Ready or not: The U.S. will become an Islamic nation.

“Allahu Akbar. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah.

I have written numerous posts on Islam to such an extent that some might think I hate Muslims. I don’t at all. I love them and often pray for Muslims in different countries to come to know Jesus as the only true God.

Experts Predict: The U.S. will be an Islamic country within the next 30 yrs.

Thank Allah for little girls??

      Thank Allah for little girls??

Recently, Renee and I have been watching a series of messages by the esteemed Bible teacher, David Pawson on the Christian response to Islam. Christians can’t have a credible response to Islam until they first know who and what they believe. Dr. Pawson cites studies by experts which predict that Great Britain will be an Islamic country by the year 2025 (11 yrs from now). And, the U.S. is not far behind. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the U.S. will be an Islamic nation. Personally, I don’t think it will take that long. Everywhere you look, you can see that Islam is making inroads here in America, and almost has protected status from our media as well as our educators. In many public schools, a Christian cannot speak about his belief in Jesus but Islamic students are given ample opportunities to explain Islam under the guise of diversity and religious tolerance.

Stark Contrasts Between Islam and Christianity:

Here are a few stark contrasts between Islam and Christianity. Nowhere in the Quran is Seeking AllahAllah referred to as love or having the attribute of love. Would you want to worship a god who does not possess and demonstrate love, mercy, and forgiveness? Allah, the god of Islam, is always angry and ready to enact vengeance on all those who don’t believe in him or submit to his ways.

However, in the Bible, we read that in 1 John 4:7 that “God is love.” We also see this love demonstrated by God, the Father, offering up his son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. Here also is another place where Christianity and Islam part ways. Islam believes that there is only one God, Allah, and he is a God who is unapproachable. He gives you a set of rules to live by such as praying 5 times a day and making a pilgrimmage to Mecca at least once during your lifetime, and that’s about it. But he does not intervene in the daily affairs of his people. However, the God of the Bible, Jehovah God, made a covenant with his people and is concerned about every aspect of their lives. He hears and answers prayers. He heals, delivers, sets captives free. The God of the Bible revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM.” Whatever you have need of, “I AM.” The God of Christianity hears and answers our daily prayers, and has revealed himself to us through his son, Jesus Christ, and he has come to live within us through the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is appearing to Muslims through dreams and visions

Nabeel Qureshi, "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus"

                                Nabeel Qureshi, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”

One of the awesome ways that we see YHWH, the One True God of the Bible, reaching out to Muslims is through dreams and visions. In most Islamic countries, Muslims are not allowed to read the Bible, they can’t read Christian literature, or watch Christian teaching on video. Sadly, most Muslims will never have personal contact with another Christian believer. But here is the good news! God is communicating His love to Muslims through dreams and visions. The irony is that these countries are trying to protect their people from any encounter with Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), but they can’t keep God from entering the dreams of Muslims and revealing Himself to them while they are asleep. How awesome is that!

In the latest issue of Christianity TodayNabeel Qureshi, shares how God called him off I-Dared-to-Call-Him-Father_Bilquis-Sheikhthe Minaret, and asked him to forsake his family to follow Jesus. I encourage you to follow the above link and read the story of this young man who was from Mohammad’s tribe and while seeking to better know Allah, while in medical school here in the U.S., God spoke to him through a vision and three dreams. (Read more).

Also, you might be interested in I Dared to Call Him Father is the fascinating true story of Bilquis Sheikh, a prominent Muslim woman. Her unusual journey to a personal relationship with God turned her world upside down-and put her life in danger.

We’ve succeeded in making the Gospels ordinary and mundane

howgodbecamekingI am reading a thought-provoking book, “How God Became King:The Forgotten Story of the Gospels” by N.T. Wright, and to make a point, he relates a wonderful scene from Peter Shaffer’s play “Amadeus.” There, the cynical old court composer Salieri contrasts his own operas, telling and retelling great tales of legendary heroes but through stale and tedious music, with Mozart’s astonishing ability to take characters off the street and create something truly magical. “He has taken ordinary people,” says Salieri, “ordinary people–barbers and chambermaids–and he has made them gods and heroes. I have taken gods and heroes…and made them ordinary.”

And this is the point that Thomas Wright (an Anglican bishop and esteemed theologian) is attempting to make in his book (How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels). We have succeeded at making the Gospels ordinary, and often all we are given in Sunday sermons is a set of “talking points” or “cliff notes” from the Gospels rather than the words and life of Jesus himself. Sadly, I have to include myself in this indictment.

The purpose of Wright’s excellent book is to suggest that not only have we misread the gospels, but we have made them ORDINARY–we have cut them down to size, we interpret the life out of them rather than setting them free to generate an entire world of meaning in all directions, a new world in which we would discover anew and afresh what it means to follow Jesus.

Mozart paying obeisance to Antonio Salieri

Mozart paying obeisance to Antonio Salieri

The main point that Thomas Wright makes is that Jesus came to do MORE than just die for our sins and give us our golden ticket to heaven. For many Christians, that is the sum total of the gospel message, and in that sense, we have not really read the Gospels. Instead, we have emasculated them of all their power and glory into something that exists for our own selfish ends. Unfortunately, that’s how many of us have been brought up to read the New Testament. We read it with the mindset: “What’s in this for me?” “What does God want to do for me?” We make the gospels all about us, and not about Him.

Kingdom_of_God (1)How God Became King, challenges our presumptions and assumptions about the Gospels. The author contends that the Gospels are the story of Jesus as being Israel’s God and Savior, and how he came to establish his rightful place as King of the Jews and the King of kings. He came to earth, incarnated in human flesh, to establish the kingdom of God, which clashed with Caesar’s kingdom as well as the kingdoms of this world, and is still at odds with the kingdoms of man that we are surrounded with to this very day.

Unfortunately, we have “de-Judaized” the Gospels and instead of Jesus announcing that he has come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel as their Messiah, we somehow made it all about us. It’s not really about us, it’s about Him and his proclamation of the kingdom of God as well and his victory over sin and death on the cross, where he secured his rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus raises the widow's son from the dead, Luke 7:11

Jesus raises the widow’s son from the dead, Luke 7:11

In Luke 10, when Jesus sends out the 72 disciples with the instructions to heal the sick, cast out demons and proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand, he is informing us that this is what he intends for His church today. This wasn’t just a first-century thing, but this is the business of the Father that we need to be about today. Instead, we’ve allowed ourselves to become weighted down with way too much “churchianity.” The 21st century church is not having much impact on the world because surprisingly, we’re not as centered in the Gospels as we might think. We need to get to know our Savior who not only died for us but is reigning and ruling as King of kings, and wants us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Just as we need to go to a chiropractor for an adjustment, where he puts things back in proper place, Wright’s book, “How God Became King ” has given us a theological adjustment, a fresh perspective on how to begin to read the Gospels and see Jesus as coming to establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

My preview of Obama’s SOTU: From our Dictator-in-Chief

This brief post, in the interest of saving you save time and trouble, is a condensed digestobama-the-dictator-1-12-2013 of what President Obama will lay out in his SOTU speech tonight. Fortunately, I’m one of the few to channel Obama’s thoughts and I know in advance what he’s going to say this evening. Here goes:

This is our guy, our President, our esteemed dictator. He will double-down on all his failed policies. Maybe it was Einstein who said that you continue to do the same thing and expect different results, you’re insane. So from the Oval Office of Insanity, expect to hear more of the same proposals that we’ve heard for the past 5 yrs. 

Obama_state-of-union2There will be the usual reference to rebuilding our infrastructure with “shovel-ready” projects (however, he’ll neglect to tell us one minor detail–that every project will need 3000 permits before work can commence.)

Along these lines, Obama will strike a conciliatory tone with Congress. He’ll do the “bait and switch” routine. I want to work with congress (so that he sounds bi-partisan) but if I can’t (and we know that he doesn’t want to) I’ll go it alone and make some unilateral decisions, otherwise known as “executive orders.” This end-run around Congress,  which is charged in the Constitution with “making the laws” is another effort on Obama’s part to ignore the checks and balances of the Constitution. One would think that our “so-called” constitutional scholar in the Oval Office would know this, but chances are, he was smoking some weed (by his own admission) when they covered that subject at Harvard law.

When he references Congress, listen for this great line from his advisor, Dan Pfeiffer: “We need to show the American people that we can get something done.” Where has he been for the past 5 yrs? In another country? Or just out playing golf? Don’t bother answering these two rhetorical questions. ObamaLyingtoAMerica_Pix

You won’t hear Obama reference his “over-used” popularism line, “Income inequality” and instead, he’ll opt for a more positive term, “opportunity.” Listen for the word “opportunity” to be used twenty or thirty times throughout his SOTU tonight. However, when Obama says “opportunity”, that’s “code” for more government spending, new government programs, more handouts, and mandating fairness by making companies hire those who are dunces and brain-dead just to give them an opportunity.

Obama_the_dictator2Obama will mention education as always, but this just be another bone thrown to the government educators and education unions. He always wants to give government teachers more money so that can continue to graduate students who can’t read, write, spell, do math, speak English, or tell time– they certainly don’t know anything about the history of our nation. But all high school grads have been inculcated in the subject of victimization, and well as the evils of the United States and capitalism. They also have a firm grasp on carbon pollution, and how evil companies like BP and Exxon are polluting this planet.

To summarize Obama’s thoughts in the State of the Union tonight: 

  • The Constitution? Who needs it when you can rule by decree? 
  • A Government of Laws? Who needs it when you can rule by decree? 
  • Separation of Powers? Who needs it when you can rule by decree? 

President Obama will emphasize his intention to use a unilateral presidential authority, and he plans to bypass Congress whenever necessary. Now who will define “necessary”? That’s the role of dictators. That’s the role of our dictator-in-chief, Barack Obama. You can rename the SOTU to the State of the Coup, since we now a Dictator running our country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In loving memory of one of God’s great gifts to the Church.

Jerry_CookOn January 11, 2014, Jerry Cook passed from this life into the presence of the Lord. It’s a great loss for us and a wonderful gain for heaven. Jerry served 52 yrs. as a pastor, author, professor, speaker, advisor, husband and grandfather.

If you haven’t a clue as to who Jerry Cook was–Please allow me a few paragraphs of introduction to this humble, mild-mannered saint whose one goal was to get Christians out of the pew and into the real world where we could make a difference for the kingdom of God.

Jerry had this unique ability, truly a gift from God, to be able to break down the complicated aspects of Christianity and bring it home in such a practical way that you could get a handle on it and go out and begin to do what Jesus had commissioned us to do. (Check out the YouTube videos of Jerry speaking on “The Church as a Force“–link at the end of this post).

Jerry Cook was the best-selling author of “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness” which has LAFgone through numerous printings and is still a bestseller today. In “LA&F” Jerry was the first to coin the now oft heard phrase, “the church as a force.” He also coined the phrase, being “open for business.” Every day, whatever we do, wherever we work or study, we have an invisible sign that either reads “closed” or “open for business.” His contention was that God puts it in the DNA of every believer to be “open for business” 24/7.

The few times that I had dinner with Jerry and spent time in conversation, he came across as a loving father who genuinely cared about my success and growth as a pastor. He also helped me to gain perspective and get reacquainted with what God saw as really important.

Jerry_Cook2Jerry would say that it’s not how great a Sunday service you have but rather what your people are doing out in the real world the other six days of the week. For Jerry, church wasn’t a Sunday morning thing but rather all week long. He tried to open our eyes to the fact that ”church” was serving Starbucks’ coffee, repairing cars, setting up a home theatre as part of the Geek Squad, studying for a business degree, a mom homeschooling her two children, playing tackle on your high school football team, sitting in your office with a client, a pharmaceutical rep, a physical therapist helping a patient regain mobility (You get the idea). For Jerry, it was all about being “open for business” and asking “The Jesus Question.”

To know Jerry Cook was to know that he was a great story-teller. We could all take a lesson from Jerry. Just like Jesus, he communicated solid biblical truth through powerful stories that held you spellbound. He communicated through some of the most poignant Jerry_Cook3and profound stories I’ve ever heard.

Jerry also had this self-deprecating, dry sense of humor. He always knew how to get a laugh from his audience, often at his own expense, which was fine with Jerry. He wasn’t out to make a name for himself. Jerry’s goal in life was to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, and to that extent, he succeeded 110%. There are a lot of young pastors out there as well as some now middle-aged pastors who are doing a better job for the sake of the kingdom and making a great difference in this world, all because they came in contact with Jerry Cook. There are many Christians who through a conference or a book or tape series, Jerry Cook helped them to gain a better understanding of Jesus and his purpose for their lives and the church.

I leave you with some Jerry Cook-isms:

  • “Many people have a detached god. Many Christians are praying to a god out there. The invocation is a prayer to invite God here to join us. Where does he come from? When church is over, where does he go? Where does God hang out?”
  • “The more distant your view of God (the God out there), the more legalistic you’re going to be.”
  • “The resurrection of Jesus empowered no one. NO ONE. Where were Jesus’ disciples between his ascension and the Day of Pentecost? Cowering behind locked doors in fear of the Jews. The resurrection did NOTHING to change their lives.”
  • “The Jesus Question: Is there anything I can do for you? Jesus makes this outrageous statement: “I haven’t come to be served, but to serve…” What kind of god is that? We’re used to religious gods who, if you serve them well, bless you and if you don’t serve them well, they’ll punish you. And sometimes, even when you serve them well, they still get back at you, just to prove that they’re god. But this Jesus comes out and says, “I’m here to serve you.”
  • If there is not a way that Jesus Christ can reproduce his life in us, in our every day world (your world and mine), then, what in the name of heaven are we doing?

If you’d like to see and hear Jerry Cook at his absolute best, check out this message that he gave in 2004 on “The Church as a Force.”     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FHIDAa661M

  • Also, later on this week, I plan to upload at YouTube, a couple more messages by Jerry Cook, so keep checking YouTube.

What is truth?

truthThe great central planner and respected mass murdering communist, Joseph Stalin always maintained : “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

Had the Russian people just cheerfully agreed with the “Official Truth” , some 20 million citizens might not have needed to be eliminated to achieve “Consensus”.

We live in a day when our government’s reputation for truth and veracity is soiled, as is that of our media and elected officials. We may be headed toward a day when millions of U.S. citizens are imprisoned or eliminated in order to achieve a “consensus.” I suspect that I will be one of the chosen ones selected for early elimination. While I don’t relish it, it will probably be deemed a “badge of honor.”

I’m reading a fascinating theological book by N.T. Wright, How God Became King.” He makes the case for the fact that we often ignore the teaching and truth of the four gospels which present Jesus as coming to establish his place as Israel’s King, and the King of kings. The angel Gabriel announces to Mary,

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”(Luke 1:31-33)

Jesus comes into Galilee at the start of his 3-yr ministry and announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. (Mark 1:15). We read that he went through the villages and towns proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1). For Jesus, it was all about proclaiming and establishing his rightful place as the King of the Jews and ultimately King of kings over the world and all principalities and powers.

At the end of his ministry, Jesus is standing before Pilate, who is about to condemn Jesus to be crucified. And Pilate said to him,

Pilate asking Jesus, "What is truth?"

Pilate asking Jesus, “What is truth?”

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.       (John 18:37-38)

There is a clash between two kingdoms: the Kingdom of this world which is what we see in Washington DC, Hollywood, New York, London, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Tokyo, etc. and the Kingdom of Jesus (Almighty God).

One Kingdom is built on one lie after another, and tells us that truth is relative–“your truth”may not be “my truth.” Truth in this kingdom is whatever we want it to be for today, whatever we choose to fabricate and package as “truth.”

We even have scientists today who design models based on lies, and with full knowledge communicate the data to us as inarguable facts. We have a President who knowingly lied to us time and again about being able to keep our doctor, and our current health coverage, as well as trying to sell the lie that four Americans were killed at the embassy in Benghazi because of outrage over a Youtube video. Lies, lies and more lies.

So do you want me to release to you your "king of the Jews?"

So do you want me to release to you your “king of the Jews?”

Jesus’ kingdom is different from the kingdoms of this world based in Washington DC and elsewhere because His kingdom is established in truth and uses truth as a weapon against all the lies of the enemy. When Pilate asked “What is truth?”–it was rhetorical because he really wasn’t seeking an answer. If he had, he would have known that the embodiment of truth was standing before him. Jesus proclaimed to all the powers of the world, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6).

John 8:31

John 8:31

When we speak the truth and bear witness to the truth, we shine a light into the dark corners of this world where God’s mercy, justice, love, forgiveness and grace are sorely needed. The evil empires of this world (including the United States) can’t cope with this. They make their own truth which is nothing but sordid lies and distortions and leaves people in bondage, despair, poverty and victims of injustice.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the side of truth. I want to be enlisted in God’s kingdom which he is establishing here on earth. Remember the prayer we pray (the Lord’s prayer) “…Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s my prayer. Lord use me to help further your kingdom. Help me to speak truth even when it is inconvenient and could result in being singled out as a rebel or trouble-maker. Help me to speak truth in a world that full of lies and deception. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in my life and in the life of everyone reading this today!

My new reality show addiction: Ultimate Survivor Alaska!!

Aside

ultimate_survival4

I have a new TV “reality” show that I’m addicted to, “Ultimate Survival Alaska” on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday evenings at 9pm (EST). I’m also watching the first season on Hulu which features eight intrepid, independent Alaskan men who each bring different skill sets to the table. They are forced to brave the Alaskan wilderness without tents, with no cellphones or GPS systems or other modern convenience on a 10-leg trek where they will be cold, wet, and hungry, and facing the real possibility of serious injury or even death. These guys don’t have any stunt men to take over the difficult stuff like jumping across bottomless crevasse or crossing a fast-moving river where the water is just above freezing. Each leg covers some of the most brutal and rugged terrain in Alaska with no roads, no motels or restaurants. The only food is what you catch, the only fire is the one you make, the only protection from the wind and rain is the shelter you build. These eight men are in a head-to-head battle for perseverance. They have just 72 hours to complete each leg of the journey.

ultimate_survival_3

These 8 men have suffered instances of hypothermia, nasty falls, and numerous encounters with bears for sixty days. One of te scariest moments comes when Marty’s son, Matt, is paddling alone in a kayak on a 40-mi stretch of Prince William Sound and suddenly disappears. Marty and his companion Tyler head for shore to build a fire, sending up a cloud of smoke as well as firing several rounds from a gun and still no sign of Matt. The next day, almost 24 hours since their last sight of Matt, they find his two water bottles hanging on a small ice glacier, but no sign of Matt. This is a scary moment. Has Matt’s kayak tipped over? It’s at this point that Tyler has to talk Marty down to reality assuring him that their best bet is to get to their extraction zone and if Matt is not there, they can then organize a search party. 

As a father, Marty fears the worst, yet hopes that his son is ok. After almost three days since they last sighting of Matt, Marty and Tyler are rounding a bend  of rock, to their extraction zone (the LZ) where they will be picked up by a boat. Marty’s heart is pounding and he says, “I pray Matt’s there. I pray Matt’s there.”

Tyrell & Dallas Seavers, Marty Rainey

Tyrell & Dallas Seavers, Marty Rainey

And sure enough, they spot Matt waving to them from the boat which has been sent to pick them up on this leg of the journey. Marty, who says he’s not a hugger, gives his son the biggest bear hug, and says such a huge load has been lifted off his shoulders, knowing that his son is safe and sound.

I’m watching Marty as he’s anxious, worried and fearful over what might might have happened to his son. I’m almost screaming at him to pray. Pray Marty. Pray and ask God to protect your son and show you where he is. But prayer doesn’t enter the picture at all on any of these episodes. Sad to say, I’m afraid that these manly men are self-sufficient and have no real knowledge of the One who created all the beauty and majesty that they encounter in Alaska, not to mention the One who gives them their own breath of life and sustains them daily and answers prayers and cries for help.

There are numerous instances where I would think that they would be calling out to Jesus for help, direction, safety, protection, etc. but that never happens. There are moments when I would think that they would be thanking and praising the Lord for getting them through difficult circumstances, but they always seem to chalk it up to “good luck” or their own skills and ingenuity. These men love the creation, but they are clueless concerning the Creator Himself.

ultimate_survivalI’m not being critical of these guys. I like all eight of them and they’re special men, manly men, a rare breed in this day and age. If the U.S. ever suffered a cataclysmic disaster or attack left us without electricity, gas, no food, etc., these are the kind of men I’d want to link up with because they know how to live off the land. In the truest sense of the word, they are “survivors.”

However, my prayer is that they might come to know the Lord who loves them and died for them so that they could experience more than just the beauty of Alaska, and have even greater purpose in their lives–that they might live their lives for the glory of Almighty God, the One who created them and all the awesome splendor of Alaska.

Watch Ultimate Survivor Alaska on Hulu.

Also, Sunday nights at 9pm (ET) on National Geographic Channel.

Communion is more than grape juice and stale bread.

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Warning: Don’t let the subject of this post scare you off. This is important stuff, more important than what kind of car or flat-screen TV you’re going to buy.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about communion or what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist,”  I think I have some insight (God-given) which may be a blessing and benefit to you the next time you receive Holy Communion or if you are not a believer, or have wandered away, it might give you something to think about.

communion4This week I was reading about Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Now, this is an amazing story and there are a couple of insights I want to share with you which can transform our participation in communion or “The Lord’s Supper.” I’ll get back to this a few paragraphs from now, but first let me tell you what I see as a blind spot in some Protestant churches: They seem to have a LOW REGARD for communion as well as a lack of biblical understanding or insight into the importance and significance of communion.

My mother attends a Southern Baptist church where my wife and I are NOT welcome to receive communion because we are NOT baptized members of that church. Is this what Christ intended? I don’t think so.

Along these lines, a few years ago, I spoke on the phone with the pastor of communion5a Missouri Lutheran Synod church in my town. This man is a sincere shepherd who teaches the Gospel to his congregation every week. It’s obvious that he knows and loves Jesus, but he told me that if I visited his church, I would NOT be allowed to receive communion because I needed to become a baptized member of his local church which also meant taking a series of classes on what it means to be Lutheran. Are you serious? At this point, I had been a baptized follower of Jesus Christ for over 45 yrs. and this young pastor was telling me that my faith in Christ wasn’t enough, or wasn’t recognized in his church. In this sense, both these churches that I’ve cited, have a low regard and fuzzy understanding of Holy Communion or The Lord’s Supper. The Apostle Paul says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia, “sharing”, “fellowship”) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). Paul intended that the unity of believers would be exhibited and solidified in the Lord’s Supper, and it is not to be taken lightly.

Communion31 Cor. 11:18, Paul says that when we come together to receive communion, there should be NO divisions among us. In other words, the Lord’s Supper is meant to celebrate our oneness in Christ, not magnify or create divisions or differences. In fact, God intended that communion would be a sacrament which would bring a blessing of His grace to those in attendance.

Paul didn’t set up some special prerequisites for receiving Holy Communion other than the need to examine ourselves and to ensure that we are NOT receiving communion in an unworthy manner. But certainly, communion is for ALL believers as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 10.

Paul said:

“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). Where is that oneness when we exclude brothers and sisters from receiving communion. Is this the “oneness” that Jesus prayed to His Father about in John 17:21 asking His Father that we may all be one, just as he and the Father are one, so that the world would believe that the Father had sent Jesus, His son.

Question: How is this prayer being answered when we exclude brothers and sisters from the communion table because they haven’t been baptized in “our” local church, or haven’t taken our series of classes which are the pre-requisite to receiving communion, etc. You get the picture. Is this really what Jesus intended or prayed for?

Here’s another example of where the Protestant church (in some cases) has a low regard for communion and has actually made it “ineffectual.” There are churches today where Holy Communion is a ritual with little meaning and often times the Pastors, and those serving and receiving communion are just going through the motion. For them, this is a symbolic act but there is no belief or understanding of Christ being present at the communion table.

One of the problems with the Reformation was that some Protestants went too far in distancing themselves from the Catholic doctrine of trans-substantiation (the belief that Christ is physically present in the bread and the wine.) Some Ana-Baptist churches along with other denominations went to the opposite extreme and said that baptism was just “symbolic”–just a remembrance. But even though Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of me,” in his final Passover meal with his disciples, he said, “Take eat, this is my body,” and He took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the New Covenant. Drink all of it” (Matthew 26:26-27)

At this point, I can communion1appreciate the insight of John Calvin on the matter of Holy Communion. He believed that Christ was present in the elements of communion at the Lord’s Table. He wrote that this is a mystery which we should not seek to understand but accept on faith. I fully agree. I believe that the spiritual presence of Christ at the Communion table makes this a holy encounter between the disciple and His Lord and Savior. I believe that when we receive communion, we are encountering Christ anew and afresh, and it’s at the Lord’s Table where we can come and receive forgiveness, restoration, healing, deliverance, renewal, as well as salvation. We come to the Lord’s Table to meet with our Lord and He is present to fill us and satisfy our deepest need and longing.

road_to_emmaus_largeNow, let me conclude my thoughts on the two disciples that the resurrected Christ encountered on the road to Emmaus. Here is the scripture from Luke 24. (Take the time to read it so you’ll better understand the point I’m about to make).

Luke 24:13-32 (NLT)
13  That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.
14  As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened.
15  As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.
16  But God kept them from recognizing him.
17  He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.
18  Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
19  “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.
20  But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.
21  We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
22  “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report.
23  They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive!
24  Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
25  Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.
26  Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”
27  Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28  By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on,
29  but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them.
30  As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them.
31  Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
32  They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Here are two insights that jump out at me from this passage:

1. As they walked along, Jesus held an impromptu Bible study with these two disciples and explained how the writings of Moses, the Prophets and all of the Old Testament spoke of him. In other words, the Old Testament is all about Jesus, if your eyes are opened and you have eyes to see Jesus on just about every page in the Old Testament. It was the Old Testament that brought Timothy to faith in Christ. When Paul tells Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17). When Paul wrote these words, he was referring to the Old Testament because that’s all that was available at that time. We need Pastors and teachers who will include the Old Testament in their regular teaching and show their people that Jesus is all throughout the Old Testament. I have thought for a long time that one of the first books that emmaus2ought to be taught exegetically (verse-by-verse) from the pulpit is Genesis, the book of beginnings, and the book about our father, Abraham, the father of those in the faith.

2. Jesus broke bread with the disciples and suddenly their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Here’s my take-away on this: I believe that as we come to the communion table in faith, we’ll meet Jesus. Our eyes can be opened to see Him more clearly in Scripture as well as what He is doing in and around us. Paul prayed for the Christians at Ephesus that God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17). I believe that this is something of what the two disciples experienced when they broke bread with Jesus. He opened their eyes and they recognized Him. I believe that we can have our spiritual eyesight opened to see and know Jesus and experience His presence as we receive Holy Communion.

I believe that Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist is a blessing of God’s grace given to the Church by the Lord whereby we celebrate our oneness, we proclaim His death until He comes, and we also experience His presence anew and afresh in our lives.

These are my thoughts. I welcome yours. What do think about communion? Do you agree or think I’m taking this “communion” thing a bit too far?