The Two-Faced Man
Can you imagine a man with two faces? Well, once
upon a time it was supposed that there was a man who had two faces, one where
your face is and one where the back of your head is. Just think of having two
faces, one in front of you and one behind you. You could look in front of you
and behind you at the same time, and no one would be able to talk behind your
back without your seeing them. But think also of the trouble this would create.
It would mean two faces to wash, two noses to blow, two sets of teeth to clean
and to ache. And then, who wouldn't try to avoid a two - faced man?
This storybook man with the two faces was very
real to the ancient Romans. They were so fond of him they told their children
about him, put a picture of his head on a coin, and built a temple where people
could worship in his honor. His name was Janus, and they named the first month
of the year, January, after him because with his two faces he could look
forward and backward at the same time.
No person with two real faces has ever lived.
There are two-faced people whose faces are not honest and who do not tell the
truth, but God has not made us with a face in front and another behind because
we do not need an extra face. God wants us to look ahead, and it is easier to
look forward with one face. Of course, he wants us to look back on the mistakes
that we have made but only so that we will be able to live for His glory in the
Brethren, I do not count myself to have
apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and
reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for
the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In Wurzburg, Germany, it is reported that many people wash
their purses out on New Year’s eve in one of the fountains of the town. This is
to ensure that they don’t run out of money during the coming year.
Habits and ideas and customs like this exists everywhere.
Some people for example place eggs under their hens on Good Friday in order to
get more chicks. Others say that if a girl wants to get married she is to cut a
twig from a tree on the 4th of December, and she will have a bridegroom before
it blossoms. At Christmas time people shake trees for good luck. To eat an
apple on New Year’s Day or whit Sunday (Pentecost) will make one healthy.
Another custom is to fetch water from a stream on the night
before Easter Day and to sprinkle it on the sick. April 1st is an unlucky day.
May 1st is a lucky day. Children born on Sunday will be lucky, and May-children
should also meet with good fortune. Friday-children are supposed to be unlucky.
Many farming laws are also based on such customs, and people
predict the weather in the same way. For example if it rains on St. Swithin’s
day it means it will rain for the next 40 days. Fog too early in April means
flood in June, and so we could go on. Yet the words of the Apostle Paul remains
unaltered, “You observe days, and months, and season, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain” ( Gal.
4:10-11). Further-more, scripture calls believers to put on Christ and to set
affects on things above and not on the earth. Imagine the coming year if you
lived for eternity instead of the present. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).
The Prince of Peace
The Prince of Peace
Two families living side by side in the mountains of Kentucky had
been fighting and quarreling for years. The feud started when
Grandfather Smith’s cow jumped over the stone fence of
Grandfather Brown and ate his corn. Brown shot the cow. Then
one of the Smith boys shot one of the Brown boys, in fact, two of them, while the Browns
had shot only one of the Smiths.
Bill, the oldest of the Brown family, decided to even up matters, especially since it was
his own Father who had been killed. But Bill was called away to war. While he was away
his mother had a hard time providing for the family.
One Christmas the head of the Smith family took his wife and children to church.
Usually he stayed outside, but it was so cold he decided to go in and wait. The sermon
was on Christ, the Prince of Peace. It struck Smith’s heart. On his way home he passed
the home of the Browns and he began to realize what a crime he had committed in killing
the breadwinner. He prayed. He did more. He determined secretly to help them. He
hired a small boy to carry a basket of food to the Browns every day.
When Bill came home and heard of this kindness, he decided to find out who the
generous helper was. He followed the little boy to the door of Smith’s house. He could
not believe his eyes. When Smith answered his knock, he smiled and declared: “Shoot
me Bill, if you want to!”
But Bill said he had come to thank him for taking care of his family while he was gone.
Then Smith explained to Bill how he had come to a change of heart. He had heard the
story of the first Christmas, the story of the Prince of Peace. It changed him.
Thomas Carlyle (1797-1881) loved his wife. She loved to help her husband in his writing career. But she became ill with cancer and was confined to bed. Though he loved her dearly, Carlyle was so busy writing that he rarely found time to stay at her bedside.
The day of her burial it rained and mud was deep. After the funeral, Carlyle returned home deeply shaken. He went into his wife’s bedroom, sat down on a chair beside her bed, realizing he had not spent enough time with her in her illness.
From the bedside table he picked up her diary and began to read. One line smote his heart: “ Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like being in heaven. I love him so.” He turned the page and this time his heart was broken, for she had written, “I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.”
Carlyle threw the diary to the floor and rushed back to the cemetery in the rain.
Friends found him face down in the mud of the newly made grave. He was weeping saying over and over, “If I had only known! If I had only known!”
James reminds us of how brief life is when he writes, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). More often than not it’s most likely when something is gone that we realize its value and importance. We become so busy living life and engaging our work that little time is left for what is truly important. The sad reality is that by the time we realize what is important it’s too late. So pay attention to Carlyle’s example. What happened to him can happen to you. Love on your family. Spend your time building relationships, for all too soon life will be over.
The Power of Prayer
The story is told that after D.L. Moody’s
church burnt down in the great fire of Chicago 1871, that he took what was to
be a short, quiet study trip to England. While there a pastor recognized him and
prevailed upon Moody to preach at his church. He preached in the
Sunday morning service and the people seemed indifferent to his words.
But the evening service was completely
different. An observer stated,"At half-past six in the evening, it seemed, while he was preaching, as if the atmosphere was charged with
the spirit of God. There was a hush upon all the people, and a quick response to his words, though he had not been much in prayer that day, and could not understand it."
The response to the invitation was overwhelming and Moody was wise enough to recognize that someone must have been praying. During those ten days, Moody kept inquiring until he found a bedridden girl named Marianne Adlard. She had spent many hours a day interceding for her church.
Sometime prior, she had read an article about an American named D.L. Moody. After reading of Moody's dynamic ministry to the poor of Chicago, she ripped out the article and placed it under her pillow. She began to pray, "0 Lord, send this man to our church."
On the Sunday that Moody just happened to speak at her church, her sister went home and said, "Whom do you think preached this morning?" After Marianne failed to guess, her sister responded, "It was D.L. Moody of America." "I know what that means," cried Adlard. "God has heard my prayers."
Imagine what God might do if we got serious about praying. "You have not because you ask not." (James 4:2)
A Message of Two Crosses
I read the following as part of my devotions and thought it would be well to share with you in the news article. It comes from Max Lucado's "Experiencing the Heart of Jesus.": Jesus' forgiveness is a done deal, accomplished at Calvary. However, "Calvary's trio" of the crosses reminds us we must personally accept that and embrace this gift in our lives.
Ever wonder why there were two crosses next to Christ? Why not six or ten? Ever wonder why Jesus was in the center? Why not on the far right or far left? Could it be that the two crosses on the hill symbolize one of God's greatest gifts? The gift of choice. The two criminals have so much in common. Convicted by the same system. Condemned to the same death. Surrounded by the same crowd. Equally close to the same Jesus. In fact they begin with the same sarcasm: "The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus. But one changed.
One of the criminals on a cross began to shout insults at Jesus: "Aren't you the Christ? Then save yourself and us." But the other criminal stopped him and said, "You should fear God! You are getting the same punishment he is. We are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong." The he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." Jesus said to him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Much has been said about the prayer of the penitent thief, and it certainly warrants our admiration. But while we rejoice at the thief who changed, dare we forget the one who didn't? What about him, Jesus? Wouldn't a personal invitation be appropriate? Wouldn't a word of persuasion be timely?
There are times when God sends thunder to stir us. There are times when God sends blessing to lure us. But there are times when God sends nothing but silence as he honors us with the freedom to choose where we spend eternity.
Have we been given any greater privilege than that of choice? Not only does this privilege offset any injustice, the gift of freewill can offset any mistake.
Think about the thief who repented. Though we know little about him, we know this: He made some bad mistakes in life. He chose the wrong crowd, the wrong morals, the wrong behavior. But would you consider his life a waste? Is he spending eternity reaping the fruit of all the bad choices he made? No, just the opposite. He is enjoying the fruit of one good choice he made. In the end all his bad choices were redeemed by a solitary good one.
No matter how many bad choices you have made in the past, they are redeemed by one good choice— to follow Jesus.
A young man had been appointed by the Foreign Mission Board to go to Africa. The thrill was dampened by just one thing. The girl who had been his sweetheart through the years would not marry him if he accepted the appointment. To all his pleas and reasoning, her answer was a definite no. One month before the time he was to sail he decided to write her one more letter. He hoped something had happened to change her mind. After he wrote it, he added a postscript which read “ If this letter has made you miserable, just throw it in the waste basket and don’t answer it.”
Something had happened, and with a joyous heart she wrote and told him in a dozen different ways she loved him enough to go to the end of the world with him. When she started to the post office to mail it, however, she found it was raining so hard she hesitated, the told her younger brother she would give him a quarter if he would run and mail it. Anxiously she watched and waited for a reply. None came. The months dragged by and then she learned that he had gone without her. Years later, when the family was moving to another house, she found and old coat that belonged to her brother. In a pocket was her letter.
Sometimes opportunity only knocks once. In any given situation you never know if a second chance will present itself. The gospel of Jesus Christ demands due diligence. We must be aware of the opportunities to tell others about Jesus lest they pass us by and we miss the eternal reward of rescuing someone from destruction.
Christ “in you” the hope of glory. Colossians
Imagine a wrist watch
or a clock that makes a ticking sound but does not have a second hand. If this
clock were placed in your hand there would be two ways in which you would be
able to tell whether or not it was working. One way would be to listen to it, and
if you could hear the tick, tick, tick, you would know it was running. The
other way would be to look at the face of the clock and watch its hands. If
they moved, the clock would be working. But because this clock has no second
hand, You would have to watch for several minutes to be sure it was running.
For this kind of clock, the quickest way to know it is working is to listen to
The same applies to
our Christian life. In a matter of a few seconds, people hear what we say. And
from the words we speak, they know what kind of spirit is in us. If our words
are kind and gentle, they know we are a loving person. If our words are angry
or hurtful, they think that we are mean.
Often before a pastor preaches the sermon upon his heart he will ask the
congregation to bow with him in prayer. He will pray something along these
lines: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable
in they sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” That is a good prayer for
everyone to say at the beginning of each day. We want our thoughts and words to
help, not hurt, the people around us. It sometimes helps if we stop and listen
to our words as we speak to other people. “Let your speech be always with
grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought answer every man”
Jesus, quoting Isaiah the prophet said, “These people draw
near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips. But their heart is
far from me. (Matthew 15:8)
Items to Ponder
A man started out as a Social drinker and ended up as a drunk. He had three little boys at home, and they grew up and followed in his footsteps. One day this man took a good look at himself and decided he wouldn’t waste whatever time he had left.
He gave his heart to God, became a good member of the church, and soon had the respect of many people. He went to his sons and talked to them about Christ, hoping to persuade them to become Christians. The boys laughed at the old man. They refused to listen.
With a feeling of much regret the old man said: “ I went too far, stayed too long, and came back too late. My boys followed me into the far country, but they didn’t follow me back home.”
The scripture says: “ For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Romans 14:7). What this verse is saying is that all believers live out their lives accountable to God. The choices we make may have been influenced by various entities but in the end the choice was still ours. The blame really lies at our own feet.
There are two thoughts that jump out at me at this point. As a follower of Christ I am to live my life fully committed to Jesus as my Lord. My living is to reflect His Lordship. I am accountable to Him and if I am living my life in that objective what have I to fear? If my living honors the will of my Lord, then it will I also bless those with whom I walk in this life. The second thought that jumps out regards my influence upon others. The context of Romans 14 has much to do with Christians living out their faith in the presence of other believers. Jesus gave high priority to relationships and taught that the defining mark of His disciples would be the display of love among them (John 13:35). My living matters, both to God and those I call brothers and sisters in Christ. Am I Loving God and loving others by the life I am living? I sure hope so!
Items to Ponder
* Why is it that we are encouraged to eat a lot of natural foods knowing
that most people die of natural causes?
* Why is it that the easiest way to find something lost around the house
is to buy a replacement?
* If quitters never win, and winners never quit, then who is the fool who said, “Quit while you’re
* Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
* All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
* Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and substantial tax cut saves you
* Can we remember if we have had amnesia once...or twice?
* One nice thing about egotists: They don’t talk about other people.
* What is a “free gift” Aren’t all gifts free?
The start of a new year creates cause to ponder. We look back over the past year and ponder
about all the events that have transpired in our lives. No doubt many events were life altering
or life changing forever. We wonder if one aspect had been different maybe the change would
not have been so drastic. We also look forward and ponder what kind of year will this be. The
truth is we have no way to really know yet we still ponder, plan, and hope for the best. So as
you begin this new year and ponder the past, present, and future, and wonder about the ups
and downs, the joys and hurts, hear the wisdom of one who said: “Only one life will soon be
passed only what’s done for Christ will last.” Let’s all make 2016 our greatest year for our
Lord Jesus Christ.
The "W" in Christmas
A father tells the following story that speaks to the times we find ourselves living
in; “My son, Nicholas, was in Kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six
year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.” I
didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to
miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me that there would be a
dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that
evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat
down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.
As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the
floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect
anything other than fun, commercial entertainment, songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So
when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snow caps
upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage held up large letters one by one, to spell out the title of the song.
As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then “h is for happy,” and on and on,
until each child holding his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”
The performance was going smoothly until suddenly, we noticed her, a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding
the letter “M” upside down totally unaware that her letter “M” appeared as a “W.”
The audience of first through sixth graders snickered at the little girls mistake. But she had no idea they were
laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.”
Although the teachers tried to hush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we
all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were
there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
For when the last letter was held high the message read loud and clear: “CHRISTWAS LOVE.”
I believe He still is! For unto us a child was given, unto us a Son is given. Isaiah 9:6
A story is told of a father of a very wealthy family took his son on
a trip to the country with the purpose of showing his son how poor
people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of
what would be considered a very poor family. Especially in light of
the wealth the son seemed to take for granted.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” It was
great, Dad. “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked. “Oh yeah,” said the
son. “So tell me what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that
reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported
lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the
front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and
they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve
others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to
protect us; they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad, for showing me
how poor we are.”
Perspective is a wonderful thing. It makes you wonder what would happen if we all
gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.
In I Thessalonians Paul writes that we are to give thanks in everything. That means that
we are to be thankful for what we have but also for what we do not have. What ever the
circumstance of your life at any given moment could be worse. Your life is always in
God’s hands so be thankful. If God is for you who can be against you!
Spent for Christ
Most of us would like to have that day when we could get up without anything we just had to do. We do feel the pressure, don't we? Yet there is something far sadder than feeling frustrated over having too much to do, and that is getting up and feeling we have nothing to do.
This may be one of the reasons there is such a high percentage of
people who pass away within a couple of years after retirement. It was
Charles Kinsley who wrote, "Thank God every morning when you get up that
you have something to do, which must be done, whether you like it or not.
Being forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self control,
diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred
virtues which the idle never know."
Work does have its own reward, and even if at times we feel like we're
being used, it is better than feeling useless. It was Jesus who said, "I came
not to be served, but to serve, and give my life as a ransom for many" ( Mark
10:45). I can think of no greater way for one's life to be used up than
spending it for the cause of Christ in a world that desperately needs Him.
Saints or Rebels
A little girl asked her mother, "How did the human race appear?" The mother answered, "God made Adam and Eve and they had children, and so was all mankind made."
Two days later the girl asked her father the same question. The father answered, "Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved." The confused girl returned to her mother and said, "Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?" The mother answered, "Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your Dad told you about his!"
Most definitely we humans are an assorted bunch. There may even be justification in accusing some of acting like monkeys. We have all made reference to the black sheep, or the outlaw in our very own family. Such reference may even be true of us. We are all the product of those who go before us and those who influence our thought and opinions. We all possess the potential of being saints or rebels.
Our Creator uniquely created us. We can choose to believe He made us or that we evolved from monkeys. There are many who will argue with every fiber of their being that man evolved from a lower life form. The Biblical account of a creator God will be vehemently denied and opposed. Yet no one can deny that there is something bad wrong with this world of ours. Men can truly act ugly! The
Bible call this wrong sin. I guess for some it's just people acting like their ancestors. May God open our eyes to the truth.
At the conclusion of a sermon a pastor relates the following story. He had been on a long flight from one place to another. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: " Fasten your seat belts." Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please remain in your seat with seat belts fastened."
As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us." And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightening lit up the darkening skies, and within moments the great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.
The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. the future seemed
ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
Then, suddenly he saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes
she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm, when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid." The minister could hardly believe his eyes.
It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, the pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having
commented about the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid. The sweet child replied, "Sir, my Dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home." There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apparently uncontrollable movement. We have know such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky. Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot, He is in control and taking us home. Don't worry!
Field a Team
Behold a ball team went forth to play a game of baseball. Just as the umpire was saying "batter-up" the catcher for the home team arrived and took his place. The center fielder and the second baseman didn't arrive until the second inning. The first baseman didn't come at all, but later sent his regrets saying he had to go to a chicken dinner at Aunt Mary's. The third baseman likewise failed to show up having been up late the night before and preferred to spend the day in bed. The left fielder was away visiting another ball game across town. The shortstop was present, but left his glove at home. Verily, when the pitcher took the mound, he looked around to see his teammates and lo, his heart was heavy when he saw so many empty places in the lineup.
The game had been announced and the visitors were already in the stands to see the game. There was nothing left for him to do but go ahead and pitch and hope for the best. So the pitcher tightened his belt, stepped into position and did his level best to put one over the plate. But for some strange reason he just could not find the groove. Some of his teammates began to ride him for the wild pitches and loud "Boos" began to come from the stands. At the close of the game the home team (what was left of it) was mercilessly beaten. After hearing of the disgraceful defeat, the rest of the team decided that a new pitcher should be hired. It must have been the poor pitching that had lost the game! *borrowed
Behold, a preacher went forth to preach.... but that's another story. "Make the
connection!" It's always a team effort.
The Touch of The Father
Legend has it that a young sculptor, the son of a sculptor, worked tirelessly on a statue but couldn't seem to make it right. As he left it every night, he found that it was marred here and there, with rough spots, ugly lines, little defects that he couldn't seem to correct. But every morning, the defects were gone. During the night his father, a master of the art, would sneak into the studio and correct all the mistakes in the space of a few hours. One morning the truth finally dawned upon the young man, and he cried, "The Master" has touched this!
There are times I look into the mirror and see my father staring back at me, No! I'm not seeing a ghost or hallucinating. I am my father's son. Recently I changed my "Facebook" profile with a picture of my father in his Navy uniform. In the picture he was 20 years old and I wanted others to know about his service to our country. Several of my college friends, who knew me when I was 20 thought there was a striking resemblance. My daughter, Kady thought they were all crazy but she didn't know me when I was 20.
Scripture teaches us that our Heavenly Father is in process of conforming us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans: 8:28-29). God our Heavenly Father literally involves Himself by taking a "hands on," active part in sculpting our lives. Once rough, crude, ugly in life and spirit, we now are being transformed by the touch of the Master's hand. How many times has He cleaned up our mess?
The Gift of Presence
The story is told about a man who stopped at a local flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived some two hundred miles away. As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing. He asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother. But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars.” The
man smiled and said, “Come on in with me. I’ll buy your rose.”
He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother’s flowers. As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home. She said “Yes Please! You can take me to my mother.” She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the red rose on a freshly dug grave. The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother’s house.
The Bible admonishes us to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12). The fact that life is brief and no one knows when death could claim our loved ones, I believe the greatest way to honor them is to bless them with our presence. Just ask anyone who no longer have their parents, what they would do if their parents were still living. Most likely they would say, go see them and spend time with them.
Flowers and gifts are great, but they are much greater accompanied by children and grandchildren. There is not a father or mother alive who would not forego the gift for the presence of a loved one every time. I can’t think of anything I need except the presence of those I love.
So I was thinking—if your mother is still living why not deliver your gift personally. Your presence is really all she wants.
He IS Risen
More than 2,000 years ago something happened that changed the course of history. That “something” was so dramatic that it changed the lives of 11 men, so that all but one died a martyr’s death. That “something” was an empty tomb.
Josh McDowell states that if you wish to rationalize away the events surrounding Christ and His resurrection, you must deal with certain imponderables. (McDowell, The Resurrection Factor, P 64) The body of evidence is so great that you cannot just casually dismiss the resurrection. Even after 2,000 years of investigation, scrutiny, and the attack, the imponderables convinces many to believe.
Virtually all scholars who deal with the resurrection, whatever their school of thought, must deal with three basic facts that relate to the resurrection. These three are: 1. )The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion. 2.) Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. 3.) As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.
Any honest researcher for truth must conclude that the resurrection of Christ is the best explanation for each fact individually. But then, when these facts are taken together, we have an even more powerful case for the resurrection—because the skeptic will not have to explain away just one historical fact, but three. These three truths create a strongly woven, three chord rope that cannot be broken, Jesus is risen indeed.
Under His Wings
The Psalmist in Psalm 91 declares the protective refuge that
God provides for His sons and daughters. Verse four says: “He will cover you
with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”
An article that appeared in the National Geographic, a
number of years ago, provides a penetrating picture of God’s protective covering.
This picture comes to us after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, and
is witnessed by forest rangers who began a trek up a mountain to assess the
One ranger came upon a bird literally petrified in ashes,
perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by
the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck
it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.
The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had
carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her
wings, instinctively knowing that toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown
to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and
the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast because
she had been willing to die so those under the cover of her wings would live.
“What manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us that we
should be called the children of God!” (I John 3:1) Being loved the way God
loves us should make a difference in our lives. So remember the One who loves
you enough to die for you, and then be different because of it.
A nurse took the tired, anxious,
serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here, “ she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several more times before the
patient’s eyes opened.
Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he
dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He
reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old
man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit
beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly
lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and
strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested the Marine move away and rest
He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the
Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital—-the
clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging
greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying
man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released
the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she
did what she had to do, he waited.
Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of
sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked. The
nurse was startled, “He was your father, “ she answered.
“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before
in my life.” “Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew
he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was
too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I
During 2015 you will have many opportunities to
help someone in need. Be there when you are needed.
What is Christmas?
Robert E. Luccock in his book, If God Be for Us, has wisely illustrated the demise of Christmas in the American culture. He tells of an astute photographer who was sent to the School of San San Roco in Italy to get some pictures of the wonderful Tintoretto murals of the nativity. Arriving in Venice this photographer began his assignment. He tried to photograph these exquisite paintings in natural color. He tried with every conceivable kind of light but the colors would not come clear. Upon minute examination it was revealed that these murals of the nativity had been overlaid with four centuries of varnish, dust, and the accumulation of dirt through which the radiant beauty of the original colors could not shine. Only with polaroid light could the photographer get the paintings to come through in their authentic colors to his camera.
This is a perfect analogy to what has happened to the Christmas message itself. The real meaning of Christmas has been overlaid with centuries of sentimental varnish and commercial dust until millions see in Christmas only the sweet story of a baby in a manger for whom we are moved to pity, or the occasion for an organized, commercialized, vulgarized carnival of gaudy splendor.
The true story of Christmas is being veiled and glossed over. We can only imagine what time holds. So we must keep telling the story. We must trust the message and the power of the Holy Spirit who is the only One who can convince a lost man. Christmas is “Emmanuel” “God with us,” who came to save us.
The Real Thanksgiving Story
William Bradford and Myles Standish had much to be thankful for in
1621. Together with John Alden, Priscilla Mullins and the rest of the Pilgrims, who founded Plymouth in December 1620, they had survived their first brutal New England winter.
According to history reporter Peter F. Stevens, writing in “The Indianapolis Star,” only 55 of the more than 100 original settlers had lived to see the first thaw, but their summer labors had paid off with a bountiful harvest. The fields yielded such a surplus that Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. He invited the Wampanoag Indians, who had helped with cultivation of the crops, to join the colonists’ feast.
Four women and two teenaged girls cooked for the colonists and 90 Wampanoags, They begin stoking the fires and arranging giant kettles as four men were sent to hunt fowl. Gathering fresh game, oysters, clams and fish, they were soon ready to begin. With the arrival of Chief Massasoit, five deer were added to the menu.
The feast was not what we think of as Thanksgiving dinner. There were no potatoes, flour, bread, butter or pie. Corn cakes were the bread of the day.
Pumpkin was simply boiled, and there was no gravy of any kind. Some scholars say they made sauce from wild cranberries. But there was no sugar. Unless they found wild honey for sweetener, it would have been pretty tart.
Paintings at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts depict robust colonists in crisp black and white clothing. The truth is they probably wore the best of whatever was available and in a variety of colors.
Having survived starvation, illness, cold and endless toil, they probably looked more haggard and careworn than robust. But it was a true time of thanksgiving. They had survived. They had a bountiful harvest and the future appeared to be possible. With God’s Help, it seemed even probable.
Think of these people on Thanksgiving Day. If your year has had problems, remember the colonists.
They gave thanks though they survived far worse than any of us.
Thanksgiving Day is time to give thanks for what we have and for the work of those who have gone before us, work that helped to create the prosperity we have today. To God we give thanks.
In the Shadow of the Cross
A young man who had been raised as an
atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in
his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really
paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them.
One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college
he attended. The lights were all off, but the pool had big skylights and the
moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by. The young man
climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on
the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall.
The shadow of his body was in the shape of a cross. Instead
of diving, he fell to his knees and finally asked God to forgive his unbelief
and to come into his life. As the young man stood to his feet, a maintenance
man walked in and turned on the lights. The pool had be drained for repairs.
We often question the effectiveness of our
witnessing. Do people really hear us when we share with them the good news of
the gospel? We are so result oriented that we forget that our job is to tell
them and the Holy Spirit’s job is to convince them. We cannot make anyone
respond to the gospel nor should we really want too. We need to trust the message.
It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. The gospel is powerful
because it is the truth that is backed up by the Holy Spirit of God. So let’s
give it out and leave the results to God. One additional point, the Holy Spirit
can’t bless what we will not do. God is in partnership with the redeemed men
and women to tell the world about His Son. He’ll do His part, will you do
A Story of an Atheist
An atheist was walking
through the woods, admiring all of the accidents that evolution had created.
“What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to
As he was walking
alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to
look he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he
could up the path. He looked over His shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing.
Somehow he ran even
faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again and the bear was
even closer. His heart was pounding and he tried to run faster. He tripped and
fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but the bear was right
over him, reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw to
that instant the atheist cried: “Oh my God!... ”
Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. As a bright
light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. “You deny my existence
for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist and even credit creation
to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am
I to count you as a believer?”
The atheist looked directly
into the light: “It would be hypocritical of me to ask to be a Christian after
all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?” “Very well
said the voice.”
The light went out.
The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed, and the bear dropped its right
paw, brought both paws together and bowed its head and spoke: “Lord, for this
food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”
“A merry heart does good, like medicine”
Help in Loneliness
a book Admiral Richard Byrd chronicled his time spent in the Antarctic alone at
Bolling Advance Weather Base. The year was 1934, and for four and a half months
he lived in a small shack, in isolation from his fellow men, buried in the
Antarctic snow. He lived with constant danger and discomfort. However, his
greatest enemy was solitude, “the brain-cracking” loneliness that could never be taken casually.
The Apostle Paul loved
his Christian friend. He was often deprived of their fellowship. Because of
his true witness for Christ, he spent many hours alone in prison. He wrote
letters to his friends, expressing his love for Jesus Christ and for his fellow
believers. He wrote, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you with all the
affection of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:8)
Loneliness of spirit
is as common today as physical hunger, especially in the great cities of the
western world where millions live in quiet desperation and loneliness. In
crowded houses, in vast and over active hospitals, and in huge and impersonal
crowds, people are physically close but separated by vast gulfs in every other
way. Everybody is too busy and too encased in self-interest to reach out toward
each other. So in loneliness millions live and die.
In a lonely world how
vital and relevant becomes the community of believers called “the church.”
Jesus developed an amazing strategy. In every community He planned to place a
small group of people gathered around His risen presence where people could
count and could simply say, “I belong.” Have you given thanks lately to God,
though imperfect as we are, for River View Baptist Church?
Our Creator and Redeemer
Did you know? God’s accuracy may be observed
in the hatching of eggs. For example: the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7
days; those of the canary in 14 days; those of the barnyard hen in 21 days;
those of the mallard in 35 days; the eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch
in 42 days. Notice, they are all divisible by seven, the number of days in a
God’s wisdom is seen
in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend
forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that
this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this
reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.
The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow
rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all
the works of creation.
God’s wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and
segments, as well as in the number of grains. Each watermelon has an even
number of stripes on the rind. Each orange has an even number of segments. Each
ear of corn has an even number of rows. Each stalk of wheat has an even number
of grains. Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of
bananas and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and
the next row an odd number. The waves of the sea roll in on the shore
twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather. All grains are found in even
numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirty fold, sixty fold, and a
hundred fold all even numbers.
God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times
during the day. Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a
conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he
could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those
that were closed!
Your life can be ordered by the Lord in a
beautiful way for His glory, if you will only entrust Him with your life. If
you try to regulate your own life, it will only be a mess and a failure. Only
the One who made the brain and the heart can successfully guide them to a
The Joy of Fatherhood
...And Fathers provoke not your children to wrath but bring them
up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Before having children of my own I was determined to be the best
dad ever. My mantel was going to be lined with those “greatest, #1 dad ever,”
trophies. I was also determined to have the best behaved children who would
never be permitted to act like some of the children I had witnessed. Not my
Then I had children, three to be exact, and my eyes were opened to
the task of raising children. Being a father is hard and speaking into the
lives of your children is not only a daily routine, it is a lifetime task. It’s
amazing to me how children can come from the same parents, be brought up under
the same environment and yet be so different. One child can be compliant while
another stretches the boundaries to the limits. They might even resemble each
other in many physical attributes but in personality and emotional response be
as different as day and night. One, you might can speak to and it be
sufficient in discipline but to another you can come close to murder and still
find it’s not enough (Pun intended). Whoever said that parenting was not for
the timid was right. You must be persistent and consistent.
Some of the greatest joy I have ever
experienced in my life has come from watching my three girls become young
women. There have been numerous battles over clothes, make-up and behavior. I
have made many mistakes and felt that I was learning fatherhood as I went
along. My mantel is not filled with the “best dad ever” trophies but nothing
fills me more than knowing that I am the father of Kady, Kelly and Abby, and
hearing them call me dad.
Happy Father’s Day!
Recently a public man
was introduced as a “self-made” man. Later he began to think about the question
of being self-made. Was he self-made? Who gave him his fine physique? Whose
blood flowed through his veins? Who gave him his sense of honor and integrity?
When he thought about what he had inherited, he began to think of his mother
and came to the conclusion that it was she who placed whatever crown he wore
upon his head.
Herbert Spencer was
one of the great minds of his generation. He excelled in science, philosophy,
education, logic, history and religion. Toward the end of his life he wrote his
autobiography. In that he wrote of his mother: “She was a woman of ordinary
intelligence and of high moral nature. She was never sufficiently prized. The
world is divided into two classes: those who deserve little and get much, and
those who deserve much and get little, and it is a source of unceasing regret
to me that my mother belonged to the latter class.”
The reward and honor due to most mothers is not immediate. Appreciation
is a learned behavior that often takes years to learn. It’s often after we are
grown and gone that we recognize the influence of those who have invested into
our lives. So while you’re facing the rigors of raising family, with little
thanks and appreciation, do it faithfully knowing that the reward will come
much later in life. But until that day comes, and I believe ultimately it will,
maybe a simple “Happy Mother’s Day” will suffice.
Trusting the Father’s Will
A truth that life has
taught me, more than once, is that hind sight is always perfect. When you face
a conflict or are in the midst of a trial, uncertainty abounds. Even though
you are convinced of the sovereignty of God it is often hard to see the “good”
in all things. In trials the stress level rises when you are treading in the
Usually it is only
after the conflict subsides that you are able to trace the hand of God. There
you stand before Him, somewhat, ashamed for your lack of faith and trust. Hopefully,
you have grown and can rejoice in the lessons you learned, though at the time
you could find no reason to rejoice and even doubted and wondered if you would
The writer of the
epistle to the Hebrews tells us that it was “for the joy set before Him, that Jesus endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Even before the trial of the cross
began He looked toward it with joy. As a matter of fact it was joy that caused
the endurance. And the cross was an endurance because it was a slow death
filled with shame and suffering. Jesus endured because the accomplishment of
such endurance could not be achieved any other way. Jesus had joy in the coming
cross because He understood what was on the other end when it was all over.
The conflict, pain, and shame were the pleasure of the Father and Jesus desired
nothing more than pleasing Him. He endured the cross because it was His
Father’s will and he delighted in obeying His Father. The death, burial, and
resurrection resulted in man’s salvation, but Jesus’ ultimate joy was the
exaltation His obedience would produce. Jesus saw clearly long before the trial
of the cross its complete outcome, so with joy He endured. Jesus died for our
sin and arose to declare victory, to the delight of the Father who proclaims to
all, “this is My Son in whom I Am well pleased.”
Learning To Back Up
ago when speaking on the subject of marital happiness, the late Marshall
Keeble said, "The trouble with married folks is they don't know how to
back up. They have a fuss and nobody is willing to back up and say 'I was
wrong."' As he reflected on the foolishness of that practice, he went on
to remark, "Brethren, I just wouldn't have a car that wouldn't back up."
human relations problems could be settled if people could find the
"reverse position in the gearbox of their minds. I wonder how many church
splits could be avoided had contentious brethren been willing to back up.
Parents and children could alleviate some of the difficulty encountered in the
generation battle simply by learning to back up.
It is not a mark of
wisdom or maturity to stand like a stone wall when you are wrong. The mature
person owns up to his wrongs. He is not too big to say, "I'm sorry, please
forgive." James writes, "Confess therefore your sins to one another
and pray for one another that you may be healed." (James 5:10 He is
telling the Christian that it is spiritually healthy to back up.
Why is it so hard to back up? What causes a person to insist on saving
face? The answer is human pride and selfishness. Satan uses these tools to
deceive us. The man who will not back is deluded. He thinks he is right. He can
give a hundred arguments in defense of his position. Little does he realize that
he has fallen victim to Satan's trickery. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of
a fool is right in his own eyes." The way out of human conflict is simple
and so easy to see in the lives of others; yet so hard to practice on a
personal level. We need to back up!
The Prayer of an Anonymous Man - June 2013
Lord Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing old and some day will be old. Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to try to straighten out everyone’s affairs. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details, give me wings to get to the point. I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others pains. Help me to endure them with patience. But seal my lips to my own aches and pains, they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint, some of them are hard to live with, but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Amen.
I wonder do you ever find yourself doing or saying some of those annoying things you promised never to do or say when you get old. Life is sometimes funny isn’t it? What goes around, comes around. Often when I look into a mirror I see my Father, and sometimes, when I speak, I hear him. He’s 90 and he would say that getting old is not easy. But, if it’s the Lord’s will, maybe you’ll get your chance one day, and let’s see then how you handle it! Lord please help!
A Mother's Work - May 2013
Deuteronomy 32:11 is a song of Moses that Portrays the image of God as the Mother eagle “that stirs up its nest, spreading out its wings catching them.” This is a picture of little eaglets whose time has come to leave the nest. And the mother is pushing them out. First she stirs up the nest. With her mighty claw she reaches down through the fluffy down and pulls up the thorns which are part of the structure of the nest, making it very uncomfortable. Then she pushes her young out of the nest and they fall toward the ground, fluttering unable to fly. She swoops under them and catches their fall and repeats this until they are able to fly on their own.
A good mother doesn’t want her young to go on being dependent on her, and so she prepares them to leave the nest and for a life of independence. Nurturing the young, teaching them by precept and example, and training them in the affairs of life is what parenting is all about. God is liken unto a mother, the mother eagle who wants those eaglets to be independent and to get on with life. To be sure, we will never come to be independent of God for life depends on God. But we can and should grow into mature human beings and live responsible lives.
A mother’s work is never done! But the purpose of her work is to teach and to train her young so that one day they can stand on their own. In this sense God is like our mothers desiring that we grow in His truth and that truth shapes and molds our lives. A mother’s work and God’s work is really never done.
More than A Parade - April 2013
A little country boy saw a poster announcing a circus coming to his county seat town. He had never seen a circus. He counted the days. He saved his money. On the last night he could hardly sleep because he was so excited. He was up at the crack of dawn. He stood along the street to watch the circus parade. He saw the lions, tigers, and bears. He saw the beautiful horses, the tremendous elephants, the acrobats, the jugglers, the clowns, and the circus band. His eyes were large and glistening, and he was thrilled with it all. When it was over, he stepped out of the crowd, handed the last man in the parade his money, and went back home. Not until years later did he discover he had never been to a circus and never been inside the big top. He had only watched the parade.
Christianity is far more than the high points. To follow Christ is a life journey that takes commitment and faithfulness. It’s a day in day out resolve to be more than a spectator. Yet, so many, would be follow, are contented to be nominal and merely watch as the parade goes by. Christmas and Easter are truly Times to be remembered and celebrated, but for so many that’s all there seems to be to this Christ life. They come to the parade but never enter the big top.
As a believer and follower of Christ you need the church and the church needs you. Jesus saw the importance of the local church in the life of His followers. The church would b e the place of fellowship, prayer and instruction. To love Christ would find its reality in loving the church. It’s impossible to love Christ and not love what He died for. If I were to measure the love some claim to have for Christ, by their apparent love for the local church and their involvement in it, it would be suspect to say the least. You cannot love the Head and not love the body! The church is the body of Christ. If you are a part of the body, stop trying to amputate yourself. Commit, be faithful, the body is only as healthy as you are healthy.
Outrageous - March 2013
A Greater Service - February 2013
Read the Book of Books - January 2013
Nine year old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday School. "Well mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army to build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved."
Now, Joey, "is that really what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked! "Well, no mom, But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"
The Bible is the Word of God. It is God breathed and it's human writers were super tended by God. The very words, down to the letters, are inspired by Him. In the Bible we have the very heart and intention of God. Therefore, it is totally trustworthy and authoritative. The pages of scripture reveal a God who is all powerful, all knowing and ever present. The God of the Bible is never short on acts that are glorious and miraculous. From the moment of creation to the last amen The Bible reveals a God like no other. He is unique and no one is like Him or above Him. Certainly, we would expect nothing less from the One we call God. By definition alone He is the supreme and ultimate reality. He is perfect in power, wisdom and goodness. He is to be feared and worshiped by all.
The Bible is an amazing book. It is filled with miraculous stories that reveal a God who is truly God. And the most awesome truth is that this God wants to intersect with your life. Each time you open the pages of Scripture you will find that God meets you there. So why not plan and spend the coming year reading all the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, get to know your God. While doing so you just might discover much about yourself.
A Greater Dream - December 2012
I think that it is every parent’s dream to make life for their children better than it was for them. I sometimes wonder if we have reached the pinnacle of that dream. How much better can we make it? And if we can is it really a good thing? I’m not so sure that all we are actually creating is a generation who believe that they are entitled to all that has been given to them.
When I was a boy, Christmas was always looked forward to with great anticipation. It seemed to take forever to get here and yes, “the gift thing” was much of the cause for excitement. But in those days gift giving was limited, especially when there were multiple kids calling for a piece of the pie.
I can remember hearing my Father say, and many from his generation, that often they were lucky to get a piece of fruit or a piece of candy. So, naturally my Dad sought to do better for us, and yet that is still nothing compared to what we try to do today.
Sometimes I’m perplexed by all the stuff we have. Yes I am grateful, and very much aware how things make life easier. But at the same time, I think we need to heed the warning of Solomon of Old who said “the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12). The more you have, the more you have to care for and worry about. Our life can become consumed and controlled by our possessions. Even Jesus said that where your treasure is there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
It’s good to dream. Its even good to desire better for your children. But we fail them if in our dream for them, all we are doing is creating a generation who believe they are entitled to all that is given to them. Would to God, our dream for them would be to give them Jesus, the greatest gift of all. Would to God, that each of you pursued for your children to know God, like you do other things in life. Maybe I’m just dreaming!
Yes, God is Good - November 2012
The declaration that “God is good,” along with the community response, “all the time” can become cliché and its meaning trite. Even well meaning people can say and practice things without much thought or gratitude. We can become robotic and merely recite what we are told. So, is God really good?
The goodness of God, according to theologian Wayne Grudem, means that God is the final standard of good and all that God is and does is worthy of approval. God Himself is good and all that He does is good and everything that is good must be measured by His standard of goodness. If God is eternal and the creator of all things, and scripture declares that He is, then He is the definer of what is good and sets the standard of good because He is the ultimate good. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “No one is good but God” (Luke 18:19). The Psalmist also joins this affirmation by declaring, “the Lord is good” (Ps100:5), or exclaims, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” (Ps. 106:). David also encourages us when he says, “O taste and see that the Lord is Good!” (Ps. 28:8). God is good and goodness cannot be understood apart from Him.
So then we ask, What is good? “Good is what God approves because He is good and the standard of all goodness. Actually, God is the height of goodness and reigns there supremely because no one is above Him. Yes, God is good and only does good things. That is why scripture says, “that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and come down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
If you just look at your life, God’s goodness to you should be very evident. You are alive, breathing, clothed and well fed. You live in America, have a family and great friends. And if you know Jesus, you have the greatest expression of God’s goodness to be known. So be thankful to God for all the goodness in your life and the next time you hear someone say God is good don’t let a mere trite cliché be your response. Say it with all your heart.
Giver? Receiver? - October 2012
Be Like Jesus - September 2012
Passing Time - August 2012
Make It Count - June 2012
A Heart for God - May 2012
Raised To Life - April 2012
“Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.” These are words often sung with little attention. Revival is an act of reviving, or the state of being revived. It is actually a renewed attention to our interest in something. In the spiritual sense, and that is where the word is used the most, it means a renewed interest in the things of God. To be revived spiritually seems to be a constant need among us. It’s easy for us to become distracted. Often we find ourselves cold and indifferent, and the love we once had for the Lord Jesus not the same. Our zeal and devotion are challenged by other loves and interests. God help us?
The hymn writer expressed this sentiment very succinctly when he wrote, “Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Life can capture our heart and before we know it good things can take the place of best things.
I don’t believe it is ever our intention to stand in need of revival. It would be great if the fire continually burned. But the fact that we do cannot be argued. We are in a spiritual warfare. A great battle is being for our heart and devotion. Satan, the world, and our flesh desire to consume us and control us. Often it appears that they are winning.
The hymn writer who penned the words above about wandering and leaving concluded that stanza with the words, “Here’s my heart, to take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.” Understanding the tendency to wander and leave should drive us to our knees. Knowing the potential within us to coldness and indifference should cause us to stand guard and be vigilant in the battle. We must do all we can to make certain God has our heart.