Sunday – May 30, 2021
Thom Rachford and Timothy Johnson talk about the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
Sunday – May 30, 2021
Thom Rachford and Timothy Johnson talk about the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
Sunday – November 29, 2020
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
How did the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement become the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries? To understand how this took place we need to explore a number of key factors—one of which is plagues. Indeed, to understand the rise of Christianity from a few followers of the Way to a faith that has changed the world, we need to understand the biblical and remarkable response by the Church to plagues of the past. Over the next few weeks as we come to the end of 2020, I want examine briefly four pandemics in history and how the church has responded in the way of Christ. As we note their examples, let’s be inspired by their faith—even if we might make some adjustments for our own time and circumstances.
The Plague of Cyprian (249–262 AD) was a lethal pandemic that, at its height, caused upwards of 5,000 deaths a day in Rome. While the plague severely weakened the Roman empire, the Christian response to it won admiration and a greater following. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, reported: “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.
This evident Christlikeness—taking death in order to give life—stood in stark contrast to those outside the church. Dionysius continues: “But with the heathen everything was quite otherwise. They deserted those who began to be sick, and fled from their dearest friends. They shunned any participation or fellowship with death; which yet, with all their precautions, it was not easy for them to escape.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 7.22.7–10)
Plagues and pandemics intensify the natural course of life. They intensify our own sense of mortality and frailty. They also intensify opportunities to display counter-cultural, counter-conditional love. The church rose to the challenge in the second century, winning both admirers and also converts. While the outworking of love may look different in different ages, love must still be the aim—a love directed by the Holy Spirit, not our self-centered flesh. May we—with our own pandemic—live out the wisdom and way of Jesus before a watching world.
Sunday – July 30, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship
The Kingdom Come
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.
Jesus disciples knew the many Old Testament prophecies about a coming Kingdom. Jesus had preached that the Kingdom was at hand. They were anxious to know if today was the day. James and John wanted positions of authority in the Kingdom and to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand. In Matt 6:9 Jesus even told His disciples to pray “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. They were expecting a Kingdom on earth with Jesus as King and the Father’s will is done like it is in Heaven. The time seemed right.
When the disciples asked, Jesus did not refute the idea of a restored Kingdom to Israel. He only said it was not for them to know the time. After His death and resurrection they asked Him again. Now, sin had been dealt with, and now death was overcome. Everything would seem to be in place for the Kingdom to come immediately. However, the Kingdom was postponed until the Time of The Gentiles was completed. The Time of the Gentiles was brought on by Israel’s rebellion against God and His commandments. Like other of God’s Judgments, the Time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled as God directs. But the Kingdom Will Come.
Sunday – July 23, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship
Cuban Pastor Punished With 1-Year Heavy Labor for Homeschooling His Children in Evangelical Faith
From The Christian Post
An Evangelical pastor in Cuba has been sentenced to one year of heavy labor and house arrest for defying the Communist government and insisting that his children be homeschooled. International Christian Concern reported on Thursday that Pastor Ramon Rigal, leader of Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, has openly stated that his decision to take his children out of state-run schools was based on his Christian faith.
As Diario de Cuba noted last week, Rigal had originally been sentenced by Guantanamo courts to one year imprisonment, but a recent adjudication led to a modified reduction of the punishment. The pastor said that his legal team proved that he did not commit any serious criminal act, but religious freedom advocates warned that the heavy labor sentence is still a serious punishment.
“Correctional labor is a form of forced physical punishment, where the state typically chooses the locations and the working conditions,” Pastor Mario F. Barroso, a religious freedom activist from the Patmos Institute, told ICC. “People sentenced to this penalty are assigned to a ranch or a farm of some sort, and believe me it’s not light work.”
Rafael Cardona, ICC’s Latin America correspondent, said it’s “very concerning and disheartening” that a pastor has been punished in such a way simply for choosing to homeschool his children.
“It is even more egregious when a tough punishment is still issued despite having adequate legal defense and proving that no criminal laws were violated. In Pastor Rigal’s case, we have to be aware that he made multiple attempts to inform the state about the curricula and content of the education, including any religious elements,” Cardona said.
“Nevertheless, the Cuban authorities still proceeded with a sentence that does not seem to fit the offense. Unfortunately, these kinds of repressive measures taken against people of Christian faith happen commonly in Cuba. We will continue to pray for Pastor Rigal and his family.”
Sunday – January 22, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship
Gen 12: 3 And I will bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Genesis 17:8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
The living God made a promise to Abraham for him and his descendants. He promised them the land and through them an eternal blessing to all peoples. God could do this because he is God and He says the land and the people of Israel are special to Him. Many times in scripture God states his promises to Israel are forever.
Today however, the world treats Israel and her people as though they have no connection to the living God. Even some major Protestant Church organizations say that because Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah and King at his first advent, they broke the conditions of God, negating all promises, and so Israel and her people have been swept aside. They say any promises made to Israel now are given to “the church”. If they find it difficult to connect any specific promise to “the church” they like to say that promise was symbolic, not literal. How convenient.
Now that they believe Israel is cast off, these major denominations believe Israel to be supremely evil and refuse to do business with Israel or any business or organization that does anything with Israel.
Is this the point of view for “born again” Christians to have? As believers in Jesus, we are directed to search the scriptures for truth rather than just accept any person or organization’s word.
Sunday – October 30, 2016 – Read the Word on Worship
You are the salt of the Earth. But if the salt loses its saltines, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your life shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Salt & Light
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus says his followers are salt and light. What are we called to do as salt and light? Salt and light can exist without being effective. They only fulfill their purpose and become effective when they are applied. Jesus expects us to utilize our salt and light. First, we must be sure that our salt is salty and our light is shining. How do we do that?
Saltiness comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to apply scriptures we study to our life so our attitudes are obedient to God’s principles and commands. For example, in our food we can readily taste the difference between salted and unsalted butter. The salt of Jesus should be just as distinctive and readily apparent in our lives. And like salt in our food, the Jesus within us should make us more “tasty” to those we encounter.
Our light should reflect THE LIGHT of Jesus by submitting to the Holy Spirit’s direction to make our actions extend from our Jesus attitudes as we conform to God’s word and principles. Light is always very noticeable in dark areas. Our light should be like a Lighthouse in our contact with the darkened world.
Sunday – September 18, 2016 – Read the Word on Worship
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Part of Jesus reply was “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man.” In the parallel passage of Luke 17 Jesus also says “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot.”
If we are near the “end of the age” we should examine the scriptures to understand society’s characteristics in the days of Noah and Lot. The scripture gives both man’s view of his society and God’s view. Are there similarities in what was going on in societies around Noah and Lot?
Do we see any similarities in our society today with events prominent in Noah and Lot’s day? If so, how does the level of similarities of their societies measure against ours today?
The attitudes and actions in both Noah’s and Lot’s societies resulted in the judgment of God. Is our society also rushing toward God’s judgment? If so, what can you and I do to personally avoid that judgment and help others avoid it. Will we take the necessary steps?
Sunday – August 21, 2016 – Read the Word on Worship
Today events are moving rapidly to the end of this age, this period of human existence.
Persecution and intolerance of Christians is increasing worldwide, persecution and intolerance of Jews is increasing worldwide. Both are more out of favor in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, even in the United States. Violent death for both groups is increasing rapidly.
While you rarely if ever hear it on the nightly news; this information is available for any who are interested in finding out. The better your information, the better your choices in prayer, politics, charity, and your personal stand for rightness every day.
But as the end of the age approaches, so does the end of the day of relative ease and peace. God’s wrath is quickly reaching its fullness and soon will be poured out. The following days will be much harder and more challenging for everyone, ending with either Heaven or Hell.
Now is the time to make a decision for Heaven by believing in Jesus as the Christ (Messiah). He will receive any and all who come to him.
Today is the day of decision. Today is the day of salvation. Help others understand and choose today.
Sunday – October 11, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship
Scripture tells us that in the last days godlessness will have control in the world. We see this now in the world and the frequency and intensity of godlessness is growing daily. Actions and policies may be called right or moral or even what God wants by those in power. These actions and policies are usually “dressed up” as being for best of reasons or for the benefit of many. But the real purpose behind today’s ungodliness is presented in scripture.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
Holding a form of godliness means that those at all levels of power try to portray themselves and their actions as “good”, as the thing or things God wants. They project their own desires and cloak them with ”spiritual” words and promises. Their actions however tell the truth, that they do not know the living God or have relationship with Him. Because they do not have a real relationship with God in Christ they are not sealed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, they do not have the power of real godliness in their lives.
The only way to truly know what God wants, what is right and moral, is to know God. We can only truly know God by first having our sins forgiven by Christ and beginning a new life with Christ in charge. This new relationship equips us to understand what God has provided for us and how He wants us to respond. That response is having the right thoughts, purposes and actions that please and serve Him. He supplies the power for that response. To find those right responses we must look to His word, the Bible. It is through the Bible that we get to know Him. The more completely and intimately we know Him, the better we can see, trust and follow Him in all circumstances.
The scriptures reveal His love, His power, and His Promise.
God’s love is expressed in his sending his Son to die, not for the Son’s own sins for he lived the only life without sin, but to die to pay the penalty for the sins of all who will trust in the Son: The sins of you and me.
God’s power is seen in the six-day creation of the world. All things created in the six days were spoken into existence except for man, whom God made “by hand”. His power is further revealed on a human experience level by His bringing to life people who were dead.
God’s promise is for eternal life for all who trust the Son and what He has done on the cross and in the resurrection.
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
Sunday – July 5, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship
America, Where Are You?
America has a history of Christian heritage. From the beginning of the nation, true Christian men guided the country and wrote the constitution. They set up the best ever series of checks and balances to insure peace and the opportunity for prosperity. The government was structured to provide individual liberty and fairness under the law.
The laws were based on God’s laws from the Bible and society’s moral conduct followed Biblical principles. Sure, there have always been those who did not follow the principles, but the principles were publicly held up as an example of how one should behave in the eyes of God and before and with their fellow man.
However, as men do, they rebelled against these principles when they felt deprived of something they wanted. The rebellion continued throughout the years. But the principles held firm. Slowly however, other more modern men pressed for a new interpretation of what principles should govern legal and social activities. The new principles of law and morality claim to be the best for men, better than God intended, or even more insidiously, they gave God’s principles a “new and better” interpretation.
The new interpretation presented man’s view as the highest, most moral and most right view. Man’s decision must be the highest and best decision since there is no God involved with men, they reasoned. The theory of evolution was held up as scientific evidence that man and his ideas evolved not from a creator God, but from crystals (yes, crystals as the modern evolutionists claim – but cannot explain how it happened) and developed over the centuries into the highest thought and judgment. Included in this view is the idea that man’s ideas continue to evolve. Therefore, since ideas evolve, new ideas must be better than the previous ideas. And the plunge into rebellion deepens.