Guilt can eat you up, spit you out,
throw you down in the dirt
and stomp on you!
Besides that, it can make you feel bad! -Edna Ingram
Bobby gave a devotional one Wednesday night about our conscience. Little babies do not have a conscience…nor do they need one. They are pure and innocent just like Adam and Eve, before they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-13) He related that it feels like there is a little box inside our chest that turns.
As soon as they ate of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had a conscience…and wow! Did it hurt! Their conscience hurt so bad they hid from God. Most of us who are of sound mind and are pre-teen and above can relate to that hurt!
Bobby went on to say that when we do develop a conscience, it is round…like the piece of wood in the background above. It doesn’t hurt when it turns. But when we are educated to discern between right and wrong, and then…when we do something wrong, it is like the square one in the foreground. It does hurt at every turn.
The second time we do the wrong it doesn’t hurt quite as badly, because the corners are worn down a little. Every time we do the wrong, the corners are worn down a little more…until it is rounded like the first one and it doesn’t hurt at all. Scary, isn’t it? There are many who are in this predicament because they can do a lot of bad stuff and it doesn’t bother them at all.
The apostle Paul in Acts 8 was persecuting Christians and he was living under the old law at a time when the new law was in effect. He even put Christians in jail and in some cases had them killed for following Jesus. (Stephen, first Christian to die for Christ) Acts 7:54-60.Paul (Saul, at the time) didn’t know the new law was in effect and had been since Acts chapter 2, when the church of Christ began.
Paul was on his way to Damascus to seize Christians to arrest them and take them back to Jerusalem to prison. Paul’s conscience did not bother him at that time, because he thought he was doing God’s will. God got his attention in Acts chapter 9 and it tells of his conversion, after he went on into Damascus to see Ananias.
I think Bobby described the conscience in graphic detail and I remember that is what it feels like. Most of us over the age of about 6 know the pain of a guilty conscience. The rest of the book of Acts continues with the history of the Lord’s church.
During my lifetime at certain points I tended to read certain Scriptures and not think too much about them, but at the various seasons of life, some tend to have very special meaning. Here are my favorites for the seasons of my life. Precious Promises!
1. Early Spring of Life:
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2. Late Spring of Life:
When we first learned and obeyed the gospel…(About 11:00 one night back in 1956) Luke 1:32-33: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” My overall favorite!
3. Summer of Life:
When our children were growing up: Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
4. Autumn of Life:
Romans 8:37-39 “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5. Winter of Life: (Favorite at this point in time.)
2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Raising children has given me a number of experiences and observations that serve as good object lessons. Once such observation took place several years ago at a wedding reception. Our son, Daniel was about 11 years old at the time and was almost as tall as his mother, but he was still very much a mama’s boy and when he would get tired he would go over, stand beside his mother and lay his head on her shoulder.
At the reception, there was a woman who was about the same size as my wife and had the same hairstyle and color. When Daniel got tired he walked over to the woman, whom he had never met, stood beside her and…thinking she was his mother, laid his head on her shoulder.
The woman was obviously puzzled by his actions, because she didn’t know him, but she put her arm around him and allowed him to rest his head on her shoulder. The woman had been talking with someone and as she resumed her conversation, Daniel noticed she did not sound like his mother. He raised his head and realized he was leaning on a stranger. He gave a very brief apology and went hurriedly in search of his mother. Obviously, he was thoroughly embarrassed and I was thoroughly amused.
We sing the song, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and the chorus of the song is ‘Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms, Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.” Truly, it is a comfort leaning on the teachings and promises of Jesus our Lord.
Yet, just as Daniel was comfortable leaning on the shoulder of a stranger, there are so many who think they are leaning on Jesus but are following the teachings and promises made by man.
Jesus warns His listeners in His sermon on the mount in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!” Can’t you just hear the shock in the voice of those to whom Jesus was speaking. Those who thought they were leaning on Jesus but were not doing His will. They were leaning on a stranger.
When Daniel found out he was leaning on a stranger he ran immediately to find his mother. I want to challenge each one of us to look closely at the one on whom we are leaning. Look closely at the teachings and promises that we follow. We may think we are leaning on Jesus but if we are not doing the will of Jesus…if we have not been obedient to His words, we may well be leaning on a stranger.
…And the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:3-5)
Oh my aching feet. I uncovered a pair of good-looking shoes in my closet and decided to give them another try. They are Easy Spirit and they should be comfortable…but if you knew my feet….
I tried them on and walked in them…so far so good after 2 hours. I honestly can’t remember if I bought them at a thrift store or new from a store! Oh Yeah! I can look inside and see….
You know, Jesus bought His church. He didn’t for sure get it at a thrift store. It cost Him and His Father everything! And you know what? We can look inside and see what it cost. We can attend the assembly of His church and every Sunday we are reminded of what it cost when we partake of communion.
We can also look inside the Bible and read about the cost…and His great love for us. And after almost 2000 years…so far so good…and it will be…all during eternity.
In fact, Jesus said, “…The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1: 18-24
Bobby goes through a lot of preparatory stages before he puts the knife to the wood in his carving of guns or airplanes. Here is a picture of the specs of the one he is working on now. There’s no comparison with him to NASA because they, of course, go through even more preparation in building space shuttles, satellites, etc. This reminds me of a spiritual thought:
Not comparing God to NASA and Bobby…but God went through much, much more preparation in the building of His church. He prepared a nation and then a tribe for His beloved Son to come through. This Son would come in human form and have the name of Jesus…and it was prophesied that He would die upon a cruel cross in the fullness of time. It was prophesied that this would happen during the Roman empire.
If Jesus had been guilty of what they accused Him of, the Jewish Law’s penalty would be stoning. During the Roman empire, the penalty was crucifixion. It all comes together just as it was prophesied. He was born, he lived about 33 years, he told about His kingdom for about 3 years and then He was crucified for the sins of the world, because of His great love for us.
Then on the third day, He was resurrected and after He had left instructions for His apostles that He had chosen, He ascended back to heaven… and they remained in Jerusalem until power came from on high. On the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection (50 days from the Passover) the church began and 3,000 heard the apostles teaching, believed, repented, confessed Christ and were baptized into Christ on that first day. Since that day many more have been added to His church by being obedient to the gospel of Christ.
Sadly, there is another prophesy that will come true someday, stated in several places in Scripture and in different ways. This one:
(2 Thessalonians 1: 7-12) “… And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed ) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We hear a lot of talk in our nation today about “the separation of church and state.” Many in our society believe that religion has no place in the political arena. Even some Christians believe that because our citizenship is in heaven, we have no right or responsibility to participate in civil government. As our nation prepares for another election, every Christian should consider this question: Does God want His people involved in civil government?
A clear answer to this question can be found in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 14:18, we read of Melchizedek, who was the priest of God Most High; he was also king of Salem. In Genesis 29:41, we read of Joseph, the son of Jacob, who through the providence of God was raised to power in the kingdom of Egypt. In Exodus 1-2, we read of Moses , who through the providence of God was brought up in the palace as grandson to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Throughout the history of Israel, God sent prophets to be advisors to Israel’s kings. Samuel was advisor to King Saul; the prophets Gad and Nathan were advisors to King David; Elijah prophesied to the wicked King Ahab; Isaiah was advisor to King Hezekiah of Judah; and Jeremiah prophesied to the last four kings of Judah. God also sent prophets as counselors to other nations. Daniel served as advisor to the kings of Babylon, and Jonah was sent to preach to the city of wicked Nineveh in Assyria.
In the New Testament, we are told in Matthew 14:1-5 that John the Baptist rebuked King Herod for his immoral conduct. In Luke 21:12-13, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be brought before kings and governors as witnesses to them. In Acts 9:15, the Lord, speaking about Saul of Tarsus, says that he would carry the name of the Lord before the Gentiles and kings. Saul, later called Paul preached to the Roman governors, Felix and Festus, to King Agrippa and even to Caesar and his court in Rome. It is obvious as we look at both the old and New Testaments, God has always wanted His people to be involved in influencing civil governments.
An objective examination of our history reveals that the principles of Christianity had an overwhelming influence on our founding fathers and the forging of this great nation. These Christian principles produced a government that gave every citizen the opportunity and the responsibility to participate in the political process. Having a government that is “of the people, by the people and for the people,” there has never been a nation throughout history where Christians have had a greater opportunity to be an influence for the cause of Christ. For almost two centuries the citizens of this nation enjoyed the freedom to speak, to print and to preach what we believe, and it is the principle of Christianity that prevailed in such struggles as abolishing slavery and extending civil rights to every citizen.
Yet in the last fifty years, these freedoms have been threatened. Prayer and the Bible have been removed from our public schools. Efforts are underway and great strides have been made to remove the influence of God and Christianity from every level of government and almost every aspect of public life.
Why are these things happening in our nation? The answer is simple. While the advocates of atheism and humanism have been actively working to influence our government, Christians for the most part have been complacent and willing to sit quietly on the sidelines and let it happen. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5: 13-16 that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Much can be said about these words of Christ, but it is obvious that He wants us as Christians to affect the world around us and to permeate every aspect of society with the illuminating, liberating, life-giving influence of Christ and His Word.
As we approach the next national election, let’s take our influence for Christ outside the walls of our church buildings. Let’s speak out for Christ on the moral issues that are debated in the political arena. Let’s inform ourselves and others…about the candidates and where they stand on the moral issues, and let’s cast our vote for the candidates that hold most closely to the Christian principles upon which our nation was founded. May we let our light shine for Christ in every aspect of our society, including the political arena…and may God continue to bless America. -Wendell Ingram, in House to House /Heart to Heart publication
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”. Psalm 33:12
TO MY GROWN UP SELF: Dear self, I don’t know how long it has been since you thought of me, your little girl self.
To my little girl self: Oh my! I think of you all the time….remembering the happy times and a few sad times. I wonder how different I would have been if our mother had not died so young. I know you don’t remember her at all being only 3. I doubt life would have been a lot different with such a wonderful dad and a grandmother who helped him out a lot…but it would have been easier on them. But I’m looking at that, not used to having a mother and that isn’t fair to her. In fact just calling someone ‘Mother’, ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’, isn’t in my vocabulary and I can’t remember when it was. When I speak of her I always say “our mother”.
To my grown up self: Well in growing up, I remember only one or two times envying my friends who had a mother…but I think there were more times when they envied me. LOL They seemed to want to spend the night with me and my sister a lot. They thought we had more fun at our house.
To my little girl self: One thing I regret that my dad did: Our mother was an artist and had a scholarship to go to art school and she married my dad instead. But she drew a lot on the backs of calendars etc., and Daddy let us play with them…..I know his thinking and I respect him for it. I know he was thinking that our mother was taken from us and he wasn’t going to take her stuff away from us too…But oh! How I’d like to have her art work now! I don’t remember our brother playing with her stuff because he was always making airplanes and doing boy stuff. But we would play school with them and use those for our papers. It wasn’t long until we were a little older and we remembered them but realized they were gone. Our brother can draw really well but my sister and I can’t at all. We reap what we sow…or destroy. LOL
To my grown up self: Now that you are grown up what single thing did you learn that helped you in your adult life?
To my little girl self: Well, I remember being left with a neighbor woman only once because a guy who used dirty language was going to be cutting wood with my dad that day…but all the other times, I went with him. He always made sure we were at home when my brother and sister came in from school too. My dad being a great mother/father figure made me realize that our children can and may have to…. do without one parent or the other…and if I were going to be one, I needed to try to be the best I could be for them. He had the tough part of being dad but he also had the sweet tender part, needed of being a mother. His influence went a long way into how I view a mother should be. He has been gone now for 23 years but I still feel a perpetual hug from him.
This year is almost gone…it makes you wonder what the new year holds. Here is my view of some of the years gone by…and I must add that they went by mighty fast!
When our children were small and so sweet and precious, I thought that no time in life could be as good as this.
Then they started growing up and their activities multiplied and we were on the road a lot trying to take in all their activities…and I thought that no time in life would ever be as good as this!
Well they were almost grown up and we were so proud of them. Their values echoed our values and it was then that, finally, I began to know that there would be other good times.
When they grew up and moved a few hundred miles away, I would stand at the window to watch for them when we were expecting them. I could see headlights top the hill about a mile west of us and I would stand at the window to see if the car would turn south at the next hill. Sometimes it did…sometimes it kept going east…but when the car came under the street lights a couple of blocks from our house, I could tell if it was their car and I would turn on the porch light for them and be ready to hug them. I would stand and watch for hours. It was about a 7 hour drive for them and I would start watching at eleven P.M., just in case they got to leave a little earlier than planned,
Then the grandchildren came and what a grand time that was! We were busy going to their activities as they were growing up and it was so good to watch them as they excelled in lots of things they did. They are grown now and their values echo their parents’ values and when they come, we are not situated geographically where we can watch for their headlights…we just have to be content with their cars pulling up in our driveway…but it seems that no time in life can top this either.
The sad times in our lives besides the passing away of both our parents was our daughter passing away at the age of 32, in 1990. We had a hard time coming to grips with losing her but so many prayers of our Christian brothers and sisters helped tremendously. Now she is in our hearts so much, it hardly seems she’s gone from us at times. We speak of her often and it helps.
Now our son has gone through all these phases in his life…one of them being the ‘empty nest syndrome‘, which is the most distasteful of them all, (except for the death of a child) …but it has to be endured for the next phase to come around.
Then came the phase of his and Kathy’s grandchildren…4 of them so far! I’m excited for him and Kathy! I’m excited for us!
Every phase of life has its great moments, its griefs and its missions. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future and we are going to rush into it with faith in God, without fear, and with great anticipation…knowing that it still holds a lot of things that we have never experienced before!
Jeremiah 9:24: “…but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.
When I was about 20 years old, living in Borger, TX and worshiping with the church there, I served as one of the bus drivers in the bus ministry. We had a fantastic work, running four buses with as many as 130 children being brought to the assembly from the community. We sang, played Bible games and had a Bible lesson for the children on the bus as we picked them up and took them home.
As you can imagine, with 30 to 40 children on each bus, discipline was quite often a problem and the teachers used many tactics to control the children. It was on one of these trips in mid December that I had an epiphany (a sudden flash of recognition and insight) concerning a character that is very popular this time of year.
In an attempt to get the kids’ attention and keep them quiet, the teacher made the statement many times during this trip: “Santa Claus is watching you!”
As I thought about the statement this teacher made and the characteristics “Santa Claus” is said to possess, it dawned on me that our society has truly created a “modern day idol”. Throughout the year we had been teaching these children about the all seeing, all knowing, all powerful God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, His Son, but now in the month of December, we were calling on the children to remember another “divine (?) being” who was watching them, “Santa Claus”.
Have you ever considered the divine characteristics that are attributed to “Santa Claus”? He is “ALL SEEING”, as the song goes. “He sees you when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake” He is ALL KNOWING, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake?” “He is ALL POWERFUL. Controlling time, he is able to visit every home in the world in a single night. Defying the laws of gravity, he travels around the world in a flying sleigh. He is the GIVER OF GIFTS.”
Children are encouraged to ask “Santa Claus” for what they want and we ask children, “What did Santa Claus bring you?” He is the essence of GOODNESS. He is the “spirit of Christmas”, and he lives in a place of magical wonder where everything is beautiful and good.
God spoke these words in the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3. Have you ever wondered what God must think when parents lead their children to believe in this fictional character that possesses a divine nature?
We are told in James 1:17, EVery good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly light… Have you ever wondered what God must think when parents encourage their children to ask “Santa Claus” for what they want, and then lead their children to believe that Santa Claus is the one who has granted their request?
Parents are to be the most trusted individuals in a child’s life. Children readily accept the word of their parents without question. Most if not all, of a young child’s belief system is based on the information they receive from their parents. When children are led to believe in “Santa Claus”, what happens when their peers begin to tease them for believing in a fictional character?
What happens when they run to their parents for reassurance in their belief, only to have their parents reveal that this character, “Santa Claus”, in which they led them to believe, does not really exist? What does this do to their belief system. What does this do to the trust they once had in the word of their parents? What does this do for the parent’s credibility and integrity in the eyes of their child? What does it do to their concept of honesty?
There is also another consideration. What effect might this have on children when later in their teen years they face challenges to their belief in God? If children have found that their parents were not truthful about “Santa Claus”, how can they be sure their parents have been truthful about God Almighty?
As Kathy and I raised our children, one thing we would not tolerate from them was dishonesty. We wanted them to always be truthful with us and we were always truthful with them.
We enjoyed playing the games of “Santa Claus” and the “Tooth Fairy” with our children, but we always impressed upon them the “truth”, that these characters were make believe and not real. We never wanted our children to believe in a fictional character. We wanted our children to grow up with an unwavering faith in the One and only true God, Who alone is GOOD, Who alone is ALL SEEING, ALL KNOWING, and ALL POWERFUL…Who alone is the “GIVER OF ALL GOOD THINGS”. By Wendell Ingram