Archive for June, 2015

The Root

roots2Let’s just get down to the root of the problem; shall we? Let’s not fool ourselves, anymore into believing we can fix the ills of this world and the world around us with money.  Let’s not be delusional, believing that if we just give more money to charities or governments that it will somehow fix the problem.  The problem is not with cash flow; it’s with hearts! The root of all of man’s woes, is his separation from God.  The fact that we were already removed far from God by our sinful nature is made worse when we turn and go in the opposite direction. Man’s ills are resolved only when man chooses to follow and learn what to do to please the Creator.  All other endeavors, even those that appear good but lack Godly authority, are futile. Ecc 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (See alsoEcc.5:7, Ecc.8:12; Gen.22:12; Deu.6:2, Deu.10:12; Psa.111:10, Psa.112:1, Psa.145:19, Psa.147:11; Pro.1:7, Pro.23:17; 1Pe.2:17; Rev.19:5)

                        My enemies in my yard are poison ivy, poison oak and sumac.  I’ve spent a great deal of time cutting them down from trees and spraying them with Roundup and for a time have prevailed in ridding them from those places.  Over time however, while I was living my life, these invasive creatures have slinked their way through the ground and found other trees and bushes to grow on.  So they will go, on and on in this cycle of me cutting and spraying, and the dreaded vines stealthily finding new vegetation to thrive on until I trace the vines through the ground, pulling up all the roots that have buried themselves deeply, for there is the heart of the poisonous vines, their roots.  Cutting the vines off the trees works for a while.  Pulling up the roots works for a lifetime.

                We get a lot of mail in the church mailbox, wanting us to donate money to this mission or that charity in order to house, feed or clothe people.  I observed one particular piece of mail from the Festival of Hope, conducted by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham.  The front of the brochure read, “HOW ARE WE GOING TO CARE FOR THOSE WHO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL?  The first thing that popped into my mind was this verse from Matt. 15:33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” The disciples are concerned about the people’s stomachs; Jesus is concerned about their hearts. The root of the problem is not in addressing physical needs, rather it is in addressing spiritual needs. Feeding them may help temporarily, nourishing their souls will last eternally. When we attempt to address physical needs only, we are attacking the vine, rather than the root.

                By placing the emphasis on the salvation of the soul first, we aren’t disregarding basic needs.  Instead, we’re more in tune to see and attend to those needs by first addressing the greater needs of one’s eternal soul.  We are commanded to care for the needs of those around us, especially our brothers in Christ.Jas 2:15-16  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? The emphasis throughout God’s word is on providing spiritual food rather than physical.  Consider that when Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep three times, He wasn’t talking about fodder.  God knows our needs more than we, yet the children of this world think they know better. They clamor loudly that we must feed, clothe and house the poor. Mat 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’   For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

                We now have twenty six primary candidates running for the White House in 2016.  Each has voiced what he or she believes to be the underlying problems that face our nation from foreign terrorists, economic woes, education, taxes and immigration.  They’re all wanting to cut the vines to fix the problem.  Not one candidate has yet to address the root, that we are a nation moving further and further away from God.  Until we get at the root of fearing and obeying God, all our “problem fixing” is ultimately futile.  For our part, teaching and proclaiming the Good News to a lost and dying generation is where we should concentrate our energy.  Find the root!

Darryl Fuller

Changed

caterpillar-to-butterfly-change-metamorphosisIn the seventeenth chapter of   Matthew; Jesus, Peter, James and John have returned from their hike to the top of Mount Hermon. During their visit, Jesus became transfigured; Mat 17:2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.  This word, transfigured, is translated from the Greek word Metamorphoo and literally means to be transformed or changed.  It is only used three other times in the Bible, Mark 9:2, Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, and maintains its meaning in all cases.  What Peter, James, and John saw on the mountain can only be derived from what Matthew, Mark, and Luke were inspired to write; He was transformed, His face shone like the Sun and His clothing was brilliantly light.   John may be alluding to what he saw that day on the mountain as he is later inspired by God to recount Jesus in Revelation chapter one.  Rev 1:14-15 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,  (15)  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.  Before we are carried away by what Jesus may have looked like or try to tie some profound meaning into His awesome appearance, let us dwell more importantly on the significance of being changed.  Change or metamorphose is the key here as it is throughout God’s word.

Consider that Abraham had to change his home, in order to receive God’s blessings.  Jacob had to change his deceptive behavior.  Joseph had to change his family.  Moses had to change his nationality, twice; (Egyptian to Midianite, Midianite to Hebrew).  God even changed their names; Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel.  The lessons of the Old Testament are lessons about changing.  Changing religion, changing customs, changing behavior.  At the center of all this is our sin which must be changed.  We were created good by our Father and put in a good place.  But due to our sin, our choice to do that which was contrary to God, we were separated from God and that good place.  In order to gain that goodness back, we must be willing to demonstrate to Him, our need to change.

                When Jesus, Peter, James and John arrive back from their trip up the mountain, the first thing they encounter is a distraught parent whose son is possessed by a demon.  The other disciples have been unsuccessful in ridding the boy of this malevolence.  Jesus then changes the boy from a sick, demon-possessed child to a well and freed human being.  Jesus then chides them as well as us for our lack of faith. We are all a faithless generation.   We are faithless because we resist His changing grace. We lack the ability to overcome huge obstacles because we’re not willing to change who we are or how we behave.  To change we must be willing to submit to his love and power, renewing our lives in Him. Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

                Jesus proclaims inMat 17:20  … For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  I imagine Jesus pointing to a full grown mustard tree on the side of Mt. Hermon.  Over the years this seed, the tiniest of seeds, has produced a rather large tree and as it grows, the very roots have done the impossible; it has moved the mountain.  As I’ve worked in my yard, I have seen this very thing and it is amazing!  Solid rocks, weighing perhaps tons, are crushed, split and moved because they are  in the way of where the roots of a small sapling desire to go.  I’ve learned that when I want to gather rocks for whatever project, I’ll go to the base of a large tree. There I’ll find the choicest parts of the old mountain from down deep.  Broken and split into nice flat blocks, perfect for stacking, all because a small seed would not be deterred by a mountain of granite.   We can be like this tiny seed, Jesus is saying.  If we only had the faith like that seed, we too could demand the mountain that is in our way to move!  But it still begs the question of how?  The answer is change!  The seed that is sown cannot split, crush or move the mountain alone, but when it is buried in the water and the soil of the earth and dies, it changes.  It then becomes a force greater than the mountain.  So is the case for you and me, if we are willing to change.

Darryl Fuller