Wednesday, April 30, 2014

George Washington's Prayer

Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ. Amen

George Washington, First President of the United States of America

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Remember – Part 2

Psalm 33:10-11 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

Indian-born, Canadian-American Christian apologist elucidates: “After we went through the period of rationalists and then the empiricists, and then the existentialists; the rationalists preoccupied with mind and truth, the empiricists preoccupied with science and truth, the existentialist with feelings, emotions and truth, the postmodernist comes and throws all of them out.

Dr. Tackett explains that “Postmodernism” is the contemporary philosophical perspective that rejects both revelation and reason – takes this process to an extreme conclusion by denying the validity of all comprehensive truth systems, or what it calls “metanarratives” (an over-arching story, philosophy or world-view that seeks to explain reality), including Christianity. Simply stated, the postmodern perspective maintains that there is no “larger story”. Instead, everyone must tell his or her own story and invent (if possible) his or her own concept of meaning and significance. In other words, history does not exist at all except as it exists in our minds, where it can bee edited and tailored to further our own goals and meet our own needs in the present. When you begin to destroy any sense of belonging to a larger story and it’s simply about you, then we lose any kind of connection with the answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?”  If the meaning of life begins with us, then our purpose is shallow. Much of our problem is that we want to be in control with the script of our life, but if we trust in our ability, instead of God, then we would have no hope. But, they have forgotten the reality that Creator God is sovereign and in control. Remember, the reality is that you and I have been created as free agents, yet we are also subject to the sovereignty of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

The Mayflower Compact, written by the Pilgrims, starts: “in the name of God Amen. We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken , for the glory is God, and advancement of the Christian faith, a voyage to plant the first colony …”. William Bradford, one of the Pilgrim Fathers and the leader of the Plymouth Colony in America wrote of the Pilgrims: “Their desires were set on the ways of God, and to enjoy His ordinances; but they rested on His Providence and knew whom they had believed. They cherished the great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”  You cannot live like this, unless you are caught up in God’s grand story! It is not about us, but about God and what He is doing (His purpose and plan). Remember, You and I will not find rest in our own story, but in God’s, because we are all a part of His story.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Remember – Part 1

 Isaiah 46:9-11 “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

Our church is half way through the Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project” series in our mid-week Bible study. This last week, we were covering “Historical Revisionism” in America today. A part of the inference of the session is that there is something in our culture that is the opposite of, and in direct opposition to “truth”. The assault on God began in the first Historical Revision in Genesis 3:1, when the great deceiver, clothed as a serpent asked: “Did God really say …?”, in a direct attempt to restate the past. The answer is never to pretend that the attacks are not happening, but to give a defense of God and His holy Word, Will and Way, by first knowing and understand the truth, then, as a light of that truth in the darkness, stand firm and speak the truth in love that all may see and know. The rewards are awesome.
Ephesians 4:14-16 So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Historical Revisionism is a process where history is altered or the past is reinterpreted in order to accomplish a particular agenda or objective. The principle is that what you believe in the present is determined by the past. If you rewrite the past, you can make people believe whatever you want in the present. Because of this principle, history becomes critical in the cosmic battle of who determines “right” from “wrong”. Our Friday night Small Group home Bible Study group has been going through a Kay Arthur series: “Being a Disciple – Counting the Cost” and it also illuminates the struggle between the darkness and “the Light”, because it is real. Professor Dr. Del Tackett says that there is a large liberal agenda to maliciously rewrite history in order to leave Christian themes and God out of public academia. If atheistic secular humanism can change your historical context, they can change the way you view the present.

Deuteronomy 8:10-14And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,  and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God.”

  • George Orwell, writer of such dystopian classics as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, stated: “He who controls the past, controls the future.” 
  • German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx said: “A people without a heritage are easily persuaded.”
  • English writer, retired prison doctor and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple expels: “The importance of knowing history is that one realizes that one is the recipient of a tradition, that the world did not begin with one’s self nor will it end with one’s self. Ignorance of history has the effect that people don’t think even of their own lives in historical terms. Without history nothing has meaning. People don’t understand that life is a biography and they don’t actually see that what they have done earlier in their lives has any impact on what happens to them afterward. If you don’t have a certain knowledge of history then you can’t understand anything about the modern world.” 
  • English author and social critic Os Guinness declares: “Where we came from, the past and history, is the key to who we are, and those who do not know history have no sense of identity and no sense of wisdom as they explore where they are going to go. Without history, we are lost – both in terms of identity and in terms of the wisdom of the way that we will go.”
  • Philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana is known for his famous saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
I'll finish this study on the importance of history and remembering God's Providence, Promises, Plans and Purposes on the next post. Blessings to you and yours.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Strain Forward & Press On - Part 3

Philippians 3:10-16 “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (NASB)

And now we come to the conclusion of our Easter Sunday sermon by Pastor Kyle of City Church in Anaheim, California where he asks us to think of the culture that we live in today. We live in a culture of comfort. We are the only culture in civilization to have such instead gratification. We have the most comfortable beds, the best cars to meet and exceed our needs, we have our songs on our playlists, and little devices that keep us in touch with anything and everything 24/7/365 with as little effort as humanly possible. As a popular Country song today says: “everything became automatic”. We just about have whatever we want, whenever we want it. This culture does not really understand effort. Spiritual growth feels like work because it is and that’s why we need the body of Christ. If you try to do this whole “you and God” thing alone, then you are going to end up exhausted and, at some point, throwing in the towel because it is so easy to get caught up in “what lies behind” that we stop “straining forward to what lie ahead”. I think that this is true in every way in life.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.”

Where do you need to ‘strain forward’ in your life? The deepest work that God want to do in you is the next one. I think that memories are awesome when you look back on your faith (the time and experiences of the things that you went through), if they serve to fan and fire up the flame of faith in your heart. But, when we look back and say: “Man, I can never get back to where I use to be spiritually”, I think that we are getting stuck in ‘what lies behind’ and forgetting that God wants us to “Press on”. If you think about the picture of Easter, I think this is exactly it … some of you have things in your life, right now, that you rightfully look at and say; “That’s dead, it’s done, their buried in a grave somewhere. But, the picture of Easter is that God can take dead things and bring them to life. So what is there in your life that feels dead that God says: “I want to bring life to this.”? Where do you need to ‘strain forward’, to ‘forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead’? 

Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
I can press on by keeping my eyes on the prize – an eternity with Jesus; that is the ‘eternal perspective’. Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” This is the great hope of your lost loved ones who knew Jesus Christ; that God has transformed them. That, one day, all who placed their hope in Him will be made like Him. The purpose and point of this life is not this life. The point of this life and the prize that we are living for is to spend eternity with Jesus Christ. God promises to do four things for us … (1) He promises to forgive us of all of our sins – no matter what we’ve done, (2) He promises to adopt us into His family as His own sons and daughters, (3) He promises to fill us with the Holy Spirit to give us power to live the life that He wanted us to live, and lastly (4) He promises to give us eternal life in Jesus Christ – beyond anything that we can ask for, dream or imagine and that eternal life is the prize that we are ‘straining forward’ for in each and every one of our lives.

2 Peter 3:1-3I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles. Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.”

If I have one prayer for all of us on Easter 2014, It is that we would keep our eyes on that prize. That we would constantly remind ourselves that this life is not about me; it’s about the prize, it’s about Jesus, and it’s about living with Him in eternity. You see, Easter was not just about “Salvation”; it was also about securing our eternal citizenship and our home in Heaven with God. Heaven is the great hope of the Christian life, but heaven is not guaranteed to everyone. Heaven is only guaranteed to those who believe and put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ on this side of eternity. So if you were to die today, are you 100% sure that you would be with Jesus in Eternity? If the Lord asked you: “Why should I let you into My heaven?”, what would you say?” Does God own you? Or, do you just kind of treat Him like a Counselor and advisor to you? We have to give God ownership of our life and say: “You are the One who is in control.”

Ephesians 2:1-9And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The fact of the matter is, He is the only One that can bring new life from dead things. All of us have this thing called “Sin” in our lives that separates us from God, because our Sovereign Creator is Holy and Just, so cannot be in the presence of that sin. But, that is why our Father in Heaven sent Jesus to pay the price that we never could. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, then ‘strain forward’ and ‘press on’ toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. For Christ has risen!

Pastor Kyle

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Strain Forward & Press On – Part 2

Philippians 3:10-16 “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (NASB)

Continuing on our Easter Sunday sermon, Pastor Kyle came to the second point that we can press on by forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. We are far from perfect. The Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the epistles of the New Testament, writes: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal”. He is says that he doesn’t have it all together and still working it out. May we never put forth an image that we have it all together either. How do we keep from portraying that image? By remembering where we come from. Remembering how desperately sinful each and every one of us is in the sight of God.

Psalm 105:4Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

The Apostle Paul, before meeting Jesus and being converted, arrested Christians and had them put to death. As he was writing this letter to the Philippians, he was in prison awaiting execution but is able to write: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal”. What Paul is saying is, “You know what guys? Let’s not get so caught up on the negative things that the world has to say because all those things don’t serve to further the gospel or advance the kingdom of God.” Let me ask you a question: What does it mean to strain forward in your walk with God? I think that it is kind of like a spiritual working out of our salvation (Phil. 2:12-13). Straining requires effort.

Isaiah 40:29-31He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

We want the results, but do not want to go through the process that it takes to get there. For example, anyone can get a gym membership to get in shape, but in order to get the desired results you have to go there and do the workouts, doing hart stuff that you don’t want to do. Spiritual growing requires straining forward and pressing on. How do you keep forward and not reverting back? On of the ways is that we stay connected to the body of Christ and develop key relationship within the church. Sometimes, we just need a little encouragement to get over the hump because we are going to have those moments when we feel that we are incapacitated and in trouble (aka “hosed”). We’re going to have moments when we think that this whole Christianity thing is too hard and wonder if we can live it out. So we need those key relationships within the church, the body of Christ, to help us be accountable and grow.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Additionally, Rows of Pews on Sunday, when we come together to praise and worship God corporately, is a great and awesome time. And circles of small group studies, where we are learning how life is happening and how to get through it, allows us to experience what it feels like while promoting unity and intimacy. All this within the local church is about getting back into spiritual shape the way that God designed us to grow. If I do not apply my salvation, then I do not grow the way that God designed me to grow. At times when we are weak in our faith or when life gets hard, God wants to strengthen us, and we need that support of the body of Believers with Jesus Christ as the head. The church is here so that you can find those key relationships in your life, to keep you straining forward. 

1 Timothy 4:7-8Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

Coming to the home stretch in this thought-provoking Easter message to us all, we’ll pick up Pastor Kyle’s Easter Sermon again here on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strain Forward & Press On – Part 1

Philippians 3:10-16 That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (NASB)

Last Sunday, our little church in Anaheim, California combined with another church for a joint Easter Sunday Worship service. Lead Pastor Kyle of City Church preached the sermon on the above Bible passage of holy Scripture, reminding us that the Easter message is that Jesus has risen defeating sin and death; the tomb is empty, now go live like it. That we can “press on” because of what Christ has done for us; we can live the resurrection life. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with the God that paid it all for you and I on the cross, so that you can live your life in and through Him. God is not just interested in our going to church on Easter Sundays, but wants us to make this resurrection life a part of our every day living.

Isaiah 43:1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”

The great truth of Easter is that we can “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” because Christ Jesus has made us His own. What does it mean to take ownership of something? A good example is the day that you bring your little baby home from the hospital; that ownership of that child as parent changes your life forever. Inherent in ownership is responsibility. When God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world, Jesus owned our sins as His own. We belong to Him, but how did He make us His own? The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” and in 1 Peter 1:17-19 “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

The fact is that we are only truly His when we give God the ownership of our lives. But ownership is only present in our lives as long as we let the Lord own us. When we take control back in our lives, pridefully, what we are practically saying is: “You know what God? I own me and I can do a better job of running me than you know how to.” Ownership implies responsibility and when Jesus rose from the dead, He paid the price of our sins in full. He didn’t pay just the minimum credit card balance payment for our sins. That’s the big difference between the old and New Testament. Every sacrifice made prior to Jesus was like that minimum payment on that credit card. Jesus owned my sins and paid for them in full on the cross. Jesus made us His own by dying on the cross for us and rising from the grave so that we could have the hope of the resurrection. I want you to know that no matter what we’ve done, Jesus paid for it all. All sins, past, present and future, Jesus paid them all in full. What we simply have to do is to confess that truth with our mouths and believe it in our hearts, and God says that we’ll be “saved” (Roman 10:9).

We’ll continue Pastor Kyle’s Easter Sermon on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Weekly List of Things to Remember

Psalm 96:4-10aFor great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble  before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resurrection Sunday 2104

Proverbs 10:16The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.”

Easter (Old English Ēostre), also called the Pasch or Pascha (the two latter names derived, through Latin: Pascha and Greek Πάσχα Paskha, from Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesa), or Resurrection Sunday. I read that the English word “Easter” is from the Anglo-Saxon word Eastre, a pagan goddess whose festivals (called Eastron) were in the spring season. The festival represented the rising of the sun, new life and a new beginning. Also related are the words East, the directions of the rising sun and yeast, a substance which makes bread rise.

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When Christianity came to northern Europe, the resurrection of the Lord fit into the tradition of new life and a rising and hence called Eastre or Easter by the people. The German word for Easter, "Osteren" is also similar in origin, Ost being East. In most other European languages the word for the Easter festival is taken from the name of the Jewish Passover - Pesach in Hebrew then Pascha in Greek and Latin, Pasqua in Italian, Pacques in French, Pascua in Spanish. From this the English Paschal derived, as in the Pascal (Passover) Lamb.

Romans 3:20-24Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection are God's provision for the perfect and final sacrifice for man's sins. God requires no other payment for sins! With this provision, mankind is granted opportunity for new life by the forgiveness of sin and escape from its bondage. It is ours for the mere acceptance of this gift. From death to life.

Romans 6:4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

There is new life, life anew and life eternal in the blessed Redeemer and Savior of the world Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death, because He is risen! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 19, 2014

God's Photo Album - The Bigger Story

Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

Click this video below:

As our personal photo albums chronicle the history of our life. We find in God's Photo album of the pages of the Bible, that our life's story is really a part of God's "Bigger Story". It's our "Family Photo Album".

In Christ, Brian

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday to You

Romans 3:24-25 “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.

Jesus paid a debt that He didn’t owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay. Today is “Good Friday” because “Justification” has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. The penalty of our sins was paid in full by the substitutionary sacrifice of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. Jesus took upon himself our sins and we take His righteousness upon ourselves by accepting the “free” gift of “Good Friday” by faith ... "saving faith". We cannot earn it. We cannot purchase it. We do not deserve it. This is the unmerited favor by the grace of God out of His love and mercy towards us. Rejoice! Jesus died for you and me. Good Friday to you!

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is "Maundy Thursday?

 John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Growing up in The Christian nation of the United States of America, I looked forward to “Easter Vacation” off from school during “Holy Week”. The church season of Easter was never was explained to me back then, but I did understand the time as remembering and honoring the sinless life, atoning death and sin-conquering resurrection of our redeeming Savior Jesus Christ – the Son of God sent by God, the Father out of mercy and love for the remission of sin. I have no problem with traditional holy seasons that focus our attention and bring to remembrance, for praise and celebration, the Providence of God to us. We need reminders of what God has done, is doing and what He is going to do in the future for us based upon His purposes in His bigger story for this world. Here’s what the “Net” says:

Easter (Old English Ēostre; Latin: Pascha; Greek Πάσχα Paskha, the latter two derived from Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesaḥ) is a festival and holiday, now celebrated both by Christians and non-Christians, that was instituted to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament.  Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide, or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. This is what this holy season and this “Holy Week” is all about.

Today is Maundy Thursday. The world wide web says that the word Maundy is derived from the Latin word “mandatum”, meaning "commandment," Maundy refers to the commands Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: to love with humility by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice. Maundy Thursday is observed during Holy Week on the Thursday before Easter. That’s today! Also referred to as “Holy Thursday” or "Great Thursday" in some Christian denominations, Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. In contrast to joyful Easter celebrations when Christians worship their resurrected Savior, Maundy Thursday services are typically more solemn occasions, marked by the shadow of Jesus' betrayal.
While different denominations observe Maundy Thursday in their own distinct ways, two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday solemnizations: Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus "showed them the full extent of his love." By his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another through humble service. For this reason, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it. He broke the bread into pieces, giving it to his disciples and said, "This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, "This wine is the token of God's new covenant to save you--an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you." These events recorded in Luke 22:19-20 describe the Last Supper and form the biblical basis for the practice of Communion. For this reason, many churches hold special Communion services as a part of their Maundy Thursday celebrations. Likewise, many congregations observe a traditional Passover Seder meal.

This is what Maundy Thursday is about, and we can rejoice in it. Blessings.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

King Of Creation

Christian Film producers Illustra Media, who brought us such amazing "Creation Science" documentaries as "Flight: the Genius of Birds", "Metamorphosis: the Beauty and design of Butterflies", "The Privileged Planet: the Search for Purpose in the Universe", "Unlocking the Mystery of Life", "Where Does the Evidence Lead?" and more, has completed a six year project worked in-between their other major projects; a film focused exclusively on God's great revelations to us: the physical grandeur and wonder of the earth and universe, and the enduring truth that fills the pages of the Bible. Per Illustra Media, "King of Creation: Meditations on God's Wisdom and Works" is purely devotional in its message and purpose.

As a financial supporter of the ministry, La Mirada Films (Illusta Media's subsidiary branding) sent me an advanced copy of this motivating new production, which combines beautiful cinematography, heart-warming orchestrated hymn music with soul-touching vocals, and inspiring Bible verses read aloud throughout. My wife and I sat down just last night to enjoy this awesome spirit-stirring worship experience which focuses us on what life is truly about in worshipping our Lord God. 

This 40 minute DVD is comprised of seven stand-alone meditations that each explores a specific facet of God's creation, character and attributes, designed to be the perfect antidote for the stress and pressures of today. The segments are titled: (1) Whiter than Snow, (2) Living Water, (3) A New Creation, (4) An Everlasting Sign, (5) The Heavens Declare, (6) Seek First His Kingdom, and (7) My Only Hope. I can see each short featured subject ideal for opening devotions for Bible Study or personal devotion times at home. 

In review, this DVD immediately brought back memories of quiet times in the past, where I was alone in God's incredible, yet peaceful, beauty of nature, taking in the wonderful majesty before my eyes and ears, of the true splendor of stunning and delightfully scenic mountains, forests, deserts, brooks, waterfalls and sea shores. Illustra could not have said it better when they said: "sit down in a comfortable chair, and spend a few moments reflecting on the magnificence and promises of the Maker of heaven and earth. "King of Creation" does just that. I pray that you get a chance to purchase a copy of this outstanding film production and share it with your family and friends, because they will be truly blessed by the experience. View the Opening introduction below and see.

In Christ, Brian