Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reposting for a friend whose writings I love: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Living Simply Sassy Classy: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow: Today, I parted with a dear friend and companion of mine. We had been together 10 long years. 2 of those years were hidden in a storage unit...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What if TODAY was your LAST day?

Another song Hank thought enough of to do a couple of different versions. Hank seemed fascinated with death as evidenced by so many songs dealing with death. In his last days he told his wife he saw Jesus coming down the road for him. It was almost as if he had foreknowledge that he was going to die. At the young age of 29 he did just that and was found dead in the backseat of his Cadillac.

What a tragedy, a life cut short at such a young age. It happens all the time and to people younger than Hank. Recently a 16 year old was struck by lightning and killed. We all expect to live a long and fruitful life but it doesn't always happen.

Do you know what's a greater tragedy? A person dying who hasn't accepted Christ's free gift of salvation. If you live to be 120 and die without Christ, you've wasted your entire life. Without delving into a ton of theology here it'll suffice to say that Christ offers life. Not just a life down here but a life after death.

You see, we're dying. The moment we were born is when we started to die. It doesn't matter if you go at 16 or 120, you're still going to die! The Bible spells this out for us when it says it's appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow what would you do different?

The thing is you could die tomorrow or you could even die five minutes from now. Are you ready to go? Have you accepted Christ's free gift of atonement? We're all imperfect people before a perfect God but a perfect God who provided a way for your ticket to Heaven.

You're not promised tomorrow. I had a friend who once told me he believed what the Bible said but would also tell you he wasn't a Christian. When I quizzed him about it he told me that he was waiting for his death bed and would be saved five minutes before he died. Now I believe in death bed salvation if a person is sincere in their repentance but do you REALLY want to base your eternal destination on maybe hopefully God will forgive you five minutes before you die? How many people are even coherent enough to make such a decision five minutes before they die?

The point is you don't know when you'll die. Maybe you'll live to be 120. You also stand just as much of a chance of dying before then and you might not have time to repent. Are you walking with Christ as your personal Savior or are you going through the motions thinking "one day I'll be saved?" Don't be like King Agrippa in the Bible telling Paul to come back at a more convenient time. We never find that King Agrippa found that "more convenient time." Today is the day of salvation; accept Christ as your Savior while there's still breath in your body. He loved you enough to give His life for you; won't you give Him yours in return?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So much to be thankful for

Hank Williams: Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine

Travelin' down a lonely highway
I knew not where the road would end
Not a penny in my pocket
All alone without a friend

In a little country village
I met a man and he was blind
As I helped him cross the highway
Oh Lord, I cried his burdens are greater than mine
I can see the light of day, I need not feel my way
Yes, his burdens are greater than mine

Met a lad while on my travel
Tryin' hard to play the game
Though his leg was very crippled
And he could not speak his name
Yet, he smiled in understandin'
Though life to him had been unkind
And as I watched, I cried in sorrow
Oh Lord, I see his burdens are greater than mine
I can speak my name aloud, make my way among the crowd
Yes, his burdens are greater than mine

Just by chance I passed a graveyard
I saw a young man kneelin' there
In his hands, there were some roses
On his lips, there was a prayer
On a stone, these words were written
"Your soul is God's, your memory mine"
And as I watched, I cried in sorrow
Oh Lord, I see his burdens are greater than mine

One of my all time favorite songs by Hank Williams, one he never recorded commercially. The haunting voice of Hank makes this all that much better of a song. Hank apparently liked this song even though he never did an official recording of it for release but he did versions for The Johnny Fair Syrup Show, The Mother's Best Shows and The Health and Happiness Shows; MGM thought enough of the Johnny Fair version to release it as a single after Hank's death. This song would have been perfect for his nom de plume, Luke the Drifter. However, I didn't come here to tout the music of my favorite singer but rather to make an observation.

I can be a complainer as we all can be. I wish it would quit raining. I wish it wasn't so hot. On and on the list goes. We get so busy with seeing all the negative things we can't see the positives. We get so wrapped in our little bit of problems that we can't see the rainbow that's in the sky after the rain. We focus on the fact we got rained on! Hey, KFC didn't have any chicken livers on the buffet.....I must complain to the manager about such a travesty! It might be easier to find what we DO NOT complain about!

I think this song sums it up so well. Traveling down a lonely highway, flat busted broke, no clue where the end of the road was and not even one friend to complain to about his miserable lot in life! I can imagine even that our fictional character was hitchhiking down the road. We could go all that much further and play a scenario that he was so broke he couldn't buy gas for his car and had ran out a few miles back. This would truly be a Hee Haw moment of "gloom, despair and agony on me." No one could dare blame our fictional wanderer if he felt a twinge of self-pity. I mean, wouldn't we feel the same way? None of us would be displaying much sunshine if our parade got rained on as much as Hank's character did, would we?

Something happened to Hank's fictional character in this song. He found out that there were others who had it much worse than he did. He realized in reality he had it pretty doggone easy compared to these three people he met along the way. He ran into two physically challenged people, one with a leg problem that couldn't even speak and the other blind. Hank's character had full use of his body. Though the road was long and seemingly unending he could at least walk it and enjoy the beauty of the nature around him. He didn't have to have someone lead him along or someone push him along in a wheelchair. He could speak out loud when he needed something unlike one of the people he met.

Finally he passed a graveyard. If a graveyard doesn't put things into perspective for you there isn't much that will I'm afraid. It wasn't just any graveyard though. A young man was kneeling there beside a new dug grave. Do you get that? A young man! Not an elderly couple who had spent many years together and lived a full life. No. What a tragedy we're seeing portrayed in front of us with this song. Our character now realizes just how good he has it and is probably feeling ashamed of how miserable he was feeling earlier.

I said all of that to offer up the thought that we're the same way. We gripe and we complain. When you're feeling down and out instead of feeling sorry for yourself, think about those that have it much worse than you. Perhaps go volunteer to help others such as the homeless or the elderly and you'll see how good you actually have it. 

Do you believe what you believe?

Do you believe what you believe? Well, do you? Okay, it sounds like a silly question, doesn't it? If you "believe" it, why wouldn't you "believe" it? Lol! This question was posed in Bible Study tonight at church. Out of one simple question came a great study. I suppose the better way to phrase it might be to ask "do you believe what you say you believe" but the phrasing of the question is an attention getter.

As Christians, we're apt to say "oh, sure, I believe that." We SAY we believe that God can do miracles but do we REALLY believe that? When the rubber meets the road, what do we do?

God promised He would supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Phillipians 4:19:

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (New Living Translation)

We as Christians can proclaim that verse all day long. Some people do take it to heart and can truly step out in faith and believe God will do that which they need. What happens when that unexpected bill hits? When the weather is exceptionally cold for days on end and a water pipe bursts AND we get one of the most expensive electric bills we've ever seen, what happens then? Do we worry and fret or do we trust God in faith that He has it under control?

Matthew 10:29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (New Living Translation)

I've heard it said that God has never been found guilty of child neglect. While a cutesy saying, it is true. God promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He will take care of our needs. But do we believe that? Do we leave the situation in God's hands or do we sweat and fume?

We can short circuit God's blessings for our lives because of our unbelief. If we walk around all day long with our head held low and doubt that God will do what He said He would do, how can we expect His blessings?

Mark 6:5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. (New Living Translation)

What a sad commentary right there. Jesus was among them, the very One who was not only willing but capable of doing mighty miracles. Because of their unbelief He was unable to perform miracles, something He generously wanted to give them. We shake our heads in disbelief at these people and think it's a terrible thing that they missed out on but.....what about us? How do we react?

When you pray, do you trust God will do what you've asked? Now I don't mean we should go asking for a million dollars or a new car but if we've asked according to His will, how do we react? Do we go away with confidence in God or do we shrug our shoulders and say "well, it was worth a try?"

We live in a microwave society where everything is at an instant. If we want a pot pie, we pop it in the microwave for 4 minutes and it's done. If I want to watch a favorite show, I no longer have to wait for a TV station to run it but I pop in a DVD or cue it up on Netflix or YouTube. We expect God to work on that schedule and He doesn't! God's timing is not our timing but we think it should be. When God delays answering our prayer, how do we react? Do we continue to trust in Him or do we decide to do our own thing? Do we quietly trust Him to do what He promised or do we start balling and squalling like a spoiled 3 year old who didn't get his/her way?

Abraham got caught in that very situation. God promised him a son in his old age. When things didn't go exactly on the timetable that Abraham and Sarah felt it should, Abraham tried his own thing instead of waiting on God. This caused distress for not only Abraham but also Ishmael and Hagar as well as Sarah. Had Abraham stayed the course and waited on the promised son a lot of heartache would have been avoided.

It's easy to pick on Abraham and point out what he did was wrong. We're all great at pointing out what went wrong after the fact, aren't we? What was Abraham thinking? How could he not trust God? Most assuredly we would have did it differently, right? We're superior to ole Abraham and would've did it differently! Oh, yeah, that's just how it is! Sure and I have ocean front property to sell you here in Steele, MO. How many of us have accepted that new job or entered into that relationship we knew wasn't "right" all because God was taking too long and we began to doubt He was going to do it? Admit it, we've all did it at one point or another in our lives.

So, do you believe what you say you believe or are you just talking the talk? Take time out with God today and see if you're walking the walk or just talking the talk. I would love to link you to a great Bill Gaither song called "I Believe It" that was on one of his early albums (back when it was The Bill Gaither Trio) but YouTube doesn't seem to have it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

False prophets and "touching God's anointed"

I suppose anyone who knows me well knows I hold strong opinions on things; I wasn't voted "most opinionated" in high school for no reason! I've learned to tone it down over the years and be a little more moderate. Sometimes things just get to be such a burr in the butt that I have to speak! False prophets are one thing that can get me worked up as you'll see from other posts I've made.

I had a spirited discussion on Facebook about Joel Osteen yesterday. I realize he's a pretty popular guy in the world of Christendom today and you're opening up a hornets nest to speak ill of him with some folks. You have some who'll tell you "oh, you shouldn't call out a fellow Christian" or "hey, we need someone positive in the church today." My comments were removed from the discussion because I outright called Joel Osteen a false prophet and I had one person telling me I really "needed to be careful" and not call names. Perhaps I went too far in name calling but exactly what do you call someone who teaches a feel good message that doesn't line up with the Bible?

How far have we come? I think we've regressed when we can't call a spade a spade without someone saying we're name calling! Here's a man who went on CNN and had an awesome opportunity to witness to the world about the Christian faith. Instead he loused it up by saying he just couldn't say whether or not Christ was the only way to Heaven. Look, yes, I know Peter denied Jesus three times under pressure. Peter repented of his actions and became a mighty soul winner. Mr. Osteen seems more concerned with being a cheerleader and telling people God wants them to have the prime parking spot at the grocery store. You can have "your best life now" according to Mr. Osteen. Somehow that doesn't jive with Jesus saying we'd have persecution and troubles in the world. 

What I really get bugged by is this whole "touch not my anointed" thing. People are walking around in fear of DARING to say something a preacher is saying is wrong and seem afraid to think for themselves. In Acts 17 we find the Bereans searching the Scripture to see if what Paul is saying was true. A true man of God shouldn't be having to scare people with this "touch not mine anointed" line. My pastor has said many times before not to take his word for it but to look it up because we should know Scripture ourselves.

We find the New Testament replete with references to Christ and the New Testament saints not afraid to speak the truth about religious wrongs being practiced.

In Matthew 3:7, John the Baptist had this to say: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming? (Amplified)

In Jude, we find the following:

10 But these men revile (scoff and sneer at) anything they do not happen to be acquainted with and do not understand; and whatever they do understand physically [that which they know by mere instinct], like irrational beasts--by these they corrupt themselves and are destroyed (perish).
11 Woe to them! For they have run riotously in the way of Cain, and have abandoned themselves for the sake of gain [it offers them, following] the error of Balaam, and have perished in rebellion [like that] of Korah!
12 These are hidden reefs (elements of danger) in your love feasts, where they boldly feast sumptuously [carousing together in your midst], without scruples providing for themselves [alone]. They are clouds without water, swept along by the winds; trees, without fruit at the late autumn gathering time--twice (doubly) dead, [lifeless and] plucked up by the roots;
13 Wild waves of the sea, flinging up the foam of their own shame and disgrace; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of eternal darkness has been reserved forever. (Amplified)

In Acts the 8th chapter, we find Peter rebuking Simon the Sorcerer for his wishing to purchase the ability to the gift of the Spirit: 

17 Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 However, when Simon saw that the [Holy] Spirit was imparted through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he brought money and offered it to them,
19 Saying, Grant me also this power and authority, in order that anyone on whom I place my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.
20 But Peter said to him, Destruction overtake your money and you, because you imagined you could obtain the [free] gift of God with money!
21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is all wrong in God's sight [it is not straightforward or right or true before God].
22 So repent of this depravity and wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this contriving thought and purpose of your heart may be removed and disregarded and forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in a bond forged by iniquity [to fetter souls]. (Amplified)

Peter didn't say he'd pray for him or wish him well; he got straight to the point!

Folks, God is not going to cut you down for calling wrong "wrong." As Christians we have a responsibility to point out those who are in error with their teachings. I'm not talking about doctrinal differences but I'm talking about outright error and falsehood. Even the Bible gives us instructions on what to do with a brother or sister who is "overtaken in a fault." Spiritual lives and eternity is on the line!