Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Heselden had owned a Segway for years before recently taking ownership of the company. It is only speculation concerning how he met his fate, but local law enforcement ruled out foul play. Maybe it was careless or reckless behavior, inattention, or a momentary lapse of judgment. But, the machine carried him from time to eternity.
How many have taken sin for a ride and met a similar, spiritual end? David took hold of sin and he said, "My iniquities have overtaken me" (Ps. 40:12). Peter spoke of arrogant individuals, consumed with fleshly desires, "promising (those who barely escape from error, NP) freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19). These have confidence enough to buy into this spiritually impoverishing product, and they await a horrific end without repentance (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Segways look pretty harmless, but former President George W. Bush nearly had a run-in with one. Piers Morgan, then Daily Mirror editor who ridiculed the President for crashing on one, crashed on one himself and broke several ribs in August. Many have broken bones, citing it as unstable at times.
Sin is deceptive. It can seem so harmless and benign. But, if we take hold of it, we are setting ourselves for great pain or worse. We do not want to make the segue from time to eternity still embracing and clinging to sin. Let us cling, instead, to our Savior.
mountain 14,000 feet or higher in elevation). However, if you count
automobile climbs, I have done multiple 14-ers. It is such a never-ending
joy to look out and see those beautiful Rocky Mountains. Often, I tell my
family that they are "calling" me (that's Pollard speak for, "I want to go
hiking or get up in those mountains").
The relatively little hiking I have done at higher elevation, however,
reminds me of the fitness level and stamina needed to accomplish the task of
mountain climbing. While the thought of ascending them is enamoring, you
cannot wish your way to the top. Spiritually, it is fair to consider many
aspects of our Christian life to mountain climbing. People often speak of
goals, struggles, and temptations as being a mountain to climb. We can
observe the rigors of literal mountain climbing and see similarities between
that and the figurative.
Mountain climbing is strenuous. It requires cardiovascular fitness and
mental strength to climb a mountain. The altitude gain and loss take their
toll. Terms like lung capacity and lactic acid build up depict hard work.
But, consider the figurative mountains we must climb. Dealing with matters
that have long been neglected leave one with a higher mountain to climb.
When one stops neglecting it and starts climbing it, he finds out what a
challenge it is combatting fear, stress, opposition, criticism, and more.
Doing the right thing is seldom the easiest way to go; it is so often the
Mountain climbing can be hazardous. Yesterday, Colorado had its second
hiking fatality on the same peak in the southwestern part of the state.
There have been three fatalities on Longs Peak alone. A ranger who works on
that peak said, "Accidents can result from underestimating the difficulty of
the climb, wearing the wrong footgear or simply having bad luck" (via
eptrail.com). People die of cardiac episodes, falling rocks, and
hypothermia. Yet, people in large numbers keep climbing. That tells me
that they feel the risk is worth the perceived benefit to these hearty
hikers. Likewise, the mountain climbs of our lives are often fraught with
peril. Like Caleb's desire to take those literal mountains in Joshua 14:12,
we undertake our climbs because we are after an inheritance. What is
threat, persecution, or worse compared to realizing the hope of heaven?
What sin, trial, or discouragement is worth foregoing the climb?
Mountain climbing is advantageous. It puts one in a superior position.
That may be "bragging rights," the satisfaction of achievement, or the
quality of physical life through fitness. Again, people would not struggle
through the strain and hazard the hazards if there was no perceived
advantage. Those of us who climb the mountains present in church life, in
relationships, in personal trials, and the like are seeking victory. The
greatest advantage we bring to our climbs is Christ! Paul says we can make
all things happen through Him (Phil. 4:13). We can taste victory through
Him (1 Cor. 15:57).
Monday, September 27, 2010
This past Sunday during my Bible class, wherein we were studying the passage in Proverbs 20:10, a discussion arose about "standards." For our editorial lesson today I'd like to pursue that topic a little further by combining it with something I watched a while back and then tie both to our current situation and, if successful, realize a spiritual lesson.
First, a few words on "standards." On just about every occasion in the Bible, the word "standard" relates to the definition of a "flag" or a "banner" or a "signal." As in, something to rally around. Something that defines a particular place or area. That definition can fit with our thoughts here today, but there's another definition that also can be used and that is the one that relates a "standard" to a "measure." As in, something that we are to "measure up to."
Now here's the important thing about "standards." They have to be "set." They have to be "fixed," as in always be the same, or in the proper location. They cannot be changeable. They can't vary or be moving around. Either of our definitions fit with this thought, don't they? If the "standard/flag" is not fixed in its place, how is anyone going to know where they're supposed to assemble, to come to? If we're talking about a "standard/measure," how can one compare something to a varying "standard" of length, width, weight, conduct, morals, ethics or anything else which we need as a guide? Simple answer to those questions, you don't and you can't.
Okay, now let's look at a little history that I found interesting and I hope you do too. I was taking a "virtual tour" of our nation's capitol building the other day and some things were pointed out by the tour leader, a Mr. David Barton, that I found extremely interesting. In the rotunda of the capitol is a copy of the first Bible printed in English in the United States. I know, what with the way our national government works (or doesn't work) you're probably surprised to know that there actually is a Bible somewhere in Washington DC.
But, that's not the interesting thing here. What borders on amazing is, that this particular Bible was printed by the United States Congress in 1782. The records relating to this edition of the Bible contain in them this citation: "A neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of our schools." Come again! For use by who? By what? Our nation's schools? Wow, doesn't that just baste your turkey?
You know what else is interesting about this Bible in the rotunda? Inscribed on the inside of the front cover, written by the founding fathers of our nation, are these words: "Resolved, the United States and Congress assembled, recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States." What an interesting and inspiring thought. That the first English language Bible printed in America was endorsed by Congress for the nation's citizens and for "use in our schools."
Based upon the climate of our government and its citizenry today, it would appear to me that our "standards" have changed over the years. Have not remained "fixed." I mean, we started out as a nation basing our laws on a "firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." Our founding fathers believed in the "superintending Providence of God." They made the statement that they believed that "God governs in the affairs of men" and they prayed daily for His guidance in making our laws and in forming this nation.
They also said, in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that our rights are expressed therein because they were "endowed by their Creator." I firmly believe that our nation started off having as its "standard" the precepts found in God's Word. And I also firmly believe that America has not held to that "standard." We've allowed it to be changed. We've moved it around to suit whatever happens to be convenient at the time.
Let me provide you with one more example of how much, as a nation, as a society, we've gotten farther from the "standards" that we began with. Here again, I learned this from my virtual tour of the capitol building. I did not know this and I hope you find it as interesting as I did. Did you know that our nation's capitol served for almost a century as a church building?
In 1800, when Thomas Jefferson was President, he ordered that on Sundays, when the Congress wasn't in session, that the capitol be used as a church building. It's said that about 2000 people per week met there for worship services and this lasted for almost a century. Here's something else I found interesting because you hear people say that Jefferson, if not an atheist, was at least anti-religious. For the four years that he served as President, he attended church services in the capitol.
Well, what about our current situation? How far have we digressed away from the "standards" with which we started. In the beginning we had a Bible printed by the founding fathers, endorsed by Congress for use in the schools and recommended for all inhabitants. Now, you can't even mention anything "religious" in schools.
Wait a minute! That's wrong. I should have said that you can't mention anything to do with "Christianity" in schools. You can talk about and study Islam, you can have Hindu sayings present and Buddhist posters on the walls. We are now a nation whose government says that you can't have a "nativity scene" in public, but you can celebrate Aztec religious ceremonies. (San Jose, Ca.)
Today, we can talk about, demonstrate and have open Muslim worship services in the streets, but don't you dare offer a prayer to God or Christ before a sporting event. Don't you dare attempt to start a Bible club on a school campus. I have no doubt that you can have a Muslim club and the reason I have no doubt about that is, some schools are already altering their class schedules to accommodate Muslim students who want to pray to Allah several times a day.
Yes, we have to have "separation of church and state" but, in practice, that means "separation of Christianity and state." From some of the recent events around the country it appears that I'm not the only one interested in seeing our nation return to its "standards." I just hope and pray that, as a nation, we haven't gotten so far away from God and His "standards" that we won't "return" to those "standards" and let Him "heal our land." (2Chron. 7:14)
Friday, September 24, 2010
business firm's money. When this action was discovered, the young man was
told to report to the office of the senior partner of the firm. As he walked
up the stairs toward the administrative office, the young employee was
heavy-hearted. He knew without a doubt he would lose his position with the
firm. He also feared the possibility of legal action taken against him.
Seemingly his whole world had collapsed.
Upon his arrival in the office of the senior executive the young man was
questioned about the whole affair. He was asked if the allegations were
true, and he answered in the affirmative. Then the executive surprisingly
asked this question: "If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust
you in the future?"
The young worker brightened up and said, "Yes, sir, you surely can. I've
learned my lesson."
The executive responded, "I'm not going to press charges, and you can
continue in your present responsibility."
The employer concluded the conversation with his younger employee by saying,
"I think you ought to know, however, that you are the second man in this
firm who succumbed to temptation and was shown leniency. I was the first!
What you have done, I did. The mercy you are receiving, I received. It is
only the grace of God that can keep us both." *
None of us is "the first" to make some terrible mistake, "for ALL have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). That fact does
not excuse us from our misdeeds, but it does reveal the NEED that each of us
has for mercy. Due to our sin, each of us deserves the penalty for sin:
DEATH (Romans 6:23).
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
loved us" (Ephesians 2:4), provided the Solution to our dilemma. He gave
His Son Jesus to die on the cross as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
God will save those who: place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), who turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), who
confess Christ before men (Romans 10:9-10), and who are baptized (immersed)
into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Won't YOU accept His mercy and grace by trusting and obeying Him today?
Then, won't you extend the same mercy to others?
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7).
David A. Sargent, Minister
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Someone placed a wooden ladder on a window ledge above the church entrance. And it has been there ever since. It must not be moved. According to one account the window belongs to the Armenians. The cornice on which the ladder rests, however, has been assigned in the status quo to the Greek Orthodox. As a result the ladder must not be removed because it sits on property of the Greek Orthodox (and only the Greek Orthodox can go there and change anything on it) but leans on property of the Armenians (and only Armenians can alter something that touches the window). Neither group therefore controls the ladder, nor may either remove it (Danny Herman, "Who Moved The Ladder," Biblical Archaeological Review, Jan/Feb 2010, 14).
While it is sad that many wish to venerate material objects and give special significance to material relics, there is something sadder still and something that is a problem broader than Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Have you ever seen anything insignificant and non-essential cause strife, hurt, hardship, and division in a congregation? Too many times, matters equally as trivial and pathetic as a ladder on a ledge of a building has broken fellowship between God's people.
Mankind is so incredibly divided over a multitude of matters of truth. Man has instituted his own doctrines and beliefs where Jesus was crystal clear. There should not be division over our worship, how to be saved, or who is the saved because Jesus has clearly spoken on these matters. While these manmade divisions will cost millions their souls, what about other incidents which do not constitute a situation of faith versus opinion. What about when our division is over a matter of opinion versus opinion, judgment against judgment, and feelings facing feelings? Too often, the differences that causes individual congregations to feud and even divide amount to little more than a ladder propped against a window. When one asserts his window and another his cornice, are we not walking like mere men (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-3)? Strife and jealousy do not belong among the people of God. May we strive for the spiritual maturity to see and practice that.
must fall." Well, it rained on me this week! Someone hacked into my web
pages and set up a Phishing scam in the program. The first I knew of it was
when my Web Hosting Company shut down my sites for a violation of their
rules. After an hour or so on the phone I did manage to get my email address
restored, however my website is no longer there. So, I begin again
rebuilding the websites. I probably needed to do this again anyway. I
actually hired a company to design my website the last time, but they are
not responding to my inquires, so it looks like I am on my own.
One thing you learn, if you have been on the Internet very long, is that at
some point something bad is going to happen. If you don't get hacked by some
pirates, you get spammed or your identity stolen or your hard drive crashes
or something similar. Much of my effort in the past has gone into trying to
be secure from those types of problems. I have Anti-Viral programs, spam
filters, and spyware detector programs. I back up all of my work regularly
on CD's and contract with an online company to keep a backup of my entire
computer and every email I receive is checked before it is opened on my
The question is I guess is: Do I feel safe concerning my computer and
information? As I write this, a spyware detector is running on my computer,
so the reality of it is no I don't.
Isn't it great however that there are some things about which we never have
to worry, that we can actually feel safe? Yes it is! My wife and I won a Hot
Air Balloon trip recently and we took it this week. A friend asked, "Did you
pray before you went up?" To which I responded, "No, we are ready to go
(die) at anytime!"
Granted there are lots of things we still want to do and see in this life
and we wouldn't choose to leave this earth right now, but if it happens,
it's OK, because we are ready. We feel safe! We don't have to worry about
any hackers or spyware concerning our faith! By not worrying, I don't mean
that we aren't concerned or that we don't take precautions! The apostle Paul
tells us about preparing and taking precautions in Ephesians 6:10-18. Notice
what he says:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full
armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the
full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to
stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm
then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate
of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that
comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield
of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil
one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the
word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of
prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying
for all the saints."
So, if you want to stand strong, if you want to avoid getting "Spiritually
Hacked," put on the full armor of God! Then, when someone asks if you are
afraid to die, you can truthfully say, NO!
Russ Lawson, Messages From The Heart
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* Third Street is on the edge of town.
* You don't use your turn signals because everyone knows where you're going.
* A baby born on June 14 receives gifts from local merchants as the first
baby of the year.
* You speak to each dog you pass by name and he wags his tail at you.
* You dial a wrong number and talk for 15 minutes anyway.
* You can't walk for exercise because every car that passes you offers you a
* In order to paint traffic lines, the road has to be widened
* The Mayor is also the Sheriff, Town Council and street sweeper.
* There is no town idiot -- everybody has to take turns.
* You can name everyone you graduated with.
* You have to drive an hour to buy a pair of socks.
* You get a whiff of manure and think of home.
* You fix yourself up to go buy groceries lest anyone starts the rumor that
you have gained weight or quit taking care of yourself.
* Friday nights fun consisted of standing in line for the one-screen theater
and when it is sold out, watching truckers and drinking coffee at the truck
stop (the only place open after 10).
* Someone asks you how you feel and listens to what you say.
There are certainly some disadvantages to growing up in a small town,
but some advantages as well. Especially when it comes to having people
around you who truly care. In a large city, it's easy to find yourself
surrounded by a sea of nameless faces. That is something that we dare not
allow to happen in the church.
The 16th chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans is important, though
you may have previously overlooked its significance. The chapter consists
of a series of greetings, most of them to people whose names we can't even
pronounce. No less than 28 members of the church in Rome are mentioned by
name. Why? Perhaps Paul wanted to remind this group of Christians in a
large city that they were not nameless faces -- they were part of God's
family. We not only mean something to God, we mean something to one
another. It's a "small town atmosphere" even in a "large city church."
"Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren
who are with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and
Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a
holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you." (Rom. 16:14-16)
Monday, September 20, 2010
The heartiness of the racers is what seems most impressive. A column written in memorial to Garin just after his death said of him that "In that era, Garin rode a bike as heavy as lead, which demanded enormous strength, power and will. He rode more on pure strength than suppleness. His almost inexhaustible energy let him win the toughest races" (Woodland, The Unknown Tour de France, Van der Plas Pub., San Francisco, 9). They raced through night, stomach cramps, falls, flat tires, sabotage, cheating competitors, and falling asleep from exhaustion. Racing at the height of the industrial age, they were held in fascination by especially Europeans almost as if they were machines, part of the steel-framed bikes they pedaled.
These athletes had a high price to pay for competing in this now renowned race. The Bible compares the Christian life to a race (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24). It indicates that it is a race requiring endurance (Heb. 12:1), self-control (1 Cor. 9:25), success (Gal. 5:7), and purpose (1 Cor. 9:26; Gal. 2:2; Phil. 2:16). Many have paid the ultimate price in the process of running (Acts 7:59-60; 12:2; Rev. 6:9) and just standing up for one's Christianity has proven costly in the past (Heb. 10:34). Jesus affirmed that following Him comes with a price, but look at the price He paid for us (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23).
We are called to complete this race, enduring and overcoming whatever difficult obstacles arise. It takes focus and desire to stick with it! Just remember that prize we receive for winning far exceeds anything we can even imagine now (2 Tim. 4:8). Whatever rises to meet you on this road, keep going until you reach the end of the course!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
A man opened a new business and his best friend sent him a floral arrangement. The friend dropped by a few days later and was sorry to see the flowers had a card that read, "Rest In Peace." He called the florist to complain, and the florist said, "It could be worse. Somewhere in this city is an arrangement in a cemetery that reads, "Congratulations On Your New Location." Spiritually speaking, the same message could be sent to those who have died to sin and been buried with Christ in baptism. Romans 6:3-4 reminds us that baptism plays a vital role in changing our spiritual location! That passage reads, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." A simple and unbiased reading of this passage makes clear that baptism is a burial that blesses!
Baptism blesses first of all because it is "into Jesus Christ." Spiritually speaking, there are and always will be only two spheres of spiritual existence: either "in Christ" or "in the world." The difference in these two spiritual locations in writing is a matter of only a few letters, but the difference in reality is incalculable. Salvation is "in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:10); eternal life is "in His (God's) Son" (I John 5:11); every spiritual blessing is located "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3); and for those who are "in Christ" there is now "no condemnation" (Romans 8:1). The list could go on and on, but those who are "in Christ" are in a sphere of comprehensive and superlative spiritual provisions! Contrast that to those who are not in Christ: "without Christ .... having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
Baptism blesses again because it is "into His (Christ's) death." That is, baptism gives us access to the benefits of Christ's death! A bank may have millions of dollars in its vault. But all that money helps an individual not one bit unless he/she can access it. Baptism buries us into Christ's death, thereby giving us access to all the things Jesus died to accomplish for us (forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, etc.).
Baptism blesses yet again because after burial into Christ's death we are raised to walk in "newness of life." Baptism is a tomb where we bury the old man of sin. But it is also a womb from which God raises us to "newness of life." While debates about baptism continue among believers in Christ, the Bible clearly portrays baptism as a burial that blesses!
Check out the new *Greek word study blog* here: http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/
Remember how, in some past editorials, I've used a word that is sort of uncommon in our everyday verbiage and mentioned that I like using them as a basis for my lesson? Well, whether you remember that or not, I do like that method and that's what I'm going to do here today and today's word is - "epiphany." And notice that it's the one starting with a little "e" and not the big one.
I said that it's an uncommon word however, here lately I've heard it used several times by the news media people and political pundits. When you look at the definitions of the word "epiphany" you can easily understand why those two types make use of it. There are several definitions of the word but the ones I like and I'll use here today are: a "revelation," a "manifestation," and a "visualization."
Using writer's license, I've added my own definition to the list and that is: an "awakening." And, since we're using big words today, allow me to "elucidate" further, in the sense of an illustration, by telling you of an "epiphany" that I recently experienced.
I spent the last few days riding my ATV all over the mountains and valleys of central Utah and it was while riding along on one of the scenic trails/roads that I had my latest "epiphany." (Oh, I've had many of them in my life, such as working on our washing machine without unplugging it.)
It was a gorgeous fall day and the road was nice and level for a change and I came to a "cattle guard" and, expecting it to be like all the other "cattle guards" I had crossed that day, I just barreled on without slowing down. Little did I know that this particular one had what is commonly referred to as "speed bumps" on either side of it. As I was flying through the air, not gracefully either, and made somewhat of a controlled-crash-landing is when my "epiphany" entered by mind. Needless to say, it was a true "awakening."
Well, let me see if I can tie my "epiphany" in with a scriptural lesson here and, if I'm able to do so, then perhaps my sore hands, arms and neck will have been worth it. I'm going to do it by using two opposing thoughts, or positions, in which some people find themselves. And, I'm quite sure that you've encountered both of these types of people just as I have and is the reason why I thought about them.
The first type of person I'm going to mention is the one that feels as if they are so much of a sinner that they can't be saved. That say, "I've lived such a terrible, sinful life that I'm beyond redemption." Perhaps they've even lived a life of crime. They say, "I've just done too many bad things in my life. I've committed too many sins to be forgiven." Basically they see themselves as undeserving of forgiveness.
Then, there's the other type of person and I personally feel that they are in more danger of eternal destruction than our previous type. These are the ones who think that they have no need of being forgiven of anything. That they see themselves as already righteous because they're not an evil person, they're not a criminal. They don't participate in "bad things."
Maybe they even occupy a prestigious position of some sort. A position of honor and respect in society. This type of person just doesn't see themselves as needing God. They don't see a pressing reason to seek forgiveness because they are honorable, law-abiding citizens and God can see this. And, because they are "good people," they already consider themselves worthy and deserving of salvation.
I once read a little story about a highly respected Superior Court Judge who was attending worship services one Sunday and was seated next to a former criminal that just happened to be one that the Judge had once sentenced to prison for several years. Throughout the service, neither seemed to be aware of the other.
After the service had ended, the minister and the Judge were walking together and the Judge asked, "Did you see who was sitting beside me during the service?" The preacher said, "Yes, but I didn't know that you noticed him." After a few more steps and moments had passed, the Judge said, "What a miracle of grace." The minister agreed that it certainly was a "miracle of grace."
The Judge looked at the preacher and asked him, "To whom are you referring?" whereupon the minister replied, "Why, to the conversion of the convict sitting beside you." The Judge said, "I was referring to myself, not to him." He went on to explain his reasoning this way: he said, "It didn't cost that convict much to get converted from his former life. He had nothing before but a life of crime and when he learned about Jesus Christ he recognized that there was salvation and hope and joy for him. And he knew how much he needed that help and forgiveness."
The Judge then told the preacher, "But, look at me. I was taught from infancy to be an honest and good citizen. That my word was my bond. I went on to college and law school and got my degrees and eventually even became a Judge. Nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was a sinner on a level with that convict sitting beside me. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-deception, to get me to admit that I was no better in the eyes of God than that convict that I sent to prison."
What a tremendous "epiphany" on the part of the Judge. What a great "visualization" of what his true position was before God. These two men fit in the mold of our two "types" of people we mentioned earlier. Here's my thought and lesson here regarding them: both types are wrong in their thinking and, as long as they remain in their respective positions, they will be eternally lost.
What both of these ways of thinking needs is what the Judge came to realize - they both need an "epiphany." They both need an "awakening" to their unsaved situation and make the necessary changes in their lives in order to receive the "grace of God." It wouldn't hurt all of us to have this "epiphany."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
1. Promotes an evil message. It presents evil as good. This can be done by celebrating sins, such as lying, stealing, murder, fornication, or adultery. Sin is presented in an attractive way.
2. Uses an evil method. Regardless of the point of the story, the performers are made to behave in ways that are shameless and immoral. A story may lead to the conclusion that adultery is bad, but if we must wallow through a sea of flesh to reach this conclusion, the work qualifies as worldly.
No matter how excellent the production or acting, no matter how true the moral of the story, if something promotes an evil message or uses an evil method, the discerning Christian will avoid it. And it doesn't matter how many awards it has won! Joshua Harris, "Half A Poison Pill Won't Kill You," Not Even A Hint, 123
"For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men
He says that the kingdom will be occupied by those who "become as little children." In Mark 10:14 Jesus tells His disciples, in speaking of children, that "of such is the kingdom of God." Now, we can't turn back time and regress in age, can we? So, what's Jesus trying to get across to His listeners here? Probably one of the easiest explanations of His point is found in 1 Cor. 14:20 where it reads, "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."
The word "malice" simply means "meanness" or "evil intent." A child isn't born with those qualities, they learn them. Jesus is telling us that Christians are to possess those qualities of children in their adult personalities. To lose their ideas of "hatred," of "harmful intentions," of "getting even" from their manner of life.
That, to me is why children are such great examples and teachers to us "old folks." Why we can just watch them and listen to them and learn great lessons. For the rest of today's editorial, I'd like to relate a couple of stories to you, inspired by the actions of kids. One is a personal experience and the other written by a nurse at Stanford Hospital. I hope you benefit from them as much as I did.
First is my personal experience. As most of you know, last week I had to visit the dentist's office. Having avoided this trip for several years, I definitely wasn't looking forward to it as I knew that they would have a "field day" with me. I complained loud and long to anyone who I thought would care and of course, received no sympathy. Especially from my wife who simply told me I should have done it a long time ago and if I had I wouldn't have to be so worried. So, I buckled down and went dutifully to the dental office at the appointed time.
Oh, I put on a brave front when called to "my cubicle" and wouldn't you know it, right behind me came two little girls about 6 & 7 years old. They put one in the cubicle on the right of me and the other on the left, about 2 cubicles away. Their mother was with them and had to keep going back and forth between the two to try and keep them calm and unafraid. She should have forgot about them and concentrated on me, because they were doing just fine. I was the one doing everything I could to NOT think about that gigantic needle about to be stuck in my gums and the high-speed drill going to work.
The girl on my right never made a peep, even when the dentist gave her "the needle." Being the brave adult that I am, and having already had my needle, I was going to look over and reassure her that everything would be fine. When I looked over to my right, she just looked right back at me and smiled and waved. I think she knew who needed reassuring. But, it was her sister that provided all the strength and reassurance a person could ever need.
The dentist apparently had several patients in various stages of work during this time, and myself and both the little girls were in a waiting stage. I was just about numb enough to start the drilling and was again getting that nervous feeling, when the neatest thing occurred and I forgot all about my coming ordeal. From my left, a couple of cubicles away, came the sweet voice of a little girl singing, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. . ."
For a moment you could hear a pin drop. You could hear loud sighs from other cubicles and then one of the assistants started singing with her. There is no way that I can adequately describe the feeling that came over that entire office when that little girl started singing. Isaiah said in Isa. 11:6, ". . . and a little child shall lead them." Jesus said, in reference to an Old Testament passage, these words in Matt. 21:16, ". . . out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." Can a little child lead them and can children perfect praise? You bet they can!
Our closing story involves the courage of children, along with their unwavering faith. A little girl was in Stanford Hospital, suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance for recovery would be receiving a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother. See, he had survived that same disease, therefore he had developed the antibodies necessary to defeat it.
Well, the doctor sat him down and explained the situation as best he could to a 5 year old, and then asked him if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The teller of this story was present during this conversation, and said the little boy hesitated for just a minute and then said, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liza."
They set everything up and started the transfusion, with the two kids laying side-by-side in their beds. The boy looked at his sister and smiled at her and all could see the color returning to her face as the transfusion progressed. The little boy then turned back to the doctor and his smile faded away. With a trembling voice he asked, "Will I start to die right away?"
Being only 5 years old, he never really understood what the doctor had told him and thought that he was giving his sister "all of his blood." The nurse was later asked about the courage it takes to do her job and she replied that she had "learned courage" having had "inspiring teachers."
weren't getting along. As time went by, this began to spill over into the
One week, the preacher preached on commitment and how we all should
dedicate ourselves to the service of God. The song leader led the song, "I
Shall not be Moved."
The next week, the preacher preached on giving and how we all should
gladly contribute to the work of the Lord. The song leader led the song,
"Jesus Paid it All."
The third week, the preacher preached on gossiping and how we should
all watch our tongues. The song leader led the song, "I Love to Tell the
With all this going on, the preacher became very disgusted over the
situation and the following Sunday told the congregation that he was
considering resigning. The song leader led the song, "Oh Why Not Tonight?"
As it came to pass, the preacher did indeed resign. The next week he
informed the church that it was Jesus who led him there and it was Jesus
that was taking him away. The song leader led the song, "What a Friend We
Have in Jesus."
I have several brethren here in Fayetteville that do an excellent job
picking out songs to go with my lesson each Sunday morning, so I hope none
of them ever gets mad at me! :-)
As is obvious above, the words of songs have meaning. The songs that
we sing provide us a wonderful opportunity to express our praise to God, as
well as to encourage one another. The Psalmists certainly recognized that
great truth as they exhort us often to offer the fruit of our lips to the
glory of God.
"Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing
praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with
understanding." (Psalm 47:6-7)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Perhaps front and foremost in the minds of most Americans right now is the economy. With Congress having passed the largest spending bill in the history of our country, the increasing loss of jobs, and the fact that Wall Street as well as the overall economy plunging to new lows, many economic "advisors" are scrambling to determine the best course of action to take, and what recommendation to make to their clients regarding their investments. The rule of thumb when it comes to investments is to maintain "consistency" don't jump "in" and "out" of the market; just remain consistent in the ups and downs of a market economy and the give and take of the economy will usually balance out in the long run. In the final analysis, however, no one knows what the future holds and the best we can do is use what wisdom the Lord gave us to guide us in our decisions. Unfortunately hind-sight is always better than fore-sight, and our timing in matters pertaining to the material has a lot to do with whether we come out in the positive or suffer with others who have lost their life's savings in such times as these. Someone has pointed out, "Life is all about timing; the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable attainable! Have the patience, wait it out. It's all about timing." Of course those words of wisdom were addressed to precisely what I was speaking about above. But permit me, if you will, to make a little different application of those "timely" words.
You and I are limited by time. We are moving from the "now" to "what shall be." Our "tomorrow" quickly becomes "today" and "today" is soon in the "past." So quickly do the days, weeks and years pass that we respect the words of Moses with increasing appreciation: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten, Or even by reason of strength fourscore years; Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow; For it is soon gone, and we fly away" (Psa. 90:10). Time is a precious commodity that each of us has in equal proportion. We are all given 24 hours in the day, and 365 days in a year. We are admonished in Scripture to redeem the time wisely. This simply means I am to buy up the opportunities that come my way, and select with great wisdom and prudence how, and upon what, I will spend those precious hours in each day. There is an accumulative effect of the use of time. For example, in an average 70 year life span, the average person will sleep more than 23 years of his life away (assuming 8 hours of sleep per night). Over that same 70 year life span you will spend roughly 14 years working, 6 years eating, and 5 years traveling (fortunately, not all at once). By the same token, time wasted has an accumulative effect, and over the long haul will rob us of a great deal of what could otherwise be significant accomplishments. Think, for example, about the time we spend watching television. The average American (according to those infamous "polls") watches TV 6 hours per day. Now that really seems a little high, so let's reduce that by 30%, and use a bench mark of 4 hours per day. That amounts to 28 hours per week, 1460 hours per year, for an accumulative total of more than 72,000 hours in 50 years. Whew! It staggers the imagination. That is more than 8 years of television!
Now, in comparison, let us consider the "average" time spent in spiritual matters! If we were to begin the day of our birth spending five minutes each morning and evening in prayer and meditation (which is more than most people spend), and three hours per week in church, at age 70 we would have invested a total of just over 20 months!
Someone has said, "There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week's value out of a year while another man gets a full year's value out of each week." What can be said of the year is just as true with regard to the week, and even our day by day activities. "We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work" (John 9:4). I leave you with the words of an unknown poet:
When as a child, I laughed and wept,
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked,
When I became a full grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find in traveling on,
Time gone!by Tom Wacaster
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Yesterday was 9/11, the anniversary of that terrible day when over 3,000
Americans were murdered by Muslim Extremist. Many of us saw again the
terrible pictures or watched replays of the video clips showing this
terrible event. I like many of you saw these things and was reminded of how
fragile our lives really are and just how much a few people can change the
lives of many.
I purchased a new American flag to display in front of our house. I want
everyone to know how much my wife and I love our country and that we will
not forget this terrible act of terrorism against our county. Did you fly
Sometimes it is necessary to make a statement, to let others know that you
do take sides that some things are important enough for you to possibly make
yourselves targets for those who might seek to intimidate or terrorize you.
At some point you must believe strongly enough to do something, even if it
is only to fly your flag! We must do some thing, even when our president and
major news networks refuse to "take sides" with the vast majority of
Americans, because they "don't want to offend anyone."
The principal is no different with our Christianity! We have too many
"silent" or "secret" Christians in our world. They don't speak up for
Christ, don't demonstrate their faith, and don't take a chance at sharing
Christ, because they "don't want to offend anyone."
Christ, who is our example and who we are to emulate (Philippians 2:5)
didn't have that problem! Yes, he was loving and caring, but he was also not
afraid to step up and speak out for God whenever he got the chance. Yes, he
sometime offended those who were caught up in a different way of serving
God. Whether it was the Pharisees' or Scribes or political leaders like
Kings or tax collectors, he took a stand for God. He did what needed to be
done and said what needed to be said. He carried the banner, the flag of God
for the entire world to see and never apologized or backed down for taking
his stand for what was right. No, rather, he prayed to God the Father that
He would forgive those who rejected him, tortured him and eventually killed
Many people believe that Christianity is passive, and to a certain degree
that will work. But we sometimes sing the song, "Soldiers of Christ Arise
and put your armor on," because at some time we must realize that we are at
war with Satan, his influences and those who follow him.
So again, not only, did you fly our flag, but do you fly your flag daily!
Not just the flag of our great country, but the Flag of Faith, the Banner of
Christ that proclaims to all around us that we are willing to be seen as
someone who takes a stand for what is right. Not apologizing for God's word,
not holding back on proclaiming what God has told us, because we "might
Paul writes to the Christians in the city of Ephesus: "Wherefore take unto
you the whole amour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil
day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore" (Ephesians 6:13-14a,
"Having dong all to stand, stand therefore," one translation says, "having
done all, to keep your place. Take your place," how are you doing at taking
and keeping your place in God's army?
Could it be time for you to fly your flag, declare to the entire world who
and what is important to you?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Everywhere we look, we are surrounded with forms of media. Movies, TV, music, video games, Internet, and other forms of media are booming. Unfortunately, in order to achieve something that is unique and draws interest, companies are going further than they ever have before, and this is not a good thing. These forms of media are purposely made indecent in order to achieve the "shock" value. Since most people, especially teens, are so enveloped in these, it can be difficult to know what is appropriate.
Thankfully, with the advancement of the media, there have been some very smart people who have developed websites to help us filter through what we should be seeing, playing, listening to, etc. While there are hundreds out there, I wanted to highlight 3 of these sites and show why they are a great resource.
1. Common Sense Media (Click Here): Common Sense Media is probably my favorite overall resource for checking the content of nearly all forms of media. They check the content of movies, video games, TV shows, music, web sites, and even books. They break down these forms of media into 5 categories to watch out for (Violence, Sex, Language, Consumerism, Drinking/Drugs/Smoking). They give a rating from 1 to 5 depending on how much each of these is found in it. They also give a more detailed description of what is found in the TV show, movie, web site, etc. Overall, this is a great resource and is a good way to check a lot of different types of media in one spot.
2. Kids-in-Mind (Click Here): Kids-in-Mind deals specifically with movies. They break down each movie into three categories (sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity) and give a rating from 1 to 10 depending on how much of each of these is found in the movie. This is a resource my wife and I use constantly. One time some non-Christian neighbors of ours asked us to come watch a movie with them. We had never heard of this movie and so we looked it up on kids-in-mind. When we did this we found out it had blatant nudity and well over 100 swear words. When we told our neighbors about this, they decided to watch the movie without us anyway and later informed us that they had turned it off half way through. These types of invites seem to happen all the time with people. You may have had something similar happen to you before. With this site, we can know exactly what is in the movie and decide if it is acceptable or not.
3. What They Play (Click Here): What They Play deals specifically with video games. It has game reviews for many games on the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PC, DS, and even the iPhone. This site is not quite as "user-friendly" as the other two but is the best I have found dealing with video games. It essentially gives about a page-long review dealing with what the game is about, why it is rated what it is (Mature, Teen, etc), and some possible question marks that may be found in the game. The video-game industry is absolutely booming, but in order to maintain this, they have had to add more language, more sexual content, and more violence/gore to keep the audience interested. There is much more questionable material found in video games than most people think. This is a great resource to use.
One of the best ways our culture draws us away from God and to the world is through the media. It is easy to let a little bit of indecency into our lives and become use to it. However, with these three sites (and others), we can be much more careful about what our family watches, plays, listens to, and reads. Brett Petrillo
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has
been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his
birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be
remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and Maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more
than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but
overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy
charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from
school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding
an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job
that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent
to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform
parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and
criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar
in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to
realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her
lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his
wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you
still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
at you? Our lives and actions can often tell those who have never met us
formally, what we are really like.
I read about a robber, Clive Bunyan who robbed a store in Cayton, England.
Before he entered the store he put on his motorcycle helmet which had a dark
full face cover shield, so he felt protected from identification. He entered
the store and ordered the person behind the counter to empty the cash
register. He then ran out and hopped on his motorcycle and took off.
To his great surprise, it wasn't long after he returned home that the police
were knocking on his door. What gave him away? It seems that in large
letters above the dark faceplate was the name of the owner, Clive Bunyan."
A couple of scriptures came to mind as I read the above story. One of my
favorites is Matthew 5:16 where Jesus warns us, "In the same way, let your
good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your
heavenly Father. Then there is Romans 13:13 where Paul writes, "Because we
belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't
participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual
promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.
What people see when they look at you? We may think that we are anonymous,
that they really can't tell anything about us, but as the old saying goes,
"actions speak louder than words." I don't know about you but sometimes I am
a total failure at letting the name, "God's Child" be seen on my face. More
often than not I project the darkened faceplate that I think keeps people
from seeing the real me. What is it that gives away your real nature? What
are you projecting? What is it that is out there for all to see?
news organization several years ago:
A 24-year-old man in Shanghai tried to sell his soul on China's most
popular auction website and managed to get 58 bids before operators pulled
his ad. The man posted his announcement on Taobao (a site similar to eBay)
last week asking a starting price of 10 yuan ( 1.23 US dollars). But the
company decided that selling one's soul was inappropriate and deleted the ad
on Friday. By then there were 58 bids from people with the highest at 681
yuan (84 dollars). "We pulled down the posting because we think only God
can control souls," said Taobao's public relations manager Tao Ran.
Why would a man agree to sell his soul for as little as a dollar and a
quarter? The truth is, I'm not all that surprised because I know of others
who were willing to sell their souls for a measly amount. Judas was willing
to do it for thirty pieces of silver. For Achan (Joshua 7), it was a robe,
five pounds of silver and a bar of gold. For Elisha's servant (I Kings 5),
it was 150 pounds of silver and two sets of clothing. For Esau, it was a
bowl of soup.
If you're willing to be even more honest, you know that there are
people all around you who have sold their souls for something of little
value. Maybe you've even done it yourself. Maybe you've spent so much time
making money to gather "the finer things of life" that you have no time or
energy left for God. Maybe you've cheated others (like the IRS or health
insurance companies) thinking they'll never miss it and no one will ever be
the wiser. Maybe your desire for riches has clouded your judgment and
caused you to do something that has damaged your integrity.
Jesus once said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole
world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his
soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
The question was intended to be rhetorical. There's nothing in this
world (nor everything in the world combined) that begins to equal the value
of your soul. Bill Gates and all of his fellow billionaires don't have
enough money to even make an opening offer. So, don't ever put a price tag
on your soul. Not on eBay. Not in your workplace. Not in your daily life.
Someone has composed the following "Top Ten" list of signs you may not be reading your Bible enough:
10) The Preacher announces the sermon is from Galatians..... and you check the table of contents.
9) You think Abraham, Isaac & Jacob may have had a few hit songs during the 60's.
8) You open to the Gospel of Luke and a WWII savings bond falls out.
7) Your favorite Old Testament patriarch is Hercules.
6) Your favorite Bible verse is "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
5) You become frustrated because Charlton Heston isn't listed in either the concordance or the table of contents.
4) You catch the kids reading the Song of Solomon, and demand: "Who gave you this stuff?"
3) You think the Minor Prophets worked in the quarries.
2) You keep falling for it every time when the preacher tells you to turn to First Condominiums.
And the number one sign you may not be reading your Bible enough:
1) The kids keep asking too many questions about your usual bedtime story: "Jonah the Shepherd Boy and His Ark of Many Colors."
It's hard to over-estimate the importance of reading and studying the Bible. God's Word is our source of spiritual nourishment, our light in the midst of a dark world, our mirror to see what needs to be corrected in our lives. And yet, it is so easy to let other things get in the way and interrupt time we have wanted to dedicate to Bible reading.
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." (Psa. 119:97)
Have you read your Bible today? --Alan Smith
Monday, September 6, 2010
Word (John 16:8), many will say something like, "When I am able to get my
life straightened out, then I'll get baptized and start going to church."
The result is that it never happens, and they die lost. Why? We are told in
Romans 8:13, that it is "by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the
body." Your spirit wars against your flesh so that you cannot do what you
want (Galatians 5:17). You need the strength of God's Spirit (Ephesians
3:16), to be victorious in your battles against fleshy desires (cf. 1John
5:4). Christians have an inner strength that is absent in non-Christians,
and that inner strength comes from the Spirit whom God gives to all who obey
Him (Acts 5:32). The Spirit is given at the moment one repents and is
baptized into Christ for the remission of his past sins (Acts 2:38).
When one repents, he is sorry that he has sinned against God, and
determines in his mind from that point on to begin obeying the word of God.
Once that takes place, that one will want to obey the Lord and be baptized
into Christ (Romans 6:3-4), where there is salvation (2Timothy 2:10). When
one is scripturally baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), he then receives
a "gift." That gift is the Holy Spirit whom God gives to the individual as
a guarantee of inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). And, it is the same Spirit that
helps us destroy the "works of the flesh" (Romans 8:13). You cannot do it
alone! Don't put it off. Don't wait. Make the determination to begin
obeying God's will today (2Corinthians 2:6d).
Sunday, September 5, 2010
First off, I'm going to offer you my opinion on something and that is; I think that the wherewithal to "look ahead," to consider the consequences of our actions, is an acquired ability. I don't think that it comes naturally or by accident. I see it as sort of like our conscience, it has to be trained. Allow me to provide a couple of quick examples for you to consider as evidence of my thinking along this line.
There are many examples we could consider here, but I'm just going to mention two with which, by usage and experience, I'm familiar. The first one is being an aircraft pilot. (At least I used to be - ah, the good old days.) One of the lessons you learn in flying airplanes is, they don't stay up there forever. You have to come down and land that baby on a little patch of runway. Hopefully in a successful manner, and if you can "grease it on" so much the better. (Pilot's lingo, I love it)
Now here's the point of this example: in order to hit that little patch of runway you've got to be thinking ahead of the aircraft. There are actions that need to be taken at certain points before you get to the airport in order for your airplane to arrive at the ground at the precise time and place. You can't delay or put off the actions or your landing will not result in the successful kind.
But not just landing requires a "looking ahead." All the time you're up there you are "looking ahead." You are constantly aware of what's out there ahead of you and you are mentally preparing for something to happen that you hope doesn't. This "looking ahead" ability doesn't come natural in flying airplanes - it's acquired by constant training and practice.
My second example is the game of chess. I used to play a lot of chess and, what with all my games played, I probably reached the player level of "mediocre." But, here again, the game of chess requires that a player "looks ahead" and plans their moves way in advance of the moves they are currently making. There are chess players who can look at the opening move of their opponent and "see" the entire game played out "ahead" in their mind. These are the really good ones.
The point of my chess example is: this ability of "looking ahead" in regards to future moves is an acquired ability. Like flying airplanes, it only comes with lots and lots of practice and playing the game. Okay, let's switch to the spiritual aspects of our lesson here today.
"Looking ahead" is simply being aware of the consequences of either our actions or our non-actions. Of being able to mentally say to yourself, "If I do ______ what will happen?" And then, when the consequences are realized (seen), taking the appropriate course of action. Before we leave the physical/temporal aspect of our lesson, let me make another connection here. Think about the idea of "warnings" and the thought of "being aware" or more simply - "beware."
We're warned, "Don't drink and drive!" Why not? Because bad things can happen. We can be arrested or can be involved in an accident. Perhaps a tragic accident. Or, "Beware of ice on the road/bridge." Not a big problem in So. Cal. but certainly is in many other areas of the country. Why beware? You can lose control of your vehicle or, again, have an accident. IE: Bad things can happen. The consequences can be tragic.
When I turn to Biblical examples and passages that support our subject, I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say that there are many available. What I think I'll do is look at this from the standpoint of "warnings" and how they were either heeded or not and the consequences of whatever action was done.
Our1st Biblical warning is found in 2 Kings 6 where we see Elisha sending the King of Israel a message, warning him to not go by a certain location because the King of Syria had set an ambush for him there. The King of Israel heeded the prophet's warning, didn't go there and thus "save himself." (Vs. 10)
The 2nd Biblical warning involves our old buddy Noah. Hebrews 11:7 tells us that he was "warned of God" of perils that had never before been seen on the earth and we see that Noah believed God's "warning," was obedient and thereby saved himself and his whole family.
I'm going to return to our original thought of "looking ahead" for the rest of our spiritual application today. "Looking ahead" requires the same ability of us in spiritual matters as it does in the temporal examples I cited. When we "practice" (study) we develop the ability to "look ahead" in our spiritual lives. To consider, to be aware of the consequences of our spiritual actions or non-actions. And, as seen in the consequences of either flying or chess playing, do we end up with the result we'd prefer - a safe landing or a game winner.
This "looking ahead" may require one to "repent" of past actions with the idea of "looking ahead" to making the right moves, spiritually speaking. By the way, do you know what the definition of the word "repent" is? Most people answer, "to turn away from" and that's not all wrong but, the true definition is: "to change your thinking." I remind you of this because, "looking ahead" is really "thinking ahead" and we need to remember that our actions come from our "heart" (mind) so the proper order is to change the way we think and our actions will follow.
The apostle Paul says that we're "not to look back." That if we do, we're "not fit for the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:62) The writer of Hebrews tells us that the proper way for Christians to "look ahead" is to be "looking to Jesus" (12:2) and in verse 15 tells us that we should be "diligent" in "looking to Him." I think that Paul could have been a pilot based on his words in Phil. 3:13-14. He said, I'm not there yet, but I'm not looking backwards. I'm pressing forward. My attention, my eye is on the "prize" up ahead. That's where I'm looking, where my planning is headed.
Let me close with something we find in Ezek. 33:4-5 that I feel relates to our lesson today. The prophet tells Israel that "when you hear the trumpet (the warning) and you don't heed it - your blood will be on your own head." But then he says, "If you do heed the warning, you'll save your soul."
Christians are the "pilots" who make successful landings. Who are expert chess players that win the game, the "prize." Because they study, they practice, they learn to "look ahead" and realize the consequences. Just remember, consequences work both ways. For those who "look ahead" and for those who don't.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
An ever-increasing majority is denying the reality of Hell, a place of eternal punishment for those who reject the will of God (cf. Matthew , Revelation 21:8). So, let's address the question: "Is Hell a reality?"
We are told in Nahum 1:2, as well as Exodus 20:5, that God is a jealous God. However, if there is no Hell, what is God jealous of? If there is no Hell, then everyone will die and go to Heaven, so what is God jealous of?!
If there is no Hell, then there is no Devil, because Jesus said Hell was created for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Was Jesus just "joking" when He made that statement? And, therefore, if there is no Devil, then there is only one Master to follow and that would be Jesus, so what is God jealous of? Jesus Himself said that all are following one of two masters (Matthew ). If Jesus was lying, then that means everyone in the world, regardless of how they are living, are, in reality, following God! And if everyone is following God, what is He jealous of?!
The truth is that God IS a jealous God (Deuteronomy ), and the only thing He could be jealous of is losing you to someone else, and that someone else necessitates Satan, which in turn necessitates the reality of Hell (Matthew 25:41).
If there is no eternal Hell, then for what reason did Jesus leave Heaven, come to earth, and die on the Cross? He said He came to "seek and save the lost" (Luke ). But, if there is no Hell, from what does He save us? If there is no Hell, then God saves us from nothing! If God saves us from nothing, then God's mercy and grace have no value.
In Romans 6:17, Paul wrote to the Christians at
If there is no Hell, then what did Jesus mean when He said:
* "cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30)? What place was He referring to?
* "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46)?
* "The hour cometh when they that have done evil will be raised unto the resurrection of damnation" (John -29)? What is this place of eternal damnation, if it is not Hell?
* "those that know not, and those who obey not the gospel will be on the receiving end of God's vengeance" (2Thessalonians 1:7-8)?
* "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night" (Revelation )?
If anyone claims there is no Hell, then they will have to disprove all these Scriptures (and many more). In order to disprove these Scriptures, they will have to prove that the Bible did not come from the mind of God, and that can't be done! People have been trying to do that for 2,000 years -- they've all failed. As someone wisely said, "The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers."
The truth is: Hell is a reality, and all accountable people will go there who don't commit themselves to Jesus Christ in faithful obedience during this life.
(...continued in the next article)
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