Messiah in the Passover

It was a blessing to listen to Special Guest speaker, Scott Brown, at my parents’ church last Sunday. He did a wonderful job explaining the significance of the Jewish Passover and how it relates to the New Covenant with Jesus being our sacrificial lamb.

Scott Brown is a Jewish believer in Jesus who has been sharing the Good News of the Messiah with Jewish people since coming to faith in 1981. Raised in a traditional Jewish home in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Scott began his spiritual journey by moving into the woods and living a solitary life. It was there that a co-worker gave Scott a pocket New Testament. That little Bible launched a crisis of faith which eventuated in Scott’s salvation seven years later. Today, Scott and his wife, Marjorie, serve with Chosen People Ministries in New Zealand. They share the Gospel with Jewish people all around the world. You may check out their ministry here: Chosen People.

You will be directed to the beginning of Scott’s message if you scroll to the 25:30 mark on the bottom of the following video. . . . Shalom!

 

The Unglory of Morning Glory and Sin

At a distance, it blends nicely, adding pizazz to my garden. But on closer inspection, this blossoming spindly “flower” is overtaking my other precious flowers and vegetables, not to mention our yard! So I am changing the name “Morning Glory” to “Morning Unglory”. (Okay, I realize “unglory” isn’t an official word. But I think it should be added to Urban Dictionary, which operates under the motto: “Define Your World.”)

Morning Glory belongs to a family of unique and tenacious plants called Ipomoea. This is an annual, but reseeds itself so successfully you really wouldn’t know it. Although I have sprayed these “charming flowers” with 2-4-D, they keep popping up and quickly creep into other spaces.

God often has a unique way of grabbing my attention when I’m outside in His creation. Recently His Spirit prompted me with this question: What is charming and enticing like Morning Glory, at first anyway, but if left unchecked will completely invade your life?

If your answer is “sin”, congratulations! When once asked, ‘What is the definition of sin?’ Billy Graham gave the following answer (What Is Sin?): “A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.”

We learn from the Old Testament books of the law, Genesis-Deuteronomy, that the Israelites’ indifference to sin eventually ruined them.

I realize analogies often fall short, but staying true to my title, here are some facts and analogies about my Morning (Un)glory and sin:

  • There are over 1,000 types of Morning Glory flowers, from colorful climbers to subtle ground covers. . . . In searching for a biblical list, or types, of sins, I came across an interesting article: “The entire books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are devoted to revealing to the Israelites God’s laws. Jewish rabbis say that there are 613 laws in the Torah (Books of Moses). Of those, 365 are in the “thou shalt not…” category. . . . When we try to compile a list of sins, we find ourselves buried under the guilt of our own failures because we discover that we have sinned far more than we realized. The Law of God, or the lists of sins that we find in the Bible, serve as a tutor to ‘lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith’ (Galatians 3:24),” (see Got Questions: Is There a Biblical List of Sins? and Billy Graham’s article above.)
  • Growing Morning Glories is easy. In fact, once established they require little attention. (Surprise! Surprise!) Growing the “sin vine” is also easy. It has been established in our world since Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We are all impacted with this sin nature. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6). Even great Bible heroes failed God and disobeyed.
  • Morning Glory flowers are one of the best flowers to decorate our fences and walls. However, it grows with an uncanny speed and can be very invasive and difficult to remove. Likewise, sin appears harmless at first. But it tempts us to fulfill a desire in the wrong way. It easily decorates one’s mind with charming and deceptive rationales. If it is not completely uprooted, this fast growing vine will invade one’s life, wrapping itself around the heart, slowly squeezing and killing one’s joy and spiritual life.
  • Morning Glory is known for their tolerance to poor, dry soils. In fact, the plant can easily establish itself in any slightly disturbed area, including garden edges, fence rows and roadsides where the vine is commonly seen growing. Similarly, sin flourishes when the heart becomes hard and dry from neglecting time with God in prayer, reading His Word, and disobedience. Sin not only impedes reception of the Word, but also disrupts our fellowship with God. Only through confession to God of our sins and repentance (turning away) can we truly flourish and experience abundant living.
  • Controlling Morning Glory will take several seasons. As I’m learning with a lawn that used to be a pasture, persistent seeds in the soil can sprout years later. (Did I mention Morning Glories are excellent reseeders?!) Completely removing the plants can be frustrating with many years long in the task. . . . As Christians, we know that “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6) so “that in Him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Thank God! Only through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, can we be forgiven and reconciled to our holy God. But how do we get rid of those stubborn invasive sin seeds that persistently sprout and entangle?

I found the following article helpful: How Can I Overcome Sin in My Christian Life? In summary: “In this lifetime, we will never be perfectly victorious over sin (1 John 1:8), but that should still be our goal. With God’s help, and by following the principles of His Word, we can progressively overcome sin and become more and more like Christ.” Applying these disciplines will help nix stubborn sin habits: 1) The filling of the Holy Spirit; 2) Daily Bible reading/study; 3) Prayer; 4) Church – fellowship with other believers.

Living God’s way, empowered by His Holy Spirit, makes life productive and fulfilling. But it requires discipline and being intentional.

Have a great week!

Leaving Footprints For Those Who Cannot

The following is based on a true story. However, I revised a few details.

(Photo credit: shutterstock)

I was terrified. My parents will kill me! I thought. I had been dating the same guy for two years. We used protection, most of the time anyway.

I finally broke the news to my boyfriend: “I’m pregnant”.

“You have to get an abortion,” he said. “I’ll pay for it.”

Fear paralyzed me. I had let my parents down. At the age of 15, I couldn’t afford to raise a child, let alone pay for the hospital bill. And what about my plans of becoming a doctor?

Although I never told my parents, nobody else offered me any other options. My best friend drove me to the abortion clinic and let me stay at her place afterwards until I felt normal again.

I admit, I felt a burden lift immediately afterwards. But now depression taunts me. When I see a mom with her baby, I can’t help but wonder about the baby I aborted. Was my baby a boy or a girl? What color of hair and eyes would she have had? What would her personality be like?

Every time I visit a gynecologist and have to fill out my medical history, I am reminded that I am part of a national statistic as a parent. I chose to abort my first child. And I have to ask myself: What did I miss with my child because I chose to abort? How would my life be different if I knew the options then that I know now?

***

Every day a young girl becomes pregnant. She is usually afraid and many times feels alone and unsure where to turn. At Life Choices Clinic in Lewiston, Idaho, a trained Pregnancy Coach helps her by talking through her fears without judgment, confirms her pregnancy with a free pregnancy test and free ultrasound, and provides information she needs to make an informed decision. A wide variety of classes are also available.

Life Choices Clinic is a non-profit Christian ministry affiliated with Care Net. This ministry is dedicated to upholding the sanctity of all human life by offering life-affirming choices through providing pregnancy related medical and other support services in a compassionate, nonjudgmental environment. The Life Choices staff envisions a culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions are transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families.

 

The Secret of a Fruitful Life

(bibleversestogo.com)

Have you ever felt an inner war between the person you would love to be and the person who just can’t get it right? I know I have. In “The Essentials of the Faith” series, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares a great message for all of us who struggle in this area: The Secret of a Fruitful Life (July 15, 2018).

Have a great week!