Rest–Did Jesus Ever Take a Vacation?

No, there is no evidence that Jesus ever escaped to Disneyland, yet three or four biblical clues hint He did find some vacation time alone or with his family and/or disciples.

First Clue That Jesus Ever Took a Vacation

Despite the paintings of Medieval artists, no halo glowed around Jesus’ head. He looked normal to people. His family and townspeople saw nothing supernatural about Him. In fact, they couldn’t mentally grasp the divine side of His character. Nor could the Pharisees. Nor the Sadducees. Nor Pilate. To His half-brothers, he seemed “like one of them.” Nothing special. After all, he got hungry, tired, thirsty. He also got annoyed and angry, most likely at them.

But there was one relative with whom Jesus had a lot in common: John, who did have insight into his cousin and identified with his work. It’s not hard to imagine a bond between these two cousins. So when John was brutally beheaded in prison by the capricious despot Herod Antipas, it’s no wonder why Jesus wanted to “get away” by himself and spend some time alone.

Now when Jesus heard about John [the Baptist being executed], He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself . . .Mark 14:13

A vacation? Not exactly by our standards, but at the very least a time for reflection.

Rest–Did Jesus Ever Take a Vacation? Second Clue

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) Mark 6:31

The price of notoriety was overtaking Jesus and His disciples. I have never walked in His sandals like this. Have you? We get harried, pressured and tired. We may skip meals occasionally. But to become so busy that eating is impossible for a lengthy time? Probably not.

No wonder He wanted to get away. Have you ever felt like you just needed to take a break for a few days? Or just need to take a ministry break and have some fun?

Rest–Third Clue

After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days. John 2:12

My wife spotted this verse years ago. “Jesus took a vacation?” We have several times laughed about it and joked, “Maybe we need a vacation too.”

What was in Capernaum that attracted Jesus so much that he invited his mother, in fact, his whole family along with his closest followers to this village?

First of all, Isaiah prophesied that it would become a light to the nations.

Isaiah 9:2-3 NIV Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali [where Capernaum is located] will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

Could it be that Jesus brought His mother, family, and close disciples to Capernaum to check out the site as a base for future operations. In Capernaum, Jesus preached his famous Light of the World sermon.

Or maybe he just liked the city. After all, it was a lakeside town. He did move to the city and spent a lot of time there. Five of His twelve disciples were from Capernaum. Plus, more recorded miracles took place in Capernaum than any other town.

Do you know any lakeside village where you’d like to move someday? Or maybe a mountain town? Why not arrange a little trip this weekend with family and friends?

Rest–Did Jesus Ever Take a Vacation? Fourth Clue

This is my favorite and final clue.

Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. Mark 7:24-30

The Pharisees had just attacked Jesus over a picayune matter–something about washing hands. I think Jesus had “had enough.” Probably tired, He just wanted to get out of there. And when he got to Tyre. He didn’t want to talk to anybody, or see anybody. He didn’t even want anybody to know He was there.

Have you ever got to that point?

Then this woman came making a commotion and wanting His attention. He put her off as long as He could. But she was persistent. even rude. She kept calling–loudly! Eventually the disciples intervened, Send her away; she is shouting out after us! Jesus rejected her not once, but twice. But she was a desperate woman and would not go away.

Finally, Jesus responded and delivered the daughter.

What was going on? I don’t know for sure, but I think Jesus was tired and wanted rest. He was on vacation.

How ’bout you? Do you need a vacation?

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Is Probably The Best-Documented Historical Event Ever

This Truth is a Big Reason Why I Follow Jesus:

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Is Probably The Best-Documented Historical Event Ever

During my college days I considered giving up Christianity. But wait. . . I determined that if Jesus Christ really rose from being a dead man, I would follow him. On the other hand, if facts could not show conclusively that He rose from the dead, I would give up the whole scenario.

The following article gives many of the same facts that convinced me the historical evidence for His resurrection was overwhelming.

BY: SCOTT POWELLAPRIL 15, 20226 MIN READ

Peter Paul Rubens, Christ resurrected

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Is Probably The Best-Documented Historical Event Ever

There are many religions with different founders, prophets, and teachers going back thousands of years. But only one of them, Christianity, has a founder who professed to be the Messiah—the son of God—who provided irrefutable proof of who he was by conquering death through resurrection. Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Christ is also the only person in history who was pre-announced starting a thousand years before he was born, with 18 different prophets from the Old Testament between the tenth and the fourth centuries BC predicting his coming birth, life, and death. Hundreds of years later, the details of Christ’s birth, life, betrayal, and manner of death validated those prophecies in surprisingly accurate and minute detail. One thousand years BC, David prophetically wrote about the crucifixion of Christ at a time crucifixion was unknown as a means of execution.

Every other consequential person of history came into the world to live. The death of other religious leaders—such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Mohammad, and Confucius—brought an anticlimactic end to their lives and their work.

But Christ came into the world as God’s son in order to die and pay the price for man’s sin. His sacrifice was the ultimate climax of his life, done for the benefit of all mankind—opening the way to eternal life in heaven for all who believe.

Of the four major world religions built on personalities, only Christianity claims its founder is still alive, having overcome death through resurrection. No Jew ever believed that, after Abraham died and was interred, his tomb ever became empty. After Buddha died, no disciple ever claimed that he or she saw or spoke to him again.

As for Mohammed and his teachings that are the basis of Islam, there is no trace of this founder appearing to his disciples or followers after he died at age 61. His occupied tomb is located in Medina and is visited by tens of thousands of devout Muslims every year.

Christ was unique in that he gave up his life as a sacrifice to fulfill why he came into the world. Christ set the highest standard of love possible, both in his teachings and in making the ultimate sacrifice—giving his life to rescue and save mankind. Then, to provide “seeing is believing” evidence, God brought Jesus back from being dead in a tomb to being alive—resurrected—so people would have living proof of who he was.

The New Testament provides accounts from multiple sources who witnessed Jesus firsthand after the resurrection. In fact, Jesus made ten separate appearances to his disciples between the resurrection and his ascension into Heaven, over a period of 40 days. Some of those appearances were to individual disciples, some were to several disciples at the same time, and once even to 500 at one time.

Particularly noteworthy is that there were no accounts of witnesses who came forth and disputed these appearances or called it a “hoax.” Not a single one. Nor do we find any historical record of any witness accounts that were contradictory.

While there are skeptics of the biblical account of Jesus, there’s actually far more reliable historical evidence for his life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection than for any other historical figure of ancient times. Consider, for instance, that the authenticity of Alexander the Great, who was born some 350 years before Christ, is based on two original biographical accounts of his life by Arrian and Plutarch, which were written some 400 years after Alexander died.

The manuscripts of Virgil and Horace, both of whom lived within a generation of Christ, were written more than four centuries after their deaths. The copy of works by Livy and Tacitus on Roman history and the works of Pliny Secundus on natural history were written on average some 700 years after the time of the original account.

Yet no one doubts Virgil and Horace lived and authored great poetic masterpieces. Nor do we hear questions about the authenticity and accuracy of accounts of Livy and Tacitus in chronicling the events of the Roman Emperors Augustus, Claudius, Nero, or Tiberius.

About 1,000 times more manuscripts preserve the deeds and teaching of Jesus in the New Testament (about 25,000 total) than there are preserving other classical ancient works of historic figures who lived at approximately the same time, with the exception of Homer, whose “Iliad” is backed by 1,800 manuscripts. But that is still less than one-tenth the number of ancient manuscripts that back the authenticity of the New Testament.

We know the historical Jesus mainly through four different accounts known as the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—not written hundreds of years later, but within a generation or two of Jesus’s life. Apostles Matthew and John provide eyewitness accounts from their years of walking with Jesus as disciples. Mark also had eyewitness experience, although he was only a teenager when Jesus began his public ministry. Luke, the doctor, learned about Jesus from his friend Paul, the apostle who wrote the most letters in the New Testament.

Because of their experience with the resurrected Jesus, the apostles were in a unique position, knowing with certainty that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They had been present for the life, ministry, miracles, and death of Jesus. If the claims about Jesus were a lie, the apostles would have known it. That’s why their commitment to their testimony was so powerful and compelling.

Additionally, the apostles’ willingness to die for their claims has tremendous evidential value, also confirming the truth of the resurrection. No one will die for something he invented or believes to be false.

Seeing, talking to, and touching the risen Jesus transformed the apostles, who then committed the rest of their lives to educate and advocate for the truth about the message of salvation through Christ. With the exception of John, who died exiled on the island of Patmos for his testimony of Jesus, the other 11 apostles—including Matthias who replaced Judas, the betrayer of Jesus—died as martyrs for their beliefs in the divinity of Christ.

It turns out that Easter, which has its ultimate meaning in the resurrection, is one of ancient history’s most carefully scrutinized and best-attested events. The resurrection is real, and changes everything. Easter is the commemoration and celebration of the single event that transformed the world forever.


Scott S. Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute. This article is a vignette adapted from his acclaimed book, “Rediscovering America,” now Amazon’s No. 1 new release in the history genre. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org

Publisher’s note: Do you know a thinking person not yet following Jesus? If he were to see this post, would it help him investigate further?

Highlights of Our Mexico Mission Trip March 17-22

Kari and I just returned from our Mexico mission trip. I will share some highlights and impressions.

This ministers conference results from the ministry of Glen and Robert Ewing. Robert (+2001) was an apostle and church planter who is known for his proclamation of Divine Order truths. He always wanted to work with a team of like-minded ministers. His vision of team leadership for what is sometimes called the “New Testament Churches” is now being fulfilled.

In my estimation the movement is now healthier than ever. (Yes, I know many forms of New Testament churches exist and flourish.) As I told the conference attendees and personally to Eleazar Mendodoza, one of the leaders, I believe this particular stream of New Testament Churches is healthier than ever for several reasons: One, there is now multiple leadership. Two, the leadership is multi-national. Three, so many young people are involved. Four, there is great respect and honor for women and women’s service.

Eleazar responded in agreement. He added the fact than members and member churches are showing increasing love and support for others.

Seeing friends and families of co-laborers is always a highlight. Mixing it up with ministers from another country adds breadth and perspective. The same or similar challenges face pastors in Mexico that we face in America. Some Mexican pastors are facing unbelief, persecution and sin in heroic fashion. Churches are growing and healthy.

Jairo Carbajal, well-known pastor and conference speaker, gave a sterling message about the Great Shepherd and how He cares for His sheep. Every pastor and elder will profit from that message. I intend to publish it on this site as soon as I receive a copy in English.

As you may know, I have raised sheep (the four footed kind) for about 30 years and the two-footed kind for about 50 years. I was able to support the Great Shepherd theme by giving practical examples of “What Pastors Can Learn from Shepherds.” The title of my talk was How Raising Sheep Molded Me to Be a Better Pastor. Pastors, you might be especially interested in the section “Sheep have to chew their food twice.”

What is the forte’ of the churches in Mexico? Several years ago Kari and I were enjoying lunch with Pastor Waldo Ceron and his wife Rocio. I mentioned that one of the characteristics of The church in America is independence. “What is the outstanding characteristic of the church in Mexico?” I asked. Without a pause, Rocio responded, “Hospitality!” She nailed it, alright. The Mexican people demonstrate God’s love and hospitality to the world in a way like no other. People from all over the world would profit from visiting the Mexican church for this reason alone.

At the communion service closing the conference I got the “goosebumps’ in a good way. I knew the Holy Spirit was there. His presence affirmed our union in Christ. It felt good to be united with genuine brothers and sisters from widely divergent nations.

Another trait of the Mexican church is joy. The 4 second video clip shows s moment in the conference when a bunch of people began to dance. Scores more joined in spontaneous dancing before the Lord. Next, separate lines formed for men and women who sashayed around the auditorium in uninhibited celebration.

What did I personally take home from the conference? Perhaps the call to intercession spoke the clearest. No speaker addressed the topic as a major theme (although several may have mentioned it), but I heard the call from the Holy Spirit. Now I need His grace to follow through.

After the minister’s conference and while enjoying the hospitality of Pastor Marco and Marissa Mendoza, Kari and I escaped for a walk in the park. The radiant flower in red is my wife, Kari. She is an excellent traveler and conversationalist.

What’s the next step?

Let’s continue all this good stuff going on. Then let’s renew our focus on the Great Commissions. I’m thinking not only of the Great Commission of Jesus recorded in Matthew 28. I’m thinking also of the First Great Commission of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit recorded in Genesis 1.

Be Fruitful and Multiply; Fill the earth and Subdue it. (Genesis 1:27) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every movement, every denomination, every church, every leader in Christendom would model and teach simple obedience to each of the Great Commissions of the Bible?

When we do, it will change the world.

How Raising Sheep Molded Me to be a Better Pastor

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead THE Great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, that is, Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

For about 30 years I’ve enjoyed the pleasure–and sometimes the sorrow–of raising sheep–the 4 footed kind. And for over 50 years I’ve had the great privilege of pastoring God’s sheep–the 2 footed kind..

The Bible calls Christians sheep for very good reasons. The similarities are amazing. All we like sheep have gone astray. . . noted the prophet Isaiah.

What Pastors Can Learn from Shepherds

My Sheep Hear My Voice

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me John10:27.

One day a young minister from a big city came to visit our family on the farm. Together we gazed at our sheep in a far away field. “Call the sheep to come home,” I instructed him how to call. “Come sheep, Come sheep!” he called. The sheep cocked their heads but didn’t move. He called again, louder this time. Still no response.

Then I called, “Come sheep, Come sheep!

“Come Sheep! Come Sheep!”

As if moved by an invisible force, each and every sheep turned and walked to the barn in an orderly fashion. I knew they would come when called. My sheep knew my voice and they followed my direction. But a stranger they would not follow.

Pastors, no need to be discouraged if someone leaves our church or doesn’t follow our direction. He is not one of our sheep already. If he follows, he is one of our own.

Contrary to Popular Belief, Sheep are Very Smart

In fact, research indicates sheep remember the face of the one who feeds them for up to two years. Your sheep are not dumb. They figure things out. If I call my sheep to the feed trough but give them no grain, very soon they figure out. “Don’t come when he calls.”

A few years ago I took a survey at our men’s group. I wanted to find out how I was doing. One of the questions on the survey was “Does he always follow through on what he says?” I thought I would nail that one. But to my surprise one of the men gave me a low score on that one. He even gave an example in the comment section of a time I had failed to follow through. I was offended, but the evidence was clear. This sheep was molding me to become a better person and a better shepherd.

The Window for Training is Short

A few years ago we had to disperse our flock. To start again with new animals, my wife wanted to start afresh with very tame animals. We bought two identical milking goats from the same man at the same time. (Alright, these were goats, not sheep, but the illustration works the same). Each was 4 weeks old. We named one Button and the other Pearl. We bottle-fed both the same, expecting each would become tame. Pearl continues peaceful and approachable to this day, but Button is skittish and generally unapproachable. Why?

What happened in the first few days of Button’s life before we purchased her, we don’t know. But I’ve come to learn the opportunity for training is short. If we miss the window of opportunity, it will never return. Baby sheep need to be handled, talked with, fed, prepped, given special attention. They need our tender, loving care. If they don’t get it in the first weeks of life, they grow out of the stage when they will receive it.

How long is the window of opportunity for training new converts in church? I can’t say. It may be weeks or possibly years. But the opportunity for training for some people may be shorter than we think. If we miss it, it may be gone forever.

One young convert came to our church who hung on every word I spoke. He was very teachable. But after a few years, he didn’t seem so teachable. In fact, he began to cause trouble by refusing some of the key doctrines of our fellowship. I have wondered, “If I had spent more time with him in the key doctrines, could we have saved his ministry and avoided trouble in church?

Here’s something I didn’t learn at the barn; rather someone spoke it at a Billy Graham seminar. “Give people jobs before they’re ready.” This statement revolutionized my thinking. I was trained in the exact opposite. “Wait until someone is proven before giving them responsibility in the church.” My mentor insisted a person had the proven character and were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) before giving them a task. Now, I delight to let a fledging try his wings with just about any thing as long as it’s on a temporary basis.

“Get people involved” is my current motto.

Pastors, the window of opportunity to train new people and new converts may be shorter than we think. Spend the time up front, to save trouble in the long run.

Foundations are Essential

This young lamb is happy to show us his Hollywood Smile.

As sheep get older, teeth began to fall out. In fact, a good shepherd can ascertain the age of a sheep by checking the teeth. When an ewe (female sheep ) loses most of her teeth, the condition is called “brokenmouth;.” she is not viable much longer and will eventually pass away.

According to Robert Ewing, teeth represent foundations. Someone recently told me they had a dream that all their teeth fell out. I immediately responded with encouragement that God wanted them to bolster their understanding of foundational doctrines. Hebrew 6:1-2 gives a list of foundational doctrines without which a Christian can not grow into maturity.

Foundations are as essential for Christians as teeth are for sheep. Neither can come to full maturity without them.

Sheep Get Downcast

What Pastors Can Learn from Shepherds

He restores my soul. Psalm 23. This is a picture of a “castled sheep.” It’s called “castle” because the legs are sticking up like towers on castle walls and there’s no way a sheep can turn over to get up. It will eventually die, sometimes in a few hours.

One of the saddest events on the farm is death. Every shepard has felt it.

In my experience, the common cause of a castled sheep is too much wool. When her fleece gets too heavy, she can get off balance. If she falls, she is unable to get back on her feet.

To prevent castling, the shepherd needs to relieve her of her burden. It’s called shearing. Pastor, pay close attention to your most productive people. It’s the heavy producers who can get trapped under a heavy load of responsibility.

Disease Spreads . . . Fast!

Oh, the agony. We once bought a prize ram, the strongest, most musclar ram we had ever possessed. We were so proud of him. We knew he would upgrade our entire flock.

What we didn’t know–he had foot rot. Foot rot is a fungular disease that lives in the soil and spreads from hoof to hoof.

Our prize ram spread foot rot to our entire flock. We ended up dispersing (selling) almost every sheep on the property. Selling the flock seemed the best solution once the disease had infected our ewes.

Gossip can do a lot of damage in a church. Best to deal with it before you have to close down the church.

When I first came to this church, the secretary wanted to do me a favor. She informed me about one of the elders. “He has this problem,” she confided.

I knew right then and there I could not trust this woman. If she would go behind the back of the elder, she would also go behind my back.

With the help of Dr Paul Kienal and others I began to teach the church the Matthew 18 Principle “If your brother sins, go to him in private. “Over the years, I have taught repeatedly the practical steps to prevent gossip from spreading in church.

To this day, the Church of the Living Water is almost entirely “gossip-free.” Praise God!

Sheep are Naturally “Scardy-cats”

When a neighbor’s dog appears, our sheep turn and run. If I drop a bucket, they scram. Even when I carry an unusual object through the pen, they scramble away.

Sheep are largely defenseless, so we have to accept the fact that God gave them the ability to turn and run as their primary defense mechanism.

Formerly, I used to judge people if they could not change schedule quickly. I’ve come to accept that sheep are averse to change. Flexibility may be a virtue for cats, but not for sheep. Sheep are “sheep-eesh!”

Some really good Christians are paralyzed by the thought of evangelism. Others are petrified by the idea that they would ever speak in tongues. Some can’t bear the thought of praying out load in front of others.

Some people love to get in front and talk. Others would rather die than have to give a testimony.

As pastors we need to help people overcome fears, realizing we have fears too.

REALLY SCARED SHEEP

There is one exception to this sheepishness in our sheep. When it comes to feeding, they will push and shove to get to the feed trough. Sheep love to eat.

When it comes to the pasture, sheep love to eat deeply. Cows eat high, four to six inches off the ground. Sheep eat deeply, even killing the grass if they need to get the last centimeter of forage.

Pastors, let’s provide the meal when we find a hungry sheep.

Sheep Cannot Protect Themselves; We Have to Do It for Them

Most sheep breeds have no horns. None have claws. They have no offenseive weapons. God did not make sheep to defend themselves. He made Shepherds to defend the flock.

One year we lost 25 lambs and sheep on our farm. Coyotes and two-legged rustlers were the predators.

We had to take immediate action. We installed two more yard lights to keep both coyotes and rustlers away. We trained the sheep to return to the barn at night.

But face it, one shepherd can only do so much.

Shepherds do not ordinarily stay with the flock 24 hours a day, except perhaps at lambing season. (In Bible times and in some localities that may be possible, but not always.) Some farms use trained dogs to guard their sheep. We chose a llama to stay with and guard the sheep.

Some animals have a natural instinct to guard sheep. One day we found our llama tenderly pawing a downed lamb trying to raise up the little creature.

Applying this to humans, I’ve found some people have a knack or gift of discernment they use to defend the flock. I’m thinking of two women in our church. One was Grandma Norma, who I sometimes called “Eagle Eyes.” If something was wrong or if someone was causing trouble, “Old Eagle-Eye” was sure to let me know. She didn’t overdo it or cause trouble, but I valued her discernment and often acted on the basis of her word. She was called by God to help defend the flock.

Pastor, who do you have in your congregation to help you guard the people?

Sheep Have to Chew Their Food Twice

Sheep have to chew their food twice. When they eat a bite of grass it goes into their first stomach called the rumen. From the rumen the partially digested food travels to the second stomach called the reticulum. Then, amazingly, the food has to go back to the sheep’s mouth for digestion. The sheep then uses its molars to chew the food again. This is called chewing the cud.

If a sheep doesn’t chew its cud, it cannot digest the food; it gets no benefit no matter how good the grass is. Sheep generally chew their cud later, when thy are at rest and lying down.

Let’s apply this to humans. In my younger days, I expected people to hear the Word of God and act. No more. Now I expect people to hear the word and I don’t worry if they seemingly forget about it. Sometime later, the Holy Spirit will remind them of the planted word. They need time and rest before they can chew on it. We call it meditation. Following meditation, lives are changed. That’s how I was healed of cancer. I meditated, and meditated, and meditated on the healing Scriptures. Fully half of my book Answer for Cancer: 9 Keys deals with meditation on the Word of God.

Chewing the cud releases the nutrition. Meditation brings the power of change.

Never Turn Your Back on an Intact Male

Never Turn Your Back . . .

When rams butt, they can be terribly dangerous. Head-butters have crippled, maybe even killed the unwary.

Some Christians don’t act like Christians. Listen to some Bible warnings:

For there are many rebellious people, empty talkers and deceivers . . . who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach . . . . For this reason reprimand them severely so that they may be sound in the faith . . . Titus 1:10-13.

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another. Ezekiel 34:20-22

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds Revelation 2;30-22.

Discipline remains one of the most difficult and riskiest jobs of a shepherd. But it’s got to be done.

Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out,
Even strife and dishonor will cease
Proverbs 22:10.

Shepherds Must Prepare in Advance for Lambing Season

When lambs arrive, they usually come in multiples: twins, triplets, or maybe quads. When lambs start arriving, it’s too late to get supplies. A good shepherd prepares in advance: Extra colostrom, clean the pens, buy the tags, maybe get extra help.

We are believing God for revival. Lambing season will soon come. Is your nursery ready? Is your staff prepared? How about your Sunday School?

Shepherds Learn and Grow

One year our daughter Sarah owned two super quality ewes. Each was full-bodied with stout, short legs and heavy musculature. Each was the type we wanted for improvement in our flock. Each ewe had a history of twins. Very valuable ewes.

As lambing time approached Sarah and I watched her ewes grow heavy with lambs. “They will either have twins or triplets,” I surmised with delight.

But suddenly tragedy struck. One day one of the ewes died. To try to save the baby lambs we attempted a Caesarian section–a surgery that can sometimes save a lamb even if the mother dies provided it is done soon enough. But we discovered the deceased mother too late–we could not save the babies. There were three perfectly formed, large lambs, all dead.

Then tragedy struck again. Soon the other of Sarah’s heavily pregnant ewes also died. We were devastated. In another disparate attempt to save the baby lambs, we tried another c-section. That can work if we find the ewe soon enough after she dies. But this was also futile. The second ewe also was carrying triplets–all large and healthy–if only they had survived. I can still see the babies in my mind’s eye. They looked so sleek and pudgy, like little piggies.

We had just lost 8 prize sheep–two mothers and 6 baby lambs. This was perhaps the saddest memory of all my shepherding days.

It was my fault. I had failed to increase the nutrition of these heavy producers. I was giving them sufficient rations for a mother with twins, but not enough for a mother with triplets.

As I look back, I have to take heart. I am learning. We are better shepherds now than when we started.

As pastors, we’ve learned to listen, we’ve learned how to make hospital visits, how better to preach and lead. How better to pray and hear from God. How to be a better husbands and father. Sure, we will continue to learn and make more mistakes.

Yet pastors, take heart. We are called by God. The only ones who never make a mistake are the ones who never try.

God bless you.

Replace the Law with 4 Essentials

Four essentials effectively replace the law for a believer in Christ Jesus.

One of the greatest obstacles for the believer is to remain under the elemental principles of the world.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery Galatians 5:1.

Here’s the key to understand the place of the Law for a believer. The Law is not abolished (Matt 5:17), but needs to be re-placed. That is, set in a different place. Both Christ Jesus and Paul affirm the place of the law (Matt 5:17 and Romans 3:31), but what is that proper and Scriptural place?

Let me use the analogy of a cabinet with many shelves. If the Law stands on a prominent shelf, it needs be “re-placed,” ( moved) to a different shelf, a secondary shelf, in our mind, emotions and practice.

NOTE: This post deals with the Law of Moses, the Old Testament law and does not pertain to civil law.

The Law is good, if one uses it lawfully 1 Tim 1:8.

But you are not under law but under grace Rom 6:14. Let’s get practical . . .

What Are 4 Re-Placements for the Law in a Believer’s Life?

1 Faith Energized by Love Replaces the Law

In direct reference to the Law of Moses, Paul via the Spirit writes For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love Gal 5:6.

The Greek word used for work is “energew”, which means “to be operative, to be at work, to put forth power.”

This does not mean we can do whatever we want as long as we have faith; rather it means the one who has faith in Christ and is energized by love has the power to accomplish the will and pleasure of God.

2 Love Fulfills the Law and Thereby Replaces the Need for Law

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Let this statement strike with full impact. Here the Scripture proclaims in effect: If you have love for others, you don’t need the Law. in other words, genuine love replaces the Law, Genuine love replaces the 10 commandments and all other parts of the Old Code. Genuine love is the pathway to liberty.

3 Walk by the Holy Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

And again in Galatians 5:18 for emphasis: <i>But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.</i>

The challenge for us as believers is to be led by the Spirit. How are you doing? Is it easier for you to follow a written guide than to follow the ethereal Holy Spirit? For most of us, the answer is “Yes, the written guide is easier.”

However, God has given HIs Holy Spirit for the very purpose that He (not an “It”) will coach us to such an extent that we can actually follow Him in the day-by-day affairs of life.

To deny the Spirit’s purpose of guidance is to make mockery of large amounts of Scripture.

God sent His Spirit to counsel and guide the believer. He expects us to be able o “hear” and follow the Holy Spiirt.

I’m still working on this. I can give examples of times I got this right. And times I’ve got it wrong. But the Scriptural fact remains: God has sent His Spirit to lead us, and if we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law.

4 The Crucified Life Replaces the Law

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world Galatians 6:14.

How can we describe the “crucified life? “It is the life laid down by faith for Jesus Christ. It is an action we make by faith toward Jesus Christ. It is a willingness to give up our motives and desire to Him who went to the cross for us.

Here is Paul’s report: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and]the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me Gal 2:20.

Let me give a couple examples of my journey toward a crucified life.

Some time ago, I felt God wanted me to prophesy in a meeting. I was scared so I did not prophesy. That is an example of a non-crucified life, where my will toppled His will.

More recently, I felt prompted to go to Doug’s house and invite him to church. As an example of a more crucified life, I went and invited him and his wife to church.

As you can tell, I’m still growing.

In Conclusion, How Can We Replace the Law?

The Law has a place in history and even in the life of a believer. The law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (Romans 7:12). But something greater than the Law is here. As believers and in order to live in freedom, we need to replace the law by faith, love, the Holy spirit and the cross of Christ. For you are not under Law, but under grace.

God is Teaching Me Mercy

God is teaching me mega-mercy. I need that. I can be a judgmental type person. The older I grow, the more I realize I need mercy.

Three Stories of How God is Teaching Me Mercy

We have a lot of snow in Muscatine this year. I fell down on my face and banged up my glasses. Later my left lens fell out in the snow. Where exactly it fell, we did not know. I searched in the flower bed, I searched in the walkway, all to no avail. I gave up on the lens. After all, who can find a clear glass lens in the snow? Especially if you don’t know exactly where to look?

The next day our son Samuel was shoveling snow on the walkway. When he heard that I’d lost a lens, he got on his knees and started searching. Lo and behold, he discovered the lens in the snow! Very unusual, I thought.

My wife placed the lens in the glass frame and tightened the minuscule screw. It has not fallen out since, saving us possibly hundreds of dollars. Plus, I can see again. Without glasses I’m lost.

I had a prostate surgery just before the end of 2021. For 30 days I could not lift, push, pull, ride a bicycle or tractor or mower. Frustrating to say the least. During that time, Sam filled our wood box for me. I’m grateful because we heat our house with wood. No wood, no heat.

Most recently, I was helping Sam move items in our pickup truck. The pickup was running noisily. I am not a mechanic, and didn’t know what the problem was, In the middle of the project, just before dark on a snowy night, Sam diagnosed the problem, ordered a new alternator, got the tools and installed the alternator. “You don’t want the alternator to go out on the highway,” he explained.

For judgment will be without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:L3

The Outcome of the Lord’s Teaching

This scripture scares me. It moves me to become a mercy-multiplier. I dare not go through life without God’s great mercy. His mercies are new every morning. I need them. A man just called and requested that I go visit his brother in our local jail. I am making arrangements to visit the fellow in jail.

I really want to be a more merciful man. I have seen the Lord’s teaching. He has moved me. Enough said.

Pew Research Poll: Most Americans Believe In Biblical God, Heaven And Hell, And Purpose For Suffering

Poll: Most Americans Believe In Biblical God, Heaven And Hell, And Purpose For Suffering

Many Americans hold religious convictions including belief in God, belief in heaven and hell, and the belief that God is not to blame for human suffering.

Pamela Danziger

By Pamela DanzigerDECEMBER 8, 2021

If you only watched corporate media’s coverage of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Organization abortion case before the Supreme Court last week, you’d think very few people still believed in Christianity and its values, prominent among which is the belief that life is divinely created and precious. But a recent poll suggests the majority of Americans do express a belief in God.

In a survey of some 6,500 American adults, Pew Research Center found that many Americans still hold religious convictions including a deep and abiding belief in God, belief in heaven and hell, and the belief that God is not to blame for human suffering.

58 Percent Say They Believe in the God of the Bible

In the survey, a majority of Americans (58 percent) define their God as the one described in the Bible. Another one-third (32 percent) believe in a god or spiritual power, although not necessarily that of the Bible. All told, nine in 10 Americans believe in some higher power working in our world.

As for respondents’ religious affiliation, Pew found some 66 percent identified as Christian — 42 percent Protestant and 21 percent Catholic. Another 28 percent claimed no religious affiliation, including 10 percent who were atheist or agnostic and another 18 percent who said they believed “nothing in particular.”

To square these seemingly contradictory survey findings — 58 percent believe in God of the Bible and 66 percent claim Christian religious affiliation — we can assume some professing Christians may not hold to a strictly biblical interpretation of God. Also, many of those who claim they believe nothing in particular still believe in God or a higher power of one kind or another.

Most Americans Believe in Heaven and Hell

Trusting in God means he controls our eternal destiny. Nearly three-fourths of all adult Americans (73 percent) believe in heaven.

Slightly fewer (62 percent) believe in hell, but who can blame them? The prospects of being consigned there for eternity are grim. It’s a place of torment (51 percent believe in physical suffering and 53 percent in psychological anguish) and eternal separation from God (49 percent).

On the other hand, Americans believe heaven is a place where one is free from suffering (69 percent) and where we are given perfectly healthy bodies (60 percent). God is there (62 percent), as are one’s loved ones who’ve passed on (65 percent).

Americans Don’t Blame God for Suffering

The philosophical question of why a good God would allow earthly suffering initially drove Pew to the survey, in which pollsters found some 80 percent of Americans believe the suffering in the world comes from the actions of people, not God.

That’s because God gives us free will. A slightly smaller percentage (about seven in 10) agree with the statement: “Human beings are free to act in ways that go against the plans of God or a higher power.”

There is also a widespread belief that everything in our lives happens for a reason (68 percent) and that reason is part of God’s greater plan (56 percent). Few (14 percent) let the suffering in the world shake their belief in God. Further, some 44 percent believe that Satan is largely responsible for the suffering in the world.

Thanks Be to God

Sometimes bad things just happen — a belief 86 percent of Americans share. When Americans observe terrible things happening in the world, they overwhelmingly give thanks. Some 71 percent report they feel thankful for the good things in their lives when they hear of other tragedies.

When confronted with others’ suffering, they also feel sadness for those affected (62 percent) and 40 percent have a desire to help those in need. It’s not surprising, then, that the United States is the world’s most charitable nation.

Not only do Americans believe in God who has a plan for their lives, they also believe that God hears them and cares for them. Some 67 percent believe they can get a definite answer to prayer, while 46 percent believe they have had their prayers answered.

God is of the spirit and Americans believe there is a spirit in them. For example, some 72 percent believe it is possible to have a near-death experience where their spirit leaves their body.

Beliefs in God, Good, and Evil Are Unshakeable

Despite the fact that this survey shows a level of unorthodox belief — for example, one-third believe in reincarnation — just about all adult Americans (91 percent in total) believe some higher power is in control of the things we cannot control.

That is God. Science or natural causes cannot fully explain the world as we see it and the things that happen in our lives  — a truth with which 83 percent of Americans agree.

As William Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” No matter what religion they profess, Americans are aware that there is more to life — a reason for being — that goes beyond the natural world.

Those of us who come from the Judeo-Christian tradition can explain why belief in God is so prevalent. God has written the knowledge of him and of good and evil on our hearts, as the Bible’s Jeremiah 31:33 says: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

Be it the Judeo-Christian God or some other higher power, most Americans believe God is the only way to explain how the universe came to be and why each of us was placed on this earth at this point in time. It is an unshakeable belief that most Americans profess. God is indeed good.

Pamela Danziger is a market researcher specializing in the study of consumer behavior and motivation. Author of ten books, she shares insights as a senior contributor on Forbes.com. And as a Christian, she is co-founder of Faith Underground. She holds an M.L.S. from University of Maryland and B.A. in English Literature from Penn State.Photo ItalyGuides.it / YouTube

Published in The Federalist on Dec 8, 2021

Jim McCraken Leads Young Man to Christ

Jim McCracken Leads Young Man to Christ
Jim McCracken Leads Young Man to Christ

Hi Mark,


Sounds like your Thanksgiving service was excellent!


Before Thanksgiving I led a teenager to the Lord. I was speaking to a group about God being the great designer. I said “you are designed by God” and shared from Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which the Lord has prepared in advance for us to do. I paused to see if anyone wanted to come to Christ and begin to walk in his design for them. So the young man responded and I shared the gospel with him after the meeting and prayed with him to repent, receive forgiveness, and begin his life with the Lord as his designer!


Blessings to All!


Jim

An Outpouring of Joy in Muscatine

An Outpouring of Joy in Muscatine

“We felt the joy of the Lord, and people came out more grateful than when they came in,” enthused Eriberto and Elena Gomez as they departed the Community in Unity Thanksgiving Celebration.

Success, Success, Success, best describes the event “One Community in Unity ’’ hosted by the Church of the Living Water of Muscatine on Wednesday. November 24, 2021 from 5pm to 8: 30pm.

This event was the dream of Pastor Mark Anderson to reunite the local churches for a Thanksgiving Eve community service. This dream was brought to life by Pastors Ethan Anderson (Church of the Living Water), Terry Warnstaff (Torre Fuente (Strong Tower) Church, English services, Ray Oehme of the Vineyard Church, and Lt. Greg Brock of the Salvation Army.

The event started with intercessory prayers from 5pm-6 pm lead by Tom Lee of Living Water, assisted by Rev. Kevin Powell of Trinity Episcopal Church and the amazing prayer warrior team of Adam and Noemi Santiago from Torre Fuente Church.

Pastor Ray Oehme from Vineyard Church led a community-based band which provided the praise and worship for the evening.

Rather than a sermon, several local pastors interspersed the outpouring of praise and gratitude with short snippets of Scripture and encouragement.

Pastor Brian Oliver of Wesley United Methodist reminded the churches that “God will supply your needs, the secret is contentment.”

LT. Elizabeth Brock of Salvation Army reminded all to let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Chino Jimenez of Calvary Baptist Church with help from Ethan Anderson got people laughing and reminded everyone that it is okay to be thankful for the little things.

The excitement of unity among the churches coupled with the outpouring of gratitude and praise to God caught up the people in an ecstacy of joy that prevailed over the gathering.

We captured some comments following the gathering:

Denise Williams, “God is good all the time.”

Morris Nunn, “It’s a blessing to get the community together.”

Richard Nazareth, “Loved it, an answer to prayer, denominational walls have fallen.”

And Eriberto & Elena Gomez, “An atmosphere of Christian unity, we felt the joy of the Lord,”

The evening ended with an array of pies and cakes for the pleasure of all the attendees. Lori Lotz summed up the attitude of the evening as she experienced the joy and unity of the churches, “We should do this every year!”

Myth #4: There is a War on Cancer

Myth #4: There is a War on Cancer
Myth #4: There is a War on Cancer

War on cancer? The above quote from Dr. Linus Pauling requires a pause. . . .and a cause to think. Let’s examine the history of this “war.”

In 1970, the American people made clear their desire for a cure for the second-leading cause of death in the United States. President Nixon responded during his January 1971 State of the Union address: 

“I will also ask for an appropriation of an extra $100 million to launch an intensive campaign to find a cure for cancer, and I will ask later for whatever additional funds can effectively be used. The time has come in America when the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dread disease. Let us make a total national commitment to achieve this goal.”

President Richard Nixon

On December 23, 1971, President Nixon followed through on his promise as he signed the National Cancer Act into law, declaring, “I hope in the years ahead we will look back on this action today as the most significant action taken during my Administration.”

So far, so good . . .

At least 2 bilion dollars are spent annualy to fund the “war on cancer.”

But Dr. Linus Pauling Says

Linus Pauling, PhD and two time Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, one of the founders of quantum chemistry and molecular biology and also a peace activist, criticized most cancer research being done. “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud, and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them.” 

The U.S. General Accounting Office Exposes the National Cancer Institute

The age adjusted total cancer mortality rate climbed steadily for decades until the early 1990s, when the rate started to fall slowly, due largely to reduced smoking. To encourage continued support for cancer research, now exceeding two billion dollars annually in the U.S. alone; researchers and administrators have misled the public.

In 1987, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) found that the statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) “artificially inflate the amount of ‘true’ progress”, concluding that even simple five-year survival statistics were manipulated. The NCI termed five-year survival a “cure” even if the patient died of the cancer after the five-year period.

Also, by ignoring well known statistical biases, the NCI falsely suggested advances had been made in certain cancer therapies. 

The U.S. General Accounting Office is non-partison and generally regarded as reliable.

So Is There a War on Cancer?

Dr. Pauling and the GAO dispute the “war” or at least the effectiveness of it. As someone who has lived inside the cancer world, I have come to regard the war on cancer as common cancer myth #4.

My next post is myth #5: Cancer is caused by a demon. If you are a Spirit-filled believer in the bible, this post could be a life-changer.