The Reason for the Season

christmas-tree2 Christmas is here once again, and many of us are busy making those last minute shopping trips to find just the right gift for that special friend or family member. And whether you live in an area with a snowy white Christmas or a warmer tropical setting or somewhere in between, the stress of holiday shopping and the budgetary strain seems to affect us all. Between fighting the crowds at our local mall or paging through the websites of our favorite on-line retailers, the commercial aspect of Christmas can be challenging. It is amidst all this stress that I’d like to encourage you to take time to reflect on the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.

In this regards, it is very fortunate for us that Luke took the time to thoroughly research the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus while those facts were still contemporary and that he composed those facts into a written record that is still available to us today in his Gospel. But can we really trust the record Luke left? Well, the evidence supporting the historical accuracy of Luke’s narrative is myriad, but let’s look at one specific piece of evidence right now. First, we’ll start with an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 2:1-21 – At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

This part of the Christmas story starts with a census being taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Publius Sulpicius Quirinius is known to have governed Syria during 6-9 A.D. Josephus records that a census taken in 6 A.D. sparked a violent Jewish revolt, this is also mentioned by Luke in Act 5:37. Quirinius oversaw this census and played a major role in putting down the rebellion. But this cannot be the census Luke is referring to here in the Christmas story because it occurred much too late to fit Luke’s chronology. Luke was far too meticulous in his recounting of events to be accused of such a chronological error.

And, indeed, archaeology has upheld Luke’s accuracy. A fragment of a stone tablet discovered near Rome in 1764 contains an inscription in honor of a Roman official who was twice governor of Syria during the reign of Augustus. The name of this official is not found, but details listed among his accomplishments could fit no one other than Quirinius. Thus, we conclude that Quirinius served as governor twice. And other ancient records mention a “first” census being ordered by Augustus in 8 B.C. Evidently, this earlier census was not carried out in the Palestinian region until 2-4 years later, perhaps due to political difficulties between Rome and Herod. But Luke does state in verse 2 that the events he recounts occurred at the time of the “first” census taken while Quirinius was governor (obviously indicating there were more than one). Thus, Luke’s accurate rendering of these historic events is validated by the evidence and can be considered completely trustworthy.

Based on this decisive evidence, we can conclude that Luke’s telling of the Christmas story is reliable and I hope by presenting this evidence here it helps you see that Christmas really is a celebration of true historical events. And, as such, it should inspire us to pursue a relationship with our Creator who loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to live among us, to die for us, and to be raised again that we might be reconciled to Him. Yes, Jesus truly is the reason for the season!

With this in mind, then, we see that the greatest Christmas present ever is the gift of grace given by God through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christmas season is a perfect time to accept that gift, if you haven’t already. Just take a few minutes to get by yourself and talk to God. Admit your wrongs to Him and turn your heart and mind toward Jesus (this is called repentance). Then confess Jesus is Lord and promise to follow Him to the best of your ability. As it is written, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

May you have a very Merry Christmas!

If you would like more information about becoming a Christian, we are happy to help. Please drop us an email at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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Let’s Talk Turkey

Turkey 1   Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. (Psalm 95:2)

It’s Thanksgiving time in America. Time to enjoy my favorite meal of the entire year! How can you not love the smell of turkey roasting, pumpkin pie baking, gravy simmering? Add to all that stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and you have culinary indulgence with no rival. I confess to being a bit of a foodie, but regardless of the delicious meals I might experience at other times throughout the year, nothing can take the place of that special turkey dinner at Thanksgiving time. It is, and will continue to be, my absolutely favorite meal.

But the turkey dinner is really only a side attraction to this holiday. Thanksgiving Day is really a time to gather with family and friends and remember all we have to be grateful for and who we are grateful to. And in America, most of us have more to be thankful for than we can even begin to list. The Bible tells us to “be thankful in all circumstances” (1Thessalonians 5:18) so in honor of this splendid holiday I want to share with you some of the things I am grateful for. Since an exhaustive list is beyond the allowable space, I’m going with my top five (in no particular order!).

My wife. I have discovered that Donna isn’t just an extraordinary wife, she’s an extraordinary human being. Her kindness, elegance, grace, and consideration know no limits and she’s well-read, intelligent, thoughtful, engaging, and fun. We have so much in common that we easily find things to do together and spend as much time with one another as we can. On many occasions she has demonstrated her outstanding character and her loving demeanor, not just with me but with everyone she encounters. She is accepting of others, finds the best in people, and is always there when I need her. She isn’t just my wife, she’s my best friend and God’s special gift for me!

My parents. My father passed from this life earlier this year, but my mother and father were amazingly loving parents and I learned so much from them. I actually have good manners and can hold my own in virtually any social situation thanks to my mom. She taught me all kinds of social graces and the kind of respect for others that most of us want our children to have. My dad loved my mom and loved our family and was the finest example of a man I could ever imagine. As a teen I freely admit I was a difficult child, and I really didn’t get much better until about age 30, but my mom and dad never gave up on me and were always there for me. God chose the perfect parents for me.

My sobriety. There was a time where I was a rebellious, self-centered, obnoxious man who was rarely sober and not much good to anyone. I had an ego as big as the moon yet I was a coward to my very core. Without alcohol coursing through my veins, I couldn’t face the world and with alcohol I didn’t want to. That was my life at one time. It’s now been more than 27 years since I last took a drink. So many people have helped me along the way it would be impossible to name them all. And God truly has done for me what I could not do for myself.

My job. Not to show my age too much, but I have now worked in the plastics industry for 30 years. It’s perhaps not the most glamorous occupation, but I have been extremely blessed to work in such an industry. I have produced parts for trucks, tractors, mini-vans, heart valves, surgical equipment, hearing aids, windows and doors, motorcycles, and so much more. Along the way, I have had the privilege of working with some very talented people that help me learn and grow and make each workday as enjoyable as a work day can be. Many of these fine folks are more than coworkers, they have become lifelong friends. Praise God for the work He gave me to do!

Our Pastor. I am very thankful for Pastor Mark Henry’s seemingly endless energy and tireless efforts to minister to our congregation at Revive Church. He has an unwavering commitment to preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word that we might know and stand on the truth. And Mark’s servant spirit doesn’t stop at the doors of our little church, he is involved with several other ministries, both locally and internationally. Through his efforts, over 5 million people have heard the Gospel worldwide! Pastor Mark truly is a man of God sharing the Gospel wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. His conviction and energy are infectious and he is as fine an example to us as we could ever hope for. I always thank God for Pastor Mark.

It is written in 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” Without a doubt, my list could go on and on. I am blessed beyond anything I could ever have a right to hope for and I praise God for all my blessings. But almost certainly, the greatest blessing of them all is the grace and forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ. The Bible reminds us that we are all sinners (see Romans 3:23) and I truly believe each of us knows this about ourselves deep down inside. But God doesn’t want to punish us for our sins (see Ezekiel 33:11 & 2 Peter 3:9) so He made a way for us by sacrificing His very own Son that we might be saved.

Of all the things we have to be thankful for, salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ is the only one that will be with us eternally. So this Thanksgiving season, my sincerest prayer is that you will accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, if you haven’t already. It couldn’t be easier; just stop trying to be good enough on your own, admit to God that you have sinned, and that you need Him. Ask God to forgive you and tell Him you believe in Jesus Christ. If you are finding it difficult to have faith, then ask God to help you believe; for Jesus said in Matthew 7:8, “For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Here at Reign Drops, we’d like to wish you and your family a blessed and happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of our hearts. And we thank you for reading Reign Drops Blog. We’re grateful for each and every one of you! God bless.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

STOP!

Stop 2  Whatever you are doing right now, stop! If you were even planning to do something right now, please stop! There is simply one thing you cannot wait any longer to take care of.

So before you head to the gym. Before you have dinner. Or go to work. Or take a walk. Before you head out shopping, or to hang out with your friends, or run that marathon. Before you turn on the news or consider your political choices, or attend your child’s school conference. Before you plan your wedding day or your dream vacation. Before you get your car fixed or visit the doctor. Before you call your mother. Before you do anything else, there is one thing you really need to get done.

Because no matter how healthy you are, whether you are young or old or somewhere in between, you simply do not know what tomorrow holds in store for you. We all know someone who has died unexpectedly. Perhaps in a car accident or heart attack or house fire or some other tragedy. But by whatever means they passed from this life without warning, leaving those who knew them in shock and disbelief. And tomorrow, it could be your turn…or mine.

Most people think they have more time; another year or another decade. But the fact is, we may not even have another hour. Such is the randomness of life in a fallen world.

And one thing you can count on with 100% certainty is that when you die, you will meet God. So before you do even one more thing, please….please….ask yourself if you are ready for that meeting. Most of us know deep down inside we are not perfect. In fact, none of us would ever speak the word’s “I’m perfect” out loud in front of our friends or family or coworkers because we know that it is highly likely they will remind us how imperfect we truly are. So we inherently know the Bible verse that says “all have sinned, all have fallen short” (Romans 3:23) is absolutely true.

And because we see that is true, we also see we have a predicament. Whether tonight, tomorrow, or ten years from now, we have a meeting scheduled with God. And our sin means we are not ready for that meeting. Just think about it. Can you even imagine standing before a Holy God, who created the heavens and the earth, and trying to explain your actions? It was difficult enough explaining them to your spouse, or friend, or parent, or boss, or whomever when you had to ask for forgiveness; how much more difficult will it be when you face the Lord Almighty?

As the Scriptures say about God, “You (God) will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:4)

But there is a way out of our predicament. That way is Jesus Christ. (The only way!)  Jesus paid the price for our wrongs. He took our punishment for us so the saying, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin” (Romans 4:8) is proved true as is the saying: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) Jesus wants to save you, he wants you to be cleared. And so do I.

So before you take even one more step, or one more deep breath, please get somewhere by yourself and talk to God. Don’t make excuses or compare yourself to others, just admit to Him those wrongs you know you have committed. Ask Him to forgive you in the name of Jesus. If you do this and you are sincere in your heart, whether you die tomorrow or at the end of a long life, you will never have to fear that meeting with God again. Because your sins are remembered no more. And that, friends, is the greatest freedom you will ever know.

To learn more, please check out: KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Am I Going To Heaven?

heaven 4  We have all wondered, at one time or another, what will happen when we die. This question usually first comes to mind at some point in our childhood years, and is, perhaps, the subject of lighter conversation during our young adult years when death is farther from our minds, but it becomes a question of more frequent thought as we age and our mortality becomes more and more evident. Whatever stage of life you find yourself in now, I’m confident this question has crossed your mind and you may or may not have found a comforting answer. It’s only natural because we all know that one day we will die; it’s the one statistic we simply can’t avoid.

And having thought about death and dying, it’s likely we’ve thought about heaven, too. And having accepted the reality that we will one day die, we have certainly wondered if we will go to heaven. But will we? Do all paths lead to heaven? How can we know for sure? These are questions we should think about…often…until we are confident we know the answer. Hopefully, this blog can help.

The truth is that there is a heaven and, unfortunately, many people are not going there. That may run contrary to what you think, but Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Further, the Bible says, “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:18-20).

The real problem is that we have a strong tendency to be self-willed and self-centered. God placed the knowledge of himself within each of us, and he provided the evidence for himself in the creation that is all around us, yet we still tend to deny his true nature. We place our trust in science or we make up our own religion or we distort the truths of the Bible to fit our wishes or, worse yet, we choose to believe there is no god at all. I know all about this because, before I came to understand the truth, I was the worst of offenders. When we deny the truth he has made so obvious to us we really are making ourselves to be god. And that, quite understandably, is not pleasing to the real God.

But despite all our rebellion, we still wonder what happens when we die and whether we will go to heaven or not. Perhaps this is because in some way the reality that God placed within us manages to break through and remind us of our mortality. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to know that none of us are unique; the Bible reminds us that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) So we’re all in this together. And, the reality is, Christianity is the most inclusive religion there is on the entire planet. Because, while the sin problem is universal, the solution (God’s plan of salvation) is available to all. Yes, to all. You, me, them. Every human being on earth. God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) That’s as inclusive as it gets!

This is also clearly stated in passages such as Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. So, it is really dependent upon us, whether we choose to believe God or not to believe God. This sentiment is further echoed in 1 John 5:12: Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” and again in Romans 10:13:Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is no exclusivity here whatsoever, if you want in, you are in. You just have to choose it. So people who don’t go to heaven don’t go because they choose not to go. But if you have read this far, it is probable that the Holy Spirit is nudging you along, drawing you towards God right now. So choose life. Choose heaven. Now.

All you need to do is admit your wrongs and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. For “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) It’s that simple. If you feel it in your heart, then say a prayer something like this – Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.

And if you have said that prayer today, then you are going to heaven when you die. It’s that simple and there is no need to wonder about it anymore; you can have faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) I do suggest you find a local church that you can attend so that your new faith can grow and you can learn more about our great God. If you need help finding a church in your area, write to us and we’ll try to help!

God bless. I look forward to meeting you in heaven someday!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Do I Really Need A Parachute?

Parachute 1  Imagine the scene. You’re on a commercial airliner flying to the destination of your dream vacation. You’ve saved your money for several years to pay for this trip and your excitement level couldn’t be higher. You’re no stranger to flying, but this trip is definitely special. The flight attendant takes you through the usual flight safety warnings and before you know it the plane is up in the air. Only ten hours of flight time and you’ll be there!

Then the captain makes an announcement that catches you by surprise: “Ladies and gentlemen, the flight attendants will be coming through the cabin shortly with a parachute for each of you. Please take the parachute and strap it on your back.” Now if the announcement ends there, you will probably be wondering why they are handing out parachutes. You’ve flown before and this has never happened so you’re probably wondering all kinds of things; maybe even looking out the window to see if there is smoke or fire or anything out of the ordinary.

But what if the captain’s announcement continued this way, “Folks, the parachutes will make your flight more enjoyable, please strap the parachute on, sit back and enjoy your flight.” Now the flight attendant hands you this thing about the size of a small backpack, you strap it on and sit back in your seat. Except you can’t get comfortable. The parachute makes it impossible to sit normally and soon your back is sore and you start to become angry at the airline. What in the world is going on? After not too much time, you take the parachute off and make it known you will not wear this thing.

The parachute most certainly did not make your flight more enjoyable and you now have  backache causing you to feel contempt for the airline, the captain, and the parachute. You will have nothing to do with any of them after this flight. They are already ruining your dream vacation.

But what if the captain’s announcement went this way instead, “Folks, the flight attendant will soon hand each of you a parachute. Please calmly strap your chute on before helping those around you. The plane has developed a serious malfunction and will soon crash to the earth, but you will be guided to a door where your parachute will help you land safely on the ground.” With this additional information, won’t you gladly strap on your parachute and endure whatever discomfort it might bring for the assurance of safety that comes with it? I should think so!

So you see it is only when you have the complete picture of the situation that wearing the parachute makes any sense at all. Likewise, it is the same with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to come to you and say, “Friend, you need to accept Christ,” you would likely wonder to yourself why in the world would you need to do that. My statement simply wouldn’t make sense. And if I said to you, “If you accept Christ it will make your life better,” you might very well give it a try, but eventually something would happen to make you question if your life was truly better, and you might end up turning away from Christ because the promise I gave you was not fulfilled. It is only when we have the complete picture that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense.

So to fully understand the Gospel (which means “good news”) you need to first understand your need for it. Just as understanding that the plane is about to crash made the need for a parachute understandable, knowing that we are sinners helps us understand our need for Jesus. The Bible says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23) and the reality is, deep down inside, we all know we have made mistakes; we all have done things that have hurt others, we are all guilty. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have likely felt the weight of that guilt much more often than we care to admit to others. To deny this is to be disingenuous just as the Apostle John wrote, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8)

Perhaps the bigger problem for most of us is that we tend to compare ourselves to others and then, despite our self-knowledge and the guilt we feel, we conclude we’re “not that bad” especially compared to (insert name of notorious sinner). And isn’t that natural? In fact, not only is it human nature, it is the very ploy of the devil to make us think we don’t need God, for Satan is the father of lies just as Jesus says in John 8:44: “He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And the Apostle Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

So don’t believe the devil. Believe the Bible instead! And the Bible says, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12)  I honestly think the reality is that I don’t need to convince you of your guilt. I believe we all instinctively know the truth about ourselves deep down inside. And, therefore, being knowledgeable of our sin, what we really need to comprehend is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God said about Himself in Exodus 34:6-7: “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

God does not let the guilty go unpunished. Not the guilt of the worst person you can think of, not my guilt, and not yours. The guilty receive punishment, and that punishment is death. But God, in his infinite love and mercy, made a way for us to escape that punishment and to receive eternal life. And that way is Jesus because Jesus paid the penalty for us. So the Gospel is this: “God so loved the world He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And just as the impending plane crash is why you need the parachute, sin is why you need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Availing yourself of the Gospel is almost as easy as strapping on the parachute; just talk to God. Admit to him you have sinned and you need his mercy. Accept the free gift of grace he offers through Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And now you know the full story! God bless.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Reviving The Soul

Reviving the Soul3   Those of you who have are regular readers of this blog probably already know that at one point in my life I had a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol. For anyone new here, suffice it to say that when it came to following the rules, I didn’t. I won’t dig into the details on that, I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced your own rebellious streaks at one point or another. If I have learned anything, it’s that I’m not nearly as unique as I might have once thought myself.

This rebelliousness that most of us have gone through, or perhaps continue to struggle with, is nothing new. Give a thorough reading to the Old Testament and you’ll see example after example of individuals and groups who rebel against God. The words “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (ie: Judges 17:6) have regular occurrence. It seems by our very nature we are a pugnacious lot.

While there are all kinds of rules we are expected (and sometimes reluctant) to follow, such as income taxes, speed limits, and the like; let us be concerned with the laws that God has set before us. In the Bible, from beginning to end, we find God has lots of rules for us. I won’t take the time to dive into a detailed analysis of all God’s rules, for such an analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on a few examples, taken from the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) So let’s get honest with each other. Who has not stolen something at least once in their lives? Maybe it was just a little something, like a few office supplies from work. It didn’t have to be something big, it was still stealing if we appropriated for ourselves that which belonged to someone else. And someone who steals is called…a thief, right?

And then there’s the rule that, perhaps, I struggle with more than any other: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…..or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) I suspect I am not alone in my covetousness. For me, it’s usually gazing upon that beautiful new truck that my neighbor just bought, or some other shiny object in my neighbor’s garage for which I feel such avarice. Have you not found yourself desiring that which belongs to someone else? Go ahead and admit it!

We are always tempted to wonder why God has such rules for us. Perhaps the answer to that question actually lies, in part, within one of those rules. In Exodus 20:12 we find this truth: “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ah, there we have something “then you will live a long, full life….” Yes! Our understanding of why God has rules for us is revealed in that statement.

Now, almost from the first moments of our lives we are already failing to honor our parents. “Be home before dark.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “Don’t play in the street.” I think we all know why our parents had those rules in place for us. In all likelihood, we have (or had) similar rules for our own children. Because we love them dearly and we want them to survive in this world and to be all they can be. And now we see, in the fifth commandment, that God wants the same for us: to survive in this world and to be all we can be!

In today’s world, a lot of people think God’s rules are archaic and irrelevant; but many of us have the same rules for our children as our parents’ had for us because, as adults, we have come to realize those rules were sensible in every way. And so it is with God’s rules, they made sense then and they make sense now – for it is only when we follow God’s rules that we experience all that life has to offer. It is only when we follow God’s rules that reach our highest potential and experience true freedom. And it is when we disregard those rules that we experience the most pain.

The psalmist wrote: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (Psalm 19:7-8) So we see here that following God’s instructions will revive us, make us wise, bring joy to our hearts, and give us insight for living because God’s rules are perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. And just as applicable for us today as our parents’ rules are for our own children or granchildren!

When I rebelled against my parents’ rules I was first and foremost rebelling against God and my life was a constant uphill struggle. Sure there were some happy times, but deep inside was constant unrest and deep dissatisfaction with life. But I have found the more I follow God’s instructions, like the psalmist says, the more peace and serenity I enjoy. I want you to know that peace and serenity, too, so I invite you to try life God’s way. What have you got to lose?

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Walk Humbly

Walk Humbly 6  When I think of the word humble, two people come to mind: Jesus is the first, and my dad is the second. All throughout my life, my dad was a living example of humility. It seemed to come naturally to him, being the very essence of his character. He was a quiet man, always willing to listen, to see another person’s point of view, to empathize, and to place his family and friends’ needs before his own. In Philippians 2:3, the Apostle Paul admonished his readers, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” My dad seemed to live this verse in every aspect of his life.

My dad truly enjoyed people. I can close my eyes and picture him conversing with others, always with a smile on his face, his cordiality a natural outflow from the warmth in his heart. My dad never thought himself so important as to feel his needs should come first or that he should complain. At least not around his children. Even our family vacations seemed to be planned around providing the best possible experience for us (though I’m quite certain we kids didn’t always appreciate this as much as we should have). He never gave us the feeling that we were simply being dragged along, a necessary evil to fulfilling his own recreational aspirations.

Once, when I was a child, perhaps 10 or 12 years old, I recall my dad stopping to help a stranded motorist. I asked him why, and rather than offer a response that would imply any heroics on his part, he simply said, “I’d want someone to stop for me.” The simple fact that this memory has remained a part of my conscious thought suggests the impact this experience had on me.  I find that his routine behavior modeled for me an ideal that simply couldn’t have been effectively conveyed with mere words. Indeed, my dad often demonstrated the principles I, and my siblings, would grow to live by.

This extended far beyond our home and, at the height of his business career, my dad took several young coworkers under his wing, becoming not only their mentor but also their friend. His kindness and soft-spoken charm allowed him to make friends easily and his genuine concern for the welfare of others reflected his love to all who knew him. Being myself a rather difficult child, I am quite certain I tried his patience more often than I care to admit, but he never ceased to live the message of James 1:19; “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” All through my formative years and well into my adulthood, I watched how my dad interacted with others and tried my best to emulate him. Like he was to his young coworkers, he was a mentor to me, too.

The prophet Micah, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words, “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) My dad passed from this life on March 31, 2018 at the age of 90. This verse from Micah had come to have significance to him during his last days, perhaps because it reflected so well the principles he tried to live by and to pass on to his children. While my dad would be the first to admit he was far from perfect, in the words of my youngest brother, “If I could be half the man my dad was, I’d be twice the man as most.”

The last time my father and I read the Bible together, we read from the book of John. One passage we shared was the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, in which we see how Jesus met this woman right where she was, talked to her without judgment, and humbly offered her the living water of new life in Christ. And this is how Jesus meets all of us, right where we are, offering us new life as only he can. In John 5:24, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” And in John 6, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:35) It’s not too late for you to find new life in Jesus Christ. Just do like the Samaritan woman did in John 4:15 and ask!

In honor of my dad, I leave you with this old Irish blessing: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.