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All That Really Matters September 14, 2020

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Back when I was an atheist and I believed this is all there is I was passionately interested in politics, economics, and current events.  I was committed to working for my side and to defeating the other guy.  Now that I’m a born-again child of God, a citizen of Heaven, and merely a pilgrim here I follow the ever-changing kaleidoscope of civic events more like a soap opera.   

Yes, I understand that within this bubble we know as the space-time continuum the ins and outs of who’s up and who’s down actually make a difference.  For example, it will have a profound impact on the United States whether we hand the government over to socialist revolutionaries or if we deliver it to capitalists.  However, in the grand scheme of things this makes about as much difference as which queen bee is laying eggs in which hive. 

I came to this level of a wokeness after years of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with God.  Just as a caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly, I believe humans go through much the same process.  Only instead of a two-stage process like a butterfly we go through three stages. 

First, we’re a fetus (in Latin fetus means little one) for approximately nine months.  Second, we’re born into this world and live here for as long as we do.  And finally, we pass from this world into eternity.  Let’s see: nine months, maybe 120 years, eternity.  Which stage do you think is the real deal?  The nine months prepare us for the 120 years and the 120 years prepare us for eternity.  Two of these stages are merely steppingstones for the main event.  Therefore, I contend that humans are in fact eternal beings who pass through two stages of development to become what we were created to be. 

All that really matters in this stage of our development is the direction we’re facing when we leave it.  Are we looking to God and putting our faith in Him?  Or are we looking to the world still grasping for all it has to offer?  Think of it this way: if when we’re a fetus inside our mother the umbilical cord is wrapped wrong or if there is a chromosomal problem we could enter life with some sort of handicap that we will spend the next 120 years dealing with.  In the same way if we enter eternity facing in the wrong direction, we will spend eternity dealing with the ramifications of that choice. 

From my personal Christian perspective here’s the 411 on how we turn from the world and face in the right direction. 

Everyone can see that this world is broken.  Evil runs rampant.  The bad are rewarded.  The good are crushed.  Sickness, poverty, and oppression are on display in every direction.  If God is good, why would He create such a horror show? 

The easy answer is He didn’t.  When He was done with creation He paused and looked around.  Surveying all that He had done and it was “Good.” 

Then man turned away from God, embraced Satan, and God cursed the world while at the same time promising that a Savior would come who would step on Satan’s head and deliver humanity from the grip of the evil we chose. 

The price was a sinless sacrifice, the good for the bad.  No human could do it because none of us has ever or could ever live a sinless life.  Therefore, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to be incarnated as a human, live a sinless life, and then offer himself up as a sacrifice for us all.  After His sacrifice Jesus descended into hell and as an eternal being suffered the punishment for every sin that had ever or would ever be committed.  Then He was born-again in the very heart of darkness, triumphed over Satan, and God raised Him from the dead.  Jesus led all those who had died waiting for this deliverance out of Satan’s grasp and emerged on the third day with the keys to death and hell. 

After spending forty days instructing His disciples on how to carry the message of the best news ever to the world He ascended into heaven.  Ten days later the Holy Spirit arrived and filled the new believers so that from then on they were no longer earth bound humans. They were instead wall-to-wall God birthed children of the Most High on a pilgrimage here with a mission to share their experience to be witnesses

There it is in a nutshell.  The word Gospel means “Good News” in old English.  So, when you get filled to overflowing with all the bad news the world vomits up every day why not turn to the good news.   

Don’t worry about what you can’t do anything about.  Do you think if you missed one news broadcast or if you stopped watching them for ever it would make any difference to what is happening on the stage of the world or would the actors just keep reading their lines and playing their parts?  The bad news impacts us more than we can ever impact it. 

It’s like a joke making the rounds: 

An English asks an Amish fellow, “Why isn’t the COVID rampaging through your communities?”  The Amish fellow says without hesitation, “Because we don’t have any TVs.” 

The TVs, radios, magazines, and papers may carry the news, but only the Bible has the Good News.  It all comes down to choices: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  In other words no matter what, we’re all going to serve somebody.  It will either be any one of the countless gods of this world or the one true God. 

How do you make that choice?  Is it by joining the right church?  Is it by attending the correct services, worshipping in a certain way, or following any of the endless rules the world invents to complicate and build a barrier between us and the God who wants us to join His family?  No!  Not only has He made it simple He has made it easy.  All we need to do is confess Jesus as the Lord of our life and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead and we will be saved.  That’s it.  Do that and we have joined God’s family.  Then we can pour ourselves into His Word so that it’s life-giving Spirit will fill us and recreate us.   

Forget about the bad news and study the Good News instead. Let’s “Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t with mess mister in between.” 

Or to put it another way, “Turn your 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.” 

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 

What’s All This “In” Christ Business About?  August 31, 2020

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Sometimes we born-again believers talk in such a closed-circuit Christianese dialect that baby believers, old line denominational members, let alone your everyday garden variety sinner has no idea what we’re talking about.  We throw around words that carry massive meaning to us but sound like in-crowd jargon to those hearing them from the outside.

Propitiation, justification, and salvation are all words that trip up nonbelievers as they tiptoe around the cross.  Then there are phrases we think say it all that leave those we want to reach scratching their heads and standing off instead of kneeling down.  Phrases such as:  substitutionary death, pleading the blood, I’m born-again, I’m Filled with the Holy Ghost, and here’s one that throws them all, in Christ.

A dictionary will help with the words.  The phrases usually take a little time in fellowship with others to sort out and understand.  I can’t try to explain them all here, but I will try to address one of the most cryptic phrases to the uninitiated, in Christ.

“In Him.”  This is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and of the whole New Testament.  It’s a central teaching and a foundational truth.  If for some reason this sounds strange to your ears or is a new concept study to show yourself approved.  We should follow the example of some early believers who upon hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

We can’t allow our development as believers to be the responsibility of anyone else.  Yes, it’s good and advisable to have teachers and mentors; however, we can’t rely on them alone.  In his letter to the Philippians Paul told them to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and this is advice that we should also take to heart.

This major theme echoes through the New Testament: we are “in” Christ.  Thousands of years after it was first presented to humanity it continues to ricochet through this verse into our spirit.  The born-again believer resonates like a tuning fork to this life-giving message.  The message, “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,” floods down the corridors of time like an avalanche of hope.

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the living parable of love for all to see.

The birth of Jesus set forth in scripture, is a graphic portrayal of prophecy fulfilled.  The Incarnation is the union of deity and humanity.  It was divine love’s invasion into the realm of human selfishness.  That which had been foretold for millennia finally arrived.  Or as the author of Hebrews tells us, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

This invasion wasn’t by an army of angels though it could’ve been.  It wasn’t by raising up Israel to conquer the world and imposing belief in the One True God by force though that could’ve happened.  Instead this invasion took the form of a tiny, defenseless Baby born in a manger on the poor side of town.

His parents called Him Jesus and His name has filled hearts and souls of humanity with songs and praise ever since.  The love brought by God through this one birth has given hope to the defeated, healing to the sick, liberty to those in bondage, and salvation to all who confess Him as Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.

All this is based upon the finished work of Christ.  This finished work is the ultimate revelation of divine love.  Jesus gave His life freely in place of ours.  He voluntarily became sin in our place so that we could become the very righteousness of God.

And we become that righteousness when we claim our place as a part of the body of Christ, the church so that when we stand before God He doesn’t see our sins and our shortcomings, instead He sees the absolute righteousness of His own Son.  This is how we can stand before a holy God with no sense of shame, guilt, or inadequacy.

The New Testament describes this well, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one-part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one-part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.  You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.”

And this is what we mean by being “in” Christ.  We have accepted our place as a member, or part of Christ’s mystical body: the church.  It is no longer we who live but Christ lives in us and through us.  And now that we know, let’s go forth and be all that God has called us to be, let’s allow Christ to live in us as we live in Him.  Let’s allow Him to reach through us and minister to a world in need.

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

 

 

 

How Do I Get To Heaven? August 20, 2020

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Many people believe they can find their own way to heaven.  They think they can figure it out on their own.  That’s sort of like trying to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.  I’ve often offered a one-hundred-dollar bill to anyone who can do that.  I still have that hundred-dollar bill.

Some people think they’ll get to heaven by being a good enough person.  Some may even fool others into thinking they’ve accomplished it.  But in our heart-of-hearts we all know who we are and where we’re lacking in this department.

Some think they’ll have the “Christ” experience and transcend from the normal to the paranormal.  I once attended a church that started preaching this as doctrine.  Instead of rising into the heavenlies they descended into blatant sin and error calling that which was bad good and good bad.

Some think that belonging to the “Right” church, following the “Right” rules and the “Right” regulations will do the trick.  Others follow philosophy, psychology, or sociology, biology or some other “ology.”  Still others think that education will enlighten them to the point of revelation or evolution will grow them into the presence of God.  We can’t think our way to God.  He’s bigger than our mind can conceive or our intelligence can comprehend.

Then again, some don’t even believe in God.  Some think they can accept or reject Christ, ignore God and still end up with God when they die.  An old saying goes, “You don’t prepare for heaven by raising hell here on earth.”  Some think someone else is going to pray them into heaven.  And then there are those who think there are many paths to heaven.  Another old saying goes, “I know there is no Heaven and I pray there is no Hell.”

Some treat Jesus as just one of many avatars along with Buddha and Muhammed.  But when they do this, they call Jesus a liar and how could a liar be a reliable spiritual guide.  Because Jesus doesn’t mince words, He claims to be the only way to heaven, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

To understand this and to appropriate its power into our lives we need to take a leap of faith.  We need to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.   For as the passage continues, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”   Those who reject the claims of Jesus say, “Show it to me and I’ll believe.”  However, the way it works is: believe and you will see.

These scoffers might want to check the company they keep.  When Christ hung on the cross paying the penalty for sin the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees laughed at him saying, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Before we can stand on solid enough ground to take such a great leap of faith we need to arrive at certain realizations.

First, we must realize that God is a person.  By this I mean He is a personal God not just a “Force.”  Some believe that the mere idea of personhood when applied to God implies some sort of limitation and therefore should never be applied to what is supposed to be an omnipotent and omnipresent reality.

I think this belief arises because these people unknowingly agree with a statement by the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things.”  This is usually interpreted to mean that the individual human being, rather than a god or an unchanging moral law, is the ultimate source of value.  This belief is taught and ingrained throughout our modern Godless education system to the point that when most people graduate from secondary school this forms part of their subconscious foundation of so-called “Common Sense.”

Based on this erroneous belief people assume since our personalities are limited therefore, personality in and of itself is limited.  This, however, is wrong.  We are a flawed example.  God is the only perfect personality, and though He is endless in all ways we are but a pale reflection.

This realization of God’s personhood is vitally important.  Without this knowledge it’s impossible to be convinced of His utter supremacy.  If God is not a person how can we sin against Him?  And if instead of sinning against a person we are merely violating the rules of some system, that sounds like something we should be able to appeal.  If there’s no sin and we’re either working with the “Force” or against the” Force” we might ask, “Is there only one Force or are there multiple “Forces” out there?”   And if there are multiple “Forces” can we chose to be ruled by one that supports our lifestyle choices, so we don’t work against it?

This type of thinking easily becomes circular and leads to philosophical tail chasing.

When we acknowledge that God is a person we’re almost assuredly convicted of our sins.  We instinctively realize that there’s no way for us to measure up to the holiness of God.  We understand intuitively that there is a barrier created by our abject unworthiness and God’s all Holy presence.  Anyone who recognizes the vastness of the gulf between our sinfulness and God’s sinlessness sees that we need to be forgiven if we stand any chance of ever entering His divine presence.

Conversely, if we deny God’s personhood it’s easy to fall prey to the spirit-of-the-age and its apparently easy going, “I’m Okay You’re Okay” attitude.  Everything is beautiful.  Who needs forgiveness if there is no personal God and there is no sin?

The true message of Christian evangelism is to the sinner: the one who is conscious of God.  If there is no acknowledgement of God as a person as an individual separate reality the word of God will fall like seeds on the street that birds quickly snatch up and take away.

As a former atheist I can personally attest to the fact that unless and until we come to an acknowledgement of God as a personal reality there’s no way that we can be open to the Gospel.  To the sinner who faces his total inability to approach a Holy God the first and foremost message of the cross is, “You’re forgiven through His sacrifice and grace.”

And that’s how we get to Heaven.

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

 

 

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 

 

 

  

 

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