Halloween: Fun, Fear, and Hope

“In the United States (and other countries), Halloween has become one of the most popular unofficial holidays. On the upside, retail sales boost the economy around this holiday” (Bodie Hodge – Answers in Genesis). – second only to Christmas!

“On the downside, the holiday has become a time of increased crime in many places (especially arson and other acts of violence) on Halloween night as well as the night before. Even the author’s house was robbed one Halloween by forced entry. So, although the retail industry loves Halloween, many police officers and insurance companies dread it! Of course, there is also a tremendous amount of occult activity associated with this holiday.

“Kids and even many adults love getting dressed up for Halloween.” Of course, they love the candy too. It’s just innocent fun, isn’t it—or is it? (Hodge)

Sermon Video, Ezra Church of God

A Little History Lesson

“The holiday, though, has roots reaching much further back. As for the origin of Halloween, some researchers claim that the holiday can be traced back about 2,000 years to the Celts of Europe, who occupied parts of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. They held a pagan festival called “Samhain” (pronounced “sow-in”) that celebrated, more or less, the honor of the dead and involved the offering of large sacrifices of crops and animals.” (Hodge) You may have heard of the Druids. They were the pagan priests.

Many cultures observe a “Day of the Dead”. This celebration is very widespread and may have come even before the tower of Babel.

In 600 A.D., Pope Boniface IV started a holiday called “All Saints Day”. Originally, it was held in the spring. Pope Gregory III moved the date to November 1st. Perhaps it was to provide a Christian celebration as an alternative to the pagan celebration. Then, after the Reformation, reformers dubbed October 31st “Reformation Day.”


Halloween can be a fun time for children and adults alike.

Many people observe many fun activities around the time of Halloween: Hot dog roasts, hayrides, costume parties, sometimes not usually trick or treat – at least not the “trick” part, but some mischievous fun.

Rhonda (my wife) and I have been in churches that had Halloween parties, some that were completely opposed to any type of celebration around that time, and some that had alternative activities like fall festivals.

For many years, our focus was upon Rusty’s (our son) birthday and didn’t engage much in the other activities. Of course, if people came to our house dressed up, we would give them candy.


As we move from the fun to the fear we can see the bridge of superstition to real evil. Superstitions about ghosts, demons, monsters abound during this time. Those who celebrated the pagan festivals in the past thought the day was a bridge between the living and the dead.

This can move us from superstition, which is imaginary, to real evil.

There are definitely real forces of evil in this world. Demons and demonic activity are very real.

African cultures are familiar with evil spirits, and it seems to be more than superstition. Missionaries report seeing evidence of demonic activity.

The Bible mentions demons several times. It also talks about demon possession. For example, the Gadarene demoniac and Mary Magdalene.

There are real Satan worshippers. Some of them have been deceived by Satan. While they may talk about worshiping Satan, many of them today are really just secular humanists with an absence of God.

There are also the “old school” Satanists who seek to call evil spirits, perform incantations, and the like.

It has been alleged that some very high-level people have been involved in Satanic rituals.

The Bible speaks of Satan and his angels. Satan has an angelic origin himself. At any rate, he has a desire to be like the Most High and to displace God. Satan is pleased when people begin to dabble in the occult.

Often, people begin to explore Satanism because of a desire for power. But we can submit to God and resist the devil!

I Peter 5: 5-11 (WEB)

The first of two passages of scripture.

Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your worries on Him, because he cares for you. Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Withstand him steadfast in your faith, knowing that your brothers who are in the world are undergoing the same sufferings. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

The Devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. While a true Christian is not going to actually be possessed, Satan can still bring a lot of temptation to your life. He can bring oppression.

Don’t give Satan a foothold! Resist the little things. Remove bitterness. Fast and pray.

Revelation 20:1-15 (NKJV)

Satan Bound 1,000 Years

20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

The Saints Reign with Christ 1,000 Years

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for [a]a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Satanic Rebellion Crushed

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[b] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Great White Throne Judgment

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before [c]God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second [d]death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


What about those who have never accepted Christ? If you haven’t accepted Him, right now, you’re traveling with Satan and his angels, and you’re headed to the same destination as they are. Verses 1-10 above tell us this.

The cross offers hope!

Here is the hope! Jesus loves you so much that He went to the cross to pay the penalty for your sins.

That’s how you resist Satan’s temptation. The Bible says Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). You can come to Christ. I am sure about that! God said that He so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will be saved. God is not willing that anyone should perish. More than anything, He wants you to come to Him. But, you have to take that step. Otherwise, you will wind up with the Devil and his minions. If you don’t receive Christ, you will die twice; once physically and once spiritually. But, if you accept Him, you only die once, and then live forever.

Serving God in Difficult Times

It could happen today!

Have you ever made yourself do something that’s really hard?
I had an email that I needed to send because I had to talk to someone about an issue. I was dreading sending it and the response. I put it off for about 3 weeks.

Difficult Tasks

I have a room full of books, literally. Rhonda and I went down to Nashville, Tennessee, a few weeks ago and took along several books that I was hoping to get rid of. There’s a store in Nashville called McKay’s Books. They will take your used books and either give you credit or cash for them. We brought a lot of books, hoping to make a couple of hundred dollars. Well, the store wound up only taking about 7 of the books we had brought, but it was enough for me to be able to get another book. It’s called, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

The author of "The 5 Second Rule" got her inspiration from watching a rocket launch.

Mel had a problem getting out of bed in the morning. Her alarm would go off and she’d just procrastinate about getting out of bed. One day, she was watching a rocket launch and heard the countdown, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, LIFTOFF”, and it gave her an idea. The next morning, when her alarm clock rang, she did a mental countdown, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and jumped out of bed.

Back to the email: I sat down at the computer and said, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and started typing. Then I did the same when it was time to hit send. The response wound up being great!

About the Prophet and Chapter 25

Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament. By the time we get to Jeremiah 25, he’d been preaching for 23 years. He was called upon by God to give an unpopular message. I don’t know if he did a mental countdown, but he may have taken a deep breath and just delivered the message as God had told him to.

In chapter 25, we’re going to look at some names and terms. Then we’ll look at four actions we can take. These actions will help with serving God in difficult time. The first one will help us make sense of an increasingly difficult world. Do you know what I mean? The second will help us gain a measure of peace in an increasingly difficult time. The third one will help us maintain a right relationship with God, and the fourth one will help us be ready for the end of time if it happens in our lifetimes.

Jeremiah 25

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: 3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened. 4 The LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. 5 They said, “Turn now (repent) again everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and to your fathers forever and ever. 6 And do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and provoke Me not to anger with the works of your hands, and I will do you no harm.” 7 Yet you have not listened to Me, says the LORD, that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own harm. 8 Therefore thus says the LORD of Hosts: Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 I will send and take all the families of the north, says the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations; I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of laughter and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones (bad economy), and the light of the candle. 11 This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (The message is “If you don’t straighten up, you’re going to go into captivity!” 12 It shall come to pass when seventy years are finished that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, says the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. 13 I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings will make slaves of them, even them. And I will recompense them according to their deeds and according to the works of their hands. 15 For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: Take the wine cup of this fury at My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. 16 They will drink, and totter, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then I took the cup from the hand of the LORD and made all the nations, to whom the LORD had sent me, drink: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and the kings and the officials, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his officials, and all his people; 20 and all the foreign people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (even Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon; 22 and all the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are beyond the sea; 23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24 and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the foreign people who dwell in the desert; 25 and all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; 26 and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the earth which are upon the face of the earth, and the king of Sheshak shall drink after them. 27 Therefore you shall say to them, Thus says the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Drink and be drunk and spew and fall and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you. 28 It will be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you will say to them: Thus says the LORD of Hosts: You shall certainly drink! 29 For I am starting to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished. For I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, says the LORD of Hosts. 30 Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:
The LORD will roar from on high,
and utter His voice from His holy habitation;
He will mightily roar against His fold.
He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31 A noise shall come even to the remote parts of the earth,
for the LORD has a controversy with the nations;
He shall enter into judgment with all flesh.
He shall give those who are wicked to the sword,
says the LORD.
32 Thus says the LORD of Hosts:
See, disaster shall go forth
from nation to nation,
and a great whirlwind shall be raised up
from the remote parts of the earth.
33 The slain of the LORD on that day will be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They will not be lamented or gathered or buried. They will be as dung on the ground.
34 Howl, you shepherds,(leaders) and cry;
and wallow in the ashes, you leaders of the flock.
For the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished;
and you will fall like a choice vessel.
35 The shepherds will have no way to flee,
nor the leaders of the flock to escape.
36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds
and a howling of the leaders of the flock shall be heard,
for the LORD has devastated their pasture.
37 The peaceable habitations are cut down
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
38 He has left His lair as the lion;
for their land is desolate
because of the fierceness of the oppressor
and because of His fierce anger.

Unpopular Message

The message in this passage was delivered by Jeremiah, and it was definitely unpopular. The message was that judgment was going to come (remember I drew your attention to “turn now” meaning repent, Babylon, all these surrounding nations, and the shepherds, or leaders) and that God wasn’t going to put up with what they were doing much longer. They didn’t learn from their brothers and sisters from the North and continued to worship false gods. Moses had warned them against doing this years before.

Evangelist G. Campbell Morgan
Evangelist G. Campbell Morgan

In speaking about the passage above, evangelist G. Campbell Morgan said, “It described the processes of the Divine procedure in judgment in enlarging circles. First, there would be the judgment of Judah, Babylon being the instrument. Then would follow the judgment of Babylon by many nations. Then the judgment of the nations shall follow. Finally, the whole earth will be involved.”

There Can Be Increasingly Larger Areas of Judgement

In Jeremiah, it started with Judah, then went to Babylon, then many nations, and then goes to the entire earth. The longer you go, the worse the judgment can become. Judgement makes it difficult, but we can be serving God in difficult times.

There was a time in this nation when, if you held up a Bible, people, even if they weren’t Christians, would know what it was. They would say, “That’s The Good Book”, or “That is God’s Word”. Now, there are many who will not say that or are “offended” by the mere mention of the Bible. As we go further into judgment, it’s going to get worse.

The Bible has explained it all, we just need to watch for the signs.
The Bible has explained everything perfectly.

Scripture is written in such a way, I was told, that in every generation, people could think that Christ’s return was imminent. When Paul wrote First Thessalonians, they thought Jesus was returning right away. So much so that some quit their jobs and sat and waited for His return. That prompted Paul to write another letter, Second Thessalonians, and instruct them to “occupy until the Lord comes.” (Chapters 2, 3) We don’t know when He’s coming, but it could be any time.

A woman I knew who was in her 90s said they had been saying her whole life that He was coming, and it hadn’t happened yet. It’s been nearly 2,000 years and Jesus hasn’t returned yet…but He is and it could be today!

Watch for Judgement

Although we may not like it, we can at least understand it. We can understand that people are bringing things upon themselves. If we were to repent, things could get better. Just like if the people that Jeremiah was preaching to had repented, they could have been spared. But he knew they wouldn’t, so he told them they were going to go into captivity for 70 years, and they did. They were going to be serving God in difficult times.

The countless victims of the Holocaust probably thought the end was near, and Christ would surely return soon. But He did not.

I believe that the reason is that God has been longsuffering is that there are still some who need to come into the fold.

Watch for judgment. One of these times, it’s going to be the final one!

Serve God

I believe we live in the best Nation in the world. But I’m concerned, as many are. I’m concerned that there are 300 people being held without being charged.

When my church decided to return to live services, we left it up to the individual if they wanted to wear a mask or not. It’s their choice. Just be respectful of their decision.

Getting the vaccine is also a choice. Some have decided to do it, while others have decided against it. Some are still doing research. I’m concerned about the mandates. The mandate nearly shut down the Nation when so many flights were canceled due to pilots pushing back against mandates. It feels very oppressive. At this point, the vaccine is still experimental.

As an adult, if you got the vaccine, that’s great, it was your choice. If you haven’t been vaccinated, again, great, it’s your choice. My concern is for the children. Long-term effects are still unknown, and I don’t want the blood of the children on my hands.

According to the statistics, there’s very little likelihood that children under 20 will have a serious illness as a result of contracting COVID. But what our government is wanting is to take minors and force them to have something put into their bodies that is still experimental with unknown long-term consequences.

I’ve seen microscopic slides that show living organisms in the vaccine. Fetal tissue is used in the vaccine. Some young people who have received the shot have developed myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. There have been over ¾ of a million adverse effects reported.

This is not meant to scare you. We’ve all made the best decisions that we could with the information we had.

This is all to say that the government is getting to the point where they’re saying, “We’re going to make you do this.”

Jeremiah warned the people that they would come under an oppressive government. He told them to make the best of it. However bad, good, oppressive it is, do the best you can with where you are. If God leads you to take a stand, and you’re punished for it, know that He will be there. It may be that we will be called to be serving God in difficult times.

Repent when Necessary

Repentance is a requireent.
Repentance is required!

Even during all of this chaos going on, some people will turn to God. I have heard that, right now, the countries with the fastest-growing churches are Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Praise God!

We can be concerned about the state of our nation, and complain, or we can do the best we can in our circumstances. Repent where you need to repent. This is a good time for all of us to examine ourselves and see what areas of our lives need to be confessed and changed. Our repentance will help us with serving God.

There WILL Be a Return!

For the people in Jeremiah, it would be a physical return to their land. For us, Christ will return. There have been different viewpoints about the timeline throughout the years. Some think that we’ll meet Jesus at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, some think it will be halfway through, and still others think it will be at the end. But everyone agrees that there will be a kingdom where we rule with God. (Some think it will be on the new earth, others think in heaven.)

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptable, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52
It could happen today!

So, what we need to do is be ready! Regardless of what happens when, if you know Christ, you’ll be all right. If you don’t, you’re on dangerous ground. The certainty of Christ’s return will encourage us when it comes to serving God.

Watch for judgment. Serve God anyway. Repent when necessary. Watch for the return of Christ.

We don’t know when He will return but we do know that He will, and his return is closer today than it’s ever been before.

God bless you!

Edification Mistakes Christian Family Members Make – Part 4

This is the fourth and final post in the series on mistakes that Christian family members make, when dealing with one another, without realizing it. In the first part, I discussed the mistake of not knowing how fragile your family members are. You can read the first post and watch the video here. The second post addressed the importance of encouraging words. Read part two here. In part three, I talked about understanding how general attitudes of encouragement benefit the entire Christian community. See that post here.

In this final post, I will explain how examples of encouragement can benefit others.

The Teacher and Teddy

In 1974, a lady named Elizabeth Silance Ballard wrote a story that appeared in “Home Life Magazine”.

On the first day of school, the teacher looked at the fresh faces of her fifth-grade class. Smiling, she told them, “I love each of you the same!” But in her mind, she knew that wasn’t true. She looked to the back row and saw Teddy Stoddard slumped in his seat.
As the school year progressed, she somewhat enjoyed putting the big red “X” on incorrect answers and the big “F” on Teddy’s papers. He just wasn’t a good student.

The teachers were required to go through notes from their students’ previous teachers. Teddy’s teacher began reading:
First Grade: “Teddy is such a delight to have in class. He is so excited about learning.”
Second Grade: “He is a delightful young man. He’s so cooperative and so cheerful when coming into school.”
Third Grade: “Teddy is having a little trouble. His mother is very sick.”
Fourth Grade: “Teddy is having trouble focusing. He is never happy. His father seems disinterested.”

The teacher’s heart changed that day. She showed up to class the next morning with a new view of Teddy. She began encouraging him and cheering him on. She soon discovered that her pledge to love each child the same was still untrue because she had come to love Teddy the most.
Christmas time came around, and all the children brought beautiful gifts for the teacher. They would get so excited when she came to each gift. Then it came time to open Teddy’s present. It was poorly wrapped in plain brown paper. She opened the package to discover a rhinestone bracelet with a few stones missing and a small, half-empty bottle of perfume.
The students all began to laugh, but the teacher stopped it with the action of taking some of the perfume and applying it. Later that day, Teddy came to the teacher and said, “Thank you, Ms. Thompson. You smell just like my mother.”

The next year, Teddy was not in her class, but she got a note saying, “My grades are doing better. You’re still the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
Two years later, she got another note from Teddy: “I’m graduating 8th grade. You’re still the best teacher ever.”
Four years went by, and Teddy sent another note. “I’m graduating high school this year. I’m in the top fourth of my class!”
Another four years, and another note. “I am graduating from college!”
The next note read, “I have graduated from medical school!” Signed, Theodore Stoddard, M.D.

In time, another letter from Teddy came. “I am getting married in 3 months. I would like for you to come and sit in the spot reserved for the mother of the groom.”
The teacher gladly accepted and sat proudly in the place of honor.

The story of Teddy and the teacher is fictional, but elements of it are taken from real-life events. The author of the story had taken pecans she had picked up to her teacher, and rather than allow the kids to laugh, the teacher made a big deal of it. The rhinestone bracelet aspect came from another family member’s experience.

It’s also true that encouragement goes a long way, and discouragement can rip us apart and destroy us.

I pray that the Word of God encourages you. I pray you encourage one another. I pray husbands and wives encourage each other and children do as well.

Thank you for reading. I hope that I have encouraged you. Please check out my other blog posts at Randy’s Blogs and don’t forget to follow me on YouTube and Rumble.

Discover God’s Hidden Treasures for Your Life

Proverbs 25:1-5
“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied. It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
A proverb is a short saying full of a lot of truth

The first thing I see in this passage is that God has placed many wonderful things in this universe for us to discover. He has hidden some things from us, but that is His prerogative.

God’s Hidden Treasures in Science

Sometimes people think that there is a contradiction between science and the Bible. That’s not the case. Not if it’s true science and true Bible. True science discovers the truth and the Bible is the ultimate truth. The Bible isn’t a textbook on science but when it speaks on matters of science it’s accurate because the Bible is infallible.

Our understanding of science has changed over the years. For example, I was always taught that an atom was the smallest part of matter. Then they discovered protons, neutrons, and electrons, so those were smaller parts. Now they’ve discovered what are called quarks. Those are smaller than atoms.

Then it was found out that if they split the atom, a tremendous amount of energy would be released. It was a concern, at first, that there would be a chain reaction and if an atom was split, that chain reaction would go off all around the world. Of course that wasn’t the case, but we do have atomic bombs and there are chain reactions, but they stop before going across the entire planet. The atom bomb that was dropped to end World War 2, it is said, is as small as the detonator of the weapons we have now. It’s amazing to me that men have this understanding.

The first understanding was similar to the solar system. It was a planetary model with the nucleus in the center and the electrons and such around it. That’s what I was taught in grade school.

Model of an atom

Another model of an atom is a bunch of dots. The dots are where the atom “might” be and the electron “might” be.

So there are all these different models.

The question is how does science come together to agree on anything? The solution is scientists and mathematicians have done enough experimenting and computing and figuring to find out what works. The equation will work for one situation, but not the other.
Our understanding has changed. Scientists are trying to find out how God makes things work.

The Bible tells us in Colossians that all things are held together by Him.

There are things that God has hidden and put it out there for us to find. It’s the glory of God to hide a matter, and it’s the honor of man (or woman) to search out a matter.

God’s Hidden Treasures Unexpectedly Found in Scripture

There was once a man who asked “What can I do with this seeming waste of time?” He was suffering from a serious injury, lying flat on his back. Earlier in his life, when he was 19, his father wanted him to choose a certain career path. But the young man wanted to go to sea, and so he did. He became known as a brilliant oceanographer. His life became boring, however, and then he was involved in a stagecoach accident where he broke his right leg. He wasn’t able to be active, and he was relegated to working in an office. He began keeping maps and charts, and life was dull.

Matthew Fontaine Maury

While recovering from this injury, he asked his son to come read to him. His request was that the son read the Bible. The son read from Psalm chapter 8 and he read “Whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas…”
The oceanographer had a thought, “paths of the seas.” No one had ever realized before that the sea had paths. This is one of the glories that God had concealed that the man discovered. The man was in bed for a long time and began to think about the paths of the seas. His name was Matthew Fontaine Maury.

Once Matthew recovered, he took God at His word and began searching for the paths mentioned in Psalms. He began experimenting. He took some bottles, added some weight so that they would stay underwater, but not completely sink. He put instructions in the bottles, asking the person finding it, to let him know when and where the bottle was found. Through this process, he discovered how long it took to get to a certain place. He noticed patterns and that is how we now have names and locations of the currents in the oceans.

One is the Gulf Stream Current. It’s about 50 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep. The rate of flow is measured by volume per second and is about 1000 times faster than the Mississippi River. Many ocean vessels ride this current in order to save valuable shipping time.
Maury’s discovery of ocean currents took 3 weeks off of trips between the continents. All because he decided to search out the Paths of the Seas mentioned in the Bible.
In the town of Richmond, Virginia, there was a statue erected to honor him. The inscription on the plaque read “Pathfinder of the Seas”.

The discovery of ocean currents changed shipping practices

We should search for the hidden wisdom of God. We grow during the process of searching. We don’t have to make the mistakes of others. Biblical principles will work in many areas of life.

God’s Hidden Treasures Discovered through Making Mistakes

What did the man who had everything conclude about his life? He was raised in a palace. His father had died, and he was now king. God asked him what he wanted, and he told God he wanted wisdom. God said since he had asked for wisdom and not riches, He was going to bless the king with both. So the king had wisdom from God, great riches, visiting dignitaries, like the Queen of Sheba.

Then the king began to do things for political gain. One of the things he did was participate in arranged marriages with women from other countries. Some of those women worshipped false gods, and the king (Solomon) worshipped the one true God.
However, Solomon went astray and began worshipping the false gods of his wives. He quickly learned what life was like without God in the picture. Even though he knew God to begin with, he started wandering around in the world and had to learn some lessons. There are Christians today who do that same thing!

So, Solomon had a testimony about his experiences and wrote it down. Those writings became the book of Ecclesiastes. He finally came to the conclusion that man should fear God and keep His commandments. We need to search out the wisdom of God.

Wise friends are key to making good choices

We also need to surround ourselves with the kind of people who will inspire us to righteousness. The wrong friends can lead us down the wrong road, and the wrong counselors can lead us to many mistakes.

People in positions of authority can’t possibly know everything and read everything. So, they assign people to investigate things for them. When they have good council and good counselors, they will make good decisions. When they have bad counsel and bad counselors, they will most likely make bad decisions.
Good friends and good counselors will inspire us to righteousness. How many times has there been a young person who was “on the fence” about serving God, and have met up with someone who is on fire for God? They were then inspired to serve or inspired to righteousness.

There was another king once, and he asked, “What shall I do?” He, too, was raised in a palace and became king when his father died. He was Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. He was fearful of ruling so he went to his father’s counselors. They were older men and they gave their advice. They said that Solomon had, toward the end of his reign, put a heavy load on the people and was very stern. The counselors advised the new king to “lighten up” and be less strict than his father had been. They said that if he did that, the people would be so grateful they would serve him forever.

Rehoboam didn’t listen to the wiser older men, and instead gathered some younger men and asked their advice. The younger men advised him to be stern and strict with the people. He listened to the younger counselors. The people were hopeful that this new king would be kinder, and when he wasn’t, the people rebelled. The ones who lived in the northern part of the kingdom rebelled especially hard, and they pulled away and named a man called Jeroboam as their king.

Rehoboam was trying to decide if he should take his army and attack the northern kingdom. A prophet named Shemaiah was sent by God and told Rehoboam not to attack. God told them to go home because He had caused the incident to happen. Rehoboam heeded the word of God and he was able to rule for another 16 years.

How does all this relate to us today? We need to realize there are many wonderful things that can be discovered by studying God’s word. Look at all that Matthew Maury accomplished by reading God’s word and following the signs.

A man named David Barton with an organization called Wall Builders said our American system of government has three branches, and those come from a verse in Isaiah.

Many things can be discovered by searching out the word of God. Commit yourself to Christ, and after that, commit yourself to reading or listening to God’s word daily. Commit to associating yourself with the right friends. The right friends can build you up, and take you where you need to go. The wrong friends can pull you down and lead you to destruction.

The Crush of Guilt and The Delight of Deliverance

“Some say that I am mad, but, really, what’s happened is that I have a sharpening of my senses.” – The Telltale Heart- Edgar Allan Poe

The narrator of the story had been commissioned to be a caretaker for an older gentleman.  The caretaker had actually begun to become mentally disturbed.  His charge had an eye that the caretaker referred to as “The Vulture Eye”. It disturbed him greatly.  It got to the point that he wanted to get that out of his life.  In the story, he goes in night after night, carrying a covered lamp.  He slowly opens the door to the man’s room, he doesn’t have the light on outside the room, and it’s completely dark.  He goes to the man’s side and sees that his eyes are closed and he is asleep.  This goes on for many nights. 

Then, one night, the caretaker enters the older gentleman’s room and makes some sort of noise, and the older man wakes up.  He looks around and says, “Who’s there?”  The caretaker places the cover back over the lantern as he sees the “Vulture Eye”.   In his insanity, he smothers the older man with the blankets.  As he is in the process of this crime, the older gentleman cries out.

Shortly after, there is a knock at the door.  The caretaker opens it to find a few police officers.  His thought process is written out for the reader to see.

“I’m not really mad. I just have heightened senses.  I can hear things more clearly than I did in the past.”

He covers up his crime pretty well.  The police relax and decided to stay for a bit. 

The man begins to wonder why they are staying so long. 

Then, in his mind, he begins to hear a sound: a thumping.  It’s a heartbeat.  You see, after he had killed the old man, he buried him beneath the floorboards of the very room in which they were sitting.  The heartbeat is all in his mind.

He keeps thinking to himself that he has these heightened senses.  But, the beating becomes so loud that he begins to wonder how the others in the room cannot hear it.  Finally, the man breaks down and confesses.  He tells the police to tear up the floorboards, and they find the body of the older man.

It was the sense of guilt that the man in the story had. How to deal with a guilt is topic that can apply to all of us.

Guilt Has Mental and Physical Effects

Many people experience the effects of guilt.  It can lead to insomnia, worry, shame, depression, ulcers, arthritis, and even hardening of the arteries. Medication is sometimes required to help with the effects of guilt. Learning how to deal with guilt can help all of us in this area.

Pastor Rob Blank went to visit a 14-year-old boy who was in a catatonic state.  He was in the hospital room, and a nurse came in and said she thought the boy’s problem was (video freezes).  Pastor Blank then told the nurse that he was the boy’s pastor.  Embarrassed, the nurse left the room. 

Guilt can affect you physically.

The pastor then went to the boy and began to speak to him.  He read scripture and shared the plan of salvation.   Suddenly, the boy began to speak.  He wasn’t speaking to the pastor, however.  He was praying!  He confessed his sin to God and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  There was an immediate change in his life.  He sat up on the edge of the bed with his feet dangling over the side.  The nurse came back in and could not believe what she saw.  The young man had the effect of guilt that was in his life. However, when he confessed his sins and fully accepted Jesus, he was healed of his guilt and was healed physically in a dramatic way.

Psalm 32:3-4

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried upas by the heat of summer.  Selah

This is a Psalm of David.  Many scholars believe that this was written after his sin with Bathsheba.  To David’s credit, it’s amazing to me, with all the cover-ups that we can see going on in the political world, how David, being a king, could have completely kept this story under wraps.  Instead, when Nathan came and confronted David with his sin, he not only confessed to God, he wrote it down and we are able to read it many centuries later.  The entire kingdom became aware of his sin, and yet he confessed his sin.  So David knew what it was like to have the feeling of grief.  When he was keeping silent, it was like his bones wasted away and he had a groaning going on within his heart.  Day and night he felt God’s hand heavy upon him.  Then he started losing his strength.  He said, “My strength was changed into the drought of summer.”

Psalm 32:9

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

In this verse, David is referring to those who continue on in their sin and guilt without confessing it.  It’s like a horse or mule without a bridle.  They would have to be restrained and controlled with a bit and bridle to get them to do what you wanted them to do.  But whenever a person realizes his or her guilt and is willing to come to God, then they can come and repent.

Psalm 32:10a

Many are the sorrows of the wicked

Guilt has an effect on people mentally and physically.

People Try Different Ways of Coping With Guilt

Most of these coping mechanisms do not have lasting benefits. Learning how to deal with guilt is something that all of us try to learn.

One way is called escapism or trying to put it out of their minds.   They attempt to distract themselves with things like work or entertainment. 

Many people try to escape using alcohol, as it dulls their pain.  While serving as a chaplain at the VA hospital, I once had a gentleman tell me that he began using alcohol to help dull his pain, and then it got a grip on him and he became addicted.

Alcohol can be something people use to cope with guilt.

Another way of coping is rationalizing.  We want to rationalize our sin in order to make us feel better.  In that process, there is the placing of blame.  We may say, “I did this because of something traumatic that happened to me in my past.”  Certainly, people go through traumatic events, but we are responsible for how we handle those events; for what we do, and how we handle those events.

Then, there is the idea of calling guilt – all guilt –  “false guilt”.  There is such a thing as false guilt.  That is when someone feels ashamed of something that they are not guilty of or haven’t done at all.  There can be some things that people would try to lay upon other people that aren’t really wrong in relation to God’s law.  Some cult members experience a kind of false guilt.

The good news is that the truth can set them free from false guilt!  When they learn that what they’ve been told is wrong; that what they’ve done isn’t a violation of God’s law, and the truth sinks in,  it will set them free.

The trouble in today’s world is that all guilt is labeled as false guilt, and that sin is not really sin.  A few years ago, a doctor wrote a book entitled “Whatever Happened to Sin?”.  It said that we don’t call sin-sin anymore, but use different names.

There is false guilt, and there is true guilt.  Calling all guilt false is not helpful, because true guilt is a real thing.  That occurs when God’s law is violated.  When God is disobeyed, that is true guilt. 

Escapism may take care of the guilty feeling for a time.  Rationalizing and placing blame may get rid of it for a while.  Labeling it false guilt may help people feel better for a little.  But none of those are true solutions, and will not work long-term.

We’ve discussed the effects of guilt and how people try to cope.  Now, let’s look at the one sure way to eliminate true guilt.

The One Sure Way to Eliminate True Guilt

A couple of farm boys were in grade school.  They were visiting with one another and decided to make some corncob pipes.  They used the cob as the bowl and some vines as the stem and were going to smoke corn silk.  After they had made their pipes, one boy went home.  He checked around to make sure no one was home and went to seek out a place to hide his new pipe.  He looked in the barn and decided that wasn’t a good hiding spot.  Then he went to the shed, but wasn’t happy with that area, either.  Finally, after finding a temporary hiding place, he went up toward his house, thinking he could hide the pipe inside. 

What the boy didn’t notice, however, was the rest of his family sitting in the car, watching him wander around the farm searching for that perfect hiding spot. 

He had a desire to hide his pipe.

People have a desire to hide or cover their guilt.  The Bible says that it is the glory of kings to cover a matter, but it is even better to have that sin completely forgiven and to have it not only forgiven but, in the sight of God, it is gone; buried and forgotten!

Psalm 32:1-2, 5-8, 10-11

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

True guilt can be taken care of.  If this was written after David’s “great sin”, then it’s easy to see how wonderful it was that he had said within himself, “ I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and he knows that God forgave him.

The only true deliverance from guilt!

Sin can be forgiven.  There is such a thing as false guilt.  If you’re experiencing that, find out the truth and let it set you free.   There are things that are not violations of God’s law; let the truth override that.  But there are areas where we truly are guilty.  The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and that the wages of sin is death.  But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ or Lord.

If we come to Him in the time He may be found, (when we still have breath, are still alive) and realize that we have sinned, we can come to a loving God, be forgiven, and reap all the benefits that were mentioned in Psalm 32. 

A man was speaking to Doctor S.I. McMillen about his physical well-being.  He began to tell the doctor about things that were going on.  He told the doctor, “If people knew the things I have done, I would be in prison right now.”   The doctor realized that he would not be able to fix this man’s problem with a pill.  He spoke to his patient about Christ, and the man accepted Jesus as his Savior, and his physical ailments went away.

There is man’s way of trying to deal with guilt, and then there is God’s way.  God sent His son to die on a cross for our sins.  If we accept His Son, we enjoy all the rewards of forgiveness. This the true way to learn how to deal with guilt.

If you are not a Christian, realize that you are guilty before God, but accepting Jesus as Savior will erase that guilt with the shedding of His blood.  Accept this free gift and call upon the Lord!

If you are a Christian, you may have come to a place in your life where you are experiencing true guilt, like Peter, who denied the Lord three times.  He knew he was guilty.  Jesus spoke to Peter and forgave him.  Christian friend, if you have some guilt,  the answer is the same; come to Jesus and confess your sins.  The Bible says if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Freedom is found only in Christ.

Aren’t you glad that your sin is forgiven, and covered, and removed and God will remember it against us no more?

The Ultimate Challenge

This challenge is for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

I have a little box at my home. It has engraving on the top that reads, “Everything Men Know About Women”.  When opened, the box is revealed to be empty.

Doris and Maurice

Doris and Maurice went to visit the doctor.  Maurice was having some physical problems.  They appeared to be very serious, and Maurice was wondering if he was going to survive.  Doris went in to speak with the doctor, who began explaining that Maurice was overworked and extremely stressed.  It was so bad, in fact, that Maurice may not make it!  But, the doctor, said, there is hope.  Eager to help her husband, Doris asked what could be done.  The doctor said, “For the next six months, you must do these things daily, without fail.  In the morning, greet him with a big kiss.  Tell him good morning and wish him a good day.  Then, go make him a nice breakfast.  After breakfast, encourage him to go sit and relax.  Throughout the day, don’t bother him with chores or problems around the house.  In the evenings, prepare his favorite suppers.  When he’s finished eating, guide him to the television, give him the remote, and encourage him to watch all the sports he wants.  Do all this, and after six months, your husband will be fully recovered.”  Sitting in the car after leaving the doctor’s office, Maurice asked Doris what the doctor had said.  She looked at her husband and told him, “He said you’re going to die.”

Here, though, the shoe is on the other foot. 

The Scriptures – Husbands Love Wives

John 15: 13 ~ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (NIV)
Ephesians 5: 25-32 ~ Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkles or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of His body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.

For a Cause – Husbands Love Wives

I want to begin by saying that people are willing to give their lives for a cause.  We’ve got military members all over our country who have given their lives for a cause. 

In the Bible, there is the account of Ester.  Haman came and told the king that some people who wouldn’t bow down, and wanted to have them executed.  He was looking to exterminate the whole Nation of Israel. Ester was in the harem of the king, and her uncle Mordecai came to tell her of Haman’s plan.  Even though the king had not sent for her in 30 days, Ester went to him, at great risk to herself.  The king was merciful, and Ester saved her people.

Then there’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  In the town they lived, there was a huge statue.  The people had been commanded to bow down and worship the statue whenever the music played.  These three men refused.  King Nebuchadnezzar asked if they would bow, and they said no.  He asked if they thought their God would deliver them.  Their response was, “We don’t know if He will or not, but we will not bow down.”  So the furnace was heated.  In his anger, the king ordered it to be heated 7 times hotter than usual.  It was so hot that the ones who put the 3 men in died from the heat. While watching from a safe distance, the king looked into the furnace and saw FOUR men walking around inside.  The fourth was the Son of God!

Daniel was told he could not pray to any other god other than the “official” god of the kingdom.  Daniel didn’t change his ways, though.  He still prayed, daily, to the true God.  He didn’t do it in secret, but where anyone could see him.  He, too, was brought before the king.  He was thrown into a den of hungry lions.  An angel came and shut the mouths of the lions.  The next morning, the king approached the lions’ den and asked if Daniel’s God was able to save him.  Daniel replied that He had, in the night, saved him from the lions jaws.

I recently saw an advertisement for a western film starring Audie Murphy.  He was an actor, yes, but he was also one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II.

These stores all tell of people who were willing to die for a cause they believed in.

A Command for Husbands (and Wives)

In the passage in Ephesians, Jesus is speaking to husbands, telling them to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  How much did He love the church?  He died for it!

As husbands, this isn’t always an easy thing to do.  It’s even more difficult when there isn’t encouragement coming from the other side.  There’s a responsibility for the wife, also.  The same passage in Ephesians says that a wife is to respect her husband.  Sometimes, men will not do things in the home, but will drop everything to help the widow lady next door.  The wife wonders why he would do that?  It is possible that the neighbor is appreciative and thankful while the man receives no recognition in his own home. 

The command is there regardless.  Just like the command for the wife to respect her husband is there.  Even if the husband doesn’t do what he’s supposed to, the command is still there.

The ultimate challenge is this: Husband, love your wife so much that you would die for her.  Romans 5:8 says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  That’s why we should do it. 

Daily Decisions

We make daily decisions.  Maybe you’ve been selfish in the past, and maybe you’ve failed.  Don’t let past failures hinder you.  Remember, every day you wake up is the first day of the rest of your life. The failures of yesterday are gone.  It is a new opportunity to get it right.  You can repent of past failures and make a decision to live for God.

Is your marriage not a cause worth fighting for?  Some people may think that it would be better to “throw in the towel”. 

I’m not a marriage counselor, although I sometimes preach about it and write about it like I’m doing here. I had a friend who came to me and said he and his wife were having some struggles and he wanted to come talk to me.   I agreed to speak with them for a span of 6-8 weeks.  I didn’t want it to go on endlessly.  I His wife was close with my wife and would talk to her sometimes, as well.  There were times when the wife was discouraged and talked of divorce.  My wife told her that she didn’t realize the impact of what she was contemplating.  The finances would suffer, the children would suffer, and they would both be lonely. 

If you’ve been down this road and have gotten divorced, I’m not looking down on or judging you.  You may have handled it better than I could have. 

What I am saying is that your marriage is a cause worth fighting for!  Even if the sides aren’t “even”.  Wives, respect your husbands even if he doesn’t love you like he should.  Husbands, be willing to lay down your life for your wives, even if she doesn’t respect you as she should. 

We’ve heard stories about people who have seen a child in the path of an oncoming vehicle, and that person pushed the child to safety while losing their own life.  That’s because they were willing to die for that child; that cause.

The time may come when we have to take a stand for religious freedom.  Will we be willing to give our lives for that cause? How far would we be willing to go?  Would we be willing to be put in jail?  Throughout history, God’s people have taken a stand regardless of the consequences. 

I pray that this will be a new challenge to each of us.  Let the yesterdays of marriage be gone and make this the first day of the rest of your marriage.  It is time to be willing to stand up and give your life for that cause.

Edification Mistakes Christian Family Members Make – Part 3

This is the third in a four-part series on mistakes that Christian family members make, when dealing with one another, without realizing it. In the first part, I discussed the mistake of not knowing how fragile your family members are. You can read the first post and watch the video here.

The second post dealt with the importance of encouraging words. Read that here.

In this third post, I’ll talk about understanding how general attitudes of encouragement benefit the entire Christian community.

Building Up

Romans 15: 1-6 (MEV)
We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak and not please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself. But as it is written, “The insults of those who insulted You fell on Me.”[a] For whatever was previously written was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I recently posted a blog about humility and how it can help a marriage. The edification, or “building up” can help a marriage as well.
But it goes far beyond marriage and enters into our relationships with one another. Remember, marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (MEV)
11 He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service*, and for the building up of the body of Christ, 13 until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so we may no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness with deceitful scheming. 15 But, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, Christ Himself, 16 from whom the whole body is joined together and connected by every joint and ligament, as every part effectively does its work and grows, building itself up in love.

*Other translations read, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.” If you are a believer, you are a minister and a servant of Jesus!

Barnabas, Paul, and Mark

The Bible tells of a man named Barnabas. His name means “Son of Encouragement”. Christianity could be very different were it not for him.
Saul (Paul after his conversion) was not a nice man! He persecuted Christians full-time. He got letters of authority permitting him to arrest and imprison them. When Stephen (the first Christian martyr) was being stoned to death, Saul didn’t even try to stop the mob. In fact, he offered to hold their garments so they could throw the stones more easily. Word quickly got around that he was not someone Christians wanted around.

Then, while on the road to Damascus, he met the living Christ! Saul became Paul and his life was changed. He was excited about his encounter and wanted to tell everyone about his newfound faith. But who would listen to him? His reputation preceded him.

He thought he could go to the apostles, and get their endorsement, and then the people would listen. But the apostles wouldn’t receive him.
Then, the man named Barnabas heard Paul’s story and believed it. Then Barnabas took Paul before the apostles, and they listened to him and believed his story.

Paul went on to become one of the greatest preachers the world had seen. He planted churches and went on mission trips. On his first mission trip, Barnabas and his relative Mark accompanied him.
Because of the difficulties they faced, Mark left the journey early. Paul resented him for it. When it came time to plan for the second missionary trip, Barnabas again wanted Mark to go. Paul would not allow it. It caused contention between the two and Paul and Barnabas ended up splitting. That’s when Silas came into the picture.

On the surface, that looked like a bad thing. However, what wound up happening is that the Gospel was spread even further! Near the end of his life, Paul asked for Mark to be sent to him. They were reconciled, and Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark; perhaps the first of the four Gospels. If that is the case, Matthew and Luke could have gotten much of their information from him. Their was no jealousy or plagiarism. It is, however, one way the Holy Spirit could have caused the working of the synoptic Gospels to have come about. The “synoptic” part (like synonyms) refers to these Gospels covering many of the same events – yet each presents a different emphasis. Mark may have been written first, and may have become the foundation for the other two. At any rate, Mark became a Gospel writer.

What would have happened if Barnabas had not encouraged these two men?

I challenge you to consider how your encouragement of others can have a far-reaching impact. Put the practice of encouragement into your own family today. Then spread it out to the rest of the people you come into contact with.

Thank you for reading. I hope you are enjoying this series. Part four is coming up shortly. Until then, check out other posts on Randys’ Blogs and remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

May God richly bless you.

The Power of Encouraging Words

Edification Mistakes Christian Family Members Make – Part 2

This is the second in a four-part series on mistakes that Christian family members make, when dealing with one another, without realizing it. In the first part, I discussed the mistake of not knowing how fragile your family members are. You can read that post and watch the video here.

Today, I will be talking about the power of encouraging words.

A Lasting Impact

There was once a teacher who was concerned about some problems going on in her class. She came up with an assignment.

Students learned the power of encouraging words.

She began by giving each student a list of the names of all their classmates. She instructed the students to write down one good thing about each one in the class. The students turned in their assignments the following day.
The teacher then compiled all the good things the children had written about one another, and gave the list to the respective student. She then moved on with her normal lesson plans for the rest of the year.
Several years passed, and the teacher hadn’t thought much about the lists. Then, one of those students was killed in the Viet Nam war. The teacher, along with several students from that class, attended the visitation.

While talking and remembering, it was said that, among the soldier’s belongings, was the letter from the classmates listing his good qualities.

Once that was revealed, one by one, the other former students began saying, “I still have mine.” One said, “I look at mine at least once a week.” Another smiled and opened his wallet, and removed a tattered and taped piece of paper, showing that he, too, still had the letter from so long ago.

The teacher’s actions that day so long ago had a lasting impact on those students. It was evident by how many of them held on to and cherished the letters and the words written on them.

We see the power of encouraging words in examples such as these.

At Home

As I’ve said in previous blogs, the one about humility, for example, (read it here) supportive words and actions can go a long way and have a deep and lasting impact on the recipient. Words have the power to build up or tear down.

People at home need to experience the power of encouraging words

I’m sure we’ve all seen a child light up when a parent, teacher, or coach, tells them they did well, or praises their attitude, or congratulates them on a newly mastered skill. The encouragement makes the child want to try even harder, or repeat the action, or get even better at the skill.

Adults are no different. We all need to hear that we’re appreciated for who we are and what we do. We all need the encouragement of those we love and are closest to.

Husbands need to hear from their wives that they are proud of them, how hard they work, and how well they lead the family.

Wives need to hear from their husbands that they are pleased with the work she does, both in and out of the home. Wives need to be encouraged that they are doing well with the children and running the home.

Children need to know that Mom and Dad are proud of them and their efforts to learn, grow and improve.

Children need to communicate to their parents that they’re appreciative of the time, money, and effort that is put into their well-being and upbringing.

Not Just Blood Family

Christian "family" members need to experience the power of encouraging words

While the main focus of these posts is on blood-related family members, it’s important to note another family relationship. For those of us who are believers, our brothers and sisters in Christ are our family as well.

Those family members need support and encouragement as well. It’s easy to grow weary while serving Christ. Especially these days when we are under attack from so many directions. Discouragement and frustration can easily creep in. Just as it’s important to encourage our spouses and children, it’s important to lift up and exhort our pastors, deacons, elders, and other fellow believers.

Everybody needs encouragement and support from those around them. It’s so important to understand the power of encouraging words.

Thank you for reading. Please check out my other blog posts at Randy’s Blogs and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

The Importance of Edification – A Major Ingredient of a Successful Marriage

The importance of edification cannot be overemphasized.

Edification Mistakes Christian Family Members Make – Part 1

There are 4 mistakes that Christian family members make when dealing with one another. In the next several posts, I will be discussing what those mistakes are, and ways to avoid them. In this first installment, I will talk about the mistake of not knowing how fragile your family members are.

I’ve always been proud of the relationship that I have with my son, Rusty. Currently, he is serving as a missionary in Japan. Well, a few years ago, my wife and I took a trip to visit him and his family. While there, I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Rusty about an event he recalled from his past.

He was in school, and I was the assistant principal at the time. I had come into his classroom, and found that he had not completed his goals. He had gone as far as getting some of the school staff to support him, but I was going to override it because I knew what he was capable of accomplishing, and a different goal would have benefited him two weeks later.

I did not realize how damaging that was to him. Now, at that time, had he better explained to me what he was thinking, I feel like i would have understood and done what he asked. But what hurt me the most was that he didn’t feel like he could talk to me and explain. I had hurt my son, and I was oblivious!

Then, Rusty told that he recalled a time when he and my youngest daughter, Rita Beth were together, and she made what I interpreted to be a disrespectful comment. It concerned me because I felt I was responsible for her correction. I felt it was my fault.

Rusty left and went over to my mother’s house. I followed him a little later, and proceeded to speak to him and ti try to explain why I had corrected his sister. He looked at me and said, “It just feels like that sometimes you don’t respect us.”

Well, that floored me. I didn’t have anything to say. I just turned and walked away.
During that same conversation I mentioned above, Rusty said that he remembered the look in my eyes after he said that, and how hurt I looked. He didn’t remember what he said, but he remembered the look of hurt.

Before we move on, I should point out that all of my children were generally very respectful, including these two.

Family members sometimes make mistakes like these and don’t even realize it.

What Children need from Their Parents

Children long for approval and love from their parents. We’ve all seen a young child yell, “Daddy, watch this!” or “Mommy, look what I can do!” From an early age, children seek out their parents’ approval. Many of their motivations early in life come from a desire to make Mom and Dad proud of them. Even as adults, they don’t outgrow that need for approval.

A basic human need is love. Children who are deprived of that love and closeness often have lifelong problems with relationships. It’s sometimes referred to as “attachment disorder”. That is defined as “a type of mood or behavioral disorder that affects a person’s ability to form and maintain relationships. These disorders typically develop in childhood. They can result when a child is unable to have a consistent emotional connection with a parent or primary caregiver”

So you see, a lack of a loving support system can have lifelong consequences.

What Husbands Need from Their Wives

I’m not sure that wives understand how important their admiration, respect, and encouragement are for their husbands. As men, we feel the need to provide for and take care of our families. The Bible commands that we do so!
Big, showy, grand gestures aren’t always necessary to show your husband support and respect. I heard a story of a pastor and his wife. Every Sunday, while leaving the church, his wife would link her arm in his and say to him, “You’re a good man.” That was an encouragement to him.

What Wives Need from Their Husbands

Similarly, husbands aren’t always aware of the needs of their wives. Wives crave security, support, and encouragement from their husbands. Wives have a lot on their plates. Often, they work outside of the home. Many women are also responsible for the running of the household and care of the children. Knowing that their husbands are there and “have their back” is a source of great comfort.

What Parents Need from Their Children

Children, especially young ones, may not understand what their parents need from them. They may not know their parents need anything from them. But they do. Parents need to hear and see their children express gratitude for the things that they do for them. Parenting is a tough job, and it’s important to feel that what you’re doing matters and is appreciated.

Summing it all Up

So, within the family, everyone needs something from the other members. It’s a circular relationship. When everyone fills his or her role, the family can be happy, harmonious, and united.

In my next post, I’ll be discussing how important encouraging words can be. In the meantime, you can visit Randy’s Blogs for more about marriage and family relationships. You can also follow me on You Tube or Rumble.

Have a blessed day!

Building Confidence

In my recent posts, I’ve discussed edification or encouraging one another in the family.  Here, I’ll be talking about building up each other’s confidence.  While I’ll be focusing on relationships between husbands and wives here, remember that the church is the bride of Christ, so this blog post can be applied to relationships within the church as well.

Philippians 1:3-6, 25 (MEV)

I thank my God for every reminder of you. In every prayer of mine for you all, I have always made requests with joy, due to your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.
25 Having this confidence, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your joyful advancement of the faith,

Definition of Confidence

Let’s start off by defining confidence. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstance” Another definition is “…feeling sure of yourself and your abilities — not in an arrogant way, but in a realistic, secure way. Confidence isn’t about feeling superior to others. It’s a quiet inner knowledge that you’re capable.”

Confidence is not just our own confidence, but who we are in the Lord and how the Lord can bless us. We should be able to lift others up within the Lord and that should bring confidence within our lives.

Problems From Lack of Confidence

A lack of confidence can cause missed opportunities. Feelings of inferiority can cause you to think you can’t do something, or shouldn’t try. Maybe you won’t go out for that promotion at work because you feel like you wouldn’t be able to handle the extra responsibility. Perhaps you decline an offer to teach a Sunday school class because you think you lack the necessary abilities. It’s important to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. No matter if you succeed or you fail, you will always learn something.

Personal growth can stall without confidence. For example, what if, in order to get a new job, you needed to go back to school? If you’re feeling less than adequate, you may miss out on furthering your education, not to mention a great new career. You will feel defeated before you even start, so, you may not start. That goes back to those missed opportunities. How many things have we missed out on because the words “I can’t” or “I’m not” ran through our minds? It was once said that the word “can’t ” should be removed from the dictionary.

I think the worst thing to come from a lack of confidence is the feeling of being worthless and feeling that no one cares.  It can get to the point that it will pull a person down. If Satan can’t rob you of your knowledge of who Jesus is, he will try to rob you of your joy.  He’ll rob you of thinking clearly and he will fill you with lies. Satan will gleefully remind you of your past failures. That robs us of the freedom we have, in Christ, from those failures. When Satan gets a foothold in your thoughts and keeps reminding you about your past, it steals your confidence, and you fall deeper and deeper into despair. The sadness turns into more self-deprecating thoughts, Satan gains ground and the cycle continues.

Helping Rhonda

Let me begin by saying that I am in no way elevating myself. We all need to encourage one another.

Something I have always wanted to do is encourage my wife, Rhonda in her personal growth. She was once asked to speak at a Mother’s Day banquet.  She had never really spoken like that before and was a little apprehensive. As a family, we encouraged her to speak.  She did and was successful. Then word got out and another ladies’ meeting called and asked her to speak.  We encouraged her to do that event also. Hopefully, that helped her develop some confidence

While living in Georgia, we started a Christian school.   Rhonda hadn’t completed her education degree yet, but we felt like her main ministry should be at home during that time.  She did come into the school once a week and started working with a reading program helping the children.  She was also a monitor which is like a teacher’s aide.  While helping out, I knew I could just ask her to do something and she’d understand what I needed.

Another time, I worked at Accelerated Christian Education (ACE).  They did “Bible Time Boosters” which is similar to VBS.  They asked her and another lady to work with the little ones.  There were at least 35 children in the group.  To get the kids to walk in line and stay together, they all had to hang on to a rope.  When it came time for the closing program, her class’ turn came and she took the front of the rope, the children grabbed on, and the other teacher took the end and they did their program.  When it was time to leave the teachers and children took the rope and went back to their spot.
The rope trick really impressed a lady in the church named Mrs. Howard, who was in charge of many areas of the ministry. Later, she became president.  When it came time to start the preschool program, they wanted someone to be in charge of the school. This school was to be the pilot program for the development of the curriculum, which would have a world-wide impact. Mrs. Howard asked me if Rhonda would be willing to do that.  I would have encouraged Rhonda to do that, but we had already determined that her main ministry would be with our own preschoolers at home. Nevertheless, the idea of someone wanting her to head up the school was a big confidence builder for her.

Rhonda played the piano for her church as a teenager and she told me about a time that she couldn’t hold the foot pedal down because her knee was shaking so badly.  But she’s practiced and played many times for our church and others and has gained confidence and been a blessing.

As a teacher, Rhonda’s confidence was in working with the smaller children.  She worked with them for a while and was then asked to work with older children.  It was intimidating to her, but she did it and gained confidence. 

As a Sunday School teacher, again, her confidence was in working with children.  But she’s taught young adults and adults and I’ve seen her confidence grow.
I’ve just been trying to encourage her to grow.

My Personal Journey

Rhonda has encouraged me to grow and helped me gained confidence as well.  She’s encouraged me to trust in the Lord, and I’m SO glad she was willing to do that.  Our confidence in the Lord has grown through our lives because of our little, feeble faith that we started with that we could trust God when we couldn’t see what the next steps would be.

I was attending Seminary and had been a youth director at a church. That time was coming to an end, and it was time for me to graduate.  The house we were living in did not belong to us, and we needed to move out because the new youth director and his family were going to be moving in.  It got to the point where we had to be out in 6 days and didn’t know where we were going.  I had sent out many letters all over the country telling them I was available to pastor. 

I got a call from a church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois to preach a trial sermon.  I went and spoke, but was not called by that church. That was not in God’s plan. 

We got some replies from Georgia, and in that 6-day time frame, we went to one church, and I spoke.  I was scheduled to speak the next week at a youth revival at another church in Georgia.  After speaking at the first church in Georgia, we were headed back to Tennessee and were in prayer about what God wanted.  We said if that first church called us, we would accept the call.  Before we even got back to Tennessee, they had their meeting and called me as their pastor! 

We loaded up and moved to Georgia.  We pulled our U-Haul into one of the deacons’ yards with barely any time to spare and headed to the youth revival to fulfill that commitment. 

Then we were going to start a Christian school but it all fell apart.  I had already resigned from my church, and we had to be out of our house.  The church people asked me if I had made a mistake.  I said, “I don’t know. I don’t understand.  I don’t know what’s happening. But, I’m pretty sure I was right to resign.  I just don’t know yet what my next step is.”

They said they needed someone to fill in as pastor, so they asked if I would be willing to do that until I discovered my next step.  I agreed, and they said my family and I could live in the parsonage until everything got sorted out. So, even though the direction wasn’t clear at that time, God still provided for our short-term needs.

That Sunday we went up to a Sword of the Lord conference in Atlanta.  The regional coordinator from ACE was there, and I said, “It looks like we’re not going to start a school.” He said, “That’s OK.  We can just keep everything on file and in the next 3 years the church there can start.”  I started to walk away, and he asked if I needed a place to go.  It had never occurred to me to tell anyone that I need a place to go.  So, I told him that I did, and he told me he knew of a pastor who was wanting to start a school but didn’t have a principal or a supervisor and hadn’t sent anyone for training yet.  Classes were supposed to start in a few weeks.  So, it turned out that was the next step for us. 

Through all this, Rhonda just went along with me, even though I couldn’t see clearly the direction that God wanted me to go.  She got confirmation from the Lord along with me that He was doing something.  Even though we couldn’t see it, we relied on Him and trusted Him. In our case, God seems to let us just barely hang on when things seem to be falling apart. We just cling tightly to our faith.  Throughout our journey, Rhonda has encouraged me, and that has been a confidence builder for me.

Then, I worked for the International Institute, a college program for ACE, for a time. I then went back to southern Illinois and began a college there. 

Things didn’t always turn out how we had planned, but no matter what, God worked through that, and people were blessed.

God Provides Confidence

We don’t know how big or small things will be, but they are never insignificant. God is faithful.  He can instill the confidence in you, that when you take some steps, even if you can’t see how it will work out, God will come through and it will work out!  Then, when you’re facing another time of uncertainty when you can’t see how it will work out, you will remember what God did before, and you ask Him to please do it again. 

Rhonda and I decided that we wanted all our children to attend college.  We didn’t know how we were going to pay for it, but we took a step of faith and enrolled them.  Somehow, through God’s grace and provision, we made it.

We had one year when 3 of them were in college at one time. Our son, Rusty, was told by someone to apply for some scholarships. They scholarship providers didn’t know him and weren’t from our state.  Rusty wouldn’t have had any idea about applying for those, but someone suggested he do so, and he got several scholarships out of that encounter. God works that way! He also provided jobs for them.  That was the year that our income came up and was one of the highest we’ve had in our lives.

Then, Rusty decided that he was going to be a missionary to Japan.  I said, “How are you going to get funding?”  He went to area churches to get monthly funding. The mission board said he needed a budget of $108,000 a year.  To us, in our area, it seemed excessive.  But Rhonda and I took a trip to Japan and bought a watermelon while there, and it was $40, so we found out that level of funding was totally in line.  But God made a way, and Rusty and his family were able to move to Japan, and he is still serving in the mission field today!

The Lord builds confidence in failures.  Abraham Lincoln ran for office several times and didn’t get voted nt.  Then, finally, he was elected the 16th President of the United States.

Encourage One Another

You can encourage one another.  If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly until you can do it well. You can encourage with that. Wives can encourage husbands.  Perhaps the husband gets a new job and isn’t doing well in the beginning.  She can encourage him by using that phrase and letting him know that she believes he will improve and be successful.

Encouragement Regardless of Personality Type

God can use every personality type.  There are some people who are very driven and outgoing and will work to get things done.  You can be thrust into leadership positions.  You can be a follower.  You can be the best support person you can be.  But, there are also people who have milder personalities who can be leaders. 

There is a spiritual gift of pastoring, but there are some pastors who do not have that spiritual gift.  I am currently pastoring a church, but I don’t feel I have that spiritual gift.  But I have learned that if God calls you to serve in a certain role, He will provide the necessary tools.

You may have that hard-driving personality, and God will cause things to happen because of your drive. You might have a milder personality.  You might be introverted.  In many companies, there are people that are introverted and quiet who are in positions of leadership, and people can’t figure out how they got there.  The reason those kinds of personalities can be successful is that they are willing to put up with things that people with stronger personalities aren’t.   God can take that and use that. 

Whatever your spouse’s personality type is, please encourage them that God can use them. 

I’m currently interested in Internet marketing and I’m trying to learn how to do that.  My confidence grows each time I fail at that. I lean a little bit more each time I try.   Maybe someday I’ll be a great Internet marketer and be telling you all how to succeed at doing that.

What Can Be if We Instill Confidence in Others

Think about what can take place if you build your confidence, and your family builds your confidence.  You can begin to tackle new things, and you can see God do unusual things.  You’d be willing to start without knowing what the next steps will be.  You may be called to go to minister in a prison.  You may be afraid, but you take a step and be willing to start. As you do this, you may appear to be more outgoing than you actually are. You may overcome some obstacles along the way, but you will recover from failures that you face.

Before Rhonda and I got married, I sang in a quartet.  There was a song we sang that said:

When trouble is in my way,
I can’t tell my night from day,
When I’m tossed from side to side,
Like a ship on a raging tide,
I don’t worry I don’t fret.
My God has never failed me yet.
Troubles come from time to time,
But that’s all right,
I’m not the worrying kind because
I’ve got confidence
God is gonna see me through.
No matter what the case may be.
I know He’s gonna fix it for me.
Job was sick so long
Till the flesh fell from his bones.
His wife, cattle, and children,
Everything that he had was gone.
But Job in he despair,
He knew that God still cared,
Sleepless days and sleepless nights,
But Job said that’s all right because
I’ve got confidence.

In Closing

I pray that you will have it as part of your mission to instill confidence in those around you. My desire is to instill confidence in you so you can talk to people about your faith. I want you to be able to step out of your comfort zones.  When asked to be a Sunday School teacher, you will accept and see where the Lord leads.  When you see a challenge before you, I pray for you to realize that God has never failed you yet. Step out.  Even if there’s a failure, you learn from it. I pray that in your life, failure is never a bad thing.  Don’t let the failure go to waste.  Learn from it and build your confidence. 

Thank you for reading. For more posts like this, go to Randy’s Blogs. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and my Rumble Channel.