Wednesday, August 12, 2020
One of the very first things I remember learning about the Bible was that the Word of God is to be treasured. I must have been about seven or eight years old. The place was South Georgia Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. It was an evening class right before the evening service. I had laid my Bible on the window ledge and put something else on top of it. My sweet teacher instructed me that the Word of God is precious and to be treated with respect. She told me never to place other things on top of it.
Now, I don't necessarily think the Bible must always be on top of a physical stack. But I do believe it is to be esteemed above any other book or item we have. It contains our "love letter" from God. His words, delivered over the ages, preserved through time so that we can hear directly from Him. He uses them to teach us, to guide us, to comfort us and to assure us that He is intimately involved in our lives.
A week or so ago as I sat and watched the news, I saw a report about a Bible being burned in the street. After my shock and anger came incredible sadness and I wept. In my mind, I saw Jesus on the cross saying, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." I wondered if, at any time in their lives, these persons involved had ever personally cradled a Bible in their hands, opened it and been exposed to the powerful truths contained therein.
We are witnessing large groups of individuals who are turning their backs on morality and attempting to rewrite the rules of society. They want nothing to do with obedience to the law, with patriotism or any other system that directs behavior. Instead they want to do what feels good to them even if that means destroying the life of another. God's Word stands as a beacon of truth which directs us to forego our own will and desires and to follow Him. It stands to reason that they would lash out at it as well.
It is vitally important that those of us who believe in Almighty God and the Bible as His inerrant Word, be willing to stand up for what we know to be right. It is time for churches to return to preaching God's Word rather than tickling ears with "feel good" messages. Some of what God has to say is hard to hear. We don't want to be confronted about the sin in our lives. We want to follow the world's excuses and blame our shortcomings on anyone or anything besides ourselves. But until we encounter Jesus and admit the truth about what we have done we will not find forgiveness.
We must be willing to speak God's truth. We are seeing more and more vitriol being directed at Christianity. It will only continue to worsen. This is not the time to hide our heads but to boldly stand in the name of Jesus. Our children need to be raised in true Bible believing and teaching churches and what they learn there needs to be modeled by parents and reinforced at home. We need to be fully aware of what they are hearing as "truth" at school so that we can make sure they are not confused and led away.
I know how difficult it is. It is frightening to speak out. We could encounter disapproval, criticism, mocking or even worse. But in this day of kneeling to lies, we must be careful to kneel only before our Lord. He left Heaven, came to earth and died a torturous death for us. What are we willing to do for Him?
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
My undergraduate degree is in English. In the four years that I was attending school, I read a great number of books and stories as well as wrote a great many papers and stories. However, there were moments when I would experience “writer’s block”. It is a term used by individuals to describe that moment when they just can’t find a stream of thought that would allow them to easily write a story. During those moments, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t seem to put the right words together. Sometimes, I would doodle and just let my mind wander a bit. Other times, I would take a walk or get a cup of coffee and hope that something would just pop into my head that would start my story.
As I reflected on those moments, I quickly realized that the story and words were right there in front of me, but I was trying to create a literary masterpiece. When I try to use flowery language and impress others with my command of the English language, that is where things begin to bog down and cause me to experience “writer’s block”.
Many years ago, I was asked to write down my testimony and deliver it to the congregation. I thought about the request and figured that I could easily put into words what had happened in my life that led me to my relationship with the Lord. Well, it was harder than I expected.
I sat quietly in my study staring at a blank computer screen with a flashing cursor waiting for my first word. Each time I started to write, I immediately deleted the few words that I managed to type. They just didn’t seem right. I even tried using the standard children’s book approach and started with “Once upon a time”. To make matters even worse, I added, “in a galaxy far, far away”. Yes. I tried everything. I walked around the house, went outside, put it aside for awhile and used all of the tricks and techniques of writers to take that first step in writing my story.
As I sat, once again, in front of my computer, I thought of the other times when I had to write my story. Everyone has, while in school, been given the opportunity to write about himself or herself. Think back a bit. There was that one assignment given to you by your teacher to write your autobiography. To make matters even worse, you had to read it aloud to the rest of the class. Remember how you felt about it?
I felt the same way about writing my testimony and reading it to the entire congregation. We all want our stories to be exciting and filled with great moments and events. We imagine that our stories would be turned into a movie of epic proportion sort of like “The Ten Commandments”.
As we begin to think about the events in our lives, we soon realize that not all events are dramatic and full of fireworks and marching bands. We, for the most part, have very simple lives that don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance. We do experience moments of turmoil and ordeal, but when you average all of the ups and downs, our lives are uneventful. Most of the time, we lead very simple and smooth lives.
If we were to compare our lives to flying, we would soon realize that most of it is boring, but there would be moments of terror.
The great American military pilot, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, said this about flying, “Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror.”
When you think about what he said about flying and compare it to life you begin to see that there are moments in our lives that are filled with sheer terror. It is during those moments that our faith comes into play and helps us cope. Those moments are the ones we need to share. Because of them, our relationship with the Lord is strengthened and we begin to realize that God’s grace is truly sufficient in all cases.
When I thought about my life in that context, I began to tell my story of how I had lost my way because of anger with God and how I didn’t want to have a relationship with Him. As I relived those moments, I realized that my testimony is special not only to me but also to others who are or were going through a similar situation. By sharing those moments of sheer terror with others, we help strengthen them and build stronger relationships with God the Father. It is not enough to just share the great moments. We must share all the moments, good or bad, that make up our lives.
As believers we are called upon to share our testimonies with others in order to tell them about God’s love and plan of salvation for all. We must, at a moment's notice, be prepared to share our stories and how we faced those moments of terror.
Peter, in chapter three of his first epistle, writes, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.”
There are a couple of key elements that we need to use when we give our stories to those who ask about our faith. The first is to be ready. I encourage each of you to think about your faith and write down your reason for accepting Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord of your life. The other is to be gentle and respectful. Remember, no one saves another. God is the only one who gives salvation freely to those who accept His son as their Savior. All you need to do is plant the seed. If the ground is fertile, the seed will sprout and grow. If someone doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, that is fine as well. All you can do is be respectful. If they speak out against you, don’t return evil with evil. Let your good life speak for itself.
It might take a little time for the seed to sprout and grow, but you, at least, sowed the seed by sharing your story of love and salvation and how you were able to overcome your moments of sheer terror.
By being ready to share your testimony in a gentle and respectful way, Father God will provide you with the opportunities to share it with others. He will see your work and reward you for it. Just be ready and always stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.