Making Hard Decisions

Do you have a hard decision to make?   There are so many voices in our lives pulling us in so many directions, and sometimes when it comes down to making a difficult decision it is hard to know which one to listen to. Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6 both speak of the wisdom and the benefits of having an abundance of counselors. But what do you do if you are still unclear on what to do, or if those you are seeking advice from do not agree? It is in those times that you might have to really buckle down and wait on the Lord. Ultimately He is the only one who can give you a sustained peace about what His will is. 1 Cor 7:17 says “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him, this is my rule in all the churches.” We are first and foremost accountable to God for what we do with opportunities and convictions. You always have to listen to what you know He is saying even above all the noise to the contrary. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

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Why I am opposed to alcohol sales in Redwater

Why I am opposed to the sale of Alcoholic beverages in our community, even for off premises consumption:

Recently a great and well-meaning friend showed up at my house with a carload of yard signs relating to an upcoming election in our community regarding the legal sale of alcohol for off premises consumption. The sign is simple, to the point, and informative. “Vote against alcohol November 3”.   He helped me place 3 of those signs in my yard and left 3 more for me to place in our church yard, which is prominently located on the corner of the busiest intersection in our little town.

Immediately I had a dilemma. The words “Against Alcohol” stand out much more than anything else on the sign. While I am totally opposed to the sale of alcohol here, I also realize that a great number of the people we hope to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ have alcohol use as a regular part of their lives. The last thing we want to say to them is that we are opposed to them, to paint ourselves as the enemy of people who don’t agree with us. Unfortunately the church in general has developed a pretty good reputation of doing just that through the years and propagating a “holier than Thou” gospel. Thank God that He accepts and forgives and changes people who aren’t like Him or none of us would have a chance. Had he not done that for me, I wouldnt even care to be writing this article. My sign dilemma was diffused rather quickly as word began to get out about the upcoming election and concerned citizens quickly took all the signs I had and placed them in their yards! But still we wanted to make some kind of statement in our community.

There are many reasons why I believe legalizing the sale of alcohol in Redwater in not in the best interest of our town. The main reason is because of the adverse effects of alcohol on families. We are FOR Redwater, and are excited to see her grow! But I would submit to you that the main reason so many people want to live in Redwater now is because of how Redwater is, a family oriented family-friendly community. It doesn’t take much investigation into surrounding areas to see the change that takes place in communities like ours when alcohol sales are legalized. I personally see nothing good coming from it for the families in our community. I understand that there could be considerable revenue for the city, but people’s lives and family are worth more than money. Already Wal Mart is generating a considerable amount of additional revenue for our city and other businesses are rumored to be looking in our direction. There are better options than alcohol sales for us to increase our revenue, and they are certainly better for the welfare of our families.

I recently became aware that some weeks back there was an article in the paper that stated that there was no opposition to the alcohol sales proposal in Redwater. I would like to go on record as saying that that is certainly not true now. At the time most of us had no idea that it was even going to be on the November 3rd ballot. But people know now. Our mayor and my friend Robert Lorance told me on the phone a couple of weeks ago that he wants what the people of Redwater want. I’m for that too. BUT, know this, only the 599 people who are registered to vote and actually live inside city limits and can vote on this issue on November 3rd. It is anticipated that the results of this election will affect 32,000 people who live within a 10 mile radius of Redwater, so take your vote seriously. I can assure you that Wal Mart takes your vote seriously. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a war against Wal-mart. It is evidenced by the business we are all giving them that the convenience of their store has been greatly enjoyed by most of us. But today we learned that Wal-Mart has hired an outside company to solicit voters to support the alcohol measure in our city and the two others in our county, New Boston and Dekalb, who are facing this same ballot issue. What this means is they are helping people register to vote, in some places even going door to door in hopes of passing the measure. At least that is what we understand at this point. I find that very disturbing and even offensive to be honest. These are people who are not from here. They do not live here. They will not be affected at all by the outcome or the change that alcohol sales will likely bring to our community. They don’t stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights picking up the pieces, or invest hours every week teaching at the rehab, or counseling with broken wife or the alcoholic dad. Their concern is not first and foremost people, but they are actively pursuing voters to pass this measure for one reason alone,………. money. This is not about a major corporation just wanting the best for our community and our families. It is about another dollar, and they have enough of them to flex their muscles a little bit so they can get more and more of yours. That bothers me and in no way does it honor God. I understand that is the nature of business and I would expect no less from any major corporation, but this comes at the expense of community, and at a great cost to families, so I cannot afford to be silent on this issue.

Please believe me when I say we are For our town, and we want the best for Redwater. I urge you to ask your county law enforcement officials, or our EMT’s or Firefighters how they feel about the increased availability of alcohol. Or, just look at the statistics about alcohol related deaths among teens. More teens are killed each year by alcohol than all other illegal drugs combined. More importantly, numerous lives and families have been destroyed as a result of the abuses of alcohol. Alcohol is not going to make Redwater a better place to live. Let’s care about what’s best for people, and let’s keep Redwater Redwater.

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HIStory

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life……And the Lord commanded the man saying “you may surely eat from every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”……but the serpant said to the woman “you will not surely die”…….she gave some to her husband…..and he ate…. And the Lord God said to the serpant “because you have done this, cursed are you……her offspring shall bruise your head…..Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, behold the virgin shall conceive and bare a son and shall call His name Immanuel…..for to us a child is born, and to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  And of the increase of His government and of His peace there will be no end……the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this……  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, was minded to put her away quietly. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins…….And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent…… to a virgin  named Mary…… And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign ….. for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end……. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God….For with God nothing shall be impossible…….. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…….. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord……And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men…………. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS,….And when Mary and Joseph took Him into the temple, Simeon took Him into his arms and said…..mine eyes have seen your Salvation!…….And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man……But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law……. For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly……but God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God…….For God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him….He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name…..He appeared to take away our sins, and in him is no sin….. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil…..Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures …… he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: ……Truly, truly I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you…. I am the Bread of Life.  This is the bread that came down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the Living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…….This is my body, which is broken for you ……..This cup is the new covenant in my blood……as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes……..Why do you stand gazing, THIS SAME JESUS who was taken up from you into heaven, will come again in the same way as you saw him go…….for the Lord will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,   and so shall we ever be with the Lord! …………..I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength……..We are more than Conquerors through Him who loved us………..we overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony…………And this is the victory that has overcome the world……even our Faith……..THANKS BE TO GOD FOR HIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT.

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The miracle of the Incarnation. By W. A. Criswell.

This is the transcript of a fantastic sermon by WA Criswell that is worthy of your time to read. We read this sermon to our fellowship on the evening of December 21, 2014.

We welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who did not get up early enough to go to your own church and go to your own services, and you are listening on radio with the thousands of others who regularly do so. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and I am the pastor bringing the message entitled The Miracle of God’s Incarnation. In the series of doctrinal sermons on Christology, on our Lord Christ, the section in which we are now studying and preaching, our Lord’s entrance into human flesh; then next Sunday Our Lord’s Entrance into Suffering, then Our Lord’s Entrance into Death, into the Grave, then Our Lord’s Entrance into Resurrection Life and into heaven, and Our Lord’s Entrance Beyond the Veil, where He intercedes for us as our great High Priest. This is a message on our Lord’s entrance into human flesh, The Miracle of the Incarnation of God.

When Mary the virgin of Nazareth was visited by Gabriel, in the first chapter of Luke, beginning at verse 31, the angel says to her:

…thou shalt conceive… and bring forth a Son, and call His name JESUS, Savior.

He shall be great, He shall be called the Son of the Highest: the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:

And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

[Luke 1:31-35]

Apparently, the fact of the virgin birth was controverted and contradicted from the very beginning. It is not by any means a new development. There is a repercussion of that possibly in John chapter 8, verse 19: “And they said unto Him, Where is Thy Father?” In the lifetime of John, who wrote this Gospel, in Ephesus where he was pastor, there lived the famous gnostic Cerinthus. He gave birth to Cerinthian gnosticism, an early Christian heresy. And Cerinthus taught that Jesus was born by natural generation from Joseph and Mary, and that the messianic power came upon Him at His baptism and left Him at His cross. But there was no such thing as a virgin birth. That’s from the beginning.

The stories of the illegitimacy of the birth of our Lord are found in the Talmud. There His illegitimate father, a Roman officer named Panthera, is supposed to have been the illegitimate compatriot cohabiter with a Jewess named Mary, and Jesus was born. And those stories of the Lord’s birth have been repeated through all the centuries. One of the vicious enemies of the Christian faith was Celsus, a brilliant philosopher who lived in the second century; and he repeated those Talmudic stories of immorality. Voltaire did the same thing in the eighteenth century. And in the last century, Tolstoy, the tremendously gifted Russian novelist and author, repeated the same stories.

There are two tremendous areas in the Bible that are bitterly and constantly assailed. One of them is the inspiration of the Scriptures; that war goes on forever. We’re in it in our Southern Baptist Convention, whether this is the Word of God or the word of man. The first controversy that arises in the swirl of the doctrinal life of the Christian faith concerns the infallibility, and authority, and inerrancy, and inspiration of the Word of God; that’s first. The second storm of controversy concerns the virgin birth of Christ. It is denied vociferously and unmitigatingly and boldly by the whole critical world. The tremendously gifted English essayist and author Matthew Arnold said, “I do not believe in the virgin birth, for that would imply miracle; and I do not believe in miracles. Miracles do not happen.” And I quote from Loofs, who is speaking for all of the rationalistic critics of the whole world, he said, “I think it the duty of truthfulness to state openly that the virgin birth arose out of fabulous fictitious tradition.” These are but typical of the tremendous reaction against the incarnation of God in the virgin birth.

That is all very well; that’s fine. We deny the virgin birth, we deny the incarnation of God, we deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, we deny it all; but with all of those denials, Jesus Christ is still there before us, towering above all mankind, unique and separate and apart. How do you account for Him? It’s easy to account for Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Shakespeare, Homer; it’s easy to account for any other man who ever lived in the human race. But how do you account for Jesus? Where did He come from? And what is He? The great unlike.

Schmidt, who was a rationalist, said, “Jesus is inexplicable psychologically, casually, or by evolutionary development. Something derived creatively from God is necessary to explain the life and consciousness of Jesus.” That’s the Lord’s truth. Compare Him with any other man who ever lived, and it’s like comparing a molehill to a towering Himalayan Mount Everest. How do you account for the fact of Jesus Christ? Well, there are attempts by these critical men world without end to explain Him and His virgin birth. There are many who worship at the shrine of pseudoscience, and they feel called upon to give natural explanations for all of the supernatural that we read in the Bible.

For example, they say Israel never went through a parted Red Sea; they walked through the Reed Sea. So they translate it the “Reed Sea,” and the water was only ankle deep. That’s very fine, except how in the world would you explain the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in water that was just about three inches deep? They explain the tremendous miracle of the answer of God on Mount Carmel to Elijah’s prayer, that it just happened to be that at that moment there came a flash of lightning from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. Or the miracle of the resurrection of our Lord: they explain that that’s a matter of mental aberration; they were hallucinating, and those were hallucinations when they thought they saw Jesus raised from among the dead. So they bring to bear their same kind of reasoning about the birth of our Lord. They will point out there is such a thing as parthenogenesis: there are certain algae and fungi and plant life that propagate from self-fertilized spores. And another explanation I ran across that just beat anything I ever heard in my life: at a theological society gathering, one of the teachers had read a paper discussing the virgin birth, and a professor in the university stood up and offered a scientific explanation of the phenomenon of the birth of Jesus, and this was it: he said that female rabbits have been known to be shocked into conception without the male, and that Mary may well have been shocked into conception by the startling appearance and announcement of the angel Gabriel. When I read those things, I just can hardly believe that men of tremendous intellect and scientific training will place Mary in the same category as algae, or fungus, or plant life, or a shocked female rabbit into conception. It is unthinkable to me, and yet these are the explanations that are given by those who worship at the shrine of pseudoscience, false science.

Well, there are others who explain the story of the incarnation of God and the virgin birth of our Lord by supposedly adduced examples of the miraculous birth of the great heroes in Greek and Roman mythology. Alexander the Great decided he was not the natural born son of Philip of Macedon, but he said that a serpent cohabited with his mother, and he was born; a serpent. That appears so many times in those stories. In the story that was circulated concerning the birth of Augustus Caesar; in the temple of Apollo, his mother went to sleep, and the god assumed the form of a serpent, and she conceived there in the temple of Apollo, and Octavius Caesar, Augustus Caesar was born. Or in the story of Hercules, Alcmene, the daughter of the king of Mycenae, while her husband was away, Jove, Jupiter, assumed the likeness of her husband, and Hercules was born. And Juno was jealous and sent two tremendous pythons to destroy the baby; and the baby Hercules seized one serpent by the hand and the other serpent by the other hand, and strangled it to death. Or the fabulous story of the birth of Achilles: Peleus is the king of Thessaly, and he lives with a sea nymph named Thetis, and Achilles is born, and Thetis takes Achilles and dips him in the River Styx in order that he might be immortal, all except his heels where she held him. And Paris of Troy in the Trojan War shot a poisoned arrow, and it entered the heel of Achilles, an Achilles’ heel, and he was slain in the war. Or take just one other: for two or three centuries after Gotama the Buddha, The Enlightened One, there were no stories of his birth; then they began to circulate the story that his mother dreamed a dream and saw a gigantic elephant that had six tusks, and it forcibly entered her side, and Gotama, who was later called the Enlightened One, the Buddha, was born.

Now dear people, anybody with any reasonable judgment can say two things about those mythological stories. First, they are manifestly manufactured; they are fictitious on its surface. And second, there’s no story ever of a virgin birth.

When we try to take it out of the Bible, as some higher critics do, as far back as any manuscripts are ever found, this is a part of the story of our Lord. It’s in every version; it’s a part of the Bible, the revelation of God. And we cannot deny its fact, nor can we hide our faces from the tremendous and towering character and unique personality of Jesus our Lord. How do you account for Him? Where did He come from? How do you explain Him?

Then let’s look at the truth of God and rejoice. Number one: this is a work of the Holy Spirit of heaven. It was the Holy Ghost that came upon Mary and announced to her that that holy thing that should be born of her would be called the Son of God. “He shall be great, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” [Luke 1:32]. This is a work, a creation of the Holy Spirit of God. In Romans 1:4, we are taught that Jesus was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He was horizō marked out, declared, delineated, pointed out as the Son of God by the raising of His body from the dead by the Holy Spirit. Now, this and that belong together; it’s a piece of the same marvelous story of God’s grace extended toward us. The Holy Spirit forming Him in the womb of the Virgin Mary [Luke 1:35], and the Holy Spirit raising that same body that the Spirit formed from among the dead [Romans 1:4]; and the whole story is of a piece. There is no incongruity in the Bible when you pass from the reading of the story of the virgin birth to the miraculous words and ministry of our Lord, and His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into heaven. It is all of a piece; it goes together. It’s of God.

Number two: this is not only a work of the Holy Spirit, but the virgin birth of our Lord, the incarnation of God in the womb and body of the Virgin Mary, this is an intervention of God in human history. From time to time, God comes down in unique and unusual and marvelous ways and intervenes in the story of mankind. One of those instances was in the beginning. The Holy Spirit of God brooded over the chaotic world, and brought order out of disorder, and light out of darkness, and life out of death, the intervention of God in human history [Genesis 1:1-2]. We have an intervention of God in the days when the earth was filled with wickedness, and God’s grace spared Noah and his family [Genesis 6-9]. You have an intervention of God when the world was filled with idolatry, and the Lord God chose out Abraham to be the father of a new family [Genesis 12:1-9; Joshua 24:2-3]. You have an intervention of God in the days of the tremendous apostasy, when God used Elijah to bring His people back to the faith [1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2]. You have an intervention of God in human history when He sent John the Baptist to announce the new dispensation, the new age, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ [Matthew 3]. There is one other great intervention of God that is yet to come, and that is when the Lord shall appear visibly, personally, bodily, in the shekinah glory of heaven, descending from the sky at His second coming, when every eye shall see Him; the intervention of God in human history [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 1:7]. This is one of those interventions. God did it. God came down in human form, assumed our likeness, made like us, to be our Savior and our sympathetic and understanding High Priest [Luke 1:26-35; Hebrews 4:14-16]. That’s God.

Number three: the incarnation of God, in the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, there is an extended discussion concerning why God was incarnate. And the discussion is that the blood of bulls and of goats could never suffice to wash our sins away [Hebrews 10:4]. The author says that all there is in the blood of bulls and goats is just a constant reminder that we are sinners; and it has to be offered again and again and again because it doesn’t avail, it has no ableness or power to wash the stain of transgression out of our souls. But in heaven there volunteered One who said, “I will do Thy will, O God. Thou hast prepared a body for Me, and in the preparation of that body there was offered a sacrifice for sins, once for all” [Hebrews 10:5-10]. And one of the comments of history concerning the efficacy and the effectiveness of that sacrifice is this: when the Lord Jesus Christ was born in this world, on every high hill there rose the smoke of sacrificial altars. So far as I know there is not an altar in the world today where a sacrifice is made in propitiation for our sins. Christ was offered once for all. And the body that was formed was formed in order that He might make an atoning sacrifice for our sins. God did it for us.

And last: this, the virgin birth of our Savior is the second of the two great biological miracles wrought by the hand of God. The first tremendous biological miracle is in the creation and the successive generations of the first Adam [Genesis 1:26-27; 2:21-22]. It’s a miracle. It’s a miracle of God. It is a biological miracle. All of us are made out of cells, billions of them, trillions of them. And in every one of those cells, there are forty-six chromosomes, little threads to which are attached the genes of heredity and life. And in every cell of the human body, there are forty-six of those chromosomes. That is, except in the female ovum; and there are one-half, twenty-three; except in the male spermatozoon, there are one half, twenty-three. And when they are fertilized in conception, when they come together, there are twenty-three from the mother and twenty-three from the father, and there are forty-six again. That is the first biological miracle.

The second great biological miracle is when God entered into and broke that chain of genetic heredity and created the body of incarnation. It is a work of the Holy Spirit of God [Luke 1:31-35]. It is a miracle of the Lord. Jesus is unique and separate and apart; the great unlike. He is God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16]. And when I receive that, and when I accept that, and when I believe that, then the Bible becomes so beautifully meaningful in text and in revelations, that otherwise are inexplicable and un-understandable.

Look at them. What is the meaning in Genesis 3:15, “And the Seed of the woman shall crush, bruise, Satan’s head”? A woman doesn’t have seed; a man has seed. But the Bible says, “The Seed of the woman”; the theologians call that the protevangelium, the gospel before the gospel. “The Seed of the woman shall crush Satan’s head.” What does that mean? The old rabbis pored over that for the centuries and the centuries. And we didn’t know what it meant until Jesus was born of a virgin.

Or again, Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, God Is With Us.” I understand that now. God is with us in the birth of that Son from the womb of a virgin named Mary [Matthew 21-23]. Then I understand Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born; and His name shall be called the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father.” I can see that now. Or again, in Micah 5:2, “Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though ye are little among all the cities of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come who shall be the Ruler of My people; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” What does that mean? “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” why, that’s our Lord God, who from the beginning of the beginning is God, and now born in a little town named Bethlehem. I understand it now. Or that last word in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of the Revelation: “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and the Morning Star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come” [Revelation 22:16-17]. What does that mean? “I am the Root and the Offspring of David”? He was before David; the Root, the Beginning of the chosen people of God, He was before David. “I am the Root and the Offspring of David.” He was born by His mother in the house and lineage of the great king of Israel.

The Bible unfolds in glory and beauty, in fulfillment, in salvation, when I accept its testimony. Who is this Jesus? He is the virgin born Son of God. He is God incarnate. He is God manifest in the flesh. Sent into the world, voluntarily came into the world, to make atonement for our sins, to die that we might be saved, raised from the dead for our justification, to declare us righteous, to see to it that someday we make it to heaven, that we don’t fall by the way, and who is at the right hand of the great throne interceding for us, answering our prayers, encouraging us, and waiting for the day when the great mighty final interposition of God in human history comes, the denouement and climax of the age, when we see Him face to face. What a beautiful thing God has done for us!

Now may we stand together?

Our Lord, we are just like those shepherds and like the wise men; we just bow down. It’s a truth too great for us to comprehend. We’re not able to enter into the mystery of the marvelous grace of God who came down to live our life, to bear our sorrows, to share our sicknesses, to weep our tears, to die our death, and please God, in Him to be raised into life, and immortality, and glory, and heaven. What a gospel. It’s just too good to be true. Could such a thing actually be? O wonderful, wonderful Savior, we stand amazed in the presence of Jesus our Lord, loving Thee, bowing in worship before Thee. Lord, Lord, that we were more able to love Thee more and serve Thee better.

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Veterans Day thoughts: A Tribute to my Grandfather, Kenneth Reed

My Grandfather, Kenneth Reed, was born in 1924 to a coal-mining family in Norton Virginia. Grandpa set his sights on the military at an early age probably as an attempt to escape the poverty of the coal-mining community he had grown up in. As a young teenager he first joined the CCC, then later falsified his age in order to join the US Navy. While serving in the Navy during WW II the destroyer escort he was with came under attack and his vessel sank after being struck by a torpedo. My Grandfather and his best friend, Malachi Rich, from Georgia attempted to survive by clinging to floating debris through the night. During their conversations both of them agreed that if they survived they would name their first-born sons after one another.
Sometime in the night they drifted apart and were unable to find each other again. My Grandfather was rescued that night by a Russian warship, suited with a dry Russian uniform, and amazingly was returned to safety and eventually came back to the states. After the war he met my Grandmother in 1946, married her in ’47, had my Dad in ’48, and my aunt in ’49. After finishing his time of service in the US Navy, he joined the US Army. Still not ready to end his military career, after finishing his service in the US Army, he joined the Air Force where he served until his retirement.
I am not certain of the date, but sometime in the 1950’s, 10 years or so after his ship sank, he took his family on trip to Virginia and on the way stopped in the town of Val Dosa, Georgia where his friend Malachi Rich had been from. He located a phone book, found a listing, and drove to the address. When my Grandpa knocked on the door, it was opened by a boy who identified himself as Kenneth Rich. I’m certain that was an amazing moment for my Grandfather as he looked on the boy who bore his name. My Dad’s name is Malachi Reed. I used to think my grandparents named dad after a Biblical prophet, but in reality he was named after a sailor from Georgia. Neither my grandfather nor his best friend from WWII had any idea the other had survived. That night both had been rescued by different ships from different countries. So tonight, by the providence of God, somewhere in Georgia is a man my Father’s age with whom I share a name. I am so thankful for men like my Grandfather, and Malachi Rich who endured hardships, struggles, and the endangerment of their own lives in the defense of freedom. I am also thankful for men like my Dad (drafted into the Army during the Vietnam crisis), my brother Kevin Reed (US Army disabled vet, Desert Storm, 2 bronze stars), and now our son Christopher Andrew (US Marine Corp). On behalf of our family we would like to say thank you for your service to each of you who have invested part of your lives in the defense of freedom and service to our country.
Sincerely thankful and proud,
Kenneth Todd Reed.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jesus, circa 32AD, John 15)

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Remembering the Fallen

This is a paper written last month by our 16yr old son, Peter, as an assignment to remember the events of 9/11. It may not be grammatically perfect, but we were pretty proud of how it turned out and wanted to share it with you. (I think he’s got a pretty impressive teacher!)

Remembering the Fallen

The screams echoed off of the nearby walls and were heard by all who stopped there, along with the billowing smoke which could be smelt from a mile away, and the fire, which blazing so unbearably hot, caused those that were trapped inside to jump from their scorching deaths high above the ground. The falling of debris and the 200 scorched and torn, yet still living bodies caused a great and catastrophic panic to spread throughout the large city of New York. The unforgettable tragedy that occurred on that exceedingly sad and yet celebrated day of September 11, in the year 2001 affected not just America but the whole world. Estimates of 2,996 were killed throughout the entirety of this whole ordeal.,2,977 victims and the 19 perpetrators. 372 of these victims did not even have a United States citizenship. There were four planes that were hijacked on 9/11 two of which hit the World Trade Center’s twin towers and a third that barely missed its mark, which hit the Pentagon. The fourth, however, was deprived from it’s intended destination by the passengers who had heard of the other attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. These passengers, though knowing that their fate could be nothing but absolute death, braved rushing the cockpit of their assailants to save countless other lives that would have been brutally slaughtered. Although these terrorists had multiple weapons they were overwhelmed and thus forced the plane out of the sky and into a large field, but their destination was never fully known. Some debate that it was headed for the white house, but others say that they were possibly the back up for the Pentagon attack. Though there are many theories we will never know the final location that this particular hijacking was intended for.
Imagine that it’s your 25th wedding anniversary and you decide to take your gorgeous wife on a grand trip to tour New York City. You’ve visited all the great sites in the Big Apple. You’ve visited the Empire State Building, Madison Square, Central Park, and you even had enough cash to catch a boat ride to Liberty Island and have your picture taken with the Statue of Liberty. Everything has gone perfectly according to your plans. You’ve done everything you wanted to do, only one more place to visit. So the next morning at around 6:30 you wake up, pack your bags, grab a cab and head to the last place you desire to see. You arrive at the World Trade Center at around 7:30 and you walk in with a grand smile on your face greeting everyone that walks by, your beautiful wife walking along side you, and everything in the world seems to be just perfect. You get in the elevator after a long wait and head to the top to see the spectacular view. You’ve reached the top and you’re standing there with your wife knowing that you’ll both remember this day for the rest of your lives. As your looking at your wife you notice a faint sound but don’t take much notice. After a few seconds however the sound has grown increasingly louder and you turn around just in time to see a large airliner crash a few stories beneath you. In a panic, you turn to grab your wife and escape but to your horror you find that she, along with several floors beneath where she stood, is plummeting towards the ground, and the elevator that you used to reach the top was no longer connected and it too was falling. In case you haven’t guessed, this last “perfect day” of your get away happens to be September 11, 2001 and you have just succumbed to the biggest loss in your life and quite possibly the loss of your own. Though I have never heard of any living, or perhaps even deceased, individual with this particular story, I do know that there are many individuals that have a story similar to this one. They are all connected in only one way and this one factor resulted in the deaths of their loved ones, family members, and friends. Some were employees that were called to work that day. Some were visitors from other countries or states like our fictional couple. Yet others were individuals that lost their lives on the ground, such as the multiple firefighters killed, NYPD, or EMT personnel. There is no need to ask if 9/11 has been the most tragic and catastrophic day in all of the United States and quite possibly the Worlds history. To America this has been the largest terrorist attack that there has ever been and I pray that there ever will be. This was a day of great loss and at the same time it was a day of great learning for American defense. All who call themselves Americans will remember 9/11. We view this as a horror that could have been prevented but was not. So now we will do everything that is in American power to prevent this from ever happening again.
He has spent years learning and waiting for this day and now it’s finally his turn to travel to the great land of America. He’s about to embark upon his grand adventure as his teacher pulls him aside and speaks with him for a moment. When they are finished speaking he jumps into the vehicle with his fellow classmates and they head off to the airport. As the friends go their separate ways and are separated onto their aircrafts they say their goodbyes and continue with their own segment of the journey. The young man boards his plane. So far his flight has been incredibly enjoyable and he loves it but he doesn’t really know, or care, about the other passengers that are aboard. The only thing that’s going through his mind is the conversation and inspiration that his teacher had given him a few hours before. The young man at long last voiced to his comrades what their teacher had spoken to him and this is what he said. “ My friends, as we left our teacher told me that we are doing what is right in the eyes of Allah. That to attack the great serpent and die for the cause is the most honorable thing we will ever do. He said do not fear for we will be greatly rewarded for what we are about to do.” After he had finished speaking he locked the controls and they rammed the World Trade Center, causing nearly 3,000 deaths that day. The leader of these 19 companions was Osama Bin Laden. By now it is obvious to you that this is also occurring on 9/11 and that this story is, again, just a metaphor. But this is most likely close to their story as well. To those men that forced their own aircraft into the twin towers and the pentagon they did not view it as cruel, vile, and horrid, but they viewed it as just, pure, and honorable. The tragedy that befell America that day, to the Islamic states, was actually a great and glorious day, telling America that they were not feared. They were also telling America that they realized that she was weak and that they were willing to kill themselves to destroy her. These terrorists actually believed that they were doing the will of Allah, their god, when they murdered those thousands of innocent people. And still today they wish to crush our great and powerful nation. Only time will tell if they ever will. To them that day will always be remembered as well. Not as a brutal slaughtering, but as a great and glorious victory.
When the World Trade Center was hit and destroyed it did not just affect America or the Islamic estates, but it affected the entire worlds trade diplomatic system. Russia, Great Britain, India, China, Japan, and Africa were all greatly affected. Russia was so moved by the attack that the Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote a message of consolation at a makeshift memorial wall to the international victims of the September 11 attacks near the World Trade Center site in November 2001. After the attack, prices skyrocketed. It wasn’t just the prices of goods, but the prices of the lives of innocent people. For as America moved in for revenge against the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, thousands of U.S. soldiers died and hundreds of innocent Arabs were killed in the crossfire. Although the 9/11 attacks and retaliation against the Alkaida network were not half as devastating as World War 1&2, it will still be remembered by the entire world as a tragic time.
Now that all the smoke has cleared, the damage been restored, and the main perpetrator of this tragedy has been eliminated permanently, the world has moved on and rebuilt. But there should never be one person to forget that horrid 11th day of September in the year 2001. I know I never will, and if you ask me why, this is what I will tell you. “This is the day we set aside to remember those who died, to remember the families of those that were innocently slaughtered, this is the day that we remember the fallen.”
William Peter Reed

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What is this “Hokus Rackey” silliness all about?

Every now and then a person stumbles upon something (or into something) that just makes him smile. For whatever reason it happens to me often. Mostly it is the grace of God, but sometimes He uses simple-mindedness, and the lasting effects of adult onset A.D.D.! Regardless, this goofy song and it’s subsequent recording were the result of one such occasion in our lives about 15 years ago and was, in part, inspired by a true story. In 1998 my youngest brother (Tim) killed a record book buck at the Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arkansas. For quite some time it was on the books as one of the highest scoring 8-points ever recorded in our state, which got him lots of attention and magazine opportunities. So, in our excited jealousy we responded by fabricating this little story and setting it to music to have a little fun with some family and friends!
Hokus Rackey is a comedy deer hunting song about how we raised a deer to turn loose near my brother’s stand so he could kill a big one. Although it was all just for fun and really intended only for our family and friends, as people heard it small offers began to come which opened some unexpected doors including guest appearances on 2 local hunting shows and the opportunity to share the Gospel with a brand new audience.

10 years ago I was approached by some friends with a great idea of how we might use a comedy deer hunting song to help sportsmen share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their friends. With the help of some good friends in the music industry we produced this 3-track album consisting of two songs and a 5 minute Gospel presentation.
Hokus Rackey is the first song, whose title was simply a name created and used by our oldest son at the age of 4 when he began fabricating big buck stories (I guess it’s hereditary).
The second song is a ballad (and really is a true story) about a farmer we met in Florida and his journey to Christ.
The third track is a very simple attempt at explaining what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and how it affects you.
The main reason I have waited so long to attempt to publish this “album” is because I really hoped to re-record the Gospel presentation and change the way I shared it just a little, but the opportunity has never afforded itself. So, before releasing the whole thing for people to share with their friends, I felt the need to make this public statement concerning salvation. It is not my intent to imply that a person is “saved” by merely repeating a prayer, or walking an aisle, or going to church. A person is born again when the Holy Spirit convicts them that Our Creator is not only real, but that He is Holy and we are not. Even the most morally upright person on the planet falls far short of what God requires (Romans 3:23). Because of this it is an absolute impossibility for us to ever reach Him. So He reaches us. Being crucified on the cross God took upon Himself the punishment for the sin of all of those who would believe Him! (John 3:16)
So how is a person saved? By BELIEVING every word God tells you about yourself and about Him. Believing is not something you do merely in your head. You believe with your life! Ultimately a person who believes follows Christ, lives for His glory, and is always being challenged and changed by His Word.
Please help us share this with all our friends and yours. The album is entitled “Hokus Rackey and the Gift” and is available for less than three bucks on iTunes and almost any other digital music store out there. If that is not a possibility you can listen to the gospel presentation and samples of the other songs for free at hokusrackey.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this and we pray you can use this tool to help you share the Gospel of Christ with your lost deer hunting buddies. Romans 1:16!
Here is the link.
http://itunes.apple.com/album/id925736145

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