Thursday, December 27, 2012

Faith of the Nation

Jeremiah 3:21A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God."

I always find it humorous that whenever you hear someone say; “separation of church and state”, it is someone saying that they don’t want the state to hear the church and never the church not wanting to hear the state. Let’s look at some quotes from our first Presidents of these United States and see what they thought.

The Father of our Country and First President George Washington: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.”

Our second President John Adams: "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and Humanity."

Our third President Thomas Jefferson: “No one sees with greater pleasure than myself the progress of reason in its advances towards rational Christianity, and my opinion is that if nothing had ever been added to what flowed purely from His lips, the whole world would at this day have been Christian. Had there never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel.... I have little doubt that the whole of our country will soon be rallied to the unity of the Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.”

The father of the U.S. Constitution and fourth President - James Madison: “The belief in God all powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man.”

Our fifth President James Monroe: When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good."

Our sixth President John Quincy Adams: "The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth.”

Our seventh President Andrew Jackson: “Our excellent constitution guarantees to every one freedom of religion, and charity tells us, and you know Charity is the real basis of all true religion, and charity says judge the tree by its fruit. All who profess Christianity, believe in a Savior and that by and through him we must be saved. We ought therefore to consider all good Christians, whose walk corresponds with their professions, be him Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Roman catholic.”

Our eighth President Martin Van Buren: “I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit, and whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!"

Our ninth President William Henry Harrison: “I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”

That’s just the first nine and it is obvious that none of these Presidents knew of any separation, along with other Founding Fathers like Benjamin Rush, John Jay, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, so it must be someone else.

1 Corinthians 1:18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Like our Founding Fathers and Presidents, let us give glory to God, shine the light of Christ and the love of God into this country, society and culture. Proclaim the gospel of salvation to all. God bless America. In God We Trust!
In Christ, Brian

Know Christ; Not No Christ

1 Corinthians 2:2For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Recently, Pastor JJ, once again challenged us with a powerful Sunday sermon on knowing God and holiness. It seems, far too often, that this statement of the Apostle Paul (above) would be considered radical Christian thinking, while the exact opposite statement: “I determined to know everything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”, has become the new normal today. Active disobedience and passive indifference equates to not caring what God wants and doing what we desire, even when these thoughts, words and actions are directly opposed to his sacrosanct Word, Will, and Way. How do we see this way, or flipped, how do we not see the truth?

When our heart is not filled with Jesus, (godly love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are missing, absent, AWOL, and just plain not there) and there are voids in our life that will be filled with other things. What really matters in life diminishes as “distractions” rule, reign and enslave our hearts, minds and soul. Distraction is defined as the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention. Distractions come from both external sources (that God-rejecting world system and Satan), and internal sources and are a diversion (the sin nature of our flesh); drawing the mind in a different direction from our heavenly Creator and Father Lord God and His government of our life. We need to put down “our way” and walk in the Spirit.

Philippians 3:8-11Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

The Lord shows us “His perfect way”. Distractions in people, places, and things are not wrong (in and of themselves), unless they are focused on, sought after, pursued and done omitting and void of our revered intimate relationship with Jesus and God’s holy calling for us. Then who and what are we faithful too? The key is to know and love Jesus and His teachings; not just about Jesus. John 14:23-24Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” Know the power of His resurrection. Worship and praise the Lord from the center of our hearts and being that flows through us and lives in us. To know Christ goes deeper than this world and its distractions. But how can we know Him without seeking Him, spending time with Him, without experiencing Him and His love in communication of prayer and worship. Not some five step plan or program, but a changed life through the transformation of regeneration of the spirit, once we repented of our sin and trusted in Jesus for our salvation.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

God is in the business of changing lives. Our misguided society, culture and world is “looking for love in all the wrong places”. The community of faith can and must affect the people around them by being Christ (mirroring Christ) to them. Let’s start participating in the purposes and work of Christ and doing our part in the advancement of the Christian faith, as children and servants of the kingdom of heaven, without stops or impediments, set apart from what the God-rejecting world system throws at us, keeping always in mind who the Lord is and what the Lord wants us to do in our lives. Know Christ, live for Christ and make Him known.

In His Holy name, Brian 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God is with us

Micah 5:2-5 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me 'The One' to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace.

In the Advent season this year, Pastor JJ has been preaching on a series titled “Gift of Messiah – Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ”. And the point is that, though through thorough humbleness of being born in a manger, it is essential that we do not leave Jesus in the manger. This Christmas, may we remember that Emmanuel or  Imanu'el, is Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל means "God is with us". The promised Messiah of God had come into the world, to seek the lost, serve God and save the sinner. Jesus said in Matthew 20:26-28, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Christ is the perfect example that “less is more” and in this case “less is most”. Philippians 2:7-11 tells us that Jesusmade Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There was no fancy wrapping paper on the greatest gift ever given by God to mankind. When we leave God behind in our sins and trespasses, we find in Jesus that God never leaves us behind. Our humanness is so much below Almighty God. God is good and God is love. On Christmas day, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ and it is His blood that covers our sins “and this One shall be peace”.  The distractions of this lawless and immoral world do not give purpose, meaning or peace. This Christmas, give your life to God, accept Jesus your Savior, put your faith in Christ as Lord of your life. And if you already have, then rejoice for the coming of the Lord – for God is with us!  

1 Timothy 2:3-4For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wise Men

Matthew 2:1-11 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Pastor JJ is wrapping up his Sunday sermon series on the Gift of Messiah – Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ on the meaning of the presents presented to the presence of the newborn King. That word present can be defined as a gift, or at hand in the immediate moment, to offer in introduction or to give, to argue a case, or to exist and occupy space. Think about each of these definitions in relationship to Jesus. But there is great meaning in the presents of the wise men too.

The wise men traveled from afar, bowed down, worship and present three gifts to the new born King (prophesied in Psalm 72), because there was something special about Jesus. Christ is the promised Messiah. Let’s take a closer look at the gifts presented.

  1. Gold – this is a precious and regal gift offered for a king and his kingdom’s value. 100% King
  2. Incense – Reserved for the Divine (Frankincense was used in the Alter of Incense in the Temple as prayers and praises rose up to heaven). Jesus was more than just a king, He was the Divine God/man, Spirit/human. 100% God
  3. Mire – This herb was used to embalm the dead, used specifically when preparing a body for burial. In Jesus, a body offered as a gift of atonement, redemption and restoration. 100% Savior
Our destiny is controlled by God in heaven and, from the moment that sin was introduced into the world, the Almighty put into motion His plan for the salvation and restoration of mankind. Our loving and merciful Lord God wanted to be our Rescuer.

Psalm 72:11-13 All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him. For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.

If grateful, what would be an appropriate gift back to God? Nothing compares. The wise men seeked out, showed up, bowed and worshipped the Lord Jesus in dedication and devotion. Will we?  Romans 11:35-12:1 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

How shall we respond? Will we allow His proper place in our heart, in every part of our lives and every action that we take? Is Jesus worthy of our obedience, worship and praise? Evil exists in this world, but Christ came to conquer this world and offers the true and final salvation in the deepest and most intimate relationship on earth. King Herod would rather kill the prophesied Messiah then receive and worship Him because his sin life and lordship were threatened. Isn't this still true with people today? Christians tell the unknowing world about Jesus Christ and His gospel of salvation because worship of the Savior in this world does not happen today. But wise men still seek Him!

Merry Christmas, Brian

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unto Us

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.


Pastor JJ is recovering from a bound with ammonia, so Pastor Jason Oakes of People of the Free Gift  Ministries preached on this great Christmas passage above. Though any sermons could be given on these two priceless verses, he had three points he wanted us to take with us from these wonderful words of holy Scripture today.


First, that God became man. The Creator of the Universe entered into His own creation; that the Divine person of Jesus Christ (the second person of the Trinity – God the Son) was, literally, God with skin on. John 1:14 tells us “The Word (the Christ) became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” The Son of God took on a human body and nature to become both fully man and fully God. This is the Incarnation is what is commemorated and celebrated each year at Christmas. Jesus is the “gift of God” given to those who will receive Him into their heart as Savor and Lord. Colossians 1:27  says, “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”


Secondly, that His salvation and restoration is” now and not yet”. The blessed Redeemer, by His atoning death, in our place, for the remission of sin (the annulment of the debt we owned. Romans 6:23 explains, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus has taken back all that was lost, but has not taken possession of all just yet. We shall never be more “saved”, then the moment that we first believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; the Lord of all and the Savior of the world. Yet, there is sin still in the world and there is a “second coming” of Jesus to take possession. In Mark 13:26-27 the Lord lets us know, “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.”

Thirdly, Christ, the Messiah was given unto us and unto them ... whom-so-ever shall come. Jesus came, born sinless and lived a sinless life, to be the only accept atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world and reconciliation of our relationship with God, our Creator Father in Heaven. Isaiah 57:15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,  the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” Now, by the mercy and grace of God, our Maker, everyone has the opportunity and chance for forgiveness and salvation. 1 John 2:2 declares, “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” Not everyone is going to Heaven. Sin against God separates mankind from the just and holy God of heaven and earth, and must be dealt with by Him. But God is loving and merciful, as 2 Peter 3:9 clarifies that “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” God did not send His Son just for us who believed in Him now, but also for those who will believe and come to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ. You and I never know when God has someone for us to talk to. Someone who needs to know Jesus.
In John 3:16-17, our Lord and Savior reveals the truth about Himself that,  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Merry Christmas! Brian

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Straight & Narrow

Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
It was just yesterday, when the term “straight and narrow” popped into my head, out of the blue. Then today, I open the mail and find an article by the late Pastor Jim Kennedy of the same title. These “ Divine coincidences” are great, as I was previously discussing the obvious two paths that our society is walking today: the crooked and wide road or the straight and narrow path. Kennedy writes that we live in a time when the majority report is virtually always ungodly, unchristian, immoral, and defeatist. The majority report is ever before us: Forget about what God has said, Forget about Him altogether. This is the “popular” way. But God’s way is the Straight and narrow path with the narrow gate that leads to life.

Joshua 24:15And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

American Theologian R.C. Sproul writes that God has ceased to be the Creator in the minds of many, but has become that sorriest of creatures, “God-to-me.” Why can’t some worship other gods and others the God of the Bible? Why can’t they both be true? We have found the god of our age, and it is us. Every one of us has to decide: Are we going to go with the popular view on the wide road or are we going to follow the minority report on the narrow path, which is the Christian faith.

1 Kings 18:21And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
The Christians in this age, as in every age, is not simply to believe. It is not simply to proclaim. We are called also in our belief, and in our proclamation, to defend our faith, to give an answer for the hope that is within us. God not only created us, but gave us understanding. He not only created the universe, but through the creation makes manifest His being and His glory. Are you able to face the truly difficult aspects of life, to stand for Christ when it is unpopular to do so, even in the face of great unpopularity? May you and I be equipped and ready to be used of God in bringing the lost to a “saving” knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the “straight and narrow”, and defending the faith (what you believe and why you believe it) in the face of a God-rejecting, broad world system. Our prayer is that you will be a “great commission witness” to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Be holy.

1 Peter 3:15-16But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

About My Father's Business

Luke 2:41-49 His (Jesus’) parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their  relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

In my thirst to discover more spiritual truth in order to grow and live in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I order and receive many Christian books to read, and cassette tapes, compact disks to listen to, plus VHS tapes and DVD’s to watch. Last night, we watched a video of a local Pastor giving a message on the above Bible passage while in the city of Jerusalem, in Israel. I had neglected that Jesus’ mother states his father (small “f”, referring to His earthly step-father Joseph) and her sought Him, but Jesus immediately speaks about His Father (capital “F”, referring to His Father in Heaven God). Our Father, who has forgiven us of our sins though Jesus Christ, has called us to serve and glorify Him with our lives. SO, each of us should ask ourselves: “Am I about my Father’s business or am I about my own business?” and “Lord, what do you want to do with my life?” We need to have that priority right.

John 8:10-11 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.

Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more”, so we must ask ourselves also, “IS there any sin that I need to repent of … anything that is offensive or displeasing to God?  A healthy church can be summed up with the acronym W.E.L.L. (well). (1) A Worshiping church – with gladness and simplicity of a heart worshiping the Lord. That is why we are here on this earth, existing to bring glory to God and everything else is secondary.  (2) An Evangelizing church – that goes out, as the great Commission of Christ commands, to the four corners of our community and world with the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), making Him known. (3) A Loving church – that loves one another and continues in fellowship. “Koinonia” – love with intimacy, closeness, communion and friendship. (4) A Learning church – one that studies doctrine of the church by the Word of God. If we’re going to be a growing Christian, then we are going to have to be a worshiping Christian, an evangelizing Christian, a loving Christian and a learning Christian.

These are truths from 2000 years ago, and some things never change. Technology comes and goes, but we have the Word of God, and Holy Scripture is as true today as it was back when it was first written. It has not changed one bit, and the relevance of its true statements relates to each one of our lives. We need to say: “Lord, I want to be about your business. I want to, figuratively, walk where Jesus walked by following His example. Father, help me to walk in your footsteps in the way that I live, in the way that I love, and in the way that I behave.” We need to recognize the unconfused sin in the areas of our life that we can deal with now and turn from, then strive to follow Jesus and sin no more. That we can walk as Jesus walked, from the place and station in life that we are at now as we continue this journey, this pilgrimage towards our home in heaven, in His holy name. We must be about our Father’s business.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christ's Mass

Luke 2:6-14 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Christmas (Old English “Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual commemoration of the nativity (time, place and manner of birth) of Jesus Christ, a holiday celebrated on December 25th by billions of people around the world. December 25 had already been identified by Sextus Julius Africanus in AD 221 as the day on which Christmas would be celebrated, and it was celebrated in Rome by AD 336. During the Middle Ages Christmas became extremely popular, and various liturgical celebrations of the holiday were established. The practice of exchanging gifts had begun by the 15th century. In Dutch it is pronounced Kerstmis, in Latin Dies Natalis (the day of birth), whence comes the French word Noël. President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal national holiday in 1870. The bill to make Christmas a holiday was introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Burton Chauncey Cook (Illinois). It was approved and passed to the Senate on June 24, 1870. When both houses had agreed on the wording, it was passed on to President Grant, who signed it into law on June 28, 1870. 

Don’t be afraid to say “Merry Christmas”. It’s a legal national holiday in America. Also, the word holiday is derived from the notion of "Holy Day". The national celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world is only politically incorrect and offensive to those who are perishing in their sin. So Jesus Christ is exactly what the world needs and His gospel of salvation is exactly what the world needs to hear. Joy to the world the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! This season is not about a baby; it's about the coming of the Lord and Savior of all, God incarnate (God with skin on), Emmanuel (God among us). Rejoice!

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.

Merry Christmas! Brian

Friday, December 14, 2012


2 Corinthians 5:8 “To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

December 14th, marks the date of my cousin Laura Walsh Plunkett’s passing. Growing up 2000 miles apart and sixteen years difference in age meant nothing when we met for a family reunion in August of 2007 and connected via e-mail a month later, as we quickly discovered that we were not just biological cousins, but brother and sister in Christ also. Laura wrote on September 21: “You are a very loving soul and I can totally see that. We are both Christians and it is so interesting to me that we both take it so seriously...yet another similarity between us. I do a lot with my church and have found that my faith really kept me grounded when I was diagnosed with cancer.”

When Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32, she began a quest to write a book with her mother and daughter to help other women. Laura went to be with the Lord, her Maker, in 2008, but this year her book titled “Flipped” was published for readers. She started a Breast Cancer awareness foundation named “Pass It On”, spoke publically on the subject and keeping a positive attitude (which is where the term “Flipped” originated – flipping your attitude), and Blogging @ Yes, she is the reason that I started Blogging myself. I picked up some copies of her ten chapter book on for family and friends, and finishing thought that from the e-mails Laura wrote to me, there was an eleventh chapter that the world should hear and be blessed by from this dear Christian woman that “flipped” my life forever.

Chapter Eleven – Laura’s Faith

I have ALWAYS believed this experience is about God healing me, not me dying. It gets hard at times because even among other Christians, I have found that everyone’s faith is different. Faith is a spiritual gift, of which there are many. Each of us have our own strengths and weakness when it comes to the faith is one that has always come easy to me. I try not to take for granted and always want to help others understand that I continue to feel protected and buffered by God. I continue to feel that He is protecting me.

It is so interesting because this whole experience has been surreal for some respects. What I mean is, I continue to feel privileged by my cancer at times. That may sound wacky so I will explain. We have had so many miracles along the way...with doctors, surgeries, modern technology with medicines. I have always felt very guided by God, very directed to do very specific things. The decisions that we have made have always seemed so easy to me, even though others may think we have always taken the hardest road. I have always just taken the road that seemed to make sense for us. My husband is very pragmatic, practical. I have always looked to him for logical reassurance, for understanding that we are making the right decisions when it comes to my health. He has always believed in me, always been gifted with the same knowledge that we are okay....just fine.

With my most recent confirmation of two small tumors on my lungs, one of my breast cancer survivor friends rushed over to my house and panicked...asked if I was okay, etc. She started talking about my faith, about how I have a strong resolve and strong faith and she just didn’t understand how this could happen to me. Her indirect question was how God could let this happen to me. I just consoled her and told her that I had prayed to have access to good information regarding these two spots on my lungs. We had been watching them for a year and I wanted them out of me, regardless of if they were a cancer or not. I did not care what they were, I wanted a clean slate. That is what I am looking for, waiting for....full restoration, just like Job. She was sort of shocked as she seemed so devastated by my situation. But, if there is anything I could share with someone who doesn’t have cancer, it is to just believe that God can heal us. The New Testament talks about Jesus healing people by their own faith in Him. I cling to that and believe it fully. I know I am loved by God and have received way to many blessings by this disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I wasn’t a cancer survivor. If I could take it all back or start all over, I probably would. But, then I remember the story of Job or Noah or Jonah or Abraham. All of them went through suffering and God allowed it to happen because that is just the way life is on earth. Suffering happens. It just does. I am a better person because of all of this and my family (extended, included) are much better, closer. We care about other people more and try to take on causes outside of our world.

For the most part, I just feel like a messenger for other people. I feel like I was supposed to go through this stuff, that God allowed it to happen to me because He knew I would not be destroyed by it. He gave me strong faith so that I would get through all of the treatments. He made my body so it would heal quickly from surgery. He made my heart strong so that I could take the wonder drugs that have side effects on the heart. He made my body strong enough to fight the disease off as best it could for several years without medicine...and the tumors remained small, which is miraculous. I understand that there is a chance I could die from cancer, but I don’t think I will. I think the very opposite, that I was meant to live with it...not die from it. I feel privileged to even understand the distinction, but I do know that other cancers do not have the luxury of screenings and mine does. I know that it is likely my cancer would have spun out of control already if these medicines had not been around. I shudder to think about it, but that is when I remember the power of God and how much He loves me. Just like Job, he allowed him to go through suffering. He did not want it, but He allowed it so that I could grow through it...not be destroyed by it.

I do wonder why I get to live while others may die. I do envision myself living this long life. I know there is a chance I will have to go through surgeries again, but I don’t think I will. I think the tumors are gone. I think we will always take medicines for my disease, but each year they come out with even better meds. Already, my medicines have moved from IV to pill form and they are more effective than before. Doctors can’t prevent cancer, in terms of why cells replicate out of control. But, they can determine characteristics of certain cancers and try to treat them that way. Meaning, my type of breast cancer has a protein that attaches to the cell that fuels the cell growth. So, the medicine attacks seeks the protein and destroys cells with the protein on it. Very smart, huh? I think doctors have realized that the process of cell degradation, which is cancer, happens in all bodies. The best way to prevent tumor growth is to help boost your body’s immune system in many ways.

No doctor can tell me why I got cancer, however, I believe it was probably due to the fact that I am prone to depression and that I did not deal with it very well when I was younger. I am a sensitive person with a sensitive body. I believe that when we are sensitive, emotionally, our bodies are sensitive too. I have sensitive skin and everything. I have allergies galore. so it makes sense that if I got cancer, my body would be sensitive to its growth. I also have a fast metabolism and I am young so my cells regenerate quickly. The good cells do and the bad cells do. So, because of my depression and anxiety that I was not dealing with, I think my immune system was poor. I was self-sacrificial in the worst way...gave too much of myself with nothing left for me. I am not sure how I got this way because I grew up in a loving home, but I do think that because of these factors...and chance...I got cancer. I continue to think that it was all controlled by God, so I use the word “chance” very loosely.

I know cancer and suffering are NOT easy topics. I think many Christians and non-Christians use the topic to put a wall in between God and them. It is easy to be that way. It is only through the grace of God that I do not have that bitterness. I really do think there are two types of people in the world...people who are afraid of life and people who want to control life. I don’t know why, but I do think it is the way. For those who want to control things as a coping mechanism, I think they often have more difficulty with understanding the hard things in life. I have one friend who is a Christian who helped me a lot when I first got breast cancer. She was diagnosed about a year before me and really led me to a great doctor. But, bitterness has eroded the point that she almost expects to have a recurrence. It is bizarre to me because she is perfectly healthy now, yet she feels devastated that cancer happened to her. She has continued to focus on the negative aspects of her situation....which will do no good. There are many bad parts of cancer, but there are many gifts that can come from it. It is all about choice.

For me, I come from that part of society that has feared life...and felt unworthy of God’s love, and love in general. Because of that, I was depression-prone and have let others control my life. This is not in any major way...overall, I have spent my life being a good girl. But, I wasn’t the girl that God wanted me to be...i hadn’t reached my potential or even shot for it because I didn’t think I was worthy of it. For some reason, I think this personality trait has helped me to accept the bad a little better. In many respects, I was expecting it to happen. My anxiety conditioned me to always anticipate the worst. I am no longer like this, can truly see the joy in situations and don’t anticipate the worst. But, I am fully relying on God for my health and my life. I am flying blind most of the time, but the gifts are endless.

I am still afraid to be myself, I worry about what others think of me...that people will misjudge my kindness for me having ulterior motives, etc. But, I know that God is working to change lives through me. I am honored by it, so honored! I hope that my story helps you understand the loving nature of God. Cancer is a difficult subject. I find that I know many people’s stories. I can’t understand why people succumb to cancer because I don’t have that perspective.

I hope that makes sense. I do not mean to sound cold to your situation. I just want you to understand that I do not pretend to have all or any of the answers. I can’t make sense of a lot of people’s cancers. So, I try to help people when they first get diagnosed. From a scientific perspective, I know that is the crux of time when things really matter....when you need to push for the most aggressive treatments. However, I really try to help people think about their health...before any diagnosis so prevention can take place. I want to demystify cancer so people understand it happens in our bodies all the time, that we can equip ourselves to stave it off. I am not overburdened by my surgeries or medicines. For the most part, I am perfectly healthy and to take on all the things I need to. God prepared me for this awakening and continues to condition me for each experience. It is HE who carried me through the bike ride six weeks after surgery, not me. I am just an example of what HE can do. It is up to each of us to tap into it. I want people to tap into his grace NOW so they don’t have to experience cancer at all.

You know that God loves you and you live it in your life, regardless of the sadness you have experienced. I am certain God is smiling down on you because of that. I hope that you can look back at any of those situations and find God in them, know that He was embracing you the whole time...that He was so close to you that you couldn’t see him. I trust that God is working through us and I am so glad that you can do the same. It is a blind trust, but please know my tone is always one of love and my heart is open to help! Each word has been written with love!

For myself, when things got hard or get hard, I picture God wrapping his arms around me, embracing me fully....or the dove holding me tightly in its wings. It is a picture of the emotional equivalent of the protection I feel from HIM. He wants to do that for all of us, is waiting for us!

How blessed are we!
With love, Laura

Today, I honor you Laura.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Godly Love and Justice

1 John 4:9-16In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

This last week, our small group Bible Study, continuing on our series “Knowing God”, we took a look at God’s essential nature of love and justice. As we've delved into the Word of God, we've seen that He is the self-existent, self-sufficient Creator, who is righteous, just, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present Sovereign that rules over all; a God of truth who never changes. But some may ask, “How can a God, being love in essence, have wrath against sin and send sinners to hell?” You read about it in verses like Deuteronomy 7:9-10  “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.

In these passages that describe God, is there a mixed message or are we seeing His love and His justice? As in Exodus 34:6-7  Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth; who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” A judge that doesn’t punish convicted criminals would not be good or just. He may love the criminal but hate the crime. A “just” God must punish sin, so how can a merciful God manifest His love to a lost in sin world? Romans 5:8-10 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

You and I are loved unconditionally and eternally by God. Can we grasp that? Once we come to God, acknowledge our sin in repentance, admit our impotence to save ourselves and our need of a Savior, His love will be poured out in our heart through the Holy Spirit of God, who He gives us. Once we truly believe, once we truly receive Jesus, absolutely nothing will ever be able to separate us from His ever-lasting love. God holds us in His hand. No one can take us out of this hand (John 10:27-30). Isn’t that reassuring to know? There is love and there is justice.

Ephesians 2:4-5  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Stand next to the spout where the grace pours out.

In Christ, Brian