The Greatest Chess Game Ever Played


I started playing chess at 12 years of age because my cousin, Ronnie Truman, wanted to have a sparing partner. From there, I joined Chess Teams and competed through junior high and high school. When the Apple computer came out I bought a Chess program that had all the major Chess Tournaments in the world, pre-loaded so that you could watch the game and study the techniques of the Masters. I love the game, it’s world history, it’s mind-challenging foresight and prediction of future moves, and it’s infinite ability of a new game every single time you play.

The picture is three of my five grandchildren. I love teaching them as I loved teaching my own children when they were young. It’s a game that like no other game, excels in “tricking” your opponent that he or she is making the right move, when in fact, they are opening themselves up for a huge take-over in about 4 to 6 moves later. Chess is a game that is all about deception!

The greatest chess game ever played and is still on the clock, is the one by God and Satan. The entire Old Testament predicted the death of the Messiah as a substitute for the sins of his children and that is why Satan attempted to derail God’s plan to send his son; but little did Satan know that he, the great deceiver, was being duped by God. ‘

Satan first attempted to take Jesus out as a baby by inciting King Herod to slaughter all the baby boys 2 years old and under in the region where Jesus was born. Satan’s next move that we see was to disqualify him in the wilderness by getting Jesus to distrust his father’s care for him. Next, Satan begins to attack the Father’s moves by stirring up jealousy in the hearts of the Pharisees – they’ll pepper him with questions by which will humiliate him and the crowds will turn away from Jesus. Satan kept this strategy up for over two years.

What was the Father doing? Setting up the checkmate. With every move the Father was cleverly deceiving Satan into thinking that he was getting the upper hand. Finally, in a rage of furious moves, one after another, like world champions coming down to the final moves moving faster and faster, Satan switches his technique: ever since Jesus’ baptism, Satan has been trying to publicly disgrace and disqualify him in front of his peers, but it’s not working.

Satan then incites Judas Iscariot to betray him – he incites a mob crowd to demand crucifixion – he moves Pontius Pilate to be more fearful of resisting the crowds plea than doing the right thing and releasing him. It seems that God the Father has been out-maneuvered at last. God is boxed in and the gambit is set. Jesus, the most valuable piece on the board is going to be taken – he’s exposed – the Father must sacrifice his very best. Game over?

“Not so fast”, says the Father. “I’ve got one more move to make: Resurrection!” Now that is a Champion Move. Instead of surrendering like a good loser, Satan, stunned to silence and filled with furry (“for he knows his time is short”), resorts to persecuting those who love the priceless treasure of the Father.


Fear not Church – the Father is still playing. The grandest move is yet to come and it is certain: “. . . and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).



So Sad to See a Growing Hatred for this >

Gender Symbols Heads Man Woman Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 203496637

This is truly an exceptional explanation of the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman. And yet, it is one of most despised views of marriage that is gaining momentum. I pray for the institution of marriage that displays what Christ has done for his bride.


“Lord, have mercy on us!”

Hope - Heritage Church TexarkanaThis poem is by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601). It was penned during the plague that swept across Europe in those days; the title of the poem comes from the first line. It is unlikely you’ll not read any modern day poems that face the reality of our finite and brief existence with such clarity and recognition. Psalm 90 nicely could be the backdrop of such sober words. May we live our lives this week with courage and hope in the only thing that lasts through pandemic, plague, cancer, heart attack, car wrecks, flu, pneumonia, virus, infection, or old age: A Life With a Merciful Savior.

Adieu, farewell earth’s bliss,                                                                                                          This world uncertain is;                                                                                                                Fond are life’s lustful joys,                                                                                                                Death proves them all but toys,                                                                                                  None from his darts can fly.                                                                                                                I am sick, I must die.                                                                                                                      Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,                                                                                                              Gold cannot buy you health;                                                                                                      Physic himself must fade,                                                                                                                All things to end are made.                                                                                                              The plague fully swift goes by.                                                                                                            I am sick, I must die.                                                                                                                      Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty is but a flower                                                                                                                  Which wrinkles will devour;                                                                                                    Brightness falls from the air,                                                                                                    Queens have died young and fair,                                                                                                Dust hath closed Helen’s eye.                                                                                                              I am sick, I must die.                                                                                                                      Lord, have mercy on us!

Strength stoops unto the grave,                                                                                                      Worms feed on Hector brave,                                                                                                    Swords may not fight with fate,                                                                                                  Earth still holds ope her gate.                                                                                                      Come! Come! The bells do cry,                                                                                                            I am sick, I must die.                                                                                                                        Lord, have mercy on us!

“How to Engage in Politics Without Losing Your Soul”

I found this several years ago and kept a copy of it. May it serve you well in these days. Ivan

By Dr. Andrew Jackson


I titled this post based on Jesus’ statement found in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” The reason that I chose this convicting passage is because over the years I have watched many Christians who became zealously active in partisan politics actually “lose their souls.”

That is, they lost their unique public witness as a Christian; they began to act contrary to the character of Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and they became agents of division within the church itself.

Below I offer 10 biblical guidelines on how Christians can engage in politics without “losing their souls.”

1 – Christians must never allow ourselves to equate the biblical Kingdom of God with any human political party or nation (John 18:36; Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 6:33, Philippians 3:20, Revelation 11:15). As Christians we must be diligent in maintaining and preserving the distinctiveness between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. We must never fuse the two. The great “utopian illusion” that easily enters our politics is that peace, harmony, and prosperity for all can be brought about in the world through human political means.

2 – Christians must never allow ourselves to elevate a specific politician to a messianic or savior status (1 Peter 3:15). In our entertainment and celebrity culture, it is becoming more common for people to infuse politicians with almost a messianic or savior status. In other words, people begin to believe a politician’s extraordinary promises and that they actually can single-handedly produce almost supernatural social results. As Christians, we have one Lord, and we must resist all attempts to exalt any human politician to unrealistic heights.

3 – Christians must not just vote, but more importantly, we must pray for our government and the leaders of all political parties (Matthew 5:44, 1 Timothy 2:1-2). In our polarized political society, many Christians are tempted to bless the politician or political party they support, and curse the other one they don’t. How unbiblical! The Bible is clear, we are to pray for all political and government leaders, even our political enemies.

4 – Christians must always remember that our ultimate security is in Christ and in the unshakeable kingdom of God, no matter what presidential candidate or party wins (Hebrews 12:26-29). One of the dangers that many Christians seem to often fall into is that we begin to elevate the outcome of presidential elections to an apocalyptic status. In other words, if our presidential candidate or party does not win, we begin to see it as the end of the world. This is what I call the “Y2K complex.”

When we allow ourselves to understand politics in apocalyptic terms, we at the same time express an unbelief in the sovereignty and Lordship of God over his creation and human history. Yes, elections have real consequences for people, but in the larger scheme of history, don’t worry, no matter who becomes our president, God is in control and will take care of things.

5 – Christians must never allow ourselves to bring the divisiveness and polarization of political parties into the church, the family of God (Romans 16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:11-12). We cannot allow partisan politics to divide the body of Christ. Individual Christians have freedom of conscience before God and the Bible, and as a result, we must accept the fact that there will be diversity of political opinions in the church. We must never allow diverse political perspectives cause conflict and divisions in the church.

6 – Christians must never allow ourselves to demonize or dehumanize another person – no matter what politician it is – because every single human has been created in the image of God (Colossians 3:8, Matthew 7:1, James 4:12). Christians must not engage in demeaning and judging other people, no matter whether we agree with them politically or not.

7 – Christians must never engage in angry confrontational arguments, instead of being open to learn through civil debate and dialogue (James 1:20, Philippians 2:14-16, 2 Timothy 2:14). When we interact with other people with hard-core dogmatic positions, we demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans the character of Christ. As Christians we must humble ourselves, understand that as humans we are limited in our understanding, and that we all can learn more about the very complex issues that face our nation. Christians must always engage in politics through a path of reason and civility.

8 – Christians must never allow ourselves to become so intertwined so closely with one political party that we forfeit our independent identity as followers of Christ. When we do, we lose the prophetic voice to speak and clarify biblical truth to all politicians and political parties (1 Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 4:15, Romans 3:4).

9 – Christians must never allow ourselves to engage in partisan politics by supporting divisiveness between races, between male and female, between rich and poor, and between the young and old (Matthew 5:9, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Electoral politics is all about dividing society into specific voting blocks. And as a result, politics usually divides our society, instead of uniting it. Christians must always function as peacemakers and reconcilers in the public square, and resist every temptation to join the political tactics of dividing people for political gain.

10 – Christians must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of simply cursing the darkness through negativity, instead of constructively engaging our world as preserving salt and illuminating light (Matthew 5:13-16). The cultural and missional mandate of kingdom Christians requires us to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting more candles that reflects God’s truth, compassion, and love.

And since songs speak so powerfully to this subject – have a blessed day!

For Abigail

About 7 weeks ago Cheryl and I were babysitting our youngest, and only granddaughter, Abigail (we have been blessed with four precious grandsons). I had been working on another soft classical tune in my mind on my German Hofner classical guitar. Abigail was fussy and did not want to take her nap. So I pulled this tune out, slightly unfinished, and played it for her while Cheryl held her. Lights Out! She literally closed her eyes and immediately fell asleep. May I say a word to you about the role of quiet, soft, melodic music.

1 Samuel 16:14-23

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. 
And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 
Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 
So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 
One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” 
Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 
And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 
And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 
And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 
And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.


When David played upon the lyre (a close example of one below) king Saul was “refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him” (vs. 23b). Saul was a wicked and ungodly king who detested the Lord. However, the Lord’s Spirit led him to govern, out of mercy for Israel. But the Lord also sent a judgmental depressive and sorrowful spirit (emotional grievance), upon the wicked king. But yet, God was merciful. He sent David, a lowly shepherd who was skilled at playing instruments. And when David played for the wicked king in his depression, the Lord was gracious to remove the darkness of anxiety, sorrow, and gloom of hope.

Since the age of 9 I have played countless hours for my parents and sisters and family, wife, children, grandchildren, college and seminary audiences, my church family, and many others – on front porches, back yards, nursing homes, assisted living, para-church organizations, schools, chapels of sorts, and hospital rooms. It has been and still is a great blessing from the Lord to be used to bring live music into peoples lives. But where is this really coming from? Certainly not from me.

It comes from The Musical God that loves us with Music. Music is a gift given to us from a musical God. He knows music better than Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. Every note on the treble cleff and the G cleff (bass cleff) is ordained of God to produce an infinite array of sounds that to this day speak to an arena of emotions. Our God is incredibly merciful to us to sooth our sorrows through music.

May the Lord be your source of quietness in these days as we wait upon him who offers himself to us so that we may wean our hearts from anxiety and fear as a child is weaned with its mother (Psalm 131).


Abide With Me, Fast Falls the Eventide

This past Sunday we worshiped the Lord with this beautiful hymn/prayer. Here is the history behind it. May you be encouraged!

Abide with Me” is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte (June 1, 1793 – November 20, 1847). It is most often sung to the tune Eventide by William Henry Monk. For most of his life Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was customary at that time.

There is some controversy as to the exact dating of the text to Abide with Me. An article in The Spectator, 3 Oct. 1925, says that Lyte composed the hymn in 1820 while visiting a dying friend. It was related that Lyte was staying with the Hore family in County Wexford and had visited an old friend, William Augustus Le Hunte, who was dying. As Lyte sat with the dying man, William kept repeating the phrase “Abide With Me…”. After leaving William’s bedside Lyte wrote the hymn and gave a copy of it to Le Hunte’s family.

The belief is that when Lyte felt his own end approaching twenty-seven years later at the age of 54, as he developed tuberculosis, he recalled the lines he had written so many years before in County Wexford, Ireland. The Biblical link for the hymn is Luke 24:29 in which the disciples asked Jesus to abide with them “for it is toward evening and the day is spent”. Using his friend’s more personal phrasing “Abide with Me”, Lyte composed the hymn. His daughter, Anna Maria Maxwell Hogg, recounts the story of how “Abide with Me” came out of that context:

The summer was passing away, and the month of September arrived, and each day seemed to have a special value as being one day nearer his departure. His family were surprised and almost alarmed at his announcing his intention of preaching once more to his people. His weakness and the possible danger attending the effort, were urged to prevent it, but in vain. “It was better”, as he used to say often playfully, when in comparative health, “to wear out than to rust out”. He felt that he should be enabled to fulfill his wish, and feared not for the result. His expectation was well founded. He did preach, and amid the breathless attention of his hearers, gave them a sermon on the Holy Communion … In the evening of the same day he placed in the hands of a near and dear relative the little hymn, “Abide with Me,” with an air of his own composing, adapted to the words.[1]

Just weeks later, on 20 November 1847 in Nice, France, then in the Kingdom of Sardinia, Lyte died. The hymn was sung for the very first time at Lyte’s funeral.

The Moon is Always Round

Yesterday in worship we, Grace Community Church, made available to our congregation to purchase this book to read to their little ones; we previously bought a handy bulk of them so that they could be available to our church family.

I heartily encourage you to get a copy for your children or grandchildren, or for a young child that you care about this Christmas Season who has experienced great sorrow, so that they too can trust that God is Always good even when we can’t see the fullness of his beauty in the midst of sorrow. The Moon is Always Round even when we can’t see the fullness of it’s beauty in the midst of darkness – that’s the way it is with God!


Ballad of the Unborn

Image result for abortion

In 1972, the year before our government sanctioned the legal ability to put a human to death while growing inside his/her mother, Fay Clayton wrote and published this poem on November 8, seeing what was coming. Do not confuse this Fay Clayton with the Fay Clayton of 1994 who was a Chicago attorney for the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) who successfully sued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that abortion protesters can be sued for racketeering.

Anyway, back to Fay Clayton of 1972. Her poem deserves our prayers that abortion in America would be outlawed like it is in . . . “The Ballad of the Unborn”

My shining feet will never run
On early morning lawn;
My feet were crushed before they had
A chance to greet the dawn

My fingers will never stretch
To touch the winning tape;
My race was done before I learned
The smallest steps to take

My growing height will never be
Recorded on a wall;
My growth was stopped when I was still
Unseen and very small

My lips and tongue will never taste
The good fruits of the earth;
For I myself was judged to be
A fruit of little worth

My eyes will never scan the sky
For my high-flying kite;
For when still blind, destroyed were they
In the black womb of the night

I’ll never stand upon a hill
Spring winds in my hair;
Aborted winds of thought closed in
On motherhood’s despair

I’ll never walk the shores of life
Or know the tides of time;
For I was coming but unloved,
And that my only crime

Nameless am I, a grain of sand
One of the countless dead,
But the deed that make me ashen grey
Floats on seas of red

Beto O’Rourke knows the difference between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

Image result for beto o'rourke

Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and Christianity all have one thing in common: Monotheism, the belief that there is One God. But only Christianity believes that there are three persons (Trinitarianism) within that one Godhead: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This post has very little to do with defending the teaching of the Trinity according to what Jesus said, but rather highlights a peculiar distaste and intolerance for one specific people: he who is commonly known as O’Rourke hates Christians – he is Christophobic! Proof?

He is more than ready to punish any follower of Jesus Christ for believing that sex and marriage belongs only to a man and a woman . . . but he’s not going after Muslims who believe and follow the Q’uran and Mohammad’s teaching that homosexuals should die, nor is he going after Orthodox Jews who believe it’s an abomination, but only those, as he said, within the “church” – i.e., those who love and follow Jesus Christ. Which means, O’Rourke is just peachy with Monotheism that condemns homosexuality but not with Trinitarianism that condemns homosexuality. You can believe that there is One God and reject homosexuality and you are safe from political percussion and assassination within the Democratic clubhouse, but if you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God [the Father], born of the Holy Spirit, and reject homosexuality, then you are a homophobic and you will be silenced and punished!

You see, the real issue is not what kind of sexuality is permissible, but rather, what kind of belief is permissible. You can believe that there is One God and condemn homosexuality, but you cannot believe that Jesus is both God and Man and condemn homosexuality . . . and THAT IS WHY O’Rourke and many like him despise Christianity, not because we believe that there is One God (like the Muslim and Orthodox Jew), but because we believe that Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe who was raised from the dead and will return and judge those who rejected him and his teaching about sexuality, which has to do with one groom and one bride.

If O’Rourke wants to remove all tax exemptions from any and everyone who prohibits any kind of sexual activity outside of a married man and woman, then I suggest he storm the gates of every Mosque and Synagogue in America and to their face condemn them for their homophobic views! But he won’t – and no one on his side of the sexual-gender-redefinition-revolution will either. Why not? Because sex is not the issue: it’s Jesus! Jesus himself said that they will come after you not because of any of your moral/sexual positions of teaching, but because of HIM! Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and Christianity have two things in common: we all believe there is One God and we all believe that sex belongs only to a married man and woman. But what we don’t have in common is that Jesus is both fully God and Man and that Jesus, the Groom, married a wife, the church, and that between Jesus and his bride is THE standard for all human marriage (Gen. 2; Matt. 19; Eph. 5). That is why Jesus said that you will be hated by every nation on the earth (Matthew 24:9), and that includes America and it’s elitist-intolerant-Voldemorts!

Image result for voldemort

Jesus himself is the most threatening person that ever lived. And by the political elites’ actions in recent years, they are proving Him right. For if Jesus is still dead, they would not be fighting so hard against Him.

He Lives! He’s the Real King! He’s Coming! And he’s bringing his vengeance upon those who rejected Him and His Father (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). But for all those who have loved him, and have suffered the world’s rejection because of him, nothing but glory and everlasting peace (vss. 5-12).


Jesus – the best Chess Player in the World!

Timeless Chess Set - Chess Set - Chess-House

Ever since 7th grade I have loved playing chess, and for many reasons. Here is one: I would rather stalemate than lose. But not Jesus: he purposely lost the game so that we would both win. Let me explain, if I can:

In the game of Chess,  a stalemate occurs when one player gets the others’ king in a position where everywhere the king tries to move he puts himself in check,  or, “line of fire” and that’s illegal.  If this happens it is because there are no other pieces for the player with the stalled king to move – they’re all taken or blocked and it’s his turn to move but he can’t.  And since the attacking opponent cannot move until his opponent does – which he can’t,  the game is stalemate.  Why?  Because neither party has the authority or power to move.  Neither party,  by rules of the game,  can overcome the stalemate.

Jesus lamented over the Jews saying,  “O Jerusalem,  Jerusalem,  the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together,  as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,  but you were not willing.  See!  Your house is left to you desolate”  (Matthew 23:37-38).  Israel is unwilling to make a move toward her Messiah and Jesus can’t move toward her to rescue her because she is unwilling.  Jesus wants to save her but he can’t because she does not want to be saved – thus, there is a stalemate!  Neither party can do anything.   Neither party is getting what they want.  Israel is not getting what she wants,  her Messiah,  because she is not willing to come to Jesus,  the only Messiah for Israel;  and Jesus is not getting what he wants,  his Jewish Remnant,  because he is not willing to do anything more than to wait and hope.   If Israel is to be saved,  someone must be willing and have the authority to break out of the stalemate.

A student of Matthew’s gospel may object to the sincerity of Jesus’ desire to save Israel since Jesus was the one who hid the truth from them by speaking in parables,  insuring that judgment would fall upon them as Isaiah foretold (Matthew 13:10-15;  Luke 8:10).  But God’s Divine initiative to judge his people with spiritual blindness because of their sin does not invalidate His desire to save them.  God can be both severe and desirous at the same time.  But this is no game!  We are not simply gazing at carved inanimate objects on a board;  we are staring with sorrow at generations of Jews,  millions and millions of them who have come under a severe blindness from God.  Our humble comfort is that it was not total and that it was not without a good purpose! (Romans 11:25).

More broadly speaking, if Jesus only offers himself and does nothing more for our unwilling hearts then everyone loses.  Someone has to be unwilling to suffer the stalemate any longer,  and this someone has to have the power and authority to break position.  The question is:  Who is this someone?  The answer is Jesus! “. . . For not all (physical) Israel belong to (spiritual) Israel”, and, “And in this way all Israel will be saved”, that is, both Jew and Gentile who have been chosen by God (Romans 9:6ff; 11:26-27).  It is true,  no one will see Jesus as the Messiah unless the Father causes you to see who Jesus is (Matthew 11:27; 16:17).  In order for anyone to see Jesus as her Messiah he must be made to see with new eyes.  This is where the stalemate ends – and it ends with God who refuses to be resisted any longer (Romans 9:19-24).  For everyone, both Jew and Gentile, our only hope is God’s sovereign initiative to give us a willing heart,  without which,  no one has any ability or desire to do what they need to do (Deut. 30:6;  Jer. 31:33-34; 33:19-26; John 6:37ff).

I said earlier that Jesus can’t do anything but hope and wait.  That would be true if Jesus was not sovereign and merciful.  It would be perfectly just of Jesus to only offer himself to people who are unwilling – but that’s the problem,  sinners will always be unwilling.  But it would be merciful if he would “break position”  and “pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication;  then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes,  they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son,  and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).  The Stalemate Is Canceled By Sovereign Grace!  It is gracious indeed for God to offer salvation to unwilling sinners (Romans 10:21).  But it is Sovereign Grace that goes beyond the mere offer (Romans 11:27) that makes unwilling sinners willing (John 6:37ff; 10:16, 26-30; 17:1-10)!

I’m so thankful that Jesus cleverly overcame a stalemate that would have cost me my eternal soul . . . he out-maneuvered my rebellion against him and graciously won the game on my behalf by losing his life so that I could live. It’s a win-win!