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Can Anyone Say Amen? October 2, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Staring at the carnival mirrors of this life we squint through a swirling mist at the constantly shifting mirage of a fallen world.  Things are not as they seem.  Good is so often trampled underfoot while evil triumphs.  The innocent are sacrificed as the guilty ride roughshod over justice.  Walking in the ways of the flesh is stumbling through a maze all alone.  Social Darwinism runs amuck.  Survival of the fittest is the order of the day as the weak, the poor, and the defenseless are shoved out of the way for the next conqueror as they elbow their way to the fleeting throne that will eventually become their funeral pyre.  Allowing our flesh to rule and guide us is walking with our eyes closed in the dark and following the lie that we can be like God creating our own realities through our selfish choices. 

There is a better way.  Walking with God is walking in the light reaching out for His revelation in His Word which is truth.   

As we mature by meditating on the Word of God the things of this world grow strangely dim.  Suddenly a light shines through the darkness and the spiritual world which is invisible to the natural man comes into focus.  Paul put it best in his first letter to the Corinthians, “The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, ‘Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?’ has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.” 

Look at it this way if tomorrow morning when we opened our eyes we saw Jesus standing right there beside our bed physically manifested before us do you think we might have a different kind of morning than normal?  Now imagine if He were to walk next to us all day.  Everywhere we went He went.  Do you think an experience like that might change the way we saw things? 

The Lord is with us every day wherever we are and wherever we go because He prayed that the Father would send us the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God.  And we know the Father always hears and answers the prayers of His Son Jesus.  Here’s what Jesus said about this, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  He lives within in us.  This is the fact of a born-again life.  But do we really live this way?  Or do we let the mundane sameness of this life gradually gloss over the sparkling joy of our first love?  If we will open our spiritual eyes we’ll see through the filthy fog of this world and see Jesus in all the power of His resurrection with us every step of the way. 

I’m not saying this’ll instantly convert a vale of tears into a bed of roses.  Jesus told us we shouldn’t expect any better treatment than He received at the hands of man, and they crucified Him.  Look at Stephen the first martyr.  He preached the good news that man can be reconciled with God by confessing Jesus as the Lord and leader of our life and by believing that God raised Him from the dead.  This upset the applecart for all the religious leaders who made their living and maintained their power by confining people within the straightjacket of religion filled with rituals and symbols but lacking in a personal relationship with God. 

These wolves in sheep’s clothing couldn’t meet Stephen in open debate.  They couldn’t contend with the power of God that was so obvious in his preaching.  So they manufactured lies and spread false rumors.  They stirred up a crowd and then aimed the violence of the mob directly at this man of God.  But even while they stoned him he had his eyes on Jesus and while the last breaths were crushed from his tortured lungs he cried, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 

We too can live our lives walking, breathing, and speaking in the presence of the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ and there’s nothing the world can do about it.  No one can snatch us out of God’s hand.  To paraphrase one old song Jesus gave it to us and the world can’t take it away.   So abandon the snipe hunt of seeking peace or fulfillment through walking in the flesh and embrace the reality of walking in the Spirit.  Heed the words of the Master, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 

Here’s a prayer I’d like to share, “Father let me see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, speak with Your words, love with Your heart, and touch with Your hands.  Reach through me to those in need.  Let the fire of Your love burn so bright in me that when others look in my direction You are all they see.” 

Can anyone say, “Amen?” 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

Loose Him and Let Him Go September 17, 2019

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There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus raising a man from the dead.  The man’s name was Lazarus and he was one of Jesus’ good friends.  When the moment came for the great miracle Jesus stood before the open tomb and, “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’   And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”  

We who believe the Bible is God’s Word accept this as a true story of actual events.  It can also be seen as an illustration of what happens when we step out of the smothering embrace of the religious systems humans create to reach God and thus accept what God has done to reach us.  When we reject the bewildering straightjacket of rules and regulations humans inevitably devise, and accept that Jesus paid the price, finished the work and welcomes us home He stands at the tomb of our self-help religion and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

Once we’ve confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we’re made right with God.  And though Jesus has ascended to heaven He didn’t leave us alone.  Just before He left He said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”  Embracing that and allowing the Spirit of Truth to guide us is the ideal for those who follow Christ. 

Christ’s final command was to take this light to the world.  Instead we built thousands of competing lamps betraying the unity of the Gospel and confusing unbelievers with our multiplicity of slightly different presentations.  But then again it’s easier to make rules than it is to be sensitive to the Spirit of God.  Laws and regulations can appear to bring order out of chaos relieving the pressure of walking by faith in a faithless world.  But these endless rules cannot change us from the inside out.  To paraphrase Ben Franklin: if we seek order and security from religion we’ll never find either one of them. 

When following rules defines the state of our spiritual life we walk in constant fear of crossing the lines, of veering off even if it’s by mistake into the deception of sin.  This fear of deception won’t keep us from deception.  It’ll lead us into it.  We’re called to walk in faith not in fear.  So if we’re walking in fear we’ve already fallen for deception.  The Bible tells us that the only way we can avoid falling for deception is to embrace the Spirit of Truth.    

Think about it. When we open the blinds at night does darkness come rushing in?  No. When we throw open the blinds light rushes out into the darkness.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t overcome it.  If we’ll immerse ourselves in what God is calling us to, the unearned grace that flows from the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we’ll find the order and security we long for. 

Following God which is walking forward in the light can at first feel like walking backwards in the dark because we’re surrounded by and have been raised in a world that’s in revolt against its creator.  We must dedicate ourselves to following the voice of the Spirit of Truth who lives within us.  It’s vitally important that we learn to recognize His voice so we can recognize it out of all the voices in the world.  When the whole of creation is shaking He’s the rock solid foundation giving us the security of our salvation. 

Does this mean we should abandon all restraint and follow the voice in our head?  First we must know whose voice we’re following, than we must acknowledge that God wrote us a book to explain it all from beginning to end.  His voice will never contradict His Word and His Word shows us exactly how to live moment-by-moment.   

Paul put it this way, “It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.”  

Because we live in a fallen and evil world some laws and regulations must be imposed to maintain people’s safety to provide external order.  However, rules and regulations must never be imposed to bring about spiritual purposes because only the Spirit can birth spirit. 

The Bible is the operator’s manual for life on earth.  In it God has shared with us the greatest wisdom and the deepest insights.  In it we receive not only the instructions on how to live in this world but also how to be born-again as a glorious Spirit-birthed child of God. It’s not possible to put a price on God’s gift of His revelation.  But even the Bible can be used to weave a web of soul-strangling regulations keeping us imprisoned in the law. 

We must always remember the Bible was given to us to lead us to Christ not to take His place.  The tyranny of the law seeks to confine us in a prison of our own making.  But Christ stands at the door to our cell and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

One last thing: Having a Bible we can understand really helps us to understand the Bible.  In the New Testament where Christ quotes the Old Testament He quotes from the Septuagint, a translation in the common language of the day and not from the traditional Hebrew texts.  The New Testament itself was written in the Koine dialect of Greek.  This was the supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written by the people.  I’m not trying to share a lecture on biblical languages.  What I’m getting at is that Jesus and the Apostles used the language of the day so that everyone could understand what they were saying.  They didn’t use the fifty cent words and nuanced meanings of the intellectuals or the technical jargon of theologians.  They didn’t use a language that was no longer spoken or a dialect that was from another era.

Today there are many translations that render the Bible in the language we use every day at work, at the market, and at home without all the thees and thous which no longer form a part of our daily speech.  I’m not saying don’t use a Bible with those words if that’s what suits you I’m just saying use a Bible you can easily understand.  Personally my favorite is the Message but there are plenty of others.  Find the one you’re comfortable with and let it speak the Words of God into your spirit and breathe the Spirit of God into your life.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

There’s Power in the Blood September 4, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Long before I was born-again into the reality of my life in Christ someone once told me they could never become a Christian because it was a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood.  At the time I was in the seeker phase on my way to becoming an atheist and this sounded about right.  I knew from my parental enforced childhood study of Christianity at a Sunday school and catechism class they used for weekend childcare that Christians referred to Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice: they believed they were drinking His blood during communion, and they sang songs like, “There’s Power in the Blood.”

Now that I live each day seeking to be used of God in and through Jesus Christ, I’ve come to realize there’s some basic truth to this butcher’s block talk minus the negative spin.  Blood is an important part of Christianity.  And there is power in the blood of Jesus.

When He was instructing Moses in the revelation of the Jewish shadow of things to come God put it this way, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”  In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews explains it this way, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

When Adam chose to follow his wife into disobedience instead of rebuking the Devil and throwing him out of the Garden God’s warning to them concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” came to pass.  True, Adam lived another 930 years physically but he died spiritually the moment he disobeyed God.  Then everyone descended from Adam was born after his likeness with a spirit alienated from God and in bondage to the Devil.

God could have waved His hand and made everything as it was but that would not be just and God is a just God.  He created Adam as the overseer of His creation and only subject to Himself.  Man chose to listen to the Devil and follow him instead.  In other words, God gave the title-deed to creation to man and man gave it to the Devil.

Just imagine if I bought a new car and gave it to you.  It is now your car.  I bought it for you.  I wanted you to have it and enjoy it.  But then you decide to give it to someone else.  You sign the title over to them.  Now who owns the car?  I bought the car for you.  I wanted you to have it.  But now that you’ve given it to someone else it’s legally their car.  If I was to take it back and once again give it to you, would that be fair?  Would that be just?

That’s the situation God faced after our betrayal.  For the sake of justice a price had to be paid for man’s sin of disobedience.  That price is what God foreshadowed through the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish.  A spotless sacrifice whose blood when applied to the door posts of the Israelite homes caused the angel of death to Passover.

When John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said, “Behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world” he announced to the world that the final sacrifice had begun.  The old plan for covering sins was passing away and a new plan was beginning.  The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament was speaking to the Jews trying to explain to them how the sacrifice of Jesus did away with their millennia old tradition of animal sacrifices.  This explanation as presented in The Message covers the ground very well:

But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.

Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.

That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.

Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.

Because of that sacrifice we can now pick up the keys, the car is ours again.  Jesus paid the price and purchased it back for us.  Paul said it clearly in the New Testament book of Romans, “This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God ‘Jesus is my Master’ embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: God has set everything right between him and me!’”

The best advice I can give is: devour God’s Word and let it lead you into all truth.  So if anyone ever says to you, “I could never become a Christian because it’s a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood” you can answer them confidently, “That’s exactly why I had to become a Christian because you see, there’s power in the blood.”

An old song has it nailed:

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the blood of the Lamb;

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Sing it.  Say it.  Believe it.  Live it. And watch that power give you the life God designed for you.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

Shadows Dancing On A Wall August 20, 2019

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The idea that everything came out of nothing is an assault upon reason.  Since creation is often presented this way as a straw-man argument by the opponents of faith, many thinking people fall for this siren song of secularism.   

But that isn’t what the Bible presents.  In the beginning, in Genesis we’re told that God called all things in this physical reality into being out of nothing physical.  This reality did not exist before God willed it to be here.  God said, “Let there be,” and there is.   

But this doesn’t mean that everything came out of nothing. In the letter to the Hebrews Paul put it this way, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”   It was God’s word and His faith in His word that created everything.  And it’s God’s faith that sustains all that we see. 

Ponder for a moment the incredibly complex relationship between the physical reality and our perception of it.  The computer screen you’re reading this article on is made up of more empty space than matter.  As is the table or desk it’s sitting on.  As are you and I.  From the dark matter and dark energy that scientists theorize makes up the vast majority of the Space-time continuum to the sub-atomic world which goes as far in as the stellar expanse goes out this physical reality is actually tiny bits of matter held together by invisible forces.   

Accepting ourselves as the center of the universe because that’s the only point of observation each of us has we look at our macro view of the micro world and see solid things and we accept that this is the totality of reality.  However, that’s only how we perceive things.  That’s not what they really are.  All matter is enveloped in emptiness powered by energy and the fabric of creation is sustained by faith. 

Long before modern science revealed the mirage of solid matter or the inability of perception to account for an expanding universe without a preponderance of dark everything, one of the greatest of secular thinkers aptly described the shifting sands upon which our understanding rests. 

In his book The Republic Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain the relationship between perception and reality.  His story goes like this; prisoners are chained in a cave, only able to look forward at the shadows on the wall. The shadows they see are real to them, but in reality the shadows are just the shadows of real objects in the room and shadows of the prisoners themselves being projected on the cave wall from a fire behind them.  The sounds they hear and images they see are real to them, even though they are unaware of the true source.  The allegory of the cave is a theory put forward by Plato, concerning human perception. Plato claimed that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion and that, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. 

Thus even those who knew nothing of God could see that what we see is not all there is and that what we do see is more a representation of what it is than what it appears to be.  However, the wisdom of the wise is foolishness to God and the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise. 

The problem with this thinking past the shadows is that we can’t reason our way to God.  He’s outside the bounds of our reality, the source and summit of that reality and therefore, beyond anything we can think or imagine.  If He didn’t reveal Himself we could no more reason what He’s like than an ant could reason its way to man. 

God used an allegory to teach the Israelites about the death-defeating life-giving nature of the Messiah’s mission.   

Since the days when the Jews were slaves in Egypt the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb has been the symbol and the purchase of redemption.   Originally Moses ordered the Jews to sacrifice the Passover Lamb and then apply the blood to the door posts of their homes.  Seeing the blood of the sacrifice the Angel of Death passed over God’s chosen people.  For more than a thousand years the Jews sacrificed the Passover Lamb every year to cover their sins never knowing this was a shadow of things to come.  

Christ’s ministry was first announced to a fallen world when John the Baptist said, “Behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world.”  And from that moment on His life brought the true form of reality out of the shadow. 

Following the command of Moses as interpreted by the elders every year each Jewish family chose a lamb and took it into their home to live with the family for five days.  During this time they examined the lamb for blemishes.  Only after it was found to be perfect could it become the Passover Lamb.  Then the lamb was sacrificed and the blood poured out on the altar of God to cover the sins of the people. 

Jesus, the Lamb of God entered Jerusalem on the same day that the lambs entered the homes of the Jews.  For five days He was examined by the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees.  After He was found to be without guilt they were forced to bring in false witnesses.  Than on the fifth day; the Day of Preparation just as the Jews were sacrificing the Passover Lamb the light of revelation pierced the darkness of a fallen world as thousand year old shadows took on flesh and blood for when Christ was nailed to the cross the shadow became real. 

At the time of Christ’s death and resurrection even His Apostles didn’t understand what it was all about.  They scattered and hid fearing they would be the next to go.  It was only after they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost that they boldly proclaimed the Gospel.  It was only then that they finally grasped that Jesus came to fulfill the scriptures, to make the shadows real. 

We may ask ourselves, “How did they miss it?”  But just as the proof is in the pudding so faith is in the living.  Do we live consistently in a way that reveals our grasp of God’s revelation?  Or do we judge our acceptance with God by how well we’re doing?  Do we live each day in the full knowledge that we’ve become eternally acceptable to God only by our faith in Christ?  Our ability to walk boldly into our Daddy’s throne room must never be measured by how good we are.  If it is we can never enter.   

People say that hind sight is 20/20.  Yet we all know those who fail to learn the lessons of History are doomed to repeat it, and all around us we watch as History repeats itself over and over.  We who’ve confessed Jesus as Lord and who believe in our heart God raised Him from the dead have the benefit of revelation.  We’re given insight into the shadows which still lie over this vale of tears like a fog.  We can see the forms which to those without Christ are nothing more than shadows dancing on the wall of a cave. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

 

Lead Me Not Into Temptation August 8, 2019

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This line from the model prayer Jesus taught us something the Apostle James also points out, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”  Or, as it says in the Message, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust.”

It’s us and only us who choose to sin, to turn our backs on the good and embrace evil.  “Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.”

Just like everyone else who’s wandered this earth since the fall of man I struggle with temptation.  It matters little that I know these struggles come from my own lust.  I still have a battle on my hands.  And just like everyone else I can stand strong against most temptations but I do have those sins which so easily ensnare me in their web of momentary pleasure and future guilt.  These are the things I struggle with.  Anyone who’s honest with themselves will admit they have the same situation.

Recently after a service I had a man asked for counsel about this very thing.  All I could do is all I can ever do; share my witness.

When I’m faced with the temptation to fall into my pet sins, which I face on a daily basis, I admit I’m not strong enough to resist the temptation.  These sins have years, decades even of practice in enticing me to wander from God’s path of obedience.  My own lusts have their spiritual hands on all the right levers to pull me away.  How can I resist?  Who’ll save me from myself?

Christ has come to set us free and when He sets us free we’re free indeed.  I know that’s what the word says.  But how do I get in on all this freedom when I’ve spent so much of my life as a willing slave to these sins?

The first step is to admit my inability to resist the sin.  And to realize that these thorns in my flesh are there to protect me from pride and to shape me into what the Lord intends me to be.  It’s the act of surrender, of admitting my inability to resist that makes a way.  You see when I get to the end of my rope if I give up my struggle and ask Jesus to use His strength to resist the temptation for me I can walk unscathed through the fires of my lust.  When I’m weak then I’m strong because Christ’s strength is perfected in weakness.

We’ll never be tempted by more than we can endure and in every temptation there’s a way of escape.  This is one of the many promises we can hang on to when we face our pet sins across the gulf of temptation.  Think of how the Lord himself resisted temptation in the wilderness.  He used the Word of God to rebuke Satan.

In the same way we need to have the Word of God in us if we want to have the strength to admit our weakness so we can find His strength.

Walking with God can sound and feel like walking backwards to anyone steeped in the wisdom of the world.  For the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise of this world.  Just as the weakness of a sinner becomes the strength of the saint as hand in hand with the Man who stilled the sea we give it all to Jesus so He can give it back to us.

Those who seek to keep their lives lose them and those who give their lives away keep them for all eternity.

So how do we resist temptation?  We trust Jesus to do it for us since every sin was paid for at the cross.  Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.  And you will be saved.  That isn’t pie in the sky.  That isn’t a hollow promise for the great by-an-by.  That is a constant reality for the here and now.

So when those pesky old sins reach up and try to drag us down remember we aren’t out here all alone.  Once we’ve given ourselves to God in and through Jesus it’s no longer just us facing these struggles it’s Christ within us the hope of Glory.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

The Two Witnesses Who Helped Change My Life July 30, 2019

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If it’s my way or the high way I choose the High Way; God’s way.  You see I tried my way and it led to depression, despair, and loneliness.  The best I could figure out is if this is all there is let’s roll out the barrels and have a party.  My life before Christ was like the meaningless forever party at The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe in Douglas Adam’s iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  The band plays on, the people careen through life in a mad dash to nowhere, everyone is laughing, smiling, miserable, and heading toward oblivion. 

In the doomed life without Christ people mistake happiness and laughter for joy, and waste their lives trying to tickle themselves to death. 

So after thirty wasted years sacrificed on an altar of senseless, self-indulgent, self-destructive tickling I chose the High Way.  I chose to make Jesus the Lord of my life because I believe in my heart God has raised Him from the dead.  I came to believe Jesus offered Himself up as a sinless sacrifice to pay the price of not just my sin but of everyone’s sin.  I came to understand that the wall of separation caused by sin between humanity and God was broken down and we can all be united with Him.  I embraced the truth that we can become His children.  We no longer are strangers but members of His family welcome to walk boldly into our Daddy’s throne room. 

Have you ever felt as if there’s no hope?  Don’t be fooled by the god of this world. There is hope.  Have you ever felt like you were too far gone, too wrong to ever be right again?  Don’t be fooled by the confusing systems of laws that litter this world, or by gnawing feelings of guilt.  We can be right with God.   

Christ told us to take His light to the world and in our finite wisdom we constantly attempt to build lamps.  They may provide light but it’s not His light.  The bewildering mazes of religious laws are paths built by men.  The feelings of guilt that inform us we have a consciousness of sin are themselves pinpricks and poundings delivered by God to prod us into the way, His way, the High Way.  They don’t mean we’re lost forever.  It’s just the opposite.  They mean God hasn’t given up on us yet.   

And if God hasn’t given up on us why should we give up on God? 

Happiness can be affected by what we had for dinner last night.  Did it taste good?  Did it sit well or did it give us indigestion?  Happiness can be impacted by whether or not we’re rich or poor, sick or healthy or any combination of things that are here today and gone tomorrow.  Laughter can be a mask to hide the tears. 

But joy is something else again.  Joy is rooted in our relationship with God, and since the world didn’t give it to us the world can’t take it away.  That’s why it’s called the joy that passes all understanding.   

This God given joy is a powerful life changing thing. 

Seeing this joy in action when I was an unbeliever is one of the things that eventually convinced me the Bible was true, salvation was real, and I could have it if I wanted it. 

When I was at the depth of my unbelief, calling myself an atheist and a hater of all things godly I witnessed people live through the birth of a very special child.  One whose physical challenges led to a short life among us but a life having a major impact on at least one life I know of: mine.  His parents loved that child.  They praised God for that child.  They gave all they had to care for that child.  And when that child passed leaving them physically, emotionally, and financially drained they held a celebration to praise God for blessing them in such a great way. 

I can remember thinking they were crazy.  I shook my head and wondered how anyone could be so different from everyone else I’d ever known.  I didn’t know it at the time but I was a witness to people living out the reality of a passage from the book of Job who was the greatest of all the people of the East.   

After Job lost everything; his home, his children, and all his wealth he was struck with painful boils from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head.  While sitting in the midst of the ashes of his life he took a broken piece of pottery to scrape off the scabs his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” which is what the world was screaming at the two followers of Christ with their family disrupted, their finances destroyed, and their child dead.  These born-again believers said with their actions to the world what Job replied to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” 

Years later as I reflected upon whether or not it was possible to live for God in a fallen world the memory of those two saints, Judy and Harry, praising God for blessings in the middle of what the fallen world saw as a curse I knew it was possible.  Now after forty years of walking with my hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the sea I know it from personal experience. 

Choose God and accept His gift of salvation not for what we’ve done but because of what Jesus did.  He paid the price for our lifetime membership in the family of God, but we still may have to pay some dues down here.  If we trust in Him when the wind and the waves smash against us we’ll stand like a house built on a rock.  If we choose to give our lives to God in Jesus we get them back again better and brighter than we could ever imagine.  If we instead try to keep our lives for ourselves we lose everything, and when the wind and the waves smash against us we’ll crumble like a house built upon the sand. 

We never know who’s watching.  We never know what someone else may see.  So let’s quit tickling ourselves to death, find the joy of the Lord which is our strength and let the joy, joy, joy of the Lord down in our souls and watch our lives become the witness He’s called us to be. 

Thank you Judy and Harry for being two witnesses who helped change my life.  I praise God for you both, and I love you with the love of the Lord. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

  

 

We’ve All Had an Apple Out of That Sack July 16, 2019

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When I first gave my life to Christ I felt so incredibly clean, so new, and fresh it was truly like being born-again.  My old life was washed away and I was a babe in Christ. 

Then as I devoured His Word reading, meditating, and praying it into the very fabric of my life it changed me even more.  I was miraculously healed of alcoholism.  Lifetime habits of chemical abuse and drug addiction were washed away in the life-giving flood of Christ’s love. 

I was saved reading and believing the Gospels.  The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus.  It tells the whole story of His sinless life.  It reveals His sacrificial death.  And it imparts life changing reality of His life giving resurrection and ascension into heaven.  But it doesn’t end there. 

After the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the New Testament continues with the story of the spreading of the sin shattering story of Jesus from Jerusalem to Rome in the Acts of the Apostles a God breathed History that is truly His Story.    

Secular History tells us that the few followers of Jesus shared the good news of freedom from the curse of sin, the empowerment of holiness, and the joy of salvation and that this message of hope spread like wildfire.  It couldn’t be contained by persecution.  It couldn’t be squelched by religion.  Yes, this secular History tells us that this obscure faith movement birthed in an out-of-the-way corner of a vast empire marched from person-to-person and within 300 years became the official religion of Caesar.   

Secular History can tell us what happened; however, it takes the New Testament to tell us why.  We’ve all heard it said that the Gospel is good news.  As one popular song tells us today, “It’s not good news.  It’s the best news ever.” 

In the beginning, back in the garden, man chose not to obey God but instead to follow his own lusts and desires chasing into a path that has forever led us away from God.  We can blame Satan who the Bible tells us tempted Eve into disobedience but it was Adam whose willful choice to follow his own desire to be with his wife instead of with God that crossed the threshold and saw a barrier of sin separate us from our sinless God.  There was no way back.  There was no way to wash the stain from our spirit.  We were no longer united with our creator we were instead united with the father of lies. 

Now here’s the why: God in His unsearchable love came Himself in the form of Jesus born of a woman to live a sinless life that He willingly sacrificed to pay the price.  Now anyone who will confess Jesus as the Lord, the leader, the master of their life and who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead is forgiven of all sin and re-united with God.  That’s it.  That’s the best news ever. 

I was changed by systematic and prolonged study of the Epistles: the letters of the first followers of Jesus to those who believed through their ministry.   

After this saturated my life and I began taking my first steps into a world which was now the Kingdom of God I began my study of the Old Testament.  

When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, the children of Isaac and the twin sons of Abraham that expands the promise of God to send a Savior which is the essence of the entire Old Testament, I came across the line, “I loved Jacob and hated Esau.”  This was a puzzle.  Because when you read about these two brothers it soon becomes evident that Jacob was a lying, cheating, deceiving, schemer and Esau was a nice guy who obeyed his parents and seemed to live a godly life.  Why would God choose Jacob over Esau? 

Esau esteemed his birthright, which was the promise of God flowing into its third generation so lightly he was willing to trade his place as the eldest child and heir for one single bowl of stew.  He threw away eternal blessing for instant gratification. 

Seeing this I thought what a fool Esau was.  How lacking in faith and fortitude it was no wonder God chose Jacob to be the child of promise, the heir whose bloodline would one day produce Jesus. 

It was only as the years passed as I began to live out my own version of the Book of Judges I stumbled and fell.  God renewed me over and over.  It was then that I came to realize how easy it is for the followers of Christ to find themselves in the path of easy going Esau instead of climbing the ladder of faith with Jacob. 

We may not trade our eternal inheritance for a bowl of stew but how many of us choose the things of this world over the things of God?  How easy it is to find ourselves drowning in diversions instead of immersed in the Word?   Majoring on minors instead of dedicated to doing the works God has called us to do.  Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Are we consumed by the news or devouring the Word?”  “Are we serving ourselves at the all-you-can-eat buffet of modern culture or are we helping to seat others at the wedding feast of the King?” 

When I first read the Book of Judges and how the Israelites of old after generations of miracles culminating in finding the promised land turned away from God, fell under the heel of oppressors, begged for deliverance, and then after God delivered them forgot about God and wandered off again, and again, and again I felt if I’d been God I would’ve written them off and started over.  In the first flush of my regenerated life of joy I couldn’t understand how God could just keep kissing the hand that abused Him. 

In time my own book of judges taught me that it’s God’s love that keeps Him constantly ready to accept us back.  I also learned that I was really happy that He never gave up on those Israelites and that He nave gives up on me. 

Esau gave away an eternal promise for something that looked good, smelled good, and tasted good.  But it was also something that perished with the using.  He was weak, he was a fool, and we’ve all had an apple out of that sack. 

If you’ve wandered off into the dead-end trails of self-indulgence in the trackless waste which is the world as I have time after time don’t despair.  We shouldn’t give up on ourselves because God will never give up on us.  As many times as we turn away from the world to face God He’s there ever ready and eager to take us back.  Or as a current song tells us, “You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can’t get back when you’re lost.  Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.  You can change who you are.” 

How do we change who we are?  We Let Jesus in and He does all the remodeling for us.  That’s that best news ever you’ve been hearing about. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

Does Any of This Make Any Sense? June 18, 2019

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Looking at the world around us it’s easy to find ourselves asking this question.  When we see the suffering, the depression, the poverty, and the horror of everyday life for so many it’s hard not to see the nightmare reality of this world as a curse.

That’s a good place to start searching for the meaning in it all because it is a curse.

You see when God created the world He created it as a good thing, a wondrous, and beautiful thing.  Here’s the rub; actions have consequences.

I’ve always thought if I ever found a perfect church I’d spoil it by joining because I’m not perfect.  Most of us mature enough in life to realize we aren’t quite what we could or should be.  Some people never attain this level of self-awareness and we judge them to suffer from a type of psychological problem known as narcissism.  A central aspect of narcissism is grandiosity. That is, narcissists tend to think highly of themselves. In particular, they tend to have a positive view of themselves compared to other people.

Most of us don’t suffer from this malady.  It is more often some form of feeling we aren’t good enough that plagues us.  Those who stumble out of a dysfunctional family are all too often familiar with this one.

Whatever brand of psychobabble seeps through our lives working itself out in hubris and braggadocio or anxiety and self-doubt it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this world is messed up.  Neither is it too complicated for the least perceptive among us to discern.  All too often what the world calls good is bad and what the world calls bad is good.  This alone is enough to make us see the fractured carnival mirror reflection of justice that permeates our reality.  Add to this our personal experiences and anyone who thinks we’ve found ourselves in a bed of roses may be fooling themselves but they aren’t fooling anyone else.

Anyone who can walk through this vale of tears with no faith is a better man then I Gunga Din.

I wasn’t able to do it.  I made it till I was thirty years old and the meaninglessness of it all was on the verge of driving me to suicide.  I kept coming back to if that’s all there is, my friends then let’s keep dancing let’s break out the booze and have a ball if that’s all there is.  However, I found living at the perpetual party at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe was not very uplifting and after a while I couldn’t even pretend it was fun.  How anyone can stagger through all this with no hope of anything beyond this is beyond me.

I can only pray that if they ever come to the end of themselves they will look to God.  That’s what I did and I was surprised to find that God was looking at me.

‘Why is the world so messed up?  Because God made man His viceroy in this creation and instead of listening to God and doing things His way we listened to Satan and gave the whole shooting match away. The story is there for us in Genesis and because of that decision God laid a curse on the whole deal.

But He also gave us a promise at the same time that He would send a Savior.  Jesus is that Savior.  The penalty for disobeying God is eternal separation from God.  The only way back is to live a perfect life which no one can do.  So God became a human, lived a perfect life, and then died for the sins He never committed as a substitute for us.

In doing this He defeated sin, death, and the Devil.  He also opened the way for all of us to get in on the action.  All we have to do is accept Jesus as our leader in life and believe that God raised Him from the dead and that’s it.  The whole deal is reversed and we are once welcomed home.  So let’s run like the prodigal to greet the Father who has waited for us, who greets us like the like lost child we are.

So does any of this make any sense?  It does.  As a matter of fact it makes perfect sense.

You see no matter how messed up it is if we will accept God’s offer, if we will step past the end of ourselves and into His waiting arms the veil will fall from our eyes and we will see this world for what it is: an incubator for the children of God.

It’s not a matter of seeing and then believing instead it’s a case of believing so you can see.

The Bible lays all this out in great detail.  Anyone who’s interested can contact me for a guided tour.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

Marley’s Chains May 29, 2019

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To paraphrase scripture as presented in the Message we see that not only has the Church become Israel many have become spies only pretending to be Christians, who slipped in to find out just how free true Christians are who seek to pervert the freedom from religious legalism Christ gives us.  They want to build their own kingdoms and feather their own nests by bringing others into the same religious bondage they drag around like Marley’s chains through a life that reeks of the grave.

Now the paraphrase of Romans 2:17-29:

If you’re brought up Christian, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you?  It is the same with adultery.  And it is the same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Christians that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away.

Baptism, the ritual that marks you as a Christian, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being baptized. The reverse is also true: The unbaptized who keep God’s ways are as good as the baptized —in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law unbaptized than break it baptized. Don’t you see: It’s not the submerging in water that makes a Christian. You become a Christian by who you are. It’s the submerging of your heart in God, not the water on your skin that makes you a Christian.  And the recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.

Not only are we warned to avoid the legalism of religion we are specifically warned about false teachers and wolves disguised as Christians who seek to build their own kingdoms and lead others astray.

At the end of the book of Romans Paul warns us; One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

And in Philippians 3:17-19 Paul tells us; Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

I’m not knocking anyone’s beliefs or their traditions.  What I am doing is trying to warn those who want to follow Christ.  We can’t let anyone, anything, or the peer pressure of any community fool us into elevating a system of man over the freedom of Christ.  We should ask ourselves, “How can customs, traditions, holidays, and ceremonies transplanted from paganism to attract or mollify converts as faith in Christ was spread, sometimes by the sword, across barbarian Europe after the fall of Rome save us?”  Anything that obscures the fact that it’s by faith alone that we’re saved and by obedience alone we’re changed is something holding us back from becoming what God created us to be.

Once again turning to Paul, the Apostle of the heart set free, we find in Galatians a stunning rebuke of those trying to turn a living faith into a religious structure.  In Chapter three he says, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  After faith comes we’re free.  Holding on to the structure of religion may make following easier but making ourselves a slave to it doesn’t set us free.  And Christ came to set us free.

Remember whatever is not of faith is sin and  no one can snatch us out of the hand of God but we can sure jump.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Show Me Then I’ll Believe May 21, 2019

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I’m in the process of re-writing my autobiography.  I initially wrote it back in the early nineties.  Until now it never seemed like the right time to publish it, but now I believe the time has arrived.

As I re-read the chapters which chronicle the adventures of a lost young man throwing away everything nature and nurture gave him and self-medicating his way to total despair I can’t help but think of all the missed opportunities and self-inflicted pain.  Anything that should’ve meant something was discarded in a blind attempt to escape the pain of not understanding the world around me.

However, time and maturity have finally taught me that if I hadn’t taken every step I’ve taken to be here I wouldn’t be here.  Instead I’d be somewhere else.  And I know without a shadow of doubt that I’m standing exactly where God wants me, which is the only place I ever want to be.

At an early age I discovered History and my immature mind told me, “If you understand how we got here maybe you could understand here?”  So I started reading History on a daily basis, a habit I’ve never lost.  However as I gained a vast knowledge base I didn’t seem to gain any wisdom.

I knew what happened but the why always seemed to escape me.  I just couldn’t figure out why bad things happened to good people and good things happened to bad people.  A fact the study of History proves over and over.  The drugs and alcohol I used to ease the pain of confusion didn’t help.  I ended up thinking I should do bad things if I wanted good things to happen.

As a child I’d given up on Christianity the first time I heard about turning the other cheek.  My young but already street smart mind told me, “If you do that the world is going to slap the taste out of your mouth.”

I thought ideas such as loving those who hate you, returning good for evil, and sacrificing yourself for the good of others was foolishness.  Living like this seemed like walking backwards through a burning building.  I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

At least not until I’d lived my life into a corner and came to the end of my rope believing there was no afterlife and nothing except what I could touch, see, or feel.  I figured if this is all there is why go on, why continue living only to die.  My life became a parody of the chorus from the song, Is That All There Is; “Is that all there is, is that all there is, if that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing let’s break out the booze and have a ball if that’s all there is.”

Luckily for me that isn’t all there is.

That’s when I ran into Jesus.  I gave my burned-out useless life to Him and He gave it back to me all shiny and new.  He gave me purpose.  He gave me hope.  He gave me a loving wife, the love of my life, who’s my other half in a one flesh marriage.  He gave me the opportunity to know the joys of being a second-chance father and a stand-in grandfather after having all my own children aborted.

In my former life I did my best to destroy and throw away everything given to me.  But, God works with what’s left.  He takes the cinders and the ashes and makes them into something beautiful.  Tears may come at night but joy comes in the morning.

Has everything been as smooth as silk and twice as nice since I’ve become a new creation?  Not by a long shot.  There’ve been trials and tribulations beyond counting and they aren’t over yet.  At first I would pray for God to take this cup from me forgetting the second half of the prayer, “but not my will but yours be done.”  Then I’d wonder, “Why do I keep going through the same things over and over?”

Somehow in my continuous reading of God’s Word I’d missed this part:

Even when we’re surrounded by troubles we keep right on shouting praises, because we know if we walk through these troubles hand-in-hand with the man who stilled the sea they’ll develop perfect patience in us.  And if we learn to practice perfect patience this forges the polished steel of virtue.  This virtue keeps living in expectancy ever on the lookout for what God will do next.  Living in this kind of breathless expectancy, we’re never left feeling ripped-off or overwhelmed by circumstances.  No, it’s just the opposite.  If we’ll walk through our problems like this we can’t find enough treasure chests to contain all the blessings God in His mind-blowing generosity pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Still seeking after wisdom I spend every day pursuing the One who is wisdom, the One who is light and life, the One who is the Savior of my soul, the King of Glory who died and rose again.  The ever living Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father, the One who sent the Holy Spirit to live in me.

If life doesn’t seem to make any sense, if we find ourselves going through the same things over and over let’s step out of the meaningless maze of carnival mirrors and find peace in union with God.  Give it all up to get it all back.  If we lay down our lives Jesus will show us how to live.  Let’s stop fighting a war that’s already been won.  Victory is found in surrender.  It isn’t a matter of “Show me then I’ll believe,” instead it’s a matter of “Believe and it will be revealed.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

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