Archives for : May2010

Dutch oven deserts – best Dutch oven deserts

Do you have a favorite dutch oven desert, perhaps a dutch oven pie recipe or a dutch oven cobbler receipt? Share your dutch oven recipe here for others to try and enjoy. This page is dedicated to the best dutch oven treats on earth!

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Things that change with time

Here are some new concerns for the “Boomer generation”:

Then: Long hair
Now: Longing for hair

Then: Acid rock
Now: Acid reflux

Then: Moving to California because it’s cool
Now: Moving to California because it’s warm

Then: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor
Now: Trying not to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor

Then: Paar
Now: AARP

Then: Worrying about no one coming to your party
Now: Worrying about no one coming to your funeral

Then: Rolling Stones
Now: Kidney stones

Then: Obsessing over PSATs
Now: Obsessing over PSAs

Then: Passing the driving test
Now: Passing the vision test

Then: Parents begging you to get your hair cut
Now: Children begging you to get their heads shaved

Then: Disco
Now: Costco

Then: Getting out to a new, hip joint
Now: Getting a new hip joint

Most things change with time. We grow old, gain wrinkles and lose hair. People around us move away and die. You may change jobs, and move from city to city every few years. Ever gone back to the place where you grew up to see what it looks like now? Things change. And life can be very unsettling if it is not grounded on something that does not change through the years.

Fortunately we have this assurance: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8).

Even if we become faithless, he remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). When all others let us down, his love will still be there for us. You can count on it. What comfort and assurance that gives us! Praise be to God for his unchanging nature!

–Alan Smith

Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16

Introduction lesson on the rich man and Lazarus:

1. Prior verses – emphasis on those who “love money” (verse 14).
2. Warning against loving God and mammon (verse 13).
3. This chapter describes one who was “rich” (verse 19).
4. Many refer to this account as a parable, often to deny what is taught.
5. If a parable, it is the only one that specifically names a person (verse 20).
6. Parables have an *explanation* (Lk. 8:11), so what is the explanation for this story?
7. Parables are normally identified as such in Luke:
8. 5:36; 6:39; 8:11; 12:16; 13:6; 14:7; 15:3; 18:1, 9; 19:11; 20:9; 21:29
9. Even if this could be called a parable, parables are always based on truth.
10. Attempts to dismiss this account as an account of what happens after death.
11. Verses 24-25; rich man allegedly represents Antipas or the Jewish nation.
12. Some things in the Bible are certainly figurative – God’s “eyes and hands.”
13. I do not contend that every detail in this story is literal.
14. Verse 22 – is the eternal spirit literally “carried” by “angels”?
15. Verse 23 is likely not literal. Neither is the “tongue” or the “flame” in verse 24.
16. The information about Lazarus and the rich man is not primarily about the afterlife—about wealth.
17. What is taught in this chapter about the after-life is true.
18. This chapter teaches that man continues to exist beyond the grave.
19. People immediately know their relationship with God when they die.
20. 16:19-21 – why not mention rich man’s name?
21. Description of rich man’s clothing. Gen. 41:42; Ex. 28:2-5.
22. No “big sins” associated with this man.
23. Word “beggar” is almost always translated “poor” in the NT.
24. Who took Lazarus to the rich man’s gate?
25. Lazarus’ condition (21-22).
26. Crumbs – our typical definition of this word is wrong.
27. Why take Lazarus to this same place day after day?
28. It seems the rich man ignored Lazarus.
29. Lazarus’ fine character is implied in this account.

Repentance: Understanding Bible repentance

Repentance is “a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change of life for the better” (Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 259).

Preaching tips: Tips for preachers

Do you have any good “tips” or suggestions for preachers? If so, please list them here. I am looking for various “preacher tips” or “ministry suggestions” that help ministers be more effective in their work. If things go as planned, these “preaching tips” will be published at a later time.

THE FAILURE OF THE VIRGINITY PLEDGE

CNN and other news agencies are trumpeting the latest findings from Johns Hopkins University concerning nearly 300 teens who took a pledge to abstain from fornication and over 600 who took no such pledge starting in the mid-1990s. These youth have had time to pass through this period of sexual temptation, and researchers found that the rate of fornication between both groups was about the same. Invariably, news outlets are using these findings to suggest the “dangers” of abstinence-only sex education due to the much lower rate of contraception use among “pledgers” than “non-pledgers.”

Ignoring the blatant social agenda possessed by the mainstream media and some in the medical field, it is valid to ask why those who went to the trouble to make this abstinence pledge had the same success (failure?) rate as those not making it? The study’s author, Dr. Janet Rosenbaum, says, “Virginity pledgers are very different than most U.S. teens — they are obviously more conservative, they have more negative views about sexuality and birth control and so, even if they didn’t take a pledge, these would be teenagers who would be very likely to abstain anyhow.” Nearly half of the students studied in this group called themselves “born again Christians.” Another professor at this renowned Maryland university concluded that virginity pledges are “useless.”

I grew up before these pledges were in vogue. Our children have never been associated with any groups that make such ceremonious pledges. I am not opposed to any effort that encourages our young people to stay sexually pure. Yet, whether one signs his or her name to such a pledge or makes an unwritten or internal promise to God about such, there is still the matter of self-control and will-power.

The virginity pledge will not keep a young person from being alone with one for whom they feel strong attraction. The young person must do that.

The virginity pledge will not keep a young person’s thoughts pure. The young person must do that.

The virginity pledge has no conscience or moral bearing. The young person must have that.

The virginity pledge will not offset the natural desires heightened by hormones and maturity. This is the function of the young person, aided by parents and trusted, godly influences among peers and other age groups.

The virginity pledge does not make those of the opposite sex unattractive. It does not relieve peer pressure. It will not govern the actions of others.

Virginity pledges are fine, not faulty. But, they are only good so far as they go. Our young people still need moral guidance from the home that is as objective and unbending as scripture itself on this subject. There can be no rationalizing that fornication is OK if you are in love or if you are dating the person you will be marrying. There can be no buying into the assertion that “everybody is doing it” or that “kids will be kids.” The home environment must remain open, honest and encouraging of discussion, but moral standards must be seen as absolute. God knows that sexual purity before marriage allows one the healthiest path in marital bliss that can be. He wants what is best for His children. Parents, can we expect less than God does?

Neal Pollard

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What is the state flower of Montana?

Did you know that the bitterroot is the state flower of Montana? It flowers beautifully and was once part of the diet of northern plains Indians. The Shoshone even thought that eating it gave one mystical powers. I have never eaten bitterroot and as such cannot tell you how it tastes or what powers it endows.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of a different kind of “bitter root” and compares certain negative influences to roots that feed plants which are either poisonous or bitter (12:15). He warns about how such bad influence could spread to and harm others. It appears that the writer of this epistle is drawing on Moses’ warning about the harmful influence of the pagan nations upon Israel in Deuteronomy 29:18-19, where we read, “so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.'” God says He would not extend forgiveness to those who did such things (Deut. 29:20ff).

Every member of the Lord’s church is one who either helps bring people closer to the Lord or influences them away from Him. Even the uninvolved and inactive do, since their lack of commitment and proper priorities can be a negative pull. Are we feeding off of any bitter roots? Oh, and what sort of roots are we? The good news is that, unlike in the world of etymology, we can change our “properties” and become a source of spiritual nutrition, palatability, and health even if we have heretofore been serving as a “bitter root.”

–Neal Pollard

State flowers: find your state flower in the “list of state flowers” below!

1. Alabama, Camellia (Camellia)
2. Alaska, Forget Me Not (Myosotis alpestris)
3. Arizona, Saguaro Cactus blossom (Carnegiea gigantea)
4. Arkansas, Apple blossom (Pyrus coronaria)
5. California, California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica)
6. Colorado, Rocky Mountain Columbine (Aquilegia caerules)
7. Connecticut, Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
8. Delaware, Peach blossom (Prunus persica)
9. Florida, Orange blossom (Citrus sinensis)
10. Georgia, Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata)
11. Hawaii, Pua Aloalo (Hibiscus brackenridgei)
12. Idaho, Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
13. Illinois, Purple Violet (Viola)
14. Indiana, Peony (Paeonia)
15. Iowa, Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa pratincola)
16. Kansas, Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
17. Kentucky, Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
18. Louisiana, Magnolia (Magnolia)
19. Maine, White pine cone and tassel (Pinus strobus, linnaeus)
20. Maryland, Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
21. Massachusetts, Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea regens
22. Michigan, Apple blossom (Pyrus coronaria)
23. Minnesota, Pink and white lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae)
24. Mississippi, Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
25. Missouri, Hawthorn (Crataegus)
26. Montana, Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)
27. Nebraska, Goldenrod (Soldiago gigantea)
28. Nevada, Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
29. New Hampshire, Purple lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
30. New Jersey, Violet (Viola sororia)
31. New Mexico, Yucca flower (Yucca glauca)
32. New York, Rose (Rosa)
33. North Carolina, American Dogwood (Cornus florida)
34. North Dakota, Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana)
35. Ohio, Scarlet Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
36. Oklahoma, Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum)
37. Oregon, Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)
38. Pennsylvania, Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latiflolia)
39. Rhode Island, Violet (Viola)
40. South Carolina, Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
41. South Dakota, Pasque Flower (Ppulsatilla hirsutissima)
42. Tennessee, Iris (Iridaceae)
43. Texas, Bluebonnet (Lupinus)
44. Utah, Sego lily (Sego Calochortus gunnisonii)
45. Vermont, Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
46. Virginia, American Dogwood (Cornus florida)
47. Washington, Coast Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
48. West Virginia, Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)
49. Wisconsin, Wood Violet (Viola papilionacea)
50. Wyoming, Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja linariaefolia)

Hanover, Germany unique grave

Up From the Grave In a cemetery in Hanover, Germany, is a grave on which were placed huge slabs of granite and marble cemented together and fastened with heavy steel clasps. It belongs to a woman who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Yet strangely, she directed in her will that her grave be made so secure that if there were a resurrection, it could not reach her. On the marker were inscribed these words:

“This burial place must NEVER be opened.”

In time, a seed, covered over by the stones, began to grow. Slowly it pushed its way through the soil and out from beneath them. As the trunk enlarged, the great slabs were gradually shifted so that the steel clasps were wrenched from their sockets… A tiny seed had become a tree that had pushed aside the stones.

The dynamic life force contained in that little seed is a faint reflection of the tremendous power of God’s creative word that someday will call to life the bodies of ALL who are in their graves. Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The Divine Guarantee of our OWN resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. “But now Christ IS risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits [i.e., the first of many to follow] of those who have fallen asleep [died]. For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an integral part of the Gospel (“Good News”) of salvation through Christ (READ 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The GOOD NEWS is that the righteousness of God is imputed to (or credited to the account) “those of us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 3:24-25).

Unbelief CANNOT deter the resurrection. But faith in and obedience to the risen Christ opens the door to blessings that His resurrection guarantees — a glorious new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-58) AND a home in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Robert Lowry proclaimed the power of Jesus’ resurrection in the lyrics of the song, “Up From the Grave He Arose”: “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes….”

And because of Jesus, WE can share in His victory over sin and death!

Won’t YOU, out of an obedient faith (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and be buried with Him in baptism so that you can be raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4)?

– David A. Sargent

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The final week of Jesus' life part

The final week of Jesus’ life part 2

1) The God of the Bible is a God of history.
2) God believes that historical information has value and we need to study some history.
a) Wednesday an interesting day in the final week of Jesus’ life.
b) It is interesting because we do not know what Jesus did on this day.
c) For all we know, Jesus could have taken Wednesday as a “day off.”
3) Perhaps Jesus used Wednesday to relax a bit and spend some time in prayer.
4) Jesus may have well needed Wednesday to rest because of what happened on Thursday.
5) It is very possible that the arrival of Thursday Jesus never slept again.

WHEN THURSDAY CAME IT WAS TIME FOR JESUS TO CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER.
a) In Mt. 26:17-19; Mk. 14:12-16; Lk. 22:7-13 Jesus gave His apostles some instructions.
b) He said they should go into the city and they would find a man carrying a pitcher of water.
2) If a man was carrying a pitcher of water, that was a pretty unusual sight.
a) Jesus gave a command and these men obeyed.
b) They also had faith that they would meet this fellow.
c) This is what God requires from people today – heaven instructs and we obey.
3) The man who met the apostles had a room – a room that met the needs of Jesus and the apostles.
a) This room was furnished with all that was needed for the Passover.
b) This fact is also important.
c) When so many people flow into an area, space eventually gets limited.
d) Jesus sent out the apostles to get a room about not long before it was time to east the Passover.
4) The apostles were given a place that was more than adequate for their needs.
5) In fact, Lk. 22:12 says this man gave the apostles a “large” room.
6) There was no miracle involved in the preparation of this room or even in getting the apostles to it.
7) What we find here in this story is an example of God’s providence.
8) God works within the laws of natural to help people and fulfill His will.
a) Thursday evening (which was the beginning of Friday) for the Jews, was Passover time.
b) Jesus created an institution at the Passover meal that we remember today.
c) Unlike the Passover meal that was observed annually, the Lord’s Supper is observed weekly.
d) Jesus does not want that remembered once or twice a year.
e) Neither does He want it remembered once a quarter or once a month.
f) Jesus died so we could have forgiveness of sins – we need to remember that ever week.
g) We do this by observing the Lord’s Supper.
h) Lk. 22:24-30 – READ
9) The apostles had a falling out with one another not long before Jesus died.
10) What we see here in Lk. 22 still happens in congregations today.
a) Jesus also announced His betrayal.
b) Satan had “entered” into Judas.
11) Moving from Thursday to Friday we find Jesus coming to the Garden where He prayed three times.
12) Jesus experienced several trials (which we hope to study next week) and was then crucified.
13) He spent about six hours on the cross.
14) On Sunday the tomb was empty.
15) Jesus was raised from the dead and He now reigns in heaven.

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A sermon on the word “about”

1)      Today we want to think about the word “about” – another preposition.

a)      This preposition is found in places such as Mt. 18:6.

b)      Jesus said if we cause a “little one to stumble,” it would be better to have a big rock hung “about” our neck.

2)      Imagine having a 500 pound rock tied to our body and being pushed off a boat that is way out at sea.

3)      That rock would instantly and swiftly drop to the bottom of the sea.

a)      Mt. 18:6 reminds us that God will deal in the appropriate way with the wicked.

b)      Heb. 10:31 says it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

c)      Heb. 10:27 refers to “fiery indignation” that will “devour” God’s “adversaries.”

d)     Mt. 20:20 says the “mother of the sons of Zebedee” came with her sons.

4)      Jesus asked a question – verse 22 – READ

a)       “Cup” represents something.   The word “cup” was a way of describing Jesus’ upcoming death.

5)      Jesus went through a very terrible ordeal.

6)      What should God do if people spurn the Lord and His death?

7)      God has not forgotten what Jesus did.  He is still thinking about that as we meet here today.

8)      Acts 2:23 says Jesus was delivered up by God’s “foreknowledge.”

9)      Before this world was created, heaven knew that Jesus was going to come and die.

10)  Heaven also gave the world the “Lord’s Supper” – a tool to remember Jesus’ death.

a)      Next on our list of references is Mk. 10:23.

b)      Mark says Jesus looked “round about” and made a comment.

11)  Verse 19– READ

a)      Verse 20 tells us the young man had been obedient in these areas.

b)      Jesus said there was only “one thing” this man lacked.

c)      This man was not a hypocrite – he was simply being held back by his desire for money.

d)     When Jesus told this man to sell what he had, the man was sorrowful.  Verse 22 – READ

12)  It was after this that Jesus looked “about” and commented on wealth.

13)  Jesus said this man “lacked one thing.”

14)  His life was really about money—wealth—the things of this earth.

15)  As of today, what is our life really “about”?

16)  Lk. 10:40 says Martha was “cumbered about” with much serving.

a)      Today there is a time and place for domestic responsibilities.

b)      If this is the focus of life, what do we have in eternity?

c)      Lk. 10:42 says Mary– Martha’s sister – had “chosen the good part.”

d)     Mary decided to stay focused on spiritual things for this occasion and Jesus commended her.

e)      Since God does not change, He still commends people who stay focused on the spiritual.

17)  This choice is not always going to be popular.

18)  Acts 2 tells us the majority of people have never been truly interested in doing God’s will.

19)  Jesus warned in Mt. 7 that “few” will be saved.

a)      We can make our life about Him and heaven – seek the first the kingdom – or make life about us.

b)      Some in the first century wanted their lives to be centered on God.

c)      These “went about” preaching the word (Acts 8:4).

20)  Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and teaching, and this must be the way we live.

21)  Some choose to be idle and “go about from house to house” not doing God’s will (1 Tim. 5:13).

22)  We are “compassed about” with a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), so we ought to do what is right.

23)  The devil is “walking about” wanting to destroy us (1 Pet. 5:8).

24)  What is our life about?

Porky – Who was Porky?

 His nickname was “Porky.”  If I ever knew the origin of his nickname, I forgot it.  I learned recently that he “received” the name at birth.  A nurse called him “Porky Pine” at birth, and apparently the name “Porky” stuck with him throughout the rest of his life.

I knew him when I was a child and lived in Stanton, Texas, where Porky lived.  I remember him being confined to a wheelchair and that his body was contorted and that he spoke differently.  I imagine that his appearance was quite striking to me as a child!  But I also remember Porky to be a very kind man who greeted me warmly when my friends and I would muster the courage to speak to him.  As we got to know him, our greetings were motivated more by love than by courage.

Souval “Porky” Britton passed away on October 11, 2008, at the age of 67.  I read about his passing in an article written by a Gospel preacher, Rick Laing, who also knew Porky when he preached in Stanton over a nine-year period.  In his article, I was reminded of why Porky was in a wheelchair.

“He was driving too fast.  He was 21 and he struck an overpass support, which put him in a coma for 9 months.  The nursing staff realized that he had come out of that coma when they realized he was grinning at a joke told in his presence.  His once strong and muscular body, however, was weakened and twisted by the wreck and coma, so he was confined to a wheelchair in a local nursing home.”

Rick also wrote of his memory of Porky that matched my memory of him: “His mind was bright, and he spoke slowly, but always so cheerfully with a big grin on his face. … In all the 9 years I knew Porky, he NEVER changed his cheerful attitude.  NEVER!”

How could a man with a twisted body confined to a wheelchair maintain such a wonderful attitude?  Rick tells us how:

“He always praised God, and thanked God for the wreck that turned his life around.” *

WHAT?  He thanked God for the wreck that mangled his body and put him into a coma?  Yes!  Why?  

Because Porky said that it turned his life around (cf. Psalm 119:67).  In fact, he turned to God.  Based upon his repentance toward God (Acts 17:30-31) and his confession of faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31), Porky obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  My father, Glenn Sargent, with some assistance from some loving brethren, baptized (immersed) Porky’s twisted body into Christ so that his sins could be washed away by the blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and he became a Christian.  

His faith in God and the joy of being a child of God were the keys to his cheerful attitude.  Porky’s TRAGEDY lead to his VICTORY in Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:28).

God has not promised that life will be free of difficulty….  Jesus said, “In the world you WILL have tribulation” (John 16:33).  But, God has promised that we can have victory over sin and death through His Son.

His victory in Jesus changed Porky’s ATTITUDE and his ETERNITY.  It can change YOURS, too, IF you will give your life to Jesus.

Won’t YOU?

–David Sargent

The cross of Christ – a sermon on the cross of Christ

1)      In our scripture reading, the first five verses of 1 Cor. 2.,  Paul said he only wanted to know “Christ and Him crucified.”

a)      The gospel – the New Testament – centers around the person of Jesus Christ.

2)      Most are familiar with the word Gethsemane.

3)      Gethsemane was a word that meant “oil press.”

a)      This name almost seems to have been prophetic; Jesus was “pressed” in ways we cannot imagine.

b)      In Jn. 18:1-2 we learn that the Lord and His apostles had gone to this place quite often.

4)      When we look at the final week of Jesus’ life we see firm determination.

5)      Lk. 9:51 says – READ

a)      Jesus centered His mind on dying for the sins of man and nothing would deter Him.

b)      Do we try to follow this example in our lives?

6)      Lk. 9:51 has a message for us.

7)      We want to “set our face” towards the prospect of eternal life.

1)      On the day we call Monday Jesus was hungry and He saw a fig tree looked like it had figs.

2)      Jesus cursed this tree.

a)      For a lot of people, this act does not fit in very well with the Jesus they think they now.

b)      When valuable items are no longer serviceable, they can be cast away.

c)      Man is valuable.

d)     If we will not focus and keep our eyes focused on heaven, we will lose our value.

3)      Jesus not only destroyed a fig tree on Monday, He cleansed the temple.

a)      There were hypocrites in the temple.  The house of God had cheats and probably liars.

b)      Jesus knew who these men were.

c)      God will also deal with hypocrites at the end of time.

d)     The pretenders will be separated from those who were truly loyal to God.

4)      Leaving Monday, we turn to the events that happened on the Tuesday before Jesus died.

a)      Tuesday has been called the “busiest” day of Jesus’ final week.

b)      After Jesus cleaned out the temple, people wanted to know where He got His authority.

c)      Jesus taught people that authority exists and it comes from one of two places.

d)     The things we do come because God has authorized them – this is one possibility.

e)      In these cases we not only do things, we must do what God has authorized.

f)       If authority does not come from God, it comes from man.

5)      The religious actions people engage in are either from “heaven or men.”

6)      Those whose religion is governed by the authority of men have chosen human authority over divine authority.

a)      Jesus offered many other teachings on this day, including the scathing rebuke in Mt. 23.

b)      Mt. 24 – destruction of Jerusalem.

c)      Tuesday was also the day He talked about the end of time judgment (Mt. 25).

THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES, MR. SPOCK AND PAUL

I read a reference yesterday that mentioned Damocles. I had heard the name before, but never read the story so I looked it up, are you familiar with it?

“The story is told of Damocles, an excessively flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse.
He exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held, where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging by a single piece of horsehair directly above his head. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful servers and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.” (Wikipedia.com)

Most of us occasionally imagine ourselves living a different life. We may even fanaticize about being born rich, living in a different place, a
different country, having a different wife or husband. It may be that you’ve dreamed of having children that behave better or parents that love more. We may dream about what it would be like to have a body that functions perfectly or is our imagined perfect age instead of being disabled, old or even young. We might dream of having power to command or freedom from responsibility to do whatever our heart desires. In the story of Damocles we see the lesson taught; that what we imagine to be the perfect life; may have drawbacks or problems we never imagined (like
a sword hanging over your head). What we desire or want badly may not be quite as desirable as we like to think it would be.  I may be dating myself, but I remember watching the television program “Star Trek” when it was first on television. There was one episode that has stayed
with me for all of these years. In that episode the character “Mr. Spock” was forced to fight for the woman to whom he was engaged. He won, but then gave up the right to the woman. He turned to the man who now would be joined to this woman and said some words that tell a truth which most of us fail to realize until too late. These may not be exact, but the meaning is the same:  “You may find that having is not as pleasing as thing as wanting”.

How many times in our lives have we wanted something so badly, only to be disappointed when we finally get whatever it was we wanted? Spock was right, “having very often is not as pleasing as wanting, or as we had imaged it to be.”

How satisfied are you with your life? The apostle Paul had this to say about it writing to a group of Christians who were concerned for his welfare in Philippians 4:1-13. He wrote: “It is a great and truly Christian joy to me that after all this time you have shown such renewed interest in my welfare.  I don’t mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you had no opportunity of expressing your concern. Nor do I mean that I have been in actual need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry, of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.” (Philip’s Translation)

So how are you doing? God still has a lot of work to do on me to get me to that point!  Russ Lawson

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