Monday, 3/8/21 – Pressing on… Hatchet throwing lessons anyone?

Hatchet throwing lessons anyone?

I was visiting with a friend this past week, a “bubble” buddy, and in the background TV game shows played. Excited contestants dressed in bizarre attire leaped and screamed at being selected to vie for concealed prizes both big and booby. Among these were

  • A half-dozen hatchet throwing lessons
  • An undersea shark adventure off some Caribbean island
  • A top of the line bedroom suite
  • A games room complete with boom blaster sound system
  • A shiny new sports car
  • A richly jeweled “man purse,” evidently known as a “murse”
  • A skiing holiday week at Aspen
  • A week-long fishing trip with luxury accommodations
  • A home sauna…

On and on it went, contestants wild with glee, waving their arms, dancing and jumping with excitement at even the possibility of these material rewards.

The truth is there is no one who truly needs any of these items. All are luxuries, enticements which too often distract us from our real needs of soul and spirit. They too easily focus our minds and hearts on temporal pursuits. Their glitz and glamour, technology and trendiness boggles us into believing the happiness we seek is just round the corner of the next great purchase, or win.

In this, Satan accomplishes his goal: to shift our focus from others to self and to defer our own spiritual needs to some soon sometime.  

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” God asks us through the prophet (Isa. 55:2). Instead we ought seek that fullness which comes as we feed another. “I have food to eat that you know nothing about,” said Christ to His disciples (John 4:32). “’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” (v.34).

The Master’s food is to be the disciples food also. This is the true “fast” of which Isaiah further speaks,

to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke… to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa. 58:6-7).

The denial of self for the needs of others. This is true discipleship and true Agapé love.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:3).

More tomorrow…

You can link to the message “Spiritual Awakening And Showing Gods Mercy” by Carter Conlon” HERE.

Wednesday, 2/17/21 – Pressing on… Is there Pride in your Portions?

Is there Pride in your Portions?

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a fictional yet insightful account of the training of a junior demon, Wormwood, in the fine art of tempting and destroying souls, by a senior demon Screwtape. In it, Screwtape lauds the work of the demon Glubose in instilling ‘delicacy’ in the heart of an elderly woman. ‘Delicacy,’ as we shall soon see, is a more insidious sin than ‘gluttony’ because it appears so much to be its opposite. Screwtape explains…

“She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile ‘Oh please, please . . . all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.’ You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, chap. 17

Adds Screwtape, “The woman is in what may be called the ‘All-I-want’ state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted.”

Note what has transpired in this woman’s heart. This woman is now as proud of her abstentions as the glutton is proud of his indulgences — as the champions of eating contests worldwide so quickly demonstrate. She has become a textbook Pharisee!

Fasting, however, eliminates both extremes. Fasting removes the plate altogether. There is no place for pride in the true Biblical fast.

Isaiah best describes the selflessness of right fasting:

“…this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. / Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. / Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. / Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! / Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isa. 58:6-10 – NLT).

Is there Pride in your Portions?

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 2/16/21 – Pressing on… A well-fed cat and two hungry dogs

A well-fed cat and two hungry dogs

Just watch our cat! She isn’t very tech-savvy, but for the better part of most days she nonetheless spends in her own little feline virtual reality: Cat Dreamland.

Generally her ears perk up at the “riiip” of cat can and, no matter how deep she may have dug into her dream world, she comes running to sit expectantly before her cat dish. Once well fed, it’s back to her bed (ours actually), a few surface softening circles, and she’s down again, snuggled and sated, ready to dream again.

A full belly has the same effect on most mammals. Bears are masters at it. A bear will spend most of every late summer feeding ahead, then sleep a stunning 5 to 7 months in a spot no other bear will occupy once used in this way by another. Chipmunks and ground squirrels, hedgehogs and groundhogs, even hummingbirds and ladybugs hibernate for varying months at a time.

One thing they all have in common is a good feed beforehand, both filling them up for the deep sleep ahead and helping them doze off as the long, slow digestion takes over.

Humans are like that too. Though we don’t sleep for months, (except in fairytales,) food does tend to make us drowsy, less alert, ready to soften a circle and hunker down for a nap.

Scripture tells us to do the opposite: “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18), “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13), “…keep on the alert at all times…” (see Luke 21:34-36), “I know,” writes Paul, “that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you… be on the alert” (see Acts 20:29-31).

Fasting — denying the flesh what feeds it — fuels the Spirit to seek out better things. It’s a simple truth of parenting that when the cupboard is void of candy the apples on the table begin to look more appealing.

As the adage goes, Two “dogs” fight within us. Which will win and which will lose will depend largely on which you most often feed, and which you most often starve.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 2/15/21 – Pressing on… To Seek Something Greater…

To Seek Something Greater

In Matthew 10 we have the record of Jesus sending out the twelve, to go to the lost sheep of Israel (v.6), and to preach the nearness of the kingdom of heaven (v.7). They were to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons, and trust God for all provisions (v.8-10). If rejected, they were to move on. They were to be shrewd in their dealings, yet remain innocent of wrongdoing (v.16). When persecuted they were to flee elsewhere (v.23), not of cowardice, but to preserve their evangel. Fearless of man, they were to proclaim the message He would give them. He told them,

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.” (Matt. 10:27).

On this theme Oswald Chambers comments,

“…pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood— darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 14 entry

Fasting can be very much like darkness. Like prayer, it is to be a closeted thing (a dark place), a private thing (“done in secret”), hidden from the applause of men but given to God in sacrifice… in worship. With it comes promise of reward… openly… “in the daylight.”

“The Christian denies himself because he seeks something greater,” said Pastor Andrew.

What do you seek?

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.