Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twisted Lives

Someone made the statement to me recently that life can be complicated. My reply was that it was people who complicate things, not life itself. Actually, when you think of it, life is fairly a simple thing. It is we humans that tangle everything up. To quote my dear wife, “No one can get themselves in the mess that humans do.”

Why is it that so many, whose lives are in a mess, stay that way? They never seem to find a starting point; their lives are continually in disarray. I find most, if not all in this condition, simply are not willing to take the time and patience required to unravel the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.

One little helpful philosophical saying that the Lord gave me years ago is, “Begin where you are.” How many tangled balls of yarn lie in some old dusty drawer, never to be untangled by one who intends to someday? How sad; something beautiful and useful could be made from that muddled mess, had someone simply begun.

One thing is for sure in life; you’ll never get there if you don’t start!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Unfinished Life

In his insightful little book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, secular writer Richard Carlson has a chapter entitled “When You Die, Your ‘In Basket’ Won’t Be Empty.” He tells us it is the nature of an in- basket to be full; it’s not meant to be empty. He reminds us that when we die there will still be unfinished work to do.

We are told Paul finished his course, and that the two witnesses in Revelation finished their testimony. But their ministries go on, churches are still being built, and testimonies are still being lived out. Jesus interprets the meaning of a finished life when He says, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” That is, He finished what God had planned for His life.

Most things found in our in-basket are not that important. Seldom, if ever, will you find an emergency in an in-basket. Frustration comes when we try to empty it out. New things are being added to it daily, and you’ll never catch up. Don’t worry about it. When we’re gone someone else will continue getting the odd jobs done. Don’t live out your life from an in-basket. Enjoy what matters; occupy yourself with family and friends, not a “to do” list.

It’s a humbling thought that life will go on without us!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

*Fullness Can Beget Forgetfulness

“Lest when thou...art full...thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God.” I try to read Deuteronomy chapter eight on a regular basis, and I encourage others to do the same for their own Spiritual welfare. Though it need not be, many of God’s people allow fullness to translate into forgetfulness.

The Bible abounds with warnings and examples of this pitfall. Read Psalm 106, and see how quickly Israel was to forget God their Savior after each miracle performed on their behalf. Sodom’s doom was “...fullness of bread.” The rich fool left God out of his life when his barns were full. Listen to God’s indictment of his people in Hosea: “[T]hey were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” And what Christian is not familiar with the Laodicean philosophy: “[I] have need of nothing.” The wise man said, “Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord.” We need to be careful that our full souls do not cause us to loathe the sweet things of God. If we do, our blessings will become curses.

“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.” (Jer.22:21)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Choice is Yours

"Choose you..." This is a term and principle found throughout the Scriptures. Once we are saved, God does not generally do our choosing for us, whether in the spiritual or physical realm. Usually, in both big and small matters, He leaves the choice to us. Though He always can do the choosing, He seldom does. He created us with different temperaments, likes and dislikes. In a wide variety of things, we each have our individual preferences.

When we come to the everyday things of life, some of us can come across as being "spiritual," when, in reality, it is pseudo-spirituality. God doesn't mind our choosing things like what we eat or wear. He leaves it up to us as to color, texture, and taste. As someone has said, "When God has had His way with us, then we can have our way." The main thing with God is, whatever we do is to be to His glory.

Though God foreknows everything in our lives, He does not necessarily foreordain it. If everything was foreordained, we'd have no responsibility. We'd be robots. God wants me to be satisfied and happy. And there are certain things that would hinder this if I could not choose. My free-will is no threat to God’s sovereignty!

Choose what you will as long as you have chosen God's will first.

Friday, December 25, 2009

You Can't Have it Both Ways

“And a certain ruler… [said]…Good Master…And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” This new age of young people has fallen, as the old adage goes, “hook, line, and sinker,” for the New Age teaching. That is, that Jesus Christ was simply a good man. This, they think, makes them respectable. But under this facade lies the same pagan.

While on earth, Jesus Christ said He was God, and He accepted worship as God. As C.S. Lewis so aptly brings out, “Jesus was a Liar, Lunatic, or the Lord of Glory.” They think of themselves as really spiritual elitists because they believe, they say, in God. But James tells us the devils believe this. In fact, demons go them one better, they believe Jesus is the Christ of God. It’s this liberating truth satanic powers want to keep hidden from this younger generation.

Interestingly, these empty hearted professors think like all empty religionists, that you can know God without His Christ. But the truth is, one cannot know God without Christ. Jesus’ words to the church goers of His Day, those who rejected Him, but professed they knew God, lays it out plainly in no uncertain terms, saying that no man can know God unless He Himself reveals Him to that person.

Christ is God’s last Word to this world; and God always gets the last Word!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

*Missing at the Party

Luke records the only single incident of the boyhood of Jesus, as well as His first spoken words. He was twelve years old, and Mary and Joseph had taken Him to Jerusalem for the yearly feast of Passover. When they left, they, unintentionally, left Jesus behind. Traveling with a caravan, Mary thought Him to be with Joseph, or one of His kin. Joseph, no doubt, felt the same. A day out, they discovered He was missing. They searched for Him among their relations, then the next day, traveled back to Jerusalem, and on the third day, they found Him in the temple.

We must be careful during religious festivities that we do not lose sight of Christ. It was not while they were fasting that they lost Him, but while they were feasting. Fond memories of Him in the past are not actually fellowship with Him in the present.

If you have lost sight of Christ during this season of the year, it would be well to emulate Mary and Joseph: “When they found him not, they turned back again...” You’ll always find Him where you lost Him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aquainted With God

“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” When the Word of God (A.V.1611) speaks of being acquainted with someone or something, it does not mean what we generally take it to mean today. Rather than a slight familiarity, it can mean a deep knowledge of the subject. For example, Jesus was “acquainted with grief.”

Much, in some circles, is made of the Word of God, but little of the God of the Word. The purpose of the former is to reveal to us the latter. To stop short with the first is to remain in the Outer Court of the Tabernacle, so to speak, without ever entering the Holy of Holies where God abides. The Laver (type of the Word of God), which was without the Veil, was a preparatory means in one’s approach to God within the Veil.

Many pride themselves and flaunt the fact that they know the Word of God. But after spending only a few minutes in their presence, it is obvious they know little or nothing of The Book’s author! Satan can quote scripture, the Pharisee’s had a working knowledge of it, and the Scribe’s were considered interpreters of the scriptures; yet none of these had a deep and meaningful relationship with God.

“John Owen and John Calvin knew more theology than John Bunyan or Billy Bray, but who would deny that the latter pair knew their God every bit as well as the former?” (J.I. Packer)

Moving To the Front of the Line

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Solomon could certainly attest to this (2 Chron.1:11-12). When we learn to give up our coveted place at the front of the line and place Him at the head, we will never find ourselves at the end of it. Adherence to this Divine rule is absolute for a happy Christian life. Our life now must be subservient to the next.

The obtaining of the necessities of life (and many times, its niceties) is a direct result of putting Christ at the forefront of it. All additives tacked on are for this one reason.

No Christian gets ahead by being first.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'll Be Seeing You

A line from a beautiful love song of the 40’s say’s, “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places.” Well, in John’s gospel he records the words of the Lover of our souls, before leaving this world, promising, “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice.” And the old saint continues this exciting anticipation in his first epistle by telling us, “We shall see him as he is.” And in the Revelation, alone on Patmos, nearing his end, he adds “And [we] shall see his face.”

The gospel song puts it this way, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see; and I look upon his face, the One who saved me by his grace.” As the old timer’s would say of this promise of seeing our Lord face to face, “You can hang your hat on it.” That is, you can depend on it. I like the way Job put it, “For I know…after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh (Resurrection) shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold.”

Let me close by once again quoting “…the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Speaking to all the family of God he writes, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Suppose it is All True

Paul asked his readers to, “…bear with me a little in my folly.” I’d like to request the same of mine. Please try and be graciously patient with this old man for a couple or three brief paragraphs, and hear me out.

I want to ask each of you a question: Suppose it is all true? That is, the conspiracy theories, that the saints will go through a tribulation period, and that our beloved nation will become a second or third rate power in the near future? Would such unimaginable events leave you “a sack of nerves”; or instead, one who, for lack of a better term, can “roll with the punches?”

Years ago, when I was a pastor, one of our young ladies, a beautiful eighteen year old, newly married, was in a head-on auto collision. It left her paralyzed from the waist down. Loved ones and friends were all praying for her healing, and naturally so. But I felt impressed to prepare her for life in a wheel-chair; “plan for the worse, hope for the best,” so to speak. As I told her, if God allows you walk again, well, we can easily fit that into your daily schedule. But confinement in a chair for the rest of one’s life will not be as simple!

Among Evangelical and Fundamental Christians, there is a popular teaching that the carnal Church of our day will not have to go through any coming sufferings. But what if we find out that “we are no better than our fathers,” that we, too, must experience our “Dark Ages” and “Treblinkas,” what then? As the old adage says, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Years ago I saw a picture that illustrates my point. It was an ox standing between a yoke and an altar. Under the picture was the caption, “Ready for either.” Are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Anchor Holds

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...” One definition of the word “anchor” in Webster’s Dictionary is: "a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay." This certainly describes the Lord Jesus, does it not? An anchor is the symbol of hope, and the Scriptures tell us Christ is our Hope. He does for the soul what an anchor does for a ship. Because our Anchor is both sure and steadfast, it enables us to outride the storms of life. No matter how severe the tempest, or wild the waves, or boisterous the winds, there is calm within the veil.

Therefore, our standing is unmovable;. but our state may present us entirely different. We may be tossed to and fro with the tempest, but, like a buoy in a storm that appears to be movable on the surface, unseen to the naked eye, it is both “sure and steadfast” underneath the tempestuous storm. Our flesh may be weak, but our faith is strong. John Bunyan wrote, “Hope is never ill when faith is well.”

Though the angry surges roll On my tempest-driven soul, I am peaceful, for I know, Wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, That can evermore endure.

Refrain: And it holds, my anchor holds: Blow your wildest, then, O gale, On my bark so small and frail; By His grace I shall not fail, For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friends to the End

"A friend loveth at all times." Being a friend is unconditional; having a friend is conditional. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." I want us to focus our attention on the former of these two. You can be a friend without necessarily having one. Jesus called Judas "friend."

When I was very young in the Faith, someone made the statement that when you're dying, if you can count your true friends on one hand , you can consider yourself blessed. At the time, I thought the statement was a little morbid, but, after living all these years and observing people, I am not as sure. I wonder if most of us do not mistake acquaintances for friends.

A true friend is one who knows all about us and still loves us. Henry Brooks Adams said, "Every man should have a fair sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends. Or, as another has put it, "When my friends are one-eyed, I look at their profile."

A friendship that can end never really began. (Publilius Syrus)

Friday, December 11, 2009

W.W.J.D. or W.W.J.S.

I’m not advocating the throwing away of your bracelet, necklace, etc.; but after this article, you may want to change the end letter “D,” to “S.” In my opinion it is not, “What would Jesus do?” but rather, “What would Jesus say?” I find most that practice the former go by their own imagination, instead of Divine Inspiration.

I seriously doubt if any Believer who saw Christian material being sold in the vestibule of their church for three or four times its actual price, would turn over the tables and drive out the culprits with a whip. That’s what Jesus would do; but what He would say is, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

Jesus did a lot of things we could not and should not do, but all that He said, we can safely follow. God said concerning His Son, “Hear ye Him.” When we’re told to “follow in His steps,” it’s speaking spiritually, not physically. Paul said of young Titus, “Walked we not in the same spirit? Walked we not in the same steps?”

We cannot do what God does, but we can all do what God says. And so next time we’re in a predicament, rather than asking, “What would Jesus do?” how about, “What would Jesus say?” We’d be surer, I believe, of getting out of our ruts, and also pleasing God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If any man…consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…he is proud, knowing nothing.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Acid Test

One of the meanings of this proverbial saying is: A test used to determine whether a metal is real gold or not. In the movie, The Untouchables, Elliott Ness, the crime fighter, played by Kevin Costner; and the beat cop, Malone, played by Sean Connery, are discussing how to get the gangster, Al Capone. There is a great line where Malone asks Ness, “What are you prepared to do?

I find there is no lack of sermons, writings, or dialogue today on the sad condition within Christendom. But that seems to be as far as it goes: sermons, writings, and talk. The truth is, these experts are no more than “Monday morning quarterbacks” (a person who, after the event, offers advice or criticism concerning decisions made by others; one who second-guesses). The real acid test is, “What are you prepared to do”?

Malone’s dying words to Ness are the same he asks when they embarked of their mission to get Capone, “What are you prepared to do.? My question to each who read this article is this: “What are you prepared to do”?

“Actions speak louder than words”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lists

We have various lists, for example, things to do list, grocery list, and of course, our traditional Christmas list. And usually we prioritize the things on them according to their importance, or by how pressing they are. Then we start checking each off from top to bottom, as they’re accomplished.

In our Christian life God tells His children to put His Son at the top of their list of desires, and then He promises He will add the other things. To reverse the order is to experience subtractions from your life rather than the additions promised. No believer ever got ahead by putting Him second.

Speaking of priorities C.S. Lewis writes, “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.” He goes on to say, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abandoned

To withdraw one's support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble. This is just one of the dictionary’s definitions of the word, “abandon.” Fortunate indeed is that individual who can go on with his or her life, after being forsaken by a person or persons dear to them.

It is a pitiful sight to see one clinging to someone who wants nothing to do with him or her. The words of a country song illustrate my point, "He was a man holding on to a woman letting go." Blessed is that man or woman who, when loved ones and friends have gone away, can walk away; leaving it to the past.

Jesus told His disciples that they would leave Him alone, and then added, “…yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” This is the secret of perennial victory in one’s life, during those times of abandonment: a God consciousness. After all, who could ever be lonely with a companion such as He?

A mother may forget her sucking child; a Demas may forsake us; all may desert us; “[But] He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Note: The above article is dedicated to my daughter Leah, who, many years ago, was deserted, along with her three little boys, but found Isaiah’s words to be true, “Thy Maker is thine husband.”

Friday, December 4, 2009

Global Warming

I am not a meteorologist, environmentalist, or biologist; but I do profess to be a 100% Biblist. And the Word of God tells me in no uncertain terms that as God destroyed His earth in the past by immersing it in water, He will demolish it in the future with a baptism of fire.

To those fickle followers of Christ who like to spiritualize the hard sayings of the Bible, I would remind you that the picture, good or bad, never does justice to the actual. Therefore, if the text is literal, it is going to be very, very bad. But if it is speaking figuratively, it’s going to be even worse than imagined. You choose.

As to the cause and effect of this devastation, the former is due to man’s continual sin against God. Concerning the latter, it’s the results of the Lord’s judgment upon mankind for his incessant rebellion. In the end-time Book of Revelation we’re told of the sun scorching men with great heat, so that they gnaw their tongues in pain and blaspheme the name God, refusing to repent.

But we are also told of a new earth that is awaiting those who bless that Worthy Name. Peter in his second epistle puts it this way, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

For you who have put all your stock in this present earth, I would remind you that your dividends of return will be ashes. I do not want to sound frivolous in making this statement to you who have put your roots deep in this present earth; but there is more truth than fiction in the old song, “There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spiritual Elitism

“When Isaac was old…his eyes were dim…so that he could not see.” To my knowledge Isaac is the only one of whom it is said, “he sowed in the land, and received…an hundredfold.” This son of Abraham was also a beautiful type of Christ in several particulars, one being His death and resurrection. Yet, this Christ-likeness did not exempt him from those infirmities that come with age. And no matter how godly you and I may be, neither will it us.

Many Christians possess a kind of unspoken philosophy, believing that if they live for God the physical maladies of this life will not come nigh them. But nothing is further from the truth. Being a member of the fallen Adamic race carries with it all the frailties associated therewith. As I’ve stated in numerous articles, “You cannot escape your humanity!”

There does not have to be a spiritual reason for everything that touches our physical lives. Some things are just a part of our pilgrimage here on earth; they come to all alike, in one form or another. There is no such thing as a “Spiritual Elite,” who are spared these dreaded woes. Hide behind a monastery wall, flee to a beautiful island, but you’ll find all the things you were running from beat you there, awaiting your arrival.

And so, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? Simple, we need to come down from our lofty cloud, lay aside our white robe, along with our halo and harp, and join the band of the commoners. When our Lord took upon Himself our form, He also took what went with it: weariness, hunger and thirst, pain and suffering. And you can be sure of this, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Accepting the fact that one is human answers a lot of our unanswered questions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So You Believe, Do You?

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” What a shock it must have been for those early believers, as it is for many today, to find out that the devil has faith. He is orthodox, in that he believes in the unity of God. He can stand alongside of many in churches and repeat their creed: “I believe in the one, true God.” If that’s all one has, then you cannot distinguish them from the devil. To be content with this kind of faith is to be condemned.

It is not a professing faith, but a faith that produces good works that God recognizes. If a person has only a faith without works, he is no better than the devil. The devils know there is one God, but there is no personal relationship with Him. “...what have we to do with thee...I know who thou art, the Holy One of God.” There are no atheists among the devil’s crowd. Those only exist among us mortals.

A mere intellectual assent is a vanity faith—it’s cosmetic. You can have an intellectual faith (the devils believe) and a faith that moves the emotions (they tremble), but only that faith that brings a change of life and good works, counts with God. It’s not talkin’ it that counts, but walkin’ it.

A naked profession of faith is no better than a verbal charity! (Thomas Manton)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Great Escape

“I will disguise myself...” The person who said this did not want others to recognize him for who he was. How many of us are like this. We spend our lives running from reality. Because we are not comfortable in our own skins, we try to incarnate ourselves in another’s, trying to be someone we are not.

My elder son, Andrew, made a statement to me some time ago that I thought was profound. He said, “Dad, most Christians are trying to run away from their humanity.” Strange, that our Lord took upon Him the form of humanity, while we are trying to deny ours. We cannot escape the fact that we belong to the human race. We Christians—like it or not; admit it or not—have all the faults, frailties, failings, and feelings of the common man. The one main difference is that the Christian has God to sustain and help him.

It is not the super-human Christian, but the sincere-human Christian that impresses humanity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Selective Hearing

A.W. Tozer has an article entitled, “Listen To the Man Who Listens To God.” This is difficult for today’s carnal culture that puts so much emphasis on the external “earthen vessel,” rather than the “treasure” within it. We like to pick and choose the pitcher we drink from. "The fine china, if you please, not that old chipped stuff!"

Concerning the building of the Temple, David told his young son, Solomon, that God’s Word came to him explaining why Solomon would build it and not David himself. But when you check the reference, you’ll find that it was the prophet Nathan God used to relay His message to the King. It was the lesser, as the old-timers used to say, telling "his betters” what he was to do. It was a plain prophet who instructed “the man after God’s own heart.” From this we learn, King David considered no one beneath him! He was a good listener, whoever was speaking for God.

It was because, no doubt, Paul’s “bodily presence [was] weak” and “his speech contemptible” that many of the carnal Christians at Corinth chose to listen to eloquent Apollos over Paul. In Acts chapter twenty-seven, Paul warns the ship's builder and master of impending danger, but he would not heed his words. The experts were listened to over Paul, and this to their own peril. Later, in the midst of a terrible storm, the old preacher said to them, “Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me.” Paul was one of those people we dislike immensely, one who reminded them, “I told you so.”

God sometimes uses strange instruments to speak to His people. Ask Balaam!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Prodigal's Brother's Problem

The Prodigal’s brother’s problem can be ours, if we’re not careful. He majored on what his brother was in the past, rather than accepting who he was in the present. Paul admonishes us to “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” And one of the things we’re to emulate is the Lord’s not concerning Himself with a person's past, but seeing each individual in their present condition.

Contrary to some teaching, there is no “eternity past,” or “eternity future.” All there is is the eternal present. We are prone to live in time past, or its future; but God lives in the eternal present. We are told, “God is.” And as to faith, the scripture says, Now faith.” The Great “I Am,” is not, was, or will be. Therefore, all God’s dealings with mankind and the world in which he lives, is in the eternal present.

And so we see God accepts and deals with His children in their present condition, whatever that state may be good or bad. He will not condemn one who has made a mess of his or her past, who is now living for Him. On the other hand, neither will he commend any for past achievements and allow their present life, if not God-honoring, to slide by unnoticed, and not dealt with.

God concerns Himself with, not what we were; but who we are now!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Short Memories

We all have short memories; we’re like Israel of old of whom it is recorded, “They soon forgat…” Samuel Johnson said, “We need to be reminded more often than we need to be instructed.” Most certainly, it’s wrong to remember those things in the past that stop us in our tracks; but it is right to be reminded of those things that keep us going forward.

Peter, writing to the scattered saints in various places, tells them the purpose of his second letter to them. It was to remind them of some important principles they had learned in their past. He, unlike many teachers today, did not have some new truth for their present condition. His death was imminent, and he wanted to stir up memories of some old fundamental truths they’d learned.

We need to be reminded from time to time what life is all about. The world has a low view of life. Their interest is only in politics, the economy, social conditions, etc. That God has a plan for every life never enters their mind. To them, life is all about pleasure: eating, drinking, and making merry. They forget this world is an Inn where we spend a night before moving on.

Happy is the man or woman that has yielded his or her life to their Maker. And who is fulfilling His plan for them on this earth. Any life that is not glorifying God in all that they do is not living; their only existing. There is an old classic movie entitled, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And it is, for those of us who breathe only for Him!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crediting the Creditors

Though the old saying, “Giving credit, where credit is due,” is not spelled out in the Bible, its principle is. One such deserving people are those who give the credit, just not those who receive it. We need to give some credit to the creditors.

It seems exalting oneself at another’s expense is the vogue thing today. It takes real heart-felt humility to put the spot-light on someone else and off of us. Pride loves to parade itself as if it were the only one in the marching procession. We like all eyes to be upon us.

The next time someone gives you credit for something, take a minute to appreciate the humility it took to sincerely do so. It’s an easy thing to take credit, to be on the receiving end, but not always easy to give it. Many times it’s a thankless endeavor!

I love the way the translators of the K.J.V puts it in their dedicatory, concerning those who are “eaten-up," so to speak, with themselves. They’re described as, “…self-conceited Brethren who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil.”

When credit is due another, pay what is owed them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

*High-Souled

James Stalker, in his book, The Life of Christ, refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “High-Souled.” Celestial air is too thin for worldlings; they pass out. On the other hand, this earth’s atmosphere will cause those who are high-born to faint. This is why no child of God should be anchored to this world. The golden rule for overcoming temptation is going higher. Snakes pass out at high altitudes. We should always keep our souls in an elevated mood.

When a Child of God takes his or her place, by faith, in the Heavenlies with Christ, far above all principalities and powers, it is then the magnetic pull of this world loses its draw. The world’s invitation to the saint has always been, “Come down.” God’s has forever been, “Come up hither.” Let us join Caleb’s Clan, by following his challenge, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”

Nothing is more contrary to a heavenly hope than an earthly heart. (William Gurnall)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fiddles

One of the definitions of the word fiddle is, “to tinker with nervously.” I remember a story told about the late Dr. Bob Jones Sr. sitting in a vesper service at the school. It seems a young lady had spent some time on stage tuning her violin before bringing a special presentation. Dr. Bob was known to be a very impatient man. He believed, as they say in “getting the show on the road.” After the service the old Christian philosopher told his son, then president of the university, “The next time that little girl plays; tell her I want her to come out of the wings fiddlin’.”



It is said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” I’m afraid this is true of many of God’s children today; their just fiddlin’ around. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, while we are debating nonsensical issues, jockeying for positions, exalting ourselves at other’s expense, and living only for ourselves. It’s time we stopped our tinkering and got down to business. We need to fiddle, not fiddle around! To any who might think this is not an important issue I say, “Fiddlesticks,” (you look up the meaning).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hunky-Dory

Life is not all fun and games. It’s difficult for some Christians to accept this. That is, the fact that God’s predestined plan for them involves perplexing problems. Joseph found this out. God stripped away all his comforts to give him sinew of soul. The little eaglets would never fly if their parents didn’t make the nest disagreeable. But by doing so, they’re able soar to heights where it seems the air is almost celestial.

Joseph’s dire circumstances did not bring him to the low level of blaming the One who designed them, nor was he bitter toward those who were used to fulfill them. He saw God behind it all, and like his Lord, forgave those who were the instruments of cruelty. Unless one has a good, firm hold on Romans 8:28, he or she will inevitably go through life blaming either God or others, for his or her situation. Such a broken record is difficult to listen to. They are caught in a groove, and the repetition is monotonous.

Though some abuse it, and others misunderstand it, to believe and rest in the Sovereignty of God is the most blissful place on earth to pillow one’s weary head. It is only when we learn to do this that everything becomes hunky-dory. The word means, perfectly satisfied!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inside-Out Thinking

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Psychology of Routine

A young man once made the statement to Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher that nothing ever happened when he preached. Spurgeon asked, “You don’t expect something to happen every time, do you?” To which the younger replied, “Well, I guess not every time.” Spurgeon smiled and said, “That’s your problem, you don’t expect it.”

I can truthfully say before God that in more than 50 years of ministering the Word of God, I cannot remember a time that I didn’t expect the Lord to bless in some way. We have come to accept the usual. We are accustomed to the customary. Somewhere in the past we sentenced ourselves to the dungeon of religious routine. We no longer expect the unexpected. We have become “minor prophets”; we can predict next Sunday’s service with acute accuracy.

When I was a pastor a lady once said to me, “I don’t like to be gone on Sundays, I’m afraid I’ll miss something.” Christians have every right to expect God to do something on their behalf, if He promised it in His Word! David said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” And his son Solomon added, “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.”

No child of God who possesses and holds firm to a Divine Expectation, will ever be disappointed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Favorite Poem

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith and love and every grace Might more of His salvation know And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray And He I trust has answered prayer But it has been in such a way As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour At once He'd answer my request And by His love's constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death? "Tis in this way" The Lord replied "I answer prayer for grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me, That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

(John Newton)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Glorifying God

The man Christ Jesus spent the whole of His earthly life (brief but full) glorifying God. But glorifying God to Him meant it would be at His own personal expense. I’m sure it never crossed His mind it could be done without paying a dear price.

And He never shirked from anteing up, though it ultimately cost Him everything. He emptied Himself that God might be glorified. Truly He was the fulfillment of the drink offering of the Old Testament, pouring Himself out to Jehovah. There was not a drop left that wasn’t offered up to God. “He… poured out His soul unto death.”

The greatest prayer a saint will ever pray is, “God glorify thyself, and do it at my expense.” But before you do, sit down first and count the cost.

To glorify God is to make Him look good!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Word to the Intelligentsia

I personally do not know of anything more magnetic in the academic world than intellectual simplicity. This, no doubt, is what Paul was referring to when he warned the learned Corinthians of not forgetting the simplicity that is in Christ. Just because a great book on higher learning is on the bottom shelf, doesn’t make it any less so. One advantage of having the cookies on the lower shelf is that everyone can enjoy them, just not the “big people.”

I like to think of the intellect as the capacity to hold knowledge, and wisdom as enabling one to dispense it. Or to put it another way, intellect is the bucket, knowledge the fluid poured in, and wisdom the dipper that distributes it.

Though Jesus’ intellect was fathomless, and His knowledge endless, when He disbursed truth to the people, it was ordinary, familiar words He used. The greatest sermon ever preached was the Sermon on the Mount. Notice He used a simple dipper that they were all accustomed to, in satisfying their thirsty souls. Is it any wonder we are told, “…the common people heard Him gladly?”

Character is higher than intellect. ~Ralph

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking the High Ground

When Joshua was in the valley fighting, Moses was on high ground praying for him. And when the disciples were in the midst of a raging storm on the sea, Jesus was on high praying for them. Any informed military man knows, in a battle with your enemy it is to your advantage to take the high ground.

Though a child of God stands on the earth, he is seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Practically speaking we’re here; but positionally, we are there. When dealing with Spiritual matters, it is always to be done from the standpoint of the latter. Too many Christians live under the circumstances, not realizing God has placed us “far above” them.

Whenever crises arise in our lives we are to take a birds-eye-view of them. We’re to look at each predicament through a telescope, not a microscope. If you do the latter you will be so close to the trees you’ll not be able to see the forest. Remember, God carried old John “to a great and high mountain” so he could see the over-all picture.

To look at everything that transpires in our lives from God’s perspective brings it into the right perspective! And we can only do this when we obey His voice to “come up hither.” Once you have by faith appropriated the truth of being seated with Him in the heavenlies, you’re there! Never forget, Satan hates “higher-up" Christians.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daily Dependence

There are few things in the Christian life that are once-for-all settled. Certainly our salvation tops the list in this brief category (Heb.10:10). But most things are on-going. For example, we are told God gives out His benefits on a daily basis. Israel found they were to be daily dependent during their forty year pilgrimage in the desert.

God has arranged things so that the Christian’s life is to be lived in perpetual day by day reliance upon His faithfulness. Thus He keeps our lives from becoming boring and matter-of-fact. For, says He, “Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

It’s assuring to know He’s planned ahead for each new day. And exciting to anticipate what new things He has in store for us on any given day. David knew his days were in Deity’s hands, and so he penned, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had been done. (C.S. Lewis)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Finding Your Niche

The word “niche” comes from the French, “to nest.’” Some of its definitions are: a recess in a wall; a cranny, or hollow place, as in a rock. But the meaning I want to apply to each of us is this: “a position well suited to a person who occupies it”. I find many today, both young and old, who have never found their niche in life. And if they have, many are not content with it, for one reason or the other.

Happy is the man or woman who has found their God-ordained vocation. And happier are they who do not try to fit everyone else into it! It’s a great injustice to others to put them on a guilt trip for not having the same zeal, vision, and burden as you do for your individual calling. To do so, spreads others so thin that they lose their own particular savor, thus leaving their talent tasteless.

It’s impossible to get personally involved in every ministry, regardless of how scriptural it may be. To support every worthy cause would leave one a pauper; and to pray for each of them, well, there are not enough hours in a day. This is why it is so important to get God’s direction before getting involved in any of the many honorable causes in Christianity today. We are not to let our emotions, affections, or reason determine our involvement, but “the still, small voice” of God.

Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach the Word but was “…forbidden of the Holy Ghost.” Then he attempted to go to a place called Bithynia, “…but the Spirit suffered them not.” After this, in a night vision, the words came distinctly to him, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” It seems we all must come to the end of our own human reasoning and night fall upon us, before we find our niche in this life.

If ‘niche’ means ‘nest,’ let us be happy in the one God made just for us.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Legacy of a Godly Example

The movie, “City by the Sea,” is about the Castro Revolution and how it affected one Cuban family. Andy Garcia, himself of Cuban descent, both directed and starred in it. There is a scene toward the end where Garcia’s character is leaving for America. In it, his once well-to-do, but now weak and aged father, says to him, “I have left you so little my son.” To which Garcia makes this great and profound statement, “How can you say that? You left me the wealth of your example.”

Interestingly, before Jesus went away, He said to His children, “I have given you an example.” And they were the richer for it! Will we be able to say this to our children before leaving this world? Will we leave them the wealth of our example?

My oldest daughter Leah wrote a song years ago, entitled, A Goodly Heritage.

I may not have riches as some others may,
But I have a mother who knows how to pray;
And maybe there are some things I missed in my youth,
But I have a father who stands for the truth.

And if in the future my parents pass on,
To dwell in that city we’ve come to call home;
They may not leave me the goods of this world,
But I will inherit their God and His Word!

I have a goodly heritage;
I’m blessed with things you don’t see.
I have a goodly heritage,
And that is worth far more to me.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good without God

It seems to me, in the controversial passage of Romans chapter seven, verses fifteen through twenty-five that we have a sinful man (vv.17, 20, 23) trying to be a good man (vv.19,21) without the God Man (v.25).

C.S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” Paul found you can’t bypass God, trying to be good. Our Lord said as much when He said, “…there is none good but one, that is, God.” Therefore, the only way for a man to be truly good, is to get God into him!

One of Satan’s main goals in the Fall was to tempt man to side-step God, and exchange Him for good alone. You can be good without God; but only in the world’s estimation! It is not good enough for it to be said of a man, “He’s a good man.” But, like Barnabas, of old, “He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost.”

A Godly saint trumps a good sinner every time

Friday, October 30, 2009

*Do What You Can

“She hath done what she could,” Notice, Jesus didn’t say she did more than she could. You can only do what you can do. My wife used to sing a song entitled, Do What You Can Where You Are. I find only frustration awaits we who attempt to add to our God given abilities. The Bible way is, “Every man according to his ability.” This is true in every area of our Christian life!

It’s apparent that Paul knew the danger in taking more upon ourselves than God intended, when he said, “We stretch not ourselves beyond our measure.” Taking added responsibility in our life may seem commendable, but it just might end up being our undoing. It could be “the straw that breaks the camels back.”

To keep God’s people from worship and fellowship, the Devil’s Pharaoh will always come up with, “Let more work be laid upon [them].” Not only should you not add self-imposed burdens to your life, but you should not allow anyone else to; no matter who that person may be. To yourself, and others, you must learn to give a good, firm, “No”! God does not put upon us more than we can bear; neither should we!

Duties never conflict. (Bob Jones Sr.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

*Same-Alikes

When my youngest daughter, Charity, was small and would see things that matched, she would say, “They are same-alikes.” Well, the only thing God’s children are alike in is their principles. We all received a Divine disposition at the time of our Spiritual birth. This is true Christ-likeness. Other than this, we are like snowflakes or fingerprints; the Bible uses the stars to show our diversities.

This individuality necessitates our Heavenly Father, like any wise earthly one, to deal with each of His children accordingly. The Scriptures teach both general truths and specific; and so it is with God’s dealings with His “Little Ones.” For example, generally speaking, “Nothing is impossible with God.” But, specifically we’re told, “It is impossible for God to lie.” This principle also holds true in the Lord dealing with each of His Elect; that is, in a general and specific sense.

There are the general Commandments (ten) addressed to all the saints, but there are also specific commands given to individual Believer’s at different times and in various situations, as they go through life. This is one of the great dangers in taking biographies too seriously and trying to emulate the character written about. Let me illustrate. C.S. Lewis’ prayer-life consisted in request and committal; while Hudson Taylor’s was in claiming and getting things from God. Which was right? Who was most Spiritual? Both! This truth is found in Hebrews chapter eleven, where we find the dividing line in such lives is found in the words, “And others…”
Let God be as original with others as He is with you! (Oswald Chambers)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

*Tempting Temperaments

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Paul said it, but Peter could say “Amen” to this text. He did not know that the devil would use his natural Sanguine temperament to get him to fall. No wonder he wrote in his first Epistle “Arm yourselves.” Or as the adage goes, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Satan does not know our thoughts, but he does observe our natural temperament and tempts us accordingly. He does not tempt us contrary to our constitution. Whatever way the tide of the heart moves, the wind of temptation blows the same. The old farmer knows what grain is best for the soil. Whenever the devil baits his hook, it is always with something that fits our natural taste.

The devil shapes himself to the fashions of all men. If he meet
with a proud man, or a prodigal man, then he makes himself a
flatterer, if a covetous man, then he comes with a reward in his
hand. He hath an apple for Eve, a grape for Noah, a change
of raiment for Gahazi, a bag for Judas. He can dish out his
meat for all palates. He hath a latch to fit every shoe; he hath
something to please all conditions.
(Puritan Saying)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Benefits without Baggage

We are told that God “…daily loadeth us with benefits.” But some cannot enjoy these blessings for the excess baggage they carry. It is not the weight of His benefits that causes us to cave in, but the extra baggage we lug around. There’s a reason they call it luggage!

God gave us richly all things to enjoy, but all of us do not enjoy everything. The “all things” is up to one’s individual liking. A smorgasbord is for everyone, but the choice is according to each one’s taste. Not everybody likes broccoli, but it’s there for the ones who do.

Every Christian needs to read Romans chapter fourteen on a regular basis. This chapter should be mastered by all believers. Without a doubt, it would do away with the greatest part of the dissentions that are so prevalent among God’s people today.

The overall teaching of the chapter is that some cannot, while others can. If what we do cannot be done in good faith, then we are not to do it. If we do, there will be a continual nagging of conscience. If the head says yes, and the heart no, you will be wise to cease from it. You need these two witnesses to agree to the truth, if you’re to be established.

“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” There may be nothing wrong with your baggage, but there is if it keeps you from getting to where you want to go.

Friday, October 23, 2009

*Clothes Do Not Make the Person

God is not deceived by externals. It is only we who are impressed and taken in by them. We have a difficult time looking past the outer. Pharisaical movements and people, like the world, major on what a person does rather than who they are. What you look like, and do, are more important than what it is that motivates you. They think more of decorum than devotion. The inner robe of righteousness is passed over for the etiquette of ritualism.

Phariseeism loves public street corners where it can be seen of men, while true godliness longs for the inner chamber, where only God seeth in secret. The Pharisee wants to be called, “Rabbi, Rabbi,” by the people, rather than hear the Father say, “My son.” The pathway between the externalist and communion with God is grown over with grass; but the path between him and the praise of men is well trodden.

God’s way is always, “first that which is within.” Both Ezra and Nehemiah, when rebuilding the temple, began with the altar, and inner things. The outer always came last. If they had neglected the most important part, they would have been left with a monstrosity—yes, a beautiful temple for all to look upon and admire, but only a shell with no substance within, nothing that would attract God to it.

It is interesting that Jesus never once called attention to the externals, other than those in the lives of the Pharisees. We had better start concerning ourselves with what Jesus was concerned with: the heart, the inner man, the spirit within.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quibbling Over Quotes

A few months ago, I quoted in an article some cowboy sayings from a book I received as a Christmas gift. One of the one-liners contained the word “damn,” at which a young preacher took offence. You have to wonder what one does when reading in God’s “R” rated Book, the Bible, such words as, “whore,” “pisseth,” and “bastard.” And what about those sexy scenes in Song of Solomon, along with depictions of vivid violence as found in the A.V.1611, that leaves nothing to imagination? I guess they go to one of the many watered-down, tickling translations, which offend none of the thin-skinned saints.

When scriptures quote the devil, it neither commends him, nor agrees with what he said. On the other hand, when the Apostle Paul quotes one of the secular poets of his day, though not promoting the man, yet he does agree with what he says (Acts 17). And in Titus chapter one he quotes a false prophet, and goes so far as to say of one of his statements, “this witness is true.” Jesus was constantly quoting those with whom he did not agree. But he never “threw the baby out with the wash,” so to speak. On one occasion, He told His followers to do what the Pharisees said, but not to do what they did (Matt.23:3).

Quibblers are always looking through the wrong end of the telescope; they never see the big picture.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

*The Chamber of Our Mind

The Bible teaches a Christian can be either carnally or spiritually minded; the choice is theirs to make. I wonder if many of us prefer to think carnally, while trying to live spiritually. Or at least what passes off as being spiritual to our peers. It is important to this type person, what the brethren think of them, but they seem to care little of God’s estimation.

This brand of professing Christian doesn’t do what the world does; they just like to think about doing what the world does. We hear much about the sin of omission and commission, but what of the sin of intent. We commit this act because we like to think it is not a sin. But I’d venture to say this spiritual sin is one of the worst kinds of sin. Jesus said it is possible to be a murderer and adulterer without ever actually committing the act.

George McDonald says, “If we are to get rid of those things that defile us, we must go inside ourselves, be a convict, and scrub the floor of our cell.” I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for a scrub brush and mop!

Monday, October 19, 2009

*Temperaments Out of Control

The ever present danger in the Christian’s life is accepting and substituting the good for the best. It is possible for good to be the enemy of the best. Eve put good before God. The natural is not spiritual; the former mocks the latter, as Ishmael did Isaac. Natural temperament can bestow all its goods to feed the poor, and even give its body to be burned at the stake; yet be void of spirituality. The natural can never receive the things of the Spirit of God, no matter how well it passes itself off as being good.

The great peril of “natural niceties” is that one ends up thinking, “I…have need of nothing.” It will leave Christ on the doorstep of your life. Let us beware of flaunting our natural gifts as spiritual. C. S. Lewis writes, “The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.”

A naturally nice temperament is as corrupt and vile in God’s sight as a loathsome one, if it has not been crucified. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of not going to the funeral of your own independence.” Our natural only becomes divinely acceptable, when it is under the supernatural control of God.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

After the Miracle, the Means

“And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.” Once Jesus performs the supernatural in our lives, He expects us to use the natural. After the miracle, the means. True, the Lord will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but never will He do that which we can do. “[God] wilt make all his bed in his sickness”; but don’t look for Him to straighten the sheets once you’re up-and-around. Then you can make your own bed! God raised Jesus, but He folded His own grave clothes.

After the mountain is removed and drowning in the sea, we’re not to stand idle. As the old song goes, “These shoes were made for walkin.” When God did His part at the Red Sea, He told Moses to “get a move on,” that is to say, “go forward.” Far too many of God’s people are waiting for a miracle, while God is waiting for them to use the means He has put at their disposal. No one in the Bible had a miracle performed on his or her behalf, who was sitting around looking for one.

We are to use God-given means up to, and immediately following, the miracle. Miracles are the exceptions; means are the rule of life. Always be thinking about what you can do in hard situations; then when you come to the end of yourself, God will take up the problem. God still gets glory when we use our sanctified brain to get out of a mess, just as long as we realize that it is He who initiated the idea (Phil.3:12-13). We need to follow my wife’s favorite cartoon character’s advice, “Think, Think, Think,” says Winnie the Pooh.

Remember, it was Sovereignty that devised the means.

Friday, October 16, 2009

*Dusty Saints

“I exalted thee out of the dust.” What would be your first thought if you saw a frog sitting on 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 our lives, from birth to death. Even when one manipulates and schemes to obtain things, or to get to the top, as Baasha, God is permitting it. For, 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.

Let me quote two Old Testament saints who understood this truth. Humble Hannah said, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly…He raiseth up the poor out of the dust…to make them inherit glory.” And darling David penned, “He putteth down one, and raiseth up another.” Is it any wonder the apostle Paul testified, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

To forget where you came from is to end up there again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

*Loyalty to Jesus Christ

For over half a century my loyalty has been, is, and ever will be, first and foremost, to the person of Jesus Christ; all other relationships dwarf in comparison. In fact, looking from their perspective, one might surmise He is my one and only love. That all others, no matter how near and dear have to play “second fiddle” to Him, so to speak. I unashamedly confess this assessment as being one-hundred-percent true. I’m gloriously guilty as charged!

Almost as soon as the umbilical cord was cut in my New Birth, I read of the martyrdom of Polycarp. As a result, I promised Jesus Christ at the altar of devotion that I would forsake all others, to keep myself only unto him as long as I shall live? Many of my loved ones and friends through the years decided to live their lives without Christ; that has painfully necessitated me living my life without them!

The Martyrdom of Polycarp
Polycarp, disciple of the Apostle John, and Bishop of Smyrna, A.D. 156.
for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?

The proconsul asked him if he were Polycarp.

When he assented, the former counseled him to deny Christ, saying, "Consider thyself, and have pity on thy own great age;" and many other such-like speeches which they are wont to make.

The proconsul then urged him, saying, "Swear and I will release thee; - reproach Christ."

Polycarp answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?"

The proconsul again urged him, "Swear by the fortune of Caesar."

Polycarp replied, "Since you still vainly strive to make me swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you express it, affecting ignorance of my real character, hear me frankly declaring what I am -- I am a Christian - and if you desire to learn the Christian doctrine, assign me a day, and you shall hear."

Hereupon the proconsul said, "I have wild beasts; and I will expose you to them, unless you repent."

"Call for them," replied Polycarp.

"I will tame thee with fire," said the proconsul, "since you despise the wild beasts, unless you repent."

Then said Polycarp, "You threaten me with fire, which burns for an hour, and is soon extinguished; but the fire of the future judgment, and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly, you are ignorant of. But why do you delay? Do whatever you please."

The proconsul sent the herald to proclaim thrice in the middle of the Stadium, "Polycarp hath professed himself a Christian."

Which words were no sooner spoken, but the whole multitude, both of Gentiles and Jews, dwelling at Smyrna, with outrageous fury shouted aloud, "This is the doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the subverter of our gods, who hath taught many not to sacrifice nor adore."

They now called on Philip the Asiarch, to let loose a lion against Polycarp. But he refused, alleging that he had closed his exhibition. They then unanimously shouted, that he should be burnt alive. For his vision must needs be accomplished - the vision which he had when he was praying, and saw his pillow burnt. The people immediately gathered wood and other dry matter from the workshops and baths.

When they would have fastened him to the stake, he said, "Leave me as I am; for he who giveth me strength to sustain the fire, will enable me also, without your securing me with nails, to remain without flinching in the pile."

Upon which they bound him without nailing him. So he said thus: - "O Father, I bless thee that thou hast counted me worthy to receive my portion among the martyrs."

As soon as he had uttered the word "Amen," the officers lighted the fire. The flame, forming the appearance of an arch, as the sail of a vessel filled with wind, surrounded, as with a wall, the body of the martyr; which was in the midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver refining in the furnace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Manhood of Elijah

The Bible tells us, “Elijah was a man...” In today’s society, there is a great emphasis on certain forms of life becoming extinct. One particular species that falls under this category is a real man; he is a rare breed. There seems to be few who care that he is passing off the scene. I remember, as a boy, coming from a broken home, and having no masculine example to follow. Yet, in spite of this, my greatest desire was to be a man’s man. This desire has never left me throughout the years. Just because one is a male does not necessarily make him a man. Nor does being a Christian guarantee it.

What is a man? It’s neither brawn nor brains. They come in all different sizes and vary in intellect. But all have one characteristic that marks them: in any situation that arises in life, you can always depend on him to do what needs to be done, on the basis that it simply needs to be done. It matters not to him that his personal safety, comfort, and reputation may be in jeopardy.

He is not without shortcomings. All are aware of them. He doesn’t put cosmetics on his blemishes. What you see is what you get. But of one thing you can be sure; when he faces his Goliath’s in life, He will not run from them, for he doesn’t know how to retreat. His inbred principles will not allow him to flee from his responsibilities. His principles are not negotiable; they are unchangeable. They are not open for debate. To the Christian man, they are eternal principles.

*No Fool's Paradise

“Experience is the best teacher.” I’ve heard that from childhood. I don’t believe it. Instruction is the best teacher. But, admittedly, experience comes in a close second. Most of us refuse the best way and choose to learn the hard way. It’s important to realize experience is not out to deceive us; it’s out to teach us. If we do not learn from bad experiences, we are destined to repeat them.

We are to live and learn. Not to learn is a miserable way to live. To play the fool once is understandable. To do it a second time is inexcusable. To this type of person, you can justifiably attach the adage, “There’s no fool like an old fool.” Or, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Let’s stop playing the fool.

Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools. ~Irish Proverb

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

*Fusing

"Doing the will of God from the heart." Knowing the will of God has to do with the head; doing the will of God, with the heart. The former is a must, and has to do with the intellectual; but the latter is just as important, dealing with the emotional. The heart is where the fire lies; therefore the will of God is to be done with fervency.

Paul said, "For if I do this thing willingly…but if against my will…" The will of God is not to be done grudgingly, but delightfully. Jesus said, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." They did not have to drag Him to the Cross. The will of God is always more than we bargained for. Therefore, we need to cease our bartering with God. Jacob would be the first to tell you it doesn't work.

When the head and the heart fuse together, you have a completed Christian.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

*A.W. Tozer, the Devil, and Us

For those who may not know, A.W. Tozer was one of the greatest devotional writers of the 20th Century, and in some minds, among the grandest in the Church’s history. He met the devil head-on at every turn in life. And as a result, to quote his own words, “…that doesn’t make a man easy to live with.” Speaking to God’s people, he went on to say, “It is a delightful thing when you know that you are close enough to the adversary that you can hear him roar! Too many Christians never get into ‘lion country at all.”

I have found run-of-the-mill Christians never get into the arena with this fiercest of all God’s creatures. Their only boast is that they have put some tamed baby kitten to scrambling from them for fear. But to say they have resisted “The Big Cat,” and put him on the run, in this they’re embarrassingly mute. One can only conclude the reason for this is because they’re going the same way; and it’s improbable that you will run into someone, unless you’re coming from opposite directions.

To Satan, those early Christians were delicious “cat food.” Today’s professors are disgustingly tasteless to him; they have lost their savor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

*Vanity Fair

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Does Ecclesiastes teach life is not worth living—that all of life is gloom? Yes, if you mean living it apart from God. Ecclesiastes is about the everyday world outside of Christianity. Man, in his natural state can never be satisfied. Saint Augustine had it right when he said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.”

Putting God in every situation and circumstance is what transforms life from drudgery to delight. Work, play, studies, and social responsibilities all take on a new light when the Creator is put before His creation and creatures. Those who subtract God from their lives are full of pessimism and skepticism. They are a sad lot, not a happy one.

Ecclesiastes exposes the emptiness and shallowness of the world. It weans us from the love of the world by showing us that all the world’s wisdom, wealth and ways are vanity. This little book is a Divine commentary of Jesus’ words, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.”

The only way the world can fill the Christian’s heart is to evict God from it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

*No Private Corners

Adam had a level playing field before the Fall. But afterward, it was not so. Since then, mankind, like children trying to climb a muddy hill, keeps slipping, sliding, and falling. And by no means is this voided by becoming a Christian, for we still retain the Adamic nature. True, we have the Spirit’s indwelling to enable us, but Jesus reminded the disciples that though the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. A strong faith must still contend with a weak flesh. Ask Abraham, who was strong in the faith, but weak in the flesh.

Adam’s fall was the result of wanting to live independent of God, and that is why we believers, like the children mentioned above, slip, slide, and fall. And when doing so, we recreate Adam’s fall. Lets face it; no sooner are we out of bed, and having recognized God’s rights to our lives ,we take them back again before we reach the breakfast table. We dethrone Him and replace our self-will. We have forgotten our place. It’s at the foot of the throne, kneeling. Not sitting on it, ruling.

We are told in the Scriptures that “…ye are not your own.” There is no area of our lives that we can say to God, “This is my little corner; stay out of it.” Why? Because the four corners of the earth are His, and so is every corner of our lives.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beware of the Middle Person

Those who use the acrostic, Jesus-Others-You as the true formula for joy, seem to always emphasize the last on the list as the greatest hinderer. But to touch the middle portion is a no-no. If one lives for self it is considered appalling; but if for others, there is applauding. The worldly philanthropist lives his life for others, but God receives no glory. Putting others first is no recipe for joy. You can be as miserable doing this as those are who live for themselves; ask any policeman, fireman, or doctor.

You will never get into hot water with the brethren for glorifying God, but you sure will by glorifying Him at others’ expense. To this day, Jesus is misunderstood by Christians who possess a humanistic spirit; and it is for something He said along this very line. Our Lord told His disciples that their love for him should so surpass their love for others, even their own, that it would look like hate in comparison. True, the two great commandments are to love God and others. But if we put the latter before the former, we wind up in the humanist camp, rubbing shoulders with them.

The Puritans, like ourselves, had short-comings, but God being supreme was not one of them. Every modern-day Christian should have a few Puritan writers on their bookshelf, which they read after on a regular basis. It will keep you focused, as the saying goes.

The absence of joy in a Christian’s life can usually be traced to someone taking God's place!

Friday, October 2, 2009

*Honorable Men and Women

“Naaman…was…honourable…but he was a leper.” Honor doesn’t negate defects in one’s life. We, like Naaman of old, can also be respected of our Master. In spite of all our shortcomings, we can still be honorable men and women. God knew about our undesirable traits when He saved us, but these did not turn away His love for us. Nor do these defective characteristics turn His head from us now. A marred vessel can be sparkling on the inside.

The greatest legacy we can leave our loved ones and friends is that we were honorable men and women. Beethoven said, “To me the highest thing, after God, is my honor.” Alexander Pope wrote, “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.” And the father of our nation said, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “honest man.”

I for one want to be on God’s honor-roll. I know of no greater epitaph than “He was an honorable man.”

The only garment of clothing a man or woman needs in their wardrobe is “Honor,” it will last them a life-time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Those Confounded Distractions

The word “distract” comes from the Latin and means “to draw apart.” Webster defines it: to draw the mind away in another direction. The world, the flesh, and the devil will go to any extreme if they can divert a child of God’s thoughtfulness away from Christ. And the means used is not always evil and sensual; it can be good and scriptural.

To place one’s attention on the house, rather than the Builder; to be occupied with Moses and Elijah, and not concentrate on the Man in the middle; to be given to constant introspection, and not have Jesus as the center of our lives, can be more effective than all the other toys our devilish distracter dangles before us.

But, at the same time we must beware of placing too much attention on being distracted, lest that becomes the chief distraction. As someone has said “No noise is so emphatic as the one you are trying not to listen to.” We must accept the fact distractions will always be with us in one form or another. They are like the frontage road that runs parallel to the freeway. Though it’s there and you are conscious of it, you need not get sidetracked.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

*Messianic Complex

“I know that [when] Messias cometh...he will tell us all things.” How many of us like to play the part of this Divine Personage. We have the answer for everyone’s problems. We are real problem-solvers. That is, unless it relates to our own lives. If those we try to impress with our deep understanding knew this, they would say to us, “Physician, heal thyself.”
We may act like “miniature messiahs,” but we are, at best, poor replicas. Many times while we are attempting to unscramble eggs, we make a bigger mess. I’m finding the best way to help those who are hurting is simply by listening. I do not want a place among Job’s so-called enlightened friends. I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all to those who are suffering. I’m not a messiah; I’m a man. May God help me to be “swift to hear, and slow to speak.”
It doesn’t matter what the question is; the answer is always Jesus.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

*Our Created God

In the “Seed Book” of the Bible we’re told, “So God created man in his own image.” But in today’s culture we’ve made it to read, “So man created God in his own image.” This is not something new to our age. Way back in the Old Testament God indicts the wicked by saying, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” In spite of being told we are not to make an image of God, we create a mental one.

Invariably, we bring God down to our level. By doing this, we tell ourselves we see everything “eye to eye.” It is easy to fashion God after our natural temperament. For example, to some He is syrupy; others have made Him rigid. We constantly fall into the trap of imagining God responds and reacts as we do. But, says the Lord, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

Once we have created God in our own image, we become the creator, and He our creation. Thus, He becomes subservient to the likes of us. We need to follow Elijah’s admonition to “Let [God] be God.” After all, the only things you and I ever created were messes that He had to clean up in the end!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bastards

One reason for many not caring for the old A.V. 1611 King James Bible, is its crude language…so they say. This was the same argument the people of Paul’s day used against his preaching. But though a perverted world uses such terms as vulgarities, the Bible presents them as descriptive. One modern dictionary gives the following definitions of the word: 1. Born of unwed parents; illegitimate 2. Not genuine. 3. Resembling a known kind or species but not truly such.

The writer of Hebrews tells the professing Christian’s of his day that when they sin, “If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” In this twelfth chapter of the book of Hebrews, Paul goes on to say that such chastening not only proves our relationship to the Lord, but also shows our Father’s love to us, as well as making us partakers of His holiness. Therefore, it is not to be despised, nor should we grow weary when we are taken for a visit to the woodshed.

My mentor and dear friend was a man by the name of Joe Henry Hankins. He was the most compassionate and tender-hearted man I’ve ever known. Once after a sermon on how God spanks his wayward children, he was confronted by a woman who irritatingly told him she was a Christian, but lived like the world, and had never experienced God’s chastening hand upon her life. To which the old evangelist simply turned to our text and let her read it for herself. After reading it, she immediately left the church, telling people the awful name Dr. Hankins had called her; not realizing, as many reading this article, it is not I, but God Himself who calls you by this name.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Living God Out-Loud

I got the idea for our title from an old book in a used-book store I visited recently with my wife. Upon seeing it, my first words were, “How Christians need to follow this advice today.” There are far too many Wooden-Indian Christians running around.

We need a fresh touch from our Lord, that it may be said of us what is recorded of the man in Mark who had an impediment of speech, “And straightway…his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.” You’ll be hard pressed to find any “mute witnesses” in the book of Acts.

Some years ago, we were peddled a teaching referred to as, “Life-style Evangelism.” Most certainly, we should walk what we profess to believe, but let us never forget Jesus taught we’re to talk it also. The advocates of this philosophy argue, “It’s doubtful you’ll win anyone to Christ, until you have first won them to yourself.”

As convincing as this may sound, I’d remind you those primitive witnesses were, for the most part, hated by the ones they spoke to, as well as the Saviour they were presenting. The very meaning of the word “Witness” carries with it the thought of telling something you have experienced first hand.

The early saints were threatened and told to, “Speak henceforth to no man in this name.” It seems most of God’s people today, including preachers, have shirked their Lord’s Commission, under their peer’s intimidations. How can we ever be ashamed of the “Altogether Lovely One,” who was not, and is not, ashamed of the likes of us?


"We ought to obey God rather than men," is good advice in any age.

Friday, September 25, 2009

*My Legacy to My Grandkids

I’ll turn seventy-six the fifteenth of this coming month. I do not know how old I’ll be when I pick-up (not pack-up) my empty suitcase to go home. But I do have one thing I’d like to leave my grandchildren. And that is, the memory that their Papaw never let his spirit get old with his body. I want them to say one to another at family gatherings, “Pap robbed us of enjoying him getting old.”

Caleb has always been my favorite Old Testament character. He soared like an eagle in his youth; he ran without growing weary in mid-life; and when aged, he walked without fainting. In fact, it was in his advanced years he did his greatest work! At eighty-five he was still claiming God’s promises, “Give me this mountain,” says he to his old friend, Joshua. When young, he stood alone; in old-age he climbs alone.

May God help me to die climbing!

The Choice Should Be Yours

A pastor once remarked to me that he had something going on at his church seven days a week. He thought this was something to boast of; I thought it something of the opposite. It seems whenever you find a totalitarian ministry, individuality is sacrificed for conformity. It would seem the Scripture “Christ who is our life,” is substituted, in many instances with “The church is our life.” We are in danger of having a church-centered life rather than having a Christ-centered one. We forget “He that built the house is greater than the house.”

I have known (and do know) churches that demand much, if not all their members’ spare time, leaving them very little for anything else, not even their families. There are ministries that knowingly, or unknowingly, so lock a person in that their choice of associations, and even to their recreation, is controlled by them. In such cases, Lordship has given way to a leader who lords it over God’s heritage. When this happens, individual priesthood also fades.

No believer’s life should be so monopolized by a church (or any organization) that they can’t enjoy friends of their own choosing, go to events of their own choice, and determine before God how to use their spare time. Avenues ought to always be open to explore. When exploration ceases, so does advancement.

I like the way our church does things. Sunday School is selective; worship is collective; and the various ministries and meetings throughout the week (some at church, some in homes) are elective. Your church may do it differently, but make dead certain you have some elbow room. If not, you might as well be in prison, with a warden watching and dictating your every move.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

*The Big Bang Theory

While the world’s heart are failing them for fear, worrying about those things which are coming on the earth, our Lord’s admonition to His people is, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Jesus tells us that there will be wars and rumors of wars till the very end.

Some try to convince us that everything started with a “big bang.” The fact is, Peter tells us in his second Epistle, just the reverse will happen. It’s going to all end with a big bang. There’s much discussion today as to whether Christians will go though a tribulation period, or be kept from it. That’s not the question. The question is, “Are you ready for either?”

I heard an old preacher years ago say that the worse thing that can happen to a Christian is for a bomb to fall on him and blow him into the arms of Jesus. This thought doesn’t disturb “Gutsy Christians”; who, like Paul, can say, “Neither count I my life dear unto myself.” But it sure upsets “Toy Saints” something awful!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Devil's Playground

In Philippians chapter four and 2 Corinthians ten (as well as in many other places), we are taught that a believer has control over his or her mind. We can think good thoughts, and we can also put down the bad ones. As my old Granny used to say, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in it.”

When Jesus defeated the devil at the cross one of the effects was that He stripped our adversary of his armour (Luke11:21-22). Satan’s main weapon and strategy today is to corrupt our minds. He does this by planting an evil seed in it, and then tempting us to cultivate it. During the cold war with Russia a manifesto was found showing ways to defeat the West. The main point of the document was that wars are not mainly won with weapons, but by ideas. Therefore, it concluded, get a person to think your way and you have defeated him or her.

The scripture says, “As a man thinketh…so is he.” We are what we think, and so the battle is for the mind! And remember, the mind affects the body (Hebrews 12:3b). The mind should never be in neutral; it should always be in gear. Again, let me quote my sainted grandmother, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” So don’t put it in park J.

I have a note in the fly-leaf of my Bible which says, what we visualize will materialize. Therefore, if we are not careful, our fantasies will become realities in time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Daily Visits with the Baker

One of our daily duties is to pray. When our Lord taught His early followers to pray, He told them to ask God each day for their daily bread. It goes without saying that He expected them to visit and commune with their Heavenly Baker on a daily basis. I, for one, do not like old, stale bread; I like it fresh, hot out of the oven. When we neglect prayer, we end up eating moldy bread (Josh. 9:12,14).

Many of us feel like Job of old when he asked the question, “What profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” That is, does prayer really work? Does it pay to pray? Well, stop doing it and find out, but it will be to your own detriment if you do. Many do not pray because of the fact they cannot understand it. But we are told to trust God and not lean on our own understanding. It’s, “…by faith we understand."

I find in my own life that when I feel I need prayer least, I need it most. Until a person realizes his or her great need of God, they will not pray. They have a false sense of security, never suspecting they are, “… wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” David was a king, yet when he came before God he always characterized himself as being, “…poor and needy.” He would not have fit with our modern day Laodicean Christians who boast, “I…have need of nothing.”

“One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word.” (Thomas Manton)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Better Trumps Best Every Time

“…go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” The people the writer is addressing had been brought up on an external system of traditional rules, religious regulations, and rigid restrictions. These were preferred before the Altogether Lovely One. External rites are always wrong when chosen over Christ.

Many today are in the same situation as these early Christians. They are associated with a movement or group that started out right, but has now ended up wrong. To turn your back on it and walk away is no easy thing. The loss of lifetime friends, the misunderstanding by loved ones, and the reproach of one’s peers, is a price many are not willing to pay. If others would come along with them, they might be willing, but to go it alone is unthinkable.

The books of Hebrews is about Christ being better; and, believe me, identification with our Lonely Christ is better than association with the popular crowd. God had rejected and abolished their old ceremonial ways and had offered them in its place “a new and living way.” Will you accept it?

Who minds being outside the camp, if you’re inside the veil?

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Greatest Fear of the Flesh

The one great fear of the flesh is it being dragged, kicking and screaming, to the Cross. It will subtly submit to any and all propositions, except taking a trip to Calvary. At the very mention of “The place of the skull,” it shutters and draws back at the thought of climbing that dreaded hill of execution. The flesh seeks to be coddled, not crucified!

But if the child of God is to truly “Belong to Christ,” there must of necessity be such a visit. Paul tells us “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” As the song writer so aptly put it, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, And all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, And there’s a cross for me.”

Agag of old is a type of our flesh, and just as he came to Samuel “delicately,” so our “old man,” as Agag, will daily come to us thinking “the bitterness of death is past.” But we must emulate the old prophet’s actions, if we are to be victorious, “Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord.” There can be no quarter; if you give self an inch, he’ll take a mile. If you really want to please God, then take Sword in hand and start hacking.

“The flesh will brazenly follow its victim into the very sanctuary and kneel along with him while he communes with God” (A.W.Tozer)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Trickle-down Effect

“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” God starts from the top, down, not from the bottom, up. Everything originates with God, and trickles down to us.

For example, we begin with the local church, move on to the Body of Christ, from there to God’s Kingdom, and finally to God Himself. Using this method, most never get past the first or second thing. A few advance to the third, but hardly any ever reach God, the reason being that they stop short, and spend a lifetime enjoying and emphasizing one, or possibly two, of these particular entities.

The mistake lies in the fact that they do not start from God and work down. All these things come out of God. We start at a tributary and never seem to be able to work our way back to the mouth of the river. What we need to do is start with the Origin, and then follows the flow downstream. This, I believe, is common sense. Anything else, to me, is nonsense.

God doesn’t work to the source; He is the Source.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lord Cometh

I have known prophetic Bible teachers so dogmatic about every little detail of Christ’s coming that those who were not of the same mind were treated like dogs! There is never an excuse for being uncharitable to a Christian brother. Great and godly men have differed on minor details throughout the centuries. The early Christians greeted one another with, “Maranatha” (The Lord Cometh). Not how or when He was returning, but the fact of His return. They were not dogged over details of little consequence.

It is possible to lose the blessed of the Blessed Hope. It’s not a rapture we are to look for, but our Redeemer; not a Kingdom, but rather, the King. We are not to be enthralled with an event, but a Person! Much of what is written about the Second Coming today needs to be put in the fiction section of bookstores, not alongside books about facts. To some, prophecy is no more than a novelty.

Many things about prophecy we will not understand until after it comes to pass. Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it come to pass, ye might believe.” The implication is that they would not understand the full significance of foretold things until they were fulfilled. Hindsight, if you please.

Maranatha!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

*That's Life.

A country singer was listening to a friend complain about all the various difficulties that were transpiring in his life at that particular time: marital problems, wayward children, health, finances, etc. To which the country boy replied, “My daddy used to say, 'Sounds a lot like life to me.'” Thus, a song was born.


Some poor souls never come to the realization that “Life is not a bed of roses.” Life consists of bittersweet experiences which balance out one another. And without the former, we’d not appreciate the latter. None who belong to Adam’s clan are exempt from this roller-coaster ride of life. Whether rich and powerful or poor and beggarly, all are allotted their ups and downs.

The one great difference between the world and the Christian is, the world has its “Ups and downs,” while God’s people have their, “Downs and ups.” The first will invariably end wrong-side up, while the other always ends right-side up. This undoubtedly is what David was referring to when he wrote, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising.” Be assured, God’s elect will stand upright, after being down.

It’s a wonderful life, if Christ is your life. (Col.3:4,a)

*Upon Whom Do You Lean?

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” We can’t have it both ways. We either lean on Jesus, like John of old, asking our questions; or trust in the bruised reed of our own understanding. Our wisdom must be relinquished, and be replaced by His. This does not mean we turn-off our own brain, ignoring our God-given intellect; but it does mean we sanctify (set apart for God) the thing that sets atop our shoulders.

Because of the fall, our natural understanding is shadowy at best. And to trust in it only brings greater darkness and confusion. To understand properly, our trust must be entire and exclusive. There can be no confidence in ourselves or others' fleshly wisdom. Our testimony must be as that of the lover in the Songs. We’re told she “Lean[ed] upon her beloved.” David painfully tried to understand something on his own; but to no avail, until he went to God, then he understood. And so will we!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

*Relegated to the Past?

“Is thy God…able to deliver thee...? This question reverberates down the corridors of time to our present age. Every child of God, as Daniel of old, must give an answer; there can be no shirking it. Strong’s Concordance has five lengthy columns for the word “deliver” and its equivalent. God would have each of us know that He is distinctively in the deliverance business.

Our age is infested with addictions such as drugs, drunkenness, immorality, gluttonies, and a host of other sins of the flesh. It seems that many have come to accept these life-destroying habits, feeling they will plaque them till death do them part. They believe this is to be the norm. But if this be true, what are we to do with such statements as, “He hath sent me to…preach deliverance to the captives?”
Are Gods promises of deliverance only written to torment our souls? They are either true or not. If we believe the latter, then we have resigned ourselves to live a miserable and torturous life of defeat. But He has not left us to grovel, groan, and despair; to tantalize us with the impossible and unattainable. There is no chain so binding that He cannot break it, nor yoke so burdensome that He will not remove it.

When Paul says, “Let not sin reign…” He is not speaking of sins banished presence, but rather its broken dominion. Though sin will always be present in our lives, its power over us has been broken. But to argue with the Spirit over this, will inevitably result in one’s downfall. “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me…I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Contempory Christianity

Generally, we speak of Christianity in collective terms, but actually, it is distinctively individual. From our salvation at the beginning, till the Judgment Seat of Christ at the end, God deals with us one on one. And this is true of all that goes on in between.

Most certainly, our Heavenly Father has some basic rules that all the family is to adhere to, but these are for their well-being. Like any wise father, God does not dictate to his children’s preferences in tastes and likes. He allows them to be their own men or women in these.

One mark of a cult is seen in its strict regimentation. As one of my daughters used to say as a child, “They’re same-a-likes.” There is no elbow room in such collectivization for individualism. If you’re different in any way from the other robots, the Gestapo will report you to the Fuhrer.

Another characteristic of a cultic Christianity is that dedication is gauged by the things you give up. It matters little what kind of person you are, subtraction of things is the criteria for acceptance. These morbid members cannot give up a thing, without wanting everyone else to give it up.

There is a little tract entitled, “Others Can; You Can’t.” It leads one to believe spirituality is based on asceticism. But how about, “You Can; Others Can’t”? What a servant can or cannot do is between him and his Master, not another slave (Ro.14:4).

If God doesn't like the way I live, let him tell me, not you. ~Author Unknown