Posted 5/15/13 at 11:24 PM | Barry Bowen |
A few minutes ago the tornado sirens ended. I never realized until tonight how stressful it can be listening to a tornado siren. As I type this a thunderstorm warning remains in effect where I live. A soft rain is falling outside.
What if there were sirens for sin? What if whenever we were about to do something self-destructive, we would receive a warning?
Something like that exists: the conscience.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.- Romans 2:14-16 ESV
There have been times I didn't listen to my conscience and deliberately sinned. I noticed that the more I sinned, the less guilty I felt. It was clearly time to repent. FULL POST
Posted 5/9/13 at 2:44 PM | Jonathan Feldstein
This week, I was privileged to spend an evening visiting with women in Jerusalem on a trip from Aglow international, an incredible ministry that has at its’ core the mission “to be a watchman over the whole house of Israel.., calling forth all He has promised for that nation, the Jewish people.” We talked and shared many personal things about Judaism, life in Israel, and my work, to offer a perspective on life in Israel through the prism of my life. It was a moving and enjoyable experience.
During our conversation, one of the women asked if I had ever felt personally threatened or at risk being here. I answered that while I hadn’t, one can’t live in Israel without an awareness of the challenges and risks, and that I am mindful of that. But I also shared how in many ways, this makes us closer, despite often polarizing differences.
The next day, I received an email from a friend who had just gone through one such experience. He wrote, partly to share his experience so that it should be known, and partly in a therapeutic venting sort of a way. Other than affirming that life in Israel is indeed full of challenges and blessings, I take this opportunity to share his words in the hope that others will find greater understanding about part of life here. FULL POST
Posted 4/16/13 at 4:12 PM | Bill Blacquiere
By Sandra McLaughlin, Branch Director, Bethany Christian Services of Western Pennsylvania
The effect of the Korean War in the 1950s was devastating. Hundreds and hundreds of husbands, wives, and children were captured by North Korean military. Having once lived in a free country, those taken as prisoners in North Korea were not allowed any communication with their families. For many in South Korea, it was necessary to marry again . . . and start over.
In addition to this and while attempting to recover from the aftermath of war, thousands of babies were born in South Korea, a country known to take great pride in the pure blood of its ancestors. Women, raised to believe children born with blood of two races are dishonorable, abandoned their mixed-race babies in public places.
I was one of those babies.
Orphanages were flooded with children. International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were already in-country assisting with the needs, but it was more than they could handle. The hearts of Harry and Bertha Holt were touched and they traveled to South Korea to help orphaned children. As a result, they adopted eight Korean children into their family. Their story flooded media networks and filled their mailbox with letters of interest in adoption. And so, the Holt Agency aka Holt International Children's Services began in 1955. FULL POST
Posted 4/3/13 at 9:49 PM | Barry Bowen
Since April is National Poetry Month here is a poem by Christian poet Anne Bradstreet. Anne wrote this poem after her house burned down in 1666.
Burning of our House
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I wakened was with thundering noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of "Fire" and "Fire,"
Let no man know, is my desire.
I, starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my distress,
And not to leave me succorless.
Then coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest His name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust;
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was His own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine.
He might of all justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the ruins oft I passed
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sat and long did lie.
Here stood that trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy table eat a bit;
No pleasant tale shall e'er be told,
Nor things recounted done of old;
No candle e'er shall shine in thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice e'er heard shall be.
In silence ever shall thou lie.
Adieu, Adieu, all's vanity.
Then straight I 'gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust?
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect;
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent though this be fled.
It's purchased, and paid for, too,
By him who hath enough to do-
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by His gift, is made thine own.
There's wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store;
The world no longer let me love.
My hope and treasure lie above. FULL POST
Posted 3/28/13 at 12:09 PM | Paul Louis Metzger |
My wife, Mariko, has shared beautifully about the rainbow of love of her multi-ethnic experience. My rainbow of love experience is a bit different, and it breaks on through or rather past Jimmy Fallon’s impersonation of Jim Morrison of The Doors singing "Reading Rainbow." The only books Morrison ever inspired me to read were those by the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, and Arthur Rimbaud.
I grew up in a strong Christian home and received Jesus into my life as a small child, but rebelled against what I would call “Churchianity”—a lukewarm and bourgeois Christian faith—during my high school years. The life and lyrics of Jim Morrison were significant forces that shaped me during this time. Even today, I appreciate Morrison for seeking to follow his convictions wherever they would lead him—perhaps even seeking to “break on through to the other side” through death. FULL POST
Posted 3/26/13 at 12:45 PM | Heidi Doose
Trips to Africa don't come along every day. I have been twice blessed after two mission trips to Ukraine. They were life changing. I have always wanted to go to Africa. Wanted...but didn't really believe I would have that kind of opportunity. When my husband, Stacy was asked to go to Nigeria, he very lovingly made it clear that we would be going together. It is his talent as a videographer and his generous gifts that made this trip possible, but I needed to find a way to pay for my wings across the Atlantic. We don't have that kind of money, especially in the short amount of time we were given to raise it. One might think that five months is plenty of time to prepare for an overseas trip. However, airfare must be paid for long in advance, and we were down to two months. We prayed. I prayed. I asked for prayer. I REALLY hate asking people for money and sometimes, they just don't have it to give. I would often hear, " all I can do is pray for you." When people tell me, "I'm so sorry, all I can do is pray", I tell them, "that's like telling me, 'I'm going into battle and all I have to take is this nuclear warhead."
I needed time to think so I took our dog, Molly, out for a walk. It was one of those amazing autumn evenings where it's just as it should be: crisp, golden, still warm enough to walk without a jacket, and quiet. I used that quiet time to chat with God. He's that kind, loving, Fatherly friend I can be completely honest with. I'm not embarrassed to tell Him that we don't have the money to pay for my ticket. There's no shame in setting my concerns at His feet and saying, " I can't do this one on my own." I just laid it all out there. FULL POST
Posted 3/24/13 at 11:25 PM | Heidi Doose
Every year as we approach Good Friday and the Resurrection, I feel the need to draw closer to the real person of Jesus. The God who became man and showed His unfathomable mercy and love for His own creation by dying on a cross and becoming the sacrifice that atones for all sin.
We simply cannot understand that kind of love. Because of our human nature, our selfishness and ego centric lives we are unable to give ourselves completely or without conditions. The closest thing or person I've read about or witnessed was the life of Mother Teresa. Even she herself admits that she occasionally doubted her faith and all that she worked towards. I have doubts too, if I am honest, and they usually arrive, like the eruption of a teenage zit, when "science" makes a claim to the truth. The "truth" is that much of science is based on a theory or many theories come together and presented as a fact. Some of those facts are indisputable. Some of those facts will, in my eyes, remain as theories until God Himself sets the record straight.
I love the History Channel. Well, okay, since we're talking about the truth, I must confess I'm actually addicted to the History Channel. It has a wonderful balance of the natural, the supernatural and the paranormal. (We'll discuss my obsession with Sasquatch another time) However, I can only assume that my loving husband has grown weary of my constant commentary on the theories that are all too often presented as facts. It is these theories that linger in my mind as I try to rationalize both science and faith. Not science that bravely declares what Believers already hold dear, but the overachieving souls who feel the need to explain how certain Biblical events probably, actually, realistically might have occurred.
During the 50 years of my life - a respectable expanse of time- I've experienced quite a lot. A lot of good. A lot of bad. Some of it my own doing, some if it the victim of circumstance. In those 50 years I have discovered that whether good, bad, deserved or undeserved, I have not gone through any of it alone. That's my own testimony to the life of Heidi.
Is any one person's experiences perceived as fact or theory? Depends on who you ask. The person going through an incident would tell you that whatever they experienced was real. The person listening to an account might take into consideration the mental or emotional stability of that person, or perhaps even whether the memory of that event could be trusted, therefore believing the story to be "possible".
Was the story of the resurrection "possible" ? Consider the historical facts:
-Jesus was real. He lived. Whether you believe He is the Messiah is irrelevant. Historians witnessed and documented the fact that He lived.
-He was loved by many... and still is. His life has affected more people than any other in history.
-He died a horrible death, innocent of any crime, and that death was witnessed by men and women from all walks of life.
-Three days after His death and for 40 days He was seen by thousands.
-Many of those, and their friends and families, were put to death because they refused to deny Him. They were tortured in ways we can't even imagine. Some were forced to watch those they loved tortured and killed because they knew and believed with their whole being the testimony of a life lived -and they refused to betray - even unto death, a truth they could not deny.
-More than 2,000 years later His life and death, and His heavenly reign are still held in high esteem. He is adored, worshiped and imitated more than any other man.
These are the facts. Any believer and most non-believers can fill in the gaps between those statements. Believers would call His miracles, His love, His sacrifice, His resurrection and His perfection as God incarnate as fact. We believe that He fulfilled every Messianic prophecy. We believe that He came to save without force, coercion, or violence, but with a loving invitation to accept his grace and mercy. We believe that His sacrifice paid a price we could never afford. FULL POST
Posted 3/4/13 at 8:27 PM | Aida and William Spencer
When one travels in Third ( also called Two/Thirds or Majority) World countries, one can hear first person accounts from other believers that reveal a dimension of faith all but lost in the post-modern/intellectual/technological/materially-oriented First World mindset. It is a sobering reminder that little of our world is traveling down the post-modern (First World) corridor and much of it is living in the more expanded perspective of the biblical age.
This past week we were researching Taino American-Indian sites on the western border of the Dominican Republic, across the mountains from Haiti. The Tainos were the peaceful settlers who occupied the Caribbean islands when Columbus and his marauding band of convicts and aristocratic-but-non-inheriting and, thus, fortune-hunting sons descended on them and changed the course of what would become the Americas.[i] FULL POST
Posted 2/27/13 at 3:14 AM | Patricia J Cox |
In Part 1 of my spiritual journey I chronicled my salvation experience. I spoke of when I was first saved, how I did not live for God, and then how God dealt with me later in life that resulted in me making Jesus Lord of my life by putting Him first in my life. I mentioned how He changed my life in the natural after I kept my commitment to Him. I mentioned some of the ways He changed me. Some of the ways I changed were in my ability to teach. He changed my study habits, and I became a better student. I was socially awkward and introverted. God changed that and made me an extrovert. I use to be entertained by sinful TV programs. He changed all that and I was no longer entertained by those programs and I stopped watching TV.
In general I was a failure in life and He turned it all around and made me successful.
God also did a work in me spiritually.
When I first received Jesus as my Savior when I was about 8 yrs old I knew that hell was real and I didn't want my friends to go there. I witnessed to two of my female friends and told them that hell was real. I asked them if they wanted to go to Heaven and not hell. They said they wanted to go to Heaven so I told them they needed to ask Jesus to save them and they needed to walk the aisle and tell the Pastor that they wanted Jesus.
In graduate school after I got right with God, things changed more dramatically for me spiritually than what it had been originally when I was about 8 yrs old. Again, I knew hell was real, I didn't want my friends to go there, and I knew that they needed to be saved to go to Heaven.
God gave me favor with people which I didn't have before. I had one student that came to my office, shared with me his martial problems, and wept. I told him that Jesus was the answer to his problems. I gave him the gospel. I invited him to Church. He came.
I had a Chinese friend who was a graduate student at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) who said he believed in God. I just sensed that he really didn't know Jesus and was lost. I would witness to him at times.
Posted 2/25/13 at 3:48 PM | Patricia J Cox |
I made a profession of faith in a Baptist Church when I was about 8 yrs old. God had revealed to my heart that hell was real. I knew you needed Jesus to go to Heaven so I asked Jesus to save me. Being raised in a home that was not conducive to spiritual growth and a lack of making Jesus Lord of my life resulted in me making friends and decisions that led me into living a life of sin.
Even though I lived in the flesh I never lost my belief in God or that I was saved.
Though my mother drew away from God over the years I still attended Church through the rest of Elementary School and through Junior and Senior High School.
When I left home to go to college I attended Church some in my freshman year. Afterward, though, I stopped going to Church.
Sin grew in my life as each year passed. Later in life God allowed sin to take its toll. It brought death to me intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. But before sin completed its work in me God allowed me to graduate from college and to attend graduate school.