Are You a Spiritual Eclipse?

eclipseThe idea for this post came from an article written by Joe Slater who preaches for the Lord’s church in Justin, TX.  I thank brother Slater for his work in reflecting the light of Christ.

The sun is approximately 400 times bigger than the moon.  It is also approximately 400 times farther away from the earth than is the moon.  Because of this, the sun and the moon appear to be the same size when viewed from the earth.

The moon ordinarily reflects the light from the sun.  But when the moon’s orbit is aligned in such a way that it passes directly between the sun and the earth a solar eclipse occurs somewhere on earth.  In the area of a total eclipse daylight is replaced by darkness.  Bright stars become visible.  The temperature may drop as much as 10-12 degrees.  The eclipse may last 2-3 hours, although the darkest period of the eclipse may only be 2-3 minutes.

Tomorrow, August 21, 2017, an eclipse of the sun can be seen from a large part of the United States.  A path approximately 70 miles wide extending from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse.

What spiritual lessons can we learn from this eclipse?  We live in a world of darkness.  Darkness is often used in the Bible to represent sin.  Notice these words from John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  One does not need to look neither hard nor long to see that our world is fool of darkness.  The news is constantly filled with reports of war, terrorism, etc.  The media is saturated with pornography, corrupt speech, etc.  Observe people around you and you will notice people involved in adultery, lying, etc.  Truly, this is a world of darkness.

Jesus is the light of the world.  John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  We understand the purpose of light.  Light illuminates a desired path (such as the lights along an airport runway that allow a pilot to safely land).  Light protects us from harm (a night light can keep us from stumbling in the dark if we get out of bed during the night).  Because Jesus is the light of the world, He illuminates a desired path for us and keeps us from harm (Psalm 119:105).  Luke wrote that Jesus came into the world to “give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Notice Jesus did not say He is a light of the world.  Nor did He say He is one of the lights of the world.  Jesus is the one and only light of the world.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world.  Just as the moon reflects light from the sun, we are to reflect Christ’s light to those around us.  Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Paul wrote, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Sadly, we sometimes fail to let our lights shine.  We sometimes fall into the trap of acting, talking and thinking like the world.   When we do, we fail to reflect Christ’s light to others.  Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”  But we sometimes build our “cities” in the dark deep valleys.  We sometimes hide our light under a bushel.  When we do, we become “spiritual eclipses” and hinder others from seeing the light of Christ.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.

Pope Recognizes Miracle Needed to Declare Mother Teresa a Saint

The following quote is taken from an article entitled “Pope Recognizes Miracle Needed to Declare Mother Teresa a Saint” that recently appeared mother teresain “Catholic News Service” dated December 18, 2015.  “Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, thus paving the way for her canonization.  Pope Francis signed the decree for Blessed Teresa’s cause and advanced three other sainthood causes Dec. 17, the Vatican announced.”  The article later goes on to say “St. John Paul II had made an exception to the usual canonization process in Mother Teresa’s case by allowing her sainthood cause to be opened without waiting the usual five years after a candidate’s death. He beatified her in 2003. (The entire article can be found at http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2015/pope-recognizes-miracle-needed-to-declare-mother-teresa-a-saint.cfm)

            One can’t help but wonder how someone such as the pope can be such a well recognized religious leader and yet be so unlearned in the scriptures.  The headline of the article states that the pope has recognized a miracle that was needed to declare mother Teresa a saint.  Those familiar with the scriptures understand that the time of miracles has ceased.  (See I Corinthians 13:8-13, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

            For now, let’s consider that “Pope Francis” sees the miracle as a vital part of the process of declaring Mother Teresa a saint and that St. John Paul II had made an exception to the usual canonization process by allowing Mother Teresa’s  cause to be opened without waiting the usual five years after a candidate’s death.

            Is a person a saint only after someone else declares him to be a saint?  Does someone become a saint only after he has been dead for a sufficient length of time?  As with every other question of similar nature, let’s go to the scriptures for our answer.

            In Acts 19:3, Ananias stated that he had heard of how Saul had “done much evil to the saints at Jerusalem.”  Had Saul done much evil to those at Jerusalem who had already died?  Of course not!  The saints at Jerusalem were people who were very much alive at the time Paul had done evil unto them.  In Acts 9:32 Peter came down to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.  Did Peter come to those who had already died?  No!  They too were very much alive.  Acts 26:10 tells us that Paul had put many of the saints in prison and later put them to death.  Did Paul put people in prison who had already died?  Obviously not!  He put live people in prison.  It was only later that he had them put to death.  In Romans 12:13 Paul wrote of “distributing to the necessity of the saints.”  Was Paul talking about taking care of the needs of those who had already died?  Of course not.  In Romans 15:5 Paul wrote of ministering unto the saints and in Romans 15:26 he wrote of a contribution that was made for the saints.  In II Corinthians 1:1 Paul addressed his letter to all the saints that were at Achaia.  Many, many other examples can be given but certainly these should be sufficient.

            Numerous times the scriptures use the term “saints” to refer to Christians who were very much alive at the time.  Who then, is a saint?  The Bible uses the term saint to simply refer to anyone who is a Christian (Philippians 4:21-22).  II Thessalonians 1:10 described God’s saints as “them that believed.”  Unlike the pope, the scriptures do not limit this designation to someone who is of “exceptional holiness” or to someone who has died, having lived a life of exceptional acts that qualify him to be a saint.

            Greek lexicons are in unanimous agreement that the word “saint” simply refers to someone who has been sanctified, or set apart, from the world.  This sanctification, or setting apart, takes place when a person obeys the simple gospel of Christ. This obedience consists of a person hearing and believing the gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17, Mark 16:16), repenting of his sins (Acts 17:30), confessing his faith in Jesus Christ as his savior (Romans 10:9-10).  Notice, though, that a person is not saved at the time of his confession.  Romans 10:10 teaches that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  A person who confesses his faith in Christ is heading in the direction of his salvation, but he is not there yet.  A person receives his salvation, and thus becomes a saint (sanctified by the blood of Christ) when he is baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16).

            Because I am a Christian, I am a saint.  I am sanctified, or set apart from the world, by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 29).  I don’t have to die to become a saint.  I am already a saint while alive on this earth.  I am a saint, not because the pope has affirmed it to be so, but because Christ has affirmed it to be so through his gospel.

The Solution to Our Nation’s Problems

cropped-open-your-bible.jpgVoters in Houston, TX cast their ballots today to decide whether or not they want to keep, or eliminate, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance passed by the city council in 2014.  Commonly referred to as the “bathroom bill,” this ordinance would force businesses to allow men and women to use the public restroom of their choice.  The Texas Supreme Court previously ruled that Houston must either rescind this ordinance or put it on the ballot and let the voters decide.  (The ordinance failed by a wide margin.  Thank you to all those Houstonians who voted against this ordinance!)  (Re: http://www.chron.com/politics/election/local/article/HERO-results-6608562.php)

Prior to the legalization of same sex marriage, many gay couples used adoption laws as a way to form legal family ties and make them eligible for benefits.  Under this arrangement, one of the homosexual men would simply adopt the other as his son.  Now that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of gay marriages one of these adopted couples, Nino Esposito and Roland Bosee of Washington, are seeking to reverse the adoption so that they would then be allowed to marry.  A judge has denied the couple’s request to marry because they are legally father and son. (Re: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2015/11/03/father-adopted-son-seek-right-to-marry-each-other/)

A popular girl’s magazine, (“American Girl,” owned by toy manufacturer Mattel) recently featured a picture of a family with two dads in an article about adoption.  The two dads, homosexual of course, are referred to in the article as “Daddy” and “Dada.” (Re: http://onemillionmoms.com/current-campaigns/american-girl-disappoints-conservative-customers/)

Voters in Ohio went to the polls today to vote on a measure that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.  Thankfully, the measure was defeated. (Re: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/public/2015/election/ohio-state-issues-2-and-3-marijuana.html)

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study indicates that Americans are becoming less religious.    The share of adults who say they believe in God has fallen from 92 percent in 2007 to 89 percent in 2014.  The portion of Americans who say they are absolutely certain God exists fell from 71 percent in 2007 to 63 percent in 2014.  (Re: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/us-usa-religion-iduskcn0ss0am20151103)

Just last week, two men began to argue after one of them ate the last piece of chicken during dinner at an apartment in west Houston.  The argument escalated into a fist fight in the parking lot of the apartment complex.  One of the men then stabbed the other and ran away.  He later returned to the scene and confessed to killing the other man.  (Re: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/11/03/last-piece-of-chicken-stabbing/75112266/)

Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in the Seattle, WA area has been placed on paid leave of absence for continuing to pray on the field after each game after the school board had warned him not to do so. (Re: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/29/us/washington-football-coach-joe-kennedy-prays/)

These are just some of the headlines I read in a single day, November 3, 2015.  What should we conclude from all of this?  Our country desperately needs to return to God! Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34)

Over the last several weeks we have seen several candidates for president, both Democrat and Republican, intently trying to best articulate their solution to this country’s problems.  Emphasis is given to such things as immigration reform, gun control, countering the terrorists and keeping our country safe, tax reform, abortion, trade with other countries such as China, education, health care and global warming.  “I have a plan,” the candidates shout!  Vote for me!

Why do so many people fail to see the obvious?  The future of our country is not dependent upon who is serving as president in the White House or who is serving as Speaker of the House.  The future of our country does not depend upon the best plan for immigration reform, tax reform, or any of these other issues.  The future of our country will be bright and filled with hope only when our country turns back to God.  The future of our country will be bright and filled with hope only when God is invited back into our homes, our schools, and workplaces.  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord……….” (Psalm 33:12).

A Sad Day for Our Country

Supreme-Court-sign

Recently, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a vote of five to four, ruled that same sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.  Justice Kennedy, voting in the majority, stated “No longer may this liberty be denied.”  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the ruling, “a historic victory for marriage equality.”   Voicing his strong support for the court’s decision, President Obama called it “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”  President Obama placed a congratulatory phone call to James Obergefell, the chief plaintiff in the case.  Obama, later speaking at the White House, praised the decision as an affirmation of the principle that all Americans are created equal and called the ruling “a victory for America.”

No, Mr. President.  This was not a victory for America.  This was, in reality, a sad day for America.  It is a reminder as to how far our country’s leaders have strayed away from God and his eternal principles.  “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  God has so clearly stipulated that the marriage relationship is that of one man and one woman.  “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man (Genesis 2:21-23).  God’s word so unambiguously teaches that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:27-32; Jude 7).  No man has the right to add to the scriptures, nor to take away from them (Revelation 22:18).

As Christians, we are to recognize homosexuality for what it is – an abomination to God!  “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).  At the same time, we must desire to lovingly reach out to those people involved in this sin.  We must realize the same Jesus who died for us died for ALL of mankind (John 3:16).  We must realize that the gospel has the power to changes people’s hearts and lives.  When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth it was obvious that some, who were faithful Christians at the time of his writing, had previously been homosexuals (I Corinthians 6:9).  Yet, they had been washed by the blood of Christ and were now cleansed of their sin (I Corinthians 6:11).  Prior to their repentance, they had no hope of heaven (I Corinthians 6:10).

As Christians, we need to pray for our nation (I Timothy 2:1-2).  We need leaders in government who want to know what the Bible teaches and are willing to follow up by governing according to Biblical principles.

As Christians, we need to pray for those men who preach in a public way.  We need to pray that those men approach the pulpit with a recognition of right and wrong and a determination to speak the truth concerning the sin of homosexuality.  To Timothy, Paul wrote: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).

As Christians, we need to pray that husbands/fathers will guide their families in the right way (Ephesians 6:1-4).  We need to pray that husbands/fathers will teach their children what the Bible so clearly says about homosexuality.

June 6, 2015 was a sad day for America.  But there is hope; if our country will repent and turn back to the Bible.

Thanks For All You Do!

Today, just as many of you no doubt did as well, I spent time looking at pictures of the events of September 11, 2001.  Most of us can remember that day well – as we watched on television, listened on the radio, or read about it in the newspapers.

The two pictures included in this post caught my attention because of their obvious contrast.  The first shows crowds of people running from the site of the twin towers in New York.  Understandably afraid because of the noise of the explosions, the sight of the falling buildings and debris that littered the air, the people rush to get further away from the horrific sight.

The second picture shows a different group of people.  While frightended people were running out of the area of danger; firefighters, medical personnel, and others were running into the area of danger.  Many of these people, attempting to save others, lost their own lives as a result.

Wherever you live, whether in a large city or a smaller town, take the time to give thanks for those men and women who risk their lives while protecting ours.