Gettin’ Outta Dodge

First of all, special thanks to my friend and brother, Pastor Ken Roberts, for his excellent message, last Sunday, filling in for Pastor Jim Mindling. He really did confirm for me what the topic of this post would be. After my post, last Sunday, I was leaning in this direction as a follow-up. Pastor Ken clinched it for me. So, saddle up folks. Here we go again.

Last week, I used the upcoming astronomical event in September as a springboard to a discussion about just how fleeting human life can be, whether an “extinction level event” like a giant meteor hitting the earth happens or not. Sooner or later, in the blink of an eye, our “number is going to get called” and we will instantly pass from this earthly existence to whatever lies beyond. We all try to avoid it for as long as we can (diet, exercise, clean living…I’ll leave it up to you to check the boxes, if they apply). But like the Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison, once famously said, “No one here gets out alive.”

So, quoting Michael J. Fox, I think all of our priorities should ultimately be in line with making preparations to “Get outta Dodge.” Of course, Michael was having a little fun with the famous line from “Gunsmoke,” where Marshall Dillon suggested that “It’s time to got out of Dodge,” meaning Dodge City. So for the sake of this post, I am going to have a little fun with this reference to Dodge City by using it as a metaphor for “life on Planet Earth,” or our physical lives in the “here and now,” if you will.

Although, in our hearts, we all realize our time here is short when compared with the concept of eternity, the way we live our lives seems to imply that we may be fooling ourselves into thinking that there is “no end in sight.” The Apostle James, who was the half-brother of Jesus, says it this way:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. [James 4:13-14 NASB]

It’s true. We love to make plans for our future (not that it’s a totally bad idea)…as if nothing can get in their way. Even older folks (I would include myself in that statement) like to make plans or commitments, as if by doing so, we are delaying the inevitable. I really like what country legend Little Jimmy Dickens said, not long before his passing at age 95, “I am so old, I don’t even buy green bananas.” He wasn’t making any long-term plans, good for him!!

And of course, this is really not a new problem, a poem written by Robert Burns back in 1785, gave us the following often-quoted phrase regarding the futility of making plans:

But Mouse, you are not alone, in proving foresight may be vain

The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew (or astray)

And leave us nothing but grief and pain for (instead of) promised joy!

So once again, no man (or woman) is promised tomorrow, which is why we are so shocked and saddened when someone, especially a child, dies “before their time.” It’s not that our sadness or grief is a bad thing (it is an expression of our love for them), but it does raise the question, “What is the right time, or age, for us to die?” Sounds to me, again, that to some degree we are victims of our own false expectations, ignoring the harsh realities of life.

Let me toss out a question, for you, in the form of story. Let’s say, that if from the time we were children, we were taught that if we did certain things in certain ways, like maybe showing kindness to others or resisting the temptations to be mean or selfish, each time we did so, a gold coin worth $100 was deposited into an account that we could use, when we were older, to buy a house, pay for our children’s education or whatever we like. Do you think the world would be a kinder or more peaceful place? I do. Hey, if people were being paid to be nice, why not, right?

What if Jesus, Himself, implied to us that it does sort of work like that in a heavenly sense, with a spiritual bank account that will reward us in the afterlife. Well, during His most famous sermon, the Sermon On The Mount, He pretty much did just that:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21 NASB]

The truth is, this life is but a drop in the bucket, compared to what comes after (be it good or bad). So, wouldn’t it make sense to work towards a better eternity, instead of putting all our efforts into enriching ourselves in this life. Especially, if the reality is we could be gone tomorrow and everything would be left for someone else to enjoy, as King Solomon wrote about in his Book Of Proverbs (and he was pretty rich, so I think he knew what he was talking about).

But, what if you have already spent most of your days doing the opposite, “looking out for number one,” maybe even to the point of hurting others to protect or increase what you worked so hard to provide for yourself?  At what point have we gone so far in the wrong direction, that you have passed the point where “changing your ways” is going to make any difference in the “big picture” of life and how the scales might be tipped regarding whatever comes next. Some people believe it is like “the Scale of Justice,” where if the good outweighs the bad, you’re all set.

Well, here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about this subject. And keep in mind, he spent a great deal of time, in his life, as a zealous Jewish leader who was responsible for the deaths of many who were showing support for this troublemaker known as Jesus of Nazareth. If anyone had stepped over the line or reached the point of no return, because of things he had done in his past, he might be the “poster child” for that. He said….

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. [Colossians 3:2 NASB]. 

That would seem to indicate that Paul believed that making a major change in right direction (which is the definition of the word “repent”) at any age or point in one’s life is a good idea. In other words, it’s never too late (at least not while we’re are still living and breathing). If Paul thought it was worthwhile for him to change in the latter years of his life, after all the terrible things he had done, what would be our excuse?

The main point I am trying to make, here, is that while there is nothing wrong with working hard or having goals to do your best to provide for yourself and your family, or even to realize a lifelong dream or pursue something you are passionate about (you may have been gifted by God to do just that). We should always keep in mind that our time here is just like what Jerry Glanville, former coach of the Houston Oilers, said  about the letters NFL. He said the letters meant “not for long” (if the refs kept making bad calls that cost him his job). Our time here on Earth, too, is “not for long” when compared to what God is preparing for those who love Him.

So like Jesus taught us, isn’t it better to store up treasure for what lies beyond the grave, than to put all our efforts into storing up things we will lose when we are put in the grave? You get the picture, I’m sure.

In closing, I’d like to include words from a recent hit record by Carrie Underwood. The song is called, “Temporary Home.” I think it ties this discussion up quite nicely.

This is my temporary home….It’s not where I belong

Windows in rooms…..that I’m passin’ through

This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going

I’m not afraid because I know this is my….temporary home



For Signs, Seasons, Days and Years

This blog was started one year ago, this month, in conjunction with the release of my first book, “Unlocking Creation.” I am now about a month away from the release of my second full-length book, “The Red Letter Parables”, in less than a year. I don’t know if that seems surprising to you, but it’s shocking to me, really.  I didn’t know I had that much to say. Ok, I can hear some of you going, “We are not that surprised, Bob.”’re probably right.

But over the last few months, many of my posts have not been about creation at all, rather more about the creatures. In particular, the human kind. For this week’s post, I want to get back on track a bit and talk about a particular part of God’s creation, the stars and universe at large. My reason for doing that now is that there is something pretty significant about to happen up there in the heavenlies, over the next couple of months.  Something to keep on eye on, if nothing else.

Those of you who know me know that I am a big fan of Bible prophecy. I have been for years. No, I am not one to say, “the world is going to end next week” or make predictions about certain dates or events. I just like to keep up with what is happening around us and see how it ties in with prophecies made by Jesus Christ and the other prophets of God. Jesus scolded the Pharisees for not being aware of the “signs of the times.”

But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? [Matthew 16:2-3 NASB]

We can watch the news or surf the interent, these days, and see countless stories that tie in with what the prophets predicted regarding “the end times.”  Israel, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, they all seem to be parts of a puzzle that is rapidly coming together, right before our eyes. But there are also more natural occurrences, like volcanoes, earthquakes, droughts and violent weather patterns adding to the speculation, as well. And right now, there is another possible sign about to take place in the skies above us, a little over a month from now. The Book of Genesis tells us that the stars were created, in part, to be signs. If that is true, as I believe it to be, we are about to witness a pretty amazing one.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; [Genesis 1:14 NASB]

On Septemeber 23rd, 2017 the stars are going to be arranged in a way they have not been in approximately 6000 years (so cool that we can accurately calculate that stuff now), which is right about the time of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, if the biblical genealogies are correct (that part got my attention). The experts say that certain, specific groups of stars are going to intersect to form the woman with the crown of twelve stars from Revelation 12.  Here are the verses in question:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. [Revelation 12:1-2 NASB]

If you would like to see it for yourself, pop onto the Internet or YouTube and type in September 23rd, 2017. It’s posted all over the place. Very easy to find. But, try to avoid getting caught up in all the doomsday scenarios. There are tons of them. Just remember, signs are usually a type of warning, not usually a cataclysmic event, in and of themselves. But nevertheless, just as with a road sign, I take note. If there is danger ahead, I prefer to know about it. Can you imagine seeing a road sign that said, BRIDGE OUT, then choosing to ignore it just because you had driven that road many times before and the bridge was always there? Yeah, me neither. That would probably not end well, I suppose.

The next couple verses are also  very interesting, since they talk about a male child born to rule the nations, who was then caught up to God for a time (Jesus?). There is also this period of twelve hundred and sixty days (or 3 1/2 years) which every prophecy student knows as half of the seven year tribulation period that the prophet Daniel foresaw. So, there seems to be a connection. Here is how the Apostle John explained it:

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. [Revelation 12:5-6 NASB]

The interesting thing regarding this “sign in the stars” is the fact that Jupiter (which is also referred to as the “King”) has moved into what would be the woman’s abdomen and is scheduled to come out around September 23rd. Coincidence? I think not. Like it said in Genesis, God designed the heavens to be used as signs and to mark time. I do not believe in coincidences or accidents. I believe in intelligent design and a divine plan.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [Revelation 12:7-9 NASB]

In the Bible, the dragon (or serpent) is believed to be symbolic of Satan and “his angels” are the ones who rebelled with him. When they are cast down to the earth, that is believed to be what will start the final 3 1/2 years when Satan is let loose and the AntiChrist is revealed. These will be the “great and terrible days” that the prophets spoke of.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. [Revelation 12:10 NASB]

Eventually, this will lead up to the return of Christ, the destruction of His enemies and the redemption of those who have put their trust in Him and received forgiveness through His blood that was shed. God’s promises are true. He said He would come again to redeem His children, and I have no doubt that He will one day. Whether we remain alive until then or not (only God knows the answer to that), we can be assured of the promise of eternal life, if we put our hope and trust in Him.

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. [Revelation 12:11 NASB]

The reason I chose to share this story today, is not to scare anyone or be some kind of doomsayer. Quite the contrary, actually. The Bible teaches us that “no man is promised tomorrow.” Here today, and gone tomorrow. But it is our human nature to forget, sometimes, how frail human life can be. 

This looming astrological event, six weeks from now, could be something huge, something that changes the world as we know it in a blink of an eye, or it could come and go without anyone hardly noticing it, just like Y2K. But it is just like with Noah, as Jesus talked about. No one believed him that a great flood was coming. They went on with their lives just as if nothing would ever change. But when the rains came and the doors to the Ark were closed, it was too late. Their opportunity to be saved was lost. Jesus said it will be just like that in the end times.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” [Matthew 24:36-39 NASB]

We would be wise to take those words to heart and, at least, keep an eye out for the signs and warnings God is providing. The people who are His, the ones who are “keeping watch” will not be caught off guard by His coming. They will be ready and waiting, for they will have seen the signs and believed that the day of the Lord’s return is drawing near, though they won’t know exactly what day or hour. If you are prepared, it doesn’t matter when.

But rest assured, there will be a day when that seventh trumpet sounds and these words are finally spoken:

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” [Revelation 11:15 NASB]

Imagine…this world being restored to when there was no sickness, no death, no greed or hatred or any form of sin or temptation because Satan and all who do his work will be bound for a thousand years. That’s something you will not to miss, trust me.

When God reveals a sign to us, as individuals or the world as a whole…it is not for nothing. But, He leaves it up to us (free will) to do decide whether to accept it, or to drive over that cliff where there used to be a bridge. Both choices come with consequences.

Therefore, choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

*** If you would like to know more about this coming astrological signs in the heavens, here is a very informative video (about 30 minutes) that explains it in great detail. It is very interesting, to say the least.***


Restoration Of All Things?

Over the last few weeks, my posts have dealt with “signs in the heavens” and the idea that as “believers in God,” we should be looking towards what lies beyond this life to what comes after, since we will only be here maybe “seventy or eighty years if we have the strength” (as the Bible says) and eternity is a bit longer. OK, it’s a lot longer, but you get my point.

So I thought that this week, we could talk about what it is we are preparing for. I mean, if you are going somewhere (let’s say…on vacation), you want to know something about the destination if for no other reason, at least, to know how dress for it, so you can pack wisely. With regards to this destination, packing is not an issue (for a number of reasons). But, if I were to give you one word that might help us to think appropriately about the place we are headed for…it is “restoration.” What has been lost over the years, will be put back as it was. The Garden Of Eden restored to it’s “pre-fall” awesomeness? Can you imagine? No wars. No greed. No guilt. No temptation and no fear. Animals, sea creatures, plants, weather…all of it once again being just as God originally intended it to be. Sweet!!!

Let’s see what Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, had to say about this upcoming journey.

Acts 3:19-21 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. [Acts 3:19-21]

He writes of “times of refreshing” and goes on to say, “Jesus, whom Heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke…” So it seems this place is not quite ready yet. There must be some renovation that has to happen first. What, on Earth, is Luke talking about? Exactly!!

The Oxford Dictionary Of English defines restoration as “the action of returning something to it’s former owner, place or condition.” So, basically, it is putting something back the way it was at an earlier moment in time. It’s also interesting that it gives three examples or applications. And each of these examples could have another word, or synonym, that means the same thing but a little more specific to that application.

Returning something to it’s rightful or former owner could also be called “restitution.” That is where, maybe, a crime or theft has been committed and the judge, as part of a sentence, tells the guilty party to pay or give back what was taken. The Bible actually teaches this principle. The giving back is seen as a form of restoration or more specifically, restitution. But one more thing to consider, here. This form of restoration is generally not voluntary. Yes, sometimes people take things that don’t belong to them and later they feel bad about it, so they admit what they did and give it back. But, most of the time, it is more likely forced by a court or some other authority.

The second type of restoration that was mentioned was returning something or someone to it’s former place. This one is tricky because it could be voluntary or involuntary. A student could graduate from college and decide to move back home. That would be voluntary, of course. Or a released prisoner could be sent back to prison, if he commits another crime. That would be involuntary. Maybe you had been transferred overseas by your employer and after a couple of years of missing your hometown, a position opened up that would allow you to return home. Again, that would be partly by choice (because you wanted to go home) and partly involuntary because you had to wait for an opening, one that possibly would never come. But, it would be a welcome change, nevertheless.

But the one I want to “zoom in” on today is the third application, the one that deals with restoring something to it’s previous condition. Maybe a home was destroyed by a fire. Maybe a valuable vase was knocked off of a table and it shattered into pieces, and someone lovingly took the time and effort to glue it all back together, making it just like new. Or maybe after seventy or eighty years (as we talked about earlier), “the old gray mare (or colt) just ain’t what she (or he) used to be” (this example is very applicable to this post, actually, as you will see). It might take something a little more miraculous to restore them to their more youthful and healthier state, but no worries, God can handle it.

Or maybe there was something else happening that caused the condition of something very special (like Planet Earth, for instance) to deteriorate towards the point of no return (like the effects of six thousand years of human sin). That is the type of restoration project I want to talk about, today. It might just be the greatest restoration project ever undertaken and it will be 100% voluntary. Not voluntary by us humans, so much, but rather by the One who created it all, in the first place, God Almighty. He is all about restoration.

Jesus, Himself, actually talked about this very subject during His famous Sermon On The Mount, when His disciples asked Him how they should pray. He said the following words:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will  be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:9-10 ESV]

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That seems to imply that there will be a time when God’s glory will be filling the earth again, as it was back in the days of Adam and Eve, before they gave into temptation bringing everything that came after under the curse of sin and death. Well, take heart my friends. I am convinced that someday, in the not too distant future, this world will be like that again, in all it’s splendor. 

The Bible actually teaches that there will be 1000 years, when Christ returns to rule and reign over his people, where sin and death are nowhere to be found and Satan and his minions are bound and unable to tempt or corrupt us in any way. How cool will that be?

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” [Revelation 11:5 ESV]

The Bible teaches that at the sound of “the last trumpet,” the sky will open and the living Christ will return on His white horse, with an army of angels accompanying Him, to destroy His enemies (the last of which is death, it says) and establish His kingdom on the earth, in Jerusalem where God promised that David’s throne would be established forever.

And you know, it is not only the people that will be restored, but also creation itself. You think God’s creation is beautiful now, as we see it today? Just wait until you see it after it is restored to it’s original condition, just the way God designed it to be in the beginning, before sin set in motion six thousand years of deterioration. The world right now is like a 1957 Chevy that has been rusting away in someone’s yard for the last sixty years. Wait until you get a load of it after the Master Restorer makes good on His promise and puts it all back the way it was the day it rolled off the assembly line, I mean the day He created it in Genesis Chapter One. Trust me, like Bachman Turner Overdrive sang back in the day, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about it:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. [Romans 8:18-22 NASB]

And of course, this earthly reign of King Jesus (or the honeymoon, as I call it) takes place as sort of the exclamation point for God’s final victory over His enemies, where He shows them that the damage they caused was merely temporary and that they could not corrupt or destroy, permanently, anything that did not choose to be corrupted and destroyed by serving themsleves, rather than God. Remember, the fate of each of us lies in our own hands, since we have been given the power to choose (for ourselves) to be for Christ or against Him. He told us Himself, those were the only two choices. There is no middle ground.

So once again, whether we all die from an “extinction level event” like a major meteor strike or a nuclear war, or whether we drift off to sleep one night and never wake up, dying peacefully from natural causes (a nice way of saying “the effects of sin”…since aging is simply the result of sin and death entering the picture…back when that forbidden apple was eaten)….it is like we are standing in line at the DMV, ticket in hand, just waiting for our number to be called. Sooner or later, it will happen. We just don’t know when.

I can only tell you this, if you have prepared for that day properly by putting your faith, hope and trust in the truth of Jesus Christ and by rejecting the lies of the enemy, you will not be disappointed. I am going to let the words of the Apostle Paul close it out here today.

Let this one sink in and marinate in your mind a little bit…if you will:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” [1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV]


From Descendants To Ascendants

Last week, I talked at length about what the Bible has to say about God’s love for descendants, His and ours. I shared a ton of Bible verses from the Old Testament and the New Testament, with the crowning jewel (IMO) being from Acts 16, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved; you and your household.” I talked about how I have been moved to pray hundreds of times, in accordance with Acts 16:31, for my own family and descendants, my children, my grandchildren and even for generations to come. And from what I have read and heard over the years, I am not the only one who has made it a priority to pray for those who may come along after us. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family.

So, do these types of prayers work?  As always, I suggest we open up that dusty Bible and see what it has to say on the subject:

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. [James 5:15-16 NKJV]

James, who was an apostle and also the half-brother of Jesus, seemed to believe that prayer can change things. It can heal the sick, or bring forgiveness for our sins (some, by the way, believe the two are “one-and-the-same”…many times, when Jesus healed someone, He would say, “Go, and sin no more”). So yeah, I believe it is biblically sound to believe that praying for our loved ones (even future ones) can bring about healing, be it from illness or sinfulness. Jesus has often been referred to as “the great physician,” healing all kinds of sicknesses, both physical and spiritual ones.

But, this week, I’d like to turn the camera around and focus not on the ones who come along after us, but the ones who came before…our ascendants (aka…our progenitors or ancestors). Afterall, if what we read from the Bible last week is true, how the people we share our heritage with led their lives, especially how they related to God, could have a huge impact on who we are and what we become in this crazy world. I do not believe in accidents, sad ones or happy ones. I believe, to some degree, in destiny. But, I also believe our ancestors may have been either a help or a hindrance for those of use who came after, whether they knew it or not, by the way they lived their lives and interacted with God (or not).

First, before I dig into that subject directly, a few weeks ago, I was talking to my daughter-in-law over a family dinner and the subject of our family tree came up. She suggested I try and she told me I could try it for free for two weeks (not doing a promo for that website, here, but it has been interesting, for sure). She said that if I had a fair amount of basic information on my Mom and Dad’s background, that I would be surprised by how much I could discover in just two weeks. And, believe you me, was she ever right. What I found out has been astounding.

While I was not able to go very far back on my father’s side of the family, I was able to go all the way back to the early days of our nation and beyond on my mother’s side. Both my Dad’s family and my Mom’s came to the Cleveland area (where they met) from Pennsylvania, but different parts (Dad came here from Uniontown, actually Star Junction, and Mom’s father came here from Nanty Glo, near Johnstown).  What I found out about the Jones family from Nanty Glo was truly amazing. My great grandfather, Evan Jones, married a girl named Jenny Smith, who I was able to trace back to the very first settlers in Pennsylvania, back in the late 1660s and early 1700s in Bucks County (near Philadelphia).

You might be saying, “Ok, Bob, that’s great!!! But, why are you telling us all this? What does that have to do with me or my descendants?” Good question, let me see if I can  connect the dots. But first, let me introduce you to a few of my new found ancestors, many of whom were Quakers who came here from England to escape the religious persecution that led so many to come across the Atlantic (many died along the way) to seek safety for their families and the freedom to worship God as they saw fit, without governement retribution. Pretty amazing stuff. 

Here are just a few of the God-fearing men and women from my family tree that may have had a hand in the forming of this nation:

WILLIAM SMITH (born 1669/England; died 1743/Bucks County, Pa.) He is said to be the second “white-man” to set foot (John Chapman was the first) in what we call Pennsylvania, today. He was a Quaker preacher who was actually imprisoned for his faith in England and escaped to the New World on a ship called “Welcome” with William Penn.

ROGER WILLIAMS (born 1603/England; died 1683/Chester County, Pa.) He was a Puritan reverend who is credited with the founding and establishing of Rhode Island and was an architect of the idea of “separation of church and state” (to protect the religious freedoms we enjoy today) that later became part of the Constitution and still protects “people of faith,” today.

MARGARET TYNDALE (1510/England): My 14th great-grandmother, wife of Rev. Rowland Taylor (who was martyred under Queen Mary) and brother of  William Tyndale (1494/England) who was credited with publishing the first English translation of our Bible, the Tyndale Bible. He was also martyred because of his faith.

And trust me, this is only a small sampling of the very brave and vocal Christian men and women who are part of my family heritage (on my mother’s side) who were paving the way for what became this “shining city on a hill” called the United States of America. And I had no idea about any of this stuff until just a few weeks ago.

*** I also need to mention one very dear, sweet person from my father’s side of the family, his oldest sister and my Godmother, my Aunt Mary. She was a devout woman, kind and gentle, and I have always believed she was praying for me. She was very special to me, a great example of God’s lovingkindness and grace. Thank you, Aunt Mary ***

So, here is my question, “Did the bravery, outspokenness and willingness to face injury, or even death if necessary (not to mention the countless prayers they prayed for their loved ones and descendants), in any way contribute to the blessed existence I/we enjoy as Americans, today? I would have to say, “Yes, without a doubt.”  It would be very hard for me to believe that their courage and willingness to suffer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ had nothing at all to do with the blessings and protections we have enjoyed in this country for the last 200+ years or so.

During my time as a Christian, seeking to know God and the Bible better, and talking to many different people from many different backgrounds and beliefs, one question seems to be asked as much as any other I can think of, “Does anything that I do or say, or not, really matter?” There is a modern perception out there that we are all islands, not really connected to anyone else, at least not in any way that really matters. And, hence, if there really is a god or some form of higher power beyond the sky, he will deal with each of us on a “one-on-one” basis. Many think that nothing we say or do will effect anyone besides “little ol’ me.” I have heard that too many times to count. But, just as we talked about last week, that is not God’s nature. He is a God of relationships. We are connected to Him, He is connected to us and we are all connected to one another. I believe that everything we say and do certainly does have an effect on others, including those not yet present and accounted for…our descendants.

Remember from last week’s post, the verses where Moses recorded God’s commandments regarding “the sins of the father being visited on the children, even to the third and fourth generation” and how I said that if a loving God was willing to do that as a punishment for disobedience, how much more would He provide blessing and protection for those who lovingly obey Him?  This is not something that we should take lightly or overlook by saying, “That was then, this is now.” The Bible describes God as One who changes not.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. [Hebrews 13:8]

It is safe to say, then, if it mattered back then, it matters now. That is who God is. If what someone said or did was passed on to their descendants, in Moses’s time…ditto, now.

I believe that what we say and do, as parents, greatly influences (positively or negatively) our children and even our grandchildren…and beyond. Just as our genes determine things like hair color, baldness, eye color, height, weight, skin tone and even longevity…(i.e…our physical traits), I believe our actions and words have a similar “domino effect” on the personality traits of those around us, even their willingness to interact with God (or not). In fact, King Solomon wrote about this three thousand years ago in his Book of Proverbs:

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6]

Many would say, “Ok, sounds good, but in the real world, it doesn’t always work out that way.” I hear ya…but if we were honest and took a real good look at how we raised our children, were we diligent in teaching them the things God would have us teach them (I am sure I failed often, in that area)? Or, did we teach them what we thought was important or right? Or worse yet, did we sometimes say, “Let them figure it out for themselves like we did. Our parents didn’t teach us much about that stuff. We found out the hard way, the ‘school of hard knocks,’ right?”

My point is, it all matters far more than we realize. Words have power and actions speak louder than words.  Throw a pebble into a pond and watch how that ripple effect spreads out to the areas around where the pebble hit. It didn’t just stop at the size of the pebble. Neither do our actions or words. They effect everything around them.

I was shocked to learn how many of my ancestors were deeply religious, even by how many were actually preachers. I had often wondered if the reason I developed a hunger for God was because I had ancestors who were praying for me, some even before I was born. I am confident, now, to say I have no doubt about it. And not just my Aunt Mary. I think there were many more.

I will leave you with these inspirational words from Pastor Joel Osteen. I believe they are very true:

I want to talk to you today about generational blessings. Every right choice you make, you are making it easier on those that come after you. When you live a life of excellence and integrity, being your best and helping others, those are seeds that will not only make your life fuller and more rewarding, but your children and grandchildren will be better off because of the way you live. No person lives or dies under himself. The choices you are making will affect your family line for generations to come. I want my relatives to do great things in life because of me, not in spite of me. Our children have enough things to overcome without having to deal with our negative baggage. Your life can either be a stepping stone for your family to go higher or a stumbling block that causes them to struggle. Negative things may have been passed down to you but God raised you up to put an end to it. You can be the difference-maker. We hear a lot about the “generational curse,” but there’s also something called a “generational blessing.” The Bible talks about how you can store up mercy and grace for your children and even future generations. I know, I am where I am today in part because of the way my parents and grandparents have lived. I am reaping a harvest from seeds that they sewed.

Are your descendants reaping, or will they reap, a harvest of blessings that you have stored up for them?

I think that is a very important question. One we should all think about.

You and Your Household

For this week’s post, I really wanted to dive into one of my favorite subjects , regarding God, Christianity and the Bible……one word….descendants. One word, indeed, but a very deep subject that spans the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation (maybe even from before the earth was formed and after our time here is done, as well). Yes…I feel totally confident in saying, “The Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth….is all about descendants.”

First, let me lay a little ground work. The Apostle John wrote, in 1 John Chapter 4:8, three words that have become very well-known and often-quoted. “GOD IS LOVE”…not has love, shows love or exemplifies love in a way humans are incapable of. All of those may be true, as well. But, beyond that, He is love. It is who He is. It is what He is made of. As you and I are but flesh and bone, He is but love…..nothing more and nothing less.

And because He is love, He desires to be in relationship with others because, as Reba McEntire once sang, “Love isn’t love until you give it away.” How about you? Are you married or in a special relationship with someone? When you came to the realization that it might be special, maybe even…ummm…..l-l-l-l-love, did it make you feel different inside, maybe even a little more alive?  I’m guessing, “Yes.” Not surprising to me, God made us that we. We are made in His image. He craves being in loving relationships. So, naturally, so do we. 

How about those of you who are parents? When you held your first child in you arms, did something kick in, emotionally? Something hard to explain and something that you felt before, sort of, but not to that level. A parent’s love is very different, right? I believe that God intentionally made the love we feel for our children, our descendants, very, very special because that is how He loves us, His descendants.

Ok, so this post is going to be a little different than my other ones. I am using a ton of Bible verses, this time, because I think they tell the story of God’s love of descendants far better than I can. And I am going to start with one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. Those of you who know me have heard me quote this one many times. It’s a big one for me:

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” [Acts 16:31]

This whole chapter is incredible. In the town of Phillipi, Paul and Silas encountered a woman named Lydia. In my Bible, the heading refers to her as “the first convert in Europe.” She responds to Paul’s message and her and “her household” were all baptized. Then, Paul and Silas are jailed and an earthquake hits, which causes the cell door to open. Coincidence? I think not. The jailor wakes up and thinks they have escaped, but is thankful to learn they did not. He asks them, “What must I do to be saved?” They respond as we read in the verse above. One might ask, “I understand the jailor being saved, he responded in faith, but why would his family be saved? They were not there. What did they do to be included by Paul and Silas? As far as I can see, not much. Same with Lydia, she showed faith, but then her family is saved and baptized, as well. What is going on here?  These people were family members, loved ones….descendants. Was Paul and Silas teaching some new twist here? Not really. The idea of loved ones being spared because of the faith of a family member was not new at all. Let’s take a look at Noah:

Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him. Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. [Genesis 7:5-7]

Noah obeyed God, acted in faith, and because he did…his wife, three sons and their wives (eight people in all) survived the flood. Did they, as individuals, act in faith and obedience towards God, as Noah did? Not that we know of, but they were spared because they were his family. Are we starting to see a pattern, here?

“….for all the land which you see (God speaking to Abraham),I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. [Genesis 13:15]

Abraham believed, he displayed faith, and it was accredited to him as righteousness. But, his descendants also received the promised. How so? Were they faithful to God? Well, if you know anything about Israel, back in those days, you would like say, “Not hardly.” So what gives, here?

“May He also give you (Jacob) the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” [Genesis 28:4]

Then, the blessing gets passed on to Jacob and his descendants, again not that they deserved it. Some might say that Jacob didn’t even deserve God’s favor, let alone his descendants. He was a bit of a coniver. But hey, Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. He inherited the promise.

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” [2 Samuel 7:12, 16]

King David was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and chosen of God to be King of Israel. He was said to be “a man after God’s own heart.” You got it. His son, Solomon, got to be the one to build the Temple that David so wanted to build for God and the promise was extended to their descendants, as well. And one of David’s descendants was pretty important in the big picture of all of this stuff. You probably know Him as Jesus Christ. BTW, did you know that both Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of David. It’s true and hugely important, since Joseph was not the actual father of Jesus, God was. So, the Lord covered both bases, there, for those who get all caught up in the bloodlines and genetics of it all. God’s ways are indeed higher than ours, and a couple thousand steps ahead. No doubt.

I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants… [Deuteronomy 30:19]

So historically, I think we have laid a pretty solid foundation for saying that because of the faith of a father, who served, obeyed and trusted in God (and not their own works) to save them, they were “choosing life” (as it says above), not just for themselves but for their descendants, as well. Are you with me so far? Hope so….hang in there …it gets better!!

“…I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” [Exodus 20:5-6]

This passage has caused plenty of consternation for readers of the Bible, over the years, I’m sure. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Just because a father sins, should the children for the next three or four generations bear the burden of judgement? It’s just like the concept of “original sin.” Adam and Eve sin, and all of us who came after are deemed to be sinners in the eyes of God? Seems a little harsh, no? But, that is what the Bible teaches…and thanks be to Christ for negating that problem for those who believe.

So, let me ask a question, if I may. If God saw fit to punish the descendants of fathers who did evil in His sight, would it not make sense that this same God, one who the Bible says “IS LOVE,”  would be willing to extend His promises and blessings to the descendants of those who love, honor and obey Him…and walk by faith and not by sight? Just because they are descendants? I would say, “Yes, absolutely, sounds like God to me.”

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. [Galatians 3:29]

So, what about you and me? Is that deal still on the table for us and, more importantly, our descendants? I would say, again, “Why not?” Would there be any greater reason or motivator to spur us on to live godly lives and love others as Christ loves us, then to see our prayers answered that our children and grandchildren would get to spend eternity in Heaven, with us and, more importantly, with the Lord?  I honestly cannot think of one.

Let me just say, before I go any further, that I am not trying to start some new doctrine or stir up controversy. Woe to me, or anyone, who tries to twist God’s Word to make it say something that it is not saying. That is why I used a lot of Scripture in this post. Let God’s Word be true (not Bob’s opinions…Ok?). I am not saying as with a blanket statement, that if I am saved, then all my children and grandchildren are automatically saved. Not even close.

What I am saying is this, that God loves descendants far more than any of us could ever love our own (and I love mine A LOT). He loves them so much that He sent His own Son, Jesus, to become the ransom payment for every one of us (it says so in John 3:16). He left no one out. The same forgiveness is available for the good, the bad and the ugly (that was a great movie, was it not?)

The Bible teaches us to walk by faith, to trust in Him and lean on His word. And I believe, if we do that, we can’t go wrong. So, for years, I have been standing on the Word and praying in accordance with Acts 16:31. I believe that if I have faith in Christ and trust in Him and not myself, then I will be saved and so will my household, my descendants. And I believe God will answer those prayers.

God’s Word says it….I believe it….and I have no intentions of wavering.  We are taught that “We have not, because we ask not….or we ask with wrong motives.” Well, I am asking and I believe I am asking in accordance with God’s Holy Word.

God does not want any of His children to perish…..and neither do I. We are in full agreement on that. May His will be done.

This should be our takeaway today, I hope (especially for those of us who are parents or grandparents). God wants to spend eternity with all of his children, just like we do , and He has promised all through human history to include our descendants in the promises He makes to us, the ones who believe, who trust Him and call on His Holy Name.

So, we should make it a priority to pray diligently, frequently and believingly (is that a word?) for the salvation of our children and our grandchildren. God tells us to ask…to  believe and receive, by faith,  the things He has promised in His Word. That’s good enough for me.

Lastly, I will leave you with the words of one of the guys whose descendants did find favor with God….King David:

Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 

Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. [Psalm 37:4-5]

Sounds like a plan…..thank you, Lord!!!

Come Talk With Me (God)

In all my years of being a Christian, studying the Bible and interacting with others who share in this simple, yet profound adventure of seeking God and desiring to be in an honest and true relationship with Christ, maybe there has been nothing that I have seen believers struggle with and sometimes, even misunderstand, more than the simple act of prayer. 

Perhaps it is because, like me, so many people who are now “Bible-believing Christians” grew up in or have come out of a church or religious system where prayer was structured and stiff. Many churches have taught people to memorize prayers that were written for them, that said what the church thought the believer should pray.

Now, that could be because so many people have said, “I want to pray, but I am intimidated by it. I really do not know what to say. This is God we are talking about. I don’t want to screw it up.” So, maybe these churches thought it would be a good idea to teach them some generalized prayers that they could use, when their own words fail them. I get that.  Even the disciples of Jesus struggled with this, as we see in this well-known passage from Luke Chapter 11:

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John (the Baptist) taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” [Luke 11:1-4 ESV]

I am guessing, based on that exchange, the disciples of Jesus were impressed by the way the disciples of John the Baptist were able to pray…so eloquent…so deep and thoughtful. There did seem to be, early on, a bit of a competition between John’s disciples and the disciples of Jesus. John’s disciples grumbled about why they had to fast all the time and the disciples of Jesus did not. Jesus’s disciples were envious of the way John’s disciples prayed. Now, I am not suggesting that John or Jesus were a party to this behavior, of course not. But, there did seem to be a little bit of “Can you top this?” going on, between the brethren. Just sayin’.

Let’s take a look at what some other well-respected experts on prayer had to say about the subject:

“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” (Billy Graham)

You might be saying, “Two-way conversation? Wait, you mean there is supposed to be a response? From God? You’re kidding me, right? All these years I tried to pray and you are telling me that I was supposed to be hearing God answer me back?”

Well, yes, but maybe not right away…and not necessarily in an audible voice. But God does answer us when we pray. I believe that with all my heart. I do believe God sees prayer as a two-way street. We are taught in the Bible to “make our requests known to God” and I believe He hears those requests. Our local pastor, Pastor Jim Mindling, has a great way of explaining it. He says, “Sometimes, God answers ‘Yes.’ Sometimes, He answers, ‘No.’ And sometimes His answer is ‘Not right now…I am working on that one.'”  I love that. Just because we do not get an answer right away, that does not mean God does not hear us.

“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with Me?’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” [27:8 NLT] (King David)

Two things jump out at me, from this powerful little passage written by a man who was said to be “a man after God’s own heart,” David, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, who may have been small in stature (compared to his brothers), but was chosen and annointed by God to lead His people and unify His nation. He had a lot to say about prayer.

1) David writes, “Come and talk with Me,” as if they were the words of God. In fact, he sort of implied they were. It seems David was comfortable with the idea that prayer was to be two-way communication with the Creator of all things. And he did not seemed embarrassed to say so.

2) He started out this passage with the words, “My heart has heard You say…” Not his ears, his heart heard it. Again, God’s responses are usually not heard audibly (not saying never….but it is rare). More often, it is something we hear (or sense) in our hearts.

So, if you are not hearing God’s voice speaking audibly to you, in response to your prayers, welcome to the club. You are not alone. But, again, don’t assume that means He is not choosing to answer you. He will…and probably has many times. You (and I) just may not have recognized it when He did. Imagine that….lol.

“Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! ” [Psalm 27:7 NLT] (King David)

You see, even the writer of the Psalms had moments, where it seemed to him that God had chosen not to answer him. He even implied that if God did eventually answer, it would be because He was being merciful towards him. This was probably one of those times where God was saying, as Pastor Jim suggested, “Not right now..I am still working on that one.”

A number of the parables Jesus spoke had to do with the need for persistency in our prayer life. Remember the story about the poor widow who repeatedly approached the judge, seeking justice, and how he finally granted her request because she persisted and finally wore him down. Or how about the friend who came knocking on the door at midnight, seeking something to eat. Finally, the owner of the house gave him some bread, just to get him to stop interrupting his sleep. Persistence. And Jesus did not seem to be saying, in these stories, that their persistence was a bad thing. Not at all, in fact, it sounds to me like He was encouraging it.

How about when Jacob wrestled with God all through the night, and told Him, “I will not let You go until You bless me.”  That took some guts, right? And how did God respond? He changed Jacob’s name to Israel because he had “wrestled with God and men…and prevailed.” Sounds to me like God appreciates it when we are passionate or moved enough by something to pray to Almighty God about it and we “stick to our guns” (spiritually speaking) and fight for it. Makes sense to me. 

But then, when I was young, I used to get upset with my Dad because no matter what I would ask him for, his first answer was always, “No.” One time, I got mad enough to ask him why he did that. His answer was, “I just wanted to see how bad you wanted it.” So yeah, maybe God’s approach just makes more sense to me because I grew up with a father who did not always just say, “Yes,” to me all the time. Now, my Dad was not the most religious man, to be truthful. But, unknowingly, he did sort of prepare me for having a more disciplined prayer life. See how that works? Thanks, Dad!!!

This next passage from King David, again, kinda makes me chuckle a bit. How many of us, honestly, have felt exactly the same way regarding our prayer life, at one time or another?

“I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.” [Psalm 28:1 NLT] (King David)

Have you ever (be honest) gotten so frustrated that your prayers were not being answered in the way, or as quickly as you would like, so you turned the heat up on God a bit, thinking that might bring a quicker or more favorable response? You are like, “C’mon Lord. I have been praying about this for six months now. Surely, by now, you know I am serious about this. If I don’t get an answer soon, I may have to take matters into my own hands. Don’t make me do something I might regret.” How did that work out for you? For me, not so well. I am learning to have more patience, as I grow older, especially in the area of prayer. I have also learned, as with a great meal, the best results take a little longer. If the answer came a little sooner, it probably wouldn’t be as good.

So let’s sum up:

1) Prayer is meant to be a conversation….and a two-way one at that.

2) Prayer takes practice…the more you pray…the more comfortable you get with it.

3) Prayer requires persistence…God helps by giving us more opportunities to practice.

4) Prayer requires patience…God could answer quicker…but what fun would that be?

And 5) Never doubt for a second that prayer works…or that God hears your prayers.

And always remember what Jesus, Himself, instructed us to do………

“Ask and it will be given to you; 

Seek and you will find; 

Knock and the door will be opened to you.”

                                           [Matthew 7:7]

More About “The Word”

Last week, I received a bunch of interesting comments on the post called, “Just Say The Word.” Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I really enjoy hearing your feedback. 
In my posts, I am just giving you my take, based on my studies and experiences over the years. But, in no way do I think I have some corner on the market or some unique insight. Not at all, that is why I value your feedback. Hopefully, we can learn from each other. If my posts get someone thinking to the point that they dig into God’s Word and come to encounter Christ for themsleves….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. I can only hope to plant a seed or spur your desire to know God. If in some small way, I have done that…I am thrilled!!!!

So…anyway..I thought it would be a good idea to do sort of a “Part II” on this idea we talked about last week, the fact that the Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ was/is the Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us. John wrote that the Son was the Word of God from the beginning of time. He was not just a baby, born in a manger two thousand years ago, that grew to be a prophet or a teacher. Rather, He was the Promised One that would challenge the very foundations of the Jewish traditions which had been held dear for centuries and also challenged the power and authority of the Roman Empire, which would eventually cost Him His life.

But, did His death mean that He lost, or was silenced, or that somehow His claims of being the Son of God were proven to be false? Not at all, if anything, it led to His resurrection three days later, which only made His claims more valid than ever before and changed the world and what we all thought about God forever.

The Apostle Paul actually had a lot to say about this Word/Son/Creator/God continuum, as well, in his letter to the Christian Church in Colossae, in the first century following Christ’s death and resurrection. Let’s take a look:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:13-14]

So it says, “For He (the Father)…rescued us…and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” That means we can add “King” to that Word/Son/Creator/God conglomeration. My goodness, this Jesus is building quite a resume, is He not? But, Paul also said we were “rescued from the domain of darkness”…redeemed and forgiven of our sins…all as a result of this divine transfer of power. You see, Jesus is not the only one getting a promotion, in the verses above. We are also receiving a divine promotion, from sinner to saint, as well, if we put our trust and faith in Him. And that is a promotion from which there can never be a demotion. Just sayin’.

One more quick thing about this verse, OK? For those who are still not quite sure if they fully buy into this idea that Jesus was God, wouldn’t the Father be the one most likely to be King of whatever kingdom is to come after this world? Yet, the Father transfers that title and all the power and authority that goes with it to the Son. Do you think God Almighty would be willing to hand over complete control of everything to someone or something who was less than God, to someone less powerful than Himself? I would think not so. Why would He?

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. [Colossians 1:19-20]

And again, Paul writes, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for ALL the fullness to dwell in Him (Christ).” So the Father was pleased to do it, to place it all in the hands of the Son for all eternity. We have all heard stories, I’m sure, of wealthy business owners retiring and turning the business over to their children (son or daughter). How does that usually work out? Many times, not so well. The one who inherits the business does not always have the same love or passion for it, and either runs it into the ground or spends all the money, leaving all that the father worked for to be just a memory. Pretty sad, when that happens. But, this is God we are talking about. He was pleased to hand it over, never worried about it for a second, because his Son was fully God, as well.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. [Colossians 1:15-17]

Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (check), “firstborn of all creation” (check), “creator of all things” (check), and “He holds all things together” (check). You’d think the Father might have assigned a brother or someone to help Him, no? That is a lot for one man to have to do by Himself, am I wrong?  But, then He “was the Word and the Word was God.” No worries, then, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” as the song says.

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; [Colossians 2:9-10]

“For in Him (Christ),” it says, “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (checkmate). There it is, just like John said in His Gospel, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” I think it is safe to say that both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John were pretty emphatic about this amazing mystery. They certainly did not mince words about it. They both clearly believed Jesus Christ was/is fully God, while at the same time, fully man.

All of this is leading me to want to share how I, over the years, have developed my own way (uh-oh…opinion alert) of coming to grips with this concept we have come to know and understand as the “Holy Trinity.” I am not coming up with some new doctrine, here, or offering up some “strange fire.” This is just how I break it down into manageable, bite-size pieces, so I can wrap my head around it. Are you still with me?  

Let me remind you (in case you did not know), I was born and raised Catholic, so this concept of three separate persons, all co-equals, making up one God was quite mind-boggling to me, growing up. In fact, in the Catholic Church, it is treated like this great mystery. And for many, that is what it is, still today. A mystery. 

It wasn’t until after I accepted Christ (age 25) and started really digging into the Bible that I finally started to connect the dots to the point where it all started to make sense, with the help of the Holy Spirit. So, here is how I brought it all into focus, at least in my mind.

Think of it this way. You are a person, totally unique and different than any other person who has ever lived. When you speak, are your words not a part of you, an extension of who you are, as well? Have you ever tried to disconnect yourself from something you said? Not that easy, is it? My name is Bob, my words are “the words of Bob.” Whether I like it or not, they are just as much part of who I am as my physical body is.  And so, yes, I can believe that it was God’s Word that came to Earth and took on the human form we know as Jesus Christ. God in the flesh. The Word was God. It all fits. Makes sense to me.

How about your spirit, your personality or personal energy? Do you not have an influence on those around you, be it good or bad? Is there not something contagious about a person (some more than others, of course) that rubs off on you, if you are around them enough? Maybe it’s the way you talk or the way you rub your head when you are puzzled. I cannot tell you how many times my wife has said to me, “Honey, you are scaring me. You sounded just like your Dad, there.” His personality, mannerisms and, to some degree, his way of speaking has become part of who I am, just by being around him for so long. His personality went forth from his person and effected those he came into contact with. But, it was still a part of him, not some lesser representation of him, that rubbed of on people. 

And the same is true of you and I. Does that not sound just like the Holy Spirit? It is God’s personality, emanating from the Father, with the full power and authority of who God is, that is changing those whom He touches, into the image of One it originated from. How cool is that?

We can therefore conclude that the Son of God was/is God’s Word eminating from our Father in Heaven, clothed in humanity on our behalf. And the Holy Spirit is, in essence, the power and influence of His personality, sent forth to draw us back to Himself by exposing and displacing the darkness through the glorious light of His perfect, unchanging love.

So, there you have it. That might have been a long explanation, but I hope it helps you to more fully grasp this biblical truth…Jesus was not an afterthought or God’s “Plan B.” This was the Father’s plan from before the universe was created, as is evidenced by the fact that it was the Son, according to the Scriptures, who created all things. 

I would like to wrap up this discussion with one more piece of this divine puzzle, if I may. The Bible also teaches us that “the Word of God does not return void, but accomplishes that which it was sent out to do.”

And what the Word of God was sent from Heaven to do, most of all, was to provide a way of redemption through His blood for those who are His, even those who call upon His name, that their sins may be forgiven so they may rule and reign with Him for all eternity.

And He will do it, you can count on it, because the Word of a God does not return void, but will accomplish all that it was sent forth do to.