Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 22, 2018

The Santa Fe High School Tragedy

Dimitrios Pagourtzis

Why?

A question that is in the minds of many who have heard of the shootings at Santa Fe High School by a young student there is why. What made that young man think the answer to whatever problems he felt he had was the shooting of high school students. Such rage and anger toward his classmates is difficult, if not impossible, for many of us to even imagine; what had gone on in his life that resulted in such a twisted solution in his mind?

We may or may not ever know the full answer to that question but the sad results of his tragic decisions have taken ten lives, left others with injuries and many lives in tatters.

Now we hear the loud cries for more gun control, as if the problems could more effectively be resolved if only there were more laws restricting the distribution and ownership of guns; the idea being to protect young people like Dimitrios by more stringent control over their access to guns; to put things they might use to harm themselves or others out of their reach.

Is Gun Control Another Effort to Childproof the Room?

The recent mass murders in Sante Fe, Texas  have once again provided an occasion to beat the drums for gun control. The mantra being if only we had better gun control something like this would not have happened. The fact of the matter is guns are inanimate tools and have no agenda whatsoever; killing is instigated by people, not guns.

Inanimate tools are nothing more than that, just tools; whether you pick up a gun, a knife, an axe, a stick, a hammer, or a chainsaw it is nothing more than an inanimate tool that can be used according to the will of the user. It can be used for either good or evil but that is a decision made exclusively by the user, not the tool. I have written more on this in “Money, Guns, Tire Tools, and Christianity.

While the death of 10 people in Sante Fe is a terrible thing, it is a small number by comparison with the 762 killings in Chicago in 2016. Chicago just happens to have some of the most extensive gun control laws in the United States but this seems to do little good for those people who got killed anyway. The Associated Press distributed a press release on January 1, 2017 with this headline: “Chicago Ends Year With 762 Killings, the Most in 2 Decades”

Whether a gun, or any tool, is legal or illegal it can be equally deadly in the hands of a killer!

A Monumental Effort in Misguided Good Intentions

Our three children were born between 1957 and 1961 and were close enough in age to essentially grow up together. By the time our first boy was born we were enthusiastic students of the Bible and spent a lot of time rejoicing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As Christians who believed the Bible was the inerrant word of God we had already decided it was “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Based on that conviction we decided to raise our children in the ways of the Lord and proceeded to follow Biblical teachings in their upbringing. We believed the child should be taught how to behave and exercise the self-discipline needed to refrain from doing that which was unacceptable.

We had also come to believe in certain principles of life and living that would help our children establish a solid foundation for their lives; the first was an unconditional love on which they knew they could always depend.

The second was a principle I had picked up from Scouting Magazine; this had to do with the importance of establishing parameters of acceptable behavior. The children had to understand where the limits were on their behavior; in effect they had a fence around their lives beyond which they were not allowed to cross. Any crossing over the fence would result in discipline which brings up the third principle.

The controlling thought behind the third principle, discipline, was not severity, but certainty; the discipline didn’t have to be severe, just certain. This was a principle I had picked up during my short but intense period of service in the United States Navy. The axiom was “It is not the severity of punishment that counts but the certainty of it.”

I’m happy to report that this system produced excellent results; the children learned at an early age that self-discipline was a much better alternative and chose to exercise the self control needed to avoid parental discipline. The fact of the matter is their teenage years were rather fun for the entire family; at least most of the time.

By Way of Contrast

I mentioned above the concept of childproofing which is the real subject of the essay. When our children were very young we observed what appeared to us as a strange and unworkable phenomena.  Young parents of our acquaintance were embracing a new concept which included never saying no to their children and never disciplining them for their misdeeds. The idea seemed to be that such negative actions would harm their young psyches and hamper their development into productive adults.

In order to avoid creating situations that might cause the children to do something bad the parents were childproofing their houses so the little children couldn’t reach those things that might break or cause them to harm themselves or others. Anything thought of as breakable or dangerous was put out of reach of the children. Such a room was childproofed as far as the parents could make it.

I can recall speculating with my wife on the potential difficulties these children might face when they moved out into society and lacked the self-control to discipline themselves.

I had overlooked one significant and unexpected development; the same parents that would try to childproof the room would later try to childproof society as well. That is pretty much where we seem to be today; we see efforts all around us to remove the dangerous things, like guns, out of reach of the adult/child that has never learned how to exercise self-control.

I think on occasion of the verse in Proverbs 22:15 where it is written:

“15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

It would appear this foolishness is now bound in the heart of many adult/children and is being nurtured by society as it continues to futilely attempt to establish a childproof environment free of dangerous things. The problem is not environmental, it is internal and can only be successfully dealt with at the spiritual level.

The Real Problem

One of the questions being addressed by the media today is why did Dimitrios Pagourtzis go on a killing rampage; what happened to cause him to carefully plan and then murder all those people. Out of all the discussions appearing on the major news shows there has not been one reference to a spiritual problem that I’ve heard about.

The Bible makes it clear that Dimitrios Pagourtzis, just like every other human being, was born spiritually dead and from all appearances was spiritually dead at the time of the shootings; his fallen sin nature was always in control of his life and guided him in all his decisions. Fortunately the fallen sin nature does not guide everyone who is under its control to commit mass murder but it does inevitably result in eternal separation from God.

The only deliverance from this curse is the new birth which comes with salvation by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Even if, by some stretch of the imagination, society was able to perfect the environment and successfully make all of society childproof that would in no wise solve the problem of sin and lawlessness; the basic problem is internal, not external. This is clearly demonstrated by the experience in the Garden of Eden and the coming experience during the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perfect environment is not and never will be the answer to man’s sin problem; the only answer is the new birth, you must be born again!

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be Saved!

Updated and revised from an earlier essay.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 18, 2018

Christian Marriage, Part 2

Marriage as a Mission Field

I met my future wife when she was 16 and I was 18 years old; we were both at a performance of the opera Faust presented by the Metropolitan Opera on tour in Houston, Texas on May 1, 1951. We were instantly attracted to each other and started developing a relationship that resulted in our marriage eighteen months later.  At the time I had not attended church for years due to complications in my family life but I was a born-again Christian who did love the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Having been initially raised in a Southern Baptist Church, I had found the Lord as my Savior as a young boy and been baptized when I was 12 years old. Two years later my childhood was to hit some rough patches which resulted in my not darkening the doors of a church for several years leading up to my discovery of my wife-to-be.

While I knew Jesus as my Savior and a few Bible stories, I knew almost nothing about serious Bible doctrine and was definitely a babe in Christ! My future wife was a good church girl and after I met her we would sometimes go to her church where I got to know some of the people she knew. It never even occurred to me to think about her salvation or whether or not she was born-again.

It was only after we were married that she came to know the Lord as her personal Savior; I have described this event in Once Upon a Time We Moved Back to Texas. God’s hand of grace had moved in her life and she turned to the Lord for her deliverance from sin. What is rather sad for me is that during this whole process I didn’t have a clue what was happening to her; I was little more than an ignorant bystander watching it all happen; I was just a babe in Christ starting to grow up just a little bit.

What Does the Bible Say on This?

Suppose a born-again Christian is married to one who is not; then what? The Bible does not leave us in doubt about that point; in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 it is written:

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

There is nothing I can add to that, the Bible is clear on what God expects.

Letting This all Play out in Life

Any marriage is the joining together of two unique individuals; each with their own dreams, agenda’s, aspirations and priorities. A dangerous pitfall in marriage is to think of the other person as an instrument by which your dreams and fantasies will be fulfilled. I wrote briefly on this in “The Painted Veil that Hides Reality.”

“The heart of the movie can possibly be reduced to one line spoken by Dr. Walter Fane to his wife Kitty, “It was silly of us to look for qualities in each other that we never had.” To some degree, each had come into their marriage with preconceived notions of how it would be and how the other would respond. This, of course, is the never ending challenge to young couples entering into marriage; separating fantasy from reality.”

The ideal would be entering into the marriage relationship with a full understanding of the facts of life regarding the other’s individuality and that will never happen unless there is careful instruction before marriage. The next best alternative would be for the young couple to recognize this fact of life, accept it and make peace with it as quickly as possible. It is critical to any marriage that the “silliness” of fantasy fulfillment be removed from any marriage as quickly as possible.

My wife and I got married when she was 17 and I was 19; we had a lot of growing up left to do and had decided to do it together. By God’s grace, love and mercy we have been able to sort things out and make our marriage work now for over 65 years. The best part about the whole thing for us is the great joy we share just being together; we have 65 years of life together and can share the memories of a lifetime. May God be praised!

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”  KJV

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 11, 2018

Christian Marriage

Separating Fact from Fiction

Today we live in an age where marriage seems to be more of an afterthought and, in some circles, an unnecessary obstacle to companionship; the driving force can frequently be more physical than spiritual. The focus is more on the satisfaction of an immediate need rather than a long-term commitment to another human being. While everyone has needs, marriage was established for the long haul; a lifetime commitment to the other person, “till death do us part!”

Over my 50 plus years of Bible teaching I have worked with groups of single adults in a broad spectrum of ages, many of whom have been divorced. There seems to be a greater effort being made by the church today to help the divorced than to help young people who are looking to get married. I’m of the opinion that helping young people better understand what true Biblical marriage is all about would be an excellent use of church resources but I know of no such programs being offered on any significant scale.

The Gift of Marriage

While the Biblical standard for marriage, one man and one woman for life, is under attack for a variety of reasons including divorce, and same-sex marriage; marriage, as an institution, was established by God while Adam was still in the Garden of Eden; God had determined that it was not good for a man to be alone. In Genesis 2:21-24 it is written:

“21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

Eve was God’s gift to Adam to provide the help he needed in almost all aspects of Adam’s life; most importantly the generation of descendants. God instructed Adam and Eve to have children as this was God’s plan to populate the world; we are all descendants of the first married couple, Adam and Eve.

I think it is important to see God’s perspective on the union of Adam and Eve, “the two are united into one.” This is a lifetime joining of two people into one flesh and not to be broken. I will testify with total conviction and complete sincerity that raising up descendants is a full-time job for both a husband and a wife!

What Does the New Testament Say?

The essential starting point for any Christian who is looking to get married is to understand how vitally important it is to only marry another born again Christian! Christian marriage is addressed in several places in the New Testament. My favorite is found in Ephesians 5:21-33 where it is written:

“21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

I have noted, with interest, the Bible instructs me to love my wife whereas she is to respect me; while I know she loves me, the Bible does not specifically state that; perhaps the wife’s love must be earned by the husband.

As husband I am the spiritual leader and told I must make my wife holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. How many young men who marry their brides are consciously aware of their spiritual responsibility to their future wife; how many of them are thinking of their leadership role in spiritual matters; I, for one, did not. They certainly will not if they have never been taught!

Next time, “Marriage as a Mission Field.”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 4, 2018

85 and Counting, a Work in Progress

 Global Media Outreach

A New Phase Begins

Oh, happy day, after 46 years I finally graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. I had not even dared to dream such a thing was possible and now, by God’s grace, I had finally completed what I had started in the early 60’s, I completed my studies at DTS and graduated!

Global Media Outreach

It was to be almost three more years before the second major event of my retirement unfolded; one Sunday in January of 2012 there was an announcement at church of a new program called Global Media Outreach; a call went out for volunteers and I decided that sounded like something I could do so I volunteered for the program.

I took the training required and was admitted to the program a few weeks later as an online missionary; since then I have worked continuously in the program and GMO reports I have reached over 3,400 people and received over 12,200 replies. I have the joy and privilege of working with people all over the world as they seek to know Jesus Christ and grow in their faith; it has been a remarkable experience!

What has been a particular joy has been the small group of people who have shown a strong interest in Bible study; there are some I’ve been working with now for several years who have shown remarkable spiritual growth. This is a rich opportunity to have an impact for the Lord in spite of my age.

Life from a Christian Perspective

Another area where I invest a substantial amount of time is my weblog, “Life from a Christian Perspective.”  I started writing my weblog in July of 2011 and have, to date, published 338 essays which cover a broad range of topics all generally related to either my life or the Christian life.

By 2011 I was feeling a certain sense of loss as I realized that I had never had a deep spiritual conversation with anyone in my family as a child growing up. I had no clear confidence that my father was even a Christian and while I had some confidence that one of my grandfathers was I had questions about the other.

I decided to make sure that everyone in my family knew exactly where I stood on the deeper spiritual issues of life and decided to write it all down as a legacy for my family. While I knew that our children had all received Christ as their personal Savior I felt I was remiss in not having had those same deeper spiritual discussions with them that I was missing in my own childhood.

My wife had suggested I write a blog but my immediate response was to deny that I was a writer; it did however spark my curiosity about writing a blog and within two hours I had written and published my first one, “A Starting Point“. Since then I have published one on a regular basis and have even come to enjoy the whole writing process, especially with a word processor on a computer!

Facebook

What may be a possible third opportunity is developing as this is being written. Another avenue for outreach has belatedly come to my attention, called Facebook. I have discovered a huge number of Christians who use Facebook as a means of discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ and have enthusiastically joined in.

Through Facebook I have had the opportunity to meet many brothers and sisters in Christ who regularly visit and correspond with one another. It would please me if I could find myself in a position to help some and what is interesting, being 85, in some societies, is a positive thing as there is a respect for age not generally found in the United States.

While I have a fairly clear picture of what the opportunities with Global Media Outreach are I am still largely in the dark about the opportunities with Facebook. My goal is to help Christians discover and more fully implement in their lives the blessings and joys they can have by faithful obedience to God’s commands; at this point I do not know if Facebook will help in the pursuit of this goal.

There is a tremendous amount of interest from many people in many nations in discussing the Christian life and the challenges the world, the flesh and the devil present to all Christians. Time will tell how, and if, this will all develop into an additional teaching ministry and it appears, once again, I’m in for another journey of discovery.

I just checked and I have 165 friend requests and have been working diligently over the last several days to process as many of them as I can as quickly as I can. I can truly say I have no idea where this is all going but it may be filled with opportunity to have an impact for our Lord which I never dreamed possible; we live in interesting times.

I have discovered that the three opportunities that have helped shape my retirement have a symbiotic relationship; each feed off the others and provides some sort of a mutually beneficial resource for the others. Things are still in a developmental phase but show promise.

My Free Time

While I devote the majority of my day to the three opportunities listed above and my responsibilities as “the man of the house”; I still try to find time to indulge my hobbies; i.e. my interest in computers, reading, and home theater/music.  I’m not only a fan of ballet, opera, and symphonic music I also enjoy action movies and science fiction movies. I have been an audiophile since I discovered high fidelity around 1951 and have enjoyed high quality audio and video for many years.

My music/movie system does an exciting job of recreating music and video and provides hours of pleasurable listening for me. It has been fascinating to watch the development of home audio and video equipment since the mid 1950’s; we’re living in a whole new world now with digital technology creating new possibilities of beauty and performance excellence. I had discovered classical music by accident as a child and it became a part of my life. (Music and Movies at Home)

Mystery Solved!

For many years I wondered what the last of my life would be like; now I know and can confirm with complete sincerity; there’s no place on earth I’d rather be than at home with my beloved wife doing those things the Lord has entrusted to my care!

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be, 

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith ‘A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God; see all, nor be afraid!

Robert Browning, 1812-1899

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 27, 2018

85 and Counting!

I Find It Hard to Believe I’m That Old!

Every once in a while, the thought will come to me, I’m 85, and I’ll laugh, that certainly sounds old but I don’t seem to feel all that old in the least. I celebrated my 85th birthday in February and I’ll have to admit that my body is sending signals that some things are beginning to wear out or slow down and, as I’ve mentioned in A Surprising Discovery, my perceptions and priorities are continuing to change dramatically.

This has all been a very gradual process and has generally been rather easy to ignore, at least most of the time, but nevertheless the change has been steady and, as we know, inevitable. Both my wife and I have tried to take some steps to live sensible lives and have been fairly careful about what we did and how we did it and as a result have succeeded in maintaining a comparatively good level of health for people our age.

We have long accepted that the seeds we were planting in our lives as young people would begin to bear fruit as we grew older and are now beginning to see what sort of fruit those seeds are producing.

One of the most important seeds we planted as young people was our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We are now reaping a harvest of joy and rejoicing in the Lord that brightens every day of our lives together; we are having a joyous time just being together and sharing our lives.

Keeping Busy at 85

I retired from 36 years in the home building business in 2004, I was 71 years old at the time and had really planned on working until I was 75 but for several reasons decided to cut it short and retired at 71. This September it will be 14 years of retirement and my life has taken some exciting turns.

I had read about others retiring, getting bored and even dying so I wondered where my life would go after I retired. Would I get bored without a job or would I find something new to occupy my time; fortunately, the Lord had made plans for me even if I hadn’t. While there was never a time when there was nothing for me to do, it was going to take some time for a new direction to become clear to me.

I am definitely a “technophile” and enjoy our computers and my home theater; that alone can occupy many hours of the week so I always have that as a fallback position; there was, however, going to be something more the Lord had in store for me and that would involve going back and finishing something that I never once dreamed would even be possible.

As a young man I had attended Dallas Theological Seminary with the goal of full time ministry service for our Lord; those plans were not to be as financial difficulties brought those dreams to an end, or so I thought. We stayed in Dallas for almost 10 years (see An Aerospace Diversion) as I hoped something could be worked out but as time passed it became evident to me the Lord had something else planned.

Back to Houston

We decided to move back to Houston and I found a job in home building where I worked for 36 years and retired which brings us back to 2004. Four years later, in December of 2008, I got an email from Dallas Theological Seminary, (I had enough hours there to get emails from them as an ex-student). That was probably the most exciting email I had ever gotten because it announced a special program for ex-students that would permit them to return, complete their work and actually graduate from DTS.

I was beside myself with excitement, failing to graduate from DTS had been a burr under my saddle since the early 60’s and the opportunity to complete my studies there and graduate was a dream come true! I lost no time in sending in my application and with the help of the Admissions Department was able to enroll in the January, 2009 Spring semester. Later I recall being told mine was the first application they received for the new program. I was ecstatic and took to my studies like a duck takes to water (a favorite expression of mine).

I’ll never forget how difficult it was for me the first time; I was getting around four hours sleep a night and having to study hard and work hard both. We had three children and our daughter who was born at that time came down with double pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. This was a remarkable time of testing for both me and my wife!

This time I was retired and didn’t need to work so I could devote as much time as I wanted to my studies; my heart went out to the young people in my classes as I remembered the stress and strain we experienced the first time around.

By that May I had finished the work DTS required of me and was able to join with my fellow graduates and finally, after 46 years, was able to graduate and get rid of that annoying burr under my saddle! (I’m the one in the white circle on the left)

Next time, more on the new way of life that was developing.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 20, 2018

God’s Love Never Fails!

Art by Adele Bower ©

Loving the Unlovable

When reading the description of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:1-2 it is almost impossible to imagine this person as the author of the New Testament’s chapter on love. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

In the following verses, however, we read of a miracle, a miracle of God’s love reaching down and loving the unlovely. In verses 3-6 we read, “3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From that point on, Paul was a changed man, something had happened to him that defies any natural explanation; from a persecutor of Christians Paul became a devoted Christian evangelist and apologist in a turn-around so dramatic the early church had difficulty even believing such a profound change was even possible!

We can all be truly thankful to God that with God all things are possible. Paul had been deeply and completely changed and was now prepared to devote his life to the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ; instead of breathing out murderous threats he was breathing out the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s Love for You

One of the things I have observed about getting older is the sad fact my collection of memories about personal sin is also growing. I can remember what seems to be an almost endless list of failures on my part for which I have been forgiven by God’s unmerited and undeserved grace. I rejoice in the promise of confession and forgiveness we have been given in 1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

There are times when I feel particularly unlovely and unworthy of God’s love; how can God love such a wretched man as me? This, of course, is my sin nature talking and is itself sin which needs to be confessed. The Apostle Paul speaks to the in Romans 7 and concludes with this statement: ” 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The Bible is clear, our basis for operation is faith, not feelings; feelings are treacherous and not to be trusted, we must operate on the basis of what we are told in the Bible, what we know to be God’s truth for His children as revealed in His word; the entire 8th chapter of Romans exults in this marvelous fact!

God is completely aware of all of your sins, even those of which you may not be aware, yet He loves you perfectly and completely and always will. Verses 38 and 39 in Romans 8 are sources of never ending joy for me; they tell us, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What beautiful, wonderful words of assurance, Praise God!

The Greatest of These is Love

In 1 Corinthians 13 the one who was Saul of Tarsus, that unlovely persecutor of Christians who became the Apostle Paul, tells us of the beauties and wonders of love. He concludes the chapter with these words, “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In verses 8-10 Paul wrote, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

Why then, of those three, is love the greatest? The Bible explains that in several places; first with regard to faith we are told in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When we are home with our Lord we will see what we have hoped for all of our lives; faith and hope will have been replaced by sight. We will see and be in the presence of the one we worship as Savior and God. The overwhelming reality will be love, our love for the one who made it all possible, the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the greatest and most enduring of these is love.

God’s Blessings to His Children

As Christians we are told we will live out our entire lives as soldiers of the Lord on a spiritual battle field; God knows full well the impact of the spiritual war on His children; He knows all too well the impact of Satanic attack on the lives of His children. In His grace and mercy, God has provided the helper needed to make it possible to rejoice in Him always and the way to let the helper provide the needed help at all times. The helper is the Holy Spirit of God who was given to us when we received Christ as Savior and will never ever leave us.

The way we call on the Holy Spirit for help is the confession of sin so the fruit of the Holy Spirit can characterize our lives. In Galatians 5:22-25 it is written, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Notice the first quality mentioned is love; when our lives are controlled by the Spirit of God we can manifest Godly love to all. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul had described this kind of love when he wrote, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Please notice that everything listed in those verses places the emphasis on doing, not feeling. I believe the revered King James Version of the Bible used a word that conveys the thought more accurately, charity, we are told to maintain a charitable attitude toward others. While it is not feasible to try to achieve a warm personal feeling toward everyone it is possible to have a charitable attitude toward everyone; to exhibit those qualities described in verses 4-7.

A Final Thought

One of the joys of loving people and all of God’s creation with a Godly, charitable love is a better understanding of how God can love us. If each of us, with all of the flaws we know we possess, can love each other and God’s creation, it becomes much easier to believe a Holy God, who is free of all of those flaws, loves us as much as the Bible tells us he does.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 13, 2018

Do God’s Blessings have a Price Tag?

Is it Going to Cost you Something to Enjoy God’s Blessings?

While the Bible makes it very clear that salvation is free to all who believe it did require a huge price to be paid by the Lord Jesus Christ; a price so monstrous that no one but our Lord could pay it. While the physical suffering was unspeakable the spiritual suffering he endured as he took upon himself the sins of the entire world was infinitely greater I suspect and could not have been borne by anyone else. Christ alone was qualified and able to take upon himself the punishment he had to endure to bring salvation to all who would simply believe on him and receive him as their Savior.

There is, however, a price that each of us must pay if we are to grow in our faith and enjoy the blessings God has for his children. In our Lord’s closing words in Matthew 28:18-20 he tells his disciples:

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Notice particularly verse 20 where the Lord says “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” I’m reminded of some verses in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 15:20-23 where King Saul is speaking to the Prophet Samuel:

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else.21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

Disobedience Will Cost You

King Saul had been given a clear command from the Lord by the Prophet Samuel; in 1 Samuel 15:1-3 it is written:

“15 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

King Saul’s failure to obey God cost him the kingdom; he had been rejected by God for his disobedience to God’s command! I mention this to show how much obedience to God’s commands means to God; while King Saul partially obeyed the command he decided to do certain things in a way that seemed good to him and which were contrary to God’s command. By comparing verse 3 with verses 20 and 21 you can see how Saul thought he had a better plan.

How Does All This Apply to Christian Blessings?

Notice in Matthew 28:20 how the Lord once again places an emphasis on obedience; the God of the New Testament is the same one as the God of the Old Testament and obedience to God’s commands is just as important now as it was then. Sadly it appears that too many Christians want to view God’s commands the same way Saul did; they want to pick and choose those commands which appeal to them with the freedom to delete, add, or modify God’s commands as they choose.

While we are now living in a remarkable age of God’s grace there is still a price to be paid for failure to faithfully obey God’s commands and that is the absence of God’s blessings to the extent they might otherwise be available. God’s commands are given to benefit his people, not constrain or hamper their happiness but to ensure a full and joyous life before the Lord.

The Price of Disobedience

Time after time I encounter people who have disobeyed God’s commands, found themselves in difficult situations and only then looked to God for help and deliverance from those problems. It is surpassingly foolish to think one can ignore God’s commands, make bad decisions and then escape the consequences of those bad decisions.

While we can confess our sins to God as described in 1 John 1:8-10 and be forgiven and have the power of God, the Holy Spirit restored in our lives; confession of sin to God will not reverse the consequences of our bad decisions and sometimes those consequences can be very painful. I am saddened as I watch each new generation come along and fall into the same trap of thinking their way is better than God’s way.

The Price You Must Pay for Blessing

The truth of the matter is that each new generation of Christians must be taught the importance of obedience to God’s commands, we are not born with that knowledge and must be taught as we are growing up that God’s commands are given to enrich our lives; to make them the very best they can be.

If you would enjoy a blessed life then there is no substitute for your careful study of Bible doctrine and the faithful application of Bible doctrine to all of life’s situations and challenges!

It seems all too often the organized church sees its responsibility toward young people as being to keep them entertained, not to teach them. Failure to give young Christian people a solid foundation in Bible doctrine is doing them a very great disservice!

The Bottom Line

If you are to enjoy God’s blessings to the greatest possible degree it is vital you be obedient to God’s commands. God’s commands have been given to help you stay out of trouble and enjoy life to the fullest; you ignore them at your own peril! Please don’t think you can ignore God’s commands, live life as you please and still have the blessings promised to those who obey!

“Obedience is Better than Sacrifice!”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 6, 2018

“No One’s Ever Really Gone!”

Star Wars, the Last Jedi ©

It’s Happened Again

This past week I got my Blu-ray disc of “Star Wars, the Last Jedi” and I’ve now watched it twice and enjoyed it even more the second time. In this movie I found a scene toward the end where the character Luke is speaking to his sister, Leia and makes the comment, “No one’s ever really gone” which has triggered my response; once again the Star Wars universe has expressed something that is actually true in our reality. No one, in fact, is ever really gone; as human beings we are all created in the image of God and are eternal and will always exist in some form.

While it is true our mortal bodies are but temporary abodes; casting off our bodies made of the dust of this earth is not the end of us but only the next step toward who we are in the process of becoming!

God, our creator, is in the process of conforming us, as born-again Christians, to the image of his Son, the Second Person of the Trinity; you are, in the truest sense, a work in progress, you are eternal and your destiny is indelibly written in the “Book of Life”!

Think about that for a moment, there will never, ever be a time when you are not present somewhere in the form God has planned for you; there are some exciting times ahead for you, like it or not! The Bible speaks to this in Romans 8:28-30 where it is written:

“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The really exciting part of our reality is we have been called to be a member of the family of the creator of the universe; if that fact doesn’t grab you by the shoulders and shake you till your teeth rattle then you’re simply not grasping the enormous reality of who you are and what’s planned for you by your creator! As a Christian you are incredibly precious to God and destined for great things which are sure and inevitable; you will ultimately be glorified by God!

A Fearful Contrast

While the future for Christians is wonderful beyond our imagination, the future for those who reject the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is terrible beyond our imagination. The Bible is equally clear on the future that awaits those who reject Christ as Savior. In Revelation 20:11-15 where it is written:

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Earlier in that chapter we are told, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” there is no end to the time of judgment, no time off for good behavior, no end of the sentence; a judgment that will never end, never!

While we now live in the age of God’s grace, mercy and love we should never forget the consequences of rejecting the free offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. You are free to accept or reject Christ as Savior but you are not free to escape the consequences of your decision and please believe me when I say your decision will have massive consequences that are either wonderful or terrible!

In September of 2011 I published an essay, “What is Reality? where I wrote:

“We too are being individually judged by God for inclusion in His eternal family. The only truly significant decision with intrinsic value we can make in life is our membership in God’s family; all other decisions are insanely trivial by comparison.

God has made that decision as easy for us as He can; just believe on His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity as one’s personal savior and membership in God’s eternal family is secured.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have effectually and successfully responded to true reality; your life will have been a success regardless of whatever else may happen.”

 Art courtesy of “Star Wars, the Last Jedi” – TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 29, 2018

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Beginning of the End

The End of What?

Tomorrow is the day we observe Good Friday and while that is the day we remember the crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; Easter Sunday is the occasion we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. A historic change in man’s relationship to God had occurred; by God’s grace the barrier between God and man that had been created by Adam’s deliberate sin of disobedience had been removed by the death of our Lord, the Second Adam from above.

You may recall in Genesis 2:15-17

“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Unfortunately Adam choose to disobey God and when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he, and all of humanity present and future died in Adam. As I’ve observed before, that means that you and I and every human born of a human father are born spiritually dead. It is the sin of Adam that created the barrier between God and man and the primary reason the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death as our kinsman-redeemer.

The Tearing of the Curtain on Good Friday

God gave us a symbol of the removal of this barrier when, at the time of the crucifixion, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that access to God was now open to mankind through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for all human sin for all time; sin had been removed as a barrier between God and man. As hard as it may be to imagine, personal sin is no longer the issue; the only remaining issue requiring resolution is receiving the forgiveness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The Good News

Because of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end had come for sin as a barrier between God and man. This is effectively expressed in 1 John 2:1-2 where it is written:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

I have written more on this in Is There One Unforgivable Sin?

The church can now proclaim a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and good news for a suffering humanity:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

(First published April 3, 2015, revised and updated)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 23, 2018

Palm Sunday 2018 and its Enormous Significance!

March 25, 2018 is Palm Sunday

This Sunday we observe and remember the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where He had come to die. This week was to be a terrible time of testing for the Jewish nation although they had no idea of the great significance of what was to happen from that point on.

The exact date for this momentous event had been prophesied by the Prophet Daniel and that prophecy, among many others, was being perfectly fulfilled by our Lord as He rode into the city. I would say it was certain that among the tens of thousands present that day only the Lord understood the staggeringly wondrous truths that were being put into place as that amazing prophecy was fulfilled.

Four hundred and eighty three years had passed since the beginning of the third and final group of three 490 year periods that had been given to Israel by God. The second group had ended with the Babylonian captivity and now the third group of 490 years had been put on hold at year 483 as also foretold by Daniel; I have written on this in some detail in a three part series, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.

Israel was being set aside for an unspecified number of years while a mystery was revealed, the mystery of the church and the age of grace, the age in which we now live. The remaining 7 years promised to Israel would resume at a point yet future when Israel would sign a covenant with the Antichrist.

The Entry into Jerusalem

Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being temporarily set aside, their rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.

It is likely, in His omniscience, that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.

From the Shephard’s Notes.com (I encourage you to follow this link!)

There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nissan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nissan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.

God’s Passover Lamb put on display

On March 30, AD 33, the 10th of Nissan, the Father put His Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best. (In 2018 we are in year 5778 according to the Jewish calendar and the 10th of Nissan will be Monday, March 26th.)

After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,985 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.

The countdown clock on Israel’s last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown and the beginning of the Tribulation.

While this was an amazing week, filled with suffering and anguish for our Lord and judgment for Israel, it was the reason our Lord took on human form; that was necessary that He might die for our sins. The moment of triumph was coming soon, the following week our Lord would rise from the dead having perfectly paid the price of our redemption.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

(First published March 28, 2015, updated and revised)

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