Monday, September 4, 2017

WHOZZAT?

This is a test.  Know who this famous American is?

*he ran away from home @16
*lived with the Indians three years and spoke fluent Cherokee
*fought in Revolutionary War and War of 1812
*became a lawyer in TN and commanded a TN state militia
*elected Governor of TN
*pled the case for Indians in Washington in full Cherokee gear
*beat a Congressman walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with a hickory cane/high profile trial/represented by Francis Scott Key/convicted/given light fine
*moved to territories and never paid the fine
*fought for TX independence from Mexico
*named first/third President of the Republic of Texas
*first TX Senator and then Governor of Texas
*slave holder who opposed abolition and the secession of TX from Union/evicted from office for refusing to take oath of loyalty to the Confederacy (see statement below)

This achiever lived a remarkable life.  He was a soldier, politician, and he also had two legal wives and one common law wife.  Do you know anyone else who was Governor of two different states?  Who was he?


The answer is Sam Houston, the man for whom the flooded city of Houston was named.

Sam Houston had a BIG personna just like Texas.  He was rough around the edges, but when Sam fell in love with...and married his third wife, Sam Houston was gentled.

This is pretty Margaret Houston from Alabama.  She was 21 and he was 47 when they married.  No wonder the honorary Cherokee named "Black Raven" fell for her.  They went on to have eight children who were born between his 51st-68th year.

It was Margaret who convinced Houston to give up drinking and consider Jesus.  She whispered in his ear for fourteen years before his conversion and baptism.

The Lord gave us baptism and communion to point to Him and help us remember Him.  As a person goes under the baptismal waters, they are "play acting" a spiritual truth that has already been accomplished.  In front of friends who know them, the one being baptized portrays their death to self and being raised to a newness of life.

Mr. Sam was no exception.  When he came up out of the waters, he was declaring to witnesses (of whom there were MANY there that day) that he had turned his back on a lifetime of self-direction and was now turning toward Jesus.

We can imagine that because Sam Houston was such a ruffian...and a huge public figure...people came from miles away to see his baptism.  Some mischievous kids had put sticks and mud in the baptismal pool, so they quickly had to relocate it to Little Rocky Creek just south of College Station. The wind was whipping on that cold November Day.

Rufus Columbus Burleson was Houston's pastor who  baptized him, but there were two other pastors (Morrell and Baines) who were there because they had played a part in his conversion.  George Washington Baines had been Sam's former pastor and was the great-grandfather of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  After he was baptized, one of his friends was heard to say "General, all your sins have been washed away!".  Houston replied "If that be the case, God help the fish downstream!"

Was his conversion true?

Sam Houston's life gave ample evidence.  This former brawler was sorry for his past 61 years of ignoring the Savior.  He was through fighting the English, the Mexicans, the politicians, and his own sin.  He gave up the bottle and exchanged his name "The Big Drunk" for the name "Christian".  He gave freely to the cause of Christ...paying half of his pastor's salary and giving generously to Baylor University.

Sam Houston's future totally changed when he met the Savior. One day it will be an honor to meet him.







Addendum
After Sam Houston was evicted from the TX Governor's office, he went to Galveston where Texans demanded to know why he would not support the Confederacy.  Here are his words:
  
"Let me tell you what is coming.  After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it.  I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union.  They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates.  But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South."

Monday, August 28, 2017

FELLOWSHIP IS FORTY!

Saturday afternoon Mike and I were awash in a sea of hugs and gray hair as our church in Little Rock marked their fortieth birthday.

The meet-and-greet was for those from "the early days" of the church's beginning.  We saw familiar faces and played NAMEFIND in rapid-fire desperation.

Bill Wellons, Mike, and Bill Parkinson
Since the Cruses had gone to FBC from 1980 until our move to Fayetteville in 2009...we qualified as beginners.  Plus Mike had a ten year FBC work history.

The event tasted like heaven.  You know why?  Time was sucked out of a  room full of God's love.  





It wasn't that the people there were more favored than anyone else.  We saw friends who had experienced dread medical diagnoses, a divorce, or whose kids had run off into the weeds.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust.

But they were people we had co-labored with...prayed with...loved...had forgiven...and who had taught us what God said.  These two Bill's to the right (plus Robert) married our kids and buried our family.  That makes them very dear to our hearts.






It was a special treat to have Alan Mesko come help us worship.  For a mathematician, he is an amazing pianist/worship leader who can work those keys like a boss.    

Then it wouldn't have been Fellowship without the beautiful sopranos, Debbie Rees and Vicki Burnett. 

Music has a way of transporting right into the throne room.

When the part came when our stats were read, we were stunned:

Fellowship Bible Church has 93 church plants,(open that link to see an amazing map), a residency program for graduating pastors, and over 100 ministries established by FBC alums on 7 continents/32 countries.  To experience the needs of others around the world, FBC put over 2,000 people on the mission field.  Twenty-five alums have written books.  We sought to be light in our local community by establishing a mid-town medical center, a work in the inner city, and an outreach at the Med Center (to equip new docs in money management, marriage skills, etc.).  We began "Sharefest" (which 150 churches adopted), a mentoring program in the schools, and Robert's "Men's Fraternity", which was taught over the United States and then went international. 

There was more, but isn't that awesome?  We knew not to be impressed with ourselves because we know our limits. The horn-tooting was all for the mind of God which imagined such an undertaking...and the Spirit of God who empowered it.  That's why at the end, we will fully realize His grace and throw our crowns at His feet.

Thirty years ago, Jane Anne Smith wrote a piece to try and explain how special she knew Fellowship to be.  She reread it on Saturday, and here are Jane Anne's thoughts about the 1977 founding of FBC:



"Be certain, then, that the Lord your God is God; 
whose faith and mercy are unchanging, 
who keeps His word through thousand generations
 to those who have love for Him and keep His laws." 
Deuteronomy 7:9



  





Saturday, July 1, 2017

HIS KINGDOM COME

How would you describe God's kingdom?

Jesus taught us to pray that His kingdom would come.  We also know that God's kingdom is here now in people who have been called according to His purposes.

The more we know about God, the more we love God.  Worship is the natural flow that comes from our gratitude to God for His grace to us.

Sunday we were in a series called "Kings and Kingdoms", looking at a particular time in Israel's history that was a thousand years before Christ.

THE UNITED MONARCHY.  The Old Testament is full of good kings and wicked kings,  times when God's people walked with Him and times when they were far from Him.  The "United Monarchy" was  a 100-year-period when God's people enjoyed CONSISTENCY of His peace and prosperity.  The three kings of the United Monarchy were Saul, David, and Solomon.

The treasured truth that I came away with Sunday was just an increased appreciation for the way God chooses to bless His people.  God promised from the very beginning (Genesis 12:3) that He would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham.  How?  All would be blessed through Abraham's descendant, the Godman Jesus.

This stuns me because I kept the Lord at arms length for thirty years...yet He chose to reveal Himself to me.  We are an unworthy people who depend on God's goodness for every breath just as the lives of the three kings illustrate.

SAUL.  This man was literally head and shoulders above others, handsome and rich.  Such a resumé convinced the people that he would make a good king, so they threw off their theocracy of God's rule, and clamored "give us a king like the other nations".  

Saul may have been tall, dark and handsome...but he was also moody, jealous, vengeful, and half-hearted toward God.  Saul flat-out disobeyed God's instructions about his military victory over Amelek.  

God gave Saul some victories over the Philistines, but his disobedience cost him the crown.  Saul died by falling on his own sword on a Philistine battlefield.  Scripture says he died because he did not keep the Word of the Lord...and then the Lord gave the nation to David.


DAVID. David had a better end than Saul.  David died an old man in his bed after passing instructions to his son Solomon about following the Lord.  

But wouldn't it be awful if the whole world knew our sins as we all know David's sins?  David committed adultery and was responsible for the death of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah...yet the Lord commends David as a man after His own heart.David sinned big but repented big...proving the breadth of God's forgiveness.  The Lord can use us if we maintain a humble heart.  

Israel flourished under this warrior king with many battlefield victories.  Under King David, new territory was added to Israel and the tribes were united as never before.  But his shiny credit was that he followed the Lord, resulting in a rich  legacy.  God said one day when Jesus came, He would sit on David's throne in Jerusalem.

SOLOMON.  Solomon is unique in many ways, but one thing Scripture says is that God came to Solomon in a dream three times.  In the first dream, God allowed Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted.  

When Solomon asked for wisdom, God answered that request lavishly because Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (poems).  His wisdom caused King Solomon to be known and sought by people across the Middle East and Africa. 

Although Solomon did not ask for wealth, God also gave him untold  riches in order to build a house for God. 

The second time God came to Solomon in a dream, it was after the temple dedication when God promised He would turn His face and heart toward the temple forever.  Then God gave Solomon a conditional promise that IF Solomon would walk before Him in integrity of heart and uprightness, God would establish Solomon's throne over Israel forever.

WAS Solomon faithful to God?

As a security measure in those days, kings took "alliance wives" from the royalty of foreign countries.  (It wasn't likely that foreign kings would attack the country where their daughters lived.)  Instead of trusting God for Israel's safety, Solomon bought into that practice.  In doing so, Solomon acted against God's plan for marriage and against God's law about not taking foreign wives.  Father knows best.

Pharaoh's daughter and women from the Hittites and Moabites, etc. were some of the 700 wives Solomon took and he also took 300 concubines.  Over time, this "wise" man permitted the foreign wives to build altars in Israel to worship their gods.  Then Solomon did the unthinkable and joined them in the worship of these gods, even offering child sacrifices to Molech.  What an abomination to God!  
   
THE VIEW FROM ABOVE.  God had plenty of room to take offense during the United Monarchy.  Still, He chose to bless His people by giving peace and prosperity that Israel only consistently experienced during those hundred years.  

Both the people and the kings knew the blessing was from God.  The people knew their goodness didn't deserve it.  After all, THEY had rejected God by asking for a king.  Saul, David, and Solomon knew the blessing was from God because THEY had dishonored God and hindered the fullness of what God had for them.

God alone is good.  His loving-kindness is toward His people and His sovereign choice is to bless them because of His kind determination to keep His Genesis promise.  And what is our response?  Those who know blessing comes from God's hand...WORSHIP!  That's what we were created to do.

And then we tell others of His kindness.  








Wednesday, May 31, 2017

DEATH OF THE GODLY

How long, Lord?  How long till I won't be trapped in my first response and have to redirect to my second response?

Yesterday when we heard our Jerusalem street preacher was hit by a car and had been killed, my shock said "Lord!  What are you thinking? Don't you need him?  Look what he was doing for you!"

Then, my redirect quietly came. "Of course, Lord, you know what you are doing.  Of course your sovereign Providence is in charge and there's no such thing as being 'taken before his time'.  Of course I can rest in your goodness."

The above Isaiah verse says mankind takes no note of the fact that the godly are saved from the evil that is to come.  The world cannot strain to see over what is in front of them...that death is a warning to all of us about the brevity of life.

The death of the godly also is viewed carelessly by the world.  Perhaps there were not many in the Jerusalem streets who saw Antony's death as a public loss.  They would have no idea of the import of kingdom business that he was about, and some might have even considered him an annoyance.  Sound familiar?

Matthew Henry says that men who belong to the Lord are saved from the sting of death, but not the stroke.  That's because the stroke of death comes to ALL.  I have a $50 jar of face cream, but even that will not help me cheat death.

But as a believer, I am saved from the hurtful power of death (sin) because Christ's death conquered sin and death...providing hope for the future.  I'm so very thankful for the Spirit's ministry that places assurance of that truth into hearts.

In the Lord's great compassion, Antony was spared further heartache.  Antony had seen more suffering than most as he took Toyota trucks of milk and diapers and cleaning supplies and Bibles to meet the basic needs of Middle Eastern refugees.  He had seen depravity that we could not fathom.  So who am I to tell the Lord about timing?  I can't even time my own life.

Therefore I take heart this morning.  In King James language, I will "layeth it on my heart" that the Good Shepherd kindly spared Antony from the things this world offers...as He ushered this faithful brother into glory.  May the Lord enlarge the hope that Antony spoke into many lives.  I take Antony's fearless life as an example of one who squeezed every drop of energy for Jesus.

"Therefore, be very careful how you live - not as unwise, but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15,16


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

COPTIC CHRISTIANS

The days are dark for Coptic Christians in Egypt who increasingly come under attack by radical Islamic terrorists.  On Saturday, 28 people were killed in a bus attack south of Cairo and 25 were wounded.

It's not the first attack.

On New Year's Eve in 2011, a blast in a church in Alexandria killed more than 20 people and the crime still remains unsolved.  Last December, an Islamic suicide bomber killed 30 in Cairo's Coptic Cathedral.  Last month, twin bombings by suicide bombers killed 46 in churches in Alexandria and Tanta.

Since February the series of murders and killings claimed by ISIS in the northern Sinai have led hundreds of families to leave for safer parts of Egypt.

 Do you feel what the Copts are feeling?  Do you know why they are being persecuted?

The answer lies in an ideology which runs fast to take innocent blood.

St. Samuel's Monastery


The Christians who died yesterday were in buses on their way through the desert to a spiritual retreat at St. Samuel's monastery.  The buses were stopped by men dressed in fatigues and black hooded masks.

The jihadists ordered the Copts off the buses, and then one by one...ordered each one to renounce their faith.  ALL REFUSED, even the children.  They were shot in cold blood with a bullet to the head or throat.  First they shot the men and then women/children, including two little girls, aged 2 and 4.

Some reports say the killers saw cars coming in the distance or everyone would have been killed.  In their haste, they sprayed the bus with gunfire.

The Christians who died on Saturday went straight into the presence of their Savior.  In Revelation 6:9, the apostle John wrote about what he saw when he looked into heaven.

John saw the Lamb of God open the fifth seal, and then under the altar he  saw the souls of those who had been violently killed BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF GOD and BECAUSE OF THE TESTIMONY THEY HAD GIVEN.  John must have seen these very people.

Today the whole world hears the testimony of these dear souls.  Know what else the world sees?  We see the lifework of these butchers.  The martyrs cry out to God: "How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?"  (Revelation 6:10)

The Apostle Mark took the gospel to Egypt, and the Coptic Christians trace their roots back to him. The Copts are our brothers and sisters in Christ...part of the Easter Orthodox Church who hold to the Ten Commandments and practice baptism, confession, confirmation, and the intercession of the saints.  In 451AD they split from the Roman Catholic Church over the nature of Christ.  Copts believe in the immaculate conception of Jesus, but not the virgin Mary.  They do not believe in papal infallibility, or purgatory.  Coptic priests may marry.

Make no mistake.  The dear souls who died in the desert sand of Minya were killed because of what they believed.  WHAT WE BELIEVE IS ESSENTIAL.

It is inaccurate to assume all beliefs are equal.  We enlarge ourselves, awarding ourselves a "broadminded badge" when we accept whatever comes down the pike as a way to God.  Religious pluralism is dangerous because it goes beyond what God set out (see First Commandment).

The faith of Jesus-followers is not equal to one which calls people to murder for their god.  My faith rests on a Savior who came to earth to die in my place...and then calls me to love and forgive others as He forgave me.

Shakespeare told us all the world's a stage and all the men and women are merely players with entrances and exits.  As we get closer to Christ's return, the world's stage is set in complete clarity to show God's pre-eminence.

Not all roads lead to heaven.  Who wouldn't want to follow the One who showed kindness, graciously initiated love toward us, pre-planned a future place for His followers, and imparted assurance and purpose?

Some people just won't humble themselves before their Creator and ask Him to take their sin away.  Jesus didn't say there were many ways to God...He said HE WAS THE WAY.

If you had stepped down out of that hot Egyptian bus, would you have renounced your faith?






Thursday, May 18, 2017

REFLECTIONS from JOHN

This year's BSF study seemed particularly tender as we saw the Lord through the eyes of the "disciple that Jesus loved".  The following seven thoughts just came to mind as favorites, but there were MANY things to like about John's gospel.  

Here is the first one about finding shalom with/through God:  


Everyone needs peace. The disciples experienced hostility in the first century, but who could have conceived that in our day, the crucifixion of Christians would still be in play? Our unsettling times would ratchet up anxiety in order to steal our peace, but God offers something the world cannot touch.

We see two qualifiers in this John verse. In order to experience His peace, you must be "in Him"...and you must know what He has said.

A study of God's word assuages our soul; likewise this year's John study has shown me how the apostle tenderly painted the inside of God's heart.

We learned that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the only source of power equal to breaking through our self-despair, self-deception, and self-direction. The Spirit reminds us of God's past faithfulnesses to us, and we are buttressed to know that the Lord Jesus will stand victorious at the end of time.

Knowing how the story ends allows us to turn our faces heavenward in great expectation.





Have you ever been beside the bed of a loved one who was dying? When my Mama died, I remember each word she said, how she surprised us by sitting up in the bed, what her breathing sounded like, and how cold her hands and feet became.

I was an eyewitness just as John was a witness to Jesus' death.

Remember how John was present through it all with Jesus?  It was John who had leaned against Jesus' chest during the Last Supper, John who was in the garden when Jesus was arrested, John who was there during Jesus' trials, and John who stayed at Golgotha when all the others fled. Then it was John (and Peter) who were first to reach the empty tomb.

This means John had eyewitness credibility. And he went on to write a gospel FULL of details, presenting Jesus as the Godman who performed powerful signs so that many would come to faith by believing. In fact, John said there were so many signs that Jesus performed, there weren't books enough to record them.

I look forward to meeting John one day to tell him how his words buttressed my faith.

Toward the end of his book, John made a statement that reflected his loving heart. "These (words) are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." John 20:31




We know we have an Advocate before the Father who intercedes for our needs. In John 17, it is a special treat to get to listen as Jesus prays His high priestly prayer. Notice three categories:

Jesus' time had come, so first He prayed that the Father would glorify the Son so that the Son could glorify the Father in His mission to complete His cross work. Then Jesus prays for His disciples that they would be able to complete their work as they begin the church and write the New Testament. Now comes the good part.

Jesus prays for those who would believe through the disciples' testimony. HE'S PRAYING FOR ME! I'm going to insert my name (you can insert yours).  Jesus says He is not praying only on the disciples' behalf, but also on Susan's behalf so that Susan will be one with the Father as Jesus is one with the Father. And He asks that Susan would know that the Father has loved her as the Father loves the Son.

So in the John 17 prayer, Jesus prays that His work would glorify the Father, the disciples' work would glorify the Father, and the work that future believers were given to do would glorify the Father.

What is my work? The church received her assignment as Jesus left planet Earth: "Go, make disciples".

My joy is that Jesus came for me, filled me with the joy of knowing God loves me, prayed for me 2,000 years ago (as well as today), and gave my life purpose. Jesus says He wants Susan to be with Him where He is. Miracle of miracles? That was the Father's good plan from the foundation of the world.




Want to hear a completely humbling thing? Jesus saved me out of the sea of unbelieving humanity... just as He did for the man born blind that John describes in Chapter 9.

Jesus didn't just restore the man's sight, He created sight. both physical and spiritual. Only God can do that. As our teaching leader pointed out, IF YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, IT IS BECAUSE YOU HAVE PERSONALLY BEEN SEEN AND TOUCHED IN ALL YOUR BROKENNESS BY AN ATTENTIVE AND MERCIFUL SAVIOR WHO WAS SENT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF YOUR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS.

She also used a visual that has stuck with me everytime I crack an egg. Know how separating a yolk from a white can sometimes get messy? Well, it was messy when Jesus separated the man born blind out of the sea of humanity.

God the Father directed God the Son to this dear man. Then the Lord's hands picked up dirt and made mud in order to create sight. Later the Lord's hands would be blodied on the cross in order to extend grace to him.

The man was exuberant, but not everyone in John's narrative leaves happy. The religious leaders saw Jesus as a challenge to their authority, so they called the man before them and berated him, questioned his parents, called him back to say he was a liar (who never was blind), and then kicked him out of the synagogue.

Here's what was more troubling. Scripture taught that when the Messiah came, there were certain miracles that ONLY He could perform. Messiah would open the eyes of the blind...and here stood living proof. Kudos to the man. With no schooling or status, he stood firmly against the most religious and educated men in Israel WHO KNEW THE SCRIPTURES.

Who was blind? The ones hurling insults proved to be the ones who couldn't see. The man formerly known as blind...had seen Jesus and could not deny Him before a hostile, unbelieving audience. Lord, give me his courage.

Today it's impossible for me to crack an egg without gratefully thinking of how Jesus separated me from the world. I know I was separated to get dirty for the glory of God's grace in other's lives.

That's how we lean into our purpose.




In John's last chapter, he shows us forgiveness in the story of Peter's rebuke. Through that process, the Lord is teaching Peter (and the watching disciples...and me) a class called YIELDING COMPLETELY/ WAITING BELIEVINGLY 101.

The timeline is after the resurrected Christ has appeared in the Upper Room and given instructions to the disciples to wait for Him on the mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16).  

But the men gave up waiting and in exasperation, Peter goes down to the Sea of Galilee to fish. The translation implies this is more than just a “pass the time” fishing trip, but is more like Peter is returning to what he knew. Six other disciples follow him.

When they have no catch, a man on the shore calls a suggestion out to them. It’s not long until John figures out the familiarity of the situation as he thinks back to the first time they met the Lord. Jesus had told them where to cast their empty nets and the nets were filled. John says “it’s the Lord!” and Peter jumps out of the boat for shore.

Peter has failed the Lord, but Peter loves the Lord. In Mark 14 he bragged about loving Jesus more than the other disciples did, and in Matthew 19 he bragged that he had left everything to love Jesus. Then there were the three times Peter disavowed the Lord during His arrest. Peter’s walk and talk didn’t match.

Peter needs to be restored to his leadership role, and the Lord graciously gives the big fisherman three chances to affirm his love (the same number of times he publicly denied Christ). As our Bible teacher said, OBEDIENCE IS AN ESSENTIAL EVIDENCE OF OUR LOVE FOR JESUS.

If the Lord knows everything (and He does), He knew those men would not wait on the mountain and would again be navigating their own course. But in grace abundant, the Ever-Initiating Jesus did not give up on them. There he was, on the shore with a fire built and fish cooking, providing faithfully for their needs just as He provides for ours.

But our greatest need is not to have a full stomach. When we go our own way, life is like an empty net. The Lord waits for us to come humbly before Him so that He can forgive us and restore us to fellowship with Him.

Then we can navigate with Jesus and be fishers of men. "Before destruction the heart of a person is proud, but humility comes before honor." Proverbs 18:12



The whole “choice” thing has long been a sticky wicket for me. For the most of my Christian walk, it just seemed tiring. As I tried to think through it, my mind would go both directions at once until I yelled “calf rope”, gave up, and put the issue on the “find out later” shelf.  

This year I officially pulled CHOICE off the shelf and decided God chose me. Well, what else could I do with all the John verses that say as much? I do know by just plain ole observation skills that out of all the people groups of the world, He chose Israel to be His vehicle.

Maybe (you might say)…in the verse in the picture God was talking to all men. Nope, that 15:16 verse is tucked into the vine and branches section. That is the Lord explaining how those who belong to Him are to show we are His disciples by bearing fruit that remains.

What is fruit that remains? The only thing that goes into the next kingdom will be God’s word and God’s people. So He’s talking about making disciples.

Well (you might say)...maybe it’s a random verse. Surely there aren’t other ones like that? Nope. If you look over to the sixth chapter, the Lord repeats TWICE that nobody comes to the Father except the Father calls him. Verse 44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Verse 65: " I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come."

God the Father does all the heavy lifting. He breaks up fallow ground by wooing and giving His gifts of repentance and faith. Then it is my privilege to respond to the God of the universe who has made it so I am able to “want to” come. Otherwise, men would continue preferring to run their own affairs. That comes naturally, you know.

When you were in third grade, you picked the fastest runner to be on your team. Later in life, the most attractive or the wealthiest get picked. But God doesn’t choose on that criterion. His pick is not based on us, but on Him.

Choice cannot be something that leads to pride because God says in He didn’t choose me because of any good I did. He chose that which was weak in the world…to illustrate HIS character. That way, none could boast.

God is loving. He chose me that I might know Him and love Him and tell others about Him. Besides, it’s a relief not to be in charge of things. God is doing a good job and we can trust Him to reign justly from His throne.

So if you are sitting on the fence, quit worrying about whether you are chosen or not. Pursue Him because He says if you draw near, He will draw near to you. Ask Him to reveal His Son to you. Your soul’s satisfaction is found only in Him.

I find it a wondrous thing to know God has chosen me.




You know what the "Walking Dead" are, don't you?  They are re-animated corpses, full of darkness.  That's a pretty graphic illustration of life without Jesus.

Would you be able to guess what Jesus’ last PUBLIC words were? You might guess that He issues a final plea to people to consider their mortality and come to faith in Him. Good guess.  In John 12, Jesus told the crowd that while they had the light, they should believe in the light so that they might become sons of light.

After saying that, Jesus went away and hid Himself from them. What more could He say? What more could He do?

Back in the 1600’s, Matthew Henry wrote about that passage in his commentary. Henry says “Jesus’ listeners had overlooked the prophecies that described Him, and drew false notions from the Scriptures. Jesus was warning that the light would not long continue with them and His exhortation was for them to walk in the light before the darkness overtook them. Those who walk in the light must believe in it and follow Christ’s directions. But those who have not faith cannot see what is set forth in Jesus (lifted up on the cross)…and are strangers to its influence that the Holy Spirit makes known. They find a thousand objections to excuse their unbelief.”

I know I did. Some of my objections were from VANITY (I didn’t want to get “weird” like a Jesus freak) and some were TIME (no time now, but maybe one day…) and some were just like the crowd in John 12…I was a STRANGER TO ITS INFLUENCE. Even though a regular church-goer, I had no idea because I had never studied the Bible.

JESUS ALWAYS WORKS THROUGH HIS WORD.  HERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW HOW TO PLEASE GOD IF WE DON'T READ WHAT HE WROTE.

After this final plea, Jesus hid Himself from them. We suppose that He may have gone over the Mount of Olives to Bethany for the night. Know why He hid? Jesus’ words stir people. Those who are stirred to the light find salvation, but those who are angered by a personal challenge are defensive and strike out.  Jesus knew that their irritation would end in them seizing Him to deliver Him to the Sanhedrin…but the time was not right for that. The Lord left them without His person or His word because of their choice NOT to be children of the light.

Isaiah had told the Jewish people 700 years before Christ that a light was coming. “The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness…for a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us.”

Jesus says HE is the light of the world…in a world filled with sinners on their way to their graves. We know darkness symbolizes evil and goodness is symbolized by light. John 1 said “In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.” Praise God!

There is always a kerfuffle around Jesus because His light exposes sin. People enjoy the darkness of a self-directed life, but whoever follows Jesus in a saving way is transferred from the realm of darkness into light. They see their sin and put it away in obedience to God’s word.

Next year BSF will study the book of Romans as we learn why we believe what we believe.  Would you like to join us on the Roman road?  Our Facebook page is called "Bible Study Fellowship, Fayetteville, AR, Evening Women's Class", and our study will begin in the fall.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

HYSTERIA

Can we have some facts before we dissolve into a puddle?

Every day brings a new charge against Donald Trump.  All these shots that lack a base in fact...are shots at the back of America's  President.  This rapid fire is destructive to the fabric of our country.

Our National Security Advisor says the President did not give classified information to the Russians.  But do you know who DID give classified information...to the world?


Do you know this man?  His name is Dr. Shakeel Afridi and he is the Pakistani doctor who helped us find Osama bin Laden.

On his Wiki page, you read that it was Leon Panetta (then CIA chief) who outed him.  Panetta was not in a private conversation with a foreign emissary when this information came out.  Panetta revealed his news  to the entire world on 60 Minutes.

As a result, since 2012 the doctor has been in a Pakistani prison with a 33-year sentence and is reportedly tortured daily.  Ask Dr. Afridi about the damage resulting from the sharing of classified information.
Then there was the famous "Uncle Joe" blurb.  Two days after bin Laden's death (on May 3, 2011 at a Washington event) our former Vice President did an unthinkable thing when he publicly revealed the identity of the special ops unit responsible for bin Laden's kill.  Please read this important LINK.

Considering the subsequent ambush and death of the Seal Team 6 on August 6, 2011...the release of that information for any reason (but particularly just to "spike the ball") is sickening.

In less spectacular ways, the last administration chose to reveal classified information.

They talked about interrogation methods used on terrorists LINK.  They exposed Israeli intelligence partners as they claimed credit for the Stuxnet virus which attacked Iran's nuclear program beginning in 2009 LINK (then the former President pardoned the Student leaker just as he pardoned the WikiLeaker, Chelsey Manning).  They ordered the intelligence community to share information with the Cubans LINK.

And, of course, there was Mother-of-all-Disclosers who exposed thousands of classified documents because she was determined to have her own unaccountable server.  Then she got hacked through a phishing expedition which fooled John Pedestal into clicking on a link.

Who would have ever thought classified information would end up on a pedophile's laptop?  That gave all of us a good look inside the reality that was the slow train wreck that perpetually accompanies the Clintons.  Just look at all the reputations (think James Comey/Loretta Lynch) that have been destroyed by associating with the former first couple.

Hysteria is the emotion of the day as people salivate over impeachment and work with gusto to make it happen.  But people are hysterical because the news outlets bang a drum daily that misleads the American public.  We are not in a contest to see who can reveal the most intelligence, but IF the press were concerned about leaks, they might have reported the egregious ones in the last administration.  Those leaks cost us the trust of our allies and actual lives.

Keeping classified information close to the vest keeps the country safe.   There is a Romans verse which, in context, is speaking to the body of believers.  But it sure could come in handy now in our national life.  It says "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification".

Let's put America first.