Monday, February 12, 2018


Dear friends and readers,

"PEACE BE UNTO YOU!  These words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to His Apostles/Disciples just after His resurrection from the dead. Recorded in the book of John chapter 20 verse 19, His immediate followers were gathered together in an upper room in Jerusalem and the doors were shut (presumably also locked) because they were afraid of the Jews. One moment they were alone and the next Jesus was standing in their midst. Then He breathed on them and said "RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT".

The text does not clearly tell us whether Jesus simply appeared to them from thin air or if He was able to walk through a solid wall (as most people assume today). Really it is less important than the fact that Jesus came to His disciples when they needed Him most. When they were obviously confused, rattled  and afraid.

I marvel at the entire event. Imagine these very men walking with Him during His physical ministry upon this earth. They saw Him raise the dead, restore vision to the blind, heal the sick, drive leprosy from unclean people and a veritable plethora of absolutely impossible signs and wonders never before seen by mankind. They absolutely believed that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, that He was the Son of God and also that He was God in human form. We must remember that the Jewish people had been praying for the advent of their Messiah for literally eons. But there is evidence to suspect that the Jewish religious leadership viewed the Messiah as a political and military leader sent by God and that He would subjugate the Roman legions and sit upon His throne as King of Israel. But that is not what they got. Instead they received a Lamb on a journey to save all mankind who would place their faith and trust in Him. They expected a Lion but  received a Lamb. I can understand their confusion.

There was not then nor is there now an understanding among many Jewish people (except for the Messianic church) that the Messiah would come twice. Once as a Lamb as demonstrated in Isaiah chapter 53 (the suffering servant passages) and that He would also come a second time as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Although it must be recognized that in the days of Jesus first advent, John had not yet recorded the events of the final days in the book of Revelation. Also The only real mention of JUDAH in connection to a LION is recorded in Genesis 49:9-10 ("Judah is a Lions whelp------"). There was little if any concept in those days of Lamb and Lion theology.

So here they were at the time of Jesus arrest and subsequent death on the cross of Calvary. Even though Jesus had told them what was in His immediate future, they were shocked beyond belief when the very person they placed all their confidence in was now dead. These guys were afraid, confused and perhaps even a bit bitter. Then Mary Magdalene discovers that Jesus is no longer in the tomb and she actually sees and speaks to this previously dead man, and then she tells the disciples that Jesus is really alive. Please picture that scene and ask yourself how you would handle that kind of information overload? That same night you are locked in a room petrified and confused and suddenly Jesus appears among you? He not only breathes the Holy Sprit upon you but did something always thought impossible for mankind. He gave you the power and the authority to forgive sin. That act alone would have been blasphemous among the Jewish religious leadership because until then ONLY GOD could forgive sin.

World changing events to be certain! I seriously doubt that our generation has experienced anything even close to what Peter, John and the guys did during those events. But now here we are---our generation,  in what may be a lead up to the very end of the end times. There are some really scary things happening in the world these days ranging from another developing cold war, to a Middle East in full melt down, threats of trade wars, a wildly erratic stock market, long standing wars that have now consumed 7 Trillion dollars in 17 years, new and terrifying nuclear threats and the list goes on and on.

For those of us who are followers of Christ, the question is how do we handle it all? You know I have been asked by a very sweet young wife if she and her husband should even consider having children? Others are worried about investments or retirement accounts. Health issues, family problems, loss of loved ones and once again the list goes on and on.

Some find their consolation in the up coming rapture of the church although truth be told no one actually knows when that will take place or even if it will happen during our physical lifetime. Some find assurance through the Word of God and their church fellowship. A great thing to do by the way.  But in the back of the mind of many is the thought that tomorrow is so dangerously uncertain. How should we proceed? Maybe that sweet young wife has a point?

For me, I have come to the point in life that no matter what happens I do not question God's supremacy over all world events. Nothing is a surprise to Him! That does not mean I am not concerned about disturbing world events because I am.

An example: Many times in my church we have prayed for the sick according to scripture and had the absolute pleasure in seeing some of those people walk away healed. Others were not. I don't question that because God is sovereign and I am not. Many times I have prayed for something for a person but God has answered in unexpected ways. I don't question that because He is sovereign and I am not. I simply do not blame God for anything (which many Christians regrettably do) and I do not second guess Him.

That gives me a kind of peaceful liberty in this world that many do not have. For me,  along with the faith to know that He is in absolute charge, comes the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). And I think that I also understand a bit about how the original Apostles and followers of Christ must have felt when He stood among them in the upper room and said "PEACE BE UPON YOU". I find solace in Paul's words in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 verse 13 "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong". And also his words to the Ephesians while speaking of the armor of God in chapter 6 verse 13 when he tells them that when they have done all that they can, "withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND"!

Easy for me to say? Lest you think I am some sort of spiritual giant, nothing could be further from the truth. I am a father of a handicapped child, the husband of a wonderful wife and we live in what some people still refer to as a third world country. I have concerns and fears just like anyone else. There are drugs, there is violence, there is crime just like in most countries of the world today. My position as a pastor requires me to handle death, sick babies, divorce, arguments, rumors and all sorts of unpleasant problems and drama commonly experienced among mankind (good stuff to by the way).

No, I am just a man who has CHOSEN to believe the Bible and every single word that is printed in it. I CHOOSE to depend upon my God who says to me "FEAR NOT, I AM with you always, even to the end of the age". I don't have to understand why things happen the way they often do. I just CHOOSE to accept that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ really is God and that He really is in control. Including in charge of my life, my sons life, my wife's life, my friends lives and my congregations lives. I choose to stand. I choose to have faith in someone much greater than I.

Just a normal everyday guy who CHOOSES to know for certain that nothing in this life or in the events of the world today are a surprise to the God who created me.

That is the only consolation I can offer to anyone reading this who is afraid or even extremely concerned about dangerous events in todays world. Me too!

God bless,
Pastor Rance.

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