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Fireflies

As I walked my dog on this humid night, I watched as the trees, bushes, and grass were illuminated by fireflies. And in the quiet, as my eyes followed the flashing lights my mind took me back to a June night 24 years prior…

June 1994 a dark humid night, the radio playing quietly in the background. On that night I wasn’t walking though, I was in the passenger seat of a car. My mom was driving, my two sisters and my older sisters boyfriend, Jeremiah, were asleep and I was looking out the window as we made our way into the Midwest and then on into Ohio. Ohio our new home. A home I didn’t want to go. A home far away from our real home in California. Far away from my friends. Far away from my school. Far away from everything. Ohio a place I couldn’t even find on a map.

As we drove deeper into the humidity and closer to Ohio I watched as the bushes became illuminated by–I didn’t know at first–then my mom said, “Fireflies.” They were beautiful. It was about the only beauty I saw in this move…it wasn’t beautiful to take a 16 almost 17 year old away from all his friends in the middle of High-School. My older sister she was just coming to see our new home, she’d be going back to California with her boyfriend for college. My little sister. She was young. She could adjust. But me, my heart was broken.

I thought about that tonight as I saw the fireflies illuminating the night, and I said a prayer of thanks to The Lord for “breaking my heart” at 16 because it saved my life.

In Ohio, the home I didn’t want. I found the home I needed. A home I only lived at for three years, but it became the home I still claim. The home where I made my best friends. The home I named my eldest son after (Dayton). Most importantly the home I met Jesus.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding….” -Proverbs 3:5

 

 

Do Not Be Silent!

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Prior to all this there was a law that stated all Jews must register with the government and wear a visible gold star of David. If these Jewish individuals did not register or did not wear their Stars of David they were subject to monetary fines and or imprisonment.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

In 1938 prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Joseph Goebbels the German Propaganda Minister orders the Storm Troopers (SA) and other Nazi party formations to destroy the homes, businesses, and houses of worship of Jews while fire fighters and police are ordered to stand by and let it happen, it is known as, “The Night of Broken Glass.”

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Following the Night of Broken Glass, prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—The Nazi state imposes a fine of one billion Reichsmarks ($400,000,000) on the Jewish community in Germany. Jews are ordered to clean up and make repairs after the pogrom. They are barred from collecting insurance for the damages. Instead, the state confiscates payments owed by insurers to Jewish property holders. In the aftermath of the pogrom, Jews are systematically excluded from all areas of public life in Germany.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—Jewish children are banned from entering museums, playgrounds, and public pools. They are also expelled from their schools.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

If scripture was ever used to defend such cruelty would we stand by and be silent?

The United States of America, 2018—About 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the border of Mexico over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Attorney General of The United States of America, Jeff Sessions.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

One day in the future my Adventist brothers and sisters—

“There will come a time when, because of our advocacy of Bible truth, we shall be treated as traitors.” –Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6 p.394

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Do not be silent!

WATCH THIS! PLEASE!

This sermon is by one of my dear friends and one of the best preachers. Find an hour and watch this message…I have not been moved, convicted, rebuked, encouraged more by a message in years!

Scripture Memorization 4 of 52: 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

-2 Corinthians 5:17

We should not define for ourselves what it means to “become new” in Christ, rather we should let the Bible define it for us. If I define “newness” apart from the scriptures I may make “newness” into the image I want it to be in. I might say, “well I no longer swear therefore I am new.” Even though I may gossip. I might say, “I no longer do drugs therefore I am new.” Even though I may never exercise or drink water. I might say “I no longer fornicate or commit adultery.” Even though I may have lust in my heart. Do you see why it is dangerous for us to define “newness” in Christ for ourselves?

Scripture Memorization 3 of 52: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What a challenging text! Not to memorize, but to live by!

Rejoice always…REALLY?

Pray without ceasing…REALLY?

In EVERYTHING give thanks…REALLY?

To read this text without pausing to think about what it means is daunting. And even when we do have an understanding of the meaning it can still be difficult, but it is a great scripture to put to heart because the words of Jesus are true, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) And if we learn in the midst of the trouble of this world to rejoice, to pray, to give thanks we will find a way through those trials and tribulations.

Scripture Memorization 2 of 52: Proverbs 3: 5, 6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” -Proverbs 3:5, 6

The meter of the poetry literature of scripture makes this text and others like it more easily retained within our memory banks. In fact this scripture like last weeks (Psalm 119:105) is likely one that you put to memory years ago, maybe even when you were a child receiving a star on the memorization chart in Sabbath or Sunday school. I know that is true for me.

Fifty-Two Scriptures

At the beginning of 2016 I announced to my church and here on my blog that I would be blogging through the Bible daily. I took this challenge on to help motivate our Spencerville Church family to study the Word of God consistently. It was an ambitious goal, but one I thought I could definitely achieve. Needless to say, I WAS WRONG! I believe I only made it through about 140 days give or take a few. Praise God though many still read through the Bible in a year even without the motivation of my daily blog.

Now in 2017 our church has once again set forth on an endeavor to read through God’s Holy Scriptures in one year. If you would like to follow the reading plan that Spencerville Church will be following in 2017 (a different plan than last year) you can do so by signing-up for our weekly update at the bottom of Spencerville’s website, and since we are already into 2017 here are the readings for this the first week of January:

Worship Service From Spencerville December 24th, 2016

Blogging the Bible: 2nd Thessalonians

I want to focus on chapter 2 verses 9 & 10 from today’s reading in this post.

As a pastor there are people whom like to share with me all kinds of “conspiracy theories” especially as they are related to the “end times” or rather the role those “conspiracy theories” will play in bringing about the end of time. Often these “conspiracies” are secrets, things most people can’t see but they are happening.

In the scriptures there is absolutely no evidence…

Blogging the Bible: John 1 & 2

Today we began the Gospel of John, to many their favorite Gospel and according to some polls like Biblegateway.com’s poll the favorite book in all the Bible with none of the synoptic Gospels in the top 10. John is not my favorite of the four Gospels (Luke is my current favorite, it used to be Mark, so one day it could be John :)), but it does possess some of my favorite passages in all of scripture like John 3:17…yes I know everyone else talks about John 3:16 also great, but I love John 3:17.

One of my favorite stories, a story that some scholars doubt that it should even be in the Bible or the veracity of it, I embrace it as a true part of the canon, John 8:2-11.

And of course John gives the most clear picture of the role of the Holy Spirit in all the Bible (John 14-16)

The Gospel of John is a great book and you’ll be blessed reading a portion of it every seven days for the next several weeks.

In all the Bible there is much we can spiritualize, which is not always a bad thing, it helps us add personal application, but at times we should address what is really being said because those perspectives can add great application as well, just such a topic appears in the first chapter of John,

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” -John 1:11

I have heard and I have applied and I do apply this to myself and really all humanity. Since we were all made by Him John 1:3 in a true since we are all Jesus’ “own people.” But that application is really a spiritualization of the text. The literal idea/intent John is expressing is that Jesus, came as a Jew, came to the Jews–first–His own people–His remnant, and they rejected Him. Now John is not talking about individual Jews, he is speaking of the corporate system of Judaism. Why do I even point this out? It is not to pick on the Jews, but to point out Jesus was not a Jew exclusively for Jews. His mission in the book of John is very clear, He is a global Savior. The very next two verses reveal this,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” -John 1:12, 13

“To ALL,” who are the “ALL”? Those that were not born simply as Jews by blood/flesh/will of man, though this does not eliminate the ability of a individual born Jewish to be saved, but that salvation is no longer and should no longer be perceived as a matter of birth, but as a matter of heart!

Then we see again in John 1:29 a mission statement for Jesus and we see again it is global not localized to the Jewish nation,

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” -John 1:29

Jesus’ mission is for all humanity and His desire is that all humanity will receive Him as their Savior. We are all invited to be part of the remnant of His seed.

Tomorrow’s Reading: The book of 2nd Thessalonians

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