I Am A God…NOT! [Lesson 6.2]

12 Jul

   Many wouldn’t think that I resemble a god. Maybe at one time in my life, my wife might have said that I looked like a god and that is why she married me – but today, nobody would consider my appearance anywhere near godlike.

  The Bible teaches that man was made in the image, or likeness, of God. What does that really mean? We learned earlier that God is invisible, and He is a Spirit. So we know that the image of God in a man is not a physical likeness. If our likeness to God is not physical, what is it?

Here are 6 ways were are created in His likeness.

1. Personality. Man has the ability to have fellowship with other beings. (Romans 10:8-11)
2. Moral Likeness. Man has the ability to distinguish right from wrong. (Ephesians 4:24)
3. Rational nature. Man has the ability to reason and to know God and others. (Colossians 3:10)
4. Ability to rule. Man is like God in his ability to exercise dominion, to take control. (Genesis 1:26,28)
5. Self-awareness. Man has his own dreams, ambitions, hopes, fears, and motives. (Psalm 139:13-16)
6. Social nature. Man organizes his life according to the basic social unit: his family. (Genesis 2:18)

  Knowing this can help us understand more fully how very special man is and how superior he is to other creatures.

  OK, I admit that I don’t look like a god. I’m just glad that I am still special in God’s sight.

 26 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image,
make them reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
27 God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.

Genesis 1:26-27 (The Message)

I’m Pretty Special! [Lesson 6.1]

11 Jul

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:26-28

 It is incredible to me that some people believe that the “theory” of evolution is a valid explanation of the origins of humans. They teach this theory in schools as if it were truth.

Most rational people know that nature left to itself tends to lose quality, rather than improve. Things wear out. Order begins to show signs of disorder. Creatures adapt and change but they don’t become completely different creatures.

Here are 5 reasons I know that I didn’t evolve from an animal:

1. I have the power of speech – the amazing ability to communicate both concrete (real) and abstract (theoretical) ideas in a dynamic and creative way. This newsletter is proof, although I will admit that I question the creative part!

2. I have the ability to enjoy beauty. When was the last time you saw your dog appreciate the beauty of anything (besides a fire hydrant). Even if he could, he couldn’t communicate it to you!

3. I have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. (My parents might have disagreed with this when I was younger.) Animals can be trained to know when a certain behavior will have negative consequences but it will never learn that something is morally wrong.

4. I have a deep sense of the need to worship a superior being. I know my dog worships me but that’s an exception! Really, do you think your dog actually has the capacity to worship? All humans are born with a Jesus shaped hole in their heart.

5. I can plan ahead, anticipate future needs and bring about changes of events. Just getting our four daughters to church on time is a testament to that! Animals can learn what to do in certain circumstances but they don’t creatively plan these events. Animals react and adapt.

In Genesis, we learn that all creatures were created by speaking them into existence. God said it and they were there! Man was different. God molded man. Created man from the earth and breathed life into man. Man is a special creation of God. Made in His image.

I’m glad we are special.

Angels: Powerful Servants [Lesson 5.5]

9 Jul

    Angels are very powerful. In the book of Revelations, we read about all of the extraordinary things the angels are going to do on God’s behalf. How is this for a description.

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion.” (Rev 10:1-3a NIV)

  That is an awesome description of a very large being! I wouldn’t want to tangle with him! In fact, if I saw him, I might even think he was God! We read later on in Revelations that John was so overwhelmed by the angels power and majesty, that he bowed to worship the angel.

“After this, I heard the sound of a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God. Glory and power belong to him alone. His judgments are just and true. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and he has avenged the murder of his servants.” Again and again their voices rang, “Hallelujah! The smoke from that city ascends forever and forever!” Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, from the least to the greatest, all who fear him.” Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a huge crowd, or the roar of mighty ocean waves, or the crash of loud thunder: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice and honor him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the finest white linen.” (Fine linen represents the good deeds done by the people of God.) And the angel said, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. For I am a servant of God, just like you and other brothers and sisters who testify of their faith in Jesus. Worship God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” Revelation 19:1-10 (New Living)

  You see, even as great and mighty as the angels may appear, they are also created beings. God also made them to worship Him! They were created to bring glory to God. That is why the angel wouldn’t accept worship. He knew that he also was a servant of God.

  Satan never learned that.

  If you read to the end of the book, you will know the rest of the story.

Angels: God’s Warriors [Lesson 5.4]

8 Jul

(page 230)

  The man in black leather was back in Ashton, running down the streets and then through the alleys like a man possessed, looking behind him, panting, crying, terrified.

  Five cruel spirits rode on his back, ducked in and out of his body, clung to him like huge leeches, their talons deeply embedded in his flesh. But they were not in control. They too were terrified.

  Just above the five demons and their running victim, six angelic warriors floated along with their swords drawn, moving this way and that, to the right, to the left, whatever it took to keep the demons herded in the right direction.

  The demons hissed and spit and made shooing motions with their sinewy hands.

  The young man ran, swatting at invisible bees.

  The young man and his demons came to a corner. They tried to go left. The angels blocked their way and prodded them with their swords to the right. With a cry and a terrible wailing, the demons fled to the right.

  The demons began to cry for mercy. “No! Let us alone!” they pleaded. “You have no right!”

  Just up the street, Hanke Busche and Andy Forsythe were walking together, taking some time to share their burdens and pray.

  Right alongside them walked Triskal, Krioni, Seth, and Scion. The four warriors all saw what their comrades were herding their way, and they were more than ready.

  “Time for an object lesson for the man of God,” said Krioni.

  Triskal only beckoned to the demons with his finger and said, “Come, come!”

  Andy looked down the street and saw the man first. “Well…!”

  “What?” asked Hank, seeing the dumfounded look on Andy’s face.

  “Get ready. Here comes Bobby Corsi!”

  Hank looked and cringed at the sight of a wild-looking character running toward them, his eyes filled with terror, his arms beating the air as he battled unseen enemies.

  Andy cautioned, “Be careful. He could be violent.”

  “Oh, terrific!”

  They stood still and waited to see what Bobby would do.

  Bobby saw them and cried out in even more terror, “No, no! Leave us alone!”

  Heaven’s warriors were bad enough, but the five demons wanted no part of Busche and Forsythe. They twisted Bobby around and tried to run away, but were instantly hemmed in by the angelic six.

  Bobby stopped dead in his tracks. He looked at nothing ahead of him, then looked at Hank and Andy, then looked again at his unseen enemies. He screamed, standing still where he was, his hands claw-like and trembling, his eyes bulging and glazed.

  Hank and Andy moved forward very slowly.

  “Easy, Bobby,” Andy said soothingly. “Take it easy now.”

  “No!” Bobby screamed. “Leave us alone! We want no business with you!”

  An angel gave one of the demons a prod with the tip of his sword.

  “Awww!” Bobby cried out in pain, collapsing to his knees. “Leave us alone, leave us alone!”

  Hank stepped forward quickly and said firmly, “In Jesus’ name, be quite!” Bobby let out one more scream. “Be quiet!”

  Bobby grew still and began to weep, kneeling there on the sidewalk.

  “Bobby,” said Hank, bending down and speaking gently, “Bobby, can you hear me?”

  A demon clapped his hands over Bobby’s ears. Bobby did not hear Hank’s question.

  Hank, hearing from the Spirit of God, knew what the demon was doing. “Demon, in the name of Jesus, let go of his ears.”

  The demon jerked his hands away, a surprised look on his face.

  Hank asked again, “Bobby?”

  This time Bobby answered, “Yeah, preacher, I hear you.”

  “Do you want to be free from these spirits?”

  Immediately one demon answered, “No, you don’t! He belongs to us,” and Bobby spit the words in Hank’s face, “No, you don’t! He belongs to us!”

  “Spirit, be quiet. I’m talking to Bobby.”

  The demon said no more, but backed off sulkingly.

  Bobby muttered, “I’ve just done a horrible thing…” He began to weep. “You gotta help me… I can’t stop from doing this stuff…”

  Hank spoke quietly aside to Andy. “Let’s get him somewhere where we can deal with him, where he can make a scene if he has to.”

  “The church?”

  “Come on, Bobby.”

  They took him by his arms and helped him up, and the three, and the five, and the six, and the four headed up the street.

(excerpt from This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti)

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12 (New Living Translation)

Angels: Ministering Spirits [Lesson 5.3]

7 Jul

I mentioned before that one of my favorite books is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti. Although a work of fiction, it really draws a mental picture of how we fit in to the spiritual war that is going on around us. Angels and demons interacting in human lives. Demons trying to make humans stumble while angels fight for them or minister to them. In the next few posts, I’m going to give you a small taste of this book. Peretti’s imagery is far better than any I could attempt.


(Page 13)

Then the first sound was added to the picture: a soft, muffled sobbing from the end of the right pew. There, kneeling in earnest prayer, his head resting on the hard wooden bench, and his hands clenched with fervency, was a young man, very young, the blond man thought at first: young and vulnerable. It all showed in his countenance, now the very picture of pain, grief, and love. His lips moved without sound as names, petitions, and praises poured forth with passion and tears.

The two couldn’t help but just stand there for a moment, watching, studying, pondering.

“The little warrior,” said the dark-haired one.

The big blond man formed the words himself in silence, looking down at the contrite man in prayer.

“Yes”, he observed, “this is the one. Even now he’s interceding, standing before the Lord for the sake of the people, for the town…”

“Almost every night he’s here.”

At that remark, the big man smiled. “He’s not so insignificant.”

“But he’s the only one. He’s alone.”

“No.” The big man shook his head. “There are others. There are always others. They just have to be found. For now, his single, vigilant prayer is the beginning.”

“He’s going to be hurt, you know that.”

“And so will the newspaperman. And so will we.”

“But will we win?”

The big man’s eyes seemed to burn with a rekindled fire.

“We will fight.”

“We will fight,” his friend agreed.

They stood over the kneeling warrior, on either side; and at that moment, little by little, like the bloom of a flower, white light began to fill the room. It illumined the cross on the back wall, slowly brought out the colors and grain in every plank of every pew, and rose in intensity until the once plain and humble sanctuary came alive with an unearthly beauty. The walls glimmered, the worn rugs glowed, the little pulpit stood tall and stark as a sentinel backlit by the sun.

And now the two men were brilliantly white, their former clothing transfigured by garments that seemed to burn with intensity. Their faces were bronzed and glowing, their eyes shone like fire, and each man wore a glistening golden belt from which hung a flashing sword. They placed their hands upon the shoulders of the young man and then, like a gracefully spreading canopy, silken, shimmering, nearly transparent membranes began to unfurl from their backs and shoulders and rise to meet and overlap above their heads, gently undulating in a spiritual wind.

Together they ministered to their young charge, and his many tears began to subside.

(excerpt from “This Present Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti)


For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 (New Living Translation)

Do angels change flats? [Lesson 5.2]

6 Jul

     In November of 1992, my best friend’s grandfather, who raised him, passed away. Paul and I were both in the Marine Corps at the time and Paul was training in Norway. (A plug for the Marines: When something like this happens, if at all possible, they will move mountains to get a Marine back to his family.) It turned out that the earliest flight he could catch would put him into Charleston, SC at 6 a.m. the next morning. Paul’s wife, Jalinda called me at 10 p.m. wondering what to do. I received permission from my superiors to drive her the 6 hours to Charleston to pick him up so he could then drive to up-state New York for the funeral. We left at about 11 p.m. from our home in North Carolina and drove straight to Charleston. As we left, we asked God to go with us and protect us on the all night trip and to also be with Paul as he was flying back from Norway.

     On the outskirts of Charleston, there is a two-lane bridge that resembles a big McDonalds sign. It is so long in fact that there is a little traffic island between the two humps of the M. As we were crossing the first hump, we realized that we had a flat tire. It was about 5 a.m. and nobody was on the road. We pulled off to the side of the road when we reached the island. I got out and asked Jalinda where the jack was – it wasn’t with the tire. She didn’t know and we spent the next 15 minutes looking for it without a flashlight. We didn’t notice an old white van pull in behind us. An older gentleman got out and asked us if we needed help. We thanked him and said that we couldn’t find the jack. He went into his van, got a flashlight and a jack and proceeded to change the tire for us. All the while asking us about our trip and the reason for it etc. When he was done, we offered to pay him but he refused and told us to have a safe trip back to North Carolina and express his sympathy to Paul. We got into our car and as I was looking to see if it was safe to pull onto the bridge, I noticed the van wasn’t there. We could see the bridge in both directions and the van wasn’t on the road. The bridge was so long that we should have been able to see it in either direction. There wasn’t anywhere else that the van could have gone. It just disappeared.

     We both were speechless. We both somehow knew that we had just been helped by an angel but we couldn’t quite understand it. We just sat in silence for the rest of the trip trying to process what we had just seen. We got to the base just before Paul landed. We picked him up and drove back the 6 hours on his little donut spare. Paul and I always talked about God, and this trip was no different. I shared with him our experience on the bridge. He shared with me his experiences getting out of Norway. He was in a remote mountain base and had to be flown by helicopter to an base so he could catch an Air Force cargo run to the states. We tried to come up with different reasons why we didn’t see the van leave. I went over and over in my mind where the van could have been. We pondered the exact timings of the different phone calls and flights to get Paul home. We realized that this whole trip, from him being able to get out of Norway with such short notice, to our trip to South Carolina and eventually his trip home was all super-natural. We knew that somehow, somewhere, we were being assisted by God’s angels.

     Hebrews 1:10 says, “God calls his angels ‘messengers swift as the wind, and servants made of flaming fire.'” and then in verse 14, “But angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation.” God sends His angels to minister to us. The Apostle Paul was encouraged by an angel. Peter was miraculously delivered by an angel. An angel spoke to Abraham and Sarah and promised them a child. David acknowledged that he had been protected and delivered by angels. Jesus, on at least two recorded occasions, was strengthened by angels (Mat 4:11, Luke 22:43).

I am just glad angels know how to change flat tires.

Angels: Do They Exist? [Lesson 5.1]

5 Jul

     My family always took long driving vacations. We would pack up the camper and drive a predetermined route, camping and seeing the sights for up to two weeks at a time.  On one of these trips, when I was about 11, we were traveling on a highway, somewhere in Montana where in either direction, you could see the divided lanes of the interstate, seas of wheat fields and little else. As we were driving, we noticed a blue shape in the median ahead of us. If you traveled at all during the early 70’s, you know it was not uncommon to see hitch hikers all along the highways. As we got closer we could tell it was a person. I remember asking if we could stop and pick him up. We had a full car so we couldn’t. As we got closer, we could make out more details. The blue was a long flowing blue robe that looked like something Jesus might wear. Closer. Now we see it is a man. Long hair. Closer. Long beard. He’s waving to us. Big smile. We pass him. I turn around to see if he is still waving to us. He isn’t there! Gone. Invisible. Disappeared. Unbelievable.

We cannot read the Scriptures without observing that they support the existence of angels. Colossians 1:16 (The Message) says, “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels–everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”

I have always thought our blue robed hitch hiker was an angel. I wonder what would have happened if we would have picked him up?

Biblical Fireworks

4 Jul

I just heard this on the radio and I thought how appropriate it was for our Independence Day. Here is a fireworks display – courtesy of David.

Happy Birthday America,

May God continue to bless us.

Psalm 19

    1 The heavens tell of the glory of God.
       The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.

    2 Day after day they continue to speak;
       night after night they make him known.

    3 They speak without a sound or a word;
       their voice is silent in the skies;

    4 yet their message has gone out to all the earth,
       and their words to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens
       where God placed it.

    5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom
       after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete
       eager to run the race.

    6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens
       and follows its course to the other end.
       Nothing can hide from its heat.

    7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
       reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.

    8 The commandments of the LORD are right,
       bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear,
       giving insight to life.

    9 Reverence for the LORD is pure,
       lasting forever. The laws of the LORD are true;
       each one is fair.

    10 They are more desirable than gold,
       even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey,
       even honey dripping from the comb.

    11 They are a warning to those who hear them;
       there is great reward for those who obey them.

    12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
       Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

    13 Keep me from deliberate sins!
       Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt
       and innocent of great sin.

    14 May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
       be pleasing to you,
       O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Holy Spirit: Church Planter [Lesson 4.5]

1 Jul

Church planters are confronted with all sorts of issues. There isn’t a blueprint when starting a church. Look at these quotes from some church planters.

“My role is to start African American churches in the 5 county metro east area.”

“We want to help plant churches anywhere to reach bikers for Christ.”

“We have two fields of ministry. One, to Spanish-speaking Hispanics and, the second one, is a ministry to English -speaking Hispanics.”

“It began with a vision to be a “culturally sensitive church that enables individuals to become fully devoted followers of Christ.”

“It began without a building, congregation, or salary for the pastor.”

All of these quotes present different cultural challenges. I’m sure that the biker church will look a lot different than the African American church. Even the two Hispanic churches will face different obstacles because of language.

The disciples faced similar challenges growing the church. As the church grew and crossed national, cultural and religious boundaries, questions arose which required answers consistent with Scripture and Christian love. Natural human prejudice threatened to divide the body of Christ, but the leadership of the Holy Spirit enabled James and the apostles to resolve the difficulties and give wise counsel.

The early church started mostly as Jewish converts. They still kept the Law but believed in Jesus as Savior. As the church grew, gentiles were being converted. All at once, there was a cultural conflict. Some believers thought that the gentiles should follow the Law and become circumcised. Paul and Barnabus argued against that position and eventually were sent to counsel with the disciples and the elders of the church in Jerusalem. Eventually it was decided that Gentiles wouldn’t have to follow the old testament Law but, in an effort to promote unity in the church, they decided that Gentiles should not eat food offered to idols, consuming blood or eating meet of strangled animals. It also directed them to abstain from sexual immorality.

Even though the disciples delivered this message, it is interesting to note who made the decision – from Acts 15:28-29(NLT):

28“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these requirements:
29You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or eating the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

The Holy Spirit was sent to direct in the proper administration of the church. He still does that today. No matter the cultural differences or other challenges we might face, there is still one truth – salvation comes through faith, repentance and true belief in, and acceptance of, Jesus Christ as our Savior.