Last winter several trees fell along the fence row behind our house. Last Monday was a perfect day to work outside, so I took my chain saw back there and cut up the fallen trees to harvest some firewood and clean up the field for the farmer. It reached 80° that day and I was loading the firewood into my trailer wearing a T-shirt. About half-way through I realized that I was working where I had not yet sprayed for poison ivy. Some of the shoots were about knee high where I was picking up the cut wood.
There were no leaves on the vines yet, so I didn’t think it would be too worrisome. But about Wednesday I began to notice my right forearm and my left upper arm were itching. By Thursday I recognized I indeed did have poison ivy on both arms. Fortunately, there wasn’t much of the oil to transfer this early, so its a minor inconvenience, but not a trip to the Doctor’s office.
There are some things we can do to expose ourselves to bad results, like brushing our bare arms against a poison ivy vine, or intentionally going too far in a forbidden relationship, or bending the rules to get ahead. Does God promise to protect us from our own rebellion or foolish ways. I don’t think so. Mind your ways.
Last night we were at the Global Action Prayer & Praise Night at New Hope. Pastor A. from Indonesia was sharing with the group some things to pray for in his ministry. One of those prayer projects was to pray for a school to be established among a rural region where several families had moved to the rain forest and planted a palm oil plantation. It would be five years before the palms begin producing. In the meantime, these families must live off the land. The children have no school at all. Pastor A. challenged the teenagers at the meeting (about 40) to pray for a school for the children. He asked if there was a teen-ager who would pray for that school.
One particular teen-ager raised her hand and came up to the microphone to lead the prayer. She is a bus kid (new Christian) and I didn’t recognize her. As it turns out, she is a very shy girl who had never led a prayer with the youth before. She surprised everyone by volunteering. And she prayed a very good prayer. Not polished, but she touched the heart of God. I was so proud of her.
Could it be that we adults are holding back our teen-agers from their destiny by doing everything for them? Perhaps we would develop a passion for God within them if we acted like we believed in them and let them chase God on their own terms. Let’s all be praying about this.
Pastor A. from Indonesia met yesterday with our staff to field questions we had about him or Indonesia. I told him that the divorce rate in America is at about 50% of marriages, and asked him to tell us about the marriage success rate in Indonesia.
He mentioned that there is an area in northern Indonesia that has a strong Christian presence. He said it is also well known to have the highest divorce rate in the populous nation. It was obvious that he was tying the Christian influence with the divorce rate. That’s troublesome.
We asked what his church was doing to address the ongoing problem. The answer: Every couple seeking marriage must meet for 15 pre-marital counseling sessions with an older couple in the church. These sessions cover every aspect of marriage from communication and finances to family planning. And it doesn’t come from pastors, but from experienced lay people who are open to discuss their own mistakes and failings. Because of a strong family culture, both sets of parents are pulled into the counseling, as well. And this older couple has the power to say no to the marriage if they feel it is not a good fit. And the divorce rate is very low.
Seeing things from another culture can be eye-opening and challenge us to do things the biblical way.
Last week I drove to Chicago to officiate the funeral of the young man murdered two weeks ago in Angola. I do not like Chicago driving, but knew I had to do it. I entered the address of the north Chicago funeral home into the GPS of my cell phone and took off. I did not realize the drain GPS puts on a cell phone. By the time I was four miles from my exit off I-90 the battery went dead. I did not own a car charger and I did not know where I was going.
I had noted the exit I was to use (47-C onto Belmont), but then I was lost. So, I asked some directions and spent 30 minutes driving in circles until I finally found the place 30 minutes before I was to speak. A little stressful, to say the least. But all went well and I think I comforted the family and friends.
On the way back I stopped at a Walgreen’s and bought a car charger. I should have remembered my old Boy Scout Motto: ‘Be Prepared’. I wasn’t and paid the price.
Are you prepared for the storms that may pop up today? You may have a car charger, but do you have a spiritual charger (Holy Spirit) before you go dead? Take care of that and be prepared.
I had to arrange to get a photo ID for my mother. The nursing home arranged to transport her to the Auburn License Branch. I had to meet them there with my POA paperwork, her Birth Certificate, and Social Security card. Seems all they needed was the Social Security card. But, she also needed two proofs of residence, and we didn’t have any. No one wanted to have to bring my wheel-chair bound 89-year old mother back over here again.
So, the Laurels van driver called the Home and had them fax a copy of a bill with both her name and the address on it, and the driver signed off on a Residency Statement, as an employee, to verify that she lived there. What a lot of hoops to jump through for a little old lady just to get a photo ID.
How many ways can you prove where you live right now?
But a better question is, how many ways can you prove your future residence in heaven? Can you convince anyone else? Are you sure yourself? My documentation is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Is yours?
Our house payment had a monthly due date when that payment was due. But, if we failed to meet the deadline, the bank offered a 15-day grace period before we were overdue. That grace period would save us from unwanted penalties.
We are today living in an extended grace period. We’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. We owe the debt we cannot pay and time is up. Because Jesus, who had no sin, paid the price in my place, as my substitute, my sin is paid for. But, I must embrace it and accept it, making Him Lord of my life.
So, I am now free because of grace. This grace period will expire, you know. Get in on this amazing grace deal while you still can.
Years ago I had a single mother try to give me a $100 bill for some service I did for her. I knew she didn’t have much money so I declined it. She urged me to accept it as her gift to the Lord’s work. I was determined, so I opened my mouth to refuse it again. Before I could say a word, God’s voice clearly spoke to me and said, “Do not refuse her offering to Me. Accept it as a gift from her heart so she can be blessed.”
That humbled me. I thought I was doing the giving, but, in reality, my pride was hindering her from being a giver. I learned a powerful lesson that day. From that day until today I never refuse another person’s gift. They must give the gift to receive a blessing, and God sees it all.
Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your lap. For with the same measure you use it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). God has taught me that this really works.