Archive for June, 2013

The Wrong Side of the Road

As Beth and I approached our 25th wedding anniversary, we talked of several places we might like to go and see. But the conversation always got redirected toward England. After a year of saving and planning, we both knew that England was within our budget and was the place that most intrigued our curiosity.  What made it even more attractive was the idea that it would be a lot like the U.S., and we could therefore speak and understand  their language. We had both studied and read of England from Chaucer,    Shakespeare, and Milton to modern writings from Jane Austen, T.S. Eliot, Dickens and  Doyle. We were clearly inspired by Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth”, and I used this as my compass to navigate through England via old and uniquely constructed cathedrals.   Now, taking road trips is my Oreo cookies, I know where I want to start and where I plan to finish, but it’s everything in-between that is good and savory. So planning was critical, and plan I did. Each night when Beth would retire I got on Google Earth and with Street View I drove several routes through England until I decided on the best one.  I felt that I had become so familiar with the roads through this media that I might even be bored with it when we got to England. In all, both Beth and I had built up in our mind with maps and books, what we would experience in England, and what we did experience was a little surprising to us. We have to be careful about expecting to see things the way we want to see them from the way that they really appear. This of course was the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ blunder in that Christ was not like what they had envisioned in their minds what He should be. Therefore they sought to destroy Him because He didn’t fit into their preconceived notions of the Messiah.

To study God’s word requires us to have open and objective thinking. Many people turn from the gospel and truth because it’s not what “mom and dad” believe.  They have been preconditioned to see scripture from a perspective that may be wrong, but it’s too hard to reject their parents so they end up rejecting truth. It’s hard to tell our neighbors and friends that instrumental music is not pleasing to God in worship.  Their upbringing and associations get too much in the way for them to accept the truth.  However, their preconceived ideas or thoughts are no excuse for practicing error and we must be bold and courageous in showing them their error, if we love their souls. Heb. 12:25, Acts 7:35

The first thing I did when we got the rental car in England was drive around in the parking lot for a minute or two, so I could get used to driving on the wrong side of a car. Beth was equally a little anxious, since she would be a passenger on the right (left side) side of the car with someone driving the car on the wrong side, going down the wrong side of the road who had never driven on the wrong side of the car going down the wrong side of the road. We were both a bit nervous! One mile into the journey we encountered our first major intersection; a “round-about”. Traffic was heavy, I was focused and Beth watched with great anticipation. I had driven around plenty of round-abouts in England, on Google Earth, but not one of them had traffic lights. Everything I read and had studied made no mention of traffic lights in round-abouts. The whole idea of a “round-about” is so you could do away with traffic lights.  It is supposed to be a junction in which you enter the circle, go around till you come to the road you want to take and then exit the circle, a continuous flow of traffic. The first round-about I came too, had two traffic lights. I ran them both! Twice! Beth says to me, “You just ran a red light!” I thought, “A red light? There are no red lights in a round-about!” when all of a sudden she shrills, “You just ran another red light!” That messed me up and I missed my exit, so we had to travel all the way back to the car rental parking lot at the airport just so we could turn around and try it again ( another surprise is it’s not easy to just turn around in England). I approached the round-about this time in the outside lane, but in my maneuvering I missed the first light again (Beth let me know and the woman I almost hit really let me know, not nicely I might add.) Determined not to miss the exit out of the round-about, I ran the last light again, but we made the exit and were on our way to Stonehenge (Ironically, another ancient round-about). My first preconceived ideas about round-abouts in England almost got us wrecked!

For the rest of the trip, I did not make that mistake again. To the contrary, I approached every round-about with an air of caution.  I wished I could say that I always learn from my experiences, but that’s not the case. Sometimes it takes a great deal to get through our thick heads. We should really be thankful for God’s enduring patience, His steadfast love toward our steadfast bull-headedness.

As in the case of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they had studied the scriptures and thought they understood every jot and tittle of it. After all, these men of the Law of Moses could not have gotten to their status of life without being able to recite those five books.  Being an expert of things because you’ve read it inside and out doesn’t guarantee comprehension or appreciation of the truth written within. There are a lot of atheists and agonistics who have studied the scriptures exhaustively, only to come up short of grasping the truth(2 Tim.3:5-7).  Memorizing  the scriptures is a worthy and noble endeavor. Living those verses daily is what God is after. Isa 29:13-14 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,  therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

The other surprise to me in driving through England was actually disappointing. In America, especially out west, one can drive and see things on either side of the road. In England, centuries of dividing the land between each successive land owner has turned the entire landscape into tall hedges and rock walls. Most of our journey, especially in Southern England, we saw nothing along the road but hedgerows. Somehow I missed this when I studied the streets on Google Earth. After we returned home, I looked up several places such as Coventry and sure enough, I couldn’t identify things along the road because of the hedgerows. Now you’ll read about these things in stories from Dickens or Austen, they’re told by Shakespeare and Elliot.  Most musicians from England like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin even sing about them, but there’s no way to even begin to understand them until you find yourself desperately looking for what it is that they’re hiding. So driving through England, although quite an experience, is not all that it’s cracked up to be. The thing that is the most comparable to it here in the Colonies (this is how the English refer to us), is a drive down the Interstate (screaming down the motorway in England). You will get to your destination in time, but you’ll miss all the wonderful things in-between. Thus my Oreo cookie of driving in England was somewhat void of the cream in the middle.

There were many other things that came as a surprise to us, pleasant surprises, but none the less corrections to our preconceived notions of how England should look and feel.  When we set forth to study God’s word, we should keep in mind some rather simple but helpful guidelines.

1. Study not to gain knowledge but to gain His wisdom.  Knowing Him will guide you better than the letter of the map. Prov.1

2. The signs are already there! Don’t look for new ones. No more are going to be put up, so make another pass through His word and look very carefully. Matt.12:39

3. Ask yourself, is this what I want to believe the scripture says, or is this what the scripture says? Phil.1:10, 2 Tim. 2:15

4. When truth is evident and it is contrary to your preconceived beliefs –get rid of your preconceived beliefs.Rom.2:8, 2 Cor.13:8, 2 Tim.4:4

5. When your wife says you’re driving on the wrong side of the road (even in England), listen to her.

 

Darryl Fuller

Water in the Plan

There are a lot of religious people in our society that teach others error in regard to salvation. I don’t believe their motives are misguided, but their faith in the power and plan of God is! A large segment of protestant followings state that in order to gain salvation and have Christ in your life, one only need say the “Sinners Prayer”, calling on Jesus name.  The scriptures overwhelmingly teach otherwise. (See Romans 6, Colossians 2, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 9, etc.)

Most humans, myself included, tend to get in the way of God’s amazing power.  We so often want to help God (who created us), by introducing or prescribing better or more improved plans. We begin to reason or rationalize our concepts and ideas as ways to bring in the newer, more “sophisticated crowd”. However, as mortals we fail to see the eternal implications of our narrow-minded thinking.  God’s plan of salvation, through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, is perfect and timeless! It needs no enhancement, attachment, substitution or redefining in order to suit the “new age man”. If it was good enough for Paul to be baptized in order to wash away his sins, it’s still perfectly sufficient for anyone today. Now, it appears that having a person just recite a prayer is a whole lot easier and much less complicated than getting baptized.  What is missing from that thinking is the way in which God said to do it! To tell someone that all you need to do is say a prayer is misleading and false.  Often the expression is incorporated that all the person has to do is have faith in God. However, the act itself demonstrates a total lack of faith by not adhering to the very commands of our Savior. Why in the world would God subject His son to a death, burial and resurrection if all He was going to require was a prayer to begin with? Saying a prayer is a really simple command, but it isn’t consistent with the plan that God set forth from the very beginning. God wasn’t hovering over the face of a prayer. He was hovering over the face of water. He brought the creation in to being with water. He separated the waters. He destroyed the earth with water.  He saved a family through water. He sustained the patriarchs with wells of water.  Isaac got his wife by a well. Jacob got his wife by a well. Jacob wrestled with an angel, and his name was changed to Israel by the Brook of Jabbok. Joseph was thrown into a well. The children of Israel were delivered from their bondage through the Red Sea. Their enemy was destroyed by the Red Sea. Their life in the wilderness was sustained for 40 years by water from the rocks. They entered into the promise land by crossing through the Jordan River.  Their enemies were defeated by the flooding of the Kishon River in the western Plain of Esdraelon.   The promises of God to Abraham of the land were fulfilled in Solomon’s day when the borders of Israel extended from the Euphrates River to the River of Egypt. The Syrian, Naaman, was washed of his leprosy by obeying God’s word and immersing himself in the Jordan River seven times. Water, seas, and rivers are mentioned over 1300 times in the Bible; the words praying, prayer or pray only 197. Our emphasis here is not to minimize the importance of prayer, it is a critical and essential part of Christianity. However, praying to God is just part of the everyday walk with Him. It is not the way God intends for us to be saved or forgiven of our trespasses. Baptism in water, however, is! Water was in the plan.

Before the foundations of the world were laid, God intended to save us through His son. Eph 1:7-10  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,    which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight   making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  The only way you can demonstrate faith in God is to obey His voice (Rom.10:17).  His voice tells us to be buried with Him in baptism. Rom 6:3-5  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Now, having been buried with Him through water, you can go to Him in prayer and do that for which prayer was intended; praise, honor and thankfulness to the God who freely saves us.

Darryl Fuller

“The handwriting is on the wall”

Luke 21:13  This will be your opportunity to bear witness.

I’ve heard this expression a lot lately; “The handwriting is on the wall”. Folks all over are genuinely concerned about the things that are going on in our country and to some degree are a little scared. Unlike Belshazzar who couldn’t determine the signs of the time, we see the writing on the wall and grow a little fearful of what is happening in front of our eyes. Dan 5:5-6 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote.   Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. An even clearer picture of the  “handwriting” is evident by looking at the attitudes of our fellow countrymen towards God’s word.  Recently, a study and research polling facility in California called the Barna Group, conducted an exhaustive nationwide survey. On behalf of the American Bible Society, they interviewed 42,855 individuals across America to determine if they were “Bible minded”. They defined “Bible-minded” people as individuals who typically read the Bible each week and who strongly assert Scripture is accurate in the principles it teaches. What they found was disturbing: 91 out of 95 markets (cities), a whopping 95 percent, are not “Bible-minded.”

The study ranks the top markets for Bible-mindedness, and not surprisingly, the South, known for years as the Bible belt, is at the top of the list.

Knoxville, Tenn., Shreveport, La. and Chattanooga, Tenn., all have 52 percent of their respective populations being Bible-minded. They’re followed by Birmingham, Ala. (50 percent), Jackson, Miss. (50 percent), Springfield, Mo. (49 percent), Charlotte, N.C. (48 percent), Lynchburg, Va. (48 percent), Huntsville-Decatur, Ala. (48 percent) and Charleston, W.V. (47 percent).*

The least Bible-oriented markets tend to be from the Northeast, especially the New England area. The lowest score came from Providence, R.I. at just 9 percent. Ironically, the city’s name actually refers to God’s divine providence. Albany, N.Y., is next from the bottom at 10 percent.*

Putting this in perspective, the most Bible-minded markets are five times more likely to have residents who qualify as Bible-minded than is true in these two Northeastern cities.

The New England area is home to most of the markets in the bottom 10, including Burlington, Vt. (16 percent), Portland, Maine (16 percent), Hartford, Conn. (16 percent), Boston, Mass. (16 percent), Buffalo, N.Y. (18 percent) and New York City (18 percent). The remaining markets in the bottom 10 are primarily in the West and include San Francisco (16 percent), Phoenix, Ariz., (17 percent), and Las Vegas (18 percent).*

What is evident from these statistics is what we’ve really known for some time; that God and His word are not important or even relevant to a large portion of our nation. With this information  comes the inevitable conclusion that the “handwriting is on the wall” and therefore the end must be near. After all, the scriptures clearly state Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Pro 14:34  and  Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Isa 5:13. However, let’s not jump to too big a conclusion, just yet.

It would be real interesting if we could have conducted a survey of 42,000 individuals across the Roman Empire say around 45 AD.  I dare say we wouldn’t find percentages as good as those mentioned above, because most of the world then, except for Jews, were pagans and knew nothing of the true and living God. The Apostles had the daunting task of preaching to a world that had no understanding of God or were to any extent, “Bible minded”.  For many at that time the “handwriting was on the wall”, and God’s judgment did fall on them. However, it was at this precise time that God also brought salvation into the world and the church grew exponentially. In other words it was a prime time to plant new seeds.

Maybe the “handwriting on the wall” is not “Look out, the end is near”, but rather, “Get up and teach someone the gospel before it is too late.”

Darryl Fuller

* Joe Kovacs – WND Faith, Jan.30, 2013

Words Everlasting Blog Page

Welcome to the South Columbiana church of Christ Blog Site that we have entitled Words Everlasting.  We hope and pray that this site will help in the spiritual nourishment of hearts and minds.  Of course, the words that I may have to offer are not eternal, but it is my intention to quote, cite, and allude to our Lord’s words, and they are everlasting.  We welcome you to post comments, thoughts, criticism, exhortation, in regard to this site.  We however, will not tolerate the misuse of God’s word by adding to or taking away from what is written therein. We hold it sacred and trustworthy, factual and accurate.  The Bible has a profound and universal message irrespective of our  interpretation of it  (2Pe 1:20-21  knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  (21)  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.) , and thus we will not try to make some outlandish argument from scripture to fit our biases. We ask that you don’t either. We do hold that God’s word is everlasting, was inspired by Him through several men who penned His words and is now perserved to us this day in a complete volume of 66 separate books, no more, no less.  Within this sacred code is everything that pertains to life and Godliness, especially the plan of redemption through the blood of our Lord and savior, Jesus of Nazereth who was the Christ,  the son of God.  The Apostles, John, Paul and Peter all emphasized in their epistles this inspiration and the fact that what they were writing was for our understanding, our being, all of mankind, any nation, any race. Please feel free to leave your post and let us engage in the discussion and better understanding of His Truth, His everlasting words.

Darryl Fuller

War Birds

Each morning we are awakened by a bird at our window, not the bluebird of happiness, but more like the redbird of war. It’s been going on now every day for over three weeks. A couple of Summer Tanagers, a yellow female and a bright red male, have made it their mission to break our windows and take over our home. SummerTanager100 I was concerned the first day it began. I feared that the bird had eaten something foul and was badly disoriented. Soon however, the red bird began the same task of attacking the windows, and I knew, just as we did that day on 9/11, that this was not a fluke, but a coordinated attack. It’s not just one window, but all the windows on the north and west sides of our house.  It isn’t randomly done either, for they both have demonstrated the tenacity to keep it up all day long from sunup to sunset. They mean business!  The cat seems to enjoy it for brief moments, but even he can’t keep up with their dedication and quickly bores to chase other things. I’ve sprayed them with the water hose, yelled at them, waved at them, thrown things at them, tried to reason with them (yes, I really tried this), played other bird sounds on the computer (this just infuriates them), put things in the window and covered the windows. I’d shoot them, but they’re too close to the windows and I’m a lousy shot. So the siege is on. We are entrenched in our castle, and the war birds are building battering ramps and may break in and take over any day.  Crafty creatures or just plan hard headed?  They may be up to no  good, but their beautiful color and sweet melodies have lulled me into a stupor from which I can’t seem to emerge.  It occurred to me this morning that Satan uses the same gimmicks and tricks to wage psychological warfare on our souls. A slow but meticulous and steady pounding in our lives, but with color and flare to keep us spellbound and charmed by deceit while he erodes away our resolve and thereby gains a pathway into our hearts.

Beautiful Appearance. The first tool in Satan’s arsenal of deception is that which pleases our senses. 2Co 11:14  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He knows we’re gullible

for the bright and beautiful. No strong drink was ever packaged in an ugly can. Hitler was considered by most Germans (even his opponents) to be handsome and debonair. Ted Bundy lured many young women by his charm and good looks.  Saul was handsome and stood above the rest.  All the things that appeal to our senses are the things Satan uses to trick us into destruction.  I love McDonald Big Macs, but I’ve never gotten one that looks like the picture on the menu board. If I were to give in to the lure of what it looks like, I’d be eating them every day and another heart attack would soon follow.  Throughout the ages, Satan has used women to appeal to the lust in men’s hearts.  Even worse today, young girls around the globe are sold into the sex slave market for the insatiable appetites of lust thirsty men.  The porn industry has appealed to the eyes and now stands at the brink of destroying our society.  I used to think people were silly in what seemed to be an overreaction  to Elvis and his gyrations. I was wrong. They knew that with time this would lead to illicit behavior not among the few, but the masses. It has! Song lyrics and dancing today make Elvis look like a Puritan. It didn’t start with Elvis though. Just go to Genesis 3 and you’ll see that the fruit forbidden was pleasing to look at.  “Be careful little eyes what you see!”

Constant Pressure. The second effective tool of Satan is to wear you out.  Like most good military strategists will tell you, the way to overcome your opponent is to weaken their resolve, discourage and reduce their morals. Make them break!  Here is where Jesus has warned us on many occasions to be steadfast and resolute. 1Pe 5:8-9 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, .. Don’t grow weary in doing what’s right, Paul says in the Galatians letter.  Satan will be working constantly to snare us, don’t give in!

Let him beat upon the house, flap his colorful wings and sing sweet sounds to your ears, but rest assured that if you’ve built your house on the Lord and if He’s in your house, that old red bird can’t get in!

Darryl Fuller