A Day of Remembrance

It’s a day to thank God for all the mothers we know on this Mother’s Day. Our moms are like great trees standing proudly amongst the forest. They bear fruit and give shade to protect us from evil elements. This is a day of remembrance for not just my own mother but to all the others who gave us a life worth living in an unknown existence we call earth.

Where would we be without the beautiful ladies who gave us life? Let me begin with all the pioneers and name worthies in history. What strength and endurance their mothers experienced as they stood on the dock waving goodbye to their child! Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Jacques Cartier, and other explorer’s mothers must have been devastated to think it would be the last time they saw their sons. Yet, others stand so proud in the light of their children’s accomplishments such as the Steve Jobs, Alexander Bell, and even the great entertainers and athletes of our times. Where would we be without those mothers who created a life that richly blesses our lives today?

One mother, in particular, stands out in my mind and is of biblical proportion. A very young girl, Mary, gave birth to a son who still tries to change the world by His ministry. Jesus, God’s immaculate conception, was like no other child and His mother, too, was like no other woman. The anguish, fear, and heartaches she withstood, and all in the name of love for God. To me, she is the “mom” of all mothers for without her, what would our life be? This is a perfect day to give thanks to the mother who gave us her beloved son.

I also reflect, this day, on the mothers of my childhood days in Severna Park, Maryland. In this small town, the women worked at church and gave the community a special meaning. Some helped in the educational field, turning kids into men and women of great knowledge. Those were the days when moms sat for hours helping with homework, starting showers, and tucking us in bed. It didn’t matter if we were their natural children, adopted, or just a good friend. There’s a lot to be said for the love of a mother, a sobering reminder we’d be lost without them. Happy Mother’s Day, Mother Mary in heaven, for we owe you everything as your precious son died for us so we may be a better servant. Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all and have a blessed day!

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A Place of Peace

Finally, a moment of peace! After another torrential storm, I adjusted the patio furniture to find comfort again. My mind was disheveled from life’s stresses, but nonetheless, the sun returned as promised. Land lovers watched the sailors set sail from a forbidden shore. The harbor bustled once again with joy, as finally, a quiet time for wayward voyagers to relax was on their horizon.

In the green, lush woods, God protected His wildlife which took refuge in the limbs of the trees and fallen trunks. Their domestic search was long and hard to find a place they called peace.

Where I wonder, is your place of peace?

Thinking back, my mother found her peace in gardening, and my dad was quick to hit the deck and launch his thoughts sailing the waters of Maryland. My beloved brother dropped the convertible top of his Austin Healey, filled the tank, and left for hours traveling to find his peace. I have close friends who wade out to their waist in streams and cast their spinners to find their catch of the day. Others find peace in hobbies or maybe an overstuffed recliner with their nose buried between pages. My wife and many others discover harmony with sand between their toes. Jesus found peace in His long walks through the desert sands.

Many Christians find a place of peace in our Father’s house. It might be in a pew or listening to the steeple bells as the choir sings a beautiful hymn. Tranquility and contentment exude God’s presence in a church. Bible verses also bring us peace such as in Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The place of peace in my personal life is with Christ. Just as another brother, He’s never far from reach be it on my porch, in my home, or even my heart. When I stroll along the shores holding my wife’s hand, I know He is taking her other. If we focus on God, peace is never far behind in our life.

The Lord created a wonderful world, both on land and at sea, but I believe heaven is in your heart and soul. The true route to peace is through Jesus Christ. So, unclutter your world and unclutter your mind by surrounding yourself in His love, mercy, and forgiveness. I promise you – there will be no greater reward! Find a quiet place today and pray for your place of peace.

www.danabicksauthor.com

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Order this beautiful Christian inspirational book at any bookseller!

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The Three Will Meet

As the sun glistened in the sky, so shall God’s love and mercy radiate below the heavens. The waters receded reflecting the beginning of life. The elegance of the ocean’s beauty permeated in every ripple and sparkled like diamonds. Marine life emerged, slowly inhabiting the pristine bodies of the sea. The earth turned green from the growth of new sprouts. Creatures with feathers perched atop cliffs and took their first flight in the morning breeze. Beasts of the earth moved along the ground frolicking and seeking food. God was pleased He created a perfect balance to the sea and land.

It is here the three will meet…

So, God decided it was time to create His own image and let him enjoy the fruits of His imagination. Man, the most sophisticated species, roamed the land and learned to hunt above and below the earth’s surface. But, our Creator realized man needed a complement, so he didn’t have to live alone. He made a correction to the plan and gave the man a submissive woman to love, adore, and honor. She was a goddess from heaven, where all human life evolved, and a rib created her. They cultivated the earth with the enjoyment of love, bringing gifts to God. What a masterfully crafted world designed by an architect far beyond our scope of knowledge!

It is here the three will meet…

Image courtesy of cobbledstones.wordpress.com

Then suddenly, out of the blue, cumulus clouds mounted, and storms roared destruction to His creation. Evil evolved, and lightning tried to conquer the earth. God was furious Satan, a fallen angel of all people, found pleasure in the flames of wickedness. So, Noah built an ark to help Him wash away the sin of the world, but to no avail. Evil came back with a vengeance. This time, God sent Moses with scripted laws in stone which gave guidelines for mankind to live by, but still, immorality existed. Now distraught, God insisted on filling the world with love, so He divinely created an offspring in His own image. This child would attempt to right the wrong in people.

There the three will meet…

Ultimate wealth now lies upon the edges of the origin of the earth. God vowed His son shall return and destroy all persisting evil. If you lay claim to worldly idols, be prepared… you won’t have them much longer. Death and destruction are in the forecast. God will eliminate sin with the same scorching flames evil derived from when Satan arrived on earth.

So, I shall run to meet Him, at His point of origin – the beginning of life. Like all sinners, I too will bear the heartaches of hell on the incoming tide. God will scold for poor choices, yet many will still choose the path of least resistance. Behold your breath, for the undertaking of God words, shall not be minced in heaven. I will stand with all of humanity, when the firestorm commences, praying our Father will save those who asked for forgiveness.

I beacon all believers to join me. Let us gather, in good faith, and bring love to the beach where Christ will come calling once again.

For there the three will meet – the Father, the Son, and… will you be joining me too in the celebration? ~~www.danabicksauthor.com~~

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The Vital Truth of Resurrection Day

Easter

Happy Resurrection Day! Of course, it is more popularly known as ‘Easter,’ but I believe the name ‘Resurrection Day’ is more fitting to the biblical record.

Sunday, April 21, is the date in 2019 that Christians recognize and recall the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead some two millennia ago.

However, also each year at this time skeptics rear their critical heads to attempt discrediting this event. Sadly, many of those same critics claim the mantle of teachers within Christianity.

One example of such was reported at a conference sponsored by the Episcopalian and Methodist denominations. One of the speakers, Robert J. Miller of Juniata College, lectured at the conference and said this,

“I don’t believe the dead body of Jesus got up and walked out of the tomb,” Miller, a Roman Catholic, similarly declared. …”We don’t find evidence that his [Jesus’] body left the tomb, that Jesus considered himself messiah or that his death would be a sort of human sacrifice to atone for sin.” Instead, Miller proposed that Jesus was to be understood as a sage.

The efforts of these critics to disparage Christian faith are morally deficient and wrong about the facts. Moreover, the goal of such people is to turn Christianity into a useful myth.

These critics also misunderstand, deliberately or otherwise, the vital nature and truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection Is Vital to the Existence of Christianity

EasterThe biblical record reveals the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the faith. There is nothing more vital to the very existence of Christianity than the actual resurrection of Jesus from real death on the cross.

The apostle Paul puts it plainly in 1 Corinthians 15.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  I Corinthians 15:17-20

There is no faith in a Christ who did not rise from the dead. If Jesus did not rise as He testified that He would, and as the biblical witness records, then Paul says you have a useless faith and no hope for escaping sin or its penalty.

Hope in Christ is based on His assurance of life eternal for those who follow Him, but it is an empty promise if He Himself did not rise from the grave. If that is the case, every person from the time of Jesus’ disciples until the present, dead or alive followed a false witness.

The fascinating thing about the critics of the resurrection, like Dr. Miller above, is that they inevitably try to deny what Jesus claimed and did, especially miraculously, while also claiming He was a great and good teacher or prophet. Miller himself claims that Jesus was really a “sage,” meaning a wise and good teacher and example.

These so-called “teachers” of the Word are trying to desperately hold onto the symbolism of Christ without any of the substance. That way, they can justify sinful actions and teaching by filling in their own version of ‘substance’ and claiming it aligns with the symbolic teachings of a wise sage.

EasterPlainly put, you can’t have it both ways skeptics. One of my favorite quotes from author C.S. Lewis of “Narnia” fame comes from another work about the reality of Christianity where he makes this very salient point.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thus the absolute necessity of a true, actual bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from death cannot be overstated. Unless that monumental, unprecedented event really happened, every Christian should abandon the faith and look elsewhere or nowhere for God in this life.

However, we are blessed that the resurrection did happen and Jesus is truly alive today as our Savior and LORD. The evidence for this is abundant and we begin with the words of Paul in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians.

The Resurrection Is the Historic Truth, and More

EasterThe historical case for the resurrection is extremely strong and easily refutes the nonsensical blatherings of ‘academic’ doubters. Paul himself begins chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians with multiple eyewitness testimony of the risen LORD Jesus.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 [ESV]

The key to the veracity of Paul’s writing is that Jesus appeared in person after He had died on the cross to hundreds of eyewitnesses who were alive at the time! Paul was also not the only evangelist preaching about the risen Christ at that time.

Peter [Cephas in the text] and the other apostles were preaching and teaching the resurrection as miraculous fact. The events at the cross on Friday before were well-known and Jesus’ enemies would have decimated this account if it were not true.

In the verses that follow Paul puts his and the other apostles’ character on the line. He basically says that if you find out this is a false account, then we are all false witnesses under Jewish law.

As a Pharisee, Paul would know that the penalty for committing false witness could go as high as death, [Deuteronomy 19:18-21]. In fact, all those who preached the resurrection as fact risked death from the religious and political authorities of the day.

This is the second point that gives evidence for the resurrection as a true event. The early martyrs for Christ all died believing the resurrection was real, and many of them actually saw Jesus alive after they had watched Him die on the cross!

EasterNo one risks death for something they don’t believe is true. Granted, people can and do risk life and limb for things they believe to be true but are in fact false, but that doesn’t answer the matter of the eyewitnesses.

The skeptics’ objection to this is that the witnesses saw an illusion that was really a ‘spiritual’ resurrection and not a bodily one. This means that hundreds of people all saw the identical mass illusion, which is basically an impossibility.

Furthermore, Jesus Himself rebukes this fantasy with His actions and words after He rose from the dead.

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:38-43 [ESV]

In other pieces, I have covered more evidence for the resurrection, such as the lack of a body in the tomb and refuted the so-called “swoon theory,” which claims Jesus didn’t really die but revived in the tomb and somehow moved the stone and escaped the notice of the Roman guards.

There are numerous excellent volumes which do a more thorough job of giving proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. A couple of these that I recommend are Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” and a small but powerful book with the title, “Faith Founded on Fact,” by John Warwick Montgomery.

If one is not particularly enamored of reading detailed books, I would recommend looking up two places I use on YouTube. One is known as Inspiring Philosophy and another is the ministry of apologist Ravi Zacharias. They have been a great aid to me in my continuing study.

The conclusion is this, followers of Jesus Christ can be sure that He has risen and overcome death and the grave, and we can all rejoice in that fact! Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Donut_Diva’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of cherry red ❤’s beardy’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of rogiro’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of The Church of Almighty God’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Angela Xu’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

Do not be afraid

When the women arrived at the tomb on the dawn of the Sabbath, they were greeted not by a cold, sealed tomb but by an angel with a lightning countenance, relaxing in the morning sunshine on the stone that had been rolled away!

And what were the words of this angel?

Do not be afraid!

Let’s travel back in time about 33 years before this Resurrection morning when an angel was sent from heaven to announce the birth of Jesus. What did that angel say?

Do not be afraid!

When God arrives on the scene of our lives, He comes to take away all fear. Jesus lived, died and resurrected to deal with your fear issues! If you are bound by fear, be set free today by the Savior Who could not be held by death!


May all the joys and blessings of this glorious season be yours.
Happy Easter

Jesus’ Ministry

It’s the Holy Week for Christians, and I reverently remember our Lord, Christ Jesus. In the quiet of my domain, I search the Bible for answers to my questions such as what was Jesus’ real ministry on earth? Did Jesus practice a religion or was He a rebel who rode off into the desert eluding Roman authorities?

Jesus spread the principles of entering God’s kingdom to all walks of life in Galilee, Capernaum, Judea, and Nazareth. He started at about the age of thirty at the River Jordan near Bethany-across-the-Jordan where He called His first five disciples. Though our Savior was Jewish, his ministry often taught parables and verses from the “sacred books” which we know today as the Old Testament. But, sometimes He referred to the Hebrew Bible, specifically the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the Torah, and the Book of Psalms.

As you may detect, Jesus disdained religious discord. He wanted people to love one another and love God. This was the basic concept of all His messages and the only way to heaven. Love and kindness is not a religion but an emotion, so He reached listeners through relationships rather than synagogues. When we integrate the theory of one religion into our life, God’s lessons often become overshadowed by hypocrisy, hatred, and division. Today’s religious persecution of humanity is such an example of this concept. Instead of loving one another and maintaining the state of our hearts, we fight to the end defending our religious rights. This was the exact reason Jesus’ ministry remained non-denominational – one church under Christ Jesus.

The parables Jesus taught became His primary method of speaking His Father’s words. He rarely used texts out of scriptures nor explained or commented on them. He considered this “preaching,” not teaching; instead, He left Himself open to interpretation and offered a story for listeners to ponder and ask, how can this get me into heaven? The Parable of the Mustard Seed was Jesus’ favorite.

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

LOVE

At the core of Jesus’ ministry were a few critical impressions which He consistently shared with everyone; foremost was love. Believers asked Him occasionally which commandment was the greatest, and His response stood with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength.” His second favorite was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the nucleus of everything right and perfect in the world. Jesus taught examples of love and compassion by healing the sick, restoring eyesight, and feeding the hungry. But, He emphasized loving our enemies for even though they are wicked, they also need love. “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness was the second most important concept to Jesus. He spoke we must repent of sins and ask God for forgiveness so God may forgive our wrongdoings. Jesus claimed we must forgive every time we are wronged. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

JUDGING OTHERS

Jesus also warned His listeners not to judge others since we are all sinners. Though born sinless, He still had mercy and compassion for mankind. He often told the story of an adulteress woman about to be stoned to death (found in John 8:1-30). Jesus told her accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” They all departed and Jesus told the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”

WEALTH AND POVERTY

Jesus did not speak it is a sin to be wealthy, only that we give our riches back to the Lord and others in need. He spoke of the affluent becoming too attached to material possessions for when we die, our “objects of happiness” will mean nothing. Christ used the example of a rich man who lived by all the other commandments, and he approached Him to find out how to have eternal life. Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man became very sad because he could not part with his riches. Jesus later told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Doesn’t say much for the Powerball today, does it?

Let us analyze your strength, as a Christian, in this situation. If Jesus were to come to you today and ask you to give up your home and all possessions to follow Him, WOULD YOU DO IT? If the answer is yes, you may find eternal salvation in heaven. If the answer is no, it is time to question your faith and love of money and objects. What means more to you – living as one with God, now and forevermore, or exploiting the riches which cease after you die and you stand in judgment by the Lord? Will it be God or your self-centeredness?

HYPOCRISY

Jesus learned of hypocrisy by observing the Pharisees. They prayed in the streets and always attended the temple, but the inside, their contemptible hearts were made of stone. He loathed hypocrisy in any form. Our sovereignty to God is a private matter and not to be exploited in crowds. You may ask why this is imperative? Because we are sinners, our actions often fall short of God’s requirements. If we expose our praise and inner thoughts of God to outsiders, yet our daily activities show different, we become deemed a hypocrite and severely judged. Many non-believers will not follow the church because of this very reason.

PRAYER

Jesus often taught the nature and power of prayer. He emphasized “The Lord’s Prayer” and said it was not for show but a private matter. “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Prayers are to be directed to God the Father only, not angels, saints, or Mary. Jesus considered chanting of prayers to be of pagan roots, now observed in Catholic and Orthodox churches. He asked we use prayers to develop a close, personal relationship with God.

Do we see the irony in Jesus’ instruction on praying? How many large churches, today, organize huge crusades and festivals to bring people closer to God? How often do we receive an invite on Facebook to join a Watch Party where someone is screaming out the name of the Lord and asking for forgiveness? The idea churches adopted prayer methods against Jesus’ teaching is quite a dose to swallow. They walk in total disregard of the foundation of God’s word!

Christ Jesus tested and prevailed in His ministry of love, right down to His last days. He was a sinless mortal man leading the way for humanity to follow in His footsteps. Yes, Jesus paid the ultimate price for His beliefs in love.

On this day, Good Friday, I plead my faith to Him, under the cross which He brutally hung on for me and all sinners. I also pray my Father will bless my ongoing ministry for all who come searching to fill a void in their heart with our Lord, Jesus Christ. And finally I pray, friends, you find God’s peace and love on this holy weekend. www.danabicksauthor.com

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Born Again

All men are equal creations in God’s eyes. We are a miraculous life up to our last breath of oxygen on earth. Born sinners, we are considered spiritually dead. Just as the morning sun rises over a cup of coffee though, we can renew our birth. God gives us another day, yet another chance, to announce the forgiveness of our sins and walk with Him.

A church’s grand ceremonial display, known as baptism, is the only way many find comfort in their spirituality. In my opinion, the rhetoric of the performance sets an example of what’s wrong with our society today. Hypocrites grandstand in church with applause as a new believer gives their life to the Lord. Far too prevalent are those who “talk the talk” but do not “walk the walk” as a born again Christian. The simple act of being submerged in holy water will never bestow you the rank of being born again. It isn’t how much of the Bible we memorize, but how many scriptures we can live by every day thereafter. It is being ever mindful of our sins and praying for God to teach us a better way.

Being baptized is not a date on a calendar. It’s a way of life to honor Christ as a religious follower. Even though Jesus was not a sinner, John the Baptist still baptized Him. You may ask why, then, did He enter the Jordan River? Jesus humbled himself in obedience to His Father to set an example for us of faith. Baptism publicly declares we are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is also a symbol of His burial and resurrection.

“Those who accepted his message were baptised….” Acts 2:41

DOES BAPTISM AUTOMATICALLY SAVE ME?

In today’s times, too many born again Christians believe baptism automatically saves them, but this is just the beginning of the journey. Do you realize the act of receiving the holy water places you under harsher scrutiny in the Lord’s eyes? Why? God sets higher expectations on believers because we now know the difference between right and wrong. As I mentioned above, hypocrites fill our churches. They walk out the doors and continue on with their comfortable lifestyle without giving God the time of day throughout the week. The commitment to living for Him stops at the steeple. We must stay in shape and be willing to serve His kingdom at every corner. Be alert in times of need and show others who we are – God’s anointed children. Set an example for this our job as a born again Christian!

The Bible teaches us prerequisites to follow before we can be a born again Christian. These specifications will also reveal why the christening of babies performed in some church denominations, is not a scripturally accepted act.

Though I’m sure someone will challenge me on this statement, we cannot deny the Bible verses which substantiate this blessing of holy water:

PREREQUISITES TO BAPTISM ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURES

  • We must hear and understand the Gospel. Can a baby perform this duty?

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 1 Corinthians 14:20

  • We must believe the Gospel. Infants do not understand the Gospel.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

  • We must fully repent of our sins. A baby knows nothing of sin. This is a decision to turn from sin and live for God.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

  • We must believe in our heart and confess Christ with our mouth. Infants cannot communicate faith. We must first speak an understandable statement, so a minister/pastor knows they are baptizing someone who has faith.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is LORD,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

A born again Christian is a renewed person in Christ. They are now a member of Jesus’s body and must walk as sinless as possible on earth. It requires full control of the mouth, mind, and body language. God is first in our life, over and above everything and everyone. I’ve been up for the challenge for many years, are you? The celebration of Jesus’ resurrection will be here in a couple of weeks. Won’t you commit your life to be one with Him? To be born again will be your eternal salvation and a promise for a brand new life!

www.danabicksauthor.com

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Religious Persecution

Religious persecution is a never-ending battle. Innocent Christians are crucified every day in the name of God for believing in a higher way of life. On our home turf, distance protects us; yet examples around the world appear in our own living room. If only everyone would come to terms with God’s peace! My heart remains in remorse over the wrong direction we are heading today. But, amongst these times of terror, the steadfast still walk with Jesus to praise and spread the Lord’s words of hope. Blessed be the faithful!

Some may not be aware my wife did missionary work in Guinea, West Africa for the International Mission Board. Her humanitarian efforts served the Susu tribes where they dug wells for fresh water. She also held a Vacation Bible School for pre-school children in the capital city of Conakry. Her living arrangement was in a compound enclosed with a fifteen-foot cement wall and broken bottles placed on top for safety. Two security guards stood guard twenty-four hours a day. Amidst the 110 degree weather, lack of fresh running water, recurring power outages, illness from vaccine shots, and contaminated foods, she and her group forged onward; it was necessary for the Islamists to know God loves everyone.

Missionary meeting a woman with AIDS in Susu tribes
My wife and aides meeting town people of Conakry
Teaching Susu tribes how to use their new wells

But, months of pre-planning and training was mandatory before she could enter Africa. The World Mission Boards warns missionaries to be careful who you speak to, not to look militants in the eye, and to dress in public as one of the crowd. They could not take for granted the deep commitment the Soussou had to their own religion. Not everyone finds peace in the spirit of Christian voodoo where God is the last word. Amid the incomprehension of entering a Third World country, she boarded an airplane with a round-trip ticket and the church’s prayer for her safe return. God bless our missionaries!

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

By God’s mercy, my wife was one of the lucky few to serve and leave Africa without incident. The internet is filled with stories of those murdered in the hands of the Peace Corps and other religious affiliations. It is obvious Christians still walk, today, in the suffering Christ paid for our sins. China and Pakistan, for example, recently suffered mass genocides and burnings of their churches. Bangladesh murders secular activists and Christians, more or less with impunity. Statistics reveal North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Iraq, and Syria persecute Christians more than any other faith group. Making matters worse, governments in the West and the UN do not offer emergency help to victims.

With the influx of Middle Eastern immigrants and other foreigners into the United States, the religious tide is shifting dramatically here too. Bibles, crosses, and our churches are burned; they ban even Christmas trees and greeting cards in some areas. I wonder what Jesus would think if He walked our world today?

In biblical days, Jesus also suffered much religious persecution. He toured a radius of forty miles around Nazareth preaching His Father’s word and often hid in different lands for His protection. Unlike my wife, who stayed behind a cement wall, His temporary home was in a cave or the middle of a desert. But as in today’s times, very few people believed He was the Messiah, only those who witnessed His miracles. What words or actions does one need to see to prove God really exists? It’s not about color or creed, but receiving the grand prize – eternal life in heaven!

To the families who lost loved ones in the oppression of trusting in God’s greatness, have faith knowing persecution and true Christianity are inseparable. Jesus died on the cross for our sins – even for those who denounced His existence. Missionaries and all other Christians must realize God warns His righteous saints they will be persecuted for believing in Him.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

Have solace for your loved ones, and others who served the Lord, and believe in His name because they will be forever in His presence. If I had to lose my life for someone, let it be for Jesus! It would not be in vain for mercy reigns over ignorance! For two thousand years, believers have fought the war of standing up for God. Many procrastinate changing their life’s sins for the anticipation of the return of Christ Jesus. With the love the Lord placed in my heart, I bleed for those who choose not to concede before they die. Fathers, mothers, sisters and sons, Christ sent you a personal invitation to live in heaven with Him. What are you waiting for? It’s in you! Open your eyes and listen to your soul. Let the books of the Gospel lead your spirit for they are not fiction but the genealogy of your life.

www.danabicksauthor.com

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The Halo of Life

The thought of newly transplanted foliage thriving in the winter’s cold air enticed me to pray for God’s help. I raised the living room shades, and our tree was gleaming in His morning rays. It began in February as lifeless vegetation, a root ball almost too heavy for my wife and I to plant in the ground. We gently slid it into a wheelbarrow and positioned this poor sapling in front of the window. With high hopes and lots of prayers, we asked God to bless our achievement and to nourish this impressive little ten-foot red Dogwood tree.

I’m sure most of my readers heard or read all the versions of “Legend of the Dogwood Tree.” Our Dogwood, though, became special when a supernatural event occurred within a week of planting it in the yard. Amongst the dead winter sod, and obvious to the naked eye, an indisputable halo of green grass sprouted around its base. I showed my wife and a neighbor, in disbelief, and we sat to praise God. In all my years of landscaping, I never witnessed something so mystical! Halos mean the Kingdom of light, and that which dons them has spiritual power and life. Was this tree put in my hands for a reason?

A halo of green grass…image by Bicks Books LLC.

Last night, a short month after its birth to our home, the cold rains blew; this morning we opened the blinds only to discover God’s magnificent gift. Our most prized possession, the red Dogwood tree, blossomed with brilliant crimson blooms and just in time for Easter. Our hard-earned efforts yielded God’s acknowledgment of thanks for giving life to this little dogwood tree, now a sanctuary standing ever tall.

Maybe this halo occurrence is quirky to some but we’ve planted many trees and bushes in our yard, and nothing appears abnormal about them. But the little red Dogwood brightens our day, blooming blood-stained petals in the shape of a cross, along with its own halo. The Lord, no doubt, is very much in control of His creations, and perhaps He anoints them with His messages… just like this tree.

Jesus donned a crown of thorns and was crucified on a wooden cross for our sins. Whether it was a dogwood He hung from (as legend claims), or another type of wood is of scant importance. Living in the consciousness of Christ is the most essential part of being a Christian. Be aware of God’s signs – they are all around you, even in nature. Let’s understand everything good originates from Him, and He wants us to protect the halo of life.

God bless you as we prepare for the Easter season.

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