A Good Word of Prophecy About Environmentalism

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:18-22, N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)

I purposely placed each use of the word “creation” in boldface type because I want to draw your attention to that topic. You see, these verses teach us something very important about creation. They teach that all of creation got swiped hard by Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden. Putting it another way, sin didn’t just do a number on the human race; it did a number on creation itself.

We must be careful not to read into Genesis chapter 3 that God actually cursed Adam. You won’t find that in the chapter. But what you will find is that God cursed the serpent (v.14) and the ground (v.17). Concerning the ground, He said to Adam “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field” (v.17-18). For the record, the fact of the ground being cursed by the Lord is repeated in Genesis 5:29.

No doubt Adam came to understand all too well that the earth’s soil was now cursed. But did he understand the full scope of the effects of his sin? Did he understand that it wasn’t just the dirt underneath him that would now be made to “groan” but all of creation itself?

It is interesting that the earth’s creatures were not originally designed to eat each other. Genesis 1:30 clearly states that the creatures all ate herbs, as did Adam and Eve (1:29), before sin entered the picture. The Bible doesn’t come right out and say exactly when the creatures started killing one another, but many believe that it wasn’t until after the flood of Noah. If this understanding is correct, it would explain why the creatures aboard the ark didn’t kill each other.

What we do know is that it was God’s post-flood instructions to Noah that made it “legal” for humans to kill and eat animals. God said, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:3). Not coincidentally, that’s also when a fear of humans settled upon all creatures (Genesis 9:2).

And so, the creatures of the earth got caught in the avalanche of the effects of Adam’s sin upon all creation. Not only did the human race become an unholy mess, so did the animal kingdom. As one writer has put it: “Look out the window. When you see the bird after the worm, the cat after the bird, and the dog after the cat, that gives you a little better understanding of the morning news.”

Nevertheless, you’ll notice that our text passage from Romans speaks of a glorious time when the “futility” to which creation has been subjected will be lifted and creation will be delivered from its “bondage of corruption.” When will this time be? The passage describes it as the time of “the revealing of the sons of God.” Okay, so when will that occur? It will take place at Christ’s Second Coming, at the end of the prophesied seven-year Tribulation period that is scheduled for this world’s future. At that Second Coming, Christ will establish His 1,000 year reign upon this earth.

Jesus will rule from the city of Jerusalem, and at the start of His reign, He will miraculously restore the earth and its creatures to something akin to their pre-sin state. Isaiah 35:1 talks about the desert blossoming as a rose and the wilderness and wasteland being made glad. Furthermore, Isaiah 11:6-8 talks about the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the young goat, the young lion lying down with the calf, the bear and the cow grazing together, the lion eating straw like an ox, and a child being able to play near the hole of a poisonous snake without fear of being harmed. What an incredible age it will be!

William MacDonald has given us with some excellent words on all this. In his commentary thoughts on Romans chapter 8, he writes:

When Adam sinned, his transgression affected not only mankind, but all creation, both animate and inanimate. The ground is cursed. Many wild animals die violent deaths. Disease afflicts birds and animals as well as fish and serpents. The results of man’s sin have rippled like shockwaves throughout all creation…We live in a sighing, sobbing, suffering world. The whole creation groans and suffers pain like that of childbirth. Nature’s music is in the minor key. The earth is racked by cataclysm. The blight of death is on every living thing…Creation looks back to the ideal conditions that existed in Eden. Then it surveys the havoc that was caused by the entrance of sin. Always there has been the hope of a return to an idyllic state, when creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption to enjoy the freedom of the golden era when we as God’s children will be revealed in glory.

I don’t know about you, but I’m like creation in that I long for this coming age. I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist in the way the word gets used politically, but I am certainly full on board with Jesus restoring all of creation, including the creatures of the earth, to a pristine, peaceful state. The old saying, “It’s a jungle out there” will no longer apply then, and the term “animal kingdom” will be trumped by the term “Christ’s kingdom.” And, as a Christian (one of “the children of God”), I’ll be there to see it all and enjoy it.

Posted in Christ's Second Coming, Christ's Return, Creation, Prophecy, Restoration, Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Far, So Good

A man jumped off the Empire State building. As he went plunging down past the 50th floor, an onlooker spoke to him from an open window and said, “Well, how does it feel?” The jumper answered, “So far, so good.”

Just as that jumper didn’t grasp that the end of the story hadn’t been written yet, many people don’t understand that we shouldn’t judge God’s opinion of a situation based solely upon the current outlook. Take the great flood for instance. Genesis 6:3 tells us that God instituted nothing less than a 120-year countdown for that judgment:

And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (N.K.J.V.)

(By the way, some have wrongly taught that this statement was God limiting the individual lifespan to 120 years. However, long after the flood, the likes of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Ishmael, and Jacob each lived more than 120 years. So, clearly, the 120 years refers to how long it would be before the flood struck.)

Now imagine that you were a citizen of earth during those 120 years. Couldn’t you have said, “So far, so good”? Jesus spoke of the footloose and carefree attitude that people had during those years. He said:

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and did not know until the flood came and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:38-39, N.K.J.V.)

It’s here that I could really run with the fact that Bible prophecy teaches that this world has some dark days slated for its future. I mean, it’s hard to read Revelation chapters 6 through 19 and miss that. But I feel led to present the application in a different way.

Rather than focus upon the coming judgment laid out in Bible prophecy, I want to ask you to examine your own life. Have you been engaging in some sin for which you haven’t paid the price yet? If the answer is yes, consider this post to be your wake-up call. God is longsuffering, but He isn’t foreversuffering, and just because you have gotten by with your sin so far, you shouldn’t take that to mean that you are untouchable. The truth is, you’re already on God’s countdown and a flood is headed your way. So, why don’t you repent of your sin today, confess it to Jesus, and lay hold of the forgiveness that comes with believing in Him as your personal Savior? If you don’t, all I can say is enjoy the freefall while it lasts because you won’t like how it ends.

Posted in Addiction, Adultery, Backsliding, Coming Judgment, Confession, Conscience, Conviction, Forgiveness, Gambling, Gluttony, God's Wrath, God's Judgment, Guilt, Homosexuality, Lust, Lying, Making Restitution, Personal Holiness, Racism, Rebellion, Repentance, Sex, Sin, Sowing and Reaping, Temptation, The Tongue | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You’ve Got All You Can Handle Today

Scotland’s George MacDonald was a Christian author and minister. He once said:

No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourself so. If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to Him and mind the present.

Of course, MacDonald’s words merely echo the words of Jesus from Matthew 6:34:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (N.K.J.V.)

One fall morning I woke up with yardwork on my mind. I had let my yard go for a while and really needed to put in a full day of trimming bushes, raking leaves, disposing of leaves, etc. Other than making a quick trip to the bank, picking up my son Ryan from school, and wolfing down a bite or two of breakfast and lunch, I spent that entire day doing yardwork. I worked until dark and still didn’t get everything done that I had planned to do.

That morning, when I first awoke, I got a clear leading from the Lord to devote the day to getting the yard back into shape. But before I could even finish breakfast and get out the door to begin that work, doubts started creeping into my mind about my plan. I started thinking, “Maybe I need to work on my Sunday morning sermon for a while before I head outside.”

That was a case of me borrowing from a future day’s trouble. As I’ve already mentioned, I had so much yardwork to do that day that I worked pretty much nonstop and still didn’t get it all finished. Obviously, I didn’t have an extra hour or two to devote to sermon preparation. Furthermore, I still had several days that week to get that sermon in order. And yet, there I was, worrying about sermon preparation when God wanted my mind focused upon yardwork.

So what’s the application of all this for you today? It’s simple: All you have to get done today is what God has scheduled for you today. One of my life verses is Ephesians 2:10, which says:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (N.K.J.V.)

I take this verse to mean that God has certain good works that He has prepared beforehand for me to do in my lifetime, and it only makes sense that those good works are laid out on a day-by-day basis. That’s why I get up each morning and literally say something like this, “Lord, thank you for the rest that I was able to get last night, and thank you for this day. Help me to do my list for today, whatever that is.” Then I do my best to let the Lord lead me step by step through my day.

Some days play out pretty much as I could have guessed, but other days are filled with all kinds of wrinkles and “plan Bs.” At any rate, the point is that we need to think of each day as being a life of its own. That includes this current day. So tell me, are you focused on this unique 24-hour period or are you worrying about some future day? Be honest in how you answer and change any thinking (and worrying) that you need to change.

Posted in Attitude, Doing Good, Faithfulness, God's Timing, God's Work, Obedience, Personal, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Priorities, Service, Work, Worry | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baptists, Sacrifices, & Mark Twain

A man was robbing a train and came to the seat of a preacher. The robber shoved his gun into the preacher’s chest and said, “Gimme your money.” The preacher said, “But you wouldn’t rob a preacher, would you?” The robber replied, “Oh, you’re a preacher? What denomination are you?” With great pride the preacher answered, “I’m a Baptist.” Upon hearing that answer, the robber switched his gun to his left hand, extended his right hand to shake the preacher’s hand, and said, “Put ‘er there, preacher, I’m a Baptist too.”

Consider the following verses (all from the N.K.J.V.):

So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. (Proverbs 15:8)

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3)

You’ll note that each of these Old Testament verses speaks of sacrifices. That’s because the Old Testament Jews lived their lives under that body of law that God had given to them, and sacrifices were a fundamental part of that law. The law laid out incredibly precise rituals for the offering of: burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, trespass offerings, freewill offerings, and heave offerings. These categories of offerings all involved the sacrificing of animals. Also, the law laid out precise rituals for grain offerings and drink offerings. Israel even had an entire tribe (the tribe of Levi) that served as its priesthood, and those priests, dressed in their priestly garments, faithfully offered all these offerings at the tabernacle (later on, the temple).

The fact is that when a Jew brought an offering to a priest, that was nothing less than an Old Testament worship scene. Those Jews didn’t have churches or even synagogues. What they had were the tabernacle/temple and the law-prescribed sacrifices. Therefore, those people publicly and corporately worshiped the Lord by way of offering sacrifices to Him.

So, do you see the teaching? Let’s use the Proverbs 21:3 verse as an example. If it was being written to the Christian realm today, it could read something like this:

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable than going to church, praying, reading your Bible, dropping money in an offering plate, or giving to missions.

Mark it down, God really isn’t all that impressed with your attempts to worship Him when you spend the vast majority of your life doing sinful things. What you call “worship” doesn’t fix, excuse, or legitimize a lifestyle of habitual sin. If you lay drunk all week and then come to church on Sunday, that’s a problem. If you smoke pot or do other kinds of drugs Monday through Saturday and then come to church on Sunday, that’s a problem. If you roll out of bed with a person to whom you aren’t married and then drive to church, that’s a problem. If you won’t pay your bills but you drop $10 in the offering plate every Sunday, that’s a problem. If you engage in dishonest business practices but you say the blessing before every meal, that’s a problem. If you treat people like dirt but you read your Bible every night, that’s a problem.

There’s an old story that supposedly comes from the life of Mark Twain, and it sums up what I’m trying to say. A man once told Twain, “I’m going to take a trip to Israel. When I get there I’m going to hike to the top of Mount Sinai, and then I’m going to shout down the ten commandments.” Twain looked at the fellow and said, “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you stay home and keep them?” That was a good comeback then, and all of us church-goers and professing Christians could still learn something from it today.

Posted in Alcohol, Backsliding, Character, Commitment, Discipleship, Doing Good, Drugs, Faithfulness, Obedience, Personal Holiness, Sanctification, Sin, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Common Sense & God’s Will

Today I’d like to share with you one of my biggest pet peeves about Christians. It’s this whole idea that God’s will for a specific situation must always be the logical, rational, “smart” plan of attack. Oh, I’ve heard the line of reasoning more times than I can remember. It sounds like this: “God gave us common sense, and so I should choose the path that makes the most common sense. I mean, God wouldn’t want me to do anything stupid, would He?” Once you’ve got this reasoning settled in your mind, then you can head right out and do whatever make the most sense to you.

Now, I’ll grant you that 2 Timothy 1:7 does say that God gives the Christian a “sound mind” (K.J.V., N.K.J.V.). The Holman Christian Standard translation even renders the Greek there as “sound judgment.” Furthermore, the Bible offers us an exceedingly practical and commonsensical book (Proverbs) on the subject of worldly wisdom. So, I’m not saying that you always have to check your brains at the door in order to choose God’s will. But what I am saying is that you’d be amazed at how illogical, irrational, implausible, incongruous, and inconvenient God’s will can be. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick tour through the Bible:

1. It made no sense to Cain to kill a defenseless animal just to bring an offering. (Genesis 4:1-7; Jude 11)

2. It made no sense to Noah to build a gigantic ark in a world that had never seen rain. (Genesis 2:4-6; Genesis 6:13-22)

3. It made no sense to Abram (Abraham) to leave his country and his family and travel to an unknown land that God would show him. (Genesis 12:1)

4. It made no sense to Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him up as a burnt offering atop Mount Moriah. (Genesis 22:1-19)

5. It made no sense to Joseph that it would be God’s will for his father Jacob to pronounce the patriarchal blessing upon Ephraim (Joseph’s youngest son) rather than upon Manasseh (Joseph’s oldest son). (Genesis 48:8-20)

6. It made no sense to Moses that God would want him to return to Egypt after forty years away and lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. (Exodus chapters 3 and 4).

7. It made no sense that God would lead Moses and the Israelites to the shore of the Red Sea, a place where Pharaoh’s army could easily close in behind them and trap them. (Exodus 14:1-12)

8. It made no sense to the majority of the people of Israel that God would want them to enter into the land of Canaan and fight against the giants who lived there. (Numbers chapters 13 and 14)

9. It made no sense to Gideon that God would want him to lead the people of Israel against the Midianites. (Judges 6:11-24)

10. It made no sense to Jesse that God would chose David (his youngest son) over all his other sons to be king of Israel. (1 Samuel 16:1-13)

11. It made no sense that the young David, armed with nothing but a sling and some stones, would take on the giant Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:1-54)

12. It made no sense to Naaman to go wash in the Jordan river seven times to cure him of his leprosy. (2 Kings 5:1-19)

13. It made no sense that God would allow Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to be thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:1-30)

14. It made no sense that God would allow Daniel to be thrown into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:1-28)

15. It made no sense for Jesus to command His disciples to get into a boat and row to the other side of the Sea of Galilee when a tremendous wind storm would prevent them from doing so. (Mark 6:45-52)

16. It made no sense to Peter to let down his fishing nets in the deeper water during the day when fish were usually caught in the shallower waters at night. (Luke 5:1-11)

17. It made no sense for Jesus to delay in going to visit His gravely ill friend Lazarus. (John 11:1-44)

18. It made no sense for God to pull Phillip away from a tremendously fruitful evangelistic work that he was doing in Samaria just so he could go and witness to one Ethiopian eunuch in Gaza. (Acts 8:4-13, 26-40)

19. It made no sense to Ananias for God to command him to pay a visit to Saul of Tarsus, a notorious persecutor of Christians. (Acts 9:10-19)

20. It made no sense to Peter for God to show him that he no longer had to abide by the dietary regulations of the Old Testament law. (Acts 10:9-48)

I trust that this list of examples makes my point. Actually, this list is not even remotely near being all-inclusive. You see, it’s quite common for God to mess up our neat, ordered lives by asking us to do things totally unexpected, things that don’t add up on paper.

It is during such times that we must step out in faith and do what God is asking. If your own logic keeps you from stepping out, you’ll never know the thrilling experience of watching God make a way where there seems to be no way. You’ll also miss out on the incredible blessings that can only be found in walking with God out on the edge.

Think of it this way: Your logic, human reasoning, and common sense will never take you to those God-ordained places where the human race is preserved via one family aboard an ark, you become the forefather of God’s chosen nation (Israel), you see the Red Sea parted, you come out unscathed from a fiery furnace or a lions’ den, you get cured of leprosy, you experience a miraculous catch of fish, you see Christ walking on the water, or you see Lazarus raised from the dead. Such illogical blessings only stem from you obeying illogical commands. Keep that in mind the next time you are faced with a choice concerning God’s will. I’m not saying that God’s will always involves the stranger choice, but there’s no denying that sometimes it surely does.

Posted in Choices, Courage, Decisions, Discernment, Faith, God's Will, Obedience, Reward, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Is Anybody Up There?”

Many of us have experienced times when we felt like the little boy who began his prayer by saying, “Hello, is anybody up there?” The times when God seems distant are bad enough, but the times when He seems downright deaf are even worse. Those can really try your faith.

When one of my two sons says, “Daddy, I want to talk you,” that child has my attention. He doesn’t have to beg for it. The mere fact that I am a loving father and want to hear whatever my child might deem worthy to discuss is all it takes. Okay, along those same lines, in Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus says:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)

You see, not only can God do anything an earthly father can do, He can also do the “how much more” part an earthly father can’t do. Oh, we like the sounds of that, don’t we? So, I could stop right there and have a nice little blog post. But the problem is that the title of this post is “Is Anybody Up There?” rather than “How Much More.”

I know what Jesus says there in Matthew 7:7-11. I’ve read it many times, preached from it many times, and heard it preached from many times. Unfortunately, though, I also know that on occasion I’ve felt like I was talking to the ceiling as I’ve tried to pray. I’ve asked and not had it given to me. I’ve sought and not found. I’ve knocked and had the door stay closed. What do we do with such times? How do we explain them? How do we keep our faith during them?

I think our best approach is to go back to Christ’s comparison of God to an earthly father. I’m sure there have been times when each of my two sons thought that I was distant or deaf when, in reality, I was neither. The misconception was simply the result of me not treating every one of those conversations like it was the singular most important conversation I would ever have with that child. Just because I didn’t feel the need to immediately rush to the child’s side, smother him with kisses and assurances, and grant any request he cared to make, didn’t mean that I wasn’t hearing what he was saying.

Coming at Christ’s promise another way, experts in the New Testament’s original Greek tell us that the Greek behind the words of Matthew 7:7-11 are best translated as “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” and “keep on knocking.” The teaching is that God doesn’t always immediately grant the giving, the finding, or the opening. Sometimes He only grants it after you’ve gone to Him with many, many repetitions of the same request.

One of my favorite memories involves my youngest son, Royce, and his request for me to take our family to McDonalds. The four of us had been on vacation for a full week, and we had enjoyed eating at a series of restaurants over the course of those days. Every time we had taken a family vote to decide where to eat, Royce had voted for McDonalds and been outvoted. But at the end of the week, as we were making our way back home in the Dodge Caravan, we decided to make yet another stop for another meal. That called for another vote, and so I said, “Alright, where does everybody want to eat?” Those words had scarcely fallen from my lips before Royce leaned up in his car seat in the back and said with every ounce of conviction he could muster, “MCDONALDS.” And what was my response to that? I just cracked up and said, “Okay, Royce, you win.” My thinking was, “Any kid who shows that kind of tenacity in making the same request after a week’s worth of rejections has got to be rewarded.”

I don’t know where all this finds you today, but maybe you’ve been praying and praying for a certain thing that God hasn’t granted yet. So, maybe you’re wondering, “Is anybody up there?” Well, God had me write this post for you. Yes, He’s up there. Yes, He’s listening. And, yes, He has heard all your previous prayers. He’s just waiting on His perfect timing to grant your request. Remember, if an earthly father can eventually get his kid to McDonalds, how much more can a loving, omnipotent, heavenly father grant your request?

Posted in Faith, Fatherhood, God's Love, God's Timing, Impatience, Patience, Perseverance, Prayer, Prayer Requests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something We Could Learn from a Parrot

In Queen Victoria’s Windsor Castle, there was a suite of rooms that were used by her personal chaplain. A private passageway connected the chaplain’s study to the Queen’s quarters. Oftentimes, the Queen would use that passageway to consult the chaplain on important matters. Sitting in the passageway was a pet parrot in a cage.

One day, as the Queen was returning to her quarters after a consultation, the parrot spoke to her. She couldn’t make out what it said, but she knew the tone was rather rude. Curious, she asked the chaplain what the bird had said. The chaplain was very much embarrassed and answered, “If you please, Your Majesty, I would rather not repeat it.” “But what was it?” she insisted. “Something I fear Your Majesty will not like; therefore I hope Your Majesty will excuse me from telling it.” By then, of course, the Queen’s curiosity wasn’t going to be denied. She said, “Come, I insist.” The chaplain then bowed himself and answered, “Since Your Majesty insists, the parrot said, ‘Go along, you ugly old woman!’” Upon hearing that, the Queen burst out in laughter and said, “Well, I am glad that there is at least one voice in the kingdom which is not afraid to tell me what it thinks of me.”

I once heard a preacher say, “Straight talk is easily understood,” and that line has always stuck with me. I am a firm believer that there isn’t enough straight talk in our society these days. We are masters at mincing words. Because we live in terror of offending others, we water down the truth to take the edge off it. This has made us a nation of conversational fakes where everyone is sheltered from uncompromised truth, a country where being blunt is too often looked upon as hate speech.

I have to wonder how God’s Old Testament prophets would fare in modern-day America. Take Amos for example. He called the ungodly women of the northern kingdom of Israel “cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1). I doubt that he could build much of a congregation with such preaching today. Jesus sometimes preached in that same vein as well. He called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:13), “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16), “fools” (Matthew 23:17), “serpents” (Matthew 23:33), and a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). That’s not exactly, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

I’m not saying that tact and diplomacy don’t have their place. As a matter of fact, they should be the basic rule that governs our words. My point is that we have swung so far in that direction that we’ve just about forgotten the value of straight talk.

So, what do I want you to do with this post? That’s simple: use it as an incentive to be more “real” in your conversations. If there is a problem, say so. If something needs to be corrected, speak up. If a change needs to be made, don’t keep to yourself about it. Vanilla words might allow us all to remain in our comfort zones, but they will never advance God’s work in this world. Sometimes you’ve just got to tell it like it is and let Him handle the fallout.

Posted in Communication, Courage, God's Work, Honesty, Influence, Ministry, Preaching, The Tongue, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Knows Your Size Exactly

The Cornish preacher Billy Bray was a well-known Methodist minister of another day. He was once approached by a Quaker who said in his Old English manner of speaking, “I have often observed thy unselfish life and feel much interested in thee, and I believe the Lord would have me help thee; so if thou wilt call at my house, I have a suit of clothes to which thou art welcome if they will fit thee.” And how did Billy Bray respond to that offer of being gifted a free suit of clothes? In his thick Cornish accent, he said, “Thank’ee, I will call, and thee need have no doubt that the clothes will fit me. If the Lord told thee that they were for me, they’re sure to fit, for He knows my size exactly.”

Wasn’t that a wonderful response? Yes, God does know our sizes exactly. Remember that Jesus said, “…the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). I wonder, have you ever truly grasped the full significance of that statement? Needless to say, a God who has every last hair of your head numbered surely has an incomprehensibly thorough knowledge of you. He knows what makes you tick, what appeals to you, and what’s in your wheelhouse. As much as you know about yourself, He knows even more about you.

This is why you must never be afraid of God’s plan for your life. Whatever that plan is, it will be your size exactly. That means that it will play to your strengths and make use of your talents and gifts. You see, you really are unique. God didn’t use a cookie-cutter approach when He created you. So, never try to be someone that you’re not. Just be yourself. That is, after all, the role you were born to play.

Posted in Change, Choices, Courage, Decisions, Desires, Faith, God's Omnipotence, God's Foreknowledge, God's Omniscience, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, God's Work, Individuality, Ministry, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Submission, Talents, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Cautionary Tale About Rebellion

Sixty-year-old Jan Davis was a professional parachutist. She was also involved in the dangerous sport of “BASE jumping.” “BASE jumping” is leaping off fixed places, plummeting toward the earth for a few seconds, and then pulling your parachute chord. The letters B-A-S-E represent the fixed places from which one can jump: B (buildings), A (antennas), S (spans, bridges), and E (earth, cliffs).

On October 22, 1999, Jan and four other jumpers were in California’s Yosemite National Park to jump off the 3,200 foot granite cliff known as El Capitan. They were jumping to protest the fact that the Park had made BASE jumping illegal in the wake of the six deaths and numerous injuries that jumpers had incurred in the Park. In the minds of Jan and her group, their jump would prove the safety of their sport. Jan’s husband had come along to film the event, and several reporters were also on hand.

Jan was the fourth of the five jumpers. She launched off the cliff, fell for twenty seconds, and then fatally crashed into the rocks. As it would later be learned, her chute had failed to open properly. Her husband and the reporters stood there stunned, having just watched Jan plunge to her death. The husband even had it on film.

I’m really not trying to be insensitive to the Davis family, but I think we can glean a spiritual lesson from Jan’s needless death. Over and over again the Bible warns against the sin of rebellion — such as rebelling against a logical law that has been enacted. Consider the following passages (all from the N.K.J.V.):

1. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry… (1 Samuel 15:23)

2. An evil man seeks only rebellion; Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him. (Proverbs 17:11)

3. There are those who rebel against the light; They do not know its ways Nor abide in its paths. (Job 24:13)

4. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)

5. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound in prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalm 68:6)

It is with these verses in mind that I ask you, “Are you, in some way, playing the rebel these days?” If you are, my next question is, “Do you really think that God is going to let your rebellion go unpunished?” If He did that, He’d become a rebel Himself, a rebel against His own written word. And since that isn’t going to happen, your wisest move is to quit playing the role yourself.

Posted in Attitude, Backsliding, Character, Choices, Coming Judgment, Decisions, Disobedience, Dying To Self, God's Holiness, God's Wrath, God's Judgment, Man's Freewill, Obedience, Personal Holiness, Rebellion, Repentance, Sin, Submission | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Yes, We Know That Man”

A missionary assigned to a foreign land zealously embraced his new ministry by promptly telling a crowd of natives about Jesus. He spoke of Christ’s love, compassion, and power to heal. As he spoke, he was surprised to see the people smile and nod their heads. It was as if they already knew all about Jesus.

Finally, at the end of his sermon, the missionary asked, “And how many of you have ever heard of this man?” Oddly, the entire crowd indicated that they knew of him. This puzzled the missionary and he began to further question them. What he discovered was that they all thought he was talking about a Christian doctor who had lived among them at one time and faithfully ministered to them.

That, Christian, is what you are after! To live such a life that the unlearned could so closely associate you with Jesus is the ideal. The apostle Paul described it this way:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, N.K.J.V.)

There’s an old gospel hymn entitled “Let Others See Jesus In You.” Christian, do your best to live out that ideal today. You’ll be amazed at the impact it makes not just upon you but upon others as well.

Posted in Character, Discipleship, Doing Good, God's Work, Influence, Ministry, Missions, Personal Holiness, Service, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment