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Archive for September, 2019

A Word to the Wise

9-25-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Sin is ever oppressing. It follows one throughout life and relentlessly hounds and mocks. For those who have really sinned know exactly what I am talking about. This type of sin, whatever the violation maybe is difficult for the follower of the Lord to reconcile.

It is the type and class of the one which Peter experienced when he betrayed his dear friend. It is of the magnitude which Paul faced when he considered the death of Stephen. Any who has really sinned understands the sickness of the soul that plagues and rips at the heart.

Usually these sins causes one to wander far from God and takes one down the paths of even greater sin.

Going home is difficult. Even weary with wandering, home seems so remote and difficult to find.

Luke 7 tells us of just a situation and holds out hope for all who have struggled with sin. Real sin. We know little of the history of the woman, even her name escapes history. It may be she was immoral, given the attitude of the Pharisee.

Here is the passage: One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. (ESV)

No doubt the woman was deeply fearful of rejection, yet desperate for forgiveness and to be rescued from the past therefore all else was put aside.

Now for us who are real sinners this encounter with Jesus gives us hope. Hope that the past will no longer have power over us. Peace, yes real peace, which wraps us in the arms of the Master in a manner which heals, and protects us from the paths we once trod.

To get the attention of the Pharisee Jesus gives a short parable: “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. ( A denarii was equal to a day’s pay so one owed about five weeks earnings the other a year and half). When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”…… Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The key idea to focus on is the little phrase; “for she loved much”.For the true repentant sinner their acknowledgement of the depth of sin, coming to the Lord with a broken and contrite heart results not only in forgiveness but a far greater depth and capacity for love. What is your measured capacity for love?

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A Word to the Wise

9-24-2019 – A Word to the Wise – The Lord does not care for rain. Then why did he make it? Well it was sort of created under distress. The whole matter began like this.

Sometimes we so mess up the Lord’s plans for us that He has to redo His plans. Now I know this does not sit well some who hold that the Lord never changes His mind about anything.

However, when He created man with free will that necessity alternate plans from time to time.

Just in case you have not seen this in other passages let me give a couple of examples.

In I Samuel 23 a unique situation occurs. David being hunted by King Saul raises a small band of men and sets out to protect the defenseless. On this occasion he hears that the city of Dallas, oops, Keliah is under attack by the Philistines and in jeopardy.

David inquires of the Lord and is told to rescue them. David goes and rescues Keliah.

Shortly, David hears that Saul knows that he is at Keliah. David fearfully ask the Lord if Saul will come, the Lord tells David that Saul will come.

David ask the Lord if the people of Keliah will turn him over to Saul. The Lord tells David that they will.

David gathers his men and leaves. Saul hears and never comes.

Obviously, David’s inquiry and David listening, and leaving changed the situation. (I Samuel 23, RSV)

Similarly, we find in Isaiah 38 a medical situation with King Hezekiah. The Lord tells him that he is going to die, and to set his house in order.

Hezekiah turns his face to the wall and begs the Lord for a reprieve. The Lord stops the prophet Isaiah and tells him to go back and tell King Hezekiah because he prayed He is healing him and adding 15 years to his life. Prayer changes the situation. (Isaiah 38)

So let’s return to the rain situation. The original creation had no rain. (Genesis 2:5)

The Lord watered with a mist that came up from the ground. So the Lord in the beginning chose mist as opposed to rain. Guess He did not like the idea of rain. (Genesis 2:6). Mist does not cause erosion, or other problems.

So what changed? Man brought about the change. It was not Adam and Eve’s sin for it is nearly 1000 years later. No that was not the reason.

Rather, we learn with the advent of evil angels and their immoral behavior with women the whole earth becomes filled with evil. Immoral behavior does that. Changes everything.

So the Lord destroyed the earth with, yes rain, and more rain. Rain was a curse on mankind. But at the same time it cleansed the earth but it brought an end to the Lord’s original design.

Rain was not His first choice. So what was or is the Lord’s first choice for your life? Did the Lord have to redo it?

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A Word to the Wise

9-19-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Does obedience to God’s laws really influence how long a person lives? Deuteronomy 28 says it does. But we will return to that.

If the historical trends of this year continue then nearly two million people in the United States will die during 2019 because they failed to observe warnings from parents, doctors, ministers, governmental agencies, or the Word of God. Those figures indicate the seriousness of obedience. Consider the connection between obedience and longevity from scientific and biblical perspective.

Support for a connection between obedience and longevity is found in the scientific community. Numerous sociological and psychological studies support the basic concept that the impulsive and uncontrolled personalities, along with major family disorganization, are predictors of long-term health problems.

In 1921, the Terman Life-Cycle Study began. Terman chose some 856 boys and 672 girls with IQ’s of at least 135 to study over an extended period. The participants have been followed at five-and ten-year intervals since the onset of the study, for nearly 75 years. A more recent evaluation of the data has focused on psychosocial variables in participants’ physical health. The one factor found to be a consistent predictor of greater longevity in this group was a factor the investigators called ‘conscientiousness.’ What did the investigators define as conscientiousness? They define it as prudence, truthfulness and social dependability.

Obedience or lack of it affects practically everything we do. Failure in this area is most evident in the “accident” rate of any society. Traffic accidents in the United States is a prime example. Notice how the majority of all accidents are due to the failure to obey a rule, law, and ordinance or known truth. The majority of all traffic accidents accounting for over thirty-eight thousand deaths per year are preventable. Simply obeying the rules results in an increased life span.

Violation of our body by improper diet, inadequate exercise and the use of known harmful substances accounts for a majority of admissions to medical and psychiatric facilities. Most violations are of known rules, laws, ordinances and instructions.

Each year in the United States 480,000 plus die from smoking. Another 73,000 die from drug use, and hundreds of thousands from food related abuses. These deaths are not due to lack of information for our society is flooded with a constant barrage of information; most goes unheeded.

Thus, one readily sees why disobedience to authority, whether toward a parent, government or biblical law, results in a shortened life span. Only a willful rejection of disobedience will bring about the ability to live longer. It is God’s promise regardless of one’s color, creed, or sex. Respect for God’s creation and obedience to His laws lay the foundation for obedience to those who have the rule over us.

This connection between the obedient life and longevity was discovered a long time before our century. Moses more than three millennium ago, told the Jewish nation “… know therefore this day, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God gives you forever. ”

Several years ago I did a study of the life expectance in scripture based on the righteousness, or lack of it in the kings of the Southern Kingdom. These were chosen because their DNA were following the genealogy of King David.

The results were revealing; the righteous kings lived about 12 years longer than the unrighteous kings.

Amazingly, in forty years of counseling I have seen this same statistic occurring in the families I have worked with. Righteous behavior influences longevity.

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A Word to the Wise

9-17-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Here is the second help.

The following words are meant for a select few, and you will know when you read it if they apply to you. In actuality, this is a prescription. It is a prescription for those who are anxious, ill, fearful, and hopeless. If one is given a medicine by a medical doctor and then filled by a pharmacist- that medicine comes with a specific set of instructions about how to take the medicine, what not to use while taking the medicine and is specifically directed toward the person who has a specific problem.

This is a prescription. It is meant to be used in the manner that is specified. Some will not like the medicine- if that be the case do not take it. Many may want to change the directions, but then will complain afterwards that it does nothing. Please just follow the instructions.

Here is the purpose for the medication, and how it is to be utilized. Again, it is specifically directed towards those who are anxious, weary, sorrowful, fearful, burdened with the cares of the world.

The following songs are given for the purpose of helping. They are not the only songs that are available, but these have been chosen for a specific purpose. The titles have been taken from hymnals nearly a century old, so to avoid any legal complaints, or fears of problems with copyright laws.

No doubt you will be able to find these songs available over the internet, or by some congregational singing. Be sure and not mix with instrumental background. It’s not that the instruments are bad, but rather they make the words oblique.

Here is a list of the twenty-one songs I have chosen to help with some of the more serious of life’s circumstances. They are to be heard daily, or even during the night.

Some may say their list of popular songs are much preferred. However, this is not a list of my most beloved songs. Rather an attempt to help those who are struggling and need relief. For a lifetime these hymns have comforted me, given direction and peace. I wish to share them with you and the method by which they are to be utilized.

For Me He Careth

No, Not One

More Love to Thee, O Christ

Be With Me Lord

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Nearer, My God To Thee

Rock of Ages

‘Tis The Blessed Hour Of Prayer

Come, Thou fount of Every Blessing

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

I Need Thee Every Hour

Tarry With Me, O My Savior

Peace, Perfect Peace

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Savior, Grant Me Rest and Peace

Amazing Grace

Something for Jesus

The Garden of Prayer

Lead, Kindly Light

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

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A Word to the Wise

9-16-2019 – A Word to the Wise – What does one do when it seems life is dealing them one blow after another? When it would seem one woe after another tortures every step. When it would seem you are unable to distinguish between friend and foe?

My mother taught me years ago you have to prepare for those times. We tend to think that nothing is ever able to overcome us when we have the Lord on our side. But fail to realize it calls for preparation beforehand.

So how does one prepare? I have found that there are at least two crucial ways that helps one deal not only with the day to day confusion and temptation, but also brings a measure of peace.

As one searches scripture astoundingly they come across passages which reflect what I consider to be the first most important measure. This is one that has been a part of my life for many years.

Consider please these two passages; Hebrews 11:1 -12:1: What the writer does is list one after another the mighty deeds that the Lord has brought about. Finally the writer just because there are so many starts listing one name after another which the reader recognizes concluding with “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run the race that is set before us looking to Jesus. . . “

Now consider Psalm 136 and pay attention to the similarity of the two passages.

What is happening is the two writers are giving us the tools to deal with life’s upsets.

But notice the first is written 2000 years ago and the other 3000 years ago. There relevance does not help me today when faced with overwhelming conflict both internally and externally. Why is it of little help? Because both authors are giving a pattern to use for our daily life. Not a remembrance of past events. It is a pattern. So how do we use it?

Many years ago when first reading Psalms 136 the Lord prompted me to write out beside the verses the things He had accomplished in my life. Acts that I knew for sure and certain that He had accomplished.

When I started putting them down I was astounded, the Lord had done all of these things? Let me give just a few.

I was born a twin in the midst of World War II, 2 months premature with a host of physical problems which shortly ended in a hospitalization and my mother being told I would not make it through the night. She later telling me about it, said she fell on her face before the Lord begging him to intervene.

Without going into details over the next few years He actually saved my life; once from drowning in a flood when I was 10, years later as a police officer, on three occasions. Other times from severe illness when at 9, I contracted polio, or later suffered several injuries to my eyes, and later back cancer and surgery.

Besides physically, the emotionally situations, with the trauma of early physical abuse, death of my father, or intellectually because of helplessness in the face an inability to learn caused by attention deficit disorder. Then the really big ones: graduating with honor in two years and 7 months from a four year college program.

It continues one thing after another; giving me honorable children, calling me by a special name. This list goes on and on. The things He intervened in and accomplished when things were absolutely impossible.

Listing these things, putting them in my bible reading them whenever discouraged, helpless, and at times hopeless. That is the purpose of the pattern.

This is why Psalms 136, Hebrew 11, and a host of other passages remind us what the Lord did then, and more importantly what he does now, for us personally. List them, put them in your bible rehearse them daily.

This constant rehearsal of intervention past and present strengthens faith, hope and love. You will find yourself saying along with a host of biblical characters and situations, the Lord did this.

But there is a second thing that helps.

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A Word to the Wise

9-13-2019 – A Word to the Wise – There are many things I am just not good at doing. Take woodworking I took a special class in how to make dovetail joints. I suspect I have tried to make hundreds. They are all either outright failures or so poor that I had to cut them off and make another type of joint.

Many times in my past I have had to do auto mechanic repairs. Just as many times I have had to seek information from others as how to correct my mistakes.

Counseling, however is different. In my middle teens my mother taught me how to counsel. The answer, then and now; is always ask the Lord.

For those who wish to give advice, then give heed. The only way to know what to say to someone dealing with difficult problems is to while you’re listening, you are asking the Lord what is the root problem. Give me insight and wisdom in this matter. What do I say?

Many, many times the answer has nothing to do with the problem being presented.

The key to counseling is given in James 1; “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask the Lord. It is that simple. Not a psychology teacher, Not a psychology book, lecturer, or expert. Just ask the Lord.

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A Word to the Wise

9-12-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Part 2

What, one may wonder is just how are temptations related to being a warrior? A lot. You see the Lord led the Israelites into the wilderness as soon as they were free. Its purpose was to train and to test. The two go hand in hand. One cannot be a warrior without the acceptance of the Lord.

That acceptance is rooted in discipline, brought out in training. Here the focus is on obedience without complaint. We are tested to the breaking point to determine our weaknesses. Our chief compass should be the fear of the Lord. That fear is much like the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites in the wilderness.

It is here when the phrase ‘many are called, but few chosen,’ takes on its unique meaning for our lives. The Lord sifts out the chaff. Three hundred out of thirty-two thousand, is about the average degree of success. Tenacity, fearlessness, commitment, obedience are the qualities which determine success or failure, and the qualities prized by the Lord. Sinlessness is not the determining factor. Rather ones tenacity.

Is there a second chance if one fails the first time? I believe so. Looking at the life of King Saul ones sees a twofold opportunity before rejection. The problem is if we do not set aside the root sins in our lives all the second chance will do is bring about failure.

Now let us turn to warfare and understand what it is really all about. For those who decide that they are meant to be warriors in God’s army then how are things different? It does not take a fool to perceive that one’s behavior on the battlefield is different than ones behavior sitting in church Sunday morning.

The passage “as far as possible live in peace with all men,” does not apply to the battlefield. Turning the other cheek and, do unto others as you wish them do to you are principles not practiced at the gates of hell.

If one is to march into the very depth of hell to rescue the perishing then he best armor himself with the best fire protection he can find. He best be ready to use every weapon in God’s armory. He best be ready to trade blow for blow with a fierce enemy who shows no quarter.

I have known police officers who were not able to confront the evil doer. Though armed with the best weapon and the best training they were unwilling to use it against the evil doer. They had no business being on the front lines facing a determined enemy.

I have known many a preacher who was so full of loving kindness, peace, and joy that they could not find the sword of the spirit to challenge the evil doer. These are not bad people. In fact they are good men, just not warriors.

As warriors there are certain principles important to understand, particularly as to combat in the spiritual arena. First combat is not continuous. There are breaks. There are times one spends on the mountain top with the Lord. There are other times when engaged in fierce trials.

If all of life were trials without an absorbing time we would learn nothing at all. It is natural God having given one their hearts desire that they then feel a letdown.

One feels a letdown or separation from God after intimacy with God. During this period one feels they have nothing of great importance to commune with Him about.

This is the time for the permanent growth to take root and growth occurs. Here one likely experiences a sense of disappointment unless you fix firmly in your mind the fact that real spiritual growth is slow.

Separate your growth from your emotions. Go back and see how much of what you did was on faith and how much was on fear. How much was real trust and how much was really a nothing to lose bargain. How much was received with a deserving feeling and how much was real gratitude. You will be humbled if you do this sincerely. Out of this comes pure humility which is the essence of true spiritual growth.

We experience God in the deep emotional experiences of life. Then after the emotional is pasted we examine our hearts to separate the facts from the emotions because only after the emotion is past can we be truly objective.

Always establish the spiritual growth after you have walked close to God or through any crisis. Otherwise your growth may finally be lost in the tangle of emotions experienced and become just another emotional pattern in your life instead of another link in the chain of growth required to meet God.

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