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What does “El Al Airlines” mean?

When I was in Israel a couple of years ago, our Israeli guide told us that the name of the Israel’s airline, El Al Airlines, meant “God of the skies,” or “God of the heavens.” This was the name chosen for the airline in 1948, and the name comes from the Old Testament prophet, Hosea 11:7.

Reading a book recently, I was prompted to investigate online. It seems almost all secular sources, from Wikipedia on down, have chosen to drop the name of God. They all say the translation is simply, “To the skies” — that el is a preposition.

I am not a Hebrew scholar, but any Bible scholar knows that El in the Old Testament means “God.” It is short for Elyon and is included in numerous names for God, such as Elohim, El-Elyon, El Shaddai, et al.

Furthermore, some English translators insist that in this case Al is a noun, meaning the One Most High.

Very interesting.  Is this just another widespread secular effort to ignore God?

Pastor Jim

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Super Bowl

Many Americans will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday evening. It has become an iconic event in our society. As always, there will be a number of athletes with clear Christian testimonies playing for each team.

One player who will not be in the Super Bowl this year is Drew Brees, the record-setting quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. Any sports fan is familiar with the major controversy where almost everyone agrees the referees missed a key call in the NFC championship game which cost New Orleans the championship and the right to play in the Super Bowl.

There have been lawsuits, articles, interviews, protests and appeals to the NFL commissioner to re-play the game. Of course, nothing can reverse the game’s outcome.

This week we saw an outstanding example of leadership and spiritual maturity on the part of Drew Brees. Brees is a born-again Christian, with a strong Christian commitment. He was an inspirational leader in leading the New Orleans recovery after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. If you get a chance, look up the statement he made this week online. It is worth reading. He talks about accepting the situation as it is and permitting this adversity to draw the Saints “Who Dat Nation” together for greater success in the future. It is a remarkable statement — no animosity, resentment or revenge. Let’s pull together and let adversity prepare us for greater success in the future. Well said. I admire Drew Brees.

Pastor Jim

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God With Us!

Isaiah 7:14 says the name of the Messiah, the Christ, shall be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” For those of us who know Christ as our Savior, God is with us to this day. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is with us in our humanity. Jesus stepped out of eternity and took upon Himself the form of a man. He emptied himself and faced all that we face in this world as a man. So, he can fully relate to us.

God is with us in our sins. Although he faced temptation, he never sinned. But he was tempted in all points as we are (Hebrews 4:15). And he walked among us and saw the sins of mankind.

God is with us in our failures. He took our sins upon Himself and suffered for us — Isaiah 53:3-5.

God is with us in our hopes. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians that Christ indwells us as the “hope of glory.”

And God is with us in our dreams. No matter what we face, we have a God who has all authority in heaven and on earth — Matthew 28:18.

This is the Christ of Christmas! His name shall be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

Pastor Jim

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Value of Kindness

This is the time of the year when a smile or an act of kindness can go a long way in encouraging someone.

Years ago a young man was selling products door-to-door to work his way through medical school. Tired, discouraged & broke, he knocked on the door of a young lady. She immediately went to the kitchen and got him a tall glass of milk. He was so refreshed & encouraged that he never forgot this act of kindness. Even though he was broke, he asked her what he owed her. She said nothing! He said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” The young man, Howard Kelly, went on his way.

Years later this same lady was stricken with a rare disease which baffled the doctors. She was in critical condition, when the local doctors sent her to the city to medical specialists, who were also baffled. Finally, they called in Dr. Howard Kelly. Dr. Kelly immediately recognized this wife & mother as the lady who years earlier had done him such a favor. He applied his expertise, solved her case, treated her successfully and watched her recover.

Dr. Kelly instructed the hospital to send her bill to him. He wrote a message on the bill and sent it to the woman’s room. She opened it with trembling hands, thinking she would spend the rest of her life paying it off. On the bill, the words were written — “PAID IN FULL — with one glass of milk.” (Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly

This is a true story. Dr. Howard Kelly was one of the four founders of America’s first medical research hospital, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Let’s each of us do something kind for someone this Christmas season!

Pastor Jim


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Universal Salvation

It is surprising how prevalent the false idea of universal salvation is in many religions and even Christian denominations. Universal salvation is the idea that everyone ultimately is going to go to heaven — that God’s house is big enough for all views and that there are many ways to heaven. It carries the idea that no one is such a sinner that they will not eventually go to heaven. Universal salvation goes hand-in-hand with the idea of purgatory — where eventually all sins are purged or washed away by a benevolent God.

Both are false teachings, according to the Bible.

The Bible teaches there is only one way to heaven and that is by faith in the complete sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for our sins. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And faith in Christ is the only way to heaven. Every sinner needs a Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) This is why those of us who believe the Bible are committed to evangelism and missions.

No Scripture teaches that God is going to gather everyone together for a second chance, to understand the truth after death, and then all ultimately end up in heaven. Contrary to that, the Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) The Bible knows nothing of a second chance after death.

The Apostle Paul warns us all in II Timothy 4:4 not to turn aside to “fables.” Both purgatory and universal salvation are fables.

Pastor Jim

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I was at a dinner meeting with several ministers of various denominations recently, when a discussion of the doctrine of “purgatory” took place. I listened attentively, and finally the question was posed to me: “Rev. Wigton, what is the view of Baptists regarding purgatory?”

I did not hesitate to answer that Baptists believe the words of the Apostle Paul, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Cor. 5:8) Furthermore, I answered, the Apostle Paul says, “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

There is no Scriptural basis for purgatory, which makes the teaching of purgatory a false doctrine. The Christian doctrines that we believe today come from the Bible and have been articulated for some 2,000 years. The doctrine of purgatory became popular in the 12th century and became official in 1245 A.D. It is a man-made doctrine, not pretending to come from Scripture but from the authority of the “Church.”

In recent years some have tried to find vague Scriptural foundations for purgatory, but there are none. The verses cited have so little to do in establishing purgatory that it is not worth our time to refute them. There is simply no biblical basis for purgatory.

The concept of “purging” or washing away our sins is biblical – but always such purging is based upon our faith in the completed work of Christ on the Cross and the effectiveness of His blood. The Apostle John tells us, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) And if we confess our sins, He cleanses us. (I John 1:9)

To believe one must face further penance or purging of sin after death is to deny the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of Christ’s death and shed blood. John tells us Christ is the “propitiation” (or satisfaction) for our sin. (I John 2:2)

The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) We will be judged, John says, on whether we are in Christ. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:12) And there is no second chance – no purgatory. We die once – in Christ or not in Christ.

We are not in Christ through the church nor through baptism. We are in Christ by voluntarily putting our faith in Him as one’s only Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power (right) to become children of God.” (John 1:12) Every sinner needs a Savior, and only Christ qualifies to cleanse away our sins and save us.

Pastor Jim


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