05/22/2013 , 11:18 am
Choosing the Right Team
by Daniel Matthews
Romans 8:31 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Nobody thought #15 Florida Gulf Coast University would beat #2 Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this year. Throughout the game, FGCU was draining 3s, throwing alley-oops, and playing like it was open gym. Why? Because they were having fun, and they knew they would win.
Georgetown expected to win; FGCU knew they would win. Therein lies the difference. Georgetown approached the game with the thought they were already moving on to the second round before the game even started, but FGCU was playing to make a point: and the point was that no team, no matter how “great” they may appear on film or on paper, is guaranteed a victory.
As with our lives against sin.
Though it is complete apples and oranges to compare a basketball game with the battle against sin, the problem with temptation and the influences of the world is that we often view the battle as one that is impossible to overcome when in reality, the victor in the battle has already been determined. However, what it takes is something that is not as monumental and laborious as we might think. Truth is, the battle can be won because we know the winner. That’s the beauty of it all. It’s just that we have to choose the winning side because we already know the outcome. And the outcome is that God wins. All the time. Every game. Every challenge. Every temptation.
God wins. That’s it.
But the problem is that we choose the losing side far too often.
If you knew before the game even started that FGCU would beat Georgetown, for which team would you choose to play? The fool would choose Georgetown; the wise person would pick FGCU.
So pick God’s side. He always wins. Any other choice and you are guaranteed a loss. Only with your spiritual life, the loss is eternally fatal. You will lose your soul.
Proverbs 14:16 – “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”
04/25/2013 , 10:19 am
Now Let Us Praise Famous Men
by David Abner
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord,” writes Paul in his letter to the Romans, “also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.”
Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, nurtured and educated in the rituals of the Jews, counted all of his former life as loss when confronted with the truth of Christ and the washing away of his sins. (Phil. 3:8; Acts 22:3 and 16). In discarding his old life, Paul must have cut ties with his friends and family. Even Paul’s mother, perhaps, turned away from him and these strange people of The Way.
Too often we create larger than life personalities and characters out of the men who labored in the Lord’s service. If they do not become larger than life, they at least become larger than ourselves—and we see them as something different from what we are. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16-17).
A nature like ours is exactly what we see in the stories of those in the Old Testament. David fell because of lust, Moses because of pride, Sampson was intemperate in many ways, Abraham lied, Joseph’s brothers gave into envy, and wise Solomon could not resist his wives. Though God reveals to us the faults and foibles of these men portrayed in the Scripture, we still. much too frequently, see them as set apart from us. These were kings, leaders of ten thousand thousands, the patriarchs of Israel, the chosen of God.
This is not to say that they are not worthy of their place and our praise: David was a man after God’s own heart and Moses humble beyond all others, Solomon was unparalleled in his understanding, and Abraham was “God’s friend.” In the New Testament, we see Peter lack courage and Paul struggle with his “thorn in the flesh.” But Peter also preaches the sermon on Pentecost and anchors the church at Jerusalem. Paul endures more hardships than a hundred men might face and spreads the message of Christ over all the world
But after we spend time with these well-known and worthy men, we come to this woman in Roman’s 16—a woman without a name, the mother of Rufus. At some point, she comforted Paul when he needed his mother—unavailable to him because of her distance or apathy, or unbelief. Here is someone who has remained with us for 2,000 years. Her good deed copied by the stylus of countless scribes, embossed by the early printers, annotated by scholars and translated into the language of computers so it can be read instantly by anyone anywhere.
Perhaps we find it difficult to embrace King David or God’s friend Abraham. But how can we fail to understand the need Paul speaks of in Romans? How can we not understand the love this woman must have had for him? What a small act Rufus’s mother must have thought it was to give Paul her affection as she would her own son. She may not have even thought at all about how she gave of herself. It was likely part of her nature and a reflection of her love of Christ. In Acts 9, another woman, Dorcas, was “full of good works and acts of charity.” When she died, the people displayed the “tunics and other garments that she made while she was with them.” (Acts 9: 36-39). How little we know of most of the Lord’s disciples in those early days of the church and throughout the centuries. But when we glimpse a moment of these almost unknown people’s lives, we can renew our courage, our service, our hope. Here we find ourselves and those that we love and admire most: the preacher who chooses spiritual need over earthly riches, the wife who supports such a man, the woman in our midst who cooks so well and so lovingly and who shares her talent for our comfort, the couples who do nothing more than love each in the Lord and, in so doing, became the Abraham and Sarah of their family—creating a genealogical tree of God’s children whose influence will only be completely known in eternity.
We need to peer more closely into the corners of these books that make up God’s revealed Word. Those seldom noticed members of the Lord’s body are there and like the bones that support our body but are unseen, they without fanfare or historical record support the Lord’s church. Even more, they perpetuate the love God had for us in sending in Son by showing that love on earth—the note sent when someone is grieved or ill, the handshake or hug upon meeting because of their true joy in our presence, the prayers lifted up in our name in the midst of a busy day, a busy life.
Let us now praise these “famous” men and women and remember their deeds in our hearts. God has already written their names in the Book of Life. (Rev. 20:12).
01/22/2013 , 09:38 am
The Numbers of a National Atrocity
by Mark McCrary
1-9-7-3. 4-0. 5-5. 1.2. 3-3-0-0. 1.
These are the staggering numbers of a national atrocity.
1-9-7-3. In 1973, Roe v. Wade made abortion on demand the law of the land.
4-0. This year, in 2013, we mark its 40th anniversary on this cold January day.
5-5. 55 million babies legally killed since 1973. 55 million—exceeding the current population of South Africa.
• 55 million potential researchers who could have discovered a cure for cancers, AIDS, juvenile diabetes;
• 55 million potential doctors and nurses to care for the sick & dying;
• 55 million potential engineers to design things that make our quality of life better;
• 55 million potential ambassadors who could negotiate world peace;
• 55 million potential firefighters & police officers who could make our communities safer;
• 55 million potential teachers to expand education;
• 55 million potential business owners who could have employed others;
• 55 million potential writers who could have informed or entertained us;
• Even 55 million mothers, father, sisters, brothers who could have shown love in a family.
55 million potentially ordinary people who could have done extraordinary things, because that’s what life is—extraordinary. It is a gift from God, and it is to be valued and protected because of its wonderful potential. "“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
1.2. 1.2 million infants will die by December 31 of this year. In a few short years, 55 million will change to 60 million, the current population of Italy.
3300. That’s the number of innocent children who will die before today is over-- to no media coverage or attention; no presidential speeches with children in the background as stage props.
In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States placed greater value on individual choice rather than life. Now, 40 years later, whether it is murder in our schools, on the streets of any city in America, life seems terribly cheap. And why wouldn’t it be, when our nation has labeled the most defenseless of lives—those in the womb—as worthless? Under the Old Law, an unborn child's was valued the same as anyone else (Exodus 21:22-23). With life in the womb devalued, general respect and concern for others is too quickly disappearing. It is true we seek solutions for complex social issues today, but the answers will not be found by casting aside our most basic right given by God—the right to LIVE.
1. On Monday, January 21, 2013, we remembered the life of one man who started a movement that made a difference for millions of Americans—Dr. Martin Luther King. He inspires us today. One person believing; one person praying; one person loving; one person speaking out; one person holding a sign; one person with a sticker on their car; one person can make a difference.
One person can one day, by God’s grace, erase 1973, 40, 55, 1.2 and 3300.