Monday, October 28, 2019

Those Wasted Years

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I looked upon a farm one day
That once I used to own;
The barn had fallen to the ground
The fields were overgrown.


The house in which my children grew,
Where I had lived for years--
I turned to see it broken down,
And brushed aside the tears.


I looked upon my soul one day
To find it too had grown
With thorns and nettles everywhere,
The seeds neglect has sown.


The years had passed while I had cared
For things of lesser worth;
The things of Heaven I let go
While minding things of earth.


To Christ I turned with bitter tears,
And cried, "Oh Lord, forgive!
I haven't much time left for Thee,
Not many years to live."


The wasted years forever gone,
The days I can't recall;
If I could live those days again,
I'd make Him Lord of All.

--Author Unknown 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Forgiveness in a Courtroom


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On September 6, 2018, Amber Guyger—an off-duty patrol officer in Dallas—entered the apartment of 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean. She later said she thought it was her own apartment and mistook Jean for a burglar, shooting and killing him.

One year later, on October 1, 2019, she was found guilty of murder. On October 2, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Botham Jean’s brother Brandt was allowed to give a victim-impact statement, and he addressed Amber Guyger directly. The result was a beautiful Christian testimony—truly salt and light in a dark and twisted world.

“If you truly are sorry, I can speak for myself, I forgive, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. And I don’t think anyone can say it—again I’m speaking for myself—but I love you just like anyone else. And I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, but I presently want the best for you. And I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do. And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?”[i]

Amber and Brandt embraced with tears flowing in the middle of the courtroom. Moments later, Judge Tammy Kemp, returned to the courtroom with her personal Bible in hand. She gifted it to the officer, Amber R. Guyger, and pointed to John 3:16. Then, as the woman convicted of murder reached out her arms, the judge, still in her black robe and pearled necklace, wrapped her in an embrace.[ii]

A former Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years for murder in an unusual police shooting case. At the end of the trial, Judge Tammy Kemp gave her a Bible and a hug.

Some in the media these actions in the courtroom “crossed the line,” but no one could argue with the power of forgiveness. I have said many times we are never more like Jesus than when we forgive our enemies. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” Jesus cried from the cross (Luke 23:34).

Along with a personal transformation that comes from a conversion to Christ, forgiveness may be the most profound way that the Gospel breaks through the callousness and “get-even” mentality of our world. That’s because forgiveness is not natural; it’s supernatural. It takes the power of Christ working in us to release those who have hurt us. As C.S. Lewis has said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God had forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Friend, who do you need to forgive today? I’m not saying it will be easy, but with Christ it’s possible. Don’t carry that grudge, that pain, that burden any longer. Through prayer, express to God that you relinquish the right to collect debt on any level and to release your bitterness. You can enjoy the freedom of forgiveness today and see God work in your heart in amazing ways.

-DM   


[i] Justin Taylor, “He Asked to Hug the Woman Who Killed His Brother: ‘I Forgive You.’ ‘I Love You.’ ‘Give Your Life to Christ.’” The Gospel Coalition, 2 October 2019 <https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/asked-hug-woman-killed-brother-forgive-love-give-life-christ/>
[ii]  Sarah Mervosh and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, “Amber Guyger’s Judge Gave Her a Bible and a Hug. Did That Cross a Line?” New York Times, 4 October 2019 <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/us/amber-guyger-judge-tammy-kemp-hug.html>

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Scoffers in the Last Days


3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)


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Peter tells us that one of the signs of the times is that skeptics and scoffers will not only deny the Second Coming of the Lord, but they will ridicule believers who hold to Christ’s imminent return. As our culture grows darker and departs from the truth, we can expect to see this kind of sneering more and more.

Case in point—the 45th season of satire and sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live aired on Sept. 29, 2019. In the opening sketch an actor portraying Pres. Donald Trump is calling several political friends on the phone. At one point he phones a look-alike playing Mike Pence. Trump says to Pence, “Big Mike, how’s church going? You still waiting on what’s-his-face to come back?” Pence replies, “You mean Jesus sir?” Trump says, “Yeah, that’s the guy.” (To watch the clip click here)

It’s obvious that not only is this skit intended to be a jab at the Trump administration, but also it derides Christians who believe in the “blessed hope” of Christ’s appearing (Titus 2:13).

Not too long ago, I was riding around Asheville and I saw a bumper sticker that poked fun at the idea of the Lord’s return. The sticker said, “Jesus is coming back hide the porn!”

In many of the major cities in the U.S. and U.K. atheist groups have started billboard campaigns. Last Christmas one sign was put up in Times Square which had Santa Claus on one side and Jesus on the other with the caption, “Keep the Merry. Dump the Myth!”[1] Prominent evolutionist and atheist writer Richard Dawkins paid to have signs plastered on London buses which read, “There’s Probably No God, So Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.”[2]    

This is nothing new, for there were scoffers in the days of Noah. We know this because even though Noah was preaching that a great flood was coming and he spent 120 building an Ark, no one believed him enough to board the boat. 1 Peter 3:20 indicates that only eight were spared from the deluge—Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. Imagine staying faithful to the Lord for that long and seeing no coverts! Yet, the scoffers in Noah’s day were proved wrong when the waters rose, and God sealed the door of the Ark so they could not get in (Gen. 7:16).

Interestingly, Jesus said that the world would revert to the “days of Noah” just prior to His return, and that means an increase in scoffers (Matt. 24:37). Likewise, those who mock Christ’s return will be in for a rude awakening when He comes on the clouds of heaven, “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him” (Rev. 1:7).      

We could get offended at the foolishness of mockers, but every time we see scoffers making fun of Christians for believing in Christ’s return we should actually take comfort because they are unknowingly fulfilling the words of Scripture, confirming that we are indeed in the last days! 

-DM




[1] Ryan Grenoble, “American Atheists Place 2012 ‘Myth’ Holiday Billboard In Times Square: ‘Keep The Merry, Dump The Myth,’ Huffington Post, 11 December 2012 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/american-atheists-christmas-billboard-times-square_n_2273314.html>
[2] Riazat Butt, “Atheist Bus Campaign Goes Nationwide,” The Guardian, 6 January 2009 <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/06/religion-atheist-bus-campaign-national>

Friday, October 11, 2019

Trials and Tribulations

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Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was talking to a young missionary who was about to start work in China. “Look at this,” Taylor said, and then proceeded to pound his fist on the table. The teacups jumped and the tea was spilled all over the table. While the startled young man was wondering what was going on, Taylor said, “When you begin your work, you will be buffeted in numerous ways. The trials will be like blows. Remember these blows will bring out only what is in you.”

Taylor was right. Most of us think that trials cause problems, however trials actually reveal problems. When things go “sideways” in life, we find out what kind of person we really are. Are we patient or impatient? Are we humble or prideful? Are we trusting or fearful? We learn a lot about a person not only by their actions, but their reactions; especially when suffering comes like a wrecking ball. Job was a great man of faith. He endured a terrible, God-ordained crisis, yet at the end of his ordeal he learned some ugly things about himself that he had to repent of. “Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).  

Chief among God’s manifold purpose for our suffering is the cultivation of Christ-like character. Joni Eareckson Tada compares this process to sandblasting. She wrote, “There is nothing like heart-twisting hardships to strip off the veneer that you and I so carefully cloak ourselves in, right? Suffering is hard hitting, just like a sandblaster: it goes beyond the veneer, below it, below the fa├žade and the surface of things, sandblasting you to the core of who you are. When pain and problems press you up against God, it’ll strip away years of dirt. Affliction has a way of jarring and ‘jackhammering’ our character, shaking us up and loosening our grip on everything we hold tightly.” 

Does that describe you today? When you are reduced to the basics by suffering, and have nowhere else to turn, and when you are empty and exposed, God can then fill you up with Himself. James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, for you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (Jas. 1:2-4).” 

Suffering doesn’t teach you about God from a textbook, it teaches you from experience. And there’s nothing like the experience of Christ in you, filling you and shining out from your life. If you are full of Jesus, then when the trials of the world toss you about people will see Jesus spilling out.   -DM

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Scientific Facts in the Bible


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As a young man, Ray Comfort was an avowed atheist. He thought the Bible was a book of myths and going to church was an insult to his intellect. But through the loving witness of a surfer friend who shared the simple Gospel, Ray’s defenses were slowly dismantled. Critical to Ray’s conversion was helping him understand that the Bible was scientifically accurate. After evaluating the evidence for Christianity, Ray surrendered his life to Jesus in 1979. (Click here to watch one of Ray's videos)  

Ray is now the president of Living Waters Ministries, the author of several books including The Evidence Bible and has made hundreds of YouTube videos of his street evangelism. He notes that the Bible is full of prescience—that is, scientific statements made by Scripture that far exceed the general knowledge of the time. In other words, these scientific truths would not be confirmed for hundreds of years, showing that when the Biblical authors wrote they must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Here are just a few examples:

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Ray Comfort

Earth’s free float in space - Job 26:7 (written 3,500 years ago): “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.” Many ancient people thought that the earth sat on a large animal. Yet, way before space travel, the Bible proclaims that the earth sits in space.

A round earth - Isaiah 40:22 (written 2,800 years ago): “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth.” Though it once was commonly believed the earth was flat, it was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world. He wrote: “It was the Lord who put it into my mind…There is no question the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures…”

The Mississippi River dumps over six million gallons of water per second into the Gulf of Mexico. Where does all that water go? That’s just one of thousands of rivers. The answer lies in the hydrologic cycle—something not fully understood until the 17th century, but so well brought out in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 1:7 says, “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.”

Did you know the science of oceanography began with one man’s Bible study? Psalm 8:8 declares, “…and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.” Matthew Maury (1806–1873), considered the father of oceanography, noticed the expression “paths of the sea” in Psalm 8. Maury took God at His word and went looking for these paths, and his vital book on oceanography is still in print today. Man discovered the existence of ocean currents in the 1850s, but the Bible declared the science of oceanography 2,800 years ago.

Leviticus 12:3 commanded the Jews to circumcise their baby boys eight days after birth. Medical science has only recently discovered that blood clotting in a newborn reaches its peak on that day. That’s when the coagulating factors in the blood are at optimal levels: vitamin K doesn’t reach sufficient quantity until after day seven, and day eight is when prothrombin is the highest, reaching 110 percent of the normal level. Ancient Jews didn’t know this, but God did![1]

Are you convinced of the Bible’s uniqueness? Ray Comfort went from being a skeptic to a preacher, as have a host of others (Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, The Apostle Paul). Denying the existence of God will not simply make Him go away, it merely proves that no amount of evidence will convince you. -DM    


[1] Ray Comfort, Scientific Facts in the Bible (Bellflower, CA: Living Waters, 2001).