“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
I was cleaning my bookshelves a while back and came across a book that I hadn’t given much thought to in many years; it is the Prayer Book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Let me tell you how this little 80-page book blessed my life.
It was just after Thanksgiving time in 1995 while I was working as a pastoral assistant to a Catholic Pastor in Massachusetts. He was a great priest and a great friend. However, he was also great at volunteering me for projects! (I will admit that I really didn’t mind at all)
We traveled to Boston one afternoon to visit with the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; what an amazing ministry they have. While taking a tour of their lovely chapel, we noticed that their prayer books were a torn and tattered mess that consisted of a folder of mismatched cards and papers. Continue reading
In this age of free and easy access to answers to our most inane questions and our deepest philosophical quandary’s, the internet, for all its faults and failings is on the forefront providing the answers. For thousands of years, lay people relied on the learned few to share their knowledge and provide us with the answers to our deepest questions. Then one day a few decades ago, the information that we relied on others to provide became readily available to all of us. Sacred texts were now available, holy texts, literary classics, rare – if ever seen manuscripts and scrolls we now ready to be accessed by anyone anywhere that wanted to see them.
It seemed as though all the answers to every question in the universe could now be found. Every question we could ever think to ask could now be answered. Today I can search and find the answer to anything I want to know. Whether I trust the “answer-er” or not, is a topic for another time.
There are several major internet search engines; Google and Bing are the two largest and most accessed. In 2018, there were 5.6 billion searches per day on Google alone. That’s a bunch of people asking a bunch of questions! So it begs the question, what are they looking for. When it comes to faith, what are the big questions that are in need of an answer? I took a look at the results from my own little blog search results to see some of what folks were asking; the results are clear. This is just a brief list of the taken from this year’s statistics.
- I didn’t want to give up my sin
- Bitter truths about rapture
- Jesus and the Cross
- What is cherished sin?
- I believe God hates me
- The truth about rapture
- God are you real?
- Am I saved because of Jesus death
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (RAPTURED) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord!” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AMP
In theological terms, the word RAPTURE is defined as: “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to earth.”
While the exact word “RAPTURE” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away, or caught up. The concept of the “caught up” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at God’s command, with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet call of God, believers that have already died (the dead in Christ) will rise from their graves. Then the believers still alive on the earth will be “caught up” in the air with the dead in Christ to meet Jesus in the air. Together we will be taken to be with the Lord. These believers – both the dead and alive are called the Church.
“Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death].” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 AMP
Daughter Where’s Your Crown: Examine Biblical Virtue in the Life of Ruth and Proverbs 31 by Kathy Farley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“As wives, mothers, caretakers, and breadwinners, women face a unique set of challenges. Have you found yourself struggling with not feeling “good enough?” Has pressure of trying to do the “right thing” ever left you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged? Daughter, Where’s Your Crown? will help you meet these challenges head-on.”
“Daughter, Where’s Your Crown” by author Kathy Farley is a bible study for women based on Proverbs 31. The first half of the book is based on Proverbs 31- verses 1 – 9, with the remainder of the book focusing on the Proverbs 31 woman. This study is designed to give women new insights into this important chapter. Continue reading
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan
“The Cross splits the world. Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think – that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other” ~ Billy Graham
“Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.” (Newman, Peter, “The Meaning of the Cross”, 11)
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
“’We preach Christ crucified.’ This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.” (Decision Magazine; April 2007)
“For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 AMP
“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” John 15:1 AMP
A little while back our Bible Study class was discussing this passage in the book of John; pondering it brought to mind the many years that I had my gardens. Specifically it reminded me of tending to the couple dozen tomato plants I would plant in my vegetable garden each year.
Left alone tomato plants will overtake a good portion of your garden space while producing little or no fruit. They love the heat and the sun… add water and you have the makings for some pretty big plants. Notice I say “big plants”… I didn’t say a lot of tomatoes, just big plants.
The Power of the Cross: One Man Sinned and All Men Died – Another Man Died So All Might Live by James Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The Catholic Church believes that when Adam sinned (Genesis chapter 3) his trespass caused a reign of death that ruled over all men. That view is correct (Romans 5:17). The Christian churches do not believe God would hold blameless men accountable Adam’s sin, therefore they do not believe Adam’s trespass caused death to reign over anyone. That is why the Christian churches refuse to teach that little babies must be baptized to take away Adam’s sin. That view is absolutely reasonable, true, and correct. How can both views be valid?” Continue reading
“As we are approaching the end of this age, we will come to see that those things which are to be shaken shall be removed and only those things which are not to be shaken shall remain. May we therefore seek for things unshakable which come through the spirit of wisdom and revelation.”[i]
Recently we began an all Church Bible Study called Experience Life by Pete Briscoe. In the week two study, we are challenged to develop and deepen our relationship with Jesus by committing ourselves to spending time with Him, becoming more the person He desires us to be. “Discipleship requires Discipline” “We have a new life in Christ – a relationship with our living Lord!” Just as when we meet a new friend, we want to get to know them better, we do this by spending time with them – talking, learning about them, their past, their likes, their dislikes, etc. “For the Christian, isn’t that what spiritual growth really is – getting to know Jesus better, communicating with Him, learning what He likes and doesn’t like, and adapting our lives to His?” Continue reading
Praying God’s Promises: The Life-Changing Power of Praying the Scriptures by Linda Evans Shepherd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Prayer changes things. Praying God’s promises changes everything. The Scriptures tell us that when we pray the will of God, he delights to answer our prayers. But what is God’s will in any given situation? How can we know it? And if we don’t know it, how can we pray it?
In this inspiring book, Linda Evans Shepherd reveals that God’s will is not a mystery–it’s clearly laid out in his Word through his many promises. Through stories, practical application, examples of prayers, and guided reflection, she leads you toward a more powerful prayer life. Arranged by topic for ease of use, this book shows how to pray God’s promises of peace, for health, for relationships, for our children, and so much more.” Continue reading
This is in continuation of the previous couple articles about false teachers, preachers and prophets. I think in my own mind I am trying still to answer the question of why it is so easy for false teachers and preachers to take hold and deceive the Church with their lies. Why doesn’t the Church recognize it?
I did some research and here was some enlightening information.
In a 2017 Gallup survey, 75% of Americans claim to be Christian, yet only 24% of them believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. “Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word,” similar to the 26% who view it as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Why are so many denying the Word of God? Why are so many denying the TRUTHS of the Bible – the creation, the fall of man, the flood of Noah, the Ten Commandants, God’s covenant with Abraham, the exodus from Egypt, Israel enters the promised land, Saul, David, Solomon builds the temple, Jesus is born and baptized, Jesus begins his three year ministry, the sermon on the mount, the transfiguration, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus’ ascension, Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, Saul’s conversion, John’s revelation of Jesus’ return for His church… and that just names a few of the hundreds of Biblical TRUTHS.