Archives for : May2014

Laughing at God

Righteous Nation

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will,”( Proverbs 21:1, ESV).

In the early 1980’s, Zimbabwe suffered a debilitating drought. I remember one evening watching the nation’s parliament on television debating the measures they should take to alleviate the suffering.

One speaker, Anglican bishop Dube, to his credit, stood and suggested that they should pray for rain. I’ll never forget what happened next. The entire house of parliament broke up in helpless, knee slapping laughter.

I wondered that night how long God would permit his being mocked before he responded.

I love the Wise Man’s declaration that no matter how great and how powerful a nation’s leader thinks he is, he is actually being led wherever God directs him. He’s a pawn in the hand of the Almighty!

I am grateful that politicians in America invoke God’s name more often than they do in many countries in the world, but I wonder if legislation in this country reflects the principles of a nation that wants to please God.

In ancient days God demanded that Israel live under his rule and control. I have just one question for you. When did God quit caring that nations be righteous?

–by Stan Mitchell

MAY 24, 1965

ON MAY 24, 1965, A young gray-cheeked thrush was captured in central Illinois as it was on its way north for the summer…

Scientists glued a tiny transmitter to the feathers on the bird’s back and then released it.  Local receivers began picking up the signals and thus were able to keep track of the bird’s movements…

The scientists also equipped a plane with a receiver, which took off and was soon picking up signals from the bird.  The pilot tracked the thrush for about eight hours through the night sky, during which time it passed directly over the city of Chicago.  It’s course was so exact that the pilot was able to land, refuel, and plot where the bird would be out over Lake Michigan, including the exact time it would be at a particular spot.  When he circled at that point, the bird arrived right on time.

THOUGHT:  If we humans are able to create technology that can track and find a bird, then surely we can trust that the great God who made us can track us and find us, wherever we may be.  Kenneth Holland

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.”  Luke 12:6

Mike Benson

Is it time to stop praying?

Stop praying? Now, that’s not what you typically hear, but that’s exactly what God once told Moses. Not that God was frowning on prayer, but the time for praying without action had passed. It was time to act. God told Moses to tell the children of Israel to “move forward!” (Exodus 14:15).

Friends, could it be time for you to stop praying and “move forward?” Understand this one thing; many of the prayers we have prayed to God have already been answered. He has said “yes.” Yet, we remain in a quandary, not because God hasn’t answered, but because we haven’t “moved forward.” My point is, “Don’t just sit there and continue to simply pray when you can “move forward” and receive God’s answer to the prayers you’ve been praying.

Steve Higginbotham

What is the difference between justice and revenge?

“Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you,” (Proverbs 20:22, ESV).

Gang members had beaten Craig’s car with baseball bats. They had also left his teenage son bleeding and bruised. He seethed with anger as he watched the doctors operate on his boy.

Then Craig made a mistake. He went home, unlocked his gun cabinet, and returned to the scene of the crime. He shot two boys who were wearing gang apparel. Now, Craig faced trial for murder. His lawyer warned that he might face life imprisonment … or worse.

What is the difference between justice and revenge?

These days society’s right to execute has become a bitter debate. Whatever your thoughts on the subject, remember this: when someone wrongs you, or your family, whatever justice society offers, there is another judge, sitting in the universe’s Supreme Court who will ensure that righteousness will take place.

One day the wrongs will be made right, the rights vindicated. “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord has said, “I will repay” (Romans 12:19).

And in that court there will be no release from technicalities, no mistrials, and no mistakes. The Lord will do the right thing.

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

We must look at Jesus

Burning Images

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV).

Don’t you just love computers and digital cameras? I have given several sets of pictures to people the past few days. In previous years that always involved developing film, making copies from negatives and getting them back to the people who wanted them.

For a long time I did not trust the photo shops of under-developed countries to process my film, so that meant taking the film back to the U.S., developing and copying there, then mailing or bringing the copies back some time later. It was always a lengthy, somewhat expensive, and laborious process.

Now I can take a picture, download it to a computer, burn a CD, and give it to the recipient within a few minutes time. Or if I am going into town anyway, I can take the CD in and have prints made myself, within an hour or so, very economically.

Times have changed.

Long before CD’s and digital cameras, the Lord perfected the process of burning images. Paul described the process beautifully. If we behold the glory of Jesus continuously we will be transformed (burned) into the same image, by the power of his Spirit.

To behold his glory is far more than an occasional glance. It is to fix our attention completely upon him with the desire to be like him.

A similar idea is expressed in Hebrews 12:1-2:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We can reach Christ by fixing our sights upon him and pursuing our goal. Though this obviously relates to the setting of goals and purposes, there is a simple physical fact that is also in view. We tend to follow where our eyes lead.

When I was a teenager my father taught me to drive a car. One day early in the process we were on a street in our town. As we met a car I let our vehicle drift over towards the one oncoming.

After safely past, Dad told me my mistake. “Don’t look at the car that is coming. Keep your eyes on the road in front of you, where you want to go. You will automatically steer towards whatever you are looking at.”

If we want to be like Jesus we must look at Jesus. There is transforming power in that act. If we want to go to Jesus, again we must look at him. We head in the direction of our eyes.

This is also the principle of laying up treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We look towards that which is of importance and value to us. What we look at is what we desire. If we look to Jesus, if we continually behold his glory, we will follow him. We will be like him.

–by Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you

Beg, Beg, and Beg Again

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV).

A friend of mine who operates a school, and also an evangelistic ministry, which is supported by funds from international sources, recently went three months without receiving the expected financial transfers. He told various friends about the problem, and asked if they could help convince the source of the funds to send the money.

Finally he was able to correspond with his sources directly and found they had sent the funds on schedule. At their prompting, the evangelist went to his bank and found that the money was there all along, but new regulations required his filling out additional paperwork. They were waiting on him to come and ask about the funds.

How often do we hear of mail, checks, property or personal items that lie unclaimed for years or decades, simply because the owners have never inquired as to their presence? They were exactly where they were supposed to be, easy to find and claim, but of no value to anyone because the appropriate person simply did not ask.

Jesus reminds us that even God will not award what is not sought or desired. He does not force his blessings upon anyone. Salvation is a free gift of his grace (not without conditions, but never-the-less unearned), to those who will seek it and submit to his will. Even God’s nature and presence must be sought after (Acts 17:27; Romans 1:18-20).

I have heard some state that they would never think of “bothering” God with their petty wants and needs. “Surely,” they say, “the God of Creation and Lord of the Universe has better things to do than listen to my prayers and requests.”

God’s response is plain, “Ask, Seek, Knock!” That is what He wants. Who are we to question his will?

There is one caution however. We can ask amiss. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Covetousness (the extreme desire for material wealth and pleasure) is sin, and God does not condone or countenance it even when expressed, as a petition before him (Colossians 3:5).

When we ask only for ourselves, and only for material possessions or experiences to gratify sinful desires, our prayers are denied. Otherwise however, when we pray for those things which will truly enrich our lives and our relationship with God, he hears and gladly answers.

My friend endured great hardship and worry because he did not ask the right party for information and assistance. How much have we suffered, and what blessings have we missed, because we have not asked God for all his bountiful help?

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

by Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour

THE APOSTLE PAUL bluntly warned the Ephesian Christians that life in the world could be a heavy battle…

The enemy of one’s spirit, he said, is not always visible.  Rather, he is often invisible, fighting from ambushes which appear at first glance to be attractive and beneficial.  Paul’s advice: be prepared, alert, and equipped to stand firm.  To the Corinthians he said that we should never be ignorant of the enemy’s designs.  Peter agreed in his epistle, and he described the enemy as one who is like a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour.”  These men weren’t kidding around.  Theirs was no paranoiac fantasy.  They were well aware that spiritual survival demands a dramatic effort.

The effective father also takes this kind of thing seriously, and he trains his eye to discriminate between those things that will build and those that will destroy his children’s lives.  He begins to notice repetitive hostile patterns in various areas of life which demand acute, sensitive awareness, lest from among the good things the destructive elements emerge that erode and tear at his children’s spirits.

A spiritual mine detector might register a few things capable of exploding in a family’s face.  Gordon MacDonald, “It’s Not A Phony War,” The Effective Father, 32-33

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

Mike Benson

Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted

IT IS SAID of James Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing…

The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experiences together.  After having heard of that particular expression so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective.  Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

Few have ever heard of Boswell’s father; many have heard of Boswell.  But in spite of his relative obscurity, he must have managed to set a pace in his son’s life which lasted for a lifetime and beyond.  On one day alone he inlaid along the grain of his son’s life ideas that would mark him long into his adulthood.  What he did not only touched a boy’s life, but it set in motion certain benefits that would affect the world of classical literature.  Too bad that Boswell’s father couldn’t appreciate the significance of a fishing trip and the pace-setting that was going on even while worms were being squeezed on to hooks.  No day is ever wasted in the life of an effective father.  Gordon MacDonald, “No Day is Ever Wasted,” The Effective Father, 79-80

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

Mike Benson

There’s no such thing as a stupid question

OUR ALL-KNOWING GOD

The following questions are actual reference queries reported by American and Canadian library reference desk workers.

*  “Do you have books here?”

*  “Do you have a list of all the books written in the English language?”

*  “Do you have a list of all the books I’ve ever read?”

*  “I’m looking for Robert James Waller’s book, Waltzing through Grand Rapids.” (Actual title wanted: “Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend.”)

*  “Where is the reference desk?”  This was asked of a person sitting at a desk who had a sign hanging above her head. The sign said “REFERENCE DESK”!

*  “I was here about three weeks ago looking at a cookbook that cost $39.95. Do you know which one it is?”

*  “Which outlets in the library are appropriate for my hairdryer?”

*  “Do you have any books with photographs of dinosaurs?”

*  “I need a color photograph of George Washington [Christopher Columbus, King Arthur, Moses, Socrates, etc.]”

*  “I need to find out Ibid’s first name for my bibliography.”

*  “Why don’t you have any books by Ibid?  He’s written a lot of important stuff.”

*  “I’m looking for information on carpal tunnel syndrome. I think I’m having trouble with it in my neck.”

*  “Is the basement upstairs?” (asked at First Floor Reference Desk)

*  “I am looking for a list of laws that I can break that would send me back to jail for a couple of months.”

Makes you wonder if folks are out to disprove the saying, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”!  Seriously, though, working at a reference desk has to be a bit intimidating.  After all, anyone is allowed to ask you any question, and you are supposed to be able to find the answer!  So, I guess one of the qualifications for the job is that you have to be omniscient! That would leave us all out.

But there is someone who is qualified, someone who knows “all the answers”. In Revelation 2 and 3, Christ includes in each of the letters to the seven churches the words “I know your works”.  God knows us.  He knows our strengths and our weaknesses.  He knows our needs.  He knows the answer to every question in our heart.  He is the ultimate “reference desk worker”. What a great God we serve and worship!

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

Alan Smith

God doesn’t ask us to trust beyond the level of love He has proven

WE ALL WANT to know that we have a safety net…

I don’t mind taking certain risks — I just want to know that, if I fall, there’s a net.  When I was a young boy, I lied about my age and got a job as a construction worker.  I was a boilermaker.  We built water tanks, housings for nuclear reactors, and other large steel structures.  I was terribly afraid of heights, but I was willing to work several hundred feet in the air if there was at least a safety rope.  Such is life.  We will climb to the greatest heights if we know there is a net waiting below to catch us!

Walking in love is very threatening territory.  It is like climbing an extremely high structure.  Telling you how I really feel, expressing how your actions are really affecting me, owning my own weaknesses, giving you my heart fully — that is very risky business.  The degree of honesty and vulnerability that is required for this kind of relationship is far beyond what most are willing to risk…unless they have a safety net.

This safety net is the degree of trust I have for you.  I must know it is safe for me to give you this much of my life before I am willing to take the plunge.  On the other hand, most of us expect our mates to blindly leap into our arms.  They should know that we love them, and they should just trust us!

Trust, however, is never given; it is earned.  The person who gives unearned trust will be hurt repeatedly.  Of course, we must always be willing to trust.  Agape-love should not look for reasons to withhold trust.  But we should trust only to the level that someone has proven trustworthiness.  Even God doesn’t ask us to trust beyond the level of love He has proven.  Dr. James B. Richards, “The Safety Net,” We Still Kiss, 112-113

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”  Psalm 18:30

Mike Benson

Communication is a signpost along the road to affection and passion

…THE DESIRE TO talk is a behavioral tendency, not a gender issue…

There are men who love to talk and there are women who love to talk.  The fact that a man wants to talk does not mean he is weak.  The most powerful men in the world are those who know how to communicate and negotiate.  Every day the heads of countries sit down with other leaders and discuss delicate issues that will alter the course of our world.  Many businessmen daily negotiate multimillion-dollar deals that create our national economy.

So the real issue about communication is not a “male-female” issue; it is a value issue.  We talk to people whom we value about things we value:  We transact business deals; we broker loans; we answer questions for customers.  Why?  We value the paycheck.  That value gives us the emotional resources we need to communicate.  Then when we come home, we expect our mates to do all that we want out of obligation.  We want the emotional payday, and we certainly want the passionate payday.  But are we willing to invest in our relationships as we are in our jobs?

What does that mean, you ask?  Let me put it this way:  Are you interested in your mate’s life?  Do you want to know about his or her day?  Are you interested in what your spouse has experienced and accomplished?  Are his or her feelings really important?  Is your mate precious enough that you care about his or her life?  Communication is a signpost along the road to affection and passion.  If you don’t see one, you are lost and traveling down the wrong path.  Dr. James Richards, “Safe Communication,” We Still Kiss, 139-140

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”  Proverbs 12:18

–Mike Benson

A child in diapers taking a drag off of a cigarette

TEACHING A TODDLER TO SMOKE

 Surreal is an overused and misused word.  But inasmuch as the word is synonymous with weird and freakish, it applies to a video I saw recently on the news concerning Ardi Rizai of Sumatra, Indonesia.  Nothing is more strange and bizarre than the sight of a child in diapers alternating between drinking a bottle and taking a drag off of a cigarette!  It appears that the two year old has had to split celebrity with a four year old Indonesian boy smoking clove cigarettes and cursing with the encouragement of surrounding adults.  Little Ardi was given his first cigarette at 18 months, and quickly became addicted.  He had been smoking as many as 40 per day, but has cut back to 15.

Twisted and dark hearts can corrupt little minds so quickly.  Have you ever had the heartbreaking experience of hearing an innocent child cursing to the amusement of parents?  I cannot understand what would motivate parents and caregivers to push little children toward evil in an already sinful, fallen world.  This story ranks up there among the most irresponsible parental behavior of which I have ever heard.  Yet, it is a reminder of what a small child can learn, pick up, and do proficiently.  He looks like a midget as he sits there and puffs.

A two-year-old child can be taught to pray, can learn Bible facts and memorize Bible verses, can be shown how to shake hands with an adult, can master a pretty large repertoire of “church songs,” can sit in Bible class, and thereby have a strong spiritual foundation.  When tempted to sell short those little, impressionable minds, take a good look at that picture of Ardi. But also remember that we are stewards of these eternal souls housed in little bodies and equipped with virtually boundless potential.  Jesus wants little children to come unto Him (Mt. 19:14).  Today, that means pointing them in the proper spiritual direction and helping these dear little ones to maximize their potential for good.  We can as easily teach a toddler to love the Lord as to light up!  May we treasure our tiniest and teachable trusts and shape and mold them to be the best they can be for our God.

–Neal Pollard

Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless

A Really Good Lawyer

Did you know there is a lawyer that is scarier than either Gloria Allred or F. Lee Bailey?

“The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries” (Proverbs 15:25, ESV).

In ancient Israel, the barbed wire fencing so common in the American west of today, did not exist, so boundaries for land was often marked by a cairn. A cairn is nothing more than a pile of stones, set to mark the corner of a property. Often they would pour whitewash over the stones to make them more visible.

The point of which is to say that it would be very easy for someone to move the stones twenty feet or so over, thus reducing the size of his neighbor’s land. It would be even easier to do this if the neighbor was a widow, whose husband was no longer alive to defend her rights.

Because you can do something does not mean that you should do it, of course. And the book of Proverbs is adamant that there is someone who looks after the welfare of society’s most vulnerable elements. Widows, orphans, the unborn – all of these people have a defense lawyer.

“Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you” (Proverbs 23:10,11).

Don’t cheat the helpless just because you’re stronger than they are; they have the Most High-Powered lawyer on their side!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

I do not have agape-love for you

I CANNOT COUNT the number of people I have counseled who were passionate for their mates when they were dating or early in their marriage but who now despise their touch…

Too many men, being driven purely by the need to satisfy their sexual passion, make their wives feel they are of value only when they meet their husband’s sexual needs.  Driven by the self-centered, immature need for gratification, the man unwittingly sends that message.  When men pressure for sex, pout when they don’t get it, and expect sexual rewards for every act of kindness, they send a message that says, “I do not have agape-love for you.  I do not value you as a person.  I do not hold you in high esteem.  You are not precious to me.  You are only an object that I use for self-gratification.”

Too often we begin our marriages with more personal passion than agape-love.  Remember, eroticism apart from agape is self-centered.  It becomes purely an act of self-gratification.  In many cases we are young and inexperienced.  In other cases we are hurt from the past and influenced by previous fears and failures.  Too many marriages have begun without the tools necessary to build the relationship that was hoped for.  Dr. James B. Richards, “Your Pearl of Great Price,” We Still Kiss, 69-70

“For where…self-seeking exist[s], confusion and every evil thing are there.”  James 3:16

Mike Benson

Do not let Satan lull you back to sleep

In 1919, Robert Weine made a revolutionary film called, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” where a madman at a carnival used a somnambulist, a sleep walker, to murder people for him.

We may think that this is a very unlikely scenario. However, Satan manipulates sleepwalking people to their deaths every day.

We fill our lives with ironclad routines and the monotony ushers us into the future. We become sleepwalkers. When someone says something startling and brings us out of our reverie, we can become grumpy.

Accordingly, when we try to help people see the sin in their lives, they rage at us, as someone awakened from a deep sleep. However, it needs to happen more often. We need to get people’s attention because Satan’s spell is very powerful. (1 Peter 5:8).

God felt the need to awaken his own people, to bring fear and awe into their hearts. We would do well to absorb these passages and learn from them.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4. NKJV).

Will we learn the lessons, or be doomed to failure?

God takes his Word very seriously. We would do well to cement this fact into our hearts and minds.

God calls Moses to lead his people to freedom. First, however, he has to prepare Moses to hear his Word. On Mount Horeb, Moses comes across a burning bush, out of which God speaks.

He says, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

When God is preparing the people of God to receive the Law, he brings the people to Mt. Sinai and demands that they consecrate themselves and do not touch the mountain.

“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16).

In Job, he was discussing God with his friends and making demands of Jehovah. Finally, God hears enough and speaks to Job. However, he has to get Job’s attention. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1).

God delivered his Word with zest. At Mount Sinai, the effect was fleeting. By chapter 32, Israel had already forgotten. He was not there with the boom of thunder and lightning, so Satan rocked them back to sleep.

Satan sends us to destroy others in our spiritual slumber, by spreading his diseased message. God leaves us Scripture and expects us to teach it to others. Yet, we may have to awaken them first.

God will not bring any more light shows and booming threats. He has left his Word to prove the validity of his power (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Do not let Satan lull you back to sleep, wake up and see the power of God’s Word.

Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

George Gordon Liddy

GEORGE GORDON LIDDY

A man by the name of George Gordon Liddy was the mastermind behind the first break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in 1972.  Because of his role in this, Liddy served 4 ½ years in prison. Once he was released from prison, this was a statement he made, “I have found within myself all I need and all I ever shall need.  I am a man of great faith, but my faith is in George Gordon Liddy. I have never failed me.”

This statement reminds me of many of the people’s attitudes in Romans.  As Paul was writing the book of Romans, he was trying to get his listeners to understand that both Jew and Gentile have sinned (Ch. 1-3), that they cannot keep the law good enough to be considered righteous (Ch. 7), and without God, they are lost in sin (3:21-23).  Therefore, they have nothing to boast about in themselves (3:27; 4:2; 5:2, 3, 11; 11:18).  They have not done, and cannot do, anything that could earn their salvation. They can only be saved because of God’s wonderful kindness and grace.

George Liddy may believe that he can find everything he needs within himself and that he has never failed himself.  But there is at least one area he has already failed; the providing of salvation.  George Liddy simply cannot save himself spiritually.  It is very arrogant for anyone to assume they can provide everything for themselves.  God even tells us that He provides for all our other needs, not that we provide it ourselves.  Liddy has already failed in saving himself spiritually.  In fact, we all have.  However, many of us realized this humbling thought and submitted to God’s commands which resulted in undeserved salvation.

Salvation is nothing unearned.  If we received what we earned, we would all receive death (Romans 6:23).  Let’s make sure we keep our arrogance in check.  We too cannot save ourselves.  We all desperately need God’s help.  Let’s always remember the humbling thought that we simply cannot do enough or be good enough to deserve salvation from God, but that out of His goodness and grace, He has blessed those who believe in Him and follow His commands. Romans 3:21-23, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

–Brett Petrillo

Plod with God rather than to race through space

ONE DAY, MY husband and I took up racquetball…

Knowing I needed the exercise, I also ventured into the little box that was the court.  It seemed a trifle small for the two of us, but it was fun.  Having played tennis years ago, in the days of my youth, I managed quite well.  However, being thoroughly out of shape, I found myself running furiously in every direction for about twenty minutes and then suddenly collapsing in a whimpering heap in a corner of the court.

My experience reminded me of many Christians.  Starting off with great enthusiasm, they leap frantically around, chasing the ball and running themselves into the ground, ending up beaten in a short span of time.  This is not the way to play the game.  Watch an expert racquetball player, and you see he paces himself well, knowing just where to put his feet.  He even finishes a vigorous game with steps left over.  The idea is to plod with God, rather than to race through space.  Jill Briscoe, “The Other Side of Redemption,” Here Am I, Lord…Send Somebody Else!, 79-80

“But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Mike Benson

Our evaluation of worship is irrelevant

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him” ( Proverbs 15:8, ESV).

Every now and then, someone will leave church, and say, “I didn’t like that worship service,” or, “I got nothing out of worship today.”

What would you think if I told you that basically, our evaluation of worship is irrelevant? What if God “got nothing out of church” Sunday? What if someone came to church, sang the songs, listened to the sermon, participated in the Lord’s Supper … and God flatly rejected his worship?

Why would God do such a thing?

Does he not call us to worship?

The answer is, “Yes.” But we worship on his terms, not ours, according to his criteria of good worship, not ours.

In this verse from the Proverbs, it is the sacrificer, not the sacrifice, that is the problem. There are those who imagine that they can live any lifestyle they please, then come to church and mouth the sentiments, go through the motions, and God will accept them.

But the Lord demands more of us than a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. He demands more than our fine sentiments and showy Hollywood productions. He demands our hearts, our time, our very selves.

The old prophet Samuel put it succinctly: “To obey,” he declared, “is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Worship is not a question of aligning God’s will to ours, but of aligning our will to God’s.

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Human or divine origin?

“Man traces his human origin up from the mud of mammals, not down by creation of God.  Humanism shapes its peace and prosperity by the collective follow of God-ignoring, God-denying, world organizations.  Thus men seek strength from beneath, not power from above” (Expository Preaching and Teaching Revelation, Owen L. Crouch, p. 399).

Her dad was a robber

He Paid the Debt

78-year-old Tona Herndon of Bethany, Oklahoma, was still grieving after the loss of her husband of 60 years. She was visiting her husband’s grave two weeks after he died when she became the subject of a crime. As she was getting back into her car at the cemetery, a man surprised her and violently snatched her purse from her arm.

In her purse were all of her credit cards, her personal information, and $700 cash.

Police say this man tried to use one of her credit cards at a nearby Neighborhood Wal-Mart. A surveillance camera caught him leaving the store. This enabled the police to apprehend the robber. The incident and the mug shot of the robber were later reported on television news.

15-year-old Christian Lunsford was watching the news and instantly recognized the robber’s picture. It was his father. His parents were divorced when he was 2-years-old. Christian told CBS News that his father was mostly absent all of his life and in-and-out of jail over half a dozen times. The last time Christian heard from his father was a few weeks prior to seeing his mug shot on TV. His father had given him $250 so that he could go on a trip with his high school marching band.

Having seen and heard about his father’s latest crime, Christian resolved to do something for the grieving widow whom his dad had robbed. He arranged a meeting with her in a church parking lot. When they met, he apologized to the woman for his father’s actions. “It needed to be done,” Christian Lunsford told CBS News. “She needed an apology from somebody. If I didn’t apologize, who would?”

Christian told Herndon about the money that his father had given him for the band trip, and pulling it out of his wallet, he gave it to her as partial payment for his father’s crime.

“I thought that was so, so precious,” Herndon said. “Any 15-year-old boy who has that much conscience is extraordinary.”

Herndon told Steve Hartman of CBS News that she accepted the money back and that it was hers to do with what she wanted. After receiving the money from his hands,

Herndon said to Christian, “I want you to go on your band trip.” And she gave the money back to him. *

Due to our sin, YOU and I owe a tremendous debt. We do not have enough resources to “pay” the debt for even one of our sins.

But Someone has paid our debt for us…..

God loves us so much that He gave His Son (John 3:16) to pay the debt for our sins. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

The blood of Jesus removes the debt of those who will: place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), repent of their sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). The blood of Jesus continues to keep one’s record clean as he continues to live for the One who made His redemption possible (1 John 1:7).

When we accept God’s forgiveness on His terms, we are able to sing “a new song” (words by Ellis J. Crum):

“He paid a debt he did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone, to wash my sins away
And NOW I sing a brand new song, ‘Amazing Grace.’
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

Won’t YOU allow the blood of Christ to cover the debt of YOUR sin by submitting YOUR life to Him in trusting obedience?

David A. Sargent