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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lessons From Ruth And From The Life Of Pi

This week I had the good fortune to see the movie, The Life Of Pi. I had read the book a few months earlier and therefore felt okay with seeing the movie. With excellent cinematography, acting and animation, the movie didn't disappoint, however, it couldn't get into the character's viewpoint the way the book does. But what struck me more when I saw the movie was the ending where Pi is relating his story to the narrator. He talks about the time he spent shipwrecked on a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker.

After taking care of the tiger for 227 days while at sea - the main reason being that keeping the tiger alive meant keeping himself alive - the tiger departs with not as much as a backward glance when they finally make it to land. Pi becomes teary as he tells this to the narrator. He says, "After all we'd been through, I never expected him to leave me like that."

I couldn't help contrasting this story with the book of Ruth in the Bible. Ruth, a young Moabitess, accompanies Naomi her mother-in-law to Bethlehem after Ruth's husband dies. This despite the fact that Naomi begs Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, to return to their families and try to make a life for themselves. Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and takes her advice, but Ruth decides to stick with Naomi.

Listen to what she says:  "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest , I will go ; and where thou lodgest , I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" (Ruth 1 : 16) 

Ruth is no Richard Parker. She is in it for the long haul. And as we see from the book, God rewards her for her faithfulness. Are you a Ruth, or a Richard Parker? Do you abandon those who have helped you through the storms when the weather improves? Do you turn your back on them without a backward glance?

Don't be that way. Be faithful. Be consistent. Be reliable. The Bible says, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4 : 2). Faithfulness should extend beyond friendship or marriage; it should extend to God. Are you faithful to God? Do you want to hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant"( Matthew 25 : 21) when you stand before God, or do you want to hear,  "Thou wicked and slothful servant"( v 26) . Begin by being faithful now in little things, in the way you treat others, and God will reward you for your faithfulness. 

Recommended reading

Pick up a copy of my book Women For All Seasons in time for Mother's Day and learn more about Ruth.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What Makes Us Evil?

From the very beginning of the world there was evil.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6 : 5 - 6.

That, to me, is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. To think that God, after making man in His own image and likeness should repent that He had made man. We had become so evil that even our Maker was grieved at our depravity. Can you imagine what He must be saying today? 

In every part of the world men take the time to carefully plot and carry out evil deeds. Here in the US it seems that evil is visiting us more and more frequently. Psychologists and researchers have found that the brain of psychopaths is different from the rest of the population. That there is a deformity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is the seat of emotion. Psychopaths lack emotion. Their actions are cold and calculated and they show little or no remorse for the things they do. 

So where does that leave us? Should we just sit back and say oh, well, these people can't help their actions? Or, is the evil person doomed to stay that way?  Psalm 34 : 14 says, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." If God's word commands us to depart from evil, then it can be done. People who have committed themselves to carrying out evil deeds can have their lives turned around by the grace of God. 

Even researchers agree that children born with a damaged amygdala do not have to grow up to become psychopaths. Criminologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University states,  "We can still help them. We can implement intervention to support and help children and their families, and we should." Another psychologist said, "Biology is not destiny." She said that children do not have to have brain surgery, they can be helped through "social" intervention.

The church is a part of society, isn't it? We can reach out to our youth who may be at risk and pray for them; we can speak to parents and teachers and use the power of the Holy Spirit to help these families.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted . Galatians 6 : 1. 

Ye which are spiritual, that means us, Christians. We are to do our best to restore or help to bring about change in those people. Can we? Will we?  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Holes In The Sidewalk

This week I came across a cute little poem about a person who kept falling into a hole in the sidewalk. The first two times she fell in, she believed she was not to blame. It took her a long time to get out, but the third time she fell in, she realized it was her fault. So when she fell in a fourth time, she got out immediately. After that she walked down a different street.

As I pondered this little poem, I thought, how many times have I fallen into a hole in the sidewalk before I realized I was to blame; that I needed to take a different route. Too many times as Christians we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, hurting ourselves and blaming others.

I don't know what your hole may be. It could be addictions, relationship problems, career failures, financial difficulties, whatever it might be, it's time you took a different route. God may be trying to show you that you are going down the wrong path and the only way to stop falling into that hole is to follow the path He has for your life.
Proverbs 3 : 5 - 6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

If your life seems to lack direction, or you are in a situation that you don't seem able to get out of, pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I need your help. I can't pull myself out of this hole by myself. Father God, I give You my weaknesses and my failures and surrender all to your will. From this day on, I will walk in your way and follow your direction for my life, in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Can You Wait On God?

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run , and not be weary ; and they shall walk , and not faint  - Isaiah 40 : 31.

Do you find yourself impatient at times for God to answer your prayers? How anxious will you get when your loved one is ill and you send for someone you know can help, and that person doesn't show up? Worse yet, your loved one dies and the person you sent for still hasn't come. But then you tell yourself it doesn't matter now anyway. He's already dead. Such was the position of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus was their good friend. He often stayed at their house whenever He passed through Bethany. He partook of their hospitality, and He seemed to love them. He'd healed many others, surely He could heal their brother. But it wasn't until Lazarus had been dead four days that Jesus showed up.

Can you relate? Your situation may not be as bad as having a loved one die, but you may be praying and expecting God to answer your prayers and He doesn't seem to be listening. Has He forgotten you? No. In the same way He didn't forget His friends in Bethany, He has not forgotten you. He knows what He is doing. 

  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55: 8 - 9.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:- Ecclesiastes 3 : 1

But when the fulness of the time was come , God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law - Galatians 4 : 4 

God does things according to His timing, not ours, and His timing is always best.  Just wait on Him.