What Goes Around – Comes Around

One day, my daughter Hope cried out, “But that’s not fair!” In my frustration I replied, “When you were born and you opened your little blue eyes in the delivery room, where was the sign that said, ‘Welcome to the world, this is a fair place, enjoy!’ I was there, but I don’t remember seeing the sign!” I think we need to teach our kids that life is not fair. At the same time, we need to teach them that God is just and wrongs will be made right in His time.  There was a story on the news last night about some old African American people whose families have lived on a section of land near

Marshall for over 100 years. Many years ago, a company came and “leased” the rights to the minerals under their land. They’ve been paid a little bit over the years, but now they’ve been ordered to move. They have no recourse. Apparently, those who signed the agreements signed away the land without knowing it. It’s not fair.  I don’t know how this thing can be made right, but I do know what the Old Book says about taking advantage of the impoverished. I know what it says about taking advantage of widows. I hope the Lord exacts justice on the company that is doing this. And what about ambivalence? Should we care that these old folks were taken advantage of? They aren’t our relatives or family. We’re just bystanders, right? Why should we get involved? Its not our fault. Most folks I talk to have never read Obadiah. Even though its only 1 chapter in the Old Testament, most leave it alone. In my opinion, it’s a not so minor prophet – especially for our kids. God pronounces a judgment on

Edom, (that the descendants of Esau) because they showed no concern, but rather gloated at and took advantage of the fall of Judah, (that is the descendants of Jacob). The prophecy of Obadiah is harsh. Look at what God said, “On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for

Jerusalem, you were like one of them. You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble. “The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”                                                                                                                     Obadiah 1:11-15 Verse 15 is really instructive for us. In everyday language it says, “What goes around, comes around.” Teach your kids that life is not fair. But in doing so make sure that you remind them that God is just and he takes note when wrong is done to those who cannot defend themselves. Teach them that its not “karma” that makes things right. But rather there is a principle at work in the world that says, “God remembers wrongs and makes them right – in His time.” telemicus out

It’s Fun Being Right

A few weeks ago I was reading and I found some information that, to me, indicated the price of gas was going to drop significantly. This was well before it was in the main stream media. I ran into my wife at Wal-Mart and she mentioned that she needed to buy gas. I said to her, “Only buy a little, the price is going to drop by a dime in the next few days.” A lady, total stranger, standing nearby said incredulously, “Well how do you know?!” I said, “Trust me, its going to drop.” I wish I could run into her now. It’s fun being right.  Last night, coming home from Caleb’s football practice he commented on something that he was right about. Then he said, “Maybe I inherited being right about stuff from you.”  

I’ve been accused of thinking that I’m always right. Most of the time I do think I’m right – but not because I’m some sort of egomaniac or “know-it-all”, but because I don’t reach opinions or conclusions without forethought. Why would a person walk around thinking that they are wrong, or even that there is a possibility that they are wrong? It has somehow become reasoned or politically correct not to have strong opinions. And if we do have a strong opinion then we should at least make sure that we preface those opinions with, “Well I could be wrong, but…” Sorry – I’m just not going to go that way. It’s more fun being right. Jesus said, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me,” (John 8:15-16). Jesus declares his judgment right based on what makes it right, his relationship with the Father. We need to be sure of what we believe and even of the opinions we hold. It would be best if we held those opinions based on our relationship with the Father. I’m not talking about subjective nonsense like what kind of pizza is best, (thin crust pepperoni,) but on things that really matter.  

Well-informed people get good information, think through various positions, take into account the feelings and opinions of people on both sides of an issue, and come to sound conclusions. If the subject matters at all, then hold strong convictions based on good information. And by all means, be right. Now if you learn more or get new information that warrants a change, you should alter your position. Being hardheaded and stubborn is dumb. Admit when you’re wrong, but make being wrong an exception rather than the rule because it’s fun to be right.  Above all, make caring and loving people more important than your being right. In all seriousness, I’ve done the – I’m right and I can overpower you with reason, fervor and volume – thing. It’s a losing proposition. People are not convinced because we beat their brains in. People are moved to agreement by quiet confidence, a godly manner, a gentle spirit and the testimony of seeing that you were right. I suppose there are people who just enjoy being wrong – not me. I want to be right. Now for better reasons than when I was younger. And… It’s fun being right! telemicus out

The Influence of Denial

When I was in the 4th grade a kid who went by the initials J.B. decided to make it his mission to harass me. So he bullied me around and picked on me, nothing too mean, just a hassle. One day it escalated into treatment that was more physical. He held me on the ground and tried to force me to say how great he was while all his buddies looked on. He was nothing to me really. But he was bigger and stronger and certainly could “beat me up,” so I said he was great. I didn’t believe it then, and I believe it less now.  Last month, two journalists from Fox News were taken captive by terrorist in Gaza and held for about two weeks. Shortly before their release, their captors forced them to convert to Islam at gunpoint. They did – but not really. They said they did it in order to stay alive. Does that count as a denial of their faith? Some call them the greatest sellouts we’ve seen in a long time. Some say what matters is what is in their hearts, not the words forced out of them at gunpoint. Maybe it was like the bully and me.

 These days I think denial happens differently. Overt denials of Christ are rare, but the influence of denial is obvious. When we proclaim the power of sin in our lives and lament our failures, we are denying the redemption purchased with the blood of Christ. When we make choices that are ungodly and self-serving, we deny the Lordship of Christ. When we offer feeble attempts at living a holy life in the strength of our own so-called convictions completely absent of the Holy Spirit, we deny the power of Christ. When we establish our identity in anything other than our relationship with God, we deny His purpose in our lives.  I can’t say that I would do any better than those journalists did. I’d love to think that I’m a real stand up guy who would die before I would convert to Islam. But the honest truth is that we don’t know how we would handle that decision until the moment we face it. I do know this, “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,” (2 Timothy 1:12).  Whatever we do, whatever we say, we belong to Christ. May he help us to be upright in our souls and to be merciful to those who are struggling to be upright.

 


telemicus out

What Can YOU Do?

This week of remembering the events of 9/11/2001 has been accented with stories of heroes, as it should be. We need more heroes.Men who care about their kids more than themselves are heroic. Moms who sacrifice their own desires for those of their husbands are heroic. Ministers who bravely and clearly declare truth for the sake of the gospel and the church when it is not popular are heroic. Teenagers who stand up and scream “No!” to moral compromise are heroic. Businessmen who operate with integrity and bosses who treat employees with dignity are heroic.

We watch Dr. Phil occasionally and one of the things that he often says to people is, “You need to be a hero for…” A hero is one who risks or sacrifices the self for the sake of someone else. The hero is one who covers you in a downpour, who steps in front of the assault, who throws you clear of the falling piano, who helps you grieve when that is all that can be done.

There is a group called Carbon Leaf that I want to recommend. My daughter Hope gave me their new CD, Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. One song on the album is called, “Block of Wood,” a song about a family that has fallen apart and he is just trying to be a hero. The chorus says,“If the fire, if the flood
Burns the tree and thins the blood
If your tears don’t wanna dry
I can help you cry
Through the night
Through the night and day
I can’t take your pain away
But I can help you cry”

Peter, writing about our heroic Lord said this,
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;” (1 Peter 2:22-24).

Jesus the Christ left us an amazing example. You can be someone’s hero today. Sacrifice yourself for the sake of another, even if all you can do is help them cry.

telemicus out

Love the Lord – Part IV

Last Saturday, in the middle of the night, Rhonda screamed. Not a word, it was one of those terror filled girl screams. (Yes, living with Rhonda is an adventure.) I was standing on the floor before my eyes were open. She was crying and screaming, “Someone is in here.” I still couldn’t see anyone, but surmised that she had been dreaming. Crawling across the bed to where she was, I held her and told her that it was only me and no one else was there. We were both shaken. I realized that in that moment of chaos – I was prepared to fight.I’m no fighter. I’ve never been hit and have never hit anyone. I don’t even think I’m tough. But if you try to harm someone that I love, you will find that I will do anything within my power to support, protect and defend them. (I’m sure you are the same.) Even now in America, people are divided about the Iraq war, but if a foreign army came to our shores, you would see a unity unimagined by our enemies. Love doesn’t sit back – it steps up. Love holds nothing back, but gives all that it has. Abraham Lincoln spoke to this when he wrote in the Gettysburg Address,“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…” The question becomes, “In your love for Christ, would you give your last full measure of devotion?”

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

To love God with all of your strength is to love him to the last drop of our blood. It is to fight the good fight. It is to finish the course, to keep the faith. It is to follow Christ, not at a distance, but in triumphs of ministry and the stoning of persecution. It is to deliver his message with power and boldness and to wrestle in prayer in cold lonely nights. It is to keep going when the Lord compels us and all others are saying we should rest. It is to rely on the strength of the Master when our strength is gone. It is to surrender even our weakness to be a conduit of God’s power. It is to obey Christ’s royal law even to the point of death. To love God with all of your strength is to follow him to the cross, never relenting until eternity.

telemicus out

Love the Lord – Part III

I drive a 1990 Plymouth Laser. It’s a nice little sports car with a strong engine. It can go fast. I’ve had it for about 8 years. I’ve put about 10 or 11 alternators on it in that length of time. (I know!) The first time I replaced it, the job took about 6 hours. (Have I told you how much I hate working on cars?) Now, I can take it off and replace it in an hour. I know the procedure very well. I like, enjoy and am grateful for my car despite the problems that come my way because I own it.

In the prayer before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent,” (John 17:3). During the course of my life, I’ve met a few famous people, but I really don’t know any of them. We don’t hang out. They don’t come over for dinner or invite me on their vacations.
Knowing God is not only something we can do, it’s something we’re supposed to do. Yes, its work. It does take time. There is real effort required. Relationships must be cultivated. Do you have any friends that you really like, but they never call you? You are always the one who calls. And they’re always glad to hear from you, but you’re not on their list of people to call and connect with. Do you suppose that God feels that way about you? Is He the one who is “waiting by the phone?” Sometimes I think we treat God like the words of a country song I heard about, “If your phone ain’t ringin, its me.” Tell me… How are we ever going to know God if we won’t invest the time and effort required? The more we know him, the deeper will be our understanding and our love for him. This is what he seeks.Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

To love God with all of your mind is to love him with knowledge and understanding. It is to know his word and allow it to inform the course of your life. It is to allow the word to discipline, correct and instruct your life. It is to know Father and the nature of his love. It is “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowships of sharing in his sufferings.” It is to be acquainted with and lead by the Spirit in – the walk of life, the study of scripture, the ministry of God’s people and the depths of our faith. It is to understand mysteries of suffering for Christ. It is to know the Presence of God in the darkest hours of our lives. To love God with all your mind is to know him and love him beyond the pain that will come your way because you follow him.

telemicus out

Love the Lord – Part II

During the summer when I was 15 I got very sick. Due to a severe frontal sinus infection, I was having severe headaches and was unable to keep food down. I lost a lot of weight and was very weak. It was the first time that I had ever been really sick in my life. The Dr. prescribed some strong meds and I eventually began to feel better. I don’t know when it happened, but one morning I woke up and realized that I was well…healthy.According to E. Stanley Jones, holiness is “spiritual health.” The Hebrews writer said, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord,” (Hebrews 12:14).In our walk with God, there is too much attention given to spiritual sickness, that is to say, the presence and power of sin in our lives. Will redeemed people ever stop saying things like, “We’re all sinners” and “We all fail everyday.” Nonsense! We who are in Christ are the redeemed children of God. We have a testimony to demonstrate to the world, to our enemy and to our selves that we are forgiven, saved, and adopted into the family of God. We have received the indwelling Holy Spirit so that we might live holy lives and that we might love the Lord with a healthy soul. So enough already with the talk of sin and its power.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).

To love the Lord with all your soul is to love him in holiness or “spiritual health”. It does not regard the sickness of sin above the health of redemption. It does not minimize the ugliness of sin, but takes refuge, rest and joy in the power of Christ over sin. It does not empower sin by making resistance the focus of life, but keeps a deep love of God as the focus of life. To love God with all your soul is love him beyond your sin and failures. To love with all your soul is to display holiness as the condition of your life. It is to know and acknowledge that you are spiritually healthy because of him and to express your love by living in holiness – being spiritually well…healthy.

telemicus out

Love the Lord – Part I

Over the next four weeks, I’m going to do a series of articles that speak to the “Greatest Command.” I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard a sermon or lesson that attempts to put feet on this passage. We all know the passage, but to express the meaning of it is difficult. I’m not saying I’ve figured it all out, but I think I’ve learned something that might help us have a better handle on understanding it and more to the point, doing it.“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

Jackson Browne wrote a song called Sky Blue and Black. It’s a song about a failed relationship. The guy knows he blew it, but there is no undoing the damage. But he offers this statement.

If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back,
I’ll see you through
Sky blue and black

This is the cry of a man who lost real love. He and wants her to know that if he ever gets another chance, he’ll be different. He says, “If you ever need holding and no holding back.” This is the key to loving with all your heart. The love Jesus is talking about is an undivided, no holding back love. The love that a grandma feels when she hugs so tight you feel you might pass out. It’s the love that a child demonstrates when they want to kiss you over and over again.

To love the Lord with all your heart is to love him with a pure or “undivided” heart. The undivided heart is not torn between the old life of sin and the new life of redemption. It does not look back with nostalgia, to those days that were, and thus nullify the future. It does not regret the life of ministry with a yearning for the secular. To love the Lord with all your heart is to love him with no holding back, beyond your old life and your old way of living.

telemicus out