Monday, January 26, 2015

ADJUSTABLE TRUTHS


Truth is sometimes a hard thing to find, isn't it? I don't know if our time in this world is any worse than other times or not, but truth seems to be cherished less than when I was younger. Truth seems more "adjustable" if you will. If you want to change a little thing here or there to make whatever is being said more palatable, more believable that's acceptable. If you words can make you seem more important, more accomplished, and then embellish all you want.  
This little story illustrates this point. It seems that two ardent fishermen met on their vacation and began swapping stories about the different places they had fished, the kind of tackle used, the best bait, and finally about some of the fish they had caught. One of them told of a vicious battle he once had with a 300-pound salmon. The other man listened attentively. He frankly admitted he had never caught anything quite that big. However, he told about the time his hook snagged a lantern from the depths of a lake. The lantern carried a tag proving it was lost back in 1912. But the strangest thing of all was the fact that it was a waterproof lantern and the light was still lit.
For a long time the first man said nothing. Then he took one long deep breath. "I'll tell you what I'll do," he said slowly. "I'll take 200 pounds off my fish, if you'll put out the light in your lantern."
The writer of Ecclesiastes 5:2 tells us: "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."
While Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:23: "Buy the truth and do not sell it… ". In other words the truth has value; don't give it up for something that will cheapen your life.
I wonder how our story would have to change to put out our light? I'm sure you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16. He said:  "… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Words have meaning, words have consequences. Some of those consequences are seen in God's words recorded in Revelation 21:7-8. "Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars; they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Isn't it strange, we tend to categorize sin as big or little, serious or not so serious, but God says they all have the same ending whether it is those who are sexually immoral or liars. Do you use an adjustable scale on truth? Maybe you should rethink that approach.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

IF MARRIAGE WERE'NT ALREADY HARD ENOUGH



Melody and I went to a restaurant for lunch the other day, not just for the food, but to get away from packing and enjoy a little quiet time together. While we sat there talking with one another I noticed several couples (who looked like husbands and wives), sitting at their tables, not talking, in fact not paying any attention to one another at all. They instead had their cell phones out, texting and checking their email and possibly their Facebook account.

Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence today at all. Everywhere you look you see those little electronic devices in the hands of people around you.

What about you and the other special people in your life? Do you need to send a text to the person across the table to communicate with them? If you do, maybe you need to consider life without electronics.

My friend Ron sent me the following little story that makes a good point. "We had a power outage at our house this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad & my new surround sound music system were all shut down. Then I discovered that my Cell phone battery was flat and to top it off it was raining outside.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then I remembered that this also needs power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a few hours… She seems like a nice person."

I know you have heard the verse a thousand times, but notice it again for me, in Genesis 2:24 we read: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

You know this is not just a suggestion from God, it is actually him telling us the way it is suppose to be! In the original language the word "Cleve" has the idea of "to stick to". Now there are a lot of implications to that idea, but how close do you stick to your husband/wife? How can you stick with someone who you don't spend time with?

Maybe you should try one day without electronics. I know it would be difficult; you have the demands of your job and your connections to others in life, but what about the ones you are suppose to be sharing your life with? Try it sometime, you might find out that the person across the table from you is really a nice person.

My wife and I took an extended vacation recently with a total of about 10 days driving alone in the car. We took a selection of CD's to listen to if we wanted, but do you know what we did, we talked instead (that's a regular thing for us). We are interested in one another, in our cares, or concerns, our likes and dislikes, the things that worry us and the things that delight us. After almost 49 years together we still enjoy sharing sunrises and sunsets and one another's company. We still "cleave" together because that's what God intended for us to do.

Marriage is hard enough without all of the confusion electronics bring to it. Try doing without them sometime, you just might discover the person you fell in love with to begin with.

Russ Lawson



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Never Give Up



Have you ever been to the point of giving up? Giving up on your job, giving up on your family, giving up on life in general. Going through my library I ran across an older book which I hadn't read for a number of years. I started re-reading it and wanted to recommend it to each of my friends and family. I hope you might share this with others as the book is such a great blessing.

I talk with so many people who are struggling in their lives. I read on Facebook about the many struggles that each of you have and pray about that, but each of us face the question, "is there more I can do when I hurt?" Yes there is, so let me recommend this book to you, "Have you felt like giving up lately," by David Wilkerson.

Some of the chapter headings are, When you hurt and there is no physical cure, Why me, Lord? Friends try so hard to help, Time heals nothing, Heartbreakers do not get off easy.

One of my favorite chapters is, "You can't carry your own cross" (very interesting ideas). Then there is: You can't depend on others for your happiness. Why do we feel like giving up, and what is the cure? These are only a few of the chapters, but you get the idea.

You see what each of us need to remember is that there is always hope! You may not feel like it as you grapple with the problems in your life, but our God is a God of Hope!

What is the worst thing that can happen to you? What is it that most people fear the most? For those in the world, those who are outside of Christ, isn't it death? Yet Paul writes in 1Thessalonians 4:13-4, "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."

You see in the end, we have the promise of eternal life with God. That is the hope that keeps us from giving up, no matter what.


Are you struggling, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your relationship with Christ.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

SOMETHING


It's always something isn't it? It seems like always, something is changing, something old, something new, something challenging us, something unexpected. That's the thing about life, it is full of the unexpected "somethings" isn't it? One of the problems I see is that rarely do we credit God for the unexpected somethings in our lives.

I ran across a wonderful story that illustrates this point very well. There's a store-front church which is called Almighty God Tabernacle. One Saturday evening, the preacher of this church was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10 PM, but his wife did not answer the phone. The preacher let it ring about two dozen times but she didn't answer. He thought it was a little odd, but decided to finish up a few things and try a few minutes later.

When he tried again, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn't answered before, and she said that the phone hadn't rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.

The following Monday, the preacher received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he'd used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he'd called on Saturday night. The preacher couldn't figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the guy said, "It rang and rang and rang, but I didn't answer."

The preacher then remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he'd tried to call his wife. The man said, "That's okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, 'God if you're there, and you don't want me to do this, give me a sign now.' At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God'. I was afraid to answer!"

Does God work through the unexpected? Surely he does! Most of the time I don't think we have any idea he may be involved with the unexpected something in our life, but what if he is, what if God is trying to change our lives, trying to teach us something "Life Changing"?

In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus comes to his apostles who had gone back to fishing. He asks them about their success and they tell him they had fished all night and caught nothing. He tells them to try one more time and they caught enough fish to sink the boats. The unexpected had life changing results. We are told, "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him."


I wonder what God is trying to show us when the unexpected happens in our lives?

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Beginnings

Can you believe it that we are now into a brand new year? I know it happens every year, but it is such an amazing thing if you think about it. One of my favorite quotes comes from the book Anne of Green Gables where she says that "we begin every day new, with no mistakes". That's the way it is with our new year isn't it? God gives us a fresh slate with no markings on it, and it is entirely up to us to decide what is written there.

The New Year also gives us a new branch on our road we call life. Will it be an adventure or a mystery" Will it be a challenge or a time of peace and rest? We never know and as disconcerting that concept is to some, it should breathe into us a new zest for life as we face new challenges, new problems, meet new people, have to adjust our lives and life styles. I don't know about you, but I really don't want a stagnant life! If you are not experiencing change or challenge then your life is going no where. It might not be dead, but then it might also. Growth and change show that something is alive.

Right now, at this time of the year, there are more people trying to make changes than any other time of the year. That's why people make resolutions; to help them as they try to institute changes in their lives. I personally, rarely make a New Year's resolution, because I have so much going on in my life any way, there are constant changes taking place within my life. Some good, some not so good, just like many of you.

I understand that not everyone is wired that way. "I read about one poor fellow who decided to make only resolutions this year he could keep. He resolved to gain weight, to stop exercising, to read less and watch more TV, to procrastinate more, to quit giving money and time to charity, and to never make New Year's resolutions again." (Duncan)

That kind of thinking reminds me of one of my favorite Old Testament passages, Proverbs 24:30-34, where the writer talks about those who refuse challenges. He says: "I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense.  I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson:  A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber."


It really is a time for new beginnings! It is a time to make the changes you have been putting off, which may include you neglecting your relationship to Christ. How about you, is it time for a change, a time to accept a new challenge or take another leg on this adventure called life? Don't put it off, make that new beginning.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards, "Bah Humbug," some say… They cost too much, no one really reads them anyway… It's too expensive and takes too much time to send them."

Some may say those things, but not at our house, at our house we love Christmas cards. We love receiving them and love sending them. Granted in the present economic situation in our society we don't mail as many as we once did. But still they are an important part of our lives. Many of us have been forced to send an "electronic" greeting now, which is a great avenue of staying in touch, but I still cherish the old fashion paper cards also.

Each card, each letter, each greeting, (electronic or otherwise), has a message of hope, a message of love, they share precious thoughts and insights about our relationships. We love to get the Christmas letters that often come with the cards, because the truth of the matter is that far too often we just don't stay in touch with those we really care about. We mean to do better, we mean to call, write or visit, but as they say, "life interferes" with our plans.

Christmas cards may be the only time in the year that you communicate with someone you really do care about in your life. We are separated by years and miles from many of our dear friends. People that we love and truly cherish, but some we have not seen for years. People who have touched our lives and helped make us who we are today.

Christmas cards remind us that there is a bond of love and friendship through Christ that can never be parted. As long as we put Him first in our lives we will touch and be touched by others.

We have some old friends that taught us a lesson about Christmas cards years ago while living in Africa. They kept their Christmas cards on the dinning room table and each day when they asked God to bless their food they also chose one card and ask God to bless those people that day also.

Many of you have been a light to our paths in this life fulfilling Jesus' Words in Matthew 5:14-15, "You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house."


So in this electronic age my wife and I wish each of you a "Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year". And, May God Bless us Everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Promises Remembered ...

"And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth… Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (Genesis 9:12-16 NIV)

As we were driving through Southern Arizona and California last week my wife and I were in unusual weather for us, there was rain, lots of rain. It was somewhat unusual because every now and then the sky would clear and we would have sunshine for awhile. During these times we saw no less than 4 different rainbows, which was quite amazing in itself. But as we saw those we commented to one another about God's promise to Noah and his family after He had destroyed the earth with the Great Flood. God said, "I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant…" He said, "I promise I will never do this again."  

There was another covenant even before that one though. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for their sin and disobedience, God Said, "And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring (Satan) and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15) This was his promise even in the very beginning of time that Jesus would come to the world as its Savior.

In Luke 2 God spoke again through an Angel: "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Vs.  9-12)

If there is a message we see reinforced at this time of the year through this holiday the world proclaims as "Christmas," it is that God remembers His promises! Think about all of those who proclaim, "Keep Christ in Christmas."  Many of the Songs that are sung are a reminder of at least part of the promise of God being fulfilled.

We know that the word "Christmas," is not in the bible. We understand that the early Christians did not have Christmas celebrations. We understand that most of what takes place in our modern Christmas celebrations has nothing to do with what is recorded in the bible. However that doesn't make the birth of Christ any less wonderful, any less worthy of being remembered. This one event truly was a miracle that changed the course of our world as well as each of our lives for eternity.


God spoke, He promised, He remembered and He fulfilled that promise through a baby born in a stable. Let's not forget the fulfilled promise of a Savior which was born to us in Bethlehem, not just at this time of the year, but all year long.