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The Moral of the Story

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From time to time, we hear an interesting story that is told so that we may learn something more. Do you remember the fable about the boy who cried wolf? Perhaps it is more than a simple story about the harm in speaking lies.

BoyWolfSome time ago, a young shepherd just into his teens was given the care of a small flock by his father, so that he may learn the responsibility that comes with becoming a man. Along with Rusty, the best sheep dog and friend ever born, he felt prepared for anything the farm could throw at them. Except maybe for the endless bleating of sheep and the boredom that comes with them. Boredom often gives birth to trickery and pranks.

Wolf, there is a wolf in the paddock!”, the young man cries as he hides behind a particularly lazy and fat ewe, snickering. Seconds later his father and older brothers sprint into the field breathing hard, bows at the ready. Caught up in the excitement, Rusty runs around them playing and barking at their antics. Needless to say, the conversation at the supper table that night was one for the record books. This only calmed things down for a short while however, until boredom set in again a few days later.

“I have got to think of something better,” he murmured to himself one hot afternoon, “they won’t fall for it a third time.” Rusty’s ears suddenly shot forward as a growl was ripped from his throat. Streaking off like a shot, he angled toward the woods and the large grey wolf standing at the forest edge. Terrified, panicking, the young man screamed and ran for his father. With Rusty barking in the background, his brothers shake their heads and refuse to be fooled yet again. This time however, the young mans cries for help are punctuated by a fierce growl and horrific yelp. “Rusty!”, the boy screams and runs back toward the terrified sheep.

Suddenly realizing that this is not just another prank, the older men grab their bows at a sprint toward the sounds of fighting. They arrive just in time to witness a young lamb being drug into the forest by a hulking grey form. Eyes turning to their brother, they see him in the middle of the field on his knees, holding a whimpering mass of fur and loyalty. Tears flowed as Rusty drew in a last breath. With horror overwhelming him, the young shepherd looked to his father  and sobbed…”I was too late to save him.”

 Most people will tell you that this is a tragic lesson about the harm that lies can cause. You know what? They are right, but there is more as well. You see, to the Children of God, this old story is not only about lying and integrity; it is also about the need for repentance!  How would this story have changed if this young man had changed his mind and actions because he felt true sorrow the first time he lied? How would our lives be different if we learned the same lesson? Think about it.

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13.3)

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Enemies of God

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recognize-and-stand-with-truthHumanism, postmodernism, and the ‘emergent church’ are all false doctrines who are enemies of God. Unfortunately, all of these doctrines weave enough truth in them so that they may seem innocent to unsuspecting Christians.

Humanism allows that there may be a god, but denies His deity and inspiration of the Bible. Oh yes, and Jesus was just a good man in its eyes. While we are at it, since God is in question, so are the certainties of heaven and hell. This sounds good for many people; after all, hell seems like such a bad place.

The ‘emergent church’ questions the belief that there are absolute rights and wrongs. Moral values depend on the situation and the generation you belong in. Absolutes are stodgy,  ‘old fashioned’ and create boundaries for our actions that cause one to be responsible for their actions..

All of these doctrines blur the lines of distinctive male and female roles in creation. After all, if there are no definite lines then women can preach in worship services, wives can rule their husbands, and homosexuality is approved by God.

These beliefs generally have no issue with smoking or drinking, and sexual freedom is a given. Ignored are God’s commands and wishes concerning sexual behavior including premarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism and incest.

I know most Christians who read this article so far are kind of saying, ‘well…duh’ in their heads. “Of course God has something to say about these things.” The sad thing is this, many of those same people believe that God’s commands are not really commands; they treat them more like guide lines.

We are losing the ability to interpret the Bible in a way which is right and true. We are questioning God by asking, “Is there such a thing as absolute truth?” We are eroding our faith by associating with the world yet denying that we are doing so.

Christians…wake up! Empty yourself of pride and fill up again with the heart of a servant.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14.23-24)

It is time for God’s people to get back to “thus says the Lord” and get away from, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Think about it.

A Good Conversation

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ImageA few years ago a movie hit the big screen, The Last Samurai. If you saw that movie you may remember a scene where Captain Algren and Katsumoto Moritsugu exchange names. To Algren’s chagrin, Katsumoto declares that they had a “good conversation.” I was reminded of this scene after seeing a post on the Heart Prints blog by Missie Jenkins, (http://lissalomo.tumblr.com/post/30971919319/have-a-conversation); which led me to this…

Missie wrote:

Have a conversation….. tonight- do everything you can to have a conversation…. let the conversation be worthwhile and happy and full.  Let it be something that is honest and serious and deep and yet fun and peaceful and joyful.  Have the kind of conversation that can be life changing…one that can make you feel GREAT from the inside out.  I share this with you today because I did it and want you to do it too.  Yesterday, I was kinda having a down day— I don’t know why— but at the end of my night- I spend a long time in a great, great conversation… it changed my heart- it changed my “stinkin- thinkin”- it made me feel- well, amazing.  The conversation started with me— sitting outside on my front porch in a rocking chair… all alone with just me and my Father.  I talked to Him- I cried out to Him— I begged Him for strength and for a greater faith.  I told Him there was no way I could make it through without Him.  I told Him that I knew He knew all of my secrets but that I wanted Him to hear them from me-so I confessed to Him.  Then I told Him I loved Him.  I loved Him so much that I wanted to be better and do better because of Him.  I told Him that there was nothing and no one that mattered more to me….and I meant it.  I also told Him that I would fail Him again…. but that I wanted to try, to try hard to show Him how much it meant that He had given me life— and not just life but a GREAT LIFE.  Then I took out my Bible and I read this passage— read it- I know it is probably in  your memory but read it— For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY son- so that whoever believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. — Wow.  It was something I needed to see…. it means something- it means He really really loves me. — Have a conversation.

In a time where we are pulled in what seems like a thousand directions with work, school, church activities, entertainment, and who knows what else; Missie’s reminder of what is truly important is a breath of fresh air. The bonds we have with family and with God will see us through. She was right when she said, “Wow”.

Consider how often Jesus sat with others or with God and simply had a good conversation:

Joh 6:3  And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Mar 2:15  Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.

Mat 24:3  Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Luk 19:5  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Luk 10:38  Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.

Mar 1:35  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

My friends, take a little time today; sit and be with the ones you love, with God, and simply have a good conversation…it will do wonders for your soul.

Who At The Door Is Standing

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DoorWhat a beautiful song and message this is! My soul stirs within me as we sing this hymn, and it makes me acutely aware of the Lord’s tremendous love and patience. Think about these words from the second stanza:

“All thro’ the dark hours dreary, knocking again is He; Jesus art Thou not weary, waiting so long for me?”

            Many people wait so very long before submitting to Jesus and becoming Christians. Thankfully He is enduringly patient. We, as Christians, often procrastinate in our coming back to the Lord after we have sinned. Christians and non-Christians alike lay awake at night, pricked by a guilty conscience. That’s what the song is talking about, during the dreary hours, Jesus is “knocking” on the door of our hearts and hoping we will reconcile with Him. Consider the thoughts of David as he expresses the heaviness he feels in his heart: (Psalm32:4) “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Have you ever felt as David did? What a terrible burden it is to bear, and the really horrible part is that we choose to place that burden on ourselves!

Here is the response the Lord wants in the third stanza: “Door of my heart, I hasten! Thee will I open wide; tho’ He rebuke and chasten, He shall with me abide.”

The Lord wants to abide or live with all people. Of course, He can’t abide with all people as they won’t all submit their will and ways to Him. That is the thrust of the song. He is waiting, waiting, and waiting…standing at the doorway of our heart, patiently enduring our silence, just waiting for us to open up. The refrain of the song ends with this statement: “If thou wilt heed My calling, I will abide with thee.”If” is such a small word to have so great a meaning. “If” will keep people separated from Christ. However, if we do His will, He will be with us forever. He will be with us through the good times and the times when we don’t know how we can continue. He will be there on Judgment Day and tell God that we are His and to welcome us home.

Have you let Jesus in? He is still patiently waiting outside the door of your heart. When will you let Him in or allow Him back into your life? Don’t make Him wait long as we may not be here to answer the door tomorrow.

It’s Sooo Hot

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HotWeatherSummer is here, and you know what that means…it’s going to be HOT! But if you listen to the radio, the temperature is not the only thing that is hot. There are hot deals on cars, on vacations, and a great summer sale on cell phones, but to be honest these are not the hot items I am thinking about today.

                You see, just the other day I heard a young Christian lady say…”I know, Isn’t he sooooo HOT”. Needless to say, this grabbed my attention. Turning around, I saw this young person standing with her friends looking at what I think was a picture of some popular teen celebrity on her cell phone. Yes, I know what you may be thinking. What is the big deal, they are just kids goofing off, and they don’t talk the way we used to. Perhaps, but what really disappointed me is when I saw one of the girl’s moms look at the phone, snicker, and say “Yeah, he’s pretty hot.”

                OK, to be fair, maybe I did not understand what being hot really means. So I asked. What was the answer? Being hot is good looking, cute, a babe. Years past the phrase may have been a ‘teen heartthrob’. One young lady said, “it doesn’t mean anything, it’s innocent.”

                To be honest, I was not totally convinced. The phrase “he’s hot or she’s hot” just seems more sexual than that. So I asked our good friend Google to see what other teenagers had to say. Here are some of the more prevalent answers.

  • Yup, hot to me is based on pure looks.
  • A guy that makes you want to drool when his shirt is off.
  • Curves, curves, curves.
  • One young man said, “it is a girl you would have sex with, but would not want to date.” (By the way, this comment had 341 likes, 3 dislikes).
  • One young lady said, “a hot guy is one you just have to get (into his pants) with. (She had many other girls liking her comment).

                So what does it mean? Is it simply a cute guy/girl, or is it a potential frivolous sex partner? If you search for “hot” on Google images (I do not suggest doing this without your ‘mature content’ filters set), the first several pages are pictures of people (mostly women) wearing little or no clothing.

                Young people, does it truly matter how you personally are using the word when so many others that hear it think immoral thoughts when it is said? You may use it in an innocent way, but when others hear you say ‘he is sooo hot’, do they think the same thing? Parents, if you heard a young person call your daughter or son hot, would that make you feel uncomfortable, or would it be OK if they were looked at as a sex object by others?

                I know that was a blunt question, but now is not the time to be quiet and make excuses for the words we use. No matter what your age, if you are a Christian, you represent Christ! I can’t imagine that He would have seen and young lady and said, “Whoooo man, she is sooo HOT!”  Do you?

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. –Col 4.6

Electricity Anyone?

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ImageSome people are calling the tree snapping, building throwing, electricity stopping storm we had last Friday a stroke of bad luck. Others are blaming global warming for the heat wave that started it all. A few have speculated that maybe God is trying to send us a message that He is not pleased in some way. Personally, I simply think we were in the path of a bad storm and that is all there is to it.

            Now that things are starting to get back to normal for most of the people in our area, I have to stop on this Fourth of July and say thank you.

 Thank you!

Thank you to those of you who were just as hot and miserable as everyone else yet put the needs of others before yourself.

 

Thank you for allowing people to help where they could.

 Thank you Scott, for simply organizing a meal that meant so much to everyone who was tired of munching on warm peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

 Thank you for chainsaws, even if we had to use them in 100 degree heat.

 But most of all, thank you Lord…

            …for watching over us and keeping us safe.

            …for the reminder that we are truly helpless against your power.

            …for providing for our daily needs.

            …for providing us an opportunity to serve.

            …for the fact that power does not come from the utility company, but from your hand.

            …for a freezer full of ruined food, after all it does not feed the soul anyway, your Word does.

            …for the fact that the water kept flowing, although we remember that Living Water comes from Christ.

            …for keeping our families safe, they are precious to us.

            …for your grace, your love, and your Son. In light of what He had to suffer, what we are going through is just a tiny annoyance.

 

Thank you Lord for blessing us and allowing us to be your people.

Paul Never Graduated From First Grade

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Daniel on Graduation Day

Our family was living in south Texas when my oldest two children ‘graduated’ from first grade. That’s right, I said ‘graduated’. Don’t get me wrong, I was proud of them for doing their best in school, getting good report cards, and being recognized for doing well. But there is just something about the way we reward every child in the same way, no matter how well or poorly they do that seems to totally devalue all of the hard work and praise given to them.

Do we honestly believe children are so shallow in their understanding that when we reward them all in the same manner year after year, no matter how much work they put in or what grade they receive, that they will strive to achieve even higher goals set before them? I think most kindergarteners would be happy with an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen and a great big hug from mom and dad on the last day of school, letting them know that they are proud of them. Graduation should be reserved for something really special.

The apostle Paul made similar arguments. He often described our lives on Earth to that of an athlete or a soldier. Even as children we recognize quickly that not everyone can be an Olympian and even if we could, only a few would ever win! Paul states, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (I Cor 9.24)

Do not be fooled by popular preachers who teach that to call yourself a Christian is all that is needed to get to heaven. Just believing in God is not enough, we must run the Christian race with endurance and self-control or else we will be disqualified (I Cor 9.27). Can a disqualified Olympian still receive the gold medal? What about a disqualified Christian, can they still receive a crown of life?

Judgment day is not the same as first grade graduation. Not everyone will be rewarded with a eternal crown no matter how they lived. Only those who love God, follow His example, obey His will, endure, keep their eyes straight ahead on Jesus, and press on toward the finish line will be rewarded. Paul says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ” (Php 3.14). He still keeps our eyes focused, even today, on that great prize no matter how difficult things may be. I too encourage us all to run the Christian race with patience and love for God, following in the footsteps of Jesus. In the end, the reward will be far greater than we ever imagined it would be.

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