And the Ducks Go By

  One of the songs which we used to sing at Bible Camp is entitled, “And the Ducks Go By.”  At first glance it may seem to be “just a fun camp song,” but I have been thinking about the words lately in light of all the crazy events in the world and have realized that there is a very biblical message in this song. Here are the words. See what you think.
            “And the ducks go by (quack, quack, quack, quack)–
            He made the birds
            He made the bees, all of the flowers and all of the trees.
            Don’t you see? He made you and me.
            (Chorus)… And the ducks go by (quack, quack, quack, quack)–
                            And things go up, and things go down,
                            And the world goes around, and around and around,
                            And God lives on.
            He’s for you, He’s for me
            He’s going to set His people free.
            Don’t you see?  He made you and me.
            (Chorus)…And the ducks go by (quack, quack, quack, quack)–
                            And things go up, and things go down,
                            And the world goes around, and around and around,
                            And God lives on.”
     As we observe the routine of nature with the changing seasons and the migrating ducks and geese flying overhead, we are reminded that God created everything from the ducks and geese to the bees, flowers and trees, and gave each  very special features with some amazing abilities, but more than that, He made you and me as the crown  of all His creation. Concerning this, the Psalmist wrote: “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! …When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the  moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; What is  man that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man,  that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou hast made him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet…O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!” (Psa. 8:1-8). Later, the Psalmist wrote: “Know that the LORD Himself is God, it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psa. 100:3). 
     And, the God who made us didn’t just wind us up and let us go on our own, forgetting all about us. The God who made us is also for us. The Apostle Paul wrote: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (RO. 8:31).
     Sometimes it may seem like God has forgotten all about His creation—and us—as we view the world scene of war, crime, turmoil, injustice, potential economic collapse, natural calamities, etc. We see things go up and down and the world going around and around…but we know that God lives on. He is the one constant, and He hasn’t lost control or changed His plans. Everything we observe is working toward the climax He has planned. He is not in heaven oblivious to what is going on, nor is He wringing His hands wondering what to do!  Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminds us: “Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no  one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country.  Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isa. 46:8-11).  The Psalmist wrote: “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Psa. 135:6). 
     When the Jews had been ruled by Bablyon for 70 years they began wondering if God had forgotten them or even cared about their plight. God spoke through Jeremiah, the prophet, saying: “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11).  God was going to set them free.  It may seem to us, as it did to the Jews, that God has forgotten the world and us, but be assured, He hasn’t and His plans for us—His own—are for our good and we have hope for the future which nothing and no one can take from us. God has a plan and He is working His plan, and nothing and no one can thwart Him. So, be reminded as the ducks go by and things go up and down and the world goes around and around, that GOD LIVES ON!  And “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Psa. 33:11).
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Anybody need a box of trophies?  While I was pastoring at Three Lakes Bible Church, we acquired numerous trophies from our Three Lakes Christian School drill team and our softball and volleyball teams. We even had a trophy case to display them. After I retired 4 1/2 years ago,  the church decided to eliminate the trophy case and gave us the box of trophies. So, what do we do with them? I also have a box full of medals from my time in high school band playing my French horn in numerous district and state music festivals. I have a few ribbons and trophies from running and tennis as well stashed away somewhere.
     I’m sure you have some trophies, ribbons, awards, etc. too that you have collected from your achievements in sports, speech and drama, 4 H projects, music, hunting, etc.  What do you plan to do with them? Who will get them when you leave this earth? What would they want with them?
    The “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Aaron Presley, sold an estimated one billion records in his short lifetime (he died at age 42 on August 16, 1977). He had 18 number-one hits in his career. He denied himself nothing that money could buy during the glory years. But the entertainment world which had offered Elvis every material and worldly prize, with a mansion full of gold and platinum records hanging side by side to prove it, couldn’t provide the meaning and significance for which his heart ached. So what if RCA gave Elvis a trophy 9 feet tall and designated him as the greatest entertainer of all time? So what if he received gushy letters from the world’s celebrities and had his photo taken with President Nixon and Queen Elizabeth? His life was empty. He sought meaning in star gazing, astrology, numerology, healing and other occult subjects. He joined a world-wide Yoga organization called the “Self-Realization Fellowship.” He experimented with prescription drugs, marijuana and LSD. In spite of all his fame and accolades and trophies, he was miserable and desperately searching for a spiritual awakening that never came. So, on August 16, 1977, Elvis Aaron Presley slipped pathetically into eternity having succumbed to “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” of which the Apostle John warns us in I Jn. 2:15,16.
     Think of the utter insignificance of all the “stuff” Elvis left behind, all the trophies of his accomplishments in music. Oh, it is true that 1//2 million people pay to tour his mansion each year at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee to look at all his “toys” and “trophies” which really only represent how his love for the world and all it offered never brought any peace or purpose to his life. The same is equally true of our lives. So what if we leave a similar legacy to those who come after us? So what if trophies hang on the walls of our last earthly home? Or if powerful and influential people know us? Who cares? It is of no consequence worth mentioning.
     Consider another “king” who also discovered the emptiness of fame and fortune. He lived nearly 3,000 years before “The King of Rock and Roll.” His name was Solomon, the son of King David. He was perhaps the most famous, most glamorous, most powerful and respected king in the history of the world (see II Chr. 9:13,22-28). He became perhaps the wealthiest, wisest king who ever lived, and, like Elvis Presley, Solomon discovered the emptiness of all his acquisitions and fame. We have a book in the Bible which records how Solomon felt about the abundance and prestige he enjoyed. It is the book of Ecclesiastes. As an old man, he had become disillusioned with life. No matter what he acquired or what pleasures he tried, it was all “vanity” (emptiness) and “striving after the wind” (see Eccl. 2:1-20).  Solomon, like Elvis, had wealth to buy anything he wanted and could do anything he wanted to do. But he observed: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). In contrast to Elvis, however, Solomon came back to realize where he had gone astray, as he wrote at the end Ecclesiastes: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep His commandments. because this applies to every person” (Eccl. 12:13). Solomon’s advice was: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (12:1).
     Jesus had some good advice too, given in the greatest sermon ever preached, the “Sermon on the Mount,” recorded for us in Matthew 5-7. He said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also…Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Mt. 6:19-21,33).   As Job in the Old Testament observed, we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out with us when we go. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job. 1:21).  But, as Jesus taught, you can send it on ahead!  You can lay up treasures in heaven by seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. As the Apostle Paul said, as he neared the end of his life—and what a contrast to what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes—“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Tim. 4:7,8).
     There is nothing wrong with trophies, and medals, and awards.  They are indications of our striving for excellence, which, as believers we should always do (Col. 3:23,24), but just remember, they are just “stuff.” They are temporal and will one day all be left behind for someone else to worry about!  How much more important, and lasting it is to faithfully serve our Lord, no matter what earthly accolades come our way, and to strive to hear from Him one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt. 25:21).
             Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Living Out Our Dual Citizenship

  Watching the recent debate among republican presidential candidates moderated by CNBC really brought out the obvious contrast between two world views: one based on secularism and humanism, where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes” (cf Judges 21:25), and one based on biblical values and the Judeo-Christian ethics resulting from making God’s Word the final authority.
     When we become followers of Jesus through faith in His finished work at Calvary, we become citizens of heaven. Paul tells us, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As such, we eagerly await that day when Christ will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (v. 21). But, until that time, as citizens of both heaven and earth, we have to find that balance of “being in the world, but not of the world,” of living out our dual citizenship in a way that is pleasing to God.
      We are told in Scripture that we are “not to be conformed to this world” (Ro. 12:2) and we are also told not to “love the world nor the things in the world, (for) if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15). In regard to our relationships in the world, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness…Therefore ‘come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean’” (II Cor. 6:14-17 cf Isa. 52:11). 
     But we are also sent out into the world as Christ’s Ambassadors to help others be reconciled to Him (II Cor. 5:20).  We are told to be His witnesses to the far corners of the earth, sharing the Gospel, and teaching His Word (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1: 8). Just prior to the crucifixion, Jesus prayed: “I do not ask You to take them (His followers) out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one…As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15-18). So, we have the unique position as citizens of both heaven and earth, of being in submission to the governing authorities (Ro. 13:1-7) while at the same time “seeking first Christ’s kingdom and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33) and “doing all our work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23).  As Jesus put it, we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21).
     Even though we in the United States have a Constitution and government that was established on the basis of Christian principles, we have strayed far from the intent of our Founding Fathers and have become increasingly secular, with a strong anti-Christian bias among the news media, education, entertainment and government. We are seeing believers placed in positions where to stand for their Christian values means they may lose their jobs, business, and even be fined and face jail time. It is happening in business, in the military, in education, in sports, in every walk of life. Organizations such as Alliance Defending Freedom, The American Center for Law and Justice, The Freedom Coalition, and The Family Research Council are facing huge work loads trying to help Christians who are facing persecution for living out their faith.
     Our “dual citizenship” places us in tension where we will have to make some difficult choices. There may be times, as with the bakers and photographers and coaches who have been in the news lately, when we, like Peter and the Apostles, “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and submit to the consequences. We have many examples of that throughout Scripture as well as world history. The tension is increasing today as the end draws near and men are “calling evil good and good evil” (cf Isa. 5:20).
     We are living in a time when “technology is exploding, the media has become extremely biased against Christianity,  popular entertainment relentlessly pushes the envelope, biomedicine stretches ethical boundaries, political issues shift with the polls, and Christian orthodoxy is questioned on every front. The world in which we live is undergoing a major cultural transformation—one leading to a widespread lack of faith, an increase in moral relativism, and a rejection of absolute truth” (Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. in Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America).
     When Christian moral arguments are forbidden entry into the public space, our culture has “decided to violate the clear intention of our Constitution’s framers and to privilege one form of religious discourse over another. That is, we have privileged irreligious religious discourse” over that of Judea-Christian discourse. But, as Dr. Mohler wrote: “How can society deal with ultimate issues if the only people who are genuinely allowed into the discussion are those who believe there is nothing more ultimate than our own existence, our own communal negotiation of moral questions? If ever we reach such a point (and it appears we have), we will have become a civilization not even remotely like the one established by our Founders.”
     Students in our law schools today are being taught “justificatory principle” which states that “any restriction on human conduct must be socially mandated by the political process on purely secular grounds.” Wow, that means Christians’ input is no longer acceptable. What a serious problem that presents: Where do we find adequate rationale for restricting human conduct on purely secular grounds? If we no longer consider God’s Word as our authority, how do we decide if something is right or wrong? Who decides?  How do we decide when human life begins and of what value it is at all stages? By no longer considering absolute truth of right and wrong, we are now living in a “fatal moral fog resulting from those who try to approach ultimate questions with a purely secular world view” (Culture Shift).
     The world is in turmoil, our culture is in a mess. The answer is pretty simple: Repentance and a return to following the Truth, looking to the Bible as our final source of faith and practice. Let’s be the pace setters and be willing to stand firm on our biblical convictions, no matter the cost. After all, we are not only citizens of this nation, but citizens of heaven!
            Forever His,
                Fellow Citizen,
                    Pastor Dave
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It’s Time to Choose

  In the television singing competition called “The Voice,” each judge chooses a team of 12 from the “blind auditions.” Then each judge has to pair them up for a “battle round” where he has to pick one of each pair to continue on his or her team. After the pair sings, the other judges comment on the performance and who they think may have done better and then the judge who had selected the pair for his/her team is asked by the emcee, “It is time to choose the winner of this battle round. Who do you pick?”  It is quite a gut-wrenching time for the judge since the two singers are often very equal in talent.
     I’m reminded of the time in the Old Testament when the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, had entered and divided up the land that God had promised to them. Joshua gathered all the tribes together at Shechem and called on the people to reaffirm their commitment to God and His covenant. Joshua reviewed the history of the Israelites, going back to Abraham and  then he gave them this challenge: “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:14,15). Joshua reminded the people of all that the LORD (Jehovah) had done for them and told them it was now time for them to decide whether they would serve Him or the false gods their fathers had served in Egypt. Joshua set the example for them, saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
     Some of you reading this “Wisdom of the Week” have for some time been considering the evidence for God and what He has done for you but you have yet to make a decision to commit your life to Him and serve Him.  I would like to challenge you as Joshua did the people of Israel. It is time to choose. You could go on thinking about it until the day you die and then it will be too late, “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). If the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart about your need to take Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you not to keep putting it off. The Apostle Paul, quoting from Isaiah 49:8, wrote: “…behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). His emphasis is on the “now.”  We cannot presume upon the future. We have no idea how many days we have left in our life or when the Lord will come to take believers home in what we call the rapture. As we view the scene on the world stage today, we have to believe that Jesus must be coming very soon to catch away His “Bride” (the “Church” made up of all believers, dead and alive).  It is imperative that we are ready for either death or rapture. And the time is now. To postpone a decision may prove eternally fatal.
     And, it isn’t just our eternal destiny that is at stake, as crucial as that may be. A decision for Christ also changes our life for the here and now. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life (eternal life in heaven) and that you might have it abundantly (full and overflowing)” (Jn. 10:10). When we invite Jesus into our life, He meets the deep longing of our heart and provides everything we need to live a life of peace and joy and significance, no matter what our lot in life, no matter our circumstances. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). In other words, as a believer, no matter what happens, I am a winner. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). I have lived enough years to hear lots of testimonies of those who have put their trust in Christ for eternal life, and I have yet to hear anyone say, “I’m glad I waited as long as I did to receive Christ.” But I have heard many who have uttered, “Oh, why did I wait so long!”  God offers us so much through Jesus Christ. We are foolish if we ignore or refuse to respond to His gracious offer repeated over and over in Scripture—in fact right up to the last chapter of the Bible, where we read: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost (for Jesus paid the price…I Pet. 1:18-21)” (Rev. 22:17).
     If you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior, “It is time to choose!”  You may do so right now by praying, “Dear God, I know I’m a sinful person. I know I can’t get to heaven by myself. I could never be good enough. I believe Jesus is Your Son and that He died on the cross in my place. I understand He’s the only way into heaven. Please take away my sin and give me the gift of eternal life through Your Son. Help me serve You, and make me a follower of Jesus. Thank you God for doing this for me. Amen!”
   If any of you who are reading this responded to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and prayed to receive Christ, I would love to hear from you. For those of you who already know Christ as Savior, maybe you could pass this on to someone for whom you have been praying that has yet to make that decision. I will be praying with you that the Spirit will open the heart of those people to see who Christ is and to trust Him for eternal life.
                    Forever His,
                            Pastor Dave
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One Body–Many Members

A preacher, a paramedic, and a post-mortem practitioner (also known as a mortician), went hiking together…. (Use your imagination and finish the story!).  Actually, they did! I took my neighbor, a paramedic, and our funeral home director, on a hike a couple weeks ago. Both of them are believers and we had a great time of fellowship and a very rigorous hike along the edge of the Cabinet Wilderness.  We come from quite different backgrounds, with different training (although the mortician did pastor a church for several years), and abilities. Each of us has areas of strengths and weaknesses, and I guess among us we had most of the “bases covered” no matter what happened!
     I couldn’t help but think about how God has put together His Body, called the Church, made up of believers from a great variety of backgrounds, nationalities, training, and giftedness. He  assembles them in small groups called local churches (at least where they are allowed to assemble as such).  God made it such that we need each other, by making an infinite variety of personalities, natural talents, and then providing spiritual gifts at the time of our salvation. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers who were struggling with their diversity: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom….another faith… distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body…For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body….But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (I Cor. 12:7-22). 
     In His wisdom, God designed the human body with many members—a head, ears, arms, feet, eyes, etc.—such that the body could perform many amazing functions. All the parts of the body are necessary for the body to function properly. No one part is better than another. But if the members start working against each other rather than together, our body becomes dysfunctional. Well, the same is true for a church. God desires that “there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (I Cor. 12:25). He wants for there to be unity through the diversity, not division and strife, as was being experienced in the church at Corinth (I Cor. 3:1-4). In writing to the believers at Ephesus, Paul again listed some of God’s gifts to the church and says they are “for the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).
     Just as some parts of our physical body are more visible and receive more attention, yet are dependent upon every other part of the body to function, so in Christ’s body, some members have more visible roles but are dependent on every other member of the body.  There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ. Many years ago an accomplished organist was giving a concert. (In those days someone had to pump large bellows backstage to provide air for the pipes.)  After each song, the audience applauded heartily. Before his final number, the organist stood and said, “I shall now play…” and he announced the title. He sat down and adjusted his music. With feet poised over the pedals and hands over the keys, he began with a mighty chord. But the organ remained silent. Just then a voice was heard from back stage: “Say ‘We’!” “
     The Holy Spirit helps us to excel in what we do best, but a self-sufficient spirit that overlooks the contributions of others can ruin it all. No Christians have ever climbed the ladder of success alone. We should be grateful for the vital role others play in any successes or accomplishments we may have. A quarterback of a football team, no matter how talented, will not be successful without a good offensive line to protect him.  Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had an interesting rule for his teams. Whenever a player scored, he was to acknowledge the person on the team who had assisted. He saw the importance of teaching his players that they were a team—not “just a bunch of independent operators.” Each person contributed to the success of everyone else. That’s how the church is also to function, with every member exercising his/her spiritual gifts for the good of the body and doing it for the glory of God—not their own.   It is amazing what can be accomplished when you don’t care who gets the credit! 
        Forever His,
            A fellow member of the Body,
                Pastor Dave
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The New World

This date is the supposed date when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492 when he “sailed the ocean blue.”  His story is one of great hardship, Christian faith, and courage. He has been crowned with worldwide acclaim and we in America have many memorials named after him. Think of the many cities named Columbus or Columbia, as well as the great Columbia River and the prestigious Columbia University. Even America itself has been called Colombia in a number of songs and poems.  But, the phrase “the new world” as applied to the two American continents is believed to have been coined by the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who claimed to have been the first to sight the actual mainland. This is believed to be the chief reason why “America” was named after him rather than Christopher Columbus, who had “discovered” some of the islands of the West Indies just a few years before.
     But it is now generally recognized that neither Columbus or Vespucci were the first to discover America. Leif Ericson and the Norsemen not only found it before they did but explored large sections of the land. Even Leif, however, was not the first. Evidence indicates that the ancient Phoenicians reached America well before the time of Christ. There is even some evidence that the Egyptians and Chinese may also have come before Leif Ericson. Even if so, however, they still were not the first. Various tribes of immigrants now known as the American Indians were the real discoverers of America, long before anyone else, probably not long after the dispersion at the Tower of Babel shortly after the Noahic Flood. 
     Nimrod, Noah’s great grandson through Ham, united the people in opposition to God and  built a city and a tower “whose top reached into the heaven,” saying, “Let us make a name for ourselves; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). God’s command to Noah and his sons after the Flood was “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Nimrod was leading people in rebellion against God’s clear command. Since the people all spoke the same language and could thus work effectively together, God said, “Let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city (and the tower)” (vv. 7,8). “The whole earth” would seem to include America. Some probably traveled by land up through Asia, crossing the Bering Strait land bridge during the Ice Age (which followed the Flood); some came by sea from Europe or Asia or Africa. They came from many different tribes and languages and established their “nations” throughout the American continents. And they were here ready to greet Leif Ericson and Christopher Columbus when these “late comers” finally arrived!
     The Americas may have been a “new world” to Amerigo Vespucci, and to the others who have arrived here since the time of the Flood, but it was not a “new world” to God! It has been here all along, and we are thankful to be part of it today. What an amazing history we have had as God established here a stronghold of Christianity that would greatly impact the entire world with the Gospel of Christ and the compassion and care that results from lives that are “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
     There is a real “new world” coming, however! The Old Testament prophet Isaiah received this promise from God long ago: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isa. 65:17). The Apostle John actually describes it for us as seen in a wonderful vision: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” he said, and then described some of its beauties (cf Rev. 21:1). But the Apostle Peter transmitted the most wonderful news of all about this “new world” when he wrote that “…according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (II Pet. 3:13).  Our present world is in such a mess, in such turmoil today as we see the consequences of sin and evil running rampant—even in our own beloved America. It is had to maintain a godly perspective, so it is good for us to be reminded that there is a new world coming “in which righteousness dwells.” PTL!!  And all of us who have been made righteous in Christ, shall live there forever!   Now that’s good news for us on this Columbus Day and on every day. Why not share that “Good News” with someone today to provide them with hope for tomorrow as well as a new life today. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).  That’s a message multitudes in this world today need to hear—probably someone you know needs to hear that. Will you tell them? Many are searching for a “new world” where they can have peace and security and purpose and freedom. They will never find it in this world. It is only available in Jesus Christ, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). Politicians may offer us a “new world order,” but only Christ can offer and provide us with life and abundant life  (Jn. 10:10) and make us part of His Kingdom forever.
             Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Law Versus Grace

     One of the blessings we as pastors experience, and one that helps us to be steadfast, and not throw in the towel when discouragement comes—and it always does—is humble servants in the local assembly who are faithful, dedicated, cheerful encouragers.  I was privileged to have several during my 37 years pastoring Three Lakes Community Bible Church near Troy, Montana.  One of them, Hazel Dare, just recently died at age 91 and I officiated at a memorial service for her this past Friday. She had been at Three Lakes from its beginning so was there during my entire ministry and always prepared the elements for our monthly communion services, took care of the plants, helped with the cleaning and often brought beautiful flowers from her garden to share with the assembly. I used to call her during the week before communion to remind her, but quit doing so because she was so dependable.
     Hazel and I shared a love for gardening, and she would often bring us—and many others—new plants or flowers to try out. I’m sure that all throughout the Bull River and Kootenai River valleys, there are lots of things growing that got their start in Hazel’s garden.  I was always amazed at how hard Hazel worked.  She was small in stature but was one “tough” gal!  And what an encouragement she was to me. Whenever she came around she always had a cheery smile.
     When Kathy and I met with the family last Tuesday evening I asked them to think for a moment and to give me some one-word descriptions of Hazel. Here is the list we came up with: strong, gentle,—(what a great combination)—dependable, busy, dedicated, faithful, peaceful, non-judgmental, cheerful, thrifty, servant, humble.   Hazel had come to know Christ early on in life and continued to grow in grace and knowledge. She had little sticky notes all over the house with Bible verses on them. By her kitchen sink, for example was Jas. 1:2-4: “Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
     Hazel’s grandson, Chaz, said the passage of Scripture that reminded him of his grandma is I Cor. 13:4-7. As I quote it, think about the one-word descriptions of Hazel. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” The agape love that had been “poured out within (Hazel’s heart) through the Holy Spirit” who was given to her at the time of salvation (Ro. 5:5) was definitely manifested in and through her life. 
     During our memorial service, Hazel’s son, Casey, shared a very moving testimony that was such a beautiful life application of “Law versus Grace.”  Hazel’s husband, Casey’s dad (who died 15 months ago) had been a very demanding, harsh father. His only appearances at church were for special occasions. He was definitely uncomfortable talking about spiritual matters.  To Casey, his dad represented the “Law” which makes great demands—as in perfection—but doesn’t enable us to keep it. Casey rebelled and started smoking, drinking, and carousing. On one occasion he stayed out all night and was afraid to return home, for fear of what his dad might do. So, he waited until his dad was at work and came walking down their driveway, tired, hungry and dirty—and full of guilt and shame. His mother was working in the garden when he arrived. She came up to him, looked him lovingly in the eye and said very compassionately, “You must be hungry!”  Casey replied “I am.” She invited him in to clean up while she fixed a meal.  To Casey, Hazel represented “Grace” and its unconditional love.  It really melted his heart, and it wasn’t long before he committed his life to Christ and has been living for Him ever since, actively involved in church. 
     Casey had written out his story and was going to have someone else read it, but he decided to try it and though he struggled a few times with his emotions and had to pause, he managed to make it through. It was so powerful and such an amazing picture of the difference between Law and Grace.   In Romans, Paul writes: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh (i.e. our old sinful nature), God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4). As someone has described it, GRACE is “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” God gave us that law to show us our sinfulness, our rebellion and then sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin so we can become new creations in Christ when we trust in His death, burial and resurrection for us. Because Casey had experienced God’s grace through her mom, it brought him to a place where he was able to receive God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  He realized there was no way he could ever do and be all that his father required of him but discovered that the heavenly Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, had fulfilled the Law for us so that we can be justified (“just as if I hadn’t sinned”) through faith in Him. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works (trying to keep the Law), that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9).
     Are people around you and me drawn to the Grace of God because of our unconditional love for them?  Something to think about.
                    Forever his,
                            Pastor Dave
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