Missing the Opportunity

I just read an article passed to me by my wife, Sherry, on Ravi Zacharias’ site concerning the effect of a simple little letter written by a 6-year-old girl. The article is here and is entitled “The World Without a Story.” Boiled down to its essence, 6-year-old Lulu wrote a short letter to God and gave it to her father, a journalist named Alex Renton. He and his wife are atheist but they decided to not allow their position to answer their child’s curiosity. Thus, he chose to email family, Christian friends, and some expert theologians.

In Renton’s own essay entitled A letter to God, the saddest words to me were that “the Episcopalians and Presbyterians did not reply.” Others responded but either noncommittally or in language that was too theological. The best response was that from the (then) Archbishop of Canterbury which can be seen in the article. I recommend reading both Renton’s essay and Jill Carattini’s article on Ravi Zacharias’ site. However, let me return to briefly discuss the missed opportunities here.

As believers, we are exhorted to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV with my italics) I presented the context of this because it outlines the seriousness of the charge that Paul made to Timothy, and consequently to all of us. The times around us are wicked, the clamoring noise drowns out God, and man’s heart constantly seeks to invent evil. All around us are as many permutations of “religiosity” as there are members of the populace and we have to be prepared to lay out the Word of God. We cannot afford to shrug off any opportunity, even if that opportunity is a child’s simple question scratched out on notepaper!

It is shameful to not be able to answer a question about the God Whom we love and serve. Sure, we may not be eloquent but we should be able to articulate the basics of Who is God and why do we love Him. 1 Peter 3:15,16 calls Christians, especially those who are suffering for the sake of Christ, to “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (NKJV and italics are mine) The word is “always” not “sometimes” or “occasionally” or “when the Spirit gets you.” Always be ready, in season and out of season. It is amazing how much effort we put into developing an “elevator pitch” about our work, our current project, our vacation plans, or the state of our kids but we won’t do so for the hope that is in us.

Yet, even more shameful were those in ministry who did not deign to answer. Like the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan they glanced over and didn’t see anything of interest and passed by the question of this child. These busy people considered their pending tasks too important to consider what seemed to be a silly little letter from a child. However, look at what they missed! They missed their response touching a little girl’s life, moving the hearts of atheist parents, and being published in The Times [of London] (article here) front-and-center in their Faith section for umpteen people to read, contemplate, and maybe even come to Christ! One wonders if their responses would have been forthcoming if they had known that there would be an opportunity for their personal glory?

Thank God for the tender answer of the then Archbishop. He was, quite obviously ready in season and out of it to provide the reason for his hope and his response was properly tailored to the needs of a little girl exploring her first tugging questions about a great God’s existence. Even beyond the answer itself, his actions exemplified the character of Jesus for Whom no-one is too small and insignificant for His ministering grace. “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15 NKJV) The Archbishop’s response serves us a reminder to all of us about our central mission and why God chose to keep His people in the world and not to translate them to heaven upon their conversion. We are here to tell others the good news and to share the hope that is in us.

May all of us believers be aware of the seeking and probing questions that we are being asked and may we seek, through God’s Spirit, to provide answers. May we not overlook the young, the downtrodden, and the forgotten of our society. May we never be too busy to not be about our Father’s business.

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Dealing with the Serpent’s Venom

As Easter approaches, I prepared the following as a sermon to use at one of our prisons to which we minister. I am sharing it here because its message is so important as we contemplate the Cross and all that Christ is for us.

John 3:13-21 (NKJV)
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

GustavDore_TheCrucifixionThe gospel is, as Fredrick Buechner put it, incredibly bad news before it is incredibly good news. In this passage, Jesus Himself explained the essence of the gospel message with one of Israel’s teachers, a man named Nicodemus. As we picked up the narrative above, Jesus honed in on the essential news of the gospel and it is nothing like the world imagines.

The terrible news is that Satan has bitten each of us just as a viper does and he has injected his vile poison into our veins. Some of those among us, defiant to the end say things like, “I am looking forward to Hell because all the cool people are there” or “my friends and I will party.” They consider Hell to be just a place, maybe not quite as posh as Heaven, but somewhere where they could make a home. To them, it is the difference between Buckingham Palace or the White House and a no-name motel.

However, Jesus outlined that this is not the case at all. He defined the difference between Heaven and Hell in terms of extremes: life versus death, saved versus condemned. They are polar opposites. There is nothing in the one that is in common with the other. The venom of the Serpent that has been injected into all men’s veins, if left unchecked, leads down a path of total destruction. So other people, who are not as defiant, raise their heads, fearfully turn to God and ask, “What is to become of me?” Nicodemus was one of these people. He was one who was seeking God’s honest answer to the bad news.

To those who ask, Jesus points out what He pointed out to Nicodemus in John 3. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” “Huh? What? What’s that you say?” What in the world does this mean? So confusing…or is it? We MUST all take the time to delve into what is meant by this “Moses and snake” statement, right? In order to do this, we must read Numbers 21:4-9 to understand Jesus’ context, one which obviously was known to Nicodemus. So, let’s turn to it and look at this story of condemnation and grace in terms of the Israelites:

Numbers 21:4-9 (NKJV)
4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

GustaveDore_TheBrazenSerpentThis occurrence is an analogy of the state of man. The Israelites represent the state of mankind: Venom sweeping through their veins; death staring them in their faces; and God’s response was to command Moses to quickly cobble together a bronze snake, hang it on a pole in the camp, and then bid the bitten to turn to stare at it! Please take careful note that this is the same thing that Jesus bids us do today. Note His words – “AS Moses lifted up….” (John 3:14) – He bids us to do the same as the Israelites in the desert that many years ago.

So what happened with the Israelites stuck with the bad news of their impending doom? The hardened and defiant ones just ignored God’s commandment. “Yeah, whatever??!” They preferred to deal with the poison their own way. They sucked on the bites, cut around them, drank herbal tea, uttered magic incantations, called the psychic hotline, researched “cures” online, and did everything that their minds could come up with to save themselves. And…they died.

The fearful self-proclaimed “faithful” ones heard the admonition and decided that God was crazy. “Turning and looking at some bronze serpent will not fix this poison! I have to do something SERIOUS about this situation.” They decided that they might as well look at the serpent and pretend to obey but at the same time that they would try something else that made more sense. Thus, they were just self-sufficient as the first group but they layered on a thin veneer of “religiosity” to appease their unbelief. In the end, they also tried to save themselves and in so doing, they rejected God. And…they died.

The rest, however, reasoned that God was indeed wise and that if He said it, then it had to be true. They abandoned all hope of saving themselves, turned in their faith, and looked at the bronze serpent. And…they discovered that they were immediately healed. The pain of the poison disappeared instantly and they continued living. That is total trust in a nutshell. Believing to the point of even death itself that God is truthful and able to save. It is not just sitting on the gunwales of the boat dangling your feet in the water. It is hopping out on the water expecting it to be like concrete under your feet…and it is!

So what happened there? Faith was either expressed or it was rejected. Those who outright denied God’s power could not be saved. Those who tried to add human effort to God’s commandment could not be saved. Only those who let go of their doubt and took a flying leap of faith, completely trusting in God’s promise, were saved. The turning to look expressed the desires of their hearts. They trusted God with a childlike faith. We don’t need to know the details of how God will accomplish His saving act in our life. We only need to know that He is fully able to do it.

Salvation, the incredibly good news part of the gospel is summed up in John 3:14 to 17. In the same way that the bronze serpent was lifted up and set in the midst of the dying, so also is Christ. He was raised up on the cross where He died for all mankind’s sin and He was raised up from the dead and is standing by ready to save whosoever will. Verse 15 drives the point home that we must believe in Him. There is no human effort involved. There is nothing additional demanded of us. The kernel of the gospel, the Good News, is that we only need to believe and turn to look upon Him with the eyes of faith.

God has the antidote to the poison which is ravishing our beings. This antidote is the “transfusion” of the precious blood of Jesus into each of us! God’s incredible love for us is so intense that He chose to send His Son, His only Son, a part of the Godhead, a part of Himself, to die for our sins. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that the Perfect was made to become sin for our salvation’s sake. He Who could not sin paid the penalty for our transgressions. The blood of Calvary is more than adequate to cover our sin and move us from the realm of eternal death and into the realm of eternal life.

Do not be mistaken, Hell is a serious place and a serious time. It is an eternal lifetime in a place completely devoid of the love and grace of God. There is no mercy, no relenting, no goodness, and no party. It is, in Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42-47, a place where the fire is never quenched and a person never can escape the torment. God is fully aware of this and so He freely offers us salvation to take us out of this place. God’s love offered up His only beloved Son as the ransom for our souls, and Jesus’ blood is the only antidote to the Satanic poison that afflicts us. As Charles Wesley wrote so eloquently in the hymn, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”:

He breaks the power of cancelled sin
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Returning to Jesus’ words in John 3, let us consider what they mean to us. John 3:16 is probably among the most quoted verses of the Bible and yet so many miss what it actually says. It states that God’s intense love for us was expressed in the broken, bleeding body of Jesus on Calvary’s cross. He saw the only way that the bite of the serpent could be healed and paid the price Himself. All that we each need to do to be free from the poison of sin is to believe. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice has the power to take us from a state of perishing to a state of eternal life. Verse 17 emphasizes that Jesus came to Earth, to be born as one of us, to be God’s agent of salvation. His first coming to the world has broken open the coffers of God’s grace and He bids us to take hold of it.

The Bible reminds us that Jesus will come to Earth one more time. This second time will not be like the first. The first advent of the Lord Jesus was to NOT condemn the world but to save it (v 17). In the second coming, He will be the Judge of the world. The coffers of grace will once again be sealed up and those who have rejected Him will be condemned and cast into Hell. How can we reject Jesus? Verse 18 clearly outlines that “he who does not believe is condemned already.” We already have the venom of the serpent sweeping through our bodies. That venom, which is our natural sinful nature, will serve to convict us. We stand condemned because of our evil natures which hate God’s light and reject it. If we do not do anything, we are under the death sentence that we rightly deserve.

Yet, the Good News is that there is a way out. God’s light has come into the world. Jesus Christ has come and paid the price and God bids us to turn to Him in faith and trust Him. “He who believes in Him is not condemned,” says verse 21. “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life,” is stated twice in verses 15 and 16. In verse 17, we are told that God sent His Son into the world to save it. The way out does not depend upon our being intellectual giants. The way out does not need us to be smart. The way out does not need us to be strong. The way out does not need us to know some secret handshake. The way out is to turn in faith, to repent of our sins and hand everything over to the Lord Jesus. The word “repent” literally means a “change of one’s mind” and represents a 180 degree shift in our perspective. We agree with God that we ARE sinners and that we do not have the power to fix it ourselves. We agree with God that, no matter how crazy His solution to the problem may seem, it is the RIGHT one. We turn, like the Israelite did in the desert, and look towards God’s solution with eyes of faith.

Today, if you already have turned and looked at Jesus, if He already is the “author and finisher of your faith (Heb 12:2), then you are blessed. You have loved the light and come into it. However, if you have never really looked to Him as Lord and Savior, then I urge you to not waste another moment. Being under condemnation is not a good place to be. All you have to do is to realize that, without Christ, you have nothing waiting for you but Hell. The gift of God is free. It is waiting for you to accept it. Just have faith in God, trust Him, and turn and look at Jesus.

(Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

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Phantom of the Skies

NewPhantom2Quadcopter4A new toy, er tool, has entered the fray over here. How many times have I desired to be able to add 100ft to my current position and photograph (or video) from a higher vantage point (To see this wish in action, see my blog post here)?

For a while, I have been eyeballing quadcopters. As the image quality of the cameras got better (and the lift improved to allow better cameras to be hoisted into the air), I found myself being tipped over the edge. A friend of my wife’s husband ended up with a Phantom and indirectly I received lots of feedback, mostly positive, about it and the camera rig. A Phantom lived in my Amazon wishlist for a few months until I finally was toppled by this video:

Hatteras from Justin Brown on Vimeo.

To me, Justin Brown’s work is lovely and his videos demonstrate the efficacy of using a quadcopter and GoPro camera. Since I am very familiar with the North Carolina subjects he shot and put on his Vimeo feed, I could definitely evaluate the quality of it. I salivated a bit longer then pulled the trigger.

The most important thing about quadcopters is learning to fly them and to control them properly. In the US, as long as you stay out of regulated airspace, do not use them in specifically banned areas, tread carefully when you fly, and do not attempt to charge for video you shoot (makes it commercial use and prosecutable by the FAA) you can enjoy this hobby (see this article. Nothing will layer incredible regulations on quadcopter use faster than folks who abuse the privilege and bring about the ire of the public and the government.

So, with this being said, it is quite obviously important to learn how to properly fly and control these possible projectiles! Consider this warning commentary about a quadcopter crashing into a busy Manhattan street! With this and other similar anecdotal stories ringing in my ears, I sought to figure how to properly handle this beast before firing it up.

The first good piece of advice came early and was easily heeded. Purchase a small “toy” quadcopter ($40-$80) and use it to learn basic control skills. With a small Hubsan X4 in hand, I could learn to fly indoors with something substantially lighter than the DJI Phantom 2. An additional benefit of learning with these small craft is that they tend to be far more twitchy and unstable than the 3-gyro, GPS-stablized Phantom platform. Learning to control these little guys makes the DJI seem “easy” in comparison (at least, in some respects). The key is to work on learning not only the controls themselves but then how to work the controls regardless of if the craft is oriented nose-out (facing the same way as the controller), nose-in (facing the controller – left/right and back/front are reversed relative to the controller), and every orientation in-between (e.g. side-in) which adds additional complication to the process.

PhantomFlying10A nice tutorial which really helped me initially is How to fly a quadcopter (part 1). It gave a good overview of some of the key basics that I, as an RC newbie, urgently needed. Quadcopters and RC helicopters are very similar in function. With this in mind, I have to also say that the Learn how to fly RC Helicopters series has been extremely helpful so far.

So, stay tuned to here and my video feed on Vimeo for some results from the quadcopter!

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A Snowy Day Musing in Music

SnowTrappedInTree2As I have been blogging the last few times, one of my most recent creative outlets has been in the realm of music. I have been boning up on my music theory since December and have recently started into music composition. Today, the Carolinas have been hit by a massive winter storm so, as I was contemplating the gray day and the falling snow, I started to work this little composition up. Unlike the ones from the last post which were variations on a theme, this is a new composition from scratch.

The chord progressions symbolize the gray monotony of the atmosphere. The melody tickles the senses like the swirling snow that is ever falling. I decided to end on a positive note since storms are transient, the time will come when the sun will shine again. The short piece is on SoundCloud and you can click the play below if you want to hear it.

If you are into photography, clicking the photo above will shoot you over to a better image of this macro capture. I was drawn to the way the evergreens were clinging to the snow so I shot it with an extension tube and a very narrow depth of field to capture this sliver of time and space.

I worked up the composition and transcribed it to paper then to Finale. The final performance is driven through MIDI into Sonar X3 using a concert grand.

Click here for A Snowy Day Musing Music on SoundCloud

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Filming a Documentary Goodbye for our Pastor

Over the past few months, I had been completely tied up and busy with preparing a documentary and goodbye video for our beloved Pastor. He was retiring after almost 42 years of service with our church. So, I found myself leveraging many of my skills in preparing this video. My technical photography and videography skills came to the forefront in preparing the interview footage. My video editing skills in Adobe Premiere Pro and After-Effects became honed. My Photoshop skills were needed to prepare old photos sent in by church members and to prepare layers for After-Effects.

I found also that I started to leverage long-forgotten music skills. As I wrote in It’s all about Rhythm, I wanted to get involved in the soundtrack side of the production. Thus I started to extrapolate themes from one of the pastor’s favorite hymns, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” set to the tune written by Lowell Mason in 1824. I did pull in a few CC Attribution songs to round out the video, but by and large, it is my soundtrack. Needless to say, it was a fun learning experience and one that I hope continues into the near future.

The final production was prepared on time and went off well. From a creative perspective, I learned a lot more about how to “schedule” a documentary this time around. My favorite thinking tool is a Microsoft Office product called One Note. Using this product, which is akin to having a looseleaf notebook, I snapped in pages and worked up ideas ahead of time. It is also great in that it allows you to create dynamic to-do checklists and check items off as they are accomplished. This was very helpful since scheduling so many different interviews and events was all over the place. Nothing that was planned for was missed.

Anyway, below are the links to the video and some of the backing music that you might find of interest.

Pastor Thompson Retirement documentary:
Part 1 of 4
Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
Part 4 of 4

Some backing music links:
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Guitar Version
When I Survey DX Piano Variations
When I Survey Variation in E minor
When I Survey Variation with a Dark Synthesizer
When I Survey Theme in E minor
Pizzicato Variations of When I Survey
When I Survey Expression Variation

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Its all about rhythm….

KeyboardJust a quick post about something obvious but maybe not so much. Since my early years, I have dabbled with music, first formally and then over time more as a hobbiest (I am being generous with this moniker). Recently, I have made an effort to get into music more intently to support my video work. I started with Cakewalk Creator 5, then upgraded to version 6, and finally am on Sonar X3 to avoid some technical “pitfalls” in the more entry-level applications. Currently, I am working on some supporting music for a video production for our pastor’s retirement and am, quite frankly, having a blast with it.

Anyway, in my typical “gotta-know-everything-about-anything” approach, I started working through music theory and composition. It has been eons since I touched music theory and can remember very little of the rules. I also suffer from another ailment, having learned music under the English system, some nomenclature is completely foreign to the American way of naming things (Hey, do you KNOW what a hemi-demi-semi-quaver is? How about a breve? Frankly, I like the American nomenclature which is far more on-point) So, I am clicking off the things that I already know, learning new names for others that are familiar, and am picking up lovely concepts and rules that I don’t remember knowing.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog article. The ever-important rhythm. Challenged by my theory book, I downloaded “Mobile Metronome” onto my Android phone, sat at my keyboard and set a nice Adagio pace to tackle the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata. Lovely triplets gracing every beat of the bar. Ouch! My timing is sloppy and it seemed so “right” before! I have played this piece since childhood and over time my mental clock has slipped and sprung a few springs. Age and lack of precision practice had taken a toll on my ability to perceive my timing deficiencies. I rapidly discovered that I was playing way too slowly and the precision of my timing of the starts of each set of triplets was less than admirable.

Poor Beethoven…I have been inflicting suffering upon this genius’ good name! Interestingly enough, several minutes of practicing with the precision of a metronome clicking away the measures and everything started to improve. No, not by any means perfect, but somewhat better. Which brings me to my point. It is hubris to think that one’s timing is precise without continual practice alongside a device that instills the timing standards into one’s being. I have gone way too long without it and am glad that I was “forced” into having this “ah-ha” moment.

More musical musings are sure to follow as I continue on this journey….

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Is There Still “Power in the Blood?”

There is a great, old hymn that has the refrain:

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood, of the Lamb  (Lewis Jones, 1899)

This compels me to ask some rhetorical questions. Is this still true in our day? Have we somehow diluted the blood of Jesus so that its power has been curtailed? Has the Cross of Christ been so ridiculed that it is ineffective anymore? Do we believe that there is still power available to, as John Newton said, “to make the foulest clean?” (Amazing Grace, 1773)

We live in an age of growing apostasy. The tendrils of the sin-loving lifestyle have wrapped themselves firmly around many hearts, even reaching into the pews of many churches. The “people of God” are less and less distinguishable from the “world.” To many, faith is merely some old-wives’ tale or something fictitious, unattainable, or even undesirable. Churches convene but many are devoid of faith. For these, religion is some “feel-good” weekly pill that is rooted in anything but the blood of Christ. We preach on things other than the Cross because we feel that the message of the Cross is perceived to be offensive to man’s desires. God forbid that we hurt people’s feelings so we choose instead to preach mindless, “feel-good” baby food (Galatians 5:11) instead of relying upon the power in the blood.

In this age, we need to firmly grasp the message of the apostle Paul who boldly proclaimed:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16,17 NKJV)

There IS power in the blood. It never will lose its cleansing strength. What we can lose, however, is our dedication to it. Is the perceived weakness in the blood today due to the fact that we are ashamed of the gospel of Christ? Do those of us who proclaim it really believe it or are we guilty of just “peddling the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17) for our own benefit?

There is a real danger to our suppressing or denying the power in the blood of Christ. First, there is no salvation without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). No matter how “good” we may feel about being religious, the Bible reminds us that it is only through our being sprinkled by the blood of Calvary’s Lamb that we are saved (see 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 12:24; John 6:53,54 for some examples). It is at the offensive Cross that a spiritual transference occurs – our sins are covered once and for all by the redemptive blood of the sinless Lamb. Our salvation starts there and is anchored in the Cross. We can never forget what Jesus did for us. Understanding the price that was paid for our redemption is important to keep us from returning to the “sin which so easily ensnares us.” (Hebrews 1:1) The power of the blood is what empowers the gospel.

Second, the power of the blood of Christ drives the faith relationship. We need to understand the tremendous gift that faith actually is. A common misconception is that faith is something that we will ourselves to somehow “feel.” Faith is something that is mysterious and intangible. Faith is trust but such trust is not based upon something we can plainly see or touch, smell or hear. There is no way to “train” faith like some sort of spiritual body-builder. Faith just is. It happens and cannot be forced by mere mortal will. The Bible asserts this truth by stating:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV)

Faith is either totally a gift of God or, at least, is a cooperative venture between man’s will and God’s gift. Either way, the kindling of faith is something within God’s hands. It is very precious and we must never underestimate or trivialize it. So if God is calling us right now into a faith relationship, we had better heed that call (Hebrews 3:12-15). If we are already in that faith relationship, “under the blood” so to speak, this should galvanize us to understand how precious faith is and spur us to guard our hearts. We must be fully convinced that “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 2:12 NKJV)

The blood of Christ still has all of its awesome, cleansing power. We need to stop attempting to dilute it or flavor it to make it more palatable to the world at large. We must end any practice of mixing it in with worldly “feel-good” messages and just let God have His way. Faith and salvation depend fully upon Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross. So, let the truth of the gospel ring out unembellished and untouched by human hands. Let the truth of the gospel convict us of sin. Let God unleash the power that is in the blood of Christ in our lives.

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