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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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SOLOMON’S SEVEN HUNDRED WIVES!

My Thoughts. . .

08-2020

He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3).

Solomon had seven hundred wives!  I want to focus on wife number seven hundred.  She was beautiful.  She was sixteen when her dad, the king of his country, had that fatherly talk with her.  He told her that she would seal an alliance between her country and the Israelite nation through her marriage to their king.  That king was noted for his wisdom and wealth.  She thought she was the luckiest girl in the world to be married to Israel’s king.  She had never met him.  She did not have a choice.  She did not love him.  None of that mattered.  Daddy decided her future and she would be marrying a king!  How lucky could a young lady be?

The marriage went as expected.  Royal clothing, Royal servants, Royal meals, Royal gifts, a Royal palace, and royal respect were part of her new experiences.  A wealthy king would be her husband.  None of her friends had received such honors.   Yes, the King was older than she, but that was true of marriages in that time.

Then she found out she was not his only wife.  Her mouth dropped open when she was introduced to the other six hundred and ninety-nine.  It dropped even further when she also met the three hundred concubines.  She had competition.  How does a new wife compete with nine hundred and ninety-nine other women vying for the King’s attention, affection, and bed?  She was a newcomer, without experience, and lined up against nine hundred and ninety-nine other cutthroats!

Being a new wife did gain the King’s attention for a short period.  Then she announced that she was pregnant.  When the girl was born there was not a lot of joy.  Boys were better.  Yet, being the last wife, even if she had several boys, being a latecomer would not guarantee that one of them would ever be king.  The oldest was usually selected.  Then that new king often killed off all the competition.  Her baby girl was safe.  Future boy babies?  Maybe not.

Out of one thousand women to choose from, favorites developed.  She was not one of them.  She and a number of other wives were political pawns sealing peace between Solomon’s kingdom and the kingdom of that girl’s father.  Oh, they were all beautiful women and a lot of them were young, but marriage was not usually based upon love.  He was capable of loving all of them, wives, and concubines, but he did have his favorites.

Out of the seven hundred wives, few were Jewish.  Each was allowed to have her own god and style of worship.  Those who were favored had more influence over Solomon than the others.  Scripture states, “and his wives led him astray” (1 Kings 11:3).  Scripture does not detail it, but would seven hundred women not be in competition with one another over who would have more influence with the king?  Would that household be a peaceful one overflowing with love?  Competitiveness does not usually breed harmony.

Solomon refers to this situation several times in Proverbs 14:1; 15:17; 17:1; 21:9, 19; 25:24!  The opposite is given in Proverbs 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-31.  Politics does not a good marriage make!  When God made man, He designed marriage for one man to be bound to one woman!  Political alliances and pagan influence caused Solomon to forget his earlier allegiance.  Such things still affect nations and individuals today.

LESSONS WITH FEW WORDS?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-30-2020

Sometimes God uses one or two words to teach a powerful lesson.  We may overlook those words and miss the lessons.  We may do one of three things:

  1. We read but miss the point.
  2. We read but do not understand the point
  3. We read, see the point, but ignore it because it does not seem to fit our interpretation.

When Eve was discussing the forbidden fruit and why eating it was a death penalty, the serpent’s objection was, “Ye shall NOT surely die” (Genesis 3:4 KJV).  Guess whose interpretation she and Adam accepted?  Did Eve turn to Adam and say, “Take your pick, ‘Abstaining is necessary, but not essential,’” or did she say, “Take your pick, ‘Abstaining is essential, but not necessary’”?

When Jesus was talking to the woman about true worship, he did not tell her it was a future hope, nor did he tell her it would be a year or so before it would happen.  He stated, “But the hour cometh, and NOW is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:23).

Some ignore the “now” in Jesus’ context and believe it was fulfilled in Luke’s Acts 2 Pentecost.  This rearrangement takes the “in spirit and in truth” worship and narrows it down to five acts performed on Sunday in a “worship service.”  Was Jesus telling that woman that the “NOW” would not happen while he was addressing her, but she would have to wait until the Acts 2 Pentecost to experience it?  We need to ask who was his audience when he made that statement?  It certainly was not the thousands who were in the Acts 2 group.  To jump from John 4 to Acts 2 is to assume a lot of things which are not mentioned in either passage.  Some believe Jesus was speaking to those who would read John’s account later regardless of the century they lived in.  Since we are reading that passage today, Jesus must have looked forward one thousand nine hundred and eight-eight years so he could address us.  The context of John 4 shows Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman!  Most never realize that their assumptions are adding a lot of things to that passage which neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit addressed.

When Paul was correcting the Corinthian church, he told them that certain married women were to keep their mouths shut and not open them “in church.”  Some believe Paul was accusing all women of being shameful because the female members were attempting to stand up and preach in the “worship service.”  The passage does not mention the word “preaching.”  However, if that is what they were doing, then Paul gave them the correct “where” they could preach by commanding them to do so “at home.”  So, what is it that women are commanded by God to do “at home”?  Whatever it is, it was commanded by Paul.  Some believe the worship assembly is public and Bible classes are private teaching.  The private teaching is equal to the expression “at home.”  Again, what is it that women are commanded to do “at home” but not “in church.”?

Scripture warns people about adding to or subtracting from His word.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19 KJV)

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9 KJV).

These are a few passages where one or two words hold more importance than some will credit them with!

THE NEGATIVES OF CHRISTIANITY

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 07-27-2020

TV ads feature new medicines almost every week.  The first thing they tell you is what it will heal, help, or dissipate.   Then they rattle off the side effects, finally slowing down to inform you that if you have any of those symptoms do not take it.  One new medication will eradicate those bad headaches you constantly suffer.  Hidden among the side effects it informs you in smaller print that it may cause headaches!  Medicines sold to remove seizures may cause them.  If you notice one of those symptoms when you take the medication, rapidly call your doctor.  If you call your doctor to set up an immediate appointment, “immediate” sometimes means two months away.

I’m glad we have labs that can develop new cures for the sufferers.  One doctor informed me that every medication has its side effects.  You have to determine if the cure is better than the cause.  For most people the side effects are so minimal that the good outweighs the harm.

The Scriptures are like medication.  There is a benefit in following its instructions, but there may also be minuses suffered due to the negatives.  Your present godly lifestyle may be questioned by your former “good time” buddies.  When life burdens you with its heavy concerns, the “What Ifs” paint godliness in black whereas the former one is filled with rainbow colors.  Peter was thrown into prison awaiting the death his fellow apostle James had experienced.  Whole families in the church died together in the Colosseum being torn apart by hungry lions.  Nero used Christians, soaked in oil, to light the streets of Rome.  Today’s Nigerian Christians are losing their lives because Nigerian Muslims believe they are infidels deserving death.   In our country, we are beginning to hear voices threaten death for believers in Jesus.  It is the negative side cropping up to offer us their way rather than Jesus’ path.

ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION OR NECESSARY FOR OBEDIENCE?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-23-2020

There are a lot of different ideas about water baptism.  Some submit to it in order to be obedient to biblical commands.  Some believe it is necessary to be obedient to the Lord, but not essential to their salvation.  Some believe it is an outward sign of an inward condition.  Some believe baptism means immersion while others believe it may be practice in one of three modes: 1) sprinkling of water upon the candidate, 2) pouring a small amount water upon the candidate’s head, or 3) immersing the individual into a burial in water and raising them from it.  There are some who believe it is commanded because it is essential to surrender and obey.  There is one denomination that does not practice it at all.

Some churches teach baptism is essential in order for a person to become a member of their denomination.  Some vote on whether to accept that person into their membership.  If “yes,” then the person is immersed.  The baptism is essential to gain membership in a fellowship that is non-essential to his salvation.

Although Jesus was without sin, he still went to his cousin John and submitted to his baptism.  Although John immersed people “for the remission of sin,” Jesus had none to be remitted (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).  Yet he submitted to that “for the remission of sin” baptism.  John argued that Jesus needed to immerse him, but Jesus insisted that John baptize him “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  The apostles had submitted to that “for remission of sins” baptism.  They had sins that needed to be removed.  The only ones who rejected that baptism were the Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 7:30).  If the Son of God, who had NO sin, saw the necessity to be immersed “to fulfill all righteousness,” why do some think they would not need to follow his example?  Are they without sin?  Are they more righteous than Jesus?  By refusing, they would be following the example of the Pharisees and lawyers!  If they are guilty of sin due to their imperfections, and if they were second in line after Jesus, why would they hesitate to do what our Lord did?  Since we do have sin and John was immersing people to remit their sins, wouldn’t that be our reason to be in line?

When Jesus was immersed by John and started to come up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and lit upon him.  A sign of God’s approval of what Jesus had done.  Why do people argue against the baptism performed on Pentecost in Acts 2?  Jesus was approved by God when he submitted to John’s baptism which was “for the same remission of sins.”  Did Jesus, who had no sin, need that immersion?  No, but he submitted to it to fulfill all righteousness.  Since we do have sin, what Godly reason would we have for rejecting is as the Pharisees and lawyers did?

After the dove landed on Jesus, God spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).  If God was pleased with Jesus, who had no sin, but submitted to a baptism that was “for the remission of sin,” why do we who are guilty of sin, argue against submitting to a similar baptism?  Do we hesitate being immersed “for the remission of sins,” because like Jesus, we have none?  How can we refuse to be immersed for that purpose when we are sinners and are not fulfilling all that is right by our refusal?  To claim to follow Jesus to fulfill all righteousness yet deny the purpose of that baptism is inconsistent.

On the day of Pentecost people asked Peter what they needed to do.  Peter told them to 1) repent and 2) in the name of Jesus, 3) be immersed for the remission of sin, and 4) they would receive His Spirit.  Yet, despite about 3,000 obeying Peter’s command and being saved, some will justify not obeying that same inspired instruction unless they remove the words “for the remission of sins.”  Do we have the authority to rewrite scripture?

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

THE HIDDEN PERFECTION

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 07-20-2020

Most people have a hole in their life which they are attempting to fill.  That hole may have been created due to a perceived inadequacy.  Living in a negative upbringing does not usually produce a positive outlook.  A parent’s “You’ll never amount to a hill of beans” may motivate a child in one of two ways.  The child determines to prove the parent wrong or surrenders to that inevitable end.

The expression, “He is the sum total of his rearing” is often correct.  Children yelled at by their parents may train theirs the same way.   We teach what we have been taught!  Solomon stated, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  That is usually true, but not always.  Madalyn Murray O”Hair trained her son to be an atheist.  He disappointed her by following Jesus.

Most want to fill their hole with perfection.  The problem?  They look for it in all the wrong places.  Perfection cannot be created from brokenness.  Man lost it in the Garden (Genesis 3).  The harder man attempts to create it, the more successful he is in missing it.  This causes some to accept failure and hopelessness.  Others try harder without positive payment for their efforts.  Some believe their right actions will force God to love them.  The serpent survived the Garden and continues to speak to modern man!  Men hear him all too well.  Women too.

Satan wants man to put his trust in his own efforts as the savior.  Man’s efforts are his justification for relying upon his righteousness (Titus 3:5).  Focusing upon himself, causes man to miss Jesus.  Misplaced trust pays off in self-righteousness.  God sent His Word to become our sin sacrifice.  He did not need our efforts because He freely gave His.

You and I have a hole which needs to be filled.  Unless we fill it with Jesus, we continue in our holiness, not His!  Whose are you seeking?

THE “I’M OFFENDED” VIRUS

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-16-2020

What do you think about renaming the Washington Redskins?  Is it because the expression “Redskins” is offensive to the Indian population of the USA?  We seem to be living in that period of history in this country that if a name, phrase, statue, or title is offensive to anyone, it needs to be destroyed or changed yesterday!  Are we consistent in this call to wipe out offensiveness?  We are human, aren’t we?  Inconsistency is our middle name.

In an attempt to be consistent, why don’t we change the names of the following?  If “Redskins” is offensive, what about “Kansas City CHIEFS” or “The Atlanta BRAVES”?  Perhaps we need to include the “Cleveland INDIANS”?  If the offense over “Redskins” is because of one’s skin color, then maybe we need to add the “Cleveland BROWNS” to the list?

Perhaps the offense is wider in scope than that.  Why not change the name of “The New York YANKEES” because it is offensive to folks in the South?  Even religion could be offensive with “The New Orleans SAINTS” or “the Los Angeles ANGELS” or the “San Diego PADRES” thrown into the mix?

Law abiding people may be offended by teams with names that glorify criminals who are guilty of rape and ruin such as “The Oakland RAIDERS” or “the Minnesota VIKINGS.  One could include the “Tampa BUCCANEERS” and “the Pittsburgh PIRATES.”

Perhaps “the New York GIANTS” and “the San Francisco GIANTS” should be included which might highlight obesity and that could offend some.  Some teetotalers could be offended by “the Milwaukee BREWERS.”

There are a number of citizens in this country that have “thin skin” and I suppose that term could be offensive to those who own it.

While we are addressing this topic, there are some who feel members of Congress are spending their time griping and attempting to dig up dirt rather than doing the job we hired them to do through the ballot box.  Perhaps “Representative” and “Senator” need to be thrown out and a more descriptive title be given that shows what they are actually doing?

Humans are usually inconsistent in a number of areas, and my offering might fall within that realm for some of my readers.  “Being offended” is the name of the game!  The best way to solve it is for everyone to keep their mouth shut, their pens dry, and their thoughts to themselves.  Of course, “silence” to some may be offensive.

My apologies.  I’m sure I have been!

WHICH WAY TO RUN?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 07-13-2020

I met my first bully in the first grade.  He was going to use me to sweep the sidewalk.  Did I run to him to accept his challenge?  Dream on!  I took off for our apartment as soon as the dismissal bell rang.  He spotted me, but being smaller, I was more fleet of foot.  My mom was sitting on the steps of our apartment building.  I knew I would be safe.  She asked why THAT boy was following.  I confessed all.  She shocked me and sent me back into the jaws of death.  I walked to the bully and told him I was going to fight him.  I tried to keep my voice from showing my fear.  His eyes widened in shock when he backed up.  He stuttered and fled.  I was relieved, but still weak in the knees.  I wanted to run from this boy who was bigger and stronger than I was.  However, David the teenager, RAN to his huge opponent (1 Samuel 17:48).  I salved my conscience by explaining that David was armed, I wasn’t!

Goliath came out and challenged Israel’s champion to meet him in combat.  Each man hoped another would accept the challenge.  None did.  Not even King Saul volunteered.  David’s father sent him to check on his fighting sons.  When Goliath made his usual threat and challenge, David saw fear in the eyes of his brothers.  So, he accepted the challenge.  Rather than receiving a pat on the back from his fighting brethren, he had to endure their scorn.  Man hasn’t changed much, have we?

David was offered Saul’s armor.  It was too heavy and cumbersome.   He crossed a brook and picked up 5 smooth stones (1 Samuel 17:40).  When Goliath saw David, he was not impressed and poured out his scorn on this boy who was an insult to him.  David told Goliath that he did not come to him with sword, spear, or shield.  He came in the name of Yahweh (vv. 45-47).  He informed Goliath that God had given him into his hands.  Goliath is assumed to have been nine feet, nine inches tall, weighing about six hundred pounds.  If you and I had been there, we would have had enough sense to leave that area and get as far away as possible.  Only an idiot would believe the Israelites had a ghost of a chance in being victorious.  David RAN too, but TOWARD Goliath (v.48).  Goliath saw David’s hand go into his bag.  He saw David load that smooth stone into his sling.  He saw David twirl that sling around above his head.  He saw the release of that smooth stone from the sling and watched it flying swiftly in his direction.  When it hit, that was the last thought he had.  Six hundred pounds lost that fight and thundered to the ground.  Philistine mouths dropped open.  Disbelief spread among their ranks.  Their champion was down, and a count was not needed.  That wee little boy picked up Goliath’s huge but razor-sharp sword and Goliath lost his head (v. 51).

That loss sent panic tearing into the hearts of the Philistines.  A dust storm called retreat was created.  The frightened hearts of the Israelite soldiers were converted as they became cross country runners, chasing after their swift footed enemy.  Saul had no idea who this boy was.  When he found out it was David, the youth stood before him with a large head in his hand!  Frankly, I would have thrown up if I had attempted to cut off Goliath’s head!

David was well trained in using his sling.  He had already killed a lion and a bear that were threatening his father’s sheep.  His talent and belief in God erased his fear, steadied his hand, and focused his sight.  He did not praise his ability with the sling, but rather gave glory to God (vv. 45-47).  Rather than mimic his brothers and their fellow soldiers, he refused to be fearful.  He did not run away.  He ran to be near Goliath, putting the giant within deadly distance of that smooth stone.

Rather than broadcasting our talents as our success, we need to learn from young David that God is the better choice.

RACE RELATIONS

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-09-2020

Slavery did not start in the 19th century.  Remember Joseph (Genesis 37:28)?  Humans from Africa were not the first to be sold as such.  Although slavery was late in being abolished by law in the United States, there are modern countries and near East religions that continue the practice.  Although there are regulations outlawing different practices, that does not guarantee the citizens under those laws will abide by them.  How many go thirty or less in a thirty-mph zone?  Laws may be passed in Washington, D.C., but until hearts are changed, the abuses will continue.

Jesus taught that we are to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17).  He said that if someone slapped you on one cheek, turn the other (Luke 6:29).  If someone forces you to carry his load one mile, carry it two (Matthew 5:41).  However, man is a walking contradiction.  James asked if sweet and bitter water flows out of the same source (James 3:11).  The correct answer is “No.”  But, in reality most are guilty of that dispensary.

We are creatures influenced by habit, culture, fear, and traditions.  I was not raised in the South.  But I knew there were certain unwritten boundaries which my culture restricted me to.  I knew I must drink from a fountain that was for “white’s only.”  I knew what schools I could attend.  I knew the church where I attended was for people whose skin was like mine.  I knew there were places which were off limits to those whose skin color was different.  I knew the town where my grandparents lived, worked, and died in that it was for white people only.  In larger towns there was a section where whites did not live, only those who were black.  I could go into those sections and play ball with kids my age, but they could not come into my section of town and do the same thing.

Jobs available to me were not open to them.  I could go to a movie and sit where I pleased.  In places where blacks were allowed to attend a movie, they were restricted to a certain section and required to “stay in their place.”  I did not understand some of those rules or expectations, but I knew if I violated them, I would be verbally and physically hurt for breaching those boundaries.  My violation would bring isolation from my peers.

I knew that black people who came too close to those boundaries, could have a visit by “the law” reminding them where those lines were.  Some churches had a specific seating area for blacks, but there was little or no fellowship between white and black members.  In 1942 a Christian college administrator and another who was a well-known editor, refused to shake hands with black preachers and published that fact.  In Oklahoma there was more fellowship between whites and Indians than with blacks.  In my senior year in high school, there was an extremely popular Indian boy in the senior class.  George was a fine basketball player.  Sixty years before that, some of the older generation would have thought a good Indian was a dead one.

Man is a living contradiction.  It is easier to quote scripture than to practice it.  Preachers quoted John 3:16 and audiences replied “Amen,” but the “whosoever” was mentally limited.  Time has healed some of those wounds, but not all.  Old habits, culture, traditions, and fear do not exit a society quickly.  The United States and its Allies fought against Nazi Germany in the forties.  Nazis thought they were the super race and murdered about twenty-one million citizens which they classified as inferior.  The Japanese war crimes were more.  Feelings of superiority are a cancer that negates Jesus teachings on love.  That hate manifested by Germans and Japanese during WWII did not die out in 1945.  It continues to exist in all countries because of that superior/inferior attitude.  Hearts must change before societies can enjoy the kind of fellowship God desires for His creation.  That movement toward fellowship ought to start first with the church!

I DID IT MY WAY?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 06-29-2020

I have been a minister for sixty-six years.  I am not trained as a counselor, but a few thought I was.  People seeking that profession want to talk with someone about the failures r troubles in their life.   All of us are failures or have problems to one degree or another.  Why?  It is a part of being without perfection.  The song, “My Way” was co-written by Claude Francois, Gilles Thibaut, Jacques Revaux, and Paul Anka.  Frank Sinatra made it famous and later Elvis Presley.   Some of the pertinent verses are,

“Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention . . .

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out. . .

Although the words of that song do not exactly fit your story nor mine, most of us have seen regrets and chewed on life’s despair.  We see ourselves as failures in some aspects of our life.  Man attempts to make a good living for his family.  Sometimes, due to work, too little time, excuses, fatigue, and attempting to provide things as a substitute for self, our shortcomings fill that void.  Age begins to reveal what hindsight does not want to see.  Regret over those lost moments and failed promises paints some woeful memories.

“Tomorrow” is an often-used promise that becomes yesterday’s regrets.  Little boys and girls grow up.  Dad goes from being a youngster’s Superman to someone who is there physically but missing emotionally.

Reba McEntire sang the song, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” written by Richard Leigh and Layng Martine, Jr. in 1991.   The lyrics are so true that it makes the song a haunting one.

1st verse:

The greatest man I never knew

Lived just down the hall

And every day we said hello

But never touched at all

He was in his paper

I was in my room

How was I to know he thought I hung the moon

3rd verse:

Then the days turned into years

And the memories to black and white

He grew cold like an old winter wind

Blowing across my life

4th verse:

The greatest words I never heard

I guess I’ll never hear

The man I thought could never die

He’s been dead almost a year

He was good at business

But there was business left to do

He never said he loved me

Guess he thought I knew.

The depression of the thirties kept my dad searching for work.  In 1943 the war took him into the US Navy Construction Battalion.  He never came home because he met someone else.  I did not see him again until 1955 for a few brief hours.  The last time I saw him was around 1957 when he left from West Missouri moving his family to Arizona.  In 1974 he disowned me due to our religious differences.  I never heard from him again.  My sister informed me that he died from Alzheimer in 1995.  He was a stranger in many ways, but I still loved him.

We all have our shortcomings.  That is why we need a Savior.  Not just any Savior.  We all come up short on being sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandparents and great grandparents, and as human beings.  Because we are human, we have our regrets.  Thank God that He sent His Word to become our Savior.  I hope you have met and have accepted his cleaning blood.  His name is Jesus.

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