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Archive for August, 2016

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!

 

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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.

 

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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!”

 

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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 . . .”

 

 

 

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