Month: June 2022

Why Rock Excavation Service?

The question came up recently as to why I used a name for this site that sounds like a company. Why “Rock Excavation Service?” I chose this name because I saw that Jesus, our living Savior, was being ignored and even buried by many good deeds.

I heard people saying that they were “spiritual.” People used the word “God” in a pantheistic (many gods) way. Churches were placing ill-prepared people in leadership positions. I heard sermons preached that were either simply incorrect or purposely heretical. I heard songs on Christian radio stations that were so far off base that I couldn’t come to grips with their justification for broadcasting lies.

One evening, as these thoughts ran through my head I had that thought, “We need to find Christ in Christianity.” That became the tagline for this site and its mission statement. I prayed a lot about this site; I still do.

So, when I decided to start a blog to focus on Jesus, I considered the task of finding Jesus in Christianity. There are many places in the Bible Jesus is referred to as the Rock, so the title of this blog became Rock Excavation Service. It was my mission to excavate the Christian landscape and unearth Jesus.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.Isaiah 26:4

And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.1 Corinthians 10:4

If I count the first couple of attempts, I’ve written well over 800 posts during the last four years. I have no intention of retiring. Why “Rock Excavation Service?” Now you know.


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boy near waterfall

Reservoirs of Life

Lately, I’ve been contemplating what God desires from us as followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, and citizens in His holy kingdom.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:11

Living according to the Spirit is the nature of believers. I’ve lived, now, as a Christian for many years. During my life’s journey, I’ve met a lot of people.

Reservoirs of Life

I have been privileged to not just meet, but to have known, brothers and sisters in our Lord, across this nation and around this world. The Christians that have had the greatest influence on me are the ones that possess in themselves reservoirs of life that they supply to others for every event in life.

Do you remember when Jesus said to the Samaritan woman that the “water” He was willing to give would become a spring of water that would fill that person up to eternal life? (John 4:10-14) Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Jesus’ intent, to this day, is for his followers to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit; to be reservoirs of life.

The Spirit in Us and on Us

The people that have changed me are ones who lived by allowing themselves to be submerged in the Holy Spirit. They are filled with the Holy Spirit, and submerged in the Spirit; they are the ones best prepared to overflow “living water” into lives that are parched earth, devoid of life.

Church services, Bible studies, Sunday school, men’s fellowships, and women’s retreats, are all good and vital, but this vitality only finds its purpose when it carves out deeper places, deeper reservoirs for a life filled with the Holy Spirit. We live as clay jars filled with the “water” people desperately need.

Fruit of the Spirit

The “water” in us will only do damage to people unless we see them as God sees them. Too often, our preconceptions, prejudices, and pride hamper our eyesight. We see a “Karen” but God sees His creation. We may see a bully, but God sees a person His beloved Son died for.

Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus has called us to be doctors for “sick” people. This requires us to possess love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thankfully, this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

2020 too

I’ve read that we are living in 2020 too. Since COVID broke out in 2020, it seems like 2020 has never ended; it’s been one world disaster after another. The Russia-Ukraine war, neutral countries wanting to join NATO, inflation, and sky-high fuel prices are sowing fear in the hearts of many people. For the unsaved, they have no place to run for comfort and protection. My hope is that we allow the Holy Spirit to flow from our lives into the lives of sinners.

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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Motorcycle Chopper Honda Bicycle Bike Honda Rebel

As Slow as a Honda 360

I rode motorcycles for decades when I was younger. I owned my fair share of motorcycles; Hondas, a Chopper, a Suzuki, and so forth. When I first started riding, I had a Honda 360 cc, a small, low-power cycle. In those days, I didn’t appreciate the value of power, that is until I rode with a friend that had a Honda 750 cc.

The first time we rode together, we started on back roads. They had lots of turns, so I could mostly keep up with him. Then we got on an Interstate, and he passed me like I’d parked my bike. He became a dot on the horizon while I coaxed my cycle to gain enough speed not to be run over. When it comes to cycles, acceleration and speed are essential commodities.

As I was reading my Bible today, I came to Psalms 124. When I read verse seven, my memory returned to my Honda 360. Here are verses seven and eight.

7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124:7-8

A “fowler” is a person that sets traps to capture birds. During Biblical times, birds were trapped to be eaten or sold as food. Pity the poor bird that happens to walk under the snare of a fowler. But we have good news!

Jesus, maker of heaven and earth, will break the snare that captures us if we ask. Like a good motorcycle, Jesus can get us out of a trap in a New York minute. Praise God!

Believers can be compared to birds captured by fowlers. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Even when we are listening to the Holy Spirit within us, we still find times when we wander into a place that seems safe, only to discover it is a trap of the enemy. The enemy thinks that he’s got us, but he’s trapped someone that belongs to Jesus. His glee will be short-lived.

This passage of Scripture tells us God’s promise and bolsters our faith. Our help is in the name of the Lord. He breaks the snare and sets us free. God will leave that enemy so far behind it will look like he’s riding a Honda 360.

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God desires a full banquet. From what I understand, He delayed His judgment so as many as will can be blessed with restoration, regeneration, and resurrection. We are the invited. Every person that has ever lived is welcome if they accept God’s invitation, put on their banqueting clothes and come. We, as ambassadors of Jesus, go out into the highways and byways of this world to deliver their invitation. And those that accept God’s invitation are brought into the Church, the Body of Christ, to prepare them, to get them dressed for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).
We see this in Christ’s parable of the Great Banquet, found in Luke 14:23 (NIV), “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full…”

check list

Jesus’ Check List

[✔︎] Descend from heaven. John 3:13
[✔︎] Be born of a virgin. Luke 1:26–38
[✔︎] Go to people of my natural nationality. John 1:11
[✔︎] Do these miracles: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22
[✔︎] Tell people how vital it is for them to put their faith in Me. John 12:44
[✔︎] Help people understand that My Father, I, and the Holy Spirit are One God. 1 Timothy 2:5, Matthew 28:19, Matthew 3:16–17
[✔︎] Communicate that the first step towards forgiveness is repentance. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Preach the kingdom of God. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Build a team that will become a community and grows to be My Bride. Matthew 4:18–22Acts 2:1–4Revelation 19:7
[✔︎] Teach people that love is never optional. Luke 10:25–37
[✔︎] Let people know that I often give second chances. John 21:15–25
[✔︎] Make it clear that my actions are fulfilling all of the prophecies about Me. Luke 13:32
[✔︎] Tell people that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Matthew 7:13–14Matthew 10:28
[✔︎] Reveal to people that believers have a home waiting for them in heaven. John 14:2
[✔︎] Teach people that this life is full of troubles. John 16:33
[✔︎] Help people know the value of differed gratification – Luke 14:33
[✔︎] Ask My Father to send the Holy Spirit so my believers will not be left as orphans. John 14:16, John 14:26, John 14:18
[✔︎] Be humiliated, cursed, spit upon, nailed to a cross, receive the wrath of My Father, be separated from My Father for the first time in all eternity, become sin so My Father cannot even look upon Me, and die as a sacrifice to provide the way for sinners to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Matthew 27:32–56
[✔︎] Rise up from death to become the resurrection for my followers. Luke 24
[✔︎] Ascend back to heaven. Acts 1:9
[ ] Return a second time to gather my people. John 14:3


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Pentecost Dove Church Local Community People

From One Zacchaeus to Another

Do you remember when you gave your life to Jesus? I know some of us may not remember a specific moment. Perhaps we were too young or it has been too long. Still, I hope you remember that first touch from our Savior.

Salvation seems to be out of style right now. The news of such personal contact with God appears to be a thing people hold close to themselves but covered. They will uncover the light in their local church, maybe even in a Bible study. But mostly they hold their good news tightly within them.

It is true that it doesn’t get more personal than to uncover and remove your old self. Oh, but when the Holy Spirit enters in you and Jesus becomes your savior, redeemer, righteousness, and friend. When you are reconciled to our heavenly Father. What wonder it is to be clean. To be whole. To be secure.

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

Luke 19:6 NLT

In our verse today we see the response an unscrupulous tax collector had when he came in contact with Jesus and gave his life to Him. Zacchaeus did so publically and “in great excitement and joy.” So, from one Zacchaeus to another, I rejoice in your salvation! But let us be mindful of what the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote.

“So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?”

Hebrews 2:3 NLT

There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. If you are still standing on the sidelines, come on in! Be a Zacchaeus. “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalms 34:8)


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shot of two women hugging affectionately by an open van

Categorized Compassion

When a person lives a worldly life, that person is subject to worldly compassion. Worldly compassion is not an act of love but a tool to be used. The well-known passage of Scripture called “the parable of the lost son” (Luke 15:11-32) teaches us many lessons, one of which is the damage from categorized compassion.

But no one gave him anything.

Luke 15:16

The son took his father’s inheritance while he was still alive and spent all of his money partying. Ending up destitute and at the very bottom of society, he had no money and, due to prejudice, he was in a category unworthy of compassion – he was a Jew outside of Israel or Judea (see v.13).

Intentionality

Worldly compassion provides benevolence to people in socially approved categories, and it is withheld from people who find themselves in classes that society has deemed not deserving compassion. Our world is the same as that of the prodigal son. This is not true for the body of Christ.

To effectively give Christian compassion, we must do so with intentionality. Intentionality means our thoughts, desires, and hopes compel us to seek out opportunities to express Jesus’ love to any person in need.

Great Acts of Compassion

A historian of the early church, Eusebius, recorded in “The Church History” that during the plague,

All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.

bible mesh

As a means of caring for those who were ill, St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s, there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick.

bible mesh

Compassion Through Education

Of course, God has called countless Christians to demonstrate compassion through education. In America, Harvard and Yale were founded by Puritans, Princeton was founded by Presbyterians, and Brown University was founded by Baptists. Oxford University, Cambridge University (founded in 1209 AD), University of Edinburgh, and Saint Andrews were all founded by and for Christianity in the UK. Of course, we can’t forget the hundreds of universities founded worldwide by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of Lyon, the University of Vienna (founded in 1365), and Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary.

The Most Prolific Compassion

Still, the most extraordinary undocumented Christian compassion comes from you and all faithful Christians. Our heart is not splintered; we do not practice socially categorized compassion. Because “For God so loved the world,” we must too.

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a road sign with right and wrong written on it

Objective Morality

Morals are objective, not subjective. This truth means that morals are discovered, not invented. If I walk in my backyard and find a four-leaf clover, it’s not because I imagined it, argued it into existence, or just decided that there should be four-leaf clovers. Morals just “are.” They don’t change due to circumstances or human will. They exist whether I believe in them or not. Morals are axiomatic, meaning that they are self-evident. If someone argues against a moral truth, it is not the truth that is destroyed but the person. I think we often forget that morals are as unchangeable as the God that established them.

I believe that the primary moral principles on which all others depend are rationally perceived…It is because all morality is based on such self-evident principles that we say to a man, when we would recall him to right conduct, ‘Be reasonable.’”

Truth is True Wherever it is Found

Because morals (e.g., don’t lie, cheat, steal, covet, murder, etc.) are objective truths, it shouldn’t surprise us when we see them pop up in other religions. Often, an argument against Christianity is that a person can find the same morals in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. It’s vital for us not to confuse morality with Salvation. Morality cannot save a person. (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodRomans 3:23) Only Jesus saves. It is not by works but by God’s grace that we are saved. Being moral falls into the category of works.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

1 Timothy 2:5

Jesus Enables Us to Live Morally

Does God require us to be moral? Yes. Has there ever been anyone that was perfectly moral? Only one, Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus is what makes Christianity unique. It is not morality that makes the life of a believer profoundly different from all others. Instead, it is the spiritual character of God in us that sets Christianity apart from all other religions and traditions of man. That profound distinctiveness comes from Jesus and is formed in us through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We live moral lives because God lives in us. We do not have God in us because we are moral.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

If you find yourself in a group conversation and someone begins to speak of the merits of Buddism, don’t be shaken by words that seem profound. They may be profound, but they do not save. True profoundness is found in a man rising from the dead after paying the debt of your sin, reconciling you to God, and then, through His resurrection, making a way for you to be resurrected and live with God in heaven forever. That is the Spirit of God at work in your life by God’s grace, through faith.

Good News

Notice the difference between moralism and life in the Spirit. Comparing these is like comparing apples versus oranges. Are we to live a moral life? Of course. Are we able to? We come close, but only by God living in us and transforming us by the renewing of our minds. Even then, sometimes, we fail. But our failure is like us tripping on the straight and narrow road. We fall on the road; we don’t fall off. And God has made a way for us to be forgiven and restored. To get up and continue on that narrow road.

In closing, I want to make it clear that it is not how many times you pray each day or in what direction you pray (Daniel notwithstanding), or what unique clothing you wear that decides where you will spend eternity. That decision is this: who is your master?

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child crying

Don’t Cry

12 A funeral procession was coming out as he [Jesus] approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:12-16

The Hebrew writing style is to put the primary point, event, or reason in the middle of the account or story. The first part prepares the reader for the key point, and the remainder shows the reader its effect.

Luke gives us a brief account of Jesus bringing a dead young man back to life. The primary event is found in verse thirteen, where Jesus, filled with compassion, stops the funeral and says to the widow. “Don’t cry.” We may be inclined to think that the miracle was Luke’s point, but the miracle was the result of Christ’s compassion. The miracle does testify that Jesus was and is the Messiah, but Christ’s compassion tells us about His heart.

Jesus is the same today. When He looks upon a brokenhearted believer, He has the same heart. His action may differ from what He did for the widow, but His compassion is no less. We find our greatest comfort in Jesus. In times of distress, run to Him. In Jesus, you will find the comfort you need.


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drawing of a church building

Changes in Local Churches

Let me just say, right up front, that you may strongly disagree with my perspective. That’s healthy. I just want to get this topic out in the open. There is a specific change to our local churches that I’ve observed during the past twenty years. This change concerns me because some church leaders have added sophistry to their churches because they think their church will grow if it looks like a megachurch.

Theater Churches

Most local church buildings can be categorized into two distinct styles of buildings: theaters and modern-traditional.

Let me start by stating that I am not condemning “theater” churches; I just have a concern about them. These modern church sanctuaries are built to be theaters. The walls and ceiling are painted black. Windows have been painted over. There is a sophisticated lighting system that helps to create a theater atmosphere. All eyes are on the stage. The things that the church considers valuable occur on the stage, under the stage lights, and performed by people on stage.

By building a black sanctuary with bright lights shining on the stage, the local church seems to imply that the people on stage are more important than their congregation. To increase this sophistry, the local church has a “house band” that hosts the best musical talent in the church.

This idea of member-spectators most certainly isn’t the local church’s intent, and I’m sure the local church is not purposefully implying that the people on stage are the “important” ones. Still, it is hard to deny that these modern theater churches easily accommodate spectators.

Modern-traditional

The other common type of church is modern-traditional. The church has padded pews, a good sound system, and well-engineered temperature controls. However, this modern-traditional church is painted in colors that help emphasize a well-lit sanctuary while avoiding harsh light.

Usually, there are plenty of windows in these buildings so people outside can see the congregation; when and where (i.e., in Sunday school rooms) people meet. The local church’s building is as transparent as possible, demonstrating that all are welcome, and nothing weird is going on. There are plenty of modern-traditional churches that use stained glass to fill the sanctuary with myriad colors.

In the sanctuary, there often is a lot of wood. Wood points us to the cross of Christ. Finally, the parking lot is often in front of the church building so passersby can see that the local church is alive and learn when the congregation meets. Typically, the sanctuary is full of light because the local church is everyone. Certain people serve Biblical offices in the church, but as Jesus said:

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

Mark 9:35

The Advantage

Please endure my opinion. Regarding the life of a congregation, I’ve observed a distinct advantage that modern-traditional churches have over theater churches. It is much easier for members to identify people who visit or attend their church. My wife and I attended a theater-style church for five years and regularly had someone ask us if that was our first time for us visiting the church. In modern-traditional churches, because the lights are on, everyone can more easily see needs in the congregation during the service. It’s easy to spot mothers that need some relief, couples that need some help, and fathers that are hurting.

When we see these needs in the congregation, the ministry for them comes from the congregation. The congregation is a family.

It Seems Wise

There can be a highly effective congregational ministry in theater churches, but this usually comes from ancillary church activities – small groups, soup kitchens, and so forth. But, to know the congregation, a member would have to participate in all of the ancillary church ministries to know the people.

I am not saying that it’s a sin if your local church is a theater church; however, with all of the recent shootings, I do think it may be safer for the congregation to keep their lights on. And I do believe there are some downsides to theater churches that are difficult to overcome. I am reminded that believers “are all children of light, children of the day…” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Light is a central theme of God’s Word. So is it wise for followers of Jesus to hold their congregational gatherings in darkness when we have the freedom in this country to hold them in the light?

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water flowing over fountain

Our Overflowing God

Why has Samsung come out with a new smartphone? The answer is simple. Samsung has found a way to create value from new advances in material science and the science of physics. A few hundred years ago, philosophers threw the baby out with the bathwater. Huh?

Modern Philosophy

For almost 2,000 years, philosophy was science that made scientific studies holistic. Back then, scientific studies were not just limited to studying nature to control it or make use of it. Instead, from about 300 B.C. until 1500 A.D., science valued and included morality and beauty. These abstract aspects of nature were all categorized under the heading of the “Arts” and were given equal standing with tangible science.

But in the late 1500s, Francis Bacon threw the “baby” out. He said that intangible things such as “the good,” beauty, and morality had nothing to do with science. This was the beginning of “Modern Philosophy.” That’s when the Humanities (arts) and the Sciences parted ways. Today, most college graduates receive their degree as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.

Kill it and Cut it Open

This modern science believes that if you find some new creature, no matter how lovely, kill it, cut it open, and see what’s inside. In our modern world, we assume that every scientific endeavor will provide us with value; we just have to learn how to extract it. We believe that value extraction is the purpose of science. But this is not how God works.

I agree with some theologians who believe that the nature of God continually overflows out of Him, and some flow into His creation. When we look at the night sky, we see material things such as stars, the moon, and planets. Yet we also see and understand intangible characteristics. There is beauty and wonder and magnificence in the heavens – and on earth.

Overflowing

God’s Word tells us that His mercies are new every morning. God’s Word tells us that on us, for us, and through us to others, He pours out Himself until He overflows. We’ve probably all read the 23rd Psalm:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Psalm 23:5

And we remember that what is in our hearts, either good or evil, will flow out of our mouths. (Luke 6:45) Also, no doubt, we are familiar with Jesus’ statement that with whatever measure we use to give, that measure will be used to pour back to us, but what is poured back is more; it is “pressed down, shaken together, running over. (Luke 6:38)

The nature of God is to overflow anyone or anything He touches, and He has placed this nature in us. Jesus said that out of us, rivers of living water flow. That living water is the Holy Spirit. He is in us, and he overflows out of us and onto and into others!

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

John 7:37-39

Good News

So, let’s not hold back anything from God. Let’s not be concerned that what God has given may run out. Here’s the good news. Throughout eternity, the nature of God has been flowing out of Him and into all that was, and is, and ever will be. Don’t worry. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

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