Sunday, August 13, 2017

Table of Contents




A Gentle God
Waiting For Sunrise
Mother's Day
All You Need Is Love - 5/11/2016
What is Truth?
Newborns
Serenity
Tornado Remembered
Opening Day
Urethane Stains
Unselfish Christianity
Now!
The Missouri River
He's Alive - 3/23/2016
Second Death
My Little Rambler
Theology in the Raw
Kermit the Snake
The Blustery Day - 3/02/16
Atticus Finch - 2/24/16
Was Jonah Right?
Algebra Concepts - 2/17/16
Grandkids - 2/10/16
George the Sea Lion - 2/03/16
I'm Sorry - 1/27/16
Open My Eyes - 1/20/16
Tornado Warnings - 1/13/16
Love = God
One Little Candle - 1/07/16
Do You Know?
Confess, Ask, Believe, Receive
A Time For Rest
Lessons From Little League
Pharisees
Don't Be Dissapointed
Born Again
Little Children
I'm Sorry
Rejoice With Me
He's Alive
I Think I Can
You Did It To Me
You Did It To Me - Part 2
The Golden Rule
Nicolas N. Scott Eulogy
Grace Happens all Around Us
Overflowing Grace
Passion
Bears
Stranded
A Picture of God
Plato's Soul
Unforgivable
How Much Are You Worth?
Failure To Thrive
Voyage to Tarshish
Tolerance
Jump
Liberty
Power
Memorial
Criticize or Encourage
The First Lie
Reunion
Reflections On Our Flooding
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
My Jewels
Marching To Zion
Deep Water
The Seventh- Day Adventist Church
Your GPS
Back Roads
Road Of Death
What Did Jesus Do?
Who Do You Think You Are
Let Them Eat Cake
Belief Or Trust
Speeding Tickets
Dirty Hands
Even Our Adversaries
Love And Hate 
The Roman Road
All You Need Is Love
Shepherds
Thanksgiving Proclamations
I Can't Get No Satisfaction
For Want of a Nail
Walking With Papa
Identity Theft
Christmas Gifts
Thank God for Grace
The Verdict
Higher and Higher
Let Me Count the Ways
Body Armor
Orphans
Your Kindness
The Bridegroom
Unforgiven
Character Assasination
Like a Child
God's Will
Walking a Tightrope
Lasik
The List
Jesus Wept
Mowing
What a Friend
Spice
Are You Experienced?
Comfort Zone
Old Friends
My Resolution
Imagination
The Wisdom of Teeth
Taste and See
The Legend of the Candy Cane
Doom and Gloom
Any Road
Five Kernels of Corn
A Little Thanksgiving History
Justice Mercy Grace
The Hammered Dulcimer
Halloween Grace
Moses
Stop to Think
The Best Gift
Sludge
Rebekah's First Steps
Why?
What Matters Most

Speaking Out Against Hate


As I read the news stories about a man who plowed his car into a crowd of people objecting to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, I wondered how people could be filled with so much hate. It seems that the whole world is boiling over with hatred. Here in the U.S. hatred seems to be part of our everyday life. During this past election season, there was so much hate shown by both sides against those they disagree with. My social media feeds continue to be filled with hate filled articles and posts.

I recently read the following written by Nelson Mandela. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite”. How can we be taught to love? In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus tells us, “you have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven”.

As Christians, we say that we follow the teachings of Jesus, but we all too often set this teaching aside. Jesus loves you, and as a Christian you love Him. You understand that He loves you not because you are worthy, but because He is love and you are so helpless in your sinful condition. I hope that you know his love first hand, from experience. So from this perspective, how would anyone understand the motivation of hate? How could a Christian think of Jesus as being a hater of His own helpless children? How could Jesus hate His own children He died to woo and save?

People who hate are not cut from the cloth of God’s family. God’s children have been rescued from, transformed from the anger of our own weakness. Christ loves us because we are His children – whether we obey or not. When we love Him, then He can give us the ability to obey and to love others as He loves us. If we hate others, even our enemies, we are in need of God’s grace and transformation. How can we hate those who Jesus gave his life for.

John 3:16,17 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

But as a Christian, shouldn’t I hate evil? In Amos 5:15 the Bible tells us to, “Hate evil, love good”. I like the way that Mark Lowry talks about this issue. “Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about love the sinner, hate your own sin! I don’t have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you! Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your sin, I’ll hate my sin, and let’s just love each other." When we love Jesus, then He can give us the ability to obey and to love others as He loves us. It is God’s grace that saves us from sin. Grace not only forgives our past sin, but it also frees us from the power of sin, and the power of hate, so that we can be obedient to the God of love.

In 1 John 4:20,21 the Bible plainly tells us, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." All Christians need to publically distance themselves from hate. Unfortunately, too often it is professed Christians who are showing hatred for others. My prayer is that every Christian in America will speak out against hate because God is love.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Press Gangs

An Arkie's Faith column from the August 9, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


While I was doing genealogy research, I came across an interesting story from many years ago. When I was in school, I learned that one of the causes of the War of 1812 was that Americans were outraged by the British Royal Navy’s practice of impressment, or removing seamen from U.S. vessels and forcing them to serve in the British Navy. Impressing American sailors became a common practice, with an estimated 15,000 American sailors impressed into the British Royal Navy in the years leading up to 1812.

Although I knew about the impressment of American sailors, I was not aware of the impressment of sailors from the Maritime Provinces in Canada. The Crown claimed a permanent right to seize men of seafaring experience for the Royal Navy. The men pressed into service were usually sailors in the merchant fleets, but would often be ordinary apprentices and laborers.

The Royal Navy used press gangs to force men into service. Press gangs operated in British North America with the legal backing of the British Parliament. A commissioned officer would lead the press gang with ten or so sailors under his command. A ship would come to a seaport, and if they needed men, the press gang would go ashore and force men to serve on the ship.

As you can imagine, these press gangs were extremely unpopular. They took men from their families by force and left many cities with a diminished work force. The use of press gangs sparked resistance, riots, and political turmoil in seaports such as Halifax, St. John's, and Quebec City. In spite of its unpopularity, the Royal Navy increased the use of press gangs in coastal areas of British North America. In response, sailors and residents fought back with a range of tactics. They sometimes reacted violently.

The story that I uncovered happened in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1794. In October of that year, the warship Boston was ready to set sail from St. John’s after taking on supplies for a long voyage. The Boston was short eighteen men, so Lieutenant Richard Lawry led a press gang ashore to impress men into service. Lieutenant Lawry and several other sailors were escorting two recently impressed sailors when a mob attacked them.

According to reports from that time, the crowd behaving in a “riotous and tumultuous manner,” liberated the two pressed sailors and then beat “Lieutenant Lawry in so unmerciful a manner that he died the next morning of the wounds he had received in this fray.” Lawry’s murder was the only large-scale press gang disturbance in Newfoundland’s history and is considered one of the most serious crimes ever committed in Newfoundland. The incident brought press gangs into the spotlight, and they were used much less after the murder of Lieutenant Lawry. The last use of press gangs in Newfoundland was in 1815.

I’m glad that I don’t live in a place and time where it is legal to kidnap people and force them to work on a ship. The United States has other ways to keep its military forces properly manned. I was in high school during the Vietnam War. The military used the draft to keep the armed forces at full strength.

In 1969, President Nixon ordered a lottery system for selecting men to be drafted. I remember the tension that all of us boys felt when the lottery dates were announced. The draft was ended on Jan. 27, 1973, just a little more than a year before I turned eighteen. The relief that I felt was immense. Because I have experienced the possibility of being drafted, I have empathy for those who feared the press gangs of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Now, the United States operates under an all-volunteer armed forces policy. The military relies on recruiters to find men and women interested in the military and by explaining the benefits of military service, entice them to join.

God doesn’t use a draft to get people to serve Him, and He doesn’t use press gangs. God created us to be in a mutually loving relationship with Him. He doesn’t force us into a relationship, but He gives us the free choice to decide for ourselves to love and serve Him or not.

God says, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT) God wants to draw us to Himself with loving kindness. He pursues us and tries to win us over with His goodness, His mercy, and His blessings. When we reject God through disobedience and ask Him to leave us alone in our sin, God does not force us to change. He will pursue us, but when we ask Him to leave us alone through our disobedience or our direct requests, He does what we ask.

God doesn’t force His love on us, and He does not force us to love Him. He doesn’t use press gangs or the draft to obtain followers. God draws and woos us through His kindness, to win our affection. Since God wants to have a genuine loving relationship with us, He gives us the freedom of choice to love Him or not.

Gentle Reader, God will never force you to serve Him, but He wants a relationship with you. He loves you, and He longs for you to love Him in return. “We love Him because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (KJV) David understood this when he wrote in Psalms 27:8 (NLT)  “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” I hope that you will respond to God’s love for you and volunteer to join His forces. God is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Identity Crisis


Who am I? I can pull out my driver's license, social security card, passport, a birth certificate, credit cards, and they all prove to you that I am Richard Lawry born in Madison, Tennessee. There is no one else in the entire world who can be me.

Have you ever Googled yourself to see what comes up in an internet search of your name? I did. I found an actor named Richard Lawry who appeared on four different tv shows in the 1990’s. I found out that in 2014, Richard Lawry passed away in a motorcycle accident. Richard Lawry is the chairman of EGL, a merchant banking firm focused on merger and acquisition advisory services and providing capital to early and growth stage businesses.

There is also a Richard Lawry who was a naval compass electrician during WWII and then was an insurance adjuster for thirty years. Richard Lawry is the vicar at Norbury Church near Manchester, England. And I found records that show that in 1797, Richard Lawry was born in Cornwall, England.

One of the more interesting stories that I found was the 1794 murder of Lieutenant Richard Lawry in Newfoundland. Lieutenant Lawry oversaw a press gang. The purpose of a press gang was to enlist men forcibly into service in the navy.

When I was in school, I learned that one of the causes of the War of 1812 was that Americans were outraged by the British Royal Navy’s practice of impressment, or removing seamen from U.S. vessels and forcing them to serve in the British Navy. Impressing American sailors became a common practice, with an estimated 15,000 American sailors impressed into the British Royal Navy in the years leading up to 1812.

Although I knew about the impressment of American sailors, I was not aware of the impressment of sailors from the Maritime Provinces in Canada. The Crown claimed a permanent right to seize men of seafaring experience for the Royal Navy. The men pressed into service were usually sailors in the merchant fleets, but would often be ordinary apprentices and laborers.

The Royal Navy used press gangs to force men into service. Press gangs operated in British North America with the legal backing of the British Parliament. A commissioned officer would lead the press gang with ten or so sailors under his command. A ship would come to a seaport, and if they needed men, the press gang would go ashore and force men to serve on the ship.

As you can imagine, these press gangs were extremely unpopular. They took men from their families by force and left many cities with a diminished work force. The use of press gangs sparked resistance, riots, and political turmoil in seaports such as Halifax, St. John's, and Quebec City. In spite of its unpopularity, the Royal Navy increased the use of press gangs in coastal areas of British North America. In response, sailors and residents fought back with a range of tactics. They sometimes reacted violently.

The murder of Lieutenant Richard Lawry happened in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1794. In October of that year, the warship Boston was ready to set sail from St. John’s after taking on supplies for a long voyage. The Boston was short eighteen men, so Lieutenant Richard Lawry led a press gang ashore to impress men into service. Lieutenant Lawry and several other sailors were escorting two recently impressed sailors when a mob attacked them.

According to reports from that time, the crowd behaving in a “riotous and tumultuous manner,” liberated the two pressed sailors and then beat “Lieutenant Lawry in so unmerciful a manner that he died the next morning of the wounds he had received in this fray.” Lawry’s murder was the only large-scale press gang disturbance in Newfoundland’s history and is considered one of the most serious crimes ever committed in Newfoundland. The incident brought press gangs into the spotlight, and they were used much less after the murder of Lieutenant Lawry. The last use of press gangs in Newfoundland was in 1815.

I had to stop Googling myself because I had already spent several hours just searching the internet for Richard Lawry.

I’m sure you have heard of a crime that is now quite common: identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The FTC estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make or until a debt collector contacts you.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend thousands of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

A few years ago I read in the news a bizarre identity theft story. Jakadrien Turner ran away from home in the fall of 2010 when she was just 14. She left home because of the stress caused by her parents' divorce and her grandfather's death. Jakadrien made her way to Houston, where she was soon arrested by police for shoplifting a white shirt, black vest, and jeans.

That's when things took a bizarre turn. Jakadrien gave the police a false name, and her new alias just happened to match up with the name of a 22-year-old Colombian citizen who had been in the United States illegally. To make matters worse, the Colombian national had a warrant out for her arrest.
Authorities believed Jakadrien’s story because she maintained her false identity throughout the process. They handed her over to an immigration judge, who ordered her removed from the country. "At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false," the agency says.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then deported Jakadrien in April 2011.  After the girl had gone missing, the family tracked her to Houston. They tried to get help from authorities, but no one would listen to them. After Jakadrien had been deported, she was given a work card in Colombia and released onto the streets.

Her grandmother, Lorene Turner, had been looking on her computer every night for clues to her granddaughter's location and was cooperating with Dallas police as she carried out her search.  She spent months monitoring Facebook postings she believed to be her granddaughters that led her to think that Jakadrien was in Columbia.

When the story was reported in the U.S. media, The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare confirmed that Turner was in its custody. The institute said that Colombian authorities learned that this female might be a 15-year-old American citizen, after which she was placed in a protection program there.

After a joint investigation by U.S. and Columbian authorities, Jakadrien Turner arrived back in Texas, eight months after she was mistakenly deported to Colombia. As sad and disturbing as this story is, Jakadrien brought these problems upon herself by using a stolen identity.

Now I’m sure that you or I would never think of being identity thieves. A person’s identity is the most important thing that they own. I want to take a few minutes and talk about your spiritual identity
How does the Bible identify you?  2 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)  “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” You are a child of God. Someone wants to steal your identity. Can our spiritual identity be stolen? How do we protect our identity?

Revelation 13:16 (NKJV)  “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.” What do we call this mark? We refer to it as the mark of the beast. It sounds like someone wants to steal our identity.

Satan doesn’t like your identity as a child of God, and he wants to mark you as his. He is not stupid. He knows that you believe that God has asked you to keep the Ten Commandments. He will have to try something different with you.

There is a clue about how Satan will operate in Revelation 13:17 (NKJV). “No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

As Christians, we always focus on the mark but did you listen to the or. One who has the mark or the name of the beast.  How would we end up with the name of the beast?

I want to spend the next few minutes investigating how we might end up with the name of the beast. Let’s start in Exodus 34:4-6 (NKJV). “So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone. Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”

I want you to notice that God equated his name with character traits. Satan doesn’t want you to have the name of God. He wants to give you his name. That is the name of the beast. He wants you to take on his character traits.  Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV) “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

If your name equals your character traits, then this is the name of Satan and the name of the beast. I take great comfort in the fact that some of these things I have absolutely no problem with. Unfortunately, I don’t have to have all of these traits to take on the name of the beast. Any of them will do.

Let’s go back to Revelation 13:16 (NKJV)  “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.” The beast wants a mark in our hand or our forehead.

What does God want in our hand and forehead?  Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (NIV)  “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

God wants us to keep his words in our hands and on our forehead. Satan wants us to have his mark in our hands and on our forehead. Satan knows that as a Bible student and fully aware Christian, you won’t go for his mark, so he will be just as happy for you to have his name.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV) says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Satan knows that he might not be able to get you with the Mark of the Beast, so he devised a new plan. He won’t give you the mark; he will give you his name. Satan is happy with giving you just a part of his name. You don’t have to be a Satan worshipper to have his name. You just need to have a few of his characteristics.

In 1 Kings 3:16-27 (NLT) we find this story. “ Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”

Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.

Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”

Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!” Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”

The two women in this story can represent God and Satan. Like the one mother whose child had died, Satan is happy just to have a piece of you. As long as he has a piece of you, he knows that God can’t allow you in his kingdom. God, on the other hand, wants all of you. Matthew 22:37 (NKJV) “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”

Satan says I don’t care if you go to church. I don’t care what day you go to church. I don’t care what you eat or if you pay tithe. I don’t care what your doctrinal beliefs are. As long as I can have a piece of you, it’s fine with me. If you have just a bit of my character, my name, I don’t care what else you call yourself. Christian, Child of God. I just don’t care as long as it is hyphenated with my name.

God doesn’t want hyphenated Christians. In the commandments, he tells us, “Don’t take my name in vain.” He doesn’t want us to be an identity thief.

Alexander the Great was visiting one of his camps. One of his generals had a soldier who was difficult to deal with, so he decided to delay deciding on the punishment until Alexander could deal with the situation. The soldier was sent to Alexander’s tent. The soldier is scared to death. He knew he was in serious trouble if the great Alexander was to deal with him. When the soldier comes before Alexander, the great general and king bellows, “young man what is your name!” The frightened young soldiers says haltingly; it’s Alexander sir. Alexander the great flew into a rage. He asked again, “what is your name?” It’s Alexander sir. That’s not your name. You tell me your real name right now. My name is Alexander sir. Alexander the Great answered, “I just have one thing to say to you.  Either you change your behavior, or you change your name.”

Change your behavior or change your name. God wants people with his whole name, not hyphenated. Not having a form of godliness but denying the power of God. God wants people with his name. God wants people with his character. Galatians 5:22,23 (NKJV) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Don’t be like Jakadrian who stole the identity of someone and ended up being deported. You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. You are a child of the king of the universe. With an identity like that, why would you want to be an identity thief?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Loving Maggie

An Arkie's Faith column from the August 2, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


Last week we had a special house guest. Her name is Maggie, and she is a sweet girl with long beautiful hair. Although we haven’t known her for very long, we have become very close. She enjoyed her stay here very much. I don’t know when we have had a more pleasant house guest.

Every day when I would get home from work, Maggie would look at me with her big beautiful eyes as if to say, “I have missed you so much.” All evening Maggie wanted our attention. Her favorite place to be was on my lap. Maggie was well mannered and obedient. She has a way about her that makes you feel special.

When I would come downstairs in the morning, Maggie would be there prancing around wagging her tail and waiting to be let outside. If she strayed to the edge of the yard, all I would have to do was say “Maggie,” and she would come right back. One morning Maggie spotted a squirrel and started to chase it, but with one word she abandoned the chase and came back to me. She was very obedient and eager to please.

Every moment Maggie was awake she wanted to be with us; she wanted us to pay attention to her. Although she is a border collie and a fairly large dog, she loves to be on your lap. She not only wants to sit on your lap, but she wants to lay back and if it were possible to melt into you. As much as she wanted to be with us, when it was time to go to bed she would get in her kennel without being forced. She sleeps in a large wire kennel and when she is told to go to her room, she immediately goes into her kennel.

Over the years I have known many dogs, but Maggie is the most loving, devoted, and obedient dog I have been around. It is hard to describe just how much Maggie loves you and wants to please and obey you. As I was reading my Bible, I came across a verse that I thought described Maggie. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV) Maggie loves with all her heart, with all her soul, and with all her strength. And in John 14:15 (NKJV) Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Maggie was eager to please us by obeying our commands, whether it was to go into her kennel or stop chasing a squirrel.

I think that Maggie is a good object lesson on the kind of relationship God wants with us. He doesn’t want obedience that comes from fear; He wants obedience that comes from love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18 (NKJV) Do we have that kind of relationship with God?

Just like Maggie puts every part of her existence into loving her people, God wants a total relationship with us. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.

In the Bible, the heart is representative of the seat of our emotions. Although we know that thoughts and emotions take place in our brains, we still use the concept of the heart as the seat of emotions. When we send a text to someone we love, we might add a heart emoji. When we are committed to someone we say, I gave them my heart. If that relationship ends, we say we have a broken heart. God wants us to be emotionally committed to Him. He doesn’t just want us to have a dry, formal knowledge about Him; He wants us to love Him with all of our heart.

God wants us to love him with all of our soul. In the Bible, the “soul” refers to one’s whole being as a living person. For example, Genesis 2:7 tell us that “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (KJV) In the New King James Version and almost every other English version Genesis 2:7 reads, “and man became a living being.” God wants us to love Him with every part of our life.

We are to love God with everything that we are. Both the heart and soul have to do with the very center of our lives as living human beings. We are to commit everything to God and bring everything under His control, giving ourselves to Him entirely for the rest of our lives. This includes our desires, our feelings, our thoughts, our affections, our time, our money, our plans, our purpose and our goals.

To love God with all our strength means we are to love Him one hundred percent. It means that we are to not only love Him emotionally, but we are to show our love by our actions. James 1:22  (NIV) says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Loving God with all our strength is to love with our resources, our abilities and our time. It is love in action.

But God doesn’t ask us to produce this love for Him out of thin air. The Bible says that “we love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (KJV) And that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV) When we become aware of how much God loves us, our natural response should be to love him back with all our heart, soul, and strength.

Gentle Reader, Do you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength? In John 14:15 (NKJV) Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Let’s resolve to be as devoted as Maggie; to love Jesus with our entire being, keep His commandments, and want to spend time with Him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Playing With Slime

An Arkie's Faith column from the July 26, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


This summer, our granddaughters have been spending time with us. Each one gets to spend a week at Grandma’s house. They like the extra attention that comes from being the only grandchild at Grandma’s. My nine-year-old middle child granddaughter was the last visitor to Camp Grandma. While she was here, one of her favorite activities was making slime with Grandma.

Every night of the week she made slime. She made plain slime, colored slime, glitter slime and fluffy slime. She enjoyed making the slime and playing with it after it was made. Grandma helped her find recipes for slime on the internet and Papa was sent to the store to buy the ingredients. Some recipes worked better than others.

Her favorite recipe used one bottle of Elmer’s Clear School Glue with ½ tablespoon of baking soda mixed in and then one tablespoon of contact lens solution added. To this basic recipe, she would add food coloring and glitter to make different varieties of slime.

She isn’t the only kid that likes making slime. Slime is everywhere. Kids around the world are a part of this fad. Whether they live in South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand or just about anywhere in the world, the slime craze has spread like wildfire through social media.

Many stores can’t keep the glue needed to making slime in stock. There are many recipes and video tutorials for making slime on the internet. Instagram alone lists more than 2 million posts with the hashtag #slime. The slime mania has led to a spike in sales of Elmer’s School Glue. Caitlin Watkins, a spokeswoman for Elmer’s Glue, said the company had seen a recent surge in liquid glue sales “due in large part to slime mania.” The firm plans to increase production of Elmer's White School Glue, the most popular glue for making slime.

According to Wal-Mart spokesperson Michelle Malashock; “Walmart has seen a rise in glue sales, and we are rolling out a plan to respond to the increase to make sure kids and parents can find the glue they need to have fun with the latest crafting trend.”

I wondered what was so intriguing about this squishy, oozing, not quite solid, not quite liquid substance. Why had this become a worldwide fad? I asked my granddaughter why she liked making and playing with slime. I told her that it was a disgusting substance with no point or purpose. She said, “but Papa, it’s fun.”

I think that one of the things about slime that is so interesting to kids is that it seems like something they shouldn’t be playing with. It seems like something that would ruin your clothes or stain your hands, but you can squish your fingers through the slime, and none of it gets on you. It has the feeling of playing with something that is forbidden.

In our Christian experience, we often go looking for slime. We want to play with things that are forbidden to us. We want to see how close we can come to the edge of what God has forbidden. We want to see if we can enjoy the pleasures of Satan without it sticking to our hands and staining our clothes.

In James 1:14,15 (NET) the Bible shows us what happens when we desire to play with Satan’s slime. “But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. James 1:14,15 (NET)

How often do we allow ourselves to play with sin? How often do we tell ourselves that we’re justified in our behavior? We tell ourselves that the slime is fun to play with and it doesn't have any lasting consequences, but Jesus tells us that there are consequences. In the parable of the sower, He talks about Christians who allow their desires for other things to choke them out. “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  Mark 4:18,19 (NKJV)

Several years ago my wife and I were driving on a dirt road not long after a heavy rain. We came up to a tee in the road, and I asked my wife which way we should go. She didn’t answer me, so being the smart aleck that I am, I pulled straight through the intersection right up to the edge of the road. Because of the recent heavy rain, the edge of the road was very soft. As I pulled up to the edge of the road, my front tires sank deep into the mud. I put the car in reverse and tried to back up; the front wheels just sank deeper and deeper into the mud. We were stuck. I had to get the small jack out of the trunk of the car and with great difficulty jack the car up and find something to put under the tires so we could back out. By the time I finally got the car out of the mud, I was covered in mud myself.

Gentle Reader, when it comes to our Christian experience, God doesn’t want us to be playing in the slime. He doesn’t want us to get close to the mud. But if we do, He will rescue us from the mud, mire, and slime of sin. Psalms 40:2 (NIV) says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” I’m thankful that God has set my feet on a rock and given me a firm place to stand. I want to stay away from the mud, mire, and slime. How about you?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Passionate Christians


One of my favorite places to visit is Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Over the years we have visited there many times. Eureka Springs was founded in 1879. Judge J.B. Saunders claimed that his crippling disease was cured by the spring waters. Saunders started promoting Eureka Springs to friends and family members across the State and created a boom town. Within a period of little more than one year, the city grew from a rural village to a major city of 5,000 people. By 1889 it was the second largest city in Arkansas. With bath house cures falling out of favor, and the depression that hit the nation being particularly bad in Arkansas, Eureka Springs fell into decline during the 30's.

With the end of World War II, the era of the family car trip began. Businesses and services moved to the highway, rustic tourist courts and air-conditioned motels were built alongside diners and gift shops. Sights that had been horseback adventure were now attractions to the motoring tourist. The motoring public could turn-off Hwy 62 down 62B into the valley, follow the loop through the historic little Victorian city, and come back out on the highway.

When controversial far-right politician Gerald Smith retired in the 1960s, he and his wife bought a historic house in Eureka Springs and made the city one of their homes. He imagined building a magnificent statue of Christ, high above the city. He bought land east of the historic downtown and made plans to build the statue. He raised more than one million dollars from his friends and political contacts.

The Christ of the Ozarks statue was dedicated on June 25, 1966. The white mortar figure of Jesus Christ is seven stories tall and weighs almost two million pounds. The face itself is fifteen feet long, and the arms spread out sixty-five feet from fingertip to fingertip.

While he was inspecting the progress of the statue, Smith noticed the natural amphitheater nearby and imagined a passion-play-type outdoor drama, similar to the world-famous Passion Play in Germany. Construction began during the summer of 1967.

Bulldozers carved a 4,000-seat amphitheater out of the mountain, overlooking a 500-foot-wide “stage.” The set area depicts a street in Jerusalem and includes houses, stores, the temple, Pontius Pilate’s porch, King Herod’s porch, and a marketplace. Behind the city and up the hill are the Tomb, The Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, and the house in Emmaus.

The Great Passion Play is performed several times a week each year, beginning in May and ending in October. Over the years I have attended the Passion Play numerous times. Have you ever wondered why we refer to a play about the final week in the life of Jesus as a passion play? You may have never thought about it, but I have a curious mind, and I needed to know.

I looked the word passion up in the dictionary and found the following meanings.
1.  Extreme compelling emotion a) great anger or rage  b) enthusiasm or fondness  c) strong love or affection  d)  lust
2.  Object of any strong desire or fondness
3.  Any one of the emotions: hate, grief, love, fear, joy
4.  Suffering or agony
5.  The suffering of Jesus

I studied the origin of the word passion and found out that in approximately 1175 this word was adopted from Old French to Old English and meant the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.
The word passion once adopted from Old French only took fifty years to expand its range of meanings. By 1225, passion had not only extended to mean the sufferings of martyrs but was used as the word to describe suffering in general.

By the late 14th century passion extended its meaning to describe strong emotion or desire.  During the 16th-century, passion was used to describe a fit or outburst of anger or rage. Around this time, a literary composition that showed strong emotion was known as a “passion.”

The word passion picked up romantic connotations in the late Middle English period and was first used as meaning “romantic love” in 1588. By the mid 17th century passion had expanded its meaning again by describing anything that was pursued with very strong enthusiasm. The original meaning of passion, as the sufferings of Jesus, fell out of common usage in the 1600’s.

I studied the word passion in my bible concordance. In the King James Version, the word passion, meaning the suffering of Jesus, is found only in one verse. Acts 1:3 “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

The Greek word used in this verse is Pascho. It is used 41 times in the King James Version, translated 38 times as suffer, one time as vexed, one time as felt, and in Acts 1:3 as passion.

Do you know anyone who has a passion for something? Last year we had an election in this country, and I found that many people were very passionate about their candidate or political party.

I have met many Christians who are passionate about their beliefs. Often they focus on just a few hot button topics. I find it sad that I seldom meet someone who is passionate about Jesus and what He has done for us. And it is even rarer to find a Christian who is passionate about the sinners that Jesus came to seek and save.

My question for you today is, do you have a passion for Jesus? Are you passionate about the world, not willing that any should perish? What is at the top of the list of your priorities? Matt 22:35-40 (NKJV) “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Whatever you are passionate about is meaningless if you do not have a passion for God and for the well being of your neighbors.

Matt 23:23,24 (NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

Jesus didn’t say that we shouldn’t follow the fine points of the law, but He wants us to focus on the weightier matters. How do you think Jesus feels when we lose our passion for Him and replace it with a mechanical, formal orthodoxy.

Revelation 2:4 (NKJV) “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Does Jesus have something against you, have you lost your first love. Are you passionate about Jesus? When you have a passion, others know it.

Passion is more than mere formality and habit. It is enthusiasm; it is strong love and affection. To have a passionate church full of love for one another and love for everyone in our community, we must each one personally become passionate about Jesus.

I am writing to myself. In a small church sometimes we get so involved in the operation of the church we lose sight of the reason for church. When others look at me, do they see a passion for Jesus? When others look at you, do they see a passion for Jesus? When you are passionate about something, others know it. Many Christians are passionate about condemning others. What passions do others see in us?

2017 is recognized as the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. in 1517 Martin Luther wrote a document attacking the Medival Church’s corrupt practice of selling indulgences to absolve sin. His “95 Theses,” had two central beliefs. One - that the Bible is the central religious authority; and two - that salvation is only by faith in Jesus, and not by works. These ideas called Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone, and Solo Christo – through Christ alone, were the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

As Protestants, we want to make Jesus the center of our all, and we want all of Jesus to be at the center. For it is only Jesus – in His completeness – that is really worth having at our center. Jesus really must be our passion. We shouldn’t be passionate about just a small portion of the gospel of Jesus; we should be passionate about the completeness of Jesus. His life, His message, His sacrifice, His love.

What do I mean by this? When we focus our passion on certain aspects of the truth instead of the completeness of Jesus, we shortchange ourselves and those around us.

Paul addressed this concept in 1 Corinthians 2:1,2 (NLV) "Christian brothers, when I came to you, I did not preach the secrets of God with big sounding words or make it sound as if I were so wise. I made up my mind that while I was with you, I would speak of nothing except Jesus Christ and His death on the cross."

I find it interesting that Paul was determined to speak of nothing except Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Why did he focus on the death of Jesus on the cross? Why would he focus on something so tragic? Why not focus on the glory of the resurrection? Why not focus on his great teachings? Why did Paul focus on the cross? It was because everything changed when Jesus died on the cross. Before the cross, we were all dead. It was what Christ did on the cross that made all the difference. He paid the price for our sins when He died on that cross. And that was what Paul was focusing on. He refused to enter into philosophical discussions that would only produce strife and division. He simply preached the cross. He preached a crucified Savior that died for the sins of the world. He preached the good news of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus.

We say, "Christ alone!" in our doctrine of salvation, but in actual practice, much of our teaching and preaching is focused on our understanding of the proper works needed to be saved. When we believe that we understand what works are needed for salvation, we are passionate about telling others about those particular works. We are particularly passionate about pointing out the shortcomings of others.

Do you have passion today? What are you passionate about? Are you passionate about Jesus? He is passionate about you.

1 John 4:9-12 (NIV)  “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Jesus died as an atonement for your sins. He endured passion - that is suffering - for you. He is still passionate in his love for you. Are you passionate about Jesus or are your passions in other areas. Let’s decide today to be passionate about Jesus.

I want to close with Jude 1:21 (NJV)  “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”