Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What's It All About?

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:8-11)

For many in America, these words are at least somewhat familiar. But for a growing segment, this knowledge does not come from the original source of New Testament Scripture. Instead, it originates from, of all places, a musical cartoon special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. A Charlie Brown Christmas made its debut in 1965 and has been a seasonal favorite for almost a half century with young and old alike.

But near the program's conclusion, little Linus slowly makes his way to center stage, calls for a spot light, and quotes the above passage verbatim. He then concludes by turning to his distraught friend and uttering his now famous line, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." And indeed it is!

With all of the wonderful Christmas movies and specials each year, this short cartoon was pure genius in its simplicity and has reminded viewers about the supreme reason for the season: Christ came to die for sinners. It helped share what one seasonal song spoke of in its perceptive title, A Cradle in the Shadow of a Cross.

Linus' flawless recital of the true meaning of Christmas concluded with Luke 2:14. "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

We trust you are today glorifying God and fully at peace with the One who came via that lowly manger en route to that rugged cross in order to offer Himself as the supreme sacrifice for you and for me!

Have a merry and very blessed Christmas!

Bill Breckenridge

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pearl Harbor and Reconciliation

December 7 marks the 73rd anniversary of the brutal Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a day which would “live in infamy” as President Franklin Roosevelt called it while urging Congress for a declaration of war. American casualties were unequaled until the savage attacks of 9/11. Sadly, many will spend the day without any thought of the significance of the day.

Lost in the obscurity of the years are two key figures whose lives would later intersect miraculously in the will of God. We share their story as we have in previous years because it serves as an amazing illustration of God's wonderful saving grace.

Captain Mitsuo Fuchida led the attack on Pearl Harbor, exulting in the deadly carnage done for his emperor-god. He was the only Japanese officer to survive World War II despite breaking both legs in a sea accident and exposure to the radiation-contaminated ashes of Hiroshima. His post-war days were spent farming, but his soul was empty.

Staff Sgt. Jacob DeShazer dropped bombs on Osaka in the surprise U.S. retaliation attack on Japanese cities led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle in April 1942. As one of "Doolittle's Raiders", Jake was the bombardier on plane #16, the last one off the carrier USS Hornet. He was captured after parachuting into Japanese-held territory in China and was imprisoned by Japan for 40 months. Hatred for his torturing captors turned to love when he read in the Bible of Christ’s forgiveness through the Cross, and he pledged that if he survived the war he would return to Japan as a missionary. Jake kept his vow, and returned to Japan, where he spent 30 years preaching the Christ he once ignored.

After reading a tract telling DeShazer’s story given to him by other American missionaries, Mitsuo Fuchida bought a Bible, read of Christ’s death for him, and accepted Christ as his Savior. He went to meet Jake DeShazer to publicly profess Christ. The two former bitter enemies in war became brothers in Christ and lifelong friends. As a team, they evangelized Japan and saw thousands come to Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:15-17

David Virkler has written an article entitled "The Amazing Grace of World War II" that recounts the full story of Mitsuo Fuchida, Jacob DeShazer and Jimmy Doolittle. Read this stirring account on our website.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

7 Reasons For Chronic Unhappiness

Tamara Star is the creator of the 40-day personal reboot for women. She is a life coach, speaker, and writer. And she recently authored an interesting article on her blog, Daily Transformations, having a title that seems self-explanatory and quite intriguing. She called the piece, ‘7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People’.

In her article Star writes, “There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day. We all have bad days, even weeks, when we fall down in all seven areas. The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.”

She then goes on to list, and comment upon, the 7 habits or traits she feels are why some people are unhappy most all of the time. Here are just the titles alone:

1. Your default belief is that life is hard.
2. You believe most people can't be trusted.
3. You concentrate on what's wrong versus what's right.
4. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.
5. You strive to control your life.
6. You consider your future with worry and fear.
7. You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.

Even without much serious consideration, it appears that this author has put her finger on the main issues that explain why so many have a negative attitude about life in general. She has covered ‘nearly’ every base quite well and each reason seems logical. And it would even seem that the majority of the above reasons might be found together in most unhappy people to one degree or another. But with that said, there are just one or two things that should be added to this sad set of depressing attitudes.

First, there is absolutely no mention of God or anything spiritual in the group. Those who have God in their lives, via Jesus Christ, have been given a new heart and a whole new set of coping skills to deal with life when it is hard. Christians are promised what the Bible calls the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5:22. These icluded love, joy, peace and patience among other things. And they are told in Philippians chapter four to think on those things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, and positive! Mediating on these kinds of things, versus all the possible negatives, is an antidote to the list mentioned above.

Then too, there is one other item that should be number 9 on the list but was obviously absent. There is no mention at all of any thankfulness for anything or for any reason. In Hebrews 13:15-16 we read, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” And Paul records in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Life is hard and sometimes extremely hard. Everyone goes through difficulties, suffering and disappointment. And it is easy to become ‘chronically unhappy’ and stay parked there. But Christians should not and must not do so. They can do far better. They alone possess a new heart in Christ and the opportunity to be thankful to God for His salvation, blessings and the motivation to do good to others in His name. For believers, the many good things from God should outweigh the bad things from this life.

Basically, it becomes somewhat difficult to remain unhappy when one is in Christ, walking with Christ, thanking Christ and serving Christ. So numbers 1-7 on the misery list are interesting and again even understandable on some levels.  But these two new numbers just added offer something more - something superior! They offer God’s alternative pathway to joy, hope, peace and a brighter outlook even in an increasingly darkening world.

According to God's word chronic unhappiness is not God's choosing, but rather our choice!

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honoring Heroes of War and Faith

David Virkler's thoughts on Veterans Day 2010 are worth repeating, so we are re-posting them today.

Veterans Day focuses on honoring those who have served our military, many of them giving their lives to defend America in war and peace. Newspapers and TV feature gripping stories of military survivors whose memories recall gallant service and not a few recounting their fellow soldiers’ deaths in tortured battles around the globe.

Formerly called Armistice Day but renamed after World War II, Veterans Day recalls the end of World War I when, on November 11, the armistice became official in a railroad car at 11:00 AM in a French forest in 1918. Many observe a two-minute silence at precisely 11:00 AM each November 11.

As Veterans Day approached, my wife and I realized our outdoor flags had worn out and not been replaced. It would be a tragic oversight not to replace them by November 11. I bought two new flags at our local hardware store - one for our residence and the other for the Dedication Evangelism headquarters building next door.

It took much longer to put up the flags than I had planned, and I was tempted to complain and fret over the delay as other important business was waiting. But then I thought, “Why am I distressed over these few minutes when brave men and women have fought and died so I can live in freedom and preach the Gospel? Shame on me!”

All this eventually turned my attention to God’s memorial passages of the Bible. One is Hebrews 6:10, where we find, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 11 is an entire chapter honoring spiritual warriors who fought the Lord’s spiritual battles in faith. Some were prominent Bible figures, such as Abel, Noah, Abraham and Moses. Others were obscure, remote figures whose life flitted past with scarcely a lingering notice, such as Barak and Jephthah. (Read up on them in Judges 4, 5, 11 and 12.)

All heroes of faith are memorialized in God’s record books, even those who merely frequently fellowship in the Lord. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16 & 17)

Human peace agreements are only temporary given the warring, uncontrollable nature of sinful man. When Hitler came to power to begin WWII and crushed France, French officials were forced to sign a surrender armistice in that same rail car parked in that identical spot in the French forest on June 22, 1940.

However, in Christian theology, our surrender becomes our permanent freedom. Calling on the Name of the Lord brings salvation as Romans 10:13 declares. In Christ we yield and are liberated forever. John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Romans 5:1 reaffirms it: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

November 11 will pass and veterans may be forgotten for another year, but we are never forgotten by “the captain of [our] salvation” (Heb. 2:10). “God is not unjust to forget….”

Dave Virkler

Monday, November 3, 2014

How Important Is Your Vote?

Tuesday is an important mid-term election in the U.S. The results of some key races could shift the majority in the Senate from Democrat to Republican. A number of gubernatorial races are also taking place. State and local races and public questions are also on the ballot.

Christians must pay special attention to some basic issues regarding political involvement, especially as it relates to elections. Understanding these issues will affect the political behavior of each American citizen.

Following are excerpts from the article “Political Q&A” by David Virkler. These are questions that you or others may have asked. The answers may surprise you.

Q: What is the most important “political” verse in the Bible?

I believe the most important “political” verse is Luke 20:25, where Christ said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (see also Mark 12:17 and Matt. 22:21). He could have said to render just to Caesar, thereby endorsing a secular state, to render only to God indicating a theocracy, or to Caesar and God together indicating a church state. However, Christ said to render to each their due indicating that there is a difference between church and state. This is most closely approximated in the United States.

Q: Who or what is “Caesar” in the United States?

In Bible times, Caesar represented the highest political authority. In the United States, the highest political authority is the Constitution. Our constitution makes the people the government. In rendering to Caesar (the Constitution), we give to the common good through personal involvement.

Q: How many social institutions did God ordain?

There are three institutions ordained by God—the family (Genesis 2:21-24), the church (Acts 2) and government (Romans 13:1-7).

Q: Are civil servants ordained ministers?

Yes. In Romans 13, Paul says that “higher powers” are “ordained of God” (vs. 1) and a ruler is a “minister of God” (vs. 4).

Q: On what Bible verse is our three-part system of government based?

It is thought to be based on Isaiah 33:22, where the Lord is called “our judge” (judicial), “our lawgiver” (legislative) and “our king” (executive).

Q: Is it possible to be an American and not be involved in politics?

No. Everyone is involved in politics regardless of whether we vote. If we pay taxes, send children to public schools, drive on public roads, accept police protection, allow ministers to marry with state authority, accept government assistance or scholarships or say the Pledge of Allegiance, we are politically involved. If religious institutions grant state-authorized degrees, place the U.S. and Christian flags together in church or accept tax exemption, they, too, are politically involved.

Q: What are the general Biblical areas of political participation?

The Bible indicates four areas of involvement:

Precedent – God governed as dictator in Old Testament times. Daniel and Joseph rose to high positions in pagan governments. Jeremiah 29:7 enjoins prayer for the well-being of pagan societies that believers might be blessed.

Passive – This is outlined in the previous question.

Prayer – God’s Word commands that we pray “for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1 & 2). “All men” is the electorate. “All that are in authority” includes any elected or appointed official, even those with whom we don’t agree.

Personal – Paul accepted and appealed to Roman protection as a Roman citizen (Acts 21:35) and as a means to evangelism in Europe (Acts 25:10-12).

Q: Does it really matter if Christians vote? Does a single vote count?

Yes! But even if it did not, obedience to God and “Caesar” dictates that we should register and vote.

In his 1981 inaugural address, Ronald Reagan declared, “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

The prophet Ezekiel recounted how one person would have made a difference in God’s judgment of Israel. “And I (God) sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads….” (Ezekiel 22:30, 31)

God thinks one person is important. Shouldn’t we?

Click here to read the full article on our website. Print copies are also available on request.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Good News

Headlines these days are filled with news of disease, terrorism, war, politics, shootings, scandals, and persecution. Many people wonder, “Is anything going right these days?” Yes, something is going very right. It might not make headlines or the cable news shows, but God is at work, and the Gospel continues to change lives. Consider these encouraging reports we recently received from several organizations:

Interlocking Ministries partners with pastors and churches in Kenya to help reach men, women and children for Christ. They support and minister through children’s camping programs, discipleship training, school chapel programs, True Love Waits clubs, orphan and widow projects, and pastor’s and marriage conferences. During two weeks in September, Bobby Johnson and local pastors shared the Gospel message at six primary schools and six beach/market areas. The response was overwhelming with a total of about 2,000 children and adults indicating decisions for salvation. Interlocking Ministries is working with the local pastors to help in the discipleship of these precious new believers.

On Eagles’ Wings is a ministry of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries and has been reaching Native American young people with the Gospel for over 20 years. Each summer, teams made up of Native youth who have found hope in Jesus Christ travel to reservations where addiction, abuse, suicide, gangs and poverty are a way of life. This summer, 55 On Eagles’ Wings team members from 33 tribes shared their personal testimonies at outreach events on nine reservations. A total of 778 Native Americans responded to the Gospel message. Local pastors, missionaries and Native believers will be following up on each decision.

On Eagles’ Wings also hosts an annual Warrior Leadership Summit discipleship conference. WLS was created to encourage and equip Native young people who want to grow in their faith and make a difference for Jesus Christ. At this year’s conference, hundreds of Native youth from across the country attended, and many gave their hearts to Christ.

All About Jesus Ministries is the prison outreach ministry of Mark and Gloria Chapman (yes, that Mark Chapman – the man who shot John Lennon). Though separated by thousands of miles, Mark and his wife have been faithfully serving the Lord through the ministry they founded 10 years ago. Many may not know that Mark recommitted his life to Christ in prison and is a vibrant believer. AAJM partners with prison chaplains to share the Gospel through the free distribution of literature that includes Mark’s personal testimony (in English and Spanish).

Earlier this year, they received word that 15,000 brochures were distributed in prisons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 25 prisoners gave their lives to Christ as a result of reading Mark's testimony. Prison ministries in other African countries report similar results and are requesting thousands more brochures.

Every two years, Mark comes up for parole. At every hearing, he gives his personal testimony, which becomes part of the official transcript available for anyone to read. Mark did that again in August. Even though parole is always denied, Mark rejoices in the opportunities God has given him to share the Gospel with other prisoners.

These spiritual victories are just the tip of the evangelism iceberg. Countless servants of God are faithfully sharing the Gospel and making disciples in nearly every corner of the world. Whether it’s one, a dozen, hundreds, or thousands, every decision to trust Christ for salvation is good news that’s worth reporting and worth rejoicing over (Luke 15:7)!

Gayle Virkler

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pastor Appreciation Month

The month of October is a strikingly beautiful one in certain parts of the country. It is certainly that here in North Jersey in particular. It is the time we say farewell, for a while, to a stretch of beauty only equaled perhaps in Spring when the earth again awakens to the colors of creation and once more and the reminder of the power and imagination of the Creator.

There are of course other aspects of this month that occur each year like various holidays and assorted other observances along the way. But one such event does not receive nearly enough attention – even in the very places that should honor it the most.

What is being referred to is known as Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Month. It started in 1994 when a Christian organization wanted to celebrate their pastors, families and the pastoral staff in tangible ways. They agreed that pastors should be celebrated all year but set aside a month to focus more on just them. There is a biblical basis for doing so as seen in 1 Timothy 5:17. "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." This has been acted upon by one of the more well known organizations in all of Christendom as stated on their website:

“Focus on the Family believes in the significant role that pastors and their families play in the local church and community; therefore, we gladly celebrate and promote Clergy Appreciation Month. Clergy appreciation is emphasized in October, but we want to encourage you to celebrate, honor and affirm your pastor all year long. Often pastors and their families feel isolated and burnt out—often wondering if what they do makes a difference. As a ministry, we want to come alongside them and be their 'Aaron' in this generation. We want to encourage and support them, help shoulder their burdens, strengthen their families, ignite their faith and applaud their efforts.”

Also, Lifeway ministry share on their website some practical ideas on how to be involved in a worthy form of ministry by laymen (www.lifeway.com). They share 10 unique ways to get involved along theses lines.

The Bible reveals, in no uncertain terms, what the primary role of any pastor to be. In 2 Timothy 4:2-3, we find the command, “Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.”

That is the main task of the shepherd of a local flock of believers. Other things, although important, are secondary to this eternally crucial matter. But what then is the duty of those who sit under a pastor’s teaching and ministry? That is spelled out in Hebrews 13:17. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Think about that! How many will ever give account for the spiritual development of others except those called to pastoral ministry? It’s a weighty responsibility to say the least!

God knew full well the impact that could be made by faithful preachers of His word in a local body. And He knew also how difficult that task can be and how these same servants would need an occasional pat on the back to carry out their eternally valuable task. So if possible do something, anything, this month to be the embodiment of making the role of your pastor be one of joy and success as Hebrews 13:7 exhorts!

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Drive Through What?

Just went you think you have heard of almost everything, something somehow arises to change that. And this time, I’m not sure whether it is good, bad, or both? At first, I thought it was a prank. Then, upon finding it was real, I though it was terrible. But lastly, there may actually be some value – limited though it might be.

The article described a so-called "convenience" that has been in use in Saginaw, Michigan and, I believe, a few other locations as well. It was constructed at a funeral home there and is being used by those who visit the establishment. There is no other way to describe it other than to say what it really is - a literal drive-thru viewing window for the mourners of some deceased friend or relative.

Here is what was said in the online article: “Paradise Funeral Chapel has installed a window that displays a body set up in a special area inside the building with a raised and tilted platform for  the casket. Curtains over the window automatically open when a car pulls up, and mourners get three  minutes to view a body as music plays overhead. There also a deposit opening for leaving donations, cards or memory items. And behind a door is a retractable guest book that the traveling mourners can sign.”

Deceased drive-thru giving? Now maybe you have also heard of almost everything too. Even now I’m not sure what I really think.

To start with, there is some potential good. This can probably be helpful to a few who are too elderly to attend a viewing. But with that said, I cannot help but wonder how such a "convenience" will not be taken advantage of and abused by those looking for an easy way out and wanting to avoid personal contact at an awkward and difficult time. This option is so very easy to use even when not needed.

There are just some things in life that just should not have short cuts available or made so easy as to not require any energy or sacrifice at all. As is often true, those things that require the most effort and dedication are the same things that are valued most and often most worth while.

This is likewise true in the spiritual realm. The Bible tells us that Jesus, the Creator God, humbled Himself to the point of death and even a form of death that was the most humiliating and painful there could possibly be – and that was just the physical aspect of it!

Just before his crucifixion, although in great agony, He refused the easy way out. "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) And during the execution, He again revealed His total commitment to the task by refusing to do what those around Him tempted Him to. “Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” (Matthew 27:42)

Had the Lord taken an easier path and not fully experienced death for us all, we would have no way to be forgiven. The Bible is clear that there is one way – and one way only – to be saved. There is no short cutting of that fact!

Lastly, for those who are in God’s family, there is no easy road to instant spiritual maturity. The New Testament repeatedly commands believers to grow in the faith and to become loyal disciples of their Savior. This requires effort and discipline even though salvation comes from God’s grace and is a free gift. Those who avoid paying the required price to grow will not honor the Lord or become like Him as Scripture commands. Alternatives and quick fixes are always inappropriate and fairly useless.

All who are "presented" in their caskets at this drive-thru establishment are now in eternity. Their fate is sealed one way or another. But any who opt to drive by to pay their respects still have one of two spiritual routes to travel on before their own death arrives. What matters then is not what kind of box we are in, how or where it is viewed, or even if there is no box at all. What means everything is how God views the soul and how each soul views Christ. What matters ultimately is whether or not God’s gaze upon us at life's end is forever filtered through the saving blood of His Son’s cross.

How does He view you right now? Are you today attempting endless and meaningless short cuts? Or are you traveling God's prescribed pathway to a guaranteed heavenly home later and to a spiritually mature Christian experience now? Amazingly, the Bible reveals that we can – and should – know how God views our hearts today and forever. (Hebrews 4:13)

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A True Survivor of Survivors

He is not from some bizarre reality TV show, but is the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor. His first name is Israel, indeed interesting considering what the target was for one of the most brutally memorable events in all of human history. At his recent birthday he turned an amazing 111 years old. That is a long time to live and to witness so very much – even though some of what he saw and experienced firsthand was beyond horrific!

Israel Krysztal was born in Poland, was an orphan, and was eventually sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. Although he would survive the horrors there, his wife, who was also with him, did not.

With the arrival of this latest birthday, the Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club organized a birthday party because they were very moved by Israel’s life story. The team has apparently been honoring other Jews who likewise suffered in the Holocaust. At the celebration, the team presented him with a jersey bearing the number 111. No doubt he will have his number upgraded for every additional year he lives.

The actions of the Holocaust represent mankind at its very worst. Few things in recent history are its evil equivalent. It was sin personified and one of Satan’s greatest victories against humanity and God. It was so inconceivable that some today still deny its reality and levels of brutality. These believe that men could in no way do such unspeakable things to others. But, with Satan in control and calling the shots, anything is possible. Such things are a vivid proof of man’s terrible fall back in the Garden of Eden and into uncontrollable sin.

But that is not the end of the story. There was someone else who came to deal with sin – all sin. That includes the extent at Auschwitz and also those small sins that seem almost silly in comparison. But they are not silly at all in the eyes of a holy God whose Son was sacrificed for even these lesser acts. Without Christ’s victory, the human race would have nothing but misery and death. What He did as God and Savior is summed up well in Romans 5:21. "But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus Christ did not come to just do good and set an example – although He did obviously that. But He came primarily for what is written in 1 John 3:8. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” And yet some will always think, "Then why did the Holocaust occur? Why the killing fields of Cambodia? Why the carnage of modern day radical Islam? And even why all the smaller examples of evil that regularly dominate the average news show?" These are understandable questions based on this verse alone.

But Christ has indeed destroyed the works of the Devil, but not totally for now on everyday terms. He did so by defeating Satan’s grip of sin and its deadly consequences on the entire race. "He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) Christ defeated Satan because mankind could be saved, freed and able to withstand the so-called "wiles" of the adversary. (Acts 2:21, Ephesians 6)

And the Devil is eternally defeated in the long run. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) Satan may trouble the world for a while, but His ultimate power has been officially broken and his future officially certain and sealed.

Not many will physically live to see age 111 or even close. But everyone’s soul will live on forever. The only relevant question is whether we will reside in the darkness of hell with the one who deceives or in the light and glory of heaven with the One who delivers? (1 Corinthians 6:20) The final outcome depends solely on how we respond to Christ’s victory over sin and His defeat over Satan through the cross. There are only two available options, and each of us, at life's end, will have chosen either carefully or very foolishly!

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Today's Non-Christian Worldview

Recently I read an article from crosswalk.com. The title was what first grabbed my attention. It read, "A Peek Inside the Non-Christian Worldview". When I "peeked" through the 2-page piece, I was not disappointed, and I was thankful for the fine summary on a frustrating subject.

It basically provided a concise summary of how America’s original Christian foundations have given way over time to an ever-growing  anti-God philosophy. The author, who originally published her work in Home Educating Family Magazine, stated how those now promoting this non-biblical way of life were formerly in the minority and thus had far less influence on culture. But that has all changed, and their destructive attitudes are now coming from all spheres of society including from our most powerful and trusted institutions.

The author states about this wretched reality, “Acts that were until very recently too shameful to even speak of, are defended, promoted, and celebrated as virtuous.” How very true, and how utterly tragic that is!

She also admits how difficult it is to fight against this tide of godlessness that has now become a literal tidal wave of wickedness. And yet she admonished Christians to fight on despite where the attacks come from or how large they may be. That logic is certainly substantiated by Scripture in verses like Ephesians 5:11. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” The believer is not only to avoid all evil, but also to campaign against it. Both sides of the coin are equally God’s will.

At the conclusion of the article, a solution is offered – the Biblical one. In a word, it is simply "truth". It is the absolute light of God’s living and powerful Word that can shine through the darkness now chipping away at this nation’s former spiritual roots. The author concludes, “There is a power in the truth that is greater than the power of the media or the courts or the schools or Washington.” Again, how true, only this time how encouraging and comforting!

Hopefully, as part of God’s spiritual army, we can understand the battle we all face and gain the inspiration and boldness to join in His war against evil and to liberate the precious and priceless souls of men.

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Did 9/11 Change the World?

Another anniversary of 9/11 has rolled around, and it is hard to believe how much time has passed since the event that literally "changed the world". Anyone who has used an airport recently, or even had to deal with some agency that requires ID, can verify that. Some, even today, have flashbacks every time they look into a beautiful blue fall sky and see a lone aircraft slowly passing overhead. Yes, it was another day that will live on in infamy, and it did indeed change our world – but not totally.

Just after those horrific moments, America kicked into high gear on the so-called War on Terror. Most know what efforts were made, how much was spent, and how many precious lives were lost. And most know that the great effort to stem the tide of death, destruction and dominance was not completed and has even lost ground recently. That must be absolutely heartbreaking to those who fought in this worthy battle and for those that lost loved ones along the way.

That day back in 2001 changed our world in some ways, and, in other ways, much remains the same as the battle rages on with a new intensity. The brutality and determination of ISIS makes what we faced before look mild in comparison.

In reality, the only thing that will ever solve this entire mess is when hearts are changed by the events of another epic day. That day was long ago when Jesus Christ hung on a Roman cross and at His death there cried out, ”It is finished.” His completed sacrifice meant that the sins of the world were fully paid for and all had access to a new, clean and loving heart through faith in Him.

All men are born as lost sinners. And for that to change, they must also change, but on the inside. They must have a change of heart, something not really possible apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit. The God of the Bible commands that, after being saved, we then win the lost through love, and that applies for even those who attack or oppress us. We never demand conversion and acceptance through violence or force of any kind.

In Roman 12:19-21, we read what is the exact opposite philosophy of those now troubling the world and preying on countless innocent victims, many of whom are Christians.

"'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This attitude only makes sense in the context of true Christianity. It surely finds no place in the ideology of the radical terrorists now causing so much fear, carnage and suffering. The contrasts could not be more clear. One is based in love as evidenced by the cross, and the other is founded and focused on hate. One saw a Savior take His own life for others, and one takes others lives for its own means. One changes the world for good and peace, and the other for evil and terror. And one occurred precisely because of what being done through the sinful and selfish acts of the other.

Jesus Christ came to change the world, to change the impact of sin, and to change the consequences of evil. He came to change lost sinners to righteous saints and to change a frightening future to a blessed eternity. He came to change the hearts of all men through His grace. That includes you, me and even those who are ISIS.

“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Persecution On The Rise

In 2 Timothy 3:1, the Apostle Paul wrote, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come." Then in the following few verses he listed some of the many characteristics that would be displayed when this awful time in human history finally arrived. He revealed how many would become blasphemers, unholy, unloving, without self-control, brutal, and despisers of good.

It can be rightly said that life in a fallen world has always been accompanied by sin and evil – at times horrific evil. But this new century is seeing a rise in something exceptionally brutal. It is being seen worldwide through the mind-numbing actions of a specific religious group. They are now commonly referred to as "Militant Islam". And while the vast majority of those who adhere to this huge religion are not a part of this extreme and violent sect, those who are seem to be growing at an alarming rate, and their persecution of others is beyond frightening – especially for Christians of any brand.

This has been seen in two major stories from the last few months. One was the ordeal of Meriam Ibrahim. The wife, mom and physician was arrested in the Sudan and sentenced to receive 100 lashes and then later to be hanged to death. Her offense was simple. Despite being raised a Christian by her mom, her absentee father was a Muslim. This meant that her marriage to a Christian man was not allowed by Muslim law and she was thus committing adultery and blasphemy. Her captors keep her chained in prison with her young son even though she was pregnant. She would eventually give birth in chains before finally being released due to worldwide pressure. Her ordeal is over, and she is free and living in the United States. But the hatred that fueled it all still exists and gives an idea of the mindset of those that perpetrated the terrible act.

Then too, and on a larger scale, Christians in the Middle-East are being hunted, tortured and executed at a ferocious rate. This was brought to the forefront when a group of Christians were chased into a mountainous region in Iraq and persecuted in ways that defy the imagination. Some were beheaded, others crucified and families literally buried alive before the U.S. military intervened to stop the genocide. It is estimated that there are some 2 million refugees from that dangerous country who have done nothing but be and remain Christians. It is being fueled primarily by a terrorist group by the name of ISIS. Experts claim that this bunch is more radical, more powerful, better organized and financed than was al-Qaeda at its best. They make no apologies for their brutally and for their global goals – one of which is to put their flag upon America’s Capitol!

Hatred, violence and persecution is not new. But it is growing at an alarming rate in these "perilous last days". So what is at the core of the issue? Simply put, it is the cross of Jesus Christ and what that represents. In Galatians 5:11, Paul wrote about persecution and about the crucifixion being the foundational reason. “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” In that day, it was his fellow Jews joining the attack because the message of the cross irritated them because it required something radical of them – something they detested and rejected. But the foundation for the hatred back then is the exact same as it is today when Islam is involved. The names, faces and times are different, but the crime and its root cause are the equivalent. The message of the cross is exclusive, and therefore it is offensive! (Acts 4:12, 1 John 5:12, John 14:6)

In 2 Timothy 3:11-13, the Apostle Paul again spoke of being mistreated for his faith. But here he shared how any that followed Christ outwardly should expect like-wise. Speaking of the constant attacks leveled against him for his faith he wrote, “And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse.”

Then we also see Jesus’ own words on the subject in John 15:18-20. "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

Being persecuted may be painful, brutal and unjust. But it is also normal and can be a sign of a believer living fully and outwardly for his or her Lord. And those who never ever feel any resistance along these lines should take spiritual inventory as to whether or not they ever display their Savior in any public meaningful way.

The days are indeed "perilous" and more for some than for others, of course. Satan seems to be moving full-throttle against God and His redeemed people. He has found his army of choice and provided them with an ancient hatred that causes them to do anything to hinder and destroy the church of Christ in these "last days". Pray for those of the faith that are suffering beyond we can really grasp. And be thankful that you have been spared this unimaginable fate – for now. And ponder the possibility that we may stand before God someday and give an account of what we did on behalf of our blood-bought spiritual family members who stood firm in the face of an agony from which we were graciously spared.

As far as the wicked, who now inflict pain and misery on God’s people, do not repay evil with evil. (Romans 12:21) Instead, pray for their hearts to be changed through the One they now curse and seek to destroy. And, as hard as it might be when evil seems to triumph, remember the chilling words of Hebrews 10:30 & 31. "'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. ... It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, August 1, 2014

Immigration Issues: Now and Forever

Illegal immigration has always been a difficult issue. Now it’s worse. The rising influx of illegal immigrants to the United States has burdened a system that is already overwhelmed financially, in manpower and in the courts.

Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central American countries are illegally crossing America’s southern border adding to an already existing illegal immigration problem. A number of the children have been placed in temporary housing with a parent or relative who will care for them until their cases are heard, but many remain in facilities without even an adequate number of beds.

There is endless debate about whether this is an immigration crisis or a humanitarian one, and the issue does not look like it will be resolved any time soon. Congress and the President have both vowed to take action, but the process is slowed by partisan bickering.

Whatever the outcome, the immigration crisis highlights some spiritual parallels.

Every one of us is on earth temporarily. This world is not our final home, and we are all travelers seeking an eternal residence with the hope of something better beyond this life. For those who have accepted Christ as Savior, that home is Heaven, which is reached when a believer dies or when Christ returns to take His church to be with Himself. For those who don’t know Christ, the border is closed and there is no entrance.

The proper documents allow immigrants to enter a country legally and afford them the opportunity to make a new life there. Illegal aliens live with the constant fear of deportation and rarely have the opportunity to make a better life. Likewise, having the proper “paperwork” is the only way to obtain eternal life. Only those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life gain entrance to Heaven and enjoy its benefits forever.

John described the scene that will take place when the official spiritual documents are examined. “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life … there shall be no means enter [heaven] anything that defiles…but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 20:12; 21:27)

Many immigrants become U.S. citizens after coming to America. Citizenship offers advantages including the right to vote, financial aid, federal benefits, and permanent residency. In Christ, believers are citizens of the heavenly kingdom even before we arrive there. The Apostle Paul wrote of believers, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) Because of this citizenship, believers enjoy benefits in addition to eternal life that are not available to non-citizens including God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5), God’s care (Luke 12:22-31), answered prayer (John 16:23), and, most importantly, permanent citizen status (John 10:28, 29).

For most illegal immigrants, nothing short of amnesty will allow them to stay in the U.S. legally. In His death on the cross, Jesus Christ provided the “amnesty” that allows our permanent residence in Heaven. Forgiveness of the sin that separates us from God is available to any who accept it (Romans 10:13).

While the President, Congress and political pundits debate the pros and cons of immigration legislation, deportation and amnesty, there is no debate on residency status in Heaven. Scripture is quite clear. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (hell, eternal punishment)” (Rev. 20:15).

A person who is truly born again can never be “deported” from God’s kingdom. Christ said, “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). Accept Christ now so that your eternal home is secure.

Gayle Virkler

If you are not sure if Heaven will be your eternal home, click here for more information.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Will There Be Peace in Israel?

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has ancient roots. Will there ever be peace? Following is an excerpt from “Israel: What You Need to Know” by David M. Virkler:

The heart of the conflict basically boils down to two opposing ideas. For the Israelis, the issue is their right to exist as a nation. For the Palestinians, it is the desire to see Israel cease to exist as a nation.

The trouble goes back much farther than the current conflict or previous uprisings and even farther than 1948. The present situation is fulfillment of an astounding prophecy tucked away in Genesis 16. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, panicked and thought God’s promise of a child needed her human help. She gave Hagar, her Egyptian maid, to Abraham as a wife, and Ishmael was born. Hagar’s pride over her child-bearing resulted in friction between the two women, and Hagar and Ishmael were sent away into the wilderness. There, God sustained them and gave a promise of relative greatness for Ishmael and his progeny. There would be a problem, however. “He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12)

The descendents of Isaac and Ishmael—today’s Jews and Arabs—would live together, but they would not get along. This conflict may be mitigated from time to time, but it will not be eliminated until the millennial reign of Christ when Israel, Egypt and Assyria will join in worship of God (Isaiah 19:24).

Eventually, there will be peace in Israel, but it will be false peace. Antichrist will convince the Jews to accept his leadership. He will confirm a previously-made covenant likely among Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and, yes, the Palestinians (Daniel 9:24-27). Antichrist will break this pact after three and a half years, and then, literally, all hell will break loose (Revelation 6:8).

Following the seven-year Great Tribulation, Christ will return to earth. His feet will touch the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount (Zechariah 14:2-4). He will rule in Jerusalem after the world’s armies are destroyed there, and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Only then will there be a true peace in Israel.

God told Abraham, “I will bless those who you, And I will curse those who curse you.” (Gen. 12:3) Israel has a unique place in the plan of God, and many evangelical organizations in the United States have this concept as a basic plank in their denominational outlook. We in America have likely been blessed because of our country’s position as Israel’s ally. Pray for wisdom for our government’s leaders that they not abandon that view and our blessing be lost.

The events in the Middle East clearly indicate that the stage is being set for the rapture of the Church (I Thessalonians 4:16 & 17) and subsequent seven-year Tribulation. We must be ready to meet the Lord at any moment, and we must be diligently about the business of winning lost souls for Christ.

Psalm 122 enjoins us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Verses 6-8 say, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”

Real peace in Israel will come only through her Messiah—our Savior, Jesus Christ. Rejecting the Messiah meant a missed peace for the people of Israel. Until our prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is fully answered in the Millennial rule of Christ, personal peace is available to any individual by receiving Him as Savior. Trusting Christ gives us the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When people respond to Christ inwardly, they can promote peace outwardly. “For He Himself is our peace, who…has broken down the middle wall of separation…that He might reconcile…both to God in one body through the cross….” (Eph. 2:14, 16)

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, do so today! In a world where peace is often temporary, elusive or even impossible, you can have lasting personal peace with God and the peace of God.

Click here to read the entire article “Israel: What You Need to Know” as well as a companion article by Dave on “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. You will also find articles on other Middle East countries. Click here for information on ordering the print versions of these articles.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A True Global Event?

It is the single largest sporting event on planet earth. And although other great sports championships may include the term "world" in their title, only the World Cup of soccer really fits the idea of a global sports competition.

The governing body for the great event is known as FIFA. It stands for the Federation International Football Association. The championship has been awarded every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946 when it was interrupted by World War II. Spain won the last tournament in 2010, which was held in South Africa.

The 19 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams. Brazil has won five times. Also, they are the only team to have played in every tournament and have been the host nation for the 2014 games. But their dream of victory at home this year was crushed by an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Germany by a staggering 7-1 score. In the current format, 32 teams compete for the coveted title with only one earning the right to be called the world’s best.

The World Cup is the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the mighty Olympic Games. To reveal the scope of the tournament, it has been estimated that the 2010 final match was viewed, at some point and for some duration, by over 3 billion people world-wide. That was an estimated 45% of the earth’s entire population - a staggering figure by any standard.

When considering the masses that follow this great global spectacle, and especially the numbers at its conclusion, another amazing future occurrence may come to the minds of some who are familiar with prophetic truth as it appears near the conclusion of the biblical record.

Revelation chapter one refers to those who have been redeemed by Christ. It reveals both how they were saved and what they have become in and through Him. “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5b, 6)

But the passage then turns its attention to a great future event that will dwarf all the World Cups ever played put together in both scope and importance. Verse 7 reads, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." This will truly be a global event without equal!

What an amazing moment that will be – a sudden slice in time when the entire world sees and recognizes who Christ really was and is. For some, it will be a shocking and horrifying realization. But for the believers who make up His precious family, it will be an incredible glorious experience. It will be a spectacular moment when they approach the final time leading up to an unbroken span of eternity complete with rewards and blessings that cannot begin to be imagined.

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

D-Day Plus Seventy Years

This year marks the 70th anniversary of one of the world's most important military events ever. It occurred during World War II on June 6th, 1944 on the shores of France. It is known simply as D-Day. On that incredible day, the combined Allied forces invaded the beaches at Normandy in what remains the largest sea-borne invasion in human history. The bloody and costly event eventually led to the restoration of the French Republic and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.

Infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France starting at 06:30. The target was a 50-mile stretch of the coastline. The invasion fleet itself was beyond staggering by any estimation. It included 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships,4,126 landing crafts, 736 ancillary craft, and 864 merchant vessels. There were some 195,000 personnel involved in the operation

Many have seen intense films depicting the horrific and bloody conditions on the five beaches involved. Some of the invading crafts sunk before even reaching the shoreline, and many soldiers who did make their way to dry land were totally exposed and quickly mowed down by the entrenched German forces. And now, with 70 years having passed, it is obvious that many who fought there reside somewhere in eternity today and hopefully in heaven. You can read more about the history-altering event at the beautiful National D-Day Memorial website by clicking here.

But one of the most amazing and intriguing aspects of this event was the nationwide radio prayer broadcast of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 6th just as the battle was getting underway. His very own words can be found on our website. If you listen in, you will find the spiritual depth of his comments to be quite amazing, especially coming from the lips of the Commander-in-Chief whose thoughts were likely heard by most of the nation and perhaps much of the world. What he said could have literally come directly from the pulpit of almost any evangelical Bible-centered church. His address to the Almighty was as profound as the situation spoken to was dire. And, of course, his bold requests that hour would later be answered by the God they were clearly and unashamedly directed to.

But we have come a long way since back then - mostly the wrong way. Prayer from the lips of most of our political leaders is quite rare, very shallow or just plain non-existent. It is just politically incorrect today and viewed by the current electorate as too religious or spiritually oriented. That is beyond tragic, and even more dangerous, for a nation again struggling on numerous fronts. Only this time around, many of the threats and enemies are internal and within our own borders.

It is time for a serious and sweeping revival in a slipping and struggling nation. It is high time for serious prayer in our own houses and in the White House! It is time to call on our leaders to recapture the same spirit that our President had so long ago. And the time is now to conduct an all out "invasion" of national prayer, true humility and personal repentance. This is the prescribed Biblical ingredients and spiritual pattern that alone can heal any culture and preserve any people as promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

It is the time for us all to do our parts - time to fervently seek God on behalf of our families, churches and nation. Beseech Him now to answer affirmatively to our many pressing needs just as He did in back in WWII. And pray, on this special 70th anniversary of D-Day, that America will somehow see that the time is right now to realize again that, "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." (Psalm 27:1)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day and the Ultimate Sacrifices

It is the official start to the summer season. Millions are hitting the highways on the journey to some choice spot for holiday fun and festivities. For others, it means a backyard celebration with family and friends for a home cookout or picnic. And yet for some, it is perhaps just a day off from work or a trip to the mall to catch some advertised sales event.

The core of this special holiday is all about service. It is about those who served their country and fellow citizens to the point of sacrificing their own lives. These are more than worthy of their own special day and one that honors what they did for the benefit of all.

But remembering those who gave their all should also give rise to another memory. It is the sacrifice of just one that amazingly eclipses even what America's past military heroes have collectively done. And it is truly the ultimate in loving and serving others. This divine act originated from none other than the very One who created everyone and everything – Jesus Christ. The writer of Philippians spelled out quite vividly what God did for those He created and loves beyond comprehension. And the passage itself begins with an admonition for His followers to have the same attitude of sacrificial service as did their Savior.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)

On this Memorial Day, and if you are a Christian, do take time to be thankful for both of the above mentioned sacrifices. One has granted you unmatched physical freedom and the other priceless spiritual liberty. Taken together, they represent the most blessed way of life this side of Heaven.

Never take either for granted knowing that, while what Christ did for you is forever secure, even a great country like ours is subject to decline and ruin. So do pray this weekend that the Lord, who has mightily "shed His grace" on America, is never ever forgotten. And pray fervently that this amazingly blessed nation will continue prospering with God being rightfully honored and the wise words of Proverbs being carefully applied.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34)

Have a great and blessed holiday!

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Banning Profanity? Seriously?

A few weeks ago, CCN reported a somewhat surprising and very interesting new law just signed into being by Vladimir Putin. Most of what the controversial Russia leader has done in recent times has not exactly been favorable by most standards. But this time it is a little different and something few would not have seen coming.

The Russian president actually placed a ban on foul language that prohibits swearing at all arts, cultural and entertainment events in the country. The Kremlin stated of the new statute, which goes into effect on July 1st, “If you produce a film with obscene language in Russia you won't be able to show it in a theater.” Also, any books, CDs and DVDs that contain profanity will have to be distributed in a sealed package and will now have a visible warning label attached. There are also various fines involved for those who break the new law with any inappropriate language. While this certainly seems like a positive step morally speaking, it remains most unfortunate that Mr. Putin can’t seem do better concerning the dire crisis raging in the Ukraine.

A question quickly arises about what was just done in Russia. It is this: Could this ever even be attempted in America where the constitution seems to guarantee complete freedom of speech? That question was  addressed in an article by Bryan Fischer on onenewsnow.com. He is the current Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association. Rather than trying to covey his words on the subject, simply click here to read his exact thoughts on the issue.

But one of his primary points was that free speech was never intended in America to protect foul language, blasphemy and profanity. Fischer put it this way: “The free-speech plank of the First Amendment was intended by the Founding Fathers to protect political speech – not profanity, vulgarity, obscenity or pornography.” His article included examples of laws that remain on the books even today that prohibit blasphemy against God and the Scriptures. One from Massachusetts reads:

Section 36. “Whoever willfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.” (By the way, "contumeliously" means being insolent, abusive or humiliating.)

Our culture has certainly drifted  a very long way from the kind of standards this former law declares, have we not? Again, do take the time to read that entire article if you are at all interested in this topic.

But with all of this said, foul language is an absolute epidemic in modern-day America. Any brief exposure to a crowd will typically confirm so. To say that TV and the movies are submerged in it and promote it, would be a vast understatement. But even more sad are the overall language habits of a growing segment of the population – especially the younger generations. I have repeatedly been stunned to hear terrible language from the lips of many kids today, including from girls at very young ages. That was unheard of when I was growing up. Not only do teens and younger now say anything and everything they please, but there seems to be no shame or any regard for anyone in hearing distance. My son returned home recently from a church-sponsored event and was shocked at the language used by many there in that supposedly wholesome setting.

The title of the above mentioned article was, "Russia bans profanity – why don't we?" As wonderful as that may be, it is highly unlikely that it would ever be attempted in a "rights"-oriented nation like America. The bottom line is that any "ban" on profanity will have to be imposed by each individual on him or herself. It would need to be undertaken on a personal level and for personal reasons. And, for the Christian, there are also be biblical reasons to take into account.

So does the Bible anywhere specifically stress or command believers to carefully watch what they say and avoid what they should not say? The answer to that question should be obvious and almost a matter or common sense when knowing the holy character of God Himself.

But for those who may need a proof text, try Colossians 3:8. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Then in James we see the tongue of man described as a "deadly poison" that is set on course by hell itself when it is used to curse others. And in Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus offered some sobering words of His own. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." What exits our mouths is of great consequence both now and apparently in the future as well!

So it appears clear what is expected of us all in this realm. But the "how to" is also quite straightforward when consulting God's vantage point on the matter. And perhaps the best starting place is to apply the instructions laid out in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

It is no secret that what is taken into the mind most is precisely what will exit the mouth most in one form or another. A good example is the little phrase from the computer realm that says, "Garbage in = garbage out". If so, then "meditating" on the right things, biblical things and spiritual things must be priority one. This is particularly crucial to Christians who are expected to be holy in "all manner" of their conduct as is the God they serve. (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Lastly, believers are clearly instructed to attain the high level of consistent verbal praise and words that  are worthy of the Savior who purchased their redemption at a price they will likely never fully grasp – even in Heaven!  

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weather At Its Worst

This week brought some of the most devastating weather in recent memory. Beginning on Sunday night, several destructive tornadoes ripped across the mid-west touching down in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri. At least 17 deaths were reported and perhaps more. Then on Monday, a second round blew through areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Another 16 plus deaths were also reported. In addition, the severe weather impacted some southern states with widespread flooding.

There truly is little or nothing that can be done to protect personal property when storms of this magnitude occur. The feeling of utter helplessness must be beyond explanation. Those who do not live in areas that are prone to this kind of sudden and total destruction simply cannot fathom what it must be like to live under such an ever-present threat.

The Bible speaks to this issue when it says that, “Man is born to trouble” (Job 5:7) And Scripture speaks how the entire creation literally "groans" because of the fall in the garden so long ago. (Romans 8:22) That groaning was seen in a vivid fashion this past week by some that lost all they had – and even family and friends.

But the word of God does offer advice whether we live in Tornado Alley or in a seemingly very "safe" place. It comes through the words of wisdom in Proverbs 27:1. “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Those are wise words because they often ring true and because their source is an all-knowing God.

The other aspect of facing the uncertainties of life in a fragile world is to possess the proper spiritual perspective. This is referred to in Matthew 6:33-34. We read there, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This one short passage deals with how to prevent worry and fear from crippling us even before any trials do strike. When God’s ways are life's driving force, we are given an amazing promise found in Philippians 4:6-7. The Apostle Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Seeking God regularly and making prayer preeminent is how we best prepare for the storms of life – whether they come from 200-mph winds, a pink slip at the office or the results of that serious and dreaded  medical test. God has promised to guard our thoughts and provide peace when we seek Him first and foremost. Of course many Christians can, and often do, desperately seek the Lord only after some unexpected crisis has begun. And He is always faithful and fully safe to trust. But it is far better to be in close communication with Him long before any furious winds of life begin to howl.

But can the Lord really deal with any tempest in your life today? Is He really able no matter what the storm may be right now? If that is a question in your heart and mind, then perhaps again consider His divine power and supernatural ability from the account described in Matthew 8:24-27.

“And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We are perishing!' But He said to them, 'Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, 'Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'"

If the literal wind and sea of nature obey Him, then what in our lives is beyond Him when we do the same?

Bill Breckenridge

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Proof of Christ's Resurrection

This post by David Virkler from several years ago shares timeless insights on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are pleased to share it again.

An empty tomb and a risen Lord Jesus Christ are twin proofs that Jesus is indeed "my Lord and my God," as Thomas said (John 20:28).

How do we know that the resurrection is a fact and not merely the fictional creation of misguided hopefuls? Let’s list some reasons:

1. The disciples were surprised by Christ’s resurrection. They didn’t make it up.

2. There were multiple appearances to individuals. Christ appeared to the 11 remaining disciples, one of whom was doubting Thomas who needed compelling physical proof. A further appearance was to over 500 simultaneously, which undermined the apparition idea (2 Corinthians 15:6).

3. Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote for second century Romans, mentions that Christ’s resurrection was believed by contemporary disciples. "He was the Christ, and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principle men, had condemned him to the cross, they that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things about him."

4. No body was ever found. If it had been, Christianity would have been dead out of the starting blocks.

5. Everything believers hold sacred would be a farce according to 2 Corinthians 15:12-19. Christian preaching would be empty. Christian doctrine would be a farce. Christian ministers would be frauds. Believers would be deceived. We would yet be in our sins. The dead in Christ would have perished. We would have only the temporal and no Heaven.

6. Perhaps the best proof arising in modern times is the conversion of Charles Colson of Watergate infamy and later of Prison Fellowship fame. I once heard him personally tell this story, which is featured in a recorded message entitled "Thank God for Watergate." In it Colson says:

”The evidence is that twelve men were with Jesus. Twelve men testified that they had seen Him bodily raised from the dead. They were with Him…. After He ascended into heaven, they went about the sands of the Holy Land for forty years proclaiming that Jesus Christ had been bodily raised from the dead never once denying Him, every single one of them beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. Could they have done that if that were not true?

”In less than three weeks [after the Watergate scandal broke], John Dean…walked into the prosecutor’s to make a deal to bargain to save [his] own skin. … The moment he did that, everybody went flying in to try to make a deal with the prosecutor. Twelve most powerful men in the world couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re going to tell me that those twelve apostles for forty years would go about the sands of the Holy land proclaiming they had seen Jesus raised from the dead? Absolutely impossible. The Apostle Peter would have turned state’s evidence—he had already done it. … The truth is that people will give their lives for something they believe to be true. They will never give their lives for something they believe to be false. The historic evidence is overwhelming.

”If this Book is true, it challenges every single one of us to look at the most important question in life. Is Jesus Christ who He says He is? And if He is, your life can never be the same once you answer that question. And there’s only one way you can answer that question because the evidence is more powerful than any case I ever argued in all the years that I was a lawyer arguing cases in court. It’s true. Most of us spend our lives running away from it because we know that if we embrace it will change our lives."

These are amazing words from a former top presidential advisor who praises God for Watergate because it proved to him the truth of the resurrection. Believing the resurrection is vital to salvation. Romans 10:9-10 says, "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Dave Virkler

Monday, April 14, 2014

Celebrating 50 Years!

This blog is a part of a larger ministry called Dedication Evangelism. Also under that banner is a radio outreach called The Word and The World.

This month, we mark a significant milestone -- The Word And The World is celebrating 50 years on the air! This is a testimony to what can happen when one person follows God's call.

When David Virkler founded Dedication Evangelism in 1961, his ministry vision included Gospel broadcasting. While holding a week of meetings in the fall of 1963, Dave was asked to speak on a daily radio program shared by the local ministerium on a commercial AM station. The opportunity piqued Dave’s interest in the possibility of seeing the vision for radio outreach become a reality. Several months later, on Sunday morning, April 12, 1964, the first broadcast of The Word And The World aired over a station in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. (Dave is pictured above making one of the early broadcasts.)

The Word And The World offers a Biblical perspective on current issues and events to show that the Bible is always relevant. Topics on the broadcast include U.S. and international news, social and moral issues, special events, holidays, and an annual year in review. Interview guests are also featured on occasion.

Our station log has grown to 60 outlets reaching 16 states and Canada (click here for a list). But what began as a radio ministry has expanded to include on-line broadcasting via our website (where 12 weeks of broadcasts are available), live streaming of stations’ programming, and podcasts. Take advantage of these listening options.

Dave (below, left) unexpectedly went to be with the Lord in January 2012, and co-host Bill Breckenridge (right) assumed the role of host and producer. The broadcast continues with a blend of insight on current news by Bill and timeless commentary by Dave.

This half-century milestone wouldn't be possible without the prayer and financial support of God’s people and the ministry partnership of many radio stations and networks. We are so grateful for the part each one has played in helping us to reach people through The Word And The World!

The first listener to send a letter declared that The Word And The World was a good program and he thought God would bless it. And He has!