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Archive for July, 2008

“You have heard that it was said, ’An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Matthew 5:38-42
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Forgiveness Makes You Like Christ

If we believe that having a forgiving spirit makes us like Christ, then it stands to reason that an unforgiving spirit makes us like satan. Think about it. When we adhere to the eye-for-an-eye doctrine, we pay back exactly the bad thing that was received and are emulating the evil that was perpetrated against us. No wonder Jesus would rather see us with two black eyes.

While we are in this mode we tend to become emotionally attached to those who we refuse to forgive, carrying around burdens of loathing and contempt. It is like stepping in dog poop, scraping it off your shoe, and then carrying it around in your back pocket so you will never forget what happened to you.

Jesus would remind us that any time spent with satan is time that could be spent with Him. The more time we spend with Christ the more we become like Him, taking on both His flavor and fragrance, just like water does as it streams through a garden hose.

satan’s Balancing Act

Another mistake to avoid is shifting blame when we have wronged others, catching ourselves before actually declaring, “What I did may have been wrong, but he deserved it.”

In a worldly sense we might be correct, but in godly sense we have just been tricked by the devil. While the assertion might be 100% accurate, attempts at balancing the scales are only hiding the fact that we have still sinned. Satan found a way for us to justify our behavior and we took the bait. We latch onto to it because it seems to be fair and equitable, but somewhere down the road the Lord will reveal the error.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

“But I want justice!” 

Let it go.

Stop and think about it.  What do you really want?  Do you want justice for yourself or would your rather have mercy?  Oh, and I’m not talking about how you you handled yourself in this situation, but all the other times (remember when you did something to someone else that is exactly like what this guy just did to you?). If you’re truthful you will want mercy, not justice. If Jesus first came to dole out justice, we would all be a heap of trouble. Praise be to God that when we deserved justice, He sent His Son to give us mercy. By the way, there is a bottom line: Christ has forgiven us and we are mandated to forgive others.

Romans 5:8 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth…Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. Exodus 21:27 + John 8:36
Hmmm? What to Write About…

God has been so gracious this week; my mind has been a flood with things spiritual, a cornucopia of blog-abilities. This morning however, as I sat in Bible study with Pastor Humberto Alfaro, I did not have a specific topic in mind.

I wonder what blessed-thing the Lord will afford me today.

Five Minutes Later…

My phone rang—yes, right in the middle of Humberto’s teaching. Fortunately my ring-tone is set to, ‘When the Saints Come Marching in,’ so apparently no one noticed. I tapped the side of the phone to silence the ringer. Seconds later, it rang again and I re-silenced. I got up and walked outside to see if I recognized the number and it rang again.

“Hmm, ” I thought, “this might not be good.”

“Hi Dave, this is Shana at ‘Rip Tide’.”

Shana is on staff for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and she runs the Christian camp over at the Ocean Grove youth temple with her husband Joey. ‘Rip Tide’ is the name given to the group she oversees, the group my daughter is a part of.

“Grace is fine, but she had a little accident. She knocked her tooth out.”

The youth temple is less than 100 feet from where I was, in fact, when I looked over at the building, I could see Shana talking to me on her cell phone.

“I’ll be right there, ” I said.

God’s Hand

Almost immediately I saw God’s hand in the situation as it unfolded before me. Gracie, my daughter, was unruffled by the event. There she stood with a bloody, tissue-wrapped ice cube to her mouth…Quite the little trooper.

Jordan, another staffer, had located the tooth and instinctively placed it in a container of milk. He was in the process of scooting over to his dad’s office (his dad the local dentist), to see if Gracie could be immediately seen. He was back in a flash with a, “We can take her right over”

Taking nothing for granted, I prayed as we walked the two blocks to Doc Whilden’s office. As we walked we were met by Carol Whilden, Doc Whilden’s wife and Jordan’s mom—she had been at Bible study with me when I had gotten the call.

“We prayed for Grace, ” she said.

Doc Whilden took us right in and within moments he was manipulating Grace’s tooth back into the hole in her mouth; no time for Novocain. Grace sat obediently in the chair, not a tear, not a whimper. When the good doctor was finished, he said to me, “Let’s pray together for Grace’s tooth, ” and we did.

Later That Same Day

Joey, Shana’s husband, gave me a call at home and it was such a joy to tell him what a great job the staff had done and how God’s hand was evident throughout all the activities. God’s calming Spirit had fallen on everyone: Grace, me, the OG staff, and yes, even my wife when I called her to tell her about the adventure. Sometimes, I am just so grateful to be a part of God’s family.

El Salvador Flashback

I could not help but recall the testimony of Pastor Humberto from a few days earlier, of when he had visited a desolate church in his native El Salvador. The saints were lining up for prayer to be healed of headaches and stomach-aches because they had no medicines whatsoever. All they had was Jesus Christ.

Why Are We So Blessed?

I do not know for sure. But one thing I do know. Because we are blessed, we are called to be a blessing to others. God is clear about this in His word to us, the Bible. Whether it is spiritual poverty or physical poverty, we are to take the gift and grace we freely received and share it with others when He calls us to do so.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

2012 Update:

When I took Gracie to our dentist for a follow up, he said that he doubted the repaired tooth would hold, but if it did she would likely need a root canal. Long story short, four years later the tooth held and there was no need for any additional procedures to save it, unless of course you count prayer as a procedure.

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Rejoice always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
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I am blessed. I live in a beautiful region of New Jersey, a place Jersian’s affectionately refer to as down-the-shoreToday the beauty of the ocean, the grassy dunes, and scavenging gulls were all cloaked behind a chunky fog that staggered in across the tide. Yet, despite the fact I could not see God’s splendor, I knew it was there. I beheld it yesterday and I trust I will see it again very soon.

Rejoice Always

And so it is with joy. Joy, like beauty, is not only an emotion. Nor does it require a focused eye to be seen; joy is hope sustained in the heart of man and there is but One source: our Father in Heaven. Joy drawn from any other well is tainted. In actuality it is not joy at all, for it has no claim perpetual. Joy in Christ’s resurrection, a proof of His grace and our salvation is a joy everlasting. It is this joy we take pleasure in and draw upon when fog rolls in to hinder our walk.

Joy is the wrapping and bow that surrounds the gift of grace and its compelling beauty is its durability; it can be used over and over again. As with God’s grace (our assured inheritance), joy is both given and received, yet the choice to use it is still ours. As you might receive a new bicycle as a gift, still the giver cannot make you hop on and peddle. In this light, to deny joy is to embrace grumbling and quench the work of the Holy Spirit. Just as the wise man will choose vision over darkness, a faithful man will always choose joy.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10

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Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; For I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You! Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I cry to You all day long. Rejoice the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me. Psalms 86:1b-7
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So Much To Do

Dr. Humberto Alfaro, a professor of practical theology at the New York Theological Seminary in New York City was our teacher/pastor this week for Bible Hour in Ocean Grove and he shared with us this morning a wonderful story.

Pastor Alfaro had returned to his native El Salvador on one of his many mission trips home and was called to preach in a remote part of the country. After sharing a ride with a horde of chickens in the back of a rickety pick-up truck, he found himself on horseback for the remaining six hour journey. When he finally arrived at the out-of-the-way church, he was very sore and very tired.

After bringing the message, he was ready to find a secluded area where he could sleep, but was stunned to see the entire congregation (of perhaps 500 saints) lining up for prayer. The church’s pastor told him, “This is our time of healing…We pray for each person.”

 

I wanted to sleep, ” Pastor Alfaro confessed to us, “but if this is what they do, I had to do it—sleep would have to wait.”

Pastor Alfaro continued, “So one after the other the people approached the altar for prayer. ‘I have a headache, ’ one would say. The next would announce, ‘My stomach is upset, ’ and then yet another would, ‘I have an itch.’ Frustrated (and in need of sleep), I turned to he pastor and whispered, ‘Don’t you have Alka-Seltzer or Tylenol for these people?’ ”

“Brother Humberto, ” he said, “All we have is Jesus.”

The discovery, as paradoxical and extraordinary as it seemed, was that their physical, economic, and emotional poverty led them to spiritual wealth. Oh that we could be that close and in that much need of our Lord and Savior.

Corrie Ten Boom likely said it best when she declared, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 3:13
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The guys who had Jesus arrested and crucified (about two months earlier), now had Peter and John arrested for preaching the Good News. Upon questioning them they marveled not only at what they knew, but their bold presentation as well.
They quickly surmised, “They had been with Jesus,” thus implying that the knowledge and wisdom of Jesus had somehow worn-off on them. While their theology was a tad off, the principle they were citing was right on! When we hangout with Jesus, we will take on His attributes and fragrancemuch like water takes on the flavor of the garden hose from which it passes through.

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15

Pass the Hose
 
You have been blessed by the Father and with that blessing comes responsibility.  It is not so much a work of your hands as much as it is an opening of your hands.  Consider what you have.  Consider how you got it.  Consider giving a portion of it away.  You don’t have to, but because the love of Christ compels you, you will want to. To deny the sensation is to quench the working of the Holy Spirit.
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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
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Debunking the Lies

It’s safe to say that most folks don’t believe in a divinely-orchestrated, six-day Creation. So how then do we go about presenting these Old-Testament truths as facts to those who would rather believe you and I crawled out from beneath a rock billions of years ago?

Bring it Back to Jesus

Can you see yourself in the Genesis 1 account above? I can. Like the earth, God also created me. Sin on the other hand left me without form or purpose. Void of godly recognition, darkness prevailed. But then came the cleansing by God’s word. Where’s that? It’s in the water, for we see it throughout the Bible as a symbolic reference to His word, as in:

He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… Ephesians 5:26
Do You See Jesus Yet?

Some illumination will help:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:3

Now enlightened, it isn’t long before we discover that the word is none other than Christ Jesus!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2

But That Won’t Convince Anyone

Are you sure? If your friends believe in evolution ~and~ Jesus, perhaps they are unaware that He (Jesus) believed in Adam (and that he was created by the Father), so much so Adam is included in His genealogy. If you believe in Jesus and if you also believe He is not capable of lying, then it has to be true: God created Adam and Eve, thus making evolution the lie. Continue reading Genesis and endeavor to see Jesus in every verse.


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But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-4

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams, ” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Who can forget these immortal words spoken by Terence Mann (James Earl Jones):

James Earl Jones in 2010.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Well, it’s a lie.

I like baseball and I loved this movie, but Ray and Terry, the only constant through all the years is God — while we are often faith-less, He has been, and always will be faithful. Faithfulness is at the very core of Christ Jesus and that truth is exemplified by King David in Psalm 118:8:

It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man

…Which just happens to be the exact middle of the Bible!

Hope you enjoyed the memory and the reminder.

These articles may or may not be related (I haven’t read them all):

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