Your Name is Love

By: LeeAnn Witzigman

“And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth.  The Lord will hold you in His hand for all to see – a splendid crown in the hand of God.”  Isaiah 62:2-3

This verse made me drop to my knees and rebuke every name that’s ever been attached to me by my own acceptance or without my consent.  As I was peeling off the words from my heart and tossing them into the fire, I was surprised at some of the names that were tucked away.  It wasn’t just a word, but a wound.  And often times, what seemed like a label was really a lie.  And truth be told, the most difficult ones to detach were the titles located in hard to reach places and others that were slippery with pride.  How effortless it’s been to live all these years and hoard the world’s trash inside the most sacred part of me.  But, no longer will the weight of humanity’s unkind speech sink my heart or pollute my soul.

I began reading about some of the people who underwent a name change in the Bible and their stories fascinated me.  They woke up one day as the same person they had always been and by nightfall they were not only renamed, but God had rerouted them deeper into the Kingdom.  Isn’t it just like Him to change the very word with which we identify most … even if we don’t completely understand who that person truly is on every level?  Those documented scriptural accounts created such a hunger inside my heart that I was compelled to ask God for a new name.  And a few days later the words “Your name is Love” were whispered into my heart and the atmosphere of my life changed in a blissful instant.  Heaven’s arrow pierced through the pain of my crippled worldly identity and set my feet firmly on the palm of God’s hand and in the center of His adoring eye.

I believe the name Love is not just for me, but for every daughter of the King.  Being made in God’s own image already grants us heavenly permission to embody His infinite acts of love.  The power of Love makes the entire world tremble and radically transforms death into life.  If we are called Love, we carry the perfume of compassion into every place we enter.   Love stands last in line.  Love plants seeds of hope in every desert and quenches the thirsty landscape with the flowing inner river of God’s living water.  Love beholds visions and cries for dry bones to come to life.  Love lives on Heaven’s timeline and surrenders all for God’s will.  Love is who we really are and the reason we are here now.  There are no words that rival the identity God has designed for you and I.  And honestly, anything that doesn’t come from His hand steals the crown from its rightful place on our heads.

Your name is Love and God has created a view just for you – an awe-inspiring glimpse into the beauty of eternity.

Proverbs 22:1  A good name is to be more desired than great wealth.  Favor is better than silver and gold.

Revelation 2:17  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.

1 Corinthians 16:14  Let all that you do be done in love.


Contemplative Movement – Part 1

By: Rev. Clete Hux –

To varying degrees, all human beings seek their own autonomy or independence. This is especially true when it comes to a relationship with God our Creator. Suffice it to say that when we come into this world, we don’t come in running toward God. On the contrary, we come in running away from the God in whose image we are made. Shall we call it escape from reason? Frances Schaeffer did when he talked about a “natural theology” defined as man going his own independent way, not seeking the God of the Bible, nor taking the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice.

What Schaeffer meant by this “natural theology” and independence of man forsaking God is different from the revelation of God in nature. One is man driven. The other is God given. We have the general revelation of God’s existence through creation and conscience which Paul speaks of in the first chapter of Romans. All men are consciously aware of our Creator’s existence. Yet, man’s fallen nature wants to suppress this knowledge. For example, a pickpocket picks pockets, but resents his own pocket being picked. The same suppression goes for the knowledge of God salvifically through the special revelation of His word and His Son. Instead, man would rather seek God on his own terms, making himself the point of reference for life’s interpretation and application.

With this independent bent often being described as a thirst for spirituality, some people will gravitate to occult mysticism in hopes of having an experience with God. What He has provided in His word through a relationship with His Son and the guidance of His Holy Spirit seem never to be enough when confined only to what can be found within the scriptural context of the Bible.

The writer of Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” knew that our tendency is to “lean to our own understanding.” Because of the subjective nature of individual spiritual experiences, we are encouraged to trust in the unchanging God and the objectivity of His word. Church history is replete with people going after experiences outside biblical parameters and our day is no exception.

It has been said that the various charismatic movements over the years are attempts to experience God, and it could be argued that there is both legitimacy and illegitimacy to such. However, we would admit that a relationship with God through His Son’s intervention for us is experiential, yet, grounded in the proper bounds of His word. After all, is not the reason why the Father sent the Son…to pay our sin dept so that we can have an experiential relationship with Him? Of course, it is!

The problem is that mankind is forever devising ways to experience God unsanctioned by the one and only rule of faith and practice, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Instead, the idea of experiencing God has led to many subjective ways of being spiritual, which oftentimes has led to mysticism.

I mentioned occult mysticism, which can be defined as the attempt to obtain power through secret wisdom. This is the point where mysticism and gnosticism meet. This so-called secret occult knowledge has been around a long time through various forms such as Alice Bailey’s Esoteric Astrology (involving the horoscope), Madame Helen Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, many forms of parapsychology and other secret societies too numerous to count.

In our day we have the whole gamut of the contemplative prayer movement and lately, the Enneagram is spreading into the church. Years ago, while in seminary training, I became curious about Christian mysticism. So, I decided to ask one of my favorite professors, Frank M. Barker, Jr., one of the PCA’s founding fathers. He told me that in his opinion mysticism was nothing more than mythism. I will never forget his statement. With this in mind, let’s look briefly at the worldview of the two topics I mentioned: Contemplative Prayer and Richard Rohr’s version of The Enneagram.

Contemplative Movement

One of the most popular names associated with the contemplative movement is Richard Foster. Although having Quaker roots, which is problematic because of Quakerism’s “inner light” leading some toward neo-orthodoxy believing the Bible becomes the word God when one has a spiritual experience, Foster’s contemplative practices are really indebted to Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk. Merton’s mysticism resources can be found in the Catholic Church, much of the Evangelical Church, the Emergent Church Movement, and the New Age Movement. Indeed, many interfaith dialogues not only are promoting religious pluralism, but using some contemplative practices to do so.

Beyond Foster and Merton, there is Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, touted by Tony Campolo as one of the great Christians of our time.1 Then there is Thomas Keating, another Catholic monk. And, while we’re at it, we need to mention Matthew Fox, former Catholic priest turned Episcopalian with his Creation Spirituality in which he teaches a panentheistic worldview. Panentheism is the belief that “all is in God/God is in all.” It is akin to what is known as Process Theology. A rudimentary illustration: God is in the world the way a soul is in the body and as the world processes, evolves and changes, so does God process, evolve and change. Obviously, this is not the God of Holy Scriptures who does not change regardless of what evolution-minded people might say.

The biggest danger to which one is exposed in the contemplative movement is a subtle erosion of the Creator/creature distinction toward a monistic or “synthesis of all things” understanding. This has much in common with Eastern mysticism that basically teaches all is one and all is divine by nature. Consider what Catholic monk Basil Penninton said in his book, Thomas Merton, My Brother: “The Spirit enlightened him [Merton] in the true synthesis [unity] of all and in the harmony of that huge chorus of living beings. In the midst of it he lived out a vision of the new world, where all divisions have fallen away and the divine goodness is perceived and enjoyed as present in all and through all.” 2

Merton, who is often quoted by Richard Foster, tells about a trip to Asia where he met Chatral [a Tibetan holy man] whom Merton regarded as the greatest Buddhist teacher he had met. In their conversations, Merton found that he agreed with this Buddhist regarding Dzogchen meditation, which promotes a non-dualistic worldview. This relates to the so-called “mindfulness meditation” curricula that exists in some public schools and other venues throughout the country. What I find interesting about Merton’s time with Chatral is that Merton records Chatral being surprised at getting on so well with a Christian, so much so, that Chatral said that something had to be wrong! Chatral was so surprised by their common meditation understanding that he called Merton a natural Buddha. In other words, there was harmonious agreement that their respective meditative practices were the same. Perhaps, this is the reason why Merton said that he would not be able to understand Christian teaching the way he did if it were not in the light of Buddhism.3

Another name is Brennan Manning, who in the past, endorsed Beatrice Bruteau as a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness”. Bruteau founded two different schools of contemplative practices, both incorporating Hindu and Buddhist approaches to spirituality. This is understandable since Bruteau studied with the Ramakrishna order, named after famous Hindu swami Sri Ramakrishna.4



A Core Problem with the Core Kids Ministry

By Dawn Hill


The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Charles Spurgeon

One of the greatest privileges and blessings I have as a parent is to share the gospel with my children and to have meaningful moments of Biblical discipleship. Though it is not always picture perfect, there have been numerous opportunities to talk about Jesus, the cross, sin, repentance, and eternal life. There have been conversations with our seven-year-old daughter about reading the Bible, the importance of prayer, the facets of worship, and life lessons with Scriptural application. I would not trade these moments for anything.

When my daughter was three years old, I can recall her laying on prayer requests during intercessory prayer gatherings, lifting her hands while listening to radical worship music, and marching around as my shadow while I paced back and forth in prophetic declarations. This was during our time in the hyper charismatic movement. Personal experience was elevated, and I have no doubt that she would have gone down the same path had it not altered course. Over the past several years, things turned out much different than what I had expected or anticipated, but the changes have been for the better. This is not to say that I discourage her from lifting her hands in worship to God or in praying for others. Rather, I encourage her to return to the Word of God as the final authority for understanding God’s ways and instruction while sharing our need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We never outgrow needing to hear the gospel.

I reflect on this in light of a children’s ministry called Core Kids, an offshoot from a women’s discipleship group, The Core Group. In order to be a Core Kid, the mother must be a member of The Core Group. I recently spent time watching some episodes directed towards children who are part of this group and the teachings being presented to the children. Some of these episodes have corresponding printable interactive workbook pages and journal pages covering topics such as breaking witchcraft and hearing a word from God. Monthly zoom meetings for these kids called Nights of Fire are held, and declarations that a children’s revival movement are being proclaimed in association with this group.

From what has been stated by the leader of the Core Group, the children are casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and rushing the stage to praise and to worship the Lord. They are laying on the platform crying and lifting their hands. They’re identified as being radical, and they are encouraged to lead now at their age, citing Isaiah 11:6 for confirmation.

When watching the teaching episodes for these children, I observed some things worth mentioning. I noted the teaching of the Law from the Old Testament without the presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one of the videos dealing with breaking witchcraft, the children were told they were forgiven of their participation with things such as tarot cards, objects of witchcrafts, and horoscopes. Yet there was no call to repentance for sin, no mention of the cross and the need for redemption. In other words, there was no good news. The thought occurred to me that perhaps a young person watched this video and had no understanding of why the things mentioned were a sin against God. What if they did not even ask God to forgive them, but the leader is telling them they are forgiven without personal repentance? This gives a false assurance of salvation and reconciliation without true repentance.

Personal testimonies from the leader were shared without the gospel being presented. I understand that we can be encouraged by other’s stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace. At the same time, we must acknowledge that our personal testimony is not the gospel. People are not saved by our personal testimony. They are saved by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). They are saved by hearing the proclamation of the gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the atonement of their sins.

The leader encouraged the children listening that they are to be “all in for God.” I wondered if the children knew what that meant, and if they believed “all in” meant having radical emotions and experiences. Does all in mean claims of casting out demons and prophesying? Does all in mean waving flags and jumping up and down with passion and enthusiasm? Does being all in mean that you blindly follow the leader without question? What happens to these young people when they feel nothing or the hype fades? Will they have lasting fruit testifying of Christ?

I am going to say some things that may spark frustration for those who disagree, and I mean no ill will or malice in saying these things. As a mother, I am thankful my daughter is no longer in this type of environment with this type of influence. Though I was not part of the Core Group, I was associated with similar beliefs and practices. As a mother, it saddens me to hear children hearing the Law apart from the gospel. Yes, our children need to understand the Law of God found in Scripture because they are sinners. Our children are not saved because we take them to church. They are born again when they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. From there, they need proper Biblical discipleship within the church and within the home.

As adults, we need to understand the Law because it places a mirror before our face to show us our need for Christ. Having said that, if all one hears is the Law, then all one hears is legalism. You and I and our children need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, without apology and without compromise. This is the good news to the bad news of being a Law breaker. Our children are not someone else’s deliverer. Our children need to know the true Deliverer and as believers, they are to testify of Him for salvation of souls. Those who have been truly delivered by Christ Jesus from the domain of darkness will desire to walk in God’s ways and to obey His Word, not out of obligation but out of love for God.

My concern in these types of movements is that a superhero mentality is created to claim power and authority leading to pride, while using the name of Jesus for validation of the message. My concern is that emotional hype and experience are elevated and used as the litmus test for true passion for God, and those who are not as radical are called spiritually dead. My concern is that false converts are being manufactured, an eternal consequence that is too important not to voice these concerns. At the core of our Christian faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and though I hope my daughter unashamedly lifts her hands to God when meditating on His goodness and holiness, raised hands and outward expressions of zeal without knowledge will not mark her as a believer. That work lies in the power of God and the finished work of Christ on the cross, and that is sufficient.

Listen to this episode of The Lovesick Scribe podcast, discussing this topic in more detail: The Lovesick Scribe Podcast: A Core Problem with the Core Kids Ministry on Apple Podcasts.


Ladies Gave The First Resurrection Message

By: Brother Sam Waddell

MATTHEW 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. –5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Comments: Luke wrote: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other woman, Luke 24:10. (NKJV Matthew 28:1-10 and Luke 24:10).

These ladies were the first to see JESUS RESURRECTED.  Why? Because they were the first ones there! JESUS loves all His followers the same, no matter the gifts or calling, but it is the ones who SEEK HIM FIRST who find Him. As James wrote: ” Draw near unto God and He will draw near unto you.” James 4:8 NKJV

REMEMBER, it is the ones who are there, when GOD MOVES, that get the BLESSING. Not the ones hiding away, or in bed with a hangover, or at the river fishing. If we want God, as Believers, we must pursue Him diligently and if we are lost sinners, we must repent, call on JESUS, to save us, and believe in Him, in our hearts, then pursue Him diligently. These ladies were first to the empty tomb. Then, JESUS appeared to them and sent them to tell the other Disciples, who weren’t there. Verse 9 “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So, they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.

Comments: JESUS always has a call and a mission for us. He sent these ladies to ANNOUNCE, to the other Disciple, that He had RISEN from the dead and that He would meet them in Galilee. All believers are called to ANNOUNCE THAT JESUS IS RISEN AND ALIVE AND HE RULES AND REIGNS FOREVERMORE. So go with JOY, like these ladies, and tell all those you know in this world, JESUS is alive and will meet them. If them turn around and COME TO HIM.

Brother Sam Waddell was a missionary in Africa and other parts of the world. He holds a M.Div. Theology, Missions and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary.


Life in the Blood

By Fran Gardner Mora

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22

Have you ever watched an animal sacrifice scene in a historical documentary or show and marveled at just how horribly pagan and offensive the ritual was – and then thought, “These people were barbaric! What kind of god would …”

… And then you’re tracking along through Exodus and Leviticus and [insert the sound of screeching tires here] you come right up into chapters of scripture that detail the exact order of events when offering sacrifices to our God – and they include animal slaughter, catching blood in bowls, and sprinkling people and surfaces with the blood!

Because of my love for understanding God’s Word and my analytical nature, I found myself doing a deep dive into the possible answers to the question, “Why?” I didn’t hit the Internet or check the commentaries because I wanted the Holy Spirit to place His illumination on the subject.

I saw that the blood was sprinkled on people and smeared on specific parts of the body (ears, thumbs, big toes, etc.), which means that the blood of the sacrificial animal would have, undoubtedly, gotten on their clothes. Also, when men brought animals to be sacrificed, they had to slaughter them at the place where they burnt the offerings, which was a messy task! At this time in history, clothes were not washed very often, so these people would have walked around for days, or maybe weeks, with the stains – and the smell – of the blood on their person. Very disgusting! The priests, however, were told to wash their garments if they got blood on them.

Scripture also tells us that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). But once the blood leaves the body, life leaves the blood, and it becomes putrid. So, sin causes this cycle of death and waste that destroys both the innocent and the innocence. In the sequence of events that were prescribed for sacrificial atonement, it seems that God wanted us to be conscious of His blood covenant with us. But, perhaps God was also demonstrating that atonement for sin is very costly and that we should bear the smell of the sacrifice in our nostrils as a reminder that life is sacred. It’s no small thing for one life to be slain for another, whether it’s a full-growth bull or a tiny dove.

But Jesus ended the requirement of wearing the stench and shame of our own sin. By pouring out His righteous and precious blood and taking the cup of the sins of humanity, He placed the seal of redemption on us and gave us the only way back into the Fathers holy presence. His blood carries eternal life, washes away all other blood and guilt, and restores our purity and innocence. We are free to hope because we are validated by this new covenant and not bound by lies. We are free to love because we can move in the graciousness of God and not be bound by fear. We can live to the fullest because we can drink from the flow of living water and not be limited by thirst.

Oh, Jesus, I love you. The only thing that I can ever do to thank you for my salvation is to serve You by humbly serving others, to honor You by being a reflection of You to those around me, and to glorify You by making Your influence over my life known. Holy Spirit, help me to do this well. Increase my measures of faith and perseverance, place before me anointed opportunities, and breathe into me a mighty, fresh wind. Amen.

And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24


January 6th Two Years Later

By: Jeff Sutherland

Two years ago, on January 6th congress was counting electoral votes to decide the election. There has been over 1000 lawsuits brought against the votes claiming fraud and despite that, these were ignored, and Biden was elected President.

Uncountable millions of hours on media and social media have backed that President Trump incited an insurrection, calling people to kill and destroy our democracy. But in reality, our democracy is a constitutional republic where the winner of the electoral college in each state ultimately decides the outcome of the election and congress approves the vote.

A committee was formed to look into the happenings on that day but only those who hated Trump were allowed to be on the committee. When one side or other controls the media, education, congress, and the Presidency, where it is considered almost unlawful to discuss anything, we are turning Marxist in our government thinking. The first amendment is being butchered.

While in college I ran around with the people in the Debate Club. At the time they were discussing nuclear armament. You would get up and argue for disarmament then thirty minutes later you were required to argue for armament. Imagine if school was still taught this way where both sides are exposed, discussed and thought through rather than just decided that your side is right and everyone who doesn’t believe that is wrong. Even if you are right and the other side is wrong, we can be civil and discuss the issues. This has not happened.

One side hates Trump and will do anything to make sure he is never able to run for President again. The other side believes that Biden has done well, heading our country in the right direction, determined to shut up the right and their thinking.

In the founding of our country, over the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there was much debate that lasted for months. However, there was one agreement, a general consensus that no matter what direction we took as a country, that God, not government was the giver of our rights. This thinking lasted well into the 20th century where President Eisenhower began his inaugural address with a prayer to God that we would continue to look to Him for answers, for security and that He would lead and guide us as a country of believers. January 20, 1953. He was a general in world war two and was determined to keep our country focused not on arguing with the other side but focusing together on our walk with the Lord. He is the one who added “one nation, under God” in our pledge of allegiance. He determined to put, ‘in God we trust’ on our money. He was not considered a radical but a man who wanted to continue to lead this country as our founding fathers did, focusing on putting God first in everything.

Everything about January 6th 2021flies in the face of this thinking. It is a small tip of a huge iceberg headed right at our capitol. This isn’t even about politics, there is a much deeper more sinister root to this malodorous bloom that started in the 20th century.

But how do we fix the problem? As a former landscaper, I can tell you that if the real problem is in the roots of a plant, you will never fix it by pruning, fertilizing, or doing anything to the top of the plant. Our country wants to focus on everything but the roots.

There is a great example in the Bible of how to deal with problems. It is found in John 8.

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple area, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began teaching them. Now the scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in the act of adultery, and after placing her in the center of the courtyard, they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” Now they were saying this to test Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. When they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Now when they heard this, they began leaving, one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman where she was, in the center of the courtyard. 10 And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on do not sin any longer.”

Consider the Pharisees. They thought it would be great to show Jesus this woman caught in sin. They may have thought that He would bless them for exposing this ‘evil’ woman. He didn’t. His statement hit right at the heart of the problem. He who is without sin, cast the first stone. None did. Jesus is the only one who could have but He didn’t either. He simply told her to go and sin no more.

This small teaching, if applied to January 6, our government and those involved, would simply realize our own sin, drop the stones we are ready to throw at others we could make a huge repentant turn across this whole country.

HOME | Fortmorgan (fortmorganministries.com)

Resurrection is Coming

By: Tresa Walker

Think about that feeling of waiting expectantly for something. Christmas and birthdays as a child, your wedding day, the birth of a baby, a long anticipated visit or trip, milestone birthdays (maybe when you were younger, now you probably dread those big birthdays). Most of the time, our wait is a few short weeks, months or maybe even years. But there is coming a day that Christians have awaited for nearly 2,000 years! John 5:28-29 says, “A time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.” For believers, there is a glorious new life in our future that is much more than anything this earthly life can provide. The joy will far surpass anything we have anticipated here on earth, and it will be a joy that endures through eternity!

Easter is a time of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but the events prior to the resurrection were heartbreaking for those who witnessed the events. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and then crucified on a rugged cross and died for all to see. The Gospels retell the details of these events leading to the death of Jesus.  After His death, His body was wrapped in linen cloth and placed in an empty tomb which was sealed with a heavy stone. The tomb was then secured by guards to ensure that no one could attempt to steal His body under cover of night and then falsely claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. But no stone or army of guards could have compromised God’s perfect plan!

On the third day, an angel appeared at the tomb and removed the stone causing the guards to collapse in shock.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb to anoint His body with burial spices, and the angel announced that Jesus had risen from the grave. The tomb was empty! Imagine the confusion the women must have felt. In Matthew 28:6, the angel said to the women, “He is not here! For he has been resurrected, just as he said.”

Just as He said! Jesus had predicted His own death and resurrection and tried to prepare His disciples for this moment on three different occasions. Matthew 16:21 says, “From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Similar statements are also found in Matthew 17:23 and 20:18-19. This idea was completely incomprehensible to them, so they did not grasp the concept of resurrection and His future return.

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christian belief. If Jesus had not resurrected from the grave, He would have simply been a great teacher. But He conquered death just as He predicted and as had been prophesied many times in the Old Testament 700 years prior to His crucifixion!  Jesus was truly the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of the World which was precisely who He claimed to be! Everything prophesied had come to fruition. Everything believers of that time had trusted, shared, and held onto had become reality because death could not hold our Savior in the grave! And everything that we hope for today is irrevocable truth!

The story of Jesus did not end at the tomb. He arose victoriously from the grave! Therefore, the story of a Christian’s life doesn’t end at the grave either. This is confirmed in John 3:16-17 which says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” His resurrection changed everything! It finalizes God’s promise of eternal life for those who believe. If there had been no resurrection, there would be no basis for our belief as Christians.

After hearing from the angel that Jesus had been raised from the grave and seeing the empty tomb, the two women left full of joy and ran to tell the good news of the resurrection. Jesus then met them on the road, and they immediately fell at His feet in worship. What a moment! Their beloved Jesus was alive! He had conquered death and rose from the grave just as he claimed he would do!

His resurrection gives us confidence that there is more to our existence than just this earthly life of pain and sorrow. It gives us hope of everlasting life with the almighty God. It gives us assurance that what we hope for is real. The resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and secured the promise that followers of Jesus would have everlasting life. John 11:25 states, “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.’”  Because Jesus is life, those who believe will be resurrected to new life with Him. Even when we die, death will not defeat believers; we will have eternal life. We will be raised to everlasting glory!

As Easter draws near, make time to reflect on the resurrection. Death did not win the victory. Jesus did! Reflect on the empty tomb that could not hold our Savior. Reflect on the witnesses who saw Him, touched Him, and worshiped Jesus in all His glory. Reflect on the love of a Savior who took onto himself every sin that you have ever committed and then suffered and died in your place so that you could have eternal life. Reflect on the promises of a resurrection to a new life in glory that we have been promised as believers. The resurrection for believers is coming! Until that day, worship Him, teach about Him so that others may believe, and faithfully wait with joy and anticipation for that day! What a day, glorious day that will be!


Will The Asbury Revival Transform America?

By: Stuart Kellogg

The revival that began during the regular February 8th chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY caught the imagination of not just the church, but the country as a whole.  For those unfamiliar with revivals, it was a strange occurrence, seeing young men and women for hours, days and eventually, more than two weeks, praying and worshipping.  (“Isn’t that supposed to be something you do once a week?”)  For the evangelical church it was a promise of an awakening within an increasingly secular and hostile culture.  We won’t know the real impact for years.  The question of whether it will go down as a localized experience, or the start of something much, much bigger will depend not on the thousands who were part of the outpouring.  It will depend on those of us who heard about it and then responded or did nothing.

Whether an awakening or revival, it was a powerful event that began with young Generation Z members and touched many more than those who witnessed it in person, including several residents.

Now, America is certainly no stranger to revivals, being part of world-wide awakenings since before we became a nation.    Some examples:  The First Great Awakening in the 1700s, The Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s, and the 1970 Asbury Revival which occurred at the beginning of the so-called Jesus Movement and is popularized in the current hit movie Jesus Revolution.

These large movements are a testament to the Holy Spirit moving among His people, and drawing in those thirsting for more than what the culture offers.  Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Seminary (a separate school across the street from Asbury University), prefers to call the event an awakening.  It will be a revival, he believes, if something more permanent comes of it.  As he wrote on his blog, “It is first, last and foremost a tribute to the grace of God to reveal himself and to call a new generation to faithfulness at a time when we most needed it….However, a deeper look at this outpouring reveals that it has the same elements which are found in any authentic revival:  people repenting of their sins; people being filled with the Holy Spirit; men and women finding reconciliation with God and their neighbor; people capturing a renewed love for Jesus, the gospel and the Holy Scriptures.”

“The Presence of the Spirit”

A Baldwin County pastor, Dr. Barry Carpenter who leads Resurrection Church in Daphne AL., experienced the power with five others who travelled with him to Kentucky.  What made the time special?  “One word.  Presence.  That’s the word that captures me, captives me,” Dr. Carpenter told me.  “The presence of the spirit.  It was gentle.  There was no leader.  He was the leader.”

Started during chapel service February 8th and lasting 16 days, Asbury University president Dr. Kevin Brown told The Christian Post that 50,000 students and visitors came to the campus to pray from more than 260 colleges and universities.  Similar outpourings of prayer were reported at other colleges and universities across the country.

For Loxley, AL resident Tim Philpot, the revival was a reminder of the powerful work of the Spirit in 1970 at that Asbury Revival.  Tim was a freshman at the time.  The son of evangelist Ford Philpot, Tim was not a Christian.  He told me the revival 53 years ago transformed his life.  As he wrote on his blog when this awakening broke out, “About sixty hours into the revival, I knew it was my time. I located a friend and said, ‘I know you wont believe this, but I am not a Christian.’ She smiled and said, ‘Thats no surprise. Five of your friends are in the basement right now praying for you.’

As Tim witnessed the incredible moving of the Holy Spirit in February, he was taken back to his own earth-moving experience.  “This was my moment — one divine moment. I slithered to the altar, hoping no one would see me but also believing that this was the biggest moment of my life. And sure enough, it happened. I experienced God. I wrestled with God and He won.  He redeemed me. He washed me.  He healed me.”

The key, however, is not just the powerful experience, but the fruit of those awakenings.  For Tim, he wrote that the change was immediate.  “For starters, when I stood up from the altar, I loved people that I hated the day before.   I am thinking of two very specific young people. It was a juvenile eighteen-year-old teenager rivalry, but very real at the time.  Next, the incredible burden of sin was gone. It was like going from being a caddie carrying a 100-pound tour bag full of thirty clubs and junk up a hill to being the a tour playerwith God Himself on the bag, carrying all my burdens for me. Essentially, it is the freedom that comes from being forgiven!”

That encounter with Christ didn’t just change Tim, it’s changed the hundreds of lost souls touched around the world through his one-on-one discipleship and various ministries he’s been involved with and led for more than half a century.

Lasting Transformation?

As Dr. Tennent from Asbury Seminary wrote, “Only if we see lasting transformation which shakes the comfortable foundations of the church and truly brings us all to a new and deeper place can we look back, in hindsight and say ‘yes, this has been a revival.’”

What is your church doing in the wake of this outpouring?  What are we doing individually?  If we simply cheer and go back to our everyday lives—-a little bit of Jesus mixed with a lot of other stuff—-odds are there will be little fruit.  If, however, Christ followers become more engaged with Christ, listening, and obeying the work of the Holy Spirit, well, watch out world!

The fruit of those earlier revivals, or awakenings, is obvious.  Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter wrote The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, and noted that each  movement had a lasting impact because of major changes in the church and the culture.   “The First Great Awakening in England, for example, resulted in Sunday school and educational reform, changes to labor and child welfare laws, significant prison reforms, and the abolition of slavery,” they wrote.  “During the Welsh Revival, the culture was so transformed that new mules had to be secured to work in the coal mines: The old mules wouldn’tt respond to miners who no longer cursed and abused the animals! In these and many other ways, revivals in England, America, and other nations have historically shaped those societies into more Christian communities.”

The Second Great Awakening birthed many great evangelistic organizations, such as the Baptist Missionary society, along with the modern missionary and Sunday school movements.   Calvary Chapel is credited with planting more than 1400 churches in the wake of the Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s that began at that small church.

In other words, there was no “going back to normal.”  It was a wonderful new normal, with a revived church plus many, many new followers.  You know what term didn’t rule the day after these revivals?  “We’ve never done that before!”

Will the awakening/revival at Asbury University be more than a fondly remembered event in a year or two?  It all depends on us.  There has never been a greater need for Christ and what He can do to heal the wounds, repair relationships, and lead a country full of sinners to repentance and a new life.  What are we willing to do to make that revival a reality?

Stuart Kellogg, author of The Post Covid Church: An Action Plan to Thrive Not Just Survive ( amazon.com) is host of What Now? The Post Covid Church Podcast, available on your favorite podcast platform.  (Contact: stuart@thepostcovidchurch.org)

What Real Love looks like

What real love looks like…

By: Jeff Sutherland

I almost walked out of church last night. One of my favorite pastors started speaking and asked if we remembered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, and a few people in the congregation were quick to google and share what Maslow taught. At this point I was getting angry. This is supposed to be church not psychology class.

But quickly our pastor asked, where is God in that pyramid? And he wondered what our needs pyramid should look like if God is the center of our life. At that point not only did I want to stay and hear what he had to say but I wanted to create a ‘God’s hierarchy of our needs pyramid’.

In Maslow’s pyramid and in the world’s view love is all about ME. Most people only think about love being the good things that happen to me but the Bible stands this whole idea on its head. Consider being sold into slavery, false accusations, imprisonment and other horrible things that happened to Joseph yet in the end he was able to say, ‘you meant it for evil but God meant it for good’.

Consider 400 years of slavery for God’s chosen people followed by 40 years wondering in the wilderness before they made it to the promised land and only two of those original two million people actually crossed the Jordan into Israel.

And to see what real love looks like we only need to look at Jesus.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, anyparticipation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2


What real love looks like is not pleasing ourselves and getting what we want so we can move up the ladder toward self-actualization. God showed us the way. He did the opposite, He climbed down the ladder, all the way down. His focus was on our real needs, the only need that matters. Life. His death gave us life and He require those who believe Him to follow His example to die to self and live for others.

Ephesians 5 says to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies, and they shall become one flesh.

This totally destroys Maslow’s hierarchy. Life isn’t supposed to be about me and getting what I need, it is about following Christ’s example and dying to self and living for others.

Next time your pastor wants to make his sermon into a psychology lesson, walk out. Run from that church. I am so thankful for a man of God who preaches the Word. Those who follow Maslow sound a lot like the lesson plan for church last night in Proverbs 4.

Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

We can’t worship the world’s ways or worship self while putting God first. Quit trying to blend psychology and the Bible. Thank you pastor!

Below is Maslow’s pyramid. God provides our needs. If we are having trouble breathing, eating, sleeping He has a greater purpose. God is our security and if we lose a job, or a house He has a better purpose. If we show love, others may not show it back but we will grow in our love for God. Our achievement, our confidence, our status is based on what He has done for us, Godly esteem. Our potential rests not on our effort but on His.

This pyramid should be turned upside down and the cross should be the pinnacle and focus of our lives and others should see that in us.

That is what real love looks like.

Cynicism: An Enemy to Defeat

By: Donald Ward – Elder, United Church of God

Society has been trained to be cynical. No one trusts anyone else. We are continually reminded of our dishonesty. Leaders in virtually every institution you can name have had suspicion cast on their behavior. We have been taught to lampoon and poke fun at time-honored traditions and values. Nothing is sacred—everyone and everything is fair game for critical review. Unbridled criticism is the precursor of cynicism.

Are you cynical? Do you sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalms 1:1)? The Free Dictionarydefines cynicism as an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. One of the key words in the definition is the word “motive,” which can be defined as the reason and cause for one’s actions. The cynic believes that actions taken by organizations, and/or individuals are based on ulterior motives.

Is it any wonder that cynicism is one of the nation’s deadliest diseases?

Within the Church of God, we’ve had so many ups and downs in recent years that it would be easy to take up a seat with the scornful. But cynicism is a very insidious affliction and will result in eternal death unless we repent of it. For some people, cynicism is part of their being—their psychological make-up. They have a need to be cynical and critical in order to feel complete.

Cynicism is in fact a form of self-righteousness, in that the cynic always knows a better way. If the cynic were in charge, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The cynic criticizes and becomes bitter in his heart.

Respecting the Messenger

What would it take for you to become cynical and sit in the seat of the scornful? God’s Word says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1). The Hebrew word translated as “scornful” means to talk boastfully, to mock and to deride. It is the equivalent of cynical. God pronounces a blessing on the man that does not sit in the seat of the scornful—in the seat of the cynic.

But sadly, the pages of the Bible are filled with men who sat in the seat of the scornful and became cynical. God identifies these people in Jude’s epistle to the Church of God. “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, ‘to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’ These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 14-16).

One major reason people become cynical is because they perceive that there are double standards at work. Yet there will be double standards as long as humans are in the flesh. By contrast, there are no double standards with God. The standards of God and Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God do not change. He is faithful. With Him there is no variation nor shadow of turning (James 1:17).

Paul wrote, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). In other words, the truth of God (the faithfulness of God) does not change because of the actions of men.

Will you let the actions or words of imperfect men take your crown? It’s a terrible irony that for a cynic, it is often the very person or situation they are cynical about who takes their crown. They become so cynical that they cannot separate the Word of God from the messenger. It can be easy to think that if the messenger is imperfect, it nullifies the message. Jesus’ detractors used this tactic against Him. They called him illegitimate and accused him of being demon-possessed.

But when the Word of God is spoken and you hear it, you had better take heed. Isaiah wrote down the proper view of His Word: “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

You may not respect the messenger, but you had better respect the message—the Word of God. Cynicism toward the messenger can be forgiven if repented of, but to be cynical toward God’s message is to flirt with the unpardonable sin.

Respecting the Message

In each generation, people think that if God were to speak to them, they would listen. But when the Living Word was on the earth and speaking directly to them, they would not listen and take heed. Christ warned the cynical Pharisees to clean up their act—to stop trying to impute evil motives, to stop trying to trap Him (Matthew 23:29-33).

Time after time they came to Him with a statement, or a question filled with double meaning. “Master, we know,” or “the law says”; “show us a sign”; “by what power…” They were speaking cryptically, with hidden meanings. They spoke with nuance and innuendo, saying one thing, but meaning another. God’s warning against double talk is very clear: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:12).

Love of God

Another reason people become cynics is because they have not developed a loving, sincere relationship with God and Jesus Christ. They allow the various ups and downs of organizations and men stand in their way. And sadly, oftentimes they are looking for an excuse to criticize and justify their actions. But we must never allow any excuse, reason, or cause to separate us from being faithful to our covenant relationship with God and Christ.

When you repent of your sins, are convicted of the truth by the Spirit and Word of God, are baptized, and exercise faith in the sacrifice of Christ for remission of sin, you enter into a covenant with God and Christ. You make the commitment to crucify the flesh and live by the Word of God. If you persevere and finish the race, a crown awaits you in the resurrection.

Cynicism’s Insidious Results

In the first chapter of Job, Satan comes before the throne of God. God asks Satan if he has considered His servant Job, who He says fears God and shuns evil. Satan replies: “Yes, Job fears God, but not without good reason!…But take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9, Job 1:11, New Living Translation). In other words, Satan cynically accuses Job of serving God because of ulterior motives.

Satan’s cynicism began long before the days of Job. He was at the very throne of God as the anointed cherub that covered (Ezekiel 28:14-17). He looked at his self-perceived importance, beauty and wisdom, and said in his heart that he shouldn’t play second fiddle to anyone in the universe. Revelation 12 reveals that he drew one third of the angels with him in his rebellion. Rebellion can be caused by dropping words of doubt and by becoming cynical and bitter.

After Cain murdered his brother because of jealousy, God asked him, “Where is your brother?” Cain cynically replied: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). But God clearly instructs throughout His word that we are our brother’s keeper. And we should love one another fervently with no ulterior motives. Note the words of the apostle Peter, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Cynicism Can Be Defeated

All the enemies of faith can be defeated. And every excuse for being cynical can be conquered. We can develop the same mindset that is in Jesus Christ. In fact, we are exhorted to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ and follow his example (Philippians 2:5).

Having the mind of Christ begins with examining ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror. We can hide the Word of God in our hearts and meditate on it. We can control our thought patterns and focus on the things that edify, exhort and comfort.

We can follow the admonition given by the apostle Paul, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).


 “Cynicism: An Enemy to Defeat” ©2023 United Church of God, an International Association



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