Who is Carrying Who?

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At Pepper Place Market in downtown Birmingham you’ll likely witness dogs in strollers and leashes on toddlers. My, how things have changed! I’m not exaggerating! On several different occasions I’ve witnessed this from the same family. The child is kept close with a leash and the puppy is riding in style.  Now, I for one, think the child-leash is a great Idea as long as it doesn’t choke or hurt the child. They’re usually clipped around the belt and why not let the child walk? It’s good for them and the parent’s back and sense of security. But the dog in a stroller?! Come on! I’ve also noticed that for dog lovers (and I do love dogs!), who walk their dogs in certain municipalities, they are required to carry a doggy bag for doggy poo. My question is, who is doing the walking and who is being walked?  Seems to me the dog has become the master!  I guess the quip is correct, the world has “gone to the dogs”.

                God expressed to us in Isaiah a similar observation. Isa 46:1-4  Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts.  (2)  They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.  (3)  “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb;  (4)  even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.  Notice the irony.  God asked the same question of his children; who is carrying the idols and who is carrying you?  God makes several comical yet eye-opening truths about idolatry in Isaiah 40-46.  The children of Israel had given themselves over to stupidity.  How can you have something crafted and made from wood and gold, lift it up and place it on mantels, worship and bow down before it, and yet it cannot move, speak or even save its own self from destruction and captivity?

            But we are more sophisticated and intelligent than they, some say.  Nobody bows down to false idols, no one sacrifices their children before the fires of Molech, no one engages in temple prostitution, no one engages in fertility rituals. No one plans, plants, builds, and harvests based on the sun, moon and stars. We are a civilized, well-educated, industrialized, technologically advanced, moral and ethical people.  We are not beholden to ancient and silly superstition.  We are the masters of our own domain!  God is either laughing or His wrath is about to break forth!

                Silly humans! It’s exactly when we think we are so much more superior and better than we have ever been, that we do things like put dogs in strollers and children on leashes.  We think we do not bow before idols, but go into a restaurant and observe how many people are bowed before their iPhones.  We don’t have temple prostitution you say, but some places of worship have become dens for homosexuals and fornicators.  It’s not God that brings kids by the thousands to mega-churches but the god of rock and roll and entertainment.  At least we don’t throw our children into the fires!  No, we just exterminate or sacrifice them on the altars of our happiness before they even have a chance.  We often wonder what’s wrong with the younger generation, while that generation is screaming and having temper tantrums asking the question, “Why couldn’t my parents just love one another?”  But at least we plan and move about without the aid of sorcerers, witchcraft, wizards, soothsayers and such.  Well, you may have me there.  After all we have grown somewhat and have made some advances. I can see the need for psychiatrists and Dr.Phil to help us with our depression and mixed-up minds.  We certainly need motivators like Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey to make us feel good about our selfish lives. I’ll need the “truth makers” like Bill Maher, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC to keep me informed and on the edge.  Yes sir! At least we’re moving in the right direction.  Well, I’ve nothing more to say.  The cat is demanding that I carry him to his dish and bring him food and water.

 

Darryl Fuller

The Irony

plane-crashBeing a student of history, I’m profoundly struck by what I like to term, “shadow events”.  Throughout history’s major events, there are often similar occurrences that are overshadowed by bigger headlines. On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashes in the Queens Borough of New York City immediately after takeoff from LaGuardia International Airport.  Onboard are 260 souls all of whom perish, making it the second worst aviation disaster in United States history.  At any other time, this event would have tragically stood out in the annals of flight history but because it was 2 months and one day after the attacks on 9/11, few will remember this horrific crash.

                Even fewer, especially from this generation, know that 1 month after the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, heralding the end of World War II a Typhoon hit that same fated city, killing over 2000, flooding and destroying whatever was left from the bomb. Many of the residents who had survived the first atomic bomb used in war, did not survive the natural force of what the Japanese called “Makurarazki Typhoon”.

                Such euphoria existed at the end of the War in the Pacific that you can hardly find any information in regards to the worst peace time aviation disaster in history.  Just one week after the official surrender of the Japanese onboard the USS Missouri, another typhoon, this one called Ursula claimed the lives of 900 servicemen.  All thirty aircraft carrying liberated POW’s from Okinawa to Manila in the Philippines go down into the Pacific due to the typhoon.

                Sometimes we regard such fate as deemed, “They were doomed”.  Indeed the irony of such timing can only make one ponder, that perhaps it was not meant for them to survive.  Some might even say it was the hand of God and/or His judgement upon sinners.

                Interestingly, there is scripture that gives us wisdom in understanding and dealing with such issues.  Luke 13:1-5  There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  (2)  And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? (3)  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (4)  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? (5)  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

                The same mystery of “Who lives?” and “Who dies?” that bewilders the generations of our time, did so during Jesus’ day as well.  Wisdom from our Lord is twofold; what difference in when or how we die? We will all die. We should all repent.

                I guess a better analysis of such tragic ironies of life is not to ask why did this happen or why did it happen in the particular manner, but to ask, did they repent?  The first question shows a glimmer of doubt on our part and gives power to death. The second question shows faith on our part and gives power to the one who died to free us from the bondage of sin and death.   We should not entertain the enigmatic events of life as a way for God to demonstrate His judgment upon man in unusual fashion.  Better yet we should see these events as God’s way of waking us up, entreating us to pay attention and be watchful.  Matt. 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.  

                Many people found the idea of flying after 9/11 repulsive.  I can remember a few commenting that they’d never get on plane again.  However, a few months pass and life goes on, people have to travel.  Then, tragedy strikes and we ask, “Why?” Instead, we should be praying to God to save us from our sins.  Tragic and unexplained things happen and they should remind us of how precious and fragile our lives are.    A terrible war may come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that dying stops.  Death may be amplified in wars and famines, but death is never static, it is always with us.  We must face the inevitable, but to do so without repentance will bring us death twice. If you don’t like the thought of death, then repent and be baptized or you’re doomed to think about and be death for all eternity.

Darryl Fuller

Rebellion

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For most of human history, transitions of power from one tribal leader, chief, or king to another has been a bloody affair.  Even among God’s people, the transfer from king to another was a time of purging.  In 1 Kings Chapter 2 we see Solomon ridding any threat to his court by having Benaiah kill his brother, Adonijah, David’s captain of the guards, Joab, and a dissenter of David’s whose name was Shimei.  Likewise, Solomon banished the priest, Abiathar.  As civilized as most historians paint the Roman Republic, almost every transition from one Emperor to another was in no way peaceful or civilized.  The same has hailed true for centuries until the United States Constitution demonstrated a new way of transferring power through peaceful means.

Since the penning of that great document, we have been blessed with 45 such transitions.  Although there were great divides at times during those presidential inaugurations, none have resembled the Coup d’etat of other countries past or present.  We are truly blessed to have lived in such times.

We often forget the great blessings God has bestowed upon this land.  The blessings of freedom, tranquility, prosperity, general welfare, and hope just to name a few.  I know that there are some who may not share that sentiment and even at the time of this transition from one political force to another, will gripe, and bemoan America, the flag, the new president, the electoral college, and their fellow Americans.   I don’t agree at all with their rebellion, but I do understand that their rebellion is based on fear.  For when there is fear, there is a lack of faith.  And where there is a lack of faith there is murmuring, bickering, moaning, lamenting, crying, tantrums and general ingratitude.

                No matter what happens to this country, our faith in God should not waver.  To rebel in any matter is not righteous behavior and grieves God.  1Sam. 12:15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 

Truly the most destructive of sins is rebellion. Satan’s rebellion against God is at the heart of why we live in a world of sin and darkness.  Throughout the Old Testament, rebellion against God and His commandments has been the undoing of His people (Dt.13:5; Josh. 22;16-22; 1 Sam.15:23; 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Chron.12:19; Ezra 4:19; Jer.28:16; 29:32; 33:8).  In the New Testament we are told that before our Lord returns that the rebellion will come first.  This rebellion is accompanied by a lawless man, a man of destruction.  Notice that  the three go together; rebellion, lawlessness and destruction.  2Thess. 2:3  Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

                While I am writing this article, men, women and children are rebelling against the new President and Constitution of the United States.  Some are protesting peacefully, and that is their protected right under that Constitution. Some are rioting, bent on destroying property and people in their way.  Those that are throwing rocks, breaking windows and destroying property are like children who did not get their way, screaming, wailing and pitching a fit until they are pacified. Rebellion is an act of ingratitude, a demonstration of a lack of maturity. (you won’t see many people over 50 rioting).   When a person is discontent or unhappy, going to God in prayer, asking for help and resting on His blessings is the answer. Throwing a temper tantrum is not!

            Of course this country was founded on the principles of rebellion against a King.  Perhaps that is why most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence died poor and broken men.  I suppose there are times in which men will and must rise up against tyranny.  Perhaps God will allow this country to continue and will bless us many more years with peaceful transitions.  Whatever may come of this country, is in God’s hand.  Let us make sure we are not in rebellion of Him.

Pro 17:11  An evil man seeks only rebellion, and a cruel messenger will be sent against him

Darryl Fuller

Don’t Release the Kraken!

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I let my anger get the better of me the other day.  Frustration set in due to several existential circumstances (last minute Christmas shoppers and a phone that would not cooperate).  Twice in the same day, I lost my cool and released the Kraken on my poor wife and daughter.  Apologies were made, however I felt like a real Scrooge for venting on the innocent.  The thing is, once we release the dreaded beast, it’s really hard sending the creature back to the abyss.  What have I done? I’m sorry! But the “Thing” just continues to tear and rip, bite, roar and spew putrid saliva everywhere.  Pro. 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

                Interestingly enough, I had just been reading the day before on the workings of a microwave oven.  I became intrigued that morning, while cooking bacon, about how the microwave oven actually cooked.  Turns out, items with a good amount of water molecules (coffee, corn kernels, bacon, soups, etc.) do really well.  Denser objects with fewer water molecules (breads, pastas, pizza, etc.) tend to get rubbery and lose their taste.  Contrary to popular belief, the microwave does not heat from the inside out, but most items have more water molecules concentrated towards the center and thus it appears so.  Actually, the microwave works by intensifying microwaves (which are relatively harmless) via a magnetron.  Water, fat, and other substances in the food absorb energy from the microwaves in a process called dielectric heating. Many molecules (such as those of water) are electric dipoles, meaning that they have a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, and therefore rotate as they try to align themselves with the alternating electric field of the microwaves. Rotating molecules hit other molecules and put them into motion, thus dispersing energy.  In short, agitation cooks food!  Let us apply this example to ourselves.  When we get agitated, we tend to cook, and our agitated state aggravates others around us and they begin to cook, too.

                It’s because of this phenomenon among humans that God directed that we learn to be quiet, moderate, tempered, and slow to anger. James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

                Paul instructed Timothy, as he would continue to establish churches, appoint Elders, teach young preachers, that anger was a destructive character. 1Ti 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

                Cook a thing long enough, and it will explode or destroy the instrument in which it was cooked and/or those things within close proximity. Eph 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (27) and give no opportunity to the devil.

                Of course the best way to keep calm and not release aggravated ions of anger is to follow the simple teaching of Paul Php 4:7-8  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (8)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Best Advice! Don’t release the Kraken!

Darryl Fuller

Wait, just 17 more minutes!

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Babe Ruth was thirteen years old when the Chicago Cubs had last won the World Series.  It would be another two years before my Grandfather was born. Jimmy Stewart, Betty Davis and Lyndon B. Johnson were born; Butch Cassidy and Grover Cleveland died that year.  Such mark the significance of any given year.  Little did Cub fans realize that it would be 39,466 days, 69 managers, 4 different owners, 18 different Presidents before they would lay claim to being World Champions again.  I stayed up to watch this historical event, well, until the end of the 9th inning. Chicago let a five run lead vanish, giving hope to the Indians in extra innings. It was 11:05 and I might have made it for one extra inning, but the forces that be (Rain!) delayed 108 years a little longer.  Seems the Cub fans have waited this long, they may as well wait on a rain delay and who knows home many extra innings.  When they brought the tarp on to the field and covered the diamond, my eyes begged me to record it and go to sleep.  I obliged, and in real time missed a great ending to a really great series, one for the century!  Turns out, the rain delay was only 17 minutes and the Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th and held on to win its first World series in 108 years, 7 games, 1 extra inning.  I was fast asleep!

In the real scope of things, big deal!  I’m not that big a Cubs fan to start with.  It really only was interesting for the novelty and historical perspective.  I couldn’t help ponder the fact that I stayed up to watch it and then gave up on it.  If I’d only stayed with it 30 more minutes.  Oh well!  I probably won’t even be around when they win it again in 2124. No big deal!

What is a big deal, is to miss heaven!  I’ve often wondered about those who have struggled faithfully, enduring good and bad times only to get so close and then give up or give in.  The Hebrew writer reminds of endurance;  Heb. 4:1  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. Heb. 10:36-37 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  (37)  For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;

                Six times in the last book of the Bible, we are encouraged to have and show forthEndurance” (Rev.1:9; 2:2, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12).  Similarly, eight times in the book of Revelation it is pressed upon us the importance of overcoming (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7).  Christ knows too well that his followers will have to be prepared to see their salvation through to the end.  Satan will not relent.  He may for a season flee from us, 1Pe 5:8-10  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (9)  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  (10)  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

                On the very eve of God’s plan coming to fruition, the fulfillment of God’s promises to mankind, the means of man’s very salvation, while Jesus prayed under tremendous torment of His soul in the garden, we slept (Mark 14:33-42).  Peter, James and John and the other disciples are stereotypical of us all; a longing to put forth strength and courage, yet rarely able to do so when needed.  God’s best fan, stayed the course, endured all the sorrow and pain when we should’ve, but couldn’t.  Heb. 12:3  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

                I don’t mean to trivialize our faithfulness and steadfastness to that of a weary baseball fan but consider these two points:

  1. We grow weary and are quick to dismiss the coach, the players, the whole organization when things seem bad and victory appears to vanish, but there’s still an inning or two left. We should not lose hope (Gal.6:9).
  2. Victory is sure! It may not happen in my lifetime or my grandchildren’s, but somewhere in our future is the greatest victory celebration (1 Cor.15:57).

Darryl Fuller

The King’s Servant

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Recently, a really heroic act was posted on the internet showing four men rescuing an elderly woman from a burning car. They each take on a frightening moment, risking their very lives, to save another human being.  Just a few weeks prior to this, a police officer performed a similar deed by rescuing a young man from a burning vehicle.  I truly believe that if we looked hard enough, we would see these acts of unselfish charity performed every day amongst people who cherish and honor human life.  I still remember one of the most remarkable acts of love for fellow human beings.  It was the day after my birthday, January 13, 1982, when an Air Florida 737 crashed into the Potomac river in Washington D.C., killing 72 of the 79 souls aboard and 5 people in vehicles on the bridge it struck before entering the river. One of the seven passengers who survived the crash was Arland Williams. Known as the “sixth passenger,” Williams survived the crash, and passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. He ended up being the only plane passenger to die from drowning.  John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

                In the days just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah was arrested and brought before King Zedekiah.  Zedekiah implored Jeremiah to tell him of God’s vision for Jerusalem.  Jeremiah tells him all that will befall him and all the inhabitants of the city. At first Zedekiah does nothing to Jeremiah. However, at the bequest of his evil councilors, Zedekiah allows Jeremiah to be lowered into a gloomy cistern that has no water save for a deep, thick mire of mud. Jer 38:6  So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.  How horrible and frightening this must have been for the man of God,  to be treated in such ill fashion, especially after proclaiming the truth to the King who requested it.  Jeremiah would at some point later recall this experience as we read of it in Lam. 3:52-55  “I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause;  (53)  they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me;  (54)  water closed over my head; I said, ‘I am lost.’  (55)  “I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit.

                With the Babylonians at the very gates of the city and scarcely no food to be found, what doom it must have been for Jeremiah, literally buried alive in mire, left to die a slow and agonizing death.  Who would take such a risk to save him, when there was no time but to even save oneself from the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar?  However, we read of a brave soul, whose name is Ebed-melech, the Ethopian, a eunuch who served in the court of King Zedekiah.   Ebed-melech left the palace and sought out the king and boldly approached him, pleading for the life of Jeremiah. He even went so far as to proclaim that the action taken against Jeremiah was evil and they must not let him die in that horrible place.  Zedekiah allowed Ebed to rescue Jeremiah and authorized men to help in the effort.  Because of his bravery and trust in God, Ebed-melech is also spared from the impending doom of Jerusalem.  Jer. 39:16-18 “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day.  (17)  But I will deliver you on that day, declares the LORD, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.  (18)  For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.'”

                The four men who rescued the woman from the burning car said they were not heroes.  They each proclaimed they were only doing what they hoped any human being would have done for them.

                There are plenty of humans around us who are deep in the mires of life, seemingly helpless in a pit of despair and gloom.  Maybe we should, like Ebed-melech, trust in the Lord, and help raise them out of their abyss.  We, too, will then be spared from the wrath to come.

 

Darryl Fuller.

Bored?

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When Jesus walked into the Temple Courtyard in John 2:13-21 the sight of marketers selling their goods on sacred ground offended the Son of God to the point of a rare display of His righteous anger.  The gospel account says he made a whip of cords and then drove them out of the temple, including the animals. The very fact that he had to make the whip demonstrates that Jesus was not acting from hysterical rage, but was in fact planning and implementing His planned cleansing of the temple.  The filth that had become prevalent in the temple during Jesus’ time on Earth was about to end.  We are reminded in scripture that Jesus’ trips to the temple for the Passover Feast were very much an annual event (Luke 2:41). It is fairly safe to assume that Jesus had observed this wicked display of irreverence in His Father’s house for some quarter of a century. This was the first of other cleansings, including the last by Jesus on the very day of His triumphal entry in Matt. 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19.  The Gospels therefore, record Jesus’ first Passover after he began His ministry, in which He cleanses the Temple and His last Passover in which He cleanses it again.  John remembers this event by stating in John 2:17  His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  If only we had such zeal!

There doesn’t seem to be much zeal for anything anymore.  I find myself bored with many things that at one time I was very passionate about.  “The Olympics,”  I think, “Were better when we were the underdog and it was a spectacle to cheer against the former Soviet Union and East Germany teams.”  It’s become boring!  “The Indianapolis 500 was greater and more enjoyable when Jackie Stewart and Jim McKay covered it and the likes of A.J. Foyt, Bobby and Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford ruled the course.”  Now I don’t even care to see who wins through a 1-minute video byte on the internet. Boring!  Presidential race? Ho Hum.  Rockets flying into space? Yawn.  Not just speaking for myself, but I believe a lot of people have become bored with things that we should be passionate about, especially with elections that have a great deal of bearing upon our very lives.  There should be passion for our country and its history.  There should be enthusiasm for our local, state and federal offices.  We spend all of our energy and drive on entertainment and football, and we have nothing left to offer in any other arena, especially our homes, schools and most sadly, the house of God!

What has happened to our desire and love to be with God’s people and in God’s house?  It is amazing to listen to older church members recall the energy in gospel meetings, that lasted two weeks!  There used to be great zeal in coming to hear God’s word proclaimed for hours each night, in sweltering heat, on hard, wooden, fold out chairs.  We now have great comforts like air-conditioning, plush pews, good lighting, visually stimulating Power Points, good sound systems and yet we’re bored.  For zeal of God’s house are we consumed?

What has happened to our zeal for sharing time with one another?  Where is our determination to learn God’s word and share in that learning with others?  Where is our enthusiasm to be at every service and at every service on time?  Where is the heart-pounding feeling of singing out songs of praise to God, with everything we’ve got?   Is going to services so boring that we can’t tear ourselves away from work, television, playing,  sleeping to be there for only 4 hours a week?  Where is our deep commitment to speak boldly the word of God and bend back the ears of the naysayers, scoffers and cynics?   Where is the burning consumption for service in the kingdom of God?

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in His last few years of life speaks loud and clear.  He cared deeply about His Father’s house!  It was the most important thing to Him and He longs for us to care that deeply, too.   Going to God’s house (His church) is a great and honorable privilege.  He died so that we could.   We honor Him and show great zeal for His house when we, too, drive the thieves out of our hearts and out of His temple (2 Cor.6:16-18).  Then it may be said of us; “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

 

Darryl Fuller

Blind leading the Blind

 

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I’m often amused and perplexed when I see individuals in the mall or Wal-Mart, dressed as if they were still five year olds, putting on the first thing from the floor of their closet and feeling quite pleased with how they look.  My first thought that jumps into my brain, “Did you look in the mirror before you left the house?”  Perhaps they do look. After all, most humans stop to look, and if what they see is OK, maybe they even smile as their brain tells them, “Wow! You look marvelous!”  After all, why shouldn’t a 70-year-old woman wear the same hot pink, skin tight leotard that the teenage girls do?  The moral question here is not immodesty (which is off the chart), but blind foolishness.

Blindness to one’s wrongs, howbeit dress of the body or dress of the soul, is nothing new.  Matter of fact, it is one of the main reasons Jesus came into this world.  Luke 4:18-19   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, (19)   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” All of Jesus’ miracles involving the blind were to recover their visible sight. However, on one occasion, Jesus used the miracle to promote a point regarding our   spiritual blindness (John 9:1-41).  Here are the facts in this event: 1) A man was blind from birth. 2) Jesus gave the man his sight. 3) Some of the Pharisees (who couldn’t actually see) questioned and scoffed at the man, his family and Jesus for doing a good deed on the Sabbath. 4) Jesus condemned their blind and stubborn foolishness. John 9:39-41   Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (40)  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”  (41)  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

We live in a world today where rebellion and ignorance are applauded.  There are few boundaries or absolutes.  Sinful activity and wrong behavior are excused with sympathy that they are the result of a disease, an unsavory childhood, poor environment, racial prejudices, or social injustices.  Love says, “You’re wrong. Your behavior is sinful. Change, repent and you’ll be accepted.”  Blindness says, “You’re not wrong. Your behavior is acceptable. You don’t need to change. They must accept you or they are haters and bigots.”  Love is trying to help the blind before they go off the cliff.  The blind are leading the blind to the cliff and pushing them off. Luke 6:39   He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

 We somehow must get through to those who are blind to their own destruction.  How can we make them see that the path they are being led down is hopeless?  Here is the problem…the blind think they can see.  They’ve accepted their course and are quite satisfied to pursue its end.  “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. Lk.9:41.   Sometimes all the preaching and teaching will not suffice.  God even tells us that there comes a time when you will not convince a person who is blind, that they are blind.  Luke 16:28-31 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’   But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

What we can do, is first pray and seek that God turns their heart.  With God all things are possible and the prayers of a righteous person are very effective (James 5:16).

Second, we need to live quiet and righteous lives.  Many of those who have wandered down the wrong path have, years later, looked across the way to those who were living right and opened their eyes.  The Prodigal Son said ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. Luke 15:17-18.

 

A little dark spot on the Sun

Courtesy NASA archives

Courtesy NASA archives

The first telescope I ever had was a K-Mart Focal-24”. I remember opening the box and discovered a small disk lens that had “Sun-Filter” stamped around the edge.  I had been warned by the sales clerk, my mother, my father and my grandmother repeatedly; “DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! What a dilemma!  The very first thing I wanted to do was now look at the sun. With some persuasion and assurances from the manufacturers paperwork that the Sun-filter was indeed safe to use, I quickly assembled my new telescope and pointed towards the biggest star in the sky.  The filter lens was extremely thick with a deep green tint. It works in the same manner as a welder’s masks, which protects their eyes from blinding ultraviolet light. It also now reminds me of the veil that Moses must have worn to protect the children of Israel from the radiant glow of God reflected off Moses face. (Ex.34:33-35; 2 Cor.3:13) With the filter in I turned my attention to the sun and gazed with great wonderment at a large number of sunspots that covered the disk of the Sun. They are the first things that I had ever observed in the heavens with the aid of a telescope. Dark irregular shapes on a seemly perfect bright round disk. I have, at times, contemplated this as a unique comparison of ourselves (dark and irregular) swallowed up by the greatness of our Father (bright and perfect).

Upon closer examination there are some even more curious spiritual comparisons we can draw from the phenomena of sunspots. Turns out, sunspots are not really dark, they’re only perceived that way because of where there at; on the surface of the brightest thing in the sky – our Sun.  If you were to take these huge spots off the Sun and isolate them away from the glare of the sun, they would actual be much brighter than a full moon.

Compared to God, we appear dark and void. However, we are not darkness, but light, unless we choose to embrace the darkness. Luke 11:35-36 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. (36)  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”  Turns out sunspots are fighting for the light.  As has been observed, sunspots eventual wane and grow brighter as the surrounding surface of the sun overtakes the magnetic flux which creates the cooler sunspot.  Emptiness is filled with energy and substance, darkness is swallowed up by light.

Sunspots are cooler than the surrounding surface of the sun. By comparison, Sunspots average 5000 F and the surrounding surface of the Sun is 10000 F.  What you’re actually looking at is more of a deep hole of cooler energy falling as hotter energy is rising, or in the case of the Sun, bubbling to the surface.  On earth, this plays out as a tornado or hurricane. Sunspots are therefore gigantic vortex’s or magnetic storms.  As on earth, storms are temporary and do not last long (comparatively speaking), they falter and give way to the greater energy which produced them.  We often think of storms as some wicked rebellion against nature, bent on destroying the calm.  Truth is, as has been observed through the magnitude of sunspots, storms are craving equilibrium or a better way of putting it; Peace!  This is actually the status of humans in the world that God created.  We are constantly struggling to find our way or come to some peace. The result of this struggle to find peace are millions and millions of little storms.  These storms have been ragging from day one and God has provided us the equilibrium or Peace.  John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Submitting to the will of God is the quickest way of getting through the storm. Let Him have His way with you! Then you’ll no longer be a sunspot, but a part of His Glorious Son.

 

Darryl Fuller

Real problems

puppy licking catI’ve recently (well, it seems like all the time) been dealing with plumbing problems.  Interestingly enough, I’ve become, in my mind, rather good at something I loathe. Getting two pieces of pipe glued together is, after all, fairly simple; even a child can perform such a task. Keeping them from leaking however, is a different tale and one that can reduce the brightest of minds into squalling puddles of tears. Truthfully though, plumbing, a problem? Hardly! An annoyance maybe, but one should never classify leakiness with bleakness. Chicken Little proclaimed, “The sky is falling”, not “My coop is sinking.”  There are plenty of real problems in the world and plenty of people dealing with serious issues.  However, chances are good that what we perceive to be problems in our lives are not really problems at all.

In contrast consider some of the faithful people of God in the Old Testament. Now there were some folks that were dealing with tough problems! Heb 11:35-38  Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–   of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

 Still feeling poorly? Check out the problems of the Apostles. 1Co 4:11-13 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,  (12)  and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; (13) when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

We spend too much time worrying with the appearance of our homes and yards.  When we have friends and family over, we’re self-conscious  of the lack of room.  We work incessantly over the mortgage payment, the insurance premium, garbage bill, utility cost, security issues and general over-all maintenance.  We build too, add on, remodel, repaint, re-carpet, all because we believe that our homes are daily problems that must be dealt with.  Listen to Jesus; Mat 8:20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” If we have a safe place to sleep with walls and a roof, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, we don’t have a problem!

 I read in the news yesterday, of a woman in Illinois who was just sentenced to four years in prison for the manslaughter of her adopted child who had cerebral palsy.  This woman has ovarian cancer and on the morning she attempted to kill herself and did kill her child, she was suffering with extraordinary pain.  She had lost control of her faculties, soiling her bed, wrought with fever, unable to care for her child who was in an even worse predicament, and she did the unthinkable.  She wanted to end the pain for herself and could not bear the thought of her child left helpless. To her dismay, she lived! Now she will spend her remaining years, in prison, suffering, consumed with guilt and cancer with no child to comfort, care and love. Now, she is someone with a problem.

If we have Christ in our lives (Col.3:3), we have no problems. If we have been cleansed from the stain of sin by His blood, we have no problems.  If we have been added to His church through baptism (Acts 2:38-41, Rom.6:1-6), we have no problems.  If we are walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7), we have no problems. If we live and breathe and carry s the hope of eternity with Christ (1 Tim.4:10), we have no problems.

                My friend, if you’re not in Christ and Christ is not in you; you’ve got a real problem!

Darryl Fuller