Matthews 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before man, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your FATHER in heaven.

To all fathers, dads or any man out there.  You are or can be a father figure to someone you may never know.  Whatever the case, let your light shine so others may see the Lord through you.

 

Beware of Spiritual Pride

by William Gurnall

Pride was the sin that turned Satan, a blessed angel, into a cursed devil. Satan knows better than anyone the damning power of pride. Is it any wonder, then, that Satan sows pride among saints, that he so often uses it to poison them? Spiritual pride is one kind of pride that Satan uses to assault the saints.

One kind of spiritual pride is pride of gifts. By gifts I mean those spiritual abilities the Holy Spirit dispenses to Christians for the edification of the body of Christ as a whole. The apostle tells us of the great diversity of gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Just look around you at the different species of plants and flowers, and you will have some idea of God’s love for infinite variety. He has been no less creative with the human personality. Every child of God is unique and important for the proper functioning of the body of Christ.

But when pride creeps in, we begin to create hierarchies among the brethren and among gifts. This inevitably leads to divisions and disputes. Satan knows it and labors to taint every single gift with pride. In so doing he can hurl two stones at once. With one, he strikes the unity of the body as a whole; with the other, he cripples the individual saint.

Consider the possibility that pride is the reason we do so little good for others with our gifts. When pride prevails, we pray, preach, comfort, or console to be thought good-by others, rather than to do good to others. We set ourselves upon a spiritual pedestal and, in a manner of speaking, expect those we serve to worship at the shrine of our good works. Will God honor such efforts? He has told us in no uncertain terms that He will not share His glory with anyone else (Isa. 48:11). The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him, but the proud man will find himself in a worse fix. God Himself will be there to resist him. If you doubt it, read His Word: “[He] resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jas. 4:6).

Our pride is also the reason we receive so little good from the gifts of other Christians. Pride fills us with notions of our own spiritual sufficiency. We think we are too good (or too holy) to need the help of most other saints. We find few preachers who are “spiritual” enough to minister to us. And if someone offers a word of correction, we close our ears.

Pride fools us into thinking we “are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17). Alas for us! How long can a soul thrive if it steadfastly refuses wholesome nourishment, and will only sit down to a “choice dish” of high-sounding theory? Just as simple food is healthier for our physical bodies than an elaborate feast, so a steady diet of plain truths and God’s ordinances is better for our souls than dipping in the lordly dishes of man’s theological assumptions.

If you are one who holds yourself in high spiritual esteem, hear this: Many humble Christians, of low estate by the world’s standards, have much to offer you if you are not too proud to receive spiritual food at their hands. Pride always destroys love and separates saints. Without love for all the brethren, we are bound to lose much that God wants to give. The Bible says every saint has been given gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

Here is a word to you who think your gifts are inferior to those of other members of the body: Be content with your condition. Great gifts lift a saint up a little higher in the eyes of men, but they also tempt him to pride. Do not envy those with great gifts; instead, pray for them. It is hard for them to escape the error of supposing that God’s grace in them is their own doing. You have a real advantage over them, for you have the help of their gifts but not the temptation of their pride.

Words of Caution

Here, now, are some words of caution for you to whom God has given more or better gifts than ordinary.

Pride wants to grow where the best gifts have been bestowed. So beware of pride! The only thing that will keep you from it is your humility. Remember whom you wrestle with, spiritual wickedness. Their ploy is to lift you up high in order to give you a harder fall. They will try to convince you that your spiritual accomplishments are a result of your own efforts and that you deserve the credit for them. Surely you know this is not true! In case you have forgotten, think back to what you were like before the Holy Spirit came to you with gifts from God’s storehouse. How can you be proud of another’s bounty? You may be able to impress other men with your gifts, but you will not impress God. He knows where they all came from.

Where pride flourishes, the body of Christ suffers. Had God-given you gifts merely for your own pleasure or edification, the sin of pride would not be quite so bad. But when you use your gifts to lift yourself up, you tear down the body of Christ. Your gifts are necessary to the health of the whole body, but they must be administered properly. You must be careful to acknowledge that Christ is the Great Physician; you are only the assistant who uses His instruments and carries out His orders.

Where pride grows, grace withers. Here is another reason to be humble if you have great gifts: every proud thought you entertain costs you a measure of grace. There is not room for both to prosper in the Christian’s heart. Indeed, when grace and pride sit down at the same table, pride shows itself a glutton, and grace leaves the table unfed. Pride must have the most and best of everything to satisfy its appetite. This voracious lust will devour your spirit of praise. When you should be blessing God, you will be applauding yourself. It will eat up Christian love and cause you to disdain the fellowship of other Christians. It will keep you from acknowledging the gifts of others, because that would take away some of the glory you want for yourself. Ultimately, pride so distorts our taste that we can relish nothing drawn from another’s dish.

Where pride reigns, God chastens. God will not allow such a weed as pride to grow in His garden without taking some course or other to root it up. He may let you fall into a sin that will humiliate you before men and God, and force you to come crawling home in shame. Or He may use a thorn in the flesh to prick the balloon of your pride. If your pride has placed His honor in jeopardy, expect to feel God’s rod of correction. Most likely it will be applied to the very spot where your pride is rooted. Hezekiah boasted of his treasure; God sent the Chaldeans to plunder him (Isa. 39:1-8). Jonah was proud of his gourd; God sent a pestilence to destroy it (4:6-11). Can you expect Him to wink at this sin in your life when He has dealt so firmly with it in His other children?

Where gifts are bestowed, God calls an audit. Suppose a friend died and named you executor of his estate. But instead of dividing his inheritance according to the instructions left in his will, you took the money and put it in your own bank account, then went around town bragging about how rich you were. How long could you fool people with your false prosperity? Sooner or later the rightful heirs would show up and not only take what is theirs, but probably sue you as well. In a spiritual sense, you are only God’s executor. He has given you gifts, and specific instructions on how to dispense them. By the time you have paid all the legacies, you will see little left for yourself to brag or boast of. Never forget for a moment that you will be held accountable for the talents left in your care.

Now perhaps you do not keep your gifts from others, but serve the church tirelessly. That sounds commendable. But let me ask you this: who gets the credit for your activities? Suppose a man who was named executor of an estate paid out the legacies as instructed but he pretended they were gifts from himself. Would we not label him a thief and a swindler? A proud soul who takes the credit for his good works is just as much a thief. What is worse, he steals from God Himself!

Warning Signals of Pride

How can you know when you are in danger of committing the sin of spiritual pride with respect to your gifts? Here are some warning signals.

You are in danger of spiritual pride if you catch yourself dwelling on the thoughts of your gifts with a secret kind of contentment, always taking them out to look at and admire. A proud man is consumed with love for himself. He is the apple of his own eye. The great subject and theme of all his thoughts is who he is and what he has that is better than someone else’s. Before you protest that you could never fall into the hands of pride, let me tell you that no one is beyond its bounds. Bernard, that great old saint, confessed that even in the middle of one of his sermons, pride would be whispering in his ear, “Well done, Bernard, well done!”

How can the Christian escape those persistent self-promoting thoughts? Run from them as you would from an enraged bear. Do not stand still to listen to these lies, or soon the devil will have you erecting a monument to yourself with the glory of your God-given gifts. Remind yourself daily how weak you are and how utterly dependent on God for every good and perfect gift.

Another indicator that you are caught in the trap of spiritual pride is envy of others’ gifts. Keeping our hearts and envy separated is as difficult as keeping two lovers from meeting. It is the sin that shed the first blood: Cain’s envy hatched Abel’s murder.

Envy is an affront to the character and person of God. When you envy you are questioning God’s right to administer His gifts as He sees best. You are also maligning the goodness of God. You are angry that God wants to bless someone besides you. Would you not have God be good? You might as well say you would not have Him be God, for He can no more cease to be good than He can cease to be God! When your envy prods you to belittle the gifts of other Christians, you are really belittling God who gave them.

Envy, like its mother, pride, is the scout for a whole host of other sins. This sin of the heart goes before and sets the stage for all kinds of sins of the flesh. Saul, Israel’s first king, fell so low as to plot the murder of the very man who had saved his kingdom. From the day he heard David preferred above himself in the women’s songs, he could not get the sound out of his head. Envy brought him to hate, which carried him on to plot David’s death (1 Sam. 18:6-9).

Later on, what did envy do to David’s own heart but make him covet the wife of his trusted soldier, Uriah, and lead him through a maze of lust, lies, adultery, and murder? (2 Sam. 11:1-27). Not one of these would have been committed had it not been for that rabble-rouser, envy. It is a bloody sin, the womb wherein a whole litter of other sins is formed (Rom. 1:29). Therefore, unless you are willing to welcome the devil and his whole train, resist the sin of envy.

To gain mastery over this sin, you must call in help from heaven. We have a sure promise that the foundation of our grace is stronger than that of our lust, but only if we enlist the Holy Spirit in our behalf: “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy. But He giveth more grace” (Jas. 4:5-6). Do not challenge envy to a duel with your own resolve; you are not strong enough or smart enough to win. But God can give you more grace than you have sin, more humility than you have pride. If you are humble enough to ask for His grace, He will make sure you are not so proud as to envy His gifts or grace in others.

Future Punishment And The Bible

Future Punishment And The Bible
By Samuel Logan Brengle

Joseph Cook, one of America’s soundest and clearest thinkers, said to me a generation ago, ‘Let the Churches banish from their pulpits the preaching of Hell for a hundred years, and it will come back again, for the doctrine is in the Bible, and in the nature of things.’ And he said in his great lecture on the ‘Final Permanence of Moral Character’: ‘The laws by which we obtain supreme bliss are the laws by which we descend to supreme woe. In the ladder up and the ladder down in the universe, the rungs are in the same side pieces. The self-propagating power of sin and the self-propagating power of Holiness are one law. The law of judicial blindness is one with that law by which the pure in heart see God.’

There is but one law that can save me from ‘the law of sin and death,’ that is ‘the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.’ If I refuse to submit to that law, I abide eternally under the law of sin and death and endure eternally its dread penalties.

‘Every sinner must be either pardoned or punished.’

I once heard these words uttered by The Army Founder in the midst of an impassioned appeal to men to make their peace with God; and they have remained in my memory, always representing a tremendous truth from which we can never get away.

The Atonement opens wide the door of pardon, of uttermost Salvation, and of bliss eternal to every penitent sinner who will believe on Christ and follow Him, while it sweeps away every excuse from the impenitent sinner who will not trust and obey Him.

The Atonement justifies God in all His ways with sinful men.

The holiest beings in the universe can never feel that God is indifferent to sin, when He pardons a believing sinner, lifts up his drooping head and introduces him to the glories and blessedness of Heaven, because Christ has died for him. On the other hand, the sinner who is lost and banished to outer darkness, cannot blame God nor charge Him with indifference to his misery, since Christ, by tasting death for him, flung wide open the gateway of escape. That he definitely refused to enter in will be clear in his memory for ever, and will leave him without excuse.

We do not often encounter now the old-fashioned Universalist, who believed that all men, whether righteous or wicked, enter into a state of blessedness the moment they die. But others, with errors even more dangerous, because seemingly made agreeable to natural reason and to man’s inborn sense of justice, have come to take his place and weaken men’s faith in the tremendous penalties of God’s holy law; in fact, there seems to be a widespread and growing tendency to doubt the existence of Hell and the endless punishment of the wicked.

A theory often advanced is the annihilation, or extermination, of the wicked. It is said that there is no eternal Hell; and that the wicked do not enter into a state of punishment after death, but are immediately or eventually blotted out of existence.

Then there is the doctrine of ‘eternal hope.’ This asserts that the wicked will be punished after death, possibly for ages, but that in the end they will all be restored to the favor of God and the bliss of the holy. The words of our Lord to the traitor appear to be an unanswerable refutation of this doctrine. If all are to be saved at last, would Jesus have said of Judas, ‘It had been good for that man if he had not been born ‘? For what are ages of suffering when compared to the blessedness and rapture of those who finally see God’s face in peace and enjoy His favor to all eternity?

There is something so awful about the old doctrine of endless punishment, and such a seeming show of fairness about these new doctrines, that the latter appeal very strongly to the human heart, and enlist on their behalf all the sympathies and powerful impulses of ‘the carnal mind’ which is enmity against God,’ and which is ‘not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’

In forming our opinions on this subject we should stick to the Bible. All we know about the future state is what God has revealed and left on record in ‘the law and ….. the testimony,’ and ‘if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.’ Human reason, as well as human experience fails us here, and we can put no confidence in the so-called revelations of spiritualism nor in the dreams of sects who pretend to be able to probe the secrets of eternity. If the Bible does not settle the question for us, it cannot be settled.

The Bible teaches that there is punishment for the wicked after death, and that of this punishment they are conscious. In the record of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus says: ‘The rich man also died,….. and in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said,….. Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.’

Some labor hard to strip this Scripture of its evident meaning and to rob it of its point and power, by declaring that it is only a parable. On the contrary, the Saviour’s statements are given as facts. But even though we admit the account to be a parable, what then? A parable teaches either what is or what may be, and in that case these words lose none of their force, but stand out as a bold word-picture of the terrible doom of the wicked.

Over and over Jesus speaks of the wicked being cast into ‘outer darkness,’ where ‘there shall be weeping’ and ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth.’ Three times in one chapter He speaks of the worm that dieth not and the fire that is not quenched.

Paul says, ‘Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,’ shall come upon the wicked. And John, in the Revelation, says they are in torment.’

What can all this mean but conscious punishment?

Let a man who never before saw the Bible, read these words for the first time, and he would at once declare that the Bible teaches the conscious suffering of the wicked after death. He might not believe the teaching, but he would never think of denying that such was the teaching of the Bible.

The punishment mentioned in the Bible must be felt, must be conscious, otherwise it is not ‘torment,’ ‘tribulation and anguish.’ The ‘second death,’ the death of the soul, must be something other than the destruction of its conscious existence.

Jesus has defined for us eternal life as the knowledge of God: ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ (John xvii. 3.) If then this blessed knowledge constitutes eternal life, what is the death which sin imposes but just the absence of this knowledge, with consequent wretchedness and misery? To lose God, to sink into outer darkness, to lose all fellowship with pure and loving souls, to be an outcast for ever, this is ‘the second death,’ this is ‘torment and anguish,’ this is ‘Hell,’ and this is ‘the wages of sin.’

The Bible further teaches that the punishment of the wicked after death will be endless.

There are distinguished teachers and preachers who have declared that the Bible does not teach the eternity of sin and of punishment. But if we examine for ourselves, we find this teaching as clear as human language can make it. In the Revised Version we read: ‘Whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin,’ and eternal sin will surely be followed by eternal woe. While sin lasts misery lasts.

The strongest terms that can be used have been used to teach eternal punishment. When we say a thing will last for ever we have put it strongly, but when we duplicate the phrase and say it will last for ever and for ever, we cannot add to its strength — we have said all that can be said. This is just what the Bible does in speaking of the punishment of the wicked.

The phrase ‘for ever and ever ‘ is the strongest term by which the idea of eternity is expressed in the Bible. It is the phrase used to express the eternal life and glory of the righteous: ‘And they shall reign for ever and ever.’ Paul used these words when he prayed for the continuance of God’s glory: ‘To whom be glory for ever and ever.’ (Galatians i. 5; see also Philippians iv. 20; 2 Timothy iv. 18; Hebrews xiii. 21.) It is also the very phrase used to assert the eternal existence of God Himself — Who ‘liveth for ever and ever.’ (Revelation iv. 9, 10; x. 6; xv. 7.)

This phrase, which is used to declare the endless life and glory of the righteous and the existence of God Himself, is also used to declare the endless punishment of Satan: ‘The Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’ (Revelation xx. 10.) In verse 15 we are told that the wicked are to share the punishment of the Devil himself. And Jesus, in foretelling the sentence of the wicked at the Judgment Day, declares: ‘Then shall He also say to them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels ‘; thus showing that the wicked are to share the punishment of the Devil, which is ‘for ever and ever.

Did not Jesus mean to teach endless punishment when, three times in six short verses, He warned His hearers in the most solemn manner to cut off hands and feet and pluck out eyes, rather than to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched’? (Mark ix. 43- 48.)

Is not endless punishment implied in the parable of the cruel and unforgiving servant, who, owing ten thousand talents (or one million eight hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds), with nothing with which to pay, was delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due? Does not Jesus mean to teach that his debt was beyond his power to cancel; and that, since he proved wickedly unworthy of mercy and forgiveness, he was buried for ever beneath the burden and torment of his vast debt?

And this parable but pictures the moral and spiritual debt of the sinner — illimitable and ever-increasing, unless, in penitence and obedient faith, he finds release through the Blood of Christ before the final sentence of judgment is passed and the prison gates have closed upon him.

We learn from Josephus, the Jewish historian, that the Jews believed in endless punishment; and when the Son of God came into the world to teach men the truth, He did not deny and combat that belief, but spoke fearfully plain words which would confirm and strengthen it.

Well does one writer say: ‘They who deny that any of the words used of future punishment in Holy Scripture express eternity, would do well to consider whether there is any way in which Almighty God could have expressed it, which they would have accepted as meaning it.’

God did not trifle when He inspired those dreadful warnings. Take heed, then, that you do not trifle when you read them, but rather fear and tremble at the Word of the Lord. For just in proportion as you, in the secret of your own heart, doubt the endless punishment of the wicked, in that proportion you will lose power to resist sin and desire to save your own soul or that of others around you.

Two powerful motives which the Holy Ghost uses to lead men to accept the Saviour and renounce all sin, are the hope of everlasting blessedness and the fear of eternal woe. These motives may, in time, in the heart of a Christian be swallowed up in a higher motive of love and loyalty to God, but they always remain as a frame work. No preacher through all the ages has appealed so simply, so constantly, so powerfully, and with such even balance to these motives as did the Saviour. The whole of Matthew xxv. is an illustration of His method of appeal.

Eternity furnishes these motives. They balance each other like the two wings of a bird, the two wheels of a carriage, right and left, upper and lower, right and wrong, and this balance is never lost, but evenly held throughout the Bible from the blessing and cursing of Deuteronomy (xxx. 19) to the final fixedness of moral character as ‘ filthy or ‘ holy ‘ in Revelation (xxii. 11).

Deny one of them and your strength against sin is gone. You may live a life most beautiful in its outward morality, but those secret girdings of the will which in the past impelled you to resist sin unto death, will weaken, and you will find yourself making secret compromises with sin. You will lose your power to discern ‘the exceeding sinfulness of sin.’ You will be ensnared by Satan as ‘an angel of light,’ and some day you will become ‘a servant of sin.’

The sinner is not alarmed by the thought that death ends all. He will say, ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’ It is not death he fears, but that which follows death. Nor does he care for punishment after death if he can only believe it will end sometime he will still harden himself in sin and mock God. But preach to him the faithful Word of God, until the awful fact of endless punishment, set over against the endless blessedness of God’s approval and favor, pierces his guilty conscience and takes possession of his soul, and he will go mournfully all his days until he finds Jesus the Saviour.

Such has always been the effect of the doctrine when proclaimed in power and pity and love with the fire-touched lips of holy men and women. But let men in their folly imagine themselves wiser and more pitiful and just than God, and so begin to tone down this doctrine, then conviction for sin ceases, the instantaneous and powerful conversion of souls is laughed at, the supernatural element in religion is called fanaticism, the Holy Ghost is forgotten, and the work of God comes to a standstill.

But some one objects that God is not just to punish a man for ever for the sins he commits in the short period of a lifetime. And thus speaking he thinks of certain acts of sin such as lying, cheating, swearing, murder, or adultery. But it is not for these sins that men are sent to Hell. God has pardoned multitudes who were guilty of all these sins, and has taken them home to Heaven.

All men are sent to Hell by the weight and pull of their self-chosen evil and discordant nature and character, because they will not repent and turn from sin to God, but choose to remain filled with unbelief, which begets pride and self-will; consequently they are out of harmony with, and are in antagonism to God and all His humble, obedient servants; they will not come to Jesus, that they may be saved from sin and receive a new heart and life. They are dead in trespasses and sins, and they refuse the Life-Giver. Jesus says: ‘Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.’ Again He says: ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.’

If sinners would come to Christ and receive the gracious, loving life He offers, and allow Him to rule over them, God would not impute their trespasses to them, but would forgive all their iniquities, and their sins would drop off as the autumn leaves from the trees in the field.

But men will not come. They refuse the Saviour; they will not hear His voice; they turn away from His words; they remain indifferent to His entreaties; they laugh or mock at His warnings; they walk in disobedience and rebellion; they trample on His holy commandments; they choose darkness instead of light; they prefer sin to holiness, their own way to God’s way; they resist the Holy Spirit: they neglect and reject Christ crucified for them — and for this they are punished.

All this stubborn resistance to God’s invitations and purposes may be linked to a life of external correctness and even apparent religiousness. Not until all His judgments and warnings, His entreaties and dying love have failed to lead sinners to repentance and acceptance of the Saviour, and not until they have utterly refused the eternal blessedness of the holy, does God cease to strive with sinners and to follow them with tender mercies.

By obstinate persistence in sin men come to hate the thing that God loves, and to love the thing that God hates; thus they become as dead to God’s will, to holiness, and to His plans for them, as the child destroyed by smallpox or diphtheria is dead to the hopes and plans of its mourning father and mother. And as such parents in sorrow put away the pestilence-breeding body of their dead child, so God puts sinners, in their utter spiritual corruption, away from His holy presence ‘and from the glory of His power.’

How could God more fully show His estimate of sin, together with His love and pity and longing desire to save the sinner, than by dying for sinful man?

God in Christ Jesus has done that. Bless His holy name! But the sinner tramples on Christ’s Blood, rejects His infinite mercy, resists His infinite love, and so hardens himself into an eternal sinner; hence he deserves eternal punishment, which will follow sin as surely as night follows day.

Is sin only a mild infirmity that we need not fear, and that will yield to gentle reproof? Was the Son of God only playing at being a Saviour when He came down and died for us? Or is sin an awful crime against God and all His creatures, that can only be remitted by the shedding of blood? Is it a crime for which men are responsible, and of which they ought to repent? Is it a crime that tends to perpetuate itself by hardening men in evil, and that culminates in eternal guilt when men finally resist the Holy Ghost, and totally and for ever turn from Jesus the Crucified, rejecting Him as their Saviour and Lord?

If sin is such a crime — and the Bible teaches that it is — then God, as moral Governor of the universe, having provided a perfect way, and having done all He could to persuade men to turn from sin, is under obligation, if He meets only with determined resistance, to place sinners under sentence of punishment, to oppose them and put them away for evermore from His holy presence, and from the society of holy men and angels, where they can no more breed moral and spiritual pestilence, nor disturb the moral harmony of God’s government and people. And when God does so my conscience takes God’s part against my sensibilities, against my own soul, and against a guilty world, and pronounces Him just and holy.

We live in a stern universe where fire will not only bless us but burn us; where water will both refresh and drown us; where gravitation will either protect or destroy us; we must not look at things sentimentally. If we love God and serve Him all things will work for our good; but if we despise or neglect Him we shall find all things working for our eternal undoing and misery. God does not send people to Hell who are fit for Heaven. The standard of fitness is made plain in the Bible, and God’s tender and pitying love has provided for every sinner pardon for past sins through the death of Jesus, and purity, power, and abundant help for the present and future through the gift of the Holy Spirit; so that there will be excuse for none.

If one whom I love commits some terrible crime, violating all the righteous and gracious laws that safeguard society, and consequently is cast into prison, my sorrow — if I myself am the right kind of man — will spring not from the fact that he is in prison, but rather f rom the fact that his character makes him unfit to be out of prison; and if he should go to Hell, my sorrow would be due, not to the fact that he was in Hell, but rather to the fact that he so neglected and despised infinite love and mercy that he was unfit for Heaven. Such a person would possibly be more unhappy in Heaven than in Hell, just as a man who has terribly inflamed eyes is more unhappy in the light of broad day than in the darkness of midnight.

Finally, for a man to say, ‘I believe in Heaven, but I do not believe in Hell,’ is much as though he should say, ‘I believe in mountains, but not in valleys; in heights, but not in depths.’

We cannot have mountains without valleys, we cannot have heights without depths, and we cannot have moral and spiritual heights without the awful possibility of moral and spiritual depths; and the depths are always equal to the heights. The high mountains are set over against the deep seas, and so Heaven is set over against Hell. If Heaven is topless, Hell is bottomless.

Every road leads two ways. The road which leads from New York to Boston also leads from Boston to New York. A man can go either way as he chooses; so with the roadway of life. The man who chooses the things God chooses, loves the things God loves, and hates the things God hates, and who, with obedient faith, takes up his cross and follows Jesus, will go to the heights of God’s holiness and happiness and Heaven; but the man who goes the other way will land in the dark, bottomless abysses of Hell. Every man chooses his own way.

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, And the choice goes by for ever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.

Joseph Cook closed his address, at the Chicago ‘Parliament of Religions,’ on ‘The Certainties of Religion,’ with these words, ‘I bought a book full of the songs of aggressive evangelical religion, and I found in this little book words which may be bitter indeed when eaten, but which, when fully assimilated, will be sweet as honey. I summarize my whole scheme of religion in these words, which you may put on my tombstone Choose I must, and soon must,

Holiness, or Heaven lose.
If what Heaven loves 1 hate,
Shut for me is Heaven’s gate.
Endless sin means endless woe,
Into endless sin I go,
If my soul from reason rent
Takes from sin its final bent
As the stream its channel grooves,
And within that channel moves;
So does habit’s deepest tide
Groove its bed and there abide.
Light obeyed increaseth light;
Light resisted bringeth night.
Who shall give me will to choose,
If the love of light I lose?
Speed, my soul, this instant yield,
Let the light its sceptre wield
While thy God prolongs His grace,
Haste thee to His holy face.
‘HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE, IF WE NEGLECT SO GREAT SALVATION?’
‘WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH, THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP.’

Calling a Warrior

Excerpts from Catherine Booth A Warrior for Christ

 

Let me put a practical question here. How many are there here who have comprehended the task? How many are there to whom the Spirit of God has said in unmistakable language, “Come out from amongst the ungodly or the half-hearted, and be separate, and I will touch your lips with a live coal from off my altar, and will make you fishers of men?” Did you embrace the mission? Have you gone forth following your Master, carrying His cross and seeking the souls of men? If not, what will you say to Him in the great day of account?

Further, in looking at the requirements of the King, and at the history of the early apostles and disciples, I charge it on modern Christianity, that its professors do not even comprehend the first principles of this warfare, much less do they set themselves to carry it on to the ends of the earth.

The service rendered to the King and to the kingdom in these days is, alas, with few exceptions, of a very milk-and-watery type, of a very short-weight character, and the great effort of the majority of its teachers, judging from their writings, and from what we see and know of their public services and of their private lives, seems to be intended to make things comfortable all round. “Peace, peace,” is the continual cry, when there is no peace. As one of the bishops said a little while ago, “We hear a great deal about Church defense; we ought to be hearing about Church aggression.” Yes, alas! in the great mass of instances when these modern Christians do fight, it is over opinions and ceremonies with their own children, inside their own walls, instead of with the enemy outside. They are far more valiant in defending. some ceremonial of the Church, than they are in defending the cross of Christ in the presence of its adversaries. They are far more concerned in propagating their “ism” than the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Alas, that it should be so; but such is the fact, and it is patent to every enlightened observer.

Jesus Christ did not call us to fight each other, but He called us to present one bold front to the enemy. He bade us go and take captive the hearts and souls of men, and not merely to change their opinions. Get a man’s heart right, and his opinions will soon follow. But you may be tinkering at his intellect till the hour of his death, and he will not be a whit nearer heaven, but perchance nearer hell, than if he had been left alone.

Further, these modern Christians, as a rule, do not see any NEED for the fight.

How many professing Christians are there of this day who would go through the city of London in any attire, or with any kind of badge, that said to men and women, “I am a saint and a soldier of Jesus Christ?” And yet the soldiers of the queen are proud to do this in an enemy’s country! I repeat, who is there that dare do it for Christ

2015 And away we go…………..

Now I’m not date setting or even hinting towards that, I’m just announcing that 2015 is here and the start of a new calendar year.

Looking back at 2014, I could see the Lord working hard in my life either through me of around me.  He was there to give me wisdom and strength when I needed it, He humbled me and set me straight when I strayed off course and His love was the beam I leaned on through the pain and glory that filled 2014.

2014 brought the start-up of my new business JC’s Forest & Land Management LLC, the Lord and I had many hours of talking before I dropped the hammer on this adventure.  Only by His guidance did I proceed.  From day one in the thought process I knew if I went it alone, I’d fail.  But each day I asked for His leadership and guidance to help me make the right choices and things started falling into place.  He placed key people in my path to open doors and He gave me the means to step forward.
Starting a new business now days if tough.  Government regs and requirements are almost impossible to overcome unless you cheat and lie or you have the Lord on your side.  I am very thankful I have the Lord.

2014 was a sad year, at the church I attend, some felt the preacher needed to go so they forced his hand to leave.  Bro Tim was a very good teacher preacher and he taught God’s word.  But some felt growth and numbers are more important so out with the old and in with the new.  2015 will probably see my wife and I under the guidance of the Holy Spirit seeking a new home church were God’s word is studied and preached.  Not mans word.

As we step each day through 2015, I feel and see this world really going to pot.  Lately I have been reading back through the world events from about 1900 to present and yes the world has alway seen earthquakes and storms, yes there was always been wars and rumors of wars and sickness and illness have taken millions of lives, but back before say the 1960’s God was the focus point in most people’s eyes.  Even the bad guys had a moral compass that they didn’t cross.   Sure there were the few that was just plain sick in the head and followed satan to a tee but for the most part, sin and hated was hidden in the closet because the light shined bright back then.
Now days, the closet door has been ripped from its hinges and like the time of Moses and Lot, darkness and sin is filling every void, God’s children are being forced to summit to accepting evil or be branded a hater of mankind.
Jesus told us these days would come just like He told us men would rather follow mans ways not Gods way.

Now days we have both men and women standing in the pulpit for their own lust and the lust of money.  Those setting in the pews are told that “If you love God, than follow us, never mind what is written in the bible or here is a new bible for the modern times.”

I am so thankful that our Lord and Savior is still in control and not me.  So often I forget I was once like them, basking in the worldly sins.  But only because His love for me saved me.  But if left up to me, I’d find my love short for those who hate the light.

What does 2015 hold?  Guess we can only guess and we can rest assure God knows and He is still in control.

 

Put another Log on the Fire

Put Another Log On The Fire

By Grant Phillips

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Pull up a chair and put another log on the fire. If that can be said of us from a spiritual standpoint, maybe we’re too comfortable. On the other hand there are times that this would be the thing to do. Quiet times, just to meditate upon God’s Word and spend time in prayer, but can that be said of us?

There are certainly times we need to just step back and relax. Many pastors have not learned this and their family and bodies suffer. When Jesus set aside one day to rest, maybe this is what He was saying to us. “Pull up a chair. Put another log on the fire and let’s talk. Relax with Me for a while.”

Can’t you just visualize Jesus and His disciples sitting around a camp fire together? Their Creator, my and your Creator, was sitting among them teaching them while they relaxed in His Word. They were drawing strength not just from His physical presence but from the Words He spoke.

We can do the same you know. It doesn’t matter where we’re sitting or that we can’t physically see Him. He will be there, and He will also speak to us. We too can relax in His Word.

How many of us do that? If we don’t, we’re really missing a blessing. It is surprising when receiving the spiritual strength that comes from quiet time with God, just listening to what He has to say and talking to Him. He says to us;

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalms 46:10

No matter what kind of pressure is upon us, the one and only omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God is with us, sitting alone listening to us and nourishing us with His strength through His divine Word. Maybe there are no pressures in our life, yet. He is still there for us.

I have found in my life that I am more apt to seek those quiet times when pressure of some sort weighs me down. I suppose that would be why He has to allow pressure in my life at times, to get my attention. I have also discovered, why not spend those wonderful quiet times with Him without having to be coaxed by outside pressures that He may have to allow to get my attention. Now that makes sense doesn’t it?

I wonder how many Christians are feeling un-wanted and perhaps unnecessary pressure, simply because He is trying to get their attention. Think about that for a while. Isaiah said;

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9

With the hectic lives most people live today, maybe going to bed a little later or getting up a little earlier would be the preferred method of finding some quiet time with Him. I am very fortunate to be retired and healthy. I have plenty of time to seek the Lord with no one else around, and even then, I need to use it more wisely than I do. It’s a learning process for us all, finding that niche in our life to upgrade the quality of our “down-time.”

So, we have rested at the Lord’s campfire. We have been nourished with His presence and His Word. Our strength is built up and our orders are clear. What orders? In Matthew 22:9 and 28:19 Jesus begins with three words, “Go ye therefore.” Now each of these verses has a different purpose, but the general thought is there for us too.

It is now time to put another log on the fire of our heart and be fired up for Him. After our quiet time, we should be strengthened by the fire of His Word to tell others what Jesus has revealed to us. He has a message for those who do not know Him as Savior and Lord. He has said they need to be born again (John 3:7) and we need to tell them.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14

Understand this. The word “preacher” in this verse does not mean we have to be an ordained minister. A preacher is one who proclaims. We, as Christ’s messenger, are to proclaim His message. The message is;

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The Lord has also given us much more to pass on to our brothers and sisters in Christ also. With our fellow Christian(s), each person and circumstance is different. We need to be ready to minister to each other in whatever capacity the Lords leads us. That will be up to Him. We just need to “Go ye therefore.”

So, there is a time to put another log on the fire and relax. There is also a time to put another log on the fire of our heart and get busy. Far too many who claim to be a child of God, have no fire to put a log on. If there ever was a fire, it burned out long ago. Now there is nothing but ashes. Can it ever be started again? I have good news. Yes, it can.

Get alone with Jesus and spend that much needed time with Him. Ask His forgiveness for being lazy, because that’s what it is, and ask Him to help you get that fire going in your soul for Him and for others He leads you to. He will, and you will not be alone. He will be with you every step.

Grant Phillips

Turkey Bowl

Turkey Bowl
by Jack Watt

Some 5 or 6 years ago or maybe longer, while my wife was out-of-town for Thanksgiving, a friend whom I shall call Pete called and asked if I wanted to try a new sport he had just invented. The bells and whistles that sounded in my head should have warned me that his statement was the makings of something painful, illegal or worse… Something I might totally regret later on. Let me start by first introducing Pete.

Pete, not his real name is the type of guy every group of men need in their brotherhood. He is used to sustain some type of manhood remembrance when said brotherhood men are married. He is the one each one of us takes turns inviting to Thanksgiving each year, but insist he brings nothing per your wife instructions.
Pete is the most likeable guy, normally carries the weight of 265-300 with a height of 6′ 3″. He was the guard and tackle on the school football team. A heart as big as his body but brains as small as a chicken and that bring me back to my story about ”Bowling with turkey’s”.

We had an early blast of cold air so anything you pull out of the freezer would stay frozen or at least cold for sometime if it was outside. When I questioned Pete as to his new sport, he just claimed it was great and to come over. Again I hear the big bells and loud horns blasting in my head. “OK, I’m free for a few hours” I replied once again toning out the warning signs.
I live in the country and Pete lives in town. His house sets on top of a hill that at one time was going to be a big home development, but the company went broke and Pete got the only house built and the only house at the top of the hill. The street or his driveway which he calls it is about 900 yards down to the first intersection or the tee. Across the drive was a large open field that contained briers, stumps and a few tires. Before hanging up, Pete informed me I should park at the bottom of the hill but I better hurry.
Upon arrival, I found out real quick why I was informed to NOT drive up his hill. Pete, I later found out, had allowed his garden hose to run down the hill covering the whole drive with a 1″ layer of ice. Bells, whistles and horns all at the same time.

Lucky the old builders had put in one sidewalk so I had good footing going up. Upon arrival, I did ask him what his plans were if his house caught fire and the Fire Department couldn’t get up the hill. “Never thought of that” he said but he would keep that in mind. You guess it… bells and horns.
“Buddy, this is a blast and I know you are going to enjoy it” Peter shouted. “Watch this!”
Peter took a frozen roasting chicken still in the plastic netting, and with an eagle eye and strong-arm he tossed the chicken down his drive like he was bowling. I was amazed at the speed and distance it traveled. Not for lack of speed but his aim was a little off, it hit the curb about half way down, flew up about 10 feet before hitting a tree 50 feet away. The bells, whistles and horns stopped playing. This was something I could have fun with.
“Is that the only frozen chicken you got?” Hoping he had at least one more, the walk down and back up would quickly turn this sport into work and that would kill it.
“I got one more plus a turkey and some packages of hamburger.”

We tossed the remaining food packets and decided the hamburger was wasteful since they didn’t have the weight to build up speed and to carry them down the hill. Before walking down and retrieving our ammo, we took his trash can, an old lamp and other odd objects we would place point values to as targets. With everything in place, it was decided next trip down we would make an ammo run to the local store.
A 30 gallon plastic trash can stand no chance when hit by a 5 lb frozen chicken traveling at 100 mph. The turkey weighting in at 12.4 lbs would have taken out an armor troop carrier had one been driving by. We made the first run then took off to the store were we acquired three more roasting hens and Pete was set on getting a bigger turkey. (I thought I heard a bell ringing).

Looking at the temperature on the bank clock, it was 28 so we had cool bowling temperature. Back at his house, we watered down the drive keeping in mind that we wanted no bumps. (Can’t remember if he ever told me what is water bill was that month).
Everything was ready and we commenced on bowling. The thrill was there but still it was missing something. Something that is always at the back of your mind, that something your mother always told you NOT to do. Still to this day I can’t remember what it was but I am sure she would have said something.
After 5 turns each, the targets that were hit had become unmarked objects for the trash man. The walk was getting longer each trip so we decided that on our last toss we would leave the ammo for the birds or other critter that happen to be out looking for a meal.

Off subject here: Have you ever noticed that when everything is going right and you get ready to quit, you should have quit the last go around.

We made our last tosses with only the big mommy turkey left. Pete since it was his game, his ammo and his water felt he should make the last toss. I being a gentleman agreed and stood to the side as my friend lined up for the granddaddy toss. His goal was to get enough force behind this bird to send it across the intersection and into the field some 1000 yards away.
Now a man or woman who is trying to beat the world record in turkey tossing (If there is one) needs some heavy encouragement and I was there to give it to him. I built him up to the crowd, the ESPN announcers were in awe. Even the Goodyear blimp was standing by to capture this great… The greatest toss ever!!

STOP: I must tell you that at no time did we ever think about our own safety over each other. Heck I would never have told him to do something that could harm him and Pete is the same way.

So when he said he was going to do the Underarm Windup Pitch Toss, who was I to stop him in his glory?
Looking down the hill, Pete rocked back in his stance and brought the turkey in a full circle with a scream only a rugby player could grunt. As the turkey circled around all the cameras went to slow motion. Each drop of sweat flying off his head was caught on camera for the rerun show. What letters were left on the package could have been read by a 5th grade teacher had she been in the stands, the motion was Slowwwwww. Until the release;
Pete in his deep concentration forgot to take his hand out of the plastic handles. The weight of this big Tom turkey plus the perfect release sent the turkey and Pete down the hill dead center at a speed I never thought possible. It was like a cartoon from the past, frozen turkey ball followed by man.

I stood there is awe. What a remarkable toss, I was waiting for the announcers to come interview me as to why Pete decided to chase the turkey. At the bottom of the hill or at the intersection, the turkey hit the curb than bounce up just missing Pete’s head. Pete had managed to turn just enough to hit the curb with shoulder and not head. Both man and bird didn’t make the longest flight into the next field but had the blimp been there, the film would have made the all time list.
I am hearing bells, whistles, horns and sirens sounding now. I raced down to Pete and found him laid out screaming like a little kid. “Man did you see that” I asked, “Pete you were awesome, you rule” I shouted.
His screaming stopped except for short spurts but a smile came over his face as he tried to ask if I was telling the truth.
“Pete my man, you are the best” I figured I had better lay it on thick, so he could apply that mind over matter stuff. After a few minutes I helped him up and slowly with great pain, I got him up to his house.
By now his arm was turning blue and a very large bruise started appearing on his ribs so it was determined that maybe he should seek out a doctor.
“I can’t move” Pete said. “What” I replied looking at his beat up body and hoping I wouldn’t laugh anymore.
“I can’t move, I’m to sore you are going to have to bring the doctor here.”
“Now Pete, I just can’t go running down to the store and grab a doctor off the shelf.”
“They got’em at the hospital”
“Yes Pete they do and that is where I’m taking you as soon as I figure out how”
Seeing the black and blue on his chest was growing I figured I’d better hurry or poor Pete might not make it.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“Yes sir, my friend is hurt petty bad, I think you better send an ambulance.”
“What is wrong with your friend sir”
“Well, he might have a broken arm and his ribs are looking real bad.”
What is your name sir and are you at 234 High Court?”
“Ahh yes that is right, his name is Pete, Pete Beebe.”
“What happened sir?”
I thought for a second, how can I explain what happen? “Not quite sure really, I think he fell down on some ice and slid down his driveway.”
The 911 operator asked a few more questions than stated an ambulance and the fire department would be there shortly.
Now it turned out, Pete had a couple of broken ribs, a broken wrist and the doctor was worried about a concussion since Pete kept talking about making the best turkey toss.
Sometimes folks you just gotta listen to those bells, whistles and horns.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!