Thursday, August 27, 2015

We Are All Special Needs

     I read an article today about a beautiful little girl who was labeled as a special needs child because she had a cleft palette.  Her father felt she did not need to be classified in this manner because her condition could be remedied.  This is not always the case in the lives of others who are born with physical and mental handicaps that cannot easily be remedied.  However, as I thought about this, I realized that all of us are really born as special needs individuals.  We may not have an obvious disability, but we all have a spiritual one.  Every one of us is born with a sin nature inherited from our father Adam.  When he fell, his sin infected all who would follow after him.
     Scripture tells us in Romans 3:23:  "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,..." In the Old Testament, we read in Ecclesiastes 7:20:  "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does
good and never sins."  This is echoed in Romans 3:10 when Paul writes:  "10as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;…"
     God's Word is clear that we all suffer from a sin nature which keeps us from fellowship with God. Talk about a handicap...a disability...a special need!  We, who were created to reflect the very image of God, are born tarnished.  Our thinking does not conform to God's desire for us to live a holy life.  Just like those who suffer from a physical problem that cannot be remedied, we cannot help ourselves.  We are slaves to sin.   Yet, for us, there is deliverance just as the Apostle Paul wrote in
Romans 7:24-25a:  "What a wretched man I am!  Who will deliver me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord...."  We are all wretched and trapped in a body of death until the Lord calls to us and awakens our hearts through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  When we put our life in His hands, confessing our sins and turning away from them, we become a new creation.  Truly the old life has lost its power over us, but we will spend the rest of our days in this world with a conflict between the new life in Christ and our old flesh that wants to pull us back.   Like Paul, we must thank God that through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors who can and will over come all obstacles set before us with the power of His Holy Spirit.
      All too often, I think society as a whole looks with pity on those who have special challenges; yet in my own experience as a grandparent of a child who faced some complicated issues, I can honestly say our Branson was a happy child, greatly loved by his parents and extended family and someone who had a heart to persevere.  Lately, I have been thinking of him a good deal and I still marvel at all he faced with great grace and how in his short six years, he impacted so many.  I wish I could say I had the same strength that he demonstrated every day of his life.  Truly, he was used by God to teach us so many rich lessons.
     Before, we label someone as special needs, we need to step back and look at our own lives for each one of us is in the same boat spiritually.  We have a deep need which only God can satisfy.  I John 1:8 reminds us:  "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."  We cannot ignore our situation because our eternal destination hangs in the balance.  Who then, really has special needs?  The child with an extra chromosome?  A person who is deaf or blind?  No, we all are handicapped without the Lord Jesus Christ.  May we never forget this, and may we be quick to run to Him for forgiveness of our sins.  In Him, we are whole and complete once again.  Selah!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

They May Look Similar But Beware

     There were evenings, when I was growing up, that my mother would prepare a breakfast menu for dinner such as waffles and bacon.  My father had no objection as he enjoyed her cooking after a long day of work.  On one particular evening, she made her homemade syrup recipe and put it in a coffee cup which she set on the table in front of my father.  Then, she put his coffee, which he usually drank black, on the table beside him as well.  I will never forget his irritation when he realized he had poured his coffee over his waffles and taken a sip from the syrup cup.  His comment was, "Virginia, why did you set the two cups so close together?  I couldn't tell them apart."  Needless to say, we all had a good laugh that night.
     While confusing a dark syrup with a cup of coffee is not surprising, we are told, as believers, to be
on guard against people who appear to speak the truth when in reality they are saying something different.  This is a growing concern as more and more people within the church do not read or study their Bibles.  This is why the cults can make so many inroads.  For example read the following excerpt from Sandy Tanner on the site concerning the teaching on Lucifer:  "In order to understand the LDS doctrine regarding Lucifer one must also understand its doctrine of man. The LDS Church teaches that everyone, Jesus and Lucifer included, had a pre-mortal existence where we were born as spirit children of God and his wife. In the LDS teaching manual Gospel Principles we read:
God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. . . . Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities. (Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 11 [link])"  She goes on to say that Lucifer and Jesus were brothers and that both contended for the right to save mankind.  So when a Mormon says he believes in Jesus, it is not the same Jesus that orthodox Christians worship.  In Mormonism, there is no Trinity.
     Another example of a religious group that claims they believe in Jesus is the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, when we look closely at their teachings, they indicate that Jesus is not God in the flesh but the first born of God's creation.  They deny the Trinity as well.  On their website (, they write the following:  "Yes. We believe in Jesus, who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We have faith that Jesus came to earth from heaven and gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice. (Matthew 20:28) His death and resurrection make it possible for those exercising faith in him to gain everlasting life. (John 3:16) We also believe that Jesus is now ruling as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, which will soon bring peace to the entire earth. (Revelation 11:15) However, we take Jesus at his word when he said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) So we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God."  If we do not know the Bible and what Jesus said of Himself, we can be easily led astray.  It all sounds the same doesn't it?  They believe in Jesus, but what Jesus?
     As we have seen in both of these examples, the terminology sounds very similar to orthodox Christian beliefs; yet there are some serious differences.  Just like the two dark liquids on the table in front of my father confused him, so we can see how easy it can be to conclude that a teaching indicates a group is Christian when it is not.  What, then, should we do to be better prepared to meet all the many ideas floating around in our society?
     First and foremost, we need to be students of God's Word.  Whenever we hear preaching or teaching, we need to examine the Bible to see if what is being said lines up.  The Bereans did this and were commended for their diligence.  Secondly, we need to make certain we are plugged into a church that preaches God's Word.  We also need to be there to hear the message each week.  It is a means of God's grace to us.  Finally, we need to pray over every thing we read and hear.  Confusion is the weapon that Satan uses most effectively.  However, we disarm him when we seek God's wisdom.
     My father found out that coffee soaked waffles did not taste very good.  Drinking the pancake syrup was not enjoyable either.  If we are so particular about our food, let us also be particular about what teachings we receive into our hearts.  Now think about that!  Selah!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Another Holocaust

     Three years after WW II ended in 1945, I was born.  It was the same day that Israel was declared a State following the terrifying years when over 6 million Jews, Christians and Gypsies were killed at the hands of the Nazi regime.  The Holocaust was a devastating reminder of the evil that lies in the heart of man.
     Not only did I hear about World War II from my parents, but I watched the show by Walter Cronkite "The 20th Century" which used actual footage from WW II.  Then, there was "Look" and "Life" Magazines which were popular in our household.  These publications were famous for their
photographs of events, people and places.  One issue focused on the pictures and stories that came from the death camps.  I remember thinking, "How could people do this to their fellow man?"  Hearing and reading stories about Dr. Josef Mengele and his cruel experimentation on living individuals without benefit of anesthesia made my heart ache. Then, just when we think that man has gotten better and beyond such atrocities, the videos of Planned Parenthood started to come out.
     Little by little, the darkness was uncovered as discussions of selling body parts of aborted babies was discussed over salad and drinks.  In the most recent video, a well-developed baby boy was displayed.  While his heart was still beating, his brain was removed to send to a lab for research.  They cut through this child's face.  How could this not be like the Holocaust and the atrocities of WW II?  What had this baby done to be deprived of life?  Was his life expendable.....just so much tissue to be disposed of?  If you had seen his face before they cut him up to sell him, your heart would break.
     God's Word speaks of the priceless gift of human life.  Psalm 127:3 reads:  "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward."  It is true that a woman may become pregnant when it isn't the most convenient time, or find out that the child she carries will be born with special needs, but does that mean we have the right to end their life?
     Psalm 139: 13-16 tells us:  "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul know it very well.  My name was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."  It is God who has knit the person together.  How than can we rip a body apart that was fearfully and wonderfully made as though it was just a disposable rag?  Is this any different than the ancient barbaric acts of the worship of Molech?    "Plutarch wrote in De Superstitione 171:
... but with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums took the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people."  Gruesome picture isn't it?
     There are so many other options out there besides destroying human life.  First and foremost, we have excellent birth control available today. Secondly, if a person does get pregnant, babies can be given up for adoption.  Many families would love to welcome a child into their home.  The point is there are alternatives.
Children are a gift from God
     From before the foundation of the world, God planned our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  If He planned them, He can sustain them.  Therefore, let us put away the barbaric act of destroying human life.  If we can honestly look into the face of an aborted child and not want to stem the tide that has cost nearly 57 million lives of children created in the image of God, then we are no better than those who worshipped at the altar of Molech.  May God forgive our nation and the Lord heal our land.  Selah!

P.S.  I would be remiss in not mentioning that there are those who have been scared by abortion in the past but who have sought the Lord's forgiveness and healing.  He promised that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Therefore, rest in the assurance of His love and pardon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Do You Set Before Your Eyes?

      I remember the first T.V. that my parents purchased when I was little.  It had a small square screen and it was in black and white.  We had to sit close in order to get a good view and occasionally we had poor reception.

     Those early model T.V.'s are so ancient in light of today's
technology.  We now can watch shows in color and receive pictures in high definition on larger than life screens.  How times have changed!
     I wish, though, that I could say that times have changed for the better, but they have not.  With the continued moral decay in our country, the programs which are often featured on television are not positive programs, but merely a sad reflection of the condition of our hearts.  Immoral relationships, fornication, stealing, lying, cheating and all manner of sin are presented in shows like it is no big deal.  Children's programming is also in sad condition with many cartoons filled with violence.

     Colossians 2:8 reads:  "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ."  Now when Paul wrote this, there were no T.V.'s, but there was always a threat of people being misled by others.
     It is easier today than ever before to be caught up in empty deception.  All we have to do is examine closely the advertising that we see on the tube.  We may be told that if we drive a certain car, wear a certain cologne, or have a certain look, we will succeed.  Likewise, viewing some of the shows can lead to unrealistic expectations in our relationships with others because they are not based on the truth of God's Word but upon worldly values....or lack thereof.
     Our Lord would have us be very careful in how much of our time and energy we spend sitting before the T.V. set or watching movies that make fun of Christian morals and values.  We can tell ourselves that it won't effect us, but we all know that over time these ideas which are radically at odds with God's can undermine our faith.
     Let us instead be diligent to follow David's example when he said this in Psalm 101:3:  "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away;  It shall not fasten its grip on me."  May we also walk away from the shows and programs which are the work of those who do not love the Lord but make fun of His Laws and His Word.  Selah!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Never the Same Again

     Recently, I heard a song at church that was originally recorded by Sandi Patty, and it brought back a lot of memories of her meteoric rise in the Christian music world.  Her voice was outstanding and her ability to hit the high notes was amazing.  However, along the road in her very successful career as a Christian singer, she hit a stumbling block in her personal life that derailed all she had accomplished for a number of years.  She had an affair which led to a messy divorce.  She and her husband had four children, and the break up shook the Christian world at the time.  Obviously, it was devastating to Sandi Patty as well.  She disappeared from the Christian music scene for a number of years.  She has remarried and has again resumed singing around the country.  Yet, something is different now, and things will really never be the same.
     When we fall into temptation that leads us to sin, we are never the same.  We know this by looking at the account in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve went from being in perfect communion with God to a separation both from His continuous fellowship as well as from the perfect environment in which they lived (Genesis 3).  While God gave them a glimpse of one who would come to set them free from this fallen, sinful state and crush the serpent's head, they still had to live with the consequences of their action.
     Consider as well what happened to King David.  He was blessed by God and it was said in the Bible that he was a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).  Yet David fell into sin with Bathsheba who was another man's wife.  It led to the murder of her husband to cover his tracks but God saw it all and uncovered the sin.  David's life was never the same.  God clearly told him that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Samuel 12:10).  Indeed, David's own son Absalom would turn against him and try to kill him for the kingdom.
London Bridge...We must remember that if we cross over into
sin we will never be the same again.
     Then, there was Sampson.  He was a servant and judge mightily used by God.  However, Sampson could not avoid sinning against the Lord by loving pagan women.  It ultimately was his downfall.  He paid dearly by being blinded at the hands of his enemies.  While he had the final victory over the Phillistines, it resulted in his own life being forfeited.
     Over and over, the Bible demonstrates that there are consequences of sin.  It may be pleasurable for a season, even exciting, but in the end, we are left with scars that always remind us of what could have been but never will be because of a choice we made.  Think of all the pastors that through the years have fallen into sin and forced to leave the ministry.  Yes, God does forgive when we repent and it is possible to be restored.  However, the pinnacle from which they fell will never be the same.
     This is why it is critical to be a people of the Word.  Reading it, eating it, and living it daily keep us on the path when temptation comes knocking on our door as it surely will.  Only as we transform our minds by renewing them daily both by prayer and Bible study can we keep the enemy of our souls at bay.
     Sin and its consequences change us forever.  We are never looked at the same way even though we are forgiven when we confess our sins.  I think our culture and even many Christians take much too lightly the terrible effect of sin.  It does not just touch our life but also hurts the lives of family, friends and co-workers.  Today, we need to keep our eyes on those things which please God.  If we are dedicated to serving Him, we will be less likely to fall into temptations.  Remember that "today, is the day of salvation".  We can turn away from sin before going down the path of no return.  Sin is only pleasant for a season but God offers the only joy that lasts forever.  Selah!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Using the Lord for our Gain

     Having served in the business world for a number of years, I have had the opportunity to meet many types of people.  It is most certainly a joy to work with and get to know Christians in the work place.  However, there is one trend that troubles me both with the business world as well as the political arena. Some people use the Christian faith to sell their products, win elected office or curry favor with the powers that be.   Rather than giving God the glory, they use Him as a tool to sell, recruit, or achieve a higher level of earning potential.  To be certain, this is not true of all who are faithful to the Lord, and it should not be true of us.
     Jesus encountered those who were taking advantage of others and making His Father's House a den of robbers.  They were business people as well, but they had taken things too far.  All three of the Synoptic Gospel include the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple.  Following the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus enters the Temple.  In Mark 11:15-17, the author writes:  "And they came to Jerusalem.  And He entered the Temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the Temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  And He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple.  And He was teaching them and saying to them, 'Is it not written, 'My father's house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'?  But you have made it a den of robbers.'"  Little wonder the priests and scribes were set against Him for He boldly reminded all present that God's House was meant for worship not to be used as a marketplace.
     Those coming to the Court of the Gentiles where these sellers had set up their tables often needed to exchange their money so they could pay their tithe.  However some of the moneychangers were cheating the people.  Likewise, pigeons were used for sacrifice, but these merchants had set up shop inside a court meant for prayer.  Seeing how these business people were taking advantage of God's name to sell their wares, Jesus became angry and drove them out.
     Using faith in Jesus Christ as a means to sell a product or promote yourself to public office is not unlike what happened in the scripture passage above.  There is a difference between holding sincere convictions and values that come from the Bible and simply mouthing those principles for gain.  We need Christians in every walk of life to reflect God's glory.  Men and women of character who live their faith in Jesus Christ by honest dealings and truthful statements bring a light to an otherwise dreary, dark world.  Our Lord told us to let our light so shine that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.  This should be the goal of every Christian in politics as well as business.
     There is no shame in making a profit in business if it is done with integrity because God has called man to labor on this earth.  However, to name the name of Christ in one breath and steal, back stab, lie or cheat in another brings dishonor to our Lord.  It is time                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        for all who serve in the work force to
examine themselves before the Lord.  May we never be found to be a money changer using the name of the Lord and taking it in vain to promote ourselves or our work.  Instead, I pray that God will make us humble, honest, and truthful in all our dealings that we may bring true glory to His name.  Selah!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

          With the economy still hurting and many folks looking for work,  food and shelter, the problems seem insurmountable on the surface.  Then, as I talked with a co-worker about what action the average person could take, we discussed the act of giving ourselves away each day to someone new.  Think about this concept.  If each one of us could do one act of kindness to one person each day, what a difference we could make in someone's life.
      Not too long ago, there was a television commercial for an insurance company (I am not certain which one) showing a person in the act of doing a kindness to their neighbor such as helping them rake the leaves in their yard.  A passer-by observes this and goes on to do an act of kindness for another stranger by wiping up spilled coffee at work without being asked to do this.  It is the multitude of little things that we can do for one another each day that don't cost us more than time or a little effort.  Even the poorest person can do this for another soul.
     Jesus believed this is how we show the love of God by doing for our neighbors what we would like them to do for us.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we find a man who has been robbed, beaten and left to lay on the side of the road.  Along came a priest, who immediately moved to the other side of the road.  The same was true for a Levite as neither of them wanted to be unclean or become involved.  Then, a "despised" Samaritan came along and found the man.  He bound up his wounds and took him to an inn.  He told the innkeeper to keep an account for any expenses and he would pay for it when he came back that way.  What a heart!  What a man!  This Samaritan did not have to stop and help this man, but he made a decision to reach out in brotherly kindness to a fellow human being to help someone in need.
     While we may not have the money to help someone, there are simple things we can do.  We can send a card to a sick person or give them a phone call.  Invite a new couple in our church over for dinner to get to know them.  Share our faith with someone who needs a hug and prayer.  Smile!!!!!!  It is free and it uses less muscles than a frown.  I try to do this at the office to bring someone a warm welcome.  Help someone in distress to change a tire or get a call in for mechanical help if their car is broken down.  Drive someone to a doctor's appointment if they need assistance getting there.  Bake cookies and take them to a neighbor.  Visit a nursing home or volunteer there.  Volunteer at a food bank or at a local hospital.  There are a thousand acts of kindness we can show throughout the year.
     I will never forget the act of kindness that a dear friend showed to me many years ago when my mother was in the nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's.  I had received word that my mother may not make it through the night.  She had an infection and was not doing well.  When I told my friend, she offered to go with me to the nursing home, and together, we sang hymns to my mother in her room for nearly half and hour or more.  All her favorite hymns seemed to calm her soul.  We prayed with her and it blessed not only my mother but her roommate as well who was far from her family.  My mother recovered from this infection but I never forgot how wonderful my friend was to come and help me minister at a time of deep concern.
     Romans 12:10 reads:  "Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor."  If only we could live like this every day, it would make an impact on our world.  Practice one act of kindness to a new person each day, and you will find a blessing beyond your wildest dreams.  The only limitation on how we can help others is our imagination.  Seek the Father and ask Him to direct your steps to just the right person.  When we die to self and live for Christ, we will love one another.  Selah!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Character Counts!

     This past weekend, we had another family gathering to celebrate a birthday.  During the course of our time together, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with one of our daughters-in-law about child rearing.  She works hard, along with our son,  to teach their two boys respect, courtesy and kindness towards others, and it shows.  As she rightfully observed, there are, however, many in our current culture that do not spend much, if any, time training their children.  There is no time spent teaching them about faith in God, or even the value of hard work.  Instead, many children are left to their own devices.  Then, people wonder why they grow up disrespecting teachers, others in authority, having no work ethic, and expecting the world to provide for them.  It is a blessing, then, to know that our children and their spouses are working hard to assist their children in developing a Christian character.  To me, this is the foundation of a stable society, but it also raises a question in my mind.  How well are we doing individually in setting a good example of Christian character in our family, at work, and in our church fellowships?
     As Christians, our goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ our Savior.  Can we do this on our own?  No.  However, as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us into all truth, we will be able to see growth in our walk.  In various letters to believers, the Apostle Paul encouraged all who follow the Lord to demonstrate the character of Christ.  I Corinthians 14:20 reads:  "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature."  Notice how he tells us to be infants towards evil.  This is an area that needs no development.  Then, in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes:  "...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,..." (Ephesians 4:13-15).
Paul's purpose is to point us to growing in our spiritual character that we might prove an effective witness to a world who does not know the Lord.  If we do not demonstrate any change in our character, then we should ask ourselves if we really committed our life to Christ to begin with.  So what are some practical examples of Christian character?
     First and foremost is integrity in all that we do.  Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.  Jesus told Pilate (John 18:37) that He came to bear witness to the truth:  "Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  Jesus had earlier proclaimed: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me."  Since we are believers in Christ, we believe in the truth and should be examples of honest, truth-telling individuals.  This is the character of Christ - honesty and integrity.  What He said He would do, He did.  We also need to be honest.  Therefore, we have to be truthful in our conversation, apply ourselves at work, and follow through on our promises.
     Secondly, Christian character is displayed when we admit that we are wrong.  Mickey Evans, faithful Pastor and founder of Dunklin Memorial Camp (gone home to be with the Lord) used to say: "It is better to be righteous than right."  In other words, we may be right about something or an issue but if we press it, we could do damage to a relationship.  It is better to demonstrate righteousness and have a humble heart.  If we are wrong, admit it, and even if we are right, give grace and don't argue.  There is a time and a place to stand up for our position, but we must be careful not to hurt another in so doing.  Likewise, we make mistakes, forget things, don't follow through, and we need to be Christlike enough to admit it.  No one knows everything and has the right answer all the time.  Be humble, willing to learn, and quick to make amends.  Remember, Jesus could have argued with the Sanhedrin and with Pilate because He absolutely was in the right, but He chose the righteous path and gave Himself for each one of us.

   Finally, Scripture tells us to be peacemakers, reconcilers and to show respect for others.  Paul wrote this admonishment to the Colossians (4:6):  "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."  This is so important today.  There is nothing worse than to call an office and have a rude person on the other end who clearly acts as though they have no time for you.  What is worse is if you know that person and they claim to be a Christian.  What kind of a testimony is that?  Having served as a receptionist in several businesses, I know what it feels like to answer the phone in a cheerful fashion just to have the other person be unkind as well.  It works both ways.  We must remember to whom we belong in all our conduct.  Do we really want to show fellow believers, our family or our co-workers our sin nature or do we want to show them Christ?  Our behavior and character matter!  People are watching us both inside our church as well as in our community.
     Let us examine ourselves daily and ask God to show us areas that need work.  We are a work in progress as a believer but if we will read the Bible daily, talk with God each day to ask His help, be in a Bible teaching church consistently for accountability, we will reap blessings as we grow up in Him.
None of us is perfect and we will not reach perfection until we see Him face to face.  However, we must be willing to allow God to discipline us that we may grow up to maturity.  When we do, we will bring glory to God and be an example to a culture in need of the salt and light of Jesus Christ.  Selah!