Friday, December 12, 2008

Turning the Tide

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will.” If a man can dig channels and change the course of water at his pleasure, then a Sovereign God can change a heart whenever it pleases Him. And, if He can redirect a king’s heart, He can certainly do it with the commoner. From the highest to the lowest, God is in control.

When ditches are dug, and the water takes a different course, it does not change the nature of the water nor put force upon it. And so it is with God when He brings about a change of attitude or action in man. It does not take away his free will. God simply directs, providentially, the course that suits His purpose.

Ezra says of the king of his day, “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart...” And John the Beloved tells us in Revelation, “God hath put in their [kings] hearts to fulfill his will...until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” Nowhere is this power over the heart illustrated any better than in the book of Esther. God takes sleep from a king so that he will read a particular book that results in bringing deliverance to an entire nation.

Oh, how we need, once again, to trust in Almighty God to change hearts as we endeavor to accomplish His will on earth.

The God who made the sea can certainly redirect it; and the God who made the human heart can change it.

To Do or Not to Do

Opposites can both be right. There are groups of Christians who do not believe this. One has to be wrong; both cannot be right. Contrary to the teaching of some, the Bible is not always black and white, when speaking of what a Christian may or may not do. Many areas are shaded grey. I don’t know why this is—possibly God wanted each of us to enjoy life according to their individual taste and temperament. And, just maybe, He wanted to see our attitude toward a brother who does not do things like we do.

Romans fourteen is a classic example of how opposites can both be right. Paul discusses three basic areas of controversy in the early Church that still exist today. In verse two, he covers the issue of diet (pork or vegetables); is one to eat or not to eat? In verse five, it is days (Christmas, etc); is one to recognize or not to recognize? And, in verse twenty-one, it is drink; the question is whether to drink or not to drink (grape juice was not an issue). Then, in the same verse, he gives us an underlying principle for all we do or allow in our lives.

There are three types of believers in this enlightening chapter: There is the legalist (weak brother), who judges those who enjoy their liberty. But those who exercise liberty (strong brother) despise those who are legalists (see verse 6). The spiritual man, however, is the one who understands that the strong need to grow in love, and the weak need to grow in knowledge. The weak must learn from the strong and the strong must love the weak.

There is the legalist that judges, the libertarian who despises, and the lover of good men, who takes in both.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sink, Swim, or...

"And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship… And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea…and when they had taken up the anchors…"

When storms arise on the sea of life, it is wise to get rid of those things that weigh us down and threaten our spiritual well being. Although we may deem some things necessary, there are times we may need to throw them overboard if we are to survive the terrible tempest.

Most of us have taken along way too much baggage for our journey. When it is a question of whether or not I am willing to go down with my trinkets and be swallowed up or to continue on my voyage without them, I'll choose the latter every time. I wonder if it would have been a "sink or swim" situation if the four anchors had not been taken back into the boat instead of being cast out with the other things. "We have an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast," therefore we need no others, lest we sink.

You can't have a safe journey with an overloaded ship.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Time of My Life

“My times are in thy hand.” Happy is that person who has both recognized and accepted this truth. All portions of life are in His sovereign hand. He can choose to lengthen a life or shorten it. And, if He so desires, he can embitter or sweeten it. As the wise man said, “He doth whatsoever pleaseth him.” And that should be sufficient enough to please us.

Therefore, whether it be health or sickness, prosperity or poverty, we can rest content, knowing all circumstances are under His control. It is in this fact, no doubt, that Job found his solace. For, said he, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The old patriarch had come to realize that his disappointments were, in reality, God’s appointments.

Foresight says, by faith, “All things work together for good”; hindsight, in fact, says, “He [did] all things well.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Under the Roof

“Thou mighty man of valor...thou shalt save Israel from the Midianites.” This statement was made by the angel of the Lord whose family was poor dirt farmers. And to make things even worse, the man was considered the least in his house. But God delights to do His greatest works with the least means.

God’s champion was threshing wheat. Who would have believed the innumerable army of the Midianites’ greatest antagonist would come from a farmhouse? As someone has said, “Genius hatches her offspring in strange places.” Humble homes can be the birthplace of mighty emancipators (Micah 5:2).

How many great leaders, minds, deliverers, and talents, are now living under the roof of a humble dwelling?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Half Way There

“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” The writer of Hebrews tells us “…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” It seems to me this poor soul in our opening text was like many of us; he believed the first part of the text in Hebrews, but had a problem believing the second half.

In essence, he said, “Lord I believe you can, help me believe you will.” This is seen in his words, “If thou canst do…” It is not enough to believe God is who He says He is; we must believe He will do what He says He will do! There is no half- way mark in pleasing Him. Like the old gospel song says, it’s “not almost, but altogether.” God not only wants us to believe in His personal existence, but also that He will answer our private prayers. He meant them to go together.

I don’t know about you, but I must admit my faith has always been defective. I’ve lacked full confidence that the Lord would answer my prayers. But bless His name, He has always came to my aid when I, like the man in Mark, cried sincerely from my heart, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” By the way, I’d remind you here of the Stewart Hamlin song, “It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.”

Faith grows by occupying ourselves with who God is, and with what He promised.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When a Little Comma Covers a Long Period

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”, (Isa.61:1-2).

Every writer has his or her own style. For example, I like to use commas. And so did my wife in her writings until she was intimidated by my daughter for using them so often. But she (Leah) doesn’t scare me. Well most of the time, anyway.

In our opening text, the little comma we stopped with covers some two- thousand years. You’ll recall in the synagogue how Jesus quoted this portion from Isaiah’s prophecy, but did not finish it, stopping at the comma (Lk.4:18-20). Why? Because when He said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled,” it would have not been true had he continued on with the verse. For the rest of the text says, “And the day of the vengeance of our God.” You can see the former has to do with His first coming, the latter His second coming.

Thank God, “He closed the book…and sat down.” The first part of the text reaches to our age. He is still binding up the brokenhearted and freeing the captives. May God have mercy in the day of His vengeance.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


One need no longer go into the “…far country” to feed on husks. A person has only to travel a short distance across town to any one of several churches to find a plentiful supply of this non-nutritious food. Stacks of it can also be found horded in Christian schools and book stores. A husk, (or shuck, as my Kentucky grandmother used to call it) is the dry covering, or outside shell, of an ear of corn.

It seems many ministries today are attempting to feed God’s people with a diet of externals. But feeding on nothing other than outward husks only leads to tastelessness or bitterness. And there is no incentive to digest either. Husks may satisfy those who live in a pig sty, but never sheep who long for green pastures. Substance always takes precedence over form.

When one comes hungry to “The Father’s house,” he expects, “…corn from heaven,” not dry husks from the prodigal’s place.

Bypassing Basics

“…though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not…” Paul evidently had heard what Jesus said about mountain-movers. And, though he had never done it himself, he still believed it possible. But there is no doubt that the apostle was aware of something else his Lord taught. It is apparent that Paul was familiar with the fact that Christ also preached the principle that one was to start with the smallest things (mote) before they moved on to larger things (beam). Jesus’ order was, and is, “least,” then “much.”

Those who desire “great faith,” to remove mountains, need first to use their “little faith” to remove the mole hills in their lives. It is important to learn your simple ABC’s before attempting to spell out big words. When we bypass the basics early on, we lack in substance later on.

Faith moves mountains, but love moves men; and the latter is the greater.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Removing "Can't" From Our Dictionary

I can’t speak Hebrew or Greek. I can’t lift 500 pounds. I can’t fly a jet. I can’t lead a symphony orchestra. There are a thousand and one things I cannot do, that I would like to be able to do. But there is one thing I can do; I can do what I’m supposed to do.

I can be a good husband and father. I can be a trusted friend. I can be honest. I can live for God. Paul tells us “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The “all things” in the context are those things the Bible tells us we can do. Yet, in spite of this plain teaching, we have so many Christians who say, concerning living a life that honors Christ, “I can’t.” But in reality it’s, “I won’t.”

I had a handicapped preacher friend, now with the Lord, who used to say, “Can’t is not in the handicap dictionary.” And so it should be with the Christian. If we are not doing what the Scriptures require of us, it is because we are attempting to do them without the help of the Lord. “Without me ye can do nothing,” says Jesus. Philippians 4:13 teaches, it is not I without Christ; it is not Christ without I; it is I with Christ.

If God tells us to jump over a wall, we can do it. David said, “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” When God tells you to jump, ask Him, “How high?”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Background or Foreground

“And he is before all things…” Christ is to be first in line, at the head of the pack, if you please. I’m fearful that He is in the background, rather than the foreground, in many of our lives. The former word meaning, “the distant part of a scene; behind or subordinate to something.” The definition of the latter is “nearest the viewer.” It can be said, and rightly so, that scores of Christians today are like the prophets of old who “…stood to view afar off.”

Our relationship with Christ is to be “up close and personal.” What lover wants to court from a distance? You have to be close to Him, if you’re going to cling to Him. Saintly Brainard said, “I want to be so close to Jesus that I can hear His heart beat.” John the Beloved would have said, “Amen” to that statement, for, you remember it was he who leaned his head on Jesus’ bosom. When will we learn, familiarity is not intimacy.

The best way to get close to God is to make over His Son.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stars, Salvation, and Victory

“…one star differeth from another…” You’d be hard pressed to come up with a plan of salvation or a formula for victory in the scriptures. Why is this? Simply because, like the stars, no one of us is like the other. This is why it is so dangerous trying to emulate another’s spiritual experience, either in the former or latter case. We are to seek the Apostles teachings, not their experiences!

The Bible was written to meet the need of individuals, in the way each of us is going. We all travel different directions; therefore God meets us on the road we are traveling. Is it any wonder, for this reason, many believe the Bible contradicts itself? For example, to the self-righteous seeking salvation Jesus says, “Keep the commandments.” But to the convicted sinner Paul says simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the first case, it was to produce conviction, but in the second, conviction had already set in.

So it is in trying to live the Victorious Christian Life. There are many Christians who are habitually reading about the experiences of others, trying to relive them in their own lives. We are not identical in our natural makeup; therefore God deals with us on an individual basis. Allow the Lord to be as original with you as he has been with the ones you seek to copy. Say and do as little David did, when he put on Saul’s giant armour, “I cannot go with these…And David put them off him.”

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” (Charles Schulz)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

From Me, To Me

“He bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” So says God of His people of old. This is still pitifully true in the Church today, in spite of Paul’s admonition that “…we should bring forth fruit unto God.” We like take credit for something that comes from Him. “From me is thy fruit found.” But they mistakenly thought it was from themselves to themselves.

How prone we are to take the recognition for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, not realizing the fruit is for others to enjoy and not we ourselves. We not only take pride in the fruit He gives but also the praise. We like to call attention to ourselves, not to the glory of God. The Old Testament prophet says, “…they eat and drink to themselves,” but the Apostle to the Church tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat or all to the glory of God.”

Don’t forget: our fruit is derived from the “Root of David.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dusty Saints

“I exalted thee out of the dust.” What would be your first thought if you saw a frog sitting on top of a fencepost? Most would agree, someone put him there. And that would be correct. He certainly didn’t get there by himself. Yet, how often we Christians forget how we got where we are today. Let us remember our lineage, when traced back, originates from the dust. And no matter the position or possessions we attain in this life, we are still headed back to where we came from. “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Divine Sovereignty is at play in all lives, from birth to death. As Jesus told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all…except it were given thee from above.” God warned His people of old that when He raised them up, not to say, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this…” If they did, they’d end up where they started from. Humble Hannah said, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly…He raiseth up the poor out of the dust…to make them inherit glory.”

There is more truth to the idiom, “Your name is mud,” than we realize.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turning the Natural into the Supernatural

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Here, Paul is teaching the Corinthian believers, as well as us, that there is no difference between the sacred and the secular. To a Christian, all ground is holy ground. Our double-mindedness comes from the fact that we have sanctified the one, but not the other. You cannot divorce God from your everyday life. The supernatural is no more than putting God into the natural.

Putting God into the natural is unnatural to the world. But to us, it’s a very natural thing. If we exclude God from our everyday living, and only take Him into the “religious” part, then, the biggest part of our lives will be lived without God.

Christianity does not exclude ordinary, human activities. Paul tells us to go on with our jobs. He takes for granted Christians will go to dinner parties, including those given by pagans. Even our Lord attended a wedding, and provided them with wine.

It is not that doing such things is sinful; it’s doing them without God that makes them so sinful. He does not want to be a part of our lives, but all of it.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary when God enters it....even a bush.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Faith Considers Not

“…he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” It seems, God doesn’t give great promises until He puts the sentence of death upon all our human means in helping Him fulfill it. He does not want us to “…consider” anything that might invade our faith. Hebrews, that great book of faith, tells us we are to only consider Him.

The world, the flesh and the devil will offer many objections to our faith, but we need to allow God to answer these. Faith doesn’t reason; it rests. Whenever we begin to consider the circumstances and conditions that surround us and take our eyes off Christ, who gave the promise, we will drown in doubt. Ask Peter!

Abraham had hoped Ishmael, a product of him and Sarah’s own ingenuity would fulfill God’s promise. But, it was the birth of impossible Isaac that would fulfill it. Here we see, God sometimes fulfills one promise by denying another.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What More Can He Do?

“What could have been done more…that I have not done..?”
(Isa.4:4) God tells us in verse 7 of this chapter that His people are like a vineyard. And as men do to their physical vineyards to perfect them, God had done to His Spiritual vineyard. He performed all that is usually done to make His vineyard a healthy, fruitful one. He had fenced it in, cleared away the stones, planted in it the choicest vines; and He had built a wine-press. So He asks, in essence, “What more could I do than what I have done?”

And so it is with 21st century Saints. God has done everything to make us, His Elect, a holy and happy people. He chose us, gave us His perfect Word, and has shed upon us abundantly His Grace, Mercy, Peace, and Love. Most importantly, He gave His Darling Son, Jesus Christ, for the likes of us. I ask you, what more could we expect Him to do, than what He has already done? If we are not gratified with what He has already done for us, then there is nothing in this world, or the one to come, that will satisfy us.

It seems like not even God Himself can please some people.

Check the Price Tag

"Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” The reserved, conservative, religious Jews could only surmise that these Spirit-filled disciples had gone over the edge. They had become fanatical. Someone defined the word, when used in Christian circles today, as meaning “someone closer to God than me.”

There is a cost to being filled with the Holy Ghost. The lives of John the Baptist, Stephen, and Paul, along with a host of other humble believers, as well as Jesus, testify to this fact. As a preacher of old used to say, “There is no Pentecost without plenty-cost.” The price tag on a powerful race car is much more than that of a mope-along four cylinder.

All Christians want the power of God until they check the price tag.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Book and It's Author

Recently my wife and older son Andrew drove form our home in Northern CA. to the Los Angeles area. The purpose was to hear and meet an author my wife had been reading after; our son had recommended him to her. The book is entitled, “What’s So Great About Christianity?” The author’s name is Dinesh D’Souza. She was so taken up with the book she would not be satisfied until meeting the writer. She was thrilled when introduced to him by our son.

Is this not the way it should be in the Christian life? We begin by reading the Word of God; and then we are so impressed, we long to know the God of the Word. How sad to see so many Believers today talking about and quoting this Divine Book, who do not know, or have an intimate knowledge of, the One who wrote it? They stop short, spending their entire Christian life in the outer court at the Laver (type of the Word) rather than continuing on and entering the Holy of Holies, where the Glory was. Every time God rends the veil of their lives so they can enter in, they patch the veil back up.

The purpose of knowing God’s Word is that it will ultimately lead one to knowing Him. Toward the end of David’s life he wanted to show his son Solomon the importance of this great find, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy Father.” This was also Paul’s one great desire. As an old man, he tells the Philippians of this longing, “That I may know him…”

The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him. (John Milton)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Enlightened Elect

“[I]f it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” This warning implies such deception is not possible! Neither false Christs, nor false prophets, shewing great signs and wonders will be able to sway the saints away from their Saviour. Our Lord is emphatic; it is impossible to deceive His elect. The Good Shepherd tells us, "[My] own sheep… follow [me]: for they know my voice. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

We are told Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. And his apostles and ministers into apostles of Christ, and ministers of righteousness. These may lead the elect sheep temporarily astray, but never permanently away to stay. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” By the way, this temptation only works once for a brief time, if even then. For sure, there are no seconds! Shepherds tell us once a sheep is brought back to the fold from straying; they stay close to their shepherd from then on.

“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock…” (His sheep follow Him!)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spiritual Understanding

“…the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” The Bible was not written for theologians and scholars. For example, Paul’s Epistles were read or heard among a vast number of slaves and ordinary people. “Not many wise men…not many noble, are called.” The apostle did not say, “Not any,” but he did say, “Not many.” He took for granted that most of what he wrote would be understood by common, Spirit-filled Christians.

Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor. In every age, this section of society has been largely illiterate. Yet the elect among them were able to grasp the main principles He preached. Everything that has to do with getting to Heaven and how to live on this earth was made plain to them.

Questionable things in the Scriptures are left to the individual’s conscience. The hidden things belong to God alone. And the difficult passages? Well, your guess is as good as anyone else’s.

It is not the things I don’t understand in the Bible that disturb me; but those things that I do understand. (Mark Twain)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Maturity Marches On

I agree with C. S. Lewis when he wrote, “Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity. And where there is no continuity, there is no growth.” He went on to say that lack of maturity “consists not in refusing to lose the old things, but in failing to add new things.” Maturity, then, I would say, is always moving forward, experiencing the new while holding on to the old.

There is a pseudo-maturity today passing itself off as the real thing. You can always spot these fakers by the contempt they show others who are honestly struggling in the kindergarten of life, wanting to advance to a higher grade. This kind of individual is not manifesting maturity, but snobbery at its worst. These poor souls always want to give the impression they have arrived, while all the time, those they are trying to impress know they missed the train and are still standing on the platform.

Legitimate maturity is always gracious to an honest fault. It does not condemn weakness, but neither does it condone willful wrong. Immaturity can be tolerated but never iniquity. Maturity is patient with the former but has no time for the latter.

A mature Christian is not hard to recognize. There is one characteristic they all possess. And that is, they always allow the inferior, sinning saint to imagine they are superior to themselves. They are secure in who they are. I am sure you are familiar with the story of godly Abraham and immoral Lot. Here we see maturity always wins out!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today; Not Tomorrow

“And Moses said unto Pharaoh…when…And he said, To morrow.” The plague of frogs was everywhere—in the houses, ovens, bedchambers, etc. Yet, when Pharaoh had a choice of having these removed, he chose the next day, rather than taking care of the loathsome situation immediately. There used to be a sermon preached by an old camp meeting preacher entitled, “One More Night with the Frogs.” The intent was to show how ridiculous Pharaoh’s answer was.

But, to be truthful, how many of us Christians are just as foolish? Rather than heed the old adage, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” we choose to remain miserable a little bit longer. Our answer to God’s “When?” is “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow, I’ll confess my sin; tomorrow, I’ll claim the victory; tomorrow, I’ll right that wrong; tomorrow, I’ll turn a new leaf; tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow.

But what if tomorrow never comes? We are told to “Boast not thyself of to morrow...” And when it comes to important issues, “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day…”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Popular Opinion

“I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Paul was not one of those Christians who put his ear to the ground to find out what others would think or say about him before he acted on what God had personally shown him.

I have a little saying I have tried to live by through the years: When you know what God wants you to do, do it immediately. If you wait, you’ll be talked out of it by yourself, others, or the devil.

Men and women who are obsessed with obeying God at all costs march to a different drum beat than that of their brethren. As Emerson wrote, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

When there is conformity to others, the price will be to live with their deformity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Old Mans Testimony

In his latter years David gave this witness, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” I doubt seriously if any reading this article will go to Heaven prematurely because they starved to death. Although they may get there early because they worried themselves to death.

When Paul spoke of some personal things in his life he said, “I speak as a fool speaks.” Lest any misinterpret what I say, let me assure you this is for the purpose of illustration, not solicitation, (“God knoweth”). Between the two of us, my wife and I receive a little over a thousand a month in Social Security. My older son pays the lot rent on our mobile home. Other than this income, we have less than a dozen people who send us different sized offerings on a regular monthly basis.

Recently, because of the economy, we have lost three hundred a month in regular support. And one dear brother, who helps us when the big bills come due (insurance, car repairs, etc.) had his salary cut in half. The others have either been laid off, or cannot find work. I cannot tell you the e-mails we have gotten from anxious souls desiring council during these trying times.

The first thing I advise is to magnify the Lord, not the problem. The second is to pray for wisdom, and search the scriptures. Then I suggest you use your “sanctified noodle”; that’s why God gave you a brain. I then would lighten the ship and keep only the necessary things life requires. And above all, I would be thankful for His Grace and Goodness! This is what Salle and I try to do at such times. It works for us; who knows, it may work for you.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feeding the Feeder

As a new-born babe in Christ, I remember listening to The Old-Fashioned Revival Hour and Radio Bible Class every Sunday morning before church. On the weekdays, it was Back to the Bible. How I was fed through their ministries. Much of my spiritual growth as a Christian I attribute directly to these marvelous ministries.

Though I believe, generally speaking, one should tithe through their local assembly (if they are being fed and nourished from the Word of God), I also preached and practiced the truth that your offerings could prayerfully be given to a ministry, or ministries, that have been a blessing to you.

I am so thankful, as I look back over the years, that I supported some of these ministries on a regular basis. I knew what they did for me, and I dearly wanted them to do the same for others.

How I appreciate now that little handful of faithful friends who financially help us each month. A seasoned preacher told me when I first started out, “You feed God’s people and they’ll feed you.” I call it, “feeding the feeder. I praise God for my “feeders!”

“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (1 Cor. 9:11)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Ecclesiastes Experience

“I hated life...for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Admit it or not, all of us, at one time or the other, have an Ecclesiastes experience. Like Solomon of old, we look through these natural eyes placed in our bodies of clay, and try to understand everything that happens under the sun. When we yield to this temptation, we are dismayed to find that, ultimately, all ends in disappointment. It is only when we look above the sun with our spiritual eyes and behold its Maker that we receive encouragement for our life on earth (2Cor.4:18).

It is then that we realize all the confusing contrasts of life are working together for our good. Both the dark and bright colors are necessary for God to paint His perfect picture. For with the final stroke of His brush, we will see, “He hath made everything beautiful in his time.”
To refuse to accept this will only lead to anxiety and frustration. Both riches and poverty, health and sickness, strength and weakness, joy and sorrow are in the mix of life, and will come out a surprisingly delicious treat in the end.

Sweet and sour are the flavors that make up life.

Friday, October 24, 2008


“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” It is not my intention to debate whether this is grape juice or fermented wine. Actually, I lean towards the latter. What I do want to discuss is the transition in Paul’s ministry. I fully realize some have gone to the extreme, leaving us with only his last Epistles for our doctrine and conduct. But, on the other hand, not to recognize any change at all, one ends up with a shipwrecked faith. Because they do not see a reproduction of sign gifts as found in Acts, they become disillusioned.

Paul did not use his apostolic powers to heal his young protégé, nor did he tell him to pray and claim healing. No, he simply encouraged him to use the means God put at his disposal to remedy the problem.

Like Naaman of old, some of us like for God to do something supernatural and spectacular on our behalf rather than using the natural means He has provided. The former makes one look spiritual in the eyes of the brethren; the latter simply makes us come across as just another member of the human race.

Jesus’ humanity is a precious thing. Make sure you don’t lose yours while trying to be spiritual.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Parental Grief

And Esau…took to wife Judith…the Hittite…and Bashemath…the Hittite: Which was a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” Isaac had peace round about with his neighbors, but unrest within the home from one of his children. His worldly son Esau had gone against God’s command and his parent’s wishes in marrying these heathen women. By doing so he intimates that he neither desired God’s blessing, nor dreaded His curse. And what’s more, he cared little or nothing for the grief it caused his mother and father. It is clear he had a festering hurt that left him spiteful.

Grown children need to realize that not all the instruction given to children in Proverbs is to adolescents; much is to grown adult children. And I find it is the latter of the two that brings the most heartache to tender and good parents. I am not speaking of minor preferences, but bed rock moral principles. Certainly they can and ought to be individualist as to the first, but never independent of the second.

Where do you find in the Bible any grown child that went against the God honoring principles they were brought up with, prosper? No adult, Christian son or daughter, who purposely causes their godly parents continual grief, need ever expect God’s full blessings upon his or her life. Ask Esau if you don’t believe me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dug In

“Ye have compassed this mountain long enough.” Or, as they say in our modern culture, “It’s time to move on.” How easy it is to rest on past accomplishments or to settle in where there have been set backs. I like some of the terms of the younger generation today. One that especially impresses me, though it may sound harsh and unsympathetic is “Get over it!” In other words, we need to get on with our lives.

Whether it is victory or defeat; you cannot dwell around that mount indefinitely. Constantly rehashing and telling of past achievements to others becomes boring. And to remember and relive your past failures can be discouraging. I’ve noticed those who re-live their past fiascos like to blame others for their messes; but those living in the present like to find solutions to theirs.

Paul tells us the way to forget those things which are behind is to forge ahead. The writer of Hebrews puts it, “Let us go on...” That is, go on from where you’re at. Or as the old military term to resting soldiers goes, “Move out!”

Compassing the same mountain is like “ring-around-the-rosy”; you never get any place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inside Issues

In the future, from time to time, I will be writing about what I believe to be some serious problems within the Body of Christ (Inside Issues). Mind you, this is only one man’s humble opinion. It comes from an old disciple’s observance of an institution he has dearly loved and been an intricate part of for more than half a century. I’m speaking of The Church of Jesus Christ.

Today I’d like to discuss the Christian and politics. I want to cover this controversial subject a little differently from that which is generally presented. One’s involvement in the political process, I believe, is up to an individual’s conscience before God. My position is that of the little proverbial saying, “Some can, others can’t.” And as far as which of the two is better, I think we could apply Paul’s words to each side, “…neither…are we the better; neither …are we the worse.”

My concern is not with a believer’s involvement in governmental affairs, but their entanglement. Paul warns us, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.” It seems to me when preachers and churches intertwined with the world, they lost the power of God. When your brand of Christianity is accepted and applauded by this world, you have the wrong sort. Jesus said the world hated Him, and it will hate us. We need to be more concerned with God’s acceptance than the world’s corrupt system.

God said He would have spared Sodom had Lot been a Spiritual influence rather than getting tangled up in their political affairs (Gen.19:9). As D.L. Moody said, “It’s alright for the ship to be in the water, but it sinks when the water gets in the ship.” Separation is not isolation, but insulation without contamination. Even a casual reading of the book of Acts would settle many doubts as to a Christian and politics.

You’ll never straighten out this world with crooked Christians.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hound Dogs and Jesus

The old Methodist Evangelist, Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “If a hound dog comes to town and barks for Jesus, I’m not going to try to stop him.” This pretty much goes along with what Jesus told His disciples. You may recall, in the Gospels, there was one casting out devils in Jesus' name; and John told Jesus “…we forbad him, because he followeth not us.” To which our Lord replied, “Forbid him not…” He did not say, join him, promote him, or bring him into our camp; He simply told them to leave him alone. Let him bark for Jesus!

Paul had this philosophy also. He told the Philippian Christians that although some who preached Christ were not even sincere in doing so, he still rejoiced over the fact that Christ was preached. The first thing a young aspiring actor learns is to keep his or her name before the public. They’re told, “It doesn’t matter what they say about you, just make sure they spell you name correctly.” In case someone is reading this who does not know how to spell it, it’s spelled JESUS!

I just celebrated my 75th birthday this past week, and have been in the Gospel ministry over 50 years. In this time I have learned to choose my battles. Some things are not important enough to fight for; a bull dog can whip a skunk, but it’s not worth the fight. My fight is with any and all within the religious community who deny Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and scoff at the fact that He is the only way of salvation. Such important truths as these are worth dying for. I have drawn my sword against all Apostates, Cults, and New Agers. No matter what the cost is to me personally! (2 Tim4:7)

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Caught in the Middle

The story is told of a young man during the Civil War who wanted to play it safe, so he put on Yankee pants and a Rebel coat. But, to his dismay, he was shot at by both sides. And so, without compromise, I hope to appease both sides of a warring issue, but feel I’m in a no-win position. I speak of the Atonement. Was it universal or particular; was it for all or only the elect?

As much as one side “wrestles the scriptures,” it still comes out, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” If you change “the whole world” to mean something else; then you must do it later on in John’s first Epistle when he writes, “The whole world lieth in wickedness.” On the other side of the coin, to deny God has an elect people, you must take a penknife, as Jehudi of old, and cut out great portions of scripture.

And so, is it universal or limited? His atonement is sufficient for all, but only efficient to those who believe. We are to, “…do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Watch these two words in italics as they’re used elsewhere. “[He] is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”

To me, this is the only way you can make a legitimate offer of the gospel to the whole world. For those who believe in a “Limited Atonement” limit God’s love for the world. But, on the other hand, those who detest “Election,” as the old preacher said, “That’s why God didn’t elect you; He knew you wouldn’t like it.”

Well that’s it, and I can already sense some taking aim.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good Without God

“But of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” Not only was this divine duet to be ignorant of evil, but also of good. They knew God, who only is good; they needed not to know “good” apart from Him. Knowing good, without God, is humanism. Knowing God is Heavenly, and that is as good as good gets!

To constantly preach (especially to youth) on extracting external evils, thinking this will produce good in their lives, is futile. Our blessed Lord left us the example to follow. It says of Him, “God anointed Jesus...with the Holy Ghost...who went about doing good.” Jesus’ external good was the result of the internal, eternal God within.

Good is never pleasant, to God’s eyes, if it is done independently of Him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Unbearable Yoke

"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” Had it been some of today’s churches writing to these early Gentile believers, it would have cost a pretty penny for the postage to send such a large document. The list of rules and regulations would have taken up at least a hundred pages. And the addendum would have read, “More to follow!”

These primitive saints were simply told to abstain from: 1) pollutions of idols; 2) fornication; and 3) things strangled and blood. Notice, these three things covered their spiritual, moral, and physical lives. And this brief trio of rules is referred to as “…necessary things.” The authors of this little list had come out of a strong legalistic background, and were conscious that a long list of man-made laws would result in a great burden to these believers under Grace. And so Peter says, “Now therefore why…put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

I think the apostle, James’ exhortation to the Jerusalem church would be wise for us to follow today: “Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not those which…are turned to God.”

Never put more on a person than they’re able to bear. (Joe Henry Hankins)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Divine Invitation

If I understand it right, no one can approach a king on his throne except by the king’s personal approval. Esther realized this when she told Mordecai, “...whoever...shall come unto the king...who is not called...[shall be] death.” That is, she adds, “...except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre.” She went on to say, “...I have not been called to come unto the king these thirty days.”

How I thank God that I can approach my King anytime, day or night—not with fear and trembling, but with full assurance in my heart. I am told I can enter boldly on the basis of the blood of His Son. Jesus is God’s “sceptre of righteousness” which God has reached out to me. Because of this, we have a Divine invitation to approach His throne. “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy (for past failures), and find grace to help (for the present) in time of need.” Yes, there are warnings in the Book of Hebrews, but, overall, it is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, books in the Bible on assurance and comfort for the believer.

Years ago, a man in England named Dr. Barnardo, took in little waifs from the streets of London. He clothed, fed, and gave them a home. One little fellow entered his office on a certain night, requesting help. The doctor asked who had recommended him. The reply from the little urchin was, “I thought these tattered clothes would be recommendation enough.”

Oh, how I thank God I can come to His throne today, knowing my tattered, soiled rags of failures and shortcomings will be recommendation enough for help in my time of need!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cherish Your Choices

“…choose you this day…” Christianity begins with a choice and continues on that way. The Christian life is basically made up of daily choices. At the dawn of each new day, we must choose whether we will search the Scriptures, pray, take up our cross, exhort one another, renew the inner man, die to self, offer up a sacrifice, etc.

It is important to realize, we are what we choose. You can tell a lot about a person by their choices. Many complain about where they are in life at this particular time, but it may be well to remember, we are what and where we are because of choices we made in days gone by. This is why it is so crucial to make the right daily choices. The choice of one day can determine all our future days.

Today’s choices can decide tomorrow’s outcome.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Watch Those Birds

“And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” More times than not, there is a Divine delay between our preparing and God’s performing. During these intense intervals, many distractions can arise. It is important during these trying times that we do our part, while waiting for God to do His. We need to keep a watchful eye upon our spiritual sacrifices.

My dear, old granny used to say, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from roosting in your hair!” Every thought that wings its way into our minds which says God will not perform what He promised, needs to be violently driven away. Be patient; be watchful, dear child of God, and remember that Abraham was “…fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” And He did! And He still does.

Beyond Discription

Powerless, lifeless, emptiness—do you feel any of these adjectives portrays your church, family, or ministry? And even worse, are they descriptive of your personal life? If so, I know one thing for sure, the thrill of the spiritual is gone out of your life. What I mean by this is that you have lost the excitement of the eternal. And if this be the case, there really are no meaningful words in any dictionary to describe your wretched condition. As the little saying goes, “It’s beyond description.”

We can come up with all types of quack remedies for our ailment, but in the end we’ll find no healing virtue in any of them. What got us in the rut is what will get us out of it. In other words, the cure is to be found in the cause. And so, what is at the root of it? It’s actually very simple; somewhere along the way we lost the Wonder of it all. We allowed things to bring about a spiritual eclipse of Him. Our attention moved from the Giver to the gifts. “He who hath builded the house [no longer] hath more honour than the house.”

May each of us crawl to Christ, begging His forgiveness, for allowing our virtues to become our vices, thereby distorting our vision of Him.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Driving Force

"...the Spirit driveth him...driven of the devil..." It makes a great deal of difference who is sitting behind the wheel in our spiritual lives. The Spirit of God chauffeured Jesus; the devil drove the man of Gadara. The Master chose the Spirit to sit in the driver's seat; the maniac, Satan.

We, as Christians, need to be very careful of who the driving force is in our lives. In our story, both were "driven into the wilderness," but by two entirely different drivers. You can be sure the Spirit of God is not at the controls when there is frustration, anxiety, turmoil, confusion, and anger. Whenever God's Spirit is behind the wheel, there is always love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Don't allow a madman behind the wheel of your spiritual car.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sifted By Satan

“Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” It says of Abraham, the Patriarch, in the New Testament, that he was “strong in faith.” But, when you read the account of his life, in the Old Testament, you will find he staggered all over the place. Yet the Scriptures say, “He staggered not…” The answer? He had a strong faith but a weak flesh. Weak vessels can house strong materials.

Peter was like this. His courage failed him but not his confidence in God. The devil’s desire was the “trying of his faith,” which he wrote about in his first Epistle, some years later. Of all the things Jesus could have prayed for in this man’s life, it was for his faith. Paul tells us of its preeminent place, when he says, “Above all…faith.” For without it, it is impossible to please God.

Satan wanted to sift this saint in his sieve. He thought he would be the chaff that would fall to the floor, rather than the wheat that would stick to the sieve. He didn’t think Peter was the real thing, but he made the mistake, as he does with many of God’s children, of judging the book by its cover.

Christ’s intercession is not just general, but particular and personal. “I have prayed for thee.” Hallelujah! If no one else in this world prays for you today, you can be assured you have a Prayer Warrior interceding for you at the Father‘s right hand.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


“Thou shalt be king...and I shall be next unto thee.” The throne was Jonathan’s by birthright, but he chose to step aside for his friend. He promoted David at his own expense. He took pleasure in the advancement of his friend. He desired his friend to be preferred before him. Being near David—just sitting next to him—would be satisfaction enough.

Jonathan was a much better friend to David than David was to him. But, of course, David’s need for a friend (like some of us) was greater than Jonathan’s.

I had a friend like Jonathan. His name was Marvin. His was a self-denying friendship. It was a relationship of unselfish love. It could be said of him what we are told of Jonathan: “Jonathan loved him [David] as his own soul.” But, just as God took Jonathan from David, so He took my beloved friend from me. How I miss him! My pilgrimage on earth is not the same since he left for Home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Those Parenthetical Times

In 2 Corinthians chapter eight Paul is discussing the parenthetical times in a believers life. It seems the previous year these Corinthians had promised financial help to the poor saints at Jerusalem. But because of circumstances, either of their own making or for reasons beyond their control, they had not finished what they had started. The apostle’s advice to them was to perform what they had begun.

Certainly, if this truth teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that once we have commenced upon a worthy task, and for some reason are interrupted, we should be resolute in our determination to finish it at the first opportune time. Good intentions at the beginning should not be an excuse to release us from our obligation of picking up where we left off before the interval entered in! If it was worth starting, it’s worth finishing,

Our father Abraham, in whose steps we are to follow, left us an example of a parenthesis in a child of God’s life. He started for Canaan, but there was a ten year parenthesis in his life; nevertheless, as soon as the cause was removed he was back on the road to the Promised Land again. I love how the old King James records it, “…and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emancipated but Enslaved

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” It is possible to be set free, and enter a new kind of bondage. To leave one prison, only to take up residence in another. We can become voluntary slaves to legitimate habits. Excessive indulgence in an innocent, natural appetite can enslave as well as forbidden, unnatural one.

Habits—even legitimate and good ones—can master a person. Good things can create a craving. Anything or anyone that dominates all my time, thinking, and energy (God being the exception) can bring me into spiritual slavery.

Don’t allow your liberty to take away your freedom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Doom's Day

“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them…” The disciples were in the midst of the sea, toiling in the storm. Jesus was on high, praying. It was when His elect were engulfed in darkness, with the wind and the waves raging all about them, that Christ left His place of intercession and came to them, walking on a liquid floor.

Throughout the Scriptures, you find God always showing up at the last minute. You can look for Him when all hope is taken away. He waits till the fourth watch, when it’s the darkest, so that we will not be tempted to say later, “…mine own hand hath gotten me this.”

And so it will be with His Second Coming. The darkest hour of the night is just before the dawn. The morning watch (3 a.m. to 6 a.m.) is when those who are watching can see the “Bright and Morning Star.” As the night intensifies, you can look for “The Star” to show up.

This is not a Doom’s Day approach; it’s about His Glorious Appearing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Serious Praying

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." In George Washington's prayer journal, he confessed to God that his greatest sin was to be found in his praying. He went on to explain that it was his coldness and apathetic attitude that caused it. David tells us an individual's prayer can become sin. Let us be careful we do not fall into this category.

To find the definition of fervent, we need go no further than the Bible, for it is its own dictionary. Peter tells us it means "a fiery heat that melts." Everywhere I go it seems that saints are concerned with the coldness and callousness in the hearts of God's people today. I wonder if the problem does not lie in our own bosom, where we hide a heart of stone. If some of us got on fire, could it be those around us would begin to melt in the presence of such fervent heat?

An imitation fireplace may look good, but it does not warm anyone.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Better Late Than Never

"When he [Jesus] had heard therefore that he [Lazarus] was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” Why wait? Our Lord’s friend, whom He loved dearly, is at death’s door. And, as a result of His tarrying, Lazarus does die, which, as Martha stated, would not have happened had He been there. Why does Christ wait until the situation is impossible before showing up? Simple; to show He’s the God of the impossible, and to manifest His glory.

This is the same God of old who was going to answer Elijah’s prayer by fire. And so, what did the prophet do? He had twelve barrels of water poured on the sacrifice, wood, and altar, and then filled the trench around the altar with water. All this was not very conducive to a plan for God to burn up the sacrifice. But the man, who was “of like passions” as we are, knew nothing was too hard for the Lord. Do we know that?

God is not rushed, but He is reliable.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting Into Hot Water

Jesus didn’t get into trouble with His Jewish brethren for glorifying God. He got into hot water because He glorified Him at their expense. As long as He didn’t bring them and theirs into the picture, everything was fine. But when He put God before their exalted personalities (Abraham, Moses, etc.) and their religious rituals and rites (the Sabbath, Circumcision, etc.) they went after His scalp.

Not much has changed from those olden times. Many of the brethren today are all for glorifying God, as long as it doesn’t show them up. But, if you take away the outward spiritual tinsel, leaving them bare, with God towering over them, they’ll be looking for a cross to nail you to, also. Characteristically, these personalities and pet projects that are passed off as spiritual, must not be overshadowed by God; He is to take His place at the end of the line.

People such as this can never sincerely pray the prayer of A.W. Tozer: “God, glorify thyself, and do it at my expense.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

You Can't Change the Unchangeable

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” There are some things in our lives that will never change. True, God can give both of these a new nature. The Ethiopian eunuch can testify to this as well as the leopard that lies down with the kid. But neither has a change of their skin or spots. They will always remain the same. Some are like Sisera’s mother, anticipating something that is never going to happen.

We need to read again the little “Prayer of Serenity”:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are those things they can’t help?” I believe this to be true. But I also believe we should be ashamed of those things we can help and refuse to change.

I can’t change the wind’s direction, but I can change my own.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Drowning in Doubt

“…ask of God, that giveth to all…ask in faith, nothing wavering…For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Like Peter of old, once you ask the Lord for something, and he gives His nod of approval, don’t turn to look at the circumstances. If you do, you, too, will be tossed to and fro with every wave, and begin to sink (James 1:6; cp. Matt.14: 24,30).

An on-again-off-again faith always ends up a shipwrecked faith. When we are in such a sad spiritual condition, we are told we need not even think about getting anything from the Lord. Once we have ascertained a thing to be the will of God for our lives, we need to commit it to the Lord and see it through, at all costs. You know, like a marriage. Ride it through, for better or for worse. And with this kind of faith, I can guarantee, at the end of the day, the results will always be for the better.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Are Babies in Heaven?

There is a difference of opinion on the above question. The Scriptures are not too clear on the subject. My personal belief is that they are not; my reason for saying this is the same as that of no old people being there: imperfection. What mother going to Heaven before her infant would want it to remain a baby on earth? She would want it to grow and mature. It seems to me we will all be of a perfect age. Our Lord died in the prime of life and stayed that way.

No matter your position on the subject, one thing all of us should agree on is that maturity is one of the great necessities of life. Most all our problems stem from this lack. We hear a lot about growth today in the Christian realm, but Peter tells us that along with growth, there should be knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The result of growth without knowledge is retardation.

Paul told the Philippian believers he had lost everything for the knowledge of Christ. C.S. Lewis said, “The process of growing up is to be valued for what we gain, not for what we lose.”

A person doesn’t know anything until they know Christ intimately. (Col.2:3)

Saturday, September 13, 2008


My main problem with the self-help philosophy lies in the first word: self. In Romans 7, strong-willed Paul had given this teaching a try, only to lament, “...for to will is present with me; but how to perform…I find not.” He had the will, but lacked the power. He found it was through Christ and Christ alone he could accomplish any worthy work (Ro.7:24-25a; Jn.15:5b).

David tells us, “... twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” And Moses reminds God’s elect, “...thou shalt is [God] that giveth thee power...” The first in scripture to try and use his willpower apart from God was Lucifer. Five times he says, “I will,” and the result was disastrous (Isa.14:12-15).

The old time saying, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” may sound good to those who have boots. But what about those among us who were born void of both boots and straps? The New-Agers would have us believe the old adage, “God helps those who help themselves.” (And that’s the only people their willing to help.) But Christianity helps the helpless!

You can’ work out what God has not first worked in, If you try it, you’ll find it won’t work.

Friday, September 12, 2008

*Faith's Funeral

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone...For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” A living faith has works; if not, it’s in a coffin. Is it any wonder that we are exhorted to “ careful to maintain good works.” The judgment seat of Christ is not about the existence of works in a Christian’s life, but the quality of their works. We are to assume all believers have them, of one “sort” or another.

Jesus told His disciples that when men saw their good works, they would glorify the Father in Heaven. Good works are something we can leave behind for our loved ones to remember us by. “Dorcas...was full of good works...and all the widows stood by him [Peter] weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.” And, ultimately, they will follow us to Heaven: “...and their works do follow them.”

If James were living today, I imagine he would have come from Missouri—the “show-me” state. “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” In other words, James believed we ought to “put-up or shut-up.”

Like a rowboat, the Christian life has two oars—faith and works; take away one, and you go in circles.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

*The Church in the Cradle

“...let us go on...” The early Hebrew Christians were exhorted to “go on,” not to “go back.” The Church of today is mostly living in the past. What could be a glorious present is sacrificed for the memories of a golden past. Memories can be blessed and beneficial, as long as we do not forget they are, at best, just memories. We do not need so much a resurrection of a dead past as a revival of living in the present. It’s not an encore by the old players of the last act, but the curtain going up on the opening night of a new act with fresh talent.

Remember the “infant” Church was just that—infant. It has matured through the years. Shadowy truths have had light shone upon them. And it has grown geographically to be universal as well as local. Why long for yesterday’s babe in the cradle, when you have a mature adult that has the potential and means to function so much more capably than when in its infancy?

“Infant” and “primitive” denote a beginning; but not a place to stay.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

*Were or Are?

“And such were some of you." It is not "then"; it is "now." It is not the past; it is the present. It is not what you were; it's what you are that counts with God and is what should occupy our minds. An old Methodist preacher used to say, "A person who builds his life on his past is destined to fall."

Paul only gave his testimony two times in Acts. That's twice in some thirty years, and both times it was given out of necessity. The Apostle's epistles give little space to our being "in Adam" in comparison to our being "in Christ." Dwelling on the former can bring on a state of defeat, but dwelling on the latter brings victory.

Constantly inspecting a corrupt corpse can cause morbidity and depression. Like the man of Gadara, we need to leave the tombs and go among the living. The Prodigal's father said of his son, "This my son was dead, and is alive again." Let us dwell on the "is," not on the "was."

A person can do nothing about who he was, but can, who he is.

Monday, September 8, 2008

*Exceeding Our Reach

Harry A. Ironside, a gifted Bible teacher of the past and present day expositor, J.I. Packer, had similar experiences early in their Christian lives. Both were driven to the brink of a nervous breakdown by trying to reach an unattainable standard set by men in the particular group to which they belonged. The testimony of them both (looking back in hindsight) was that the very teachers themselves who advocated that type of life had never experienced it themselves.

C.S. Lewis, in referring to such people says, Those like myself, whose imagination far exceeds their obedience, are subject to a just penalty; we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined, we may make others, and make ourselves, believe that we have really been there.”
I think Martyn Lloyd-Jones sums up how to live the Christian life as well as anyone I have ever read after. Using that familiar text, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” he says in essence, it is not I, without Christ, nor is it Christ without I. You do not eliminate either; it takes both. He goes on to explain that the Christian life is simply a poor, weak, anemic believer, infused by the mighty power of the indwelling Christ, carrying out, with his or her own personality and temperament, the responsibilities given him or her by God.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

*One Bad Experience

I was a boy of eight or nine and had just finished playing baseball on an extremely hot day. I stopped at the corner ice cream parlor on my way home and got a delicious, creamy, vanilla ice cream cone. After consuming about half of it, while heading for the house, I got horribly sick and brought it all up. From that day, I never ate that flavor again until recent years.

How many of us in life are like this? We spend years blaming others for one bad experience, when all the time, it would never have transpired had it not been for the condition we were in at the time. What is so pitiful about the whole thing is that we could be enjoying that thing or person we blame if we only admitted it was not them or it that was the cause, but us! I now thoroughly love vanilla, but cringe when I think of the wasted years of enjoyment I forfeited by living on one bad experience.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

*Divine Interruption

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell...” In recounting this event to others, Peter said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell…” I am so thankful to say that I have been in such services—services where God interrupted preaching, singing, and even the praying. I was once asked, “What do you do when God gets in it?” My reply was, “I get out of it.”

The Bible teaches order, but not at the expense of God interrupting that order. I am not against bulletins listing the order of the service, but let us be careful we do not organize God out of them. You cannot dictate time to an eternal God.

Let’s be more concerned about our heart’s burning than the Sunday roast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

*The Everyday Stuff

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…” I think it’s time for us to be reintroduced to what real Christianity is. We have produced a generation of “happy hour” Christians, who believe they must have a spiritual high at some time each day. They cannot handle the boring and mundane; they need a pick-me-up to keep going.

Many think of the Christian life only as something mystical and inspirational. But, in reality, it’s mostly practical and “perspirational.” Though I know this statement will not set well with the “spiritual elite,” who sit in their lofty seats, nevertheless, I’ll say it anyway. Sometimes we have to take the first step as if there were no God to find out there is. I believe it’s called “living by faith.”

The order in a believer’s life should be Deity, duty, and delight. It may be well to remember that spiritual blessings are something we stumble over as we walk the road of obedience. Those who get off this road to seek spiritual highs find instead spiritual lows.

Putting Deity into daily drudgery makes it a delight.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

*Throw Away Your Catcher's Mitt

“Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And [Jesus] said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you” They could not get Jesus entangled in the affairs of others. He could have given the right answer, but He would have been meddling in business that was not His own. To have gone out on the limb, so to speak, would have had one of the two parties cut it off. When we invade areas that are none of our business, we do it to our own hurt.

In Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff, he has a chapter on this very subject. Though his book is not Christian, it has many Christian principles. One of his philosophical quips is “If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it.” He mentions our tendency to jump on board someone else’s problem and how we assume, because they throw us a concern, we must catch it and respond. He goes on to say, you have a choice; you don’t have to catch the ball. I’ve made up my mind, and I hope you will, too, that I’m not going to play in that game.

There are bodies who are busy; then there are busy-bodies.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dreading Delight

"And Esau ran to meet him, and he embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." What a sight this must have been, especially when you consider the great gulf that existed between these two. For years, the one had carried a grudge, while the other was loaded down with guilt.

But the God who makes both ends to meet in the middle can also make the two extremes compatible and compassionate when they meet face to face. Time is a great healer. The wise man tells us there's "…a time to embrace."

Let's allow in others what we desire for ourselves—time to grow and mature. It's amazing the change a few years can bring. God turned Jacob's long dreading into delight, and so can he do with us.

Compatibility is always a possibility with God.

Friday, August 29, 2008

*Free Will

The sovereignty of God and the free will of man have been argued and debated from early Church history. Good and godly men have held opposing views—John Calvin and John Wesley, to name two. In spite of all the endless debates by some of the greatest minds, it is still unsettled. And I believe it will remain so until we get to Heaven and see them as two separate train tracks coming together in an arch.

Admittedly, I do not understand these two seemingly opposite doctrines, but, at the same time, I believe them to be equally true. Having said this let me give you my personal convictions about these twins, and how they relate to my own life.

Five times it is said of Lucifer (Satan) before his fall, “I will...” Of our first parents we are told, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” It seems from the first, that each time someone could exercise their free will, they chose wrongly. Therefore, I am fearful of my free will. I find it best to say, “Not my will, but thy will.”
God works in me both to will and do His will. I’m so thankful He didn’t leave me to work out my own.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

*A Divine Peek Behind Closed Doors

“…and thy Father, which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” This phrase, I believe, is found three times in Matthew chapter six. And, if it teaches anything, it certainly tells us that what we do behind closed doors, where only God can see us, is of vital importance to our public lives. For it is in the secret place that we determine what the reward will be in public. It seems today there is a great desire to put oneself on public display. And the result is a tragic amount of casualties.

I am sure most of us are familiar with the story when young David was brought before Saul, who questioned whether such a youth was qualified to face the giant, Goliath. When being challenged by Saul for his lack of military experience, as well as his youth, out of necessity, David told of an experience he had had in secret. This young man had fearlessly killed a lion and a bear, single-handedly, while shepherding his flock. We can now understand God rewarding him openly by helping him slay his giant.

Each of us, no matter what our age or maturity as Christians, will have “giants” that we will be confronted with in the public arena of life. Our victories over these will be determined by our personal victories in secret, behind closed doors. Never underestimate the importance of that part of your life that is secret.

Remember, the most important part of your life is the part that only God sees.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

*Those Contemptible Contemporaries

“Say not thou...that the former days were better than these.” To some, the past was better than the present, and they believe the future will even surpass that. But to such sad souls the present is the worse time in which anyone could live. I find that people who believe and say this are unwilling to put forth any effort in making the present excel the past. We know this can be accomplished, for we have the past to go on.

To the many who despise and detest anything that smacks of the new or modern I would remind that everything was so at one time. The advantage of the old is that it has had time to be tried and proven. Thus, with age, it has become vintage. Many things that are contemporary and thus viewed as being contemptible now, will someday be cherished by others. Remember, Jesus said, “...the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that...bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” And don’t forget, Jesus is going to “make all things new.” You can sit and reminisce about the past; just make sure you live in the reality of the present, and work to make it better.

The old paths we are to ask for were paved by the contemptible contemporaries of that day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

*Contented Admiration

Those characteristics we admire in others and lack in our own lives, undoubtedly, are the cause of so much emulation among us. We are not content to admire another’s attributes and gift’s; we must have them. Or at least act as though we do. There are things that are unique about each of us that others do not, and will not, ever possess. It’s called individuality. And what a boring, bland world it would be without it.

Each of us has his or her strengths and shortcomings. We all desire to be in possession of the first, but want nothing to do with the latter. But that is not how it works. God ordained that we should complement each other. Another’s strength, undergirds my weakness, and visa versa. In other words, God fixed it so that we should need each other. No man is an island. We all need someone to help us on to God.

Individuality does not mean independence.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last Things

“Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” This quote is from the last book, the last chapter, next to the last verse, the last promise, and the last prayer of the Bible. It is also the last words recorded of Jesus and John. Our lovely Savior is speaking here to His lonely saint.

There has been much unkind insinuation toward those who differ in their views of this end-time book. All the bitter dispute and controversy about how He is coming should be laid aside for the fact of His coming. Those who have formed unbridled fancies about His return, assuming their self-confidence makes them infallible and omniscient, may be in for a rude awakening. I think, at His coming, many dogmatists will end up in the doghouse!

Much of this book of prophecy will probably never be understood fully until reviewed in Glory “For [now] we know in part, and we prophecy in part…but [then] shall I know…”

“Come, Lord Jesus,”
should be pre-eminent in all our prayers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

*He'll Get Around to You

After Jesus called His disciples, He began to teach and preach in various towns. The men who followed Him had left loved ones, livelihoods, homes, and their childhood communities. It would be only human for them to want their friends and families to meet their Master and miracle- worker. Who would not long for Him to do, among their own, what they observed Him doing with others?

God is not forgetful of our devotion and obedience to Him. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter eleven, we are told, “...he [Christ] departed thence to teach and to preach in their [disciples’] cities.” If we are patient, Jesus will always get around to us. We may be sure that what He has been, and is doing in other homes, lives, churches, and cities, we will experience also, if we but follow and obey Him as He ministers to others.

God may start with the first house on the block, but be sure He’ll visit you, in time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bursting Bubbles

“…every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Old or young, prince or pauper, wise or a fool—when they have reached the top will find themselves at the bottom. This truth is for all men; none is excluded. Flesh is flesh; therefore, the carnal Christian is included in this cauldron with its sickening stench.

I’m fearful for these carnivorous Christian achievers who mingle among us today. What a surprise it will be when they arrive at their zenith and hear, not “Well done,” but, rather, “Vanity of vanities.” And, if you would like to know what vanity is, it’s what’s left after you break a soap bubble. And, believe me; God knows how to burst our bubbles.

For any Christian “professional,” who may be reading this, allow me to give you my homespun definition of the word: “Professionalism is man at his best without God.”

Achievers never achieve without God.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

God is Behind the Scene

I do not understand the intricate movements of my watch. Everything seems to move contrary to the other. So it is with God’s dealings in my life, yet I know they all work for my good. When time is no more, I’ll be able to look back and see every movement of my life was for my benefit regardless of how trying the circumstances.

The axe cannot cut without a hand first picking it up, and no instrument can be used against me unless the Lord first gives His approval. In spite of who brings the affliction to us, it is God that sends it. Augustine observes that the Bible did not say, “The Lord gave and the devil took away: but, the Lord hath taken away.”

The hand that slaps me across the face could have been torn from its socket by Almighty God when it was first lifted up against me, had He chosen to do so.

May God help us today to see Him behind every affliction in our lives. May we learn to look past the instrument that brings the pain, to Him who works it for our good. In every unpleasant situation, bringing to mind Joseph’s words, “Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Amen.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Geography or Jesus

Down through history, both in sermon and song, Heaven seems to have been made the goal for the Christian. It has been placed first on his list of desires, even above Jesus. We are told that we should long for Heaven. But what if it were (and it shall be) reversed, and Jesus were reigning on earth? Would we feel the same? The truth is, it’s not geography, it’s Jesus.

When Christ returns to this earth again, we are told that He empties out Heaven of all the redeemed. Paul didn’t long for Heaven; he longed for Him. Listen to his testimony, “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ.” Again: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” His emphasis is not on a place, but a Person.

Even our Lord directs our attention to Himself, not on Heaven: “I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am, there ye may be also.” His Priestly prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am...” Wherever Jesus is, is Heaven.

Without the Lord Jesus, the Heavenly City, with its mansions, streets of gold, and fine linen clothing, would be like the earth is now....simply a materialistic place.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Series "Letter to a Friend"

Please scroll down to the first letter, then work backward.

Letter to a Friend (5 of 5)

To My Four Unique Christian Friends,

I have written to each of you, personally and briefly. Please allow me now, in this last letter, to humbly address all four of you. There are some things I’ve observed in my ministry of over fifty years that I’d like to pass along to you.

Our greatest error and danger today is in seeking to develop the characteristics of the other. The real challenge is to accept one’s own temperament and rely upon the Holy Spirit within to emphasize the unique virtues we possess, while subduing our weaknesses that are inclined to surface from time to time.

Let us always keep before us David’s words in Psalms: “It is he [God] that made us, and not we ourselves.” It was David who refused to go in someone else’s armor. We’d be wise to follow his example.

Marred, yes; discarded, never! (Jer.18:1-6)

Letter to a Friend (4 of 5)

To My Faithful Friend: Melancholic,

It must be very difficult for one with your perfectionist spirit to take constructive criticism from your other “siblings.” Some of the things I’ve heard said about you are: “He is slow to embrace new concepts”; “When he meets resistance, he lacks resilience to come back”; “It never occurs to him that others do not share his ideas”; “He has real difficulty accepting human failure”; “He is so easily hurt, especially by those close to him”; “He has trouble interacting with others when it’s not on the level of his choice”; “And his frequent bouts with depression are difficult to be around.”

You are such a loyal and devoted friend that these things, for the most part, fade into obscurity. The thing that dwarfs all your faults and shortcomings is your intimate relationship with God. The intimacy and devotion are like a love affair. Your depth and dedication to our Lord is exceeded by none. Your lofty conception of God is many times misunderstood by those around you.

When one loves God with all his being, as you do, I find it hard to major on your minor faults. You are in the category with Elijah, Moses, David, and John the Beloved. I don’t think you, or others, should feel too badly about yourself. “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”

Letter to a Friend (3 of 5)

To My Christian Friend: Choleric,

It seems to me that those whom the Lord has gifted most (as the great Apostle) must all their lives bear a thorn in their flesh. This certainly seems to be true in your case. I understand that an angry spirit has plagued you all your life, along with other gouging unpleasantries. Your ability to inspire is sometimes overshadowed by intimidation. Your lack of patience and disgust with those who show little depth is well known, and those who maneuver and manipulate can provoke you to bitterness. Unlike some of your “siblings,” when you fall, it’s not a short one, but all the way down. All this can make for one lonely person.

Though few, if any, would be willing to carry your negative characteristics throughout life, they covet the attributes you possess. No one can question you genuineness. Personal acclaim and recognition have never been your sole concern. Your militant spirit has given courage to many to fight the good fight of faith. From your kind come heroes, founders, zealots, and achievers. Your principles are unshakable. The total dedication to Christ, with no half-measures, is inspiring to all. And your awareness of God is matched by few.

Your Christian family understands how difficult it must be to carry around all your excess baggage. I know it’s a tremendous burden to you, but, thank you for not allowing your chipped pitcher to keep you from giving us fresh water. We respect you for this.

Your Friend

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Letter to a Friend (2 of 5)

To Phlegmatic, Christian and Friend:

Let me begin by saying how terribly sorry I am for not understanding you better, as well as for having misrepresented you over the years of our friendship. Because it’s your nature to be unemotional and detached, it appeared to me that you were indifferent and passionless in your friendships.

Like most people who judge others, I never looked for your good qualities, only those I ignorantly thought to be inferior. How blind I’ve been to those areas where you excel: your adaptability; your direct approach to solving problems; your sense of duty and responsibility; your obedience; the stabilizing effect you have on people, especially groups; how you never intentionally rock the boat. And I covet the spirit you display in having no need for the attention of others.

In closing, on behalf of our entire Christian family, let me say that we appreciate you more than you can know. We realize now you have a deep love and loyalty to our Lord, and your spirit of “keeping on” when others have thrown in the towel has been an inspiration to the whole household of God.

Your Friend

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Letter to a Friend (1 of 5)

My Dear Christian Sanguine,

I was going to write you and your three “siblings” together, but I felt that each of you deserves a personal letter. Though I am not into psychology, I know a little of what it has to say about each of you. The interesting thing is that all four of you were found in the Bible before you were ever named. It’s amazing how modern the Old Book is!

Sanguine, I realize at times you are misunderstood by us who are your brethren because of some of your characteristics. Your talkativenesss, impulsiveness, restlessness, etc, can often get on people’s nerves. Some say you’re not a great thinker, and, as a result, are shallow. Say what they will, but I, for one, thank God each time I meet you. You always brighten up my life. Your cheerful spirit, winning smile, and refusal to take offense, bless my soul.

Whatever your shortcomings, they are overshadowed by your childlike faith, your undying gratitude to God for the smallest of blessings, along with your delight in the simple things of life. I honestly do not know what this dull, drab world would do without your smiling face. Stick in there; we all need you.

Your Friend

Commentaries and Dictionaries

“The holy scriptures...are able to make thee...perfect, throughly furnished…” After all is said and done, it must be admitted the Bible is all we need for doctrine and rule of life. I am not against helps that benefit us as long as we realize the Word of God needs no crutches. Since most of us, at best, are innately lazy, we grow weary seeking and searching for the hidden treasures of the Word. So we spend a lot of time and money on modern machinery, believing we can mine-out its riches the easy way.

I am not contentious over the various translations used by men, but this old man is content that the 1611 KJV he has used for over half a century is God’s Word to the English-speaking world. I go so far as to say it is perfect, without error, preserved by God. It is its own best dictionary and commentary. It interprets itself; it proves itself. Other translations contain the Word, but the old 1611 Is the Word.

I am told the word “inspiration” (2 Tim.3:16), in the Greek, means “God-breathed,” but my A.V. English translation explains the Greek. Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the the breath of his mouth.” As to archaic words, the old book is accurate again. The word “spew,” found in Revelation 3:16, is interpreted as “vomit” in Leviticus 18:28,25. The meaning of Christ (“the anointed”) can be found by comparing Psalm 2:2 and Acts 4:26. There be many other things of which I cannot write at this time, such as this Bible being self-correcting concerning publishers’ typographical errors. Our computer does; why not God?

Addendum: Just recently in devotions I got this. I’ve been searching for it for fifty years. The meaning of Holy (Lk.2:23). It means Sanctify (Ex.13:2). And those two words mean Set Apart (Ex.13:12). Got that without the Hebrew or Greek!)

All this is crazy, you say? Maybe so; but if so, don’t forget you are told to comfort this feeble old man!

God has only one Living Word and He has only one Written Word.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

*Dangerous Inventions

The word “invent,” in one form or another, is found eight times in the Bible. It means to create by the exercise of the imagination; to think; to weave; to fabricate; to contrive. Most of the time, it’s used in a bad setting.

As Christians, we need to be conscious that we are not guilty of concocting some new invention in our “laboratories.” Jacob and his mother schemed together, using their own ingenuity, to invent a plan to bring to pass the will of God. Be careful, lest God leave us to our own “witty inventions.”
Amos tells us that when God’s people were not in a right relationship with Him, they “invent[ed] to themselves instruments of music like David.” When we are carnal, we are prone to invent something that mimics the spiritual. We need something to substitute for our lack of spirituality.

Beware that we do not invent something to our own destruction; remember Dr. Frankenstein.

On Being a Good Listner

A preacher acquaintance of mine was holding a revival. He told the people that if they would bring a friend who had not yet heard him, they would receive a nice gift. The next night, a little boy marched up to him with his friend to receive his much awaited prize. Upon seeing the little guest, the minister commented that he had noticed him there the previous night, therefore disqualifying him, since he had already heard him. The little boy would not be outdone, and said, “Oh, that’s OK preacher; he heard you, but he wasn’t listening to a thing you said!”

How true this is of us, not only with our Lord, but with one another. We hear, but few of us listen. To me, hearing is the information side, but listening is the assimilation part. Listening takes effort, concentration, along with concern. If what we hear is not absorbed, becoming a part of us, then, as Jesus said, it will be “cast out into the draught.” Like young Joshua of old, we hear the sound, but we can’t discern.

We are so interested in what we have to say, it’s hard for us to listen to others attentively. This is derived from a superior attitude. Talkers are not learners; listeners are. I guess this accounts for all the ignorance in the world today. There are a lot of lonely, hurting people who long for someone to listen to them. God help us to not just hear them, but to listen.

“Swift to hear, slow to speak.”
So says the Scriptures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

*It Doesn't Fit There

One of a child’s first learning skills is fitting different shapes of wooden pieces (squares, ovals, pegs, etc.) into a board with corresponding empty spaces. It seems the most frustrating time is when they realize a square peg doesn’t fit in a round hole, no matter how many times it is tried.

Nothing is more pointless or fruitless than repeatedly attempting the same thing, in the same way, and expecting different results. When will we “grown-ups” learn to cease trying continually to make things fit into our lives that were never meant to be placed there?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

*God's Highway to Happiness

“And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” So says Isaiah concerning God’s elect who had gotten themselves into a real mess. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that He could and would do it, for He had done it before. Therefore, they could sing to one another, “It is no secret what God can do/ What He’s done for others He’ll do for you.”
There is always a way out of any and all situations, if we will but look for it and then courageously take it by faith. Most certainly there will be mountains of difficulties on this road as on that of the world’s. The difference is that God removes the mountains for those on His road. Zerubbabel found this to be true. God speaking to this man’s difficulty says, “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.”
God can turn gloomy days into glorious ones; it all depends on which road we chose to travel. At the end of God’s highway is happiness!

How Shall We Then Live?

How Shall We Then Live? This is one of the titles in Francis A. Schaeffer’s five volume set on a Christian worldview. He masterly approaches the subject, for the most part, in a scholarly and intellectual way. But, since I am well aware of my own limitations in these areas, I will come at it from the practical side. I am sure each person has his or her own philosophical answer to this question; so, if you will please allow me, I’ll add mine to yours.

Here then is how I would like to consistently live my life in this present world, though, at this time, I must confess, it is done only in a spasmodic way. If I could have my desire, it would be to live each day as if it were the first day of my Christian life, with the addition of maturity, while at the same time, like it was the last day of my life on this earth, with the absence of morbidity.

How exciting it would be to start each day with the joy we had in our new-found faith—no past, no guilt. Our future as bright as the promises of God. Everything fresh and new, with an awareness of a celestial scent, the aroma of which captivates our very being. And, in addition to this, to realize within twenty-four hours, we will be going to our permanent and eternal home, where we will see and be with our beloved Elder Brother through the endless ages. What a day that would be!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Difference is Divine.

“[He] made the stars star differeth from another star...” We sometimes hear the worn out cliché, when referring to a person who is a strong individualist, “God threw away the mold when he made him.” The inference is that those who are left are all alike. The truth of the matter is, when God made each of us, He threw away the mold. No two people are exactly alike—not even, so-called identical twins. God is a God of variety. Both now on earth and in our resurrection bodies, each will differ from the other.

Only on the human assembly line of life are replicas made. Mankind has an affinity for look-alikes, act-alikes, and think-alikes. As my younger daughter used to say of such people, when she was a little tyke, “They’re “same-alikes.” Paul recognized this truth when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth saying, “For who maketh thee to differ from another?” The simple answer, of course, is: God did.

Let us not allow anyone, especially the religious world, to put us in a man made mold. Be yourself, and don’t be ashamed of it. Put off Saul’s armor, and be the person you are. Something supernatural happens when a person is willing to be their natural self. Read the story of David and Goliath.

Don’t be a carbon copy; be an original.

*Identical Cloth

“I thank thee, that I am not as other men are...” Be careful; words such as these are always associated with a pharisaical spirit, whether they be spoken audibly or a hidden attitude of the heart. The truth is, we are all cut from the same cloth. There is nothing in life that touches another that we are not susceptible to. The Scriptures tell us it is common to all men.

The people of James’ day, like many of us, believed the Patriarchs of old to be in a separate category from them. Thus, James speaks of one such saint as being “a man of like passions as we are.” Peter made the grave mistake that so many of us are making: “Although all shall...yet will not I.” The most dangerous words that can come from our lips are, “How could they do such a thing? I would never do that.” Whenever we see or hear of such things, we need to remind ourselves, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Paul admonishes believers to consider their own selves, lest they end up in similar circumstances.

We become vulnerable when we vaunt ourselves against another.