Monday, March 21, 2016

He who hesitates...

Many years ago I was sitting at my aunt's house for a family gathering. I was talking with my uncle, dad, and anyone else around. As we were talking the conversation turned to driving and things that happened while you were driving. I joked about my great-grandmother and said that to her "Green means go. Red means stop. Yellow means try to beat the red light." We talked about it for a few minutes and my uncle said something that has always stuck with me. It was the first time I ever remembered someone saying to me "He who hesitates is lost."

Now this old adage is believed to be a misquotation of a phrase from the Joseph Addison play Cato from 1712. The idea behind the phrase is that "a person who spends too much time deliberating about what to do loses the chance to act altogether." Even though the idea of the phrase is much older than 300 years, the truth behind the phrase is never-changing. Whether we hesitate to go through a light on yellow, ask someone out on a date, or make a career change, opportunities are gone in the blink of an eye. As the adage would put it, they're lost. Lost to time, circumstances, and the inevitable change of life.

For those who are believers in Christ, they've heard the horror stories of those who hesitated too long in making a decision to follow Christ and now are lost for eternity. It's a horrible and sickening feeling to know that someone we've known, someone we've loved, someone who loved us, hesitated and is now lost. Eternally separated from a loving God and the peace and joy He offers. But before we make ourselves sick over it, we have to remember that the choice was up to them. I'm not saying that to be callous or hard-hearted. It is the reality of the situation. I can no more make a decision for Christ for someone else than they can for me. I'm saddened at the thought of any who choose to reject Christ in this life and will face the torments of hell because of that decision. But again, it is their decision to accept or reject Christ.

Is there possibly anything worse than thinking about those that have rejected Christ and are now lost for eternity? Yes. Yes there is. What is worse is the fact that some of those who are lost for eternity never heard the Gospel message shared by those who had the message. Its like standing on the shore holding a life preserver while watching a person drown right before your eyes. Believers have the hope of life, the one thing that will rescue a person from certain death, and too often we watch the person slip under the water for the final time. 

God tells us in His Word "For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2, NIV). There is no day like today for making a decision to follow Christ. There is no day like today for telling someone about Christ. If we hesitate to share the Gospel people will be lost.

I hope you'll be encouraged by today's post to speak boldly about the truth of the Gospel with those who do not know Christ. If you are reading this today and you don't have a relationship with God through Christ and you want to learn more check out this link or this link and then email me at I'll be glad to help you start a relationship with God.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Worry About Yourself!

There is a video that was posted to YouTube of a little girl trying to unbuckle her car seat as her dad films her. When he asks what he can do to help her, she repeatedly tells him "Worry about yourself!" You can watch the video here. The video has been viewed over 8.2 million times since March 2013. The phrase used by this little girl has become something of a mantra or joking catchphrase around our house, and mostly because of my wife. This phrase is the answer to almost any question with the words "why" or "what are you doing" in it. It's all been in good fun. Ironically, this has been one of those ways that my wife has brought her work home with her. Her use of this phrase started when she started telling her co-workers this phrase. Now, the boys and I are constantly being reminded to worry about ourselves. Not to be outdone we repeat the phrase back at her like a bunch of mocking 3 year old kids, myself included!

The phrase this little girl uses is rather sound theology when you think about it. She is basically paraphrasing Jesus when she (or my wife) says "Worry about yourself!" Jesus says in Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV), "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." This is sound theology from the mouth of God when it comes to how we ought to deal with others who are falling into sin and the sin in our own life.

Usually these verses are used by people seeking to avoid being judged by others. If someone's sin is pointed out, then the one pointing it out is called hypocritical and told to "Get the plank out" of their own eye. They're basically told "Worry about yourself!" They are right. We shouldn't judge others for their sins (Matthew 7:2). And yes we're all hypocrites at one time or another, regardless of how much we try not to be. But the fact of the matter is, Jesus doesn't say "Don't try to help your brother or sister who is struggling with sin." What Jesus does say is that we ought to make sure our own house is in order before helping someone else with theirs. It is hypocritical for a person struggling with their own sin to call someone else out on their sin. But it isn't hypocritical or judgmental, for one who has sought forgiveness and is seeking God's help with sin, to seek to help someone struggling with sin. If we had to wait until we were sinless to help struggling believers, then we couldn't do it on this side of eternity. Notice what Jesus said in verse 5 where He says, "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." We need to first deal with our own sin and then seek to loving rebuke and correct fellow believers who are stuck in sin (James 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16). We don't avoid helping others, we simply make sure we don't have anything holding us back before we try to help them.

My dose of encouragement for you today is this. If you know of someone who is struggling with some sin in their life and you want to help them, follow these steps:
1. First deal with your own sin by repenting and seeking God's forgiveness.
2. Pray for them. Don't jump the gun and think you know what they need.
3. Ask God to use you to minister to the one struggling. Ask for them to see your actions as a help and not a hindrance.
4. Be prepared. They will probably view your help as you being nosy, judgmental, and hypocritical. So be prepared.
5. Don't give up. When a believer is struggling with sin, we need to pray for them and try to help them.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Building a good fence.

This past weekend I spent about 8 hours fixing the fence around the perimeter of our farm. I learned some valuable spiritual lessons from my time spent bending, wrapping, and pulling barbed wire. Here are just a few of them.

Don't let your neighbor build your fence.
We had a neighbor do some maintenance to their property and in the process they tore down a large section of our fence. The neighbor never told us about it and our cows got out because of it. These are the same neighbors who, in a different section of the property line, put up a convoluted mess of 10 strands of barbed wire in what seemed to be a basket weaving style. Needless to say, both of these fencing issues came about because our neighbor had been allowed to mess with our fence.

If you want a good spiritual fence to protect you, then you cannot expect anyone else to build it for you. No one else can properly maintain your spiritual fence. Not your parents, your siblings, your children, your spouse, your friends, or your pastor. In the book of Nehemiah we read about the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah had each person build the section of wall that would protect their home and family. Why did he do that? Because if you build your wall (fence) you'll make sure it's done right.

Build your fences strong.
The old farmer's saying is that "Your fences need to be pig-tight, horse-high, and bull-strong." There is definitely some truth in that statement. But after we put some newly weaned calves into a field separate from their mothers, I'd amend that to "Your fences need to be strong enough to keep a calf from it's momma." Two of our calves broke through our divider fence and went back to their mothers. Needless to say the fence should have been tighter, higher, and stronger than I originally built it.

A weak fence is a useless fence. If you don't have a strong spiritual fence then you leave yourself open to all sorts of spiritual issues. Fences are used for two things. To keep things in or to keep things out. If you want to protect yourself spiritually from the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9), then you need to do the work to build up a strong spiritual fence. The five spiritual disciplines that will help build a strong spiritual fence include: Prayer, Bible Study, Worship, Fellowship, & Service. As you practice these disciplines your fence will become stronger and stronger.

Talk to the One who knows how to build your fence.
Nearly 20 years ago I started helping my dad farm. In those 20 years he's taught me many valuable lessons about farming. Last week while I was fixing a section of fence, he came to check on me and see what I was doing. Even after all these years, I found myself asking his advice on how to do something. While working on the fence, he kindly advised me to do something differently than the way I was trying to do it. Both times his counsel was spot on.

When it comes to building your spiritual fence, no one knows better what needs to go into building your spiritual fence than God. That even includes you. Most times we think we know exactly what we need to do spiritually, but we are simply fooling ourselves. God knows us more intimately than we even know ourselves (Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 10:30). That means we should seek His counsel for building our spiritual fence. As we ask Him for guidance, He will tell us how we ought to build our fence. When we start to build our fence our own way, He'll loving guide us to build it a better way. But the key is we have to spend time in prayer seeking His help.

I hope these three simple lessons from hours of fencing will help you develop a strong spiritual fence.

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