Broadcasting This Week on the Radio Bible Hour:
A Minute with Don Smith
Sound the Still
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
May 5, 2013
I am told that in the old British Navy there was an emergency drill that included "sounding the still." When an emergency occurred aboard the vessel, the bell would ring in a particular pattern, and everyone would pause for a moment, think about what they were to do, and then when the bell sounded again, they would rush to their posts and carry out their assigned tasks to deal with the problem. In our fast paced world, we have become accustomed to acting first, and thinking later. It might be better if we cultivated the habit of "Sounding the Still."
One of the strong admonitions of the Bible is that we be guardians of our tongues. We are told to be careful about what we say, and we are warned of the damage that a quick response can cause. The tongue is described as sharper than a two-edged sword. It is able to do more harm than any weapon. The wrong words at the wrong moment can destroy friendships, wreck marriages, and cause harm to the work of Christ.
Proverbs 18:21 says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Given that we have such power in what we say, the very power to give life or to kill, shouldn't we be more careful about what we say? I must confess that through much of my life, I was often guilty of saying things I later regretted. I would get angry, and certain that I was right, I often said things that were personally hurtful to others, or which while basically true, were really exaggerations of the truth, and made the situation seem much worse than it was.
We see the commandments to guard the tongue, but in James 3:8 we read that no human being can tame the tongue. It is like a wild beast that will not be controlled. What are we to do? How are we to follow the commandments of Scripture, and yet know that we cannot completely control the words that come from our mouths?
We may have a chance to control whether we speak or not. Once we decide to speak, I believe we can only ask for God's help. The naval tradition of sounding the still could serve us well. Suppose that instead of responding to every event and every comment, we were to "sound the still." What if we said, "I need to think about that, before I respond." Or suppose we just kept quiet.
I have found that when I am concerned about what I am about to say, my concern is usually well grounded. It is usually best to just be silent. I have not yet gotten into difficulty with others by holding my tongue. Here are some guidelines about what to say, and when to say it.
1. Sound the still. Cultivate the habit of not responding to everything that is said. Think first.
2.Ask for God's wisdom and help and discernment about whether to respond, and how to respond.
3. As yourself whether your response is constructive or destructive. Is my response intended to help and encourage, or is it intended to rebuke and tear down? There may be times when each kind of response is required, but we need to be clear about what we are doing. If my intention is to rebuke, be honest about that. Don't pretend that your rebuke is intended to "help." A rebuke is intended to stop something from continuing. Be clear about that.
4. Always speak in love and faith. Do I care about the person I am speaking to, or speaking about? Does Christ love them? If He loves them, why do I not? If I don't love them, perhaps I should not think I have a right to speak about them. Do I have faith that my words are based in faith in Christ, or are they defensive and ego-driven by my need to defend myself and make myself look good?
5. Trust God to deal with the situation. Vengeance is not ours; it belongs to God. When we truly trust God, we will find that we have less defending to do, and we can do more constructing. We can build up, and let God take care of the destructive tasks.
6. All this can only work if we fill our minds with Christ. If we fill our minds with violent entertainment, angry fantasies, and bitter resentments, that is what will probably come from our lips. Fill you heart with the love of the Lord, and that will flow from your words and actions.
7. Be especially vigilant when you are tired, stressed, or upset emotionally. That is when we are likely to be tempted. That is why some time of meditation and silence is so important. We need our quiet time with God in the morning in order to keep our minds "stayed on Him."
Let your tongue be God's instrument, and He will use it for His glory.We cannot tame the tongue; we can only surrender it to God, and let Him control it. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and redeemer.` (Psalm19:14
Does God Change?
Thursday, March 28, 2013
March 27, 2013
Imagine the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah some fifty years before they were destroyed. They had become prosperous, powerful and highly evolved in their social systems. People were proud of their sophistication, their cool rejection of old traditions. I can imagine that there was a conversation, and even conflict between those who were excited by the newness, the rejection of the past, and the bold new freedoms which they were enjoying, and those who longed to follow God's rules. But for a larger and larger majority, the repressive rules of the past were being thrown off, and their passions ruled. If it felt good, they reasoned, then why not do it. Old customs and rules were...well, old. The old generation simply did not get the reality. The young people were no longer interested in living within those repressive boundaries. They wanted to experiment and try new life styles. Eventually God could not find ten people in those great cities who opposed the lifestyle. Was God changing as this was happening?
In the Book of Judges, we see a pattern. The people walk with God, and they prosper and enjoy happiness, freedom and safety under God's protection. Over time, they forget the God who is the source of all good things in their lives. The people get bored, and start listening to those who do not worship the real God. They start hanging around with those who worship the false dead gods, such as Baal. Soon they begin to try out the things the followers of Baal are allowed to do. Does God change, as they move further away from his presence?
"Wow, this is fun," they think as they indulge in sexual "freedom", and are drawn farther into a godless place. Sensual pleasure replaces true happiness, and anxious excitement replaces authentic peace in their lives. Soon, the things that would have brought shame, are now accepted and practiced in public. The voice of conscience is gradually dulled, and finally silenced. Its soft voice is drowned out in favor of the mob who scream for more "rights" to pursue every degrading impulse, and who angrily denounce those who disagree. Because they have practiced things their God had forbidden, without apparent consequences, they begin to doubt the power of their God, and begin to ignore Him altogether. Eventually, even their image of God changes into something that they imagine condones their behavior, or they feel contempt for the God who gave them rules in the first place. Has God changed as the people changed?
God says, "I have told you what my rules are. You have ignored my rules and broken them openly. You have boasted of your violation of my rules and tried to make you sin sound like some kind of virtue. You have even blamed and blasphemed me, saying that when I created you, I made you so that you would have to break the rules. I have not punished you because I am waiting for your repentance. But I will not wait forever. Have I changed? I have not."
Eventually, in Judges, God allows the enemies to defeat his people, and they are enslaved. In their slavery, they remember the rules, and they rediscover their God, and they cry out for help and mercy. Over and over and over, we see this same pattern. It is always the people who put distance between themselves and God, and never the other way round. God never leaves first! But if we mean to put space between us and God, he
Today, the Supreme Court is set to rule on the meaning of "marriage." Many have declared that this is a matter of "equal rights", and that our sophisticated society has a more enlightened view of this issue than society has had for the last several thousand years. Politicians are changing their positions every day, just falling over each other to endorse homosexual marriages. Most of these politicians have little real interest in what God thinks. They have no regard for the Bible as authoritative. Instead, they have become their own authorities. All rules are open to change and legislative and judicial review. We will keep the laws and rules we like, and which are convenient and popular, and we will dismiss those we don't like. We will become gods, and make all the rules, and God will be irrelevant.
On that day in Sodom when the angels of God came to Lot's house, the citizens gathered around, so filled with their own lusts, that they were ready to rape and kill without regard to any law. God was completely forgotten. Today at the Supreme Court, what God wants will not enter into the deliberations. God will be ignored. The expression of the will of the people who strongly passed the Defense of Marriage Act will be ignored. But the question comes again: What if God has not changed?
What if God is still the same? What if the things that displeased Him 4000 years ago are still displeasing. What if his patience can be exhausted? What if it is our culture which has left God, and not God who has changed? What if the rules still apply? What if His patience is not infinite?
God cannot be redefined to suit our fantasies, because the real God is not our creation; we are His. God says, "My ways are not your ways." God is not like us; our only option is to subservient to an Almighty God, and to approach Him with respect and adoration, and a healthy dose of fear, because that is "the beginning of wisdom," concerning God. What would those who were destroyed on that fateful day in Sodom wish to tell us? I expect they would have less to say about how "liberated" they had become, and how "sexually enlightened" they were, than they would about the utter futility of living in rebellion against the Almighty. Living in rebellion against God is a losing battle; it is a battle without nobility, because it fights for something that is less than the best. Ultimately it is a pitiful and desolate existence. Living in surrender to God is the life that brings real freedom, and that fulfills the great purpose for which we are created.
The fact is that God does not change. That is what makes Him our rock in every storm. If we bend Him to suit our preferences, we lose that foundation, and eventually, we lose everything. The one true and living God does not change! Ever!
Unto You! -- By Dr. J. Harold Smith
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
By Dr. J. Harold Smith
Imagine those poor shepherds on that night as they were watching their flocks of sheep. Not much happened on most nights. Perhaps a stray animal might come and have to be frightened away by the sheep, or perhaps a sheep might wander away from the others, and the shepherds might have to go searching for the lost one. On most nights, though, very little happened, and it was probably hard to stay awake.
Suddenly, on this starlit night, something terrifying happened. A bright being appeared to them, and at first, they probably had no idea what it was. The Bible says they were “sore afraid.” They were more scared than any teenager at a horror movie. They were more scared than they had ever experienced in their lives. Quite simply, they were scared to death. They had never seen an angel before.
The first words of the angel were meant to calm them down. Don’t be afraid! Unto you is born…a savior!
The Gospel was first preached on that night, under the stars, to a group of shepherds in a field. Their lives would never be the same. Surely they would never forget this experience. It shocked them, then thrilled them, and all their lives they would remember that night with awe, because they had gotten a glimpse of heaven.
Have you ever known a time when we needed a savior more? Our country is being destroyed from within by drug and alcohol addiction. Our governments no longer care about all the people, but only about grasping more power and destroying their political enemies. One group is pitted against another, until a new civil war seems a likely outcome. Immorality is the social norm, and university professors laugh at the Christian principles on which their institutions were founded. Sex education is now conducted by the state through its schools, rather than by mothers and fathers.
My belief is that people have never been more miserable. People envy the success of others, and covet what others have. Theft and robbery are justified by claims of poverty, as if God’s commandments exempted the poor. There is a single set of principles that apply to all human beings, and to violate them, or for the government to violate them is sin. Theft by the government is still theft. All the while, suicide and drug abuse continue to rise, even as Americans experience the highest level of affluence in the world. We need a savior.
All of man’s solutions to the problems of the world have failed. Big governments and poverty programs have only made things worse. Environmental programs have killed millions of people while protecting malaria carrying mosquitoes. Jobs have been destroyed or sent to other countries, so that a fish the size of a minnow can be protected. The loss of common sense is a marker of the confusion and stupidity that godlessness produces. Mankind cannot solve its own problems. It is capable of making them worse. Socialism and communism claimed to be able to bring about heaven on earth, but in their names more people have died than in all the wars between nations. Mankind needs the savior, and that savior’s name is not Communism, but Jesus Christ.
On the occasion of the birth of Jesus, those little insignificant shepherds were chosen by God to hear the news. King Herod didn’t find out until much later. God wanted all of us little insignificant people to know that the savior was for us. Jesus came for me and for you, and for all of us “little people.” God loved the humble and the powerless. He wanted us to hear the good news.
Today many of you are struggling with your lives, and all the problems you are facing. It may be a problem of health, or of finances, or a problem in your marriage. Perhaps you are struggling with loneliness, and fear in your life. Those angels, and this whole Christmas season is about one thing. Christmas is about the Gospel. The message that the savior has come, is, for us. He has come unto us, to help us, to carry our burden, to solve our problems, the worst problems, that we face. He has come to forgive our sins, and to make us the children of God. He has come to bring us peace and good will. He can replace the problems of our lives with peace. He can replace our suffering with joy, and our powerlessness with his sovereign control over the world and our lives.
No Christian should be gloomy and somber as we read the second chapter of Luke. Our hearts should bound with joy and hope as we read those words again. “Unto you…a savior is given.” Given by God, not earned, but given…that is the gift of God that comes to each of us this Christmas. So celebrate this glory of the gift of the Gospel!
Americans Dying for What?
Thursday, December 01, 2011
After ten years of fighting in Afghanistan something has been eliminated from that country. Is it not the Taliban, or Muslim extremism. It is not corruption, ignorance and poverty. What has been eliminated after the loss of several thousand American soldiers, and countless billions of dollars? The answer? Christian churches!
As of March of this year, all the Christian churches in Afghanistan had been destroyed. Before the American intervention, the world reacted in shock and anger when ancient Buddhist carvings were dynamited by the Taliban. How many news reports have you heard of the world being outraged by the destruction of Christian churches? All we hear is the sound of crickets chirping.
The new American religion of secularism is bearing fruit, not only at home, but around the world. There are many political and social agencies in our country which are delighted to eliminate Christ from our institutions. Most of these people are atheistic or agnostic, and the ones who claim to be Christian are hardly Christian in any meaningful Biblical sense. Nature abhors a vacuum and will rush to fill it. Satan loves a vacuum (or absence of real spiritual faith), and will gladly fill it with his religion of Secularism.
Our pitiful politicians went along with the demands of Muslim countries when they told our soldiers that they could die in their countries, but they could not openly worship or carry Bibles or attempt to spread their faith. Our politicians thought their political goals were more important than honoring the Almighty God who made America great! The logic of it is hard to grasp: We can blow Muslims to pieces with drones armed with Hellfire missiles, but we dare not “offend” them by giving them a Bible. Is it any wonder that God’s wrath is gathering around our nation?
So all the Christian churches have been gone, and soon, our American troops will be gone, and the Taliban will be back, and soon things will be worse than they were on September 11, 2001. Futility, all is futility, says Ecclesiastes. All action without Jesus Christ at its core is doomed to futility. The governor of Rhode Island demands that no one use the word “Christmas tree”, and must instead say “Holiday tree.” Even the speaking of the name of Christ in public is now offensive to the governor of one of our oldest states. Christmas is a holy time, and a time for joy for every believer, but to our politicians, it merely makes them uncomfortable.
All who are embarrassed by the name of Jesus Christ are lost. Jesus said that if we deny him, he will deny us before the Father. And when that day comes, that will be our only hope. We place our faith in Jesus Christ to justify us on that day. Unless he knows us, nothing else will matter. We seem to have been cursed by clever politicians who are spiritually ignorant; they worship money, love their addictions, and care little for the traditions and beliefs which established and sustained the country.
What can we do? We can be of good cheer. We know the end of the story! With real joy and without hatred or bitterness, we can proclaim Romans 1:16 with Paul,and say that we are not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone! Whether the world knows it or not, Jesus Christ died for all of us. The killing of Christians and the burning of churches in the Afghanistan, Nigeria, or other parts of the world may not bother our current set of politicians, but it is offensive to the Almighty. Rather than worrying about which interest group might be “offended”, we would all do well to avoid offense to the only One who ultimately matters.
Another Cost of Denying God
Monday, September 26, 2011
On Sunday I was talking with a local judge who was telling me that the community drug problem has been made worse by a Supreme Court decision which holds that Alcoholics Anonymous is a “religious” program. Therefore, he cannot refer an alcoholic or drug addict to attend AA or a similar program which has “religious elements.” In AA the program makes reference to a “higher power” and dependence on a higher power is seen as the basis of recovery. He now only has the option to send them to jail, or to a “secular” treatment program (neither of which are likely to be effective.)
I don’t know who brought the suit against court ordered programs, probably the ACLU, but they should know that in their quest to avoid offending some atheist or the other, they have doomed many alcoholics and drug addicts to death who would have recovered.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are regarded as “progressive”. That means that over time, they get worse and worse. (Politicians who call themselves “progressives” should be aware of that meaning of the word.) The medical community also regards them as “lethal.” That is, over time, they predictably lead to death. For many addicts the concept of a higher power in AA may lead to an interest in what this “higher power” is, and many alcoholics have found their way to Jesus Christ as that higher power. Whether one agrees with, or disagrees with AA, it continues to have a higher recovery rate than any other program. So when courts can no longer order any program making reference, directly or indirectly, to God, then many people will die who might otherwise have been rescued from death by addiction.
Scripture tells us that “the fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” So in serving the cause of fools, the ACLU has cut desperate people off from the only help they might receive. Drug addiction (and alcoholism) cost our society billions of dollars, and tens of thousands of lives each year. Recently, death by drug overdose became a larger annual killer than car accidents. A large percentage of these deaths are young people. We all know someone in our families, or in families of close friends, who have either died or suffered personal disasters as a result of this epidemic. Does the ACLU care about those lives? No, it is only concerned with preventing the occasional atheist from feeling “offended”. Which is worse, to see an teenager die of an overdose, or for the atheist to feel “uncomfortable” when that teenager is court ordered into a faith-based treatment program. Is the extremist separation of church and state more important than the lives of our children?
Our country is now feeling the consequences of the rejection of God in the public place. We now see our communities riddled with drug-related crime. Inner cities are no longer places we would dare to go because of drug-related violence. Now drugs make our highways unsafe for our families, and the ACLU obsessively and destructively pursues “the separation of church and state” by cutting off addicts from help. The tiny minority of atheists will celebrate their little victories, until the day comes when their sons or daughters are dying from an addiction. The rejection of God-based values has led to a sensual pursuit of gratification, and as a result, we now are experiencing growing economic problems. Greed and selfishness have resulted in the worship of money, and now even the government proposes to steal your property and “fairly” give it to those who covet it. Is covetousness and theft acceptable in God’s eyes, if it is practiced by the government?
Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform the heart and mind. It is the total transformation of corrupted human nature that is needed. Through the new birth in Christ, there is true redemption and recovery. AA can point the way, but ultimately, only Christ can transform the addict and the fool into free men or women.
Let us pray that God will open the eyes of those who try to wage war on Him. Let them see how their actions are destroying lives, and let them get a glimpse of the majesty of God. The enemies of the Almighty will always be allowed to enjoy their season of pride and ego-centered victory. Only God’s phenomenal grace and mercy prevent their immediate destruction, but God’s mercy is not infinite, and will eventually come to an end.
Let us renew our commitment to defend our faith, to promote the Gospel at every opportunity, and not be discouraged by the apparent success of the ungodly. We need to continue to share the news that Jesus Christ brings hope and a new life to the addicted. He alone is able to break the chains of slavery, and to make us children and heirs of God. In trying to make God irrelevant and even illegal, the enemies of Christ are preparing for themselves a godless eternity, and that is a truly chilling prospect.
Serious About Your Faith?
Monday, September 05, 2011
Looking through a Christian magazine, I ran across several pages which were advertisements for Christian colleges and universities. One of the ads had a picture of a young man playing a guitar, and in bold letters the words, “If You Are Serious About Your Faith.” The ad was trying to say that if you are serious about your faith, then you should think about coming to that college. Something bothered me about the ad
It is interesting to me that the people who produced the ad could have chosen many images to convey “serious about your faith.” Perhaps a picture of a young person sweating to help build a shelter in Haiti, or a Bible student taking notes on her daily reading, or a young Christian feeding a meal to a homeless person. Instead, they chose a picture of a young man playing a guitar. Is this what counts for serious about your faith these days? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that music is not important or that it is wrong. Christian music can teach and uplift, encourage and embolden. But playing the guitar is not the first image that comes to mind when I think about serious faith.
There are many people who have been examples of seriousness in their relationship with God. We were recently talking about David Brainerd, the 18th century missionary to the Indian tribes of the northeast. He gave his life, lived in loneliness and physical hardship to share his faith, and died from tuberculosis at the age of 29. Nate Saint, a missionary pilot, graduate of Wheaton college, lived in Ecuador and was murdered by the people he was trying to reach. That is seiousness about your faith. I think of Martin Luther hunched over the Bible, agonizing over the meaning of the scripture and weeping over how far the church had departed from God’s Word. I think of seminary students and students in our pastors school who come home from a day of work, and then work into the night reading and praying and asking for God’s help as they get ready to preach on Sunday morning.
We live in a time when being serious about your faith may not mean much more than being able to sing forty verses of the worship hymn, in which all the verses are identical, or to have a fish symbol on the back of your car. For the average Christian today, they can’t tell you the difference between the doctrine of sanctification and the doctrine of justification, and how that relates to whether Christians sin after conversion. The average Christian has no idea that people will be killed today because of their faith. When I see another “coexist” bumper sticker (made up of symbols of all the world’s religions) on the back of a Christian’s car, I wonder if they would have the courage to display that if they were driving in Saudi Arabia? Being a Christian in many parts of the world can get you killed. Do we have that kind of seriousness about our faith?
The fact is that Jesus called us to be ready to die for him. And yet people care so little about him that they rarely bother to study the Bible and what it says about him. They may sing the worship song and even play along on the guitar, but I wonder if they would bother to spend a couple of hours a week studying God’s word? Would they feel grounded enough in their faith to want to explain it to someone who was a Muslim or an atheist?
We need to be serious about our faith. Young people need to understand that there is a big difference between being “cool” and being “Christian.” Cool is always acceptable to the world, because it is about ego, about looking good. Christian is never acceptable to the world because it is about making Christ look good, even if we are being humiliated and persecuted. We need higher education, and every Christian needs to be a student, “studying to show ourselves approved.” But we need to be living our faith in ways that glorify God, even if it makes us look very un-cool. Being a Christian can get you killed, but being cool can destroy your soul.
Christianity and Climate Change
Friday, December 03, 2010
Christianity and Climate Change
From the Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2010
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, invoked the ancient jaguar goddess Ixchel in her opening statement to delegates gathered in Cancun, Mexico, noting that Ixchel was not only goddess of the moon, but also "the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you -- because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools."
For the global warming activists who seek to regulate manufacturing and carbon emissions in developed country, and now, to redistribute wealth from richer nations to poorer nations, there are two central articles of faith:
1. The global climate is changing. (They used to claim that it was cooling (in the 1970’s), then that was rising (in the 1990-2010 phase), and now that it is just “changing.”
2. Human beings are the cause of the change and can reverse the change through government regulation, taxation, and redistribution of wealth.
Both of these propositions are highly debatable. The first is basically a fifty year weather forecast, and when the three day weather forecast here in the Smoky Mountains becomes more reliable, we might be inclined to take fifty-year forecasts more seriously. The first claim is theoretically measurable, but reliable global data collection is very difficult. The second claim is meaningless until the first is established. The “global warming” debate has been characterized by distortion and outright lying for political gain, and when a few years ago it was claimed by one American politician that “global warming is settled science,” the speaker declared himself a liar, and/or ignorant about science.
The idea that mankind can change the weather begins to sound remarkably arrogant. Through history, human beings have sought to control the world. From the tower of Babel, through the Caesars, to Hitler and Stalin, Empires have risen and fallen. World leaders have emerged and faded. Political movements have come and gone. But human beings never seem to learn the lesson of humility. The ancient Greeks called this “hubris”, the form of pride that sought to elevate human beings to the level of the gods. They recognized that it always was followed by the destruction of that human. The Proverbs warn that “pride goes before a fall,” and a proud spirit leads to destruction. Human beings have loved to exaggerate their power and importance since the beginning. In fact, falsely based pride was the sin of Lucifer, and that same sin contaminates the human personality in a variety of ways. The movement to control the climate through politics is yet another form of pride and “hubris.” In fact, all politics that elevates itself above the Creator is sinful.
Yesterday, news reports carried the story that scientists believe there may be three times as many stars as previously thought. The universe, once again, is proving to be bigger than human imagination. The number given was “300 sextillion.” I really don’t even know what that number means, but it is certainly large. How many times in our lifetime, have we heard scientists make claims, with high degrees of certainty, about the size of the universe. It always gets bigger with the passing decades. The honest conclusion should be that scientists really don’t know how big it is, but every conjecture so far, has been an huge underestimate. The Creator is also much bigger than any of us have managed yet to imagine.
C.S. Lewis said that when one believes in nothing, he will believe in anything. The story from Cancun of the U. N. climate change official invoking the help of a “leopard goddess” made me think of that quote from C.S. Lewis. Ms. Figueres is probably not a believer in “Ixchel”, and I doubt her “invocation” was sincere. Like many in positions of power and influence she probably believes in nothing supernatural. The greatest power she knows is the power wielded by governments and bureaucrats. She believes in that kind of power. If she knows nothing of the one Almighty God, she will not mind invoking something as silly as the “jaguar goddess.” Many in the environmental movement have made a god of the environment. They consider it a sin to “use” the natural world in any way. Animals are to be elevated to the level of humans, with equal rights. If malaria kills two million people a year because we won’t kill mosquitoes, that’s just too bad. I agriculture in California is destroyed, and people go hungry, because we need to save an endangered snail, that’s just too bad. For the U. N. environmentalists, man is made for the Earth, not the other way around. Like the old legalists, they prescribe a complex set of rules and laws, and live in a world where there is no grace, because there is no real God.
(As an aside, I wonder what would have been the outrage if Ms. Figueres had invoked the name of Jesus Christ? It would have been a scandal, because the name of Jesus Christ is the only name given under heaven whereby men and women can be saved. This is the one truth which Satan hates to hear spoken. His minions are outraged when the name of Jesus is reverenced. Want to know who Satan’s servants are? Just claim in public that Jesus is who he said he is. )
The international environmental movement is about as far from God-ordained as it can get. I hope that Christians who are supporting these movements will re-evaluate them in light of the basic Christian beliefs. Only God, in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are worthy of worship. Right behavior, ethical behavior, righteousness, comes from submission to God as the authority in our lives. We cannot worship God and Earth, or God and environment, or God and any other thing. Worship of any other is idolatry, and God does not abide idolatry. The worship of false gods always ends in destruction. I think we should thank Ms. Figueres for making it so clear that the spirit behind radical environmentalism is not the Spirit of Truth. Only the elevation of Jesus Christ will right the sin-sick world; only through Jesus Christ can sins be forgiven, and can our land be healed.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
November 11, 2010
When Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Christ, and at first didn’t recognize him, she was experiencing two things. She was grief stricken, and she was searching for Him, or at least, looking for His body. When she saw Jesus, she thought that he might be a gardener who was there to look after the cemetery grounds. He asked her two questions which went straight to the heart of what she was experiencing.
Why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?
I find so many people today whose hearts are full of sadness. Life has disappointed them. Like Mary in the cemetery, they are feeling the losses of life. As we age, we see may go through the experience of losing those we love, or feeling our bodies give way to aging. We may lose jobs or prestige. Loss is a part of living. Grief is a part of loss. Mary was feeling the full impact of grief at that moment. Coming to the tomb to spend some time with the body, she now discovers that even the body is gone. Jesus asks us, just as he asked Mary, “Why are you weeping?”
Her first thought was that perhaps this man she saw had done something with the body. She wanted to find this physical remainder of the man who had been the center of her life since she had met him. Standing before her was the man she was looking for, but he was much more than she had imagined. She was looking for a dead man, but he was living.
She was looking for a connection to the past, but he was the future. Jesus asks us, just as he asked her, “Whom do you seek?”
The answer to Jesus’ two questions stood in front of her. In the risen Lord, Jesus banishes the need for further grief. In the risen Lord, Jesus is the one we all seek.
Right now, as you look for some way through your grief, as you come seeking someone who will put your questions to rest, He stands before you. Jesus Christ, the risen, divine, Lord. He is the end of the quest, and the victor over death and loss.
Mary’s response has always seemed to me to hold profound meaning. She responds with the Aramaic word “Raboni” which means simply “my teacher.” Jesus is many things, but isn’t it beautiful that Jesus is the one who can be our teacher? These days we see so many who are looking for something, or someone who will teach them. They are willing to turn their lives over to con-men and the most ridiculous and dangerous pursuits in hopes of finding “it.” New Age scams abound, and liars and wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing posing as prosperity preachers offer to lead the unwary. We even have “seeker-friendly” churches today that are trying to respond to this craving in the human heart for the real Teacher.
For those of us who have found our Lord in Jesus Christ, I am thankful that He is also my Teacher. I have no need of a guru or cult-leader, or even a self-centered ego-maniacal church leader, because I have Jesus Christ as my “Raboni”, as my divine teacher. No other teacher has conquered death, and can give us wisdom from the perspective of the Almighty Creator.
If you are a seeker, suffering along through your life, or perhaps the suffering has not yet begun in earnest, but you know something important is missing, and you are looking for that missing something….Jesus Christ stands before you and says, “Why are you sad; whom do you seek?” Trust Him to be your teacher. Only Jesus Christ can console the grief of the human heart, and only through Him can our souls be satisfied.
What Did We Learn From The Great Depression?
Monday, November 08, 2010
Human arrogance creates problems, but we never seem to learn that lesson. In the 1920’s the nation was optimistic, confident, and increasingly focused on money. Things were getting better, the stock market was climbing, and people were getting rich. Because they were rich, people believed they knew something, and so people listened to them. But they were wrong.
Lesson Number One: Because people are rich, it doesn’t mean they are intelligent, or that they know much about anything. A second and related lesson is that because someone is famous, it does not follow that they are intelligent or deserve to have their viewpoint heard.
As the nation collapsed, and financial ruin became the norm, people remembered that there were things more important than making a lot of money. People remembered that it might be important to know how to plant a garden, can vegetables, and repair your own equipment. Having a few acres in the country became more important that having a fancy apartment in the city.
Lesson Number Two: It is better to be prepared for hard times than to spend all your effort learning how to be sophisticated and successful in good times. It’s better to know something about how to fix your well pump than how to give yourself Botox injections.
In good times people tend to forget about God; they think they have all they need, and don’t need God’s help. As the depression deepened, many people realized they were depending on the wrong things. People, and communities, turned to God with a new urgency and sincerity.
Lesson Number Three: When hard times come, there is security only in our faith in God. How many other things have we tried to substitute for God and God-given values? Our President-elect was quoted as saying that being Christian was being true to one’s self. I would beg to differ. Being a Christian is about being true to the Holy Spirit; that is often the opposite of being true to “one’s self,” which is always selfish, sensual, and rebelliously arrogant.
All of these lessons have been forgotten. My parents lived through the Depression, and they learned something about faith in God, about the meaning of hard work, and about not taking anything (except your faith in Christ) for granted. They learned not to trust wealthy advisors just because they were wealthy (or famous). Once, my Dad was asked by a famous televangelist to join him in an endeavor. When my Dad refused, saying he did not feel the Lord was in it, the televangelist became very angry with my father. Later that man came to Dad and apologized, saying he had made a big mistake.
Although my parents were eventually comfortable, they never took it for granted. My dad worked until five weeks before his death at the age of 91. Because he had gone through the experience of being wiped out financially, he never trusted money. He loved to garden, always trying new crops to see what would work better. He would have been nauseated by the idea of people having surgery to “look better.”
Most importantly, my parents learned to trust God. When they were first married, and my older sister was just an infant, they came down to what was literally their last dime and head of cabbage. My Dad got on his knees and prayed, and before the day was out, the Lord miraculously intervened to provide for their needs.
Perhaps an economic recession or even a depression will remind us of what is important. There are many people who are frightened, and for the first time they are questioning the things they have trusted, like money and government, and their own wisdom. When we get scared and humbled, our ears are more likely to be opened to our need for Jesus Christ. If we have another depression and it shakes people out of their complacency, and brings them to Christ, perhaps it will be a blessing. Our country has enjoyed many years of security and prosperity, and God has become irrelevant. But the truth is that our country needs God, has always needed Him, but in our arrogance we thought we were enough all by ourselves. Serving the self will never be enough, and in truth, it is the road that leads to destruction both personally and as a nation. Until we learn these lessons of the Great Depression, we are preparing the way for the next one.