If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Building walls

The nation of Israel, more specifically the tribes living in and around Jerusalem, had been taken captive for seventy years in Babylon. In the year 530 B.C. the Persians captured Babylon allowing the Jewish remnant to return to their country and to the city of Jerusalem. Immediately some fifty thousand of them did return and set about the task of rebuilding the temple. Discouraged by opposition from their new neighbors, lack of resources and manpower they soon abandoned the work with only the foundation of the temple rebuilt.

Sixteen years later God raised up two men, Haggai and Zechariah who challenged the people concerning their condition and way of life and pointed out their neglect of the things of God. The people were inspired by these two men and the work of the reconstruction of the temple was once again revived. The temple was completed some twenty years after the first group had returned from captivity.

Sixty more years passed by, when another group of Jewish men and women returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra in the year 458 B.C. Ezra was a priest who could trace his lineage back to Israel’s first priest, Aaron. Ezra set out upon the task of revitalizing the peoples’ moral and spiritual health. They had been living in a deplorable state, challenged on every side by their enemies, lack of resources and reinforcements from the Persian king.

For some ninety years after the first group of Jews returned to rebuild the temple, the gates and walls of the city still remained broken and desolate. In the year 445 B.C. fourteen years after Ezra’s return God spoke to another man, Nehemiah, and began preparing him for the task of rebuilding the walls and gates.

One day Nehemiah’s brother and some other Jews returned from Jerusalem and reported to Nehemiah the horrible conditions of its gates and walls. God’s glorious city of grace was in shambles and they were to blame for it. As Nehemiah heard his brother’s account, he fell down and wept, and he mourned, and he fasted, and he prayed.

Jesus would also one day weep over the city of Jerusalem and see its inhabitants as lost sheep without a shepherd. From the Mount of Olives He saw its future destruction and mourned for it even agonizing over it only days before His own brutal death on a cross. And just as the wall and gates around the city of peace would one day be restored under Nehemiah’s leadership, Jesus three days after His death would burst forth from the tomb in glorious resurrection.

Nehemiah asked God to allow him to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and gates. Being the cup bearer to the Persian king was not a job that you could just step away from and keep your head on your shoulders. It was not as if you could just ask the king for a paid vacation or sick leave.

Nehemiah prayed and asked God to open the doors for him preparing the way. And so the king agreed to grant Nehemiah’s request and in addition also gave him rights to vast resources in the king’s forests. We are totally inadequate to accomplish any meaningful task in our own strength and with our own resources without first asking and recognizing God as the source of the works of our hands.

Soon Nehemiah was in Jerusalem quietly surveying the damage under the cover of night. He took his time to investigate and plan for a united attack on this massive building project. Nehemiah knew that the walls and gates could only be rebuilt if everyone worked together in unity. Neighbors working hand in hand with each other.

God is so good! I’m incredibly overjoyed to announce that right here in Alpine, through another modern day Nehemiah, another wall is being rebuilt. Through the sacrifice and hard work of many men, women and young adult volunteers the new Youth Center is thriving. Many kids are spending hours having fun and fellowship at the facility located at 2153 Arnold Way. Its a safe haven where young adults and teens can make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones while enjoying video games, billiards and basketball.

Lives are being changed and hearts healed as the adult volunteers supervise all teens and their activities. Everyone is learning to respect themselves while respecting others. There is an incredible united front of unity that exists as volunteers from many different organizations and churches come to join hands and help build lives. Just as in Nehemiah’s day there is a mountain of work to be done. The Youth Center only exists because of donations from its gracious donors. Won’t you be a Nehemiah and help build up the wall for the youth of Alpine?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Every word, every letter, every punctuation on the pages of the Bible are all there by God’s design. Ezra and Nehemiah chronicled the times when the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord and city walls.  70 years before them Daniel was taken captive and hauled away from Jerusalem to Babylon. Daniel grew up in a foreign land, with foreign customs but did not once forsake the God of his forefathers. Daniel ate well, worked hard and never compromised his relationship with the one, true and living God.

Daniel spent most of his adult life in Babylon. He brought with him sacred scrolls from Jerusalem and had been reading from the scroll of Jeremiah. He knew from the text that Jeremiah had foretold that they would be in captivity for 70 years. Daniel was now in his 90’s and knew that their days of captivity were nearing an end.

Daniel was a man of prayer. On one such occasion he positioned himself with his face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed  iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.”

Now while Daniel was still praying, Gabriel, who he had seen in a vision, came flying swiftly to him and proclaimed “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” Daniel 9:24.

Gabriel outlined for Daniel, seventy weeks of years or 490 years that would determine the coming of the Messiah and the future time of tribulation. He went on to predict the time when the Messiah the Prince would present Himself to the world. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;  The street shall be built again , and the wall, even in troublesome times.” Daniel 9:25.

Recorded here in the book of Daniel is the date, in advance, of the Messiah’s first coming. Unfortunately for Daniel, at this point in time the command to rebuild Jerusalem had not yet been given. It would be some years later that Nehemiah would record the actual calendar reference “And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and the bread and gave it to the king.”  Nehemiah 2:1.

While serving the king bread and wine Nehemiah first prays then asks the king if he may journey to Jerusalem to rebuild it. The king grants Nehemiah’s request which is the trigger that starts the clock ticking in Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel.

The prophecy goes on to say “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;” Daniel 9:26.

If you do the math, account for different calendars, 173,880 days from the declaration of Artaxerxes calculates to April 6th, AD 32 which is the exact day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

This was the day the psalmist prophesied about “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O Lord!  O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” psalm 118:24-26. Jesus and His disciples sang this psalm as they left the Passover meal.

Zechariah wrote 520 years earlier “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9.

But after the 69 weeks were fulfilled, Gabriel told Daniel that the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself.” This was the crucifixion where He was cut off for us. Jesus died so that we can be forgiven.

This good news is too wonderful to ignore! Won’t you ask Jesus to be your Lord, King and Savior? Read, believe and ask Him into your heart and you will never be the same again! God is trying to reach you and today is the day of salvation! Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and God has raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Message in a bottle

I love the idea of sending a message in a bottle. I have always wanted to write something on a piece of plain white paper, roll it up, slip it into a bottle and let the ocean’s currents take it away to a far away land. Safe inside the confines of the glass bottle, the words would travel through time and vast oceanic expanses.  After many months or years, the bottle would wash up onto the shore and eventually into someone’s hands.

How exciting it would be to find that bottle and read the contents of the note contained inside. Now suppose the writer of the note was a President, a King or what if the message came from outside of our world, beyond time and space, wouldn’t you be interested in reading it?

 The fact is that we have a message just like that. The bible is a love letter from our Creator. What a treasure we have at our fingertips and what a tragedy if we never discover the wisdom contained inside. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16.

I talk to people who say they don’t believe in God. They give me all sorts of reasons for their lack of faith but basically it comes down to the absence of solid evidence. Although misguided, they are in good company. Even one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, said “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25.

There are many infallible proofs for God’s existence, all of which are found inside the pages of the bible. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. But unless we open and hear the word, the seeds of faith can’t be planted in our hearts. All faith takes is a seed, some water and some warm light from the Son.

Found near the end of the New Testament, is the book of Hebrews. Chapter eleven is called the “Hall of faith”. There in verse 1 we find the definition of faith “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  It’s also said that without faith it’s impossible to please God. 

 We’re told Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by offering up a lamb from the flock. God had instructed that our sin can only be covered up with blood. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”.  Hebrews 9:22.

Noah who had never seen one drop of rain, by faith built an ark to God’s specifications and saved his household of eight. The only people who did not perish in the world wide deluge were the people who were safely on the ark. Once they were inside, it was God who shut the door and condemned the entire lost world outside.

On faith Abraham left his homeland and journeyed to a land he had never seen before. Even when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, Abraham obeys and witnesses grace and mercy as God delivers Isaac from certain death by providing a ram caught in the thicket. Later on, it would happen that on that very same mountain, Moriah, God would provide His one and only son to become our sacrifice.

So God did send us a message but it was not hidden inside of a bottle. Instead, He carefully inspired men to record ahead of time foretelling what was going to happen in the future. Then through the blood of many martyrs, the books were canonized, published and distributed worldwide.

One day Jesus will return as the King of kings and the Lord of lords to shepherd His people and put an end to sin. At that time all of us who have put our trust in Him, will rejoice as the Lamb of God takes the scroll and breaks its seals, redeeming the earth.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”