Category Archives: challenge

Posts that step on our toes.

Wanna Buy a Truck?

downloadThere’s been a battle raging for some time in Christian circles about the drinking of alcohol—I should clarify and say among born-again believers. It’s quite fascinating to me because I grew up in a home that had no alcohol in it, even though we faithfully attended a church that used wine for communion. (I take that back. Dad kept a bottle of whiskey for the cows when they got sick!) On the other hand, my husband grew up within the same denomination in a family that was over-the-top faithful but his father enjoyed a drink fairly occasionally.  In fact, as a boy, it was Tom’s job to bring the beer up from the basement and put it in the fridge.

We were both born-again later in life and, after we married, we were soon involved in an independent Baptist church. The thought of having alcohol in our home never crossed our minds.

BUT, the kerfuffle about drinking alcohol is alive and well and probably always will be. Here’s a thought:

A friend wants to sell you his truck…

“You wanna buy my truck?”
“Well, maybe.” You’ve seen the truck.  It’s not in great shape but you really can’t afford much else. “Is it in good shape?” you ask.

“Well…” Your friend hesitates a little as you both walk over to the truck. “You can see that there’s some rust spots on it but I’ve patched most of those.” The truck looks like a spotted elephant and you’re not sure if the truck was originally gray or if that’s all Bondo. “The brakes stick sometime and give out occasionally, but it’s never happened to me going downhill. There’s a little gas leak and the transmission has a few bugs in it. The right rear lights are out but that’s not a big deal.” He stops and hesitates.

You look at him doubtfully. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Well, somethings wrong with the steering wheel.” He chuckles.  “To say it pulls to the right is an understatement.”

Are you going to buy his truck? If you have any sense you’ll run in the opposite direction!

After Solomon gives instruction about gluttony, greed, and dangerous women in Proverb 23, he teaches about alcohol.

Who has woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, wounds without cause, red eyes—“they who linger long at the wine…who go in search of mixed wine” (Proverbs 23:29,30).

Solomon’s warning? DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT! It will bite and sting.  You’ll see strange things and say even worse. You will be out of control and, worse of all, you’ll go back for more (Proverbs 23:31-35).

Does the Bible forbid the drinking of alcohol? Not that I can see—it just tells you how foolish it is to get entangled into its web of woes.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging:
and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1

So…wanna buy a truck?

Lessons from Brio

51Q5LV7ahpLMy mother-in-law was Swedish and she lived her roots in her baking, nick-knacks, Christmas and even color schemes. Blue and yellow were her favorite colors! Even her pens came from Sweden, but one of our children was blessed every Christmas and birthday with Brio, the Swedish made wooden train track.

As I played on the floor with my grandson, putting together the track (or I should say, embellishing my son’s creation!) I realized how many lessons are in these little wooden pieces!

  1. They’re made of wood and they don’t bend! How often am I like that track, forcing MY way instead of being mold-able in the Master’s hand?
  2. Some are bent, and if you put all bent pieces together, you get a circle that goes nowhere. That’s a great picture of my life when I’m going my own way.
  3. Some are straight, but without the bends, my track will not be complete. God wants to take me on HIS path. It may include twists in a direction I don’t want to go!
  4. Connecting the pieces is not always easy! I need to get from one track to the next but the pieces don’t always fit! God’s plan includes pieces or people of all shapes and sizes! We’re not all straight pieces! It’s often that unusually shaped piece that is necessary to complete the course!

  As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. Psalm 18:30

Brio will break if it is pressed or pushed upon too hard. Then the piece may become unusable. That is not God’s plan for our lives! What is He doing right now in your life which may hurt or be uncomfortable or make no sense? Maybe you need to sit back and let Him plan the direction He wants to take your “track.” Believe me, His plan will be perfect and so much better than any we could come up with! Only God sees the beginning AND the end!

The Pot’s Prayer

woman making clay pot
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Thank you, dear Potter, for choosing this lump of clay. Thank you for molding me into Your creation. Your design will be perfect, completely according to Your plan. Thank you for Your tender touch. I know the push and pressure of your gentle hands will make me better—more of what You envisioned for me.

I’m sorry when the bubbles of my own sin mar Your ideal. Forgive my pops of anger, frustration, selfishness. and self-will. I’m sorry that they make You work twice as hard to create Your masterpiece. And I’m sorry when this clay has a mind of its own, wanting its own way instead of Your perfect one. You know all.  You see all. You’ve been there from the beginning and have already seen the end, so help me to trust You as I spin on Your wheel, for all I see is a blur.

I’m sorry for those hard lumps that stubbornly push to the surface and rip blemishes into my image of Your formation. Thank you for applying the Water and working so diligently to smooth the rough places. Only You can make them disappear. I spin in wonder and awe at Your amazing patience and perfect skill.

Oh, dear Potter, press me, push me, stretch me beyond my limits to Your possibilities. And when Your task is complete and the fires forever set me as Your perfect pot, please use me for Your purpose. Fill me with Your cool Water that I may pour it out in serving others according to Your precious will. I am Your handiwork. You have fitted me for Your use. I have no other purpose than to please You! Help me to make it be so.

 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter:
so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah 18:4

 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay:
for shall the work say of him that made it,
He made me not?
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it,
He had no understanding? 
Isaiah 29:16

Six Hours—When Time Stood Still

selective photo of teal cross decor
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The world may rush on by today not remembering why they have the day off, but Christians know, or at least they should. Good Friday—the day the Son of God died—is truly good because it was on that day that Satan’s chains of death were broken. All eternity hinges on this day—the day our sin-debt was paid for on that Roman cross!

The world may try to obliterate any remembrance of God. They even change the name of time itself from B.C./A.D. (Before Christ/Anno Domini, or the year of our Lord) to B.C.E./C.E., but the date itself cannot deny the fact that something extraordinary happened over 2,000 years ago. But why can’t we get it exactly right? Why must the calendar be adjusted every four years by including one extra day during Leap Year? Aren’t we sophisticated enough count our minutes and days to match the exact rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun?

Perhaps someday we will have yet another calendar which will accomplish the elimination of Leap Years, but as I was thinking about this extra 24 hours every 4 years, I did the simple math: 24/4=6. Six hours every year lost somewhere, but where?

Could it be that our wonderful, awesome, omniscient, loving God had us “lose” that six hours every year to remind us once again of Christ’s suffering on the cross? For six hours, Jesus suffered the agony of the cross, satisfying the sin-debt of every human being that ever or will ever take a breath.

Six hours when time stood still.

Perhaps in eternity, we will understand all that happened that day, but while here on earth, with our limited finite minds, we can never comprehend the enormity of that day. God, the Father, sacrificed His own Son—His Only Son—for His image-bearers, even though the majority of mankind completely ignore His greatest gift. Instead, they choose this life over eternal life, sin and death over forgiveness and life, anxiety over peace, sorrow over joy. But at any moment, on any day, anyone can receive that change by simply trusting Jesus to be his Savior! Suddenly, it all becomes clear. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, the lost sinner realizes his weight of sin and comes to the cross for cleansing forgiveness. At the foot of the cross, the burden is lifted! Hallelujah! No wonder it’s a Good Friday!

So, take a moment to be still today and remember the six hours when time stood still.

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. Mark 15:25

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matthew 27:46

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

“God, forsaken of God”

agony-in-the-garden-1-1024x768When we read of Jesus’ agony and prayer in the garden—the start of his passion (as Dr. Pettit points out in his message)—and then read of all the agony, sheer torture, grief, mocking, pain and everything else He suffered, I realize that only a god THE GOD of all gods could carry such a burden for each and every human who has ever lived or will ever live! Hallelujah! What a Savior! Is there any other god who sacrificed himself for his followers? Is there any other book which was written by the finger of God? Why would anyone follow any false religion?

So, the next time someone asks you, “Why would a loving God let so much hurt happen in this world?” Your answer could be the question, “Why would a loving God sacrifice His OWN SON, turning His back on Him in the midst of His greatest suffering (something He will NEVER do to any of His people) for me and you?”

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly:
and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:44

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm 22:16

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt 27:46

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53: 4-6

 

March 15

man riding boxer motorcycle on road
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—Matt.21:33-41 The Parable of the Vineyard

Characters in this parable:

  1. Householder/landowner—he planted the vineyard, put a wall around it, and dug a winepress and tower
  2. Husbandmen/vine-growers—the householder rented it to them
  3. Servants/slaves—householder sends HIS servants to the vineyard that THEY might receive the fruit
    1. Husbandmen took the servants and beat, killed, stoned them

(This action repeated several times)

  1. Son—sent by the householder

Spiritual application:

  1. Husbandmen kill him God is planting His Word into His people
  2. Pastors (Jewish culture: chief priests) are caring for His “vineyard”
  3. Pastors? As well?
  4. Jesus—sent by His Father in heaven.

Not sure who the husbandmen would parallel today. A church hierarchy where corruption is taking place or perhaps just a pastor and staff?

Jesus asks what the householder should do.

Their response: Householder should destroy the husbandmen and let out the vineyard to others which will pay the husband his due.

THEY KNEW THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THEM!!! And sought to seize him BUT feared the people!

It’s always helpful to look before and after a passage to gather more context. We just looked at the Parable of the Two Sons which basically teaches obedience to the Father. Tomorrow, we will look at Matthew 22, which opens with the parable of the king who is preparing a wedding banquet for his son. Friends, who were invited, make excuses why they couldn’t attend.

Does that shed any light on today’s parable? What is a parable anyway? Simply put, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus is constantly using physical examples to teach Gospel truths. So, today’s parable…

APPLICATION for me: Keep in the middle of the road.

I hear them angels calling loud:
Keep in the middle of the road,
They’s awaitin’ there in a great big crowd,
Keep in the middle of the road.
I see them stand ’round the big white gate,
We must travel along for we get too late,
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Right in the middle of the road

Refrain:

Then, children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right, don’t you look to the left!
But keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
(Keep in the middle of the road)
‘Cause the road am rough and it’s hard for to walk,
(Keep in the middle of the road)
I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair,
And I’ll keep on a-going till I get there
‘Cause my head am bound for the crown to wear
Keep in the middle of the road.

Come and join our weary band
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Cause we’re bound for home in the happy land
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Turn your back on this world of sin
Just knock at the door, and they’ll let you in
Cause you’ll never gonna get such a chance again
Keep in the middle of the road.

This world am full of sinful things,
Then keep in the middle of the road, oh yeah!
When your feet get tired, just put on them wings,
Keep in the middle of the road.

If you lay down in the road and die,
You can watch them angels in the sky,
You can put on wings and get up and fly,
Keep in the middle of the road.

` African Spiritual

 

Now, why would I say that? Well, the husbandmen lost sight of the goal: they were working for the King! They got greedy and wanted all the glory which was due the householder.

Ministry is not easy. Being a born-again believer who is sold out for God is not easy in any generation, and if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the right and get too caught up in some theological, denominational, or standard issue or more concerned about numbers or our reputation, which draws us away from the real goal—serving the King.  And if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the left and get all caught up in the trinkets and baubles that the world dangles in front of our noses at every turn and we’ll fall in that ditch and forget—we’re here to serve the King!

My husband and I have watched several TV shows lately that are centered around the White House. We often hear this statement: I serve at the pleasure of the President. I’m so glad I serve that the pleasure of the King of Kings! I’ll never fall in the ditch if I keep my eyes on Him!

The Most Important Parenting Verses in the Bible

bible book child christianity
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Deuteronomy 6:5-9

  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
  • “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
    • when you sit in your house,
    • when you walk by the way,
    • when you lie down,
    • and when you rise
  • “You shall bind them as a sign on YOUR HAND, and they shall be as frontlets between YOUR EYES.
  • “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Most biblically minded parents will be familiar with this verse.  It is a foundational truth which we have all studied, memorized, and heard taught and preached concerning parenting. It’s such a wonderful verse because it not only tells us what to do but how to do it.

  1. We are to “love” God,
    1. But Moses goes on to pen God’s instructions on accomplishing that. We are to love him completely, with every fiber of our being: our heart, soul, and strength. How does that look in a practical every day setting?
    2. God is ingrained into our hearts at salvation. He enters our lives because of the Blood of Jesus, washes away our sins and we are never the same from that moment on! Think about it! It’s the difference between a sparkling clean glass and one that has laid in the yard after being filled with a sugary drink. The world’s critters have used it. The world’s slime has grown in it. The world’s natural bent is to reclaim it. But then the Master picks it up and washes it clean, making it sparkle and shine—ready for the Master’s use!
    3. Because of that cleansing power, we aim all our strength at filling our hearts and souls with His purpose, and that life, my friend, will certainly look a lot different than the world’s version of living.
  2. We are to “live” God.
    1. There is no way our lives can be the same after God’s cleansing! Every aspect of living is touched and changed, and this change should be most evident with our children.
    2. TEACH them DILIGENTLY and TALK about JESUS! That’s what this verse says, but it is so important that Moses goes even further and gives us specific details on HOW that happens:
      1. When you are sitting in your house:
        1. You’re playing with your children and reminding them of God’s promises and commands (to love one another, understand sin, and love Jesus through their actions with others.) You’re watching TV and you are careful to not let anything tear down our Savior. THAT’S a fulltime job right there!
      2. When you walk in the way:
        1. You’re making dinner and you praise God for the beautiful, colorful vegetables that are going into the salad. You’re at the grocery store and God graciously puts the peanut butter on sale which just happens to be on your list and you thank God with your children. You walk in His creation and point out all of God’s handiwork. You give a Gospel tract and show Jesus’ love for others with your children and talk to them about it.
  • When you lie down:
    1. The last words of the day with your children and in your heart are about this wonderful God who loves us and wants to be near us, so much so that He put these words in His Book, the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).
  1. When you rise up:
    1. Before your feet hit the floor, your mind is already focused on your God, your heavenly Father, your Lord and Savior, and your children see it, hear it, know it, and long to emulate it in their lives.

Simple? Yes and no.  It’s simple because of the next two verses. God’s Word is everywhere in your life! It is as much a part of you as breathing! How does that happen?

Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow!

The hard part is making it a priority. Nothing is more important to you, especially as a parent, than imprinting God’s image into your life so that you can be an example to your children. Why is it so important? Believe me, as a grandmother, there is no greater joy than watching your grandchildren walk in the ways of God and watching your children work at making it be so!

Why is it so important? Because the eternal destiny of their little souls and perhaps the souls of following generations depend upon it! What an important verse! None is so full of challenge and blessing! Deuteronomy 6 is not about knowing the Bible or even teaching the Bible–it’s about LIVING the Bible!