The King’s Servant

cistern

Recently, a really heroic act was posted on the internet showing four men rescuing an elderly woman from a burning car. They each take on a frightening moment, risking their very lives, to save another human being.  Just a few weeks prior to this, a police officer performed a similar deed by rescuing a young man from a burning vehicle.  I truly believe that if we looked hard enough, we would see these acts of unselfish charity performed every day amongst people who cherish and honor human life.  I still remember one of the most remarkable acts of love for fellow human beings.  It was the day after my birthday, January 13, 1982, when an Air Florida 737 crashed into the Potomac river in Washington D.C., killing 72 of the 79 souls aboard and 5 people in vehicles on the bridge it struck before entering the river. One of the seven passengers who survived the crash was Arland Williams. Known as the “sixth passenger,” Williams survived the crash, and passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. He ended up being the only plane passenger to die from drowning.  John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

                In the days just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah was arrested and brought before King Zedekiah.  Zedekiah implored Jeremiah to tell him of God’s vision for Jerusalem.  Jeremiah tells him all that will befall him and all the inhabitants of the city. At first Zedekiah does nothing to Jeremiah. However, at the bequest of his evil councilors, Zedekiah allows Jeremiah to be lowered into a gloomy cistern that has no water save for a deep, thick mire of mud. Jer 38:6  So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.  How horrible and frightening this must have been for the man of God,  to be treated in such ill fashion, especially after proclaiming the truth to the King who requested it.  Jeremiah would at some point later recall this experience as we read of it in Lam. 3:52-55  “I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause;  (53)  they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me;  (54)  water closed over my head; I said, ‘I am lost.’  (55)  “I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit.

                With the Babylonians at the very gates of the city and scarcely no food to be found, what doom it must have been for Jeremiah, literally buried alive in mire, left to die a slow and agonizing death.  Who would take such a risk to save him, when there was no time but to even save oneself from the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar?  However, we read of a brave soul, whose name is Ebed-melech, the Ethopian, a eunuch who served in the court of King Zedekiah.   Ebed-melech left the palace and sought out the king and boldly approached him, pleading for the life of Jeremiah. He even went so far as to proclaim that the action taken against Jeremiah was evil and they must not let him die in that horrible place.  Zedekiah allowed Ebed to rescue Jeremiah and authorized men to help in the effort.  Because of his bravery and trust in God, Ebed-melech is also spared from the impending doom of Jerusalem.  Jer. 39:16-18 “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day.  (17)  But I will deliver you on that day, declares the LORD, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.  (18)  For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.'”

                The four men who rescued the woman from the burning car said they were not heroes.  They each proclaimed they were only doing what they hoped any human being would have done for them.

                There are plenty of humans around us who are deep in the mires of life, seemingly helpless in a pit of despair and gloom.  Maybe we should, like Ebed-melech, trust in the Lord, and help raise them out of their abyss.  We, too, will then be spared from the wrath to come.

 

Darryl Fuller.

Bored?

sleeping-in-church

When Jesus walked into the Temple Courtyard in John 2:13-21 the sight of marketers selling their goods on sacred ground offended the Son of God to the point of a rare display of His righteous anger.  The gospel account says he made a whip of cords and then drove them out of the temple, including the animals. The very fact that he had to make the whip demonstrates that Jesus was not acting from hysterical rage, but was in fact planning and implementing His planned cleansing of the temple.  The filth that had become prevalent in the temple during Jesus’ time on Earth was about to end.  We are reminded in scripture that Jesus’ trips to the temple for the Passover Feast were very much an annual event (Luke 2:41). It is fairly safe to assume that Jesus had observed this wicked display of irreverence in His Father’s house for some quarter of a century. This was the first of other cleansings, including the last by Jesus on the very day of His triumphal entry in Matt. 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19.  The Gospels therefore, record Jesus’ first Passover after he began His ministry, in which He cleanses the Temple and His last Passover in which He cleanses it again.  John remembers this event by stating in John 2:17  His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  If only we had such zeal!

There doesn’t seem to be much zeal for anything anymore.  I find myself bored with many things that at one time I was very passionate about.  “The Olympics,”  I think, “Were better when we were the underdog and it was a spectacle to cheer against the former Soviet Union and East Germany teams.”  It’s become boring!  “The Indianapolis 500 was greater and more enjoyable when Jackie Stewart and Jim McKay covered it and the likes of A.J. Foyt, Bobby and Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford ruled the course.”  Now I don’t even care to see who wins through a 1-minute video byte on the internet. Boring!  Presidential race? Ho Hum.  Rockets flying into space? Yawn.  Not just speaking for myself, but I believe a lot of people have become bored with things that we should be passionate about, especially with elections that have a great deal of bearing upon our very lives.  There should be passion for our country and its history.  There should be enthusiasm for our local, state and federal offices.  We spend all of our energy and drive on entertainment and football, and we have nothing left to offer in any other arena, especially our homes, schools and most sadly, the house of God!

What has happened to our desire and love to be with God’s people and in God’s house?  It is amazing to listen to older church members recall the energy in gospel meetings, that lasted two weeks!  There used to be great zeal in coming to hear God’s word proclaimed for hours each night, in sweltering heat, on hard, wooden, fold out chairs.  We now have great comforts like air-conditioning, plush pews, good lighting, visually stimulating Power Points, good sound systems and yet we’re bored.  For zeal of God’s house are we consumed?

What has happened to our zeal for sharing time with one another?  Where is our determination to learn God’s word and share in that learning with others?  Where is our enthusiasm to be at every service and at every service on time?  Where is the heart-pounding feeling of singing out songs of praise to God, with everything we’ve got?   Is going to services so boring that we can’t tear ourselves away from work, television, playing,  sleeping to be there for only 4 hours a week?  Where is our deep commitment to speak boldly the word of God and bend back the ears of the naysayers, scoffers and cynics?   Where is the burning consumption for service in the kingdom of God?

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in His last few years of life speaks loud and clear.  He cared deeply about His Father’s house!  It was the most important thing to Him and He longs for us to care that deeply, too.   Going to God’s house (His church) is a great and honorable privilege.  He died so that we could.   We honor Him and show great zeal for His house when we, too, drive the thieves out of our hearts and out of His temple (2 Cor.6:16-18).  Then it may be said of us; “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

 

Darryl Fuller

Blind leading the Blind

 

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I’m often amused and perplexed when I see individuals in the mall or Wal-Mart, dressed as if they were still five year olds, putting on the first thing from the floor of their closet and feeling quite pleased with how they look.  My first thought that jumps into my brain, “Did you look in the mirror before you left the house?”  Perhaps they do look. After all, most humans stop to look, and if what they see is OK, maybe they even smile as their brain tells them, “Wow! You look marvelous!”  After all, why shouldn’t a 70-year-old woman wear the same hot pink, skin tight leotard that the teenage girls do?  The moral question here is not immodesty (which is off the chart), but blind foolishness.

Blindness to one’s wrongs, howbeit dress of the body or dress of the soul, is nothing new.  Matter of fact, it is one of the main reasons Jesus came into this world.  Luke 4:18-19   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, (19)   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” All of Jesus’ miracles involving the blind were to recover their visible sight. However, on one occasion, Jesus used the miracle to promote a point regarding our   spiritual blindness (John 9:1-41).  Here are the facts in this event: 1) A man was blind from birth. 2) Jesus gave the man his sight. 3) Some of the Pharisees (who couldn’t actually see) questioned and scoffed at the man, his family and Jesus for doing a good deed on the Sabbath. 4) Jesus condemned their blind and stubborn foolishness. John 9:39-41   Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (40)  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”  (41)  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

We live in a world today where rebellion and ignorance are applauded.  There are few boundaries or absolutes.  Sinful activity and wrong behavior are excused with sympathy that they are the result of a disease, an unsavory childhood, poor environment, racial prejudices, or social injustices.  Love says, “You’re wrong. Your behavior is sinful. Change, repent and you’ll be accepted.”  Blindness says, “You’re not wrong. Your behavior is acceptable. You don’t need to change. They must accept you or they are haters and bigots.”  Love is trying to help the blind before they go off the cliff.  The blind are leading the blind to the cliff and pushing them off. Luke 6:39   He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

 We somehow must get through to those who are blind to their own destruction.  How can we make them see that the path they are being led down is hopeless?  Here is the problem…the blind think they can see.  They’ve accepted their course and are quite satisfied to pursue its end.  “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. Lk.9:41.   Sometimes all the preaching and teaching will not suffice.  God even tells us that there comes a time when you will not convince a person who is blind, that they are blind.  Luke 16:28-31 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’   But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

What we can do, is first pray and seek that God turns their heart.  With God all things are possible and the prayers of a righteous person are very effective (James 5:16).

Second, we need to live quiet and righteous lives.  Many of those who have wandered down the wrong path have, years later, looked across the way to those who were living right and opened their eyes.  The Prodigal Son said ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. Luke 15:17-18.

 

A little dark spot on the Sun

Courtesy NASA archives

Courtesy NASA archives

The first telescope I ever had was a K-Mart Focal-24”. I remember opening the box and discovered a small disk lens that had “Sun-Filter” stamped around the edge.  I had been warned by the sales clerk, my mother, my father and my grandmother repeatedly; “DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! What a dilemma!  The very first thing I wanted to do was now look at the sun. With some persuasion and assurances from the manufacturers paperwork that the Sun-filter was indeed safe to use, I quickly assembled my new telescope and pointed towards the biggest star in the sky.  The filter lens was extremely thick with a deep green tint. It works in the same manner as a welder’s masks, which protects their eyes from blinding ultraviolet light. It also now reminds me of the veil that Moses must have worn to protect the children of Israel from the radiant glow of God reflected off Moses face. (Ex.34:33-35; 2 Cor.3:13) With the filter in I turned my attention to the sun and gazed with great wonderment at a large number of sunspots that covered the disk of the Sun. They are the first things that I had ever observed in the heavens with the aid of a telescope. Dark irregular shapes on a seemly perfect bright round disk. I have, at times, contemplated this as a unique comparison of ourselves (dark and irregular) swallowed up by the greatness of our Father (bright and perfect).

Upon closer examination there are some even more curious spiritual comparisons we can draw from the phenomena of sunspots. Turns out, sunspots are not really dark, they’re only perceived that way because of where there at; on the surface of the brightest thing in the sky – our Sun.  If you were to take these huge spots off the Sun and isolate them away from the glare of the sun, they would actual be much brighter than a full moon.

Compared to God, we appear dark and void. However, we are not darkness, but light, unless we choose to embrace the darkness. Luke 11:35-36 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. (36)  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”  Turns out sunspots are fighting for the light.  As has been observed, sunspots eventual wane and grow brighter as the surrounding surface of the sun overtakes the magnetic flux which creates the cooler sunspot.  Emptiness is filled with energy and substance, darkness is swallowed up by light.

Sunspots are cooler than the surrounding surface of the sun. By comparison, Sunspots average 5000 F and the surrounding surface of the Sun is 10000 F.  What you’re actually looking at is more of a deep hole of cooler energy falling as hotter energy is rising, or in the case of the Sun, bubbling to the surface.  On earth, this plays out as a tornado or hurricane. Sunspots are therefore gigantic vortex’s or magnetic storms.  As on earth, storms are temporary and do not last long (comparatively speaking), they falter and give way to the greater energy which produced them.  We often think of storms as some wicked rebellion against nature, bent on destroying the calm.  Truth is, as has been observed through the magnitude of sunspots, storms are craving equilibrium or a better way of putting it; Peace!  This is actually the status of humans in the world that God created.  We are constantly struggling to find our way or come to some peace. The result of this struggle to find peace are millions and millions of little storms.  These storms have been ragging from day one and God has provided us the equilibrium or Peace.  John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Submitting to the will of God is the quickest way of getting through the storm. Let Him have His way with you! Then you’ll no longer be a sunspot, but a part of His Glorious Son.

 

Darryl Fuller

Real problems

puppy licking catI’ve recently (well, it seems like all the time) been dealing with plumbing problems.  Interestingly enough, I’ve become, in my mind, rather good at something I loathe. Getting two pieces of pipe glued together is, after all, fairly simple; even a child can perform such a task. Keeping them from leaking however, is a different tale and one that can reduce the brightest of minds into squalling puddles of tears. Truthfully though, plumbing, a problem? Hardly! An annoyance maybe, but one should never classify leakiness with bleakness. Chicken Little proclaimed, “The sky is falling”, not “My coop is sinking.”  There are plenty of real problems in the world and plenty of people dealing with serious issues.  However, chances are good that what we perceive to be problems in our lives are not really problems at all.

In contrast consider some of the faithful people of God in the Old Testament. Now there were some folks that were dealing with tough problems! Heb 11:35-38  Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–   of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

 Still feeling poorly? Check out the problems of the Apostles. 1Co 4:11-13 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,  (12)  and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; (13) when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

We spend too much time worrying with the appearance of our homes and yards.  When we have friends and family over, we’re self-conscious  of the lack of room.  We work incessantly over the mortgage payment, the insurance premium, garbage bill, utility cost, security issues and general over-all maintenance.  We build too, add on, remodel, repaint, re-carpet, all because we believe that our homes are daily problems that must be dealt with.  Listen to Jesus; Mat 8:20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” If we have a safe place to sleep with walls and a roof, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, we don’t have a problem!

 I read in the news yesterday, of a woman in Illinois who was just sentenced to four years in prison for the manslaughter of her adopted child who had cerebral palsy.  This woman has ovarian cancer and on the morning she attempted to kill herself and did kill her child, she was suffering with extraordinary pain.  She had lost control of her faculties, soiling her bed, wrought with fever, unable to care for her child who was in an even worse predicament, and she did the unthinkable.  She wanted to end the pain for herself and could not bear the thought of her child left helpless. To her dismay, she lived! Now she will spend her remaining years, in prison, suffering, consumed with guilt and cancer with no child to comfort, care and love. Now, she is someone with a problem.

If we have Christ in our lives (Col.3:3), we have no problems. If we have been cleansed from the stain of sin by His blood, we have no problems.  If we have been added to His church through baptism (Acts 2:38-41, Rom.6:1-6), we have no problems.  If we are walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7), we have no problems. If we live and breathe and carry s the hope of eternity with Christ (1 Tim.4:10), we have no problems.

                My friend, if you’re not in Christ and Christ is not in you; you’ve got a real problem!

Darryl Fuller

Elliptical Perfection

ea436109In 1605, Johannes Kepler wrote a thesis called  Astronomia NovaI(New Astronomy) which revolutionized the way the universe would forever be perceived.  This work, along with three other papers he wrote,culminatedin Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687), in which Newton derived from Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, a force-based theory of universal gravitation.   Basically, against the popularly held theory of both the Lutheran Church and scientists of that day, Kepler proposed that the planets moved in elliptical orbits around the sun, rather than perfect circles.  Contrary to popular beliefs held by the scientific community today, propagated by men such as Carl Sagan, Kepler was not an enemy of the Church as much as he was ridiculed by the scientists of his day.  Kepler wrote extensively to show that his theory was corroborated by Scriptures.  He spent many long, sleepless hours observing the movement of the planets, collecting the data, and applying the data to his three mathematical laws. In order for his theories to work however, he had to show that the Sun was the center of the Solar System and that the planets, including Earth, revolved around it.  He was a deep believer in God and a very faithful follower of the Luthern church.  He believed that the universe itself was an image of God, with the Sun corresponding to the Father, the stellar sphere to the Son, and the intervening space between to the Holy Spirit. His first manuscript of Mysterium contained an extensive chapter reconciling heliocentrism with biblical passages that seemed to support geocentrism.  His famous work Harmonies of the World (in Latin, Harmonices Mundi) begins:

Commence a sacred discourse, a most true hymn to God the Founder, and I judge it to be piety, not to sacrifice many hecatombs of bulls to Him and to burn incense of innumerable perfumes and cassia, but first to learn myself, and afterwards to teach others too, how great He is in wisdom, how great in power, and of  what sort in goodness.

At the end, Kepler concludes:

Purposely I break off the dream and the very vast speculation, merely crying out with the royal Psalmist: Great is our Lord and great His virtue and of His wisdom there is no number: praise Him, ye heavens, praise Him, ye sun, moon, and planets, use every sense for perceiving, every tongue for declaring your Creator…to Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.

Johannes Kepler did not need the universe to look perfect for his faith to grow, he needed only to marvel at its complex, mathematical precision.

Like the planets, which need not be in a perfect circle to be perfect, God’s church is a marvelous design of perfection. Consider its perfection:

Christ is the head of this church

Heb.  5:8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  (9)  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

Col. 1:17-18  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  (18)  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

 As with this election year, we’re all looking for that perfect leader, the head of our government that will lead us, have a vision for us, fight for us, die for us! Well, we’re not going to get that this year, or any year for that matter.  The only perfect leader, is the head of His perfect church; Christ!  However, consider; He was poor, unseemly, a carpenter, a Nazarene, considered by his peers as a bastard child, died a thieves’ death.  He was definitely not a perfect circle by the way we look and judge perfection, but His elliptical life worked out to perfection for us all.

 The laws of this church are perfect

2Ti 3:16-17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  (17)  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The laws of this perfect church do not have to be revised or changed year after year. All that was recorded for us, 2000 years ago, is still as relevant today.  In just over 200 years our United States Constitution with its original 10 amendments has grown to 27 amendments. There are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. In fact, our entire criminal code has become a leviathan unto itself. In 2003, there were only 4,000 offences that carried criminal penalties. By 2013, that number had grown by 21 percent to 4,850. The code has become so big, that the Congressional Research Service and the American Bar Association simply do not have enough staff to adequately categorize every law we have on the books.  The gospel may be archaic and elliptical to many, but it’s God’s perfect law for us. (James 1:25)

This church is built on the perfect foundation

Mat 16:18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

There are scarcely any remaining intact structures that were built 2000 years ago. They’ve succumbed to wars, earthquakes, destruction, or other natural and man-made causes, but the church Jesus built still stands. Many have tried to destroy it, but as Christ predicted, Satan himself will fail to bring down that which is built on the perfect foundation.

This church has the perfect system of worship.

John 4:24  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

From the very 1st century, man has tried to perfect what he perceived was imperfection, namely the way the church worshipped God.  Surely, man thought, that It must be bigger, louder, more opulent, more pious, a display of greater reverence.  He has added creeds, dress, musical instruments, lofty structures, flamboyant festivals, meticulous and boring rituals. He has strived for the “spirit” and left the “truth”.  However, we should marvel at worship in those first few waking moments of the church.  Consider:  Act 2:42-43 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  (43)  And awe came upon every soul…Perfect worship is prayer and fellowship, devotion to God’s word and breaking bread.  When man followed the letter of the law (truth), man was in awe! (spirit).

This church has a perfect way of entrance.

Act 2:41  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

No test, no entrance exam, no pre-qualification period, no initiation ritual, no huge down payment or signing away your wealth, no health screening.  Just a willingness to listen and the heart to obey.

If you’re looking for perfection in an imperfect world, consider the elliptical orbit of the church of our savior, Jesus Christ.   Perfection by design.

Darryl Fuller

 

From the very 1st century, man has tried to perfect what he

Home away from Home

my home

My Home In Kathleen, Florida from 1968 to 1983

Bill Bryson in his book Home Town Reunion,  says there are three things that will never happen; you’ll never be able to pay the debt you owe, you’ll never get a waiter to see you until he or she wants too, and you’ll never be able to go home again. In some regards he’s right about all three, but I find myself puzzling over going home again. Every time I would visit my parents in Florida, I always had this sense that I was going home. After all, that’s where I grew up and became who I am. That’s where I played and went to school, where I got my first job and met my lovely wife. It’s where I learned to be a Christian and was baptized, where my parents and my Grandparents lived, worshipped and planted their roots.

My parents and I lived in a modest home in the rural community called Kathleen, just 10 miles north of Lakeland. My father’s parents lived next door and this it seemed for a time would always be home.  There were a lot of great memories with that home.  I had plenty of room to ride motorcycles, play football and baseball.  Kid’s from the neighborhood would all come over and we would get a baseball or football game up.  I camped outside in the yard with my friends, threw the Frisbee with mom and dad, had picnics with brethren from church in that yard and yes every Saturday morning I had to mow all that grass. I was blessed to have many wonderful years in that which I called home for some 16 years. Recently, I drove by the home and stopped across the street to reminisce. Home, was gone! Since I left some 30 years ago, Kathleen has grown 10 times since. The once slow two lane road has now given way to a four lane congested highway.  The 80 acres of orange grove across the road from us is now all gone, replaced with hundreds of homes.  The farm and pasture land behind us, gone, replaced with hundreds of homes. The house I grew up in, gone, replaced with a four lane road.  The memories are still fresh in my mind, the place where I had once lived was still there, but the essence of home, the house with it’s sounds and smells, the placement of furniture, the feel of the carpet in my room and the bed where I slept, the images of mom and dad, grandma and grandpa sitting in the living room and watching man first set foot on the moon, the sound of mom calling us for dinner, or dad coming home early enough to throw the baseball or shoot baskets with me, that home was forever gone. Yep, you can never go home again!

Abraham must have felt that way at times.  In his old age he sent his servant back to his homeland to procure a wife for Issac, Gen 24:4   go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Even though he had just bought land and buried Sarah in the cave of Machpelah, and that God had promised him this would be his land, home, would forever be a place that he couldn’t or his children couldn’t return too. Gen 24:6-7  Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there.   The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.

Jacob couldn’t go back home either. When, at the end of his life, he somewhat longed for it Gen 48:7  As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” His last 17 years would be spent in Egypt. Home for Jacob was where he buried Rachel. You may feel great sympathy for Leah and her unfortunate circumstance but Jacob’s true love was Rachel and the above verse rings with sadness and a fore longing for a time and place that he called home but could not return.

It appears that the bible is full of stories that hit home (no pun intended) the fact that God’s children are wanders and that home is elusive.  Moses home had two major changes, from Egypt to Midian, then wherever they stopped to set up a tent in the wilderness.  David lived in his father’s house near Bethlehem for awhile then he lived in the wilderness, then he lived in the land of the Philistines, then he lived in the Negev and the wilderness again.  Even when he was King, his residence changed from Hebron to Jerusalem, to across the Jordan river, and back to Jerusalem again. Where or what did David consider home? Most of the prophets wandered from city to city never really settling down to a place called home. Ezekiel longed for a far away home while in exile in Babylon.  Daniel everyday went into his room, opened his window towards Jerusalem to the west, and prayed to God.  Do you think in the 70 years he spent in Babylon that he may have prayed once or twice, “God could I go home?”

Even our Lord and Savior had a place that was called home. For some 27 or 28 years Jesus grew up on the outskirts of what was once the nation of Israel, a small and somewhat beguiled and rejected place called Nazareth.(see John 1:46)  He returned there one day after he had moved away to Capernaum (Matt.4:13) and entered the Synagogue to teach his fellow Nazarenes. He taught a lesson about acceptance and God’s favor towards those not Israelites’. He even boldly predicted their next move Luk 4:24  And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. Shortly thereafter his hometown folks carried Him to the cliff there in Nazareth and started to throw him over. The truth has that effect on some people, even in your old hometown. Yep! You really can’t go home again, it’s never ever going to be the same.

Of course home is really never a constant reliable place that will forever stay the same.  It changes as much as we change. Home for me is of course here, in sweet home Alabama. It’s where I choose to come and live and marry my wife. It’s where I witnessed my kids grow up and play and go to school and become fine young adults. It’s where a whole new set of memories and images have been etched into a different part of my being. In time this too may very well change, sad as that may be, but one never really knows where home will be tomorrow. And so God’s word truthfully demonstrates to us all, that home, is really nowhere to be found hear on this earth, in this plane of existence. Our true home is in heaven. That’s home. Abraham spent 75 years living in what was considered his earthly home (Ur of the Chaldees) but he truly understood where his real home was at, Heb 11:8-10  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.   By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.   

There are in some places and over the course of human history been that which could be considered homes. On our trip to England a few  years ago, we saw many such places. Castles built centuries before and in some extreme circumstances still occupied by the descendants of those far away families. But even in “merry ole England” these are rare and hard to come by. Prehaps your blessed enough to live on a home that has been in your family for many generations. The truth is that rather you have a place you can truly call home or not, the real homeland waits.

Jesus tells us of such a home in John 14:1-3  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

 Paul stated it this way2Cor. 5:1 and 8   For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2Co 5:8  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

We can call this place home or that place home. We can visit our old home, if it’s still there,  and relieve the past. We can make new homes with new memories to relieve over and over again. But let us always remember and frame our lives around this simple and everlasting truth: home is not here! It awaits for us over there, and that’s a home I can go back too.

Darryl Fuller

Political Potluck

200187871-002Watching one too many debates these past few months has left a bitter taste in my mouth and a dull thud within my cranium.  The main course is nothing more than grandstanding served with a gravy of dishonorable bickering and a side dish of tattle-tailing. I’m starving for substantive dialogue and hoping that the dessert tray will at least have some kind of humble pie. In years past, opponents from different parties could conduct a respectful and honorable debate. They referred to one another as the “loyal opposition”. Now, they will kill one another within their own party before they can even begin the struggle with the opposition.  This of course, is not relegated just to the political arena, it is a reflection of America in general. Truth is, we’re fed up with one another, even our own slices out of the same loaf of bread.

What did we expect, when we are constantly in pursuit of the well-being of “Me”?  Look at the feast of “Me”!  We “tweet” about who I’m with, what I think, how I look, how sad I am, how happy I am, how lonely I am, how mad I am, etc.  We post on Facebook the accomplishments of my day, my awards, pictures of myself, my family, my friends, my job, my pets, my hobbies, my children, my cooking…. boring!  We go out to eat and no one is engaging in conversation…except with their phone. Conversation with another human being? No! That would mean that someone would have to listen.  It’s a world economy driven by the commodity of “Me”.  Marketers, advertisers, media, government all would rather I care about myself and no other.  It’s not a new phenomenon, but one that unfortunately arises when a society cares little if nothing for God.  God warned us about it exhaustively throughout scripture.

Exhibited in Christian lives should be the command from Paul in the Philippian letter.  Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Imagine if all the candidates in this upcoming election displayed that tough, character. Well, the choice would be just as tough, but now, for a good reason.  Imagine if everyone displayed that character in their lives.  You would immediately solve health care issues, incarceration issues, bankruptcy, debt, child welfare, immigration, and race relations just to name a few.

One of our problems today is a lust for winning! No matter the cost. We are a highly competitive society. It begs this question: What’s more important winning or honor?  We expel much to “outdo” or “one-up” each other.  The Bible teaches otherwise.  Rom 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  In the Far east, especially Japan and China, bowing to one another is not just a courtesy, it is a way of showing honor and respect.  In our country and most of the western world, a hand-shake is the equivalent.  However, I find it to be more of a courtesy and less of a show of honor or respect.  Matter of fact, we’re somewhat competitive in this as well.  How often have you shaken someone’s hand and they turn your hand down so their hand is on top? They win!  Or they barely grab your hand at all. It’s as if you’re holding a dead fish or a wet rag.  Talk about disrespect!

Of course the worst idea in our world today is to be a servant.  The fact is, we are all servants in some form or fashion.  We serve ourselves pretty good, how come we can’t do the same for others? We serve our house, our car, our education, our vacation, our children our pets but don’t dare refer to me as a servant or slave.  “We’ve not been a slave to any man”, said the Jews to Jesus in John 8. In truth they’d been slaves to the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Midianites, the Arameans(Syrians), the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and were indeed slaves to the Romans as they uttered these words.  Jesus said it best;  Matt.20:26-28 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

No matter what the candidates and the world decide to do, let us begin by choosing to serve and honor our fellow man.

Darryl Fuller

The Way to Heaven

The-Way-To-GodIf you Google “How do I get to Heaven?” on your search browser, you’ll get a plethora of answers. As you scan through these various answers, you’ll find a few to be true,  however the majority are wrong.  How, you say, do I know which is correct and which is wrong? The answer is simple!  The Word of God maps out the way to Heaven, free to any who will read and follow His directions.

 Hundreds of years before the way of salvation was opened, God, through the prophet Isaiah, said this: Isa 35:8  And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.  So plain would this way be that even a fool could find and walk it.

 Then, the builder of this path proclaimed in Mat 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (14)  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  The way to Heaven is not a six lane highway.  If you think or listen to those who teach that entrance to Heaven is broad, inclusive, tolerant, STOP!  Get off that highway! Its destination is doom. The call is not bigotry! It is for all.  The truth is, few are willing to obey God’s commands (narrow and hard).

 What then is the way to Heaven? Let us look at the map (The Bible), and follow the directions carefully.  Jesus, first of all, directed us to follow Him.  He leads the way to Heaven. John 14:4-6  And you know the way to where I am going.” (5)  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  (6)  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  Gandhi is not the way. Nor is Mohammed, Buddha, Tao, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Joseph Smith, Joel Olsteen, or Darryl Fuller.  You can only get to Heaven by following these men, IF these men are following Christ. ( 1 Cor.4:15-16; 11:1).

To go on the way or path to Heaven, one must first come to it.  The path may be narrow and difficult, but it is plain and available for all to find, but we must be interested in finding it and then, desire to get on it.  Consider what Jesus said in John 6:44-45  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (45)  It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.  The way to Heaven is preceded by teaching or learning. Before the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, he had to know for what reason.  (Acts 8:30-31).  God’s intention is that all men be saved.  He desires that all of His creation come to accept Him (2 Pet.3:9).  This is why the Lord commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. (Matt.28:18-20) He is calling us to come to the path.

                Entrance, therefore, to the path is simple.  The toll was paid  by Christ.  We do not need to pay any price.  We need only to obey His voice and follow his commands.  When the people on the day of Pentecost learned of their error, they asked; “What do we do?’  Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38. If one really wanted to know the way to Heaven, they would read and pay careful attention to all the conversions in the book of Acts.  Entrance to the path to God is through the act of baptism!  The way to Heaven is through the spiritual death and burial of baptism. (Rom.6, Gal.3:27; Col.2:12).

                The way to Heaven or path is in reality Christ.  We could not bridge that gap, nor pave a way.  He was the only one that could do that and He did by giving his life to pay our way.  Entrance to Heaven is through Him.  He is the ark or vessel that will take us to Heaven. His body is the church (Eph.1:22-23). We gain entrance to that body through baptism (1 Cor.12:13).

                Heed His calling, come to the path.  Listen to His voice and obey His instructions.  Gain entrance to the vehicle that will take you to Heaven, Christ’s body, the church.  The ticket to get in is baptism for the remission of your sins.  Hurry, the departing time is near! Don’t wait!

 Darryl Fuller

The Sky is Falling

skyfallingI just pulled myself away from the morning news (all of it).  Apparently, the sky is falling!  It must be true because I looked out the window of my office and across the street I saw the chickens running around hysterically.  Indeed, some days, according to the prophets of doom (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BBC, PBS, etc.), the world does appear to be crumbling away. It is like some scene from an Irwin Allen movie, where all is teetering on the brink of annihilation, yet the heroine’s hair is just fine and her mascara is not running.  The Dow Jones is down 300 points! Quick get to the bank!  The North Koreans have an H-Bomb! Time to build that bomb shelter. The President’s going to do away with the first amendment!  I better go buy all the guns and ammo I can get my hands on!

Fortunately, thanks to our Lord, we can ponder the mass embrace of the apocalypse for a moment and with a great sigh of relief, whew!, rest in the assurances of Him. Consider for a moment, what actually holds everything together.  Col 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  (17)  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  It’s not a bad thing to plan or prepare for upheaval.  It’s not a sin to consider self-preservation.  However, we should remember that we are not in control.  We do not, contrary to popular opinion, control the world we live in or its outcome.  We do however, control our choices.  And with this power of choice, it would seem prudent and wise to cling and hold on to the one Rock that will not be destroyed, Christ.  If perhaps you’re wondering how we cannot be bothered or concerned about the fate of our country or world, the answer is easy. We tie our anchor to the Rock that will not move.  Have you done this?

 I have been splitting wood by hand this winter, mainly because it’s good exercise, and also because it’s a good form of meditation.  If you’re frustrated and mad just take it out on a good hard hickory or oak log.  Most of the wood that I’ve cut down over the year is good and dry, thus easy to split.  I’ve got one tree however, that has retained its moisture and has proven difficult to split.  I chopped on one of the logs for a good twenty minutes the other day to no avail. It just bounced off, unable to penetrate and create a fracture.  Finally, I gave up, rolled it off the stump, put a dry log on and within a few minutes had that log split up into 16 nice wedges. The wet wood was bound together with moisture. The wet wood is a good illustration of being held together.  In the same way, if Christ abides in us and we in Christ, we are bound by Him.  He is the force, the “it factor”, that holds us together. Eph 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  (16)  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

                Ultimately, we can with all confidence and assurance, not worry about the political races, the threat of ISIS or North Korea, the dip in the stock market, or the chaos that is engulfing the world is because when we are baptized, we are added to the church (Acts 2:41). The church that Christ died for and purchased with His own blood! (Eph.2:13, 1 Pet.1:18-19).  We are held together with the other saints by Christ who is the head of His church (Col.1:18).  We are on the ark (church), held together by mortar and pitch (Christ), ready to ride safely through the torrent of death (2 Pet.2).  Bold and Confident, you say? Only in Christ!  Are you?

Darryl Fuller