Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Memory Aids

In 1662 The Act of Uniformity required every minister in England to conduct church services according to the Book of Common Prayer. Those who would not do so were forbidden to preach. One of the 2000 ministers who lost their opportunity to preach was John Whitlock. In speaking to his congregation just before the law went into effect, he advised them on how they could remember the teachings of scripture if they were long deprived of faithful preaching. I will summarize some of his suggestions.

First, if you would remember the truth, be sure that you love the truth. It is hard to remember that for which you do not care. But the things we love most we remember best.

Second, if you would remember the truth, be sure that you apply it and put it to use in your life. Ideas frequently put to use are remembered. Concepts rarely applied are quickly forgotten.

Third, meditate on the truth. Think about it for at least a few minutes each day. A few minutes each day of reading God's word and thinking about its promises would do much to aid our memories.

Fourth, talking over some portion of God's word with others will help keep it fresh in our minds. What one forgets, another may remember. We can, and should, stir one another up to love and good works. We should call things to one another's remembrance.

Fifth, we should ask God to help us remember his will. We should pray for grace to recall and faith to apply his word.

We are not forbidden to hear faithful preaching, as people were in 1662. But many of us are taking very little advantage of the opportunities we have to learn his will. Let us strive to learn and remember. If you have trouble recalling good biblical teaching, try using these five memory aids.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful Always?

If you are like me, and like most of us, you may have a little trouble obeying Ephesians 5:20, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." I admit it, I struggle with that command. But let's not give up, let keep trying. I will try to set an example.

I am thankful for the IRS. I do not think they do a great job, and I think that income tax is a foolish way to fund government, but I have lived places where the tax was more unfair and more poorly administered.

I am thankful that I am not big and strong and athletic. If I were, I might have be tempted to rely on my physical strength.

I am thankful that I am not a genius. If I were, I might rely on my brains instead of God's word.

I am thankful for the current unrest in our world. I feel bad about the people who are hurt by it, but I pray that it will lead some to consider the long-term view and to be less focused on this world.

I am thankful that my car had a problem a week ago Wednesday. I was at home on that Wednesday. If the problem had come up on Thursday, when I was in Canada, it would have been much more difficult to handle.

Speaking of Canada, I am thankful that fuel is a dollar more per gallon in Canada. The extra dollar of tax on fuel in Canada makes me realize how much better off we are, and the extra tax is helping Canada pay off its debt.

These may be silly examples, but I hope they help a bit. The truth is, most things we complain about could be much worse. We should be more thankful, even for the things that are not pleasant. And then there are the things for which we can be heartily thankful.

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Is November 11 Veterans Day?

November 11, known as Veterans Day in the States and  as Remembrance Day in Canada, was set aside to remember those killed in World War I, which ended at 11:00 AM on November 11, 1918. More than 37 million people died in that war. Taking into account the population at that time (less than two billion) and the current world population (about 7 billion), this would be the equivalent of 130 million people being killed today.

Several countries experienced the loss of 3% of their population during the war. In today's terms, if the United States were to lose 3%, that would mean that 9 million people would die nationwide. Toledo alone would lose 9000.

Since most of the deaths in this war were of young men, the demographics of entire nations were changed. With the loss of so many young people, the average age went up dramatically. With the loss of so many males, the balance between males and females was lost. Of course, in some countries the losses were, sadly, more general -- with men, women, children, and the elderly all being killed.

This week, I will wear a poppy in memory of those who died in that terrible conflict. I will mourn, not only the tragedy of that war but the forgetfulness of humanity. This week I will be reminded of both in a single moment. As I drive across southern Ontario I will pass an amusement park called "Earl Haig Fun Park." I will shed a tear for the 20,000 men Earl Douglas Haig sent to their deaths on July 1, 1916, the 20,000 more who died under his orders on July 2 ..... But most of all I will weep over the insanity of a world that has forgotten, that thinks it cute to have fun at a park named after a colossal tragedy.

But why should it surprise us that the world has forgotten the tragedy of 1914-1918? Millions of people will gather this day for what they call Christian worship and hardly give a thought to Calvary. Such an assembly might be called a positive thinking rally. It is not Christian worship.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Must Remember In November

Romans 1:32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

We practice the secret ballot in the United States. No one is to know how you vote, unless you choose to tell them. That is a good practice. I have lived where it was not done that way. You do not find out what people really think when you force them to vote publicly.

But do keep one thing in mind. There is one person who will know how you vote. I do not want to know. The poll workers will not know. Your spouse may not know. But you will answer to God for your vote.

He has indicated quite plainly, in the verse quoted above, that those who give approval to sin are just as guilty as those who commit sin. Giving approval to sins such as homosexuality -- the topic under discussion in Romans 1 -- is as much a sin as practicing homosexuality.

So, if you choose to cast your vote for candidates supporting sins such as homosexual marriage or abortion, you are just as guilty of these sins as if you had committed them yourself. If you choose to cast your vote for candidates who support persecuting our citizens who refuse to pay for insurance that covers abortions, you will be held guilty of the persecution that will be meted out in the next few years.

So, if you do not wish to stand before God guilty of murder, guilty of homosexual sin, guilty of persecuting the church, then you better be careful how you vote. I am forbidden (by an unconstitutional and unjust law) to name names. But you know who these candidates are (if you do not, you ought not to be voting at all).