Is there a cure?


Looking for a cure for a dread disease? There may not be one.

Diabetes is an insidious disease that can kill silently. So can high blood pressure. Both are known as diseases that can kill before the victim even realizes what has happened. Heart disease can also be a silent killer. One may go for years and never suspect coronary arteries are closing until there is pain and death.

Physicians would like to cure diseases, but there is only so much they can do. Sometimes, all the doctors can do is treat the symptoms. To treat diabetes, they give drugs to lower blood sugar and encourage the patient to exercise. Treatment may help an afflicted person live longer, but, often, people stop the treatment and the disease continues its course. The same is true for heart disease, high blood pressure and a myriad of other types of illnesses.

The United States has a disease. The disease is spiritual; it is sin. This disease has always existed, but some people don’t like to think about it or find a treatment. Sin is a silent killer going undetected by the victim until spiritual death. But, with this spiritual disease, there is only one cure. One must change the heart and mind and conduct and obey God. As with physical disease, many people don’t like the prospect of the spiritual treatment.

That tdivorce-ratehis nation has departed from the living God is self-evident. A look at the conduct of its people is diagnostic. Millions are lost in sin in a nation with religious freedom. Divorce rates have been escalating since 1950 and, now, at least 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Why? It’s a symptom of spiritual disease.

Abortion, the murder of the unborn, has remained at about the same rate since the Roe vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973. Although politicians have promised to stop this premeditated murder, they have US-national-abortion-ratefailed. Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all promised to appoint Supreme Court justices that would throw out the 1973 decision. They all failed. Why? Because we are talking about a spiritual disease here.

There is only one thing that can stop the insidious disease of sin and the fruit that it bears, and that is obedience to the gospel. The apostle Paul lived in the days of the Roman Empire, the most corrupt and sinful system of government the world has ever known. Yet, Paul knew that if people repented and obeyed the gospel the world could change. It is impossible to read Paul’s letter to Philemon about the slave Onesimus and not see this. Changing people into obedient children of God makes us all brothers and sisters. Obedience changes our relation to God and each other, (Galatians 3:26-28).

This is the only cure for sin. The writer of Psalms wrote by the inspiration of God, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance,” (Psalm 33:12). He did not write that any nation whose God is its belly is blessed. He wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God IS the LORD.” The inspired psalmist did not write, “Blessed is the nation whose God WAS  the Lords, but isn’t now.” The United States hasn’t been a nation whose people are the Lords for a very long time. The evidence of this is incontrovertible.

If we want this nation to become one centered in obedience to the Lord, it won’t happen through the political process. Politics is a popularity contest. Politicians are elected to do what the greatest number of people want, and the greatest number of people in this country want to march on to eternity bound for condemnation. Why do you think we have the leaders we have? It’s because we wanted them.

This is not a new problem. Judah was led to accept the “lesser of two evils” called idolatry. They were simply hedging their bets. They didn’t believe God was helping them and they thought Baal might, so they capitulated. Who led the way? Judah’s politicians and leaders, that’s who. Isaiah wrote, “’Now therefore what have I here,’ declares the LORD, ‘seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their rulers wail,’ declares the LORD, ‘and continually all the day my name is despised’”, (Isaiah 52:5).

The disease of sin is insidious and the cure does not just treat the symptoms! The only change that can redirect this country is a spiritual one — obedience to the gospel and God’s commands — because nothing else will change it. Elect whomever you will, no politician has ever preached the truth of the gospel (which is the only way to become a nation of godly people), and they never will. Unless and until people obey the gospel and live obediently for God, there is no hope of changing it.

 

A hospital room conversation


After I awoke from a lowered level of consciousness that lasted about 40 days after a heart attack, I needed to have a little conversation with myself.

Now, there are many people who think talking to yourself may, at the least, seem a little one-sided. Okay. I admit God was a part of this conversation. It also involved a decision on my part.

The conversation started after our daughter, Cathy, went down to the hospital gift shop and bought me a Bible. Somehow, she knew just what I needed. I opened it to Psalm 107, a psalm that has a recurring theme. That theme is found in four of its verses: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men,” (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31).

God loves us so much that he spent thousands of years bringing about a solution to sin and death — something man himself brought into the world. When Adam and Eve fell by transgression, death entered and brought all kinds of diseases with it. Since death came, the mechanisms of death necessarily followed.

This was not something God wanted. It was something God wanted man to avoid and so he told him not to eat of a specific tree (Genesis 2:9; 3:2-3). Adam and Eve ignored God’s warning and his command and death entered into the world.

You see, it was not God’s fault that I suffered a heart attack and almost died. In many ways I contributed to what happened because of my lifestyle choices. I had not watched my weight and had not exercised even though I had bypass surgery 12 years before that New Year’s Eve.

So, I’m partly to blame and the consequences of sin are too. Since sin entered the world, death was the consequence. True, God appoints man to die (Hebrews 9:27), but the mechanism of action is not God’s doing.

Here’s proof of that. The apostle Paul wrote that by man death came (1 Corinthians 15:21) and then he wrote that death is the enemy of Christ, the last enemy to fall at the end of the world (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). Accusing God of making me sick is absurd because death is not his weapon. It belongs exclusively to Satan.

God has done everything he can to abolish the consequences of sin and death by giving us his son to bleed and die in our stead for our sins (Galatians 3:10-14). The conversation I had with myself was necessary to help me understand that.

It was necessary for me to admit this was not God’s fault. King David told me why I needed to admit this when he wrote, “…so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment,” (Psalm 51:4 ESV).

Because of that conversation late at night in a hospital room with myself, my tears could flow in thanksgiving to what God had done. By his grace and mercy he brought me back from the brink of death and had given me an opportunity to fill my life with purpose and thanksgiving just as Psalm 107 taught me. “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

 

 

Thanksgiving in July


woke upMost people would tell me to wait until November to be thankful. I can’t. Here lately, I’ve been thinking of all the things I’m thankful for and wanted to share. Please be advised: this is not a complete list.

I’m thankful for my wife. Judy is a wonderful wife and mother. She works very hard inside and outside the home. There are so many of her qualities I want to emulate. One of them is when she makes a commitment, she fulfills it. I have trouble with that sometimes. She has saved my life and saved my soul. She was the one who sat at my bedside every day for more than 30 days when I was in the hospital. Thank you, Lord, for giving her to me.

I’m thankful for my children. I have three of the best kids any man could ever have. Christy, Cathy and Scott have been my pride and joy my entire life. They have always exceeded my expectations. When I die, I will be happy knowing there are three human beings in the world who are making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you, Lord, for giving them to me. I know it must have been difficult sometimes for them to grow up in a house that often didn’t have a father, but thank you for allowing me to have corrected some of that.

I’m thankful for my friends. In January and February of this year (and even up until now) there were so many people who were praying for me. There were people in Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina. Just recently I found out there were people in the Philippines, in Russia and in Brazil who were praying. My wife had people she never met come up to her and give her money. Lord, I’m so thankful for all my friends everywhere.

Last, but not least or all, I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have prayed for me, cried tears of sorrow during my illness and tears of joy when I recovered by the grace of God.

There is a verse in Daniel chapter nine that I’ve loved especially during the last six months. While praying to God, a heartbroken Daniel wrote, “For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy,” (Daniel 9:18b ESV).  God’s great mercy is why I’m so thankful. I don’t deserve another chance, but God has given me one. Join me in thanking him for his mercy and grace.

He gave me a hill


The Lord gave me a hill.

A little more than a year-and-a-half ago, we moved back to Tennessee from Michigan. We were selected to work with a small, country church and live in a house in what is known locally as a sink between a state highway and the church building.

This sink is a low place between the highway and the church, both of which are several feet higher in elevation than the house.

When we moved here, we had no idea at all of the purpose behind our move outside of our own desire to be closer to our grandchildren. We were young and foolish. It turned out there was a purpose we did not reckon or even think about.

Just after dark on New Year’s Eve 2015, we were returning from a fellowship dinner at the church when I had a heart attack. Much of the next 40 days were wiped from my memory. My heart stopped while I was having a coronary arteriogram and as a result, I lost short-term memory. I finally regained consciousness around February 10, 2016. I’m blessed to have a photo of the moment made by my daughter.

My subsequent recovery went well, but slowly. At first, I could only walk with a “walker,” a cage of aluminum that had two wheels. I fell twice and found that, like the woman in the commercials, I couldn’t get up. Home rehabilitation helped me improve, but it took a four-month-long course of cardiac rehab to get me back on my feet.

Outside, there was a hill that was going to play a significant role for me. The first time I tried walking the hill, it was close to agony. As I continued, it became easier. It turned out I enjoyed walking uphill and in the church’s parking lot. Then, one day while I was walking up the hill and in the parking lot I had a sort of epiphany.

God knew I would get sick and that I would need a place to walk and regain my strength. So, through his providence he gave me the hill and a parking lot in which to walk. So, when I’m not walking at the wellness center at the hospital, I’m walking up the hill and in the parking lot four days per week.

People all too often criticize God for not acting in their lives when the reverse is true. He’s doing all kinds of things for all kinds of people. Like me, they sometimes don’t see God’s providence until after they realize it.

But, I know the truth about the active, living providence of God. I know because God gave me a hill. When Jesus said,  “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20 ESV), he meant it.

Antinomianism


Many people are asking the question, “How did we get to a society in which people believe they have the right to indiscriminately kill?

This nation has been headed to lawlessness for a long time, and some religious theories have not helped.

Antinomianism is a long word that means, “against law.” It comes to us from the Greek and two Latin: “anti,” meaning “against” and “nomos,” meaning “law.” Antinomianism is where our nation is going. The recent murders of police officers are against the law.

Lawlessness escalated in the 1960s and 1970s with “civil disobedience,” a doctrine widely received as an accepted way to change things. Civil disobedience in violation of the law, however, is antinomianism. These violent demonstrations are now accepted behavior, but violence in any form is against the moral law.

Killing is against God’s law. Law-abiding people do not go around killing others.

There is a similar form of antinomianism. Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as: “One who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.”[1]

The influence of this false doctrine has had an effect. For years, denominations have taught that salvation is by grace alone or faith alone. Webster rightly defines this is as antinomianism. It is against the law of God. Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Any teaching that leads to lawlessness in any form is wrong.

This nation has not arrived at the disgrace we have seen on our television screens overnight. It has come about by a steady diet of evil teachings that have led many astray. Even now, there are those who call evil, good and good, evil (Isaiah 5:20). Unless and until this nation returns to the law of God as written in the New Testament, the United States will continue to slide into chaos.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antinomian

What a piece of work


What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god!”  William Shakespeare, “Hamlet,” Act 2 Scene 2.

Not a word or a phrase of the above is true. Man is not infinite. Man is not righteous and not perfect. Man is not sinless or faultless. Man is not worthy of adulation.

Yet, it is puzzling that when men meet they sometimes engage in the worship of one another. Man was never the measure until men start taking measure of each other. Then, individual men were singled out and raised to a lofty perch. Some of them might say, “I would never allow anyone to place me on a pedestal and adore me!” Perhaps not if an actual throne was to be used, but there are some who will allow others to elevate them if, maybe, just a little.

In two places in Revelation 19:10 and Revelation 22:9, John fell at the feet of an angel and was rebuked. The angel said in both instances, “Do not do that.” If it was inappropriate to worship an angel, and if John was instructed to worship God, then who are we to worship men? Who are we to place men on an elevated platform and pay homage to them?

James wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment,” (James 3:1 NASB). Why? Because the responsibility of a teacher is greater. The teacher steps out in front of his brethren and asks them to respect his word. If that teaching is from the word of God, then it is God who is put forward in his word. If that teaching is the word of men, then a man is thrust out in front and potentially glorified.

Our ‘Charlie Sierra’


In the military, the term “Charlie Sierra” is an acronym for “current situation.”

There has been a great deal of discussion, one way or another, as to the direction of the United States. These comments come from different sides of the political spectrum and much has been written by our own brothers and sisters in Christ.

There have been posts written by many, including your writer, that list the things our president and government have done incorrectly. Many of those complaints are valid.

Some have also expressed the feeling of being troubled over the direction of our nation.  That is understandable. It is evident there is much to be concerned about. But, before our alarm escalates into worry we need to step back and remember a few things to keep our “Charlie Sierra” from overwhelming us.

We have the assurance from God and our Savior that we will never have to face anything alone. Jesus said, “I am with your always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20 NASB). Since God our Savior is with us, there is no reason to worry and become distraught over any of the things of this life. God in Christ has said, “I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you so that we may confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). So, we should not worry. In fact, there is holy writ that commands we must not worry (Matthew 6:25, 31; 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:22).

There is something else we should keep in mind concerning our “Charlie Sierra.” The world will get worse. Friends, we’re not living in paradise here. We’re living in a world that is in bondage to sin. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Timothy 3:13). The term, “from bad to worse,” means literally “evil men and impostors will drive forward toward more evil.” This is what Christians can count on from the world. At this point, at least, none of us are being offered up for death in the arena.

Last, we need to remember the key to living the Christian life is to overcome. Jesus said, “’He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name,” (Revelation 3:12). In fact, Jesus speaks about how important it is for us to overcome eight times in the book.

Let us keep preaching the gospel to the lost. Let us remember how much God and Christ loves us and will never leave us. Yes, the world will get worse and worse. But the one who overcomes will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Let’s remember to keep the main thing the main thing, shall we?