Archive for August, 2015

Remember

Cross-FSIn the late 1800’s citizens of America recalled on several annual events, epic battles of our nation:  Bunker Hill, Yorktown, The Alamo, Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Antietam to name a few.  By the 1930’s a lot of these memorial events faded into obscurity and were replaced by more recent battles like the March up San Juan Hill or Argonne.  These too faded as we would in turn begin to remember Pearl Harbor, Midway, Normandy and Bastogne.  Today, any remembrance of past sacrifices of blood shed upon the fields of battle are only news blurbs on a web page, trivia fodder to entertain us as to what happened on this day in say 1942. Part of the problem with our nation is that we are indifferent about remembering, especially remembering the blood sacrificed for our benefit.

                For the children of Israel, remembering the blood shed by bulls and goats was as central to who they were as anything.  God’s instructions to His people were inundated with annual feasts and festivals commemorating key agricultural moments throughout the year.  At these feasts, the blood of bulls, rams, goats, and sheep was shed and sprinkled on the altar, the Ark of the Covenant, and the people for whom it was being poured out.   All of these “bloody” rituals were meant to visually stimulate the people of Israel to remember! Remember their sins! Heb 10:3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  Today, like then however, time has a way of fogging our memory banks.  Soon we forget what it is we’re supposed to be remembering.  The children of Israel, who over time continued with the tradition of making yearly sacrifices, soon forgot why they were making them.  The act of remembering their sins was changed to an act of pride in who they were and the pageantry in which they carried it out.  When they lost sight of their sinful nature, they grew more violent and insolent of wrong-doing.  They lost their moral compass to show justice,mercy and peace toward their fellow man.  Mic 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  (7)  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  (8)  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                The point of all these sacrifices was for the people to remember their sins.  The act alone could not remove the sins.  It was all a shadow and type of the greatest sacrifice, that of Jesus, who would eradicate sin!  Heb 10:9-10 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  (10)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  

                Now Christ calls on us to remember our sins and how He shed His blood to take away those sins.  1 Cor. 11:24-26 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25)  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26)  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  It is paramount for us to remember this love that God has toward us, the giving of His Son’s precious blood.  It behooves us to pay close attention to this memorial, not for the pageantry or ceremony that may occasion it but to remember our sins.  If we, like the children of Israel, simply go through the motions of partaking of the Lord’s Supper and fail to remember why we are partaking, we too shall lose sight of our sins.

                More and more, people are not attending worship.  If they are not going to worship, chances are they are not partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  If they are not partaking of the Lord’s Supper, then they are not remembering the sacrifice made on their behalf.  Remembering history or our sins is a key element in not repeating our iniquities.

Darryl Fuller

The Ugly Little Ewe Lamb

(The following story is fiction.  Although the characters names and places are real, the events are purely conjecture on my  part.  David tells King Saul of his experience with a lion and bear in 1 Samuel the 17th chapter, but that is all that God chose to reveal to us of such events.)

It frustrated him to no end, having to trek across the barren hills in the dead of winter, cold and tired from too little sleep, but here he was again, chasing after that ugly little ewe lamb of his father’s.  It was only last week, while feeding them in the sparse, grassy knolls of his father’s ancestral land northeast of Bethlehem, that the odd little lamb wandered off, again! The meek little creature had a way of trying young David’s patience, and tonight was the last straw.  Winter was already a hard time to keep all the sheep together since they all tended to wander further from each other in search of tender grass.  Nighttime was especially hard, since looming just out of sight in the thick cover of darkness were wolves and lions!  Nightly, eerie cries echoed across the hills and vales, reminders of terror that could strike at any moment and take the life of the young sheep or goat. These cries brought forth memories of stories Grandfather Obed told of lions dragging poor shepherds off, never to be seen again.

                It was bad enough to let the predators get to the herd and take one of the flock, but it was a different kind of bad to let his father’s beloved lamb fall prey to the wild beasts.  It was not uncommon for a shepherd to lose three or four animals during the course of the winter months, and it cost the shepherd just about all he made watching them if he lost that many.  During the 3rd hour watch, David climbed out of his cozy bed   and made his usual head count; ninety-nine and one missing!  The ugly little ewe lamb, his father’s favorite.  David gathered his cloak, his staff, his sackcloth, a slingshot, some fig cakes and a few olives.  He quickly filled his worn out wineskin with fresh water from the well, put out the fire and then got his bearing by marking the stars against the hills in the distance.  He hoped that the rest of the flock would stay together for the remainder of the night. Perhaps the lamb had not wandered too far away.  There was no true method to finding a lamb lost in the dark of night, just instinct.  David headed west, further up into the hills, where he hoped to find the animal and keep an eye on the rest of the flock as the sun would come up in a few hours.  Just before sunrise, David stopped to rest.  He had traveled at least an hour with no sign of the wandering animal, and he began to come to the realization that the lamb was lost and he would have to face his father’s wrath.  As with all young men, David liked idleness and playing more than work.  He preferred practicing with his slingshot or bow and arrows, killing small game for food and their skins, rather than tending sheep.  His brothers were off fighting in King Saul’s army, battling the hordes of the wicked barbarians, the Philistines. He longed to be there instead of chasing some ugly, little, ewe lamb.  David knew his father was giving him a lot of rope, seeing his other boys were off fighting a war.  In Jesse’s eyes, his son was merely learning, but his carelessness was beginning to add up. He privately wondered if the boy would ever grow up to be a strong and mighty man like Eliab, his oldest.

              Just as David set down his staff and wineskin and was about to rest under the limbs of a sycamore tree, he heard a deep huffing noise behind him.  David whirled around to behold something he had never seen before.  There in the dim light of the dawn, stood the most enormous beast his eyes had ever beheld, Ursus Syriacus, or Dobe in the Hebrew tongue, a large brown bear!  It was mad! It pawed the ground and swaggered back and forth several times. It grunted and hissed, barked and bellowed every horrible sound imaginable.  Foam and gooey salvia flowed from the around its mouth.  What might have at first been a warning quickly became an assured gauntlet thrown down by the monster.  His fur was as thick as all the rugs in his mother’s tent.  The smell rolling off him was more horrible than all the goats and camels from the caravans in Hebron.  His teeth were huge and ferocious like a cobra but hinged from both top and bottom.  It pounded the ground with both front feet, leaping into the air with his back feet rooted to the ground.  With each pounce he made the ground shook and vibrated with the force of a hundred chariots and horses.  David was truly and visibly frightened.  Nothing in his short life had prepared him for this.  His great grandfather, Boaz, told stories of such animals, beasts who lived in the caves of Mount Hermon far to the north, who could shred a man to pieces with their huge paws.  He told the story once of a man from far away, who ventured into the den of a she-bear with her cubs.  His companions found him the next day, mauled and pulled to pieces, strewn across the mountain he had wandered to close to.  Now, not less than a stone’s throw away, David stood in the presence of such a beast.

                The great bear stopped its rant for a moment and began sniffing the air. Just like that, the raging creature appeared to be calmed.  He took in the scene like a deer raising her head up from the grass to figure out what strange new smell has entered her sphere. Quietly and methodically, the bear swayed back and forth, sniffing the air, seeking with his nose the scent that had so enraged him. David took a deep breath in this moment of calm.  “Perhaps,” he thought, “The trouble is over. The beast has been quieted by the hand of Jehovah, to protect me from destruction.” David grew bold, smiled and laughed to himself.  He was awed by this magnificent sight.  His growing confidence foolishly urged him to stand up and show the beast who was the true champion of all of creation.   It was David who now stomped and pawed at the ground, who kicked the dirt, flayed his arms and yelled in a deep voice, “Who are you? Who are you that defies my father’s fields?  By what strength and might do you come before me, David the son of Jesse? And what have you done to my father’s little ewe lamb?”

                It was not however, the words of David that caught the bear’s attention, but the wind which had reversed its direction and brought with it David’s smell.  The great beast stood up now, and beheld with his poor vision what he had begun to smell earlier.  Unbeknownst to David, he had walked uphill, straight to the bear’s den. As he walked, a slight breeze had blown across him heralding the news of his arrival. Now, standing erect, a little over 9 feet tall, the bear could clearly smell and see this unwelcome trespasser. Fear returned to David’s brain. His breathing increased two-fold, sweat poured from his forehead, his mouth and throat felt as dry as if he had swallowed sand.  His knees began to buckle, his heart raced, his hands trembled.  The great beast made no noise. It merely dropped to all four and made a straight gallop forward, aiming to rip, claw and maw the intruder until it intruded no more.   In a flash David saw the one thing his father said he was truly good at! His sling! He quickly grabbed the sling and ran.  He needed more distance between himself and the beast, and he needed ammunition.  The sling was only as good as the object it was slinging.  In his haste of finding the lamb, he forgot to gather smooth stones for the sling. Now he was running for his life with a weapon but no arsenal for it.  The bear was gaining fast!  How could such a large animal, that seemed to lumber about, be so quick? Its name, Dobe, meant slow, but it was quickly drawing near, and still David had no rock.   As David ran for his life, his thoughts raced,   “I’ll only get one shot at this at best, so I’ve got to make it good on the first shot.”   Suddenly, David stumbled over something on the ground.  He fell over and landed in blood, lots of blood. There in the blood was the perfect stone, about 1.5 pounds. It was perfectly smooth, without the jaggedness that could make the sling fire awkwardly  and miss its intended target.  He picked it up, scrambled to his feet, and resumed his sprint, but the beast had gained considerably.  The bear paused now, the scent of the man had changed because of the blood that now covered him, and this confused him.  However, as soon as David began running again, the bear caught sight and pursued his chase.  David spotted his destination, a huge outcrop of rock 50 yards ahead.  With the bear a scant, few yards behind him, David leaped to a pedestal rock, slipping as the bear closed the gap. He managed to regain his footing and pulled his way clear and up the remainder of the rock face, standing about five feet above the ground.  The bear was briefly taken aback. David knew the bear would soon learn how to climb the rock pile and scamper up, cornering him against the cliff at his back.  David had maybe 7 seconds, ten at best before the bear would get to him. He quickly buried the stone deep into the pouch of the sling, unraveled the leather strap and twirled it around his head three times before letting one leg of the strap loose behind him.   The centrifugal force of momentum carried the stone around in its arc and out of the pouch in front of David.  What seemed like an eternity was actual only a fraction of a second.  The smooth, blood-stained rock found its target, just above the left eye of the beast, the same moment it was about to leap on David.  The bear never knew what hit him! At the foot of a little shepherd boy lay the body of a dead 1100 pound bear.

                David had no knife or sword to skin the beast. Who would believe his story?  After gathering his strength and thanking Jehovah for his victory and life, young David gathered himself and headed back to retrieve his belongings.  As he traced his steps back, he encountered the place where he had stumbled. His elation soon turned to agony, for the object he had stumbled over was the little ewe lamb.  It had been killed by the beast, clawed and ripped open. The small creature’s lifeless, wool body was covered in blood.  David realized that the blood that he was covered in was the blood of the poor little ewe lamb. This blood had covered the rock that he used to kill the bear.  How would he ever tell his father?  His father would never believe he had killed a bear trying to rescue the lamb from its mouth.

                A few days later, David returned to his father’s home with the other 99 sheep. He humbly bowed before his father and with tears recounted the story of the bear and death of the little ewe lamb.  David thought surely his father’s wrath would be more than he could endure, but to David’s surprise, his father cried aloud and held him tightly.  Bewildered, David asked, “Father, you are not angry with me for losing your beloved ewe lamb?” “No, my son,” Jesse said, “Although I truly adored that little, ugly lamb, I adore you even more. Now I know that Jehovah God is truly great and longs to save us of our wrongful ways.  For on the day, when you set out to rescue the ugly little ewe lamb that I so adored, that beautiful little ewe lamb poured out his blood on the stone, that saved you.”

 

Darryl Fuller

Wow! I Can See!

446963_origI began to have trouble with my vision in the 4th grade.  I would have to squint or hold up my hands and make a peep-hole through my fingers to see the chalkboard. Mrs. Hitt, my 4th grade teacher, asked me one day what I was doing.  She called my mother that day, and the next thing I knew I was getting fitted for glasses.  I remember distinctly riding home from the eye doctor amazed that I could see the leaves on the trees as we passed by. My ability to now see the chalkboard helped my math grade!  I could actually see the threads on the baseball, and this improved my hitting.  That spring after I got my first glasses, I hit several home runs including a grand slam.  Seeing is liberating!  Today, after 40 years of having to wear corrective lens, my vision is growing poorer.  I’ve worn contacts most of those forty years and have enjoyed the comfort and yes, the vanity as well.  I do believe I’m going to have to go back to glasses, but I will stubbornly fight it for as long as I can.  I believe people of the world fight seeing the gospel in the same way.  2Co. 4:4   In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

                Satan certainly does a masterful job at convincing the blind, that they’re not blind.  He appeals to their pride and vanity by making the gospel seem nerdish, archaic, odd and ugly to wear.  The Devil has created a realm among intellectuals where the gospel is seen as a panacea for the backward and uninformed, declaiming that those who would even consider its content are stupid or simple-minded.  Atheist author, Richard Dawkins, points out that according to a survey of the National Academy of Scientists only 7 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God. There is an incredible bias against theism within higher education. In 2009, Dr. Brent Slife published a study of this “Pervasive, implicit bias,” and demonstrated ways that the anti-God mentality is a systemic part of academia.  The result of this bias is that the most intelligent people (since they are likely to attend college and grad school) are exposed to tremendous negative pressure from both mentors and peers regarding their beliefs.

              The other side of the coin are those who dimly see but refuse correction so they may see well.  For most the truth is relative or not absolute.  Scripture is only as good as the one interpreting it and therefore becomes unimportant or subject to error. Perhaps they are more like Pilate, who for superstition reasons, viewed God and His truth with skepticism.   John 18:38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.  Maybe they believe their state of spiritual health is fine and they feel comfortable in their own religion, refusing to put on glasses and see the leaves on the tree. Luke 18:18-23.  Or maybe they’re just waiting for a better day, a more convenient opportunity.  Acts 24:25  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

              The good thing for me was that I had a teacher who cared that I couldn’t see and a mother who made sure I got glasses.  Too bad we can’t make people sit down in a chair and put on the glasses of truth so they might see the gospel clearly.

Darryl Fuller