Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Critiquing the Critics

There is both a destructive and constructive criticism. The effect of the former is discouragement; the result of the latter is encouragement. The first always comes from a position of superior attitude and the second from a humble spirit. It is sad, but many times a Mr. Hyde is disguised in a Doctor Jeckel’s scrubs when feigning to help one correct something in his or her life.

But you can be certain who the imposter is. He will make you want to give up; while the other, who is interested only in your welfare will stimulate you to go on. It is always wise when offering criticism to offer it as though we were on the receiving end (Gal.6:1). You know, like our Lord said, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

Let us remind ourselves when sitting in the critic’s seat that what goes around comes around.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quotable Quotes

In my writings I often quote a wide range of sources. I don’t use them as authorities with whom I always agree but simply to get over a point in most cases. After all, Bible writers quoted things Satan said (Mt. 4). And don’t forget Paul, who quoted both secular poets (Acts 17:28) and the false prophets of his day (Titus 1:12). I quote such writers as C.S. Lewis, an Anglican; G.K. Chesterton, a Roman Catholic; and George MacDonald, a Congregationalist; along with many, many others. I believe I’d quote Daffy Duck if I thought it would help someone on to God!

Many people get a real blessing from my quotes, but a few are bothered by them. They quibble about my quotes. I have found such people limit themselves to only those writers and books with whom they agree. It is obvious that Paul was an avid reader. While incarcerated, he requested that Timothy bring his books. He also encouraged the young man to “give attendance to reading.” It is plain that Paul did not restrict his reading to the approved list of his peers.

I believe it was Plato who said something along the line of, “Every man knows something I do not know; therefore, every man is my teacher.” It is sad to meet people who will not learn from those with whom they disagree. I have found their libraries usually consist only of those writers within their own camp. They are self-imposed literary shut-ins, if you please. They’re intellectual recluses.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Inside-Out Thinking

I am a strong advocate of, as they say, “Thinking outside the box.” But I must qualify my statement by saying, you must first do a little thinking inside the box. If not, you’re no better than an “arm chair scholar.” And who wants to take advice from one who has never been out of his or her easy chair?

Solutions seem to be received more readily from one who can say, “I sat where they sat.” The blessed Lord Jesus was such a person. His life was not spent in isolation from civilization, but in participation with humanity. As the old timers would say, “He dwelt smack-dab in the middle of mankind.

To see life only from the outside leaves one heartless; but to see it only from the inside, helpless. I like what G.K.Chesterton said in his little book, “Wit and Wisdom.” Commenting along the lines we have been discussing he writes, “I would always trust the old wives’ fables against the old maids’ facts.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Novelty Doctrines

I am not a theologian, but I do profess to be a student of the Word of God. I’ve mined its pages for some fifty years now. There are numerous controversies that have arisen in the interpretation of the scriptures. The reason being, as my older son so ably states, “Because we have an infallible Bible, doesn’t mean we are.” We are still fallible creatures and subject to error.

Because some do not have the patience to keep digging, they give up before striking pay dirt. Such a person never discovers the true riches hid between the covers of God’s Book. Whenever men give up on the truth of the Father, invariably they turn to the traditions of their fathers; thus making the Word of God of none effect. This is where all the “novelty doctrines” find their inception.

Two such man-made fads have arisen from taking the extreme position of either John Calvin (the Sovereignty of God), or Jacobus Arminius (the free will of man). I find whenever you have two such extreme positions, keeping the pendulum in the middle is the safest and most sure way. Therefore I offer the following. It may not satisfy some, but I am comfortable with it (Ro.14:5b).

Paul affirms we were in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4a). But the same man states in Ro.16:7 that other brethren were in Christ before him. Therefore the one must be speaking positionally and the latter experimentally. One makes you safe, the other makes you saved. It seems to me (a fallible creature) that in eternity past we were only “In Christ” in the mind of God. Else we were never “In Adam.” And if that be the case, we were never lost.

Well that’s my two-cent’s worth. It may not sound like much, but it has been of great value to me through these long years of listening to the controversy on the subject.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eaten Up With Ourselves

And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto
the man whom the king delighteth to honour?
Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the
king delight to do honour more than to myself?”
Haman, like so many of us, was eaten up with himself. Such people think more highly of themselves than they ought. They think themselves to be something when they are nothing; so says the Apostle. When our candles go out, there will still be seven thousand reserved to continue dispensing light. We need not worry; the world will not be plunged into total darkness without our flicker.

Whenever we call it a day, I guarantee, it will be “business as usual” the following day. Those who think to the contrary are simply manifesting that they are low people with haughty thoughts. None of us is indispensable (absolutely necessary), but, rather, incidental (secondary or minor). As someone has said, “God’s workers die, but His work lives on.”

David knew this truth. He said, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind.” All the monuments and memorials will not change this fact. You know, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Life goes on. Certainly we will be called to remembrance from time to time by Christian loved ones, but their life will not be centered on us; that is reserved for Jesus Christ alone. You see, He will not share His rightful place with us in this life or the next.

Get used to being ordinary, only He is extraordinary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

*A Sad Commentary.

…thou hast…cast me behind thy back.” The only other time this phrase is used in Scripture is in Ezekiel, shortly before Israel went into captivity, where God says to His people, “…thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back.” In our text, God is speaking to Jeroboam. We are told he was “…a mighty man of valor…and industrious.” God had promised that if he lived for the Lord, He would give him “…all that thy soul desireth.” But, sad to say, like many of us today, he set his idols before God.

Whenever we put anything before God, it becomes an idol. And to accomplish this we must first cast God behind our backs, as Jeroboam did. How heartbreaking, after all God had done for, and given to, this man, for him to put God in the rear of the bus, so to speak. The Lord’s indictment of him was, “…thou hast not been as my servant David…who followed me with all his heart.” This ex-shepherd boy’s testimony was, “I have set the Lord always before me.”
Jesus told Satan to get behind Him; many Christians are telling God that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Follows the Other

Christians, who are considered by some to be a notch above their peers, seem to be falling into sexual sins on a regular basis. For the last few years hardly a week passes that you do not hear the tragic news of some professing saint who has committed, or is committing, the Scarlet Sin. I’m afraid it is becoming the accepted norm among Believers. The question being asked by many is, “How are the mighty fallen?”

In Webster’s Dictionary the word infidelity (unfaithfulness in marriage) follows the word infidel (one who does not believe). There is such a thing as an unbelieving Believer, you know. When one loses faith they lose their moral values also. I agree with C.S. Lewis when he says, “Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.” I do not personally believe anyone has ever committed physical adultery until first committing spiritual adultery. One follows the other.

The gospel singer, Steve Green, sings a song entitled, “Guard Your Heart.” Only an on-going, day-to-day, passionate love affair with Jesus Christ can guard us against this destructive sin. It is not fear of God’s chastening, or Him hurting us that will keep us from adultery. It is fearing we will hurt Him, the Lover of our souls, which will keep us from the arms of another.

If any happen to doubt the validity of this article, read the book of Hosea.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get Hold of Yourself

I believe it was Hudson Taylor who, when asked by a young man to pray he’d rise up at five in the morning for devotions, said, “No! Then added, “But I will pray God will help you after you put your first foot to the floor.” The very fact that God is said to be our helper throughout scripture shows we are in the equation. Most certainly the Lord will do for us what we cannot do ourselves, but you’ll have a long wait, if you’re waiting for Him to do for you what you can do yourself. Taken in the right context, the little quip, “God helps those who help themselves,” is true.

We need to take ourselves in hand from time to time. Yes, we need to give ourselves a good talking to, if you please. David said, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” We are told Solomon, “Communed with [his] own heart.” Nehemiah tells us, “I consulted with myself.” And the old apostle says, “I determined this with myself…” Sometimes we need to take ourselves by the nape of the neck and give ourselves a good shaking. Twice God tells Job in the midst of the mess he was in, when he was prone to pity himself, “Gird up now thy loins like a man.”

I guarantee you, if we refuse to use the faculties God has endowed us with, we need not expect Him to use them! It’s a sham spirituality that will not use a sanctified mind to figure a way out of one’s predicament.

*The Sect I Belong To.

“This sect...everywhere is spoken against.” In the real sense of its meaning today, I am not a Calvinist, though I believe in the sovereignty of God and election. Nor am I an Arminian, yet I believe, “whosoever will” is a legitimate offer. I am not a Dispensationalist, but I try to rightly dispense God’s Word. I am not a Fundamentalist, or an Evangelical, but I do believe in the fundamentals of the Faith, and the great historic doctrines of the Church. I am not in every sense a Baptist, but I am Baptistic in doctrine.

In other words, the only “sect” I belong to is the one that is known as “Christian.” This historic group takes in all the above beliefs—plus. By belonging only to this body I can love, and fellowship with, all God’s people, no matter what their name or the minor beliefs they subscribe to. The one and only issue is the doctrine of Christ. This is what John emphasized in his three small Epistles.

It’s a good and liberating feeling to know you no longer live in a pigeon hole with others just like you, continually rehashing the same old things, year after year. This type of person never grows spiritually or intellectually. What a blessing to listen to, and learn about, other points of view, from good and godly people of a different persuasion.

I want all men to know I am His disciple. But this can never be, till I love all God’s people. Nothing can separate me from God’s love (Rom.8). If I am to be God-like, nothing should separate my brothers and sisters from my love.

Rotting Within

Though I am not familiar with the name, there is a disease that rots every bone in a person’s body. There is also a spiritual disease that does the same. “Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones.” This was the cause of Saul’s demise. He couldn’t stand to see, or hear, of someone doing something better than he.

How we need to emulate “the man Moses [who] was very meek, above all the men which were upon the earth.” When Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, Joshua asked Moses to forbid them. And what was the great prophet’s reply? “Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”

‘Tis very hard to behold our own gifts without pride, and the gifts of others without envy.

Between the Slices

“A thousand mile journey begins with one step.” So says the Chinese proverb. How many of us want to leap-frog from where we are, to the place we desire to be. This is distinctly a characteristic of youth, but we need not think we seniors have completely shed this adolescent trait. It’s easy to forget each new venture has not only a beginning and ending, but there is a process sandwiched in between.

Plans, visions, desires, dreams, etc., all come to pass by patient continuance. Life is starting with the raw and ending with the finished product. The secret of obtaining the latter is producing to perfection. We need to constantly remind ourselves to do the next thing. If we bypass what’s next, we will end up at a dead end. No matter how long and tedious the journey, it’s worth it if you end up at your desired end.

As Good As It Gets.

No sincere person ever spent time in Christ’s presence and remained unchanged. Like the lifeless form of the man who revived after touching the bones of Elisha, so it is with all who come into contact with Jesus Christ. They are made alive.

In the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” Jack Nicholson’s character makes a profound statement that every Christian can relate to when applying it to our Lord. He says, “You make me want to be a better man.” Genuinely serious men and women, who have a real relationship with Christ, testify to the fact that He makes them want to be a better person.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those whom we come in contact with could go away saying this about us?

The Absence of Grace

The Bible tells us God is the “…God of all grace,” that His grace is sufficient, and that He “…giveth more grace.” Why, then, is it that there are times in the Christian’s life when there is an absence of grace? He promises not to put on us more than we can bear. Yet, at times, it seems we will be crushed under the load we carry.

For me, there seems to be a trio of reasons for this. First, we may not be under the umbrella of His will. Outside of it, we are open to all the elements of this world. Second, it may be the simple fact that we do no appropriate it. If God is said to “…give grace,” then we must reach out the hand of faith and take it to ourselves.

Lastly, the lies Satan tells us about our situations may hide grace in the shadows. At such times, the thing to do is put on the “armour of light,” showing him up for who and what he is, and shining the spotlight on God’s wonderful grace. For, you see, she is standing there watching and waiting for us to befriend her.

To be grace-less is to be helpless.

Our Precious Faith

“…to them that have obtained like precious faith with us…” In Peter’s two brief Epistles, he lists five things that are precious to a believer, one of which is our faith. I’m sure one reason it is so called is because it unites the weakest, as well as the strongest Christian, to Christ.

Precious faith? Yes, but we must remember, the more precious a thing is, the more counterfeits there are of it. There is a counterfeit faith that cannot quiet the heart or conquer one’s fears. We are told, there is a feigned faith as well as an “unfeigned” one. There is effectual and ineffectual faith. There is an operative working faith and a workless one. Let’s make sure that ours is not a fruitless faith.

*The Right Translation

A group of learned Bible teachers were debating which translation of the Scriptures was best. A young man in their group startled them by stating that he preferred his mother’s translation. He then explained that she translated the Bible into everyday living.

The Apostle Paul tells us that each saint’s life is, “...known and read of all men...” Our individual lives are the only Bibles some will ever read. If that be the case, many have a very poor translation of the Scriptures.

There are thousands of large-print Bibles in circulation; would to God we had that many large-print Christians.

Sinai or Sion

“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest...(for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touched the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion.”

I, for one, would not build my house at the foot of a volcanic mountain that is famous for its eruptions. Who wants to live in constant gloom, uncertainty, and fear? Many Christians build their homes at the foot of Mt. Sinai. I choose to build my house at the foot of Mt. Sion. At Mt. Sinai there is no place for a sinner; at Mt. Sion there is no place for anyone else.

It’s wonderful to wake each morning knowing that the grace of God, with all its mercy, will be flowing down from Mt. Calvary into my room. That I no longer have to fear and quake at the thought of the fiery lava of the law from Sinai, with its demands and condemnation. I like the way Jeremiah put it: “...in the height of Zion...shall flow...the goodness of the Lord.”

There are two mountains: Sinai or Calvary
There are two covenants: Old or New
There are two husbands: Law or Grace
There are two principles: Work or Gift
To choose anything on the left is to choose everything on the left;
To choose anything on the right is to choose everything on the right

Something Old, Something New

“And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many...who were ancient men, that had seen the first house...wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy” (Ezra 3:11-12).

Sounds like our day, doesn’t it? The younger generation rejoicing over this new thing that is happening, and the older ones weeping, evidently over the fact that it wasn’t like the old days. There is a two-fold danger in every new generation: that we should disregard the old for the new, and on the other side, we’re told anything new should be discontinued for the old. The truth is, we need both the old and the new. God help us to cease this tug-of-war. We are told to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

Hebrews tells us Jesus was a “new way.” He upset the traditionalists by some of His unorthodox tactics. For they said of Him, “We never saw it on this fashion.” Yet our Lord constantly honored the old while initiating the new. He “...bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”

In Revelation we’re told in Heaven we’ll sing the old songs...“the song of Moses.” But it also says we’ll sing “....a new song.”

The Starting Point

“Thrust out a little from the land...Launch out into the deep.” We need to be careful how we use words. We say of certain people that he or she is a shallow person. But notice Jesus went from a shallow place to a deep one. To be shallow is not always a sign of being superficial. Remember: the fathomless ocean has a shoreline from which one enters into its depths.

Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby. (Oswald Chambers)

Tribulation

“...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” This is the other side of the coin of Christianity. So many speakers and writers are drawing a happy face on being a Christian in our day. I personally believe we need to get back to presenting the rough side of our Faith. The flip side of joy, peace, and happiness is chastening, attacks from unseen satanic powers, a daily war with the flesh, periodic times of darkness, resisting despondency, and all the other negatives that soft, velvety saints cringe to hear of.

Being a Christian is not a bed of roses; it has its problems. No believer is exempt from the ills of humanity. Suffering, arguments, family squabbles, temptations, bad habits, spurts of anger, and a score of other unpleasantries are our lot in this world. We are not promised a trouble free life. No Christian should think it strange when he passes through tribulation. Some spend all their time diagnosing themselves when trouble comes. With morbid introspection, they skin themselves to the raw, thinking they have done something wrong, not realizing God is grooming them for something greater.

If we were kept from tribulation, then we would miss all God’s benefits in tribulation---glory, comfort, and joy.

What't the Point?

“…for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Jesus Christ practiced what He preached. He could say more in a few words than the vain babblers could if they talked all day. He wrote what He wanted to say, briefly, while others needed volumes to express their thoughts. Many words, whether in speaking or writing, are not necessarily meritorious; they can be monotonous.

Certainly, our Lord was trying to teach us all something when He said, “But let your conversation be Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” Are we to learn from this that He would have us get to the point? As the 17th Century nun said in her prayer, “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.”

The Old Testament prophets of Baal talked all day and never did get to the point. Elijah got his across in a brief sixty-three words.

You don’t eat the husk, but the kernel; remember that when you speak or write.

*The Poor Rich

“According to your faith be it unto you.” We are not going to enjoy the spiritual blessings of God that He has provided for us by just longing, hoping, wishing, or even asking for them. We must appropriate them. That is, take them for our own by faith. Facts turn into benefactors when appropriated.

God provided the manna, but each person had to take it up for themselves. Some gathered more; others, less. The difference was not in the bestowal but in the appropriation. An unnumbered amount of dull, drab, and defeated lives have been transformed by simply learning the art of appropriation, making our own what God has given us.

Heaven’s warehouses are full and overflowing because of unclaimed blessings. (Eph.1:3)

Our Prodigal Children

“I will arise and go to my father...” When these words were spoken, a broken hearted father was unaware of this life-transforming decision made by his son. The son had been in a far country sinning. While some parents were asking the question, “Why did my child go wrong,” this father was watching, waiting and asking, “When will my boy come home?” We know this because he was ready for him when he did arrive.

Cornelius Van Til says, “[T]he prodigal is an illustration of the inability of the covenant-breaker to drown out the voice of the Living God...It required a constant act of suppression to forget the past. But that very act of suppressing itself keeps alive the memory of the past.”

The far country cannot silence, the tender teaching of a loving parent the prodigal had as a child.

Our Sailing Companion

“And there arose a great storm…” Storms are a part of life. This is also true in the spiritual realm. They arise, it seems, out of nowhere, and can be pretty severe at times. It is during these occasions, when the skies are black, the wind boisterous, and the waves over our heads, that we need the assurance that Jesus is with us. This is one of the true meanings, I think, of fellowship.

With Jesus close by, though it does not guarantee our exemption from “a great storm,” it does qualify us for seeing them turn into “a great calm.” David had experienced this years earlier and recorded it for the disciples as well as our learning. “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.” He goes on to say, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”

Don’t tell God how big the storm is; tell the storm how big God is.

The Power of Pentecost

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Under the guise of “rightly dividing the word,” dead orthodox Bible teachers and Christians would have us believe the early Church was indwelt, sealed, and baptized into the Body of Christ on this memorable day. This, they tell you, from hindsight, using Paul’s Epistles as proof. But the apostle to the Gentiles was not even saved until sometime later.

If you want to understand Pentecost, you must first understand what it meant to those early believers at the time it was happening. The only thing in their minds was the last words of Jesus before leaving them and returning to Heaven, which were, “…behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you…ye [shall] be endued with power from on high.”

Don’t allow these powerless teachers, clothed in lambskins to pull the wool over your eyes, by saying Pentecost cannot be repeated. That it was a one-time thing, only found in Acts 2. Here they stand corrected, for in Acts 9:15 we’re told by Peter, “…the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” The Holy Ghost still falls in power upon God’s people. How do I know this? I’ve been there on occasions when it happened.

There is no Pentecost without “plenty-cost.”

*The Power of Thinking Right

“...think on these things...” A liberal theologian wrote a popular book some years ago entitled The Power of Positive Thinking. Well, I’m afraid the conservative scholar, Paul the Apostle, beat him to it by a couple of thousand years! Paul lists eight positive things we are to think about and promises peace of mind to those who do.

The Bible teaches we are what we think. Right living is a result of right thinking and vice versa. For example, David tells us we can think wrong about God: “...Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself.” Naaman illustrated this when he said, “I thought...” But he was all wrong about how God would deal with his problem. A carnal mind cannot have spiritual thoughts.

If you don’t bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, then those thoughts will hold you in captivity.

Questions or Answers

“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…” Dr. Walter Wilson was a tentmaker, a medical doctor, and preacher. But his most lasting legacy is that of being one of the 20th Century’s greatest witnesses for Christ. He used to say that modern day “soul-winners” talked too much, that it is the sinner who is to do most of the talking.

Generally speaking, a witness answers questions; he doesn’t ask them. The Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved.” The rich, young ruler enquired of our Lord, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” And Peter was asked by the Jews at Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Let’s get back to letting the Holy Spirit do His preliminary work in the hearts of men. If we do, I guarantee we will not have to go around asking them questions; they’ll be asking us. We should not be overly anxious to pick “green fruit.” Or, as the old-time evangelist, Billy Sunday, used to say, “Don’t pluck the chicken till the water’s boiling.”

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

*Proof's in the Puddin'

“And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus knows our hearts; but we don’t. Thus the necessity for our being proven. We’ll never know what we’re made of till we’ve been in the fire. Proof is in the puddin’, and we’re the puddin’!

There is never uncertainty on Jesus’ part of what He can, and will do, and there should not be any on ours. If our faith is not tested, how else will we know if we have any? Peace needs a storm; victory, a battle; and joy, sadness, if we are to have sweet assurance of these attributes being in our lives. The bad always runs along-side with the good. It’s not the absence of these dreaded things, but their presence, that proves our worth.

Anything untried is uncertain.

Pretending in Prayer

“…give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” David pretended to be something he wasn’t before Achish, King of Gath (1Sam.21), but in the presence of God, he didn’t play-act in prayer. He was not a sinless man, but he certainly was a sincere one. Is it not sad that the act we put on before others, we oft times continue before God?

How prone we are to be spiritual pretenders. It is important for not only our brethren to see us as spiritual, but also our God. But feigned prayers are fruitless prayers. If what comes out of our mouths doesn’t originate from the heart, it is only so much hot air. It may puff us up, but it will never build us up.

There are two extremes in prayer, and either can make one look spiritual. At one end of the spectrum, God is used as a “genie in a bottle.” Whatever they wish for, they believe they will get. But at the other end, those who proudly say they don’t ask for anything, but leave it all up to God, are just as much in error. Such seeming commitment can be a cop-out for a lack of faith.

The truth of the matter is, there are times when we are to ask and receive; and there are times when we are to commit and be content. Only those who are close to God will be able to discern which is which.

If in prayer we said only what we meant, they would be much shorter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

*Adjustable Lives

Just as God told us there would always be seasons in the physical world, so it is in the Spiritual realm. The Christian life is a seasonal one. Therefore we need to learn to adjust. For example, as to the first mentioned, you’d better not wear flimsy summer clothes in bitter winter if you know what’s good for you. Concerning the latter, there is a season for fiery trials as well as triumphing.

Many believers cannot bring themselves to adjust to certain situations because of the simple fact they think it will make them look inconsistent. They do not realize that God has only a few eternal principles that are unchangeable. In all other matters He not only says we ought to, but expects us to, change and adapt.

One meaning for adjust in Webster’s Dictionary is, “to change as to fit.” Far too many Christians are mal-adjusted. Again, Webster’s definition of this word is, “unable to adjust to the stresses of daily life.” A well-balanced child of God has a good variety of garb in his or her closets. And they alter their lives as needed. They do not wear raincoats when the sun is shining, nor go bare foot in the snow. They modify according to conditions.

The wise man said, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Let us not be out-of-season!

Monday, October 8, 2007

*Snail Christians

The life of every child of God should emulate that of a snail. That is, as our lives advance in years there should be less of us. Toward the end of his life and ministry, rugged John said, " I must decrease.” The old Baptist did not waste his time looking at himself through a high-powered, magnifying lens of a telescope; he preferred gazing through the opposite end.

This was the way it was with all those who stood as giants in God’s sight. David saw himself as a “flea.” And we see how Paul’s self-life melted away through the years. Early on in his Christian life he said, “I am the least of the apostles.” But as time passes we hear him say, “[I] am less than the least of all saints.” And as he approaches the finish line of life he humbly states that he was, “the chief of sinners.”

There are no soloists in heaven, only a choir that is made up of “Common Christians”; no “big fish” in a little pond, just a lot of “little ones” in the big pond. I have found seasoned saints, who, when at the eternity’s brink, have only one desire-- to be “hid in heaven.” To them there is only One Person worthy of beholding, and to them that is the dear Lamb of God.”

Saturday, October 6, 2007

*Christian Pagans

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." These are the last words of an old man to his "little children" (a term of endearment). His desire for them in the world in which they lived was to be victorious over-comers. The way in which they could achieve this, says the aged saint, was to keep themselves from idols. That is, anything that occupied the place of God. If it demanded first place in their lives, it was an idol. All their devotion, affection, time, and energy were to be given, first and foremost, to the Person of God. Not to anything else, even if it was spiritual, and came from God Himself.

Many commentators believe John was only speaking to the people of his day who had come out of pagan idolatry. The Puritans applied our text to Rome's relics. But it goes much deeper than this. Ezekiel speaks of God's people in his day who gave an external pretense of being spiritual, but who had "set up their idols in their heart." All human substitutes, whether made by man's hands or created in the mind, are idols. By the way, spiritual idolatry is the greatest of all sins.

"The dearest idol I have known, what e're that idol be, help me tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

His Commandment's are His Enablements

We are told God spoke to Ezekiel saying, “Stand upon thy feet.” Then the prophet records for us these words, “And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet.” Here we find God’s Commandment’s are His Enablements.

This, no doubt, is what Paul was attempting to get across when he penned, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He understood if God willed it, then he could do it (Phil.2:13). God taught this truth from the beginning. In Genesis we find, “God planted,” but it was Adam who was to, “Dress and keep it.”

A dear handicapped preacher friend of mine used to say, “Can’t, is not in the handicapped dictionary”; neither should it be a part of a Christian’s vocabulary, when in reference to one of God’s Commands to him. If God commands us to jump, our reply should be, “How high?” When David was told by his Lord to do so, he said, “By my God have I leaped over a wall.”

Some of us need to get to jumpin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

*Job's Description of Man

The old patriarch Job depicts man as, “…a wild ass’s colt.” I agree with St. Francis of Assisi when he referred to his body as, “Brother Ass.” C.S. Lewis, in commenting on this statement, says, “Ass is right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey. It is a useful, sturdy, lazy, obstinate, patient, lovable, and infuriating beast; deserving now the stick and now a carrot; both pathetically and absurdly beautiful.”

It is interesting that Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the back of an untamed ass’s colt. Thus we see, whether it is ourselves, a loved one, or friend, it is Christ and Christ alone Who is able to subdue our animal nature. We can display the good side of Doctor Jekyll for a time, but Mr. Hyde will always show his beastly face sooner or later. Only by yielding to the over-powering presence of Christ in our lives can our wildness be domesticated.

I’m not as concerned with, “The Taming of the Shrew,” as I am the taming of this saint.