St. Valentine’s Day: The Real Story


Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about, right? Well, maybe not. Did you know this day actually commemorates the day Valentine was executed by the Roman Empire for merely performing marriages? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Please read on.

The actual origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t really romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an Emperor called Claudias II (2nd Century A.D.) who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive Roman society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them in spite of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius II. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.” Legend has it that countless others were converted to Christianity as a result of Valentine’s imprisonment.

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a most cruel three-part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this inspirational Christian saint.

“Valentine has come to be known as the “patron saint of lovers.” Before you enter into a Christian marriage you need some sense of God in your life—some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.” Since marriage is so much more than a physical union, it’s a spiritual one, only God in Christ can help us love one another successfully, unselfishly, as God loves each of us. We have to have His help daily.

“If Valentine were here today, he would not be shocked at the moral permissiveness we have in our culture now, it was in his ancient Roman culture, as well. But, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer, your love is going to be tested. Ironically, he would say that real love is much more than chocolates and flowers. Real love doesn’t always receive, it has to give with no thought of receiving. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context,” Father O’Gara says. “Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine’s Day means to me.”

A Love That Listens to You


Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “listening is the mark of true love.” Nothing is more comforting to know that you are being heard and your feelings and opinions matter to the one who loves you. Being able to listen to others is a secret to lasting and healthy relationships be it friendship or marriage.

Our Heavenly Father is the cosmic Expert at listening to us. You’ll never find Him too busy to not hear us. In fact, He demonstrates His ongoing love for us by speaking through His Word and listening to our voice daily. It’s definitely a two-way street. But beyond the words we utter, our Heavenly Father hears the hurt in our spirit. He keenly senses the frustration and confusion of our soul. He knows exactly what we are thinking long before we even think it. That is an awesome Listener, if you ask me.

You’ll never find a better listener, in this life, than the Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of the fact that He is the greatest Being in the entire universe, He will never put you on hold or send your prayer request off in a distant voicemail. In addition, He not only hears us, but He also walks with us. Because of the love relationship He initiated from the cross, God is not content to just hear us, He desires to walk with us through the valleys and the mountaintops of our life. Even when we are not on our best behavior, when thoughts and words come out of us that should never, Jesus won’t refuse to hear us. You’ll never find a greater, more patient listener then Him. He responds to us like a cherished Lover who longs for us to know how very much He cares and loves us beyond our wildest dreams!

Since you are deeply loved by God Himself, please take that as a “motivational incentive” to pour your heart out to Him today and tomorrow and every day of the rest of your life! Your Creator and Redeemer loves to hear from you.

A Good Name in Today’s Scandalized Culture


Friends, if you are getting bone weary of all the chronic sexual assault allegations and cringe-worthy stories, coming out every day, you are not alone. The #MeToo campaign is shining a spotlight on widespread misogynistic behavior, ranging from unprofessional to full-scale assault.

As overwhelming as this feels, it pales in comparison to the shattered lives of victims. From Hollywood, to even some religious organizations, sensational scandals are becoming a regular segment in today’s newsfeed.

Indeed, this #MeToo movement is upending many of our institutions. TIME magazine announced “The Silence Breakers” as their 2017 Person of the Year. Oprah Winfrey drew widespread praise for her speech at the Golden Globes earlier this week, proclaiming, “The time is up” for sexual harassers.

Most of this is actually good news. These stories are finally coming out of the dark.

As Christians, we know we cannot separate our morality and ethics from our faith. Additionally, we simply cannot ignore the eye-opening stories of these abused victims, even if we find ourselves mentally numbed by the sheer quantity. The church must lead, not merely follow along, in support of all who have endured abuse, neglect, and injustice. If we don’t we will find ourselves at the mercy of the allegations of certain far-left, extreme-liberal, special interest leaders and groups who are more concerned with getting personal media publicity than for getting true justice for all the victims. We should care.

In light of the darkness, now being revealed, we who follow Christ seek to live our lives “above reproach,” or “above the criticism” of the unchurched in the world. We must abandon this erroneous thinking of”secular/sacred” categories, some would have us fall into, where religion is to be limited to “a privatized pursuit.” Jesus Christ is not only Lord of the church, “He is Lord of all” and His Lordship graciously encompasses our entire life. I don’t have to have a “Praise the Lord” bumper sticker on my car, and drive like Mario Andretti, or rudely bludgeon every sinner I encounter, in order to love God and encourage others to live for Him. Actions speak louder than words.

Truth is, “who” we really are and “what” we really believe is under the bright spotlight of those we work with, those we consider friends and those who cross our paths on a daily basis, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden,” said Christ. Nor, should it be. Clearly, if our faith is not worth living out, it’s not worth having.

The best news is that we are not religiously or slavishly bowing down to a cruel, cosmic, Sovereign Warlord who delights in destroying the lives He created. Our God mercifully humbled Himself, became a Man, in sheer undeserved compassion and love for you and I, to suffer the most atrocious Roman cross for a planet who would just as soon crucify Him to death than tolerate His very existence. Yet, the most phenomenal event in the history of mankind, still continues to boggle the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers, “Why would He die for me? Why….me?”

Considering all that, the very last thing I want to do is bring shame or disgrace to the name of Christ. “Will I make mistakes?” Yes. “Guess what?” So will you. No big surprise there. However, I’m convinced that if we seek true authenticity or “to be real” in today’s scandalized culture, we will not ignore the victims of abuse, nor we will be an accessory to the fact of America’s continuing unraveling of ethics, decency and respect for ourselves, as well as others. If we are going to be “talked about,” let others see us as an “inspirational example,” not the butt of a late night show comic joke.

By the grace of God, I am not interested in ‘hiding in the dark’ with my faith. I am laying my good name and reputation on the line daily in order to serve God and the church, who are, my brothers and sisters around the world. But, I am not alone, so are you. That is why I always sincerely pray for my friends, on a daily, basis, for this very reason.

Thank you kindly for your ongoing prayers that my good name will continue to stay untarnished in a world full of hate from those whose primary desire is to make us Christians look like the hypocrites we are not because, “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches”

David Crews

Upcoming ‘Passion of the Christ’ Sequel to Be Biggest in the History of Films: Says Director Mel Gibson

(Photo: Passion of the Christ from Twentieth-Century Fox)

A sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” about the crucifixion of Jesus is reportedly in the works and will be the biggest movie ever created, an actor told USA Today.

Jim Caviezel, 49, who will reprise the role of Jesus, gave few details about the film, but made the prediction because the movie will be “that good.”

“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” said Caviezel, who also said he was inspired by Gibson. “It’s great. Stay tuned.”

Gibson told USA Today in 2016, “The Resurrection. Big subject. Oh, my God. We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”

Upon its release, “The Passion of the Christ” was the highest-grossing R-rated film in North America, generating $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.

Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was the highest-grossing R-rated film in North America upon its release, generating $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.

Gibson said in an interview last year that the film is going to focus on the Resurrection.

“Of course, that’s a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don’t want to just do a simple rendering of it — you know, read what happened,” the actor added.

“Passion of the Christ” screenwriter Randall Wallace told The Hollywood Reporter that “there’s a lot more story to tell.”

Caviezel, who hasn’t acted in a biblical film since then, will portray Luke in “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” slated for a March 28 release.

Joy More Contagious Than the Winter Flu


Joy More Contagious Than the Winter Flu

“Joy is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.” 

Everyone is looking for joy. Marketing companies know this. Every commercial promises the same product: joy. Want some joy? Buy our hand cream. Want some joy? Sleep on this mattress. Want some joy? Eat at this restaurant, drive this car, wear this dress. Every commercial portrays the image of a joy-filled person. Even Preparation H. (LOL) Before using the product, the guy frowns and squirms in his chair. Afterwards, he is the image of joy.

Joy. Everyone wants it. Everyone promises it. But can anyone deliver it? It might surprise you to know that joy is a big topic in the Bible. Simply put: God wants his children to be joy-filled. Just like a father wants his baby to laugh with glee, God longs for us to experience a deep-seated, deeply rooted joy.

The joy offered by God joy is different than the one promised at the car dealership or shopping mall. God is not interested in putting a temporary smile on your face. He wants to deposit a resilient hope in your heart. He has no interest in giving you a shallow happiness that melts in the heat of adversity. But he does offer you a joy: a deep-seated, heart-felt, honest-to-goodness, ballistic strong sense of joy that can weather the most difficult of storms.

Peter referred to this joy in the opening words of his epistle.

“Though you have not seen him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”
(I Peter 1:8-9 ).

Who was Peter addressing when he spoke of unspeakable joy? He was speaking “To God’s chosen people who are away from their homes and are scattered all around the countries of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Pet. 1:1). Peter was speaking to persecuted Christians–people who had been driven from their cities, separated from their families. Their rights had been taken. Their property had been taken. Their possessions had been taken. Their futures had been taken, but their joy had not been taken. Why? Go back to Peter’s Epistle again- this time in another translation: “You have never seen Jesus and you don’t see him now. But still you love him and have faith in Him” (I Pet. 1:8). The source of their joy? Jesus! And since no one could take their Jesus, no one could take their joy.

What about you? What has been taken from you? Your health? Your house? Have you buried a dream? Have you buried a marriage? Buried a friend? As you look at these burial plots of life, is your joy buried there, too?

If so, you may have substituted courageous joy for contingent joy. Contingent joy is “IF  joy.” It always dependent upon a circumstance. Contingent joy says I’ll be happen when…or…I’ll be happy if. I’ll be happy when I have a new house or a new spouse. I’ll be happy when I’m healed or when I’m home. Contingent joy depends upon the right circumstance. Since we cannot control every circumstance, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Envision the person who buys into the lie of contingent joy. As a young person they assume, if I get a car, I’ll be happy. They get the car, but the car wears out. They look for joy elsewhere. If I get married, I’ll be happy. So they get married, then disappointed. The spouse cannot deliver. This goes on through a series of attempts. If I get the new job… if I can retire… If we just had a baby. In each case, joy comes, then diminishes.

By the time this person reaches old age, he has ridden a roller coaster of hope and disappointment. He becomes sour and fearful. Contingent joy turns us into wounded people.

Courageous joy, however, turns us into strong people. Courageous joy sets the hope of the heart on Jesus and Jesus alone. Since no one can take your Christ, no one can take your joy. It’s supernatural. It’s not of this world. It’s a gift from God and the birthright of every born again child of God.

Think about it. Can death take your joy? No, because Jesus is greater than death.

Can failure take your joy? No, because Jesus is greater than your sin.

Can betrayal take your joy? No, because Jesus will never leave you.

Can sickness take your joy? No, because God has promised– whether on this side of the grave or the other–to heal you.

Can disappointment take your joy? No, because though your plan may not work out, you know God’s plan will.

Death, failure, betrayal, sickness, disappointment. They cannot take your joy, because they cannot take your Jesus. And Jesus promised, “No one will take away your joy” (Jn. 16:22).

Is that to say your life will be storm-free? Is that to say no sorrows will come your way? No. “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Is that to say you will never cross the drylands of sorrow? No. But that is to say your sorrow will not last forever; “Your grief will turn to joy” (Jn. 16:20).

Courageously joyful people have done the same. They have anchored their hearts to the shoreline of God. Will the boat rock? Yes. Will moods come and go? No doubt. But will they be left adrift on the Atlantic of despair? No, for they have found a joy which remains courageous through the storm. And this courageous joy is quick to become a contagious joy.

Christians of the New Testament church were not known for their buildings or denominations or programs. They were known for their joy. “They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. They praised God and were liked by all people” (Acts 2:46-47).

The early Christians were joyful Christians. In fact you might argue that there is no other type. In the purest sense, the phrase joyful Christian is redundant. We shouldn’t need the adjective. We don’t put the word dead in front of cadaver or wet in front of water or handsome in front of David (Just kidding.) Ideally, we shouldn’t have to put joyful in front of Christian.

But we do. We do because we tend to major in contingent joy and not courageous joy. But God can change that.

Assess your joy level right now: Are you joyless? Do you spread more pessimism than you do hope? If so, God can help you. Grimness is not a Christian virtue.

Believe that joy is possible!

Don’t give in to despair. What Jesus said to his followers, he says to you. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).

Be open to the possibility of a joy from heaven. Joy may be elusive, but it is never gone. Sometimes it just takes some work.

Anxiety thrives in the petri dish of if only. It doesn’t survive in the world of already. For that reason, treat each anxious thought with a grateful one.

Take a moment and follow Jesus example. Look at your blessings. The Bible says, “For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame…”

Do you see any friends? Family? Do you see any grace from God? Love of God? Do you see any gifts? Abilities or talents? Skills?

As you look at your blessings, take note of what happens. Sorrow grabs his bags and slips out the back door. Unhappiness refuses to share a heart with gratitude. One heartfelt thank you will suck the oxygen out of its world. So say it often.

Who is to say God won’t give the same to you? Why don’t you call out to Him?

Ask God, “Lord, what is separating me from joy? What have I allowed to steal the fullness of my joy I should be experiencing from You?”

Ask Him to replace your contingent joy with courageous joy. Ask Him to help you anchor to the firm rock on his shoreline. Ask Him to show you the joy that cannot be taken. He will. He will stir a revival of contagious joy in your heart.

California Rocked by Three Earthquakes in One Day, Scientists Expect More to Come in 2018


Kristin Hugo, Newsweek Magazine
January 25, 2018

Three earthquakes hit California on Thursday, one as far south as Trabuco Canyon and a second all the way up to a spot off the coast of Eureka, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

A third earthquake struck near Lytle Creek, California, registering a 2.5 on the Richter scale. Trabuco Canyon, which is close to Lytle Creek, registered 4.0. Both cities are near Los Angeles.

The northernmost earthquake, closest to Eureka, registered a 5.8 on the Richter scale. However, because it hit 100 miles off the coastline, the vibrations were not as strong when they reached land. ABC7 reports that residents of Ferndale, California, in Humboldt County, felt the earthquake, but there are currently no reports of damage or injuries.

Picture: California from above. The state was rocked by earthquakes on Thursday. NASA

According to the USGS, when the earthquake hit at 8:39 a.m., the ripples of seismic activity reached from the southern coast of Oregon to nearly Ukiah, California, about 400 miles away.

Over the past seven days, California has experienced 15 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater up and down the state, including two that hit off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.

Many of the tremors occurred near or along the San Andreas fault, where tectonic plates shift along the western edge of the state. The San Andreas fault is known to be particularly prone to earthquakes, and scientists believe that it will someday rock the state with “The Big One.

Smaller earthquakes often precede bigger ones, but it’s hard to say whether this activity is indicative of a bigger earthquake to come, and if so, when.

Underwater seismic activity can sometimes cause tsunamis, which can cause major destruction when they reach land. The National Tsunami Warning Center tweeted that the earthquake off the coast of Northern California is not expected to cause a tsunami.

The California coast is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an area where there are an abnormal number of underwater volcanoes. Made up of the Pacific coastline of the U.S., Asia and the Pacific Islands, this area is prone to earthquakes.

Scientists predict that 2018 will be a particularly bad year for earthquakes. On Thursday, an even bigger earthquake registering a 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Japan.

Earthquakes in Biblical Literature

Earthquakes and other cataclysmic events often carry theophanic significance in Scripture, demonstrating God’s awesome power. At Mount Sinai the LORD’s presence was indicated by smoke and the shaking of the mountain (Exod. 19:18; cf. 1 Kings 19:1151 ; Ps. 68:8; Job 9:6; Hab. 3:6). When the New Testament church prayed “the place where they had gathered together was shaken” and the Spirit’s presence was manifested (Acts 4:31). Paul and Silas were freed when God’s power and presence was manifested in an earthquake (Acts 16:26). The most unusual earthquakes were associated with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. When Christ died on the cross, an earthquake shook the temple and rent the curtain of the temple from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). No human agency rolled away the stone that sealed Christ’s tomb; it was the angel in the presence of the earthquake (Matt. 28:2).

More specifically, many seismic theophanies are manifestations of God’s anger and righteous judgment (cf. 1 Sam. 14:15; Ps. 18:7,8; Isa. 5:25; 13:13; 29:6; Joel 3:16; Amos 1:1,2; 8:7,8; Mic. 1:3-7; Nah. 1:5,6; Hag. 2:6, 21). The Day of the LORD is the most elaborate judgment motif of Scripture. That day is without fail marked by earthquakes and associated celestial disturbances (Isa. 2:19, 21; 13:13; 24:18; 29:5-6; Ezek. 38:19-22; Joel 2:10; Zech. 14:4, 5). For example, Isaiah’s description of the destruction of Babylon has cosmic overtones:

“Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble,
. . . And the earth will be shaken from its place
At the fury of the LORD of hosts
. . . In the day of His burning anger.” (Isa. 13:13).

Yet during the awesome shakedown of heaven and earth, “The LORD will have compassion on Jacob” (Isa. 14:1), and all creation will recognize God’s working (Isa. 14:3-8). When Israel is attacked by the armies of Gog, those armies are demolished at the decree of the LORD by earthquake and cosmic hailstones (Ezek. 38:17-23). Zechariah is even more explicit about the extraordinary geologic upheaval in the Holy Land associated with the Day of the LORD. A final earthquake at the LORD’s return will split the Mount of Olives, uplift Jerusalem on its site, and depress the surrounding Judean Mountains (Zech. 14:1-10).

Earthquakes are also associated with God’s self-revelation in the eschatology of the book of Hebrews (Heb. 12:25-29). The author warns his readers not to refuse to heed the God who speaks as he spoke at Sinai (“And His voice shook the earth then,” Heb. 12:26; cf. Exod. 19:18). The author then passes through history from Sinai to the promise of a great cosmic upheaval of the end time (“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven,” Heb. 12:26; cf. Hag. 2:6). God’s ultimate purpose is to give believers “a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28) so that the faithful, having perceived his extraordinary power, can “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28).

Such passages provide the eschatological backdrop for the book of Revelation, where earthquakes are symbols of God’s final judgment upon the earth. They appear as climactic judgments throughout the book, producing terror, awe and destruction among the earth’s inhabitants. Five earthquakes are described. These are at the opening of the sixth and seventh seals (6:12; 8:5), just before and after the seventh trumpet (11:13, 19), and during the seventh bowl (16:18). This last earthquake is identified as the greatest ever on earth (16:18), splitting Jerusalem into three parts and destroying the cities of the nations.

Although demonstrating the awesome power and presence of God, these passages do not necessarily indicate an increase in earthquakes in the present age, but a greater severity of the earthquakes when they do happen. For those who follow the Book of Revelation, the worst earthquakes occur during the Great Tribulation, not before it. They are not the sole precursors to the Day of the LORD, but evidence of its imminent presence.

Jesus Talks About Signs of His Return  

Our primary concern is with the first part of the discourse, where Jesus warns against being deceived by false Christs or being alarmed at wars, rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matt. 24:4-8)

Eschatological Birth Pains

Jesus’ statement suggests an increase in famine and earthquake activity is the final clause, “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (hwdíneß)” (Matt. 24:8). Because birth pains begin small and then increase in intensity and frequency, this passage could be interpreted to mean that earthquakes will start small and infrequent and gradually increase. When they reach their greatest severity and frequency, they will give birth to the new age.

The image of eschatological birth pains was not new with Jesus, but was a common one in Jewish apocalyptic and later rabbinic writings. The “Messianic woes” or “birth pains of the Messiah” referred to a period of suffering that would immediately precede the coming of the Messianic age. The primary conceptual significance of this image was that the pain would not only increase in intensity, but also the present period of suffering would be followed by the joy of new birth (i.e., salvation and restoration). Pain will give way to rejoicing for those who persevere and keep their faith to the end.

The Apostle Paul uses the birth image elsewhere to illustrate the abruptness of the arrival of the Day of the LORD. It will be unexpected “like a thief in the night” and “like labor pains” on a pregnant woman (1 Thes. 5:2,3). Paul’s two images are reminiscent, of course, of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:8,43,44). Obviously, Paul is not saying here that we can predict our Lord’s appearance by noting precursor birth pains, but that the very occurrence of them should serve as “cosmic reminders” that God is bringing our world to a climatic end and a new beginning in which all creation will be totally restored, renewed and resurrected to a glory even greater it’s original divine design. When Heaven literally comes to earth one day (Revelation 21:1-8), it will eclipse in grandeur, beauty and eternal brilliance even the untouched pristine loveliness of the Garden of Eden, as the Scriptures teach.

Jesus’ statement, “all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matt. 24:8), has been understood to imply that pain would increase steadily in time. The birth image associated Jesus made here precedes Paul’s understanding of creation’s pain (Romans 8:18-25) is that earth’s pain will grow steadily worse and the present period of suffering will provoke an eager longing for the new birth and the consummation of the coming age. The author of Hebrews sees a similar hope, anticipating a future “sign” of increasing earthquake activity with the coming of a sudden cosmic cataclysm producing a “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28).

This is precisely why Jesus clearly encourages us to “not be alarmed” at these worldwide phenomenal happening now. We should, however, be reminded that we must be prepared for His return, or our death, because neither is known by anyone except God. We must live lives of “intentional purpose” where we seek to glorify God in all we do. He is the One who controls what happens, when it happens, how it happens. Living with a healthy fear and respect of the Almighty is just good wisdom, not only for our temporal lives on earth, but our eternal existence, when our lives here are over.

This is crucial for us to recognize and understand, for while these things may be terrifying, they are also signs that Jesus is coming. His people should not faint with fear but instead look up in hope and joy that His return is imminent. This earthquake activity is also proof positive of the words of the Bible as we see the prophecies unfold.

So do not fear earthquakes. Do not tremble at the thought of these things, but correctly perceive them for what they are; cosmic signs from God that our world has a rendezvous with destiny. Rather than be in fear, look up in hope knowing your salvation is more near at hand than you and I actually perceive today. The Lord has given His people many signs so that they can stop, assess and consider how to be ready for His return. Earthquakes are compelling and powerful signs that He is bringing His work to completion. Our role is to listen to and heed the warnings so that we are prepared. In the end, we will either be prepared and blessed forever or not prepared and eternally regretful on a dreadful scale beyond the worst adjectives of human language.

To be sure, the church has suffered from enough embarrassment by sincere, but sadly mistaken television prophecy teachers that try and set dates for an apocalypse. I personally cringe every time I run across a wild-eyed, frenzied preacher, teacher or writer that abuses Scripture to try and sell their books. The truth of the Bible, as it is written, is sensational and jarring enough without us needing to add anything to it. “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Granted, when we tolerate unbelief and sin in our lives, it has a mysterious way of making us insensitive to God and giving us a scary false sense of security that is not only deceptive but extremely risky, especially in the unpredictable world we live in today where we never know what may happen next. We must always live with a “sense of alertness.” God created us for more than just pleasure, more than just paying bills and dying. He created us to live for Him as we allow Him to live in and through us.

The Apostle Paul neatly sums up what he means by “alert living” in his words to the Christians at Rome:

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:11-14)

My friends, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I pray it has spoken to your heart in a special way that will encourage you to seek God. Please know that I pray for all of you daily that God would impart His supernatural grace you need to not only be blessed, but to grow in your knowledge, love and obedience to Christ.

Please feel free to share this blog with your friends or family. We welcome all.

Until next time, may the Lord bless you, keep you, make His favor shine upon you and give you His peace! 

David Crews, Ph.D. 




Deeper Than the Deepest Ocean

3d06055663be44f3828b322f75a3e139Someone once wrote, “God’s love for us is like the ocean, we can see only the surface, but we cannot perceive it’s great depth.” 

“Love”…. is a word carelessly tossed about today in many movies, books, and the internet. Sadly, it’s real identity continues to be obscured. In many ways, it’s been trashed by so many attempts to use it describe just about anything a company can possibly market. However, in Christ,  we see God radically redefining love to be “cross-shaped” rather than our cultural “heart-shaped” images.

To be sure, we learn that it is only in Christ where “love” losses it’s confusing cultural baggage but gains a cosmic, pristine beauty which takes everything we think we know about love to new, dizzying, heights of heavenly glory reserved only for those who deeply long to experience love “on a whole, new level.” Growing in Christ means growing in the love of God. (I Corinthians 13), the famous love chapter, strips the common misnomers away from our minds the more we seek after God and reorient our lives to His will, as followers of Christ today.

How wonderful is this love that brings healing instead of the typical hurt from shattered relationships that leave us broken! From the hopelessly saccharin overtones of the secular world’s attempt to personify love, God turns all that on it’s head, and shows us that it isn’t saccharin, but sacrifice that underlines the greatest love a human being can ever know.  As God opens our eyes to His holy love, the way we see everything and everybody in our world suddenly deepens, enriches and adds a dimension of color we never knew existed before. We become warmly “embraced” by His magnificent love which transcends all rational explanation, confounding the critics, but cherished as a priceless treasure to those fortunate, blessed ones who simply cannot dispute it’s reality because they experience it everyday.

Yet, a supernatural miracle begins to take place, once God brings us to the cross of Christ; His love “informs” our very being and we slowly begin to see our love for Him and others “transformed” by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Interestingly, as we continue to seek God, through His Word and resolve to do His will in our lives, we become increasingly “conformed” God’s cross-shaped sacrificial, unconditional love. It is there that the unbelieving cynical, postmodern world, which seeks to dismiss God as incredibly irrelevant, begins to sit up and take notice at God’s kindness, mercy and compassion flowing out of us to others for no other reason except God’s own glory. Clueless and confused as most are, it never ceases to grab their attention if for no other reason than it’s highly observable contrast to everything else which seeks to call itself “love.”

Is there anything more needed in a world today with a bone-chilling lack of respect for others? In a world where people are pre-judged by Twitter tweets and social media, often cruelly, could anything be more important than the understanding and spread of real love for others? In a world more concerned with dramatic showboating of one’s cause, whether it be feminism, racism or political ploys, than with demonstrating a selfless concern for others who differ in their views, will we ever know what love is, much less be able to experience it?

Good questions for a world and a nation, like America, at this hour in history when violence, mass-shootings and continued sexual allegations dominate our headlines. I believe that we have proven to ourselves there is no hope for hope outside of the God of all hope; the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to clearly show us how our Creator God defines the one thing we humans think we have already; real love.  Probably, the most visible picture of selfless love is seen in the undying devotion of a loving mother towards her child. Yet, as beautiful as that is, it desperately fails to encompass the absolute perfection and depth of God’s eternal love for us seen in and through the giving of the life of His only Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, where can we start? At His cross. When we realize we have caused God more trouble and heartache than others have toward us, forgiveness, patience and peace will fill us with the same mercy God has shown toward us. It is only when we see “our sin” on “His Son” that Christianity unveils it’s true identity; not as a religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus. This is what we need to grasp. This is who He wants us to become. This is Who He is; love, unconditional, unearned, undeserved and unusual in a world that feels it can do without it. This love heals our deepest hurts and saves us from ourselves. Best of all, He is extending that same love to you, right now, who have never known it or wish to know it for yourselves deeper than ever before.

Dive into His ocean of love today! But, don’t ever expect to find bottom. His love is eternally bottomless and immediately available. The Water is perfect. 

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (I John 4:10)