How to Explain Death to a Child

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

I cannot claim the genius which produced this illustration but it is perfect and it works – with all ages. If you can, find a toy truck and a toy automobile to demonstrate.

Son (or daughter) do you remember how when we go on a road trip we often have to pass big trucks that are going slower than we are? Do you remember how, when we passed on the side away from the sun that a giant shadow fell on our car? But we did not fear then because we could see the road ahead. Very soon we were back in the sunlight.

Well that is what death is like. It is only a shadow. And passing from here to there is simple and uncomplicated. God is on the other side waiting for us.

Of course we don’t want you going there any day soon. That is also God’s choice. Almost no one in this world chooses or knows the date of his death.

But that is why we live in faith, and with faith. If we have accepted Jesus and know He is our savior. He is waiting on the other side.

Gun Control – A Worthy Experiment

Yes, it is time to put to rest forever the issue of gun control.  So I took out my little Glock, loaded a few bullets ( I tend to be frugal) and laid it prominently on a bookshelf in the living room.

Then I gave it this lecture.

“Now look here, Gun.  You cause a lot of trouble in this world and I want you to know right here and now I will not tolerate any malfeasance on your part.  You are not to shoot anyone under any circumstances.”

I felt sure my words were exact and understood perfectly and I left the gun there for three months.

Well, folks you would not believe this.  Dust collected around the gun but other than that there was no change and not one shot was fired for any reason at any person.

I have concluded that giving lectures to inanimate objects is a waste of time, that people who think they can control events by passing laws about inanimate objects are fools at best.  Would someone please tell the legislators and newsmen about this?

 

How to Pray for your Family

It sounds so simple, praying for your family, but there always is a catch. What you pray must line up with the Word of God. Some people at this point will duck the issue; they’ll go to priest, minister or trusted friend for prayer. But the authority in this situation belongs to Mom or Dad, or adopted parents- whoever is in charge. Praying according to the Word means actually knowing and believing what the Word says. So go to the Bible for the answers.

A great scripture is this: Proverbs 11:21 – The seed of the righteous shall be delivered. That sounds so quaint –the seed. Simply put, that is the offspring. Your children are your seed. No matter how far they stray – they can me living in Nepal; they are still your seed.

Are you righteous? Hopefully so, because now you have a platform on which to launch your prayers. A rather confusing prayer starts this way, “Lord I know I am a rotten sinner, but please deliver my kids.” Yes, God hears that, but how much better to ask God to save you from being rotten first and then praying for your kids?

Nevertheless, a parent’s cry God always hears. Years ago the father of a mutual friend was torn up because his 30 year old daughter had cancer. His prayers for her healing were heart-wrenching, and God heard. Today, 30 years later, I have no memory that the father ever lived a Christian life. But God still heard and the girl was cured.

You’ll not get anywhere praying with worry, fear or unbelief. All situations should be viewed as an opportunity for God to guide, correct, teach, etc.

Are you not seeking God because you think He will fail?

And you are not to pray saying, “I can’t pray because what if I fail?” You are not the healer, the deliverer, or the savoir, so that thought delete from your mind. You are praying to God not to yourself. So you cannot fail.

Job 1:10 – This is a very effective prayer for when we are separated. You “pray a hedge” around the person you are concerned for.  This hedge is made of thorns and when you put it around someone it helps keep bad influences away from someone. If the person is involved in the occult, with drugs, prostitution etc., that hedge should form a barricade against the contacts and the customers.

When I have been frustrated in a situation, especially when I’m unclear about the facts, I simply send angels. “Please God rush angels to the situation and have them act as you see fit.”

And how does this work? By faith of course. If you think your faith is weak go back to the Bible and get a new dose of juice. Faith comes by hearing and that by the Word Of God.  In fact, you can read it out loud to yourself and see if your faith does not increase.

Finally, one or two bullet prayers is nice, but pray often and then again.  God likes to know you are still on the case, and so is He.

What is the 1st sign of sin?

Self-justification is the first sign of sin, according to Martin Luther. Of course he was not speaking out of order – the Bible’s first sinners did exactly that. Here is the story.

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit (maybe an apricot – they are grown in North Africa) and in doing so openly disobeyed the clear command of God, both Adam and Eve blamed someone or something else. Adam had the nerve to actually blame both Eve and God.

Genesis 3:12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” [The wife then blamed the snake]. 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Was she deceived? Yes, but there was something in her (a basic sin nature) that wanted the forbidden item so badly that she was willing to listen in spite of knowing what was right and wrong.

From that day to this, it is exactly the same for all human kind.

The smallest child whines – brother made me do it…or it is HER fault. My boss made me do it. My friends all had this great idea. I didn’t want to be involved, so let me out of jail.

Divorce is frequently two people blaming each other. This blaming business can go to wicked extremes. Some rapists will say, “She wanted me to rape her.” This fellow will soon learn in prison what real rape is all about.

Nothing beats politics. Blame for everything from no jobs to high taxes belongs at the other party’s door.

A corollary question is this: How do you know when someone is grown up? When he or she assumes complete responsibility for his behavior. Is that true of you?

How to Hear from God

The basic rule of hearing from God is that He does not disagree with His own word. For people who never crack a Bible this can be a problem. How do they know if the word matches the scriptures?

Clearly they don’t, which means they can also be fooled. But if you are a Bible reader, here is a group of ways for you to examine.

1. Through signs. My friend Jenny was worrying about a problem when she went to the hospital to visit a friend. The sign in big red letters over the bed read as follows: NOTHING BY MOUTH. AH HA – she saw that the answer to her prayer. Very often it is true; we should just be quiet about something; things will work themselves out without our input.

2. Through events. New Orleans had ample warning about the coming Katrina hurricane but they ignored them. Then we watched in horror as the city was inundated. The TV showed a group of rock musicians, dressed in Gothic and grunge, leaving the city, walking to Minnesota. Kinda a long way! They said with tears in their eyes, that this was a sign to them to go home.

3. Through the jumping scripture syndrome. This is a common way to hear from God. You are reading along in the Bible, really not much engaged, and suddenly a verse jumps out at you – or maybe a part of a verse. Suddenly you have the information and revelation you need. Some people search the Bible looking for a verse to speak to them – probably not good. Just let God speak at His own pace or you may find the devil getting his mouth in there.

4. Through weird difficulty. I had a job interview years ago; it was one of three places to work and I had no particular reason to prefer this job over the others. But the minute I sat down for the interview I felt sure I was going to vomit. For 25 minutes I was barely able to hold my breakfast down. In fact I could not concentrate on the interview. I left when it was over and the very second I left the room, all symptoms stopped. Consequently I never considered that employment. That’s was God’s word to me.

5. Through the words of others. One summer my pastor’s wife and I without discussing this with each other or anyone else sent the identical scripture to a man who as searching for God. To this day I believe he thought we had colluded. It was advice he should have taken but didn’t. Very few things are as clear as that.

Now there is the issue of hearing the wrong voice. If your heart is not right, you may get the wrong message. A friend of mine received a pretty birthday card with a pansy on the cover. He was excited and called to say he was sure this meant he was to marry Pansy. Nearly 20 years have gone by and he is not happy in his marriage. Oh well. He wanted it to be Pansy and found an excuse. I am not sympathetic.

How do you verify a word from God? See number 5 above. When something happens twice, there is your confirmation. If you are insecure about a decision- just wait. God will send another voice.

2 Corinthians 13:1-4 Remember the Scripture that says, “A matter becomes clear after two or three witnesses give evidence”?

Most of God’s decisions are possible in plenty of time. If you feel rushed, you might just be walking into the devil’s trap. The exception to this is during an emergency. If you hear him say STOP, do it without delay. He has sent His angels to warn us.

It is Finished!

This famous last saying of Jesus right before He died requires some explanation. The term in Greek daily use indicates a bill had been paid in full. But there the translation falters, because one can always incur a new bill. Not so with God.

When He said it is finished He meant forever. We are wrong to think that life is ahead of us. In actual fact we are walking out the program of God.It is Finished

Compare this to a toy train. If it is going too fast or meets an obstruction, it jumps the track and the little wheels on top of the train keep spinning until we right the train and put it back on the track. That is our lives. We get off track and have to right ourselves, but the train track doesn’t change direction. We have this notion that God is thinking up ways to make us miserable, or to discipline us. Not so. He is only interested in the track.

Now if we make a deliberate rejection of his plans, we jump the track. It may be some time before we get back on the track, but we will, eventually. He does not determine our sins; He merely recognizes them and waits for us to right ourselves.

The track for our life is the “tetelestai” and our obedience puts us on the track – or not as the case may be. We are not living day-to-day. All of life is nothing more than living in His plan.

Illness as God’s Training Tool

In the 1970s I read a book on healing 3 times. No, I was not sick. The book, Christ the Healer, changed my life because I saw that God allows us to be sick so we can change our thinking about our relationship to Him. Let me explain.

I heard on the radio recently about a woman who was begging for healing. Her daughter told her, “God says it is an allergy, Mom.”

The woman went to the doctor for allergy tests and lo – she was right.

3 things happened here:

1. The daughter received a Word of Knowledge thru the Holy Spirit and one of His gifts as an instruction to both her and her mother. Her faith was bolstered.

2. The mother was required to listen to the witness of another Christian and act upon it.

3. The woman was healed.

It is also possible, I hope, that the doctor received the witness of the woman in his office.

That is how God works. So instead of looking for some reason why God is punishing us, look for His opportunity to teach us and give us a lasting testimony.

The Problem of Projection -no, people don’t think like you

The scripture which outlines this problem is: Psalm 50:21 You thought that I was altogether like you;

This is called projection – the notion that others have the same motives, desires, theologies, and opinions as you do. And they base their behavior on this.

We all know the jealous woman who believes every woman is after her husband. Or worse yet, the men in the church actually believing that single woman are after them. Or, worse even than that, the pastor thinking all the single women are after all the men regardless of station.

This is a function of an overblown ego and has traditionally made the church a hostile place especially for single women and one of the reasons that pastors often go to lengths to marry single women off. It happened to a friend of mine in her later 20s. The pastor kept encouraging her to marry a young man who turned out to be homosexual. She left the church. And you wonder why people are church hopping. And maybe all this is because the men themselves rally are seeking to be pursued by women? Who knows.

Projection also infects nations. The Chinese are convinced that America is plotting to attack them with an armed force and take their land. If you will check on China, you will find that there really isn’t much there to acquire. China has minerals, but no water and fouled air. It is not a place anyone would want to acquire. But that is the mentality of a nation that is predatory and lurking about the South China Sea for lands to subsume. That is why China already snatched Mongolia and Tibet, and why the nation continues to suffer from the theft of land.

Tibet meanwhile has no desire to be part of China or to be anything but Tibet. Russia was also greedy for land, having assumed that grateful China would become part of the Soviet Union, a problem Chairman Mao recognized, Russia being unable for some unknown reason to develop their own properly and even today is nosing around the Middle East looking for territory. Always ambitious for someone else’s turf!

Working in China I learned that the Chinese thought all Americans were rich and white. I put on the blackboard a breakdown of races here – 55% Anglo (a word they prefer) 15% black, 12% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and so on. The number has no doubt changed today.

When I said I wanted to get a tan (the sun did not shine there for 2 straight months) they were horrified. Chinese girls put a product on their face to make them white. They look like ghosts to me. I used some indoor tanning product and they were shocked. I said I wanted to look like an American – but they didn’t understand. Americans are NOT white.

We assume people have the same beliefs. A woman told me a few years back that her son was gay. I said I was sorry. (Yes I am sorry. Gays die many years before straight people, are more often involved in domestic violence, and “divorce” more often than straight men.) Yes, I am sorry. She got huffy and said she was not sorry. I had assumed she knew something about this but I guessed wrong.

A Chinese underground press which I read daily was very happy about Anderson Cooper “coming out” as being gay. I wrote a comment on their blog that CNN was hardly much viewed by the American public, an established fact if one checks the TV numbers which come out daily.

CNN is very popular with English viewers abroad however. The man was irritated – what difference does that make he wanted to know. I replied that the CNN endorsement in foreign lands looked like something it was not; it may appear that American audiences are interested and involved, but not so. The perception of foreigners is that CNN is popular here; they could not have guessed of its dwindling audience. You can check TVbythenumbers online for a URL.

We make assumptions about culture. In the USA when you want someone to follow you, you wave with your hand at them. TOO LATE I learned that this was an obscene gesture in the Philippines. Sigh.

In Japan yellow is the color of death. For many years Isuzu would not paint a car yellow, but I was able to buy one myself when they realized Americans like yellow; it is the color of friendliness.

The list of projections can go on and on. The moral of the story is you assume nothing. Find out where people are and go from there. Many a marriage has crashed when the couple found out they shared little in common but their bedroom.

Prophets speak and others “judge”

I Corinthians 14:29 tells us that in meetings prophets speak and other judge. Many modern translations have mistranslated this passage, saying “prophets” are speakers, teachers, preachers, who knows whom?

Anyway, the original Greek says prophets. Here is the Greek version. προφῆται δὲ δύο ἢ τρεῖς λαλείτωσαν, καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν· The word prophets is in bold.

Perhaps you can tell the Greek letters: P as in pi, like p-r-square, r is the letter that looks like a long p, o is obvious, phi is next – like Phi Beta Kappa or any other common fraternity, a which is the n with a tail on it and finally “ai” which is the Greek plural. I go into such detail because prophets are supposed to be giving the message in church not simply speakers, preachers and teachers. Prophets are a special group provided by God.

Why? Because prophets have been anointed by God and they know the Word of God, which, frankly is what we need to be hearing in churches. But how many churches are preaching tolerance, doctrine, good citizenship, heaven knows what? I am weary of such substitutes for the truth. Man is craving this. Ask the Lord to show you the prophets, for they will advise us according to His word, not to man’s

For starters, a reliable prophet is Kim Clement at KimClement.tv. Check him out. Lance Wallnau is good too.

Does Jesus Know You?

Sometimes when people learn I’m a retired missionary they get all religious on me. They tell me about their church life, the choir, the prayer group, their Christian jewelry and on and on. I met someone like this in the day room recently, and I smiled but I was not amused. I just let her go on. It was a pleasant religious veneer to an image – nothing more.

In my meetings there is no cross, no lace covering, no flowers, no printed hymnbooks, and no open prayer book. These externals may be of value to some but God isn’t looking at them – he looks at our heart.

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

The externals do set a mood; they remind the itchy that they are in God’s house, and perhaps for some, it recalls to their minds a nicer time when they knew God better.  But today, the day of salvation, the day which counts in God’s heart, is the day we should look at.  In fact, the most unhappy people I know are those who look at the past, or can’t extricate themselves from it.

The bottom line is this – and perhaps we have missed it. This woman was trying to demonstrate to me that she knew Jesus. That is not what is expected of her. In fact Jesus said these words.

Matthew 7:22-24  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

(Ye is King James English for you’all.)  What does this mean – we should not be casting out demons? Heavens no.

It means that our life is not in knowing Him but in Him knowing us. If He knows us it is because we have spent time with him not in the externals of religiousness and with its trappings.

Life is getting shorter for all of us. It is true that the closer you are to death the less time you have. Sounds pretty elementary but too often we think we are closer to heaven instead but NOT if we are not known to Him.

If you are, like so many people I know, not far from what my black friend calls “a dirt nap” – then we must be busy letting the Father know us. That takes a lot more effort than serving in the church kitchen.