Monthly Archives: January 2016

Conversion – nearly always incremental

Shakespeare has one of his characters truly say that wounds heal only by degrees.  In the same way, converting from an ego-centered to a Christ-centered life happens by degrees.  As the Twelve disciples proved during Christ’s ministry, that change can be so incremental it’s nearly invisible.

Ernie Pyle wrote about the change from home-focused to war-focused perspectives among GI’s in North Africa, 1942.  He noted first the change in his own beliefs.  He had previously pondered possible defeat by the Germans, due to few troops and supplies reaching American forces.  That pessimism vanished with the build-up of troops, planes, tanks and confidence by victory in battle.

He also noted the change in the troops.  While stationed in North Africa, they thought only of home.  They could hardly wait to return home.  As weeks passed, and they concentrated on the military mission, they thought less of home and more of battle.  Until, when he wrote, home remained more a figment of memory by war being the monster of reality.

He judged that a nation would take a couple of years to change from a consumer economy to a war economy.  While it didn’t take as long for troops to make the alteration, it did happen  in the gradual displacement of one perspective by another.  Reader’s Digest Illustrated Story WWII, 320

Conversion from ego-centered to Christ-centered thinking is also a process, not an event.  The disciples hardly qualified as apostles while Jesus ministered.  But once granted the Holy Spirit’s Baptism, they became what Jesus envisioned for 3 ½ years.

The difference is perseverance:  soldiers concentrating on their duty, disciples on their responsibility.  As soldiers by effort in war put home in the shadows, Christians by involvement in the Christ-life leave little emphasis on ego-building.  As time passed, the soldiers forgot about going home until they fulfilled their mission.  As time passes for the Christian, we develop the conviction that we can’t and won’t go back to what we were by concentrating on what we’ve become and want to continue being.  Our future is a maturing Christ-likeness, not any previous lifestyle we considered irresistible.  Whatever help psychology may give us to mesh, not grind our mental gears, the WILL to change our lives drives us forward to the goal for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus Philippians 3:14.

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Wondering – just

I see that Rick Warren is 62 years old today 1/28/16.  Congratulations!  As a 30 year old he likely thought that 60 year old preachers had nothing relevant to say.  I wonder if, as a 62 year old preacher, he still considers himself relevant?  Or should he retire and let more of those 30 year olds succeed him?  And…by the way…how many more of those former wonder boys, now in their late 50’s and early 60’s, still preach and dare to be insulted when told they have nothing relevant to say?

 I also read in today’s San Diego U-T Night & Day section that actor William Shatner has a one-man show called “Shatner’s World.”  He says it’s about life’s meaning, joy and existentialism. I wonder:  since he knows we’re here for but a short time—not the newest discovery ever made—should he so casually conclude that since he doesn’t know what happened to us before we came, and what happens to us after we die, we must live “in this moment.”  That’s nothing new either, but it’s as stupid as it is old.

Bill…you better discover where you originated—not in a sexual-passion sense, but in the origin of human life sense.  That determines where you’re going to go after death and what you’re going to be after death.  A caveat:  what you will be either way is NOT DEAD!  Once you were begotten you live forever, and you’re conscious of ecstasy or misery.

Given your view, you probably think humanity somehow developed out of a mindless ooze into lower forms of life that somehow developed through long processes into what humans are today.  If I believed that, I’d be as uninformed and hopeless as you.

But to know that our common parents both came from Jesus Christ’s direct creation.  To know that he visited them in Paradise day after day as the Pre-Incarnate Christ.  To know they lost that position by defiance of his  command.  To know that he regained their position and ours by his sacrifice at Calvary.  And to know that he Arose from the dead on the third day…well, that changes everything!

I wonder…will you accept as Christ’s purpose the eternal life he promises all who obey him?  Then you can experience the joy, delight and satisfaction that’s SO worthwhile now and guarantees SO MUCH MORE in the world to come.

Choose Bill… and all like-minded Bills…will your life beyond the grave be one continuous, unexcelled and eternal Joy?  OR…will it be one continuous disappointment, grief, conflict, despair and everything else even you now despise and want to avoid?

Choose:  will you be happy forever after you die or never happy again?

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Judgment – prepare for

By the end of December, 1941, few in Singapore doubted that the British in Malaya had been defeated.  Singapore hospitals overflowed with wounded troops.

Brigadier Ivan Simson arrived in the city from a four-month tour of Malaya.  Traveling some 6000 miles examining defenses, he knew the fate of the entire peninsula, and the mind-numbing consequences for Singapore.

Yet, arriving late that night, he found General Percival indifferent to the cataclysm hovering beyond the horizon.  That’s when he realized why indifference characterized so many of the commanders and troops in Malaya.

Simson had urged upgrading the beach defenses in previous interviews with Percival, always finding him non-committal.  Now, that 26 December night, he forcefully reminded his Superior that Singapore had no defenses against the Japanese crossing mile-wide Johore Strait between Malaya and the capital.  He urged fortification of northern beaches; the need of reconnaissance; the necessity of building pillboxes, anti-tank obstructions and planting mines.  At first calm and rational, Simson became fervid with passion as he appealed to the Commander of all British troops in Malaya.  The men had to receive help to maintain their will to fight!

Unmoved, Percival disagreed.  When Simson, forgetting his subordinate role, asked WHY, Percival said that building military defenses would be bad for troop and civilian morale.  Reader’s Digest, Illustrated Story of WWII, 44.

Such blindness, out-of-touch with reality responses should never afflict military leaders in war.  With Japanese troops bulldozing their way directly and invincibly at his island fortress, Percival thought of “morale.”

Are ministers today so concerned about the “happiness” of their congregations they don’t confront them with God’s judgment?  Are we to be so afraid of disrupting our people’s “morale” that we don’t urge them to “prepare to meet your God”?  With so many signs of God’s judgment coming, arriving, at hand, ready to fall?  Shouldn’t God’s preachers be aware of the danger facing our country?  Shouldn’t we be alert to our first responsibility:  preparing our people to face Jesus Christ at judgment?  Shouldn’t we get at least as passionate about that certainty as we are when raising our budgets and recruiting interest in our programs?

Remember the parting words of Brigadier Simson to his military commander:  it would be much harder on morale once citizens saw Japanese troops disembarking on Singapore beaches.   Let us remember:  if we provide all kinds of teaching to keep our people happy, involved, attending, but don’t prepare them to meet God, they won’t have any morale or happiness ever again, world without end.  What will they think of us then?

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Humanity – humanists can see the genius of but…

Even atheists and skeptics understand the difference in humanity from all the beasts of the field and birds of the air.  They see hope in our future by the human “reverence for life”, by a “zeal for learning Nature’s secrets”, by the “willingness to sacrifice for progress”, etc., etc., etc.

They believe these characteristics are “inherent in our species.”  They believe a “biologically determined” factor that “is the human spirit” motivates us.  That spirit as clearly identifies us as mortals as genes our eye color or length of fingers and toes.  They even believe it’s as predictable as the sun’s rising and setting.

How then can they so casually turn to senseless humanism by pleading ignorance of our origin.  Is it God or chance?  Will it be discovered in the future through scientific research and experiment?  Will increasing knowledge of our world and ourselves finally reveal the truth about ourselves?  The Doctors, Introduction, xx

Intellectual brilliance blinded by humanism:  the curse of the 21st century.  They see the order that exists demanding a BUILDER; the complexity demanding a MIND; the predictability demanding an ARRANGER; the design demanding a DESIGNER.  But they have no idea WHO could be the builder, the mind, the arranger, the designer!  They believe that WE, the mortals who benefitted from all the above, somehow derived all that makes us a distinctive creation.

The intellectually-endowed humanists will themselves NOT TO SEE the reality of God Almighty.  They won’t let themselves think that HE is the source of all that makes us superior by being made in HIS image, not our own!

Using all the terms that point to a Creator, they refuse to admit HE created.  That’s the disgusting dishonesty of atheism.  No fool is a greater fool than the fool who will not accept the existence of Immortal God Psalm 14:1.

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Perseverance – makes the hardest task possible

Success possible from…not easy.  Achievable…but only through painful toil.

As emigrant trains stretched out for miles along the Oregon Trail, memories of what they left behind may have grown attractive.  The hard facts of daily travel, coupled with uncertain troubles ahead, certainly tormented their journey.

They found meadows when they reached the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers, near their eponymous Forts.  In them they rested, let livestock graze and…wanted to linger.  To be abused after only two days by their Captains.  “Up and at ‘em,” they shouted.  Dr. Marcus Whitman, having survived the previous journey to Oregon, knew that only “travel, travel, travel…” led to the end of their journey.  Groaning in despair, they complied.  Leaving behind what offered rest but no goal, they returned to daily toil that guaranteed hardship but brought their goal within reach.  By the effort of 15-20 miles a day, the 2000 miles between Independence, Missouri and Oregon or California could be spanned  between April and October.  But only by daily travel.  Woe to those who lingered or sought a short-cut. Westward Vision, 374-375.

Any career, relationship or endeavor yields to repetitious regularity.  We may need a rest after so much effort expended.  We may take a rest, an appropriate and symbolic  “two days”, to re-gather our strength.  But we dare not stop for long.  Continue, continue, continue what brings the promise of completion.  Don’t settle for ease that offers repose but no fulfillment at the end.

Speaking of which:  the Christian life can whirl from being difficult, to hard, to impossible.  But at the end Glorious and Ecstatic.  The unsaved life is easier, broader, tolerant.  But at the end…well, nothing you want to be or possess!

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Civilization – comes from God, not man

In his book Westward Vision, David Lavender credited Swiss John Sutter as the man who did more than “every preacher” to bring civilization to California, p 322.  That’s an unwarranted tribute to a man who avoided indebtedness in Switzerland by escaping to America.  Perhaps Lavender saw civilization as eluding responsibility by running away.

It’s true that Sutter opened his land-grant dominion to all settlers and pioneers finding their way to his fort on the Sacramento River.  But he had himself been the recipient of largesse from a caravan that included open-hearted missionaries.  Did they not offer a civilizing acceptance to a penniless stranger?

It’s amazing that secular writers remain blind to the value of Christian men and women pioneering the country with the message of God’s love in Christ.  In turn, they boast of any small mortal achievement.  It’s as if they created the idea of the good life, and supplied the graces and the love that helped when needed, the forgiveness that made family and community life possible.  Preachers made that difference.

Any open-minded historian knows that women were as responsible for civilizing the west as any mortal.  Their arrival, with their children, their decency and their Christian values led to the building of schools and churches.  And morals improved.

Lavender is no more wrong than others like him.  But all of them are equally and badly wrong in minimizing the impact of Christianity and its Christians in “civilizing” the west.  What Lavender said is what Dear Abby said to a convict writing that he wanted a better life.  Her response:  “get an education.”  San Diego U-T, 10/19/15

Yes, an education, a degree, a career, money, housing, a pension.  After which death comes and we appear before God Almighty for judgment.  And if we have what the secular world says is the measure of success, but not Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, what fools we will be because of the fools we had become by eliminating God in Christ as the author of our “forgiven, civilized life.”

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Kingdom – God’s always has the same Power source

The United States Navy has floated its warships by Sail, Coal, Oil and Nuclear energy.  As the Great Green Fleet left San Diego, Wednesday, January 20, 2016, it had Biofuel as its energy source.  The four ships sailed with a mix of 90% diesel and 10% fuel from beef fat.

The experiment isn’t without controversy:  from the perspective of cost—it’s considerably more expensive at present than straight oil costs; from the perspective of political correctness—the liberal environmental lobby never stops pushing its agenda in all directions.

The spiritual lesson is the eternal, unchanging energy source from which the Kingdom of God originates and on which it continues to function in history.  The same Almighty God works through the same Power and Message generation to generation, however different his servants are.

In II Kings 2:13-14, God’s prophet Elijah vanished in the explosive flames of horses and chariots, leaving his mantle for Elisha to wear.  He carried it back to the Jordan, rolled it up and struck the river, calling on God to divide it as he had for Elijah.  God divided the river.

Same God.  Same Power source.  Different servant.   The Holy Spirit of God then and now works through the word of God to carry the message of God through the generations until the end of time.  What greater privilege can a mortal have than studying, writing, teaching and preaching that eternal WORD through God’s eternal SPIRIT?

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Animals – are not fit substitutes for humans

The pictures came as e-mail from a Christian friend.  To put it in the words of Queen Victoria, “we are not amused.” The first picture I saw had a sleeping baby in his seat below a chair, with the family dog lying in the chair with its head resting on the infant’s.  Not too repulsive.

The second picture I saw had the same baby, lying on a bassinette, etc., with the dog licking the infant’s mouth and nose.  Unacceptable.  Repulsive.

Dogs licked the sores on beggar Lazarus, Luke 16:21, by their instinct, not for his health.  The baby pictured had no sores, and deserved better oversight than a dog slurping its tongue over the infant’s mouth and nose.

Don’t blame the brute.  It did what came naturally.  But what of the adult supervising the child?  Why would anyone seek in a beast what is the responsibility of someone LIKE the infant?  And could that picture bring praise?

Christians, remember your ancestry.  You came directly from God as humans; not in evolution from animals.  Therefore…it’s from God and people like ourselves that we find our peace, comfort and care.

People say they can almost communicate with their animal, dog or otherwise.  (Excluding cats; no one can communicate with a feline.)  That almost describes the impassable, uncrossable barrier between humans and animals.  Will Durant once criticized creationists by saying the gorilla’s DNA is very close to ours.  Just try to eliminate the gap those one or two chromosomes create!  Left without human guidance, when will a gorilla put on pants, or speak a word?  The same question applies to any animal.

If you want a baby comforted, or made secure, pick him up and hold him gently and firmly.  Reach down your head and kiss his forehead.  Open your mouth and say, “I love you.”  That child will never need animal care.  That’s my view.  What’s yours?

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Bible – regretting a loss of reading

While hurrying from Gettysburg to apparent safety at the Jacob Weikert farm east of the Round Tops, 15 year old Tillie Pierce witnessed the furor, excitement and danger of war.  As a Union artillery man hurried his caisson to its emplacement, an accidental explosion flung him into the air.  When rescuers found and carried him into a house, she noticed that his eyes were blown from the black mass that had been his face.  Yet, oblivious of his wounds, his first words were regret that he hadn’t read his Bible that morning.  Witness to Gettysburg, 161.

What spiritual longing inspires us to read our Bible at least 5 days a week?  What would it take to cause regret that we hadn’t read our Bible today?  If we establish a pattern of consistent Bible reading, we’ll often discover the Holy Spirit speaking to and resolving personal spiritual issues we face.  Try it.  You’ll find it true.  You’ll find you like it more and more.

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Instructions – disregarding to one’s harm

Passenger ship Lusitania sailed from New York 2 ½ hours late.  That may have made no difference in her sinking six days later.  That she didn’t follow prescribed procedure when arriving in the recognized war zone may well have.

She received a sixth warning of German U-boats that morning, May 7, 1915.  She also received guidelines for sailing.  She ignored all four particular instructions.  When, about 1:30 p.m. U-20 shot a single torpedo, Lusitania sank in 18 minutes.  Perhaps…she would have been hit no matter the precautions taken.  By taking none of those prescribed she invited attack.  First World War, p. 157.

A lot of people dislike the Bible’s warnings of judgment to come.  They particularly dislike having Jesus issue such warnings.  They dislike vehemently his warning that Hell awaits those who disregard his threats of condemnation if he’s not obeyed.

Don’t blame the Teacher.  He’s left no doubt how we can avoid damnation.  And, if we take his advice, he promises we’ll certainly avoid being lost; indeed, that there’s not a chance we’ll be lost.

We can be wise and heed his teachings.  Or stupid and ignore them.  Under no circumstance will he have mercy on us if we have heard his threats and paid no attention.  Nor will he apologize for his demand of forgiveness or punishment.  We always suffer God’s justice when we refuse his mercy.  He accepts no responsibility for our sentence of doom if we have rejected his offer of justification by Jesus Christ.

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