Monday, March 30, 2009

The Mocker

It is a typical Monday morning. The sun is shining and the weather will be warming up to about 70 degrees. It is springtime and the grass is growing. It is going to be a beautiful day.

It is about 7:45 a.m. Having dropped off my child to school I am heading to the office. But I need to get some gas. So I pull into a local gas station and food mart. I enter to pay. Inside there are other people who are also getting their day started.

There is an expectant young mother in front of me, getting some breakfast. Another man is sitting at one of the tables by the window drinking some coffee. Still another man comes in to get a diet drink and a sausage biscuit. It seems like a typical morning, a regular day.

Suddenly, a very specific smell comes over the store . Then I carefully glance behind me and there he is. He has already been drinking. It is obvious. But he has to come in and get another bottle. He doesn't come in to buy anything else. This is all he wants, and he looks like a man who is desperately trying to get where he is going. The anticipation of his next drink is too powerful for him to hide.

This man is about 50 years old. He looks like any man you would meet and be friends with. When he leaves he does not depart by automobile. But he leaves on a old, worn out, pink bicycle. Why? I imagine he has been charged with a DUI. Or perhaps his habit has ruined him financially. He is obviously not on his way to work, or at least I hope not. But the picture is pitiful. It is a very sad sight to see.

I have heard many a debate about alcohol and the Bible over the years. Was the wine fermented? What about Jesus' first miracle? What if you only drink one glass at home before bedtime? Many more questions have been proposed to attempt to justify drinking. But let me tell you what alcohol really does...

It makes a wise man a fool. It destroys families and marriages. It leads to killing with a motorized vehicle. It manifests itself in college kids waking up in a park or a place they do not know rather than their own beds. It is a sure road to regret. It causes a middle-aged man to go to a quick mart at 7:45 am because he cannot stand it any longer before he has another drink!

Stay away from alcohol. Evil companionships corrupt good morals.

"Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise." ~
Proverbs 20:1

Monday, March 23, 2009

Little Things

Last time I checked, most of us just live from day to day. We may have some plans for the future, perhaps some big event is ahead. Primarily, however, we go about our business and just do the best we can.

Many people believe that in order for their lives to be great, something great must happen. They think some accomplishment will bring their life some meaning. Perhaps they believe that being known or having money or doing something that has never been done before will make them matter.

People also approach relationships this way. How does a man think he is going to win a woman's heart. Often men think they must do something amazing or prove themselves some how in a huge way. But what they fail to realize is that the little things are what make the difference.

Recently I visited a store where I always used to see a friend and member of the church. Every time I went in this store I would see her working. We would have a little chat and go on with our day. Since she has passed when I walk into that store I don't have those little hellos anymore. Going there will never be the same. You see, sometimes little things matter more to you than you think.

I believe that God is also concerned with little things. We may never give our last penny away or have our name on a memorial plaque. We may never spill our blood for the freedom of others. We may never be remembered past a generation or two. But we can worship every time the doors of the church open. We can read our Bibles. We can pray. We can put our hand on a shoulder, fix a meal, call, visit, or write a card to encourage somebody. We can give someone a hug they really need. We can congratulate people when they reach a milestone. We can let people know we believe in them. We can listen when somebody needs to talk.

I am pretty sure that being great in the kingdom of heaven has something to do with mastering the little things. I am confident that even though we feel sometimes like we have done nothing, we have done more than we could ever know.

"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." ~ Luke 16:10

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Some one has said, that the society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. The idea here is that neither the pipes nor the theories will hold water.

Humility is not as popular with people as it used to be. The post-modern era is marked with men and women who are pushing their way to the top. Folks want recognition, fame, and money. They want to be petted, placated, and appreciated. So it seems as though few people like the humble roles in life.

Jesus told His disciples the humble servant was really the greatest among them (Matt. 20:27; 23:11). Proverbs 18:12 reads - "Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor." We have heard "pride cometh before the fall." We have also heard that God "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). We should understand then, that humility is a very important part of success. Humility does not need a pat on the back. Humility does not need its name to be called. Humility knows that in doing something that is right, the very doing of it is enough. Humility carries on even when nobody else knows or cares.

George Washington Carver, the scientist who developed hundreds of useful products from the peanut, once noted: "When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for me alone.' So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.' And he told me."

There are many thing we will never know. There are many things we will never be. But being created in the image of God and having the grace of God is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9). Faithful Christians will be like Paul, who constantly humbled himself: "I am the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9); "I am the very least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8); "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Tim. 1:15).

Most Christians I encounter, when asked what traits they desire the most, will have in their short list the characteristic of humility. We know we need it. We know it is difficult to achieve. And we know where to get it - In Jesus Christ alone!

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus....And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself..." (Philippians 2:5, 8)

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." ~ James 4:10

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Disturbing Trends

Parents, I have some questions for you. Do you really know what is going on with your kids? Do you know about their internet pages? Do you know what they watch on television? Do you know what music they listen to? Do you know what they do with their friends? Do you know what they are being taught in the schools by their teachers? Do you know what they are being taught by their peers in social situations? Do you know what they are being exposed to in our society as a whole?

You should know. If you are not up in their business then you are not doing your job as a parent. If you are always their friend, you have a problem. In fact, at some point you are going to have to be satisfied with being (in their mind) their worst enemy. This is how it really works in families that are going to do the will of God and go to heaven together.

These things being said, I would like you all to know what I heard this weekend from some teenagers...

I taught a class on "The Truth About Homosexuality" at a youth rally in Dexter, Mo. We discussed the Biblical passages that address this issue, and also the truth about what is really on the gay agenda and what they believe and practice. We also dealt with how to help those taken in by this sin. Afterward, some of the young people wanted to talk.

How much influence has the push for acceptance of gays and lesbians had to this point? These young people were telling me that it is common in our high schools for their friends to have BOTH a girlfriend AND a boyfriend. The mindset is to try both genders and experiment. Perhaps the young people applaud this as being "open-minded." Or perhaps they have been told so many times that nobody really knows what they are supposed to be that they actually believe it. Whatever the case, this should astonish us. This should bother us. This should make us have a sit-down conversation with our kids immediately.

We need to equip ourselves with the Biblical passages with regard to homosexuality. We need to know them so well that we can discuss them in their context with our children. We need lessons about this issue from the pulpit and in our Bible classes. We also need to listen to our kids and find out what they are having to deal with! It is a different world we are living in, a very different world than the one we grew up in.

Do not side-step the issue. If you think it won't affect you or your family, think again. We used to have to worry about what kind of person our kids would date. Many are now having to start with making sure they are going to date the right gender. May God help us.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites..." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Missing In Action

This article is for you, the church. It is aimed especially at this congregation that meets here at Pulaski St. I hope others who read it will take some good things from it that they can add to their faith.

We had snow Sunday. I was pleased that our attendance was 187, (29 better than 158), our attendance the last time we had a snow like this one. Our giving this week, by the 187 was over $6,500.00. I was also very pleased to see that, and I commend those of you who were here for giving so freely.

I am not a person who cares much about money. I never have been. While I know I need it to survive, I also know the Lord will provide. So this article is not about money. This is about our relationship with God.

The weekly contribution is a spiritual barometer with regard to the local body. It says a good deal about the relationship between the church and the Lord. What does $6,500.00 from 187 people tell us? It tells us we have a core of people who are very dedicated to the Lord. It also tells us we have about 200 people who are holding back from God. We have been averaging about $8,500.00 a week recently. Do the math. This is plain talk, my brethren. I write these things to encourage you and because you need to examine yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).

When we come together each first day of the week, are we participating in every aspect of worship? Some do not sing. Some do not pray with the one who leads. Some are not listening to the Bible as it is read and preached. Almost everybody freely participates in the Lord's Supper (most definitely want that). And it is obvious that many are MIA when it is time to give to God.

The Bible does not prescribe the exact amount that we should give. But it does include that we should give as we have been prospered (1 Cor. 16:2). It says that will will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). It tells us to lay by in store (1 Cor. 16:2). And we are reminded not to give out of compulsion but to offer it freely and thankfully to God, because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

This next week, I challenge those of you who were absent to give both what you needed to give last week combined with what you ought to give this week. I also challenge those of you who are not giving enough on a regular basis to pray about it and open your hearts. Finally, to those who are faithfully giving I say continue in the work that you are doing, because in due season we will reap if we faint not (Gal. 6:9).

Let's not be absent from the worship of our God while we are present in the building. God gave us His only Son that we might live. What do we own? What do we have that does not belong to Him?

"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." ~ Malachi 3:8