Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Kind of Water are You Drinking?

Picture courtesy of Zo Guthrie
     For several years now, we have had a serious decline in our rainfall producing drought conditions here in Florida.  Our lakes are lower than normal, and water restrictions have been in place for a number of years.  Water is certainly a valuable commodity which we cannot live without.  However, some water is definitely better tasting than other water.
     When I was growing up, I used to visit my Great Aunt Mickey and Great Uncle Paul Eitzman at their farm near Holgate, Ohio.  We would spend a day visiting and having fun on their farm.  Unfortunately, they had terrible water!  Now they didn't think it was bad but like many farm families, they had sulphur water.  It smelled like rotten eggs!  They even drank it, and when I think about that, it turns my stomach.
I would often hold my nose if I needed water so I could quickly get it down.  They had another faucet in their home where they had treated water which was better, but I much preferred the water we had at home.
     God's people didn't drink the best water either during the time of Jeremiah the Prophet.  In Jeremiah 2:9-13, we read:  "Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,' says the Lord,' and against your children's children I will bring charges.  For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see; Send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing.  Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods?  But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit.  Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,' says the Lord.  'For My people have committed two evils.  They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water.'"
Fresh spring water
     What God spoke through Jeremiah was true.  The children of Israel did not desire God the Father who had delivered them.  Instead, they preferred other gods.  They gave up their joy, their glory, their true lives for things that meant nothing in the end.  They exchanged the all powerful ever living Fountain of Life for sulphur water!  That is how I see this passage.
     Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Living Water and He asks us to drink deeply of him.  When we do, it is life and health to our bones.  When we drink of this world, we are drinking sulphur water and it stinks.  The result is that we stink too.
     How often are we like those people in Jeremiah's day?  Do we get tied up with the temptations, desires, and pursuits of this life to the exclusion of God?  I think we all do at one time or another.  We can tell ourselves all day long that sulphur water smells and tastes good, but it doesn't compare to clear, pure spring water.  My aunt and uncle got used to sulphur water so they didn't think much about it.  Likewise, we can get so used to our worldly viewpoints on power, money, and self that we cannot see where we have departed the path that God has laid out for us.  That's where the Holy Spirit comes in.  He is able to tell us that our lifestyle stinks just the way sulphur water does.  He is able to refresh us and open our eyes to the Living Water.
     Beginning today, let us ask God to open our eyes and give us a thirst for His Living Water that we may live to His glory and purpose.  As we seek Him, the Holy Spirit will reveal areas of our life where we have been willing to settle for sulphur water.  I would rather bathe in His Living Water of the Word than to be drenched in the smell of this world.  Selah!

I welcome your insights and comments.  Your encouragement is a blessing to me and others.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Cactus Flower Faith

From the archives....

   On our walk today, we saw the most beautiful sight.  A mature cactus plant had large white flowers with many more ready to open.  They only bloom once a year, but they are magnificent to behold.  I thought to myself that this seemed to be an oxymoron of nature.  Here is a plant with large needles that hurt if you come in contact with it; however, it produces the most beautiful flowers.  Then, I thought how life is not unlike a cactus plant.  We have our thorns that inflict great pain physically, spiritually and/or mentally, but when placed in God's hands, these painful circumstances can blossom into beauty as we are formed more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
     If anyone was acquainted with the thorns that life could bring, it was the Apostle Paul.  In his second letter to the church at Corinth (chapter 11:24-30) he writes:  "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And apart form other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak?  Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?  If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
     As Paul goes on to describe his current thorn in flesh beyond all these other trials, he tells the believers that when he is weak, the power of Christ rests upon him.  He concludes in chapter 12 verse 10:  " For the sake of Christ, then, 'I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong'".  What a powerful testimony from someone who has been through the cactus patch and is now blooming as a result of Christ's power in him.  Not many of us would welcome all the trials that Paul endured, but his life produced a lasting fragrance in the service of His Lord.
     God's purpose in having us face hardships is not always clear.  However, we know "that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  The key two words in that verse are "His purpose".  And what is His purpose?  If we read verse 29 in Romans, we see:  "For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers."  God's purpose
for us is to be conformed to Christ, and this does not happen unless we learn to lean on Him.  When life is easy and untroubled, we take things for granted especially our relationship with God.  However, when the storms come, we run to His arms of strength and shelter.
     Paul understood that without the thorn in his life, the trials and tribulations he would have tried to do things in his own strength rather than leaning on the Lord.  It was through his weakness that he found the power of Christ.  The same is true for us.
     God's purpose is to conform us to His dear Son.  As a master sculptor, God must chisel away at our attitudes, sin nature and self confidence.  This process hurts, but the remedy is resting in the power and strength of Jesus Christ.  Remember the lesson of the cactus.  The needles hurt to touch just as our trials hurt, but from this painful plant comes a beautiful flower representing what God can do when our lives are fully yielded to His molding and remaking of our lives.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts.  How has God been working in your life to conform you to His Son?  How can you encourage others from what He is teaching you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Consequences of Looking Back

     Over the years, I have met so many people that cannot let go of the past.   I have a dear family member who has this malady.  She complains about the way she was raised and all the things which she missed.  Her mantra always contains "If only".  "If only" she had been treated differently growing up her life would be so much happier.  "If only" so and so had treated her better she could forgive them....etc.  With a focus only on past difficulties and disappointments, it is hard to be optimistic and move ahead.
     Genesis 19:15-26 tells the story of Lot and his family.  Read this entire passage to get the complete picture.  In the story, two angels had been sent by God to retrieve Lot and his entire family out of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for God was about to bring judgment on these places.  Lot was a man of great wealth and had many comforts even though the city was a depraved place to live.
     Lot did not want to depart so he lingered for a moment looking over the city he was leaving.  However, the angels took his hand, and pulled all the family members out of the doomed city telling them not to look back.  In spite of this warning, we know what happened.  Verse 26 tells us that Lot's wife looked back and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt.
     Certainly, it was not easy for Lot and his family to leave wealth, comfort and a familiar way of life behind them.  Yet God was sparing their lives and this certainly was far more important.  Sadly, Lot's wife could not let go of the past even though the cities were wicked.  As a result, she paid with her life.
A famous Lake Placid Caladium
     Throughout scripture, we are told to let go of the past.  Isaiah 43:18 reads:  "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."  Jesus told us to put the past behind us in Luke 9:62:  "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul reminds us:  "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which re ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  Over and over again, God admonishes us that if we want to get ahead in our walk with Christ, we need to put the past behind us.  Now, that does not mean we should forget the good lessons we have learned along the way.  However, it does mean that we are to keep our eyes focused on the goal of becoming more like our Savior.
     When we dwell on past hurts, defeats, failed businesses, unsuccessful plans or other broken dreams, we are a good deal like Lot's wife.  We are immobilized and kept from being what God wants us to be.  We cannot change the past.  We can only move ahead in the future with the Hand of God upon us and His presence going with us.  Like Paul, we need to press ahead.
     Is there anything holding you back today?  Then, take a moment in prayer and release the past casting your burdens upon Him who holds our times in His hands.  Freeing ourselves from the past will allow us to run the race with our eyes properly focused on the goal ahead.  We will run better and faster by looking to Christ than by looking back to see what was behind.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts as always.  Please feel free to share your encouraging comments here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"When I Get Big and You Get Little"

     When I was growing up on a farm in Napoleon, Ohio, my older sister (eight years my senior) would inevitably do her best to tease me.  Since I was smaller and younger, she could run faster and seemingly get away with "pushing my buttons".  I was powerless to stop her.  So, in response, I often yelled after her, "When I get big and you get little, I will catch you!"  My parents thought that was funny as did my sister.  However, as I got older, I did end up being taller and bigger.  I grew to be 5'8" and my sister stood 5' 3" tall.  One day she forgot about my size and teased me.  When I chased her, I caught her and held her down on the floor and tickled her till she gave up!!  It took me a while to get to that point of being able to catch her, but I finally did and that ended the extra teasing.
     All this came back to my mind as I was reading Psalm 34:17-18:  "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
     Now what does this have to do with my sister teasing me?  Well, at the time, I wanted to get even with her and make her stop.  But it took a number of years before I grew big enough to catch up with her.
     How often when we are crushed by circumstances, brokenhearted by people or overwhelmed by troubles, do we want an instant answer?  Scripture tells us that the Lord is close to us when we face pain and troubles.  The Word promises that God will ultimately deliver us from all our troubles, but the Word does not say how or when.  That is God's great prerogative.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not ours.  So we cannot dictate to our Lord just when or how we will be delivered.  If we know and trust God, however, we can depend on Him to be near us and to deliver us.
     I didn't know as a small child that one day I would, indeed, get bigger than my sister.  She didn't either However, I did and was able to stop the teasing.  Likewise, we do not know how or when God will bring about our deliverance, but we know that He will because His Word says so.
     Many of us are suffering with physical, spiritual or mental problems that we need to roll upon our Lord and claim this scripture taking encouragement from it.  He is bigger than all our troubles, and He will deliver His own.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights.  How has God delivered you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Have We Lost Touch With God's Holiness?

     Long ago and what seems like far away now, I remember getting ready for church and wearing our finest clothing.  We wore hats, gloves and nice dresses.  As a little girl, I asked my mother why we had to dress up when we went to church and her reply was that we wanted to look our best to honor God.  I am certain some people dressed to impress others but that was not the motive my mother had in getting us ready to meet with the Lord.  Times have changed and so have dress codes.  People now come to church in shorts, cut-offs and some with bare midriffs.  While clothing does not add or subtract from salvation, I often wonder if this change has to do with our lack of understanding about the holiness of God.  Have we lost our fear and awe of God?  If we knew we had an appointment with the Lord face to face, how would we dress, how would we conduct ourselves, what would our speech be like?
     In his classic book (which I highly recommend to all my readers) "The Holiness of God", Dr. R.C. Sproul opens our eyes to the majesty of God.  He quotes John Calvin in one chapter:  "Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."  Somehow, I think we have lost an understanding of God's holiness and our sinfulness.  It is reflected in our culture and even among Christians.  No longer is it thought scandalous when a young woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage.  Living together without benefit of marriage is common place and divorce is rampant even among believers.  We have become desensitized by our culture to such a degree that few people flinch when someone utters profane language.
     Dr. Sproul relates an article he read in "Time" magazine some years ago about a truck driver who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.  He barraged the officers with every foul word he could utter and when he appeared in court, he did the same to the judge.  His sentence for the drunk and disorderly charge was a fine of $100 and 30 days in jail, but the judge found an old Maryland law that made the use of foul language and taking the name of the Lord in vain an offense punishable by $100 fine and 30 days in jail.  As a result, the judge sentenced this truck driver to 60 days in jail and a $200 fine for both offenses.  The magazine called it a miscarriage of justice.  The reporter was outraged that a man could spend 30 days in jail for blaspheming the name of the Lord.  Dr. Sproul wrote:  "What is worse, creating a public disturbance by getting drunk, or publicly insulting the dignity of a holy God?  The news editor gave his answer.  God gave a different one" (pg. 113).  This book was originally published in 1985 so imagine the politically correct stance of media today as opposed to the outrage over use of profane language in that time period of the 80's.
     What we fail to understand is that God is not obliged to save us.  Dr. Sproul writes:  "In creation, God is not obliged to give us the gift of life.  The gift of life comes by his grace and stands under his divine authority.  The task that is given to mankind in creation is to bear witness to the holiness of God, to be His image bearer.  We are made to mirror and reflect the holiness of God.  We are made to be His ambassadors" (pg. 114, Sproul).  So what happens when we forget that sin is really "cosmic treason" and we neglect to show forth God's holiness in living?  Dr. Sproul states:  "When we sin as the image bearers of God, we are saying to the whole creation, to all of nature under our dominion, to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field: 'This is how God is.  This is how your Creator behaves.  Look in the mirror; look at us, and you will see the character of the Almighty.'  We say to the world, 'God is covetous; God is ruthless; God is bitter; God is a murderer, a thief, a slanderer, an adulterer.  God is all of these things that we are doing'" (pg. 116 Sproul).  When I read these words, I felt convicted.  My sin blemishes the name and reputation of the God I claim to serve.  As His ambassadors, we are all called to reflect His holiness.
The Bible says in I Peter 1:13-16:  "Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy."
     Scripture calls us to a different way of living and looking at life.  We are no longer our own for we were bought by the price of Christ's blood upon the cross for our sins.  If we are to reflect God's holiness, we must think about what we are saying, doing and how we are dressing in our culture.    We must ask ourselves if we are living a life of obedience to God and showing a respect for Him in every area whether at work, home or at play.   Unfortunately today, there are many churches that look and act just like the world.  There is no reverence for God or understanding of His holiness.  It is more of a social gathering than a place of worship.  In such places, people will not find the answers to life's questions.  However, there are wonderful places of worship where God's Word is preached, the sacraments are exercised and the worship of God is sweet.  To these fellowships, we must be faithful in attendance, witness and growth.
     Today, we do not wear hats or gloves to church any longer and as I said, this does not add or subtract from salvation.  However, the question for us to consider is are we giving our best to God each time we gather to worship?  Are we striving to be different from our present day culture so that people have a true picture of the Lord who is righteous and holy?  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can and must reflect the holiness of God in every area of our life.  This not only brings glory to God but will cause others to want to know more about our Lord and Savior as well.  Selah!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and insights.  Please feel free to leave your comments to encourage others.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pride Goes Before a Fall

     As I was reading Proverbs 16:5-19 today, I couldn't help but think of a story in our family which really illustrated this scripture.  I told it just yesterday at a family gathering because it points out what can happen to any of us.
     My father-in-law used to tell my husband and I about his attitude problem when he was a young man.  It seems that his father was a "G-Man" who often brought home cars that the government confiscated from "bootleggers".  They were gorgeous vehicles, but of course, only the agent was allowed to drive them until they were sold at auction.  My father-in-law had a date with a pretty young lady one evening and announced to his mother and father that he planned to use the confiscated vehicle they had sitting in the driveway for his date.  His father and mother told him he could not take it.  Well, he objected and boldly stated that he was going to use it no matter what they said and that was that.  As he started to walk towards the door, his mother, who had been silent during the outburst, quietly stuck out her foot; whereupon, he tripped and fell on the floor in front of his girlfriend.  He said he was humiliated but got the point and did not use the vehicle or smart off to his parents after that.
     I share this story because it fits with the verses that really stood out to me today.  Verse 5 reads:  "Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished."  Verse 18 reads:  "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud."
     When we get our eyes off of the Lord and on to the importance of ourselves, we become losers!  Jesus did not come with great show and pomp to this earth.  He never demanded His way in things but always listened to the Father.  He didn't go around telling people how important He was but often told those He healed to tell no one about it.  He was meek, lowly, and humble.  He served and didn't expect to be served.  He loved without being loved first.  What an example to us for godly living!
     The world is tied up in self-importance.  It is all about "Me, Me, Me!"  We often hear those in the world remind us:  "I'm so important because money, my title, my background, my degrees or whatever else."  God's ways are not our ways.  He does things differently.  Remember what Jesus said?  If we want to be a leader of men/women, we have to be a servant first.   This is so contrary to our culture.
     What happens when we show pride?  We usually can be fairly certain that a "fall" lies ahead for us.  Believe me, it is so easy for us to get puffed up and not even realize it.  But when we do, we can rest assured that sooner or later, the Lord will point it out to us.
     We serve a loving, heavenly Father who wants us to model the life of Christ in all we say and do.  Today, we need to examine ourselves and see if we have a pride problem or a "me" centric view of life.  Then, we can head that problem off through a prayer of confession and start walking in the way which pleases the Lord and brings glory to His name.  Selah!

As always I delight in hearing from you, please feel free to leave your comments.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Standing for Truth

     I listen to the news each evening with a mixture of amusement and sadness.  I am amused when once again I see people try to wiggle their way around God's Word.  Take for example the federal judge in Richmond, VA who is suggesting that Narrows High School in rural Giles County take down the display of the Ten Commandments in their school or at least reduce it to six.  If they remove the first four commands which talk about God and the Sabbath, then the display won't be offensive according to the judge.  This all happened after one parent sued for separation of church and state.  Are you kidding me?  Take away four commandments and leave six?  I could not believe my ears.  Can this really be happening in a country that at one time valued religious expression and liberty?  However,  I feel sadness  for the judge who evidently is not acquainted with the warning of Scripture.  In Revelation 22:18-19, we read:  "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."
     This entire episode is yet another attempt to redefine God and His Word in order to avoid "offending" anyone else.  Yet, we are offending God our Creator when we tamper with His Holy Word.  Man will pass away, fads will change, but the Word of the Lord will remain forever (Isaiah 40:8).  In addition, we are called to defend the faith by serving as His ambassadors and remaining steadfast in our convictions.
      Just the other day, our president came out in favor of Gay marriage.  While I was not surprised by this move, I was saddened.  This has been a problem for even some Christian churches to grapple with and it has caused division, but the Bible is clear on this subject.  In reading an article on Albert Mohler's blog ( entitled "The Compassion of Truth:  Homosexuality in Biblical Perspective" he writes these words:  "The affirmation of biblical authority is thus central to the church's consideration of this issue - or any issue.  The Bible is the Word of God in written form, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit and 'profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' (2 Tim. 3:16).  This is the critical watershed:  Those churches which reject the authority of Scripture will eventually succumb to cultural pressure and accommodate their understanding of homosexuality to the spirit of the age.  Those churches that affirm, confess, and acknowledge the full authority of the Bible have no choice in this matter - we must speak a word of compassionate truth.  And that compassionate truth is this:  Homosexual acts are expressly and unconditionally forbidden by God through His Word, and such acts are an abomination to the Lord by His own declaration."  I would encourage you to read the entire article for a complete picture of what he is saying here.  There is no hatred or animosity in this position.  We are to love the sinner but hate the sin not accommodate it.
     Presently, our worldview (the Christian worldview) stands in direct opposition to the absurd twisting of God's Word so that someone who is living a sinful life can avoid any embarrassment.  All we have to do is watch the news and listen to some of the foolish arguments raised against the truth of God and His Word.  Read Romans 1:22-27 and see how the Apostle Paul speaks of the results of man's attempt at political correctness.  This is a picture of the world in which we live.
     Jesus came into this world to bear witness to the truth and as He said, "Every one that is of the truth hears my voice."  He spoke these bold words to Pilate who then disregarded the truth and washed his hands of our Lord allowing Him to be scourged and crucified.  We are all like Pilate running away from the truth until the Lord regenerates our hearts awakening us from the death sleep of sin.  When we commit ourselves to Christ, our call is to go out and speak the truth in love to those around us that they too may hear the life giving Word of God.
     There is an old country adage that says:  "He who stands for nothing will fall for everything."  Our relative world system pretends that God's truth does not exist, but the harder they try to stamp it out the more its sweetness spreads to those who are hungering and thirsting for a life built on solid ground.  Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.  This is the message we must proclaim to people who are lost in the lies of this world and their own sin nature.  May we be faithful to this call and to His truth!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and comments here to encourage others.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It All Begins in the Home

Baby Bennett with his proud father
     One of the reasons that my husband and I decided to teach our children at home was not because we felt we had superior abilities in all subjects, but rather, we wanted to train up our children in a Christian worldview so that they would see God in every subject they studied.  My husband being a doctor had science and math skills, and I had a degree in communication and loved English and history.  Together we spent time teaching our children to see the God of order in math, the God of creation in science, the God of communication in English and the Lord who is sovereign in history.  We read together, laughed together and worshipped together and central to all that we did was the Bible.  It was crucial for us to pass on the faith we had found in Jesus Christ, and this is biblical as well.
     In reading the Bible this morning I came upon this passage of scripture in Judges 2:6-7, 10:  "When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land.  And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel.....And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.  And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel."   God had brought His people into the promised land, and they saw the mighty miracles of the Lord as He drove out their enemies.  However, when that generation passed away, the next generation did not know what the Lord had done, and as a result, they turned away from God and worshipped idols.  So who was to blame for this serious sin?  Why did they not know what God had done for them?
     If we look back to God's admonition to His people in Deuteronomy 4:9 we read:  "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  Make them known to your children and your children's children..."  In another passage in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, we read:  "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates."  In these passages, the Lord makes it clear that the responsibility for teaching what He has done and what He has commanded rested not only with the priests and leaders but foremost with the parents and even the grandparents.  Unfortunately, the generation that entered the promised land with Joshua had failed to do this.  As a result, the next generation did not know the Lord and His mighty deeds so they did not remain faithful to Him.
     Whether we home educate our children, send them to private school or public school, as parents we have the responsibility to train up our children to know the Lord and His plan of salvation.  We also have the privilege of teaching them Bible doctrines in our home through catechism and Bible study.  We cannot rely solely on the church to do all the teaching.  It also must come from the home.  The earlier we start this instruction the better our children and grandchildren will know the truths from God's Word.
     Most teachers I meet in my work place tell me how they wish that parents would be more proactive in the education process.  They need to support, encourage, and assist their children to become lifetime learners.  If there is no involvement of parents in this process, the child will be less likely to succeed.  The same is true when it comes to spiritual education.  It begins in the home.
Briggs and Branson at play
     As many of your know, we have a growing number of grandchildren and on three different occasions, I had the opportunity to observe how they were being taught about the Lord in their homes.  Our grandson Gavin (3) has learned to pray before each meal and delights in leading us at the table.  Briggs, 2 and 1/2, said a goodnight prayer when my husband and I were babysitting and he thanked God for the gift of His Son who died on the cross for our sins.  Both Branson( his brother who is 4) and Briggs loved reading a Bible story before bed.  What a treasure!  Then, this past week, we rejoiced at the birth of another grandson Bennett, and his older  brother Aiden (3 1/2) held him and sang "Amazing Grace" all the way through as he rocked his brother.  Children learn by observation, by instruction and by example.  I am blessed at how our grandchildren are being instructed in the things of the Lord.  As a grandparent, I want to be a positive example as well teaching them how the Lord keeps His promises and cares for us daily.
     In addition to teaching the truths of God's Word, as parents we are called upon to discipline, in love, our children.  This is so important so that they can grow to be not only good citizens but self controlled warriors for the cross of Christ.  An undisciplined child is a heartache to his parents, and has difficulty learning as well.  Again, this begins in the home with firmness and persistence stopping the disobedience immediately not waiting till we have warned the child five times.  It is a hard job but one that bears fruit as the child grows.
     If we want to see real change in our country, it begins in the home...all of our homes whether we are a parent or a grandparent.  Presently, we have many in our country who have grown up like the generation of Israelites who had never heard of the Lord and what He had done for them.  Is it any wonder we have such a secular society?  How could it be anything else?  However, we have the ability to work in the sphere of our families to ensure that our children and grandchildren know the truth of God's Word and His work on our behalf through His Son Jesus Christ.  God has commanded us to pass the faith on.  May we diligently apply ourselves to this task.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights my friends.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Are We Dumbing Down the Faith?

     Every Sunday morning, my husband and I get ready for church by listening to "The White Horse Inn" podcast.  Today was an exceptionally interesting program entitled "Reforming Youth Ministry".  I encourage everyone to go to the website at and look for the link:  WHI-1100 | Reforming Youth Ministry, Part 1 .  
     In this program, Dr. Michael Horton interviews author Brian Cosby an Associate Pastor in Youth and Family Ministry at a Presbyterian Church in Peach Tree, GA.  He has written a book entitled :  "Giving Up Gimmicks:  Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture".  The author's experience as a youth pastor has caused him to evaluate how we minister to young people that will keep them coming back into church after they leave home for college and career.  Pastor Cosby indicates in the interview that too many gimmicks are used to attract teens today, but often, there is not enough substance provided to teach them basics of the Christian Gospel.  The result is that many do not stay in the church after high school.
     During the program, Dr. Horton indicated that not only is there a problem with the "success in numbers" mentality in youth ministry but it is often spread to adult ministry as well.  To prove his point, he played a portion of an actual interview of several pastors at a recent conference.  The pastors were asked if they talk to their congregation about such things as double imputation, justification, sanctification and regeneration.  It was surprising to hear the answers from these men.  Many of them said they would never use these terms because their people would not understand them since they were religious terms.  Another responded that he didn't spend much time on all of Paul's teachings but rather on how people were living in their day to day life.   To him, this was more important.  In the majority of the answers given by these pastors, most of them felt their congregation was not intelligent enough or educated enough to comprehend these words and they had to make it simpler.  
     As they continued their discussion, Pastor Cosby told Dr. Horton that he had some young people express a desire to study some Greek words so they could better understand scripture.  He agreed to teach them and thought that only a few would show up for the study.  He was surprised to see 50 young people come to the classes where they began to delve into the riches of the Bible.  After hearing this, the thought came to my mind, "Are we dumbing down the faith?"
     Power wrestling matches, trips to concerts, water park fun days are not bad in themselves.  It is great for Christian young people to have fun together.  However, the deeper question for both youth and adult ministries remain.  Are we having enough quality time learning what justification means?  Do Christians understand double imputation and sanctification?
     After listening to this podcast, it is clear that many ministries and some pastors have bought into the notion that we should not be challenged in our thinking.  Yet, Jesus, Himself challenged the thinking of the Pharisees and Sadducees who had mishandled the Word of God and missed the very heart of the scriptures.  The Savior even drove out those who saw profit in ministry (the moneychangers) and said: "My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers" (Matthew 21:13).  Jesus came not only to die for the sins of those whom God has called but also to proclaim the Truth of God's Word.  He is the truth!
     When we fall prey to gimmicks to attract young people or adults just so we can build our numbers up, we will have spiritual drop-outs from our churches.  God's Word will never pass away and where it is proclaimed unashamedly, it will attract those whom the Father has called.  We need evangelistic outreach done by the saints in their daily lives, but in the church, we need teaching, and training in order to grow deep in Christ.
     Personally, I am thankful for the pastors who weekly proclaim the doctrines of grace and teach the meanings of justification, double imputation, regeneration and sanctification.  These faithful leaders are building on the foundation of the apostles as written in God's Word.  As a result of their work, when the storms come, the church will stand strong.  However, those who rely on gimmicks to build crowds will find they are building on sand, and their house will fall when the storms of life come crashing in.  May we continue the Reformation in our churches, youth groups and homes so that when Christ returns He will find us faithful.  Selah!

Please go to White Horse Inn and listen to this podcast.  It is free and can be downloaded to computer or IPOD.  I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Heritage From the Lord

Rilyn Rebekah
     The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as our family welcomed two beautiful additions.
In April, we had the privilege of meeting Rilyn Rebekah Wells.  Our daughter and son-in-law already have a sweet, rambunctious soon to be three year old little boy.  He is now a big helper with his baby sister.  During the hospital stay, I had the opportunity to take care of him, and it was a joy!
Gavin kissing his sister Rilyn
     Then, this past Tuesday, May 1st, our family once again gathered to meet Bennett Kadence Thayer born to our son Aaron and his wife Bonnie.  This, too, was their second child who joins his brother Aiden, a handsome 3 and 1/2 year old.  In fact, Aiden loved his baby brother so much, he sat in a rocking chair holding him and singing "Amazing Grace" to him along with several other songs.  What joy filled our hearts as we looked on thinking of being able to witness the passing along of our faith through the lips of a young child to the ears of his newborn brother!
      An old adage says that grandchildren are the blessing of a long life, and I have to agree.  We now are blessed to have seven grandchildren, and we thank God every day for them and their parents.  Scripture tells us in Psalm 127: 3-5:  "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Bennett Kadence Thayer
     Years ago, God filled our quiver with four children - a daughter and three sons.  We raised them to know the Lord Jesus Christ and live for Him.  When they launched into their own lives and married (all save one), we were delighted to see them have the rich reward of children.  We now are partaking of the sweet fruit of grand-parenting, and praying each day for these little ones to come to a close walk with Jesus Christ.
     We are off once again this Saturday to enjoy a birthday party and celebrate another year of life for our grandson Gavin who turns three on May 6th.  Our family has grown and so have our joys.  Indeed, children are a heritage from the Lord and grandchildren are the icing on the cake!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and comments as always.