Archive for April, 2014

More than all the books

library-stacksA little over two years ago, I took up a new adventure by learning to play the guitar. What began as an expression to Beth about how I would like to play the guitar, led to her buying me one and encouraging me to try it. From the beginning I’ve come to appreciate how huge a learning curve there is to playing such an instrument. There are literally hundreds of chords and variations of these chords in triads and many different scales. There is the training of your fingers, the coordination of your hand and mind, learning how to keep time, etc. It is a whole new language that requires a lot of practice and patience. It is unbelievable the amount of knowledge one must obtain in order to master the guitar or really any musical instrument.

The great thing that God has provided us is the capability to learn and add to our knowledge banks with even more knowledge. If we are willing to spend the time and energy, and discipline ourselves to learning, there is not much that we can’t learn or gain.  Now comprehend what He has done for us through Christ. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.“ (Ephesians 3:14-19)

The very power that made the universe can and will reside in you if you have accepted His son. Now with this power is the capability of limitless possibilities. Look at what Paul says, “To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. The capability that I have to learn and gain knowledge here and now is actually limited. There is something however, that is not limited, and that’s the love of Christ. God gave me the ability to learn and know about Christ, and when I believe and obey Christ, God gives me something greater. He gives me the power to comprehend the fullness of Himself. Gaining knowledge is not the answer, gaining Christ is.

Now it would be great if one could say, “I’m going to learn to play the guitar,” and then play like an expert once you have sat down and read all there is about it. However, one key ingredient is left out of that scenario, practice! Hours of practice! Days on end of practice! Most of the people that I’ve talked to that can play really well, have been playing the guitar their whole life. The same holds true to being masters of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). In order to partake of these great blessings we’re going to have to be disciplined and practice. “Asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10)

Partakers of His divine nature, filled with all the fullness of God, having the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge! What power, what glory, what blessings we have in Christ. All this is freely given, we just need to accept His love, obey His command and discipline our lives to walk as He walks, and talk as He talks. “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15)

Now the possibilities are limitless! Through Jesus Christ we truly can do all things. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Darryl Fuller

Super Glue!

I have a beautiful, antique oak chair at home that will not stay together. I’ve glued it several times to no avail. On its last trip to my shop, I took it all apart, sanded it, refinished it, glued it together, put new screws in, and mounted reinforcement plates under the seat. I proudly presented it to Beth, who of course praised my work. I put it back at its proper place around the dining table, sat down and tah-dah! It broke, again, in a different place.  super-glue-keep-away-from-children

Frustrating isn’t it, that for so many things in life, keeping them together is a never ending and often monumental task? Houses need constant repairs, children need new clothes and shoes every time you turn around. Just when you seem to get ahead on your budget a new obligation snatches whatever surplus you were able to squeeze out. Likewise, raising a family is met with many pitfalls and obstacles.  Christian families today are bombarded with issues of alcohol and substance abuse, sexual promiscuity,  rebellion against any type of authority (especially God), and the growing tide of moral decadence in general. Hard to hold it together. Sometimes it can feel just like that chair.  “I’m tired of putting it together again!”  “I’ve done all I could do!” “I don’t know what else to do!” “I’ll just throw it away and buy a new one!” “Burn it!”

Of course, those are the frustrations and impatience that come from a continual fight of doing the right and noble things. That chair is a heirloom and is greatly valued. It’s weak because it’s old, and just needs more care and attention (less weight sitting on it would help, too), than I’ve been willing to devote. The same holds true for our families and selves. We become frustrated when things seem to come unraveled and instead of taking a deep breath and thanking God for the (perceived) hysteria, some have actually left or destroyed their families or themselves because they believed they couldn’t keep it together any longer. Truth be told, they lost faith.

Here is a profound revelation from God in  Col. 1:16-17  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  (17)  And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (ESV)  The King James version reads, “And in Him all things consist.” First and foremost, we hold nothing together. It’s an illusion fabricated by Satan to think we are the masters of holding things together. The moment that illusion is shattered, is a moment we can lose faith in Christ, and that, is exactly what Satan wants.

If we truly want to keep things together in life, we’ve got to let go of this notion that “we” keep it together, and rely that “He” keeps it together. We’ve got to pour “self” upon the altar of faith in “Him”. Instead of trying to fix monumental problems at home or at work with “my” solutions, demonstrate to others your faith in “His” solutions. The troubles that befall this country are a lack of faith in God and our fellow man. We cannot fix the things that are coming unglued, but if God so wills, He can. If more of us showed our faith in God by living faithful lives, then the ones who have abandoned or lost faith in God, would be compelled (if they have honest hearts) to do likewise.  The greatest teachers or coaches, are the ones who practice what they preach.  Things are held together, when all the participants believe in the one who professes to hold it together.

God does care about the sparrow that falls to the ground, the widow, the orphan, and the homeless. He does not lose track of His children and watches over them with infinite, patient, Fatherly care. He holds the universe together by His mighty word of power (Heb.1:3). He also alters the status quo and, in response to prayer, frequently changes the course of entire nations.

Truth is, that old chair is solid oak, made by God. It was cut down and refashioned by man. Time to get some more glue and sit very gently.

Darryl Fuller

It’s Not Far

I Stopped at a small general store in the mountains of Tennessee, just outside Hartford years ago, to ask the proprietor how to get to a place called Del Rio. “You’re not far,” he said, “Just over the hill, you’ll come to a fork, take the right fork and it’s straight ahead.” 2 hours later, we finally, wound our way into the big town of Del Rio.

close but far

 Seems like “not far” can mean different things to different folks. To the old fellow who pointed me down the road, straight ahead meant not taking a left or right at the 30 forks after the first one! In his mind, as well as experience, Del Rio was as close as if he were a bird flying straight over all those ridges, dales and hollows. For me, Del Rio might as well have been Knoxville or Chattanooga, it would have taken less time to get to either place. I must have taken a right at every fork! What was I thinking?! You have to take a left at every other fork. Needless to say, and I hope you get my point, “not far”, is all a matter of perspective.

Once during Jesus’ ministry, the religious and pious leaders came to Him and tried to ensnare Him with several hypothetical traps. They threw out political scenarios to get Him in trouble with the Herodians and Caesar, which didn’t work. Then they tried controversy over the Resurrection, which the Sadducees didn’t believe in, and that backfired. Lastly, they tried scripture itself, by pinning him on what is the most important command, and this time the Pharisees failed to “get Him”. On the last attempt, the scribe was so impressed with Jesus’ answer, he complimented Him and expressed an appropriate view of scripture, to which Jesus replied; “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mk12:34

“Not far” is a fairly subjective statement.  Perhaps in the scribe’s eye, he indeed was close, and felt good about his position and status as an important religious leader. Maybe he took this opportunity to show off in front of Jesus and the others, seeing that they had been put into their place by our Lord.  Maybe he was indeed demonstrating a heart that was close to God, and merely enjoyed a true scriptural discourse with the Messiah.  “Not far,” can only truly be known by the one who has been there, and that of course would be Jesus.

I’ve seen a lot of people in this world who seem to be earnest and sincere in their devotion to their fellow man.  They even at times act or behave better than Christians. However, they never accepted Christ as their savior, or even acknowledged His ways. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve had a few studies with people about the gospel and obeying Jesus. Usually we’ll get to a particular point where, in their minds, obeying the gospel means condemning their parents or family. They let the emotional ties with loved ones dictate their hearts. This usually ends their willingness to study and examine the scriptures further to find the truth. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve seen people bring their families to the church parking lot, let them get out and go in. I’ve even seen them on occasions get out and help them in the building, then turn around and go back to the car and go home. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve seen people come to church during my lifetime, sit in a seat not more than 20 feet from the baptistery, but never take those extra few steps and get in. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

More importantly, I need to ask myself; Am I close or far away from the kingdom of God? Do I truly love God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength? Do I love my neighbor as myself?

The good news! The kingdom of God is nearer than you think! Act 8:12  But when Philip proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and about the name of Jesus the Messiah, men and women believed and were baptized.

Jesus knows! It’s not far away at all!

Darryl Fuller

Sign, Sign, everywhere a Sign.

This past week Beth and I took a trip to Kentucky to see her sister and brother-in-law, Debbie and David Lanphear. Shortly after we were on our way, Beth proposed an interesting investigative idea. How many signs or references could we see along the way that reminded us of God or Jesus or His holy word? Jesus-savesRemarkably, there were many such signs and within a mile we observed two. They had to be clear points to spiritual things, nothing obscure or advertisements to attend gospel meetings or “revivals” or singings. They had to in some way proclaim a message about God, Christ or the Bible. We saw several that said “Jesus Saves”, a clear proclamation of the gospel and is indeed scriptural; (Acts4:12 Phil.3:20, Heb.12:2, 1 Pet.3:21, Jude 1:5,21). Php 1:15&18  Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will…  (18)  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.

                We found that a lot of good signs were actually in yards or businesses and not on the marquees of most meeting houses. Very few marquees were used to proclaim God’s word, and for this I was disappointed. In a lot of cases, church signs were used to advertise fund raisers, like car washes, bake sales, flea markets and newly opened thrift stores. Some had  moral messages, usually a quirky catchphrase like “Hell, one way in! No way out!” Some folks like to display their wit and believe this will allure people to God more than His word. They should read Rom. 1:16.

The good news is that from Shelby, Alabama to Bowling Green, Kentucky, we observed at least two dozen appeals to read or think about God. I know we missed a bunch, because we often wandered from our objective. We are truly blessed to live in a part of the world and our country, where a good many folks are diligent in sending forth the message.  Isa 55:11  So shall my word be that goes out  from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Like all good things in life, we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it or it is taken away from us. We should all think carefully about this in regard to God’s word. We have it so abundantly. It is not a rare item, but so many disregard its precious value. There once was a time in the history of the children of Israel in which God’s word was indeed rare. 1Sa 3:1  Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

When you go north into New England or out west you’ll still see signs of God, but they’ll be fewer and further between.  If you travel across the pond to England or Europe, rarely will you find any expression of God or an appeal to read His word.  Go still further into China or the Middle East, and proclaiming the Gospel openly can get you arrested or even beheaded.  Indeed, God’s word is rare in certain circles of the world, but at no other time in the history of the world has His word not been made more available or translated into more languages than now. “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Here is our moment and place in history where we can put up a sign that will make a difference to a neighbor, friend or relative, to share with them the gospel of Jesus. We should take advantage of this moment before it’s too late.   Amo 8:11-12  “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land– not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  (12)  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.

Darryl Fuller