"The key to understanding the Bible is to look for Jesus in the Bible. Jesus is the hero of the Bible. If you read the Bible and don't find Jesus, re-read it! The Bible has one hero, His name is Jesus; one villain, that is Satan; one problem, that is sin; one solution, that is salvation. That is what the Bible is all about." -Dr. Adrian Rogers

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coals of Fire

Yesterday I watched a very interesting episode of Bonanza. Like most episodes of the show, it made me want to send my fist through the television screen more than once. However, as in all other episodes of the show, the ending proved that right never loses and wrong never wins. It also proved several other things, as well. Mainly, it reminded me of two key verses in the Bible: Romans 12:19-20 which say, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

I have included the aforementioned episode below. Please take the time this week to watch and learn from the wisdom, patience, and courage of Ben Cartwright. I am sure the writers of this particular episode did not realize they were fulfilling Scripture when they wrote the last four minutes of the episode.

If you do not know Jesus as the Lord of your life, I invite you to give your heart and your life to Him today, before it is eternally too late for you. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Heritage of Faithfulness

Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.
-“Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green

I admire a lot of wonderful people who I like to call “heroes of the faith.” However, one of the people that I admire most of all happens to be within my own family—my grandmother. My grandmother is faithfulness personified. She is faithful to her friends, her family, but most of all to her Lord. However, I cannot talk about my grandmother’s faithfulness without talking about her faithfulness to her own mother, my great-grandmother.

My great-grandmother went to be with the Lord when I was eleven years old. However, I have very few memories of her true personality and character. You see, my great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t remember how old I was when she was diagnosed with the disease. To be completely honest I am not entirely sure that she ever knew that she had been diagnosed with the disease. My grandmother knew and my aunt knew, but it was not something they talked about with the family.

My grandmother and great-grandmother lived together; and at that point in my life, I visited them fairly frequently. Every time I visited them I saw nothing but unconditional, selfless love being poured of my grandmother. What an example of loyalty and dedication she was to us kids, especially toward the end.

Eventually, it got to the point where my grandmother had to do everything for my great-grandmother. She even quit her job to stay home with her fulltime. But not once did I ever hear her complain. I remember one night when we were getting ready to go someplace and we had to take my great-grandmother with us because she was not able to stay at home alone. When it came time to leave, my great-grandmother became confused and did not understand how to go down the steps. Then, when we finally got her down the steps, she could not figure out how to get into the car. I think the whole process took around twenty minutes or so. However, my grandmother was so patient the entire time. I have no memories of her ever being frustrated because my great-grandmother could not remember how to do something.

About three months before my great-grandmother passed away, my grandmother had to do what she had tried so hard to avoid. She had to put my great-grandmother in a nursing home. My great-grandmother had become very weak and needed round the clock care, much more than my grandmother could provide for her alone. However, my grandmother was just as much involved there as she was when my great-grandmother was at home. She visited her every day and fed her every meal. She was the epitome of selfless devotion.

I tell this story as an example of what it means to leave behind a heritage of faithfulness. My grandmother has taught me what it means to love unconditionally, to die to oneself, putting the needs of others before your own. She has taught me that we may be weak and powerless on our own, but His strength is perfect. People today wonder why their children aren’t making it. It is because they are not leaving behind a heritage of faithfulness. Please, let the fire of your devotion light their way.

If you do not already know Jesus as Lord of your life, I invite you to come to do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thoughtless Loyalty

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1

If I had to pick only two words to describe my grandmother, those words would have to be “thoughtless loyalty.” Now I know what you’re thinking. “What did he just say”? I know at first glance those two words do not seem to go together at all. In fact, if anything, they seem like total opposites. However, I think that once I explain what I mean you will see that they work together perfectly in this particular area of life that I want us to think about today.

When I was a kid, my grandmother was constantly pointing us to Jesus. She was constantly saying things like, “Jesus likes it when we…” or “Jesus doesn’t like it when we…” It was almost like she said it without even thinking. He was always on her mind, and she was always relating our current situation—whatever that may have been at the time—back to Him and His Word. She was thoughtlessly loyal to her Lord.

I remember her telling me a story a few years ago that illustrated this perfectly. My grandmother works as a cashier in a school cafeteria. One particular day she caught a young boy stealing. In her usual fashion, she looked down at him and said, “Jesus doesn’t like it when we steal.” Being the man of little faith that I am, my first response was to say, “You could have lost your job!” You see, my grandmother works in a public school where it is forbidden for teachers to proclaim the name of the Lord. My response revealed my weakness. Her response revealed her strength, wisdom, and dedication to the God she loves, for she simply looked at me that day and said, “I said it without thinking.”

How I long to have the faith of my grandmother who has proven to be thoughtlessly loyal to her God. She knows that Jesus is the name “which is above every name,” and she is not afraid to proclaim it (Philippians 2:9). It does not matter where she is or who she is with. She knows that there is power in the name of the Lord, and she does not hesitate to speak it. May we all learn to be thoughtlessly loyal to the Lord our God, speaking His name first and thinking about how it will be received later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

May the Fire of Our Devotion Light Their Way

This past Sunday morning the pastor of the church we have been visiting for the last several months talked about his plans for the church in 2013. Perhaps the one thing he talked about most was his plan to introduce the concept of what he called “blended worship.” That is, his plan to integrate more contemporary pieces into the Sunday morning worship service rather than just singing more traditional hymns. He said that he came to the conclusion that this decision is necessary based on the fact that he has noticed that the people of this generation have not been participating in the song service. He said that by integrating more contemporary pieces into the service the younger people in the church would be more apt to participate. But why is this? And is this something that we should really want?

In the past decade or so, I have seen this issue brought up many times. And at some point in these discussions, the following belief is usually mentioned at least once: “We must change with the times.” But where is this written within the Bible? The answer is nowhere. In fact, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If Jesus never changes and His Word never changes, then why should we?

I am all for changing for the better, but the only change I see with this generation is all for the worst. I see young people distant from their parents and family. I see teens dropping out of school left and right; and it is not so they can go to work to help provide for their families like it was in the old days, but it is because they are just plain lazy. I see college people strung out on drugs and alcohol. The air is polluted with filthy language and dirty jokes. I see young parents walking through the grocery store with hoods over their heads and earbuds shoved in their ears. But why is this? The answer can be found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It really is that simple. We are not training up our children in the way they should go.

In Steve Green’s song “Find Us Faithful,” he says, “May the fire of our devotion light their way.” I grew up watching my mother get down on her knees before a pure and holy God. I spent my childhood having Bible time in my grandmother’s living room. I grew up knowing that every night my great-grandmother would sit down at her kitchen table and continue her journey through God’s Word as part of her commitment to read through the Bible in its entirety every year. I grew up in a household where God and His Word were respected and revered and the principles found in His Word were taught to be essential for successful living. It wasn’t about a religion but a relationship with the one true God.

One of my former teachers who I respect very much wrote the following a couple years ago:

Furthermore, hymns are an enduring thread running through church history. Knowing that Christians throughout the centuries have sung the same rich songs should bind our hearts together and help transmit to our children and grandchildren the spiritual heritage that has been passed down more than 2,000 years. Martin Luther, St. Francis of Assisi, the Wesleys, Fanny Crosby — all are hymn writers from various ages whose work is too rich to lose. We cannot allow the next generation to think that their faith exists alone!

She’s right. It is not an issue of what tickles the ear; it is about one generation sharing with the other a passionate love for the One who gave His life for them. It is not about a tradition, for traditions come and go. But it is about following the example of Jesus Christ who came to earth wrapped in flesh to show us what life is all about. We’ll never reach the younger generation by letting them find their own way. We must get involved in their lives and share our love for Him with them. We must let the fire of our devotion light their way.