Saturday, July 22, 2017

Don't Be Afraid - Don't Be discouraged

As an automotive and small truck mechanic for many years I prided myself in returning vehicles to their owner in like manner I received it or even better. Of course it was repaired, which made it better, what I meant is, if I saw something in need of repair and determined it would only take a minute or two at no cost to me or the customer, I did it, most of the time without mention. I always made sure and instructed any employees to clean up thoroughly at the completion of any job and always double check for lingering tools and parts left in and around vehicles. Very rarely, but inevitability, a small tool would come up missing, seemingly with the ability to vanish into thin air never to be seen again. Then there were a few times when on a test drive a faint clink-catty-clank sound would start from under the hood and travel along the floorboard to the rear bumper as a wrench would bouncing between the highway pavement and the bottom of the vehicle. If it was big enough and rested on the highway I found the elusive wrench but if it landed in the grass and weeds along side, someone else found it. I have also found wrenches that didn’t belong to me and sometimes found the owner to be fellow mechanics. Some people might not understand but our wrenches are like children and we hate to lose them.

[Psalm 26:2-3; Galatians 6:1-10] A surgeon was very selective with the people he wanted to work with. It was the first day on the job for a young nurse and the surgeon decided to issue a test. As the young nurse assisted the surgeon during a procedure, she noticed a problem. “You’ve only removed eleven sponges, doctor,” she said to the surgeon. “We used twelve.” “I removed them all,” the doctor declared. “We‘ll close the incision now.” “No,” the nurse objected. “We used twelve sponges.” “I’ll take full responsibility,” the surgeon said grimly, “Suture!” “You can’t do that!” blazed the nurse. “Think of the patient.” The surgeon smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse the twelfth sponge, and said, “You’ll do.” It can be difficult to stand up for what is right, especially when we meet resistance. As for the young nurse, she was willing to risk disapproval and possibly even her job to stand up for what was right. Thankfully, she was working for a person who also valued integrity. It takes courage to expose ourselves and come under the heat of the spot light. In John 12:42-43, we see some people who weren’t willing to stand out, “Yet at the same time many even among the rulers believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” Which do we love more, God’s approval or man’s? It feels really good when people like us, praise us, and agree with us. Many people are even willing to sacrifice their morals and ethics in order to lay low and run with the crowd. It can be scary to be disliked, made fun of, and disagreed with. It can be hard to stand up for honesty and integrity as Christians, especially when those around us do not. Moses told all Israel and Joshua before his death, “...Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you ...Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). People may dislike or disagree with us, but only one approval really matters anyway; God’s. When we stand with God - God will stand with us. Therefore, let’s be courageous Christians and pursue God’s approval above all others. God hates to lose one of his children on the highway of life (2 Peter 3:1-18). Amen.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Am I Giving My All?

Last Saturday morning, Bella, my little Chihuahua, was out in the yard by herself just nosing around unsupervised, when all of a sudden my wife heard her wailing and screaming like she had just been struck by lightning. She rushed out-doors and picked her up, then brought her to me in my office. I hadn’t heard all the commotion and found nothing out of the ordinary, so chalked it up to another go-around with the neighbor cat, which comes in my yard to harass Bella now and then, or maybe, finally caught the squirrel and didn’t know what to do next. About ten minutes later, Bella scratched at my door to be let in. I opened the door, looked at her, and one eye was swollen completely shut. Closer examination revealed a bee stinger stuck in the upper eyelid; poor thing. I got some tweezers, removed the stinger and medicated her with liquid Children’s Tylenol. We medicated a couple of more times over the next few days and noticed the upper eyelid was not functioning, but finally, it seems to be coming to life again.

I’m into my third week of reducing the swollen parts of my body and waking up some of the unused slothful muscles that turning wrenches used to keep in shape. I had forgotten that strenuous exercise of the body also involves pushing the brain past the point of ‘no more’ into the zone of ‘no pain - no gain’ then pressing on to some sort of goal for the session at hand. I’m already losing weight and my blood-pressure is looking better. It’s funny how everything I’ve ever changed in my life for the better has produced a guilt trip of ‘Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?’ Anytime is a good time to start.

[James 2:14-26] T. B. Larimore (1843-1922), is quoted as saying, “When my hand is still, my tongue silent and my eyes closed; when friends come to look on my pale face, l want them to be able to say, at least, ‘He did the best he could.”’ Jesus told a parable in which one man failed to do the best he could (Matthew 25:14-30). Three men each with differing abilities were given talents. One received five talents, another two, and the last, one. Those who had received five and two talents increased their capital. Each was praised by his lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The one talent man was a different story. He failed to gain any more talents for his lord, and when his lord returned, he was rebuked, “You wicked, lazy servant.” He was cast into outer darkness. He had failed to give his best. The point of the parable should not be lost on any of us. The prophet Malachi rebuked the people of his day for their failure to do the best they could. They failed to bring God the best in sacrifice, but were content to bring the lame and sick (Malachi 1:13). God deserved and desired better. We must be careful that we don’t become content in offering God less than our best. Are we really doing the best we can? If we attend one service of the church during the week, is that the best we can do? Is our contribution to the work of the church the best we can do? Is our involvement in the local congregation, to the extent that it is, the best we can do? Are we living our life in such a way that it is the best we can do? Are our efforts to share the gospel with others the best we can do? Is our service in the kingdom the best we can do, or are we satisfied with half-way measures? Even when we do our best it is important to remember these words of Jesus: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10). God gave the best of Heaven (John 3:16). What will we give Him in return? Think about it, will you?

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Parking On Someone Else's Nickel

It’s summer, I’m lazy and my computer is giving me fits, soooo, I’m borrowing a couple of articles from the Bulletin Digest to share with you this week. I’m also realigning my daily schedule a little bit to continue fitting in time for strength and cardio exercise. Any-Time-Fitness is a good deal. I’ll let you know how good in weeks to come.

Parking On Someone Else’s Nickel by Larry Fitzgerald: In the old days, cities regulated downtown parking with meters. (I can remember my father having a fit over parking meters when they were introduced in our small town and how he gave instructions to my mother on what to do if the time ran out and the red flag popped up before he returned to the car.) You park, drop in a nickel or dime and get some time on the meter. Then you’d go into the store and be sure to be back before the meter ran out of time. However, occasionally, you could find a spot with time left on the meter. In that case, you would “park on someone else’s nickel!” Someone has said: “We eat from orchards we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. We reap from fields we did not sow. We are warmed by fires we did not kindle. We are sheltered by roofs we did not build. We are blessed by moneys we did not give.” In the Lord’s Church, each person has job. That’s Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 12. We have a responsibility to our congregation to use our talents to help the Lord’s Church grow. Are you using your talents, time and resources for the Lord? Or are you simply parking on someone else’s nickel? Consider these verses: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10). “… serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13b). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).

We Need Each Other by Jeremy Tucker: There is an indelible and universal truth as it pertains to the church. We need each other. In fact, the Bible is adamantly clear that without the contribution of each member, the church does not properly function. Thus is the substance of Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 12. The church in Corinth struggled with supremacy. There were those who possessed the most coveted and thereby most respected spiritual gifts, and to those they bestowed greater honor. Within the church, they were considered the most important. To dispel such a divisive notion and to promote unity, Paul makes some assertions. Notice what he says in 1 Corinthians 12:19-22, “And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” Why? Because truthfully, if we all possessed the same talents, the same abilities, the same strengths and even weaknesses; where would the body be? The answer is simple. It would be lacking what you can contribute whether great or small. You see brethren, the truth of the matter remains indelible. We need each other. Therefore, let us conclude that although you may not be able to do what others can; there is no gift given by God that is not both useful and beneļ¬cial to the grow and vitality of this congregation. So, by all means, contribute!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Working On Your Health

My wife and I have come to the conclusion, with all the indicators at our disposal at the moment, we are probably going to get older. More birthdays are a good thing when considering the alternatives and great-grandchildren are arriving needing to be double-spoiled. Our health has taken on a greater priority than in the past and we’ve decided to rehabilitate our failing bodies to the best of our ability that we might continue to enjoy life into the always uncertain future. Research indicates that staying physically active can help prevent or delay certain diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and diabetes, and also relieve depression and improve mood. Inactivity is most often accompanied by advanced age. My wife has been retired two years and I semi-retired for several years, occupying some office space, no longer wrenching motor vehicles. Needless-to-say, we’ve gotten lazy and a little plump. We improved our diet intake about 18 months ago with weight loss to prove our do-diligence. But, that wasn’t enough according to our physician’s and specialist’s. Her loss of muscle mass and strength and my ever increasing blood pressure could only be resolved with rigorous exercise. We had been talking about going to the park for walks, but never have gotten there, probably not all we needed anyway. The other thing we had been talking about was joining an exercise gym, which a membership was available through our supplemental insurance. Yep, the old folks are going to the gym in an attempt to fool Mother Nature. I have to admit that maybe the cardiologist might just know what he’s talking about. My blood pressure sure enough drops like a brick following exercise and is over-all lower. I’ve also lost two pounds of weight already and am so encouraged to continue. I’m looking forward to getting off the meds like he promised, if only I would begin a daily exercise routine.

[John 3:16-21] Can you guess what it is? It’s greater than God, yet also more evil than the devil. The poor have it, and the rich don’t want it. If you wear it you show everything, if you speak it you remain quiet, and if you buy it you save money. The blind see it; the deaf hear it; but if you eat it - you’ll die. What is it? Nothing! Nothing doesn’t sound like it’s much of anything, but in reality it is something. Doing nothing can get you fired. Saying nothing can help you out of trouble. Seeing nothing will make you look ignorant, but revealing nothing can make you seem wise. Some folks believe when Jesus says nothing about a subject it means he’s saying he approves of it even though He’s said nothing at all. Likewise there are some that believe in doing nothing they will have done enough to hear “well done good and faithful servant.” However, the scriptures are clear that “nothing” is a very dangerous thing. In the three parables of Matthew 25, the condemned did nothing. They didn’t prepare, didn’t use their talents or do anything for the least of these. James says that faith that does nothing is dead (James 2:14-17). John tells us that the love of God can’t abide in us if we do nothing to help our brother in need (1 John 3:16-18). Doing nothing can cost us our soul (Matthew 25:21-46). God stopped at nothing to save us (Hebrews 1:1-3), but if we start doing nothing it’s the quickest way for us to be lost. When men are confronted with the gospel they ask “what must I do” because they know it deserves a response. An action must be taken; a change must be made; a confession must be offered (Acts 2:36-41). Something must be done! All you have to do to spend eternity in hell is - nothing. It’s time to work on your eternal health.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Can You See It Yet?

“Wouldn’t you hate to wear glasses all the time?” asked Billy of his friend. “Noooo,” his friend answered. “Not if I had the kind grandma wears. She sees how to fix a lot of things, and she sees a lot of nice thing to do on a rainy day, and she sees when folks are tired and sad and what will make them feel better, and she always sees what you meant to do even if you didn’t get things just right. I asked her one day how she could see that way all the time and she said it was the way she learned to look at things as she grew older. So it must be her glasses.” It is said that the majority of the world’s population, age 37 years and younger, have very little knowledge of true world history, nor true history of the country they live in. Philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, George Santayana, born December 16, 1863 in Madrid, Spain, died September 26, 1952 in Rome, Italy, is the author of an often misquoted statement: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. (and the most misquoted part of this statement)  Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This famous statement has produced many paraphrases and variants: * Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. * Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. * Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. * Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them. * Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them. There is a similar quote by Edmund Burke (in Revolution in France) that often leads to misattribution: "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors." ( I was very angered to hear Senator Bernie Sanders say of Russell Vought, nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, because of Vought’s Christian beliefs, “ really not someone who is what this country is suppose to be about.” I guess we need more representatives from the socialist group masquerading as a better religion so all our rights as a free society will be stripped from our constitution. What’s happening in Washington today happened in Berlin in the 1930’s. Are you seriously ready to repeat history in your own back yard?

[Jeremiah 18:1-10] God still works us and molds us as a potter does clay. In verses 7-10, God lets it be known his governing of the kingdoms of the world other than Israel. “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or a kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” People throughout the world are standing up, screaming for the right to practice every wicked way of life that has been condemned and called sinful by our Creator God. I honestly believe the world is one generation away from total apostasy. And my friend when that happens, God is going to pull the plug – Game Over! Christians in this country are fixing to find out what it means to be persecuted for their faith, and many are going to deny their Savior. Your “testimonies” of faith are quickly becoming “hate speech” against many “minorities”.