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October 13th, 2010 | Author:

We’re coming to the end of apple season here in upstate New York, and I am grateful. Yes, grateful.

The problem is that I love apple season.  From about January on, I can hardly wait for fresh, tart, juicy apples, instead of those tasteless, mealy things the grocery store has – some of which, I discovered this summer, come from New Zealand, probably on a very slow boat.

My all-time favorites are MacIntosh, and they have been especially large and juicy this year.  Then a couple years ago after the Mac’s were done for the season, my local orchard convinced me to try Crispins.  Ooh-hah!  They are very crisp and tasty, and they keep very well.

This year, my hubby got me two large bags of Macs and a very cool gizmo to peel them, core them, and slice them, making that process much easier for my achy hands.  This has resulted in apple pie and multiple batches of Apple Brown Betty, from an old friend’s excellent recipe.

So why am I glad apple season is almost over?  Because I made the mistake of reading this the other day:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

Like Eve, I think apples are among the best things that God put on this earth.  I certainly desire them almost all year, and I would have to admit that I’m passionate about them.  And I have definitely not crucified my flesh in this regard.  In fact, I feed this passion.  I cater to my hunger for all things apple.

Are apples sinful?  Of course not  (unless God has told you not to eat them, and we all know how that turned out for Eve.)

The sin is that I’m feeding my flesh instead of my soul.  I’m letting my fleshly desire and passion rule what I do, instead of crucifying that flesh.   It would appear that  a little discipline and self-control are in order.

I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
(1 Corinthians 9:23-27)

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October 06th, 2010 | Author:

As always, Christian bloggers are invited to participate in the Word for Wednesday. See the WFW tab above for details.

I was following links this morning, and came across a story that the media largely ignored. Here’s part of a wire story from FoxBusiness posted in the Markets section:

Members of Ecuador’s national police and members of the air force on Thursday started protests and went on strike against the government of President Rafael Correa.

The heated protests started after the Correa administration went ahead with reforms that will cut benefits and affect decorations that increase remuneration for the police and military.

Police officials burned tires in the streets and protested against the government, while air force officials shut down the airport in Quito. The army has said it supports Correa.

Here are more details from a missionary in the area:

In a matter of hours Sept. 30, a nation of 14 million people found itself at the mercy of gangs and hoodlums, ransacking and looting at will.

Ecuador, the South American nation I have served as a Southern Baptist missionary for 24 years, isn’t known for being politically stable. With eight presidents in the last 10 years, Ecuadorians have seen many uprisings, strikes, demonstrations and unrest. Trouble struck again Sept. 30.

That day, as we were going out to celebrate my wife’s birthday, we noticed people running down the streets. Traffic backed up along the side streets of our neighborhood. Within minutes, word spread: “The national police are striking. Go home immediately, lock your doors and stay there!”

Even as I rushed to get back to our house, businesses were locking up and people were jumping into their cars. When I stopped someone to ask what was going on, he shouted, “They’ve robbed the bank down the street! There is looting all along the shopping district a block away!”

With the threat of more than 40,000 national police walking off the job, chaos and terror soon reigned across the country.

Patriotic Christian Americans know, of course, that nothing like this could ever happen here. But just for a minute, I ask you to imagine that it could.  Just for a minute, think about a scenario that would leave our country at the mercy of looters and criminals.  Think about how our military would react.  Just think.

As you imagine this situation, try to figure out how you would react.  As this missionary did, I suspect that most of us would try to find safe haven for ourselves and our loved ones, but what would your next step be?  Would you dig out your ammo and clean your guns?  Would you set up barricades to harden your safe haven?  Would you venture out to get food and supplies to last through the storm … even if you had to turn into one of the looters to do it?

If you thought to pray, what would you pray?  Would you pray for safety for you and yours?  Would you pray for God to restore our country, to eliminate the fear and chaos?

A couple years ago I took a walk through the New Testament prayers.  Almost all of them are prayers for people’s souls.  They are prayers for Christians to walk as Christians, to know God, to share God.  Prayers for personal safety and earthly comforts are rare.  Here’s part of one of my favorites:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Here’s what that missionary and other Christians are doing in response to the chaotic events in Ecuador.  Would we do as well, or would we just want our creature comforts restored?

While this latest round of political unrest is tragic, we ask Christians around the world to pray that it will become the catalyst for a long-awaited harvest of souls here in Ecuador. On Oct. 10, all evangelical Christians in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, will unite in a citywide evangelistic effort. We will blanket the city’s schools, parks, media, homes, government offices and sports arenas in an attempt to reach the entire city of 3 million people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pray that the tragic events of Sept. 30 will prepare people’s hearts to respond to the Gospel.

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September 29th, 2010 | Author:

Hell is happy to provide us with vain philosophies and other mental futilities by which we are blinded, flattered, coarsened, and calloused until our damnation is complete; these must be rejected and left behind as we draw nearer to Him who loves us and will heal us from our wounds — self-inflicted and otherwise.

-Jim Wetzel, WFW 9/22

The statement above generated a rant in my heart that continues today, as I see person after person cling to error when God reveals the truth.  So consider last week’s rant this week’s Word for Wednesday:

Why is it that so many people refuse to reject the old when God is trying to show them the new? Christianity is supposed to change us from “glory to glory,” and yet so many cling to their understanding from decades ago, not acknowledging that God reveals Himself to us in bits and pieces as we are able to bear it.

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:12-13)

Out with the old man that causes us so many problems. In with the new, that looks more like Jesus every day.

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September 22nd, 2010 | Author:

Scenario I: You and your buddies Mike and Jim got up at oh-dark-thirty and drove three hours to your favorite ski resort.  You got there before the sun, bought your lift tickets, and were really looking forward to a crisp, sunny day of racing down the mountain.

As you left the lodge for the lift line, though, three buses pulled up and disgorged a horde of foreigners — ignorant foreigners who mulled all over the place in their street shoes, ruining the snow pack at the bottom of the run.  They obviously didn’t even speak the language, if you went by their confused looks when people started telling them to get off the trail.  Great.  Just great.

“C’mon,” you said to Mike and Jim.  “Let’s get at least one run in before they figure out how to get up the mountain.”

You and Mike hustled to the lift line, and Jim said he’d catch up to you in a bit.  You and Mike caught a chair, and you continued to grumble all the way up the mountain.  When you got to the top, though, the sun was bright and the snow was fast, so you forgot about the foreigners as you set off down your favorite trail, Mike close behind. You forgot, that is, until you got down to the bottom and had to dodge around the foreigners who were still in the way and still wrecking the snow.  Where was the ski patrol?  Why weren’t they getting these idiots out of the way?  This was getting downright scary.  How many of them were there, anyhow?

As you tried to work your way back to the lift line, you realized you hadn’t seen Jim.  You finally spied him heading toward … the beginner’s slope?  Then you realized he was leading one of the foreigners, who had somehow acquired a pair of skis.  They were laughing and Jim was obviously trying to teach the guy how to walk in skis.

Scenario II: If you substitute America for the ski resort, Muslims for the foreigners, and police for the ski patrol, I think you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what many American Christians think about the Muslims in our country today.

  • We resent foreigners that show up at our mountain, ruining our day.
  • We expect them to act like expert skiers, even when they don’t have skis.
  • We get scared when a lot of them show up.
  • We think they should know the language.
  • When they don’t “get it,” we want the ski patrol involved.

Expecting anyone to act like a Christian when no one has told them about Christ is ludicrous.  Making laws to that effect not only violates the First Amendment, it exposes our selfishness in wanting to keep the “mountain” to ourselves, and our hypocrisy in focusing on outward behaviors instead of a heart filled and changed by the Holy Spirit.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. (Matthew 23:4)

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September 01st, 2010 | Author:

Most Christians acknowledge that we are living in the end times, pointing to the declining morality of the culture around us.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Some Christians acknowledge that at least part of the institutional church is in trouble, pointing to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its official acceptance of homosexuality or the likes of Ted Haggard.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 1:7-11)

A few Christians, myself among them, are convinced that the deception has become so open and so widespread that we are watching many be mislead, just as Jesus forewarned us. [Matt 24:11]

And when it comes to the issue of church and state, America vs. God, many refuse to hear the truth, and choose instead to follow those who tell them what they want to hear, among them Barrack Obama, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck.  Like the Israelites of old, they want to follow a flesh and blood king instead of God.  [1 Samuel 8:5] The popularity of these charismatic figures fulfills another prophecy:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

They have refused the truth and are being deceived:

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)

If you are among them, I beseech you to wake up!  Heed the many warnings the Bible gives us about who we follow and who we associate with.  Beware of those who place love of America above love of God.   Do not follow those who, for their own selfish purposes, take advantage of your concern for our country, those who don’t enter by the door but sneak in some other way.  Turn to God, not to a wannabe king.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:1-5)

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