Showing posts from 2017

The Fig Tree

One sign often cited by Bible prophecy teachers that we are living in the last days is Israel becoming a nation again. This is interpreted through Jesus’ Parable of the Fig Tree in Matthew 24 (also mentioned in the gospels of Mark and Luke)…
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!  34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away
People have differences regarding how long a generation is in Scripture. Some have defined that as 40 years, 70 years, or 100 years. One fellow prophecy buff suggested it could last as long as the man’s lifespan during a particular time period.
Other Old Testament passages associated God’s people to fig trees…
“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man …

Pay Your Taxes

Every year by April 15th (unless that day lands on a weekend like this year), Americans are required by law to have tax returns filed for their previous year’s income. Occasionally I have met Christians who question the validity of paying taxes. One of them even promoted a website claiming that paying income taxes is unconstitutional.
Taxation has existed since Old Testament days. In Genesis 41:34, Joseph advised Pharaoh to impose a 20% tax on all food in preparation for a coming famine. God used the Egyptian government to save the lives of many people.
In Luke 3:13 when tax collectors came to John the Baptist to be baptized they were told, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Notice John didn’t tell people not to pay taxes.
In Matthew 22 the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus replied in verse 21, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to th…

Teacher of the Ear

There’s a popular bumper sticker that says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Most of us can recall having a favorite instructor while growing up. Mine was one I had as a high school sophomore in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Despite enjoying math during elementary school and junior high, I was never fond of geometry. Just before starting tenth grade, my parents and I met with a guidance counselor to discuss my schedule. Mom and Dad sided with my resistance to geometry but the counselor insisted I should take that subject.
During the first day of the 1979-1980 school year, I entered a second-floor classroom for my third period geometry class. After the bell rang, in walked 35-year-old Jace Lahlum. To my surprise, this teacher had an energetic personality unlike any I’d seen before. Halfway through that first class, I realized Mr. Lahlum looked and sounded like comedian Steve Martin. If he put on a white suit, dyed his hair and stuck an arrow through his head, Mr, Lahlum would closely rese…

It Can Wait

Although God desires everyone to have a long life (Psalm 91:16), we still reside in a fallen world where some people die because of another individual’s negligence. This past Wednesday, a tragedy occurred in Texas that should remind us all of the dangers of distracted driving. The 20-year-old driver of a pickup truck crashed into a church minibus near the town of Concan. 13 of the 14 passengers on the bus died from the accident. The pickup driver survived but is hospitalized.
A witness told the Associated Press he had followed the pickup driver for several miles as it moved erratically and repeatedly crossed the center line of a two-lane highway. Jody Kuchler made calls to the sheriffs of two counties urging them “to get him off the road before he hit somebody.” Kuchler ended up witnessing the collision. After checking on the bus occupants, he spoke with the pickup driver who told him, “I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was texting.”
Many of us have gotten in the habit of immediately chec…

The Sinner’s Prayer

I’ve been faithfully doing evangelism now for twenty-three years. During that time I’ve used a variety of gospel tracts but prefer ones that include a salvation prayer at the end. Sometimes the Lord will lead you to approach people who don’t have time to talk but are willing to read something later. One day I stopped at a convenience store in Virginia and gave a tract to a young Russian woman working behind the counter. When I happened to stop by there again the next day, this woman thanked me for the tract. I found out she prayed a prayer like the one pictured here and gotten saved!
Nevertheless, there are Christians opposed to leading people in a “sinner’s prayer.” One reason often cited is “it’s not in the Bible.” Yet we have other generally accepted traditions not specifically mentioned in Scripture. Sunday schools cannot be found in the Bible yet many churches have them. The same thing could be said about altar calls for salvation. 
“Sinner’s prayer” critics seem to think when some…

An Open Letter to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Dear Mr. Jeffries,
I was going to email this directly to you but your website allows that only from citizens within your district (I’m registered to vote in Virginia). That’s why this is an open letter.
I’m a traveling missionary who previously pursued a music career and still keeps an eye on what’s going on with the recording industry. Nowadays, I follow politics more closely. I believe it’s important for Americans to know what their leaders in Washington are doing. Every day I pray for politicians like yourself to make wise decisions that will benefit our nation.
Last week you commemorated the 20th anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death by displaying a picture of him on the House floor and claimed his life was “the classic embodiment of the American dream.” I can relate to you being a fan of the slain rapper since he came from your hometown of Brooklyn. For most of my life, I lived in Minnesota and grew to admire the success of Prince. Still I never cared for the explicit lyrics i…

Hating Sin, Loving Sinners

Some Christians detest the phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner” (or variations of it) claiming it’s unscriptural. While it may not appear verbatim in the Bible, many verses support that idea. One of the most obvious is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Another one is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There are a few Scriptures about God hating certain individuals. Psalm 5:5 says, “You hate all workers of iniquity.” Proverbs 6:19 mentions the Lord hating “a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” I believe it’s more accurate to say God hates the actions of unbelievers. 
Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Doe…

Heavenly Rewards

Occasionally people ask what movies I’ve seen. The last one I watched in a theater was “Rogue One” even though I’m not a big “Star Wars” fan (a friend invited me and offered to pay for my ticket). In recent years, I’ve probably attended two or three movies per year. With rare exceptions such as “The Passion of the Christ”, I will not watch Rated-R flicks. It’s bad enough many PG-13 movies nowadays have an increasing amount of profanity.
As a former employee of Billy Graham’s World Wide Pictures, I can appreciate good filmmaking. Sadly, most movies and Hollywood actors nowadays promote values inconsistent with Scripture. For that reason, I had no interest in watching last Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. Oscars are often given to movies I consider trash (reminds me of the like-named character on “Sesame Street”). Other earthly awards such as Olympic medals don’t mean a thing from an eternal perspective.
Of course, it’s nice to be recognized for artistic and athletic accomplishments. Rom…

Supernatural Speeding

Christians are living epistles according to 2 Corinthians 3:3. Non-Christians carefully observe the actions of professing believers to see if they are “walking the walk” as well as “talking the talk.” One thing that leaves a bad witness is when God’s people don’t obey traffic laws. Imagine what an unbeliever thinks when he sees a Christian speeding with a “What Would Jesus Do” bumper sticker on the back of his car.
I’ve met a few Christians who tried justifying their need to speed but still found themselves in trouble. One morning I rode with a pastor who was running behind schedule and drove well over the posted speed limit on our way to his church. Despite having a radar detector in his car, this pastor got pulled over. Since I was from out of state, the patrolman searched my luggage to make sure I wasn’t transporting drugs. Fortunately for the pastor, all he got was a warning ticket. In spite of this, we arrived at his church much later than had he obeyed the speed limit in the firs…

Me Is Exalted

People called to full-time ministry often face the temptation of making things happen by the arm of the flesh. I’ve heard stories about messes ministers created when trying to expand their ministries ahead of God’s timing. Jesus said in Luke 14:11,“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I’m willing to help a brother or sister advance in their calling if the Lord leads me to. Romans 12:10 talks about “giving preference to one another.” Still I find it annoying when preachers promote their ministries on my web pages without asking first. A few individuals had frequently done this on my Facebook Wall despite my asking them to stop. That prompted me to change my account settings so people could only write comments in response to my articles and praise reports.
Then one pastor started posting announcements (irrelevant to my writings) about various endeavors he was involved in. The first two times I simply removed his posts. After a third time…

Failure Isn’t Final

Originally I didn’t plan on watching last Sunday’s Super Bowl. I wasn’t fond of either team playing and had no interest in seeing Lady Gaga’s halftime show. But after practicing a sermon, I decided to walk over to a nearby church that previously hosted a Super Bowl party. The church itself was closed but some men living in the dormitories were preparing to watch the big game and I got to join them. The channel was changed during halftime to briefly watch the Harlem Globetrotters on ESPN2.
We ended up seeing a historic game. The New England Patriots came back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the first Super Bowl that went into overtime. The Patriots overcame two costly turnovers to win their fifth Vince Lombardi trophy. The game illustrated that failure isn’t final…or in the famous words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
The Bible has accounts of people who made major mistakes but God still used them to advance His kingdom. Moses killed an Egyptian in a…

The Anti-Christian Liberties Union

Certain activists have campaigned to have the Ten Commandments and other religious materials removed from government and public properties in America because of “separation of church and state.” Contrary to popular belief, that phrase does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. It originated in 1802 from an obscure letter then-president Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of Baptists in Connecticut. He assured them a state religion would not be enforced upon all citizens.
Nevertheless, numerous legal cases have come up to undermine the Christian values this country was founded upon. One organization responsible for this is the American Civil Liberties Union. While the ACLU has defended religious people in a few cases, many of them were groups expressing views contrary to biblical Christianity such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Westboro Baptist Church. 
If anything, the American Civil Liberties Union is known more for their anti-Christian stances. Their lobbying resulted in the Supreme Cour…