LEGENDARY LOVE – LOVE is not a four letter word.

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Love… is actually a nine letter combination of two words. Agab and Agape the two most important and defining words of love known to man. They are the words that God used to define what love is. He not only used words but He also showed us what these words meant by actions.

AGAB is Hebrew for love. It means to “breath after”. I have to say that when I heard this definition of love, it caught in my throat. You see, I know what it means to be physically required to breath after someone and it is earthshaking. When I was diving in Cozumel a number of years ago, I was at about 70 feet below the surface and I ran out of air. This is not a good thing to have happen anytime but at 70 feet below the water, if you ascend to quickly you could die or become permanently disabled due to the “bends”.

So as a trained diver, you always dive with a “buddy”. As part of your dive training you learn to do what is called “Buddy Breathing”. You approach your buddy and signal to them that you are out of air. You grab ahold of their buoyancy compensator and they grab ahold of yours – so you don’t float apart. They take a deep breath and then hand you their regulator. You literally breath after them.

You have to trust them with your life. They have to trust you with theirs as well.

This is the picture of what it means to be breath after someone in a love relationship. You depend on them for your very next breath and they depend on you for the same thing. If one partner hogs the air… the other will die (the relationship dies). You can’t make it on your own either… IF your partner dies at depth and they were the ones supplying the air, you will never make it to the surface either.

God created love between a man and a woman. He designed it so that they would be this kind of close… this kind of intimate…. this kind of dependent upon one another. Completely equal – locked in a relationship – face to face, arm in arm – attached so closely that their entire lives are on display before the other. Nothing gets in between them. Nothing separates them.

This is the relationship that God designed for us with Him as well.

The second word is the Greek word for love – Agape. There are actually two words here… agape and agapao. One means a love feast and the other is to love with everything that we are and all that we have. Both are used in various situations but the concept is the same. To love is to serve and to give to the point that we have nothing left of our own and that we are then dependent upon the object of that love to resupply our needs – much like the Hebrew – to breath after.

This kind of love should drive out fear because it is real love – a deep abiding love that changes us from the inside out. It come to take up residence through the power of the Holy Spirit. It can turn two people that would never get along into life long partners. It can bring two that are headed for the divorce court into true and real reconciliation and restoration. It is what binds two people together for life – a life full of all that God has planned for them.

There is far more here and we will revisit this topic a little more from time to time. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

But just remember that love is not a four letter word, nor is it to be tossed around and used lightly, as this society has become apt to do… At its very best, it brought our Savior back from the dead and breathes life into us. We have been given that breath so that we can then be the very next breath for someone else, who will surely die without it. Perfect love drives our fear because it takes fear out of the equation all together.

AMEN!

Dr.Cliff Robertson, Jr.

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What is Amazing Grace?

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We have all heard the song. Most of us know it well. A major Christian recording artist has added verses to it…(Chris Tomlin – My Chains Are Gone). In fact, let’s listen to it now…

I remember one time, above all others, that I heard Amazing Grace, and my soul was moved to tears. It was the evening I heard two men playing those familiar notes with bagpipes. Ohhh, it was so beautiful. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Wait until the end, and we will play this version as well.

 

Yet, do we understand what the song truly means? I believe one way to understand what Amazing Grace really is, will be to look at the one who wrote it – John Newton. He wasn’t your typical hymn writer, for sure. The history of John Newton is interesting and colorful. He was drafted into the Royal Navy as a young man. In reality, he was forced to serve. 

 

He wasn’t one of those guys who really got along well with others. He was insubordinate to command, and consistently got in fights with fellow sailors. Because of his constant disruption, he spent time in the brig – a lot of time. When he wasn’t in the brig, the captain came up with a song that openly mocked him. The entire crew would sing:  “What are you going to do then… the next job is a very long swim???”

 

Eventually, his time of forced service was over.  His search to make decent wages then led him work for slave traders. This was a godless job. The enslaved men, women, and children were crammed into coffin-like quarters for weeks and sometimes months. The ship sailed across the sea from Africa,  to various trading outposts around the known world.

The lack of humanity on the ship began to trouble young John Newton, but he didn’t understand it all.

 

So one day… God helped him to understand. A terrible storm came upon the ship, and everyone aboard was certain that death was imminent. John did what many of us have done – he cried out to God for mercy. The ship was saved. While the ship was being repaired, John Newton began to write the song. The slave trading troubled him greatly. He wrote that the cries of the suffering captives would haunt him to no end. He began to seek Christ but … he couldn’t seem to give up this horrific job. The money was too good and he didn’t know what else he would do.

 

In fact, history tells us that it was 11 years later before he finally walked away from the slave ships. When he did, he began to study Christian Theology and write. He gave his life to God at sea, but it had taken him 11 years to truly turn from his past…

 

How many of us can testify to that? How many of can say, “I know Christ but my life still isn’t right?

 

To me, that is the definition of “Amazing Grace”…the grace we do not deserve. In fact it is defined in the New Testament as “unmerited favor”. To break that down even further, it means:  An Exception to the Rules We Do Not Deserve! You see, if John Newton had been judged and condemned by his actions for the eleven years after he was saved,  he would have been in trouble. Thankfully, God’s Amazing Grace forgave him. 

 

God knows we are going to miss the mark, mess up, and fall down. That’s why grace isn’t earned by our good works.  “It’s the gift of God lest any man should boast”.

 

We are even told that our best works – the ones we are the most proud of, are like filthy rags when compared to the work of God in our lives, and the perfect righteousness that He imparts to us. That’s grace, and it really is pretty amazing.

 

So the next time you sing Amazing Grace, think about how you have stumbled in the dark. Think about how lost you have been. Remember the story of the man who got it wrong most of his life. Even after he cried out for mercy, he still messed it up…but God  loved him nevertheless. God had a plan for John Newton’s life. He is still using the song John wrote to draw people nearer to Him, two hundred years after his death. 

 

To think… He will do that for you too!

Let the sound of the Scottish Bagpipes touch your soul…

The Hug Club Movement: Life Without Fear

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“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Rosa Parks

By Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne

Every Wednesday morning for the past few months I have seen the same patient around 7:00 a.m. I would bring her a sausage and egg McMuffin every morning and sometimes a fish sandwich in the afternoon – a violation of company rules.

The “rules” also tell me that I am not supposed to pick up her medications, not to disclose personal information, and to never give hugs to patients. But we all face moments in life in which we realize that rules no longer apply to present circumstances.

Nearly sixty years ago, on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, an African-American woman refused to follow the rules and orders of a bus driver demanding she gives…

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Priorites…

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In the past, my priorities were all about me. The world says, that’s ok. God’s word says something completely different  – We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Our priorities need to become “other’s focused”. With Christ as our example, who gave Himself for each us, we are called to do the same. For you, that may mean that you give someone an encouraging word. Maybe its more complicated than that… It really doesn’t matter… step out and your life can make a difference that matters.

So examine your priorities today. I have and have found them not meeting up with the standard that Christ set… So I vow to make a change. Will you join me?

Tragedy – How do we begin to understand

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Let me begin by saying that my heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of God at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We grieve with you.

I was asked by a friend to comment on this after she had read a response from a leading evangelist. I have to say that words are always hard to come by at times like this. Having been through the tragic loss of loved ones, I do have a grasp for what that looks and feels like – there is such a gut wrenching pain that is hard to imagine. Part of you is physically removed with a loss like this but it’s the tearing of the heart that leaves the deepest wounds. I know because I still bear those scars myself.

On the day that I lost my wife, I cried so hard that I didn’t think I would ever stop. I didn’t know how it all began or how to stop. Then a week later, the injuries from the same accident claimed my little girl. There are no words that adequately express it. Our language simply cannot do it justice and I have come to find that is really ok. I feel that if it could, then it would somehow lessen the gravity of it all. I find that true as we look upon the senseless loss of life in South Carolina.

So when I say I understand tragic loss – I truly do. But how do we, as Christians, reconcile this with a “good” God? Tough question, but one I think we are called to grapple with. If we look back over time and history, tragedy is not new. From the original fall, this world became a broken place. Not long after the original sin came the first human loss of life by murder. Could God have stopped it? If He could then why didn’t He?

It is my belief that we live in a broken world and we are told that broken things will continue to happen until Christ returns in Glory! It is then, and not until then, that every tear will be wiped away. Till we get there, God stores up our tears in a bottle.

In Isaiah 61:1, we are told that the Anointed One (Jesus Christ) will “bind up the broken-hearted….” This must mean that broken things are going to happen to break beauty-for-ashesour hearts. But why does it have to be that way – we ask??? When God gave man free-will, to choose His way or his own way, to love Him or to forsake Him, we become victims of a world that is hell-bent at killing themselves. The enemy, Satan, plants seeds and drives evil of every kind but man still has a choice. God says that when people reject Him, He gives them over to their own ways and it gets bad…. Like what happened in Charleston, South Carolina bad.

We cannot look to God and ask – Why did you do this???? with clinched fists because He didn’t do it. Man did – fallen man. Of course we can try to blame Him. Let me know how that works for you.

What we can trust is that God can take the worst of the worst and use it for good. God can use this situation to bring people to His throne of grace. I don’t know how He is going to do it but let me tell you a story. There was a young man in our church. He was an active and athletic boy that was into everything. Well one day he began to struggle and his parents took him to the doctor and they found out he had cancer. They did everything they could for him. If there was a medical option, it was explored – even the experimental stuff.

The young man continued to get worse but he didn’t seem to care because he knew where he was headed – heaven. You see, he had given his heart to Christ and heaven was his home. The witness of this young man to so many, including his own father, led them to salvation. But it didn’t stop there. When the young man finally passed away and the funeral was held, there were people who had never been to church that came to pay their last respects to this courageous young man. At this service his story was told and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Because of a funeral and the example of the man who was being laid to rest, many came to know Christ.

So you ask – how can God bring good out of a tragedy like cancer or this senseless murder of 9 people(I believe that number is right)? How can good come from something so horribly broken? I don’t know but I trust that God was not surprised by this and that He has a plan to bring beauty from these ashes. He has a history of doing exactly that and He will do it again.

If you are facing a personal tragedy or doubts – maybe this and other incident’s have shaken your faith to its very core – I want you to pray. I want you to ask God to help you see how He “works all things together for the good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) He will, if you ask in faith and trust Him.

This post may anger some and others may not understand. That’s ok. I respect how you feel. I pray that you will consider these words and listen to this song –

I Am Not Alone – Neither Are You!

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When we are at our lowest, God promises to be there. In the 23rd Psalm, David says,

“Tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they protect me.”

The song that is included in this post was written by a man acquainted with the valley of the shadow of death but not his own – His wife and little unborn child. Tommy Dorsey was leading the music at a revival south of his hometown Chicago when he got the telegram that his wife had died in childbirth.

He got home as soon as he could, only to find that the child had died as well. It broke Tommy in ways that few can get their arms wrapped around. He told everyone that he was walking away from God and leaving gospel music forever.

A few weeks later a friend came to visit him. He was worried about his grieving friend. So he went in and convinced him to take a drive with him. His friend was a Christian but he knew better than to begin preaching at Tommy. So he took him to a school and they walked into the music room. His friend walked over to the piano, Tommy Dorsey’s long time companion in writing literally thousands of gospel tunes. Tommy followed him and sat down on the piano bench.

He began to cry almost instantly. He opened the cover and began to play the tune that this post began with. He later recalled that it was like the Holy Spirit came to him in that moment and poured that song into him.

When we are in the valley of pain and loss, we can be assured that God knows it and is coming to lead us through it. If you are in the pit today know that you are not alone – God is there with you. Call out to Him and I know there are tears and pain now but He promises to wipe away all those tears. Listen and enjoy this next song and let it encourage you as well.

GOD’S MASTERPIECE: A SHOUT OUT TO THE GODLY MOM’S!

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HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! Somehow that sentiment doesn’t seem to be strong enough for how I feel about Mom’s. How about this – You Are God’s MVP’s and may He bless you richly with every spiritual blessing – AKA – Pour Out All That Heaven Has.

We all know the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus and the very real challenges she dealt with and walked through but what many of us may have missed is that her faithfulness is not an isolated incident. The Bible is full of Mom’s that did incredible jobs.

As we study the Old Testament, it becomes readily apparent that Godly Mom’s make a blog picture - living breaddifference in the lives of many. Here is an example that is repeated in Scripture –

“Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. HIS MOTHER’S NAME ALSO WAS JERUSHAH, THE DAUGHTER OF ZADOCK.” 2 Chronicles 27:1 (emphasis is mine)

In this male dominated society why was Mom mentioned here? It is a repeated theme throughout the Chronicles. WHY? I know the Mom’s that are reading this are screaming the answer right now but just bear with me, I am getting to the point – I promise.

This King was noted that,

“… he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord…” vs.2 154567026_6d96a13b5d_z

There is another example where a king had another Mom and things didn’t go so well.

“But when Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal seed of the house of Judah.” 2 Chronicle 22:10

SO what was the difference? Athaliah was the daughter of evil King Omri by way of Ahab and Jezebel. But the first Mom was the daughter of the chief priest – Zadock. One lived in Jerusalem and served God and the other came from a place that openly worshipped idols.

So Mom’s, your godly influence, the life you lead and the things you teach your children truly matter. They make a difference beyond what you could ever consider. King Jotham built up his city, won battles and made the country better than it was even under his fathers reign. His Mom made a difference in his life and therefore over 1 million people were directly impacted in a positive way. That is amazing –

YOU AREmom-care-02-pg-full AMAZING!

I am not saying that there won’t be some very dark times in the lives of your children. There are some, like me, that will make very poor choices along the way, but that godly example will be remembered and it will serve as a light house to guide us back home.

Some of you Mom’s and Dad’s may be saying that you have really messed things up. Trust me, I understand. My advice to you is that it is never too late to become the person God intended you to be. God can do more with your humble surrender, even late in life, than you think possible. I am telling you that it is not too late to make a difference in the life of your children, even if they are now adults. In fact, your transformation can be the thing that gives your family the hope they need to reunite and turn to God themselves.prayertime

This is something that has been on my heart for a while and I wanted to share it. So Godly Mom’s out there –

Let’s raise the roof with praise!

You are God’s Masterpiece(Ephesians 2:10), uniquely created to do a job that changes the world and helps us to see the beauty in the midst of a world full of ugliness, pain and depression. You are more important than any single day can commemorate. We love you more than words can say.  

Praise Him!

Cliff Robertson, Jr.

Guardian Angels – Are They Real?

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Do we really have “Guardian Angels”? Are they biblical? And if they are real, what exactly do they do? The Bible talks a great deal about angels and some of their activities. What inspired me to write about this topic is one of my favorite passages in the Bible – – Psalm 34:7

Someone Does Watch Over You!

Someone Does Watch Over You!

“The angel of the Lord encamps about around those that fear Him, and he delivers them.” NIV

So what does that mean? Well, if we put it into context with King Hezekiah, it’s pretty startling. He was having to deal with overwhelming odds. The King of Assyria had come with an army that had steamrolled the rest of the surrounding nations. They had in fact taken the Northern Territory of Israel into captivity. Hezekiah had no human army that could match this huge opposing force. So he did what all men of God should first – He prayed. But he didn’t pray by himself – he went to the prophet Isaiah and they prayed to God. God sent a message to the King by way of His prophet that basically said – I got this!

That next morning, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slaughtered by none other than – THE ANGEL OF THE LORD!

That is the kind of power you have with you. Not only does He promise you to have your back, God makes a special reference to our children – Jesus tells us,

among us“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father.” Matthew 18:10 KJV

I know for you parents out there, this is a special passage to you. I know that it is to me.

The Bible also tells us that –

“[Referring to angels] Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minster to those who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrew 1:14 KJV

SO they are indeed our guardians. One last thing, while all these beautiful pictures show angels with wings and flowing garments, that may not always be the case –

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”     Hebrews 13:2

So your angel may be your friend next door that you have to help out all the time or the beggar on the street that always looks you right in the eye. You know there is something about that person …. that’s different. He may have been sent by God to test and strengthen you in your walk through service to others. There is a song that speaks of one who says – “I’ll be the angel by your side….” Maybe we need to serve others like that was our primary mission in life – just like it is for our guardians.

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