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You just know that some things are going to happen sooner or later.
That’s the way it was with Michael Parfit, a writer for Smithsonian magazine. For a feature article on the mighty Mississippi River, Parfit rode in a twelve-foot rubber dinghy down the Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Parfit learned of the incredible power of this giant river. The Mississippi gathers its water from 41 percent of the continental U.S., catching water from Montana to New York. Half a trillion tons of water flow down the Mississippi every year, carrying downstream sixty-three thousand tons of soil a day.
A river this big is a threat to the surrounding countryside. That’s why engineers have built levees to pinch the mighty giant and keep it from flooding the farmland and towns nearby. The levees on the lower Mississippi stand, on average, twenty-five feet high and run 2,203 miles on both sides of the main river and its tributaries.
"As the wall was built over the years," writes Parfit, " people came to live under its protection. They tore down the forest and planted cotton, and the floodplain of the Mississippi became the expanse of farmland known as the Mississippi Delta."
More than eight million people live in the Delta. But at what risk? Parfit flew in a plane over the Mississippi Delta and saw plainly the river’s tracks on the land, where it once had flooded the delta.
"The levee…cages the giant, or appears to," writes Parfit. "And no one but birds and an occasional light-plane pilot notices the long sweep of the river’s indelible script. What the river has written in the mud again and again is simple: ’Someday soon.’ "
Someday soon will come another flood. That’s what Parfit warned in February of 1993. Someday soon will come another devastating flood like the ones in 1882, 1927, and 1973.
"People in this valley get a sense everything is totally controlled," one engineer told Parfit. "That’s a false sense of security. We haven’t seen anything yet in this valley as to what this river can do. We’re not in control of anything."
"The river," wrote Parfit in February 1993, "moves brown swift, unpredictable, enormous, always murmuring ’Someday soon…’"
In February 1993 when his article was published, Parfit could not have imagined how right he would be. Only months after the publication of the article, in the summer in 1993, came one of the worst floods of the history of the Mississippi.
God’s Word warns that someday soon, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Christ will return to the earth, bringing the terrible wrath of God on all who have not prepared their lives for His coming. Nothing can stop Him. The wise person gets ready.
SOURCE: Jack Voss, Crossroads Christian Center, Collinsville, OK. God’s Secret(A Study On The Book Of Acts).
Although Charles Wesley had been engaged in preaching the gospel with much diligence and earnestness, he did not know what it was to enjoy peace with God until he was in his thirtieth year. Being laid low by an alarming illness, and seeming as if he were going to die, a young Moravian named Peter Bohler, who was undergoing a course of preparation by him to go out as a missionary, asked him, "Do you hope to be saved?" Charles answered, "Yes."
"For what reason do you hope it?" "Because I have used my best endeavors to serve God," was his reply. The Moravian shook his head and said no more.
That sad, silent, significant shake of the head shattered all Charles Wesley's false foundation of salvation by endeavors. He was afterwards taught by Peter Bohler the way of the Lord more perfectly, and brought to see that by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ men are justified. And now in his sick-room, he was able to write for the first time in his life, "I now find myself at peace with God"; and it was on this occasion he composed that beautiful hymn, "O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise!"
Our hope likewise need only rest in the finished work of our remarkable Redeemer. Our righteousness is not about our righteousness. Our righteousness is the gift of the imputation, the transfer, of the righteousness of Christ credited, as it were, to our account. The debt that we couldn't pay, He paid.
(From Chris Surber's Sermon "Remarkable Redeemer")
I had a very animated professor at Bible college by the name of Dr. Emert. He taught us about the danger
of blaspheming God’s Son by claiming that He is anything less than God. He told how for some the earth
opened, for some fire fell from Heaven, and for some floods came. He told us that he had one response when
false cults come to proclaim their heresy. "I have just paid off my house and enjoy it very much. If you are going
to continue to spout evil doctrine that will anger the God of the universe, at least get off of my porch!
John 14:6 – “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
This is so hard for prideful people to accept.
Elaine Pagels (author of The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ) says she had an epiphany while reading the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas during graduate school, particularly this passage: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.” According to Pagels, “The strength of this saying is that it does not tell us what to believe but challenges us to discover what lies hidden within ourselves….” This Gnostic perspective essentially says that salvation is within ourselves, and that it is in a process of self-discovery that we find redemption.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a different perspective: “The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the Last Day. Our salvation is “external to us.” I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Ch...
We live in a strange community, where it is not uncommon to see bumper stickers that say things like, I am Light, or Due to circumstances within our control Armageddon has been cancelled. But the one that really gets me is the one that reads simply, I AM. Thank God, the I AM doesn’t drive a VW van. If the guy driving that van has numbered our days, we’re in trouble. Somehow I don’t think he was the one that hung the stars in space and sustains all things by his word. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
FALSE TEACHING: SINLESSNESS
The Apostle John wrote:
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."
Now I want to digress for a moment and address a false teaching that has arisen out of this issue. Some have taken passages like this, which say we don't have to sin, and have come up with the false doctrine known as "perfectionism".
"Perfectionism" is the false teaching that says Christians can reach a point of ultimate and unchanging sinlessness. From that point on in their lives they NEVER sin.
I know of at least one denomination that has made this a central teaching of their churches. And I know of at least 3 or 4 of our brotherhood's preachers who've taught this.
It ain't true.
It never was true.
It's built on a false understanding of Scripture.
It's a very appealing doctrine, but it can't stand up to real life application.
ILLUS: One of my preacher friends who taught this false doctrine invited me out to eat with him years ago. Now, I was there to eat. He was there to talk doctrine. But I knew I was in for a long theological debate when he asked me "Jeff do you believe that you can ever be sinless?"
Of course I knew what he was asking. And I knew WHY he was asking it. He wanted to enlist me in his cause.
I just wanted to eat.
I didn't want to get into an argument at the dinner table.
So I cut to the chase.
"Well Fred (his name wasn't Fred by the way) have you reached that point of sinlessness in your life?"
He thought about that for a moment and then quietly said "No, I haven't reached that point in my life."
"Well, Fred, do you know anyone else who's reached that point of sinlessness in THEIR lives?"
Again he gave it some thought and finally said "No" he didn't know of anyone who was sinless either.
"Well, I tell you what Fred, when you find someone who's reached that point in their lives, you come talk to me again about this and we'll discuss it."
That ended the discussion... and allowed me to finish my meal.
My friend was being honest with me.
A pure life where a person NEVER sins is a pipe dream.
No one manages it, and those who do drive themselves to distraction because they can't attain it.
But now, if we can't attain total sinlessness, if we can't reach a point in our lives when we never sin again... what did John mean by saying:
"I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."
Well, John meant that our aim in life should be to avoid sinning.
ILLUS: I have often had conversations with people who want to be baptized into Christ, but they're afraid that after becoming Christians, they'll mess up and sin again and it will all be for naught. This is a real stumbling block for many people.
Years ago, I came up with a way of helping people to understand what Christianity is all about. I say, "here's the deal. The more you walk with Jesus, the less you're going to sin."
And I ask them if they've ever skated? (yes, they'll say)
Did they ever "fall down"? (yeah a lot)
If they skated again today, would the fall down as much as they did to begin with? (no)
Then I talk about professional ice skaters.
Do they ever fall down?
Well, yeah, but a whole lot less than you or I would if we tried those stunts.
Why don't they fall down as much as we do?
Because they've spent more time on their skates than we have.
In fact, they've spent so much time on their skates that's it's almost like walking for them. But they still fall down -- once in a while.
John tells us he wrote his letter so we wouldn't sin.
The more we walk with Jesus in His light the less we're going to fall into dark behaviors.
But if we do sin... we have an advocate with the Father -- Jesus
You see, all this starts when we become Christians.
Paul writes in Romans 6:
"...don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- BECAUSE ANYONE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN. Romans 6:3-7
"A classic type, common to many Renaissance paintings is the ’student.’ A favored follower, a protege or disciple, is always portrayed as very youthful, long-haired and clean-shaven...Throughout the Renaissance, artists portray St. John in this fashion. He is the ’disciple Jesus loved’ ....Only a colossal fool would paint a heresy where the monks could study it day after day. While no evidence suggest that Leonardo held the church in contempt, proof abounds that he was no fool." (Elizabeth Lev, "The Real Leonardo")
When the spiritual leaders fail to lead people toward God and teach the people His way then people will break the faith they have with God. Breaking the faith is common in a society when the leadership breaks down and fails to do its job. Breaking the faith means the people of God walk away from God and his ways and follow after false and deceptive ways that lead to their demise. Breaking the faith means people no longer trust God nor His way and, therefore they substitute the right way for the wrong way. When people break the faith and quit trusting and following God’s path then an impact is made on their personal lives which in turn affects their family’s lives. One main thing that happens to people who walk away from the faith is that divorce enters into their family unit. This breaking of faith leads to a breaking up of many marriages. The result of families disintegrating and falling into the trap of divorce and sin leads to individual family members being hurt and devastated. Emotional wounds are caused in ...
He could have turned around
A 20-year-old man was arrested by the Omaha Police on the “suspicion of robbery and giving police false information,” which was one of many wrong turns for this young man. His first wrong turn was the desire to make some quick, easy money for whatever reason. His second wrong turn was to act on this impulse.
According to the newspaper1, the police reported, a 27-year-old Omaha woman stopped for gasoline at a convenience shop, early a week ago Thursday, when the young man walked up, grabbed her and tried to yank her purse away, which was wrapped around her arm. Of course he knocked her down, then took off running, heading northbound on 90th Street.
That was his third wrong turn, for he ran right pass the police precinct at 90th and Grant Streets, where two peace officers happened to be standing outside. The newspaper reported police spokesman Don Savage saying, "It’s nice when the suspects come to us. It makes our job a lot easier."
The two officers jumped into their cruiser and caught the suspect near 90th and Ohio Streets, where they arrested him. Then he made his last wrong turn in this situation when he lied to the police.
Obviously, his wrong turns, or poor decisions, made his situation poorer and his life more complicated.
This young fellow allowed his evil desire to drag him away to commit this misdemeanor, once he committed his crime the evil desire will probably result in jail time. If he doesn’t serve time in the Douglas County Correctional Center, at least many hours of community service and a hefty fine.
It’s unfortunate the young man didn’t follow the sensible advice of Psalm 34:14, which says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
He could have saved himself and his community a lot of grief by turning away from this wrong. If he decided to volunteer 1,000 hours of his free time to worthy community organizations and gladly paid taxes from the income of honest work, that would have been better. His community and he would have experienced prosperity and peace, which he originally was seeking deep down.
We can’t lord it over this fellow for who of us have not allowed our sinful desires to lead into wrong, which hurt us more than helped us, made us poorer rather than richer.
Life teaches us and the Bible says, “An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad” (Prov. 29:6). I’m sure he isn’t very happy now.
Maybe you’re in tough dilemma as you read this. In order to make your circumstances better, turn from wrong and do something good and right; seek a win-win solution to your problem. I’m confident you’ll be happier and life will be more peaceful.
Suspect Takes Wrong Turn
An Omaha man picked the wrong way to run Thursday after he knocked a woman down and stole her purse.
He ran right past the northwest precinct of the Omaha Police Department.
"It’s nice when the suspects come to us," said Officer Don Savage, a police spokesman. "It makes our job a lot easier."
According to reports, a 27-year-old Omaha woman stopped about 1:20 a.m. Thursday for gas at a convenience store on north 90th Street. The woman told police that she was pumping gas when a man walked up to her, grabbed her and tried to take her purse, which was wrapped around her arm.
The man yanked on the purse, knocking the woman to the ground. He took off on foot, heading northbound on 90th Street.
His escape route, however, took him past the police precinct at 90th and Grant Streets, where two police officers were standing outside. Savage said the officers responded immediately, jumping into their cruiser and chasing the man. He was caught near 90th and Ohio Streets.
A 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of robbery and giving police false information. (Source: “Suspect Takes Wrong Turn,” Omaha World-Herald Sat., 10.9.99, Sunrise ed., sec. Vol. 135, No. 4, Midlands, Region: pg. 33.)
There was once a pastor who decided he was going to do something different for a change, so instead of a sermon, he gave everyone two sheets of paper. On one sheet, the heading read, “THE PROBLEM IN THIS CHURCH IS …” and on the other sheet, the heading read, “WHAT THIS CHURCH NEEDS IS …” He had them fill them out and hand them in. The next Sunday, he gave the results. On the sheet that listed the PROBLEMS, such things were listed as: • Should not serve coffee in church • Should serve more coffee in church • Should have shorter sermons • Should have longer sermons • The music we have is terrible • It’s terrible we don’t have more music like what we have On the sheet with the heading of WHAT IS NEEDED, things were listed like: • Need to spend money on more chairs • We don’t need to spend any more money • Pitch all the songs and start over • We need a new preacher We can see the humor in that illustration, but there is something else we can see, too. We can see the unhappiness of those in the church. We can see the lack of unity as a body of Christians, and there is one more thing … we can see a church that has dropped the ball in its teachings, because nobody mentioned Jesus Christ. I would say the biggest problem that church had was that everybody was focused on what they wanted, and nobody was focused on what Jesus wanted. Too often, we are mainly concerned with what we want, and sometimes that is not healthy for the church. I am reminded of the little church that needed a pastor, but they were small and couldn’t afford to pay very much. The only one they could afford was a 74-year-old pastor. He and his wife moved into the very small and very old one bedroom, one bathroom parsonage next door and he began to ready himself for his first sermon. Come Sunday, he got up and spoke for exactly 30 minutes. Later that afternoon, the elders came by the parsonage and praised him with many praises, then asked him how everything was going. He told them the bathroom was too small and when he and his wife were getting ready for church, it was very difficult. The elders just kind of let that go over their heads and they bid goodbye for the day. The next Sunday came and the pastor got up and again spoke a very good sermon for exactly 30 minutes. Later that day, the elders again came by the parsonage and told him how glad they were they hired him. Then they asked how it was going. The pastor again told them about the very small bathroom, to which they again let it go over there heads. The third Sunday, the pastor got up and preached for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Later, the elders came by and asked him why he talked so long. He apologized and told them that the bathroom was so small that he accidentally put in his wife’s false teeth that morning and he said, “…and you know Momma, when they get started they just don’t stop.” That afternoon, the crew came by to start building their new bathroom. That new pastor was focused only on what he wanted, and sometimes we have to do that, but never at the expense of not caring how we treat others in the church.