Hall Of Fame / Hall Of Faith

My son and I saw the Bronx Bombers (Yankees) play against the Houston Astros last night (Monday, October 16, 2017) in the third game of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees are winners of twenty seven (27) world championships.  Yankee Stadium is the heart and soul, and nerve center for the game of baseball.  The people of the Bronx borough of New York City are hard working blue collar folks and they are patriotic.  They unfurled a gigantic American flag across the entire field prior to singing the National Anthem.  Chants of U.S.A. were heard throughout the stadium.  The seventh inning stretch later on, produced a patriotic medley of music, including God Bless America.  I was grateful to be at this playoff game with my son.

In Yankee Stadium, Monument Park is a section where the teams’ Hall Of Fame players are memorialized on large plaques:  Men like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and well over thirty others.  It is a great commemoration of one hundred and seventeen years of baseball.

Aaron Judge is the current superstar on this illustrious team.  He is a twenty five year old rookie who has taken the city by storm, hitting fifty two home runs during the regular season, and he is a candidate for Most Valuable Player (MVP).  Much more importantly, he is humble, reminiscent of the former Yankee Lou Gehrig.  Both are awesome players blessed with humility.  (Aaron Judge hit a three run home run in the game we saw and made a great catch in right field).

All of the above is very enjoyable in the mundane, but has no real lasting spiritual and eternal impact.  I would like to translate the above words that were highlighted in red, into the spiritual:  Yankee Stadium seems like heaven to a lot of folks who have a tremendous passion for the New York Yankees and baseball.  But it is not eternal, it is not heaven, and it will one day pass away.  The Lord’s real heaven is eternal, it will last forever, and is so wonderful that it is far beyond our comprehension.

1 Corinthians 2:9  New King James Version (NKJV)
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The Hall Of Fame includes the best players who have ever graced a baseball diamond. but their deeds and exploits will one day pass from memory.  It is the Hall Of Faith, Hebrews chapter 11, which contains the lives of the faithful, whose deeds have already had an eternal impact and will be remembered forever and ever.  A cross section of the faithful saints are mentioned in Hebrews 11, and the chapter closes with the following profound passage, depicting the great importance of faithful people in the eyes of the Lord:

Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Aaron Judge is the current star on this team.  When he appears at the plate and is up to bat, the crowd cheers “All rise!” since his name is Judge.  Some even wear a judges’ robe in his honor.  But one day his baseball career will be over.  So let us focus on the eternal Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Corinthians 5:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Hebrews 1  English Standard Version (ESV)
The Supremacy of God’s Son
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
10 And,
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.[a]
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.

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I enjoy baseball and the roar of the crowd.  But if the world can get excited about temporal pursuits that will soon pass away, how much more passion should the Christian born from above have.  When Jesus comes in judgment, “every eye shall behold Him, every tongue will confess Him as Lord, and every knee shall bow before Him.”  Let us use every fiber in our being to magnify the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and “so much the more, as we see that day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:25b)

All Because Of Him, Pastor Steve

 

Pray For Revival In America!

 

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Great News For Evangelical Christians

If you would like to say goodbye forever to establishment Republicans, and be a part of a movement that better represents our core values and beliefs, there seems to be hope…

SENATE 1 hour ago
Emboldened Bannon enlists evangelicals to take on McConnell, entire GOP establishment

By Joseph Weber, Fox News

Steve Bannon: Senator Corker is an absolute disgrace
Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, on Saturday rallied evangelicals and other base supporters, urging them to defeat the Republican establishment as they recently did in Alabama and boldly predicting a commanding Trump re-election victory.
“They fear you because they understand you’ve had a belly full of it, and you’re taking your country back,” Bannon told social conservatives at the annual Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. “They understand you’re the transmission of the best values of the Judeo-Christian West.”
Bannon was able to channel his and his followers’ long-held distain for the Washington establishment into enough votes to help Trump in his 2016 White House victory.

His return to Breitbart News, after leaving the White House last month, and his all-out effort to help conservative firebrand Judge Roy Moore last month defeat establishment candidate Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s recent special GOP Senate election has empowered him to take on others — including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and retiring Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker.
“In Alabama, the elites, the permanent political class as personified by Mitch McConnell, raised more than $30 million to go after good and righteous man Roy Moore,” Bannon told the crowd.
“The one thing we proved in Alabama, and you guys proved, is that more than anything else money doesn’t matter anymore,” Bannon continued. “In the days of the digital era … a good man with good ideas and good people behind him can beat any amount of money.”
Bannon has now turned much of his attention on McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is the standard-bearer for the GOP establishment. Like Trump, Bannon is upset that McConnell has thus far failed to execute the president’s conservative legislative agenda, particularly repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
Though Trump has publically criticized McConnell’s efforts and turned to congressional Democrats for a legislative win, Fox News confirmed Saturday that they are scheduled to meet next week to discuss a path forward.
Bannon on Saturday also came to Trump’s side in his battle with Corker, who has questioned Trump’s ability to lead the country.
“Bob Corker, a real piece of work,” said Bannon, who suggested the senator isn’t seeking re-election in 2018 because he knows he’’ll lose and suggested that GOP senators who didn’t chastise Corker for disrespecting the presidency could also be targeted for defeat.
Bannon said “the populist, nationalist, conservative revolt that drove Judge Moore to victory, that will drive 15 candidates to victory in 2018” will also give Trump 400 electoral votes in 2020.

 

Pray For Revival In America!

 

 

 

Sword Of The Lord Newspaper / June 16, 2017 / Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor

Amen Corner

We have come to a time when we are continually on the defensive.  We dig our little spiritual foxholes and pile up our sandbags with our little spiritual peashooters and try to keep the Devil from getting us, when we ought to be marching out like an army and having the Devil run from us.  -Curtis Hutson

The basic trouble with the church today is her unworthy concept of God….Our religion is weak because our [view of] God is weak….Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending on her concept of God.  -A.W. Tozer

We are always trying to “find ourselves” when that is exactly what we need to lose.  -Vance Havner

No person was ever honored for what he received.  Honor has been the reward for what he gave.  -Calvin Coolidge

If called to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.  -Charles H. Spurgeon

Many a man aims at nothing and hits it with remarkable precision.

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Headlines Across The Nation

Twenty-One Abortion Clinics Have Closed in 2017; Planned Parenthood Has Shut Down Twenty Since 2010

School to Teacher: Don’t Pray for Your Colleagues

Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Baptist Pastors Lead Rally for Abortion

Cuban Pastor Gets One Year in Prison for Homeschooling His Children

Liberal North Carolina Pastors Dedicate Former Church Building to Islam

Planned Parenthood is Ditching the Failed “Pro-Choice” Label

Gloria Steinem Backs Abortion Because “Forced Childbirth Is The Single Biggest Cause of Global Warming”

Jakarta’s Christian Governor Imprisoned for Blasphemy

Washington Pastor Says He Doesn’t Care What the Bible Says About Homosexuality

American Deaths From Drug Overdoses in 2015 Equal Number of American Deaths in Vietnam War

Professor Tells Students to Stop Reading Bible

Dad Asks School Board:  When “Did You Decide That It Was Okay to Teach My Children About Islam?”

Middle School Teaches Students That Historic Islam Was Tolerant of Other Religions

New York Library Presents “Drag Queen Story Hour” to Kids

Minneapolis Mayor Speaks at Mosque to Reassure Muslims She Stands With Them

CBS Poll Claims Support for Marijuana Legalization Is at an All-Time High

Pennsylvania City Council Removes Bench With Quote From William Penn

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Read The Bible

Read the Bible, and it brings you into the association of the best people that ever lived.  You stand beside Moses and learn his meekness; beside Job and learn his patience; beside Abraham and learn his faith; beside Daniel and learn his courage to do right; beside Isaiah and learn his fiery indignation toward evildoing; beside Paul and catch something of his enthusiasm; beside Christ and feel His love.  -Charles H. Spurgeon

 

A Pastor’s Memoirs And Journal On Personal Brokenness And Suffering

Below is a pastor’s personal testimony about suffering, sacrifice and brokenness in the ministry.  It is his story from the school of hard knocks and his autobiography.  In order to grow into Christlikeness, suffering is not an option, it comes with the turf.  As we grow in the image of Jesus, we count the “fellowship of His suffering” as gain.  Blessings, Pastor Steve  <><

***********************************

Written by a dear pastor and friend who chooses to remain anonymous:

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in the book of Isaiah 66, verses 1 and 2:

1 “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

As I attempt to write this essay on the subject of broken things, I write from the perspective of one who ministers to those who have been broken; and in this exchange, those who have been hurt can often hurt those who are trying to help them.  As one who has spent the majority of my life thus far in the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can tell you at times, sheep will bite the hands that feed them.

During times of conflict or even confrontation, I must remind myself of the words of Christ when He Himself said:  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34  Those who answer the high calling of God to minister to the broken must also be broken themselves.  I am not implying that the ministry is to be depressing or desponding, but the man of God is also not to present himself as a Lord over God’s heritage, as one who is puffed up, arrogant, or proud, but we are reminded of this command by the half brother of our Lord.  James, who shared the same mother as that of Immanuel, instead chose to identify himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…  [James 1:1]  He continued to remind us of the necessity of humility and brokenness in James 4:6  “But He giveth more grace, Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”  I personally have had to guard from allowing others to exalt myself to something greater than I am.  I have had to decline offers of pastor’s parking in the front of a new building addition we built on our church property in Punta Gorda – I chose rather to suggest we use that spot for visitors.  I also had to respectfully decline for a church in Jacksonville to hang a large picture of my wife and I in the foyer of our church, so the first thing the visitors and members would see would be me.  I plainly told them if you want to hang a picture of anyone, hang a picture of Jesus there.

However, just as a minister must know how to guard himself from being exalted by those he leads through the service of the Lord, a minister must also know how to conduct himself in the times of brokenness and injury from those he is trying to love.  Often times a pastor can find himself in the middle of a conflict or dispute that truly has nothing to do with himself.  I recently found myself trying to bring peace between two families within my congregation who are united by a marriage that neither family wanted.

I find myself very often claiming the promise found in the humble brother of our Lord who was known for his knees that were as a camel, when he declared:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”  [James 1:5]  I have stood on this promise through prayer in every one of the five churches where I have been blessed to serve as their pastor.  During times of great difficulty and brokenness I have asked our precious Father to anoint me with this wisdom that He promised to give to those who ask him.  In the early years of my pastoral ministry, I had to depend on the Lord to guide me through traditional divides, and try to include members and leaders who we in times past would not use.  This included faithful members who had been divorced and remarried before I was even born.  I also had the blessing to allow our wonderful female members the ability to have a voice in business matters whereas for decades before they were not allowed.  I also had the lot to fall upon me to allow the incorporation of newer praise and worship music like Hillsong’s “Shout to the Lord,” and Jack Hayford’s “Majesty,” to a congregation who prided themselves in holding solely to the standard of the hymnal.

I will never forget when one of our members who himself was a retired senior pastor, who I greatly admired in my childhood, sat before me and told me that because of my going against his traditions, he could make it happen that I would never pastor again, and furthermore he could make it to where I would lose my home, and my wife and young daughter would be homeless.  I could not believe my ears, but instead of mistreating this man who was old enough to be my grandfather, I chose to continue to show him respect and honor.  The old retired pastor watched as the small church that he had founded in Brooksville, Florida, next to a junk yard and across the street from a crack house, had gone from an attendance of eighteen on our first Sunday to one hundred and sixty six, when we left to go to Fort Myers five years later.  Even after we left, I continued to love him and his wife, even inviting him to preach in various churches that I pastored throughout the state.  I will never forget shortly before he passed away and years after I left Brooksville, this once pastor of pastors, and leader of leaders, came to me with tears in his eyes at our International Assembly in North Carolina, and asked me to officiate his funeral when he died.  Several months later I stood before this man, who had built many church buildings and pastored many churches, and was able to lift up a life, that he too, had to go through a period of brokenness as the Lord lovingly allowed a change in his heart to guide him from the traditions of the past to the truth we find in Malachi 4:6  “And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….”  I will forever be grateful for the lessons I have learned in times of BROKENNESS.

2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Part 66

This article represents the final installation of this prophecy conference.  It was a lot of work to listen to every speaker, but what a blessing to finally complete this monumental task!  If you read and peruse the 66 articles, you will glean the main topics and teachings from each and every instructor.  In Christ, Pastor Steve

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Dr. Kevin Clarkson   ~  Interview / Hagmann & Hagmann, Followed By The Closing Ceremony

Pastors are shepherds but we are also sheep.  We need to come apart and be fed also.  Many pastors are there but they are not engaged.  Some are angry or discouraged.  The Bible says:  “Strike the shepherd and the sheep scatter.”  Pastors leave the ministry every week, and that leaves the sheep without a shepherd.

Pastors need to abide in Christ, through the Word and in prayer.  The Spirit of God and the Word of God is an explosive and volatile combination.  A lot of pastors get busy and sidetracked, and fail to get alone with God.  The key to overcoming depression or burnout in ministry is to get with God and wait upon Him and you will mount up with the wings of eagles.

Dr. Kevin Clarkson stands on the shoulders of J.R. Church who founded Prophecy In The News decades ago.  The feeling in this ministry is that time is short and we must be serious in light of what is going on in the world.  Kevin’s vision is to pray for the persecuted church around the world.  Americans have lived in a religious liberty bubble which is unique in all of history.  The rest of the church throughout history has been hunted down, persecuted and martyred.  America has been the exception and not the rule.  Christians are being threatened in America as of late and we need to rise.  We need to run for office, be a voice, and defend our freedoms.  Bill Federer:  “Our most important job is to preach the Gospel.  Our second most important job is to defend our right to preach the Gospel.”  Billy Graham use to say he had the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other hand.  We must look at the Bible in the lens or prism of our time.  Christ is coming.  He could come before this broadcast is over.

Christians in America are being labeled as extremists.  The human rights campaign is saying that sexual liberty is more important than religious liberty.  Sexual liberty is making America go down.  We are being set aside by the Lord because of our sin.  China has passed us economically, and Russia has risen above us militarily, through the number of nuclear warheads they have.  There seems to be a desire to make worship a private issue for people in America.  The separation of church and state has been a misunderstood issue in our times.  The idea behind it is to keep the government out of the church, and NOT to keep the church out of the government.  We need to be strong with resolve and courage, and we also need to be gracious.  We were founded as a Judaeo Christian nation.  The church has been tax exempt, but with an 18 trillion dollar deficit and counting, our government will pursue every source of revenue they can find.  Churches are a rich target.  We must support Prophecy in the News.  Winston Churchill saved the world when he refused to surrender in World War II, and Benjamin Netanyahu is a similar leader today.  Bibi would like us to stand with him but even if we do not, Israel will never give in or surrender.

Kevin Clarkson stated that Western Civilization would fall to Islam in a matter of years if everything stays the same and the Lord does not return.  It may be that the torch of Christianity has been passed to Africa and Asia, where they are already persecuted – they are a lot more serious about their faith.  Everyday, over 8,000 people receive Christ in the underground church in China.  The Chinese Christians want to march back to Jerusalem with the Gospel.  This is the power of the Gospel and the Spirit of God.  In America, we must lose our indifference and become on fire for the Lord.  We need to get in our closet and pray.  George Washington said in the Revolution:  “Trust God to keep your powder dry.”  Let us do all that is humanly possible, and trust God to do all that is divinely possible.

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Closing Ceremony

Dr. Kevin Clarkson thanked the audience for their hunger, thirst and zeal for the Lord.  The United States is not going to stand with Israel now, and we are going to suffer for that.  God will curse those who curse Israel.  Israel may soon strike her enemies.  Noah prepared for the flood.  We need to prepare for the end times.  Be HOT.  Be HOLY.  Be HOPEFUL.  Be Spirit filled.  Abide in the Lord and be close to Christ – be in the Word and be in prayer.  Be HOLY.  We do not want to be ashamed at His coming.  Be HOPEFUL.  Be looking for the blessed hope, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

An amazing feature of this prophecy conference was the spiritual oneness of the speakers.  The Pre Tribulation Rapture was believed by all of them.  They all recognized the errors of the emerging church.  Their mutual spiritual discernment put them all on the same page.  Interestingly, these men all came from totally different backgrounds and did not know one another in nearly every case.  Their oneness is the oneness that all true saints who are born from above experience together.  It is a God thing.

Maranatha, Pastor Steve

Christ The Creationist

The Bible is full of affirmations for a recent creation, if one properly reads, exegetes, and believes in it!  Both Old and New Testaments confirm this fact to be true.  Jesus Christ also validates this often, and a couple more of His references are cited below, in the devotional “Days Of Praise” from the Institute For Creation Research.  This article was written by their founder, Dr. Henry M. Morris:

Christ the Creationist
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Oct. 5, 2017
“For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” (Mark 13:19)
In predicting a future judgment on the unbelieving world, the Lord Jesus referred to “the beginning of the creation which God created,” thus affirming the biblical doctrine of supernatural, sudden creation. In the pagan world of His day, evolutionism was dominant almost everywhere. The Epicureans, for example, were atheistic evolutionists. The Stoics, Gnostics, Platonists, and others were pantheistic evolutionists. None of the extra-biblical philosophers of His day believed in a God who had created all things, including even the universe itself.
But Christ was a creationist, and the much-maligned “scientific creationists” of today are following His example and teaching. He even believed in recent creation, for He said (speaking of Adam and Eve) that “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). The pagans all believed in an eternal cosmos, but Jesus said it had a beginning and that man and woman were a part of that beginning creation, following which “the sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).
He also believed that the “two accounts” of creation (Genesis 1 and 2) were complementary, not contradictory, for He quoted from both in the same context. “Have ye not read,” He said, “that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female [Genesis 1], And said For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? [Genesis 2]” (Matthew 19:4-6).
There may be some Christians who are evolutionists, but there is no such thing as “Christian evolution,” for Christ was a creationist! HMM

From Voice Of The Martyrs…

This pastor is prepared for persecution.

Until His Last Breath
Jatya, a pastor in southern India, is happy to show visitors one of his prized possessions. It’s a manila envelope stuffed with old newspaper clippings. The fading pages recount Jatya’s walk of faith through eight separate instances of persecution.

The first clip dates to 1992, when police ordered Jatya to stop sharing Christ with villagers. After he refused to sign a police document, they broke all his fingers. Three years later, he was beaten and thrown in jail for a week. Another time, a Hindu neighbor beat Jatya with a bicycle chain.

After each instance of persecution, Jatya’s response was the same: he grabbed his Bible and went back to work telling others in his village about Christ. After all, he reasoned, everyone needs to hear the Good News!

Give to Help Persecuted Christians

Jatya’s most recent brush with persecution came after he shared the gospel with a young man in his village. An angry mob of radical Hindus surrounded Jatya and beat him until he lost consciousness. VOM paid for his medical treatment after the incident.

For Jatya, the beating wasn’t the important thing about the incident. The most important part of the story, he says, is that the young man became a believer in Jesus! Jatya said he hopes that someday he’ll meet each member of the mob that beat him so he can share Christ with them.

When asked if he was worried about the next time he faces persecution, Jatya quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 — “God has not given us a spirit of fear. …”

“Until my last breath,” Jatya says, “I want to serve and live my life for Jesus.”

The Offense Of The Cross (Part 2 of 2)

The Offense Of The Cross

Galatians 5:11  King James Version (KJV)
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

Consider why the cross is an offense today:

1)The cross of Christ condemns the world.  The thief on the cross who was saved, saw Jesus as He really was, and himself for what he was.  Sin reveals that we fall short of God’s demands.  It is the gigantic evil, the transgression towards God.  Sin leaves us far from God’s holy nature.  It leaves us no hope, we must pay the price.  “The soul that sins shall die.”  Sin lies upon our conscience – we lie in bed with insomnia, dreams and nightmares.  Jesus was made sin and a curse for us – He put away our sins and the condemning power.  There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  But the world is offended by the crucified God/man, suspended on a stick, and told this is the only way you can be saved.  An illustration would be Madalyn Haira and her hatred of the cross.  She actually desired for the state flag of Maryland to be changed since there was a cross on it, even though it did not depict the cross of Christ.  Another example is the movie, The Last Temptation, which made Jesus a sinner just like you and me.  Furthermore, the National Arts submerged a cross in urine in order to portray their disdain of the cross.  The first funeral that I officiated, dealt with a murder/suicide.  I spoke a eulogy to the county Rescue Squad.  When I preached on sin and the cross, the congregation was offended and they filed out.  Here is the “eulogy” that offended them:  “There are none righteous, no not one.”  Madonna, another name for the Virgin Mary, is another example of one who despises the cross of Christ.  She is offended by the cross and wears several in mockery.  The press claimed it was her trademark.  I beg to differ.  She wore it but never bore it.  She was noted for the perverted quotation:  “I love the crucifix because there is a naked man on it.”  Wrong Madonna – the cross and the tomb are empty.  Jesus Christ died for the sins of Madonna, you and me.  Many throughout the world, at work and school, curse Jesus Christ and are offended by the cross.  They feel self sufficient.  Have you ever heard of Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed cursed?  Of course not, they bore no cross.  The cross is an offense because “…men loved darkness because their deeds are evil.”  The cross throws light into the dark recesses of our soul and reveals our sins – the cross becomes an offense because it condemns us as sinners.

2)The cross is an offense because blood was shed there.  Unbelievers accuse us of a “slaughterhouse religion.”  But the Bible tells us that the shed blood of our Savior on Mount Calvary is our only hope:  “Without the shedding of the blood there is no remission of sins.”  Amen and amen.

3)The cross sets up an imperative ideal life.  Jesus said:  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, carry his cross, and follow me.”  This imperative eliminates the church crowd.  Many people “have a form of religion and godliness but deny the power thereof.”  There is an outward show, but little evidence of the real Christian life and the new birth.  They are offended by real Christianity.  Jesus always thinned out the ranks and never sought the popular “gospel.”  Today, big churches often seek mass membership, and do not stress the new birth, the cross, the blood, true salvation and the need to repent from sin.  Today’s country club has an organization, members, reports, and programs, but is not one of self denial.  Even Jesus’ large crowd did not want self denial.  They desired the kingdom, the crowd, and to rule and live in a palace – they did not want to go to the cross with Jesus.  We shudder at a life like Jesus, refusing to surrender what the cross condemns.  

4)The cross is an offense because it claims to be the power and salvation of God.  The first duty of every man  is to get right with God.  Man does not like this, and wants to believe that many roads lead to heaven.  Jesus said the gate is narrow, and at the beginning of the gate is the cross, and one cannot enter but by the cross.  The cross humbles, demands, and expects everything we have to be given to Christ.  The cross condemns every other way of salvation.  Acts 4:12  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  If people tell you that you are narrow minded, you can share with them that “narrow is the way to the kingdom, there be few who find it.”       

The Offense Of The Cross (Part 1 of 2)

The Offense Of The Cross

Galatians 5:11  King James Version (KJV)
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

The cross represents the true Christian Church.  The symbol is on and/or in every church.  Then there is the Red Cross organization, people wear the cross, it is placed on cars, and on Bibles.  Christ’s pulpit is often in the shape of a cross.  The event of the cross is the foundation of our faith.  For the Christian, the cross alone is our theology.  The knowledge of God comes through the crucified Christ.  Love outside of the cross is really not God’s love – we learn of God’s love through the cross, and not by any other means.  Worldlings follow horoscopes.  The cross is the sign of a believer.  The world sees the cross through good Friday alone.  The believer sees the cross through Easter Sunday and Resurrection Day.  The cross is a mystery and a paradox.  Just as Jesus was crucified and resurrected, we now struggle and bear our cross.  Believers will have our resurrection later.  The resurrection is life through death, strength through weakness, hope through despair, recovery through loss, suffering, folly, persecution, and joy through sorrow.  For Paul, the scandal of the cross dominates the believer’s life.  The cross stands before those who say the Christian life is a bowl of cherries.  Following Jesus is sharing His suffering.  There is no by passing rejection and death, to eternal life and the glory of the risen Christ.  There is no “pie in the sky / you can have it all now” Christianity.  Suffering, humiliation, and rejection are hallmarks of our faith, and evidence of true discipleship.  The cross of Christ is forsaking everything and clinging to Christ alone.  It is the center of God’s truth revealed to man.  But to many,

the cross is an offense:  Offense comes from the Greek word- scandalon, from which we get the word scandal.

Jesus said, “If you are going to follow me, you have to take up the cross.”  Today we might say “…take up your gas chamber or electric chair.”  We must die to self before Christ can reign in our hearts.  In our scripture text, the Judaizers, through the works of circumcision, sought to rob Christians of their freedom in Christ.  Legalists always avoid the themes of persecution and “the offense of the cross,” by insisting on circumcision and law-keeping.  If Paul preached legalism, he would not be persecuted.  Circumcision and the cross are opposed – Paul could not preach both – if he did – the offense of the cross would cease.  The “offense” is the foolishness and stumbling block of the cross.  The cross uproots the doctrine of salvation by human merit.  Salvation is through grace alone – and there can be no compromise.  The offensiveness of the cross to self righteous legalists is that salvation is by grace without circumcision and obedience to the law.  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  (Galatians 5:9)  One work added to the cross perverts it all!

Sword Of The Lord ~ May 19, 2017 ~ Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor

What in the World is Happening to Marriage?

More Americans 50 years and older are copying younger generations and eschewing marriage, opting instead to live with their partners, according to new research.

In 2016 about 18 million Americans were cohabiting, defined as living with an unmarried partner; and nearly a quarter of them were people over 50, an increase of 75 percent since 2007, data released on April 6, 2017, from Pew Research Center showed….

Fewer marriages, changing social norms and women’s greater economic independence are other explanations for the rise, Stepler added….

Pew found that 27 percent of people 50 years and older who are cohabiting have never married, while more than half are divorced and 13 percent are widowed.   -Yahoo.com

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Amen Corner

To see what is right and not do it is cowardice.  It is never a question of who is right but what is right.  -John Buchan

The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teaching of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.  -Calvin Coolidge

We would have more peace of mind if we gave away fewer pieces of our minds.         -Vance Havner

Some people’s religion is so spiritual that they cannot endure to hear of money and they faint at the sound of a collection.        -Charles Spurgeon

The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult and left untried.  -G. K. Chesterton

We talk about Heaven’s being so far away.  No, it is within speaking distance to those who belong there.  -D.L. Moody