Friday, June 30, 2017

The Cane



This past week was a bit of a struggle for me. I had a problem with my back, my sciatic nerve to be exact, which affected my leg also. Because of this problem for several days I used a cane to walk with, it supported me and kept me stable as I walked. Most of the time this cane sits in the back of a closet, but it's great to have it when you need it.

Our son, Kirk is often seen carrying a cane. He has at times had to use it for the same reasons as have I, but most of the time he carries it for a different reason. He teaches Martial Arts and one of the forms he practices is called “Bartitsu,” which is called a “Mixed Martial Arts Form.” Basically Bartitsu is a form of martial arts that uses a cane as a defensive weapon.

I know it may seem strange to be writing about a cane, but I’m mentioning this because of a comment by a member of our church family, Gary. Recently he said, “Some folks say, ‘your religion is a cane (or a crutch) to get you through life when you can’t cope,’ and they are right, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s the way it is suppose to be.”

I hadn’t thought of it in that context before, but he is exactly right. We who are Christians have something that those who are not Christians don’t have. We have a hope, a faith, a belief in someone greater than any problem we can face on earth. While dealing with my back injury there were a couple of times that my cane kept me from falling when my leg gave out. It supported me and did exactly what a cane is supposed to do. Our cane (or our crutch), is Christ and His church and it is doing exactly what it is suppose to be doing; helping and supporting us, keeping us from, falling. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.” Christ understands and supports us, holds us up when we are about to fall, “IF” we hold tight to him as our cane and our support.

In a different application a spiritual cane is also that which is used to protect us and fight against Satan, (The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, Matthew 16:18). That shows an aggressive approach to fighting Satan… so our cane, our crutch is useful in that way also. There are times that we as Christians must take a stand against Satan and Sin!

So, my conclusion to all of this is that yes, Christ and his church are my cane, my crutch, and I’m proud of it, because I know my weakness, I know how easily I can fall. Maybe you need to become more involved in the use of this cane to lift up yourself and others.  Each of us have a choice; we can leave Christ leaning in the back of the closet or take him out and make him a real part of our lives. Could it be that you need to learn to lean on Christ and his Church a little more than you do?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Is 49% enough?



DID YOU KNOW...Any cheese which is labeled as "processed cheese" is really only 49% cheese (even thought it is labeled as “Real Cheese”. The other 51% is coloring, binders, preservatives, and stabilizers. So… does that make processed cheese “real” cheese or only a “cheese like” product. How close to “the real thing,” does something need to be before it is considered… well… real?

DID YOU KNOW... that there are no regulations regarding the labeling of Honey? A product can have as little as 1% honey (the rest corn syrup), and still be labeled as 100% honey. How much honey does it need to be real honey.

DID YOU KNOW… that many who claim to be Christians, don’t read their bible regularly, don’t attend the worship periods of the church, don’t share their faith with others, don’t fellowship with other Christians, often don’t live their lives as if Christ lived within them, yet are still labeled as “Christians”. How much much of God’s directions or commands do you need to keep to still be considered a “real” Christian?

John wrote in 1 John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” So… how much does it take to be a real Christian according to God’s Word? It seems to me that God is saying that it takes (at least trying to give), 100% of our lives to him.
Is 49% of the real thing enough? Well, that’s one of the reasons we don’t buy “processed cheese,” I want the “real” thing. Do you think that God will be satisfied with 49% of your life?

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Come to Jesus Meeting

It may be strange to think of it, but when we say the phrase, “Come to Jesus” it has a different meaning to some than it did just a few years ago.

For example, you may hear someone speak of a "Come To Jesus Meeting". In our American culture this describes a time when a polite ultimatum is given, generally followed by a less polite ultimatum, then a threat or final option. If you are a parent this may mean that “your meeting” is followed by a parental spanking or some other form of punishment. If you are an adult, something more sever may be the result of “your meeting”.

The phrase may be used in this way: “Son, this is your only opt ion and if you do not want to do this, then you can come here and we will have a "come to Jesus meeting". In other words, there will be consequences to your decision not to comply with the request.

In reality that meaning has not changed from the original has it? Jesus came to call all men unto him, right? For what purpose? To initiate a change in their lives an actions and to ultimately save them from their sins. He never threatens, but does point out the consequences for someones “failure to comply”. The refusal to give our hearts to him, to love him enough to do what he asks has t he consequences of eternal separation from God.

We tend to categorize sins (the refusal to obey God’s directions) as either big sins or little sins, but in reality they all bear the same consequences don’t they? A good example of this is found in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

A modern translation puts it this way: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars, their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

What is the second death? It is an eternal separation from God, the source of life, which by definition is a spiritual death. If you want to understand a true “come to Jesus meeting,” that is it. Sin of any kind is still sin and our failure to comply with God’s request brings about the ultimate consequences, eternal death.

How about you, is it time for you “come to Jesus meeting?”

The phrase may be used in this way: “Son, this is your only opt ion and if you do not want to do this, then you can come here and we will have a "come to Jesus meeting". In other words, there will be consequences to your decision not to comply with the request.

In reality that meaning has not changed from the original has it? Jesus came to call all men unto him, right? For what purpose? To initiate a change in their lives an actions and to ultimately save them from their sins. He never threatens, but does point out the consequences for someones “failure to comply”. The refusal to give our hearts to him, to love him enough to do what he asks has t he consequences of eternal separation from God.

We tend to categorize sins (the refusal to obey God’s directions) as either big sins or little sins, but in reality they all bear the same consequences don’t they? A good example of this is found in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

A modern translation puts it this way: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars, their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

What is the second death? It is an eternal separation from God, the source of life, which by definition is a spiritual death. If you want to understand a true “come to Jesus meeting,” that is it. Sin of any kind is still sin and our failure to comply with God’s request brings about the ultimate consequences, eternal death.

How about you, is it time for you “come to Jesus meeting?”


Is 49% enough?

DID YOU KNOW...Any cheese which is labeled as "processed cheese" is really only 49% cheese (even thought it is labeled as “Real Cheese”. The other 51% is coloring, binders, preservatives, and stabilizers. So… does that make processed cheese “real” cheese or only a “cheese like” product. How close to “the real thing,” does something need to be before it is considered… well… real?

DID YOU KNOW... that there are no regulations regarding the labeling of Honey? A product can have as little as 1% honey (the rest corn syrup), and still be labeled as 100% honey. How much honey does it need to be real honey.

DID YOU KNOW… that many who claim to be Christians, don’t read their bible regularly, don’t attend the worship periods of the church, don’t share their faith with others, don’t fellowship with other Christians, often don’t live their lives as if Christ lived within them, yet are still labeled as “Christians”. How much much of God’s directions or commands do you need to keep to still be considered a “real” Christian?

John wrote in 1 John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” So… how much does it take to be a real Christian according to God’s Word? It seems to me that God is saying that it takes (at least trying to give), 100% of our lives to him.


Is 49% of the real thing enough? Well, that’s one of the reasons we don’t buy “processed cheese,” I want the “real” thing. Do you think that God will be satisfied with 49% of your life?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Silver Lining



For the past two years we have hung a Boston Fern on our back patio, both years we have had birds silver, furry, lining. She showed me the nest and I told her, “I know why it has a silver lining…. You cut my hair on the back patio the other day and they must have pick up the hair left on the ground to line their nest.”


Yes, my hair is a kind of silver white, that’s not unusual in our day and age is it. They tell us that we as a nation are living longer and longer. The current average life expectancy is 78.7 years which is an improvement over the 68.7 years of 1960. In other words, there are more “gray heads” around than there used to be. Some have referred to this as “the graying of America”.

I’ve been increasingly bothered by the shift in our nation over the past 20 or 30 years. There seems to be a lack of respect for the “older generation”. You can see it almost everywhere you go and throughout all aspects of our society. Yet, this is exactly the opposite of how God’s word tells us it should be.

Proverbs 16:31 tells us, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” In Leviticus 19:32 we read:Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.’

It seems significant to me that God links showing respect for the elderly with revering our God? Now I’m not writing this to beg for sympathy for me as I age, like many of my age group on the inside I feel a lot younger than I look on the outside. For me personally I don’t necessarily want or need special treatment, but God’s word says we who have gray hair deserve it. When is the last time you saw a young person give their seat to someone who was older than them. When was the last time you saw the “gray heads” being allowed to go first through a line or even through a door simply because it was the respectful thing to do? Our county and our schools will not teach this lesson, but then it is not their job to teach it, it is the job of us who are parents or leaders in our churches.

The gray in our hair is more than just something put there by nature. It is part of the silver lining God is lining our personal nests with…. It may not often appear that it is near us or that we have access to it, but if we stop and think about it is always there if we are near our God. In Isaiah 46:4, God says: “Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.

Our God “Has done it” and will continue. Even when we don’t feel very appreciated or respected the one who truly counts in our life appreciates, loves and respects us.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Do You Want To Live?




There is an old movie from the 1980's, Conan the Barbarian. At one point in the movie Conan and his group of warriors are fighting and as they face battle with overwhelming odds one asks the other, "What's the matter, do you want to live forever". The thought expressed, being that there in no better way to die than in battle or that life is not worth living without facing a challenge. A great inspiring thought, but how close to reality?

While I was in the hospital for tests a while back and I was asked a question I had never been asked

before. The doctor came in and talked about the procedure I was going to have and asked, "Do you have a living will?" I told him, "Yes, I do." He said, well I have to ask this, "If something happens and your heart stops during this procedure, do you want us to try and bring you back?" Now that will make you sit up and take notice! I had to stop and think and ask a couple of questions to make sure I understood. I then told him, "Yes, bring me back."

What is it you want, what is really important to you? I'm reminded of a incident in the life of Jesus as he left the city of Jericho recorded in Mark 10:46 and following. Notice what happened: "And so they reached Jericho. Later, as Jesus and his disciples left town, a great crowd was following. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" "Be quiet!" some of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, "Tell him to come here." So they called the blind man. "Cheer up," they said. "Come on, he’s calling you!" Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.  "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked. "Teacher," the blind man said, "I want to see!"

The man, Bartimaeus, didn't have to ask questions for clarification, he didn't have to stop and think about it, he knew exactly what he wanted and Jesus granted his request.

What is it YOU want more than anything? Most folks, when given time to think about it would like to avoid death, they would say, "I want to live and if possible, to live forever". Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I want to live and I know I have eternal life because of God's promises! John wrote fabulous words of encouragement in 1 John 5:13. Notice what he says: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

There's an old gospel song that says, "I know, I know, there's no doubt about it, he's real in my heart and I'm going to shout it". That's the feeling you have when you understand that you have life with Christ! Do you want to live? Yes! Then go to the book and see what he tells you that you must do! In fact read the whole chapter of Romans 6 for a starter.

May our God bless you with success in your attempt to live forever!

Monday, March 27, 2017

GRACIE'S HAIR




My wife helps teach in our church’s preschool in the class for 4 year old children. She loves it and is
always being surprised by the observations the children make. Little Gracie is in the class, and Gracie is always easy to spot because she has a beautiful head of red hair.

This last week the children were sitting in a row watching an activity going on. My wife was sitting behind the children and over heard when a little 4 year old boy leaned over to Gracie and ask, “Do you dye your hair?” Gracie turned to him and said, “No, it’s all my own.”
 
The question is; what prompted the little guy to ask the question? Obviously, Gracie’s hair is different from most of the other kids. It would seem likely though that he knows someone who dyes their hair.

Often in our world today it’s hard to know what is real and what is not real. People do a great job of disguising things as well as themselves. Most of the time only the outside is changed, which only disguises what lies underneath. Obviously many people do this, that’s why “plastic” surgeons make a good living. That’s why cosmetic companies thrive and clothing companies work hard to design the latest trendy clothing. We want to look good and feel good about ourselves.

Sometimes we wonder what is real and what is not in the religious world, don’t we? There are hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of churches, (religious belief’s) in our world. How can we know what is real and what is not. Most everybody in our county knows about Jim Jones and his “church”. They know the meaning of the phrase, “drinking the cool aid” also. Jim Jones was the church leader who convinced 918 of his followers to drink cool aid with cyanide in it and kill themselves. We think about that and wonder, “How could they not realize this was not God’s message for His church today?” “How could they not know this was not real?”

If you look at the person next to you, can you tell if they dye their hair? It’s a silly question I know, but unless it is a really bad dye job, you may not be able to tell. However if you worked with hair on a daily basis you most probably could tell immediately what is real or what was not.

There is a way to discover the truth though isn’t there… by study, by exposure, but being instructed. In John 8:32 Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In John 17:17 we read, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth,” (NIV) “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth”. (NLT) You see, if you spend enough time with God’s Word, you will be able to recognize what is real and what is not.

As you look at your life, is it real or is it fake? Do you dye your spiritual life (change it on the outside) to make it look good to others, or is it really you? Are you drinking the cool aid, just because someone gives it too you, or are you able to tell what is real?