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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus

Saving for retirement. Exercising and losing weight. Mending a broken relationship. Daily Bible reading.  Many are the objectives, goals, and needs we all have in this life, but just as many are the excuses we often give for not addressing them.  We fall back on lack of time, how we feel, whose fault it is, and generally why we cannot do what we know we should be doing.  It seems that until we are convicted of our need to do something, we will always find ready excuses.

But, when we are motivated to do something, we will not let anything stop us.  We find the time, muster the will, and channel the discipline necessary to keep plugging away until the objective is achieved.

Living for Christ is the greatest objective there is.  It fulfills the very purpose for our existence. It benefits everyone around us. It is imperative to gaining heaven as home.  It positively influences those closest to us.  But, when it is not our greatest priority, we will come up with a bevy of excuses. These run the gamut from sports activities to work to hypocrites to personal weakness to whatever else may come to mind.  Until we are motivated, we will find excuses.  So, what should motivate us to live for Jesus?

  • His sacrificial love (Gal. 2:20).
  • Fear of judgment and eternal punishment (Mat. 25:31-46).
  • The debt we owe (Rom. 1:14-17).
  • The love we have for Him (2 Cor. 5:14).
  • Our love for our family and others close to us (Ti. 2:3-4; Eph. 5:25).
  • An understanding of our purpose (Phil. 1:21-24).
  • The hope of heaven (John 14:1ff).
  • A sense of obligation to our spiritual family (1 Th. 5:11; Mat. 18:12ff).
  • A desire to do what is right and serve Jesus as our Master (1 Pe. 2:20; Mat. 7:21).

All of these (and more) are excellent motivation for enduring the difficult in order to successfully overcome in this life. They will help us to eliminate every impediment that stands in our way.  As the writer of Hebrews says, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1-2).  Neal Pollard

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Better felt than told religion


They Say He Is a Liar

My friend had an "experience"--"better felt than told"--he "got" something. Some people tell my friend he has allowed his imagination to deceive him; that he had no feeling, no experience. Some even accuse him of faking the whole story. This makes my friend very unhappy. He doesn't like to be called a liar. He says, "I know what I feel."

Now I believe my friend. I know him to be an honest man. If he tells me he "felt something" I will not deny this.

But sometimes I try to check his unwarranted conclusions concerning the meaning of these feelings. My friend assumes that because he "had a feeling" his sins are forgiven. Why could not this just as well mean his sins were multiplied??

God alone can forgive sins; and His Word states the truth concerning such matters as these (John. 17:17). When my friend says he knows his sins are forgiven because he "felt something" I must remind him that the Bible allows no such evidence. It even warns us that feelings can be deceptive (2 Thess. 2:10-12).

Christ is the author of eternal salvation unto all them who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). And Christ teaches us to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS?

- by Robert Turner

 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Creative uses for paper clips

Paper clips are amazing. They can be put to use in hundreds of ways other than holding paper. BDT (Before Duct Tape) I even used them in an emergecy to hold together a ripped pant leg. Today we used them to hang banners. Here is a short list of some of the things for which you can use paper clips.

1. hem holder
2. cigar filter unstopper
3. spray bottle unclogger
4. eye glass repair
5. hair barrette
6. zipper tab
7. clean fingernails
8. Xmas ornament holder
9. unclog Elmer's glue bottle
10. calendar holder
11. belt holder
12. emergency cotter pin
13. emergency diaper pin (boy! do I date myself there!)
14. strawberry huller
15. cherry pit remover
16. hymn marker (for organists)
You get the idea I'm sure. They are useful and versitile.

Jesus is much like a paper clip for our lives. He helps hold things together in our lives, he sticks together the rips and tears that the world leaves in our lives. He gives us purpose and life.

Paul writes to the Colossian church in Colossians 1:12-18 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

Christ may be our paper clip, but he is so much more! He holds our lives together when the world wants to tear them apart.

--Russ Lawson

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Have you ever heard the saying: "Out of the frying pan and into the fire"?

The Italian author Laurentius Abstemius wrote a collection of 100 fables. Abstemius' fable 20, concerns some fish thrown live into a frying pan of boiling fat. One of them urges its fellows to save their lives by jumping out, but when they do so they fall into the burning coals and curse its bad advice.

The fabulist concludes: 'This fable warns us that when we are avoiding present dangers, we should not fall into even worse peril.' Is there a spiritual application to this? I believe there is!

To start with Solomon tells us in Proverbs 27:12 "A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."

What is a phrase we might uses to explain this thought to someone: "Look before you leap" or "You wouldn't jump off a cliff, just because your friends do, would you?"

The question we might ask is "What are spiritual cliffs that folks jump off of today?"
Sometimes they involve sin, sometimes they involve relationships, sometimes they just involve making bad decisions and sometimes our cliffs involve facing challenges…Sometimes your life challenge feels like you have gone from the frying pan into the fire……

So what has been your cliff, your challenge? Is it physically or spiritually, and how do you handle it?

Let me make a suggestion for handling difficult things in your life. One of my favorite passages is Romans 8:28: Paul writes there: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."

Let me give you the "Russ Revised Version" of is verse: "Do your best to serve God, love him and no matter how badly you mess things up, God will be able to make something good come from it." Even if you don't see it or understand it, God has the power to work it to the good!

So it may seem that you have gone from the frying pan into the fire, but don't forget to trust in Him, Our God and King.

That's why Psalm 23:1-6is so dear to so many of us. It reminds us of who is in control of our world and our life. David wrote: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

So face life's challenges trusting in God!

--Russ Lawson

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Who killed custer?

There's quite the controversy over who killed General George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana on June 25, 1876. There is even a book by the title, "Who Killed Custer?," authored by Bruce Brown. There are so many mysterious and hard-to-document events that made up this notorious battle that symbolizes the "Indian Wars" of the late 1800s.  Brown, analyzing eye witness accounts, gives an interesting top three suspect list:  (1) an Oglala Sioux warrior named White Cow bull, shooting him near the beginning of the battle, (2) Custer himself, committing suicide as he dashed away from the battlefield near the battle's end on his horse Victory, and (3) Brave Bear, a Southern Cheyenne warrior, given the honorary title of "Custer's Killer" at an Indian council in 1909 (www.astonisher.com/archives).  About ten years ago, the Helena Independent Recordrevealed the long-circulated, but secret oral history of the Northern Cheyenne Indian storytellers, crediting a woman, Buffalo Calf Trail Woman, for striking the fatal blow (helenair.com).

It is fitting that a man surrounded by so much controversy and whose reputation and achievements are incredibly enigmatic would have such a mysterious cloud hanging over his death. His killer is upheld by many as a tangible standard-bearer of justice and righteous revenge. For others, it is simply a matter of historical fascination.  There are even those who lamented his death, as the brash and rash Custer was widely viewed as a "war hero" by his U.S. contemporaries in the years immediately following his death. Yet, one thing we know for sure.  Custer was killed.  Two fatal bullet wounds loudly testify.

There is another mystery, one with far weightier and eternal implications.  Who killed Jesus?  He is the most enigmatic figure in human history.  He was viewed contemptuously as a blasphemer and traitor by the religious leaders of His day. He was viewed with depraved indifference by the masses who switched from adoration to execration in a matter of days.  He is viewed even more diversely today, 2000 years after He died on the cross.  The power and proof of the resurrection is a matter to write about another day (see, for example,https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/644-resurrection-literal-or-merely-symbolic).

But, there is another vital question surrounding the death of Jesus.  Who was really responsible?

  • Was it the devil? Yes!
  • Was it the Jewish leaders? Yes!
  • Was it the onlookers that day? Yes!
  • Was it Pilate? Yes!
  • Was it the Roman soldiers? Yes!
  • Was it God? Yes!
  • Was it you and me? Yes!

How could all of these be mutually responsible for the death of Christ? There is no controversy.  The devil desired Jesus' death, through which he longed to defeat the Lord's purpose (cf. Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:4ff). In this, he failed (Heb. 2:14). The people that day were instruments in the hands of God, who accomplished His eternal plan of salvation through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 2:23; 3:18; etc.). We are responsible because we sin (Rom. 4:25) and He had to be made sin for us (2 Co. 5:21). The good news is that the death of Jesus was not the defeat of God's plan. It accomplished the plan.  However, for the plan to be effective, we must properly respond to it.  The fact of His death does nothing for us, if we do not respond to it the way Scripture tells us to.  Thus, there is a much more important question than, "Who killed Jesus?" It is, "Who will follow Jesus?"

 

--Neal Pollard

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