I have become concerned recently that far too many of our American population is strident. If this trait becomes evident in the body of Believers, it will cause careless loss of blessing to the entire body. That’s why I approach this subject today.
John, the apostle wrote a short little letter to Gaius whom, it appears, was a church leader. When the Bible was divided into chapters and verses for ease of study, this little letter, 3 John, turned out to be 14 verses.
Like the first two letters by John, this letter is also a tenderly written letter of encouragement. Three people are mentioned in the letter: Gaius, to whom the letter was addressed, Diotrophes, and Demetrius. Each one holds a place in John’s attention. Diotrophes is a warning to me, the reader. John apparently feels some sadness that Diotrophes did not accept John. Diotrophes “loved to have the preeminence” did not like this gentle fisherman whom Jesus loved and put into the inner circle of disciples with James and Peter. Diotrophes wanted the spotlight.
So, from the very early days of the established churches, there have always been those who “loved the preeminence” and cause strife among the body of believers. There is probably someone like that in your church. Here is the question: Is it you?
Demetrius, on the other hand, was of “good report.” He had a testimony of being a peaceful follower of Jesus. John, in fact, used Demetrius as an example because John further states, “. . . of the truth itself . . . and ye know that our record is true.” Demetrius did not cause strife; he stood unwavering but without vitriol.
When I read this short little passage this morning, I stopped and asked myself, am I a Diotrophes, or a Demetrius?
These times of introspection are essential to keeping ourselves in a place of clarity both with ourselves and God, and also with others. Each relationship is vitally important. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, wrote it down for our admonition.
For most of my career life, I have been cocooned in a Christian environment. It is a safe place for the most part. In fact, I tried my best to make a classroom environment that enriched the lives of my students not just with academics, but also Christian ethics laced with challenging students to live their lives with eternity in view. Once I retired, I ventured into the retail environment and there found connections with other Christian people. It is almost like a radar system that puts out signals and attracts other Believers. The Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 8 as our spirit seeking out similar spirits as a witness.
In the past few months I have met other Christians at the Active Adult Center where I joined for an exercise class and found myself immediately attracted to people of like faith. It is amazing. While we are certainly friendly with other people, we usually find ourselves sitting at the same table for lunch or coffee.
The Active Adult Center (most people would call it a Senior Center) is a place where people of moral standards seem to gather. Yet, by no means are all members believing Christians. It is a place to let my light shine. Sadly, some of those moral standards are also a set of rules, a system of good deeds by which some of those folks hope to earn a place in Heaven.
This morning I read a most interesting passage in I Peter 4. Verse 11 is one of those verses that can stay with a person so it has been my muse today. It says in part, “. . . if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth. . .” The words, the ability which God giveth has tugged at my heart. What are those abilities? May I venture to say, the ability to be sweet rather than sour; the ability to be available rather than self-absorbed; the ability to cook a meal for someone just because you think they need the help; the ability to be a good neighbor; and on and on.
When I walk in the Shepherd’s presence, those times of ministry appear before me. It doesn’t take much ability to pack a food request list at the food pantry, but it does take availability. Every Friday, from noon to three I pack up food requests. I work with people of interesting faith. It is a place to let my light shine.
So, what about you, dear Reader? Let the Holy Spirit nudge you into a place to smile, encourage, and bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. That’s what the rest of verse 11 tells us to do. BE a person of Christlikeness and HE will show you how to walk in the light so you can shine for Him. I beseech you, do not be a liability for the cause of Christ.
The frequency of trains coming through my town has recently increased. Someone tried to explain it to me, and I still don’t understand and actually, don’t object. I rather like the sound of the train whistle.
This morning I found myself in a line of vehicles at the railroad tracks. Parents of years gone by occupied their young passengers by counting the cars as they rolled by. While I waited, I shifted the car into neutral and counted cars. Since there were 97 cars, several thoughts also scurried through my brain.
Movies seem to like to feature fist fights atop box cars and it is spellbinding to see those cowboys and outlaws jumping from car to car and wrestling fearlessly.
Trains full of boxcars carried Jews to prisons during the Nazi days. Horrible stories are told of the conditions in which those passengers traveled. I thought of the torment and stench they suffered at the hands of Hitler and his followers.
Trains carried orphan children from the Eastern coast into the Midwest and beyond during the last half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. How frightening for those children. How comforting when they found loving foundations on which they could build the rest of their lives. At least some of them found a better life.
My grandparents on my mother’s side lived across from a train depot when I was a child. Hardly an evening passed that Grandma didn’t prepare a plate of food for a hobo who sat on the front step and ate. Grandma was generous enough to give them dessert too.
All those thoughts crossed my mind as I also aimlessly counted the cars passing in front of me. Our minds are seldom idle. All of the thoughts that passed by me were the product of my eyes. What I observed, saw in a movie, or read in a book. Would it be true that is the reason that the Spirit-inspired book, the Holy Bible says: “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes . . .: Psalm 101:3
My son, when about four years old, according to his grandmother, drank gasoline. I don’t think that he drank it, he touched the container and then his face and the smell panicked my mother-in-law. End of story, he survived without any repercusions. I was reminded of the incident when reading this powerful story by Stacey Ayars, my sometimes guest at this blog site. Here are the inspirational conclusions she draws from a similar incident.
The question is: Is controversy bad? Without a doubt, my reply will be, well, controversial!
This week someone asked me about cavemen. In a public arena, they conversation following such a question could easily become contrary. Since this was a private conversation and asked out of genuine search for wisdom, no controversy convened between the two of us. Had I been involved in such a question in a public school classroom, there would have been numerous questions and objections to my reply.
This week a viral Facebook post involved a question of marriage. I didn’t even read the article since it really does not involve me. Two days later, another question arose in opposition to the article. It was a question of whether the viral posting had Biblical content. A controversy erupted.
Such differences of opinion remind me of the controversy in Corinth in which some people in the congregation liked Apollos better than Paul. It was a healthy conversation. Paul addressed it in I Corinthians 3 letting them know that both he and Apollos are fellow laborers.
Paul further explained in the same passage that one plants, one waters, but it is God that gives the increase. Satan dances in glee when fellow believers argue and wrangle with each other. It is best not to give him such joy!
If someone brings up a differing view on something, what should we then say? “That’s an interesting point.” would be a good answer. Paul addresses the matter of controversy to Timothy in both letters to him, and in II Timothy he even says to him, “. . . being mindful of thy tears. . .” is a tender moment of compassion on Paul’s part. Strident remarks during such discourse of controversy bring too many believers to tears.
How much better that we take the points of difference with “. . . charity, out of a pure heart.” as Paul explained in I Timothy 1:5. Controversy is not bad, unless it is handled in a strident way. Remember that next time you post an opposing view on something. Far too strident remarks are made particularly on political posts.
And now, I am stepping off my soap box. Hold your applause please! Well, you are more than welcome to comment—nothing strident, please.
Call me cautious. Falling is not something on which I do not take a chance. When and if the time comes that the family says I need a cane, I will go cane shopping.
There is this silly riddle making its way around Facebook. I’ve seen it. I’ve been challenged. I have not yet surrendered to a giraffe face. That is because I do not take risks. So many of my friends now have giraffe faces that I have to read the names beside the profile to see who is posting.
My face is mine. It is going to stay that way, and maybe in a few days someone will leak the answer to the riddle.
Life is full of risks. We risk our money. We risk our lives when we drive. We are at risk when we buy fresh produce. There is one place I have no absolute risk. Eternity. Not me. I can be sure of an eternal home with God in Heaven.
The Bible says in I John 5:11-12 “and this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye might know that ye have eternal life and that ye might believe on the name of the Son of God.”
There is no risk in believing that Jesus has done as He has promised.
How much? How many? How long do I have? Set the timer! The 15-minute meal. The four-minute mile. The 45 minute workout. And on and on and on. . .
From timed tests and drills to nine innings in a baseball game, we are time adjusted people. Deadlines are usually productive. Production is not everything. Manufacturing may turn out a great number of products; yet, the handmade product is superior because of painstaking care.
For instance, one can go to a local big box store and purchase a hair bow made in China. It is plain. The clips fail to grip the hair correctly. It does the job of decorating a hairdo. The alternatives are two: learn to make hairbows yourself, or find someone who makes bows handmade and with unique design.
God’s Word declares that each of us is made by God, His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” God doesn’t make junk. You, me, we are God’s handiwork. It takes time and patience to make a masterpiece.
Now, time is no big thing to God. God is not a slave to a clock. God has all eternity at His disposal.
I do have a point. It is coming.
Are we so time driven that we put God on a time schedule? You say, “That is ridiculous!” Wait. I hear Christians do that all the time (oops, there’s that word). “If such and such doesn’t happen by thus and thus then I am going to do this or that.” That might be man’s way, but I beg to say, it is not God’s way. Wait. Wait longer. Wait some more.
Next time you are ready to dive into the unknown made of your own liking, remember how long Abraham waited for Isaac. Remember that David fled for a total of nine years from one place to another just to survive the outrage of King Saul’s jealousy. God will work His way for us in His time. There is no need to set an alarm clock for God.
I searched in vain for the lyrics to the song, “God’s Clock” and if any of my readers know the lyrics, please comment with them!
If you are interested in handmade hairbows check out my daughter’s business at:
“Let me get the camera. . .”
We try to capture the moment that a memory is made. A few days ago I took a trip and captured memorable moments with people I love. The pictures will help me recall the good time we enjoyed.
This week my three-year-old granddaughter and I baked cookies together. I snapped a couple of pictures for the memory.
Moses did not have a digital camera. Just think of what his photo album would contain. A page of crossing the Red Sea, a memorable picture of the tablets of stone, and oh yes, water out of the rock!
Although the camera was not used then, Israel’s oral history captured those memories. They are repeated through the Bible narrative again and again. “When the Lord brought you out of Egypt. . .” is used 54 times according to e-sword and other variants are sprinkled throughout the books of history, in the Psalms, by the Prophets reminders, and with Peter’s opening sermon in Acts at the establishment of the local church. The oft repeated phrase reminded them of the All-Powerful God who enabled the followers of Jehovah to cross a sea on dry ground.
Next time you reach for your camera to capture a memory; please also remember the Mighty God and think back on how graciously, mercifully He has guided you.
Today I heard the pastor, Allister Beg, giving out Biblical content, then stopped and said, “There are really only two things we need to know: I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior.” What a wonderful memory is captured in my heart the day I confessed my sin, and Jesus became my Savior. Do you remember the time you received Jesus as your Savior?
My friend and I took a road trip two states away over the weekend. I knew in general the way to our destination and because I don’t see well enough to point out turns quickly anymore, I am not a good direction giver. I assumed she knew the way. As we approached the bridge over the Ohio River at Louisville, I reminded my friend that the turn here was tricky. She nodded and I stayed quiet rather than be bossy.
She missed the turn. As I already said, I don’t see the signs quickly enough to help someone. After a while, I doubted that we were going correctly and casually stated, in a non accusing manner, “Are we on Interstate 64?”
Her quick reply: “No, are we supposed to be?”
“Yes,” I quietly informed her.
Now what? Kay pulled over as soon as she could, and out came “Agnes,” the GPS lady. Agnes deftly led us onto a quiet, two-lane road traveling south. Eventually we joined Interstate 75 and were on the most direct route again.
The serious Christian believer has a GPS called “the Holy Spirit.” When I get on a comfortable path and carelessly miss a turn, the Holy Spirit quietly pulls me back unto the right way.
That part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is a quiet and gentle part of the Godhead. Unlike Agnes, He is not bossy. If a driver simply pulls off to a rest area Agnes is busy recalculating, so she says, to find a route back to her liking. At least the Holy Spirit allows us wiggle room for diversions and gently directs us through God’s Word to the Way.
Praise the Lord, for giving us that gentle, quiet voice to guide us on our life journey.
There is a court case on the docket of our U.S. Supreme court regarding prayer in public city meetings. I would guess that the litigation is led by the freedom from religion people; we must pray that the ruling will be in favor of God, and defeat the forces of Evil.
Benjamin Franklin’s address to the Constitutional Convention, Thursday, June 28.1787, in Philadelphia. He challenges the Convention to begin each day in prayer. The address follows:
The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other — our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
That proposal was accepted by the Convention, and since then chaplains are now appointed members of the governing bodies of our land. Today, however, action is in the Supreme Court of our nation against the little town of Greece, NY, where my son and his family live, to stop the practice of prayer before council meetings. We need to plead that this action will be defeated, and open, public meetings can continue in prayer if they so wish.