Are You Really Thankful?

November 28, 2013


Today would be a wonderful day for Americans to take stock of themselves and just count their blessings and then shut up.   We are the whiniest bunch of louts to be found.  Our poorest are richer than a great many people in the world for indeed I know of very few places in the world where the poor are fat and suffering from the ailments that go with that.

While our minorities may not get all they should or think they should I can take you places where the minorities are happy they got to wake up and are never sure they will make it through the day without being beaten, imprisoned, raped or killed just because they are a minority.

Most of us have more than we know what to do with so we build storage buildings or pay for a building to store our excess that we may have never seen for five years eyt tomorrow will be an insane dash to get more stuff for those who really need nothing.  I have gotten to where I really do not need or want much and getting rid of things to my life simpler as well as my kids so they will not have as much stuff to get rid of when I keel over.

Yes, indeed are so much to whine about here in the USA.   Can we just man up and bow the knee to God and say thank you and be content?  What a change in the country and maybe even the world if we just got to the place we are exhorted to be by Paul.

1 Tim 6:3-11
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love 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.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  KJV

Healing War Wounds

November 7, 2013


Seeing all these things about Veterans Day on FaceBook reminded me of an incident with my Mom.  I spent a couple of years living across the creek from the only Black family in town.  Loman and I fished the creek together and ate at each others homes so Mom was not a racist.  Thus it was funny when I told her that when I grow up and join the Air Force I might go to Germany and get myself a Fraulein for a wife.  She immediately said, “You will not! You’ll marry one of your own kind!”  I said, “Mom, with a name like Shultz what else would be my kind?”   She meant American!  After all, her brother fought in the Pacific and we did fight the Germans in WWII.  Well, she got her wish as I married a lass of Scottish descent, but born right here in the good old USA.

War brings out things in you that you would not normally have.  Had I said I might marry a Japanese woman she might have beat me half to death after seeing what the war did to her favorite brother.  He could not watch anything like Combat or 12 O’clock High (which I loved) without breaking out in a sweat and shaking a bit.  My father-in-law who fought his way up the Italian boot could watch documentaries and tell me some things because I was in the military, but he had some very vivid and bad dreams right after the war.

I don’t even think I could have brought a Filipina, though we had been allies, anywhere near an European Theater veteran as he would not have seen any difference between her and a Japanese woman.  My uncle would have known the difference and may have accepted her.

It takes a long time for people and even a nation to heal after such conflicts.  Indeed, this nation is still not healed after the War Between the States or the Indian wars, let alone the scars of more recent conflicts.Some Nam vets would still have some animosity and not want to be around any Asian though some married Viet Namese and Thai women.  When you have been wounded physically or emotionally by representatives of some group it is hard to see an individual.  Somewhat a reverse of the old saw of not being able to see the forest because of the trees.  In this case, you can’t see the trees because of the forest.

Not only the participants in the conflict, but also the families are affected and so the pain fades even slower.  Imagine a Japanese or German woman moving next door in 1947 when you lost a son in the Pacific or you have a disabled husband that cannot get out of bed because he was a POW in Germany.  It would be tough to embrace her like you might any other new neighbor.

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.  Proverbs 18:19

We have been a nation of wars both foreign and domestic since our inception. Much pain and sorrow has been experienced or passed on so bitterness exists between many people groups.  While this day is a time of remembrance of our fallen and gratitude to all that have served, may we also make it a time of prayer for healing and reaching out to heal wounds no matter in what conflict they were created.   It may be hard as the verse says, but not impossible if  you let the wisdom, love and peace of Christ guide you through the process. Shalom!  Maranatha!

Better Than I Deserve

November 5, 2013


One of the best pastors that I have ever served with always replies with “Better than I deserve” whenever someone asks him how he is doing.  There is a bit of a debate over whether Dave Ramsey stole that phrase from him, but I have been using it as well.  I think it is a good answer.   Many times we tend to forget where we have come from and how frail and failing we truly are and what we would actually get if we got what we deserved. 

 

Lamentations 3:39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? KJV

 

We Americans tend to be the whiniest bunch of folks on the planet.  Let anything go wrong or not be as we think it should be and out comes the moans, whines and complaints.  Being a cheese lover, I also ask folks if they are going to serve cheese with that whine so at least some good will come of it. 

 

If we are honest with ourselves, most of our problems come from our direct sin or someone else’s sin that we may have directly or indirectly caused.  Indeed, the whole world is suffering from the sin of our first parents.   We have just done more and greater sins than they did.  I have often said that if I got what I deserved I would be bouncing off of the walls of Hell like a pinball.   If you are realistic, you would concur that you would be doing the same.  All have sinned, not just the ones whose sins are public and horrific.   Indeed, there would be far more public and horrible crimes if everyone acted out their thoughts.  

 

When I grew up, I often heard people say in anger that they were going to kill someone or mutilate some part of their body.   We were not politically correct back then and such things were accepted as just expressions of anger with no intent of following through albeit the look in their eyes and the rate, pitch and volume of their voice along with vivid charades movements made you think that in any second they might put words to action.   At that moment, they had actually done all those things in their heart and only fear of imprisonment or execution held them back.  The person was as good as dead or in intensive care in their minds.  

 

Think of all the things you wanted to do and did not because of fear of being caught.  Since Jesus said that the NT took the OT up a notch saying that to look in lust is the same as actually committing adultery there are far more adulterers and fornicators even among virgins, both male and female, in the world and church then many believe.  Mental sins can be as dangerous and debilitating as physical commissions of the acts because there is guilt. The hardening of the heart opens the door to ultimate commission of the sin and in the Christian it causes the same loss of fellowship, fruit and rewards making life far less than the abundant one Jesus came to give us, 

 

So when things go to pot do not blame God or complain, look and see what brought it into your life.  Did it come because of someone’s sin?  Did you plant the seed in that person in some way?   Is it because of your sins mental or physical?  Is it because God is chastising you to bring you to repentance?  If so, He is seeking to restore and renew you so don’t complain. Confess and submit and all will be well.   Is it self-inflicted punishment?   Are you sabotaging your life because you are experiencing guilt over some past or present sin?  Is that past failure keeping you from future fruit?  Confess and submit in trust to the One who can forgive the past, heal the present and give a glorious future.  

 

How is it with you today?  I freely confess to you that my life is not all I would like it to be because of the consequences of sin.  Some were physical manifestations, many were just mental, but sin nonetheless.   I have been a Pharisee.   I am seeking to be healed of that.  Yet, I do not want to pendulum swing the other way and become a Sadducee as many have done who have been convicted of having the Pharisee spirit.  I have been arrogant and God is humbling me.   I have lived in ways that gave the enemies of God reason to blaspheme God because of me.  I would absolutely not be breathing if God gave me what I deserved.  My every breath of life is due to the mercy of God.   That I have many blessings in my life is due to the manifold grace of God and not because of any holiness on my part.   If I am not the Assistant Chief of Sinners, I would be surprised.

 

 

Some might ask, “If all that is true, then why don’t you sit down and shut up?”   I have tried.  I can’t.  God is real.  Jesus is Lord.  The Bible is His Word.   Sinners need saved and saints need edified.   I am bent, battered and worn, but if I can point someone in the right direction even as a detour sign to make sure they do not go down some of that roads I have traveled, then in my weakness, baseness and foolishness God’s power will have prevailed and souls saved from Hell and heartbreak. 

 

When I took Luke 22:31,32 as my life verses, I was in the midst of torment thinking I had committed the unpardonable sin.  I clung to these verses in hope.    At one point, I thought that was the sifting satan desired to take me through and my desire in ministry has been to strengthen the brethren, but I think it was just a foretaste of what I have been experiencing.  Therefore I am clinging to them again as the call that God has given me and will at some point bring to fruition as the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.   I had been running on my own resources and they were not enough.   Yet, while I am waiting for the completion of what God is doing in me, I cannot hold in what I feel He gives me.   After all, it is all about Him and not the vessel He uses.   A thirsty person will not stop drinking from a cup just because the cup is cracked and maybe even leaking a bit.   He needs the water that is in the cup more than the cup.   God can use cracked, leaking and even broken vessels.  If you are thirsty and you find living water in anything I write, then thank God for the dispensing of it and ask God to repair the cup. 

 

Look to Jesus, not a vessel and you will do well.   Shalom!  Maranatha!