The Certainty of His Coming -Final newsletter of the year


   It happened like clockwork: right down to the last minute, the last detail. It may have taken the world by surprise, but it was all part of God's schedule; all part of God's perfect plan. Details of that plan had been popping up here and there throughout the ages—mysteriously hinted at in the strange utterances and unearthly messages of prophets and kings and men of God since the very beginnings of time. 

   From the earliest beginnings of mankind, the promise had been made that He was coming to 'crush" the Enemy, the Tempter. (Gen 3:15). Abraham (1900BC) would discover that the Promised One was to come from his family and be a "blessing to all the peoples of the earth" (Gen. 12:3). Jacob (1100 BC) would learn that He was coming with the "scepter of a King" and that his name would be called "Shiloh"—"the one who brings peace" (Gen 49:10). Even ancient Balaam, the troubled prophet (1500 BC), would be the one to speak of 'a star' that would shine on the day of his coming (Num 24:17). 

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Advent 2020 (part 2)


   “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.” (Is. 40:1 NKJV) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Mic. 5:2 NKJV)
   “During the first months of occupation, the hardest thing to get used to was the German uniform everywhere, German trucks and tanks in the street, German spoken in the shops. Soldiers frequently visited our store.”, writes Corrie Ten Boom. “Newspapers no longer carried news we could trust, only long glowing reports of the successes of the German army. So we depended on the radio. The curfew, at first, was no hardship for us since it was originally set at 10:00 p.m. What we did object to were the identity cards each citizen was issued. These small folders containing photographs and fingerprints had to be produced on demand.”
   It is hard for any American to imagine what it might be like to be ruled by a foreign government. After all, we live in the greatest nation in the world but when you read accounts like that of Corrie Ten Boom’s during the German occupation of Holland you begin to get a sense of the oppression and bleakness that the situation might bring. Just for a moment consider a foreign government with a strange culture, different language, and a feeling of superiority taking control of your daily life. You may begin to feel a bit hopeless.
   This is the world that Jesus’ first advent takes place in. The Jews were under the foot of the Roman Empire. Before the Romans were the Seleucids. Before the Seleucids were the Greeks, and before the Greeks the country was ruled by the Persians. The Jews had been under foreign rule for more than 600 years! It was in 63 B.C. that Pompey conquered Judea and Roman rule was implemented. When the Romans took control they introduced a new system of taxation. Each household must return to their hometown for a census every five years.
   It happened by divine providence that Mary, the wife of Joseph, was pregnant during the time of the census. Joseph packed up the things that he and Mary would need and set out on the 90 miles or more journey from Nazareth to his home town of Bethlehem. It is interesting that immediately this journey brings to the imagination a picture of Mary sitting on a donkey led by Joseph yet in the scriptures there is no mention of a donkey. That is not to say they did not use a donkey but who knows they could have borrowed a camel! The Gospels do not focus on the arduous journey, the route that was taken, or whether or not animals were used. The Gospel narrative puts the emphasis on God fulfilling a promise He made over 700 years earlier that in Bethlehem the Messiah, God incarnate, would be born!
   The Jewish people were waiting for the advent of the Messiah with great expectation. God had given so much information regarding the Anointed One through the mouth of the prophets. Messiah would be: born of the line of David (Isa 11), born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), that He would comfort His people (Isa 40), that He would establish the throne of David forever (Isa 9:7), Messiah would return their land (Gen 17:8), that the gentiles would be drawn to the light of Israel and with them, they will bring their wealth (Isa 60), and so many more hope-filled promises of Israel's Messiah.
  With the promises of a conquering King and glory for Israel God also gave less popular promises of a suffering servant Messiah. Of the need for Israel to be redeemed from their sin, as well as the need for a new and greater covenant where God would put His law in His rebellious people's hearts (Jer 31). These less popular promises were not just invitations for the oppressed but also for the oppressor.
  I know, I know, generally when people are suffering or oppressed it is not socially acceptable to tell them they also have a deep spiritual problem and are sinners who need to be set free. Oppressed people tend to disregard their own faults due to what they are suffering. When suffering people are confronted with sin it is often received as belittling or harsh. With all that said let me communicate a truth to you and that is that God does not care about being socially acceptable or politically correct! Rather He cares for the lost sinner waiting to be found. The Holy Spirit prophesied through Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David...To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins...To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:68–69, 77, 79 NKJV)
   We all desire a quick solution or remedy to our physical oppressions or oppressors. No one wants to be oppressed! We all want to be free! God knows that true freedom starts in the soul of every person! The wonderful hope that Jesus' first advent brings us is freedom from sin and freedom from the bondage of death. It is because of His first advent that I am invited into a kingdom with no end! I am no longer afraid of that which previously oppressed me. “... neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38–39 NKJV).

See you Sunday! God bless you! 

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Advent 2020


   Sunday, November 29th 2020 marked the first Sunday of Advent on the ecclesiastical calendar. The Advent season has always brought up warm memories of my family sitting down for Sunday dinner. After Thanksgiving the Christmas decorations would come out and with them the Advent wreath and its five candles would be placed at the center of our dinner table. As we sat down for Sunday dinner one of us three children would be selected to light the Advent candles. It was quite an honor to play with fire at the dinner table! Each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas would welcome a new candle to be lit with the fifth being lit on Christmas. My Father would proceed to share what each candle represented and proceed to read the corresponding scriptures.
   The first candle is called the Prophecy Candle and it represents hope. This candle recalls the prophecies given in the Old Testament that foretold God’s salvation through the coming Messiah. The second candle is the Bethlehem Candle. The Bethlehem Candle represents love and symbolizes Christ’s manger. The Shepherds Candle is the third candle and it represents joy and celebration for the news of Messiah’s birth! The fourth candle is the Angels Candle and represents peace. The Christ candle, white in color, is the fifth and final candle to be lit on Christmas. The Christ candle represents Jesus Christ the light of the world!
   I admit as a child I did not fully understand what the word advent meant or how important those scripture passages were that my Dad would read to us. Over the years, each year, I would catch something new. The depth and meaning of the season became more and more important to me. As this year’s Advent season begins I want to take the next few articles and dedicate them to remembering what God has done for us in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This year more than ever people are in short supply of hope, love, joy, and peace. I believe if we remember the reason for this season you will find and unending supply of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.
   The Prophecy Candle being lit on the first Sunday of advent represents hope. It is interesting to me to see how the definition of hope has changed over the years. Well, maybe not the definition of the verb but the object of the verb. In Webster’s 1913 dictionary the verb “hope” is almost synonymous with “trust”. Hope is defined as - To place confidence; to trust with confident expectation of good; — usually followed by the word "in". “I hope in thy word.” Psalm 119:81. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psa. 42:11). The modern Webster Dictionary just states, “Archaic: Trust. To want something to happen or be true.”
   If our hope is based on mankind it is no surprise that hope is in short supply today. After all just look at the turmoil we have experienced over the last nine months. Our hope must be in someone greater than us or our circumstances. Our hope must be founded upon God! The few prophecies below were given by prophets over 700 years prior to Jesus Christ. They prophesy that he would be born a virgin in Bethlehem. They reveal his family heritage and his purpose for coming. Consider these prophecies from the Old Testament:

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14 NKJV)

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He Will Rescue His Bride


 

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Pray and Don’t Give Up!

      Someone forgot to tell David Urey how to give up; how to stay in his place; how to take ‘no’ for an answer. So, he just kept at it; kept asking and because of that he saved a life and, for a brief span of time anyway, captured the hearts and the attention of Americans everywhere. 

David Urey’s story hit the headlines back when I was a kid; back in the sixties. He wasn’t anybody famous really, just a common ordinary working man who lived in West Virginia; kind of out in the sticks, as a matter of fact. Which was the reason for his problem because there were no adequate medical facilities out in his neck of the woods. 

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Back to Work!


      I love the story of Abraham Davenport, a godly man, a true patriot; one of the forefathers that we should all be imitating. It certainly doesn't look like we are. 

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"Counted Worthy"


 

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"Training Ground"


 

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The Miracle of 1864


     There have been a number of miraculous elections in this dear land of ours, down through the years. Come to think of it, maybe every election is a miracle; certainly, each peaceful transition is. What a gift of God! Let's pray it happens this time too, dear ones. 

     But by far, the most miraculous of them all have been the elections of Abraham Lincoln.
     First of all, he should never have been elected in the first place. He was a hick; a nobody; he was taking a bold stand on a very divisive issue—slavery. And—get this!—did you know that in Lincoln's first election of 1860, his name was not even on the ballots in the Southern States? (Sounds like something California would try).
     Even more astounding than that, however, was the re-election of Abraham Lincoln! In the late Spring of that election year, almost nobody believed it was going to happen. Just consider the factors :
1. Americans were sick and tired of the war.
2. The Civil War looked like a stalemate; the balance had not yet tipped in the North's favor.
3. General Grant lost 55,000 men during his invasion of Virginia and still failed to take Richmond.
4. The casualty lists were deeply disturbing; draft resistance was skyrocketing. Desertions from the Northern army were up 40% from previous years. 5. The Democrats had a very attractive, charismatic candidate—General George B. McClellan.
6. Sizable factions in both parties, and even one from among the Confederates were calling loudly for an end to the war and a return to the precession status quo.
7. The Democratic Party platform that year, with McClellan as its spokesman, called for an "immediate cease-fire", with the states restored to their original union. Oh, that sounded so good! No more sacrificing of our boys! Peace and unity once again! Who wouldn't vote for that?
     Except that the enslaved would still be enslaved; the Emancipation Proclamation would be nullified—McClellan was already vowing to do that—and America would still be stewing in its sin.
     Praise God! Lincoln adamantly opposed all mention of a cease-fire until the south surrendered and slavery was abolished forever.
     Think of it, dear ones! America was one election away from being a "slaving" nation forever; or at least until the next Civil War.
     General McClellan was a real piece of work. He could have ended the Civil War in 1862 after the Battle of Antietam, when he had Robert E. Lee's forces on the run. But he did not pursue. Even when Lincoln commanded him to do so, he did not pursue. He just...let...Lee...go; either because of cowardice, laziness, treachery, or loyalty to a fellow Virginian. I personally vote for all the above. General McClellan himself could have ended this war...and refused!
     Once fired, of course, McClellan proved his real colors by turning against his Commander in Chief and slandering him at every turn (sound familiar?). 
     Even after being fired by the President, McClellan enjoyed a popular following from among the troops. He certainly had the military vote! He was the Democrats' perfect candidate.
     Lincoln was convinced that he was going to lose. The polls were dismal. The mainstream press were all against him (why am I not surprised?) At the end of August, with the election still a few months away, Lincoln sent a memo to this cabinet, with the words: "It seems exceedingly likely that this administration will not be re-elected". The memo went on to direct his staff to get ready "to cooperate with the (new) President-elect" so as to "save the Union" and ensure a smooth transition.
     "Lincoln steeled himself for defeat," writes Fergus Bordewich, in his great article on the subject.1 This thing was over!
     "On election night, Nov 8, Lincoln planted himself in the telegraph room at the War Office as a chill rain pelted the capital's streets. He waited stoically as the returns slowly trickled in from around the country. Only in the early hours of the morning did the outcome begin to take shape: Lincoln had won a sweeping victory, carrying all but three states (New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky) and crushing McClellan by 212 electoral votes to 21. Most startling was the military vote: Overall, Lincoln had won 78% of the soldiers' ballots. They wanted the war over but were set on victory, as were most of the people of the North."
     To this day, no one has fully explained how this happened. A few military victories for the North that Fall, perhaps. But was that enough for such a swing? Something had turned the hearts of the American people! Or...should we not say "Someone"? For...
     "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, He gives it to whomever He chooses." Dan. 4: 25
     Let's all pray dear ones. And vote! The choice this election is simple: Communism or America. I see nothing else! Powerful forces are at work trying to end this nation as we've known it. I praise God that He is in control; but that's all the more reason to do your part!

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His 'Place'...Is Yours!



 

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If We Don't Give Up


 

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The 'Mission' Starts Here!




 

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Your "Last Person on Earth"


 

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The Real Lincoln Bible


 

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Can You 'Read'?


Some people can read the signs, others never will! 

 

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The Exception


 

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"By Doing Good"



 

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Lift One Another Up


     Last Sunday, right after the third service here at OT, I jumped in the car with a couple of our men and we raced up to catch the 1:00 service at Calvary Chapel Godspeak in Thousand Oaks. I somehow thought we'd get there on time, but it's at least a 90-minute drive and we arrived about ten minutes into the sermon. 

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Modeling Christ To Our Children!


And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:6–7 NKJV)

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Your Redeemer Lives!



      Far back into the record of my wife's ancestry is the story of a woman who was kidnapped by the Narraganset Indians. Her name was Mary Rowlandson, and she was Sharilyn's great-aunt eleven generations back; I don't even know what to call that except to string eleven 'greats' together.

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