We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Divorce for the Children’s Sake part 4

From the responses I received on “Divorce: For the Children’s Sake,” I realized I needed to clarify a few things. First, these articles are intended primarily for couples who have not experienced divorce, in hopes that they never will. Secondly, these articles/broadcasts are taken from the book, A Case for Marriage, by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher. My purpose is to introduce to my readers literature that describes reliable, excellent research from which they can learn and be challenged. Information and understanding is critical before we make decisions that will have lifetime consequences. I do realize that some of you have experienced divorce. Some have experienced relationships in which your spouse has been living a lie; some have experienced incestuous violations involving your children; some have lived in fearful endangerment. The nightmarish and hellish situations that some of you have experienced cannot even be described with words. But one thing is certain, we have a God who can heal the brokenhearted and set the captive free. So please understand that I am not trying to think of myself more highly than I ought. I am thirty years married, but only by the grace of God. Yet I believe that the circumstance and painful experiences we have encountered are for our good—yes, even the worse kind, because they train us in holiness (Heb 12). I am reminded of the account of a beautiful model in London who had a bright future ahead of her. One day, while walking to work, an unknown assailant, for no apparent reason, threw a cup of sulfuric acid into her face. The flesh from her face and scalp were literally burned away. She is now completely disfigured. This was indeed a hellish experience. Her perpetrator was never found or punished for his grievous crime. And yet this awful, tragic experience changed her for the good, as she shared a few weeks ago. God specializes in taking what was meant for evil and turning it into good. He did so with Joseph of the Old Testament who was enslaved and put into prison for many years. The end result was that it brought redemption to his family. Can we learn from our unjust experiences to help bring redemption to others, particularly those we love? Or will we become bitter, bringing those we love further down the path of strife, resentment, and vengeance? In Psalm 119 David wrote, “If your Word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” This, my friend, is my hope for you. Our relationship with Christ, and the knowledge of His word and His promises, will determine how we come out on the other side. Bitterness will destroy us. Forgiveness and hope, even in the worst situations, will redeem us. God will never leave us nor forsake us. He knows what is necessary for us to change. Sometimes we cannot see what it is within us that needs change, and sometimes it takes the hard things of life to accomplish a work that could not be performed any other way. In his book, Let Go, Fenelon wrote, “The Great Physician, who sees in you what you cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts swift and deep into your innermost being, exposing you for whom you really are; but pain is only felt where there is life, and where there is life is just the place where death is needed most. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Apt to Teach, Patiently Enduring Evil

There are several verses I would like to remove from the Bible, but 2nd Timothy 2:24 would be at the top of my list. I don’t know why I put this one to memory, but lately it has been plaguing me. It goes like this: “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be gentle to everyone!” Yes you heard correctly—everyone! And if that’s not enough conviction for one day, it continues to say “Apt to teach, patiently enduring evil,” I like the Apt to teach part that is until I looked it up in the Greek. Apt to teach carries the idea of being a learner first; to be teachable. Well, I am growing in this area, but as I look back on my life, I wasn’t very teachable, thus the reason God has had to chasten me several times to chip off those rough edges. Let’s see where was I with that verse? Oh yes…”The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, apt to teach, patiently enduring evil! Now do you see why I would remove this verse from the Bible? Patiently enduring evil? I have a hard time patiently enduring traffic, let alone evil! And the verse doesn’t stop there. Paul continues saying, “patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. I was reminded this week on several fronts that there is a lot of work yet to be done in my life. And ya know, I think that a good work has already begun, as these words of God which started in my mind, are now getting closer to my heart. Change doesn’t occur by hoping, it starts by hiding God’s word in our heart.

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 6:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Accept My Circumstances

Accept my circumstances…accept where God has me to day and bring Him the greatest glory through my present circumstances. In order to accept my circumstances, I must first have Peace with God, Accept myself, love others, then I can accept my circumstances. When any one of those is missing, we are less likely to accept our circumstances as our attitudes become infected. A fellow sojourner on the same road…who falls frequently…

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Divorce part 2

As we continue our theme on Divorce: For the Children’s sake let me say first, that if you have experienced the pain of a divorce, please know that this is not intended to add further misery. The purpose is to provide an opportunity to learn and to change. We are what we learn, and for me, I learn either from making mistakes or from others who have already learned from their mistakes, particularly those truths found in books. And when I find a good book, I am compelled to share it with you as I’ve been doing with A Case for Marriage by Waite and Gallagher. In one of the largest studies of its kind, it was found that even the unhappiest couples who grimly stick it out for the children’s sake can find happiness together a few years down the road. The study showed that a shocking 86% of unhappily married couples who stick it out, five years later, their marriages were happier. In fact most say they have become very happy. Nearly three-fifths of those who said their marriage was unhappy and who stayed married, rated this same marriage as either “very happy” or “quite happy” when interviewed a decade later. And the very worst marriages show the most dramatic turnaround: 77% of the unhappy couples said that they marriage five years later was either very happy or quite happy. Permanent marital unhappiness is suprisingly rare among those who stick it out. Please don’t get the wrong impression. Marital happiness doesn’t just come because time heals all wounds. My wife and I struggled in our marriage for over twenty years and the struggle isn’t completely over yet…but she’s learning! OK…we’re learning, though she would say that I am learning…and I am. And that’s the key. Marriage takes time and effort to learn about yourself and your spouse. It takes humility and a lot of it and forgiveness and a lot of that as well…and an unconditional commitment to let God change you so that you can be his instrument of grace to your spouse. Personally I think forgiveness is the key to a happy marriage, and it takes just one to initiate it…For he who has been forgiven the most, loves the most. And love…well, love never fails.

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crude Joking

I received a humorous email from a friend that made me to laugh so hard, it brought me to tears. So I sent the story to my brother-in-law and my two adult boys. My youngest son replied, “What’s this?” Deep inside, there was a still small voice telling me that something was wrong. You see, the humorous story had one crude remark. The story was quite harmless, but my youngest son was letting me know that he had higher expectations for me. So I drowned out the voice of conviction. And besides, most of my family had been prodding me for years to lighten up. But then I received an email from my sister-in-law who had read the story before her husband. She wrote simply, “Great story, pastor Hamby.” Obviously she did not approve. But still, I wasn’t willing to let her rule my conscience; the story was no big deal, and besides, her husband would get a good laugh. Then I received another letter, not an email, from a man named Paul. He was writing to a group of believers who had not understood the cancerous effects of crude joking. This is what he wrote: Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. God had convicted me and I realized that he was calling me to repentance and holiness. The world wants us to join in on the superficial fun that robs us of the eternal joy that comes through having a pure heart, for, you see, it is the pure in heart that shall see God, and see the incredible life he planned for us!

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Haiti 2

If you didn’t read the previous blog on Haiti, Katrina, Tsunami, and Towers, it would help to read that first before this addition. What you have not heard in the news is that prior to the earthquake, Haiti had more missionaries and pastors per capita than any other place in the world. In fact it is known and has been heard often that when a plane lands in Haiti, half of it is filled with missionaries! It would appear that God was preparing for this event long in advance, just as he did during the days of Jonah–sending his message of repentance ahead of time. Oh America, America, time is running out. We may or may not experience another calamitous event here on our soil, though we cannot deny the truth, that to those whom much has been given, much will be required; but it is essential that we who know the truth begin to let others know that there is a God who does not desire for any to perish but all to come to repentance. Peter writes in his second letter: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace… You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2nd Peter 3

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 7:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Haiti, Katrina, Tsunami, Towers

I remember a sermon that John Piper gave after the Tsunami hit a few year ago. He compared the devastating loss of human life to some of the destructive events in the Bible and the purpose behind them mainly that the living turns to God. In Luke 13:3-4 Jesus talks about the crumbling of the tower of Saloam. He is talking about the 18 people who died when the Tower fell. Note what Jesus says: “do you suppose that those upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell were worse than others?” I say unto you, “No, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”(Luke13:4-5). Calamity comes for different reasons. Sometimes it is to judge a wicked people as was the case in Noah’s flood. Whether the twin towers, the tsunami, Katrina, or the earthquake of Haiti were for the purpose of judgment, only God knows. But what I do know, is that there is a message for the living, which is “unless you repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Ironically, even if you do repent, you may still die in an earthquake, or flood, or in a fallen tower. So why repent if it isn’t going to prevent you from “likewise perishing?” What Jesus is saying is that death is coming to every one of us eventually–SO BE PREPARED. We are all going to die but if you have a relationship with the Son of God through repentance and the forgiveness of your sins, then death, no matter what form it comes, is only a door to an eternity where there will be no pain, no suffering, and no more tears. It is eternal life with Christ Jesus our Lord and all of God’s people forever! For those who live through such a dramatic event, it is our role to compassionately comfort and protect the living, and gently turn them to a God who loves them and as proven his love by letting his own Son die a calamitous death. Our great and loving God feels our pain and His reasons for allowing such calamity is always based on His great love for us, from an eternal perspective.

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Muslims

Previously I posted a lengthy article on the increase of Muslims in the world and how their religion is not really a religion, but an ideology. Today I would like to share that The Captive audio drama is on our website free to listen. It is a powerful drama about a Christian young man who is kidnapped by Algerian pirates and sold into slavery. He is then purchased by a Muslim family without any hope of ever being free but soon his captors realize that they are the ones enslaved. This drama climaxes when their militant son promises to kill the Christian as well as any family member who convert to Christianity. As in all Lamplighter stories, the ending is not predictable, except for the truth that nothing is impossible with God! If you know of folks from other faiths, I would encourage them to listen to this: http://www.lamplighter.net/ (go to the bottom and click on The Captive on the player) Ps. I am in London and just finished recording A Peep Behind the Scenes which will air March 15. You won’t want to miss listening to this story with your family, friends, and neighbors!!! 42 of the some of the greatest actors in all of Europe brought to life a drama that, in the 1800’s, sold nearly three million copies! Hedge of Thorns airs in February.

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Sabertooth Tiger Galatians 5

”But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5: One of mysteries in the animal kingdom is the extinction of the saber tooth tiger. Among scientist, there is little agreement on this animal. Some don’t think it was related to the tiger at all, but more bear like in appearance except for it saber like teeth. The majority place its extinction around 1000 years ago. But still there is no record that explains how this amazing creature disappeared into oblivion! There must be some record somewhere! But there’s not…well not exactly. I think I may have found the answer and this isn’t a script from Raiders of the Lost Ark. A missionary once told me that he had evidence that the saber tooth tiger became extinct from biting and devouring one another. He said that there was proof that the some saber tooth tigers had been dug up showing their skeletal position in a deadlock grip of one another. The conjecture was that neither of the combatants was willing to let go and as a result they literally bit and devoured one another into extinction. Are you experiencing a combatant relationship with someone today? Is it your wife, your husband, your boss, your child, your neighbor? Remember, a soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. Don’t allow your flesh to rule your spirit but enable your spirit to rule your flesh. How? By choosing to speak softly God will do the rest.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Turn Off the TV

If I had a dollar for every letter I received like this one, I would be a rich man; but I try to avoid sharing them because it could seem self-serving! I just have to share this letter because I want you to hear the excitement that is occurring to those families who have decided to go without TV and the electronic childhood. I think you will enjoy this: Dear Mr. Hamby, I would like to try and give you a picture of just how important your ministry of wholesome, Godly books, has been to our family. We normally go to home school conventions with money set aside for the Lamplighter table, and over the years we have built up a wonderful collection. But lately I have heard from my wife and oldest daughter (We have four children 13 down to 3) saying that it would be so nice to once again add to our Lamplighter books. And so I ordered a bunch. Oh, the anticipation of their arrival was delicious! And when they came, we all stood around the Kitchen Island, passing them around, flipping through the pages, and smelling the leather bound beauties quite fun! (Can you tell yet that we don’t have television?) The adventures began with the Dramatization of Charlie’s Choice. We only listen in the car, and that only when were driving a good distance, but we couldn’t wait for the first one so we made a one time exception, and listened as we drove short distances. Pretty soon I was saying things like, “I think we aught to drive in to town and run an errand, might as well bring the whole family and hey, we could hear some more of Charlie’s Choice.” Little feet running to the truck, it is the fastest loading of our vehicle on record. We all cried, we all laughed, we all had the most wonderful time. We loved it, loved it, loved it! My daughter said it was her favorite ever and that she wants the whole world to hear it! The other three dramatizations are calling us to the truck for another family drive, but I’m saving those for the longer hauls. Though I am terribly tempted; it’s just that we can barely wait to hear them. Now for our family hearth reads. The fire crackles; the little ones play at our feet or cuddle in our arms, and my wife reads us a book. These are some of our favorite, most blessed times as a family. Right now, she is reading to us from Prisoners of the Sea, and oh it is good. The hour long process of bed time, which puts and end to my wife’s reading, normally starts around 7:00, but one night this week, as the kids pleaded, one more chapter please. Again and again I acquiesced, for I too was desperately consumed by the tale. Until finally, my poor wife said, my throat will not allow me to read another chapter. So, I went into the kitchen to see what time it was and it was 9:40. I was shocked! But on a normal night, after the little ones are in bed, my wife and I, and my oldest daughter, might read in our own books. Well Tuesday, as we were doing just that, I looked up from my gem, The Lamplighter, and saw that my wife was reading Glaucia the Greek Slave &, and my oldest daughter was reading & The Wanderer and I looked over at our shelf of beautifully covered Lamplighter books, and I thought of you Mark Hamby, of your wife and children, of your staff that we’ve seen over the years at conventions, and I was struck with the magnitude of the blessing that God has allowed you to be to our little family, even though we’ve never met you personally. I am so thankful for these God-honoring books that are building character and faith into my children. Thank you so much! In Jesus, Matt

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm  Leave a Comment