Thursday, April 30, 2009

*Loose Ends

“…troubled about many things.” How like Martha some of us are. If we do not tie up all the loose ends, it leaves our stomachs in a knot.

The quicker we realize and accept the fact that there will always be things left undone, the happier and more content we will be. There is no way on earth to get all our ducks in a row. At least one will always be out of place.

The story is told of a little girl who cried when she learned to tie her shoe. Asked why she was crying, she replied, “Now I’ll have to do it the rest of my life!” Tying our shoes is the beginning of a lifetime of tying up loose ends.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What School Did You Attend?

"Now…Peter and John…were unlearned and ignorant men…” Not illiterate men, by any stretch of the imagination. Between these two “ignorant” fishermen, they wrote seven books of the New Testament! The absence of a formal education does not cancel out the presence of intelligence. They had not graduated from the approved rabbinical school of their day, but, though unlicensed and unapproved, they were attending “St. Mary’s Seminary” (sitting at Jesus’ feet).

Their Teacher came with the highest credentials in the universe. He was the incarnation of all wisdom and knowledge. Those in the schools of higher learning could not figure out how Christ obtained His education “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” And of His oratory they said, “Never man spake like this man.”

The intelligentsias of this world, along with the religionists, still “marvel” at such people. They’re without formal education, college diploma, or university training; yet, when they speak, people’s hearts are strangely moved and blessed. Talk to them about politics, education, philosophy, etc., and they may know little or nothing. But mention Christ, and you’re in for a lengthy, enlightening, and enjoyable time. It is apparent that such people “…have been with Jesus.”

Education is good; just don’t let it go to your head!





Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Most Effective Word

“Nevertheless, at thy word I will...” Peter and the others had toiled tirelessly throughout the long night, only to come up empty. It was a night of fatigue and failure, at the end of which, they could only say of the results from all their effort, “Nothing!”

Yet the Carpenter of Nazareth tells these frustrated, professional fishermen to obey His command. And, at their obedience to His command, everything changed. What made the difference? It’s found in one word “nevertheless.” This word always makes history for a child of God. In spite of our past, this ready obedience to His Word, and doing our duty, will result in a revived spirit.

The prophet said, “At even my wife died...and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” Vision, renewed strength, and hope, always come after “nevertheless.” The stormy road of obedience invariably leads to the promised pot-of-gold at the end. At the finish of a dull road there is a pleasant surprise awaiting all its travelers. Rugged paths lead to summits. Panoramic vision is the result of toilsome climbing. When all is dark and everything we hold dear is gone, when there is humanly no hope, at the end of each of these things may we always put the addendum: “nevertheless.” Our Lord did (Mk.14:36). It is a most effective word!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Plagiaristic World

A good definition of the word plagiarism is, “To take another’s writings and ideas and pass them off for your own.” Most certainly, all of us have assimilated a wealth of material from others in our lifetime. But this knowledge is now an unconscious part of us. It is when we are consciously aware of taking another’s writings and ideas, taking the credit for it ourselves, that we become frauds; or to put it more bluntly, literary thieves. I’m sure Ralph Waldo Emerson had a tongue-in-cheek when he wrote, “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”


This world knows full well that its judicial laws (Deuteronomy), plots for movies and books (the hero on the white horse), along with its quaint sayings, (“the patience of Job”), have been stolen from God’s Word. Why will they not own up to this fact? Simple, then they would have to recognize that everything else in this life was received from their Creator. As John said, “A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.”

We Christians are also sometimes guilty of plagiarizing God. That is, taking credit for something that was first His idea. We pass it off as if it originally came from us (Eccl.1:9). We have a problem admitting, “It is God which worketh in [us] both to will, and to do of his good pleasure.” Or as Paul puts it in another place, “What hast thou that thou didist not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

God uses those He can trust with His Glory.
(A.W. Tozer)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Parental Respect

“And the Lord had respect unto Abel…But unto Cain…he had not respect.” God’s love is unconditional, but it is not so with His respect; that must be earned. Today, it seems not to matter to some of the Lord’s children whether they have His respect or not. He does not mete out His respect indiscriminately, but only, rather, to those who merit it. And who are these meritorious marvels? To be sure, they are not to be found in some elite group. They come from all sorts of spiritual backgrounds. But each has one characteristic that qualifies them for God’s smile: they are obedient to His revealed Will.

In our text, we have two grown children who were brought up in the same environment, had identical teaching, and saw the same example, yet the one chose to go his own way. No doubt, like many in our time, he felt his father’s faith was no longer relevant. Some adult children mistakenly believe their sibling or siblings, who receive their father’s and mother’s respect, are the parents pet. And as a result, like Cain of old, end up with a hateful spirit. But this is far from the truth. It’s just that those who live out the parental principles they were taught while at home are the recipients of their parent’s respect.

I have found those who care nothing about having God’s and their parent’s respect, are void of any self-respect. When children are small, they’re to obey their parents but when grown, they’re to honor them. And the best way to honor them is by living out their parent’s godly principles in their own daily lives. Not necessarily to the letter, but most certainly in the spirit. This does not take away individuality from one’s life, but it does add respectability.

A Walking Wonder.

(Read Psalm 71)

As a new convert, I was privileged to sit under the ministry of a godly old evangelist named Lester Rolloff; it was in a two week tent revival. I remember that over the platform hung a sign with large, red letters, reading, “PRAISE GOD ANYHOW.” The thought being, no matter our circumstances or condition, we should praise God anyhow.

In Psalms 71, the Psalmist is reviewing his life before God, taking us from his birth, youth, and to his mature years. He thought possibly because of his old age that he might be exempt from certain troubles, but realized such reasoning was only wishful thinking. He found the wise man to be right when he said, “There is no discharge in that war.”

The turning point in the Psalm is in verse 14 where he says “I will…yet praise thee more and more.” That is, he would add praise to praise; his praise would be over and above the previous praise: it would be praise upon praise; it would increase; he would accumulate praise; store it up if you please! The old man was a walking wonder (v7).

An hour of praises is worth a day of fasting and mourning! (John Livingstone)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A New Tense in English

There are present, past, past perfect, present perfect, future, and future perfect tenses. A.W. Tozer was an outstanding wordsmith; in fact, I think he came up with some new ones of his own, along with their definitions. If you’ll permit me, I want to present a new tense; at least I think it is. What about a past present tense?

I’d like to believe it was a past present tense when Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” We need to follow our Lord’s example in this respect, and assign the devil to a place in the past, while we’re living in the present. Anything or anybody behind us is part of the past. Remember, the cause of Lucifer’s fall was because he wanted to be first in line. How humiliating for the epitome of pride to be sent to the back of the line.

Whenever the devil comes to tempt you, leave him in the dust!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

*Grace That Runs Well

"For the grace of God... [teaches] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Like a car battery, grace has a negative and positive side. It will not run on just one effectively.

The old-school grace preachers majored, for the most part, on the negative. But the new-school emphasizes, almost entirely, the positive. The former ends up with a grace-less grace; and the latter sadly ends with a grace that's disgraceful. Grace is limitless when it comes to what a person has done, but it has its limits as to what a person can do.

Grace never condemns, neither does it condone, it simply caresses.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

*Plodding Along

Keep on keeping on. This quaint little saying may sound overly simplistic, but in many instances, it has made the difference between success and failure. The only way to reach your goal is to keep plodding along. Interestingly, the word “plod” comes from an old English one meaning, “to paddle.” Only by perseverance did the snail reach the Ark, says Spurgeon.

Edison considered each of the hundreds of failures he experienced in perfecting the light bulb to be another step closer to achieving his dream. He certainly proved the cliché to be true that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

If you’re ready to throw in the towel, I beg you to stop, wipe the sweat from your brow and keep on fighting. It’s always too soon to quit. The torments of an unattained idea are not easy to live with. Be resolute; don’t let anything or anyone discourage or deter you.

Keep plodding on through the mud of difficulty, knowing that when you’ve reached your goal, He will be there to wash your feet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

*Help's On the Way

“For he shall deliver…him that hath no helper." We say, “God helps those who help themselves.” I believe this little quip, if it’s kept in context. But what happens when a person can't help himself? For example, the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda—he would certainly fall into this category. When we find ourselves in such a condition, it is a comfort to be able to say with the writer of Hebrews, "The Lord is my helper…I will not fear."
There will be times in your Christian life when you find yourself experiencing temporary paralysis. All your inward, spiritual, vital organs will be functioning; but, in spite of this, it seems you are unable to move, or to help yourself. Like Israel at the Red Sea, you are paralyzed by circumstances. What is one to do at such a crucial time? Simply "stand still,” and know that help is on the way. Remember, Jesus always shows up when He's needed. "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son…"

If Christ is your helper, you're never helpless.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Variety is the Spice of Life

Sometime ago, I wrote in an article that I believed in dispensations (as found in context), but that I was not a “Dispensationalist” (by today’s meaning of the word). A friend sent me four pages of quotes by men of his own theological persuasion. Then he added that I should drop him from my mailing list. To quote his words, “I find whoever one reads after, they soon end up believing what they believe.” You might want to think about that statement to enjoy the humor in it.

How sad one cannot read contrasting views without fear of becoming a spiritual chameleon. Paul spoke of such saints as being “tossed to and fro.” These intellectually insecure individuals only show that what they profess to believe is just that, a profession. They have never been fully persuaded in their own minds. Cardinal doctrines such as the Blood of Christ, the Bodily Resurrection, New Birth, and Inspiration of the Scriptures should be set in concrete; but all secondary doctrines are to be kept in pliable putty.

As one grows and receives more light on these minor teachings you’ll find it necessary to readjust your thinking and position. That is, if your going to be intellectually and spiritually honest with yourself. At the age of seventy five, and being a Christian for over half a century, I am not one of those who boast, “I have not changed my views in fifty years.” The truth is, I have changed my thinking on a number of lesser doctrines.

I am now reading a book on Four Views of the Millennium; I also have on my bookshelf, Three Views of the Rapture and Four views of Revelation. After reading the other side, I guarantee you’ll not be as dogmatic as you were before reading them. Don’t let anyone keep you incarcerated within their box of beliefs. Break out of that confinement and find out what YOU believe. Do not be afraid to discuss other views with those of opposing ones. You’re not out to win an argument, but to find the truth! Remember, “Iron sharpeneth iron.”


Christians who are one-sided readers can sometimes display a spiritual snobbery

Thursday, April 16, 2009

*Dead Issues

I, for one, do not believe in shooting a dead horse. The only sensible thing to do in such a case is to bury the four-legged creature. When something no longer has life, it is wise to walk away, leave it in the grave yard, and go on with your own life. Some waste precious years trying to breathe life into dead issues that will never be resurrected.

Many of us need to hold a funeral, and bury those things we have been hugging to our bosoms so dearly. That is, those things that have, “given up the ghost,” as they say. The mother of Sisera waited, anticipating life, when there was only death.

When we no longer have control over things, when we can no longer do anything about them, they need to be committed to the grave. And as I have often said, “throw away the shovel.” The devil will have you spend your life among dead things. Ask the maniac of Gadara. But Jesus told him to get back to the living. “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Playing on the Battlefield

There is no place in God’s army for cowards! The Psalmist tells us, “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.” And what did the Lord think of such cowering cowardice? We are told God, “...chose not the tribe of Ephraim,” but rather, “he chose David,” the courageous shepherd boy (Psl. 78:9,67,70).

If I were an artist, and had to depict the Church today, I’d draw a picture of children playing on a battlefield. We no longer want to fight; we want to have fun. In the political world, they speak of “detente”. This is a French word meaning, “slacking the bow strings.” Christians are no longer aggressive warriors, but have settled down to a life of passivity. We have made a treaty with the devil of co-existence, and peace through compromise.

Satan knows he has but a short time. He is making a last ditch effort to defeat the purpose of God. Jesus promised, “...the gates of hell shall not prevail against [His Church].” Gates do not move; we are to storm the devil’s domain. David ran to meet his giant. The devil is to flee from us, not the opposite.

Let us put on the whole armor of God, take our position on the high ground, and, as children of the Kingdom of Light, attack the kingdom of darkness. May we bring back our churches, children, and ministries that have been taken captive by Apollyon. As we enter his dark domain, interceding in prayer for the deliverance of those bound by Satan, let us boldly say with the shepherd lad of old, “I come to you in the name of the Lord.”

Tis better to be at war with the devil than to be at peace with him!

Monday, April 13, 2009

*Second-Guessing God

“And Moses said, The people, among whom I [am], [are] six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them? And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” Num.11:21-23

How like Moses we all are. God gives us a promise, and then we immediately begin figuring out the way in which He will accomplish it. This fault in His followers is also seen among the early New Testament believers. You’ll recall the primitive church had gathered together to pray for Peter’s deliverance from prison; and when their request was granted, they had a problem believing it. Why? They were accustomed to getting big prayers answered on a daily basis. Therefore it should have been no surprise when Peter knocked at the gate. Their problem lay not in the fact that God would, but rather in the way He would bring it about.

Moses imagined God would fulfill His promise through bulky animals of the earth or either with the innumerable fishes of the sea. He never thought of the little birds (quail) of heaven being the answer to their predicament. Naaman was another who fell into the trap of attempting to anticipate God. When it was revealed to him the unorthodox, but natural way in which God would take care of his dilemma, he became very upset. The reason for his distress is found in his words, “I thought.” He had a pre-conceived idea of how it ought to be done.

We say today, “You wait and see.” Concerning God’s promises He says, “Thou shalt see now.”

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alone or Lonley

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely”; so said Albert Einstein. This painful plague invades the lives of the great and intellectual, as well as those in the lower stations of life. I think there is a difference between “alone-ness” and loneliness. One can be alone without being lonely. Intermittent periods of the former can be advantageous to a Christian’s growth, but never can this be said of the latter condition. Loneliness is the first thing God said was not good.

Loneliness has been described as being one of the most desolate words in the English language. Another has said, “It’s the disease of the decade.” Many things can contribute to this dreaded desolation. Aging, divorce, widowhood and the immobility that sickness brings, are just a few reasons. Whatever the cause, it leaves its victims with an inner ache, a vacuum, a craving for satisfaction, and an insatiable longing to be loved.

What is the cure for this toxic torment? Man has a two-fold need—fellowship with God and companionship with others. The first is met when the lonely person lays hold, by faith, on Jesus’ promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The second is fulfilled when we ourselves fill in the blank space in the lonely person’s life and become an intricate part of it. Remember, “It is not good that the man [or woman] should be alone.”

Man loves company even if it is only that of a small burning candle. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Her Name Was Lass

It is hard to believe twenty four years have passed since I, along with my wife Salle, and two younger children, Josh and Charity, boarded a plane for Ireland; leaving our older children, Andrew and Leah, behind with their mates. It was a difficult time in many respects for all of us. But there was a bright spot that will always remain. We all still speak often of it, or should I say, her. She was a beautiful little bundle of wool—an Old English sheepdog we named Lass.

I do not know if I raised her or she raised me! None the less, she was our pride and joy. I groomed her daily, and, on long walks, cars, more than once, would pull by the side of the road, so their occupants could look at her. Some even stopped and got out to pet her.

If dogs have temperaments (and, I believe they do, after my experience with her) then Lass was 100% sanguine. Whether you liked her or not, she actually believed everyone was her friend. If there was a knock at the door, it was for her; when we sat down to eat, she was to be served first; when she heard a voice, she came running, for, most certainly, she was the center of any conversation. If we laughed, it had to be for something funny she had done. Though she had good qualities, I’m afraid they were used for selfish purposes. All of life revolved around her. Lass was the main thing. She actually thought she was the center of the universe.

I find I can be like that, and I don’t want to be. What was accepted and cute in Lass, is unacceptable, and unbecoming when seen in me. God help me to remember that I am no longer to yield to my self-centered “animal” nature; but to the self-sacrificing Divine nature that now indwells me. I miss Lass, but I would never, ever, want to be like her. Would you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Paralyzing Possibility

“Our God… is able…and he will…But if not…we will not.” Here is the testimony of three of God’s choicest saints. These men had the courage of their convictions; they stood for the God of Heaven, when all others were kneeling down to the god of this world. You’d think that if anyone would be delivered from the dire situation they were in, they would be. But God preferred to deliver them in it, rather than out of it. They were the “others” of Heb. 11 (verses 35-40). Notice they had the same faith as the rest in the chapter who were delivered.

They believed not only God could, but would, come to their aid. I think the addendum to their statement of faith is one of the greatest confessions in all the Word of God; “But if not…we will not.” This is a paralyzing possibility in all cases of prayer, “But if not.” All prodigals do not return, all sicknesses are not healed, and all problems are not resolved. And there are legions of other things that may not come to pass the way we desired or imagined. At such times, we need to be resolute with a “…we will not.” That is, not blame God or quit on Him, or go back to the world.

Christ’s enemies taunted Him on the Cross with, “He saved others; himself he cannot save…let him come down now from the cross” It was not a weak faith that kept Him on the Cross; on the contrary, it was just the opposite. It was not that His faith was too weak for Him to come down from the Cross; it was that His faith was so strong that it kept Him from coming down!

A dear friend of mine, who has been confined to a wheel chair for many years (since the age of eighteen), gives testimony to the fact that if Christ gave her the choice to walk or remain in her condition, she’d choose the latter. For, says she, “I believe this chair is God’s will for my life.” This, my friend, is the victory that overcomes the world!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Claims of Christ

Among the many claims of Christ, one of His paramount declarations was that He was the only way to God (Jn.14:6). With a statement such as this, as C.S. Lewis points out, we are left with one of three choices: He was a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord of Glory. As Lewis also reminds us, “There is no halfway house over this issue.” Sincerity doesn’t count (Pro.14:12). As my Granny used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Try to make it without Him, and you will end up in the “City of the Damned,” with all the Religious hucksters, gurus, and false prophets you've followed (Matt.15:14; Rev.19:20; 20:10,15).

Peter preached to the lost, religious crowd of his day that there was no salvation apart from Jesus (Acts4:12). The entire book of Hebrews is given to this subject. How Old Testament saints were saved, or quibbling over the fate of the heathen who never heard the gospel, will not excuse you! Because of the brevity of my articles I cannot go into these two questions, other than to say, though they may seem difficult, they are not as problematic as one might believe.

You Sunday school teachers and pastors, don’t allow the cultic teachings of this world intimidate you. Go into your classes and pulpits with full assurance that Jesus Christ is God’s final Word to this lost world (Heb.1:1-4). Lift Him up; He promises that if we do, like a magnet, He will draw men to Himself (Jn.12:32)! I’ve spent over half a century doing it, and I guarantee it works.

My life philosophy is, “If I can get a person to Jesus, everything will be all right.”

I love to tell the story, for those who know best,

seem hungering and thirsting, to hear it like the rest.

Heaven

“Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old” (11Sam.19:31-39). It is hard for me to believe that in just a little over four short years, I too will enter the ranks of the octogenarians. Because of this fact, I, like Barzillai, am very aware of my home going. My next big and final stop is Heaven. I find nearing Heaven’s gate, the entrance to that celestial eternal city, to be very exciting! And I believe any true saint who is a robust thinker will find it so! But just what can a Christian expect upon his or her departure from this world?

Well the first thing we will experience after our soul leaves the body (Gen.35:18a) is angelic beings transporting us to Paradise (Lk.16:2): when we arrive, we’ll be given some kind of temporary housing for the soul until we get our new resurrected bodies (11Cor.5:1-4). Remember Moses’ body was buried (Deut.34:5-6), but on the mountain, when speaking to Jesus, he had some kind of body that was recognizable (Matt.17:1-8). Then this transitory body, with our soul within, will be clothed with a white robe (Rev.6:9-11).

Best of all, we will immediately be in the Lord’s presence (11Cor.5:6,8). Ah, yes, our last breath here will be our first breath there. The intermediate state is a conscious one, else how would the thief on the cross know he was with the Lord that very day (Lk.23:42-44). And we can be assured we’ll never be bored; for what two lovers were ever bored with each others presence?

Dear Blood-washed saint of God, you need never dread death. On the Cross, our Lord defeated it. He took away its fear (Heb.2:14-15), taste (2:9), and the sting (1Cor.15:55). As someone has said, “The grave is only an underground pathway to heaven.”

AT MY BIRTH, THE WORLD REJOICED AND I CRIED; AT MY DEATH, THE WORLD WILL CRY AND I WILL REJOICE!

The Deeper life

I am sometimes asked, “Do you believe in the deeper life?” I generally answer with a smile, “I certainly don’t believe in a shallow one!” But like many things in Christianity today, you have to qualify what you mean by “Deeper Life.” Like Baptists (which I am), there are many variations.

Let me first state the kind of “Deeper Life” I am not. I do not belong to a small elite group that has found a truth that God hasn’t let the rest of the Body of Christ in on. Nor do believe I become someone else other than myself. And most certainly, I do not accept I am to remain passive, putting all the responsibility on God.

What I do adhere to is cooperation in the Victorious Christian Life. Paul states it clearly: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It is not Christ without “I”—it is not I without “Christ”—it is “I” with “Christ.” It is, “The Sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”

A young preacher asked missionary George Muller to pray God would get him up each morning at 5 a.m. for devotions; to which the old man replied, “No, I’ll not pray that, but if you promise to put one foot to the floor, I will pray He’ll help you put out the other.”