Thoughts in Quarantine

Symptoms, side effects, diagnosis, prognosis and the like. These are words we have become even more familiar with, since the global pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China swept across the world. Yet, these are words that are somewhat known and experienced prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Perhaps, the word that has been most update in our modern vernacular is that of “quarantine”

The word, “quarantine” has it’s etymology in the French for “forty” indicating a forty day period. Ironically, it was first used as a sailors term for the period a vessel must sit at anchor before landing during the Middle Ages. Thankfully, as we use this term in our modern vernacular, we are not issuing forty days of isolation, because to be quite honest, seven, ten or fourteen days (depending on the doctor and situation) is plenty!

Recently, my family was instructed to “quarantine” for seven days because our daughter exhibited symptoms of Covid-19. All plans for the next several days came to a screeching halt. Meetings with staff and committees moved to an online platform and the routine of life was disrupted. So, what are we to do in a situation such as this?

I must admit, that I was, at first disappointed. I had many plans and meetings scheduled. I needed to meet with staff and we were in the middle of planning a community-wide event, that would have been much easier to sit down and plan in person. I felt somewhat claustrophobic for a moment, especially thinking that as Sunday approached, I would not be able to stand and proclaim the Word. I almost felt caged in like a bird, not to mention, being very concerned and hoping that my daughter would not have a severe case of the virus. Also, that the rest of my family would stay healthy. Somewhat at a loss, I began to think, what am I going to do. It was in this moment that an account in Scripture struck me. Examine the two verses below…

Acts 28:16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

Acts 28:30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him,

The context for these two verses of Scripture is Paul’s Roman imprisonment. After completing his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem where he was arrested and later sent to Caesarea Maritima. From here, he was sent to appeal to Caesar in Rome, where he was on house arrest for two years.

I pondered this event in the life of the Apostle Paul. I imagined I was in his place, quarantined in a way, in his own rented quarters. I imagined, as some theologians have presented, that he was chained to a Roman soldier twenty four hours a day. He was confined to the four walls that surrounded him. Yet, as my imagination ran rampant, my memory could not recall a single verse of Scripture in which Paul complained, gave up or stopped ministering.

I am confident that if he had his rathers, he would have rathered continuing on to the local synagogue to preach or to turn to the Gentiles where he would plant a church and disciple new believers. The truth, however, is he was confined to his geographical point with out negotiation. Yet, there is not a word of complaint, discouragement or defeat.

What the Holy Spirit vividly painted across the canvas of my mind is the scenes of four books found in the pages of the New Testament, namely, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. These four books rest among an elite class of Scripture commonly called The Prison Epistles. Can you guess why they are given such a name? That’s right, they were written while Paul was in prison in Rome.

If you read through the pages of these prolific books you would never get even a hint that Paul wrote these in prison, chained to a Roman solider, confined to the four walls that surrounded him. Just let the verses below wash over you, as they did me…

Philippians 1:3-7 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

How amazing are these submissions by Paul the Apostle? He was able to find ways to minister, proclaim the Gospel and be used by God even while he was “quarantined” as a prisoner of Rome! Is your fire lit like mine is as you ponder this thought? Transparency pushes me to confess that I was a little weary of what I would be able to accomplish for the Gospel and the church while I am on lockdown. The reality, however, is that I have made greater progress these past several days that ever before. Planning, preparing, meeting, studying, reading, praying, worshipping and seeking the Lord has all been a part of my day.

I have been able to reach out to people, pray with them, check on them and minister to them, even though I am confined to the walls of my home. I have been able to succeed at being a husband, dad, pastor and friend. If I had my rathers, much like Paul I would rather be out and about, but for this moment I am making the choice to rejoice and to press on.

We could end the story here and it would be encouraging, but there is more. You see, Paul, as he stated to the Philippians in 4:11b …learned to be content in whatever circumstances… Yet, while he was confined, he was not truly alone. Spiritually speaking, we know he had the presence of the Holy Spirit residing with him and within him as he penned the sacred writ of Scripture. Yet, he also had a vast company of people that ministered to him. Examine these as just a few…

Philippians 4:18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

1 Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acts 27:1-2 When it was decided that we (Luke) would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.

All of the bold faced names above are those who served alongside Paul as a team for the sake of the Gospel. In some way, whether being in Rome in person, or by correspondence, these dear people were co-laborers with Paul. These are but a few. You could add to this list the names Tychicus, Onesimus, Philemon, Mark, Epaphras and more. All of these were connected to Paul in ministry and while he could not continue on journeys, he was still able to make an impact.

In fact, if you want to know what kind of impact he made in the area around him, meditate on the following passage.

Philippians 1:13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,

Philippians 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

Paul became so impactful that he was able to win many in the praetorian guard to Christ and even some of those within Caesar’s household. Talk about being bold for the Gospel! Paul did not allow confinement to stop him. He was willing to make the most of what he had around him. He did not do that alone however. I also know that I have not been successful on my own . I am so thankful for the team of staff God has surrounded me with at First Baptist Church Richmond. Also, the team leaders of committees, members and friends who have pushed care back my way.

It is with this conviction that my thoughts in quarantine have developed. Thankfully, my daughter’s conditions are improving, and prayerfully she will be back to 100% in a couple of more days, but I have learned some valuable lessons of being content in whatever circumstances I am in. Let us press on together!

Beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb

The final week of the life of Jesus comprises roughly one-third of the Gospel records. The Holy Spirit provokes each Gospel writer, from their unique vantage point to enhance the amount of detail given about what occurred those final days in and around Jerusalem. From Friday to Sunday were in particularly eventful to say the least.

Not only were there the uprising of a Jewish population demanding action from the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, there were also many natural phenomenon’s that surely had to capture the attention of all who were present. Matthew, Mark and Luke all write that when Jesus was on the Cross that from the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness covered the whole land. Each Gospel writer seems to present that the wrath of God eclipsed the noon-day sun ushering in a physical darkness to match the spiritual darkness that was at war.

Golgotha (Gordon’s Calvary)

In addition, there was an earthquake that shook Jerusalem with impeccable timing that correlated with the final saying of Jesus upon the Cross, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” It must have been inexplicable for those present to describe the darkness from noon until three o’clock in the afternoon, matched with the violent earthquake that rent the veil of the Temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Even more, Matthew tells us in his record of the events,

“The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53 NASB)

Of course, the apex of all that occurred found its climax with the empty tomb as Jesus proved He would conquer death, hell and the grave.

Each of the Gospel writers close with a triumphant account of Jesus being seen, heard and touched after the glorious Resurrection! Today, we still celebrate, as we should, the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Yet, is that the end of the story? Is this the end of the celebration? Are we to go on with our lives, but with greater joy knowing that Jesus has risen?

Pictured above is the church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb

Matthew shares in his writing an appendage to the Resurrection by sharing of a gathering of the disciples on the Mount of Olives. There Jesus will enlist them to “Go” and make disciples in the Great Commission passage. Mark closes in a similar way adding that Jesus’ disciples are to preach the Gospel to all of creation. John brings his record to a close by unveiling that there are an innumerable amount of things that Jesus did that were not recorded. Yet, Luke has much more to say.

Luke closes his Gospel record with a final conversation between Jesus and His disciples that is paramount. He shares that Jesus instructs them (the disciples) to remain in Jerusalem. There is no timeline that Jesus gives, except that they are to remain there until they are clothed with power from on high. In essence, Luke ends with a climatic statement with a spiritual “to be continued”. In fact, that is exactly what it is!

It is here that we grow in curiosity of what happened beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb. It is here that we must progress forward with zeal and interests to see what Dr. Luke must share. To unveil this sequel, we must break open the book of Acts.

Luke inaugurates this sequel to the life of Christ by sharing with the recipient of the letter, a man by the name of Theophilus this insight:

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2 NASB)

Luke immediately reveals that this letter, which has been titled “The Book of Acts” is an unveiling of what happened beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Luke voices that there is more to the story. There is more that we have to celebrate and there is more that we have to know.

Dr. Luke reveals that after the Cross and the Empty Tomb, “ He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3 NASB)

The story of the Resurrection stretches far beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Luke tells us that Jesus remained on the earth for the span of forty days. He presented Himself “ALIVE” by many convincing proofs. The Greek word that is used is “τεκμηριον”. The King James Version translates this as many, “infallible proofs”. In other words, Jesus revealed Himself to be bodily resurrected in such a way that it could not be disputed.

Later on, Paul the Apostle would recount this truth to the church at Corinth by saying,

“and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” (1st Corinthians 15:5-8)

With this submission we see that the Resurrection of Jesus has purpose beyond the knowledge that the event happened. Jesus’ Resurrection was only the beginning of our celebration and hope. Luke would go on to tell us that after these forty days, Jesus would ascend to heaven and be seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. Here, He is making intercession for us. His Resurrection gives Him all authority to represent God to humanity and humanity to God. He is the God-Man even in eternity.

Pause for just a moment and think of how deep this statement is that Paul writes to Timothy, his young protégé. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” (1st Timothy 2:5 NASB)

In other words, there was a time when God the Son had not taken on humanity. Prior to Bethlehem, God the Son reigned with the Father without having a human nature, yet now and forever, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father serving as the mediator between God and man, as THE MAN CHRIST JESUS! This is worthy rejoicing about! The Resurrection of Jesus stretches beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb all the way to Heaven where Jesus is our mediator.

Still yet, there is more. The Resurrection and then the ascension of Jesus now affords us the opportunity to be empowered by the Third-Person of the Godhead, The Holy Spirit. He has now come, as recorded in Acts chapter two, to empower us to fulfill the mission Jesus has assigned us in being His witnesses. Presently, we have the privilege to live in an age where the Holy Spirit leads, teaches and fills us to do the work God has set before us. This was made possible by the vicarious suffering of the cross, the physical death of Christ and the glorious Resurrection revealed by the Empty Tomb. All of this shows that there is celebration even beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

Finally, beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb is the hope that we have in the form of a promise. Between the events of the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday evening of Passion Week, Jesus shared with His disciples that He was going to go and prepare for them a place in His Father’s house. When He is finished, He will come again and take them to be with Him there.

The picture is that of a Jewish wedding. The groom would prepare a room addition on to his father’s house and when he was finished, he would go to the bride’s home where they would be married. Then, the week-long wedding reception would take place at his father’s house. This is the hope Jesus gave His disciples and it is the hope we have today. Beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb, we too have this promise that He will return for us, His bride, the Church and take us where He is for all eternity.

So why share all of this? It is because today is the day after Easter. Today is the day after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today, we are back to the grind of another day. Yet, be reminded that the Resurrection of Jesus stretched beyond the day we celebrate the empty tomb. Insomuch, that we have set aside every Sunday to remind us as we worship of what the Empty Tomb means. I challenge you on this day after Resurrection Sunday, to celebrate the hope we have that stretches beyond the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Let us press on because He is Risen…Forevermore!

The World in Crisis – COVID -19

According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine center, presently, as I write, there are 127,863 confirmed cases of the heinous Coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, COVID-19 has claimed 4,718 lives globally. Yet, we must not forget that there have been 68,310 who have recovered from COVID-19.

By far, the highest concentration of this dreaded virus still centers in China with a present count of 80,932 cases. Yet again, to put into perspective the reality of this pandemic, we must realize that there have already been 50,318 who have recovered in China.

I share all of this to say that we must be careful in how we respond to this present global crisis. Every life is precious, and we must not throw caution to the wind, but we must also not allow fear and hysteria to grip us and dictate how we respond.

At the moment, the primary recommendation seems to be that of quarantine. Amid the modern medical movement, it is incredible that the method implemented to stop the spread of a global virus is an ancient prescription found in the Bible. It can be found in the book of Leviticus 13:45-46 which reads,

Leviticus 13:45-46″As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”(Emphasis mine) (NASB)

God prescribed quarantine in the Old Testament Law for those who were infected with leprosy. While they did not understand microbiology in the day of Moses, they could observe the fact of leprosy being contagious. Thus, by instituting quarantine, they could isolate those who had it and stop the spread.

In 1873 a physician by the name of Dr. Armauer Hansen discovered the reality of why Leviticus 13:45-46 was the viable option to keep leprosy from spreading. He looked through a microscope at a slide from a patient who had contracted leprosy, and there he saw tiny red dots of leprosy bacteria. Later it was learned that leprosy bacteria could live in the nose, and a simple sneeze could spread to all of those around the ailing person.

Three thousand five hundred years after God prescribed the Old Testament Law to Moses and the Israelites, the medical science behind its brilliance was discovered by man. So, there is no wonder why quarantine is recommended today for the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a contagion that must not be overlooked, but also that must not provoke overreacting.

Two extremes seem to be prevailing among current reactions to COVID-19. First, there are those who succumb to the extreme of complete panic and hysteria, where fear provokes drastic measures of stockpiling. The other extreme is the complete disregard for caution and thoughtful preparation. This should not be surprising to us because this seems to be the reaction of humanity in every epoch and era of time.

So, how should one respond to such a global crisis that has impacted daily life and saturated the media? While I do not claim to have any great wisdom or medical knowledge that would or should be exalted above those we hear, I do want to offer a few thoughts that perhaps will help bring balance to the reactions we presently are observing.

Let me begin simply by saying that my personal approach to this pandemic has been to be cautious and careful but not fearful. I do not want to allow fear to captivate my mind and provoke me to think more of this than I should. On the other hand, I do not want to react with carelessness, as if this has not gripped the world.

As I evaluate what I read, hear, and receive about COVID-19, I am attentive to the fact of the fragility of life. While medicine has given us great stride in health and vitality, the reality is that God is still the one in whom we live and move and have our being. None of this is happening without God knowing; however, perhaps what we are realizing is just how weak we are as humanity. Perhaps, we must pause to remember that God is Creator and Sustainer and that we cannot move forward without Him.

I think what grieves me the most concerning this present predicament is the eternity at stake. Nearly three-quarters of all deaths thus far are represented in China. While I know there has been a thriving revival in the country; I know that the vast majority is still plagued with lostness. I wonder of what percentage of those who have died slipped out into eternity without Christ. This is where the pandemic of COVID-19 is brought into perspective for me. We must have a renewed sense of urgency for the sake of people’s eternity. We must pray for those who will become infected, die, and be ushered into eternity without Christ. We must be willing, where we are, to have an urgency to tell others that this life is temporal. We will all die one way or another, but after this is the judgment. So, we must put the Gospel at the forefront!

While I am an avid sports fan and I struggle to gain insight into all of the decision making of canceling games, events, and activities, I think that the more important subject of the day is the fact that life is fragile and the Gospel is needed. While we struggle with a virus that impacts the physical body, let us not forget about the disease that plagues the soul, sin. Let us be reminded as doctors strive to produce a vaccine that will help with COVID-19 that we already have a cure for sin; His name is Jesus!

In the words of another, “Life is short, death is sure; sin the cause, Christ the cure.” Soli Deo Gloria!

-Dr. Travis W. Farris

Is faith blind?

Is Faith Blind?
In every era, faith is put on trial and a verdict is demanded. Perhaps the most noted accusation against faith is that it is blind. By this, the accuser is suggesting that faith is contrary to reason and logic, that faith cannot be supported or proven. Therefore, since faith cannot be qualified by any measurable terms, those who say they have faith have no argument, thus they must only have “blind faith”. Yet, is that true? Is faith guilty of being blind?
H.L. Mencken, an American journalist in the 20th century, defined faith as “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible”. It would seem that he agrees that faith is guilty of being blind. Furthermore, Richard Dawkins, one of the elite atheists of our day, wrote a book called God Delusion. In it, he claims faith opposes reason and he called faith a delusion. He describes faith as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.
So, is faith blind? Is faith a delusion? Perhaps the problem is a definition of terms. There is a vast difference between blind faith and biblical faith. Blind faith is faith in faith. Biblical faith is faith in God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Biblical faith is when faith and reason come together as partners. David Horner, a professor of philosophy, says “Faith and reason are friends and partners. They go together. They need each other and cannot flourish or even survive apart. Our faith should be a reasonable faith, and our reason should be a faithful reason…”
Biblical faith is greatly different from blind faith. Biblical faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 by stating, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (NASB) The word “assurance” could be translated as concrete, substance or confidence. The word “hoped” could be translated as fixed or expected. The word “conviction” could also be translated as proof or evidence. Realizing these multiple translations help us to see that faith is not blind. In fact, it sees so clearly that it can even see the invisible!
Realizing that faith is not blind allows us to “know” and “show” truth to a world prone to skepticism. During the infamous Age of Reason, Renee Descartes uttered his renowned statement, “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”). From his submission has risen an entire school of thought called “Cartesian Doubt”. In this school of thought, pupils are taught to question and doubt everything.
The reality is that this can be a healthy exercise, so long as reason does not become blind like faith is for some. By this, I mean that sometimes those who cling to reason and logic become blind when the supernatural occurs. This is the same response as those who have blind faith when reason and logic are introduced. Faith and reason are not contrary to one another, instead, they complement one another. Each helps the other to see clearly so that there is neither blind faith nor blind reason.
Accepting the truth, we come to the realization that the Holy Spirit helps us with knowing truth. Argument and evidence help us with showing the truth. The Holy Spirit aids our “knowing”; argument and evidence aid our “showing”. The atheists and evolutionists wring their hands striving to find the “missing link” that holds their universe together, while the Christian can clap his hands in praise of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Finally, we come to one final thought concerning the subject of faith. How is it possible for there to be such a cataclysmic difference in understanding between those who exercise faith and those who embrace reason? The answer to this question, in my estimation, is an argument of evidence versus circumstance.
The truth is that both the creationist and the evolutionist have the same evidence to work with, yet they have a different outcome. How is this possible? It is because of perspective and prejudice based on circumstance. I have discovered that most people who reject faith have done so because of a perspective or prejudice they have developed due to an issue in life. It could have been the circumstance of the death of a loved one, a disease or a traumatic experience. For others, it is a circumstance of pride that puffs up intellect beyond reason.
On the other hand, some claim faith but their faith is blind. In essence, they have faith in faith. They reject reason at the sake of their faith being blind. To those this applies to, I challenge you to remember that Jesus shared in the Great Commandment that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, MIND and strength. (emphasis mine)
To love God with all our mind means to love God with all our intellectual capacity. We must not have blind faith; instead, we must have biblical faith. We must have confidence that the God of creation is able to marry faith and reason without contradiction.
Is faith blind? It doesn’t have to be. Biblical faith sees so clearly, it can even see the invisible!

Dr. Travis W. Farris

How To Start A Fire With Wet Wood

“Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.” ( 1 Kings 18:37-39 NASB)

Along the Mediterranean coastline of Israel to the north, there is a parcel of land that jettisons out into the sea. From an aerial view, it makes a thumb-like figure in the silhouette of Israel’s border. This unique geographical idiosyncrasy makes up the biblical location of Mt. Carmel.

When you observe the coastline, Mt. Carmel breaks up the monotony of Israel’s coastline. It also brought about a major change in the spiritual monotony Israel experienced during the days of Elijah.

It was upon this mountain that Elijah revealed a phenomenon of starting a fire with wet wood that would spark a revival in the lives of God’s people. For several years the children of Israel succumb to chasing after the world’s god, Baal. He appealed to them and was attractive to worship because he was thought to bring fertility to the land and to their families.

Strangely, he (Baal) was the opposite of what the Israelites had understood about Yahweh because He had been associated with the desert. You can see why a god like Baal was appealing if you had been associated with the Desert God, Yahweh. It also made sense because where Baal was being served was located in the lush green area of Galilee.

The temptation to follow such a god like Baal overtook Israel as they began to give in to the seduction of this Canaanite god. Little did they know, that God would prove to them who really provided the rain. So, God sent Elijah to rebuke King Ahab and to reveal that it would not rain for what would ultimately become the space of 3 1/2 years.

It would ultimately be upon Mt. Carmel that Elijah, God’s man would contend with the prophets of Baal. The contest would prove who is truly the God that can provide life. Elijah was a gentleman and allowed the prophets of Baal to cry out first according to 1st Kings 18, but he would then exploit their ignorance and powerlessness by proving the power of God.

Elijah upon Mt. Carmel taught the Canaanites and the Israelites how to start a fire with wet wood. We, perhaps, could learn this lesson as well in a day of spiritual drought and desperate need for revival.

3 Ingredients Needed to Start a Fire with Wet Wood.

  1. Ingredient #1 – Fiery Faith
    1. According to 1st Kings 18:21-24 Elijah had a fiery faith to challenge the prophets of Baal. He had faith to believe first that Baal would fail. He then had bold faith to believe God would succeed.
  2. Ingredient #2 – Fervent Prayer
    1. We then see that Elijah prayed a fervent prayer to God in faith. We read in 1st Kings 18:36-37
      1. At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
  3. Ingredient #3 – Flaming Obedience
    1. Finally, in 1st Kings 18:36b we observe Elijah’s obedience, ” …today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word.” (Emphasis mine)

I am persuaded that if we are going to experience a revival like Elijah and see the presence of God fall in our lives we must indeed have these three ingredients. So, let us press on and let the fire fall!

The Seven Deadly Sins

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers. (Emphasis mine) ( Proverbs 6:16-19 NASB)

In the region of Samaria, there are two mountains that tower upward toward heaven. If you are looking to the east Mt. Ebal would rises 3,083 feet above sea level to your left, while to your right stands Mt. Gerizim stretching 2,889 feet above sea level (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.)

The significance of these two towering mountains is both historical and spiritual. They are separated at their peeks by more than a mile and a half, while their bases are but five hundred yards apart. The natural lay of the land, as a result, produces the effects of an amphitheater. This proves important because upon these mountains is where Joshua shared with the Israelites the “blessing” and “curse” according to Moses.

The blessing would be proclaimed from Mt. Gerizim, while the curse would be proclaimed from Mt. Ebal. The message God gave Moses to share in Deuteronomy 30 revealed that God had set before His people blessing and curse, life and death. The encouragement was to CHOOSE LIFE!

While the context of this event may be different than the present topic of discussion in our nation, the exhortation is the same. Life is precious in the eyes of God, who is, after all, the Creator of life. The One who is the Lifegiver has declared that He has created us imago dei, in His own image.

Yet, there are many who advocate today for abortion, which results in the slaughter of millions of innocent lives. This choice that is presumed is a freedom that was never theirs in the first place. God is the author of life, not man. Many instances to support abortion have been offered. Evaluate for yourself these examples someone before me has shared:


A preacher and his wife are poor. They already have 14 kids. Now she finds out she’s pregnant with her 15th. They’re living in tremendous poverty. Considering their poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending she get an abortion?

  • Now, this is a reasonable consideration since statistics show that 66% of people who have an abortion say it is because they cannot afford a child.

Health Risk

The father is sick with sniffles, the mother has TB. They have 4 children. The 1st is blind, the 2nd is dead, the 3rd is deaf and the 4th has TB. She finds out she’s pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you consider recommending abortion?

  • This is considerable because 4% have had doctors say that the mother’s health may be adversely affected
  • C. Everett Koop, M.D., formerly the Surgeon General, stated that during his 35-plus years of practicing medicine, “Never once did a case come across my practice where abortion was necessary to save a mother’s life.” 


A white man raped a 13-year-old black girl and she becomes pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending abortion?

  • This comprises about 1% of all abortions


A teenage girl is pregnant. She’s not married but engaged, however, her fiancée is not the father of the baby, and he’s very upset. Would you consider recommending abortion?

  • Now, this is one that is particularly disturbing. On the home page of planned parenthood, there is the message that state, “Accidents Happen.” If you are under 18, your state may require one or both of your parents to give permission for your abortion or be told of your decision prior to the abortion. However, in most states, you can ask a judge to excuse you from these requirements.

It is important for you to know that each of these examples is real-life situations that have occurred. If you chose yes to any of these examples it is important for you to know how you have changed history.

  1. In the first case, you have just killed John Wesley. One of the great evangelists of the 19th century.
  2. In the second case, you have killed Beethoven.
  3. In the third case, you have killed Ethel Waters, the great black gospel singer.
  4. If you said “yes” to the fourth case, you have just murdered Jesus.

Mark A. Hassler, “Ebal, Mount,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Pressing on…our mission!

The Gates of Hell (Pagan Belief) at Caesarea Philippi

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 NASB)

It is no coincidence that Jesus asked the question, “Who do people say that the Son of man is?” at the specific location of Caesarea Philippi. This strategic location was a worship center in the land of Israel during the days of Jesus.

It was here that there was pagan worship of the Greek god of the wild, Pan. This was also the location of worship of Baal, as well as, the place where Herod built a temple to worship Caesar August (emperor worship).

It was in this location of diverse worship that Jesus asked His disciples who “people” or society said He was among the many gods of that day. Their reply was noble but not accurate. Some said He was John the Baptist, which was a man revered as a prophet. Others said He was Jeremiah, Elijah or one of the other prophets, again a noble gesture, yet inaccurate. In other words, He was just another prophet, man or rabbi.

In turn, Jesus responds with a probing question to His disciples, “But who do YOU say that I am?” (Emphasis Mine). In this text, the “YOU” is plural, indicating He is asking the entire group, who they testify that He is. Peter, as the spokesperson, then replies that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

This admission of Jesus’ identity becomes a monumental event in the Christian faith because Jesus then reveals the reality of the ecclesia, the Church! This is the first time the concept of the church had even been mentioned. The disciples knew and understood the idea of the Congregation of Israel, but this concept of the “called out” church was unheard of.

This new word, ecclesia, (church) would be used 112 more times throughout the pages of the New Testament. Yet, here is where it was initiated and in turn, Jesus proclaimed that He would build His church and the gates of Hades would not prevail against.

It is yet again not a coincidence that Jesus made this statement in this location. It was in this same location that pagans had built temples at the entrance of a cave that was said to be “The Gates of Hell”.

There is a lesson to be learned from this event in biblical history. Jesus had made a proclamation that He would build His church and that nothing would prevent it from accomplishing His perfect purpose. Now, nearly two millenniums later, the church is still moving forward. We have a mission and we must not lose hope, so, LET US PRESS ON!