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Praise God for Troubles  April 23, 2020

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Religion, Uncategorized.
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Here we are in uncharted territory, locked up, locked down, and locked out.  Who could’ve guessed just two months ago as we struggled to hang on to a runaway economy that within a few short weeks we’d face the prospect of the new and improved Greater Great Depression?  A self-inflicted act of economic euthanasia.  Shuttered in our homes we peer through the TV and wonder, “Will my family make it through this?  Will I make it through?  Will this last so long the economy is gone?  And if it does what then?”

Some say there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Some say this is a train roaring down the tracks to obliteration station.  I’m here to tell you today of another light.  The light who is the Light of the world.

Just as the Bible tells us, “Do not worry,” it also tells those who believe in Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

How do we go through what we’re going through and not worry?  How do we watch the daily briefings, the climbing death toll, adjust to house arrest, looming food shortages, and the possible collapse of the American economic miracle and not have a troubled heart?

Good questions deserve a good answer, and luckily God does not leave us alone.  His Word provides all the faith, hope, and love we need to not only make it through but to help others not only survive but thrive.

From the day man rebelled and cut us off from God there’s been a plan in motion to re-unite us with Him.  By confessing with our lips Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we enter this plan.  We welcome God into our life just as He welcomes us into His.  And where do we find ourselves?  Right where we always hoped we’d be, in the beauty of His glory and grace.  The only fitting reaction to all this is to praise Him, to shout it from the roof tops.

And that’s not just in the rush of deliverance it carries over into our everyday walking around life.  So now that we’re His we should act like it.  We realize that we’re His children, in the world but not of the world.  And because of this we praise Him even when we’re surrounded by troubles.  Why should we sing praises when we are troubled?

Because we know that as long as we keep our hand in the hand of the man who stilled the sea these troubles will not crush us they will make us stronger.  Because, troubles build patience, patience builds virtue, and virtue keeps us wide-eyed and expectant waiting on God.  And as we wait, we should never feel abandoned or forgotten instead we should hold tight to the promise of the blessings He has instore for us, the blessings He pours into our spirit day after day.

Knowing from experience Christ is an on-time God.  He didn’t wait for us to be good enough.  He came and gave Himself as a sacrifice while we were in rebellion seeking to find our own way.  This makes no sense to the natural mind. We can see how a good person might give themselves selflessly for someone worthy and even inspire others to do the same.  However, God showed His true colors by offering up His Son to pay the price of our sin while we were still in rebellion and not good for anything.

Now as we walk in the light of our reunion with God through Christ there shouldn’t be any doubt that we’re His children and reconciled with Him perfectly.  Think about it, when we were at our worst, rebels and completely estranged from Him, we were forgiven and set right through the sacrificial death of his Son. Now that His resurrection has defeated sin, death, and the devil and we’ve been re-born into God’s kingdom just try to imagine all that He has in store for us.

So after the troubles have birthed patience, patience has brought forth virtue, virtue has developed a character of steadfast faith, and this faith has brought forth hope we can depend on God that this hope will not disappoint.  Because this faith is founded on the love of God which is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit He’s given us.

Yes, the world around us is in turmoil.  Yes, this pandemic is testing us as we’ve never been tested.  We see our nation, our families, and ourselves hemmed in by problems we never saw coming.  But I’m here today to tell you hold on to the hope we have in Christ Jesus.  Nothing can snatch us out of His hand.  And I’m convinced that neither death or life, angels, principalities, powers, not things present or things to come, not height or depth, or pandemics can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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

 

 

 

 

 

Resurrection Reflections  April 14, 2020

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As we hunker in the bunker and wait for the Death Angel to pass over it’s good to remember that being negative is positively one of the worst things we can do.  Not only is it a waste of time, it’s depressing.  God tells us in many ways “Do not worry” more times than He tells us “Do not steal.”  And we all know what stealing is.  Can any one of us by worrying add a single hour to our life or add an inch to our height?

As with almost anything that happens it doesn’t take long for Christians to start asking, “Do you think these are signs of the End Times?”  The Bible tells us we’ve been in the End Times at least since the writing of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.  All I can do is repeat what Luke told us so long ago, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Wars and pandemics shake our world.  In a moment we’re in a brave new world wondering, “Will we ever get back to the way it was?”  Things can seem so dark, so forbidding, so bleak it’s easy to lose our focus on Christ and the life He’s given us in the middle of so much sickness and death.  If we focus on the negative, we may lose sight of the positive reality: Christ triumphed over death.  He conquered it through His death on the cross where He died so we may live.

He lived a life of love and perfection.  He died a death of hate and rejection.  He rose to share joy and perfection.  Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Accept Him and find life.  Reject Him and reject life.

God is so vast yet so personal, so sublime yet so simple.  We are His creation, yet He adopts us as children.  He sustains the universe and all that’s in it, yet we ask Him to find us a parking space at MegloMart.  The wisest humans who’ve ever lived could never devise a system of religious rules or disciplines that can lead us through the snare of the flesh to the liberation of the spirit.  Or, as Paul expresses it, “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

In these times of stress, we need to stand strong, keep our eyes on the prize, and refuse to waver.  The government may try to become our all in all but believing that will be the surest way to fall.  We may be riveted on the daily briefings and the emergency alerts in the natural, but in the spirit we need to turn our eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace

Don’t be misled no one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — harvests a crop of weeds.  All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds!  But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”

Here’s some good advice from the days of a war long ago which was also based on truths from the Bible:

Johnny Mercer began his #1 hit by saying, “Gather ’round me, everybody.
Gather ’round me while I’m preachin.’  Feel a sermon comin’ on me. The topic will be sin and that’s what I’m ag’in’.  If you wanna hear my story
then settle back and just sit tight while I start reviewin’ the attitude of doin’ right”

Then he crooned:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
But don’t mess with mister in-between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
have faith, a pandemonium
Libel to walk up on the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the Whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
just when everything looked so dark

They said we better
accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
latch on to the affirmative
But don’t mess with mister in-between.

As I reflect upon the Resurrection, I can see this is still good advice today.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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

 

 

 

Time is of the Essence  February 4, 2020

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According to the Business Dictionary the title of this essay is a provision often included in construction, supply, transport, and other types of contracts to stress the punctual completion of the job (or repayment of a loan) as a vital element of the performance of the contract. Any failure to complete the work (or to pay the sums) within stated time limits may constitute breach of the contract.

Salvation is not a transaction based on a contract.  It’s a gift.  It isn’t earned.  It’s based upon the grace of God extended to all and accepted through faith.  And while this gift shines from the cross of Christ through the meandering corridors of History, each of us has but a fleeting moment upon the world’s stage.  When it’s done it’s done.  It’s just the opposite of a concert; when the curtain comes down, we face the music.  Or as the Word of God puts it, “Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.”

The world tells us, “Opportunity only knocks once” meaning if you miss your chance it won’t come again.  Looking at the totality of life that’s true, but looking within the fragile bubble of time that is our here-today-gone-today life we have opportunity after opportunity.  We had last week, and yesterday, today, and God willing tomorrow.  At any moment we can make an altar of our prayers and confess Jesus as our Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.  If we’ll do those two things the Word of God promises, “You will be saved.”  If the curtain comes down before we do so we might not like the sequel.

The whole of the Old Testament points to Christ: the fulcrum of History.  And throughout the New Testament God points back to examples and signposts of what was to come.  To the Jews there is no more powerful story than their exodus from Egypt.  Because they refused to believe God they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  These people who witnessed the miracles of Moses, crossed the Red Sea on dry land, ate the manna from heaven, and drank from the rock which followed them refused to worship God.  Instead they followed the trinket gods of their own imagination.  And God left their bodies in the dust as a testimony to their hardheartedness.

Their rebellion and their lack of faith becomes a warning to us when the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in ‘the bitter uprising,’ that time of wilderness testing!  Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way over and over they tried my patience.  And I was provoked, oh, so provoked I said, ‘They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.’  Exasperated, I vowed, ‘They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.’”

Today is all we have.  No one promised us tomorrow.  If we miss our chance, if we refuse to follow God and instead embrace the world we should be prepared for a hand full of ashes.  The Apostle John put it like this, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out.”

But John didn’t leave it there.  He finished the passage with a promise, “but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

And when it comes to the promises of God we need to realize, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

Sometimes life seems like a long time.  It always feels like we have hours to kill but not a moment to spare.  Our fleeting moment upon this stage is rushing by.  Like flowers in the field we sprout, bloom, and fade away.  For most of us one or two generations at the most and no one will remember we were here.  So grab the chance and remember time is of the essence and listen to these words ringing in our ears, “Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.”

It’s never too late.  Until it is.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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

 

 

 

A New You for a New Year  January 8, 2020

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Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Are you facing a new year and thinking, “Why?”   Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “I wish I could start this all over again”?  When we come to the end of ourselves, we have the chance to find the beginning of everything else.

Every person is the center of their own universe simply because that’s the only vantage point available to anyone who has ever lived.  Usually by the time we’re old enough to know anything we’ve figured out that just because we’re the center of observable reality that reality doesn’t revolve around us.  And it doesn’t take long to realize that the cold machinery of the space-time continuum takes as little heed to us as we do to the microbes in the ground we walk over every day.

The cold impersonal avalanche of happenstance leads any thinking person to the question, “What’s it all about?”  The inscrutability of the carnival mirror maze we perceive as reality leads many to conclude there is no meaning, there is no point, and there is no reason.  All there is is what it is and that’s all that there is.  A sort of Popeye philosophy that leaves us constantly wandering about looking for the magic can of spinach that’ll make us strong enough to break through the mirrors to scan an open horizon with a clear vista.  On our own it always seems to be just around the next corner.

This is where revelation comes in.  A mouse in a maze never sees the whole picture.  It only sees the corridor it happens to be in at the time.  And though it searches and searches it always seems like someone has moved the cheese.  Only through revelation can we see enough of the puzzle to learn which piece needs to go next to which piece to make the picture whole.

Lucky for us there is a God who created all this and He wants to allow us to see behind the curtain of the physical giving us a glimpse of the spiritual, which is the essence of it all.

I’m a Christian.  By that I mean I have confessed Jesus Christ as my personal Lord, and I believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead.  Because of that I believe I am saved, I am born-again, and I have a free pass out of hell and into heaven.  And on a daily basis I do my best to follow Christ: loving and forgiving myself and the world around me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This wasn’t always the case.  Until I was thirty years old I was an unapologetic reprobate, and an atheist who cursed a God I proudly declared I didn’t believe in.  Then I had a personal encounter with Christ which led me to study the Bible, which led to my confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and my unswerving belief that God has raised Him from the dead.  Through this I was born again receiving a brand-new life here and now and that afore mentioned free pass out of hell and into heaven.

I immediately transitioned from hopelessness to hopefulness, from despair to joy, from dread to expectancy.  This is such a good deal I can’t bear to keep it to myself.

My words and my testimony will not get you anything.  They can’t give you a new you.  Only God’s Spirit can do that.  We can’t think our way to God.  It’s only through His revelation that we can get beyond the example of a blind man trying to picture an elephant by touching its trunk or tail.  The only way I have found to find God is through His word.  Think about it. If God only wrote one book out of all the billions of books in the world doesn’t it seem logical that it would be the most important thing we could possibly read?  If we deny that His word is His word we close the door and throw away the key.

You might say, “Why do I need to be born again?

Here are some reasons and their biblical support

  1. Jesus Loved you enough to die for you

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  1. You cannot even please God if you’re not born again.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

  1. You will be living under God’s wrathif you’re not born again.

Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything: life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.

  1. You’ll be under the control of the devil if you’re not born again.

In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

  1. You will experience the second death if you’re not born again.

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire, and if anyone’s name is not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Jesus Christ is always there for us. He’ll answer us anytime we call him. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks.  Open the door today and He’ll come in.

As a new year begins, we can all begin a new life.   The mistakes of our past don’t have to be the blueprint of our future.

One of the most important truths in Christianity is that God loves us so much that He sought us out before we even start trying to find him.  Referring to Himself in a title reserved for the Messiah Jesus said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  He also said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”

Since He chose us, all we must do is choose Him and that new life starts right now.  That is the Way.  I have shared what the Bible says we must do to be saved; confess and believe.  But it isn’t about a formula.  Being a follower of Christ is much more than that.  It’s following Christ.  He said “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  because as He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Christ doesn’t show us the way.  He is the Way to a new you for a new year … or any year … any time.

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

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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

 

 

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

 

 

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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