Impressionable Lumps Of Clay

  Someone once said, “You are what you have been becoming.”  It’s true; you did not become what you are by any single influence.  (e.g. being with the kids in your neighborhood while you were a child, going to a particular school or church, taking a particular vacation, etc.)  You are what you are today, because of the sum of the experiences and lessons you have learned along the way.  Every event in life has made its impression on you.  Every experience has helped to form the man or woman you have become.

  Our most recent Vacation Bible School reminded me of just how impressionable we all were as little children.  Children have been compared to little sponges ready to absorb and assimilate all sorts of data and experiences into their personality and character.  Someone else said, “They are like little pieces of clay in the hands of the potter.”  In a very few years, they will be able to say, “I am what I have been becoming.”

  My purpose in sharing these observations about our little lumps of impressionable clay is not so much for the kids; they don’t read the paper.  My hope is to encourage you as parents and grandparents.  You are the master potters; you have more opportunity to shape your children than anyone else ever will.  What an awesome responsibility, but what an awesome privilege.  I hope that you take it seriously.  Who can tell just now, what your child might grow up to be?  Perhaps he or she will make national or international news.  Will they be terrorists, traitors or CEOs of major corporations?  Will their name strike fear and dread in hearts of those who hear them, or will they be remembered as public servants, inventors of good things, and leaders of men?

  The Bible is the Word of God.  Consider what He, the Author of Life, has to say about raising the next generation, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).”  God defines “the way he should go” in His Word.  God bless!

Mutually Exclusive

  It may be true, but doesn’t it sound silly to say, “If you are a Democrat, you are not a Republican.”  By virtue of definition, if you are the one, you cannot be the other.  We might say that the two are mutually exclusive.  Life is full of examples of mutually exclusive things: you cannot be a law abiding thief, you’ll never meet a skinny fat man and there are no peaceful wars, … I’m sure you get the point.

  Did you know that there are mutually exclusives in the Bible?  For example, we know that God gave the Law to govern the lives of His people.  To please God required perfect adherence to the Law, out of a perfect heart.  What many people don’t realize is that God’s purpose in issuing the Law was to demonstrate that man, in his fallen state, was not capable of pleasing Him.  Every human being has miserably failed.

  God’s plan was, and is, that we come to grips with the simple fact that we are hopelessly lost in our sin, and unable to remedy the situation by our own works.  We need help!  And time is short, because our sin will destroy our lives here and afford us a place in eternal Hell.

  But there is good news!  What we are unable to do by works,  God has accomplished by grace (a gift).  Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day.  He lives at the right hand of God the Father, to be Savior, Intercessor, and Advocate for everyone who will come to Him by faith.

  Unfortunately, men and women down through the ages have missed the point.  Rather than accept God’s gift through faith in Christ, they continue to try to please God by their own works.  My point is simple; grace and works are mutually exclusive.  You can not work your way to heaven and receive it as a gift at the same time.  God’s way, the only way, is by grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).”

A House Divided

  In late January, our President will likely deliver the State of the Union Address. The world will listen again as America both applauds and ridicules the position of our leaders on issues like defending freedom on foreign soil, the sanctity of life, caring for our elderly and educating our youth. It is not my purpose here, to offer a discourse on any politically motivated topic, but to point out that which must seem so obvious to the world, America is a house divided.

  We live in a land that no one can deny is God blessed—but not forever. Our liberties came to us at great cost to those who hungered for them and loved them more than life. These same individuals set out to establish what has been called, “One Nation Under God.” Contrary to popular opinion, it is not these great men who made our nation great; it was the Great God of these men. The fact is, that these men were great men because they had a great God. Men cease to be great when they cease to walk with God, and great nations fail for lack of great men.

  My friends, the dividing lines in our nation are not drawn between political parties, they are drawn between good and evil. America will continue to be blessed as it continues to be good, but our unity on the side of righteousness and goodness is weakening. We are indeed a house divided, and God has said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Matthew 12:25).”

  Lest I appear to be the prophet of doom, let me quickly add, There is hope! Our nation can certainly be united again under God. The burden though, is not on those who have strayed, but on those who remain “under God.” The solution is stated by God Himself, who says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14).”

New Beginnings

  What is it about the new year that makes it worthy of celebration?  We often hear the word resolution in conjunction with this time of year.  There are those who resolve to lose the extra poundage that secures their place in the ranks of the over-nourished.  Many will resolve, again, to forsake an old habit, or to establish a new routine.  Whatever the commitment, we content ourselves with the idea that a NEW year will afford us a new beginning— and so we celebrate.

  Do you suppose that God celebrates the new year?  It would not be hard to demonstrate from scripture that God is unaffected by the passage of time.  Man’s little gimmicks and mind games to mark the days do not impress the Almighty, and the new year does not afford us a new beginning in His eyes.

  There is however hope for those who want to start over.  God is Himself the author of new beginnings.  For those who have lived life to this point with no knowledge of His purpose for them, God’s new beginning is such a magnificent event that He refers to it as being “born again.”  Interested?  All that is required on your part is a desire to escape the bondage and consequences of sin, and a sincere confidence in His promise to save all who believe.  According to the Bible, we are all sinners and Christ came into this world to pay the penalty for sin through His death on the cross and victorious resurrection.

  To those who have already placed their trust in His saving grace, our Heavenly Father offers a new beginning whenever it is needed.  When sin destroys your joy and effectiveness, and makes you feel like life is no longer worth living, it is time for a fresh, clean start.  God’s Word tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9).”

  Don’t expect life to change because it is January of a new year.  Look to God, the Author of New Beginnings!

What’s In It For Me?

  Many of us still view the Christmas season as a time to celebrate the first coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to the stable in Bethlehem.  We know that He was and is God in the flesh.  Others view Christ as a historical figure whose memory has outlived its usefulness.  Some would do anything within their power to remove every mention of His name from modern society.  Without question, there are two diverse perspectives of Christ.

  At first glance, the biblical story of Jesus’ birth seems to suggest that everyone was awaiting deliverance that would be realized after the coming of Messiah (God’s Anointed).  But, even in that day, there was diversity of opinion as to what this deliverance would entail.  For some, Christ’s coming would mean deliverance from the political tyranny of Rome, while a few focused on prophecies that spoke of deliverance from sin.

  In Luke 2, Mary and Joseph met two such people when they traveled to Jerusalem where they would present the baby Jesus before the Lord for circumcision, as required by the Law.  There was an old man, Simeon, and an old prophetess, Anna, who understood this baby to be, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32).” They believed He was God’s gift to all who “looked for redemption. (Luke 2:38).”

  Certainly, the secular celebration of Christmas has a way of promoting a What’s in it for me? attitude, with its focus on material.  But, as Simeon and Anna have shown us, when it comes to Jesus, the benefits of Christ will not be realized first in the physical, material realm.  Those who take that perspective will be eternally disappointed.

  So, What’s in it for me?  We celebrate Jesus, In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14).  Jesus told his followers, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).”  To know Jesus is to know God’s forgiveness, peace, purpose, power and plan!  What a Gift!  What a God!