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March 2009
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May 2009

H1N1 Flu

I do not want to take our most current health risk lightly.  From everything I read, it is a serious problem that is spreading quickly. I urge you take whatever precautions you feel you must take. I just wanted to share what I do when faced with a dilemma such as this.  To describe it, I would like to talk about my trip to Afghanistan on a missions trip a few years ago.

When I went to Kabul, the capital city, it was right after the war in Iraq had started and the war in Aghanistan had finished, not the best time for an American to be in Afghanistan.  I was there as part of a missions team that was teaching a business seminar at Kabul University and I was there for three weeks.  I was one of two Americans on the team.  The rest were from the Philippines, Korea and Canada.

We began each morning at 7 AM with two hours of group prayer and devotions for the 30 of us who lived together in two homes.  Since residents had thrown hand grenades at the group van just weeks before I arrived, believe me when I tell you that no one missed morning prayer.  (On the day before I left Kabul, we found out that our team had been targeted by a bomb squad from the university engineering department.)

During our morning prayer session, we would all stand and recite Psalm 91 and that is the point I want to make in this post.  We took those words seriously and stood on them every day as we went about the business at hand.  God protected us and He has protected and will protect you. As this pandemic sweeps the world, would this be a good way to start or end your day?  In case it is, here is the psalm in its entirety so you won't even have to go look it up.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
       will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

 2 I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
       my God, in whom I trust."

 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
       and from the deadly pestilence.

 4 He will cover you with his feathers,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

 5 You will not fear the terror of night,
       nor the arrow that flies by day,

 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
       nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 7 A thousand may fall at your side,
       ten thousand at your right hand,
       but it will not come near you.

 8 You will only observe with your eyes
       and see the punishment of the wicked.

 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
       even the Lord, who is my refuge-

 10 then no harm will befall you,
       no disaster will come near your tent.

 11 For he will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you in all your ways;

 12 they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
       you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 14 "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
       I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
       I will be with him in trouble,
       I will deliver him and honor him.

 16 With long life will I satisfy him
       and show him my salvation."


God Is Not Great

No, I haven't lost my mind!  The title of this post is the title of a book I just finished by Christopher Hitchens, with the full title, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.  I saw this book and thought that it could be useful to read what the atheists are saying these days.  It was a bit tedious, for Hitchens is passionate about proving his case that religion spoils everything and I thought he made a few good points. His British accent makes him sound more authoritative than he really is, and my wife has seen him on TV and feels he is arrogant.  If you think you understand God, then you are indeed arrogant. 

Hitchens doesn't just attack Christianity, although the majority of the book is directed toward (or against) Christians.  Where he and I would greatly differ, however, is that he lays the blame for religion's mess at God's feet and consequently "refuses" to believe in Him!  Would you agree that isn't a very effective strategy?

I came out of the book thinking about the flood of counterfeit doctrines and conclusions about God and His existence.  There is only one reason why there is ever a counterfeit and that is because there is the real, whether it concerns money or God!  The mess that Hitchens descibes is partly the result of the "depravity of man" -- we are not totally evil but incapable of doing much good -- and partly due to a devilish plot to convince mankind that there is no God.

So I can't say listening to the book was a waste of time, for it wasn't.  Yet I came away more convinced in the reality of God and evil, a result that I am sure would distress Hitchens no end.  My conclusion is that Hitchens isn't far from the truth. If he would just remove one word in his title, the word "not," he would arrive at the truth.  I also sensed that he may not be as far away from the Kingdom as he would like us to believe.  There is nothing wrong with anyone sorting through the religious rubble to find the true God. I hope that Hitchens' search isn't over completely. 


Revelation

I have been teaching a class this term on Messianic Prophecies: The Old Testament in the New.  First we studied typology, the principle that many of the things in the OT are simply shadows of what was to come in the New, and then covenant theology, the fact that God relates to mankind through a series of binding agreements that outline mutual responsibilities.  The last part of the class has focused on the book of Revelation and the study of eschatology or the end times.

During our last few weeks, I have been disturbed once again with some of the bizarre interpretations of the book of Revelation.  I had the chance to pull out my own devotional studies of Revelation and read them to the class. I did not attempt to define what "666" means or who the Antichrist is or may be.  In my book, I determined to recapture the promise found in Revelation 1:3: "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." 

When is the last time Revelation was a blessing to you when you read it?  If it's been a while, it's because of how the book has been misread and misused.  With that in mind, I am doing two things in writing this post.

First, I am attaching one of the 45 study installments from my Revelation studies for you to review.  If you would like to see more, they are available on my website.  This will give you an idea of how I approached the book and my commentary on it.

Second, I am looking for someone to help me publish my studies in book form.  We can do this for only $2,500 and help restore this wonderful book to the devotional and study life of many. 

Can you help me publish these studies?  Perhaps the Lord has blessed you and you can cover all the expense. Maybe you can pay for a portion. Whatever you can do can be given through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA  15221-7099.  Of course, all contributions are tax-deductible. Better yet, all contributions will help exalt God's word, a Word that at least in Revelation has been tarnished and confused.

Thank you for considering my request!  Please do whatever God tells you to do.

Download Revelation 41


Easter Weekend

We had a good but busy Easter weekend (you may prefer to call it Resurrection Weekend).  Much of it was spent in church, for the local church of which I am part had two services on Friday night, one on Saturday and three on Sunday.  The quality of ministry was excellent and I was uplifted by it all.  At the same time, I took every available moment to work on my latest book, which is due to the publisher this coming Wednesday. I only have the Appendix to finish, so I think the deadline is within reach.

After I wrap up my book, I then have about 2,000 pages of reading to finish for my next two classes in the first two weeks of June (I figure I have to read 40 pages every day between now and then to finish), in addition to a paper due on May 1 for my biblical counseling class.

It's nice to see spring flowers in full bloom. Even though it's still cool, spring and summer can't be far away.  They can never come too early for me.  The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball home opener was last Monday, and the hockey and basketball playoffs are imminent. 

So that's what is new in my world.  What's new in yours?  Feel free to post your response on the site where this entry is posted.


The Die Has Been Cast

I had the chance to visit three great churches when I was in the UK last week.  They were Christian Life International Church in Burton On Trent, The Rock Church in Walsall and Ambelcote Christian Centre in Stourbridge.  I send out a big thank you to the pastors and leadership teams at those churches for opening their doors to me. 

While I was at Christian Life Church, I heard a song that I have been playing ever since.  It is by a Brit named Godfrey Birtill and its title is The Die Has Been Cast, from his album Very God.  I was able to download this through iTunes, but in case you can't download it or get the CD, I thought I would at least send along the words for you to enjoy.

THE DIE HAS BEEN CAST

And I've stepped over the line.
The decisions been made,
I'm going forward.
And I will not look back,
Let up or even slow down
And I won't back away,
I'm following Jesus.

My shackles are gone,
My feet are now free,
So over the wall I will jump!

I've got to get up,
I've got to get out,
I've got to get in
The purpose of God. (x2)

Our Lamb has conquered.
Let us follow Him, let us follow Him.

Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run.
Run with the fire.

Low living no more,
Cheap talk, cheap giving, no more.
No colourless dreams.
I'm going forward.
And I don't have to be right,
First, tops, or recognized,
And I don't have to lead:
I'm following Jesus.

If you can, it's worth at least a listen if not a purchase.  Enjoy


Good Friday

I got home from the UK on Tuesday and have been catching up and setting up my work for next week.  The weather has been cool; we even had some snow on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It always seems to get chilly around Easter, so this isn't unusual for Pittsburgh.  This is the first Easter since my mother passed away and I have thought of her a lot.  She always made a big deal about Easter.

Speaking of Easter, I remember Good Friday in the church we attended as a family when I was growing up.   It's name is St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church.  I would attend service on Good Friday and it was a morbid event.  I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say I always came home depressed (and rather dusty, since we had to crawl around the floor of the church in adoration of the crucified Christ).

Yet that experience helped shape me, as our childhood always does, and so I still stop and reflect on Good Friday, even if I don't participate in rituals of old.  Good Friday for you and me is an important day, for it was on that day that Jesus purchased our access to heaven. 

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

That makes Good Friday truly good, even though Jesus suffered the most agonizing death that man has even devised against his fellow man.  With that in mind, are you taking full advantage of what Jesus purchased on your behalf?  What;s more, is the truth of resurrection life and power also present in your life, work and walk?  If not, then the realities of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are just historical facts and not a real presence in your daily living.


Worship Quote

I am also knocking out a lot of reading while I am in the UK toward my next two classes in June.  I have nine books to read by June 1, so I am using all my free time toward achieving that goal.  In one of the books, Worship in the Presence of God (not a book I would recommend for your reading enjoyment), I did run across this wonderful thought about worship that is particularly pertinent in my life right now.  I could not wait to share it with you:

The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne . . . (Revelation 4:10).

In acceptable worship all those 'crowns' are handed over, indeed immediately returned to God upon receipt, unequivocally and without holding anything back.  Nebuchadnezzar is a prime example. When his kingdom in all its 'golden' glory is restored to him, he for all practical purposes hands it right back to God (Daniel 4:34-37). He confesses God's sovereignty and does not ask, 'Why?' He submits to His dominion and does not chafe under it, nor seek to escape it. No wonder that he concludes with worship.

In fact, when God removes anything from any believer at any time, from the simplest and minutest to the biggest and most precious item, projected event or even person, he simply says, 'Thank You' for the 'crown' that has been presented to him in the first place. To be content (Philippians 4:11), yes to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18) indeed to rejoice (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16) in God's 'Thank you's' is the only evidence that a truly acceptable worship has taken place.  Any other response does and will fall short of it. 

Pretty good stuff, would you say?


A Good Evening

On Monday evening, I had the privilege of being a guest in the home of Dr. Tony and Sheila Stone in Stoutbridge.  Dr. Tony is a retired by active saint who traveled extensively with Billy Graham and Reinhard Bonnke.  Last Christmas Tony bought Sheila my devotional, A Daily Dose of Proverbs.  When they heard I was in the UK, they took it upon themselves to assemble a group of friends in their home to hear me speak. We got there early and Sheila served us a wonderful lamb dinner and then we had dessert when the meeting was over.  Of course, I talked about purpose and we had a grand time together.  It truly was a special evening.

Then on Tuesday, I had no meetings so I decided to plow forward with my new book, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation.  It is due to the publisher by April 15, but I was not sure I would be able to meet the deadline. On Tuesday, however, I spent the day writing and, since this is all material I have taught and outlined, I was able to make great progress. I am now optimiistic that I can meet the deadline.  We shall see.

Wednesday I am off to Revelation TV for an evening primetime interview with live call-in comments and questions.  Then I have more meetings throughout the week as I continue to promote my books and the purpose message. For now, I am back to work on the book, in hopes that I can continue to make the progress that I enjoyed on Tuesday.  Back to work!