Monday, April 25, 2011

Burning Words

“Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:21-24).

King Jehoiakim of Judah heard difficult words on that cold winter day long ago. As Jehudi read God’s words of warning to His people, the king was faced with an important choice. Would he listen to the words and make the necessary changes in his life as his father Josiah had done (2 Kings 22:8-20) or would he continue to ignore God’s appeal? Sadly, Jehoiakim chose the latter. In fact, he brazenly displays his defiance by destroying the scroll itself -- as if destroying the words would somehow alter his responsibility to heed them.

The authority of the word of God is not found in the ink or the paper on which it is written but in the God Who spoke it. You can shred every page and burn every book in which the words of God are recorded, but you cannot evade the God behind the words. Isaiah reminds us that “...the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). You can’t change the word of God by slicing it, burning it, or ignoring it. “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). You can ban the word of God but you can never ban the God of the word. Instead of burning the word of God, let it kindle a fire in you!

God loves you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Am An Addict

I attended a seminar hosted by a local church recently that was designed to share information about how concerned individuals and organizations can be involved in reaching out to hurting segments of society in El Dorado county. Presentations were given by county agencies, support groups, private enterprises, and churches about how they were helping those who were homeless, those who were suffering with mental problems, and those who were battling addictions. Speakers included some with advanced degrees in their field of expertise as well as others with no letters after their name but with a wealth of experience in reaching out to help others in desperate circumstances. Each one spoke about their specific efforts to help and shared practical information regarding what works well and what doesn’t work very well.

I was particularly impressed by the group representing Narcotics Anonymous. Their presentations weren’t as polished as some of the others. In fact, you could tell that they were nervous but they still did a great job of telling us about how they help those who are fighting addictions. But as good as their information was, I was most impressed by how they introduced themselves. The first words spoken by all three were these: “Hi, my name is ________________ and I am an addict.” I realize that such statements are part of their recovery process, but what courage it must take to stand before others and admit to your own struggles! It appeared that they had all made great strides in conquering the addictions that had nearly ruined their lives. But they remind themselves and others often that they will always battle the temptation to relapse.

Would my life as a Christian change if I started introducing myself like this: “Hi, I’m Mike and I am a sinner”? Perhaps an on-going reminder like that would make me more vigilant against temptations, more patient and forgiving when wronged, and more thankful for My Savior. I just might be less prideful, less impatient, and less judgmental. What do you think?

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Man's Best Friend

On Friday evening, April 1, a toddler (not quite two years of age) wandered into a densely wooded area near his South Carolina home. Young Tyler Jacobson was dressed only in a T-shirt and diaper. When his mother and her boyfriend discovered that the child was missing, they called authorities and a frantic search was begun. The search effort continued throughout the night as temperatures dropped to within a few degrees of freezing. It was Saturday morning before a volunteer heard the youngster crying. He was found some 200 yards from a road about a quarter of a mile from his home. Other than a few scrapes, he seems to be doing fine.

How did he survive his ordeal? Apparently, you can thank the family pet! When Tyson was found, the family’s Labrador mix was by his side. It is surmised that the toddler curled up with the dog to keep warm during the long, cold night. “I think the dog wanted to make sure the boy was all right,” said Chief Marvin Brown from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s office. “We found the boy and the dog was right there with him. The dog went missing the same time the boy did” (source: “Dog Credited With Saving Missing S.C. Boy,” Edmund DeMarche,

There’s something to be said for a friend (human or animal) who won’t leave your side when you need them most. But it is even more important to have a God Who promises to never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You see, every so often I wander off, spiritually speaking. It seems like a grand adventure at first, but then the forest closes in around me and, suddenly, I can’t find my way home. Its then, like little Tyson Jacobson, that I cry out for help. What a comfort it is to know that the God who was near in times of safety is also near when I have wandered off. He hears my cry and gently leads me back home.

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spoiler Alert!

If you read movie reviews, you have likely encountered the phrase “SPOILER ALERT” at the beginning of some articles. In case you haven’t seen the particular movie under discussion, the writer is warning you that he or she will be revealing details about the plot that may “spoil” your experience as a first-time viewer. So be forewarned! If you don’t want to learn of the movie’s twists and turns ahead of time and if you don’t want to know how the movie ends, do not read any farther!

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, I have a spiritual “spoiler alert” for you. But I dare you to read on because this is knowledge can actually help you. Okay. Get ready. (Stop reading NOW if you don’t need any assistance in your spiritual life!) Here it comes.... GOD WINS!!! In the on-going battle between the forces of good and evil, God wins. In spite of all the struggles of this cinematic drama we call life, God wins. When it appears that the “bad guy” has the upper hand, God wins. Just when the scenes get dark and scary, God wins. There you have it. The cat is out of the bag.

If we are children of God, that makes us winners as well! When we know how the movie ends, it can change the way we live. Because God wins, we have an antidote for fear in the scariest of situations. Because God wins, we have hope even when all hope appears to be gone. Because God wins, we have an anchor point that will hold in the roughest storms of life. Because God wins, we have a power source that strengthens us in times of desperate weakness.

Isn’t it great to learn that God wins before the movie is over? Now we can enjoy the show! No matter what happens, we know how it will all end. When the credits of our lives begin to roll, we know that God gets all the credit. Isn’t it great to be spoiled?

God loves you!