Friday, May 28, 2010


Philippians 3:13-20 “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”

In reading through this book of the Pensees by Blaise Pascal, I came upon a chapter on a subject that I’ve noticed people discussing regularly today. More than once has someone mentioned that they need “distractions” in their life. It sounds so foreign to me to required happiness in diversion of the mind, but Pascal explains, “We once possessed a high degree of greatness (in the Garden of Eden), but have unhappily fallen from it. It is not through the proud action of our reason, but through its humble submission that can really know ourselves. There are two fundamental truths of faith. One is that man in the state of original creation, or in the state of grace, is exalted above the whole of nature, made like unto God, and sharing in his divinity. The other is that in his state of fallenness and sin, man has forfeited this first state. In spite of all these miseries man wants to be happy, and only be happy, and cannot help wanting to be happy. But how can he go about this? It would be best if he could make himself immoral, but since he cannot do this, he decides to stop thinking about it. Being unable to cure death, misery, and ignorance, men have decided that in order to be happy, they must repress thinking about such things. If man were truly happy it would be in unconscious self-forgetfulness that his greatest happiness would lie, like the saints and God. Yes, but is a man not happy who can find delight in amusements to divert him? No, because that come from somewhere else, and from outsiders. This means that man is dependant. In short, it will be what is called distraction. In busyness we have a narcotic to keep us from brooding and to take our mind off our circumstances. That is why the pleasures of solitude are considered incomprehensible.

It is wrong to blame them, for they are not wrong to want excitement, if they only want it for the sake of distraction. The problem is that they want it on the understanding that once they have had the material things that they are looking for, they would not fail to be truly happy. They are pursuing so eagerly that which can never satisfy them. It does not occur to them that it is only the pursuit and not the kill they are really after. The only true happiness lies in rest and not in excitement. No matter how miserable he is, if he can be persuaded to take up some diversion, he will be happy so long as it lasts. He must create some objective for his passions and then arouse his desires for this object he has constructed. He must get excited; he must delude himself into thinking he would be happy to win what he would not want as a gift.
Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries. For above all, it is that which keeps us from thinking about ourselves and so leads us imperceptibly to destruction. But for that we should be bored, and boredom would drive us to seek some more reliable means of escape, but distraction passes our time and brings us imperceptibly to our death. The Philosophers say:”Go back into yourself; for it is there that you will find peace.” This is just not true. The others say: “Go out of yourselves; look for happiness in some distraction.” And that also is not true. Happiness is neither outside nor inside us. It is in God, both outside and inside us.”

Something to consider in our understanding of why people say and act as they do today. May we show them the light of Christ and the Lord that is the source of true joy and happiness. May the Lord soften hearts and open ears to hear the gospel of salvation in Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1b-2 “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Time for Everything, in God’s Timing

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should revere him.”

Sometimes the Lord brings things across our path through this earthly journey that are so bizarre, just to let you know that He is there, that He orchestrates time and events, and to remind you and I of the progressive steps that He has guided us on in the past to bring us to where we are today and that He is there every step of this Christian walk. And this reassurance opens the flood gates of faith and love in our life.

Decades ago, the Christian Education director asked me to become a discussion group leader at our church, in a new evening Bible Study titled “Search”. You know how it feels when you try something that you’ve never done before? Doubts feel your head that you can do a good job. But that was quickly eliminated by the study group that I lead. One couple in particular saw my uneasiness from inexperience and encouraged me each week, telling me how good that I was doing. They were a family that I looked up to, with a son and two daughters that loved serving the Lord by their life. Their son was our sons Youth Director. Their youngest daughter was a gifted singer, but it was her faith in Jesus Christ that shinned and flowed in a contagious wave. I remember her forming a College Bible Study at her home, and would bring the joy of the Lord to so many. They didn’t know it, but they touched and impacted my faith and Christian life more than they could ever know. They were like a mark that the Lord had set in front of me to point the direction to go, because I didn’t understand what I know now by the guiding hand of God, and I saw that all these wonderful people were sign posts in my education by the experience of interpersonal relationships. The kids now have kids of their own, the family had moved and been out of contact for longer than I can remember. But, as only the Lord can put together, on a five day cruise to Vancouver, we run into the youngest daughter (who now lives in Seattle: a mother of three). What a blessing to see Karen again and talk about what the Lord has been doing in our lives. It has recharged me more than the cruise was supposed to. The trip was truly wonderful with a perfect day in san Francisco & Victoria Island, but the biggest blessing was given by God, as He revealed His hand in what some consider a “small world’ coincidence, but for me another miracle that I’ve come to expect from my Father in heaven.
Blessed in Christ, Brian

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paradise Falls

Psalm 145:13 -Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season.

Chapter Three of the book of Genesis has the sub-title “The Fall of Man”. The previous chapters describe the creation of the Earth, heavens, plants and animals by God and He made Adam and Eve in his own image and immortal. They cared for this garden world of paradise and ruled over all the Lord God’s creation, in perfect communion with their Maker. This is the height that mankind has fallen down from by original sin. So many people today do not realize the great fall we’ve taken and therefore do not feel the loss, except for the God shaped hole in all our hearts. Blaise Pascal writes, in the book ‘Mind on Fire’, “Man has fallen from a better state which in former times were more appropriate to him. Who does not feel more unhappy at not being a king except a king who has been depose? It is natural for a king to remain so the whole of his life. We have fallen from a high state” By sin, we fell from the Garden of Eden and with fellowship with God to a cursed earth because of that sin to toil in time till death, in separation with God. What a fall from righteousness walking with God to inequity & separation, from immortality in paradise to mortality on earth, from heaven to damnation deserved by our sin. But God provided a means of restoration in Jesus Christ. God sent His Son, who knew no Sin, to offer the free gift of reconciliation by the substitution of our sins upon Jesus and Jesus’ sinless life upon us through His blood, that the penalty of death for sin may be paid in full and that forgiveness, fellowship with God and eternal life in heaven may be given. Those who do not know this truth or those who reject our fallen state before God, look for human distractions and amusements to divert them from the truth that both our today & eternity are at stake in the pursuit of happiness. But that is another blog to come.

Pascal goes on to write: “Truth lies within our grasp, and yet is not our prey. It does not dwell on earth, but has its home in heaven. It lies in the bosom of God, and so it can only be known insofar as it pleases him to reveal it. So let us learn about our true nature from the uncreated and incarnate truth.

Matthew 18:14 “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Three Kinds of People

Back out on the high seas, but technology now provides the ability to connect to the world from here in our stateroom. Given a chance to open my unfinished book of Blaise Pascal’s Pensees, I share a portion of his insight and arguments for Christianity that rings true through all ages because our holy God never changes and the blessed Redeemer of mankind is the way, the truth and the life from our heavenly Father alone.

Ezekiel 33:10-12 “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ 11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die? “Son of man, give your people this message: The righteous behavior of righteous people will not save them if they turn to sin, nor will the wicked behavior of wicked people destroy them if they repent and turn from their sins.”

I remember telling my co-worker, who was going to seminary at night to leave the company and become a preacher/pastor, “There are only two races of people on Earth.” Rev. Jack looked puzzled at me, until I said: “saved’ & “unsaved”. Blaise Pascal goes into great detail in writing that there are only three kinds of people in this world: Those who have found God and serve Him; those who are busy seeking God, but have not yet found him; and those who spend their lives without either seeking or finding Him. The first are reasonable and happy; the last are foolish and unhappy; and the middle group are those who are unhappy but reasonable. All our actions and thoughts will follow very different paths, according to whether there is hope of eternal blessing. We do not need to be high-minded to realize that there is no true and no solid satisfaction to be had in this world (apart from God). For all our pleasures are mere vanity, while our misfortunes are infinite. Death dogs us every moment. In a space of only a few years we will inevitably be brought face-to-face with the reality of eternity, which for those who have neglected it will be eternal damnation with no prospect of happiness. There is nothing more real than this, nor more terrible. Let people think what they like, but the only good in this life lies in the hope of another life. We are only happy in the measure to which we anticipate it, for there will be no misfortunes to those who are completely assured of eternal life. But there will be no happiness for those who have no knowledge of it. The Christian faith consists almost entirely in establishing these two truths: the corruption of the human nature, and its redemption through Jesus Christ. Nothing is of more importance to man than his state, nothing more fearful than eternity.

Faith imposes upon us an obligation always to have regard for those who go through life without knowing or seeking God, as long as they live, and as long as they are capable of receiving grace and enlightenment, and to believe that in a short time they may be filled with more faith than we are. Imagine a number of prisoners on death row, some of whom are killed each day in the sight of the others. The remaining ones see their condition is that if their fellows, and looking at each other with grief and despair, await their turn. This is the picture of the human condition ((apart from God). We only know God through Jesus Christ. Without his mediation there is no communication with God. Jesus Christ therefore is the true God of men. At the same time, however, we know our own wickedness, for this God is none other than the One who is our redeemer from wickedness. Thus we can know God properly only by recognizing our own iniquities. Accordingly, those who have (claimed to have) known God without knowing their sinfulness have glorified not God but themselves. The Christian faith teaches these two truths: There is a God whom men are capable of knowing, and they have a corrupt nature which makes them unworthy of him. It is equally important for man to know both of these points. It is equally dangerous for a man to know God without knowing his own sinfulness as it is for him to know about his sinfulness without knowing the Redeemer who can cure him. To know God without knowing our own wretchedness only makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ provides the balance, because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness. With Christ, man is freed from sin and wretchedness. Not only do we know God only through Jesus Christ, but we know ourselves only through Jesus Christ.”

Romans 3:21-24 “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[a] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Christian Nation

Psalms 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Growing up in a nominal Christian family, I believed in God, though we did not attend a church or any Sunday Worship Service. As a young boy, I personally believed that God created everything and that almost everyone was going to Heaven because Jesus died for the sins of the world. In God We Trust was on our money, we said “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Nation’s Declaration of Independence spoke of the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, and the Founding Fathers of this nation wrote that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I was born in America, a Christian nation and proud of it. As I grew in age, I also grew in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. I now know the whole gospel, continue to grow daily and serve the Lord.

I don’t remember the attacks on Christianity that we see today by unbelieving individuals and groups in America, though I first started seeing changing laws in the 1960’s (i.e. School prayer). Darwin’s evolution, Scopes monkey trial and separation of church & state, etc. didn’t seem to be much of a factor because God created the heavens and the Earth ... or did I just not see the attacks clearly then. There was no “Spring Break”; it was Easter Vacation, which celebrated Holy week and Jesus’ passion. There was no “Winter Break” either; it was Christmas Vacation, which celebrated the birth of Christ. On Thanksgiving Day the family got together and thanked God for His provision and hand upon our lives. The Little League baseball pledge begins with the words “I trust in God”. My Boy Scout’s Oath said: “On my honor I will do my best. To do my duty, to God and my country.” Red Skelton always ended his TV show by saying: “Good night now & May God Bless” and I remember all this to this day. Daily life and activities demonstrated the faith of the nation as Christian. But today, hostile atheists are attempting to silence Christians and the church from both proclaiming the kingdom of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the proclaiming of the Word of God found in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, which convicts the sinner to bring us all to repentance and a saving knowing of the Savior & Lord. Today, we have to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13-15) and defend our faith, that those who do not know the Lord may find the foot of the Cross, where forgiveness and salvation awaits the sin-sick soul and eternal life begins. Like Thomas, the world is saying: “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?", and Jesus is still answering, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6). God bless America!

Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.”

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Psalm 80:17-19 “Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!”

My youngest son came over to help me return the oven, refrigerator, washing machine and dryer to the kitchen and laundry rooms that were just resurfaced with ceramic tile. After lugging the appliances into their proper places and hooking up all of their respective lines, pipes, vents and cords, I took him out for a burger and fries at the local restaurant down the street. As we enjoyed a loaded bacon cheeseburger, Chris told me how he felt that marriage was not as it used to be. At 27 ½ and single, he wasn’t observing lasting relationships and wondered what was different now from his grandparents and parents, who found joy in their lives together and stick it out for better times or worse. With the focus on self-fulfillment today, it seemed that marriages mainly ended in divorces and no marriage commitment relationship were increasing. What is missing today?

Ephesians 5:24-26 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” There is mutual love focused on Christ and true relationship based in holiness before God. This leads to an out-pouring of self towards each other in unconditional and godly love for each other, as intended from the beginning.

Mark 10:6-8 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.” Could it be that people today are not focusing on the Lord and what they were created for? And by not having the “right” focus” on the Father that created them for good, on Christ who saves and changes us for right living, and the Holy Spirit that guides the heart of the body of believers in love, are we chasing the wind in the dark. To turn back and love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it is a concept that needs to be rediscovered today in our society.

Genesis 2:24
“Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” My son, Chris was observant to see that there is a problem today, in that we’ve lost sight of what marriage is and how there is a need to turn back to God’s will, word and ways for our lives. It’s more than off balance; we’re off track and on the wrong path. Love the Lord and love each other as the Lord loves us.

Ephesians 5:29-31 “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Living in the Face of God

Isaiah 57:4-8 “Whom do you mock, making faces and sticking out your tongues? You children of sinners and liars! You worship your idols with great passion beneath the oaks and under every green tree. You sacrifice your children down in the valleys, among the jagged rocks in the cliffs. Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy? You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me. You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies.”

The other day, I was talking to a lady and the subject of Christianity came up. She openly explained how she was against organized religion and felt that a person just needed to live a life aligned with God’s nature of love to be received into heaven. She said that she trusted and believed that God created everything, but accepted the belief that many different faiths around the world worshipped and served the same God, but just called Him by different names. She acknowledged that “all have sinned before God, but she did not believe that just believing that Christ paid for the sins of the world, as a free gift from God’s loving mercy & grace, would save a sinner. I explained that the Bible directly stated that God’s “Plan of Salvation” was through the death of His only son Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. Christ takes our place on the cross and we put on His righteousness. This mercy & grace of God is offered to all those who trust, believe and accepted the free gift of forgiveness, regeneration and eternal life. This was clear in the verses of scripture, but she replied that she did not believe that the entire Bible was true, including original sin and salvation by Christ alone. This belief, of course, is not based on comparative religion, but in humanism. It is simply making a god in her image – truly an idol that did not exist. Not understanding that the heart which was once dead to God in sin, being regenerated by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the finished work of salvation in Jesus produces, not a person capable to change, but a ‘changed” person. Changed by God alone.

Isaiah 57:11-13 “Are you afraid of these idols? Do they terrify you? Is that why you have lied to me and forgotten me and my words? Is it because of my long silence that you no longer fear me? Now I will expose your so-called good deeds. None of them will help you. Let’s see if your idols can save you when you cry to them for help. Why, a puff of wind can knock them down! If you just breathe on them, they fall over! But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain (the kingdom of heaven).”

The true battle is between “obedience” & “disobedience” to the one true God that is based in unbelief in the Truth & belief in the lie. She talked about living before the face of God (Coram Deo), but not under the sovereign authority of God and to the glory of God. This is the “form of godliness but denying its power” spoke about in 2Timothy 3:2-5. Why do so people jeopardize their eternal destiny? Truth is their enemy because they do not want to submit to and obey the Truth, but then, in doing this, give their obedience to the lie and to that which is false. One of my co-workers, who is a counselor at Calvary Chapel’s Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, told me that he was witnessing in open conversation to an unbelieving co-worker about God and Christ. The co-worker surprised him when he said that his greatest problem with belief in God was the Bible verse Romans 1:32 “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Like so many people today, this unbelieving co-worker loves their sinful and lawless lifestyle where they decide right from wrong, but deep inside knows that they are deserving of God’s righteous judgment and wrath for their disobedience. They pray that the God of the Bible does not exist and believe this lie to distract their mind from the truth of their destiny on the wide road to destruction. Living in the face of God through the truth of the gospel of Jesus is the only path to righteousness and eternal life. Spread the Word. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross (the gospel of Jesus Christ) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

In Christ, Brian