Two words in the English language frequently reveal obstinacy—“I can’t.” Whenever I say “I can’t” in the context of not doing what should be done, I profess to know myself and my limitations and therefore to pronounce what Iwill not do. Of course, I have the right to state what I am unwilling to do. But it is not a question of rights when rebellion is exposed, rather it is a question of will. God sees me for who and what I really am. All the cleverest observations I utter about myself, the most thoughtful pronouncements fall infinitely short of God’s understanding of who I am.
Jess and Jen moved into Rarebucks, a town of 79,000, so Jen could pursue schooling and Jess could work for United Parcel Service (UPS). They didn’t have a lot of money but they did have the faith that God had called them to live there and that He would provide. Sure enough, a favorite uncle gifted Jen with $50,000 and they were able to afford a 20% down payment on a home. Though they were seven hours from both sets of parents, they were happy to put down roots and start a family.
In 2010, in the Democratic Republic of Congo,a man decided to make money selling a crocodile so he placed the two-to-three foot reptile in his sports bag and illegally brought him aboard a Czech-made Let L-410 Turbolet flying out of Kinshasa. The crocodile managed to chew his way loose sparking a stampede amongst the terrified passengers. Their sudden movement to escape caused the plane to go into a spin and crash into a house not far from its final destination. Nineteen people were killed with only one person surviving to tell the harrowing story. Ironically, the crocodile also survived only to be killed with a machete by rescuers going through the wreckage.
I’m sure the smuggler never considered that his croc would cause a plane crash. That’s the problem with those who break the law seemingly to gain some benefit.
2 Chronicles 14:7—So he said to the people of Judah, “Let’s build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, with doors and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the LORD our God. We sought Him and He gave us rest on every side.” So they built and succeeded.
As the minivan I was riding in stopped at a red light, I noticed a teenager twirling a sign. He was one of those persons paid by a business to hold up a sign advertising their products along busy roads. But no matter how hard I tried to read the large letters on the board I could not. He was so busy spinning it behind his back and over his head that it was impossible to read the message.
Karl and Joe* accompanied me on a missions trip. We had a great time together sharing Jesus with people who had never heard of Him. We laughed at ourselves as we struggled to speak the language of our hosts. We enjoyed the adventure of braving rush hour on motorcycles and eating strange but delicious foods. We bonded as a team as we shared in hardships and victories in the journey of serving God.
Decades later, Karl is still serving the Lord and making a difference in the lives of people. Joe got wrapped around the pursuit of making money and climbing the corporate ladder. His liked to be seen in church on Sunday while the rest of the week he saw to his career and pursuing the good life.
I had the privilege for several weeks of working with four Army generals. In discussing the importance of a good reputation, several of them shared why it was vital to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Their conduct was measured not just by standards but also the perception of those standards. Aside from their own moral and spiritual convictions what they were willing to do or not do was tied directly to the people they served. I was encouraged that powerful men modeled integrity with humility.
One of the reasons I love to study the Bible is the amazing way God speaks to the times in which we live. Read what the prophet Hosea wrote to his countrymen sometime between 755 and 722 B.C. and see if his words speak to your nation.
Have you ever boycotted a product because its maker was associated with wrongdoing? A company that endorses corruption or whose reputation is tainted by sleazy actions will not last long. Reputation is not something to be taken lightly.
1 Chronicles 5:1—These were the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel. He was the firstborn, but his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, because Rueben defiled his father’s bed. He is not listed in the genealogy according to birthright.
When we navigate with a compass if we don’t keep on line with the precise azimuth, we get off course. Just walking across uneven land, over hills and through brush will change our direction and can easily cause us to get lost. I remember as a child in Japan, descending from the top of Mt. Fuji with two other boys. We left the sure circular path to take a short cut. But coming down the steep slope, we walked at an angle and ended up far away from our intended destination, lost and separated from the rest of our group.
Brian came over and sprayed Crossbow on the Rubus fruticosuson the field behind my house. About two thirds of the plants died. So I sprayed the remaining plants three weeks later, waited a few more weeks, then rented a brush beater to cut the dried stalks at their base. Later I raked the dead plants off the hill. Incredibly, there are new shoots growing and it is apparent my work is not done! Because of their thorns, deep root system and amazing rate of growth, I have to destroy those blackberry plants or they will take over the hill.
Insubordination is the oldest recorded sin. Lucifer resisted God’s authority. He then contaminated humanity through his seditious lies to Eve. Today the planet the Lord God made for His glory is pockmarked with contumacious, (obstinately disobedient), disregard for His rule.
Once upon a time a young man, Foye, crossed the ocean to explore Vacuities the world’s most powerful nation. Everywhere he went he met a myriad of people moving from city to city, looking for meaning. Inside a harbor graced by a noble statue, he first encountered the City of Results. But for all the accomplishments the city boasted he constantly met people disappointed that their goals brought no lasting satisfaction. It was like they worked and worked, but for what? Traveling inland, he spent time in the City of Retirement—a most sought after destination. Yet, here he discovered that there was little to live for among those entranced with ease, so most just died.
In twelve years of living in Tigard I don’t ever recall a snowfall that lasted more than two days. This is day five and the yard is still covered! Roads are slushy and in parts treacherous. Of course our cousins in Minnesota and North Dakota laugh at our frailty. They live with such conditions for months at a time. In the newspaper I read a woman’s bewildered commentary. Her husband was cursed and mocked by many passersby for shoveling the driveway—a time honored tradition in the Midwest. Evidently snow and ice bring out the best and worst in Oregonians.
Vanadium stared at the brawny sweat-laden arms of Dowson as he slammed the pick repeatedly into the soil. All she wanted was a nice hole. But he was getting nowhere. Finally, frustrated and tired he motioned for her to come outside. “It’s no use! This hill is made of granite. Are you sure we can’t put this feeder somewhere else?”
Psalm 32:5,10--Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin. Selah . . . Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the Lord
will have faithful love surrounding him.
In Oregon an evil cloud camps over the Catholic Church as certain priests stand accused of pedophilia. The scandal is not unique to this northwestern state. Perhaps what is lost in this brooding scandal is the misleading charge of the press. First, the real issue is not whether the cause of these problems is the vow of celibacy priests invoke. Second, it is more than abusing boys that is occurring, it is homosexual relationships—something the press will not touch for fear of offending the homosexual community.
While browsing through a magazine at an X-ray clinic, an advertisement caught my eyes. The bold headlines proclaimed something to the effect of, “It is WRONG! . . . It is Nationally Televised”. The ad promoted some upcoming cable channel roast of Playboy magazine’s founder and owner, Hugh Hefner.
I wonder if every church has them. Their profile is not hard to spot. They wear the cloth of disenchantment with authority. They chaff at rules or the appearance of any type of rigidity. They love to question the motives of those who make decisions. They take pride if the crowd goes left in going right. They wear their stubbornness as a badge of courage and refuse to bend. Don’t ever tell them they must do something for the word “must” is a dirty word.
The popular television series “Hercules” extols the strength and prowess of the mythological half-man half-god son of Zeus. If television had existed 1100 B.C. Hebrew children would undoubtedly have watched their own super strongman—Samson. God raised Samson to lead Israel during a time in its history when it was harassed and oppressed by the Philistines. His father was Manoah from the tribe of Dan. An angel visited his mother before he was born and told her that he would be a Nazirite—set apart at birth for service to the Lord. His hair was never to be cut.