Archive for January, 2016

The Best Gift

I took my nephew, Ezra, “Gummy Bears” yesterday, a big box of green, yellow, red and orange colored gum drops in the shape of bears. He was not feeling his best yesterday, and for the first time that I can remember I had to coax a smile from him.  I’d just assumed that was his job, the provider of smiles and extraordinary happiness.  Even while sick with pneumonia, a collapsed lung, rash, and fever, he always smiled at you and greeted you as if he had not seen you for 20 years. He makes you smile! It is infectious! But not yesterday. Yesterday he seemed sad and tired.  This was disconcerting.  I sat with Ezra for a while and got him to eat a few bites of his lunch.  He didn’t want to eat much,   so I offered him a few of the “Gummy Bears” of which he took one and slowly chewed .  He offered me some, and I ate a red one.  I asked him if he wanted to play with his ball that Mrs. Jane got him for his birthday, but he didn’t want to play.  I even let him look at my iPhone, which I don’t like for him to play with, but he took it only for a second and soon put it down.  He was wearing a nasal oxygen feeder which was hooked up to a monitor, and every time his numbers would dip below 89, the alarm would go off.  This happened a lot. I would get up to turn the alarm off and then sit back down next to Ezra and ask him, “Are you OK?” He would nod his head and say, “Yeah.”  This went on for over an hour.  I must have gotten up and turned that alarm off a dozen times and each time asked Ezra the same question, “Are you ok?” When I came back to sit down after getting up again to turn off the alarm, Ezra reached out his hand to me and said, “Old.” I laughed and said to Ezra, “Yes, Uncle Darryl is old.” He held out his hand again and insistently repeated, “Old.” “Ah,” I thought, “He wants a “Gummy Bear.”  I offered him one to which he shook his hand and said, “Noooo!” Just then the alarm went off. I started to get up when he reached out his hand to me again and emphatically said, “OLD!” I held his hand.  He grabbed hold of my hand, turned his head and continued watching Alvin and the Chipmunks on TV. Breathing heavy, tired of lying in a hospital bed, feeling absolutely lousy, a seven-year-old child with Down Syndrome, pneumonia, a bad heart, poor immune system, and a wire from his heart surgery sticking out of his chest was now comforting me.  All I could give him was a box of gummy bears and fret about his condition.  With one hold of the hand he calmed my spirit and said with words that were not uttered, “It’s OK. I’m sick, but don’t worry! That alarm’s not bothering me, so please leave it alone, sit down beside me, hold my hand and watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with me!”  I did!  We watched, he giggled a little, the alarm went off, he sighed, we ate gummy bears and I remained calm and assured that he’ll be ok.  Sometimes it is better to receive a thing than give.

I’m reminded of a verse in Ephesians 6:7-8   Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,  (8)  knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Often we commend one another to be busy in giving as we should, for the scriptures plainly teach in Act 20:35 … ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”   Likewise, we should equally be ready to recognize and receive with gratitude, the blessings that God is sending us.

Consider the reciprocal effect of giving and receiving.  The above mentioned passage from Ephesians teaches that giving is simply a path to receiving.  When we make the effort to give of ourselves and do so from a motive of love and compassion, we equally should look forward to receiving wonderful gifts from God.  The passage is not saying that if we give $500, we should expect a return on investment of $1000.  This is the “prosperity gospel” that has been propagated by false teachers for eons and its only gift is one of despair and emptiness.   Giving of ourselves in service to God and others should never be out of a motivation that we’re going to receive something back in return.   What we should expect is spiritual wealth rather than material gain.  We should recognize God’s blessings and receive them with warm thanksgiving!  The most wonderful experience in giving is a profound blessing from our Heavenly Father who knows how to give the best gifts. (Mt.7:11). Sometimes it may even be the hand of a sick child that reassures and says, “Everything is going to be OK!”

Darryl Fuller

Ram in the Thicket

A few years ago Beth and I had the opportunity to visit England and while in London we took a few hours exploring the British museum.  I took a bunch of photos but the one I’ve choose to share really resonated with me. It’s a statuette of a ram caught in a thicket and dates to around 2600 B.C. It’s made of shells, wood, limestone and  was found in a Royal cemetery which I believe was associated with ancient Ur.  According to the British museum, this artifact is from the Mesopotamia region and dates to the early Dynastic III period or some 400 years prior to when Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees (Gen.11). ram in thicket The ram is not actually caught in the thicket but has raised up on it’s hind legs in order to peer at something beyond. It of course reminds us of the Biblical account of Abraham and Issac when God provided for the sacrifice and spared Issac. Gen 22:12-13 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (13) And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

When I was a kid growing up in Lakeland, Florida, brother Ferrell Jenkins was at that time working with the Lakeland Hills Blvd. church of Christ where we worshiped.  Brother Jenkins would make trips to the Middle east and bring back hundreds of pictures, like the one above and share with us.  Before the days of Power Point, brother Jenkins would bring in his screen and slide projector and take us to the holy lands. With each slide  he would explain where it was taken and how it related to the scriptures.  It brought to life the very stories of God’s word and helped me to understand that the things said in His word were true.

 Today, we can still enjoy trips to the middle east and other parts of the world by visiting his blog at https://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/

If you can’t navigate to it through that link try the one on my sidebar.

Darryl Fuller

We are Near

calendar1The consensus is that our Lord was crucified in the year 33 A.D.  As of this writing, which I am compiling today, January 1, 2016, there have been 724,291 days since.  At the beginning of this period of time, the writer of Hebrews gives us the introduction to the long novel we are participants of.

 Heb 1:1-3  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  (2)  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  (3)  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Since that day, the beginning of our days when Jesus was nailed to the cross and died for our sins, man has waited in eager anticipation for the end of those days and His subsequent return.  And waited! And waited! 724,291 days and counting.  Wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, countless major economic or social upheavals, catastrophic weather events have occurred but life continues. (Matt.24:6) Sometimes strange, sometimes profound ideologies have arisen.  Nations have risen up only to fall. Economies have amassed only to crash.  Philosophers have pontificated. Politicians have propagated. Poets have propitiated and still Christ reigns. (2 Pet.3)

Man has even in the name of religion done his best to change the way he approaches God by substituting, reforming, renaming, redefining who what and how we should worship God.  Truly the gates of hell have tried, but have not overcome the church of our Lord and Savior.  It remains and shall for however many days are left in “these days” and forever!

Perhaps we are in the middle of the “last days” or maybe we are still but at the beginning.  Remember these words from 2Pet. 3:8  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  It could very well be we are near the end of the “last days”.  Maybe you’ll recall that famous speech by Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
That speech was given in November, 1942.  There would still be 2 1/2 years of terrible fighting before the end of the end.

The thing for us to remember as we begin again the task of marking each day of the new year, is not to be anxious or dread the day, but rejoice and savor it.  Psa. 118:24  This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  For today is a day that the Lord still reigns!  Today is a day that we are still alive!  Today is a day we get to see or talk to our loved ones!  Today is a day we get to share the good news with others!  Today is a day we can help someone! Today is a day in which our Father has been patient with us and has given us another chance to be patient and love others.  Today is the first day of the new year, 2016 A.D. Today is the 724,291th day of the “last days”.  There may be 724,291 days left, there may be 1, there may be none.  Better to live for Christ and make the most of this day, and not worry about any other.

 Darryl Fuller