7/30/09

I Am Thankful

FOR THE WIFE WHO SAYS IT'S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME, AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

FOR THE HUSBAND WHO IS ON THE SOFA BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.

FOR THE TEENAGER WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME, NOT ON THE STREETS.

FOR THE TAXES I PAY BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED .

FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.

FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.

FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE

FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING, WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING, AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME .

FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

FOR THE PARKING SPOT I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION.

FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.

FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEY BECAUSE IT MEANS
I CAN HEAR.

FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.

FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.

FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.


This may be some corny email that does the rounds, but seriously think about it.

Be grateful. We have all these things when some have none.

But we all are offered GRACE and LOVE. I pray that we all take up the offer and share it.

No Exuses

Scriptural Basis:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4

“…what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:18b-20

Anderson's Applications:
As a college sophomore I spent part of a summer on the beaches of southern California witnessing to and discussing the gospel and matters of religion with a whole variety of individuals enjoying a day in the sun. It wasn’t very difficult to initiate conversation. Many were interested in talking about life and death and life beyond the grave. But when the person of Jesus Christ and the claims of the gospel entered the discussion invariably the question would arise: “How can Jesus Christ be the only way to heaven and salvation when there are “millions” around the world who have never even heard His name?” That was the summer of 1966, and again this week in 2009 a 90 year old gentleman expressed the same thought to me. I have heard the same “question” countless times in the intervening 43 years. It is normally introduced as a question, but it becomes quite clear that the person speaking already has their answer; which is apparently reason enough for them to reject the claims of Christ and the Bible.

Perhaps the largest religious poll ever taken in America on religion was begun in 2007 and completed in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of those who claimed to be Christian (76 % of America says it is), that is, those who say they made some profession to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, an astounding 52% said that at least some non-Christian faiths can also lead to eternal life, while 65% agreed that many other religions can lead to salvation and its reward. By what authority do they presume to make this claim? Certainly not on the authority of the Scriptures! One would have to do great violence to the text and the unanimity of its authors to support such an opinion. Consequently, their “authority” has to arise from their own reasoning persuaded by a personal sense of “fairness” and their personally conceived idea of who God is, quite apart from His own revelation. It isn’t “fair” they say for Jesus Christ to be the only way of salvation when there are so many religions in the world and so many people who have not had the opportunity, as far as they perceive, to find out about Jesus. Yet the Bible declares that men everywhere throughout the world in every age are without excuse. It says that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. But they suppress the truth even as it presents itself to their senses and their own consciences.

The question is, if the creation that all human beings may observe and contemplate tells us that God is, and even what He is like, how does man proceed to the knowledge of God’s special revelation, His Word, which culminates in His Son, Jesus: who He is, why He came, what He did, and that He alone is the perfect, visible expression of God? I can, of course, answer this for myself, from my own experience. I can answer it about others who have given similar testimony of their own experiences. But I cannot answer for the many I have no knowledge about, either from ages past or from far-flung parts of the globe. Nor can anyone say with any certainty that the faceless multitudes have had no opportunity to know Him, whom to know is life eternal. I must rest on the veracity of the Scriptures and the character of the God who made the universe and revealed Himself in his own fashion to His creatures. Just as He inexplicably provided a lamb at the appropriate moment for Abraham, or ordered the movement of the planets in the heavens to arrest the attention and faith of the Magi from a distant land, or by any myriad of ways in which He chose to reveal Himself, His message, and His Son apart from the written Word of God, so God is able to make Himself known where the Bible or a Christian messenger is not readily available.

In any case it is foolishness to reject the truth yourself because of mere perception, unsubstantiated perception, that there are multitudes who have no opportunity to learn of the God who created them and the world, and sent His One and Only Son for the purpose of man's salvation. Each individual must answer for him or herself, and not flee personal accountability on the lame excuse that nameless others have not been accorded fairness or justice. Leave that with the God of the universe, while you respond personally to the evidence God has paraded before your own eyes and heart. You know what it is; and if you conveniently forget or ignore it now, you will be reminded of it at the Judgment. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1

by Stephen Leonard

7/23/09

Do You See It?


Jesus said: “Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds…Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:24 and 27

When is the last time you stopped to watch a bird doing its thing or scrutinized a flower and the unique beauty which sets it apart from all the other flowers you have ever seen with your own eyes? When did you last take the time to observe something in the creation and purposefully think about what it is, how it works, how it came to be, and what its glory is? Is life so demanding, pressured and fast that to even contemplate doing that seems to you somewhat wasteful of your time and priorities? At first glance this instruction from the “Master-builder and Creator” appears to be solely aimed at an antidote for worry and anxiety, something all of us know quite well. In fact we know such “burdens” better than the Creation in which we live. Jesus’ method to teach us what life ought to be reaffirms a principle we find throughout Scripture: the Creation is not just there to provide a place in which to eat and drink, live and die. It is there to reveal its Creator, lead us to increasing knowledge of who He is and who we are, and elicit from us wonder, awe and praise of Him who has brought it all into existence and holds it together.

Our capacity to do exactly what Jesus commands of us sets us above the rest of the Creation. We were not created to be like the “brute beasts of the field” whom He has placed us over as rulers. We each have been given the capacity to CONSIDER the world in which we live and the things we find in it. Doing so is not a waste of time or a frivolous exercise in Jesus’ eyes. It is necessary to the knowledge of God and His Son, whom to know is real life; life that does not come to an end. God chose to reveal Himself to us through two "maps," both of which are focused in His Son: the Creation and the Scriptures. “For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17) The whole point of Psalm 8 is that when we accurately consider the world in which we have been placed we come to understand who we are, that He cares for us, and because of our observation we are brought to exclaim with joy, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1 and 9) This is the benefit and resulting joy of taking time to observe, consider, and delight in His creation. We must read and do His Word. But we must also consider and glory in what He has made for our joy and knowledge, especially the knowledge of Him!

The revelation of the Gospel in the Scriptures is necessary to an understanding of sin and salvation in Christ; why He had to die, and rise from the grave. But it is the Creation which necessarily complements the Scriptures to display the awesome beauty and love and glory of the character of God in His Son. He has created all this that you might see and experience, consider and learn, how much He thinks of and cares for you! Read Proverbs 8:27-36 and you will see exactly this. Here you see the merger of both the Creation and His instructions aimed by the Spirit of God at your eyes and your heart in order that you might find Him, and in finding Him, find life! (vs. 35) But notice also verse 36: “Whoever fails to find me (in Creation and in the Scriptures) harms himself; all who hate me (that is, ignore me) love death.”

Its summer; you have few excuses like the cold, the rain, the snow, or whatever. Get outside; walk, observe, think, praise, and delight...to this specific end: that you might know, love, and enjoy Him more!

By Leonard

7/8/09

The Speeding Ticket

Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often? When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour,Jack pulled over, but only partially.Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror.The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.

Bob? Bob from Church?
Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket.
A cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who happened to be a little eager
to get home after a long day at the office.
A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow.

Jumping out of the car,
he approached a man he saw every Sunday,
a man he'd never seen in uniform
'Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this.'
'Hello, Jack.' No smile
'Guess you caught me red-handed
in a rush to see my wife and kids.'
'Yeah, I guess.' Bob seemed uncertain.
Good......
'I've seen some long days at the office lately.
I'm afraid I bent the rules a bit -just this once.'
Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement.
'Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight.
Know what I mean?'
'I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct '
Ouch.
This was not going in the right direction.
Time to change tactics.
'What'd you clock me at?'
Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?' 'Now wait a minute here, Bob, I checked as soon as I saw you, I was barely nudging 65.' The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.
Please, Jack, in the car'
Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard.
He was in no rush to open the window.
The minutes ticked by.
Bob scribbled away on the pad.
Why hadn't he asked for a driver's license?
Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again.
A tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand, Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip. 'Thanks.'
Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.
Bob returned to his police car without a word.
Jack watched his retreat in the mirror.
Jack unfolded the sheet of paper.
How much was this one going to cost?
Wait a minute.
What was this? Some kind of joke?
Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:

'Dear Jack, Once upon a time I had a daughter.
She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it - a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters, all three of them, I only had one, and I'm going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again.
A thousand times I've tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again. Even now, Pray for me. And be careful, Jack, my son is all I have left.'

Jack turned around in time to see Bob's car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived. Life is precious. Handle with care. Drive safely and carefully. Remember, cars are not the only things recalled by their maker. Funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the sanctity of life, people think twice about sharing. Funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them.

Pass this on, you may save a life. Maybe not, but we'll never know if we don't try. May today there be peace within you. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.'