For many, the past months have been filled with destruction and tragedy as we view the war in Iraq, the floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, plus the recent fires is Southern California. Yet, a voice of thanksgiving for personal safety and compassion for those with loss rises from the ashes. It is good to see the conscience of mankind alive with hope..
10th Year Memorial
On November 20, 2007, it will have been 10 years, since the passing of Raymond Hoekstra to be with the Lord. He was fondly known by millions as “Chaplin Ray” during his 35 years of ministering to inmates in prisons around the world. In 1975, he visited me in prison, and shortly afterwards, I came to Christ in 1975.
The chart called "God's Orchestrated Plan of Love for Mankind" was introduced last month, as part of The Ezekiel wheel Project, to show the intention of God since creation to connect His heavenly throne to His people. His finished work of grace anchors those who believe in Jesus Christ to His heavenly Sanctuary. May you realize the many creative possibilities, because of your divine connection to God's abounding love this wonderful New Year.
A Heavenly View
One of my purposes is to help you envision the reality of God's love with the aid of charts. It has been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words." They can remain in the mind when all else is forgotten. Be still, people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths form God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. 1
The purpose of the Monthly view is to affect the way people see God and the way they see His love for them. It is God's desire that you know He loves you so much, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 1
Like many of you, I memorized John 3:16 as a child, never realizing that it would lodge in my mind to be useful to bring me to Christ years later. The verse pricked my heart when I overheard a young lady sharing it with an inmate she was visiting. I turned to my visitor with excitement and said, "That's right, God did so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." She thought I had lost my mind, but in reality, the Lord was opening my eyes to understand God's love for me. 2
The Monthly View is always a joy as it allows me to share from my heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. And Jesus said, that you must give account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. 1
National Day of Prayer
One way to alleviate speaking idle words is to pray and meditate God's Word. The National Day of Prayer, on Thursday, May 4th, can be a catalyst to launch you to a whole new lifestyle of worship. Most of us have a need for constant prayer so that we never give up. 2 The Apostle Paul said to always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
My purpose is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way you can understand it. On a recent visit, a new friend named Steve said, "I never saw it that way!" He saw that receiving Christ is not about doing religious works, but receiving the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to make us right with God through His work -- His death, burial and resurrection. 1
The Problem With Religion
The problem I saw with "church" as a kid was how boring it felt. I didn't know that being a Christian was all about having a relationship with my Father in heaven. God looks down from heaven on the entire human race. He looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for Him. 2 Jesus died that He might bring us safely home to God. 3 Be exalted, 0 God, above the highest heavens! May your glory shine over all the earth. 4
It is common to have struggles while living a Christian life. Of course, some of us have many trials and sorrows. Jesus said we would, but to take heart that he had overcome the world. 1 Christ was described in Isaiah chapter 53 as being a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, said that every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory. 2
The Lamps of God
Our heavenly Father has always provided a way out of our struggles in Christ. It is not Him who has been irresponsible, but us who have lacked responsibility. He has initiated our victory, and has given us the grace or the ability to respond through His love. But we still try to live our life in our flesh or in our own ability instead of yielding to the power of Christ's victory. It is in His grace and righteousness that we reign as priests and kings. 3
The News of mass murder in Amish country this past month, when a depraved man killed a number of young girls execution style in a one-room schoolhouse, filled the air waves with questions of why and how such violence could have happened, especially in rural Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania .
On a radio talk show, an expert Psychologist, known as "Doctor Helen", brought up the need for a better mental health system, a killer's maternal problems, their obsessive thinking, anger and revenge, plus the fact that twenty-four hundred men in the United States commit suicide each year. She offered few answers with little hope for success, when asked how to bring change to man's problem.
My heart goes out to the families who are suffering through this tragedy. Many of us have suffered with them in deep compassion. The support for the Amish community has been great, but they are totally sufficient in God's grace. In an interview, one Amish man expressed his love and forgiveness towards the killer, saying that prayer groups were visiting the man's wife and children for ministry.
The Amish People
The Amish are members of the Mennonite community America. They are Christians who believe they can overcome the flesh better by isolating themselves from the modern world. The teenagers are given the opportunity to leave the community for a time to experience the worldly lifestyle. Ninety percent of them choose to return to their family, the Amish life and their dedication to God.
Augustine said, "...the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee." Augustine spoke of a void that every man has in his heart that can only be filled by God. In other words, the search for the meaning of life is endless until our life is filled with the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Many people search throughout the Earth trying to find God in sacred artifacts and relics. They become devoted to religious institutions, never obtaining what they are looking for. Salvation, that comes from trusting Christ, is already within easy reach. In fact, the message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." 1
Searching For Answers
For centuries men have continued to search for the Holy Grail. It is defined many ways, but is usually claimed to be the challis Jesus used at the last supper to serve His disciples the night before His death on the cross. Jesus placed importance on the wine in the challis, not the cup itself. He told His disciples that the wine was a symbol of His blood, which was to be given to forgive the sins of many. 2 There has been investigations, which have taken place over many centuries, into the authenticity of Shroud of Turin. It is thought to be the cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb.
The last Sunday in this month is Easter Sunday. The whole body of Christians will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ still fresh in our minds, we can't help but remember Christ's suffering at Calvary three days prior to His resurrection.
What Is Your View?
Easter was originally the name of a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor.
On the second Sunday this month, we celebrate Mother's Day. One thing we all share in common is that we have a mother. All of us know the importance of this day. We will either be with her, or hold her close in our hearts and minds. She is our love, no matter what!
It would not be right to not mention Eve, who was the mother of all living. 1 Sometimes we forget about her. Some of us blame her or our own mom for our troubles. The Bible says Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 2