Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Holiday Humor

On this first day of the Christmas "season" I wanted to share a funny Christmas Holiday Video involving Fruitcake! This is from the DavidJeremiah.com online Advent calendar. Check it out!

Friday, November 27, 2009

DavidJeremiah.org - Advent Calendar

Wanted to share a link to this online Advent Calendar from Pastor David Jeremiah.
If you have kids and celebrate Advent as part of your Christmas celebration, you might enjoy this.

Here's the Link:

DavidJeremiah.org - Advent Calendar

God bless,

rlk

Monday, November 02, 2009

Seeing God's Glory and Attributes Through His Creation

I've been busy with exciting new ministry activities as part of a new church plant an as such, I'm finding less time to write but desire to do so more often in the near future.

Today, I simply wanted to post some pictures that I find "inspirational" as they highlight some beauty from God's creation and one of my favorite places on the Oregon Coast.

I'm reminded of
Romans 1:20 (ESV) or Romans 1:20 (NASB) that by or since creation God's invisible attributes are made known - they are clearly seen.

I hope that when you see His creation that you see His handy work, His Glory, and some of His attributes!


Cannon Beach @ Dusk - Oregon Coast


Cannon Beach @ Dusk - Oregon Coast
From the rising of the Sun until it's going down, the Name of the Lord shall be praised! (see Psalm 113:3)

In Him,

rlk


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clergy Appreciation Month



October is clergy appreciation month and let me encourage you to take time to send a note of encouragement via a card, email, or in person to the shepherds and other staff at your church. Or, you can also consider making them a special treat, or bring them something for their lunches, a small gift card or other gift, or whatever you think will encourage them by you showing your appreciation.

They are constantly bombarded with so many things and they serve, they shepherd selflessly and your care for them would be much appreciated.

Here's a link to the Clergy Appreciation Month site on ThrivingPastor.com (Formerly Parsonage.com) :

Here's a guide to Clergy Appreciation Month:

Pray for your pastor and staff!

Lastly, let me encourage you to take time to encourage your pastor and staff throughout the year...it doesn't need to be limited to one month out of the year.

God Bless,

rlk

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

For our friends at Harvest Community Church




My family and I attended Harvest for our last regular Sunday and as we depart - I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the opportunity and privilege of serving the Lord and you during the years we were a part of Harvest Community Church.

We're thankful for our time at Harvest and will continue to keep you in our prayers.
We're very excited for what God has in store for us at Antioch Bible Church in service to Him and as we continue to seek to follow His will.

We'll look forward to seeing you from time-to-time around town.


If you have any questions regarding the new ministry God has opened up please feel free to ask me.

Thanks again.


Sincerely in Christ,

RLK on behalf of the Koch Family

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great News!

Hello,

Wanted you to know that our interview went well last Saturday, (08/22/09) and I’m pleased to share that we were accepted/received into the mission by the Board of Directors by unanimous vote!

It’s been a 15 year journey for us and I’m humbled to have this door opened to further serve the Lord and shepherd His people.

Please continue to pray as we move forward and please also pray that we’ll be able to raise the needed support to not only supply for my family but also to provide for the cost of any travel, tools needed for ministry, and etc.

I’ll keep you posted.

Humbly in Him,

rlk

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Journey Continues



It's been over a month since I was last able to post an entry and today I wanted to create a post in order to let you know about something exciting God is doing!

What's Going On?:
  • God has opened up an exciting opportunity to serve at a new church plant in Hillsboro, Oregon which has been planted in partnership with the Northwest Independent Church Extension!
  • The church is Antioch Bible Church and you can check out the web site @ http://abiblechurch.org.
  • I've been offered a Pastoral Internship where I'll serving as the Executive Pastor intern and will be doing a variety of things in service to God!
Fifteen years ago I sensed God's calling on my life to serve Him and His people as a shepherd and now He is opening the door to serve Him in that capacity!

As a side note, I'll continue to work my full time job and serve / work part-time+ in the internship.

Next Steps:

  • We're currently transitioning out of the church my family have called home for the last 8 years and will be serving at the new church every Sunday beginning in September.
  • This summer we are currently serving at Antioch all but one Sunday a month and that one Sunday we are attending/serving at our old church home.
  • On August 22, 2009 my wife and I will be going for an interview before the mission board and upon approval by the board we'll be accepted into the mission (I'll be a missionary pastor) and then we'll begin raising support as we will not and do not draw an income from Antioch Bible.
  • I'll be one of three on the elder/pastoral team and we'll work closely together as a team to shepherd the flock at Antioch.
It's very humbling and such and honor to be serve The Lord and also knowing this is what He has "wired" me to do!

There is more I could share but want to keep this brief and just give you a "heads-up" regarding what God is doing and also ask for your prayers that God will bless this endeavor as I seek to humbly serve Him and that I'll be able to raise enough support to cover what my meager full-time pay is lacking so I can take better care of my family. Please also pray that God helps me be wise in balancing my time especially as I work many hours between both my full-time job and in serving at Antioch while trying to also keep my family a priority and making adequate time to serve and lead them as well. Thank you for your prayers!

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Humbly,
rlk

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Free Audio Book Download for July: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.

Free audio book download for July from Christianaudio.com - Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.

I've heard good things about this book and I've downloaded it and I'm looking forward to listening to it myself.

If you don't have an account, you just need to sign up for a free one and then sign up for their newsletter that informs you of the monthly free download which provides the coupon code for the free downloads. Enjoy!

Click on the following link to go to the site.

Free Downloads - christianaudio.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free Gift For You! DIY Note Taking Study Tool!



Check out the following link for a free gift I've posted for you! It's a DIY note taking / study tool that I posted on my downloads page.

http://www.rlkministries.org/Downloads.html

Here are the details:
DIY (Do It Yourself) Note Taking Study Tool (ZIP file with PDF's): This is something I put together as a gift for a few people I've ministered with and wanted to make available to you. This is a DIY (do it yourself) study/note taking tool that can be simply printed out and placed in a binder for taking notes, etc. This is something that, (if you choose to utilize it), can be customized as you see fit.

Here’s what’s included: (See the included "Read Me" file for more info)
1. Four different covers you can choose from. (Or you can create your own to personalize it even more.)
2. One an Two page note taking pages including a third bonus note page.
3. A reference list of the Books of The Bible.
4. A reference overview of the Books of The Bible.
5. Bible Reading plans from Biblegateway.com.
6. Lastly, a reference list of different passages on different topics from the Bible.


Enjoy! Feel free to share it with others!

Sincerely,

rlk

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shepherding the Flock

Hello,

In reflecting on the Biblical role of a shepherd it seems that we live in a day where many have started to "professionalize" ministry. What I mean is that they have begun to take on more of a business model where someone is hired, (usually a specialist) for a job role and the calling God has on a Pastor’s life and the Biblical role of pastoring is de-emphasized.

Obviously you want to call someone who is gifted in certain gifts and talents however what the difference is today is that people are abandoning the call and role of a pastor and in its place they see it as just a job and not a calling. They are running the church and their "job" like a business and people just seem to be a consumer of "the goods" they provide each week. Because of this there are many pastors who have abandoned the Biblical mandate of a pastor. In place of this mandate they stick to their ministry box/role/title only and do nothing to really fulfill their shepherd role in shepherding God's people. Furthermore they are more concerned about marketing instead of communicating God's Word and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It’s not that they aren’t doing some good things and it’s not that pastors shouldn’t be professional and yes, it is important to fulfill the role they were hired for but ultimately it's vital that they don't limit themselves based on that job and instead fulfill the call of a pastor in whatever role they fill. There is a difference of being professional in conduct and the professionalization of the church, the operation of the church, and "job functions" of the pastors and staff.

Pastors who are abandoning the call are missing the joy, the fruits, the blessing of genuinely fulfilling the role of a pastor/shepherd and dare I say the people in their congregations are being cheated as well.

I also have observed over the years that some who are called to pastor are at times putting the responsibility of shepherding solely onto the flock. Yes, we should in essence shepherd and care for each other but again, this is not in place of the shepherds call and responsibility who should be leading the flock and be a living example for The Body.

In the simplest way, see what Jesus said to Peter:

John 21:15-17 (Bold emphasis mine)

"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Tend My lambs." He *said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He *said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus *said to him, "Tend My sheep."

The Lord used Peter, imperfect, sometimes hot-headed, Jesus-denying-Peter to establish the early church and through these verses The Lord provides a clear understanding of His expectations of and call on an under-shepherd.

If a pastor is not shepherding the people God has entrusted them with, if they really don't care to do so or they don't care to build relationships with the people in their flock, if they only stick to “the job”, then they have disqualified themselves as a pastor and have no business calling themselves a pastor according to the Biblical definition and mandate of a pastor. Some may disagree but they need to look no further than the scriptures - God's definition of pastor to see the truth.

In fact, if they really want to revolutionize "their" ministry they should not simply follow the popular trends or fly-by-night fads, not that we can't glean some things from these, rather, they should get back to The Word, the ultimate authority and use this to shepherd the flock.

People are hungry for the true Word of God and it takes a true man of God, a true minister of the Lord, a man of The Word to shepherd His flock.


Below is an article that I thought was very good in outlining a lot about the role of a pastor.

Let’s pray that our Shepherds will fulfill God's Biblical mandate as fulfill their call to be a Pastor.

In Christ,

rlk


Shepherd the Flock

Monday, Apr 27, 2009
(By John MacArthur)


Original Post: http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/posts.aspx?ID=4188


What is the pastor’s responsibility, besides preaching and studying?


The answer to your question lies in the title you used—pastor. That title is rich with meaning and sets out the chief responsibilities of a godly minister.


One of Jesus’ favorite metaphors for spiritual leadership, one He often used to describe Himself, was that of a shepherd—a person who tends God’s flock. A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects—responsibilities that belong to every church leader. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd.


Peter wrote these words to elders who would have been familiar with sheep and shepherding:


I exhort the elders among you . . . shepherd the flock of God . . . exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)



To give you a more complete picture of your pastor’s role, here’s a look at the nature of sheep, the task of shepherds, and how they compare to the pastor’s role among the church. Note the principles of church leadership it contains—they determine what should fill a pastor’s schedule.


Shepherds Are Rescuers

A sheep can be totally lost within a few miles of its home. With no sense of direction and no instinct for finding the fold, a lost sheep usually will walk around in a state of confusion, unrest, and even panic. It needs a shepherd to bring it home.


And so when Jesus saw the crowds, lost, spiritually disoriented, and confused, He likened them to sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). The prophet Isaiah described lost people as those who, like sheep, have gone astray—each one turning to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).


Like lost sheep, lost people need a rescuer—a shepherd—to lead them to the safety of the fold. A pastor does that by pointing the lost toward Jesus, the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).


Shepherds Are Feeders

Sheep spend most of their lives eating and drinking, but they are indiscriminate about their diet. They don’t know the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous plants. Therefore the shepherd must carefully guard their diet and provide them with pasture rich with nutrients.


In His encounter with him described in John 21, Jesus drove home to Peter the importance of feeding the sheep. Twice in His command to Peter, Jesus used the Greek term bosko, which means “I feed” (vv. 15, 17).

The pastor’s goal is not to please the sheep, but to feed them—not to tickle their ears, but to nourish their souls. He is not to offer merely light snacks of spiritual milk, but the substantial meat of biblical truth. Those who fail to feed the flock are unfit to be shepherds (cf. Jeremiah 23:1–4; Ezekiel 34:2–10).


Shepherds Are Leaders

Peter challenged his fellow elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you” by “exercising oversight” (1 Peter 5:2). God entrusted them with the authority and responsibility of leading the flock. Pastors are accountable for how they lead, and the flock for how they follow (Hebrews 13:17).


Besides teaching, the pastor exercises oversight of the flock by the example of his life. Being a pastor requires getting in among the sheep. It is not leadership from above so much as leadership from within. An effective pastor does not herd his sheep from the rear but leads them from the front. They see him and imitate his actions.

The most important asset of spiritual leadership is the power of an exemplary life. First Timothy 4:16 instructs a church leader to, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”


Shepherds Are Protectors

Sheep are almost entirely defenseless—they can’t kick, scratch, bite, jump, or run. When attacked by a predator, they huddle together rather than running away. That makes them easy prey. Sheep need a protective shepherd in order to survive.


Christians need similar protection from error and those who spread it. Pastors guard their spiritual sheep from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves that would ravage them. Paul admonished the pastors at Ephesus to stay alert and to protect the churches under their care:


Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)



Shepherds Are Comforters

Sheep lack a self-preservation instinct. They are so humble and meek that if you mistreat them, they are easily crushed in spirit and can simply give up and die. The shepherd must know his sheep’s individual temperaments and take care not to inflict excessive stress. Accordingly, a faithful pastor adjusts his counsel to fit the need of the person to whom he ministers. He must “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).


The Good Shepherd and His Undershepherds

Jesus is the perfect example of a loving shepherd. He epitomizes everything that a spiritual leader should be. Peter called Him the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). He is our great Rescuer, Leader, Guardian, Protector, and Comforter.


Church leaders are undershepherds who guard the flock under the Chief Shepherd’s watchful eye (Acts 20:28). Theirs is a full-time responsibility because they minister to people who, like sheep, often are vulnerable, defenseless, undiscerning, and prone to stray.


Shepherding the flock of God is an enormous task, but to faithful pastors it brings the rich reward of the unfading crown of glory, which will be awarded by the Chief Shepherd Himself at His appearing (1 Peter 5:4).


If your pastor is faithfully carrying out the duties required in his job title, remember to follow this admonition of Scripture:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Wanted to take a moment to wish all of you mom's and grandma's a very Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all you do!

The below picture is my gift to you!

With Love In Christ,

rlk

Saturday, April 25, 2009

C.H.A.R.A.C.T.E.R. (Part 4 of 8) – Authenticity - Part 1


The Word:

Read: John 3:1-7 and Romans 10:8-11
Additional Reading: John 3:16-21, Acts 16:22-34, 1 Peter 1:2-5

“Authenticity” (Part 1) By Randolph Koch

In the age of increasing untruth and lure of worldly rewards, it is more important than ever that we live in Christ’s likeness as an authentic Christian.

Being a Christian is being a follower of Christ not merely in name but also in word and deed. This includes living our lives according to His will and by His standards as revealed in God’s Holy Word and not by our own or the world’s standards.

We are to follow Him and take up our cross daily to follow Him and our words and actions are to be a reflection of Christ because we are His name bearers.

I recall an analogy that was shared with me years ago that has many applications to our faith.

The one who shared the analogy asked, “What do you think the US treasury uses to study and train their agents in order to know the difference between fake and genuine US currency?”

Now there were a variety responses, such as, “the counterfeit money”, etc. However, the answer was given that, “They study the real currency because by studying the real currency, they will recognize the counterfeit for what it is right away!” Likewise those who know, study, and follow God’s truth with recognize untruth for what it is right away!

I’m sure you see the truth and parallel to our faith as the analogy lends itself to knowing the true Bible vs. the false ones that exist, a true church from the fake ones, as well as the difference between a true believer and a false one just to name a few.

Now, to be clear, God is the Judge of all including their salvation and ultimately it’s not our place because God is the only one who truly knows a person’s heart. However, God has given us the truth of His Word and His Holy Spirit so we’ll be able to distinguish between a true and false believer which is evident by the fruit they do or don’t bear. I’m not talking about some sort of performance or works based salvation that some might teach because the Scripture is clear regarding the fact that we cannot earn what God already did through the complete work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Rather, I’m speaking directly to how a true and authentic believer should live and be His representative in their day-to-day conduct. This is clear in the Word.

The starting point for an authentic Christian is salvation. You might say, “well duh, I know that!” However, in a world that is confused it needs to be clearly stated because some believe that they are saved and going to heave, they are Christian because they were born in a specific country such as the USA. Some also believe that they are believers because they occasionally go to church or they try to live a good and moral life.

While going to church and doing good things isn’t bad, these things are not what saves a person because we can do nothing to earn salvation and they don’t make you a Christian. No, you have to make a personal decision to follow Christ, first by believing He is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for your sins, that you are a sinner in need of salvation, that you need to repent or in-other-words – verbally and physically turn away from your sin and receive Him as savior and Lord.

Another way to put it is that you need to be born again.

Being born again is the grace of God at work as we begin a new life in Christ and enter His family as His child with a completely fresh start - a clean-slate to live and walk in forgiveness. Nicodemus, a Pharisee struggled in understanding when Jesus told him that he must be born-again. But it’s clear that Jesus communicated that being born again is what takes place when you take the step to receive salvation.

This is where true authenticity begins because if you aren’t saved then you can’t truly be a follower of Christ and cannot be capable of following Him if you are not a part of Him.

Questions to Get Started With:

-What does it mean to be saved or born again?
- How does one become saved / born-again? What does the Bible say about this?
-Am I Saved?
- Am I living an authentic life for Christ? Or, do I need to make some changes and get real with living what I say I believe?
-What does the Bible say about why Christ had to die?
-Do I realize that being born again is not about me?
-Who is Jesus Christ?

For Further Study:

1- Do a Bible study on Authenticity / What it means to be a Christian.
2- From your Bible study, select a few verses about Authenticity and memorize them. (Then review them on at least a monthly basis as a great personal tool and reminder of the importance of Authenticity)
3- Pray and ask God to help you be Authentic and also help you build at least one relationship (If you’re a man, with another man or if you’re a woman, with another woman) to the point where you can be accountable to each other so you can speak into each others lives because you’ve come to trust each other. Accountability is a real key to authenticity.

__________________________________________________________
Dear Family in Christ,

As I started to study further in preparation to pick up and continue on in the CHARACTER series and specifically looking at Authenticity, it quickly became clear that there are many aspect of what it means to be an authentic Christian. You could probably spend months discussing or “preaching” on this topic but in the form of devotion I’m going to purpose to do a multi part series within the Character series on the topic of authenticity by looking at several elements that are many of the marks of an authentic believer.

There is so much one could write or say about being an authentic Christian that a devotion cannot contain a comprehensive look into this important characteristic. Furthermore, there are so many elements of authenticity that I must state that I will only hit on a few of them in the series.

So, in the weeks and months to come we’ll continue our Devotional Starters look into CHARACTER and we’ll camp on Authenticity for at least a few more Devotional Starters.

May you personally be spurred on to study and live out the life God has given you in Christ’s likeness as an authentic believer.

Feel free to share these messages with others whom you believe
would be encouraged by them. We're here to serve you so don't hesitate
to contact us!

If you're reading this today and you're not sure what salvation is
about or why you need it, Please visit, www.rlkministries.org and download
and view the free Eternal Life PowerPoint Presentation or click on The
Bridge to Life link on the left column of the pages.

Feel free to e-mail or call us as we're here for you!

May God Bless You as You Seek Him!

With Love In Christ,

His Servant and Yours,

rlk


Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Synopsis of Ministry Experience

Wanted to make a brief post to share my updated ministry synopsis with you which is more concise and better reflects the experience God has allowed me the privilege of serving Him and growing in.

Click here if you're interested in viewing it. RLK Synopsis

In His Steps and For His Glory,
Your brother and servant,
rlk

Friday, April 10, 2009

Historical Evidence for the Resurrection



On This Good Friday, I wanted to share the following article on the
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection with you.

The original article can be found here.

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday provide a rich time of remembrance of the Lord's ultimate sacrifice on the cross and a time of celebration because of His victory over death!

May you take time to consider and celebrate all God has done because of His great love for you! May you also take time to praise Him for Jesus’ sacrifice for you that you might have life in Him!

He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Enjoy this time of celebration with your friends and loved ones! Please see the below Article.

In His Steps and for His Glory,
Your Brother and Servant,

rlk

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Historical Evidence for the Resurrection September 12, 2007 Desiring God Staff

The historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ is very good. Scholars such as William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Gary Habermas, and others have done an especially good job of detailing that evidence.1 It is the aim of this article to offer a sort of synthesis of some of their key points and show the strength of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

A method commonly used today to determine the historicity of an event is "inference to the best explanation." William Lane Craig describes this as an approach where we "begin with the evidence available to us and then infer what would, if true, provide the best explanation of that evidence." In other words, we ought to accept an event as historical if it gives the best explanation for the evidence surrounding it.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

It is worth pointing out that in establishing the historicity of the resurrection, we do not need to assume that the New Testament is inspired by God or even trustworthy. While I do believe these things, we are going to focus here on three truths that even critical scholars admit. In other words, these three truths are so strong that they are accepted by serious historians of all stripes. Therefore, any theory must be able to adequately account for these data.

The three truths are:

  1. The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion.
  2. Jesus' disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ.
  3. As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.

Virtually all scholars who deal with the resurrection, whatever their school of thought, assent to these three truths. We will see that the resurrection of Christ is the best explanation for each of them individually. But then we will see, even more significantly, that when these facts are taken together we have an even more powerful case for the resurrection--because the skeptic will not have to explain away just one historical fact, but three. These three truths create a strongly woven, three chord rope that cannot be broken.

The Empty Tomb

To begin, what is the evidence that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion?

First, the resurrection was preached in the same city where Jesus had been buried shortly before. Jesus' disciples did not go to some obscure place where no one had heard of Jesus to begin preaching about the resurrection, but instead began preaching in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in his tomb--no one would have believed them. No one would be foolish enough to believe a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see. As Paul Althaus writes, the resurrection proclamation "could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."

Second, the earliest Jewish arguments against Christianity admit the empty tomb. In Matthew 28:11-15, there is a reference made to the Jew's attempt to refute Christianity be saying that the disciples stole the body. This is significant because it shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. Instead, there "stolen body" theory admitted the significant truth that the tomb was in fact empty. The Toledoth Jesu, a compilation of early Jewish writings, is another source acknowledging this. It acknowledges that the tomb was empty, and attempts to explain it away. Further, we have a record of a second century debate between a Christian and a Jew, in which a reference is made to the fact that the Jews claim the body was stolen. So it is pretty well established that the early Jews admitted the empty tomb.

Why is this important? Remember that the Jewish leaders were opposed to Christianity. They were hostile witnesses. In acknowledging the empty tomb, they were admitting the reality of a fact that was certainly not in their favor. So why would they admit that the tomb was empty unless the evidence was too strong to be denied? Dr. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence, if a source admits a fact that is decidedly not in its favor, the fact is genuine."

Third, the empty tomb account in the gospel of Mark is based upon a source that originated within seven years of the event it narrates. This places the evidence for the empty tomb too early to be legendary, and makes it much more likely that it is accurate. What is the evidence for this? I will list two pieces. A German commentator on Mark, Rudolf Pesch, points out that this pre-Markan source never mentions the high priest by name. "This implies that Caiaphas, who we know was high priest at that time, was still high priest when the story began circulating." For "if it had been written after Caiaphas' term of office, his name would have had to have been used to distinguish him from the next high priest. But since Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 37, this story began circulating no later than A.D. 37, within the first seven years after the events," as Michael Horton has summarized it. Furthermore, Pesch argues "that since Paul's traditions concerning the Last Supper [written in 56] (1 Cor 11) presuppose the Markan account, that implies that the Markan source goes right back to the early years" of Christianity (Craig). So the early source Mark used puts the testimony of the empty tomb too early to be legendary.

Fourth, the empty tomb is supported by the historical reliability of the burial story. NT scholars agree that he burial story is one of the best established facts about Jesus. One reason for this is because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimethea as the one who buried Christ. Joseph was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrein, a sort of Jewish supreme court. People on this ruling class were simply too well known for fictitious stories about them to be pulled off in this way. This would have exposed the Christians as fraud's. So they couldn't have circulated a story about him burying Jesus unless it was true. Also, if the burial account was legendary, one would expect to find conflicting traditions--which we don't have.

But how does the reliability of Jesus' burial argue that the tomb was empty? Because the burial account and empty tomb account have grammatical and linguistic ties, indicating that they are one continuous account. Therefore, if the burial account is accurate the empty tomb is likely to be accurate as well. Further, if the burial account is accurate then everyone knew where Jesus was buried. This would have been decisive evidence to refute the early Christians who were preaching the resurrection--for if the tomb had not been empty, it would have been evident to all and the disciples would have been exposed as frauds at worst, or insane at best.

Fifth, Jesus' tomb was never venerated as a shrine. This is striking because it was the 1st century custom to set up a shrine at the site of a holy man's bones. There were at least 50 such cites in Jesus' day. Since there was no such shrine for Jesus, it suggests that his bones weren't there.

Sixth, Mark's account of the empty tomb is simple and shows no signs of legendary development. This is very apparent when we compare it with the gospel of Peter, a forgery from about 125. This legend has all of the Jewish leaders, Roman guards, and many people from the countryside gathered to watch the resurrection. Then three men come out of the tomb, with their heads reaching up to the clouds. Then a talking cross comes out of the tomb! This is what legend looks like, and we see none of that in Mark's account of the empty tomb--or anywhere else in the gospels for that matter!

Seventh, the tomb was discovered empty by women. Why is this important? Because the testimony of women in 1st century Jewish culture was considered worthless. As Craig says, "if the empty tomb story were a legend, then it is most likely that the male disciples would have been made the first to discover the empty tomb. The fact that despised women, whose testimony was deemed worthless, were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb can only be plausibly explained if, like it or not, they actually were the discoverers of the empty tomb."

Because of the strong evidence for the empty tomb, most recent scholars do not deny it. D.H. Van Daalen has said, "It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions." Jacob Kremer, who has specialized in the study of the resurrection and is a NT critic, has said "By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb" and he lists twenty-eight scholars to back up his fantastic claim.

I'm sure you've heard of the various theories used to explain away the empty tomb, such as that the body was stolen. But those theories are laughed at today by all serious scholars. In fact, they have been considered dead and refuted for almost a hundred years. For example, the Jews or Romans had no motive to steal the body--they wanted to suppress Christianity, not encourage it by providing it with an empty tomb. The disciples would have had no motive, either. Because of their preaching on the resurrection, they were beaten, killed, and persecuted. Why would they go through all of this for a deliberate lie? No serious scholars hold to any of these theories today. What explanation, then, do the critics offer, you may ask? Craig tells us that "they are self-confessedly without any explanation to offer. There is simply no plausible natural explanation today to account for Jesus' tomb being empty. If we deny the resurrection of Jesus, we are left with an inexplicable mystery." The resurrection of Jesus is not just the best explanation for the empty tomb, it is the only explanation in town!

The Resurrection Appearances

Next, there is the evidence that Jesus' disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. This is not commonly disputed today because we have the testimony of the original disciples themselves that they saw Jesus alive again. And you don't need to believe in the reliability of the gospels to believe this. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul records an ancient creed concerning Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which Paul is recording it:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time...

It is generally agreed by critical scholars that Paul receive this creed from Peter and James between 3-5 years after the crucifixion. Now, Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Since they are the ones who gave this creed to Paul, this is therefore a statement of their own testimony. As the Jewish Scholar Pinchahs Lapide has said, this creed "may be considered the statement of eyewitnesses."

Now, I recognize that just because the disciples think they saw Jesus doesn't automatically mean that they really did. There are three possible alternatives:

  1. They were lying
  2. They hallucinated
  3. They really saw the risen Christ

Which of these is most likely? Were they lying? On this view, the disciples knew that Jesus had not really risen, but they made up this story about the resurrection. But then why did 10 of the disciples willingly die as martyrs for their belief in the resurrection? People will often die for a lie that they believe is the truth. But if Jesus did not rise, the disciples knew it. Thus, they wouldn't have just been dying for a lie that they mistakenly believed was true. They would have been dying for a lie that they knew was a lie. Ten people would not all give their lives for something they know to be a lie. Furthermore, after witnessing events such as Watergate, can we reasonably believe that the disciples could have covered up such a lie?

Because of the absurdity of the theory that the disciples were lying, we can see why almost all scholars today admit that, if nothing else, the disciples at least believed that Jesus appeared to them. But we know that just believing something to be true doesn't make it true. Perhaps the disciples were wrong and had been deceived by a hallucination?

The hallucination theory is untenable because it cannot explain the physical nature of the appearances. The disciples record eating and drinking with Jesus, as well as touching him. This cannot be done with hallucinations. Second, it is highly unlikely that they would all have had the same hallucination. Hallucinations are highly individual, and not group projections. Imagine if I came in here and said to you, "wasn't that a great dream I had last night?" Hallucinations, like dreams, generally don't transfer like that. Further, the hallucination theory cannot explain the conversion of Paul, three years later. Was Paul, the persecutor of Christians, so hoping to see the resurrected Jesus that his mind invented an appearance as well? And perhaps most significantly, the hallucination theory cannot even deal with the evidence for the empty tomb.

Since the disciples could not have been lying or hallucinating, we have only one possible explanation left: the disciples believed that they had seen the risen Jesus because they really had seen the risen Jesus. So, the resurrection appearances alone demonstrate the resurrection. Thus, if we reject the resurrection, we are left with a second inexplicable mystery--first the empty tomb and now the appearances.

The Origin of the Christian Faith

Finally, the existence of the Christian church is strong proof for the resurrection. Why is this? Because even the most skeptical NT scholars admit that the disciples at least believed that Jesus was raised from the grave. But how can we explain the origin of that belief? William Lane Craig points out that there are three possible causes: Christian influences, pagan influences, or Jewish influences.

Could it have been Christian influences? Craig writes, "Since the belief in the resurrection was itself the foundation for Christianity, it cannot be explained as the later product of Christianity." Further, as we saw, if the disciples made it up, then they were frauds and liars--alternatives we have shown to be false. We have also shown the unlikeliness that they hallucinated this belief.

But what about pagan influences? Isn't it often pointed out that there were many myths of dying and rising savior gods at the time of Christianity? Couldn't the disciples have been deluded by those myths and copied them into their own teaching on the resurrection of Christ? In reality, serious scholars have almost universally rejected this theory since WWII, for several reasons. First, it has been shown that these mystery religious had no major influence in Palestine in the 1st century. Second, most of the sources which contain parallels originated after Christianity was established. Third, most of the similarities are often apparent and not real--a result of sloppy terminology on the part of those who explain them. For example, one critic tried to argue that a ceremony of killing a bull and letting the blood drip all over the participants was parallel to holy communion. Fourth, the early disciples were Jews, and it would have been unthinkable for a Jew to borrow from another religion. For they were zealous in their belief that the pagan religions were abhorrent to God.

Jewish influences cannot explain the belief in the resurrection, either. 1st century Judaism had no conception of a single individual rising from the dead in the middle of history. Their concept was always that everybody would be raised together at the end of time. So the idea of one individual rising in the middle of history was foreign to them. Thus, Judaism of that day could have never produced the resurrection hypothesis. This is also another good argument against the theory that the disciples were hallucinating. Psychologists will tell you that hallucinations cannot contain anything new--that is, they cannot contain any idea that isn't already somehow in your mind. Since the early disciples were Jews, they had no conception of the messiah rising from the dead in the middle of history. Thus, they would have never hallucinated about a resurrection of Christ. At best, they would have hallucinated that he had been transported directly to heaven, as Elijah had been in the OT, but they would have never hallucinated a resurrection.

So we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith. We would be left with a third inexplicable mystery.

Three Independent Facts

These are three independently established facts that we have established. If we deny the resurrection, we are left with at least three inexplicable mysteries. But there is a much, much better explanation than a wimpy appeal to mystery or a far-fetched appeal to a stolen body, hallucination, and mystery religion. The best explanation is that Christ in fact rose from the dead! Even if we take each fact by itself, we have good enough evidence. But taken together, we see that the evidence becomes even stronger. For example, even if two of these facts were to be explained away, there would still be the third truth to establishes the fact of the resurrection.

These three independently established facts also make alternative explanations less plausible. It is generally agreed that the explanation with the best explanatory scope should be accepted. That is, the theory that explains the most of the evidence is more likely to be true. The resurrection is the only hypothesis that explains all of the evidence. If we deny the resurrection, we must come up with three independent natural explanations, not just one. For example, you would have to propose that the Jews stole the body, then the disciples hallucinated, and then somehow the pagan mystery religions influenced their beliefs to make them think of a resurrection. But we have already seen the implausibility of such theories. And trying to combine them will only make matters worse. As Gary Habermas has said, "Combining three improbable theories will not produce a probable explanation. It will actually increase the degree of improbability. Its like putting leaking buckets inside each other, hoping each one will help stop up the leaks in the others. All you will get is a watery mess."

Legend?

Before examining, briefly, the implications of the resurrection, I wish to take a quick look at perhaps the most popular theory today against the resurrection--that it was a legend that developed over time. The facts we have established so far are enough to put to rest any idea of a legend.

First, we have seen that the testimony of the resurrection goes back to the original experiences. Remember the eyewitness creed of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5? That is the first-hand testimony of Peter and James. So it is not the case that the resurrection belief evolved over time. Instead, we have testimony from the very people who claimed to have experienced it. Second, how can the myth theory explain the evidence for the empty tomb? Third, the myth theory cannot explain the origin of the Christian faith--for we have already seen that the real resurrection of Christ is the only adequate cause for the resurrection belief. Fourth, the myth theory cannot explain the conversion of Paul. Would he be convinced by a myth? His conversion was in fact too early for any myth to have developed by then. How then can we explain his conversion? Do we dare accuse him of lying when he said he saw the risen Christ? Fifth, we have seen the evidence that the empty tomb story in Mark was very early--within seven years of the events. That is not long enough for legends. Sixth, we have seen that the empty tomb narrative lacks the classic traits of legendary development. Seventh, critical scholars agree that the resurrection message was the foundation of the preaching of the early church. Thus, it could not have been the product of the later church. Ninth, there is very good evidence that the gospels and Acts were written very early. For example, the book of Acts never records the death of Paul, which occurred in about 64, or the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70. Since both Jerusalem and Paul are key players in the book of Acts, it seems strange that their demises would be omitted. The best explanation seems to be that Paul's death and Jerusalem's destruction are omitted because the book of Acts had been completed before they happened. This means that Acts was written before 64, when Paul died. Since Acts is volume 2 of Luke's writings, the book of Luke being the first, then the Gospel of Luke was even earlier, perhaps 62. And since most scholars agree that Mark was the first gospel written, that gospel would have been composed even earlier, perhaps in the late 50s. This brings us within twenty years of the events, which is not enough time for legends to develop. So the legend theory is not very plausible.

On the basis of the evidence we have seen, it appears to me that the resurrection is the best explanation. It explains the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the existence of the Christian church. No other competing theory can explain all three of these facts. In fact, none of these competing theories can even give a satisfying explanation for even one of these facts. So it seems like the rational person will accept that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

The Importance of the Resurrection

But, in conclusion, don't we have to ask ourselves what implications this has? Why does it matter? Or is this some dry, dusty old piece of history that has no relevance to our lives? I believe that the resurrection is the most important truth in the world. It has far reaching implications on our lives.

First, the resurrection proves that the claims Jesus made about himself are true. What did Jesus claim? He claimed to be God. One might say, "I don't believe that He claimed to be God, because I don't believe the Bible." But the fact is that even if we take only the passages which skeptical scholars admit as authentic, it can still be shown that Jesus claimed to be God. I have written a paper elsewhere to demonstrate this. So it is impossible to get around the fact that Jesus claimed to be God. Now, if Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb, it would be foolish to believe this claim. But since He rose from the dead, it would be foolish not to believe it. The resurrection proves that what Jesus said about Himself is true--He is fully God and fully man.

Second, have you ever wondered what reasons there are to believe in the Bible? Is there good reason to believe that it was inspired by God, or is it simply a bunch of interesting myths and legends? The resurrection of Jesus answers the question. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we have seen this validates His claim to be God. If He is God, He speaks with absolute certainty and final authority. Therefore, what Jesus said about the Bible must be true. Surely you are going to accept the testimony of one who rose from the dead over the testimony of a skeptical scholar who will one day die himself--without being able to raise himself on the third day. What did Jesus say about the Bible? He said that it was inspired by God and that it cannot error. I will accept the testimony of Jesus over what I would like to be true and over the opinions of other men and women. Therefore I believe that the Bible is inspired by God, without error. Don't get misled by the numerous skeptical and unbelieving theories about the Bible. Trust Jesus--He rose from the dead.

Third, many people are confused by the many different religions in the world. Are they all from God? But on a closer examination we see that they cannot all be from God, because they call contradict each other. They cannot all be true any more than 2+2 can equal both 4 and 5 at the same time. For example, Christianity is the only religion that believes Jesus Christ is both God and man. All other religions say that he was a good man only-and not God. Clearly, both claims cannot be right! Somebody is wrong. How are we to know which religion is correct? By a simple test: which religion gives the best evidence for its truth? In light of Christ's resurrection, I think that Christianity has the best reasons behind it.

Jesus is the only religious leader who has risen from the dead. All other religious leaders are still in their tombs. Who would you believe? I think the answer is clear: Jesus' resurrection demonstrates that what He said was true. Therefore, we must accept his statement to be the only way to God: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me" (John 14:6).

Fourth, the resurrection of Christ proves that God will judge the world one day. The apostle Paul said, "God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." The resurrection of Christ proves something very personal and significant to each of us--we will have to give an account of ourselves to a holy God. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we do not measure up to his standard. We are sinful, and therefore deserve to be condemned at His judgment.

Which leads to our fifth point. The resurrection of Christ provides genuine hope for eternal life. Why? Because Jesus says that by trusting in Him, we will be forgiven of our sins and thereby escape being condemned at the judgment. The NT doesn't just tell us that Christ rose from the dead and leave us wondering why He did this. It answers that He did this because we are sinners. And because we have sinned, we are deserving of God's judgment. Since God is just, He cannot simply let our sins go. The penalty for our sins must be paid.

The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says "He was delivered up because of our sins." But the apostle Paul goes on to say "He was raised to life because of our justification." Paul is saying that Christ's resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future.

Let me close with the sixth reason the resurrection is significant. The Bible says that Christ's resurrection is the pattern that those who believe in Him will follow. In other words, those who believe in Christ will one day be resurrected by God just as He was. The resurrection proves that those who trust in Christ will not be subject in eternity to a half-human existence in just their souls. It proves that our bodies will be resurrected one day. Because of the resurrection of Christ, believers will one day experience, forever, the freedom of having a glorified soul and body.


1 See William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith and The Son Rises, J.P. Moreland's Scaling the Secular City, and Gary Habermas' The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, a debate with then-atheist Anthony Flew.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are you "Going through the motions?"


Each day we have choices to make and in those selection of choices we have to decide once and for all how we want to live "our" life and who we are living for.

If you're a believer and follower of Jesus Christ then I trust that you're living your life completely devoted to Him and no other. If you're not living for Him I encourage and challenge you to do so - make that change now as you've been redeemed and should be living and walking in the newness of life He's given you through salvation because of His sacrifice.

If you happen to be reading this but you haven't come to faith yet, or don't understand why you need to know Jesus Christ or have questions, here are two helpful links for you to check out that will answer your questions:


Again, to my brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I should be evaluating our lives to make sure we are living right. The following questions come to mind and I encourage you to ask yourself:
  1. What kind of life am I living?
  2. What legacy am I living and leaving?
  3. Am I really living or am I just "Going through the motions"?

Related to this, check out this video/song and then evaluate where you are and if you need to make changes right now. Be courageous and to borrow a title from a book, "Do the hard things"

You don't want to live your life and then look back full of regret because you weren't living right!

In Christ,

rlk


(In Order to properly hear the audio you'll want to scroll down the right side of this blog to where it says Tunes, and then press pause on the audio that plays on this blog then come back here and press Play.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Bible, The Economy, Money, and You...



I've been thinking and praying about the economy as well as our mission as people of God and I wanted to share a few brief thoughts here.

The Economy:

With all the finger pointing going on today, especially regarding the economy, the thought came to mind that as believers, the only finger pointing we should really be doing is Pointing People to Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, the economy is important and a complex topic however, eternity with Christ trumps the economy as the economy is a “momentary light affliction” in the big scheme of things.

Our Conduct in relation to the economy:

Let's work hard to be good stewards of what God has given us in our personal lives, through the corporate world, and in our government.

I share this because I firmly believe that some of the solution to what is currently taking place starts with us managing our finances better than we have been, amen!?

We need to seriously evaluate our own spending habits and make sure to ask God for help to direct our spending of what He's given you and I. We need to put Him first and give of the first fruits of our labor and He'll help guide us on how to manage the rest as we actively seek Him on this.

Our Conduct:

Let’s be a light in the darkness as we shine out His light to all those around us. Let’s be His ambassadors and not stuffy self-righteous/Bible thumping people. The truth is important but no one needs to be hit over the head with it nor will we be as successful in reaching people for Him if we only take that approach, amen?

Let us instead be the encouragers and the encouragement people need in these uncertain times, and let us make sure to speak the truth in love and be ready to share the hope that we have through the salvation we know through Jesus Christ's sacrifice. Let's work hard and be excellent workers, co-workers and employees as this will also glorify God as well as make the team we work with and ourselves even more successful. Let’s meet the hurting and disconnected right where they are. Let’s pray for others and each other like never before because effective prayer is powerful! Let's get in the Word and stay in the Word daily or as regularily as possible.

Let’s just get back to doing what it is we are supposed to be doing according to the Word, which of course assumes that we’re in The Word. :-)

Some Questions to Ponder:

  • How are you doing during these dark economic times?
  • Are you seeking Him and trusting Him?
  • Or, are you trying to rely only on your own “wisdom”?
  • What does the Bible say and teach you about finances?
  • Are seeking God and studying His Word to see what He has to say about "your" finances?
  • Are you putting into practice any financial principles you are learning or have learned through the studying Word or through something like Financial Peace University?

Some things to think about – thanks for stopping by, reading this post and letting me share from the heart. Would love to hear your thoughts so if you have time, please leave a comment especially in regard to how you're managing things during this period of time. Maybe you have some tips or pointers to share with others? Share them here. Tips on frugal living? Share them here to the benefit of all who may visit.

Blessings,
rlk

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Football Game Gives Hope - Faith in Action

Here’s a story that I learned about recently regarding an act of amazing sportsmanship:

In order to properly hear the audio you'll want to scroll down on the left side of this blog to the area that says Tunes and click pause. You'll then be able to come back to this post and click play to enjoy the audio/video.





I share this because it has an obvious tie-in to faith and how we should love those God has placed around us, even those who may seem “unlovable” to others. Faith in Action!

Peace in Him,

rlk

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Current Needs: Software and Audio


Hello,

Wanted to share a list of the items I'm currently in need of for personal - mainly ministry focused projects and a few other projects as well.

Please let me know if you have any of the below items and are willing to pass them on to me or if you can help in some way:
  • XLR to USB Converter (to connect a professional XLR cabled microphone to a computer USB Port.)
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2000 or newer. (For web page maintenance)
  • Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate (A basic and more affordable program for Photo editing and graphics creation)
  • Or a Full Version of Adobe Photoshop (A feature rich Photo editing and graphics creation software - Photoshop remains the industry standard but unforunately you have to pay a less affordable fee.)
  • Swishmax2 or Swishmax (A more affordable Flash alternative creation software for creating flash elements for web, etc.)

Please pray that God provides these soon.
Thanks for stopping by and for your prayers!
rlk

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!


“For God so loved the world that He gave is One and Only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not parish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

Hello,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

On this day dedicated to love, I wanted to pause for a moment to remember why we love in the first place.

We love because God first loved us and laid down his life for us!

On this theme, I’m sharing a passage from 1 John 4:7 – 1 John 5:5 regarding love (the other “Love” passage besides Corinthians) as well as some history and a narrative of “St. Valentine”. There are varying stories or opinions on who Valentine was but I thought that none-the-less I’d post a somewhat historical synopsis as well as a narrative as if Valentine was sharing his story himself. I say “somewhat historical” because I don’t really know if everything is factual or not however, it’s still good to have some understanding of where the “holiday” started.

I hope you have a great weekend and that you send a “Love Note” to God – a prayer of thanksgiving and devotion for His great love for you.

I also hope you’re surrounded by those who you love you!

Please see the below.

In His Strong Love,
rlk

1 John 4:7 – 1 John 5:5
1JN 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1JN 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1JN 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1JN 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Valentine's Day History

There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine". Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine.

Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school.

St. Valentine's Story

Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't like Emperor Claudius, and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.

Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasn't going to support that law!

Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.

One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.

I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.

One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine."

I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lord is on your side! Encouragement during tough economic times.

The following is similar to a note I shared with a group of Christians in the workplace that I minister to/with and I thought I should share it with you as it is a universal message especially during these tough economic times!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wanted to post a brief note of encouragement - specifically to you who are concerned about the tough economic times or are facing layoffs.

We live in unsettling times - this we all know but we also know that although the times may change God does not change and we can trust Him and come to Him with confidence!

I’m reminded of the following passage from the Psalms:
"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" ~ Psalm 118:6 (ESV)
The Lord is on your side! Do not be afraid! Stand confident in who you are in Him and in His provision for you!

I know this isn’t easy to do but ask the Holy Spirit to help you and reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement, prayer, and to share your burdens with.

I’d like to ask you to remember to be faithful to pray and here are a few areas or prayers that came to mind:

  1. Pray for our leadership. For wisdom as they make tough decisions.
  2. Pray for our co-workers and ourselves that we wouldn’t worry as these things are out of our control.
  3. Pray that we as believers would trust in the Lord completely and be all the more wise with our finances and through what we do and say as well.
  4. Pray that we wouldn’t waiver in doing good and in doing what we are supposed to do in all areas of our lives.
  5. Pray that as many jobs can be retained as possible and for those of us that will be a part of any future layoffs that God would provide the next position rapidly.


In closing, let me encourage you again to hold fast to your faith and don’t lose hope. Don’t let these times get you down or provide an opportunity for the evil one to temp you to lose faith in God and in His provision for you.

If you need prayer or anything else, let me or others know. Know that I’m in prayer for you now and going forward.

In His Strong Love,
Your Servant and Brother,

rlk