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Monday, November 18, 2013

No Need to Turn Around

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is the fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.  Psalms 16:11 (New American Standard Version)

When my niece was three years old my brother and sister-in-law visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  In the museum was an 18’ statue of a Native American Indian Warrior portrayed sitting on his pony in total discouragement.  The statue, by the late artist James Earle Fraser, is called The End of the Trail.  It is meant to portray the final and sad ending of early Native American culture.  As my niece gazed on the statue she asked “Why is the Indian so sad, Daddy?”  My brother said “Because he’s reached the end of the trail, honey.”  My niece looked at her dad with wonder and asked “Then why doesn’t he turn around and go back?”

I’ve met many folks in my lifetime that felt as though they’d reached the end of a reasonable existence and their trail of life was over. Nothing else in life held an answer to their problems.  In the beginning the purpose of their lives appeared to have a direction but somewhere along the way those things lost perspective and reason. 

Dejected people are the specialty of God the Father and His Only Begotten Son.  There is still real hope and the trail does not have to end.  The earthly life of Jesus Christ was to bring hope to all, to preach the good news of God’s kingdom, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight of the blind and to free the downtrodden (Luke 4:18, 19).  When we reach the end of the trail we need not turn around and head back.  Christ is waiting at the end of any trail to lead, encourage and guide. He will light our path not to show us the end but to illuminate a new direction for our lives. With Christ the end of the trail can become the beginning of a new journey.

Jesus, when I feel as though I’ve reached the end of my trail I ask that the One I meet there will be You.  Guide and teach me by Your Holy Spirit.  Give me Your wisdom to see it as a new beginning.  Let Your Word be a lamp unto my feet.

Ken

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ten Little Words

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1


If one can believe the first ten words in the Bible they will have no problem believing the rest of it.  Belief in the Book of Genesis that God was the Creator of all things and spoke them into existence from nothing is the foundation stone for Biblical faith.   This was the prominent point of view of the church throughout her history and only began to be seriously challenged by cynics during the “Age of Enlightenment” which began in the 18th century.  Now the theory of Darwinian evolution is taught as fact in classrooms beginning in grade school and the Genesis account of Creation is met with disparagement and hostility even within some churches.

Jesus corroborated His belief in Genesis when He confirmed the existence of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4) Noah and his time and even the Great Flood of Genesis 6 (Matthew 24:37-39).  Kids are asking questions of their Christian parents and teachers and are either not being answered or told to “Just trust Jesus” and not worry about it.  You can bet if a young person asks “What about dinosaurs and the Bible?” that if a Christian doesn’t have the answer there will be a secular school teacher or college professor that will and not from a Biblical perspective. It is a serious problem.  The George Barna Research Group did a survey several years ago that found between 70-75% of teens are leaving the church after high school due to intellectual skepticism (research ‘Barna Group-75% of teens leaving the church’ for the results).

The Bible says that all things were made and are sustained through Christ (Colossians 1:16) and that there is nothing that exists that was not made by Him (John 1:3).  The Word also tells us to be ready to make a defense of what we believe according to Scripture (1st Peter 3:15). There are thousands of accredited scientists (many who began as convinced evolutionists) who accept the Genesis account of Creation and have done great and detailed research into it. Their research data are available in books and online.  One good place to start is with Dr. Jason Lisle’s video The Ultimate Proof of Creation* on ‘YouTube.com.’ 

Skeptics will not believe because of their skepticism.  But when someone asks honestly where all this came from there are legitimate and viable answers that are just as plausible as any the skeptics have.  It takes as much faith, if not more, to believe once there was nothing then it exploded than to believe in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  They are ten little words that define all things. Today, if someone honestly asks ‘So what about dinosaurs and the Bible?’ a person does not have to nervously clear their throat-they can clearly give an answer.

Ken

*A few research resources for the curious and persons interested in alternative biblical answers:  Dr. Thomas Kindell PhD., Dr. Ken Ham PhD., Dr. Don Patton PhD., Dr. John Morris PhD., Mike Riddle (Mike holds a degree in mathematics and a graduate degree in education), Dr. Roger Oakland PhD., and Dr. G. Thomas Sharp PhD., among others.

Other available resources on YouTube and online:  Answers in Genesis, the Genesis Museum, Creation Magazine, the Creation Today Show and other associated links.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well Watered

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  John 4:10


In Jesus’ time Jews and Samaritans in Israel didn't get along.  They didn't socialize.  The rift went back hundreds of years to the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. Among other things Jews considered Samaritans to be heretics.  In fact some pious Jews going to northern Israel would even go around Samaria so they wouldn't be defiled by interaction with ‘sinners.’  But curiously, Jesus on His way to Galilee took the direct route through Samaritan country.  At the Roman 6th hour, approximately 6:00 p.m. (John wrote his gospel in hourly Roman time), He sent His disciples to buy food and sat down at Jacob’s well to rest.  A Samaritan woman came to draw water.  Here was a recipe for fireworks; A Jewish male and an ‘unclean’ Samaritan woman. A Rabbinic law of A.D. 66 stated a Samaritan woman was considered as continually menstruating and thus unclean.  Therefore a Jew who drank from a Samaritan woman’s vessel would become ceremonially unclean.* No self-respecting Jew would find himself in this state of affairs.

This woman was less than ‘faultless,’ religiously speaking.  She had been married five times and the man she was currently living with was not her husband.  At a point in their conversation Jesus told her to call her husband.  The woman said “I don’t have a husband.”  Notice the response from the Lord, “You have well said ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands and the one who you now have is not your husband; this you have truly said.” Notice he did not say “And you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”  Interestingly instead of countering with suggestions of behavior modification, marriage or church counseling, books on self-help, prayer or study groups, He pointed her to her need for God and His spiritual health and nourishment (Living Water).  After talking further the woman left her water pot and headed back to town.  She told all who would listen to her about a man “who told me all I ever did” adding, “Could this be the Messiah?”  Many Samaritans believed her and believed in Him.  They asked Him to stay with them and He remained another two days and many more believed in Him after hearing His words (4:42).

Jesus knew this poor woman had been with the wrong kind of company, probably verbally and physically abused, gossiped about, more than likely despised by the people who knew her, perhaps by those in her very own family, yet He begins His ministry to her with a conversation; “Give Me a drink.”  He brought with Him a well of grace that would quench eternal thirst.  He did not let her slip away without responsibility for dealing with her sin yet dealt with it in such a gracious and honestly tender way bringing repentance and making her the first missionary to the Samaritan people. “If you knew the gift of God” puts in plain words what it is. Those who drink from muddied waters will never be satisfied but those who drink from God’s well will never thirst again.  They will be well watered forevermore.

Ken

*The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord & Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, p 285

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Little Hills

They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.  John 19:17  NASB


Where has all the courage gone?  For long days I have waited.  For many days I have searched.  Where has the life gone?  For many long years I have been dead, trapped within my pain.

Where have my feet taken me?  Why do I continue to tread the desert places, walking to high mountains and again finding only desert on the other side for all my pain of gaining the heights?

How is it that high mountains and deserts lead me to little hills?  What is this place?  I ask.  It smells of death.

The path is clear to some, a granite wall to others. Understanding pulls me up the path.  The suffering here is more than I can grasp.

This place is full of dead men’s bones.  The Angel of Death has used his scythe here many times.  Fear.  There is a man here.  I come to him as the wind blows coldly in my ears.  “What place is this?” I ask him.
“It was a battle ground once,” he muses.  “Yes, I can see that,” I say.  “Your hands are wounded.”  As I gaze at those hands I ask “Was the battle terrible?” 

“Oh, yes.  It was the most horrible battle in history and it all took place right here on this little hill.  Do you believe me?”

“Of course I do, sir.  You carry the wounds of the fight.”  I look around with discomfort and fear.  “You seem a wonderful man but I must go.”  I do not let him touch me.    He smiles and nods, saying not a word but seeming to know what choice I would make.

I again find vast wastes of sand and heat.  The desert is all I have again.  Is this all of this world?  No, there is a hill I once saw with a man.  No man has had the courage this man has.  No man has the life returned from the heat of the fight like this man.  No man carries scars like this man.

Scars?  They are living badges of honor. Medals?  He is the bravest man I have ever met.  This wasteland is lonely and cold now.  I’m ready to return to the little hill.

Days and days I travel.  Can I find it again?  Will I ever arrive? My journey goes on.  I am so tired.  I finally stumble and fall, giving up.  I look up and there is the hill not now far away. 

I smile and push myself up, running forward, hoping the Caretaker has not gone away.  He is still there.  “It is you!”  I cry. “Do you remember me?”

“Yes,” he says with a smile.  “I have never forgotten you.”  

“This place,” I ask.  “How many died in the battle that wounded you?”

“Only one,” he says with satisfaction.  “Only One had to die.”

Wounded hands.  Strong hands. Eternal hands.  He touches me.

Ken

November 15, 1989
                                     

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Man God Would Not Let Die

And it is He who changes the times and epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding.  Daniel 2:21



The life of George Washington in our American heritage is vaguely taught to school children today.  The facts he was the ‘Father of our Country’ and the commanding general of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence are quickly brushed over.  Yet the man is a miracle.

On July 9, 1755 Washington was a 23 year old Virginia colonel acting as an aide to British General Edward Braddock.  Braddock’s orders were to take troops into the Ohio Country and push the French presence out of the country.  His first mission was to take Fort Duquesne (doo-KANE) and push north after the enemy. 
Braddock’s troops met French and Canadian troops accompanied by their Native American allies on July 9th at the Monongahela River in what is now western Pennsylvania.  Even though the French were outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 their stealth and fighting tactics of firing from behind cover decimated the ranks of the British who were ordered to stand in the open in ranks and return fire in the European fashion.  After three hours of furious fighting General Braddock was mortally wounded.  Of the 86 original British officers 26 were killed and 37 wounded. Washington, his 6’2” frame an inviting target, was unharmed even after having two horses shot from beneath him.  While he had no official position in the chain of command he was able to restore some order among the ranks and developed a rear guard action allowing the remaining troops to disengage from the French.  By sunset the British were in full retreat, fleeing back down the road on which they had come. Of the 1300 British soldiers 878 had been killed or wounded while French losses totaled 39.  It was a stunning defeat for the British.

But the story does not end there.  Fifteen years later, in 1770, an old Indian chief named Red Hawk requested to see Washington.  The aged Indian said he was at the battle and remembered Washington being in the thick of the fighting and telling his braves to kill the officer on the horse.  Red Hawk said one of his men fired point blank at Washington 22 times and Red Hawk himself, whose ‘rifle never missed’ fired at Washington 11 times.  When they realized they could not kill him the chief ordered his men to stop firing at him believing the Great Spirit was protecting him.  After the battle Washington found four bullet holes in his coat but to his amazement was without a scratch.  After relating this to Washington the chief went on to give a prophecy that Washington would become a powerful leader and would create a great nation.

These moments in our history are buried from the general knowledge of the average American.   This story of Washington at Monongahela was expunged from school books in the early 1920s, a great loss to up and coming generations of American school children most of whom will never know how God divinely protected one He called to lead.  While it is often said that America is not nor ever has been a ‘Christian nation’ we have been a deeply Christian culture imbued by the Judeo-Christian ethic and led by the vision and religious beliefs of our founders.  That culture seems to be quickly slipping away and if not forgotten then buried by those who deny the Godly beginnings of America.  Bringing to remembrance God’s Providence is a healthy thing for any nation.  In remembering we bear in mind our special heritage and the might and blessing by that Providence making the Father of Our Country the man God would not let die.

Ken