Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
“You can take our land, but you can never take our freedom.” Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart, portrayed WilliamWallace, a Scottish knight that helped lead the Scots to an upset victory over the English forces at the Battle of Stirling Bridge September 11, 1297.
Man has always equated blood for freedom and there have been many battles since the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Many have given there lives in quest of freedom.
In Genesis chapters 10-11, we read about a man named Nimrod, Noah’s great grandson. He saw God as someone who stood in the way of his freedom. Just like Nimrod, human beings have tried to obtain freedom by their own best efforts.
Everyone wants freedom, but where does it come from and how can we attain true freedom?
Jonathan Ielpi worked for the New York City Fire Department in Squad 288, a unit that handled various kinds disasters. He was called to duty after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower on September 11, 2001.
After getting a call from his son Jonathan, Lee Ielpi a retired firefighter, drove down to the Twin Towers with his younger son Brendan to see if they could help out. When they arrived, the North and South Towers had already collapsed and looked as though they had been crushed in a giant trash compactor. The two 110 story towers were now just five stories of broken rubble.
Lee and Brendan began to comb through the debris in search of survivors, Lee, hoping that he would find his son alive. The day ended, but Lee Ielpi had not yet found his son.
Somewhere in the pile is a woman named Genelle Guzman. She and some coworkers were heading down Stairway B when she stopped on the thirteenth floor to take off her high heel shoes. That’s when the North Tower collapsed and a rolling wave of concrete, steel and everything else that was in the tower, buried her. Only her head and left arm were free.
For twenty seven hours she waited to be rescued. While waiting, she believes she encountered an angel named Paul, who came and held her hand until rescue workers could cut her free. Genelle Guzman was the last survivor to be pulled from the fallen towers.
Lee Ielpi was still searching for his son Jonathan. He had given up hope of finding him alive. However, he wanted to be able to bury his son. On December 11, 2001, Lee and Brendan Ielpi, helped carry Jonathan’s body from ground zero.
On this the tenth anniversary of the 911 attacks, families of the victims are gathered at the September 11 Memorial to remember those who were killed. They will notice two huge holes in the ground where the twin towers once stood. For me, these holes represent the 2983 people who were killed in the 1993 bombing and the 911 attacks. Their names sketched in the bronze plates that surround the footprints of the two towers. But they also symbolize our poverty and nakedness without Jesus Christ.
The Freedom Tower is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. It will be 1776 feet high, commemorating the year of our nation’s independence. However, independence doesn’t equal freedom!
Jesus said that everyone who sins is a slave of sin John 8:31-36. His words offended the Jews who thought they were free men. They were Abrahams descendants and to them, that meant they were free.
But Jesus explained that Abraham’s blood couldn’t set them free from sin. Slaves have no purchasing power, they have no inheritance, they can’t afford to purchase righteous garments to clothe themselves, nor could they purchase immortality. It was only Jesus who could do this for them, because it required his precious blood not Abrahams.
In the old covenant, slaves were set free once every seven years (Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:12) and only once every fifty years (called the Jubilee), on the day of At-One-Ment could they return to their inheritance - their land and their families (Lev. 25:8-16).
But the good news - the gospel of Jesus Christ is we don’t have to wait fifty years to return to our inheritance - our inheritance is Jesus Christ. We are set free when we trust in Him. Jesus redeemed us. He bought the righteous garments to cover our naked bodies and he will clothed us with immortality. He is rich in the love nature. A nature that is foreign to human beings. It’s the nature that loved even His betrayer Judas, in that Jesus washed Judas’s feet before he was crucified, knowing that Judas had already betrayed him.
How many men did William Wallace slaughter for freedom? His sword and his garments stained with the blood of men. Since the Battle of Stirling Bridge, there have been many battles. I witnessed the battle at the World Trade Center ten years ago this day from a high-rise office building on 15th Street and 8th Avenue.
Throughout history, man has been willing to shed his blood in exchange for what he has perceived to be freedom. In reality the exchange has kept him in bondage to a sinful hurtful nature.
Today Jonathan Ielpi’s fireman’s jacket is part of the remaining artifacts which is held in the September 11 Memorial and Museum. That garment couldn’t save Jonathan’s life.
Jesus died, but He isn’t in the tomb. He is in you and in me and in all those who have surrendered their lives to Him. Christ in you the hope of Glory (Col. 1:27).
I can hear him saying, “Don’t worry. I am your Tower Of Freedom. I have come to set you free from the hurtful, sinful nature. I will clothe you in white garments of righteousness (Rev. 7:14). I will clothe you in immortality (John 3:16). All that the Father has is mine (John 16:15). I am rich in the love of God, because I am God. I am a Warrior of Love! I have violent love for you.
It’s not the shedding of your own blood... it’s not the shedding of another man’s blood... No, my robe has been dipped not in the blood of men, but in my own precious blood (Heb. 9:12; Rev. 19:13), which was shed for you, and you, and all of you. So that all men can live in freedom- life forever more.
Let the celebration begin!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Here is what Clinton had to say to us: “I had two strokes,” he said. “I lay in the bed at the nursing home with my grandchildren sitting around me. I couldn’t talk to them. I wasn’t able to speak. I had a tube in my chest because I had double pneumonia. I had another tube in my stomach, a feeding tube. I asked God why did you keep me alive? God has a reason for everything. He put this on my heart,” referring to encouraging those who have ended up like him and have given up hope.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Lord Jesus come.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
A couple of weeks later, I called my neighbor's son Payton and asked if he would come over to help me. I had him stand under the light fixture and tap on the fixture so I could find it as I crawled around the attic for the second time. He kept talking to me and tapping on the fixture and I was able to locate the electric box that the light fixture is connected to. However, there weren't any mounting brackets for the light fixture. I came down from the attic and observed the fixture for the second time. I realized that the tin plate somehow must drop down from the ceiling so that I would be able to tighten the nut behind it. I called my cousin Mike to confirm this. He told me that everything that is holding the fixture up is below the ceiling. So yesterday I unscrewed the two screws that hold the tin plate that is mounted to the ceiling. I dropped the tin plate down from the ceiling and was able to tightened the nut that screws onto the stem and holds the glass cover in place. It took me about fifteen minutes to repair the light fixture.
After I put away my tools, I started thinking about my relationship with Jesus. Paul reminded the Corinthians that our relationship with Jesus is simple based on faith and trust in Him. Jesus Christ is everything that we need to stand on. He is the Rock that is under our feet. Our salvation is in Him. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV).
Paul was defending the gospel of grace from those who wanted to make it complicated thinking that faith in Jesus wasn't enough. Three different times the Lord spoke to Paul and said to him:
"My grace is all you need" (2 Corinthians 12: 9 NLT).
The gospel is grace by faith in Jesus Christ. We need to keep it as simple as that.
Oh yeah and the burning smell that I thought was coming from the light fixture, turned out to be a plastic bag that I had in the room which had the smell of garlic in it.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
I have repented from trying to obtain love from human beings. Although I have some great friends and family members who love me, I know that the love that they have to give is limited. They cannot satisfy my most intimate need for love. How do I know this? Because they are human beings just like me. No human being can meet our need for love. God created us to need Him. In Jesus Christ, God became man so that He can share this love. He is forever united with us. God loves you and me and every human being that has ever lived.
As human beings we have expectations and sometimes we expect to receive from another person only what God can give us. Only God is an infinite supply of love. Only He can meet our deepest need for love. He is the source of love. There is freedom in understanding this truth. It helps us show grace to others who fall short of our expectations and it helps us point other human beings to Christ.
So on this Independence Day, why not experience true liberty. If you haven't done so already, why not ask Jesus to give you His love and to live His life within you. His love will meet your innermost needs and your deepest desires and will truly set you free.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty 1 Cor. 1:26-27 NKJV.
I try not to look at myself and my weaknesses, but rather focus on Christ who is working in me to accomplish his will. He is able to accomplish all things because He is God. He works in the lives of those who submit to him thereby confounding the mighty of this world.
Friday, June 17, 2011
In 2002, I was diagnosed with cancer. Later the diagnosis was changed to Crohn's Ileitis- severe inflammation of the ileum. After everything that my doctors tried failed, I ended up in ICU on life support. But God has a way of intervening in our lives when thinks look most bleak. That is exactly what He did in my case. Surely by now, after spending time on life support and surviving three major surgeries, including exploratory surgery, something would have gone wrong, but God continues to befuddle wise men everywhere.
Dr. P., my gastroenterologist, recently said to me, "Joe, I'm going to start sending all my patients to Kentucky," thinking that my move to Kentucky back in 2004 had something to do with keeping me out of the hospital. I looked him in the eyes and said, "Doctor P, it's not Kentucky. It's the peace that surpasses all understanding."
I know who rescued me from the depths of darkness and brought me into His marvelous light; while I lay in bed unconscious and the hospital staff asked my wife if she wanted to donate my organs. It was God who reached out His hand to touch me and heal me. It was God who raised me up from my deathbed after the wisest of men failed to prevent me from becoming deathly ill.
None of us is guaranteed a long healthy life without any difficulties. In fact, life is filled with hardship, sickness and trouble. But the lesson that God has taught me is that no matter how bleak life appears to be, there is a God who is the Creator of life, who sustains all things and who desires to share eternity with human beings everywhere. He is Savior of mankind. Trust him wherever and whoever you are.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Although the body will die, the Spirit gives life. It's the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:1-17). You are in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you. If you don't have the Spirit of God, you are not a child of God. But if you are led by the Spirit of God than you are a child of God and an heir. The heir receives the inheritance, in this case the inheritance is eternal life. The slave or servant never receives the inheritance.
God never intended for us to remain the way we are. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world so that God could bring us into his realm, the Spirit realm-being born again is the process that makes us children of God.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
In addition, the cross also symbolizes suffering with others who are sick, grieving and traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. Those who believe in the religious teaching of blessings and cursings, are setting themselves up for failed expectations. The moment something doesn't work out the way the one who believes in this teaching thought it should work out, is the moment that this one begins to doubt. They might go back and try to figure out what went wrong. They might then decide to work harder at "getting it right." After all their attempts at getting it right fail, they might then begin to question God and ask, "Why are you letting these bad things happen to me?"
The truth is God is sovereign and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is committing to a life of suffering. Jesus said, "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:27 NKJV). Why would one commit to a life of suffering? In the words of the Apostle Paul, "For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18 NKJV).
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Yesterday I presented Clinton with a copy of my book, "Touched By The Hand Of God." I customized it for him and put it in a loose-leaf binder. Clinton Tuck, Rod Kennedy and Ernie Hughes (now deceased) were instrumental in helping me complete my autobiography. I wasn't able to finish the book until I met these three wonderful men. I met each of them in the local nursing homes. All three have inspired me so very much that I dedicated the final chapter of my book titled, "Location, Location, Location," to them. Touched By The Hand Of God, is available in digital format at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39345 and other online eBook retailers like Apple i Bookstore and Kindle.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
(References: The Book of Colossians, especially Col. 1:12-14,19,27; 2:9-15,20; 3:1-4,11)
Monday, May 2, 2011
My Review Of This Book
Dr. Steve McVey decided to leave Alabama with his family and accept a Pastoral position at a struggling church in Atlanta. In Alabama he was recognized as an "outstanding young religious leader," and he was confident in his ability to get this church turned around. However, after one year this church had declined in attendance. He learned that despite what we are taught in our culture, trying harder doesn't work in our relationship with God or in His service. God works through our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Dr. McVey was brought to a place of brokenness and complete surrender (the valley of the shadow of death). It was in this place that he began to trust God and quit trying to be a Christian. He gave up trusting in his own abilities and discovered that the only One who could live the Christ life is Christ. He found his new identity in Christ; as Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 5:17). He came to understand that he was no longer a sinner but a saint. He recognized his old nature was dead and he now had a new nature. The sin nature died with Jesus Christ on the cross (Gal. 2:20). Dr. McVey learned that the Christian life is easy when we let Jesus do it. We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and don't have to fret over trying to figure out what God's will is.
I loved this book. It is more of a book to study with questions on each chapter in the back of the book. I did the questions and didn't rush through the book. I have learned three things from Dr. McVey's teachings in Grace Walk:
1) My relationship with God is based on an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ-it's a love affair.
2) My identity is in Christ-He lives in me and expresses His love through me.
3) I have the mind of Christ. I abide in Him and no longer have to fret about knowing His will. His will comes naturally.
Friday, April 29, 2011
So where is the love? The love that Jesus referred to is agapao love or God love. Agapao love can only be expressed by God. That is what Divine Life is all about (thank you Dr. Steve McVey). Agapao is expressed by God living in human beings. The fullness of God is in Christ and Christ lives in the lives of those who trust and believe in Him (Col. 1:19,27).
It's a love that transcends this world.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Peter made the mistake that many of us make today. He thought he was able to love, fulfill the requirements of the law, on his own strength. Jesus knows that no human being is able to fulfill the requirements of the law of love on their own strength. That is why He came and died and rose from the dead; that He might live His life of love within each and every one of us.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Three times Peter said he loved Jesus (John 21:15-17). Our relationship with Jesus can be a academic experience, a religious exercise or a "love affair." Jesus wants the love affair. As a human being, Jesus is united with all of humanity. But He wants a deeper more intimate relationship with you and me. He really wants us to tell Him how much we love Him and desire Him to live within us. Invite Him today to live within you. Tell Him that you love Him more than anything or anyone. He is waiting to hear from you.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Recently I was having a conversation with my friend Clinton Tuck and I was told that my pal Ernie Hughes was a huge WWE wrestling fan.I wish I would have known this before he died. Nevertheless, it's never too late to recognize someone whom you respect and admire. So now I am nominating Ernie into the WWE Fan Hall of Fame. With your help, we can to do this. Use this link http://bit.ly/hT9LVU and fill in the information on WWE's website. You can copy and paste my letter into the comment section if you would like. I sent the letter below to Vincent McMahon on Tuesday, March 15.
Please share this information with everyone you know. Thanks for your help. I know Ernie would be thrilled.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I can’t begin to tell you how many times over the past eight years I just wanted to die. I entered the valley of the shadow of death and each time I met Jesus there he carried me out. He wouldn’t leave me in that place of darkness and despair.
I spent a long time in the valley back in 2001 after witnessing the 911 attacks on New York City from a highrise office building a mile or so from ground zero. Although I wanted to reach out and stop the pending death and destruction, I was helpless to prevent it from happening.
A year later I was told I had cancer. I took pride in my health and having some serious illness was the furthest thing from my mind. I prayed all the time and I read and studied the Bible every chance I got. I wrote my prayers and scriptures in a notebook that later became my journal. Upon reading and studying Psalm 91, I “heard” the Lord speak to my heart and say, “I will sheild you with my wings, I will shelter you with my feathers.” The diagnosis was miraculously changed shortly thereafter. However, the pain that I experienced grew more intense with each passing day and I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of Greenwich Hospital (Connecticut). I had to have surgery to remove the diseased portion of my intestine. All was thought to have gone well, but three days later, I lost consciousness. I spent the next two months fighting for my life. I remember very little from those two months. But I was told that I was very near death for a good part of that time, and even had to be resuscitated. My wife used my journal to encourage those who were my caretakers. I kept writing in my journal for encouragement and inspiration.
I didn’t think my life could get any worse, however in 2004 I got separated and then divorced. I turned again to my journal; reading, writing and editing. I started visiting those who were sick at local hospitals and nursing homes. I told them how Jesus met me in the dark place and wouldn’t leave me there. The more I told my story, the more I was inspired to go forward. I continued to write and thought that my story might encourage others who had little or no hope.
Today after many years and many revisions, I have completed my story. It’s called, “Touched By The Hand Of God.” I published it as an independent author on Smashwords. You can read a portion of the book for free. Follow this link or paste it in your browser http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39345