Restoring The Past – III

July 31, 2017

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Joel 2:21, 25, 26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I want to share with you another instance of God’s miraculous healing of past wounds through our involvement at Patterson Grove, the old Methodist campmeeting where we have a cottage.  The featured Scripture again is Joel 2:21, 25, and 26:

      Fear not…be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! 
      …I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the
      crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust….And you
      shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your
      God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be
      put to shame.

A long time ago, the locust had eaten my teenage years!  Because I had no father in the family since age ten, I ran wild – my mother having just enough energy to hold down a factory job, and not much more to corral three teenage boys!  The opinion among many of my mother’s acquaintances who the family situation was this:  “Those Norton boys will never amount to anything! ”  I bought into that thinking, and lived it out!  Hence, I had little self-confidence!  In high school I gravitated toward theout crowdwhile longing to be part of thein crowd’ – the popular classmates whose ease of interaction with one another I envied.  I drank a lot, and – as I remember it – I was drunk as much as I was sober!  I never even had the confidence to date any young ladies from my school.  I chose to date those girls who ran with my raucous friends!  I lost my teen years – I thought never to be reclaimed again!

At Patterson Grove in 1988 they asked me to be the senior high youth leader.  I took the job for the fifteen days of campmeeting, and did the best I could.  I was youth leader again in 1990.  For the next eight years I was involved as camp pastor at our Baptist camp 30 miles south of where I was the minister of a church.  Then in 1999, those who were in charge of planning the camp-meeting again asked me to be senior high youth leader.  I was 53 years old!  I said to them, “You’re getting desperate! ”  They replied, “Well, you did a good job several years ago, and we need a youth leader.”  I accepted!

That campmeeting of 1999 we had 56 teenagers!  Most of them were there with their families who owned cottages.  Some were locals who showed up every day.  So I did not have almost three-score teens 24/7!  I fell in love with those teens, and they loved and respected me!  I worked hard putting together interesting Bible studies, teaching them about Jesus as only Savior and Lord.  I also held interesting and fun ‘extra curricular activities’ – designing some myself, like a treasure hunt that led the teams to clues all over the five acres of Patterson Grove.  Toward the end of the fifteen days of camp- meeting we painted a mural on the wall of the youth pavilion.  Then the teens signed all their names on the right side of the mural.  Some of the youth got together and painted three words among all the names:  “We love Chip!  Eighteen years later, I sometimes go into the pavilion to read those three words, and remember what I call ‘The magic summer’!

Why was thatThe magic summer?  On the way home after campmeeting, I realized that God had done what is written in Joel 2:  “…I will restore to you the years that the…locust has eaten….”  Somehow the Lord had reached back and healed the emptiness of my own teenage years!  I no longer had – or have – that hole in my life! How did God do it?  How did He reach back and heal brokenness almost four decades old?  I don’t know!  All I know is that He did it!

They say ‘time’ is a man-made conception.  God is there (here) in the past, and future, as well as the present!  Didn’t He tell Moses in Exodus 3:14 and 15:

      I AM WHO I AM….Thus you shall say to the children of Israel:  “The
      LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
      the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.  This is My name forever, and this
      is My memorial to all generations.”

Jesus quoted this passage from Exodus in Matthew 22:31 and 32, in His argument against the belief of the Sadducees that there is no afterlife and no resurrection of the dead:

      But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was
      spoken to you by God, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
      and the God of Jacob”?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

In his commentary, Through the Bible Day by Day, F. B. Meyer wrote:

      The great I AM would never have spoken of Himself as the God of the patri-
      archs, centuries after their earthly career had closed, unless they had been
      living somewhere still.  It was certain that they were all alive; otherwise God
      would have said, “I was their God.” (emphasis mine).

So God’s healing power was (is) present almost 40 years ago.  He reached back, healed the emptiness, and applied it to my life decades later through my interaction with that wonderful youth group at Patterson Grove!  Surely He has fulfilled verse 26 of our featured Scripture:  “…you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.

Restoring The Past – II

July 28, 2017

Image result for photo restorationJoel 2:21, 25, 26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Patterson Grove has been the place where God has done much healing in my life.  We own one of 110 cottages at the grove, and have been an active part of that place since 1982.  I want to share some of the divine healing that has taken place there.  And the featured Scripture that represents that healing power is Joel 2:21, 25, and 26:

      Fear not…be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! 
      …I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the
      crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust….And you
      shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your
      God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be
      put to shame.

In the last blog I shared how my life fell apart when we had to sell the family dairy farm in Connecticut after my father left the family in 1956.  I was ten years old.  I did not understand for many years how rootless I had become!  I loved that farm and now it was gone!  I shoved the pain and disappointments deep down inside to where I would not feel them, and medicated myself with alcohol.  I lived through my teenage years with little purpose and direction – rootless!  The rootlessness was compounded by my becoming a Baptist pastor.  The first five churches I pastored all provided adequate parsonages, but Hope and I desired to own our own home – to put down roots somewhere!

I was 36 years old when we stumbled upon Patterson Grove.  One of my hobbies is treasure hunting with a metal detector, unearthing the past!  If I find an old coin, say an Indian Head cent, it is as if I am reaching back across the years and was touching the hand of the boy or girl who lost it a hundred years ago!  In my treasure hunting research I came across Patterson Grove, an old Methodist campmeeting dating back to 1868!  I told Hope, “Wow!  We ought to check this place out! ”  On Labor Day Monday, 1982 we headed 45 miles south and found the grove, nestled among the trees and farmlands, looking much like it did at the turn of the 19th century.  I, being a nostalgic person, fell in love with the place!  Receiving permission, we walked among the 110 cottages and found one for sale.  Its Victorian style suggested it was built in the 1890’s – after the big fire that destroyed all the cottages in 1893.  The asking price on the ‘For Sale’ sign was $5,500 – way out of our range!  But I called the owners anyway, talking to the husband on the phone, and found they had lowered the price a thousand dollars.  I said to him that we didn’t have that much money.  He replied, “Make and offer.”  I told him, “I am embarrassed to tell you what we can afford.  It is $2,500! ”  He spoke briefly with his wife and then told me, “We will sell it to you for $3,500! ”  I confessed, “All we have it $2,500 – and that includes our Christmas Club money! ”  He again conferred with his wife, and they invited us to meet with them the next week for dinner.  After dinner we sat in the living room.  The husband told us, “We have prayed about it, and we both agree you two should have our cottage.  We will sell it to you for $2,500!

In the attached photo  above (from an early 1900’s postcard), our first cottage is the one on the right.

Yes, it required a lot of work!  I studded out the walls on the inside, insulated it, and paneled the walls and ceiling downstairs and up with knotty pine lumber from a local mill.  I installed a kitchen – bought second hand from someone in our church who was remodeling – and a new toilet, sink, and shower.  But here is the healing part concerning our cottage at Patterson Grove:  I could drive a nail, cut a board, do major remodeling – without first clearing it with the church Trustee Board!  This cottage was mine – was Hope’s and mine!  And at last we owned our own ‘house’!  I was no longer rootless!  God had healed something that had been broken within me when our family lost the farm – 26 years before!

Since then the Lord has allowed us to buy our own home where we now live.  This was another miracle He worked out, giving the house to us at about one fourth of its value!  I had always had the desire to build my own house, and I rebuilt our present home from the foundation up!  Then I added a three-car attached garage with an apartment above it.  After that I added two more garage bays with storage above them.  Every guy needs a five-car garage!  My wife calls it my ‘barn’!  My daughter says, “It’s a garage with an attached house!”  Somebody in our tiny hamlet of 44 houses nicknamed it, “The mansion! ”  It is far from amansion,but it is ours – another of God’s gifts to us!

I am fulfilled!  God has applied these verses from Joel 2 to Hope and me:

      Fear not…be glad and rejoice…I will restore to you the years that the…
      locust has eaten….you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the
      name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you….

But that is not the only miracle He has done in my life through our involvement at Patterson Grove…!

Restoring The Past – I

July 26, 2017

Image result for Photo Locust Invasion

Joel 2:21, 25, 26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In Monday’s blog I introduced you to Patterson Grove, a United Methodist campmeeting whose roots go back almost 200 years!  It moved to its present location in 1868, north of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, in the Endless Mountains.  My wife and I bought a cottage in 1982, one of 110 in the grove, and we have been an active part of Patterson Grove ever since.

In the next blogs, while the 149th campmeeting is being held, I would like to share the great work God has done in my life through our involvement in this wonderful place!  The Scripture that comes to my mind that best describes God’s hand in this is Joel 2:21, 25, and 26:

      Fear not…be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! 
      …I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the
      crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust….And you
      shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your
      God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be
      put to shame.

Most conservative Bible scholars date the book of Joel to the latter part of the ninth century BC.  Judgment had come to the southern kingdom of Judah in the form of a great locust invasion.  Within a matter of hours, these insects stripped every green thing growing in the land!  As catastrophic as this invasion was, the prophet points to a greater invasion at the end of days that will all but destroy Judah!  But with the warning comes a promise of great blessing!  God will so bless the Jews that the tribulation through which they were to pass will all but be forgotten and erased!    “I will restore to you the years that the…locust has eaten….” (Joel 2:25).

When I was ten years old my life fell apart!  I grew up on a dairy farm in northwestern Connecticut – 208 acres of fields, rocky meadows, woods, and streams.  I loved that place – the land, the animals, the barns, the house, even the long and hard hours of work – and all I dreamed about was to grow up and take over that family farm!  But in the fall of 1956, my father left the family for another woman.  He also left us deeply in debt, having illegally double-mortgaged the farm.  My mother, who was in poor health, could not keep up with all the work, and we three boys – ages 10, 12, and 14 – were too young to help manage all the problems.  So my mother sold the farm in the spring of 1957, and we moved to the other side of town.

I can’t remember any feelings I must have had through all this.  For the longest time I thought that all that took place could not really have bothered me that much.  But 25 years later – and with the help of a psychologist – I learned that it was so painful, I just pushed the thoughts and emotions way down inside of me as a way to protect myself from misery!  To ‘help’ I started to medicate myself with alcohol – taking my first drink at age twelve!  By the time I was fifteen, I was an alcoholic!  Mom had taken a job in a transformer factory, earning $1.00 an hour!  With eight hours overtime (all that was allowed by law for women at the time), her take-home pay was just under $50 a week!  She had little energy left after work, so we three boys ran wild!  I got into trouble at school, at home, and with the police!

At age 19, God reached out and caught me!  I was in the Air Force stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, training for radar repair.  Because a friend had converted to Roman Catholicism, I also decided to pursue that route, since I had little in the way of a religious upbringing.  At the same time I started reading my Air Force-issue New Testament.  I discovered three things:

•      Jesus Christ was real!

                •      He was alive!

                                  •      He loved Me!

                                                       …and I fell head over heels in love with Him!

I met my wife Hope just seven weeks before I was discharged.  We married six days after!  She, being a strong Christian, helped me to grow in my faith!  Hope spent her teen years as a PK (pastor’s kid).  Her dad had become a pastor when she was about 13.  When we married, she told me, “You can be anything you want to be.  Just don’t be a pastor! ”  She didn’t want to subject herself and any children we might have to the fish bowl life of a pastor’s family!

I began my college education in pre-engineering.  But I soon lost interest.  I floundered as I tried to think of the career I should pursue.  As I moped around, Hope said to me one day, “What’s wrong with being a pastor? ”  After I got up off the floor, I thought and prayed about it.  I shared with the pastor of the Baptist church that we were attending that I was seriously thinking about training to be a minister.  Pastor John looked at me across the desk in his office and said, “If you can do anything else except be a pastor, do it! ”  That startled me – until I realized just what he was saying:  If I could not do anything but be a pastor – if God’s calling was that strong in my life – then, and only then, do it!

I applied to become a student at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.  Even before I was accepted, so sure were Hope and I about our calling, that we moved to the Scranton area to start pastoral training in the fall of 1970!

But something was missing…actually more than one thing!  The locust had eaten, and my years needed to be restored!

I will tell you what happened by God’s miraculous intervention in the next blogs.


July 24, 2017

Psalm 95:1-3, 6-8

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Yesterday was the start of an annual religious tradition that goes back in America over 200 years!  Sunday services began a fifteen day Campmeeting at Patterson Grove, and old Methodist camp in north-eastern Pennsylvania whose history dates back to the early 1800’s.  At the present location of the old Headley sugar maple grove – renamed Patterson Grove – the first campmeeting began in 1868.  Next year we will celebrate 150 years at this hallowed place!  In 1893 the grove burned to the ground – around 300 cottages!  But starting the next spring, the faithful folks began to rebuild.  Many of the grove’s current 110 cottages date from the 1890’s!  The cottages follow a basic ‘cottage plan’ – twelve by twenty-four feet, two floors, with front and back porches.  A few are a bit larger.  Because the grove sets on an ancient lake bed, the sandy and rocky ground supports many septic systems, so each cottage has its own bathroom and kitchen facilities. Four deep wells supply the water. There is also a large boarding/dining hall, and the Centenial Shop were many bargains can be found!

My wife Hope and I discovered Patterson Grove 35 years ago.  By God’s leading, we bought our first cottage.  It required a lot of work, but I am handy, and I insulated it and put in a new bathroom and kitchen.  We have bought, repaired and sold three other cottages over the years.  Six years ago, we bought our present cottage, twelve by thirty feet, and built around 1930.  It has a full kitchen, a bath and a half, two bedrooms, and a storage closet.  It also came with a two-carriage garage on the other side of the grove.  The cottage is insulated and heated with electic – very comfortable!

I searched for a Scripture that would represent Campmeeting (the theme of this blog), and came up with Psalm 95:1 through 3, and 6 through 8:

      Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of
      our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us
      shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the LORD is the great God, and
      the great King above all gods….Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
      let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are
      the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.  Today, if you will
      hear His voice; do not harden you hearts….

It was this idea of gathering together for preaching, teaching, and fellowship that resulted in the early campmeetings – the first attributed to the Cane Ridge, Kentucky Campmeeting in August of 1801!  From there, the practice of campmeetings caught on, and by 1820, according to The Asbury Journal of Asbury Theological Seminary, 500 campmeetings were being held by Methodists across the country!  By 1900 there were thousands!  Many, many thousands of people have found Christ or recommitted their lives to Him through the years by attending campmeetings!  Today there are relatively few active campmeetings left, Patterson Grove being one of them.  A hundred years ago there were up to 10,000 people on our grove during campmeeting, with three services going on at the same time!  Today, on a well-attended weekend, up to 400 people fill the old open-sided tabernacle to hear Bible preaching – still a glorious experience!

The Grove sponsors a large and well-planned Vacation Bible School for the two weeks of campmeeting.  There are also High School and Junior High youth groups, a Bible study for adults, and other events!  I was the Senior High Youth leader for ten years.  We had 56 teenagers in our group one year!  Thank God I was not in charge of them 24/7!  The families of many had their own cottages, and some were local youth.  I retired from being youth leader at age 62!  Now Hope and I bring our grandchildren and great-grandson!

The land upon which Patterson Grove sits was donated by Colonel Samuel F. Headley.  He “…was a well-known lawyer, land-owner, and businessman…and…an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” (Patterson Grove Centennial book, 1868-1968, p.8).  When he presented the deed of trust, he told the gathered people:

      …I…pray…that this place may be ever watered by the due (dew) of heaven
      — that its beauty may remain and that our Children and our Children’s
      Children to the latest period of time may meet upon this consecrated spot,
      and bow, with humility and in prayer and praise truly worship our Father
      and our God, and receive from Him “the fulness of the blessing of the
      Gospel of Christ.” (Ibid, p. 9).

The first line of Colonel Headley’s speech is reproduced on a the top horizontal boards of a fence at the grove – a reminder of the eternal purpose of Patterson Grove!

I will write more of my experiences at Patterson Grove over the 35 years that we have there been involved.

The Rock – Under, On, In – II

July 21, 2017

Image result for Photo split rock

Luke 20:17, 18

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here is our featured Scripture – Luke 20:17 and 18:

      “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”
      Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will
      grind him to powder.

I showed in the last blog that Jesus is the Rock! (See Isaiah 28:16; I Peter 2:6; Ephesians 2:19-22; I Corinthians 3:11). And to be crushed Under The Rock is to experience the final judgment of the unsaved – to be cast into…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second [eternal] death.” (Revelation 21:8). But that is not the only option in Luke 20:18! We can also be On The Rock – and the choice is ours!

You see, Whoever falls on that stone is not an accident that happens, it is a deliberate choice! It means “I choose to be broken on the stone, the Rock, Jesus Christ!Broken – that is what usually happens when something fragile meets a stone! And we are in many ways very fragile! We are told in…

•      …Psalm 103:13 through 16 – “…the LORD…knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

•      …James 4:14 – “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

And we need to be broken! Why? Because our very nature – inherited from our ancestors (see Romans 5:12) – is a sin nature, in rebellion against God! (See Romans 3:10-18; 8:7; Colossians 1:21). We need to be broken so God can remold us into the image of Christ! (See Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10). So, cast yourself upon the Rock Christ Jesus and be broken! Come to the foot of the cross and confess you are a sinner in need of the only Savior! As the Lord said in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.

But, according to the title of these two blogs – The Rock – Under, On, In – we have yet to explore the In part. Luke 20:17 and 18 does not explain this, so we will consider John 1:12 and 13:

      But as many as received Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], to them He gave the
      right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name:
      who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
      man, but of God.

I chose this Scripture because of how it reads in the original Greek. The preposition in (who believe in His name) in the Greek is εἰς (pronounced ice). It actually means into. So the above Scripture could read, “…to those who believe into His name…He gave the right to become the children of God….It is far more than a mental assent that Jesus Christ is the Savior! It is putting yourself into Him – committing whole-heartedly to His promise to rescue you from hell (see Psalm 116:8; John 5:24; Colossians 1:12-14; James 5:20), cleanse you from sin (see Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 1:18; Colossians 2:13), begin the transformation into His image (see I Corinthians 3:18), and give you eternal life (see I John 5:11-13)! This being In The Rock is prefigured in Exodus 33:18-33:

      And…[Moses] said [to God] “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He [God]
      said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the
      name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,
      and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said,
      “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.” And the LORD
      said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be,
      while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will
      cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and
      you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

We are told in I Timothy 6:15 and 16: “…the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords…alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see….God is so glorious that to see Himhead-onwould instantly kill mortal man! That’s why Jesus came as a human being. Our mortality would not be destroyed by looking upon Him. But, as Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). So to save Moses from destruction, God hid him in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand ! We are hidden in (into) Jesus, and so are saved from the destruction of judgment that results in eternal damnation!

One more point: The rock in which Moses was hidden was cleft, or split! That was why Moses could enter the rock and be hidden! Jesus is the Rock! And He was certainly cleft for us! It says in Isaiah 52:14 (Easy-to-Read Version): “It is true that many were shocked when they saw Him. He was beaten so badly that He no longer looked like a man.” We could say, He was split open by the beatings, the whipping, the crucifixion He took in our place – so much so that we can enter the cleft in Himself that He underwent for us, and we are saved from destruction!

In 1890 the blind teacher Fanny Crosby wrote the hymn “He Hideth My Soul”. The refrain captures beautifully the truth of Moses’ experience before the glory of God, and our experience when we, by faith, enter the eternal safety of Jesus Christ:

                         He hideth my soul in cleft of the rock
                                 That shadows a dry thirsty land.
                         He hideth my life in the depth of His love,
                                  And covers me there with His hand.

Be sure you are In The Rock Christ Jesus!

The Rock – Under, On, In – I

July 19, 2017

Image result for Photo big rock

Luke 20:17, 18

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Our featured Scripture for this blog is Luke 20:17 and 18:

      “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” 
      Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will
      grind him to powder.

In the first part of this Scripture, verse 17, Jesus was quoting Psalm 118:22, which is translated word for word from the Old to the New Testaments.  Now, a cornerstone, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, is “…a stone laid at the corner of a building…at a ceremony formally beginning the erection of a building.”  It also means, “…the basic or main part; foundation.

•      Both definitions apply to the Lord Jesus Christ!  We are told in…

      ✞      …Isaiah 28:16 (Contemporary English Version) – “…the LORD says, “I’m laying a firm foundation for the city of Zion.  It’s a valuable cornerstone proven to be trustworthy; no one who trusts it will ever be disappointed.”  This is a prophecy concerning the coming Messiah! (See also I Peter 2:6).

      ✞      …in Ephesians 2:19 through 22, Paul is writing concerning the Gentiles (the non-Jews):

      …you are…members of the household of God, having been built on
      the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
      being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined
      together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are
      being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

      ✞      …I Corinthians 3:11 – “…no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

•      It also says in I Corinthians 10:4 concerning the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the desert, and God’s care for them:  “…and they all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Having established that Christ is the Rock, the Cornerstone – the chief stone of the whole structure – Let’s go on to see what happens if anyone find themselves Under The Rock!

•      Our featured Scripture warns us that should the Rock be on top of a person,… it will grind him to powder.”  What does this mean?  To have the Rock fall on a person means that one is eternally experiencing the judgment, the condemnation of Jesus Christ!

      ✞      He came the first time as Savior!  For He Himself said in Luke 19:10, “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  He came “…to call…sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32).

      ✞      But, we are warned that the second time Jesus Christ comes to earth, He will come as Judge! (See Acts 10:42; II Timothy 4:1; John 5:22, 27; II Peter 2:9).  In John 3:36 we read:  “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  Such wrath of God results in the judgment of God!  And the judgment of God is as described in Revelation 21:8:  “…the…unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  This is eternal death, according to Revelation 19:3 and 20:10.  So it is a fitting analogy that those Under The Rock will be ground to powder!

•      There is one more mention of Under The Rock that is actually related to the first.  It happens during the time of great judgment upon the earth – the Great Tribulation (see Matthew 24:21) – just as the Lord Jesus is…coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him.”  This ‘one more mention’ is found in Revelation 6:15 through 17:

      And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders,
      the mighty men, every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and
      the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains, “Fall on us and
      hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath
      of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able
      to stand?”

Can you imagine being so frightened of coming judgment that you would rather be crushed to death by a mountain of rocks?  The problem is that even being so crushed will not facilitate your escape from judgment!  You are created to be eternal!  And your soul will survive forever – even if your body is destroyed!  So, no matter how a person tries to escape, it stands true what is written in Hebrews 9:27:  “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…!

Be sure you are in the Rock Christ Jesus, hidden in Him by His grace from judgment!  We will discuss being In The Rock in Friday’s blog.

Fearing The Enemy

July 17, 2017

Image result for Photo being free

Hebrews 2:14, 15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The other day I received a phone call from a woman in my home church.  I say ‘home church’ because I am in different churches almost every Sunday, preaching when and where needed.  But back to this dear woman:  She is about 80, elegant, dignified, and I have known her to be a strong Christian, having been her pastor for almost twelve years when I pastored that Baptist church we now call ‘home’.  She called me, and we talked for about an hour.  She was in tears more than once during that conversation.  She was suffering from some age-related physical problems – pain in her back, etc.  But the main things impinging on her life were anxiety, panic attacks, sleeplessness, and fear of death!  Because of her reserved manner, I had little idea of her inner struggles before that hour-long phone call!  I told her, “I have my doctorate, so technically, I am a doctor.  I am going to give you a prescription that I recommend you take daily – even several times a day!”  I then applied various Scriptures to those struggles that were plaguing her life, addressed each of them:

•      Physical pain

      ✞      Deuteronomy 33:25 – “As your days, so shall your strength be.”  The idea behind the Hebrew here is physical strength, mental strength, emotional strength, and spiritual strength – as needed!

      ✞      Isaiah 53:4 and 5 (Bible in Basic English) – “But it was our pain He took, and our diseases were put on Him:  while to us He seemed as one diseased, on whom God’s punishment had come.  But it was for our sins He was wounded, and for our evil doings He was crushed:  He took the punishment by which we have peace, and by His wounds we are made well.” (See also I Peter 2:24).

      ✞      Hebrews 4:15 and 16 (Literal Interpretation of the Holy Bible) – “For we do not have a high priest not being able to sympathize with our weaknesses but One having been tried in all respects according to our likeness, apart from sin.  Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for timely help.

•      Anxiety and panic attacks

      ✞      Isaiah 26:3, 4 – “You will keep him [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he [she] trusts in You.  Trust in the LORD forever:  for in…the LORD JEHOVAH [KJV] is everlasting strength.

      ✞      John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

      ✞      II Timothy 1:7 – “…God has not given to us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

•      Sleeplessness

      ✞      Psalm 3:5 – “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.

      ✞      Psalm 4:8 – “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

      ✞      Psalm 127:2 – “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.

      ✞      Matthew 11:28 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

•     But what I would especially like to highlight in this blog is the issue of fearing death!  And our featured Scripture is Hebrews 2:14 and 15:

      Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood…[Jesus]
      Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy
      him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who
      through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (See also
      II Timothty 1:10).

If you eliminate one who has the power of death over you, you take away the fear of death!  Such was the reaction of many people when Seal Team 6 took out Osama Bin Laden!  With the leader of so many terrorists dead – with the one eliminated who masterminded the 9/11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people – a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the world was now a safer place!  The problem was (and is) that terrorist organizations are vast and adaptable!  When one leader is gone, another rises to take his place!

But there is one being who possessed the power of death producing the fear of death over mankind – Satan!  And the devil was totally defeated when Jesus rose from the grave!  Yes, the evil one still is out and about and causes much stealing, killing, and destroying! (See John 10:10 – also John 8:44; I Peter 5:8, 9).  But his fate – his destruction – is sealed!  He is guaranteed to end up in…the lake of fire and brimstone…[to] be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10).  Instead of fearing death, those who put their faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ have eternal life,…and they shall never perish…” (John 10:28).  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain…” (Revelation 21:4).

Living life can produce many fears in people.  This dear lady with whom I counseled, at five years old was in the presence of a cousin when he was hit by an automobile, and his mangled body was laid on the porch near where she stood.  She told me she feared death ever since!  But our featured Scripture tells us that Jesus partook of flesh and bloodHe became totally human (except for sin – see I Peter 2:22) — and “…brought life and immortality to light…to humankind (II Timothy 1:10), by rising from the dead!

Yes, fear can hold us in bondage, such as it had for 75 years with this dear woman.  But, as it says in John 8:32, “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

One Anothering – IX

July 14, 2017

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I John 3:16-18

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We’re heading into the home stretch of One Anothering!  We’ve already covered in the first eight blogs of this series 28 of the 32 words associated with the phrase one another in the New King James New Testament.  All these words together show us how we, as Christians, should be relating to one another!  The Scripture chosen for today’s study is I John 3:16 through 18:

      By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also
      ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s
      goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how
      does the love of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in
      word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We are not to just say we love each other as Christians!  We are to show that love by practical caring and giving, especially in time of their need!

The final four words are as follows:

•      “…all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another…” (I Peter 3:8).  The phrase, having compassion for one another, is translated from just one Greek word, συμπαθής (pronounced soom-path-ace’).  Strong, in his Greek Dictionary gives this meaning:  “having a fellow feeling (sympathetic), that is, (by implication) mutually commiserative….”  In A Popular Commentary on the New Testament, we are told that a better word for compassion would be sympathetic.  I think an even better word would be empathetic.  According to Webster’s New World Dictionary

      ✞      …to have sympathy is to “…share…another person’s mental state, emotions, etc.:  especially pity or compassion for another’s troubles, suffering, etc.

      ✞      …to have empathy is “…the projection of one’s own personality into that of another…:  intellectual or emotional identification with another.

To be empathetic rather than sympathetic puts more of yourself into the other person’s situation!  And this is the idea behind having compassion for one another!  For, as Paul tells us in Romans 12:15 and 16:  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another.” (See I Corinthians 12:25, 26).

•      “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9).  The Greek word for hospitable is φιλόξενος (pronounced fil-ox’-en-os).  It means “fond of guests, that is, hospitable….”  Back in New Testament times, there were few public places to stay when one traveled.  So often travelers depended upon the hospitality of other private citizens.  Paul and company, having traveled to Philippi in Macedonia on the second missionary journey, found such a characteristic of being hospitable in Lydia, a new convert to Christianity, who “…begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’  And she constrained us.” (Acts 16:15).  In Romans 12:13, the apostle encourages believers to be “…given to hospitality.”  And this is what John wrote about the subject in III John 1:5 through 10 (Good News Bible):

      My dear friend, you are so faithful in the work you do for other Christians,
      even when they are strangers.  They have spoken to the church here about
      your love.  Please help them to continue their trip in a way that will please
      God.  For they set out on their trip in the service of Christ without accept-
      ing any help from unbelievers.  We Christians, then, must help these people,
      so that we may share in their work for the truth.  I wrote a short letter to the
      church; but Diotrephes, who likes to be their leader, will not pay any atten-
      tion to what I say.  When I come, then, I will bring up everything he has
      done:  the terrible things he says about us and the lies he tells!  But that is
      not enough for him; he will not receive the Christians when they come, and
      even stops those who want to receive them and tries to drive them out of the

Don’t be a DiotrephesBe hospitable to one another without grumbling!

•      “Yes, all of you be submissive to one anothery…” (I Peter 5:5).  This is the same word that is used in Ephesians 5:21:  “…submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  So as not to be redundant, please see the first word we covered in the June 30th blog, One Anothering – VI.

•      “…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7).  The Greek word for fellowship is κοινωνία (pronounced koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  It means “partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction….”  There are twodirections’ of κοινωνία that we need to discuss here, and both are found in I John 1:3:  “…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

      ✞      The first direction we will discuss is the second one mentioned – “…our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  Such fellowship between God and us was initiated by Him through Jesus paying the price for our sins on the cross! (See II Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:11-13; Colossians 1:21).  “…now…[we] who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).

      ✞      And so, as…the blood of Jesus Christ…cleanses us from all sin…we have fellowship with one another…” (I John 1:7).  We have that fellowship with one another as long as we maintain that fellowship with the Father and His Son by walking in the light (following our Lord in close obedience)!  We enter into close partnership and interaction with our Creator and with believing brothers and sisters!  But if we do not…walk in the light as He is in the light…” (I John 1:7), we will not love one another and be in fellowship with either God or man! (See I John 2:9-11; 3:10-16; 4:7-11; 4:20, 21; 5:1, 2).

So let us be careful to practice One Anothering – in all 32 related ways!

One Anothering – VIII

July 12, 2017

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Ephesians 4:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We have already covered the three words associated with one another in Ephesians 4:32.  But let’s used it again for our featured Scripture – with the two preceding verses – because this passage readily shows forth the idea of One Anothering:

      …do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for
      the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and
      evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to
      one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in
      Christ also forgave you.

Actually, the idea Paul is conveying in our Ephesians Scripture is part of a whole encompassing the entire epistle.  I have heard it said that if you want to experience revival in your own life, read Ephesians!  And if – by the time you are finished – you have not been revived, read it again…and again…and again…!

We have eight more words to examine associated with one another!  So let’s continue…

•      “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.” (James 4:11).  There are two Greek words that are translated as Do not speak evil, μή (pronounced may) and καταλαλεύτε (pronounced kat-al-al-eu-ta – second person plural present active imperative of καταλαλέω – pronounced kat-al-al-eh’-o).  According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, καταλαλέω means “to be a traducer, that is, to slander….”  And μή makes it the negative of the verb.  To speak evil of one another is tear one another down!  We are to build one another up!  Paul expands on this idea in Ephesians 4:1 through 16.  According to verse 16, the members of the Body of Christ (we together, the Church – see I Corinthians 12:27) are to “…grow…the body…edifying…itself in love.”  That’s the opposite of tearing one another down!

•      “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.” (James 5:9).  The Greek word for grumble is στενάζω (pronounced sten-ad’-zo).  According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, it means “a sigh, to groan [even in silence]….”  As with the phrase directly above, the Greek word μή makes it a negative – Do not grumble!  Another Greek word, κατά (pronounced kat-ah’) which, according to Strong, “…frequently denotes opposition, distribution or intensity…,” is translated against.  The phrase gives the idea of murmuring or even silent grumbling against one another!  Such actions and thoughts affect our relationship with one another!  How can we be one in Christ (see John 17:21) when we grumble against one another?

•      “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16).  This verse is a double one anotherconfess to and pray for!

      ✞      Confess your trespasses to one another – The Greek word for confess is ἐξομολογέω (pronounced ex-om-ol-og-eh’-o).  It means “to acknowledge or (by implication of assent) agree fully….”  In confessing, we basically fully agree with what God says about our trespass!  “I have sinned, and it is an offense against my Heavenly Father!

But Paul writes in I Timothy 2:5 that “…there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”  If He is the only Mediator (literally, go-between), why do we need to confess our trespasses to one another?  The answer is in Galatians 6:1 and 2:

      Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual
      restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you
      also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of
      Christ [which is love one another as Jesus loved us! – see John 13:34].

              ▸      Often one’s trespass is against another brother or sister in the Lord!  According to what Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:15:  “…if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”  There are three other steps to take, according to Matthew 18:16 and 17.  The point is, get any trespass against a brother or sister in the Lord straightened out, and be reconciled! (See Matthew 5:24).

              ▸      But there is another reason for confessing your trespasses to one another, even if the trespass is not directly against the person to whom you are confessing!  As Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1 and 2 (above), we, in love, are to bear one another’s burdens!  The apostle tells us in I Corinthians 12:25 and 26:

       …the members [of the Body of Christ, the Church] should have the
      same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the
      members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the mem-
      bers rejoice with it.

We should never leave another brother or sister struggling in their faith because of some trespass they have committed – whether directly against us or not!  We are to help them bear their burdens, and find forgiveness and healing!  This is truly loving one another! (See I John 3:16).

      ✞      pray for one another – The Greek word for pray is εὔχομαι (pronounced yoo’-khom-ahee), meaning “to wish; by implication to pray to God….”  Prayer is so powerful that it can result in the physical healing of a brother or sister! (See James 5:13-18).  The Lord Jesus prayed for His disciples (see Luke 22:31, 32; John 17:20-23) – and John 13:15 surely applies here:  “…I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”  Also, a great part of His present ministry is interceding [praying] for us! (See Hebrews 7:25).  No wonder we are told to pray for one another!  It is a large part of loving and caring for one another!

We will attempt to finish this series with Friday’s blog.

One Anothering – VII

July 10, 2017

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Psalm 133:1-3

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Psalm 133 is one of the shortest chapters in the Bible.  But these three verses show forth One Anothering in a great way:

      Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 
      It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the
      beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.  It is like the
      dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the
      LORD commanded the blessing — life forevermore.

First, some understanding of this psalm is required:

      ✡      Why is oil running down Aaron’s head, beard, and garments like brethren that dwell together in unity?  It refers to Aaron’s anointing to consecrate him as the first high priest of Israel! (See Exodus 40:12, 13).  Aaron represented all the Israelites before God – in a sense binding them together as one holy people!

      ✡      Why is the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion like brethren that dwell together in unity?  Mount Hermon, about 35 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee, rises 9,232 feet above sea level!  The copious amount of dew and rain upon that mountain feeds the spring of the Karst Cave, which spring then gives a yearly output of over 240 million cubic meters of water!  This is the source of the Jordan River – the main water supply for most of Israel!  The ‘dew of Hermon’ didn’t exactly decend…upon the mountains of Zion (Jerusalem – 120 miles to the south), but the benefits surely did – and it helped bring the nation of Israel together into one family!

So, Psalm 133 does promote One Anothering!  Let’s continue examining the thirty-two words associated with one another in the New Testament…

•      We will depart just a bit from our normal path of the New King James Bible to examine I Thessalonians 5:15 from the Modern King James New Testament:  “See that none gives evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all.”  The Greek word for good is ἀγαθός (pronounced ag-ath-os’).  It means literally “good (in any sense, often as noun)….”

It should be obvious – and it is important – that we do not pursue evil to anyone, but always pursue the good towards one another!  Evil comes from the evil one – the devil! (See John 17:15 – New King James and many other versions).  Pursuing evil always destroys the harmony and unity of one another!  Pursue the good and it builds one another up!

•      “…let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works….” (Hebrews 10:24).  The Greek word for consider is κατανοέω (pronounced kat-an-o-eh’-o).  Strong’s definition is, “to observe fully…”; and it is translated in the KJV as “behold, consider, discover, perceive.”  The idea is to examine closelybut not in a meddlesome way – for that is the way of a gossip!  And the Bible tells us in Proverbs 20:19 (Contemporary English Version), “Stay away from gossips – they tell everything.

So why are we supposed to be closely examining one another?  “…in order to stir up love and good works….

      ✞      Stir up love – In the Great Commandment of Mark 12:29 through 31, Jesus tells us, “…love the LORD your God with all your…heart…soul… mind, and… strength….And…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Paul further describes this commandment in Romans 13:8 through 10:

      Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves
      another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall
      not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not
      steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,”
      and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this
      saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love
      does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the

Love is so important for the Christian to manifest towards God and fellow believers that John writes in I John 4:7 and 8:  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  No wonder we are to closely examine one another in order to stir up love!

      ✞      Stir up good works – In James 2:17 we are warned,…faith by itself, if it does not have [good] works, is dead.”  Why are good works so important?  They are definitely not to procure salvation! (See Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8, 9; II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).  For salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!  Consider Ephesians 2:8 and 9 (mentioned just above):  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  But we must go on to verse 10:  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  After salvation, the Lord intends for every Christian to manifest good works in his or her life! (See Titus 3:8).  No wonder we are told to…consider one another in order to stir up…good works….

Let’s examine two more words in Hebrews 10:24 – stir up!  The King James Version translates stir up as provoke.  Other translations use move, encourage, help, motivate, incite.  The Greek word is παροξυσμός (pronounced par-ox-oos-mos’).  It means “incitement (to good), or dispute (in anger)….”  We are not to allow fellow believers to languish with no good works manifested in their Christian lives!  It is that important!

More in the next blog on Wednesday…