Saturday, May 19, 2018

Un-heeded Warnings


Once again we started last Friday with yet another tragedy acted out by a misguided young man against his high school peers. I know the guns are going to get the blame, again, but the gun didn’t kill anyone. Every weapon needs a trigger-finger, and a brain attached to the finger, before any harm to anyone can come out of the end of the barrel of any gun. It’s the brain controlling the trigger-finger that’s the blame in every case, but nobody wants to look at the reason for these outbursts. The fore-fathers of our country warned us about the crisis we now find ourselves in – even the progressive liberals.

Benjamin Rush (Wikipedia) (January 4, 1746 – April 19, 1813) was a Founding Father of the United States. Rush was a civic leader in Philadelphia, where he was a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, educator and founder of Dickinson College. Rush attended the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. His later self-description there was: "He aimed right." He served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army and became a professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Rush was also known as a leader of the American Enlightenment and an enthusiastic supporter of the American Revolution. He was a leader in Pennsylvania's ratification of the Constitution in 1788. He was prominent in many reforms, especially in the areas of medicine and education. He opposed slavery, advocated free public schools, and sought improved education for women and a more enlightened penal system. As a leading physician, Rush had a major impact on the emerging medical profession. He promoted public health by advocating clean environment and stressing the importance of personal and military hygiene. His study of mental disorder made him one of the founders of American psychiatry.

[Psalm 34] The following are quotes (A-Z Quotes) by Benjamin Rush: * "I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament” * "The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world." * "Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind." * "By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds." * "The Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life...The Bible...should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness." * "If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into all the world would have been unnecessary. The perfect morality of the gospel rests upon the doctrine which, though often controverted, has never been refuted: I mean the vicarious life and death of the Son of God." * "Without the restraints of religion and social worship, men become savages much sooner than savages become civilized by means of religion and civil government." * "Upon my return from the army to Baltimore in the winter of 1777, I sat next to John Adams in Congress, and upon my whispering to him and asking him if he thought we should succeed in our struggle with Great Britain, he answered me, "Yes-if we fear God and repent of our sins."" Get the Word back in school.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Survival Through Love


When a giraffe is born, it tumbles ten feet to the ground, landing on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and stands, struggling on those tall untried legs. The mother giraffe positions herself directly over her newborn, swings her leg outward and kicks that baby, sending it sprawling and tumbling to the ground again!. If it doesn’t get up, she kicks it again! Even if it grows tired of mom’s teaching, she kicks it again to stimulate its efforts to stand. Each time the baby giraffe manages to get to its feet , the mother kicks it once again. Now, this may seem cruel to you, but there is a reason for the mother’s behavior. She is simply preparing the baby for survival, because that little giraffe must learn to get up quickly and run with the herd when danger comes – otherwise it will not survive.

I think it is fair to say that the attitude of mothers to see their babies survive is reflected across the board of life. The love of a mother is recognized as one of the most powerful forces known to mankind. “There are times when only a mother’s love can understand our tears; Can soothe our disappointments and calm all of our fears. There are times when only a mother’s love can share the joy we feel; When something we’ve dreamed about quit suddenly is real. There are times when only a mother’s faith can help us on life’s way; And inspire in us the confidence we need from day to day. For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith and a mother’s steadfast love; Were fashioned by the Savior and sent from God above.” To the world she’s just a mother; To her family she’s all the world.

[1 Samuel 1:1 – 2: 21] A beautiful Bible picture of motherhood is found in the woman named Hannah. In 1 Samuel we read of her faithful prayer asking God to bless her with a child. She promised God she would dedicate him to the service of the Lord. When the child Samuel was born, Hannah kept her promise. Although she left Samuel in the service of the temple at around age two or three, she never forgot him. She continued to make him a robe to wear each year, and delivered it to him herself (1 Samuel 2:19). One can only imagine the care she went through thinking of  his needs as he grew older. What a faithful mother! By her faithful remembrance of Samuel, Hannah was exhibiting one of the characteristics of God. Isaiah 49:15 reads, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” God has such a powerful love for his people. He never forgets His children! Your mother certainly loves you. But what great comfort we can take today knowing God loves you even more! Let us be thankful for such steadfast love! As Christians, we need to learn the same lesson that baby giraffes learn – When life kicks you down, you must get back up! You must never give up! Our soul’s survival depends upon our ability to persevere. James wrote, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). When things go wrong, Satan would love nothing better than for you to throw in the towel and give up on faith, God, Christ, and the church. That’s his goal – to get you to quit short of the goal of salvation. He wants you to become so frustrated that you will simply quit. Don’t let him get to you. When life knocks you down – Get back up! Always remember, whether they are with you still or have gone on, “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).

Saturday, May 05, 2018

A Time To Die


I bring up the subject now and again because it’s one we all need to contemplate on.

"The Obituary of Mrs. Prayer Meeting." Mrs. Prayer Meeting died recently at the First Neglected Church, on Worldly Ave. Born many years ago in the midst of great revivals, she was a strong, healthy child, fed largely on testimony and Bible study, soon growing into worldwide prominence, and was one of the most influential members of the famous Church family. For the past several years Sister Prayer Meeting has been failing in health, gradually wasting away until rendered helpless by stiffness of knees, coldness of heart, inactivity and weakness of purpose and will power. At the last she was but a shadow of her former happy self. Her last whispered words were inquiries concerning the strange absence of her loved ones now busy at work and places of amusements. Experts, including Dr. Works, Dr. Reform, and Dr. Joiner, disagreed as to the cause of her fatal illness, administering large doses of organization, socials, contests and drives but to no avail. A post mortem showed that a deficiency of spiritual food coupled with the lack of faith, heartfelt religion and general support, were contributing causes. Only a few were present at her death, sobbing over memories of her past beauty and power. In Honor of her going, the church doors will be closed on Wednesday nights, save the third Wednesday night of each month when the Ladies Pink Lemonade Society serves refreshments to the men’s handball team. Sad to say, this obituary could be read over many churches, as well as, many Christians today.  This is an awful, and a tragic death, because it shows the relation of spiritual prayer to spiritual power. The lack of prayer means the lack of power; and, the death of prayer means the death of power.
Simply put; where there is NO PRAYER, THERE IS NO POWER!

[2 Samuel 14:14; Job 24:22; Genesis 27:2] The Bible teaches - death is an appointment that we all must keep. An unusual business leader often shocked his banker friend by abruptly saying, “I died last night – where does that leave my family, financially?” That was his way of telling the banker to help him with his money so as to provide for his loved ones. But, friend, suppose YOU had died last night? Where would you spend eternity? What shape, spiritually, would you and your loved ones be in if death had intervened yesterday? Perhaps we are all guilty of passing over the serious nature of this solemn idea. Many consider this subject to be morbid but do we honestly realize that the next funeral could be our own? If death comes for us soon, what heritage have we left our children? Will our sons be the gospel preachers and elders the Lord so desperately needs in the years to come? Will our daughters be the spiritual, modest women the church must have (1 Peter 3:1-6)? Will our children get to heaven by following in our footsteps? If our time on earth were soon over, will we leave behind souls that are saved because of our teaching and example (1 Timothy 4:16)? Will the church miss our voice because of the word of encouragement we spoke? Will our hands be missed because of the good works that characterized our life? Will the brethren say, “...You will be missed, because your seat will be empty (1 Samuel 20:18). Job 3:17 speaks of a place where “...the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest.” Hebrews 4:9-10 mentions the rest that remains for the people of God. Death holds no sting and the grave no victory for faithful Christians (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). It makes an everlasting difference in the end.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tears


Tears are a weird aspect, yet essential part of life. They lubricate our eyeballs for smooth movement of the eyelids when blinking. They help remove micro particles from the surface of the eye and help flush larger particles like grits of sand. The tear duct also seems to be connected to our emotions. When watching the seemingly spontaneous antics of young children as they explore their world or our pets as they clown around in a game of conquest, we can sometimes get laughing so hard tears come streaming from our eyes. Then there are the times when sorrow and sadness erupts in tears. Some of you may have seen the picture of Roxanne Chalifoux, the crying piccolo player from Villanova. Just after her team had lost a three point game to underdog North Carolina State in an NCAA B’ball Tournament, the cameras captured her sadness on the jumbo-tron and later on national TV. With her passion and loyalty to her school, despite the tears, she played her tiny musical instrument; love sometimes shines brightest in loss. And when the Astros won the World Series of Baseball, tears of joy flowed throughout Houston. Weird, huh?

[2 Corinthians 9:6-15] Would you cry if God could not take the time to bless us today because we didn’t take the time to thank Him yesterday? What if God stopped leading us tomorrow because we did not follow Him today? What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain? What if God did not walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day? What if God took away the Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today? What if God had not sent His only begotten Son because He’d rather see us pay the price for our own sins? What if the door of the church were closed because we did not open the door of our heart? What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others? What if God would not hear us today because we refused to listen to Him yesterday? What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service? What if God met our needs the way we give Him our lives? The late and lamented Foy Smith used to tell the following story, and added a few thoughts to drive the point home. A preacher was sitting in his office one Sunday morning. It was time for him to go into the pulpit. A friend tapped on the door and entered the office to see what was causing the delay. There the preacher sat in his chair looking out the window. He could see for miles down into the valley below. When asked why he was weeping, the preacher replied, “I was sitting here looking out over the valley. I see hundreds of houses. I see people going about their business and most of them are lost, and I can’t do anything about it.” The friend replied, “Quit crying, you’ll get over it.” The preacher responded, “I know it. That’s why I’m crying!” Have we forgotten how to cry over lost souls? We are so used to seeing hundreds and thousands all around us who are all but impossible to reach with the gospel and, with a shrug, we learn to let them go on with a “so what”, dismissive attitude. Our Lord wept as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). His agony is also evident in the reading of Matthew 23:37-38. If Jesus wept over lost souls, so should we. May we never try to comfort the soul winner by saying, “Dry your eyes, quit crying. You’ll get over it!” Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing dries sooner than a tear.” But it was the apostle Paul, who by inspiration said, “...Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Is it not time we start shedding these kinds of tears?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Must We?


I recently read about a touching moment in sports. It took place at a women’s softball game in April 2009. Central Washington and Western Oregon faced off against each other, the winner to receive a bid to the NCAA’s Division II playoffs. Sara Tucholsky, a Western Oregon player, came to the plate in the second inning with the scored tied 0-0 and two runners on base. Sara had never hit a homerun, however, things were about to change. She connected with a pitch and hit the ball over the center field fence. Due to her excitement, she missed touching first base. She stopped, turned to go back to the base, oddly twisting her body, tearing her ACL, and collapsing to the ground. Her first base coach wanted to run out to help her, but if she touched her, she would have been counted out. As Sara lay on the ground, the umpires conferred and determined that the best thing to do was allow Western Oregon to substitute a pinch runner to first base (also cancelling her homerun). The coach prepared to make the substitution when she heard a voice, “Excuse me! Would it be okay if we carried her around the bases and she touched each bag?” In softball, a teammate can’t touch a player running the bases, but there’s no rule says the opponents can’t touch the runner. So, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, two Central Washington players, offered to carry Sara around the bases so her homerun would not be counted as a single. These two players gently picked up Sara and carried her around the bases, allowing her to tap each base along the way. When asked why she did it, Mallory said, “Honestly, it’s one of those things that I hope anyone would do for me...” In other words, she was practicing the “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:9-12).

[Romans 13:1-2] In many circumstances we desire to help others in their times of need, not because we have to, but because our love for others demands action. There are also times when, because we love our self, we must take action to keep from trouble. “Right Lane MUST Turn Right.” The, “MUST”, lets the driver know that in no uncertain terms that going straight ahead in the right lane is not an option. What is it in human nature that so often chafes against the “musts” of life? Is it a prideful desire to be self-directed, answerable to none? Jesus submitted to his parents (Luke 2:41-51) and to his Father’s will (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). In this he models for us the humble, obedient spirit God desires in each of us. For Jesus, what was the ultimate “must”? “...he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed...” (Matthew 16:21; Luke 17:25; 24:6-7). What “musts” apply to us? “...anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). This “must” applies to far more than simply believing God exists. Most people do. But God rewards only those who seek him. “...You must be born again” (John 3:6-7). Baptism – being born of water and the Spirit is a must if we want to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:14-16; Titus 3:3-7). Then, “...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We may exercise our free will not to seek God, not to be baptized and ignore God’s will for our life, but we do not have any choice about appearing before the judgment seat of Christ. There is no escaping it. God says we MUST, and there is no eternal alternative.