Contrasts in life

While at the Chiropractor yesterday, the young lady who did our appointment scheduling (Lori) said to me: "You do a blog post, EVERY DAY"?  When I mentioned that I generally post about six or so, she was surprised.  While at least four of my posts are from others, still, some days it is difficult to write and others- its a snap!!! Today falls into the latter category.  When I was reviewing my cache of pictures, this one seemed to just POP!!! It is a "HDR" picture and the contrasts are simply wonderful; it almost made me feel cold just looking at it.  And I really don't remember ever seeing a lemon yellow sunrise before.  I will remember this picture for some time BECAUSE OF THE CONTRASTS.  People sometimes stick to your memory as well; both the very nice and the awfully bad.  But, how do come to those definitions anyway?  Well, please read the following passage from Colossians and see if you can come up the a standard...

Colossians, Chapter 3

 1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.  2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.  3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.  5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;  6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.  7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; 8 but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. 9 Don’t lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings,  10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator,  11 where there can’t be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all. 

  12  Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance;  13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. 

  14  Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.  15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. 

  17  Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him. 

Simple, if God is in your heart, then his desire for you will be in your life.  Strange as it may seem, God lives through you because HE is IN YOU!!!  Those who knew you before you decided to become a Christian will be amazed at the change and some may even laugh out loud to your face (that actually happened to me).  But, to live a life grounded in love (verse fourteen above) is much better than living with all the sin ascribed to the "old man" referred to above.  Try it, you'll like it; I promise!!!

THE NARROW GATE by Gary Womack


"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Mt. 7:13-14) As Jesus drew His sermon on the mount to a close, He directed the attention of His disciples to making application of all that He had taught. Here, He offers mankind a choice of directions in life. Everyone makes this choice whether deliberately or without thought. One way ends at Heaven's gate and eternal joy, the other leads to the bottomless pit and eternal torment.
Considering the extreme consequence of each choice, it seems only wise that everyone should give careful attention to investigating their "options." Solomon said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov. 1:7) Only a fool would ignore the greatest choice of life. However, many make the tragic choice of indifference, ignoring their only hope from certain, eternal destruction. Consequently, they choose the pathway of least resistance; the broad and easy way.
Others deliberately choose not to believe in Jesus Christ as the only hope of the world. They reject the overwhelming evidence of His Sonship and divine authority. They fail to acknowledge His authority to command our obedience. Their refusal to believe in Christ often stems from the seemingly hopeless confusion that they see in the "religious" world. If a person didn't know better, he would have to conclude that God is a God of confusion based on the seemingly endless number of denominations that exist, all teaching different doctrines and at the same time claiming to be "of God" while saying it doesn't matter what you believe in religion as long as you are sincere. This sends a contradictory "message" that destroys men's faith to believe.
But the saddest choice is the one that so many make in their wandering effort to seek the right way. That is the choice of those who fail to beware of Satan's unscrupulous tactics of deception. Peter warns that we must "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 5:8) This is an apt description. As a lion quietly and deliberately stalks his prey on padded feet, his victim remains unsuspecting of the eminent danger until he is robbed of his escape by the sudden overpowering of the lion as he pounces from seclusion while roaring claim to his prey. No wonder Paul admonishes us to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise..." (Eph. 5:15) We must be "vigilant" and "watchful in every direction" so that we not be overcome by this enemy of the soul.
After stating the choice of life's two directions, Jesus gave this solemn warning to "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." (Mt. 7:15) Paul warned of those who, at the time of his writing, claimed to be apostles "...who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we (the apostles, gvw) are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:12-14) Satan is the master of disguise and deception. That is why he is so dangerous. There are many who "point the way" and make a good sounding plea. But consider how many different directions people are pointing; at least as many directions as there are denominations and religions in the world. If we follow the directions of men we must be on guard, because "There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death." (Prov. 14:12)
It is a sad fact that there are false teachers who so easily deceive many by their seemingly good nature, genuine concern, and apparent love for God and His word. But these are those whom Paul urges us to be on the look out for. "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom. 16:17-18) But many have fallen victim to false doctrine contrived by those who seek to serve "their own belly" that hungers for personal gain, power, prestige, etc. Because of the nature of deceptiveness, anyone can fall victim to it. What makes deceit so dangerous is that you can be taken in by it and not know it! That is the way of deception!
Jesus knew of this beforehand and therefore gave us this insight into Satan's devices and those who play into his hands by adopting his deceptiveness. The Lord tells us how we can recognize them. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?" (Mt. 7:16) I'm not sure about you, but I'm not very good at recognizing different kinds of trees. But if I can see the fruit on that tree, I can identify what kind of tree it is. As we can recognize a plant by the kind of fruit it bears, so we can recognize the kind of teacher by looking at the fruit of his teaching. As dependable as is nature's laws of fruit bearing, so is God's law (His word) the dependable standard by which all teaching is to be judged. Its Author is the source of truth, and His word is the evidence of His divine authorship.
The narrow gate that leads to eternal life may not look as inviting as we peer down its narrow way, especially when comparing it to the wide open spaces of the "freeway" where "anything goes." But don't be deceived, it's what is at the end of the way that makes our choice of direction worth the trip getting there the most important one of our life.

- Gary V. Womack - June 2003   



Ancient Whales Gave Birth on Land
By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer

“(Feb. 4) -- More than 47 million years ago, a whale was about to give birth to her young ... on land. That's according to skeletal remains of a pregnant cetacean whose fetus was positioned head-down as is the case for land mammals but not aquatic whales. The teeth of the fetus were so well-developed that researchers who analyzed the fossils think the baby would have been born within days, had its mom not died…Recently discovered fossilized bones from a pregnant whale show that the water-based animal gave birth on land. The rare find provides a vital scientific link in the evolution of the seafaring mammal.”

My, my—isn’t that amazing?

There’s one brand of “science” at work. Forty-seven million years ago, give or take a few weeks, a whale whose baby was due to be born within days was faced in an unusual direction. The whale ended up on land and died there but its death was not in vain for it has provided “a vital link in the evolution of the sea-faring mammal.”

A host of human babies face an unusual direction near-birth time. Maybe ancient humans birthed their babies feet first.

From the skeleton the experts were able to tell “ancient whales gave birth on land.”

From the skeleton the experts were able to tell that the “mom” deliberately headed for land to birth the baby on land.

We see a lot of whales on land, dying, and people try to get them back in the water. It seems the rank and file think the poor creature has lost its bearings.

I’m tempted to think that this poor creature lost its bearings and if it hadn’t ended up on land it might not have died and birthed its baby in the water as usual.

“A vital link” in the whale’s evolution, Hmmm. How does that work? I’ve long suspected that the “links” in the evolutionary chain are as weak as this one.

From this one skeleton of a pregnant whale that might have been thrown up on land against its will by some force of nature or might have been so sick from some internal problem that in its confusion it flopped up on land (as many do)—the experts now know that “Ancient Whales Gave Birth on Land”.
These are the kind of people who put banners up on buses: There probably is no God.
[p.s. I love it when animals are called “mom” to a “fetus”. I wonder do these people ever talk that way about humans.]
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

The Suffering Question by Jim McGuiggan

The Suffering Question

It would be a mistake to say that the world's great suffering must be answered adequately or everyone will become an atheist. That just isn't so! Believe it or not, it's a modern idea that wholesale suffering must mean there is no God. You only have to read through the Hebrew-Christian scriptures (and others as well) to see that down the centuries people lived with passionate faith in God (or gods) despite suffering. The Bible is filled with the "why?" question but the question is always addressed to God! It's never, "Since this is so you can't exist" and always, "You exist and your reputation is that you care for us so why is this happening?"
Of course even that is something of an overstatement because sometimes the prophets knew exactly why the peoples were suffering. "We have sinned and you have turned your face from us," they will often say. But that's only one face of suffering in the Bible because we find "undeserved" suffering recorded all over the place.
In life as in scripture we find blessing and curse, pain and pleasure sitting side by side. It isn't all pain and it isn't all pleasure. So while it's a nonsense (and anti-Christ as we can see from Matthew 25) to ignore or airily dismiss all the agony it's a serious mistake for the heart and head to ignore all the wonder and loveliness and blessing.
What if it's true that there is a cosmic "power" that Christians call sin that God is redeeming us from? What if there is something beyond the physical that makes sense of all suffering (undeserved and deserved)? What if the fully developed complex biblical Story is true and that the suffering of the innocent (like the suffering of Jesus Christ) is part of God's redeeming work? What if the completion of that holy, gracious and glorious purpose is so grand and glorious that it makes all the pain worth it? What if in this case "the end justifies the means"? What if even the worm that bores into the eye of a little child serves a purpose so marvellous that God himself had to come in Jesus Christ to tell us about it? What if all these parasites and all this trouble are part of a great tragedy involving both God and us? What if this a tragedy that he is working to serve his own holy and gracious purpose? A purpose which is to bless the cosmos and save us from our sin as well as our suffering and to bring us to eternal life that is brimful of life?
(You might find Celebrating the Wrath of God helpful.)

Matthew: He Taught As One Having Authority (7:28-29) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

              He Taught As One Having Authority (7:28-29)


1. During His earthly ministry, Jesus astonished the people with His
   a. He astonished them in the synagogues - Mk 1:21-22; 6:2
   b. They were astonished by His sermon on the mount - Mt 7:28-29

2. What impressed the people was that "He taught as one having
   a. Unlike the scribes, who simply interpreted the Law
   b. Jesus spoke as One had the right to make the law!
      1) E.g., "But I say to you...But I tell you..." - Mt 5:22,28,32,
      2) E.g., "Take heed...You shall not be...Do not..." - Mt 6:1,2,5,

3. The question might be raised, "Did Jesus have the authority to speak
   this way?"
   a. He may have taught with authority, but was it His to do so?
   b. Should we, who read that which He taught, give heed to obey what
      He said?

4. At a time when many do not heed the words of Jesus...
   a. Not only those in the world
   b. But, sadly, even many who profess Him to be Lord
   ...the authority of Jesus needs to be recognized and followed by all,
      but especially by those who claim to be His disciples

[In this study, we shall review the authority that Jesus has, beginning


      1. All things were made through Him - Jn 1:1-3; He 1:2
      2. All things were made by Him and for Him - Col 1:16
      -- As Creator, Jesus has the authority to expect and demand
         whatever He desires of His creation

      1. As prophesied, Jesus would be given all things - Ps 2:8
      2. As the Son, Jesus has been appointed heir of all things
         - He 1:2
      -- As the Heir, Jesus has authority over that which has been
         given Him

      1. Jesus has redeemed us from our sins - 1Pe 1:18-19
      2. This He has done with His own blood - Ep 1:7; Ac 20:28
      -- As our Redeemer, He certainly has authority over those who
         have been purchased by His blood!

[As Creator, Heir, and Redeemer, Jesus has both the inherent right and
the earned right to speak with authority.  Dare we living today not
recognize such authority?  Consider others who gave voice to...]


      1. When He came into the world - He 1:6
      2. As He sat on the throne of God - Re 5:11-12
      -- Angels deemed Him worthy to receive power (authority)

      1. They acknowledged He had the authority to destroy them - Mk 1:
      2. They obeyed His rebuke - Mk 1:25-26
      -- Demons, even when possessing power of their own, could not
         resist His authority

      1. Those before the throne and the Lamb ascribed salvation to God
         and the Lamb - Re 7:9-10
      2. Even as John praised Him for having authority over the kings
         of the earth - Re 1:5
      -- If we are among the redeemed, should we not also recognize His

[Finally, let's note...]


      1. As announced by Him prior to His ascension - Mt 28:18
      2. As received when He ascended to sit at God's right hand
         - Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22
      3. Including ruling over the kings of the earth as King of kings
         and Lord of lords - Re 1:5; 1Ti 6:14-15

      1. He is the head of the body, the church - Col 1:18
      2. Even as He is the savior of the body - Ep 5:23
      3. As the Head, He has delegated His authority to His apostles
         a. Promising His Spirit to guide them into all the truth - Jn 16:12-13
         b. Commanding them to teach others to observe all that He
            commanded - Mt 28:20
         c. Proclaiming that whoever receives them, receives Him - Jn 13:20


1. As revealed in the New Testament, Jesus clearly has all authority...
   a. Which must be confessed in order to be saved - Ro 10:9; Php 2:9-11
   b. Which will be confessed at the Judgment - Ro 14:10-12

2. The key issue, then, is what we do in light of this authority...
   a. Will we listen to Jesus and heed Him who speaks with such
   b. Will we as His church allow His apostles to lead and guide us
      through the authority delegated to them?

Those willing to accept Jesus as Lord, will do what He says (cf. Lk 6:
46); as prophesied by David, they will freely volunteer in the day of
His power (Ps 110:1-3).

May we all honor and accept the authority of Jesus Christ!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Matthew: Building To Withstand The Storms (7:24-27) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

               Building To Withstand The Storms (7:24-27)


1. 1998 was quite a year for natural disasters in the state of
   a. There were killer tornadoes, devastating fires, destructive 
   b. Impacting the lives of many people

2. Such disasters proved to reveal much about contractors...
   a. We learned that some builders were unscrupulous
   b. Failing to build according to code, many homes and buildings were

3. Jesus made a parallel between storms and buildings at the end of His
   sermon - Mt 7:24-27
   a. As He sought to encourage people to act upon His sayings
   b. Contrasting the difference between those who were doers and not
      just listeners

4. In this lesson, I wish to address the following questions...
   a. What do the "houses" of the wise and foolish builders represent?
   b. What "storms" is Jesus talking about?
   c. How can we "build" so as to be able to withstand the storms?

[Let's begin by identifying the "houses"; I suggest that...]


      1. A life that will eventually face the vicissitudes of life
      2. A life that will respond to the many ups and downs that come
         our way

      1. The foundation is whatever teaching, doctrine, or philosophy
         to which we subscribe
      2. It may be a philosophy or doctrine adopted from others, or
         developed ourselves

[We cannot escape the fact that we are "builders."  The question is 
whether we will be wise or foolish builders.  The tests that will 
determine are called "storms"...]


      1. Such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.
      2. Which may take away all we own, perhaps even our loved ones
      3. How we respond to such tragedies will reveal the quality of
         our "building"
         a. Will we be emotionally devastated?
         b. Will we be able to stand strong, willing to continue on
            without despair?

      1. Such as illness, loss of loved ones, financial setbacks
      2. Which may take away our health, family, possessions
      3. Again, how we respond to such tragedies will reveal the 
         quality of our "building"
         a. Will we be emotionally devastated?
         b. Will we be able to stand strong, willing to continue on 
            without despair?

      1. That of death and the final day of Judgment - cf. He 9:27;
         Ro 2:4-6
      2. Which will be the truest test of our "building" (i.e., 
         character) - cf. 2Co 5:10-11
      3. The Lord will describe the kind of "builder" (or servant) we
         have been
         a. E.g., "Well done, good and faithful servant..." - Mt 25:21
         b. E.g., "You wicked and lazy servant..." - Mt 25:26

[The longer we live, the more "storms" we are likely to face; and there
is the final "storm" that none can escape!  How can we be sure to build
our lives so as to withstand the storms?]


      1. Such is foolishness, building on a shaky foundation that will
         not stand the test of storms - Mt 7:26-27
      2. As James wrote, one is deceiving only themselves - Jm 1:22-24
      3. Like the unscrupulous contractor, the storm will reveal the
         true quality of one's character
      4. As Moses said, "...your sin will find you out."- Num 32:23

      1. Those who "do" what Jesus said will be those to withstand the
         storms - Mt 7:24-25
      2. Because their lives (houses) are built upon the "rock" (a 
         solid foundation)
      3. As James went on to write, it is the doer who is blessed in
         what he does - Jm 1:25

      1. His saying regarding where to lay up treasure - Mt 6:19-21
         a. In which we are told to lay up treasure in heaven, not on
         b. If we heed His words, our hearts will not be distraught if
            earthly treasures are stolen or lost
      2. His saying regarding what to seek first - Mt 6:33
         a. Calling upon all to seek first the kingdom of God and His
         b. By heeding His words, we need not have anxiety for the 
      3. Indeed, His sayings provide the basis for a solid foundation
         in which to build a life...
         a. That will avoid being misled by false prophets - Mt 7:15-20
         b. That will stay on the straight and narrow way that leads to
            life - Mt 7:13-14
         c. That will fulfill the Law and the Prophets - Mt 7:12
         d. That will receive what good gifts God desires to give His
            children - Mt 7:7-11
         e. That will not be judged by some inconsistent standard 
            - Mt 7:1-6
         f. Where the necessities of life are provided for - Mt 6:30-34
         g. Free from materialism and anxiety - Mt 6:22-29
         h. With treasure that cannot rust or be stolen - Mt 6:19-21
         i. With acts of righteousness that are well-pleasing to God 
            - Mt 6:1-18
         j. With righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and
            Pharisees - Mt 5:20-48


1. Yes, this is a life that can truly withstand the storms!
   a. Whether it be the literal or figurative storms of every day life
   b. Or the storm of the Day of Wrath and Judgment that is yet to come

2. What kind of foundation are you building your house (life) upon?
   a. Heed what Jesus is saying, and your life will be solid
   b. Be listeners only, and your life will be as shaky as sand!

Just as Jesus is the Rock-solid foundation of the church (1Co 3:11;
Ep 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-6), so let Him be the Rock-solid foundation of your

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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