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Monday, September 08, 2014

Your priorities say a lot about who you are . . .

What occupies our time tells a lot about us. So, let me start off by taking some of your's and boring you at the same time to make a point. 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), the average working mom and dad’s day is so harassed that with keeping up with the kids and the Joneses there is little time left for any down time of their own. And, of course, we all know what that means. That’s right. Our souls are left arid and dry.

Unlike David, however, while stranded in the Judean longing for God like a deer pants for a stream of fresh water [Psa. 42:1] about all we get time enough to long for is a good night’s sleep.

That goes for preachers, missionaries, and laity alike.

So, all of us need to take time out, not just to tank up on sleep or take a busy vacation, jumping from one hurried event to another, but time out to reflect, meditate, get our spiritual bearing lined up and get headed in the right direction.

Sadly, most Christians would rather skip church than to skip a little down time to catch up on sleep or a game of golf, or whatever their recreational fancy is.

Proof of that is reflected in statistics, too. However, I am not convinced that the slack in church attendance is as much a lack of priorities as it is sheer boredom, or simply not having their spiritual needs met once they get there. In any event, the average weekly church attendance is roughly 37% per cent in Evangelical circles. Then, I must admit as I mentioned above, one wonders how much Gospel these 37% per cent get with all the "user friendly" mania that seems to have possessed our churches. This is, of course, flies in the face of the latest surveys which show that people want to go to church, not to some barn with everything but the Ringling Brothers Circus going on inside with some slap happy clown cracking jokes in between the lines of his or her feel good sermon. 

Please, give me a break. 

The truth is, the old devil will steal at least half of the time you are there for the hour or hour and a half anyway. If you are like me, you’ll spend a good deal of that time trying to figure out the words to some newfangled chorus that has about as much theology in it as the list of ingredients on a soda cracker box; or why the pastor decided to travel from Dan to Beersheba and take you along on his journey to get his point across. No, I am not an old curmudgeon, but I must admit that there are times when I feel like saying, Okay enough already.

No wonder our altars are empty—there're none left except in the store room to create a more "user friendly" atmosphere.

Therefore—considering all of this, I have taken an inventory of my priorities, and suggest that if you have done so recently that you also do so.

Here are som
e of my findings:
1.     At my age, I refuse to attend a church that is not feeding me the unadulterated word of God. None of this politically correct stuff for me, that's for sure.
2.     Music must be not only uplifting but glorifying, and above all doctrinally sound.
3.     Social concerns are also important, especially for those in in the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)
4.     I refuse to give to a building program that architecturally looks more like a barn than a church. I want to go to church, not a barn dance.
5.     The demographics of the church's outreach and ministries must be for all ages, not the select few.
6.     Worship must be sacred, and the sanctuary treated as such. Donuts, coffee, popcorn, what have you is at best for the foyer, certainly never the sanctuary.
7.     Worship services must be kept decent and in order. A hallelujah hoedown may work for some, but not for me. Fleshly exuberance may be alright dancing before the Ark of Covenant, but once it enters the Holy of Holies, it's time to sober up. This does not rule out a move of the Spirit. Most certainly, the Upper Room and Peter's trance on the rooftop have their place, but God must initiate the action not some organ or drum roll that kicks it off.

Well, this is just some more of my ramblings; however, I must say, serious ramblings. To God be the glory!




Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Pentecostal Christian takes a second look at Mary

The Mother of Our Lord

I suppose one of the most distracting Catholic practices that continues to annoy the Protestant community is the adoration (which they see as excessive, and for all intents and purposes unwarranted) ascribed to Mary.

Doctrinal issues aside for a moment; however, let me see if I can help by suggesting that this prejudicial view of Marian devotions is, in my opinion, the same as judging Pentecostals by the practices of their snake handling cousins.

Next, may I also suggest that devotion is not necessarily adoration or worship; it may also result from fear as we seen present as a result of the Fatima aberration—also known as the aberration of Our Lady of the Rosary— when Mary supposedly appeared to three peasant Portuguese children and entrusted them with three secrets which reportedly involved Hell, Hell, World War I and World War II, and the attempted assassination by gunshot of Pope John Paul II (the details of which would be discursive at this point). However, providence would have it, the Lady of the Rosary (Mary) offered a way out which (not so surprising to the critics) included not just wholescale repentance, but a rigorously praying of the rosary, as well. Of course, we all know the results. Apparently, the faithful did not pray the rosary enough; because, God forbid that Our Lady of the Rosary could fail at such a crucial time as that. 

So, in my opinion—because of so far unproven practices such as this, we must set devotional practices aside when considering Marian theology. As someone remarked long ago, “What is, is not necessarily what ought to be.” However, after having made that comment, it should be noted that the Lady of the Rosary cult has a huge following, including the late Pope, now saint, John Paul II who credits her with saving his life.

On the same token, for instance, even a distorted and fearful worship of God although wrong does not necessarily negate the worship of God all together—any more than an excessive Mariolatry, rules out  a proper respect for the role of Mary, The Mother of Our Lord, in the Church.

The problem, however, for the Protestant community (although, not all non-Catholics or Orthodox like high Anglicans; and, yes, even Luther and Calvin) is rooted not in who she was, but who she is. For those that pray to her, she is very much alive—as a matter of fact, more alive than ever. Now, if to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, as Paul said, then we must believe that death for the saint is only a move; and in her case, a move upward.

Now, if these saints—modern or otherwise, are alive and present with the Lord, the reasoning goes, then why can we not also pray to them? Furthermore, they continue, the book of Hebrews tells us that we are surround by a great cloud of witnesses, those heroes and heroines of the Faith that have gone on before us—people like: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and Moses; and, yes, a prostitute named, Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, and the list goes on and on to include Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets. Oh, my, quite a cloud, I would say. None-the-less, it is needless to say, that any one of them was saintly than Mary, the Mother of God’s only begotten Son.

Furthermore, is she not the second Eve, if contrasted with Jesus, the new Adam who is God incarnate? If not, the reasoning continues, then who is the woman in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, that was clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, who was pregnant and gave birth to a son, if not Mary? Neglecting, of course, to see that even though the vision appears in Heaven, it is on earth that all the action takes place. None-the-less, they are able to get around this by saying that Mary, since she embodied the Son of God—which makes her the Theotokos, the mother of God, also gave birth through Christ in a spiritual sense to all of God’s children. So, if you are able to follow this line of reasoning, since the Church is the Body of Christ, she is also the Mother of the Church which is composed of all the saints living and dead.
Convoluted to say the least; however, this is in essence what is believed.

So, when Protestant theologians say that the lady mentioned in above reference is the Church, they, of course will hardily agree, but they are not willing to stop there.

How then, do make sense of all of this?

We don’t, unless we are willing to admit that it is extra-Biblical, as it were to the naked eye. It makes perfect sense, however, if one is willing to accept the testimony of sacred history. There we find as early as the latter half of the second century. Here is what Father Matthew R. Mauriello writing on the behalf of The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute[i], Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, has to say—
The first insight regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given by the Church Fathers was the vision of Mary as the New Eve. The earliest patristic texts regarding the Eve-Mary parallel begin in the latter half of the Second Century. St. Justin, the Martyr, (+165) in his work, Dialogue with Trypho, states that, "Christ became a man by a virgin to overcome the disobedience caused by the serpent ...in the same way it had originated."
The name Eve is taken from the Hebrew word, HAWAH, a verb which means "to live." "The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living."(Gen. 3:20) Eve, the first woman, was a virgin at the time that she was tempted by the serpent in the garden. Thus, Eve, a virgin, conceived disobedience and death, whereas, Mary, a virgin, conceived the Word in obedience and brought forth Life.
St. Ireneus, Bishop of Lyons, (+202) is considered the first theologian of the Virgin Mary. He took up St. Justin's Mary-Eve theme and further integrated it into his theology. Therein, Mary is treated as the New or Second Eve who is the beginning of the second Creation or re-creation of humanity through the Redemption.
He wrote, "The knot of Eve's disobedience was loosened by Mary's obedience. The bonds fastened by the virgin Eve through disbelief were untied by the virgin Mary through faith." (Adv. haereses, 3:22)
Jesus Christ is the New Adam, the Lord of the New Creation (I Cor. 15:45-49) and Mary the New Eve who undid what the first Eve had done. The first Eve disobeyed God and thereby brought sin and death into the world. The New Eve, Mary, obeyed and believed God's message which was given to her at the Annunciation (Lk .1:26-38), and brought salvation and life to the world in her son, Jesus, who crushes the head of the serpent. Mary, like us, shares in this victory.
Tertullian (+220), another Church Father, used the Eve-Mary parallel as a secondary argument in favor of the virginal conception of Jesus Christ and emphasizes the act of faith involved. Building on the insights of Justin, Ireneus and Tertullian, the theme of the Eve-Mary parallel was expanded upon after the Council of Nicaea in the year 325.
St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) writes, "It was through a man and woman that flesh was cast from paradise; it was through a virgin that flesh was linked to God." St. Jerome (+420) succinctly stated, "Death through Eve, Life through Mary." (Epist. 22, 2 I). St. Peter Chrysologus (+450) picked up on this theme in his writings, "Christ was born of a woman so that just as death came through a woman, so through Mary, life might return."
In our own century. Pope Pius XII is responsible for the principle papal contributions on this theme. In the Encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam. Dated Oct. 11, 1954, he wrote: "Mary, in the work of Redemption was by God's will, joined with Jesus Christ, the cause of salvation, in much the same way as Eve was joined with Adam, the cause of death."
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recall the Eve-Mary parallel in the document on the Church. Lumen Gentium, Chapter 8, the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They quote from the Church Fathers, Sts. Ireneus, Jerome, and Epiphanius: "What the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”(L.G. 56)
In the same document, the Eve-Mary parallel is treated in relation to the Church: "For believing and obeying, Mary brought forth on earth the Father's Son. This she did, knowing not man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the New Eve, who put absolute trust. not in the ancient serpent, but in the messenger of God.( L.G. 63) We, the faithful of the Church are called to follow Mary's example of trusting faith and fidelity to the Holy Will of God."
Further, we find that—
Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296 – 373) was the main defender of the deity of Christ against the 2nd century heretics. He wrote: “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O (Ark of the) Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which Divinity resides.” Homily of the Papyrus of Turin.
(Thus, I find it ironic that we can trust [and quote] Athanasius on matters as delicate as the Holy Trinity, but ignore him on matters pertaining to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord.)
Gregory the Wonderworker (c. 213 – c. 270) an early Christian teacher wrote: “Let us chant the melody which has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, “Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest; Thou, and the Ark of Thy sanctuary.” For the holy Virgin is in truth an Ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary.[ii]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the words from the earliest centuries, “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God . . . with men.”  (CCC 2676).

In summary, the strongest argument for the Old Testament type that prefigured Mary is The Ark of Covenant over which the Spirit hovered. Contained inside the Ark was the golden jar of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the table of Commandments—foreshadowing, some feel Christ as the Bread of Life, The  Eternal High Priest, and The body of Jesus Christ—the Word of God in the flesh. Thus, in the true sense Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant—which is illustrated in the charts below:
Mary as the Ark Revealed by the Items inside the Ark
Inside Ark of the Old Covenant
Inside Mary, Ark of the New Covenant
The stone tablets of the Law—the word of God inscribed on stone
The body of Jesus Christ—the word of God in the flesh.
The urn filled with manna from the wilderness—the miraculous bread come down from heaven.
The womb containing Jesus, the bread of life come down from heaven (Jn 6:41)
The rod of Aaron which budded to prove and defend the true High Priest
The actual and eternal High Priest


Mary the Ark as Revealed in Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth
Golden Box: Ark of the Old Covenant
Mary: Ark of the New Covenant
Traveled to House of Obed-Edom in the hill country of Judea (2 Sam 6:1-11)
Traveled to house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country of Judea (Lk 1:39)
Dressed as a priest, David danced and leapt in front of the Ark (2 Sam 6:14)
John the Baptist of priestly lineage leapt in his mother’s womb at the approach of Mary (Lk 1:41)
David asks “Who am I that the Ark of my Lord should come to me?” (2 Sam 6:9)
Elizabeth asks “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43)
David was shouting in the presence of the Ark (2 Sam 6:15)
Elizabeth “cried out” in the presence of the Mary (Lk 1:42)
The Ark remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months (2 Sam 6:11)
Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (Lk 1:56)
The house of Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the Ark (2 Sam 6:11)
The word “blessed” used three times and surely the house was blessed by God (Lk 1:39-45)
The Ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the Temple (2 Sam 6:12; 1 Ki 8:9-11)
Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem where she presents God enfleshed in the Temple (Lk 1:56; 2:21-22)


The Virgin Mary, too, is easily thought of symbolically as the New Ark of Covenant also overshadowed by the Holy Spirit who miraculously infused God into her womb, after which she gave birth to Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father,  who became the Chief Architect of the New Covenant, Jesus, the Christ, and so-forth.


There are many quotations, comparisons and charts that I could provide because the early Christians taught the same thing that the Catholic Church teaches today about Mary, especially about her being the Ark of the New Covenant.[iii].


For sure, Scripture is full of types; however, we as Protestants without a clear exegetical insight must not accede to our imagination in this regard—unless, we are willing to concede to sacred tradition and take the Catholic Church’s word regarding on this matter. Be that as it may, however, I do not see how we can take the Scriptures serious if we are not willing to concede that Mary was prefigured in the Old Testament by the Ark of the Covenant.


The remaining task, for me—at least, is figure out just what the role of Mary is in contemporary Christianity. That task, I am sure, will begin with a clear understanding of what we are to believe when we recite the Apostles creed and repeat the words—
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
And, further, how all of this is to be acted out as Christians.

Jim/--






[i] The International Marian Research Institute (IMRI) was founded in 1975 in affiliation with Marianum, a pontifical institute in Rome, allowing students to study in America instead of having to travel to Rome to complete their studies. IMRI's programs include a doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) and licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.); students can also earn credits towards a master's degree through the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Dayton.
[ii]Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., & Coxe, A. C. (1997). The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI : Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Fathers of the Third Century: Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius The Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius and Minor Writers, Methodius, Arnobius. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You can't get there from here . . .

Now, consider this—

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”— Lewis Carroll

***

Have you discovered, as I have, that some people are really good at talking, but actually poor communicators? I can’t count the number of time that I have felt like shouting like a New Yorker, 
“All right, enough already!”
Case in point. Recently, I asked someone for the address of a place that I wished to visit so I could goggle it for directions. The replay was, 
“Oh, don’t do that. It simple. Let me tell you how to get there.” 
Well, 30 minutes later (at least it seemed so) and after wearing out an out of date road map, I finally interrupted with, 
“So, what you are saying is that we can’t get there from here. Right? So, why don’t you just give me the address and let’s see if old Cirri can help me.”
Cirri was in that case a godsend, except for the distracting Australian accent.

Being the amateur theologian that I am, I immediately thought of my prayer life and begin to wonder how many time I get all sidetracked and convoluted in my prayers that God must think, 
“Alright, Jim, enough, already!” 
No, not really, but I can’t say that it didn't cross my mind.

In any event, Jesus must have had something like this in mind when he said—
"When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Then he continued with—“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:7-8, 9-14)
Brief, succinct, and to the point. So, in my opinion, there’s no room for whining here, or complaining. If you are hurting, all you need to do is to ask God to heal you or help you endure the hurt, whatever His will might be. He knows what’s best for you, anyway.

Better to enjoy a dry morsel of bread, as Scripture say, with contentment, than to be miserably wealthy. Unfortunately, however, many never discover that truth, and like Robin Williams, I am sure they would give anything to have it.

So, let us pray, not with a lot of fanfare but with the integrity of simplicity for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give good things to his children, and to keep in mind that we are not beggars, we are children. (Luke 12:32)

Just remember, you are not alone because we're on this journey together,



 P.S. Please continue pray those Christians suffering in Iraq and northern Pakistan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Embracing the inevitable, and being the better for it . . .

When I was a boy, growing up in south Texas, one of my favorite pastimes was going to church—I know, I was weird in that regards; however, being in church didn't necessarily mean that I wasn't up to mischief. 

Part of the fun—mischief, if you please, was to substitute words or phrases into the songs we were singing. Of course, all of this was done with a straight face and a holy demeanor—like for instance, when we would sing “This Is My Father's World” an old hymn written by Maltbie D. Babcock way back in the early 1900's. The first stanza of that old familiar hymn is:
 This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

Beautiful words, aren't they? Well, when we got down to “This is my Father’s world: of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—His hand the wonders wrought” we kids would substitute words like: “Of snails, and nails and puppy dog tails” and keep right on singing not missing a beat.

Really, it was amazing the number of words we could come up with. Words like: of smells and whales and bumble bees—the list was inexhaustible.

Well, kids will be kids, but on second thought, we weren't all that wrong. He is the God of all; it is our Father’s world. That we must keep in minds when we lose patience with the slow paced snails in our lives—like the car in front that seems to be meandering all over the road blocking your every chance to get past it to hurry on to your next appointment; or that nail that punctures your car’s tire at just the wrong time; or that annoying barking dog of the neighbor’s next door, or whatever.

Now, I know—like so many of you, I do not always practice what I preach; but I preach it none-the-less in hopes that it will change me for the better, eventually. And, to be honest with you, friend, that is what our walk with Christ is all about—change; and change for the better.

So, in the midst of life's little annoyances let us keep in focus that, Yes, this is our Father’s world, and He is there to help us in every imaginable way. For Scripture teaches us that
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Now, before you scratch you puzzled head, trying to figure out how that verse fits into the theme of this little narrative, just insert the word ‘change’ to replace the words ‘to come to repentance’ and you will clearly see the application. So, let’s read it again, as edited—
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to change. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Change is what repentance is all about, anyway. And, our Heavenly Father has done everything possible to make our change for the better possible. For starters, let’s think of Jesus, His life, death and resurrection—that’s enough, but there’s more. More joy, satisfaction, peace, hope, happiness—you name it, let’s more.

So, in face of all of life's distractions, annoyances, what have you, the real purpose in our daily walk with Christ is not to just get past them so we can go about our business uninterrupted, but rather to take the opportunity to changeto grow in patience, in trust, and to develop a real sense of hope for a better tomorrow. It will come. That is His promise.

Yes, this is our Father’s world—so, let us embrace it and we shall be the better for it.

Just remember—you are not alone on this journey,



JimR/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Without holiness no man shall see God


 
Now, consider this—
"You cannot study the Bible diligently and earnestly without being struck by an obvious fact—the whole matter of personal holiness is highly important to God!" — A. W. Tozer


  


***


Two verses that any mature evangelical Christian must seriously consider—including we Pentecostals, are found in the epistles of Paul. The first is 1 Timothy 3:15—
“[If] I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

And the second one is Ephesians 3:10, where Paul declared that it was God’s intent—
 “[That] through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”

Interestingly enough, nowhere does Paul declare that the Scriptures provide that certainty. Now, bear with me before you get all riled up and get ready to anathematize me, because I am not through yet.

The Church is the foundation on which truth rests, and the framework, including the pillars that give that truth structure. Truth, as much as we would like to believe to the contrary, does not stand alone. Each nugget of truth stands in relationship to all truth, or it is not truth at all. This is just one way of saying that truth (with the exception of God, or course) is contingent—such truth depends on something greater than itself not just to function, but to make sense.

The Church is no different, either. The Church does not stand alone. For sure the Apostles and Prophets with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone form the foundation (Ephesians 2:20).  We, the fellowship—the ecclesia, the building blocks must rest solidly on this solid foundation, or we will crumble. 

Paul also reminds us that we—the Church, are also a body. He therefore writes—
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV)

That is to say that without Christ there is no Church, and without the Church that mystical body disintegrates into a corpse.

Trumpet the inerrancy of Scripture all you want, but I am here to tell you that unless we as the Church do not embody the very likeness of Christ in holiness—not just a passive holiness, but one that is actively righteous, then we can never be “the manifold wisdom of God that is now made known.”

Scripture contains truth, that’s for sure, but it remains a dead letter unless it comes to life through the Church. You and I have that responsibility—that is, to be “living letters seen and read by all men.” (2 Corinthians 3:2)

For sure, we are not saved by works, but we are rewarded according to the good works we perform. Everything else is wood, hay and stubble which will be purged. Check it out, it’s in the Bible—
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV)

 Now, if you disagree, please explain Paul’s comment that—
“For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Therefore, let us continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) for—
 We must persevere to the end if we would gain eternal life (Romans 2:7)

Sober words, but none-the-less, Biblical in every sense of the word, “for without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

And, oh, by-the-way, what is holiness? Obedience is holiness, pure and simple, that's the answer in a nutshell. Nothing less, nothing more.

Just remember, we are not alone on this journey,


Jim R/