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Monday, December 27, 2010

I Saw That Coming

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalms 103:19 (New American Standard Bible)

I once knew a Christian lady who would become angry whenever the prophetic words of Jesus were spoken of. She believed the Bible was God’s word but balked for some reason at prophecy. Even after talking with her about the glorious message and hope in the prophetic side of the Bible I never had a clear understanding why she felt that way. The words of God’s prophecies bring hope. Almost 1/3 of the Bible deals with future events; some already fulfilled and some yet to be.

We’re heading into the New Year with a lot of grief traveling with us. There is a great moral lapse in America and in the world in which millions push God away and practice wickedness with no fear. Justice is perverted. Those in power take advantage of citizens while pushing destructive agendas. Add to this the organizations that threaten and murder innocent people by the score sowing the seeds of fear and dread. Nations rattle swords with impending rumors of hostilities. At the time of this writing North and South Korea are standing on the brink of reigniting a full scale war on the peninsula with possibility of nuclear intervention which could possibly drag the human race into World War III. We may be less than two years away from Iran developing a nuclear device which surely would become a major threat to Israel and world peace. And it goes on and on. But there is hope.

Jesus Christ was the ultimate prophet of history. He not only foretold future last day events but prophesied of His own life in His death and resurrection. Christ fulfilled 48 prophecies from the writings of the Old Testament prophets. Just to have fulfilled only 8 the odds would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power. To have fulfilled all 48 prophecies the odds are astronomical at an astounding 1 in 10 to the 157th power. It looks like this; the smallest object known to man is the electron. It is so small that it will take 2.5 times (10 to the 15th power) to make a single file line one inch long. Counting this one inch long line of electrons at 250 per minute, day and night, would take 19 million years to count just that one inch. Let’s suppose we mark only 1 electron and stir it back into the mass, blindfold a person and tell them to find the marked electron. Those are the same odds of any man fulfilling 48 prophecies as it is recorded Jesus Christ did in His lifetime (Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p 167).

I don’t know about you but believing in a God who can do that builds within me a lot of hope that the world will soon be redeemed and returned to its first estate. The Apostle Paul likened the travail of the present earth system to a woman laboring in birth pains (Romans 8:22, 23). We agonize in our spirits as we wait for God to return and set things right. As God is a loving heavenly Father He desires to show us His plans so we may be encouraged. God will fulfill all the things He promised through His Son. Be encouraged as we enter the New Year; the odds are in our favor things will turn out just fine.


Monday, December 20, 2010

O Come Let Us Show our Teeth

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. John 10:22, 23 (New American Standard Bible)

We seldom stop to think that Jesus enjoyed life and being in the company of festive people. The Gospels tell of Him attending a wedding, being invited into people’s homes for dinner and fellowship and even being in Jerusalem during Hanukah (Feast of Dedication). If we carefully study the life of Christ we do not find a humorless or dour Savior. Some people even believe it is blasphemous to imagine Jesus ever smiled or laughed when He was like us in every respect. Being 100% God He was also 100% human. Instead we find in Jesus a Man who loved to be social and was totally comfortable and happy in every group situation.

Somewhere along the line the view of Jesus’ humanity got skewed into pigeon holing Him into some kind of sourpuss who looked down on those who had something funny to add to a conversation; or who laughed out loud at a party. Can you imagine what a party with that kind of man would be? Dead silence with Jesus sitting in a corner frowning and glowering and an occasional dip of a chip. Don’t enjoy yourself and for heaven’s sake show no merriment in its proper context. God has a tremendous sense of humor. Just look at creation and the many hilarious animal clips on “The Planet’s Funniest Animal Videos.” Studying the Puritans carefully one finds even they enjoyed a good party with fiddles, food and dancing.

Jesus did come to give us life and that to the fullest. He was human in every sense and that would include enjoying event celebrations and entering into gaiety and laughter. I believe He is immeasurably pleased when we enter celebratory occasions with cheerfulness and joy. As we greet one another during this Christmas season let’s laugh and even toast one another with a cup of eggnog and give praise and thanks to the One we celebrate. That’s enough to make anyone smile. Merry Christmas to you all and blessing for a very happy new year.


Monday, December 13, 2010

You Can Go Back

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10 (New American Standard Bible)

I’m pretty sure if I took the Gospel message to a group of people and they abused me I would more than likely shake the dust off my feet and say “Tough luck, guys. You had your chance. I’m out of here.”  The history of the Christian faith has many folk who have chosen to go back. In 1956 Christian and Missionary Alliance light bearer, Jim Elliot, and 4 fellow missionaries were brutally slain in the jungles of Ecuador by members of the Auca Indian tribe as they tried to share the message of God’s love. While Jim Elliot couldn’t go back his wife, Elisabeth, did. She returned and spent 2 years ministering to the people who were responsible for shattering her life. Several of the Auca men who had participated in the murder of her husband became Christians as a result. The Apostle Paul was stoned at Lystra and his body dumped outside the city. He miraculously stood up and returned to the city which had almost ended his life (Acts 14:10). Hudson Taylor’s first endeavors to bring the gospel to China seemed to bring defeat. In 1855, 18 preaching tours to Shanghai were poorly received by the Chinese people and his medical supplies were lost to fire. In 1856 he was robbed of nearly all he owned. The year 1858 brought the death of his child. Taylor remained in China for another 51 years, in that time he was able to bring 800 missionaries over and establish 125 schools while learning 4 Chinese dialects.

How could they do it? The world believes the message of the cross is foolishness while we who are being saved know it is the power of God (1st Corinthians 1:18). No man or woman born of Adam’s seed can do it on their own. Those who do are endowed with the same Spirit of our loving Heavenly Father that came back to Adam’s lost race to redeem it; the same human race who murdered His Only Begotten Son. The thought of it is glorious in its theme. No other belief system unveils such a Divine Being or offers such hope to those who feel so hopeless. The example serves me well. I can say to those who abuse me “Hey, I’m back. How can I be of service?” This is the Christmas season where we celebrate the birth of He who became flesh and dwelt among us bringing light into our darkness, opening the eyes of the blind, healing the broken hearted and proclaiming the acceptable year of our Redeemer God. You have loved us with an everlasting love Jesus. I'm so grateful You came back for me.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gobbling up God's Blessing

O come; let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms. Psalms 95: 1,2 (New American Standard Bible)

My three-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, was recently in my office checking out a calendar which was turned to the month of November. She pointed to the last Thursday and asked why the number was in red. “That means that day is Thanksgiving. Do you know what Thanksgiving Day means?” Without a beat she threw her arms up and said, “We eat turkey!”

I believe that is one of the many things we have to be thankful for. In America we are surely blessed even with all the evil that is apparent within our society. I was sitting on my front porch a couple of days ago and was thankful for the peace and relative safety of not having to worry about having a mortar round dropped on my house or being shot at or kidnapped by thugs or martyred for my faith in Christ. Then I thought of the smaller of blessing like being able to draw my next breath. That set me to thinking of the little capillaries of thanksgiving that I tend to take for granted like my sight, my hearing and even my sense of touch.

Even with all our woes we are still the recipients of great blessing in so many ways. Looking over the rough spots of life and at the positive aspects of what we have can bring us to be in awe of what God has given us. When we stop to consider what we do have there’s a whole boatload of things, both physical and spiritual, for which we can raise our voices of Thanks. Thanks be to God who gives us bread instead of stone and fish instead of scorpions and serpents. Giving thanks to Him for the many large and small blessings we experience every day can be so easy-as easy as our next breath.

Thank you Jesus for the many things you do for me and for the blessings you bestow both in my physical world and what You have done and continue to do for me in spiritual places. You hold all things together and all I am is only because of your grace.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All in the Open

But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth. For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.” Acts 26:25, 26 (New American Standard Bible)

Lee Patrick Strobel, who was a veteran reporter for the “Chicago Tribune,” was an avowed atheist who in 1980 set out to prove the accounts of Jesus Christ were untrue. His careful quest became nearly a two year investigation into all the historical data concerning Jesus of Nazareth. At the end of his search he was amazed that the evidence, instead of cementing his atheistic viewpoint, brought him face-to-face with God’s Only Begotten Son. At that time he knew he needed to make a choice as to what to do with the Living Christ. The atheist became a believer and one of His most ardent champions. The disciple John said of his experience with Jesus that He had witnessed Christ in human form and physically interacted with him in a real space/time sense (John 1:14, 1st John 1:1-3). The disciple Peter also said that the story of Jesus wasn’t some clever story that was created by some crafty liars but that Jesus was actually witnessed in His power and glory (2nd Peter 1:16). All of Jesus’ disciples but John died martyrs deaths, their witness being written in their own blood. This thing surely was not done in some corner.

No other person of antiquity has been so fully documented by eye witness accounts as Jesus of Nazareth. Even His enemies admitted He was the doer of miraculous things (John 11:47, Acts 3:1-10, 4:10, 14-16). Why is it so easy to admit Caesar and his Roman legions crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC but stumble at the overwhelming evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really lived and did the things He did? He never left it so we would wonder that all he was was some great teacher. I like what C.S. Lewis said concerning Jesus;

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – Mere Christianity, p 52.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What This Country Needs

For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 2nd Corinthians 1:20 (New American Standard Bible)

I voted today and as I did I thought about all the promises that are made by candidates to their constituents and how 90% or more of those promises are never fulfilled either through the elected altering them through self interest or by cunning design. As I checked my candidates of choice I thought of today’s verse and I’m so happy God makes promises He keeps. His yes remains yes.

At the core of this message is Jesus Christ who affirms the security of God’s word to us. God is always faithful to fulfill His promises even if the final end comes far in the future. Consider Abraham who waited for Isaac to be born to him; Joseph who waited in prison for years and was finally vindicated; the followers of Jesus who completely broken after His death found Him fulfilling God’s promise that first Easter morning.

To all of God’s promises we can simply say “faithful” (yes) and “let it be so (Amen).” These promises result in our good and bring glory to God. And as sure as the sun rises every day so are the promises God makes to us and establishes to us with surety through Christ. We vote for people who promise us happy days never sure of what we’ll get. With the surety of God’s promises happy days have always been with us.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Picture Perfect

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Revelation 1:17, 18 (New American Standard Bible)

The name of Jesus is blasphemed more than any other name in history. One never hears the name Buddha, Gandhi or Swedenborg used in vain. Hollywood is particularly accountable of profaning the Only Begotten Son’s holy name. But do those who misuse His name and title truly understand of whom they speak? The apostle John was given a personal glimpse of Christ as He is now. I believe if people took the time to see the reality of the Glory of Jesus they would think twice about uttering His name in vain. Revelation 1:12-18 gives the most specific and beautifully stunning picture of the physical Jesus we’ve ever had.

The long robe and golden sash He wears were part of the priestly attire of the high priests God instructed Moses to make in the wilderness (Exodus 28:4). Jesus is our High Priest who is constantly interceding for us to our heavenly Father. His whiter than white hair corresponds to the complete holiness and eternity of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13, John 17:5). His eyes blazing like fire indicate His piecing judgment of sin. His feet glowing like brass in a furnace speak of sacrifice for sin and the heavenly pronouncement against it. His voice as rushing waters speaks of His great power. Holding the seven stars (churches) in His hand show His sovereign possession. The sword coming out of His mouth, based on a weapon of that day, speaks of His role as Judge. The gladius was a doubled edged sword used by the Romans in a slicing/stabbing action designed to kill. He is no longer the helpless babe of Bethlehem but the mightiest King and Sovereign Lord of the entire universe. Shining like the sun expresses the highest glory.

It is understandable that John was so overcome with fear he fell down and couldn’t move. The surprise is this Mighty King who holds all this power and authority laid His right hand on him and said “Don’t be afraid.” In this day and age when the name and person of Jesus Christ is mocked, maligned and slandered it does good to revisit the account of who He really is and will be for eternity. Surely His mighty power astonishes yet His love and touch is tender, affecting and emotionally stirring. He is so much more than the world gives Him credit for. Jesus, seen in all His glory is a sight that awes. Truly one picture is worth a thousand words.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Oldest and Biggest

And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does he prospers. Psalms 1:3 (New American Standard Bible)

In the Bible trees usually represent strength and beauty. There are a couple of good representations that exist in our world today. Two trees are the Bristlecone Pine Tree and the Giant Sequoia Redwood. The Bristlecone Pine lives primarily in the White-Inyo Mountains of California. It has been reckoned to be the oldest living thing on earth at an estimated age of 4,767 years. It has existed all those years in a high and harsh environment. The Giant Sequoia is the second of the mighty trees. Redwood trees can live well over 2000 years and are the largest trees on the planet with heights of nearly 300 feet weighing in at an amazing 5,511,500 pounds (2500 metric tons).

The Psalmist says that those whose meditation is on the Lord are influenced by the Word of God. Such meditation involves study, practice of what they learn and times of solitary time alone and like a tree, abiding in the Word of Life. This is possible only if a person desires to do so. David calls doing this a ‘delight.’ As we do that we are like trees firmly rooted. What we do will prosper and we will be like fruitful trees. This prosperity is fruit ‘in its season’ and not necessarily immediately. But it will come around as surely as apples in springtime. What the godly person does will be influenced and controlled by the Law of God.

Firm roots make it difficult to walk off the righteous path. Christ delights in feeling ourselves take root in Him and growing down into the clean, rich soil of His righteousness. The Lord Jesus isn’t concerned if we own the title of oldest or biggest. He wants us to be the deepest.


Monday, October 11, 2010

How Sweet the Sound

God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us- [Selah. That thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations. Psalms 67:1,2

The song Amazing Grace has lost some of its luster for me over the years. I’ve been disappointed for a long time with how this beautiful hymn has become a canned “standard” for the world that is played in movies, the media and at various worldly gatherings. It feels to me as if it has become a “feel good” salve for the secular conscience. It's an attempt at piety in which people try to meet with the Living God without having to be in the same room with Him. This kind of use of the hymn has many times soured me on hearing it but the message remains as strong and vibrant as when it was first penned by John Newton in 1779.

The grace and life changing power of Jesus Christ is still a tremendous catalyst for change over the years. Many skeptics and even those hostile to the gospel have been radically changed for the better upon truthfully coming face-to-face with its message. People like the English journalist Frank Morrison, the agnostic C. S. Lewis, New York gang leader Nicky Cruz, former White House aide Chuck Colson, author Eugenia Price, and former U.S. senator Mark Hatfield to name a few. Many continue to come out of the nations; Zaire, Japan, Hong Kong, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Canada, Vietnam and every other realm on earth. Surely every nation, ethnic group and language contains a remnant that loves and praises the bringer of that grace.

Even if the message of grace has been watered down by the world the power of it has never diminished. In a world of 7 billion humans there are conceivably hundreds of thousands every single day who hear the message of amazing grace and believe in the Chosen One who brought it. That is an encouragement to those of us who believe and a blessed hope to those yet to discover how amazing God’s grace really is. It is a daily blessing that is also an eternal hope. The Church of God continues and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it. All praise to God.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Putting the English on it

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God night and day.” Revelation 12:10 (NASB)

I believe it was baseball manager Yogi Berra who was asked by a reporter why his team lost the game that day. Berra replied, “I guess we made too many of the wrong mistakes.”

When it comes to the mistakes we’ve made in our lives, Satan, the ultimate adversary, runs to God to condemn us. He is certainly good at it because he has been at it for thousands of years. But for those of us who are believers in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ all condemnation is worthless. When the accuser says to God; “(Your name here) has done (you name it) and certainly deserves to be punished and forsaken by You,” Christ immediately stands up in our defense and says, “Father (your name here) may have done (you name it) but that was put on me at the cross and forgiven by my blood. This charge has been pardoned. It won’t stick.”

When Satan brings up our past the Lord must remind him of his future for he will be cast down. Whether your mistakes were the right kind or the wrong doesn’t matter. Did Christ’s sacrifice on the cross take care of some sins or all of them? If you leave them at Calvary they are forgiven and forgotten. When Satan accuses us of making the wrong mistakes, through Christ you can eject him from the game. When Jesus was nailed to the cross Satan is the one who got hammered. That’s a message that don’t need no clarifyin’.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Out of the Fog

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34, 35 (New American Standard Bible)

Do you know the Boy Scouts of America came to be because a man was lost in the fog? The Boy Scouts was originally introduced in England by Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1907. In 1910 American newspaper publisher William Boyce, while visiting London, became lost in the dense fog and was helped by a young boy. The lad refused a reward for his help and told Boyce that as a Boy Scout helping others was his duty. Boyce was so impressed he contacted Baden-Powell to talk to him about bringing the organization to America.

Helping others out of love will sometimes leave the receiver of that help in shock. I’ve noted with some amusement how people I’ve helped in the past ask “Why did you do that?” And a good many of them believed my motive was done because I wanted something. When I’ve told them it wasn’t me who did it but Christ in me the look on their face must be close to what Boyce had when that young English Scout refused any payment for his help. But I know those folks I’ve helped have never forgotten that someone took the time to help them and perhaps they went looking for the Founder of my program. Hopefully they found Him. I will know one day.

It is no stretch of the imagination to say the present age is overcome by darkness. That makes it difficult enough but add to that darkness the fog of unbelief and the sense of bewilderment and loss that feeds on it. How relieved they will be when we appear out of the fog and offer them a hand. With the Spirit of Christ working through us it won’t be as much a duty as a privilege.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Nothing for Something

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. Psalms 34:15 (New American Standard Bible

Ever gotten into a conversation with someone whose eyes dart around for someone else to talk to or even in the middle of your conversation calls to someone across the room? I believe all of us have been offended at someone we were talking to who was doing their best to ignore us. I believe that many of us feel that is mostly how our relationship is with God. I suppose if we are truly honest many times in our Christian experience we feel like we are getting nothing for something. We talk, we pray, we worship, we do good works and it seems we hear nothing but silence from God’s side. Is He there but looking for somebody else to talk to?

God is eternal and omniscient; He has perfect understanding, insight and knowledge and He has always existed. The good news is if that’s the case then He has thought of you forever along with every human who has lived or is yet to live. Isn’t that awesome that you and your story have been in the loving mind of God for eternity? Ever have someone love you who is far away? Is their love diminished because they don’t interact with you all the time? I would say that love exists in a spirit of confidence and trust. Even though you can’t hear their voice or see them you rest in the assurance their love for you is deeply true and enduring.

Even though it may sound like it’s a one-sided conversation with God His ear not only hears your voice of prayer He hears your every thought. God rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Be strong and let your heart take courage, if your hope is in the Lord. He is in total control of your life even when He’s quietly observing. His not speaking shows a depth of comfort and relaxed relationship with those He loves. There is no awkward silence with God. He’s there for you and His love is as true as the first day you fell in love with Him. Even in the quiet times His grace is always an offering of something for nothing.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Fixing Broken Wings

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NASB)

A few years ago a sparrow flew into a window of my house and hurt her wing. I nursed her until she was well enough to fly again. When I took her outside and opened the box that had been her hospital room she came out of it like a flash and flew up and over my house. As she disappeared the old adage “The bird with the broken wing will never fly so high again” came to me and how Satan uses that train of thought to discourage us when we fail. He tells us if we blow it there’s no way we can return to the place with God we once knew. Horse feathers.

I talk a lot about grace for it is something that is changing my life for the better every day. It is marvelous to consider and dwell on. It means God the Father continues to love and cherish us even when we may have gotten off the path. We tend to believe that our broken wings will never allow us to again reach the full height of His love. The grace of God through Christ tells us the opposite is true. The bird with the broken wing can fly that high again. We feel unworthy to come to Him when we feel we’ve let Him down but we are encouraged to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and help. The throne tells of the sovereign power of the one we approach and the grace speaks of His generosity, good will and blessing.

No matter where you find yourself today you are the particular focus of God’s love and concern. Not only does He know where you may be today but He's always known you would be right at this spot in your life. He can't be surprised but He can surprise us with grace. But you may say “That’s all well and good Ken, you don’t know what I’ve done. God can’t love me anymore.” Not so. God knows exactly what you’ve done and where you currently are. There seems to be in many of us a floor of brass located between the head and heart that keeps the knowledge of grace from trickling down from belief to conviction and certainty. Let us rest in the promise of His grace to us all and in particular to those of us with broken wings. Broken wings can be fixed and restored to health through His amazing grace. Let your faith take wing.


Friday, August 27, 2010


You ask and you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:2 (New American Standard Bible)

Chuck Smith tells about the time his then 2-year old daughter one morning came out of the bathroom with one of his razorblades in her little hand. Chuck saw what she had and gently said, “Oh honey, let daddy see what you have there.” When she showed it to him he took it from her and she began to cry. Oh, what a mean daddy; he wouldn’t let his little girl play with razorblades. There are still amazing moments in my own life when I see where I am and how God has withheld answering a prayer that was given amiss. He denied me for my own protection and brought my life around so I would not be in a position to hurt myself or someone else.

At times when I find myself in an unpleasant situation I will tell God, “Lord, I really hate where I am at this moment but keep doing what you’re doing because I know it is perfect and right for me.” It isn’t easy to pray that and it honestly irks me to have to say it for I have a fondness for razorblades.

Answered prayer is a beautiful thing and prayers that go unanswered are most times a blessing we don’t recognize. Because our Heavenly Father loves us so deeply when we ask for razorblades He will always say no. Sometimes we can see the outcome and we shudder at what might have happened if we had gotten what we asked for. Sometimes we don’t see what the outcome might have been but it is certain we will know one day. Thanks to God for every unanswered prayer. With Him we need not worry about being careful what we ask for. He loves us as no earthly parent can and there is always protection, grace and mercy in His answer.

Ken Evans

Monday, March 1, 2010

No Room for Fudging

Be Anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7 (NASB)

There is a Chinese curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” We do live in interesting times and the way our world is today, it does rather seem like the earth and even the nations are under some kind of curse. Nations threaten nations, armies and navies deploy, armed terrorists foment shock and panic and on the smaller level neighbors bicker, bosses yell and families feud. Perhaps the greatest difference between our modern day and Paul’s is with our technology and instant communications anxiety just gets here faster and more often. We are bombarded on every side by television, magazines, radio, telephone calls, billboards; people knocking on the door and…well you get the picture.

Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. Anything? Where does he get the authority to say such a thing? He was quick to remind those who followed Christ that he did not receive a gospel preached by men but he received his knowledge through a revelation of Jesus Christ Himself (Galatians 1:11, 12). Paul’s writing here gives us the key to the locked door of peace and to a place of rest. He tells us to be at ease and to pray. Most of us see praying as only a way of getting something from God. He sees it as communion with His heart. When we pray it is always relational. Sometimes I will pray a psalm. I will read a few verses then pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise through the beautiful words of David’s worship and interact with Him spirit to Spirit. When I don’t know how to pray specifically I rest in the fact that the Holy Spirit always prays for the saints of God interceding for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26, 27).

How do we get to a place of trust where anxiety is lessened? Just like any talent it never happens without practice. People don’t just get up one morning and decide to play the piano like a Strauss or Chopin. If one is gifted it takes time to develop that gift into something that is breathtaking. Roam through the Psalms and meditate upon their truths. You will meet the Messiah there. Walk with Him every day through the Word of God. You will begin to take His truth to heart and come to believe the greatest rest lies in that truth. We may live in interesting times but we have a God who is a lot more than just interesting. He can take care of things. He can take care of that thing that is weighing on you right now. Don’t be anxious for anything? ‘Anything’ leaves no room for fudging. It is possible to come to a place where we can be anxious for nothing. When we do the peace of God which is beyond anything we can imagine will guard our hearts and minds in His Son, Christ Jesus.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Settling for the Slush

The Thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. John 10:10 (New American Standard Bible)

I grew up in a city outside of Los Angeles. The L.A. Basin seldom gets snow and if areas do it is usually just a very light dusting. When I was a child during the winter if my family wanted to play in the snow we had to drive a couple of hours into the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles. Along Hwy. 38 around the 7000 foot elevation there would usually be plenty of snow to play in after a major Pacific storm had moved through the Southland. It was always a treat for us southern California kids to get to see, touch and play in the white stuff.

I do recall during the first years dad would drive my mom, my brother and I up to the mountains that as soon as I would see the first patches of dirty, slushy snow along the highway I would beg dad to stop so I could play in the stuff. Every time mom and dad would patiently assure me, “There’s more snow up higher and it’s cleaner and deeper. Those patches by the road are dirty and there’s not enough to really enjoy.” After a few winters of that I learned to ignore the sporadic snow with its dirt, slush and pine needles and look forward to getting higher into the mountains where some snow drifts would be up to my waist. My brother, Gary, and I would launch ourselves into it and play till our hands and feet ached from the cold. It was great fun.

I had been willing to settle for the slush and if someone hadn’t been along with me who knew better I would have came home with visions of dirty snow, mud and mire as having been a real romp in the snow. I find there is a parallel to my walk with Christ in that story. That old thief Satan loves to try and steal my security and satisfaction in Christ and to see me be satisfied with sparse and slushy temporary things. And how often does Christ have unspoiled and deep experiences for me to dive into and I am only willing to settle for dirty and slushy snow. The riches of Christ are so deep and vast that if we really recognized what was up the road higher we would be astounded and would hold the first experiences as lackluster and without any real positive appeal or value. Snow yes, but certainly nothing to bring lasting satisfaction. Patience is the key. As I was little at the time I did not understand what was up the road at a higher and better place. But I learned. Jesus desires for us to reprioritize our main concerns of earth’s temporary things and not be content with just slush. He has so much more for us and truly delights in our squeals of excitement and as we finally dive into His deep and limitless riches by abiding in His root. What a treat ignoring the slush and patiently heading upward to where what He has for us lies in limitless pristine drifts. How He loves to pour out His blessings upon those who love Him and as we patiently head up the highway of life deeper blessings are waiting for us past the mud and slush of temporary things. I want to head up the road. C’mon, let’s go play in the snow.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Uncle Elmer's Million Pounds

And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43 (NASB)

Will God redeem a person on their deathbed or will He reject their plea for salvation in the last hour or minute of their lives because all their life they pushed Him away? Surprisingly I’ve spoken to several Christians in my life who said they believed that any deathbed confession is rejected by God. If the person rejected Christ all their life then Christ certainly doesn’t want them at the end. In the cases where I’ve talked with Christians who hold this view I point them to the cross and the dying confession of faith in Christ one of the thieves crucified with Jesus is recorded as making. The thief had to do nothing but ask Jesus to remember him when He came into his kingdom. Jesus’ reply was “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

There is another story I like to share at times like this and allow the hearer to decide. It is about my uncle, Elmer Carson, who in 1975 was placed in the hospital dying of emphysema. All His family was believers yet all his life Uncle Elmer had rebuffed any call to salvation. As he lay dying in the hospital his daughter, Lynda, talked with him concerning his soul. Elmer’s response to her was, “I haven’t followed Jesus during my life and doing it now would make me a hypocrite. I can’t accept him.” Lynda had her pastor come talk to Uncle Elmer and got the same response. My cousin called my dad who was a believer and shared her fear her dad would go into eternity separated from God. Dad’s response was, “Elmer is dying. Get your pastor to go see him again and lay it all out for him and tell him he needs to get his soul right with the Lord.” The pastor returned and said to Elmer, “Mr. Carson, let me be honest here for the hour is late, you’re dying and you need to accept Christ. You will not be a hypocrite for God’s love and grace for you is there until you take your last breath.” As they talked Uncle Elmer came to a point of belief on Christ asking Him to forgive his sins. After he did his first statement to the pastor was, “I feel like a million pounds have been lifted off my shoulders!” Uncle Elmer passed away a few hours later in perfect peace and I believe immediately went into the presence of His Christ who became his Lord in the last hours of his earthly life. Truly I believe one of the first people I’ll see on the other side is my smiling uncle robust and healed completely in body, mind and soul.

I’m glad that at that moment on the cross Jesus in all his pain and suffering on that cross didn’t hesitate but in this man’s belief on Him immediately forgave him and accepted him into fellowship with Him. My dear uncle was like the thief on that cross and his witness that a “million pounds” had been lifted from his life is a testimony that the weight that had been lifted was a lifetime of sin. This is what Christ came to do: to reconcile the human race back into fellowship with His Heavenly Father. I would recommend doing it sooner than later for we never know when we may draw our last breath. It’s difficult to speak of these things but our soul’s destiny is deadly serious. One second after we die it’s too late to repent. We’re all born out of fellowship with God and if we do not address the problem with the Lord then that burden begins to grow and can ultimately feel like a million pounds. Will Jesus Christ accept any man or woman into fellowship with Him at any time and under any condition? He can lift a little child’s light burden as they confess that Jesus is Lord of their life but He’s still strong enough to lift a million pounds too.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Simply Profound

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 1st John 2:12 (New American Standard Bible)

Ever notice how easy it is for children to display their true selves? I have the great pleasure to be able to give daycare to my two youngest grandchildren who are both toddlers. Elizabeth is 36 months old and Ewan (sounds like ‘you-un’) is 27 months. As I’ve had them before they could walk it has been interesting to see how they have grown physically and matured. Fascinating is one word that describes my wonder at how quickly they begin to comprehend and use intuitive thinking to express themselves. Seeing how the Lord has created the human body and mind to grow from a single egg in the womb to a little child who can sit on your lap, kiss you and say “I love you” is a testimony that is as awesome as pondering the universe. We are indeed wonderfully and awesomely made.

One day while Jesus was ministering to the multitudes some parents brought their little children to Him so He could lay His hands upon them and pray for them. His disciples rebuked the parents and in the process received a gentle rebuke from Jesus. He said let the little children come to Him and don’t hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14). Why little children? From what I’ve seen of a little child they have not yet learned how to hide or mask their true feelings but are able to reveal their inner most being to the world. Only later as they grow older and learn negative responses from care givers and society do they become masters at hiding their true selves and burying their emotions.

As God does know everything there is then nothing He does not know or needs to be taught. Therefore He knows us completely and always has. How often we grow beyond the simplicity of child-like authenticity and think we’re hiding our true selves from the One who sees and knows us better than we do ourselves. When we try to hide our inner hurts and pains from Him who knows all things it is similar to Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes with fig leaves tied around their nakedness. Christ is there and knows exactly why we’re hiding. Becoming like a little child is lowering our defenses and telling Jesus in our own child-like way just how helpless we are without His oversight and loving care. He desires us to come upon His lap and rejoices and smiles when we lay our heads upon his breast. He desires honesty in the inward parts and authenticity of spirit and trust. While the whole gospel message can bamboozle theologians a little child can fully grasp its meaning in the song “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.” Nothing my two toddlers can do that delights me more is to come to their “Papa” and relay their truest feelings to me through words and signs. They are masters at letting it all hang out. They know and trust my love and authority. It is said the great theologian C.S. Lewis was once asked through all his vast study of and knowledge in the Scriptures what was the most profound thing he had learned. His reply was “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” You can’t get any simpler than that. Or more profound.


Monday, February 1, 2010

I Beg Your Pardon

For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Psalms 25:11 (New American Standard Bible)

Ever hear someone tell a new convert that Jesus’ work of redemption has made it “as though you never sinned”? Well, yes and no. I consider what criminal pardon is. The criminal is indeed guilty of the act but in spite of it he/she receives clemency. The authority granting the pardon does not look upon the malefactor as having never committed the trespass but gives a cancelation of a penalty for the offense. The trespasser is well aware of their guilt yet is no longer held accountable to be punished in the eyes of the law. Even at that a person can be pardoned and still be disrespected and held in contempt by their peers.

Pardon and forgiveness walk a thin line but there does seem to be a line. A debtor can never forget what they did but can find great relief and even awe in a pardon. They no longer need to keep looking over their shoulder for the Long Arm of the Law to catch up with them and give them what they deserve. I find the greatest wonder in being pardoned for my sin. I know what kind of nasty piece of work I can be and get embarrassed at some of the things I’ve done in my past. This causes me to be amazed at being pardoned for all those sins. Forgiven yes and in remembering my actions very aware of what a pardon for my rebellion means to me personally.

We all are guilty for the word of God says there is no human being who is without sin, no not one (Psalms 14:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20). If we are guilty, and God’s Word tells us we unfortunately are, then we all deserve to be punished for our sins. This is where pardon brings such a wonderful relief to us. Christ does pardon those who come to Him in faith but goes a further step in forgiving the person and not harboring disrespect and disapproval against them for what they did. If I were pardoned I would want to be totally accepted back into complete fellowship with those around me. Christ does this for all who believe on Him. God’s plan was to give a means to receive pardon through the shed blood of His Son that all who believe on Him can receive leniency and compassion, pardon and forgiveness. We all stand before one another with the marks of the shackles on our wrists. We can’t say we were framed for we know better. “Yeah, I’m guilty as sin” takes on a whole new meaning. I did it and I deserve just punishment. All the more incredible when we are pardoned for all the wrong we’ve done and then realize there is no contempt held against us in the settlement. There are times in this world when seeking pardon from someone we must bow and scrape and at times beg. But with the Judge of the Universe we only need believe on His Son and simply ask. Jesus said all who come to Him He will not reject (John 6:37). Begging His pardon is never necessary for He is always willing and gracious to give it to anyone who asks no matter how serious the crime.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Missed it by a Hair

For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47 (New American Standard Bible)

Back in the 1970s I was fortunate enough to witness a great spiritual event of God’s grace that fell on a generation of seekers. It was called, for lack of a better name, the “Jesus Movement.” In the mid ‘60s young people put off with the impotence they saw in their parent’s lives and conventional Christianity rebelled against standard collective norms. They took up lives of what they called “freedom” from the constraints of hypocritical society. They grew their hair long, grew beards and checked out and turned on. Their mantra was “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.” It only took many of them just a couple of years to find that the freedom to “do their own thing” had brought them hurtling headlong into a solid wall of loss. Some hit that wall and were broken and some had enough sense to see what that lifestyle was doing to them and they put on the breaks. These kids had been given up on by society and were deemed unworthy under any circumstances.

The most heartbreaking part of the story is many mainline denominational churches had given up on them too. As these young people began to be led to Jesus they embraced Him as Lord of their lives. Wanting to follow Jesus they began going to some of these churches still with beards, long hair and casual clothes. Many churches turned them away because of the way they looked and many Christians, myself included, had a very low estimate of “Hippy Christians.” Fortunately in my part of Southern California there was a pastor in Orange County whose compassion for them was enormous. He told them they would be welcomed and received warmly at his church. Within the first couple of years so many young people who came out of the hippie movement and met Christ were a vibrant part of his church. There were so many of them they continually outgrew their buildings finally pitching a large circus tent on the church property in which to hold services. That tent held around 2500 people and was full to standing room only practically every night. One day my brother, Gary, said “Ken, you need to come down to Calvary Chapel and hear this guy Chuck Smith.” I groaned inwardly. I hadn’t joined the hippie movement but I was burned out on denominational inflexibility. “Gary, I don’t know. I’m really burned out on churches at the moment. I don’t know if I can.” His excitement over what God was doing is what caught my interest. So I went one Thursday night to see for myself.

I remember it was the winter of 1970-71 and it was cold in the tent. There were huge red kerosene heaters around the tent to keep the chill off. But what I saw that night totally floored me. With my crew cut hair and “establishment” clothes I stood with about 2500 bearded and long haired men and girls with flowered clothes, headbands and beads and got my attitude readjusted. During the worship time hundreds of these kids stood with their hands raised with tears on their cheeks praying and praising the God who had forgiven much. One picture I have burned in my mind is one guy who wearing a spotless white Nehru Jacket (look it up) with hair almost to his waist had his arms raised glorifying God. I wish I could have taken a snapshot of that for truly one picture was worth a thousand words. Jesus was rescuing and redeeming thousands into new life and a new direction. Many of those young men became pastors and many of them are still pastoring today. Jesus Christ had once again thwarted the plan of Satan to destroy a generation and many of that generation I saw rejoicing in their redemption that night and many nights to come.
I often need to recall those nights in that large tent when I come across someone who looks unkempt and coarse. Like Simon the Pharisee I tend to go to the conclusion that I am better than others who are not like me even to the point of recoiling from their touch. Surely this was total proof to my legalistic mind that Christ came to save sinners of whom I was the worst. Many of us did not reach out to these lost sheep in the beginning missing it by a hair and a beard or two. I am glad that God’s grace continually breaks in wave upon wave upon the human race and that grace does not tell apart high rank or low rank. When it comes to God’s saving love and grace He is no respecter of persons. Thankfully, those waves of grace break over an establishment guy named Ken Evans, too.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Shoot the Messenger

And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (New American Standard Version)

One of the hardest parts of being one who strives to rightly divide the word of truth is telling both sides of what God says. That is the dilemma many people in ministry face if they want to truly tell the whole truth and nothing but. Presenting the less than tasty morsels of Scripture is a very difficult and uneasy part of Christian ministry.

While the gospels do show us there is a beautiful Redeemer who has revealed a Heavenly Father full of love and compassion, we are also shown a side of Him that absolutely will have no acceptance of sin or rebellion. His complete holiness will never allow it. So where does that leave those who die in their sin? Those who die in their rebellion against God’s plan of salvation cannot go into His presence but their eternal souls must go somewhere. Then where? Scripture does not teach we become ghosts who walk the earth nor does it teach that we become angels so eternal separation from God of unregenerate men and women would be the only option according to God’s Word. The answer is extremely unpopular yet fully explained in Scripture. I once had a lady where I worked try to bait me in the “How could a God of love send people to hell” argument. She angrily said, “It’s so stupid that a God who is Love could send anyone to hell. There is no hell.” I looked her in the eye and said, “You know, I really hope there is. I’d hate to spend eternity with Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.” She recoiled with a look of instant shock and understanding and with wide eyes said, “Well, there is no life after death, so I’m not going to worry about it” and got away from me as quickly as she could. I hope my statement stayed with her and gave her pause to consider how important her choice of eternity was. She was overall a very nice lady. I would hate to think of her in that horrifying place.

Speaking of hell isn’t popular or politically correct yet Jesus spoke much of hell and warned of its reality. There’s no hope of drinking whiskey and playing poker with buddies there. Hell is a horrific place of separation from God and other humans, a place of inconceivable torment, fear, complete exhaustion and utter hopelessness of ever getting out. With modern medical advances there are more people being resuscitated today than in history and a frightening picture of a real hell is told by many who are fortunate enough to return from that horrible place. Could it all be hallucination when so many of them come back with the same descriptions of the place? Why is it that some who are resuscitated from heaven may doubt the experience but every person who is resuscitated from hell comes back a believer? It is because they all have experienced a real and horrifying place of total separation from God and other humans in the same place.

God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to a place of forgiveness with Him through the sacrifice and shed blood of His Son. Does God send people to hell? No, God never sends anyone to hell; they go there by their own choice. I once heard it said “the gates of hell are locked from the inside.” Jesus is earnest in His desire to keep anyone out of that place by warning of it as the final destination for those who reject God’s escape plan of salvation. It is a warning that has fallen on increasingly unbelieving ears and one that is seldom preached from many church pulpits for fear of seeming bigoted and unloving. But wouldn’t telling of this place and its reality be the loving thing to do to keep people from going there? I’ve never seen a coin with just one side. The other side of God’s coin shows a holy God who will not allow sin to dwell in His Holy Presence. His all consuming love is balanced by His perfect hatred of sin and His perfect judgment of it. If you’re not sure about where you stand then why not trust Jesus? What have you got to lose? If you have a hard time with God and hell talk to Him about it but don’t shoot the messenger. Jesus is coming back very very soon. He wants to keep all He can from eternal separation from Him in this hideous place. He says hell does not need to be an option. Eternal life in Him is the greater reality. It’s free and ours for the asking.

Lord Jesus, I admit I need your help and I want to trust you. I want to ask you at this moment to become Lord of my life and to forgive my every sin. I know there is no sin big enough to keep you from forgiving me fully and keeping me out of this horrible place called hell. You will keep me safely in your care. Thank you for your love and total forgiveness to me right at this second. Amen.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Man Christ Jesus

Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased. Luke 3:21, 22 (New American Standard Bible)

The brilliance and wisdom of Jesus Christ is unparalleled in history. We read how at the age of 12 years old His intelligence and understanding amazed the learned men of Israel. It is interesting that the 18 years between that short glimpse of Him in the Temple and His entry into ministry is strangely quiet. I’m sure that today if someone of His brilliance was shown at that tender age there would be a push to get Him in front of an audience. “Let’s get this kid on television.” The only thing Scripture tells us about that time is Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and standing and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of His earthly ministry. Jesus was without sin (1st Peter 2:22) and did not need to be baptized with John’s baptism of repentance. Yet He went to the River Jordan where John was baptizing sinners and allowing Himself to be baptized with them identified Himself as their friend and one impossible to tell apart from their existence, who had arrived to seek and to save those who were lost.

Still, it astounds me that God became one of us, taking on humanity. The man Christ Jesus was fully God and fully man. In becoming a man He never gave up His Deity. Who He truly was was demonstrated at His transfiguration. The great glory that was revealed before Peter, James and John at that moment in time was so bright and stunning that Jesus’ face shone like the sun and His clothes were as white as light (Matthew 17:2). In His lifetime this great glory was somehow veiled yet remained as powerful as it was before His Incarnation when He was the literal Presence of God in heaven.

As powerful as His baptism was in identifying Jesus with sinners it was also His Heavenly Father’s obvious approval of His Son and His ministry to humankind and as His Perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. In the short 3 years of His ministry Jesus healed all who came to Him, brought forgiveness and revealed to us that all who saw Him had seen the Father. He brought a smile and color to the pale face of history. The Mighty God was brought out into the open in the Person of Jesus Christ doing away with the notion that God was spiteful and without pity. A new view was revealed; that Jehovah God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form; someone who is approachable, compassionate and real. What is God the Father really like? Take into your arms and heart the Man Christ Jesus and you will know.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Socrates and Those Other Guys

And it came about 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 amazed at His understanding and His answers. Luke 2:46, 47 (New American Standard Bible)

I recently did a search on the Internet on men of ancient wisdom. Names like Socrates, Sophocles, Confucius, Aesop, Euripides, Aeschylus, Lao Tzu and Cato came up. Interestingly the name of Jesus of Nazareth was not even mentioned. Why is the most profound thinker and source of wisdom to ever live not even included among the men of great wisdom?

As a pre-teen, the wisdom and insight of this remarkable person amazed the elders of Israel. These were the religious men of the day, the “seminary trained” of the nation, who spent their lives studying and discussing Scripture. Isn’t it a remarkable witness of Jesus of Nazareth being the Anointed One that at 12 years old His wisdom and insight astounded these learned men? What does this tell us of Jesus the person? The wisdom of Jesus is even to us today astounding when we read what He said. For instance, the woman taken in adultery is a prime example. Instead of reprimanding her accusers or haranguing them with the Torah He brought them to leave the scene with the simple statement of “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” I tend to want to go for the throat while Jesus goes for the heart. Can we not say Jesus Christ was the most brilliant man who ever lived? Again when the Pharisees tried to entrap Him with treason concerning paying taxes to Rome He did not jump to justify a position but simple spoke truth; “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” How profound.

As we truly stop to inspect the words of Jesus we can only stand amazed. Many people of the past who went to the Gospels to destroy their distinction and renown were stunned by what He had to say and came to the firm belief that He is the Son of God. It gives greater credence to the other things He had to say about Himself, for example, He and the Father are One (John 10:30) and He is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (14:6). This is the same Person who created galaxies and stars by the word of His mouth (Genesis 1:14-16). His legacy to those who have believed on Him is total and unbreakable. His words are carved in eternal stone, His deeds and Being confirmed by historical witness. Jesus Christ is the wisest, most brilliant man who ever lived. When it comes to Socrates and all those other guys the words of Jesus are indeed the wisest of the wise. His words are life.