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.

Our Centenarian is Gone

Kuthi Muthu was with the church at Lock Street for as long as I can remember. In her younger years, she was married to leper and bore him eight children, yet she never contracted leprosy.   I can’t remember her ever being ill enough to have to go to the hospital.  She was a winner.  Unfortunately she and her husband did not rear their children in the Lord because they did not know about the church until the children had grown up.

Age 80
Age 80

As she aged and became a widow, she sometimes spoke of being cold during the rain season.  That complaint was easy to understand, because I too felt the cool dampness even in my house during the monsoons.  I gave her a sweater and hoped it would warm her.  Then one day she came saying her stomach hurt and she needed help to feel better.  We took her to the local hospital where she was admitted for a few days for observation.  The doctors there claimed she had cancer and sent her home to die.  Not willing to give up so soon, we took her to another hospital in the area where we were told the same thing, except that these claimed she was too old to treat.

After trying four more hospitals, we finally took her to an elderly lady doctor in the village who had sympathy enough to try to find out what Kuthu Muthu’s trouble might be.  The diagnosis was related to her feet and legs and she she was treated for tropical Filariasis (sometimes called elephantitis). It obviously affected her stomach too.

A younger teacher at CTTS volunteered to carry her breakfast every morning along with the prescribed tablets for treatment.  The medicine was harsh and she seemed to grow weaker and sicker quickly.  The young man continued to monitor her and give what the doctor prescribed.  One day she fainted and sustained a rather nasty bruise and cut to her head.

In all this, Kuthi Muthu never wanted to miss an assembly of the saints.  Even when she was so sick she could not walk, she asked for someone to carry her to the meetings.  Likely because she thought her time was near, she came bringing a cloth bag filled with wadded up rupees (Indian money) and requested to be able to donate that to the church one day.  Some covetous soul who heard about her gift berated her and said, “You should  have given that money to your children!”

Her children…ah, yes, those eight she bore to the leper…those eight who were not members of the Lord’s body because they had been reared in paganism…those eight who couldn’t wait to occupy her house…

Not one of them wanted to take care of her in her old age!  Mind you a son and his family had moved into her house–supposedly for that purpose, but they would not even give her a cup of tea in the mornings, nor would they feed her anything but waste food.  Students and teachers from CTTS took it upon themselves to be sure she ate three meals a day and had the medicine she needed.  We could not assume her family would allow her access to good food or medicine even if we sent it there, so this had to be part of our personal daily ministry.  It was literally a trip to find her three times a day and give her what she needed–our chance to be used by the Lord to visit the widow in her affliction…(James 1:27).Kuthi Muthu at 84

Finding Kuthi Muthu was not always easy.  She learned early to avoid the brutality at home, so she walked, and walked, and walked from morning until late at night. There were times we found her on the roof top of her four story apartment building.  She lived on the third floor, so going up one more floor by the stair was nothing to her.  Later, when someone blocked the stairs, she used the metal ladder bars outside the apartments to climb all the way up the apartment walls.  She said sitting in the summer tropical sun was better than listening to the fighting in her home (Prov. 21:19).  One day she complained about never having a chance to rest in her own house and cried about the treatment she was getting.  Someone asked her if that gave her a chance to return good for evil, and she agreed it did (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31).  She was willing to be defrauded (1 Cor. 6:7).

There were so many trials during those last years, but Kuthi Muthu seemed to conquor her temptations and remain strong.  We too had trials along with her and were often tempted to give up, but the journey was a blessing for all of us.  She passed from this life last month and many will miss her sweet, yet strong will to do what was right.

KEEPING VOWS

Some say that keeping vows is “not that big of a deal.” We can see by the recent statistics on marriage and divorce that the marriage vows count for little in today’s society. And what about our commitment to Christ when we were immersed in the waters of baptism? Did we promise to lose our lives for Christ and the gospel? Did we agree that Jesus is our king and Lord? If He truly is our Lord, we must do the things He says (Luke 6:46). I keep hearing from those who claim to be members of the church that the reason they became Christians was to escape pain and suffering and to go to heaven instead of hell. Their mind (attitude) seems to focus on what they can get from God rather than how they can serve Him. They seem to have forgotten they did not create themselves, but that He created them (Psa 100:3; Rom 1:21; Mark 8:36-37).

Judas Iscariot sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver (Mat 26:15). Some today seem quite willing to sell their souls for a high paying job, a new house, a new car, or even prestige or power. Both partners in a household will frequently work seven days a week to lay up treasure here on earth (Luke 12:16-21; Mat 6:26), but they rarely will spend more than an hour on Sunday to “serve the Lord.” Would spending that much time each week make any other commitment prosper? Certainly not, so why do people think it would please their Creator?

Others, claiming to be church brethren, cite family ties or commitments to explain why they have no time to assemble for study or worship or to work for Christ during the week. Maybe they believe they have to spend hours upon hours educating their children or helping them with homework. Perhaps they find it necessary to care for aging or invalid parents, which really should not have to be a choice we are forced to make. Provided we do not let these things stand in the way of our service to the Lord, we can do them with His blessing. Nevertheless, some follow these duties because of their great love for family or because of social pressures put on them. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mat 10:37). “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

The Scriptures above appear to discourage Christians at times and cause them to want to explain them away rather than to believe and trust them. However, they also need to consider the promises given to those who do trust and obey. “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Mat 19:29).

Christians should remember the account of Hannah in the Old Testament who made a vow to God and kept it. Hannah promised that if God would give her a son, she would lend him to the service of God forever. God heard her prayer, gave her little Samuel and she faithfully kept her promise. Not only did God bless her with a son, but later He gave her three more sons and two daughters (1 Sam 2:20-21). There can be no doubt that the “mother heart” in Hannah made her ponder her choice many times. We know she never forgot Samuel because she made a little coat to give him at the annual feast every year (1 Samuel 2:19). She must have had great joy in remembering Samuel as she stitched.

Dennis and I went home for a brief visit at the end of April and I made a shirt or dress to take to each of our children and grandchildren. Stitching and remembering our times together was my consolation for giving them up to serve in a foreign land, but at the same time I missed the ones left here whom the Lord has given me to take the place of my family (Mat 19:29).

NEAR THE FATHER

When our children were small, they used to love to be near their daddy no matter where he was or what he was doing.  If he had some outside job to do, they were right behind him, following his every step.  If he went somewhere in the car they would gladly stand next to him with their arms around his neck while he drove.  (Those were the days before seat belts and car seats.)  When he came home late from Bible studies, they would sit by him while he ate his evening meal-just watching and waiting for any sign of affection.  As they grew a little older they loved to accompany their dad on those evening studies.  Road trips were the best.  Sometimes they curled up in the back well of the car floor board as the thump, thump, thump of the tires on a cement road lulled them into slumber.  They were content just to be wherever he was.

Rocking ChairWhen I was a child, I remember seeing my mother sit for hours reading her Bible.  Because I was a very active little girl, the concept of sitting in a chair seemed untenable to me, but surely my mother knew what it was like to be near her Heavenly Father.  On her death bed, her continual request was that I sing the hymn “Be with Me Lord.”  Just the idea of being near her Heavenly Father gave her great comfort.

Seeing this kind of affection in our family has often made me wonder why children in God’s family don’t have more desire to be near their Heavenly Father. Why would God’s children not continually seek the Father in his Word, just to be near him? How often do we draw close to our Father in study?  Are we searching the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11)?  Do we go to the Father in prayer just to be near Him, or do we wait until some crisis arises when we must have his help? Are we praying without ceasing (1 The. 5:17)? Like children of a physical family, if we abide in close fellowship with our Father through prayer and study, we will be greatly blest.  What comfort and love we are missing if we are not near to Him.