Bethany Church news
Remember Robin Williams in that hilarious movie, "Mom Forever?"
What? Don't remember that one? Well, that's what they call it in Italy, anyway. We know it better as Mrs. Doubtfire.
Some American-made movies and TV shows end up with very different names by the time they reach foreign turf. Often, something gets lost in the translation.
For instance, Baywatch is known as "The Lifeguards of Malibu" in Germany. Meanwhile, Growing Pains is "Our Loud Home" in Germany and "Parents Wear Blue Jeans" in Italy. Here are just a few more:
1) Life, Love, Cows (France) (City Slickers)
2) Field of Wonders (Russia) (Wheel of Fortune)
3) Sensation of Living (Spain) (Beverly Hills 90210)
4) Stone Age Family (Japan) (The Flintstones)
5) Mama, I Missed the Plane (Italy) (Home Alone)
Our ability to communicate with each other was foiled when Man decided to reach heaven by his own efforts, and God confounded our language at Babel as a result. But as with all punishments, God also provided a means to reconcile ourselves with him again.
Mark 16:17 (KJV);
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
Acts 2:4 (GWT);
"All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak."
1 Corinthians 12:10 (NCV);
"The Spirit gives to another person the power to do miracles, to another the ability to prophesy. And he gives to another the ability to know the difference between good and evil spirits. The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak in different kinds of languages and to another the ability to interpret those languages."
The day will come when all the believers from all over the earth will be able to understand each other perfectly.
There are some phrases which just naturally lead you into trouble. I have found a list of specific phrases which almost always cause problems for the pastor who uses them. Here they are, as found in Leadership Magazine:
10. I think I've earned the right to say this.
9. Thank you for the unanimous vote of confidence.
8. We'll incorporate a seeker sensitive approach into our present worship service.
7. In ancient Israel, the people danced before the Lord.
6. Recently, I've been reading about the importance of publicly confessing your own sins, so today ...
5. I'll show the church secretary who's boss around here!
4. I'm sure I can trust you to keep this confidential.
3. Then there are no hard feelings, right?
2. I'm sure Mrs. Jones will agree that she's been our organist long enough.
1. They need to realize this kitchen belongs to everyone.
You must gauge your words carefully in the light of who your audience is. I do NOT mean that off-color language is OK as long as you are outside the church, I mean the meaning of words differs among different people. How will they react to them? The firearms instructor who is directing the shooting range can yell ‘fire’ and get vastly different results than you will get if you shout the same thing in a crowded movie theater.
The Word of God tells us:
Job 13:5 (KJV);
"O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom."
Proverbs 15:2 (KJV);
"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."
Proverbs 18:6 (GWT);
"By talking, a fool gets into an argument, and his mouth invites a beating."
I managed a huge discussion group in the MSN communities on the topic of Origins. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, students, and at least one college professor all took part there. I had the ONLY such group that had a rule requiring 'civility'. It is a most difficult thing to maintain, but I did my level best to be even handed about it. I started this group based upon civil discussion because I have seen many people come to the usual internet discussion groups in an attempt to learn something, and be ridiculed for their statements, denigrated for their opinions, and called names for their questions. In many instances, these people then just leave the group, and never get the answers to their questions, and never have their own opinions heard. In my group, I insisted that only IDEAS were discussed, and not the people that HOLD those ideas.
Do you remember that chant from childhood: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" It simply isn't true.
Everyone has sometimes been hurt by words. We are hurt by lying words. We are hurt by unkind words. We are hurt by angry words. Words absolutely can hurt us.
The Word of God tells us:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV);
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Colossians 3:12-14 (NCV);
"God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity."
Forgive others for the hurtful words they might use – and always guard carefully your own tongue, that you cause no hurt by the ones you use yourself.
How do you view Women? My dad, God rest his soul, told me repeatedly as I was growing up that women were scheming creatures that were only out for a mans money. I knew better than to ask him why mom married him, since when they got married all he owned was a horse, and had borrowed $20 to get married on. His future income prospects were further limited by his 3rd grade education, so I knew this simply could not have been my mom's motivation.
When I moved away from home, I discovered that there were many different opinions of Women; his misguided ideas were not unique.
The model of woman in tribal patriarchalism is that of a brood mare. In hedonistic naturalism, she is the bunny or plaything. In feminist ideology, she is the self-sufficient career woman. In romanticism, she is the fairy princess or maiden in distress waiting to be rescued.
How are our churches beautified, our sick tended, our poor fed, our children taught and cared for and civilized? How do we males manage to get out of the house wearing matching clothes? Do you think men usually handle these things? Not hardly! Compare the church attendance on Mothers day when MOM gets her wishes with Fathers day when Dad gets HIS wishes. It is the Women that are the church's strong rock. As they were the last at the foot of the cross, so they have become the first at the altar.
What are women REALLY like? In my over seven decades of life, I have not figured that out yet. I do know one thing, however: Dad was wrong. He saw women only as evil:
Proverbs 6:24-25 (KJV);
“To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”
But he never saw them as virtuous:
Proverbs 31:10-12 (KJV);
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."
How many of each are there? My experience shows far more of the second than the first, and includes the virtuous one God blessed me with.
At Christmas, we bought one of those candles-in-a-jar, which are burned inside of a glass container. We both enjoyed it so much that when it burned out, we bought several other large candles which we placed in the jar with the remnants of the previous candle, which keeps the wax from dripping on the table where it sits. I find the wax fascinating. When cold, it is hard and brittle, but when the candle is lit, the wax melts into a pool of liquid all around the wick. After burning for a few hours, though, the entire candle warms, and the wax that was once hard becomes soft and pliable. You can easily press your finger into it, leaving a mold of your finger tip, or even bend and reshape the warm wax. Put the candle out, though, and very soon the wax becomes cold again. In this state, you can not make indentations in it, nor can you bend or reshape it.
This reminds me of the hearts of people. There are times when they grow warm, and at those times it is possible to make great impressions on them, to straighten out that which is bent, to change their basic makeup from that desired by the world to that desired by God. There are several things that soften people's hearts: the preaching of the Word, sickness, the love of another person, the loss of friends, or any number of life changing events. At those times, they are ready to hear and accept the truth, and believers should be ready and willing to introduce the truth into that prepared mind. Such opportunities are to be seized with urgent eagerness. If you love the Lord Jesus, hasten with the truth before those hearts grow cold and hard once more.
The Word of God tells us:
1 Peter 2:11-12 (NCV);
"Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul. People who do not believe are living all around you and might say that you are doing wrong. Live such good lives that they will see the good things you do and will give glory to God on the day when Christ comes again"
Always be ready with a word of testimony! The opportunity is too often a very brief one.
In our front pasture, there is a pond that fills from a wet-weather spring which often fills the pond to overflowing. The overflow runs through a waterway in the pasture that passes through a culvert in our drive, and then into Dry Branch. In the summer, this waterway is lush and green when the pasture is dry, due to the longer period of time that it receives water. In the winter, when everything is frozen, this waterway is lush and green, kept above freezing by the fresh spring-water that flows through it. When it is very dry, or very cold, we see the horses up in this waterway, eating the lush fresh grass when the rest of the pasture is too dry, or dead from winter’s frost.
You should notice the same thing in the world. Although the world is dry, the LIVING water of the Word of God keeps bringing forth new life! When the world is frozen and lifeless, the passage of the living water warms the parts of it that it comes into contact with and those parts are kept alive, fresh and growing. The
Word of God addresses this in the present in
Isaiah 32:1-4 (KJV);
"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly."
And the word of God addresses this in the future in
Matthew 24:9-13 (KJV);
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Continue to nurture yourself from the Word of God, and you will be that fresh, green waterway both today and tomorrow when the world is dry, barren, and frozen.
I just read a story of a foolish man who declared he could conquer the whole British army. When he was asked how he could possible perform such a feat, he said, "This is what I would do. I know I am the best swordsman in the world, so I would go and challenge one British soldier and kill him, then take another, and kill him. In this way I would eventually conquer the entire British army.
Modern seminar goers will recognize the similarity of this to that common business advice for conquering monstrous tasks; it is compared to eating an elephant.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
There is an application of this to the Christian witness. If we want to conquer the world for the Lord Jesus Christ, rest assured we must do it in this same fashion. We must take people one by one, and these must be brought to Christ. Otherwise the great mass will remain untouched. Do not imagine for a moment that you are going to convert a nation at once. You are to convert the people of that nation, one by one, through the power of God's Holy Spirit. It is not for you to claim you will lead an entire city to Jesus Christ. You must look to the salvation of only one person. And then of another. And another.
The Word of God tells us how to deal with individuals:
1 Peter 3:12-16 (NCV);
"The Lord sees the good people and listens to their prayers. But the Lord is against those who do evil. If you are trying hard to do good, no one can really hurt you. But even if you suffer for doing right, you are blessed.
Don't be afraid of what they fear; do not dread those things. But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed."
One bite at a time, my friends – one bite at a time.
I have seen amazing things in my life.
I have seen entertainment go from black and white silent movies to color, cinemascope, three dimensional and surround-sound mega productions.
I have seen the old scratchy radio broadcasts become high fidelity stereo television shows.
I have seen commercial airline travel go from slow propeller driven craft to monster jets that span the globe in just a few hours.
I have seen the Telephone go from a wooden box on the wall with a crank on the side of it to a sleek little cell phone people carry in their pocket or purse.
I have seen preservation of food at home go from a wooden box we purchased ice to put in for cooling to wonderful refrigerator/freezers that operate perfectly, quietly, and efficiently, and produce ice and cold water for us to use.
I have seen the lumbering automobiles that weighed a ton and a half with less than 100 HP engines turn into smaller, more nimble vehicles that have up to five hundred HP engines.
It is with regret that I see those wonderful movie technologies used to portray so much filth and decadence.
It is a shame that the Television set is used so often to bring language into our living room that I would have been whipped for speaking when I was a kid.
It is a sorry world when those hyper-fast jets take less time to get us from place to place than it takes airport security to clear us to board them.
I am ashamed of many of the conversations I hear on those wonderful new cell phones.
I am appalled by the junk food that most people keep in those wonderful new refrigerators.
And, I find it glaringly obvious that the five fold increase in Horsepower under the hood is paired with a decrease in horse sense behind the wheel.
The Word of God speaks of wisdom:
Proverbs 12:8 (KJV);
"A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised."
Proverbs 13:15 (NCV);
"People with good understanding will be well liked, but the lives of those who are not trustworthy are hard."
Proverbs 23:15-16 (NCV);
"My child, if you are wise, then I will be happy. I will be so pleased if you speak what is right."
Let us seek advances in wisdom to match the advances in technology which we enjoy, so that we might utilize those advances better than many are now doing.
Judy and I lived for several years in Alaska, where we had some wonderful adventures – and several very frightening ones too. Alaska is bigger than life – the valleys are wider, the mountains are higher, the winters are colder, the snow is deeper, the summers are brighter, the game is larger and more abundant, the streams run faster, the Northern Lights are HUGE, running horizon to horizon. Nothing there is small or commonplace. Due to the lack of contact with people, the wildlife exhibits NO fear of man – the moose and caribou are right out on the road, where you have to stop your car and let them pass. The bear have no fear of people either, which poses another problem, considering their ferocity.
People come from all over the country (and the world) to hunt in Alaska. Fred Bear came up there to kill a Kodiak using only his own line of archery equipment. There is one rule that is seldom broken, though. You don’t hunt Alaska without a guide. It is too big and too wild and too under-populated to risk such foolishness as to go out into the wilderness alone, not familiar with the area. You probably would not make it back alive. I've been there, and I can tell you that there's nothing quite like having a reliable guide when you're in unknown country. That's when you want a guide who can get you there safely and back.
Listen to how David describes God:
"For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death."
God won't lead us halfway and then desert us. He won't punch out on the time clock and go home before the job is done. Our God is forever and He will guide us all the way through this life and into His eternal presence. I have seen many godly believers in my life who have verified the truth of David's words, people who have experienced the presence and guidance of God right up to their deaths, allowing them to both live and die in peace.
You can intimately know this God, too, but only as you spend time with Him in His Word. He has promised to be your guide in this life and in the next. Read all about Him. Discover God in His Word, the Bible.
Yesterday, I touched just a bit on the dangers of debt for the church. Today, I want to go a bit further and speak of the dangers of debt for each one of us, personally. If you listen to Dave Ramsey, a Christian financial counselor, you know that he advises absolutely NO debt for ANY reason. While I agree that such a policy is absolutely the BEST situation to keep yourself in, and one in which you are MUCH safer in case of unforeseen financial problems, I am not as adamant as Dave is about it.
Some statistics show the dangers of debt. For instance, over a recent fourteen year period, when the average consumer debt payments rose from 16 to 29.5% of monthly income, personal bankruptcy filings went from 320,000 per year to 1,100,000 per year.
Judy and I have always used a little credit, but kept it within reason. For this reason, when I was down-sized, it was a manageable situation instead of a disaster for us.
And for those disasters when you have done your best and it is not enough, listen to this story from the Word of God:
II Kings 4:1-7 (KJV);
Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.
God Is In Control today, just as he was in the days of Elisha!
Some churches plan beyond their means, and others fail to plan enough. The first instance causes a small church to be saddled with a debt which they should NOT have, paying for more room than they need. The second instance causes other problems, like the one I just read about which was taken from Christian Reader. It told of a church that was more than filled, and the choir had grown so large that folding chairs had been placed up to and around the pulpit. This seriously restricted their pastor, who likes to move about when preaching. One Sunday, the pastor had flung out a hand to emphasize a point--and hit a lady choir member full in the face!
The following Sunday, the pastor had just started his sermon when the congregation broke into laughter. He stood there, confused, until someone pointed to the choir behind him. He turned around, and there sat the lady he had struck the week before, calmly wearing a catcher's mask.
We must find a place in between these two extremes in our church planning. We need ENOUGH room, but we do not need burdensome DEBT upon our places of worship! There are times when debt is almost unavoidable, such as we faced here at Bethany when the air conditioning failed, and the gas heater was insufficient to keep the place warm enough without starting it the night before, which cost extra money for propane. To avoid debt, we could have purchased a small window unit, and continued to live with the extra hours the stove had to run, or we could install a central heat-and-air system and solve both problems at once. Even though a new electrical service was required, due to the wonderful low-bid for a system by two good Christian men, one a member of the church, and a ridiculously low interest rate from the bank, we were able to obtain a small enough loan that it was paid off in nine months.
As with all things, our guidance in such matters needs to be the Word of God, which never speaks of debt in a positive manner:
Romans 13:7-8 (KJV);
"Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."
Let's have a quiz! I call this one “Where's the Fire?”
1. What group of converts burned their books of magic?
a. The Ephesians (Acts 19:19)
2. Who burned Joab's barley field just to get his attention?
a. Absalom (2 Samuel 14:28-33)
3. Who burned the Philistines' grain by tying torches to the tails of foxes?
a. Samson (Judges 15:4-5)
4. What king of Babylon burned Jerusalem?
a. Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:9)
5. What Canaanite city was burned down by the men of Dan?
a. Laish (Judges 18:26-27)
6. What Israelite had his goods burned after he had been stoned to death?
a. Achan (Joshua 7:24-25)
7. What nation burned David's city of Ziklag?
a. The Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1)
8. What king committed suicide by burning down his palace with himself inside?
a. Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
9. What judge killed about a thousand people when he burned down the tower of Shechem?
a. Abimelech (Judges 9:49)
10. What Israelite city was burned up by Pharaoh?
a. Gezer (1 Kings 9:16)
11. What tribe of Israel sacked Jerusalem and burned it?
a. Judah (Judges 1:8)
12. In Judges, what tribe had its cities burned by the other tribes?
a. Benjamin (Judges 20:48)
How did you do?
Remember, it is God’s direction to study scripture, and quizzes like this are always fun – but there is only one thing it is CRUCIAL to know, and that is to know Jesus Christ as your personal savior! Everything you learn after that is just frosting on the cake.
This notice was sent home with a group of High School students:
"Our school's cross-graded, multi-ethnic, individualized learning program is designed to enhance the concept of an open-ended learning program on the continuum of multi-ethnic, academically enriched learning, using the identified intellectually-gifted child as the agent of his own learning."
One of the parents, a person willing to speak out what we all would think, sent back a note which read, "I have a college degree, speak two foreign languages and four Indian dialects--but I haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about."
I am often asked about other versions of the Bible outside of the King James Version. Now, my admiration of the KJV is second to none, and I routinely use it in my sermons, daily devotional, and in my personal Bible study. While I own and read many different versions, the KJV is the single one that I use the most. That is because it is closest to the original languages that is still readable .
There are times, however, when the language of 1565 used in the Geneva Bible, and virtually unchanged in the 1611 KJV Bible, is simply not clear to us today. At those times, I go to other versions to get the meaning, then back to the KJV to make sure there are no contradictions in that other version.
When we communicate with others, however - particularly the unsaved - it is most important to speak in a manner that they will understand. If we sprinkle our testimony with "thee", "thou", "wouldest" and "doest", we run the risk of them not knowing what we are talking about, just like that high school did with it's cryptic note. The Word of God tells us that it is not the words, but the understanding that is important.
I Corinthians 2: 9-11 (GWT);
"But as Scripture says: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, especially the deep things of God. After all, who knows everything about a person except that person's own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God's Spirit."
Several years ago, we watched God's and Generals on TV. This is a GREAT movie. It re-emphasized for me how very little involved our country seems to be with God today compared to what it used to be. We have a politician now and then that is open about their belief and faith in God, but it is a rare thing indeed. At the time of the civil war, virtually ALL of the leaders, on both sides of that horrid war, were openly believers.
Several days after watching that movie, I learned this sad little tidbit of history that was not within the time frame of that picture. The last battle of the American Revolution was the Battle of Blue Licks, fought at the stream that bears that name. It was a battle that should never have been fought, for it was fought after the war was over! News traveled slowly in those days. Blue Licks is in Kentucky, and there was no means of quick communication over the Appalachian mountains. No one knew the war was over.
That bit of history has a Christian meaning too, because it is a fact that Jesus Christ won the victory over Satan at Calvary. But the lines of communication are slow to some people, and they continue to fight battle after battle when the victory is already theirs.
The Word of God tells us who does the fighting for us:
Deuteronomy 20:4 (KJV);
"For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you."
Jesus tells us that he has overcome:
John 16:33 (KJV);
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
We are told that the victory is ours:
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (KJV);
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In the Battle of Waterloo, the French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going; they didn’t have TV or Radio in those eays. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral.
Late in the day it flashed the signal: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -." Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- - -DE-F-E-A- T-E-D- - -T-H-E- - -E-N- E-M-Y!" Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory!
So it was when Jesus was laid in the tomb on the first Good Friday afternoon. Hope had died even in the hearts of Jesus' most loyal friends. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on the friends of Jesus. They had "read" only part of the divine message. "Christ defeated" was all that they knew. But then on the third day--Easter Sunday--the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding lifted, and the world received the complete message: "Christ defeated death!" Defeat was turned into victory; death was turned to life!
As Christians, we can never loose the battle! There is only one possible way for us to be defeated, and that is if we desert. With Christ, and for Christ, victory is certain. We can loose the victory by flight but never by fight.
Romans 8:28 (KJV);
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."