Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Below you will find a great resource for family reading and gifting. It comes from Chuck Colson’s website listed below and was written by Eric Metaxas. Let me encourage you to go to their website which has outstanding resources for navigate our culture in these difficult times. Eric is an excellent author and I encourage you to read anything he writes.
Blessings, Pastor Mike

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Rest in Peace

Someone asked me today about the use of the phrase, “Rest in Peace” when we bury a loved one.  It is the reason why Halloween became such a popular holiday in the world. It started out as “Hallows Eve”.
Just like on Christmas Eve, we honor that night before the birth of Jesus. So, on Hallows Eve, we remember the “saints” who have gone on from this world into God’s eternity.  We don’t forget the loved ones who have gone on before us, rather we remember them, visit their graves and leave flowers.
Rest in Peace is taken from the Latin (Requiescat in pace; hence the term “Requiem”.) It is a phrase that was used in Christian funerals.  It is way of wishing that the deceased’s soul may find eternal peace and rest in Jesus Christ. Such inscriptions were found in the catacombs of the early church and continued to be used on gravestones to this day.  Over time it was abbreviated as “RIP”, merely signifying that someone (regardless of faith) has died.  Oddly enough these words have been found inscribed into Hebrew gravestones dating from the 1st Century BC (Before Christ). “Come and rest in peace” has been transferred to the ancient Talmudic prayers in the 3rd   century AD & is used today in traditional Jewish ceremonies.
Later in history, when the phrase became ubiquitous, it was often used to refer to the body itself, not the soul.  The soul would sleep in the body, and it was wished that the body would find a peaceful rest.  This is commonly known as “soul sleep” and is not a Biblical concept.  For the Christian, to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”, 2 Corinthians 5:8.
After the reformation (1517, 500 years ago this year) things began to change in the minds of the Christian world. The church season known as “Hallow Tide” (when the saints were honored), became less and less enchanted.  By that I mean that the belief in ghosts & spirits went on the decline because of the Biblical teachings on the matter that became open for the public to view and read for itself.  Then you add to that the “age of enlightenment” (17th & 18th  centuries) where the educated elite ruled out any thought of an afterlife or spirits or ghosts or any other such thing. Slowly that line of thought trickled down through our education system and it became common knowledge in the west that the time of enchantment was over, and all there was in life was what you could feel, see, taste touch etc. 
But outside the culture of the wests modernization, in South America, where Catholicism still reigned supreme, the world was still enchanted with spirts, good and evil.  The faith merged with some of the cultic beliefs in Mexico and South America.  So that throughout the Caribbean island’s & Mexico “All Hallows Eve” became the “Day of the Dead”, when spirits supposedly came back to life and people began to wear dreadful looking costumes to frighten the evil spirits back into their graves (or wherever they came from).   It became a holiday that people looked forward to because of the revelry of the event, (much like “Ash Wednesday” became a Carnival in South America.  It is also widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, from cults prior to Christianity.  
All Hallows Eve became colloquialized as “Halloween” and that is how it came to America.  Children would dress up in costumes and go door to door asks for “treats” & if they didn’t get them, then certain “tricks” would be played on that household.  From that we get the phrase “trick or treat?”
Today it has become one of the most celebrated “holidays” in America.
Sadly, it has lost its innocence.  With the rise of the occult beginning in the 1960’s Satan worship, witches, spiritism, talking with the dead, have all become a big part of our culture.  More adults participate in “Halloween” than do children.  The onslaught of horror movies has taken over, and the pornography industry is cashing in big time.  Today in America, the age of disenchantment is over.  And despite the efforts of so many atheists, the spirit world is very real to the clear majority of American’s.   It is not unusual to find Christians who today, believe in ghosts, that is departed spirits, come back from the dead to haunt.  I’ve done enough funerals to know that most of America’s beliefs about the dead are sadly mistaken.  Let me be very clear, “it is appointed for each man once to die, and then comes the judgment”, Hebrews 9:27.  Your deceased relatives are not here for you to talk to.  They are not up in the sky watching you make that touchdown, so you can look up point up and say, “this one’s for you”. No one comes back from the dead, or sits in heaven watching you.  But there are evil spirits out there, fallen angels (known as demons) who followed Lucifer, as he became “Satan” and the “Devil” to be thrown out of heaven. They would like you to believe that they are your dead relatives or someone from the past ages, but they are not.  One thing for sure, their powers are real.  They can lead you into temptation.  They can possess people and lead them to many destructive things (even like mass shootings or suicide bombings).  The occult is nothing to be trifled with.  
All Hallows Eve is a time to remember the beloved Christians who have gone on before us and now reside with Christ.  They are a great host in heaven, and that remind us that our greatest Hope is in Jesus Christ & His salvation.  

In eius dilectione
Pastor Mike



The Greatest Easter Sermon Ever Preached

 
 
Was by 
John Chrysostom (349-407), the early church’s famed preacher and archbishop of Constantinople at the great Church of Holy Wisdom (Built by the early Christians, nowt aken over by Islam as if it were there own creation, the Hagia Sophia in what is now called Istanbul).

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On the Move

The word is getting out that Pathway Fellowship is in the process of buying the Historic, Victorian Caldwell Mansion on Greenback Lane as our new home. Understandably it has raised some doubts and fears of what might happen to the Mansion. The last 2 groups who have sought to buy the Mansion were going to raze it to the ground and build new edifices for their businesses. They were both turned down because of their goal of destroying the mansion. Our offer to buy the Mansion has been accepted by the sellers because our intent is to restore and keep the Mansion as a historical building and site.

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National Day of Prayer

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Thomas Paine once said, “these are the times that try men’s souls”.

America is in crisis, inside and out.  Protestors are threatening our peace from within, rioting if they don’t get what they want.  College age adults, trained in our schools, want limits on free speech.  They want to decide what is acceptable and what is not.  The PC police have frightened most Americans from speaking their own minds.   Outside of our borders we face new threats of terrorism on our shores.  Millions of people unhappy with their lot in life have been illegally streaming into our country in order to attain free benefits from our government: education, medical care, welfare, housing without having to work for it.  Our own politicians are enabling them in order to gain votes in any election.  O yes, they are not citizens, but they can get drivers licenses and they will vote.

 

Within our country we have seen the corruption of government in every sector, leaders who set up rules for the citizens which they themselves refuse to be a part of.  Just look at the degradation in our country due to a loss of proper values and morals.  Have your read about North Carolina’s new bathroom laws to protect our families and children, while our own Federal Justice Department is trying to overturn such laws as civil rights violations.  What about the rights of descent American’s who don’t want a few people’s perversions flaunted in their face while they try and use public bathroom?  Don’t they have rights as well?   We have a secular elite who want to remove our foundational freedoms in order to bolster their own power in government.  They are systematically tearing down and undermining the great foundations of our country.  What ever happened to the “will of the people”?

 

If there’s ever been a time in our countries history in which we ought to drop to our knees and begin to pray earnestly for our nation, this is it.

We have gone so far off course that it seems impossible to get back to what America used to be, what America needs to be for our sake as well as for the sake of the world. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”  We have always had the sense that we could do anything and fix anything, but as I look today we have gone too far.  It is going to take a miracle of Biblical proportions to save America for future generations.

 

In the book “7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” by Eric Metaxas,

He recounts a story of George Washington’s commitment to prayer during the Revolution. His nephew, George Lewis, told a Washington biographer that “he had accidentally witnessed [the general’s] private devotions in his library both morning and evening: that on these occasions he had seen him in a kneeling position with a Bible open before him and that he believed such to have been his daily practice.”

 

Would that every Christian in America had that kind of commitment to prayer.  It was a miracle that we won the revolutionary war, it was a miracle that gave us success at Midway that opened the door for victory in WW2.  Throughout our history the God fearing praying Christians of America have touched the heart of God and kept our country afloat.  We must get back to this kind of passionate prayer.

 

At Chuck Colson’s center they have given us specific focus on how Christ’s church—the people of God—can make a difference in our culture and around the world. We should not hesitate to join them and millions of others throughout our country.

And here’s what we will pray:

  1. We will praise the Lord that His sovereign goodness is as true today as ever. We will remember that this world ultimately belongs to God,

who created all things and Who, in Christ, is restoring all things.

  1. We will repent of our sin, and thank God for His promised forgiveness.

We will remind ourselves that all have sinned, and that we are welcomed

by God through repentance. Nehemiah began his work in the world with repentance. So will we.

  1. We will pray for our current government leaders to fight evil and stand up for truth. We will remember that there is no place where God is not at work.
  2. We will pray that truth and justice will prevail over “political correctness” and “tolerance,” both in our own lives and in our culture. We will remember that right and wrong do not change according to cultural fashions, nor does legality alter morality.
  3. We will pray for the upcoming election season, that God would show us mercy and not give us what we deserve. We will remember that God ultimately orchestrates human history and uses whom He will to accomplish His purposes.
  4. We will pray that God unites His people, using them to bring restoration in this broken culture. We’ll remember that those who have been reconciled to God have been put on mission as agents of reconciliation.

 

Friends, as we pray, we must remember what is true about God, about the Church, and about the world. History demonstrates that God will not tolerate legally approved immorality & a country that spurns His Word & His Ways. But history also shows us that God will hear our prayers.

We CAN make a difference!  We must for the sake of our children & grandchildren.

Mike Samarkand 1024x768

 

Coram Deo,
 
Pastor Mike


Coffee anyone?

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A group of young adults got together at a friend’s home.
They talked about a lot of things but soon the conversation turned into complaints  about politics, stress in work, trouble in our country & life.
The host offered his guests coffee.  He went to the kitchen where he had already prepared the coffee.  He picked out a number of different cups and mugs, as he had a good collection.  Some were porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite.  He brought it into the room with sugar and cream telling them to help themselves to the coffee.   After everyone had chosen a cup, and began to drink their coffee, the host remarked to the group.  "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for us to want only the best for ourselves, that is the source of our problems and stress.   "Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases, it's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup.   But, subconsciously, we go for the best cups...and then we began eyeing each other's cups.   "Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and, the politics, our position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups.  Let’s enjoy our coffee.”   When a family suffers a devastating fire in their home a number of things transpire.  There is the immediate shock followed by the sense of loss when you start to realize all that was destroyed.  The task of sorting through the rubble, is often a very painful task.  People often have to move out of the house right away due to health issues or safety problems.  That change in itself can be very demoralizing.   At some point you begin to focus on what is really important in life. It always comes down to loved ones and relationships.  You realize that your life was not the house of the things in it.  Job, in the Old Testament, experienced this in a major way that. God forbid we will ever have to experience such a nightmare.   The house the clothes, the possessions, were just the cups that hold our lives. God is most concerned about His beloved children. The cups they come and go.  Sometimes in life the cups are beautiful and precious.  At other times they are downright disappointments. But through it all, it is the “coffee” that is important, what God is brewing in our lives.  
Fortunately, we know the end of the story.  These cups here are only temporary.  Jesus is preparing a new cup for us, that will be glorious and it will carry this precious gift of life into all eternity.
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Enjoy your coffee,
Pastor Mike