Have you ever been frustrated by something that should work and doesn’t? For the last several months I’ve had a rotten time trying to charge my phone. I purchased several charging cords but the connection always seemed to be an issue to the point where many times I would have to hold the phone and firmly push the cord to get a steady charge. I was just about to take the phone into the store and replace it when I had an idea. Taking a pin I probed the cavity where the cord connected and immediately all kinds of dirt and matted hair began to come loose. Honestly, I felt pretty foolish—no wonder the phone was not properly charging—it was plugged up with debris.
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.
Imagine if a few influential leaders suggested that traffic lights are too restrictive. They offend a percentage of drivers who feel trapped and forced to conform to other motorists. Three-way lights are insensitive to the needs of the color blind and old fashioned. Either do away with them or give each driver leeway to determine whether to brake or accelerate. Of course, if this really happened there would be an outcry by safety-minded drivers for the ruckus and accidents that would ensue.
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.
Titus 3:9-11—But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
Sometimes we can do what God asks of us and suffer disastrous consequences. When this happens we can do one of two things, we can turn away from God and blame Him for our misfortunes, or we can humble ourselves and continue to do exactly what He asks. To see a clear example of this we need only turn back in history to a dark time in the land of Israel.
Have you ever tried to help someone only to be second guessed, accused of manipulating, or of having some hidden, evil agenda? I once had a leader who was quick to complain about his higher headquarters. Despite the faults he found in others, his performance was consistently weak. For his own betterment I removed him from his position. I shared with him my intentions and then explained why his behavior was detrimental to our organization.
How fantastic would it be if we could read minds? Imagine if you could see the exact thoughts running through the brains of your family, neighbors, coworkers and even enemies! Perhaps it would not be such a great thing. It might be convicting, maddening, or massively discouraging. I propose that our behavior would be the main element that triggered people’s thoughts towards us and this would certainly heighten our awareness of consequences.
When I read newspaper and internet stories and listen to the radio and television one word leaps to mind--scheming! Republicans accuse the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress of trying to impose socialism. Democrats accuse Republicans of fear mongering and not caring about the American people. Special interest groups accuse Supreme Court justices for not holding to the Constitution. Radio talk hosts accuse the media of sensationalism and distortion. There is no happiness and unity is as easy to find as a unicorn. Perhaps we would do well to pause and to consider the nature of man.
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.
What thoughts crisscrossed King David’s mind when he penned Psalm 19? His language is deeply reflective. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psa.19:1). Creation testifies to the whole world God’s greatness (vs. 2-6). Moving on, he notes, “The instruction of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (vs. 7). David lauds God’s word for its marvelous qualities (vs. 8-11), and concludes, “In addition, Your servant is warned by them; there is great reward in keeping them” (vs. 11).
On December 30, 2007, President Kibaki, of the Kikuyu tribe, was again sworn in as the winner of the Kenyan Presidential election. According to most reports and the opposition candidate Raila Odinga, of the Luos tribe, the election was rigged and the incumbent should have lost. Immediate fighting broke out across the country. In Eldoret, gangs of youth set fire to an Assembly of God church killing fifty Kikuyus seeking refuge there. This was the first reported attack of a church in Kenyan history.
The telephone rang and it was Effron. Unfortunately, my suspicions were correct. He called to cancel what should have been our second meeting. He was exceedingly polite. I hoped to discuss his hang-ups concerning Jesus but he stated that he did not want me to be disappointed and that at this point in his life he really was not concerned with examining who Jesus is. “Effron, when you are ready to tackle tough issues, please call me.” “I will,” he said and parted with a final comment, “I love you.” That took me by surprise.
Most likely Effron and Ramona* will find a Justice of the Peace to seal their illicit union. Some day, Effron will face Jesus. I pray it will be from a position of faith. Will Ramona confess compromising truth to marry him? I pray she will turn back to the Lord and repent lest her walk be shelved on the altar of pleasure.
Mote worked in the building for years. As I got to know him I was amazed at his disdain for women—particularly his own wife. He would ridicule her at every chance and belittle her publicly. He made her seem stupid. He complained of her shortcomings yet seemed clueless to his own failings. In fact, the more I got to know him the more I could appreciate the pain his wife must have endured. Perhaps most grievous, was knowing that he was unfaithful to her and completely uncaring.
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.
For generations the Pokot of Western Kenya crossed into the land of the Karamonjong in Uganda and vice versa. These were not social gatherings or athletic competitions but rather cattle raiding. But unlike the past when both tribes attacked with bows and spears now the Pokot come at night armed with AK47s and pistols. When they raid they slaughter whole villages and then take off with their cattle. Consequently, towns along the border live in fear of losing their lives or livelihood to these bands of ruthless fighters.
Across the world there is no shortage of carnage and fear. How many neighborhoods in our own nation rest uneasily at night? The prospect of warring gangs and drug violence is all too common in many big cities. The demons of lawlessness and murder feast on the shedding of blood and dance to the sounds of wailing sirens.