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.

PRAYING FOR OUR DAILY BREAD

“Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

Daily means occurring every day. The Israelite’s day lasted from one sunset to the next (Gen 1:5; Ex 12:18; Acts 2:14-15; Mat 20:1-6). When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mat 6:11; Luke 11:3), He was telling them to trust God to provide their food every day-one day at a time.

We are to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread;” that is, “Give us each day the bread which our bodies require, as we pray for it.” We are to depend upon our Heavenly Father in the same way the Israelites depended upon Him for their manna (Exodus 16:27-33). We might pray, “Let us have enough bread today,” because in this way we continually depend upon Him, as children upon their parents.

The Lord wants His children to trust Him and depend upon Him, and He often has given only a portion of “bread” at a time. In Mat 10:5; 9-15, Jesus first sent the apostles out two by two to preach to the Jews (not the Gentiles or Samaritans). See also: Mark 6:8-11; Luke 10:4. At that time He told them not to take anything for their journey other than a staff. Later we see in Mat 6:11; Luke 11:3, He told them to pray for their daily bread. They were dependent on God as much as the birds, for they did not know who would receive them and who would not.

Later, the Lord asked them if they lacked anything when He sent them out without a wallet, and they acknowledged that He had cared for them (Luke 22:35). Obviously they did not lack because they had prayed and had faith in His promise to provide. Finally, when it was time for Jesus to be crucified, He gave his disciples yet another commission (Mark 16:15; Mat 28:19-20) and told them to provide for their journey and also to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). These were not conflicting directions but directions for different purposes and different situations.

There is another sense in which we need to request our daily bread. We may have an abundance of food and every other convenience, but if we don’t have the health and strength to make use of it, of what value is it? (Eccl 6:1-2) A few verses prior to this passage (Eccl 5:18-19) He spoke of the blessing of God-not just the food in the pantry, but the ability to eat it.

Today, when our pantries and cabinets are so full of food and most of us are so healthy, it is difficult for us to see God’s hand in providing our needs (Mat 6:34). We must trust His promise to provide if the seek the kingdom first (Mat 6:33) and not be anxious for tomorrow (Mat 6:25: Luke 12:22, 29). We must not desire to be rich (1 Tim 6:10), nor should we be slothful in business (Rom 12:11; Pro 30:8) but we should always pray the Lord will provide what we need to live to serve Him (John 6:27-33).