EXPERIENCING “POURED OUTNESS”

Several years ago, I wrote a blog on what I call “poured-outness,” which I would like to revisit with a renewed perspective.  It is my prayer that it will prove beneficial.

The original blog was penned as the result of an inquiry of someone, the crux of their inquiry being, “Help me understand why it is that when I pray for others I sometimes become overwhelmed with emotions to the point of crying? The presence of the Holy Spirit often moves me to tears, but this is something entirely different.”

I fully understand such an inquiry, as when the Lord burdens my heart to pray for someone I experience the same emotions. When praying for others whom the Lord has laid upon my heart to   lift before His throne of grace I become overcome by what I call “poured outness.”

Are such emotions when praying for others simply the result of one just happening to have a sensitive personality and spirit that is easily touched no matter the situation, or is there a spiritual explanation for being so overwhelmed when interceding on behalf of others?

Oswald Chambers writes, “Once the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives.” When we become through prayer so identified with the Lord’s interests in other people there develops a connection in our spirits with the needs of others in such a way that it touches our emotions in an unusual way. Their hurt becomes our hurt, their need becomes our need, their pain becomes our pain; and we have a deep-seated inner desire to see God’s best unfold in their lives. When our soul experiences “poured-outness,” like Jesus, we are privileged to taste what it is like to be touched with the feeling of others’ infirmities as our Lord was touched (Hebrews 4:15).

Paul spoke of being poured out like a drink offering for Christ in his service for others (Phil. 2:17). Chambers calls upon Christians to become “broken bread and poured-out wine.” He asks the question, “Are we willing to be broken bread and poured out wine in Jesus Christ’s hands for others?” When we truly pour out our hearts in prayer and service on behalf of others we experience in our souls that “poured outness.” When such a cord is struck in our spirits we cannot but help be overwhelmed as we in oneness of spirit identify ourselves with the hurts and needs of others and the desire to see God’s best unfold in another person’s life.

As believers are we willing to become the means by which others become partakers of Christ’s life? Are we willing to become like a poured-out drink offering for the Lord? It is not always easy to be poured out for others, yet is not this the example Jesus sets for us who call ourselves Christian – “little Christ.”

This beautiful quote by theologian P.T. Forsyth speaks to the “poured outness” that is experienced when serving the Lord, “[We] are living elements in Christ’s hands – broken and poured out in soul, even unto death; so that [we] may not only witness Christ, or symbolize Him, but by the sacrament of personality actually [communicate] Him crucified and risen.”

It is often easy to proclaim the Gospel, give money for the spread of the Gospel, but we are called to do much more. We are called to present ourselves a living sacrifice (Romans 12), one who becomes broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus that through us He might nourish and feed others.

When we yield ourselves to Christ, requesting that He use us as broken bread and poured out wine, we will find ourselves entering new levels in our “poured outness.” Realizing the pouring of wine is the result of grapes being first crushed, sometimes in our service and in our interceding for others we sense “crushness” in our spirits that creates in us from deep within emotions that results in tears, like wine, flowing from our eyes. Yet they are more than tears, we are releasing New Wine on behalf of others. It is in those moments we humbly become aware that we have reached a new level of awareness of God using us as a vessel to pour out His wine on behalf of others.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

TAKING TIME TO REFLECT

Everyone has dates in their life that they mark special on the calendar.  It might be one’s birth date, an anniversary date, the date of one’s Christian conversion, the date of a significant purchase, and the list goes on. Yes, we all treasure special days that for us overflow with significance.

November 7….it is a date that holds special meaning for me. It is a day I take time to reflect.  It was four years ago, on November 7, 2013, that I received the last of 43 radiation treatments for prostate cancer.  Though the four years since have flown by faster than a jet with a tailwind behind it,  in the autumn of 2013,  five days a week, totaling 43 times, I lay on my back on a hard table with eyes fixated on red dot on the ceiling, while some huge, strange Star Wars looking machine hovered over the top of me shooting into my body radiation beams whose mission was to destroy cancerous cells. While undergoing those treatments, time moved slower than a snail on a cold day.  Like a bad nightmare from which I could not wake,  I thought they would never come to an end. But this too shall pass. I am most grateful,  that since my last treatment four years ago, my every-six-month visit to the Dr have all proven to find me doing remarkably well. I am most thankful for all the good reports I have received and thankful to the Good Lord for all those in the medical profession who He allowed to cross my path that had a hand in my current well-being.

I have been asked on many occasions if I have had any side effects from the radiation. The answer is, “Yes, I have.” Let me focus on the positive side effects. I have the side effects of still being alive, of having been drawn closer to the Lord, of realizing what is truly important in life, of a shift in priorities, of having a greater appreciation for life, of realizing that every day lived is truly a precious gift from the Lord, of esteeming good health of greater value than all the gold and diamonds in the world, of having a more sensitive spirit, of meeting wonderful people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met, of being able to help people and pray for people that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity, of having my emotions touched more deeply, of having my heart at times overflow like a river bursting its banks until water fills my eyes, of treasuring the beauty of a bright smile, of the gleeful joy of listening to the melodious music of laughter, of realizing that the blessing of loving relationships are more important than any material blessing, of grasping that life is finite and fragile and is not to be misused or abused, of being able to hear the Voice of my Lord more clearly, of sensing His presence more keenly in my life, of counting communion with Christ a jewel to be greatly prized, of having a desire to be more faithful and fruitful in service of the Lord until He calls me home, of having a more thankful spirit, and of coming to realize that the little things in life are actually the big things. Those are just a few of the positive side effects I received from radiation treatments, side effects that  would take  the language of angles for me to express my gratitude and thanksgiving.

Four years ago I never thought I would say this, but if I could go back to June 13, 2013, at 6 pm when the stunning words of the Dr compassionately informed me that I had prostate cancer, and I could change his words to say, “Dan, you are cancer free,” I would not change the Dr’s life-altering words. For though the “c” word (cancer) had invaded my life, another “C” word (Christ) invaded my circumstances and turned a curse into a blessing.

There is no circumstance bigger than our Lord. His presence is all encompassing, His promises are all unfailing, His power is unlimited, His grace is all-sufficient, His Word is forever true, His Light always shines in our darkest hour, His strong arms are always comforting, His peace anchors our soul, His eyes are always upon us, His holy shock-absorber is makes smoother the rocky roads of life,  His understanding of our situation is  all-embracing, His hope is always sustaining, and while His hand may sometimes be hard to trace His heart can always be trusted. There are not enough superlatives to describe just how amazing and awesome our Savior is in His ability to work all things together for our good if we will but trust Him.

Yes, November 7, 2013, is a date burned into my inner most being. It reminds me that in the various seasons of life, in situations far beyond our ability to cope with or handle, God’s gracious Hand works in our soul enabling us by His power to turn a trial into triumph and to take what we initially thought was a tragedy….and turn into a treasure of great worth!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

THE ROOT CAUSE OF OUR SOCIETAL WOES

When one has a reoccurring problem, there is a reason the problem continues to reoccur. Too often we treat the symptoms, without getting to the root of the problem. You can cut a weed to the ground, but if the root is not plucked-up the weed will continue to persist.

As I look at society today we are being overtaken by a lot of weeds such as callous lawlessness, disrespect for authority,  irresponsibility, moral confusion as to what constitutes a male or female believing gender is fluid, the collapse of traditional marriage, loss for the sanctity of life in the continued slaughter of the unborn through abortion, the flippant and non-remorseful attitude many have in regard to taking another life through violence, the continue push to legalize euthanasia, and the push for genetic engineering that seeks to rid society of those who are perceived to be non-productive to the state and a burden to society….and the list goes on. What was once considered wrong is now right, and what was once considered right is now wrong. We continue to see society spiraling downward further and further into a cesspool of moral and spiritual confusion as to what is right and wrong.

What is the root  cause of the problem? It seems the moral compass of humanity is not just broken, it has been smashed. We have exchanged the Judeo-Christian Ethic on which this nation was founded, for moral relativism. By slowly casting aside the moral standards found within the Judeo-Christian Ethic, we have decided we will build a morality derived from surveys, referendums, public opinion, rogue judges, and the shifting sands of our perception of what we believe the standards should be. Since we have become a society that seems to no longer anchor morality in the principles found within the Judeo-Christian Ethic, then the end result is that there is in actuality no standard of morality to which we can appeal, it is that which is right in one’s own eyes. When one adopts a philosophy of moral relativism, the result is that what is right today is wrong tomorrow and what is wrong today is right tomorrow. Moral relativism always views morality in a flux.

Humanity is faced with a choice: (1) that man is his own god, therefore, he can according to his own whims determine what is right or wrong, the end result being utter societal chaos; or (2) there is a God who created us who has established some basic moral principles that are best for living an orderly life and having an orderly society. It seems the day in which we live man has chosen the former path. Such a choice has plunged society into utter chaos. The collective conscience of society today has been influenced to believe you can have morality without religion….and yet history has proven over and over again this is not possible.

Many years ago my father was laying a row of bricks. He asked me if they were straight. Eyeballing them, I said, “It looks straight to me.” Then my father laid a level on the bricks and the level revealed it was not perfectly straight. The level became the standard by which he straightened the row of bricks. We as a nation have abandoned our moral level, the Judeo-Christian Ethic, and are now just eye-balling it as we go along. Our moral “eyeballing” has carried us to the very edge of the precipice of societal collapse.

Our second president and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, was correct when he said, “Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Our fourth president  and also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Madison, stated, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Our Founding Fathers were wise to acknowledge God as the source of our rights, and were prudent to weave the Judeo-Christian morality into our founding documents and laws, and into our values and culture to help prevent society from becoming chaotic and one where anarchy prevails. While not all the Founding Fathers were traditional Christians, they were believers in the moral principles found within the Bible’s pages, and they put those principles into our nation’s founding documents, laws, and into the culture.

Today we think we are wiser than our Founding Fathers and those who have gone before us, so we cast aside the “level” they used to keep anarchy from occurring and have replaced it with our own misconstrued morality concocted from our own warped moral compass. And we are certainly finding out what happens when a society replaces the Judeo-Christian Ethic with moral relativism, it leads to a toxic culture of chaos, confusion, and death.

If we continue on the wayward course we are on, our own demise is inevitable. To continue to remove the Judeo-Christian Ethic from American’s collective conscience and the values espoused therein is to completely undo what our Founding Fathers fought and died for and what has held this nation in good stead for over two centuries. We can continue to treat the symptoms of the chaos we are now witnessing in society, but until there is an acknowledgement that moral relativism is a failure, and there is a return to the values of the Judeo-Christian Ethic we will continue to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand of moral morass of which eventually there will be no return.

Blessings,

Dr. Dan

JESUS CHRIST IS OUR EVERYTHING

In the book of Revelation Jesus makes this astounding claim, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). What an amazing and remarkable statement by Jesus. The alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is  as if Jesus is saying, “I am everything from A to Z.”

From the alphabet we make words, and Jesus Christ, who is the living Word of God, is God’s full revelation,  and communication to humanity. Jesus is the full expression of God to the world. He is the only alphabet we need to reach the Father. If you and I are going to reach our Holy God, we must go through Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega. Jesus Christ is truly our everything.

An examination of Scripture clearly reveals Jesus Christ is our all in all; He is the all sufficient One; He is everything from A to Z.

A – Advocate (I John 2:1). “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Jesus alone is qualified to plead the case of sinful man before the Holy Father.

B – Burden Bearer (I Peter 5:7). “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

C – Crucified Lord of Glory (I Corinthians 2:8). Jesus was more than a mere man dying on the cross, He was the “crucified Lord of glory” giving Himself for you and I.

D – Desire of all nations (Haggai (2:7). All that humanity seeks after and longs for is found in Christ who is “the desire of all nations.”

E – Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23). The One conceived in the Womb of a Virgin was more than a babe, but “they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

F – Faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5). “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,” is One we can trust unreservedly His every word and way.

G – Gift of God (John 3:16; 4:10). To the Samaritan woman Jesus revealed Himself as the “gift of God” and to Nicodemus He spoke the eternal words of Good News, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

H – High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus, as our “great high priest,” not only offered the Sacrifice for our sins, He was the Sacrifice.

I – Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34). Jesus “ever liveth to make intercession” for us. He is “at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

J – Justifier (Romans 3:26). Job asked, “How can a man be just with God” (Job 25:40)? Paul declares that He is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

K – Kings of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Kings come and kings go, but Jesus, as the “King of Kings” has had more declare allegiance to Him than all kings of all the ages combined. And when all is said and done He will be only King standing victorious.

L – Lamb of God (John 1:29). As Jesus came walking down the dusty road toward the Jordan River John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God which cometh to take away the sin of the World.”

M – Messiah (John 1:41). Jesus fulfilled perfectly every Old Testament messianic prophecy that spoke of the Messiah’s coming. The words of Andrew echo down through the ages, “We have found the Messiah.”

N – Never changes (Hebrews 13:8). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

O – Omniscient One (John 1:48). Just as Jesus told Nathanael, “When you where under the fig tree, I saw thee,” He, as well, sees and knows our every situation.

P – Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). As the “Prince of Peace” He alone can bring peace to our troubled hearts in turbulent times.

Q – Qualified One (II Corinthians 5:21). Jesus lived without sin and “knew no sin” which makes Him the Qualified One “to be made sin for us..that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

R – Risen from the Dead (Mark 16:6; Revelation 1:18). The angel proclaimed to the women who searched in vain for Him at the borrowed tomb, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” And two thousand years after the proclamation of the angel, Jesus assures us, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.”

S – Savior (Matthew 1:21). And Mary called “his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

T – Truth (John 14:6). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”

U – Unfailing Love (Psalm 119:41; Mark 10:21; John 11:5; Romans 5:8). His love is unfailing and He demonstrated unfailing “love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

V – Vine (John 15:5). “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

W – Word (John 1:1-3). Christ as the Word is the eternal expression of God, our Creator becoming a Man and dwelling among us and “all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.”

X – eXalted One (Philippians 2:8-11) Because Christ “became obedient unto death, even death of the cross, For this reason also, God highly eXalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Y – Yoke (Matthew 11:28-29). To the weary Jesus issues a timeless invitation, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Z – Zion’s King (Psalm 149:2; Zechariah 9:9). “Let the people of Zion be glad in their King.” We can rejoice and “Zion; shout…behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation.”

What a Savior we have! He is the All-Sufficient One…and more!! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

Yes, Jesus Christ is our everything.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

 

EMBRACING THE VALUE OF HISTORY NOT SANITIZING IT

What is history? History has to do with the study and knowledge of past events and occurrences. It is the task of those in the present to research and make sense of what happened in the past, both good and bad, and discover what truths can be gleaned by those who live in the present. Understanding history is crucial and important for the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the nation.

History helps shape our personal identity in a diverse world. History enables us to discover our own place in the stories of our families, communities, and nation. History enables us to learn the stories of the many individuals and groups that have come before us and shaped the world in which we live. The stories of tragedy and triumph creates in a person personal values that helps one to develop a proper philosophical approach to life and one’s relationship with others.

With that being said, for the life of me I cannot understand why so many people in the day and hour in which we live are freaking out over history and want to sanitize that which in history they don’t like; who think they can magically erase what actually took place. Yes, I know not all history is good, as history is filled with the ugly and the lovely; the horrid and the honorable; the dreadful and the delightful. But when we seek to whitewash or sanitize history we lose the valuable lessons history teaches us; we lose the events that shape and make us who we are as a nation and as an individual. History teaches us to rise above the horrific and be determined not to repeat those mistakes, and the honorable teaches to embrace the good and build upon it. Pretending the past didn’t take place will not undo it nor can we rewrite it to fit our fancy. To attempt to do so keeps us from building upon the mosaic of our heritage and adding to the kaleidoscope of colors that make up our personhood. When we seek to sterilize the past, we are eventually destined to repeat that which we pretend didn’t happen.

As I look at my own family history my fifth great grandfather was sent on a ship from his homeland in  England to the New World in 1720 to labor for seven years as an indentured servant for being a horse thief; my great, great grandmother was born illegitimate; my great grandfather was born illegitimate; my great, great, great grandmother had five children and never married; but no matter how I would like to go back and change their pasts I can’t. I also had a fifth great grandfather who honorably fought in the Revolutionary War; my great grandfather was a county commissioner and owned his own country store; and my grandfather was involved in county government, a Baptist deacon, and a well-respected man in his community. Now I can’t pick and choose my heritage, yet the sordid past of some of my ancestors and the honorable service of others all go into molding my personal heritage, of which I am most proud.

We make a horrible mistake when we foolishly attempt to alter history to fit what we would have liked it to have been. It was what it was and we learn from the bad and embrace the noble. Sanitizing history doesn’t change it, but what it does do is cripple us morally and intellectually from learning from our heritage and becoming wiser and nobler from both the good and the bad. It would be wise for us to heed the words of George Orwell, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

Blessings,

Dr. Dan

 

IF NOT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD THERE GO I

Each day the path of our life crosses the paths of others. Sometimes it is a planned “crossing,” while sometimes it is an unexpected one. There are times such “crossings” leave us scratching our heads asking ourselves if we handled the situation correctly or wisely. I had such an encounter this week where I sought to minister grace as well speak firm, compassionate words of counsel.

Early in the week I received a phone call from a gentleman who poured out a story that as I intently listened, found my eyes welling up with tears. He detailed misfortune that had visited his life, resulting in him living in a motel with his wife and young child and had no money and was about to be kicked out of the motel. I concluded this man was either telling me the truth or he was a good con-artist. I agreed to meet with him and upon doing so it seemed the truth lay somewhere between my two assumptions. Upon inquiring, I was given several reasons/excuses why neither the man nor the woman, though they both appeared capable of doing so, worked or why either have worked in well over a year.

You ask, “How do they survive each day?”

They survive by going from church to church, individual to individual seeking the kind-heartedness of others for money in order to survive…and it seemed their sources of finding people to help them had dried up. Upon agreeing to help the man by paying for a night’s stay, he informed me he had made arrangements for the rest of the week. I encouraged him to find a church home, turn his life over to the Lord and had prayer with him.

Not to my surprise, the next day he called me back with the same story and that he had run out of places that would help him. Being a soft touch, I agreed to pay for him one more night. I then proceeded to speak with compassionate firmness words of counsel that it was time for he and his wife to get a job and quit expecting handouts from others. I asked him if he wanted to live the rest of his life dependent on the hopeful generosity of others, if not… seek a job. I pointed out that next door to the motel was a fast food place with a “help wanted” sign in the window. He didn’t take too kindly to my advice and became agitated at my words. After my firm counsel, I figured I would not hear from him again….and I have not.

Even though it appears this man has grown accustomed to living off the generosity of others, my heart still feels compassion for him and my heart hurts for him. My heart hurts that he is caught-up in a cycle that has become dependent on the generosity of others. My heart hurts that he has embraced a mindset that it is easier to rely on others than it is to work. My heart hurts that he nor his wife have not the motivation to seek honest employment to support their family. My heart hurts that he has not that inner self-esteem that sees himself living in more than a motel room. My heart hurts that he has not the inward tenacity that causes him to fight to overcome misfortune that he may have encountered in life and rise above his current situation. My heart hurts that the image of God in which he was created has been severely tarnished and has lost its luster. My heart hurts that he seems satisfied to keep living like he is.

My earnest prayers go out to this man and his family…and my heart weeps and prays for others like him….for if not for the grace of God there go I.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: THE COST OF FREEDOM

At the end of a seemingly uneventful summer day, Britain’s King George III wrote the day’s activities in his diary: “July 4, 1776. Nothing happened today.” Oh, how mistaken he was! Something did happen that day. Fifty-six brave men pledged their lives to each other and signed their names to the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence is grounded upon the premise that (1) every individual derives their rights from the Great Designer of the universe, and (2) the chief purpose of government is to ensure and protect those rights. No other document ever penned upon paper seeks to wed those two esteemed truths together. Within the 1,321 words of the revered document, God is mentioned four times: twice at the beginning and twice toward the end. Our Forefathers referred to the God of heaven and earth as “Nature’s God,” the “Creator,” “the Supreme Judge,” and “Divine Providence.” The chief presupposition of the Declaration of Independence is: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These men were clothed with principles and truths that were anchored in “Nature’s Laws and Nature’s God.”

Of the fifty-six men who resolutely signed their names on the historical document, twenty-six were lawyers, nine merchants, six farmers, six physicians, two future soldiers, two statesmen, one planter, one surveyor, one shoemaker, one minister and one printer. Eighteen of the signers were under forty years of age, and three were in their twenties. The oldest was Ben Franklin, who was seventy years old. They declared to separate the thirteen colonies from the tyrannical rule and oppression of the King of England. These brave men, on behalf of their respective colonies, declared themselves to be free and independent from the power and authority of any other force than that of Divine Providence, whose protection they evoked. What those men signed was more than a document, but the destiny of a nation.

As soon as these men penned their names on what is now a document that is two-hundred and forty-one years old, they immediately made themselves traitors to England. An agonizingly long, bloody and horrific battle(s) ensued before the fruits of the Declaration of Independence yielded bountiful results. Many lives were lost in the American Revolutionary War, and not one of the 56 men who signed their names escaped the struggle for independence without suffering grievously.

What happened to those 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and were tortured until they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Most lost their businesses and their livelihoods taken from them. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from their wounds or from the hardships of the War. They knew the possible consequences and penalties that awaited, yet they signed anyway, pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

One truth is certain, freedom was and is not free. For that one prize, freedom, these men signed a declaration and suffered horribly. Two-hundred and forty-one years later we must not forget the price paid for freedom nor forget the spiritual and political heritage of the birth of this nation. To forget our heritage is to head down a road that will eventually lead us away from liberty back unto tyranny. In a day when political correctness sees patriotism as offensive, it is a position that will find liberty being swallowed up in the quicksand of weakness and cowardice that will lead to loss of freedoms.

One can’t help but wonder in the day in which we live where so many want something for nothing; who feel like they are owed something without earning it or sacrificing for it; who don’t believe in personal responsibility; who contend there are no eternal principles on which to base one’s life or govern society; would such individuals pay one-tenth the price those 56 brave men paid for freedom and liberty? The answer is self-evident.

As we pause to celebrate the birthday of this Nation, let us not forget the sacrifice and commitment of those fifty-six stalwart men. While our Forefathers battled the British, we today are waging a battle for the very soul of America. It is a battle of greed versus sacrifice, spiritually versus secularism, God versus godlessness, good versus evil, decency versus indecency, right versus wrong, principles versus political correctness, responsibility versus irresponsibility. To the observing eye, that for which the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave so much, appears to be slowly slipping away from you and me.

The freedoms for which our Forefather fought and sacrificed for demands that we never yield to the tyrants of vice over virtue, for when we do we will discover the brave signers penned their names in vain. May it not be so.

Have Blessed and Safe Fourth of July.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

 

CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

This past week I have been meditating on Genesis 1:26-27, which states that man was created in the Image of God. Wow! What an awesome truth to consider. What does being created in the Image of God mean? It speaks to the uniqueness of each person. Being created in God’s Image indicates there is that which is in us that is similar to and representative of God and that is reflective of characteristics of God. There is something of the divine stamped upon our souls. The Image of God is not just something we possess, but is what we are. That we are created in God’s image is crucial in our understanding as to what makes us unique as humans.

While we are created in His image, the Bible does not define exactly what that means. However, there are several unique characteristics that distinguish man from animals that help us understand scripturally what it means to be created in His image. The Creator of this vast Universe in His holy-love created man with certain qualities that are intrinsic to His own nature.

(1) We are more than a physical being, but also a spiritual being. Man is not an evolutionary accident, but God breathed into man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). The spiritual part of us gives us the capacity to fellowship with the Creator (who is spirit- John 4:24) and it is that part of us that will live beyond the grave. One who does not understand this fails to grasp the most important aspect of who we are as humans. 

(2) We are personal beings, who possess personality and self-consciousness. As a being with personality and self-consciousnesses we have the capacity to purpose and choose a path of destiny for our lives.  

(3) We possess a conscience, a moral compass that gives us an inward awareness of the difference between right and wrong. The conscience has been called the “echo of God’s voice” and reveals there is a Universal Lawgiver to whom we are answerable.

(4) We are relational beings. We have the capacity to have a relationship with our Creator and our fellowman. Man was not created to be an island of individualism, but to interact with his Creator and his fellowman.

(5) We are rational beings. We were created with the capacity to think, learn and know. Unlike animals, the Supreme Mind behind the Universe has given us minds to enquire, to think and to reason.

(6) We are emotional beings, who can love, hurt and feel inward joy and sorrow. Our various emotions enrich our lives and draws us closer to others and endears them to us and us to them.

(7) We are creative beings, who have an inner sense of responsibility to produce, create, compose, write, build, etc. The amazing creativity of man has given the world many wonderful inventions and innovations that have helped improve the human condition.

While we have been created in the Image of God, sin has marred, distorted, defaced and damaged His image within us. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); therefore, the Image of God has been marred in each of us. What is sin? Sin is rebellion against the Maker of heaven and earth; it is willful munity against the Holy Father; it is desiring to be our own God and not giving the One who created us His rightful place in our lives.

Anthony Hoekama has written, “[Though] the image of God has been marred and corrupted by sin, we must still see fallen man as an image bearer fo God, but as one who by nature…images God in a distorted way” (Hoekema, Created in God’s Image, 1986, 31). Because of sin, fellowship with our Creator has been broken, morality has been perverted, personality damaged, relationships broken by selfishness, emotions skewed, creativity twisted, life devalued, and knowledge of the Holy replaced by false philosophies of deluded thinking. 

Thankfully, in Jesus Christ the damaged Image of God within us can be restored. Carl F. Keil and Johana F. Delitzsch write that the “concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin, and it is only though Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence, that our nature is transformed into the image of God again”  (Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 1996, 1:39).

In Jesus, we find “the image of the invisible God…For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist…For it pleased the Father that in [Christ] should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:15-19). As we bring our marred and damaged image unto the fullness of Jesus, God’s image in us is renewed day by day as we walk with Him in restored fellowship. Augustine expressed it well: “You created us for yourself, O God, and our hearts will not rest until they find their rest in you.” In Christ, we find the relationship that fulfils and transcends all others. It is in Christ we discover the relationship that elevates and redeems human life and restores the marred Image of God in us.

The truth that we are bearers of His Image, even though damaged by sin, will shape our view and behavior toward one another. Since we are all stamped with the Image of God it means every life is sacred, precious and to be valued and respected. We are more than mere animals, but we have the very Image of God stamped on our souls. That being true, may we treat one another with dignity and worth as one who has been created in the Image of God….pointing others to the restoring, transforming and renewing power of Christ.     

Blessings,

Dr. Dan

WORSHIPPING THE SON OF RIGHTEOUSNESS NOT THE SUN

I received a note today from a well-meaning person informing me that by gathering with fellow Christians for a Sunrise Service, I was engaging in ancient paganism. Now, I don’t need a lecture on some pagan deity that surrounded ancient spring “Easter” celebrations, for I know history and the arguments well. While I don’t usually respond to such correspondence, even though I do believe the person is well-intentioned, I feel compelled to offer a reply.

One needs to remember that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was celebrated in the spring-time for centuries in Christendom long before the word “Easter” was ever adopted in the English language as a label attached to the resurrection celebration. It should be pointed out we have many words in the English language that were connected with ancient pagan gods and practices, but we don’t accuse someone of engaging in paganism when they are involved in activities associated with those particular words. For instance, if someone wants to get technical, we should not eat cereal, nor make clothes of cloth, or ever call a religious song a hymn. You see, those three words are connected with pagan deities. For example, the word “cereal” comes from the name of the ancient goddess of agriculture, Ceres. The word “cloth” comes from Clotho, the spinster goddess who was said to spin the thread of life. The word “hymn” is thought to come from the god of marriage, Hymen, and in ancient times meant any song offered in praise or honor of a god or gods. But when we use “hymn” in our church services we mean a song sung in praise to the Christ of the Cross. When we use the word “cereal” or eat corn flakes or cheerios, we are not worshipping an ancient goddess. Cloth is cloth to us, we don’t connect it with a pagan deity. We don’t see anyone wearing clothes made of burlap sacks because they don’t want to be associated with cloth since the word is derived from the pagan deity, Clotho. As well, all the names of the days of the week were named after ancient deities, but no one worships those pagan deities when they use the days of the week when speaking nor does anyone think of worshipping the god the day was named after when a new day arrives.

Without going into a lot of detail, the present Christian celebration of “Easter” has more affinity and connection with the Jewish Passover than with ancient pagan associations. Jesus is the prophetic fulfillment of what the Passover typifies and symbolizes.  Over the years, I have attended a lot of Sunrise Services and not one of them ever had even a hint of paganism attached to them, but centered totally and completely on Jesus Christ. I gathered this morning, as I have in years past, with fellow believers to worship the Christ of the Cross, who conquered the cold, dark grave by rising from the dead. There was not a speck of paganism in our gathering, but the worship of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We didn’t gather to worship the sun, but to worship the Son of Righteousness who arose from the dead with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2). We gathered to lift our voices in praise to the One who took the challenge to wrestle with the enemies of humanity: sin, death and the devil…..and He defeated them all.  

Now, if anyone gathers at a Sunrise Service to worship the sun and creation, then they gather for the wrong reason and, yes, they are embracing pantheism and an ancient pagan deity. However, if one gathers at a Sunrise Service, along with millions of other Christians, to worship the victorious, resurrected Christ, the Creator Himself, then one gathers for the right reason. I would much rather see Christians gather to worship Jesus and gain a better understanding of the meaning and practicality of his resurrection for our lives.

After all, should not Jesus’ resurrection be a cause of rejoicing and celebration for the Christian? And the truth be known, when I awake in the morning and watch the sunrise, I will celebrate the resurrection of Christ again. As matter of fact, I celebrate His resurrection everyday…. for I serve a risen Savior.

He is Risen…celebrate the wonderful truth daily that the Son of Righteousness is forever alive!

Blessings,

Dr. Dan

 

IT IS FINISHED!

In John 19:30 one finds arguably the most important word that Jesus ever uttered. In the last minutes of his tortuous six hours hanging on the cross, shortly before He committed His spirit to the Father, He cried out through parched, cracked  and bleeding lips the word, “Tetelestai.”  While in the Greek it is one word, it took three English words to express its meaning, “It is finished.” O, what an utterance by the Christ of the Cross!

Never has one word been spoken which contains so much meaning. Charles Surgeon has eloquently written, “What an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop. It would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. IT IS FINISHED is the most charming note in all of Calvary’s music. The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.”

The word translated “It is finished” contains a wealth of meaning. Observing how the word “tetelestai” was commonly used in the ancient world serves as a doorway to understanding what Jesus accomplished on the Cross for us when he proclaimed, “It is finished.”

First, JOHN used the word when writing about Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. John 19:28 records that in Christ all things were “accomplished” regarding His fulfillment of the Scriptures. The word John uses is “tetelestai”…..all has been completed, has been fulfilled, and has been accomplished. Of the over 300 prophecies surrounding the promised Messiah, Christ fulfilled every one of the them to the letter. Scripture’s fulfillment is finished, it has all been accomplished and completed in Jesus Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus explained to the two travelers on the road to Emmaus that He was the complete and perfect fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies found in the Law, prophets, and the psalms (Luke 24:36-45). We need not look for another Savior…He has come, all is complete and finished in Jesus.

Second, SERVANTS used the word when having obediently completed a task for their master. With the job being faithfully finished the servant would proclaim, “tetelestai”…it is finished. As Jesus uttered “It is finished” He was proclaiming that he had obediently completed the task of obeying the Law of God perfectly which the Father had sent Him to do. As the faithful Servant of God, as the Representative of humanity, Christ lived the perfect life the holiness of God demands, providing for us His perfect righteousness that enables us stand before the Lord uncondemned. “For there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Third, PRIESTS used the word when examining before offering an animal sacrifice for someone, and upon finding the lamb acceptable would say, “Tetelestai.” When Jesus cried, “It is finished” He was proclaiming as our High Priest that His Sacrifice was acceptable to the Holy Father. God’s Holiness demands justice against sin’s violation of defying His holy standards. But not only did Christ, as our High Priest, offer the Sacrifice, He was the Sacrifice. “He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Offering Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s resurrection is God’s “Amen” that His Sacrifice was acceptable and the need to offer anymore sacrifices for sins is forever finished!  

Fourth, MERCHANTS used the word when a note or bill was paid, writing “tetelestai” across the note/bill signifying that it had been paid in full. Because of Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death, the sin debt we could never pay was PAID IN FULL. Christ paid a debt He didn’t owe to pay a debt we could never pay. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).

Fifth, PRISONERS, guilty of a crime, were put in prison a “certificate of debt” listing the crimes and the penalty incurred was nailed to their cell door. When the prisoner had paid his debt to society, authorities would sign the “certificate of debt” with the word “tetelestai”….the debt has been paid. All humanity is guilty of rebelliously not complying with the holiness of God’s righteous Law, and we are imprisoned by our guilt and sin. Erwin Lutzer has written, “We can stand with confidence despite the thunder of the law and the lightening flash of justice, for we are safe beneath the cross. He paid the very last cent of the wages of our sins.”

Sixth, ARTISTS used the word when they made the last brushstroke on a painting, exclaiming, “Tetelestai” ….it is finished, it is done, it is complete. All of the Old Treatment promised pictures of the Messiah were fulfilled in Christ. Some examples: In Genesis, the Messiah is painted as the Seed of the Woman, in Jesus the portrait is finished. In Exodus, the Messiah is painted as the Passover Lamb, in Jesus the portrait is finished.  In Leviticus, the Messiah is painted as our High Priest, in Jesus the portrait is finished. In Deuteronomy, the Messiah is painted as the Great Prophet, in Jesus the portrait is finished. In Isaiah, the Messiah is painted as the Suffering Servant, the Heir to David’s throne and the One born of a virgin, in Jesus the portrait is finished. In Malachi, the Messiah is painted as the Son of Righteousness, in Jesus the portrait is finished. In every painting of Christ found in the 66 OT books, in Jesus every portrait is finished, completed, and hung as a Masterpiece.

Seventh, MATHEMATICANS used the word when after completing a complicated math problem, exclaimed, “Tetelistai”…..it is finished, it is done, it is complete. The spiritual math of humanity is incorrect in its thinking, believing that we can  “add” to our ledger enough good works that will add up to us obtaining salvation by our own efforts. The Bible is clear that by the works of the Law no one can be saved (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). No one can ever do enough good works that will add up to self-justifying salvation.  Salvation, plus nothing and minus nothing, is found only in the Christ of the Cross. Our works “add-up” to nothing, but Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross is sufficient to save all who knell before Him in acceptance of his finished work.    

Eighth, CONQUERING WARRIORS used the word when victorious in battle, “tetelistai”…..it is finished, the victory is complete and victory has been accomplished. When Christ cried out, “It is finished” it was not a word of one who was defeated, but of a Conquering Savior who was victorious over sin, satan, death and the grave. As Jesus hung on the cross, the world said, “Aha” but three days later arising from the dead the world said, “Huh?” Our Champion accepted the challenge to do battle for our soul’s redemption against every evil foe… and He was victorious! He was victorious, and all those who place their trust in Him share in His victory. Halleluiah!

It is finished! What a grand utterance. We bow in awe before such majestic words. Thankfully, the redemptive work of Christ has been fully, finally and forever been accomplished.

It is finished!

Blessings,

Dr. Dan