Real Christmas

Real Christmas is the Gospel

Keep Christ in Christmas! Jesus is the Reason for the Season! We’ve all heard these slogansto remind everybody that the word Christmas comes from the word Christ. But sometimes, doesn’t it seem like it’smerry-christmas just not getting through? The debate keeps raging about whether to say Merry Christmas or not, but even those who don’t believe in Jesus say Merry Christmas.

So, without further ado, here is the simple Gospel message of linus-quoting-lukeChristmas from an excerpt in From Woodstock To Eternity

This man we had never met sat down in our living room and said to us, ‘God so loved themanger-scene world that He sent His Son down to earth, Who became a baby, grew up among us, and then went to the cross to die. Now, God’s law says the penalty for sin is death, and we have all sinned. So, either we have to die, or someone else has to die in our place. That is called a sacrifice. When God’s Son died on that cross, He sacrificed himself for our sins. He died in our place so we could go to heaven. All you have to do is believe Jesus died for your sins and receive Him as your Savior, and you will be able to live with God forever. And besides that, He will put His Holy Spirit in you, Who will give you power to live a godly life, and He will make your life more abundant and full of blessings.

Now isn’t that Good News?’”

It is Good News. It is “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” as the angel said to the shepherds. They are the words of eternal life, and Jesus is the Word of Life. Whoever believes in Him shall never die.

This is the Real Christmas Message!

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

So Much To Be Thankful For

From Woodstock To Eternity might not seem like a candidate for a great Thanksgiving thanksgiving-dinnerbook, but it really is.

First, consider the setting on the Mayflower as the Pilgrims embark for their journey away from the Old Country to go to the New World

Imagine the wharf where the Pilgrims loaded all their earthly belongings on the Mayflower to sail to the New World.  What was going through their minds as they contemplated leaving not just their friends and families, but the only world they knew – a whole continent?  They left a civilized society that had developed over eons to go to a land no one had ever seen. 

Mayflower

Mayflower

Then the day and the hour came when they drove their animals on board, carried all they could take up the ramp to the boat, settled into their places in the hold and headed off into the Western expanse.  The great sails went up, and the waves slapped against the hull of the magnificent vessel as they lined up along the rails.  Straining to absorb every last detail of the skyline, they took one last gaze at the vanishing European land mass.  All that they knew became smaller and smaller as it receded into the emptiness behind them.  They turned to soak up the scene ahead, and there was only the sea and the horizon, the bow of the mighty ship rising and falling with the swells.  From now on, all they had were their dreams and a determination to conquer the unknown.

We know they were thankful that they made it. They realized their dreams and conquered the unknown. And they gave God the glory.

Dustin Morgan is also he made it in the final chapters of the book.

Soon, the guitar strikes up the chords, and the whole house fills with the joyful music.  Everybody sings it out with all their might, clapping the island beat, and a big grin spreads across Morgan’s face.the-other-side

“I finally made it!  I really did.  I made it to the other side, and I don’t feel bored.  On the contrary, this is probably the best I have felt in a long, long time.”

He also made it from the Old Country to the New World in Christ.

Now that I am living in the Heavenly Country, here are some things I am thankful for.

A lovely, faithful wife who goes with me chasing my rainbows

Seven fantastic children who make me very, very proud

Six (and counting) grandchildren – all boys so far.

A life of deliverance, free from the chains of sin

May God richly bless each of you this Thanksgiving!!!

The Same Holy Spirit Falls

The Christian’s Bond Through the Ages: Mar’s Hill to Grenada

Phillip in Samaria  Acts 8:6-8  “And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things phillip-in-samariaspoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”

Peter at Cornelius’s house  Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word”day-of-pentecost

What do you suppose it felt like to be in the streets of Samaria, or in Cornelius’s house when the Holy Spirit fell? It sounds like a far off fantasy, doesn’t it? It’s in the Bible, so it was 2,000 years ago, and everything was different back then. That means people felt differently back then right? No! Of course not! Their love was the same as we feel, their fear was the same fear, their joy was the same joy. They just had to experience them without electricity and running water.

whitefield-preachingWhenever there is a revival, the same Holy Spirit falls. George Whitefield had a booming voice and preached a message of holiness to tens of thousands in the American colonies. Ben Franklin estimated a crowd in Philadelphia to be over 80,000 people! Jonathan Edwards read his sermon called jonathan-edwards-resolved“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and people moaned out loud, “what shall I do to be saved.”

In “From Woodstock To Eternity” Dustin Morgan is in Grenada and witnesses the Holy Spirit fall in response to the preaching of the Word.

While they are singing, many locals gather around to listen or join in, clapping along in their rhythmical, island beat.  Suddenly, Pastor Terry steps out in the open air and starts to proclaim a message about the saving power of Jesus.  They are having a revival right here in the middle of the street!  A couple of local islanders raise their hand to get saved and walk up to the Pastor.  He lays his hands on their heads and they bow in prayer.  Dustin whispers in Lisa’s ear,

island-people“I tell you what, I never would have seen anything like this in my old days.  I feel like we are experiencing something that has been going on for centuries.  I bet people felt the same Spirit when George Whitefield was preaching in the colonies, or even when Paul was on Mars Hill in Athens.  I had no idea being a Christian would be anything like this.”

Isn’t it something? When we get saved, or filled with the Spirit, or feel God’s presence, we feel the same Holy Spirit that people felt in the Bible – or in The Great Awakening – or in Cornelius’s house! Just pull up a chair, listen to Peter and start speaking in tongues… it’s that easy, and it’s part of our bond. The fellowship of believers spans the ages.

The Inner Battle: Know Your Enemy!

Have you ever felt like you are in the middle of a battle?

We are always being pulled in separate directions.  Most of the time, we don’t think about it.  We go about our daily lives and believe we are merely making our own decisions.  However, every thought and attitude is motivated by one force or another.  In this political season, a great deal of focus is being given to knowing our enemy.

Good & Evil pulling apart

Good & Evil pulling apart

Either the Spirit of Christ is thinking through us, or the enemy of our souls is calling the shots.  This is a silent battle, most of the time.  But when push comes to shove, we can feel like we are being torn apart.

Dustin Morgan experiences this phenomenon in the book “From Woodstock To Eternity” when he is offered a job to fly marijuana from Jamaica.

pro pilot

pro pilot

“When he made his confession of Christ, he entered into a

stack of money

stack of money

spiritual realm he didn’t know existed.  He received the Holy Spirit as an on-board Teacher to drive his conscience toward doing the right thing.  But unknown to him, he had another battalion of demons, commanded by their leader, Legion, who were determined to make him do the wrong thing.”

 

Making the choice

Making the choice

For all Christians, we have the amazing gift of an on board Teacher from Heaven.  All we have to do is ask for advice and we get it!  There is only one catch.  We have to be open to what the Holy Spirit says in order for it to do us any good.  It doesn’t work when we allow ourselves to hang on to old desires.  If we are not willing to abandon our own inclinations, Legion is more than willing to step in.

So the choice is ours.  It all depends on who we appoint to call the shots.

angels in heaven

The Teacher from Heaven

or

 

demons in hell

The Tempter from you know where

Angels In Our Lives

Featured

Does God Physically Intervene in our Lives?

In Psalm 91, God says he will deliver us from pestilence, plague, attacks from our enemies, and guide us in such a way that we will avoid all these things.  We don’t know how he does it.  It’s invisible to us in a spiritual realm.  The Bible talks about His right hand and the Spirit doing mighty works, but it also says a lot about angels.

Psalm 91:11-12   For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

This sounds so out of bounds, that people use this as a reason to call the Bible a “book of fairy tales,” and so on.  Many, if not most Christians, find it hard to believe these extra – terrestrial beings are real and have any tangible influence in our activities.

In “From Woodstock To Eternity,” Dustin Morgan has a few encounters with the other realm, so to speak, and God’s hand is introduced throughout the book, showing that He has always been there to bring Dustin around.  In one hair raising incident, he is about to crash his pot laden plane into the trees when God calls two angels to go to his aid.

Up in the heavenly Control Room, Jesus is watching all this and shaking His head.  He calls two of His angels, Clarence and Fred, and explains their assignment to them.

“Do you see Dustin down there, getting ready to crash into those trees?  He’s really been

a hard nut to crack.  I saved him back in Texas, but he’s making it awfully hard on himself.  Legion’s got him all twisted up in knots.  Now, I’ve got a plan for his life, and he can’t kill himself before he accomplishes it, so I’m going to have to send you two down there to help him out.  Clarence, you’ve done some of this kind of work before, but you’re going to need Fred here for backup.”

Now, this is probably not exactly how it happened, but Morgan’s plane did regain engine power, and it did fly over the trees.  The problem with so many of the inexplicable things in our lives is that we don’t know if it was God, or an angel, or what.  But there is a key to gaining access to Him

Ask – Seek – Knock                                 More about this later.

Easter Day 3: Resurrection

The last guest post from Josiah Cooper with a dynamic description of Easter Sunday

Easter post 3 of 3:

Dawn broke on the first day of the week, signaling the end of the Sabbath. The preparations for Jesus’ body before His burial had been incomplete the weekend before because the Sabbath was drawing near, and now those He loved were on their way to the

Guards at the Tomb

Guards at the Tomb

tomb to finish their labor of love. Two obstacles stood in their way, the Roman guard placed by Pilate at the request of the religious leaders, and greater still was the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb.

Suddenly, as they draw near, the ground begins to shake violently and a bright light outshining the dawn explodes from the direction of the grave. The Roman guard, who have been skillfully trained to fear nothing, wither in fear and pass out as

As dead men

As dead men

“dead men”. As the ground ceases its trembling, the ladies see the stone has been rolled away and a mighty angel sitting on it as though he is expecting them. His message is short and simple: “Jesus isn’t here”! He shows them the place where Jesus lay and tells them that they will see Him in Galilee.

Jesus has had a long weekend. Not only did He have to to go through the whole dying thing, but what we don’t often consider is the necessity of His death. Death was His ticket to the underworld where He did suffer for the sins of the world until the moment the Father said “ENOUGH”. Hearing His Father’s voice, a voice He had not heard since since He was forsaken at Calvary, brought new life into His being, and the tables of Hell were turned! The very chains that bound Him in torment He seized and with them He chained together sin and death. Looking over and seeing the souls in the graves, He turned and locked eyes with Satan, the former Angel of Light, whose countenance at this point must have been

Keys to Hell and Death

Keys to Hell and Death

priceless. In an instant, Jesus has him by the collar, demanding the keys to Hades, and snatching them from Lucifer’s bony fingers he leads captivity captive and frees those in the prison of Hell.

“ARISE, MY LOVE!” The words carry such power as Jesus’ soul returns to His body that the earth shakes and men tremble. An angel is dispatched from the heavens, his broadsword at the ready, wings flared at his decent to earth, surrounded in purest light. Sheathing his sword behind him, he leans into the stone and effortlessly moves it aside, taking a seat atop it as he waits to deliver his glorious message: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?…But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

As they left the tomb, the stunning message and reminder from the angel ringing in their ears, Jesus Himself meets them on the road. He greets them, affirming what the angel has said and promises to see them soon.

They return to the house where the disciples have been hiding out and tell them the good news “Jesus is risen!” Peter and John rush to the tomb to see for themselves going inside, they see the place where He lay and the linen garment that had wrapped His head folded neatly. Marveling to themselves, they leave, very curious about what is to come next.

Two men are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus and a stranger joins them, listening to their conversation as they travel. They are discussing the events of the past weekend and their despair that the man they had hoped would be their Messiah and deliver them from Roman oppression had been so savagely cut down and killed. The stranger begins talking with them about their history and how prophecies for centuries had foretold what the Messiah would be and what He would do. His voice and manner of speech sound familiar, and when He looks away, Cleopas catches the eye of His friend and mouths “who is this guy?”, only to get an expression of similar bewilderment as his answer.

Entering Emmaus, the trio draws near to a house and the stranger implies that He is going further, but Cleopas and his friend invite him to dinner. Something about this guy and his knowledge of the scriptures is so magnetic and rich that they’re not ready to say

The Road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus

“goodbye” just yet. The men sit down to eat. Wine is poured, and the stranger offers to say grace. Taking the bread in his hands, he prays “blessed are You oh LORD our God who brings forth bread from the earth”. Breaking it, he offers a half to each of the other two men. Their eyes burst from their faces as everything becomes crystal clear, for they are looking at the hands of Him who was pieced! Looking up at one another, speechless, they turn to Jesus only to find that He has disappeared!

Such excitement fills them that they run the entire 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples again the news they’ve already heard “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.” As they recount the story, Jesus appears in their midst greets them with peace. Revealing His scars, He invites them to touch and see for themselves that

He Is Risen

He Is Risen

they might believe. To add to His reality, they give him food, which He eats, proving that He is no ghost, but very much the Jesus that they know and love.

Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed!

Easter Post Day 2

Another guest post from Josiah Cooper Part 2 out of 3

Day 2:  Confusion and disappointment

Disappointed Disciples

Disappointed Disciples

After Jesus’ death, the people most closely involved must have experienced a wide range of emotions. His own mother had watched him die and is in the care of John the Beloved. Is she grieving? Does she find peace in knowing that it was to this end He was born? Does she remember His promise to rise again?
His disciples are scattered, and as we will later find, many of His followers are completely shattered as their hope of a military leader/deliverer had just been executed.

Torn Veil

Torn Veil In the Temple

The religious leaders are completely bewildered concerning the events that occurred as Christ breathed His last. The earth had shaken, great darkness had fallen, and the veil of the temple rent in twain! Still, they are somewhat relieved that they can carry on with their ritual feast and sacrifices, completely unaware that the final Sacrifice has just been made! Even they cannot shake their own concern, as they consult with the governor to have a guard placed at the tomb because they remembered better than His disciples His promise to rise again.
I’m the meantime Jesus is in Hades preaching to the souls held captive there. Even in death He does the will of His Father.
The Sabbath is passing, and life is beginning to return to normal after the events of the weekend.

Or are they?

Stay tuned…

Easter Post 1

Easter Day One

I am happy to present this guest blog from my son, Josiah Cooper.  In three consecutive posts, he covers the death, burial, and resurrection from a very different perspective.  I hope you will enjoy.

Happy Good Friday, my friends!

Today we remember the dismal account of Jesus’ road to the cross. I feel though that we often overlook the greater spiritual conflict that took place.

Jesus, being fully human and fully divine acknowledged “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38. He was quick to remind his disciples as he was being arrested “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53.

legions of angels

legions of angels

My historical expertise fails me as to what a legion numbers, but suffice it to say, that’s a lot of angels! (Further research has shown that a Roman Legion was 6,000, making twelve legions of 72,000 angels!!) And they are no cherubs playing harps. These guys are William Wallace-meets-The Rock with wings, and they are poised for action with their hands on the hilts of their broadswords!

But Jesus would not be kept from His divine destiny, and holds His peace that He might ransom you and me!

Pilate’s wife was even troubled in her dreams concerning Jesus, and sent word to her governor husband to have nothing to do with Jesus in judgment.  In a final blow to the

Wooden cross

Wooden cross

forces of darkness, as Jesus breathed His last, the earth itself revolted! The sky turns black, the ground shakes so violently that the dead are awakened and enter Jerusalem and “appear to many” – Matthew 27:52-53.

The entire universe felt the effects of Jesus’ death, but none so significantly as the powers of hell themselves…

…stay tuned.

Missions Are For Missionaries

How missions benefit missionaries

The general view of missionary work is that the missionary goes to a land to teach people the Gospel of Christ while helping them with essential needs.  So, people who have never been on a mission trip think it is a great and noble sacrifice for the sake of others.

Medical Missions.DAY 04 (44)

Samaritan’s PurseDAY 04 (53)

Missionary distribution of food and clothing.

VISION MISSIONS

Provision International

Missionary building projects for churches and private homes.

Amor Mission Trips to Mexico

However, it is a well known fact in the missions community that the “others” are not the only DAY 04 (98)ones helped.  When church groups come back DAY 04 (66)from a foreign culture, the look of joy and wonderment on their faces does not come from the blessings they bestowed on the natives.  It comes from the blessings the natives bestowed upon them.

They stole my heart!

I still remember a young lady giving a report to the church about a mission trip to Mexico.  She held the microphone for quite a few seconds, and after she regained her composure, she simply said, “Those children stole my heart.”

In the book, From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan and his wife Lisa go on a mission trip to the island of Granada.  Having come out of a hectic lifestyle in which he thought Christianity would be boring, he was amazed to witness the Gospel in action.

Grenada is a purging, cleansing experience.  Dustin and Lisa feel like the mission trip is doing more for them than they are doing for the people.  Every evening, members of their team gather on one of the street corners, play their guitars, and sing praises to the Lord.  Morgan’s heart warms him from the inside as he basks in the confidence that he is right where he needs to be. 

While they are singing, many locals gather around to listen or join in, clapping along in their rhythmical, island beat.  Suddenly, Pastor Terry steps out in the open air and starts to proclaim a message about the saving power of Jesus.  They are having a revival right here in the middle of the street!  A couple of local islanders raise their hand to get saved and walk up to the Pastor.  He lays his hands on their heads and they bow in prayer.  Dustin whispers in Lisa’s ear,

“I tell you what, I never would have seen anything like this in my old days.  I feel like we are experiencing something that has been going on for centuries.  I bet people felt the same Spirit when George Whitefield was preaching in the colonies, or even when Paul was on Mars Hill in Athens.  I had no idea being a Christian would be anything like this.

You can see how this would impact Dustin and Lisa’s faith.  They saw Jesus in action.  They witnessed the Holy Spirit move and change people’s lives.  They shared the joy with people from a different culture, making them all brothers and sisters in the Lord.

This experience greatly influenced Dustin and Lisa, but years later, when they had children, they did the same thing together as a family.  And guess what?  The little children stole their hearts away.

See Missions Are For Families

Mission Trips For The Family

Mission Trips: The best tool for building Faith

The most common statistic I hear in churches is the percentage of children, raised by Christian parents, who fall away from the Lord when they leave the house.  This is devastating for the next generation.  The leftist doctrines of immorality and rebellion against authority are spreading like wildfire, and the only force to stand against the tide areDAY 01 (37) good, solid Christians.  Therefore, it is paramount to raise good solid Christian children who will become the future fighters against this wave of evil.  Mission trips can be a very effective tool for this.

When a child goes astray, the phrase you hear over and over is, “We did all we could!”  That may be true but let me add one vital element to building the faith of a young adult, or a new believer of any age.

SHOW THEM A PERSONAL JESUS!!  Don’t talk about Him, talk to Him.  Pray together DAY 03 (56)as a family for Jesus to help with problems, and then celebrate with them when He does.

They need to see Jesus in action.  This is where mission trips come in.

FAMILY MISSION TRIPS are the most effective.  If the father can make arrangements to serve in a foreign country on the family vacation, it accomplishes many things.

  1. It causes the children to see their father as a leader and a spiritual authority.
  2. It shows the father leading by example to sacrifice time and worldly enjoyment for the Gospel of Jesus.DAY 03 (54)
  3. Family mission trips build unity that is directed to a good cause – helping people in need.
  4. They expose children to deep spiritual enjoyment that builds a bond as a family, and with Christ.

CHURCH MISSION TRIPS are also effective for the same goals, and have the advantage of more funding and better connections.  However, there are some cautions for parents.

  1. Peer influence can be good or bad, depending on the youth.
  2. Young romances and impressionable bonds can spring up that may not be a good thing.

Good things that come from Church Missions are:

  1. DAY 05 (56)Youth can get out of their bubble and see how other cultures live.  This usually builds a great sense of gratitude for what they have at home.
  2. They can experience work and sacrifice for no return, and feel good about it.DAY 03 (143)
  3. They can see faces of people light up as they hear the message of Jesus.  This may be the first time they really experience Jesus in action.  And this builds great faith.

So, for all of these blessings that are experienced by the missionaries, you can see how the people usually affected the most by missions are the missionaries.

Next Article:  MISSIONS FOR THE MISSIONARY

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