Thursday, June 30, 2011

No Pain
In athletics we recognize the phrase, " No pain, no gain."

We expect religion to be different. We want a religion that says love, joy and happiness for everyone. Peace and contentment are the Christian's rights, right?

In Christ, I must be complete. I need life's wounds mended. I need more tools to use. I am not what I ought to be. (I don't think I am alone.) But being complete is the product of God's work. How does He do it?

Are Christians to be consistent? Certainly. We must be stable like boulders. We don't move from the truth. We are constant. Are we, "There yet?" Is this a work of God?

Christians must be strong. Determined should be our characteristic. Must we achieve in the worst life offers? It cannot be done on our own. This is a work of God. 

Choosing to be a Christian necessitates being a foundation for others. Being established allows others to grow. If I am not established I lose, and others lose, too. How do we become this established? Could this be a work of God?

All these are God's works. When does He do them? How does He do them?

The answer Is in 1 Peter 5:10. It says, " But after you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."

When does it say He will do His work? Answer: AFTER you have suffered.

God uses suffering and pain. Through suffering, we are equipped and made what we ought to be. Opposition makes us firm and constant. Strength comes from painful exercise and practice. Foundations are made it through sweat and toil.

If your 'Christianity', or other religion, is ALL love, joy, happiness, peace, and feeling good, IT IS NOT FROM GOD. God gives all these, but only through suffering for the name of His son.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Keep Rubbing It

A couple of years ago I traveled to NW Louisiana to the home of a part-time black postal employee with a stunning blue 1997 Honda Goldwing (over which I planned to haggle).

Everything on the bike glistened. You could comb your hair using the chrome, and the blue paint sparkled. And yes, I fell victim to the bling. After an intense negotiation, his shiny bike netted him sixty-five $100 bills and me a Bill of Sale. 

Then I asked him how he KEPT EVERYTHING shiny and glistening. "I rub it. Then I rub it some more. And then I just keep rubbing it," he said with a big appreciative smile.
All smiles after the 10,000th Mile, May 9, 2011

Today, I was removing a myriad of bugs and a layer of grime from another motorcycle, my 2007 VTX1300 (above). I kept hearing my black friend say, "Rub it, and keep rubbing it." You know, now I can almost comb my locks with the shine on the chrome breather. His idea really works.

Rubbing is such a simple thing. It may be aided with chemicals to remove bugs, or polishes to increase shine, but it is the rubbing motion -- the 'wax on, wax off' -- this is the key.

And so it is with almost anything we do, especially for Jesus. The more we do simple, good things, the better we get, and the 'shinier' it is to God. 

Here our natural abilities can be used. Some of us can cook meals, while others can clean homes, mow lawns, cut logs after storms, etc. The more we do, the better we get at giving God the glory.

In the south, it is 'neighborly' to do good things. So Christians must do something extra to give God the glory. We must SAY something to our friends, and others we help, so they will be able to tell the difference.

Whatever your God-given ability is, "Rub it. Then rub it some more. And then just keep rubbing it."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Constant Reminders

Rodney loves the Lord. If the church doors are open, he is there. He is always at the hospital or nursing home. He is a big giver. But Rodney is handicapped.

Rodney has only one hand. He explained, "I have a problem with stealing. As a boy, I was a convenience store bandit. I graduated to taking nuts and bolts home from work. I made off with cans from the grocery store. No one ever knew."

"One Sunday the preacher talked about Mark 9:43. If your hands causes you to sin, cut it off. I kept denying my compulsion to steal. I always failed. I want to go to heaven! So, at my insistence, surgically I had my hand removed. I don't steal anymore."

His sin is controlled using a constant reminder!

Jeff effortlessly makes people comfortable at church. He always has a big grin and warm hand shake. He makes visitors feel relaxed immediately. And the rest of us feel important, too. Jeff is handicapped.

Jeff has one foot. I ask him, "Did you lose your foot in Operation Iraqi Freedom?" 

He hung his head. "My feet took me where I did not need to be. As a teenage boy, I ran to secret places to pitch pennies. On my 21st birthday I walked into a casino. I walked to the track for my excitement. I spent a week's check in less than 2 hours."

"I could not pay bills. My family stressed about their next meal. They had no new clothes. "

"At church, we studied Mark 9:45. I learned I was not pleasing God when I walked to the track. I've tried to quit gambling! But I continued walking where I should not go. I talked to Rodney's surgeon, and after much insistance, he took off my foot."

His sin is controlled using a constant reminder!

Ben makes the church's pantry program work. He always knows what is in the pantry. He calls selected Christians every time there is a specific product shortage. He makes food boxes for the needy. And he has evangelized many. Ben is handicapped.

Ben is a one-eyed wonder. I ask him if diabetes had ruined his eye. After a long moment, he told his story. "Women are Gods crowning creation. They should not be the target of a lust-filled eye. But everywhere I went I'd look for a woman to desire. Women with low cut blouses or short skirts maybe it easy. They are everywhere. I always suffered eye-strain headaches after a trip to the mall. Even though I knew it was wrong, I could not quit."

"Then in my daily bible reading, I came to Mark 9:47. I understood how important it was to stop lusting. But I still shop at Wal Mart. There are so many ladies there. I could not control this urge. I told my problem to a cosmetic surgeon, and he sewed my eyelid shut. That is why I wear the patch in public. God made people to be loved, not lusted."

His sin is controlled using a constant reminder!

God is serious about us controlling our desires. He reminds us with words like worm and fire, from Mark 9. He says we are to DIE to sin (Romans 6:1-6). We are to "die to sin and live to righteousness". Sin is NOT to reign in us (Romans 6:11-12). Christians continuing in sin are to be rebuked (1 Tim 5:20). We are commanded to lay aside every "encumbrance and sin" that holds us back. 

Is God commanding us to mutilate our bodies? Only if we can find no other way to control our desires. Reminders can help!

If you struggle with any sin, you may email me using this link.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So, He Knows??

Aren't sparrows are such neat birds. They bounce along the ground. They feed their young. They are harmless, cute, and lovable. 

They don't work 8 to 5, 11 to 7, or 3 to 11. They don't plant to garden. They don't pick corn, green beans, or cut hay. What is in a sparrows barn? You say you have never seen one?

Although they are delightful creatures, they have little monetary value. Jesus said five sparrows are worth only the two smallest copper coins.

Jesus used birds as an example of how transient a disciple's life is. He said birds were better than He was. They have nests, but He had no regular home.
Jesus use these creatures to reveal your value to God. 

Matthew noted sparrows don't work for a living, but God takes care of them. Did he not ask, "Are you not worth more than they?" 

Well, are you?
Although they have little monetary value, God does not forget one of them.
Will He forget you?

Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing it, He said.

So he knows???

Yeah. He knows!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fort Sieged

My wife finished a historically accurate book. This is our synopsis. It is morbidly depressing.

WARNING: This is not for the easily stunned. Some depictions are disturbing.

Enemies have it easy, according to the author. All the countryside is captured or controlled. Designated magistrates have been brazenly lynched. Arrested elderly leaders are not esteemed. The apprehended youth are heartlessly worked as slaves. "It is like we have been condemned by God," he said.

Anyone braving to exit the fort breathes their last. All the farms surrounding the fort have been raided and robbed. Everyone is voiceless about the barbarity done to our wives and teenage daughters. 

But it is no better inside the fort either. A mystifying epidemic, like the plague, is everywhere. It exterminates so many. Beside the doctor's office is a pile of people, young and old. There is no boot hill for burial. Others agonize from an unidentified torment. Survivors call it "famine fever".

And where are the attorneys? There is no one to uphold order. 

The book's author illustrates a people 'beat down'.  "My prayers are quarantined in a brick box -- never getting to heaven. I am so lost. I don't know which way to go. It feels like a bear has pounced on me, or I have been gut-shot with a double barrel shotgun. I am numb," he wrote.

"I have forgotten what happiness is," he added.

Inside our outpost, hunger dominates. The enemy is starving us into surrender. Those who came from 'back east', who often ate steak and lobster tails, are now ready to eat a horse. Many trade their treasures for vittles. A lady trades pearls for pickles. Others spend 20 bucks for bread.

Hunger controls the fate of children. Kids have no vitality. Vigor is gone. Skin is purely a bag for their bones. 

The children from wealthy political families now dig down through rubbish for something to nibble. Beggarly parents are more cruel than coyotes. Coyotes suckle their young. Parents give children zilch to drink or eat. Mothers hold their children and let them die. What do you do with your dead child? "Better to be a dead soldier than a mother about to eat her child," the author commented.

In spite of the extreme tragedy, the author asserted God's kindness. His kindness has not ceased, nor His mercy consumed. "God's grace is sufficient. The Lord is my portion. I will hope in Him."

The author characterized everyone as appearing as orphans or widows. He prayed, "God, I don't know why You have forgotten us. You have rejected us. Please put us back. Let us come back. Renew us."
You have just read a synopsis of the Book of Lamentations, set in an American fort under siege in the 1870s. It was penned by Jeremiah. It was the total of Isaiah's and Jeremiah's predictions. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah, stripped the land, raped the women, tormented the old men, exploited the young men as slaves, and starved the people into surrender. God was disciplining His people for their idolatry. The Jews experienced God's wrath.

If God treated His people like this, is it so hard to believe He will hurl people into hell for a lack of dedication to following orders from his sacrificed Son?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Doomsday Deception

The head line read,

  "When Doomsday Isn't, Believers Struggle to Cope"


May 21, 2011 at 6 pm, Mr. Camping prediction of the world's end failed. We are still here.

Other Prediction Failures
Another failed attempt in September 1994 was because of a "misunderstood key bible passage." In 1954, Dorothy Martin predicted a cataclysmic flood. The believer's were to be saved by flying saucer aliens. The Baptist preacher, William Miller, predicted October 22, 1844 would be the day Christ came again. Wrong again. 

Result of Failure
A professor of religion at Concordia University, Lorenzo DiTommeso, says groups have trouble keeping followers in line following a end-time failure. 

Another researcher observing followers of failed doomsday predictions found:
  • one-third become disillusioned, 
  • one-third become more fervant, 
  • and one-third are somewhere in between.
One researcher predicted, following Camping's latest failure, many will be "disheartened" or "terribly confused."

William Miller's 1844 prediction resulted in a splinter group. One subset of disappointed believers claim Jesus had shifted His location in heaven in preparation to return to earth. The group became The Seventh-day Adventist.

Biblical Terms & Definitions
God used specific terms for these people. The terms are not complimentary.
  • False Prophet. The word refers to people who use magic, false visions, and divination.
  • False Teachers. They teach men's ideas as though they were God's ideas. Characteristics of false teachers include:
    • confidently speaking what they do not understand. (1 Timothy 1:7)\
    • They give attention to spirits (1 Timothy 4:1-4).
    • They pay attention to demon doctrines. (IBID)
    • They have a seared conscience. (IBID)
    • They forbid marriage and selected foods. (IBID)
    • Their teachings do not agree with the Bible, Jesus soundness, or godliness. (1 Timothy 6:3).
    • They purposefully make listeners feel good. (2 Timothy 4:3).
    • They secretly introduce destructive Heresy. (2 Peter 2:1).
  • Soothsayer. These are people who foretell the future.
  • Deceivers. They are imposters. They use smooth talk and flattering speech to trick the honest and unsuspecting.
What God Thinks About These People

  • False teachers.
    • They must be silenced. (Titus 1:11)
    • Their teaching is destructive. (2 Peter 2:1)
    • God identifies them so we would recognize them.

  • Deceivers.
    • God does not use tricks or deception.
    • They deceive and are being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)
Conclusion -- What Can Be Done?
The Bible has what we need to know. God condemns today's revelations and oracles. Christ disciples don't need visions or spirits. We must do 1 John 4:1. " Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 

You must TEST every preacher. You must VERIFY every religious idea. Why? Only ONE christian group is going to heaven. (Matthew 7:14; 16:18 --church is singular). Can you prove yours is the one?

Question strongly those who seem to know everything. Check for contradictions. If he talks about spirits don't listen. If he forbids foods or marriage, you have a false teacher. Run away. If he makes you feel good, he maybe wrong. Don't listen

Embarrassment silences. Use it.

Don't use palm readers or fortune tellers. You don't need tea leaves or tarot cards.

"Let no one deceive you with empty words." (Ephesians 5:6) 
"Let no one in anyway deceive you." (2 Thessalonians 2:3). 
"Little children let no one deceive you." (1 John 3:7).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Frazier was a storm-tossed, distressed young man of fifteen years. Seated at a desk at the Department of Human Services, he waited for the investigator.

After 10 long minutes of sweating it, in drug the old war-horse. Her clothes, although professional, were draped on her wry frame like an over-sized sock. Rounding the corner of the desk, she looked over her reading glasses at Frazier, inspecting him. She plopped down in her office chair, wishing she was on next week's Florida vacation.

She opened his pudgy file, flipped through the first seven or eight pages, and asked, "Do you know why you are here?"

Frazier nodded as she struggled with the video recorder. 

"Let's start at the beginning," she says. "Please tell your version of the story."

"Ever since I was young child I have had a demon. Some stupid doctors thought I had epilepsy. But the demon would throw me on the ground to hurt me. Sometimes it made me fall in the water or fire. I nearly drown several times. People at school thought my dad was burning me. But the demon was giving me terrible convulsions. I could not talk. It was always trying to kill me," Frasier began, looking directly in her eyes, just as dad had taught him.

"That's why I have so many bruises, cuts and burns." he added. "It is not dad's fault."

"Dad took me to the students of an exorcist. He thought they could cure me. They tried but couldn't," Frazier said as his eyes sank away.

"Then the exorcist showed up. He ask what is going on? Dad brought me to him," Frazier said.

"Young man, do you expect me to believe this story? What was the name of the exorcist," she demanded, expecting him to shrug his shoulders.

But Frazier politely, confidently, answered. "The people there called him Jesus. He is famous, ya' know," Frazier added with a twisted grin.

He continued. "Jesus asked how long I had been like this?' 

"Dad told him since I was a very young boy," Frazier continued.

"Dad begged Jesus if He could do ANYTHING, anything at all," Frazier added, then sheepishly continued, "Did your dad ever beg for you? Mine did. He must love me a lot."

"Jesus sounded insulted when He replied, 'If I can?' Then He said, 'EVERYTHING is possible if you believe,'" Frazier added.

Frazier told the now-interested investigator of how his dad did believe. "Dad pleaded for Jesus to help his weak faith."

"Ma'am, I know it was a demon because of what Jesus said next," Frazier explained. Jesus called it a deaf and dumb spirit, and commanded it to come out." Frazier said.

"I screamed so loud. I had the biggest convulsion ever. It threw me on the ground real hard. It scratched my arm and face badly, and put a knot on my head. I think I went unconscious because the people there said I was dead," Frazier said with big, excited eyes. "You can ask them!"

"Ma'am, you have to believe me. This is the truth. Dad got Jesus to help me. Dad did not bruise me. He did not burn me. Please, please, believe me," Frazier pleaded.

Should I believe his story. Why?
More importantly, do you believe it? Why?
Tell us why in the comment section.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Diary

(From Tom's diary we read...)

Today, we geared up for a 'retreat' in the mountains. We gathered food and bedding. But He didn't want anyone to know where we were going. 

It seems strange to me. For three years, we have tried to gather crowds so the Rabbi could teach them. Now He does not want any crowds. We are going to stay away from Chorazin, Gennesaret, Magdala, and Cana. We will be in the mountains of Northwest Galilee. 

All day I wondered why. Why are we going there? Few people live there. Why all the supplies? We normally stay in people's homes. 

Well, on this trip, He started talking about things that didn't make sense. He talked about betrayal. Don't all twelve of us believe in Him? Who would BETRAY him?

He spoke of people KILLING him. He is the most popular man in Israel. People think He might deliver them from Roman tyranny. ALL He does is help people, and teach them. Why would ANYONE want to kill him?

And then, there is this nonsense of Him rising from the dead. I have seen Him raise a few folks from the dead, but they are just going to die again. He's talking about being raised and never dieing. Have you ever heard of someone being raised and never dieing? Me neither. 

Over the past 3 years, I have worked hard to be a good disciple. I have gone where He has gone. I understand most of His teachings. I believe only what I have seen. I am reasonably convinced He is God's son. 

But on this trip, I just don't get it. I just can't see Him being betrayed. I can't believe anyone would want to kill him. And being raised in three days never to die again, well.., it is just not going to happen.

I think I have Him fooled. He thinks I understand all this. He thinks I believe everything. But I don't understand any of it.

And I am scared to ask him about it. He may fuss at me. He might embarrass me if he finds out I don't understand. He has chided me and my buddies before about our 'little faith'. And that was not fun!

I'll keep it a secret, just between me and you, dairy. No one will ever know. 

What I write in my diary, stays in my diary.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


To be trained by a Rabbi in Jesus' day, you were expected to roam with your rabbi at all times. No matter where he goes, you go. You meet lepers. You approach the delirious. You are a guest at a dinner with the most repulsive people on the planet. You go everywhere so you will not miss anything.

You show up at special functions with your Rabbi. You discern His attention to the despised. You ponder the time you and The Rabbi ate snacks from the field, and were criticized. You focus on your Teacher when He eats with the self-righteous Pharisee. You watch Him explain forgiveness to the Pharisee. You help Him feed 5000 men. You meditate on the Master's management of two opposite sisters. You go everywhere to learn everything.

Hypocrites are as dangerous as deadly dynamite. They compliment you, then carve up your back. They wear suits on Sunday, but carry pitchforks on Monday. Strangely, your Master loves each one. So you consider how He gently corrects them. You scrutinize His stories offering change. You study Him in situations as He challenges men to change. You concentrate on the direct challenges to your Rabbi, and how He stands His ground.

You saw Him teach a healed leper to keep the commands. You discern His use miracles as a teaching moment. You'll notice His use of the old testament. You listen to Him give men God's heart-based living instead of ceremony-based heartless obedience. You grasp His memorable analogies becoming anchors.

You are hand picked to witness His glory. You shield your eyes from His glowing clothes. You see your Rabbi as He was before. You feel the cloud. You hear God's thundering voice commanding your attention to your Rabbi. 

In discipleship, you learn by observing, by imitating your Teacher, and by ALWAYS being close

Now Jesus has sent you, Peter, and the other disciples across the deadly Galilean sea after an exhausting day. 

Jesus, your most-loved Instructor, is spending a large part of His night in prayer.
It is about 4 o'clock in the morning. You are excruciatingly tired, along with the others. Row 10 feet forward. Blown back 8 feet. The wind-driven waves are wicked. The sea at night is dangerous, but you are safe IN the boat. Despite the comfortless conditions, all of you are IN a good ship.

"What is that out on the water," Matthew says. "It's a ghost!" exclaims Judas. You are thinking, 'This sea kills! That is a ghost! Not good!' But the ghost is walking past. 

"It's Jesus," John says.

Passionate Peter wants to be with Jesus every moment. He says, "If it is you, tell me to come." Jesus replied, "Come on."

In disbelief, you watch Peter roll up his pant legs. (Oh, yeah. They did not have pants.) But you are watching Peter walking on water. 

He is successfully doing the impossible. 

What are the similarities between Peter and a parachutist? 
  • Both get out of perfectly good vessels. 
  • Both trust their ability to do what the instructor says. 
  • Both experience success.

As Rabbi followers wanting success, we must get out of the boat. We must be with our Rabbi. We trust him. Now, we must leave what is safe. We must believe we can obey the commands. 

Only when we go OVERBOARD will we experience God's success. Only when we get out of the boat, will we do the impossible successfully.