A Word to the Wise

John Henson:

Praise and tears: both are things the Lord values from us. This was posted by Ron Thomas.

Originally posted on etsop95:

The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy (Proverbs 14:10, NKJV). In his prayer of dedication, Solomon appealed to the Lord to hear the prayers of all who turn toward to newly built Temple, reflecting the affliction in the land and in the hearts of those plagued with sin (1 Kings 8:38, ESV). Who has no affliction of the heart on occasion? Perhaps there are more who struggle with this than others know, but certainly the Lord knows! Those who don’t struggle in the same way, be sure to pray for those who do. The heart of a person is where the very issues of life are stored (Proverbs 4:23). Those issues are both the joys and sorrows that all carry. When the joy is overwhelming, let us praise the Lord. When the sorrows are weighty, let us turn to the Lord, for only He can…

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How to be the Greatest

Traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem was an arduous six-to-eight-hour journey on a road that ascended 2,000 feet on a severe incline.

No doubt, Jesus and his disciples wanted to complete the trip before nightfall, so their desire was to get out of Jericho as quickly as possible so there would be no delay.

Being on the mountain in the early evening or night was a risk because bandits customarily hit behind the rocks on the road to Jerusalem and struck unsuspecting travelers.

Because the danger was real, people liked to travel in groups on this road. With Jesus and the twelve were many others. The Bible tells us, “a large crowd followed him,” (Matthew 20:29 NASB).

Just when Jesus and the disciples were gaining speed, two blind men approached them and begged for help (Matthew 20:29-34). The crowd attempted to dismiss the men, but Jesus stopped and called to them.

This was so characteristic of Jesus, wasn’t it? So often when Jesus was going somewhere or talking to someone, sick people would interrupt him or pull at his clothes for attention. Jesus always knew the needs of people and never postponed or avoided them. He healed these two.

It is so fitting a lesson for us to see Jesus’ example here. Even more, he puts into practice something he taught a little earlier in the chapter.

The mother of James and John came to Jesus and asked the Lord to give her sons prominent seats of power in the kingdom. Then, in what must have been a surprising statement, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:25-28 NASB).

Jesus taught that to be great in the kingdom meant to be the servant of all. He demonstrated this principle in restoring the sight of two men who were among the lowest of “polite society.”

The well-known and very vocal Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) once cried around the world, “I am the greatest!” There are many who would like to say that concerning their line of work, their ability in relationships or even their knowledge of the Bible. It’s great to be great, but it’s not the thing in which Christians should concern themselves.

The lesson Jesus taught is the one that should be remembered. We sometimes miss this lesson today. Some seek to become great because they believe success in the world is the universally most attractive aspect of life.

If we would be like Jesus, though, we must become the servant of all — not the greatest.

Why Ray Rice and the NFL Were Wrong

NFL-arrests600Early on, it seemed the National Football League was surprised when people decried its actions suspending Ray Rice for only two games for knocking his fiancé unconscious in an elevator.

What the NFL failed to realize was Rice’s behavior was wrong. What they failed to realize is there is a right way and there is a wrong way and Rice was wrong to do what he did. He had violated God’s law and man’s. The NFL should have realized that and should have done something more about it.

What’s happened in our world is that people have accepted the notion of humanism that there really isn’t any such thing as objective and moral wrong. Many people have come to believe that doing that which is objectively and morally wrong may not actually BE wrong under certain circumstances.

Nonsensical, isn’t it? Yet, it’s true. It never occurred to Rice that he had a responsibility to control himself and keep his hands to himself. He knows that now, but not thanks to the NFL. He now knows he was wrong because of the millions of voices speaking out told him that.

He should have known that from the scriptures. Remember the “greatest commandment?” Jesus said it was “The foremost is, ‘Hear, oh, Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, and with all your soul and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:29-31 NASB).

If I love my neighbor as I love myself, if I love my wife or fiancé as myself, I will NOT knock her unconscious. PERIOD.

If Rice and the NFL are wrong of anything, they are wrong because they ignored what is right and wrong according to the scriptures.

Value from a brief vacation

Our vacation was brief this year. The prices for gas and lodging were not conducive for long stays. Although our vacation was short, the time off was a great benefit for two reasons.

First, I enjoyed the sermons I heard during our vacation. It is good for preachers to sit and listen to faithful gospel preaching at every possible opportunity. Preachers need to be taught just as much as anyone else. There is a certain danger in a gospel preacher always talking and never listening to anyone else.

Second, I benefited from being from my great wife, Judy. I enjoyed eating three-meals-a-day with her again. Vacation gave us a chance to do what she wanted to do and I found myself happy to go along. We chatted through meals, we talked in the car, and we sat by the pool and talked. I think we reconnected in a very positive way.

Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather, try to become a man of value.” I think this vacation helped me to become a man of value to the church and to my wife. For that, I am thankful to a kind and loving God.

Just a Mistake

This week, the National Football League decided to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for punching his fiancé and knocking her unconscious.

While Rice’s action was illegal and terrible, the reaction of his coach, John Harbaugh, is worthy of our notice. Thursday, Harbaugh told reporters Rice was a “nice guy” who has done everything right since the event. “He makes a mistake, alright?” the coach said.

The coach views assault not as a violation of the law and a moral wrong. He sees it as a mistake, like 3+3=7 is a mistake. Oops. He knocked out his fiancé and dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator. According to Harbaugh, that’s a mistake. It’s not a moral wrong. Not a question of bad morals or of inappropriate behavior by Rice at all. It’s just a mistake.

According to the coach, finding Rice responsible for wrong doing is, as he put it, “There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray.” Evidently, for Rice the consequences for something that would have landed you and me in jail with a trip before a judge is just a “mistake,” and the consequences are just a “process.”

All of this proves how much the world wants to minimize sin and its true consequences. What happens when sin is minimized and dismissed?

More sin is committed. When people dismiss the serious nature of sin, any sin, then more sin is committed. The Jews during the divided kingdom hid behind what they thought was the protection of Egypt so they could continue to sin (Isaiah 30:1-2). They had long ago taught themselves to minimize their sins so they could continue. The same thing is happening in this country now that people are learning that minimizing sin makes it easy to live in it.

The truth is obfuscated. When sin is minimized and dismissed, the laws of the Bible regarding transgression is obscured and muddled. All Coach Harbaugh had done was repeat humanistic doctrine. What Rice had done was not sin; it was a mistake. God does not minimize sin. “Though your sins be as scarlet,” the prophet wrote, (Isaiah 1:18). There is no mistaking the color red. Sins can’t be diminished. The truth cannot be obfuscated. The apostle Paul wrote, “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile,” (Romans 2:8-9).

Men learn to call evil good. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 KJV). What Rice did was simply a mistake. Someone wrote a comment on the news story on NBC.com that said, “Come on, people. Rice’s fiancé has already apologized for letting her face get in the way of Rice’s fist.” That absurdity is, oddly enough, a good explanation for the way people often learn to call evil good.

There is only one solution for the humanistic, simplistic, and senseless way people view sin. Repent of it. Get rid of it. Let the word of God fill your heart and mind and see the truth as it really is: it is the word of God!

What to Do

I don’t know about you, but is it becoming more common to find people who are more than willing to determine how people are going to think, which political decisions to make, what opinions to have, etc.?

Almost every day, somebody wants to tell me what to do. There is someone who tells me that I need to think more conservatively, or more liberally. There is someone who tells me what I should read, view on television. They are willing to shove their nose in my business and demand to know for whom I voted.

Just the other day, there was this one guy who said I couldn’t teach what Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

So, here’s what I intend to do with some of these people: I’m going to ignore them. I’m going to do what Jesus said, live the way he said, and remain faithful as he said my whole life. As for these other people who are so intently interested in making me think their way: forget it!


Great Day

Today has been so rewarding. But, of course, every Sunday… every opportunity I’ve had to preach or teach the gospel since 1988 has been rewarding. It’s just today, well, today we had three responses in two services.

It’s really interesting because even though it’s been a very humbling day: the power of God’s word is responsible for every response visible or invisible. But what happened was so attributed to the word, and not anything I did. In fact, my preaching was probably some of the most subdued I’ve ever done.

The young man who came for baptism this morning I had never met, but several people in the church had known him, prayed for him and were so happy when they saw him step out into the aisle. Evidently, some of our folks had known his need to obey the gospel and were rejoicing that he came.

The other young man who was baptized tonight walked up to one of our members last week and talked with him for some time. I had never met him, either. The Christian man who talked to him had several things in common with the young man and asked him to come to services. His choice to obey the gospel was unexpected from our vantage, but he knew it was time to surrender his life to God.

It’s humbling to see the providence of God working in humans. Sure, I’d like to take credit for what happened, but I can’t. The Lord God has been working providentially in the hearts of honest men. They chose to obey God. That was it.

I’m just thankful I was an instrument used to help these two complete their obedience. May God give me time and life so I can help them become his sons with powerful faith in their hearts.