Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slowly Eaten Away

A published article reported that a young man who once found a $5 bill on the street resolved that from then on he would keep his eyes on the ground while walking. The article went on to say that over the years this man had accumulated, among other things, 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 12 cents, a bent back and a miserly disposition. But he had lost some things also, including the glory of the sunlight warming his face, the radiance of the stars twinkling in his eyes, the smiles of want-to-be friends and the fresh air of clear blue skies. It amazes me the priorities people assign their focus, as to what is note-worthy national and world news, needing to be shared each day of the week. It seems what goes on across the back-yard fence of the typical neighborhood is of nobodies business, that is unless they are a public servant of some kind, or a high profile sports figure, or the CEO of a large company. Then everybody wants to get on the bandwagon to crucify whomever they think is in the wrong. Society of today is becoming like that of a major league baseball pitcher who plugs his ears with cotton to cut out all the distractions that might be coming from unruly fans in the bleachers. Don’t get me wrong here. It thrills me that people take a stand against thoughtless law-breakers who profit from their lawlessness, or who think they are better than the law and untouchable. But these problems of behavior started in the home many years before their ultimate decent from fame. What I’m saying is, our focus on life has to extend beyond our personal interests looking up and taking the cotton out of our ears, at least once in a while, to give attention to fathering and mothering our self-centered children with some basic moral and ethical ideals of honesty and fair gain. Folks, there are things going on in the world that deserve a lot more of our attention. There are things happening in the world today that should make you very afraid about the future of our very existence as a nation free of terror and pestilence. It all starts at home.

[2 Timothy 3:1-9; 3:10-17] A lady from the city was visiting members of her family who owned a farm. As she talked with the farmer, she noticed a pig in the back yard with a wooden leg. “What happened to that pig?” the woman asked. “Oh, that’s Betsy” the farmer said. “She’s a fine pig! One night while we were all asleep the house caught fire. Betsy started snorting and grunting waking us all up. We were able to call the fire department and save the house!” “Wow! That’s amazing!” exclaimed the woman. “Not only that” continued the farmer, “but one day my daughter fell into the pond and Betsy came gruntin’ and snortin’ and led me to the pond where I was able to pull her out. Betsy saved my daughter’s life!” The lady was impressed, also curious, “But that still doesn’t explain the wooden leg.” “Well” the farmer replied, “When you have a pig like that, you don’t eat it all at once.” The moral and ethical decay of our society today is eating away at the very fabric of this country’s Christian garb. The first public school book of knowledge was the Bible. Today it’s illegal to shelve the Bible in our school libraries yet every other worldly religious organization has a reserved space in the card catalog. The do-gooders of this country have successfully performed a God-fearing lobotomy on our most recent generations and we are now being led around by a crippled government. God is still in the hearts of most Americans, but if we keep allowing the mutilation of His Word, before long there will be nothing left. Doom!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Can Change Your Way Of Life

I have had one of those weeks. I really devoted my time to working around the house this past week and the heat flat wore me out. Of course we’ve experienced a nice cool change in the weather since so I guess I won’t have any excuses to not continue my domestic exploits this coming week. I have to tell you as I sit to write this week I’m so tired I can’t even think straight. Just when I thought I was about to take a good rest near weeks end, I had a brother-in-law pass away from a long time illness and the family asked me to preach the funeral for them. That added two late nights and a full Saturday to my already weary body. Don’t get me wrong as I was honored to do it, let alone asked to do it. Here’s an article I hope you will gain insight from.

[Matthew 19:25-26; Mark 10:24-27; Luke18:18-30] “Way of Life” by Jeremiah Tatum: “There is an expression sometimes used by people to explain behavior. It goes something like this – “That is just the way I am” or “That’s just the way he/she is.” People do have “ways.” Singer/song writer Billy Joel wrote the lyrics, “She’s got a way about her, don’t know what it is, but I know I can’t live without her.” Everybody is unique, and every person has a certain way they go about living their life. But one thing each individual should keep in mind is that we are not locked into a specific lifestyle. The liar doesn’t have to lie just because he has always been a liar. The same could be said for any other sin. The fact is, we choose our way of living. We make a decision about who we are and what we believe every day. Since such is the case, then we can also change the way we practice our Christianity. We don’t have to be Sunday morning only Christians, even if that is all we have ever been. We don’t have to keep from being more involved in the work of the church, just because we have never been involved in the past. We don’t have to lack zeal for evangelism, just because in our former days we have lacked the nerve necessary to save a soul. What we need to do is really very simple. We need to pray earnestly that God will change our hearts and make us aware of our spiritual short-comings. Then we need to follow up by changing our behavior and making a habit of doing things we have always wanted to do for Christ. We can change our way of life! We can do things differently than we have done them in the past! Peter wrote about the importance of no longer living the rest of our time in the flesh for the sake of sin, but instead, living for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-6). The point is that God has the power to not only save us from death; He has the power to change our life for today. This is a very exciting proposition! We don’t have to wait for Jesus to come again to be blessed. We can be blessed immediately by simply making the choice to live for God today. We need to stop making excuses for our lack of involvement in the kingdom. We must stop saying to ourselves that who we are and what we practice is good enough. We must stop telling ourselves that the way we live our Christian life is as good as we can do, because that is just the way we are. Faithfulness is a way of life. Commitment is a way of life. Evangelism is a way of life. Humility and Kindness are a way of life. We can do anything we want to do. We can be anything we want to be. Nothing is impossible with God.” When I decided to change my way of living twenty-something years ago I gave my life to the Lord and I haven’t regretted it a minute. I’m not who I used to be; still not the person I need to be.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Without Mistake or Error

I promised myself I’d get to work on some of the things that desperately need tending to around the house before winter breaks and I have another excuse. My latest surgery went smooth and I’m still cancer free so I figure I ought to put my good health to work. I’ve started by building some extra space in my storage shed making room for more junk and re-organizing what’s already there. Where does it all come from? It took me several days to plan and get back in the groove of measuring, cutting and fastening, it’s been a while since my last project. Remembering that patience and accuracy are what finished products are made of, this project, so far, has turned out level and square, functional as planned and it looks good too. I just love it when a plan comes together.

It’s amazing how our Creator was so meticulous with all the things around us. Here are some of the things that God’s accuracy and wisdom produced. *The eggs of a potato bug hatch in 7 days; *those of the canary in 14 days; *those of a barnyard hen in 21 days; *the eggs of ducks and geese in 28 days; *those of a mallard in 35 days; *and, parrot and ostrich eggs hatch in 42 days. (Notice they are all divisible by seven.) The largest of land mammals (at least in our time) is the elephant. God gave these great beasts four legs that all bend forward. No other quadruped is so made, but with four fulcrums it can rise easy from the ground in spite of its great weight. The horse rises from the ground with its two front legs first. And the cow rises using its two hind legs first. Further evidence of God’s wisdom and accuracy can be seen in a number of other things found in nature. *Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind; *each orange has an even number of segments; *each ear of corn has an even number of rows; *each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains; *each bunch of bananas has an even number on its largest row. Each row decreases by one making one row an even count, the next row odd, and so on; *The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute, no matter the weather conditions; *All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks. The Lord has specified thirty fold, sixty fold and one hundred fold (all even numbers). God has caused flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the blooms that were open and those that were closed.

[Romans 6:16-23; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4] As a human being, the zenith of God’s creation, the longer I live and the more I learn, the more mistakes I realize I make, and have made. With God’s Word in hand, however, there are no errors. God’s Word does not make mistakes. The Bible is God’s Word and it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Because the Bible is without error, it fulfills all of mans needs. The Bible teaches us that if we wish to be saved, we must obey its truth. The Bible is inspired and authoritative, and should be accepted by all men. The entire Bible provides instruction, doctrine, reproof and correction. Everything that we need to know concerning life and godliness are contained within its pages. We are all going to be judged by the Word of God. “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. …I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me…” (John 12:48-49).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Fullest Of Measure

Have you ever been searching for something and come across something else which leads you completely away from what you were doing in the first place? I do it all the time. My biggest problem is while digging deep trying to find something, I’ll un-bury a treasure of long ago and sit down to fiddle with it, reminiscing of a time when it was important in my life. I can’t recall what I was looking for the other day when I came across my old slide rule. I would venture to guess that most anyone born after 1975 has probably never seen a slide rule let alone know what it was. A slide rule was pretty much basic equipment for those who quickly needed answers to simple mathematical calculations, i.e. building engineers, on site architects, draftsmen, etc. The slide rule was a precursor to the hand calculator of today. It was very accurate to one decimal point, but generally needed long-hand calculation verification to take a solution out to three places plus. I never really got too proficient with it as the military draft took me away from my blossoming profession and only a few years passed until the world was enlightened by the electronic age and the hand-held calculator with precise accuracy. Anyway, I sat and played with it for nearly an hour then packed it away once again till the next time. I forgot what I was looking for in the first place, but I’m sure I’ll go looking for it again as soon as I discover the unfinished job I was working on.

While watching the TV weatherman, as he pointed out areas of rain across the country on his computerized map, a young boy overheard his parents saying how they wished the rain would come to their drought stricken area. The boy suggested, “Why doesn’t he just click on the rain and drag it down to us?” Our world today is being shaped by our unique pollex, opposable thumbs, working in unison at lightening speed “sharing information” and/or the click of a mouse dragging data from one place to another. It won’t be long before a printed book on the shelf is a marvel of the past.

[1 Timothy 6:17-19] As Paul teaches Timothy how to be an effective preacher and leader in the church, he says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Today our lives are being measured for success by how much each of us is worth by our monetary possessions. Most are willing to look at life with simple calculations carrying solutions out to one decimal place saying, “That’s close enough.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a good job with a good salary. That we are to work to sustain our existence is God’s will for us. Paul also instructs Timothy, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Success from a worldly standpoint is one thing, but in view of heaven and hell, success must be viewed from a spiritual perspective. Nothing can compare to the glory, beauty and joy of heaven. Nothing can compare to the pain, suffering and eternity of hell. In the final analysis, success must be defined in the light of God’s judgment. We must carry out God’s Word to the fullest measure (James 1:22).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

One Thing Leads To Amother

Have you ever done something for yourself to make life easier and in the long run it only produced a new problem in your life? Example: This year I resolved to chemically eliminate the need to use the grass trimmer around my chain link fence, thus saving on the aggravations of tearing up and replacing so much trimmer string on the unforgiving metal fence. Besides, my lazy side is becoming more dominant as the years pass and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Well, my now one-year-old Chihuahua, who loves her fenced in yard, has been caught outside the fence several times. The little Houdini found a way out which after inspecting the entire fence remained a total mystery to me how she was doing it. The best way to solve problems is to observe, so on the porch I sat watching the magician at work. It didn’t take long before I heard the fence rattle and there she was on the other side of the fence. By ridding the fence-line of grass for ease of maintenance, it caused the bottom of the fence to become loose and flexible enough for a little dog to scoot under and go exploring the big world. Good thing she didn’t run into a big dog. Well, some cheap tent stakes solved the problem, for now.

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. While eating breakfast near a window, the first morning in their new home, the young woman sees her equally young neighbor hanging her wash outside to dry. “That laundry isn’t very clean,” she mentioned to her husband. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Her husband looked on but didn’t say anything. Every time her neighbor hung her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About two months latter the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and commented to her husband, “Look! She has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her.” The husband casually remarked, “By the way, did you notice I finally got around to washing all the windows yesterday?” So remember, what we see while watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

[Matthew 24:24-26; Romans 15:1-6; Philippians 2:1-11] There was once a rather rough man, who for some reason, fell in love with a beautiful vase he found in an antique shop. He purchased the vase and placed it on the mantel in his living-room. The piece became a kind of judgment on his surroundings. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The sofa with the stuffing coming out of the seats would not do. The wallpaper and paint needed redoing. So, the man slowly started cleaning up the room to make it worthy of the beautiful vase. Gradually the whole room was transformed. Who is your biggest opponent? From whom do most of your troubles and struggles come? Maybe you guessed it right. The greatest challenge any of us face is self. It seems no matter what we do in the pursuit of happiness, it’s never exactly what we were looking for. Even in our relationship with God, most people never get passed the first requirement to follow Jesus: deny self. Our culture is of no help. All day, every day, we are told self is to be indulged, satisfied, served and fulfilled. Happiness itself, we’re told, depends on satisfying self. Happiness comes from the freedom of self-slavery which binds us in the slavery of sin. It takes a transformation of worldly thinking to spiritual living to move us from selfish living to servant loving. When a person puts the Lord on the mantel of his heart, his whole life begins to change. Amen?