Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What Are Your Christmas Traditions?

It is the Christmas season once again. And for so very many it really is the most wonderful time of the year. It just somehow feels magical due to the decorations, lights, gifts, festivities and all the rest.

But Christmas is celebrated by most Christians on December 25 and it commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Americans, like many around the world, have developed their own traditions and observances - many of which have changed greatly over time.

Today, most Americans blend religious and secular customs with their own family traditions. There is typically the incorporating food, decorations and rituals often from the places of their roots. Meals like roast turkey and ham are perhaps the most popular But depending on the region, so are tamales, roast goose with red cabbage, crawfish jambalaya, roast pork or “seven fishes” seafood salad. Many of course hang stockings somewhere or other. And then of course there are those wonderful, though highly predictable, Hallmark channel movies that always have a happy and romantic ending with snow suddenly falling at the conclusion almost every time! Don't tell me you have not noticed that one.

In the Southwest, lanterns made from brown paper bags and  weighted down with sand and illuminated by a lit candle, are displayed on Christmas Eve. Many Mexican Americans celebrate a procession that re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to bed down in Bethlehem. And Swedish Americans hold St. Lucia festivals.  Other Christmas traditions  began during the 19th century. Santa Claus assumed the person of a jolly dispenser of gifts and pilot of a legendary reindeer driven sleigh. And Germany is credited with starting the tradition of Christmas trees in the16th century Yes, there are many different Christmas traditions and more than we would expect when we look around the world.

But with that said, and despite how special and enjoyable these all may be, non of them should take the spotlight off of what the holiday is really about. It represents the ‘incarnation’ of Christ which basically means the Creator-God becoming literal human flesh and the God-man. That is something that is impossible for mere mortals to fully grasp. But it is a truth that put into motion God’s great plan of redemption that would be later be fulfilled on a Roman cross where the babe of Bethlehem became the sacrifice for the sins of humanity. This is part two of Christ's coming. But it is the aspect many decide not to deal with or celebrate as it is not nearly as pleasant and fun as this holiday this arrives before it!

One common tradition for many is watch the classic seasonal program called 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. Although the cartoon was produced for mere peanuts, no pun intended, it pushed all tradition aside briefly and clearly got to the heart of the matter. That climaxed when little Linus stepped onto a stag and shared with a struggling depressed Charlie Brown exactly what the holiday was all about. To do so he simply stated, verbatim, the words as Scripture reveales in Luke 2:8-14.

“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 good 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  Jesus Christ entered time and humanity to be our Savior!

I trust you will enjoy to the max whatever traditions you have come to love at this most unique and significant time of the year. But if you have never developed any that somehow include, and expand upon, what Linus shared, then perhaps insert something special along those lines this year. Take some time to add some moments that focus only on the incarnation and precisely why God's Son humbled himself and came in the form of frail human flesh. Focus in on why we can be forgiven and spend eternity with Him in heaven! That is what truly matters most. And that is what can be far more inspiring and meaningful than even the most lovely of traditions we may ever observe!

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Essence of Thanks

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read these rather direct words. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  These three things are not at all easy to do. In fact, the exact opposite is often the case. And yet there they are. But it is that third phrase that seems almost impossible to achieve at times. One study on this passage was titled, Three Impossible Commands. If Paul had only said, “Rejoice a lot, pray often, and try to be thankful,”  maybe we could say, “Okay, I’ll try to do that!” But that is not what it says is it?

First, we must recognize, and take seriously, that these admonitions are said to be “God’s will for us”. And we must realize that these things must be possible because that is what He desires of us. The passage says that we are ‘in Christ Jesus’. That means we possess His indwelling Holy Spirit who alone can provide the spiritual strength and ability to do anything that God spells out for us.

But at Thanksgiving time, it is that third thing that stands out. ‘In everything give thanks’. Can that really mean what it says?  Think of some of the things you are ‘in’ right now or that others you know are ‘in’. And think of some of the things that those we don’t even know are ‘in’ who reside in very difficult places in the world. Some of what God’s people face simply defies description. But these words seem to be for all in His faith family regardless of their lot in life.

We need to realize that we are not to be thankful ‘for’ all things. That would seem a bit much. We are not thankful for sin, wickedness or evil in the world. And we are not thankful when we somehow fail our Lord. And are we be thankful when a devastating  medical test comes back, when the pink slip from the job is received, when a spouse has run off, when a child is missing or there is the loss of a home? There are things that we are not normally thankful ‘for’. But we are told to be thankful ‘in’ them non the less.

Maybe it has something  to do with another parallel passage that speaks about thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6-7 says,  ‘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.’

Don’t become anxious. But rather pray when hard times come and do so with a spirit of thanks! Not being thankful is at the core of the unregenerate heart according to Romans 1:21. And the opposite is to be true of those who have been saved and are in Christ. They are to remain thankful even ‘in;’ the midst of trails and troubles - no matter how severe or how long they last. The bottom line is that it is abnormal for Christians to not be thankful. But God’s will is that they stay thankful for their blessings and especially those that are spiritual and cannot be impacted by what goes on in a fallen world. The believer's thanks is to be on a higher plane that those who do not know God and the blessings He alone bestows.

Is this sometimes difficult? Of course it is. But it remains God’s will for us. And His indwelling Spirit enables us the victory and thus grants us the peace that passes understanding - no matter what we are 'in' at any given moment!  And that alone is something to be extremely greatly thankful for!

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 107:8-9

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Biblical Salvation Beliefs On The Decline

Over the last several decades core religious beliefs in America have changed dramatically. And what many now believe may well shock you.  It is no secret to anyone paying even minor attention that the spiritual and religious tone of the nation has been in flux for a good while now. And it is not trending in a positive direction. Several decades ago there were at least some Biblical standards and norms.  But that has changed, and in some areas, quite significantly over time.

Today there seems to be an almost 'anything goes’ mentality as long as  one critical qualification is met. In other words, if we are at least really ‘sincere’ about what we say we believe, then all is well and God will ultimately accept us. Many feel that all will be just fine in the end and all will be forgiven when push comes to shove. And anyone who rejects that notion is now seen as being narrow-minded and judgmental.

I recently saw two articles that spoke to this and pointed out significant aspects of a growing spiritual problem in America. First, there was an article that appeared at The study sited there was from Lifeway Research and part of their 2018 State of Theology. The survey interviewed some 3,000 Americans about various Biblical beliefs. But on one supremely critical subject it revealed this. "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. " It was shown that 51 percent of respondents agreed with that premise.  That is without question shocking, at least to me.  I can’t imagine numbers like that had this same question been asked even 3-4 decades ago.

But as troubling as this all is, it does not represent an isolated trend.  Consider these findings from the same research.  "A majority, as in about 78%, of so-called evangelicals now believe that most people are basically good by nature and that Jesus was the first and greatest being 'created' by God the Father. So now it appears that a majority feel that man is by basically good and Jesus was not fully God from eternity past but rather a created being? And keep in mind that it was Evangelicals here who provided this data and those who should be at least familiar with basic Biblical truth.

And if this has not made you wonder what this has happened, and how it has happened so quickly, there was another article found along side of the one just mentioned.  The title this time used these alarming words. 'Why Jesus Is No Longer the Only Way for Many American Christians'.  And then add this. Just 10 years ago, a Pew Research Center Study found that more than half of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to salvation. Again, that is simply stunning!

What we are basically seeing today is an overall erosion of the very foundation of the traditional Christian faith. And the question arises as to why and there are numerous reasons. But one prominent cause is something that has become sacred and almost a religion of its own in America today – namely tolerance. Tolerance is demanded in just about every area of culture today with one notable exception. And that exception is the acceptance of any consistent and unwavering conviction concerning sound Biblical doctrine and viewpoints.  Anything and everything else pretty much gets a pass.   But the reality is that the principles of God’s Word are indeed quite specific and exclusive when dealing with redemption and how one can be made fully justified with God.

When people come to the conclusion that there are many ways to heaven, and that Jesus is just one of them, that simply means that they do not hold to the ultimate source of God’s truth as revealed in Scripture.  That has always puzzled me, especially when I hear of surveys where people state that they believe the Bible to be God’s word, but then they pick and choose those things they want to accept or reject within its pages. Once we come to the conclusion and feel we have the right to exclude those things we’d rather not deal with, then where does that kind of thinking end?  How can we then believe anything fully that Scripture teaches without any doubts?

But for those who believe God’s word is His full and perfect revelation to humanity, what does it actually say along these same lines?  First,  we need to look at how it describes itself.  In 2 Tim 3:16 we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."  That mean that the Bible is ‘God breathed’ and that it is fully His exact mind in print.  2 Peter 1:20-21 adds this. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,  for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’" And Hebrews 4:12 speaks to the  power and ability of Scripture alone, “For the word of God is living and powerful , and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit.”

The Bible is not some human book filled with truths, half-truths, errors or  only a collection of polite and helpful suggestions. It is God’s full and flawless revelation to mankind - all of it!!

But once we believe that all Scripture is inspired and fully accurate, then it is not hard to see the serious problems with many current views of God accepting worship from other religions or Jesus not being the only way to be saved. Actually, the Bible is perhaps more clear on these issue than on anything else – and for good reason!  I don’t know where you stand on this subject today. But if you are confused or unaware, consider these verses just for starters.

In 1 John 5:11-12 we read,  “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have lifeThen add to that these very exclusive words in Acts 4:11-12.  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  And that name there is Jesus – period.. Or this one. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Yes, the Word of God leaves little doubt that the Creator does not accept other ways to be reconciled to Him. He devised, in eternity past, that His Son would be the lone sacrifice for human sin and the only way for man to be justified. His plan is perfect and it is exclusive. Our part is to simply accept what He has offered and not be searching for some alternative path that is easier or seems to better meet our personal preferences. And we pray today that you have trusted Christ as the only way, truth and life and that you have been born into God’s family through His specified mean – by faith alone in His Son!

"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."  John 3:16

Bill Breckenridge

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pastor Brunson Finally Freed

His name is Andrew Craig Brunson,  an  America pastor  and whose name came to prominence back in October of 2016. It was then that he was arrested in Turkey after a coup attempt there. Brunson was pastoring a small protestant church of about 25 congregants when he was accused of taking part in a coup attempt and being involved with American espionage among other things. It was claimed that he was interested in overthrowing the Turkish government and that he also supposedly helped plan the coup.

Andrew Brunson is from Black Mountain, North Carolina and attended a church there that Franklin Graham once did  He is married and has three children and had lived in Turkey for 23 years until being arrested. His wife was also arrested alongside him, but was released 13 days days later.  He reportedly had lost over 50 pounds while in the prison but was later moved to house arrest on July 25, 2018. The trial caused a major diplomatic rift between the United States and Turkey and resulted in U.S. economic sanctions being placed on that nation.

But his ordeal is now finally over with after great pressure was exerted against Turkey by the Trump administration. It was described as a combined bipartisan effort, but it appears that the President had a major role in securing the wronged American pastor’s freedom.

If you had opportunity to witness  the scene in the White House after Brunson’s return to the U.S.,  you know that it was a  touching  scene and one that will not be easily forgotten. He was sitting next to The President. His wife and family was on his right and the other guests, made up of political and religious leaders, sat on the other side to the President’s left. And at one point he was asked if he had any additional comments. It was then when the pastor somewhat shocked just about everyone in the room and maybe across the country. He looked at  Mr Trump and said this and I quote: “We would like to pray for you. We pray for you often as a family. My wife and I pray for you.  The President responded  ‘We thank you. I probably need it more than anyone you know. So that would be very nice. Thank you’

With that the pastor got up from his seat, knelt down on the carpet and placed his left hand of the left shoulder of the President and began with these exact  words. “Lord God, I ask you that You pour our your Holy Spirit on President Trump, that you give him supernatural wisdom,  that you accomplish all the plans you have for this county with him.  I ask that you give him wisdom on how to lead this country into righteousness.  I ask that you give him perseverance and endurance and courage to stand for truth  I ask that you protect him from enemies and those would undermine.  I ask that your would make him a great blessing to this nation. Fill him with your wisdom and  perseverance.  and we bless him. May he be a great blessing to our country.  In Jesus name, amen”

I’m sure you were stunned and inspired at these words going out from the White House if this is the first time that you heard them.  But to actually visually witness this pastor on his knees before the whole world, and praying for the President after what this man had gone through for two full years, was just beyond description. But there were a few things that came to mind  that I’d like to briefly express on the event.

First, I was reminded yet again of the words in 2 Timothy chapter 3, with the context being the perilous last days before the return of Jesus Christ.  After describing the brutal conditions of that time, the  author wrote in verse 12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution “ And pastor Brunson certainly knows those words and personally experienced them.  Living a good honest life is of course commendable. But as soon as the name Christ comes into the equation for doing so, then persecution is not far behind. And this raises a sobering question for all who claim to be followers of Christ.  If we never suffer ever suffer even minor grief for our faith, then do we have any real testimony at all before the world? Again that should be a wake up call for us all.

Secondly, I was reminded that sometimes we are allowed to suffer in order to glorify God’s name and work. Had this pastor never experienced what he did, he would never have become someone who is now known around the world and someone who was given the opportunity to do and say what he did in the White House in front of the entire nation and world. Millions who may not know His Savior have now seen what a committed victorious Christian believer is capable of, and can endure, with the help of His Lord.

And lastly, we can see in this event was something that relates closely to whole matter outlined  in 1 Timothy2:2.  There we read, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority,  that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
When you look at this passage, we see no mention of praying for any specific political party, side  or philosophy. It speaks of praying for ‘all’ who are in positions of high leadership. There are no other specifications mentioned. And just think for a moment of who received this original letter and the oppression they were living under at the time. This admonition must have surprised most  in that day and I’m sure it is not an easy thing even today for some in our own nation.

But the reasons are clearly provided as to why we are commanded to do this. It enables us to live what is called quiet and peaceable lives. And even more importantly, it is good and acceptable to God and even seems in the context to relate to some perhaps coming to the knowledge of salvation as well through our testimony.

There has been a lot of very rough and discouraging news in the last month or so. The country suffered the stress of a brutal supreme court nomination that further divided the nation. And now we face the critical mid-term elections as well. And then there came  the two quick and brutal Hurricanes, first Florence and then Michael, that absolutely devastated large areas in the south from Florida to the Carolina's.

But with all of that aside,  it was refreshing to witness the story of this dedicated Christian servant, who was persecuted while serving his Lord oversees. His response and actions, in the midst of insane struggles, revealed the reality of His faith and the reality of the God who sustained him through it all. And this should encourage us all as believers - when we are reminded in such a mighty way that our God will never leave nor forsake us and that He is always safe to trust  no matter what may come.

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, October 12, 2018

Kavanaugh: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

It was one of the most unbelievable spectacles on the American political scene in recent memory.   This time it was not about electing someone to some high office. But it was about a vote. And of course we speak about the recent confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He was the second judge offered up by President Trump. But this time around his pick was not for a replacement as was his first. This time, the next  potential judge would be the likely swing vote for many crucial cultural decisions in the years and even decades ahead.

But as has almost become standard operating procedure, a woman suddenly appeared not long before the vote was scheduled and made allegations that Judge Kavanaugh had tried to sexually assault her some 37 years earlier. And of course this tactic has been seen before and the name Clarence Thomas is all most need to hear.

But when Kavanaugh’s accuser did get her chance to tell her story it became quickly obvious, except to Democrats, that her claim did not seem to have much real evidence or proof. She could not recall crucial details and nobody really could confirm what she said. Plus, the judge had been exposed to some 6 previous FBI checks in the past and nothing at all surfaced that would indicate this kind of behavior on his part. If his accuser did suffer what she claimed, that is indeed terrible. But it seemed quite clear that the potential high court judge was the one who was guilty in whatever did occur. Legal experts said that, based on such skimpy evidence, that most courts would not even agree to hear this case in the first place with the evidence offered up.

But as we all now know, Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed by a vote of 50 to 48. But what we also know is that the vote came down almost exclusively along party lines. How shocking! This would have been the case anyway most likely just based on what each party had at stake.. But what was so troubling this time was that those on the left wanted the nominee to step down because they 'assumed' he was guilty of the flimsy charge against him from three plus decades earlier.

That is not how the American system of justice has been through history. It is based on the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. The key word there being proven!  So this new concept, as seen with the Kavanaugh situation,  was downright scary to say the least. Can anyone’s life now be destroyed by a simple unproven allegation? I have jury duty coming in about a month. And if I am put on a case, my philosophy will be 'innocent until proven guilty' -  beyond the shadow of a doubt. And that is what I would expect from my peers if I were on trial.

But recently I was reminded of something quite profound when thinking about this whole national ordeal that we all just experienced. While innocent until proven guilty should always be the norm in our justice system, it came to me that in the spiritual realm it is the exact opposite. In order to experience forgiveness and salvation, we must first admit our sin and full guilt before God. He requires that before He can extend His saving grace that is found through faith is His son’s sacrifice for us all on the cross. And when anyone cries out for God’s mercy in that manner, then He can render that man or woman as fully justified and seen as innocent in Christ. In other words, we admit to being fully guilty and  only then we can be rendered no longer guilty.

Without question,  it goes against our human grain to admit that we are sinners and have come short of God’ glory (Romans 3:23). That is why so many just can’t seem to come to God on His stated terms. But when we do, and when we accept that we are guilty and  helpless to save ourselves, then we can be made righteous through faith in Christ. That is the required order of things in God’s perfect justice system.  And that Biblical process is never up for debate, vote or discussion. That is what it is and there is no other way to be made  fully just and right before a holy God..

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved ."  Acts 4:12

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9/11 and the Ultimate Remembrance

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the day that changed the modern world. And, of course, that would be none other than 9/11. It was a day like no other and will never be forgotten by those old enough to remember the mind-boggling horror that occurred in just a few short hours on a crisp, beautiful September morning. While many went through their typical routines around the country, thousands of unsuspecting souls were brutally and abruptly thrust into eternity. The surreal scene of the mighty World Trade Center in New York crumbling seems as frightfully fresh in our minds today as when we watched it a over a decade and a half ago.

And yet enough time has passed now that something seemingly unique and sad is occurring. With 17 years having passed since this event, there are growing numbers of younger Americans who have no real recollection of the day that will forever impact their lives. All of those born since September 11, 2001, and many who were very young at the time, do not have a first hand remembrance of it all. If they know anythingand some know very littleit may be from a casual history lesson in school or some other brief encounter with the facts that likely don’t do justice to the enormity of the event.

Remembering certain key things in life is crucial. It has been said that those who forget all about history are often doomed to repeats its mistakes. And the reality of that can be seen through many troubling examples down through the years. What happened in World War II would be a sobering illustration.

But there is another form of remembrance that is even more important than the historical or any other. It is essential because it resides in the realm of the spiritual. This special and most critical kind of remembering occurred in the account of the crucifixion of Christ in Luke 23.

The Savior had been placed between two condemned criminals who were being executed with him. While suffering and dying, one of the two men began taunting Him. The account begins in verse 39. “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, 'If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.' But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.'"

Somehow this one thief recognized, while dying along side of Jesus, that he himself was a sinner. He somehow understood that the man next to him was indeed God in the flesh and was therefore capable of saving and justifying him. In essence he said, "Lord remember that I’m spiritually lost. And Lord please remember to save me and take me with you to your heavenly kingdom when I shortly breathe my last." The Lord’s instant response comes in verse 43. “And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" In other words, the Savior confirmed that He would remember this man’s dying confession of saving faith and, based on that alone, guaranteed him forgiveness and a place in heaven forever.

Today, many are remembering the day that changed the world – and with good reason. But what occurred on that day was not about crashing planes, burning buildings, rescue efforts or a revitalized war on terror. It is about the precious lives that were lost that day. These can never be rebuilt or replaced.

On that fateful day, all who perished entered eternity in one of two conditions. They were either saved or they were forever lost. They either had Christ as Savior or did not according to 1 John 5:11-12. And those who were redeemed said to Christ at some point in life, "Lord, remember me. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I trust You alone to forgive and make me right before God." And all who had done that prior to departing this life on 9/11 gained paradise just like the poor soul who died along side of the One who died in his place on the cross.

Being ready at a moment's notice to face God, whether in a burning building, a falling plane or through natural causes, is as simple as asking Christ to remember you as a sinner and trusting Him fully as your Savior. He is the One who died for us all and who waits for all to call upon Him in for redemption. There are many valuable things in life worth remembering, but never forget to remember the one thing that matters most in life and especially in death!

"Remember , O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O LORD.” (Psalm 25:6-7)

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Different Perspective on Labor Day

Labor Day marks a subtle shift in multiple aspects of most everyone’s life. Vacations have drawn to a close as the summer sun moves slowly southward. Schools are back in session after earnest shopping for clothes and supplies. Kids’ unaccustomed early rising is followed by piles of homework and a better organized routine for parents. Daily traffic volume changes with the back-to-school schedule. Labor Day may also mean an intensified church schedule as programs get back in gear.

Over 100 years ago, leaders of the Labor Movement organized huge parades to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold” in the words of John McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

According to the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City and planned by the Central Labor Union. They held a second Labor Day holiday a year later on September 5, 1883. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday.

By 1894, 29 states had passed laws observing Labor Day as a state holiday. That year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. In 1909, a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention designated the Sunday preceding Labor Day as Labor Sunday dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

Work and workers in the Bible have a both a negative and positive aspect:

The thrill of harvest contrasted with the waning deliverance from impending attack and deportation is outlined in Jeremiah 8:20. “The harvest is past, The summer is ended, And we are not saved!”

The futility of working only for food is mentioned in Ecclesiastes 6:7. “All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied.”

Employment pressures can point us to Christ who invited, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

Working for salvation is futile and forbidden:

- Ephesians 2:8, 9 declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (emphasis added)

- Titus 3:4, 5 adds, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…”

- Romans 4:5 also indicates that salvation is expressly not a result of works. “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness…”

- The work of Christ is alone able to save. “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:31)

Positively, the works within salvation are carefully noted and rewarded. “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 6:10).

Our positive efforts done out of gratitude will linger for time and eternity. The final book of the Bible summarizes all believers’ labor days. “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Revelation 14:13)

It is best when we work for the Lord since we can fully retire in Heaven forever because of His finished work.

Dave Virkler

This was originally posted in September 2009, but its insights and message are timeless, so we are sharing it again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Immigration and True Freedom

Illegal immigration has always been a difficult issue. President Trump’s decision to fully enforce a policy of separating children from parents who cross the U.S.border illegally while their cases are being heard has become the focus of intense criticism and debate. Each side offers facts to support their view, and emotions are running high – so much so that members of the Trump administration are being singled out by protesters and even refused service at a restaurant.

There is endless debate about this as a legal issue, moral issue, or both. The issue doesn't look like it will be resolved any time soon. Whatever the outcome, the problem highlights some biblical themes.

Every one of us is on earth temporarily. This world is not our final home, and we are all travelers seeking a permanent and eternal residence with the hope of something better. 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.

Proper documents allow immigrants to enter a country legally and afford them the opportunity to make a new life there. Illegal aliens (undocumented immigrants) 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)

When immigrants become U.S. citizens after coming to America, they enjoy the advantages that offers. 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, amnesty, and family reunions, 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.

Sadly, many who are legal or natural-born citizens of the U.S. think they are free, but they are still trapped in spiritual chains. Without knowing it, their hearts yearn for a freedom that is even more precious – freedom from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31, 32, 36)

Gayle Virkler

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Is Peace in Israel Possible?

Monday marked 70 years of Israel’s existence as a modern nation. It was also a historic day as the United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thus acknowledging the city as Israel’s true capitol. This comes at a time when violence in Israel and on it borders continues to make headlines and war with Iran looms on the horizon. Why is Jerusalem so significant? Why does a tiny country—only the size of New Jersey—command such global attention?

Our founder, Rev. David M. Virkler, wrote about Israel’s history, its place in prophecy and the peace it longs for in an article titled "Israel: What You Need to Know". Following are some excerpts:

There is constant strife over who will have ultimate control over the land we know as Israel. The heart of the issue basically boils down to two opposing ideas. For the Israelis, the issue is their right to exist as a nation. For Palestinians and other Muslim countries, 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.

About 4,000 years ago, God called Abraham from his home far away to the east, probably somewhere in present day Iraq, and directed him to resettle in the land of Canaan, approximately the area of present day Israel and northeast to the Euphrates River. God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore. His purpose was to establish a new ethnic group—the Jewish people—that would provide a distinct lineage for the Messiah. They would be a blessing for all nations, and kind treatment of Abraham and his descendants would bring blessing, while unkind treatment would mean a curse (Genesis 12:1-9).

Many Arabs also revere Abraham as their father through Ishmael. 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.” (Gen. 16:12)

The descendants 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 “in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 19:24), or “center of the earth” as it is more properly translated.

There is special significance to the city of Jerusalem. It is the ancient capitol of Israel. It is the site of Mount Moriah, where Abraham was instructed to offer Isaac, his old-age son of promise, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22), and a substitute ram was ultimately provided. Years later, David purchased the spot from Ornan the Jebusite and selected it as the site of the Temple (1 Chronicles 21:18-30), which his son, Solomon, later built. Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, but it was later rebuilt when some Jews returned home from the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 5 & 6). Herod rebuilt this Second Temple and enlarged the Temple Mount. His penchant for gorgeous structures made the Temple a wonder of the world. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

The Western Wall, formerly known as the Wailing Wall, is actually a retaining wall of the Temple platform and is also a landmark for Jews. When Jerusalem was in foreign hands, Jews were allowed in only periodically to pray at the wall, which represented the hopes of the Jewish people. Since 1967, when Israel took Jerusalem, Jews have been able to pray freely at the wall.

Jews believe the Temple will be rebuilt, which will be a cause of great conflict since two Muslim structures currently occupy much of the Temple Mount. There are several theories as to where the Temple actually stood. Some believe it stood where the Dome of the Rock is located. Others believe it was located to the north where there is a huge open space.

Many have attempted to work out peace agreements. Some have been successful and others have not. … Peace agreements may be signed, but they will not be kept. Satan hates the Jews for their spiritual heritage. They were the people that God used to give us Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Satan hates the land. It was there that God became flesh and dwelt among us and where Christ died and rose again to provide our salvation.

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 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 them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.” (Gen. 12:3) Israel has a unique place in the plan of God, and 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.

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 passes all understanding” (Phil 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….” (Ephesian 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.

The full article “Israel: What You Need to Know” can be found at our website, or it is available for a gift of any size to the ministry. Visit our website for details and a list of other articles and resources available.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Presidential Proclamation: National Day of Prayer

Office of the Press Secretary
May 3, 2018

- - - - - - -



On this National Day of Prayer, we join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection. Prayer, by which we affirm our dependence on God, has long been fundamental to our pursuit of freedom, peace, unity, and prosperity.  Prayer sustains us and brings us comfort, hope, peace, and strength. Therefore, we must cherish our spiritual foundation and uphold our legacy of faith.

Prayer has been a source of guidance, strength, and wisdom since the founding of our Republic. When the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate freedom from Great Britain, the delegates prayed daily for guidance. Their efforts produced the Declaration of Independence and its enumeration of the self-evident truths that we all cherish today. We believe that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Prayer sustained us and gave us the strength to endure the sacrifices and suffering of the American Revolution and to temper the triumph of victory with humility and gratitude. Notably, as one of its first acts, our newly formed Congress appointed chaplains of the House of Representatives and Senate so that all proceedings would begin with prayer.

As a Nation, we have continued to seek God in prayer, including in times of conflict and darkness. At the height of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for prayer "for the vision to see our way clearly to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men and to the achievement of His will to peace on earth." Decades later, following one of the darkest days in our Nation's history, President George W. Bush offered this prayer for our heartbroken country, mourning the precious souls who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001: "We ask Almighty God to watch over our Nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come."

America has known peace, prosperity, war, and depression, and prayer has sustained us through it all. May our Nation and our people never forget the love, grace, and goodness of our Maker, and may our praise and gratitude never cease. On this National Day of Prayer, let us come together, all according to their faiths, to thank God for His many blessings and ask for His continued guidance and strength.

In 1988, the Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer, "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3 as a National Day of Prayer.  I encourage all Americans to observe this day, reflecting on the blessings our Nation has received and the importance of prayer, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities in their houses of worship, communities, and places of work, schools, and homes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An Agonizing Eternal Hell? Really?

It was just a few days before Easter, of all times during the calendar year, when a story broke about one of the primary doctrines of the Bible. The subject was the very existence of  Hell itself. And the source of the controversy was, from of all people, the Pope himself! 

A reporter wrote in an interview with the Pontiff that it was stated that people who are not saved, and therefore don’t go to heaven, are not punished in a literal Hell. Instead, according to the story, they are just annihilated or simply snuffed out forever.  And of course, without being there, it is not possible to know exactly what was said or what was not.  But the Vatican quickly claimed that the reporter was wrong and gave an incorrect account of what the Pope actually said. And yet it is somewhat curious as to why the Pontiff did not just come out right away and publicly correct the problem once and for all.

The subject of the reality and horrors of a literal eternal hell have been under a growing spiritual microscope for some time now. More and more are stating that this place of everlasting suffering does not really exist.  Just a few years back it was Rob Bell, a well-known pastor, who rocked the evangelical world with his book, ‘Love Wins’ - A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’

Bell was raised in a traditional Christian home and attended Wheaton College in Illinois and Fuller Seminary. He and his wife Kristen started and ran the prominent Mars Hill Church. Their theological beliefs on the Mars Hill web site were written in narrative or story form. They affirmed a belief in the inspiration of God’s Word and the sacrifice of Christ. But they promoted the idea that the primary reason for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was to restore ‘relationship’ both to Him and among ourselves. But there was virtually no mention of a ‘hell’ or punishment for unrepentant and lost sinners.  Although Bell left the church several years ago, the doctrinal statement still does not really speak today of Hell as a literal place of suffering for those who reject Christ. 

So Bell, and a growing number like him, are teaching what  is called Universalism. This states that all eventually get to heaven one way or another in the final analysis no matter what. And  the logical outcome of that view is that, if God eventually saves all men, there is no real  need for a Hell – or at least one that lasts forever. So when all is said and done all are saved and thus God’s Love wins.

In another article I saw these kinds of views and from an interesting source: The story said was titled this. “Hell’s glory days could be over.” National Geographic science correspondent Mark Strauss said, ”The idea of eternal punishment is not as chic as it was in olden days. He explained that a “campaign to eliminate Hell” headed by a “new generation of evangelical scholars” are taking issue with the idea that sinners are doomed forever. Many find it hard to reconcile a just, loving God with eternal punishment.”

And even as there seems to be a growing acceptance of a hell-less eternity even in church circles, it is even easier to see what many in the world reject a literal hell. And why would they want to believe otherwise?  If they scorn it, then they don’t have to fear or someday face it - or so they hope.. But here is the way one agnostic atheist blogger put it and perhaps what many choose to think.  “The whole concept of an infinite punishment for a finite crime is immoral. I doubt a "loving" god would be that cruel. So yes. It is utterly ridiculous and clearly the product of barbaric, vengeful, ignorant, unenlightened, human minds.”  This man may believe this fully. But he best be very right or he is in very big trouble!

The too, even those who do believe there is a Hell don’t seem too worried about ending up there.  A recent Lifeway Research survey found these results and said this.  “Hell is a real place, but you have to be really bad to go. Overall, Americans don’t seem too concerned about sin or being sent to Hell. Two-thirds say most people are basically good, even though everyone sins a little bit. Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans say even small sins should lead to damnation, while only about half say God has a wrathful side.”

But even among those who do believe in a Hell, there are differences in how they interpret the biblical descriptions. Some believe that in Hell people will literally burn forever. Others believe people will literally burn for a certain period of time and then cease to exist or be released. Still others believe that, although it is a place of punishment, the descriptions of fire are simply imagery meant to convey judgment. So the beliefs in the existence of a literal Hell as a place of eternal suffering, along with who ends up there, are all over the lot today. But with that all said, the idea of any literal place of eternal suffering is certainly losing ground as is the related view about the seriousness of sin. So logically, if sin were not that big a deal, then why would God design a real place of everlasting torment to deal with it?

So what is the truth about Hell and how show we view it?  The truth about Hell is whatever the Bible clearly  teaches about it. When taken together, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the existence of a literal and eternal place in no uncertain terms.  I saw an article at a site called that offered some good thoughts and facts of this all-important subject. The author wrote, “Hell is one of those subjects that makes people uncomfortable.  We hear stories of hell being a place of fire, demons, and endless torment. Throughout history, many authors have written about it. Western culture is very familiar with the concept.  Even Hollywood has made it the subject of many movies.  Whatever the context, whatever the belief, Hell is definitely taught in the Bible.”

The bottom line is that God consists of many attributes. He is loving and merciful. But He is also fully just. To believe He is incapable of eternal judgement is to be na├»ve and it denies part of who He is. Yes, his nature is love – a level of love most of humanity cannot grasp even though they saw it evidenced on the cross.  But God’s ultimate love is not about allowing every sinner who rejects or scorns His Son’s sacrifice to slide by or be eliminated. His love is rather seen in Romans chapter 5, which reads,  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him’.”

The verse mentions being saved from wrath. But from what wrath? It is the wrath and judgement revealed in numerous verses like found in the book of Matthew.  "But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."  "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”  "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  “Jesus said, And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell." 

 In Daniel 12:2 we read. "And many of them that slept in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."  And in Revelation 14 we see that those who reject the Lord "will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and forever. There is no rest day or night" for them.” And the list of similar passages goes on and on like with the story of Lazarus in Like 12.

Tragically, Hell is a real place.  It is not mere unconsciousness or temporary.  It is forever torment.  Perhaps that is why Jesus spoke more of Hell than heaven and spent so much time strongly warning people to avoid going there at all cost.  If people just stopped existing after death, or got released after a lengthy and painful slap on the wrist, then why warn them so very much or at all?

I don’t know what your view on this subject is today. That is between you, God and what you feel is taught in His word. But I would think that any so-called Hell that is seen as imaginary, just temporary or non-existent would cause lost sinners to relax and not face their desperate fate and their need of a Savior. I would think that the adversary would be thrilled to sidetrack people into having no fear of any serious and lasting judgement in such a place. I would wonder why Scripture speaks so clearly, forcefully and so repeatedly about a place that has almost no lasting consequence - if it even exists at all? And I would wonder why Christ had to die as he did if sin’s consequences are not serious for lasting dire consequences in the end?

Finally, I would think that we should carefully analyze the words of the Apostle Paul. He wrote extensively about Christ’s redeeming love, sacrifice and forgiveness for him in light of his own great sin. And what was his view of this same loving God as far as those who reject or ignore the actions of His Son on cross for them? He said in 2 Corinthians 5,  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  And then these telling  words in verse 11. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”.

God loves us all and His Son died in our place to forgive our sin and grant us a heavenly home someday. But when that offer of salvation is ignored, then there comes the painful reality of verses like just mentioned along with many others like Hebrews 10:31. “It is a  fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Why chance such an unimaginable fate as Hell for all eternity when it can be forever avoided in mere seconds by acting upon Acts 2:21. “That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’

The bad news is that Hell is all too real. But the good news is found in the Good News.  “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9)

Bill Breckenridge

Thursday, April 12, 2018

54 Years Sharing Biblical Truth

Dedication Evangelism is the ministry organization that sponsors this blog. A major part of our outreach is The Word and The World broadcast. It offers a timely Biblical perspective on current issues and events, and we have always sought to share the unchanging Good News of salvation. April 12 marks 54 years on the air – over 2,800 weekly broadcasts and countless hours of recording, production and ministry. We praise God for His faithfulness in bringing us to this significant milestone! It is a testimony to what can happen when one person follows God's call.

Beginning – When Rev. 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 WFRM in Coudersport, PA.

Expansion – Our station log has grown from one station in Pennsylvania to 77 outlets reaching 18 states and Ontario, Canada. What began as a radio ministry has also expanded to online outreach including our website archives and live streaming of stations’ programming.  Podcasts also significantly expanded our outreach. These outlets make The Word And The World available anytime and anywhere. Take advantage of these listening options!

Multiplication – God has used The Word And The World to reach people through means other than radio. Many of our audio and print resource materials have come from the broadcast. Popular items include our annual Year in Review and Sing Them Over Again (three CDs of music from the half-hour broadcast.)

Before the Internet made broadcasts available to anyone on-line, each month’s programs were compiled on one cassette. Examples of the far reach these had include a missionary who used the tapes to help teach English in South America, a Kenyan university student in Michigan who later used them in his teaching when he returned home, and prisoners who used the tapes in personal and group Bible studies.
PartnershipWe would not be celebrating this milestone without the prayer and financial support of God’s people and 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. (Click here to find out how you can help.)

In 54 years, there have been many changes in the world and in the Church. Our broadcast ministry has also seen changes in our studio, technology, and delivery methods. One of the greatest changes was Dave’s Homegoing, but God has graciously enabled us to continue even after that with Bill Breckenridge, our Director of Outreach, as speaker/producer. Through it all, we have seen God’s hand of blessing on our outreach.

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!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Homegoing of a Spiritual Giant

As most all know, on February 21, evangelist Billy Graham went home to be with the Savior and Lord he served for most all of his life. He died in Montreat, NC at the family home there. Dr. Graham was 99 years old. But there were some who pointed out that he actually made it to age 100 considering that life begins as conception. That would have made him 100 years and 3-plus months of age at his passing.

Graham accomplished many things in his amazing life for God. Perhaps the most impressive of all was preaching face-to-face to well over 210 million people in 185 countries around the world. That is more than anyone else in the history of the faith.

As of 2008, Graham's estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. And that may be just the tip of the iceberg when adding all of those who responded in other venues over the decades.

Graham was on Gallup's list of most admired men and women 61 times—more than any man or woman in all of human history. And only Heaven will reveal how many people will be in that glorious location forever because of the vision, gifts and dedication of this one man who served God like few others ever have. He was, without question, one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century and perhaps any century for that matter.

Billy Graham was sometimes criticized or ignored by some that did not agree with his methods, message or because they did not appreciate some he associated with during his ministry. And yet his message never seemed to vary or weaken.

As I watched the various programs, including his funeral service, there was one verse that seemed to be repeated constantly and one that characterized Him and his work. It was from John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The other verse that always found its way into his messages on salvation was of course John 3:16. “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.” In many ways, his message was quite simple and repetitive. But it consistently hit the mark as scores responded to the message of the Gospel and came to Christ via faith alone.

Back in 1981, there was Graham crusade in my hometown. It was held at the old Memorial Stadium, the then-home of baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and the NFL Colts. My mom was a counselor for the meetings and my dad worked on the grounds crew. She was a believer, but he was not.

But on the last night of the 8-day crusade, after the field was almost cleared, my dad walked up to my mom near the empty platform he had helped construct. She assumed he was picking her up for the ride home—and he was. But of far greater importance was that he sought her out to inform her that he had trusted Christ during Graham’s last invitation that night. He was about 55 at the time and just never responded until that miraculous moment.

It was a night that changed my dad’s eternal destiny, unified our home in the faith, and something that validated the entire Graham ministry from day one even if my father was the only one to ever be saved in the six decades of evangelistic outreach.

Perhaps you have never accepted Christ as your personal Savior and found true forgiveness of sin and the glorious reality of a heavenly home someday. Obviously you cannot respond today to the live voice and invitation of Billy Graham to be saved. He is in heaven now. But because the Scriptures he shared are living, powerful and true, you can still respond to what the Bible says about becoming a part of God’s family right this minute. Te-read those two verses just mentioned above and add these to the mix. Roman 10:13 says, “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." Or there is this one in Acts 16:31. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” These two verses leave little doubt on the outcome of salvation when one trusts Christ as Savior, don’t they??

Sincere belief from the heart is all the condemned thief dying along side of Jesus on the cross had and had time to do. Obviously he never entered a church service. He had no time to sing a single hymn, give an offering, be involved in ministry or do even one good deed. And what did his simple act of faith accomplish? Consider the Lord's words in that desperate and eternally significant moment. “And the Lord said to him ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’"  (Luke 23:43)

Does that sound too simplistic? Maybe so. In some ways, it really is. God made redemption as easy and clear for us as He possibly could but at infinite expense to Himself. Jesus paid it all.

But the tough part is admitting that we are lost helpless sinners and destined for an indescribably horrific eternity separated from Him. We must accept that avoiding that fate requires that we cry out for God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy. We must fully trust in His Son who died in out place. And when that is done from the heart, only then can we rest in the profound promise found in 1 John 5:11-13. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  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.”

Do you today know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that you have eternal life in Christ?

If not, why would you wait another second to settle forever the single most important question anyone can decide concerning this life and especially destiny of the life to come?

"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keeping 'Up' With The Kardashians?

Earlier today I opened up my home web page and saw the typical kinds of headline stories there. And on this particular morning one of the big stories was about the highly anticipated name for Kylie Jenner’s new baby. As you might guess, she is Bruce Jenner’s daughter and a part of the whole Kardashian crew who have become household names in America – unfortunately.

But I saw a video link to a newscast on the subject and clicked on it. This is what the broadcaster said and I quote. “The name you’ve all been waiting for is finally here, Yes,  Kylie Jenner announced her baby girl’s name and it is Stormi. The beautiful mogul announced it on Tuesday. “ And for those who care, the baby’s last name will be Webster. That is from the father, Travis Webster, who is Jenner’s rap star boyfriend. Since he is not the legal husband the name had to be revealed.

Then at the same time Kylie’s sister, Khloe Kardashian, revealed that she is expecting sometime in late April. And in her case, it is basketball player Tristian Thompson who is the father. And like her sister, the dad to be is also a boyfriend and not a husband. This is what she wrote to him about their experience so far.

“My greatest dream realized! We are having a baby! I had been waiting and wondering but God had a plan all along. He knew what He was doing. I simply had to trust in Him and be patient. I still at times can't believe that our love created life! Tristan, thank you for loving me the way that you do! Thank you for treating me like a Queen! Thank you for making me feel beautiful at all stages! Tristan, most of all, Thank you for making me a MOMMY!”

So there we have it. Two of the most famous and popular celebrity icons in the nation will be mom’s ‘intentionally’ without  what they must see as the baggage or bother of a legal marriage. I wonder how God’s above mentioned ‘plan’ and His Biblical principles fit into what they have both done? And keep in mind that their famous Olympic athlete dad became a woman not long ago because he must have seen his gender as some sort of unwanted baggage too. And let’s also not forget, or maybe we should, that Kim Kardashian celebrated the birth of her third daughter by posing nude in bed for her 106 million Instagram followers.  Think about that one for a moment. That’s millions! That is close to 1/3 of the American population not including those who were shown the picture in some other way.

Some times it is hard to even put into words, or even comment on, what has become normal in 21st century America when it is actually abnormal. It simply boggles the mind when comparing it all to the beliefs, values and practices that were once the standard in a Christian nation. We have indeed come a very long way very quickly – and mostly all downhill!

But what is also frightening is that these girls, and this entire famous family, are major  media and celebrity superstars. People can’t seem to get enough of the entire bunch. And those who adore them, and hang on their every move, are mainly young impressionable kids and adults. This highly dysfunctional bunch have become huge role models and multiple millions would love to be in their shoes and live life just as they do.
The problem is that many in culture today are doing just that.

But this extended family has found a way to cash in on their immoral lifestyles and much of America have embraced it all and revere them highly. It is both sad and even scary because the Bible is clear on what is and is not proper moral and ethical behavior. And the importance of that is summed up in Proverbs 14:34. “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”  And sin is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures in passages like Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3. God’s high expectations concerning our conduct is summarized in 1 Peter 1:16. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”  So God’s desire is to have us all strive to live in the manner He has prescribed in His word.  And in a word that is simply ‘Christ-likeness’.

The antics of the Jenner/Kardasian crew, and others who live like them, are most unfortunate. It no longer seems to shock most of us anymore. And that is beyond tragic because it should! And the only way to have this kind of behavior offend our sense of righteousness and decency, and not fall prey to its godless influence, is to be well grounded in Scriptural truth. (2 Timothy 3:16)  King David, who knew something about falling into sin and getting back out. And he put it this way in Psalm 119:9-11.

“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word. 
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.”

Bill Breckenridge