The one room in your house no one else knows about

“I’ve got a secret!”  –Popular television game show of the 1960s and 1970s.

Recently, a man I know wrote of the secrets his family was harboring as they struggled to deal with an addictive, out-of-control relative.

“You know how the family gets ready to host a guest and the house is clean and in order and nothing out of place?  The guest is impressed.  He wishes his house could be this neat and organized with nothing out of place.”

“But what he doesn’t know is that there is one room where you have stored all the junk and clutter.  If he were to open the door to that room, he would be amazed.”

That, he said, is how things are for a family that tries to keep up an image when they are about to come apart.

They push things back into that private room, whose door they dare not open.

It’s about family secrets.

Everyone has them, he said.

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How to recognize God’s voice

“The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice” (John 10:4).

The problem, says a friend, is that the voice of the Lord sounds a lot like me.

Maybe for him.  Not for me.

In speaking to my heart, God has a tendency to say things I never thought of, revealing insights new to me, calling me to tasks outside my comfort zone. Not once has He asked if i would “like” to do something or “find something convenient.”. He commands; I obey. It’s what servants do. His way is hardly the obvious, rarely the easiest and never the smoothest, but always the wisest and smartest. My constant prayer is “Not my will but Thine be done.”

I wrote that on Facebook last night. Then, this morning while doing my pre-dawn walk, the Lord kept it on my mind.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. The way to tell that the voice you are hearing in your spirit is the Lord and not yourself involves the following…

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10 questions for those who reject “Once Saved, Forever Safe.”

(I send this forth in all sincerity and with the kindness of Christ. If you disagree, please respond graciously also. Let’s see if Godly people can have a serious and Christ-honoring discussion about this hotly debated subject.  Thank you.)

Let me set the table with something the Lord Jesus said.  When the disciples returned from preaching with glowing reports of amazing victories over the devil, our Lord called them back to earth, so to speak, with this:

“Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you. But rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

See what He did there?  The Lord changed the basis of their joy and thanksgiving from something that fluctuates–like the visible results of missions, which can be good or bad, up and down–to something permanent, our salvation.

Jesus thought our salvation was secure. Otherwise, wouldn’t He have chosen some other basis for our joy?

No other conclusion is possible. Jesus clearly thought salvation was a one-time-and-done proposition. Something permanent, solid, irreversible.

As far as I am able to tell, you will not find one place in the utterances of the Lord Jesus that say otherwise.

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“Don’t draw my wrinkles!”

I’ll be sketching a long line of people at a church dinner or community party, and in the course of an hour or two will hear it a dozen times.

“Don’t draw my wrinkles.”

Usually I laugh it off.  “You don’t have any wrinkles.”  Or I tease that “I take the wrinkles from the women and give them to the men.”

Sometimes I say, “Hey, they don’t call me ‘Botox Joe’ for nothing!”

Why do people hate facial wrinkles so much?

Some child called them “crinkles.”

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Tell anxiety to “Get back in your hole!”

A friend once wrote a book titled “Down with Anxiety.”  The contents were excellent and the suggestions were helpful, but I teased him that the title was a real downer!

Scripture has two primary texts dealing with anxiety, that I know of.  Doubtless there are many others, but these two have meant a great deal to me, personally…..

First, the lesser known of the two…

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:7).

That’s self-talk.  And it comes highly recommended.

The Psalmist knows about anxiety.  He is saying: “Get back down there, anxiety!  Go back to bed!  Quit worrying!  You’ve been blessed far more than you deserve.  So, how about being strong and stopping this needless worrying.”

Anxiety, they say, is worry in search of a reason. Or perhaps, fear in search of a cause.

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My one question to the Ashley Madison registrants

“What things were gain to me, those I have counted loss for Christ…. all things loss…. count them as rubbish….” (Philippians 3:7-8)

Rubbish may not be the best translation of skybala, a word found only this one time in the New Testament.  Various scholars make it “refuse, rubbish, leavings, and dung.”

Dung. Get it?  Our culture has stronger names for this. (Someone asked Bess Truman about Harry’s use of the word manure.  “Can’t you get him to say something instead of ‘manure’?”  She said, “You don’t know how long it took me to get him to say ‘manure’!”)

Skybala is manure. Dung. Human refuse. Okay….

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When God’s people do not live in the word, many things happen. All of them bad.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

The Lord never intended for His Word to collect dust on a table in your back bedroom.

People paid for your right to own a Bible in your own language with their very lives.

What are you doing about that?

Christians who own numerous Bibles which they rarely open are thumbing their noses at the saints of old who paid the ultimate price.

This hard-won treasure lies buried under the dust and detritus of your life.

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Your weakness is no problem

“He helps us in our weakness….” (Romans 8:26)

I can hear him now: “O Lord, I am so weak.  I am so pitiful, Lord.  How you can ever use a nothing like me is beyond me, Lord. I’m so ignorant, so fearful, such a sinner.”

I was soon tired of his praying and all I was doing was listening.  I wondered how the Lord felt about it.

I think I know.

He takes it in stride.  He knew from the beginning who we were. Nothing about us surprises Him.

God’s word says, “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

We keep getting surprised on discovering it.

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Nothing for me, thanks

At the end of a long day of touring the big city, the country boy is said to have knelt by his bed and prayed, “Lord, we saw a lot of things today. But I thank you I didn’t see a thing I want.”

“The ruler of this world is coming, and He has nothing in Me” (John 14:30).

Toward the end of His earthly ministry when our Lord was preparing the disciples for the difficult days ahead, throughout this Upper Room Discourse (John chapters 13-16), Jesus assured them He would not be leaving them as orphans. The Holy Spirit would be arriving in full force to supply everything they would be needing.

They should expect difficult days, He said. And make no mistake, He says, the devil is coming, too.  (Perhaps He spotted that fallen angel peeping up from a garbage can somewhere.)

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When we backslide, a dozen things happen, all of them bad

“The way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15)  

What started this was a note from a fellow who took issue with something I said about the church.  He had no use for the church, he said. Every church he’d ever attended preached a shallow message, the sermons were mind-numbingly boring, and the people were dull and listless.  After venting, he wondered if I’d be interested in some essays he’d written about the church.  I declined.

In our exchange, I said, “Could I tell you something that happened to me?  IEven though ‘ve been preaching for over half a century, at least twice during that time, I have gotten out of fellowship with the Lord.  What we call “backsliding.”

And when that happened, I noticed something surprising.  I became negative about my fellow church members and critical of the other ministers.  Then, when I humbled myself and repented, I saw them in a new light and found myself loving them. That was a fascinating thing to learn.

This was as gentle a way as I could find to tell the man that my money is on his being in rebellion against God. In his backslidden state, he is down on the Lord’s people.

Backsliding.  Interesting term, isn’t it?  It says what it is, and needs little explanation.

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