Archive for category Obedience/Trust

Who is Carrying Who?

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At Pepper Place Market in downtown Birmingham you’ll likely witness dogs in strollers and leashes on toddlers. My, how things have changed! I’m not exaggerating! On several different occasions I’ve witnessed this from the same family. The child is kept close with a leash and the puppy is riding in style.  Now, I for one, think the child-leash is a great Idea as long as it doesn’t choke or hurt the child. They’re usually clipped around the belt and why not let the child walk? It’s good for them and the parent’s back and sense of security. But the dog in a stroller?! Come on! I’ve also noticed that for dog lovers (and I do love dogs!), who walk their dogs in certain municipalities, they are required to carry a doggy bag for doggy poo. My question is, who is doing the walking and who is being walked?  Seems to me the dog has become the master!  I guess the quip is correct, the world has “gone to the dogs”.

                God expressed to us in Isaiah a similar observation. Isa 46:1-4  Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts.  (2)  They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.  (3)  “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb;  (4)  even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.  Notice the irony.  God asked the same question of his children; who is carrying the idols and who is carrying you?  God makes several comical yet eye-opening truths about idolatry in Isaiah 40-46.  The children of Israel had given themselves over to stupidity.  How can you have something crafted and made from wood and gold, lift it up and place it on mantels, worship and bow down before it, and yet it cannot move, speak or even save its own self from destruction and captivity?

            But we are more sophisticated and intelligent than they, some say.  Nobody bows down to false idols, no one sacrifices their children before the fires of Molech, no one engages in temple prostitution, no one engages in fertility rituals. No one plans, plants, builds, and harvests based on the sun, moon and stars. We are a civilized, well-educated, industrialized, technologically advanced, moral and ethical people.  We are not beholden to ancient and silly superstition.  We are the masters of our own domain!  God is either laughing or His wrath is about to break forth!

                Silly humans! It’s exactly when we think we are so much more superior and better than we have ever been, that we do things like put dogs in strollers and children on leashes.  We think we do not bow before idols, but go into a restaurant and observe how many people are bowed before their iPhones.  We don’t have temple prostitution you say, but some places of worship have become dens for homosexuals and fornicators.  It’s not God that brings kids by the thousands to mega-churches but the god of rock and roll and entertainment.  At least we don’t throw our children into the fires!  No, we just exterminate or sacrifice them on the altars of our happiness before they even have a chance.  We often wonder what’s wrong with the younger generation, while that generation is screaming and having temper tantrums asking the question, “Why couldn’t my parents just love one another?”  But at least we plan and move about without the aid of sorcerers, witchcraft, wizards, soothsayers and such.  Well, you may have me there.  After all we have grown somewhat and have made some advances. I can see the need for psychiatrists and Dr.Phil to help us with our depression and mixed-up minds.  We certainly need motivators like Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey to make us feel good about our selfish lives. I’ll need the “truth makers” like Bill Maher, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC to keep me informed and on the edge.  Yes sir! At least we’re moving in the right direction.  Well, I’ve nothing more to say.  The cat is demanding that I carry him to his dish and bring him food and water.

 

Darryl Fuller

Yesterday

010The hardest thing to do in life is look forward, focus on the path that is ever before us. The easiest thing to do in life is look behind us, to dwell on the “what if’s” or languish in the golden moments. Isn’t it funny how God put our eyes in the front of head rather in the rear? Perhaps what is even harder is to let go of the past, rather it was good or bad. The good times are like a bad addictive drug that makes your soul crave for that high. Your fear is that you may never achieve such moments, or will never find an adequate substitute. A great example of this is the former star athelete who longs for those glory days.  He tries to relieve it  through his children, but it is hollow and empty and leaves him even the more unhappy and discontent. The bad times are equally gripping. They bubble up like bad dreams and haunt our memories, locking us in a eddy that consumes our every thought and action. This psychosis is manifested by crippling us both mentally and physically. It brings about added stress and anxiety which in turn can cause all kind of physical ailments such as heart disease, kidney and liver failure, indigestion, etc.  Perhaps we can better understand the Great Physicians diagnosis of the problem Mark 2:17  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Letting go of my past, good or bad, is a difficult task, but the Good Doctor has said, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”Lk.21:28

Paul had the same difficulties and articulated them best in his Philippians letter.  If anybody should have a right to long for the past, someone persecuted and thrown into prison as was Paul’s case, should. I can’t even began to understand the stress and trauma of one being incarcerated.  The gloom of each day in a dark and damp cell.  The humility and loneliness that must accompany such times would all but beg to go back and live in a happier or gratifying moment.  Paul even ponders his former life Php 3:5-6  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;   as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Paul had a great thing going and in some way his voice in this verse seems to boast of his former self, but looking back is in the past and what lies ahead is worth his suffering now. It may have been glorious and satisfying to his mind, but Paul understood that it was in his past, and that for the sake of Christ he now regarded his glorious past as dung. The past, good or bad keeps us from the true focus of life and that is to follow Christ. Water in a stream does not fulfill it’s purpose if it gets caught in pool to stagnate. Water must move down the stream, and down the river into the sea to be recycled  Like water moving down the stream, so should our lives be in the service of our Master, to do His good will and pleasure and serve Him by forever moving forward. Paul states a little further along Php 3:13-14  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,   I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

You see! It wasn’t easy for Paul to do it either, but he did. He had to work on it daily, straining, pressing, a steady climb upwards. All these verbs express how hard it is, but with Christ it can be done. (Phil.4:13)

                Paul didn’t just have a glorious past to forget about, he also had a terrible and frightful past that clung to him. When you hurt other humans, that hurt you inflicted stays with you. I believe in some way the thorn in Paul’s flesh was his guilt of committing such heinous crimes against Christians. In 2 Cor.12:7-9, Paul pleaded with God to remove the thorn, but God denied him. God’s answer: The gift of my Son is sufficient. That’s God’s response to us as well; forget you past by relying on My gift to you, the forgiveness of your past through my Son. It turns out the healing power of Jesus didn’t end with His death on the cross, it’s still happening today. By looking forward to Him and focusing on Him each day, I too can receive this healing power, the power over the crippling and degenerative guilt of my past.  I only have the promise of this day so make it count and quit trying to put yesterdays torn out calendar page back into the book.

Darryl Fuller

Search and Destroy

King David, in four different writings, implored God to do the unthinkable! Test him! Psa. 26:2   Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.robot

Psa. 139:23   Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (See also Psa.7:9; Psa.17:3). Say what you will about David’s character, his covetousness, adultery and subsequent murder, but at his core, he had guts and faith.  I’ll be honest – I can’t think of a time when I’ve petitioned God to search me with such confidence as David.  I have gone to Him plenty and begged for His forgiveness or asked for His loving favor.  I’ve called on Him to cure me or others of sin and/or physical ailments.  I’ve even been guilty of being angry with Him and asking the proverbial questions, “Why?” and “For what reason?” I may very well pray for God to help me overcome some weakness that I know I need help with, but I stop well short of opening the door and letting Him barge in with the SWAT team, afraid of the collateral damage that may befall me.

It’s not known for sure when the 26th Psalm was penned, but most agree that it was before David’s great transgression.  This Psalm is probably penned in conjunction with the Ark being brought to the City of David. It is a joyful time, one of dancing and pageantry as The Ark of the Covenant, taken from its proper place for so long, once again resides in the tabernacle.  David longs to build a glorious temple so that the Ark can have a “proper” home. He petitions God through the prophet Nathan, but God’s answer is rather peculiar.    God will establish a house for Himself through David, according to 2 Sam.7:8-16, an everlasting house and an everlasting kingdom, but one not made with human hands.  What a strange answer to David’s prayer. David wants to build God a house, God says no! I’m going to build you a House!  Of course we now know this to be the church which David’s descendant, Jesus, built when He died on the cross; built on the foundation that God loves us, and cares for us.  He established a kingdom that shall last forever, because God knows us! He knows what we are made of! He knows our hearts and knows we need to be searched and have the sin within eradicated. Listen to David’s response 2Sa 7:20  And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! And then in;  2Sa 7:27  For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.  David had the courage to ask God to know him, to search him, because David trusted God and believed that God already knew him and his thoughts.  David had a close relationship with God, just like a father to his son, just like Christ and God, just like He wants with me and you.

Look at the verses of Psa. 26 and 139 again, and think of them this way.  You know me already Father, you know what I’m capable of, you know my strengths and my shortcomings, you know how I feel about you, search me and make sure nothing comes between us. Look at all that I am, and eradicate what is not part of who I am. df   Those are not fearful things but good things to ask God to do for us.

This past week a friend asked me to fix his computer. He’s been having trouble when he goes to file important paperwork online.  A rogue virus has attached itself to certain files and then proceeds to cause a number of problems. I thought I had cured the problem about two weeks ago, and for a time it seemed, the virus had been quarantined.  However, the other day, he began to have trouble again, and as I’m writing this article, his computer is once again in ICU, undergoing tests to try and find the germ that infects it.  I’ve done a measure of procedures this time around. I’ve downloaded Spybot, Malwarebytes, TSSkiller, ADWcleaner, Rootkit destroyer, Trojan Maleware, and still the elusive virus hides and does its damage.  With time and a little more  money, perhaps the infection can be cured.  It’s a benign illustration, but just like looking for a rogue disease within a computer, so our heavenly Father searches us to eradicate the virus of sin.

Like David, we should ask God to search us, test us, see what ails us and then rid us of any pestilence. We shouldn’t be afraid or  faint from the Great Physician examining us to find the sin which hinders us from participating in the race. (Heb.12:1-2).  We need Him to run those tests, seek out the problems and then counsel us on how we can improve our spiritual lives.  Just as we should not be afraid to ask our doctor questions concerning our health, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask God about something far greater, our spiritual well- being.

 Remember, as David recalled, God already knows us.  He knows more about us than we know ourselves and only wants what is good and best for us.Psa 139:1-4  … O LORD, you have searched me and known me!  (2)  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  (3)  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  (4)  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. It is through our choices that sin entered our hearts and hijacked our thoughts and intents.  All God is asking of us, is to give Him the opportunity to come into our hearts and eradicate the killing germ of sin.  He does that when we obey His voice, accept His Son, and are buried with Christ in Baptism (Rom.6).  That’s when we’re added to His church (The house He promised to build of David in 2 Sam.7) (Read Acts 2).  Let’s invite God to search our hearts. He literally died to tell you all about it.

Darryl Fuller

Rock Solid

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On a really wet and cold day back in October, one of those slow but soaking, into your bones kind of rains, we decided that a garage was overdue.  On the 25th day of the 6 month, in the year our Lord 2014, the foundation was laid. Just concrete on red clay and rocks. What’s the big deal you say? The truth is, we’ve been talking about a garage since we moved into our home in June 1992. For me personally, and of course I’m very sentimental, the laying of that foundation was a huge and monumental accomplishment.  During those months between October and June, planning, financial arrangements, getting bids, asking questions, deciding not to do it, re-deciding to go ahead with the plans, lining up contractors, drawing the plans out, just to name a few enlightened me to the complexity of building something as simple as a garage. Therefore when the foundation was finally laid, I applauded, took pictures, hugged Beth, scribed the date into the slab, and oh yes, paid the contractor.  I guess the thing I’m really trying to say is, the foundation is a really big deal! Consider that no other project the Israelites undertook is dated except when the foundation of the temple was laid.

1Ki 6:37  In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. (See also Ezra chapter 3).  In any case, laying the foundation is commitment. Once you’ve committed to such an endeavor, stopping or not carrying through would be futile since the hardest part is completed.

So much of the work in building any structure is the detail of getting the foundation right.  Jesus emphasized this in the  parable of the two builders who built on separate foundations. Luke 6:47-49  Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:   he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.   But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

I’m blessed to have hard rock to build on. Consequently, it made for more work in getting the land excavated, the site graded and the foundation dug.  However, I can rest assured that the foundation is built on solid ground.  We are all likewise, blessed with the bedrock of God’s truth. Spoken to us by the prophets and apostles who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, these truths assure us of salvation by God’s grace.  They demonstrate that God’s promises are trustworthy and therefore we must listen to the voice of His greatest promise, Jesus Christ. So much planning went into this promise.Eph 1:4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love.  So muchfaith and love for us, in carrying out the plan, even when His children were disobedient and didn’t deserve such a building.

 The land was excavated and graded smooth. Isa 40:4  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

  A line was laid down.Amo 7:8  And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them;

The foundation was laid!

Eph 2:20-22  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,    in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Are you building on that foundation?

Darryl Fuller

 

A few means a lot

It’s hard not to rely on numbers. It seems the larger a number, the more significance to it’s worth or importance. Disasters are weighed by the number of deaths.  The greater the capacity of a football stadium, the better the team. The greater the number of people who turn out to vote, must ensure a better elected official. If we throw more and more money at some problem, that problem will surely go away. Attending a church with large numbers must mean it offers a better spiritual experience.strength-of-seeing

Contrary to popular belief, God’s word is repetitive in examples of how wrong we are about large numbers. God demonstrates to us in  various ways, the need for us to rely on His providence rather than our might. When God destroys the world with a flood in Genesis chapter 6-9, only eight souls are saved. God raises up a nation to carry forth His plan through only one man; Abraham.  God saves the world from starvation by one man; Joseph. God destroys the nation of Egypt by two men; Moses and Aaron. Of the entire adult population that left Egypt (perhaps as many as 1 million), only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the land of promise. Gideon and 300 men defeated the innumerable Midianites.   David and his few men of valor, defeated the Philistines on several occasions. Elijah defeated the entire priesthood of Baal (450). The church was established and the gospel spread throughout the entire world by 12 men. The sins of all men were paid, and the victory over death was accomplished by one man; Christ our Lord.

The clear message from our Creator is simple; we can conquer and accomplish more with far less of us, and far more of Him. Elisha could see the answer to life’s troublesome dilemma; why do I feel outnumbered? Some days it does feel that way, like I’m the only one trying to do what’s right and the masses are more and more becoming corrupt.  It feels as if the entire army of Satan is marching into the city, ready to burn, kill and pillage and many are surrendering instead of holding fast. Elisha’s servant felt this same way in 2 Kings 6:15 when the Syrian army surrounded them.  For the servant and us as well, the numbers didn’t add up. Elisha, however could see, and prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes.2Ki 6:16-7 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Therefore, when we look back through the Bible and see the example of all those faithful men and women who apparently were alone, we begin to realize they weren’t alone, they had God and His innumerable host behind them.  That same army is there behind us.  It’s not the quantity of that which we need, it’s His Supreme quality. Rom 8:31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Darryl Fuller

So what is Truth?

jesus-pilate-1024x658So what is truth? Sometime early on a Friday morning, after a long night of prayer and suffering, this question was posed to Jesus. (John 18:37-38) The question is actually rhetorical in nature. Pilate is not duly interested in a philosophical discussion with the accused, he is merely cynical.  The absence of a debate on the subject is the mark of one who, living in a world full of lies, cannot fathom any man, especially one reported to be a king, holding the absolute knowledge of truth.   I can almost see Pilate looking off into the distant courtyard, as the delegation of bloodthirsty Jewish leaders look on in eager anticipation of his verdict. What is truth? Truth is not to be found among them for he sees them for what they are, power mongers, threatened by this lowly, humbled and despicable looking man whom they accuse of treason. Pilate knows treacherous men. He’s spent a lifetime putting down insurrections, and this meek lamb is no traitor to Caesar. “I found no guilt in this man,” Pilate exclaims, but soon after caves to their demands and seals his fate. For if you don’t really believe that there’s truth then the innocence of an accused man is not worth fighting for. Who cares? Who’s to say he is innocent or not. Without truth, the masses who threaten rioting could be right. What is truth?, then becomes the way out of every moral dilemma.

There are many periods throughout human history in which truth took a backseat to human reasoning and moral decadence.   The book of Judges is a good example of a period in which, Every man did that which was right in his own sight. (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).

Just before the children of Israel were taken into captivity, both before the Assyrians and the Babylonians, truth had been substituted for error. Isa 59:14-15  Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.  (15)  Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.

Even more frightening is the age in which we now live, the age of Post modernism. Emphasis is placed on power relationships, personalization, and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.  For example, if a child grows up believing that a Hindu god is truth, then it must be so.  Therefore, what we see and feel is truth, no matter that some ancient book may say otherwise.  God, of course, warned against this way of thinking, Pro 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

1Co 3:18-19  Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  (19)  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.”

Our minds, as God warns us, are very susceptible to hard conditioning.  It is described often as being hard-hearted or more commonly, bull-headed.  God reminds us to guard it very carefully, Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (see also Phil 4:7; Pro.4:23).    

Ironically, during this post modernism era, tremendous gains have occurred in the fields of neuro-biology and behavioral science. Specifically, doctors and researchers have come to understand that our brains, once thought to only be pliable into early adulthood, are actually very elastic and can be retrained or re-molded from old norms and habits. It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks!   The case to make here is that although our brains are more pliable than previously thought, they are indeed capable of becoming rigid or fixed in a way of thought.  One of the ways we can observe this (no pun intended) is in how we perceive our world through vision. Our minds have a way of tricking us into seeing things that are not actually what they appear to be, giving us what we call optical illusions.

Below are two examples of optical illusions.  On top is an American flag in false colors.  Look at the center of the flag for one minute, and then turn and stare at a blank, white paper.  What you’ll see is the American flag in its true red, white and blue. This is an example of how our brains have been pre-conditioned to see the flag in it’s true colors. You may have already observed that the illustration on the bottom appears to be spinning. I’ve not incorporated animation into this article, the circles are spinning because your mind perceives the arrows moving in the direction in which there pointing. (print the page on to paper and try it.)flag

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These are just two examples of many that illustrate how our brains can be tricked by what they see. Thus we see the importance of God’s admonishment to us to be very careful of what we see and test the things we see to know if they are true. 1Th 5:19-22  Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies,    but test everything; hold fast what is good.    Abstain from every form of evil. (see also 2 Cor.13:5; 1 John 4:1; Lam.3:40; Heb.11:6).  Some will say that our brains have been pre-conditioned to follow God, that we have been hard-wired to believe in Him and have believed in it so long that our brains have tricked us with this illusion of God.  However it is for this very reason that God so urged us to diligently seek Him and test the spirits to see if it were so.It brings us back to the dialog between Jesus and Pilate when Jesus said, You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth.”  What is truth? Jesus is truth! God is truth! His words are truth!  Everything prophesied about Christ in the Old Testament from Genesis Chapter 1 to Malachi Chapter 4 came true as God promised it would. That’s truth! Christ was no illusion, even the atheists today freely admit, He was real and lived in Judea during the reign of Augustus and Tiberius Caesar.  500 or more were witnesses to his appearance after the resurrection. (1 Cor.15:6).  His words have remained true throughout the ages and have brought joy and peace to many a lost soul.  Kingdoms have risen and fallen.  Kings and Queens have ascended thrones and descended, some to the point of losing their heads. Yet the church of our Lord has remained, through every war and transition of worldly power. No matter how much man has tried to change it or used it for personal gain and power, it has stood.  Even through the darkest of ages, men, women and children have gathered to worship the one true God and remember the death of His son. Wherever two or more were gathered, there was our Lord. The church of Christ is truth.

                It is incumbent upon us all to carry forth this truth.  We must not be swayed by the popularity of our time to dismiss truth as Pilate did.  Whenever men may say that there is no absolute truth, that truth is relative and changeable, that truth is what you want it to be, remember the words of our savior who said  I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6.

                There is truth, absolutely!

 Darryl Fuller

 

Super Glue!

I have a beautiful, antique oak chair at home that will not stay together. I’ve glued it several times to no avail. On its last trip to my shop, I took it all apart, sanded it, refinished it, glued it together, put new screws in, and mounted reinforcement plates under the seat. I proudly presented it to Beth, who of course praised my work. I put it back at its proper place around the dining table, sat down and tah-dah! It broke, again, in a different place.  super-glue-keep-away-from-children

Frustrating isn’t it, that for so many things in life, keeping them together is a never ending and often monumental task? Houses need constant repairs, children need new clothes and shoes every time you turn around. Just when you seem to get ahead on your budget a new obligation snatches whatever surplus you were able to squeeze out. Likewise, raising a family is met with many pitfalls and obstacles.  Christian families today are bombarded with issues of alcohol and substance abuse, sexual promiscuity,  rebellion against any type of authority (especially God), and the growing tide of moral decadence in general. Hard to hold it together. Sometimes it can feel just like that chair.  “I’m tired of putting it together again!”  “I’ve done all I could do!” “I don’t know what else to do!” “I’ll just throw it away and buy a new one!” “Burn it!”

Of course, those are the frustrations and impatience that come from a continual fight of doing the right and noble things. That chair is a heirloom and is greatly valued. It’s weak because it’s old, and just needs more care and attention (less weight sitting on it would help, too), than I’ve been willing to devote. The same holds true for our families and selves. We become frustrated when things seem to come unraveled and instead of taking a deep breath and thanking God for the (perceived) hysteria, some have actually left or destroyed their families or themselves because they believed they couldn’t keep it together any longer. Truth be told, they lost faith.

Here is a profound revelation from God in  Col. 1:16-17  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  (17)  And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (ESV)  The King James version reads, “And in Him all things consist.” First and foremost, we hold nothing together. It’s an illusion fabricated by Satan to think we are the masters of holding things together. The moment that illusion is shattered, is a moment we can lose faith in Christ, and that, is exactly what Satan wants.

If we truly want to keep things together in life, we’ve got to let go of this notion that “we” keep it together, and rely that “He” keeps it together. We’ve got to pour “self” upon the altar of faith in “Him”. Instead of trying to fix monumental problems at home or at work with “my” solutions, demonstrate to others your faith in “His” solutions. The troubles that befall this country are a lack of faith in God and our fellow man. We cannot fix the things that are coming unglued, but if God so wills, He can. If more of us showed our faith in God by living faithful lives, then the ones who have abandoned or lost faith in God, would be compelled (if they have honest hearts) to do likewise.  The greatest teachers or coaches, are the ones who practice what they preach.  Things are held together, when all the participants believe in the one who professes to hold it together.

God does care about the sparrow that falls to the ground, the widow, the orphan, and the homeless. He does not lose track of His children and watches over them with infinite, patient, Fatherly care. He holds the universe together by His mighty word of power (Heb.1:3). He also alters the status quo and, in response to prayer, frequently changes the course of entire nations.

Truth is, that old chair is solid oak, made by God. It was cut down and refashioned by man. Time to get some more glue and sit very gently.

Darryl Fuller

The Rock that is Higher than I

The first contract awarded by NASA for the moon project was oddly enough not to a rocket or spacecraft facility but to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in August of 1961.  Their assignment; a navigation system that would allow men to fly to the moon and back safely.  gyroThe reasoning behind this decision was due to MIT’s development of an onboard guidance system for aircraft that enabled a plane to navigate from Boston Airport to the Los Angeles airport in 1951, without pilot assistance.  The device that achieved this remarkable feat was called an Inertial Guidance Platform.  A fellow by the name of Charles Draper invented this rather sophisticated yet simple device.  Basically, it was a gyroscope and computer that utilized a stable point or level platform in which the plane or space ship could always rely. It was in essence a rock, unmovable, forever in the same position no matter how much the craft moved or wavered from its fixed point. In regard to the moon, men drew a line from the earth to the moon and back, and then fed this information into the guidance computer. Once the mission began, the guidance system was the stable rock and no matter how turned around the spacecraft became, it could always count on the rock to mark where up was, and where down was, where the earth was and where the moon was.

It fascinates me to no end how men, using their God- given abilities, can devise instruments and machines that mirror His eternal glory. The Inertial Guidance Platform of any plane or spacecraft is built on the principle of a steady unmovable rock. David long ago acknowledged what kept him on course. 1Sa 2:2  There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.  Through all the trials and heartache, the constant pursuit by his enemies, David always recognized a solid platform to which he could return 2Sa 22:2-3  He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,  (3)  my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.”

It neither mattered how badly David messed up, nor how far he wandered. If he trusted in the Rock and obeyed its true command, he could return to the proper course.  Psa 61:2  From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Occasionally, along the route to the moon, corrections would have to be made to get back to the rock.  The system was designed so that the astronaut could take measurements of the stars and figure out where they were in relation to the rock or line. Once he knew where he was in relation to the line, he could then make adjustments and return to the rock.  The rock platform on the Apollo Spacecraft was so accurate that very few corrections were necessary on all 7 missions, including Apollo 13.  It was a steady and reliable platform, one that could be trusted.  How much greater and faithful is our Rock who made the stars and has guided our steps and kept our ways?  Psa 62:2  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psa 92:15  to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Not one Apollo astronaut, who flew beyond earth’s orbit, was lost. In all, 9 missions went there and back. 27 men put their trust in the guidance system built by MIT and came home to tell about it. Now, imagine if we would trust in our Rock and adhere to His line and His guidance.  If we would just trust in His way no matter how far we think we are off course. If we would just believe in that true platform and not try to pilot the ship ourselves.  Whatever corrections we need to make, let’s make them. Let’s look to the Rock that is higher than I, and come home.  Psa 95:1  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Darryl Fuller

Open your Ears

plug_earsI read in a book recently of a brilliant but brutal man, who according to our standard of living had it all. He was not only educated in the finest of Northeastern schools, but was specifically tutored by an equally brilliant individual who was well educated in both law and philosophy. He grew up in a famous cosmopolitan city of the North and had a pedigree that was unequal among his peers.

This man was neither Christian nor Muslim, but he worshipped his God fervently and his religion was the very essence of who he was. He went about this country, defending his culture and religion adamantly.  He held lectures and seminars in places of worship throughout the country and with cunning lawful ability dared anyone to challenge his power. Over a brief time he grew in power and prestige among those who held the same views. As a result his popularity began to soar. He began to press the issues and demand respect for his teachings and beliefs even to the point of hurting those who disagreed.  Since he was educated at the most prestigious of law schools in the country, and his views empowered government officials he became a de facto spokesman and leader for the government. Without even being elected or appointed by high ranking officials, he was given carte blanch to do whatever was necessary to proclaim and promote their demagoguery. All the time his power, influence and position grew and solidified. He had it all!

Over time, because of his popularity and power, the equal powers in government, turned their eyes away when he began to brutally put down the opposition. He employed terror and dread in eliminating the threat to their power.  In the middle of the night he would have those who opposed him and his constituents dragged out of their homes and beaten or worse yet, killed! At first this was done in secret, as not to bring attention to their monstrous deeds, but as they became bolder, they gave sanction to his deeds and even wrote laws to allow the horror. With every ounce of his energy he struck fear and terror into the hearts of men and women and he grew mightier and wealthier with every person he destroyed. He had it all!

This is truly one of the darkest men who has ever been a part of our histories and would have continued on his blood thirsty quest had it not been for one extraordinary, eye-opening event, an event that would forever change the way he saw things, even his own identity and every aspect of his way of life.

It happened as he was leaving from one of his clandestine meetings with top government officials in a large southern city. He had just been assigned a new mission to go to a large northern metropolis and capture what they considered terrorist cells, and bring them back at all costs.  He was traveling with his security detail, via a highway that went into this Northern city when, as they drew near, he received a call. The call was so powerful that the entire accompaniment came to a complete halt.   He was dumbfounded and bewildered as this voice cried out to him.

His entourage was not quite sure what had happened, but they quickly surrounded him and proceeded again into the city. After some time, one of the so-called terrorists came and met with the man, reluctantly, but they had a quiet and uneventful meeting. It was really during this meeting that things changed dramatically for the man. He was led away somewhere for a brief moment, but when they returned, his whole demeanor had changed.

Instead of arresting the so-called terrorist, he hugged him, ate a meal with him, then sent his security detail away.  He tore up the warrants and left his group.  He was giving up all that he had!

The man of course was a lawyer from the Northern city of Tarsus, in the providence of Cilicia, his name was Saul. He grew up as a Jew, but he had Roman citizenship. He considered himself to be a prominent  Jew Act 22:3-4  “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.  (4)  I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women,

Rom 11:1  I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Although many people believe that Saul was converted on the road to Damascus, his actual transformation took place in Damascus. It was an extraordinary event that took place along that roadside, but I would suggest to you that it was no more extraordinary than when you and I read and hear the voice of God calling to us. It was bewildering for Saul when  he was struck blind, but the truth is he was already blind and God used his blindness to get his attention.

So many people have said, “If God would only show himself, then I would believe.” Men from every age and every culture have grappled with the dilemma of seeing in order to believe.  It is with that thought that many believe this vision of Saul was an eye witness event of Jesus. Somehow or another Saul could not change to become a Christian unless he saw Jesus standing before him.  To the contrary, Saul never saw Jesus, with his eyes, but he did see him with his ears and his heart.

Act 26:14-18  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  (15)  And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  (16)  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  (17)  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you  (18)  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

The scriptures are very clear about this.  Saul never saw Jesus here! Act 9:8  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And yet even though Saul did not see Jesus, he heard Him.  After he went into the city he received further evidence of his error through the gift of the

Holy Spirit and the voice of Ananias who preached unto him the gospel.  It is the combination of these three voices, the Lord’s, the Holy Spirit’s (the Bible), and a man proclaiming the truth bravely that moved Saul to arise and wash away his sins through baptism.  The word of God, the voice of God in a willing heart, changed Saul to Paul.  Saul died that day! Paul arose from the grave of baptism where the darkest man in history was buried.

Everything he had, his wealth and fame, place of honor and power he buried and counted it as waste and refuge (Php.3:8), all because a kind and gentle voice cried to him , ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is the same voice that cries to us.  No more or no less than it was to Paul, our Lord cries and pleads with us, “Quit hurting yourself and just listen to me.”

 

Darryl Fuller

By Faith…

One of the false notions of Calvinist teaching is the ideal or thought in regards to faith. Some have coined it Irresistible Grace, or the Enabling Power of Faith, in short it is God’s gift to men, the gift of faith. LeapOfFaith-300x225 Some receive this faith, some do not, thus the idea of predestination. In truth John Calvin (1509-1564AD) did not come up with this idea but rather borrowed it from, ironically, Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD). A great debate arose in the days of Augustine in regards to man’s free will, was he at liberty to choose to follow God or not. Men like Pelagius argued in those days that men we’re created by God with choice or free will, Augustine and fellow bishops of the churches in the western part of the Roman Empire argued that men had no choice. A lot of Augustine’s ideas grew out of Manoism and Gnostism, which the Apostle Paul and Peter warned extensively about. The core of these bishops teaching was that men we’re corrupted and had no choice, thus participating in evil was inherent and unavoidable. When Pelagius journeyed from England to Rome in the latter part of the 4th century, he observed that the bishops of Rome conducted their lives in a most horrible fashion. When confronted with their atrocities their response was “We know we shouldn’t but couldn’t help it, God made them this way and it was their flesh which was corrupted not their spirit.”  Pelagius response to this was full of Godly wisdom, “ If a man thinks he shouldn’t, he shouldn’t.”

This corruption of the early churches, with the teachings of Gnosticism, is what directly led to the formation of the Catholic church. 1200 years latter a reformer from Catholism, John Calvin, would use the very thoughts and ideas of Augustine to set the foundations for a lot of Protestant churches today. Same age old argument; free will or no free will.  The truth is God and His word teach that men have a choice.

The way to idenitify this free will is to look at the faith of men in the bible.  Did men act out of love for God and thus choose to serve Him, or was this faith imparted to man and he was simply a part of God’s choice. Let us consider Abraham and ask the question this way; did God enable Abraham with faith or did Abraham choose to have faith in God? Calvin and Augustine argued the former and used Romans 4 to support their argument. Rom 4:3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Their point is that God enabled Abraham with faith when he believed. According to Calvinist teaching, Abraham was chosen by God whereby God’s blessings to man (His son Jesus) would come through Abraham’s seed which I agree with.  Since God chose Abraham, He imparted or enabled him with this faith in order that God’s plan would come to fruition.  In other words, Abraham really had no choice or free will in the matter, and this I vehemently disagree with.

If God enables certain men with this gift of faith, like Abraham, when does this happen? How often does it happen? When Calvin argued from Romans chapter four, the context was in regards to Sarah and the promise of a child in hers and Abraham’s old age (100 years old) (see Gen.22).  According to Calvin it was at this time that Abraham was enabled with faith. However, the context of Galatains chapter 3 is the time in which God made His promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 when He left Ur of the Chaldeans. Abraham was 75 years old then. Gal 3:6  just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Then in James chapter two, James points out that when Abraham went to sacrifice Issac it was also counted to him as righteousness. Now, Abraham is somewhere around the age of 112-118.  Jas 2:23  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. So the question remains, when did God enable Abraham with faith? When he was 75 leaving home? When he was 100 and the promise of a son? Or when he was 115 and the request to sacrifice his son?  The answer is neither. God did not enable Abraham with faith, Abraham believed God and acted on this belief, that was his faith.  That was his free will. To choose God out of love. God could have brought Christ into the world through anybody – Mat 3:9  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. God did not make Abraham act on faith, that would make God a tyrant. God told Abraham what would happen in His plan and Abraham believed it and chose to live it. That’s faith!

We have a choice in life. We can choose to follow God and believe in His promises by obeying Him. That’s faith!  We can choose not. I beg and beseech that you choose to follow and obey God. I cannot make you! Neither will a loving God.

Darryl Fuller