Freedom Has Fences

  I really enjoy the game of tennis and have coached and taught lessons for many years. It is easy to get frustrated in the sport because it isn’t always easy to get the ball over the net or to keep it within the lines to win a point. In our mind we think, “Oh, if only the net were a little lower, or the boundaries a little farther apart, then I could really be successful!  Well, this summer we had three of our six community courts re-surfaced. They took down the net and net posts, patched the cracks and then covered the whole area with a dark brown material before re-doing the final colored surface areas and re-painting the lines. So, for a while, if you were to have played on it, there was no net to get in the way and no lines to worry about!  But would that have been the game of tennis? How would you know if your serve was in or the ball made it over the net or if your groundstroke was within the boundaries? You wouldn’t and the whole purpose of the game would have been destroyed.

As ridiculous as the illustration, that is just what some (including five judges on our Supreme Court) in our nation are trying to do—remove all the obstacles, boundaries and restraints so people can be “free” to do as they please. Is that really the “liberty” our founding fathers had in mind for our nation, or is it “license” for the selfish desires of our old, sinful natures?  I’m afraid it is the latter. It seems that many don’t understand that because of the nature of man, we need boundaries, limitations, and guidelines in order to experience true freedom. In other words, “freedom has fences.” That’s why the phrase in America the Beautiful (which many of us probably sang at church services yesterday) says “liberty in law.”

In the epistle of James in the New Testament, we read: “So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty” (Jas. 2:12).  The essence of the “American system is liberty under law—the laws of nature placed there by our Creator and the revealed laws of God’s Word. Within that framework we do have liberty—but not liberty to defy either the physical laws of God’s World (like gravity) or the spiritual laws of God’s Word. English common law and our system of constitutional law are both based on Scripture.  Some today, seeking license rather than liberty, recoil at the very idea of “the law of liberty.”  They may even consider it an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms. But Jesus said that only “the truth shall make you free!” (Jn. 8:32). The foundation of freedom is truth—the truth of God’s Word, and Christ Himself, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). We are only really free when we have “the Truth” (Christ) living in us and we are living according to the truths of God’s Word.  Then we are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).

By our natural birth, we were under the Law (Ro. 3:19), sinners (Ro. 3:23), condemned (Ro. 5:12,18), in bondage to sin (Ro. 6:17), separated from God (Ro. 6:23a), dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), separated from Christ (Eph. 2:12). without hope and without God (Eph. 2:12).  But, through faith in Christ as our Savior, we died with Him to sin, and to Satan and self. We are no longer under the condemnation of the Law because He was condemned on our behalf. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…” (I Pet. 2:24). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6).  Praise the Lord, in Him (Christ) we have been set free. The words of an old hymn by Philip Bliss, Once for All! say: “Free from the Law, O happy condition, Jesus hath bled, and there is remission. Cursed by the Law and bruised by the fall, Christ hath redeemed us once for all.”

We are free—free from the Law, from sin and self and Satan, free from condemnation—but free to do what we ought to do, not what we want to do!  Liberty is not license. True freedom is not found by choosing our own way but by yielding to God’s way—in submission (bondage) to Christ.  Liberty is not license. Peter wrote: “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (I Pet 2:16). The Apostle Paul wrote: “For you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).  While we are no longer under Law, but under grace (Ro. 6:14), we are under a new law, the “law of love.” Note what Paul wrote in II Cor. 5:14,15: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live (those who have trusted Christ for eternal life) should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” God doesn’t save us by grace that we might live in disgrace!  “After all He’s done for me, how can I do less that give Him my best and live for Him completely?” You will notice that Paul begins most of his letters with: “I Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus….” (Ro. 1:1 cf Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:1; Philemon 1:1).

Even though Christ died to set us free from sin, and self and Satan, God has not yet eliminated sin or our old sinful self, or Satan. So, He put guidelines in place within which we have freedom to be all God wants us to be and to have a purposeful, significant and fulfilling life—providing we allow Him to be Lord and the Holy Spirit to be in control. That may sound paradoxical, but it happens to be how God works. So, whether it has to do with marriage, or sanctity of life or any other feature of our society, only within the confines of God’s parameters can we experience His blessing in our life and sense our freedom in Christ. When we start ignoring, or trying to tear down those fences, we lose the freedom He offers, because we are right back in bondage to sin, self and Satan. We experience chaos and frustration—all the while thinking we are really free.

Interestingly, the Psalmist, who wrote about 3,000 years ago, observed the same scenario. He wrote: “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His Anointed: ‘Let us tear their fetters apart, and cast away their cords from us!” (Ps. 2:1-3).  Does that sound like our day or what!  But notice what the next verse says: “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (v. 4).  God is not in heaven wringing his hands over the decisions of our Supreme Court or Administration (or the actions of any government in the world) saying, “Oh, my, what should I do now?”  No amount of unbelief or anti-biblical/Christian legislation can defeat the purposes of our sovereign God. He says: “Remember, I am God and there is no other…there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning…My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure…Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isa. 46:9-11). 

      I’m so glad I belong to a God like that in a day and age like this!  As believers, let’s continue to demonstrate to the world around us the true freedom we have in Christ that provides the purpose, significance and meaning others are desperately looking for in life, thinking they will find it by removing the fences. When those around you are “losing their heads…and hearts,” don’t lose yours. Stay focused on Christ and His Word—that’s the foundation of freedom.


Forever His,

Pastor Dave


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Solar Lights

  It has been a good season for solar lights!! We, along with most of the Northwest, have had a hot, sunny, dry spring and summer thus far, with daily highs from 95-108 (yesterday registered 108!). It is hard to keep lawns, flowers and vegetable gardens alive. For many, it is a serious problem as they are depending on hay and grain crops and no longer have water available for irrigation so are dependent on getting rain, which is still not in the forecast. Or, they have livestock which needs food and water and shelter from the intense heat.  Today was to be our chance of a little rain, and that came but not even in a measurable amount. It just raised the humidity for the remainder of today and the temperature is already back above 90 degrees.  But, our solar lights sure like it!  We have quite a variety of them scattered around and come dark, which isn’t until 11 p.m. or so this time of year here, they really shine, having soaked up all that energy from the sun during the day.
     I am reminded of how, as believers, we are a bit like those solar lights, absorbing energy from the “Son” so that we can shine brightly when it becomes dark. Well, It seems we are getting more and more opportunities to do that as our society continues to grow darker and darker spiritually. The Supreme Court decision last week to approve homosexual marriages is just an example of how far and how fast we are spiraling downward away from biblical, moral, traditional, Christian values. We have seen a rapid erosion in the rights of Christians in this nation, especially in the past six years. It is mind boggling how quickly we have moved away from a place where God can bless our nation as He has in the past. (“”Blessed is that nation whose God is the LORD”…Psa. 33:12).
     As we approach our 4th of July Celebration this coming weekend, I can’t help but think of how difficult it is to handle freedom.  A picture of that is seen in our military. Our men and women in uniform are fighting to protect our freedoms, while they themselves aren’t free to openly express their faith in Jesus Christ. They can be court-martialed for sharing verses from the Bible or telling others about their relationship with Jesus Christ—wow!  Somehow there are those who have come to believe that freedom comes from removing all the restraints on those who wish to express their ungodly, non-biblical lifestyles (see Ps. 2:3), but to suppress any who speak out against them or express a Christian viewpoint. Now is that a double standard when it comes to free speech or what?! 
     But the good news is, the darker it gets, the brighter our light for Jesus shines (just like the solar lights in our yard).  We are hearing amazing testimonies of those who are shining their lights for Jesus, no matter the dark circumstances in which they are. We have stories of Christian bakers, Christian florists, military personnel, and missionaries who are standing up for Jesus when it would be so much easier to just compromise their Christian convictions and  back off and blend in and be tolerant and politically correct. Praise God for those who are “daring to be Daniels!”
     Because of decisions made by our Administration and by the Supreme Court and Congress over the past few years, it is going to become harder and harder for those who wish to openly live out their Christian lives—which all believers are to do. But, it also means that our lights will shine even brighter, provided, of course, that we are exposed enough to the Son that we have the spiritual energy to do so.  It is going to be more and more important to be in close fellowship with the Lord to keep our light shining brightly.  If we start to give up, thinking “What’s the use,” or “Jesus is coming soon, we’ll just bide our time and coast on home,” then we will start blending right into our dark surroundings instead of being lights in the darkness of our world. I think of a verse concerning a couple of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, recorded for us by Luke in Acts 4:13. He wrote: “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”  Their lights shone brightly during the darkness of persecution, because they had spent time being exposed to the Son. That’s the key.
     Jesus challenged His followers—us included—saying, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). Now, that doesn’t mean that if we stand up for Christ and His Word, that everyone around us will cheer and glorify Jesus in response, but it will give them an opportunity to do so. It will open the door to God bringing them to faith. Some may respond that way while others may jeer, boo and cause us grief or even physical harm. But that is between them and God. Remember, Jesus also said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If your were of the world (compromised your beliefs to appease), the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 15:18,19; 16:33).  
    It is easy to be discouraged, confused, and angry at what is taking place in our country, but also keep in mind that it is giving us as believers an opportunity to be the witnesses we were intended to be. When things are easy, peaceful, and comfortable for us as Christians to “do our thing,” we can become complacent and apathetic and forget we need to totally depend on God. Our tendency is to become spiritually lazy. Well, I believe we have been receiving wake up calls. It is time for us as believers to be the salt and light we are called to be (Mt. 5:13-16). Just make sure you have lots of exposure to the Son and your light will be shining brightly no matter what comes—in fact, because of what comes!
                 Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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A Father’s Impact

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and we heard a powerful message from our interim pastor, Dave Simmons, on the importance of the father’s role in the home. The family is the oldest institution on earth, going all the way back to the creation account in Genesis where we read that God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” so He provided a wife for the first man, Adam, and “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 2:18; 1:28). Thus we have the beginning of families as the basic structure of society, and as goes the health of the family, so goes the health of the society and the nation which it comprises.  Note that God created male and female (Gen. 1:27), and provided a wife for Adam. When man starts messing with how God made us and with the family He created, we are playing god and He doesn’t take that lightly and we reap the consequences (see Ro. 1:18-25). 
     God’s plan was for the father to be the loving leader of his home and to be the provider, protector and priest for his family, being the spiritual pace setter.  Unfortunately, when we don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions (in this case, God’s Word, the Bible), we can’t expect the product to function as it was intended, and we may harm or destroy it.  It would appear that is what is happening in our country and world-wide to the family as it is being redefined by man.  George Sweeting, past president of Moody Bible Institute, said, “The rate of failure in fatherhood is actually higher than in any other occupation.”  As evidence of that, our prisons are full of men who didn’t have a father who lovingly led the family.  Another evidence of the impact that a father has on the life of a family is revealed in the results of a survey which showed the probability of a family becoming Christians if one member of the family came to Christ. If a child is the first to be saved, there is a 3.5% chance of the rest of the family coming to Christ. If the first saved is the mother, there is a 17% chance, and if the first to believe is the father, there is a 93% chance that the rest of the family will accept the Gospel and be born again. Wow, that is pretty revealing!  
     Remember when Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned in Philippi for sharing the Gospel? At midnight they were “praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).  God sent an earthquake to shake the prison and open all the doors and unloose every prisoner’s chains (v. 26).  When the jailer, who had been sleeping, saw that, he was “about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm for we are all here!’” (vv. 27,28). When the jailer observed that Paul was right, “he fell down before Paul and Silas and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household’” (vv. 29-31).  Now that doesn’t mean that just because the jailer received Christ and was saved that his household members were all automatically saved, for each member of the household must also believe in order to be saved, but it emphasizes the impact of a father who gets saved. The passage in Acts goes on to tell us, “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household” (vv. 32,33).  The account shows the influence that a father has on his household.
     Having been a pastor for about 40 years, I have observed that the general rule—with a few exceptions—is that “as goes the father, so goes the home.” We have had a number of families where mom brought the children to church and the dad would only come occasionally—if at all. The wife and children would be pretty faithful for a few years when the children were young but usually by the time the children were teenagers, they started following dad’s example, and the mom, discouraged, would soon drop out of church as well. That is a sad story repeated far too often in our nation. General Douglas McArthur, said that he wanted to be remembered, “not for being a great general, but as a Christian father.”  May his tribe increase!  Do we ever need fathers who see their most important contribution to society as that of a loving, Christian leader of their home, with a balance of toughness and tenderness, setting the example of one who is “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  Someone said that “boys follow what men pursue with vigor,” and that is exactly right.
     So, a question, especially for you men and fathers: what are you pursuing with vigor? What is the passion in your life? It is hard for your family to go where your are not leading them. They will tend to follow what you are pursuing, what you show them that is most important to you. Our country  today is void of good leadership because our homes are void of good fathers as role models. May God raise up a new generation of godly fathers and grandfathers. We aren’t expecting perfect fathers—the only perfect father is our heavenly Father—but we need honest fathers who admit their need to depend on Christ, are willing to admit their mistakes and ask forgiveness and who are headed in the right direction.
                       Forever His,
                            Pastor Dave
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Written in Their Hearts

 We had a very unique privilege and honor this past weekend—we had with us to share in our local churches, Don Richardson, noted missionary to Irian Jaya (Indonesia) and author of the amazing story, Peace Child (as well as its sequel, Lords of the Earth along with Eternity in their Hearts and other books). Living in a rural area of the northwest, you don’t get many opportunities to meet and hear folks like Don Richardson. The missions coordinator at Faith Bible Church in Libby, Montana, Joyce (Stuck) Grable (having served many years as a missionary in Ecuador), contacted Steve Richardson, president of the mission group called Pioneers, hoping he might be able to come as a speaker. He said he was too busy to schedule it, but said, “Why don’t you ask my dad. He might be able to come.”  Joyce hadn’t bothered to even try to get Don, thinking there would be no chance!  Well he came and what a blessing to hear how God has worked—and is working—throughout the world in such amazing ways.

     Don emphasized that nearly every culture has some story, ritual or tradition that can be used to illustrate and to apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is incredible the way that God has prepared people to receive the truth. For example, when Robert Morrison, the Anglo-Scottish evangelist and the first Christian protestant missionary to go to China arrived there in 1807, he was quite discouraged when he saw the formidable language barrier that he would have to overcome, thinking, “Why, God, did you allow them to have such a challenging, confusing way of writing. We have 26 letters in our alphabet from which we form words.  They have some 200 symbols—that look like chicken scratching.”  But, as he began working examining these Chinese characters (the oldest written language in the world), he made some amazing discoveries, as many of the symbols showed an account of creation, God, the fall of man, etc. In fact he discovered about 100 such evidences of Biblical influence in the origin of their characters. He asked his translator what symbol they use for “righteous.” It was a picture of a man under a lamb!  He was able to tell them who the “Lamb” is that “came to take away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  For the word “creation” (zao) they had symbols of dust from the ground, God breathing into the nostrils and man becoming a living being with the ability to walk.  Their word for “blessing” (tu) showed God creating a garden.  For the word “ship” (chuan) they had a symbol of eight people in a boat (Noah and his family in the ark).  For “covet” they show a woman making a decision between two trees (the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…Gen. 28:9). 
    Robert Morrison went from being discouraged by the overwhelming task of learning the language to excitement over what he discovered of the hand of God at work long before he ever arrive to share the Gospel. After 25 years of work he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language as well as publishing a dictionary.  When Morrison had first arrived in China, he was asked if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese and he answered: “No sir, but I expect God will!”  And did He ever—and is He ever still today. Thousands of Chinese are coming to Christ monthly.  Partly because of the way He had prepared them for the truth through the characters they use to make up their words and language.
    In 1972, Don and Carol Richardson and their seven-month old son, Stephen, entered into the world of the head-hunting, cannibalistic Sawi tribe in Irian Jaya in the heart of the jungle of Indonesia. Though warmly received (because the tribesman knew that the white man could bring them metal tools like axes, and medicines to cure their sicknesses) there didn’t seem to be a way to convey to them the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don and Carol spent 15 years among the tribe where he designed an alphabet, authored some 19 primers, taught them to read in their native tongue and translated the entire New Testament.  But it was very frustrating sharing Christ with them. They were a warring tribe that believed in revenge killing and treachery. When told the story of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, they saw Judas as the hero in the story!  The Sawi were constantly warring with neighboring tribes, in spite of Don’s pleading with them to stop. It wasn’t until Don and Carol threatened to leave them if they didn’t stop fighting that a change came. They didn’t want the missionaries to leave, so told them about the one way the tribes could make peace and were willing to do it to keep Richardsons from leaving. They would offer a child to their enemy to raise and as long as the child lived, there would be peace between the tribes.  One couple with just one child, an only son, took their child to their enemy and presented him as the “Peace Child.”  The tribe accepted the offering and they stopped warring. Wow, what a breakthrough for the Richardsons—not just to see the fighting stop, but now to be able to share about God’s “Peace Child,” His only begotten Son that He, in love offered  so that we could be forgiven of our sin and no longer be enemies of God, alienated from Him. Now the Sawi understood the meaning of John 3:16 and more than half the tribe trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and soon began sharing their new faith with the neighboring tribes with whom they had previously fought constantly.
     In 2012, Don and his sons returned to the Sawi tribe for a 50th-year anniversary of their initial arrival in the jungles of Irian Jaya.  They were greeted by about 3,000 exuberant believers from numerous tribes and had a wonderful time of reunion and celebration.
     In his book, Eternity in their Hearts, Don relates about 20 stories like the two I have shared with you, of how “The Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts…” (Ro. 2:14,15).  God, in amazing ways, prepares people to receive the truth. So, when you go to share Christ with someone, remember, God has been at work there before your arrival. Look for the ways in which He has prepared them, and use those as the bridge over which to carry to them the truth about Jesus Christ.
                        Forever His,
                            Pastor Dave
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In Memory

Memorial Day weekend is often considered the opening weekend of summer. But beyond the picnics and parades and family gatherings, lies a deeper meaning of an important day of remembrance.Memorial Day is an official federal holiday established in 1971 to remember the men and women of the armed forces who lost their lives while serving their country. The holiday was initially called “Decoration Day” and was instituted after the Civil War to commemorate both union and confederate soldiers who gave their lives. General John A. Logan designated a day for decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country. For years, Decoration Day (later called Memorial Day) traditions have included parades, decorating the graves of the fallen with American flags and a moment of silent remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time—a way of putting “the memorial back in Memorial Day.” G. K. Chesterton eloquently reminded us of the choice our fallen heroes had to make—a choice that ultimately defined their true character: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

     Memory is a gift from God. Sometimes we struggle because of recollection of traumatic events, and sometimes—especially as we grow older—we struggle with a faltering memory, but God has given us a memory on purpose because there are some things in the past that if we were to forget them, we would be impoverished in the present and the future. Obviously on a day like today, remembering those who have paid the price—the price that freedom costs. Thousands upon thousands of households have received that telegram or phone call or have had that knock on the door and are told that a loved one would not be coming home for they had made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country. It is important for us to remember the loss and the grief that comes when we try to secure freedom not only here in America, but around the world. When we don’t remember, it’s as if we are taking for granted the sacrifices that so many have paid for our benefit.
     Jesus understood this principle. Why do we have the Lord’s Table? Why do we celebrate communion and break the bread and drink the cup? Jesus said, “…do this in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:24).  He knew that one of Satan’s strongest attacks on us is to get us to forget what Christ has done for us because it is the remembrance of what Christ has done for us that motivates us to love Him and serve Him. So, this whole pattern of remembering what happened yesterday for the importance of what needs to happen today is rooted in our own relationship with Jesus Christ. And hopefully remembering is not relegated to just one day, Memorial Day, but is a way of life for us as we live in thankfulness for the sacrifice that has been paid—not only for our national freedoms, but for our freedom from sin through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sins.
     A price has to be paid for freedom. God created us to be free, but Satan came along and sabotaged that with the tyranny of sin and placed us in bondage and robbed us of freedom. Jesus Christ came, God in the flesh (Jn. 1:14), made the ultimate sacrifice, that we might, through Him, be set free. Peter wrote: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1: 18,19). By acknowledging our own sinfulness and believing that Jesus bore the penalty for those sins on the cross, giving His life on our behalf, was buried and rose again, we are set free from bondage to sin, self and Satan. Jesus said, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). 
     One of the unique qualities of the United States of America has been its emphasis upon, and diligence to fight for freedom, not only for its citizens but for the citizens of other nations as well. That principle of freedom stems from the Christian roots of this great country. It is Christ alone who can provide true freedom, but also instills in us as believers, such a strong desire for freedom that we are willing to fight for it for ourselves and others. Unfortunately, many of the freedoms we have experienced because of the sacrifice of our courageous soldiers, we are now seeing undermined because we are failing to remember why we have them. We are turning our back on the only One who can provide true freedom. Freedom has “fences.” Those fences are the principles and commands of God’s Word. He who made us, knows what will keep us free and that is by living in alignment with His purpose for our lives. As we stray from following His Word, we find ourselves back under the bondage to sin, self and Satan. We have failed to heed the warning given by the Apostle Paul: “For you were called to freedom brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). He is writing to Christians but the principle applies to nations as well and I’m afraid we are turning our freedom into an opportunity for the old sinful flesh to exert itself, making decisions for our nation which fly in the face of God. We are—and will—reap the consequences (Gal. 6:7,8).
     So, today, in addition to pausing to remember those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our nation, don’t forget to remember the One, who as the  Creator of the universe, came to earth to make the ultimate sacrifice to provide us with freedom. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Cor. 9:15).
                    Forever His,
                              Pastor Dave
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Do You Know the Password?

   For most of us, using a password to gain access to something is a daily reality. We use passwords to log on to computers or internet websites, or to withdraw money from our bank accounts. Passwords are sometimes required to get into an exclusive club or event. And life can get a bit complicated when we don’t know or forget these passwords! 

     The use of passwords dates way back to the period 1380-1050 B.C. which is often referred to as the dark ages of Israel’s history following the death of Joshua. Israel experienced seven cycles of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation and silence. In spite of God’s persistent commands and Joshua’s persistent warnings, the people chose to accommodate rather than annihilate the Canaanites, thereby surrounding themselves with godless and immoral influences. “A task half done is as useless as a task never begun!”   Because of the nation’s compromising attitudes, God allowed neighboring powers to test Israel by war to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD (Judges 3:1-4). Failing these tests, Israel settled down into a downward spiral spiritually, politically and morally. Israel’s failure began with compromise and ended with anarchy. A lesson for all of us that we are to have contact with the world, but not to be conformed to the world (Ro. 12:1,2).
     The book of Judges in the  Bible takes its name from the 12 spirit-appointed military leaders the LORD raised up to deliver the nation during these dark ages of declension and apostasy with no central government (only a loose confederacy around the central shrine at Shiloh.)  At one point, when Jephthah was the judge in Israel, in contrast to a previous judge Gideon, Jephthah exhibited a proud “I-centered” attitude. The result was strife and war among brothers and long-lasting feuds (as characteristic of believers who have lost the sense of oneness in the body of Christ).  The men of Ephraim were jealous of Jephthah’s victory over the Ammonites complaining that they had not been allowed to share in it. The Ephraimites mocked Jephthah’s people, the Gileadites, saying they were nothing but fugitives from Ephraim (Judges 12:1-4).  Jephthah and his men attacked the Ephraimites and cut off their way of escape at the fords of the Jordan. Before anyone was allowed to cross the Jordan, he was forced to say the password, “Shibboleth” (a flowing stream). The Ephraimites could not pronounce this word correctly; they betrayed their identity by saying “Sibboleth” (Judges 12:6).  Tragically, their jealousy and the civil conflict which resulted, cost the Ephramites 42,000 lives.
     As costly as was this example of not knowing—or being able to pronounce correctly—a password, there is another password which is even more crucial for it involves our eternal destiny. In a sense, “Jesus” is our password to gain access to God and heaven. Peter, in addressing the rulers, scribes, and priests in Jerusalem (Acts 4:5-6), said, “…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (v. 12).  In the upper room, prior to His arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus had told His disciples that He would be leaving (going back to heaven, Jn. 14:1-3). Thomas asked how they could know the way to get where He was going (v. 5), to which Jesus replied: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (v. 6). Now, that doesn’t mean just by saying the word “Jesus” that we have eternal life and access to Heaven, it means to believe in the person, Jesus Christ, who He is (the Son of God, and God the Son), and what He did, died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins (II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:24). “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all…” (I Tim. 2:5,6). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).  There are many who use the name Jesus but haven’t entrusted their lives to the person. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Mt. 7:21-24). 
     Not only is Jesus (the Person) the “password” for entrance to Heaven, but He is also the key to effective prayer. Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (Jn. 14:13,14).  Again, this isn’t a just a formula to be attached on to the end of prayers, but means praying for the same things which Christ would desire to see accomplished. It is like using a power of attorney which a very dear loved one has given you. Jesus is the One who makes it possible for us to draw near to God and who brings our petitions before God. In the book of Hebrews, this role of Jesus is described in terms of the high priest of the Levitical order. The writer of Hebrews tells us: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).  
     Christ is not only the “way to heaven” and to access the Father through prayer, but He is the key (password, if you will) to the entire Christian life. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Every victory we achieve in our Christian walk is “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57).  If you have never done so, go through the book of Ephesians and underline every phrase “in  Christ,” or “in Him.”  You will find many! We have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing…in Christ” (1:3).  Jesus, not just the name, but the Person, is the password we must know to have eternal life, and to experience the abundant life He promised while we are still here on earth (Jn. 1:10).  Do you know the password?
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Increasing Entropy



 See if you can tell me what the following observations have in common:

         1)  Since we have had quite a few days without rain, we have had to start 
              sprinkling our lawn and garden. I have planted the “early” things in the   
              garden, such as potatoes, peas, onions and radishes, but after
              sprinkling, I noticed today that we have a blanket of green showing up that I
              didn’t plant—weeds of all sorts.  If left unattended, the garden would be 
              over-run with weeds.
        2) This past year we have had to replace the transfer case and a coil in our
            Chevy Trailblazer and put new tires on the car.
          3)  We have some cedar bevel siding on our house that needs to be replaced
             due to it splitting from the heat of the sun over the years.  And it looks like
             most of the siding and trim are due for a paint job.
          4)  The well pump, after 35 years of service, failed last summer and had to be
             replace, as did our pressure tank.
          5) I had to spray our field again this spring as the daisies and knap-weed have
           started taking over and would ruin the hay that we have cut.
          6)  I need to buy some new (tennis) court shoes. I help with the high school
            tennis team and also give lessons during the summer and go through at least
            one pair of shoes each year.
        7)  The beautiful spring bouquet of narcissus and bleeding hearts that my wife
            had on the table needs to be thrown in the compost as they have wilted.  
    So, what do these have in common?  They are all evidence of a law of science called “The Second Law of Thermodynamics” which is also known as “The Law of Increasing Entropy.”  Entropy means “disorder,” and comes from a root word meaning “to turn within.” Whenever a system is isolated (“turned within”) it always tends to disorder. Entropy always increases, never decreases. In other words, things tend to become more random, disorderly, deteriorate, fade, run down, and wear out.  “The First Law of Thermodynamics,” by the way, is the “Law of the Conservation of Mass and Energy,” which means that nothing is being  created or destroyed, merely changes from one form of energy to another.  But, in changing from one form of energy to another, there is a loss of usable energy, which is “The Law of Increasing Entropy.”  For example you can’t “un-burn a candle.”  The elements that made up the candle are still around, but in a different, more random, form. Another example would be to fill a glass with water and place a couple ice cubes in the water, then let it sit on the table. Soon the ice melts and eventually the water evaporates. The hydrogen and oxygen that made up the water and ice are now part of the atmosphere, existing in a less complex, more random form (disorder has increased). 
      Interestingly, if you go back to the book of Genesis in the Bible, you will find where these two laws of Thermodynamics began. We read that “In the beginning (of time), God created (made form nothing), the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  After giving details of the six days of creation in which God “made the heaven of heaven with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them”’ (Neh. 9:6), “God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. Thus the heavens and all the earth were completed, and all their hosts, and by the seventh day, God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” God was finished with His creation—The First Law of Thermodynamics!  But then man sinned and God placed a curse upon the earth which involved aging, deterioration and death (cf Psa. 102:26).   It included such things as weeds and thorns, making it difficult to grow crops. Hence we have The Second Law of Thermodynamics put into place.  Scientific observation of these two undeniable laws, is really an observation of the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.  And these two laws go totally against the theory of evolution that is being taught as scientific fact in our public classrooms from grade school through college. Evolution says that over time things become more complex and less disorderly, but nature shows us the very opposite; things tend towards disorder and death and randomness.  The mutations that take place that science believes brought about the evolutionary process actually work in the opposite direction for they are predominantly destructive.
     So, why do educators believe in and teach evolution as science and not a theory, and why do they consider creationism to be solely religion and having no place in the class room?  Ultimately the reason is that they choose not to believe in a Creator God to whom they are accountable. If in our mind we are the mere product of time and chance, then we are accountable to no one (at least in our thinking).  The tragic thing about the teaching of evolution—in the face of all the evidence for a recent creation by an all-wise, all-powerful God—is that it becomes a watershed for all sorts of perversion such as homosexuality, abortion, same sex marriage, etc., for if we don’t believe we are made in the image of God, but are merely a high order of evolved animals and that all life came from non-living matter, then there really are no absolutes, no standards by which we should live, and everyone’s opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. (By the way, another law of science which refutes the evolutionary theory, is “The Law of Biogenesis,”’ which states that “life begets life,” that “life cannot come from non-living matter.” 
     The bottom line is that man has bought in to Satan’s lies rather than to believe what God said, and we are facing the consequences in our tumultuous society today. Would you say, from observation, that our society today is more or less “orderly” than it was, say 50 years ago?  Granted, we have always had some disorder and unrest, but the more we ignore and operate in opposition to God (become a closed system without God’s input and guidance), the more disorderly we will become. After all, we not only observe the law of “Increasing Entropy” in nature, but in society. The solution: We need to get back to believing and following God’s Word, for it alone provides the truth about nature, and about life and behavior and how to get along with one another. As God promised to Israel, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” II Chron. 7:14).  The key to a turn-around in our nation lies in the hands, not of politicians, not of our educators, not of our financial experts, but in the hands of believers (“My people”). It is time for a revival of the Church, for us believers to humble ourselves and pray and start living lives worthy of our calling.
            Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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