Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Joy to the World" - is it really a Christmas song?

"Joy to the World," which was written by Isaac Watts and set to music by George Frideric Handel, is a well-known and well-loved hymn.  But did you know that it really isn't a Christmas hymn?  The lyrics are based on Psalm 98. A look at the lyrics of "Joy to the World" indicates that it is actually about Christ's second coming and the Millennial Kingdom and not about His first coming.

For example, in the first verse, there is a line that reads, "Let earth receive her King."  Jesus did not come as a king at His first coming, but as a baby in a manger.  "And heaven and nature sing" is a general reference to verses 7-9 of Psalm 98, in which the seas, the rivers and the hills rejoice.

The second verse has a line that reads, "Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns," and the fourth verse starts with the line "He rules the world with truth and grace."  The third verse states:  "No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground." These are references to the Millennial Kingdom, when Jesus will reign over the new earth.

So why do we sing "Joy to the World" at Christmas then?  I believe it is to remind us that Jesus is coming back again.  Indeed, in some mainline Christian denominations, Advent is the only time you'll hear about Christ's Second Coming.  Advent is definitely an appropriate time to think about the Second Coming, but I think Jesus' second coming should be talked about more than once a year.  If we have been born again and are taken to heaven in the Rapture, we will be coming back with Christ at His second coming, and how exciting that will be! We should be looking forward to the day when Jesus will return and establish His reign upon the new earth.

Wouldn't it be awesome if that when Jesus returns, the whole world, mankind and nature would sing "Joy to the World"? The second verse reads: "Let men their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy."  How thrilling that would be!

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately.  I've had a lot of stuff going on the last few months and just haven't been in the mood to write. I hope that 2015 will be a better year.  Since today is Christmas Eve, I would like to wish my loyal readers a happy and blessed Christmas!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

The good, the bad, and the ugly of social media

Social media can be used for good purposes, it can be used for bad purposes, and sometimes, the use of social media has ugly results.  Here are my thoughts on social media.

The good:

You can find folks you haven’t seen in years.  Have you lost track of that cousin you used to hang out with in grade school?  He or she is probably on Facebook.  Do you have family members or friends that live in other states or other countries? Facebook can help you keep in touch with them. 

On social media, you can find groups of people who have common interests, like sports, Bible studies, etc.  You may never meet any of these folks in real life, but you can converse with them like they’re in the same room with you. 

Social media is also good for following people and companies you are interested in.  You can get glimpses into their activities without seeing them in person.  If you’re having an issue with a product or a service, Twitter is a fast way to get a business’s attention.  The business will rectify issues quickly so their other followers will see that the business wants to make their customers happy.

Social media is also a great way to promote your business.  You can post about special offers, new products, and job openings.  You can ask your business’s followers questions about what they would like to see or purchase.  You can post contests and giveaways.  If you have an emergency and have to close your store early, or you have different hours for weekends, you can post about it.

Social media is great for those of us who write blogs.  You can use social media to publicize new blog posts.  If your blog has a Facebook page, you can post items that are too short to blog about, or use it as a way to keep your readers engaged. My Branson on Your Budget blog has a Facebook page. I use it to post special information.  

Twitter is really good for obtaining news quickly.  I follow national news organizations such as CNN and local TV and radio stations on Twitter to get news updates.  It only takes about 30 seconds to post a news item on Twitter and post a link to a web page if more information is available. Twitter is great when major news events are occurring.  You can follow what’s happening in real time.  Twitter wasn't around for 9/11, but if it had been, it would have crashed with everyone posting updates. 

The bad:

If you’re a private person who doesn't want to be found or a criminal, then perhaps social media is not for you.  Google is the friend of those folks seeking people that don’t want to be found, and once you’re found, watch out. 

Intent often can’t be deciphered on social media.  You may post “I’m going to kill ____,” or “I’m just really depressed and I think I’m going to end it all” on your timeline and not be serious, but people who read your posts don’t know that you’re just kidding.  They may become concerned and call the authorities.  Depending on where you are on your life's journey, having the authorities know about your social media posts could have some major repercussions. 

Violent movements and organizations also use social media to publicize their activities and to recruit more people. 

If you spend more time on social media than you do with your family, then you may have a problem.  If you’d rather play Facebook games than eat, then you may be addicted to social media.  If you get up in the morning and the first thing you do is check social media, then you may be addicted to social media. 

The ugly:

Potential employers look at your social media presence and if what you post doesn't comport with the type of employees they want, then they will not hire you.  If you’re a student, colleges to which you apply will also look at your social media presence to see if you’re the type of student they want to admit.  If they don’t like what they see, they may decide not to admit you.  If your relatives don’t like what you post on social media, they may disown you. 

So how should you use social media wisely?  Be careful as to what you post on social media. 
Actions have consequences, so stop and think before you post (or do anything, for that matter).  If what you want to post could get you in major trouble, then don’t post it!  My general rule is that if you wouldn't want your mother to see what you post, then don’t post it.  If you don’t care if your mother sees what you post, then you have deeper issues than I can cover in this blog post.  This includes not only the writings that you post, but the photos/avatars that you post or use as well. 

Post enough so that people don’t worry about you, but don’t post too much.  Familiarity breeds contempt. 

You may wonder why I wrote this blog post.  Recently, a family member posted something on Facebook that they shouldn't have. Someone turned him in.  But because this family member didn't think before he posted, something his mother was looking forward to greatly will not happen now, and that’s very sad.  I wanted to post this to warn others so you can use social media correctly and avoid this fate.  

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meeting up with Melchizedek

Melchizedek is an very interesting person.  Melchizedek is only mentioned twice in the Bible, in Genesis 14:18-20 and in Hebrews 7:1-17.   The Genesis account is a story, while the Hebrews account explains Melchizedek’s background.  Some theologians think that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate theophany, or in laymen’s terms, a pre-New Testament appearance of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  I don’t agree, and I will explain why below. Let’s start by looking at the Genesis account about Melchizedek:

Genesis 14:18-20 (NKJV): Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.

In this story, we see Abram (better known as Abraham), who is traveling home from the battle where he and his soldiers rescued Lot from his kidnappers.  He meets up with Melchizedek, who is called the “king of Salem.”  In the Hebrews account, it is explained that “Salem” means “peace,” so Melchizedek is the King of Peace.  Right away, we know Melchizedek can’t be Jesus because in Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace.  Melchizedek is also referred to as the priest of God Most High. Melchizedek also brings out bread and wine, which are also the communion elements. No reference is made to Melchizedek breaking the bread and drinking the wine, like Jesus did at the Last Supper. 

Melchizedek blesses Abram by the God Most High. Melchizedek describes God Most High as the Possessor of heaven and earth, which means He owns them.  So God is blessing Abram by Himself and blessing Himself by Himself.  Very interesting!

The last part of verse 20 is confusing.  It reads, “And he gave him a tithe of all.”  Did Abram give Melchizedek the tithe, or vice versa?  If it had been me, I would have written it so it would be clear who gave the tithe to whom.  However, in the Hebrews account, it shows that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe, or a tenth, of all the booty he took from the slaughter of the kinds.  I

Now let’s take a look at the Hebrews account about Melchizedek:  

Hebrews 7:1-17 (NKJV):  For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?  For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the Hebrews account, more detail is given about Melchizedek’s background.  The Hebrews account states that Melchizedek is without father, without mother, and without genealogy. This is not true of Jesus.  Jesus has 2 fathers – His earthly father, Joseph and His heavenly Father, God.  He also has a mother (Mary). The Gospels list 2 genealogies for Jesus - one through Joseph, and one through Mary.  Melchizedek is also described as having neither beginning of life or end of life.  God has always been.  He has no beginning or end.  God was before the beginning in Genesis 1:1, which reads, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God had to exist before He could create everything.

The Hebrews account states that Melchizedek is made like the Son of God.  If Melchizedek is made like the Son of God, then how can He be the Son of God?  Human sons often look their fathers.   It also states that Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, but the priests were to come from the tribe of Levi, therefore, the eternal High Priest must be from the order of Melchizedek and not the tribe of Levi.  Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God before Levi was even thought of. 

Jesus, then, comes from Melchizedek's order of priesthood because He is God’s Son and His sacrificial death on the cross rescued sinners who repent from eternal damnation, thus making Him High Priest in heaven. 

There is evidence in the Bible that God does indeed have a human image.  In Genesis 1:26-27, it reads:   "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  "Us" and "Our" here refer to God and His Son Jesus.  If man was created in God's image, then God must look like us humans.  

Another reference to God looking like a human is in Daniel 7:9.  Daniel has a vision of God, and he describes God's appearance as the Ancient of Days: 
"I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;"
After all this discussion, my conclusion is that Melchizedek is God the Father Himself in human form and not Jesus, the Son of God as posited by some theologians.  

Thanks for reading this hopefully not too long winded post!  See you next time! 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I like clouds

I like clouds
And this is why,
I like to see them floating up in the sky,
Big white clouds
In a sky of blue,
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

I like clouds,
I'll tell you why,
I like all their different shapes in the sky
A dog! A ball! Or an angel's wing!
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

I like clouds
I wonder what
It would be like to touch a cloud.
Are they soft? Are they cold?
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

I like dark clouds.
They bring rain
That pings upon my windowpane,
Good things grow from the rain, it's true,
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

I like clouds
The best reason why
Is that Jesus is coming in the sky*
For our heavenly rendezvous,
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

I say, "Jesus,
Is today the day
You come and take your saints away?
And take us to our heavenly home,
To bend our knees at Your Father's throne?"

And when Jesus descends at the Second Coming
Everyone will see Him in the clouds.**

I like clouds
And this is why,
I like to see them floating up in the sky,
Big white clouds
In a sky of blue,
I like clouds; how 'bout you?

Clouds. I like clouds.
That's all!

*1 Thessalonians 4:17 -"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
**Revelation 1:7 - "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen."

Thanks for reading! See you next time!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Have you turned in your RSVP yet?

Jesus taught truths using parables, so I think I can base a blog post on a dream I had.  This dream was very vivid.  I don’t usually remember my dreams, so I thought this dream must have some sort of meaning. 

The dream started out with Mike (my husband) and I going to a friend’s house.  When we got there, our friends were sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper, cooking food, etc.  I urged them to hurry up and get ready or they would be late to the wedding supper, or miss it altogether.  But the wife said, “Go on, we’ll see you there.”

So Mike and I went to the reception hall.  There were round tables with water goblets and china place settings.  There were tall place card holders in the center of the tables with square place cards in them. These place cards had a letter and a number (like L30).  But for some strange reason, we couldn't find the table where we were supposed to sit. 

We went to the maître d’ and asked him to help us find our seats.  He took us to a large, wooden oval shaped table.  It had black edging all the way around it.  There were no place settings and people were crowded around the table.  Pat Neshek of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team was seated at the oval table and he was showing off his baseball card collection, although what this had to do with the rest of the dream, I don’t know.  I turned to Mike and said, “See, I told you that we should have sent our reservation in earlier!”

I was puzzled as to what the dream meant.  I was pondering the dream during worship in church that Sunday and it came to me that the dream represented the wedding supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church. 

My friends in the first part of the dream thought they had plenty of time to get to the wedding supper, i.e., repent of their sins and receive Christ as their Savior.  But only God knows when your last day on Earth will be.  It could be tomorrow, or in the very next minute. Also, the Rapture is imminent – no other prophecies have to come true before the Rapture can occur.

Mike and I went to the reception hall, so it appears we had received Christ.  But we were not seated at the round tables with the rest of the guests.  Perhaps we were carnal Christians and had not grown enough in our faith?  The reason why we were at the oval table was not made clear to me.  We were not cast out of the reception hall; we were just seated in a different location.  Those who reject Christ will be tossed out into the darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 8:12)

When you are invited to a wedding, there is usually a card enclosed with the invitation for you to mail back to the bride (the RSVP card) to let her know how many people in your family will be attending the wedding.  The bride will then total up the number of guests who have indicated on the RSVP cards that they will be attending the wedding.  She will then advise the caterer of the total number of attendees so that the caterer can prepare enough food. 

RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase “Répondez s'il vous plaît,” which translates in English to “respond if it pleases you.”  You have a choice whether or not to attend a wedding. You also have a choice whether or not to repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior.  In order to attend the wedding supper of Christ (Rev. 19:9),  you have to turn in your RSVP card, which means repenting of your sins and receiving Christ as your Savior. You can respond to Jesus' invitation to trust Him for your salvation and to believe in Him if you please, or not.  It's up to you. Jesus has extended the invitation to all who would repent of their sins and receive Him as their Savior (1 Tim. 2:3-4).  I know that I have accepted Jesus' invitation and have put my trust in Him for salvation.  

So if you’re reading this and have not accepted Jesus’ invitation to the wedding feast, why haven’t you?  Time is short.  I would love to be able to hang out with you at the wedding feast.  If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and wish for Him to come into your heart and clean it up and make you a new person on the inside, all you have to do is repent for your sins (or confess that you have sinned). This is called "being born again" or "saved." Here is a simple prayer that you can pray: "Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I need Your forgiveness for my sins. I believe that You died for me on the Cross. Please come into my heart and make me new. I want you to be my Lord and Savior. I give my life totally and completely to You. Thank you for forgiving my sins and making me new."

That's all for now!  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sweet or stinky?

We finished studying the book of Numbers in church on Sundays recently and our pastor talked about the sacrifices that the priests made on the altar. In the Old Testament, the priests burned the sacrifices on the altar, which were atonement for sins, as a sweet aroma to the Lord, and the sweet aroma pleased the Lord. Have you ever stepped outside and smelled the sweet smell of meat cooking on the BBQ grill? The Lord must love barbecue - hopefully, there will be barbecue when we get to heaven!

In the New Testament, Jesus' death was the atonement for our sin. Ephesians 5:2 says, "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." He only had to be sacrificed once for all of mankind's sins, unlike the Old Testament where sacrifices had to be made on a regular basis.Are you thankful for Jesus' sacrifice for your sins?

At the Second Coming, the Jews themselves will be the sweet smelling aroma to the Lord. Ezekiel 20:41 says: "I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles."

We should be a sweet aroma to others as well, if we are truly in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15 and 16 says: "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?" To fellow believers, we are the aroma of life through Jesus. To unbelievers, our sweet aroma reminds them that they are headed for hell unless they repent of their sins. To be a sweet aroma to others, we should walk in love, as referenced in the Ephesians verse above. We should be kind to one another helping and supporting each other, and respecting others. We should sacrifice ourselves for others.

The opposite of sweet is stinky. When we don't walk in love, we are angry, bitter and unloving. We don't care about others; we only care about ourselves. As believers, we don't want to be a stinky aroma to others. So take a look at yourself - are you a sweet or stinky aroma to others?

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!