The discarded Christian trait…. Friday, Aug 1 2014 

Ephesians 4.32 “And be ye kind one to another”

I Corinthians 13.4 “Charity suffereth long and is kind”

Kind: To show oneself mild, to be kind, use kindness.

I see a social phenomenon that troubles me. It is the habit some develop under the guise of humor or teasing that puts another person down so the person with inferiority can feel better about themselves.

Many barbed statements are communicated and then at the end, the attached “lol” is supposed to soften or deny the intent of the barb. By this means many people who do not feel good about themselves, or feel inferior, seem to put others down so they can feel better about themselves.

In my opinion this habit of teasing has a subtil purpose. Possibly it becomes a habit and the person may not ever realize they do it. Possibly they are in an environment where it is constant so they join the verbal fray. Whatever the reason it goes against Biblical teaching of honoring and esteeming one another.

I will possibly be looked at in this post as a “knit picker” or overly critical or even someone who cannot take the banter. However, let me take a Biblical approach. That is always safe 🙂

Is there Biblical teaching on this matter? Yes, there actually is. As a christian we are instructed to act and speak to one another in kindness. We are made to know from many places in scripture that our words are important. They can heal and they can wound.

There are times when the person who is the butt of the remark smiles and shows a good spirit, but down inside they feel the sting or hurt.

Are we big enough as Apostolics to look in the mirror and acknowledge this is part of living for God also? There are some inward standards that are important as well as our outward standards of dress and life style.

Putting another child of God down through humor or teasing them can indeed have consequences spiritually. We are judged by how we judge others. If we criticize, demean, make unkind jokes, and generally speak unkindly of others, well that is what gets delivered in our spiritual mailbox!

Colossians 4.6 Let your speech be always with grace…(grace here means: that which affords joy, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness).

I am an advocate of kind words, upbuilding words, words that encourage another pilgrim on the road to the Celestial City! Let’s help one another get to heaven by making their journey lighter and easier!

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord…

Thanks for reading today…

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The Apostle Paul’s Epiphany Friday, Jan 3 2014 

An epiphany is a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the meaning of something, usually initiated by a commonplace occurrence or experience.

It seems to me that the Apostle Paul always traveled with companions, with one exception. We find him with Barnabas on his first journey. Silas is his traveling companion on his second journey. Then there is Luke, Timothy, Titus, Demas, and others at various times.

The only time I remember him tackling a city alone is when he scaled the heights of Athens. For whatever reason, he went there alone.

I present for your consideration this possibility: had Paul reached the place he felt he could handle it? Had his successes puffed him up to the point he felt, “I got this one boys”? Did he feel confident in his education and past success?

It seems to me this was out of his modus operandi. I cannot find any other place where he went one on one solo on a city. I wonder if he had gotten confident in himself?

One thing is sure, Athens handed Paul his “head in his hand” so to speak. He left Athens broken and defeated and discouraged.

Somewhere in the next 50 miles of road toward Corinth, his Athens experience changed him forever.

At his next location he is first of all surrounded with the greatest collection of names mentioned in his lifetime. Second he has his greatest revival in the history of the world. Is this a coincidence?

I offer for your consideration Paul had an epiphany at Athens!

He realized my success has not been in my ability, but in God. My education is laughable when placed next to God’s wisdom! My education may trump some earthly peers, but compared to God, I know nothing.

Paul the man, with only his ability, against Athens equals abject failure. Paul in humility with help from brethren, at Corinth equals world’s greatest revival!

It was after this epiphany at Athens that he wrote “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men”.

Paul learned the most important lesson of his ministry at Athens! He learned by myself I can do nothing. Through Christ I can do all things!

May God help all of us in 2014 to use his lesson so we avoid enduring the same fate when we believe “I got this one”.

Thanks for reading today!

The Spirit of Herod Friday, Dec 17 2010 

Recently while reading the story of Herod killing the children again my mind drifted back over the years of things I had heard of this event.

I read the number of children killed reached into the thousands.  Maybe as high as ten thousand.

I thought of the prophecy teachers who said this was the fulfillment of the verse in Daniel that says He shall not regard the desire of women.  This verse is usually used by prophecy guys to say the antichrist will be gay, but some have said it referred to Herod because the Biblical definition of desire of women is children.  Meaning that Herod did not regard the children, hence the desire of women.

As I tried to grasp the enormity of this event my mind thought of the spirit behind this atrocity.

Selfish.

Heartless.

Ruthless.

The leap for a preacher was not a long one. The spirit of Herod lives on.

Killing infants.

Spirits in a church that would cause spiritual babes to be exterminated.

Jealousy.

Envy.

Strife.

Bitterness.

Hatred.

Things God hates!

Jesus left the country until the spirit of Herod died.

Then He came back.

Do you ever wonder if Jesus leaves?

Do dry empty altars possibly mean He is not comfortable with some spirit, and leaves until that spirit dies?

Thank you Herod for your help in making our nation more independent of Rome.

Thank you for the magnanimous temple you built our nation.

But I would like to say to you Herod, all your contributions are washed away in the grief of mother’s wails!

Thank you for singing in the choir saint of God.

Thank you for going on outreach.

Thank you for all you do for the church.

I wonder if all those good deeds are washed away in the silent wake of Jesus leaving because you grumble.

Does your gossip cause him to leave and our altars are dry and barren?

Why David? Why? Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

‘Why, David, why?”

The place was another nameless cave.

The men stirred about restlessly.

Gradually, and very uneasily, they began to settle in.

All were as confused as Joab, who had finally voiced their questions.

Joab wanted some answers.

Now!

David should have seemed embarrassed or at least defensive.

He was neither.

He was looking past Joab like a man viewing another realm which only he could see.

Joab walked directly in front of David, looking down on him, and began roaring his frustrations.

“Many times he almost speared you to death in his castle.

I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

Finally, you ran away.

Now for years you have been nothing but a rabbit for him to chase.

Furthermore, the whole world believes the lies he tells about you.

He has come, the King himself, hunting every cave, pit and hole on earth to find you and kill you like a dog.

But tonight you had him at the end of his own spear and you did nothing!

“Look at us.  We’re animals again.  Less than an hour ago you could have freed us all.  Yes, we could all be free, right now!  Free!  And Israel, too.  She would be free.  Why, David, why did you not end these years of misery?”

There was a long silence.

Men shifted again, uneasily.

They were not accustomed to seeing David rebuked.

“Because,” said David very slowly (and with a gentleness that seemed to say, ‘I heard what you asked, but not the way you asked it’), “because once, long ago, he was not mad.  He was young.  He was great.  Great in the eyes of God and men.  And it was God who made him king – God – not men.”

Joab blazed back, “But now he is mad!  And God is no longer with him.  And, David, he will yet kill you!”

This time it was David’s answer that blazed with fire.

Better he kill me than I learn his ways.

Better he kill me than I become what he is.

I will not practice his ways.

I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.

I will not avenge.

Not now.

Not ever!”

Joab stormed out into the dark.

That night men went to bed on cold, wet stone and muttered about their leader’s views.

That night angels sang and dreamed, in the afterglow of that rare, rare day, that God might yet be able to give His authority to a man who did not throw spears.

Thanks for reading today!

3 Things Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him.

He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him.

Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them.

Something was different about David.

All he did was dodge.

What can a man, especially a young man, do when the king decides to use him for target practice?

What if the young man decides not to return the compliment?

First of all, he must pretend he cannot see spears.

Even when they are coming straight at him.

Secondly, he must also learn to duck very quickly.

Lastly, he must pretend nothing at all happened.

You can easily tell when someone has been hit by a spear.

He turns a deep shade of bitter.

David never got hit.

Gradually, he learned a very well kept secret.

He discovered three things that prevented him from ever being hit.

One, never learn anything about the fashionable, easily mastered art of spear throwing.

Two, stay out of the company of all spear throwers.

Three, keep your mouth tightly closed.

In this way, spears will never touch you, even when they pierce your heart.

Thanks for reading today!

Spear Throwers Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 


David had a question:

What do you do when someone throws a spear at you?

Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question?

After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them.

Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back!

“When someone throws a spear at you, David, just wrench it right out of the wall and throw it back.

Absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure.”

And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things:

You are courageous.

You stand for the right.

You boldly stand against the wrong.

You are tough and can’t be pushed around.

You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment.

You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy…..after the order of King Saul.

There is also a possibility that some 20 years from now you will be the most incredibly skilled spear thrower in all the realm.

Thanks for reading today!

The Walk Saturday, Sep 18 2010 

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Here goes…

My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

“In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.”

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: she said “He hit a horse.” “Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we’ll get one.”

It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of us would turn 16 first. But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less became my brother’s car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.

She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving.

The cemetery probably was my father’s idea. “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustine’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain: “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?” “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre. “No left turns,” he said. “What?” I asked. “No left turns,” he repeated.

“Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn”

“What?” I said again. “No left turns,” he said. “Think about it.. Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer. So we always make three rights.”

“You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support. “No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It works.” But then she added: “Except when your father loses count.”

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. “Loses count?” I asked. “Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked. “No,” he said ” If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put off another day or another week.”

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003.

My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.”

At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going to live much longer.” “You’re probably right,” I said. “Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated. “Because you’re 102 years old,” I said. “Yes,” he said, “you’re right.”

He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet”

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: “I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable, and I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”

A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, Or because he quit taking left turns.

” Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it & if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

Thanks for reading today.

How far is it from happy to unhappy? Tuesday, Jul 20 2010 

Is there a zero point where you go from 1% happy to 1% unhappy?

Is there a scale that tips ever so gently and you cross from satisfied to unsatisfied?

Is there a continuum that you cross from content to contentious?

It would appear there is some line of demarcation that must be crossed.

It seems a bit far fetched to happy and unhappy at the same time.

Can you be satisfied and unsatisfied simultaneously?

Are contentious people content while they “Do their thing?”

To be content according to the New Testament greek, it means you raise a barrier.  You keep things out.  You guard yourself, especially your mind.

You bring every thought into the obedience of Jesus Christ.  You raise a barrier and say whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are good, a good report, etc.

When we fail to do that, we cross over that indiscernible, unseen line to being contentious.

In Corinth, Paul had contentious people who asked how long is long hair on a woman? These people had dropped a barrier.

In the letter to the Romans, Paul equates contentious people with being disobedient (2.8).

In three missionary journeys Paul had learned to be content.  He had been opposed numerous times by contentious people.  How did he survive their attacks?  He raised a barrier.

Proverbs informs us both men and women are prone to being contentious.

Contentious people are easy to spot. They find fault.  Their life is worse than anyone else’s.

Their church just isn’t what it needs to be.

Their pastor just needs to be more like Mr. Neighboring Pastor.

The music is too loud.

The sermon is too long.

The standards are too strict.

Sitting next to them on the pew or maybe a few feet away is a new convert who is content!

The new convert says,

I love our music.

Wow, what a sermon!

Amen Pastor, preach holiness!

This is the best church I have ever been to!

Our pastor is the best pastor in the whole world!

Both in the same church, same pew.  Same sermon, same choir, same nursery, same hostess, same ushers, same pastor, same music, same songs.

What is the difference?

I guess the difference is the distance from content to contentious.

The distance from satisfied to unsatisfied.

The distance from happy to unhappy.

Thanks for reading today!

The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success Monday, Jul 19 2010 

Paul was about 51 years old.  He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth.  His mind and body were on overload.  The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.

On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities.  It had been a  continual fight until he reached Derbe.  Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.

Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror.  He reveals his thoughts in his writings.  He was in despair.  He was so low he actually despaired of life.

Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge.  Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.

Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!

Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else.  Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.

Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people.  Only the capital, Rome was larger.  The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt.  It show cased modern architecture.

Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth.  There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.

Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point.  The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day.  The result is history!

In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world.  The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.

The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.

At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way.  What was his secret?

While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter.  So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.

I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.

He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.

In all of it he stressed for people to be content!

That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.

To the Philippians…be content, 4.11

To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6

To the Hebrews….be content…13.5

It was the balm for every running issue of life.

Servants, be content!

Free men, be content!

Unhappy married people, be content!

Widows, be content!

Whatever your calling, be content!

Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!

Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.

When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!

Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!

Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!

Godliness with contentment is great gain!

Thanks for reading today!

Barnyard Wisdom Wednesday, Jun 30 2010 

God uses nature as a classroom.  God says things like go to the ant thou sluggard.  God mentions many critters as teachers to us humans.

One time a donkey spoke to a greedy prophet.  The man’s name was Balaam.  We don’t know the donkey’s name.

We do know the donkey’s nature!  Her nature was to be faithful!  When chided by her ignorant owner, she let him know that had she not always been faithful?  Balaam had to say yes she had!

Then there was this certain rooster.  Simon Peter one of Jesus’ disciples was warming his hands at the fire.  The  rooster crowed.

In Israel it was very important to have a faithful rooster!  In fact if the rooster did not crow at the same time each day, it became Sunday dinner.

Time was critical and it was considered treason by the Rabbi’s to give a false time signal.  So Mr cock-a-doodle-do must have been very faithful to his job or he would have been dispensed with long ago.

My point is that God would not even use a jack, er, a donkey, unless that animal proved to be faithful!  God used the rooster only after it had been faithful!

Does he require any less of us? Shouldn’t we strive to be faithful?

Are you faithful in:

  • Church attendance
  • Giving finances to God
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Daily devotion
  • Witnessing
  • Worship and praise

Hey what do you say let’s all use a little barnyard wisdom and be as smart as a donkey and a rooster.

When we prove faithful, God will use us also!

Thanks for reading today!

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