Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
In the current issue of Think magazine (February, 2012), Richard Sutton writes an article entitled "Discipleship: A Lifelong Pursuit" (pages 24-25). In that article, he tells us about making a mission trip to Africa and asking some students about snow. They had seen snow on TV but had not actually felt it. The class guessed, based on its appearance on TV, that snow felt like salt. They had never felt snow before.
Years later, a friend of Sutton from Cameroon - Jean Claude Ethe - visited Loveland, CO. Some Christians took him to the Rocky Mountain National Park. For the first time, he experienced snow first hand. He was shocked, Sutton writes. "The texture, the feel, was unlike anything he had ever experienced, but now he knew snow in an intimate way, something his fellow Cameroonians had not." Sutton then asks some questions. How would Ethe communicate his knowledge of snow to his fellow citizens?
The same "challenge" was presented to God when He made man. I put challenge in quotation marks since nothing is really a challenge to God. But, accommodatively, how could God communicate Himself to mankind?
The answer? He would become man. One member of the Divine Family took on flesh and pitched His tent alongside humanity (John 1:14). Frequently, Jesus made comments similar to those made to Philip in John 14: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."
The Hebrew writer wrote: "In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His name, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (1:2-3).
If we truly want to know the God of the universe, we need to study the character, nature and behavior of His beloved Son.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
are?" I know that's been directed at me on occasion during my youngster
years. Usually when I had operated, let's say, beyond the scope of my
authority. I thought about this question when I happened upon a little story
told by the great opera singer, Enrico Caruso, who at the time was a famous
person and pretty much known worldwide.
He said he was in the United States on a tour and was driving through the
Wisconsin countryside when he realized that he was lost. He stopped at a
farm house to ask directions and for a drink of water to slake his thirst.
The farmer was very friendly and since it was about noontime, he was invited
to stay for the midday meal, which he did.
After the meal was over and he was preparing to leave he thought it might
please this family to know just who it was that they had entertained, IE: a
highly celebrated personality. So he told them his name. The farmer was
flabber-gasted and said to his wife, "This is a great thing. Who would have
thought that I would have as a guest in my house the great explorer -
Mr. Caruso reported this as being a very humbling occasion in his life. But,
haven't we all been humbled on occasion ourselves? But, not only does it
humble us, it sort of wakes us up to the fact that maybe, just maybe, we're
not as important as we might think we are. And furthermore, does it really
matter "who we are" as far as the world is concerned?
In order to take this little story and make a spiritual lesson from it, I'm
going to go first to a teacher of righteousness, also known as "The
Preacher," who, besides being inspired by God, is probably more qualified to
speak on this subject as any other Bible author. Of course I'm referring to
Solomon. Let's look at a truth that he tells us in Eccl. 5:16-17. This is a
great passage to instruct us as to how much our earthly status amounts to.
"As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and
shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. This
also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is
there to him who toils for the wind?" (ESV)
If you've never considered this before, isn't it a shocker to find out that,
as far as your "earthly" value is concerned, you'll leave this world no
better than you came into it? However, "spiritual" value is another thing
and that's going to really be the gist of our lesson today.
Yes, when we make our final departure, like the Bible says, our bodies will
return to the elements from which they originally came. You know, "dust to
dust, ashes to ashes." (Gen. 2:7 and Eccl. 3:20)
But "spiritually" this isn't the case. In Eccl. 12:7 we read there that our
"souls" come from God and that is where they return after departing the body
of "dust." There it will be housed (if that's a suitable allegory) in one of
two places to await the final judgment.
I doesn't matter who you are as a human being nor what you attained as far
as rank, position, fame or "earthly" value. Or how important you are to your
fellow humans. What matters is what your soul is to God. What it's condition
is when God gets it back. Also consider this; by keeping your "soul's"
condition acceptable to God, your earthly person will be an asset and
acceptable to the world you live in.
You see, when God gave you your soul it was pure. It had no blemishes or
warts. It wasn't soiled or dirty in any way. It was perfect. Therefore, the
most important thing in our lives is the condition of our soul when we
return it to "He who gave it." IE: will it be clean or unclean? Will it be
washed and pure like "snow" (Ps. 51:7)? Or, will it be filthy from the dirt
and grime left on it by the sins of the world?
One of the terms the Bible uses in relation to the "soul" is the word
"garment." That's a great analogy when it comes to a lesson such as we're
looking at today. If you believe that it is of utmost importance to "clean"
your "garment" then it would stand to reason that how that cleansing is
accomplished is also of utmost importance, wouldn't it? Let's talk about
that a moment.
First thing to know is, that the method, the cleansing agent, so to speak,
was not left up to us. Just like labels for cleaning that we find on our
earthly garments, we're given explicit and "immutable" (another Bible word
meaning "unchangeable") instructions as to how our "souls" are to be
It's in Rev. 1:5 that we find the "agent" that is specified to be used for
the laundering of our "garments." "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful
witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the
earth. To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
To fully understand what is said in that passage, and to see more detailed
instructions per our "garment's" label, follow these directions: Acts. 19:5
tells us that "baptism into the name of Jesus Christ" is required and then
in Acts. 22:16 shows us that it is by this action that we "wash away our
sins." One more passage that is beneficial here is the one in Gal. 3:26-27
where we're told that by being "baptized into Christ" that we've "put on
Christ." And, by having done that, we're counted as being "Children of God."
If we try cleaning our "garment" using any other method than that specified
by The Gospel, no matter how sincere we are about our "washing," it will not
work. Man did not make our soul, therefore man cannot dictate how our soul
is to be cleansed. Only the "Maker" of the "garment" has that authority.
Should someone attempt to clean their "garment" by any means other than God's
instructions, I'm afraid that they'd be like the thought expressed by
Solomon; they might as well be "toiling for the wind" for all the good it
will do them. Or, as said by Christ Himself, "In vain do they worship
Me...... " (Mt. 15:9)
In closing, let's turn that thought around and look at how effective our
"cleansing efforts" will be if we do them as the Lord instructs: "Therefore,
my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work
of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1Cor.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
more important to the ship. Failing to agree, they resorted to a unique plan
of swapping places.
The chief engineer ascended to the bridge and the captain went to the engine
room. After a couple of hours the captain suddenly appeared on the deck
covered with oil and soot.
"Chief!" he yelled, wildly waving aloft a monkey wrench. "You'll have to
come down here; I can't make her go!"
"Of course you can't," replied the Chief. "We're aground!"
This argument between the captain and the chief engineer - and its results -
mirrors the struggle that you and I face when it comes to who is in charge
of our lives.
Jeremiah spoke the truth when he wrote: "O LORD, I know the way of man is
not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps"
(Jeremiah 10:23). In fact, when you and I seek to take control and direct
our own ships, we often "run it aground," for "There is a way that seems
right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
We need direction! The real issue is LORDSHIP - who is going to be the lord
of our lives - ourselves or the Lord?
God has made His Son Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Jesus died on
the cross to become our Savior - to pay the price for our sins. Then Jesus
rose from the dead three days later. Now, He lives to be our Lord!
It is ONLY when we submit to Christ as the Lord of our lives that He can
save us from sin and lead us to eternal life. Following any other way leads
to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus said, "Not everyone who SAYS to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the
kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew
To confess Christ as Lord AND to have Him as our Savior requires that we
place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in
repentance to follow Him (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Him before men
(Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness
of our sins (Acts 2:38). Confessing Christ as Lord also requires that we
continue to follow Him faithfully.
"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not DO the things which I say?"
Don't run aground! Submit to the Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ! He will
lead you to eternal life in the beautiful port of heaven.
Won't YOU submit your life to THE Lord?
David A. Sargent, Minister
Friday, February 24, 2012
One might ask why God reacted in what the modern mind sees as a harsh way "simply" for steadying the ark after the oxen stumbled. In 1 Chronicles 15, several inspired answers are given. First, David said it was "because we did not consult Him (God) about the proper order" (13). In other words, Israel took it on themselves to move the ark-which they knew as the residing place of the glory of the Lord (1 Sam. 4:22; cf. 2 Sam. 6:2)-without regard to how God commanded it to be done. Jeremiah says that it is not in man to direct his own steps (10:23). Second, they had gotten away from their spiritual roots. In this case, their spiritual roots were what "Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord" (1 Chron. 15:15). God had an established, authorized way to carry the ark which the writer reviews in this verse. On this occasion, they did as Moses revealed. "The Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles" (15a). Finally, they tried to get by on self-reliance (26). Their newly rediscovered reverence following Uzzah's death led David, the Levites, and all Israel to see that "God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant." This spirit of dependency apparently did not exist when Uzzah walked behind the oxcart.
Is it unfair for God to want people to consult Him, to be true to their spiritual roots, to properly regard and revere Him, and to rely upon Him? Certainly not. Uzzah certainly shows us the grave spiritual danger we face by trying to go out on our own, without reverence toward, reliance upon, and recognition of God and His power and authority in our lives.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
It is useless to become paranoid about listeria and cantaloupe, but it does point out how "little" or "minor" things can easily become significant. If the "right" (i.e., "wrong") person is exposed to something that may not hurt most people, it can be toxic and even deadly. If one is "careless" about how they handle even the seemingly routine things, he or she can have a devastating impact. Even without evil intentions, harm is done!
Perhaps the most common way we contaminate and poison others is through our words. On the surface, they are seemingly insignificant. But they can quickly injure or contribute to the spiritual death of the weak, vulnerable, and otherwise susceptible. James warns of the volatile potential of the tongue (Js. 3:2ff). Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
We also must watch our example. Others are watching how we react to life, they see our attitudes, and they examine our choices. We may brush something off as "no big deal," but it might be deadly for them. Jesus warns, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble" (Lk. 17:1-2).
May our lives bring spiritual health and life to others! May we disdain what is otherwise! Eternal lives are at stake.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Padres National Forest in 2006. At that time, it was the sixth-largest fire
in California history when measured by acreage. The Day fire started on
Labor Day, September 4, 2006, at a campsite in Piru Canyon. It took
thousands of firefighters 39 days to contain the blaze. The fire destroyed
more than 162,700 acres of land, including eleven structures. Eighteen
people were injured in the fire, but thankfully, no one was killed.
Investigations revealed that the fire was inadvertently started by Steven
Butcher at his campsite. John Schelbe reported that on November 17, 2008,
"U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank sentenced Butcher to 45 months
in prison and ordered the self-described nature lover to pay the $101.6
million that it cost to fight the Day fire."
Mark Windsor, who represented Butcher in his trial, stated that the $101.6
million fine had to be "one of the biggest monetary amounts ever levied
against a person."
$101.6 million is a lot of money, especially if you are homeless, mentally
ill, and financially poor - as is Steven Butcher. In 2008, Butcher's only
income was $1,000 a month in Supplemental Security Income. He was ordered
by Judge Fairbank to pay $25 four times a year to Los Padres officials while
in prison and $50 a month after he's released. At this rate, Butcher will
have to keeping paying over 2 million years in order to pay the fine! *
But Steven Butcher is not the only one with an unthinkable debt. Nor is
Steven Butcher the only one who has made some terrible mistakes.
YOU and I have amassed an unthinkable debt due to our sins. It's not
because of mental illness, but it is due to wrong decisions that we have
made - wrong decisions that have led to sin (see James 1:13-14).
Because of who God is and what He has done for us, you and I are "indebted"
to God. We owe Him our love, our loyalty, and our very lives, but when we
sin, we fail to meet our obligation. Thus, we are "in debt" to God. Sin is
like an unpaid debt, and it is a debt that every one of us owes (Romans
3:23). The debt of sin is so great that none of us can be good enough or do
enough good to pay off the debt. We just do not have enough resources to
remove the debt that we owe to God.
However, because of His love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay
the debt for OUR sin. The Apostle Peter reminded some Christians of the
price of their redemption from sin: "Knowing that you were not redeemed with
corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received
by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of
a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The blood of Jesus removes the debt of those who will: place their faith and
trust in God (Hebrews 11:6), repent of their sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10),
confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) in the
name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). The blood of Jesus
continues to keep one's record clean as he continues to live for the One who
made His redemption possible (1John 1:7)
We don't have enough resources or enough time to ever pay the debt that we
owe to God, but God loved us so much that He paid our debt through the GIFT
of His Son.
In order to have our debts paid, however, we must accept His offer on His
David A. Sargent, Minister
Friday, February 17, 2012
Growing up in "football" states (AL, FL, GA), I was not much of a basketball fan. Until I moved to Paris. I attended my first UK game a couple weeks ago (versus TN!). As you may know, the Tennessee team we played January 14th (which we barely won) did not show up on January 31st. We walked away with a win, 69-44.
Sitting in the arena, I could imagine how difficult it would be to visit here. The crowd was loud as it was supportive. That is part of the reason why UK has such a win streak (48) at home. It's the so-called home court advantage. The UK players knew the crowd was on their side. We cheered when the players blocked. We cheered when the players scored. We cheered when the players blinked. That's home court advantage.
In Hebrews 11, the writer gives us a list of numerous Old Testament heroes as he briefly runs through OT history. Then he begins chapter 12 by writing:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
What the Hebrew writer is saying is that Christians have the home court advantage. We have our own arena of fans, cheering us on - a cloud of witnesses. In contrast to basketball, however, our cloud of witnesses has already participated in the same game and won it.
Our greatest supporter, though, the Hebrew writer mentions, is Jesus Christ. As you "play on the court", fix your eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:2).
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
(especially wives who didn't get flowers for Valentines Day either). However
hear me out (and yes, this is directed mainly to my fellow men).
Now, do you want to know why I didn't get her flowers for this special day?
You see, being a minister I deal a great deal with death. I have seen
countless husbands mourn their wives who have died. I have heard them say
all the things good husbands do about how they should have treated her
better and if only they had it to do over it would be different.
My wife and I have been married for right at 46 years and I have always
tried to do special things for her. However about 20 years ago I decided I
didn't want to be one of those guys who said, "I wish I had." So, when I
have been able to afford it, which is quite often I bring home flowers. The
last few years we have been in a situation that allows me to buy flowers for
her just about every week. So, I didn't buy flowers for Valentines Day, I
didn't need to, I brought home 3 dozen carnations a few days before. I also,
rarely buy roses. Why, because I know she prefers carnations.
I also didn't buy a box of candy (heart shaped or otherwise). Why, because I
know that she doesn't care for most of the candy that you get in a box. She
much prefers Hershey's chocolate bars with almonds or M&M's peanut. How do I
know? Because at one time or another she has told me these things and I
Now for you wives who might be reading this, I hope you notice that my wife
actually told me what she liked at some point in our relationship. Please
don't fall back on the old, "he should have known" saying. Because most of
us guys, just aren't that perceptive. Tell us what you like and we will do a
much better job of getting it right.
So what did I do for the love of my life for Valentines Day? I made our bed
for her, gave her a card and a Hershey's bar, took her out to Starbucks and
then later to a movie. We actually prefer to eat at home most of the time,
so nothing fancy there. She did make me a special breakfast, gave me a hand
crafted card telling me how much she loved me and we sat and held each
other's hands for awhile. Oh, and I made sure I told her how much I loved
her and how great she looked, because she wore my favorite earrings and took
special pains to look good, just to spend some time for me!
You see, love is not $45 roses or $65 candy, it is caring enough to do
special things, things that may not cost anything.
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:28 "So ought men to love their wives
as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself."
By Russ Lawson
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Last year, our young people went ice-skating. One young lady invited her grandfather to go with us. He came along and decided to go ice-skating as well. It had been decades since he was on ice-skates. He did well, although he fell a few times. But then he fell and dislocated his shoulder. What a grandfather won't do for his grand-daughter!
A grandfather who loves his grandchildren will give until or even if it hurts. But what he will not fulfill is a request that would end in some hurt to the grand-daughter. It may hurt himself but it won't hurt her.
God's love is like this grandfather's love. God gives until it hurts. It hurt Him in the sense that He gave up His only, unique Son for our eternal benefit. God gives us what we need, at the time we need it, in His eternal wisdom and understanding.
But God will not give us something that will hurt us. He will test us, yes. He will challenge us, yes. But, to paraphrase Socrates: "The untested life is not worth living." The apostle Paul wrote: "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
We can live by faith, knowing that God will only do what is in our best interest.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
In the letter in which the key word is "joy" or "rejoice", the apostle Paul writes: "Do all things without grumbling or questioning" (Philippians 2:14).
What is the difference between grumbling and constructive criticism? The same as the difference between flattery and compliments. When you flatter, you do so because you want something in return. Flattery is giving compliments from selfish motives. Compliments are given in the best interest of the other person.
Constructive criticism is given in the best interest of the other person. It is given to help the other person be better. Grumbling and complaining is done out of selfish motives. I complain because you are not fulfilling my expectations. While constructive criticism is helpful and beneficial, grumbling and complaining is sinful.
The classic biblical example of grumbling and complaining is Numbers 11. In the wilderness in Exodus 16, the Israelites were complaining about what God had given them to eat. They did not appreciate His blessings. So they grumbled. God responded by giving them quail and bread. Meat and potatoes. What more does a man want?
But in Numbers 11, the Israelites had grown tired of God's blessings and grumbled about the quail and manna. "And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague" (11:32-33).
God does not appreciate grumbling and complaining. The next time you feel like saying something negative, ask yourself - Do I want to say this to help that person be better or is it motivated out of selfishness?
OK, who said, "Beam me up Scotty" in the series? You may have guessed that it was Captain Kirk, (William Shatner), but the reality is that he never said this exact phrase. In fact the answer is that no one in the series ever said that exact phrase. The closest Captain Kirk ever got to saying it was on the cartoon version of the series. On the original TV series the closest that the Captain ever got was "Beam US up, Scotty".
1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
2. Beggars can't be choosers.
3. Charity begins at home.
4. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
5. Everything that glitters is not gold.
6. God helps those who help themselves.
7. Honesty is the best policy.
That's OK; none of us can know everything in the Bible, can we? But what is enough? When do we know enough, when have we grown enough in knowledge and understanding. Peter urges his readers in 2 Peter 3:18 to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
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