Monthly Archives: March 2016
In just a month and a half, our sweet little Chloe will graduate from preschool. She’s a rambunctious mess with a tender heart and an imagination bigger than the oceans. I’m not ready. She’s no longer my baby girl, and I never thought it would happen this quickly. We got the note from her teacher a week or two ago about upcoming events at school, including preschool graduation, and that’s when it all started to sink in.
I began texting my family to let them know to mark their calendars when I reminded myself I should call my Papaw. He’s been to each of my nephews’ preschool graduations, camera in hand, big smile on his face. And then the tears began to fall.
I don’t usually cry about stuff. I can list, over the last ten years, the few moments in life that I’ve cried over. When my Papaw passed away last month, I didn’t cry. He had…
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From the Pastor: James Harris
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Quite often in the Scriptures the Christian life is compared to running a race. Obviously, there are similarities, or the Apostle Paul would not have used the illustration.
In Hebrews 12:1 Paul lists two activities which are absolutely necessary if one is to successfully complete the race. First of all, the runner must put off all unnecessary weight. There is a reason runners do not compete in street clothes and dress shoes. For one, they weigh too much and would be a hindrance to their running. Similarly, there are weights and sins that we, as God’s people, carry around. These are detrimental to our efforts in running this race of the Christian life. What is “the sin which doth so easily beset us?” It is one you (or I) are most fond of. It may be something different for different people, but it is that area of our lives where Satan knows he can take advantage of us. God’s Word says we are to lay this sin aside, to get it far away from us, so that we do not give it opportunity in our lives.
The other thing we must do is “run with patience the race that is set before us.” Patience speaks of endurance. I have encountered people in races that, for one reason or another, were unable to finish. They didn’t endure. Maybe some began the race too fast and were overtaken by fatigue. Others might not have trained properly and just weren’t ready for the race. Still others may have expected an easy course and when faced with difficulties, dropped out. All of these remind me of various types of believers. Some burst on the scene, wanting to be involved in everything, but they soon burn out. Others make a good start, but because they are not properly trained in the Word, they falter and fall by the wayside. The third group finds the going a lot more difficult than they imagined and decide to quit.
It is my prayer that we will be a people well-trained and given to endurance.
When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, I made extra money picking strawberries for a man who had a small farm on the edge of town. He sold his produce from a little roadside stand.
Because I was paid by the quart, I figured the faster I picked, the more I would make. But the farmer informed me that there was another requirement.
“Don’t just fill your boxes to the edge. Fill them till they run over and won’t hold any more,” he said. “I’ve always operated on the principle that if I charge a fair price and give my customers a little extra, they’ll come back again.” And they did.
What I learned was that we reap what we sow … in every facet of our lives. Give the minimum, expect to receive the minimum. Give lavishly, extravagantly, and be rewarded in…
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By Marcus Brotherton on Mar 25, 2016 10:16 am
Editor’s note: This article first appeared at www.marcusbrotherton.com
As a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army in the jungles of Thailand during WWII, Ernest Gordon, a commander in a Scottish infantry battalion, saw firsthand the depths of depravity that can happen when man sinks to his lowest.
At age 24, Gordon was captured while escaping from Sumatra after the fall of Singapore. With other prisoners he was marched into the jungle to build the notorious bridge on the River Kwai.
Starvation, beatings, disease, and dawn-to-dusk slave labor were hallmarks of the death camp. The Scottish and British soldiers, normally bastions of composure, good cheer, and self-discipline, were slowly influenced by death’s destructive grip. Morale broke down, along with concern for one’s fellow man.
Over time, “nothing mattered except to survive,” wrote Gordon. “We lived by the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest. It was a case of ‘I look out for myself and to hell with everyone else.’ The weak were trampled underfoot, the sick ignored or resented, the dead forgotten. All restraints of morality [were] gone.”
Then, slowly, something remarkable began to emerge in the camp.
- Selflessness. A few officers began to pool their meager resources. They sent food to the sick prisoners holed up in the makeshift dispensary.
- Compassion. Gordon himself became gravely ill, and two fellow soldiers, Dusty and Dinty, volunteered to come by every day and wash his wounds.
“Several men,” Gordon wrote, “in the midst of widespread degradation and despair, kept their integrity inviolate and their faith whole.”
The supreme example of a different way of living came to a climax one horrific evening after a long day of hard labor.
That night, when the tools were counted, a Japanese guard announced that one shovel was missing. One of the prisoners had stolen the shovel to sell on the black market, it was assumed. The crime was heinous, the guard railed. The perpetrator had maligned the Emperor himself, an act punishable by death.
The guard lined up the men in the work party and demanded that whoever took the shovel confess. No one did. The guard ranted and screamed, denouncing the men for their wickedness. His rage reached a new level.
“All die! All die!” the guard shrieked. He pointed his rifle at the crowd and set his finger on the trigger. The prisoners knew he was serious.
Calmly, quietly, from the back of the work party, one solitary man stepped forward.
“I did it,” the man said.
The guard unleashed his fury on the man. In front of the rest of the prisoners, a contingent of armed guards standing by, he beat the man bloody with the butt of his rifle, crushing the man’s skull.
When the tools were counted again, it was found that all the shovels were there.
The guard had miscounted.
One man died in the dust and dirt of the death camp by the River Kwai.
One man died so that others might live.
“It was dawning on us all,” Gordon wrote, “that the law of the jungle is not the law for man:”
“We were seeing for ourselves the sharp contrast between the forces that made for life, and those that made for death.
Selfishness, hatred, envy, jealousy, greed, self-indulgence, laziness, and pride were all anti-life.
Love, heroism, self-sacrifice, sympathy, mercy, integrity, and creative faith, on the other hand, were the essence of life, turning mere existence into living in its truest sense.
These were the gifts of God to men.”
SEEKING KNOWLEDGE OF RESURRECTION POWER
William Andrew Dillard
There is an attainment alien to planet Earth. It outranks all other possible possessions in worthiness of pursuit. Among men, gold, silver, diamonds, and pearls are universally accepted as wealth, and the years of life are given to acquire them, and what they represent. But there is another that pales the treasures of earth. Think with me for a minute.
Prerequisites are essential to the ability to pursue the treasure of which I write. Being born from above, and committed to obediently following God in New Covenant relationship are those prerequisites that open the door to that opportunity. Think of it in the context of the apostle Paul.
God used Paul as He did no other. Paul also had things men seek in life: the best education, friends in high places, and rank in his Pharisaical world, to name a few. Yet, in Philippians Chapter Three, he listed some of those, but went on to say they were all counted but loss, even as a pile of dung in comparison to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. He wanted above all other things to know Him better, and especially the power of His resurrection.
At this Easter season, the world called “Christendom” celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. but few understand its possibility. Jesus was a man, but He was also the Creator God of the universe. Since the wages of sin is death, it was possible for the man Jesus, Who knew no sin, to die only because he voluntarily took upon Himself the sins of men. But the man, Jesus was formed of flesh and blood of this world. However, the life in the man Jesus was the eternal God Himself. It is not possible for Him to die. But it was possible for the God Who lived in the man Jesus to re-enter the human body of Jesus, changing it into a glorified state. That has specific and profound meaning to His people.
The Spirit of the Living God which dwells in His people is life, and it is not possible for it to die. To this point Jesus forthrightly declared: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:26. The everlasting life Jesus gives to those who repent of sins and accepts Him as their personal Savior begins at the moment that happens. It never ends and cannot end because it is everlasting. What that means is that though death claims the flesh on earth, the life-force or spirit returns to God Who gave it to await the command of the Master to reunite in a glorified body like unto His own. The interim is not inactive, but chock full of glorious awareness that pales that of earth. Hallelujah! We join Paul in pursuit of a better knowledge of that, his prime directive. He lives! We live!
Parson to Person
William Andrew Dillard
FASTING: IS IT A RIGHT THING FOR OUR TIME?
In some circles, much is made of modern-day fasting as a New Testament doctrine for Christian disciples. Due to the interest of some, the following is offered. Please think with me!
Certainly, the topic has not escaped its lighthearted comments. Someone said, “I fast every night, and first thing in the morning I break-fast.” Still others allude to it frivolously within a religious context, giving up one or two choice foods for a brief period mainly because their church or group has agreed to do this without even a clear reason why, but every effort is made to give it public notice.
Still, more is made of fasting in the Old Testament than in the New. Religious leaders of the Old Testament loved to engage in a sort of fasting, and they made sure everyone knew it by their grimaced appearance. Jesus did not speak kindly about that. Matt. 6:16-18. Moreover, the Pharisees criticized the disciples of Jesus because they did not fast. Jesus replied that it was not appropriate at that time for them to fast, but their time would come, Matt. 9:14
Following the ascension of Jesus, the topic is seldom mentioned in the scriptures. Perhaps the most notable reference is in I Corinthians 7:5 where it is mentioned as an appropriate reason for couples to abstain from conjugal relationships for a short time. However, it is notable that both here and elsewhere, voluntary fasting is intricately associated with prayer. In prayer, one would simultaneously abstain from the cravings of the flesh to better discipline himself in the things of God.
Foot-washing was a good thing in New Testament times, too. Incidentally, it is recommended today, but not as a religious practice. Its lesson of personal humility is to characterize brethren throughout the age. Similarly, fasting was not done to get the attention of God, but to condition the soul through prayer to walk closer to God. It is infinitely more important how much closet prayer time is spent rather than fasting time. Furthermore, the point is that if one is given to prayer, there will be times when he will fast through meal time to continue his supplications to the Lord. Additionally, like prayer; fasting is a very private, personal thing that other people have no business knowing about. So, proper fasting has its place, but to engage in it as a stand-alone, virtually public, religious practice is vain, if not hypocritical.
What takes you back?
“I wanted to tap my heels together three times in that bakery!” the woman said as she sat down beside me for the flight back home to Virginia.
I glanced at her feet expecting ruby slippers.
“Smell this.” she leaned towards me and opened a paper sack containing several blackberry pastries. “I loved France but the smell of blackberries made me miss childhood summers at home!”
“Well, there’s no place like it!” I added.
I was fortunate to do some traveling over the last year and found myself captivated by the beauty and history of various cities in Colombia, Spain, and France. Every day, in every city I visited, I’d daydream about what life might be like to leave the place I’ve always called home and live abroad in such majestic locales. I doubted that a hint of blackberries, or anything else for that matter, could cause me to pine…
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Triumphant stories of love perseverance and prevailing. We can change our lives. It is better to have the Lords help in doing it.
1. Today, I waited on an elderly couple. The way they looked at each other… you could see they were in love. When the husband mentioned that they were celebrating their anniversary, I smiled and said, “Let me guess. You two have been together forever.” They laughed and the wife said, “Actually, no, today is our fifth year anniversary. We both outlived our spouses and then life blessed us with one more shot at love.”
2. Today, I walked my daughter down the aisle. Ten years ago I pulled a fourteen year old boy out of his mom’s fire-engulfed SUV after a serious accident. Doctors initially said he would never walk again. My daughter came with me several times to visit him at the hospital. Then she started going on her own. Today, seeing him defy the odds and smile widely, standing on his own…
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Exceptional thoughts for greatness.
And what shall I do with this last precious day which remains in my keeping? First, I seal up its container of life so that not one drop spills itself upon the sand. I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad?
Can sand flow upward in the hour glass? Will the sun rise where it sets and sets where it rises? Can I relive the errors of yesterday and right them? Can I call back yesterday’s wounds and make them whole? Can I become younger than yesterday? Can I take back the evil that was spoken, the blows that were struck, the pain that was caused? No. Yesterday is buried forever and I will think of it no more.
I will live this day as if it is my…
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