Three Cities Of Note…

Most of the faith community is by now deep into the Lenten Season. There are numerous writings and commentaries that address this event, for me the Bible tells it best. So…here The Rest of The Story. While the ministry of Jesus covered a great area there is a little circle of great importance to us and certainly was to Jesus, His disciples and friends and family, that somehow get lost in the torrent of words and the history involved to tell the story. These are the three cities that held a prominent place in those closing days of Jesus’ ministry. Jerusalem of course has always been at the forefront but these next two are simply mentioned as points of passing in the story. Those being Bethphage and Bethany. We start with Bethany about a mile or so from Jerusalem on the road to Jericho at the Mount of Olives and the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It had earned the name of the Judean home of Jesus as it is recorded he preferred to stay there rather than in Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and being so close to Jerusalem the word spread quickly to the Pharisees at a time when they were much disturbed by his growing influence among the people. It was here also that another event of huge import took place… The AscensionLuke 24:50,51…And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

Now as in all writings of the time there are always other opinions and in this case exact location of Bethany is no exception. What is certain to a reasonable degree is that these events brought this somewhat obscure little place into history. As we move on from Bethany here is a small tidbit as to location taken from got

“Bethany is today el `Azareyeh (“the place of Lazarus”-the L being displaced to form the article). It is a miserably untidy and tumble-down village facing East on the Southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, upon the carriage road to Jericho. A fair number of fig, almond and olive trees surround the houses. The traditional tomb of Lazarus is shown and there are some remains of medieval buildings, besides rock-cut tombs of much earlier date.”

Now  Bethphage, in Aramaic “place of young figs near the Mount of Olives and to the road from Jerusalem to Jericho; mentioned together with Bethany is about a Sabbatical distance from East of Jerusalem,(1/2 mile) and was surrounded by some kind of wall. One distinction the city has is recorded in Matthew 21:1-4 KJV

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet 

In moving on from Bethphage here is another small tidbit from Dr. Barclay thought that he had found its site on the rocky s.w. spur of Olivet, a few hundred yards s. of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is shown on Osborn’s map of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, the beginning, where the question of His divinity is answered and the world gets its first glimpse of Christianity…and the road to salvation.I was amazed at the mixture of both fact and tradition as to the “City On The Hill” one name for it, most Christians of the day know it as Jerusalem. We have spent a few words understanding the role that Bethphage and Bethany played on the road to Jerusalem, now what about Jerusalem or Zion?  Matthew 23:37 KJV  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stones them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Most folks of the faith know well the role of this city not only in the life Jesus but also in Jewish history and through the years to come it will become a location of different religions and cultures. I felt like I had opened an area of extensive history and that as a layman I was overwhelmed. So… keep it simple and to the point. Zion, a name applied to Jerusalem, or to certain parts of it, at least since the time of David. There is a suggestion in Arabicas to a visual meaning that fits it location…”ridge of a mountain” or “citadel,” which at any rate suitably applies to what we know to have been the original Zion.(Bible Atlas).  In keeping this simple there are at least five more reasons that we can accept Zion as Jerusalem. The Bible evidence that Zion originally occupied this site is clear. The also adds this… ZION, literally it was the largest southern hill of Jerusalem, but sometimes the word was used to mean the whole city. See Sion.

It has been said about a journey that it is what happens along the way that matters… Jesus knew where this journey would take him and we see in these towns so often overlooked that the Father had prepared the way for his Son. May God bless all the journeys in your life and may the paths always lead to Him.

Life is Good



The Power Lies in His Presence… Matthew 18:19,20… “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Here are two verses of scripture that many of us over the years have not fully understood. You might say we have grabbed the “wrong end of the stick”. From the KJV are the two verses:

Matthew 18:19–20 KJV Again, I tell you, that if two of you agree upon earth upon any matter for which you are praying, you will receive it from my Father who is in heaven. Where two or three are assembled together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Using various commentary there seems to be the agreement that if we take these two verses literally, without curtain qualification, there is a highly reasonable opinion that it is untrue in the largest sense of the word. We are not setting out to disprove scripture but rather to amplify the meaning, which truly adds to the promises of God and strengthens the covenant between He and his people. There have been countless times two people have come together to pray for the healing and spiritual growth of others and in a real sense it was not answered as they might have expected. Many pray desperately for the conversion of the unbelievers, the coming of the Kingdom and yet to this day those prayers have not been fully answered. One commentary even goes as far to say,“there is harm in teaching people to expect what does not happen.” We do an injustice to scripture in refusing to face the facts of the situation. When we seek to probe through prayer and the writings of past saints we find a depth of comfort and a renewal in our strength to continue our walk of faith. Consider this… If we are selfish in our prayers we will not find an answer. Add these interesting factors to that.

-we should not pray only for our own needs, selfishness is not in the character of our God

-consider this, one basic truth of unselfish prayer… it is always answered but the truth is that we will not always receive the answer we want but the answer will be that which God in his wisdom and his love knows to be best for us and all concerned. 

-we all have fears, hopes and desires and many times our prayers are for escape from difficult situations, sorrow or disappointment. Through the power of prayer and wisdom of God we are able endure those things we don’t understand or just simply overwhelm us. As an example of this Barclay writes that the best example of this is Jesus praying at Gethsemane. Jesus prayed to be released from the terrible situation that lie ahead for Him…He was not but the Father gave Him the power to meet it,  to endure and to conquer it. We must as Christians come to understand that God does answer prayers…however the answer will always be His, not necessarily ours. Jesus made a great promise, that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there in the midst of them. Two points here for us to consider.

-first the Church, it would not be wrong to say that God is just as present in a small congregation as a large mass meeting. God is just as present at meeting in a crowded arena as at a local bible study or prayer group of just a few of the faithful.The presence of God does not look first at the numbers but among those of a faithful heart, regardless of number.

-one early interpretation of these words was that the words refers to home…father, mother and child. God is there an unseen guest in every home of faith. 

It does not require a great occasion for God, every occasion where even two or three are gathered in his name is a great occasion. Prayer is truly the engine that fuels faith…

Life is Good


Purpose of Christianity…

One of the universal traits of mortals is the need to be wanted, to have a purpose, some sense of meaningful existence. I will go out on a limb here and say most civilizations throughout history have always believed that for everything there is a place and for everything a purpose. 

Proverbs 16:4 KJV

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Ephesians 2:10 KJV

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

I do believe that God has a purpose and a plan for each and everything He has created. Today we ask the question what is the purpose of Christianity? Wikipedia puts it this way, “The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.” I was amazed as I moved around the internet of the difference of opinions given in response to this basic question. Quora answers the question in this manner…The main purpose of Christianity is to bring people into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.” Can’t find anything here to disagree with. I found close to thirty definitions of the Purpose of Christianity all having in common one central point…all life begins with God and ends with God. From the time of creation until the Day of The Lord our purpose in this life is entwined with God, the creator of all life. If we define purpose we find it described as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Merriam-Webster, “The meaning of PURPOSE is something set up as an object or end to be attained.” As Christians, What is our purpose? To what end were we created, one of my favorite go to sites says simply “for His pleasure.”

Revelations 4:11…

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”

Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

To answer the question what is our purpose as Christians is also a simple answer; we owe God a life that is a living sacrifice. We do this through our tithes, offerings, gifts, time, talents, possessions and might I add “in the pew” in the Lord’s House. That my friends brings us back to the Church and the Pew.

Matthew 18:20 KJV

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I will close on this note. There is more to this simple verse in Matthew 18. Join me in the Pew next week for a little known translation of this verse.

Life is Good 


Listen To God…2nd Chronicles 35:20-27 Isaiah 55:6-13

Listen to God and inquire of His word to you. In 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 Josiah did not. While the Scripture does not condemn Josiah’s conduct in opposing Pharaoh, Josiah seems to deserve blame for not inquiring of the Lord after he was warned. It is true that the people Josiah went out to meet in battle were a wicked people but some theologists suggest Josiah’s death might have been a rebuke for his rashness. As we progress through this Lenten Season and hopefully are working toward a closer relationship with Christ may we listen carefully to God’s word. We know that Christ was without sin and His life among us was one of faith, and obedience and heeding the word of the Father. Simple lesson here is, agree or disagree with Josiah’s conduct, it would be in our best interests to Listen to what God has to say.

Consider this…Isaiah 55:6-13

In this chapter of Isaiah, the prophet writes to remind us of God’s gracious offers of pardon and peace. During this time his word is calling out to us it would be wise to heed the call…Isaiah has a warning for us… God wants to be part of our life, we must not ignore His call, there will be a day when he can’t be found.There may come such a time in this life and it is certain that at death and judgment the door will be shut. Consider this…we must repent, more than just a simple change of our ways, it must be one of our heart and mind. It could well mean that we have to alter our judgements toward people and things. Some time in the past a President, Jimmy Carter to be exact, recounted that it was not enough to put aside evil but we must also put it out of our minds. There are verses that encourage us to think of only the good things of life, put aside those things that are not Godly. I was drawn to these scriptures verses from Isaiah 55…

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.7 Let the  wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

We who have sinned and done much wrong can be assured that the God we serve can and will forgive all our sinful ways and behavior. We must heed the call to righteous living and not use His generous offer of mercy as an excuse to continue to sin. We are to be reminded that God’s thoughts concerning sin, Christ, and holiness, concerning this world, vastly differ from mans. The power of God’s forgiveness is that not only does he forgive our transgressions, He can and will forget them…we are unable to forget, a sign of our earthly personage. The power of God’s word lies in His protective love and grace for His people and is part of His very nature. The truth we find in the Word, the power of His Call produces a spiritual change in the minds of those who heed such. Will you heed the call? Will you listen to God?

Life is Good


Why Scripture? ..2nd Timothy 3:16,17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for  instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Recently during a discussion about class curriculum my position on scripture and why I preferred it over various books as a platform for Sunday School study was in all honestly a bit dogmatic. I was asked …why scripture? ….Consider this…To most Christians their conviction is that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. Keeping the definition simple scripture is the sacred writings of Christianity contained in the Christian Bible. There are many different faiths and religions in this world that contain sacred scripture, or the revered texts, of the world’s religions. Scriptures comprise a large part of the literature of the world. (Britannica) The point here is we are discussing scripture contained in the Christian Bible. First, we need to clarify some terms that are common when discussing Biblical Scripture. The word “canon” comes from the rule of law that was used to determine if a book measured up to a certain standard regarded by the Christian or Jewish community as part of the Bible. Consider this…Christianity as we know it did not start out defining God, Jesus Christ, or salvation. As I researched for this blog and tried to process all the information that was available to me, it became apparent to me that one truth stood out. Our Christian precepts of who God is, of Jesus Christ or even our salvation, can be found only in the authority of Scripture. Now that is humdinger of a statement for me, a layman to make. I write that because there is a whole world of theological truth to be understood. The truth is If we cannot identify what Scripture is, we will be hard pressed to properly distinguish any theological truth from error.  

Some other points of interest can be made just by human logic. Jude had something to say that we can take to heart… Our faith is being defined by scripture that has been given by and through God to the Saints and it is given to the benefit of all Christians. 2nd Timothy 3:16,17 confirms that. There are other things implied as well. God’s word gives us strength to function in this world, through the word we have freedom. The word of God creates and sustains life and gives us hope. There is of course the importance of hearing and reading the word, because through the word we come to receive The Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised us we would. The clear fact is that Scripture awakens and strengthens our Faith. This brings me to my final point. The repository we have been given is the Christian Bible, God’s Word, which helps us to Discern God’s character and provides us God’s revelation of himself to his people. 

What is the importance of the Bible? There are as many answers for that question as there are stars. Well, maybe I overstate that a bit. Point being the importance of the Bible is impossible to overstate. Importance is best revealed by what the Bible tells us about itself, that is all that matters. I may be repeating myself, but at my age repetition is good for retention.  The Bible is: 

-the inspired word of God

-reveals His sovereignty and power

-character and nature

-wisdom and guidance for making our way through life

-God’s word is eternal…. Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. 

I enjoy reading God’s word, studying and seeking its meaning in my life and putting it to use. There is joy in the word. I Pray that you too can find that joy and I feel blessed that I can share my joy with you.

Philippians 4:

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Life is Good


The Wisdom Of Sirach…Some Plain Talk

The Book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus is a Jewish work, originally in Hebrew, of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BCE, written by the Judahite scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira”. (Wikipedia)

One more time back to the Apocrypha, this time Sirach, The Wisdom Book. Two centuries before Christ the son of Sirach wrote this book. Simply put it is about the traditions and teachings of the sages, sort of a synthesis, that forms a combination of ideas to form a theory. He was well established and respected, a head of an important household with servants. He maintained that it was the writings of the sacred books that had taught him the secret of success. It was his intent to share what he had learned in the sacred books which he believed were the reasons for his success. At that time many Jews were attracted by the Greek culture, believing their religion was antiquated, or in today’s world…old…outdated. This man’s belief was that no other nation had a God or faith such as Israel. It was his task to present a God that inspired such faith, the faith of Israel to the world. There was no other nation with anything of wisdom superior to that of God’s people. God’s wisdom dwelled among their nation because of divine decree. The book shows us how the Law of God leads people to a much kinder way, more intelligent, and more responsible personal and social life. In some ways there are maxims that mirror scripture. Many sources believe it to have two main parts. The first being Chapters 1-42, with seven series of maxims in praise of wisdom. Chapters 43-51, praising God for the order of the universe and the wise use of God’s wisdom through the great people of the Old Testament and yes, consider these things as you read this blog. 

Taken from got :

“The book of Sirach is part of what is considered the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical scripture and appears in the Old Testament of Catholic Bible. It is considered one of the  Wisdom books. Except for some Episcopal or Lutheran Bibles, Sirach and other books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant Bibles. Sirach, also known as “Ecclesiasticus” or the Wisdom of Sirach is one of 12–15 books generally recognized as comprising the Apocrypha.”

One point to consider would be that many biblical scholars point out that Jesus never quoted any verses from the Apocrypha while it is known that He quoted often from the Old Testament books. It must be noted that Jewish Scripture never included any of these documents as sacred writings. Do not be misled, The Pews intent here is to simply widen our readers knowledge and understanding of the existence of other period writings. Please note… “It does  possess a wealth of varied expressions of wise and foolish behavior reminiscent of the book of Proverbs.” ( 

It is necessary that we note that there can be found some sound biblical doctrine within this book but there is still much more that conflicts  significantly with good Christian beliefs. This book is not part of the recognized canon of Scripture due to the fact that it is not the inspired Word of God. Many turn to this scripture to explain the view of most scholars.

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

The book makes for good reading is useful to expand our knowledge of times before Jesus came. We must not set aside the fact that the Jewish faith is interwoven with our own road to the cross and our adoption into the “The Family of God”.

Life is Good


Beyond The Word… Those Other Books

2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Back in The Pew and God’s word, well, almost. The Pew is focused each week on sharing the word of God through the writings of the Prophets who told of his coming also the Apostles who followed and spent time with him. Those saints of past times who through divine guidance have provided us with a record of His ministry. 2 Timothy provides one path of giving us a rock solid definition of Scripture as it is intended to be.There are many great writings that don’t reach that level but they can widen our understanding of the depth and width of those things of value that encourage a life of worth. Knowledge is obtainable…but Wisdom comes only through God. To go beyond the word today it will be necessary to visit some books that are disputed as to where they need to be. First off let’s put forth their family name… often referred to as the Apocrypha, meaning “hidden.” Written primarily in the time between the Old and New Testaments the following is from…

“The Wisdom of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, is one of the books of the Apocrypha. Others in the group include 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. Most of the books of the Apocrypha are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church and are included in Catholic Bibles. The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid-1500s AD, primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. None of the apocryphal books are included in the canon of Scripture.” Because of the historical and theological errors, the books, including The Wisdom of Solomon, must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God. This week we open with The Book of Wisdom, written about fifty years before the coming of Christ. We do not know who the author is but historical speculation leads to the belief it was probably a member of the Jewish community at Alexandria, in Egypt. It was written in Greek but patterned in style on the Hebrew verse. 

This author has a profound knowledge of the earlier Old Testament writings and it is reflected in almost every line of this book. It was the purpose of the author to lift up those who where of like mind and were suffering and experiencing oppression at the hands of apostate fellow Jews. These Jews had abandoned their religious beliefs and principals. His message  made use of the most popular religious themes of his time, namely the splendor and worth of divine wisdom. We will move from The Book OF Wisdom to The Letter of Jeremiah, also called the Epistle of Jeremy, is also one of the books of the Apocrypha.

What is the Letter of Jeremiah? The earliest manuscripts of the Letter of Jeremiah are in Greek. It is thought among theological scholars to have originally been written in Hebrew or Aramaic,  The point to be considered is that it is not a letter, nor is it from Jeremiah because it is thought to have  been written nearly 300 years after Jeremiah’s call to prophecy. Most of the text concerns  warnings about the idolatry they will be exposed to in Babylon and the uselessness of such things. The exiles are encouraged to   avoid such idolatry. I remind you that like all apocryphal books, this one cannot be considered to be the inspired Word of God. Consider this…To be an informed and knowledgeable follower of our Lord we must know what we believe and why. More next week.

Life is Good


Off The Soap Box…and Dancing With The Devil

A short note to start off. I was going through some older blogs and found this one that never really made it from the computer to the page. I wrote it in January of 2020. After reading it I was struck by the fact that if anything…very little had changed. Last week “The Pew” dealt with a problem that has been around for a while…so I thought I just might linger outside the pew a little longer. I could have renamed it An “Old Man’s Lament” but passed it by. Next week we will get back in the “Pew” and back to God’s word. Thanks for reading and I hope I do not offend anyone.

 Off The Soap Box…and Dancing With The Devil 

The past year has been filled with hate, distrust, lies and the prejudice of power. I see a system that has put an asterisk besides those phrases “nation under God and Liberty and Justice for all.” Justice has become subservient to power. God has become an afterthought and the definition of liberty is defined by social and cultural pressure. It would not surprise me if Webster decided to re-write that one. We are a nation divided, we are involved in a civil war but without the armies. As noted earlier we have set aside the principles of justice for the acquisition of power and reason and fact has fallen to social and cultural pressures. We find “lady wisdom” in status and celebrity, ignoring the process of reason, thought, knowledge and experience and leave “truth” to baseless accusations and selfish agendas. Our nation is a mess. I will leave it up to you how big a mess but I think we can all agree it is a mess. I assign this mess to changing values and a culture of not us but me. A need for safe places, political correctness and a state of “it’s my right” kind of mentality has taken the place of just good ole courtesy and respect for others along with the disturbing trend of a loss of value for life itself. I would look to this business of political correctness and an old buzz words of years past like inclusiveness, to provide some sense of direction to this mess. Let’s start with being politically correct… “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated” ( Merriam Webster’s  definition…) One more definition before we move on. This one is from Wikipedia: “Political correctness is a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.” Such effort is worthy of consideration but like many good intentions there are always those who seek to take advantage of a good thing. Political correctness has now become a selective thing driven by the pressures of society and cultural influences. One other motivator of our behavior towards others is the practice of inclusiveness.

The old way of social inclusion is defined as such: “Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.” We have now moved on to a higher standard, a culturally inclusive-environment, that brings with it a new set of standards to be considered which is now recognized as Cultural Inclusiveness. Cultural inclusiveness addresses and supports the needs of people from diverse cultures, and values their unique contribution. It involves ongoing awareness raising, where negotiations and compromise may be necessary …. So begins the Dance. When we move from ‘inclusiveness‘ too ‘inclusivity  The simplest difference is ‘inclusivity‘ it is the noun and ‘inclusiveness‘ is the adjective. The word is about not being exclusive but open to all.  (2015

This embracing of inclusivity changes the playing field and demands  that we embrace all things and in the politics and culture of the day, we of the faith are at a disadvantage. There is one fact that adds to my understanding of the mess we find ourselves in at this time. For decades now there has been a continual effort of removing God from our schools and I go much further in suggesting that removal extends as well to our culture and society in general. This effort has contributed to a disconnect between people in general and the value of life. Another way to look at this is a desensitizing of us as a people to the finality of death. The so called realism of today’s movies, the injection of realism into video games, the increase in on screen violence and language now found to be acceptable in motion pictures, plays along with the suggestive lyrics in some forms of music today. It is a cliche but proven fact that time changes all things but the word of God never changes. Our God is the same today and yesterday and will be for all the days to come. Time, cultures and societal changes have brought one change that is crucial to this mess we find ourselves in today. Look at these figures from a Gallup poll and article of April 18, 2019, written by Jeffrey M. Jones.

  • Half of Americans are church members, down from 70% in 1999
  • Most of the decline attributable to increase in percentage with no religion
  • Membership has fallen nine points among those who are religious

The trend of those who respond they have no religious preference or affiliation has doubled, from 8% to 19%. It should also be noted that even those who profess a particular religious affiliation do not belong to a church or other place of worship.  (Gallup)

There are lots of numbers to play with here but one fact lurking behind the numbers is that people in general have little or no confidence in institutions. My personal thoughts here would be people see no progress being made by their government in dealing with all the problems of these changing times. The hypocrisy of leadership in all areas of their life and the fact that justice in this world is closely aligned with a power which is fueled by those with a personal agenda, does not instill much confidence in the need for reasonable dialogue among the people. These are rather simplistic reasons by an ordinary layman. Being among the 89% of traditionalists born 1945 or earlier I have seen the church struggle for years to fight against declining membership, the inclusion of other cultures and the pressures of the demands of changing societal and moral standards. The point to be made is  ‘American relations and orientation to religion is changing and they don’t find membership in church or other faith institutions a necessary part of their religious experience.’ (Gallup, 2019)

I wrote some time back of seeing a sign on a church board that read “Tried Religion …. Try Jesus”. That sign has always stuck with me and even today it offers a message we need to hear. For four decades the Church has quietly been destroying itself from within struggling to find within scripture justification for the acceptance of a shift in social morals that do not correspond with biblical teachings. I cannot justify the space needed to present my position here but maybe instead of each side building a case for their position, maybe we ought to be building up Jesus Christ. Instead we as a nation and also the church, we both are Dancing With The Devil. The Lord’s Day Will come and the dance will end…. Who will you be going home with?

15 January, 2020














A Denomination’s Journey To God’s Will…

I had planned to share with you the ever changing saga of the Methodist Church’s continuing discussion of church doctrine centered on same sex issues, notably homosexuality, which is referenced in the church’s Book of Discipline, its governing document, which states that the “practice of homosexuality” is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” This journey has consumed at least 40 years of time at the cost of thousands of reams of paper, countless hours of labour and attention that could have been better spent doing the Lord’s work. According to Ashley Boggan PhD. Student, Drew University, in a list compiled May 2015 and I quote from the article:

“1964: Council on Religion and the Homosexual, an ecumenical organization founded by Glide Memorial Methodist and Rev. Ted McIlvenna, formed in San Francisco, CA: “Ministers acknowledged the role that religion played in the persecution of gays and promised to initiate dialogue in their denominations on the churches’ stand toward same-gender sexuality.”

So we began the journey. From 1964 until 2014 there were at my count thirty such instances that were brought forth for consideration about this issue and related concerns, presented in Annual and General Conferences. There have been numerous petitions also made to the General Conferences over the years. Trust me…there are so many different turns in this Journey To God’s Will and the road so full of well meaning people, I doubt one could hear any prayer for God’s guidance in this matter. Now to bring us up to date on the status of this debate, and that is being polite, it has intensified I believe because over time people have changed. Those who advocate a change see these past few years as being to their advantage, so in reality the church has been put in a no win situation. There are churches leaving the Methodist Church and doing so in increasing numbers. The Pew works hard to not let personal opinion overrule the scripture to advance or influence the advancement of certain agenda driven activities. Today I will step out of the Pew for a bit and share some personal thoughts with you. As I wrote, this debate about sexuality issues has been before the church for over 40 years now. Some years back a vote was taken to allow the Bishops of the church to appoint a commission to re-evaluate rules on gay, lesbian and transgender clergy and marriage. I think both sides were happy with this for various reasons. The vote to establish such was 428 for and 405 no. To me it was necessary not so much to arrive at an answer as just another way to kick the Can a little further down the road  and buy time to avoid the mess of imposing discipline on clergy and clergy candidates who disobey the current Book of Discipline which is the law of the governing body of the church published every four years or so.

Consider this…You simply can’t vote what’s right or scriptural correct and like it or not, a vote does not make a right or wrong correct on either side of this debate. We have kicked this can down the road so many times it has more dents in it than a car at Daytona after a NASCAR race. The progressives were happy with the vote the conservatives not so much. Make no mistakes both sides of the issue were exasperated the church is still arguing over it and seems to be closer to a split. 

Consider this…There seems to be this attitude that if you don’t agree, just ignore the Book of Discipline and do your thing. This is not that unusual in our current societal reasoning, too many people in all walks and areas of life have been able to elevate this type of behavior to a level that is noble…a means of expressing the worth of your argument…being a victim of unfair treatment. To me it is just another example of a man made law that is inadequate and lacks the divine wisdom of the God we serve. The United Methodist Church is the third largest worshiping body in the United States and claims over 12 million members worldwide. Let that number sink in for a moment. Just think with that number and the enormous resources it is capable of amassing, we are still unable to answer the questions surrounding the issue of how we as a church deal with the “practice of homosexuality” in the Church.There was sometime ago a song titled “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places”. Stay with me now…what in the world could that possibly have to do with our problem?

Consider this…

Could it be more appropriate to perhaps change our focus and maybe even our position…perhaps we should spend more time on our knees instead of on a soap box. I believe the answer to the issue of same sex practices within the faith lies in God’s Will. I believe such a revelation is of a Divine nature…through prayer, a strong relationship with God in our everyday life and revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. Therefore I believe we have been looking in all the wrong places for the answer to this issue before the church. One web site, Bible Gateway, offers many different ways to study the Bible and has available over 150 commentaries on the OT and NT. For those of us who study and seek to share the word it is of great assistance. Modern day technology gives us a wealth of material with only a pressing of a key on any computer. You can also look to several other points of distribution. 

Consider this…The Holy Spirit does not function in turmoil, disagreement and disrespect of others opinions. The Holy Spirit does not accept opinions as fact….or better put…God’s Will. You will not find it in Rainbows, Clerical robes, Bishop’s robes or on the end of a clinched fist, raised in emotional frustration. God’s Will is available to those who earnestly seek it and we all will be closer to finding it when we are on our knees in humble prayer. So to wrap this up…back to some music.

“The answer my friend does not blow in the wind” It lies in God’s Will. What does God expect of us?

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly,

To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Life is Good


Reference points 

Laurie Goodstein May 18, 2016 

The New Interpreter’s Bible

John The Baptist…The Original Modern Day Evangelist Isaiah 40:3–5 (NKJV):

3  A voice cries:“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5  And the …The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has

spoken.”“Prepare the way of the LORD;

Who was John the Baptist? Short answer would be, a “lone voice in the wilderness”.The early personage to the modern-day evangelist as he unashamedly shared the good news of Jesus Christ. He is a role model for those of us who wish to share our faith and the good news with others. Consider these facts…

-He is usually overlooked as a significant figure in the Gospels

-His birth was meticulously recorded Luke. (1:5-25)

-His conception was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention. ( Luke 1:57-80 )

There are still more facts of interest that present the thought of the importance of this reasoning. John’s birth to Abraham and Sarah was the result of that Divine intervention.Gen.17:15-22 ; 21:1-7 ) John most certainly has a place of importance in the salvation history. To keep this simple yet enlightening I will share some points of interest to an already well known story. We often just skim over the words not allowing them to travel from our mind to our heart. How beautiful is the intent of our God to place among us earthly saints to point us to His call to His people. John’s early life wasn’t easy, he lived in the mountainous area of Judea, between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. He wore the typical garb of a prophet, his diet was locusts and wild honey. John lived a simple life as he focused on the kingdom work set before him… “prepare the way of the Lord”

John’s work and his enthusiastic faith soon drew the attention of others… There is scriptural note of this …

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6)

John’s message was simple… He is coming, prepare the way for the Lord, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Within Him is your salvation, repent and be baptized. Water was a symbol of cleansing in the biblical times…still is in our day. Interesting point here was as the people came and sought to be forgiven of their sins, this resulted in their being baptized by John, which added to the name some referred to him by…The Baptizer. Many people believed John was  a prophet of God… The Jews of the Temple and those of power in their community feared hm and his message. “5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet.” 

(Matthew 14:5)

John knew what they were saying and responded in kind. In John 3:28 you may read his response. John says, “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him”. We don’t often think this way but it has been said that what was to come was a miracle from God in the form of Jesus Christ. In secular vernacular John was saying… “Hey, I am just a messenger and my message is simple and direct,  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. The part John The Baptist played in bringing The Messiah forth is well documented but beyond these words we are given so much more. As written earlier the days and months and years ahead we will come to know of his earthly ministry and the gift He brought and offered to the whole world. He would challenge King Herod for his stubborn and evil ways and would pay for that with his life. Jesus spoke well of John, and also had this to say… Luke 7:28 “I tell you among those born of women there is no one greater than John…”

From John we can learn many things. He believed with all his heart, mind, body and soul that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. He spent all his days preparing to go forth and tell world of his coming…. “preparing the way” for the Lord’s coming. He focused on the mission God had given him. He told us of the importance of repentance and living a holy and righteous life. He was not afraid to speak the truth,   regardless the cost. John had a unique ministry but we must remember we too are called to share the truth of Jesus with the world. Stay focused on the word and the mission.

Life is Good