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


Worth Listening To . . .

A good listenĀ from Focus on the Family on marriage and parenting.

http://fotf.cdnetworks.net/fotf/mp3/fof_weekend_magazine_podcast/fwmp_2011/fwmp_20111126.mp3
Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Day of Adversity

The Day of Adversity

Have you ever faced a sudden trial in your life? Maybe it was unexpected, and in certain ways, disillusioning. When these trials come, it’s often easy to buckle under their weight and lose any forward motion and perspective.

Solomon understood this when he penned the Proverb, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). I don’t know about you but when I am experiencing conflicts my strength is drained. But I’m learning that when my strength has been diminished, it is a clear sign that fear or pride has blocked the flow of God’s restoring grace.

For thirteen years I struggled with chronic fatigue, colitis, fibromyalgia, and depression. Indeed my strength was small during this time, but it was also a time when I experienced unusual success as a leader and speaker. On the outside I looked great; on the inside I was falling apart.

If you are longing for your inner self to match your outward smile, then it is going to take humility. Humility requires honesty about your weaknesses. It is interesting that in some severe cases of psychosis, individuals begin to think of themselves as superior and some have even claimed to be Jesus Christ. The more we hide our weaknesses on the inside, the more exaggeratedly pure we see ourselves on the outside.

For the past sixteen years I have not experienced any of the symptoms of the four illnesses I listed. It took me 13 years to learn that God resists the proud, but when we’re honest about who we are on the inside, He gives grace to the humble.

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unexplainable God

I live in the Northeast, and during the summer of 2009, it rained 50 out of 58 days! That’s more consecutive days than Noah had! But certainly not the same amount of water. Did you know that during the Flood, both the underground water supply and the atmospheric reservoirs were released? Atmospheric reservoirs, you ask? Yes, according to the book of Genesis a canopy of water enveloped the earth, providing a kind of terrarium effect. This allowed plants and animals and man to live in a perfect environment.

Did you know that when God created the heavens and the earth, He created light before the sun? Not possible, you say. But that what makes Him God–for with God, nothing is impossible!

Life on planet earth is dependent upon God and God alone. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, writes in the book of Ecclesiastes: “then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out” (Ecclesiastes 8:17).

Life on planet earth is not dependent upon the function of the sun, nor can it be explained away by theories of man. The simple truth is that there is a God.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Delegation or Disintegration?

Whenever I hear the word delegation I am reminded of the notable example found in the Old Testament. Moses’ father-in-law encourages him to enlist others in order to relieve his burden. Later in the book of Numbers, Moses again becomes overloaded with pressure and cries out to God for help. So God directs Moses to gather seventy men and to meet Him at the tent of meeting. The LORD then tells Moses that He is going to take some of the Spirit that is on him (Moses) and put it on the seventy.

I have often wondered if Moses felt a dwindling of power when this occurred. I wonder too, if he wished he had never complained. I also wonder if delegation is indeed the best course of action in many cases.

If we look closely at the text we will find that after Moses experiences this depletion of the Spirit, it is, for the most part, all down hill. Jealousy overcomes Joshua as the young men prophesy. God’s judgment kills many with a great plague. Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses, only to incur God’s swift judgment of leprosy. The stubborn army of Israel goes to battle, against Moses’ authority, ending in utter defeat. Ten of the twelve spies report that it is impossible to enter the God-given land since giants dwell therein. This in turn creates a domino effect of mass grumbling and complaining, which causes rebellion to spiral out of control.

Was it wise for Moses to delegate? I would propose that perhaps it is sometimes the better part of wisdom to consider why we want to bring others on board to help us with our load. Let us first come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. We may miss God’s deliverance and blessing if we pass off our responsibility too soon.

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 4:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Spit in Your Face, Part 2

Yesterday we talked about “extremes” that God would go in order to teach his children about holiness. Please understand that “extremes” must be governed within the framework of mercy and grace, and only used for those children or adults who purposely disobey after much guidance and correction have been given. Within this framework of parenting, we must never forget that God’s mercy is a thousand times greater than his judgment. A good example of “extreme parenting” is given to us by a woman named Sarah Edwards, the wife of the great preacher, Jonathan Edwards.”

In Samuel Hopkins’ book, Marriage to a Difficult Man, he writes, “Sarah knew how to make her children regard and obey her cheerfully, without loud angry words, much less heavy blows. She seldom punished them, and in speaking to them, used gentle and pleasant words. If any correction was necessary, she did not administer it in passion; when she had occasion to reprove and rebuke she would do it in few words, without noise; she had need to speak but once; she was cheerfully obeyed because she convinced her children of the reasonableness of her request; murmuring and answering again were not known among them.

The kind and gentle treatment they received from their mother, while she strictly and punctiliously maintained her parental authority, seemed naturally to . . . promote a filial respect and affection, and to lead them to a mild, tender treatment of each other. Quarrelling and contention, which too frequently take place among children, were in her family unknown.

She carefully observed the first appearance of resentment and ill will in her young children . . . showed her displeasure and suppressed it to the uttermost; yet not by angry, wrathful words, which often provoke children to wrath . . . Her system of discipline was begun at a very early age and it was her rule to resist the first, as well as every subsequent exhibition of temper or disobedience in the child . . . wisely reflecting that until a child will obey his parents he can never be brought to obey God.”

Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 4:23 am  Comments (1)  

Spit in Your Face!

What would you do you if you saw a parent spitting in their child’s face?

In the Old Testament, if you got hit by spit, you would be considered unclean. In fact, according to Leviticus 15:8, if someone unclean spit on you, you would have to wash your clothes and bathe and be unclean until the evening. Deuteronomy 25:9 says that if a brother refused to marry his dead brother’s wife, she was to remove his sandal from his foot and then spit in his face. Both the spitting and loss of a shoe represented disdain and humiliation which made a man think twice before he decided to turn his back on his family responsibilities.

In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron are severely chastised by God for speaking against Moses behind his back. The penalty for Miriam is an immediate break out of leprosy and intense humiliation. Though her punishment didn’t last long, I’m sure she never spoke rashly against those in authority again.

Note what God says about Mariam’s behavior after he administers this unusual short term punishment. He says, “if her father had but spit in her face, should she should not be ashamed seven days?” It would appear that Mariam needed to have her mouth washed out with soap when she was a child. God seems to be indicating that her father didn’t do his job as a parent and as a result, Mariam now as an adult is still using her mouth for harm.

Now, please, understand that I am NOT, I repeat, not ever saying you should spit in your children’s face or wash their mouth with soap…though my mom did that to me when I spoke mouthy as a child…and I thought twice before I ever spoke that way again. But there’s more that we can draw from this unusual section of Scripture.God as our father sees sin as serious, and will go to great lengths to teach us the value of holiness. It is time that we as parents do the same.

Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Wisdom for Samuel

In the book of 1 Samuel, we read that Hannah asked the Lord for a child and was rewarded. She vowed to consecrate Samuel to the Lord’s service, and brought him to the temple when he was weaned. Many of us know the story–but have you found the hidden treasures buried within?

The Scriptures report:

“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men” (1 Samuel 2:26).

What comes to mind when you read this verse? Perhaps you’ll recall verses describing Jesus, who grew in “wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Do you see the similarity?

Yet there’s also an interesting disparity between the two descriptions. The Scripture does not report that Samuel grew in wisdom. Why?

The next chapter tells of Samuel’s encounter with the Lord. Sure that Eli is calling him, Samuel rises, only to go back to bed and hear the voice again. But we’re informed of something very important during this narrative:

“Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him” (1 Samuel 3:7).

Samuel was serving in the temple, and yet it appears that he did not yet know the revealed Lord in a personal way–thus his lack of wisdom. This stands to reason since the book of

Samuel is set during the days of the Judges, when every man is doing that which is right in his own eyes. This is also a day when a whole generation (including Samuel) grows up without knowing the LORD, nor the works that He has done.

But everything changed when God called Samuel’s name in the night hours. It was then that God revealed Himself through His Word. We are told that,

“. . . Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground . . . For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh, by the Word of the LORD.” (1 Samuel 3:19, 21).

The years of gross moral decay during the period of the Judges now come to an end because one child took the Word of God seriously. The same can happen today, for, as D.L. Moody once said, “the world has not yet seen what God can do through one man, one woman, or one child, wholly committed unto Him.”

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 4:21 am  Leave a Comment  

100% Cure for Heart Disease

They just weren’t dying!

Ten men and one boy from a rural community south of Rome set sail for New York in 1882. They were known as the Rosetans and they were looking for the land of opportunity. Once they landed in America, they traveled ninety miles east and found work at slate quarry near Bangor, Pennsylvania. Before long, fifteen more set sail and joined them. Word soon traveled back to Roseto about the promise of the new land, and a stream of Rosetans turned into a flood.

Land was purchased, stone houses built, and a community established–much like the one back in Italy. If you were to walk down the streets of Roseto four decades later, you would mainly hear Italian spoken in this self-sufficient, vibrant, and hard-working community.

All was well–actually, too well for the medical community. The people weren’t dying like the rest of Americans. In fact, during the 1950’s, when heart attacks were an epidemic in the US, they were rare among the Rosetans. In fact, none under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease.

So the medical community began to research this unusual phenomenon, today known as the Roseto Effect. They thought it might be the foods these people ate, but the Rosetans ate lard, were heavy smokers and drinkers, were fraught with obesity, and had high cholesterol diets. So they thought it might be genetics–but Rosetans in other parts of the country were not experiencing the same health benefits. Could it possibly be the geographical location? No, for the surrounding towns had death rates from heart disease that were three times higher than those in Roseto.

And then they found the answer! It was found on the street, in the backyards, in the church, and on the porches. The Rosetans’ health came from their value of community. Often you would find three generations under the same roof, where grandparents commanded a deep respect. In this small community of less than 2000 people, there were twenty-two civic organizations. Welfare was unheard of, as the wealthier helped the poor. Sunday meals after church were filled with family and friends. And without any knowledge of medical science, the families of Roseto taught us how to live, to love, and to stay healthy–simply by destroying the cancer of loneliness. In a day of fenced in yards, the removal of the front porch to the back, satellite dishes and closed doors, the Rosetan’s have reminded us of God’s earliest counsel to man–simply, it is not good for man to be alone.

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beating of Our Heart

Sometimes, the smallest part of a machine can have the greatest significance. The Lord’s brother James understood this. He tells us in the third chapter of his letter that though large ships are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it too has the greatest influence in our lives-for good or bad.

For years my son Jonathan was parented by my voice. There were chores to do, actions to be corrected, lights to turn off (it bugged me if they left a room and left the lights on!), devotions to listen to and the list is quite endless. Now that I look back, looking through a different set of eyes, it doesn’t sound very fun to be a child. Trying to cultivate a work ethic, with good intentions, I placed responsibility above relationship-which always leads to frustration.

Then one day I came across Isaiah 40:11-“He tends his flock like a shepherd, he gathers the lambs in his arms, he carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those who have young.”

I read it again and again. My eyes were opening for the very first time to the needs of Jonathan’s heart. It was right there in black and white. Allow me to explain by first asking a question. Have you ever seen a picture of a shepherd carrying a lamb? Where does he carry the lamb? Correct-on his shoulders. But no shepherd that knows anything about lambs will ever carry a lamb on his shoulders. They are simply too afraid up there.

Isaiah teaches us that the shepherd carries the lamb in his arms close to his heart. Why? Because there, the lamb can hear the beating of the shepherd’s heart. That is what my son was longing for, but instead he heard the beating of my voice. It’s time, mom and dad, to silence our words and open our hearts as we draw our children close to let them hear the beating of our heart. A caring hug may be a good first step.

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

100% Cure for Heart Disease

They just weren’t dying!

Ten men and one boy from a rural community south of Rome set sail for New York in 1882. They were known as the Rosetans and they were looking for the land of opportunity. Once they landed in America, they traveled ninety miles east and found work at slate quarry near Bangor, Pennsylvania. Before long, fifteen more set sail and joined them. Word soon traveled back to Roseto about the promise of the new land, and a stream of Rosetans turned into a flood.

Land was purchased, stone houses built, and a community established–much like the one back in Italy. If you were to walk down the streets of Roseto four decades later, you would mainly hear Italian spoken in this self-sufficient, vibrant, and hard-working community.

All was well–actually, too well for the medical community. The people weren’t dying like the rest of Americans. In fact, during the 1950’s, when heart attacks were an epidemic in the US, they were rare among the Rosetans. In fact, none under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease.

So the medical community began to research this unusual phenomenon, today known as the Roseto Effect. They thought it might be the foods these people ate, but the Rosetans ate lard, were heavy smokers and drinkers, were fraught with obesity, and had high cholesterol diets. So they thought it might be genetics–but Rosetans in other parts of the country were not experiencing the same health benefits. Could it possibly be the geographical location? No, for the surrounding towns had death rates from heart disease that were three times higher than those in Roseto.

And then they found the answer! It was found on the street, in the backyards, in the church, and on the porches. The Rosetans’ health came from their value of community. Often you would find three generations under the same roof, where grandparents commanded a deep respect. In this small community of less than 2000 people, there were twenty-two civic organizations. Welfare was unheard of, as the wealthier helped the poor. Sunday meals after church were filled with family and friends. And without any knowledge of medical science, the families of Roseto taught us how to live, to love, and to stay healthy–simply by destroying the cancer of loneliness. In a day of fenced in yards, the removal of the front porch to the back, satellite dishes and closed doors, the Rosetan’s have reminded us of God’s earliest counsel to man–simply, it is not good for man to be alone.

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 4:19 am  Leave a Comment