Enjoy a Peaceful Smoky Mountain Retreat

If you are contemplating a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, please consider visiting our lovely three-bedroom rental cottage, Rocky Top, located in the Hidden Mountain Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.

Learning the Language of Love – Part One

Little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. I John 3: 18

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).  This was His litmus test for love.

The Bible or New Testament has been translated into all of the world’s major languages. The entire Bible is translated into a total of 293 languages spoken by 90% of the world’s population. The New Testament is available in another 618 languages. However, there are still 300,000,000 million people with no portion of Scripture in their language. Currently 3,000 Bible translators are working on 1,400 translation projects hopefully to be completed by 2033.

However, there is a strategic translation that needs to be made by you which only your friends will read. It is the language of love.

Therefore, “…let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3: 18).

Let that reverberate in the echo chamber of your heart.

“A light that doesn’t glow,
A spring that doesn’t flow,
A seed that doesn’t grow,
All are analogies of a faith that doesn’t SHOW. 

The Bible says, “God is love.” That might have been doubted until “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us””(John 1: 14). That was show and tell time. Jesus told us of the love of God and then went to Calvary and showed us the love of God. Like Jesus we must combine words and deeds.

“In this is the love of God manifested toward us, that God sent His Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (I John 4: 9)

With reference to Jesus the Scripture says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (I John 1: 14)

The Greek term translated Word is “Logos.” Logos was a term used at the time by Philo which meant “all that is known or knowable about God.” That is Who Jesus is. He is “all that is known or knowable about God.”  He made it known by grace and truth. Grace was His style and truth His speech.

His very actions were the expression of the heart of God the Father. In essence, our actions are a language. What we do is what people hear. What people see is what they hear.

Love is a language which the blind can read and the deaf can understand.

You speak the language of love without opening your mouth when you write a note of encouragement, help someone perform a difficult task, bake a cake or cookies, take in the neighbor’s paper when they are away, open a door, give a cool drink on a hot day or a warm drink on a cold day, share a mutual sorrow, or give a love offering to meet a spiritual need.

A kind look, a thoughtful act, or a warm smile can be ammunition for a friend fighting his unseen battle. Observers of speech estimate that approximately 75% or more of our message is communicated nonverbally or in the tone of our voice. 

Walk the walk and talk the talk.       

God Bless America

A reporter for the New York Herald sat on a ridge overlooking a strategic battlefield at Cedar Creek in the un-Civil War. General Grant had named General Philip H. Sheridan to lead the army cavalry of the Potomac to defend the area. Little Phil, as he became known, was eleven miles away in Winchester when the battle broke out at Cedar Creek. Observing what appeared to be shaping up as a rout by the Confederates, the reporter wrote, “I am witnessing the awful disillusionment of the United States of America.”

Sheridan rode at a gallop the full eleven miles to the conflict. As he rode onto the field of battle, at his side he had a simple banner with a star thereon signifying his command. As he rode, he shouted, “Here is Sheridan. Sheridan is with you. Follow me and we shall save the Union,” They did, and they did.

As painful as it is to say it, there is no more whistling in the dark, we are again “…witnessing the awful disillusionment of the United States of America.” I can’t believe I am saying that. Neither can I believe it is true, but without a dramatic turnabout it is looming. It has happened to many great nations throughout history. The pallbearers that carried away the corpses  of many great societies await another. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Hyksos, Greeks, and Romans have all ruled over one great nation, Egypt.

Apart from a great social, political, cultural, and spiritual revival our destiny looks bleak. We are divided into so many special interest groups, whose own interest is preferred to our national interest, that we are coming apart. We are polarized without bridges of understanding. Distrust, bitterness, hate, and deception are the norm.      

As in a dark hour in the life of ancient Israel every person does that which is right in his own eyes.

As on that battlefield at Cedar Creek a leader is needed on our battle field. It must be a man of the Lord’s own choosing. Historically He has on occasion used as His principal agent a person not of faith in Him, but one who endorses principles that are of Him.

Nations reach a tipping point. At times the tipping point and the end have been synonymous. At other times they have been separated by time. America appears to be reaching the tipping point. Are we civil enough to perpetuate a civil society?

May the yeast of innate goodness in the heart of America rise as never before. From sea to shining sea may the chorus rise as a prayer, “God bless America,” knowing He will when we profess He is the “Great God our King.”

Change Can Be Constructive

Jesus specializes in new creations. I know, I am one. Change is vogue. No generation has seen more change faster than ours. It is said human knowledge doubles every 17 days. In that environment don’t plan on maintaining the status quo. Especially when the status is nothing to “quo” about.

All of us are instinctively resistant to change for two reasons. One is explained by a Greek word and the other a well known English word.

The Greek word is homeo/stasis. “Home” means the same. “Stasis” means “to stand” or “be the same.” Put together they mean “to stand in the same place,” or “I do not want to change.”

The Lord has built into every one of us a clock. When we reach a certain age we don’t want to change. Between the ages of 17 and 20 the body clock goes off and an inner stubbornness to personal change occurs. It is clinically called  “internalization of identity.” At that point in life we become resistant to change.

The English word describing why we are reluctant to change is emotions.  Emotions are feelings that are loyal to past experiences and decisions. Emotions are an enemy to change.

Change, even from worse to better, causes inconvenience.  It is impossible to make people secure amid change. You can only help them feel less threatened by it.

Amid such sudden and dramatic change what is a person to do?

Resolve to develop your core values.

Raytheon is a company that developed many of our high tech guided missiles. Their theme is: “Excellence begins with fundamentals.”

In the Christian life contentment and character begin with fundamentals. In an era characterized by a crisis of emptiness the reason can be found in an absence of core values among people. Inconsistency and uncertainty result.

Memorize Scripture so you can apply it in times of crisis. Often people say, “I can’t memorize well!” Oh, yes you can if properly motivated. How would you respond to the request to memorize a meaningful chapter of Scripture such as the Sermon on the Mount? How would you respond if told you will be given $10,000 if you memorize the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps, “Ex-cussse me, I’ve got to start my memory work.”

If you know the value of Scripture memorization you will do it. Base your core values on the Word of God.

Start by memorizing and resolving to live by such as these: John 3: 16, Colossians 3: 23, II Peter 2: 5-8, Psalm 23, Numbers 6: 24-26, Philippians 2: 5 – 8.

Start slow, but stay with it. You can do it.

Blue Baby and Beer

Blue baby syndrome, while not common, can occur due to several congenital (meaning present at birth) heart defects or environmental or genetic factors. In lay terms of a past era such a child was said to be a blue baby. It was said to be caused by a hole in the heart.  It’s characterized by an overall skin color with a blue or purple tinge, called cyanosis. I was one. The doctors gave me six weeks to live. The condition was often the cause of death if the heart did not grow to close the hole.

For about the first five years of life I was so weak I could not play as a normal child. The hole miraculously closed and my physical activities increased. 

Later in life I learned that in praying my parents dedicated themselves to rearing me for use by the Lord if He desired.

I began to grow rapidly. At one point I had two fried eggs for breakfast with a plate of syrup with a large swirl of fresh cream. This was sopped with biscuits. The doctor said I needed iron. Supplements were unknown so he prescribed that I eat a pound of liver a day. Yuck! I did eat it, but to this day I no longer eat liver.

As a teen I answered God’s gracious call to the ministry. It wasn’t until after that my parents told me of their commitment to rear me for the Lord.

One dramatic event in my young life caused me to make a life long commitment. A relative of my grandparents lived in our big old house. He was a deputy sheriff, my hero. He had a reputation as being a good law officer who was hard on moonshiners. They cultivated him and enticed him to the point that one night they got him drunk out of his mind. They undressed him and during the night dumped his nude body and clothes on our lawn. His career was ended.

I thought if that stuff could do that to my hero I would never drink alcohol.

Fast forward. My first night on my college campus without knowing what I was doing I got in with the “in group” sitting in the student union. One of them suggested we walk up town. On our way they decided we needed to get beers. Naively I said, “I have never tasted a beer.” I didn’t that night.

Four years later I was a young pastor. After the service a lovely young girl introduced herself as being a member of that group and how I had said I had never tasted beer. Then she asked if I could still say that. I acknowledged I could. To this day I can still say I have never tasted alcohol in any form. 

We make decisions and then our decisions make us. We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.

C.S. Lewis said, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”

Make decisions today that you will be pleased to live with the result tomorrow.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1: 12)

I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part Five

 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7)

People respond to a pot that’s got Jesus showing in it. They are turned off by pots without His prominent presence.

Gandhi of India was intrigued by Christ. A friend asked him, “If you are so intrigued with Jesus Jesus, why don’t you become a Christian?”

Gandhi replied, “When I meet a Christian who is a follower of Christ, I might consider it.”

There are many who follow Jesus commendably. Unfortunately, Gandhi never met one.

Mao Tse-tung came to America eager for a western education and for an exposure to Christianity. After observing Christians around him his curiosity turned to disillusionment, and his heart and mind shifted to Marxism. He returned to China and led that country into atheistic Communism.

Upon hearing this has the question occurred to you … if Ghandi met you would he have seen Jesus? If Mao had known you would he have been inspired to turn to Jesus as a follower? All around there are people like Gandhi and Mao observing people like you.

Now the metaphor shifts from the content of the pot to the pot itself.

A pot is the product of a potter, one who makes pots.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah relates a personal experience that gives all hope.

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make”  (Jeremiah 18:3, 4).

The Lord declared through Jeremiah, “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” (Jeremiah 18: 6c).

Perhaps the clay spoken of in this passage is indicative of your life. As the potter was fashioning what he designed for the clay it became misshapen.

Many lives get “misshapen.” Something happens that keeps the life from being all the Master Potter had in mind for it.

Notice the potter didn’t throw away the clay. He shaped and molded it and put it back on the spindle and made another different, but useful vessel.

Perhaps there has been an experience in your life that has kept the Lord from shaping your life as He originally desired. Don’t despair. He isn’t through with you yet. He wants to put you back on his spindle and remold you. Though you can never be the vessel He originally intended, you can be another beautiful, a useful vessel. He, the Master Potter, wants to make you a functional person, a vessel in which He is alive.

A useful pot is begot by yielding to the Potter and allowing Him to shape and fill you. It is called obedience.

One day the spiritual Arc De Triomphe, the Pearly Gates of Heaven, will be in your gaze. Do you have assurance that you will be in the celestial triumphant procession to enter?  Are you assured that Jesus is alive in you by faith in Him?