Eyewitnesses

EyewitnessWith Christmas approaching, most people are aware that the holiday exists to celebrate the day our Savior, Jesus Christ, came into the world in human form. But even with such awareness, here in the United States, it seems that many people would rather ignore the religious facet of Christmas in favor of a more generic celebration centered on the commercial aspect. They will happily take the gifts, the paid days off from work, and the meals shared with family, but they would rather not discuss the real reason we celebrate.

This is most unfortunate. When people push away the real reason for the celebration, they experience all the stress of the holiday season without understanding and benefitting from the object of the celebration which, of course, is Jesus Christ. Jesus is God, the third person of the trinity who, for a time, humbled himself by coming to earth in human form and living among us. He experienced growing up, obeying his parents, and working for his father. He resisted temptation, confronted the wrongs of the religious leaders of the day, performed miracles, taught the people, and when the time came, suffered a horrifying death that all of us, no matter where we live, would find appalling in this day and age. It’s not a myth or fairy tale; it is actual history.

So if I could tell these people just one thing as Christmas approaches, it’s this: there were eyewitnesses. Lots of them. There were people who saw, heard, and testified to the truth of the Gospel narratives. The apostle Peter writes this: “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes. And he received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious voice called down from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son, I am fully pleased with him.’ We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with him on the holy mountain.” (2Peter 1:16-18)

Notice closely what Peter is saying. First, he says “We have seen…”. He is remembering what is commonly referred to as the transfiguration (read Matthew 17:1-13) and he was there with James and John. So three eyewitnesses. And what did they see? The Bible says Jesus’ appearance changed, his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white. And then Moses and Elijah, who had long been departed from the earth, were standing next to Jesus talking with him. This is an incredible, otherwordly experience and Peter, James, and John saw this happen with their own eyes. And then God spoke from heaven and they heard his voice. The Bible recounts that Peter, James, and John were terrified by this experience as one might expect they would be.

When Jesus was crucified on the cross, there were eyewitnesses. People who stood there and watched him suffer and die. And people who watched as the Roman guards thrust a sword into his side to be sure he was really dead. And eyewitnesses who saw him buried in the cave that was later sealed and guarded by highly trained military men. And when Jesus rose from that grave and walked the earth again, there were eyewitnesses. People such as Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-17) and Thomas (John 20:24-29), and the seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee, with whom he went fishing (John 21:1-14). And the Apostle Paul tells us the risen Jesus was seen by more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), many of whom were still alive at the time he wrote his letter.

That is a lot of eyewitnesses. And it’s only a partial list of the people who saw Jesus, walked with him, listened to him, were healed by him, or otherwise interacted with him right here on earth. In any court of law, this would be overwhelming evidence that could not be denied. And we are all eyewitnesses, too. Not of Jesus Christ in the flesh, but of the existence of God. For the Bible tells us clearly: “…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)

And so I would tell anyone who would ignore the real reason we celebrate Christmas that they are willfully ignoring the facts. Jesus is real, he walked this earth, he died in our place for our sins, and he rose again. Jesus is God. The evidence is simply overwhelming.

How about you? Are you preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, or are you ignoring the evidence and choosing unbelief? The choice is yours. If you would like to know more about the evidence for Jesus Christ, please contact us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. We will be happy to help you and/or recommend resources for further information.

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Gratitude!

Give Thanks 2It’s Thanksgiving time in America. That annual time when we gather as families and friends, feast on turkey and potatoes and pies of various kinds, and celebrate all that we are thankful for. In our country, most of us have more to be thankful for than we can even begin to list. The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1Thessalonians 5:18) so in honor of this splendid holiday I wanted to share with you some of the things I am grateful for. Since an exhaustive list is beyond the allowable space, I’m going with my top five (in no particular order!).

My wife. I have discovered that Donna isn’t just an extraordinary wife, she’s an extraordinary human being. Her kindness, elegance, grace, and consideration know no limits and she’s well-read, intelligent, thoughtful, engaging, and fun. We have so much in common that we easily find things to do together and spend as much time with one another as we can. On many occasions she has demonstrated her outstanding character and her loving demeanor, not just with me but with everyone she encounters. She is accepting of others, finds the best in people, and is always there when I need her. She isn’t just my wife, she’s my best friend.

My parents. My mother and father are both still alive and have been married for more than 65 years. I learned so much from my parents. I actually have good manners and can hold my own in virtually any social situation – thanks, Mom! She taught me all kinds of social graces and the kind of respect for others that most of us want our children to have. My dad loves my mom and loves our family and is the finest example of a man I will ever know. As a teen I freely admit I was a difficult child, and I really didn’t get much better until about age 30, but my mom and dad never gave up on me and were always there for me. My mom and dad are amazing people!

My job. Two and a half years ago I was feeling dejected and wondering if I had outlived my time. Then I got this job. It is the perfect job for me as I have the privilege of being a mentor to several younger coworkers and I have influence at all levels of the company. Rather than being at the end of my usefulness, I find myself working on what I think may be the signature accomplishments of my career. I work with very talented people that help me learn and grow and make each workday as enjoyable as a work day can be. Many of them are more than coworkers, they are friends.

Our church. Cornerstone has become everything Donna and I hoped for in a church. We wanted a smaller church where we could be involved and connect with others. We are now part of a thriving small group with some very friendly people. We have a Wednesday evening Bible study we attend weekly and I am attending the men’s early morning Bible study as well where I am being challenged to read and pray through the Psalms in a way I never experienced before. Cornerstone has become the perfect place to worship our Lord and Savior and to grow in Christ-likeness.

This blog. When Donna and I started Reign Drops, it was certainly a simple beginning. I’m not sure more than 10 or 15 people, mostly friends, ever read those first few posts. As much as we tried to promote our writing, growth in our audience seemed to come slowly. My how things change. According to the statistics on our host site, we have now been read in the following countries: Brazil, Italy, India, Canada, Spain, Australia, Portugal, Malaysia, France, Germany, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Peru, Ireland, England, Algeria, Russia, Greece, Argentina, Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, and Pakistan. We prayed God would use our writing to help advance His kingdom, and it seems we are now an international ministry! Donna and I love to write and we’re able to use that love to serve God so I am very thankful to have this blog.

It is written in 1Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Without a doubt, my list could go on and on. I am blessed beyond anything I could ever have a right to hope for and I praise God for all my blessings. How about you? Have you been working on a gratitude list this year? Is now the right time to tell God how thankful you are?

Donna and I would like to wish you and your family a blessed and happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of our hearts. And we thank you for reading Reign Drops Blog. We’re grateful for each and every one of you! God bless.

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An Act of Terror

il_570xN.869446688_kgq5The attacks last Friday in Paris have brought to immediate attention the threat that terrorism represents in the world today. And it has brought about a large scale showing of support and sympathy for the victims and their families. Facebook is full of altered profile photos in honor of the victims. Collectively, this act of terror has gotten our attention.

Without a doubt we could engage in a lengthy discussion about the best way to respond to the attacks in France, and many of us probably could say we support or understand the French military response and some of us might argue against it. It is only natural that there are many viewpoints, and solid defenses for each, yet few of us would profess to have all the answers. One things seems certain, though, we all must remain vigilant.

These most recent attacks have certainly gotten my attention and, frankly, I’m angry about them. And I’m concerned that these types of attacks will continue and that we will see such violence much closer to home in the near future. It seems we have little control to prevent such things from happening and I often feel less than confident that our government is going about prevention the way they should. I certainly am not smart enough to have all the right answers, but I sure expect those charged with our safety to be using every available means to protect us.

I guess it’s pretty natural to feel a certain level of uncertainty in the face of this kind of heinous act. My hope in all of this is that each of us is becoming more and more certain about the evil that exists in this world. The Bible is and always has been quite clear about the fallen state of man and the nature of evil, but if you haven’t believed this before, I hope you are believing it now. Peter wrote these words: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8)

The Bible actually tells us quite a bit about the powers of evil. I think we do well to pay close attention. For example, Paul taught us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2Corinthians 11:14). Evil is not always obvious at first sight and we have to use discernment to assure we do not succumb to one who may seem good on the surface but has evil in the heart. Revelation 12:9 tells us that Satan leads the world astray and from Ephesians 6:12 we know: “…we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Indeed, these acts of terror are perpetrated by men, but these men who commit them are under the influence of evil. Pure, vile, unrestrained evil. Evil that is born of utter darkness and seeks to do even worse things to us. And it is when we understand the true nature of these attacks that we best can understand that reality. And with this understanding we come to know that the true answer lies in only one person, Jesus Christ.

Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The reality is this: if these men who commit these acts of evil would learn the truth about Jesus and repent and come to faith in Him, they would simply stop committing these acts. As it stands today, they generally are brought up in isolation from the Gospel message and are taught that the Lord’s people are the enemy. Isn’t this exactly the message we would expect Satan to place in their heads? But Christians – true Christ followers – do not commit acts of terror and that is a fact as certain as the Earth’s rotation. So the answer to prevention starts with Jesus and the Gospel message.

Likewise, the future for each of us also rests in the Gospel message. For when we have repented and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, evil has no hold on us. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:55-56).

And Jesus told us, very directly, “Do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 10:26-28a). When our lives belong to Jesus, we need not fear anyone or anything.

So let us start dealing with terrorism from a place of faith in Christ. And let our first step in combating terrorism be the sharing of our faith. My prayer is that you will always walk in the grace and blessing of the One who died that you might have eternal life.

A Look In The Mirror

20150703_153631 Nobody will ever mistake me for a big Michael Jackson fan, but I cannot argue with his logic in these verses from his song Man in the Mirror:

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer; if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

And so this week an honest look at myself and something I learned about myself over the last week.

For a little background, I am currently reading the book Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice. In chapter 3, Tice discusses why Christians do not do evangelism more. In the course of his treatise, he challenges us to see if we have any idols in our lives…..basically things that get more of our attention than God. Things that maybe prevent us from evangelism.

Now at the same time as I am reading this book, I began to have transmission problems with my Jeep. The problem was pretty serious and rapidly getting worse. Something had to be done. While my Jeep was hardly a practical vehicle considering the length of my daily commute, I was quite attached to it. I had just invested in new tires and other maintenance to have it winter ready. I did not welcome the transmission problems at all.

Ultimately, it seemed best to move on to another, more reliable and fuel efficient vehicle. This led to a chaotic cavalcade of car buying activity the details of which I will spare you. The important point is the extent to which this situation ultimately consumed me. And when I say consumed me, I mean there were sleepless nights, and long periods during which I thought of little else. And I mourned the loss of my Jeep. It might be normal for someone to miss their old vehicle, but do others actually mourn? Is this normal?

So in light of Rico Tice’s challenge as to whether or not I have idols in my life, I will confess here and now that my idol has been cars. After all, when is the last time I became that obsessed with doing God’s work or with reading His Word? While there is nothing wrong with being a car enthusiast, when the hobby takes on central importance in one’s life, it has become an idol. And when you get part of your identity from what you drive, well, I think the idolatry is obvious.

The events of this week drove home the reality of the idolatry that was taking place in my life. And I have been praying in repentance and faith for God to help me remove this from my being. It is actually a bit of a fearful road for me to go down. I am starting to take steps to refocus my attention on God and His purpose for my life but cars have been so excessively important to me for the last 40 or so years that I find some habits are rather difficult to break. For example, I have subscribed to a certain car magazine for more than 30 years, but reading it only seems to foster “car envy” so now I am trying to focus my reading more on the Christian periodicals I receive instead.

I want to make this world a better place by sharing Christ with as many people as I can. I believe strongly that is the best contribution I can make. To do this, the first thing I need to change is me and all those things about me that are preventing me from having Jesus at the center of my life. So, in the words of Michael Jackson, I’m starting with the man in the mirror and I’m opening myself to change so that I may fulfill God’s purpose for my life.

As the Psalmist wrote: “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands.” (Psalm 119:59-60) For me it just has to be God first!

So how about you? Is there anything in your life that is taking up too much of your time and/or attention? Is there something that is keeping Christ from being the center of your life? What changes might He be prompting in you?

To learn more about Rico Tice’s book, please click here.

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.