Tag Archives: Love

Seek God – Find Life

Seek God – Find Life

The following quotation was read by Dr. Adrian Rogers and taken from an essay by a 17 year old boy.   This boy wrote an essay on the topic of “union with Jesus Christ” as part of his school work in a Christian school.  As you read this, at first it may sound like a terrific essay:

“If we examine the history of man’s nature as an individual, we constantly observe that spark of divinity in his breast. The enthusiasm for what is good. The struggle for wisdom. The longing for truth are being smothered by the flames of desire and greed. The zeal for virtue becomes deathened by the tempting voice of sin and turns into a mockery as soon as we feel the full impact of life. Our hearts reason, history the word of Christ all call out to us loudly and convincingly to tell us that union with Him is absolutely necessary and without Him we would be rejected of God. For He alone is able to deliver us. Once a man has obtained this virtue, this union with Christ, he will awake quietly and composedly, await quietly and composedly the blows of fate. He will bravely oppose the storms of passion. And endure undaunted the rage of the wicked. For who can crush him or rob him of his Redeemer?”

“What’s the problem with all of that? Not a thing in the world, so far as truth is concerned. But if he had been writing an essay on Geography or history he would have done just as good a job because he had a brilliant mind. He knew the answers but he doesn’t know Jesus. Founded atheistic Communism. Can you imagine, a person knowing all of that truth and yet not knowing the Lord?

The person who wrote it was Karl Marx. Karl Marx, the founder of godless, atheistic Communism. The one who wrote the diabolical book, Das Kapital. The one who has caused more misery, more bloodshed, more hatred, more violence, more division, I suppose, than any other man who ever lived. Karl Marx wrote this when he was a seventeen year old boy.”  – The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Graduates, purpose to hold the following principles in your daily life going forward.  These principles are taken from Amos 5:4, 6, 8, 14.  For example: Amos 5:4 says, For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

In fact, each of the above references say much the same thing: Seek God – Find Life.

  • You are leaving High School, but you are not leaving God.
  • Some people walk all alone in life. Israel was walking away from God and Amos warns them that they were walking alone.  Can two walk together except they be agreed?  No! They were all alone because of their sin.
  • No matter what happens in life, we must keep seeking God.

Keep seeking God.

God’s people, to whom Amos was preaching had been worshipping false gods for a long time.  They had a lot of stuff and in many ways they worshipped their material things, possessions, and money.  Read the book of Amos for more details.  Greed, stealing, and coveting was all too prominent in everyday life.  If they were living in our day and age, they would have looked a lot like us; plenty of food, too much stuff, and lots of money.  Possessions and stuff was now controlling them – much like many of us today.  If they were alive today, they would have had the best cell phones, the fastest computers, and the best-looking cars.  They had everything that mattered materially in life because God had previously blessed their fathers and forefathers.  They had enough and more than enough, but they did not have God.

Think of it this way: We do not have much of a life if we live without God.

God’s people had left God.  They were walking through life all alone.  They had stuff, money, families, jobs, land, chariots, and things – but they had left the Lord. Please note the following and examine your heart…

  1. Success Can Blur Your Vision of God.
  2. Stuff Can Weaken Your Value on God.
  3. Situations Can Lessen Your Victory in God.

Current and old chapters of life end, new chapters begin – Keep Seeking God.  Seasons go, and seasons come – keep seeking God. Changes happen in life – keep seeking God.

Follow what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

When we seek God first – that is when we really find living.

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Financial Freedom PART 4

III. Consider Others.
“According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Hetty Green may have been the biggest miser who ever lived. Her father died when she was thirty leaving her an inheritance of more than $100 million in today’s money. Though it was unusual for a woman to be involved with banking and investments at the time, she concentrated all of her efforts and attention on growing the family fortune.
Her focus on money drove a wedge between her husband and their two children. And the family was scattered. Known for eating cold oatmeal to save money for heating and washing only the hem of her dress to save money on soap, she was sometimes called the “Witch of Wall Street.” When her son, Ned, broke his leg as a boy, she tried to have him treated in a free clinic for the poor, before treating him at home. His leg would later have to be amputated. When she died, Hetty Green was worth the equivalent of some 4 billion dollars today, but she was alone and miserable.” -Min127
1 Timothy 6:10 For the ___________ of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
IV. Consider Cash: Do Not Spend More Than You Have.

Remember when you could “lay an item away” at K-Mart? “Some people buy things on the “lay awake plan.” They lay awake each evening trying to figure out how they will pay for it!” -Min127
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the ___________, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is _________________ to the lender.

V. Consider Your “Wanter.”
“The story is told about a clever salesman who closed hundreds of sales with this line: “Let me show you something several of your neighbors said you couldn’t afford.”” -Min127

We all “Want” certain things in life.  If we are not careful – our wants will control our thoughts and decisions…  Consider the following Scriptures:

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt ________ covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Psalm 119:36 Incline my _______________ unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Proverbs 21:26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous _____________ and spareth not.
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Guard your eyes and your thoughts. Avoid dwelling on “what you do not have” and be thankful for what God has already given you.
When I was a boy, my parents would teach me to tithe, give, save, and spend little. Only things I bought were some baseball cards and new shoes. The rest was either given away or saved. When after college Natalie and I were married, I had several thousand dollars that we lived on for a while.
Personal Financial Discipline Honors the Lord.
“$1.00 spent for lunch lasts five hours.
$1.00 spent for a neck-tie lasts five weeks.
$1.00 spent for a cap lasts five months.
$1.00 spent for an auto lasts five years.
$1.00 spent for a railroad lasts five decades.
$1.00 spent in God’s service lasts for eternity.”  -Roger W. Babson

Psalm 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

More Than Death Insurance

More Than Death Insurance

“When one asked the salesman what he was selling, he said, “Life insurance.”

“That’s not life, but death insurance.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have to die to win.”

“Not always. You get your money back with big interest in 10 or 20 years if you live, but if you die your family is protected for a number of years.”

“Fine. The Bible says, ‘But if any provide not for his own, specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel, but it’s more important to carry life insurance.”

“Say, what are you selling?”

“Life insurance. Eternal life. Nothing to pay, and you begin to get big dividends immediately, of peace, joy, contentment, and an understanding of God’s plan for your life.””  (-Knights)

What kind of insurance do you have?  Jesus came to earth to give something better than death or life “insurance.”  He came to earth to purchase eternal life.  Jesus paid the full price that our sin – death.  He died in my place.  He died for my sin.  He died in your place.  He died for your sin.  He shed His blood for our sin.  Theologians call this Substitutionary Atonement.

Romans 5:8 teaches, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Jesus demonstrated or proved His love for us with his work and action on the cross.  He did not just say “I love you.”  He demonstrated love when He laid down His life for us.  No matter how BIG or little you perceive your sin to be, Jesus still loves you!  None of us are worthy, but He loves us anyway.

Then He rose from the dead.  The phrase: “Rose Again” in 1 Corinthians 15:4 indicates that while He was previously dead, He came back to life, and continues to be alive!”  What an incredible truth!  Jesus continues to be alive today.

As I prepared for Easter Sunday preaching, I searched out all the leaders of the worlds major religions.  Here is what I found:

Buddhism. The Buddha’s body was cremated in Kushinagar, India and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar was built over a portion of the Buddha’s ashes on the spot where he was cremated by the ancient Malla people. The Temple of the Tooth or Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka is the place where the right tooth relic of Buddha is kept at present.

Christian Science.  Mary Baker Eddy is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States.

Confucianism. The grave of Confucius, founder of Confucianism, is in his home town of Qufu, Shandong Province, China. The grave of Confucius is located in a large cemetery where more than 100,000 of his descendants are also buried.

Islam. According to early Muslim sources, Muhammad is buried in the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (“Mosque of the Prophet”) in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. The tomb of Muhammad lies within the confines of what used to be his wife Aisha’s and his house. During his lifetime it adjoined the mosque, which was expanded during the reign of Caliph al-Walid I to include his tomb.

Scientology.  Upon his death, L. Ron Hubbard was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.” (Wikipedia)

Christianity: Go to the Garden Tomb at Jerusalem.  There are no bones, no ashes – nothing!  Jesus walked out of that stone tomb alive!  Jesus is alive today. 

Would you believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?  This is called the Gospel.  Jesus is alive and calling to you for a response.  Will you accept the forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life from Jesus?  He loves you.  Believe in Him today.

I Missed the Conference

I Missed The Conference

Red face. Swollen brow. My left eye was nearly swollen shut.  It was somewhat difficult to breath. The headache was paralyzing.  “You look terrible.” My doctor said to me Monday morning.  I appreciate it when my medical doctors are straight up with me.  “Take this medicine and you will be better in 3-4 days.”  I would rather be “better” in 20 minutes, but I was grateful.

That night was our Mission Conference.  I fought through the pain the previous day or two, but after several nights of not sleeping well and with the eye still swollen and headache still pounding, I knew I was a “no go” for the conference.

I do not recall ever missing one of our church missions conference.  Never. Ever.  Even as a young person, it was a priority in our home to be at every church service and every church event.  Our parents were faithful to see us be involved in church.

Missions conference holds many special memories in my mind as a young person.  The kid’s conferences, meeting the missionaries from around the world, and seeing the pastor call “all those willing to serve as missionaries” to come to the front so we could have a word of prayer.

As I have been reflecting on the message I heard Dr. Scott Caudill deliver on Tuesday night (I was well enough to attend) I began thinking of a verse he referenced, Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Of course, the context of what Jesus is speaking is dealing with money and stuff.  It applies to our time and talent as well.

Because my parents placed their treasure in the things of God; church, missions conference, youth group, etc. they made sure that their sons were at these events and services.  Ball games, piano practice, art class, overtime at work, and other stuff (even school) were not more important than the church stuff.  This made a difference in my life.  Their “Treasure” eventually was where their heart (and where my heart also) ended up – invested in the things of God.

Check out this verse again, “Where your treasure is…”  Before the heart is moved, the treasure is already in it’s place.  The heart catches up to where the treasure is.  It does not say “Love God with your heart and then your treasure will be at the right place.”

No, Jesus is saying, “Put your treasure in the right place and then your heart will be in the right place.”  There is a big difference in this approach.

Where is your treasure today?  I can’t believe I missed a mission conference service!  I feel like the sickness “Providentially Hindered” me from attending on Monday.  That said, most of the time, when my treasure is not in the right place it is my personal choices and my own decisions that hinder me.  Believe me, I know we can’t be at everything the church offers, but shouldn’t I make an attempt?  At least for the Mission of the Gospel?  We have no reason for living were it not for the Gospel.  I don’t expect everyone to be at everything.  But what about your treasure?  Where is it today?  When you find your treasure – you will find where your heart truly is.

Be encouraged today to put your treasure in the right place.  Only then will your heart be in the right place.

 

 

 

 

The New “Valentines Day Massacre”

The New Valentines Day Massacre

February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war.  According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”

Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.

The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart.  In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.

In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student.  Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.

I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed.  Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.

Who is to blame?  Why do mass casualty events like this happen?  Why does it seem to be increasing?

The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart.  While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.

An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness.  People can be flat out mean.  It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.

Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.

When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:

  1. Where were the parents?
  2. Has the dad been a steady influence?
  3. What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
  4. How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
  5. What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?

Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion.  What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?

Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past.  I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family.  This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living.  It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others.  Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.

The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception.  It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past.  This is a sad way many people are living.  A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.

God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life.  Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living.  Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Have Hope Today!  Choose New Life!  Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.

Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media.  Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence.  The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.

The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears.  Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

The reason for their suffering?  Why were their children being killed?  The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive.  Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers?  The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives.  They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols.  They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.

Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering.  The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him.  Bad things happen to good and bad people.  Good things happen to both too.  One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance.  Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more!  God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people.  The heart is the issue.

The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people.  He took a weapon(s) onto school property.

Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.

  1. He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  2. He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
  3. He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them.  To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

A few random concluding thoughts…

  • Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
  • Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface.  The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
  • Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
  • Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.”  Talk to your kids about safe responses.  Make them aware of “danger signals.”
  • Pray for the victims to recover.  Pray for the families of the deceased.  Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today.  God cares.  He knows the pain.
  • Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God.  When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.

I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Attacks like this reflect the heart.  Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home.  Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.