Finding Hope, When Everything Seems Hopeless

FINDING HOPE ON THE ELEVENTH HOUR

Pulling Peter from the Water 

 

Can you really find any hope when everything seems hopeless? Wittier remarked, “The steps of faith fall on the seemingly void, but find the rock beneath.”

The lake was in rage, lashing and clawing like a monster at one little boat. A dozen fellows rowed desperately to escape its fury. But the harbor was three miles away across the raging water. The sea dog could not control the boat. It was a moment of desperation and loneliness. They were in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps the easiest way out for them was to give into the last breath. They wished for a quicker death. Then suddenly they saw a figure appear, right in the middle of the sea. Like a ghost out of the golden gloom and spray, they thought they were delusional.

Photo by Tyler Nix on unsplash

It was out of the ordinary. There were no highways in the sea, no other boats within their vicinity. But someone was walking on the water, treading the waves under His feet like a snarling wild creature. He walked straight across to the boat; they trembled and cringed on each other for dear life. “Take courage!” He said. “It is I, don’t be afraid!” Then he climbed into the boat with them. They were amazed, “how can anyone walk on the water without drowning?” They thought amongst themselves. Before they came out of the frenzy, He commanded the winds to cease.

Like a well – trained pet to it’s owner, the winds obeyed immediately! It was non other than Jesus Christ. He appeared to his disciples at a time of hopelessness. Perfect timing to show the power of God. They witnessed one supernatural event after another. While still at the deep sea, before they could process what had just taken place, another miracle took place, they found themselves at the shore straight away.

Nothing is Impossible with God:

A glimpse into the past takes me on a journey with the disciples. It was a time when life knocked me to the ground. I became an emotional wreck and was scared of life itself. If anyone took a gun to my head, it would be a waste of bullet because l was dead on the inside. I remember longing for nights because people appeared as I’ve always known them. Imaging being so disconnected with the world that you only feel alive in your dreams? Denial had lead to anger and the urge for revenge, then depression and finally acceptance.

“Where do l go next?” I thought to myself. I had some tough choices to make. But before l did, l needed the counsel of some greater authority. I sought wisdom from above, It was at that time of emptiness – when l became one with Jesus Christ. In the same way He appeared to His disciples, He stretched His loving arms towards me and healed my broken pieces. He fully restored my life and gave me a reason to live on. Jesus is real, you don’t need anyone to intervene. Seek Him on your own, you do not need a degree in bible studies to know and understand His message.

Why I’m I saying this? From the book of Exodus, Moses evidently had a speech impediment. Exodus 3:10 says “Moses now said to Jehovah: “Pardon me, Jehovah, but l have never been a fluent speaker, neither in the past, nor since you have spoke to your servant, for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”. Moses looked for reasons why he wasn’t good enough to deliver God’s message.

In exodus 4:11, God answered Moses, “Who gave human beings their mouths, who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

God Is, Was and Always Will Be:

Today, Miracles are taking place the same way. Lives are being transformed in an instant. In the book of John 14:12, Jesus said, ” I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the father.” He’s declaring an amazing truth. You will perform miracles, even greater than He has done! The truth of Christ’s teaching is not only a comforting idea or pious meditation. Jesus taught these principles as a reality for anyone who would truly listen to his word and believe.

Nobody could have said it better than Bryan, “Some skeptics say, “oh, the miracles. One may drop a brown seed in the black soil and up comes a green shoot. You let it grow and by and by you pull up it’s root and find it red. You cut the root and it has a white heart. Can anyone tell how this comes by? How brown cast into black results in green, and then red and white? Yet you eat your radish without troubling your mind over miracles. Men are distressed by miracles in the dinning room – they reserve them for religion!”

Put God First:

“When we put God first, everything else falls into place. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for out affection, the demands on our time, the interest we pursue, and order of our priorities.”

When you’re difficult situation, remember the disciples of Jesus out in the storm. They witnessed multiple miracles right after they hit rock bottom. The same is true with life, the stars are always shinning but you don’t see them until night time. When at you’re lowest and all seems lost – that’s the moment you’re well seasoned to receive. Your brokenness makes you see beyond yourself and the world around you.

I don’t know the nature of your struggles, your storms may be fierce, but don’t give into defeat. Perhaps you wish for healing of an illness, for you or a loved one. Maybe it is the salvation of a husband, wife, child or grandchild. You could be asking for restoration of a relationship, or financial breakthrough, a new job – or a dream which has yet to pass. I want you to know that you belong to a God of miracles! His desire is to show Himself strong on your behalf. He is the creator of all that is and ever will be. He will not only calm the winds, He will carry you off shore! There is hope for you even when everything seems hopeless.

“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his helper is omnipotent.” Jeremy Taylor.

 

Original here

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I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.

In honor of the home-going of a godly man and combat veteran of the European campaign of WWII, W. L. “Red” Sims, I re-post the following.


Soldier’s Creed

Hearing a soldier in the United States Military recite his particular “Solder’s Creed,” whether it be with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, is something quite stirring.

Probably inspired by the military creeds of this world, an unknown author penned the following for soldiers in God’s Army, the Church: those bought with the blood of Christ, wearing the whole armor of God, and marching onward toward victory with the Sword of the Spirit in their hands.

The sooner we come to the realization that we are most certainly engaged in a spiritual war, the better. May we all be willing to stand unashamed…”and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

The Christian Soldier’s Creed

I am a soldier in the Army of my God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.

The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.

I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army, and I am enlisted for eternity.

I will either retire at the Rapture, or die in this Army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out.

I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.

If He needs me in the Sunday school to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults, or just sit and learn, I’ll be there.

He can use me because I am there!

I am a soldier.

I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.

I am a soldier.

No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.

I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.

I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.

I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.

I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.

I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.

I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.

I will win.

My God has, and will continue, to supply all my needs.

I am more than a conqueror.

I will always triumph.

I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.

People cannot disillusion me.

Weather cannot weary me.

Sickness cannot stop me.

Battles cannot beat me.

Money cannot buy me.

Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me.

I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me, for when my Commander calls me from this battlefield He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him.

I am a soldier in the Army and I’m marching, claiming victory.

I will not give up.

I will not turn around.

I am a solder marching, heaven bound.

(Author Unknown)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3

https://logosdot.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/i-am-a-soldier-this-is-my-creed-2/

I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.


There are only two defining forces who have ever offered to die for you. 

One is Jesus Christ and the other the American Soldier.  

One died for your sins and the other for your freedom!

source


Do we have proof Jesus was a real historical figure?

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 UPHOLDING THE FAITH

The New Testament has multiple eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ. In addition, there are additional accounts from sources who knew the eyewitnesses as well. However, especially concerning opponents of Christianity, some are reluctant to consider any biblical sources when the question of Jesus’ existence are raised. While the reliability of the Bible is covered at depth elsewhere in the site, here I’ll be focusing on non-biblical sources concerning Jesus.

I think the matter of Jesus’ existence has been well proven from biblical and non-biblical sources alike. Even National Geographic, in an article titled “What Archaeology is Telling Us About the Real Jesus” had this to say

Might it be possible that Jesus Christ never even existed, that the whole stained glass story is pure invention? It’s an assertion that’s championed by some outspoken skeptics—but not, I discovered, by scholars, particularly archaeologists, whose work tends to bring flights of fancy down to literal earth. “I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus,” said Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University. “The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.” I heard much the same from Byron McCane, an archaeologist and history professor at Florida Atlantic University. “I can think of no other example who fits into their time and place so well but people say doesn’t exist,” he said.

There are multiple, non-biblical sources to look at for corroboration with what’s found in the New Testament concerning Jesus. I believe these should be adequate examples of references which all point to a historically acknowledged, real person of Jesus Christ.

Tacitus

Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) was a Roman historian and senator. He provides a basis for who the Christians were and some further details.

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

Here, we see acknowledgment of Christians as followers of “Christus” and a direct mention of Pontius Pilatus (while under the reign of Tiberius). These details are consistent with the information found within the New Testament.

Pliny the Younger

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (61 – 113 AD), better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny provides a detailed reference of certain habits of early Christians.

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

We can see multiple things that are consistent with what’s found in the New Testament. A specific day set aside for worship, the acknowledgement of Christ as God, and worship to Hm alone. He also mentions how Christians try to follow and live according to Christ’s teachings.

Josephus

Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD) was a Romano-Jewish scholar, historian, and biographer of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. Josephus provides us with two references, the first being

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, ‘if indeed one ought to call him a man’. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. ‘He was the Messiah’. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. ‘He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him’. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

Concerning this passage, scholars have come to the conclusion that Christian scribes likely added some text (which I have put in single quotes). However, even if you pull those sections out, there is a clear reference to Jesus.

The other writing from Josephus says

Being therefore this kind of person [i.e., a heartless Sadducee], Ananus, thinking that he had a favorable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting [literally, “sanhedrin”] of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah … James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned.

Some have suggested this passage was also edited in a similar manner to the one above. This is less likely to be true in this case for a few reasons. First, James and Jesus were common names at the time. The addition of “brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah” is a way of specifying which James he was referring to. As he only needed to refer to the specific Jesus we’re seeking to verify, the one who is called Messiah, this supports well known knowledge of a real person. Josephus would have wanted this to be readable and understood by many. If the citing of simply Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah was enough, it’s logical to conclude the widespread knowledge of his existence in the New Testament was not simply an invented story. Additionally, the usage of “who is called Messiah” stands out. A Christian scribe of the time would have instead used “brother of the Lord” to refer to James. They wouldn’t have been shy about this langauge, as you can see from the first quote.

Lucian

Lucian of Samosata (125 – 180 AD) was a Syrian satirist and rhetorician. His reference provides additional details from the others above.

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day,–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. Well, the end of it was that Proteus was arrested and thrown into prison. This was the very thing to lend an air to his favourite arts of clap-trap and wonder-working; he was now a made man. The Christians took it all very seriously: he was no sooner in prison, than they began trying every means to get him out again,–but without success. Everything else that could be done for him they most devoutly did. They thought of nothing else. … and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

Here is another clear reference to Christ. While he doesn’t mention Jesus by name, he speaks of “Christians”, the crucifixion, and the devotion of the early church. All this again, mirrored in the New Testament.

In addition to these references, others exist as well. Multiple Jewish sources, who would not acknowledge Christ as Messiah, record events in Christ’s life as real historical fact. In Islam, Christ is also known to be a real historical figure, but again, not as Messiah. There is abundant evidence of Jesus Christ having walked the Earth. From biblical to non-biblical sources. The only difference is the acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord compared to the others which just see him as a very influential, but nevertheless, real historical person.

Sources

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D15%3Achapter%3D44

https://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources#_edn5

http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/Pliny/Pliny10-096-E.html

http://www.josephus.org/testimonium.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/wl4/wl420.htm

Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
Jewish Antiquities, XX.9.1 in Whiston’s translation (§200 in scholarly editions), as translated by Meier, Marginal Jew, vol. 1, p. 57. Meier’s original passage includes the phrases in square brackets [ ]. The omitted words indicated by the ellipsis (…) are in Greek, to let scholars know what words are translated into English.

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/did-jesus-exist/#note13r

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/12/jesus-tomb-archaeology/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Younger

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian

https://www.google.com/amp/s/respondblogs.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/respondblogs-was-jesus-a-real-person/amp

https://upholdingthefaith.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/do-we-have-proof-jesus-was-a-real-historical-figure/

Made in the Image of God

August 12, 2019/ David Baggett

A vital part of Fred Rogers’ compelling and irrepressibly optimistic vision of the world was his understanding of human beings as spiritual creatures—every last one of them. Young and old, saints and sages, bullies and bombasts, all of them are sacred, eternal creatures with a divine stamp on them. And owing to that stamp—the very image of God, the imago dei—each person is imbued with infinite value and worth.

            Fred was an ordained Christian minister, and Christianity has a lot to say about our imperfections and fallings short, which introduces the need for forgiveness. Fred even sang about it. First used on The Children’s Corner and later on the Neighborhood (until it had to be removed because of the explicit reference to God) was the song Goodnight, God. The words and music were by Josie Carey and Fred, and it went like this:

Goodnight, God, and thank you for this very lovely day.
Thank you, too, for helping us at work and at our play.
Thank you for our families. For each and every friend.
Forgive us, please, for anything we’ve done that might offend.

Keep us safe and faithful, God. Tell us what to do.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.

Fred wasn’t the sort of practical theologian to start with the bad news of our faults and failures and foibles. He was much more wont to start more positively, and this wasn’t just because of his own preferences; he had an important theological reason for doing so.

Readers may know that in a framed print on his office wall he prominently displayed his favorite quote “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” from the children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Its translation is that what’s essential is invisible to the eye. Fred liked to emphasize what’s essential, rather than what’s merely apparent, peripheral, or accidental.

Our sinful condition is not essential to us. Even if everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, sin is universal, but not essential. It’s not who we are; it doesn’t define us. If there’s hope that by God’s grace our sin can be forgiven and defeated, that shows that sin isn’t central to our identity. It can go away and we can remain. Essential features have no such property. Sin is rather what we might call merely contingent.

In contrast, though, if all of us as human beings, as Fred believed, have been made in God’s image, like the Bible teaches, then that is essential to who we are. In the biblical narrative, sin didn’t enter the picture until the third chapter of Genesis. Fred went farther back to the creation narrative and its rich theology. Our creation in God’s imago dei reveals something that not only all of us hold in common, but something absolutely central to our deepest identity.

Like the Oxford luminary Austin Farrer taught, Fred thought that learning to love our neighbor involves nothing less than learning to see God in our neighbor and our neighbor in God. Farrer was a close friend of C. S. Lewis and advanced a version of the moral argument. For a taste of Farrer’s argument, consider the way we normatively ought to think about other people. It is of great importance, Farrer argued, that we value them rightly, that we think about others in such a way as to regard them properly.

The only limitations that such deep regard for others should encounter are those that cannot be avoided. Such regard should be at once so pure and so entire that it leads to a sort of frustration that derives from the incompleteness of our definition of those we so regard. Thinking of our neighbors in too garden variety a way can’t sustain the esteem we intuitively think they deserve. The conclusion to which Farrer felt compelled is that what deserves our regard is not simply our neighbor, but God in our neighbor and our neighbor in God.

Such a vision deeply resonated with Fred’s own, because for Fred, too, recognition of the sacredness of our neighbors should have profound implications. They’re not mere collections of atoms and molecules; not just cogs in machines or means to ends, but eternal, sacred beings who possess infinite value, worth, and dignity. Created by and in the image of a God of all goodness and perfect love, they’re capable of loving and being loved.

Baylor’s C. Stephen Evans has written Natural Signs and Knowledge of God, where “natural signs” serve as pointers toward God—though nothing like absolute demonstrations. Natural signs, on his view, provide a measure of good evidence for belief in God. He refers to two moral natural signs, one of which is human dignity and worth, this very reality that captured Fred’s imagination.

Catholic novelist Graham Greene, in his The Power and the Glory, has written, “When you visualized a man or a woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity . . . that was a quality God’s image carried with it . . . when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.”

As God loves us without conditions, so we too should strive to love our neighbors. Fred would often say that love isn’t a state of perfect caring, but that it’s an active noun like ‘struggle’. “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, here and now.” He always kept these words from a social worker in his pocket: “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”

Fred would agree with C. S. Lewis that we’ve never met an ordinary person. And with Marilynne Robinson, who wrote in Gilead, “Any human face is a claim on you, because you can’t help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness of it. But this is truest of the face of an infant. I consider that to be one kind of vision, as mystical as any.”

 Editor’s note: David Baggett is currently writing a book about Fred Rogers tentatively entitled Why Mister Rogers Bowed.

https://www.moralapologetics.com/wordpress/2019/8/12/made-in-the-image-of-god

‘Owe Nothing to Anyone Except to Love One Another’

For faithful Christians who want to make sure the Lord is part of their important financial decisions, here are three worthy goals to keep in mind

VIDEO Answering the Tough Questions

Our Next Short Course

by: John Stonestreet & David Carlson

A few weeks ago, I came across a video that you might call “YouTube Gold.” That’s the phrase used these days for “an oldie-but-a-goodie” video. It was a classic Chuck Colson speech. He was speaking at a conference that was otherwise overly-academic.

But not Chuck. He spoke with passion and conviction. He pounded the pulpit. And, at the end, several hundred mostly academics erupted in a standing ovation. Seriously, you’ve got to see it.

Chuck made four points: four things that must characterize Christians today. I’m only going to give you the first two, not only because I want you to watch the whole thing, but also because his first two points are especially in need of repeating today.

First, Chuck said, Christians must develop a biblically-formed worldview. At other times and places, the broad cultural consensus may have lined up with Christian truth, but no more. Of course, that goes without saying today. Twenty years ago, when Chuck said this to his Grand Rapids audience, it was every bit as true, but not nearly as obvious.

Today, that you might be confronted in your Christian beliefs by someone with a deeply different perspective on life and the world is not a hypothetical scenario. At the neighborhood cookout, over the water cooler, across the Thanksgiving table, on  social media, it’s going to happen. Even worse, you might even be asked questions directly, in a setting where you hold the minority viewpoint. A viewpoint that’s not only considered to be wrong but considered to be dangerous.

Which brings up Chuck’s second point. Not only do we need to develop a biblically formed worldview, he said, but we need to know that worldview well enough to defend it. This is exactly what Peter meant when he said to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you.

It might be that your challenge comes about a particularly challenging issue in a particularly controversial environment. For example, an announcement that your local public library is hosting Drag Queen Story Hour for kids. Or your kid’s school wants to integrate restrooms by gender identity. Or your neighbor, who you know and love, but who always drops racist comments. Or your radical environmentalist relative who drops an opinion bomb over a family dinner.

Silence, pretending you didn’t hear, and exiting stage-left aren’t good options. So, how should you respond?

Answering these and other tough questions with clarity and conviction is the subject of our next Colson Center Short Course, which begins August 6.

Over the next four weeks, beginning tomorrow night, the Colson Center is hosting a short course on four of these confusing, challenging subject areas. It’s all online, taught by four incredible thinkers and communicators: Andrew Walker will help you navigate the issue of transgenderism; Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, will help us understand the science and politics of the climate change debate; Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, will walk us through the thorny issue of race in America and in the Church. And finally, Sandra Glahn of Dallas Theological Seminary will help us think through the implications of the #MeToo movement and the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.

Each Short Course session begins at 8 PM Eastern, and the live online interaction includes time for Q&A. If you have to miss a live session, no problem. Each session is recorded, and the link is sent out to all of our participants.

The question isn’t why should you sign up for this course. In light of the conversations we are all facing, the question is why shouldn’t we be better prepared. As Chuck said in that speech two decades ago, every Christian must know the Christian worldview well enough to defend it. When we don’t, we remain silent, and then bad ideas rule the day.

Faithfulness to Christ today means being prepared. This short course can help.

 

Listen here

http://www.breakpoint.org/2019/08/breakpoint-answering-the-tough-questions/

Loving God with a Pure Heart Keeps Us Spiritually Fit

Too many of us have an obsession with physical fitness at the expense of our all-important faith — but we can fix that today, right this minute