Why Intentional Preteen Ministry?

Do We Need to Repent?

article by site founder, Connie Rice:

We’ve all seen people on street corners holding a hand-made sign that says to repent. There’s a tendency for many to ignore or to think they are a bit weird. Perhaps a few might wave at them or give them a thumb’s up. How many of us would consider making a sign of our own and using our free time to stand somewhere, warning people to repent? Movies and TV shows will sometimes show people doing that and they are generally portrayed as social misfits or someone who is mentally challenged. In reading in the book of Matthew recently, I found myself wondering how people in our culture would respond if John the Baptist had instead arrived in our day and was publicly calling people to repent because the kingdom of God was near. He is described differently from others in Scripture. He didn’t seem to have a regular home and was clothed in camel hair with a leather belt and ate honey and locusts. His appearing followed a 400-year period of God’s silence. That’s a long time that encompassed many generations.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him’.’ John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

Matthew 3:1-6

Comparing that to present day, I was reminded of how each generation in recent history has moved farther away from God and the truth of His Word in merely 75 years. Being American and having a worldview that was generally biblical went hand in hand. The evils of the 20th Century with the holocaust horrors of World War II as well as the murderous communist takeover in China were plain to see. There were also violent communist takeovers in Cuba, Cambodia, and Viet Nam (the last two influenced by U.S. media reports and communist-funded student anti-war protests). You can learn more from The Epoch Times series, “The Dark Origins of Communism”. The 60’s brought many changes to American culture, but most people still wanted good to prevail and recognized that God was the source of what was good and that He had blessed America and miraculously protected her since inception.

“Historically, the Christian Worldview has been determined by the answers to two questions: What is Truth? Why are we alive? These are the two most basic questions that can be asked about human existence. Of course, for us to even ask these questions flies in the face of the common modern worldviews, which deny the existence of Truth, Purpose, and Direction in the universe. For us to say, ‘these questions make sense’,” presupposes the Christian Worldview.”

quote from article, “The Essential Christian Worldview What is Truth? Why are We Alive? “ by Bible.org

So much has changed in my lifetime. Younger generations have had Bible reading and prayer removed from public schools and have been taught Darwinian evolution as fact (even thought recent discoveries has brought more problems with that premise than when I was taught evolution as a theory). The history of America in textbooks has been altered with leftist ideology. This, along with a cultural acceptance of both immoral behavior (according to God) and the killing of unborn children being sold as freedoms are just some of the influences that have drawn America farther away from God and subsequently farther from His blessings and protection. There are so many amazing quotes from our founding fathers. The familiar quote from Patrick Henry is, “Give me liberty or give me death!”, but he said more than that:

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Patrick Henry

The history of our country has been rewritten so that younger generations do not understand the principles on which our nation was founded or how precious our freedoms are (America had been referred to as a beacon of hope around the world, where liberty and self-determination set the stage for people to have the opportunity to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from – to form a classless society unlike previous nations). Ronald Reagan’s quote is proving to be quite prophetic:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Ronald Reagan

Those even somewhat familiar with the Bible know of John the Baptist and his call to repent, but if he were here now – would people receive his message and submit their lives to God, repenting of their sin? Would they instead dismiss him as an odd character? What does it mean to repent? Is the call to repent something we should take seriously or do we consider it to be outdated and extreme? Does anyone else in the Bible call people to repent? If so, who are they and what do they say about it? Just a sample of Scripture examples are included below – from the Old Testament, the New Testament (including Jesus’ words and from the book of Revelation describing the end times):

“To repent and to convert involved obedience to God’s revealed will, placing trust in Him, turning away from all evil and ungodliness. Each person was to ‘turn from his wicked evil way’ ( Jer 26:3 ; 36:3 ). Amos gave God’s lament, that despite all He had done for or to the people, ‘yet you have not returned to me’ (4:4, 8-11). Hosea anticipated the day when Israel ‘will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king’ ( 3:5 ). Thus he pled with them to return to the Lord their God and to say, ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously’ ( 14:2b ).”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing Old Testament Scripture

“In both Mark ( 1:15 ) and Matthew ( 4:17 ) Jesus began His public proclamation with the call ‘Repent.’ Mark connects it with believing the good news; Matthew, with the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. While Luke does not include this initial call, he notes several strong calls for repentance in Jesus’ teachings (see esp. 10:13 ; 11:32 ; Luke 13:3 Luke 13:5 ; 17:3-4 ). The Book of Acts often connects metanoia [metavnoia] with remission of sins (see 2:38 ; 3:19 ; 5:31 ; 8:22 ; Acts 26:18 Acts 26:20 ). There are strong reminiscences here of John’s proclamations, but one striking difference is in the audiences. While John addressed Jewish hearers only, those in Acts were comprised of Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. The first four incidents feature Peter as speaker; the last text refers to Paul’s statement about his mission. In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to ‘turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus’ ( 20:21 ). These two elements are also found in the Markan account, where Jesus called people to ‘repent and believe [in the good news about himself]’ ( Mark 1:15 ). Further, metanoia [metavnoia] is joined with epistrepho [ejpistrevfw] in Acts 3:19 (Peter) and 26:20 (Paul). Thus, repentance leads to conversion, and ‘deeds consistent with repentance’ are to follow.”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing some New Testament Scripture & Jesus’s words

These are just some of the references in the Bible about the necessity of turning away from our sin and toward God. In His revealed Word (the Bible), God reveals Himself to us, explains what sin is and what following Him is, and progressively reveals the way of salvation. He didn’t hide from us or leave us ignorant of who we are and how to live. He gave us truth both through His inspired word in print and in the person of Jesus Christ. The importance of repentance is reiterated throughout Scripture and Jesus Himself called on people to repent and believe (in Him for salvation). The role of John the Baptist was to show people their need to repent (turn away) from their sins and be baptized with water in order to prepare them for the arrival of the “lamb of God” (Jesus Christ) from whom they would receive salvation and be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’!”

John 1:29

The book of Revelation references the end times. Believers are called to repent here too, before the second coming of the Lord. Sadly, those outside the church did not those warnings and thus would still be dead in their sins standing alone (without the righteousness of Christ) in judgment before a holy God. The time to make a decision to repent and turn from what God calls sin (not what the world says) is now. He wants that none should perish, but give us the freedom to not choose Him and His ways. The consequences of our choice is eternal and can be grave. We will all die and leave our physical bodies. The question for all of us is, will we repent of our sin (we have all fallen short of God’s perfection) and accept the salvation Jesus freely offers us while we still can or will we delay thinking about it until our time runs out? We may not have John the Baptist in our day calling on us to repent, but God has protected the Bible throughout the ages so we could still clearly hear the message.

“Finally, metanoia [metanoevw] is frequent in Revelation, often as part of formulaic exhortations (Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:16 Revelation 2:21-22 ; Revelation 3:3 Revelation 3:19 ). Believers are called to repent of various malpractices, and to exercise their former faithfulness. Those outside the church, despite various warnings, did not repent of their deeds ( 9:20-21; Revelation 16:9 Revelation 16:11 ).”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing New Testament Scripture from book of Revelation

We do not know the date Jesus is coming back, but we know He will come for His children and then He will come to fight evil. Since we’ve read the end of the book, we know He will be victorious. Don’t let the lies, deceptions, and temptations from the prince of this world rob you of eternity in heaven and the peace and soul satisfaction here on earth that only comes from God. We really are in a battle between good and evil (which can be dressed up to appear good – Satan offers only counterfeits of what God offers and leaves people unsatisfied). Accept the gift that Jesus freely offers because of His love for you (although it cost Him everything). You can learn more about this on this site’s “Good News” page. Study the Bible so you can develop discernment and not be a patsy for the Father of Lies (as Jesus calls him) who seeks to destroy. His influence is revealed where conflict, division, greed, arrogance, pride, self-centeredness, or lust for power/money/control exists (our human nature easily goes there).

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

© Constance Rice 2021

Discerning Truth

article by site founder, Connie Rice

For those of us who have been around a while, it can feel like we’ve been living in an alternate universe recently, or in a “Twilight Zone” episode? What is good is being called evil while what is evil is being called good (see article, “Confusing Evil With Good by Billy Graham). People are divided in their goals and opinions. Civil discourse seems to have disappeared. Tolerance for differing views is becoming rare and even silenced. Corruption is being revealed in previously trusted leaders and institutions. Confusion has been increasing. Freedom of speech is under immense attack, reminiscent of tyrannies throughout history. Some churches are under attack and some seem oblivious. We may wonder if it is even possible to discern truth any more. For several years, I’ve been praying for truth to prevail and that things done in secret and in the dark would be revealed. As time went on, the prevalence of lies that have been foisted upon us became more clear, along with awareness of the damage done to people who believe them, as well as to our culture overall. Sadly, those in younger generations seem to have been targeted the most. People are hungry for meaning in their lives and search out multiple ways to try to find it, but do not realize that soul-satisfying meaning, peace, comfort, and supernatural strength are found only when we seek out the One who created us. As we accept who God says we are – sinful beings who He loved so much that He willingly suffered and died to pay the price for our sins, we realize our value in His eyes. We also learn that the Lord is also holy and that He will judge sin once and for all.

They killed Him by hanging Him on a cross, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

Acts 10:39b-43

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 5:20-24

The increase in evil around us is no surprise to those familiar with the Bible’s teachings. We recognize that evil increases as people move away from God, and that much of what we are seeing now was prophesied as signs of the End Times (see article from “Got Questions” titles, “Are We Living in the End Times?”). Unfortunately, many have turned from God’s teachings and try to determine good and evil for themselves. This is not new in human history – it began in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve and has been the case ever since. Before times of God’s judgment on humanity’s evil in the Old Testament during the time of the Judges, Scripture repeatedly says, “the people did what was right in their own eyes”. As Creator of the universe (and us), God is the only one who has the authority to rightly define good and evil. He gave us the gift of free will, but like all choices – our decisions have consequences that affect not only us, but those around us. We ignore God’s Word to our own peril.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 21:25 

“The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Proverbs 14:11-12

Jesus loves mankind and chose to die for every person’s sin, but sadly – not every person will repent from the sin in their lives, ask for forgiveness, trust in Him for salvation, and submit to His Lordship in their lives. The consequences of rejecting Him or refusing to obey His commands are heavy, so we should truly give this the consideration it deserves. This life is short – my prayer is that all people will respond to His call on their lives before Jesus comes for His children (the Rapture), which according to Scripture, could be imminent. Once God removes His people from the world, evil will spread exponentially and many will be deceived. We have recently gotten a look at the increase in evil as our country and culture have continually moved farther away from God and His Word. People can still be saved by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior after the Rapture, but it will be a very scary time and their lives will be marked with more intense persecution. Many Christians already suffer intense persecution in the world. According to “Open Doors” ministry to persecuted Christians, it is rising around the world. So why become a Christian? – because it is the only way of salvation. This life is temporary and each day has trouble of its own, but the choices we make here affect not only our lives here and the lives of others, but our eternity.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.  Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.  And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.”

Jesus’ words in John 5:24-27

We were warned. Jesus told us that Satan is the prince of this world and that He is the father of lies and that he looks for those who he might devour. He tries to keep people from finding their Savior. For those who have found Jesus and have surrendered our lives to Him, Satan seeks to deceive and tempt us away from a close relationship with our Lord by causing us to drift from Him or doubt His goodness or to seek pleasure (makes me think of Pinocchio being pulled in to Pleasure Island). When we finally figure out that God wants the best for us – He allows trials to draw us closer to Himself, to humble us, to make us more like Christ, and He gives us the power through the Holy Spirit to follow His ways. When we live this way, Satan loses his power over us because although we are no match for his wiles, Jesus has already been victorious over his attacks. Some have a false expectation that being a Christian brings ease and a comfortable life, but that is not what was promised. What was promised is that when we follow the Lord and His ways, we can experience the supernatural peace, joy, and strength that the world cannot offer, regardless of our circumstances. We no longer have to be controlled by our sinful nature and we know that we’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more evil, and we won’t have to battle our own sinful nature any more – how glorious that will be!

“Generally speaking, the ungodly are those who do not know God through Jesus Christ. They have rejected God’s Son and remain in their sins. Those who are in Christ have their sins forgiven and are becoming more godly. Believers naturally seek to remove all ungodliness from their lives (1 John 3:9).”

from “Got Questions”‘ article,“What is Ungodliness?”

Those of us who have experienced a close relationship with Jesus know it is worth everything and we want everyone else to know Him the way we do and it is why true Christians value their faith above everything else in life. However, we still must be on guard against being deceived, so knowing God’s Word gives us the discernment we need because His Word is truth.

 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them. I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

Jesus prays for us in John 17:13-19

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Jesus and His Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl – Matthew 13:44


DISCERNING TRUTH FROM SOME OF THE LIES IN OUR CULTURE:

RACISM – there is only one race according to Scripture – the human race. All people are made in God’s image and are therefore of equal value. The only two categories that God separates people into in Scripture are those who are His and those who are not, the godly and the ungodly. The enemy wants to create conflict between people with division, suspicion, and lack of respect. Most people in my generation had rejected racism and had pretty much arrived at Martin Luther’s dream of everyone being judged by their character and not the color of their skin, so these recent lies are especially troubling.

If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

2 Peter 2:9

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:27-28

ABORTION – Scripture teaches that God knows us before we are born. Biologically, only human babies are born to humans; a distinct human being is created with his or her own DNA at conception when sperm from a male fertilizes an egg from a female; nothing else happens before birth other than development through different stages (zygote, embryo, fetus), just like humans go through other developmental stages after birth (infant, toddler, child, adolescence, adult). Abortion was actually legal and was only outlawed early in the 20th Century when development in the womb became more known. Isn’t it interesting that everyone who defends and promotes abortion was allowed to be born themselves?

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:13-16

EVOLUTION – Scripture assumes the existence of God and teaches plainly that He created the world and everything in it in six days. This is not just in Genesis – it is in other Bible books too. Even Jesus refers to Old Testament teachings as historical. For Christians, evolution would put death before sin – this is not a side issue, but is the foundation for the gospel. Darwinian Evolution has no explanation for how life began, but it has been proven that life cannot come from nonlife. The diversity and complexity we see is explained through natural selection (of course, one can only select from something that already exists) and random mutations (even when most mutations are shown to be harmful and generally result in a loss of information, the opposite of what Darwinian evolution would require). Long ages is the magic where miniscule probabilities somehow become believable. The amazing design of animals, plants, and the human body reflect God’s genius so much so that scientists study their characteristics in order to improve society. Then they take the glory that rightfully belongs to God. On a side note, how can a transitional creature reproduce without all of its needed parts working at the same time?. The first generation would die off. This is one of the biggest lies the enemy has foisted on society – that Creation could be explained without a Creator God.

“For this is what the LORD says – He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – He says: ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other’.”

Isaiah 45:18

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Romans 1:20

GENDER – Scripture and biology both teach that there are two genders – male and female. This has been understood for thousands of years by all cultures. Some may struggle with accepting their gender, but a male cannot become a woman and a woman cannot become a male. There are differences in the brain and in the skeletal and muscular systems that are set in place according to birth gender. We should have compassion for all people, but it is not compassionate to withhold truth from them – especially if it prompts them to seek to mutilate their bodies, preventing them from developing naturally. This is cruel, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous – especially when aimed at children, who should be protected by the adults in their lives.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus’ words in Mark 10:5-9

LIBERTY & FREEDOM – God has given people the freedom to choose whether or not to accept His free gift of salvation and to choose whether or not to obey Him. He is the author of free choice, but choices comes with consequences and with freedom comes responsibility (no, this concept did not begin with Spiderman). Our nation was built on that understanding – that our freedoms come from our Creator rather than from man or government, so that the government’s job is to protect the freedom of its citizens. Citizens were taught to be law-abiding citizens who respect the rights of others. The United States of America was founded as a nation ruled by laws that were based on biblical laws. Our Supreme Court has the 10 Commandments carved into it massive courtroom doors. The law of our land and the document that every government official takes an oath to obey is the Constitution. The Bill of Rights were amendments that were made part of the Constitution. A few of the rights enshrined in our Constitution are freedom of speech, freedom of religion to worship freely, freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom to own and manage property, freedom to bear arms, equality under the law, etc. Satan tries to get people to believe that their personal rights are more important than those of other people. The more selfish and self-centered people become, the harder it is for freedom to work. Some think America is a democracy, but our founding fathers rejected that idea because strict democracies become the majority oppressing the minority. They formed a republic with leaders chosen by the people to represent them. Government leaders work for the citizens as public servants. The shared Judeo-Christian values are what allowed our free society to work well together with shared goals. The farther we get from those values, the more corruption and lack of unity is seen. We were always a nation with a healthy fear of God and were blessed by Him and miraculously protected as a result. Because of our choices as individuals, as churches, and as a nation, we may now be facing His wrath and judgment instead.

“The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”

John Jay, first Supreme Court Chief Justice, President of Congress, New York Governor, diplomat.

“[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.”

Noah Webster – Revolutionary soldier, judge, legislator, educator, & author of “Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary”.

We can discern truth, but only if we allow God’s revealed Word to grant us discernment. His Word is truth. May every person recognize that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and choose to seek Him with their whole heart, mind, strength, and soul. God is waiting – He wants that none should perish. Let us each choose wisely and be ready to meet our Maker when it’s our time. Life on earth is short in light of eternity, so let’s not waste any more time, but instead be about our Father’s business and join His Kingdom work so more people can join us in the Rapture if we are not brought home before then.

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Romans 1:28-32

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really know Me, you will know My Father as well.  From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him’.”

Jesus’ words in John 14:1-6

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Oswald Chambers, author of highly recommended book, “My Utmost for His Highest”

“… the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning. We shall present you with one view of it,—that is the immutability of the glorious Jehovah. ‘I am,’ says my text, ‘Jehovah,’ (for so it should be translated) ‘I am Jehovah, I change not: therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed’.”

quote from “The Immutability of God” by Charles Spurgeon

© Constance Rice 2021

Speaking for God?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

In listening to various people who identify as Christians, some recently seem to be speaking for God or have “heard from God” outside of His words in Scripture. From what God Himself says about that, we should really pause before claiming to speak for Him when He may not have spoken. With Bible literacy at its lowest level in recent history, it is becoming more common for people to concentrate on one or a few of God’s attributes and adopt worldly positions or say specific things will happen based on that perception. God is love, so He would not… or God hates evil, so He will… God reveals His attributes in Scripture, but if we concentrate on His love and ignore His holiness and justice – we can open the door to false teaching and acceptance (or even encouragement) of positions that are actually against what God teaches. If we concentrate on just His holiness and justice, we may come across as uncaring or legalistic or claim He will intervene in situations when He may have something else in mind. Studying God’s many attributes is a worthy endeavor. This is what God said (through His faithful prophet Jeremiah) about other prophets who were “speaking for Him” that peace was coming, when in fact Judah was facing judgment because of their sin against God and would instead go into Babylonian captivity for 70 years, after which God would restore them and judge their captors:

“This is what you keep saying to a prophet: ‘What is the Lord’s answer to you?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’  Although you claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ this is what the Lord says: You used the words, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ even though I told you that you must not claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord’. Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of My presence along with the city I gave to you and your ancestors. I will bring on you everlasting disgrace – everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”

Jeremiah 23:30-40

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend My people: ‘Because you have scattered My flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done’, declares the Lord. “

Jeremiah 23:1-2

As Creator of our world and everyone in it, God is the sovereign ruler over the affairs of men and nations. He did not have to reveal Himself to us at all. The fact that He chose to reveal Himself to all who would genuinely seek Him reveals His heart for His creation and His desire that everyone would choose to have a relationship Him. He gives us free will – that includes the ability to choose whether to accept Him and/or obey Him. Obeying His commands gives Him glory and helps His children to reflect Him to others – to be set apart from the world with its deceptions and lies, so that others will see God’s love, goodness, and grace in them and seek Him for themselves. Our sinful nature can blind us, so it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit made available to us through accepting the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that makes it possible for any of us to live a life pleasing to God. Through Scripture, prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit, God reveals Himself to us and helps us to understand our identity in Christ. Left on our own, we cannot stand before a holy God and expect a positive outcome. When we realize the depth of our own sin, it humbles us and makes us more and more grateful for God’s grace toward us. It’s nothing short of miraculous how God considers us His beloved and how much patience He has with us as we seek to be obedient to His Word and His call on our lives.

“God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.”

Psalm 47:8-9

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’.”

words of Jesus – Luke 11:28

Some say that God is a God of love and so He would be condone sexual and other behaviors that He clearly spoke against many times in Scripture. Some use verses out of context to make a point and influence others or to try and rationalize their own sin. Others say that God hates evil so He will intervene in situations where evil seems to prevail. Revelation tells us how the story of earth and its inhabitants will end, and reminds us that Jesus is not only the Savior of those who place their trust in Him alone for salvation, but that He also has all authority. He came first as a suffering servant to take on the sins of mankind and make a way for those who follow Him to live in heaven forever with Him. He will retrieve His children (this could happen at any time or may not happen for a long time), fight evil, and make all things right in the end. John Piper’s article, “Behold, I Make All Things New”, explains this concept.

“The only trustworthy source of divine truth, guidance for your own spiritual growth, and instruction for the church is the written Word of God.  No emotional urging or mystical experience can trump the concrete, fundamental truth God has given us in Scripture.  Does God still speak?  Yes, but not in an audible voice.  He speaks through the pages of Scripture. The Bible alone has survived the test of time, and countless attacks from doubters, liars, and heretics.  Its objective truth is proved every day in the transforming work the Lord accomplishes through it.  Even the apostle Peter, who witnessed Christ’s transfiguration firsthand, heard the voice of the Lord numerous times, and performed miracles himself, counted Scripture as ‘a more sure word’ – the final word regarding God’s revelation.” (2 Peter 1:19).

John MacArthur quote in article by John Sundberg for “A Light in the Darkness”

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”

Ephesians 1:18-23

So what is the right response to the challenges of our culture? Speaking for God outside of what He has told us in His Word is not advised. Instead, we should read and study His Word, allowing it to speak to us, to better understand the things God has actually said and learn from the many ways He has dealt with situations throughout human history. God uses progressive revelation in Scripture – it may sound like a complicated term, but it just means that God revealed Himself and His plan gradually over time. Perhaps that’s why reading through the Bible chronologically is so helpful to many of us. We are better able to follow the history (like when we read a book with a timeline).

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

Colossians 1:15-23

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”

2 Peter 1-2

Understanding the basics of Bible interpretation (Hermeneutics) is also very helpful for those who truly want to know who God is and how He has worked throughout human history. Learn the correct context by asking questions of the passage or book (a study Bible or commentary can be helpful in answering some of the questions, but keep in mind that only Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit; all commentary is man’s interpretation and subject to error):

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.”

2 Timothy 2:15-16
  • Before reading Scripture, pray for the Holy Spirit to help you understand. He guides us into all truth.
  • Who is the author?
  • Who is their audience?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where it take place?
  • What were their circumstances?
  • Look for conjunctions that connect thoughts (and, or, but, if, etc.); although this can make your reading time longer than you may have intended (especially with Paul’s writings – it is best to keep going back until the verse where the thought begins and read until there are no more conjunctions).
  • Note any words, phrases, or passages that are repeated and pay close attention to them.
  • Look for commands – sentences or phrases that start with a verb (action word); is this a command for me to follow?
  • Look for conclusion words (therefore, so, so that, in conclusion, etc.); connects to what was written just previously.
  • What was the Lord saying to them?
  • Does it apply only to them in that time or to all people for all time?
  • Is there something I can learn about God in this passage?
  • Is there something I can learn about myself in this passage?
  • Does a promise apply to just the people referenced in the passage? If so, it’s not for us.
  • Does a promise apply to all people? If so, is there a condition to the promise (look for words like if, so, then, therefore, etc.)? If so, we can’t claim that promise unless we meet its condition. It’s sad when people conclude that God is not faithful when in reality, it is they who are not faithful.
  • If a passage is confusing or seems incongruent, search out other Scripture to better understand the passage.

If Scripture does not reveal something, that is by God’s design. Although we may be curious, it is not necessary that we know. He had told us what we need to know. Confusion in and outside of the church at large happens when people draw conclusions and speculate on issues that are not clearly delineated in Scripture. Regarding the end times, Jesus has told churches where their strengths and weaknesses may lie, has given them warnings, and has promised them a reward if they listen and follow Him. God has told us the end of the story – that Jesus will be victorious over evil and that those who put their trust in Him for salvation while on earth will spend eternity in heaven with him and will receive rewards based on how they spent their earthly lives. Those who reject His free gift of eternal life face eternal torment away from God’s presence (their own choice). We are still in the church age that Jesus instituted before returning to heaven, so the role of believers is the same as He gave His disciples – to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The book of Revelation provides encouragement and hope to His children that good triumphs over evil in the end, but also spurs each of us to share His truth to a lost and dying world that desperately needs the hope and salvation that only comes through trusting in Jesus alone for salvation. We don’t want people to have to face judgment for their sins. If we spend time and energy focused on details not clearly explained in the Bible, it may cause confusion and division, as well as take time away from what Jesus actually commands.

“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. ‘If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Messiah! or, There he is! do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time’.”

Jesus’ words to His disciples about the end times Matthew 24:21-25

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’.”

Jesus’ last words before returning to heaven Matthew 28:16-20

When we see things around us that increasingly trouble us, this is hard to do. However, when we seek the Lord with our whole mind, heart, strength, and soul, commit to following Him in every aspect of our lives, and trust in His sovereignty and perfect plan – we can live with supernatural peace, strength, and even joy no matter our circumstances. This take intentional effort, but it is worth the trouble. Anxiety and fear do not come from Him and we should not succumb to these attacks from our spiritual enemy. The truth is, God could take Christ-followers home at any time (referred to as the Rapture) and the time known as the tribulation could be upon us – God’s patience may have run out because of the continual rebellion of mankind and nations. On the other hand, God could turn things around and exhibit yet more patience so more people can be saved – He’s done that before in history when His followers thought the end was imminent (reign of Nero, etc.). None of us know what God will do next and none of us know the timing or the details, so maybe it’s more beneficial for us to be about our Father’s business and be faithful to what our Lord and Savior is asking of us until He makes His next move or until He takes us home. 2 Peter 3:3-18 is a long passage (verses are separated for easier reading), but it instructs us on how we should respond in the last days (we are in the toes of Daniel’s statue). The end could come at any time or it could still be years or generations away (bolded verses below for site founder’s emphasis):

3 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

4 They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’

5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance [bold emphasis added by site founder].

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives [bold emphasis added by site founder].

12 As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

13 But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.

15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Let God speak to you through Scripture and allow Him to miraculously transform you. There is such a deep-seated peace when we turn our worries, burdens, and short-comings to the Lord. He has that for every person who trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation and submits completely to His will. We do not have to live with fear or anxiety – He who loves us is faithful and His love casts out fear. After almost 30 years of following the Lord with all my heart, I’m still amazed that He chooses to use broken people in His Kingdom work. Let’s not waste any time, but allow Him to empower us to be vessels of His light in a world that desperately needs the hope that He freely offers. Life is short, but eternity is not.

© Constance Rice 2021

Shallow or Enduring Faith?

by site founder, Connie Rice

Why is it that some people seem to be able to weather every storm that comes their way with their faith intact (or even deepened) and others are challenged in a way that causes them to doubt their faith and in some cases, even walk away from it? After 30 years of ministry, I have seen both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, so I’ve thought about this a lot. Admittedly, I am not a pastor or a theologian – just a continual student of God’s Word who has been seeking after Him with my whole heart, mind, strength, and soul while trusting in His plan for my life. What I have personally experienced of God is that as I give Him first place in my life and choose to keep Him there, the love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, patience, grace, and power He freely gives continues to amaze me. God tells us in His Word that He wants us to know Him and He reveals Himself in the Bible. If we do not read the Bible, it puts us at a disadvantage for knowing Him. That can cause us to develop a view of who God is that differs from who He says He is. I wonder if that would be considered by God to be idol worship. Bowing down to statues is only one example of idol worship – anything that we hold in first place in our lives can be an idol.

“This is what the Lord says:

‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know Me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

2 Chronicles 16:9

If we go through life depending on our own wisdom, it can cause us to miss the blessings and sense of purpose that God has for us and we can also miss the miraculous work He does in and through those who choose to trust Him, obey His commands, and submit to His will and Lordship in every area of their lives. Some have misunderstand God’s hatred of sin – He hates it because of the destruction it causes His children and all people. Our human (sinful) nature causes us to have a tendency to justify our own shortcomings and rationalize our attitudes and behaviors instead of agreeing with God, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and asking for His help to better reflect Jesus Christ.

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever. He has shown His people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever – holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding.
To Him belongs eternal praise.”

Psalm 111:2-10

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in You.

Psalm 84:11-12

We can misunderstand God’s incredible patience for His approval of sins that we minimize in our own lives and in the culture of this world. His Word is true and can provide us with discernment so that we will not be deceived. God is holy, set apart from everything and everyone else. It is He who defines what sin is just as the creator of a sport or board game gets to determine the rules of the game.

“Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did – and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:7-13

Christians are to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ who accurately reflect Him on earth so it will gain the attention of those who don’t yet know Him so they can also find salvation made possible through His voluntary death on the cross. He offers those who believe the free gift of eternal life. It seems that many people hope they will be in heaven when they die, but the Bible wants us to have confidence, knowing that we will be in heaven. Jesus told us how we can be saved.

“There were some present at that very time who told Him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And He answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’.”

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Jesus answering Nicodemus’ question of how can a man be born again of the Spirit: John 3:14-21

With so few Christians reading God’s Word every day and allowing it to miraculously transform them more into Christ’s likeness, we can easily become influenced by the world’s teachings more than we are influenced by God. This is not only sad for individual Christians because it hinders them knowing God and prevents them from developing an enduring faith, but it is tragic for those who do not yet know their Savior. The prince of darkness is very adept at making sin look appealing and even making it sound right and compassionate. He’s had many years of experience studying humans and identifying vulnerabilities of which he can take advantage. We are no match for him, but he is no match for God. Once we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our life, we also receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us to understand Scripture, empower us to live a life pleasing to God, and we no longer have to be slaves to sin. Our purpose in life is to know and love God and to give Him glory. As we reflect Christ, His light is seen through us. For those truly in darkness, this light affects them the same as a bright light turned on in a dark room – they don’t want to open their eyes, but turn from the light. Those who are truly seeking the Lord will be drawn to the light.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:13-16


The article, “How Can I Be Saved?” from “Got Questions” may prove helpful in understanding all of this. While on their website, check out answers to other questions you may have. None of us know how long we will live and none of us know the timeline of God’s judgment on evil, so I pray that you will desire to know the truth and that the truth will set you free. What the world offers is temporary and counterfeit to what God offers. A close relationship with the One who created us is more valuable than anything else. Unfortunately, many will not accept it because its value is not realized until we actually test it out – by placing our trust for salvation in Jesus Christ and He opens our eyes (having eyes to see). The more we know God through His revealed Word and find Him faithful as we trust in Him, the more in awe of Him we become. We can have an enduring faith because of God’s faithfulness. Even though this life has much trouble, our hope is in our Savior and in knowing that God is sovereign and just. He will conquer evil and make all things new. This concept is explained in another “Got Questions” article, “What is the significance of Jesus saying, ‘Behold I make all things new’.”

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’. ‘To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be My children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.”

Revelation 21:1-8

In the book of Matthew, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” That question is one that each of us will need to answer and how we answer it has eternal consequences. We are given free will to choose our own destiny. I pray that you will choose wisely, that you would know for sure that you will live with God in heaven someday, and that you would experience enduring faith in the meantime by seeking God in His Word with your whole heart, mind, strength, and soul and trusting Him with every aspect of your life.

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways’.”

Isaiah 55:6-9

If you haven’t read through the Bible before, my personal recommendation is to start in the book of Psalms, then the first eleven chapters of Genesis, then the book of John, then the rest of the New Testament, then the rest of the Old Testament. Always pray before reading that the Holy Spirit would help you understand (assuming you have accepted Jesus Christ as you personal Lord and Savior), and allow the passages to speak to you rather than approaching the Bible with preconceived ideas. Set a time and place every day and pray for God to give you a love and passion for His Word. He will honor that heartfelt request. Once you finish the Bible, celebrate your accomplishment and continue to read through the whole Bible again and again until the Lord takes you home. I have found that reading through chronologically at times can help with understanding. A study Bible offers additional context, but remember that notes and commentary are not Scripture and therefore are not the inspired word of God. When reading the Bible, pay attention to who, what, where, when, and how as well as the grammar used. Remember that Scripture should be interpreted with the support of other Scripture and that verses and/or passages should not be taken out of context. Notice things that are repeated and respond to commands. Ask yourself if the passage applies to a particular person or group in a particular time or if it applies to all people all the time, being careful not to claim promises that God made to others and take note of any conditions that apply to any of His promises. May the Lord reveal His awesome power and majesty and His love for you more and more. We love Him because He first loved us – we know this because Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we could enjoy Him in this life and then forever in heaven. 🙂

© Constance Rice 2021

Umbrella of Protection

by site founder, Connie Rice

What is an umbrella of protection and how do we utilize it? Does it protect us from everything? When we submit control of our lives to the Lord, accepting His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and choosing to trust Him and obey His teachings in the Bible, we can abide in Him, which allows His Spirit to empower and guide us. God takes care of those who belong to Him. It’s amazing to me how with every command God gives us, He also gives us the power to obey through the Holy Spirit. We just need to choose His way over our own (not an easy road, but one that leads to truth, peace, joy, correct identity, and sense of purpose). That allows us to live under His umbrella of protection and blessing. That umbrella does not include a promise of physical protection or comfort in this world (although God may still choose to provide them). What God does promise to provide us with through Jesus Christ is that our needs will be met, that we will have access to the peace and joy that every person longs for in this life, and the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven in the next (death is not the end of us). He has been honest with us that we should expect difficulties in this world, but if we follow the path He created for each of us, at least we can minimize the added trouble we can otherwise bring on ourselves. There really is good and evil in this world and God is good. He has placed this knowledge in our hearts.

“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)  This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as My gospel declares.”

Romans 2:15-16

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Isaiah 5:20-21

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus’ words in John 16:33

My pastor recently used an analogy of the experience of his new puppy being outside and how the puppy could play and frolic safely when he stayed close to his owner, but when the puppy wandered farther away and ignored calls to come back – he ran into danger from a wild animal. Isn’t this exactly what we sometimes do with God? We can drift and sometimes not even realize it’s happening. When life’s struggles overwhelm us, we can begin to doubt God’s goodness or that He’s even there. We are easily distracted from the path He created for each of us to pursue. It reminds me of the dog in the movie, “Up” with his “squirrel?” distractions. Life is so full of things that can distract us or deceive us and draw us away from God’s umbrella of protection. As our nation moves farther away from God and His Word, we are seeing so many lies that are unfortunately deceiving a lot of people, even some in the faith. I don’t think it’s any accident that the New Testament has multiple warnings against being deceived in the end times. God is Creator of heaven and earth and made humans in His image, so He is the only One who can correctly determine what is right and what is wrong. He is unchanging and His Word is truth. To develop discernment and avoid being deceived, we must know Scripture. It is the primary way God reveals Himself to us and He never changes – that is so comforting in a world that is endlessly shifting.

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.” [bold print added by site author]

James 1:13-18

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’.” [bold print added by site author]

John 14:23-27

The prince of this world uses whatever he can to draw us away from God and to doubt His Word. He is the father of all lies and is skilled at making wrong things sound preferable and even good, “masquerading as an angel of light” (see verse below). This is further explained in an article from “Got Questions”. God has given us so many promises and is faithful to keep them, but it’s important to note that His promises many times are conditional upon choices that we make. I’m afraid many believers depend on God’s promises and doubt His faithfulness when they do not receive them, but don’t realize that although Jesus’ offer of eternal salvation is a free gift and available to all who will receive it, other blessings are contingent upon our obeying and trusting Him. We first need to understand the context of the promise (was it to a particular person/people in a particular time) and then if the promise isn’t directly to them and does apply to us, to check for a condition related to the promise. Chances are it’s not God who is being unfaithful, but us. The farther away we drift from God, the more danger we can encounter and the fewer blessings we will experience. My experience is that life is hard enough without creating more challenges for ourselves through our disobedience to the Lord’s teaching.

Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own; God sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” [bold print added by site author]

John 8:42-47

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” [bold print added by site author]

2 Corinthians 11:14

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” [bold print added by site author]

As time goes on, the confusion in the world is increasing and we are seeing culture intensify their push against God and His teachings. It is clear that the end times are upon us which should break our hearts for those caught in the lies and deceptions that this world is so effective in promoting. We are in a time where we must be diligent and intentional to seek the Lord with all of our heart, mind, strength, and soul and trust in His sovereignty, timing, and perfect plan. May the Holy Spirit empower each of us to lovingly and graciously share the truth of God’s plan of salvation obtained through Jesus’ sacrifice and victory over sin and death so that others may also receive the free gift of eternal life in heaven with their Creator. Although salvation is a free gift, each person must choose to accept it. And let us not be so quick to claim God’s promises without understanding that we may have a part in whether or not we experience God’s blessings. Words in following verses reveal the conditional aspects of each particular promise:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [bold print added by site author]

Matthew 6:31-33

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” [bold print added by site author]

Romans 8:28

“Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” [bold print added by site author]

Exodus 19:5-6a

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” [bold print added by site author]

Psalm 103:11-12

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked nor stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” [bold print added by site author]

Psalm 1:1-2

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. [bold print added by site author]

Romans 8:14-17

“If you love Me, keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” [bold print added by site author]

John 14:15-17

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” [bold print added by site author]

John 15:5-8

For the first half of my life, I depended on my own wisdom and understanding and was influenced by the world’s teachings. After finally getting to end of myself (God sometimes allows struggles in our lives to bring us to a place where we recognize that what we need is Him), I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and chose to follow His plan. The second half of my life has included numerous difficult times, but the Lord has been with me and filled me with His peace, joy, strength, & unconditional love, and given me a sense of purpose. I would never go back.

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love Him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” [bold print added by site author]

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” [bold print added by site author]

John 15:7-12

May you also experience God’s goodness and fully realize His love for you through your Savior, Jesus Christ, so you too can live under God’s umbrella of protection and experience the fulfillment of His promises, His love and goodness, and His blessings on your life. May you look forward with anticipation to the next step of His adventure for you here on earth and also to eternity with Him in the new heaven and new earth. God is sovereign over the affairs of men and sovereign over nations and sovereign over the future. The world’s claims of finding freedom through selfish means are lies. True freedom comes through following Jesus. Another article from “Got Questions” further explains this concept.

 “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [bold print added by site author]

John 8:31-32

© Constance Rice 2021

Trust & Obey

by site founder, Connie Rice

The concept of obedience to God has increasingly developed a reputation in our culture of preventing fun and being the enemy of freedom, and that we’ve moved beyond the ancient and outdated teachings of the Bible. This is so sad because the ability to experience God’s supernatural peace, joy, sense of purpose, and true freedom, as well as the abundant life Jesus tells us is possible while we are here on earth, requires that we put our trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and obedience is the key to unlocking the unique journey that God has created for each of us to have. Before surrendering my life to the Lord, I was completely unaware that He cared about me and loved me – at the time, I was just overwhelmed with my situation and cried out to Him for help. I knew nothing of His plan for my life and when I look back, I am truly amazed at the journey He has had for me. This journey has had hardships, but God has been so faithful through all of them and has taught me so much as the journey continues and will until He takes me home. I never knew before that it was possible to know my eternity in heaven could be secure, that I could enjoy such a close relationship with my Creator, or that I could experience such peace, joy, and sense of purpose in life. My cup truly overflows with thanksgiving to my Savior – He makes this possible for all who choose to trust and obey!

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10b

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

1 John 5:11-13

God reveals Himself in His word and has miraculously preserved it for us throughout history, in spite of numerous attempts over the years to destroy it. However, it is up to each person to seek Him through it. After reading through the Bible every year for a number of years, it’s so amazing how God reveals more to me about Himself and about the various passages I am reading. Bible illiteracy is one of reasons that America is experiencing so many problems. Ever larger numbers of people suffer from anxiety, depression, addiction, and confusion – even children now. People look for meaning or to escape in ways that end up being destructive. It’s heartbreaking. God wants more for us and looks for those whose hearts are turned toward Him.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

2 Chronicles 16:9

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in Me does not believe in Me only, but in the One who sent Me.  The one who looks at Me is seeing the One who sent Me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears My words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.  For I did not speak on My own, but the Father who sent Me commanded Me to say all that I have spoken.  I know that His command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told Me to say’.”

John 12:44-50

God sees all that is going on. He is not fooled by lies or deceptions or by those who speak seemingly positive things, but have hearts that are darkened. We can fool each other and sometimes even fool ourselves, but nobody is successful at fooling God. He knows our hearts and is completely just. If we’re not trusting in Jesus for our salvation so that His righteousness covers us before a holy God, the thought of standing before a holy God should cause us to shake in our boots – not because He is bad, but because He is so good. I don’t remember where I heard it, but someone likened God to the sun. The sun warms us, causes food and plants to grow, and provides us with necessary nutrients, but if we look directly at it, the intense light harms our eyes. If we get too close to it, we are destroyed. There is an ongoing spiritual battle between good and evil, between God and Satan (the prince of this world until Jesus returns and destroys Him and evil once and for all), and the consequences of who we choose to follow are eternal.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done’.”

Matthew 16:24-27

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands.  And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:1-5

Recorded in the book of Deuteronomy just before Moses died is a song that God gave him to share with all the people (including children) before they crossed over the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. It is referred to as the Song of Moses. God instructed the people to teach the song to every generation thereafter so they would remember who God is and all He had done for them. Even though we are no longer under the covenant of the law, the song reveals much about God’s heart for His people and how important obedience is for them to be protected and blessed. Interestingly, even with the covenant of grace, blessings are tied to obedience. Jesus also says that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. A blessed life is a life that is obedient to the Lord and fully trusts in Him. How can we be obedient to Jesus if we are ignorant of His commands? We need to read the Bible.

“If you love Me, keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.  The one who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them.”

John 14:15-21

I didn’t grow up in the church, so was not familiar with many hymns, but this one written in the 1800s has been both inspiring and comforting to me and it explains this topic very well. It’s appropriately called “Trust and Obey”. The song’s lyrics were by John Henry Sammis and the music was by Daniel Brink Towner. You can listen to it on this link, but can also read the lyrics here:

“When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share, But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove The delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, And the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet We will sit at His feet, Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do; Where He sends, we will go, Never fear, only trust and obey.

Although this is the opposite of what our present culture would have us believe and it may seem counter-intuitive to our finite minds, the way to true freedom is to trust and obey God and His word – there is no other way. Our founding fathers based our government on biblical principles, trusted God for protection and guidance, and set up our legal system to reflect God’s laws. The Declaration of Independence made it clear that our rights come from God, not from man or the government. Our government was designed to protect those freedoms. They were quite concerned about corruption and were brilliant in their decisions. Unfortunately, it looks like their fears were well-founded and even prophetic. The farther away we get as a nation from the truth of God’s word, the more strife, confusion, division, and host of other problems we will see. As noted in an article by “Life News“, Congressman Jerry Nadler, in responding to another congressman’s speech, said, “What any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.”. That was the first time in my life I have heard a national leader publicly reject God’s will for our nation. Sadly, this does explain the state of our nation at present as we do seem to be experiencing God’s judgment. How can we expect Him to bless a nation that has leaders who publicly reject His will? The following is an excerpt from an article by “Got Questions?” called, “What are the consequences of nations turning away from God?”:

“…when we honor the Lord and obey His commands, we reap the benefits of living honorably, morally, and honestly. A nation that honors God’s laws reaps that benefit as well. History shows that those that do not are often destroyed from within. God gives us His laws for our own good. He created us to fellowship with Him and walk in righteousness. When we do that, we are living within the healthy boundaries He established and are protected from much of the heartache and catastrophe Satan devises. But, when a nation turns away from the true God and becomes its own god, the Lord removes His protective hand and allows that nation to experience the world it has demanded.  Romans 1:18–32 shows us the progression of people and nations that have defied God and redefined morality. Homosexuality, unbridled lust, and idolatry are all part of God’s judgment on a nation that has turned away from Him. The good news is that God knows those who are His and promises to reward them, even when all others have turned away . Malachi 3:13–18 contains one of the most comforting passages in the Old Testament. It reminds us that God is watching, He knows all, and He will judge righteously. Even when a nation turns away from God, individuals within that nation can still follow Him and know that their names are written in God’s book of remembrance.”

from article, “What are the Consequences of Nations turning from God?” by Got Questions

Oh that everyone would recognize what an amazing God we serve and choose to seek Him with their whole heart, mind, strength, and soul, that they would accept the amazing gift of salvation and eternal life that is freely offered to them because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – who came to earth as fully man and fully God to live the perfect life that nobody else could and paid the penalty for our sins with His voluntary death on the cross because of His love for us so we could have fellowship with our holy Creator on earth and live with Him in heaven forever. This is truly good news – for all people!

© Constance Rice 2021

Is Judgment Coming?

by site founder, Connie Rice

The only way this can be answered is through the lens of God’s revealed Word and His past actions throughout human history. This may be a foreign concept to ponder for some. Most people are more comfortable thinking about the attributes of God that focus on His unconditional love for the crown of His Creation (all people) and His heart of compassion, mercy, graciousness, and patience. Some may not even know that although God promised never to flood the whole world again, there will be a judgment by fire:

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires, they will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

2 Peter 3:3-7

Beginning about 150 years ago, secular scientists rejected the biblical account of Noah’s Flood, proposing that the geological layers were laid down gradually over millions of years (uniformitarianism), and that the fossils found in sedimentary layers all over the planet died millions of years ago. However, new research is offering evidence that is best explained by a catastrophic global flood that separated Pangea into existing continents quickly through massive earth movement and plate subduction, creating the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the “Ring of Fire” volcanos when fountains of the deep opened up. Other evidences that a global flood has indeed happened only a few thousands years ago include:

  • Dinosaur fossils covering huge swaths of North America are buried in ash, sandstone, & water.
  • Lack of transitional fossils.
  • Existence of living fossils (thought to have died millions of years ago, but found alive with no evolutionary change).
  • Marine fossils found on the top of every mountain on earth.
  • 95% of all fossils are marine fossils.
  • Massive dinosaur graveyards in the same sedimentary layers around the world.
  • Fossilized dinosaur tracks.
  • Even though not displayed in museums that way, fossils of mammals, distinct bird species (cormorant, loon, etc.), and marine creatures are found with dinosaur fossils.
  • Multiple geological anomalies (folded rock, no erosion between rock layers, wave rocks, polystrate fossils, petrified wood, no roots in coal beds, etc.).
  • Dating methods offer inconsistent results with rocks of known age.
  • Soft tissue and Carbon 14 found in dinosaur fossils.
  • Carbon 14 found in coal (“fossil fuel“) and diamonds.
  • Historical records of a huge flood with similarities to the biblical account found on every continent.
  • Cambrian Explosion shows that every major animal phyla appeared suddenly, fully formed.

Much of this evidence has been compiled in a new book called“Flooded” by Dr. Jeff Miller of “Apologetics Press”. It is a full-color, high-quality, hardbound book and in my opinion, would be an excellent resource for preteens and older (I just purchased it and plan to add a link to it on this website under Creation books). Other great articles, videos, & resources on global flood evidence can also be found at “Genesis Apologetics”, “Institute for Creation Research” (ICR), “Creation Ministries International” (CMI), “Answers in Genesis”, & more. For the past 30 years, Geo-physicist and Engineer, Dr. John R. Baumgardner, has studied and written papers on his theory of how catastrophic plate tectonics from Noah’s Flood best explains existing geology. However, most importantly – Jesus Himself referred to Noah’s Flood as an historical event and explains how it will be when He returns:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come’.”

Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:35-42

We are not told when that will be, but we are given hints of what the end times will look like. Do you see any similarity to our present times?

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

2 Timothy 3:1-3

God told us in His Word that He judged the world with a Flood because of man’s evil. He promised never to flood the whole earth again. God gave us the rainbow as a symbol of that promise. At times, I have tried to imagine what He must think of the rainbow being used in recent years to celebrate what He has called sin. Those who create a game also create the rules of the game. God created us and has the right to determine what is sin and what is not (right vs. wrong). He has also impressed that on every human heart (we all know some things are wrong – murder of innocents, etc.).

“I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Genesis 9:11

God’s holiness is beyond our comprehension – He is perfect and completely set apart from us and hates sin because He knows the destruction it brings to people. That is why God’s wrath will be poured out on the ungodly. God’s wrath is not like our anger as explained in the article, “Six Things You Need to Know About God’s Wrath” by Pastor Colin Smith for “Unlocking the Bible”. One of the reasons why I love God so much and choose to live for Him with every day He gives me on this earth is because even though I committed a sin that He calls an abomination – when I reached the end of myself and cried out to Him for help, He was right there waiting for me:

“The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins.”

Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”

Psalm 145:17-20

Unfortunately, even many Christians do not have an accurate view of God because they do not take the time to read their Bible. God did not have to reveal Himself to us, but He chose to because of His love for mankind. He wanted us to know who He was and told us what was good and what was evil, what pleased Him and brought blessings and what brought negative consequences. John M. Frame for “The Gospel Coalition” explains this in his essay, “Divine Revelation: God Making Himself Known”. In our country, if we break the law, ignorance is no excuse – we are each responsible to be aware of the law and obey it. Likewise, being ignorant of Scripture will not be an excuse when we stand before a holy God who gave us the truth so we could be prepared. God knew we could not save ourselves, so from the beginning, made a way for us to be covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His sacrificial death on the cross and victory over death and sin provides a way for each of us to stand before a holy God without fear of judgment – this is called the “Good News” because those who trust in Him for salvation are no longer dead in their sins in this life and can look forward to a joyous time with our Savior instead of a dreaded one. Those who submit their lives to Jesus as their Lord and Savior will instead give an account and receive the rewards they’ve earned in this life.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

2 Timothy 1:9-10

Thankfully for us, God is also omniscient (all-knowing), so only He is able to judge people fairly because only He knows our hearts, thoughts, struggles, feelings, actions, and pain. However, we face a serious problem because none of us is perfect and are therefore guilty of sinning against Him. Will you agree with Him that you are not perfect and pray to receive the free gift of eternal salvation made possible through the love of the Father and the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Will you look forward to His return and to receiving rewards from Him OR will you be standing before Him in judgment for your sin? God doesn’t sent people to hell – He gives each of us a choice, but the time to make it is now. As Billy Graham said from the book of 2 Corinthians (see below) and as “Got Questions” explains, “Now is the day of salvation”. How will you choose? If you have already chosen to trust in Jesus for your salvation, you will be in heaven for eternity, but it is always good for us reflect on whether or not we are really following Him, obeying Him, and accurately reflecting Him to others so they can find salvation too, recognizing that God offers us help and power through the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to Him.

“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you’. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Yes, judgment of the world is coming – we just don’t know when. So many individuals, our nation, and even churches have pushed God away, ignoring or mocking His Word, and as was repeated in the Old Testament numerous times before judgment in the book of Judges, “The people did what was right in their own eyes.” or “Everyone did as they saw fit (link to article by Daniel Burton of “The Gospel Outpost”). Some of the issues of our time that God’s Word addresses are the definitions of marriage, family, & gender, protecting innocent life (conception to natural death), treating others as we would like to be treated, being honest, being humble, choosing godly leaders, supporting Israel, helping and encouraging others, being respectful of others, hating and turning from evil, and the importance of passing biblical teaching to the next generation. God may continue to show our nation mercy, but the truth is – He has already been incredibly patient with our increasing unfaithfulness and rebellion. Please join me in praying for a great awakening of historic proportion, that the Holy Spirit would soften hearts and minds to the truth for salvation, that our nation and drifting churches would return to the Lord, and that individuals would seek the Lord with all their hearts, minds, soul, and strength while He may be found.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”

Isaiah 55:6-7

© Constance Rice 2021

New Great Awakening

by site founder, Connie Rice

For a while now, I have been praying for a new great awakening of historic proportion – that the Holy Spirit would move in a mighty way to soften hearts and minds to the truth that we all fall short and will stand before a holy God, and so are in desperate need of a Savior. For those not familiar with the “Great Awakening” that occurred in America during the 1700s, you can read the linked article – perhaps you will notice some similarities before it took place to our current spiritual state. It really shows what God can do with just one person who submits to His will with their whole heart. Our culture has moved so far away from God’s Word that in 2018, it was lower than it has ever been in our country. On a positive note, there was improvement in most areas of Bible engagement for 2019 according to Barna Research. Unfortunately, the percentage of adults who were “Centered” (the Bible influenced their choices) dropped from 9% to 5% on the same chart.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:12-13

Bible illiteracy can cause problems not just for individual Christians and their fellowship with their Creator, but also for our culture and nation as well. None of us are perfect and as we strive to be more like Christ, we understand that we will never be 100% successful this side of heaven. In this way, we are all hypocrites – trying to be perfect while that is unattainable. However, when we do not partner with the transformational work that the Holy Spirit wants to do in us through God’s revealed Word, we deprive ourselves of the power needed to live a life pleasing to God and reflective of His love to others. Through reading the Bible regularly, we can develop the discernment needed to navigate this confusing and ever-changing world. Bible illiteracy can also cause us to develop a faulty view of both ourselves and God, which can draw us even farther from Him. Our hypocrisy can become the norm rather than unintentional mistakes. As God’s chosen ambassadors on earth, this should not be.

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Roman 3:21-26

In the times we find ourselves in, it can be tempting to put our hope in political leaders or medical professionals or human relationships or occupations or money or in any number of things. Sometimes, it seems as if evil and corruption is winning. As Christ-followers, our hope is not in this world; it is in the person of Jesus Christ who came to earth as fully God and fully man, choosing to give His life to pay the penalty for our sins through His death on the cross. He overcame sin and death through His resurrection, and sends all who receive Him the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which brings power to us in prayer and deed as we seek to follow God’s will. Jesus prayed for us before returning to the Father:

“My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. You are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one – I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

John 17:15-23

God has many attributes or characteristics. Some of these He shares with us (capacity to love, create, reason, etc.), but some are His alone (incommunicable). In trying times, I find those attributes to be most comforting. God is self-existent (has always existed and always will). He is sovereign over everything. God is immutable (never changes). He is completely just. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere at once). When this world is confusing, scary, and changing rapidly, we can hold on to God and His Word because they never change. When we are unsure about the future, we can be assured that He isn’t surprised by any circumstances we encounter. When we feel betrayed, we know He will make things right in the end. When challenges arise, we can trust that God has our best interests in mind and either has something for us to learn, is preparing us for something in the future, is humbling us and making us more like Christ, or He wants us to have more compassion and understanding to extend to others. It is important to remember that some of God’s promises were meant for a particular people at a particular time (not meant for us) and also that many of them are conditional upon our obedience or trust:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15

When reading the Bible, it is important to seek out the context and not bring our own ideas into the text. Helpful tools and resources can be found on this site under the heading of Bible. I would recommend a study Bible if possible, a Bible dictionary (illustrated ones are nice), and a handbook that gives an overview of each book of the Bible (What the Bible Is All About Visual Edition” – by Henrietta C. Mears,). A very helpful video tool is “The Bible Project” – they offer short (free) online commentaries for every book of the Bible as well as on major themes. Last year, as I read through the Bible, I watched all related videos through their “Read Scripture” program. As you can add them, other helpful tools might include a book of maps & charts (“Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, & Timelines” from “Hendrickson Rose Publishing”). Sometimes I put items on Christmas or birthday wish lists. That’s how I got my “Webster’s 1828 Dictionary”, but now it’s available online too. The definition of “education” has certainly changed.

Ultimately, the more time we spend time in the Bible, the more we learn about God, ourselves, and the world. That prepares us for life, giving us realistic expectations – there will be evil and life is full of challenges. It also gives us our identity in Christ – beloved and valued even though we’re flawed. The more we know the Bible, the more we can trust God with every aspect of our lives. And that is how we get to experience the incredible peace and joy that only comes from Him. It also gives us “eyes to see” (reason for the name of this website) Him working and the miracles He does all around us and through us. It causes me to want to be “worthy of the calling” He has given me and to choose to serve Him every day He gives me on this earth. I want everyone to know how much they are loved by their Creator and how He wants them to accept His free gift of salvation. If you haven’t yet done that, I pray that you will do that right now. He is just so must judge sin, but He made a way for us to stand before Him and give an account of our lives with the righteousness of Jesus covering our sin. Jesus even offers rewards for those who invest in His eternal Kingdom. His love for us is without measure and He has already proven it. How will you respond?

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:5-8

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.”

1 John 3:1-5

There have been signs of a new great awakening – God is working all over the world drawing people to Himself. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back, but we need to be ready and in the meantime use our time, talents, and treasure to point as many people as we can to their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, so we can all enjoy being in His presence together in heaven – with no more illness, no more evil, no more sadness, and no more death. The book of Revelation makes it clear that Jesus will conquer evil once and for all. The good guys win and we can all celebrate together.

© Constance Rice 2020

Biblical Issue Voting

by site founder, Connie Rice

What confusing times we are in – Christians seem to be divided on this election and some are emotionally charged, making it difficult to discuss the issues. Admittedly, all political candidates are flawed and imperfect people. Perhaps it may prove more helpful for us to look past the candidates and determine how to vote by looking at current issues through the lens of Scripture to discover which direction best lines up with its teachings.

Life: All life is created by God in His image, and is precious in His sight, so Christians who want to follow biblical teaching should vote for leaders who would protect life at every stage of development until natural death. God brought judgment upon those who engaged in child sacrifice.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:13-16

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”

Deuteronomy 19b-20a

Freedom of speech and religion: Scripture commands us to worship God alone and to share our faith with others so everyone can experience true freedom and eternity in heaven through a personal relationship with their Creator, Jesus Christ, which was made possible by His voluntary death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (victory over sin and death). God has blessed us with a country that has enshrined those rights in the Constitution. It is the first nation to declare that our rights are given to us by our Creator so that neither the government nor men can take them away. The government’s job is to protect those rights. Therefore, Christians should vote for leaders who make it a priority to protect our Constitution and its freedoms without interference from the government or other groups who would like to act against those whose speech they might deem to be unacceptable.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’.”

Matthew 28:18-20

“For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness     and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.”

Isaiah 32:6-7

Rule of law: Scripture supports the rule of law so we should vote for people who will protect the rule of law. America in its founding as a nation, and since, has been a nation based on the rule of law which had its basis in Scripture. Only with the rule of law can societies live in peace with each other, as each citizen honors the rights of other citizens (ie. the “golden rule”, which originated in Scripture (Matthew 7:12).

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12

“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God”.

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

“[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.”

Noah Webster – Revolutionary soldier, judge, legislator, educator, & author ofWebster’s 1828 American Dictionary.

Education & morality: Anti-God influences have gradually increased in America over the last 100 years. Secular humanism and evolution in schools, removal of prayer and Bibles from schools, mocking and misrepresenting people of faith in entertainment and media, promoting immorality (“sexual revolution”), squelching debate on various issues (Evolution, sexuality, race, climate change, etc.), narcissism, breakdown of the family, increased dependence on the government, sense of entitlement, and increased tensions (black vs. white, male vs. female, gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, etc.) have brought more confusion, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, suicide, hostility, abortion, divorce, fatherless homes, addiction, and more. Society as a whole reflects less patience, tolerance, and civility – now even to the point of violence at times. Our nation must turn back to God to avoid His righteous judgment, and pray for His mercy.

“The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

Noah Webster’s definition of education in his 1828 Dictionary

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were [emphasis by site founder – hope for all of us] ]some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

“The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.”

Thomas Jefferson – 3rd U.S. President, signer of “Declaration of Independence, Secretary of State, Virginia Governor, diplomat, & author of “The Federalist Papers”.

Gender & marriage: God created humans male and female – two biological genders, so Christians should vote for leaders who would resist attempts to allow biological males to compete with females in sports and to encourage children to change genders with experimental, body-altering, and potentially dangerous drugs and surgeries. Not only does this go against God’s Word, but against science as well (according to “Science Daily”: “male genes are expressed in all cells of the body”), so changing genders completely isn’t really possible using puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery. There is a movement of transgenders who warn against attempts to change genders (“Sex Change Regret”). God created and defined the institution of marriage and Jesus affirmed it, so Christians should vote for leaders who support God’s definition of marriage.

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man’. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Genesis 22:22-24

“The proud religious law-keepers came to Jesus. They tried to trap Him by saying, ‘Does the Law say a man can divorce his wife for any reason?’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.”

Matthew 19:3-6

Israel: God chose Israel as His chosen people and has miraculously protected them numerous times throughout history. America has historically been their friend, but one party in recent years has pulled away from supporting them, which could put America in a dangerous place. This is well-explained in the “Daily Republic” article, “Should we be friends with Israel?”, by Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet.

“I will bless those who bless you [Israel], but I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all the nations.

Genesis 12:3

“For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you [Israel] will perish; it will be utterly ruined.”

Isaiah 60:12

Race: The Bible teaches that God created every person in His image, and values every human life to the point of implementing capital punishment for anyone who would intentionally murder another person. DNA research has revealed that there’s only one race – the human race. Different characteristics among people are the result of genetic separation (when God confused language at the Tower of Babel, causing the people to disperse and cover the whole earth). The “Table of Nations” in Genesis 10 explains this and other non-biblical sources are given in an “Answers in Genesis” article, “What about Extra-Biblical Tables of Nations and Genealogies That Go Back to Noah?”, by Bodie Hodge. Different skin colors are only due to the amount of melanin each person has. This is discussed in the “Science Daily” article, “Genes responsible for diversity of human skin colors identified”. There is no reason for racism. God only separated people into two groups – the godly and the ungodly. We should vote for people who do not attempt to divide people according to their race.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

Acts 17:26

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

2 Peter 3:5-7

Divinely-inspired actions of America’s founding fathers: This is evident with the miraculous victory and creation of a government that guarantees its citizens’ rights as coming from God and not from government or man (first of its kind). More details are in my June, 2020 blog post, “America’s Unique Freedoms”. Sadly, the 20th Century saw the deaths of over 100 million people at the hands of socialists and communists. The article, “History’s Bloody Mess” by “Christian Research Institute” (CRI) may be helpful for those who seek to learn more.

“The Lord reigns forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

Psalm 9:7-10

Socialism & Communism: Both of these are godless ideologies and seek power all over the world. Proponents have been in America throughout the 20th Century, but remained a fringe group. Over time, they gained influence in education, media, and government. For the first time in our country’s history, proponents have become part of a major party. Their stated goal is to “radically transform America” and their more vocal members are clear about it. There’s no perfect candidate or political party, but thankfully God has provided us with a party whose expressed goals are to protect our Constitution, its freedoms, life, choice in education, biblical definitions of gender and marriage, is a good friend to Israel, and does not engage in race-baiting. God is patient, but Old Testament teaching shows us that after numerous warnings, His patience is not endless. The context of the following verses is that after years of sending prophets and warnings to His people, God allowed them to be taken captive by their enemies.

“[I]f you are not rec¬onciled to God through Jesus Christ – if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness – you must forever perish. [H]e is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”

John Witherspoon – Signer of “Declaration of Independence, ratifier of the “U. S. Constitution”, & President of “Princeton”.

“The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.”

2 Chronicles 36:15-16

Country at a crossroads: Much is at stake if we want God to continue blessing America rather than receive His judgment. The article, “How Can We Save Our Country?”, by Shari Abbott on “Reasons for Hope*Jesus” sheds light on this point. Our founding fathers understood that God’s laws were good for society and that if power goes unchecked, men would seek power and self-interest – leading to corruption and possible overthrow of the government. They understood well that America was blessed by Almighty God and that His Word (the Bible) was the key to good government.

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”

2 Corinthians 10:5

Prayer: Please join me in praying diligently for individuals and our nation as a whole to repent of rebellion against God and His Word, and that each person would vote for candidates whose agenda lines up more closely with biblical principles. Only the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts and minds of people for another “Great Awakening” and revival of God’s people. Let us speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect. Let it not be said of us that when it was our turn, we did not have the courage to speak truth in the midst of lies and deceptions. As was said to Esther by her uncle:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Isaiah 5:20

Resources: There are links on this site (especially under the Apologetics, Creation, History, and Outreach sections) to help equip people to have confidence in the truth of God’s Word. God made all humans in His image and loves us all, but also gives us the choice of whether or not to submit to Him as Lord of our lives here on earth. This is the most important decision a person can make. May the Holy Spirit empower us to live a life that accurately reflects Him so others can hear and respond to the truth and enjoy eternity with their Creator too. Only Jesus can fill the deep-seated needs we all have and has the power to set us free from past pain and mistakes, giving us new life.

“Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit. Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.”

Ephesians 6:14-18

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

© Constance Rice 2020

Avoiding Deception

by site founder, Connie Rice

I would venture to say that none of us want to be deceived, but the nature of deception is that we are unaware. We might ask, how do we protect ourselves from being deceived by others who may have an ulterior motive in deceiving us? Another question that applies to all people because of our human nature is, how do we keep from deceiving ourselves? The definition of deception is: “the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid”. Recent times have brought increased confusion as more and more public figures choose to use fallacies (a false or mistaken idea) in order to further their agendas. Unfortunately, logic is no longer taught in school so many people are unaware when an illogical argument is used. I was fortunate to have a father with a very logical mind, so learned about logic and how to identify illogical arguments from him. This issue is also a biblical one. Scripture teaches us not to be deceived and that we are each responsible for seeking truth; our choices have consequences.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

“Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways.”

Proverbs 14:2

Identifying deception from others: There are various methods used to deceive. Some are blatant lies, but some are more subtle:- mostly lies with a modicum of truth, mostly truth with a modicum of lies, leaving pertinent facts out of the discussion, perverting the truth with false assumptions, repetition of false statements, attacking the character of a person rather than addressing an issue, and using illogical arguments (ie. circular reasoning, “straw man” arguments , etc.). Dave Coppedge, founder of “Creation Evolution Headlines” (CEH) helps us identify these in his “Baloney Detector”. A book on this topic is “The Fallacy Detective” by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn. A book on logic by astrophysicist, Dr. Jason Lisle, might also be helpful for preteens and older. “Introduction to Logic” is his student book that answers questions, but there is also a leader book that even offers tests for those interested in teaching logic to a class.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

God’s Word tells us in John 1:1-3 that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”. Later in the verse 14, we learn that the One being referenced was Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth“. We see in John 14:6 that in answering his disciples about heaven, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” Later in the book of John (verse 8:31), Jesus says more about truth: “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” Those who are genuinely seeking truth can find it if they reach out to their Creator, Jesus Christ, with their whole heart.

Are we deceiving ourselves?: I found it both enlightening and a little concerning that the Bible teaches that being Christians does not negate our ability to be deceived or to deceive ourselves.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

1 Timothy 4:1

Again, the nature of deception is that we are not aware, so we need to seek the Lord in His Word and receive its truth, ask Him in prayer to reveal truth to us, allow the Holy Spirit to help us, and listen to people we trust who are close to us. Unfortunately, our tendency because of our human nature is to become defensive and reject these efforts by the Holy Spirit and other people (I unfortunately speak from personal experience as this tends to be my first natural response to criticism). When we deceive ourselves, not only can it cause unintended negative consequences in our lives, but it also limits what God can do through us. He is continually working in us to make us more like Christ and this is an area that can really limit our efforts to reflect Him accurately. The root issue is really pride and in order to be free from deception, we need to humbly seek the Lord and accept what His truth reveals in us. The article, “What does the Bible say about self-deception?” from “Got Questions” may be helpful.

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

Proverbs 14:8

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6b

In our culture (especially recently), stating what is true requires one to have both courage and conviction. There are so many now who are quick to verbally attack those who believe differently. America has historically valued the Constitution – the right to free speech, property rights, and due process, just to name a few. We have recently seen private property aggressively destroyed at will and people vilified and their reputations and careers destroyed even before the facts of a case are known. The farther our nation moves away from God, the more we see our society breaking down. The Constitutionally protected rights of free speech belong to everyone – not just to those who share our same opinions and/or beliefs. An open debate of ideas is healthy, but each person is responsible to promote and practice civil discourse. This is necessary for a nation of free people to flourish. Please join me in praying that our nation turns back to God – so that the words of our 2nd President do not become completely prophetic:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams

Openly and respectfully stating the truth is one way to counter lies and deception, and choosing not to participate in perpetuating them is another. As Daniel Moynihan said, Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. If each of us refuses to repeat something until we have researched the facts for ourselves, it would make a positive difference. If each of us would also make a conscious effort (I need the Holy Spirit’s help here) to be respectful of those who believe and think differently, it would truly help. None of us are perfect, but very few people are completely evil – speaking of people in those terms is inflammatory and unjust (sin).

“Censors of all sorts depend on the cooperation of their victims. Don’t cooperate. Don’t participate. Serve only the truth. Live not by lies.”

Michael Egnor in article for “Evolution News”

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:13-17

© Constance Rice 2020

Expecting Blessings

by site founder, Connie Rice

It is common for people to expect to receive God’s blessings. Unfortunately, some even pull away from God when they don’t experience His blessings, thinking that He does not keep His promises. Is this true? The Bible offers examples of God being faithful to keep His promises. He initiated a covenant with Abraham – that Abraham would be the father of many nations, that he and his descendants would have land, and that all nations would be blessed through Him. That covenant was repeated by God Himself to several of Abraham’s descendants and in spite of the unfaithfulness of His chosen people, God was faithful to uphold His part of the covenant throughout hundreds of years to ensure all mankind would have a way of salvation from their sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since God cannot lie, the promises He gives will be kept.

“God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

Numbers 23:19

If God always fulfills His promises, then some might ask why they have not personally received what He promises in the Bible. Years ago, I used to give books of God’s promises to nonbelievers and new believers so they would see how amazing He is. I quit doing that when I realized that some of the promises included were not in context and were meant for particular people in a particular time and not meant for all people or even for all believers. I pray that those who received those books from me did not turn away from God, thinking Him to be unfaithful.

We are all dead in our sin outside of God’s gracious offer of forgiveness to all who ask with sincere hearts – a free gift that we don’t deserve – it is only by His grace that we can be saved.

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

Those who receive God’s free gift by believing in Jesus Christ for salvation also receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a seal of salvation. The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible, guides us in this life, intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray, empowers us with the supernatural ability to obey and serve God, and provides us with a spiritual gift to use in the Kingdom and for the benefit of others.

“But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Romans 8:10-13

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

Even if God’s forgiveness was all He offered so we would not have to stand in judgment at the end of our lives for all of our mistakes, it would be an amazing testimony of His mercy and grace. However, He includes eternity in heaven and power to live a life free from sin’s power through the Holy Spirit. These gifts are are free to us when we turn from our sins, ask for forgiveness, and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, for salvation. His sacrifice paid the penalty for our sins so that His righteousness covers us. We have new life.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. “

Romans 8:1-3

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:20-23

In addition to those amazing free gifts, God offers even more blessings. What many may not know or understand is that these other blessings are conditional, so we need to fulfill the conditions in order to experience the blessings. Does Scripture teach that there is something we need to do or stop doing, or to change? Is there an attitude we need to adjust? Are our motives pure? What might be standing in the way of receiving God’s blessings? What does He say about who He blesses?

“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You. Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Psalm 84:4-5

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you’. He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’.”

Luke 11:27-28

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart.”

Psalm 119:1-2


“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:25

God does not keep hidden how people can be blessed by Him. Some of the ways listed above include:

  • Being in His house praising Him (church attendance).
  • Placing our strength in Him (trusting God).
  • Setting our hearts on pilgrimage (following His plan for our lives).
  • Hearing the Word of God and obeying it.
  • Walking according to the Lord’s law.
  • Keeping His statutes (God’s commands).
  • Seeking Him with all of our heart.
  • Seeking intently into the perfect law – not forgetting it, but doing it.
  • Keeping a tight rein on our tongues.

Jesus also teaches about God’s blessings in “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12) in His “Sermon on the Mount”. “Bible Study Tools” explains the Beatitudes in more detail here. A short video is included on that page.

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
  • “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
  • “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
  • “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.”  
  • “Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We can miss blessings that the Lord has for each of us in other ways at various times in our lives, as Scripture reveals below:

  • If we neglect to ask or ask with selfish motives;
  • If our pride gets in the way.
  • If we have unforgiveness in our heart toward someone.
  • If we have unconfessed sin.
  • If God knows the timing isn’t right.
  • If God knows that the blessing we want is not in our best interest.
  • If we are stubborn or rebellious toward God’s teaching.

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

James 4:2

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”

1 Peter 5:5b

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Psalm 84:11

“If anyone turns a deaf ear to My instruction, even their prayers are detestable.”

Proverbs 28:9

Being able to receive God’s blessings is not complicated. It begins with us accepting God’s free gifts and having a thankful heart for the blessings that He has already bestowed on us. Hopefully, the above examples will be helpful as reminders or in identifying areas where we may find ourselves at times. In fact, Jesus tells us which commandments are most important:

‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one’, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.‘ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

When we love the Lord with all of our being, we will want to obey Him and trust in His plan for our lives. That allows us to experience so many blessings from God. I’ve found that reading through the Bible over and over again, asking the Holy Spirit each time I read to help me understand, has been hugely helpful in knowing God. He didn’t have to reveal Himself to us, but chose to and has protected His Word throughout history – yet another gift and a blessing!

© Constance Rice 2020

Gaining Perspective

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Gaining perspective is crucial in life; it gives us a healthy appreciation for the things and people in our lives. Our attitudes are affected by our perspective. It is so easy for us to take the positive things in our lives for granted, resulting in our finding fault in petty or insignificant things. When the bigger things in life are secure, it seems that we become more irritated by the little things. I have met people who have experienced tremendous challenges in their lives who seem happy and even look out for the well-being of others, but I have also met people who have not experienced near the same level of hardship, yet seem to live in a continual state of misery or unhappiness. This reveals that our circumstances do not have to dictate our state of mind. We can choose our perspective. We can choose to step back and look at the bigger picture, recognize our blessings, and choose to be content with others, ourselves, and life. Not only is that the biblical response, but there is actually freedom in it.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11b-13

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

G.K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in creation: It has always amazed me that each fingerprint is unique and that snowflakes, animal markings, flowers, etc. are all a little different from each other, yet still have characteristics in common allowing us to immediately identify them. Each person is a one-of-a-kind original. Ponder that for a moment. Humans are such complex creatures – with intellect, creativity, talents, all kinds of emotions, and the abilities to love and wonder. Each of us wants to know that we matter and have a purpose for being here. The human brain is beyond our own comprehension. Besides having its own filing system for memories and knowledge and having the ability to learn multiple languages and complex sequences, the brain controls most of what goes on in our bodies without us even thinking about it. The systems are autonomic and are constantly at work on our behalf. In a healthy person, the skeletal system, nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, skin, organs, etc. all communicate and work together seamlessly. Some think this is a result of random material processes, but I see it as powerful evidence for a masterful Designer who chose to share many of His own attributes with us. Just contemplating how our blood clots after a cut and how our immune system is designed to protect us fills me with a thankful heart and causes me to be more in awe of our Creator’s genius.

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.  Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.”

Psalm 104:24-25 

Gaining perspective in relationships: During the pandemic, some marriages and families face more conflict as people spend more time together without some of the outlets they are used to having. It is so easy for irritations and minor disagreements or differences to seem larger than they really are so that we lose sight of the big picture and the blessings that we enjoy. This lack of perspective can cause more pain in the end for all concerned. The miracle to me is that any two people can get along at all, given how complex we all are – albeit for a lifetime. It takes determination, selflessness, and commitment – but the rewards make it a worthwhile goal. We must choose in our mind first, and each time our frustration or irritation level rises, take a deep breath and do not allow it to bring out the worst in us. I have found that putting myself in a time-out can be helpful (hey – it works with kids; why not adults?) because it allows me a chance to cool off, pray, step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes God gives me insight into the other person that I hadn’t previously considered, providing me with better understanding. Other times, He shows me that I am the one in need of an attitude adjustment.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:2-3

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13

Gaining perspective regarding our country: Without sufficient knowledge of other forms of government and what it’s like to live under them, people may not understand how blessed we are to live in America with its republican form of government and guaranteed freedoms. The most recent generations have enjoyed more prosperity than American generations before them as well as more freedom to choose their own paths. However, there is an overall decrease in gratitude and satisfaction as well as an increase in depression and suicide. This is both troubling and sad. Historically, generations have faced more serious circumstances (famine, disease, devastating wars, the Depression, oppressive totalitarian governments, genocide, torture, severe poverty, loss of multiple loved ones, lack of rule of law, etc.) which prevented them from concentrating on lesser problems. The trials of life are what shape us and I believe that the faith of previous generations was part of their amazing strength and resiliency. They did not expect this life to be easy and so had a better perspective and response to challenges. Those who have come to America from oppressive and/or poverty-stricken countries understand that our country is amazing.

“Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

James MadisonFederalist 10, 1787

Gaining perspective regarding law enforcement: I have had the privilege of knowing many people in law enforcement. Like nurses, teachers, those in ministry, and others who believe they are called to serve others in their respective fields, those in law enforcement that I have known personally also believe they have a calling to protect and serve communities and those who live and work in them. They choose to put their lives on the line every time they leave their families and go to work. I am so thankful for the service they provide and the sacrifices they make. Their efforts to keep communities safe allow us law-abiding citizens to pursue our goals, raise our families, and enjoy our freedoms. Without law enforcement, the ensuing chaos, violence, and increased crime would cause law-abiding citizens who have respect for others and respect for the property rights of others to live in fear of mob rule. One of the amazing foundations of our country is that it is one based on the rule of law, with everyone having equal rights under the law. Even if it doesn’t play out in every circumstance, we also have a voice with free speech rights – but not at the expense of someone else’s free speech or property rights. The role of government is not to constrain its citizens, but to protect their rights.

“Without authority there is no liberty. Freedom is doomed to destruction at every turn, unless there is a recognized right to freedom. And if there are rights, there is an authority to which we appeal for them.”

G. K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in life: Look around – every person you see struggles with life’s challenges. Just as each of us are unique, each person’s set of experiences are also unique. However, the human condition is shared by each of us. We all want to be loved and accepted, and none of us can live up to our own expectations. Is it fair for us to expect other people to live up to our expectations? Only one person who lived on this earth was perfect; He was God incarnate, and His name is Jesus Christ. That is why only His death on the cross could pay for the shortcomings of all people, including yours and mine. He conquered both sin and death through His death and resurrection, breaking the curse brought into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Jesus not only offers us the free gift of eternal life when we die, but in the meantime offers us a life of meaning and purpose here on earth. Life this side of heaven is not easy and being a Christ-follower has a cost. Our lives are no longer our own, but His love is so amazing – He knows us inside and out, and even with all of our faults, loves us anyway. The Lord created us with that desire for purpose so we would pursue Him and follow the plan for which He created us. He already knows what lies ahead, so He knows exactly what we need before we do. Once we find unconditional love through Jesus, we are free to love others and appreciate them – even with their differences and faults.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:17-19

“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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:9-11

Looking at the bigger picture, appreciating the differences in others, being thankful for the blessings in our lives, and being content are all choices we make, and they come when we gain perspective. People who find their redemption and purpose in Christ and learn who He is and who they are through God’s revealed Word are generally more content, have hope in Jesus’ finished work for our eternal salvation, and have a better perspective to the extent they have adopted His perspective, which is perfect like Him.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.””

1 Peter 2:21-22

“And He said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding’.”

Job 28:28

© Constance Rice 2020

America’s Unique Freedoms

by site founder, Connie Rice

Free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press are all part of the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the 1st Amendment. The Covid-19 pandemic has created global concern about close contact and has subsequently caused some of America’s precious and hard-won freedoms to be partially and temporarily suspended in a way not seen before in American history. Of course we should be cautious with an air-borne pandemic – the Bible taught distancing as a response to airborne illness. Old Testament laws were unlike the practices of their time, and in retrospect, appear to have been far ahead in its treatment of disease. Scripture teaches that God will protect His followers spiritually, but does not promise that they will avoid physical harm. Our broken world is due to the entering of sin. God promises a new heaven and earth, but that time has not yet arrived. Thankfully, the Covid-19 death rate is proving to be much lower than the wildly inaccurate models initially given.

The system of government set up by America’s founders was and is unique in the world. Our founders rejected the idea of a monarchy with a king. They also “feared a strict democracy” because of the strong tendency seen throughout history that even a slight majority tends to end in mob rule and cause those in the minority to live under oppression. The system they created is a constitutional republic based on the rule of law where representatives are elected by and are subject to the citizens who voted for them. American government includes checks and balances in order to minimize corruption and oppression, and guarantees individual rights – not from the government, but based on each person’s rights as a human being given by our Creator so that government cannot take them away. This has given rise to the most free, innovative, and prosperous nation in the world, unleashing people to follow their dreams and take risks with the potential and opportunity to succeed (or fail), regardless of where they came from. With hard work, everyone has the opportunity to improve their lot in life.

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

Interestingly, America tried a socialistic economy at first, but it failed miserably. It was then that they followed the biblical principles of respect for the rule of law, personal responsibility with each person working so they could eat (while caring for those who were unable to work), and received the fruit of their own labor while trading with others who offered a different crop, product, or service. The result was the free enterprise system or capitalism which, even with its faults, offers the best hope for citizens by providing equal opportunity rather than equality of outcome. Competition pressures businesses to offer a better product, service, or job than their competitors, which provides more choices for consumers and employees while being beneficial to society as a whole. It also provides opportunity to anyone with a vision to innovate and offer a product or service that meets the needs of individuals and society as a whole.

Those who tout socialism as “more fair”, “more compassionate”, or a “better alternative” have not learned from history. Unfortunately, the public education system has not provided younger Americans with an objective view of history and so many are unaware of the strengths and positive contributions of their own country. Focusing on equality of outcome rather than equal opportunity necessarily prevents individuals and businesses from rising up in life. Nothing is free and government does not produce revenue, so whatever it spends comes from taxes imposed on the productivity of the private sector (taxpaying businesses and individuals).

Businesses all start out with individuals who have a vision, so big businesses are those who have been successful in communicating and implementing that vision while concurrently meeting a demand by providing a needed or wanted product or service. Equality of opportunity allows for limitless potential. No form of government is perfect, but anyone fairly assessing history would see the brilliance of our founding fathers. Unfortunately, we have drifted toward some of the very things they were concerned could occur and went to great pains to prevent.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

Our founding fathers understood the dangers of a strict democracy, a monarchy, a large central government, the tendency of mankind toward self-interest and corruption, and that too much power invites corruption. They instead relied on the biblical principles of respect for the rule of law, a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, property rights, strong moral values based on biblical teachings, a Constitutional representative government selected by and accountable to their voters, and a deep respect for the God of the Bible because they recognized His miraculous intervention and favor throughout America’s early years.

The 20th Century brought much bloodshed and oppression with two world wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Desert Storm, the Iraq War, and the war in Afghanistan. The earlier of those were fighting against oppressive communist regimes whose quest to gain and maintain power resulted in the murder of millions of people. The latter were fighting against Islamic terrorism. The sheer magnitude of death brought about under 20th Century communist regimes is mind-boggling as millions were slaughtered so those who gained power would be protected from opposing influences and dissenting voices.

“[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.”

Noah Webster – Revolutionary soldier, judge, legislator, educator, & author of “Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary”.

It is so surprising (and very concerning) to me that some Americans do not see the dangers of socialism when in our own lifetime, we have seen Venezuela go from being a thriving, rich country full of opportunity to a place of intense poverty and oppression with loss of freedom in relatively few years, causing residents who could fleeing the country in droves. Those who are a little older saw the same thing happen to Cuba, also once a thriving culture and travel destination. The shift in Venezuela began with citizens voting in a candidate offering “free stuff” with big government “solutions” and touted they were “for the people”. In Cuba, it was the violent overthrow of a previous oppressive government by those also touting they were “for the people”. Both became dictatorships who silenced political opposition through fear, intimidation, prison, torture, murder, or with people just disappearing. Even if these moves began with good intentions, the result was devastation of the economy, elimination of the middle class, and loss of individual freedoms. That was replaced with equality of poverty for all except the ruling elite who get richer and more powerful. Good intentions do not necessarily provide good results. People may feel good about wanting to solve what they see as problems with capitalism and solve problems in society, but we should objectively look at how those “solutions” have played out and judge the actual results.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

“Reagan Freedom Speech” in 1964; also known as “A Time for Choosing” speech

America’s political parties have historically been made up of mostly liberals and conservatives, who have both historically shared the same basic values – love for America, love for the Constitution and America’s unique system of government (Constitutionally protected rights & separation of powers, etc.), respect for God and the Bible, respect for the views of others, and the same goals for America – they just disagreed on how to accomplish those goals. Unfortunately, the leftist movement in America gained more power and influence (especially since the 60’s) in politics, education, entertainment, and the media. The left does not share the same goals as liberals and conservatives, but share the atheistic Marxist/communist philosophy.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms and was intended to prevent future possible tyranny, recognizing that an armed populace is not easily conquered. These as well as other Constitutionally protected freedoms are foundational to liberty and are what makes America unique among nations.

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

The other issue recently contested is the Electoral College because of a few elections that gave victory to someone who did not win the popular vote. This system was much debated by the founding fathers and was a compromise between those who wanted Congress to elect the President and those who wanted the people to directly elect the President. The concern about Congress electing the President was that it would create greater opportunity for corruption while a direct vote by the people could result in small, but heavily populated areas of the country making policy for the rest of the country (essentially nullifying the voices of the larger geographical populace). Interestingly, a look at the 2016 and the 2000 presidential elections (especially on a map of counties) reveal that the founding faithers were prophetic in their concerns – a geographical majority of the country chose the eventual winners (blue on maps) over their opponents (red on maps) because of the Electoral College. It succeeded in preventing a few heavily populated areas from dictating policy for the rest of the country. The concept of equality and liberty in our system of government is explained in this a 3-minute “Bill of Rights Institute video:

Some people now believe that others must agree with their point of view, and if they do not – then it is not just a disagreement, but the speech of those who believe differently is wrong, dangerous, and must be shut down. Free speech is the right of every American, regardless of their views. We need to accept that not everyone sees every issue the same way and if we disagree, be committed to treating each other with respect. Name-calling and inflammatory language are not productive and when adults (especially those in leadership or in the public eye) respond with hysteria and behave in ways more representative of a toddler’s temper tantrum, what are we teaching our young people? Leaders should recognize that they are role models and be responsible examples by exhibiting basic rules of a civil society where all people have equal rights of expression without fear of intimidation, verbal attacks, physical attacks, loss of employment, etc., as we have recently seen.

Our universities used to be places where different ideas were welcomed and discussed openly, but that is no longer the case. America is the most amazing country that has ever existed and has been blessed beyond measure. It is ironic that most of the people who are rioting, destroying property, burning flags, and painting all peace officers with a broad brush seem to benefit from our free enterprise system (cell phones, name-brand athletic shoes, etc.). I would challenge them to go to a communist country and behave the same way and see what happens. Are we going to strive to be a nation that once again honors God and His Word, protects the freedom of every citizen, and welcomes honest, open debate using love, grace, and respect, or are we going to allow that to be destroyed on our watch to the detriment of future generations?

History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”

Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964)

© Constance Rice 2020

The Great Apologist

article by site-founder, Connie Rice

This post is inspired by Ravi Zacharias. Those familiar with his lifelong ministry through “Ravi Zacharias International Ministry” (RZIM) know that this brilliant, gracious, articulate, and godly man was not only uniquely gifted as a clear communicator of the truth of God’s Word, but was also an ideal example of how to communicate with those who hold different beliefs in a way consistent with Jesus’ teachings – with love and grace. White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnaney, summed it up well in her “Christian Broadcasting Network News” (CBN) interview with David Brody in her comments, “You know, my dad said to me that Billy Graham was the great evangelist. And I think Ravi Zacharias is the great apologist.” I agree and can relate to some of her other comments as well: “To have someone from an academic place, as an apologist could equip you with those arguments where you didn’t have to check your brain at the door when you became a Christian where there is the intellectual foundation for everything we believe,” McEnany explained. “There’s prophecy. There’s the human cell. There’s the amazing creation of the human body and all of its complexity and the planet, the universe.”

Listening to Ravi Zacharias was so helpful to me in not only finding answers to my own questions, but in how to help others find answers to theirs. The goal for me is truth – I want to know what it true. If it differs from my opinion, then I must be humble enough to admit that I could be mistaken. God has given us the truth – both in His revealed Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ. He loves us so much that He has gone to great lengths to show us His love and to have a personal relationship with us.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-12

Before accepting God’s free gift of salvation made possible through the voluntary sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I lived out of my own wisdom and as most people these days, developed opinions based on what I had learned and from my personal experiences. Once the Lord opened my eyes to the spiritual realm and I experienced His love and mercy, I was overwhelmed by His grace and began to read the Bible and go to church so I could know Him more. Since then, I’ve grown closer to Him and because of what He has already done for me, want to serve Him every day that He gives me on this earth.

“Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’ This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, Where I go, you cannot come?’ But He continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.’ ‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.’ They did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.’ Even as He spoke, many believed in Him. To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.”

John 8:21-31

The truth has set me free and more than anything, I want others to be set free too. God created a perfect world and mankind, and gave them the freedom to choose – free will. They had everything they needed and lived in a place of perfect harmony and beauty. Unfortunately, like we’re so many times are tempted to do, Adam and Eve took their blessings for granted and wanted the one thing that God told them not to take. They chose to disobey His only command and consequently brought curses into the world – sin, death evil, sadness, pain, sickness, etc. They paid the price with the loss of their fellowship with their Creator and having to make their way in a harsh world. Sadly, we share their sinful nature – but God had a rescue plan:

“Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ: “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thankfully, with God’s rescue plan to reconcile us to Himself for eternity, He will conquer evil once and for all, and He promises a new heaven and a new earth to His followers.

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’. He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.”

Revelation 21:1-8

When I get to heaven, I look forward to meeting Ravi Zacharias and the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before me. There are many more not written in the Bible or even in history books, but they lived their lives surrendered to their Savior and accomplished what He had in mind for them, making a difference in the world. I have no doubt that they and Ravi Zacharias have been received by their loving Creator with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. If you have not had the benefit of hearing Ravi Zacharias yet, check out some videos on the RZIM YouTube Channel.

The most important question we can ever answer because it affects not only now but how we spend eternity is the same one Jesus asked His disciple, Peter:

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah.”

Matthew 16:13-20

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”

John 14:6

If finding out what is true is important to you, how will you answer Jesus? Who knows? Maybe you will be the next great apologist.

© Constance Rice 2020

What is a Good Person?

by site founder, Connie Rice

What is a good person? Well – I guess that depends on your definition of good. It seems that for the most part, we tend to think of ourselves as basically a good person. However, it also seems rather easy for us to find fault (and many times point it out) in other people. Dictionary.com defines good as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man”. Is the determination of who is good really subjective (“existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought”)? When individuals (or a culture) move away from objective views (“not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts”), and some words are used with different meanings so they are no longer common, understanding and values can disintegrate. A common language is crucial to understanding. One example is the word “tolerance” (which has always been an accepted virtue in our culture). It was historically understood as showing respect for people with whom we disagree. In recent years, the term has been equated with approval and acceptance, which it had never previously meant.

“Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas they cannot retain an identity of language.”

Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary

“The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be assessory [original spelling from quote] to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.”

Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary

For an increasing number of people in America, the standard for good and truth is based on their opinions – which does not offer an objective standard that would be true for all people everywhere. Since each of them believes that their opinion = truth, they become less tolerant of those with differing views – even to the point of considering those holding different views to be evil and that their views are dangerous and should be shut down. What has set America apart for hundreds of years is its freedoms, and that those freedoms are granted by our Creator rather than man so that man cannot take them away. The lack of civil discourse, respect, and true tolerance for those with differing opinions endangers those very freedoms. Our universities have historically been a place for the discussion and open debate of all ideas and students were encouraged to hear all sides and determine which were the best arguments. Over the last 60 years, the opposite has developed and open debate has even brought protests. For those who believe the Bible is true, the standard for good is set not by individuals or by man collectively, but by God, and would apply equally to all of humanity. Jesus spoke about who was good:

“‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother’.”

Mark 10:18-19

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith.”

Romans 3:23-25a

The opposite of good is generally considered to be evil or bad. Dictionary.com defines evil as “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life”. It defines the term “wicked” as “evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful; iniquitous: wicked people; wicked habits.” In digging further, the root of sinful is sin – for which the meaning is a “transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam; any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle”.

“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.”

Ecclesiastes 7:20

“Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You, Lord, are good.”

Psalm 25:7

Some might say that they don’t believe in God or His moral standard of perfection, so are therefore not concerned. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider a few questions:

  • “How do you explain the existence of your own innate sense of morality, sense of right and wrong, sense of good and evil?”
  • “In rejecting God, how do you explain the existence of evil?”
  • “In rejecting God, how do you explain the existence of good?”
  • “What if you’re wrong and stand before a holy God in judgment using His definitions and His standard?

Perhaps the question that we should be asking is, does our opinion on the subject even matter in light of the One who created us who has communicated that He is also the sole determinant of what is good and what is evil.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve’.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Repeatedly in the Old Testament God warned His people and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (subjective). Each time, judgment followed. One person may believe that it’s wrong to lie while another person may make justifications for why it’s okay for them to lie (although it is ironic when those same people get upset if someone lies to them).

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 17:6 & Judges 21:25

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

Jesus was poignant about the subject. His love and compassion was and is for everyone and Jesus made that clear both by His Words and His sacrificial actions, even to the point of death. However, He had some pretty harsh words aimed at church leaders at times. This should serve as a warning to all Christ followers. Our sinful nature can cause us to think we have overcome sin’s hold on our lives because we have access to the Holy Spirit, but we may just be deceiving ourselves.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

“Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, ‘Listen to Me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’ After He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples asked Him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ He asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean). He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person’.”

Mark 7:14-23

Another question to ask is – if according to the Bible, we are all sinful beings and have evil in our hearts, why would Jesus come to earth (fully God and fully man) and live the perfect life we never could and then allow Himself to be mocked, tortured, and killed to pay the price for our sins – so we could stand before a holy God and be accepted instead of judged? This, my friend, is the extent of His love for each person.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

In view of our sin problem that separates us from a holy God whose standard is perfection and considering what Jesus has already done for us, what should our response be?

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them’.”

John14:23

So – what is a good person? Each of us have our own opinions, but according to the definition given by our Creator – there are no good people because His standard is perfection. God created a perfect world and offered Adam and Eve everything they needed, including beauty, sustenance, and His own presence. He also gave them the gift of free will to choose whether or not to obey and then gave them one command – not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They succumbed to temptation and disobeyed that single command, bringing sin, evil, and death into the world. We now live in a broken world, but God has promised to restore it and conquer evil once and for all. I cannot remember where I read it, but was reminded about something in Scripture with an insight that I had not realized on my own – that the Tree of Life was in the garden too and available to them (eternal life), and they were deceived into thinking they could be like God and chose the knowledge of good and evil over living forever and living with God. God offers us the same through Jesus Christ, who overcame both sin and death with his death and Resurrection and offers us the power to overcome sin in this life and to live forever in His presence.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:3-9

My hope is that no more people will be deceived into thinking that their opinions = truth, that there is no standard for all of humanity, that they can be god in their lives, or that they know better than God so they can make a better choice, trusting in Jesus so they too can have the hope of salvation – enjoying a relationship with their Creator right now and for eternity.

© Constance Rice 2020

Elephant in the Room

by site founder, Connie Rice

Most likely, we have heard the phrase, “elephant in the room”, referencing something that is obvious, yet ignored by people. Recent culture has put death in this category, not wanting to think about it or plan for it, and in some cases being crippled by loss of a loved one. Throughout history, death was understood as part of life and it was uncommon for a family not to have suffered loss of a close family member. My husband and I have been watching a British WWII documentary series and the scale of death from not only warfare, but the starvation, cold, and intentional murder of people by dictators boggles the mind. Our present American culture has made such strides in medical technology and has been generally prosperous, resulting in longer lives and less hardship than previous generations, and interestingly has also seen much higher incidences of depression and suicide. Of course, dwelling on our own death or the death of those we care about is not helpful either because that can cripple us with fear, but with the panic recently about the possibility of contracting an illness with way less of a probability, it compels me to broach the subject.

It is both rational and healthy to consider the fact that the death rate is 100% – that should not cause us to panic as we are all aware of it, but should prompt us to really think about the decisions we have or have not made and to plan for the inevitable event. My husband’s father sold life insurance and it made him so sad when a family’s wage earner with whom he had spoken would brush off the possibility of dying and later pass away unexpectedly, leaving his family to suffer not only his loss, but also the loss of their home and financial security. As important as it is to consider and plan for our families when our life here on earth is over, there’s something else to consider – what we believe about our Creator. Jesus Christ came to earth to suffer and sacrifice His life so that we as sinful people, as we put all of our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior, could stand before a holy God without judgment and live with the promise of no pain, no sickness, and no evil in heaven for eternity.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans: 23-24

Ironically, more people in recent history are professing that there is no God, when at the same time, science is revealing incredible complexity of the genome, design of animals, plants, and even of the so-called “simplest life forms”. In view of the serious eternal consequences, honest seekers of truth may want to watch this 4-minute interview, “Does God Exist?, and article from The One Minute Apologist”, Dr. Bobby Conway, and Ken Boa, author of “Reflections” online teaching letters and the book, “Shaped by Suffering: How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home”.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

1 Peter 5:10

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Hebrew 9:15

End times prophecy is not something I tend to focus on because so much of the discussion is based on speculation, as the Bible does not spell out every detail. However, knowing what the Scriptures do teach breaks my heart for those who have not yet accepted the free gift offered to them through Jesus Christ, who came to earth as fully God and fully man with the sole purpose of rescuing mankind from their sins. He lived the perfect life that none of us could and endured mocking, torture, and a painful death on the cross so that we can stand before our holy God to give an account for our lives, but not have to stand in judgment of our sins.

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

The more time that goes by, the more I see Bible prophecy coming to pass. Throughout human history, God has used trials to get the attention of His people – to warn them of coming judgment, hoping they will choose to return to Him. Unfortunately, many have it backward – creating God in our image instead of understanding how He created us in His image. This is actually idolatry – worshiping a god of our own making, a god we can understand, accept, and fit in a box. God didn’t have to, but chose to reveal Himself to us through His Word (the Bible). If we do not seek Him through His Word, we will not have an accurate understanding of who He is. Although we can never understand Him completely this side of heaven, the more we understand and personally experience our good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) and His holiness, love, care, mercy, patience, faithfulness, grace, goodness, & sovereignty, and acknowledge what He has already done for us, the more in awe of Him we become.

“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Revelation 5:9

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-18

‘Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

2 Peter 3:3-13

If you do not yet know the Lord, please seek out what is true. Seek Him with your whole heart, mind, strength, and soul and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Open a Bible and read the book of John, then Matthew, Mark, & Luke, and then the book of Hebrews. Read about the early church in Acts and then finish the New Testament. Then read the Old Testament chronologically – it will provide the background needed to better understand the New Testament and allow you to see how God revealed His plan through particular people over a long period of time. I was not brought up in the church – God used desperation and a miraculous answer to prayer to reach me as an adult. He uses different methods to reach different people; in other parts of the world, especially, some are experiencing visions and dreams. Testimonies of how some people came to know Christ are found on this site. The people below are some of those who sought truth (some of them to prove the Bible wrong), and came face to face with their Savior:

“My people, hear My teaching;
    listen to the words of My mouth.
I will open My mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old –
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    His power, and the wonders He has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which He commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget His deeds
    but would keep His commands.
They would not be like their ancestors –
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,

whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

Psalm 78:1-8

Let’s address the “elephant in the room” and use this opportunity of uncertainty to seek what is true and make the most important decision of our lives while there is still time. The choice is simple, but no less serious: Do we face judgment for our shortcomings with no defense before a holy God or do we accept the free gift He offers through the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ so we can be forgiven of our sins and live in God’s goodness for eternity, as well as have access to His power to live a life pleasing to Him while still on earth with the peace, strength, joy, and sense of purpose that only comes through our relationship with Him?

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried Me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation’; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest’.”

Hebrews 3:7-11

I for one, second what Paul said (below) and look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, a future that is secure in God’s presence with no pain, no sickness, and no evil. As the lyrics of an older hymn by Helen Lemmel state (and more recently a Newsboys’ song) say, “the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’.”

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’.”

Romans 1:16-17

© Constance Rice 2020

Living in Victory

by site founder, Connie Rice

It seems that whether we live in victory or not can have less to do with our circumstances and more to do with how we view ourselves and how we respond to life’s inevitable trials. Nobody is perfect, so we all have regrets and are trying to make our way in the world. Life is a mix of trials and celebrations, broken or lost relationships and close relationships, failures and successes, people who have hurt us and people we have hurt (both may be unintentional), misunderstandings between people, and then there are the unexpected detours and challenges that seem to come out of nowhere. This can all be quite difficult and confusing at times. Being grounded in God’s Word provides us with a foundation, a mooring, solid truth to hold onto, and it also provides a corrective lens in which to view God, ourselves, others, and life itself. Otherwise, the tendency is to view ourselves through other ways or in a combination of any or all of them:

  • through how others see us, which is limited to their perceptions and opportunities, and misunderstandings can be common. It is better to see ourselves through who God says we are.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 2:4–7
  • through our past or present pain, which can make us angry, bitter, confused, defeated, or depressed, (even to the point of despair). God wants to free us from past pain and never wastes any of it. What we do not understand at the time may be enlightened in the future or maybe it won’t, but we can be assured that God will use it to draw us closer to Himself, to grow or humble us, to build our character and make us more like Christ, or to minister to someone else going through a similar trial.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Isaiah 61:1-3
  • through broken or lost relationships, where there seems to be a tendency for us to either place all the blame on the other person or take all the blame on ourselves, neither one bringing needed healing. It is better to reflect on on our part in the process through the lens of Scripture so we can learn, make amends where necessary, and move forward with greater understanding.

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:11-18
  • through negative words and being poorly treated – when we read and study God’s Word, we discover who He says we are: beloved and valued, so much so that He made a way to rescue us for eternity.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 5:8
  • through not forgiving others, which is a type of bondage that keeps us from moving forward in freedom. God commands us to forgive in order to be forgiven – thankfully, when we agree with Him and consciously make the choice to forgive, He helps us to do so.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14-15

through our own failures, which can cause us to be discouraged or give up and create false feelings of worthlessness and loss of hope. It is important to not allow our failures to define us, but to seek God’s help in learning from the experience and move forward. God uses others to speak truth and life into our lives. This is timely for me as this week my failures caused me to be humbled and embarrassed and they affected others negatively when my intention was to be helpful. The encouraging words I heard that day were meant for a lot of people, but God used them to minister specifically to me. A heart-felt thank you to Ryan Frank, Sean Sweet, and others at the 2020 Preteen Onference! Words can also take the form of concern or criticism, which may or may not be what we need to hear. Praying about what was said and comparing it to the truth of God’s Word, we will know how to proceed. If the words are strictly negative toward our person, it is not from God and should be rejected. If the words cause us to see mistake(s), then they are restorative and we can ask God to forgive us and help us take responsibility, apologizing if we have wronged anyone.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:3-6

through our own successes, which can lead to an inflated sense of self and pride (can sneak up on us unaware), causing pain and difficulty to ourselves and others. The Bible warns us that God hates pride and wants us to seek humility, honoring Him first and foremost, and putting others before ourselves. It seems as if those who are self-focused are the most unhappy and many who serve God and others seem to exhibit joy even in the midst of difficult personal circumstances.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

through unexpected challenges, which seem to present themselves at the most inopportune times and can create added stress, concern, confusion, fear, and insecurity. Unexpected challenges were at the root of my failures this week. In trying to hurry, I unintentionally created a situation that threatened to wreak havoc for other people who were counting on me and prevent me from fulfilling a commitment. There was no way for me to fix the situation (my attempts were futile). I needed a miracle, for which I frantically prayed. A few minutes later, God answered that prayer – even though I brought the situation on myself (although He did let me sit in the mess of my own making for a while to humble and teach me). He’s so faithful to those who trust in Him. Sometimes the enemy (Satan) works hard to stop or limit what God is doing by tempting us or discouraging us through fear, insecurity, or through our failures.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Living in victory also requires that we are aware that there is a battle going on between good and evil, God and Satan. We need to be on guard to avoid temptation and to prevent ourselves from being deceived and from believing lies that can lead us astray, drawing us away from God.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”

James 1:16-18

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

The more we study the Bible, the more we discover that God loves us more than we can imagine and greatly values each of us. It is through a working knowledge of His Word that we develop a right view of ourselves and others and can gain an understanding of how to live in victory while keeping the Lord in first place in our lives, where He rightly belongs – He deserves all honor and glory.

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:1-10

As many before this have explained, following Christ not about religion – it is about our relationship with our loving Creator and understanding that our response to His love is to obey. He knows better than we do what we need and even gives us the wisdom and power to obey His commands when we seek Him with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul.

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:3-5

Nowhere in the Bible does God does promise that our lives will be comfortable, but He does promise that He will be with us always and that the Holy Spirit will help those who are following Christ. This is possible through His sacrifice and resurrection when we accept the free gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness for our shortcomings, and choose to trust the Lord’s plan for our lives. When we obey His commands and allow Him to be on the throne, we experience an amazing freedom. It requires constant effort because our natural bent is use our own wisdom and power, but victory is not found there. Through the power of Scripture, we are able to see ourselves and others as God sees us. God’s Word has the power to transform, giving us the ability to obey Him and allowing us to follow the path He created us for and to live out our lives with purpose and in victory.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57

© Constance Rice 2020

Do Worldviews Matter?

by site founder, Connie Rice

Before determining whether or not worldviews matter, let’s define the term: Merriam-Webster defines a worldview as “a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint. In other words, a worldview determines how a person perceives the world around them, providing the foundation for forming ideas and opinions, which affect their attitudes and decision-making. A person’s worldview generally depends on what each person has experienced in their lives, what they have been exposed to, and who or what they consider to be an authority.

For the purposes of this article, the focus is between a secular worldview and a Judeo-Christian biblical worldview in America. A growing divide in the country is revealed through cultural and political battles leading to a disturbing decline in civil discourse on both sides and attempts from some groups to block the rights of those with differing opinions to speak. How many of us even agree 100% with all of our family members? I remember as a teen, my mom told me that she strongly disagreed with a particular vocal public figure, but that she would defend to the death that person’s right to express themselves (roughly quoting biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in referencing Voltaire). America is unique among nations in its protection of free speech for every person.

The secular worldview has been exclusively taught in our public schools and universities for many years now and most museums and scientists adhere to it. Many think that Darwinian evolution is proven science, but beliefs about the origin of the world cannot be repeated or tested as is required for the scientific method, so it actually does not fall under the realm of science. It seems to fit better under philosophy or religion. According to the secular worldview, mankind and apes came from an ape-like common ancestor. This worldview rejects the existence of God, offers no hope of eternal life, and considers humans to be animals. It rejects the existence of absolute truth, which had previously helped to hold American culture together with shared values.

A secular worldview cannot explain why only humans are self-aware and have the capacity to reason, create, imagine, ponder, love sacrificially, seek justice, have a sense of morality, use logic, have language, and look for meaning in life. It also cannot answer how life arose, why order exists, why creatures reproduce only within their kind, or how reproduction could have developed at all. Recent scientific discoveries bring into question that everything (complexity of the “simple” cell, DNA discoveries, diversity of animals and plants, soft tissue in dinosaur bones, etc.) could have come about through random evolutionary, materialistic, and chemical processes over millions of years.

For people professing to belong to a religion, their worldview is affected by the beliefs of that religion. Of the approximate 327 million people in America, those who profess Christianity are about 65% (compared to 77% just 10 years ago). Those with the religion of Judaism are almost 2%, but many of whom tend to align with a secular worldview. According to Pew Forum, those who declare themselves as not having a religious affiliation make up about 26% now (compared to 16% just 10 years ago). Of those, there are people who consider themselves to be agnostic (which when literally translated is “without knowledge”), but the term is used according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary to describe “someone who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable”.

The Judeo-Christian biblical worldview adheres to a belief in a personal, loving, holy, triune Creator God outside of time and space, who created the heavens, the earth, the plants, the heavens, creatures, and mankind, and revealed Himself through His amazing, diverse, and complex Creation (general revelation) as well as the inspired writings of the Bible (special revelation). His Word is accepted as absolute truth and good and evil (right and wrong) are defined by God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

2 Peter 1:20-21

Mankind is made in God’s image, with the capacity to love, create, reason, imagine, ponder, desire justice, use logic, etc. This worldview also recognizes that mankind has a sin nature and needs a Savior to bring reconciliation between them and a holy God. Knowing mankind could not save themselves, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live the sinless life that mankind could not and gave His life sacrificially to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind. Jesus rose again, conquering both sin and death. He offers forgiveness and abundant life to all who receive His free gift of salvation.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:23-24

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

Jesus promises all of His followers eternal life in heaven and they are given the power to overcome natural tendencies so they can treat others with respect and forgive wrongs. This worldview recognizes that all will be accountable before God for how they lived and how each person treats others. It helps to create a sense of accountability to God and of the need to respect and accept others, resulting in a culture with greater mutual respect and acceptance.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:12-14

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before Me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

Romans 14:10-12

According to Lifeway Research (see chart below), only 9% of adults have read through their whole Bible more than once. That means that only a small percentage of adults in our society (including Christians) have a biblical worldview. Evidently, recent generations of Christian families have neglected to make reading their Bible a priority. Children follow their parents’ example. Leaders have evidently not communicated how important it is to know God’s Word and pass that on to the next generation.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

As our nation becomes more biblically illiterate and subsequently influenced by secular culture, should we be surprised that our culture is drifting farther and farther away from God’s ways and deeper into confusion and moral decline? The incidence of depression and suicide is at an all time high. People are seeking meaning in all kinds of areas that put them at risk (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.). It is critically important for parents and Christian leaders to know God’s Word themselves in order to have a biblical worldview themselves and to disciple the next generation.

“God has no grandchildren. He has only children, so being a born-again Christian is not an automatic thing.”

Reinhard Bonnke

If reading the Bible is difficult, pray for God to give you a love and passion for His Word – that is a prayer He is assured to answer (I know because it is in His will and He answered that prayer for me). Christian parents have adopted the parental values of our culture rather than following God’s standard for parents and their children and grandchildren are paying the price:

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:26-27

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

“To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.”

Proverbs 17:21

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.”

Psalm 33:18

Do worldviews matter? Absolutely! A person’s worldview is how they see everything else and motivates not only their thought and attitudes, but also their opinions and decision-making. That cannot help but affect not only their own lives, but that of other people in their families, schools, workplaces, and people in public places. The nation’s law-making, judicial decisions, and the future direction of America is at stake, but more importantly – the next generation is depending on us to show them the way.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.”

Psalm 37:23

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

Psalm 71:18

© Constance Rice 2020

In Need of a Savior

article by site founder, Connie Rice

We’ve all heard the cliche, “Nobody’s perfect” and we all know that although most of us would consider ourselves a good person – we have still made mistakes. As John Piper puts it, “A life without regrets is built on a mirage”. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that keeping our own selfish desires at bay does not come naturally, but takes a conscious effort.

Of course, whole books have been written on the subject of the origin of life by experts in their respective fields of science and theology, so this is meant only to motivate people to ponder the issue and pursue answers for themselves. The 3.5 minute video clip, “Do You Have to Choose Between Science and Religion?” from “What Would You Say?” by “The Colson Center” can bring clarification. The chart below addresses a few points to consider when comparing worldviews – one without God and purely materialistic in origin and one with a loving Creator God who exists eternally, not bound by time or space, and who chooses to reveal Himself:

Materialistic Origins

The Big Bang created the world and the heavens, and everything on earth came about through random, gradual, evolution over millions of years; this view cannot account for how life began. Science has shown that life cannot come from non-life.

A random materialistic worldview does not explain how things that we know exist came to be: order in the universe, laws of nature, mankind’s conscience, logic, love, creativity, sense of right & wrong, desire for truth, and search for meaning. It also cannot explain why beauty, music, and art exist if survival and reproduction are the driving forces. It cannot explain sacrificial acts made that only benefit another person, and that in some cases can even endanger themselves.

Materialism assumes that creatures evolved into more complex and even different creatures through mutations and natural selection. Mutations are mostly harmful and incur a loss of information. Natural selection can only select from existing information. Evolution offers no mechanism for adding new information to the genome, so how could creatures become more complex? If that kind of evolution occurred, then transitional fossils should be prevalent. However, that is not the case even according to an evolutionist:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

Dr. Stephen Jay Gould

Creator God Origins

God created ex-nihilo (out of nothing) the world, the heavens, plants, and animals. He made humans in His image and gave them dominion over Creation; this history is recorded in the Bible (the revealed & inspired Word of God).

A biblical worldview can explain all of these things. The Bible teaches us that God never changes, that He created the universe with order, put the laws of nature in place, and that He invested in mankind logic, a conscience, love, creativity, a sense of morality, a desire for truth, and a longing for meaning because we are made in His image. Beauty, music, and art are gifts to us. Evil entered the world when mankind disobeyed God, but we can still reflect God (ie. sacrifice for the benefit of others).

The Bible teaches that each creature was designed and reproduces after its kind, which is supported by scientific studies and what we see happening in nature (feline, canine, etc.). Recent research has revealed incredible complexity and purposeful design in both creatures and humans. Famous scientists throughout history accepted biblical Creation. The Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute was an atheist, but came to realize that the existence of God was a better explanation of life’s origin:

“In my views, DNA sequence alone, even if accompanied by a vast trove of data on biological function, will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God.”; also wrote the book, “The Language of God”.

Dr. Francis Collins, PBS interview article

According to the Bible, God is Spirit and love, and exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is also holy, just, sovereign, good, wise, eternal, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once), merciful, gracious, compassionate, faithful, gentle, patient, and slow to anger. However, He knew mankind could not be perfect and that our sin separates us from Him. Therefore, He put in place a rescue plan for us:

Jesus (Son) came to earth as fully man and fully God, lived the perfect life that none of us could, and because of His love for us, took our sin upon Himself. We are all sinners who will stand before a holy God who will judge sin and evil, so we are in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ voluntarily gave His life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. Then He overcame sin and death through His Resurrection, giving those who believe in Him for salvation victory as well with help to live the life we were created for and the assurance of life in heaven for eternity.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, please give some thought to Jesus and that He came because “nobody’s perfect”. Use the logic and critical thinking ability that God gave you to discover what is really true. This site can point you to many resources. If you are not familiar with the Bible, The Bible Project offers a series of short videos called “How to Study the Bible”. When we seek God sincerely with our whole heart and soul, He does not hide from us:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.”

Acts 17:24-27

© Constance Rice 2019

Tribute of Thankfulness

article by site founder, Connie Rice

As I’ve been reflecting during this season of Thanksgiving, it struck me that God not only gave us Himself through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He also gave us the “great cloud of witnesses” in the Bible listed in Hebrews, Chapter 11, as well as many more people of faith throughout history to inspire and challenge us. What struck me is that He also provides those trusting in Him with their own personal “great cloud of witnesses”.

I’m thankful for those in the Bible who had faults, but God still used them in mighty ways. Whether they are from the Old or New Testament or whether they were being a good or a bad example, we can learn from them. Below are many of the names from Hebrews 11 as well as a few that are not listed there, but they are people God has used to teach me through His Word:

  • Abraham – an example of trusting God even when it meant leaving everything behind and going to an unknown area and believing God’s promises even though they were not seen in his circumstances;
  • Noah – an example of believing and obeying God in spite of being mocked by others;
  • Job – an example of trusting and praising God in spite of intense trials;
  • Joseph – an example of trusting God and choosing to obey Him even when rejected and falsely imprisoned for years;
  • Moses – an example of trusting God to empower and guide him as a leader of Israel, taking then to the promised land;
  • Joshua – an example of believing and obeying God even against seemingly impossible odds and with strange instructions (Jericho);
  • Samson – an example of how temptation can blind and deceive us;
  • Gideon – an example of how God can use the least of us and how He creates circumstances that help us know that He’s accomplishing something through us, but that it is His power and not ours;
  • Ruth – a great example of loyalty.
  • David – an example of someone who sinned in worse ways than most of us, but was quick to repent and considered by God to be “a man after My own heart”,
  • Solomon – an example of a young leader who asked for wisdom and received it plus many blessings from God, yet still allowed himself to be drawn to idols;
  • Jonah – an example to us that trying to run or hide from God’s call on our lives is not good for us and reveals God’s love and mercy for those who are far from Him;
  • Isaiah – an example of a prophet who was faithful to God and His call without fail over the entire scope of his life and provided numerous amazing prophecies of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ;
  • Jeremiah – an example of a prophet whose heart was broken over the people’s refusal to follow God, knowing that judgment was coming if they did not repent;
  • Daniel – an example of how to live a godly life in the midst of sinful culture and subject to ungodly leaders;
  • Shadrack, Meshach, & Abednego example of 3 young men taken into Babylonian captivity who did not eat food forbidden by their faith and would not bow down to an idol, even while facing death.
  • Nebuchadnezzar – an example of someone whose pride was his downfall and how God uniquely humbled and then restored him;
  • Esther – an example of a queen who prayed and then stood up for her people in spite of the danger involved; her uncle told her that she was in place “for such a time as this”.
  • Nehemiah – an example of someone who was compelled to respond to God’s call, in his case to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls in spite of opposition and threats.
  • Paul – an example of someone radically transformed by Jesus.
  • Peter – an example of someone who was impulsive and had a tendency to speak before thinking, but Jesus was referring to him when He said, “on this rock I will build my church” (Peter means rock in Greek).
  • James (Jesus’ earthly half-brother) – an example of someone who struggled with believing that Jesus was the Messiah promised by God (John 7:5), but became a strong leader in the faith and early church.

My encounter with Jesus brought about a radical change in my life – one which I have never regretted. Written and video works in addition to the Bible have greatly impacted my walk with the Lord (C. S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, G.K. Chesterton, Os Guinness, Francis Chan, David Platt, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, John Piper, D. James Kennedy, Alister McGrath, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, J. Daniel Hays & J. Scott Duvall, Dave Coppedge (“Creation Evolution Headlines” & “Creation Safaris”), Mike Riddle (“Creation Training Institute”), Timothy Mackie & Jonathan Collins (“The Bible Project”), Allen Parr (“The BEAT”), Bobby Conway (One-Minute Apologist”), and Bible studies by Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, just to name a few). I just found a book today in a used book store that I look forward to reading (not thinking it was a coincidence) – “A Cloud of Witnesses: The Greatest Men in the World for Christ and the Book” by Stephen Abbott Northrup D.D. (book link is to a reproduction printing). The book includes quotes about their faith in Christ from Charles Dickens, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Charles Lyell, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Mozart, and hundreds more.

However, I would also like to take an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the personal “great cloud of witnesses” that God has used in my life to help me grow in my faith. The names below may not end up in history books and most do not know who they are, but their lives have had a great impact on me and I’m sure others as well:

  • Melba Goodman, a good friend who had the courage to share Jesus with me when I had no interest in hearing it.
  • My family, who help me grow spiritually and as a person.
  • Jim Ryan, who followed God in moving to California, enabling me to hear the gospel plainly once God led us to a church.
  • Carol Ryan, whose gentle, loving, gracious, patient, and godly example had a huge impact on me when I was trying to understand God’s Word and how to live His way.
  • Jack & Judi Winkel, who grew alongside us as new believers and Jack later invested in my kids as a junior high leader; they were examples of what it looks like when God fills His faithful followers with supernatural strength (in the tragic loss of their precious teen, Jill).
  • Dave & Heather Krogstad, pastor and his wife who greatly impacted both of my kids in junior high and beyond; their love and caring ways reflect Jesus well to everyone they know.
  • Kathie Kallestad, who invested in my younger daughter in junior high while making her feel loved and accepted.
  • Jim Jackson, pastor who is gifted by God to teach in creative and effective ways; I’m so thankful for the investment he and his wife, Julie, made in my older daughter’s life.
  • Jeff Steele, pastor who was my personal “Bible Answer Man” and a great example of a godly husband & parent, who always made time to speak with me and provide honest feedback and direction.
  • Dr. Wong, professor of one of my Bible Institute classes who in spite of severe persecution in his and his family’s lives, stood out as a gentle, caring man and brilliant scholar; when our younger daughter was ill and doctor’s had no idea what happened to her, he told me, “God must think you’re pretty strong.”. It was strangely comforting and I’ve shared those words with others since.
  • Ron Jones, pastor who gave a message that has greatly affected and challenged me – to be “fully present” with people.
  • Paul Luna, pastor who helped me see “outside the box” in ministry and directed me to my second ministry position; he was the first one to suggest I start a blog.
  • Sue Marshall, Julie Sandeen, & Debbie d’Amico, fellow children’s ministry leaders who were part of a network group that provided prayer, encouragement, and brainstorming; we worked together to provide local, inexpensive training for children’s ministry teams; Sue’s suggestion that I start a blog (she said because I knew of so many resources that might be helpful to others) eight years after Paul suggested it caused me to pray about it; she helped me set up the basic structure and this website is the result. 🙂
  • Todd Smith, pastor who is a godly shepherd who helped me see blind spots and encouraged me to always leave time to teach; it was powerful for me to see him almost physically shake off a compliment of his preaching to prevent pride from gaining a foothold in his mind.
  • Tom Halstead, professor at a Bible college and elder who is one of the most godly, patient, gracious, caring, & encouraging men I’ve ever met, as well as a Bible scholar.
  • Wayne Dell, elder whose faith, service to God, wisdom, and sense of humor never waivers – even in the midst of severe trials, which was a powerful witness to me.
  • Students, leaders, parents, and friends at Heart of the Canyons, Crossroads, Valley Christian Fellowship, and now at Harvest Church.

It’s been an amazing time of reflection that causes my heart to overflow with thankfulness for how God has revealed Himself to me through the people He’s placed in my life. Our time on earth is filled with trials, but when we’re on the path God created us for and we choose to partner with Him in our spiritual growth, it’s also the greatest adventure anyone could have. God fills us with a sense of purpose as well as the peace and joy that is only found in Him. As if that wasn’t enough, we also look forward to being in heaven with our Creator and loved ones who have gone before us – where there’s no more sickness, no more evil, and no more of this world’s trials. I especially look forward to not having to fight my sinful nature any more. Until then, I will follow God as His plan for me continues to unfold – but now with a greater awareness and with more gratitude than before.

My prayer is that God will empower me to live a life worthy of the calling He has given me, that my life would accurately reflect Christ, and that I would be intentional about sharing His love and truth to whomever God places in my path as others have invested in me. To God be the glory!

© Constance Rice 2019