Archive for August, 2016

Bored?

sleeping-in-church

When Jesus walked into the Temple Courtyard in John 2:13-21 the sight of marketers selling their goods on sacred ground offended the Son of God to the point of a rare display of His righteous anger.  The gospel account says he made a whip of cords and then drove them out of the temple, including the animals. The very fact that he had to make the whip demonstrates that Jesus was not acting from hysterical rage, but was in fact planning and implementing His planned cleansing of the temple.  The filth that had become prevalent in the temple during Jesus’ time on Earth was about to end.  We are reminded in scripture that Jesus’ trips to the temple for the Passover Feast were very much an annual event (Luke 2:41). It is fairly safe to assume that Jesus had observed this wicked display of irreverence in His Father’s house for some quarter of a century. This was the first of other cleansings, including the last by Jesus on the very day of His triumphal entry in Matt. 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19.  The Gospels therefore, record Jesus’ first Passover after he began His ministry, in which He cleanses the Temple and His last Passover in which He cleanses it again.  John remembers this event by stating in John 2:17  His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  If only we had such zeal!

There doesn’t seem to be much zeal for anything anymore.  I find myself bored with many things that at one time I was very passionate about.  “The Olympics,”  I think, “Were better when we were the underdog and it was a spectacle to cheer against the former Soviet Union and East Germany teams.”  It’s become boring!  “The Indianapolis 500 was greater and more enjoyable when Jackie Stewart and Jim McKay covered it and the likes of A.J. Foyt, Bobby and Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford ruled the course.”  Now I don’t even care to see who wins through a 1-minute video byte on the internet. Boring!  Presidential race? Ho Hum.  Rockets flying into space? Yawn.  Not just speaking for myself, but I believe a lot of people have become bored with things that we should be passionate about, especially with elections that have a great deal of bearing upon our very lives.  There should be passion for our country and its history.  There should be enthusiasm for our local, state and federal offices.  We spend all of our energy and drive on entertainment and football, and we have nothing left to offer in any other arena, especially our homes, schools and most sadly, the house of God!

What has happened to our desire and love to be with God’s people and in God’s house?  It is amazing to listen to older church members recall the energy in gospel meetings, that lasted two weeks!  There used to be great zeal in coming to hear God’s word proclaimed for hours each night, in sweltering heat, on hard, wooden, fold out chairs.  We now have great comforts like air-conditioning, plush pews, good lighting, visually stimulating Power Points, good sound systems and yet we’re bored.  For zeal of God’s house are we consumed?

What has happened to our zeal for sharing time with one another?  Where is our determination to learn God’s word and share in that learning with others?  Where is our enthusiasm to be at every service and at every service on time?  Where is the heart-pounding feeling of singing out songs of praise to God, with everything we’ve got?   Is going to services so boring that we can’t tear ourselves away from work, television, playing,  sleeping to be there for only 4 hours a week?  Where is our deep commitment to speak boldly the word of God and bend back the ears of the naysayers, scoffers and cynics?   Where is the burning consumption for service in the kingdom of God?

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in His last few years of life speaks loud and clear.  He cared deeply about His Father’s house!  It was the most important thing to Him and He longs for us to care that deeply, too.   Going to God’s house (His church) is a great and honorable privilege.  He died so that we could.   We honor Him and show great zeal for His house when we, too, drive the thieves out of our hearts and out of His temple (2 Cor.6:16-18).  Then it may be said of us; “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

 

Darryl Fuller

Blind leading the Blind

 

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I’m often amused and perplexed when I see individuals in the mall or Wal-Mart, dressed as if they were still five year olds, putting on the first thing from the floor of their closet and feeling quite pleased with how they look.  My first thought that jumps into my brain, “Did you look in the mirror before you left the house?”  Perhaps they do look. After all, most humans stop to look, and if what they see is OK, maybe they even smile as their brain tells them, “Wow! You look marvelous!”  After all, why shouldn’t a 70-year-old woman wear the same hot pink, skin tight leotard that the teenage girls do?  The moral question here is not immodesty (which is off the chart), but blind foolishness.

Blindness to one’s wrongs, howbeit dress of the body or dress of the soul, is nothing new.  Matter of fact, it is one of the main reasons Jesus came into this world.  Luke 4:18-19   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, (19)   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” All of Jesus’ miracles involving the blind were to recover their visible sight. However, on one occasion, Jesus used the miracle to promote a point regarding our   spiritual blindness (John 9:1-41).  Here are the facts in this event: 1) A man was blind from birth. 2) Jesus gave the man his sight. 3) Some of the Pharisees (who couldn’t actually see) questioned and scoffed at the man, his family and Jesus for doing a good deed on the Sabbath. 4) Jesus condemned their blind and stubborn foolishness. John 9:39-41   Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (40)  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”  (41)  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

We live in a world today where rebellion and ignorance are applauded.  There are few boundaries or absolutes.  Sinful activity and wrong behavior are excused with sympathy that they are the result of a disease, an unsavory childhood, poor environment, racial prejudices, or social injustices.  Love says, “You’re wrong. Your behavior is sinful. Change, repent and you’ll be accepted.”  Blindness says, “You’re not wrong. Your behavior is acceptable. You don’t need to change. They must accept you or they are haters and bigots.”  Love is trying to help the blind before they go off the cliff.  The blind are leading the blind to the cliff and pushing them off. Luke 6:39   He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

 We somehow must get through to those who are blind to their own destruction.  How can we make them see that the path they are being led down is hopeless?  Here is the problem…the blind think they can see.  They’ve accepted their course and are quite satisfied to pursue its end.  “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. Lk.9:41.   Sometimes all the preaching and teaching will not suffice.  God even tells us that there comes a time when you will not convince a person who is blind, that they are blind.  Luke 16:28-31 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’   But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

What we can do, is first pray and seek that God turns their heart.  With God all things are possible and the prayers of a righteous person are very effective (James 5:16).

Second, we need to live quiet and righteous lives.  Many of those who have wandered down the wrong path have, years later, looked across the way to those who were living right and opened their eyes.  The Prodigal Son said ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. Luke 15:17-18.

 

A little dark spot on the Sun

Courtesy NASA archives

Courtesy NASA archives

The first telescope I ever had was a K-Mart Focal-24”. I remember opening the box and discovered a small disk lens that had “Sun-Filter” stamped around the edge.  I had been warned by the sales clerk, my mother, my father and my grandmother repeatedly; “DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! What a dilemma!  The very first thing I wanted to do was now look at the sun. With some persuasion and assurances from the manufacturers paperwork that the Sun-filter was indeed safe to use, I quickly assembled my new telescope and pointed towards the biggest star in the sky.  The filter lens was extremely thick with a deep green tint. It works in the same manner as a welder’s masks, which protects their eyes from blinding ultraviolet light. It also now reminds me of the veil that Moses must have worn to protect the children of Israel from the radiant glow of God reflected off Moses face. (Ex.34:33-35; 2 Cor.3:13) With the filter in I turned my attention to the sun and gazed with great wonderment at a large number of sunspots that covered the disk of the Sun. They are the first things that I had ever observed in the heavens with the aid of a telescope. Dark irregular shapes on a seemly perfect bright round disk. I have, at times, contemplated this as a unique comparison of ourselves (dark and irregular) swallowed up by the greatness of our Father (bright and perfect).

Upon closer examination there are some even more curious spiritual comparisons we can draw from the phenomena of sunspots. Turns out, sunspots are not really dark, they’re only perceived that way because of where there at; on the surface of the brightest thing in the sky – our Sun.  If you were to take these huge spots off the Sun and isolate them away from the glare of the sun, they would actual be much brighter than a full moon.

Compared to God, we appear dark and void. However, we are not darkness, but light, unless we choose to embrace the darkness. Luke 11:35-36 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. (36)  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”  Turns out sunspots are fighting for the light.  As has been observed, sunspots eventual wane and grow brighter as the surrounding surface of the sun overtakes the magnetic flux which creates the cooler sunspot.  Emptiness is filled with energy and substance, darkness is swallowed up by light.

Sunspots are cooler than the surrounding surface of the sun. By comparison, Sunspots average 5000 F and the surrounding surface of the Sun is 10000 F.  What you’re actually looking at is more of a deep hole of cooler energy falling as hotter energy is rising, or in the case of the Sun, bubbling to the surface.  On earth, this plays out as a tornado or hurricane. Sunspots are therefore gigantic vortex’s or magnetic storms.  As on earth, storms are temporary and do not last long (comparatively speaking), they falter and give way to the greater energy which produced them.  We often think of storms as some wicked rebellion against nature, bent on destroying the calm.  Truth is, as has been observed through the magnitude of sunspots, storms are craving equilibrium or a better way of putting it; Peace!  This is actually the status of humans in the world that God created.  We are constantly struggling to find our way or come to some peace. The result of this struggle to find peace are millions and millions of little storms.  These storms have been ragging from day one and God has provided us the equilibrium or Peace.  John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Submitting to the will of God is the quickest way of getting through the storm. Let Him have His way with you! Then you’ll no longer be a sunspot, but a part of His Glorious Son.

 

Darryl Fuller