD's, DVD's, Bibles, church supplies, cards, toys, apparel and lots more.  If it is Christian, you will likely find it at CBD.

Is the Scene Being Set for World War III?

As you look at world events of the past few to several years, one may be tempted to ask, "Is there a world war coming?"  Al-Qaeda is bent on the destruction of the West and Iran rails against "The Great Satan" as it continues unimpeded on building a nuclear program, much of which is underground; not to mention their rhetoric concerning what the regime sees as the coming demise of Israel.  Are these part of a whole host of disconnected events in the often chaotic Middle East or is there something else that is going on?

President Obama said things and took stands on the campaign trail that are drastically different than what he is doing while in office.  Perhaps you remember that when he was president-elect, word got out that he got a rather somber, overwhelming briefing on national security issues.  And now, he is pushing a treaty with Russia with leading foreign policy experts from Republican administrations all around him while the cameras are rolling.  His change…

The Last Jihad

I began reading "The Last Jihad" by Joel Rosenberg.  I hope to have a review written for you in the near future.  If you are curious, click on this Amazon link.  You can compare pricing with Christianbook.com by putting in the keyword "Jihad" in the box on this page.  Don't forget Amazon has its Kindle e-book edition as well.  

In EVERYTHING Give Thanks?

You have heard it quoted often, that I am sure.  "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thess. 5:18)."   So, is God serious?  Everything?   How can I give thanks for everything?   


I think the import of the verse is that nothing comes into our lives that doesn't pass through the Father's hand.  Now, that is not an original quote but it is worth repeating.  Job experienced this though it wasn't until the end of his journey that he was let in on the intrigue behind his sufferings, if then.  Naomi found God's goodness through a Moabite daughter-in-law who loved her out of bitterness, over the death of her husband and two sons, and into blessing (as Ruth bore the ancestor of David, and more importantly, Jesus the Messiah).  John Mark cut and  run on the Apostle Paul only to be lovingly guided by Barnabas into a more faithful role and he authored the Gospel of Mark.  The passion and zeal of Saul of Tarsus transforme…

National Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church - Click here to go to Open Doors USA

Sunday, Nov. 14 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The stories coming from around the world testify to the bravery of men, women and children who hazard their lives just to believe and practice their faith.

By following the link above you can sign-up for downloadable resources that include video shorts, prayer guides and even a sample sermon. Whether you are a pastor, church leader or a parent, there is a guide for you. A note will appear telling you that the mailable kits are not available. Don't let that stop you from signing up for the online resources. These could even be used for a Bible study or prayer group.

Besides Open Doors USA, Voice of the Martyrs is a regular source of information on persecution around the world:   www.persecution.com

What is The Gospel by Greg Gilbert

My first e-book purchase and read was "What is the Gospel?" by Greg Gilbert.  What a great read.  Greg not only goes into the false impressions that various Christian leaders give of what constitutes the Gospel these days but faithfully and biblically presents the true Gospel.  This is a book I would highly recommend.  Thank you Amazon.com.  I would also recommend the Kindle for PC.  It is easy to use and prevents you from having to go to the expense of buying a handheld Kindle. But, hey, Christmas is coming up so . . .

Enjoy!

If It Weren’t for Them

Today is Veteran’s Day, and if it weren’t for them (Veterans of The American Revolution), we would be speaking a very different English dialect.If it weren’t for them (Veterans of World War II), we would be a Germanic or Oriental culture.To think, if it weren’t for them (Veterans of the Cold War), we may have the Russians for neighbors or even for rulers.If not for the veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we may be dealing with an emboldened and strengthened terrorist enemy willing and able to strike us over and over with 9-11 type attacks.
Men and women in uniform put boots on our ideals.They preserve and protect our freedoms.Without them, we wouldn’t be the people we are.
For the believer in Jesus Christ, Veteran’s Day is not just an opportunity to be thankful for our servicemembers and our nation’s veterans.It is also an opportunity to pray.Ask God to be with those on the front lines of battle in Iraq and, most especially, Afghanistan, where the war is heating up again.
The s…

God and Superman

How often do we do it? 
"Do what?"  You may ask. 
How often do we expect God to swoop down like Superman and deliver us out of difficulty?  1 Cor. 10:13 advises us that "No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it."  Often enough we latch onto the words "a way out" and ask our Heavenly Superman to sweep us out of difficulty and into bliss. However, life and Scripture tell us that it doesn't always work that way.  And do understand, I mean no disrespect to the Lord of glory with the "Heavenly Superman" reference but seek to provide an image that will provoke your thinking. 
My mind goes to Joseph when I think of expectations of God's deliverance from difficulty.  I cannot help but think, "How did Joseph do it?  How did this man who was so awfully treated ge…