Archive for category Motivational

True Talent

Pablo-de-Sarasate

One of the greatest violinists of our time is undoubtably Sergey Krylov.  His rendition of another great violinist, Pablo de Sarasate’s, Carmen – fantasy #1 will truly make your heart leap with each crescendo.  You can listen to it on YouTube, just put in the above underline into the search. Such artists rarely pick up this extraordinary talent overnight.  Most good violinists and other like musicians are discovered by parents or teachers at an early age and then those talents are honed and drawn out. Even among these, true greats are rare, but occasionally we get to witness or enjoy such “God given talent”.   Tiger Woods held this distinction in golf.  Pete Rose in Baseball. Venus Williams in tennis.  Singers such as Luciano Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso, Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald.  These names will stand out for eons because they had real, one-of-a-kind talent, talent you only get from the creator who made us.

God given talent is biblical and there are a few examples given to us.  One is in Exo 31:1-5 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  (3)  “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, (4) to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, (5) and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.   In 1 Chronicles 2:1-20 we learn that this Bezalel is in the royal ancestry of Jesus by way of Perez. Perez had three sons, Ram, Caleb and Jerahmeel. Jesus is a descendant of Ram and Bezalel is a descendant of Caleb (not the Caleb who gave a favorable report of the land).  This, therefore makes Bezalel an extended great uncle to Jesus. That is of course an interesting side note but that’s not the importance of Bezalel. His importance lies in his skills.  Not only was Bezalel good at woodworking, he also excelled in masonry and metallurgy.  Yet again his importance wasn’t just that he had these great skills at being a craftsman, but that he was filled with the spirit of God and possessed wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Tiger Woods was indeed a very talented golfer but as time would tell he did not possess much wisdom or understanding.  Now, his talent in golf suffers because of a continued lack of wisdom.  This is true of most great artists!  I believe that once a person is discovered and hailed for their great skills, they lose sight of how or who it was that gave them such.  Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Hank Williams, Vincent Van Gogh, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Karen Carpenter, George Gershwin just to name a few all died at fairly young ages and in unfavorable circumstances.   Long before they could continue providing the world with their extraordinary, God given talent, their lack of wisdom and understanding got the best of them.

                Bezalel’s talents were put to good use constructing and ordaining God’s dwelling place with the resources of the earth. Today, God uses our talents in like fashion for the ordainment of his dwelling place within our hearts through His son Jesus Christ.  When Christ ascended to God’s right hand and became Lord of Lords he bestowed on us certain gifts or talents. Eph.4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (13)  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

                Just as Bezalel fashioned the tabernacle, according to God’s instructions, to give glory and honor to God, so too we must fashion our lives to give glory and honor to God.   We do this by using the talents he has given us, of recruiting (evangelists), of leadership (pastors, deacons) of teaching, preaching, encouraging, building up the body of Christ. Together, we can and should be an extraordinary talent.  Filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Darryl Fuller

Wake Up!

sleepy

I was in another world, transfixed, almost hypnotized by the glimmer of lights.  An unconscious droning played in my ears, a melodious, humming lullaby.  I knew where I was, but then again I didn’t know where I was.  Time passes, but I’m not fully assured as to how much has passed. I am in a state of flux but my conscious mind is sound asleep! “Are you asleep?” cries Beth. “Wake up Darryl. Pull over and I’ll drive.”  I’m awakened! Just in time to hear the “Grrrrrrrrr,” of the warning grooves on the side of the interstate!  I’m awake enough now to act with reason and soon pull over to let Beth take the wheel. Perhaps one of the worst feelings is this subconscious state of being literally asleep while yet you are indeed operating a motor vehicle.  I once fell asleep driving on my way back to Western Kentucky.  I had a 7:00am class, but I left Birmingham around 10:00pm. By the time I got to the Tennessee-Kentucky border around 1:30am, I was driving but also in Nah-Nah Land. Thank goodness for an eighteen-wheeler who laid down on the horn! What a wakeup call! I immediately pulled over into the rest area at the state line and slept till almost 7:00am. Amazingly, my body made it to class, but my brain didn’t.

                I think the concept of sleeping while driving is a good illustration of the state we are in as we endeavor to live and operate in this world while fast asleep to our spiritual surroundings. Truly, God encourages us in many verses to wake up! He is constantly imploring us to arise out of our stupor and be watchful. Luke 21:36  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

                One benefit to being awake and alert is receiving the blessings that await us.  Peter, James and John were having difficulty staying awake on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured but when they awoke look what they witnessed. Luke 9:32-33b  Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.  (33)  And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah…  It truly is amazing how much one misses while sleeping!  I’m overwhelmed by how much more beautiful a sunrise is compared to a sunset.  It’s almost as if God designed it that way to teach us the importance of rising early.   There’s been a few occasions when Beth wanted me to watch a movie with her, only to have me sleep during the entire show. When I awake, she’s reminded me, “You should have stayed awake, it was a wonderful story.”

                Consider also the times when we naturally need sleep but should stay awake. Again, the disciples, Peter, James and John, are tired and weary from the long day of preparation for the Passover. It is quite natural that any man would want to sleep, especially when the conditions are favorable. However, it is a critical moment! And Jesus implores them to think about how great a danger it is to sleep! Mat 26:40-45  And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? (41)  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak…(43) And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy… (45) Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Sleep happens sometimes so very naturally and seems nearly impossible to resist, like driving at night or after a long hard day.  Jesus, however teaches us that you can sleep later! There are times when you must stay awake and be vigilant! Satan is waiting for us to go to sleep!  He wants us to sleep.  He knows that when we are asleep our minds are checked out, we are vulnerable to deception and poor judgement.  When we are sleeping is a time we can run off the road and be destroyed! So then our Savior implores; “WAKE UP!”

 

Darryl Fuller

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

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

The Power of Confidence

churchtrustalWhen we observe Peter in the gospel accounts before Jesus is taken before the rulers and then crucified, we see an energetic, optimistic and boldly confident individual.  As the crucifixion unfolds, that air of confidence vanishes.  Now we see Peter afraid, confused, and even angry and his boldness shattered by his master’s humiliation.  Life has a way of changing our demeanor, within minutes.  We can, like Peter, be bold and sure of ourselves, ready to wield the sword on our enemies one moment, then timid, afraid and even vulgar the next.  What we need is a well of power that sustains us through triumph as well as tragedy.  We need an everlasting hope that energizes us the most when our confidence is at its lowest.  Good News! That power is available and free, given to those who will obey the one who gives it freely.Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

            Toward the end of World War II, when we had defeated Germany but were still at war with Japan, President Truman made a trip to Potsdam to meet with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. This was the first meeting of the “Big 3” since Roosevelt had died a few months earlier.  President Truman was a man of dapper appearance and could hold his own in any crowd, but he did not have the aura or presence of power that Roosevelt carried.  This was noted by both Churchill and Stalin in their diaries and memories.   Truman appeared to Stalin as someone who was timid, fidgety, and lacked confidence.  Churchill commented that Roosevelt was confined to a wheelchair but stood taller than most and Truman stood with most men but should have been in a wheelchair.  On July 21, 1945, that changed.  General Grove, head of the Manhattan Project, detailed in a letter for the President, the success of the first Atomic bomb detonated in the New Mexico desert five days earlier.  The news was both terrifying and electrifying.  It told of a weapon more powerful than all the armament ever assembled and put together at one time.  Now the demure President Truman, held what no other leader ever held, complete and total destructive power.  With this newfound power came tremendous confidence.  It is well documented that the next day, Truman brimmed with bravado. This was a whole new man; vigorous, confident, stubborn, unbending.  “He told the Russians just where they got on and off and generally bossed the whole meeting,” said Churchill. Give a man the biggest gun, he’ll let you know he’s not afraid to use it.

                Greater still, the power of the gospel which brings life rather than death.  With this unlimited power, Peter and the other apostles are bold and exude confidence.  In Acts 2, Peter addresses the huge gathering and faints not when they are accused of being drunk.  He boldly proclaims the children of Israel’s guilt in crucifying Christ.  He confidently commands the beggar in Acts 3 to “Look at us” and then heals him of his infirmity from birth.  He unashamedly preaches this gospel, in the name of Christ to those in the temple and exhorts them to repent.  When they are carried before the rulers, he again charges them with the death of Jesus (Acts4:13).  They are thus threatened and beaten but not deterred. (vs.19)

How powerful is the gospel?  Consider our illustration above for a moment.  Once Truman knew he held the ultimate weapon, he brimmed with confidence.  A big gun can do that for a man.

Once Peter understood the truth of the gospel, no threat to destroy him could stop him from proclaiming the good news.  Moral of story; Boldness with the ability to annihilate is no match to boldness in face of annihilation.  Let us have confidence in proclaiming the Good news!

Darryl Fuller

I can do all things

A woman who uses a wheelchair said she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands and shovel her own path on sidewalks in Braintree, Mass.  Now her actions are inspiring others to get out and do thesame.

Crystal Evans, 33, suffers from a neuromuscular disease, and is regulated to a wheelchair. This has not stopped her from digging in and helping herself and others overcome the problems of life.

She has spent more than 100 hours since January making the sidewalks in her neighborhood passable, which, in turn, is inspiring others to help out.WomanShovelsSidewalks022315

Crystal is just one example of many who choose to act instead of being the victim. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned by the Romans when he wrote the Philippian letter.  Even though Paul was a prisoner, he was full of joy. In fact, joy is a key word in Philippians. This word, and other forms of it such as “rejoice,” is found at least fifteen times in the four chapters of this epistle. Philippians teaches us that Christians can be happy even in the midst of hardship and suffering. We are joyful because of the hope we have in Christ.  Phip. 4:11-13   Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  (12)  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  (13)  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Having the will and courage to face the challenges that await us each day is a clear demonstration of our faith in Christ.  I know nothing of Ms. Evans’religious beliefs, but her attitude of taking action for the good of others, instead of sitting in her wheelchair at home, feeling sorry for herself, teaches us the kind of faith and tenacity we should all aspire to demonstrate.

Often we are overcome with a sense of gloom because of the apparent darkness that has descended over our times.  We have withdrawn to our homes, afraid to engage the world around us for fear of some evil befalling us.  We sneer at the ungodly, secretly hoping like Jonah that God will quickly rain down His wrath upon the wicked and whisk us away to Heaven.  We of course look forward to Heaven, but in the present world we must proclaim to those around us, the joy that is within us, the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.   We cannot be afraid of the potential for harm. We must act for the good of our souls and the good of others around us.  Pro 22:13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”

Ms. Evans wasn’t plowing snow as a way of grandstanding, either.  Her motivation was to clear a path in order for her to get to the post office.  Instead of relying on others to do a rather simple task, she took action and discovered the power to not only help herself but a way to help others.  When we decide to go forth and overcome the obstacles, we too may discover that we can do a lot more than we thought. We can help others in ways we never imagined.   Isa 41:10  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                Thank you for the inspiration Ms, Evans! Your snow plowing has cleared sidewalks a lot further than Braintree, Mass.

 

Darryl Fuller

Hard to Compare

Every year around my birthday, I go on a little quest to find a star, visible to the naked eye. This star’s light is as old as I am. This year I chose 104 Tauri, a yellow star in the constellation Taurus, the Bull.  It hovers, apparently alone, halfway down the left horn of Taurus, and is clearly visible this time of year. It is fairly close to the constellation, Orion. heic0515c

The star is approximately 52 light years from earth (OK, now you know my age), which means the light you see from this star began its wave ride across the cosmos at about the time I was born, 1963.  It’s kind of cool and albeit somewhat nerdy,  but a physical, tangible, radioactive particle of light started its journey at the same time I started my journey. The other night we kinda caught up to one another. It’s probably safe to say that in my lifetime I’ve traveled (planes, train and automobiles), a little less than  1,000,000 miles.  Whew! A lot of miles, and I believe this to be a fair but conservative estimate. The light from 104 Tauri, has made an incredible   305,000,000,000,000 mile journey! In other words it’s traveled 305 billion times more than I traveled, and I’m still within 600 miles from whence I started.  Compared to this light, that is as old as I am, I’ve done nothing but travel in circles, meandered here or there, walked a little, rode a lot, slept a lot, goofed off a lot.  While that light traveled 186,000 miles per second, I tried to figure what word to type next. In the time it will take for me to compose this article, that light will have covered another 2,000,000,000 miles.

As we get older, most of us tend to do this insane self-deprecating inventory of “Who am I”, and “What have I done”, with my life.  Why do we compare ourselves with what we perceive are extraordinary people, places or events?  We look at the rich and famous and try to evaluate our lives against those and it doesn’t seem to compare.  All along we are trying to compare apples to a whole grove of oranges, my journeys to that of a celestial object 50 light years away, my house to someone’s mansion, my car to a Ferrari, my accomplishments to Condoleezza Rice, etc.

In essence we are judging what others have done or accomplished and then comparing our lives to that judgment.  Instead,  we should first humble ourselves before God. Jas 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Secondly, we need to understand that we’re not here to accomplish worldly fame or achievements. We’re only here for a short time and during that time we are to do His will. Jas 4:13-17  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– (14)  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (15)  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 

                Lastly, if we’re going to compare our lives to someone, let’s compare them to Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Let’s try to measure up to His expectations, which is to believe in Him and do His will. By my recollection, He probably traveled less than 5,000 miles, on foot! Yet within those miles He did more than any man and provided us the means of traveling further than the light from the farthest star, forever.

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

1st Day of the 1st Month

Today marks the 3rd day of the first month, 2014. I began a lot of new things today. I pulled down and stored away seasonal decorations (as per Beth’s instructions). I got rid of all the leftover sweets and junk food.  I got back on my bike and rode 10 miles.  I paid bills, began paper work for filing taxes, cleaned out some old files. I started a new daily  Bible reading program this morning and interestingly enough came across this passage; Gen 8:13  In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. Seems the first day of the first month for Noah was a day to start anew as well.shutterstock_62795851

We do this every year at this time– start anew. We try our best to reinvent it somehow.  I’m going to do better this year!  I’m going to save more, lose less, give more, spend less, laugh more, cry less, walk more, watch less, listen more, talk less, diet more, eat less, throw away more, horde less.  For the first month of the year and maybe even into the second month, we are successful, but somewhere around the end of the second month we begin to lose our resolve.  We slowly and inevitably, like a car battery in really cold weather, lose our cranking ability.

Even for Noah and his family, starting anew must have been intoxicating; a new world, a new start, fresh clean air and a new life. There surely was the feeling of freshness after being in a closed up environment for over a year. God gave them new duties, a new covenant, a new home with new rules and regulations. He provided them with new freedoms and in return Noah gave to God new sacrifices and a renewed commitment. However, as God’s word tells us, it wasn’t long before the newness wore off, and sin returned to deter him of his commitment and trust in the One who does not change. Our Father needs no rejuvenation; He is eternally glorious and everlastingly new.

God provided for man the very thought and process of this rejuvenation.  In the Old Testament we see its manifestation through the yearly remembrance of the Passover (Lev.23:5).  It was for the Hebrews a perpetual event that was to be celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month, every year. It was to remind the people of their rescue from the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians, which occurred in the first month (Num.33:3).  Shortly after their rescue, God directed them to set up the Tabernacle in the first month (Ex. 40:17). Then, when the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land, it also occurred in the first month (1 Chron.12:15).  These all were of course shadows of the rejuvenation we now receive through Christ our Lord. We celebrate and remember our rescue from sin every first day of the week (1 Cor.11:23-25; Acts 20:7).  We get to start everyday anew, if we are willing to repent of our sins and seek His loving favor. (2Tim.4:18; James 5:11).

Since God has provided us with this wonderful opportunity, to start anew, maybe we should think and plan more on what sacrifices and commitments we’ll make to Him this New Year.

This year I’ll give to God more of my time in daily devotion to study His words. I’ll seek to read from His scriptures every day.  It only takes fifteen minutes to read six or seven chapters, and within a year you’ll have read the entire Bible.

This year I’ll commit to being at every service, not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

This year I’ll commit to having a Bible study in my home, with a friend, neighbor or kinfolk. Not for the purpose of “proselytizing”, but simply sharing the hope within me and letting God do the rest.

We can indeed do more in 2014 of giving more of ourselves to God and less to ourselves.

Waiting for Pecan Pie

Pecan-Farm-Orchard1My favorite pie? Pecan pie! I do believe that it’s the best part of the holiday season. Now, growing pecans is tough!  It requires a great deal of patience and fortitude.  A typical pecan tree that is indigenous to the southeast, will take on average, about 10-12 years to produce small yields (100-150 lbs/annual), and 15-20 years to produce fully (400-500 lbs/annual). If your only source for your pecan pie is the tree you just planted, you’ll have to sit at the table for 20 years! However, if you’re steadfast, that single tree can produce 400-500 lbs of pecans every year, for the next 300 years! That’s a lot of pecan pies!

In Acts the 11th chapter we are introduced to a true benignant named Barnabas, whose steadfast devotion to God proved profitable. Act 11:23-24 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.  Barnabas was planting pecan trees.  Not, mind you, trees that were cultivated and bred from the root of Jesse (Jews), but foreign trees, that were raised in the land of the Greeks and Phoenicians (Gentiles). Then, he had the fortitude and foresight to find Paul and tend to that tree with resolve so that it would grow, flourish and produce fruit for hundreds of years to come.  Together, they would help plant many trees throughout Syria, Galatia and Cyprus. Paul himself would cultivate and plant many more trees throughout the world, churches of Christ that withstood the test of time, flames and famine to yield produce year after year. These included churches such as Antioch, Paphos, Laodicea, Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Athens, Berea, Thessalonica, and even Rome.  These huge yielding trees produced fruit that bore more in places like, Alexandria, Cartridge, Sardis, Philadelphia, Pergamum, Colossae, Hierapolis, Hippo, and many more. So, by the end of the second century, there were literally millions of Christians throughout the Roman world and a great portion of them could say that they were the produce of the tree that Barnabas planted in Antioch many years before. Barnabas, who encouraged the few in Antioch, to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.

Sometimes we forget that it’s not the tree we must make grow, but rather the increase in faith in God that He’ll make it grow. We have to have faith in that which God has already made. Sometimes we see individuals around us and think they’ll never make it. They’ve got too many problems and too many issues. Perhaps we look at young saplings just barely out of the ground and we lack the patience to see them 20 years down the road, producing abundant crops. Maybe it’s not the tree we’ve lost patience in but rather the infrastructure needed to help it grow. We grow faint from constantly having to water it and fertilize it. Our patience runs short when heavy storms come and damage the trees or pestilence and disease infest its roots.  Often we become discouraged in tending the grove and feel betrayed by our fellow workers who have grown lax in tending to the trees themselves.  Winter comes and we must work even harder to keep the immature sprouts from frost and exposure. In all this we must not grow weary in the work, for at the right time, our labor will not be in vain, it will produce! God said so! Gal.6:9

A year into WWII, Winston Churchill gave one of his finest speeches at Harrow School. An excerpt from that speech is eloquent and fitting for inspiration of resolve:

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never -in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

                                                Winston Churchill

Let us plant, water and care for the trees that God has made, and never give up on them.

Darryl Fuller