Saturday, December 14, 2013

Death of a Great Statesman

It was on this date that George Washington, one of the greatest statesmen, this world has ever known died at his home at Mount Vernon.  He died of pneumonia at age sixty-seven. 

Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee in his eulogy proclaimed these famous words about his fellow Virginian: “First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere—uniform, dignified and commanding—his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed.  His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known....It my truly be said that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a great man.”

I’m afraid an entire generation is growing up without reading those words.  Revisionist history has so denigrated the nation’s founders that children don’t look upon them as larger than life heroes, rather often they see them as despots who cheated and schemed to gain power and position while establishing an unjust government.  Is it little wonder that men of character deign to offer themselves for service in this age?

Washington could have been a king, but he would not.  He could have been president for life, but he would not.  He committed all his worldly possessions, his family, and his friends to the quest for a free United States of America.  Today’s toxic political environment is filled with “Me-Firsters.”  Men and women who have enriched themselves dramatically by nefarious deal making, and refuse to step down from the towers of power, even when they physically and mentally can no longer function effectively, now occupy those seats as mere shadows of the great statesmen who went before.

Certainly there have always been charlatans, those for whom personal gain trumped character, and certainly each of the founders had warts aplenty.  However, there were enough men of character to overcome the effects of those self-indulgent personages.  Space does not allow one to elaborate on all those who stood tall during those tumultuous years.  That is what the government education system ought be doing.   We ought be having our children and grandchildren coming home with tales of wonder about the exploits of those who risked everything to give us a land of freedom.  Sadly, I fear, they learn more about the warts than the heroic. 

Lest you think, I’m fatalistic, let me say that as long as God waits to send His greatly longed for Son to bring this age to an end, those who are true Believers in Jesus Christ, and have made Him Lord of their lives have hope.  Our hope is not in the council halls of government, the ivy walls of education, or the churning machine of economic development.  Our hope rests in a sense of illogical peace to the natural mind, our hope rests in the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate this month.

I am endebted to Bill Bennett's American Patriot's Almanac for reminding me of the quotes about Washington included above.

©              2013           Mike Rasberry

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Love Christmas, but...

I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I remember going to downtown Meridian, Mississippi as a child through the brightly lit streets from the Kress store, to Woolworth's, and on.  Each store was decorated and Christmas music wafted on the night air.  My Dad held my hand tightly, and my Mom had my two sisters, as we enjoyed the fairy tale like atmosphere.  I shall never forget the sweet smell of cashews roasting at that delightful candy counter in Woolworth's.    I fear the magic of those sights, sounds, and smells are gone forever, and I believe we are the worse for it.  But I still love Christmas.  I enjoy listening to carols and the songs of my childhood during this bit of nostalgic remembrance.

Yes, I love Christmas, but few people get the joy today from Christmas that my wife, Diane, does.  Few people invest as much of themselves in others as she does in her Grandchildren, our Mothers, and in me.  She spends hours preparing gifts, not expensive, but gifts over which she agonizes while trying to find just the right thing for each one.  She individually wraps about 170, or so, gifts and dates them to be opened on the twelve days of Christmas.  Then, to know that each has received some semblance of joy from the gift lifts her spirit immensely.

Yes, I love Christmas, and Christmas rightly has a place of prominence in Christ's Church, however, it is important to remember that Christmas for the Genuine Believer is the celebration of a birthday.  I'm afraid that even Christ's Church sometimes places far more emphasis upon His birth than we ought.  Let me share with you some facts I've received which might just shock you.

The birthday of the Christ is emphasized more in the Old Testament than in the New Testament, and even those are often shrouded in highly symbolic language.  While two of the four gospels do not even record the events of His birth, The Book of Acts does not refer to it at all.  When Paul summarizes the gospel in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, he doesn't refer to the birth event there either.

I've learned that of the 89 chapters in the four Gospels, only 4 1/2 chapters deal with the first thirty years of Christ's life, while 30 cover what has come to be know as Passion Week and the time following the resurrection to His ascension.  That leaves 54 1/2 chapters of the Gospels which cover His earthly ministry before Passion Week.  

Certainly the birth of Christ is important.  However, we do need to keep it in perspective with the rest of Scripture.  It is common in contemporary churches for a full month to be devoted to the celebration of the Christmas event, and while I'm not saying that is bad, I wonder if the cultural celebration of Christmas has not impacted Christ's Church to the extent that other Biblical truths receive less emphasis.   

Christ's Church should celebrate Christmas, but remember the New Testament emphasis is upon the Lamb who is worthy to be slain for the atonement of man's sin.  He is the Sacrifice sufficient to satisfy the demands of Holy God, and thereby become the propitiation for our sin.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More Than The Babe of Bethlehem

This is the house in rural Clarke County, Mississippi where old Dr. Irby attended my Mother as I was born on June 20, 1946.  My earthly life actually began about nine months earlier at my conception, as sexual union of love between My Mother and Father.

I remember that house well.  As a child, I visited it often because my Uncle Renzor and his family lived there.

Across the road near the barn was a Mulberry tree whose succulent berries left their evidence embedded in our skin and clothing time and again.  A large pecan tree shaded the Southwest corner of the yard and fields of corn surrounded the house on three sides.    

I still remember the pungent odor of carbide headlamps assaulting my senses as I hunted, with my Dad and Uncle, the huge cane-cutter rabbits beyond the field to the east, along the gurgling cold creek as it cut through the dense underbrush toward Archusa Creek.

Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem to Mary, a descendant of King David.  But unlike me, Jesus did not have His beginning nine months earlier at conception because Jesus has always existed.  He had no beginning.  He had no earthly father, rather his earthly mother conceived in her womb by a supernatural act of God's Holy Spirit and remained a physical sexual virgin until the days of her purification following the birth of Jesus.

Jesus was not just a baby born 2000 years ago in a small Palestinian village, who learned at His earthly father's knee to be a skilled carpenter.  He was, He is, and He always will be eternal God.  Unique, just as much God as if He were no part man, and just as much man as if He were no part God.  Not part God and part man, but uniquely all Man and all God at the same time, the God-Man.  

Scripture tells us in John 17:5 that He was in the beginning before the creation of the world, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

Jesus also says in John 8:58, "...Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 

As we consider Santa Claus and the giving of gifts this Christmas season, each of us would do well to stop and consider that the greatest gift was when God gave His only Son, Jesus, and that Jesus did not remain the "Babe of Bethlehem."  

I pray your understanding of just who Jesus is will grow during this season, and you'll look back on Christmas 2013 as a time of growth in understanding, and commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ for your life.  

Give thanks for the Baby, but accept the Savior He became, and look in anxious anticipation for His soon return as Conqueror and Judge, while living in such a way as to reflect the belief that He is LORD TODAY!

Why Santa Looks Like He Does

  I am continually asked about Santa Claus.  Should parents perpetuate the myth, or indulge the fantasy. 

I want to say that I still support the idea of Santa, not as the one to whom we appeal for our wants and needs, but representative of the idea of nameless giving.  Never would I want him equated with, nor substituted for the God of Glory who gave His precious Son to redeem mankind.  But that was not an anonymous gift.  That gift was publicly foretold, boldly announced, and universally proclaimed.

But where does our current notion of Santa Claus come from in our land.  Here is the amazing story of one of Christmas' most endearing rhymes which has forever formed our vision of the Jolly Elf.  I do not know the source of the following article, but I have confirmed the factual information.

Dr. Clement C. Moore was the distinguished professor of Greek and Hebrew at General Theological Seminary in New York City. America was less than 50 years old. Moore's father, a famous Episcopal bishop, administered the first oath of office to President George Washington. He also comforted Alexander Hamilton as he lay dying from a bullet wound inflicted by Aaron Burr. Dr. C.C. Moore, however, would not be remembered for his father's meritorious accomplishments, nor for his own scholarly writings...and there were many. His greatest legacy would be a short, rhyming composition penned in less than one hour on Christmas Eve, 1822. Here is the amazing story: 

Mrs. Moore had been packing Christmas baskets for poor families when she realized she was one turkey short! "Clement," she asked in an urgent tone, "will you run down to the market for me? I need a few more items." With the snow falling briskly and the spirit of Christmas in the air, off he went. Upon returning home, Moore met his Dutch caretaker, Jan Duychinck, a short stubby man with a bowed mouth, a big red nose, two perfectly placed dimples, and a pipe clenched between his teeth, causing the smoke to encircle his head. The moon's bright light shone upon the blanket of newly fallen snow. These two men, both possessing child-like hearts, talked about Christmas, particularly the Dutch customs. The caretaker shared with Dr. Moore the fascinating story of Saint Nicholas. He mentioned how Hollanders pulled a sleigh-driven statue of the saint along a parade route. The children line the street anxiously awaiting its arrival. Someone dressed in red and white, like the saint, walked alongside passing out gifts. Dr. Moore could hardly wait to get into the house, grab his quill pen, and begin writing those familiar words:
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
When Moore began describing the old saint, he drew a word picture of his Dutch caretaker:
His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
From Dr. Clement C. Moore's poetic portrayal of Saint Nicholas, we get our present-day picture of Santa.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Yesterday was a day of rejoicing and praise, but not because I had reached my sixty-seventh birthday.  Rather, it was precipitated by the home going of a truly gracious southern lady, my Aunt Corene Irby.   She was my Aunt in every respect except blood.  My Dad, raised as a brother to her husband Ralph after the death of his birth mother when he was less than two months old, was every bit the youngest of three brothers raised by Silas and Leila Martin Irby.  Aunt Corene was always an  aunt to me and my sisters.

Yesterday her son, Terry, preached her home going service and his portrayal of her as a Proverbs 31 woman was absolutely accurate.  Aunt Corene, the perfect complement to her husband, worked in the cotton mill at Stonewall while raising her family and keep her home.  Her home duties of preparing clothing, feeding livestock, putting up canned goods, preparing meals, and teaching her children God’s ways never prevented her from attending services at Rolling Creek Baptist Church where she and Uncle Ralph were stalwarts until his death. 

Meal times found the table filled with scrumptious vegetables, meat, and iced tea.  Many is the time, my Dad and I partook of that table as we visited with them.  In later years, as I helped Uncle Ralph with chores around the farm, I was expected to join them at the table.   Visiting preachers always took multiple meals with them, and over the years they entertained former pastors continually.  Yet, Aunt Corene always managed to work, keep her house, do her chores, raise her family, and be faithful to serving Christ through her church.

Gracious, kind, hospitable, strong, sacrificial, hard working, and Christlike, she epitomized the southern gentle woman.   I fear that breed is passing from the scene with alarming rapidity in this era marked by women who, even though they are blessed with time and labor saving devices, seem unwilling to stretch themselves in order to do what it takes.   Today’s women most often immerse themselves in family, vocation, home, or church without the understanding that each should and can complement the other.

Aunt Corene understood that service to Christ through her church was vital for her effectively fulfill her other responsibilities.  She knew that her faithfulness to Christ and His Church, brought His strength and His personal involvement in everything else, and she was far too smart to think that she could faithfully discharge those obligations without His personal touch. 

There remain a few who continue to believe and live as Aunt Corene lived and believed, but their number continues to fall.  Yesterday, we laid to rest the ninety-six year old remains of a GENUINE SOUTHERN LADY, but she was already in Glory rejoicing with Uncle Ralph around the throne of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to experience this lady in my life.

©        2013           Mike Rasberry

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Turning Back

In Luke chapter 9, verses 61 and 62 we learn an important lesson about following Jesus.  There, a man voiced a desire to follow Christ, but he had some worldly entanglements which involved delay in following the Lord.   Jesus said this, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Have you felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on your life from time to time when it just didn’t seem possible to follow His leading because of life’s entanglements?  While it is easy to accumulate relationships, things, and position in this world which require our attention; it is not so easy to extricate oneself from them. 

More and more, as I approach the twilight years of my life, I find myself wondering just how it happens that Believers become so entangled with stuff.  Does your life’s course often seem more dictated by others and events than by the Holy Spirit’s leadership?  

Jesus seems to be saying that those whose focus is on their future home in heaven more than their earthly home, will be able to follow Him without being emotionally handicapped by the attachments and entanglements of this age.  In this age, a professing Believer is considered successful if he buys a house, has a nice car, can take an annual vacation, raises children who don’t get in too much trouble, and who obtain an education which will allow them to get a job where they can live prosperously in this age.   But Jesus seems to consider those things hindrances to following Him. 

Now lest I am misunderstood, one should certainly attempt to develop himself to his greatest capacity.  Anything less is poor stewardship.  And Jesus definitely calls men to serve Him by advancing into positions of leadership and authority in this world system.  But their focus should not be the world system.  Their focus should be their heavenly home. 

As the citizenry grows older, we ought also remember that the desire to travel, relax, and enjoy the good life after retirement can be as much sin as the desire to accumulate prosperity, position, and associations during the working years.  Time and again, I’ve heard the statement, “When I retire, I want to. . . .”  One ought say, “When God allows me the freedom through retirement to serve Him without the interference of daily work schedules, I will become a more useful instrument in His hands.” 

One test of the professing Believer’s followship is loving Christ and His call upon one’s life more than the entanglements of this world.  If you, or I, are not willing to go where God clearly leads, when He leads, then we all should examine those things which hinder us from being more useful in His service, and more flexible to His calling.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                      Mike Rasberry              2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wild Horse Ministry Day

The day is upon us.  Soon the signs will be placed out on the roads directing people to the riding arena.  Ice chests will be filled and, along with the groceries, unloaded at the snack bar.  People who did not get the word about the modification of the activities will begin to arrive and have to be informed about the new schedule.  Horses will be saddled and loaded to be transported to the arena.  Cherokee, the horse to be broken, will also be transported.

The table will be set up to register people, and tickets for door prizes will be handed out.  The trainer will arrive with his entourage and equipment.  The grill will be started and the sweet smell  hamburgers and hotdogs, along with bar-b-cue sandwiches will permeate the air.

Then, once the equipment is set up to the trainer’s satisfaction, the opening ceremonies will kick of an exciting adventure where once again, man is shown as being God’s ultimate creation by training an unbroken and untrained horse to respond to universal principles to such a degree that the horse can be ridden without incident within a short period of time.  The horse will learn to pay attention to the trainers commands, and then to respond positively to those commands resulting in a horse which suddenly goes from being non-productive to being a productive instrument under the guidance of the man.

The same principles Paul uses to subdue the will of the horse, and bend it to his own will are the principles which God uses to bring men to realize their fullest potential in Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Hunger in America

Everyday I hear the radio announcements—"I'm your neighbor, I'm in the Boy Scouts with you, I play little league with you, -- and I'm hungry."  Today I read the Fox News article about “Papa Joe” Bradford, whose story inspired the film “Unconditional.”  I do not doubt the sincerity of “Papa Joe” and others like him across the land.  I don't doubt that there are some hungry folks in America, but I'm telling you that every home I've been in...Projects, single-family homes, whatever has "stuff."  Most are packed full of stuff. 

In 1957 my family moved from Mississippi to Texas so that my Dad could work without being gone for weeks at a time across the country driving a truck.  He had come home from one such trip only to have my baby sister cry when he tried to hold her, because she didn’t know him.  That event so broke my Dad’s heart that he purposed to find something so he could be at home, and consequently we moved to the then sleepy little town of Lewisville, Texas.

That first year was a real challenge.  The company for which he worked went out on strike shortly after our move, and we had no money, no job, and no real prospects.  We lost our car; my Dad hitchhiked and begged rides into Dallas where he continually sought work without success.  He sold everything in the house, which wasn’t tied down, just to pay the utilities, rent, and keep food on the table.  Eventually, he landed a good job with Allied Aviation, fueling aircraft at Love Field, and our fortunes improved dramatically.

My sisters were too young to understand the difficulties our parents faced, and I barely did.  I do remember wearing badly worn and patched clothing to school where it seemed, to me, everyone was rich except us.  The harshness of that first year was driven home when Mr. & Mrs. Sam Porter, in-laws of a cousin who lived there, brought gifts to us at Christmas.  Though we didn’t fully understand the situation, it was obvious our Mom and Dad were completely overcome by the generosity of those fine folks.

My point in all this is that we had nothing left.  Today’s hungry have stuff--beer, cigarettes, snuff, TV, radio, bicycles, cars, computers--stuff.   Each time I interview someone at the “Helping Hands Food Pantry” operated by our Kemper County Baptist Association, I ask about his or her job search.  I go into their homes and find enough stuff to feed them for months. 

Tom Brokaw rightly called them the “Greatest Generation,” those who were my parent’s generation.  Defeating Germany and Japan were not the only things they accomplished.  My Dad’s generation didn’t seek food stamps, or government subsidy, they were adventurous and struck out for Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and states in between in search of a better life for their families.  In the process they built the strongest economy the world had ever seen.

My eighty-seven year old Mother lives on less than $1,000.00 per month.  My eighty-nine year old Mother-in-law brings in less than my Mother, yet neither receive food stamps, or anything other than Social Security and Medicare.  They do not expect, nor do they desire, the government take responsibility for them.  They’ve learned to live comfortably on what they have.  Of course, both were married to men who were not afraid to take a chance, married, by the way, being an important word to both.  My Mother-in-law was widowed in 1964; one day after the youngest of seven children was born.  She raised them, worked in the cotton mill, farmed, and took them to church.  My Mother was widowed in 1974.  Her youngest was twenty, and she worked in the cotton mill until retirement.  Both simply trusted God and took what life threw at them, and went on living out God’s plan for their lives.

The greatest boom in America is taking place in the North Dakota, but few are willing to leave the comfort of home, and the familiar, to even attempt to build a future in such a harsh and challenging environment. Few, indeed, are today’s hungry who are willing to move in order to find work.  They’d rather stay in their little corner of the world, and subsist on the largess of others than to strike out seeking to improve their lot. 

The day will soon come, I fear, when real hunger becomes a reality in America.  The inbred generational dependency so prevalent in today’s world, coupled with the almost complete breakdown of moral constraints and utter rejection of absolute truth is incapable of anything less than anarchy.  Homes and close-knit communities will become armed camps akin to feudal kingdoms protecting against marauding bands of lawless anarchists.  Central governments will become even more corrupt as their henchmen purchase power through dispensing goods and property obtained by confiscatory taxes levied on the backs of hard working citizens.

Yes, I believe there are hungry people in America, and my heart breaks for the children who have been taught that their hope is in supporting a government which will provide a better life for them through programs designed to make them little more that slaves.  We do them no favor by perpetuating the myth that the world owes them a living.  Let us help them, by buying a bus ticket and providing housing for a month while they settle in a new environment with greater opportunity.

Again,  I believe there are hungry people in America, but a much greater need is to learn once again the self-reliance so eloquently lived out by those whose lives ought be an example to this “dependent” generation.

©                       2013                 Mike Rasberry

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Out of The Darkness

The following sermon is to be preached at our Easter Sunrise Service at BSBC on March 31, 2013.  Should God provide weather suitable, we will meet outdoors as we have for the previous four Easters I've shared with this fellowship.  I'm deeply indebted to a sermon entitled "Out of The Night" by  Dr. R. C. Campbell for the framework of this message.  Dr. Campbell was the longtime Pastor of FBC, Columbia, SC.

John 20:1

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Mark records the darkness which, for three hours, cloaked the area as the Precious Holy Son of God suffered upon Golgotha’s Hill.  We can only imagine the darkness of those hours before Mary went to the tomb that brisk Sunday Morn.  Men fear the darkness.  We invent instruments to punch holes in the darkness, lest we stumble unawares upon some thing capable of doing us harm.

I’ve told many times of those days of childhood when I would cross the creek alone at night while imagining all sorts of creatures waiting in the darker shadows of trees and brush to pounce upon me.  A few timid steps upon the bridge, then running all out to gain clearance from that abyss where my imagined enemies lay.

Perhaps the darkness the followers of Christ endured was such that they hardly thought light would ever again emerge to wash their faces in its glow.  Upon hearing Mary’s report the men rushed to investigate and verse 10 seems to suggest that they were resigned to their fate, for we’re told there that they “...went away again to their own homes.

But the night does give way to light, banished by the light of God’s great love for in verse 18, this same Mary excitedly reports not a message of despair and resignation, but one of hope and victory when she exclaims that “...she had seen the Lord.

There are several ways in which darkness is experienced, this morning we’ll mention two of those ways..

1.    The Darkness of Sin

Sin is a black diabolical monster.  It nailed the sinless Christ to Calvary.  It robs the vitality of youth.  It steals the virtue of young women.  It robs children of their innocence.  Sin causes fathers and mothers to divide the home.  Sin explodes bombs in subways, fires bullets in classrooms. 

Sin pilots airplanes into skyscrapers, and stirs the lynch mobs to unthinking, irreversible action.  Sin intoxicates drivers who endanger innocent victims with their vehicles.  Sin captures the will with drugs, often driving them to suicide.

It is sin, Dear Friends, which energizes those who would abrogate your freedom to worship Holy God.  It is sin which teaches children about their “rights” rather than their “responsibilities,” thereby fomenting rebellion against parental authority, and eventually all authority.

It is sin which moves a feckless dictator of a small country to threaten the world with war, in order to obtain the personal adulation he craves.  It is sin which empowers cultic agents of ungodly religions to threaten the world with their hatred Jesus Christ.

But Jesus brought forth His light upon the darkness of sin, and it can no longer hold men in its fell sway.  But Jesus came forth, having paid the penalty for sin demanded by The Righteous God of Glory.  He satisfied the demands, and because God raised Him up, it validates God’s acceptance of His sacrifice.   You and I no longer need be slaves to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

2.    Darkness of Death

Listen, Dear Ones.  When man sinned in the garden, death entered into the realm of men.  All of us have been touched by the departure from this life of those we hold dear.  We realize it is a reality of living in this age, and with only a couple of exceptions, every individual born upon this earth has or will die, unless Christ returns first.

Diane and I have a little girl who died at birth.  Deanna would have been a young woman now, probably married and with children.  She never nursed at her mother’s breasts, nor ever felt the touch of Daddy’s lips on her cheeks.  She never learned to sew and cook, and of course that most wonderful of all feminine activities, to shop.  Diane and I never saw her in a ball game or at the piano.  We never saw her knell ask Jesus to become her Lord, or walk down an aisle to become the loving wife of a Godly man.  Yes, death is real in this age, and yes this body suffers corruption in the grave.

But the darkness of death has been defeated.  The Risen Christ is our assurance of that. 1 Corinthians 15:45ff tells us this, “And as it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth made of dust, so also are those who are made of dust and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.  Now this I say, brethern, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God: nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?’

With King David, we believe we’ll see Deanna again.  That all our loved ones who have gone on before who were born again children of God live today, and that one day their bodies will be raised up incorruptible and immortal.

The darkness of death has been driven out by brightness of the light of Christ’s Resurrection.  As one man has said, “Resurrection morning means DEATH  TO DEATH.!”

Christ has come forth out of the darkness into the brightness of the day!  He Lives!!  He Lives!!  “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away, Jesus My Lord!”

©            2013          Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Evidence of Salvation

At least three times in the New Testament, the evidence of one’s salvation is shown by one’s love of fellow Believers.  In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love to one another.”   1 John 3:14 puts it this way, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love our brothers.  He who does not love his brother is still dead.”  And again in 1 John 4:20, “If a man says, ‘I love God,’ and still hates his brother, he is a liar.  How can a man not love his brother, who he can see, and still love God who he cannot see.”

I can honestly say that I hate no man.  God has given me a new heart which grows more like Him each day, and no matter how strongly I might disagree with another, I can find no hatred in my heart.   My greatest concern for those who believe they and their loved ones are Believers is that they examine their actions in light of love for fellow Believers.

How is love played out in the life of a Believer?  1 Corinthians chapter 13 is very instructive in this matter: First, love is longsuffering.  Now longsuffering means to patiently endure.  One might endure hardships, trials, emotional trauma, disdain, or failure.  But to continue on demonstrating kindness toward those responsible is a first sign of being changed from an unbeliever to a Believer.  In other words, a Believer does not seek revenge.

Secondly, love is not envious.  The Believer does not resent those who have achieved more and earned recognition for those accomplishments, rather the Genuine Believer loves the success of his brothers, and is able to truly rejoice in them, rather than secretly wish it were him receiving the accolades.

Thirdly, love is humble and does not seek denigrate others by parading its accomplishments.  Humility in the Believer is recognizing that he has not achieved what he has except by the grace of Almighty God.  He does not deflect praise with platitudes, but with a sincere understanding the God has somehow chosen to use him where ever he is being used.  Such humility recognizes the full worth of others, and never considers his position or achievement as more essential than those of others when they are obeying and following Christ.

Fourthly, love does not behave rudely.  The Genuine Believer should be known as one who demonstrates grace and mercy in his actions indicating he believes that others worth is as great as his own. 

Fifthly, love is not provoked.  Contemporary Believers have a lot of difficulty in this area, and it relates closely to the first characteristic of longsuffering.  The provocations of the evil one are designed to get a reaction from the Believer which will destroy his witness of God’s grace.  But self-control can be exercised in such circumstances by the Genuine Believer.

Sixthly, love does not harbor evil thoughts about another.  The Genuine Believer confesses his evil thoughts to God and claims God’s forgiveness lest those evil thoughts give the enemy a beachhead in his life, thereby allowing him to build up a stronghold which can only be broken down by a cleansing work of God’s Holy Spirit.

Seventhly, love does not get pleasure from sin.   The Genuine Believer is grieved by sin, and realizes that lasting joy comes from understanding of, and adherence to, God’s Divine Truth.

Finally, love never fails.  The Believer will fail, but the love of God which constrains the Genuine Believer will prompt him to confess his failure and claim 1 John 1:9 while being reconciled to his brother. 

None of us have the guarantee of a tomorrow on this earth, if one’s life does not reflect the love of Christ in his relationships and activities, it is entirely possible that it is a sign he is not genuinely converted.  Today is the day of salvation.   Today is the day of repentance.  Recognize your true condition, and turn to Christ today.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                    Mike Rasberry                      2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Real Christianity Equals Real Change

Genuine Christianity drastically affects the everyday activities and attitudes of those who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ.  Many folk who profess Christianity seem little affected by their faith.
Matthew Chapter ten, verse 4 includes the name “Simon the Zealot” as one of Jesus’ apostles.   The Zealots were a sect of Judaism which advocated the violent overthrow of the Roman imperialist rule.  They were known to conceal long daggers in the folds of their clothing in order to dispatch any Roman soldier who was careless enough to become isolated from his unit.  Their hatred of all things Roman was well known.  But when he became a follower of Jesus Christ, his life was dramatically changed.  Jesus not only gave him eternal life, but he also received the ability to forgive and love his enemies.

We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that hatred, anger, and an unforgiving spirit can be harbored in the life of a genuine Believer.  The exhibition of those traits demonstrates that one has not truly been changed.  Such a person will not only eventually have his attitude revealed, but will negatively impact his loved ones for generations. 

God never intended for men to live their lives with such burdens upon them.  He sent His Son that we might receive a new heart and thereby a new purpose and outlook on life.  Should Simon continued his angry and vindictive ways toward the Roman interlopers, it would have revealed his great need of genuine conversion.  

Dr. Adrian Rogers was fond of saying, “If you want to know what a man is really like, shake him up a little and see what spills out.”   What spills out of you when circumstances hit you over the head, step on your toe, or rattle your preconceptions?  Do you rant and rave while cursing and threatening when unpleasant situations present themselves?  Such is certainly a warning that one is not where he should be in his relationship to Holy God, and might indicate that genuine salvation has never occurred. 

If you are subject to such outbursts and demonstrations of anger, God has the perfect solution.  He doesn’t want you to spend your life in frustrated anger.  Turn to Christ and surrender your will to His and allow Him to become the Lord, or Boss, or your life.  If you are already a Believer, confess your propensity to sin in this way and claim His cleansing and forgiveness according to 1 John 1:9.

Don’t wait for God to send you a personal message.  This missive is His message to you.  You must choose, but He will empower you to follow through on that choice, should you choose for His way.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                          Mike Rasberry               2013

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Where Is God?

Is anything too hard for God?  In Genesis 18:14, when Abraham was too old to have children, God told him, he was going to have a son.  When Abraham seemed to doubt it, God asked the question, “Is anything too hard for God?” 

If God is omnipotent and omniscient why doesn’t He act to quell the evil in the world?  Is He too busy?  Is He disinterested? 

Far too many Believers are caught up in questioning God, because man looks at the events of life from an entirely different perspective than does God.   Man is limited in time and space, and therefore he can’t see what God can see.  God is not limited.  He sees the beginning, the end, and the present all at once.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.   He might be dealing with the problem on an entirely different level than we’re capable of understanding.

We look at life from our puny perspective and cry out, “Where are You, God?”   We can’t see Him because we look for Him with our limited understanding.   “It occurs to me” never occurs to God.  We look at the events don’t see Him working the way we “think” He ought to be working.  I’m reminded of the young man who, while questioning God, said, “God if you’re all knowing why did you place the giant watermelon on that flimsy vine running across the ground and the tiny acorn on the huge oak tree?”  Then an acorn conked him on the head when it fell, and he said, “Thank God it wasn’t a watermelon.”   You see, God’s ways are far above our ways.

You and I may not understand why God is not acting the way we think He ought, but we can take comfort from Romans 8:28 which tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Listen, Dear Friend, the God who gave His only Son that you and I might have eternal life is infinitely more interested in us than we can begin to imagine.  If there were ever at time when God would have been tempted to let man go his own way, it would have been at calvary.  At Calvary where the innocent blood of His only begotten Son was shed.  At Calvary where the perfectly sinless Christ became the very essence of sin for us.   Yet Scripture reminds us, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

Where is God in the midst of your trials, the world’s troubles, & your family’s fears?  He’s right there.  We see Him through the eyes of faith.  We trust Him and believe His Word.  The poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson speaks of God’s carrying us through the troubled times.  Pity the one who doesn’t recognize God’s grace and mercy in his life.  Everything you are and ever hope to be is owed to His abundant grace and mercy. 

Where is God, Revelation 3:20 tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  If you are a Believer and cannot sense His presence, it is because you have closed the door on His Lordship in your life.   Don’t spend another day in doubt and fear.  Open the door of your heart, and give Him free reign.  He cannot fail.  He must prevail!

From "A Word For Living"  by Mike Rasberry

©                          Mike Rasberry        2013

Cherished and Stored Up Anger

The older I become, the more I wish I could undo many things in my past, and I’m certain that others feel as I do.  However one can never undo what has been done.  He can only confess, repent, and attempt to make restitution where possible.  But those acts often create in the lives of those affected opportunities to store up anger.

I’ve seen people become unhappy and bitter because they have stored up anger over perceived or actual harm.  These people are unwilling to forgive, and that stored up anger begins to eat at their health while destroying relationships and opportunities.   They often profess to not being angry, but their stomach is keeping score, and the tenseness they feel when the object of that anger is brought to mind can actually make them physically ill.

Scripture teaches that one should not allow the sun to go down upon his wrath, thereby giving place to the devil.   You see, it becomes stored up anger, and each time it resurfaces it becomes more and more cherished, in so much that he finds it progressively more difficult to forgive the offender.  When you don’t deal with your sinful anger forthrightly, you allow Satan the opportunity to destroy you, your relationships, and your testimony. 

There is righteous anger that one ought have, but righteous anger is not directed toward an individual, rather it is directed toward the sin.  Every preacher ought be angry over the sin which deceives and deludes his congregation, and each sermon ought have an element of anger toward that which is robbing Believers of the joy and victory in Christ which is rightly their because of His finished work on the cross.  

Believers ought be angry about the sin which enslaves their loved ones and acquaintances.  But, dear friends, don’t direct your anger toward the individual.   Our churches would be filled with convicted, confessing, and repentant folk continually if we would only learn how to put aside that anger which we so easily justify toward others.

So how does one conquer anger?  First, confess to God that you have this stored up anger and claim His loving forgiveness.  Second, forgive the offender.  If you will not forgive, you cannot be forgiven.  Third, attempt to be reconciled to the one with whom you are angry.  Reconciliation must not depend upon you.  

Living anger free enables one to enjoy the life God has given.  Jesus came that we might have abundant and fruitful life.  Don’t allow stored up anger to rob you of the full benefits of this life.  Don’t allow anger to rob you of an effective testimony for Christ.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                       Mike Rasberry                     2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Exercising Forgiveness Brings Freedom

I read somewhere that Karl Menninger once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!  The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Colossae, admonished the Believers there to “forebear and forgive one another, because Christ had forgiven them."

Failure to forgive makes one a slave to his unforgiveness.   Bitterness rises up, and robs him of the joy and exciting anticipation of living as a Child of The King, replacing it with dread, regret, and frustration.

Jesus seemed to tie our own forgiveness of others with The Father’s forgiveness of us when He said in Mark 11:25, “And when you pray forgive, if you have anything against another, in order that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your offenses."    Now that is some very heady stuff. 

In Luke 14:4, Jesus said we who profess to believe in Him as Lord should not limit our forgiveness when He said that if a person sins against you seven times in a day, you must be willing to forgive.

One reason you and I have difficulty forgiving others is that we have not transferred ownership of our lives and property to God.  If God owns us lock, stock, and barrel we have no standing to be angry with another for his misdeeds toward us, because it is God he is attacking.   Rather than live with angry bitterness,  why not allow God to set you free from the shackles of unforgiveness bondage by entreating Him to forgive you of your unforgiving spirit.

Since you are never more like Jesus than when you forgive, He will hear from heaven and bring joy and peace which surpasses all understanding.

I heard recently that justice is what we deserve, that mercy is not receiving what we deserve, and grace is receiving what we don’t deserve.  Exercise grace toward those who harm, misuse, and abuse you and you will be exercising a Christ like attitude in your doings.  God wants this for you, not so you miss out on life, but so that you enjoy living in this age to your maximum capacity.  You are not hurting the one who you are not forgiving of.  You're only hurting yourself.  I've been there, and I don't want it for others.

Purpose today to forgive, even as you’ve been forgiven.

From "A Word For Living"  by Mike Rasberry

©                         Mike Rasberry                        2013

Accepting God’s Forgiveness Brings Happiness

I am so thankful that Jesus is the place of beginning again.  All of us have things which we wish we could change.  However, Romans 8:1 tells us, that if we are genuine Believers, “there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

Now that doesn't mean we'll be perfect, or that we won't be caught up in the temptations this world offers.  However, when we truly confess that sin to Christ according to 1 John 1:9, we are cleansed and restored.

One of the most debilitating and harmful things in this world is self-condemnation.  Christian men and women are crippled by it because they consider their past too heinous to ever be truly forgiven and restored.  They live in a kind of perpetual purgatory, never enjoying the freedom which God’s forgiveness brings.  This self-condemnation wrecks relationships, destroys health, and prevents real happiness.

Such people are unable to forgive because they can’t conceive of themselves having been fully forgiven.  They are constantly afraid they will be “found out” and their attempts at a new life destroyed. 

Scripture teaches that God doesn't condemn us, the devil can't condemn us, and we're so blessed if we enjoy the happiness which comes when we genuinely accept God's forgiveness and don't condemn ourselves.

A word of caution.  The enemy will often use those you most care about to attack you because he knows that it is only through such that he has a chance of gaining ground in your life.  Recognize it for what it is, and do not respond in anger to your loved ones.  Examine your life to see if there is unconfessed and unrepented of sin which can give credence to the accusation.  Claim 1 John 1:9 in the matter, purpose to right any wrong at the earliest opportunity, and accept God’s forgiveness.  Be careful, lest an attitude of bitterness and defeatism rise up in you robbing you of the opportunity to become the person and instrument God is molding you into.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                               Mike Rasberry                       2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thermostat Christians

        Are you a thermometer Christian, or a thermostat Christian? A thermometer doesn’t change anything around it -- it just registers the temperature. It’s always going up, or down. But a thermostat regulates the surroundings and changes them when they need to be changed.  Do you demonstrate the power to change things, or do you simply register the changes as circumstances mold you into the world’s likeness?

    The world is filled with thermometers.  One only need look at the church and note the seeming desire to conform to societal mores.  “New understanding” has given us a permissiveness where professing Christians differ little from those who reject Christ.  The “Come out from among them, and be separate” teachings have fallen prey to the belief that one must be “like” them in order to win them. 

    One should hardly be surprised at the contempt with which the world holds separatist Believers, because they are so accustomed to dealing with thermometers, that the thermostat appears extreme and cultic. 

    Romans 12:1,2 cautions Believers against being conformed to this world system.  We are to be conformed to the image of God, by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.  When I stop to examine my own life, I’m appalled by the compromise I continue to allow in my life.  Even though I desire to be a thermostat, I find myself registering the changes around me, rather than regulating them.

    Lord, Help us this day to commit our ways to you in order that we might become more effective thermostats in the environment where we’ve been placed at this time.

From "A Word For Living"  by Mike Rasberry

©                               Mike Rasberry                    2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Would I Serve God For Nothing?

I recently read again the story of Chippie, the parakeet.  Chippie was enjoying the good life, when his owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum.  She had just stuck the nozzle in to suck up the seeds and feathers on the bottom of the cage when the phone rang.  Instinctively she turned to pick it up, and had barely begun to say, “Hello,” when–sswwwwwpppppppp!  Chippie was sucked in.  She gasped, let the phone drop, and switched off the vacuum.  With her heart in her mouth, she unzipped the bag.

There was Chippie–alive but stunned–covered with heavy gray dust.  She grabbed him and rushed to the bathtub, turned on the faucet full blast, and held Chippie under a torrent of cold water, as she power washed him clean.  Then it dawned on her that Chippie was soaking wet and shivering.  So se did what any compassionate pet owner would do; she snatched up the hair dryer and blasted him with hot air.  Chippie survived, but he doesn’t talk much anymore.  He just sits and stares a lot.

Job must have felt a lot like Chippie.  Life was good until one day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

Satan answered God with a question– “Does Job serve you for nothing?”  Satan was accusing Job of serving God because of the blessings God had bestowed upon him.  That begs the question–would I serve God for nothing?  Is my followship dependent upon God’s protecting me and my family?  Does it depend upon my health, wealth, position, or influence? 

The hard truth is that faith cannot be proven by prosperity. Anybody can praise the Lord as long as everything is going the way they want. Even a lost person can praise God.  But what if the opposite is true? What if suddenly the life is filled with tragedy that you don’t deserve?  I think the New Testament commentary on this is found in Hebrews Chapter 12.

When we find ourselves in situations like Job, the first thing we need to acknowledge is that is God, and because He is God, He has the right to do what ever He chooses. Who am I, a fragile created being, to question His doings. 

But I gain great comfort in knowing that God also has a reason for what He does.  I might not know, or understand it this side of Glory, but I’m confident that He has a purpose.  The writer of Hebrews made it clear in Chapter 12, and Job affirmed it in Job 42:2 when he said, “I know that you can do all things, and no purpose of yours can be hindered.”

The three Israelite children testified to the pagan king before they were cast into the fiery furnace, “Our God is able to deliver us, and He will, but if He doesn’t, we will still serve Him.”    I pray that my followship, and yours, is not dependent upon what God is doing for us right now, but rather I pray that it is dependent upon the sure knowledge that He is able, and He will, but if He doesn’t He has a purpose beyond that which I can understand at this point, and I’m simply going to trust Him.

From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                        Mike Rasberry                               2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another Ignominious Day

On January 23, 1972 President Nixon announced that an agreement to end the Vietnam Way had been reached.  The Paris Peace Accords document was entitled "An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam.”   It was officially signed on January 27.   The resulting carnage inflicted on the people of South Korea by the Hanoi government paved the way for the oppressive regime, which remains one of the world’s most cruel suppressors of Christianity, to replicate the atrocities associated with North Korea and China after the Korean “Cease Fire,” and the subjugation of Eastern Europe by Russia following the implementation of “The Marshall Plan.”  The sacrifice by freedom loving peoples of their brightest and bravest in that terrible war resulted in ignominious withdrawal without victory. 

But, dear friends, there is a far graver ignominy facing greater Christendom in these days.  The victorious shots were fired two thousand years ago when Jesus Christ defeated Satan upon Calvary’s tree by dying a victorious death, descending into the blackness of the earth, rising triumphantly on the third day, and ascending forty days later to prepare for His soon return when all peoples everywhere will acknowledge His victorious Kingship.

Yet, His followers today, often act as if they were on the losing side in that great battle.  Professing Believers wring their hands at the futile attempts by the defeated enemy to subjugate them, and cower at his apparent strength, seemingly forgetting that he has already been defeated and the evidence of that defeat resides in the hearts of genuine Believers everywhere.  The failure of those Believers to appropriate the power to live victoriously in this age, has resulted in the chastising hand of God upon His peoples because those whom He loves, He chastises.

It is therefore incumbent upon those of us who confess Him as Lord to discipline ourselves in light of Hebrews Chapter Twelve in the following areas:
    1. Honest self-examination of conscience to uncover that with which God is displeased.
    2. Earnest prayer for God’s intervention in the affairs of those who need to trust in Him, and for His guidance in our own daily doings.
    3. Persistent patience as molds us into instruments capable of demonstrating the “peaceable fruit of  righteousness” as our will is broken to His.
    4. Consistent faith which shows the oppressors that our joy is not dependent upon external circumstances.
    5. Confident expectation of the “Blessed Hope” which will eventually justify our dedication to His purposes over the temporal pleasures of this world.
    6. Love for The Father must so overflow our being that the enemy of Christ and His followers is amazed by its depth, breath, width, and its durability.

From “A Word For Living” by Mike Rasberry

©                       2013                     Mike Rasberry

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Training Which is Reflected in Living

Key Point: The true test of what we know, as Believers, is not how much we understand, but how that knowledge is affecting our lives.  It matters little how many verses of Scripture I’ve memorized, if I’m not honestly attempting to obey the principles I do know.

    The Hebrew Believers were undergoing extreme persecution from their own people.  Some were being tempted to renounce their faith and the author of Hebrews reminds them, in Chapter twelve, that they have not yet suffered martyrdom, so they really haven’t suffered much at all.  He uses the analogy of a young athlete, training for the public games who submits himself to rigorous training in order to excel, as an example of how the chastening of the Lord should be received.  Such training involved the willing participate often being beaten in such a way as to elicit pain by the more advanced trainer, thereby  requiring the trainee to either improve or quit to avoid the harsh beatings administered by the trainer.

    Certainly, some attacks are directly from the enemy, and others are given by The Father to reclaim His children when they have wandered from His way and been enticed by the dainties of this world system.  But much is simply training so that the Believer might become more conformed to the will of God in Christ Jesus, and thereby more adept at being a useful instrument of God’s grace in this world.

    One man has said that the most dangerous cult in America is “The Cult of Easy Living.”  Contemporary Believers seem more intent on what is happening in their lives right now, than what lies ahead.  We seem incapable of belaying the ease of the moment in order to prepare ourselves for a greater usefulness.  In another place the Apostle Paul declared that if the best reward we have is what we receive here on this world, then we must be the most miserable of all men.

    Genuine Believers deny themselves the dainties of this world in order to prepare for the coming world.  By faith, they understand that there is coming a time when they’ll rest in the bosom of Jesus Christ, and even though they may be misunderstood, abused, and misused in this age; it is only temporary.  After a short season, they will be transported into eternal victory.

    The writer says, therefore, to not give up when those who have been close to you attack you.  When those long forgotten, and seemingly buried, missteps catch you unprepared--When deliberate attacks from the enemy discombobulate your actions in an attempt to discredit you--When bad decisions pile up around you, threatening to bury you under a sea of failure–Remember those who’ve gone before, who’ve suffered even greater emotional, financial, physical, and even moral attacks.  Do not surrender.  As the sturdy athlete in training, step forward prepared to accept the blows the  Master Trainer administers in order to be more prepared to step into the big public arena so that the world might see how Genuine Believers comport themselves in this world system.  Whereby, many might come to faith in Christ by seeing such comportment.

From “A Word For Living” by Mike Rasberry

©                Mike Rasberry           2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Loving God

Scripture teaches in Deuteronomy 6:5 that one is to love God with all his being.  This command is repeated in the New Testament as the Great Commandment.  It is not a suggested path to greater happiness in life, it is a command of God to those who would be known as His followers.

Over the years, I’ve come to love God with my whole being, but I must confess I have not always done so.  For years after my conversion, even after my call to preach, I really did not love God with my whole being.  Had I loved Him so, I believe I would have been a much better man, a better husband, a better father, and much better pastor. 

I don’t think there was a time since my conversion that I did not have love for God, but the kind of love which put Him and His way first was missing from my life.  Even today, I struggle with always doing that which honors and glorifies God, but in my younger years, the love of God did not rule my life.

I believe that much of the problem Believers face today is rooted in that same failure to love God with their whole hearts.  Such love dictates one’s actions toward others and toward God.  When God is loved with all one’s being, an attitude of justice toward others, generosity toward the hurting, uprightness in dealings, selfless love toward spouse and family, and life-changing worship characterizes that individual. 

I wish I had learned to love God earlier in life.  I pray that each one who reads this, takes time to evaluate himself in light of how much he really loves God, and commits himself to learning how to really love God by learning of Him.

From: "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                               Mike Rasberry                     2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Making Sense of Life's Challenges

We are usually wont to consider the opposition and we face in this world as impediments placed in our path by our evil adversary, Satan.  It is true that the enemy goes about as both an angel of light to distract us and as a roaring lion to strike fear into us, lest we who are Genuine Believers living as children of The King effectively communicate God’s wondrous love and grace to receptive hearts.

At other times, we might acknowledge the chastisement of God upon our lives, by saying this which has befallen me is God’s call to turn from some path I have chosen which is contrary to His revealed will for my life.  Certainly Scripture points out that those who are His children will be chastened by Him as loving and redemptive correction.

There remains a third cause for the challenges of life, and one which I believe is more common than the other two.  That is that God leads through such difficulties and challenges in order that we who know Him personally might grow to be more like Him, and in so growing expand our effectiveness in this world.

Scripture teaches that God led the Israelites out of Egypt by a certain way.  It was a way of hardship, privation, and delay.  The trip, which encompassed almost two years before they arrived at Kadesh Barnea, could have been accomplished in a fraction of the time, but God was teaching His people some things.  Regrettably, they failed to apply the lessons learned and suffered the chastisement of God’s hand, and additional training. 

When you and I begin to look at everything that befalls us as “God’s Will,” we will be better able to face the future knowing, with certainty, that He holds everything in His hand.  Now, I’m not promoting senseless fatalism here, rather, an aggressive acceptance of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where we, by faith, trust that God is molding and making us into more useful instruments for His glory.

Certainly we must deal with the adversary.  Certainly we must examine our lives to see if we conform to His plan for our lives.  But, we must also accept that growth comes by the exercising of one’s muscles, and faith is grown by trusting God to lead us through the challenges of living in this world.  Giving thanks in “all things” for we know that what is happening is the “will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.”

From:  "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

©                 Mike Rasberry                 2013