Archive for the ‘Helping Others’ category

Better Than a Stripper

September 13, 2015

I heard the account of a disabled man in a wheelchair who visited strip clubs occasionally and was acquainted with amateur porn stars. He said the women at strip clubs treated him better than anyone else. They dealt with him like a human being and weren’t patronizing or condescending.

What an odd thing. Yet there are those times when it seems the world behaves more uprightly than those of us who claim to know Christ as savior. I find a lesson in this. Shouldn’t we show compassion–not pity or avoidance–to those who are disabled or different from us? Shouldn’t we behave better than a stripper?

Romans 12, selected verses–
3.For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…
9.Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10.Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;…
15.Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16.Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Galatians 6, selected verses–
2.Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3.For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself…
10.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

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Don’t Get Used Up

September 29, 2013

If you’re of a mind to be a reformer and you want to make a positive impact on the world, here’s something to think about. Think about this especially if you’re planning to join the military, become a government employee or join the intelligence community.

If you pay attention to the right sources in the alternative media, you’ll discover that political leaders in countries where there’s turmoil are CIA assets. They’ll find their government is turned over to someone else–the latest asset. Or an assassinated leader proves to have been an asset.

Similarly, reports come out from time to time in the alternative media that suicidal shooters who carry out mass shootings are intelligence assets of one kind or other. Or the shooter is a victim of mind control.

Sound too conspiratorial for you? Sorry, but the world is evil and in the clutches of the Evil One.

My larger point is this. If you think you can do good by getting closer to power centers, think again. They’ll use you up and spit you out when they’re done with you. You may even be killed.

If you’re a believer in Christ, stay away from trying to build God’s kingdom by working through the devil’s system. God will establish His kingdom when He’s good and ready, and He’ll do it in His own way.

Be assured that God won’t use you up. He has better plans for you.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6

Dinner Can Wait

May 20, 2012

Luke 10:38-42
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Last week I sat in on the Sunday school class at the church my in-laws attend. Luke 10:38-42 came into active discussion.

It’s the famous story of Mary and Martha. Many sermons have been devoted to it, no doubt scolding Martha for being the bad girl.

But did Jesus say she was?

Martha was preoccupied with serving. She knew she had a very special guest, and she likely wanted to make sure things were done right and well. Who can fault her for that?

After all, she was serving the Lord, wasn’t she? Thus, she complained and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her.

Mary was at Jesus’ feet, hearing His word. Jesus told Martha that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

So what do we take from this? Is Jesus saying Mary is superior because she was hearing the word of God? Was Martha inferior because she wasn’t listening in?

Let’s put things in context. Suppose you have guests coming over for supper at 6:30. They’re expecting a meal. But what if you conduct a Bible study instead with no meal to accompany it?

Wouldn’t your guests be surprised? They might be disappointed and upset. They might not ever come back.

Obviously, it’s not that teaching the Bible is a bad thing. It’s just that your guests would be expecting a meal. That’s what they thought was supposed to happen at 6:30.

The account of Mary and Martha is a different setting. Jesus was only on the earth for a short time. It was a rare and special treat to hear the word spoken directly from Him.

So many times we read the Gospels and think every story must apply directly to us. Much of the Bible is for us, but not necessarily to us. In this instance, we need to consider the bigger picture.

Yes, being busy and preoccupied without taking time for God’s word isn’t good for us. And sometimes we think we’re serving the Lord, but maybe what we’re doing isn’t how He wants to be served. We should check with Him first.

In the account of Mary and Martha, we need to see what’s not said. Jesus didn’t say Martha’s desire to serve was bad.

In fact, He shows us He knew exactly what was on her heart when He made His reply to her. Isn’t that encouraging and comforting? Whenever we get bogged down with what we think is right, He knows what’s on our hearts and minds as well.

Jesus didn’t say she shouldn’t have been focused on service. It’s just that Mary was taking in His word, which was the better thing to do right then because of His short time among mankind.

Having said all that, maybe He was simply saying to Martha that dinner can wait.

Did Jesus Dismiss the Poor?

May 13, 2012

Matthew 26:6-13
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

When Jesus said, “For ye have the poor always with you,” did He dismissively condemn the poor to be overlooked or ignored?

Some seem to think so. At least that’s their attitude. “Oh, well, we can’t do anything about the poor. Jesus said we’ll always have them with us after all.”

Consider that a significant event was taking place. The time was not long before Jesus was tried and crucified. He was being anointed with oil by a woman.

Kings in Israel in times past had been anointed with oil. Jesus said the woman did it in preparation for His burial. Furthermore, her deed would always be remembered.

But He wasn’t being dismissive when he said the poor would always be with us. It’s a fact of life. It’s part of the human condition, brought on by the Fall from the time of Genesis 3.

What Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples is wrapped up in the second part of his sentence. “But me ye have not always.”

In other words, His time on the earth was short. It would come to an end soon, unlike the presence of the poor. There would always be time to do something for them. His soon coming death was more important for the moment.

In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 15:11 mentions that the poor would always be around. Israel was told to be good to the poor. As time went on, they weren’t. And they suffered judgement for that, among many other things the Lord accused them of.

God isn’t going to go against His own benevolent character. Why would He take Israel to task for not caring for the poor, then be dismissive of them in the incident related above?

If our churches took care of their own–and if they had been doing so in decades past–we wouldn’t have so many government welfare programs today.

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indian Jokes

April 22, 2012

Warning: Below I’m going to say something crude, socially unacceptable and politically incorrect.

First, some background.

A few days ago I went to one of the sessions of the missionary conference at church. They had an international banquet, and the speaker was a man whose last name starts with W. He and his wife were going to an Indian reservation in South Dakota to spread the Gospel there.

I expected W. might have something interesting to say about ministering to Indians. (Or Native Americans, for those who think I’m being politically incorrect already.)

He didn’t say much of anything I didn’t already know. He quoted numerous Scripture verses, but I believe many were misapplied. And I didn’t sense much depth in him. Although I’m sure his question and answer session impressed an ignorant audience.

W. is 70 years old, but I got the impression he’s a novice when it comes to ministry to Indians. He was saved at age 36 and has held a number of ministry positions. His interest in Indians came about within the past 5-6 years.

It’s wonderful that a senior citizen became saved sometime along the way and is zealous about spreading the Gospel. On the other hand, it may sound harsh, but my first thought when I heard him lay out his resume is that he’s a kind of ministry butterfly.

Does he stay at anything long enough to take it seriously? Why should I or anyone else take him seriously?

OK, enough skepticism about this man for the moment. Allow a brief, but relevant diversion.

Several years ago our children went on a brief summer missions trip with church people to the Crow Indian reservation in Montana. My daughter was sure she wanted to go back and minister to the children there. Events of life, including upcoming marriage, have nearly snuffed out that ambition.

In an effort to educate myself about our Indian friends, I’ve read the books by Crying Wind as well as those of Kent Nerburn about his travels with an Indian elder.

Thus, I felt well informed when listening to W.’s missionary conference presentation.

W. started out by telling three jokes about Indians. I won’t bother to relate any of them here. They seemed innocent enough, but they reinforced stereotypes about Indians and white people’s relationship to them.

The audience laughed. I’d heard the jokes before and found them boring. I also found them offensive.

It’s hardly culturally sensitive for W. to tell such jokes. Does he respect Indians? Did he hear the jokes from Indians? Do they laugh when they hear them? I’d feel better if the answers to those questions was affirmative.

Call me politically correct or even liberal if you like. But this isn’t about that. I thought W. came to talk to us about precious souls. Maybe he’s more sensitive than I give him credit for. But why didn’t that come through to me?

He says he and his wife love the Indians the same way Paul loved Israel, as expressed in the first few verses of Romans 10. I find that difficult to believe.

Nonetheless, the comparison to Paul brings up the question: What joke book did Paul use?

I had hoped W. came to us with a more serious view of both God’s word and the people he and his wife were intending to minister to.

Instead, W. strikes me as an insensitive Baptist rounder.

Oops! I let his denominational affiliation slip, didn’t I? My bias is showing. And we haven’t even gotten to the politically incorrect part of this post.

Why is it that nearly every preacher and special speaker feels the need to tell jokes before getting into the subject matter? Why must they treat the handling of God’s holy word as if they’re stand up comics warming up the audience?

If W. were seeking to raise support to minister to inner city blacks in a major metropolitan area, would it be acceptable if he told “n i g g e r” jokes?

(I spread out the spelling of the word so WordPress doesn’t take offense and shut down this blog. What that says about our sensitivities is another story in itself.)

So, yes, I was both offended and bored by W. It’s not the cross which strikes me as foolish. It’s the fools who talk about it that bother me.

But here’s something in his defense.

He and his wife may do a mighty work for the Lord among the Indians they minister to. They may accomplish a hundred times more than I could if I were in his position.

I don’t know that. I’m only speculating.

A friend rebuked me years ago, telling me not to question what the Holy Spirit can use.

It’s strange to me what the Lord can do. I marvel at it.

I only wish those who go forth in the name of the Lord to spread His Gospel would have a much greater respect for both His word and the people they minister to.

Is that too much to ask?

One on One

April 15, 2012

Do you believe Christ rose from the dead to save you from your sins? How many others to you know who believe on Him for salvation?

How many millions don’t believe?

Bibles are easily had in America. We’re awash in Christian radio and music. Ministries put forth their content all over the Internet, Twitter, etc. It’s there for anybody who wants it.

But what’s still the best way to reach others with the Gospel? One on one.

And, by the way, actions still speak louder than words. That should make you and me do our best to live righteously.

Don’t give up reaching out to neighbors, family, friends, etc.

Don’t Refuse His Gifts

January 1, 2012

John Piper points out in Desiring God that it gives God joy to bless us and do things for us.. He wants all things to bring Him glory, and blessing those of us who are His children gives Him joy..

As a result, it’s important for us to seek what He has to offer us. This doesn’t mean he’s going to give us a new car and house on a whim. While He can and does often bless with material gifts, what He gives us of greatest value is spiritual blessings

But how can He have joy in giving to us? Let me share an example I’ve never forgotten.

Years ago my wife and I rented a small apartment from a wonderful, generous Christian woman named Mrs. H. We thought of her as our Pennsylvania grandmother.

I don’t remember exactly what she wanted to do for us this particular time, but I wasn’t comfortable with receiving her generosity. She may have treated us to a meal at a restaurant. Or she may have done something else to help us out.

I told her she didn’t have to do it. I’d been raised with the notion that it’s not good to become indebted to someone else.

She told me she wanted to do this certain thing for us. Gently she told me not to refuse a gift because it gave her a blessing to give it. It would be hurtful for me to deprive her of that blessing.

The lesson from this has stayed with me. It may be more blessed to give than to receive. But receiving graciously will bless the giver.

I’ve heard others express the same idea as Mrs. H. It’s indeed a godly attitude. Notice the Lord’s attitude in the following verses. He wants to bless you and me in ways we may not understand.

Hebrews 11:2b
…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Ephesians 1:3-6
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.