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Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Fundamentals Of Christianity

Today I visited a forum where a question was asked about the fundamentals of
Christianity. The person who asked the question described himself/herself as a "progressive" and said that progressives and fundamentalists usually don't get along because fundamentalists make a lot of noise and offend everybody.

While I didn't understand what the person meant by being a progressive, someone in the forum seemed to support this view by saying that Christianity was changing and we ought to change with it. This made me wonder, what does a "progressive" believe in? Christian beliefs do not change because God does not change. (Malachi 3:6) And if He does not change, neither does His word.

One of the fundamentals of Christianity is the deity of Christ, that He is God in the flesh and He came to earth to redeem man to Himself.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). 
 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (v 14). 

Christmas, the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, fulfills the first fundamental of Christianity. Another essential of the Christian faith is that He was born of a virgin. This was foretold by Isaiah centuries before Jesus was born.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (7: 14).  

Behold , a virgin shall be with child , and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1: 23).  

This is why Christmas is such a special time in the Christian calendar. It's a time when we attend church services, get together with family and friends and exchange gifts. But more than that, it shows the world what we believe in - God who came to the world in the person of Jesus Christ.

Everyone is free to believe whatever one chooses, but the Bible gives clear reasons for what we must believe. 1. The deity of Christ. 2. Salvation by grace through Jesus Christ  3. The resurrection of Christ  4.  The truth of the gospel and  5. There is only one God. 

It's impossible to believe one and not believe all, and that's why they are called fundamentals. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

What Does The Bible Say About Justice

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Let justice roll down like waters ..."

These words from the book of Amos flashed through my mind as I watched hundreds of people, black and white, march in protest of a Grand Jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for the killing of an unarmed black man. Suddenly, it seems we are back to the days of the Civil Rights Movement when people took to the streets to protest the unfair treatment meted out to them by a justice system that left them feeling marginalized and dehumanized.

As if this were not bad enough, African Americans have been and continue to be the disproportionate victims of violence, poverty, illegitimate births, sickness and disease. We, especially black males, have become an endangered species. The Bible has a lot to say about justice and the way we treat those who are less fortunate. Let's look at some of these verses:

'Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Leviticus 19: 15

"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Deuteronomy 27: 19

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 27: 9

those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. Isaiah 29: 21

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5: 24

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off ? Luke 18" 7

As with everything else, the words of the Bible are always relevant, and so is its Author. He is aware of what is taking place and has promised, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice" (Isaiah 42: 3). 

At a time when the majority of us are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with our loved ones, the Garners, the Browns, the Martins and others who have lost loved ones through these senseless slayings are in mourning. To them I say, "Take heart. 'The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed' (Psalm 103: 6). May the Prince of peace comfort and strengthen you at this Christmas time."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In All These Things

I am always amazed at how I can read several passages from the Bible and fail to notice
certain things, until one day suddenly, a word or phrase jumps out at me. This verse from 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 is an example of that. It says, "In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Notice it doesn't say, "For everything," but "In everything." 
Thanksgiving in America is now behind us and we are looking forward to Christmas and then the New Year. Some of you may still be rubbing your stomachs and thanking God for his bountiful blessings, while others may be thinking, "Why should I be thankful? Nothing went right for me this year, and I don't see things getting any better next year."

I sympathize. The news is so full of all the bad stuff going on around us that even those of us who have not suffered any hardship over the past months may still be affected by all the doom and gloom. But the Bible tells us, "In every thing give thanks."

So, here are some reasons why we should be thankful:

1. Because it is God's will for our lives, and if it is His will, we know that everything will turn out well.

2. It shows God that we trust Him, and this pleases God. The Bible says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God," Hebrews 11: 6.

3. Being thankful relieves us of anxiety, takes the burden off ourselves and puts it on God. Isn't it wonderful to know that "in all these things" we have Someone who loves us and is looking out for us?

Anyone can be thankful when the table is loaded with goodies, our family members are well and we know where our next meal is coming from. But in the sickness, in the divorce, in the hardship, we are to give thanks to God.

And as my way of saying thanks to all my followers and readers, I will be giving away two copies of Chicken Soup For The Soul: Reboot Your Life in which one of my stories is published. If you are already a follower, all you have to do is write to me at between now and Dec. 15 and tell me what you like about this blog and your name will be entered in a drawing to receive a copy free of charge, postage paid. If you are not yet a follower, you may do so by clicking on the Follow This Blog button or by subscribing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills

English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range fr...
English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range from the Asa Wright Nature Centre, my photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is there a particular natural feature that makes you catch your breath, stare in wonder, sets your pulse racing? I think almost all of nature makes me stand in awe and think about the One who created it, but there is one particular feature that really sets my soul on fire, and that is mountains. Having just returned from a short vacation in my native country Trinidad and Tobago, mountains are very much on my mind. From the minute the plane begins to descend, my eyes are riveted on the hills and they are the last things I look at when I am leaving.

Tall, forest-clad, majestic, their highest peak stands just over 3000 feet, so they are really considered hills in comparison to the mountains of the world, but for me they are impressive enough to make me love them. They frame the small island with their undulating beauty and form a protective barrier from hurricane winds. It was said that when Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad in 1498 and he saw the three peaks of the Northern Range, they reminded him of the Trinity, and so he named the island La Trinidad which later became Trinidad.

When I look at those hills, so majestic, so immovable, so protective, so invincible, so impenetrable I can't help but think about my Creator who is all those things and more. Hills and mountains have many benefits for the people of that land. In addition to providing protection from strong winds, they were used as forts in time of war. From the hills come rivers and streams to water the land and cause crops to grow. Wild animals dwell there and precious minerals lie buried.

We can compare the hills to our God. He is our protector, our refuge, our provider and the source of all our supply. He cannot be moved, He protects us in our sleeping and waking moments, He cannot be destroyed and no one can fathom His height or depth, length or breadth. He is as solid, as timeless and as breathtaking as the hills. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121: 1)

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Break Down Those Walls

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...
English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had another post already drafted to be published today, but then I saw somewhere that today is the anniversary of the pulling down of the Berlin wall, and I thought I couldn't miss out on commenting on this historic event.

A lot of young people may have never heard of the Berlin wall, but for older folks like myself, familiar with the Cold War and all it entailed, the Berlin wall was a physical and political barrier that separated West Berlin from East Germany. It also represented the separation of communism from democracy, oppression from freedom. Twenty-five years today, that wall was demolished as hastily as it was erected and Germany is a united country.

Many of us build up walls between ourselves and others. Walls of prejudice, racism, hate and anger. Some of us are so insecure, we shun love and companionship and encase ourselves within our own cocoon. God does not want us to live that way. This is the reason he placed us in families and communities so we can fellowship and learn from each other. The Bible says, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2: 14).

Note the words, "he himself is our peace." People who live within walls have no peace. They are always on the lookout for an attack, but when the wall is broken down, they can breathe easily, move freely. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus, by His death on the cross and His resurrection, broke down the wall of sin that separated us from God. Now we have been reunited with the Father and enjoy all the freedom that comes with being His child.

What walls have you built around yourself? Sin, anger, unforgiveness, fear? It's time to let Jesus break them down and come into your heart. Let Him be your peace; let Him be your shield and your protector. You don't need those walls. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8: 36). Invite Him in today.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Do You See Yourself?

I am always puzzled when I read about celebrities who complain about their looks, status
or some other thing. These people seem to have it all. The public adores them and thinks their looks are perfect and their performance divine. So why are they not satisfied?

If they can be dissatisfied with themselves, how much easier it is for the ordinary John or Jane to have a low opinion about themselves? This was the case of Gideon. Israel had fallen on hard times on account of the Midanites and other eastern peoples who had invaded their land. He had such low self-esteem that when an angel appeared to him and addressed him as "Mighty warrior" (Judges 6: 12), Gideon replied, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together"(v 15 - 16). 

But Gideon was not convinced. He asked God to give him a sign (v 36 - 39) . And the Lord did so (v 40). And so it was that Gideon conquered the Midianites, but not before God had showed him more signs and caused him to hear someone interpreting a dream that foretold victory for the Israelites

So it is with us. We see ourselves as weak, insignificant, destined for failure even though God assures us that He is with us. We will not go after the job we want or the business we would like to start because we are afraid we might fail. But in God's eyes we are not failures. The Bible says, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8 : 37).

If you are born again, when you look yourself in the mirror, you should see yourself as God sees you - son/daughter of the Most High God, bought with a price, beloved, redeemed, worthy, blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail -- Shall I go on? Love yourself, because God loves you. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Do You Enjoy Your Life?

English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, ...
English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, Kyiv, Ukraine). Source: own camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In light of all that is happening in the world today, one may be tempted to say, what is there to enjoy? Every time we pick up the newspapers, or turn on the television we hear and see things, which, if we are not careful, can send us into a deep state of depression. Hence the reason for the question, do you enjoy your life? Or better still, can you enjoy your life when all around you there is pain and suffering?

Joyce Meyer, popular televangelist, has built a worldwide ministry around the theme, Enjoying Everyday Life. When one listens to her speak about growing up with an abusive father and all the things she had to endure, one wonders that today she can encourage others to enjoy their lives. The truth is, if you're living a life of poverty, abuse and hardship, and you are anxious and disheartened by all the bad news you hear everyday, there may not be much to enjoy.

 But listen to what Jesus said. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world" (John 16: 33). The key is in me. In Him, Jesus Christ. If you are in Him, you will have peace and joy unspeakable and full of glory. You will not be bothered about what is going on around you, you will not be afraid of evil tidings, because your heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.