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New Year's Resolution: Dedicating Ourselves to Christ

     I have been listening to Anne Rice's Christ the Lord:  Out of Egypt.  Anne Rice wrote a lot of books on vampires, witches, and the dark side of the world.  But then she was changed.  She writes
   "As many of you know, in 1998 I returned to the Catholic Church. After years of pondering and searching, the great gift of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as Our Savior, came back to me on a December afternoon, and I went home to the church of my childhood, becoming a member and supporter of it with my whole soul.
      In 2002, I experienced another transformation. While sitting in Church, talking to Lord, I realized that the greatest thing I could do to show my complete love for Him was to consecrate my work to Him --- to use any talent I had acquired as a writer, as a storyteller, as a novelist --- for Him and for Him alone"  (http://annerice.com/ChristTheLord-Profession.html)

Lord, in this new year, may we have that same dedication to to use our talents for Him and for Him alone.

Lord Willing - Deo Volente

   I have written before about the Lord willing.  I was just going through an e-mail that I wrote on 22 Nov 14 titled "Christmas and New Years Plans - Lord willing."  In it I had a plan to drive out on 20 Dec to see my daughter, her husband, and their four children.  But my wife had a detached retina and so on 17 Dec she had an operation.  We spent Christmas at home, not visiting our family.  We never know what the Lord has in store for us so we must always say - "If the Lord wills, . . . "

Thank you Lord for being Lord - sovereign.  Thank you for reigning in our lives.

No Boys or Girls

    After Jesus was born, King Herod went on a rampage and killed all the males two years and under in Bethlehem.  He did not want competition.  He killed his own son, Antipater. because Herod thought that Antipater was getting too close to the throne.  Five days after murdering his own son, Herod died.
    But China has a different problem and that is a lack of girls.  According to a NY Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/world/asia/many-couples-in-china-will-pass-on-a-new-chance-for-a-second-child.html?_r=1, "In 2012, there were about 40 million more men than women, including 18 million more boys than girls under the age of 15. By 2020, the government estimates that 30 million eligible bachelors will be unable to find a wife."

All children should be allowed to live.  Life is precious in God's sight.
   

Crosses on Churches

In our local newspaper (the Virginian Pilot), there was an article by Didi Tang on a church in Wenzhou, in the province of Zhejiang, China.  The church put up a cross on top of their worship center and within an hour it was torn down.  Provincial authorities have taken down more than 400 crosses and have even "razed some worship halls." 
     Apparently, the Chinese Communist party does not like competition.
     Interestingly, the Chinese Communist Party has about 85 million members out of a population of 1.3 billion people.  In other words the communist party makes up 6.5% of the population.   In 2006 Xiaowen Ye, head of the Communist Party's State Administration of Religious Affairs, who reported at a 2006 closed door meeting at Peking University in 2006 that the Protestants in China numbered 110 million. (http://www.billionbibles.org/china/how-many-christians-in-china.html).  So there are more Christians than members of the Chinese Communist Party.

Pray for the persecuted church.

Incarnation - What is it?

    Many groups of people have their own lingo.  For example, in the navy, there is a deck (floor), ladders (stairs), bulkheads (walls), scuttlebutt (drinking fountain or gossip), overhead (ceilings), starboard (right) and port (left).  Unless you understand the lingo, you will never understand a swabbie (sailor).
     Christianity has its own lingo, and one word is "incarnate" or "incarnation."  For example we sing and speak of the Incarnation of Christ.  What is incarnation?  "Carnation" comes from the Latin "caro" that means flesh.  Spanish has "carne" which means meat.  We talk about carnage - killing of lots of flesh, or carnivorous, meat eater.  So "in carnation" is God becoming " in flesh (or man)."  Christmas is all about Christ becoming a man.  Only a God-man could take away the sins of the world.

Praise God that God became man.

Winter Solstice

    Today is the Winter Solstice - the first day of Winter.  And Praise God that we have such an orderly God.  Our God is so orderly, we can predict the future with confidence.  We know the exact time when the summer solstice and when the next winter solstice will occur.  We can predict tides because we know when cycle of the moon.  And we can predict sunrise and sunset for anywhere on the earth years in advance.

Thank you Lord for being an orderly, constant, faithful God.

An "Exodus" Not Found in the Bible

   Ms. Charlotte Allen, the author of The Human Christ:  The Search for the Historical Jesus has critiqued the new movie Exodus in The Wall Street Journal.  Her basic premise is that this new movie has nothing to do with the Bible because the director, Mr. Scott, does not believe in the Bible.  He says the "biggest source of evil is of course religion."  This attitude turns the Exodus from the Biblical showdown between Pharaoh, who claimed he was god, and God, who claimed He was God.  Pharaoh and God wrestled and Pharaoh clearly lost (no surprise). 
      God repeatedly said "Let my people go!"  God claimed the Hebrews as His people.  When pharaoh obstinately refused to let the Israelites go, God sent plague after plague to change Pharaoh's heart. One of the more dramatic miracles was the Lord darkening the earth for three days, a huge blow to the sun god Ra.  Then God struck down the Egyptian first born and passed over the Israelites  who had put blood on the doorposts and lintel.  God then led His people out and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Read Sea.  
    But in the new movie Exodus "Let My people go" is never mentioned, and the word "Passover" is skipped.  Moses calls God "cruel" and "inhumane" and is portrayed as a "vengeful 11-year old brat."  All the miracles are natural phenomenon.   

My challenge to my readers is to read this real Exodus story in the Bible - in the book of Exodus (2nd book of the Bible).  It is a great story of redemption and salvation.  Then watch Cecil B. DeMile's The Ten Commandments. 

What are your goals?

    In the 15 December 14 issue of Sports Illustrated, they have an article on the Sportsman of the Year, Madison Bumgarner.  Madison Bumgarner is the San Francisco Giants pitcher who won the World Series.  His earned run average (an average of how many runs he gives up in nine innings) is 0.25.  The third best was Babe Ruth with .85.  Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson have 0.95 and 0.97 respectively.  He has the fewest hits per nine innings (3.5) and the fewest walks (0.53).  He won two games, one of which was a shutout, and then on two days (instead of the normal five) came back and pitched five inning of shutout relief.  Buried deep in the article is a statement about his goals. 
    At 16 he was asked to write down his goals.  As a player he his short term goal was to win a state championship, and his long term goal is to become a member of baseball's Hall of Fame.    And his short term personal goal was "to witness an activity of Jesus in my life, and my long term goal is for people when thy look at me to see something in me about Jesus."
    Challenge:  Are you living such a Christ-filled life that when others look at you that they see Jesus?

Franklin, Whitefield, Electricity, and New Birth

     George Whitefield, perhaps the leading minister of the Great Awakening (mid-1700s), preached with a powerfull voice.  Benjamin Franklin said that 30,000 people could hear him without a microphones and speakers.  While George Whitefield had Benjamin Franklin print up a lot of pamphlets and tracts about Christianity, Benjamin Franklin remained a deist, i.e., one who believed in a god who created the universe, but then let it run itself.
     George Whitefield then wrote "As you have made a pretty considerable progress in the mysteries of electricity, I would now humbly recommend to your diligent unprejudiced pursuit and study the mystery of new birth."
(The above is taken from "The Billy Graham of Colonial America" by Professor Thomas Kidd in the Friday, 05 Dec 2014 issue of the Wall Street Journal.)

My challenge to my readers:  Do you know about new birth?  Read John 3, and if you still have questions, write to me at info@oceanviewcrc.org.