Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2017

Conflict between the North American colonies and England was already a year old when a Continental Congress was convened in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7th session in the Pennsylvania State House (later named Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence. On June 11th, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of the colonies seven to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the case of the colonies for independence. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Thomas Jefferson, and on July 4th the Declaration was adopted. Today the original copy of this historic document is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The principles on which our nation was founded are unique. The goal of those early colonial leaders was to establish a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The long term preservation of those principles has required, and continues to require, the vigilant dedication of our citizens, and especially of our elected leaders. Otherwise, they could easily be ignored, drastically changed, or lost.

Originally our leaders were citizen legislators; today we have lifetime politicians. Promises made often become promises forgotten. Leaders in both political parties share the blame for this. Elected legislators determined to have their own way are numerous; statesmen willing to work with others to solve our nation’s problems are becoming less numerous. Listening to others who have a different point of view has become a lost art. Lobbyists outnumber legislators by many to one. Money and power are on the throne.

For 241 years our nation’s greatness has rested upon our faith in God and our fervor to do His will. The important questions for Americans now are these: Will we continue to remember and honor our heritage? Will we forget that we were founded as a nation under God? What must we do to keep this from happening?

In 1829 a prayer room was established in the U.S. Capitol building. This non-denominational room is a place where members of Congress can pray and meditate. It is located off the rotunda under the great dome. The room is dominated by a stained glass window of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. Beneath it is an altar of white oak on which stands an open Bible. It is off limits to the public.

In 1921 the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier was established. On it is inscribed, “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known Only to God.” The House and Senate have a full-time chaplain. Each session of Congress is opened with prayer. One wonders if that will one day cease.

Dark clouds currently loom on the world’s horizon. It is not a time for mindless divisions to exist among our citizenship and elected leaders that can easily cause widespread anarchy. Join me in praying for our nation – and especially for our elected leaders. May we as a people never forget or cease to believe the truth found in Proverbs 14:34 – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Humor has long been a time-honored way to deal with conflict between husbands and wives. Dr. I.E. Gates, former president of Wayland Baptist College, tells the story of a blackmailer who sent a letter to a man which said, “If you do not place $50,000 in a hollow stump (naming the location of the stump) by 6 o’clock tomorrow afternoon, I am going to kidnap your wife.”

The husband was not able to raise $50,000 that quickly, so he wrote on the bottom of the ransom note a message and put it in the stump where the kidnapper told him to put the money. It said, “Dear kidnapper: I haven’t been able to raise the $50,000 as you requested, but your proposition interests me.” He apparently didn’t have an idyllic marriage.

A different kind of story involves a young bride and groom who visited an older couple as they were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. “Fifty years!” one of them exclaimed. “That is a long time to be married to one person.” The old gentleman looked over at his wife with love showing in his eyes and said, “It would have been a lot longer without her.” What a tremendous testimony! It describes what God designed a marriage to be.

The goal of every husband and wife should be to have a happy marriage. We were not created by God to be alone. Biologically, emotionally, and spiritually we were created to reach out to one another. God’s design for the marriage relationship is that we experience ecstasy, not agony. This is clearly taught in the Genesis account of creation when God saw that Adam was lonely and created Eve to become his companion.

According to the Bible, marriage is for a man the permanent union with one woman involving the procreation and education of children, the provision of a home, and the constant care for the spiritual and material welfare of his household. For the woman, marriage is ideally an indissoluble union with one man involving the birth and education of children, homemaking, and housekeeping (and many today choose a career outside the home).

Since marriage is a serious relationship, it naturally follows that the same rules govern its success as govern the success of other careers: adequate preparation, intelligent earnestness, persistent industry, and the will to succeed. Marriage demands all of these plus the anointed strength of genuine love. To have ecstasy, not agony, in your marriage, you must have four very important things:

COMPASSION: There are few things as sad as a husband and wife who have lived together for fifty years and have lost their ability to feel compassion for one another. Also, there are few things, if any, more special than seeing a husband and wife live together for half a century or more whose hearts still beat rapidly in each other’s presence.

COMMITMENT: Jesus, during the days of His flesh, personified the grace of God lived out in love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Knowing that about Him, we should view all our relationships – especially marriage – with the utmost seriousness. Marriage is not for children, but for adults who love one another, and who genuinely care for one another. Marriages may be made in heaven, but God puts both husband and wife in charge of the maintenance here on earth.

COMMUNICATION: It has been said that some women become widows on their wedding day, and it is true. The biggest complaint women have about their husbands is in the area of communication. One man said to a friend: “My wife says that I don’t listen to her. At least, I think that is what she said.” Guys, does this describe you?

COOPERATION: The Genesis account of creation does not say that God saw Adam’s loneliness and gave him a servant, or a slave, or a pet. The Living Bible puts it this way: “A companion for him, a helper suited for his needs.” If you have these “four big C’s” in your marriage, they add up to the most important “C” of all – “Christlikeness.”

 

Read Full Post »

The pages of the New Testament are literally punctuated with promises. Many of these promises come from Jesus Himself. One of the most fantastic promises in the entire Bible is found in John 14:12. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Wow! What a breathtaking promise! If that is even remotely possible, then most Christians, if not all of us, will have to acknowledge that we have not taken Jesus very seriously. If we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we are satisfied with far less than Jesus had in mind for us.

One of my favorite comic strip theologians is Snoopy, that hound of heaven. In one of the installments he boldly declares, “Woodstock is going to be a great eagle.” Then in the next frame, he says, “He is going to soar thousands of feet above the ground.” Woodstock takes off into the air, and as Snoopy looks up, he sees the bird upside down, whirling around crazily. At this point he has second thoughts, and says, “Well, maybe hundreds of feet above the ground.” Immediately Woodstock falls to the ground and lies there on his back, looking dazed. Finally, Snoopy concludes, “Maybe he will just be an eagle that walks around.”

How like Snoopy most of us are. How quickly we settle for much less than what is promised and not nearly as much as is possible! Perhaps you have heard the story of an elderly bachelor and an old maid who started dating. Each had lived alone for many years, but gradually the old gentleman developed a strong attachment to his friend. He was shy, though, and afraid to tell her his feelings. Finally one day he mustered up the courage and blurted out, “Let’s get married!” Surprised, she threw her hands up in the air and shouted, “It is a wonderful idea – but who in the world would have us?”

What John 14:12 and the two stories about Snoopy and Woodstock and the elderly couple are saying to us is that we can do a lot more than we normally might think is possible – that is, if we would only believe. The psalmist has a word for us at this point: “When I consider the heavens, and the work of your (God’s) 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? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:3-5).

If you will add this word from the psalmist to what Jesus said about us doing greater things than He did in the days of His flesh, you will begin to see just how important you are to God. There is no other individual in the entire world precisely like you. You are a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God. Not to believe this is to commit the sin of unbelief that will cause you to be less, and to do less, than Jesus said is possible.

You are important to God. You can believe that on the authority of God. It’s in the Book! Never forget that Jesus said, “Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Father noticing it, and you are of more value than many sparrows.” He went even further than that in pointing out that even the hairs on your head are numbered. This is just one of the ways that God says you are important to Him. And that you can do much greater things than you ever thought or dreamed possible – if you let Him live in you and work through you.

The apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The secret of doing great things is to let Christ live in you and work through you. It is God’s promise to you – but only if you will believe it, and claim it. The next move is yours.

Read Full Post »

Morbus Sabbaticus, or Sunday Sickness, is a disease that afflicts church members only. No symptoms are felt on Saturday night. Those who are affected sleep well and awake feeling well on Sunday morning and eat a hearty breakfast. Then in the neighborhood of 8:00 o’clock the symptoms of the disease show up and continue until just after noon. Those who were affected feel much better and eat a hearty lunch.

Following lunch they feel even better and are able to read the Sunday newspaper, take a walk, ride in an automobile to visit friends or members of their family, play eighteen holes of golf, or even go to the mall to do a little shopping for some things that are needed.

Few churches have Sunday evening worship services any more, but most of the members of those that do, especially those who had a case of Sunday Sickness that morning, begin feeling the symptoms again around 6:00 o’clock and don’t attend. However, knowing they have to go to work the following morning, they eat a hearty dinner, retire early, sleep well, and awake feeling refreshed and are able to go to work. They feel no further symptoms of Sunday Sickness – that is, until the next Sunday morning.

The peculiar features of Morbus Sabbaticus are as follows:

  1. Only church members are affected by it.
  2. It makes its appearance only on Sunday.
  3. The symptoms vary, but never interfere with the appetite or sleep.
  4. It never lasts more than a few hours.
  5. It generally afflicts the head of the family first and continues to spread until every member of the family is affected.
  6. No physician is ever called – or even needed.
  7. It adversely affects the spiritual growth of those who catch it.
  8. There is only one remedy known — sincere repentance.
  9. Total commitment to Jesus Christ is the only antidote.

On an average Sunday in most churches the attendance for worship will be somewhere around fifty percent – perhaps a little higher, but often lower. There are given Sundays when any church member will have a legitimate reason for not attending worship. But it is when skipping church becomes a prolonged habit that it becomes a problem for both the church member and for his or her church. The most expensive piece of furniture in any church is an empty pew.

One thing every church member can do for his or her church is to pray that the messages being preached from the pulpit will contain the gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. When the good news of Christ is preached and believed, three things happen: (1) genuine worship is given high priority, (2) believers will be nourished, and (3) sinners will be born again on a regular basis.

The wife of a pastor once challenged her husband to have in his mind every time he steps into the pulpit: (1) be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and (2) think of the ad for a new washing machine she had seen in the newspaper which said, “After it spins dry, it shuts itself off.” It is excellent advice to every preacher!

 

Read Full Post »

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We have all heard this statement many times. Perhaps many people believe it is true – but it is not true! Words are very powerful and, if used thoughtlessly and maliciously, can do great harm.

The ability to speak words is a gift from God. No other creature was given this ability. Words have the ability to build up or to tear down, to bless or to curse, to bring healing or to open wounds. We can speak kind words or bitter hateful words. Have you ever heard someone say, “I say what I think?” There are times when inappropriate words should not be said; there are times when appropriate words are needed and helpful.

Proverbs 17:27 tells us “the intelligent person restrains his words.” And Proverbs 26:20 reminds us that “without gossip conflict dies down.” This verse should appear on some church bulletins. The book of James tells used that we put a bit in the mouth of a horse in order to control his entire body. The implication is that if we control our tongue we can avoid both inflicting a lot of pain and causing needless discord. Who has not at one time or another articulated words they wish had not been spoken? I know have.

I recently read the story of a woman who had kept her church and community in an uproar with her gossip. At her funeral it was a dark and stormy day, and the lights were on in the chapel. In the middle of the pastor’s eulogy a powerful bolt of lightning struck nearby that shook the building and the lights went out. The pastor stopped talking and, in the sudden stillness, a voice from the back of the chapel said, “She got there!

There are times when your greatest accomplishment will be just keeping your mouth shut. Knowing the potential for the damage loose talk can cause, an anonymous author penned these lines:

“I’m careful of the words I say,
I keep them soft and sweet.
I never know from day to day
Which ones I’ll have to eat.”

Spoken words, either positive or negative, have a profound effect on us. Perhaps the saddest words in the English language are, “I don’t love you anymore.” I heard a lady in her eighties in one of my former pastorates say to her closest friend, “If you don’t love me, don’t tell me, because I couldn’t bear to hear it.”

A woman in Louisiana wrote after her husband died: “The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall. He would say ‘hello,’ but we never touched at all. He was good at business, but there was business left to do. He never said he loved me – I guess he thought I knew.” If there are kind or loving words you need to say to someone, don’t delay. It is possible to wait until you will never again have the opportunity.

The important question each of us needs to ask ourselves is this: “How can I eliminate words from my conversation that have the capacity to wound others?” For example, we could eliminate words like: “You disappoint me” – “You will never amount to anything” – “You are always late” – “You are just like your father”.

Let us learn to speak kind words. We will never regret them, and their echoes are endless.

 

Read Full Post »