Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who Will You Vote For Today?

Elections have a way of bringing into sharp focus the need to make clear, firm choices on some occasions.  We know that we cannot fill out a ballot voting for both candidates at the same time.  One must be chosen.  This made me think about another clear choice that must be made, and some lessons that we can learn about making that choice.

Elections Involve Campaigning
-              In the recent political election, billions of dollars were spent in an effort to get you to choose one candidate or the other.  Each candidate spent countless hours strategizing and working to win votes.  Every resource was exhausted in an all-out campaign to get you to choose them.
                 In a more important election, both God and Satan want you to choose them to be in control of your life.  Those are the only two candidates available, and you don't get to write in another option.  Both have gone all-out.  Satan will try any trick that he can to destroy you.  Jesus paid the ultimate price to gain you.  

Elections Involve Choice
     You must choose.  That's how this works. Matthew 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Likewise, James 4:4 tells us, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."  We simply cannot have it both ways.
     Responsible voters choose carefully after giving serious thought to the main issues.  Other voters might be more flippant with their decision, but the vote is cast one way or another.  In a political election, we might be frustrated that other voters don’t see things our way, and that choices are made contrary to our judgment. We might point fingers or feel helpless.  
     In this way, our spiritual choice is totally different.  In the spiritual election, no one else gets a vote.  It’s all your call.  The choice will be made in a landslide vote of 1-0.  The winner gets 100% of the vote.  There is nobody else to blame for a poor decision, and nobody else to save you from your own poor choice.  

Elections Involve Consequences
-               In political elections, leaders are chosen and policies are made that have real effects on the future.  We may love or loath the results, but they are real nonetheless.  
-               In the spiritual election, the consequences are unavoidable.  Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.  I am reminded strongly of the words of  Joshua 24:15 (NKJV) And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
         The political election is over for now, but there is still a greater vote that you must cast.  Who gets your vote for Lord of your life?  It is the most important choice you'll ever make.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Back!!!

     Gilberto’s family was called by the local police to identify the body of a man that had been murdered.  They went down to the morgue, and sure enough their fears were confirmed.  The body laying there looked like their Gilberto.

     Gilberto’s family and friends gathered for a wake to honor and remember their loved one.  Then an unexpected guest arrived – it was Gilberto!  Mourners were so shocked to see him alive that some fled for safety, while others fainted from fright.  He tried to reassure them saying, “Guys, I'm alive, pinch me!”

     Was it a ghost?  Was it a miraculous resurrection?  No.  There was nothing other-worldly about what happened here.  It was simply a case of mistaken identity.  The body had been misidentified.  Perhaps it had some disfiguration or the family couldn’t bear to look too closely at the body that bore a resemblance to Gilberto.  However, the emotional impact for the family would be similar to if he had actually come back from the grave.  They were given a new chance to have a man in their lives who they thought they had lost forever. 

     There was another time when mourners were frightened by a real resurrection.  We read about it in Luke 24:36-41 (NKJV) 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"

     Like Gilberto’s family, they were frightened.  Like Gilberto, Jesus offered his body as evidence that he was alive in the flesh.  Unlike Gilberto, there was no mistake here.  Jesus had actually been dead and resurrected.  He had conquered death and returned to lead his followers to a similar victory.  Death would never again hold the same ominous finality.  Conversely, for the believer, death is just the beginning of greater things to come.  All of which is possible only because of Jesus.  You have the chance to have Jesus in your life now because of his resurrection.  Are you taking advantage of that chance?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leave Them Alone?

Explorers Told: Leave Remote Peru Tribe Alone:

Peru has called on explorers to stay away from an isolated Amazon basin rainforest tribe after pictures of "uncontacted" tribal members were published online.The pictures show a family of Mascho-Piro people in the Manu National Park, in remote southeastern Peru on the border with Brazil.
They were taken at the end of last year by an archaeologist and tribe supporter and published on the website of pro-native group Survival International
 But the office for Natural Protected Areas warned even indirect contact with the indigenous people could bring in deadly viruses that do not already exist in the region - and the natives could be hostile.They called on outsiders "to never attempt to enter in contact with these (isolated) communities", whose people "are trying to remain apart from the outside world".She also urged people to not leave food, clothing or other gifts like locals or tourists sometimes do "with the goal of starting a contact with the isolated natives". There are some 15 uncontacted native groups in Peru's Amazon rainforest, according to government officials, with Survival International saying there are 100 uncontacted native groups around the world.
 Sightings of the Mashco-Piro have increased in recent months."Many blame illegal logging in and around the park and low-flying helicopters from nearby oil and gas projects, for forcibly displacing the indigenous people from their forest homes," the activist group said.


“Leave them alone” sounds like a great strategy for preserving an ancient way of life.  But it’s a horrible strategy for saving souls.  Yet that is the very strategy that too many Christians are applying, not just to isolated groups of tribesmen, but to their own neighbors and coworkers.  “Let’s not force our views on anyone else.”  “Let everyone live their life anyway they want to live it.” 

What if Jesus had that attitude?  What if he had looked down from heaven and seen the mess we were making of life and said, “Leave them alone.”  “Sure they’ll be lost eternally.  Of course they desperately need to be saved even if they don’t realize it, but it’s better not to disturb their way of life.”

Friends, we cannot leave each other alone.  We cannot leave those in the world alone.  Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. “ And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
Why do we do it?  Because Jesus has all authority and he tells us to.  What are we to do?  Make disciples of all nations.  What does that involve?  Baptism and teaching to obey.  As we go about this mission, Jesus promises to be with us.
Quit leaving people alone and start leading them to Christ.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who Get’s Possession?

This week’s Monday Night Football game ended in a touchdown pass… or an interception.   It depends on who you ask.  Two players from opposing teams ended the game playing tug-of-war over the football.  The decision regarding who had possession of the football determined who won the game.  They could not both posses the ball.  It had to be awarded to one or the other.
                There is a battle of possession that has much greater consequences than who wins a big football game.  That battle is raging over who will have possession of your loyalties, affections, and priorities.  Will you belong to God or to Satan/the world?  Jesus describes this in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” 
                Both God and the world are vying for you, and you cannot award yourself to both.  James 4:4 cautions us saying, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  So make the big call.  Do you belong to God or the world?  Everything depends on you making the right call.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Four Ridiculous Myths Perpetuated By Popular Culture

1. Disapproval equals hate.

Publicly express your disapproval of nearly anything and you will quickly be chastised for your “hatemongering”. However, disapproval and hate are really entirely different things. Growing up I found many activities that met with my parents’ disapproval – lying, stealing, cheating, etc. Were I to engage in one of these activities, then my parents would have very quickly expressed that disapproval in whatever ways they felt would have the most lasting impact. However, their disapproval of an activity in no way indicated that they hated me. Quite the opposite really! If they did not LOVE me, then they would not care enough to correct me.

2. The only thing that’s wrong is to say something is wrong. An intolerant voice cannot be tolerated.

Nothing seems to bring about a more rapid barrage of venomous words, condescension, and generally hate-filled speech than expressing an “intolerant” view of the lifestyle or beliefs of others. Just ask Kirk Cameron or Dan Cathy. It is unbelievably hypocritical for preachers of absolute tolerance to be so unwilling to tolerate the voicing of an opposing point of view.

3. Sexual orientation, like race and gender, is not a choice. It is simply how you are born and cannot be changed.

That is certainly not what the Bible teaches. You’ve often heard 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 invoked in discussions about the sinfulness of homosexuality. That passage does list homosexuality as being among the sins that would keep you from the kingdom of God. However the best part of the passage comes in the next verse, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Some of the Corinthians had formerly been homosexuals, but CHANGED when they were washed, sanctified, and justified.

There are countless people who have changed their sexual orientation over the years – both ways. It can be done. The truth becomes obscured when the definition of terms in the discussion puts sexual orientation in the same class as race and gender.

4. It is inconsiderate, arrogant, and hateful to seek to change someone else’s sincerely held beliefs.

Recently I read a blog comment by an individual identified as “Phrenia” that said,

“…sometimes I just don't see how it is any of our business and if we don't like it, we should stick to not doing it ourselves. I don't understand this need to control other people and their personal preferences/beliefs/opinions. The worst part is that when we are being intolerant of others for something, it's completely selfish. We don't stop to think, "Oh, this is their belief and this belief is true for them" but instead we think "Their belief is not right. Ours is. Their belief should mirror ours". It's like we don't stop to think that as strongly we believe in our belief, they believe in theirs.”
Phrenia’s comments reflect the views of a great many people. What this poster, and many like-minded people, fail to consider is that if I sincerely believe that another person’s lifestyle will result in their soul being lost, then abstaining from trying to change them is the most inconsiderate, arrogant, and hateful thing that I could possibly do! It would imply that I don’t think they are worth saving, or even worse, that I don’t want them to be saved. The effort to change the thinking of others is not an attempt to “control” them, but rather it is an effort to save them.

Of course, this should be done in a loving and civil way. It should be done without malice or haughtiness. But it should be done. G.K. Chesterton famously said, “Tolerance is the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.” Or to put it another way, to believe that all beliefs are equal is to hold no beliefs at all.

These discussions frequently remind me of Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” It seems to me that our popular culture has done a great deal of mislabeling evil and good.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Million Dollar Parking Space!?!

 “In many parts of the country, a million bucks will buy you a mansion. In New York City, you can get a 12-foot by 23-foot slab of concrete. Yes, Manhattan's first $1 million parking space is scheduled to go on the market this fall”, reports Martha C. White in an article.  The parking spot is a private garage in located in a building that is being remodeled into luxury condominiums.  Owners of the best condos will have the opportunity to purchase this parking space to go with it.
                White says, “The parking space, dubbed ‘the city’s gaudiest garage’ by the Post, will have a separate deed and sales contract. Based on an average 6 percent commission, this means a real estate agent could earn $60,000 … for selling this parking spot.”
The article goes on to say: “So what does the owner get for a million bucks plus maintenance fees? Direct street access thanks to a curb cut in front of the garage door, along with 15-foot ceilings. The ceilings are high enough that the spot can be "duplexed;" that is, an elevator can be added so the owner can stack two cars in the space.
“This two-for-one capability might make $1 million seem like a little bit more of a bargain, but the owner would still have to get a $115 parking ticket every single day for 24 years straight to equal the cost of the spot, the Post calculated.”
                Isn’t it amazing how highly people value a place to belong – a place that is especially reserved for them?  People pay for tickets to reserve specific seats in a stadium or on an airplane – seats that belong to them and no one else.  It provides comfort to know that we won’t be left without a place like the last child standing in a game of musical chairs.  People even become possessive of their seats at church because being displaced from their regular seat leaves them feeling a little out of place and insecure.
                Jesus taps into this desire for a special place to belong, as he comforts his disciples in John 14:2-3.  There he says (in the NKJV),In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” 
               A Christian often feels out of place in a world that ridicules our values, and rejects our Lord.  What a wonderful thought to know that Jesus is preparing a place especially for us, if we are his disciples!  We will have a place where we will always belong, and will never be displaced.  
                If a parking place to call your own in New York City is work a million dollars, then how much is a place to call your own in God’s heavenly house worth!?!  The value is inestimable.  In fact, it is far more than the richest of us could ever hope to pay.  That’s why the only way that we can hope to obtain it is as a gift from God.  This is a gift that He readily offers to those who would accept his grace through His plan of salvation.  Read about that plan here.  There is plenty of room for you.  Become his follower today, and claim your special place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Appeal to Worship Leaders from a Parent of Small Children

There is a group of people that work during worship services almost as hard as the preacher– the parents of small children.  These men and women are doing their best to worship and grow themselves, while at the same time teaching their children to behave during worship services.  They are also doing what they can to keep their children from distracting those around them.  After services you can see those brave parents leave, visibly more haggard and disheveled than when they entered, but glad that they were there.   
     I realize that small children are not the primary consideration for most worship services.  However, I think that there are a few small things that we can do that would help those parents in their plight.  I also think that many other people in the assembly would appreciate these same suggestions. 

·         To Prayer Leaders:
Keep it short and simple.  Prayer asks intense concentration, reverence, and silence from an audience.  With my children with me, then I can give you that for a couple of minutes – maybe 5 minutes on a really good day.  Beyond that, the task of keeping children quiet becomes so stressful that I have no idea what else you have prayed about, and can only breathe a sigh of relief when you finally finish.  Don’t get me wrong; I am a HUGE advocate of prayer, but there is a time and place for lengthy prayers, and the regular worship service is not that place. 
You might say that long prayers are a sign of spirituality and maturity.  However, consider the example of our Lord when he taught His disciple to pray.  In the New King James Version the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) is only 66 words long.  It is short and simple, yet very powerful.  John 17 contains the longest prayer in the whole New Testament, yet the entire text can be easily read aloud in about 3 minutes time.  Surely these examples show that a prayer’s value is not measured by great length and wordiness.  The point is that a short, thoughtful public prayer might be more effective than a long, winding one. 

·         To Song Leaders:
The song service is largely a welcome respite for parents.  Kids don’t have to be as quiet, and can actually participate in a verbal way in this portion of the worship service.  The one suggestion I have for this portion of worship is that having the songs on PowerPoint would be helpful.  That way I can wrestle my son with both hands and still see the words to the song.  There are times when, frankly, it just isn’t worth messing with the song book.  

·         To Preachers:
Having served for years as an associate and also a pulpit minister, I have spent enough sermons both in the pulpit and the pew to understand each side quite well.  The task of preaching is an important one, and I do not ask you to shorten your sermons.  Take as much time as you need to cover the topic, but please don’t make me listen to (and keep my child occupied through) meaningless fluff.  If we’re going to fight to keep our toddler quiet and still so that we can listen to you, then reward us with substance worth listening to.  I can remember a guest speaker once who spent almost 20 minutes in introductory chatting and small talk before he actually began his lesson – which of course ran quite long.  An audience’s best attention (and a child’s best capacity to sit still) is at the very beginning of the sermon.  Don’t waste this time.  Get right into the lesson as quickly as you can.

Having said all of that, these are just my opinions.  I recognize that everyone has their opinions and preferences, and yours may differ from mine.  That’s fine when it comes to matters of discretion.  I only intend to present a perspective that I hope that fellow worship leaders will take into consideration at congregations with small children.  What are your thoughts on the matter?  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hot Pockets

     Recently a 43 year old woman and her family took a trip to the beach.  Her children picked up some stones that had aroused their interest.  The lady stuck the stones in the pockets of her shorts, and they continued their outing.  About an hour after they got back home, a very unusual thing happened – the rocks in her shorts caught fire!  There she was, just standing in her kitchen, when her pants suddenly burst into flames.  She tried to “stop, drop, and roll”, but to no avail.  Her husband frantically tried to get the shorts off of her, and he got burned in the process.  Eventually the stones fell from her pockets and began to burn the wood floor.  When firefighters drove up to the home, they found the woman, finally freed from the flaming shorts, in the yard being hosed down by her husband.  Meanwhile, the smoldering rocks were found to contain phosphorous, which is probably to be blamed for the sudden combustion.   
     When I read that story, the first scripture that came to mind was, Proverbs 6:27 (NKJV) “Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?  Of course, this lady didn’t do anything immoral in this story, but I think there is a valuable lesson that we could learn if we view it as an allegory.  Let’s say that the stones are seemingly harmless, secret sins.  They were picked up and hidden away safely in the lady’s pocket.  She should have cast them from her, but she kept them.  Who would know?  What would it hurt?  But eventually they came back to burn her, causing pain to both her and her husband, and exposing the secret contents of her pockets in the process.  Luke 8:17 cautions, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.”
     There is no such thing as “getting away with” sin.  The results may not be immediately seen, and suffering may not immediately result, but that doesn’t mean that the sin was safe.  As Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  If there are any secret sins in your life, then the best thing for you to do is to get rid of them as fast as you can, before you wind up getting burned.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Treat Children That You Hate

 1.  Always give them their way.  They will like this, and won’t see what a horrible thing that you are actually doing to them.  Very sneaky!
Proverbs 29:15 (NKJV) The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

2.  Never discipline them.  After all, correction is a sign of love and permissiveness is a sign of hatred.
Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV) He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Proverbs 3:12 (NKJV) For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Hebrews 12:7-8 (NKJV) If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

3.  Be more concerned with giving short-term happiness, than teaching long-term lessons.  This is a great way to ensure that they will be failures in life.
Proverbs 19:18 (NKJV) Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.
Proverbs 29:17 (NKJV) Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
Proverbs 23:13-14 (NKJV) Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.

On the other hand, if you love your children, then you should do the opposite of all of these things.  I’m certainly not condoning abuse in any way.  I am not recommending that you take out anger on children or be intentionally mean to them.  However, a good parent knows that being good their children is not always the same as being kind to them.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear God...

The following are said to be actual prayers of real children:

· Please send a new baby for Mommy. The new baby you sent last week cries too much. Debbie, 7
· Who did you make smarter? Boys or girls? My sister and I want to know. Jimmy, 6
· How many angels are there in heaven? I would like to be the first kid in my class to know the answer. Norma, 8
· This is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains. So far he doesn't have any. Angela, 8
· Thank you for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weather man. Hank, 7
· Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, history, geography and writing. I don't need help in anything else. Lois, 9
· Tomorrow is my birthday. Could you please put a rainbow in the sky? Susan, 9
· I need a raise in my allowance. Could you have one of your angels tell my father. Thank you. David, 7
· I am saying my prayers for me and my brother, Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can't do anything but sleep and wet his diapers. Diane, 8
Remember the sweet innocence with which we used to pray as children.  Perhaps our lives could be enhanced now, if we could restore a touch of that pure innocent faith to our adult prayer lives.
Matthew 18:1-6 (NKJV) 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6 "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Former Mr. Universe Turns 100

Last month, a small, toothless man named, Manohar Aich, celebrated his 100th birthday.  Manohar has always taken great care of his body.  So much so, that in 1952 he was named Mr. Universe.   In other words, he was considered the world’s greatest body-builder that year, despite the obstacle of being only 4’11’’ tall.  The muscularity and longevity have not been an accident for him.  He maintained a strict diet, and at times worked out for 12 hours a day.  Lifting weights was a regular part of his life as late as last year, when he was forced to stop after suffering a stroke.  He is critical of lazy, younger body builders because they “don’t worship their body.” 
There are several directions that we could go in learning some lessons from Manohar.  We could admire his work ethic.  We could praise the clean living that has helped him to some impressive physical accomplishments.  Or we could look to the inevitable.  Manohar, may have once had the best body in the world.  Yet, despite his hard work he has still grown old.  Furthermore, unless the Lord returns first, he will still face death before many more years.  Then what will he have to show for worshipping his body?
Let’s remember the words of Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) , “ is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”.  There are a great many worthy accomplishments that we can celebrate in this life.  Those things do have some value, and are a part of our journey through life.  But ultimately, when this life is over, there will be only two accomplishments that mean anything to us.  First of all, did we make it to heaven?  Secondly, did we help anyone else get there?  Friends, nothing else will matter.  You won’t care in the slightest about your greatest achievement or your greatest failure, unless they relate to those two questions. 
It is hard to keep the big picture in mind as we muddle through everyday life.  But we should remind ourselves periodically of what things REALLY matter.  Maybe the things that we stress about the most, really aren’t that important.  On the other hand, maybe we aren’t stressed enough about the things that are important.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Four Questions That Every Wife Should Ask Her Husband

[Guest post written by the lovely and brilliant Tiffany Gaines]

Ephesians 5:22 tells wives to be subject to their own husbands, as to the Lord. Submission seems to be an old and outdated tradition in our modern world, however it is Biblical and still applies today. Part of our submission is love and respect to our own husbands. We can gain so much as wives by showing love, respect, and submissiveness to our husbands each and every day. Men are not nearly as complicated as women and taking care of a few things can go a long way in a Christian marriage! Communication is key. Let’s take a look at some questions we should frequently ask our husbands that show love, respect, and submission.

1.  Are you satisfied with our sex life? 
Talking about sex is almost a taboo sometimes. However, sex within a marriage is a wonderful and necessary thing. God created Eve in Genesis 2:22-23 as a gift for man that they may be one flesh. Hebrews 13:4 tells us the marriage bed is to be held in honor among all. I Corinthians 7 is a beautiful passage showing that our bodies belong to one another. Men show intimacy through sexual closeness. The more we show love physically to our husbands, the closer they feel to us as well. Don’t see it as a chore. See it as an adventure. Make talking about sex a “normal” thing for you, not an awkward conversation. Take a look at the Song of Solomon today. It’s a great read. Song of Solomon 5:16 is a great motto to have!

2.  Can you teach me to fish this weekend? 
This question is generic but encompasses a very important reality that we sometimes lose after those dating years. Our spouse needs us to be his recreational “buddy” sometimes. Think about it, who would you most want to share your favorite activities with? It won’t kill us to play a little basketball, go fishing, or even play a little WII once in awhile. It’s an added bonus to ask them to teach you a skill or surprise them with an activity in a way that says I love being with you instead of I’m just doing this because I have to. Sometimes attitude is everything!! God gave us a wonderful husband to spend life with so let’s not spend all of our time on chores and work. Let’s get out there and play!

3.  How can I be a better help meet? 
God not only gave woman to man as a sexual partner in life but as someone to help him to reach the goal of Heaven! Ephesians 5:22-33 gives husbands and wives excellent examples of how we should submit to our husbands and he will love us as Christ loves the church. What a beautiful picture! Our husbands are the spiritual leaders in the home, but we are there to help him as he strives to meet the noble goal of Heaven. We can ask how to better help and also help by preparing little ones in our home through teaching and songs, getting nightly routines finished before family devotional time, and showing the respect our husband deserves in front of our children and others.

4. What can I do for you today? 
Men get overwhelmed too. Check in to see if they need a little help getting something finished. Ask if you can bring them some coffee and the paper at the end of the day. Make your husband feel important and you will reap many rewards.

Our husbands are our greatest asset. Keep communication open. People change over time and we need to know our spouses better than anyone. Ask some of these questions to your hubby. He may have some surprising answers in store, but you are sure to grow closer to one another and God through following His Biblical examples for marriage.

[See Tiffany's blog at:]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Four Questions That Every Husband Should Ask His Wife Once In A While

1.  How can I make you feel more loved?  
Ephesians 5:25 makes it clear that we ought to have a very strong love for our wives.  Make sure that she feels very secure in that love, and that you are showing your love in a way that she can hear it.

2.  What do you think that I should understand better about you?  
We should be lifetime students of our wives.  When you first started dating, you wanted to know everything about her.  By the time you got married, you had earned your diploma in “Your Wife 101”.  Don’t stop there.  Keep working for a Ph.D. in “Your Wife”!  She changes and grows, and that requires you to continue to study her.  (see 1 Peter 3:7) 

3.  How are you feeling about your soul right now?  
Guys, as the spiritual leader of your household, you will have to account for your spouse’s soul.  Don’t just assume that she is doing alright spiritually.  Check in on her from time to time.  Discuss her doubts and pray together about it.

4.  How can I help you today?  
Dedicate your day off once in a while to helping her catch up.  This is especially important if she’s been feeling behind, or if that “honey-do” list is getting pretty backed up.  Many women will translate your actions of service into affirmations of love.

Keep those lines of communication open.  Try asking her some of these questions this weekend.  Her answers might surprise you, and they will probably help you to grow closer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Balanced Look at Prom

It is that time of year again, and I’ve already seen quite a few comments and articles about the various merits and evils of prom.  It is such an emotionally charged subject, that to broach the topic seems to always cause heated debate.  So with some measure of trepidation I will tiptoe into the discussion.
I think that sometimes we paint with an unnecessarily broad brush that winds up causing friction where it doesn’t have to be.  My purpose in this article is not to tell you that prom is evil and that I will be questioning your devotion to God if you or a loved one attend.  Neither is my purpose to praise the activity and tell the anti-prom crowd to calm down.  To be quite honest, I have seen both sides of the discussion overstate their case, in my opinion.  But rather I want to focus on what we KNOW, and then let you make application as you see fit.
I know that lasciviousness (lewd or sensual behavior) is wrong (Galatians 5:19; Mark 7:22).  I know that immodesty is wrong (1 Timothy 2:9).  I would expect that all God-fearing Christians would agree with both of those statements.  The task then is to apply that knowledge.  Lasciviousness and immodesty are wrong wherever they take place, and the faithful Christian should abstain from them as they would any other sin.
To say much beyond the preceding paragraph is probably not very profitable.  Apply the clear teachings of Scripture to every situation of your life… neither over-emphasizing, nor excluding any area.  No one can ask for more from you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Missed Opportunities

A missed opportunity can cost a ton of regret in the future.  Consider these examples of great opportunities that just weren’t taken:
  • ABC once passed on a sitcom proposal featuring comedian Bill Cosby.   NBC snapped up the idea and enjoyed collecting billions of advertising dollars over the next decade.
  • In 1982, the makers of the mega-hit movie, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”, wanted to use M&M’s in their movie.  Mars (the makers of M&M’s) did not see that as a particularly appealing opportunity.  Rival candy company, Hershey, took advantage and collected great rewards when their new product, Reese's Pieces, soared in popularity.
  • In 2006, Yahoo had the opportunity to buy Facebook for $1 billion, but backed away.  Now Facebook is worth many times that.
  • Tony Fadell, an engineer at Philips Electronics, pitched an idea to his employer for combining a music player and an online content-delivery system.  They rejected it.  So he took the idea to, then industry giant, RealNetworks.  They also passed.  Finally Apple bought into the idea and the iPod and iTunes were born.  It could have been Philips or RealNetworks that dominated digital music, rather than Apple, but they missed their opportunity.
  • In 1962, a little known band, managed by Brian Epstein, auditioned for Decca Records.  Decca rejected them saying that the band had “no future in show business.”  Later EMI would sign the group, called “The Beatles” (you might have heard of them) and the rest is music history.

Can you imagine the bitter regret that some of those involved in passing over these golden opportunities must have felt later?  Imagine how much they might love to go back and do it again better.  There is one final story of regret that I want to call to your attention now.  It is found in Luke 16:19-31:
(NKJV) "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

This man had many missed opportunities -- opportunities to prepare for the judgment, opportunities to share comfort with others like Lazarus, opportunities to teach his family to live rightly.  Now he longs desperately to have chosen better.

Today, you still have those opportunities.  But those windows of opportunity will close, and you will have eternity to think about what you did with them.  

(For more information about preparing for eternity click here.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Extreme Measures

Hans Url is a 56 year old husband and father in Austria who had been living primarily on disability since 2003.  However, he had an appointment coming up to evaluate his physical fitness for work.  If deemed to be fit, then he would risk losing his disability benefits, and would have to take on the work that was found for him. 

The thought was abhorrent to him so he hatched a plan to avoid this fate.  He waited until his family was away from home so there would be no interference.  Then he went down to the boiler room and cut off his foot with an electric saw.  Furthermore, he wanted to ensure that skillful doctors would not be able to reattach the foot.  So, he threw his severed foot into a wood stove to burn.  Finally, in danger of bleeding to death, Hans called an ambulance and was rushed to the hospital.

I am not going to use this as an opportunity to talk about political issues like entitlement attitudes and welfare.   What Hans did was horrible and brings his mental faculties into question.  It might be described as the height of laziness, but my purpose today is not to bash him.  Actually, I think that there is a positive lesson to be learned from this man.  I want to focus on Hans' determination to avoid a future that seemed most objectionable to him.  He would rather proceed through life maimed than continue on able-bodied to a destination he detested. 

It reminds me somewhat of what Jesus said in Matthew 18:8-9 (NKJV), If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”

There are few practical instances where literally cutting off our foot would keep us from sin, but we do need to be very serious about getting rid of things in our lives that make it more difficult to be holy.  That might mean amputating certain freedoms and privileges from our lives.  .  If the internet is causing you to stumble then you need to amputate your private access to it by installing accountability software.  If you have been using money to finance your vice, then you may need to amputate you credit or debit card access.  If a job is tempting you to be unethical, then you may have to amputate that job.  If a person or group is pulling you toward sinful activities, then you might have to amputate those people from your life.   Getting serious about avoiding sin, means taking drastic steps to get rid of those things that have been temptations to you.   The righteousness you will achieve will be very much worth any inconvenience you incur.

You might suggest that it would be better to just develop the strength to resist those temptations.  After all, that seems much less drastic and more reasonable.  I would respond by pointing out that it is better to be holy than to be strong.  It is better to enter life lame or maimed than to rely on your own strength, and risk falling to the everlasting fire.  Consider the repeated admonitions to flee sin:
1 Corinthians 6:18 - “Flee immorality…”
1 Corinthians 10:14 - “Flee idolatry”
1 Timothy 6:11  - But you, O man of God, flee these things [the love of money] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
2 Timothy 2:22 - Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
                We learn the value of avoiding temptation from Jesus’ instructions on prayer.  When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he included the line, “do not lead us into temptation” (Matthew 6:13).  When they were in Gethsemane shortly before Jesus would be crucified, he again admonished his disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).  Jesus was not instructing his disciple to pray for the strength to resist temptation, but rather for the avoidance of temptation altogether. 

                The point is that it is better to flee from sin and avoid temptation than to try to stay and fight.  Even the oft quoted 1 Corinthians 10:13 (No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.) speaks of escaping temptation rather than defeating it.  If you are on a diet, and you have cookies within easy reach all day relying on your willpower to resist the temptation, then you are likely to fail to maintain that diet.  For a better chance at success, it would be best to have no cookies in the house at all.  If you are seeking righteousness, then it would be better to remove temptations as far away from you as possible.

                So, how serious are you?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to pursue righteousness?   Or just whatever seems reasonably convenient?  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What is that to you? You follow Jesus!

Jesus and Peter have a conversation right at the end of the Gospel of John (chapter 21).  In this conversation, Jesus charges Peter with the responsibility of caring for his sheep.  He then foretells a little about the way that Peter will die.  Peter, wondering about his fellow apostle John, said, “Lord, and what about this man?”  Jesus replies, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"

I wonder how often Jesus might offer that same answer to us when we ask about the fortunes and opportunities of others.  Lord, what about this man?  “What is that to you?  You follow Me!”  Why does that guy seem to have gotten all the breaks in life, while I struggle so much?  “What is that to you?  You follow Me!”  Why did he get that job and I didn’t when I would have done it better?  “What is that to you?  You follow Me!”  Why don’t all these other people have to deal with the particular misfortune that I do?  “What is that to you?  You follow Me!” 

This is reminiscent of a parable Jesus told in Matthew 20:1-15:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. "When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went. "Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. "And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?' "They *said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He *said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.' "When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. "When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. "When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.' "But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?'

Some people will end up having done more work in life.  Some will have suffered more hardships.  Some will endure more trials, while others will have an easier path.  But in the end, God will deal with us fairly.  He will not defraud us of our just due.  If he is generous to others, “What is that to you?  You follow Him!”  As long as we make it to heaven, then we will have been well compensated for anything we endured along the way.  On the other hand, if we miss heaven, then we’ve missed everything.