Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kids Leave Home and Leave Church

Bewildered parents are sitting in darkness wondering what happened. They go over and over in their minds the things they went through raising their children. They took them to church every time the door was opened. They made sure their kids were involved in every single church activity. They tried to make sure their kids were popular even at church. Of course they wanted them to be popular at school also, but especially at church. After all, church was the place where their kids would be most likely to find good kids to hang around with. They did the best they could, but it just wasn’t good enough. These parents are broken hearted, terrified for their children’s eternal future, and have no idea of what went wrong.

The truth is they did everything they could to set their kids up in a social circle that would keep them from turning to the really bad things of the world. They never thought their kid would be the one to give up the church. ‘What happened?’, they wonder. ‘What happened?’

Well, the parents bought into a scam.
They were fooled into believing that a social circle was church.
They were fooled into believing that teaching their children to be good was good enough.
They were fooled into believing that the sin nature, the inborn trait to break the commandments was not really important.
They were fooled into believing that the way to win their children to the Lord was to forget fear of God, fear of hell, and teach the kids that ‘Jesus wants them to be happy’.

The parents looked at things from the view of this world. They wanted their kids to have:
wealth – to have all the things the rich kids had,
position – probably called ‘popularity’,
and a mild version of all the sinful pleasures offered by this world for their children,

The parents of these wayward children would have done well to have considered Moses, who refused:
The high position he had as the son of pharaoh’s daughter,
The wealth of Egypt (he was filthy rich)
The pleasures of sin (for a season).

If they had wanted the things of God for their children more than anything else the outcome would have likely been better. The sad truth is that very often, the parents have not rejected the things of the world themselves. They still want position, wealth, and the pleasures of ‘little sins’ that won’t really mess up their lives. They still haven’t admitted that ‘Sin take you farther than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keeps you longer than you want to stay’. (quote source unknown)
So, how are they going to teach such things to their children?

Kids are able to see when something is not really working.
The kids go to church;
They have a ‘salvation experience’;
They believe Jesus wants them to be happy.

Then, they begin to notice that Jesus has no power to make them ‘happy’.
Ultimately, they see Jesus as having no power to do much of anything.
After all:
Did Jesus make them part of the in crowd at church or school?
Or did He leave them as the dork or nerd that nobody really liked?
Jesus didn’t make their skin clear up,
or help them lose weight,
or cause them to grow taller,
or get their parents to dress them in the designer clothing of the month,
or any other thing necessary to ‘be happy’.

Kids are also able to see that the most religious people in the church face trials and disappointments.
Some of them go bankrupt.
Some of their marriages fail.
Some face illness personally or a close family member gets sick and dies.
Some suffer chronic illness.

Where is Jesus when all that happens?
If He can’t stop all that from happening, and He can’t make them popular and well liked, then what is the point?
Of course they are going to leave!

The truth is they are leaving the church because they have never really been to church. They have been to a social gathering, and they really didn’t like the circle of people there. Something was fake about it, and they picked right up on it. It is right to leave a way of life that is based on shifting sand.

Society is full of people who have given up on Jesus Christ, His church, and Christianity altogether. As my granddad’s third wife used to day, ‘The woods is full of them.’ At least mentally, they have given up on Jesus.
The truth is they really don’t know anything about the real Jesus or what He taught.
They have just given up on a manmade institution filled with rituals and ‘seat of the pants’ theology.
They have walked away from a failed institution filled with failed dreams and goals.

So, what can be done now? Is a ‘Great Awakening’ possible? Will the churches wake up and start preaching the truth? Some of them might, but most of them won’t.

One thing necessary is for Christians in general to come to an understanding that Jesus is NOT the author of the health and wealth gospel. Neither is He the author of the ‘Jesus wants me to be happy’ gospel.

Jesus wants His children to be obedient! Obedience leads to joy in the Lord, and it may/probably will lead to some true happiness in this world. But that happiness is not going to come from making you rich, beautiful/handsome, popular, and very successful. You may actually be all those things, but don’t count on it. Don’t count on being poor, ugly, and a failure either. Take the life Christ gives you, whatever it may be. Ask for help in changing things and circumstances that are bothering you. God is not the ‘god of ineffectiveness’. Ask and see what good does for you. Jesus does change circumstances and He is a help to all His children. However, Jesus is not a genie in a bottle who grants every wish.

Jesus wants His children to be thankful. Thankfulness starts with the individual believer. Unthankful parents have a hard time instilling a thankful attitude in their children.

Jesus wants His children to study so they won’t be taken in by silly theology like ‘give some preacher more money than you can afford so Jesus will give you a ton of money so you can join the super rich’.

Jesus wants His children to take up their cross and follow Him.
Ouch! Oh my goodness! I have got to be kidding…right?
Umm, no. I am not kidding. To tell the truth, that was not really what I personally wanted to hear either.

Jesus wants His children to tell the truth. And, above all else, tell the truth about Salvation. The truth is that there are two eternal destinations. One is heaven, which we all know about. The other is hell, a place we don’t hear a lot about. Unrepentant sinners go to hell. That is an unalterable fact. How cruel to avoid such an important truth when teaching children!

When I was small, I knew without a doubt that I was a sinner. Obviously, I wasn’t as big or bad a sinner as my brothers. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have been even that big a sinner if I hadn’t had those three brothers getting me into trouble all the time. Nevertheless, I definitely was a sinner. I heard the preacher say that sinners go to hell. Well, I was terrified! I positively did not want to go to hell. But, as a sinner, there was no doubt that was where I was going. So you can understand how thankful I was to hear there was a way to escape hell. I didn’t bother to question why there was only one way. I was just glad there was one way. Still, I managed to make myself miserable for quite a while before my little feet walked down that aisle and I made a public profession of my faith in Jesus Christ. It was definitely fear of hell that set me to thinking of a way to escape it. While I was worried about escaping hell, I really was not worried too much about how popular I was at church or school. I wasn’t even worried too much about getting better grades at school than at least one of my brothers. (The kid with the lowest grades got the most attention from my parents for the next quarter, and no kid in their right mind wanted more ‘help’ from parents with school work.) I had my priorities straight. Find out how to escape hell, and get that settled as soon as possible. (I think I was saved before my ‘aisle walking experience’, but that was what made it public and fully relieved my anxiety about hell.)

There are some today who think the concept of hell is too much for a child to handle. They are wrong. To learn about hell as a child is a wonderful blessing. It is the beginning of the fear of the Lord. It is the beginning of wisdom. It sets little feet on the road to salvation.

To learn of hell is the grace of God! The second verse of the song ‘Amazing Grace’ says,
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.’

It is the grace of God that teaches us to be afraid of hell! When we come to realize that we are headed for a place of torment, we are terrified. At least we should be.

It is the grace of God that gives our terrified hearts relief. There are no words to describe the ‘relief’ from knowing you are not going to hell. God ‘relieves our fears’ through salvation in Jesus Christ.

Then, after salvation as a small child, I was thrown into doubt about my salvation, which did plague me off and on until I was 30 years old. Doubts about salvation make for ineffective Christians. I would have probably had some doubts anyway, but my doubts began in Sunday School. Sunday School is another word for ‘lion’s den. It is a nice place to socialize and meet people in your own age group. It is at the very best, a place where you might hear something correct about Bible theology and doctrine. Or, you may get someone going over a printed Sunday School booklet that provides a mild lesson. On occasion, you may have a teacher who knows enough Christian theology to be an effective teacher. On other occasions you may have a teacher who intentionally teaches false doctrine. They have an agenda, and they are not bashful about carrying it out. The main point about Sunday School is that there are practically no controls on what is actually taught. I personally think that larger classes are better than smaller classes. Classes for families instead of classes segregated by age are another possibility. Children can understand far more than most people realize.

Christians – with or without children – need to understand that the job of the church is not to make kids or new converts happy and comfortable. Their job is to focus on the truth. And the truth is that the human race is in the middle of a war zone! The devil wants our children, and he is going to use any weapon possible to get them! Ultimately, the greatest help anyone can have is the truth. The truth is the greatest asset possible for building a life of satisfaction and contentment. It gives a solid foundation on which to base decisions.

It is the duty of EVERY Christian to know enough Bible theology/doctrine to recognize blatant error when they hear it, or see it. You may be thinking, ‘How can you ‘see’ theological error?’ An example would be seeing dancing on the stage at church.
The kids dancing may be having fun putting on a performance, but what on earth does that have to do with growing a strong Christian?

How about yoga in church? If someone wants to do yoga they should know it does have links to eastern philosophies/religion. Stretching and breathing exercises are not bad; they are healthy. But, mixing Christianity with eastern mysticism is sin! And what place does exercise have in church anyway?

Teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the job of the church. For the church to take a break from teaching and preaching for a yoga session or dance program is like a heart surgeon stopping in the middle of a heart transplant to dance around the operating room to an uplifting rendition of ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’.

Jesus Christ is the bridge between God and man. That is the message of the church. You cannot go to God the father except through Jesus Christ the Son. You learn about salvation through the Bible, Christian witnesses, and the church. All the garbage in the church today is like all the garbage on your television set. Let’s say you are watching a program that is totally appropriate and family friendly. But, the program is interrupted by ten commercials for every ten minutes of the program. The commercials are, for the most part, totally inappropriate. Many are even R-rated commercials, even though they are in a family friendly time slot. By the end of the program, 95% of the ‘good’ program is totally overshadowed by the trash that was thrown in with it. That is the way church is in many instances. The preacher may do a pretty good sermon, but it does not get top billing. It is not the focus of the ministry. The main focus of the church is ‘outreach’ through various programs.

The true measure of a church is the number of people who actually are committed to Jesus Christ, and continue in well doing. If 90% of children who grow up in church are leaving church, then something is not going well. .

Bringing worldly things into the church only brings in worldly people.
The church cannot really compete with the world.
Why go to church for yoga? You can get that lots of other places.
Why go to church for New Age philosophies watered down to fit into Christianity when you can get pure New Age theology outside the church?
Why go to church for dance? You can get that lots of other places, too.
Why go to church to socialize? You can socialize a lot of other places, and you won’t have the restrictions that apply to church socializing.
Why go to church to be happy? You can find worldly happiness much better in the world than in a church.
Why go to church to meet the right people? It appears that the ‘right people’ are much more common outside the church anyway.

Not only are children brought up in the church leaving the church, but new converts are leaving the church as fast as they come in. Why? It is for the same reason. Most of the time, they come into the church for the same reasons parents take their kids to church. They want a happier life. They have problems. They are looking for help in succeeding. They are looking for healing for a broken heart. They decide to give Jesus a try.
They NEVER let ‘grace teach their hearts to fear’. They do not understand they are in danger of hells torment! They think they are in torment right now! And maybe they are really in a sad state. But nothing is comparable to eternal torment.

Lost people need to understand the dire predicament they are in BEFORE they can understand what salvation means.

It is the job of Christians to be telling the world the truth. We might not get a net full of fish, but we might catch one now and then. It will change the eternal destination of each one that actually hears the truth and acts on it according to the instructions of Jesus. We don’t know what reform could come through our individual efforts.

To do this successfully, we must know the truth, and convey that truth in a way that is understandable.
To be effective, the truth must be presented without watering it down to make it more palatable to the individual. The natural man can’t understand the Gospel anyway. The Holy Spirit has to give understanding. ( 1 Corinthians 2:14, ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’)

The Gospel must be presented when the opportunity arises whether it is easy or hard. It must be presented with the same charitable love with which Christ Himself presented it to us. Christ did not compromise the truth. He was not distracted by trying to reach a position in society or the work force. He didn’t seek wealth as a prize or means to getting social or political position. He just continued in well doing.

Today parents are facing some churches that are totally counterfeit. They are also facing churches that have some sound teaching and theology; but it is mixed with worldly things, ignorant teachers, and even out and out heresy creeping in

Honestly, true converts are not leaving their Christian faith. We are told in 1 John 2:19 that, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.’ It is just so heartbreaking to think of all the time they spent in church, or at least thinking they were in church, and they never truly converted.

It is important not to set a goal of finding a perfect church. That isn’t possible. What you want in a church is a preacher who is committed to preaching the truth with compassion. I personally want the KJV Bible, and a traditional hymnal as the basis for the church music. Do your very best to avoid getting caught up in the dynamics of different personalities in the church. 1 Corinthians 2:2 tells us, ‘For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ,, and him crucified.’ Sadly, there is a lot of pettiness in most churches.

It is important to be committed to church attendance. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, ‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more, as ye see the day approaching.’ Remember that one of the reasons for church attendance is simple obedience.

Jude 1:3 tells us, ‘Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’

Whether the individual Christian is a parent, a grandparent, a new convert, or even a child like Samuel was when he served Eli, he or she is duty bound to earnestly contend for the faith. Do your best to be sure your church is not teaching a social gospel to anyone, much less the little ones. I know there will always be some who leave the church, but it could be a smaller number if they consistently heard the truth while they were in church. And, kids who grow up in a church that preaches a social gospel will do better to leave that type of church than to stay in it.

BUT, even kids growing up in a church that preaches sound Bible theology will gain nothing from it if they are NEVER IN 'BIG CHURCH'.  From the time your kids are three years old they should be sitting in church with YOU!  I do not care in the slightest if they interrupt the service, make noise, or do whatever kids do.  Preachers have microphones - let them turn up the volume if there is a problem.  With time and patience you will have a kid who sits through a church service without causing a disruption.  Do not be fooled into thinking 'there is time' because you don't have a clue about how much time there is for your precious gift from God to hear the truth with a heart that is willing to listen.  If your church frowns on you taking your child into church - then take your child into church anyway.  If it causes a big problem in the church then find another church.  The job of the church is to seize the opportunity to win the hearts of the children first and foremost.  The idea that 'the disruption might cause someone to be distracted' is pure garbage.  Your child is the one God is going to ask you about personally.  'Where is the flock that I gave to you?' is a question you will answer to God Almighty.  It is going to sound pretty lame to say, 'Well, Lord, I didn't want to disrupt the service so I let my kids play in the nursery and children's church until they were five years old; but then I moved them to children's church where they had a lot of good social opportunities; and then they had a youth service with youth minister who had no training but was very charismatic.'  

And, give your child credit for being intelligent!  The Bible says to understand and be saved we have to become as little children.  Guess what?  Little children are already little children.  Their conscience is not seared over.  They have an ability to hear the truth.  Personally, my kids NEVER went to the nursery - as in never even when they were tiny babies.  I kept them in the service with me, and if they cried I took them out personally.  I do not care in the slightest who might have been offended by me doing what was the very best for my own children.  There is a book called 'The dumbing down of America' or something like that.  What is far more evil is the dumbing down of the church.  It is lethal to keep children in 'sing a song feel good' classes when they should be in church listening to a real sermon and learning songs that praise God. 

Barbara Henderson

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Is There Room in Your Heart for Jesus?

Room in Your Heart is More Important than Room at the Inn
by Barbara Henderson

His name was Finbar. He was called Finny by his friends; Finn by his father; and always Finbar by his mother. Finny was a doctor. One day Finny volunteered for a dangerous mission to take and administer a vaccine to a plague ridden country. The country was also barbaric in their treatment of strangers, and without all modern conveniences.

Finbar’s mother carefully studied the maps of the country and located the most affluent area. She suggested that Finbar go directly to that area. There he would be able to find the finest accommodations available and the most civilized people in that country.

Finn’s father studied the maps of the country as well. He suggested that Finn go directly to an area where he would have the best chance at a hasty retreat should he not be received well by the locals.

Finny told his parents that personal comfort and safety were not his priority. He was going to take the desperately needed vaccine. Besides, the country was so poor and primitive that it really didn’t make a nickel’s worth of difference where he went in regards to personal safety and comfort. Finn chose to go to an area that had been hit the hardest by the plague. He said at least the people there knew they were sick, or in immediate danger of becoming sick. The people in other areas were still deciding if there even was a plague at all. They definitely would not be interested in a vaccine if they weren’t even sure there was an epidemic. Besides, he wasn’t going to live there permanently. He was just going to be there long enough to get his job done.

Do you sometimes wonder why Jesus chose to be born in to such a poor family? A few reasons are:
He went where the people were going to be most receptive to the way of salvation He brought. At least the poor knew they were poor. They knew they were looking for a way to make their lives better. Jesus went where it would do the most good.
And, what difference would have made to Him to have been born in a palace? He gave up heaven to dwell among men. Compared to His home in heaven, it didn’t make a nickel’s worth of difference if He were born into a very poor family or a very wealthy family. On a scale of one to a million, the poorest earthly families were a one, and the richest earthly families were a two.
Also, Jesus was not interested in securing a place in this world. He didn’t care if there was no room for them in the inn. His interest was/is in the heart of the individual. He doesn’t want room in any earthly establishment. He is interested in room in your heart. Every individual has the same choice. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? That is the room He wants, and you have the opportunity to give Him that room. He said, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ Revelation 3:20

Do you sometimes wonder why Mary laid Him in a manger?
Think about it. She was a very young mother. She was really pregnant, and she had just made a really long trip riding on a donkey. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone other than Joseph there to assist at the birth. Joseph was there, but he had just completed the same exhausting journey that Mary had. I think the precious baby was laid in a manger because His parents were simply too tired to hold onto Him. They probably laid Him in the manger and fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Also, there was the worship factor. When the shepherds came to worship Him, they didn’t worship the mother and Child. They worshiped Jesus alone. The Shepherds had just heard a message from an angel. They had just seen and heard a multitude of heavenly host singing praises to God. It is highly likely that they hardly noticed the mother at all.

Do you wonder why the magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
I have heard sermons on this many times.
Most agree that Gold was because He was a king. It also stands for purity
Frankincense was because He was a priest.
Myrrh was used as for embalming the dead. It was telling them He would die.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what Mary and Joseph did with the gifts. Possibly they sold them items because they needed the money to live. My guess would be that Mary sold the Myrrh first.
By the way, we think of three magi because of the three gifts, but there could have been more or less. In fact, I think there were more than three. Magi were important people. They probably traveled with all sorts of servants and body guards. Think about it. The magi were ‘kingmakers’. They predicted who would be a king. They were both religious and political in nature. It is much harder to imagine they traveled alone than to suppose they traveled with all the people and things that go along when dignitaries travel. The magi were very powerful to say the least, but they did not let their personal power or influence stop them from humbling themselves before the Lord. They made room in their hearts for Jesus. Wise men still do the same thing today.

It would be a good idea for all Christians to take a look at their hearts today. A Christian has made room in their heart for the Lord. Their eternal destiny is sealed. However, the heart may still be filled with garbage that needs to be swept out. Sins and hurts from the old life still have to be dealt with. As the Christian sweeps out sin, he has to take time to fill up the empty space with the things of Christ, or the evil will come back even worse than before. Look at this fictional example.

Charity is a nice young lady from a nice family. She works in the church with a sincere heart. She loves to sing, and may be a bit prideful about her lovely singing voice. One year she doesn’t get the parts she wants in the Christmas program. She thinks the solos were given to someone with an inferior voice just because of who that person was related to in the church. Charity decides to forgive the matter and just do a good job with the parts she has. That was a good choice on her part, but Charity didn’t go far enough in her forgiveness of the matter. She swept out her hurt and anger at the perceived wrong, but she didn’t fill up the empty space with the things of Christ. The little hurt gradually became a bigger hurt. By the next year Charity was seven times angrier about the matter than she had been the year before. She forgave it again, but still didn’t follow through. She swept the anger out of her heart, which was much more anger than the previous year; but she still didn’t fill up the empty space with the things of Christ. So it went on for several years until Charity’s entire attitude was changed from one of cheerful helpfulness to one of angry bitterness. That is how the devil works. He doesn’t need a big deal in anyone’s life to change their lives from a joyful life to a bitter life.

Are you brave enough to look in your heart and see just how much room you have for Jesus? Yes, He is in the heart of the believer, but is He living in very cramped conditions? Is your heart junked up with hurt feelings, bitterness, and secret sins? Today is the day to sweep these things out of your heart. And today is the day to begin filling the empty space with the good things of Christ.

That brings us to ‘charitable love’. That is the beginning of the good things of Christ with which we should fill our hearts. God’s love for us is charitable love. It is undeserved and unearned. I find it is much easier to accept charitable love than to give it. Thankfully, God’s charitable love for us is without end. We can never use it up. In fact, God enables us to love others like He loves us. I am positive that God will enable you to have charitable love for others because He tells us to do just that in John 13:34-35 which says, ‘A new commandment I give unto you That ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’

So, we are commanded to love others as Christ loved us. Although that may seem impossible when you think of some people in particular, it is possible through Jesus Christ. He would not command us to do something we cannot do. We are capable of such charitable love through Jesus Christ. The more room in your heart you make for Jesus, the more you will be able to carry out this commandment.

Make room in your heart for Jesus – be saved.
Make more room in your heart for Jesus – sweep out the old sins and the old ways and fill the clean space with charitable love.
The one who will be blessed the most will be you.

God bless you each one.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amazing Grace versus Amazing Unbelief

The argument could be made that the song ‘Amazing Grace’ is the most well known song of this age. It is likely the most loved hymn in the recorded history of Christians. Everyone knows the history of the song. It was written by a man with a dreadful past. While some may struggle with admitting the sins in their own life, this man was a sinner of the most evil sort. You see, he worked in the slave trade.

Whatever the origin of the song, it tells a most amazing story.

Verse one tell us salvation received. (Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.)

Verse two tells us that it was the grace of God that led him to understand he was separated from God by his sins; but was reconciled to God through God’s grace. (Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.)

Verse three tells how he gave God the credit for bringing him through deadly perils, and trusted God to take him through whatever happened the rest of his life. (Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come. Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.)

Verse four tells of how he believed the words of the Bible, and trusted God to do all that He promised. (The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope assures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.)

Verse five tells of faith that God will take those who die in Him to heaven. (Yeah, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.)

Verse six tells of eternity with Jesus. (When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.)

There is some controversy regarding whether all verses were actually written by John Newton, or added or revised at a later date. Regardless, the song tells the story of the salvation of a lost man, his progress through life, and his future when he died.

And, the song connects with Christian believers because the story of every individual believer is the same.
They come to understand that they are separated from God by their sins.
They are afraid, but God’s grace relieves them of fear of hell through salvation in Jesus Christ.
They know the Lord gives good things to His children.
They face trials and tribulations throughout their lives, but Jesus is with them through it all. They know that when their flesh and heart shall fail, or when they die, they will go to the better life of joy and peace.
They know that life is eternal, and will never end.

There is no doubt that the salvation offered by Jesus Christ is amazing.
God’s children trust Him to save them, be with them through this life, take them to heaven when they die, and provide an eternal home for them in a place of righteousness called heaven.

Now isn’t that amazing? I mean really amazing.

Which takes us to the next amazing item. It is simply amazing unbelief.

Let’s face it. Christians in general are firm in their belief that God will do all He has promised to them when they die. There may be a lot of nervousness regarding what rewards may or may not be received, but the promise of salvation is firmly believed.

Another marvelous thing about the amazing grace of God is that His love is unconditional. We don’t earn it, and we get to keep it eternally. A Christian may fall into terrible sin, but God’s love never wavers. God is not pleased with us when we sin, but His love is always the same. Good parents are the same. They love their child consistently, but they may hate some of the things their child does.

So, isn’t it amazing that Christians can trust God with their souls, but not with provisions and care for their daily needs? The most amazing thing in all time, creation, and eternity is the amazing grace of God Almighty. Probably the second most amazing thing in all time, creation and eternity is the amazing unbelief of people in general and of Christians specifically. Why do Christians trust God with something as big and important as our eternal destination, but have trouble trusting Him with the problems and trials that we face?

Amazing unbelief is caused, at least in part, by an incorrect image of God. It is easy to see Him working outside time and space because we don’t have any visual contact with where God lives. We do have the things of this earth staring us in the face all the time. Fighting amazing unbelief requires that we go beyond the concept of ‘Jesus loves me and will never leave me’. That is absolutely true. However, it does not end there. God is powerful. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all creation. Christians need to keep that in mind as well. God not only goes with us through trials, He has the power to change circumstances, give strength, and surprise us with unbelievable deliverance. Does anyone think the children of Israel thought God was going to part the Red Sea and let them walk through on dry land? If you don’t see a way out of a difficult or impossible situation, don’t tax your brain trying to figure out how God is going to resolve it. Just trust God to come up with a way out or a way through.

But, you may be asking, where does one get that kind of faith? The Christian who puts God’s words in his or her heart is going to have a better understanding of who God is and how He operates. The better picture you have of God, the more you will be able to trust Him. You may not know how, when, where, or what God is going to do, but you trust Him to do the right thing at the right time. Faith and trust in God are not based on thin air or psyching one’s self up to ‘believe’. It is based on the character and trustworthiness of God. It is based on what God has already done. It is based on what He has done that is recorded in the Bible, which is absolutely true without error. It can also be based on what God has done in the past for believers. And, it can be based on what God has done for you specifically. Obviously, if you are a Christian, God has saved you and guaranteed you a place in heaven with Him. However, the longer you are a Christian, the more things you will have to remember that God has done specifically for you.

It is pretty simple that the more you know about God the easier it is to believe Him during your daily life and during trials or sudden peril in your life. Set the focus of your life to know God and His glory better every single day.

We, as children of God, are important to Him! He will not ignore us. He is not required to answer our prayers on our time frame, or in a manner specifically dictated by us. However, He will not ignore us. He will help us!

When we go to God in prayer, we are going to our refuge, a very present help in trouble!
‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;’ Psalm 46:1-2

Our God does not dwell in an intangible abstract place in the mind or imagined corner of the universe. He dwells right here with us, and especially when we are in trouble.

You may be asking yourself, ‘As God is a real help, what can we expect from God? What will He do for me in my situation?’ You are looking for a resolution to a difficult situation, and you want to know what God is going to do and how He is going to do it. Well, the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the situation may be as great a surprise as when God parted the Red Sea so the children of Israel could walk to the other side without getting their feet wet.

We do know that God will provide you with a refuge. He will comfort you with the Bible truths you already know, and He will lead you to learn more of what He has to say in the Bible. I find that when I am personally going through something difficult, I will jump into reading the Bible, and God will distract me from my problem by just leading me through scriptures that have nothing specific to do with my problem. The Bible is filled with interesting things. I am amazed at how I can get so caught up in a story from the Bible that I am able to forget my problem for the moment. I usually find some application to the current dilemma in the end. But, as I was reading and studying, my mind was not on my problem.

In some cases, there may be a physical refuge that is also provided. Elijah took refuge in a cave, and God even fed him while he was there.

We do know that God’s strength will be with you. That’s a relief! I sure don’t have the strength to face a trial on my own!

We do know that God will help you! He is a very present help in trouble.

Even knowing these things, there is a danger that the weight of the trial will cause us to grow weary and faint. ‘Amazing Unbelief’, like a character from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, is always staring us in the face, nipping at our heels, staring back at us from the mirror, and in every way imaginable, trying to distract us and cause us to despair and faint. This evil character can be defeated by following the instruction to always pray and not to faint. (Luke 18:1) Actually, that verse gives us two options. We can pray; and by always praying we can avoid fainting. OR, we can skip praying and spend our time fainting, doubting, being fearful and altogether miserable and double minded.

To ‘always pray’ means there is a way of praying as we go through our daily tasks. While we physically do what is required our minds tend to stray from our tasks. We will find ourselves fretting and worrying. When we are ‘always praying’ we reject worry and continually turn to thanking God for His goodness and restating our request for help.

Amazing Unbelief can be defeated by doing the things Christ says to do. Jesus said. ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30 …

Amazing Unbelief weighs down the soul with burdens and worry. If you would exchange the burdens and work of worry and unbelief for rest for your soul and a burden that is light, take up the yoke of learning about Jesus. You will find yourself pulling or carrying a much lighter load.
Although this article began with the song ‘Amazing Grace’, I am going to end it with ‘Come Unto Me’. The song reminds that part of the amazing grace of God is that we can exchange the heavy burdens of this world for the easy yoke and light burden offered by Jesus. Jesus saves those who come to Him, which removes the eternal burden of hell. Then he offers us a light burden and easy yoke as we go through life. Don’t fail to take Him up on His offer. Don’t let ‘Amazing Unbelief’ torment you.

Come Unto Me

Hear the bless├Ęd Savior calling the oppressed,
“O ye heavy laden, come to Me and rest.
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”
Come unto Me, I will give you rest;
Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blessed.
I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might.
Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.
Are you disappointed, wandering here and there,
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care?
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast?
Bring your case to Jesus—He will give you rest.
Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame,
Stumbling toward the pit of hell’s consuming flame.
By the powers of sin deluded and oppressed,
Hear the tender Shepherd, “Come to Me and rest.”
Have you by temptation often conquered been,
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within?
Christ will sanctify you, if you’ll claim His best.
In the Holy Spirit, He will give you rest.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What do we Owe God Considering all that He has Done for Us?

How Interesting!
by Barbara Henderson

In the days of Ezra the scribe, there were those who did not want to see either Ezra or the people he led to prosper. In fact, they wanted him to fail. (As you probably already know Ezra had led a band of Jews to return to Jerusalem and live in the land of their ancestors. This was with the king’s permission.)

As Ezra attempted to accomplish what he had set out to do, those who wanted him to fail set out to stop him. They eventually wrote a letter to the king explaining what was going on with the Jews rebuilding and what they thought would happen if the Jews did actually rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and settle in to live there. Of course the concern of the writers was for the king instead of themselves. They really weren’t even thinking of themselves at all. They were just thinking of the good of the kingdom. Here is verse taken from the letter they sent to the king.
‘Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonor therefore have we sent and certified the king.’ (Ezra 4:14)

My thoughts about that verse have always been ‘sneaky dishonest self-serving politicians of that day are just like the ones we have today!’ However, I recently read a sermon by Spurgeon that looked at it differently. I am sure he saw the politicians about like I see them, but he had a different take on the application of the verse. Spurgeon said that believers:
Receive our maintenance from our King – God!
As receiving our lives and the things with which our lives are maintained from the King, we owe Him everything.
And, it is not right that we would allow our King to be dishonored!
So, we should take the things that dishonor our King directly to Him in prayer.

Of course taking the things that dishonor God to Him prayer is a wonderful solution. What Christian cannot sincerely pray for new converts or the safety of the unborn? Or, for the working family to be able to keep the things for which they have labored. It is a good thing to pray for our leaders to turn to God, or for politicians to be elected who love our God in the first place. It is a good thing to pray something like, ‘let evil policies come to nothing.’ Or ‘Build up the family and the church.’

It is harder to pray, ‘Forgive me for the sin in my life. Don’t let me dishonor You, my God, by my actions.’ I wonder if we as Christians are somewhat distracted by the evils we see around us to the point that we don’t see the sins in our own lives.

Proverbs 16:7 says, ‘When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’

Now don’t you find that very interesting? Doesn’t it make you wonder, ‘What if the individual Christian set out daily to please God with what he or she does that day?’ No one can make others set out to please God by their actions, but we can set out to please God with our own actions. We can seek to please Him by the thoughts in our hearts as well as the things we do throughout the day.

Just suppose for an instant that all true believers, starting with you and me, followed the instructions in Ephesians 5:30-32. ‘And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’

What can we do for Christ’s sake, considering all that He has done for our sake? It would be pretty interesting to see what big changes would occur in our own lives if each of us set out to live our lives for Christ’s sake. We do many things for the sake of those we love. We work and sacrifice in order to do right by those who depend on us, and to make life better for them. We set aside our own desires in order to do more than our duty to those we love and whose care is our responsibility. Shouldn’t we at least do the same for Christ’s sake?

What interesting changes would come into our lives and those around us if we were begin forgiving as we have been forgiven. I personally find that forgiveness is first a decision and then a progressive action. If we don’t decide to forgive then we wind up with bitterness. As usual with the things Christ requires of us, forgiveness is far more for our own benefit than the benefit of the one being forgiven.

Here is another interesting item to consider. According to the word ‘thanksgiving’ is used 27 times in the King James Version of the Bible. You should look them up and read all of them. Of course the verse that is probably best known to most of us is Philippians 4:6 which says, ‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’

If each of us began to follow this pattern in prayer, it would be very interesting to see the increase in answered prayers. What if we took the time we spend being anxious (filled with care and worry) and spent that same time giving thanks to God for the good things He has already given to us? In thanking Him for His wonderful goodness to the children of men, we are reminded that God gives good things to His children. This encourages us to present our requests knowing that God has answered prayers in the past. We have a written record telling us how God saved the Children of Israel from the Egyptians and continued to save them from the perils they encountered in the wilderness. His mercies fail not. Our God will not forsake us! Furthermore, we have written instruction to ‘boldly approach the throne of grace’! (Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.)

‘May you live in interesting times’ is a phrase commonly quoted as a Chinese curse. However, if the ‘interesting times’ were due to your personal decision to follow the instructions in Psalm 34:8 which says, ‘O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’, then any curse this world has would be turned to blessings.

The third chapter of Colossians is a very interesting chapter in the Bible. It speaks of ‘putting off’ the evil things of life before salvation, and putting on the better things of life as a Christian. I will give you a few verses here, but you should read the entire chapter. ‘ But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath malice, blasphemy filthy communication out of your mouth. (9) Lie not one to another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (10) And have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:’. Take a few minutes to see if you have truly put off the old things of your life before Christ and put on the new and better things of Christ.

Honestly, ‘interesting times’ are coming. The economy is in turmoil. Governments around the globe are scrambling to just survive. We really don’t have much input in how world affairs are being handled. Too much time spent considering the possible scenarios of the current political and economic situations can lead to anxiety, worry, and fear. It is better to do what you are able to prepare for an uncertain future, and then set your interests on doing the things that please Christ. So much is out of your control. Why not concentrate on something that is within your control? Concentrate on pleasing Christ, and see just how interesting your life will be.

By the way, something I find especially interesting is this. Are there problems in your family that you would like to see resolved? Is there a family member or close friend you are separated from by some evil action on his or her part? Do you want to make peace with them, but simply cannot? Read proverbs 16:7 again. ‘When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’ If God will make even your enemies to be at peace with you, don’t you think He will make those you love to be at peace with you as well? I just love that verse.

The song that seems to fit this article is ‘Jesus Paid it All’.
Jesus paid it all – all to Him I owe! Spurgeon was right. Our maintenance comes from God, and we owe Him everything.

Jesus Paid it All
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Cannot Compromise Your core Values

No Compromise
by Barbara Henderson

Today in America there is renewed talk of ‘bipartisanship’ in the halls of government. Control of the US House of Representatives was won by the conservatives by a remarkably large turnover. The senate was very nearly lost by the liberals as well. Prior to this election, the liberal Democrats controlled both the house and senate, and they pushed through evil legislation that caused America to basically vomit out many of the elected liberals. The current president actually called conservatives ‘enemies’, and said that if conservatives wanted to get on board with his liberal agenda they would be allowed on board, but they would have to sit at the back of the bus. He clearly sees conservatives as a bunch of ignoramuses unworthy of being given serious consideration. Now the tide has turned to a large degree. So, the liberals now are considering bipartisanship as a way to go forward with their agenda. You see, right and wrong have nothing in common. There is no middle ground. Liberals know that any compromise on the part of conservatives is a win for them.

So, what I would like to see congress do is absolutely deadlock any legislation proposed by the liberals and make repealing greedy intrusive legislation that has already been passed a priority. There is no room for compromise. To compromise is to lose.


Even more important than anything done in the United States Government, or any other government for that matter, is for Christians to clearly define the areas in which there can be no compromise. Then Christians who take their faith seriously must set their hearts and minds on never compromising these principles.

Now, I am sure that most of our readers already know these things, but we will go over them just as a refresher and in case there are some new Christians who have not clearly defined things yet.

First there are what is commonly called the Fundamentals of the Faith. Christians must understand these fundamentals, and understand their importance. When doing a search on the fundamentals of the Christian faith, you will find that wording varies and the number of fundamentals may vary, but the crux of the matter is the same.

Inerrancy of scripture – the Bible is without error. When placing one’s eternal destination on the line, it is important to know that you can rely on the source of your information. The source is God Almighty. God, who spoke the world into place and made man out of dirt certainly can have his Word recorded in a book exactly as He wants it recorded.

Pre-existence of Christ – Deity of Christ - He is of the Trinity.

Virgin Birth – Jesus was born of a virgin. Why do people wonder about that? God made the first man and woman without a father or mother.

Death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ has power over death.

Blood atonement – without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin

Another way, or additional way, of explaining fundamental Christianity is to say that it is:
Without Error – that means from the first word to the last word there are no mistakes. It is truth. There are many people who claim to accept the Bible as true, but then they turn around and begin to twist scripture, or allegorize it, or give it a meaning that is more acceptable in the society of the moment. Genesis 1:1 is true. From that point forward, you cannot escape that God has the power and authority to make and sustain the world. He is also the ultimate judge. Attempting to de-throne God Almighty is futile, so people imagine other ways ‘it might have happened’. Then, they believe their imaginations. Then they offer their imaginations to others as truth. Then, more people like that option better than the option offered by God. Thus, they can live in their imperfection, and still be acceptable for a candidate into a perfect heaven. A prime example of this is the Darwinian theory of evolution. Darwin, like many others, would rather have followed a cunningly devised fable than to do what was required to make peace with God. It is very simple. God made everything. God owns it. He gets to say who lives where. He lives in a perfect place. Imperfect beings are not fit to live in God’s home. It would no longer be perfect if even one speck of tainted matter entered into it – much less an entire imperfect human being. To be fit for the heaven of God Almighty, the individual must be made perfect. That is only done through Jesus Christ. Replacing God with manmade theology does not replace the truth. Those adoring creation instead of the Creator will still face the judgment. They will still be judged by the Creator. Neither creation nor any other man made philosophy will be able to keep its followers from the final judgment when God Almighty will sit as the judge. Only those who have Jesus Christ as their advocate will be allowed to enter heaven.

Sufficient – it tells us all we need to know to understand the way to God the Father. There is no need for additional revelation. The Bible is not set up to satisfy our curiosity. It is set up to give us the way to make peace with God, and give instructions on how to live a life that is pleasing to God. Things about which we are curious may be revealed when we reach heaven. I think they will be, but regardless, we will still have sufficient information available to live and enjoy

Relevant – the Bible has the words of life. The Bible is the book by which any person born in any era should live. People want to act as though the Bible is no longer relevant in today’s modern world. But in truth, the Bible is relevant and where applied, has a dramatic effect on the population of creation.

These are things on which there can be no compromise. But now what? It is one thing to understand the importance of these tenants of the faith intellectually, but it is another thing entirely to live as though you actually believe them. Do not trade the truth for a lie set up by intentional deceivers, or self deceivers.

If you accept Genesis 1:1, why would you have any problem with the entire rest of the book? Do not be one of those people who claims to accept the Bible as God’s word, but throws out any part of it in an attempt to stay in synchronization with the current wisdom of the day. I am sure you know someone who says they believe the Bible, but they also believe that theistic evolution is actually what happened. Or they believe the Bible, but not that Jesus died and rose again. Or they believe the Bible, but homosexuality is an acceptable life style. God made it all just like the Bible says. He has control over it all, just like the Bible says.

And, there are people who believe the earth was created by God, but that we have to sustain it ourselves through conservation and lifestyle changes.

And there are other people who claim to believe the Bible, but not the part that says it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment. After all, they reason, a merciful God wouldn’t really send anyone to hell.

And there are other people who claim to believe the Bible, but they add things to it. For instance, they know it says we are saved by grace through faith, but they can’t get past the prideful idea that they have to add personal works to the work of Christ on Calvary.

Honestly, it is time for those who really are Christians to truly give God the glory. The way we do that (at least in part) is to worship Him in how we live our lives. We should act as though we believe God. If God says something happened in a certain way, then true believers don’t try to adjust what God said to suit what current wisdom/folly says happened.
If God says to do something a certain way, then that is the way Christians should do it!
If God says not to do something in certain way, or at all, then we should take obeying our God seriously.

I think it boils down to this.
If God IS God – then follow Him!
If the gods of this world are god – then follow them!
It is time for the individual Christian to make up his/her mind.

If you are having trouble determining if some particular teaching is of this world or of God, then remember the rule of thumbs Evangelist Evan New used to use. He said, ‘If it’s doubtful, then it’s dirty.’ And that is really the truth. You can take the time to trace the origins of yoga, spiritualism, mindless meditation (not meditation on the scripture), materialism, witchcraft, manipulation of god/God through rituals (the health wealth gospel) and so on. But, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to do that, just toss it out with the trash. The more you know about God, the more you are able to spot false teaching from the first time you hear it.

So, remember the fundamentals of the faith.
Include in that these three – inerrant – sufficient – relevant.
These things are the launching pad for your Christian growth. You can’t step outside these boundaries and stay within the teachings of the Bible.
No compromise on Biblical accuracy and authority is the right way for Christians.

Of course these things are not the sum of Christianity, or Baptist teaching, or the teachings of any other traditional Christian organization or denomination. They are just the frame work on which other doctrines stand. Understanding the foundations of the faith is the starting point for anyone seeking to know and interpret rightly the doctrine of the Bible.

And, by the way, I do know that ‘inerrancy of scripture’ is the starting point for both the lists I gave you. It is just THE starting point for all Bible study. Some would probably debate me on this, but I think Genesis 1:1 is the key verse. It gives God the power and authority to manage creation and its inhabitants the way He does it. I think that first verse is the verse that gives credibility to the rest of the Bible. It gives us the power and authority backing up John 3:16.

The Bible tells us that God created the world and everything in it perfect in the beginning.
It tells us that man sinned, fell from grace, became imperfect.
It tells us that ‘un-regenerated’ man is separated from God by sin. (That means ‘you ain’t perfect’. In fact, nobody is perfect.)
Then it gives us John 3:16. But until someone understands they are separated from God by their sin, they don’t understand the need to be reconciled to God.

We cannot fulfill the ‘Great Commission’ if we don’t even know what the gospel that we are attempting to take to unbelievers actually contains.

There is a song titled, ‘Win the Lost at Any Cost’. The first cost to the individual Christian is to study and know what the Bible says. This is of course an ongoing leaning process. You don’t have to complete a Bible theology degree to be able to effectively tell others the way of salvation. You do need to work at knowing enough to be able to tell the truth and answer questions.

Here is a youtube link to ‘Win the Lost at Any Cost’.

There is a line that says ‘Souls are crying – men are dying’…. It is important that we get busy today.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A River Runs Through It -

Down on the Farm - A River Runs Through It
by Barbara Henderson

There we were, strolling through a garden like version of a primitive farm. All the animals were there, housed in modern pens. There were even special rooms for the older animals who might feel a bit of discomfort at the chilly fall weather. From my somewhat experienced eye, I noticed that the pens for the chickens and rabbits were virtually varmint proof. I think a grizzly bear could have broken in, but not likely anything else. (Of course on a REAL farm, there wouldn’t be any animals old enough to feel discomfort by the chilly fall air. They would have been eaten before they got that old!)

The gardens were without weeds.
The large animals out in the weather all had on weather proof wool blankets to keep them warm.
The flowers, while native species, were pretty obviously grown in a nursery and transplanted in the gardens. A few extra pumpkins were sprinkled through the pumpkin patch to give the impression of bounty.
And, there was a creek running through all of it. It was just gorgeous.
The creek was really in a boggy swamp. To walk the banks of that creek would have been impossible without getting wet at least knee deep. However, there was a nice boardwalk, so we strolled along and stayed nice and dry at the same time.

And, my thoughts began to wander. I imagined a place I would like to live. It is always about the same. I don’t know exactly where on earth it is, but it is a lovely place. There is a reasonable home on it, set up just like I want it. It definitely has a wood burning heater near a large glass wall that overlooks a small valley with a lovely creek winding through it. There is usually a nice spring running straight out of the hill by the house. The importance of a water source near the house cannot be overstated. That spring fills a little fish pond right by the window, and then the water spills over and runs down the hill to the bigger creek. While the view of the creek is spectacular, the house is well above any possibility of being flooded when the creek overflows during heavy rains.

Most people who think of living in the country think of some sort of farm land with its own water source. A beautiful babbling brook is necessary at the very least to make the picture complete. Of course there would be an absolutely huge porch. Part of the porch would be more enclosed more like a sun room. I could sit there in cooler weather, and still have the feeling of being outdoors. It could be sort of a solar collector on cool days. That would make the cost worth it. The rest of the porch would be used for sitting on balmy evenings. We would sip tea and watch for fire flies. I think we would also independently wealthy. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about any of the bills.

Actually living on a farm would be a hard life. The work would simply never get done. You wouldn’t have a lot of time to really enjoy the scenery. It could be a good life, filled with satisfaction and family love; but, it would still be a hard life. To make extra money, the ‘wanna be’ farmers would probably have some sort of exotic animal like llamas. They would plan to sell the wool, which might or might not work out. The llamas would definitely spit every time anyone got near them, and eat year round whether or not any wool was ever actually sold..

Then, I thought of something. Here on earth most people have some sort of dream idea of where they want to live, what sort of house, and how much land they want. Some of us will get pretty close to our dreams. Some of us will never even come close. For those who achieve their dream living place, it will only be a temporary place. Everyone will eventually leave their earthly home and go on to their eternal home. For those who have answered the call of the Holy Spirit to repent and turn to Christ, there is a wonderful future beyond this life. There is a real place called heaven, and that place will be the home of all Christians. I think all the inhabitants of heaven will have view property. There won’t be a place there that isn’t beyond anything we have seen, or heard about, or conceived in our wildest thoughts. The very last chapter of the last book of the Bible tells some of the details of that wonderful place.

If you are weary today, or just a little tired, open the Bible and read the last chapter of the last book. I love a happy ending.

Revelation 22
1And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Don’t you just love it? But if you need a little more cheer, listen to this Gospel Medley on youtube
I’ll Fly Away and several other songs.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Are You Brave Enough to Lead With Your Heart?

Lead With Your Heart!
by Barbara Henderson

Well, I thought he could have won first prize at a nerd of the year contest. On the other hand, his wife thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Other than that, she had really good vision, so I always supposed it was some sort of miracle that caused her to see him that way. Anyway, I never told her the truth. I mean, why burst her bubble? Thinking he was cute probably helped her cope with all the stuff that goes along with being a pastor’s wife

Of course, choosing a preacher shouldn’t be about how he looks. It should be about finding a man who knows what the Bible says, believes it with all his heart, and is able to communicate Bible truths effectively to his flock. Evan New was that sort of preacher. Honestly, he was that sort of preacher from the time I first met him when our children were young. Evan and Judy had a little boy and girl. Jerry and I had a little boy and girl. Our kids were about the same age. We were about the same age. It was a match made in heaven. Well, there were some problems associated with youth. No, I don’t mean in our kids. I mean in us. We were young parents trying to raise kids in a rough world. Young people usually have some rough edges that have to sort of be ground off by the years. You just learn better ways to get things done than a full head on attack. Evan was definitely ‘fired up’ for the Lord. He could preach a hell fire sermon with the best of them. He could also be a bit – well - overbearing even. I can say that because I loved him dearly as I love my own three brothers. There was something extra-ordinary about him that made him special, and a cut above many preachers and Christians. In addition too having sound theology and the gift of communications, he had a genuine love for people and lost souls. Ultimately, through some very hard situations, he excelled and grew as a Christian. I think it was because he led with his heart. His love of God, love for his family, love of his flock, and love for lost souls drove him to continue in well doing. His heart was never callused in spite of some terrible disappointments and personal tragedies. It was always tender and ready to reach out to a lost sinner or fellow believer in need. Like many people, he also experienced some triumphs and very great joy. (For instance – he had Jerry and me as members of his flock! Ha – ha – that’s a good one – I just wish Evan was here to read it!) I suppose something that helped Evan keep a tender heart was remembering God’s goodness instead of focusing entirely on the hurts that came into his life.

Evan died of a heart attack four years ago. Putting all the medical reasons aside, it isn’t that surprising. You see, Evan led with his heart. His heart took a constant beating. I think it just eroded away until there wasn’t enough left to sustain earthly life. In spite of many hard things that happened to him and his family, he never built a shell of self protection around himself. He continued to love others as Christ loved them. He continued to preach the Bible. He did not grow weary in well doing. That kept him going even though his body was very weary. So he died, and went home to be with the Lord. Of the four of us, Jerry, Barbara, Judy, and Evan, Evan was the first to see ‘Heaven’s Bright Son’ in person. (see the song at the end of article to clarify allusion to ‘heaven’s bright son’)

It seems that it is not uncommon for effective preachers of the truth to die young. They all face the same dilemma. They start out innocent and zealous. Life throws some brutal punches at them. Then comes the decision. They must answer this question. ‘Will I build a shell of protection around myself; or, will I continue to love one another as Christ loved us?’ If they go on and lead with their heart, then they will continue to grow into a greater preacher and servant of the Lord. If they build a wall around themselves, their effectiveness as a preacher will be diluted.

It is not only preachers who have that decision to make. Every individual Christian must make the same choice. I know of a young man who had that choice to make. I never met him of course, as he died June 6, 1944 on Omaha Beach. It was my husband’s uncle. He did his duty that day. He made it ashore, got his men and equipment to the relatively safety of the cliffs, and then returned to rescue wounded until he was killed. (I personally have spoken to his commanding officer, Franklyn Johnson, who is still living at this time, to validate that story. Franks’ book “One More Hill’ has just been republished )
I am sure he heard the cries for help from the wounded, or saw them struggling to reach safety. His head might have said, ‘Poor guys. Sorry they are stuck out there in the danger zone.’ But his heart was leading his head. He saw the need, set aside personal safety, and set out to save as many as he could. He got himself killed, but he saved some. Leading with your heart is definitely not the easy or safe way to go through life!

Every Christian has that choice to make. Will life’s upsets cause you to build a shell of protection that at least gives the illusion of safety from hurt? Or, will you follow the example of Christ and continue to lead with your heart even when you know you may get hurt again and again?

It is easy to say, ‘Well, I’m going to lead with my heart. I’m going to be Christ like.’ It is much harder to actually do it. After you make that decision, you are still going to face the same crowd at work, the same family members, the same church members, and the same rules and regulations that you find frustrating. The only thing that will be different is you.

Don’t confuse ‘leading with your heart’ with compromise. Christ led with his heart, but He never compromised Truth and right. His mind was on the will of the Father.

To lead with your heart, set your mind on the things of Christ instead of the things on your own mind. Christ came to seek and save the lost. That is our commission. Problems arise when disappointments, hurt feelings, or even just calluses developing over times of repetition. Just as a hand develops a callus from repetitive tasks, our hearts can develop a callus from repeating the same message. We give up on certain people, certain changes, certain blessings just because we ask so many times without receiving the answer we are seeking. Our hearts become callused instead of tender. If a callus on a hand is worn away, the tender skin is exposed and it hurts. When the callus remains, there is no pain, only sweat from labor. That is the way some Christians approach evangelism. They invite the world to come to Christ, but if they refuse the invitation, there is no real pain on the part of the one extending the invitation. There is a callus over their heart.

Leading with your heart is hard. It requires that you turn away from yourself and turn toward Christ. Self denial is never easy. But it may be even worse in this case, because not only are you denying yourself, you are venturing into dangerous territory. You may live a life without persecution for your faith. On the other hand, you may experience persecution that even leads to death. It might not be pretty. It is highly unlikely that you will get off entirely free. It will cost you something to follow Christ with your entire existence. It may be as small as being ostracized from people you used to see socially. It may cost you job promotions. It could cost you your family. It could cost you your life through martyrdom or through heroic actions taken to save or help others.

When Christ was on the cross, He was still leading with His heart. He forgave the penitent thief. He asked forgiveness for those who crucified Him. In the midst of persecution, mild or severe, someone leading with his/her heart will say, ‘Well, this hurts me, but it is worth it because it pleases God.’ (Of course I am not talking about self inflicted suffering. I am speaking of the suffering that may come to you through doing the things Christ leads you to do.)

Self preservation inclines us to allow calluses to grow over our hearts. Charitable love requires that we do not let this happen. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, ‘and now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.’ Some translations translate it as faith, hope, and love. I think it means charitable love – a love that is undeserved – but bestowed anyway through charity.

Now, I am speaking/writing expressly to those who already believe, which includes me. Charitable love is what enables us to lead with our hearts. Of course the sinners of the world don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve to be asked into the family of God even once, much less repeatedly. It is only by charity that they are asked in the first place, and only by continued charity that they are asked repeatedly. (We were once in the same boat.) If we allow our hearts to become callused, we can still go through the motions. We can still invite people to come to Christ. We can still live a life that adheres to all the rules set for us through Christ’s example. We can still do a lot of things right. But, our effectiveness is drastically lessened unless we keep our hearts tender. Only tender hearted people can lead with their hearts.

It is a natural process for calluses to form on hands because of hard work. I think it is a natural process for calluses to form over the heart of mankind, including believers. For a callused hand, there are products that can be used to eat away or dissolve calluses. For the callused heart, there is an abrasive product that can be used to wear away the callus and make the heart tender again. It is the world of God. God’s words have a power beyond human language. The words of God proclaim the truth. They proclaim love, hope, joy, peace, contentment and many other things. These good things of God can erode away the calluses over a believer’s heart. Or, the same words, sharper than a two edged sword, can cut away the calluses in one fell swoop. That appears to be what happened to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. There he was, a sinner with as hard a heart as ever was, traveling down the road of self justification. The next minute, there he was, face to face with the Lord! I would rather not find myself in a situation like Paul did. Never the less, I don’t want a callused heart. I want to follow the instructions in Ephesians 4:32 which say, ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted; forgiving oneanother, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’

I have already mentioned that there is a cost to leading with your heart. Count the cost for yourself. We can’t know exactly the price that will be paid by the individual, but we do know that it will be costly. Now, let’s count the cost of NOT leading with our hearts.

Can we effectively deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Jesus with a callused heart?

Can we effectively lay down our own lives to follow Jesus if our hearts are hard?

The cost of hard-heartedness seems to be ineffectiveness. It means our lives will count for nothing. The things of this world are temporary. They will not be going to heaven with us. If we have laid up no treasure in heaven, then we will have lived a life without any lasting effects. By the precious blood of Jesus, we can still enter heaven, but without rewards.

So, I want to ask all of you to hear the cries of the lost like the soldier heard the cry of the wounded on Omaha Beach. He went to their physical rescue. Christians should hear the cries of the lost souls. We should go to their rescue with a heart that is tender.

I have two songs that seem to fit this article.
‘Rescue the Perishing’
‘Be Thou My Vision’

‘Rescue the Perishing’, a song that spurs Christians to tell the lost that Jesus is able to save them.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

Be Thou My Visions – a song that encourages us to keep our eyes on the Lord.
also youtube

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prepare for Tomorrow by Enjoying Today

Can Just Enjoying Today Prepare us for Tomorrow?
by Barbara Henderson

‘Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with they might;’ Ecclesiastes 9:10a

There has been a great deal said recently about the uncertainty of the future. Economic collapse is predicted. Food shortages are predicted. Lawlessness is predicted to increase. Persecution of our Christian brethren is on the rise, and there is legitimate concern that it may be invading even the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ It seems foolish not to prepare. And I am not talking about just storing 3 extra cans of chili and a box of powdered eggs in the pantry. Food storage, self defense, mobility, grab and go bags, at least three plans for each potential disaster should be on the top of everyone’s list of things that must be done before next Tuesday. Or, should they? Let’s look at things from a slightly different angle.

Why not enjoy life right now?
Why not eat, drink, and be merry today?
After all, we don’t even know if we have tomorrow.

So, let me propose a slightly different approach to preparedness. Be prepared to enjoy life! Take it one day at a time. Follow your interests. Follow your opportunities. You might be surprised at how much these things will help you in being prepared for whatever the world throws at you.

You could start like this.

First, consider your duties. Your first allegiance is to God, then to your family. For most people there is a job that requires a lot of your time, and your duty is to do a good job, whether you like the job or not. If you are the homemaker, then you have a lot going on that must be done repeatedly. (By the way, if you are in a situation where one person in the marriage team works outside the home, and the other stays home to care for the family and manage the house, then the duty of the one who works outside the home does not stop when he/she walks through the door after a hard days work. That person is still required to do whatever needs to be done to make the home run smoothly.)

But then what? No matter how busy your schedule, there will be a little time that you are able to be selective in what you do. The choices you make then can enrich your life and help you be prepared for the future, both mentally and materially. The point is to not be frivolous or unkind in how you spend a few extra minutes now and then, but rather to be industrious in exercising your mind and body. You never know how something learned today, no matter how unimportant it may seem, may be a ‘lifesaver’ tomorrow.

Now, consider your likes. What is something that you sincerely and consistently enjoy? I enjoy spending time with my family. I just like to be part of their lives. What this requires on my part is setting aside how I would probably manage the day if it were just me, or just me and Jerry. I do what the group wants to do, or needs to do. This has put me out of my comfort zone on many occasions. For instance, if you have been reading my articles long, you know that my family goes camping fairly often. When I was a child, my family went camping. Honestly, while I love the great outdoors, I love indoor plumbing more. If it were just me, I would definitely be a ‘picnicer’ instead of a ‘camper’. A few hours of communing with nature would be sufficient for me. I would especially enjoy it if the weather was lovely and I had my camera. I would take photos all day, and go home and view them on my computer that evening. However, in learning to camp I have gained some survival skills that would be helpful in any primitive environment. I have also learned to enjoy something that was not really my cup of tea to begin with. That in itself is a survival skill that is more valuable than most skills. Adaptability cannot be overrated as a survival skill. (An extremely important thing you can learn while camping is how to consistently build a campfire under a variety of conditions. You absolutely cannot overstate the importance of being able to efficiently build a fire. The time to learn that skill is long before you actually need it. Cooking on a campfire is another skill that needs to be learned before you actually need it. A hint on cooking is to put your coals from the main fire in a small ring of rocks that will hold your skillet just above the coals for the actual cooking.)

Many years ago, my mom asked me to go with her to take oil painting lessons from a local artist. He was a very fine Christian man, an artist with not only an ability to paint, but an ability to teach that skill to others. He gave lessons from his home. His wife worked at a day job away from home. To mom’s old fashioned way of thinking, it just wouldn’t look quite right for a married woman to be in a man’s house when his wife was at work, even if he did give art lessons. So mom asked me to go with her and take lessons. I agreed because I liked to spend time with my mom. Well, guess what? I absolutely loved the lessons. Oil painting is something that I love doing even now. So, I got a twofold blessing there. I spent time with mom and I learned something wonderful. The principles that apply to oil painting (color, composition, perspective) apply to many things that we deal with in our daily lives. They have been helpful in everything from how to put together a nice looking clothing outfit to how to design/decorate a room that is functional and looks nice as well. I didn’t need to read those books that came out a few years ago on what colors to wear together and how to dress for your size. And the books on makeup – I just always go with the theory that ‘any old barn looks better with a coat of paint’ and slap on a little foundation and a few other things in the morning.

I could give you many examples of things that I did for the purpose of just spending time with my family or one family member that were out of my comfort zone. I usually enjoyed whatever it was that we did, but often I learned to do and even like something that I would not have normally tried as well..

Here are some examples of things that people I know have done that provided them with a lot of enjoyment at the moment, taught them new skills, and helped them ‘be prepared’ for the future. (By the way, changes and disasters are coming. We just don’t know what, when, where, why, or how.)

My father in law retired from his job. He had time on his hands. He began to grow a garden. Before retirement, he thought that it was his Christian duty to mow down anything and everything that dared sprout on his property. He could mow at midnight during the dark of the moon without fear of mowing down anything that shouldn’t get whacked with the lawn mower because everything had already been whacked! All he had to do was avoid running into the bricks on the house. But, with time on his hands, and opportunity, he started to grow a garden. It turned out that:
He grew most of the produce for his household for years.
He ate foods that were fresher and healthier.
As his health began to deteriorate, he had incentive to keep on working at growing a garden. Between football and gardening, he stayed busy up until the very end of his life.
In becoming a gardener he learned a useful skill and enriched his life besides.
He was a hands on sort of person. He had the time to garden. He had the place to garden. A good neighbor offered to lend him a tractor to begin with. He stepped out of his comfort zone and into gardening. His hands found something to do and he did with his might.

Because of all the produce that was suddenly available for ‘free’, my mother in law leaned the skill of canning vegetables and making pickles. Don’t discount that as unimportant. She was frugal with her money anyway, but this allowed her to save a little money on food that she then had available to spend somewhere else. My mother in law had the time, and the opportunity. She stepped out of her comfort zone and into ‘produce management’. Her hands found something to do and she did it with her might.

My brother Wade was invited by a very good friend to go visiting/soul winning at a local county jail. He went to spend time with his friend. An ulterior motive was to watch over his friend, as my brother wasn’t quite sure that his friend would be safe working that closely with prisoners. Then, he saw the need of the prisoners and now has his own prison ministry. His hands found something to do and he did it/does it with his might. ( to learn about Wade)

My mom wanted a way to make extra money after dad died. She heard about raising hypoallergenic Siberian Forest Cats. She took a leap of faith and got herself a male and female cat. (Actually, my son bought her the cats. He prefers to tell people that he set his gramma up in business – and he doesn’t like relatives teasing him that he set his gramma with a cat house.) She has enjoyed the company of the cats, and sold two litters of kittens. This would not be for everyone because it does take a lot of time, and the money is not that much. However, given mom’s circumstances, the money and company are sufficient for the effort. This was definitely out of mom’s comfort zone by about a million miles, but it was something her hands found to do, and she did it with her might.

There are two important things to look at when considering how to spend your time that is not already committed to fulfilling the things you are bound by duty and love to do. I don’t know which is more important, but the things are:
opportunity, and

What are you inclined to want to do? As I mentioned, I am inclined to want to spend time with family. If they invite me to do something, then I am going to do it, and make an effort to be an enjoyable companion, and enjoy whatever it is that we are doing. It doesn’t always work out as well as I would like, but I don’t want to ever regret missing the opportunity. There are things that you are inclined toward doing as well. What are these things?

What opportunities present themselves? I will give you a big word of advice here. An opportunity is not necessarily, even not likely, to be something that will promise to make you a ton of money immediately. Just quit looking at ‘opportunity’ like that. It is more a chance to do something you could/might enjoy, and learn something at the same time.

Then there is adaptability. Little things crop up every day that require you to adapt to something that is slightly different. It can be as small as adapting to Lipton tea instead of Luzianne tea according to whatever is available or on sale. Or maybe you have to adapt to Coke instead of Pepsi, or (perish the thought) you have to take a thermos of coffee instead of stopping in at Starbucks. If you can set a pattern/paradigm of adapting to small changes as cheerfully and quickly as possible, then you are practicing for surprise changes that are coming in everyone’s future. The quicker you adapt, the quicker you have set a ‘new normal’ in small situations, the better you are prepared to adapt to bigger changes in your future.

So, we are up to three things to keep in mind in order to be prepared:
• Inclination
• Opportunity
• Adaptability
I really couldn’t say what order of importance these three things should be in.
An important point is that even though these three things should be considered, they must not over shadow the fact that preparing for the future requires actually living like the Christian you profess to be on a daily basis. That means treating others the way you want to be treated. Loving others the way Christ loves us. It means actually doing the things that Christ says to do.

‘‘Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with they might;’ Ecclesiastes 9:10a

There well may be a lot of practical things that you find to do that are specifically related to preparedness for hard times or social turmoil or economic downturns. There will likely be more opportunities to just learn and do things at a particular moment in time. You will be surprised at how what seems like just a way to pass the time today will be very helpful to you tomorrow.

Enjoy today, and thanks for reading my article.

Barbara Henderson has a new DVD useful for building vocabulary in infants and toddlers, understanding concepts such as over and under, or help for those learning English as a second language.