Trivial Pursuit

Friday, Nov. 27                                                                      

The Devil and fallen angels are to be cast into the lake of fire.  But since they are spirits, will they suffer as a flesh and blood human being would suffer?  And what about the gnashing of teeth?  Do spirits have teeth?  And why will they gnash their teeth unless they are in pain?  Why I got to thinking about this I have no idea.  We could well put this into the category of trivial pursuit—except that the lake of fire is not trivial nor is it something to pursue.  It’s real—and it’s relevant.  I’ve often thought of the horrors of drowning, choking to death, or dying in a fire.  These are not pleasant thoughts.  But when one thinks about the eternal nature of burning, it gets overwhelming.  I wouldn’t want my worst enemies to experience that.  Yet, sad to say, I’m rather blasé about this—almost indifferent.  Our relatives and friends and even little known acquaintances need to be told how to avoid such a fate.  There’s a sense of urgency here that I fail to deal with.  God hasn’t told us about the lake of fire without reason.  Please pray with me that I will no longer treat this as “trivial pursuit.”

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Daily Thanks

Thursday, Nov. 26    

It’s Thanksgiving Day and you’re probably already into a festive day—family and friends, lots of good food, basketball and football games—altogether a day to enjoy.  Hopefully, you spent a few minutes giving thanks to God for all those nice things.  Some years back, one of my sons-in-law questioned why we always thank God for our food at mealtimes, but not for clothes and other things.  He was right!  It’s not that we should quit praying at meal time, but that we should expand this to a lot of other blessings.  Over the years, I have tried to respond accordingly.  For example, when I go to bed, I sometimes thank God for a warm, cozy house, and a comfortable bed, even an electric blanket.  When I get up in the morning sometimes I thank God for the rack of clothes in my closet.  Once in awhile I even thank God that my wife of some 62 years is still with me and in reasonably good health, that she already has the coffee made, and greets me with a warm “Good morning.”  You probably noticed that I said “sometimes” in all of this.  Yes, I’m a long way from thanking God for all His blessings.  A thought came to me this morning.  There is not a single moment in my day that God is not blessing me with something—air to breathe, food, health, a car, money in the bank, ad infinitum.  My responses to all His blessings are closer to 0 % than 100 %, I can assure you.  If I were to thank God all day long, I would have no time for anything else.  And, by the way, most of the above is dealing only with material blessings.  Of greater import are the spiritual blessings, my salvation, my joy in serving God, my destiny.  OK, thanking God has to be limited by time, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

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Cleaning Up Our Lake

Tuesday, Nov. 25                                     

“We are called to fish, not to clean pollution out of the lake.”  This is a common expression among Christians.  The analogy is apt.  It’s impossible to clean up our world without cleaning up the sinners who cause the pollution.  A similar proverb:  “You catch ’em; God will clean ’em.”   So we can’t clean up the lake and we can’t clean the fish.  We are not commissioned to do either one.  Our job is to bring people to Christ so He can clean them up.  Jesus said to his inchoate disciples, some of whom were fishermen:  “I will make you fishers of men.”  So how do we respond to the immorality in our world?  Accepting it, condoning it?  No.  We are told to be light, to let it shine brightly, to let the truth of the gospel be known.  We need to take a stand against evil practices—adultery, child abuse, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc.  But making our position clear is one thing; trying to eradicate it without dealing with the cause is doomed to failure.  The pollution comes from sinners, who by nature will sin.  Cleaning up our “lake” is both impossible and counter-productive.  Spending time on futile attempts to clean up the lake takes us away from our assigned job.  It’s time and energy wasted.  Our commission is to point people to Christ, the “light of the world,” who will change them from within, making saints out of sinners.  We need to concentrate on the “fish” for whom Christ died.  The lake will only return to its pristine condition when there are no more impure fish polluting it.  That won’t happen in this life, but we can salvage a few fish.

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Monday, Nov. 24                                                       

“The mule is backward about going forward.  The Bible says to not be like the mule.”—Vance Havner.  He probably gets this from Ps. 32:9:  “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle.”  All animals can be temperamental, but the mule is notorious for being stubborn.  There are milder forms of this trait.  We can be casual about things that we know we should do. We can simply postpone it for another time, we can make the excuse that something else is more important, we can say we don’t have the ability to do it, or we can just wait and someone else will do it.  I’m reminded of the old saw:  “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”  Likewise, “stubborn by any other name is still stubborn.”  I probably should stop right here before I call someone a mule.

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Perpetual Juveniles

Wednesday, Nov. 23                            

“You are only young once, but immaturity can last a lifetime.”  We’ve all met people that fit this description and probably none of my readers would include himself in that category.  But let’s pursue it a bit.  There are three reasons for a person perpetuating immaturity:  mental deficiency, physical deficiency, or attitudinal deficiency.  The first two is not of his own choice, the third one is.  There is something demeaning about choosing to be a life time juvenile.  A person who wants to be taken care of and have every thing handed to him all through life is to be pitied.  He’s abnormal.  He contributes nothing toward his own well being and nothing to society.  He might as well not exist.  In fact, society would be better off without him.  I think a good number of street people fit into this category, too.  Giving up on a normal life is indeed sad.  It’s easier to float downstream than to swim upstream.  Now, let’s apply this to the spiritual life.  A person can be very successful in terms of material things, education, work ethic, financial success, etc. and be a miserable failure in his spiritual life.  There are thousands, if not millions, of people occupying pews who are not beyond the childhood stage in his Christian experience.  Some theologians have gone so far as to say that without fruit—evidence of a changed life–, he is not saved.  The entire New Testament, especially the epistles, hone in on this.  Becoming a mature Christian is a common theme.  Sadly, those in this aberrant  condition are not apt to read those passages, and if they did, the message would probably be ignored.  This is very discouraging, but I’m not writing it for no purpose.  We who are serious about our walk with the Lord are role models, but we need to be aware of the spiritually immature people around us and do something about it.  Start with prayer.  Then take action to meet the needs of these fellow believers.  It will take wisdom, patience, and time.  And we will have to depend on God for doing it His way.  Gal. 6:1:  “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”  I’m not sure that immaturity is a sin, but this admonition is certainly applicable.  We are our brother’s keeper.    

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Truth is Truth

Saturday, Nov. 21                                                      

“People cannot change truth, but truth can change people.”  Our modern world is filled with people who are ambivalent about truth.  They accept whatever “ivory tower” people say without question, whether it’s evolution or sexual orientation.  After all, experts should know what is true.  Conveniently forgotten is that these men are human and not only can be simply wrong, but also skewed in their thinking by their belief systems.  At the same time, they also deliberately shy away from any truth that would limit their desire to do whatever they like with no restrictions.  “Morality is just what each one perceives it to be.”  In other words, when it comes to morality, there is no standard at all.  Truth is ignored.  That inner feeling that something is wrong is deliberately and vigorously suppressed.  People don’t want to change and the most convenient way to maintain the status quo is to ignore or deny truth.  However, most non-believers are not really happy.  They are not satisfied with life.  There’s something missing.  In other words, God is still at work, the Holy Spirit is doing his job, and a door, perhaps open just a crack, is still there.  We need to exploit that, continue to preach the truth, and gently love them back to God.  WE can’t change them, but God can.  Truth is still truth.

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Wallflowers and All Stars

Friday, Nov. 20                                                                      

In my Nov. 1 blog I wrote about how each of us is created individually and uniquely, so that each one impacts his world in a unique way.  Once converted, this takes on new meaning.  God intends that each of us would have a unique ministry.  There are two main areas of ministry.  (1) We are to build up one another so that God can use each of us in a greater way, and (2) being His witnesses to those who are still  bound for hell.  We all share those two purposes, but each of us has unique ways to do it.  Unfortunately, too often we fail to achieve those purposes for which God made us.  There are any number of reasons for that, but part of it is our tendency to want to be like everyone else.  God made us unique and we want to be assembly line robots.  We are comfortable when we don’t stand out like a sore thumb.  Interestingly enough, we also want to be better than others.  That is, we want to shine in some way, be a better scholar, a better athlete, a leader of some sort, or make more money than others.  Both of these self serving desires side track us from carrying out God’s plans for our lives.  And both of them have their Satanic origins.  Blaming our sin nature is OK, but we need to remember that God has an antidote.  He is in the process of sanctifying us.  As we respond properly to His goal of making us holy, we will be more comfortable using our uniqueness to serve Him.  We also will be less interested in being like everyone else and less interested in elevating ourselves to a starring role.  As we would say in Bolivia—Ojala!  (May it be so!)

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