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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Want a Better World?

Would you like to see an end to terrorism, bloodshed, war, and chaos? Would you like to live in a world where everyone treats others with kindness? Can you imagine never having to turn on the news to view something ugly?

It’s going to happen! Not now, but it will. (More about this later.)

But, for now, there’s one way you can make a better world. If you’re a born again Christian, you can begin to change the world.


Share the gospel with everyone you know. So that we understand what the gospel is, the Apostle Paul gives us a perfect three-point outline: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that (1) Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that (2) he was buried, and that (3) he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). All we need to do is share those three points!
  1. Jesus died for our sins.
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus rose again.

When a person believes the gospel in His heart, turns from his sin, and cries out to the Lord for salvation,* he is saved. When a person’s heart changes, everything about him changes. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Even terrorists?

Yes. Islamic terror is all about false teachings and false ideology. It’s also about the false promise of having many virgins and unlimited pleasures in Paradise for the warrior who dies in jihad. Non-Islamic terrorists are motivated by different false teachings and goals, many of them political. Every terrorist does what he does because he actually believes in his cause.

If he would listen to the gospel and turn from his wicked ways, he would be a new person. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die (Ezekiel 18:21). Jesus said, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

The problem, as I see it, is that Christians don’t feel the urgency to spread the gospel. They also might feel afraid to reach certain people groups. Another difficulty is that many countries of the world are closed to traditional missions. But, that doesn’t mean no one can go and these people can’t be reached. And, more than anything, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach your neighbors where you live!

I can hardly believe that people don’t know their neighbors. Why? There are lots of reasons. We live such busy lives. But God put us on the earth with a purpose: glorify God. We actually glorify Him when we share the gospel of salvation with others. It isn’t an option; it’s a command. And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

So, how can a normal woman, living a normal life (whatever that is!) “preach” the gospel? Each person has a different personality and varying abilities. We’re in different jobs and places. The important thing is to look for ways to reach your world for Christ. I’m going to float some ideas out there, but you can ask God what you can do. You might be surprised at how He leads!

Ideas for women to spread the gospel:
  1. Give gospel tracts to people you actually engage in conversation: clerks, friends, etc.
  2. Leave gospel tracts—just one—in public places: hotel rooms, restrooms, etc.
  3. Get to know people. Start with your neighbors, but this can broaden into a neighborhood Bible study. You can join a club, gym, or even an online group that caters to people in your interests. I think online forums are great places for witness and networking.
  4. Write. Do you have a novel in you—waiting to be written? Do you blog? Are you a poet? Try being a witness through your writing.
  5. Volunteer. Can you work in a hospice, with a pregnancy center, or as a counselor? What can you do to help in your church? (Ask your pastor where there are needs.) Sunday school teachers can impact children for God.
  6. Teach. Can you teach English as a second language? Can you offer tutoring? Are you a teacher in a school?
  7. Think outside the box. This begins with prayer. Ask God for ways to meet and impact unsaved people. He will answer.

I am not so naïve as to think that everyone you witness to will respond with genuine faith and repentance. But, I also don't think that every Christian is actively looking for ways to share Christ. If your neighbor accepts Christ, he will be a new neighbor. If a child knows the Lord, he will be a different child. If your friend gets to know Jesus, she’ll not only be on her way to heaven, but you’ll have someone to disciple and mentor. You’ll have sweet fellowship with her. If whole Christian communities were actively sharing the gospel—not “love” or watered down messages—we’d see a revival. A revival means changed towns and ultimately a changed world.

Do I believe that will happen? I don’t know. Personally, I think Bible prophecy is being fulfilled under our noses, and I’m not sure if that includes another Great Awakening—but it might. Even if not, we are debtors** to the world around us. We must spread the Good News of the gospel.

So, when will there be peace on earth and an ideal kingdom? Read Revelation 20:1-6. Jesus will rule for a thousand years. It might be as close as seven years away!

Jesus said, I must work the works of him that sent me,
while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4).

Do you want a better world? Reach out to others, sharing the gospel of Christ! The time is short, and the need is great.


* For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
** The idea of debtors is from Romans 1:14, where Paul says he’s a debtor to the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Great Mysteries of Life: The Answers Are So Hard, So Simple

A few of these mysteries come to mind:
How did the universe begin?
What is life?
Where did we come from?
Why am I here?
Is there anything after death?

Scientists spend millions of dollars trying to find the beginning of the universe. If they can only collide atoms well enough, they’ll find the “God particle” that holds things together. Archaeologists and paleontologists look for keys to understanding the beginnings of mankind. Evolutionists are constantly changing their theory with new discoveries, but they always talk about links between apes or other creatures and humans and evolution over millions of years. Astronomers can see farther and farther into the universe with new telescopes and satellites. They find innumerable galaxies and consider the possibility of the existence of other earths and civilizations. They’re sure something’s out there. Everyone wants to know his purpose. Why am I here, anyway?

These are the mysteries of life.

The more complicated humans make it, the less they know . . . .

Someone Who knows everything
has already revealed the answers!

It’s so simple.

All we need to do is open the Bible!

Let’s take the mysteries one by one.

1. How did the universe begin?
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). For more details about the creation of the world, read Genesis 1 and 2.

2. What is life?
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so (Genesis 1:30).

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:28).

God gives life to plants, animals, and people. He provides humans with eternal life, if they accept His gift through Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

3. Where did we come from?
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26-27).

4. Why am I here?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

5. What happens after death?
And Jesus said unto him (the thief on the cross), Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

The Apostle Paul said, We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Jesus told this true story. (It is not a parable.) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus illustrates the two different places people go after they have died. One is heaven, and the other is hell, a place of torment. Yes, God Himself clearly says there’s life after death.

There are probably more mysteries of the universe that I didn’t think of, but all the answers are in the Holy Word of God, the Bible. We don't need to scratch our heads. We only need to trust the One Who created, the One Who died for us, the One Who gives us life and purpose.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Young Adult Style

As you know, I enjoy fashion and style. You might not know I worked for a time in a design department for children's fashions. I wasn't a designer, but we drew the designs for screen prints, appliqués, and embroidery. We also drew and painted the children's clothing catalog by hand. Can you imagine?

Some time ago, I asked for volunteers--all young adults--to be my models for a virtual fashion show. It's not as much about fashion as style. Each person was free to choose his clothing and model as he saw fit. Enjoy!

Many thanks to my volunteer models: A. J., Damaris, Daniel, Jessica, Raquel, Sarah, Sol, and Victoria (as well as two adorable dogs). You demonstrate style, fun, and a lovely Christian attitude.

My models live in Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Micronesia, Spain, and the United States. One has modeled professionally, but the others confess to being nervous in front of a camera. One of my models is a mother and another is expecting a baby. My models work at: assembling car parts, writing (one's a published author), and studying. They're active in their churches. Some of them teach Sunday school.

Why do a post about style? Because I think Christian role models are important, and modest style demonstrates variety and flair.

God bless these young adults as they serve Him in many different capacities!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fiction Review: Tested by Fire

Tested by Fire, by Pat Patterson is the second book I’ve read by this author. It’s the sequel to Paramedic Killer. It's good to read Paramedic Killer before this one, but not necessary. Each book stands on its own.

They say, “write what you know” and Mr. Patterson certainly does! A paramedic himself, Tested by Fire showcases his medical expertise while telling a poignant story.

It begins with the sad martyrdom of his partner Sid on the streets of East Beach. Gang members taunt his faith, beat him, and then fill him with lead. Jim Stockbridge vows to get revenge. No one deserves that kind of death.

Follow Jim as he goes after gang leader J-Rock and ends up in the hospital himself on more than one occasion. Follow him as he finds Truth as does Zee, a member of the gang. Go with Jim as he seeks to revenge his partner.

There’s a little bit of romance and a lot of violence in this book. Frankly, I am a tad too squeamish for some of the graphic medical details, though they greatly contribute to the book’s authenticity. Tested by Fire is a strongly Christian book set in the unlikely setting of the inner city. The author seems to know a lot about gang and drug culture. The whole book sounds like it could easily be true.

I personally enjoy Patterson’s writing. I believe he’ll reach a niche of readers that’s rarely spoken to in Christian books: older teen and young adult men. This second book, like the first, is hard to put down. There’s no sensuality, no bad language, but it does contain a lot of violence. I give it four stars.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Unplug and Smell the Roses: Four Suggestions for Having a Real Life

This post is about phones. Smartphones. Phones that one uses to do everything—except actually talk to friends and family. I think they’re the scourge of the earth, and I’ll explain why.

Many years ago now, before smartphones, friends in a university ministry hosted a group from overseas. This group was supposed to be there for ministry, and they were mostly university students themselves. When the visiting group discovered that their host family had Wi-Fi in the house, the “ministering students” quickly got out their laptops and spent the rest of the time online, plugging in at different corners of the house. Instead of connecting with the young people who were in the house, they isolated themselves from those they were supposed to be ministering to. While I totally understand that these young people would have been delighted to get online after several days of non  connection, they should have waited until there weren’t people around that they could have ministered to. Late at night would have been fine, or the next morning. They ignored the people they’d traveled thousands of miles to minister to—at least that first day. It left sadness in the hearts of their hosts.

A group of teens traveled to Europe. Smartphones in hand, they were looking down as their hosts spent time and money to take them to amazing parts of several different countries. The kids missed probably ninety percent of the scenery—quaint little towns and natural beauty. They were busy chatting with people back home and playing games, thumbs flying. When they arrived at their destination, they smiled and took selfies and a few other pictures, and then turned back to their phones—texting, chatting, and connecting. Their hosts couldn’t even get them to look up or listen to the interesting historical background about the castle they were visiting.

Another group went to a foreign country and sat down to eat in a family’s home. Phones came to the table too, accompanied by earphones. The hosts couldn’t even talk with their guests. The phones took over at mealtime.

You’ve probably witnessed this phenomenon yourself. Just go to any restaurant. No longer do people socialize face to face. They ignore those they’re with, and they look at their phones. Oh yes, they take pictures of their food and send it to their friends and maybe take a selfie, too, but they don’t actually connect in real life.

I want to address this problem because I think it’s more than a faddish problem.
It will have dire consequences in the future.
  • They won’t have a clue about good manners. The whole premise of good manners is that you put others first. That’s a biblical concept, by the way. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).
  • They won’t understand how to develop true friendships. All of their friends become “virtual.” The danger is that when it comes time to talk to people on a mind and heart level—for example, in a dating relationship—they really won’t have anything to say. They might not be listening, either. Real relationships are formed by actually being “present” in the friendship. True relationships happen when people talk back and forth, laugh together, and enjoy things together.
  • They have the false impression that every life experience is not to be experienced, but rather to be shared online. Instead of living in the moment and enjoying the whole experience—drinking in the atmosphere, actually looking at the sights, listening to the sounds, and even smelling the flowers—they take two selfies and get back to their phones. The Bible says to enjoy life in a pure way. Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion (Ecclesiastes 5:18).
  • They won’t have time for God. A relationship with God requires seeking His face—in prayer and Bible study. It means getting to know Him. Even if a person has a Bible on his phone—a good idea, by the way—he can’t really pause without distraction and worship and pour out his heart to the Lord without being distracted by his device. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes (Psalm 119:9-12).
  • They will not understand Christian service. Serving Christ means serving God and others. This means you’re active in your church’s ministry. It means you do things for other people. It means you show God’s love by loving others. It means you’re transparent, vulnerable, and available. You cannot truly be there for others if you’re always looking at a screen. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).

So, what can be done? Do we burn our smart phones? Of course not! But, I think parents would be wise to at least consider these four suggestions.
  1. Decide on an older age for giving children smartphones. Personally, I don’t think children need them, ever. But, if you disagree, at least consider letting them have unlimited technology at a later time. Your nine-year-old doesn’t need a smartphone at all! (Consider giving younger children simple phones that don’t connect to the Internet.)
  2. Limit access. There should be times when parents don’t allow children to be on their devices: mealtime, in church, in school, and in social and family gatherings. It’s not ever acceptable for kids (or adults!) to be on phones in these situations.
  3. Include your children in Christian service. Do ministry together as a family. The “me generation” needs to be taught to serve the Lord and others. If you don’t know what needs to be done in your community, ask your pastor for ideas.
  4. Travel with your children and take a journal to write in and real cameras—not phones! You’ll grow as a family and make life-long memories. 
Unplug, and smell the roses!