Who Is On The Lord’s Side?

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The following is a story which I keep telling whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today, I present a modified version of this untitled story which I did not come up with. Do read on …

The Come One, Come All Church of God was filled to capacity and in fact, overflowing. The occasion was a fundraiser in support of the church expansion project. Apparently, the auditorium of 1,800 seats was not enough for the many souls committed and passionate about worshipping the Lord God Almighty. If the fundraising goes on successfully as elaborately planned, there’ll be enough funds for an extra 419 seats to supplement those already in place.

The divine service was already in session, and the worship leader together with his team and band of music inclined instrumentalists ministered songs that stirred up the hearts of the congregation to lift up their hands and voices unto the heavens. After him came the prayer warriors, then the choir dressed beautifully in their woven Kente clothes. They too ministered a song plus two that saw some in the congregation moved to tears. Next was the preacher man.

The preacher man, who was also the church’s recently posted resident minister, took gentle steps towards the pulpit as the congregation sang in unison the popular hymn, “Lord thy word abideth, and thy footsteps guideth”, while the pianist played in the background. As the auditorium became silent in expectation of the words of the preacher man, the sound of screeching tires found its way  into the auditorium.

Before the preacher man and resident minister could start his first sentence, the doors at the main entrance of the auditorium burst open in a loud manner that caught some people off guard and almost off their seats in panic. As if that was not enough, men dressed in black overalls with hoods and numbering about twenty walked in through the opened entrance. Everyone was shocked, even the most tired of all the congregants who had been dozing off for the greater part of the service were now wide awake.

In a very dramatic manner, the men took up positions within the auditorium without the aid of any usher, who also watched on, rooted to the spot. Nothing was as scary about the men as the black bags that was strapped across their backs and was occasionally prevented from dangling using their hands clothed in black gloves.

The suspense in the air was thick, and as one them, presumably the leader, picked up a microphone and addressed the fear stricken congregation, everyone hoped against all hope with many independent thoughts running in over a 1800 minds.

In an awkwardly soft and calm voice, he said, “Peace be unto you brethren! We are here as followers of the Advanced Repopulation of Heaven and our sole purpose here is see to the immediate transfer of all true believers into heaven. As such, if you’re here today and profess Jesus Christ as Lord & personal Savior, then rejoice and prepare to meet your God any moment from now. However, if you wish to deny Jesus Christ as Lord and are not willing, for reasons best known to you, to take a bullet for him, then please exit the building now.”

While he made this utterance before the congregation, his fellows had already taken out what looked like AK-47s and were busy setting up for what had now been made clear to all. There was going to be a shooting, and only Christians qualified.

There was a seemingly long period of silence lasting about ten to fifteen seconds during which people shifted uncomfortably in their seats while others kept glancing at one another, most especially at the preacher man, who was clearly in shock and was leaning forward for support against the pulpit. It looked like everyone was going to take a bullet for Christ but not all were willing.

One lady slowly pulled her feet out of her high heel shoe and stood with her hands stretched up as if in worship. She was the choir mistress and wife of the assistant pastor. All it took was the click sound of one of the guns to set men and women of God in motion. The choir mistress was first to break into a run followed by a couple of choristers. They were followed by the Asst Pastor holding the hand his wife, some elders of the church, and other familiar faces seen playing active roles in the church regularly. The first to be out of the door were the ushers and many followed after them. Looking on were the men in black who aimed but did not shoot.

After about 15 minutes of commotion, the noise subsided greatly. For now, it was the cries of some babies who had been left behind by their parents or guardians that could be heard. There were far less people left in the auditorium now, including the preacher man. Shoes, bags, and bibles could all be seen on the red carpet aisles.

Many in the church now had their heads bowed and eyes closed, some on their knees, and a few drenched in sweat and tears.

All they heard next was the leader speaking specifically to the preacher man saying, “Sorry to have barged into this service unannounced. The weeds needed clearing, and that has been done. Now you can provide nourishment for the true seedlings as God willed for you to do.”

This he said, as his colleagues packed everything, and walked out the same way they came

Ideally, what is expected of today’s Christan in such a scenario?
Now, picture yourself as a member of the Come One, Come All Church Of God during this fundraiser and ask yourself whether or not you’ll remain in your seat and why you will or will not do so?

In the final verse of the Hymn, Who is on the Lord’s side?, it reads:

MHB  820

Stanza 4

  Chosen to be soldiers
In an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful,
For our Captain’s band,
In the service royal
Let us not grow cold;
Let us be right loyal,
Noble, true, and bold.
Master, Thou wilt keep us,
By Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord’s side,
Savior always  Thine.

D. A.

Christian

Dedicated to all christains

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Pray, Christian; pray
Every night and day.
God is never far but near
Open your heart and be sincere;
Pray, Christian; pray.

Read, Christian; read
Study God’s Word; take heed.
Read your Bible ev’ry day
Or else you might be led astray;
Read, Christian; read.

Stand, Christian; stand
God’s given you this land.
Don’t give in; do not fall back,
Ask God to help you stay on track;
Stand, Christian; stand.

Speak, Christian; speak
Each day of the week.
Preach the Gospel; share the Truth
With the elderly and youth;
Speak, Christian; speak.

Live, Christian; live
You’ve got so much to give.
Show the lost world Jesus’ love –
Be wise yet gentle as a dove;
Live, Christian; live.

AAT

Jesus, The Worthy Lamb

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll or look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
Revelations 5:4-5

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There are about a million verses in the Bible all underlying and the stating the fact that everything is working together for our good and encouraging us as well, yet we seem to judge ourselves unworthy because we are still singing the old song which is, “We’re not worthy, today we did this and didn’t do that.”

We keep basing our faith, hope, love trust, believe and worship on our day to day performances which will certainly not help because as far as we’re on this earth there are going to be some good and bad days. Are we not going to worship on those bad days then nor love nor have faith?

As Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Acts 13:44-50 , it was to the Gentiles joy, but to the Jews it was all blasphemy, envy and the likes of it. The Jews like us know a lot of the scriptures and these should have made more sense to us but we don’t see it that way because we still think there’s something we need to do.

Yet the message is no longer about us and our performance of rituals, but about Jesus, the Messiah who came to die for our sins and called us to himself, that we should believe in him and we will have everlasting life … that we should come to him (that is, we that labor & are heavy laden) and He will give us rest … that our righteousness is Jesus and that this Grace that has appeared to us all will teach us what to do and not do [Titus 2:11-15] and we won’t just do things out of mere rituals but rather based on His worthiness and grace and love which compels us.

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Worthy is the Lamb

We’ve got to understand that God’s grace is bigger than our failings in this life and the promises in the Bible are true and will be true in our lives because worthy is the lamb. We will not be the tail but the head because worthy is the lamb. We’re going to be all that He has planned for us because worthy is He that has called us to himself. The devil has never and will never be the problem because Jesus the author and finisher of our faith has finished our books and signed it with his blood.

Worthy is the lamb! Worthy is the lamb!! Worthy is the lamb!!! Join me and the heavenly angels and the elders us we sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals;

For you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue

And people and nation, and have made us Kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth.”

Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and

Glory and blessing!”

Blessing and honour is His and His alone!

Have a MERRY Christmas and remember all things are working together for you and in the right moment you shall reap because He is worthy and He is not a man that he will lie. Jesus alone is worthy.

To God be the glory!

– C. O. N.

Should Parents Let their  Children Believe in Santa Claus? 

The following was originally posted on Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig.

Question

Dear Dr Craig, 

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As the Christmas season is upon us, I’d be interested to hear your wisdom regarding Christian families celebrating the Santa Claus tradition. To be more precise, do you think it’s consistent with Christian values to pretend that Santa is real? 

As a parent of two young children this is particularly relevant to me at the moment. On one hand we recognise that as a Christian family, we always want Jesus to be at the centre of the Christmas celebration. We also highly value telling our children the truth in all things. But I also can see a place for fantasy and make believe and see the fun and joy that this can bring to a family. 

While it almost sounds like a trivial issue, living in a post-Christian, highly secularised culture where Santa Claus is almost revered as a sacred childhood tradition, abandoning this tradition could potentially cause quite a lot of friction with our non-Christian family. Then again, it could also have the potential to be a strong witness for the importance of Jesus in our lives. 

Thank you for all the work you do serving Christ through your academic work. I hope you can spare the time to address this not-quite-as-apologetically-relevant question. 

Merry Christmas to you and the Reasonable Faith team! 

Best wishes, 

Dan 
Australia 

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Dr. Craig responds

I’m glad you’re thinking seriously about this matter, Dan. The decision on the part of Christian parents about what to tell their children about Santa Claus is, I think, potentially very consequential and therefore important. Whatever you decide, your decision needs to be a thoughtful one, not one thoughtlessly taken. 

On the one hand, the replacement of Jesus Christ at Christmas by Santa Claus is a sacrilege. Santa Claus is obviously a sort of God-surrogate: an all-seeing person endowed with miraculous powers, who’s making a list and checking it twice in order to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good, for goodness’ sake!” But never fear: Santa Claus is a kindly old man with a long white beard who never judges that someone has been bad. No matter what you’ve done, he thinks you’re good and delivers the presents. Such a caricature of God is so perverse that one wonders how Christian parents could possibly allow their children to believe in such a being. Christmas, as the word suggests, is supposed to be about Christ, not about this imposter. 

On the other hand, who wants to be an old Scrooge, spoiling all the fun and dampening the festiveness of Christmas? Poems like “The Night before Christmas” are so much fun to read to your children. Isn’t there some way to reach an accommodation? 

I think there is. Saint Nicholas was a historical figure, an early church bishop. We can teach our children about who he was and explain how people like to make-believe that he comes and brings children presents today at Christmas time. Children love to make-believe, and so you can invite them to join in this game of make-believe with you. When you see a Santa at the shopping mall, say, “Look, there’s a man dressed up like Saint Nicholas! People pretend that he is Saint Nicholas. Would you like to tell him what you want for Christmas?” 

Jan and I found that this strategy worked well with our children. Moreover, in Belgium, where they were raised, Saint Nicholas Day is actually a day distinct from Christmas, which helps to preserve the integrity and meaning of Christmas. Saint Nicholas (or Père Noël) brings the children presents around December 5, as I recall, not on Christmas morning. This separation of the days worked beautifully for our family. The tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning was too strong a tradition to give up, but what we did on Saint Nicholas Day was put out Belgian chocolates for the children which we made-believe were delivered by Saint Nicholas. Then Christmas was the day we celebrated Jesus’ birthday. I’d suggest doing the same. 

I strongly believe that Christian parents should not lie to their children about the existence of a supernatural, all-knowing being who is watching them and holding them morally accountable. Once they find out that you have lied to them about Santa’s existence, how can doubts not also arise that you have been wrong as well in telling them that God exists? Maybe the whole Christmas story is a myth which thinking adults should outgrow. In fact, I’ve heard ignorant atheists actually comparing God to Santa Claus and saying that there is no more evidence of God’s existence than Santa’s. In lying to your children about Santa Claus, you may be setting them up for fall. 

We need therefore to teach our children about the historical credibility of the Gospels and help them to see the stark differences between stories of Santa Claus and the biographies of Jesus of Nazareth. Just as we acquaint them with the historical Saint Nicholas, so we also need to acquaint them with the historical Jesus. In fact, just as we share with them how myths have built up around the historical Saint Nicholas, we can share with them how Christmas myths like the three kings or the drummer boy or Jesus’ being born on December 25 “in the bleak midwinter” have built up round Jesus. They will have a stronger, more durable faith as a result. 

There is one caution, however. You should let your children know that many other children actually do believe in Santa Claus, and that it’s not their job to inform them otherwise. That’s between them and their parents. My daughter said that our policy of telling the children Santa is make-believe led to “some interesting conversations” at school with children who said that Père Noël exists. “No, he doesn’t!” Oops! I find it rather ironic that it was our children who were the free-thinkers and sceptics when it came to Santa Claus. Best to tell your children that while we know Santa is a just a fun, make-believe figure, they shouldn’t upset other parents who haven’t been so honest with their children as we have. 

Comments are welcomed below or forwarded via bstudies.nupsg@gmail.com