Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reading Between the Lines

I have to constantly remind myself that the Bible is a condensed book. What I mean is, I’m prone to forget the fact that there is often a time lapse between events recorded. And of these intervals, many times, we are told nothing. That leaves us, more or less, “to read between the lines.” Meaning simply, read what is implied but not expressed on the surface.

To site just one illustration of this would be the eighteen silent years in Jesus’ life. I’m speaking of that period from being a boy of twelve till a man of thirty. From other scriptures we can assume He regularly attended the Synagogue, learned the carpenter trade, and was an obedient child. But we are not told all the little everyday things that transpired in His life, as well as any crisis events.

This is a very important truth for us to grasp. If we do not, we will try to live “condensed lives.” We’ll try to squeeze everything into one main event, leaving out all the incidentals of life that are so important and necessary. The unimportant is as important to God as the important. Many times, those things never recorded or known of a person’s life tell more about that individual than the highlights.

Life is made up of a lot of insignificant ingredients; leave out just one of them, and it losses its rare taste.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your Own Worst Enemy

It was D.L. Moody who said, “No one gives D.L. Moody more trouble than D.L. Moody.” Let’s face it; we are our own worst enemy. A man heard a sermon on praying for your enemies, so he went home, got on his knees, and prayed for himself. There may be more truth than fiction in this story.

As long as we are in this flesh we will have to haul this “old man” with us everywhere we go. A common saying among the deeper life advocates is that we need to get out of Romans chapter seven and into Romans chapter eight. But if you’ll check your Bible, you’ll find the same man that’s groaning in chapter seven is still groaning in chapter eight.

You don’t try to change the “old man,” Jesus says, you’re to “Deny him.” In the movie, A Beautiful Mind, the main character, who was a schizophrenic, after being healed made a great statement, “I still see things, I just don’t acknowledge them.” We should never deny the existence of the old nature, but the recognition of it. Don’t let the old you convince you he is the new you!

After reading such scriptures as: the flesh is weak; flesh is unchangeable; flesh profits nothing; no good thing in the flesh; flesh cannot please God; flesh is filthy; flesh reaps corruption; and flesh wars against all that is holy and good, no wonder we’re told, “Put no confidence in the flesh.”

You can’t reason with it, you can’t satisfy it, and you can’t change it any more than a leper can change his spots or an Ethiopian his skin. Don’t coddle what God has condemned! We need to deal with our “old man” the way Samuel did Agag (a type of the flesh). We’re told, “Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is passed. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord.”

Every morning of a believer’s life should begin with taking your “old man” by the nape of the neck, and drag him, kicking and screaming, to the Cross. And make sure you’re deaf to all his subtle promises and vows to do better, if you’ll only spare him. Remember, what Saul spared slew him in the end.

After Augustine’s conversion a woman of ill repute he had known previously called to him on the street, “Augustine, it is I.” To which he replied, “Yes, I know, but it is not I.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Opting Out of the Outdated

“He [Hezekiah]…brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.” Originally, this brazen serpent was by Divine direction, but it had outlived its usefulness. Just because God uses something for a certain time doesn’t mean necessarily He intended for it to be used for all of time. Some things have their day; after that, they are of no more use. The Tabernacle, for example, “which was a figure for the time then present.”

Hezekiah refers to this religious relic which had become a spiritual substitute for God, as “Nehushtan” (a piece of brass). Good things used in the past, but that are no longer of any value in the present, should be discarded, lest we end up idolizing them.

Tradition can lead to superstition, and, in the end, can paralyze a person from parting with the past.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Lesser is Blessed Best

“Blessed are they that have not seen, yet have believed.” I’d like to put something to rest once and for all. I’m speaking of those saints who habitually speak of wishing they had lived in Jesus’ day. They constantly chide themselves for what they refer to as their, “little faith,” thinking themselves to be lesser saints. They feel they would’ve had greater faith had they lived when Jesus did. On the contrary, most of the people living then did not believe Him. So, seeing is not always believing.

The Apostles saw Him; John tells us that his hands handled Him; five hundred witnessed His Resurrection; and Paul met Him face to face. But none of these were as blessed as you and I. We may not have had the benefit of seeing His miracles, hearing Him teach, touching His garments, or beholding His resurrected body; yet Jesus tells us those saints living then, and in the future, who never saw Him, are more blessed than those who did. This, no doubt, looks backward and includes O.T. saints as well.

I did not set up these comparative decrees; Jesus did. He put His own stamp of praise-worthiness on those “Whom having not seen [Him], ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” As Matthew Henry writes, “Not to see and yet to believe argues greater industry in searching after truth, and greater ingenuousness of mind in embracing it.”

Belonging to the band of believer’s known as “The Not-Seeners,” is not a bad thing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

*Heaven Is Home

When the Bible talks of Heaven, is it speaking in allegorical, figurative, or literal language? Personally, I believe a little of each. Though I do believe the undo attention given to the spiritualization of much of it, is unwarranted. The one thing I am absolutely assured of, even to the point of being dogmatic, is the fact that Jesus Christ literally abides there. It is, and always has been, His Home! As they say, “Home is where the heart is”; and His was always in Heaven.

When as a young man of just seventeen, I served with the military in Korea. There was not a day that passed I did not think about my home, I longed to be there. After my discharge, I arrived back at the old residence. Surprisingly, I found a dilapidated house; I had never noticed what a ramshackle place it was. Then I realized, it was never the place that made it home, it was the person, that precious little lady I called, “Mom.” It was she, the love of my life I longed for, not a crumbling building.

And so it is with our Heavenly Home, Heaven would be Hell without Him! Without Jesus, Heaven would be no more than a waste dump consisting of mounds of gold and expensive jewels. It is the Lover of our souls that makes Heaven Home. As the old gospel song goes, “Where Jesus is, ‘Tis Heaven there.” Is it any wonder Paul said, “To be with Christ…is far better.” The Apostle’s testimony was that of the old Puritan, “Christ stole my heart and ran away to heaven with it.”

Heaven would be dull without Him. But lovers are never bored in each other’s company.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day Old Faith

“But we trusted that it had been he which should have…” We’re told that this statement came from the lips of two sad saints who were walking with their risen Lord. Why then so downcast? Simple; they were living on yesterday’s faith. Faith is never in the past tense, but always in the present; you know, “Now faith…” Faith is to be forever fresh! Day old faith is moldy. It’s a faulty faith.

We are told holy Hannah’s countenance was “no more sad” the very moment she believed the words of her high priest. So it will be with us. The gloom will be gone once we have faith that our High Priest is alive and His word bona fide. To hear the words of the risen, living Christ, our hearts also will burn within us. Like Jacob of old, when told Joseph was “yet alive,” whom he thought to be dead, we too will have a revived spirit.

O dear reader, be assured, Jesus Christ will never betray the confidence you place in Him! Promise and performance are inseparably linked; “Hath he said, and shall he not do it.” Someone has said, “The surest way to arrest our faith is to cherish our doubts.” It is in the atmosphere of His presence that faith flourishes. As a result, all tension exits when trust enters. As Oswald Sanders wrote, “Trust is effortless confidence based on the character of the one in whom it is reposed.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Christ of the Crisis

I heard an old hill preacher at a camp meeting once say, “You can depend on Jesus showing up whenever there’s a need in your life.” The scriptures amplify this truth over and over again. As the song says, “He’s the Christ of every crisis.” No predicament upsets, frustrates, or causes Him anxiety. He is always in control of every situation.

Things and people have a strange way of changing from bad to good, and from impossible to possible when Jesus arrives on the scene. Mary and Martha can attest to this, as well as those attending the marriage in Cana. Legions of people both in Bible times and history can testify to the fact that Jesus Christ conquered every crisis arising in their lives.

The one necessary crisis in a saint’s life that will take care of all other crises is a complete abandonment to Jesus Christ! It is then, and only then, that He becomes Lord of every crisis in one’s life. The disciples found in the midst of a “great storm,” by taking Jesus into the ship there was suddenly “a great calm.” And so will it be with you, dear child of God.

Jesus can make “what might have been” a living reality.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You're As Good As Your Word

A person is no better than his or her word. In olden times a man didn’t have to sign a paper, but simply say a word to seal an agreement. God keeps His Word to us, and He expects us to keep our word to Him (and to one another).

Moses tells us if a man or woman makes a promise to God “he [she] shall not break his [her] word.” And the wise man in Ecclesiastes reminds us to perform what we promise God. Far too many Christians make “Fox-hole” promises, but they soon forget. God doesn’t!

Someone asked me if I was going to renew my wedding vows to my wife on our fiftieth anniversary. My answer was, “No, I meant them the first time.” We need to mean business with God. It’s a serious thing dealing with Deity; it’s not to be taken lightly, consequences follow all who do.

A promise made is a debt unpaid. ~Robert Service

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Busy or Rushed

“Come ye yourselves apart...and rest a while.” Someone has said, “If you don’t come apart and rest, you’ll come apart.” There is a legitimate indictment that can be brought against many Christian leaders today for not encouraging those under them to heed our Lord’s admonition to His weary followers. Instead, some, as Pharaoh of old, command, “Let there be more work laid upon the men.” In most cases, this is done because of the fact that a very small percentage does the work in any church or Christian organization. Hence, those who do labor are left to do the work of two or three people.

Beware, child of God that you do not get more on your plate than you can “eat.” If so, one of two things will happen: either there will be things left untouched, or you will try to consume it all and become sick of the very thing you should enjoy.

Some practical sayings we need to ponder and apply are: “Duties never conflict”; “His reach exceeds his grasp”; His eyes are bigger than his stomach”; “We are to be busy but never rushed”; “He bit off more than he could chew”; and, “The overly committed are committing spiritual suicide.” Martha’s problem was in her “many things,” rather than the Lord’s “one thing.”

You may have a lot of irons in the fire, but you can only use one at a time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

While You're Waiting

In the scriptures we find such terms as, “… the people waited…,” and, “Now while Paul waited…” I have often said that waiting on God is the most difficult thing for me in my Christian life. Waiting to hear medical results, for a wayward child to return to the fold, the results of a job interview, an answer to prayer, etc., all these can tax your patience to the limit.

Jesus told His disciples to, “Tarry ye …until.” That is, wait for God to work. But we are not to sulk during such times, go into a fit of hysteria, or sit with folded hands. We are to do the next thing. The best way to pass time is by not looking at the clock, but forgetting it. Or as the little proverbial saying goes, “I was so busy, that I forgot the time.” For such people, time slips by fast.

My blessed Kentucky mother used to say, “A watched pot never boils.” I’ve observed that water seems to boil faster for those women, who after putting a pot of water on the stove to boil, busy themselves with other things. You’ll noticed in the Bible that miracles never came to anyone who was looking for them, but to those who were busy doing their, “…duty of every day.” Taking the next step could bring the answer you have been waiting for!

“Tarry at a promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.” (D.L. Moody)

Friday, March 19, 2010

*I Never Knew That

“…ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge.” I’ve met scores of knowledgeable men, though the years, who didn’t know the slightest thing about their wives. They were completely ignorant to their needs, moods, feelings, fears, hopes, desires, and problems. One of the most debasing things a man can say to his mate is, “I never knew that.” No husband’s education is complete if he doesn’t know his wife. He should make a lifetime study of just knowing her.

Any educator or student realizes you fail if you don’t know your subject. Knowing your wife is a major, not a minor. You can’t get by without a passing grade on this subject. You’re headed for failure if you don’t know this important subject.

A knowledgeable husband knows his wife’s physical needs as well as the spiritual ones. “He that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” There used to be a secular song entitled, “Little Things Mean A Lot.” It doesn’t take a lot to please a good wife, if she knows some thought has gone into what her husband does for her.

A man can’t know the needs of his wife who is always thinking of his own.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Something Out of Nothing

“Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Two great truths we need to keep ever before us: God can make something out of nothing; He can also make nothing out of something. This is true of nations, families, churches, and individuals. In this article, I want speak on the former of the two—God making something out of nothing.

Where once there was nothing, all of a sudden, there is something. While we look at people and things and see nothing, God sees something. This is especially true of broken and ruined lives. How many times have we looked upon loved ones and friends and thought, there is nothing that can be done? But when God looks, He replies, “There’s something I can.”

It’s reported that Michelangelo, gazing once upon a huge rock, said of it, “I see an angel in that rock and I’m going to deliver him.” Thank God He saw something in us, when others saw nothing!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"All We Can Do Now Is Pray"

In times of crisis, how often each of us have used or heard the words in the title of this article. I wonder, had we started with prayer in those desperate times, if we would not have had to tie it on as an addendum? Prayer is without doubt the most necessary of all Christian duties, and without argument, the most neglected.

God’s answer to a nation in chaos is:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will .forgive their sin, and will heal their land”; Again, “Thus saith the LORD …unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away …Build ye houses, and dwell [in them]; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them”; Again, “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace”; “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made …For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.”

Political rallies, preaching, books, discussion groups, debates, Christian’s in office, and even voting, along with our incessant complaining, will never bring about national tranquility and peace. God Almighty said it was to be found in prayer! If the above mentioned acts were remedial, our Nation would have been healed long ago.

Our sickness is sin sickness, not the worlds, but our own. Most churches have yielded to the Canaanitish and Babylonish cultures of old, imitating their reasoning, immorality, nose jewels, markings in the flesh, along with their music, drunken partying, and dress. The Church no longer is in the world; the world has moved into the church. And that is when the old ship Zion sinks.

I don’t want to be a Jonah, but I personally have little confidence that our nation will ever return to the God of our fathers. I hope to God I am wrong! But it is not without cause I make this disheartening statement. Truthfully, how many do you think would show up at your church for on-going prayer meetings for our nation? And even worse is the fact that many of us wouldn’t attend more than once, if then. After all, we do not pray and fast for loved ones and those close to us in dire need; so why would we pray for God to change a wicked nation? As Ezra of old I say, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God.” What a sad state I am in!

Our problem is not in the White House, it’s in God’s House!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unchallenged Faith

“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” According to Peter, all Christians are to be “apologists,” (one who defends The Faith). But from my observation, most of today’s professing Christians are instead, apologetic. And rightly so, for to know only what you believe, but be unable to tell the inquirer why you believe it, well, I think you do owe him or her a sincere apology.

Far too many saints are like the man who was asked what he believed. “Well,” said he, “I believe what my church believes.” When asked what his church believed, he replied, “O, they pretty much believe what I believe.” Going in circles like this gets a person nowhere. An unchallenged faith is a fool’s faith. True Christianity can afford to be scrutinized; you can put it under the microscope. It’s the real thing, not “Fools gold,” (the name given to iron pyrites, which looks a little like gold but is worthless).

We need more, to use the true sense of the word, “Free thinkers.” You can always spot those who are bogged down in their own little religious sect. They only run with and read after their own kind. They cannot intelligently represent the whole of historic Christianity, only what their small camp adheres to. Characteristically, when their beliefs are intellectually and scripturally challenged, they will quickly pick up their marbles and go home, leaving behind their echo, labeling you an apostate or heretic. How sad that so many threw away their head and kept only their heart when saved. Any bird knows, it takes two wings to fly.

Thinkers are always a threat to tyrants!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rhetorical Rhetoric.

A rhetorical question is one where no answer is expected whereas rhetoric can relate to showy language that is empty on insincere. A good example of this is seen in the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter cut off Malchus’ ear. Just prior to this act we’re told, “[Peter] said unto Him, Lord, shall [I] smite with a sword? And [Peter]…smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.” This is what I like to call “rhetorical rhetoric.”

Most all of us are guilty of asking God an important question, then acting before we have the answer? We need to follow Paul’s example. He once asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do”? then waited three long days in the dark until God sent the answer and enlightened him. Years ago, when I was a pastor, our church sang a little chorus: “I believe the answer’s on the way, I believe the Lord has heard me pray, “Cast not away your confidence,” saith the Lord my God.”

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Keeping Focused

Jesus constantly reminded His followers that the reason for whatever they did was to be, as He put it, “For my sake.” Some twenty times He used this term. Any other intent is headed for the ash heap (1Cor.3:13). Motive is everything with God. Why you do what you do is the real issue.

When called upon to forsake both people and things, it is not as difficult when done for His sake. It’s paradoxical, I know, but we find by losing. When asked to turn our backs on everything we hold dear for His sake, invariably we meet them again as we go in God’s direction (Mk.10:29-30). It is kind of like a boomerang effect. What we give up for God has a way of coming back to us after a time (Job 42:10b,12).

There used to be a secular song years ago called, “Three Little Words.” Well, the three little words that make all the difference in our relationship with God are “for you Lord.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

*Torn Garments

“And rend your heart, and not your garments…” The custom of the ancients was to rend their clothes as an expression of something extraordinary happening to them. One of these special occasions was when they repented of their sins. Rending their garments was to be an outward sign of an inward act. It was to manifest abhorrence for what they had done. It was meant to signify that they were “cut to the heart,” so to speak. A prototype, if you please, of our “altar calls” today.

Matthew Henry says of our text, “The sign without the thing signified is but a jest, and a mockery, and an affront to God.” I’m fearful much of our external show of repentance today is just that—external. It is only skin deep. Like Esau of old, it never really reached our hearts. No amount of outward show can substitute for inward sorrow. David knew this. In his blessed Psalm of repentance he penned, “…a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

When we rend our hearts, God will rend the Heavens.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Surprised By God

“And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.” What a surprise it was to see Joseph’s face. Jacob had given up all hope of that ever happening, much less seeing Joseph’s children. One of the most exciting things in life is the element of surprise. From early years to old age, it plays a great part in our lives. Do some of us remember when we were young and the surprise parties? And what a pleasant surprise for the old gray-haired saint in the hospital or rest home who gets a visit from their children or grandchildren.

God knew how wonderful surprise was to His children, and so He didn’t leave it out of their spiritual lives. He delights to surprise us. As you know, and have experienced, there were surprises in the commencement of our conversion; there is a continuation of these surprises throughout our Christian lives; and I am convinced, at the conclusion, and throughout eternity, we will see surprises that are unimaginable.

It’s exciting each day to have an expectancy of the possibility of God surprising us. Our Heavenly Father, no doubt, like our earthly fathers, loves to see the expression on our faces and the joyful excitement that a surprise brings. Just think; some of us are going to be surprised by God today!

“Jesus rarely comes when we expect Him; He appears where we lest expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections.” (Oswald Chambers)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

There's No Time Like the Present

“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.” I wonder, has there ever been an age that did not applaud the past and appall the present? Horace Greeley said, “The illusion that times that were are better than times that are has probably prevailed in all ages.”

I’m sure all of us have either heard or said something akin to, “Alas, times are not what they used to be.” Well, I’m afraid neither we nor our grandparents can claim originality for this statement. We’re told the Prisse Papyrus, purported to be the oldest writing in existence (a few thousand years old?), starts off with the exact words quoted above.

It seems in every generation there have been those discouraged by their contemporary generation. And I’m sure, as in our own present situation, justifiably so. But let us remember, God put us here “For such a time as this”; lest we find ourselves grumbling against God. This is our time and our place!

It comes down to how one wants to look at it, you know, “Two men behind prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.” It’s our choice, God is either dead, or He is alive and well and sitting on His Throne. The ten spies in Joshua said, “We be not able”; while Caleb replied, “We are well able to overcome it.” Let’s join Caleb’s clan!

Always put God along side the giants facing you. They’re pigmys next to Him!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Close to the Cross

It was Evangelist D.L. Moody who said, “Never get further than a day away from the Cross.” It was here Jesus made a fool out of the devil (Col.2). The Cross was no afterthought with God. Jesus was God’s Lamb “…slain from the foundation of the world.” And our Lord well knew it. For, in reference to this historical event, He said, “…for this cause came I into the world.” God does not want us to forget it. This was His purpose in establishing the Lord’s Supper. It is God’s forget-me-not. “This do in remembrance of me.”

There are shadows of the Cross throughout the Old Testament. We see its form in the Passover on every Israelites door, where the blood was applied to the lintel and the two side posts. The placing of the furniture in the Tabernacle displayed a perfect cross. When Jacob blessed the second-born, he did it by crossing his hands. And in the motions of the wave and heave offerings, who could miss seeing it?

Years ago, after a village meeting in Alaska, the pastor was flying me back to the Anchorage airport in a small 2-seater plane. We ran into a snowstorm so bad that I couldn’t see the wings for the blinding snow. I asked how he knew where we were going. He pointed to the instrument panel, showing me a little cross-like needle, then replied, “Just keep your eyes on the cross; it will keep us safe and on course.”

Christians’ crosses are all made out of different materials; the one thing they all have in common is that they crucify the possessor.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Who’s Doin’ the Talkin?

“Jesus answered him, Sayest this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” A good, practical question, is it not? Especially for this parrot age in which we live. People, who do not think for themselves, do not speak for themselves. I remember asking a pastor’s wife once what she believed about a certain text, and her reply was, “Let me ask my husband and see what we believe.” This is what I call “secondhand religion.” To hear, “Polly wants a cracker,” sounds cute, but you can be sure it’s not an original thought with that bird.

Handed down tradition doesn’t mean its true, only that each generation has accepted it as such. There are movements today, as well as in Bible times, where one dare not challenge an individual’s doctrinal beliefs, nor their personal convictions. These puppets have a famous little cliché they use, which sounds profound at first, but is discovered to be shallow upon examination. It goes something like this: “I’ve always believed and done things the same way all my Christian life.” Is it any wonder their lives are boring, as well as they themselves?

It’s a good thing Apollos didn’t have this pathetic philosophy (Acts 18:24-28). Eternal truths never change, but these are few in comparison to man-made rules handed down to us, like the Jews of old, by well meaning folk. Believe what you will about secondary issues, but Paul tells us to make sure we are “…fully persuaded in our own mind.” You’re not to adhere to what your guru tells you, but what God has shown you personally. It’s called the priesthood of all Believers. I find those sure of themselves can go it alone. But the uncertain want those around them to adopt their pattern of life so as to make them feel more secure in their set of beliefs and convictions.

Old dogs can learn new truths, if they don’t let the other aged dogs intimidate them!

Friday, March 5, 2010

*Held in Time

When I was a boy and attended the movie theater, the order was something like this: first, a newsreel, followed by a serial (like the Green Hornet), then the main attraction. The newsreel was entitled, “Time Marches On.” Time doesn’t stand still, yet many have not realized this in their lives as yet, or maybe they just stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it. People such as this are cemented in their pasts.

I’ve met scores of souls that were, so to speak, held in time. That is, they’re imprisoned in a self-concocted time capsule. There is a point in their personal history they have been unable to move past, or either decline to do so. They occupy their little prison cell with the likes of bitterness, grudge, and hatred. These undesirables are counted as close friends. Bosom-buddies, who occupy most of their waking hours.

They can never move on with their lives for the chain that holds them. A chain of their own making and to which they have the key, but will not use it. They choose to wallow in the mire of self-pity thinking those on the outside will visit them, listening to their same old sad stories year after year. But it is not long before they find the visitor’s seat unoccupied, and they’re left to stew in their own wretchedness alone.

Once you turn the key of faith, you can go on your way singing, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.”

Growth or Change

To me, growth carries the thought of developing, while basically remaining the same in substance. But change seems to imply putting something in place of another, a replacing with something different. I’m afraid many older Christians, as well as ministers, are mistakenly accused of changing, when actually it is simply maturing. But you’ll never convince the dogged dogmatists of this.

As one advances as a child of God, he or she sees that in reality there are only a few things worth fighting for in the Christian faith. Or at least that’s the way some of we antiquated saints feel. Like my old friend, the late Dr. Tom Malone Sr. used to say, “A bull dog can whip a skunk, but it isn’t worth the fight!” Some people create more stink than anything else.

I have watched through the years those who slander good men who have mellowed in the Lord. They brand them as going soft and compromising. But invariably, you will find these revilers become harder and harder, while those they attack grow sweeter and sweeter. I think it wise to remind ourselves form time to time of Augustine’s words, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Principle or preference: The latter is not worth defending!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Worldly Husbands

“But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” The same is said of the wife’s relation to her husband, but I’ll let my wife write on that one. What I’m concerned with is us husbands. I’m a little put out by these guys that want nothing to do with anything that smacks of the secular, or to use their term, “worldliness.” Bud, you should have thought of that before you married! If you wanted to serve God and please only Him, you ought to have joined a monastery. Worldliness has to do with affections, “Love not the world”; our affections are to be in heaven. But we’re told we can legitimately and spiritually use the world, just not abuse it. All ground is holy ground to the child of God. There is no secular and sacred to him or her.

It is written that the first Tabernacle was “worldly.” That is, God used something the world used, but with a different purpose and motive. You know, the same way we drive cars, wear suits and ties, go to the same stores for food as the world does; but with a different intent: to glorify God. “Duh!” To not do most of the things the world does would mean, “Ye [must] needs go out of the world.” Remember, Heaven is the most extravagant and materialistic place you will ever see or be in. God didn’t put us here on earth to be miserable; He gave us all things to enjoy. So says the Apostle. Yes, we are in the world, but not of it. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are in it.

I’d remind some of you husbands who imagine yourself to be some kind of “Spiritual Giant,” not to be so heavenly minded that your wife finds you to be of no earthly good. This world is God’s Inn which we have stopped at on our way home. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Enjoy all the facilities He has put at your disposal. Some of you dedicated, godly, sanctified husbands need to forget your quest for personal “holiness” and hone in on making the wife of your youth “happy!” Sometimes it’s wiser to take her to a restaurant instead of a revival; buy her a bouquet of flowers in place of a new Bible; and in place of a camp meeting, how about a romantic get-away. Someone says, “But my wife doesn’t like those things”. Well then, I’d like to ask her what planet she came from. Evidently she has never been wooed by a real Christian man. Get to it fella’s, be a little worldly. God said it was ok!

When Christ chose the two elements for the Lord’s Supper, He used things the world used, but abused.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Looking In All the Wrong Places

I’m sure most of my readers have either read or heard the old proverbial story, Acres of Diamonds. But just in case someone may have missed this challenging tale, allow me briefly re-tell it. An African farmer, who heard of millions of dollars in diamonds, sold his farm and went to the diamond line. After searching the continent for years, this poor discouraged man threw himself in a river and drowned. But unknown to this wretched creature, the new owner of his property had discovered diamonds, acres of diamonds. Some were actually as large as an egg. This farm came to be known as The Kimberly Diamond Mines, the richest in the world.

Prodigals who what they have and travel to some far country in search of greener pastures, invariably find it scorched to the roots. Some people don’t have enough sense to know you don’t give up something wonderful in exchange for something worse. There are those who search the world over for happiness, something under their own noses from the beginning. Someone has said, “Happiness is wanting what you have.” Paul tells us that a godly life along with contentment is a great gain. I have found those who are habitually searching for something better or different from the blessings they already possess, end up on the short end of the stick every time.

Of unattainable longings, sour is the fruit. (C.S. Lewis)

Monday, March 1, 2010

*Reality's Indelible Mark

“God of our fathers, living still.” The best inheritance I can leave my children is the personal witness of my knowledge of God. To pass along to them who He is and what He has done for me. When they have beheld God as a living reality in my life, they will never be able to erase that from their memory.

They can travel to the four corners of the earth. They can turn their backs on all that is right. They may even, as the disciple of old, deny with their lips that they know Him, but in the deep recesses of their hearts, they know and are assured their father’s God is living still.

Sometimes Jacobs have to leave their father’s house before they can really know their father’s God.