Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

As I was sitting in the passenger seat of our car waiting for my wife to return from a store I noticed our side mirror. On it was printed these words “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” and it caught my attention. I have been driving for over twenty years professionally and even longer on a regular basis but it has been a while sense I have paid close attention to those words. When I am driving by habit I incorporate those words into my decisions but nothing more. Their warning is clear and all, but long ago I stopped reading them.

It got me to thinking about James 1:23,24 and the clear warning the apostle is giving us. Those verses say this “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. That word glass can also be translated mirror. We look into the mirror and see what needs to be seen. What do we do with that information though? I fear far too many Christians are on autopilot, we hear the sermon or do our Bible reading and yet instead of applying what information the mirror of God’s word gives us we just keep on doing as we please. And that is the trouble. Even if we recognize that the potential exists for problems to arise we are on autopilot, stuck in our habit, or what not and fail to realize just how close to a wreck, to sin, we are until it is too late. The mirror told us it was closer than we thought but we thought better of our human self. For example, we see that sin and we can handle it or God tells us to do something and we think we have plenty of time to do it. Turns out the mirror was right and we were wrong.

The mirror also makes no bones about it’s message either. In bold letters it declares OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. Aside from the possibility of sin I can think of two other things that message can allude to for us the reader. One is that of the destination. In that mirror I can see part of the store my wife went into and when she returns I can see her. Jesus said He will return for us (John 14:3). The mirror of His word tells us this clearly. Secondly because I am close enough to read the message I must be close enough to use it. Which reminds me of a promise made back in Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” No matter how far away a child of God gets away from Him we are still closer to Him than we think! Just a prayer away. It’s just a matter of remembering Jesus will always take us back.

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Get all you can

I was thinking the other day about what advice I would share with a young preacher who was just starting out. Three things came to mind. Each of which I wish someone had shared with me when I first started out. While I don’t know the extent of the change it would have made for me I know the right advice would have gone a long way.

My first piece of advice would be this. When it comes to what a God called man is to preach, God has already told you what to preach. He has given you 66 books in one volume called the Bible. Stay on your knees in prayer with your nose in the good book. You don’t have to look for the eight-run home run sermon, just give ’em Jesus.

The second piece of advice would be in regards to opportunity. That is, take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t hide behind the line that you are not good enough yet to go out somewhere, that you need more seasoning. If God called you and you have been faithful to study and not just have opinions and traditions then God will be with you. A young preacher may not feel up to the challenge of an invitation, but I would urge them to take it. The opportunity they pass on may be the same one someone like me would be begging to have.

Lastly, and just as importantly as the first two. Please young preacher ask questions. Don’t just assume that the older more experienced preachers will just open up the flood gates of knowledge to you of their own accord. They tend to not remember how it was to be that inexperienced. There is knowledge and wisdom there but you most likely will have to tap into it yourself verses them taking you under their wing.

I am reminded of what Paul wrote over in 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Paul just listed four generations in this one verse. How much Paul brought out on his own verses how muxh Timothy had to dig out of the apostle on his own I don’t know, doesn’t matter anyway. The point is that there was knowledge there and each preacher has the responsibility to get all that he can and pass on all that he can.

It should have already been done

So after several days of below normal cold weather that basically guaranteed Northwest Indiana a white Christmas, the temperature has risen above freezing. That or course means the compacted snow and ice are starting to melt a little. The resulting slush is heavy but it can be moved if necessary.

At our depot the snow removal crew did a lousy job of keeping up with the snow before our cars started showing up. That lead to everything still being covered with that same compacted snow. Now with the warmer temp my boss decided to go out and try to shovel some of it himself. Soon as I could I went out and took over, he has a heart condition. While I was out there I could actually see the guys playing around with their equipment and yeah it burned me a little because I was now doing what should have already been done.

It got me to thinking about the Apostle Paul and the church at Corinth. When one reads these two letters you kind of get the impression he was a little steamed himself at this bunch. There is a great deal of doctrine in those two letters but also a great deal of correction for those folks. In fact as you read 1st & 2nd Corinthians you come to realize this is more likely 2nd & 4th Corinthians with possibly a little bit of 3rd Corinthians added in. Paul was time and time again dealing with stuff at this church that should have been done already. People were on sight who shpuld have known better but it just wasn’t happening. They all had a heart condition, their hearts wanted to act worldly and not saintly so Paul had to step in yet again.

How many of us act that exact same way? Far too many I am afraid. God sends messengers to correct us and we straighten up for a couple of minutes. Then boom! Back to our “normal” whixh is no good. Let’s try to get ourselves right with God before He has to deal with us again on the same matter.

Value in a name

This is from a Facebook post I made a few years back, so please forgive the punctuation and capitalization errors.

while studying for an upcoming funeral i was struck by this.  in Luke 7:11 we read of a city called Nain.  we don’t know anything about Nain, but we do know the name.  names mean a great deal in Jewish society.  to have the name gives it certainty that it existed and that this event took place.  for some one here the miracle rally took place.  when dealing with people from the past often Jesus would say “a certain”.  while he didn’t name the individual you knew from that phrase that the person and event really happened.  once Jesus did give a name, leading us to believe the event he spoke of was very recent and the individuals involved probably known to someone in the crowd.  here by giving the name of the city we are shown the event happening in real-time.  the event is not the raising of the dead (though that happened) but HIS compassion for the hurting.  thus illustrating what the psalmist said in Psalms 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  the word “precious” here means valuable.  his children are valuable to him.  and when we are hurting over the passing of a loved one it means something to God as well because we are his.

A quick take away: Do you got a lean to you?

Philippians 2:12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Even when the human(s) God has used to teach us are not around we should follow what we have been taught. Their presence shouldn’t be a crutch for us to lean on. Our true self is revealed when no one is there for us to lean on. At the same time it is always good and right to lean on God; Psalms 119:67; Proverbs 3:5,6.

There is something there

Recently I was on my way to visit a local church and as I was driving down a side street something didn’t seem right. In the middle of this block was a beautiful four foot tall iron fence that was painted glossy black. The lot that it guarded looked to be two maybe three times the normal size of a piece of property. I am not sure because I had no reference point, there was no house or any structure on the land. It did have some very healthy looking green grass.

I couldn’t figure why such a fence would be necessary since there was nothing to protect, at least as far as I could see. Then I got to thinking about it made perfect sense. While I had at first been speculating on what might have been there in the past, what was really sitting there was the future. Sure that open area didn’t look like much to me but that is because I don’t own it. I’m sure the fellow who does not only knows it’s past, sees it potential, and expects to realize it one day soon. Exactly what he will build there I don’t know but he does.

That got me to thinking of another owner who built a fence around His property. He knew the storms would blow through and cause some damage and that people would come by and declare the property worthless. There would be those who would come by and speculate if anything could be done with it given the shape it was in. None of that mattered because His eyes were looking squarely at the future. We read about that fence He built in Luke 22:31,32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to haveyou, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Jesus built His fence around His property (1 Corinthians 6:20), Simon Peter. Peter thought one thing about himself. Satan looked to destroy him in the storm that was coming fast and hard. People looked at him as just an uneducated man (Acts 4:13) and no possible future. His owner saw different. He saw a flawed man who could be turned around and lead that first way of disciples out to win souls. A future project that would see him preached his first sermon and 3,000 souls saved. A future where Simon Peter would be used to write two books of the New Testament and have a hand in helping other books of the Bible be written. What God Almighty would build on that property would be a testimony that would indeed 2,000 years later still be strengthening the brethren.

Oh it’s there in you too. It may seem like God hasn’t done anything with you nor does it look like He plans on doing anything any time soon but remember His time line is different from ours and that we have to first allow Him to build us His way. How often has He had to stop construction because we deny Him the permit to build? What grandeur can He do with a person who is completely yielded over? When Jesus bought you with His precious blood He bought all the property He needed to build with, it is there. Will you let Him have at it?

Avoiding God’s will

Often times we avoid God’s will due to just how scarry what we see is. The seemingly unavoidable destruction of what we hold dear is neyond our willingness to surrender. In Acts 27 we read a couple of interesting things in regards to God’s will for the 276 people on the boat.

First in verses 14 & 15 we read how the ship that was carrying the Apostle Paul was caught in a terrible storm, a hurricane. Then after many days Paul stood up and told every one that Jesus had promised to bring all the people ashore and that Paul would stand before Ceasar but that it was the will of God that the ship be destroyed (v22) and that they all would be cast on a certain island (v26).

The another thing we see is the crew doing what they could to preserve that same ship. Then finally the crew began to check the depth of the water and soon learned that even though they couldn’t see land that they were indeed approaching land. Big rocks and big ships don’t mix and they didn’t want that boat being destroyed if they got too close, so ww read in Acts 27:29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

It was God’s will for them to reach that island but they couldn’t do it with the boat. They loved it too much! Thus they did what they could to stop or avoid the will of God. This last time they threw overboard 4 anchors. Here us what I believe each of those anchors represent in our lives.

1. Fear. That unknown us too great. Faith is nice when things are going swell but when they ain’t what do we do?!? How can God let us come so close to ruin? Our minds focus solely on the negative aspects and we forget that God knows all and loves us so much that He Himself paid that aweful sin debt for us. Fear is indeed the opposite of faith.

2. Frustration. We get this way usually hecause we have been working so hard on things to go our way. All of our ducks are in a row then suddenly things begin to fall apart yet again. How can this constantly be happening we wonder. It seemed like this had been God’s plan and now it appears that He has changed His  mind. The best laid plans of man are not God’s plans and we must learn to accept that truth or we will never know the victory He has for us.

3. Fraility. As humans we are very frail when it comes to sin and we have tendencies to love our sin more than God. We carry this crutch around predominantly on display. I’m just a sinner saved by grace and I still sin. While it is good to acknowledge that stop trying to use it as an excuse to avoid God’s sovereign will for your life. Remember Jesus told that woman in Jihn 8:11 to go and din no more. He wasn’t telling her to never sin again but to stop habitually sinning, stop relying on her frailty.

4. Foresight. Our foresight. We think we see something better and instead of going with what God has for us we go with what we know. Trouble is what we see is very shortsighted and misleading. Going back to faith, it is not what we see that counts but what God sees. We are told to walk by faith and not sight for a reason (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our foresight can’t comprehend eternal truths and will always fall far short because of it.

Bear in mind that Paul declared that the people were all going to end up on a CERTAIN island and not just any old place. God’s will was for them to reach that certain island. It ended up with some swimming ashore while others arrived using broken pieces of the ship to help them stay afloat. How much time and energy are we wasting by avoiding God’s will? Had they just gone forward the ship would have been lost on the shore of the island and they would have arrived a bit more safely than they did.