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