Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Me?


Pro 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all
the days of her life.


I was sitting in the midst of 500 cops at a funeral, listening to the eulogies for a well-loved and well respected officer, thinking of how blessed the man was. He was an investigator, worked at the hospital on his day off, coached two basketball teams, taught Sunday school, was a mentor and a great family man. Whew! How did the man do it all?

I got to thinking then about my wife and all she does and all she is, and it suddenly hit me how blessed I am to have a person like this.

One of the first things I want to ask my Savior after I bow and give Him all the glory He deserves, "Why me? Why was I the most blessed person I have ever met?"

He has given me such a well favored life, a great family, ministry, church, all the nice things in life, the blessings of being an American, a Nebraskan, a Christian, Yes, even a Baptist.

However, besides the great salvation He has given this undeserving sinner, He has blessed me with a lady who is the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. She is as virtuous as they come. Her price is far above rubies. She has done me nothing but good. She is the fairest of ten thousand.

I know it would only be right for any man to speak so highly of his wife, I would expect nothing less from any decent man. But for me, it is not hyperbole; it is God's honest truth. There is no better wife than the one God has given me.

And so I give thanks to the One Who has blessed me with all spiritual blessings and a great life, to boot!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Of Agur, Lemuel and Shlomo


Pro 31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. 2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? 3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Don't be confused, these are all names for Solomon.

Though he was taught well, and though he ended well, his great wisdom took a hike in the intervening years. And these verses give us the reason. He didn’t listen to his mama.

Rather than taking solace in the Lord, he decided to look everywhere else. Women were his chief downfall. After having 1000 women, many of them heathen or pagan, after trying everything the world had to offer looking for fulfillment and satisfaction: horses, chariots, money, music, etc., he finally realized that all the world had to offer was vain emptiness.

Had he only listened to Bathsheba, he wouldn't have experienced so many wasted years.

“Give not thy strength unto women,” she instructed him. Oh, if only he'd have paid heed to mama's wise words. She knew what destroys kings. She'd committed adultery with his daddy and watched him wallow in the muck of being backslidden for one whole year. It wasn't pretty.

But, sometimes kids gotta learn for themselves, and Solomon did so. The book Ecclesiastes is the result.

Perhaps we will be wiser than the wisest man to ever live (?) by reading these wise words and paying heed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Going the See the Spiders Today


Pro 30:28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.

Ah, it's Sunday, the Lord's day. The sun hasn't yet peeked its noble illumination over the horizon yet, but all indications are he will soon rise in an array of light and glory. Nature will soon begin to stir and another day will be upon us.

As I prepare to take my Sunday morning trek to the house of God, I am sure the spiders there have already checked there webs for their morning meal. For even lowly spiders, little upon the earth, are exceedingly wise. They know that, in the King's palace, they can find food.

I hope and pray that the King's kids show up in force to partake of the meat from His table. May we be as faithful in His house as the lowly spider.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Son of the Vomiter? Huh?


Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, 2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. 3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. 4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? 5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

A first glance at the primary verse of the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs may cause some confusion. If Solomon wrote the Proverbs, who could this Agur person be? And who is the Jakeh from which he came? Who are Ithiel and Ucal to whom he is speaking these words?

We have to remember that Proverbs is one of the five books of poetry in the Bible, along with Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. All of which Solomon had a hand in writing. Like his father David, Solomon was given to aesthetics. Unlike David, he was not a fighter, but like dad, he was a lover. I mean, 700 wives and 300 concubines? He knew the best pick-up lines, how best to phrase them and when to use them. "I compare you, oh my love, to a company of horses." (Canticles 1) What potential concubine wouldn't fall for that line!

Being a man of descriptive words, Solomon gives us some very interesting descriptors in verse one.

Here is how the Latin Vulgate gives this verse:
Verba congregantis filii vomentis: visio, quam locutus est sir, cum quo est Deus, et qui Deo secum morante confortatus, ait.

And now, the translation: “The words of the collector, the son of the vomiter: the vision of the man who has God with him, and who is fortified by God dwelling with him, saith.”

Strong's defines our four entities as:
Agur - gathered
Jakeh - obedient
Ithiel - God has arrived
Ucal - devoured

Hence, Solomon has gathered this prophecy in obedience upon the arrival of the Lord (in His wisdom) and has meditated on them. From this wise prophecy, Solomon then shares it with us.

What have we gathered from the Lord? Having meditated upon what we have received, will we be obedient to the message His Spirit has given us?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Investigator Howe, Rest in Peace


Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Late last evening, our Senior Chaplain called me with some tragic news and asked me to come in to police headquarters to help minister to the officers who minister to us.

Investigator Tony Howe was tragically taken from us last night in an auto accident which occurred while travelling on the Interstate from York to Lincoln where he has worked for the past 8 years with LPD. He had previously served with the York Police Department and the York County Sherriff’s Office. At one time he was a K-9 officer.

Our prayers are with his young wife and three young children and his LPD family.

Tony was greatly loved and respected by our department and will be greatly missed.

Tony, RIP.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fearing Man or Trusting God


J. Frank Norris

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Great freedom ensues when we give up our fear of man and trust God comepletely.

Daniel threw open his windows and prayed when the law said it was illegal. Down into the lion's den he went for his disregard of the king's decree. But God took good care of the man who feared only Him.

Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego stood firm in defiance of the command to do obeisance to the idol when the music played. Into the furnace they went for their lack of fear of the king. But God walked in the fire with them and not a hair of their heads was seared.

Pharaoh’s chariots bore down upon the Jews as they stood on the shore of the Red Sea, but Moses, who had met God at the burning bush, would not fear the Egyptian armies. Instead, he raised his cane over the sea and proclaimed, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!" The waters parted, Israel crossed over on dry ground and their assailants were drowned as the waters returned.

The Disciples preached when the magistrates told them they couldn't. "We ought to obey God rather than men." they replied and then preached to the very ones who told them they couldn't. They sought to slay them but God used Gamaliel to speak up on behalf of the Disciples. They were beaten and released. But the Apostles went on their way rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus' name. The result... "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

It was said of J. Frank Norris, the old time, fighting fundamentalist, that he feared nothing or no man, only God. He accomplished amazing things that no lily-livered preacher could ever dream of.

Harvey Springer, while preaching the gospel, had a shotgun aimed at his chest by a man who hated him. He approached the man, put the barrel to his chest and said, "Go ahead and pull that trigger, God isn't through with me yet." The man pulled the trigger and the gun misfired.
Mordecai Ham was threatened relentlessly by his detractors, especially those of the liquor industry, yet he preached in power and their threats and attempts on his life failed each time. He brought over 61 thousand people to the Lord in Texas and almost 56 thousand in Tennessee.
But, how we cower in a corner when some little namby-pamby limp wrist shoots us a scornful look. We shrink from sharing the gospel. When are we going to realize that "God plus me is a majority!"?

The problems ensue and the snares come, not from us disobeying man, but from us shrinking from boldness in the faith.

Stand up for God today. Let the world know that the Bible is true, Jesus saves and you cannot be silenced.

Say with the three Hebrew children, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Dan 3:16-18

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Control Yourself!


Pro 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

Reactions can be very telling. People who lack self-control can wind up saying words they may have to eat.

We are in the midst of debate season as one political party is narrowing down their candidates toward selecting their nominee to run against the incumbent from the other party.

In every debate, at least one candidate allows others to get under their skin and then says something that hurts them in the polls, something they wish they had never said.

Fact is, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. So we ought to keep a close guard on what is in our heart and what we think about, because it is going to escape from our lips when the pressure is on.

Besides reacting with our words, we may also let our uncontrolled spirit spill out in other negative ways. Pride, lust and anger may overflow from a spirit that we fail to rule and the result is likened to a broken down city left defenseless.

God has gifted us with passion, some much more than others, but we must keep a bridle on those passions. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit to help us control an unruly spirit within us.

Guard your heart today, tame your tongue, temper your thoughts, rule your spirit. Ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit and have His way in you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Practice Making Your Angry Face


Prov 25:23 The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

Back-stabbers, Back-biters, Back-Sliders. Sure, they need grace and forgiveness. But what they really need is to get back right with God! Proverbs tells us to give them a displeased look of anger to put a stop to their hurtful ways.

You know the look. It's the one you got when you accidentally taped over your wedding video. It's the one you received when you forgot your child's school concert.

Give that same look to the guy or gal going around separating one friend from another with their razor sharp, poison dipped tongue. Let them know that your ears are not going to be a dumping ground for their garbage. The responsibility to stop the sowing of discord is ours and it is a simple as an angry countenance.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feeding Your Enemy


Pro 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

Can you honestly say that if you found your enemy in need of sustenance you would be willing to feed him or her?

I have known supposed Christian people who are wont to be pretty cruel and uncaring about those with whom they have locked horns in the past.

A preacher I once knew had this to say about a former staff member, "If he was on fire, I wouldn't walk across the street to p** on him to put him out." I wonder, if since, he has said the same about me.

Where is the humanity and where is the Christianity? When we see another person suffering and in need, how can we not have compassion on them, in spite of what they might have done to us in the past?

I can think, even now, about some folks who would consider me their enemy. Yes, sweet, loveable me! But I really don't care to count myself as an enemy to them. If they found themselves down and out, I would be more than happy to buy them a meal and help them get back on their feet. This is just the Christian thing to do.

Who knows, in showing undeserved kindness, there just might be a chance for reconciliation or for winning them to Jesus. And that, Paul says, is to be our ministry, reconciliation.

There is a reward from the Father promised if we seize the opportunity to be kind to those who are counted as opposition.

Alas, perhaps our enemy may be family!

Consider the account of the song "Taps"
"TAPS" is the song a bugler plays for a military funeral.

We have all heard the haunting melody of "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes. But do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who was severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward the encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son.

The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was denied since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him one musician.

The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.This wish was granted. The haunting melody, which we now know as "Taps" used at military funerals, was born.

TAPS

Day is done Fading light Thanks and praises
Gone the sun Dims the sight For our days
From the lakes And a star Neath the sun
From the hills Gems the sky Neath the stars
From the sky Gleaming bright Neath the sky
All is well, From afar As we go
Safely rest. Drawing nigh This we know
God is nigh. Falls the night God is nigh.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Choose Your Words Carefully


Pro 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Isn't this just one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible? As the Holy Spirit inspired this verse, as the writer penned it and as the translators gave it to us in our tongue, each must have considered this verse as words fitly spoken.

I remember the days when I was weekly ministering on the Ute Indian reservation in Colorado. To speak to these folks could be very frustrating. They generally studied the floor during the entire sermon as if they were ignoring the message. When you talked to them one on one, they were very slow to respond. The extended dead air that hung between my comment and their reply was extremely uncomfortable.

Finally, someone explained to me how their culture dictated that they think deeply on a matter before answering. I was made aware that they were listening intently to every word, but it would be considered impolite to immediately respond. That would be indicating that they weren't really considering the matter. Therefore, no "amens" were offered during the sermons.

By the way, another cultural more’ was that they should not look a stranger in the eye, especially for more than a moment. The reason being that said stranger might be a witch and exercise control over them in that moment of exchanged gazes.

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

We tend to shoot off at the mouth without really putting those apples of gold into their pictures of silver. In our culture, we start our response before our counterpart has even finished his sentence. Rude, rude, rude.

You've seen it on the cable news programs. The host won't even allow his guest to answer the question before they begin opining. If the guest calls them on the carpet for their lack of consideration, they spout back, "It's my show, not yours!" How discourteous!

What we need is less monologue and more dialogue. Words can have great power. But they can also be completely meaningless. Some tend to have diarrhea of the mouth (Yikes! Talk about words fitly spoken!)

So, slow down, be more contemplative. Encourage, teach, edify with carefully chosen words. Allow your speech to be helpful and meaningful rather than blah, blah, blah.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Will a Man Contend with God?


Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said,
Job 9:2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
Job 9:3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Job 9:4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
Job 9:5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.
Job 9:6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
Job 9:7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Job 9:9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
Job 9:10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Job 9:11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
Job 9:13 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
Job 9:14 How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?

The word “contend” in verse 3 means to grapple, or wrestle, whether physically or mentally, such as in a debate of controversy.

Imagine that, a person debating God! Can you conceive of an individual in a physical match with the Universe’s Creator. What a complete mismatch! As the heavens are high above the earth, so much higher are His ways than ours, His thoughts than ours.

Fighting or arguing with the Lord would be akin to Einstein matching wits with a little baby, or Mike Tyson squaring off in a ring against a quadriplegic. Could you imagine Michael Phelps in a pool racing against Donald Trump? Or Donald Trump bidding against a beggar at an art auction? Do you get the idea? Let’s match up the champs of the Super Bowl on a gridiron with the Pee Wee champs of Paducah, Kentucky. It just wouldn’t be a fair game.

We chuckle at the attempts of the likes of Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens to tangle with God, but, for heaven’s sake, tell my why in the world we who are believers would go toe to toe daily against the Lord? Why do we try to match wits with the one whom verse 3 says we wouldn’t prevail against in even one out of a thousand questions in a game of Trivial Pursuit?

He laid out the stars, we lay eggs (figuratively, of course). Hey spoke the worlds into existence, I get tongue tangled talking to myself. He invented physics, gravity, the laws of nature, I have invented…well, nothing. He stretched out the neck of the giraffe, I can only stretch the truth. He loved the world, I have a hard time loving my neighbor (don’t be too hard on me, you don’t know my neighbor!).

So why do I think I am going to win a wrestling match with the Lover of my Soul? I am not, but, like Jacob of old, I will wrestle all night with Him until I am crippled. Finally, I let go and let God and, like Jacob, I am blessed.

We lowly humans are so pumped up with pride and ego. Even though our win/loss record in contending with the Father currently tallies about 1,416,327 to 0, we still answer the bell for the next round and another slaughter.

So Job considers the greatness of God and His matchless ability: He moves mountains, shakes the earth, tells the sun when to shine, puts the stars in place, walks upon the seas, designs the Zodiac, He gives and takes away.

How are you going to contend with that? Rather, just get on His side, report for duty and do His will. It is best to side with a winner.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moving On Up!


Proverbs 25:6 Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

Up is better than down, forward is better than backward, progress is better than regress.

The second law of thermodynamics, increasing entropy, states that everything tends toward decay. The rubber on your tires never increases as you drive. Lincoln's head will never go deeper into the tread after a cross country trip. Unfortunately, this regression can sometimes apply to our careers, relationships and even our "get up and go." Be honest, has your get up and go got up and went?

My encouragement is that we set realistic goals in life, pace ourselves, stay the course and keep moving forward. One step forward and two steps backwards will never win the race.

In our day of instant gratification, young people are conditioned to think they should have it all right off the bat. They don't realize that those who went before them started at the bottom and worked their way up. Nice cars and homes were only a dream at the beginning. They had to work hard for what they have and it took years, even decades to achieve "success." But the younger set wants it all right now. That's not the way it works.

It is better to advance in life, peak at the right time and then bask in the rewards of accomplishment.

Let's relate that to spiritual things. We dare not be spiritual flash in the pans. How many newbies in the faith start out with a bang but finish with a whisper? Paul tells us to run the race with patience. It is a marathon, not a dash. Our goal is to continue to grow in grace as days, months and years pass. Regression in the spiritual life is called backsliding - an Old Testament word and a New Testament practice! Not a good thing.

Folks, the best call is the call to come up, the call to move forward.

And one glad day we will hear the blessed call "come up hither" from our Lord and off to glory we will go into the presence of the Prince Whom our eyes will see!

Luke 14:8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be Patient!


Pro 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

Being born sinners, we are all a long way from perfection. I can assure you that my silver still has a lot of dross to be scraped away by the Finer, the heavenly Silver Smith.

It takes a lot of heat to melt silver, 1763.474 °F, and to boil silver, 4013.6 °F. This intensity is beyond my feeble comprehension. Yet, that kind of fire is what is needed to separate the good stuff from the dross. The end result is pure, precious silver, ready to be shaped into beauty and use.

The fire hurts tremendously, but the refining of the silver is a must if the beautiful desired product is to be achieved.

Our progress through this life is fraught with heartache and pain. Attacks and temptation are unleashed upon us by the imps of hell. Trials and tests are allowed by heaven. But the Lord has one major purpose in them all, separation of dross from precious metal so it can be made into something glorious.

On the part of the metal, patience is required. The Refiner wishes to destroy only the dross, not the silver. The fire is a friend, not a foe. We must hang in there with great patience, learning that the Son of God still accompanies His children through the fires. He assures them that only their bonds will be burnt away and the smell of smoke will not be on them when they emerge from the furnace.

Be patient in your struggles, God is watching you with great compassion and care, and has your finished product in mind.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Ogallala Aquifer and the Glory of God


Pro 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. 3 The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.

There is a concealed thing underneath us. It ranges from 100 to 400 feet below Nebraska and 7 other Mid-Western states. It is called the Ogallala Aquifer and is basically an underground lake with a depth of anywhere between a few feet to almost 1000 feet.

I have always scratched my head when considering this body of water underneath what was once called the Great American Desert. Our area is now call "flyover country" by the movers and shakers from the coasts of the US. But a hundred and 50 years or so ago, it was called a desert. People had no idea that these treeless plains would be the bread basket of the world with some of the richest, most productive soil.

Only God knew of the vast resource, a hidden sea, below our feet, that would provide drinking water and irrigation to millions. I glorify our great Creator, Who has wondrously concealed this amazing lake many fathoms beneath our homes, roadways, cities and farmlands.

I wonder what other amazing things God has concealed, waiting for kings and others to search out.

Here are a few things that have not yet been disclosed:

1. The great and marvelous works of God
Job 5:8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: 9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number: 10 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: 11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.

2. God's greatness.
Psa 145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

3. Space, inner-earth, men's hearts.
Pro 25:3 The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4. The wisdom and knowledge of God.
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

5. The Riches of Christ.
Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Don't Celebrate Too Soon


Pro 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

When the bad guy is going down, don't throw a party. If he is imploding, don't interrupt the process. The righteous Judge of all the earth will do right, in His good time. But we can short circuit God's justice if our heart is in the wrong place, rejoicing at their downfall.

Though God is angry with the wicked everyday (Ps 9:5), He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). Your enemies, God's enemies are souls for which Jesus died. They will pay dearly for their blasphemy and their mistreatment of God's anointed. But they are His creation and the target of His salvation.

WHAT IF your ungodly enemy repents and becomes a great servant of the Lord? Have you given that any thought? “Well, they’ll never do that!” you say, but YOU DID! (Didn’t you?)

It is best to leave the evil doer in the hands of the Just One. Our wrath worketh not the righteousness of God, James 1:20.

So, when the bad guy's going down, don't party, just get out of God's way and let the Sovereign Lord have His will and way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Key to a Successful Christian Life


Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:

It is a "not if, but when" proposition when it comes to a Christian falling down. But, what we do once we fall is vital. We can continue to beat ourselves up, bemoaning what wicked sinners we are (which is true!) and stay down. Or we can immediately get right with God, accepting His pardon and grace, wipe off the seat of our pants, learn our lessons and go on to greater service for Christ.

Staying down when we have fallen does some serious damage. We need to walk with God, which we can't do lying in the gutter. We cannot be effective if we remain down. There is no joy in Mudville. We won't know the sweetness of victory or the riches of His grace until the Lord has lifted us from sin.

Staying down, once we have fallen, thwarts the purpose of the Lord for our lives, perpetuates bad spiritual discipline and gives a victory to the enemy.

What keeps us down when we have fallen is false humility, rooted in pride. We feel that our misery is greater than His mercy, that our groveling is better than His grace, that our fallen state trumps His forgiveness. We act as if we don't deserve His pardon (what was your first clue?) and so we don't want to bother him for a tow out of the ditch. Our idea is to just lay there in the wallow a while.

What an affront to Jesus! His death and resurrection are so complete. His mercy, grace and forgiveness are so abundant. We need not to stay on the bottom for 10 seconds. He knows the stuff we are made of and what our poor choices would be. His plan, the tow package that would drag our sorry carcasses out of the muck, covers all our sin, past, present and future.

A just man, that is, the justified person, made so only by Christ's righteousness, learns to get up immediately after he has fallen and move on, no matter how many times they get stuck in the muck.

The key to successful Christian growth, when (not if) you fall, get right back up. Don't stay down! God’s tow truck is on the way as soon as you make the emergency call.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Garbage Dumps and Cesspools


Pro 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. 24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

I just wasted about 20 minutes of my life listening to a self-important atheist, Penn Jillette, droning on and on, impressed with the sound of his own voice as he spewed his incredulity about us whack-job Christians. Please, pass me an aspirin! They so like to hear themselves. I wonder how advanced their "free thought" would be if it weren't for the internet, which they do their best to dominate.

Have you noticed, the negative, narcissist nay-sayers are under as many rocks as mully-grubs? And not just the hatetheists, but also people at our jobs, in our schools, even in our families and churches who can find nothing better to do than spout ugliness and scorn. I am thinking of one gal who calls herself a believer, but must be loved like one would a rattlesnake, from a distance!

There is so much for which we can praise God, why all the negativity? And that brings me to my point, I chose to listen to this buffoon blathering his vitriol. He dragged me down and I let him. (Thanks for letting me confess!)

Scorners need receptacles for their verbal garbage, any willing ear will suffice. Any time we allow our ears to be their garbage dump, our hearts will start to become a cesspool of waste.

It is wise to avoid these angry souls (angry at themselves, at God, at anyone relying on Him) and, instead, fill our hearts and minds with praiseworthy thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Now, it is time for me to cast out the words of the scorner Penn and contemplate the words of godly men who penned the Holy Scripture. I will call it taking out the garbage and draining the cesspool.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Breaking Free From the Financial Slave Masters


Pro 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

I don't think it is a sin to loan money, nor is it necessarily a sin to borrow, but there are better ways. (For example, doing without, saving for your needs, finding ways to increase your income, etc.) In our society, it is difficult to buy a home or a decent car without borrowing. But we must realize the negative aspects of lending and borrowing.

I am amazed and appalled at the Jeckyl/Hyde personalities of most lenders. When they are wooing the fly into the spider web, they are plenty accommodating and nicey-nice. But when the borrower is a bit late on a payment, watch them turn into rude, unkind, uncaring authoritarians.

On the other side of the borrowed coin, borrowers must realize that his or her current status, as far as income, employment and outgo is not guaranteed. Things change, accidents happen, the worm turns. How will your obligations be met when the unexpected knocks at your door?

We have personally been very blessed. Through several decades of life's inevitability, we have never knowingly missed or been late on a payment to our lending overlords. We live by the principle that we are to owe no man anything except the gospel. When we are late one day on a payment, we owe that person, and that's not something we are comfortable with.

Also, our testimony, and, in a sense, God's testimony is on the line when it comes to our personal financial dealings. We believe God's promises concerning the tithe (Malachi 3:8-10, Prov 3:9-10, Luke 6:38). We feel we are extremely blessed financially because we honor God by putting Him first in our finances and believe that He honors His promises to us. By neglecting our obligations, we show those we owe that our God does not supply all our needs according His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

We no longer have debtor's prison, but our culture has its own version of the same. Once you get turned upside-down financially, you are very much in a debtor's prison. Getting ahead is nigh unto impossible. Digging out of debt is a constant heartache. The burden of being behind the proverbial 8 ball is akin to slavery - financially and emotionally. Indeed, you will feel like you owe your soul to the company store!

Borrow wisely. Yield not to the temptation to borrow on depreciating items. Cars may be the exception because of the necessary use of a vehicle. Never borrow for things that won't last; clothing, vacations, meals, services, etc. Only use credit cards IF you can pay them off each month. Don’t get on the carousel of credit card debt!!!

If you are already in trouble, if you are servant to a lender, get some wise financial advice and devise a plan to break free from debt. Remember how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time, and that is key to digging out of debt.

Know this, you need God's help. Start honoring Him, realizing you cannot out give the Lord!

As the great E.V. Hill said, "When your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall."

May God bless you as you make a firm decision to get things turned around. When that day comes that you are finally free, you will feel an exhilaration that is unmatched by anything in this world!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Train Up a Child


Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Surely, you have asked if this verse can be true, and if it is, "There has to be some meaning to it that I don't understand."

The verse means just what it says. It is not the Word of God that is suspect, but our parental aptitude. We wonder how we could have taken our kids to church week in, week out since they came home from the hospital nursery, prayed over every meal, given them all the tools to be a good Christian and then, when they move out of the house, they go wild.

I have a couple of questions. Were they raised around a TV set? Did the family have daily devotions?

Hollywood and the dominant media hate the nuclear family. They are no friend of Christianity and do all they can to steal the souls of Christian children. The ear and eye gates of innocent kids are bombarded and crashed by the garbage of godless entertainment and carnal misinformation for hours each day.

Parents, not the church, not the school, not the government and surely, not the TV, have been given the charge of bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Successful Christian parenting is as simple (not easy, but simple) as the following:
Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

We are raising secular children by pouring into their malleable minds profane and irreligious information and then hoping dinner and bedtime prayers, coupled with an hour of God on Sundays will make them strong Christians.

Let's not cast aspersion on the promise of God's Word because our kids are the obvious product of what they've been taught by the world. Rather, let's shoulder the blame and commit to diligently teach them to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Maker of Us All


Pro 22:2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.

I received three preaching invitations this week. They were in the following countries, India, Kenya and Mexico. Unless the Lord were to do something really special, I won't be able to accept any of the invitations. Were I to go to any of these places, I know I would be met by many very poor people in church and worshiping God.

We have it made here in America. We drive our nice cars on paved roads to nice heated and air conditioned buildings with plush seating. We have loads of personal space as we sit comfortably in Sunday school or in the worship service. The baptisteries are full of warm water. The bulletins are full color. Large screens show the words to the songs and choruses. Power Point presentations keep us focused on the message. Our services are short and concise so as to not keep people too long. Then, we all head home or to an eatery for roast beef, roast pork and roast preacher.

American Christianity! They say that the most segregated hour in America is on Sunday Morning at 11:00.

It would be a blessing if we could go out and win some people to Christ who aren't like us. Whose economic status is quite different, whose skin pigmentation is vastly different. And then, compel them to attend church and sit side by side with us to worship the One Who is the Maker of us all. What a blessing when the rich and poor meet together.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Up on the Rooftop


Pro 21:9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

Ancient Jewish culture made vast use of the rooftop. In fact, the law required that roofs be equipped with a railing to keep guests safe. Deu 22:8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

It is one thing to have a luxurious, large home, but if it comes with the cost of a spouse who does nothing but nit-pick and nag and fight and curse, it is best to go upstairs and dwell in a tent on the corner of the roof.

As humbling as that may sound, there are several reasons for use of the rooftop.
1) It effectively doubled the square footage (or cubitage) of the dwelling.
2) It provided for a better vantage of the area, giving a better perspective.
3) It was a nice place to catch a cool breeze in the mornings and especially the evenings.
4) The rooftop was an excellent place for entertaining. It provided an open space conducive for fellowship.

You will recall that David was on the roof of his palace in the evening when he began ogling Bathsheba's movements next door.

Rahab, the harlot, hid the spies on her roof and covered them with flax.

You will remember that many of those killed in Samson's last great display of strength were those partying on the roof.

During the feast of tabernacles, many would erect their booths or tents on their roofs.

I can think of a few couples who might do well to add roof access to their homes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Excuses!


Pro 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

There are those who make things happen, those who wish they could make something happen and then there are those who simply ask, "What happened?"

In our increasingly entitled society in which we depend more and more on the government and charities and less and less on God and our work ethic, laziness has been greatly encouraged. Why work when you can be a couch potato, watching your stories, the game shows. Ellen and Dr. Oz, eating bon-bons? Meanwhile, that same person will continue increasing in girth, sensing that the diabetes, heart disease and bad knees that will certainly ensue from this slothful lifestyle will be taken care of by family, namely, Uncle Sam and Big Brother.

These same sloths vote for the candidate who is most likely to redistribute the wealth to benefit them.

Of all the false gods that people worship, one of the most insidious is the god of laziness. You and I both know a lot of people who are not only lazy, but they so worship their right to laze about that they get angry when they are called upon to do the simplest of tasks. It seems as if their existence is infringed upon when you compel them to lift a finger.

When compelled to search for a job, take a walk, or simply get their backside to church, the excuses start.
"I would, but my lumbago is acting up."
"It's a bit cold out, I may do it when it warms up a bit."
"I'm going to visit my grandma."
"The cable man is coming today or tomorrow, or maybe the next day, and I have to be home when he gets here."
"I am waiting for my check to come in the mail."

Solomon nailed it when he made this little quip about lazy people, they'll use anything as an excuse, but in the end, they will end up with nothing. And when we come before the Heavenly throne, the just Judge will have one of two declarations in summation: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou in to the joy of thy Lord.” Or “thou wicked and slothful servant, why didn’t you at least do something? Take from him what he has and give it to the industrious servant.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nanny Nanny Boo Boo


Pro 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

There are an increasing number of voices joining the chorus promoting moderate drinking. Preachers and church folk are getting on board this band wagon, or rather, are falling off the wagon.

How foolish! They have been deceived and have forsaken the wisdom of the Word. Alcoholic wine and strong drink are repeatedly forbidden in God's Word.

Those who are greatly ignorant of the Bible say foolish things like, "Jesus drank wine" and "Jesus served wine at the last supper." Chapter and verse please?

But lately I am hearing people who ought to know better succumbing to this folly. The truth remains, wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and WHOSOEVER is deceived thereby is not wise!

Don't touch the stuff, don't even look at it, as the Word says.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Wife: A Good Thing, The Lord's Favor


Pro 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Paul tells us that marriage is honorable in all. Sad, though, how society thumbs its nose at God, thinking it has a better plan than He does for an orderly society, perpetuity of the race and contentment in life.

Sure, traditional marriage can have its challenges, every one of them does. But it is the best of all options, check that, it is the only option.

Only those specially gifted by God dare to stay single, for it is not good for a man to be alone. That is why God made a help meet for man, the woman.

Enter man's feeble options: 1) Cohabitation without benefit of clergy, 2) Fornication, 3) Homosexuality, 4) Polygamy, 5) Adultery, and the list goes on. All of these are weak or immoral substitutes, and some even crimes against nature and society.

And so we find, once again, that God's way is not the best way, it is the only way. Marriage is not meant to be a piece of paper, but heaven on earth. It is not intended to be a ball and chain, but a blessing.

The spouse that God gifts to a person is to be considered a good thing and ought to be treated as such. God has smiled on the union of the home He has ordained.

What I have written thus far, though Biblical, may sound merely theoretical. The practical side of things is that the God-favored marriage, that "good thing" that God has ordained, requires hard, determined, tenacious work. Love, understanding, forgiveness, patience, selflessness, kindness, humility and trust must be employed daily. A couple must never let up. Their marriage must be nurtured, prayed for, supported, counseled, guarded, recommitted and revived. Adjustments must be made on a regular basis as we move through the seasons of life.

Good and worthy tools ought to be employed to enhance the marriage, such as marriage workshops and seminars, Bible studies and marriage and family strengthening movies.

Loving words and healthy communication are of utmost importance in keeping that good thing that God has given in great shape.

May God's blessing be upon you, dear reader as you seek His leadership in the matters of marriage and family.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Words


Pro 18:4 The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. 6 A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Words have meaning! You remember the ad, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen!"? And so it was every time heaven thundered forth a message. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased" etc. When Jesus spoke, necks craned and ears strained. People hung on every word. Folks came from far and wide to give audience to David and Solomon. John the Baptist spoke so convincingly that soldiers and sinners, magistrates and men of the cloth came from all quarters just to listen to him preach.

In more recent years, we contemplate the masses which flocked to listen to the wit and wisdom of D.L. Moody, who slaughtered the King’s English, but pierced hearts and minds. C.H. Spurgeon, conversely, was a master of language and the house never failed to be full whenever he preached.

Wise men, wise women's words are valued at a premium because of their depth. I troll through social media and other venues searching for these nuggets mined from the depths of good hearts and minds to reuse them in sermon and script. I do so because they are wellsprings of life and health.

Then there are the foolish words of the foolish people who have nothing of value to say. They merely spew what proceeds from wicked, selfish, godless hearts.

It has been said, "Great minds discuss great ideas, visions and possibilities, average minds speak of things and events, weak minds talk about other people."

What makes the difference between a wise individual and a fool? It all begins with our view of the Lord, or our disregard of God. The Bible is clear, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."

Our outlook depends on our worldview. If we have a secular worldview, God really never enters into our dialogue except as a curse word. In the end, we are mere fools and destruction is our destination. Our words will tend to be contentious and our cause deserving of strokes (corporal punishment.)

If ours is a Biblical worldview, then God is the foundation for the building of each phrase, sentence and paragraph. They are deep, ponderous words, wellsprings of wisdom resulting in a river of wealth and health.

Choose your words carefully, but choose your God even more so.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crouton Anyone?


Prov 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

It cracks me up to see all those single people wishing they were married and all the married people wishing they were single! Why is this?

Fact is, people need to start considering God in that whole marriage and family equation. If a person ever needed Heaven's wisdom in anything, they'd better pay strict attention to the Spirit of God when it comes to a life's mate. Buyer beware!

I think of my blog from a few days ago (A Little or a Lot) and the peace which that man (represented by quite a few folks I have known) possessed, and I contemplate how God has a perfect plan for each of His children concerning their family life.

Indeed, God needs a much more prominent role in family life. Imagine the joy of the family where each individual seeks to please God first, then considers others ahead of themselves.

Sadly, most homes are full of strife but devoid of serenity. They have all the goodies, but little godliness. They may eat steaks and burgers, but they don't sense the presence of their unseen Guest. Regretfully, I am talking about so-called "Christian" homes. The TV seems to be the god of the home, followed by the computer, video games and other lesser gods. But please, let me just see a Bible and some people praying. Let's witness some loving people talking face to face without raising their voices in anger. Let's see selflessness replacing self-centeredness.

Otherwise, pass the croutons and give me a quiet corner!