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Dr. James Dobson in his book, “What wives wish their husbands knew about women,” shares a class theme written by a third grade girl entitled: “What is a grandmother?” It is a classic for sheer wisdom and utter simplicity:

“A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own. She likes other people’s little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys and they talk about fishing and stuff like that.

“Grandmothers don’t have anything to do except to be there. They’re old so they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have a lot of dimes ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They should never say ‘Hurry up.’

“Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off. They don’t have to be smart, only answer questions like, ‘Why isn’t God married?’ and ‘How come dogs chase cats?’

“Grandmothers don’t talk baby talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don’t skip or mind if it is the same story over again. Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grown-ups who have time.”

Children tend to see others without all the veneer adults build into and around human relationships. The third grade girl’s theme about grandmothers gives us the opportunity to express our appreciation for this very special group of people and the role they play. Any woman who endures the training period of being a mother long enough to have grandchildren has earned the right to be a card carrying grandmother.

Though God has given to grandmothers a special sphere of influence within families, the word “grandmother” is mentioned only once in the Bible. Paul, in writing to Timothy, said, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy’s grandmother was the first member of his family won to Christ. She shared her faith with her daughter, Eunice. Eunice passed it on down the line to her son, Timothy. It is the way God wants Christian families to function.

Perhaps you have (or had) a grandmother like Lois who has (or had) the kind of impact on your family that Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, had on her family. Your grandmother perhaps wears (or wore) glasses and funny underwear and takes (or took) her teeth and gums out at night. But to a significant degree you are the person you are because your grandmother started the ball of positive influence rolling in your family.

A grandmother has been described as a person who comes to your house, spoils your children, and goes home. They have a lot of fun doing it. One grandmother several years ago said to me, “If I had known having grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them before I had my children.” God’s plan of growing grandmothers up through the joys and hazards of motherhood is a vastly better idea.

Only a woman whom God has trained to become a good mother has the experience and ability to be an effective grandmother. Please join me in thanking God for all dedicated grandmothers!

 

Resentment between church members is just one of the problems with which Christian ministers have to grapple if they are to successfully lead the church they serve to fulfill its divinely assigned mission. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines resentment as “a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.”

Resentful people, of course, can be found in every walk of life. They work in the office where you are employed. They are members of your civic club, sing next to you in the church choir, and sit on a church pew in close proximity to where you sit. They come in all sizes and shapes and are not limited to a single age group. They can even be, and often are, members of your own family.

When something is said or done within a marriage that leads to resentment, it creates misery for every member of that family. I recently saw a true-to-life cartoon of a couple who had gone to a marriage counselor seeking guidance. The wife said to the counselor, “And you would never guess what he did on our honeymoon twenty-one years ago?” Can you imagine how much suffering an entire family would endure when resentment is allowed to metastasize for twenty-one years?

Persons whose minds are poisoned by resentment live in a dark world ruled by suspicion and distrust. They thrive on negativity because they believe they have been victimized. They experience little joy because they look at life through dark glasses.

Resentment is generally accompanied by two other counterproductive attitudes:

Initially, it gives birth to an attitude of hostility. This generally leads to criticism of others and possibly even to acts of aggression. Hostility directed inward can lead a person to have thoughts of suicide. Hostile people vacillate between depression and anger. They can cause any person who happens to be in their vicinity to have a most unpleasant day.

Resentment also gives birth to anxiety. Those who are anxious tend to worry about problems – even those they have never had and will likely never have. Every day they find something to be angry or anxious about or someone to be resentful toward. They live in a prison that they themselves have built brick by brick, and they don’t even know it. They need to learn that anxiety never robs tomorrow of its problems or sorrows; it only saps today of its strength and joy.

If your life is dominated by a spirit of resentment, God’s Word says there are at least four things you can do to be released from it:

First, you must admit you are resentful. You will never be able to change and be freed from what you refuse to admit and confront. Those who make excuses for their irrational behavior will continue to behave irrationally. Resentment that is nurtured continues to grow.

Second, go to the person who offended you and be reconciled. If you have allowed something to build a wall between you and a member of your family, or between you and someone in your church family, or between you and a friend where you work – go to the person who offended you and make an earnest effort to be reconciled. “If you will not forgive another of their offense toward you, God cannot forgive your offense toward Him” (Matthew 6:12).

Third, call a halt to your pity party. Stop blaming your mother or father or someone else for the problems you have. No matter what has happened in the past to cause difficulty in your life, you alone make the choices that affect your life. Choices, whether positive or negative in nature, have consequences – every single one of them! You are today what you decided yesterday to become. What you decide today will determine your attitude the rest of today and what you become tomorrow. In other words, you are as happy or as miserable as you choose to be. Stop playing the blame game.

Fourth, ask God to strengthen and guide your attitudes and actions. I’ve tried it, and it works! If you will do these four things and not look back, you will never regret it.

 

Psalm 8 is a song written by David. Recently during a time of Bible study and prayer the words of this psalm literally jumped off the page at me. My curiosity was initially aroused by these words prior to the beginning of verse 1: “For the director of music. According to the gittith tune”. David wanted Psalm 8 to be sung using the gittith tune. I am not a musician, but I strongly suspect that David wanted Psalm 8 to be sung in a majestic way – a way that would require the use of trumpets and perhaps a set of two or three kettledrums.

I can imagine the cacophony of the symphony as it warms up while people begin to take their seats. The conductor taps his baton, and they strike up a note of majestic praise: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (8:1). In this first stanza the choir bellows out the greatness of God, the God who has displayed His splendor above the heavens.

While those singing were concentrating on God’s greatness, the second stanza begins: All of a sudden the psalmist threw out this wild idea, this awesome humbling thought: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (8:3-4).

The psalmist wants us to know that God not only created us, but that He placed us in a position over all of His creation. What a powerful thought! The God who created everything thinks highly of us! In fact, He loves us! What a tremendous Psalm! The idea is that God not only made us, but that He loves us! Wow!

Dr. Mike Graves, Assistant Professor of Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, in one of his articles tells the story of a little orphan girl named April who was placed in one home after another, and that in each of them she was so abused that she began to withdraw into her own dream world. Experts began to suspect retardation or autism. April finally ended up in an older couple’s home with well over a dozen other children. The couple had only taken her in for the financial assistance which the government provided. They were hard on her, but they were cruel to all the children.

April’s fantasy world was one in which she found joy in her songs. She pretended to have a family and friends, and she would write down the words to her songs and pretend to mail them. The lady caught her one day humming and writing and warned her to never write down her songs again. Someone might read them and take her away. This could mean that she and her husband would lose the government money.

After she had scolded April, she went out into the hall and waited to see if she would disobey. April began to hum and write again, only this time she took the song she had scribbled and went down the stairs, out the door, and over to her favorite tree. She climbed up in the tree and placed the piece of paper on which she had written between two crossed branches. Later that day the lady told her husband to take the ladder, climb up into the tree, and get the piece of paper on which April had written. He retrieved it, brought it back to his wife and said, “You’d better read this.” This is what April had written: “Whoever finds this – I love you.”

Two thousand years ago outside the ancient city of Jerusalem, between two crossed branches, God demonstrated how far He would go to demonstrate His love for you and me. What this means is that whoever we are, no matter how many sins we have committed, or how dark those sins may be, the God who created us, and knows us better than anyone, genuinely cares for us individually.

If you are not a Christian, you need to know that the God who set His glory above the heavens wrote a song just for you. The song begins with these words: “Whoever finds this – I love you!”

 

One of the first lessons in Junior High English class involves the conjugation of the verb “am.” It begins with “I AM” (an important realization). Then comes “you ARE” (that is important also). Finally, “he (or she) IS.” Notice that the emphasis is on the individual. Every person is an individual, and every individual is important – supremely so, to God!

Great crowds followed Jesus two thousand years ago, but He always found in any crowd the individual who had a special need – and He met that need. Study the life of Jesus – His words, His actions, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension – and in every instance you see Him affirming the worth of every individual person in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. It is only in the eyes of God who created us that we, as individuals, have abiding significance.

One does not need to read a psychology book to know that every human has a fundamental need to be needed, to belong, and to have significance. It is when nothing matters that people commit suicide or withdraw from life into the dark closet of depression. One of the problems humans face in our world is to have a low self-image. Such persons need to study God’s Word so they can learn to say “I AM – I am important, I am of value, and I am unique.”

Many trends in contemporary thought conspire to annihilate belief in the value of human personality. There is, for example, the voice of science. Astronomy has opened our eyes to the vastness of the universe within which is set the orbit of our lives. Distance is measured not in terms of miles, but in terms of light years. The mind reels at the thought of a universe so vast. And biologists tell us that the human body is composed of a small list of chemical elements which are easily obtainable and not costly at all. Back in the 1930’s we were chemically worth about ninety cents. Today, with the influence of inflation, chemically we might be worth $29.98, or perhaps $14.95 on a post-Christmas sale.

The value of the individual would also be low economically. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song, “Sixteen Tons”, expressed a person’s value who worked in the coal mines by singing: “You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt.” During the Great Depression, with no work available, individuals lost a sense of importance from an economic point of view. In time of war individuals are regarded to be “cannon fodder.” It is from Jesus Christ that we learn the value of the individual. Said He, “Whoever (individually) believes in me shall have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

In the seventeenth century a refugee scholar named Muretus was in exile from his own land of France. He became ill, and was picked up and taken to the hospital, apparently unconscious. He was examined by a learned physician who discussed his symptoms in Latin, not thinking that Muretus would be able to understand, for he seemed to be only a wandering beggar. “Let us try and experiment on this worthless creature,” one doctor said to another, still speaking in Latin. Muretus both heard and understood. He opened his eyes and replied in Latin, “Do you call him worthless for whom Christ did not scorn to die?” He knew how valuable he was in the eyes of God.

If the entire Bible were reduced to a single sentence, this is what it would say: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever (individually) believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NIV). Jesus, in one of His parables, tells of a shepherd who had one hundred sheep, but one of them was lost. “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:4-5). That is how valuable every person is to God.

It is only when you look at Calvary’s cross that, no matter how black or numerous your sins may be, you will be able to see just how valuable you are, and can say, “He loved ME . . . and gave Himself for ME. Therefore, I will arise and go to Jesus . . . for there . . . in His presence . . . I can know that I am valuable . . . and that I am becoming . . .”

 

 

 

It is the responsibility of every Christian is to be Christ’s ambassador (II Corinthians 5:20). No one ever had a more important task. If that be true – and I believe it is – then it is necessary that we know who Christ is.

Caiaphas, the high priest demonstrated what he thought of Jesus by becoming the cheerleader for a lawless mob that cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The unscrupulous moneychangers who were using the Temple courts for the purpose of selling merchandise said, “This man is going to hurt our business. Obviously He has to go.” The enemies of Jesus knew that if His influence continued to increase, their influence would diminish.

The friends of Jesus had a far different view of who He was. John the Baptist looked up one day while preaching to see Jesus coming in the distance and said, “Look, it is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). John the disciple, having been closely associated with Him for three years or more, described Him as “The Word made flesh, who has made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Andrew, having met Jesus, ran to tell his brother, Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Philip, having walked a short distance with Christ, ran to Nathaniel and said, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets spoke” (John 1:45).

When Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Who do men say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). When the woman at the well in Samaria met Jesus, she ran back into the village and said, “Come, for I want you to see a man who told me all the things that I ever did: could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). The soldiers who were sent to arrest Jesus returned empty-handed, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). Pilate, the Roman prefect, said, “I find no fault with this man” (Luke 23:4). The Roman soldier who supervised the crucifixion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).

The deep spiritual needs of your life will not be fully met until you ask and satisfactorily answer this question, “What do I believe about Jesus Christ?” The following is what I believe:

  • Christ lived in the context of history. He is not the fruit of human imagination, or a creature of fiction, or the projection of human desires. Jewish and Roman historians mentioned Him, and those records are still extant. On no other ground can we account for the division of history into B.C. and A.D., for the existence of the New Testament, or for the existence of the early church.
  • Christ lived as a human. He was born. He grew. He ate and drank and slept. He lived in the context of a human family. He experienced hunger and thirst. He knew what it was to be lonely, become exhausted, and experience pain. He walked with people, talked with them, touched them, and they talked with Him and touched Him. He wept as others weep. He worked as others work.
  • Christ was more than human. He was God incarnate. I need a Savior, not just a good teacher or a worthy example. I need someone who has the power to cleanse me of sin and provide the assurance of life beyond death. If Christ is only a philosopher like Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates, then I can afford to be indifferent toward Him. But if Christ is God incarnate, God come to save us, it is only logical that I take Him seriously.

If Jesus were only a man, then we can turn our churches into lodge halls, civic clubs, or classrooms. If He were only a man we would be idolaters. We could throw away our hymnbooks that speak of His deity, and delete from our libraries all of the books that proclaim Him to be the divine Redeemer.

Because He was both God and man, the God-man, I can join the Apostle Paul in saying, “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

 

Every now and then I have what I believe to be a brilliant idea! I am not trying to impress anybody with my brilliance, or even take credit for the idea I would like to share. I believe God gave me the idea.

The idea is this: Why not challenge your church to organize an adoption agency? “An adoption agency in a church?” you ask. “I have never heard of such a thing! Surely you can’t be serious.”

But I am! And if you will stay with me until you have heard how to implement the idea, I believe you will share my enthusiasm. The individuals I would like to challenge your church to adopt are not infants or young children. The majority of them are well beyond sixty-five years of age, and they reside in nursing homes.

In many nursing homes – sometimes called retirement facilities – there are men and women whose family lives too far away to visit them on a regular basis. The family members of other residents live nearby but do not visit them regularly. Loneliness dominates their lives. Each twenty-four hour day seems interminable in length. Nothing new happens. They just sit there . . . or lie in bed day after day after day.

The physical and health needs of most nursing home residents are well cared for by nurses and other staff members. Those who are regularly visited are blessed and generally are happy. But those who are seldom or never visited – by members of their family or by members of their church – are deprived of meaningful conversation and spiritual care. Why not organize an adoption agency in your church and adopt them? If you will do that, you will be meeting genuine spiritual and emotional need.

Here is how your church’s adoption agency could work: (1) Visit the nursing homes near your church, ask the management personnel for the names of those who receive few or no visits from family; (2) Ask as many Sunday School classes as you have residents who would benefit from being visited to adopt one of them; (3) Visit them on a regular basis – especially on their birthdays, at Easter, and during Christmas holidays.

If each class will share friendly conversation periodically with their adoptee, find out if there are specific needs that can be met, encourage them in any way possible, and especially share the love of Christ with them, what a blessing it would be to the adoptee – and to your Sunday School Class members as well.

The joy you can create, the smiles you will generate, the friendships you can initiate, the needs you can meet – all these are at the heart of what it means to minister in Christ’s name and for His glory. If your church has a church staff member or a committee whose responsibility is to meet the needs of senior adults, they could spearhead this ministry. Each Sunday School class could add its adoptee to its class roll.

Go regularly to visit and to share. Listen to his or her needs. On Sunday morning or in the class meetings (if your class has class meetings) a brief report could be given by the person or persons who have visited your adoptee. I promise you that the time you give and the money you invest will be worth more to you than all the gold in Fort. Knox. You can’t take the gold in Ft. Knox to heaven with you, but you can take what you have done in Christ’s name to minister to lonely individuals in a nearby nursing home.

Remember this: Jesus said that visiting someone in prison (and we can add nursing homes) is the same thing as visiting Him (Matthew 25:40). Why not organize the “(your church’s name) Adoption Agency?”

 

He had everything! At least that is what his friends thought.

He wore his rubber boots when it rained. In extreme cold weather he put on plenty of clothes to protect himself from unnecessary exposure. He knew that if he were not adequately dressed it would be easy to catch a cold, and this could turn into pneumonia.

His family doctor examined him twice a year, and every kind of specialist was readily available in the event anything showed up in a test that his family doctor thought could cause a problem. He brushed his teeth regularly with a nationally recognized brand of toothpaste that contained a secret ingredient – don’t they all? He even took time to use dental floss daily. He had relinquished his tonsils when he was thirteen, and his appendix was removed when he was a sophomore in college.

He slept with the window of his bedroom slightly ajar every night so there would be plenty of fresh air available to breathe. He watched his diet carefully, always eating plenty of fresh vegetables and citrus fruits. He avoided foods that could cause his cholesterol level to rise like a rocket. He avoided eating junk food, and the few fried foods he ate were cooked in oil that was poly-unsaturated (whatever that means).

He golfed once a week – but never more than eighteen holes on a given day. In addition, he belonged to two health clubs where regular exercise strengthened his cardio-vascular system and his muscles were kept in tone. He was careful to get at least eight hours of sleep every night.

He never smoked tobacco, never used alcohol in any form, and never lost his temper. He was determined to avoid the problems that are caused by living a life of dissipation, for he had seen this happen to some of his friends. His blood pressure, unlike many men his age, constantly stayed at a healthy level, and he never lacked the energy to live an active life.

He had a fine wife and three lovely children. He had a very responsible job, and was recognized as a man of stature and influence in his community. Every summer he and his family spent a week, and sometimes two weeks, at the beach or in the mountains on vacation. His neighbors envied him in many ways, for he seemed to have everything. He was all set to live until his hundredth birthday.

His funeral will be next Monday! He is survived by his wife and three lovely children, one brother, two sisters, several nieces and nephews, his family doctor, several specialists, two health clubs, four golf courses, one fishing boat, and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics.

His one mistake? He forgot to include God in his life. He was involved in so many things that he did not have any time left for God. He had a family that loved him and numerous friends who would have done anything he asked them to do. He did a lot of things right in his life. He had a lot going for him. But he is now with those who say, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).

You don’t have to leave God out of your life. You can make time for Him – but you must consciously choose to do that. And you must follow through. Otherwise, the time will come when it will be too late.

Give it some serious thought! You don’t have to make life’s biggest mistake!

 

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