Some artists or groups have accumulated such a vast collection of songs that their music identifies with a specific genre rather than mirror a classic secular band. Such is the case of Pillar, who is celebrating their 25th year in existence in 2023. Pillar’s past two and half decades of music can be best described as blending metal with rock and roll. I discovered Pillar in 2020 at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. While I get occasional vibes of Def Leppard and Twisted Sister, Pillar has its own distinct sound.
If I am detained, you may know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and stay (the prop and support) of the Truth, 1 Timothy 3:15.
One of my favorite Pillar songs is State of Emergency which capsulates the entire Covid-19 era in the United States. If you prefer metal over rock and roll, Pillar offers plenty of head banging songs like For the Love of the Game. Or if you want to slow it down to chill for a while, songs like Simply from the Where Do We Go from Here album should suffice. Listening to Pillar’s Greatest Hits Youtube may take longer than a week, but I pray that Pillar’s sound reaches those who enjoy this genre of music.
There are certain people that you’ll meet in life who always knew what they wanted to do in life and are living out their dream today. The rest of us changed our minds numerous times, ended up taking a full-time position in a field outside of your major in college and are currently living paycheck to paycheck. While some of you may have prospered during the Coronavirus Pandemic, many businesses, dreams and expectations that had for living an abundant life on earth have vanished, John 10:10.
Keep on asking and it will be given you; [f] keep on seeking and you will find; [g]keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened, Matthew 7:7-8.
Perhaps, 2023 has comes just in time for you to begin to pursue the passions within your heart, Jeremiah 29:11. Back in high school, I wanted to become a golf course architect. My parents helped by purchasing two different software programs which enabled me to place twenty of my designs onto a computer. Following an internship in Golf Course Design and Maintenance, I discovered that unless I was a famous professional golfer, no one cared about my designs and visions for future golf courses.
And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. 4 And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, 5 Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me [b]intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or[c]at the last she come and rail on me or[d]assault me or[e]strangle me. 6 Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says! 7 And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He [f]defer them and[g]delay help on their behalf? 8 I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [[h]persistence in] faith on the earth? – Luke 18:3-8
As I approach ten years from retirement, I have a decade to pursue the new passions within my heart. This quest begins by completing a screenplay that I began in 2021 about my father’s miraculous journey to America by fleeing the Russians who invaded his native Lithuania. Although the odds of becoming a professional screen writer are one in a million, my life experiences in the ministry might open some doors along the way. My other passion is to design a championship level disc golf course, bringing the brilliance of Alistair Mackenzie into modern day disc golf. Pray for me as I shoot for the stars.
Jacksonville, Florida is known for its beaches and host sight for the annual backyard rivalry of the Georgia/Florida college football game. However, today’s song comes from Yellowcard who formed their band in 1997 in Jacksonville. During the Coronavirus pandemic, I spent my lunches at my desk, looking for wholesome music new to me. One of those searches led me to the song Only One by Yellowcard.
And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved, Acts 4:12.
Based upon the lyrics from lead singer Ben Dobson and attached video, Only One appears to me a love song. Yet, for me, I was drawn to the words of a first century doctor in the passage above. While physical love can be amazing, spiritual love lasts for eternity. Although emotions rise and fall based upon your feelings, Jesus is the only one who promises eternal salvation.
Mike Rutherford started Mike and the Mechanics as a side project while a member of the group Genesis. This decision opened the door for Mike to leave the spotlight of lead singer Phil Collins to begin his own music legacy. While Mike and the Mechanics released several popular songs, the Living Years was by far their most meaningful hit. I was reminded of this song when my mother-in-law passed away last week.
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.
In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, my wife and her sister decided to remove Barb from a nursing home in Chicago so that she could stay the remainder of her living years at Laura’s home in South Carolina. This wasn’t an easy decision but was made so that Barb could live as close to a normal life as possible for someone in her weakened condition. While living in Delaware, Leanne made as many trips to Aiken as possible until our families move in June of 2022.
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me, Galatians 2:20.
Barb fought hard, living 22 months in South Carolina, allowing my wife to be there for the final two months. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when a loved one can’t communicate with you. Yet, Leanne was there for the final 48 hours until Barb went home to be with the Lord on August 4th, 2022. As the Wagner family prepares to say goodbye at the funeral in Chicago, I will always remember the Living Years when Barb was at her best playing with her grandchildren or improving her home. R.I.P.
There are 3 main courses of action that result in opening the door for Satan to gain advantage over your life. The first involves an unwillingness to forgive someone who has trespassed against you, Matthew 6:12-15. The second occurs when individuals begin to do what’s right in their own eyes, Judges 21:25. Finally, when you begin to crave and desire worldly impulses, Romans 8:5 and Galatians 5:16-18, the sinful nature takes over your body.
Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. 26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him], Ephesians 4:25-27.
While visiting a couple of his new church plants, Paul observed Satan was beginning to gain advantage over new and young believers. The context of this unhealthy pattern in Ephesus began in marriages. When a spouse was disappointed, hurt, or offended, several began to go to sleep with anger and bitterness within their hearts. Some couples allowed these feelings to create a wedge between them. In the process, the door was opened for a spiritual foothold to develop.
If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), 11 To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions, 2 Corinthians 2:10-11.
During the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, families have been put to the test. Lost income due to being a non-essential employee has strained relationships nationwide. Meanwhile, essential workers have put their lives at risk to help keep America going. Depending upon where you are on your own spiritual journey, keeping Satan from gaining the advantage over us can be exhausting. Yet, as you learn to forgive, look to the Bible for guidance, and set your heart and mind on things above, God regains control. May the Holy Spirit begin to transform your life so that Satan’s advantage disappears.
During the Passion Week, Jesus’ last week on earth prior to his crucifixion, a series of clues are left behind in Matthew 24. The context of this conversation begins on the steps of the temple. Jesus uses this structure to foretell future events beginning with the great earthquake immediately following his death on a cross. After taking a seat on the Mount of Olives, Jesus privately meets with his disciples, revealing the signs of End Times.
Not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here. 3 Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.
The content of this information was so powerful that Matthew devotes an entire chapter of his gospel to these words. According to Jesus, a series of events will result in the love of many Christians growing cold, Matthew 24:12. If you place this passage in the context of 2020 with church services shut down during the Coronavirus pandemic in many states, the Spirit of the Anti-Christ is getting closer. The apostle Paul takes at closer look by examining what these days will resemble on earth.
Who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he himself is God. 5 Do you not recollect that when I was still with you, I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining him [from being revealed at this time]; it is so that he may be manifested (revealed) in his own [appointed] time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way, 2 Thessalonians 2:4-7.
In his second letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul shares his own revelations about the second coming of Jesus. This includes an interesting statement that presupposes that the Holy Spirit keeps Satan on a leash until Christ returns. However, after the Rapture, Satan will turn the earth into a concentration camp, Revelation 13:17. Only those who receive the mark of the beast will be able to buy or sell. Thus, as Spirit of the Anti-Christ draws near, prepare your heart and mind now so that you won’t be deceived.
A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities is considered a hero. During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, first responders, doctors, and nurses were labeled heroes. Willing to put their own lives in danger to save the lives of others earned these brave individuals this badge of honor. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi capitalized on this term by naming the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act of 2020 the Heroes Act. However, a common criticism of the HEROES Act by Republicans was that many of its items in the bill were not directly related to the Coronavirus.
We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves, Romans 15:1.
In today’s politically charged climate, when a news story doesn’t fit into the mainstream’s narrative, heroic acts go unrecognized. Such is the case for members of the National Guard in California. State officials called off their search for 200 campers trapped at Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest. The conditions were deemed too dangerous with zero visible due to huge plumes of smoke. Despite the odds, over 200 people were rescued by National Guard helicopters. A Blackhawk helicopter, emergency response team, fire and medical elements from the 144th Fighter Wing swooped into action, placing their lives at risk to rescue trapped campers.
Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually], Romans 15:2.
The word hero does not appear in the Bible. However, when you do a search for hero in OpenBible.info, positive actions are provided. According to the apostle Paul, biblical heroes bear with neighbors to uplift their souls. Other qualities including laying your life down for a friend, staying positive despite the circumstances, and choosing love over hate. While the self absorbed seek to draw attention to themselves, unsung heroes do what’s right when nobody is looking. Heroes don’t wait for others to comes to the rescue. Rather, heroes follow their conscience and convictions to help whoever is in need. While rewards may not come on earth, unsung heroes will be commended in heaven.
Following the Exodus out of Egypt, Israel spent 40 years living in the wilderness. This time served as a transitional period before entering God’s promised land. While the Bible refers to a wilderness, in reality the Jews spent their days in the hot desert sun and nights surrounded by snakes and scorpions. Spending a week or weekend in the wilderness camping or hiking can be rejuvenating. However, living off the gird for an extended period of time requires a complete trust in God to provide daily bread.
And I will confirm with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and [My people] shall dwell safely in the wilderness, desert, or pastureland and sleep [confidently] in the woods, Ezekiel 34:25.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic inflicted America in 2020, state mandated quarantines have separated family members, friends and neighbors. While some states have eased these restrictions during the month of May, I still haven’t been able to visit my parents. Due to speculation of a second wave of COVID-19 striking communities who don’t practice social distancing, these past 3 months have created a new type of wilderness, living inside your home most of the time. At some point faith has to trump fear, trusting God that life will soon return to a new but safe normal.
And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing, and I will cause the showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing [of good insured by God’s favor], Ezekiel 34:26.
In the sixth century before the birth of Christ, the prophet Ezekiel refers to a covenant of peace. For those of you struggling during this period of darkness and uncertainty, the verses above serve as a glimmer of hope. Ezekiel promises to keep those living in the wilderness safe from evil beasts. Meanwhile, Ezekiel refers to a hill of blessing, showering God’s people with grace and favor. While you may not sense peace at the moment, I pray that this biblical promise encourages you. When the wilderness is replaced by normalcy, perhaps you’ll have a better appreciation for the little things in life that we have all taken for granted.
According to a 2019 study, 137 million Americans are struggling with debt brought on by medical bills. When the add the damage, death and social isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many more will be added to this list in 2020. To make matters worse, life insurances often include a disclaimer, not covering deaths by an act of God like this pandemic. In times of desperation, the only logical decision is to start making God your financial planner.
Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]? – Luke 16:11-12
A first century doctor quotes a parable of Jesus. Based upon the passage above, God is waiting for individuals to show progress in the little things. If God can’t trust you to take care of your income and possessions, He’ll find other good stewards to bless, reward and uplift. An old testament prophet takes this concept one step further. Malachi appears to suggest that God wants to challenge you as your financial planner. This involves giving first fruits, your initial paycheck of each month to God in the form of a tithe.
Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, Malachi 3:10.
If you truly want to yield control over to God, the first step involves changing your mindset by recognizing that God owns everything. As you become a manager of God’s money, make sure you share generously by paying God first, Proverbs 3:9-10. If you test God by implementing this strategy, the Lord promises to open the storehouses of heaven. This explains why Jesus once said, “give and it will be given until you,” Luke 6:38. To be considered a genuine good steward, this includes saving money regularly, Proverbs 21:10 and spending money wisely, Proverbs 27:23-24. May this blog inspire you to make God your financial planner.
Since most gyms remain closed as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, one of the most practical methods of exercise is taking a walk. If you have a pet, you already have a certain distance mapped out as you wait for your dog to do it’s business. Unless your current position is deemed essential, time shouldn’t be an excuse. In the first century, walking was a common mode of transportation. The Bible details a seven and a half mile walk to the town of Emmaus. Along the way, several individuals discussed current events as a resurrected Jesus catches up, asking questions and acting naive.
And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. 16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him, Acts 24:15-16.
The first walked that changed my life was a memorable discussion in college on the way to my youth group’s summer mission’s trip. A short walk turned into a couple of miles as a spirit of confession fell upon each of us. One girl opened up about being raped, another confessed about being sexually active with his girl friend and another revealed an addiction to pornography. This initial walk created a special bond, soul mates who began to pray for one another for freedom and healing. Shortly afterward, my friend Dave and I, who became the best man in my wedding, walked over ten miles one night, unveiling painful secrets from our past.
Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. 29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly), Acts 24:28-31.
The final walk that changed my life occurred in Neenah, Wisconsin. At this time, Leanne was a youth director in Wisconsin and I served at a Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana. When you live eight hours away from your significant other, I treasured each moment together. On this particular day, I felt like I needed to become an open book. Thus, this walk took about an hour, walking throughout Neenah as I poured out my heart to Leanne. This one conversation set the stage for engagement and marriage. While not every walk that you have is pleasant, when you practice the James 5:16 principle, lives can be changed and souls bonded together for life.