Archive for December, 2013

The Ugly Truth

All of God’s word is truth of course, but the beginning of the New Testament is brazenly so. Matthew’s account begins with the lineage of the Savior. This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Mt.1:1 What follows is a list of Jesus’ ancestry, a list of liars, murderers, adulterers, thieves, prostitutes, etc. Judah the father of Perez and Zerah (by Tamar) v.3 – INCEST , Salmon the father of Boaz (by Rahab) v.4, – PROSTITUTE, David was the father of Solomon (by the wife of Uriah 3 ) v.6. – MURDERER, ADULTERER,  all that in just the first 6 verses.

Now, if I’m going to tell you the history of a famous person, I’d probably not start out this way. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t  include really bad ancestry at all. Even in ancient accounts of history detailing the accounts of heroic countrymen, written by the likes of Herodotus, Livy, Tacitus and Josephus, don’t tell us the full truth of who they are and where they come from. On the contrary, men tend to elaborate or glorify the  subject of their discourse, and even take great leaps in making their subjects’ ancestry one of mythical gods.    I look back into the history of my father’s and mother’s families and I find no mention or any evidence that point to such above mentioned, bad characters. Maybe my father’s ancestry back to the Castellaws of Edinburgh, Scotland, were all great, noble, honorable, clean-as-the-driven-snow people, but I doubt it. The truth is very hard to swallow sometimes, and thus we don’t like to talk about it. Our past is a reminder of who we are. On my mother’s side of the family our ancestry comes from Hungary and the Slavic nations. History tells us that the word slave is derived from the word Slavic due to the fact that the Slavic people were enslaved at one time- not a bright moment in the family tree!

What is God doing, giving us such a tepid list of Jesus’ family tree? Why start out this way, and be so blunt about it in the first six verses? He even makes it abundantly clear, “by Tamar, by Rahab, by the wife of Uriah.”  Couldn’t you have spared us this information until the end? Like maybe, “Go into the world and preach the gospel, and oh, by the way, Jesus’ family tree is full of bad people” df.  But, you see, God doesn’t work the way we think.  God deals in the realm of TRUTH. We like to think we’re truthful, but a lot of times, we’re covering up something, something we don’t want anyone to know about. That something is sin, and we’re all guilty of it, all of us.  If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin,we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous,  forgiving  us our sins and cleansing  us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10.  We don’t confess our wrongs like we should, nor do we care to discuss them publicly like God does.

In the Gospel of John, truth is an often repeated topic  “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32. John emphasizes that these things were written that you might believe. How much better is that?! God wants me to believe in Him, and because He desires that so much, He tells me the truth, no matter how hard it is to take. There have been many over the ages that have walked away from the Bible because it tells the truth. They walk away and scoff at it, because they don’t deal in truth. God is truth, and He has made it possible for us to be truthful as well.  Notice the end of the first section of Matthew 1 says, Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. v.16.  At the end of this ancestry is the Savior of it all. What an unbelievable way to begin the Good News. We’re all bad, but we can all be saved. God’s truth may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a pill that will save us of our illness, if we’re willing to take it with a full glass of water.

 

Anger breaks things

Sometime shortly after the time of Solomon (900-800BC), a story was written by the Babylonians called The Wrath of Erra. The story is about one of their pagan deities who is called Erra, the god of war and devastation. The story opens with Erra in a depressive state of lethargy. His weapons, gathering dust in storage, complain and rebuke him, which invokes him to take action.

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Set against the counsel of his faithful vizier, Ishum, the god of fire, he wages war against Babylon. In order to distract the god of Babylon, Marduk, Erra accuses Marduk of dressing shabbily. Humiliated, Marduk takes steps by going to his tailor, while Erra offers to watch Babylon in his absence. Taking this opportunity, Erra attacks Babylon and rains down total destruction. Again, Ishum counsels prudence, but to no avail. Young and old are put to death, fathers bury their sons, and the righteous perish together with the wicked. Filled with bloodshed, Erra finally stops his rage. The other gods now take counsel on Erra, and in their company he justifies his actions with an expression of the kind of god he is (“When I get angry, I break things!”).

When you get angry, do you break things? Unchecked anger is perhaps the worst of emotions. It is the most insidious and destructive of traits that mankind possesses. The most frightening aspect is how explosively flammable it is within nanoseconds of the initial spark. Alexian Lien was beaten to death (in front of his wife and child), by motorcyclists in New York, when their anger turned into uncontrollable rage.  A woman kills her fellow Alabama fan and friend, when she is not equally angered over the loss to Auburn. Really?!

All of us, of course, are susceptible to  fits of rage. Shamefully, I’ve given in to anger a time or two. I can’t think of a single time in my outburst of anger, where I or others benefited in anyway.  To the contrary, things are broken.

Our Father in Heaven, however, made us in His image and part of His image is a righteous indignation against evil. He of course is holy and just. His  wrath or anger is justified in changing the hearts of evil people to live righteously or in visiting judgment on those who refuse. Since we are made in His image, anger is a part of our makeup. It can and must be governed by our desire to be as He is and accept Christ to reign in our hearts and our temples. (Rom.5:17-21; Gen.4:7) Without the love of Christ in our hearts, anger becomes a dangerous hand grenade, bringing destruction on ourselves and those nearby. Eph 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,   and give no opportunity to the devil.

Controlling anger is paramount! Learning to redirect and channel the anger into something constructive is taught by our Savior.  In Mark the 3rd chapter we find Jesus in a synagogue teaching on the Sabbath. A man in the audience with a withered hand is called up by Jesus. The Pharisees watch, waiting to accuse Jesus of healing on the Sabbath. Their hearts and attitudes anger Him! Mar 3:5  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Notice that God on earth turned his fierce anger away from the lawyers and restored the lame.  Obviously, we cannot heal the sick, but we can learn to refocus the energy expelled on anger and redistribute it towards goodness and mercy towards those who need it.

Association with those of rage is sternly warned against.  Pro 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,   lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.  When I was a young man, I knew of two guys (who were good guys, well-liked, made good grades, church-goers), and they both decided to hang out with a reckless misfit, who constantly stayed in trouble at school and with the law. On this particular occasion they all went to a bar in Tampa, a brawl with others ensued, a gun was used, a man was killed and one of the good guys went to jail with the bad. He made friendship with rage, and rage engulfed him. Angry people are not angry all the time, but when they lose control, Lord forbid that you are in their company.  It is wise to take note of such angry people and avoid them. Pro 29:22  A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

The emotion of anger always produces something. The righteousness of God is not one of them. (Jam. 1:20) Anger has a tenacious way of leading to heinous and often criminal acts. Wars, murder, adultery, theft, debauchery, lust, rape just to name a few are all directly the result of either hidden or openly expressed anger. Jas 4:1  What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this,  that your passions are at war within you? And further in Jas 4:4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  People who are angry and express this anger in violent ways are often angry at God. They are at war with God! Woe to those who would associate with those at war with God.  (Job 36:13)

Dealing with anger in a reasonable and prudent way is of course instilled at an early age. First and foremost, we are taught by God not to provoke our children to anger. (Eph.6:4) .  I had a cat once, and when it was a kitten, I provoked it to play rough.  I would use my hand to taunt and tease it, letting it grab,  bite, and claw. When it was a kitten, it was cute and fun to watch the cat get angry and pin its ears back, twitch its tail, growl under its breath and then spring into action by pouncing on my hand. As the cat grew, this cuteness turned into meanness, and eventually became dangerous.  I had provoked the cat into its predatory nature. Children are not cats mind you but they learn the same, through play and imitation. They are watching us to see how we do things and are quick to pick up on all our traits, good and bad. If they witness us in anger constantly, we are in essence provoking them to be angry, a lot. If they see us throw fits of rage at other drivers, we are provoking them to be road ragers. More importantly, if we direct that anger or rage at them, we are assuredly provoking them to do the same to others. Thus, it falls on us to teach them proper anger, anger against rebellion and disobedience. They are smart enough to know when mom or dad are angry at them for misbehaving or least they should. Children must learn that the result of disobedience will produce wrath. They must also learn that any anger other than anger over sin and wrongdoing is to be avoided. These are not contradictions mind you, In the same way I’m not supposed to worry about dying, but I still take precautions to buckle my seatbelt and drive on the right side of the road.  Teaching our children the differences about righteous and unrighteous anger is healthy and wise.

 

The best way to deal with anger is to extinguish it from our nature altogether. Eph 4:31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. For most of us, this is difficult, however, God provides a wonderful formula for rage control; wisdom. Pro 19:11  Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  Now, the only way to have good sense is to feed on the book of good sense; the Bible. God’s book of wisdom shows that those who were slow to anger like Abigail, reaped great and wonderful things.

Lastly, if we are busy doing God’s business, praying, encouraging and teaching others, then we are filled with his divine nature and anger is left to gather dust in the closet, where it can’t get out and break things. 1Ti 2:8  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling

 Darryl Fuller

 

Things I’m Thankful for

I’ll be 51 in a little over a month.  God has been patient with me, blessing me all those years, and for that, I am thankful.prayer4

He saw me when I was a young man, had pity on me and brought me to a place where I met the most wonderful person.  He gave me a beautiful and loving wife who has helped me in ways indescribable, and for that, I am proudly thankful.

There is nothing in all of nature that can even compare to this enduring love.  No mountain, river, glacier, dessert-land, meadow or star above is as everlasting as this love he has for all of us. For that, I am truly thankful.

He is my master and teacher, my sovereign king and ruler of all that I am and can ever hope to be.  He leads me and shows me where to go and how to proceed.  He chastens me and warns me of dangers and things I should avoid. He is my Lord and savior, and for that, I am most grateful.

I’ve seen Him accomplish unbelievable things in my lifetime. I watched my children come into this world and have marveled at His handiwork as they have grown and matured into young Christians. I’ve seen Him and His amazing deeds through little ones whose hearts are near to God. I’ve witnessed His power through children who were on death’s doorstep, yet lived and prospered. Children, who would not escape death, yet faced it with the courage of a thousand warriors. I do not need the time in which He performed signs and wonders to understand and marvel at His mighty deeds, which are here for us every day, and for that, I am thankful.

I am constantly aware of Him, through His nature that envelops me. My life and the life of my fellow man, plus the plants and animals.  The rising of and setting of the sun, the moon and stars above as they move across the sky.  All of His creation, in harmony and rhythm, each doing its part to sustain our lives every breathing moment, and for that, I am very thankful.

I must turn and witness at the very precipice of death His awesome and frightening hand.  He has provided for us a path through the dark valley, a means of safety and salvation from the destruction of this world. A path that is in itself perilous, but the shoreline on the other side is in view and the journey across is not that far. He has provided a means of escape from the army of Satan, and for that I am so thankful.

I am often troubled by the leaders of our nation and the nations around us. Their decisions and counsel are disconcerting. Then I recall the master of us all, who rules and wills in the kingdom of men, and this brings me peace and comfort. Just knowing that God alone puts men in or takes them out of power is a great assurance, and for that I am very thankful.

In the kingdoms of men there is a kingdom that is above all and will endure forever. The church that Christ established is a wonderful gift and its blessings flow freely to us every day. For all my brethren both here and afar who share with me in this great inheritance, I am most thankful.

The Father above saw me in my state and condition, and again took pity on my soul. He sent His only son to suffer and die to rescue me from such a condition. He endured the stripes that were meant for me. He prayed many long nights for me. He walked over rocky land everyday to establish His church for me. He grieved and endured my sins.  He carried and was burdened down with my trespasses.  He bled and cried for my inequities. He despised the cross but endured the worst of suffering so that I would not.  He was hung on a tree for me, and for this, I am by His grace, humbly thankful.

He now sits at the right hand of God, Lord of Lords, King of all Kings. He gave me His words and the revelation of His heart.  He has revealed to me His promises and the fulfillment of those promises. He has given me everything that I need to live and breathe and have my very being. He upholds me, feeds me, clothes me, cleanses me, listens to me,  disciplines me, walks with me, talks with me and keeps me. He is my friend, and for this, I am forever thankful.

Psalm 35; 67; 105; 106; 107; 118; 136

Darryl Fuller