IT MOVED ME TO TEARS

Magic Flying Carpet
Magic Flying Carpet

Like most idealists who come to India for the first time, we initially expected to see a storybook land of maharajas, magic carpets, temples and mosques to inspire our imaginations. However, living here on the ground with the people is far different than just touching the tarmac, going to a posh hotel and chronicling a visit with photographs once or twice a year. There is a harsh reality of having three times the number of people the US census claims all squashed into one-third the land space. To get some idea of what it really is, multiply your family by three and then imagine two-thirds less living space!  Or multiply your family by nine in the same living space.  That’s mind boggling.

Continue reading IT MOVED ME TO TEARS

THE TENDER MERCIES OF THE WICKED

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10).

I know I should not get frustrated or worry about things I cannot change, but it is difficult not to feel that way when I am awakened at 3:00 AM by the sound of an animal being killed in a most brutal way. Let me hasten to say I am not a PETA person. I fully believe God has given man power over every living thing (Gen. 1:28), and that we have permission to eat whatever necessary to have strength to serve Him (Gen. 9:3). But when a wild sow screams for more than an hour, one has to ponder what should or could be done to relieve her agony.

"Wallowing in the Mire" (2 Pet. 2:22)
“Wallowing in the Mire” (2 Pet. 2:22)

I have seen the wild swine forage through the garbage dumped in the empty lot next to my house. I often see them running across the road to find a ditch of water or a place to hide—ever wary and watchful. When they are smaller, they have to fear the ferule dogs. As they grow larger and fatter, they tend to feed only at night for fear of people. Gypsies and poorer folk are looking for protein and catalog where the pigs feed. They want to have food for their families. I have no problem with that need, but the LORD OF THE FLIES killings are what make my chest pound and my blood run cold. At times, when pigs are not killed on the spot, they are tied to the back of a bicycle with legs and head dangling at odd angles. Having them taken away quickly is at least more merciful for the residents who are trying to sleep.

At times like this, I have to keep reminding myself that humans are far more valuable than animals, and yet God even cares for the animals (Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7). He made a covenant with Noah and his family and the animals that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood (Gen. 9:12-17). Along with that promise God gave Noah a warning not to eat the blood with the animal (Gen. 9:1-5). This command is being disobeyed by many in third world countries today.

As I tried in vain to find a way to stop my ears, I couldn’t help thinking of how often humans have died unmerciful deaths at the hands of other humans. James died by the sword (Acts 12:1-2). Even if the apostle Peter were not crucified upside down, we know that he died a violent death (John 21:17-19). Early Christians were often burned at the stake. “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:36-38). As I lay there in the dark, I thought of all innocent babies who have suffered and died at the hands of abortionists and of people like Terri Schiavo who have been starved to death for no fault of their own. Murders will pay one day!

Job speaks of God’s care for the animals: “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). The Psalmist also speaks of the Heavenly Father’s care by saying, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing” (Psa. 145:16).

We need to be sure our children are trained not to be cruel to animals no matter the species. Don’t for a minute tolerate a little boy’s pulling the legs off a grasshopper. That little boy’s heart is being trained, and who knows whether he might do something similar to a human one day?

—Beth Johnson

ROLE MODELS FOR OUR CHILDREN

Revised December 27, 2016

After describing the wicked behavior of two NFL players, one father noted the two bad choices (bad sportsmanship and alcoholism) he saw demonstrated and asked the question, “Which has more potential to do harm to our impressionable children who watch the NFL and look to its players as role models?”

Not one person in the discussion even mentioned the cheerleader’s costumes or the new gay NFL player, but another parent observed, “Everyone got so upset with what one player said, which was loud and unsportsmanlike, but not vulgar, yet, not one word was said about the Chevy commercial played repeatedly through the game with a vulgar profanity in it.”

As I read, my first reaction was to consider the command of God in Ephesians 4:17-18This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” What things are highly esteemed among men? Work? Sports? Obviously work produces something useful and is generally not in vain. What about games? Do they produce anything useful? Will the Lord reward us on Judgment Day for watching the Super Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Rice Bowl or the Rose Bowl? We all know the answer to that.

So what about those things not done for the Lord? Hebrews 6:1 and 9:14 speak plainly. Living works are done for God and dead works are at least vain (useless) if not eternally destructive. Finally, because of the aforementioned things that are part of any football game, I pondered which category it might fall into? Can anyone truthfully say he watches the football games for God?

Dead works are just that. They are works not done for the Lord—mind you…not necessarily sin, but at best just vain or useless time spent. It is a sad day when we have to make a choice between wicked lifestyles that affect our children! Whatever happened to following Jesus’s example in learning to discern between good and evil and choosing only the good (Isa. 7:15, Heb. 1:8)?

How can spending our time in a dead work (any dead work) serve God—especially a dead work that has so many obvious evils associated with it? Both wicked choices mentioned by the first father, plus the obvious evil advertising during the game, fall into the list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10, KJV).

If those sins cause a man to be put out of the fellowship, is it OK to deliberately expose our children to either one? What should be the obvious choice in order to avoid such wickedness?

The real problem is found in 2 Cor. 5:15, Luke 9:23-26, Mark 8:35, etc. Not only parents but also all those who would be Christ’s disciples must die to self in order to live for him and the gospel!

Because of our own weaknesses and disposition toward worldliness (1 John 2:15), our children are watching and becoming part of it—emulating its evil “heroes.” The process takes place by what is called osmotic learning or osmosis. They gradually become like the people they are taught to admire (1 Cor. 15:33).

The only way to save our children from the world’s evil is to protect them (shelter them) from it. We must do our best to guide them in following the great heroes of the Bible—especially Jesus. Remember also that even though Christians have to live in the world, they should not be part of it (1 Cor. 5:9-10).

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The King James Version.

Disclaimer: Whereas I sometimes link Bible verses from BibleGateway.com or BlueLetterBible.org for the reader’s convenience, I have found there are serious issues with both programs. I neither believe nor recommend the Calvinist’ doctrines of predestination/foreordination nor the doctrines of grace only. I firmly disapprove of the denominational advertising found there.

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

The book of Esther and the book of Ruth are the only two books in the entire Bible that bear the name of Hebrew women. Both read very much like novels. While the book of Ruth begins and ends in poverty, the book of Esther begins with all the splendor of the kingdom of Persia. Persia was the wealthiest nations ever to exist in the history of the world, and Nebuchadnezzar had carried the Jews away from Jerusalem to be bondmen in foreign lands. According to Isaiah, the Jerusalem was reduced to a land of jackals, owls, thorns and briars. Esther, the heroine, is first seen as a lowly orphan child brought up by a cousin; yet, to the human eye, she rises to a position of power and service to her people because of her beauty and humility.

When Esther lacked courage to put her life in the balances in order to save her people, Mordecai used the phrase, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Est 4:14). That phrase should remind us of the humble beginnings of Joseph-how he was brought to Egypt as a slave and of his willingness to be used to feed the poor nations around. We may read and reread, first of his stand for right, then his imprisonment and finally his rise to power for the specific purpose of feeding God’s chosen people. Yet for all the work given to Esther and Joseph, if they had not cooperated with God’s plan to do the work the way He wanted it to be done, He would have raised up another deliverer from another place and destroyed both them and their houses (Esther 4:14a).

Consider a few facts associated with this short book:

  1. Esther’s name appears fifty-five times. The only other woman’s name to appear nearly that many times is Sarah or Sarai.
  2. Esther is apparently the only Jewess to ever sit on a foreign throne.
  3. Training in respect for her “parents” is seen in Esther’s obedience to Mordecai in spite of her position as queen.
  4. We see that Esther had respect for her husband and the laws of the land even though she was doing her best to find a way to repeal the unfair law to destroy her people.
  5. The accuracy of the accounts of the Persian Empire and its palaces and rules is unsurpassed in secular history.
  6. Ahasuerus is also known as Artaxerxes in secular history for anyone who doubts the authenticity of the account.
  7. The Persians did not appear to force anyone to drink more than they wanted; in fact the laws appear to regulate or limit drinking.
  8. The Jew’s Feast of Purim is given credibility under the old law because of the explanation found in the book of Esther.
  9. “Pur” from which the word Purim comes, means “a lot.” The lot was cast to see which would be the most favorable day for the Jews to stand against their enemies.
  10. Even today the Jews respect the “law” given by Esther to remember the Feast of Purim on the fourteenth and fifteenth of March (Est 9:32).