The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part One)

This article is part 1 of 6 in the series Christian Home

Writing about “the home,” is challenging. Some may say, “You don’t have the right to write on this since you’ve been through divorce!” Simply put, I disagree. That being said, I will proceed. Here are several simple points to begin with.
1. Normal children are born normal. There are exceptional children, those with deformities such as blindness, crippled, retarded and there are many more “deformities,” both mental and physical. Normal children are born normal. Suffice it to just say here, that not one is born a homosexual or a lesbian. Children are born with brains, but not with “mind.” There is a difference.
2. Children come into a home pathetic and helpless. They come with one desire, to grow, mature and fulfill a purpose. They are like soft clay… pliable, moldable, teachable, changeable, moveable. All depends on the ones entrusted with molding, teaching, changing, and moving them.
3. Early years of a child are the most important since these are the most impressionable years. By the time a child is six months old he knows (senses) a mother’s love. Sixty percent of the broad concepts of life are realized by age six. Eighty percent of one’s vocabulary is fixed by age twelve.
1. The concept (definitions) of life are TAUGHT by parents.
Words spoken: Much is conveyed by how loud or soft, harsh or loving, hasty or slow, words are spoken.
Attitudes: Outlooks- dispositions and how life is to be lived, whether it is to be enjoyed and positive in its outlook or negative and to be dreaded and filled with sorrows, are conveyed early in life. “Mama, can we go to the park for a walk?” “NO! You will fall, or fall into the pond and drown, or be snatched by some twisted pervert!” “Daddy, can I sleep on the couch tonight?” “NO! Beds are made to be slept on, only slobs sleep on the couch!” “Can I have my friends over to play?” “NO! Our house is a mess, and the furniture is bad, and they will go home and tell their parents how poor we are. Besides, I’m tired!” “No!” “No! “No!”
Fears: Often parents pass fears on to children without even realizing it or meaning to do so. Anxieties, worries, frustrations can be planted, nurtured, cultivated, encouraged, fertilized, and harvested. “You can’t!” “Look out!” “You’ll fall!” “You’ll never make it!” We threaten and bribe to get what we want from them. “If you don’t go to sleep I’ll turn out the lights in the hall!” “If you don’t do your chores, eat your food, do your homework, take a bath, clean your teeth, etc., and the treats (which we never intend on following through on) flow.
Attitudes: Attitudes towards people, neighbors and friends, enemies, elders, deacons, preachers… we often teach our children and they take hold of our thoughts and make them their own. “Dirty crooks!” Trying to rob you” “Dog eat dog world” “Rat race” “All hypocrites” “They just want your money” We just don’t think of all the things we do and say which pour into the minds of children during the first six years, and wonder why they later end up the way they are.
Spiritual concepts: What about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, church, missions and missionaries? “Hide your wallet, the missionary is in town!” What do we teach our children about these things. How many children hear parents using Jesus’ name in crude, rude, and just nasty ways? “God this!” “God that!” Enough! It is time for parents to wake up to what is happening to children.
Perfect parents just don’t exist! The “Christian home” is made of human beings that struggle through life and try to do the right thing at the right time, but just don’t always do it. Many problems that come, just come and are unexpected. What are we saying in this part of this study??? Pay attention to your most important role… PARENTING.
Parenting is not easy, and having struggled through having children and watching them grow up, and seeing some do great and some not, my thought is always, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP ON THEM. Like the stork standing in the swamp that has caught a frog and has it almost gobbled down but the frog hasn’t given up! Its hands or paws, are wrapped around the neck of the stork and squeezing as hard as possible. What’s the frog thinking? “It ain’t over yet!”

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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part Two)

This article is part 2 of 6 in the series Christian Home

 It is absolutely true, “God is no mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he reap also” (Galatians 6.7). This was always a negative verse to me. (Sometimes it still is.) The old acronym BTDT (Been There, Done That) carries many regrets and thoughts of what I would “do over,” if the chance were given. Thoughts and actions planted result in reflective plants grown and a harvest of consequences.
When children grow up with the idea that they are not amenable to Mom and Dad’s law (authority), it often results in teens and adults that see themselves as not amenable to God’s laws and man’s laws as well. The harvest is not good. Where to begin?
PARENTS MUST TEACH! Their WORDS, MODEL, and TOTAL IMAGE, are completely grasped by children as they grow up and often emulated in their life.
Instructions, law, direction, rules, responsibility, accountability are to be taught.
Solomon wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Prov. 1.7-9). I grew up with the teaching of “B.H.D.” (You have to BE before you HAVE and DO.) Today this has been changed to H.B.D. (You have to HAVE before you can BE and DO.) The development of character is vital, and yet it is sorely missing today. “For I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgement” (Genesis 18.19). Growing up we didn’t have much but it was more than most. Dad worked at preaching, and Mom worked at home (a job which is unfortunately ‘put down’ by many today). We kids (there were three of us, then four, then five, then six!), never were in need of what was important. We had .25 cents for allowances, and loved the trip to Woolworth 5 and 10 cent Stores. The table was always full of food. Even when Mom made a big pot of RUNNY mashed potatoes. Dad told us, “Eat up boys!” Okra was a now and again thing. Slimy things that they were. Dad always said, “Slide me some.” Mom served two things… TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! WE ALWAYS KAD PLENTY, BECAUSE DAD SAID, “YOU’VE HAD PLENTY.” Things have changed now haven’t they? What is lacking is Dad’s that will guide and command in the right way, and Mom’s that will back him up, and kids that will follow.
Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6.1-4). “Go learn what this means,” Boys can BE without HAVING!!! (Dad often joked about his Dad having him work at home. “He only wanted us to work half a day and the other half was ours, he didn’t care which half it was either.) Learning involves guidance, teaching, rules, commands. responsibility and accountability. These don’t come easy to a child.
Children are growing up in an age when “image” is “Fifty shades of Grey.” Black and white are quickly disappearing. It is politically incorrect to say things like “”Flee immorality…” “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify god in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6.19-20). References like Ephesians 5:21ff; Matthew 19.1-11, need to be taught in love. Mistakes have horrendous consequences. Truth is still truth, and to do otherwise is sin, and even though there is forgiveness… scars still remain. Scrambled eggs cannot be unscrambled, but must be eaten.
Begin early teaching and setting the example of the right way to go. TEACHING PLUS TIME = MIND, MIND PLUS TIME = CONVICTION, CONVICTION PLUS TIME = CHARACTER, CHARACTER PLUS TIME = DESTINY.
I grew up with a solid idea of who I was. I had a Father and Mother. My Dad was: 1.) A MALE. (“God create them male and female” Moses wrote in Genesis.) He had (like his Dad) a crop of hair growing on his chest. I didn’t! I wanted to be LIKE DAD. He said, “Jack, Eat your spinach!” I looked at the green stuff on my plate, and yuk! He said, “It will put HAIR on your chest.” Yummy, give me some more! He had no problem being a MALE. I wanted to grow up to be a MAN like Dad. Lovingly, people need to hear the message, HOMOSEXUALITY is wrong! Unnatural! Confusing to a child’s image (Romans 1.24-32)! Soup commercials that have two “fathers”, and one says, “I’m your father.” and the other says, “No, I’m your father,” speaks loud and clear to the mess children are in today, and should be “boycotted.” 2.) A FATHER. Someone who was the “head of the house.” The leader, the guide, the “supreme court.” My youngest brother Ed, was getting a whipping and Dad asked, “You have anything to say Ed?” Ed said, “I want to speak to the supreme court.” Dad said, “You’re speaking to it son.” Don’t get me wrong, Dad’s are not perfect. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, Paul said. Dad’s grow with time as well, and learn from mistakes. Dad’s you may not be perfect, and you may make mistakes, but BE A DAD! 3.) A HUSBAND. This is a role which the man cannot miss. If you are married treat your wife with the love and respect she deserves. She is a partner not a slave. She is your completion not your play toy. She is yours and you are hers, (I Cor. 7.1-5). Read Ephesians 5. 22-31. Think about the comparisons made, and the love shared. BE A HUSBAND.
Then there was Mom. Mom was a 1.) FEMALE. She and Dad were equal in that what Mom said carried the weight of Dad. Dad backed her up. When she said, “Dad will deal with you.” Our day was over! (We thought our life was over.) God created them male and female. God was and is wise in His way of doing things. Just think where we would be if He started with John and George instead of Adam and Eve. Mom was a female, and my sister identified with MOM. They wanted to be like her. They wanted nothing to do with “hair on the chest.” They played with dolls, and we played with army men. DIFFERENT! 2.) A MOTHER. She was everything to us but a Dad. She was the doctor when we were hurt, she was the mediator with Dad for us (which is why we are still alive), she was the one who made sure we had clean clothes, patched clothes, food in our bellies, warm coats on our backs, a clean room, she drove us to school and back, she loved gently, firmly. She was a teacher, a disciplinarian, a guide. She and Dad were together always, and never argued in front of us. Their disagreements were taken care of behind the bedroom doors, always! 3.) A WIFE. Mom was Dad’s wife. There were no others, nor should there be. Sin camps at the doors and the “grass just looks greener on the other side.” Sixty one years they were married. Perfect? No! In love? Yes! Mom and Dad have passed on now, and they are together again.
Divorce is a problem. It is not unforgivable. The guilty (as I have always believed) don’t need to unscramble the egg as it were. People cannot be divorced too many times so as to be unreachable by the blood of Christ, as one preacher said to a three time divorced lady. Christians are not perfect either, but God’s grace and forgiveness is always available. God help us all to understand and reach out to the hurting.
Command + Example = Image. It all begins at home. Teaching and setting the example needed by children to follow can pave the way to a good life. This puts a big responsibility on parents, and a tremendous joy as well.
PARENTS TEACH!
Grow in grace friends!

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Growing Up… (In Christ)

Growing up is not always easy. Abuse is more rampant than we would like to admit. Parenting seems to be harder than some would like to admit. Growing up is natural but as the seedling pine needs to be “staked out” as it grows, even so the child needs teaching, guidance and discipline along the way.

Growing up spiritually is pretty much the same. So why have so many missed this much needed process? When a person gives their life to Jesus, having repented of sin and been born of water and Spirit (as Jesus says in John 3), the past is forgiven, the present is a new beginning in Christ, and the future is a walk in grace. How far is the walk? God only knows (cf. Matt. 20.1-16). However, all are walking, growing up in Christ at different rates.

Growing up “in Christ,” is a step by step process. Legalism doesn’t help the process. Liberalism doesn’t help the process. Growing up in Christ isn’t a “hit or miss” process, it is a combination of “fearing God,” “loving God,” and “desiring God.” The babe in Christ may not realize all of this, and this is why good disciplers are needed. Avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism and just seeking to know the Lord and follow the Lord and as newborn babes drinking of the milk of the Word without all the traditions of man. “I just want to be a disciple,” is on the heart of all new believers. So the process begins.

Taking baby steps means taking steps which probably involve making mistakes. What baby doesn’t throw up or poop their diapers. Question: Where are the ones who will lovingly feed, help and clean? Often what happens when one is immersed into Christ is we give them a Bible and in essence say, “Good luck!” No wonder they get discouraged. We expect them to simply come to church and go through the same motions weekly and hope they will be “raised in church.” Church does not take the place of parents physically nor spiritually. The one who brought and taught them should be the one(s) who stick with them and help them grow. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes spirituality and gentleness (Galatians 6.1-5).

Growing up in Christ is also very exciting. A new life (old things are passed away) (2 Cor. 5.17), and what a life it can be. What could possibly hinder the new Christian? In a word SIN. It takes time to understand and learn how to appreciate the armor God gives the Christian (Eph. 6.10-17). It takes time for the babe to understand the blessing of the indwelling of the Spirit, what grieves Him, what quenches Him, what He wants or doesn’t want. The new Christian will have “baggage” from the past, and it takes time to deal with this. It takes a caring spiritual parent who understands the dangers that lie ahead.

Growing up in Christ can take some real twists and turns. Sometimes a Christian gets side-tracked, and falls, doing something just wrong. Is this the end? Is this a time for dis-fellowshipping? Is this a time to disown or turn our backs? Is this a time to give up on them? Of course this will not help. Growing up in Christ means growing up in the relationship the Christian has in Christ, and it is hard to lose that. While trying to grow up in a legalistic system “in Christ” is easy to fall from, because we can never seem to “do enough,” “give enough,” “pray enough,” “Sing enough,” “be good enough.” What is needed is a healthy balanced understanding of God’s grace. This is so because a Christian cannot, must not ever come to think of himself as sinless, and thus outside the need of God’s grace. While Christians do sin, and prodigal sons/daughters are found not only in Luke 15, they certainly should not enjoy, boast or gloat in sin. It should grieve them, hurt them, for they have sinned against God. Repentance is to correct ones direction, and it is not just a one time thing, just as growing up is not just a “one time thing.” What is needed is more understanding of the process, as well as encouragement, loving discipline in some cases to bring the fallen back on course. Ignoring the fallen will not help. Gossiping about the fallen will not help. “Black-balling” will not help.

Growing up in Christ may be summed up in the phrase “be patient with me, God isn’t finished yet.” Parents don’t quickly dump a child, pre-teen, teenager, or even a child grown up… “Blood is thicker than water” as the old saying goes. Even when a child has sorely hurt his parents, and caused their hair to turn grey prematurely, they still love. Even when a parent must discipline the “child” the parent will often say or think, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” The Hebrew writer records,

“and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed. 14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornication, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright” (Hebrews 12).

Growing up in Christ means beginning, continuing, falling, getting back up, going on to the end in grace! You cannot get many to heaven with fear (of punishment), but you can with love. love can and should be tough and tender, for we all need it.

Dad once told me that back years ago when I wanted to marry, “I wanted to kick you in the pants.” I often think now how I could have used a kick or two. If I had received it, I would probably not liked it at the time, but looking back, it would have been the best thing. The only way this could be is if I knew that Dad really loved me, and I did and do.

Don’t give up on brethren. “Mark” carefully. “Correct” with love. “Avoid” sparingly. Encourage, correct, lift up, help liberally. Who knows, one day you may need it as well. Pine trees need to be ‘staked out” when they are young, but then sometimes even later when the storms come and are too great for the tree, weakness appears, and it’s time to get to work brethren. It is important to win the lost to Christ, but even more, we are to keep the saved.

Grow in grace!

 

 

 

 

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“Finish What You Start!”

Jack H. Exum Sr. (Dad)

Jack H Exum Sr. (Dad)

Dad passed on some valuable principles which still “live on” at least in my life. One of them was “Finish what you start.” Always active, always organized with a rotating list of ten things he needed to do, both for the day and the week, Dad plowed through each one until it was done. This is how he kept things from piling up on him. His ministry, his books, his writing articles, his paying bills, taking care of stuff around the house, taking care of medical appointments, projects big and small… all had a spot on his list and a time for getting it done.
The Bible says regarding the work of God in creation, “Thus the heavens and the earth were FINISHED, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God FINISHED his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:1-3) (ESV) (Emphasis mine). He finished what He started!
In Genesis 6:16 God instructed Noah, “A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou FINISH it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (ASV)(Emphasis mine). Genesis 7:5 says, “And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.” He finished the job given him.
In John 17:4 Jesus says, “I glorified you on earth, having ACCOMPLISHED the work that you gave me to do” (ESV)(Emphasis mine). His mission of selecting, training, protecting, preparing his disciples to carry on after His death and resurrection, WAS DONE. He finished what He started.
Jesus said in Luke 13:32 “And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”  In John 19:30 it says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is FINISHED,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (ESV)(Emphasis mine). The third day He rose from the dead… HE FINISHED WHAT HE STARTED.
Several times Jesus spoke about being his disciple and what this involved… In Luke 14, He speaks about counting the cost. (Something very important in considering a project.) He says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to COMPLETE it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to FINISH, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to FINISH.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
Paul speaks to the brethren about their purposed giving, in 2 Corinthians 8:11 he says, “So now FINISH doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have” (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
He says to young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7) (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
“Finish what you start!” Make a list of what needs done. Take each one and count to cost, and begin… but keep on until it is done. Do the same with everything, no matter how small or large the job. Break big jobs down into daily or weekly increments… A mission may even take a life time, but FINISH IT.
Grow in grace brethren….

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Restoration and Unity – Let’s Get To It!

While it is true that brethren do not always agree… it is a fact as well that we can still love each other and still be unified in Jesus. It has long been difficult to have an open and unafraid discussion of “disputed matters,” and discover how to deal with these things while KEEPING THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE.

What would Jesus say/do? What would the Apostle Paul write and instruct us to do? These are truly difficult times and questions, while we strive to “walk in the old paths” of truth, we seek wisdom to be clear on what are matters of salvation (essentials) and what things are not matters of salvation (non-essentials.) Some seem willing to sacrifice UNITY for DOCTRINE (i.e. DOCTRINE AT ANY COST.) Others are eager to sacrifice DOCTRINE for UNITY (i.e. UNITY AT ANY COST.) This summit is about trying to FIND BALANCE through God’s GRACE, avoiding EXTREMES, restoring and maintaining the UNITY of the Spirit.

* I understand that some will not WANT to make the effort to find balance needed… or go the distance needed in restoring NT Christianity and seeking unity. Nor do some want to even consider the matter… This is sad indeed.
* I understand that others will be getting out their “big black markers,” and are ready to label as “unfit” or “heretical,” any who would question or challenge the status-quot. This too is sad, because it is a sign of “institutionalism.”
* However it is this scribe’s opinion and hope… that there are many other brethren who are tired of the in-fighting, and “naval-gazing” as well as the dividing to the point where many congregations CANNOT EVEN AFFORD TO KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN while the lost world “goes to hell in a hand-basket!”

To illustrate the need for such a summit I site the following:
1. One congregation recently has had a problem with MODESTY, and in order to fix the situation, sample clothing was placed on the bulletin board. Clothing ACCEPTABLE and clothing UNACCEPTABLE. Needless to say, this has created a stir. Unless calmer, wiser minds prevail, the result may well be disastrous, with Christians being lost to the world, and the church defamed in that community.

2. Another congregation decided to introduce musical instruments in one service and have singing without instruments in another service and thus accommodating those who did and did not want instruments. Another congregation condemned that congregation in their town local newspaper for all to see proclaiming that they considered this congregation to be apostate, listing verses supporting their points. Now whether or not you agree with the use of instruments, this scribe’s question is WHAT GOOD WAS ACCOMPLISHED by the action taken?

I understand the “explosiveness” of this and many of the “hot buttons,” but until and unless we find a way to properly handle things of this nature, the church will continue dividing until it is gone or of little effect in this world.

Our problem has been and probably always will be in over-reacting and going to  EXTREMES.

* Brethren, we propose nothing new. We suggest a basic principle many have missed… and that is to understand GOD’S GRACE more and learn to APPLY it Biblically. IT IS TIME to earnestly seek to not only RESTORE NTC, but also “MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT THROUGH THE BOND OF PEACE.”

* It is my judgment that until we learn to let God be the Judge and the “weed Puller” in disputable matters and opinions, and learn how to deal not only with the “weak brother with love,” but also the “contentious, and argumentative brother with united front,” we will not be about the Father’s business nor the Son’s great mission and will continue to be distracted…

While UNITY is not a command (as far as I can tell), it surely was a desire and prayer of our Lord.

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“Getting A Facelift”

Dads face lift before and after

No these are not “mug shots!” On February 18, 1988 Dad got the final costs of a “face lift.” The cost for the “lifting,” and “tucking,” of all unwanted, sagging skin on his neck, brow, eyes, and cheeks was $7200.00. He evidently got a discount (normal for Dad) because to do just the brow lift and both eye lids were $4400.00, and to just do the face and neck-lift were $4400.00. The before and after are pictured here (the after is the small picture).

Dad always had a great smile, and always enjoyed hugging. He was a happy guy… confident in God’s grace and salvation… Yet his self image wasn’t always that great he said. When things began sagging, as things do with old age… he finally decided to do something about it. He got the names of the nurses and doctors who would be working on him, got the costs, and made the plan to take the time off needed for surgery and recovery, March 1- April 7, 1988. Mom and Dad made the journey to Bearwood Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Ctr in Anderson, SC… and got it done. He was very satisfied with the results…

Sometimes we just need to do something with our face. “It is said that Abraham Lincoln, when he was President of the U.S., was advised to include a certain man in his cabinet. When he refused he was asked why he would not accept him. “I don’t like his face,” the President replied. “But the poor man isn’t responsible for his face,” responded his advocate. “Every man over forty is responsible for his face” countered Lincoln” (Resource, July/August, 1960).

Not everyone has the money for a face-lift. Face-lifts are not always the answer to a person who has more scars on the inside than on the outside. There is a cheap face lift however that all can put into practice… smile.

Dad quoted a little poem…
“I know my face ain’t no star,
But I don’t mind it, for I’m behind it,
The one’s in front get the jar.” (Author unknown)

Sin takes away the smile and joy of life. King David experienced a terrible time in his life where he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and looked at the wrong woman too long. 2 Samuel 11-12 records the story if you wish to read. Everyone knows he committed adultery physically with her and had her husband murdered on the “front line,” to try and cover it up… Few people pay attention to the fact that this took place in his heart before it took place physically.

Jesus said, 27 “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Then he follows this with talking about cutting out an eye if it is going to cause one to get to hell. The idea of course is controlling OUR THOUGHT PROCESS. According to Jesus, there is not much difference in adultery dreamed of and adultery done. With David, with all whose face reflect the pain of a life of sin… much could have been avoided with just controlling the THOUGHTS, for it begins and takes place in the heart first!

Then came Nathan, and with his little parable, he cut to the heart of David, who when convicted… humbled himself and asked for forgiveness… He received it. Grace and forgiveness provided a “face-lift” for David, bringing back the “joy of his salvation.”

There is just so much a face-lift can do… It will not give a person a new heart. It may take years off ones looks, but it won’t add joy to a sinful, broken heart… ONLY GOD’S GRACE CAN DO THAT. Take a moment to read Psalm 51 (David’s broken heart and contrite plea for forgiveness.) Then read Psalm 32 (David rejoices in forgiveness.)

Today, we have a hard time with grace and forgiveness… and the older brother did too. Reading Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal (wasteful son), I get the feeling the the older brother did not want the father to extend grace and forgiveness to the younger brother. “It’s just NOT FAIR!” “He needs to PAY FOR WHAT HE DID!” “He not only SPENT AND ENJOYED SPENDING his inheritance… but now HE GETS TO COME HOME AND get a RING, A ROBE, AND SHOES, AND (this just cooked his bacon) A FATTENED CALF FOR A FEAST!”

David did pay with a lifetime of heartache. The prodigal… I imagine he did do a bit of kicking himself and wishing he never did what he did. The point is, that grace and forgiveness cannot be earned. There’s not enough goodness in good works to pay the price of “pay-back” for sins done. Grace is bigger than has been portrayed by many pulpits… It cost $7200.00 for Dad to get his face lift… and he had to pay for it. IT COST JESUS paid for OURS with his life on the cross. The results of what doctors can do are truly marvelous.

The results of what Jesus can do in a person’s life is even more remarkable, because it is a change that gets better with time. Physically, the skin will sag again with time. Spiritually, grace gives a song to the lips, a smile to the face, and hope to the heart that cannot be taken away.

 

Grow in grace! Let Jesus offer of GRACE be heard in our pulpits!

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“Redeemed” – “A Personal Note From Dad”

This article is part 14 of 14 in the series Redeemed

My Dear Friend,
This book would be incomplete without this personal note. I wanted to close it with a few
thoughts from my heart to yours.

Right now, HEAVEN AND HELL seem a long way off. Even the word “tomorrow” is not too realistic. We live TODAY. When I was a young minister, I brought a coffin (a real coffin) into the church building for a Sunday morning service. It was a TERRIFIC ILLUSTRATION. It was empty and it represented many truths.

1. IT ILLUSTRATED LIFE, for the coffin, you and I will be in, IS EMPTY.

2. IT REPRESENTED SALVATION, for the “empty coffin” still offers us the invitation of Christ. “Behold I stand at the door and knock. Open the door and I will come in and abide with you” (Revelation 3:20).

3. IT PORTRAYS TIME, remaining. Time to say “YES”! Time for the fallen Christian to repent (Revelation 3:14-20). Time yet to have your sins washed away! (Acts 22:16).
“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The (your) coffin is still empty, and Judgment is not yet. When will that day be? When will the coffin be filled? TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION – YOUR SALVATION. Say “Yes” to God! Crown Jesus as your Lord. Judgment will be no more, for heaven will be your home.

Love you,
(Signed)
Jack ExumJack and Ann Exum

Jack and Ann Exum

 

 

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Thirteen – “Gehenna” “The Final Place Of The Wicked”

This article is part 13 of 14 in the series Redeemed

“GEHENNA” is a Greek word which is all but GOOD! I don’t like it! I don’t like reading about it! I encourage all to avoid it (and everyone can avoid it by God’s grace). If heaven is a real place, so is hell. If heaven is NOT real, then one cannot believe in Hell. You can’t have one and not the other.

“Gehenna” came from the name of a valley outside Jerusalem, owned by Hinnom (Hebrew). Eventually this valley became a sewage dumping place (or ‘land fill’) for city refuse. It burned day and night, worms and maggots devoured the rotting flesh of animals and even the poor and wretched of mankind.

Jesus chose to use this word to describe the “place” for the Devil and his angels. He used the word 12 times and included those who hate their brother (Matthew 5:22). Jesus condemned the city of Capernaum and said, “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades (Hell)(KJV). For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day” (Matthew 11:23).

Jesus also said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Matthew 18:8-9).

Jesus spoke of this place as a place where the worms do not die, and fire does not go out. It is a place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Hell is a place AWAY from the presence of God! Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5).

Why on earth would anyone joke about “HELL.” It’s no joke, it’s not funny, and you do not want to go there… not even for a “minute.” Jesus offers joy, peace, forgiveness, grace, love, blessings, as well as HEAVEN…. Why be lost? You don’t need to be lost…

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