Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Duty & Results

Grantland Rice (1880-1954) was a famous sportswriter. There are no sportswriters as famous today as Grantland Rice was in his time. Is that because Rice was a better writer than any of those writing today? Rice was a very good writer, but those who have read his work thoroughly contend that, if he were writing today he might be virtually unknown. People do not depend on the newspapers for their sports news today. A writer just as good as Grantland Rice might well be unnoticed, perhaps even unemployed, in today’s market.

If we live in a time of testing, if we live in an era when people are unreceptive to the gospel and even violently opposed to it, we must not measure ourselves against those of past generations who faced a different situation. If we make such mistaken comparisons there are two likely results, and neither of them is good.

We might start trying extreme and unscriptural methods in an effort to obtain the results that were known in the past. On the other hand, we might become discouraged and just quit trying.

J. C. Ryle wrote, “We are not to relax our exertions because we see no fruit of our toil. We are to work on steadily, keeping before us the great principle that duty is ours and results are God’s.”

The great question is not success but faithfulness. Jesus did not promise the joy of the Lord to successful servants but to faithful servants (Mt 25:21). We must keep this principle ever before us.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unhealthy Diet

According to a recent NPR story, "Food is very, very cheap in the U.S. compared to most countries. But ... you end up with people malnourished in one of the richest countries because they don't have access to fresh vegetables at a cheap enough price ...."

Now let me ask you, 'Do you believe that price is the real reason Americans do not eat vegetables?' It appears to me that the main reasons they do not eat vegetables is that they do not like them and that they find them too difficult to prepare. Folks that spend a fortune on bottled water and fancy pet food, could certainly afford vegetables if they wanted them. This "too poor to afford vegetables" claim is hollow as a fortune cookie. Americans eat an unbalanced diet because they choose to do so.

We never learned to cook; we never learned to like real food; we are in the habit of grabbing junk because it is easy, and we have become accustomed to it. Price has little, if anything, to do with it.

But this blog is not about health food, so why do I mention this? Simply because the same thing carries over into spiritual matters. We eat unhealthy food, even though there is plenty of healthy food available, simply because we have formed bad habits and are too lazy to change them. That statement is equally true whether one is considering physical or spiritual food.

The junk is so easy, the junk is so fast, and we are so used to the junk. The attitude is "Don't make me cook, don't make me think, just give me a canned meal, or a canned thoughtless sermon." That attitude is the problem. We can afford better food, But we are not willing to take the time to prepare it. Good spiritual food is available also, but too many of us are unwilling to invest the effort to receive it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

School Shootings Surprise You?

Consider these thoughts from Joe Slater.

"We have legally killed over fifty million people who were inconvenient or unwanted over the last 40 years. To the children, the unspoken message is: 'The only reason you're here is because we wanted you. We killed fifty million of your brothers and sisters, and we could have killed you just as easily, and there would have been nothing wrong with it.' Given that bankrupt philosophy, why are we surprised when some children have no respect for each other's lives?"

Given what we are teaching our children, it would be surprising if we did not have school shootings. If killing an innocent child is acceptable, then why should one refrain from killing those who are not innocent -- who are often seen as oppressive and unfair?

Of course, if we could somehow eliminate all guns from our society, that would stop the actual shooting, but it would not end the thinking that is the root cause of the violence. My father's generation had not only guns but explosives readily available throughout their childhood, yet schools were not attacked. It is the philosophy of life that has changed, not the availability of guns. Our greatest need is to replace that failed philosophy.

God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17). When America starts taking God's attitude toward the doctors, judges and politicians who have caused the death of the fifty million, the school shootings will soon diminish if not cease.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Self-Delusion

Proverbs 19:3 (HCSB) A man's own foolishness leads him astray, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

It is sad that so many people choose to live their lives by worldly standards, ignoring what God's word says about right and wrong; and yet they expect God to bless them. It is sad that so many today choose to live their lives by worldly standards, ignoring what God's word says; and yet they claim that God is number one in their lives. It is sad that so many today choose to live their lives by worldly standards, ignoring what God's word says; and yet they claim that they have a good personal relationship with God. This is nothing but self-delusion.

Matthew 7:21 (ESV) Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
1 Peter 3:12 (ESV) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
1 John 2:29 (ESV) If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
1 John 3:7 (ESV) Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

We cannot live wrong and die right. We cannot live wrong and claim to love Him. If one really wants to be known as a person who loves the Lord, and who puts Him first in life -- there is no need to SAY that we do. We need to really do it. If we really put Him first, if we strive to live by His standards, it will be seen that He is first in our lives and we will not have to go around telling people that He is. But if we choose to live in a manner that He has labeled immoral, no matter how much we claim Him as Lord, it will be obvious that the claim is hollow. As Jesus himself said, "Unless you repent you will perish" (Luke 13:3).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Tale of Two Yankees

Robinson Cano's values are simple and clear. He wants as much money as he can get. He will play for whichever team offers him the most money. Normally the Yankees outbid others, but in Cano's case, the Mariners were the team making the highest offer. Cano's new contract is reported to be for $240 million.

That is almost all I intend to say about Robinson Cano. I prefer to talk of another Yankee, one who played the same position as Cano, but who had a very different attitude. I prefer to talk about Bobby Richardson.

Shortly after the end of the season in 1966, the New York Yankees presented a standard contract to their star second-baseman, Bobby Richardson. It was a standard contract in every respect except one. The dollar figures were blank. Bobby Richardson was invited to fill in the blanks, to set his own signing bonus and salary. It was every player's dream, a blank contract from the richest team in the land.

Thirty-one year old Bobby Richardson pushed the contract across the table and said, "The Yankees have treated me well, but I am not interested in filling in the blanks in that contract. My interest is in filling in the blanks in my life as a husband and a father. My last game was my last game."

The Yankees' negotiator stated, "We gave him a blank contract and he gave it back. Bobby never tried to convince any of us that we should believe as he did, but we all knew how he felt. After that, I knew what he was made of. ... We were running a business, and he was running his life."

I have heard that Robinson Cano wanted to be the richest player in baseball, and that he was disappointed that he was not offered as much money as Alex Rodriguez receives. Let me tell you something, Mr. Cano. Neither you nor A-Rod is the richest player in history. Bobby Richardson was far better off than either of you.