Love

Love

Ah yes, love!  It’s almost spring which turns a young man’s fancy . . ., so I am told.  Valentine’s Day is long past.  You remember.  That’s when love is expressed in big teddy bears and heart shaped helium balloons—genuine expressions of love don’t you know.

In my recreational reading over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to read some (not all) novels that are heavy on the romantic side.  Though the prose was strong on pumping up the emotional side of things, I found this genre of literature to be rather flat and, quite frankly, rather disappointing after finishing the final chapter.  It just isn’t like that in the real world.

Do I have a stranglehold on the obvious to inform you that love is the holy grail of human experience? Everyone is desperate for someone to love and to be loved.  Yet, how sad it is for those who think they have found their one true love to be awakened to another reality of human experience—sin.  Sin and its consort, self-centeredness, is ingrained in all of us and it lurks in the shadows behind the activity of the brain that is often mistaken for love.  Exploiting the weakness of humanly generated love, better known as attraction, it emerges to demolish those dreams and fantasies about the nature and accessibility of true love.

How many couples have come together and have bound themselves to each other on that gossamer foundation that is human love.  Yessir! They’re going to beat the odds of failed relationships because theirs is like nobody else’s.  You see they have such wonderful communication; they can talk together for hours!  So they know how to head off their problems at the pass and solve them before they get out of hand.

Why is it that these same people who were once madly in love forever are now sometime later bitter enemies fighting it out in the divorce courts?

Despite the risks and vulnerability involved, love remains humanity’s highest quest. Why?

Most certainly it is not that we have evolved into a sophisticated array of synapses in the brain; neither is there some DNA molecule that can be identified as love.  Ironically after the development of the brain scanning device known as the PET scanner and the decade of the brain in the 1990’s, we know more about the brain than ever before but are no closer to understanding those things which make us human. I’m referring to that which is the context of the experience of love: self-consciousness, consciousness of the world around us, and the ability to make choices between moral options.  We’re no closer to understanding these things than we were before.1.

Love most certainly has much to do with being image bearers of God.   The latter is something more profound than we often take the time to consider.  We would do well to contemplate it, however, because it is the divinely hardwired capacity to know and love God and to love one another.

We demand, in this day and age, that our worship songs, hymns and sermons be overstuffed with the love of God.  What this new music lacks in content is made up for in high energy electric guitars, keyboards and drum sets.

Don’t misunderstand.  It’s important to me to sing about and contemplate the love of God.  It’s just that I prefer, “I hear the words of love; I gaze upon the blood; I see the mighty sacrifice and I have peace with God;” to “Oh how he loves you and me.”  Sometimes old is better than new.

Indeed, we ought to be singing about the love of God and we ought to be hearing about it in the pulpit but we ought to get beyond the word itself. There are many aspects to that love including, dare I say it, even God’s justice.  He is not indifferent to evil.  Sad to report, most of the rhetoric about God’s love is rather thin when it comes to the specifics as to how that love is expressed.

By the way, have you noticed in the Christian/atheist debates, how the arguments from the atheist side are rarely about some irrefutable scientific data, but rather the problem of evil? It’s amazing how the opposition is so quick to leave their home country of materialism and enter the non-material world of metaphysics.  The unbeliever is truly an image bearer of God and his concern about evil betrays that fact.

Okay, we’re talking about love and not the problem of evil per se but let us see God’s love in the Cross wherein God is not indifferent to evil inasmuch as divine justice has been satisfied so that reconciliation and a new creation in Christ can be offered to the world.

It would not be so bad, this overwhelming emphasis on love in our worship and preaching, if people who are so willing to passionately absorb this touchy-feely rhetoric would find themselves ever more loving.

Why is it that those who love to sing about God’s love, demand sermons on it, end up being some of the most unloving people around?  It’s one thing to sing and talk about God’s love, it’s quite another to receive it.  Am I overstating the case to assert that if we were able to absorb and subsequently transmit one tenth the number of times the love of God is mentioned, that there would be a veritable revival?

Please forgive me if I appear to be sitting high on a perch judging others while rendering myself impervious to the problem.  I include myself in this word-vs-reality deficit.  I am in desperate need of the authentic experience of, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

We would do well to ponder the genuineness of our own experience and expressions of love the next time we sing or hear about how much God loves us.


  1. James LaFanu, Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, pp. 11-21

Household Words

I had an interesting experience riding the subway recently.  I was with my son Nathan and family. On the train we were talking about spiritual things.  A man standing next to us was wincing and intermittently taking deep breaths.  I thought it was a matter of his not having a seat inasmuch as he was somewhat wide of girth.  Finally he got a seat next to me and all of a sudden, he proceeded to tear into me with a broadside of insults (unrepeatable) and a barrage of questions, like “What kind of a Christian are you?  Are you one of those Evangelicals?”  He was not crazy but he had been drinking and sometimes the drink can diminish one’s inhibitions.  In his case he made it known to everyone around how much he hates Christians.  I suspect many others do also.  No matter.  It’s part of the territory of being a follower of Christ and a sober reminder as to how we are to be circumspect in living our lives before a watching world.

Though summer is a few months away, we do want to mention again the need for camp scholarships. Camping is becoming increasingly expensive and it would be sad to see some of our more disadvantaged youth priced out of the experience.  Thank you, in advance, for your generosity.

Whenever I’m in our building, I try to remember to thank God for His amazing and miraculous provision.  The

Lord had provided our homes over the years out of which we were able to carry out our ministries.  We can do so much more having our own facility.  When one acquires a building, even a new one such as we have, it has to be maintained—hellooo!  Periodically, maintenance and repair issues have arisen some of which seem insurmountable.  I stand amazed that God has brought the right person and the right time to handle these problems.  He was with us in the wilderness; He continues to be with us in the promised land.

We’re busy.   A lot of ministries, mostly to youth, directly or indirectly connected to BHOF are happening.  But what we long to see is a response from those that are hearing the Gospel.  We can get decisions but there needs to be a demonstrable, life transforming, spiritual awakening especially in the younger generation.  Only the Lord can make that happen.  Thank you for praying with us to that end.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

In this joyful time of year we wish you a most blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth.       Isaiah 9:6

With much love from the members of The Bronx Household of Faith

Apostasy

Apostasy

Apostasy is a term that  has dropped out of usage for most Evangelicals.  After all, “once saved always saved,” would make apostasy virtually impossible.  Yet there are others who also live under the Evangelical umbrella who believe that a person, once truly saved, can nevertheless lose one’s salvation.

Is it possible for someone to lose their salvation?  John 15 is one portion of Scripture that is frequently cited to support this idea, particularly verses 5-6,

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

To teach eternal security, so the argument goes, is to encourage slovenliness in the Christian life.  Once someone has accepted Christ as Savior, that person, because they cannot lose their salvation, can now live the way they want to live—once saved always saved.  On the face of it, this is a compelling argument against eternal security.

The conclusion is not warranted however, least of all by this passage.  Those who argue that one can lose his or her salvation, do so on the assumption that one becomes a believer in Christ by an act of free will.  (By free will we mean an autonomous and neutral force within our inner being that is free to choose or not choose God.)   Even though the Holy Spirit may exert pressure on the person to believe, so the argument goes, God waits for that person to say yes.  In the final analysis, it is up to the individual to accept the gift of salvation that is offered to all.

This emphasis on free will is  invoked to vitiate the once-saved-always-saved position.  The doctrine of eternal security is then made to look ridiculous:  You prayed the sinner’s prayer and God is now stuck to you like fly paper and no matter what you do later in life, you’re still saved.  This is wrong.  There is another point of view.

First, we must jettison the phrases, “eternal security” and “once saved always saved.”  Technically, they are correct but only partially so.  They do not convey all that the Bible says on this subject.   Partial truths can lead to distortions of the truth.   Moreover, they present a truncated view of what is more accurately referred to as the “perseverance of the saints.”  A true Christian is one who perseveres to the end and we persevere by grace (Phil. 2:12-13).

Second, we do not choose God; He chooses us (John 15:16).  This changes everything and the objections above fall to the ground. When God sets out to do something, He does it and He does not make a mistake, nor does He change His mind (Romans 11:29).

The argument turns on the effects of the sin inherited from Adam on our inner being which includes the will.   The effects of the fall are such that we are born with a disposition that, left to ourselves, we would never choose God (Genesis 6:5; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:18; 8:7).  Left to ourselves, we would do what Adam and Eve did after they had sinned and they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day—hide.   We were born with a disposition that naturally hides from God, sometimes in church.   We cannot choose God because it is contrary to our nature, inherited from Adam, to do so.  We cannot choose God because we don’t want to.

You didn’t choose God; He chose you.  True, in an act of the will (yes, we have a will), you heard the offer of the Gospel and you responded.  But in reality, the Spirit of God had been at work in your heart as the Word of God was being proclaimed.   He changed your heart to enable you to respond to His call.  In the final analysis, God chooses us, not we Him (John 1:12-13; 6:44; 10:26-27).

Third, and most important, this eliminates our tendency to presume on God.  If we are one of His chosen, then we cannot live the way we want to live.  If we are content to live an ungodly life then it is quite likely that we are not one of His chosen.

Ironically, if we are the ones that choose God, quite the reverse is true.  Despite God’s prodding, in the final analysis, we call the shots. We can live the way we want to even if there is the possibility of losing one’s salvation.  After all, nobody’s perfect and so one has to be really bad to lose one’s salvation and we’re not that bad, or, we will just be careful to stay away from the precipice.  This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “extending grace to ourselves.”

Where is that line that one could cross to lose one’s salvation?  Who knows?  Those who hold that view unwittingly think they know.   What happens when the emphasis is on the freedom of the will is that we are placing ourselves in control, dictating if, when, and under what circumstances we are saved and continue to be saved.

Consider the effects of God’s choosing, “. . . children born not of human decision, nor of a husband’s will but of God” (John 1:13).  He changes these hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, by the Holy Spirit writing God’s law on our hearts: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26); “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

Since salvation is all of God’s grace, we look to Him for assurance of salvation.  It begins by repentance and faith and it proceeds by repentance and faith.  To condone sin or otherwise excuse it, is out of character for the elect of God.  He does the choosing not we.  The effect of His choosing is a holy life, “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

But, comes the rejoinder, what about those passages that speak about falling away including this one in John 15:6, are they mere hypotheticals?  Let it be stated here that we take apostasy seriously. One can appear to be a Christian and the ethical teachings of the Gospel can have, outwardly at least, a positive effect on a person.  A dead branch on a grape vine can look alive and can even draw life from the vine.  That is why it is cut away.  It is dead.  It doesn’t bear fruit.

In other words, it is possible to come under the influence of the Gospel such that one manages to outwardly conform, as long as he finds it beneficial, to its ethical standards and otherwise derive blessings and benefits from it and yet not be saved.  (See Romans 2:28-3:2)

There can be a falling away for those whose lives were influenced by the Gospel but never really transformed by it.  Ironically, free will promotes presumption; election undermines it.  “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things [Christian virtues], you will never fall” (II Peter 1:10).  It removes presumption while providing assurance, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).

I’ve written this rather lengthy article (for this publication) because of my own disquiet over the moral decline in the church in general and no ministry or church is exempt including BHOF.

BHOF_smallHousehold Words

This segment is dedicated to Hope Academy, our school now  in its third year.  We present to you a partial wish list for equipment and supplies and we thank you in advance for your generous support:

  • Set of prepared microscope slides for high school Biology (1)
  • iPad Pro (2)
  • Graphing calculators (2)
  • Chess sets (4)
  • Finances for field trips

For a more complete wish list and ordering details, go to the following Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/38074E9SB32WW/ref=cm_wl_huc_view

As always we are so grateful to the Lord for your love and support.

Bob Hall for Naomi Woodmansee, Head of School

If you would like to receive this letter and other communication from Bronx Household of Faith electronically, please send an email to moc.l1490771778iamg@14907717781pjst1490771778reboR1490771778with the subject line “City Lights by email”. Please indicate in the message if you would like to stop receiving the hard copy.

City Lights is a publication of The Bronx Household of  Faith, an urban church committed to bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the streets of New York.

         Co-pastors: Bob Hall, Jack Roberts,
         Phone: (718) 220-3652,
         Email: gro.f1490771778ohb@f1490771778ohb1490771778; Web: www.bhof.org

Hard Reality and Glorious Promise

Hard Reality and Glorious Promise

Thirty years ago, Hugh Dwyer grew up in our neighborhood with an alcoholic and then absent father. When he embraced the Gospel at age 13 after getting connected with our Stockade boy’s club several years earlier, God set Hugh on a path that leads to life, including wanting to be “the best dad he can be.” 

Hugh Dwyer

Hugh Dwyer

On May 9, Hugh came back to the Bronx to be the keynote speaker at the Hope Academy support banquet. Hugh shared how he received a Bible from Pastor Bob during the time when he was a part of our church. Inside were the words, “May this book become the guide for your life and may you, through its pages, come to know Jesus Christ about whom this book is written.”  In ways beyond what we could have asked or imagined, those words are being fulfilled as Hugh lives out his Godly roles of father, Sunday School teacher, Assistant Principal in an urban school, and a regular volunteer with a prison sports ministry.

At the banquet, Hugh spoke of the positive influence that men in our church, Bob, Jack, Angel, (and former members, Doug Rutzen,  Richard Bueller and Charlie Osewalt), had on his life as a boy and teenager. These men were planting and watering seeds of Truth in Hugh’s life, not knowing how or when God would bring the growth. Hugh is a testimony that God is able to rescue and redeem in such a way that we are not destined to grow up and become like our fathers, when those fathers are not following hard after Christ. 

Psalm 78:8 says “They would not be like their forefathers…whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.”

This is a hard reality—that sometimes it’s a good thing that children don’t grow up to be like their fathers. But it is also a glorious promise!  The promise is that the power of the Gospel is able to so dramatically transform lives so that they are not destined to walk the road of fathers who have forsaken or ignored the Lord.

This reality and promise is true for some of our Hope Academy scholars.

At Hope Academy this year, 12 of our 16 scholars are growing up without their biological dads involved in their lives in any positive way. This affects every area of their lives. For one of our scholars particularly, this hard reality of dad’s absence forms the background noise of his daily life.

Thirteen year old Daniel longs to see his dad. Over the year and a half that he has been part of Hope Academy, Daniel often makes reference to missing his dad and expresses sadness that his dad shows no interest in building a relationship with him.

Recently in the middle of the night, Daniel helped get medical help for an autistic girl who had fallen from the fire escape of his apartment building. The next day on the local news, Daniel stated that he thought the “hand of God” had kept this little girl from harm. At school he told one of our Hope Academy teachers that there was no other explanation of how that little girl survived the fall except that God’s hand was protecting her.

But Daniel also commented to his teacher that he hopes God will use this event for good in his own life, because he hopes that his dad saw him on the news and would be proud of what he did.  Daniel is praying that somehow God will use his testimony of God’s hand at work to bring his absent dad back into his life.

Our Hope Academy scholars need the ongoing influence of Godly men in their lives. I am grateful for the scholars who do have involved fathers in their lives.  I am also grateful for the 3 men (Jason James, Jacob Roberts, and Jesse Roberts) God has raised up to be teachers/administrators here at Hope Academy and other men from our church body who help fill the void of male mentoring in the lives of our scholars.

Naomi Woodmansee

Naomi Woodmansee

At our recent support banquet, Hugh finished sharing his story of God’s grace by modifying the prayer that was written in his Bible by Pastor Bob years ago, making it specifically a prayer for the Hope Academy scholars.  He prayed, “May this school introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ who will be your guide, your Father and your Savior.  May your teachers ignite a passion for education and bring you closer to your Creator.  May you as a result of the efforts of Hope Academy be a difference maker for the kingdom.”

Our prayer is that God will not only change the hearts of our scholars, but also the hearts of their families, so that our scholars will live out

the reality of the verse: “Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78:7)

Pray with us that, by God’s grace, it will be so!                    

                            –Naomi Woodmansee

Hope Academy Prayer Requests

 

  • Growth in our daily prayer partners
  • Growth in our weekly volunteer partners
  • Growth in our monthly financial partners

Household Words

In our last issue we mentioned the need for camp scholarships.  It turns out that we have more candidates this year than we have had in recent years.  Some are from Hope Academy.  I continue to hear stories of people who came to Christ at Bible camp.  I’m sure you have as well.  A continuation of your generosity from years past would be most appreciated.  Come to think of it, Hugh Dwyer had been a camper at Northern Frontier and later worked on summer staff.

New York City Christian Athletic League (NYCCAL) is in full swing, with its spring basketball program in a nearby park.  Configured into the schedule is a Gospel presentation.  This year they have broken down Ephesians 2:8-9 into six lessons.  Please pray for us on these Saturday mornings through June 18th, as we present the Gospel to over 60 teenage boys.  We understand that it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts but the means that He uses is the proclamation of the Word and prayer.  The greatest need of this ministry is mature in the Lord men who can mentor them.  Where are the men!

A church in New Jersey, Budd Lake Chapel, has been so kind to us over the years to allow us to use their lake front property for a picnic on Memorial Day and Labor Day.  On many occasions we have had baptisms during that time.  This year we will be baptizing Tim Weal.  He is a graduate of Hope Christian Center and works in the kitchen at Hope.  Please pray for him as he takes his place in BHOF.

Would you believe that there is still a glimmer of hope in our court case?  A friend of the court brief has been submitted by a prestigious law firm in Washington, D.C. in another case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In that brief, it is being argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals, which overturned BHOF vs. NYCBOE, in 2015, was wrong in its decision because they misapplied a previous case used in their decision against us.  The brief is asking SCOTUS to correct this error.  If they agree, then another church will be free to file suit against the City of New York.  We can’t because our case has already been tried but another church can proceed without being hindered by our case.  Please pray.

We continue to be amazed and so thankful to the Lord for you and for His colossal provision.  What a mighty God we serve!

           –Bob Hall

This Is My Father’s World

This Is My Father’s World

This is my father’s world
and to my listening ears 
all nature sings, and round me
 rings, 
the music of the spheres

Somehow, riding the subway at 6:00 in the morning in mid-winter darkness, a couple of days a week (to do lap swimming), doesn’t lend itself to hearing the music of the spheres

I look at the other people on the train.  Those who are not sleeping are on their cell phones, either reading their messages or heads are bobbing up and down with the music that, presumably, is very far from the rustling grass where I hear him pass

God is very distant from our general culture.  What is worse are the many attempts to remove all traces of Him together with the self-destructive, futile attempts to remake our world into something other than what God has made it to be.

I have often said that I don’t need the classical arguments for God’s existence.  Just look at the choices people make in this world and observe the outcome of those choices.  People try to make their own way, disregarding God’s way as something outmoded and not in keeping with the twenty-first century as if modernity represents the best in human history.  Someone once said to me with a straight face, “Standards are different today.”  This is a secular article of faith that is uncritically assumed and one that needs to be challenged. 

This is God’s world.  It’s His design and whenever we try to say that it is something other than what God says it is, we’re in for trouble.

Nowhere is that more evident in God’s design for marriage and the family.  Dr. David Ayers, Dean of Arts and Letters at Grove City College, a sociologist and who also happens to be former member of our church, put it most profoundly.  “We’ve separated things that were always supposed to be united.  We’ve separated sex, marriage and children.”  As a result, pre-marital sex is okay and so is gay marriage.  Biblically speaking sex, marriage and children are conjoined.  That is God’s design and whenever we try to alter God’s design or try to circumvent it, we create serious problems. 

I’ve said this before in a previous article.  In one of our outreach ministries where we had about 30 to 40 children from the neighborhood, most of whom I did not know, I got to the point where I could observe the group and fairly accurately guess who is being raised by their biological father and mother.  Granted you can give me a zillion exceptions but generally speaking I noticed a calmer spirit and a more self-assured demeanor in those who were raised by their biological father and mother.

The effect of sidestepping God’s order involves more than just the individual.  I don’t need to invoke chapter and verse to prove that society in general is affected by an individual’s wrong life-altering choices.  We all pay for the shop lifter as the merchant’s loss is added to the cost of doing business.  Think of the many people who are directly affected by one person’s life-controlling problem: wives, children, siblings, neighbors, employers, creditors.  It is common knowledge that out of wedlock births means poverty in that child’s future.

Much of our ministry is remedial.  We would like it to be more preventive. We thank God for the transformed lives of those who have been saved out of the darkness of gross sin.  We have also seen the tears over what could have been, had they come to Christ earlier in life. 

I was chatting with one man who had recently come to Christ.  He told me of a lengthy phone conversation he just had with a childhood friend who was a believer.  He related to me how, as children, he and his friends used to make fun of him for his faith in Christ.  That child is now a grown man and still faithfully following our Lord being blessed with his own business.  He quoted his friend to me, “You could be where I am today had you started following the Lord back then.”   My new brother in Christ readily agreed. 

Choices produce consequences because it’s God’s world.  Part of the evangelistic task is to get people on the road to thinking God’s thoughts after Him, as He has revealed Himself through His Word.  It’s called repentance.   There can be no genuine faith without it.  When we engage people with the Gospel, we endeavor to help them make the connections between their choices and their consequences.  It takes a firm but gentle hand along with a heavy dose of humility and most of all, the work of the Holy Spirit, to touch that point of rebellion in a person’s life.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God but how can one exercise true saving faith without answering what the Word says about our inbred desire for autonomy which must be repented of?    Anyone can pray the “sinner’s prayer” or the equivalent thereof but faith and repentance must go together. 

Without the exercise of both, we sadly watch people walk away from the Gospel as they choose to act as if they can create their own reality and choreograph their own happiness only to discover later that they have fallen into a pit they have unwittingly dug for themselves.

I don’t need the cosmological and teleological proofs for God’s existence.  The ungodly choices that people make, together with the consequences thereafter, convinces me more than ever that this is my Father’s world.  There is no other way, no other answer to the fallen human condition.

Thank you for your part in enabling us to remain here to point people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Household Words

It’s not even spring yet but it’s time to talk about summer camp scholarships.  Our choices of camp venues are more than in years past.  The main ones continue to be Northern Frontier for boys and Camp Cedarbrook for girls, also Worldview Academy for our older high school and post high school young people.  Thank you for considering this opportunity by praying about it.

Years ago in my home church in Minneapolis a married woman who, with her husband, missionaries to Africa, preached the message at the evening service.  This was before the days of the women’s movement.  Her title: “Where are the men?”  She was lamenting the fact of the shortage of men so badly needed in their field of ministry. 

I ask the same question today.  One of the greatest needs in urban ministry is male role models and mentors.  We feel this keenly in our associate ministry New York City Christian Athletic League, our Battalion ministry to teenage boys and most of all, our school, Hope Academy. 

We have the men now and we are grateful for them.  They know the urban environment. They’ve grown up here.  They understand the kids with whom they work.  They have a heart for the youth of this city.  But how long can we keep them in their current position?  I’m thinking particularly of Hope Academy teachers.  They are about to be married or they have young families that they need to support.  Housing is becoming increasingly expensive in this neighborhood which, I can personally attest, was once much more financially accessible than it is today. 

Hope Academy is half way through its second year and it’s been a wonderful year.  It’s our opportunity to work with kids on a daily basis who would otherwise fall through the cracks of the educational system.  Our head of school Naomi is the anchor of HA but how I long to see her and the teachers, especially the male teachers receive a living wage so that they can do what they’ve already been doing very effectively. 

You have been very generous with your support and for that we give thanks to God.  We are asking you to help us find new people who would be interested in partnering with a ministry such as this, or, perhaps, as some have done in the past, direct us to foundations which would be a potential source of funding.

As always, our confidence continues to be in the faithfulness of our precious Lord.

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace of Isaiah 9 shattered the longing for an idyllic, earthly paradise by his disturbing declaration that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).   These are not the words of a self-proclaimed, dreamy-eyed, delusional messiah.  No indeed!  He took pains to get his message across: he was not born of the virgin Mary to bring an end to all conflict, suffering and evil then afflicting the people of the earth in the first century Roman Empire.

In fact, he prophesied that his coming would bring more conflict and calamity, setting “a man against his father and a daughter against her mother…”  The sword he unsheathed was not to drive out the Roman legions from the holy land, but to divide humanity into two irreconcilable kingdoms.  To the forces of darkness the penetration of his Light into their domain was as threatening as it was abhorrent. 

The human instruments of evil, Herod and later the Jewish leaders, sought with an intensity beyond their understanding to extinguish that Light.  The former didn’t succeed, and the latter hardly had time to savor their elimination of the threat from Nazareth before the Light reappeared out of the darkness of the grave.  His radiance blinded those who thought they could see and gave sight to those who knew they were stumbling in the darkness of their own sin. So it is today.

It is not the pacification of all hostilities that the church is commanded to pursue: only the Prince of Peace can do that.  He told us that the conflict between ‘good and evil,’ between the kingdoms of darkness and light will not end until he wraps up history with a shout of triumph.  Knowing that the spiritual battle will rage until that moment, we should not be discouraged nor agitated that it continues in our time.  Neither should we retreat into a bunker mentality and passively wait until the warfare is ended. 

Rather, we must continually focus our sights on the Light of the world.  Celebrating the coming of the Son of Man, the Son of God, is a reaffirmation that the Lord of All has not abandoned godless humanity to wallow in its own immorality or struggle fruitlessly against its own mortality.  The Hope of Israel is the Hope of us all!  In him is all the fullness of God – immortal, invisible, eternal, holy, just, merciful, gracious, loving. 

Though the unrighteousness of men will continue for a while longer, the Prince of Peace has come to bring peace now with the Holy God and everlasting joy to his people.  The Bronx Household of Faith is placed here on this piece of contested ground in the global struggle to bring good tidings of peace and joy to those still in darkness.  Although the battle still rages, the war is won!

Household Memories from 2015