Figs, Olives, Cattle and Life

 

Sometimes life really stinks!!!!!!

When my kids were growing up, we read a lot of books to them.  One of my favorites was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It was the account of a little boy named Alexander who had an awful kid’s day.  Nothing went right.  I chuckle because I have had some of those days. 

It is one thing to have a bad day; it is another thing to experience tragedy, setbacks, sorry, loss, or catastrophe.  Recently one of the families of the church I am helping received devastating news.  The doctors discovered a large tumor on the kidney of their two-year-old son.  If that was not enough it had spread to his lungs.  The little boy will have surgery immediately and then face round after round of chemotherapy.  Standing outside one of the testing rooms, a close friend of the family said, “This really stinks.” 

She was right.  A little boy of a strong vibrant Christian family getting cancer really does stink.  The truth is life really stinks at times.  This is extremely perplexing for us as Christians because we believe in this awesome, sovereign and all-powerful God.  During those times, we wrestle with tough questions.  What in the world are you doing, God?  How in the world could you allow this, God?  What am I supposed to do now God? 

Habakkuk the prophet had the same questions for God.  God answered him which only confused him more.  We think if God would only give us answers, it would make things better when the truth is, it would only confuse or upset us more.  We just can’t see the eternal picture.  We have to come to the same place as Habakkuk did in 3:16–19 (ESV)

16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

“God I can’t understand what is happening; I can’t come to grips with what is happening; I can’t see how this all fits into your plan for my life; it certainly seems unfair but no matter what comes I will trust you.  My joy is not found in my circumstances but in you.” 

When life stinks, savor God!

 

Government-Control or Self-Control

government-controlWas anyone surprised President Obama demanded Congress to vote on a variety of gun control options up for debate during his State of the Union Address Tuesday night February 12, 2013?  Naturally that launched a national debate between those favoring stricter controls versus those against stricter controls and between those who strongly advocate second amendment rights versus those who would restrict them. 

What I heard in the President’s speech was government control; government control of education, of healthcare, of wages and earnings, of rights, etc.   The way to a better society according to President Obama and way too many politicians is government control.  That experiment has been tried over and over again in human history all which resulted in dismal failure.

We don’t need more GOVERNMENT CONTROL; what we need is more SELF CONTROL. Solomon wrote, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28 ESV).  Eugene Peterson translates it colorfully, “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out” (Prov. 25:28 The Message).

 

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A Cult By Any Other Name

When I was went to elementary school and later high school name-calling was in vogue.  From what I hear it is still common among children, young people and adults.  There are whole websites devoted to stopping name calling.  I always understood name-calling to be using abusive or untrue names in order to belittle, humiliate or put down someone.  I am for stopping that kind of stuff because the Bible says we should refrain from it (Eph. 4:29).

 

That doesn’t mean all names are bad or wrong to use.  If someone calls me a Christian, they are correct.  Calling me a Southern Baptist doesn’t offend me, because I am a Southern Baptist.  Calling someone who lives in Ohio an Ohioan is not incorrect, because to live in Ohio is to be an Ohioan.

 

I was shocked to read of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s decision to remove an article describing Mormonism as a cult. 

 

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I'll Pass on the Leftovers

Leftovers

Three wives were bemoaning their husbands' attitudes towards leftovers: "It gets rough," one said. "My husband is a movie producer and he calls them reruns." "You think you have it bad," was the reply. "Mine is a quality control engineer and he calls them rejects!" "That's nothing compared to me," said the third lady. "My husband is a mortician. He calls them remains!"

Whether you call them reruns, rejects or remains, they are what they are - something that has been experienced before.  By this time in the holiday season, leftovers have wreaked havoc on all of our taste buds.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any more leftovers for a while.

 

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Senseless or Sinful

Our nation was once more left in shock this last week as Adam Lanza forced his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut and murdered 26 people, 20 of them innocent little children. Our hearts go out to the families of those precious children and brave adults who gave their lives while our prayers go up to heaven on behalf of the children, the families, the community and our nation.

Once again the questions will be raised, “How could this have happened?” “Why didn’t someone see it?” “What can be done to stop this kind of thing?” “What was wrong with the person?” “What led the individual to commit such a crime?” Certainly the debate will begin over safety in schools and most certainly guns and gun laws. We have to tighten gun laws to stop these “senseless” crimes.

“Senseless” is the word that will be used to describe this event. Herein lays the problem in modern day society. We have discarded a key word. It is a word our modern-day worldview does not allow. The politically correct crowd scorns it, railing against anyone who dares use the word. What word am I talking about? It is the word “sinful”.

 

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Revival or Renaissance

I have been thinking about revival while reading the book of Isaiah; REALLY I have personally been struggling with revival while reading Isaiah.  I have been wrestling with the cries I hear for revival among many churches and Christians.  Do we really mean what we are praying when we pray for revival?  Is there a miscommunication?  It is like the cartoon where the word “mouse” is used.  The two individuals are using the same word but thinking of something ENTIRELY different.

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Mercy

Mercy

1To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 2Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. 3Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. 4Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123:1–4 ESV)

The psalmist looks to God as a servant would his master or a maidservant her mistress (2).  It is not a look of contempt, anger or insolence.  He doesn’t come demanding or claiming his rights; he simply looks to God for mercy in the face of contempt (3).  Contempt means to be despised or put to shame.  In this case it is in the face of the proud and insolent. This is a man beat down.

 

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What's a Christian to Do?

The campaigns are in full swing.  We are being inundated with ads telling us why we should vote for Romney and not Obama and vice versa.  It is that time of year so nothing is new or is it?  There is something new. Christians find themselves in a dilemma - Do they vote for Obama the most biblically hostile president in American history (David Barton, “America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President” at www.wallbuilders.org) or do they vote for Romney who is a Mormon?  Neither choice seems to be good; some would even say to pull the lever for either candidate is unconscionable.   

 

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Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

blogHave you ever looked at something and thought, "I will never do that!" "I will never speak in front of a group of people." "I will never work for that company." "I will never go to that church." "I will never go into the ministry." My wife has told me from her own experience – "never say never when talking to God." Of course men suffer from hearing loss.

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Turning the Tables

blog-chalkboardOctober 25, 2012

The title of the article in the Detroit News, September 24, 2012 read “Town turns tables on school prank.” The title caught my eye, so I opened it up to read it. It is the story of Whitney Kropp, a sophomore at Ogemaw Heights High in Michigan. Whitney Kropp was not the most popular person in her school. Her black outfits and different hair colors didn’t make her a class favorite with the other rural kids in her school. This is why she didn’t seek a position on the homecoming court.

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