While waiting for my flight in the airport one day, I was reading from a book and I noticed a gentleman sat down a couple of seats from me and within a few minutes he leaned over toward me and asked, “Pardon me sir, do you know the time?” Without giving it a second thought, I simply looked at my watch and said, “It is nearly time!”
Now, I know that wasn’t what the man wanted to know and I quickly grinned and gave him the correct time. He looked at me somewhat puzzled. I’m sure that the man had no idea what I was referring to. I was referring to the time our flight would begin to board.
But what if I had told the man that yes, it was nearing the time God would call us home. Now I would certainly be concerned if he had asked the question and given me the same answer. In this day and time, you never know what could happen. The man could have been a terrorist and was planning to bring destruction to the plane and everyone on board.
My point is very distinct. The psalmist says in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in Thy hand…” Oh how true that is! On the negative side, this certainly would be a disastrous situation if it was a terrorist. My time could nearly be up. On the positive side, the man could be looking for an opportunity to start a conversation leading up to sharing the gospel with me.
Honestly, time is critical. Acts 1:7 says, “. . .it is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” We never know when that time will happen. What we should know is whether we are prepared for that time when it comes. Are you ready to go, if God is calling you home? If you’re not ready, you can always ask me how you can be.
As we approach this Easter Sunday, I hear the question, “So why do we recognize Good Friday if Sunday is the day Jesus rose from the grave?” And that is a great question. Friday was the day Christ was crucified. It is important because that is the day Jesus took our sins to the cross and He paid the price to redeem us. He was crucified on a hill called Golgotha just outside of Jerusalem. Not only did He go to the cross, but He was nailed to the cross at His wrists and His ankles with large spikes. He was given a crown of thorns as a means of mocking His kingship by the Romans. Jesus was tortured by whips and humiliation and made to carry His own cross to the hill. Suffice it to say, His death was a cruel death. And to make matters worse, He had done nothing wrong other than tell people how they could have eternal life.
The ‘Good’ in Good Friday comes from old English when Good meant Holy. So you could call Good Friday, ‘Holy Friday’. Many people in different countries celebrate the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, and death on the Friday before Easter Sunday. This is an observance that involves people fasting and praying.
We celebrate on Friday that Jesus died for us and then on Easter Sunday we celebrate the risen Christ. But on Monday it’s back to normal. The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:21, “…Christ also suffered for you…” Easter gets tucked away in our minds and we don’t think about it again until the following year at this time.
An old prominent African-American preacher named S. M. Lockridge (1913 – 2000) known for his dynamic passionate and fervent sermons preached a sermon entitled “He’s My King!” A few years later the author and speaker Tony Campolo continued the message with his own sermon called, “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.” The narrative of Jesus crucifixion is one of betrayal. Denial. Cowardice. Envy. Hate. Brutality. Suffering. Despair. Defeat. Death.
Yet, Christians celebrate the cross because the story does not end on that fateful Friday. It does not end at the cross. The irony of the cross was the very instrument Jesus’ enemies used to defeat Him, but it became His greatest victory. Little did they know when Friday ended what would happen on Sunday to change the course of the world’s history. Regardless of today’s problems. Challenges. Or defeats. Just remember that Sunday’s coming! And that you will enjoy the privilege of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
I know it’s Friday. But thanks be to God that Sunday’s coming!
From the S. M. Lockridge sermon, “It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place. But it’s Friday. It is only Friday. Sunday is a comin’!”
I don’t think I’m alone when I often imagine what heaven actually looks like. I hear of people who have dreamed of heaven. I hear of people who have been on their death bed and have had visions of heaven. Some talk about the streets of gold, while others talk of seeing their parents or grandparents who have gone on to be with the Lord. The older I get, the more I think about heaven.
Here is my happiest feeling, I know I will be in heaven when I die. How do I know that? Jesus clearly tells me in His Word in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
We all would love to get a peek into heaven. Go ahead and admit it, you know you would like to see into heaven. When Stephen was being stoned to death, God allowed him to see into heaven and what he saw was Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is a simple confirmation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “. . . All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus has the power to allow Stephen to look into heaven. The Bible usually represents Jesus seated at the right hand of God after His work is finished on earth.
What a rush of strength Stephen must have had as it appeared Jesus rose to His feet as He saw His servant’s need and was preparing to come to his aid and welcome him into heaven.
That’s what I envision of Jesus too! He is standing there waiting to welcome me home. The wonderful part is this: He is standing there waiting for you also to welcome you home, if you know Him as Lord and Saviour. To God be the glory and praise!
Just what is the Christian life all about? I suppose the easiest way to explain it to a non-Christian is that it is a life of faith in Jesus Christ. To the non-Christian, the way to live the Christian life is by utilizing the choice God gave you when you were born and accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior by faith. And once you become a Christian you live your life knowing that Jesus has saved you from a life of eternal hell. So how does one know someone is a Christian? This is one of the hardest things to understand nowadays. How do you know someone is a Christian? Have you ever wondered what the visible manifestation of faith is? In other words, how can others see that someone is a Christian?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your life shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASV) Jesus is the Light of the World, and at salvation, we become children of Light. You see, with Jesus living in us, our character, attitude and words change. When we accepted Christ, He gave us the good work we are supposed to do. Our job is to follow Him and do the work He gave us to do. And how do we know what that work is?
The life of Christ is the life we are to follow. Jesus performed many good works during His life here on earth. Every good work that He did was because it was God’s will for Him. As a Christian, this should also be our goal as well. How do we know what that is? Simply put, He gave us a guide, the Bible, which lays out the path we are to follow. And if we follow that guide the Lord will be glorified through us.
Sometimes when I’m daydreaming or thinking and looking out my window oftentimes I see squirrels running along the top of my fence or running along a branch in a tree or just leaping from one branch to another. I could sit and watch them for quite a while if I let myself do it. But when I’m thinking about what my next blog will be or what the Lord is going to lay on my heart, I catch myself watching the squirrels play.
It seems that squirrels are always busy doing something whether it be looking for something to eat or finding nuts and looking for a place to store them in a tree or in my yard. Nevertheless, they rarely stay in one place for long, without a care in the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have nothing to care or worry about? Is the life of a squirrel something we really want to pattern our life after?
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?” (NASV) God loves His creatures enough to make sure that they are fed. Even though they do not sow, reap, or labor, they still must search out food in order to survive, but not to worry; our “heavenly Father feeds them.” Even though we are “of more value than they,” animals do have value to God.
God gave animals the instinct to survive in this world. God gave us knowledge and a mind to choose what we will do to live and survive in this world. Even though this world is a cruel world and occupied by cruel and wonderful people, He also gave us a mind, and with that mind we are to use it to make choices. With that choice, God showed Adam and Eve what to eat and what not to eat. Since the beginning of the world, we have been making choices. I chose to accept Christ as my Savior back in 1984. It was then that I realized after 37 years, that I had been living my life as though I knew what was right.
God showed me that I was NOT living a life worthy to Him. I was much like the squirrels. Oh I realized I had to support the family I had, but it was more about me and my family. I realized I was destined for a life in hell if I did not put my faith and trust in Christ and accept Him into my heart as Lord and Savior. You see, this is why God gave us a mind. We must make the choice!
How about you? Have you made the right choice for your life? Are you living your life without a care in the world? Jesus said it so simply in 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 eternal life.”(NASV) You see, only you and I have that ability to know where we will spend eternity. The squirrels weren’t given that choice, but God says we don’t have to worry about them because He will take care of them. God’s purpose, when he created us, is for us to have fellowship with Him. He made that opportunity as simple as putting our faith and trust in Him. If you’ve not made this choice today, won’t you do it now? All you have to do is recognize that you are destined for eternity in hell without Him and you need to ask Him into your heart right now and mean it.
I am going to take an opportunity to address an issue that troubles me today. I pray that you will read this with an open mind before you fly off the handle and start throwing bricks at me. My intent is not to ridicule but to inform and enlighten.
The issue I want to address is very simple. It is gun control! In view of the latest tragedy at the school in Parkland, FL, I must say that gun control would have had no affect on this tragedy. Now, hear me out first. This young man, of 19 years of age, did buy this gun legally. The gun did not walk into the school and start firing at anybody and everybody! That gun was carried into the school by a disturbed young man. I say disturbed, because that is the issue more than the gun. The gun was not sick, nor was it disturbed, nor was it a criminal, nor did it have a criminal record. None of these factors could have been controlled by gun control. If this were the case, then we need to have automobile control, knife control, airplane control, etc. All these things kill people, but we don’t see people jumping all over these items for control. Do you get my point?
You cannot control where a bullet lands! A bullet lands wherever the gun is pointed. Again, the gun does not point itself! Someone has to actually point a gun at a target and that same individual has to pull the trigger to eject a bullet from a gun. A gun does not have a mind and therefore cannot pre-meditate an act of violence. A car cannot aim and accelerate itself into a crowd to cause mass murder! An automobile does not have the mind to do that! Neither can poison jump out of a bottle or sack and into the mouth of an individual on its own.
Again my point is this, in order for murder to happen, someone has to have it in their mind to get a gun and kill someone. A person has to have it in his mind to get in an automobile and drive it into a crowd to kill someone. A person has to have it in his mind to take poison and put in a drink or food to kill a person. The key point in all this is “MIND!” So does that mean “mind control” is the answer? We already have mind control. Who told this young man to go kill those people at the school? His mind was controlled by someone! There are numerous mind control games, programs and drugs out there already controlling minds. In my opinion, what we do need is heart control!
A man’s heart dictates to his mind how he feels and what he feels. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so is he. . .(NASV)” That being said, if a person has it in his heart to kill, he will do it! So if he/she has evil intentions in his/her heart, he/she is going to act accordingly. Man’s heart was never intended for evil. If a man commits evil, it is because his heart is broken. Therefore man or woman needs to have their heart examined and healed. And the good news is God is in the heart mending business. God tells us in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” Plain and simple, we need God to be in control of our troubled minds.
So how does one have God control their heart? I’m glad you asked! Jesus said in John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.” And then He said in 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 eternal life.” You see, God loves you and wants you to have eternal life and so He offered you the gift of eternal life through His one and only son, Jesus, if you would just believe in Him and accept Him as your Savior. Would you accept Him?
When you want to write something appealing to your customer or just to your friends, it does make a difference. You want something eye catching to your customer and you want to draw them to your business site to make a purchase. Perhaps you just want to invite a friend to your website and get their opinion or offer them a product you sell. Either way, you want to make a good impression to them. So who do you contact to do your copywriting?
The Christian Writer’s Office is the place where you can find the writer to help you with your copy. Although the Christian Writer’s Office is indeed a Christian organization, we are not limited to writing for Christian organizations. We are more than happy to help you with your secular copywriting as well. A well qualified copywriter is ready to assist you with your copy needs. Why not visit the Pricing Packaging link in the menu and fill out the attached form and tell us what you need.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to address your business or personal need.
Bob Lankford, Owner
What do I do now with my free time since I retired from full-time ministry? Since I spend so much time on my computer reading, I found that I have the ability to write also. I have written numerous sermons but I like the idea of blogging, using short stories or devotional writings to express my experience in ministry.
I have found opportunities to fill pulpits in place of vacationing pastors or vacant pastoral positions. I get plenty of opportunities to teach and that keeps me studying the Bible, which keeps my brain growing spiritually.
I have had opportunities to write devotionals for a major Christian publisher which allows me the opportunity to earn some part-time income. This also is my first time to become a published author. That being said, I believe this has opened up a new channel of income to supplement my Social Security income.
Having created a Word Press website I have been able to post a few blogs of my own, it has been very rewarding spiritually. May you be blessed by my writings.
SYMBOLS IN GOD’S COVENANT
God sanctified marriage as a union between a man and a woman under a covenant by God. In Genesis 15:9-10, God used a blood covenant as a formal, solemn and binding agreement–a vow or pledge–between two parties made by “cutting” or dividing animals into two parts. After splitting them precisely in half, the animal halves were arranged opposite each other on the ground. leaving a pathway between the two halves. The two parties making the covenant would walk from either end of the path, meeting in the middle.
This ground in the middle of the two pieces of the animal were regarded as holy ground. On this ground, the two individuals would cut the palms of their right hands and then join these hands together as they mutually pledged a vow, promising all their rights, possessions, and benefits to the other. Then, the two would exchange their belt and outer coat, and in doing so, take some part of the other person’s name.
FAMILIES SEATED ON OPPOSITE SIDES
It is customary for family and friends to sit on opposite sides of the church or the setting, if outside. This is to symbolize the cutting of the blood covenant. The witnesses–the family, friends, and invited guests–are all participants in the wedding ceremony, or covenant, and many of them have made sacrifices to help prepare the couple for marriage and to support them in their holy union.
The significance of the center aisle is to represent the meeting ground, or the pathway between the animal pieces where the blood covenant is established. Sometimes a white runner is placed down the center aisle to symbolize the holy ground where two lives are joined together as one by God. (See Exodus 3;5 and Matthew 19:6)
In Biblical times, the parents of the bride and groom were ultimately responsible for discerning God’s will concerning the choice of a spouse for their children. The wedding tradition of seating the parents in a place of prominence is meant to recognize their responsibility for the couple’s union. Today the groom’s parents (including family and friends) are seated on the right side, facing the wedding platform or front where the vows are exchanged between the two parties. The bride’s parents (including family and friends) are seated on the left side opposite the groom’s family.
GROOM AND MINISTER ENTER FIRST
Ephesians 5:23-32 reveals that earthly marriages are a picture of the church’s union with Christ. God initiated the relationship through Christ, who called and came for His bride, the church. Christ is the Groom, who established the blood covenant first initiated by God. For this reason, the minister leads the groom and groomsmen into the auditorium from the right side of the auditorium or setting, if outside.
FATHER ESCORTS AND GIVES AWAY THE BRIDE
It was a Jewish tradition that the father’s duty was to present his daughter in marriage as a pure virgin bride. Today parents (father and mother) took responsibility for endorsing their daughter’s choice in a husband. With the father escorting his daughter down the aisle he is saying, “I have done my very best to present you, my daughter, as a pure bride. I approve of this man as your choice for a husband, and now I bring you to him.” So when the minister asks, “Who gives this woman to be wed to this man?,” the father responds, “Her mother and I.” This giving away of the bride, demonstrates the parent’s blessing on the union and the transfer of care and responsibility to the husband.
BRIDE’S WEDDING DRESS
The white wedding dress has a two-fold significance. It is a symbol of the wife’s purity in heart and life, and in reverence to God. It’s also a picture of the righteousness of Christ described in Revelation 19:7-8. Christ clothes His bride, the church, in His own righteousness as a garment of “fine linen, bright and clean.”
Today many brides choose a wedding dress of various colors to add a touch of personality to the old-school tradition and prove to be a serious standout in a sea of white.
The bridal veil shows the modesty and purity of the bride and her reverence for God. It reminds us of the temple veil which was torn in two when Christ died on the cross. The removing of the veil took away the separation between God and man, giving believers access into the very presence of God. Since Christian marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, we see another reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now has full access to one another (1 Corinthians 7:4)
JOINING RIGHT HANDS
As we saw in the blood covenant, the two individuals would join together the bleeding palms of their right hands. When their blood mixed, they would exchange a vow, forever promising all of their rights and resources to the other. In a Christian wedding, as the bride and groom face one another to say their vows, they join right hands and publicly commit everything they are, and everything they possess, in a covenant relationship. They leave their families, forsake all other, and become one with their spouse.
EXCHANGING OF THE RINGS
The wedding ring is an outward symbol of a couple’s inward bond, illustrating with an unending circle the eternal quality of love–it signifies so much more in light of the blood covenant. A ring was used as a seal of authority. When pressed into hot wax, the impression of the ring left an official seal on legal documents. Therefore, when the couple wears a wedding ring, they demonstrate their submission to God’s authority over their marriage. The couple recognizes that God brought them together and that He is intricately involved in every part of their covenant relationship.
PRONOUNCEMENT OF HUSBAND AND WIFE
The pronouncement officially declares that the bride and groom are now husband and wife. This moment establishes the exact beginning of their covenant. The two are now one in the eyes of God.
PRESENTATION OF THE COUPLE
When the minister introduces the couple to the wedding guests, he is drawing attention to their new identity and the name change brought about through the marriage. Similarly, in the blood covenant, the two parties would exchange some part of their names.
A ceremonial meal was often a part of the blood covenant. At a wedding reception, guests are invited to share with the couple in the blessings of the covenant.
CUTTING OF THE CAKE
The cutting of the cake is another picture of the cutting of the covenant. When the bride and groom take pieces of the cake and feed it to each other, once again, they are showing how they have given their all to one another, and will care for the other as one flesh. At a Christian wedding, the cutting and feeding of the cake can be done joyfully, but should also be done lovingly and reverently, in a way that honors the covenant relationship.
THROWING OF RICE
The tradition of throwing rice at weddings originated with the throwing of sed. It was meant to remind couples of one of the primary purposes in marriage–to create a family that will serve and honor the Lord. Therefore, guests symbolically throw rice as a gesture of blessing for the spiritual and physical fruitfulness of the marriage.
Most recently, rice has been substituted by sunflower seeds because as birds eat the rice, it tends to swell and causes them to bloat and eventually suffocate and die. Therefore, sunflower seeds are less harmful and more accepted.
I stood at the side of the hospital bed when a man who was a member of my church lay dying from a long-suffering illness. I was holding hands with his wife and daughter. We watched as he struggled at times to breathe. The doctor had placed him on morphine to help him deal with the pain. Once the pain become so unbearable, he increased the dosage. With the increase in dosage, he slipped into a comatose state and became almost completely motionless. We watched as each breath seemed to take longer to exhale and wondering if he would inhale again.
Not all patients die the same way, as I have stood at the side of many patients as they drew their last breath. I’ve held the patient’s hand and prayed with the siblings or children as life slipped out of this world and into the hands of the Father in heaven. Yes, it hurts to watch a person lying there as their life on earth comes to an end. When we hurt deep down inside our soul, we often cry. When Jesus came to Mary, the sister of Lazarus, she was weeping along with the Jews who were with her. In John 11:35 it says “Jesus wept.” So it’s ok to cry. Cry all you need to. Jesus cried because He was hurt and because He was Lazarus’ friend. It’s ok to hurt and it’s ok to cry.
We grieve several times when a loved one is dying. But most importantly we cry before and after a loved one dies. Grieving is the natural process of life. We never want to see a loved one suffer so we grieve. We never want to lose a loved one, but when they die, we grieve. We grieve because they’re gone from this life. We will never again see them in this life. However, Jesus said in John 14:2-3, “. . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Those are the most encouraging words a Christian wants to hear.
We’ve heard it said by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “. . . to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Although this is without some controversy, let me say that it is of my opinion, that when we die, our soul is disembodied from this body and exists in a separate state; not in a state of inactivity or sleep, for that would be undesirable, but of happiness and glory, enjoying the presence of God, and praising Him, believing and waiting for the resurrection body, when both will be united together and no longer absent. I don’t believe God would leave us in a state of in between. Hallelujah!