Friday, August 17, 2018

The Can’t Wall



Are you ever overcome by feelings of utter inadequacy? It is as if everything in life builds up against your schedule, abilities, emotions and your resources. It gets to the point where you want to crawl into a hole and hope some abuser of your existence will finally, mercifully plug the opening.  

I know, I’ve been there. I have stood at the foundation of the “Can’t Wall,” beholding its bulk and realizing the thorough frustration that there is no climbing over, tunneling under or hiking around this gargantuan obstacle.

Is one person supposed to have this many responsibilities heaped on their shoulders? Is a gal really expected to carry herself along with the weight of so many others from day to day? Is some dude really meant to be the “go to” guy day in, day out without reinforcements, without rest, without relief?

Are you that person who has gone the extra mile so many times that a marathon would feel like child’s play?

Have you hit the Can’t Wall? The Apostle Paul did when he enumerated his troubles and concluded, “And then, there is the daily care of the churches on my shoulders.”
Let’s reinforce that wall for a bit.

You have your job and all that it entails. Then there is the care of the family, the spouse, the children and the pets. Add to that the home, laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, yard and all you have to do to keep your place from looking like a meth house. Plus, you have your vehicles to keep serviced, running, cleaned, gassed, insured, licensed. Have we mentioned the bills? Oh, add to that the pressures of life while your health is breaking down, your bathroom scales are screaming for relief, your love life is tanked and people on social media have climbed your frame because of your politics and faith.
Consider also the unwritten letters, birthday cards, graduation announcements, wedding preparation and the funeral on Wednesday. Perhaps the government is on your back about taxes, registrations, fees, license, regulations, rules and a speeding ticket because you were in a rush to get all this done.

Cold and flu season is just around the corner because it’s back-to-school time. Yeah, there’s that! Kids need backpacks, books, clothes (with the proper holes and tears), computers repaired, cell phones upgraded, where are those immunization papers? Band, choir and sports equipment need to be bought, sheaves of permissions, registration and liability sign-offs need to be read and returned.

“We have got to go to the grocery store, the cupboards are bare!” “What are you going to buy them with, your good looks?”

The toilet isn’t working, neither is your son. Your daughter’s heart is broken, your curling iron is too.

I can’t, I just can’t! It’s all too much, the wall that I have hit has knocked me down for the count!!!

Now, imagine attempting all this without the One Who enables and empowers us to do the things we cannot do. That’s where your neighbor lives! But you have something, some One they don’t, You have the Lord.

Friend, I will admit to you right now, the Can’t Wall has me somewhat overwhelmed. I’ve hit it hard and it hasn’t budged.

Then I recall something that has the potential to blast that wall to smithereens. Here it is: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 

*I - Weak, unable, inefficient, insufficient, depleted, frustrated, anxious, fearful.
*Can do all things – The other side of the wall.
*Through Christ – The all sufficient Savior - all knowing, all powerful, all
everything, my all-in-all.
*Which strengthens me – I can tap into the infinite energy and resources of the God Who hung planets, flung stars, carved landscapes, grew trees, fashioned life, bought salvation and sustains it all.

The Can’t Wall looms ahead of me this day. There are agendas to meet, plans to make, appointments to keep, people to help, things to do, bills to pay, burdens to bear, pain to endure, souls to save, articles to read, messages to prepare, life to live…and the lawn needs mowed!

I can’t get over, under or around the Can’t Wall. So, I’ll depend on my Lord to change my direction, show me a door I hadn’t seen before, or let it crumble before my shouts of praise like Jericho’s wall. And while depending on Him, I need to take those first steps toward the wall. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Casting it all in

Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

The words used 4 times here are kind of interesting. The words "cast" and "casting" literally mean to throw, by more or less violent action. Nobody really can tell us what the set up for giving was. We are used to ushers passing offering baskets down the rows of parishioners at offering time. Others have the practice of having a locked box in which congregants pass by, dropping their money in the slot in top of the box. Still others place offering plates on the altar and the congregation files by placing their offerings in the plate in front of the pastor's gaze. That's an interesting practice which seems biblical.

But here we have these rich men and a poor woman throwing their money into the collection for the treasury, used to assist the poor. And it was no private affair. It was an opportunity for the rich men to show off their generosity. Note that Jesus looked up to see this giving. Now, we understand that He is looking down, still interested in how generous people are.

The mite was the very smallest coin in that currency. It meant little to the overall need, yet it meant much to the Savior. The rich of this occasion gave a relatively small percentage while the poor widow threw in 100%. When rewards are given at the judgment seat, as all believers will surely witness her return with interest, she will, no doubt, be greatly rewarded above all earthly wealth combined. Think of it, a couple of pennies invested into the work of God, collecting heavenly interest at, say 5% per anum, over a couple of thousand years. Well, let's just say, her days of penury will be long forgotten. Though she warranted the attention of only Jesus and the disciples that day, all of heaven will applaud her sacrifice at the Bema on that great occasion.

I can’t wait until next Sunday’s offering!

So don't be afraid to cast it all into God's work if you are so inclined, Jesus is still paying attention to what's going into the plate.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

What is Faith and What does it Accomplish?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 *Faith makes the abstract concrete. *Faith turns the cloudy into measurable precipitation. *Faith brings tomorrow's hope into today's reality. *Faith fashions the ethereal idea into an empirical item.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Praise is comely for the upright.


Psa 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
(The word comely means beautiful, attractive.)

A good look for the Christian is a glad heart which continuously rejoices in the Lord, and praiseful lips which extol the Lord.

Too many Christians are far too glum. They pour forth the faith from dour vessels. Unsmiling expressions do not adorn the gospel of God, but disgrace the faith.
As ornaments on a holiday tree, so does a positive, praiseful believer make for an attractive religion.

We ought to ask today, are we the honey that attracts or the vinegar that repels? The faith is best showcased by the beautiful believers whose faith gives them joy rather than those whose religion seems to have given them indigestion.

Monday, July 2, 2018

For Those that are Blue

Feeling lonely, used, unappreciated, despondent, abandoned, fearful, insignificant, in decline, depressed?

1. Surround yourself with positive people as much as possible. Have positive, godly friends with whom you can share your difficulties. Don't neglect church, that's the community God has given you as a great resource of encouragement.

2. Don't exaggerate your problems. Pity parties tend to lead us to see the worst scenarios. Instead, count your blessings. Perspective is key. Compared to 90% of the world, you are very well-to-do and blessed beyond measure. The crippled would love to have your mobility, the blind, your vision, the deaf, your hearing and the diseased, your health, the destitute, your resources.

3. Busy yourself with fulfilling ministry. (Quit brooding about self). Win souls, visit afflicted, pray for others. Volunteer at the homeless shelter or one of dozens of other places where you will help people much worse off than you.

4. Is there some sin, some guilt, some habit that is keeping you down? Is there some harmful default that you resort to that always makes things  worse?  Find victory in Christ and leave it under the blood.

5. Realize your position in Christ. See life from God's perspective. As well, see life from eternity's perspective. (Your line of sight is obscured and skewed)

6. Read uplifting, inspiring materials, listen to some good, gospel music.

7. Exercise, sleep right, get going, rather than sinking into self-destructive habits: over-eating, alcohol, too much screen time.

8. Leave the past in the past. You failed? You were abused? God means to use your pain to strengthen you and bless others. It won't happen as long as you dwell in times past. What good is rehashing the past doing you? NONE!

9. Most of all, foster your relationship with God. Immerse yourself in the Word, pray with passion, ask God to fill you with His Spirit, put on the whole armor of God.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Cowardice of Dissembling (Dissimulation)



Galatians 2:1  Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5  To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6  But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. 11  But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Paul suffered much from the legalists. He defended the true gospel of grace against the Judaizers
who promoted strict adherence to the works of the law to attain or ensure salvation.

When he returned to Jerusalem for a conference with the Apostles, they at first acted as if they were in complete agreement with his ministry, rejoicing with him that Gentiles were being saved. But when the legalists came around demanding that gentile believers jump through Jewish hoops, the pillars of the faith suddenly switched their tune to appease these legalists. Rather than standing with Paul in defense of the gospel of grace, they remained neutral and didn't have Paul's back in the debate regarding grace vs works.

This infuriated Paul and he had it out face to face with Peter for his wishy-washy fence straddling in order to appease men.

It got so bad that the cat-got-your-tongue disciples caused even Barnabas, a true grace guy, to be persuaded toward legalism.

To dissemble is what happens when a person bites their tongue when they are compelled speak up. It causes them to act as if they are in league with the enemy to keep the peace.

Obviously, there is a time to speak and a time to shut up. But when the gullible are in the balance, the truth must be voiced with conviction, lest the weak get carried away with the error.

And that brings us to you and me today, in our realm of influence. We should be vigilant and conscious of the need to boldly speak up when error is presented and others are in danger of being drawn into heresy.

As Paul indicated in Gal 1:10, His job is to persuade men and please God, not the other way around.

I see it played out on social media. When a person posts some innocuous picture of a birthday party or anniversary, the "likes" pop up like prairie dogs in the summer sun. However, post a gospel friendly meme and the prairie dogs give way to crickets.

What to do? Dissemble and hide who and what you are and what you stand for to placate your FB acquaintances? Or do you continue to be a witness, attempting to persuade others to come to faith in Christ?

At work, at the break table, when the filth starts flying, do you speak up for decency or do you meld into the furniture like a chameleon into the foliage? To become invisible when you ought to show your colors is cowardice. When a matter arises and your convictions are challenged, do you capitulate or do you express what you know is the truth?

I am certainly not suggesting a believer act like a jerk, I am saying we must speak the truth in love when it is called for.

Ecc 3:1,7  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: …a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Monday, June 11, 2018

I'll Take Door Number One Please!


There is only one way into the sheepfold, through the Door, Jesus. John 10:1



There is only one way to abundant life, Jesus. Jn 10:10



There is only one way to have eternal life, Jesus. 10:28



The enemy offers several doors,



Deceptive religion. There is only one true faith, all others are hatched in the pit of hell.



Drugs and Drink. Life is brutal! We wonder how a person can navigate all the sorrow without the Lord. Easy, the enemy blinds the lost from the truth and then dulls the pain with mind altering substances.



Dames and Dudes. If Slew-foot can distract wayward sinners with pleasure, passion and the promise of love, then, he supposes, they will never settle for simple faith in an invisible God. 



Deification of Self. If a person becomes self-sufficient in his or her abilities, inherent goodness and vast worldly knowledge, they would have no need of outside interference of their autonomy.



Dollars and Distinction. Money buys popularity and if you can gain enough notoriety on this earth, who cares about floating around on a cloud strumming a harp for all of eternity?



Have you seen “Let’s Make a Deal?” Do you recall the sound made when the poor sap chose the wrong door and received the gag prize? Wha, wha, wha, whahhhhh!



There is only one Way and one Door, everything else is just the gag. The devil is behind all the wrong doors.