A Life Others Love

Who are the important people in your life? Though you may have many Facebook friends and people you have met through the years, some people shine out above the rest. You might not know some of these people very well but they made an important impact on your life and you remember them with appreciation. Some friends you know very well and you value the memories you share and the bond with them. What do these groups share in common? Their lives have meaning and importance with you.

When I was a boy, there was an old man in the church who sat on the front row at every service. He was a frail skeleton of a man in a suit that seemed fitted for a slightly larger man and his smiling face was etched with the hard life of a coal miner. Every service his large Bible lay across his lap and he followed the preacher carefully. Unless he was extremely sick (his health never was the best when I knew him), he was sitting in his seat. He died decades ago, but I remember Brother Pope to this day. I remember his dedication and kindness. Any time I feel like not going to worship because I’m “a little sick,” I think of his diligence and it motivates me to quit whining and onto worship services.

There are people that, to this day, could call me at any hour of the day or night and I would drop everything to help them or their family because they helped me through a critical time in my life. They encouraged me or perhaps provided assistance to me in my time of need. They are not forgotten.

When we live the life of service to which we are called, we develop bonds with others and make the world better for having lived in it. We glorify Christ by our words and actions because we are doing what He would do. God does remember what we have done, but those whose lives were touched will also remember us–perhaps even when we have long departed from this earth.

When we live a life cherished by God and others, we will cherish it ourselves.

Are You Guilty of Christianity?

Every television viewing night is filled with dramas and real life accounts of crime investigations and court trials to determine if someone is guilty or innocent of a crime. Investigators will painstakingly study crime scenes for the least bit of information that might be helpful in a case.  Judges and juries consider evidence presented before them to see if the facts support a guilty or innocent judgment.  Sometimes the evidence overwhelmingly supports a judgment whereas judges must dismiss some cases due to insufficient evidence supporting a charge.

Many years ago, I saw a poster that said, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  This is a sobering thought for anyone to consider for we will all stand before God on the Day of Judgment to give an account of our lives, Romans 14:12.  It is better to judge ourselves now and make necessary changes to our lives than for God to condemn us as unprepared on Judgment Day.

If investigators were to interview your family, co-workers, friends, and neighbors, what type of assessment would they make?  Would they describe you as a loving, caring, and honest individual with strong moral values who serves others and honors God?  Would they recount instances where you have helped and comforted others, lived by godly principles and taught them to others, and would not compromise your convictions for any reason?

Would they laugh at your claim to be a child of God and recount many instances of an uncontrolled temper, foul language, dirty jokes, lying, and other improper behavior?  During Jesus’ trial when Peter was accused of being a disciple, he cursed and swore to prove that he did not follow Jesus, Matthew 26:74.  Peter apparently convinced the crowd with his behavior.  What has your behavior taught others about your allegiance?

Would they be surprised at your claim to be a Christian since you never indicated your allegiance one way or another?  I remember seeing a cartoon several years ago where a college girl was talking to her mother before leaving for school.  Her mother was concerned for her daughter’s reputation but the daughter comforted her with the words, “Don’t worry mother.  I won’t let anyone know I’m a Christian.”

Would the testimony of your family and acquaintances cause you to be condemned as a Christian?  Would you be free since your behavior is obviously not Christian?  Would the judge drop the charges since there was insufficient evidence to determine the truth?

What if, like the many television reality shows, you had cameras and microphones in your house.  Would the investigation yield information to commend or condemn you?

Would the investigation find you taking time to study God’s word and praying fervently (Daniel 6:10-12)?  Would the investigators see you treating your spouse (or parents) with love, dignity, and respect?  Would they see you rearing your children according to godly principles, taking time to teach them the importance of serving God and instilling the love of God in their hearts (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:6-9)?  Would they find your temper in control, your language edifying, and the mind of Christ in which you esteem and serve others (Philippians 2:1-4)?

Would they find you demeaning your spouse and children?  Would they see a Bible that remains closed between church services and days passing without prayer?  Would they find you watching offensive programming on the television or viewing pornographic material on the Internet?  Would they hear vulgar or hateful language spew from your mouth directed at your spouse, children, or parents?  Would they witness mental or physical abuse?  Would they see someone who is only concerned for material things and has no concern for the work of the Lord?

What would the jury decide after seeing the evidence from your home surveillance?   Would they determine that you are indeed a Christian for your most private and public moments betray your heart?  Would they conclude that you do make some errors but you quickly try to rectify them and you pray to God for forgiveness so you must certainly be a Christian?

Would the jury decide that you are not a Christian because, although you claim to be a Christian, your speech and actions betray your heart?  On the other hand, would the judge drop the charges because your home life does not support or dispute your accusation as a Christian?

You will be on trial one day.  You will have to answer for every idle word spoken and every action taken in the presence of a judge who has perfect knowledge.  Will the assessment be that you were a Christian, you sinned at times but you sought forgiveness from God and walked in the light?  Will God condemn you because you knew what to do but did not do it?  Judge yourself now before it is too late.

A Seared Conscience

I hate going to the dentist.  I hate the smell of the chemicals when I walk in the door.  I hate to sit in the chair and wait for the dentist as a convict on death row would wait for an executioner.  Most of all, I hate the pain.  I really hate the pain.  The dental assistant will usually come in before the ordeal begins and give me a shot to deaden the nerves around the offending tooth.  I’ve learned that their definition of “this won’t hurt a bit” and mine are quite different.  Though I hate the shot, I could not imagine the pain of the dentist’s drill without the Novocain.

No one, except someone who is mentally unstable, enjoys pain.  We seek to avoid emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual pain if possible.  Some pain is good.  Body pains can warn us of serious internal problems that need medical attention.  A slap on a child’s bottom for almost sticking a bobby pin into an electrical outlet is preferable to the child “plugging himself in.”  (Trust me on this one~)  Spiritual conflict, or a pained conscience, can help us choose good behaviors over bad.

God gave us a conscience as a decision making aid.  When we do what is right, our conscience will approve our actions.  When we sin, our conscience is pricked, we feel uncomfortable, and, hopefully, are motivated to correct our sin.  A bothered conscience has stolen many hours of sleep.  The conscience will sometimes relentlessly torture us if we feel we have grossly violated our core beliefs.  This is good.

We should not want to have a troubled conscience; on the contrary, we ought to live so that our conscience is relatively quiet.  When we do what we know we should do, our conscience gives us no argument.  Though the conscience is very important, it cannot be (with all due respect to Jiminy Cricket) our only guide.

The conscience is good only when the Word of God has trained it.  The Bible is the standard of right and wrong.  As we study the Bible and learn its precepts, principles, and the example of Jesus, we train our conscience how to judge right and wrong correctly.  Often the conscience will call to mind specific scriptures that we have violated when we sin, or will commend us with scripture when we have done what we should.

However, the conscience does not dominate our thoughts.  We can ignore its warning rendering it ineffective.  When I lived in Florida, it was nothing to see people ignore hurricane warnings when a storm was just off the coast.  Many die in tornados and hurricanes because they do not listen to the warnings.  We can hear alarms but choose not to react.  People may, through selfish desire, ignore their conscience and continue in sin until finally the conscience is silent. 

Paul warned of these people in 1 Timothy 4:2 whose conscience had been “seared with a hot iron.” If you sear your flesh with a hot iron, the nerves in that area will die.  You can stick the skin with pins but will feel nothing.  These false teachers continue in sin until their consciences, seared by disobedience, cease to be effective. 

Others sear their conscience through ignorance.  In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul warns that those who persist in ignorance of God’s will “lose feeling” and indulge in lewd behavior.  Neither the holiness of godly living nor the common sense of avoiding a self-destructive life motivates them.

Brevity of Life

Our community suffered a tragedy one week ago this evening. Seven cheerleaders from Hayden High School were in a car wreck. Three of the girls died and the others went to the hospital, most in serious condition.

My son remarked how one of the girls who died made the announcements every day over the intercom and was funny and enthusiastic. I heard the girls were cutting up and just having fun until the moment of the crash. In the blink of an eye, three young lives were cut short, and the lives of many other were changed drastically.

You should always be prepared to meet God at any time but live life as if you expect to die at a ripe old age. We cannot be so focused on the brevity of life that we do not enjoy our days on Earth but in that enjoyment we must be ready to meet God. Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1 encourages us to banish worry and anxiety from our hearts, be happy and pursue the things that make you happy BUT do not forget that God will judge you so choose activities that are not sinful. Grow in knowledge and draw closer to Him in your youth.

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