Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grace, Grace, Marelous, Grace

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast."  

Ephesians 2:8-9

I am a sinner, there I said it!  Yes it is true, I have done and will continue to do things that are sinful.  Do I dare say that too, that I will be sinful until I die.  
Yes I an a Christian.  Yes i'm saved, and yes I'm not sinless. 
How can that be?  Aren't Christians sinless?  
Well, Christians are sinless in the eyes of God only, because we believe that He sent a way to make it so.  This way is the Good News, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  
You see, we, you and I are unable to live a sinless life.  That's right everyone is a sinner, you, me and that guy looking over your shoulder to see what your reading, EVERYONE.
If you meet a Christian who say they are without sin, ask them to explan, and if they say it is because I believe in Christ.  Then ask then if they continue to sin, and doesn't that make you a sinner? 

You see there is a nasty lie going around in the Christian Church in America, that once you are saved, you are no longer a sinner.  People like Joel Osteen and Kay Arthur who teach that you are no longer a sinner, once you become a Christian.  That's right, all that bad stuff you did last week, not a sin, Jesus has your back.  It was after attending a Precepts Bible Study that I wanted to go on to get my Theology degree, (which a did in 1998) when I heard women believing and hanging onto every word Arthur was saying.  This including her statement that Christians must stop calling themselves sinners.  When disagreeing with this statement and backing it up with scripture, I was shuned and put down for my believes. 

Because of this "sinless" state of belief, people here in the US are more likely to pointout your sins, since they don't have any.  However they just skim over this in the Bible . . . How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4) Right after is verse, Jesus goes on to tell, yes to tell the religious leaders, You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (7:5) 

How is this happening?  Because it is easier to have people tell you what to think, then to think and read on your own.  At this point I have just upset most main stream Christians, but I ask you, when was the last time you spent time in the Word?  Real time spent studing without a devotional booklet with others conments, just you and the Bible, maybe Vine's or Strong's and a biblical cultural history. Do you watch FOX News more then you spend in the Word?  Do you listen to preachers on the TV or radio more then you spend time in the Word?  The Bible is God's love letter to YOU!  Have you ever got a love letter? Did you just let it sit there, have someone else tell you what your love is thinking?  Did you read it yourself and hold thoes words close to your heart?

At the end of Matthew 7 is the story of the foolish and wise men, building on poor and firm foundations, that foundation is the Word of God, the Bible.  (24) "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Jesus also warns belivers about false prophets and teachers, because He knows it it easier to follow. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (21-23) 

The most wonderful thing about Matthew 7 is this all falls under Jesus' teachings of judgment of others.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (1-2)

You see. you are a sinner, just like me and our fathers before us.  We all have been born into a fallen world and can't do anything about it. The law of the Old Testament is not something we can achieve, but rather a list of why we need Jesus.  Salvation is by the gift of Grace, a mercy, clemency, not because we are good but because we know we are not good and need some help. 

This leaves us with that question of people sinning, and what do you do?  The most important thing is to look at everything and everyone the way Jesus does, with love.  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27)  To simply put it, love God and study His Words, and share the Gospel.  There is no need to point out others sins.  (for the most part they know already) Your job is to share Christ love and acceptance and His willingness to die for each and eveyone us, so we can live.  

So I'm I a sinner, YES.  I am a sinner, saved by the Grace of God that comes from believing that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesue had to came into this world to die, to die for ME, and everyone else so that we can have a relationship with His Father.  Do I still sin?  Yes I still sin but God sent a helper in that of His Spirit, and I pray for help to overcome and cease sinning.  I also know that this will never happen here on Earth and I can only hope to grow.  
This sin that we have in our lives is that which Adam and Eve gave us, with it's roots in wanting to be god and being higher like a god.  Jesus did just the opposite when He came to Earth, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7-8)

So strive to be Christ like to reflect His image of love and humblness.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Santa Claus, The Real Man Behind the Myth.

Who Is Santa Claus?

Do you know who Santa is and if he is real or not real?

What did he look like and 
does he have a place in the lives of Christians?

The story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, (who was called, Nikolaos of Myra) was born during the third century in the village of Patara
. At the time the area was part of Greece and but todays maps place it on the southern coast of Turkey. This would make Nicholas, Turkish and from the Middle East. 

Born to wealthy parents, Nicholas was still young when they died. As a Christian, he followed Jesus' words and dedicated his life to the service others. Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors without a home.

During this time many Christians were persecuted since this was a Roman territory. With his known generosity and very public preaching of the Word, Nicholas soon found himself imprisoned by Roman edict under Diocletian.  (Dioclerianic Persecution, or the great persection was the most serve toutuer done to Christians by any of the Roman Emperors)  However things were changing in the Emperor, he was released and them called upon by the next Emperor, Constantine, to attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

Many of the stories of what he did, over time became more legend than truth.  This was due inpart to Nicholas humility and not wanting the glory for himself. This embellishing of Nicholas' life left many reformers leaving him behind during the reformation.  Although his teaching were documented in chuch records, of his great faith, this left all but one European country, Holland, with any knowledge of him. 

The legend of Nicholis continued as Sinterklass in Holland as the gift giver, which became Santa Claus. 

Although Martin Luther tried to refocus this "gift giver" legends onto Christ, the giver of life. This celebration (in German) Christkindl became over the years repronounced Kriss Kringle, just another name for Santa Claus.

So how did he get here from Europe and look like what is on a Hallmark Christmas Card? 

Like so many things in the US and Canada, the legend was carred on by the immigrants. The first celebrations can be traced to New York and settled by the Dutch from Holland. This soon was followed by other gift giving myths, such as Father Christmas from England.

It was shortly after the Revolutionary War, in 1809, Washington Irving wrote about Saint Nicholas and the Dutch custom of Sinterklass. This was part of an article on the History of New York, which included an illustration by artist Alexander Anderson.  In this drawing, it is Saint Nicholas who is giving gifts by filling the stockings of children hung by the fireplace.  It also depicts a good child getting good treats, as a bad one receaving what looks like sticks ans rocks. 

In 1822 a professor of Biblican Languages from New York wrote a poem for his own children for Christmas, A Visit From Saint Nicholas.  Clement Moore did not know that it would go on to become, The Night Before Christmas, which was published 1893 anonymously in the Troy Sentinel.  Today this is the best known story about Santa Claus.  

As more and more time went on the legend grew. taking on it's own North American flavor.  Thomas Nast a cartoonist and writer for Harper's Weekly, during the time of the American Civil War, added his own views of Santa Claus.  It was Nast, that gave Santa a workshop at the North Pole with elves, building toys.  He also gave us the book with the naught and nice children written in it. The picture to the left is one of Nast's most famous depictions of Mr.Claus.

In 1902, L. Frank Baum the author the Wizard of OZ, also added to the Santa Claus myth.  His book was called, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.  As you can see from the cover,  Santa was not in his "Red" suit. 

At this time Santa did not always have a red suit or even the white fur trim we have come to know.  Many time he was depicted in suits of different colors, green, blue, and even purple, much like the vestments of a church leader.

Some of the Christmas Cards from Pre-World Wars reflect this.

Santa Claus just another advetising image?

No other publication influenced North American in the 20th century more then the Saturday Evening Post and it's artwork by Norman Rockwell.  It was Rockwell that started depicting Santa with more of a suit, rather then a vestment like garb.  He also gave Santa his red suit but darker then the color most associated with him today.  This was the image of Santa, white like middle America, in non-religious clothing as to not offend the Protestant or the Catholic. Simply the All-American icon of Christmas.  

How about Coca Coke?  Coke just made the icon of todays Santa stick.  Along with Rockwell's images of the All-American Santa, Coke gave him, his final tweek.  Just about the same time as Rockwell, starting in the 1930's, the Swedish painter Haddon Sundblom was hired for a Christmas advertising campaign by the Coca-Cola Company.  The Coca-Cola Company had a dress code however for Santa Claus, he was to be dressed in the official brand's colors of red-and-white. Ever since those ads started in the Saturday Evening Post, Santa's suits has been the bright red with white fur trim, same as the Coca-Cola logo. 

So Saint Nicholas was a real Christian leader in the 3rd century. He came from what is today, Turkey and most likely had dark skin.  He gave to the poor and homeless, spreeding the Gospel.  

I think it is time to take back the real Nicholas and act as him, a reflection of Christ's goodness and mercy.  At this time of the year, Christmas, (that is another story for another time) why don't we reflect Christ into this World. Be like Nicholas, give without reward or notoriety, not expecting anything in return for yourself.  

Friday, December 13, 2013



While the TV media has you fighting the "WAR" on Christmas, by saying Merry Christmas, millions of US residents are homeless, foodless, and hopeless. Just don't say Merry Christmas, make it a Merry Christmas, by providing the basics of human life. While you have been caught up with telling people Merry Christmas, they are far from merry and can not see the face of Christ. Christ was homeless, despised but gave His all. We are to follow and reflect His image to the world, not by sitting back and repeating with a few platitudes, but by being His hands and feet.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:1

Most of your life you have hear, "he who is without sin, cast the first stone.", which is an important part of this event.  However the main ideal of this passage, are the actions and responses of Jesus to sin.

You see the ONLY being to judge in the matter of sin, is God.  Jesus being fully God and fully human, has this ability. In which, He does with the women. Does He react as the Pharisees and kills her?  NO, He tells her, "I DO NOT CONDEMN YOU".  You see Jesus, God, wants ALL of humankind to be saved.  
Take a look and the grammar, (this is also true in the Greek). Jesus did not tell the women, leave your life of sin and then I will not condemn you.  He tell the women, I do not condemn you, I love you and I will help you to clean up your act.  

This is where the stone throwing comes in, many of you, as myself, were adults when you,"followed Christ".  It is easier for you to see this illustration, because you are not the same person you were then, and you know that the trip and education is not over until you take your last breath. This is sometimes harder when you have been raised in a Christian home and you asked Jesus to come into your life at 6 years old. But remember that faith is a growing, changing thing. Salvation does not stop or end on the day we choose to walk with Jesus, it is only the begining of the journey.
If Jesus asked you to clean up your act before following Him, how many of you would be Christian?  Kid believers, He was working in your lives as well, changing you.  He,(Jesus) did not say, "stop wanting that new toy, then I will come into your heart". So the question remains, who many?  How many of you were able to clean up your acts, to be acceptable in front of God the Judge?

This is the sin of the garden, the sin in our lives.  It will be with us until the day we die.  Sin will keep us from loving, from growing and living. The difference is, we have a judge advocate, to help, to give us strength. But we will never be without it, and this is why we need Christ, Jesus. 

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  Romans 3

That's right, it is only through the knowledge of knowing that we are ALL sinners and the action of coming to Jesus for help, we are saved. 

Romans telles or warns us about judgment, and how it condemends us, because we condemend others.  

So before you tell someone to stop doing what they are doing, remember this, is impossible without Jesus.  It is impossible for you, it is impossible for me, it is impossible for eveyone.  

So, anyone who is without sin - - please step forward! 


Friday, December 21, 2012


Isaiah 9:2-7

 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Isaiah 7:13,14

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.