Imagine a Christmas that’s even better than Santa Claus!

by Dennis Petersen

I wanted to write a personal little Christmas letter to all four of my dear kids and 10 grandkids.

Would you agree that Christmas ought to be far more exciting than the ‘tinsel-town’ fluff that’s typically merchandized so heavily in our desensitized, fast-paced society?

I wanted my own kids to get this clearly so they would help my grandkids to personally know the One for whom the original Santa Claus sacrificed his life… but you all might like to use it yourselves in sharing this Christmas season in a life-changing way. You could even gather your little ones around you to read this short review of how we got some of our Christmas traditions.

Today’s Western world is so monopolized by highly marketed big business and the secularized ‘lame-stream’ media that it’s completely understandable how the true origins of Christmas and many of its colorful traditions have been stolen and hijacked.

It almost looks like Jesus has been completely replaced by a secularized Santa Claus.

Maybe we could tell our kids about the original Saint Nicolas – the one who really lived 16 centuries ago – who became the source of the modern ‘Santa Claus’ myths.  He was a dedicated Christian who was generous to the poor. That was the inspiration for Santa Claus.

If you want to discover the Greek traditional story about Saint Nicolas check out historian, Bill Federer’s excellent summary at this link.  Or just web-search “How Santa Came to the West – Bill Federer.”

You’ll find out where the name “Kris Kringle” came from.

You’ll see why Saint Nick returns every year to check up on God’s children and why he has a book listing their names as ‘naughty or nice.’

The modern make-believe fable of Santa began only 5 or 6 generations ago, in 1823, with the publishing of a children’s poem called “A Visit from Saint Nicolas” which is familiar to many English speaking people today.

Though many additions have been added on, there really was a godly, courageous Bishop in 4th century Asia Minor named Nicholas, who:

– loved Jesus enough to go into the ministry,

– was imprisoned for his faith by the Romans,

– stood for the doctrine of the Trinity,

– preached against sexually immoral pagan temples, and

– was very generous, giving to the poor in their time of need!

Unfortunately, today’s media and Hollywood movie industry has “imagineered” a huge mythology of a secular Santa Claus that is far more acceptable to secular humanists and atheists than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you ever tried Comparing Santa with Jesus?

If we do try to compare Jesus with Santa, there really will be no contest.  Why not help our kids and grandkids spot the differences between cute and clever “make-believe” stories and real history – including the truths of the Bible?

  • Santa lives at the North Pole – Jesus left his celestial city to come to earth and commission His Holy Spirit to be everywhere with us.
  • Santa rides in a sleigh – Jesus rides on the wind and walks on the water.
  • Santa comes but once a year – Jesus is an ever-present help in times of need (daily).
  • Santa may fill your stockings with toys – Jesus can supply all your needs.
  • You have to stand in line to meet Santa – Jesus is as close as the mention of His Name.
  • Santa may let you sit on his lap – but Jesus lets you rest in His everlasting arms.
  • Santa has to ask you your name – Jesus not only knows your name, He knows your address too.
    • He knows our past and our future and He even knows how many hairs are on our head.
  • Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly – Jesus has a heart full of love.
  • Santa says Ho, Ho, Ho! – Jesus offers Help, Hope and Heaven.
  • Santa says you ‘better not cry’ – Jesus says ‘cast all your cares on Me for I care for you.’
  • Santa needs little helpers to make toys – Jesus himself gives life, heals wounded hearts, repairs broken homes, and prepares eternal homes for us in Heaven.
  • Santa may make you chuckle, but Jesus gives you the joy of the Lord which is your strength.
  • While Santa may put gifts under a tree – Jesus is the greatest Gift and He gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Make This Your Best Christmas Ever

Jesus is the Reason for the season.

Wise men seek Christ.

Give Christ your time, talents and treasure. Your hands, feet, lips, heart and life. Give Him your worship, you obedience, your sacrifice, your attention, and your adoration.

To obey is better than sacrifice. Make proper restitution. Be reconciled to your friends and family. Be generous. Be grateful. Recognize the many outreach opportunities around you to influence others for eternity.

Give God the very best that you have. Do not waste your life and your time on the empty boxes of the world. Do not settle for less than God’s very best.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6: 33

thanks to my African missionary friend, Dr. Peter Hammond, for the ideas of this message.  See more of his good content at Disinformation About the Twelve Days of Christmas

I finished my letter to my kids writing…

“I love you all more than I can express but remember that Jesus loves you infinitely more, enough to be judged and executed in your place.

Love,  Dad

X o x o x o x o  ++++++  and to all my dear friends…

Love to you all from our house to yours at this wonderful season of remembering the turning point in the history of the world.

Dennis”

Here is part of the text from Bill Federer’s article at the above link.

How did Santa get to the West?  Greek Traditions of St. Nicholas &How They Spread

St. Nicholas is the most popular Greek Orthodox Saint, equivalent to St. Peter in Roman Catholic tradition.  Greek Orthodox traditions tells of Saint Nicholas being born around AD 280, the only child of a wealthy, elderly couple who lived in Patara, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).  When his parents died in a plague, Nicholas inherited their wealth.  Nicholas generously gave to the poor, but did it anonymously as he wanted the glory to go to God.

One notable incident was when a merchant in town had gone bankrupt.  The creditors threatened to take, not only the merchants’ house and property, but also his children.  The merchant had three daughters. He knew if they were taken it would probably mean a life of sex-trafficking, prostitution or forced marriages.  The merchant had an idea of quickly marrying his daughters off so the creditors could not take them.  Unfortunately, he did not have money for a dowry, which was needed in that area of the world for a legally recognized wedding.   Nicholas heard of the merchant’s dilemma and, late at night, he secretly threw a bag of gold coins through the window of the merchant for the oldest daughter’s dowry.  The bag of gold coins landed in a shoe or a stocking that was drying by the fireplace.  It was the talk of the town when the first daughter got married.

Nicholas then threw another bag of gold coins through the window for the second daughter and she was able to get married.  Upon secretly throwing gold in for the third daughter, the merchant ran outside and caught Nicholas.  Nicholas made him promise not to tell where the money came from, as he wanted God alone to get the credit for the gift.

This was the origin of hanging stockings by the fireplace and midnight secret gift-giving on the anniversary of Saint Nicholas’ death, which was DECEMBER 6, 343 AD.

The three bags of money which Nicholas threw into the house are remembered by the three gold balls hung outside a pawnbrokers shop–as they present themselves as rescuing families in their time of financial need.

Nicholas made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the birthplace of Jesus.  Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad, 1869, of visiting the Church of the Nativity:  “This spot where the very first ‘Merry Christmas!’ was uttered in all the world, and from whence the friend of my childhood, Santa Claus, departed on his first journey, to gladden and continue to gladden roaring firesides on wintry mornings in many a distant land forever and forever.”

Nicholas considered joining a secluded monastery, till the Lord impressed upon him “not to hide his light under a bushel.”  Nicholas returned to Asia Minor where he became the Bishop of Myra, a busy Mediterranean port city on the south coast.  Soon Nicholas was arrested and imprisoned during Emperor Diocletian’s brutal persecution of Christians, as he refused to deny his faith in Christ.  Nicholas was freed when Emperor Constantine ended Rome’s three century long persecution of Christians.

When the first major heresy–the Arian Heresy–began to split the Christian Church, Constantine ordered all the bishops to go to Nicea to settle it, which they did by writing the Nicene Creed.  The tradition is that St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea and was so upset at Arius for starting this heresy that he slapped him across the face.  Evidently, Jolly Old St. Nick had a little temper!

Like the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts, chapter 19, Nicholas preached against the sexual immorality of Artemis or Diana fertility worship.  The Temple to Diana at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, twice as big at the Parthenon in Athens, having 127 huge pillars–and temple prostitutes.   It was the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean world.  Nicholas’ preaching led the people of Myra to tear down their local temple to Diana.  Shortly after, from the preaching of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (AD 397-403), the people tore down the temple to Diana at Ephesus.

Nicholas confronted dishonest government politicians.  One story was of a corrupt governor who was about to execute some innocent soldiers in order to cover up his misdeeds.   Nicholas broke through the crowd, grabbed the executioner’s sword, threw it down and then exposed the governor’s evil plot.   The Governor, realizing that Nicholas had no way of knowing his plot except by insight from God, fell on his knees and begged Nicholas to pray for him.

Greek Orthodox tradition attributes many miraculous answers to St. Nicholas’ prayers.  Once a storm was so bad that fishermen and sailors were not able to get back to shore.  The people asked Nicholas to pray and the sea became calm enough for the fishermen and sailors to return safely to port.  This led to Nicholas being considered the patron saint of sailors.

Nicholas died DECEMBER 6, 343 AD.  In the 5th century a church was built in Myra in his honor.  It was damaged in an earthquake in AD 529, after which Emperor Justinian rebuilt it.

In 988, Vladimir the Great of Russia converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and adopted Nicholas as the Patron Saint of Russia.

In the 11th century, Muslim jihad terrorists, the Seljuks Turks, invaded Asia Minor, killing Christians, destroying churches and digging up the bones of Christian saints and desecrating them.  Hadith Sahih Muslim (Book 4, No. 2115) states: “Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without leveling it.”

For protection, Christians shipped the remains of St. Nicholas to a church in the town of Bari in southern Italy in the year 1087.  Pope Urban II dedicated the church, naming it after St. Nicholas–the Basilica di San Nicola, thus introducing this Greek St. Nicholas to Western Europe.  So many Christians were fleeing the Muslim invasion of Eastern Europe that Pope Urban II went to the Council of Claremont in 1095 and called upon European leaders to send help.  Help was sent –it was called the First Crusade.  With St. Nicholas’ remains in Italy, western Europeans quickly embraced the gift-giving traditions associated with him.

How did St. Nicholas become Santa Claus?

By 1223, so much attention was being given to gift-giving during the Christmas season, that Saint Francis of Assisi wanted to refocus the attention to the birth of Christ.  St. Francis created the first creche or nativity scene, a humble manger of farm animals with the focus being on Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus–the Son of God come to dwell among men.

In 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation, which effectively ended “saints days,” including the popular “St. Nicholas Day,” as these days were considered distractions from Christ.  Since Germans like the gift-giving, Martin Luther moved the giving to December 25th to emphasize that all gifts come from the Christ Child.  The German pronunciation of Christ Child was “Christkindl,” which over the centuries became pronounced as “Kris Kringle.”

As Roman Catholics say St. Peter is at the Gates of Heaven, a Greek Orthodox tradition developed from the prophecy of Jesus returning at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead, riding a white horse, and the saints returning with him, riding white horses.

Revelation 19:11-16 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.   And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.”

Revelation 19:14 added: “… And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”

As Nicholas is a saint, the reasoning is that he would certainly be one of the multitude returning with Jesus, riding a white horse.  The Greeks just embellished it with St. Nicholas coming back once a year for a sort of mini pre-Judgement Day, to check up on the children to see if they are on the right track.   Over the centuries, the story evolved.  In Norway there were no horses, so they have St. Nicholas riding a reindeer.  The Saints came down from heaven, the New Jerusalem, the Celestial City–which turned into the North Pole.  The Lamb’s Book of Life and Book of Works turned into the Book of the “naughty and nice.”  The angels turned into elves.

During Henry VIII’s reign, Christmas celebrations in England became sort of a Mardi Gras–a time of partying and carousing. When Puritans took over England, they outlawed Christmas as too worldly.  When Puritans settled Massachusetts, they had a five shilling fine for anyone caught celebrating Christmas.  Puritan leader, Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), told his congregation, December 25, 1712:

“Can you in your Conscience think, that our Holy Savior is honored, by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Reveling; by a Mass fit for none but a Saturn or a Bacchus, or the Night of a Mahometan Ramadan? You cannot possibly think so!”

But the Dutch settlers loved Christmas and St. Nicholas traditions.  The Dutch had St. Nicholas coming once a year to give presents to good children, accompanied by a Moorish costumed helper, Zwarte Piet, who would put naughty children into gunny sacks to take back to Spain where they would be sold into Muslim slavery.  Eventually, Dutch immigrants brought St. Nicholas traditions to New Amsterdam, which became New York in 1665. Dutch pronounced Saint Nicholas as “Sinter Klass” or “Sant Nikolaus,” which became pronounced “Santa Claus.”

Washington Irving was the author of Legend of Sleepy Hallow and Rip Van Winkle.  Irving also wrote Diedrich Knickerbocker’s A History of New York, 1809, in which he described St. Nicholas no longer wearing a bishop’s outfit, but a typical Dutch outfit of long-trunk hose, leather belt, boots and a stocking hat.

Clement Moore was an Episcopal priest and Hebrew professor at General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City.  His family’s land is now the New York neighborhood of Chelsea, where a Clement Clarke Moore Park is located at 10th Ave. and 22nd St.  In 1823, Clement Moore wrote a poem for his six children titled “A Visit From St. Nicholas”:

‘TWAS the night before Christmas,

when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse;

 

The stockings were hung

by the chimney with care,

In hopes that ST. NICHOLAS

soon would be there …”

 

“When, what to my wondering

eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh,

and eight tiny reindeer,

 

With a little old driver,

so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment

it must be ST. NICK …”

 

“So up to the house-top

the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys,

and ST. NICHOLAS too …”

 

“As I drew in my head,

and was turning around,

Down the chimney ST. NICHOLAS

came with a bound …”

Clement Moore described St. Nicholas as smaller:

“He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.”

Harper’s Weekly Magazine had an illustrator named Thomas Nast, who drew St. Nicholas visiting Union troops.  Nast, who was famous for inventing the Republican elephant and Democrat mule in his political cartoons, was the first artist to put a “North Pole” sign behind St. Nick as a subtle jab against the South during the Civil War.

In 1930, Coca Cola hired artist Haddon Sundblom, famous for his Quaker Oats man, to create a painting every year of “Jolly Old St. Nick” drinking Coke.

Though many additions have been added on, there really was a godly, courageous Bishop in 4th century Asia Minor named Nicholas, who:

-loved Jesus enough go into the ministry,

-be imprisoned for his faith by the Romans,

-stood for the doctrine of the Trinity,

-preached against sexually immoral pagan temples, and

-was very generous, giving to the poor in their time of need!

Thanksgiving to our Maker

The Fear of God = Trust in God’s Complete Word

There’s probably no better way to realign our hearts and attitudes in our perverse generation than to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving on our lips.

Why should we all give thanks to God?

Psalm 95:2 tells us: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…”  But why?

(more…)

95 Reforms for Reformation, Then and Now

Does the number 95 mean anything special to you… Especially in the light of the month of October?

When you think about what happened just 500 years ago in Germany – 95 points of discussion were posted on the community bulletin board, a church door – a lowly monk unintentionally set in motion a sequence of events that changed the world more than any other single action by a human being since the resurrection of Christ. 

 My missionary friend in South Africa, Dr. Peter Hammond, has provided for us profound insights that can impact our priorities for generations to come if we’ll take them to heart. 

Unprecedented

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedom, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.

First Things First

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

The Question of Authority (more…)

Why Halloween Reformation Day was a Transforming Day in History

By Dennis Petersen

Do you know what October 31st is besides Halloween?  Hint: it’s one of the most important days in the history of the Christian church and it affects everything about your life today.  Everything!

It was on the 31st of October 1517 that a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. By God’s grace, Luther’s courageous act of challenging corruption and unbiblical heresies launched the Great Reformation.  But why is this legacy worth recalling and how does it affect us today?

On Reformation Days – October 31st   – most American Christians seem more conscious of Halloween than of the Reformation. It appears that more of the children in our churches are celebrating pagan and dark, grotesque symbols for Halloween than the great spiritual Revival that led to the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

Halloween

Halloween is celebrated by millions on October 31st each year with costumes and candy. Despite its Christianized name, Halloween stems from an ancient pagan Celtic religion that started nearly two centuries before the birth of Christ.  The tribal Druids of Ireland and Europe offered end-of-harvest sacrifices at this beginning of winter to appease a Celtic demon they called Samhain (SOW-in), the lord of death, and of evil spirits. The early Gaelic Celts apparently believed that Samhain sent evil spirits into the world to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.  Catholic Christians tried to form an alternative tradition by moving the celebration of “All Hallows’ Day” that celebrated the lives of Christian martyred saints from May to November 1st.  So November 1st is referred to as “All Saints’ Day.” In medieval England that Catholic festival was known as All Hallows.  The evening before (October 31st) was thus named “All Hallows’ eve” which became Hallow-een.

Reformation Day

Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This one act triggered the Protestant Reformation because Luther’s challenges to the church’s practices were immediately translated and distributed all across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—that is, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, like we read in Ephesians 2:8 and 9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast.”  It was also the protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. The century before the Reformation was marked by widespread dissatisfaction with the corruption of the leaders in the Roman Catholic Church and with its false doctrines, biblical illiteracy, and superstition. Monks, priests, bishops, and popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like the selling of indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, and salvation through good works.

All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead is normally celebrated, primarily by Roman Catholics, on November 2. This is a day dedicated to prayer and almsgiving in memory of ancestors who have died. People pray for the souls of the dead, in their hopeful belief to hasten their release from purgatory to heaven by being purged and cleansed from their sins.

Treasury of Merit

Spiritually sincere people were taught to redeem themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious rituals. They were persuaded to acquire this “merit,” which was at the disposal of the church, by purchasing “certificates of indulgence.”  This left them wondering if they ever did enough or paid enough to appease God’s righteous anger and escape his judgment. That was the popular mindset that prompted Luther’s desire to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith on account of Christ by imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.

Think of it.  Almost 98% of medieval people couldn’t read.  They were spiritually oppressed by indulgences.  They had no assurance of God’s grace.  Doctor Luther proclaimed the grace of God’s acceptance for true saints.

Instead of the treasury of merit that was for sale, Luther protested, “The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God”

Life in Europe and England (not to mention the rest of the world) has changed drastically since 500 years ago.  For both Christians and unbelievers, the time of the early 16th Century when Martin Luther lived was radically different and desperate.  It’s obvious that modern technology’s conveniences were absent, but even common things we take for granted like clean water and comfortable housing were unknown.

Think of Productive Prosperity

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedoms, productivity and prosperity ever known in history.  The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization are direct results of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.  Don’t miss why these amazing results occurred.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:  “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Think of Peace with God.

 Martin Luther was passionate about finding peace with God.  He studied the Bible so intently that it led him to challenge the unethical fund-raising tactics of the papacy.  That’s what ignited the Protestant Reformation.  Luther’s love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire.

Can we imagine a society without Freedom of Conscience?

Sometimes I think we miss the huge gravity of some things.  Luther’s courage to stand against the political and religious might of Europe was one of the most incredible acts of conscientious defiance in the history of the world.  He argued for freedom of conscience based upon the authority of Scripture.  Until then the fear of man was preeminent.  Luther feared God.   All religions and cultures on earth bowed to a monarchy, aristocracy and authoritarianism.  The formal Roman Catholic institution was corrupt.  Luther and the Reformers were convinced that man without God is hopelessly depraved and no human authority could be trusted as absolute.  He rejected ecclesiastical totalitarianism and championed the principle of Sola Scriptura – the Bible alone is our ultimate authority.

Education for All

Luther translated the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into the common tongue.   Everybody could now have access to it; both nobles and peasants.  Luther championed education and literacy for everyone.  He defended the Priesthood of all Believers.  And what Revolutionary concept did that one biblical principle lead to?

Constitutional Authority

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Everyone is under God’s Law.  The reformer’s principle of Sola Scriptura broke down ecclesiastical and political totalitarianism.  The Protestant emphasis on the Priesthood of all Believers led to the concept of representative government and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land.

What results from convincing society of the truth of Religious Liberty?

By emphasizing the Biblical doctrine of Faith as a gift of God, Luther undermined the Catholic Inquisition and provided the theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  Religious liberty and freedom of conscience led to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.

The Reformation gave us the Bible – available in our own languages.

Few people today realize that the first Bibles printed in English had to be printed in Germany and smuggled into England in bales of cotton from Holland.  The first Bible translator, William Tyndale, was executed by strangulation and his body burned at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.  Seven mothers and fathers were burned alive at Coventry for teaching their own children The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles Creed – in English.

Courage and Sacrifice for Believers today?

The sacrifices made by the Reformers and the far-reaching impact of their courageous application of the Word of God to every area of life, needs to be rediscovered.  The Christian Church has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or cause in History.

Blessing the Nations

Most of the languages of the world were developed into a written system by Christian missionaries.  More schools and universities have been started by Christians than any other religion, nation or group.  Christian Reformers and missionaries have succeeded in bringing about the abolition of slavery, cannibalism, child sacrifice and widow burning.  Those countries that enjoy the most civil liberties, are those lands where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most.

Transforming Nations

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life-changing, history making and nation transforming.  If it doesn’t change your life and the lives of those around you, then it’s not the Biblical Gospel.

Checks and Balances

The Reformers understood God’s Sovereignty. They courageously proclaimed that Scripture alone is our final authority.  Christ alone is the Head of the Church.  Justification is by God’s Grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by Faith alone.  The Reformers’ teaching on the depravity of man, the New Covenant in Christ, and church government, have influenced positive political and social developments in liberty throughout the Western world and beyond, establishing checks and balances, the separation of powers and constitutional authority.

Faith and Freedom

All of us are beneficiaries of this tremendous movement for Faith and Freedom.  If you love liberty, you need to re-examine the history and principles of the Reformation.

The Reformation took the Church out of gross ignorance and spiritual darkness.

Before the Reformation the church had no Bible. And a church without a Bible is as useless as a lighthouse without light, or a car without an engine. The priests and people knew scarcely anything about God’s Word or the way of salvation in Christ.

Now think of this:  Our current generation of believers… not to mention the world learning corrupted revisionist history … is in danger of losing the profound legacy of courage that preserved Bible truths that are much forgotten.

The 16th Century was the pivotal generation of martyrs who willingly laid down their lives to preserve the scripture for us.  That was providential!  Why?  Because the truths in the Bible are eternal and essential for communicating the heart of God and regenerating lost souls to gain eternal life.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

The second commandment contains both a severe threat and a most incredibly gracious promise.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in Heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

A Solemn Responsibility

Parents have an awesome responsibility. We are to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)  We are to “train a child in the way he should go …” (Proverbs 22:6)  According to 1 Timothy 3:4, we are to manage our own family well and see that our children learn to obey with proper respect.

Psalm 78:4-8 tells us to…

 “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done … so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands. They would not be … stubborn and rebellious … (like previous generations) whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

The Bible tells us to not just raise God-fearing sons, but sons who will become God-fearing fathers, who in turn will raise God-fearing sons to become fathers who will love, honor, trust and obey God. We are to raise disciples who raise disciples so that God’s generational blessing is passed down and the chain unbroken.

Invitation

I invite you to visit our website www.ReclaimYourLegacy.com and share our resources with your family and friends.  And if your church or group would like to have us minister in person, just contact me.  I truly trust we can help you and your friends strengthen your life’s purpose and reclaim your legacy.

Martin Luther said:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God’s Word, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront besides is mere flight and disgrace – if he flinches at that point.

Compromise and cowardice hurts everyone It’s short-sighted.  The Word of God commands us not to be afraid of any man (Deuteronomy 1:17). We are warned that the fear of man will prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25).  It is cowardice for us to remain silent when we should speak up. To be passive and inactive when we should fight for what is right. Isaiah 51:12-13 says:

“Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of a son of man, who will be made like grass? You forget the Lord your maker, who stretched out the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…” 

The Bible tells us that God seeks “Godly offspring…” Malachi 2:15. It is the first priority of parents and teachers to ensure that children are taught to love God and His Word. Secular humanist education is attempting to kill God by eradicating Him from the classroom and from the minds of the next generation. By eliminating the Bible as the basis for all knowledge, humanists are removing the very foundation of truth. They are prohibiting the only objective standard by which reality can be evaluated.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.”   Colossians 2:8

Martin Luther wrote:

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them on the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”

In this culture war, it is vital that we understand the war between Creation and the theory of Evolution. Science textbooks and Museums are strategic battlegrounds in the world war of worldviews.

We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the God of the Word. We need to know God and to make Him known.  It is vital that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and to practically know how to defend it in argument. It is also vital that we become effective soul winners.

Christians must recognize that we are involved in a world war of worldviews. There is a war against God and against His Word – The Bible. In this battle for the mind, classrooms and cinemas are battlefields. Education is a battleground. The textbooks and the teachers are frequently promoting evolutionism, situation ethics, sex education and values clarification. Reality is being rearranged by selective focus and in what Karl Marx declared “the first battlefield – the rewriting of history.” By twisting perceptions, secular humanists hope to steal our children and hijack our culture and country. Much of the entertainment industry has been so subverted as to glamorize evil, popularize profanity, and celebrate ugliness. It is the duty of Christians to support excellent Christian media.

The philosophy of Evolution that is called a theory is a vile attempt to get rid of God from society’s thinking.  Evolution destroys all meaning, purpose, direction, justice and hope in life. The Scriptures declare: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

We are called to be the light of the world. All the darkness cannot put out the smallest light. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Young people have a far greater capacity for spiritual and social maturity than we give them credit for. Young people should be encouraged to go deeper, further and higher for the Lord.  The recent phenomenon of age-segregated Sunday morning worship should be re-evaluated in the light of Scripture. The youth are not the Church of tomorrow, they are part of the Church today. The Church is one body. “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that body being many are one body; as also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

Parents should be raising up their children in the fear of God, in fellowship with all believers. Church social events should involve families. Youth ministry should be returned to where it belongs – to families and fathers. It is a sad fact that many youth groups are doing more harm than good. “Those who walk with the wise become wiser still, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Many mainline denominations have been infiltrated by secular humanists, who have gutted the churches of the Biblical Gospel and produced generations of spineless quasi-believers. (Dr. Hammond calls them evangellyfish). Many churches are filled with pseudo-saved, semi-saved, half-saved, un-saved, pew-warmers who have never been truly converted, nor have they come into any real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

What are we going to do about all this?

Is there not a cause?

By Dennis Petersen

“Is There not a cause?” asked the shepherd David in Israel 3,000 years ago, when he witnessed the fear of Goliath among his fellow countrymen.

 

It’s bad enough when the enemies of your own life overwhelm you with fear.  But when the enemies of your whole culture, indeed of the very kingdom of your God, are openly hostile to the absolute values and objectives of life itself, do you think we might possibly be encouraged by this memorable ancient landmark recorded so specifically for us in our Bible?

 

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 15:4, telling us that:

 

“whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

 

Do you think that our generation could use some hope?  Do you sense that Christians and non-Christians alike are feeling overwhelmed by the “Goliaths” that threaten our very existence in today’s world?

 

Take a little time to personally review the story of David’s encounter on the battlefield with the giant Goliath in first Samuel 17.

 

There are lots of Scriptural encouragements. We must continually reflect on them when facing fearful conditions.  Those causes may make us faint or recoil from the calling of God on His people and on us individually.  We need strength that comes from His Word.

 

“The battle is the Lord’s”

1 Sam. 17:47.

 

And that declaration emboldened David to proclaim to his enemy that God “will give you into our hands.”

… Let’s read the whole passage beginning after Goliath’s cursing of David, at verse 45.

 

“ Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

Read Psalm 2.

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

2 Chron. 16:9

 

Let’s not forget what is the promise of God to those who chose the Lord’s true fast in Isaiah 58:10:

“If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.”   And look at verse 12: “And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Does that remind you of the work of Nehemiah in ancient Israel?

“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people; “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Nehemiah 4:14:

 

In times of crisis the urgency for followers of Jesus to “Abide” in Him could not be more absolute.  Read John 15:4-11

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

We all need to be reminded daily of the message of Galatians 6:2-10:

“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

And we dare not forget about the warning of 1 Peter 5:8:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

With all the negative and seemingly hopeless conditions surrounding our generation, do you think God, the Holy Spirit, might be speaking to us to “encourage one another day after day?”  Read Hebrews 3:7-19.

“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”

Today’s poorly taught Christians need to rediscover the implications of what is written in several places like Hebrews 10:12-13 about the cause to which we are assigned.

“but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.”

Who does the world belong to?

“…who did Abram tell the king of Sodom about God?  Genesis 14:22 says: “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…”

Psalm 24:1-6

Is God able?

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

When you think about the enemies of God in the world today, do you have your hope in God or in man to deliver the righteous children of God by the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ?

The Devil may be “the god of this world (system)” the idol of people who ignore God Almighty, but that does not mean that Jesus has revoked the authority and jurisdiction that was validated by His resurrection.

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

Ephesians 4:8

When Jesus decreed from the cross, “it is finished” what remained yet to be done?

Colossians 2:15 says:

“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

When does the end come?

“then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

Are there enemies yet to be abolished besides the last enemy of death itself?

Read on to the last verse of chapter 15:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

 

The Legacy of A Stress-free Life

By Brian Shilhavey

David, the second Jewish king lived a thousand years before Christ.  He was a man who faced tremendous stress in his life. Few of us today will face the kind of anxiety David experienced for more than 10 years of his life when he was constantly on the run from his enemies who were trying to kill him.  His psalms reveal keys that unlock powerful solutions even for today’s high stress world.

“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

Psalm 55:1-8

One of the realities of life that our current physical science-based medical system has had to admit in recent years is that there are non-physical causes to poor health and disease. One widely accepted non-physical cause is “stress.” It’s quite well known today that the presence of stress in one’s life, and how one deals with that stress, has a direct impact on one’s health. Unfortunately, the solutions the medical system most often prescribes today for mental and emotional health are expensive drugs with serious side effects. So many people are “stressed out” that anti-depressant drugs have become a growing and prosperous business for pharmaceutical companies.

King David wrote in Psalm 55 that it wasn’t just his enemies that caused problems, but also his “friends” and fellow believers:

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”

Psalm 55:12-14

Notice the signs of stress he wrote in that Psalm: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” If David confessed these feelings to a psychiatrist today, he would have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs immediately to try and stabilize his emotional condition. He had all the signs of “mental disease” including the temptation to try and escape from all of his problems by running away from them: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” He was unstable, neurotic, and desperate. He would probably be labeled as “insane” today and be committed to a mental health hospital.

What was David’s solution to his enormous stress?

David did not seek out physicians in his anxiety. He appealed to God for help, trusting that God would hear his prayers and change his condition. If you read the psalms of David you will notice that David consistently took two approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress.  Both approaches involved prayer and a personal relationship with his Creator.

  1. David prayed to God, asking him to intervene in the circumstances of his life that were causing the stress:

“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city… Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”

Psalm 55:9-19

As strong and powerful as David was, in many circumstances he was powerless against his enemies and the rulers of his day. But he knew first hand that God was not powerless, and so he appealed to God to intervene.

  1. David cast all of his worries and cares on God. He trusted in Him to take care of them all, and to sustain him with strength to endure everything.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Psalm 55:22

These two ways of using prayer to deal with stress are just as relevant to us today.  We are in the age of the New Covenant – Instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believers in the early church were often arrested and persecuted, suffering tremendous stress. The same two principles were used to deal with their anxiety and stress.

Principle 1 – pray for God to intervene in the stressful situation.

Here is an example of what was prayed after the believers were arrested and released for preaching about Jesus and miraculously healing a man (they didn’t follow the routine protocol for the healthcare of their day!):

“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Act 4:23-31

Principle 2 – cast all our anxieties and care on God, trusting him to take care of all our problems and to sustain us with his strength:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – prescription for mental health

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

1Peter 5:7-11

These are the two biblical principles for dealing with anxiety and stress, and they are the guiding principles for mental health. No drugs are needed but there is a requirement. It requires a relationship with God through Jesus.  And this is not just an intellectual knowledge about him. So the first step is the spiritual rebirth.  That’s something we need to seek and find for ourselves.

How do you deal with anxiety and stress? The two principles written about here are time-tested principles that have been used for thousands of years, long before modern-day pharmaceuticals came into the market place with our current medical system. They are backed by a guarantee from the Creator himself, the one who formed and fashioned you while still in your mother’s womb. Best of all, they are free!

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1Peter 2:24-25

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

Do you want a prescription for drug-free mental health?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Preventing Slavery by Defending Truth

How Can We Assure Our Kids Will Not Be Made Captive Slaves of the Enemy?

Can a confident and obedient disciple of Jesus ignore some of the Word of God in today’s world and not have their children be led astray?

“therefore my people go into exile (become slaves) for their lack of knowledge.”

Isaiah 5:13

 

“Beware – see to it – that no one takes you captive (makes you a slave) through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

Without God you cannot know anything.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

Prov. 1:7

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Ro 12:2 KJV

How do you do that?  To deliberately stop thinking like the world and be transformed, you must train your mind with the Word of God, right?  How else can you prove God’s perfect will?

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15  ESV

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Romans 8:7  ESV

“do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

James 4:4  ESV

Claiming to be “neutral” is a declaration of hostility to God!  Disciples devote themselves to sound doctrine.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”

Luke 6:40 NKJV

Should we be surprised if we send our Christian students to secular trained teachers in either public or private schools that they come home to us with their minds well trained in pagan thinking?  Don’t you think their behaviors will follow?

What does your Bible instruct you to do as a believing teacher who influences your children and others around you?

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

Titus 1:9 ESV

Jesus made the separation even clearer, saying:

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Matt 12:30

No wonder the Apostle Peter strongly insisted that Christians…

“in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

Do you think that ‘being prepared’ requires some careful study and preparation?

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”

2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB

Does that sound like the language of passive, post-modern, sloppy-agape?  OR does it sound like a battle plan for warriors who know they are in a deadly conflict that demands training?

The ‘verity’ (truth) of God makes it possible to KNOW things… the profoundness of that truth makes science (scientiae… to know) possible.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (scientiae – VUL): but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 1:7

If you reject God and His knowledge, you refuse instruction and are a self proclaimed ‘fool.’  Why?   Well, consider one of the most exclusive statements in the Bible:

“..in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Colossians 2:3

If the Bible were not true, you could not prove that anything is true.  Logic originates from the Creator of senses and incredibly complex DNA information that allows you to process intelligence of any kind.  In the beginning was the ‘logos’ and nothing was made without Him.

We all rely on:

  • Laws of logic to make thinking possible
  • Uniformity of nature and natural laws (i.e. gravity)
  • Absolute morality to establish ethical judgments of right and wrong

Mature followers of Christ are Biblically charged with the job of refuting…

  • Relativism… “there are no absolutes”  – How can you be absolutely certain of that?
  • Empiricism… “truth must be observed” –  Can you observe that claim?
  • Naturalism… only physical reality can somehow cause itself to exist
  • Neutrality… when your enemy is determined to eliminate what you know to be true from the discussion, attempting to appeal to neutrality or compromise is admitting defeat and refusing to provide the tools of knowledge of the truth that would allow the Holy Spirit to convict and convince their hearts if God were to give them the gift of repentance (2 Tim 2:25).

The secularist is in self-denial (delusion) and he will deny that he is in self-denial.

“There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”

2 Peter 3:16 ESV

“And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’”

Matthew 13:52

Why are secularists and even most of today’s self-proclaimed Christians blind to the obvious?

If you want to see an excellent presentation about the truth of God’s Word, I highly recommend the following presentation by my friends David Rives and Bruce Malone.

click here.

Barna polls recently show 50% of Christians claim they don’t believe the whole Bible is true.  So what do they base their faith on?

Jesus said,

“If they do not receive Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded even though one rise from the dead.”

Luke 16:31

Do you believe Jesus spoke the truth?  Do you believe the Old Testament Scriptures of the Bible can be trusted to be 100% true?

“And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female…’”

Matt 19:4 (NASB) also Mark 10:6

(note: does the Bible leave the topic of ‘gender’ open for discussion?  What happens when those who say they follow Jesus and His truth refuse to stand for the truth when the enemies of truth use intimidation to prevent people from even discussing the truth?)

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.’”

Matt 22:29  NKJV

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”

Luke 16:17 NASB

 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”

2 Timothy 2:16 KJV

If a man does not believe that the Bible is true, does his unbelief make the Bible’s Word any less true?

What are we to do to help a man overcome his mistaken belief that the Bible is not entirely trustworthy?

“the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach… with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition (to themselves), if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth, that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB

What does a man lose if he forfeits his belief in the truth of the Word of God?

“..we see that they (Israelites delivered out of Egypt) were not able to enter (Canaan-the promised land) because of unbelief.”

Hebrews 3:19 NASB

What confidence did Jesus have in the Old Testament?

“But if you do not believe his (Moses’) writings how will you believe My words?”

John 5:47

“And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Matthew 13:58 KVJ

Remember how Jesus rebuked his disciples about their unbelief when they could not deliver a lunatic man from the demonic power that ruled him.

“O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I put up with you?”

Matthew 17:17 NASB

The bitter fruit of Unbelief

Could it be that our present perverted generation is experiencing the woes of a condemned culture for the same reasons that condemned Babylon, Rome or Israel?

Is not the most basic foundation of faith in God the belief of who He is as the Creator and the communicator of His clear Word about the beginning of everything?  And how do we come to understand that fact?

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

Hebrews 11:3 NASB

Notice that understanding comes from faith.  That applies to every human no matter what his belief system is built upon.  You have to believe in somebody’s words!  If you have a choice between man’s words and God’s words, which will you choose?

Is not that same degree of faith required when we come to God in repentance to ask for His mercy and favor?

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who (diligently) seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6 NASB

Belief in something that is antagonistic to God does not reward you with anything but confusion.  Believe in God’s Word. You can trust Him above all others.

 

(more…)

12 Ways to stay optimistic in challenging circumstances

How can you be optimistic when half the population seems whacked out?

With all the bad new we hear around our affluent culture today, it’s easy to fall into pessimism and a rather grim expectation for the future.

It can seem like the time of the judges in the Bible when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Judges 1-2 stresses that Israel’s tribes failed to obey God in driving out all of the abominable pagan Canaanites from the land.

  • They disobeyed the true and living God and allowed lewd idolatrous gods to become a trap to them.
  • After Joshua’s death a younger generation arose that did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.  Why not?
  • They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.
  • They ignored the Godly ways of their fathers and played the harlot after false gods, turning aside from obeying the commandments of the Lord.

For anyone who is aware of his current world, there is no doubt that there are some pretty scary physical omens of…

Problems ahead

  1. The HoneyBee colony collapse syndrome could quickly result in massive crop failures and widespread global famine.
  2. Even though mankind’s influence is miniscule, the prospect of severe changes in the climate could affect the choices that many humans have to make in coming decades.
  3. Whether a rogue nation detonates a high altitude bomb to cause an EMP or it happens naturally from solar storms on the sun, the fear of the collapse of much of our electronic technology could result in the death of 90% of the highly dependent population.
  4. The failure of pharmaceutical-based medicine to prevent the rise of Super bugs (diseases) raises the potential of large-scale epidemics like the plagues and pestilences of both the ancient past and even the major epidemics of modern times.
  5. The Muslim immigration to Western Countries predicts the total transformation of many cultural norms in the next two decades.
  6. The continuation of the ‘me’ generation, notably given to Abortion means the inevitable loss of population growth in western Christian culture.
  7. The unwillingness of governments to manage finances conservatively will inevitably lead to Economic collapse, inflation and depression.
  8. The Irrational delusion of leftist secular philosophy is overtaking the masses who have no self restraint. They are being manipulated by ‘mountains’ of influence that the church has failed to reclaim for the kingdom of Christ.

What do the facts say about what’s happening in our world?

Check out: World Revival Network Blog – “Why you have been duped into believing that the world is getting worse and worse.” http://worldrevivalnetwork.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-you-have-been-duped-into-believing.html

“Based on social media and television news reports, multitudes are convinced that the world is growing worse and worse. Yet, there’s absolutely no evidence of this. By every measurable standard, life is improving around the globe. Darkness is fading and the goodness of God’s Kingdom is truly taking root.”

War and Violence have been going down.

There has never been a time in world history where the masses have been escaping poverty like they have in our present generation.

In 1720 the average man in England only lived to be about thirty years of age. Currently most are living past the age of eighty.

The number of those who claim to be Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last century, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2.3 billion as of 2011.

There is greater prosperity, peace, and health than ever before in recorded history. The Kingdom of God is boldly advancing and it’s transforming everything in its wake.
We need to let go of our pessimistic, “doom and gloom” worldview and truly embrace the good news of the gospel of the kingdom of God.  As Jesus promised, His Holy Spirit is working through His people to bring blessing and life to a world that has been ravaged by darkness.

What can change the World? What is the reason for True Hope?

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13

Is it possible that God is raising up a generation to repent and reform a culture, guiding a new generation to God?

How must we live?  Think?  Act?  Are we willing to think beyond ourselves and prepare to equip the “next generation” in Reclaiming their legacy?

 

1 Be grateful for what you have

  1. Focus on positive things you have.
  2. Write down 10 things you’re thankful for.
  3. Post that list and read it often.

2. Set Goals – both short term and long term

  1. Aimlessness brews frustration.
  2. Make a daily to-do list and check things off as they are done.
  3. Write where you want to be in a year and beyond.

3. Take care of your physical body

  1. Be deliberate about eating nourishing foods the build up.
  2. Thoughtfully avoid toxic substances you know destroy your health.
  3. Make a quest of finding things that enhance your wellness.

4. Take your focus off yourself

  1. Do 5 nice acts of kindness daily for others.
  2. Love the blessing of giving without expecting payback.
  3. Remember that what goes around comes around.

5. Put a guard on your mouth

  1. Consciously monitor your words to edify others.
  2. Your thoughts don’t all need to be spoken.
  3. Be careful about what you think about to guide what you say.

6. See yourself as who you want to grow into

  1. Find admirable role models to watch how they behave.
  2. Daily work on learning and doing the things that will improve you.
  3. Be patient with yourself as you would with a child you are coaching.

7. Express your creative self in some way each day

  1. Feelings of satisfaction with yourself improve when you create
  2. Do little creative acts with your appearance or your home environment.
  3. Be creative with how you treat other people.

8. Refuse the fear of failure.

  1. Embrace the fact that success is always built on multiple failures.
  2. Draw encouragement from life stories of others who overcame difficulty.
  3. Do uncomfortable things first, not just things in your comfort zone.

9. Do Not condemn yourself or labor your negative past or present.

  1. Think about what your Creator has done for your advantage.
  2. If it’s to be it’s up to me, always remembering you live by God’s grace.
  3. Think: If others can achieve it, why not me and why not now? Just get to work.

10. Stay in the moment

  1. When your thoughts drift to past hurts, decide you’re going to refocus on what you do now.
  2. Rather than worrying about future problems that might happen ask what you can do now.
  3. Look for things you can change for better outcomes in the short term.

11. Being happy is a deliberate pursuit.

  1. Smile more.  You can give one without losing yours.
  2. Find others who are joyful and learn from them.
  3. Laugh often when you have the slightest reason.

12. Recharge your emotional energy daily.

  1. Find 5 minutes of quiet time several times a day.
  2. Optimism requires refocusing on happy thoughts.
  3. Deliberately praise others and especially God.

 

“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”

Psalm 112:6-8

 

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace (prosperity).”
Psalm 37:8-11

 

How Can A Society Drift into Rejecting God?

What Does God Do with People Who Reject the Love of the Truth? by Dennis Petersen

free-choice-not-consequencesYou might wonder why a whole society seems to drift into a hardened rejection of the knowledge of God.  Why do people who resist God seem to fall prey to deeper and deeper deceptions in so many areas of life?

What do you want?
  • Confidence in your purpose in life?
  • To be pleasing to your Creator?
  • Victory over destructive influences in life?
  • Character qualities that glorify God?
  • Greater insight for success in your own journey?
  • Optimal physical well being and health?
  • Freedom to use your gifts most effectively?
  • Greater impact and influence on the world around you?

A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 1:5, 7

One of my best lessons I ever learned…  “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”  Hosea 4:6

“Through knowledge the righteous are delivered.”  Proverbs 11:9

“… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:5

What is the primary way that God gives His wisdom to those who ask of Him?

(more…)

How To Obey God Honorably in a world full of corruption and dishonesty

By Dennis Petersen

compass over mapToday’s world is filled with all sorts of deception.  Sharp discernment is required for those who really want to discover the things that are true.  If we don’t want truth we won’t search for it.  That’s why we need to be discerning. That takes a special level of heart and acuity to be able to do that in an honest way.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”

How far does that spread?  It’s in every sector of society, isn’t it?  It’s in education.  It’s in religion.  It’s in the business world.  It’s in politics.  They will find teachers according to their own desires.  It’s natural to the human condition, isn’t it?  We want to hear what we want to hear and we don’t want to hear anything that we don’t want to hear.  So Paul goes on to forecast in the letter to Timothy what to expect: “…and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

You may wonder: “Why would people believe in a myth?”  Yet, it is so common today that many people will treat you as sort of an outcast if you don’t believe in their popular myths.

What are some myths that dominate the landscape of our world today?

Evolution, Universalism, Socialism…

What could be more of a myth than the idea of evolutionism – that everything ultimately came from nothing with no designer?  Yet people believe it.  It’s a commonly held myth.  And, of course, very intellectual scientists get behind it, those whose hearts are darkened.  They do not desire to have discernment to know what is true.

I make no apology about this.  Think. It goes for other areas of human thinking and understanding.

Think about universalism.  That’s the idea that everyone will eventually get to heaven no matter how evil and hateful to God they are. They wrongly think that God certainly can’t be unforgiving to everyone so all must be acceptable to God.  Think.  God is forgiving to those who humbly acknowledge their utter lost condition and their need for His mercy.  God does forgive them.  He’s just not going to force them to turn to Him in their need.

Socialism – there’s another myth – the idea that we can all have everything, even if none of us do anything.  Let’s face it.  That doesn’t work, does it?

So here we have these dominant myths in our society today. 

First is Mother Nature – that’s the primary icon for evolution.  It just happened by itself.

Next is Universalism – God is too loving to send good people to hell.

And the inevitable outcome of the first two is the promotion of socialism.  The socialistic state will take care of you.

They are all frauds.

The basic Biblical Principle Needing our attention?

God created man to thrive in the world that God made by working to make it into something – using his God-given creativity, ingenuity and initiative to make it more than it started out.

God is the one who orchestrates the entire universe from the very beginning.  He is the one who created it all.  He is the one who created man.  He is the One who gave man initiative, creativity, abilities and skills.  God is the awesome genius Who gives us all that is needed to achieve the purpose He has designed.  And we do it by work.

Work isn’t a curse. God gave man work to do in the garden before the curse.

When people come into our Bible-believing churches with compromised views, how should we encourage them to evaluate the truths of the Bible?

Do you really believe that we should prove all things?  That’s a good way to start a conversation with anyone.  It’s a simple way to get them thinking about God and His purposes for all of us.  And use the basic qualifying question if you find they are open.

The Basic Qualifying Question

What is the basic qualifying question to help people you encounter to open their minds and discover what’s true?  It’s simply this: “If I could… would you?”

“If I could show you something…” “…give you some insight that I’ve learned…” “…help you in some of those areas…” “If I could give you some new ways of understanding… Would you?”

Would you be open to have a discussion to talk about it with me some more?  Would you entertain reading a book about it?   Would you look at some new ideas that I discovered personally?

You might want to ask: “Would it be meaningful to you if…?”  If what?  If I could show you some things that give you a new slant that you didn’t know before.

You don’t know what you don’t know

One of the most basic principles of education is this idea that none of us knows what we don’t know.  Would you agree?

So, asking questions, like I just did, is a good way to open the door to one’s reason, right?  It’s the basic qualifying question.

Do you want to order your life by the truth?  How do you establish what is true?

Is it true that the truth shall set you free? 

Watch out here.  You’ll want to look at John 8:31-32.  Does the truth set you free?  You may know many people with access to libraries full of books that contain the truth.  They may have stacks of Bibles in their home.  They may have even memorized a lot of scripture.  Does that mean they are free?  Are they necessarily free just because they know the truth?  Be sure you get the context of Jesus’ words here.  Jesus said it plainly in the opening statement here when He said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples.”  Two things are happening here: abiding in my word and being true disciples of Jesus.  Then, the result is that you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  Freedom, because of the truth that it brings, is a direct result of living in – abiding in – the words of Jesus by following and being a disciple of Jesus.  It’s all about Him and letting Him exercise His dominion in our life.. His wisdom in our life.. His insight.. His discernment… in our life.

Regardless of the anxiety about the economic future of America, compared to all the rest of the world, it’s clear that 90% of American citizens are wealthy.  Here is an area we need to delve into regarding common myths.  Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realize that we are wealthy.  We can capitalize on it even for our own sakes, let alone for God’s sake and the sake of others.  God has blessed our land in amazing ways unlike anything that has ever happened in history.  So what else are we faced to understand?

With riches come more opportunity and more responsibility.

The myth is that we achieved all this abundance because of our own goodness or skill.  Really?  Some believe in the myth that we were just lucky, and if it happens to go away we have no solution.  Just panic and hope for a new stroke of good luck.

Who is the Owner of this world anyway?

God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills.  He owns all the silver and all the gold.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1

It all belongs to God.  Do you think He’s short of any resources?

Paul wrote to Timothy to “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches (that would be practically all of us in America today), but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”  God wants us to focus on Him – not on the riches – but on Him.  He’s the One Who supplies all the things we enjoy and we are indeed ‘rich’ in this country no matter how little or how much we make, earn or create.  He goes on to say: “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Politicians and the media seem determined to incite us about economic downturns on a national or even a global level, but what about your own economy?  The average annual income for many people in nations of the world is about $300.  Would you say that we are all doing a lot better than that?  So what are we doing with our own economy? Are we looking to God to instruct us, to guide us, and to trust Him every step of the way?

What many people seem to miss is that financial security (what we regard as true economic prosperity) is more than a fat bank account. Money seems to ‘take wings.’  But prosperity is more about opportunity.  It’s about diligence and practicing good principles of personal relationship development.  It’s about bringing value to others who reward you for what you do. These are things that put you in position to have the security of ongoing income, ongoing earnings, ongoing financial security.

So what are some practical things we can do to face the challenges of economic lack?

If you are facing serious economic struggles, consider a few things that can make a huge difference.

  • Determine to be persistent at moving forward – that’s initiative.
  • List your goals. Write down what you want.  Talk with your close relations about what you want.
  • List your assets, skills, things you’re passionate about, things that you feel are a mission on your heart and life, training, aptitudes. What do others say you’re good at?  What new course could help you discover how to better use those assets?
  • Find a work that you love. Pursue it, even if you have to volunteer on your off hours to do it.
  • Find a way to help other people get what they want. This develops amazingly into opportunities and connections with other people who can open doors that you never dreamed of.  Volunteering with like-minded people can lead to all sorts of opportunities.
  • Find a way to monetize both (what you love and what others want).
  • Find a sideline home business you can believe in and a training coach you can trust to tell you the truth. Find someone who can mentor you.  Be sure you’ve checked out the success factors that avoid unnecessary risk and disappointment.  Often we get blown off course because we lack a trustworthy mentor.  But there are people out there who are waiting for you to ask them for guidance, for insight, for consultation.  Seek out those people.  And if you’re not hanging out where you can meet the kinds of people you want to mentor you, then maybe you need to change where you hang out.
  • Get good at doing something that people respect you for and generate fulfillment in you. If you are feeling that you’re making a genuine contribution into the lives of others, their appreciation will keep you motivated to keep working on improving your skills and your performance. Hang out with others with similar aptitudes and goals.  Attend events they attend.  Get engaged with seminars to learn more about the business you’re considering or you’ve decided to pursue.  Whether it’s your primary career or something you want to develop on the side, give it your best effort.
  • In today’s world, it’s imperative to diversify your skills. For most people it’s now evident that your primary career is not going to be your only source for all the needs of your life and your retirement in the future.  You have multiple interests.  Give several of them your time.  Maybe you like music, or writing, or broadcasting. So be willing to re-educate yourself as times and technologies change.
  • Never stop learning. Be open minded to new ideas.  One of the leading factors that sets highly successful people apart from the rest of the herd in society is that they are always eager to learn.  They are curious about the world around them and how to apply their efforts to make that world better, even when it involves information outside their primary career.
  • Invest in your self-improvement. Spend money on practical education as well as academic schooling.  Learn the Success Principles in the book by Jack Canfield.  It’s a classic everyone will enjoy.
  • Change your social environment if you’re not with the people who are going where you want to go. Invest effort in making new friends. Attend conferences where you can grow your skills.
  • Consider carefully the values of the pursuits you take up. Be true to yourself and your values.
  • Decide to make money your servant and develop your business in such a way to prosper others as a result of your activities. Money is just a tool to help others.
  • Determine to find allies who are as passionate as you are to reach goals together and work with them.

In today’s changing world, we all need to find the opportunities and the people who are serious about working together to reach worthwhile goals.  We have ambitious goals to help people reclaim their legacy through the discovery of truths that help them establish the five important pillars of ‘legacy’ that we’ve talked about repeatedly on this program.

If you would like to find out reliable ways to turn your economy around, you have to start with an open heart and an open mind.  Forget about negativity and cynicism.  They get you nowhere.  Reach out to learn more about how to accomplish any of the things we’ve been talking about today.  I invite you to contact me on the phone or on our website.  I’ll be glad to point you toward some solutions that could make a life-changing difference for you.  And if you’re serious about making some changes in your own future, I’ll direct you to some websites that will help you even more. Start by getting the important list I’ve prepared about the 12 success factors that your home based business must have to succeed and grow.  You will find it at this link.  Click here.

Like a lot of things in life, the teacher appears when the student is ready.

Just make sure that you know your own values and goals so that the choices you make are in harmony with them.

Be encouraged by Ephesians 2:10 that tells us that we are “created for good works.”  Let’s be sure to walk in them.

In Ephesians 4:15, as we “grow up in all things,” let’s be sure to speak the truth in love, not walking in the futility of our mind, but laying aside falsehoods (myths) while laboring with our own abilities to do what is good so we can have resources to share with those in need.

Opportunity abounds no matter how bad the economy looks. You’ve got your own economy.  Decide to use your abilities to develop it.

Remind yourself of Philippians 2:13: “God is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Philippians 1:9-10 “in love, develop real knowledge and discernment, so you can approve the things that are excellent.”

What you’ve heard today is worth learning well.  I trust it will be an investment to return an exceptional reward.