Cup of black, tonsil-searing, up-and-at-‘em juice in hand…lurched, as though still not quite awake.”
–J. Lee Butts (And Kill Them All)
Yippi-ki-ti-yo, another day the Lord has given us. Don’t forget to be thankin’ Him for it, Pard. The day the Lord has made and given us along with some of my “go-get-’em” juice of hot, black, and strong coffee–what else could a person need?
I hope you ain’t all in a dither over the commotion those bureaucrats are causin’ up in Washington. Talk about confusion! Read just a little about the goin’s on and you can understand my feelin’s toward most bureaucrats. I know, yuh can’t lump them all in the same barrel, but my shucks, it’d come close.
Sip yur coffee and I’ll tell yuh somethin’. Confusion comes right from the “father of lies; yep, the devil himself! There’s no need to be confused, just go to the Book. The Lord has spelled out how to live in the Bible. If’n anyone tells you different it’s because they have an agenda and are fulfilling it for the father of lies, or they are just plain old confused.
Don’t be a-listenin’ to the lies. Why, I saw where someone from CNN completely made up a conversation between two senators. Now is that isn’t in the footsteps of the devil, I don’t know what is. A journalist makin’ up lies, how ’bout that! Will he get fired? Well, Pard, don’t hold yur breath over it.
Like I was sayin’, enjoy yur coffee, follow the words of the Lord in the Bible, and you’ll make it all right. That is if yuh don’t fall out of the saddle because yuh didn’t check yur cinch.
Keep your eyes on the horizon and keep your .45 loaded and ready.”
–Cliff Hudgins (Viejo and the Ranger)
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.”
–Psalm 119:37 (NKJV)
The more I read from the saints that have gone on before, and the more I read from respectable Christian ministers today, the more I see that it is the quiet and still times that God works and ministers to the soul. It is not the clamor of the drums, nor the busyness and hype that is needed but the calm soothing voice of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve always enjoyed the serenity that I find in the mountains. There is something about being in God’s great cathedral. Some may say the ocean, or the desert, anywhere as long as there is the sound of quiet filling the air. Sometimes there is the need to just get away and walk in God’s creation.
Everyone takes and finds refuge in something. For some it may be alcohol, or others gambling, others may seek the noise of the crowd or concert. These are really not a refuge, but an escape. There is a difference! Life is such that no person is free from trouble. “Responsibilities produce worry and tension. Our tasks are often dangerous, monotonous, unpleasant. People are sometimes difficult. World conditions are disturbing and threatening. Events occur daily to disturb and sadden our lives. Death stalks our paths.” (Leonard S. Edmonds) Do any of these fit your situation?
How do you escape? Do you read, go to a concert or play, go to a movie? Perhaps you gather with friends so you can gossip, ahem, I mean share your troubles and complaints. Maybe there is a hobby that you seek out, or perhaps it is exercise that helps. Often, way too often, we seek refuge in ways more harmful than helpful.
Our refuge should be in Christ! David writes, “In thee, O Lord, do I seek refuge.” (Psalm 31:1) There are times when no other refuge is adequate. Perhaps the ordinary troubles and anxieties of the day may be hidden in a hobby or friends, but there are those great tragedies when the only help is the Lord. The times we live in are surely troubling and there is little that a person can do but turn to God. He is our help, our strength, and our guide.
Keep your eyes on the skies, and one day soon we’ll not only be telling troubles and toils goodbye, but we’ll be singing as we go upward to glory, “goodbye world, goodbye.”
I defend them because I believe in what they believe. I even believe in it more than they do.”
–Luke Short (Saddle By Starlight)
“Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!”
–Psalm 43:1 (NKJV)
I have always been thankful for my wonderful heritage in the Assemblies of God. I can remember back when I was a kid and someone would ask what church I went to and I would reply, “First Assembly of God”. They would then most often respond, “What’s that?” Of course, there would always be that one who would answer, “That’s those holy-rollers in the little white church on Mapleton.” It has grown from a church that once might be deemed “from the other side of the tracks” to one of the largest denominations/fellowships in the world due largely to its dedication to evangelism and missionary effort. With that in mind I came across an article published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1973, written by Percy Brewster. It would be good for churches and individuals to heed its information.
1) “Being too sensitive to public opinion.”
Don’t try to adapt to the world’s culture and accept worldly values.
2) “Some accept the heritage of the past without a corresponding personal dedication.”
This includes people who identify with Pentecostal tradition, “but whose spiritual life is far from where it should be. They have form of godliness, but not the substance.”
3) “Weakening in the area of evangelism.”
Evangelism is fulfilling the Great Commission. When the church fails to do this it is committing “spiritual suicide.” Yet this is now the popular opinion: don’t cause waves… to each his own…
4) “Spend money on extravagant churches.”
Be good stewards. Do not take money from evangelism and missions to build a magnificent edifice.
5) “Don’t get caught up in the busyness of church work and committees.”
Seek the lost, look to the needs of hungry souls.
6) “An unhealthy move to segregate the young and the old.”
Oh, this is so true and becoming more and more the norm. It is seen in all aspects of the church. I read recently where a church is going to close its doors in August and reopen them in October and that no one over the age of sixty should attend.
Brewster writes, “the older people need the zeal and energy of the young, and the young need the balance of the older people’s wisdom and maturity.”
7) “An overemphasis on demon power.”
Don’t blame all of the problems the church has and that you have upon demonic activity. Some of it is due to individual neglect or stupidity, don’t give undue recognition to the devil.
8) “The tendency to tolerate and excuse sin.”
The truth must be proclaimed, not compromised. Do not shift opinions to accommodate human weakness, speak the truth.
9) “Don’t think that education can be a substitute for the call of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
What has happened to the notion of a “calling”? A person doesn’t become a pastor because of the prestige or the fame or the money. He is called by God. I have heard so many young people say that they would not leave a certain area. But what if God’s calls them to?
Brewster finished his article with the thought “theology trumps sociology.” Housing developments, social welfare, education, etc. will never take the place of the truth as presented in the Bible. Do not get caught up in the trends of the culture (i.e., political correctness, toleration at all cost).
We all have debts to people of the past. We cannot go back to those people, so our debts we pay to people who live now. Somewhere, there is a bookkeeper.”
–Elmer Kelton (The Way of the Coyote)
“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
How many lives did Billy Graham touch for the Lord? Only eternity will reveal that to us. How many lives will you and I touch for the Lord? It seems so small, maybe in comparison to Billy Graham, but all we are required to do is obey and use our gifts and talents for Him. I recall the words from an old song,
“If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand…”
–Ira F. Stanphill
Whatever God has placed within our hands He expects us to use. Remember the story of Jesus in Matthew 25 about the master handing the talents to the servants. Remember how they were used, or not used, and the result.
There are two stories I would like to pass on. One is about the wonderful Christian businessman, John Wanamaker. In his younger life he wanted to be a missionary. (Hmmm, back then all the youth were supposed to be preachers or missionaries.) He kept seeking God to call him to the mission field, but the Lord said “No.” Wanamaker accepted the answer from the Lord and was led to become a very successful department store owner, who by the end of his life was supporting ninety full-time missionaries. In which way did he touch more people for the Lord?
I recently read a story about a merchant in the times of the early church. The story goes something like this, told by the hermit Palladius.
“An elderly merchant named Apollonius renounced the world and moved to Mount Nitria. Because of his age, he was not able to practice the austere way of life followed by others. Instead, he used his own labor and resources to purchase all kinds of food and medicine in Alexandria. He distributed these to all the monasteries, walking from door to door, looking for the sick. He carried raisins, pomegranates, eggs, and wheat flour. This was his unique ministry for Christ in his old age. As he neared death, he turned over all of his supplies to another, asking him to take care of the five thousand monks living on the mountain. Without this attention, many would not survive in such a desolate place.” (Bernard Bangley, By Way of the Desert)
I like the term in the above passage, “his unique ministry.” All of us have some type of ministry. It may change throughout life, but there is always something we can be doing for the Lord and His kingdom. Maybe it is to give a cup of cool water to someone along the way. Maybe it is just to keep a smile and say “good morning” to those you meet for you don’t know what they’re going through and that smile might just be the thing to get them through the day. Perhaps you may be called to get behind a pulpit and proclaim, “the Bible says…” Whatever it is, reach out to fulfill what the Lord requires of you.