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Friday, July 25, 2014

Roman Catholicism by a former Catholic

This evangelical ministry by Dr Joseph Mizzi is dedicated to Roman Catholics who desire to know how to be saved. It is our sincere desire to proclaim to you the Good News of Jesus Christ, because the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

Life has its ups and downs, its turnarounds . . .

Malachi 3:6 declares, “I am the Lord, I change not.” So with the poet we prayerfully say,

Change and decay in all around I see—
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
— Henry F. Lyte

Life has its ups and downs, its turnarounds—that's for sure! Jesus was a great optimist. Even with the whole world crumbling around him, His faith in the future never wavered. Think of it, with the cross casting a shadow of doom and doubt over his disciples he had the courage and foresight to turn to the dying thief and promise him paradise, and to entrust His own mother to John the Beloved for safekeeping. Yes, He knew there would be a tomorrow, and He was confident that His Father and ours would see Him through this terrible ordeal, and that He would rise yet on another day to live forevermore.

Life here on earth can be tough, but we needn't worry—it's passing. It's like a vapor, James says. And, for those in the know, there's a better day coming.

No, that's not morbid thinking, that's reality. Our only permanency now and in our tomorrows is God and the sooner we learn that the better. We may never know what a day will bring but we know who is in charge. It was with this confidence that Moses said to the children of Israel,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 3:16)

Friends, I must tell you that the longer I live the more see change and decay, the rise and fall of great men and women, the total futility of placing faith and hope in the transiency of anything this old world has to offer. So, you are fortunate enough to own the Clippers basketball franchise and cavort with whores then fain mental illness and sell the club for a cool 2 billion dollars, what good will that do in the long run?

I am reminded once again of the words in the first stanza of that great poem by C.T. Studd, the famous cricketer and missionary, which reads,

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Friends, we must focus on that. Let’s not be lured into complacency comforts of life or discouraged with the hardships.

As always, I am with you on the journey,





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Discouraged? Read this . . .

Back in 1973 E F Schumacher wrote a best seller called Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered which I read with great interest. Schumacher was a minimalist, that’s for sure. More than that, however, he was also right. Small is not only beautiful but it is Biblical as well. Take for instance when Jesus declared—


 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom.” 
  (Matt.5:3)

In other words, pride won't cut it in the Kingdom. Pump your ego up with all the positive self-help pep that you wish and you are still at square one as far as God is concerned.

The Beatitudes intended to deflate our puffed up ego, don’t they? In other words, Jesus was saying in the verse quoted above, ‘You think you are a hot shot? Well, you’re not. Get rid of all that hot air, and only then will you be ready for the kingdom.”


In other words, ‘You want to be great? Then, become small for small is beautiful.’

In case one objects, just consider that before Jesus himself became great, he became small. “He emptied himself,” Paul says in Philippians, “and took on the very nature of a servant.” (Phil. 2:7)

Jesus was saying to the world in essence that small is beautiful.

Interestingly enough, however, for most, including most Christians, the rule of thumb is ‘more is better, and more than that is great. I need all I can get!’ There comes a point in most men’s life, however, that needs subtly morph into greed; and unlike old wine, greed does not improve over time.

Now, mind you, greed comes in all shapes and forms. The most severe form and harmful at that is documentary series on A&E called “The Hoarders”, which portrays the real-life struggles and treatment of people who suffer from compulsive hoarding.

‘That’s not greed’ I hear someone protest, that’s a mental illness. True, but chances are it did not start out that way, it developed over time. And, furthermore, if it is not a choice they make—compulsive or not; why then do they respond to counseling intervention? Really in some ways these poor souls are no worse off than billionaires cutting billion dollar contracts and amassing manipulative fortunes that can even make congress dance to their tune. Nothing satisfies them. There’s never enough. Nothing wrong with wealth, mind you. But, we will however, be judged on how well we manage it. ‘To whom must is given, much is required’ is as true today as it was the day Jesus spoke the words.

Life is all about choices, isn't it?

I am yours for the journey,

Jim R/




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The aliens among us . . .

Now, consider this—

Walking to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants recently, I notice a short little Mayan looking lady scurrying along behind me. Just before I arrived, I noticed that she went down a side alley and then through the back door of another eatery. Dishwasher or perhaps a cook, I thought. Wonder if she has a green card? I mused. I didn't dwell on that very long, however, since I could tell by the cautious look on her face and the colorful Latino blouse and skirt she had on, plus the handmade sandals that chances were she didn't even know what a green card was.

Later that same evening, I was watching the evening news and a lady from Honduras with her child in tow hurried towards a border agent and asked if she was in America. When told that she was, she fell on her knees and begged the agent to let her stay. It was a touching scene; one that brought tears to my eyes.

Friends, I am well aware that we cannot take every stranger in that wants to live in America, and I don't have the answer to the immigration problem, but I do know that God will hold us accountable for how we treat these desperate people. I know something else, also, we are not getting it done with a congress that continues to haggle with a do-nothing administration that can find enough money to bail out corporate America but no enough to seriously tackle illegal immigration. Now, mind you, I am not of the opinion that snatching these poor immigrants as soon as the cross the border and hustling them back to the crime ridden stench and poverty from which they came is the answer either. Something more fundamental than that must be done, and done with a strong resolve tempered compassion that results in more than just pity.

Personally, I commend the efforts of the Catholic Relief organizations, but privately wonder what we Protestants—yes, including the Assemblies of God are doing about it. Tragedy comes in many forms: tsunamis, hurricanes, drought, and medical epidemics. These are not the only form of tragedy, however; the border crisis is one, also. Yes, we can pray, and I certainly believe in the power of prayer, but we need to put some real legs to our prayers and do something constructive to help solve the problem. What a golden opportunity to show the love of Jesus by helping these poor people. So, let’s get busy.

Well, as usual, this is only one man’s opinion; but in this case I am pretty sure that God is of the same opinion, too.

Remember, we're not alone on this journey,

Jim


P. S.  Several of my national friends from North East India would love to attend the Assemblies of God 100 Years Centennial Celebration that is scheduled for AUG 5-6, 2014, in Springfield, Missouri. Please pray for these men and if you wish to help let me know. Thanks!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who were the morning stars that sang together, and all the sons of God who shouted for joy at creation? Job 38:7


Question:
When God created the universe HE was in trinity, but then, who are the ,'' When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?'' (KJV)?

My Answer:
Couple of observations here: One, what is a son? Apparently, a created being can be a son (as was Adam and prior to that the angels, including Lucifer); and men can be adopted as sons (as are we); there can be an only begotten son (as with Jesus). So, the word son is not a static term; it has multiple meanings. Some speculate that the phrase: "In the Beginning God created" as a process, which obviously it was. The heavens were created first, apparently, and this would indicate all those that dwell in Heaven were part of that process which would include angels. However, I prefer accept the fact that we can push rational thinking beyond rational limits if we are not careful.

Consider for instance, where did God come from? Who created him? Well, obviously we do not know; although logic and reason alone would tell us that He did not create himself. We do, however, accept the fact that only belief in a God or an intelligent Being can account for creation. The law of irreversible atrophy alone informs us that creation is incapable of regenerating itself. Scientist will tell us that the earth or the cosmos is winding down and even if it were to implode and start the Big Bang all over again eventually it would reach the limits of doing just that.

So back to where did God come from? The answer is nowhere since that is by definition not His nature; nor is it a natural retrogression. However, it is our nature and that of creation to have come from somewhere. The point being, I don't have to posit God to believe in God that I can do intuitively. As with angels, I do not have to posit them, either, other than we know that nothing was created without Him, including angels. So, these sons of God of reference were His sons in a creative and spiritual sense, but not like His Only Begotten who proceeded from the bosom of Father or like we Born Again Christians who have be adopted into the family of God through His Spirit. (Romans 8:15)

In your opinion, does Ephesians 4:11 speak of a five-fold ministry or a four-fold one?

Your Question:
In your opinion, does Ephesians 4:11 speak of a fivefold ministry or a fourfold one? In other words, does ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους (pastors and teachers) refer to one office or two?

My Answer:
When we read in Ephesians 4:11 is that "he gave…some, pastors and teachers." Here "pastors and teachers" refer back to the single "some," describing two facets of the same work.

Now, the big question is: Who were these apostles and prophets? For we find that the Church was "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." Eph. 2:20 and further, even more disturbingly for we Protestants is that very Church is called "the pillar and foundation of truth" 1 Tim 3:15 Not, the Scriptures, mind you, but the Church.

So, I've got to be honest with you. When every Tom, Dick and Harry is a magisterium of one, I get a little nervous. Perhaps, it would do us all good to do a little research into church history and see what Christians before us taught; and please let's not start at 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses onto a Wittenberg Church door.There's more history before that, than afterwards.

Could we possibly learn something from our Catholic and Orthodox, yes, and Anglican brethren? What about the Apostolic Fathers— Clement of Rome or Ignatius of Antioch or Polycarp of Smyrna? What about the Greek Fathers—Irenaeus of Lyons or Clement of Alexandria or Origen of Alexandria or Athanasius of Alexandria? What about the Cappadocian Fathers—John Chrysostom or Cyril of Alexandria or even John of Damascus? Oh, my, we can’t skip the Latin Fathers, either. There’s that old tongues speaker Tertullian and oh yes, another one called Hilary of Poitiers . . . whew, I am running out of breath. Oh, did I fail to mention St. Augustine, a favorite of both Luther and Calvin?

The point is, we don’t have to scratch out our theology like chickens in a barn yard. Most of it has already been packaged for us and is there for the taking.

Now, as far as the Greek goes believe me I have terrible trouble with a God who expects me to ferret out these truths when we have perhaps over 4,000 manuscripts to choose from, and again every Thomas, Richard, and Harold has his opinion on that, too. Surely, there must be a teaching magisterium besides old Tom, and old Dick, and old Harry. We have better resources that just that of someone with a correspondence school diploma from Podunk Hollow pontificating on every nuance that suits their fancy.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

101 Uses For Cow Dung

Now, consider this
 "Yesterday's just a memory; tomorrow's never what it's supposed to be." 
Bob Dylan


Dear Partners in Missions—

I don't know about you, but some days just don't turnout like I think they should. Life if full of little annoyances, that's for sure! It's not those, however, that throw me for a loop, it's the big bad surprises. Like, sitting in a doctor's office, thumbing through an outdated Time magazine one minute, and in the next sitting across the doctor's desk and him gently breaking the news to you that you are full of cancer. Or picking up that annoying phone with a frame of mind to absolutely give that solicitor off, only to hear that one of your best friends has been killed in a car accident, or a relative has had a serious moral failure.

The truth of the matter is, however, we've all been there, and as Solomon said,
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl. 1:9 NIV)

So, bank on it, bad things will happen. The real test for us as Christians is what do we do when bad things come our way? You've all heard the old cliché "If you are served lemons, make lemonade." Well, that's good advice, but you and I can just drink so much lemonade. After a while, we get tired of the stuff. What then?

Want the answer? Here it is, find out new ways you can use the lemons. You would be surprised at that number of things lemons are good for, but I'll not bore you with those details. I would rather talk about cow dung.

Cow dung? Yep, cow dung. Now, I'll tell you why. There was nothing I hated more, when I was a kid than to step in a pile of the stuff. I absolutely hated anything remotely connected with cow pens, milking and such—not that I did a whole lot of it, but when on the few occasions that I was asked to help, I went squealing.
So, imagine my surprise, and curiosity when I got to India and found out that cow dung was a precious commodity. Villagers use it to polish their dirt floors with; burn for fuel; fertilize crops with; insect repellent; insulation for their houses; as an antibaterial agent (believe it or not); as a matter of fact one blogger list 101 USES FOR COW DUNG. Yep, 101 uses.


So, what's the point? Simple this, "If life serves you up something as unpleasant as a pile of cow dung, then get busy figuring out what you are going to do with it. Because, there is a little bit of good in every bad thing that happens."

Why do I say this? I say this from experience, and experience has taught me that I can not let the bad things that happen to me define me. How do you think someone gets called an old grump? I'll tell you why, it is because he or she has allowed the bad things in life to define who he or she is. I've got to be honest with you, I never felt compelled to get up before a congregation and brag about the stupid things that I have done in life and top the sweet little testimony off with, "But, I am glad Jesus saved me from all of that!"

No, I don't have any deep dark secrets. Sure, I've lied before; and so have you. But, I am not going to let lying define me, I better than that. And, if I thought hard enough I could probably come up with some more petty—as the Catholics say, venial sins; but I refuse even to let those define me. So what am I saying? I am saying that none of these things define me, but what I do or did with them does.
Making a mistake can either define you, or make you a better man. The choice is yours. The same goes for the bad things that happen to you, too. 


Remember, we're all on this journey  together,

Jim
P. S.  Several of my national friends from North East India would love to attend the Assemblies of God 100 Years Centennial Celebration that is scheduled for AUG 5-6, 2014, in Springfield, Missouri. Please pray for these men and if you wish to help let me know. Thanks!!