Bio

Dr. Mike Halsey is the chancellor of Grace Biblical Seminary, a Bible teacher at the Hangar Bible Fellowship, the author of Truthspeak and his new book, The Gospel of Grace and Truth: A Theology of Grace from the Gospel of John," both available on Amazon.com. A copy of his book, Microbes in the Bloodstream of the Church, is also available as an E-book on Amazon.com. If you would like to a receive a copy of his weekly Bible studies and other articles of biblical teaching and application, you can do so by writing to Dr. Halsey at michaeldhalsey@bellsouth.net and requesting, "The Hangar Bible Fellowship Journal."

Comments may be addressed to michaeldhalsey@bellsouth.net.

If you would like to contribute to his ministry according to the principle of II Corinthians 9:7, you may do so by making your check out to Hangar Bible Fellowship and mailing it to 65 Teal Ct., Locust Grove, GA 30248. All donations are tax deductible.

Come visit the Hangar some Sunday at 10 AM at the above address. You'll be glad you did.

Other recommended grace-oriented websites are:

notbyworks.org
literaltruth.org
gracebiblicalseminary.org
duluthbible.org
clarityministries.org

Also:

Biblical Ministries, Inc.
C/O Dr. Richard Grubbs
P. O. Box 64582
Lubbock, TX 79464-4582

Friday, May 26, 2017

THE SAFE SPACE

There are those who expect colleges and universities to provide something called a "safe space." By the use of the word, "safe," our minds think the term refers to physical safety, but if that's the case, we are oh, so wrong.

WHAT'S A SAFE SPACE?

A safe space is a geographical location on campus where students can feel safe ideologically, emotionally, and good all the time. A safe space is a bubble which insulates students from the views of people who are different, ideas which upset them. The location provides psychological  protection. Brown University provides a safe space with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of puppies. These items are for students, ages 18 and beyond.

An uncomfortable idea could be anything, written or oral, such as an argument against abortion, an informal conversation which expresses the view that the federal government should not be involved in health care. Words written on a sidewalk with chalk in support of a candidate for office may so upset a student they drive him or her to a safe space. One student, upon hearing her professor say,"I'm against abortion, but it is permitted under the law," became upset; she began to cry and fled the classroom.*

A safe space is the result of the idea that people have the right to absolute emotional comfort at all times. Is that "right" in the Constitution somewhere? James Madison would say, "No, we didn't put it there."

Once in a safe space, no one will express an idea which offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable. In a safe space, there's no debate, no arguing to defend your position, and no exchange of viewpoints. In the words of academia, there's no one in a safe space to trigger you.

NO BUBBLE FOR THE BELIEVER

But for the Christian living in the Kosmos, the world arranged by Satan to leave God out, there's no such thing as a safe space. Jesus didn't provide us with one. As a matter of fact, He deliberately commanded us not to try to live in one, isolated from those who hold different viewpoints. Monasteries and nunneries weren't His idea.

When did Jesus command us not to live in a bubble? (Glad you asked.) He did so in one of the most famous statements He made, one inscribed in our churches all over the world--the Great Commission,which literally says: "After you have gone (aorist participle) disciple all the nations . . .," It has the force of a command. So, then, we're to go to the nations and nations certainly have different opinions than we do.

By saying, "After you have gone," (with the force of a command) Jesus is telling us to deliberately go out of our way into areas where we confront different viewpoints. That doesn't sound like a safe space, does it?

BUT I WANT MY BUBBLE

Yet, there's the tendency to construct our Christian safe spaces. How so? If you don't want to go to a gym where there are unbelievers, there are Christian aerobics and weightlifting classes in our churches and on video. If you don't want to play on a team in which a non-Christian might be the  pitcher,  the center, or the coach, there are church softball and basketball leagues. There are cafes and bowling alleys for church people only.

If you feel like you're missing out on all the fun, in Illinois, there's a Christian night club, called "Club Jesus" where you can dance and drink non-alcoholic beverages called, "Repentance," "Faith,"and "Virgin Mary." While enjoying your glass of Repentance, you can listen to rap, jazz, and poetry. (The club is somehow justified by Ecclesiastes 3:1, and from that verse, the owner of the Jesus Club says, "God wants us to have fun.")

But, getting back to the safe spaces, Jesus didn't build one for us. He sends us out into the Kosmos of clashing viewpoints, all of which leave God out. He commands us to go into places where they don't understand us. He sends us into locations where people hate us. He propels us out where people think we're fools and what we're saying is foolishness.

The book of Acts contains one example after another of the Apostles and those early day Christians deliberately placing themselves with people who clashed over and over with them. Like the Sower in the parable, obeying the Great Commission doesn't just happen accidentally, the planting of the seed is deliberate.
_______________________________________________________________________________
*The professor was giving an example to the class of how we may disagree with a law, but we're to obey it. The student went to the dean; the teacher was dismissed.

Friday, May 19, 2017

HILLARY'S BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

During the recent (and seemingly eternal) presidential campaign, one frustrated and possibly exhausted candidate called half of those voting for her opponent, "a basket of deplorables."

That remark will go down in history as one of the worst statements ever uttered by a politician, ranking right up there with, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," and, "That all depends on what the meaning of 'is,' is," and, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

It's not a smooth move to call those who legitimately have a disagreement with you, "a basket of deplorables," when you're looking for votes. Millions of people saw that statement as a revelation of an arrogant and superior attitude, and, in a politician, or anyone else, that's a turn-off.

BUT YET WE . . .

But yet, haven't we been victimized by a misunderstanding of a text that causes us to reflect the same arrogant attitude as the doomed candidate? We're talking about a misunderstanding of Matthew 7:1-6:

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how [b]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

In the above text, the subject is misunderstood to be that of judging others. This misunderstanding leads us into the fallacy of multiculturalism and relativism in which no one is to think, say, or believe that there is right and there is wrong, that we aren't condemn any belief or practice as "wrong" because absolute right and wrong do not exist. That would be "judging."

Not only that, but the common misunderstanding of verse 6 leads us to violate the principle of grace and conflicts with the Parable of the Sower. Matthew 7:1-6 is erroneously presented as stating that there are those who are "dogs" and "swine," the deplorables who aren't worthy to hear the gospel ("that which is holy" and "your pearls") because they will attack, ridicule, and abuse the one who gives it to them, and should never have had it given to them in the first place. The result is, the misunderstanding says, that you've got to judge who's a dog and whose a swine before you speak to them about the gospel, lest they turn and attack you.

Back when John Wycliffe was translating the Bible into English, the Roman Catholic hierarchy condemned him by citing Matthew 7:6, declaring, "By this translation, the Scriptures have become vulgar, and they are more available to lay, and even to women who can read, than they were to learned scholars, who have a high intelligence. So the pearl of the gospel is scattered and trodden underfoot by swine."

Is that what Jesus is saying? The misconstruing of the text has it contradicting itself, that is, telling us not to judge, then telling us to decide who's a dog and who's a swine. That doesn't make sense, does it?

According to this misinterpretation, we're told to evaluate a person before we witness to him: is he a dog? is he a swine? If so, don't give "that which is holy, the pearls, to him."

ENTER THE SOWER

But this interpretation also has another problem: it contradicts the Parable of the Sower in which the Planter is generous with the seed (the gospel--Luke 8:12); he throws it everywhere--on the beaten path and on three other types of soil. And (very important!) the generous Sower doesn't evaluate the soils on which He throws the seed. He just throws it all over the place without discrimination. The Sower never considers who's worthy and who's not, the Sower never disqualifies anyone, to do so would violate grace.

SO WHAT'S GOING ON IN MATTHEW 7:1-6?

The misunderstanding occurs because verse 6 is ripped from verses 1-5. The context is that Jesus tells the disciples, "Judge not that you be not judged" (verse 1). Then, in verses 2-6, He explains the command.

We can't live without making judgments, scores of them everyday. We judge whether something is right or wrong. In John 7:24, Jesus commands the disciples to "judge a righteous judgment." In I Corinthians 14:29, the church is to judge whether a speaker has presented true or false doctrine.

Jesus isn't talking about "judging;" He's discussing a particular kind of judging--one that's hypocritical (remove the beam in your own eye) and judging someone over trivial matters (the splinter the other person's eye.)

SANCTIFIED SARCASM

To understand what He's teaching us is to realize that He's explaining why we shouldn't judge people over trivial matters and hypocritically. And, He uses sarcasm to do so.

Jesus is saying, "Don't judge hypocritically and over trivial matters. Don't give [what you consider to be] your "holy" advice, do not give what ]you consider to be] your "pearls," to [those you consider to be] dogs and swine, because they will turn on you and retaliate. Therefore, "judge not [hypocritically and over trivial matters] that you be not judged" [in the same way you're judging them.] Therefore, we see that verse 6 is tied directly back into verse 1. Verse 1 commands, "Don't judge so that you won't be judged." Verse summarizes, "lest they [those you are judging' turn on you and judge you in the same way."

BE GENEROUS

With that understanding, the Parable of the Sower isn't in conflict with Matthew 7. But, there's more: just as the Sower [Christ] is generous with the gospel, just as He doesn't prejudge the soils, so are we to be.

This parable forces us to examine ourselves, and is therefore convicting, isn't it? Am I generous with the gospel? Am I discriminating against someone because I've judged him to be in a basket of deplorables and therefore unworthy to hear it?" We're all unworthy to hear the gospel, but in grace the Sower casts it everywhere. We can easily fall into the trap of being selfish with the gospel by telling ourselves, "He's wouldn't be interested." "He'd just reject it."

Be generous.  Give a tract to the repairman who comes to your home, along with a "Thank you" for coming. Leave a tract for the waiter with a compliment for good service written on the back. Create opportunities to cast the seed everywhere like the Sower did.

Jesus cast the seed toward the immoral, the adulterer, the religious, those that society shunned, the rich, the poor, the hostile, the disinterested, the young and the old. He sat by their wells and at their dinner tables. He invited them to come to Him and He went to them.

He is THE generous Planter.




Friday, May 12, 2017

THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY READ

This is encouraging!

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (John 11:25-26 KJV)

Those words are on a plaque inside Washington's Tomb on Mt. Vernon. I've seen them, but up until that time two years ago, I never knew they were there. (Um . . . has something been blocked from my education? Why was I never told?)

I got to wondering, "Who else has seen those words on that plaque in the tomb of one of the greatest men in American or world history?" Who's read that text from the Gospel of John inscribed at Mt. Vernon.

In 1860, all the members of Congress gathered at Mt. Vernon at the tomb, so they read it.

On October 5 of that same year, President James Buchanan and the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the British press read the words.

Jumping to 1916, inventor Thomas Edison came to the tomb and saw the plaque.

Then a "first" occurred: in 1939, King George VI became the first ruling British monarch to come to America made it a point to go to Mt. Vernon, so he read the verses.

Then, from that great year of 1942, there's a picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill standing in front of the tomb and the plaque with the verses is visible behind them.

Then, another first: in 1943, it was the first time that a Chinese national addressed the Congress, as well as the first time the body had been addressed by a private citizen. Additionally, she was just the second woman to address both houses of the American Congress--she was Madame Chiang Kai-shek and her visit to the tomb on February 22, 1943, occurred on George Washington’s 211th birthday.

In 1944, Charles de Gaulle came from France and made his pilgrimage to the tomb. Although not a household name today, Saudi Crown Prince Amir Saud visited in 1947.

President and Mrs. George Bush went to Mt. Vernon in 2007 and in 2015 Charles, Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall paid their tributes to Washington.

As far as I know, none of the above rich, famous, and powerful remarked on the text from John 11. If they did, their thoughts weren't recorded for posterity.

Then, of course, there are the people like you and me, the average folks, who've been there and taken off their hats and caps to the great man and read Jesus' words on the plaque.

It's encouraging to read of those who've read Jesus' promise at Mt. Vernon. I wonder about the small and the great who've been there: did they think about those words? Did those words trigger them to search the Scriptures. Who knows? 

But one thing we do know: one day, we'll all be standing before the One who spoke them. There will be those who heeded His words and trusted Him and what He said (II Cor. 5:10) and then later, those who didn't.

Like John said, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne . . . (Revelation 20:12).

Friday, May 5, 2017

WHAT WE GOT HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE

That line, spoken by the villain Strother Martin, stands at Number 11 in the the American Film Institute’s top 100 movie quotations of American cinema’s first century. He said it in a movie that came out in 1967, and people have been repeating it decades later.

OOPS!

A classic failure to communicate happened during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. It occurred as Mrs. Clinton was planning to finally do what her staff had been begging her to do--go on national television and explain the mushrooming e-mail/private server scandal that was in the process of threatening to bog down and burn down her campaign.

Here's the report of what happened:

"A miscommunication between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin led to a brutal grilling in her first national TV interview at the beginning of her campaign for president.

"It was May 2015 when her aides wanted to know who Clinton would like to have interview her about the scandal. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri asked Huma Abedin to find out — Abedin told Palmieri "Brianna," which she thought meant CNN anchor Brianna Keilar.

"However, Clinton actually said 'Bianna,' referring to Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo News, married to Peter Orszag who worked for the administration of former President Bill Clinton before becoming budget director for former President Barack Obama.

"By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late to pull back,"

The result was that, instead of a softball interview by the friendly Bianna Golodryga, Brianna Keilar's interviewed turned out to be a brutal grilling that had Mrs. Clinton staring darts at Brianna during the entire ordeal. Oh, the difference one letter can make.

A speaker saying one thing, the listener hearing another.They're talking past each other. That's why books on public speaking advise, "It's not what you say; it's what they hear."

SAY WHAT?

We encounter this failure to communicate when giving the gospel. We say, "Grace," meaning, "unmerited, undeserved favor," the listener thinks, "Peace," "Mercy," "Smooth of movement like a figure skater." We say, "Repentance," meaning, "A change of mind," the listener thinks, "Feel sorry for sin," "Turn your back on sin," Give up sinning," or "Be willing to give up sinning." We say, "Heaven is a free gift," the listener agrees, but illogically thinks, "It's free, but you have to earn it." We say, "Believe" or "Trust," the listener thinks, "There's more."

The New Testament says that one problem the unbeliever has is that he doesn't understand the good news message of faith alone in Christ alone. Like one lady I talked to: She defined grace with its theological definition, right on the money: "Undeserved favor."

She knew the definition, but it had no impact on her; it didn't register. She could quote Eph. 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." 

The problem was that she understood neither the definition of grace nor the meaning of the verse. From the confusion a cult had given her, she included dying to sin and the need to be baptized and the need to speak in tongues in order to be saved. To her, there were 3 steps to heaven: Her death to sin, her burial (her baptism), and speaking in tongues (her resurrection).

IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Yes. It's impossible for a person to be saved by the gospel if that person doesn't understand the gospel. He can't believe something he doesn't understand. He can define the words, quote the verses, but if he doesn't understand them, there is no salvation (Matthew 13:18). This is why some Lordship salvation teachers say that a child can't be saved. He can't understand Lordship salvation. They're right on that account, no child could understand such teaching. But faith alone in Christ alone, they can understand.

This is why, when we give the gospel, we must probe, ask, and delve as deeply as we can to see if, although he might define the words correctly, although he might quote Eph. 2:8-9 with 100% accuracy, that he connects the dots to understand that when he says, "Heaven is free, but you have to earn it" he's speaking nonsense. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER?

When a bottle or a space are said to be hermetically sealed, that means no air can leave them, no air can enter them. Seemingly all of sudden, American education is becoming, or perhaps already is, hermetically sealed against absolute truth, objectivity, obedience to constituted authority, and morality. Let's take a look.

ABSOLUTE TRUTH

The militant atheist, Richard Dawkins, was asked, "What should we do about all the religious people?" His answer took a turn toward the taciturn. In the style of "Silent Cal," President Calvin Coolidge, he said, "Mock them." (Try that in Saudi Arabia.)

On college campuses, students find the concept of absolute right and absolute wrong mocked with extreme prejudice. From day one, their expensive schools have dedicated themselves to mocking and by that means, destroying the very concept that some things are absolutely right and some things are absolutely wrong regardless of time, place, and culture. This leads the students into a trap. In one class, there were many students who couldn't bring themselves admit that the Holocaust was evil. Oh, they knew it happened, but their relativism wouldn't allow them to say, "That was an evil, evil thing."

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER?

There's a saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." However, my son's pastor shocked the assembled when he wisely said, "Whenever you hear anyone say that, run the other way as fast as you can and never make him your friend."

Although such fleeing might sound harsh to the tolerant ear, that pastor was right. He went on to explain, "God has pronounced some things beautiful" (the Garden of Eden, the creation of Genesis 1-2 before the Fall in Genesis 3, the future New Heavens and the New Earth, the New Jerusalem, the feet of those who bring good news, Solomon's Temple, and the fruit of the Spirit, et al.).

On the other hand, God has pronounced some things ugly (sin, Satan, the factions of the Corinthian church, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, legalism, the church at Laodicea, and the domineering Diotrephes). The pastor's point was that one who believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is sailing on a sea of subjectivity and that belief will bleed over into other areas.

HEY, RAY!

It's the same sentiment expressed in the 1970 hit song, "Everything is Beautiful" by Ray Stevens. The lyrics of the song need to be analyzed, especially those in italics:

Everything is beautiful
In its' own way
Like a starry summer night
Or a snow covered winter's day
Everybody's beautiful
In their own way
Under God's heaven
The world's gonna find a way

Midway through, the song changes from "Everything is beautiful" to:

Everybody's beautiful
In their own way

Therefore, we see that categories vanish, drowned in the Sea of Relativism. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, "Human depravity is the most empirically verifiable fact," yet the monolithic American educational system teaches the impressionable, "There's no such thing as human depravity." Talk about a denial of reality!

IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

The hermetically sealed university system won't advise the students of the consequences of the sealing out of absolute truth:

"If there is no absolute truth, no standard of right and wrong that we are all accountable to, then we can never be sure of anything. People would be free to do whatever they want—murder, rape, steal, lie, cheat, etc., and no one could say those things would be wrong. There could be no government, no laws, and no justice, because one could not even say that the majority of the people have the right to make and enforce standards upon the minority. A world without absolutes would be the most horrible world imaginable." (author unknown)

Look at the ever-developing consequences of a hermetically sealed campus, The University of Southern California, when a Jewish author arrived on campus to speak. He said:

"It used to be a pleasure for me to speak on a college campus like USC.  I can remember the days when I could stroll onto the USC campus and walk over to the statue of Tommy Trojan . . . Now, however, I can’t set foot on this campus – or any campus – without being accompanied by a personal bodyguard and a battalion of armed campus security police to protect me and my student hosts." (David Horowitz, Nov. 4, 2009)

Another Jewish speaker/author, Ben Shapiro, needed police protection and many of his supporters were physically assaulted for attending his speech. Two universities, DePaul and UCLA canceled his speech because the administrations of said schools said that they couldn't (or wouldn't?) provide adequate protection for his appearance. In the speech that wasn't canceled, a mob formed outside and pulled the fire alarm to stop the meeting.

Recently, a group at an Ivy League university holding up hostile placards greeted Christian apologist, author, philosopher, and international speaker, Ravi Zacharias, who was to speak on campus. That same day, he received a note from a friend overseas who promised to pray for his safety because he said, "I know you're entering the hostile territory of an American university."

ABC "World News Tonight" on April 5, 2017, reported that the stealing of college newspapers in which someone finds something objectionable has increased nearly 600 percent over the past decade.

The ABC news program also reported that many schools have rules that ban words that result in another person's loss of self-esteem. One might wonder what would happen if someone paid for an ad in a college newspaper in which the gospel was given and the reader was given a number to call if he had questions. (Romans 3:23 and 6:23 aren't self-esteem building texts.) 

In March 2009, Wright State University banned a Christian group from meeting on campus because of its requirement that voting members be Christian and because of its refusal to accept “nondiscrimination” language that would eliminate faith-based standards for its voting members. After seeking legal help, the Campus Bible Fellowship got the ban lifted.

Amazing isn't it? American universities, sealing off absolute truth and even the consideration of it are becoming violent places of antisemitism and hostile to Christianity.

(TO BE CONTINUED)


 





Friday, April 21, 2017

UP CLOSE

A man is going to Rome and seeing Michelangelo's statue of David. He says that he had heard about it, seen pictures of it, but to see David up close is overwhelming. Michelangelo hewed David from an unwanted block of marble and when he finished, there David was, standing larger than life, 17 feet tall, weighing more than 6 tons! Wow! That's an impressive hunk of rock! The word, "masterpiece," falls short.

THE CHURCH

The church: Hollywood makes fun of it; intellectuals sneer at it; the rank and file are indifferent to it, others are dismissive of it. After all, those in it are "not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble . . ." (I Corinthians 1:26). So wrote Paul.

But, as always, the divine viewpoint is different: the church is God's masterpiece: the church is Jews and gentiles who have come to faith alone in Christ alone united into one body, baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of their conversion, enjoying 34 things in their position in Christ and meeting together in a special way. 

The question is, what is that special way in which they meet? 

THAT SPECIAL WAY

That special way contains 5 elements, impossible for the world to duplicate, no matter how hard it tries:

1. Whenever God's masterpiece meets, it builds up its people in the faith. The reason it does this is because it pleases the Lord. No one in this life will ever reach the point where he does not need the edification that being intimately involved in God's masterpiece brings. Paul writes about the assembled masterpiece: "Let all things be done for edification." (I Cor. 14:26) In context, his subject is the masterpiece's use of their spiritual gifts, all the gifts are to be used to edify.

2. Whenever God's masterpiece meets, all are to learn. (I Cor. 14:31) This learning comes from those in the masterpiece who bring God's revelation (His completed Word) to each meeting. Whenever the masterpiece meets, there is learning.

3. Whenever God's masterpiece meets, all are exhorted by the Word of God. (I Cor. 14:31) No member of God's masterpiece is above hearing the Word of God applied to his life. All learn, all are exhorted. Exhortation is "to urge," "beseech," and "to make an appeal" from the Scriptures, that’s something that we all need.

4. Whenever God's masterpiece meets, there is peace. ( I Cor. 14:33) This peace is the opposite of confusion, that is, things being done in a disorderly manner. There is decorum within God's masterpiece.

5. Whenever God's masterpiece meets, there is the active pursuit of love. (I Cor. 14:1) By love, the Bible means that when the masterpiece meets, each one desires the highest good for the other.

UNIQUE

God's masterpiece is unique in the world and impossible to be copied by the world. The church is God's only ordained institution for this dispensation. God values this masterpiece so highly that He calls it "the bride of Christ" and "the body of Christ." Paul is eloquent on the subject when he writes, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” (II Cor. 11:2)

THE RESULT

Speaking of those five elements of the church, what is their impact on the unbeliever who visits and views God's masterpiece? Paul writes about the impact of masterpiece--as the visitor watches, he comes to a conclusion, "God is certainly among you!" And he worships. (I Cor. 14:25)

THINK ABOUT IT

God has taken "not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble," those like a a discarded piece of marble, and fashioned something beautiful, the church. As an attender of the Hangar Bible Fellowship wrote: " I am so thankful to be a part of a church  body who obviously care deeply about each other,  who desire fellowship with each other, and who desire to have a deeper fellowship with Christ. Words are insufficient to express  just how thankful I am."



Saturday, April 15, 2017

WHAT ARNOLD SAW

Arnold and Barbara Rowland want to experience something they've never done before--they want to see a president of the United States, not on TV, but up close and personal. This is their day to do it, so at 12:15, they choose a spot where they'll get that up close and personal view of the President as he passes by in a parade of cars.

As Arnold stands there waiting for the President's car (the car is two miles away), he glances up and looks across the street where a man catches his eye. The man is standing in an upper floor window of a building. He's holding a rifle with a scope across his chest, the position the military calls at port arms. Arnold knows that there are special agents who will be guarding the President's route and he wants his wife to see one.

Rowland, excited about what he's seen, says to Barbara, "Hey, you wanna see a Secret Service man?"

But there's a problem: she's got her eye on a disturbance across the street where two police officers are trying to assist a young man who's having an epileptic fit. Distracted, and still watching the medical problem develop, Barbara asks, "Where?"

By the time she looks across the street, the Secret Service agent has stepped back into the shadows, away from the window. Barbara asks, "What did he look like?" Rowland describes how he was holding a weapon, a big, high-powered, heavy rifle, no .22 caliber.

Barbara sighs and says, "I wish I could have seen him. He's probably in another part of the building now, watching people."

She returns to looking across the street where an ambulance has arrived to carry the epileptic to the hospital.

But Arnold isn't satisfied; he keeps scanning the upper floors of the building to catch another glimpse of the slender Secret Service agent, one he guesses is in his early thirties, so Barbara can see him too. But he never sees him in the window again; he doesn't mention it to a policeman standing nearby.

TOO BAD

Too bad Arnold didn't say something to the policeman. Arnold wasn't looking at a Secret Service agent; he was looking at Lee Harvey Oswald who would kill the President 14 minutes and 45 seconds later.

If Arnold had said something to the policeman, he might have changed the course of world history. But the problem was, Arnold Rowland didn't understand what he was looking at.

FLASHBACK

On Friday, April 3, 34 AD, there were those who didn't know what they were looking at as they saw Jesus during His trials and while He was hanging on a cross: Roman soldiers mocked Him as "King of the Jews;" those passing by got sarcastic; the two criminals dying on either side of Him insulted  Him. The religious scholars thought they were looking at a law-breaker who deserved all He was getting and more, so to add to the humiliation, they taunted Him.

All the predictions of the Messiah's death were meeting at the cross and the scholars of the Book couldn't or wouldn't see them. In particular, Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were wrapping themselves around the cross. All the miracles their ancient Book had predicted that the Messiah would do, Jesus had done, yet when they saw the miracles right before their eyes, they couldn't or wouldn't "see" them.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

What do you see when you look at the cross? Do you see it as the material of myth and legend? A bit of fake news invented by His students, but who really had nothing to gain by doing so?

Or do you see the cross for what it is: the wood on which the Son of God paid the complete penalty for your sins?

It's the season we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Son of God, but are you distracted as Barbara was on November 22, 1963, so distracted that you don't see it? Or are you like Arnold and see the cross, but refuse to see it for what it really is?

How you see the cross will change your history forever.