“You do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
“Of what use is this?”
What fruit will this bear for the Kingdom of God?
We never know.
It’s the question we should never ask. First, we’ll not get an answer until we get to Heaven. And second, to insist on knowing what God will do with our effort, our gift, our witness, before we act is to remove all faith from it. And without faith, pleasing God is impossible (Hebrews 11:6).
You drop your offering into the plate at church. There it goes. Where it will end up, what it will accomplish, God alone knows. Your church has a budget, you know how the money will be added together and which causes it will fund. But your particular gift, you have no way of telling.
You’re distributing flyers for your church. Some, you know, will end up in the garbage. Some will never be read. But what if one or two become instruments for the Holy Spirit and someone’s life is forever changed? Wouldn’t that be worth all the effort?
Romance comes in all shapes and sizes.
Love does what it wishes and will not be confined to our formulae nor our fences.
The Hollywood slander is that only the young and beautiful fall in love, that somehow the plain and the aged are outside the bounds of this most wonderful experience in life. It’s a lie, of course, as is so much of what Hollywood peddles.
I’ve just finished David McCullough’s account of the settling of Ohio when it was the “far west” in the American experience. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West is a slow read, one I had to make myself stay with. Scattered throughout the story, however, were delightful episodes, worth the effort of reading the book.
Ephraim Cutler (1767-1853), one of the earliest settlers and a champion for a hundred reasons, was widowed at the age of 40. The death of his wife left him with four small children. Interestingly, however, before her death, Leah chose Ephraim’s next wife. We will let McCullough tell the story…
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him…. And he questioned Him with many words…. (Luke 23:8-9).
Someone asked Larry King, the legendary television interviewer, if he could sit across the table and interview one person in all of history, who would it be. “Jesus Christ,” said this man who is Jewish.
“And what would you ask him?”
“I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”
To be sure. That answer could change everything. As it has for many a person.
So with the resurrection. Answer that in the affirmative and everything else falls into place.
In today’s Clarion-Ledger, CNN news analyst Kirsten Powers has a column titled “‘Fetal heartbeat’ laws will hurt women.” In her rambling, pro-abortion attempt to claim the moral high ground–which is simply impossible–she says:
Recently, I followed the outrage over a New York abortion law, which conservatives claim allows abortion even as the woman is giving birth…. Many defenders of he redundant ‘Born Alive’ act claim that if even one baby is not provided medical care after surviving an abortion, it is reason enough for the law. But when it comes to far more American children being murdered by guns, many of the same people provide only ‘thoughts and prayers,’ not legislation. I’m struggling to see the moral consistency here.
Yes, it’s clear to see that Ms. Powers does have trouble identifying moral consistency. If she did, she would see that to support abortion on demand (aka, the right to kill the unborn) and to want to protect children in schools is as morally inconsistent as it’s possible to get. Okay to murder them before they’re born, but not afterwards.
Btw, she makes the mistake of thinking because someone is prolife, they are against all gun control. Fully half the Christian conservatives I know while supporting tough anti-abortion legislation also want tighter gun control laws. You don’t hear them because the Second Amendment and NRA advocates suck all the air out of the room and frequently shame those who try to be the voice of sanity here.
Personally, I resent our Clarion-Ledger presenting such a skewed and unworthy column.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
My preacher friend was rendering his opinion on a certain large church with which we are both familiar.
“The people are like the fans of (a certain college football team). Individually, great people. Salt of the earth. But put them all together, and they are horrible. Prideful, boasting, irritating.”
That’s an analysis I’ve not been able to shrug off. If it’s true–and I’m in no position to judge–it’s a devastating assessment.
The Ascended Christ said to the church at Laodicea, “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing–but you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
The reality is often far different from what we want to believe, from what we aspire to, from what we advertise.
Dare we ask the Heavenly Father to tell us the truth about our own church?
Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Bible teacher/pastor par excellence. (1929-2019)
Some years ago, when Dr. Wiersbe and I were swapping correspondence, I did him a cartoon which he put on his office wall. Now, most of the Bible study books he had published–one for every New Testament book and a lot of the Old–were part of the “Be” series. Be Real. Be Joyful. Be Faithful. His autobiography was titled “Be Myself.” So, my cartoon showed his tombstone. Under his name, it read: “Be Dead.”
At the time I thought it was funny, and he must have also. (That was at least 30 years ago, when you’re still young enough to joke about these matters. I hope someone has thrown that thing away.)
I’m not sure how or when I first heard of Dr. Wiersbe’s teachings on cassette tape. It would have been in the mid-1970s. I was serving the First Baptist Church of Columbus, MS and always searching for good resources for preaching material. His sermon tapes were a pure delight. Once I took a two-day retreat to a lake house and did nothing but listen to his tapes. At the time he was pastoring Moody Church in Chicago.
One day, sitting around talking with a couple of neighboring pastors, I was amused to hear one of them say, “I’ve found the most wonderful source of sermon material. I’m reluctant to mention it to anyone because I’m enjoying it so much.”
“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string….” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Emerson meant well. But boy, did he ever miss it by a country mile.
Your heart can do crazy things to your guidance system. Giving it free rein to set the direction of one’s life can be risky.
“Trust yourself” is good advice for some people in some situations. As a blanket rule for all people in all situations, no sir. Not even close.
The letter came from a minister of music in the next state.
I see that your church is looking for a minister of music/worship leader. I serve (name) church in (town, state) and am enclosing my resume. Not long ago as I was in your city, the Lord told me I was to become your next minister of music. I look forward to hearing from you.”
That hit me like some woman saying God told her she was to be my next wife.
(Sometimes when a church staff member comes across as unmotivated and directionless, it’s because no one has taken him/her under the wing to mentor them in how to be sharp and do their work well. We send this little piece forth to encourage staffers to seek out mentors and veteran pastors to become such.)
Sometimes a visiting preacher can tell the pastor something about a staff member he was too busy to notice.
We were hosting an evangelist friend for a weekend of meetings. That Saturday night, we had bought 20 huge pizzas for a hundred young people. After the meal, my friend would address them about their relationship with Christ. As they were eating and fellowshipping, the evangelist took me aside to point something out.
“Joe, look at your student minister.”
“In today’s service, we will be giving roses to the oldest mother and the youngest mother present.”
Ever done that, Pastor? I have.
Anything wrong with honoring motherhood in church? Absolutely not.
We might need to find new ways to do so, however.
I started pastoring in late 1962, not long after graduating from college. This means I led churches through the massive cultural shifts of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and down to 2004. I continue preaching at every opportunity, and am deeply involved in our churches. .
To say the ball game has changed forever would be the understatement of the year.
“If you love me….” (John 14:15)
We do love the Lord, right? We would love to express our love to Him in His own love-language, right?
We love Him because He first loved us, right? (That’s I John 4:19).
The question then is “How exactly do we express our love to Him?” With flowers and candy? With huge gifts? Quick prayers before bedtime? Maybe if I’m baptized and join the right church? Should I tithe? Should I read the Bible through? Go to Sunday School?
What does He want? What would make Jesus feel loved?
The Old Testament answer to the question…
The prophet Micah was wrestling with this very question when he asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord? And bow myself before the High God?”
That is to say, “What possible thing could I do on earth that would please God in Heaven?”