Friday, June 28, 2013

When Storm Clouds Gather

   For those of us who care about the moral fabric of our country, the Supreme Court decision on Wednesday was disappointing.  As I busied myself with chores around our home, I deliberately kept the T.V. off as I knew the news channels would beat the subject to death.  Instead, I turned on inspirational hymns and music that soothe my mind.
     By late afternoon, I came across a wonderful article written by Dr. Albert Mohler entitled "'Waiting for the Other Shoe' - the Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage" (the article can be found at ).  There was comfort in his words and wisdom.  Then, on Thursday, a dear friend posted to her Facebook page another great article entitled "The Right Side of History is Full of Rewrites" by Ted Olsen.  I found the article well written and thought out as it presents the history of the conflict of moral world views which has been raging for some time (the article can be read in full at Christianity Today - ).
     As I prayed about what I had read and discussed the issues at hand with my husband, I came to a place of peace in my heart.  Why?  God has written in His Word the story of man's life from creation to the culmination of end times.  He is sovereign over all the affairs of men so He is not surprised by this decision.  Likewise, just because a branch of government issues their decision does not negate the truth that is found in the Bible.  What God has said, He will do.  What He has begun, He will complete with or without man's cooperation.  We do not have the total picture of what our Lord is doing behind the scenes.  We only see in part, but one day we will understand and see God's total plan unfolded before our eyes when we enter heaven.
     When I consider Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his example during the reign of Hitler, I find someone who did not flinch under the restrictions placed upon Christians and the church.  Instead, he continued to teach, preach and work to preserve the truth of God's Word.  Often, when the church is persecuted or limited in some way, this is the time when the greatest growth is about to happen.  This is how I view what is taking place in our country now.  So what can we do?
     First, I believe we are called to pray even as Daniel did.  Daniel lived in a pagan culture, but he never neglected to pray to God daily.  When he was ordered to stop this practice, he was willing to be thrown to the lions.  We know that God preserved his life and kept him from harm.  He followed God's Law and not man's.  Prayer avails much and we need to diligently seek the Lord daily for our nation, our leaders, and our families.
     Secondly, we are called to stand.  Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus admonished these believers to put on God's full armor so they would be able to combat the enemy of their souls.  Chapter 6:13 reads:  "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm."  The victory, we must remember, belongs to those who stand firm in their faith and demonstrate the love of Christ.  The battle belongs to the Lord who alone has the power and authority over the enemy of our souls.
     Finally, we are to live in the strength of the Holy Spirit daily so that we may demonstrate to our culture what a Christian looks like.  As we live out biblical marriage, love our neighbors as ourselves, and serve where God has placed us, we will be living witnesses to the truth found in the Bible.  In addition, we need to tell others the Good News and the hope that is within us.  This is the greatest need we have in our country at this time.
     Many of us felt a blow to our mid-section this week with the decision by the court.  However, I am reminded of a similar blow struck against our country when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.  A famous Japanese naval General Isoroku Yamamoto is quoted as saying after this attack:  "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."  Indeed, he was right.  However, the weapons of our warfare come from the sword of God's Word and they are not aimed at flesh and blood as Ephesians 6:12 tells us:  "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  We must remember where the darkness comes from and further, that we are to be the lights which illumine this world.  God has chosen us from before the foundation of the world for such a time as this.  Take heart and join me in prayer for our nation and world.  More than ever, let us strive to be holy even as God is holy so that we might shine brightly at this time in His-story.  We know how the Bible ends.  Let us share this Good News with others that they too may come into the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.  Selah!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Promise and a Sign

     Looming large over our community as I was driving home last night was the most vivid and spectacular rainbow.  My picture does not do it justice but it was the best I could do on my iPhone through the window of my vehicle.  Each time I see a beautiful rainbow, I remember God's promise to Noah never to destroy the earth by a great flood again.  It was a covenant that the Lord made with Noah, his family and the beasts of the earth.  Genesis 9:9-11,13,16  : "'Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.  I establish my covenant with you that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth..... I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth...... When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.'"
     Somehow when I witness a rainbow, it has always been more than just a sign of God's covenant about destroying the earth.  As I gaze at it, I feel a peace deep within my heart because I know that, unlike man, God is a covenant keeper.  His Word can be trusted.  His promises are sure, and He never changes.  Numbers 23:19 states this about God's character:  "God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind.  Has He said, and will He not do it?  Or has He spoken and will He not fulfill it?"  Sadly, man makes vows or promises on a regular basis only to break them.  Yet, God is holy, righteous and just.  When He makes a covenant with man, He will always keep His part of the agreement.
     There have been many times when I have been in a quandary over situations in my life.  More often than not, as I am praying, I have come upon a rainbow.  It has happened on many occasions.  At moments like these, I feel God's assurance that He will, in His own time, bring forth the answers I need.  Certainly, my trust is in God not the rainbow.  It is He who deserves our worship, praise and honor.
     While the rainbow is beautiful, nothing compares to the covenant which God made with man through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son our Lord.  In this new covenant, we have more than an assurance that the earth will never be destroyed by a flood again.  We have God's everlasting promise of eternal life in Christ for all who come, repent and turn in faith to Him.  When we take communion, we seal the covenant between us and our Lord.  What a holy demonstration of God's amazing grace!
     Maybe life has been rocking our boat through circumstances, jobs, illness or other difficulties.  Rather than painting our world black, we need to see more rainbows and drink deeply from the cup of salvation offered to us.  God is there in the middle of all we are going through.  But don't take my word for it.  See for yourself in the pages of His Word how over and over again the Lord is faithful to those who call upon His name.  He said He would never leave us nor forsake us and that is a promise we can count on.  
     I leave you with one more promise that God has given to us in the book of Proverbs 3:5-6:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths."  Look for those rainbows in your life rather than the storm clouds that seem to gather when you are challenged.  Remember and think on all the promises of God.  When you do, you will find the strength to go on no matter what obstacles lie in your path.  Selah!

How has God brought encouragement to your life recently?  I would love to hear from you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Name You Can Trust

      On the wall of our home, we have a picture given to us by our children on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary.  It is a picture of Jesus Christ and around Him are all the names of God.  It inspires me every time I look at it.  Along the same line, a scripture which comes from Isaiah 9:6 reads:  "A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon His shoulders; and He is named Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
     Jesus was a gift given to us as a child who grew to be a man who worked with His hands.  However, if we stopped there, we would only see the carpenter and He is so much more than that.  Isaiah saw by the Holy Spirit  that He would have God's authority.  He would be called "Wonderful" and "Counselor".  Truly, Jesus is wonderful and if we let Him, He is our counselor in all matters.  Beyond that, He is the Mighty God in the flesh, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace to us.
     Consider the word "everlasting" for a moment.  It means never ending.  Jesus Christ will never leave us nor forsake us.  He will always be present with us and in us.  We need to draw comfort and encouragement in that knowledge.  Likewise, Jesus is also our "Prince of Peace" who brings peace to our hearts now and some day to the entire world when He comes again in glory to rule and reign.
     Most of us have heard someone described as "he's a Jack of all trades and the master of none."  However, our Lord is "a man of many names and master over all"!  He is molding and remaking our lives each and every day.  With each name by which we call the Lord, we see another aspect of His total and complete ministry to us.  He is "The Good Shepherd", "The God Who Heals Us", "The Lord who Provides", "The King of Kings", "The Lord of Lords", "The Messiah", "The Son of Righteousness", and my favorite, "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah".  There are many more names, but these are but a few that we need to think on.
     We serve an infinite God who loved us so much He sent this His Son to serve as atonement for our sins and to guide us into all truth.  He can more than meet any needs we have today.  This should bring encouragement to each one of us.  When we get down or discouraged, we need to consider the names of our Lord.  He is the Word made flesh for us that in Him we have wholeness, healing, strength, salvation, deliverance, and we find our significance.  Let us turn over to His care, all our burdens so that we might walk in liberty this very day.  Selah!

What name of God brings you comfort?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Faith We Need to Teach

 On June 8, Thom Rainer (President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Publications) considered a burning question about his denomination the Southern Baptist Convention.  Prior to their national  meeting, he asked the question of "Where have all the Baptisms Gone?"  While the article was addressed to those in his denomination, he didn't mind if the rest of us listened in on his conversation.  I found the blog article very worthwhile.
     He posed the dilemma as being one where there are many people on the rolls (16 million) but 6 million of those are missing in action.  In his post, he listed five theses to consider.  First, membership rolls have swollen with missing members or people who are showing no fruit in their lives.  Second, he felt the denomination was baptizing unregenerate members.  Third, numbers have become an end instead of a means.  He says:  "When the focus is on the numbers rather than the One who gives life to the people behind the numbers, we have lost our focus."  Fourth, his denomination focuses too much on incantation evangelism meaning that those who want to see increased numbers of decisions get people to say a "few magic words" to be saved rather than taking time to explain repentance and faith. Finally, he writes that his denomination has assigned glory to numbers rather than to God. (to read the complete article go to: .
     Dr. Rainer's article was compelling but as I read it, I thought this is not just a Southern Baptist problem.  It is a problem in many denominations across our land today.  Numbers are down in many churches and in some cases, as many are leaving through the back door as are coming in the front door.  Why is this happening and what can be done to build solid faith?
     During our vacation last week, I had chosen a book to take with me to read.  The book is entitled "A Faith Worth Teaching, The Heidelberg Catechism's Enduring Heritage".  There are twelve contributors to this work, and I found it fascinating.  Being in a Reformed church, I am familiar with the Westminster Catechism (both long and short) but had not had much exposure to the Heidelberg Catechism.  What made the book an even more interesting find was the fact that both my husband and I had been in Heidelberg and even walked in The Church of the Holy Ghost which is referenced in this work.  After reading Dr. Rainer's concern for his denomination, it occurred to me that one of the weaknesses we  face in the Christian church is a lack of solid discipleship training.  If we wish to retain those who come into the faith, we need to make certain they do understand the the key essentials of doctrine as revealed in Scripture.  One source for sound teaching is found in the great catechisms of the faith which serve to summarize the major doctrines as well as provide biblical support for each statement.  Neither the Heidelberg nor Westminster Catechisms replace the Bible.  On the contrary, they serve as summaries of our faith.  Only God's Word is the final authority.
     John Calvin saw a great need for a sound catechism and in writing to Edward Seymour he indicated that a common canon of doctrine was necessary:  "...a formula of instruction for little children and for ignorant persons, serving to make them familiar with sound doctrine, so that they may be able to discern the difference between it and the falsehood and corruptions which may be brought forward in opposition to it.  Believe me, Monseigneur, the Church of God will never preserve itself without a Catechism."  Calvin's Institutes were written with the idea in mind that Christians could be instructed in the faith.  Likewise the later catechisms were designed to bring cohesion of belief in the church.
     When the Heidelberg Catechism was commissioned by the Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate (in Germany), he foresaw the need to make certain that young people grew up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.  In many of the churches in his realm, this was not the case.  In his preface to the Catechism, he wrote three reasons for its creation:  1) He saw it is a means of teaching children and young people (the first youth group tool for spiritual growth) 2) A preaching guide for the instruction of the laity and 3) A form of unity for the various factions in the protestant churches of his realm.
     Today, the value of using a catechism is still profitable to three groups of people.  First, children need to be instructed in the faith from the time they are very young through their teenage years.  If we never convey the essential beliefs of our faith to them, they will have, as Calvin rightly said, little to fight the enemy with when it comes to falsehood and false teaching.  Secondly, the catechism is valuable when it comes to new believers.  We have created many books over the years on how to disciple someone new to the faith.  What is wrong with going back to the early catechisms of the faith?  They serve as excellent summaries of what we believe along with scripture proof texts.  Finally, the catechism is important to instruct those who have come from other backgrounds.  An example of this was given in the book.  During the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism, there was a great deal of difference between Protestant beliefs and those of the Roman Catholic Church.  Therefore, those coming out of Catholicism needed to understand those differences in doctrine.  This is no less true today.  Every denomination has its particular view on certain critical issues.  If someone joins a fellowship, they need to be instructed in what that church believes and adheres to otherwise conflicts, misunderstandings and disagreements can result.
     In our own church, we are asked as new members, before the congregation, if we are willing to submit not only to leadership but to the precepts of our faith as outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Longer and Shorter Catechisms.  I often wonder as I watch new people join if they really know what they are affirming.  How many have really been exposed to these documents or understand the faith which we hold?
     According to one of the contributors to the book I am reading, the Heidelberg Catechism was regularly preached in the early years of its existence from 1562 till around the mid 19th century.  I never had heard this.  Usually the pastor did this instruction during a second sermon on a Sunday.  It was not mere question and answer repetition but actual scriptural instruction in the doctrines of the faith.  Some churches (Reformed Church in America and a few others) still practice this to a certain extent today.
     Whether a church utilizes a catechism or a new member class, it seems that there is a great need today to build a deeper understanding for the foundational doctrine of our faith in Christ.  Dr. Rainer was correct in saying that a focus on numbers rather than a focus on God is misdirected.
     There are excellent catechism books for the youngest child to an older adult which would help them come to understand the Christian faith.  We do not need to look at these catechisms as some stuffy, dusty old documents, but as well written, summaries of our faith along with Scripture proofs.  Certainly nothing replaces the Bible, but we could grow much deeper when we meditate on doctrinal truth guided by the catechisms.
     My prayer is for all churches and Christians to grow deep in the faith.  It is time for us to find ways in which to bring to maturity those who enter our doors.  This is not just the pastor's job but also that of church leaders and Sunday School teachers.  Jesus commissioned us to go out and make disciples of all nations.  We can do this more effectively if we would use the tools which the Lord has graciously provided for us through men of faith and in His Word.  Selah!

How does your church instruct new believers, children and teens?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

With a Little Help From My Friends

     As a family, we have always tried to be there to encourage, support and pray for each other.  It is a blessing to sit back ( having raised our family and given them wings) and observe their parenting as well as their interaction with one another.  On our recent family vacation, some of our children, their spouses and our grandchildren went to a local playground that offered many fun activities.  One of the areas had a rock climbing wall.  When they returned I looked at their pictures and two stood out to me.
Reid and Aaron helping Branson
up the rock climbing wall.
In one photo, our middle son Reid was helping his special needs son, Branson climb the rock climbing wall while Uncle Aaron helped to lift him from the top.  Once he reached the top, he stood there with arm upraised to show the victory of accomplishment.  My heart was deeply warmed as I looked at these pictures.  It took teamwork to help Branson up that wall, and what a thrill for him to do what he could not do by himself.  To me, that demonstrates love and reminds me of another story of teamwork in order to help another.
     Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of a paralytic man who was brought to Jesus for physical healing by four friends.  The house where Jesus was teaching was filled so that there was no room to enter with this man lying on his bed.  Not giving up, the men went onto the ceiling of the home and cut a hole and lowered the paralytic on his bed down by ropes in front of Jesus.  Verse 5 reads:  "And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'".  Of course, the Scribes that were gathered there complained that Jesus was blaspheming because only God could forgive sins.  They only saw the man Jesus and did not recognize their Lord and Messiah.  Jesus knew their inward doubts and spoke these words to them (vs. 9-11):  "Which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say 'Rise take up your bed and walk?'  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins - He said to the paralytic - 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.'"  Within an instant, the man rose up, picked up his bed and went out glorifying God.  Everyone was amazed.
     There are some important lessons in this passage.  First, this paralytic man could not come to Jesus on his own.  He didn't have the ability physically.  However, he had four faithful friends who spared no expense to help him succeed in going to see Jesus.  These men were dedicated because when they could not get in the door they found another way for the man to be seen by the Lord.  Jesus even acknowledged their faith in Him.  We all need friends like that and we need to be a friend like that.  Nothing demonstrates the grace of God more clearly than to help another in need.  They cared about the paralytic man enough to go the extra mile.  We need to do the same for one another.
     Secondly, Jesus used this moment to teach those with ears to hear and eyes to see that He had the authority to forgive sins.  By telling the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, He points out that the greatest need this man had was not physical but spiritual.  His soul was more paralyzed than his body whether he knew it or not.  However, Jesus freed him from this bondage.  Then, the Lord commanded him to pick up his bed and go home thus healing him physically as well.
     Finally, we need to see a picture here of our own condition.  This paralytic could not help himself.
Reid, (left) and Aaron on top with Branson rejoicing at reaching the top.
 There was no "pulling himself up by his boot straps" in order to get well.  He was unable to save his own soul let alone heal himself.   With help from his friends, however, the man was carried to Jesus who did have the power both to forgive his sins and heal his physical body.  Here is a picture of salvation.  We are dead in our sins and unable to save ourselves.  In fact, we do not love God at all in our sin nature.  Yet, the Holy Spirit regenerates us and awakens us to the call of God in Christ.  He enables us to be healed of sin and set free to serve and glorify Him forever.  There is nothing in ourselves that can accomplish this.  Recognizing this should makes our hearts fill with gratitude.
     When I saw two brothers working together to raise Branson up that wall and help him reach the top, I saw this scripture come to life in my mind.  They helped a child who could not do this on his own.  As believers, we are called to reach those who are dead in sin who cannot help themselves and bring them to Jesus.  We cannot make anyone become a Christian, but we can tell the Good News so that they may hear.  The results are in God's hands alone.  May God make our hearts tender towards our neighbor that we might see their needs and make the effort to reach them for God's glory.  As we do this, our hearts will be blessed as we serve the King of Kings.  Selah!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Are You a Light in the World?

     We have just returned from a wonderful vacation with our family where we enjoyed seven days of sunshine and the rich joy of fellowship.  It is amazing what rest and sunshine can do for the soul!
     During that time as I was reading the Bible, I looked at Genesis 1:1-18 where the Lord God was creating all things.  The verses that stuck out the most were verses 3-4:  "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness."  This act of creation by God adds an entirely new dimension to the world He has made.  With light, we are able to see more clearly objects around us.
     My husband is an eye doctor and sees many patients who have varying degrees of eyesight and vision.  There is nothing more sad than someone who is beginning to lose their sight due to glaucoma or some other eye disease.  At times, some people lose their vision as a result of poor care refusing to use medication which treats glaucoma for example.  This is a choice on their part with serious consequences.
     Our spiritual lives are very much like that in many ways.  If we neglect to care for our spiritual health by reading the Word and finding time to be with our Lord each day, we risk spiritual blindness.  The "light" of God's Word is lost to us and we stumble in the darkness when we could walk in His light.
     God said that "Light" was good....He created it to dispel the darkness over the earth He has
made.  Jesus went further and told us to be "the light of the world" and not to hide our light under a bushel.  How can we, then, neglect the study of the Word, the fellowship of other believers and time alone with God just talking with Him?  We certainly cannot be a light in this dark world if we do that.  Therefore, let us consider that God made us "light bearers" to His glory and let us resolve to reflect to the world the light of Jesus Christ.  We must take time to fill our lamps with the oil of His presence daily in Bible study and prayer that we may be a lamp of radiance in this dark, lost world!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts.  Feel free to leave them and may God bless you!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is It Any Wonder?

     Opening our local newspaper today, I came upon a cartoon in the commentary section.  The message in the picture could not be more clear.  There was a computer screen with the large word PORN on it, a collection of alcohol bottles and drugs, a movie theater marquee with the title "Chainsaw Sadists III Rape Rampage", a newspaper with a headline stating "Dropout Rate" and "Cyber Bullying", a gun with bullets laying next to it and a video game player with a screen that reads "Grand Theft Carnage".  A dotted line runs by each of these pictures which is the path that two young children have just taken on their way home.  The boy says to the little girl, "Why do our parents worry so much about us?"  The message is very clear.  Our society has done little to protect children from an all out assault of the profane, vulgar, immoral, murderous mindset portrayed in video games, T.V. shows, and the movies.  Is it any wonder then that we can pick up a newspaper and read about a man who was babysitting his six week old baby and when the baby cried too much the man put the baby in the freezer, and went to take a nap for an hour.  Fortunately, the mother came home in time to discover the baby and get it medical attention.  Reports are that the child will live.  Shocking?  Yes, but it is it any surprise when our world promotes the idea that "if it feels good, just do it?"  Even Christians can become ensnared by the vile things we put before our eyes.
     Listening to the podcast of Alistair Begg this morning, he taught on "The Parable of the Sower and the Seeds" (Mark 4:1-20).  As he discussed why some seeds do not put down deep roots, he mentioned an example of someone who came from a  Christian home but who lost his way during his short life.  Robert Louis Stevenson born in Edinburgh, Scotland was instructed by his nanny in the Bible and the writings of John Bunyan.  His grandfather was a minister in the Church of Scotland, but Robert rejected the faith and turned, in later years, to a Bohemian lifestyle visiting cheap pubs and brothels.  In fact, his own father came across the constitution of the Liberty, Justice and Reverence Club which stated:  "Disregard everything our parents have taught us."  Both Stevenson and his cousin Bob belonged to this organization.  What corrupted his thinking that once listened to the Bible and the works of John Bunyan?  He became enamored with the current artists, writers and philosophers of the day which more and more drew him away from the foundations he had at home.  Even at this time in history, the devil was more than happy to offer alternatives to reading the Bible and serving the Lord.  A sad note to his short life of 44 years was that while his parents were practicing Christians they did not teach young Robert the Bible

truths to live by.  This was left up to the nanny.
     David's Psalm concerning the walk of integrity (Psalm 101) says in verses 3-4:  I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil."  While David did not live up to all his statements, he desired to live in a manner that was worthy before the Lord.  He sought out holiness, but found that neither he nor anyone else could do that without the help of God.  Our flesh is weak even if our spirit is willing.  However, why set any temptation before our eyes?
     Today's Christian home has access to many electronic gadgets and tools which can serve a good purpose or be used in the wrong way.  Carefully limiting and pre-screening shows that children may watch on T.V. is vital.  Watching movies that are filled with illicit sex and violence also can numb the conscience along with violent video games that portray life as a cheap object to be blown to bits.  If we think this does not impact the way in which we live, we are very wrong.  It sets a wrong example for our children and infects our mind with sinful thoughts.
     God has told us to put on the breastplate of righteousness so that we may guard our hearts.  He has also told us to put on the helmet of salvation that we may guard our minds.  The Lord knows the fierceness of the enemy and his crafty way of entangling us with a worldly mindset.  Therefore, we need to be careful in choosing  the things we set before our eyes.  We need to ask ourselves if we would be comfortable with the Lord Jesus Christ sitting next to us as we go about doing a particular activity.
     Paul wrote that we are to be "transformed by the renewal of our minds" (Romans 12:2).  Being careful, therefore, in what we watch is key to growing in the Lord.  It also sets a great example for our children and grandchildren.  With this in mind, let us be careful what we introduce into our own thinking, our own homes and into our relationships.  Just as we would never drink a glass of water with a touch of arsenic in it, we should not introduce things in to our homes that would cause us to stray.  May God give us the strength and ability to walk in integrity and holiness all the days of our lives.  Selah!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Resident Evil

     Fellow blogger and pastor, Chris Brauns had a great link posted at his blog "A Brick in the Valley". The link was from writer, editorialist and speaker Cal Thomas.  We had heard him speak at a recent Ligonier Conference, and he is well known for his direct style and Christian commitment.  The article was entitled "Is the Decline Speeding Up?".  Read the entire post here.  Cal was not only pointing out the general decline in moral standards, but also pointing to the fact that it may not be long before our Lord returns.
     Later in the day, I entered into a discussion on Facebook with another friend in England who had been watching the 60th anniversary ceremony of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.  She remarked how all the government officials had prayed heartily for the Queen and asked God's continued blessings on her while later that same day the parliament was seeking to pass laws to overturn God's revealed Word to the people.  Ironic isn't it?  Yet, the same is true in many countries around the world including our own.
On one hand, leaders call upon God to bless them and on the other hand, they pass legislation which undermines the moral principles which God has established.  However this should not be a surprise.  As Solomon wisely wrote:  "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9c).
     During the days of Isaiah the Prophet, the people of God had once again left their worship of the Lord.  The Reformation Study Bible puts it this way:  "God's people had become like the nations in their pride, sarcasm, and selfishness.  They had lost the vision of God's kingdom of righteousness, love and peace and had tried to establish their own kingdom" (pg. 949).  These were God's chosen people who had turned away from all the God had revealed to them.  Their day is not much different from our day.  Isaiah writes:  "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!" (Isaiah 5:20-23).  Quite a description not only of the people in Isaiah's day (740 BC to roughly 701 BC and after) but also of today's worldly outlook.
     In all, if we read the entire chapter, we will see that Isaiah pronounces a total of six woes.  The first woe condemns greed (vs. 8-9) and self indulgence.  Verses 11-12 deal with the matter of drunkenness.  The third woe deals with those who mock God with falsehood (vs. 18-19).  Then, in verse 20 Isaiah pronounces the woe of moral corruption followed by the woe of pride and self-righteousness seen in verse 21.  Finally, the sixth woe comes in verse 22 when the prophet condemns those who pervert justice.  I think we can all see how not much has changed from age to age.
     Of course, the root of the problem is in the resident evil that lies within the soul of fallen man.  Isaiah says it well in chapter 53:6:  "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - everyone - to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."  Not one of us came into this world with a pure heart.  We each inherited the fallen nature of Adam and only when the Holy Spirit regenerates us and opens our eyes can we come to Jesus Christ in repentance.  Even after that great awakening and transformation, we still can stumble and fall.  However, unlike the man who has never come to Christ, we have the ability to repent, be forgiven and restored to a right relationship to God.  This is where we see the great divide.  With our eyes now opened by the grace of God and the blood of Christ, we can see good and evil in clear distinction.  I believe this is why we are horrified over some of the decisions made by government leaders concerning abortion, homosexuality, and the free expression of our faith as versus political correctness.  Nevertheless, we should not be surprised at what we see around us.
     I do believe the decline we are seeing around the world is speeding up.  We do not know when the Lord will sound the trumpet and return to this earth.  Yet our hope is in Him and His promises for us.  One day there will be no more tears, no more grief, no more injustice and no more death.  For now, we must encourage one another and all the more as we see the day of our Lord approaching.  Likewise, we must be busy about the Father's work of telling others the Good News and demonstrating it by our lives.  No one said it would be an easy path to walk, but it is the ONLY way to salvation.  The best part of the news is that Jesus Christ has already won the victory for us.  No matter what this world or its leaders do, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.  On that we can depend.  We must remember the words of King David in Psalm 37:1-5:  "Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!  For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as noonday."  If we read the entire Psalm, we will find comfort as we dwell in a world system filled with those who call good evil and evil good.  Let us live each day as though He will arrive tomorrow!  Selah!

I always welcome your thoughts and insights.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Oblivious to Others

     Following church, I went to return a DVD to a local vending machine in our grocery store.  Inside, a lady was visiting with a friend in front of the machine trying to decide on movies to rent.  She had a DVD sticking out of the machine so I assumed she was also returning it.  I know she observed me come in the store and stand behind her.  However, she continued to visit with her friend.  Finally, she looked at me directly and told me I would have to wait as she was using the machine.  Then, she asked if I was only returning a DVD because she was not finished.  I assured her I was returning a movie.  She said I could return my movie after she finished returning hers but she was not finished with the machine.  After a moment or two, I was able to finally slip my DVD into the machine and be on my way.  When I got into the car, I told my husband that I was amazed at how oblivious the lady was to my presence.  It was as though the machine belonged to her and she was giving me permission to use it but only for a moment.
     Unfortunately, this is not the only time I have observed people who seem to be oblivious to others.  On many occasions, I watched (at a safe distance) when another motorist ran a red light or flew through a stop sign.  I have also seen a person so intent on taking an open parking space at a shopping mall that they have a near collision with another car in order to get the spot first.  Really, none of this should surprise me or any of us.  We have probably all been guilty of being oblivious to those around us at one time or another, but that is not to say it is right.  After all, our Lord attends to even the smallest of details and He calls us to follow Him in holy living.
     Jesus, in sharing with His disciples, talked to them about fearing those who oppose
them.  He encourages them by reminding them that God cares about them.  Matthew 10:29-31 reads:  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs on your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  God's sovereignty and attention to detail is something we need to demonstrate in our lives.  How often have we neglected a friend or a shut in?  We become oblivious to others because we are so wrapped up in ourselves and our busy schedule.  Why do we not make time for a phone call, a note, or a visit?
     In his letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds us to do good to others:  "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10).  Helping those in need, extending a hand to someone who is lonely, calling a friend to say "hello", praying with a grieving person, saying thank you to someone one who has blessed us are all signs of someone whose heart has been changed by Christ.
     My mother used to instruct me concerning the sins of omission as well as the sins of commission.  We know when we have sinned purposely.  These are sins of commission.  However, there are times when we neglect to do something which would bring blessings to others and glorify God.  These are sins of omission.  When we are oblivious to those around us, we are neglecting to do good.  Obviously, we cannot be everywhere and do everything.  Nevertheless, to those whom God has placed in our sphere of influence, we ought to be faithful to serve and bless them as we have the opportunity.

    Knowing how God cares for every detail of our life should encourage us to go and do likewise for our neighbors, friends and family.  Let us not live oblivious to those around us as the world so often does but let us demonstrate our love for one another so all will know we are Christians.  Selah!