What’s going on?

Patriot Day

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had been a bivocational pastor for just a couple of weeks and was new to being a classroom teacher.  The rumor came that a plane had hit the world trade center.  How tragic I thought.  We turned on the news in our classroom and like most of America were stunned to see a second plane hit the other tower.   I knew we were at war.  Many thoughts ran through my mind.  Which country was to blame?  Why commercial airlines and not their own planes. As more details came out pictures of the pentagon and news of a 4th missing plane surfaced.  Terrorists was the word we started getting.  I recall kids asking, “Why?”.  Why would anyone hijack a plane and kill themselves and innocent civilians by intentionally crashing it into a building.  I was more pastor than teacher that day.  It is difficult for us to understand a culture so devoted to hate that they would attack others due to disagreeing with our freedoms.  That it was done to make us feel less secure and force us to convert to their murderous brand of religion or die.  Now word has come of 11 airplanes “missing” in Lybia.  The news and social media are filled with the atrocities being done by followers of radical Islam.   They have an army that is sweeping Iraq and Syria.  They are persecuting Christians and anyone else who dares to refuse to follow their murderous and hateful teachings.  They have publically stated, like most nations in the Middle East, that they want to destroy Israel and drive them into the ocean.  Their friends in Hamas rain down rockets upon Israel and the world has the audacity to criticize Israel for defending themselves by destroying the sites from which the attacks were launched.

 

What is happening in the world?  Why does life seem to mean so little to so many today?  I personally feel we are seeing the prophesy of Paul play out before our eyes.  He said in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of goodtraitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

We need to pray like never before.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Pray for God to preserve us. Pray that His love will overcome their hatred and they will give up their brutality and know the peace of God.

Walking in Wisdom

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I admit it, I am a large man. One time I was at Scarborough Faire, and heard it explained. My ancestors were the Robinson sept of the Gunn clan of Scotland. The re-enactors explained that there are three kinds of Scots, wee little Scots, average Scots, and “Oh my gosh that’s a big Scot!” I clearly descend from that latter claymore wielding variety. Being large, I have to walk with a little more care than others. If I’m not careful, I hit my head on things to which the rest of you might be blissfully unaware. I also have to consider the ability of quaint wooden bridges to adequately resist the force of gravity while I am crossing them. Many times my wisdom fails as I break things and nearly knock myself out.

In life we must also consider our steps. Paul said this to the believers in Colosse. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭5-6‬ NKJV). We must walk in wisdom toward unbelievers. I have always considered this to be a reminder to consider our testimony. We must never do things to push people away. Our words and actions will either draw people to Christ or scatter them away. These verses remind us to think before we speak and act. Consider the impact we will have on the people around us.

May we all walk in wisdom and this draw others to the Savior.

Back to School

Tomorrow, students in our area return to school.  As I walked through the halls, I have seen bulletin boards being redone and mountains of trash being removed as teachers moved out the old and brought in the new.  It is always exciting to see the buildings with their fresh paint, displays, arrangements, supplies, backpacks, and even faces as everything is set in order for class to start.  Each new year holds such promise.  As the days go on, paint will be chipped, backpacks will start wearing out, and the “new” will fade.  Then is the time in which the staff and students have to dig deep and keep working even though things aren’t as fresh. It is then that we must persevere.

We will face times of struggle in our walk with God.  Standing for Him won’t always be new and fresh.   Paul said it this way when writing the churches in Galatia, ”And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Gal. 6:9 (NKJV) That is good advice in all areas of life. 

Don’t let yourself grow tired of doing what is right.  Stick to the task at hand and do it with all of your heart.  You can have a good year.

Our prayers go with all the students and teachers as they begin class tomorrow.  May they not grow weary and have a successful year.

Liberty

libertyI’m an American and the principle of having liberty is deep within my heart, I want to be left alone to succeed or fail without an army of bureaucrats coming in and interfering. I have an awesome mother and do not need the government to act as a helicopter mom for me. From the things I eat, the cars I drive, to the light bulbs I use, I want freedom! Leave me alone and I’ll leave everyone else alone

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However, in discussing liberty in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul informs believers that we sometimes must voluntarily give up our freedom for the sake of the people we are with. In Corinth, most meat markets were selling meat from pagan temples. After blood or portions of animals were used in sacrifices, the rest would be sold at the market. Paul discussed the fact that the Corinthians were free to eat whatever they wanted with thanksgiving, He also advised that if their host mentioned the food had first been offered to idols, then for the conscience of their host, they should abstain. By mentioning it, the host obviously assumed it would be sinful to eat. The dilemma for the believer was to eat because it wasn’t sinful and be viewed to be an idol worshiper, or to abstain and fulfill the expectations of the host. A believer’s testimony would be hurt if he ate after being warned. Paul concluded the discussion this way, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭31-33‬ NKJV)

In our efforts to influence people for Christ, we sometimes will have to limit our freedoms. Instead of blatantly flaunting our freedom from ritualistic laws and customs, we need to consider the effect of our actions on the audience. Ultimately, we are advised to do all for the glory of God. Instead if seeking our own profit, we should seek the profit of all, “that they might be saved.”

Although I love my liberty, I will sacrifice it temporarily in order to win someone to Christ, After that, I will work on helping them embrace liberty as well.

Focus

eyes-33216_150We’ve all heard it. It is one of those legendary lines Moms use on wayward kids. When the unsuspecting child discovers that amazing entertainment of crossing their eyes, their ever diligent Mom says, “if you keep doing that your eyes will get stuck that way!” Little did I know they were right. Last week, my wife and I took our kids to see a movie. Since we are behind on our movie going, we went to the bargain movie theater to catch the film we wanted. Normally, that works fine, but this movie was in 3D. I’m not sure if it was in the equipment or the operator, but the movie never totally worked. I wore my stylish 3D glasses but things stayed out of focus. After squinting and straining I was able to get the center clear enough to watch. After 2 hours of this the movie ended with the hero winning, when we got in the truck to drive home, I was puzzled by the blurred road. My eyes were stuck! It has taken a couple of days to get over that forced wrong focus.

Maybe that is why God inspired Paul to write “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.” (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ HCSB). The things upon which we focus stick with us. They make an impression and set a pattern for us. For example, by focusing on a lie long enough and performing mental acrobatics to twist our brain, we begin to think the lie is true and the truth is a lie.

Let’s stop pushing and straining to make ourselves fit this world. Instead, we need to have our minds fixed on the things above. High and noble thoughts which conform to the word of The Lord.

Security

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A few years ago I received a disturbing phone call.  It seems a company was calling to verify an order I had placed.  It turned out to be fraudulent and upon investigation, I discovered that someone had been ordering things using my debit card number.  I was soon to receive 2 different make-up of the month offerings to which I had been subscribed.  I also had 2 gamefly accounts and would be receiving games every month.  In all a couple of hundred dollars had been spent when it was discovered.  Then began the hassle of filing a criminal report, calling the companies involved, and watching for other uses.  At the same time I was keenly aware of a news report that said people were doing this and then hitting up the mailbox to get the items which would be delivered.  There had even been a shooting in the headlines related to a similar case.

Since then, I have tried to be more aware of where I use my debit card and have studied best practices to protect against identity theft.  For example, it is recommended that you use a unique complex password for every log in you have.  I recently looked into that and stopped counting at 48 places I have to enter a username and password.  There is no way I can remember 48+ usernames and passwords.  Security is important, but in our connected world, there is no way to eliminate all potential threats.

I’m glad in the spiritual realm we don’t have to worry about security.  2 Timothy 2:12 says, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.“ KJV.  When we trust in Jesus, He takes care of the security.  He can deliver what He has promised.  He won’t lose a single soul who has trusted in Him.  Jesus said in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.” HCSB