Widening the Gap

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Widening the Gap

Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13-14 that the gate is narrow for the path which leads to life, but the road which leads to destruction is broad.  I believe we are living in an age where the church is trying to broaden the path which leads to life.  Many pastors are watering down the gospel, trying to tickle itching ears.  We have many preachers who preach prosperity, yet rarely preach a salvation message.  We have churches ordaining homosexuals as ministers and performing homosexual marriages.  We rarely hear messages that preach against cohabitating.

I have read several times that the abortion rate for those in the church is just as high as it is for those outside the church.  I have to wonder if many of these abortions are insisted upon by parents who are heavily involved in church, have a good reputation, and do not want anything to spoil it for them.  Perhaps they choose the approval and applause of man over the applause of the Lord. (John 12:43) They choose to murder an innocent child in order to hold on to their precious reputation in church, not even caring what God thinks of their heinous act.  I know a family who was heavily involved in their church when their daughter became pregnant by a man of another color.  Later, when a family member asked them how they were doing, they replied, “We took care of the ‘problem.’”  How terribly sad to see them put their reputation, not to mention their prejudices above the Word of God.

We are even letting teaching of evolution creep into our churches.  Some churches teach the Gap Theory.  This is the belief that millions of years passed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Yet, Jesus refuted that belief in Mark 10:6 when He said that from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  Another thing to consider with the Gap Theory is that it allows death before the fall of Adam and Eve.

The Gap Theory says that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, but that is not true.  Job 40:15 describes behemoth, whose description fits that of a dinosaur.  God says, “Look at behemoth, which I made along with you,” referring to Job.  This verse points out that Job lived during the time when dinosaurs lived.

You may wonder why I bring up evolution when I am talking about watering down the gospel and trying to broaden the path which leads to heaven.  It is because the teachings of evolution teach us that we evolved from apes.  If we buy into any evolutionary teachings, then we do not see ourselves, or anyone else, as being truly special.  The result is that we will believe that it does not matter if we live together before marriage, if we are gay, or even if we have an abortion.

But the core of our Christian faith is that “In the beginning GOD…”  We must hold to that truth and firmly stand on the gospel message that only Jesus can save us.  If we are hearing things at church which are contrary to the Bible, it is time to leave a “gap” in that church and find one that does not try to stretch the gospel into something that it is not.
© 2008, Stacy R. Miller

Where is Your Pulpit?

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Where is Your Pulpit?

As I was reading in Titus 2, I thought it was interesting to note that in verse 4, the first item on the list was for a woman to love her husband.  When we make a to-do list, we usually put the most important items at the top of the list.  For this item to be first on the list in scripture, the Lord is showing us that it is very important.  In verse 5, we find that she is to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to her husband.  In today’s society, men don’t get much respect.  Television makes husbands and fathers look like complete idiots.  Sadly, that attitude is even permeating Christian homes.  That must be why we are commanded in Eph. 5:33 to respect our husband.

For those who are newly married, or are struggling in their marriages, I wanted to give some practical advice on how to ‘love your husband,’ as the Word mandates.  We need to understand that our love for our husband is seen by how we speak to him and how we speak about him.  It is seen by how we take care of him and what we do to serve him.  Mt. 6:21 tells us that where our treasure is, our heart will be found.  Where is your treasure?  Do you see your husband as a precious treasure from the Lord?  Do you treat him as such?  What we do and say about our husband is often our ‘pulpit.’  People can learn much about us, just by observing how we treat our husband, whether he is present or not.

I find that my ‘pulpit’ is often in the kitchen.  Since our family room and kitchen are combined, I try to honor my husband by having my daughter straighten up the family room before he comes home.  I try to have a meal fixed and ready for him.  Entering a house that has a sense of order, and the pleasant aroma of food is inviting to a man.  (I am ‘preaching’ to him that he is important to me, simply by what I do for him.)  Sometimes I will even turn on some soft, soothing worship music to greet him as he walks in the door.   My daughter will often question why it’s so important to make the house look nice ‘just for Daddy.’  From my ‘pulpit,’ I am trying to teach her that Daddy is important, and that when he comes home at the end of a long day, he doesn’t want to see messes everywhere.  Chances are high that he probably spent most of his day working in ‘messes.’  He needs a nice, quiet, inviting place to relax and unwind.

Just a few nights ago, Dean didn’t get home until around 10PM.  He had worked about 15 hours that day, not to mention the long days he had already worked earlier in the week.  I have to admit, by 10PM, I was tired.  I didn’t feel like entering my ‘pulpit’ again, but because my desire is to honor my Christ in all that I do, I hopped up from the couch the minute I heard his truck door slam shut.  I met him at the door and asked if he had taken time to eat supper.  After he stated that he hadn’t, and that he was very hungry, I began pulling things out of the refrigerator, and in a matter of minutes, I had a big plate of hot food fixed and ready to eat.  I literally felt a second wind come into my body, giving me the energy to serve him, and to do it gladly.  I would venture to say that my attitude in serving my husband as if I were serving the Lord had a lot to do with that added burst of energy.  I enjoyed putting the meal together for him.  I think he could sense that because he was very thankful for the effort I put forth.

Backing up to the scripture in Titus, in verse 4, the children were listed as second on the priority list.  While in the middle of trying to get Dean’s meal together, Rachel approached me, wanting some attention.  I gently, but firmly told her that I was taking care of her Daddy, so she would need to wait until I was finished getting his food fixed.  This was another way of honoring him.  He heard me telling her, in so many words, that my husband comes before her.  It is good for children to realize that this world does not revolve around them.

You can probably think of some things around the house that your husband likes done, just by thinking of comments he has made.  If he complains of the clutter, enter the ‘clutter pulpit’ and try to work on reducing that clutter.  I don’t mean doing it all in one day, but do a little every day.  Before you know it, the house will look much better, and you will be honoring your husband.

If he complains that supper is never ready when he walks in, try your hardest to ‘preach’ from the kitchen by at least having the meal started when he walks in the door.

One evening, after a very long, hard day, I used some special markers on the bathroom mirror.  I wrote, “Dean, you are awesome!”  It was a small way of letting him know that I do take notice of how hard he works to provide for us.

Are there little things that you expect him to do because they appear to be a ‘man’s job’?  I’m talking about things like checking the air in your tires, filling the gas tank, raking, paying the bills, etc.  Those may seem like such little things, but when your husband works all day, he will really appreciate not having to do those kinds of things.  Dean is usually the one to do the in-depth cleaning of the laundry room.  I am not supposed to be moving heavy objects, but when we noticed a smell coming from the dryer, I knew it was time to stretch myself.  I recognized that he had more than enough to keep him busy, so I took a morning and tackled cleaning the whole utility room, down to even pulling out the washer and dryer, and cleaning the hose behind the dryer.  I was so proud of myself, and I could tell that Dean was very pleased that I was able to figure it all out and not break anything in the process!

Does your husband complain during the winter months about having itchy, dry skin?  Try rubbing him down with some body oil, even baby oil will work.  Another suggestion would be to purchase a body scrub for him to use in the shower.  If you get it from Walmart, it won’t cost you very much either.  Does he have a favorite kind of candy?  Buy a bag of the miniatures, then when he needs a ‘chocolate fix,’ it’s already there for him.  Do you know of a book he’d like to read?  Check the library for him, or see about purchasing the book for him.  Checking on ebay first may even save you money than if you’d buy it locally.

We live in Indiana, but Dean’s favorite NBA team is Utah.  We can’t find any T-shirt, sweatshirts, etc., in our area that say “Utah.”  One year, I had my aunt, who lives in Salt Lake City, pick up a couple of Utah Jazz sweatshirts for him when they were on sale.  Last year, I bought him a Utah Jazz watch, along with several other Utah things.  He was really impressed with my ingenuity.  He knew that I spent some time searching for the items, which ‘preached’ to him that finding his preferences was worthwhile to me.

In Titus 2:5, we are admonished to be busy at home.  So Sister, find discover where your ‘pulpit’ is in your home.  Now get busy showing your husband that he is your most precious treasure, next of course, to your wonderful Savior!

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

When the Lord Goes to Battle

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When the Lord Goes to Battle

Parenting is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be one of the most taxing, frustrating experiences for us as well.  On top of the many demands we face as mothers, there are times when we find ourselves facing situations that drain us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  There are bills to be paid, even when the budget is already tight.  We may have a tense relationship with someone that requires some attention.  Having major expenses come up from car repairs or faulty appliances can leave one feeling overwhelmed.  Dealing with a family member who is seriously ill can leave us emotionally exhausted.

When we think that we can go to church and find a refuge for a few short hours, we may find ourselves at odds with someone in the church.  Someone may make a biting or sarcastic remark to us, or maybe use body language that speaks volumes in a less-than-positive manner.  Unfortunately, most churches have at least one busybody.  It seems that when you need a refuge the most, here comes Miss Busy herself, thinking that she needs to help you to straighten your priorities.  With the multitude of things which we are facing outside of the church, these added situations can leave us feeling emotionally undone.

The words in Is. 59 may seem to fit us quite well at times like these.
Verse 9 – Justice may seem far from us.  We may feel that righteousness is a distant place, due to the low emotional frame of mind we have at that given moment.
Verse 10 – Like one who is blind, we grope to find our way.  Even at noontime, we stumble as if in the dark.  Among those who seem strong, we may feel like we are dead.
Verse 11 – We growl like bears and mournfully moan like doves.  We look for justice and deliverance but it appears to be so far away from us.  We may feel like God has forgotten us.

While we are feeling so alone and depressed by our circumstances, God has not stopped moving on our behalf.  Verse 17 tells us that He puts on His righteousness as His breastplate, as well as the helmet of salvation.  He puts on garments of vengeance and wraps Himself in zeal like a cloak.  Verse 19 tells us that He comes on the scene as a pent-up flood.

Even when circumstances look so gloomy, DON’T GIVE UP!  You don’t know when God will arrive on the scene of your situation as a pent-up flood.  Let Him step in and take vengeance on the adversary, whether it be Satan or someone with flesh and blood.  The vengeance that He will take is so much better than anything we can think up in our finite minds.  For when the Lord goes to battle, who can possibly stand against His awesome power and might?  (Rom. 8:31)

Just when you think that you will never laugh again, God arrives on the scene and does a marvelous work before you.  Where your spirit once was overwhelmed, and your eyes were filled with tears of despair, you now look radiant and your heart throbs and swells with joy!  (Is. 60:5)  NEVER GIVE UP!  Your God is working behind the scenes, and He will fight for you!

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

When It Floods

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When It Floods

After seeing the worst flooding in our city since 1958, I made some observations that can be applied to our spiritual lives.

As I was watching those terrible storms rolling in, the winds began to blow furiously.  The storm was raging outside, but inside my home, all was peaceful, calm, and full of light.  The Lord gently spoke to me that there are times when it feels that life is fiercely blowing one storm after another at us, but if we stay connected to the vine, we will be able to have light, peace, and calmness in spite of what is going on around us.  Ps. 1:3 mentions the person who is like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season.  The tree yields its fruit because of a deep root system.  If we don’t keep our roots going deeper and deeper into the Word of God, when the winds begin to blow in our life, we aren’t going to be able to withstand for long.  How are your roots doing?

I was in the living room watching a storm rolling in from the west.  It was only 8:45 AM, but looking outside, it looked more like 8:45 PM.  The darkness was unbelievable for that time of day during the summer months.  When we face trials of many kinds, our outlook can become darkened.  II Sam. 22:29 tells us that the Lord turns my darkness into light.  Ps. 28:28 says that the Lord keeps my lamp burning and turns my darkness into light.  Ps. 37:6 says that our righteousness will shine like the dawn.  Ps. 112:4 says that even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.  Even when the darkness of trials and tribulations surround us, God can cause our light to shine forth.

The destruction from the flooding was incredible.  It was unlike anything I had ever observed.  So many families saw the destruction of their homes, their cars, precious items were destroyed.  Many lost treasured family pictures and sentimental gifts.  When we are flooded with problems, we can face spiritual destruction.  We can feel that our fortress has fallen, never to be repaired.  We must be sure that we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  (Mt. 6:19-21)  We must remember that we are aliens and strangers on this earth.    (I Pet. 2:11)

After the water receded, everything was so dirty and polluted.  When we are being flooded by numerous trials, are we allowing ourselves to become polluted?  Are we allowing the wrong, negative thoughts to set themselves up as strongholds in our thinking?  Are we allowing our hearts to become bitter and hardened?  I remember hearing our pastor mention that the only difference between the words “bitter” and “better” is the letter “i.”  Many times we can’t stop the trials that come upon us, but we can choose how we will respond to those trials.  When troubles assail us, we must choose to think upon those things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy.  (Phil. 4:8)  When our flesh is wanting us to think negatively all the time, we must choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  (Rom. 12:2)

Once the water began to shrink back, you could see that the grass was dead.  The flooding waters choked the life out of the grass.  Mt. 13:20-21 talks about the seed that fell on the rocky places and relates it to one who falls away in times of trouble.  In verse 22, Jesus talks about the seed that falls among the thorns representing those who let their worries choke their spiritual life.  Is this our response when we face misfortunes?  Jesus admonishes us in Mt. 6:33-34 that we need to seek His kingdom first and not worry about tomorrow.  In John 16:33 He reminds us to take heart and be of good courage because He has overcome the world.  It doesn’t matter what storms come our way, our God is big enough to help us through them!

While we were out observing some of the effects of the flooding, we couldn’t help but notice the stench that was left after the waters had shrunken back.  When facing multiplied trials, do we become a stench to those around us?  Does our attitude stink?  (No pun intended!)  Is. 3:24 says that “instead of fragrance, there will be a stench.”  (NIV)  But in II Cor. 2:16, it mentions that we can be the fragrance of life.  Which description is a more apt description of us when troublesome times assail us?  My prayer is that we can say, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  II Cor 4:8-10 (NIV)

When the Mississippi River had the great flood in 1993, I was flying to Arizona to visit my brother.  From the plane, I could look down and see the devastation everywhere.  I could also look up and see the beautiful clouds and sunshine that surrounded the plane.  The clouds looked like huge sculptures that day.  They were stunning to observe.  I had the choice of choosing to either look down at the devastation from all of the rain, or I could lift my eyes and see beautiful artwork, done by the Master Creator.  It reminded me of Is. 40:31 where it tells us that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, that they will soar on eagle’s wings, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.  Even when there seems to be trouble on every side, we can find our strength in Him.

Many people have fallen away from the Lord in times of trouble and distress because their roots didn’t go deep enough to sustain them in the winds and storms that raged in their lives.  Ps. 119:165 says that those who love the law of God will have great peace and NOTHING can make them stumble.  We must be sure to keep our roots going deep.  Ps. 42:7 mentions deep calling to deep.  When we face various trials, we need for deep to call to deep, pulling out from the reservoir of God’s spirit in us, the words of life to sustain us and give us hope, encouragement, peace, and strength.

Many years ago I worked as a bank teller.  I remember getting off from work one evening after an incredibly stressful day.  I was on my way to the post office to drop off the bank’s mail, yelling to God at the top of my lungs in such frustration.  It had been raining that evening, and as I turned to make my way out of the post office parking lot, I saw the most beautiful, vivid rainbow that I have ever seen.  It was so awesome that I immediately stopped my yelling, but instead of closing my mouth, my jaw just hung there in awe.  Very gently, Father whispers to me, “Daughter, you will face trials of many kinds, but I will NEVER let them overflow you.”  His Word spoken to me is the same for you.  Do not fear.  Your trials will not overflow you!
© 2003, Stacy R. Miller