A Letter to the American Church

Letter to the American Church is the latest book by Eric Metaxas, author of fourteen other books including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and If You Can Keep It.

He draws some significant parallels between what is happening in America with developments in the German Lutheran churches just prior or WW2, which significantly enabled Adolf Hitler and his minions to execute six million (6,000,000) Jews, not to mention hundreds of thousands of others deemed “deficient” by the Nazi regime.  These “others” included anyone not of “Aryan stock” such as Blacks, Latinos and Asians, as well as those they considered deviant, such as homosexuals, drug addicts, thieves and gamblers.

Lining up Critical Race Theory, Cancel Culture, Transgenderism and Abortion as the current sins of America, he points out the moral superiority claimed by those espousing these views.  “Part of what makes them so wicked is that they smilingly pretend to share the biblical values that champions the underdog against the oppressor.”  These were the same claims of Stalin, Hitler and Mao who butchered millions in the name of “fighting for the people.”

Further, he points out that while these issues are political, there is sufficient overlap with Gospel themes and Biblical values that any church that refuses to address them is tragically mistaken.  These “politics” are as demonically inspired as Hitler’s answer to “the Jewish Question,” and must be met by a Christ-honoring church that believes the Gospel touches on all areas of human life.  He challenges churches that feel we should mind our own business of spiritual matters, “as though the truth of God were a parochial, subjective idea that has no bearing on anything beyond our private prayer times and church meetings.”

This, he warns, was what paralyzed the German Church as Hitler pretended that he was with them, all the while quietly working to co-opt and undermine them.  Privately he actually despised the Church and Christianity generally, though he could not say so openly.  Just as the Three-Self-Churches of China today cannot preach the entire truth of Scripture without being shut down, Hitler’s program was to create a “Reich Church” subservient to the Nazi political agenda.  Enacting sweeping “emergency decrees” suddenly allowed Hitler to do things without the approval of the German Parliament… think “pandemic measures” to control the American population.  John Kerry, at last year’s World Economic Forum, noted that this could be an excellent model for enacting economic measures to control many national money streams.

“The Nazis controlled the media narrative and instantly whipped up a hysterical fear of… their opponents.”  Perhaps you have followed how mainstream media has been complicit with government agencies to further the fears of our population and fix on stories that support the “official” views of government and health agencies.

Many churches hung Nazi banners and flags outside their buildings and even inside their sanctuaries… It may be plausibly compared to well-meaning churches today displaying rainbow banners and BLM flags… They only wish to show that they are not like those other rigid and narrow-minded churches and that they are inclusive and generally mean no harm.  They don’t seem to know that the forces behind those banners are only smiling at them in order to deceive them; as soon as they have the cultural and political power, they will show their dedicatedly atheist colors, and will show clearly what they think of Christian virtues such as mercy and humility and love of one’s enemies.

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels will show that “Jesus was certainly not the nonjudgmental caricature that so many have made him to be.”  Did you know that the swastika that is now so despised in the west was actually borrowed from Hinduism, signifying “svas to’ ke,” meaning “conducive to wellness”?

There is a “Spiral of Silence” political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann described that asserts when one does not speak against an evil they witness, they are contributing to the success of that thing they refuse to name and condemn.  As people of conscience fail to speak against an evident evil, the price for speaking against it rises, i.e., eventually an entire nation or culture becomes silenced for fear of speaking.

This was in Chuck Colson’s mind as he helped frame The Manhattan Declaration in 2009.  Bolstered by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s stance against Naziism in 1932, the declaration calls on Christ-followers to be clear and vocal in their opposition to the idea that Christians should be “apolitical” and stick to “issues of faith.”  This, Metaxas says, is the mistake the German Lutherans made due to overcompensation against legalism that Martin Luther decried.  He specifies Luther’s avoidance of the letter of James in the Bible which clearly teaches that what one believes will affect the actions one takes.  Bonhoeffer called Luther’s stance on this “cheap grace,” an easy religion that avoids controversy and does not address the nuances of what it means to fully live out our faith.  He asks, “Does how I live show God that I actually believe that I claim to believe?  Or does how I live show God that actually I do not believe what I claim to believe.?”  Just as we cannot get to Heaven by doing good works, we cannot get to Heaven without good works, because if we have faith that will take us to Heaven, it will be a faith that is lived out inevitably in good works.

As recently as this book was published in 2022, Metaxas asks, “Shall we arrest the downward spiral, or will we go along with it until we can say nothing about anything?  Are we already very close to that?”

Of course, there is some truth in every lie that will make it believable, and Metaxas does not shy away from the fact that many Christians and their organizations have been “over-political.”  This thinking puts our hopes in a national policy, a particular candidate or party, or in legislation or courts, that if we can just get this law passed or that ruling overturned, everything will be all right.  This thinking, he says, makes an idol of politics rather than a mechanism by which Christians can share their good intentions and the love of Jesus.

Near the end of his text, he lays out the entire books premise: “Truth is truth. All truth is God’s truth, and sometimes it is those who are not bound up and crippled by entangling and confused ‘religious’ views who can see most clearly… Being a Christian is not about avoiding sin, but about passionately and courageously serving God.”

This is a book for every Christ-follower, pastor and church leader that will challenge you to reconsider, What is the Church?  Watch this 11 minute video of Francis Chan addressing this question:

The Legacy Coalition – The Next Wave?

Only take heed to yourself, … lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, … And teach them to your children and your grandchildren… Deuteronomy 4:9 (NKJV)

Seventy years ago Billy Graham entered the world stage as a Christian evangelist to reach the lost.  A decade later Youth For Christ became a massive movement of young people being trained in principles of Biblical lifestyles.  In the 1980s Bill Gothard advanced the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts to rallies of tens of thousands across the USA.  Another decade passed and Promise Keepers became the venue in stadiums all around the country to encourage godliness and racial reconciliation among American men.

In this decade The Legacy Coalition is coming in as the next evangelical wave to promote Intentional Christian Grandparenting.  An AARP report on grandparents described grandparenting in the USA:

  • About one-third of all adults are grandparents.
  • The average age of becoming a grandparent is around 47.
  • The average age of grandparents is around 64. (note: average age of death in the USA continues to rise, now almost 74)
  • The average grandparent has six grandchildren.
  • About 77% of grandparents are married.
  • About half are still working.
  • A slight majority, 54%, have at least some college education.
  • About 6% of grandparents have a grandchild living in their home.
  • Parents are not present in around 43% of those homes, a phenomenon known as a skip-generation family.
  • About 15% provide regular childcare for grandchildren in their homes.
  • More than half of grandparents help with grandchildren’s educational expenses.
  • A quarter of grandparents help pay for medical or dental care for their grandchildren.
  • More than half of all grandparents believe they play a very important role in their grandchildren’s lives.

Founded in 2016 by Larry Fowler, author of Overcoming Grandparenting Barriers, the vision of The Legacy Coalition is for grandparents to be more than the babysitters and the “fun old people” in children’s lives.  Instead, he advocates training this elder generation to be purposeful in guiding the spiritual development up to the third and fourth generations after them.

Last week a friend of mine showed a picture of a great-great-grandmother with her daughter, her granddaughter, her great-grandson (my friend) and his baby.  While few of us will live to be 103 as this woman has, most of us will live to see our grandchildren.  The goal of The Legacy Coalition is to promote teaching Biblical living to the second generation after yourself and to envision the third and fourth generation, to prepare your kids and your grandkids to teach their grandchildren.

To that end The Legacy Coalition has grown from its first days into an international outreach to thousands of grandparents from many walks of life with strategies for every stage of grandparenting.  Their website includes many free resources such as blogs, podcasts and recorded radio programs.  Under Events, there is also a link to the free registration for Grand Monday Nights, a weekly webinar platform featuring many different speakers addressing a variety of topics affecting relationships of grandparents to their children and grandchildren.  Other courses, speakers and materials are available for reasonable charges.

October 19-20, 2023, Tony Evans’ Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas will host the live Legacy Coalition Summit, which can be livestreamed anywhere in the world.  Fees and instructions are here and the list of speakers and sites for simulcasting will be updated as the dates approach, but a couple of speakers are already on board with more to be announced soon.  For a preview of the quality of presenters they invite, just look at the list of participants for 2022!  These included Ann Graham Lotz, Arlene Pellicane, Crawford Loritts and Gordon MacDonald among other evangelical teachers.

You can get on their email list for updates individually or as a church organization here.  There will be a no-obligation host-site informational Zoom meeting on February 9, 2023, for anyone interested in hosting, even if you are not the decision maker for your church.  Simply enter your information on the Get Host Info button and they will contact you about the Zoom.

In any case, if you have grandchildren, are about to become a grandparent, or if you have children whom you want to raise to be godly parents, consider contacting The Legacy Coalition via a field representative (such as Brent Nelson for the southeast US [866-461-0197]) or the national organization via their website.  Internationally, The Legacy Coalition has already begun work in Australia, Dominican Republic, Greece, Spain, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan.  Perhaps YOU can be the first in your city or your nation to connect to the next wave of spreading the gospel to every generation!

Here is a sample of the promotional video from 2022:

Thank You for the NO.

“God must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us.  The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog.  They misread the signs.  Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.”  (C.S. Lewis)

I am such a small creature with such limited understanding.  One of eight billion – 8,000,000,000!  And some demographers estimate we are half of the total population that has ever lived since Adam and Eve, 16,000,000,000 in all.

News reporters should not be allowed to use words to describe such large numbers.  Does it not seem easier to accept that our national debt is $31.12 trillion than to read our national debt is $31,120,000.000,000.00!?  And it is growing by over $2,000,000,000,000.00, two trillion, per year or $5,480,000,000.00 per day!  When you see $5.48 billion it just seems to not bother us so much as seeing the numbers stretching across the page.

However, I am writing about people today, not money.  Eight BILLION is still a lot of people.  Think of the crowds in which you have been numbered.  You may have been one of 50 or 100 at a church or social club.  If your church is a mega-one, maybe you were one of 5,000.  You could recognize your children across the large auditorium and even see them wave to you.

Then you went to a concert with 25,000 attendees, and suddenly you could not find anyone you knew beyond those within earshot, maybe 20 feet (3.5 metres) away.  A large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. for a special occasion and the news outlets estimated your “group” was over 500,000 or maybe a million (1,000,000).  All you could see was a “sea of faces” bobbing up and down, looking literally more like a lake than a mass of human beings. 

So eight billion (8,000,000,000) are LOTs of faces!!  And each one has his or her story; each one is troubled by a relationship or blessed by a colleague or family member; each one has had physical and emotional pains, and each has had offers of peace if he or she would take them.  Each ONE.

Thus, when we ask God for a parking space and one suddenly opens up, do we accurately conclude the Creator of the Horsehead Nebula actually paid attention to our desire for a few minutes’ convenience?  Or could it have been coincidence?  Does the One who designed your DNA and spangled the universe with galaxies really care if your bird or lizard or dog dies?  Would He not have more important things which require His attention?

When the apostle John encountered The Son of Man in Revelation 1, he was so overwhelmed by this Person that he totally blacked out and had to be revived.  This revelation of Jesus continues through chapters 4, 5, 7, 13 and 19 to 21 and HE is amazing!  He is beyond our full comprehension!  The difference between us and an insect seems less than the difference between us and HIM!!  He is more than our small minds can digest, and then we wonder why He sometimes does not jump when we say, “Do what I tell you to do.”

Yet, Jesus, Himself said that Father numbers the hairs of our heads!  Such a mind with such vast power and yet such perception of the details!!  So when we do not get the “answer” we demand from this Creator, we should not be dismayed, and conclude, “See, God does not exist because He did not do what I want.”

He knows; He understands; He cares more than we can grasp and loves you and me, us two out of 8,000,000,000 (or 16,000,000,000 depending on who you are counting).  He knows and loves YOU more than you can imagine.  So trust Him.  Though he seems to be playing fast and loose with us, simply trust Him, believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life.  Then, someday, we will know fully even as we have been fully known.  And thank Him for all things, even when He says, “No.”

Hope In Dark Times – Guest Intermezzo Blog by PK Adams

Hope in Dark Times – by Blue Skies and Green Pastures

It’s feels much easier to be cynical these days than to share the ‘good news’ of Jesus. But isn’t that why the good news is so good? As evil grows more powerful, and the narrative of death and fear is used constantly to push people towards the state to ‘save them’ with technology, the unsaved world becomes less willing to hear about an unseen savior that tells them that suffering is inevitable and that they should be looking forward to a ‘kingdom’ that seems too far away. But this is the truth and the truth is better than false hope.


Our lives on this planet are very short compared to the eternity we will experience after death. The suffering we may be experiencing now on earth, while it can be terrible and seem like it will last forever, is mercifully limited. And if we know Jesus, we can have supernatural peace even in the midst of suffering. Not ‘happy feelings’, but the assurance that God will work all things together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. Our ultimate hope is not in the state or technology, but in the knowledge that God through his holiness and justice will make things right for his children.

Some of us are actually suffering in our own lives due to pain, illness, loneliness, death of loved ones, lost jobs, precarious living arrangements, or the loss of hope that things will get better. It is the last one that we must try to change. We must remember the promises of God, continue to trust Him, keep looking for ways to serve him and others. Others of us are struggling because of the growing evil in the world and the fear that has taken over our hearts and minds. We fear for our children and grandchildren and our own lives. We are called to continue doing good, loving others, sharing Jesus, giving to the church, studying the Word, and not let the world steal our hope and joy.

Many generations of believers have gone before us. Compared to them, most of us (at least in the West) are living in a rich, free, and comfortable world. We can be thankful for the inventions that God allowed men and women to make that have made life so much easier. I am glad we no longer have to hunt and gather food daily to survive or fight off invaders in our village or die from childbirth or a simple illness or accident. Yet, greed, idolatry, rebellion, and pride are still a constant threat that manifests as statism, wars, violence, crime, immorality, and ideological narratives that attempt to control the public. There is nothing new under the sun, as it says in the Ecclesiastes. Until we live in the kingdom, we will deal with the fallout of sin.

While we wait for Jesus to return, let us not grow weary, lose hope, or let our hearts grow cold. This is the true test of faith, can you keep hope alive? Paul tells us in Philippians 4: Let the peace that passes understanding rule in your hearts and keep you focused on Jesus who is near to you and even inside you. We can do all things, even suffer, when we abide in Him. Our job as believers is to show this hope and faith to the world and each other.

Do Not Pray for This People

From our pulpits we hear constantly how God is merciful and forgives sin.  Often a mark of “success” of a sermon seems to be how good people feel about themselves as they leave a meeting or church service.  Pastors do not want to hear complaints or negative comments; they only want to be told how many attended and how large the offering was.  Would it meet the budget and have money for the programs?  The polish and prominence of the parish is the paramount proportion to show we are doing “the Lord’s work.”  This is not to say all pastors or church leaders are out of the loop of what Father may be planning, but there seems to have been so much emphasis in the last few decades on love that we have not heard any warnings about ignoring God’s goodness.

How rarely does one hear of God’s anger, even though there are over 150 references to God’s judgment in the Bible and only about half that in reference to God having mercy?  Of course, a word search does not fully reveal the themes of Scripture and certainly, God IS merciful.  The concept of His desire for none to be lost, and for all to come to repentance is rife throughout the Word.  The Bible is God’s love letter to us, that we can be saved from judgment!  Yet, one of the chief motivations to appeal for His mercy, is that unless we entreat Him for it, He WILL pronounce judgment on the recalcitrant.  His mercy is for anyone who requests it, but what of those who refuse to ask or do not even know that they should!?

God is certainly more patient than we are.  Within the book of Judges, there is a pattern of disobedience followed by punishment, followed by repentance, followed by deliverance, followed by repeated disobedience . . . over and over and over and over!!  This pattern continued throughout the Kings of Israel and Judah, until finally God’s patience wore out.  All along the way, He raised up many prophets to warn the people that judgment would come, until finally, He told Jeremiah to stop praying for the people!

How far down the path of calling good evil and evil good can we go before we have exhausted His patience again?  How many innocents who have not yet been born can we kill, sacrificing them to the gods of convenience, fame and money?  What does one make of an elected governor who says abortion is the way to love your neighbor!? (Ezekiel 16:35-3823:37-43).  How long can we keep putting darkness for light and light for darkness; how long can we exchange bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; how long can we be wise in our own eyes, promote heroes for how much wine they can drink, and take bribes to acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of their rights?  (Isaiah 5:20-25).

Is the USA past a point of no return?  Is God telling His people to stop praying for our nation?  When you pray for our leaders and the condition of our country, do you get a sense that Heaven is brass, and God will not listen anymore?  Who will warn the society that famine may be a season away, that a sword is being sharpened to cut off the life of the republic?  Should we not be concerned when the choices for our leaders have devolved so low, when Supreme Court Justices must fear for their lives because of ruling in favor of protecting the unborn?  Are the following warnings given to Jeremiah about Israel equivalent to God’s words to the United States?  Who will warn our people?

“Do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.  Do you not see what they are doing in the cities and in the streets?  The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven.  And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.  Is it I whom they provoke?  Is it not themselves, to their own shame?”  Therefore, thus says Yahweh-Elohim, “Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 7:16-20)

“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words.  They have gone after other gods to serve them. …” Therefore, says Yahweh, “Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape.  Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.  Then they will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble.  For your gods have become as many as your cities, and as many as your streets are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.  Therefore, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?  Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom?” … Yahweh once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’  But with the roar of a great tempest, He will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed.  “I, Yahweh-tzavot [The LORD of hosts], who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil you have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”  (Jeremiah 11:10-17)

“Yahweh said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.  Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer … offerings, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”  Then I said: “Ah, Yahweh-Elohim, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’”  And Yahweh said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them.  They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.  Therefore, thus I, Yahweh say concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.  And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters.  For I will pour out their evil upon them.” (Jeremiah 14:11-16)

May Yahweh, The God Who Is, have mercy on us.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Boiled Frogs and Insidious Cooks; CBDC’s Warming of the Water

You may have heard about the way to “cook a frog.”  I do not mean frog legs, or actually cooking for consumption, but cooking for the purpose of killing.  As the story goes, if you drop a frog into very hot water, it will immediately jump out of the pan and scramble away as fast and as far as possible.  BUT, if you gently set the frog down in cool water and very gradually increase the heat, it will sit there almost smiling until its heart stops beating and it dies.  Now, before PETA or other animal activists start protesting in my neighborhood, allow me to clarify, I, personally, have never done this nor witnessed it done.  Never in my house!  However, videos on YouTube (gotta watch it to the end!😉) suggest dropping the frog into boiling water will immediately kill it, and in the other case, unless the heat is VERY gradually increased, the amphibian will jump out as its thermoregulating nerves signal danger, even though it is cold-blooded.

Whether there is truth in the tales of cooking frogs, the illustration holds for the truth that gradual degradation of society is much more effective than revolution in changing what the general public believes.  Revolution may change a society’s politics or governance but will do little to change the standards of morals or beliefs of the culture.

A 23-year-old I knew in the early 80s thought the end of the world was approaching when he reported his employer would no longer issue his paychecks to him at the end of the week, but would directly deposit them into his bank account!  Old hat, we might say.  After all, that was over 40 years ago.  In fact, I remember as a child seeing the first Master Card commercials and my parents thinking “The Only Card You Will Ever Need” was pure evil!

A decade ago pressure was building to use paperless billing, and direct deposits and direct payments to various businesses was all the eco-rage.  Electronic transfers between accounts were assured to be more secure than writing checks or paying cash, and think of all the forests we could save!

Fast-forward to the current age, and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will get all the attention soon.  It will make financial record-keeping very simple; no need for cash or risk of getting mugged . . . except the thieves could steal your access card and PIN (Private Identification Number).  But the record of every transaction would be almost self-regulating.

The problems with cards are that they can be stolen, you can lose them, or they can be damaged or forgotten.  The simple solution will be a biomarker that will be unique to you, maybe a fingerprint or iris scan.  Facial ids on phones and other tech gadgets are gradually warming the water for us so that this will seem the next logical step.  Of course, then there are the stories of fingers stolen or pushing a dead man’s eye up to a scanner that make exciting theater for spy movies.

But overall, CBDCs promise is to be safe, secure and most importantly, convenient.  They will almost eliminate money-laundering once they are the most common form of currency.  They will guarantee that if your access is somehow forged (Lost another finger!? You need a new neighborhood! 😱), the government will make sure your “money” is restored.  And, easy!?  You can travel anywhere in the world, and with simplest computer access, you can reach into your account no matter where it is based.

As I type this, once the ongoing trials are over, we will see CBDC introduced in America as an option, the way the Chinese are initiating their digital yuan [¥] (or renminbi [RMB]) to several provinces.  It may take many years to make CBDC in America the “law of the land” that must be used in lieu of other media of exchange including crypto currencies and barter.  However, watching China will provide an index for how quickly the US could move as we become more dominated by an autocratic leadership, whatever party holds the White House or the Congress.

This is a major step in The Great Reset, a socialist globalist plan to transform the world economy guided by the “brains” of the World Economic Forum.

So what has this to do with our spiritual welfare and our ability to follow Jesus?  A great deal.  While concludes his article about the ABCs of CBDCs with several “I don’t knows” and that no one can predict the future, what he fails to see is the Biblical narrative that CBDCs are all precursors to a global monetary system to be invoked by a Man that the Apostle John referred to as “The Beast.”

2023: The ABC’s of CBDC, the Great Reset(s) & MORE Centralized Control

VERY importantly, we must recognize that no one can be secretly given The Mark of the Beast, even though it will not likely be called that, just as the Man will not be called The Beast.  He will deceive people into taking this Mark based on his economic policies and the world’s crises that will make his global policy look inviting.  But it will be only by one’s choice that they will subscribe to his system and receive his Mark.

The next step in the process to get us to a global monetary system is to use CBDCs in various countries, eventually to include all 193 nations of the world.  Watch for more advanced nations to assist third world countries to do this.  Thus, accepting a CBDC in any country, even using biomarkers to access your account, will NOT be taking the Mark of the Beast.  No one can inject it into you, nor can it be administered without your knowledge.  But there are “insidious cooks” who are warming the water, whether Klaus Schwab of the WEF, Xi of China, Congress or Presidents of the USA or any financial advisors assuring you that CBDCs are “safe, secure and convenient.”

Love the Truth, both the concept of it and the Person who called Himself that, and you can rest assured that you will not be deceived.  Refuse to love Truth in any form, and it will leave you warming up to becoming a boiled frog.

Guest blog by B.G. O’Neal: God Will Turn It Around!

As we wrap out another year, let me encourage you with BG O’Neal’s blog of encouragement.  I also hope with Jews around the world who proclaim each Passover: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”  Perhaps we will attend next year in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21).  So as we end this year and move into 2023, consider where you are on your faith journey.  “When we all come to die, does it make the slightest difference which political party we belong to?  Does it matter whether we are rich or poor, learned or otherwise?  There is only one fundamental distinction, and that is whether we belong to the world or to Christ.“  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come.
I’ve added some graphics and an additional YouTube link.

by Flip Side – Word Up, BG O’Neal 

We live in a most precarious time when trust seems to be pendulous. It feels like so much is just hanging in the air. There are so many variables to consider. Oh, the look on sad ashen faces! It is like a generation lost. And we thought we had it so bad growing up in the 50s to 70s.

How does a person, young or old contend with the affairs of this day? Political unrest! Church attendance! Divorce rates! And sadly a society that loves to escape to fantasy! Be whatever you feel like! Be a furry, be a dog! That may provide a temporary mirage of an escape. Wait until you get treated like a dog!!!

A dog’s life is not always about being loved and cared for. Sometimes they get abused, starved, killed. What about just being what your loving Creator, “Yahweh,” made you to be? Man up! Woman up! No wonder the world is so forlorn, so torn, so sad! But are we praying for our world, or do we seek only our own good?

Please realize that we are not alone in facing the issues in our world. The same rain falls on us all! The same sun shines on us all! We all have to deal with life! We all face the same perplexities. They have not changed much but rather intensified: suicide rates; political unrest; a broken economy with unfathomable debt!

So many broken marriages. Unemployment on the rise! We live in a lazy co-dependent society. Lack of customer service and disrespect is one of the results of a godless society. Anger and hatred against God and Christ is rampant! Have you ever seen such rudeness and ignorance? It’s sad to say that these same attributes exude from our pulpits at times! No wonder there is so much anxiety in the world!!!

I know it seems that I have painted a very bleak picture. However, there is hope! God was in Christ reconciling the world back unto himself. This same Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life! He is the Savior for all who accept him. As the song says, “The only real peace I have dear Lord is in you!” You also can have that peace of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior!

Accept him today and be filled with the Holy Spirit who gives true peace. Life will still be tough! Things will at times be difficult to understand! You will make it through your trials! And oh, the joy that God gives!!! The ‘pseudo’ happiness the world offers is just that! Fake! Would you now consider praying and seeking the Lord for salvation?

Let God turn some things around for you. Experience His grace and mercy! Rest in his ever abiding peace and love! Listen to the heart cry of the Psalmist in this passage below:

“I’m worn out with my weeping and groaning. Night after night I soak my pillow with tears, and flood my bed with weeping. My eyes of faith won’t focus anymore, for sorrow fills my heart. There are so many enemies who come against me! Turn from me, all you troublemakers! For Yahweh has turned to hear the sound of my weeping. Yes! Yahweh my healer has heard all my pleading and has taken hold of my prayers and answered them all.” Psalms 6:6-9 (TPT).

 

 

Never On a Sunday

Dad and Mother will be turning over in their graves this weekend.  They passed into Heaven in 1973 and 1999 respectively.  Christmases in ’66 and ’94, the last ones to arrive on Sundays prior to their deaths, were cause for special celebration as Dad and Mother considered Sunday to be a “Sabbath” (although they knew the Jewish practice of the true Sabbath being from Friday at 6pm to Saturday at 6pm).  However, since Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, Christians shortly after began meeting on Sunday rather than the Sabbath, and this was cemented in minds after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. as we Gentiles became the predominant population of Christ-followers.

Throughout the 1900s this coincidence of Jesus’ birth and our weekly worship time was a delight to ministers who would see crowds gather in greater number than any other time of the year (except possibly Easter).  But something changed as we headed into the new century.  Maybe it was the reaction to covid, or the development of the “Mega-Church” and the explosion of church staffs and production qualities that rival Academy Awards shows.  The modern “worship service” takes more people and more tech than the Death Star development in Star Wars, especially if it is broadcast over multiple campuses and the internet!  Why not just pre-record it?

Add that this year we have a “bomb cyclone❗” hitting the middle of the nation on Christmas “Adam.” (That’s the day before Christmas Eve… get it, Adam came before Eve? 😄)  It seems like the weather forecasters need to cooperate with the fear-mongers at every level of government and large institutions, so they chose the most horrific words to describe what we used to call “a winter storm.”  Yeah, yeah, big whoop, like we never dealt with snow and wind before. 🙄

When Christmas and Sunday rendezvous, some churches now feel the need to cancel Sunday worship so that the true meaning of Christmas can be experienced in all its fantastic, fabulous luxuriousness.  After all, we know Christmas is about family and Santa Claus and presents … and eggnog!  At least that’s what the agnostics and atheists say, and by actions (which speak louder than words) so does the Church when it cancels Jesus’ worship “in honor of Jesus’ birth.”  Like my brother asks, “Why would I want to host a party in MY house on MY birthday!?” 😏
Happy Birthday, Jesus.  We’re going to the movies rather than Your house today after we open all our presents we gave each other and not You.

Why would churches cancel worship on Sunday when it collides with Christmas?

  1. Does the Bible say we should?  No.  I’ve read the entire library a few times, and neither the celebration of Christ’s birth nor Sunday worship is mentioned.
  2. Perhaps Christians around the world are complaining, “We can’t go to church Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day!  That’s just too much worship.”
  3. Maybe they are thinking, “Well, commercial places are closed on Christmas! Why should we stay open?”
  4. Folks really need time to marvel at Santa’s empty cookie plate, open presents, go out to eat, and still have time to go to the movies and it’s hard to fit all that in with an extra worship service on Christmas Eve.

It seems the only folks who actually say, “Let’s cancel Sunday worship if Christmas falls on Sunday” are church employees, including some ministers.  After all, they spend their workdays all week celebrating Jesus; they deserve a day off from such tiring spirituality, right?  But as another blogger pointed out, the extra work is “not as hard as being beheaded by ISIS for your faith or being a Christian in Saudi Arabia or India, but it is really, reeeally hard.” 😢

During the 20th century, the 25th of December was on a Sunday 14 times (*see list below).  This century has started off with 2005, 2011, 2016 and now this year, 2022.  Actually, I cannot recall any churches cancelling Christmas Day services before this year, but several in our fair city and many in other places are.  The next time Christmas and Sunday bump into each other will be 2033 (2028 is a leap year).  The following years* will probably have me watching from Heaven, unless Jesus has returned.

However, a big business needs to evaluate cost-benefit analyses, and if less than half of a church’s parishioners show up for Christmas Sunday, is the effort worth it?  Don’t I recall something about “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them?”   In any case, I suspect MANY people would show up for Christmas Day services at a church building:

  1. Nominally religious people who want to show off and need to be told the Gospel again.
  2. Christ-followers who love to meet with other believers who love to celebrate Jesus.
  3. Lonely people for whom the “family” orientation of the day exacerbates their loneliness; they need the body of Christ!
  4. Politicians: these folks need the Gospel more than our votes, but they’ll show up to garner them from the gullible.
  5. “Out-of-town” family members who are in town for the holiday visits.
  6. Atheists who are wondering, “What do those people do at a church meeting on a holiday?”
  7. People who love celebrations with beautiful Christmas music.

Perhaps we are buying into the secularization of Christmas and are idolizing our families over the One who said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

How do we claim, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” if we add, “unless His birthday falls on the day we usually gather to worship Him,” without looking silly, inconsistent and inconsequential?  So celebrate Christmas this year with worship of the God Who Is and who loves us so much that He came to live as one of us, to experience our pain, sorrows and loss, and to die in our places.  Yes, celebrate Christ’s birth … but Never On a Sunday.

*Christmas fell on a Sunday in these years:1904, 1910, 1921, 1927, 1932, 1938, 1949, 1955, 1960, 1966, 1977, 1983, 1988, 1994.
*In the 21st century, this will occur again in 2033, 2039, 2044, 2050, 2061, 2067, 2072, 2078, 2089, 2095.

Advent: What Will Happen Soon

Advent, a Latin-borrowed term for something that is coming into view, is mostly used to refer to Jesus’ first arrival on earth the first Christmas day.  However, in church history the birth of Jesus did not get a lot of press or attention.  Some Christ-followers even disdained its celebration as too aligned to pagan Saturnalia practices of ancient Roman days; a festival of debauchery associated to the winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer after the autumn’s longer shadows have stretched the night to its maximum.  The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock fame actually made Christmas celebration illegal for their colony.

“Advent” in its current incarnation, refers to the four weeks prior to Christmas, celebrated by most Christians as December 25, though the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown.  Each week is commemorated with a special focus of a blessing that will come into the world with the “coming of Jesus.”  Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are the four themes, usually marked by the lighting of candles and recitation of Scripture on these ideas.  These practices of Advent probably began sometime before 400 C.E. and were established as a church practice by the second Council of Tours in 567 with monks being required to begin a regular fasting schedule from December 1 to the 25th.

Some churches will rearrange the order of the themes; some substitute Faith for one of them, and some add a fifth candle, The Christ Candle, for lighting on Christmas Day.  In any case, this is not a Scriptural design, but serves as a reminder to Christians of various themes of Jesus first time on earth.

However, when the Church began celebrating the Advent season of Christ’s birth, the focus was not so much on fuzzy good feelings of the commercial season we now see.  Rather they were laser focused on how He came to begin the process by which He wouldjudge the living and the dead,

Evangelism was not shrouded in anger and antagonism at sin and heretics, but joyful communication of the recognition that God would set all injustices right; He would heal all diseases; He would establish His throne on earth to rule in love and holiness.  What He began with His first Advent would end with His glorious return; thus, the judgement of Jesus was part of the Good News!  The judgement day was not about gleefully consigning neighbors and the mass of non-Christians to eternal hell, but about helping anyone with a heart for good to participate in Jesus’ final victory over Martin Luther’s “three cosmic enemies of Christ,” sin, death and the devil.

In antiquity Christ-followers cared little about Jesus’ birthday but focused on two other major events in space-time history: the Resurrection and Jesus’ Second Coming, i.e., His Advent back into the world for the second time.  He specifically warned His followers to beware of false “christs” (anointed ones) and to avoid setting a date for His return.  (See Matthew 24.)

When Jesus left the earth, angels reaffirmed that He was not gone permanently, but would come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  The disciples, some 500+ of them, waited in Jerusalem for His promise to send the Holy Ghost.  This occurred 50 days after His resurrection on the Day of Pentecost, and the New Covenant He had instituted with His apostles at the last supper was initiated.  Under His direction they were to tell everyone that Jesus is the Son of God and will forgive the sins of anyone who repents and follows Jesus.  They proceeded to fill Jerusalem with this message, spread it to all Judea, reach out to Samaria and eventually to the “ends of the earth.”

We are there – the ends of the earth, about as far removed geographically as one can get from Jerusalem, the exact antipode being somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  And this message is being translated into almost every known language on earth, so that this Gospel (good news) has reached nearly the whole world, precipitating Jesus’ second coming.  Keep in mind that of the languages in which Bible translation has not begun, many have access to Bibles in similar languages to their “heart language” and many are very small ethnic groups.   Wycliffe Global Alliance estimates 6,000,000,000 people have a full Bible available with another 22% having partial translations, meaning 97% of the world’s 8,000,000,000 have access to the truth of the Good News!

Now regarding this “Second Coming” there is a lot of confusion.  Jesus was intentionally vague about “the day and the hour” because He did not want someone to think, “My master is delayed,” (Matthew 24:45-51) and slip into selfish behaviors, ignoring that our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6) knows our hearts at all times (Psalm 139:1-16).  There were even those in the first century C.E. that believed Jesus had already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).  And so confusion continues today, whether Jesus will return at the beginning of a seven-year period called The Tribulation, in the middle of it or at its end.  But of this we can be certain: “the day of the Lord WILL come.”

Do you believe Jesus was who He claimed He was?  There is no getting around the idea that He claimed to be THE Son of God.  He was not just some nice philosopher with some gentle teaching.  If you read the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, you will be struck not only by how egalitarian He was among the Jews and Samaritans (leftovers from the Babylonian captivity), but by His egomaniacal claim to be One with God.  Even His enemies recognized this claim and in fact, was the basis for their intention to crucify Him.

So this year, as you sign Christmas cards or fill out ecards online, as you put up your tree or outside lights, recognize that Jesus’ first Advent was just a precursor to another Advent that will joyously tear the fabric of space and time and usher in an age of the earth such as we have never seen since the Garden of Eden.

Marantha, even so, come again, Lord Jesus.