The True Measure of a Man

There's a proverb that says " A tree is best measured when it's down." It's hard to measure a tree when it's standing up, especially a very tall tree. But chop it down and as it lays there on the ground, measuring it is easy. Come to think of it, it's the same with people. Life is best measured when it's down. When times are hard and life is tough, that's when the true measure of a man (or woman) can be seen! When things are going smoothly it's easy for anyone to have a smile on their face and a skip in their step! If you only took stock of a person's life when everything was going fine, you would get a false measurement. Check them out when life has just dealt them a hardy blow and the world seems upside down; there's where you'll see the real deal! If a person can smile and still find something to be grateful for in the hard times, you can bet that person is of person of true stature!


It's what's inside that matters

I remember this little house I used to pass on my way to work a few years ago. It was a pretty little country style house that set just off the road in the middle of a curve. You had to slow down for the curve and that made you notice the little house even more. There was something special about that house. It just looked so cozy! And a middle-aged man and woman would often be sitting on the porch in a swing holding hands... how beautiful! I looked forward to seeing that place on my way to work. It always made me smile.
One day I noticed a For Sale sign in the yard! I couldn't figure out what might have happened to make those lovely people sell their lovely house! I asked around and heard "the rest of the story"! The woman had shot and killed the man! It seems He was extremely jealous and had been abusing the woman for many years! What?!!!! But..... that's not what I wanted to hear! Isn't it amazing how we judge outward appearances and never give a second thought to what's there behind the walls? A coat of paint, some vinyl siding, a pretty yard and two smiling people in the front porch swing and everyone thinks all is well! And then.... the truth, as it always does, comes out.
The Bible teaches us to love everyone, even our enemies. The Bible teaches us to look for the good in everyone. But the Bible also teaches us that things are not always as they seem! We are to judge the tree by it's fruit, not by how pretty it's blooms are! We are to judge according to what's done and not just what's said! People put on the prettiest show when they're trying to hide the ugliest things! Christians are no exception. We know how to talk the talk and smile the smile and say "God is good" and "I'm blessed"! But, as Jesus said about the Pharisees, we are sometimes like "whitewashed sepulchers; full of dead men's bones and all corruption"! Be careful; don't be deceived by the "churchy" laguage and the pretty smiles! Be "as gentle as doves, but as wise as serpents"!


Compel Them To Come In

The parable Jesus told to his disciples in the fourteenth chapter of Luke has been used to authorize everything from door-to-door evangelism to the Crusades. In the parable, a rich man had prepared a great banquet and had invited many people to come and eat and celebrate with him. But when he sent his servants to fetch the guests, they began, one by one, to make excuses as to why they could not attend. The rich man got angry and told his servants to go out into the roadways and bushes and find the poor and unwanted and "compel them to come in". That phrase "compel them to come in" has been abused, misused and misunderstood for centuries.
Overzealous Christians, who for the most part have good intentions, think this phrase is telling them to herd people into the church by any means necessary! After all, the Lord Jesus tells us to do it..... doesn't He? No. I don't think that is what He is trying to tell us at all! Other "Christians", who are not so well-meaning, use this phrase to bully unbelievers and make them feel worthless (can you say "holier-than-thou"?). Their intention is not to lead people to repentance, but just to shame them!
When the rich man in Jesus' parable told his servants to go out and "compel" people to come to his banquet, he wasn't giving them permission to drag people to his party, or to harass them until they gave in and came, or to shame and belittle them into coming. The rich man wanted his servants to simply go out and tell these poor, hungry, rejected people about his glorious banquet! All his servants had to do was tell these people the good news that there was free food and drink to be had and they were welcome to come! In other words, make the banquet compelling!
The good news should do the compelling, not us! Tell people about Jesus and the free gift of salvation and the good news will do the compelling for itself! Not everyone will accept the invitation, but didn't Jesus tell us that that would happen? People have the free-will right to simply decline the invitation! We don't have the right to herd people into church! Jesus is the good shepherd, not the good cowboy! Sheep must be led, cattle can be driven!
I want every person on Earth to accept Jesus and be saved. I don't want that to happen because I want everyone to be like me, I want that to happen because I love people and I don't want anyone to suffer Hell! But God Himself won't force people to accept Him and He doesn't give us the right to either! God has commanded men everywhere to be saved, but He wants them to obey freely! If you want to compel people to come to church, to accept Jesus and to be saved, tell them the good news in all it's glory and it will be compelling enough for itself.



Tonight I am 200 miles from home and I am homesick! I've only been here three days and only have two more to go, but I don't like it here. It's a nice enough town, but it's not my town! I don't really know anyone here and I don't know where anything is and I want to go home. I can tolerate, even enjoy, a little time here, but I wouldn't want to stay here forever.
You know, sometimes I feel like that in my spirit. I guess deep inside... I'm homesick! Homesick for a place I've never seen! I like it here well enough and have enjoyed many things, but I wouldn't want to stay here forever. I have friends and family here and I guess if it were not for them, I'd be ready to go home today! Then again, I know that whoever of us goes first, the rest will follow! I am blessed to know that my entire immediate family have all given their hearts to the Lord.
In Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Not Home Yet", the chorus says "Keep on looking ahead, let your heart not forget, we are not home yet.". Sometimes we forget that, as Christians, we are not home yet! This place is not home, it's a staging ground, a proofing place, a learning center, but it's not home! I think we all feel that yearning for home deep down inside! I'm feeling it right now.



It seems we walk a narrow path between two extremes. Some churches believe church services should be prim and proper, while others believe church services should be laid back and relaxed. The latter thinks the former is "stuffy" and "uninviting". The former thinks the latter is "sacrilegious".
The following is a few excerpts from writings by R.C. Sproul Jr. Although he is talking mainly about dress and language, I believe what he has to say covers the whole subject very well:

The worship wars of our own day are driven by this same tension. There is nothing new under the sun. Do we gather together each Lord’s Day to worship the Lord with the most simple language? Should our music aspire for accessibility above all else? Do we want to dumb everything down so that everyone can get it? Is this how we bring in the lost? Or, should our weekly gatherings instead be times of erudite exposition and sublime aural harmonies? Do we, with the former, through our workaday media, communicate a God who is safe? Do we, with the latter — with our highbrow affectations — communicate a God who is inaccessible?
The Bible is a book that not only is full of wisdom but that in turn calls us to wisdom. Wisdom, more often than not, means balance. Wisdom recognizes that there is a real difference between prudent accessibility and the lowest common denominator. Wisdom can tell the difference between a foreign language and a challenging language. It is able to distinguish between self-serving, highbrow tastes and treating matters of import with all due dignity. It recognizes, for instance, that there is a great yawning space between a pastor preaching in a long dead language and a pastor preaching in a clown suit.
When we come together for a wedding, no one would suggest that for the sake of the dignity of the event we ought to perform the service in Latin. No one would argue that the pastor’s homily ought to be peppered with obtuse language fit only for the seminary classroom. Neither, however, does any bride dream of a day when a man in stained overalls, smelling of a barnyard, looks down at her and asks her the vows: “Well, do ye or don’t ye?” Instead, when we marry we put on our best clothes. We decorate the setting to befit a time of solemnity and joy. We play our best music. We speak in our most gracious tones, and with our most polished grammar. It is our most important “our.” Nobody, I trust, argues that this leaves people out. No one argues that this is somehow inauthentic. No bride would, if her groom showed up in flip-flops and a t-shirt, argue that she sees the heart and that what’s on the outside doesn’t matter. That is, the wedding ceremony is not to be marked by the world’s best and highest, but by our best and our highest. It is our most important “our.” ~ RC Sproul Jr.

We have begun to "dumb down" the Sunday sermons. We have opted to spend our monies on more "comfortable" seating. We are telling folks to "come as you are" with absolutely no dress restrictions. The important thing is just to get people into the churches to hear the gospel, right?
When David went to purchase the threshing floor from Araunah in order to build an altar, Araunah offered to give the threshing floor to him without charge. David replied "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.". Worship is sacrifice. Praise is sacrifice. They cost something! We give up a little of "our" time. We give up a little comfortableness. We treat the service with the dignity due the King of Kings!
I don't believe in the suits and ties, but I don't believe in the tshirt, shorts and flip-flops either. We shouldn't try to be "highbrows" who alienate everyday, ordinary people. Neither should we go to church wearing things we wouldn't wear if invited to the White House!


Almighty God, All the Time

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be You name
And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
~ Newsboys

"God is good all the time and all the time, God is good" is a Christian saying that has become very popular these days. And, of course, it is a true saying; God is good and always will be good. But as I listen to the words of the song "Blessed Be Your Name", I wonder if we all understand that God is good even when circumstances aren't? And that God is still GOD even in the "bad" times?
I'm afraid that God gets caught in the carnal question "What have you done for me lately?". We need to understand that we worship Him for who He is and we praise Him for what He has done! But even when we can't see what He is doing, rest assured, He is doing something, something good! When we think God hasn't done anything for us lately and therefore we are having a hard time praising Him, we need to remember that we woke up this morning, we're able to think and discern, we have a heartbeat and a voice, we are alive!!! The very fact that we can say "What have you done for me lately?" is evidence that He has done something very miraculous for us; He has made us live another day! Many people who thought they would be alive this morning and had made plans for their day, didn't wake up! Today is a miracle!
And as far as worship, well... that's just a given! The mere fact that He is God is reason enough to worship Him! God commands worship and I don't mean just that He "commanded" us to worship Him. I mean He commands worship just by His being, much like a beautiful song "commands" our ear's attention or a beautiful painting "commands" our gaze. He is and therefore He must be worshiped!
Yes, God is good; But whether He is good or not (or whether we think He has been good to us or not) He is still God and worthy to be worshiped and praised!


Dirty Laundry

There are so many things that I love about the Bible, but I especially like the fact that the Bible doesn't try to hide all the dirty laundry. Did you ever have a friend call and say "I'm in your part of town and I thought I'd stop by for a visit. I'll be there in 10 minutes." You weren't expecting company and, after a hectic work week, the laundry is piled up and clothes are lying around pretty much all over the place. You jump up and start sticking your dirty laundry anywhere that will be out of sight of your guest. No one wants their dirty laundry seen!
I like it that the Bible doesn't do that; the Bible "lets it all hang out"! The good, the bad and the ugly are there for all to plainly see! Some of the greatest Bible heroes were some of the world's worst sinners at some time in their lives! King David was a man after God's own heart, but he was also a murderer and adulterer! Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, but he was an idolater! Abraham was a great hero of faith, but he lied and told the pharaoh that she was his sister to save his own neck! On and on it goes, all that dirty laundry right out in public! If were trying to write a book promoting my religion, I think I would probably emphasize the good and leave the ugliness hidden!
But God knows that we are all just flesh and blood and we all make mistakes and sometimes sin. He wants us to know that there is forgiveness for all things through faith and repentance! He wants us to know that He is the God of "another chance"! He wants us to know that He knows and understands what we go through down here! The Bible is not a Jewish/Christian propaganda book. It is the word of a loving God to all his creatures!
God doesn't hide the dirty laundry because, with the exception of the righteousness of Jesus, it's all dirty laundry to Him! But the good news is that all that dirty laundry can be washed whiter than white by the blood of the lamb, Jesus the Christ!