Monday, May 2, 2016

Making The Best Of A Bad Situation

By John Stallings

“Part of the hospital’s roof blew off. Power was lost. Snakes swarm in the waters that flooded some hallways. We lost our generator within 24 hours. We could not get fuel. We had to “hand-bag ventilate patients,” Dr. Albert Barracas said. In the midst of this chaos, the hospitals doctors worked around the clock, putting their patient’s health above their own.

Such heroic stories abound in the midst of the death, destruction & displacement of Hurricane Katrina, the storm which in 2005 landed a cruel blow to the Gulf Coast region of the United States. Katrina led many Americans to do some extraordinary things.

Sadly because Katrina was turned into a political football, much of this heroism has been lost. One thing for sure, the great city of Houston has particularly been the unsung hero, especially the homes that took in house guests. Among all those in Houston who sacrificed is the home of Kirby Robinson which took in 27 unexpected house guests.

These ordinary people “made the best of a bad situation.”

Many, many people have chosen to “take lemons & make lemonade.” Because they did the world is a much better & safer place to live.

MADD was founded because Candy Lightner’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Polly Klass’s father Marc has made a huge impact on child abuse laws & Nancy Brinker has raised money & awareness for breast cancer victims in memory of her sister through the Susan B. Anthony Foundation.

There are thousands of service men & women stationed around the world today who'd rather be home with their families but instead are making the best of a bad situation, which by definition is what all wars are. Recently “popular” actress Sally Field made a sassy remark  about the wars we've fought-  which had to be “bleeped.” In essence she expostulated that if mothers ruled the world there’d be no more -----wars. First of all I doubt the truthfulness of that statement & secondly, she failed to mention that if we didn’t stand up to the terrorists, most women would be barefoot, pregnant, & illiterate & we’d all soon be wearing Muslim head gear.

Have you ever been in a bad situation you couldn’t alter, improve or get out of? I heard a man say once that he finally gave up on changing people but he kept a long list of candidates just in case he ever decided to try again.


Right after the two Timothy’s there’s the little “post card” sized book called Titus. Though it only contains 46 verses it’s still a powerhouse because it’s chocked full of rich theology pertaining to salvation & Christian maturity.

But Titus also contains an intriguing story about a young preacher caught on the horns of a dilemma. Paul is writing to Titus his young protégé’ whom he’s left on the island of Crete & as we read between the lines some interesting facts emerge.

Crete is a small oblong island off the coast of Greece with a spine of rough- hewn mountains running right down the middle of it. Today’s Crete is a picturesque island humming with commerce & would be a delightful stop on any Greek island tour, but evidently in Paul & Titus’ day it left much to be desired.


Paul left young Titus on the island on one of their missionary trips & Titus has failed to develop any kind of traction so he wants to leave. That last statement was probably an understatement; Titus is begging to leave. His attitude has become--“anywhere but Crete.”

Scholars believe Paul’s little letter to Titus was written in response to a letter Titus previously wrote him asking to be moved. But of course we don’t have that letter. That’s O.K., we’re on solid ground because of evidence we’ll piece together.

I can relate to Titus here for more than one reason not the least of which is that I’ve always had some sort of anxiety on small islands. No offense to the good people of Key West Florida but for some reason I’ve almost always had a bad feeling when I went & had to stay there more than a night or two. I first visited Key West as a boy of about ten when my father conducted a revival there. Then in the sixties, seventies & eighties I would go regularly for preaching engagements. Though I don’t know exactly why, I’m usually a little depressed in Key West.

The reason I say almost always is that we went down to Key West in the mid-nineties with extended family for a visit & that heavy feeling didn’t hit me then. Also, we stopped-over there for one day & night on a 2003 Disney Cruise & I was o.k. with Key West both times. Maybe I’m getting better or maybe Key West is.

Anyway, Key West people are great & we were always treated well by them. I think my feelings have something to do with the 100 plus mile drive over water on a two lane road that caused me to feel I’d never get out of there alive. Other problems are, Key West is about two & one half miles long & a half-mile wide (of course they’ve been enlarging the place for years—dredging) & Miami, the nearest city of any size is several hours north.

There’ something about an island, maybe it’s island fever & maybe that was part of Titus’s problem with Crete, I don’t know. But it’s almost certain that Titus wrote to Paul & said “get me out of here.” In this little letter we have Paul’s response; “No chance Titus, you’re going to stay in Crete.”

To be more precise, Paul said in chapter 1:5, ---For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city as I appointed thee.

To piece more of the story together, Paul agrees with Titus—get this—Paul agrees Crete is a bad place. In verses 10-14 of chapter one Paul tells Titus that even one of their prophets has said terrible things about his own people in Crete. He called them liars, evil beasts & slow bellies or gluttons. Wow! But still Paul refuses to let young Titus off the hook; he stays in Crete!

No matter who we are we’ve all been to Crete symbolically. Crete is the place we want to leave but can’t. Crete is the place of discouragement & desire to give up & quit. Crete is the place of bad circumstances & extreme weariness. Crete is the place of outward opposition & inward despair. Crete is symbolic of any place that’s getting on your last nerve & you’d give almost anything to get away. Crete represents a place of suffering, a hopeless situation with impossible people. The problem is you can’t leave. You’re stuck. All the whining in the world isn’t going to change the facts.

The only way you can catalogue Crete & make any sense of it is, “You’re going to have to make the best of a bad situation.” A friend of mine humorously says his favorite scripture verse is, “Grin & bear it.” If that were really a verse, it would be tailor made for Crete.

These ancient Cretans must have been “hum-dingers.” If you mentioned the name Crete people would automatically think of dishonesty, overindulgence & laziness. (Titus 1:12)

Paul offers to Titus his reasons for leaving him in Crete. You might call it Paul’s CRETIAN FORMULA.”

Titus must stay in Crete because;


What!? Yes, this terrible place called Crete was going to build character & endurance in Titus. We hear more these days about deliverance than we do development but God is greatly invested in our spiritual maturity. How are we ever going to see God work miracles for us if we are constantly leaving the place where the miracle is needed?

When we pray for God to make us sweet we expect Him to turn over a bucket of honey in our souls, but instead God sends “sister sandpaper” along to test our patience. When we want to be more loving God sends the unlovely into our lives. Isn’t it strange how that works? That’s God again, turning man’s wisdom on its head. We want spiritual strength & stamina so God sends us to his “spiritual gym,”-- pressure. Sometimes I think trouble may just be the tenth gift of the spirit.

I heard a man tell about going into a potters shop once while visiting Israel. The potter opened his Kiln & let him see the different vessels that were at different stages of baking. The man asked the potter how he knew when it was time to take a vessel out of the heat, whereupon the potter reached in a got one of the vessels & thumped it. He said, “When I thump the vessel & it doesn’t ‘sing” or have that certain sound, back into the oven it goes.” That man left the potters shop carrying with him the following lesson; --when God puts us in the fire, if we want out, we’d better “sing” or we go right back in.

We have the tribe of Gad with us today. You might wonder who the tribe of Gad is. They’re the millions of Christians who’re in “Spiritual orbit” gadding from one place to the other looking for that perfect situation. They are looking for smooth sailing. If we could see the kingdom of God the way God sees it, we’d see something comparable to millions of fleas hopping & popping up & down trying to leave the circumstances they’re in. God’s challenge to us is, “If you want to grow & mature, stay in Crete.”

Titus isn’t in Crete to be punished but perfected.
Titus isn’t in Crete to be miserable but to become mature.
Titus isn’t in Crete to be comfortable but to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Titus will learn patience in Crete & that will lead to perfection.
Titus will face tough opposition in Crete, & someday thank God for all he endured.

Yes, Titus needed Crete, but also;


In the second chapter of Titus Paul tells Titus just how much the people of Crete need him. The women, men & young people desperately need him, his teaching & his example.

Titus was young so maybe we’ll give him a little slack here, but what did he want, a beach ministry? Did he want to ride a gravy train with biscuit wheels? I’ve heard people say if things went bad for America we should all move to the country, hide out & grow tribulation food. That sounds good but then who will minister to all the human need? Who’ll be around when people need spiritual answers? When things get bad in the world are we called to retreat to hiding places & let the world do the best it can? No! We are the salt & light department.

What if every Doctor said; “You know I’m tired of sick people. I’m sick of listening to people whine all day long. I want to be around healthy people from now on?” What then would sick people do?

What if every teacher said; “I’m tired of being around uneducated & ignorant people. I want to spend the rest of my life around smart people?”

What if our policemen & women got tired of keeping us safe & said, “I’m sick of dealing with the worst of humanity & fearing for my life at every traffic stop. I want to quit & spend the rest of my life around good, upstanding law-abiding folk?”

What if our fire-fighters got tired of fires & left their jobs to go become farmers? If all these public servants said, “get me out of Crete” we’d all be in trouble.

What if Jesus had said; “Father, I’m tired of these human beings. They don’t like me, they don’t even know who I am & I’m definitely not appreciated. Even my home town of Nazareth ran me off. I don’t think this whole thing is working. Please let me come back to heaven, this is just too hard?” Jesus even said that He could have done that but aren’t we glad He stayed with His mission until all of man’s sin debt was paid? Praise God, Jesus made the best of not only a bad situation but a situation that defies description because He was constrained by love to finish His task.

Paul told Titus in chapter two verse 14; ---Who gave Himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, & purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.

In chapter three of Titus, Paul reminds him that he used to be foolish, deceptive, lustful, pleasure loving, envious hateful & malicious. Then He gives to Titus & also to us the great verse about our free salvation;

Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration & renewing of the Holy Ghost….The third thing Paul stressed to Titus was;


God uses people to reach people. God needs Titus to be in Crete for a witness of His love. In spite of their bad reputation, in spite of their seeming unlovely ness, God still loves them & wants to redeem them & that’s why He needs Titus to be there.

If there were ever a place you’d think would be beyond God’s love it would be Crete. But Titus’ presence there proves Crete mattered to God. How could God love Crete?

It’s not that Cretans are loveable; it’s because God is love.
God loved Crete not because of what they were but what He is.
His love is not dependent on their character but His character.

In Titus 1:5 Paul tells Titus to set in order” things that were wanting. A medical term is used here; like a doctor setting a bone. He’s telling Titus to put relationships back together among the Cretans. We don’t think of setting a bone as healing but in truth it’s a very vital part of the healing process. A lot of people are sick because they’re “out of joint” in their relationships & wont properly heal until they’re back in place like a doctor sets a bone in place.

In Ephesians 6:18 Paul tells the church there;

Praying always with all prayer & supplication in the Spirit & watching thereunto with all PERSEVERANCE & supplication….

The word perseverance means to persist or endure in spite of elements arrayed against you. From its Latin roots the word literally means “through severity.” In an age of instant oatmeal & microwave popcorn we’re not too big on perseverance. Before we can persevere we need to be in severe circumstances.

Perseverance was what Paul was asking of Titus in Crete. But Paul wasn’t asking Titus to do anything he didn’t do & with regularity. Listen to 2 Corinthians 11:24—

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night & a day I have been in the deep; journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness & painfulness in watchings often, in hunger & thirst in fastings often in cold & nakedness. Beside those things that are without that, which cometh upon me daily, -- the care of all the churches.

One of the necessary elements of perseverance is TIME. Time is a requirement for us to say we’ve persevered. When a child asks “are we there yet,” without a sufficient amount of time passing, you know they’re not doing too good at persevering. Time is where we have our biggest problems & not coincidentally, time is one of the things God uses to test us. The very fact that we live in time not timelessness helps us to realize that everything has a lifespan & so will our trials & tribulations.

Paul said,--For our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh in us a far more exceeding & eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things that are not seen….2 Cor. 4:17-18Life is often rough & if you are blessed to sails its seas for long you’ll hit a storm or two. Don’t jump ship or ask God to discharge you. Maybe you’re living in Crete or working in Crete. Maybe your marriage seems like Crete to you.

For Titus to be successful in Crete he was going have to trust in God. Trusting will help us in Crete like nothing else.

Psalm 37:5 states; --Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.

Don’t pray for a better place, pray for strength to stay where you are & prevail. Don’t get into the spiritual fetal position. God is making you into the kind of person He wants you to be & when you’ve been tried you’ll come forth as pure gold.




Thursday, April 21, 2016

Assumicide, Relationship Killer

By John Stallings

Never assume anything.”

We've all heard that sage piece of advice.

Let’s look at some definitions of the word assume;

To draw conclusions on the basis of tiny scraps of evidence. To take for granted, without proof; to suppose as a fact, to take arbitrarily or tentatively; the act of anticipating something before hand - before the proper time & natural order.

“Jumping to conclusions” & “prejudging”-to me are as good as any definition.

Now, what does the word ASSUMICIDE mean? “Assumicide is when we make false assumptions about others, portraying them in the worst possible light, with the end being damage to if not destruction of a relationship.” "When your assumptions lead to dire consequences that could lead to your potential demise, you commit assumicide."

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made hasty assumptions in my marriage, my parenting & even in my ministry. However I can tell you almost exactly how many times it’s been done to me. I’m quite good at remembering such things. Or should I say, I’m quite bad about it. I keep track of those things. It’s amazing how easy it is for me to assume someone has it in for me.

I was talking to a minister friend one time [a very successful pastor of a large church.] I drew all my deepest thinking together with perhaps as good a verbal flourish as I’ve ever had & said, -“You know, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild & think you hear something in a person’s voice or actions telling you they’re mad at you when nothing of the sort is really true.” My friends answer? -“Yes John, but what if it’s true & they really are mad at you?” I think my friends have been part of my problem. Kidding!


Everyone knows that sooner or later, friends we assumed would be ours for life will break their word, marriages end in divorce, children move away & never call us, the company lays us off, doctors can’t cure us, our investments disappear, our dreams are shattered, the best-layed plans go astray, other Christians disappoint us, & very often we disappoint ourselves. Our assumptions are proven wrong time & again & if sooner or later we don’t come to grips with this -we’re doomed to be unhappier tomorrow than we are today.

Dr. Jerome Frank at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore talks about Our assumptive world. His thought is that we all make certain assumptions about life. Deep down we believe that if we do certain things, others will treat us in a certain way. We assume that we have earned certain things out of life. If those assumptions aren’t met, we’re disappointed. There’s a strong correlation between good mental health & having assumptions that match reality. And there’s a high correlation between misplaced assumptions & a variety of emotional problems, including depression.

Put simply, we are disillusioned when things don’t go the way we assumed they were going to go. Wrong assumptions lead to disappointment & disappointment leads to despair. Are you still with me? Is a little light being punched in as to why we should—“Never assume anything?”


Have you ever seen a lady with a protruding stomach & blurted out, “oh, when’s your baby due,” & learned too late that she wasn’t expecting? I’ve done it several times in my life & I pray merciful God will never let me do it again.

Several years ago we saw a young lady whom we hadn’t seen in over two years. I should have realized that a baby isn’t the lone reason for a woman to have a bump in her mid-section, but nooooo. I forged ahead & “went off the proverbial cliff,” asking about due dates while Juda & the rest of the folk in the group stood in slack-jawed amazement.

The young woman’s ever reddening face & the throat clearing that seized the others present finally told me what I’d done. Then I added insult to injury by trying to back-peddle & explain my way out of it. This made it worse & finally my wife whispered, “quit digging, it’s getting worse & worse.” I survived but as I said, I pray I’ll never make that assumption again, especially when a young woman’s involved. It’s dangerous & ill-advised, you can take it from me.

There’s a true story from France. A woman was dining alone. She ordered some soup & while waiting for it to arrive she went to the restroom. When she came back she was horrified to find a man sitting in her seat & eating her soup. She didn’t know how to respond so she sat across from the man at the table & just stared daggers at him. He just stared back & kept eating. After he finished he ordered a main meal & asked for two plates. When it arrived he had one plate & gave the other one to the woman. They ate in confused silence. The woman then ordered coffee & went to the restroom again. When she came back, the man was gone….& so was her purse. She screamed out, “thief, thief.” Several people chased the man down the street & tackled him. They dragged him back to the restaurant & just as they did, the woman saw a table at the restaurant with no one sitting at it. It had a bowl of cold soup & you guessed it, there was her purse. It turned out that when she first came back from the restroom, she sat down at the wrong table.

Assumptions are dangerous.

Assumptions have a way of making the part of the horse that goes over the fence last out of you, me & everyone. Assumptions are the termites of relationships, & they erode the very fabric of trust & good will in a relationship. We should see our assumptions as our window to the world. If we scrub them off occasionally, it’s surprising how much more light will come in.

Assumptions. We make them all the time. Assumptions that cause us to judge & most of all misjudge people.

They didn’t call back so they must not want to talk to me.
The church is so unfriendly.
I think she’s trying to ignore me.
He’s such a hypocrite.
I don’t like him & I don’t know why, I just don’t like him.
I’ll bet they’re sleeping together.
They don’t hire people like me.
She’s so full of herself.
Someday he’ll find himself, & he’ll certainly be disappointed.


When we’re watching a movie, I’ll try to figure out the plot of the movie & guess where it’s going & what’s going to happen to get there. This of course annoys my wife. As much as I love to try to figure it out, the best movies are the ones where I’m totally wrong.

I have long had a problem with thinking that every actor who is about six foot tall with dark hair is Henry Fonda. Juda tries to tell me it isn't Fonda but I won't listen.'s Fonda!! Sometimes I'm wrong and John Wayne wins.

In writing this blog, I pray for guidance in the topics I write about. I always ask myself, “Do people need this information? Will this information help them?” Having been a pastor/evangelist for many years, I know people are interested in messages that will help them in their daily lives. Many times we can assume people have knowledge they don’t possess. I don’t know where I heard it but I like this little truism; “Never underestimate a congregation’s intelligence, but never overestimate their knowledge.” A pastor makes a false assumption if he preaches as if everyone in the congregation is a professing believer.


Saul was king of Israel for many years. You will remember that there was a time when Saul was waiting for Samuel to come to offer a sacrifice. When Samuel didn’t show up to offer his priestly duties, Saul took matters into his own hands & offered a sacrifice unto God.

Saul was unqualified to do so, & from that moment the kingdom was pronounced to be taken from him.

One thing I think every spiritual leader should be aware of is a principle we get from Baseball. If some of the ministers we’ve seen fall from grace in the last 25 years had understood this principle, I can’t help but think things would have been different. Here’s the principle; when a player, especially a pitcher, gets wobbly, the coach will go out to have a talk with him. If the player can convince the coach that he’s o.k., the coach will leave him in the game. But at that moment the coach will put his next best pitchers in the bull-pin & start warming them up. All the while the wobbly pitcher is proceeding; he hears the “warm-up” pitchers in the bull-pin. God wants to see us all succeed in our work for Him but we should always be keenly aware that if we fall or fail to do what he has called us to do; He’ll find someone else to fill our place.

Think back to the late 1980s. I won’t call names but you probably remember the big names in evangelism who “bit-the-dust” during a relatively short period of time. I must admit it had me beyond concerned. But look what happened. God raised up others who’d been “warming up” working faithfully & hitherto basically “second-stringers” who God quickly pressed into service.

In hearing God’s desire for the next king, Samuel heard he would be-a man after God’s own heart. He trusts the next man will be a tremendous step-up for the people. When you know God’s desired man is just around the corner & will soon be arriving, your sense of anticipation builds & abounds. Samuel probably starts to wonder what this new man is all about & how he’ll be different from Saul. I suspect that his mind would begin to fill in a few blanks & make a few assumptions of what this new king would look like.

In 1 Samuel 16 we find the story of Samuel being told by God to go to Jesse’s house & the next king of Israel would one of Jesse’s sons. Samuel assumes King Saul would find out & be angry. He assumes Saul will try to kill him. Samuel assumes that since Saul was tall, the next king would be tall too. However God doesn’t have a cut & dried way of doing things. Samuel also assumed that the “oldest son” rule would apply in this case so he feels Eliab, who was the oldest was the safest choice. Even though Samuel had walked with God for many years, on this occasion he seems to be as much in the dark as David was.

Samuel got the word from God that none of Jesse’s sons he’d seen so far is the one God wants him to anoint to be the next king. He asked Jesse if he had any other sons. Jesse said that he did have one more son but he was out keeping the sheep. When David was brought in sure enough he wasn’t very tall but he was a handsome dude. God spoke to Samuel letting him know this was the man & Samuel immediately anointed him to be the future king of Israel.

Isn’t it amazing how God so often chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise? Another amazing thing to me is how God can use the small moments of life, moments you & I may not even remember, to totally change the course of our lives.

I have three daughters who have families of their own, which makes me a grandpa. Isn’t that a brilliant deduction on my part? The other day I was talking on the phone to my eldest daughter & as an aside, she started telling me some ways I had been an inspiration to her as she grew up. I can’t even recall doing & saying many of the things she remembers that inspired her. I’m sure she was correct because the things she mentioned sounded a lot like me. My point is, if I were to be asked what I felt were my strongest points as a parent, I would no doubt come up with totally different things than my daughters remember.

Apparently I was inspiring in ways I never knew. To me they were such small things & small moments; I would never have placed them high on the list of my “parenting skills.” It will be the same for all of us. We just have to work as hard as we can doing what we feel is the right thing & leave all the rest to God. Such a moment was this moment in Samuel's life, when he poured the anointing oil over little David’s head. This fellow would someday be king over Israel in a reign that lasted 40 years.

God surprises us. Surprises are big with our God. Many times, God’s Will surprises us. He’s the God of interruptions & He’s the God of the unexpected. He looks at the heart while the rest of us are busy looking at outward appearances. He looks at motivations. If we assume anything, we should just assume that if hang around on this planet very long, God is going to surprise us.


I had to smile a while back when I filled in for a dear pastor friend of mine who was called away unexpectedly. Over the years we’ve spoken at this church many times & the good folk know us well. As soon as one of the church ushers saw me come in, I heard him speak to another usher to be sure & get Brother Stallings a bottle of water & place it near the pulpit. Since we’d arrived a little early I stood around & talked with the brethren, telling them how much I appreciated their faithfulness to do things that might seem unimportant but in reality are very important.

One of the men said something to the effect that drinking water is one of the best things we can do for our health & we had a nearly fifteen minute conversation about drinking water.

I got to thinking about this & how these men assumed I was a person who drinks lots of water. The truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not a big consumer of water though I realize how good it is for us. As a rule I don’t drink nearly enough water. I don’t even like the taste [or lack of taste] of water. I do like water when it’s turned into tea or lemon aide, but that’s just me.

As I thought about it, I realized that the only time these men saw me was in church, & I use water when I speak or sing to combat the pesky “dry mouth.” I guess that must be for us “dry preachers.”

Now in this case, the case of drinking water, I guess I came off looking like a wise man for drinking lots of water. These men had assumed that I was a water drinker. But is that really true? Not hardly.

Some people who only see me at church might assume that I always wear a coat & tie, but those who see me on a day-to-day basis know that’s not the case. I hate ties. Friend we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions, make quick judgments & commit ASSUMICIDE when we don’t know all the facts.

The Jews during Jesus’ lifetime did just that in regards to Him. They were ready to arrest & condemn him in his early ministry. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who’d come to Him by night was a voice of reason in the council. He asked the august group of scholars-“Does our law judge a man before it hears him & knows what he’s doing? [John 7:51.]

How many married people commit assumicide every day & end their unions assuming things that aren’t true?

How many churches commit assumicide & are torn asunder because someone assumed they knew all there was to know about a situation?

A woman known for her incessant gossiping told the folks at church that she’d seen brother so-and-sos truck at sister so-and- sos house a lot lately & this was unequivocal proof that an affair was going on. The accused man heard about it so the next night he sneaked his truck in front of her house & left it there all night long.

How many former Christians are no longer walking with the Lord because they became bitter at something God “allowed to happen” & they committed spiritual assumicide over it?

Let us who name the name of Christ, not be too quick to judge & condemn others without knowing all the facts.

Here are a few more helpful hints;

Don't entertain 3rd party nonsense--Its true name is g-o-s-s-i-p!!
Don't react to what you think--react to what you k-n-o-w!!
Don't let issues linger. If you really want clarification-go directly to the person & ask!!


Jesus' main teaching thrust seems to be about shooting down many of our natural assumptions.

Look at The Sermon on the Mount. Everything we take for granted about success & power is turned on its head. Everything we assume about winners & losers is flip-flopped. When he speaks about Blessings, even if its about suffering He says ;


Congratulations to the restless,

Congratulations to the merciful rather than the powerful.

Congratulations to the pure in heart rather than the clever schemers.

Congratulations to the peacemakers instead of the fighters.

Jesus commends the unlikely ones & promises them mercy, comfort & the entire earth. You will be called the children of God & ultimately you'll see God.

Contrary to what this world assumes, when we suffer & think we can never get up again, we still have Him & we still have the Kingdom of God.

Congratulations, indeed.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Special milestone and Comments

Dear Friends,

In mid April of 2007 we started this  blog and dedicated it to communicating the reality  of the living Christ and his ability to meet any and all our needs.
 At this writing nearly 500 articles have been published. 

Listed below, in no particular order are some of the countries who've found us. I stand totally amazed at this.  As you can see, readership reaches around the world.

Our only motivation is a desire to be fuel on God's fires and declare to the best of our ability the Whole Counsel of God. This motivation captured me as a boy and will by His Grace continue to do so until He comes or calls. 

May the truths shared here be a source of spiritual help and blessing to all who read!

Every Blessing,


United States,
United Kingdom
Antigua and Barbuda,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
Cayman Islands,
Costa Rico,
Czech Republic,
Dominican Republic,
El Salvador,
Congo [GRC]
Netherlands Antilles,
Puerto Rico,
Papua New Guinea,
S. Korea,
Hong Kong,
New Zealand,
Macedonia {FYROM}
Myanmar {Burma}
Saint Kitts and Nevis,
St.Vincent & Grenadines,
Trinidad and Tobago, 
S. Africa,
St. Lucia,
Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka, Asakivia,
United Arab Emirates,
Zambia, and

If you've been blessed by the blog, please take a moment to let us

Blessings in Christ,


Monday, April 11, 2016

Offended Christians

By John Stallings

What is the devil’s most deadly & deceptive trap?

What tool of Satan imprisons countless Christians, severs relationships, widens existing breaches between people in families & churches--& is a leading cause of disunity?


Offense is described as-“an act of causing anger, hurt feelings, resentment, displeasure, or an affront.”

If caught in its early stages it can be dealt with before much damage is done but the deeper the offense & the longer it’s allowed to fester, the greater the chance that it will turn into a poisonous root of bitterness & bury itself deep within the soul. The result will be a harden heart against people & ultimately God Himself.

When an offense becomes a stronghold, an individual will develop a pattern through which all incoming information gets processed & then they start filtering everything through past hurts, rejections & past injuries.

Offended people feel justified in withholding forgiveness from the offender.
Offended people feel justified in gossiping to others about the offense.
Offended people feel justified in enlisting sympathizers in their cause & turning other people against the offender.
Offended people will produce much fruit, namely; anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred, envy & broken relationships.
Offended people often don’t know they’ve fallen into the offense trap.
Offended people feel; “I was mistreated or misjudged—therefore I’m justified in my behavior.”

Very often offended Christians [or Christians so-called] will refuse to be a part any longer of the Christian community. The people with whom they meet & rub shoulders are other offended folk. Sunday to them becomes a day for sleeping late or visiting relatives & friends or a day at the beach. It’s not uncommon for these offended Christians to give up Bible reading & Bible study & God becomes a relic of their past, although they are known to continue to talk religious & carry a strong attitude of self-righteousness. The point of justification for the dismissal of God from their lives is that they’ve been hurt somewhere along the way & there are “too many hypocrites in the church.” This argument is simply an evasive tactic to justify one’s negative feelings toward others & of God Himself.

Satan knows how easy it is for all of us to hold on to grudges & he does everything in his power to remind us of the injustices done to us, real or imaginary. He knows that if he can get us to allow unforgiveness to remain in our hearts it gives him a foothold.

People get offended by the words or actions of others, & often sermons. They feel every sermon is intentionally aimed at them. They might say; “no one spoke to me, the pastor shook my hand but his eyes were on another person.” Daily we all are presented with tons of opportunities to get offended every single second of our lives.

People who become offended in a church, usually move on to another church. Since they never deal with their spirit of offense, they keep moving around looking for a perfect church; a church that will never hurt their feelings. The truth of the matter is there is no such thing as a church that will never hurt our feelings.


If you’re walking through the woods & you hear a rattling sound, step lightly. It could be a deadly rattlesnake but you could also be in the proximity of a rodent called the porcupine.

The adult porcupine is about three feet long & weighs between 20 & 30 pounds. It’s known to rustle its quills to warn a potential predator to back off. In a worse case scenario [small animals such as dogs usually get the worst injuries] you could end up trying to pull out a bunch of barbed quills. The porcupines don’t have to aim perfectly either because they have on average 30,000 quills to throw, with fish-hook like barbs in them, located all over their bodies except their faces. [Thanks Wikipedia.]

When threatened the porcupine attacks by moving backward or sideways into the aggressor & the quills lodge in the aggressor’s skin. Every time the pierced victim moves, the quills penetrate further into its body. If the quills pierce vital organs the victim can die.


We’ve all taken some quills along the way & to be truthful we’ve all thrown a few quills. There are some people who- through the look on their face & their body language seem to be saying,-“You take a chance if you mess with me. I have plenty of quills & I won’t hesitate to use them.” These “quill throwers” are raspy & harsh & if you have even the shortest of encounters with them you will doubtless come away carrying quills.

We meet “quill throwers” in all levels of life. They are in hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, restaurants, department stores, driving down hi-ways & even in churches. You probably have one or two in your extended family.

Not only are there “Quill throwers,” there are also “Quill carriers.” If you’ve ever seen a church fight or for that matter a family feud you are aware of this. Quill carriers are folk who’ve taken some quills in life & have never gotten rid of them. Many times it’s because they don’t want to be healed. They savor the pain caused by quills.


In 1 Peter 4: there is what some call “The Peter Prescription.” Verse 8 says;--Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Notice Peter says—ABOVE ALL-love each other deeply. ……This is a biblical mandate! It means make every effort, -- go all out—make it priority one—love as if your life depended on it.

It may be painful to hear but the main reason we are super-bothered by others & the quills they throw at us is simple; we just don’t have the “love covering” we need to absorb the hurt & lighten up about the barbs thrown at us.

Notice Peter doesn’t say love covers-up sins, but love covers-over a multitude of sins.

When we don’t forgive others who trespass against us, or hit us with quills, the reason is—there’s not enough love to “cover it over.” Again…Love covers over a multitude of sins.

Love gets a little confusing because we mean all kinds of different things when we talk about love. I love to fish & I love chocolate ice cream however I have a much deeper commitment to my wife than I do those things. But I use the same word, love.

In the church we’re always saying-God is love-therefore we should love too but what do we mean when we say that? When we step out of the spiritual realm we have Hollywood & T.V presenting movies about love like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve got mail, Titanic, Friends, & Dawson’s Creek. These things can’t help but affect us, & some of our expectations grow out of watching them. Harlequin Romance Magazines sells 130 million books each year; books purporting to tell us about love. Some of it might be good & some of it bad so it’s important that we understand what we’re really talking about when we speak of love.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote to a church that had all the spiritual gifts but they argued constantly. They had asserted how smart & gifted they were & so Paul had been critiquing this complicated & conflicted Corinthian church. The Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 comes as almost an intrusion in the flow of the letter. Paul took great care to explain to them that though they had all these phenomenal gifts, anything minus love equals nothing. Zero.

When we think of love in the way the world presents it we’re usually talking about romantic love which is based on physical desirability. This love assumes that the loved- one is attractive & it assumes incredible emotional intensity so that one can’t help but pursue the loved one. But this is a far cry from what Paul is talking about because he writes love is more than an emotion. It’s capable of even loving the unlovable.

Sometimes when we use the word love we’re speaking of tolerance; you do your thing & I’ll do mine. Tolerance is good but it’s not the kind of love Paul is talking about. Sometimes love will compel us to be intolerant & demand change in an individual. Sometimes love will have to be tough, as in intervening in the life of a loved one who’s bound by drugs or other substances. It’s clear that tolerance isn’t the kind of love Paul’s talking about.

Sometimes love will be used as a cause; we love the environment so we wear wrist- bands & T-shirts to protest things that hurt the environment, but this isn’t the love Paul is talking about. Some of the meanest people in the world parade behind the banner of love for this or that cause & in crusading for tolerance; they can be so intolerant they’re downright dangerous. John Lennon wrote a song called “Give peace a chance,” & all the time he was at war with the Beatles. Their personal relationships were in shambles & they were calling the world to peace. Like the man who said, “I love mankind- its people I hate.”

The love Paul speaks about isn’t even friendship. Sometimes people will get sentimental & feel they have so much in common with an individual that they’ll say, “I love you.” There might even be an awkward hug & a few tears because the friendship touches them in such a way as to be thought of as love. Like two drunks in a bar who get a little lubricated & say, “I love you, man.” This isn’t the kind of love Paul is talking about.

As a matter of fact Paul isn’t going to let us guess what he’s talking about, he gets very concrete about love. He says love is patient. It can relax in the present. Love is willing to accept slow change & to try again. Love is patient & kind. Love is warm & sympathetic. It sees & feels the difficulties of the other person. It’s not cold & analytical. Love is kind & doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t boast & isn’t proud. Love avoids abrasive & inflammatory language. Love listens. Love is a dialogue. Love doesn’t scold a person like they were a family pet. Love isn’t easily angered. Love is more than biting the tongue; it works at the inner core of us.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes & perseveres. Love is constantly hoping for change in people & doesn’t give up after one good try. Love is going to try & try & try again. Love isn’t what we hear celebrities talk about on The Oprah Show.

Have you ever thought about the fact that right in the middle of the happy, romantic & love-filled marriage vows we start talking about better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness & in health? Just when we’re speaking of this feel-good love, we imagine those terrible scenarios. Why do we do that? It’s because deep inside we all want love that is secure. Deep down we know there is real, all embracing love. We want that love for ourselves & we want to be able to give it too. And so there it is in the vows- in the marriage ceremony.

But keep in mind; the love Paul speaks about is bigger than married love because he’s not talking to married couples. He’s talking to the church & he’s telling them this is the kind of loving relationships they should have. It’s the kind of love God loves us with.


These next words will be some of the most important words you’ll ever read because if you & I don’t get this thing called forgiveness right, we’ll miss the heart of the gospel. I am swinging this axe with great humility because I find forgiveness such a struggle. More than once in my life I’ve had people I trusted to prove unworthy of that trust by doing everything in their power to hurt me. As you know these kinds of people almost never ask forgiveness. But even in cases where I’ve been asked to forgive, & I’ve given that forgiveness to the best of my ability, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say I still struggle with it. As Paul said, “I die daily.”

There’s no greater passage in the entire Bible that opens the heart of God on forgiveness than the narrative in Matthew chapter eighteen. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.

Even the disciples were having a hard time with forgiveness, so Peter came out & laid the difficulty of it right at the feet of Jesus. The Rabbinic teaching of the day said you should forgive someone up to three times & after that you could stop forgiving. To be on the safe side Peter doubled that & added one for magnanimity sake. He asked, “Lord when somebody messes me over, how many times should I allow that to happen before I stop forgiving them? Seven times?”

Jesus said, “No, Not seven times. Seventy times seven.” We’d be missing the point here if we think Jesus was talking about a literal number. Jesus was actually talking here about how grace should operate in the life of the believer when it comes to the difficulty of forgiveness.

So Jesus told a simple, crystal-clear, scintillating parable & explained the issue of forgiveness to His disciples as well as you & me. We don’t have to be rocket scientists, bible scholars or great theologians to get the point of this parable.

It’s a story about a king & his servant. The king has loaned his servant money & decides to call in the loan. It’s pay-back time. Servant A is the first man we meet. He has run up a whopping tab, roughly 12 million dollars. The point is, it’s such a vast sum it’s impossible to pay back. The servant is unable to pay so the king took the next step & ordered the servant & his wife & children to be sold into slavery & his entire estate to be put on the auction block. At least the king can salvage a little bit of money on this deal.

But the servant begins to beg for mercy. He’s trying to buy time. He’s hoping the king will cut him some slack. He literally pleads for his life. Then the most unexpected thing happens; like a bolt from the blue the king totally forgives & cancels the entire debt. Suddenly servant, wife, children, & estate are off the auction block.

Now put yourself in that servant’s shoes. How would you be feeling at that moment? When somebody gives you a break in traffic aren’t you more likely then to give someone else a break? But after all that forgiveness, servant A leaves as if nothing good has happened.

Enter servant B. Servant B owes servant A about $1.80 in today’s money. Like a scene from The Godfather, servant A says to servant B, “I’m going to remove your kneecaps unless you pay up.” Servant A shows servant B no mercy, instead he has servant B thrown into prison. We can agree that servant A is a jerk.

But there are always other eyes watching & someone went & told the king the whole story. Now for the second time servant A is called before the king. The king has another turn-around & this time his pity has turned to anger. He lowers the boom on servant A & throws him in prison.

The story is over for servant A & B but it’s not over for Peter & it’s not over for you & me. Jesus says, -- “Unless you & I forgive our brothers & sisters from the heart we’re going to wind up just like servant A.” And, oh, how God has forgiven the debt that you & I have run up. It’s far greater than 12 million dollars. The results of the tab are eternal death & separation from God in hell.


God is so obsessive that He mandates & orders forgiveness & just like any other scriptural mandate it’s for our own good. God knows that you & I will never be able to move toward wholeness, live victoriously & be healed until we let go of resentment, give up on revenge, & let Him take the quills out we’ve collected over the years.

The mistake we make is to look at the person who has wronged us & what they’ve done to us. This parable reminds us that’s a mistake. We need to look at who God is & what He’s done for us. There are no limits to forgiveness because there’s no limit to God’s grace.

The following is nothing new to most Christians but I have a feeling if we really took it seriously it would change the way we view the Lord’s Prayer.

Right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer is a phrase that you & I, if we’re not careful will pray mindlessly. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Have we honestly thought about what we’re asking God to do here? Have you ever felt like falling silent at this point? We’re asking God to forgive us, to treat us --exactly the way we deal with other folks who’ve wronged us.


He was condemned to death by evil men who plotted against him & produced lying witness to convict Him. As He surveyed the howling mob cheering His suffering, the man who knew no sin, the only innocent man who ever walked this sin cursed planet uttered the words that still ring across the centuries; “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34] Those 11 tortured words sweep away all our nonsensical excuses & reveal the barrenness of our hearts. They rip the cover off our unrighteous unforgiveness & show it for what it is.

Many of us say, “If only the people who hurt me would show some remorse, some sorrow, then maybe I would forgive them.” But consider Jesus on the cross. No one seemed sorry, quite the contrary-- they laughed, mocked & jeered Him. They hurled insults at Him. The people who killed Him were pleased with themselves. Pilate washed his hands of the whole sordid affair. The Jewish leaders hated Him with a fierce irrational hatred. They were happy to see Him suffer & die.

Evil was in the air that day. The forces of darkness had done their work & Jesus would soon be in a tomb. No one said, “I was wrong, this is a mistake.” And yet He said, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing,” --this is precisely what we must say to the quill throwers; the people who hurt us deliberately & repeatedly.

We must say it to those who intentionally attack us.
We must say it to those who casually & thoughtlessly wound us.
We must say it to those closest to us, to our husband or wife, to our children, to our parents, to our friends, to our neighbors, to our brothers & sisters.

“Father forgive them” is what we must say if we want to follow Christ.

Every Blessing,


Friday, April 8, 2016

Something Went Wrong!

By John Stallings

And the vessel He had made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter…..Jer.18:4

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you’ve ever been to a Perlman concert you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken as a child with polio & so he has braces on both legs & walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully & slowly is an unforgettable sight.

Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back & extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down & picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor & proceeds to play.

By now the audience is used to his ritual. They sit quietly as he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They wait until he’s ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong.

Just as he finished the first few bars, one of his strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap- it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. People who were there that night said, “We figured he’d have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches & limp his way off stage-to either find another violin or else find another string for this one.

But he didn’t. Instead he waited a moment closed his eyes & then signaled the conductor to start again. The orchestra began & he played from where he’d left off. He played with such passion & purity as they had never heard before. Of course anyone knows it’s impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that & you know that but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulating, changing, and recomposing the piece in his head. When he finished there was an awesome silence in the room. Then there was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the room. And then the people rose & cheered. He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his bow to quiet us, & then he said not boastfully, but in a quiet , pensive reverent tone, “You know, sometimes it’s the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

What a powerful line that is.


Maybe it’s our health, or a relationship or a financial setback. Sometimes it seems that our whole world has come crashing down on us. Whatever has happened, we must carry on in spite of it to make the best music possible.

Sometimes were are tempted to think if we are good enough, pray enough, pure-minded enough & giving enough we will somehow escape trouble. Perfection, even if we could achieve it won’t guarantee trouble won’t come knocking at our door.

I remember a story my parents told me about their evangelistic endeavors when they first started in ministry. I had two sisters, Barbara & Marveline, & I was the only one too young to remember those days. My father bought a small Gospel tent & was traveling the south with it. We were staying in an old house out in the country that had been loaned to my parents for the duration of the series of meetings in La Grange, Georgia. One night my mother was awakened in her sleep & impressed to move the pallet where I was sleeping near an open window. At almost the instant she moved me a brick sailed through the window & landed where my head had been. Though that qualified as a small miracle, it was the late thirties & my parents survived on miracles.

The revival in that small Georgia town was going well; overflow crowds & many being saved. The revival was extended several times & stretched into weeks. Then one night something went wrong. My oldest sister Marveline, who had been fighting kidney disease, came down with a serious kidney infection & to make a long story short, she died in that town. Our little family had to lay her in a grave in LaGrange, Ga. To re-cap, my oldest sister died & was buried in a small town while her parents were conducting perhaps the greatest spiritual awakening the city had ever seen.

God has never explained that to me & I don’t believe He ever explained it to my parents. Being human, even though we are limited in our ability to grasp eternal realities, we expect God to explain His reasons to us. Trouble will come our way there’s no doubt about that, & sooner or later something in our lives will go wrong. The question is how will we respond to it when it comes? My mom, who was very young herself, responded by vowing to never put her foot inside another church as long as she lived. She was on a “slow burn” with a God who would take her beloved child while her whole family was doing all they knew to follow His leading.

Suffice to say all that changed a year later while attending a funeral of a friend. Mom heard the speaker give an illustration of a mother sheep that refused to cross a raging stream. Her baby lamb had to be transported to the other side of the stream, making the mother sheep willing to risk her life to be with her little one. Once this revelation came to mom; that she had a daughter waiting for her on the other side, she spent the rest of her life in the service of the Lord.

Jeremiah went to the potter’s house in 18:1-11 & gets an illustration for his next sermon to Israel.

As he observed the potter, he notes that as the clay is being fashioned on the potter’s wheel, something went wrong. The potter sees an imperfection in his creation & just stops. He mars the clay & starts over. Jeremiah sees something besides clay in this illustration & proceeds to use it as a parallel to Israel & her rebellion & imperfections. But God isn’t through with Israel & will continue to mold & work with them.

Jeremiah’s story is reminiscent of The Garden of Eden when God stooped down, got some clay & fashioned man with His own hands. But you don’t need me to remind you that in that beautiful lush garden where everything was just perfect, something went wrong. Adam & Eve were tempted by Satan & broke the command of God not to eat of one tree & it resulted in Man being banished from the Garden. We call that the “fall.” Just like the potter, God wasn’t so out-done that He had to throw man (the clay) away. No, he kept a hands-on relationship with man. He made them clothes out of animal skins, a foreshadowing of what would come later at Calvary when His Son would be offered as the final sacrifice for mans sin & transgression. God seems to be at His best when something goes wrong.

Something went wrong!”

This is the story of the history of God’s people & it will doubtless be the story of our lives. We try so hard. We have all our “ducks in a row” but in spite of all our efforts to the contrary, something inexplicably goes wrong. We ask “why is this happening?” “Where is God in all this?” “Why doesn’t He step in & do something?” Some people even put this exceedingly unhealthy spin on it, “How could God do this to me?” Another unhealthy response is to blame others when things go wrong instead of looking inward & upward. We find ourselves up to our ears in the proverbial Alligators & realize too late that we should have drained the swamp.


Job was a real man who lived in the land of Uz. His problems are so many its hard to select a few verses that share all of them. Job is one of the hero’s of the Bible. He was rich. He had ten children. He was upright before the Lord. Each morning he would make a sacrifice for each of his ten children in case they had sinned. Somewhat like a movie, there are two stories going on at the same time. One is the story of Job & his problems.

The other is the story between God & Satan. We are aware of both. Job was not. One day Satan shows up when the angels are before God. Imagine thousands & thousands of angels have gathered in the presence of God Himself to report on their activities. This is mind-numbing. All of creation is being held accountable to God. In this scene, Satan-fallen-rebellious-Satan-is permitted-is also allowed to come into God’s presence. Hold on to this truth; ---during the trials & tribulations of our lives, always there are dimensions that we don’t see. There’s always more than meets the eye & we need to stay keenly aware of this fact.

God says to Satan, have you ever considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless & upright, a man who fears God & shuns evil. God brags about Job. Does God ever brag about us? Remember, Job isn’t aware of this conservation. We are aware of why Job is hurting, but Job is not.

Then Satan speaks. He says, “Of course he serves you, you protect him.” So God allows Satan to harm what Job has but not Job personally. To give you an idea of God’s supremacy to Satan; Osama bin Laden didn’t come to President Bush & ask for permission to fly planes into the World Trade Center. No enemy ever asks for permission to attack. And yet here is Satan asking God for permission to attack Job. There can be no doubt that Satan did the dirty work but God allowed it.

Then something goes wrong!

Jobs trouble starts. One day a messenger comes & tells him that “his oxen & donkeys have been carried off, all his servants are dead & I alone am left to tell you.” While he was speaking another servant came & reported that fire from the sky has burned up all the sheep & servants & I alone am left alive to tell you.” Then Job is advised that all of his ten children are dead, killed in a house collapse. Job tears his robes, shaves his head & falls to the ground in worship & declares, “Naked came I from my mother’s womb & naked will I depart. The Lord gave & the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21. Job still doesn’t say anything foolish. What a man!

Satan has failed. So he goes to God again & says, “Job hasn’t failed because you haven’t touched him personally. You’ve only touched his possessions & children.” Then Satan is given permission to hurt Job but not take his life. Isn’t it a comfort to know that God sets the limits on how much we can be troubled?

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor.10:13, God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but will with the temptation provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

When we’re hanging on by a thread we need to be reminded that God always has His protecting hands around us. He knows what we can bear.

I once heard country singer Loretta Lynn say in an interview—“They say God won’t put more on you than you can stand, but it’s not true.” Well, Loretta’s wrong about that. God isn’t going to allow us to be hurt & wronged so bad that our trust in Him will be destroyed. Here’s a promise you can hang your hat on; God sets the boundaries.

But then something else goes wrong! Job develops sores over his entire body. Next we see him scraping pieces of broken pottery over his body with his wife telling him to curse God & die.

There sure isn’t any encouragement at home.

But let’s not be too hard on Mrs. Job. We need to cut her a little slack. She’s been through a lot. Overnight she’s gone from being the wife of one of the most respected men in the east to a homeless outcast. Like Job, she’s lost everything, including her ten children. Now her once proud husband is sitting in the street suffering from a debilitating disease. His name has become synonymous with tragedy. The town looks at him with disgust. So Mrs. Job has been through a lot.

The problem with Mrs. Job is that she has caved into Satan’s attack. She no longer looks at God as good, she now sees Him as detached & uncaring. The one person Job should have been able to look to for comfort & support now becomes a tool in Satan’s hand. She becomes a part of Job’s humiliation-his test.

She rips into Job’s heart. Her advice is assisted suicide. “Forget your faith in this uncaring God-get Him really ticked off & God will kill you.” But Job says to her, you speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Job refuses to buy it & holds onto His faith in God.

Seemingly everything goes wrong; But why?

Now Jobs friends Eliphaz, Bildad & Zopharare are going to “help.” His wife wasn’t any help; maybe his friends can bring a little comfort. They sit with Job for a week in silence. When God isn’t forthcoming with an answer, his friends start to speak up. In short, they feel Job has sinned. There is an obvious dark side to his personality. He has brought on himself the torture he’s under. What “brilliant observations” they share with Job. It’s true that sin brings punishment however righteous people experience pain as well. It’s so easy to be simplistic & assume that a hurting person has caused their own pain. Of course we don’t appreciate this logic applied to us.

If you listen to some of the modern day ministers you’d get the idea that if you’re not healthy & wealthy something’s wrong with your faith. Maybe we should ask the early Christians who were eaten by lions about pain & suffering. Do you think it was because they didn’t know how to trust God or maybe there was sin in their lives?

Hebrews 11:38 says “The world wasn’t worthy of these martyred Christians.

We can read the story of Job so easily. We are aware of the conversation between God & Satan, this helps with the why. Job was able to witness to the devil himself about the boundless, sustaining grace of God. We also know the end of the story about the restoration of his possessions & having ten new children. Still we know he suffered. His wife didn’t help. His friends didn’t help. What helped Job?

For one thing Job went to the right place with his questions; he went to God. Job didn’t allow his pain to push him from God. When something goes wrong, some people will run from God, avoiding the church & God’s people. Job listened to God. God never told him about the conversation with Satan, & He never gives an explanation, but only asks Job to trust Him. Job got that lesson for he said Though he slay me yet will I trust Him. Job 13:15. God did however have quiet a conversation with Job. If you haven’t read chapters 38-41 of Job lately, reread them, they’re amazing. God’s Word doesn’t answer all our questions but it does tell us all God wants us to know.

Do you remember how it all ends up? In the end God blesses Job’s socks off. He lives to 140 years with blessings that went way beyond what was taken away. ----Job 41:17 says, -- Job died an old man & full of days.


I can’t imagine my friends & loved ones rejecting me can you? I’m sure we’d be shattered.

But that’s precisely what happened to Jesus. Mark 6:1-6 is one of the most awesome passages in Holy Writ. Jesus returned to His home town & the first day He arrived something went wrong. He friends & neighbors rejected Him. He had been enormously successful since He left his hometown. He had healed & restored a mentally ill man, a feverish old woman, a paralytic, a woman with a twelve year hemorrhage, & a dead little girl. He had reached across the boundaries & barriers of His society & welcomed the unwelcome, touched the untouchables, & ate with sinners. He had painted a picture of the Kingdom of God.

So everywhere He went there were huge crowds pressing into Him. People were bringing the sick & elderly to Him. All day long & into the evening they came, even following along the lake shore as He & His friends sailed from place to place in Peter’s boat. Everyone knew about Him, was talking about Him & had an opinion about Him.

And now for the first time since He left—since the day He walked away from the carpenters shop to be baptized by His cousin John—now for the first time Jesus came home to Nazareth. His parents’ village, where Mary had been born & where Joseph had been a carpenter. It’s a small town & everyone had heard the rumors about Him. They were His neighbors & watched Him as he grew up. These are the people Jesus met when He joined His friends in the old synagogue on the first Sabbath of His homecoming.

Was he proud to be there? I think so. Was he a little nervous when they asked Him to read & interpret? This was a tense, homecoming moment. When Jesus was handed the scroll to read, Mark tells us that the people asked several sarcastic questions. Where did this young man get all this? Is this not the carpenter’s son, the son of Mary? Usually men were known as their fathers son’s so when they referred to Jesus as “Mary’s son” it was the same as what we would call a “bastard.”

These people took big-time offense at Jesus. Jesus responded not by being argumentative but by stating the obvious—“Prophets aren’t honored in their own hometowns.” Mark cuts-to-the-chase & tells us He could do no great works there. Nothing changed in that village. Nothing new emerged. There was no revival. Life quickly returned to normal; and why not? They had rejected Jesus.

And now what I think is one of the saddest verses in the New Testament—He went about the villages teaching. That is, He left His own home town & never returned.

Jesus set the example here for the way we should act when it’s people who do us wrong. Being human we might be tempted to try to even the score. As we’ve seen Jesus never did that. We must remember that God is watching. He has known about the injustice all along so never run ahead of Him with your own solutions. If you have tried to do the right thing time & again, God is aware of that fact. What goes around comes around. We’ve all seen people try to hurt others & in the end they themselves get hurt. (Remember Haman?) God is patient, so we must be patient.

But when God’s patience has run out, & we never know when that’s going to happen, when God sees that people have hurt us & should be forthcoming with an apology but they refuse to “get it,” He moves in & does what only God can do in a way only God can do it. When God starts moving it’s a fearful thing to behold & you’ll be glad you did right when things start to happen. We should let our hurts go & God will deal with them for us.

……Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Don’t panic when something snaps in your life. Play on like Perlman. Turn to God in your time of despair.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

God is our refuge & strength: a very present help in time of need. Psalm 46:1



Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Biggest Mistakes In The Bible

By John Stallings

In the late 1930’s, actor Gary Cooper said, “I’m glad it will be Clark Gable falling on his face in “Gone with the wind” and not me.” Being as GWTW is the quintessential movie of all time; I guess old Coop made a mistake.

Since I don’t have the list in front of me of the stupid things that have been said over the years, I’ll try to recall a few. A top man at the U.S patent office said in 1899, “I believe just about everything that can be invented has already been invented.” Another “brilliant” industrial leader said in 1977, “I don’t think there’ll ever be a demand for personal computers in American homes.”

Speaking of Clark Gable, early in his career a studio head said of him, “He’ll never be popular, his ears are too big.” Seeing as how time proved that man shockingly wrong, the only thing that was too big was his mouth.

Back in the early 1960’s the man who ran Decca Records said, “I don’t think we’ll sign those boys because people are tired of Guitars & their hair-do’s will hold them back.” He spoke of “The Beatles.”

A leader in Great Britain made the following statement in the late 1930’s, “I don’t think Hitler’s Germany has the inclination or the ability to attack their neighbors.” The bones of perhaps as many as 100 million dead people world-wide rise up to testify, “That was an awfully ignorant statement, & a costly miscalculation.”

Voltaire, the French Atheistic writer & orator said in the late 1800’s, as he held up a Bible at a Paris anti-God rally, “In 100 years, the only way a person will be able to even see a copy of this book will be through the dingy glass of a book case in some museum.” Not only was Voltaire wrong but 25 years after his death the Geneva Bible Society bought his Paris home & turned it into a storage building for Bibles. Not only that, they actually used his printing press to print copies of the Bible.

Now that we’ve covered a few of the biggest mistakes in modern times, what are some of the biggest mistakes in the Bible?

1. Mistake number one was the mistake of Potiphar’s wife.

In Genesis 39:1-23 we have her story. Potiphar’s wife is obviously a person of means & she’s used to getting what she wants. We don’t know her first name so we’ll call her by her husbands name but we know her desire for sin isn’t just a passing fancy. She continues to pursue young Joseph to get him into bed with her long after he’s spurned her advances. Joseph tries to reason with her & tell her all the reasons it would be wrong for him to have sexual relations with her. One day she’s so desperate she tries to use force to get her way.

She pulls off his coat but Joseph runs away & leaves it with her. This boy just can’t hang on to a coat. His integrity stands in the way of her fulfilling her desires so she comes to hate that integrity. Quickly she devises a plan because if she can’t get what she wants she will punish him for it.

I’ve got a new idea for a bumper-sticker. “Some people just stink.” I won’t pursue that but if someone will, I’m sure they’ll get rich. You would think that by Joseph acting in the proper way toward this woman she’d have an attack of conscience. You’d think she’d wake up to her terrible immoral principles but all she sees is getting her way or making someone pay. The nerve of anyone questioning the validity of what she wants. Her desires consume her to the point that she can frame an innocent man. And she never comes clean. After Joseph is in jail she lives with the knowledge of what she’s done day after day, month after month & year after year with no compunction of conscience that we’re told of.

Do you see what I see in this story? Your upright, perfect testimony might not always be enough to protect you from calamity.

If you haven’t gotten your eyes open to these “Potiphar’s wives,” it’s high time you did. Also, we need to stress that what she had was a spirit & that spirit can inhabit both sexes, just as a Jezebel spirit can inhabit both genders. This spirit needs to be avoided at all cost. There are thousands of “Potiphar’s wives” in the world. Pray that you never marry one, have one in your extended family or go into business with one. They are people who want what they want & will tell any lie & use any tactic if their desires are thwarted in any way. The reason they reject the gospel isn’t that they’ve found a problem in the gospel, or are having problems with their faith. They reject the gospel because if they accept it they can’t live like the devil.

No matter how you may reason with these “Potiphar’s wives,” no matter how good of an example you are, no matter what you do or don’t do, they’re just never coming around. Something I’ve learned is, that when a good person has been hurt by a “Potiphar’s wife” they will think; --- “well I know they’ll come around someday. I know deep in their heart they’re hurting for what they did to me. If you could read their mind & heart you’d see that they’re hurting for hurting me & someday before I die or they die they’ll open their heart to me & apologize in tears.”

If you believe that, & if you’re dealing with a “potiphar’s wife,” you probably also believe---“God didn’t make little green apples, & it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.”

You must realize that these folk have a mind-set that isn’t going to be detoured. Without a direct intervention from God, & almost a Damascus road experience, time will only harden them. You can talk till your hair catches fire & they won’t be changed by the truth. They will try to drag you down with them & if you insist on acting rightly, they’ll hate & attack you even the more for it. If they see that they can’t compromise your integrity, now you’re really in trouble. You can try to appease them & feel that when they finally see how open your heart is & how forgiving you are they’ll change, but that’s not going to take place with a “potiphar’s wife,” because she’ll despise you for your very goodness.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you don’t have to keep acting like a Christian; we’re never absolved from that. But your goodness will only make them more hostile because you’re confronting them with hateful aspects of themselves. When confronted with the truth it’s easier for them to hate you than themselves. Some people just hate virtue.

You are probably asking, why was what Potiphar’s wife did one of the biggest mistakes in the Bible. I believe God is on the side of those who are wrongly accused & He will vindicate them in His own good time.

Let’s sit at the breakfast table with Potiphar & his wife about thirteen years after Joseph was sent away to rot in jail because of Potiphar’s wife’s lie. Can you hear the conversation? Potiphar says, “Honey, do you remember that young kid who tried to rape you several years back & we threw him in jail?” She answers, “Oh yes, how could I forget?”

Potiphar asks, “You know honey, I’ve thought about it over the years & I do hope you told the truth when you said he raped you.” She answers in a huffy tone, “Well I can’t believe you’d doubt your wife about something like that, why would I lie?” Potiphar answers, “You know I love you honey-bunny but I do hope you told the truth, because not only is Joseph out of jail, the license tag on his new chariot reads NUMBER TWO, & I report to him to work this morning.” Obviously Potiphar’s wife made a big mistake because God will vindicate those who’re blasted by her ilk in his own time & in His own way.

2. Another mistake in the Bible was Christ’s crucifixion.

Let me explain. We know Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. So from God’s perspective, when Jesus was killed by Jewish hate & Roman power, it wasn’t a mistake, but fit perfectly into heaven’s eternal scheme for the ages. If ever a man was born to die it was Jesus.

However, from Satan’s point of view, Calvary was a BIG MISTAKE. Listen to Paul;

--But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.—1 Cor.2:7-8

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the song I wrote entitled “Love grew where the blood fell,” but this scripture was the inspiration for that song.

“See my Jesus on the cross, the people crying,
Looking on a man would think it tragedy,
But what this world couldn't see,
Was when they nailed Him to that tree,
It would break the chains of sin’s captivity.

3. Another mistake in the Bible was made by the Roman soldiers at Christ’s tomb.

When Jesus was raised from the dead, something happened that shouldn’t be all that surprising. We’re told in Matthew 28: 9-15, that the guards who were the first to see Jesus in His resurrected body went into town to tell the leaders what they saw. This elite group of Roman Guards was the best Rome had to offer & they operated under the penalty of death. The powers that be, discerning what damage it would do to their leadership if the truth got out about Christ’s resurrection, immediately gave the guards money to keep their mouths shut about what really happened.

Think about that;-- the first witnesses that Christ rose from the dead, the men who had seen to it that Jesus was indeed dead & then saw Him alive were bought off to keep silent about it. They told an outright lie, that Jesus’ disciples came by night & stole His body.

These men could have been the world’s first Christian evangelists. They knew whereof they spoke. Just think what a blessing to the cause of Christ it would have been if these men could have just been truthful. Instead they allowed the love of money to buy them. Instead of becoming the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, they live in infamy; making the mistake of thinking the truth could be hidden.

4. Another big mistake in the Bible was made by King Agrippa.

In Acts 26, Paul stood before this king & preached the gospel. At the end of Paul’s testimony & defense of the gospel king Agrippa uttered these words;

Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian.”

Paul was in bonds, Agrippa was in bondage.

Paul was a prisoner of Rome; Agrippa was a prisoner of sin.

Paul was innocent before this earthly judge,

Agrippa was guilty before the judge of all the earth.

Paul was certain about Christianity,

Agrippa came close but retreated into unbelief.

Paul left unhurt, Agrippa left unhelped.


An “Almost Christian” sees the gospel as a guide to morality & they are smart enough to know that when the morals of a nation break down chaos overtakes a society.

An “Almost Christian” regards the gospel as a social tool to feed & clothe the poor.

An “Almost Christian” will quickly tell you that everywhere the gospel has gone it has upgraded humanity; such as equal rights for women, child labor laws & working conditions in mines & factories.

An “Almost Christian” will point you to the inspiration Christianity has been to the arts, such as Michelangelo’s works, Handel’s Messiah, & countless novels without which humanity would be impoverished.

An “Almost Christian” is near the Kingdom but not in it.

An “Almost Christian” doesn’t see that real Christianity is about a relationship with the living person of Jesus Christ.

An “Almost Christian” will knock on your door & ask you to “believe something” but never to “receive someone,” someone named Jesus Christ.

An “Almost Christian” will talk about Christianity’s usefulness but a real Christian will talk about its truthfulness.

We move from being an “Almost Christian” when we see that true faith is simply a living relationship with Jesus Christ; when we understand the words of Jesus when he said,

--If any man would be my disciple let him deny himself and take up his cross & follow me.

Don’t make Agrippa’s tragic mistake & settle for an “Almost Christianity.”




Saturday, March 26, 2016

All Stressed Up And Nowhere To Go

By John Stallings

Did you know that pilots who fly off aircraft carriers have a higher cholesterol level than their pals who stay on deck though they eat at the same table? It’s true.

 The extra stress they’re under causes their cholesterol to be higher.

Here’s a conundrum; though cholesterol is tagged by experts as the major cause of strokes & heart attacks, a large percentage of people who die suddenly from heart attacks have a surprisingly low cholesterol level? You can check that out on Google.

So what am I saying? I’m saying, though it wouldn’t be wise to eat unhealthy foods, overdo it on the beef, & never exercise, the big killer is stress. Here are a few Biblical answers I offer to us all to stave off the terrible effects of stress, taken from Proverbs 15:13-22;

1. Learn to laugh.—

Never be ashamed of your sense of humor. Studies have shown that people with a well developed sense of humor are almost always highly intelligent. Sounds good huh?

 I came by my zaniness honestly. As my grandmother on my dad’s side lay on her death bed, fading in & out of consciousness, she said (my parents tell me she had a little grin on her face as she spoke) “I see an elevator that has parked at the foot of my bed. The doors have opened & two angels are coming, one on each side of my bed. In a moment they’re going to lift me up & take me to the elevator & push the button & we’re going up.” She paused a few seconds & with the little grin still very evident she said her very last words; “I sure do hope they don’t push the wrong button.”

 The Bible says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” For those who have a tragic view of life, God bless you, but know that God will forgive you if you forget & laugh once in a while.

By the way, only man can laugh, blush & cry. Animals can have highs & lows but they never do the aforementioned things, that’s reserved for the highest of God’s creatures. You never had to teach a child to laugh, did you?

2. Cultivate contentment.

In Proverbs 15:17 we see two homes depicted. One is eating a veggie meal with smiles & contentment while the other is eating a smoking roast but they’re all mad at each other. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be in Alabama with a banjo on my knee than live in a home where everyone is unhappy. There’s a table filled with nervous people with a lady at the end of the table with a face like a hatchet making cutting remarks to everyone. I don’t think the Bible means to imply that rich people are always miserable but I will say...

I’d rather be with a person worth a million who doesn’t have a cent than to be an individual who has a million dollars & isn’t worth a cent. Read 2 Timothy to find out what God thinks of those who put money above everything else. The next way to eliminate stress is;

3. Eliminate anger. ---V. 18

To be stress free we must have anger under control. Proverbs 15:1 says—

A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.

You may say; “I can’t control my anger.” But if you’re in the midst of a tirade, screaming to the top of your voice & the phone rings, what do you do? You answer the phone in the sweetest voice you have, like you’re talking to a furry little kitten. Am I right? O yes, we’ll present ourselves on the phone as a harmless little fuzz-balls. So you see, we can control our anger when we want to.

A few years ago I lost perhaps my favorite first cousin. He was only fifty years of age but he had an awful temper. His business was exploding in Atlanta Georgia & the day he died he’d just ordered his wife a Cadillac to match his.

He sat at his swanky desk in his plush new office & conversed with a man who was installing a new sprinkler system in the lawn of his lovely new home. The man told him that his tractor had just run over one of the pipes he had installed so the job would take a little longer. My cousin became so angry that he dropped his head on his desk & died with a massive heart attack. Today his widow has taken that business & made herself a wealthy woman & has since remarried but Danny is in the graveyard because he couldn’t eliminate his anger. The next way to beat stress is to;

4. Walk in wisdom. V. 21-22

To be deeply stressed is to admit you’ve forsaken God’s wisdom. Why attack people when you can attack problems instead?

A lady told me the other day that she had told her son what she really felt & about some things in his family & she wondered why things weren’t the same with him. As she talked with me, I learned that she had told him in one conversation that he talked too much & that his kids weren’t as respectful to elders as they should be. On & on she went telling her grown son what she thought. I had to be honest so I suggested to her that she’d gone into the conversation right but wrongly broadened it to include too many issues & too much material. She looked at me extremely puzzled & simply couldn’t understand what I meant. I asked her if she’d ever ridden on an elevator & she of course said she had. I asked if she’d read the printed materials that told how much of a load the elevator could safely hold. Of course she had but it still didn’t dawn on her what I was trying to say.

Here is was in a nutshell; didn’t she ever stop to think that in one conversation she was overloading her son? As soon as I used the word “overload” she gasped-“Oh God!!” Why did it take a country preached like me to say something so simple & turn on the lights in this good, highly educated woman’s mind? She hadn’t stopped to think that since she had gotten by O.K with telling her son he talked too much, she shouldn’t push her luck & try to “throw the book at him.” Her pride got all pumped-up with her first success but she didn’t stop to think that human beings have a low tolerance for being criticized. When somebody opens the floodgates on us we get the feeling that nothing is right with us-- so what’s the use? She simply wasn’t walking in wisdom. As she left she retorted, “I’m so glad I spoke to you.” I thought as she left, “lady so am I. Now with a simple little key of wisdom maybe you can go make things better & less stressful for you & your family.”

A guitar string or any stringed instrument needs its strings tuned by putting just the right amount of pressure on them. Without some pressure they can’t bring forth the beautiful music they were designed to produce. But if too much stress is put on the delicate strings, they’ll break. Then there’s no music at all.

 One thing we should all keep in mind about stress where our lives are concerned;-THERE IS A BREAKING POINT!!!