Sunday, October 23, 2016

Quit Slipping Around

By John Stallings

My steps had well nigh slipped. Psalm 73:2

Having your feet to slip unexpectedly is no small matter.

Its happened to me many times. I’ve slipped on rocks in swiftly running mountain streams. I’ve slipped on frozen ground, I’ve slipped in fishing boats, & I’ve slipped going down a flight of stairs carrying a large turkey that had just been taken out of an oven. [It’s a long story.]

The above doesn’t count the bicycles I fell off, & the swings & other playground maiming machines I flew off of as a kid. Suffice to say-I’m well acquainted with “road rash.”

No, I’m not a klutz; I think I can say I’m sure-footed. I’ve just led a very active life. In none of these falls was I seriously injured, just shaken up a bit. Thank you Jesus! One thing I’ve never done is to slip on a banana peel. Have you ever noticed they aren’t all that slippery?

Slipping is an awful experience; mainly that first instant you realize your feet are no longer underneath you where they’re supposed to be. Now it just remains to see how bad a landing you’ll have & how long recovery will take. It’s a great feeling after we’ve slipped & fallen to realize that the only thing that’s really been hurt is our pride.

Most, if not all of my slips happened long ago. I say that in humility knowing it could always happen again, to me or to any of us unless we take great care. As we grow older slipping takes on a more serious nature. In the elderly sometimes even the smallest slip can be life threatening. Paul’s admonition to “take heed lest we fall” is apropos in many areas of life.

Slipping is frightful, even if it’s not followed by a crash landing because, to point out the obvious, when you slip & fall, there’s only one way to go. We all know which way that is, & it isn’t up. Slipping & the law of gravity have been very tightly woven together since the foundations of the earth were laid. I think it’s true that “the bigger you are, the harder you fall.”

The bottom line is; to slip & fall is dangerous, to slip & fall is painful, & sometimes to slip & fall can be catastrophic.


Since I first found this wonderful Psalm as a young man it has fed me in so many ways. The writer came within an eyelash of having a tragic slip. He starts off by saying,-My feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped.
He’s telling us that he came close to slipping catastrophically.

When did he almost slip?

When ENVY invaded his heart.

My steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”


A number of years ago I saw the movie Amadeus. Though I could hardly stand some of characters, I was captivated by the story & brilliance of the actors. I could easily see why the movie was an Academy Award winner.

The story revolved around the musical genius Mozart, & a man named Antonio Salieri, a court musician to Austria’s King. Salieri was envious of the rich talents of young Mozart; talents he fell far short of. Though he could compose music it was not great music; consequently he was consumed with envy of Mozart’s talents. This led him to scheme & plot against Mozart at every turn.

He stole Mozart’s compositions, bribed Mozart’s servants & informed the King about Mozart’s indiscretions. Salieri’s envy eventually drove him to insanity. The movie ends with Salieri cursing God for denying him the talent which He gave Mozart. The story line shows what happens when a good man like Salieri is filled with & finally destroyed by envy.

As a minister, I’ve heard people admit to things that would make a sailor blush but I’ve never heard a person admit they had a problem with envy. So the first thing we know about envy is- it always travels incognito. We’ll see some reasons for that in this article.

1. One reason we envy is we assume that anything anyone has, we too should have.

In all probability we never even wanted the thing that someone else has until we noticed that he/she has it. Suddenly the fact that they have it, & we don’t have it is intolerable.

Another reason we envy is we don’t like admitting there are people who have greater talent or intelligence or skill than we have. We think that to acknowledge someone else as more talented or intelligence or skilled is to declare ourselves failures, which is WRONG!

2. A world system encourages us to envy.

What is advertisement if not something to make us unhappy with what we have? Want, anger, & resentment blended together becomes envy.

A Danish proverb claims, “If envy were an illness all the world would have a fever.” One wonders when we look at the present financial condition of our nation & the world, how great a part envy has played & continues to play. On Main Street as well as Wall Street there seems to be an envious spirit that feels merely being a millionaire is humiliating.

Envy is the twin of jealousy, though they’re not quite the same. Jealousy is concerned with not losing what it has while envy makes a rival of anyone who has what it wants. Both envy & jealousy stem from pride & deep self-centeredness so one sin begets another.

3. Envy poisons relationships.

Gore Vidal, a humanist author said famously, “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little part of me dies.” How sad is that, when even the good fortune of a friend can conjure up envy? How small is the heart that has no room to celebrate another person’s happiness?

You & I don’t envy people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or The Queen of England. We envy our dear friend or relative. Is this not tragic? If we have a friend who makes the same amount of money as we do, & he suddenly is making several thousand a year more than we earn, or maybe someone dies & leaves him some money, he appears less dear. In fact now he displays faults we never saw before. As we began to castigate this friend, we remain unaware of what’s going on in our head & heart.

The 800 lb.Gorilla in the room is we feel we’ve been left behind by our friend. We feel he has belittled us. In truth, he never intended to belittle us & in truth his money didn’t belittle us. But non-the-less we are as certain as we are that the sun rises in the east that our friend is now belittling us. Then, we think that we can restore ourselves to our rightful size by knocking our friend down.

Now we’re slipping are we not? Envy is always bent on leveling. So, end of relationship! Right?

4. The equation—Envy, belittlement, anger, self-rejection.

Envy causes us to be downhearted. Someone else having something we lack has caused us to feel like losers & now we find ourselves caught up in self-loathing. We think “how could they do this to me?” The more anyone tries to love us out of the mullygrubs, the worse we feel.

The Psalmist cries out— “my feet had almost slipped. I nearly fractured both legs, plus my spine & skull. I was nearly immobile. I almost went insane when I became envious of the prosperous.”

You may think “insane” is a little too strong a word for the Psalmist but if you read what he says next you’ll see how absolutely irrational he’s getting. He says,

These prosperous people have no pangs. They don’t suffer. They aren’t as finite & frail as we non-prosperous folk.”

See how silly he’s getting? But let’s be honest; when we’re envious of someone don’t we think of them as if they’ve “got it made?” Not only that, we think they can never be “unmade,” right? They can never suffer misfortune of any kind. Because they’re protected from financial loss, they are also protected from human loss of any kind. We go on in our foolishness to assume these prosperous folk are riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels.

5. Envy blinds us to so many things.

We have no compassion for the person we envy because they’ve “got it so good.” They are totally pain free & affliction proof. See how crazy envy can make us?

Envy poisons, envy embitters, envy blinds, envy turns us into self-pitying, self-righteous snivelers. It’s no wonder no one will admit to being envious. Who would brag that they are a poisonous, embittered, self-righteous whiner?

Listen to the Psalmist;

“All in vain have I kept my heart clean”, the Psalmist whines in his envy, “I have kept my heart clean & I received nothing for it.”
The truth is, he hasn’t kept his heart clean. He may have kept his hands clean in that as yet he has done nothing visibly wrong. But his heart? How can he pretend to have a clean heart when he is envious & his envy has turned him into a pitiless critic? No, he hasn’t kept his heart clean.


Envy is listed as one of the lusts of the flesh in Gal.5:21.

When envy is compared to anger & wrath, it’s so ghastly that the question is raised, “who is able to stand before envy?” It’s possible to be envious of anything; the ability to hit a baseball, score a basket, or water-ski. You can envy someone’s intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, & ability to talk or pray in public. You can envy another person’s possessions, spouse, money, children, family, job or career. I heard a preacher say once that some folk can be envious of the very “shine on your shoes.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament defines envy as “The feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.”

Envy is one of the most subtle, & ugly sins of them all. Webster defines envy as;

“A chagrin or discontent at the excellence or good fortune of another.”

In other words, envy is feeling bad about another person doing well. When our neighbor gets a five bedroom house & we are upset because we only have four, that’s envy. Eventually the envious person will end up hating the person who is the object of their envy.

When someone you envy gets into trouble, it’s hard to suppress a feeling of satisfaction. The face of envy is never attractive. It is among some of the most debasing & degenerate sins that ever characterized sinful men mentioned in Romans chapter one (Rom.1:29.) In the Bible, envy is always in the worst of company.


Envy is unique. Other sins are terribly destructive, but they at least have a few thrills & gratification, in the early stages.

Does envy, even for a minute ever make you feel better? As far as I can see, we gain nothing from envy. All you get from it is endless self-torment, yet its appetite is ravenous & ever increasing. The wise man said envy is “the rottenness of the bones.” Bone Cancer. (Prov.14:30.)

The awful bite of envy packs a double-whammy; for it causes you not only to feel bad because of someone else’s good fortune, at the same time it causes you to devalue your own good gifts. Isn’t that horrendous?

For example, I can hear another preacher who is outstanding, & if I’m envious, my first tendency is to think of myself as a very unskillful preacher. What I forget is-- that preacher didn’t steal his gifts from me. I’m just as good (or bad) a preacher as I ever was. That preacher hasn’t done one thing to devalue, or diminish my preaching. But that old devil envy has robbed me of the ability to appreciate what I have, & who I am in God.

Yet with this thing called envy, when you meet someone you think might have more gifts & skills than you, you start to see yourself as having fewer gifts. Such is the awesome power of envy to distort our thinking processes.


Just feeling bad because you don’t have something that the other person has isn’t the worst part. The worst part, the most tragic part is; you wish the other person didn’t have what they have so you wouldn’t have to suffer your “imaginary disadvantage.”

Jesus knew how harmful envy could be. Not only is He God, he was schooled in the Hebrew religion & its many illustrations of the destructive power of envy. The Bible abounds with examples of unchecked envy & its dire consequences. Envy has a very high mortality rate.

• The very first murder, the killing of Abel by his brother Cain, was sparked by envy.

• The 10th commandment is about envy-“You shall not covet.” If we’re not careful, envy will cause us to break the 8th commandment, “You shall not steal.”
• Envy is the big factor in the story Jesus told about the laborers in the vineyard, in Matt. 20. Look at the story. The owner of the vineyard, at the end of the day paid all the workers the same though some came early & some came later in the day. The workers who worked hard all day felt it wasn’t fair to be paid the same as the ones who only worked a short time. However, the owner reminded them that he hadn’t defrauded them in any way. They were paid what was agreed upon. The owner went on to say,

Why are you envious because I am generous?”

The same thing was happening in the story of the prodigal son. The older brother said, “It isn’t fair for you to welcome this wayward brother home with a big party when I’ve stayed home all these years & worked hard. You never gave a party in my honor.”

• Joseph’s brothers were “moved with envy”& hated him so much they couldn’t speak a kind word to him, & finally they sold him into Egyptian slavery.

• The religious leaders were motivated by envy when they lead the Jews to crucify the Son of God. -Matt. 27:18.

• Rachel envied Leah because she was barren & Leah had children. Gen.30:1.

• The Philistines were envious of Isaac because of his large flocks & many servants. Gen. 26:14.

• James says envy is devilish. James 3:15.

All we have to do is look at the 73rd Psalm to see how unhappy envy can make a person.

One thing is for certain. We will never be able to find contentment in this life if we compare ourselves to others because there’ll always be things that won’t seem fair. Envy makes it impossible to be happy with another person’s good fortune. It makes sense that envy & depression are great traveling companions.

In the middle of Psalm 73 the Psalmist has a moment of clarity. He starts to realize how badly he’s gotten off the beam. He gets a revelation on what envy is doing to him & what it can do to those around him. The New English Bible puts it;

Had I let myself talk on this fashion I would have betrayed the family of God.”

But the Psalmist needs more than he’s able to figure out on his own. He needs God. He says;

I went to the sanctuary of God & there I understood the situation the people I envy are really in.”
You will probably remember the death of John Kennedy Jr. in 1999. Kennedy was flying his wife & a friend of hers from New York to Massachusetts late one July afternoon. Not being cleared for flying on instruments, he made his plans to get to his destination before dark. However, because of delays he found himself flying over the ocean in darkness. The darkness made it impossible to keep his equilibrium by lining up with the horizon.

Expert pilots explained that Kennedy experienced disorientation or vertigo, a condition that allowed him to be flying upside down & not realize it. Then he lost airspeed & the plane stalled going into what pilots call the “graveyard spiral.” Kennedy lost his bearings in the darkness & kept saying, “where’s the ground?”

This is what insane envy did to the Psalmist. It caused him to lose orientation with “the ground.” He became spiritually disoriented. The only way you & I can keep from slipping & crashing is to re-orient ourselves constantly. For us that groundedness is God.

The only way we can avoid a crash is to stay in constant contact with God. As soon as that crazy thinking sets in, like the Psalmist, we must run to our heavenly Father for help. As the Psalmist enters the Sanctuary of God he is able to checkmate any further spin-offs & return to his “right mind.”

As we come to the end of Psalms 73, the Psalmist can scarcely believe how seriously absurd his thinking had became. He said,-I was stupid & ignorant,” he cries to God. “I was like a beast toward thee. I was insensitive to God & couldn’t see it.”

As his envy evaporates, sound thinking returns & he knows he’s been on the cusp of a catastrophe. He came within an eyelash of a “death-spiral.”

As Psalm 73 comes to a close, the Psalmist asks God,

Whom have I in heaven but thee? God is the strength of my heart & my portion forever.
This Psalm is a study in the pathology of envy. It also shows us the way to be delivered from poisonous envy, which can be a fatal condition.

Listen to the Apostle Peter’s words;

Wherefore laying aside all malice & all guile & all hypocrisies & all envying & all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of The Word that ye may grow thereby, if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2:1-2

Envy is a product of our old fallen nature. For that reason we can’t fight it in our flesh. Envy at its core is grasping, & godliness at its core is emptying.

Envy tells us that there isn’t enough & what we have & isn’t adequate.

Paul said;

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Instead of having a list of all the things you don’t possess, make a list of all you have. The writer of Proverbs reminds us;

……but he that is of a merry heart, has a continual feast.—Proverbs 15:15



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Master Key To Great Relationships

By John Stallings

The following story will tell us the main cause of divorce in this country. It will tell us the main cause of church splits. The main cause of broken friendships & family dissension is in this story. The main cause of strained relationships indeed, the root cause of many of life’s problems is in this story.


The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Matt13:44—The New Living Translation


A treasure is something that can change your lifestyle. A treasure is something that can take you from- rags- to- riches. A treasure is life changing money. A treasure is something to be coveted & much desired. Men spend their lives searching for treasures. They go to the ends of the earth for treasures. Sadly some people kill & steal in the hopes of gaining a treasure.


A field is a basically untouched uncultured piece of land, a place where briars & scrubby things grow. A field is a place where snakes crawl & small rodents like rats scurry about. Often larger things like wildcats & raccoons take up residence in a field. A field is a place where people dump garbage & even carcasses of animals. A field is a place where poison Ivy might grow along with weeds of every description. A field is a non-descript place with no real utility, no crops growing, just a field.

The man in this story finds such a field  & then he finds a treasure hidden in the field. He covers the treasure back up, keeps mum about it & then goes & sells everything he has to buy this field. When the man comes back he gets a chance to evaluate the field he’s purchased. He’s got more time now & starts to evaluate his new acquisition. As he walks off the property he finds some startling things. There’s no doubt he’s bought the treasure, but;

• He’s also bought some weed-thickets,
• He’s bought some rocks,
• He’s bought some ants & spiders,
• He’s bought some gopher-holes,
• He’s bought some field-mice & rats,
• He’s possibly bought a skunk or two & some snakes,
• Maybe he’s bought a raccoon & a opossum,
• He’s bought some garbage someone dumped on his land,
• He’s bought a few dead trees, & many old stumps,
• He’s bought some poison Ivy.

This man has bought all this stuff because he wanted the treasure buried in this field.

I can imagine the man as he goes into his field to start digging & all at once a big Iguana comes scampering out of his hole. Then he sees poison Ivy growing & as he turns around a large rat runs between his feet & he smells the odor of a skunk. What if this man got so disgusted with all the junk on his field that he forsook his field & the treasure buried there because of his negativity? It might be that close to this piece of land is a beautifully cultivated piece of property. He could go there & things would be much more pleasant for him. But wouldn’t it be silly for him to go to the other field where there is no treasure?

I realize that this story alludes to the kingdom of God & the hidden treasure in Christ. But let’s broaden the scope & application a bit & see another truth that presents itself to us here.


Far too often in life, people forfeit treasures because the treasure is surrounded by a field that looks too foreboding. We can’t escape the fact that almost 100% of the time great treasures are “guarded” by some sort of unpleasantness.

• This treasure wasn’t in a bank- it was in a field.
• It isn’t in a museum -it’s in a field.
• You may have to smell the odor of a skunk to get this treasure.
• You may have to run from a raccoon.
• You may have to stumble over some garbage.
• You might have to get stung by a few wasps.
• But some folk don’t want to encounter these negatives.


When we first meet a friend we are enraptured with him. He appears nearly faultless. And then all of the sudden we see a few weeds in his life. We see a few negatives, a few warts. Perhaps not stopping to think that we all have weeds in our fields, we turn away from that friend. We were looking for the treasure in the person’s life but maybe a skunk pops up & we break up with that friend. We get mad with our friend & in some cases we won’t speak to our friend after we find out about his field. So we go seeking another friend only to find sooner or later that friend will also have undesirable things in his field. In the process of seeking friends we must keep in mind that we also have our own fields containing rats, nettles & weeds & briars. We shouldn’t be surprised when trying to be the best friend we can be if our lizard jumps up & scurries across our field at the most inopportune time.


He falls in love with her because he sees so much to love & appreciate. He never stops to think that this angel he loves is really a human being, a person with a field. After he marries her & gets close to her he starts to see that she has enormous weeds in her field. He sees a mouse or two scampering in her field & maybe a little garbage. Then he decides he doesn’t want the treasure after all. But in all honesty, there’s not a woman in the world who doesn’t have a field. And by the way, the treasure the man saw is still in this girl, but he decides he doesn’t want to keep looking hard to find it. Maybe the lady doesn’t screw the lids back on bottles or containers & you’ve put ketchup on the ceiling more than once because of that. Many thousands each year are ending their marriages simply because of finding out that the person in whom they saw great treasure also has a field. No matter whom they move on to next they’ll find out that person also has a field. But the next person might not have the same treasure as the one they left behind.

The message is- if you have a good woman & find out she has some weeds growing & opossums running in her field, stay committed to her anyway because there’s great treasure there. She’s a good hearted woman who loves you, loves God, loves His word & loves her children. Like us all, she isn’t perfect but don’t throw away that treasure just because she has a field. Sir if you have a woman who’s cooking for you, washing & ironing your clothes & is loving & loyal to you she’s a treasure no matter what kind of field she’s got -so keep looking at that treasure.


He’s a dreamboat at first but then he gains enough weight to sink a ship. After a while she finds out he has a field, which all men do. She finds out while he’s smart he’s also stubborn. He has a field with weeds growing & garbage here & there. He’s a hardworking, faithful man who loves her with all his heart but he does have a field. He loves God & the things of God so don’t give up the field because there’s great treasure there. A lady told me once that she got furious at her husband for taking a nap on the couch in the afternoon & she divorced him basically for that reason. Years later she told me with tears in her eyes she’d do almost anything to see him once again napping on that couch.

I’m deeply troubled by the fact that in today’s America young people are marrying & divorcing many times just for the sex. Our sex-saturated society tells young people that their marriage bed will be like the sometimes lewd love scenes enacted in the movies they see. To make it even more tragic, many young men who’ve exposed themselves to pornography enter marriage thinking their marriage bed will resemble what they’ve witnessed in pornographic images. Though you may find it hard to believe, many marriages break up because one or both the partners feel the sex isn’t “wild” or “kinky” enough. A father told me once why his young daughter was divorcing her husband & marrying another man. He said, “It ain’t a thing in the world but sex.” As if the sex act was something that could comprise a large segment of a marriage. It’s true that sex within marriage is a beautiful thing & the bed undefiled, but anyone married or single who tries to make sex the center of their lives will sooner or later become jaded by it & learn that God didn’t design sex to dominate our lives but to enhance them. It will take much more than sex to keep us happy & build satisfactory relationships.


There is obvious treasure in a parent but most kids would laughingly say they have to dig deep to find it. I remember when I was a kid how at times I would get livid with my parents. As I grew older I realized that they did the best they could & were right most of the time. My dad would make me lie down across the bed from time to time & use his belt on me but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have it coming. Parents may be stubborn from time to time & have a temper but when we look at what they do for their children we can overlook a little field mouse scurrying around occasionally. It would be tough to grow up with no roof over your head & be forced to study by candle light, on an empty stomach. Don’t give all the treasures up because you see a weed or two in their field. Dads don’t get a lot of appreciation in life but every once in a while why not to go to dad & say; "Dad, I sure do appreciate this electricity you keep turned on for us. I can read so much better in the light. And I sure do like that good food you buy & the lunch money you give me every day."


A pupil looks at the teacher & says-- “Boy is she hard-boiled?” As I look back at the teachers I had as a kid, the ones I liked least then are the ones I like most now. The ones that let us get by with just about anything are the ones I respect the least looking back. There’s a treasure in a hard-boiled teacher. A kid might say, “But she gave me some demerits.” No she didn’t, the kid gave himself the demerits, and she just wrote them down. It’s a sad thing how unwilling we are to take a few negatives so that we may have a chance to get the positive

It’s possible that by looking around you might find a field with a little less garbage on it or fewer weeds growing but it’s very likely that the field you find won’t have a treasure either. If we go through life always taking the easy way or the line of least resistance, we can have an easier life but it won’t be a fulfilling life. The human spirit doesn’t thrive on ease & comfort. The human spirit thrives on challenges & accomplishments. If we’re to accomplish something worthwhile we’ll have to dig for it in some sort of field. The situations may be less than ideal because life hides its treasures. Blessed is the young person who learns this lesson early enough for it to do them some good.


You might start to attend the church & say to yourself what a treasure you & your family have found. The singing is superb & the pastor’s preaching is straight from the portals of Glory. But pretty soon you see some things that you don’t understand & you wonder about it. You see some weeds & you see a rat or two run across the church. Then you start to notice that the church people have a field & then you see that the pastor also has a field. There are problems in the church choir, in the Sunday school & in the Nursery. There are problems in the parking lot if the church is a large one & now you’re beginning to see all the flaws or the churches “field.” You saw the treasure first but it took a little time to see the field. Not only that- if you & I join the church, now there’ll be more treasure but alas, we’ll also bring our fields.

I can tell you, as someone who’s spent over half a century in the ministry, every church in the world has a drawback of some kind & if you aren’t aware of this principle it could be a terribly off-putting to you.

Several years ago we went to one of the most beautiful vacation spots in the world, out of the United States to conduct a revival in a large church. Each night we ministered to overflow crowds. We sold out of CDs on the second night & had to have more made locally. God confirmed His Word in every service & we saw many miracles take place. We stayed in a beautiful Condo, ate local cuisine daily & relaxed on a private beach.

You might say, “Brother John. What’s not to like about that?” Remember the principle; no treasure is ever going to be without its field? There was a couple on the ministry team who were given the assignment of working with us on the platform each night, & somehow they must have felt their job was to keep us humble. And that they did. Without going into detail, I’ll tell you that if a psychologist was to have observed it, I have no doubt he’d have called it professional jealousy.

In times like this you look at the person & think, “what have I ever done to you? You hardly even know me. What food have I ever taken off your plate? What child of yours have I kidnapped & held for ransom? Everything they could do to make us feel unwelcome is what this couple did, but nothing they tried did anything to harm the work God was doing. Sometimes novices in the ministry get the idea that if you go to a foreign country, folk are much more spiritual, but friend, our experience has been that people are the same everywhere.

When our work was done & we boarded the big jet that would bring us home, we looked down at that beautiful land shimmering in the ocean & had a warm feeling that we’d found treasure there & hopefully some of the sweet-spirited people had found some sort of treasure in us. But we still had to acknowledge that, consistent with the principle, that treasure was nestled in a “field.” Please know that absolutely every person you’ll ever know & every church you ever visit & every situation in which you become involved will have a treasure. But there’ll also be a field you’ll have to contend with. You will probably have to look hard for the treasure but the field is never hard to find.


Moses had great treasure but he was hot-tempered & his field kept him from entering the Promised Land.

* Noah had a great treasure but he had a field.
Peter had a treasure but he also had a problem with impetuosity.
David had a treasure but most of us know what his field was.
Jacob had great treasure but he was a con-artist with a large field.
Paul had a great treasure but he had a field.
James & John had treasure but they also had a field.

Every pastor you’ll ever meet will have a field.

Friend, why spend your life going from church to church trying to find a treasure without a field? Why go from spouse to spouse trying to find one without a field? Why go from friend to friend trying to find one without a field?
There is no such thing as a treasure without a field.

If all this be true & it is, if it’s true that we can’t find a treasure without a field, why don’t we go to that person we’ve fallen out with & make things right with them? Go to the person you’ve been criticizing & say you’re sorry. You saw something good in them at some point or you’d never had gotten closer to them in the first place. That good is still there- but be advised; in all probability their field is still there too. Tell them you saw a mouse & got spooked but you still see the treasure that’s within them & care enough about them to want to pursue your friendship.

Why not go to your wife or husband & tell them you’ve been pointing out all their mistakes but they are still the most precious person to you on the face of God’s earth. Look them in the eye & say, “Sorry sweetheart, I’ve been looking at the weeds in the field instead of the treasure that dwells inside you. Look at the person with whom you’ve been disenchanted & say—“Will you forgive me for I’ve been looking at the field instead of the treasure?


What a pity it would be to close this piece & not remind you of One who has no field, across whose path a rat never ran. One who never knew what it was like to have a weed in His field. One who each time you dig you’re not disappointed, you find treasure. Over the years in many parts of the world I’ve asked many people if they knew my Savior-the Lord Jesus Christ. I remember asking a lady in the Orient that question once & she told me in no uncertain terms she wasn’t a Christian & would never be because of the Christians she’d come in contact with. I told her “I wasn’t asking her to trust those people but I was asking her to trust Jesus. Can you find anything wrong with Him?” She said “No, & if more of your people were like Him more of our people would become your people.”

We don’t point people to the Pope, or an Archbishop or any other individual. They all have weeds. We don’t point them to a preacher, priest, rabbi, evangelist, we all have weeds. We point them to the Lamb of God who is faultless & without blemish & paid our sin debt on the cross of Calvary & offers us all eternal life.

Let’s go back & find the fellow with the field. He’s felt the sting of the nettles & weeds & he’s smelled a skunk or two. But he kept digging. One day all of the sudden he finds the treasure he’s been looking for. It was worth all of it because finally he’s got his hidden treasure.

In every human relationship there’s a treasure, but there’s also a field. Will we spend our live’s complaining about the field or rejoicing over the treasure.


........But we have this treasure in earthen vessels (jars of clay) that the excellency of the power may be in God not us. ----2 Cor.4:7



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Strange Case Of Grabber

By John Stallings

He was named as he emerged from his mother’s womb because he was grabbing his twin brother’s foot trying to reposition himself to be born first. This would have given him an advantage. You might call him “the evil twin.”

He spent the first part of his life cheating & conniving. Today he’d be like a Vegas card shark among other things. The bottom line is; you wouldn’t want to do business with him.

As time passed he lived up to his name. He grabbed his brother’s birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. He was his mother’s favorite so she later helped him grab his brother’s blessing belonging to the firstborn. This could sometimes mean as much as two thirds of an estate.


Of whom do I speak? Of course we’re talking about Jacob. He grabbed women, money, birthrights & property.

Grabbers are among us even today. You have to watch them closely because they will try to grab what they want with no thought of who gets hurt in the process. Sad to say you’ll meet many of these grabbers in church.

Jacob’s lying & cheating ways finally caught up with him & he had to leave the country because his brother Esau has threatened to kill him. He’s in his early forties, homeless & penniless. Jacob flees to his uncle Laban's house in upper Mesopotamia.

Follow the money” is a term we became familiar with back during the Watergate era. If you look at fights, especially family fights, you’ll find that money is somehow always at the root of the contention. So it is with the case of Jacob & his brother. I’ve heard pastors say the times when they most felt like leaving the ministry were when they witnessed families fighting, sometimes over the very caskets of their deceased relatives over family estate matters. The love of money is the root of all evil…1 Tim.6:10

So let’s join Jacob as he makes his way back to the Promised Land after a 20 year absence. He’s foot-sore from the long roads he’s traveled. He knows his twin brother who he cheated 20 years earlier still has a burr under his saddle & waits in the land so he sends an envoy to greet Esau. But the news isn’t good. Esau & an army of 400 men are coming. Immediately he divides his family & assets into two camps & sends out gifts to his brother to hopefully slake his thirst for revenge.

Soon the Sun goes down starting the darkest, most stressful, & at once blessed night of Jacob’s life. He is alone & is visited by someone & they wrestle. Why is this night so bizarre? Jacob had prayed for deliverance from his brother & his answer comes in the form of a fight with someone bigger, stronger & maybe meaner than his brother Esau.

In God’s dealings with us He has, -- Tender love,--Tactical love, -- Tough love-&--- Transforming love. Right now God has maneuvered Jacob into His Tactical love.Transforming love is coming soon.

What an answer to Jacob’s prayer; he wants to avoid a fight but gets a fight, however not the type he was expecting. An angel has come & picked a fight with him. But God is at work. As usual Jacob is only interested in his outward circumstances but God is more interested in the inner reality of who Jacob is.

Oh yes -God is going to help him but He’s going to do things His way. So Jacob & this “guy” wrestle. Now we know Jacob was a big strong man but whoever this mysterious figure is he’s wrestling with is able to dislocate his thigh with just a touch. The thigh is the strongest part of the body & God was going to break him at the point of his strength. But as we’ll see, God will never overpower a broken spirit.

Let’s pitch our mental tents here for a while. God can’t use a person until they’re crushed, wounded & broken. Does that sound like the God you serve? Well it is. Now I’m not referring to being physically broken, while that sometimes happens, but I speak of brokenness of spirit.

In Isaiah’s day the same mentality prevailed that is still very much entrenched in the minds of many Christians today; that being if you’re really pleasing God you’ll have smooth sailing, but if God isn’t pleased with you He’ll swat you with his big heavenly fly-swatter. Folk who believe that aren’t acquainted with the breaking nature of God.

In Isaiah 53, Isaiah looked through the telescope of time & wrote, - “It pleased the Lord to crush Him,” speaking of Jesus. But Isaiah himself was so full of this idea of God coddling His special ones that he opened this chapter with—“Who will believe this? I’m going to write the truth, the truth that –it pleased God to crush His Son- but who’s going to believe this report?

Then Isaiah goes on to describe the pain & suffering Jesus endured. When you & I receive the elements of the Lord’s Supper, we are affirming the awful crushing Jesus experienced on the cross. The bread represents His broken body & the cup represents His spilt blood at Calvary. No person God has ever used has escaped a crushing & bruising experience in their life for it will come in some form & at some point. The objective God has in this is to break the outer shell of flesh & cut through our soulish man so that the spirit man will become strong. You might call this process “God’s boot camp.” When we graduate from this course we’re usable to God because we’re no longer being led by our fleshly desires but by our strengthened spirit man.

A special fragrance comes from a crushed human spirit, if God has done the crushing, just as it does from a crushed rose.

Once it was clear that this heavenly messenger was going to leave his imprint on Jacob, he resolves somehow that the refining process will benefit him. Jacob holds to the angel & tells him he won’t turn loose without a blessing.

Then the angel who was wrestling with Jacob made a request that in a way is strange. He said; ---let me go for the day breaketh. Genesis 32:26. Why would this heavenly visitor be so anxious to get away? Heaven often operates this way.

In Matthew fifteen there’s the story of the woman from Canaan who came to Jesus & requested that her daughter be healed. At first the disciples tried to get rid of her & then they turned to Jesus asking Him to tell her to leave. Jesus had the famous conversation with her & ended up comparing her to a dog. Undaunted, she came right back saying, “I’m fine with that. It’s O.K if I’m a dog if I can be your dog.” Of course her persistence paid off & her daughter was healed. But when you read the story it seems that Jesus was trying to do exactly what this angel was trying to do; & that is not to be bothered, to be let alone; to be turned loose & allowed to leave. What’s the dynamic here & what’s the deal with God wanting get away, discouraging the seeker?

The answer is; God has a desire to be wanted & hungered for by man, his highest creation. He said…. You’ll find me when you seek me with all your heart. The angel Jacob was wrestling with was trying to pull away to see how much Jacob was going to fight for what he wanted. The same was true of the Canaanite woman. Jesus wanted to see how determined she was.
….. the violent take it by force. Matt.11:12.

Jacob survives this run-in with God so its certain he’ll be able to survive his run-in with his brother. If he can survive a face-to-face encounter with God surely he can survive his circumstances & even Esau.

During this wrestling match the angel asked Jacob his name. A few years back he had lied to his blind & dying old father & told him his name was Esau so he could steal his birthright blessing. Now Jacob was coming clean & told the visitor what his real name was; Grabber & deceiver. There’s no guile in Jacob now so God gives him a new name; from now on his name would be Israel---God strives.

God told him he’d be a patriarch but there would be a refining of Jacob & the refining would not be painless. Jacob called the place he met God Peniel, the face of God. His prayer had been to survive Esau but now he’d seen one greater than Esau & his life had been preserved.

Jacob like us, wanted to point to his circumstances but God wanted to change him inside. How often do we say to God; “Look God, the problem isn’t me it’s these terrible circumstances?” How often do we pray, “God change my spouse” when we should be praying, “God break my pride?” How often do we pray, “God give me the victory,” when we should be praying, “God defeat me here. Break me. Re-orient my thinking about who I am until I become who you want me to be?”

God met Jacob because He loved him & had a dream of Israel. God saved us because He has a dream of who we will be. And if He has to hurt us to make it happen, so be it.

Friend don’t let this next statement throw you but you’ve gotten yourself involved with a dangerous God. God isn’t “tame,” He’s dangerous. He will hurt you to heal you & He’ll expose the fraud of superficial covering if He has to. He has said that every hidden thing is coming out.

Several years ago when several great ministries fell, someone made the statement - “They’re all coming down sooner or later.” I didn’t know then & I still don’t know if the individual was a worthy commentator about anything, & I certainly don’t believe the “all” is appropriate. However I believe he was right with one caveat; the ones who’re not clean & upright will crumble. We’ll live to see God continue to clean up His house. It’s an abomination to take money from widows & people giving sacrificial offerings & spend it like they were richer than Solomon & these ego-driven ministries are going to be exposed.

Every ministry whether it be a church, evangelistic organization, T.V ministry etc. should keep in mind that when they misuse the people of God in any way they’re messing with Christ’s Bride. As I write this there’s a mammoth ministry under intense scrutiny out west & if they’re guilty of the charges against them, which I hope & pray they’re not, they’re going down & maybe to jail. It gives me no satisfaction to say that because when one Christian errs we’re all hurt & the cause of Christ is hindered.

Our God is good but He loves truth & light & when we play games with Him He’ll set fires to put us through to refine us. The fight we think we’re fighting probably isn’t the one in the forefront of God’s mind. Like Jacob we want Him to change the circumstances & relieve the pressure but His priority is to change us at our core.

Jacob learned God doesn’t do makeovers. That was never His plan. God doesn’t want us to exchange a headache for an upset stomach. That’s not how He rolls. God is a transformer, and transformation from what we are to who He sees is never painless. His goal for us is sanctification, to make us more like Christ & this is never accomplished by mere makeovers.

What happened between Jacob & Esau & the big clash that looked inevitable between them? Talk about much ado about nothing. Jacob had divided his people & possessions & sent (bribes) excuse me, gifts ahead to try to pacify Esau. (I’ll bet he got an earful from Leah about that) When they finally met, God had been at work on both ends of the line. Doesn’t that sound like the God you & I serve?

Esau wasn’t angry at Jacob but seemed genuinely glad to see his brother. Jacob shows contriteness & Esau is the model of forgiveness. It was a necessary encounter because it brought reconciliation which was badly needed by these estranged brothers. Neither of the men needs anything the other one has. Esau seems to expect that Jacob is going to come back & live at least near him in Seir but Jacob tells him to go on ahead because he & his brood need to travel slower.

Jacob knows he has an important destiny now & soon settles in Shechem & sets up housekeeping. He sets his flag down there, claiming this territory as Israel. This new nation will be founded on his new name & new found faith in God. He’s finally back where he belongs, back in the Promised Land.

What can we learn from Jacob? For one thing we can learn never to act out of fear because fear takes us away from God’s promises. Jacob’s actions caused him not only to run from his destiny but to do so without provisions which meant that things would be more difficult.

Our promised land isn’t spatial but spiritual. When we’re living our lives confidently & obediently we are in the place where God’s blessings can flow unimpeded & we can experience it most fully, making it possible for us to receive maximum blessings from God.

We can also learn that departure from the promised land, God’s will for us, always delays blessings. God was faithful & Jacob was still part of the line of promise & he will live in the land. When he left, Jacob only anticipated a few days absence but his little road trip lasted 20 years. He dealt with cantankerous old Laban for 20 years & never saw his mother again. It’s true he still saw God’s hand of blessing & mercy in his life but he paid dearly & had to face obstacles he’d have never seen had he not left.

We should take note; our faithless shortcuts will also result in fearful living outside our promised land. But returning to the promised land & God’s will for our lives is always an option. Jacob could have stayed with his father-in-law Laban. He could also have gotten his nose out of joint when God knocked his thigh out of joint. He could have gotten mad & given up on going back to his promised land but he made a conscious choice to go.

We all have wandered off the reservation. All of us have let our desires & fears get the best of us. That is at the very least unfortunate & at the worst tragic. The question is will we come back & when. Sometimes we can get so weary it feels better to just give up on God’s perfect will for our lives. But God is always waiting. Jacob was never disqualified. Jacob never quit & God never quit. The promised land is always there.

God knew He was dealing with an imperfect guy with Jacob as He is with us. We’re prone to wander from His perfect will. I have invested my whole life expounding in sermon & song the following truth; God’s Word assures us again & again that no matter how bad we’ve blown it, He will take us back. The choice is ours, His acceptance is assured.

Towards the end of his life we see Jacob again as a prophet, giving prophesies concerning the future of his descendants. (Gen.49) He was a man who knew the secret councils of God & was truly a prince of God.

Then we see him once again in a somewhat unlikely place. In Hebrews 11:21, we read, “By faith Jacob when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, & worshipped leaning upon the top of his staff.

If you think about it in one way, to have Jacob’s name mentioned in this chapter of great faith exploits seems a bit incongruous. Why include a man who’s leaning on a staff & worshipping in the great Hall of Fame of believers? What Jacob is doing doesn’t look like a miracle of faith.

Why was Jacob leaning? Well, the angel knocked his thigh out of joint in that wrestling match. They tell me a man has a problem walking or even standing if his thigh is out of its socket. God allowed that impediment to remain with Jacob for life. To put it bluntly, after Jacob’s encounter with the angel, he was a cripple. The story of Jacob’s life after the night he wrestled with the angel was “I’m learning to lean on God.” The staff symbolized his helplessness & reminds him of the night God broke him of his stubbornness & self-will.

Jacob wanted to change his circumstances but God wanted to change him & He did. Boy, did he ever? God’s priority isn’t what happens in our lives. His priority is what happens in us. Jacob could not continue to be a grabber after God changed his heart.

Have you noticed that in His Word God calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac & ---not Israel---but Jacob?” Yes God linked Himself with the grabber, the grabber transformed. It’s a marvelous thing how God allows an imperfect man to leave the past behind, grow in character & become an integral part of His plans & purposes.

Psalm 46:11 says …The God of Jacob is our refuge.

As with Jacob, more than anything else God is interested in who we are becoming. May He write this lesson deep in our hearts?

Praise His name!!



Friday, October 7, 2016

Is Jesus The Only Way To Heaven?

By John Stallings

To answer yes to that question, to say-“YES, Jesus is the only way to heaven”- is considered by many people, even some Christians, to be the most narrow- minded, bigoted, arrogant, mean-spirited, intolerant and hateful statement that could ever be made!

Does that surprise you?

It’s incredible to me that the most fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, i.e. The Deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ, is being called into question or debated among people who call themselves Christians. But this is precisely what’s taking place. In some quarters there’s a questioning of whether a personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be preached as a prerequisite for salvation.

Recently a poll was taken and it showed 57% of evangelical church goers said they believed many religions can lead to eternal life. Apparently in our culture, the number one atrocity isn’t rape, or murder, but rather its intolerance. A scant 12% of Americans claim their religion is the only true faith.

When asked;- “Do you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven” even some prominent Christian leaders have been heard to say - “We’ll I’m not God and I’m going to leave it to Him to decide who’ll end up saved and allowed entrance into heaven.”

A prominent Baptist preacher/educator was recently asked by a reporter of the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; - “Do you believe non-Christians can go to heaven?” He answered;-“That’s a good question to ask because the way we stand is we contend that trusting Jesus is the way to heaven. However, we do not know who Jesus will bring into the kingdom and who He will not. We are very careful about pronouncing judgment on anybody. We leave judgment in the hands of God and we are saying Jesus is the way. We preach Jesus but we have no way of knowing to whom the grace of God is extended.” So this educator and ordained Baptist minister is in the misty fog here. It’s just a big mystery.

One of the most famous pastor/T.V evangelists recently “fence-straddled” when Larry King asked him if he believed atheists would go to heaven. He said-“I am going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell.” When Larry asked him if Jews or Muslims could go to heaven without trusting Christ he replied;-“I’m very careful about saying who would go and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know.” According to him too, the actual qualifications for heaven are a mystery.

This world famous Christian minister chose to skate around the issue for fear, I suppose, that someone would be offended or put-off if he made any kind of absolute statement about his faith. That would be considered…well…intolerant.

A scripture comes to mind here. Jesus said; But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matt.10:33

So at least as far as these two powerful Christian leaders are concerned, there’s a mystery connected with the requirements for eternal life in heaven. If some are coming through that way it must be a “Mystery door.” According to scripture, Jesus is “The Door of Heaven.” If it’s true as the aforementioned ministers’ in essence imply, that there’s another big door …. “The Mystery Door” and we can’t and won’t know until judgment day whom He’ll let into heaven, then instead of the plan of salvation being simple, it’s not really as plainly marked as we’ve believed it to be. If this were true [it’s not,] then the “mystery door” is as much a part of getting folk to heaven as faith in the finished work of the cross upon which Jesus shed His blood.

As we watched not long ago the brouhaha unfolding  concerning the plausibility and feasibility of a Muslim Mosque being built within a stones throw of Ground Zero in Manhattan, we’ve been reminded that we don’t inhabit the same world that we did just a few short years ago. It’s my personal opinion that president Obama did what he does best and “clod-hopped” into the fray, but the one thing he did was to show an obvious bias for Muslims. This isn’t a surprise to most Americans. We understand that if it were a nativity scene in question, or even people singing The National Anthem on the sidewalk anywhere near the site it would immediately be squelched.

The good news is it allowed the president to do something I’d never heard him do before and that’s to stand up for the Constitution as well as our Founders and freedom of religion. I suspect that was an “unintended consequence.”

Paul warned us  when he wrote;-

For the time will come when they {church folk} will not endure [tolerate] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they shall heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.”-2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Paul had no tolerance for those who would not preach the gospel. In Galatians 1:8 he said;

But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Far too many preachers stand in pulpits and feed tasty doctrine whipped into a creamy filling suitable for topping canapes. That’s a palatable but not very sustaining spiritual food. People go looking for syrupy homilies that will bolster their self-esteem, wanting to hear anecdotes and vivid vignettes to help them find fulfillment or entertaining monologues that will brighten their lives.

We need not only expository preaching, we need expository listening from people who don’t have “itching ears” but will demand and ingest “the sincere meat of the Word.”

Let’s contrast the aforementioned minister’s words to the words recently spoken by Franklin Graham. You will remember that Franklin, the son of Billy Graham was removed as speaker for the National Day of Prayer service at the Pentagon some time back. Things Mr. Graham said that “disqualified” him for speaking was as follows; in a USA Today interview Graham said referring to one of the five Hindu deities, “None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big Kumbya service and all hold hands and it’s going to get better in this world. It’s not going to get better.” Another Graham “offense” was saying-Islam is evil, and Muslims and Hindus don’t pray to the same God he does.

Graham didn’t back down from anything he said earlier and in a Newsweek Web Exclusive he restated his position;-“I am who I am. I don’t believe that you can get to heaven through being a Buddhist or Hindu. I think Muhammad only leads to the grave. Now that’s what I believe and I don’t apologize for my faith. And if it’s divisive, I’m sorry.”

In my view, Mr. Graham hit the ball out of the park.

If a major research establishment, say The Mayo Clinic discovered a treatment that would cure all kinds of cancer, the treatment is 100% effective, and they said-“This is the only treatment you’ll ever need,” would it be narrow-minded or arrogant for them to say that?

Moreover, in this day when people want to keep tolerance in everything and resent radical statements about absolutes, do you think a parent with a child stricken with terminal cancer upon hearing this would complain and say, “You know, even though this involves my child’s health, I don’t think it appropriate for you to make such rash claims. What about the other potential cures?”

When it comes to cures for potentially deadly diseases, most folk are looking for a “Silver Bullet Solution.”


Let’s take it a step farther. What if a parent took their sick child to a doctor and after the diagnosis, the doctor said, “There are hundreds of potential cures for your child’s condition. I have studied them all and I recommend all of them for your child’s treatment. I won’t however recommend a specific path of treatment for your child because that would be arrogant and intolerant. There are plenty of medical journals that perhaps would dispute my recommendation and my advice would in all likelihood offend some of my colleagues. So you’ll have to come to your own conclusion because in the end, any medical treatment is going to lead to your child’s healing.”

The same parent who might be offended at someone making absolute statements about religion would get in that doctors face and say, “What are you talking about? This is nonsense! You’re supposed to help me. Stop this ridiculous pluralistic and relativistic mumbo-jumbo and help me see my child get well.” At the end of the day when push comes to shove, we all hold to absolutes!

When it comes to the disease of sin, which is terminal beyond doubt, truth demands that we share with the world the good news that Christianity can provide both the diagnosis and the remedy.

What if I were hiking high in the mountains, and was standing 50 feet away from the edge of a cliff, and to fall off that cliff would mean an 1800 feet drop into the jagged rocks on the canyon floor. If I spotted an elderly man walking dangerously close to the edge, and I realize he’s blind and has no idea of the danger he’s in, which of the following things would I be correct in saying; - “Hey my Brother, you’re walking straight toward a pretty bad drop-off and you need to get away from there. You can go any way you like, just do it quickly and you’ll be O.K!” –Or-“Hey my Brother- don’t take another step. You’re in mortal danger. I’m coming to get you.” And then I went to him, took him by the hand and led him to safety. Which approach would be considered right? I think we can all agree that love would constrain me to do what I could to save his life.

Just to clarify, I don’t think God is more interested in “getting us to heaven” than he is seeing us conform to image of His dear Son while we’re moving through this ‘mortal coil.” But since the question has already been cast around the paradigm of attaining heaven, that’s where I’ll pitch my mental tent.


Consider the words of Jesus in John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.

This is an utterly exclusive claim by our Lord that without Him and apart from Him there’s no way to The Father in heaven. There’s not a plan-B if you decide against Jesus.

Note that Jesus doesn’t say-I am a way, a truth, and a life. He insists He’s “The way, the truth and the life.” It’s important to remember who’s making this statement. Jesus isn’t just a good man or a great prophet, Jesus is God in human flesh.

Jesus says He’s the only way you can get to heaven. You can’t get there by being good. You can’t get there by being religious. You can’t get there by ceremony or knowledge or pedigree. Jesus doesn’t just point out the way He is the Way. He doesn’t just teach the truth, He is the Truth. He doesn’t represent one avenue to life or one possibility in life, He is the Life. Mankind’s quest for truth ends in Jesus Christ. Having said this, in some people’s minds I now join the ranks of the “narrow-minded, intolerant bigots.”

In 1 Corinthians 3:11 Paul says;-For no man can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5 says;-There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Paul says in Romans 10:9—If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved.

Listen to Peter’s words—Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. -Acts 4:12.


The only way we can say there are other ways to heaven besides faith in Christ is to completely discount everything the Bible teaches on the subject.

The whole gospel boils down to this one universal truth; because our sins have separated us from God we need a mediator to bring us back to Him. Because the “sin-gap’ is so wide, we need someone from heaven who is Himself eternal to bridge the gap for us. Jesus is the only one who could bridge that gap. By His death He paid for our sins and bridged the gap that separates us from God. By His resurrection He proved He is the Son of God. The remains of all the other historical religious leaders are still in their graves.

No other mediator is necessary—no other mediator is possible.


I'm sure you've noticed that the world we live in is rather narrow. Certainly the law of gravity and the temperature at which water freezes and boils have a stubborn uniformity. If you enter a phone booth, you can’t dial any combination of numbers and get your home. Every business and residence has its own set of numbers that must be dialed to reach that location. If you set out to drive to California you can’t take any old road and expect to get there. If you have a headache, you don’t go to your cabinet and blindly pick out any bottle and expect relief. When I’m on an airliner, I expect the pilot to land on a runway not beside a runway, and not upside down.

Suppose a teacher put on an exam the question,- what’s the capitol of New York? When the test papers were returned she’d marked wrong any answer but the right one, Albany. One student had written the answer, New York City and the teacher had marked it wrong. Let’s say the young man who answered New York City wasn’t happy with the results and he turned to the other students and asked, “How many of you thought the capitol of New York was New York City? Let’s say half the students agreed with the young man and thought the capitol was New York City. The student then turns to the teacher and says, “So what makes you think your opinion is more valid than ours?” It’s obvious that there is only one correct answer to that question in spite of differing opinions.

Some people place spiritual truth into the area of opinion and anyone who tries to shift answers back from the realm of opinion to God’s authority is looked on as an intolerant person.

The other night Juda and I watched a Denzel Washington Lifetime Movie called The Great Debaters. It told the story of a Negro debate team from Texas, who back in the thirties won top national awards for debating. It was interesting to see how, before personal computers the students had to research their subjects. When they were traveling, they’d be in their motel rooms with books lying all over the beds to the point that they almost slept with books.

The point was, they had to be right in what they were saying during their debates. The researcher was as much an important part of the debates as the speakers. One of the comforts we as Christians can take is the fact that the claims of Jesus Christ have been more researched than any other group of facts man has ever known.

Let’s say for the sake of argument we accept that other religions will go to heaven. But the kicker is…none of these other religions—not Buddhists…..not the followers of Confucius…..not Taoist….not Hindus, none of those faiths have as their ultimate goal the kind of heaven most westerners have in mind. In most cases, these religions don’t even want to go to heaven.

The Buddhist doctrine is that all life is suffering and the goal is to end all suffering. Their big deal is something called Nirvana, a state of being absorbed, if you will into the great nothingness of the cosmos. You no longer have an individual existence or awareness of yourself. The Buddhists and Hindus see a cycle of reincarnation where life looks like a giant wheel. It goes around and around every time you die and are reincarnated.

It’s only people who’re raised in some sort of Christian culture who seem embarrassed by the exclusiveness of claims of Christ. Oddly enough most of the other religions try to incorporate this exclusive Jesus into their faith in some way. Muslims call Him an honored prophet. Buddhists refer to Him as a Bodhisattva, or an enlightened one who shows the path to others. Hindus think of Him as an incarnation of Vishnu, one of their highest Gods. I wonder if somehow deep in the collective heart of all humanity there isn’t that general revelation from God that points to Jesus as in fact, The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Somehow the thought has taken hold that sincerity, not the truth is the higher of the two virtues. But in religious matters sincerity is never enough. We’re not talking here about our emotions or our preferences. The issue is truth. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the people of Islam or Hinduism. But sincerity only matters when applied to the proper object. You can be sincerely wrong and still be wrong. Believing the wrong things doesn’t make it right.


Today our world grows smaller and smaller and we find ourselves rubbing shoulders with people from different religious backgrounds. This is a relatively new phenomenon…growing more intense. Let’s face it. It looks like in the future we’re going to have Muslims and people of other religious beliefs living all around us and our children will go to school with them. This is already happening.

How do we best explain what we believe to those of other religions? That’s an important question! Our challenge going forward isn’t just going to be to believe in the facts we’ve tried to present here about Christ, but rather to articulate this message in a culture that rejects our views. We must concern ourselves with boldly yet respectively sharing Christ with unbelieving classmates, friends and family.

The important thing is not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid of someone who doesn’t share your point of view.

Don’t be afraid of your Muslim co-worker or your Hindu neighbor.

Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a student who has no religious beliefs whatsoever.

If we’re afraid we become defensive and that can make us all mouth with no ears. In the west they call it “All hat and no cattle.” It’s not a sin or a mistake to let someone else explain what they believe and how they view the world. But pray as you listen to others so that you can get better understanding of who they are and what they believe. If you and I show ourselves friendly, God will open doors that we could have never opened on our own. I also believe that one of our greatest challenges is to know what we believe and why we believe it. Knowledge is strong medicine.


Remember you can’t argue a person into the Kingdom of God. Neither can you insult them into belief in Christ. It seems also evident but swearing at folk doesn’t make them want to run to the cross. As we’ve said, it helps to remember that people without Christ are spiritually blind. 2 Cor. 4:4.

Until their blindness is removed by the Holy Spirit they will never “See” the truth. You might as well get angry at a blind person for not seeing the color green. Our strategy must be based on kindness and Christ-centeredness.”

Listen to 2 Timothy 2:24-25;

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel: instead be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

For most of my life I’ve endeavored to focus my ministry on the supremacy of Jesus. If I fail to boldly lift Him up my efforts become irrelevant. No church group or denomination can get someone to heaven but Jesus can.

This is all that matters! Life’s biggest decision is what we do with Jesus and how we proclaim Him to a dying world.

We can’t let fear of being called intolerant Christians cause us to be weak-kneed when the world’s most important question is asked; “Is Jesus the only way to heaven?”

The answer is, YES!




John 14:6

John 3:31-36

John 11:25-27

Matthew 7:13-14

Acts 4:12, 10;42-43, 17:30

1 Timothy 2:5-6

1John 5”12

Monday, October 3, 2016

If America Had Survived

By John Stallings

After the great depression of the thirties America crumbled into anarchy and another civil war causing her to be fractured into three regional sub-countries: North, South and West.

So, when World War 11 exploded, America simply didn’t exist.

By 1943 the tidal wave of German power had crushed all its surrounding nations, including the United Kingdom. Soon after that, all of Africa cowered beneath the Swastika.

Then the Nazis who’d been working on nuclear weapons unleashed them on sixteen Russian cities. Twenty-five million died in the atomic blasts and with them any hope of ever again living in a stable world.

The Japanese meanwhile were pillaging China in the Far East. The Imperial army then rolled south and overwhelmed India and Pakistan making surrogate armies of their vast multitudes. They continued their blood-lust crushing Southeast Asia and Australia with unspeakable violence.

By 1944 the empire of the Rising Sun ascended over Asia to the Hawaiian Islands, and Japan’s western boundaries extended to Pakistan and central Russia. Hitler’s Third Reich ruled everywhere else.

Now the world grid of satanic control locked in place plunging the earth into impenetrable darkness. Pieces of America were pulled back into place and she was ruled by Nazi Germany and policed by German troops and the Gestapo. Hitler’s dream of marching down Pennsylvania Avenue was finally realized. Democracy wasn’t to be found anywhere on planet earth, and the whole world sank into a totalitarian “black hole” void of any freedoms.

Mein Kamf, Hitler’s life story was taught and applied in the halls of higher learning. Hitler hasn’t just replaced George Washington as America’s founding father he’s taken the place of Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. The calendars were reset to coincide with Hitler’s birth year. American children entering school sang hymns to The Fuhrer.

Americans were duped into believing that their new world having been cleansed of Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables” has now evolved into a purer form of humanity. Dark skinned non-Europeans have learned to accept their roles as “inferiors” and are classified as “servant races.”

All liberty was gone. There existed no freedom of the press or right to protest, no balance of power in government, no political parties, and no open debate or exchange of ideas.

There existed no open vibrant Evangelical church and Pentecostal was just another word for a “mental disorder.” There were some underground churches but people attended at the risk of their life. There is no Christian music, no religious books, no spiritual media and “Billy Graham” was a common but insignificant name.

There now existed –No Israel! A world without America became a world without Jews. Jews were hiding in nooks and crannies in the remote recesses of the earth.

One can’t help but weep when looking back all those decades ago. We rightly wonder what it might have been like Had America Survived.

Even though you know the above scenario didn’t really happen, minus the grace of God and His protecting hand, something like you’ve just read certainly could have happened. Indeed it could still happen, with different circumstances of course.


God desires us to stand in the gap for our nation, positioning ourselves between the failings of man and the sufficiency of God’s grace and forgiveness, and then persevere until full restoration comes.

In God’s eyes, intercessors outweigh the need for immediate judgment on a society. Consider Moses. He interceded for three million rebellious Israelites. Moses indeed pastored a “trouble church.” Although the nation hadn’t repented, God’s wrath was turned away. [Num.14]!

Daniel prayed and obtained God’s favor for thousands of exiled Jews. Why did God respond to these men; because He seeks for one person to believe in mercy and cry for it. He said …

“He searched for a man among them who would stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it.

Notice, God wasn’t looking for someone to “point-out the gap.” We have millions of folk who will gladly serve as “gap pointers” but they’re not so anxious to be “gap fillers”. God is still looking for those who’ll “stand in the gap!” Ezek. 22:30]

God is looking for a people who are spiritually mature and plainly see what’s wrong, and begin to intercede for America.

When Job prayed for his friends, God fully restored him. Over and over in God’s Word we are told to pray for, not against.” You and I are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and “pray for each other that we may be healed.”


If you and I don’t want to see a scenario like the above where America slides into a living hell, we must do at least four things.

In 2nd Chronicles 7:14 God said,

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”


He said


Under "if," there are four things His children called by His name are to do.

It is important that we understand fully each of them separately and then as a whole. Be assured that God is ready to do what He said He would do when we come in complete obedience with Him. “If my people which are called by my name will….


Humility simply means dependence on God, not self. This is a difficult position for any of us because we tend to depend on other factors than God only. We depend on our intellectual or physical strength. We depend on our education or our employment. We depend on family members or our friends. But God wants us, above all, to depend on Him.

Pride turned angels into devils in heaven. The bible doesn’t say-God resists prostitutes or God resists fornicators, or God resists murderers or God resists drunkards but Pastor James tells us that “God resists the proud.” A proud individual has both God and the devil against them.

Years ago Juda and I sat in the office of a well known denominational leader. We were together for a short period of time, and after a few minutes, he smiled and said something that stunned me. He said--"We're leaders,” speaking of himself and us, “and the “Little man” looks to us for answers.” Immediately my heart sank because I could hear God saying, "Don't ever let that idea cross your mind. And don’t ever let the words- the “Little man” creep into your vocabulary.”

This leader was using such high-sounding words and including us, consequently both Juda and I had to resist looking over our shoulders to see if anyone else had entered the room. The words he was using didn’t describe us at all.

If we’d been sitting in the office of the CEO of a large company and he alluded to “The little man” that would be understandable but we were sitting with a Christian leader.

At that moment, it felt as though the Lord had sent an arrow straight into my heart. I knew exactly what He was saying to me. This leader was speaking out of devilish pride. Pride brings destruction, and it does not belong in the life of a believer. At least, not the kind of pride that lifts self up and fails to glorify and honor God. Perhaps this man didn’t recognize what he had said. Or maybe he just spoke before he thought.

Or it may have been that God wanted to use this man’s words and attitude to send a word of caution to me. Regardless, pride can and does explode God's plan for our lives.

We heard a year or two later that this man had lost his leadership role and had been demoted to the boonies. I presume he went to pastor the “little people.”

Many times, we begin our Christian walk well. Our focus is set on God, and our hearts are fully committed to Him. Then without warning, pride begins to rise up, preventing us from being all God wants us to be. It tempts us to believe that we know better than God does. If left unchecked, pride will alter our attitude toward God and the route He has chosen for us to take.

Of all the sins discussed in the Bible, pride is the one with the most devastating results. If we’re not vigilant we can become prideful over the good things God has given us — jobs, children, and financial resources, etc.

Pride is at the top of the list of sins that God despises:

"Pride and arrogance and the evil way…And the perverted mouth, I hate" (Prov. 8:13).

Then God tells us to…

3.  PRAY

It seems that much of the modern professing church would like to do anything except pray. Many of those who preach a lot of good doctrine and cross all their theological T's will do almost anything except pray! They'll learn Greek and teach Systematic Theology. They’ll study for doctorates and spend their time writing theological essays for seminary journals. Yet many of the very same ones don't seem to have enough time to pray!

How do I know they don't pray? It's obvious. Jesus said that what you do secretly God will reward you for openly (Mat. 6:6). When these men stand up publicly to teach and preach God's Word, if they were praying men there would be a power that would attend the spoken Word. Deep conviction from the Holy Spirit would go forth and seize the hearts of the hearers.


We need a lot more men like Epaphras in the church today.

Paul said,

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. (Col. 4:12)

The word struggling is used of Olympic competitors who trained vigorously with all their might to press through and gain the prize (cf. 1 Cor. 9:25). This man was a prayer soldier of Jesus Christ. He was intense, passionate, and full of zeal in prayer (v. 13). Yet Paul told the Colossians that “he is one of you".

This man was no superhuman. He was one of us. He was buffeted by a fallen flesh that tempted him to think prayer was drudgery. He might have been tempted to doze off once in a while when rising too early and laying his head on his bedside in prayer. Yet he still pressed on, so much so that he won the commendation of an apostle and was thought worthy by the Holy Spirit to be etched on the pages of Holy Scripture for all eternity.

This man agonized in prayer. He pressed on with focus and stamina in faith to pray the burden through and win the prize. And not only did he pray intensely for a few moments before Sunday's service. Paul said he "always" struggled and labored in prayer for the saints.

We can study less, socialize less, play less, relax less, if we will only pray more. The person who breaths the air of the secret place of the most High as a way of life is a person through whom God grants His power and anointing.

We need to return to the prayer closet! Our every blessing, our every step, our every plan, and those of our children, the future of this great Republic, everything is dependent on prayer. Do you see it? Prayer is one of the four of God’s conditions to heal us as a nation.

If you and I could really grasp (Hebrews 4:16), it would revolutionize our prayer life.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

God works only in concert with the praying of His people. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit join us when we begin to pray because they know the Father moves only in concert with the praying of His people. Then God says…..


I must confess right here that I really haven’t sought God’s face as I should have. To be honest I’ve sought His hands, asking for things more times than I should have.

Do you see any difference in seeking His hand and His face? There is a vast difference.

When you and I seek His face, we go before Him just to be with Him and not ask Him to do anything. There is a reason why it is important for us to come before Him with praise and worship. It’s important, first, to understand that adoration does not change God. God will never be any greater than He is and our worship does not add to Him at all. Adoration changes us. When we begin to praise and worship, we are changed and want to love Him more and walk with Him more closely.

When God commands us to "seek His face," He is commanding us to undergo a spiritual restoration in our hearts and in our vision -- He wants us to remove the grime of religion -- the soot of life -- the stuff of experience -- so that we can see Him as He truly is

-- We do this through His word -- we do this through His Spirit -- we do this by spending time with Him alone.

Just as Jesus had to carry His disciples up on the mountain, away from the crowds, in order for them to see Him in His glory, we need to remove ourselves from the trappings of this world and spend time with God if we are to see Him as He truly is.

Sometimes you hear folk say; “My God doesn’t let children get killed.” My God would never allow anyone to go to hell.” My God wouldn’t do this or that. When they use the words “My God” are they telling us that they’re worshipping a God of their own mental creation, not the one true High God of Heaven.

A god of our making will never bring revival -- a god of our making cannot heal or forgive or restore -- it is only when we seek out the true God of the Bible that we will see healing and restoration and revival in our land and in our homes and in our churches. The fourth of God’s conditions is….


Remember, God is speaking to His children, not unsaved people. Do you find it strange that sin enters the equation? Do Christians have problems with sin? Most of us understand the necessity of Christians dealing with sin in their lives.

Some folk will point their finger and say -Ya’ll have sinned, but the Bible says - All Have Sinned!

Until the Christian confesses and forsakes known sin in his life, he cannot pray for the healing of his nation. The Word is plain:

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). "

God's hand is not short that He cannot save. Neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, But your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid His face from you so that He cannot hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).

A person who wants to pray for America must confess and forsake sin if God is to hear their requests.

Becoming conscious of sin is known as conviction--and is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 18:6-11) who applies the Word of God as a mirror to let us see ourselves as God sees us. This is the beginning point in getting on praying ground.


If we don’t deal with specific sins and try to do it by wrapping all our sins in a bundle to present to God, we’ve simply run the lawn mower over the weed. The root is still there and the weed will come out again. The only way to get the root out is through biblical confession.

Following confession is forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). The very moment you confess your sins, your record sheet in the ledger which contained them is now clean.


 1. "I will hear from Heaven."

I equate Heaven with Headquarters, where the resources are kept. It is significant that God says that He’ll open up the store house. He does not have to put us on back order.

2. "I will forgive their sin."

Unconfessed sin robs the Christian of the joy of God's salvation. That is exactly what happened to David (Psalm 51:12). When the Christian loses the joy, he doesn’t worship well, walk well, work well, witness well, or war well. A heavy load will settle on him--even if he does not know what is happening. The word forgive means to lift and remove a heavy load.

3. "I will heal their land."


Healing change will come only when we as God’s people accept much of the responsibility for America. We must humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. We must lead the way in SEEKING GOD’S FACE—remembering that God always STARTS healing revival with His people. It goes from the Christian to the church -to the community -to the county -to the country and then -to the continents. And let me just stop and ask, fellow Christian. Are you willing for it to start with you?

Alexander the Great once found out that one of his soldiers that carried the name of “Alexander” had proven to be a coward. He called the man to appear before him and told him to either live up to the name or change it. Fellow who is called by God’s name...let’s live up to our name!


After all they don’t have God’s Spirit living in them as we do.

We are the salt...we are the light. The sad fact is the main reason America is where it is today is because we haven’t been doing our job. We who are called by God’s name, have not prayed long enough, have not followed Jesus closely enough, have not loved deeply enough, have not given sacrificially enough, and most of all—have not witnessed passionately enough.

We should vote for candidates who embrace Biblical convictions—but to rely only on votes and petitions is treating the symptom not the disease itself. Political remedies to our nation’s moral ills are not a real cure for the underlying spiritual problems. And of all people, Christians ought to know that. We should know that LIVES, not LAWS need to be transformed. As people who have experienced God’s grace, we should understand that a law cannot make people righteous. After all, Scripture is clear on this.

Galatians 2:21, 16 says,

“If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. No one is justified by works of law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Wake up America!

A headline that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 15, 1999, should give all of us hope. The headline read, “Comatose man wakes after 7 1/2 years.” It gave the account of police officer Gary Dockery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who had taken a bullet in the forehead and was in a coma for 7 1/2 years. What was remarkable was when he woke up, he immediately spoke clearly to his sister as if no time has passed. A family friend said, “There’s not but one way to describe it. It’s a miracle of God.” When officer Dockery awoke he asked for his sons whom he had not seen since they were 5 and 12 years old, then 12 and 19.

If a man who’d been in a coma for 7 1/2 years can wake up, there’s hope for America.

Are you concerned about the course our nation is taking under the current leadership in Washington D.C? I’m deeply concerned, thus this article. Again, let’s look at God’s four conditions…





Some people trust in government and turn to national leaders for help but we are different.

As Psalms 20:7 says,

  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Blessings, and,

God bless America!