Let the Sunshine In

I’ve lived in bleak wintry weather in the hills of W. Pennsylvania. I’ve shoveled snow two feet deep in Kirkwood Missouri. I’ve had my fill of strong winds and bitter cold blasts that go right to the bone. I’m thankful that at last I’ve been able to escape those things.

Sure, it can get cold here in South Carolina. In the winter the temperature can drop below freezing many nights—but the days are usually in the 40s and 50s. And then . . . right in the middle of winter . . . there can be one, two—or even a week—of 60-70 degree weather that suddenly descends like a blissful summer day. Plants are deceived into thinking its summer and begin to bloom—only to have their blossoms suddenly destroyed by a hard frost. Sweaters are once more exchanged for coats and jackets: suddenly, it’s winter once again!

But those few days of warmth! How they lighten the load. How they cheer the spirits. How they anticipate things soon to come in February, when the tulips appear and the jonquils grow tall. “Summer,” those days say, “is just around the corner; don’t give up hope!”

How foolish it would be to me to close the shutters when the winter sun shines brightly and warmly, saying, “This isn’t the way winter is supposed to be!” That’s the way that, conceivably, some weird, foolish person who was not raised up in the South might respond. But what foolishness it would be! Let the sun shine in! Enjoy the way it heats the home, driving down heating bills! Fling open a window and breathe the fresh balmy air that fills the house as it replaces that which has become stagnant within.

Let the news reports of blizzards in the North, Midwest, and Northwest have little effect on you. Let the bitter cold freezing TV reporters shivering while muffled from head to toe not squelch your enthusiasm for the relative warmth of your 50 or 60 degree day! Go on outside, work in the garden, get things ready for spring—that long period between winter and summer that corresponds to that equally long span of time and weather that divides summer from winter here in the South.

Summer in winter! Think of it. Unusual? Not at all. That’s the way that it is with God’s providence. Just when the trials that come seem no longer endurable, when cold shivers of doubt begin to run up your back, when frost covers your plans, when heavy clouds of despair gather in mass—just then God sends the warming truths of His Word to dispel the frost, melt the snow, crack the ice. Suddenly, like summer in winter, the sunlight of His truth shines through, breaking the clouds to bits, rescuing you from the desolation you feared looming on the horizon. No! You will not give up! How can you, when God Himself met your greatest need in Christ, surely He can meet even this one-no matter how like hardened ice it may seem.

God does not leave His children in the lurch! They are not “His chosen frozen!” He is always there—even behind the clouds. He is there in the sleets and snows of life; he is there on the frozen tundra. He is there ready to send the warmth of His loving care into your frigid existence. He is there!

That is the message of hope that Christian counselors have to bring to those who come weary from trudging through the drifts of sorrow and pain. Theirs is the work of opening the shutters to drive away the shudders! Are you interested in helping others View the sunlit warmth of God’s Word? Would you like to see the ice melt in the lives of those frozen with despair? Believer, you can do so. There are few things as exciting as seeing lives dreary and cold brighten in the heat of God’s glowing truth. Again and again, the joy of witnessing the melting of marriages grown cold, the thawing of frozen relationships, the softening of frosted souls, is the lot of biblical counselors. What joy to see the sun shine in!

We will be glad to help you enter into this joy. You too can be a counselor bringing the warmth of God’s blessing that alone drives away the chill of life’s winters. You can join those who regularly bring summer to winter as you help desperate believers experience God’s Son-shine!

Equivocation

I’d like to say a little more about equivocal language. It was interesting when in graduate school, I had to read some of Tillich’s writings. As you know, Tillich was nothing more than an atheist hiding under an ecclesiastical garb. His definition of God: “the ground of our being.”

In one class I was forced to read his massive two-volume theology. It was torture wading through pages of intricately convoluted thinking, paradox, and reams of equivocal language. It was written in a style that was nothing short of planned obfuscation. By many, therefore, it was thought profound! Their unspoken (also unthought-of?) presupposition being that whatever is obtuse is, therefore, profound.

Coincidentally during the same semester, in a preaching class, I was required to study Tillich’s sermons. So, I was able to compare and contrast the one with the other. I found the sermons lucid, as clear as the water on which you ride in a glass-bottomed boat in Florida. It is so clear that you can see fish swimming many feet below, who look as though they were close enough to grasp with your hand. There wasn’t anything in the sermons that I found difficult to understand (That’s one reason why I can confidently assert he was an atheist).

Now, I have one question to ask: Why did he write so differently in one place from the way he did in the other? He was capable of doing both.

I cannot read his heart, of course. But I may venture a thought or two about why a person might do such a thing. In one context he might want to be understood; in the other he might not want to be. Why would a person not want to be understood? Because he might not want people to know what he really believes. Also, because obscurity is often kin to supposed profundity. And, because an academic atmosphere in which obfuscation and equivocation is the style of the day almost demands such writing.

Christians ought not give in to such pressures that prohibit clarity and simplicity of writing on the basis that people maintain if plain, it must be puerile. We ought to write clearly, but trenchantly, since we have something to say that is authentically profound. It is, therefore, incumbent upon Christians to set a new standard for writing that is consistent with the simple, inspired writings of the apostles. In doing so, we may not always be considered worth reading by those academics who live and write by the standards of the time, but the common people will hear us gladly.

How Much Do You Weigh?

In describing how those whom the world calls important, and whose influence in deciding business matters, or even world affairs, is considered weighty, here is what God has to say about this:

Men are only a vapor, exalted men an illusion. On a balance scale, they go up; together, they weigh less than a vapor.   Psalm 62:9

Did you get it? You put them on one side of a scale and instead of weighing it down, the balance goes UP. They weigh nothing—or less—in God’s sight! So, why should Christians be concerned about sidling up next to them? They are as weightless as you or I!

What does your sign really say?

Sign4Several times each week on my way to and from church I pass a couple of church signs—you know, the sort on which you place letters to spell out words and sayings. I grit my teeth over and over again as I cannot help but notice that there is not only a failure on the part of these churches to communicate an intended message by these signs, but rather a howling success in communicating a wrong one.

One of these churches has the words TO GOD BE THE GLORY, emblazoned in letters two or three of which have either fallen out of line or out of sight. If it were true that this happened only one week to be corrected soon as discovered, it wouldn’t make any difference. But there they hang, perilously teetering from their perches week after week, calling attention to the fact that the members of the congregation seem not to really care about glorifying God after all—at least that’s what one might readily conclude from the apparent neglect that the disorder evidences. It would be better to have no sign at all than to have one that disgraces God rather than glorifies Him. That the intended message might not be one that connects with the average unbeliever is an additional point that I shall not discuss.

The sign in front of the church across the road is usually neatly cared for, and its message is changed with regularity. But it has a fault of a different sort. This sign is much larger than the first and can carry at least three fairly long lines of wording. And—you guessed it—the message that it sets forth is unreadable because, typically, all three lines are used. It’s unreadable because you’d have to stop your car on a busy street to be able to do so. It is cluttered with too many words to take in at a glance—or even two or three glances! I’ve tried.

So, what am I saying? Simply this: when it comes to using signs either do it rightly or don’t do it at all! Pastor, if you have one—take a look at yours.

p.s. This church has a new pastor and the sign has been fixed.

Xmas

Often, I hear people saying, “Why do you put an X in Xmas. X means an unknown quantity!” And so they berate those who write it. But, they don’t know what they are talking about. The Greek letter for “Chi” is quite similar to our X. Thus it is use as a shortening, abbreviation, of the first three letters of the title of Jesus, “Christos” which means Christ, of “The Anointed One.”

If people really want to complain, why don’t they object to the obviously Romanist term “mass” in the word “Christmas?”

But, again, there is little to object to if they do a little research on the origin of that word.

Effectiveness

“Why is it that every time I try to do something for the Lord, somebody causes me trouble? You’d think that the Lord would get them off my back so I could be more effective.”

So, to be effective, you have to have all opposition removed?

“Certainly would help.”

Do you think that Paul was effective?

“Sure was. Nobody more so!”

Did you ever read what he said about being effective?

“Not sure.”

Listen to this: “A wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose” (I Corinthians 16:9).

“Hmmmm. . . . “

Looks like opposition goes with the territory, doesn’t it?

“Guess so.”

The more effective one is in the Lord’s work, the more he can expect opposition. If you’re really doing something effective, as Paul said he was, then you should count on the evil one—or one of his henchmen—to oppose. Of course, we’re not talking about ineffective people causing trouble for themselves, you understand.

“Yeaaaah. Well, thanks.”

Welcome.

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Jay Adams Teaches—in Spanish!

Someone has recently posted this video on YouTube of Jay Adams teaching somewhere through an interpreter. If you speak Spanish (at least I think it is Spanish) I would love to know who posted this and where he was teaching . . . and what he was thinking when he got dressed that morning!

That Raised Hand!

In  Isaiah 5:25, we read that the Lord “raised His hand against them [His people] and struck them.”  Why? Because they “rejected” His “instruction” (v. 25) and, did so, because they “despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel” (v. 24). The results were nothing less than devastating: from head to foot she was beaten so severely that there was hardly a place left for further injury. Yet, even after such a punishment because of their turning from God’s Word, they still refused to repent (9: 13). So, God threatened them with more of the same: “His hand is still raised to strike” (9: 17, 21).

When  believers recognize the ways in which that same hand has beaten our nation in the recent past—tornadoes, floods, wars, financial loss, scarcity of jobs, foreclosures, etc., etc., it is hard for them to see anything else but that arm swinging again, inflicting even  more wounds! BAD—BAD ENOUGH! But look—the hand is raised to strike even again, and again, and—if necessary-again!

Should not a country that not merely neglects God’s Word, but often makes fun of it, suffer more?  If there is no concern for the Bible in the near future, who knows where will He strike next? Isn’t repentance essential?

If I Only Had a Brain

Having a Brain proves you have a Soul!

“How is that?”

Well, when researchers in Canada probed various part of the brain of some whose brains were exposed for operations, these probes caused certain “mechanical”actions–the arms raised, the foot kicked. But when the arm raised and the patient was told to put it down, he couldn’t even though he wanted to. There was a struggle–the other arm couldn’t pull the first, raised one, down. So, there was more than the brain at work: two forces were working against one another. Call it what you like, but I call the second force the soul.

I have a foot that kicks in the bed at night (restless leg syndrome, they call it). Try as I will, I can’t get it to stop—same thing going on. Think about it.

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Barbeque

Want to have a little fun? The next time you’re in the South–or meet a Southerner, say the word “Barbeque.” Then, push it a little farther and you’ll find out where he lives by the kind of barbeque he likes.

“Kind of barbeque? What do you mean by that? Isn’t there only one kind?”

To ask that question means that you’re not from the South–that’s for sure!

There are three kinds of barbeque”

  1. Tomato based
  2. Mustard based
  3. Vinegar based

I’m not going to tell you which is preferred in which area–that’s where you’ll have fun–figuring out who likes which and where he’s from.

All you have to do is drop one word and you can determine what a person’s theology is like. The word? “Predestination.”

Likewise, when you get him talking about it for a while it will come out whether he is a

  1. Calvinist
  2. Arminian
  3. Amaryldian

Again, I don’t intend to talk about which each means. But I will go on to say a word more about barbeques.

Down near a little town near Macon, Georgia is a little shack of a place called The Fresh Air Barbeque. The place is, as I say, nothing to look at. But you’ll find chauffeurs driving up to get some of the stuff to take home to ritzy employers. If you think that’s something, listen to this. There’s a barbeque place in Macon that has a sign that reads, THE BEST BARBEQUE THIS SIDE OF JACKSON. That little Fresh Air Barbeque is so good that they dare not advertise otherwise. I used to live near there and can testify to how good it is.

I can also testify to what the true view of predestination is. In this case it’s not a matter of preference; it’s a matter of truth. Can you?

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