Monday, November 30, 2009

Thinking Caps

You may remember your teacher saying something like this to you in school, "Okay, class, it is time for you to put your thinking caps on!" This might have meant you were about to receive a lesson, take a test, or consider something very important. Though it seems almost silly to state something so obvious, thinking is not overrated. It is essential to success in every aspect of life.

In the August, 1981 issue of Reader's Digest one story told of a time when Henry Ford hired an efficiency expert to evaluate his company. After a few weeks, the expert made his report, which was highly favorable except for one thing. "It's that man down the hall," said the expert. "Every time I go by his office he's just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He's wasting your money." "That man," replied Mr. Ford, "once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.

Imagine being paid just to think? Maybe if we were paid to do it we would do it more often! The fact is, we are rewarded with so much more than monetary blessings if we will let the mind of the Master be the master of our minds. Consider a few of the things that taking time to think will accomplish:

  • avoiding rash decisions
  • avoiding speaking when better to remain silent
  • better communication
  • real, sound, beneficial solutions to problems
  • avoiding temptations
  • knowledge, wisdom, and understanding
  • better choices
God's advice to Joshua in leading Israel was to THINK - "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8). It is not only important that we think, but it is just as important to choose the right subject. The only true help for those who are looking for it is going to be found in the Word of God.

The key to good thinking is found in the word "meditate." Meditation is time spent in the action of thinking. It is dedication coupled with a willing mind for understanding. Meditation is not putting on your thinking cap, but rather, realizing that you are never supposed to take it off. We all need to be wearing our thinking caps all of the time! What a shame that anyone would ever have to encourage us to put it on!

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." ~ Psalm 1:2

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Thanksgiving Reminder

Abraham Lincoln's
Thanksgiving Proclamation
of 1863

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choisest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

A. Lincoln, October 3, 1863.

"Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." ~ Colossians 2:7

Monday, November 16, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

One scene from a mall included a pet shop window and a new litter of puppies. The crowds stood viewing the precious little creatures as they huddled together. One lady remarked, "What a delightful picture of brotherhood! They're keeping each other warm!" The man next to her replied, "No ma'am, they're not keep eaching other warm -- they are keeping themselves warm." ~ Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 20.

The twenty-first century is the age of "Me." So much so that you have atheletes famous for statements like, "I love me some me!" You have couples divorcing because they are first and their partner is not likely even second. You have churches splitting because it is more popular to have an opinion that it is to be obedient. You have a nation crumbling from the foundation because it is no longer about sacrifice, but rather, individual rights.

Someone has said that the problem with most self-made men is that they worship their creator. How often, then, does it appear to us that we are helping others when we are really just helping ourselves. Like the puppies, it may seem to some less observant that our activity is beneficial to others. But if we are self-centered, warming ourselves, we may only being helping others by accident.

Resources tells the following story:
When Roy DeLamotte was chaplain at Paine College in Georgia, he preached the shortest sermon in the college's history. However, he had a rather long topic: "What does Christ Answer When We Ask, 'Lord, What's in Religion for Me?"' The complete content of his sermon was in one word: "Nothing." He later explained that the one-word sermon was meant for people brought up on the 'gimme-gimme' gospel. When asked how long it took him to prepare the message, he said, "Twenty years."

Julian Huxley, an evolutionary humanist, said this in his own work, Religion without Revelation, pg. 194: "Man's most sacred duty and at the same time his most glorious opportunity, is to promote the maximum fulfillment of the evolutionary process on this earth; and this includes the fullest realization of his own inherent possibilities." He managed to do it, didn't he? He was able to come up with a theory that is perhaps the furthest possible distance from the attitude of Jesus Christ.

When we promote ourselves we need to realize what else we are promoting. Our Savior has already shown us that true happiness and contentment can only be found in self-denial and sacrifice.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" ~ Matthew 16:24

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If Jesus Came to Town

My son and I enjoyed going to the LCHS playoff game last Friday night. We were glad to see the Wilcats advance to the next round. What a great evening it was for our community! The greatest moment was watching Rob Nelson moving along the track with an Lawrence County High School banner in his hands. The way our city has rallied around that family is so encouraging on many levels.

Scenes like this past weekend at the football game remind me that people need each other. They need a common interest, a relationship, a goal to share. The common people heard the words of Jesus gladly (Mark 12:37). The early church believed together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). Jude wrote about the common salvation, the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It is truly God's desire that we share a belief in Him together, that we work towards being agreeable, and that we stand together in the kingdom that Jesus established.

When I see a community rally together; whether it be to encourage a young man who had a terrible accident, or perhaps to support their local high school team that has exceeded expectations, I am reminded that God made us in such a way that we can truly have fellowship and be brethren. Wouldn't it be great, if we would all work as hard toward unity in Christ as we do in other things?

If Jesus came to our town, I wonder if we would show the same interest and share in him joyfully together as we do in other things? I wonder if we would rally around him and be just as excited about what he has to offer? I wonder if we would be willing to drop human ideas and simply follow the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us?

And yet, the truth is that there is no "if." Jesus has already come. Jesus is already here.

"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." ~ Acts 4:32

Monday, November 2, 2009


I became acquainted once again with a man this week in Anna, Illinois, by the name of Wardell Barnhart. Wardell has worshiped with his wife at the Anna congregation for many years. When I came to Anna for a gospel meeting in March of 2001, they were here and I remember that they attended every service. At that particular time, Mr. Barnhart was not a member of the Lord's church.

As we started another meeting this past Sunday morning, I arrived at the building thirty minutes early to meet and greet whomever might be there. Wardell was the only one present for a good while. It is his custom to be there early and open up the building. We had time to talk for a while. He told me that his wife had suddenly passed away a few years ago. He was going to have knee surgery the morning she left him. He woke up to find that she had simply faded away in her sleep.

You might imagine that Wardell Barnhart would be sad and lonely. But I saw a much different picture. Though he dearly misses his wife, he is a different man today. He put on his Lord in baptism before she died. He told me he had been one of "the long-time stubborn ones." But from the time he became a Christian everything with him changed.

The man I talked to in the foyer of the church building is a happy man. He is very faithful and greets everyone with a kind smile when they come into the church building. He is nice to visitors and good with conversation. He made a remark about one of my sermon topics on the flier - "Remember Thy Creator When You are All Alone." He told me that made no sense. He said, chuckling, "You are never alone, because God is always with you."

What makes a man, now a widower after fifty plus years of marriage live with so much hope? What makes him so kind and gentle and full of life? It is the fact that he lifted a burden that remained on his heart and in his life for decades. He became a Christian, and now he makes his coffee and breakfast every morning in his humble home in the presence of a special guest. There is no doubt in his mind that God is there with Him. And let me tell you, Wardell Barnhart lives in such a way, that you cannot deny God's presence in his life. You can just tell.

"Burdens are liften at Calvary, Jesus is very near." ~ John Moore (1952)