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Archive for March, 2011

I saw Charlie Sheen in the Bible this morning.

It happened when I read Proverbs 12:8.

What’s sad is that I saw not only his face when I read the verse but I also saw the disappointed face of God who knows that His standards are so universally being mocked.

Here’s the verse: “A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised.”

Based on the abundance of media reports about Sheen’s bizarre behavior, it seems clear to me that Sheen has a warped mind. All you have to do is read about the bizarre, hedonistic things that Sheen has said and done and then you realize that his concept of morality and personal responsibility is warped.

What’s even more sad is that millions of people like how Sheen acts and speaks.

Because of that fact, Sheen was among the highest-paid entertainers in the world until his most recent legal problems got him into trouble and his studio contract was cancelled.

To embrace the behavior of a warped-mind person — even to the point of buying tickets to a travelling, dirty comedy show for the fired entertainer — is a personal indictment of being warped.

I’m sure that none of you have bought Charlie Sheen tickets, but you work or go to school and perhaps live next door to people with warped value systems rooted in warped minds.

Please join me in praying that some of these people will see the wholesome, problem-solving value of the godly wisdom that you demonstrate day by day.

As warped-mind people see the enduring fruit of your wise words and choices, they just might start to ponder how their lives might be better if they chose to celebrate faith rather than filth.

Imitating Sheen certainly won’t help marriages, parent-child relationships, workplace relationships or any other relationship.

Applying godly wisdom will help these relationships, though.

I thank God that my influence in this world doesn’t have to be based on having a gift for comedic timing or a razor-sharp tongue that never blows the punchline.

Instead, I simply need to seek and share biblical wisdom in humble ways.

I pray that you’ll do the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some people seem to always be smiling.

And some people rarely smile.

Which describes you?

Why the difference?

I’m thinking it’s because the first group are more hopeful than the second.

People filled with hopes are more inclined to smile than are those who lack hope.

Even in times of stress and loss, those possessing hope can look with optimism toward the day when they or their loved ones will be bathed in blessings.

They don’t know when it will happen necessarily, but they are convinced that it will.

It is the hope for a better life that sustains smile-prone college students in the midst of their “meat-grinder” junior year when mental and time and financial and emotional stresses are huge.

It is the hope for maturing, well-adjusted adult children that sustains smiling, godly parents as they try to impart God’s wisdom and display godly love to teen children struggling with worldly temptations.

And it is the hope for a never-ending celebration of perfect joy that keeps a smile on the face of hassled Christians who believe that nothing in this world can separate the faithful heart from God’s perfect heart (Romans 8).

I was prompted to recall these thoughts after reading Psalm 71:14 this morning in the One-Year Bible.

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Wow.

Always have hope?

Always praise?

Do I?

Do you?

We both need to grow in this respect, I’m sure.

Because some days find me smiling little, I know that my heart, mind and soul are not yet perfectly permeated with God’s promises.

Perhaps the same is true for you.

Why did King David write that he always had hope, even in seemingly hopeless times?

It was because he believed in God’s promises of provision, of strengthening, of divine leading and of an eternal reward.

God never failed to keep a promise made in the Bible. And He will never fail to keep the promises on which our hopes are based.

Now that’s something to smile and shout about.

As always, I love you
Martin

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God knew that delivering the Hebrews into the Promised Land would not automatically result in perpetual faithfulness among His people.

You see, He knew that humans did not instinctively do all the right things. And that meant that every new generation would have to be taught the ways of the Lord.

That’s why Moses was instructed to write what he did in Deuteronomy 11:19-21.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

There is no question that the moral and spiritual integrity of our world is fading. I believe it is because most people aren’t teaching children about the Word and ways of God.

What happened to Israel during the time of the Judges — social disorder and rampant dismay — is what will eventually happen in our country if we continue failing as a people with respect to Deut. 11:19-21.

Please do your part this week to teach a child about the things of God. Whether the child lives next door, or is a relative’s child across town, is a child you teach in Sunday School or the child is your own flesh and blood, commit yourself to teach the children about the life of Jesus Christ, about the stories of God’s love in the Old Testament and about the great principles of faith found throughout the Bible.

It’s not complicated. But it is essential if they are to have the better life that God wants for them and for the world within which they live.

You can do it. Just like other faithful people have done for thousands of years.

Make sure the kids are in Sunday School and you’ll get a lot of help with that teaching that the kids need.

I believe in you.

God does, too.

That’s why He wants you to start teaching the kids in your life. And that’s why He’ll want them to do the same for the kids in their lives, should Jesus not return beforehand.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The next time you see a homeless, hungry person, please remember a message from Psalm 69:33 — “The Lord hears the needy” — and then ask yourself if you are “hearing” the needy by providing food in some meaningful way.

And the next time you see a heartbroken widow who has just lost her best friend/spouse and a good portion of her financial support, remember to comfort her with the promise that “The Lord hears the needy” and with fervent prayers/generosity showing that you also “hear the needy.”

Also, don’t forget that when your own life situation grows filled with stress and loss and fear, “The Lord hears the needy.”

You and I both know that we should memorize scripture more than we do. I’m giving you today an extremely simple, easy-to-recall passage to memorize.

Psalm 69:33 “The Lord hears the needy

No, these five words do not comprise the entire verse. But if you weave them into your memory banks and into your everyday life, the fruit for your faith will be much more evident and many more people will be helped during the course of your life.

Please be willing to tell a discouraged person of this promise in Psalm 69:33.

For in hearing you share it — and in hearing you testify of its truth in your life — the discouraged person might understand that heavenly compassion is on the other side of their prayers to God.

Please, my friend, trust the promise of Psalm 69:33 in your own life.

Know for certain that prayer is essential in your time of need.

God promises to hear the overflow of your heart when stress and loss and fear are flowing against you.

As you have opportunity, pray not only for yourself in such times, but also for others in need.

God will certainly give heed to your prayers that are offered alongside of the needy person with whom you are praying.

You see, we fail God and people in stress if you see their needy state and don’t do something to help them, something even as simple as praying for them.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It is amazing to consider how many of Jesus’ teachings are integrated into society’s everyday life, even among those who don’t acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.

Today’s reading from the One-Year Bible reminds me of just how wise Jesus was and of how much wiser I can become if I’ll remember to follow His teachings.

In Luke 6:39-49, Jesus uses four illustrations — some call them metaphors — that provide valuable lessons and that show His incredibly perceptive nature.

  • “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?”
  • “How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite!”
  • “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit.”
  • “…anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

We hear these metaphors used by all sorts of people in all sorts of settings. And that’s a good thing.

For when somebody uses one of the above — even in an indirect reference — it will provide you an opportunity to ask if he or she knows the origin of the phrase.

It will probably surprise the person to know that Jesus was the Author of the phrases.

In fact, you just might be able to promote his or her interest in learning more everyday phrases that were coined by Jesus, such as “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7) or “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

As you do this in gentle, time-appropriate ways, you will hopefully be fostering within your friend, relative or co-worker a growing admiration for the wisdom of Christ, the relevancy of the Bible and your reliability as a vessel of good and godly information.

Let’s each learn to better utilize the teachable moments that the Lord provides to us. The Kingdom of God will grow stronger and the reach of scripture will grow wider as we do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I have a preacher friend who writes a very brief daily devotion that he sends to church members and a variety of other friends.

Steve Jones of Vero Christian Church in Vero Beach, FL always has good thoughts to share in his one- or two-paragraph devotional thoughts.

And because of a verse I read this morning in the One-Year Bible, I’m moved to borrow from his pattern for the Mornning Devotion.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)

If you’re seemingly always scraping by financially, perhaps it is because you aren’t sharing enough with others.

God has called you and me to generosity. If we’re not blessing others with gifts of a dinner at our home or with flowers for the funeral of a church leader’s parent or with a donation toward a neighbor child’s trip to a summer Christian youth conference, then why would God bless us financially?

He provides for us as we provide for others, so please boost your level of generosity to others.

God promises that good things will come your way if you do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It is a very blunt teaching that I read in Numbers 35:33 this morning.

“…murder pollutes the land. And no sacrifice except the execution of the murderer can purify the land from murder.”

Yes, I know that some will say that God decreed this law so that social chaos would not result from unpunished bloodshed.

There was more to v. 33 than preserving social order, though.

Because God is holy and just, the land over which He would preside was to be characterized by holiness and justice.

If He were to look the other way when murder occurred rather than require just retribution against the person with blood on his or her hands, then God’s claim of holiness would have been a lie.

The children of Israel very quickly chose to ignore God’s standards of justice, however, and within just a few generations, social order collapsed and it was every man for himself.

What is happening in Mexico now with the plague of grisly murders and the failure of government to hold culprits responsible is a prime example of what happens when murderers operate with impunity.

Let’s bring this closer to home.

When I read verses like Numbers 35:33 and when I consider the fact that it is my sinful choices that Jesus died for on the cross, then I realize that I am the murderer.

I didn’t attack Jesus with an axe or with a gun, but there is no doubt that my choice to sin was the same as picking up the nail and hammer.

The fact is that Jesus should be the One standing over my sprawled-out body with the nail and hammer in His hands.

I should be the one executed, not Jesus.

Jesus chose to take my punishment, though, in order to “purify the land” of my heart and soul.

Knowing that, I will serve Him and encourage others to embrace the One who was executed in their place in order to purify the land of their hearts and souls from the stains of sin.

Will you pledge to do the same?

As always, I love you
Martin

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