Archive for September, 2013

Feed Me!

I’ve never known a time in which I was hungry, I mean really hungry. There has not been a moment of my life, (thank you Lord), when I was in dire circumstance for food or water. For my generation and younger and perhaps the age group just before me, the “baby boomers” from World War II, we’ve been bountifully blessed. Hunger and thrist has not been a part of our vocabulary nor psyche.baby birds Today of all days, if someone is going hungry in our country, something is terribly wrong.  There is no reason for anyone to go without food or clean water.  Even in a time of an economic downturn, we are the most blessed of all people and food (although it may cost more now), is abundant. Yet in all this abundance and blessed manna from above, we as a nation are dissatisfied, restless and ungrateful.  Because we are not hungry and thirsty, that which we have, has become boring and tasteless. A menu from McDonalds in the 1950’s consisted of a hamburger, cheeseburger, french fries, milk shake, root beer, coffee and cola. Today there are 179 items to choose from but somehow we are not happy with these choices. So we go to the Golden Coral or Ryan’s to see if we can be satisfied with the huge selection from the mega buffet bars.  Just go in one sometime and observe those standing around  and having a hard time deciding what they want to put on their plate, or trying to figure how they can get it all on their plate. Either way, we’re not hungry, we’re hording. We just don’t know what or how much to horde.

In times of such substance of food is a time of abundance with religion and the freedom to practice religion. There has never been a more affordable period in which Bibles, commentaries, devotional materials, reference  works, CD’s, software, iphone applications have been so readily available. There are literal thousands of the Lord’s body meeting and worshipping throughout this great land.  The Lord has not only blessed us with physical food, He’s poured upon us a bounty of spiritual food and a beautiful table to sit comfortable and enjoy such a feast. Yet in our land grows every day the discontent with what we have, in favor of something new and more appealing. A nation of people that do not hunger and thirst for righteousness, but long to fill their plates with wickedness and lasciviousness.

There was a time in the history of the Jewish people, when they we’re blessed with great abundance in both spiritual and physical

wealth.  During a 400 to 500 year period, from King David to the time of Hezekiah, the land of Israel was a land that flowed with milk and honey. Their coffers we’re full of gold, their vineyards produced wine, their olive trees bore oil, their herds and flocks grew and their priest performed sacrifices. However, as they became comfortable and satisfied they grew less hungry for God.  They eventual grew to a point in which they did not know hunger and they did not know God.  For most humans, the apex of any nation is a point in which it’s citizenry is at peace and of no want. For God, this is a nation’s low point, for it is a time in which men think they have no need, especially a need for God. Amos 8:11-12  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:   And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

God help us if we have reached the point  when we too do not hunger and thirst for Him who has rescued us from the prince of darkness. Jesus said  Matt. 5:6  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  It behooves each one of us to teach our children and demonstrate for them our hunger for God and His word.  I love to eat spare ribs and if I talk it up a lot over a day or two, I’ll have everyone around me wanting spare ribs too.  Soon Ben or Bubba or Pappa will ask me, when are we going to get spare ribs? The hunger or craving in one will have the same or more effect on others. Psa 107:8-9  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!    For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

To have spiritual hunger is not a bad thing, on the contrary, it’s a good thing.  To be hungry is to be in need and who better to be in need of than Jesus.  He longs to take care of us a feed us.  His desire is for us to be hungry for Him so that He may shower upon us His great and wonderful blessings. Luke 1:53  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

It’s my prayer that we may all continue to be blessed with much food and the richness of this life.  It’s also my prayer that we be hungry for God and thirsty for His righteousness.  Doing without food would be bad.  Not having God or His word would be damnation! Stay thirsty !

Darryl Fuller

Religious in all Respects

Somewhere back in time, around 2800 BC, a tribe of people living in south central England built a great temple we call Stonehenge. There is no real confirmation as to who these people were, some believe them to be Iberians, some say they were Druids. 20090802-stonehenge1Whoever they were, evidence suggest that they used this  sight  as a temple for worship, and a final resting place to bury their dead. For hundreds of years, these ancient people gathered at these stone trilithons and worshipped the sun and moon and stars. The precision of the edifice is demonstrated by the fact of its amazing and accurate alignment to the heavenly host. Evidence would also suggest that they gathered to worship at important times during the year such as New Year (winter solstice), planting time (vernal equinox), mid-summers night (summer solstice), and harvest time (autumnal equinox). They gathered to worship a god they did not know, but they understood that something or someone was responsible for life and death. They could tell that the celestial objects were there for a purpose, a sign that provided them with knowledge on seed times and harvest.

The apostle Paul addressed a similar group of people, who had a lot of knowledge, but didn’t understand the unknown god. In Acts 17 Paul stood before another great temple made with men’s hands and proclaimed v.22 “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious  in all respects.For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship,I even found an altar with this inscription:‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it,this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it,who isLord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands,nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything,because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone.” The truth of the matter as Paul eloquently put it is that all men are seeking something, something bigger and beyond their grasp of understanding. Rom.1:19-20 because what can be known about God is plain to them,because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people  are without excuse. Most men know that there is a God and most make some attempt in reverence to this unknown God. Paul acknowledged this from the start when he declared that they seem to be religious people. The greek word for religious is “deisidaimonia”, and it can mean superstitious or pious. When we look around the world we see these very same people today. Even within our own community are those who have the desire to worship God, but in truth their worship is to a God they don’t know. Now we see Paul’s great respect and admiration for these people of Athens ( even though he was abhorred with their idolatry), by “proclaiming the truth to them.” Paul was given a great gift as he tells us in  Ephesian 1:7-9 In him  we have redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace  that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed  to us the secret  of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forthin Christ,. With this great revelation of knowledge bestowed upon Paul, he likewise revealed it to others. There are many around us who wish to feel spiritual but are misguided and lack knowledge. It is our duty to reach out to religious individuals, who seek God, and with love in our hearts, proclaim to them the glorious truth.

 

Darryl Fuller

Bearing the Burden

With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the centerfield fence.

But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.

Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases so the three-run homer would count — an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

This is truly one of the most amazing stories of sportsmanship that I can recall and so much could be said about losing with dignity and character as opposed to winning at all cost. I believe a more valuable lesson from this story is how bearing the burden of others (even our opponents) is what defines who we should be. Occasional we will witness unselfish servitude from our fellow man, but how often have we participated or witnessed such acts when it cost so much. Gal 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Those young ladies demonstrated what it means to bear another’s burden, and it cost them the game and their season. They very well could have shown kindness and compassion by carrying her to the dugout and in so doing perhaps won the game.  No one would have thought the less of them, even if all they did was show her sympathy and console her during her pain. Theirs however, was a true choice of sacrifice and love. It’s refreshing and uplifting when we see mature adults make such decisions. It’s amazing and full of hope when young adults show us how it’s done.

Hopefully, when the moments present an opportunity, we too can demonstrate such acts of heroism. The truth is we have an opportunity each day to bear the burden of both our brother and our enemies.

Before Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44) the principle of such was laid down in the law 1400 years earlier. Exo 23:5  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.  Part of loving your enemy is bearing their burden or rescuing them from such burdens.  It’s not an easy task to talk too or help those who are say, caught in an act of fornication (adulterer, homosexual, etc.).  Quite frankly it’s rather unpleasant. However unpleasant it is, I still have an obligation to try, to make some effort to rescue. Christ said to pray for those who persecute you.  When I pray for my enemies I’m bearing their burden.  We can bear this burden each day by praying to God on their behalf.  Isn’t the goal to help rescue their souls or watch them burn?

A great act of burden bearing is going to church and participating in that service. Heb 10:24-25  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,    not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. When I put upon myself, to attend ever service, I’m carrying a load for someone.  I may not know who or whom it is I’m carrying, but my lone attendance is stirring someone to do better. Not only can I bear the burden in attending, but my active participation demonstrates love for my brother or sister. For me personally, my burdens are lifted and I’m carried around the bases when song leaders are thrilled to lead singing. When those who are called on to pray, are eager and happy to be called on.  I’m raised up high when others come to bible study and are eager to participate. It thrills my spirit when those who are called on to wait on the Lord’s supper, deem it worthy of great honor and serve it proudly.  It makes me forget of the heartaches of life when we come together and all are singing with joy in their hearts. We are bearing burdens unimaginable when we come to worship God. And yes, making all of those services can be a great sacrifice on our part. There have been many a Wednesday night when I too have thought, “ It sure would be good to stay home and rest my feet, I’m so tired and I won’t be missed.” Remember however, we will be missed. Our presence in church is critical in the bearing of burdens.

In a roundabout way the unselfish act of those two girls will forever be to their benefit. They did not set out to carry the burden of their opponent in order that they would receive some gain. To the contrary, they lost the game!  This event took place in May of 2008 and five years later is still inspiring others. I dare say it will be remembered and written about for many years to come.  When we set out to bear burdens, we are embarking on an eternal journey of fame and honor.

Darryl Fuller

The Narrow Way

I warned a person one time, emphatically even, that they were about to marry someone that would bring them trouble and sorrow. It did not go well! I was young and not as experienced in this sort of counseling, but I knew the facts and knew that this person would regret their course. I was correct. The marriage was a travesty, heartache, pain and sorrow. The marriage only lasted a couple of years. I’m not proud that I was right, on the contrary, I feel remorseful that I didn’t do a better job of warning. The person I warned nearly slapped me. The verbal punches I took were far worse.sweetcakes

Sometimes the stances we take or the principles we uphold in proclaiming the gospel gather the same reaction from our fellow man. We are simply trying to demonstrate through our lives or our words a moral behavior that is, we pray, in keeping with our Savior. It is because of these narrow paths, (Mat 7:13 “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the road is spacious that leads to destruction, and many people are entering by it), that we will face persecution. When preaching to someone the wrongs and the rights, you can expect an angry reaction.

It appears that the day has come that a refusal to associate or trade with someone who is going down the broad path infers “hatred”.  The owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, refused to provide a cake because their Christian faith rejects homosexual practices. The lesbian couple who requested the cake then filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Commissioner of Labor. That investigation is pending. After the complaint was filed, homosexual activists began conducting demonstrations at the shop and targeting the bakery’s vendors.  Aaron Melissa said the opposition came from people who are simply intolerant of the Christian view of homosexuality, “They’ve been militant. The best way I can describe it is they’ve used Mafia tactics against the business,” he said. “In fact, I just found a social media site where a guy actually said that he’d like to find us and slap the expletive out of us. But, as far as the Mafia tactics, basically [they said] if you do business with Sweet Cakes we will shut you down.” Their business dropped by half within a short time, so they have shuttered the business and moved it into their home. The discrimination complaint is now being handled by the attorneys with no end in sight. An Oregon government official was criticized by pro-family groups last month after stating the goal of investigations into discrimination complaints, “Is never to shut down a business” but instead “to rehabilitate.”

Those who were demonstrating their right to run their business based on their religious convictions were accused of “hate crimes” by those who were actually exemplifying hatred! If I go into McDonald’s without shirt and shoes, you better believe (and rightly so), they’re not going to serve me. Does that mean McDonalds is a “bunch of haters”? Of course, not! The truth is, this isn’t about being refused a cake. It’s about having morals called into question and people who are acting immorally hate having their morals (immorals) called into question.

Paul told Timothy that to be a follower of Christ would mean hatred from the world 2Ti 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  Jesus proclaimed Mat 5:11-12  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. He also said in Luke 21:17-19 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your lives.  If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s proclaiming the gospel, through our lives and our speech, we will suffer persecution. Rejoice! John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

One of the toughest jobs must be nursing. Nurses must put up with so much abuse for the sake of caring. They have to listen to moans and groans, back-talk and crying.  They have to do the dirty jobs of changing out beds and garments soiled with human waste. They must endure the risk of infectious diseases, bacteria and germs of every kind. Their hands and garments are stained with the blood and bodily fluid of others.  They must endure the heartache of young and old alike who are sick with pain or dying.  At times they have to quarantine and separate loved ones in order to save them.  Often they must instruct the sick on how to care for themselves, garnering hostility and resentment. They are caregivers and to some extent they suffer or are persecuted in order to give this care.  We must see ourselves as these caregivers, willing to endure the persecution that will come in proclaiming the rights and wrongs. Warning people that they’re heading down the wrong path may not garner you any thanks, but you may very well save souls!

By Faith…

One of the false notions of Calvinist teaching is the ideal or thought in regards to faith. Some have coined it Irresistible Grace, or the Enabling Power of Faith, in short it is God’s gift to men, the gift of faith. LeapOfFaith-300x225 Some receive this faith, some do not, thus the idea of predestination. In truth John Calvin (1509-1564AD) did not come up with this idea but rather borrowed it from, ironically, Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD). A great debate arose in the days of Augustine in regards to man’s free will, was he at liberty to choose to follow God or not. Men like Pelagius argued in those days that men we’re created by God with choice or free will, Augustine and fellow bishops of the churches in the western part of the Roman Empire argued that men had no choice. A lot of Augustine’s ideas grew out of Manoism and Gnostism, which the Apostle Paul and Peter warned extensively about. The core of these bishops teaching was that men we’re corrupted and had no choice, thus participating in evil was inherent and unavoidable. When Pelagius journeyed from England to Rome in the latter part of the 4th century, he observed that the bishops of Rome conducted their lives in a most horrible fashion. When confronted with their atrocities their response was “We know we shouldn’t but couldn’t help it, God made them this way and it was their flesh which was corrupted not their spirit.”  Pelagius response to this was full of Godly wisdom, “ If a man thinks he shouldn’t, he shouldn’t.”

This corruption of the early churches, with the teachings of Gnosticism, is what directly led to the formation of the Catholic church. 1200 years latter a reformer from Catholism, John Calvin, would use the very thoughts and ideas of Augustine to set the foundations for a lot of Protestant churches today. Same age old argument; free will or no free will.  The truth is God and His word teach that men have a choice.

The way to idenitify this free will is to look at the faith of men in the bible.  Did men act out of love for God and thus choose to serve Him, or was this faith imparted to man and he was simply a part of God’s choice. Let us consider Abraham and ask the question this way; did God enable Abraham with faith or did Abraham choose to have faith in God? Calvin and Augustine argued the former and used Romans 4 to support their argument. Rom 4:3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Their point is that God enabled Abraham with faith when he believed. According to Calvinist teaching, Abraham was chosen by God whereby God’s blessings to man (His son Jesus) would come through Abraham’s seed which I agree with.  Since God chose Abraham, He imparted or enabled him with this faith in order that God’s plan would come to fruition.  In other words, Abraham really had no choice or free will in the matter, and this I vehemently disagree with.

If God enables certain men with this gift of faith, like Abraham, when does this happen? How often does it happen? When Calvin argued from Romans chapter four, the context was in regards to Sarah and the promise of a child in hers and Abraham’s old age (100 years old) (see Gen.22).  According to Calvin it was at this time that Abraham was enabled with faith. However, the context of Galatains chapter 3 is the time in which God made His promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 when He left Ur of the Chaldeans. Abraham was 75 years old then. Gal 3:6  just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Then in James chapter two, James points out that when Abraham went to sacrifice Issac it was also counted to him as righteousness. Now, Abraham is somewhere around the age of 112-118.  Jas 2:23  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. So the question remains, when did God enable Abraham with faith? When he was 75 leaving home? When he was 100 and the promise of a son? Or when he was 115 and the request to sacrifice his son?  The answer is neither. God did not enable Abraham with faith, Abraham believed God and acted on this belief, that was his faith.  That was his free will. To choose God out of love. God could have brought Christ into the world through anybody – Mat 3:9  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. God did not make Abraham act on faith, that would make God a tyrant. God told Abraham what would happen in His plan and Abraham believed it and chose to live it. That’s faith!

We have a choice in life. We can choose to follow God and believe in His promises by obeying Him. That’s faith!  We can choose not. I beg and beseech that you choose to follow and obey God. I cannot make you! Neither will a loving God.

Darryl Fuller