Thursday, October 1, 2015

Facing Criticism

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." (Exodus 17:4)

I hate criticism. Don't you?

 Is there anything that pierces deeper than harsh, judgmental words? Over the years I’ve had to occasionally stop and readjust my whole outlook because of criticism.

Having said that, I’ve often been surprised at the small amount of criticism I’ve dealt with, though I’ve had my share.  But I’m still moving and have never been bitter and that’s important. Cheer up my friend, you and I definitely will survive criticism.

There are two kinds of criticism. One is called "constructive." It’s designed, in the critic's mind, to bring a positive end. However, constructive criticism can be as painful to the one being criticized as that which is called "destructive." Both hurt, but as we’ll see, you and I should praise God for criticism!


I visited China in the early 1980’s and became aware of a little flower called “the sensitive plant.” All you had to do was touch the plant ever so gently and it closed up as if it had been mortally wounded.

 It impressed me as sad for the little flower. They are called by several names including “the humble plant.”

This plant reminds me of people I’ve met. They’re seemingly just too sensitive for this world. To tell these good folk to take criticism lightly is like telling a Mocking bird to “pipe down.” It ain’t gonna happen. These good folk are virtually incapable of it. They find it quite impossible to leave the confines of their home and not become upset, hurt and often deeply offended by something. Restaurants, malls, sports events, school, driving the streets, even in church, these folk can’t seem to escape being offended by someone or something. They can even be deeply hurt and flustered by a billboard sign on the side of the road. You have to walk on egg shells around them or you’ll witness a meltdown and it won’t be pretty.

We’re all aware that we’re in a new age of technology. We now live with the reality that scores of people can and do read and listen to our thoughts if we use twitter or for that matter email.  The offshoot of this is that our innermost expressions and thoughts are available for folk to read, evaluate and critique. In our present culture, many people will take offense at even the slightest attempt at humor.

I’m told that many of the “top” comedians of the day have a new rule- to never entertain on college compasses. The reason? Students nowadays wear “chips on their shoulders” and find something objectionable in almost any attempt at humor. Speakers and entertainers have to be constantly aware of the new phenomenon called being –Politically Correct.- Think about it; do you witness many laughs at things that are legitimately funny, or do you more often see “eye rolling”? Are we losing our National sense of humor? If subtle humor can render many people incapacitated, it stands to reason that outright criticism will just about do them in.


Some people call me a songwriter and I trust they’re right. Over the years I’ve put songs out and watched as they were critiqued and analyzed. Some songs were widely accepted and some laid aside. This process can be very disheartening. Many songs that I had high hopes for never saw the light of day, and some were embraced and became popular. Over the years I’ve had to learn to say with my Italian friends, “What are you gonna do?” As a writer about all you can do is do your best knowing others will decide if your work survives.

Moses found out what a bitter pill criticism can be. He didn't want to be a leader. He knew that he’d have to pay the price of criticism. Moses stuttered. What were his critics going to do with that one? In the final analysis, Moses agreed to lead this band of slaves. Their lot in Egypt had been bad. Their children had been massacred. They had been driven in a terrible way by the oppression of their cruel taskmasters. You would think that Moses would be praised for His leadership. On the contrary. The story of the wilderness journey is one in which Moses is constantly maligned. You would think that the people would appreciate his courageous leadership. Instead they cried out…

 "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." (Exodus 16:3).

God provided for Israel’s needs. He gave them a promise for the future. Again they complained, criticizing Moses. The reason? He had run out of water. Once again they murmured against him, complaining about the fact that he had led them out of Egypt. Poor Moses. Broken by criticism, he falls on his face before God and cries out,

 '"What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me'" (Exodus 17:4).

Truthfully, criticism can be a terrific stabilizer. Moses grew spiritually in his dependence on God through the criticism.


There's a difference between criticism and slander. Every so often we may actually be slandered. This may get back to us through the grapevine. I find myself disturbed; however, I am not nearly as disturbed by slander as I am by criticism. Slander can be dismissed because it’s simply dishonest. What is said has no factual basis. It disturbs us because others could believe the untruths.

 Criticism rather gets to us in a much more subtle way. So often the critical word has some factual basis. An explosive response to it is a clear sign that someone has gotten under our skin. Our pride is wounded. We’re painfully aware that this person has insights which are more valid than our own self-appraisal.


Learn to appreciate your critic. He’s protecting you from yourself. He may dislike you. He may wish ill against you. Still, thank God for critics.
Imagine the political climate here in the
United States if public officials were not subject to criticism. How wounded our presidents must feel when their every action is sliced apart. But in truth the pain is worth it. It makes the elected official all the more sensitive to the public trust. A totalitarian regime clothes its leadership in enormous power. Criticism is muzzled. There's no freedom of the press. Totalitarian governments stagnate. Why? Because they protected themselves from criticism.

If you follow American politics, you’re aware of the man who at this writing sits close to the top of the Republican heap of presidential contenders. Mr. Trump has many admirable qualities but as do all men, he has his weaknesses. One of Trumps weaknesses is his deep dislike of criticism. He tends to implode when people point out a flaw in his makeup. My thought is…this man in many ways has the potential to go all the way and win the election of 2016. IMHO the deciding factor will be if he can rise above pettiness and assimilate honest criticism and let the rest roll off his back.

And my dear friend, the same will be true of you and me.

Often we get relief from our critics in remembering that people for the most part judge others out of their own hearts. In other words, we blame and criticize others for what we ourselves are guilty of. –Romans 2:1

I love the story of the wife who pleaded with her husband to visit a museum of fine arts with her. She felt that her man needed a little more culture in his life so off they went to the museum, never mind the fact that the husband’s feet were firmly planted in the ground.

The couple walked up the steps of the museum and had no sooner entered the place when the out- of -sorts man noticed a painting hanging on the wall. “Look” the man said, “Look at that. Who in the world would ever paint that picture and frame it when the man in the picture is so scruffy looking. Who in their right mind would call that shabby picture a great work of art?” The wife grabbed her husband’s sleeve and cried, “Honey, honey that’s not a painting, it’s a mirror.”

And so it is that the things we criticize in others is often what we ourselves are guilty of. If we weren’t familiar with it we’d have probably never noticed it. We knew that as kids in sixth grade. We’d say, “It takes one to know one.”

As it concerns our critics, there’s usually some validity to what they’re saying. Don’t you agree? That's what puts the burr in their words…the “pepper in the gumbo”-as it were. How productive would it be if you and I could learn to accept the grain of truth in what our critics say? Praise is a wonderful 'pick-me-up,' but it’s only through criticism that we’re enabled to know what we have been doing wrong and thereby correct our failures and shortcomings.

Someone has bluntly but correctly said: "Criticism is the manure in which the Lord's servants grow best."


Over the years, as all of us must do, I’ve daily laid my life on the altar before the Lord and continually asked Him to take me and use me and make my will subject to His. You and I must endeavor to stay painfully aware that the monster of pride at any moment can be loosed from its spiritual chains to crush us and destroy our effectiveness.

It was the criticism of others that first alerted me to the potential seriousness of this inclination. As criticism continues to come our way, we should pray to have the courage to face it objectively. Therein, with God's help, we can ascertain the extent to which criticisms are correct.

You and I should be willing to accept criticism when it’s valid. Learn from it. You may want to find someone besides your marriage partner with whom you can confide your puzzlement with certain types of criticism. Find someone who’s objective, who loves you, who can help interpret the criticism that comes your way, enabling you to disregard that which is incorrect.

God told Moses: get up and get going. He would provide. Moses did his best in a difficult situation.

You can only be as good as God helps you to be. We can be too sensitive to criticism. You and I have to remember our theology. We’re not perfect. Any claim to perfection comes through Christ's work at the cross on our behalf.

Our human efforts will always fall short of that high goal. God wants something more than our best. He wants us to yield ourselves to Him. He wants us to be obedient. From a human perspective we may not be doing that great a job. Some criticism will be valid. We should adjust to it. If we are flexible, doing our very best, God will be pleased with our efforts even when our friends, family and associates find fault.

There's not just one right way to do everything. Two committed Christians may have differing lifestyles. Both are completely dedicated to Christ. One might enjoy a Sunday afternoon ball game, where another will consider this a Sabbath violation. One may drink a glass of wine with his meal, while another would find this to be a violation of personal conscience. The key is obedience to the Bible where its instruction is clear. It declares we are to set aside a day for worship and rest. We’re to avoid drunkenness. It’s a serious sin. As we wrote in the last blog, “Principles God Loves,” where the Bible is unclear, we’re to follow our own personal conscience as it’s directed by God's Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, many criticisms involve petty concerns. We need to distinguish between what is right and the various methodologies of doing what is right.


From early childhood I’ve always very much loved and admired Billy Graham. Over the decades Graham has been subject to the most intense criticism a man can face. Some claim he has violated the gospel of Jesus Christ by associating [on his Crusade platform] with ministers and laymen who deny the authority of the Bible and the deity of Christ. And there are those who attack him from the other side and say that he has neglected social concerns as he's put the stress on personal salvation. Some attack him for using the mass media and question his right to use Madison Avenue techniques. Some criticized him for going to Russia decades ago, feeling that he was used by the Soviet authorities.

Billy Graham could spend many a sleepless night if he took all these criticisms too seriously. God has used him. His methods are not the only methods which God has used. You and I aren’t called to duplicate Graham’s style. God works through a variety of persons, talents, temperaments, and methods. Thank God for a Billy Graham who has endeavored to do the very best he can with the life God has given him.

Are you as faithful? Or are you afraid to accomplish anything for God for fear of criticism? Listen to the critics, examine each one and learn from those that have validity. Then plow ahead with enthusiasm, knowing that you are doing your very best given the assets and liabilities which are yours.

Again, anyone who is going to accomplish anything in life will be criticized. If you are unwilling to face critical evaluation, I suggest you put aside your plans to do anything in this world. The person who is unwilling to face criticism is the person who will be completely immobilized. He’ll find objections from all sides. He will become neutralized by these, never able to make a move.


Over the years I’ve followed the life of quarterback Terry Bradshaw, and discovered just how fickle people can be. It seems that people’s proclivity for idle criticism is the same yesterday today and forever. Terry has been booed by thousands. Seemingly there was nothing good about the way he played the game of football. As time went by I heard him cheered as though he could do no wrong. It just so happened that he was the most visible player on the field. When things go bad, the most visible player is the one who gets the most guff. When things go well, he is stroked.

Harry Truman, who received intense criticism during his term of office, put it this way: "If you can't stand the heat, you'd better get out of the kitchen!"
If you and I are ever going to accomplish anything in this world, we’re going to be criticized. I think sports heroes, politicians, and religious leaders are most vulnerable. You and I, in our own little worlds, are just as susceptible. Being in the public eye assures criticism. Do something and you will get it. Do nothing and you'll face no criticism, except that some will say, "You know, good old Joe just never does anything."


Jesus Himself was despised and rejected of men. He was a Man of sorrows. The Bible says that He was acquainted with grief. Those who followed Him were fickle. One moment they expressed their affection. The next they turned it off. He was plotted against, and maligned. One day He was praised as a hero, the next day He was nailed to a cross. Spiritual leadership is costly.


Stephen found this out. He could not deny his Lord. He was willing to walk into the face of his culture, declare that the Messiah had come, and plead for his Jewish brethren to repent and trust Jesus Christ. Then, as they stoned him to death, in love he cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

He paid the price of his convictions. I doubt that any of us will be stoned to death in a literal way for our faith in the Savior. But I will guarantee some of you are right now in the process of being stoned to spiritual death by the criticisms of those who mock your love of Christ.

Only a few yards away from where Stephen was being stoned was a man named Saul of Tarsus. He held the coat of one who threw the stones. Saul could have continued to play it safe. He was a persecutor of Christians. He saw something in the steadfast resolve of one man willing to go to his death for the faith that planted a seed. That same Saul of Tarsus became
Saint Paul. He went to his death considering it a joy to suffer for Jesus.

When you’re hurt, it’s easy to lash out and hurt others. We can do it almost unconsciously. It’s a defense mechanism to It protect us.

There’s a place to speak the truth, but it needs to be cushioned with love, or we’ll destroy others with the very criticism that hurts us so much. Moses mellowed with the years. Over a period of time he learned to put his criticisms where they counted in a demonstration of loving, firm leadership.

And so why don’t you and I pick ourselves up, square our shoulders and keep plowing.

Winston Churchill had the following words of Abe Lincoln framed on the wall of his office:

"I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If I’m wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won’t make a difference."

After you’ve done the inner wince, take a deep breath and get back in the ring. Just because you may need to “Tune up your act” a bit, it doesn’t mean that you’re a full scale loser. So literally, take a deep expansive breath, with your fists unclenched. You sustain less injury when you do NOT brace for impact. I guess that’s why they call it “rolling with the punches.”

Don't let criticism get the best of you. God will provide grace as we need it. Face whatever criticisms that come with the resolve to move ahead in spite of it.

 Being raised in Florida, I’ve loved fish most of my life. I’ve learned to eat the good part and spit out the bones. So it is with criticism. As we seek the Lord, he’ll give us the discernment to tell one from the other.

Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:57



Friday, September 25, 2015

Principles That Please God

By John Stallings

Several years ago I remember hearing a girl interviewed who had just won a beauty/talent contest.

 Evidently she had made the fact that she was a Christian very clear so the interviewer asked what her church taught & what she believed. Her answer was basically “we don’t do this & we don’t do that.” When pressed further for information on the positives of her faith & what her code of conduct might be, she stuck with the list of several things her church considered sins. That’s all she seemed to have.

I didn’t expect her to be a theologian but I was somewhat disappointed that she seemed to be clueless in regards to the tenants of her faith. It would have been great to hear her tell how knowing Christ had changed her or even something as simple as the little chorus- “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”

Maybe her lack of knowledge stemmed from the fact that her church just didn't preach much gospel, or maybe she just wasn’t listening. Who knew?

God makes it clear on the pages of His Word the things that He considers sins, that grieve His heart. There are the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament & the New Testament is replete with teachings not only from the mouth of Jesus but from the inspired pens of the other writers, all of whose words are “God-breathed,” & essential to our faith.

But there are areas about which the Bible doesn’t clearly speak. There are issues that we confront in our Christian lives where there isn’t a clear-cut Biblical proof-text to steer us.

In cases like that, God gives us personal freedom & leaves it up to us to decide how we’ll conduct our lives. There are however several Biblical principles that we can use that are helpful. I’m going to present these principles in eight words. The first word is;


Romans 12: 2 says….be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…..

Here we have a very helpful principle. Does our conduct conform us more to the world than to Christ? Does it cool our love for Christ? Another translation of Romans 12:2 says; don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.

 When we were raising daughters, there was one argument I heard from them more times than I can count. I don’t know why it should have surprised me because I used it many times on my parents. Here it is; “everybody else is doing it.” My answer was usually, If the crowds doing it, it’s wrong. Then I’d quote Matthew 7:14 …..Straight is the gate & narrow is the way which leadeth unto life & few there be that find it.

If I’m reading that verse right, the majority will not find the right road. The reason so many are on the broad road that leads to destruction is because we’re born on that road. The straight road leading to life must be “found.”

2 Corinthians 6:17 says…..come out from among them & be ye separate saith the Lord & touch not the unclean thing; & I will receive you.

1 John 2:15 says—if a man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.

 I heard a story as a youngster about a Christian girl who was, against her better judgment, at a dance hall where alcohol was flowing freely. She was dancing with a young man she was fond of & felt she should at least give a Christian witness as she twirled across the floor. She asked him bluntly if he was a Christian & his reply without hesitation, was “No & you’re not either or you wouldn’t be here.” The fact that she was participating in an obviously worldly activity that was conforming her to the world made it just about impossible for her to give a Christian witness.

As Christians we should ask- is the activity bringing us more into conformity with Christ or less? The next helpful principle when we’re faced with a grey area is;


Romans 14: 2-3 says—for one believeth he may eat all things: another who is weak eateth herbs. Let him not that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth, for God hath received him.

In the areas of non-essentials, we have to be careful of our human tendency to feel what we do is right & sit in judgment on what others do. I have seen men who drink a case of Coke a week criticize people who drink coffee when Coke has as much or more stimulant in it as coffee. We shouldn’t criticize people for not buttering their spiritual toast the same way we do.

Every Christian has a strong personal conviction about something. I call it their “pet rock.” The trouble comes when we try to impose that conviction on others if they don’t share it. If we let everyone put their “pet rock” or personal conviction on our spiritual wagon it will become so heavy we can’t pull it. The next word is;


Romans 14:5 says….let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind

The first step to Christian maturity is realizing there are some things you can do that I can’t do & visa versa. Obviously when it comes to essentials we’re all subject to the same standards but in non-essentials we’re free to do what we feel good about.

When I traveled as an evangelist I found some churches allowed books & records to be sold in their lobby & others had a conviction against it. I never complained even though it sometimes meant loss of sales for us because this was their conviction. Who was I to ask them to go against it to accommodate me?

There are some churches who won’t allow food to be eaten on church property & others regularly have suppers & even raise money selling meals. We don’t “work for our Salvation” but everyone has to “work out their own Salvation.”

The fourth principle is;


Romans 14:13 says,……..that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way.

In England many Christians think nothing about going to a Pub & having beer. There have been cases where Christian young people from America went to England where the standards on alcohol were different & trying to fit in, they got drunk.

Men are affected & tempted more by what they see & women are tempted more by what they hear. The Bible doesn’t tell a woman exactly how long her hemline should be but God will give her the wisdom to be considerate of men & dress modestly. Obviously if a woman is dressing to “knock men’s socks off” she’s displeasing the Lord.

1 Corinthians 8:12 says, But when ye sin so against the brethren & wound their weak conscious, ye sin against Christ.

Luke 17:1-2 says, ….it is impossible but that offenses will come but woe be to him through whom they come; it were better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. The next principle is;


Romans 14: 16 says, let not then your good be evil spoken of…

This principle is one of seeking to be in agreement as much as is possible with other Christians.

I have heard people say, “if was wrong in Jesus’ day its wrong now & if it’s wrong in one place its wrong everywhere.” That “aint necessarily so.” Let me explain with a couple of examples.

 A few years ago we went to Jamaica for meetings in two large churches. Shortly after we arrived, in conversation with a pastor I asked if there were any local customs we should be aware of. He acted relieved that I brought it up & went on to tell me that the Christian ladies of Jamaica didn’t wear slacks or pant suits. He added that a lady would have almost zero credibility there if she appeared in public in either of these outfits. Juda wears pant suits & had packed more of them than dresses but because of the local custom, she always wore dresses in public. If we had taken the attitude that we’d dress exactly as we wanted to, or we’d dress like we dressed in the States that would violate the principle of consistency & furthermore would show a stubborn unbending attitude which would have been displeasing to God.

 In parts of Germany to wear a neck tie is considered unspiritual but to drink wine is perfectly acceptable. Of course in America the exact opposite would be the rule in most places.

 In the early seventies I pastored in Montgomery Alabama. The church board asked me if I enjoyed bowling & answered that I did on occasion. In a very nice way they explained to me that there was only one bowling alley in town & it had a bad reputation as a hang-out for unsavory people. The bottom line was that if I were seen there I would be the subject of gossip. That was all I needed to hear & during my years as pastor in that city I never darkened the door of that establishment.

But about 90 miles north of Montgomery was the big city of Birmingham. I had several pastor friends there & there were dozens of beautiful bowling alleys. I’d go up occasionally & have lunch with my preacher friends & we’d go bowling. Now the alleys in Birmingham looked just like the one in Montgomery & certainly they were all built to the same basic specifications but when I bowled in Birmingham I was in no danger of being a stumbling block. Had I gone to the bowling alley in Montgomery, I’m sure it would have been displeasing to God as well as given me a bad testimony. But there was no problem in Birmingham. In conducting myself in this way I was honoring the principle of consistency. The next word is;


Roman 14:19 says; Let us follow therefore after the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.As God’s people our goal is unity. We should always ask ourselves—do my words, actions, attitudes and standards make for peace? In the Sermon on the mount Jesus said, --Blessed are the peacemakers.

1 Corinthians 11:15-16 says; --But if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her; for hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom….

A pastor friend of mine had a disgruntled man in his church to stand during service years ago, hold up the new church songbook & proceed to criticize it & say he didn’t think the books were worth the money the church spent on them. The pastor meekly asked the people if they were enjoying the books & 98% raised their hands that they were. That man stood in the pastor’s office a few months later & said “Pastor, after the night I stood & said what I did about the songbooks, I lost hundreds of dollars a week in my business.”

That man very unwisely violated the constructive principle & he suffered for it. What he said had a divisive edge on it, it didn’t make for peace & wasn’t appropriate in the public forum he chose. The next principle is;


Roman 14:22 says,--hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

This principle simply tells us if we feel bad about something we shouldn’t do it.

In 1Timothy 1:19 Paul told Timothy, Holding fast a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck….

Though I used the verse earlier, Paul said in Philippians 2:12 ---Work out your own salvation with fear & trembling.

While everyone has a conscience, only Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans 2:15, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness….

Going against our inner monitor telling us what we ought to do is the first step to a hardening heart. If we do it often, soon our conscience will become seared. The last principle is;


Is our conduct Christ like? Are our activities making us more Christ like?

Romans 15:1-3 says,--We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself……

In all that we do, we should ask the question; is the welfare of others uppermost in my mind? Our little loss of liberty, if it comes to that will be more than compensated with the joy, power & the good testimony we’ll have in the long run.



Monday, September 21, 2015

Do You Have "A Bone To Pick" With God"?

By John Stallings

How would you react if you learned you had only a short time to live?

Once the initial shock wore off, what feelings would you be left with? Denial? Anger? Helplessness? Maybe even hopelessness? Can you imagine yourself being calm about it?

Throughout my years in ministry I’ve met with many people who were facing the very real fact that they were in their last days of life. And as you can probably imagine, they each faced it in different ways.

In a church I was pastoring several years ago there was a man in the congregation who just learned he had a very rapid-moving blood cancer.He was in his mid--sixties. The story is too complicated to tell here but suffice it to say this man was as angry as angry can be.

I sat several times while he told me how unfair he found this whole turn of events. He and his wife had saved and planned their whole lives for retirement, hoping to travel to many wonderful places and do many wonderful things. But he was diagnosed with this cancer shortly after retirement.

Fighting cancer had become his retirement activity. And as he began to see the cancer gaining the upper hand, he came to realize that he would never be able to take any of those trips or do any of the fun activities that he had so looked forward to.

I officiated at his funeral and I’ve never experienced such a “thick fog” of deep questioning that hung in air throughout the service. I feel sure this man went to heaven but I also feel he had some questions for God when he arrived.

It turns out, lots of folks are angry, and have a bone to pick with God. Why does He allow babies to starve in third world countries, why does He allow bad things to happen, why does He -- either actively or passively -- cause so much grief?

What does it suggest when many people, according to various studies, are angry at the guy at the top?

"We find that anywhere between one third and two thirds of people we've surveyed in the United States admit they sometimes feel angry at God in response to some current thing they are suffering with, such as a cancer diagnosis," psychologist Julie Exline of Case Western Reserve University said in an interview. "It's a very high number."

Although people rarely talk about it, almost everyone experiences anger toward God at some point in their lives, commonly after the diagnosis of a serious illness, the death of a loved one or a trauma.

In fact, nearly two out of three people report that they've felt angry at God, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Many get angry because they believe that God is responsible for the negative events in their lives.

I saw a movie sometime back called “The Apostle.” Robert Duvall played the part of Sonny, a ragged, hot-tempered, womanizing evangelist. Mostly because of his arrogance Sonny loses his church & his wife. His wife is leaving him for his youth pastor. Mercy! Angry & broken Sonny moves back into his mother’s house where he shouts, paces & hollers to God from an upstairs window.

“Somebody, I say somebody has taken my wife. They stole my church….I don’t mean to yell at you but I’m mad at you. I can’t take it. Give me a sign Lord. Blow this pain out of me. Lord, Jehovah, if you won’t give me back my wife, give me peace. Give it to me---give it to me….give it to me. Give me peace. I’m confused. I’m mad at you. I love you Lord but I’m mad at you. I’ve always called you Jesus & you’ve always called me Sonny—what should I do?”

His prayer is so loud that a neighbor calls Sonny’s mother to complain about the noise. “That’s my son” she explains. “Ever since he was a little- bitty boy sometimes he talks to the Lord & sometimes he yells at the Lord. And tonight he happens to be yelling at Him.” Old Sonny had a real bone to pick with God.


If someone has a bone to pick with you, it means you've done something wrong, at least they think you have, and they’re upset and want to talk to you about it.

In my mind it conjures up a picture of a dog, going through the arduous pains of getting every last speck of meat off a bone, and it looks like it’s going to take some time.

Or maybe it’s two birds who’ve found a bone and they’re “head to head” picking this bone, multi-tasking as they gnaw, talking something out between them.

In any case, ‘I have a bone to pick with you” is rarely a sign of “good things to come.”


Let’s be frank; that sounds a little odd to us doesn’t it? It sounds irreverent & entirely inappropriate. Well, maybe not. There is such a thing as confrontational prayer. This kind of prayer occurs when I bring my questions, doubts, disagreements & even my complaints directly to God. Sometimes its prayer spoken out of tortured complaint, out of suffering or outrageous anger in what I perceive to be the absence of justice.

You may say “I would never talk to God in anything less than soft respectful tones. Who am I to “Haul God to court?” Excellent points.

However, as long as your heart is in the right place and your attitude is one of humility, “picking a bone with God” will revolutionize your prayer life as well as your relationship with God. You see, in prayer God wants us to engage Him. It’s almost as if He’s saying “Talk to me, engage me, respond to me. Anything is better than the silent treatment & the cold shoulder. Argue, rant, rave, stew, disagree, but do something. Or worse, don’t come to me with pious words that are empty & fake.”

Prayer is a personal & passionate conversation with God. It’s an exercise that involves both of you—the real you—not the pretend you, the false you.

There’s a fascinating story in the Old Testament that focuses on God’s conflict with the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness. Moses, who finding himself in the middle of the conflict between God and the Israelites, -has “a bone to pick with God.”

This story describes a lot of weep’n and a wail’n. The Israelites have a bone to pick and are complaining bitterly about their hardship within the hearing of the Lord. They are crying out to God. After all, the wilderness has been no picnic, and the food has been awful! God did send them manna to eat. It came down at night when the dew settled on the camp; and there was plenty of it. But that wasn’t the point. The manna tasted bad. It probably smelled like old shoes; and it got stronger the longer you cooked it. It had to be used very sparingly. It’s no wonder the Israelites complained about losing their appetite, and longed for the meat and fish, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt.

But look at how God deals with this. Listen to God’s answer to Israel’s complaints.

“The Lord heard you when you wailed, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt. Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loath it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt.”

God is a God of love, but He’s a God of tough love. When God’s anger is stirred, God speaks and acts, and God doesn’t worry about being polite or politically correct. God makes judgments, judgments that self-serving religious people dare deconstruct at their own peril. When humans put their own will before the will of God, there are consequences.

Ever shared any of your anger with God? Have you let God in on your doubts and disappointments with Him?

Large segments of the Psalms are complaints. Yeah, complaints, good old fashioned griping, and bellyaching. You can call it “whining with just cause” if you want to. Call it whatever you want to call it but its there and it’s there repeatedly. It is what it is!

“Where are you God? Hello. Why have you abandoned me? If you are the big God you say you are why are you letting all this happen to me? Don’t you care? Aren’t you aware of my situation? Aren’t you going to do anything about it? What’s the use in worshipping you if life is going to be like this?”


Job is a put your cards on the table type of guy. He doesn’t pull any punches.

While his friends’ mouth off the traditional religious mumbo jumbo, always praise God and let Him off the hook, Job lays his case out against God.

Late in the book God pulls rank on Job and in response to Job’s bellyaching asks, “Where were you when I created the world?” In effect God says, “If you could have done a better job -Job why didn’t you make the stars and the sun and the animals and all the rest of it?”

Yes, God shuts Job up, but Job wasn’t exactly nice and patient. He was honest. He was honest to God and to his friends and to himself.


Even more confrontational with God than Job is the prophet Jeremiah. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I read Jeremiah 20 because it’s so radical.

We read in the 20th chapter that Jeremiah tells God this: “O Lord, thou has deceived me, and I was deceived.” In other words-“God, you lied to me.”

Jeremiah walked into God’s office one day and laid his “preacher papers” on God’s desk and said, “I quit.” He was so discouraged he felt he couldn’t go on. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah said, “God, I’ll never speak your name again. From now on you’re ‘what’s His name’ in the sky.”

Of course we know that he soon hit the dirt squalling like a baby and said—“I can’t quit, I just can’t! His word is like fire shut up in my bones.” Jeremiah got his heart right and finally accepted the fact that he wasn’t God-God was God!

If our hearts are right its fine with God for us to be angry with Him providing we do certain things with that anger.


When Jeremiah is angry with God, what does he do? He talks to God about it. He prays. God wants us to talk to him. “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”And Jeremiah's prayer is honest. God wants us to be honest. He doesn't want us to put on a “spiritually correct” performance.

It isn't that God needs us to be honest – he sees through the performance anyway. It's that we need to be honest, so that we can move forward spiritually. The more we lie to ourselves, to God, and to other people, the more impossible it is for us to move on.

One of the most important things to do when you're angry with God is to talk to God about what you're angry about. Tell God honestly where you are.


Another important thing to do when you're angry with God is to keep going at whatever God has given you to do. Jeremiah wanted to stop, but he didn't.

One of the things that will help us not to lose the plot spiritually is to keep going, even when we're angry. Thankfully anger is one of the quickest emotions to pass if we’ll give it a chance.


Apparently Jeremiah thought God had promised that his ministry would succeed. But he hadn't. He'd told Jeremiah what to do, but didn't give him any guarantees about the outcome.

In fact, God had warned Jeremiah right at the start that he was going to have a really tough time. You can read about it in chapter 1. God hadn't actually deceived Jeremiah, although he felt betrayed and let down.

Be careful what you think God has promised. God doesn't promise us all super-success in ministry, or financial well-being, or a marriage made in heaven, or robust physical health.

The times I've most felt angry with God have been when I've thought God had promised something, and it hasn't turned out, or hasn't gone how I expected.

But later on – maybe years later - when I calm down and look back, I realize that God never promised what I thought he'd promised. Be careful here. Check it out against the Bible.


It's OK to be angry with God, and it's good to talk to God about how you feel – but be careful what you say. Anger can very easily tip over into something more dangerous.

Getting back to Job; he was obviously someone who had a raw deal from life even though he was later given double for his trouble. Like Jeremiah, Job got around to questioning what God was doing, and to cursing the day he was born.

Job's wife egged him on to curse God.

The Bible says:

'His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:9-10).

Job was angry. Job asked questions. Job yelled at God – but he didn't sin in what he said. He didn't say that God was responsible for evil.

One of our big problems when we get angry is that we quickly lose control of what we say.

The idea here is that God is great in power, utterly in control of all that happens. Yes, he is kind and understanding towards us when we're angry with him – but he's also a God of justice and righteousness, so be careful what you say to him.

So we've said -let's get real with God:

• It's OK to be angry with God
• Talk to God while you're angry
• Keep going even when you're angry
• Be careful how you're angry

The bottom line is; we’re angry. And since no one else seems to be available to be angry at, we get angry at God.

And we feel guilty. We feel we shouldn't get angry at God! We worry that God's feelings will be hurt. Or worse yet, God will return our anger - and we all know how much better at being angry God could be!


This isn't like the old saying about not teaching a pig to sing, because you won't succeed and it will only irritate the pig. Being angry at God may indeed have a salutary effect on your life. And I don't believe it will irritate God.

Confronting God? Arguing with God? Many of us were taught that when we approach God we fold our hands, and close our eyes, think good thoughts about God & say pretty words to Him. The reality is we’ve too often been told that prayer is “getting stuff from God” when in reality prayer is “getting in touch with God.”

First of all, God already knows that we’re angry - if not, then God isn't God. Being all-knowing, God is quite familiar with your anger, even before you are. Our anger will not come as a surprise to God.

Second, God knows the source of our anger. God knows the events and experiences that make us angry. God knows our emotions and feelings. God knows all about our situation. God might even share our anger!

Third, God knows why we’re angry - the feelings of helplessness, fear, confusion, and dismay that lead to our anger. God intimately knows the inner workings of our minds and spirits, and God knows our limitations. We often are angry because we’re powerless, and God knows our powerlessness.

Fourth, God can take it. Oh yes, our anger is so titanic that God’s knees will buckle before us! Nonsense. God has faced greater anger than ours and survived! God's shoulders are broad and powerful - God can certainly deal with our puny anger. We do not run the risk of harming God with our anger.

So if God already knows about our anger, understands the source of our anger, discerns why we’re angry, and can easily handle our anger, why are we reluctant or guilty about expressing our anger?

In fact, some times it’s good to vent a little. Rather than keeping it all pent up inside us, some times just letting go and yelling our heads off can be a good thing. Too often we let our anger fester inside us, building up and growing until it seeks escape in destructive and violent ways. Let off some of that steam. Tell God what you think. You just might feel better and God won't be any worse off - honest!

Then you can go about the business of seeing with a clearer mind if there might be some way for you to do something about the situation. Clear the air with God about your anger, and then sit down with God and try to figure something out. But it is often necessary to get that anger and fury out of the way first. Having done that, you can more calmly and dispassionately consider the problem about which you are angry and find ways to do something about it.

So be angry at God. God can take it. There won't be any retribution from God. And you might be able to do some clear and constructive thinking about what made you angry.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath…Eph.4:26



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Don't Go To Moab!

By John Stallings

This story could be ripped from  todays headlines.

Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Chilion and Mahlon have left their homeland because of famine.

They were refugees. They went into a new land called Moab searching for food and shelter. Like many people, because of wars, famine, or economic scarcity, they left their homeland in an attempt to begin life anew.

Moab wasn’t a nice place- to say the least. In fact in Psalm 60:8 God called Moab His wash pot, a wash basin where they would wash the guest’s feet. God said that Moab was as filthy as a wash pot. It was a place of trash. Moab was the off-spring of Lot and his oldest daughter Gen. 19:37

So Moab was born out of an incestuous relationship. God had constantly warned His people about Moab. In Jeremiah 48:11, Jeremiah prophecies about Moab and he paints a little picture. He says that Moab has been at ease from his youth. He has always been “no good”, even while he was growing up. And he says here is Jeremiah 48:11 that he has not been emptied from his lees. The picture here is that of wine making. When they made wine, they put it in a vessel and let it set for a while and while it was sitting, the trash would fall to the bottom.

Then they would take that vessel and pour it through a filter into another vessel and let it sit until more trash fell to the bottom. They would do that over and over again until the wine was crystal clear.

God said about Moab that his lees had not been emptied; that he is full of trash. God said about Moab in Zephaniah that He would destroy Moab like Sodom and Gomorrah. Moab was a not a place to be. It was a place of filth.  Moab is a type, a picture of the world.

Sometimes people seeking a newer and better life think of a new land as the Promised Land. But promises don’t always work out, and the dreams  can sometimes turn into nightmares. This happened for Naomi and her sons.We read the story in the book of Ruth chapter one.

Naomi’s husband Elimelech died leaving his wife and children behind. His sons eventually married wives from their adopted country. Two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth now became part of this immigrant family.

After tens years both of the sons die, leaving their mother, Naomi, their wives Orpah and Ruth alone and destitute. The cultural times meant that without men/ husbands as providers the women were alone and poor. But famine had come to Moab and Naomi decided it was time to return home. She felt that she had left with everything, and now her returning would be with nothing. In fact, her spirits and hopes were so low when she returned home, she said to the people, "do not call me Naomi but Mara." Mara means bitterness or sorrow. This statement illustrates the depths to which Naomi had plummeted. There was a deep and inconsolable sorrow and hopelessness in her soul. But let’s back up.

Naomi, realizing that there is nothing to stay in Moab for decides it’s time to go home. She releases her daughter in-laws from their family obligation, in part knowing exactly how hard it is to start life in a foreign land. Orpah decides to return to her kinfolk in Moab obviously with hopes of starting all over again. But Ruth refuses to depart from Naomi uttering some of the most memorable words in scripture:

"Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die - there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!"

These are powerful words. Many sermons have been preached on the undying love that Ruth had for Naomi. Her love, commitment and loyalty come through poignantly and powerfully in these words of poetic verse. These words, wherever thou goest I will go- are often used in weddings, which is somewhat strange because the words weren’t spoken by a bride to a husband-to-be but rather by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. To me it just goes to show how powerful those words of love and commitment really are.


I wonder why one of the wives would return home and the other not? I wonder why Orpah would go home to her kinsfolk and Ruth refuse. It causes me to wonder what kind of situation Ruth came from. Was her family dead? Was the family in abject poverty and there was nothing there for her to return to? I wonder whether life for Ruth had been one of abuse, and the marriage to one of Naomi's sons was a relief from the violence and possible death. I wonder why Ruth didn’t go home. Was it because, for the first time in her life she found kindness and care under the tutelage of Naomi? Was it because she found the love of a family in the family of Naomi and didn't want to give that up? Or did she so worry about the future and well being of Naomi that she just didn't want to leave her alone to the elements? I don’t know the reasons for her not returning to her family and kinsfolk, and the scriptures give us no clues. But I do know that there was some compelling reason that she accompanied Naomi into an uncertain future and place.


When we think about life and living, you and I understand that life is uncertain and our futures are uncertain! We don't know what will come our way. We don't know what will happen in the next moment. One minute everything can be going along just fine, and the next moment we don't know what hit us! In one moment Naomi had a husband and two sons, and the next she had no husband. Then Naomi had two sons and two daughter in-laws, and then her sons were gone and her life uncertain and frightening. Life is like that! We don't know what twists and turns will come in our lives.

A spouse can die. A child can die. We can lose our family, just like it happened in this story. We might have to start all over again. We may have to start a new job or go back to school for more training and start a new career. We find ourselves in places where we have to make decisions, and sometimes those decisions are difficult ones.

Naomi was going back home with nothing, and Ruth was going into a foreign land with an uncertain future. Sometimes we stare into our futures with more questions than answers. At times we stand in the present moment and cannot imagine what tomorrow looks like. One thing is sure; life can come at you fast! You may remember a blog I posted some time back entitled “Life comes at you fast.” Sometimes it’s too fast for my taste. We can find ourselves looking at problems, things we don't want to face, troubles, and hardships that cause emotional trauma. Naomi and Ruth had this and more. In many of those moments there isn't anything much that we can do about what comes our way. So what do we do? How do we cope? How do we carry on?

Naomi and Ruth didn't know what was before them, but they knew what was behind. They also knew they couldn’t bring the good times back! They knew that they had to go forward because there was nowhere else to run and hide. Naomi returned home saying, "from now on call me "Mara;" bitterness or sorrow. She had lost everything, but there she stood, along with Ruth, with happier times at their backs and uncertainty ahead. It reminds me of the old lPopular song,  "Side by side.”

One thing Ruth and Naomi had was love. Surround me with love and I can face some pretty awesome things if I know that love is real. If someone reminds you that they’re with you, backing you up with open hands and hearts offering to heal your hurts and soothe your worries it makes a world of difference doesn’t it? Naomi and Ruth had the love of one another with which to face the future!


They seem to also have faith. Faith allows us to face the uncertainty of life, when it comes at you fast, and the joy is sucked out of it. Faith reminds you that whatever happens -it will be all right! Faith allows you and me to stand and face tomorrow, and another tomorrow, and another after that until the sorrow fades and the disappointment turns back to joy.

Faith allows us to face difficulty with a trust and belief that says -hold on and God will work it all out for your good and His glory. Romans 5:3-5 says:

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

Faith assures us that we can not only endure, but through our endurance our character is perfected. Through the character building experience hope starts to loom and we find that the hope is real.

Naomi and Ruth had been through some things. They faced the uncertainty and the suffering and eventually came to understand the character that God had placed in them, and through it all found it was not hopeless.

Consider the counsel of Ephesians 6.13:

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."

This means that we have the stuff to face life, and take it as it comes. Faith enables us to take the lemons of life and make lemonade. There is nowhere to run so we will have to stand. Jesus also reminds us of the gift of having faith if only the size of a mustard seed. It doesn't take much faith to start a triumphant process – but it does take some faith. Faith increases if you use it, just as the mustard seed starts small and becomes a shrub where life resides. Remember Hebrews 11:1:

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen."

In faith we can face the present and the future.  We can’t go back, but we can go forward. As long as life resides in us we will have the option of going forward.

Naomi and Ruth couldn’t go back, that wasn’t an option. They had no choice, so now they will face the future with love and faith!


This Book of Ruth is a Book about strong women. It’s a time when men were weak. The reason why I know that Naomi was a strong and unusual woman is because when she came back to Bethlehem the whole town knew her. The whole town was stirred. Another thing to notice in the narrative is that Naomi and her family weren’t starving when they left Bethlehem. By Naomi’s own admission in verse 21, she said we left full.


 All too often men are so weak spiritually they throw all the decision making on the women folk. Naomi’s name means pleasant, smiling, beautiful, charming, and delightful. Men, strong women can lead you to Moab. A pleasant woman can lead a man almost anywhere. Don’t let your friends, your mama your sister your brother, take you to Moab.

You think things are messed up now. You think you’re having it hard now? Sir, you go  to Moab and stay awhile and tell me how you like it there. Tradegy always comes sooner or later to people who leave the House of God for the filth of this world. Moab ruined Naomi because as you read this text and look at verse 13 she said “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” She said “I was responsible.” And if you notice in verse 20 she said “the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me.” And in verse 21 she said the Lord has afflicted me. She said -"the Lord has testified against me."

Naomi understood that it was her leading that got Elimelech and her two sons down into Moab. She made it back to Bethlehem but her husband died in Moab. She made it back. But her sons married women in Moab, and then her sons died in Moab. If you hang around in Moab, you can lose your family. Naomi lost her family after 10 years in Moab. Everything was gone.


Naomi said in verse 21, “I went out full. I left Bethlehem and I did not know how blessed I was. I didn’t know what I had, but now in retrospect I can see I was full and didn’t know it." Many people don’t know they’re blessed until they go to Moab. Someone has rightly said, “You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.” Moab will ruin your finances. She said “I went out full but now I’m empty.”

By her own admittance she says “I’m broke.” I've got nothing left, no husband, no sons, I am broke.” It reminds me of the prodigal son who left his father’s house, who by his own admission at the hog pen said, “My father's servants have bread and enough to spare and here I am desiring to eat from the hog pen. " Moab will ruin you financially. I’ve seen people leave the family of God, wipe their hands, get mad  and through with God. They take off to Moab and, I’ve seen them come back. I’ve seen them go out full and come back empty.

Moab will impact the way you look. Look at verse 20. Notice that when they came back to town in verse 19, the whole city was moved. She’d been a woman of influence. The townspeople said - "is this Naomi? This can’t be Naomi. This can’t be that, gorgeous, beautiful, eloquent woman of influence who left Bethlehem. This can’t be Naomi."

Moab will even mess up your facial features. I’ve seen people who live in Moab. I’ve see what sin can do. I’ve seen how Moab can eat you up. I’ve seen what dope and substance abuse can do.

They said, Naomi, you haven’t been gone but 10 years and you look far beyond your age. Time has plowed furrows of worry across her face. That body that was like a sculptor’s dream, that figure eight has turned to a figure O. Hair that was as black as a raven’s back—time has speckled it with gray. Skin that was as smooth as a Georgia peach now looks like 10 miles of bad road. Moab will suck all the life from you. Moab will take your joy and age you, quickly.

Naomi said in verse 21 “The Lord has afflicted me.” The word afflicted in the Hebrew means to break into pieces. And sometimes in order to get you back to Bethlehem, He has to break you down. He has to break your pride. He has to tear that ego down. So she says “don’t call me Naomi,” which means beautiful, amiable and pleasant, “call me Mara,” which means bitter. It means “worn out.” "My name is not Naomi any more, it’s Mara."


Let me offer a ray of hope here. You can return.

Naomi was hurt and she was lost in Moab, but she heard that God was blessing His people back in Bethlehem. The Bible says “the day you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” I hear the Bible say “he that hath ear to hear, let him hear what the Lord is saying to him.”

Moab will wound you. Moab will weaken you. Moab will leave you without strength. When Naomi heard that God was blessing His people she said,-  "I know that I've been living in Moab. I know that I did wrong and I led my husband away." But she said,  "I’m going to hurry up and go back to Bethlehem/ Judah."

Let me tell you why you ought to be in a hurry. James said you ought to get in a hurry because- your life is like a vapor, it’s slowly vanishing away.

I can almost hear Naomi saying, “Lord, I know I messed up. Oh Lord, I left home with gold around my neck, but now I don’t have anything. But I’m going back to Bethlehem. I left home with children and I’ve lost them, but I’m going home to Bethlehem. I left home with a loving husband, but I lost my husband in Moab. But I’m coming back to Bethlehem.”

Are you living in Moab? You can come home today. You can come home… You may have a bad habit … Come home...You may be strung out… Come home…. You may be messed up….. Come home. You may have lost what you had…. Come home. Trouble in your life?… Come home. Family fractured?…. Come home. Finances all gone?… Come home.

God welcomes you back to Bethlehem…. Moab has wasted you… Come on back.

Come back to the father’s house.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Treasures In Unexpected Places

By John Stallings

• The main cause of divorce in this country is in this story.
• The main cause of church splits is in this story.
• The main cause of broken friendships is in this story.
• The main cause of family dissention is in this story.
• The main cause of strained relationships is in this story.
• The root cause of many of life’s problems is in this story.

Let’s read the story,--The kingdom of God is like unto a treasure hid in a field. For which when a man found he hideth; for the joy thereof goeth; selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field. Matt13:44

We all know what a treasure is. A treasure is something that can change your lifestyle. A treasure is something that can take you from- rags- to- riches. A treasure is something wonderful, something to be coveted and much desired. Men spend their lives searching for treasures. They go to the ends of the earth for treasures. Sadly some people kill and steal in the hopes of gaining a treasure.

We all know what a field is. A field is a place where weeds and scrubby things can grow. A field is a wild place where rats scurry about and other small rodents and even larger things live, like wildcats and raccoons. A field is a place where people can dump garbage and 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.


You have to find this treasure. You’ve got to look for it because it’s hidden in a field. You’ve got to go out into a field and look for the treasure. The man in this story finds a field with a treasure- hidden; he covers the treasure back up, and then goes and sells everything he has to buy this field. But when the man comes back he gets a chance to evaluate the field he’s purchased, low-and behold he finds some startling things. Yes he’s bought treasure but also….

• He’s bought some weed-thickets,
• He’s bought some rocks,
• He’s bought some ants and spiders,
• He’s bought some gopher-holes,
• He’s bought some field-mice and rats,
• He’s possibly bought a skunk or two and some snakes,
• Maybe he’s bought a raccoon and an opossum,
• He’s bought some garbage someone dumped on his land,
• He’s bought a few dead trees, a 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 and all at once a big lizard comes scampering out of his hole. Then he sees poison Ivy growing and as he turns around a large rat runs between his feet and he smells the odor of a skunk. What if this man was so disgusted with all the junk on his field that he forsakes his field and the treasure buried there because of his negativity? Wouldn’t it be silly for him to do this and maybe go to the adjoining field where there is no treasure and buy it because he’s become so negative about his field?

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


So often we’re not willing to take what we don’t want to get what we do want. We can’t escape the fact that the treasure is in the field. Notice…

• It isn’t in a bank- it’s in a field
• It isn’t in a museum -it’s in the field
• You may have to smell the odor of a skunk
• Or run from a raccoon
• Or stumble over some garbage
• You might have to get bitten by a few wasps

But some 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 and; we break up with that friend. We get mad with our friend and in some cases we won’t speak to our friend after we find out what he has in 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 and weeds and briars. We shouldn’t be surprised when trying to be the best friend we can be if a lizard jumps up and scurries across our field at the most inopportune time.


The man falls in love with the young lady because he sees many things to love and 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 and gets close to her he starts to see that see she has enormous weeds in her field. He sees a mouse or two scampering in her field and maybe a little garbage. Then the young man 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 the 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 and 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 has a field also, 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 and find out she has some weeds growing and 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 and loves her children. Like us all, she isn’t perfect but don’t throw away that treasure just because she has a field. If a man has a wife who’s cooking for him, washing and ironing his clothes, is loving and loyal then 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 the boat. After a while she finds out he has a field, which all men have. She finds out while he’s smart he’s also stubborn. He has a field with weeds growing with garbage here and there. But he’s a hardworking, faithful man who loves her with all his heart- but he does have a field. He loves God and 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 and she divorced him basically for that reason. Years later she told me with tears in her eyes how 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 and 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 just isn’t satisfying.

A father told me once why his young daughter was divorcing her husband and marrying another man. He said, “It’s not 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 and were right most of the time. My dad would make me lie down across the bed from time to time and 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 and have a temper but when we look at what they do for their children we can overlook a little field mouse scurrying across the field occasionally. It would be tough to grow up with no roof over your head and 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.


A pupil looks at the teacher and 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. So many say, “I know there’s a treasure here but I don’t want to get bitten by a spider or smell a skunk so I’ll just pass it all up. I’ll just go somewhere where there are no weeds and rats and maybe things will be more pleasant for me.

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 possible 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 perhaps but it won’t be a fulfilling life. The human spirit doesn’t thrive on ease and comfort. The human spirit thrives on challenges and accomplishments. Almost every time 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 just that way. Blessed is the young person who learns this lesson early enough to do them some good.


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

All the men in the Bible had great treasure in their lives but they also had a field.

• Moses had great treasure but he was hot-tempered and 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 (field) 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 and John had treasure but they also had a field.

Every pastor you’ll ever meet will have a field –so…

• 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 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 and make things right with them? Go to the person you’ve been criticizing and 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’s still there but be advised; in all probability their field is still there too. Tell them you saw a mouse and got spooked but you still see the treasure that’s within them and care enough about them to want to pursue your friendship.

Why not go to your wife or husband and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 every 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 and she told me in no uncertain terms she wasn’t a Christian and 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, and 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 and without blemish and paid our sin debt on the cross of Calvary and offers us all eternal life.

Let’s go back and find the fellow with the field. He’s been digging and digging and he’s been bitten several times by spiders and other insects. He’s felt the sting of the nettles and weeds and; 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 treasure that was hidden in his field.

IT’S UP TO US! ---

In every human relationship there’s a treasure, but there’s also a field. It’s up to us whether we spend our lives 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



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Importance Of Doing Something

By John Stallings

Do you know how to swim?

Living in Florida with the ocean, lakes and rivers, and every other house with a swimming pool, you seldom meet a person who doesn’t know how to swim. But there are millions of people who don’t. Many of them sadly around the world have never been near enough water to even try.

Pretend you’re one of those people. The most water you’ve ever been in was in a bathtub. Now you decide you want to learn to swim, but the only pool available is ten feet deep everywhere; there is no shallow end. I think you’d be a little reluctant to just dive in.

I could tell you that the water would support you, that you would float. I could show you in an encyclopedia that the density of the human body is ever so slightly less than that of water. I could explain Bernoulli’s laws and Pascal’s laws, and Archimedes’ principle, so that you would become intellectually convinced that your body would float. ... Now are you going to jump in? Probably not. You believe me when I tell you that you can float. But you’re not ready to act on it yet.

You can tell me that you have absolute faith in what I have told you. You can quote back to me all the scientific details. You can study books on swimming, and quote them back to me word for word, chapter and verse. You can tell me how much you love swimming. But until you get wet, it doesn’t mean a thing. Faith without works is dead.


Some of the better truths in the story of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda happen after the man was healed & entered the temple, encountering the Pharisees.

In John 5:14, Jesus later found the man in the temple & spoke to him. Jesus had already dealt with the man in “grace” & now He applied “truth,” telling him to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him.

Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. John 5:14—NIV



The narrative seems clear to me that Jesus went looking for the man He’d recently healed. It’s amazing how Jesus can always find us. Though we sometimes want to feel we went looking for Him, the fact is, God came searching for us. Do you know why it’s often said that Christianity isn’t a religion? Answer; religion is defined as, “Man’s search for God.”

In the strictest sense, a person can be praying to a bird or the Sun & be said to be practicing religion. Mankind is & has always been on a cosmic search for God.

But in Christianity, man wasn’t searching for God, but rather God came searching for man. It was happening all through the Old Testament through the prophets & other phenomenon, & it culminated in Christ coming to earth to dwell among men & die on the cross.

Paul said in Romans 3:11, --there is none that seeketh after God.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 14:3—there is none that doeth good, no not one.

Over & over it’s been demonstrated that when an individual sinks so far into sin all seems hopeless, --“man’s extremity is God’s opportunity,” & God finds that person.



STOP-SINNING!! Here’s one of the most profound theological commands ever uttered. Are you ready?


I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the YOUTUBE video on STOP IT with comedian Bob Newhart. If not, take six minutes & watch it. He’s at his funniest, stuttering, brilliant best.

Newhart plays a very different kind of Psychiatrist who charges five dollars for a five minute session. A woman comes into his office & unburdens her phobia about being buried alive in a box. Newhart asks her if anyone had ever threatened to bury her in a box or if there was any real basis for the fear & she says there isn’t. Then he looks at her & says; STOP IT!

Newhart’s finished in three minutes but he can’t break a five dollar bill for the woman so she stays for two more minutes to get her monies worth. She tells him she doesn’t think his advice is going to work for her, & he says, “O.k. if the two words aren’t enough for you I’ll give you ten words,


That little skit is humorous but in reality it speaks volumes.

We could read the Bible through & memorize every word of it but until we, as an act of our will make the decision to forsake sin & put it to death, we’ll never be victorious over sin. At some point we have to stop the action, habit or sin because no one else can do it for us.

Are you thinking negatively? STOP IT!!

Are you over-spending? STOP IT!!

Are you overworking? STOP IT!!

Are you gossiping? STOP IT!!

Are you judging others? STOP IT!!

Are you obsessive/ compulsive? STOP IT!!

Do you think your opinions are always best? STOP IT!!

Do you lose your temper? STOP IT!!

Are you overeating? STOP IT!!

Are you indulging in a secret sin? STOP IT!!

It’s like the man who went to the Doctor & told him when he lifted his arm a certain way it hurt. The Doctor, said, “Stop lifting it like that.”

I heard about a man who was having trouble with his voice. He went to a throat specialist, & after a long series of tests, the doctor told the man, the only thing I can tell you is; you talk too much. Stop it!”

Years ago I heard comedian George Burns, nearly one hundred at the time, tell about developing a condition that caused him to constantly clear his throat with a little short cough. He’d been doing it for thirty years & mentioned to his doctor that he was concerned about the cough especially since he smoked cigars. The doctor told him he could easily get rid of the cough for him & gave him instructions, “Stop doing it.” Burns said “that was fifty years ago & I’ve never coughed since.” They aren’t making doctors like that any more.

Here’s the best way I’ve ever found to lose weight; STOP EATING SO MUCH!!

You can do it the low-carb way, which is the way we’ve done it for the last few years, or you can eat 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day but however you do it, you’ve got to STOP EATING SO MUCH.

You may have a problem that isn’t a sin-- it’s just a bad habit but you can handle it the same way, JUST STOP IT!!


In the seventies Dr. Karl Mennineger wrote a very good book called, “Whatever became of sin?” He talked about this problem of rationalizing sin or calling it by another name. Over thirty years later the problem has grown exponentially. Our society now has a hard time labeling things right or wrong. When President Ronald Reagan called The Soviet Union an evil empire, it upset a lot of people because they couldn’t come to terms with calling certain things or nation’s evil.

When I read Dr. Mennineger’s book in the mid-seventies, I humbly answered his question thusly; “Sin went to the doctor & was diagnosed as a disease. Sin went to the psychiatrist & was diagnosed as a dysfunction.” Some people choose to try to modify their sin or cut down on it, like ordering a half-order of something in a restaurant. But the edict of heaven is still, STOP IT.

Jesus tells the paralyzed man,--SIN NO MORE!

You may think a Christian can’t sin but as long as we have a robe of flesh we will have a bent toward sin. The Lord’s Prayer says-- forgive us our sins; it doesn’t say –forgive them their sins.

You can be saved, sanctified & filled with heaven’s sweet Holy Ghost but you still have to STOP SINNING!! You can pray until your hair turns green but you still have to STOP SINNING!!

You can fast until you're skin & bones & God will certainly grant you His grace & power but at some point you’ll still have to make the decision to STOP SINNING!!

In Romans 8:13 Paul says, --For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh ye shall live.

 The word mortify comes from the same word that we get the word mortician. This is what must be done to sin.

It’s possible to be “too spiritual,” expecting to sit passively by while God comes in & takes the evil desires & temptations out of our way. He won’t do that but He’ll always create an escape hatch for us to escape the temptation. Of course we’ll have to take the time to look for His way of escape.

Listen how Paul handles a situation where a person has a problem with stealing;

Does he say to the person: “You know, stealing is so ingrained in you & you’ve been so defeated by it, the only hope you have to being victorious over stealing is to have the Lord come in & deal with it for you?” No! What does Paul say? Listen to Ephesians 4:28;

Let him that stole, steal no more! --- JUST STOP IT! Now that’s some deep theology, wouldn’t you agree?

Paul deals much the same way when it comes to growth in grace & spiritual maturity. He tells us in 1 Corinthians that he was at one time young & immature like everyone else. There were the same weaknesses & childishness in Paul’s life that all of us know about.

But did Paul say, “Well, I went to a great revival meeting & went forward & do you know what? God came & instantaneously took away all my childish ways in a heart-beat?”

No. What did Paul say? He said, -When I became a man I put away childish things.-1 Cor.13:11

Paul is saying that as an act of his will, he put away from him the juvenile things that were holding him back.

Paul also tells us how he was able to deal with his day by day attitudes. But he didn’t say;--“You know, I had such a problem with my attitude, I didn’t know what I was going to do.” He didn’t say; “I was always miserable & constantly complaining about my accommodations, the food, and the beverages & really just about everything in my life. But, you know, one night in prayer, God just came into the room & touched me. And since that night, I’m just as contented as one of those old contented cows, anywhere God puts me.”? No! Paul didn’t say that.

What Paul said was;

……For I have LEARNED, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil.4:11

Paul didn’t get his sweet disposition in a miraculous manner. No Sir! He had to cultivate it. He had to learn it. Have you seen these spiritual babies that are waiting for God to work a miracle & transform them from a miserable Christian to a happy camper? God isn’t going to do for us what, through prayer, study of His word, & bringing our flesh into subjection, we should be doing for ourselves.


In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel anointed Saul & gave him instructions to kill all the Amalekites. While God doesn’t need me to come to His defense, there was a reason for this seemingly cruel order to be given. These folk, a nomadic race & descendants of Esau, were the mortal enemies of the Israelites. This was the people who attacked Israel in the famous battle when Aaron & Hur had to hold up Moses’ arms. God had already told Moses he would utterly blot out the memory of these people from under heaven.

The bloody Amalekites were one of the reasons the Israelites disobeyed God & balked at entering the Promised Land. God’s anger burned against these people because they hated Him & detested Israel. In short, the Amalekites were very bad people & Saul was to be God’s instrument to execute judgment on them.

As we know, Saul didn’t obey the clear command of God & motivated by covetousness he kept all their best possessions & actually spared their king, king Agag. Maybe Saul’s pride led him to want a “king on a string.”

The disobedience by Saul was so serious to God that He sent Samuel to tell him God was taking the throne of Israel from him & his descendants forever. We don’t usually think of Samuel, that great prophet of God who was called as a youngster under the tutelage of Eli, as a harsh & vindictive man.

But what Samuel later did about this miscarriage of God’s justice is shocking. He coolly said,

“Bring me Agag!” Agag thought he was safe & came to Samuel & cheerfully told him he was glad the threat of death had passed.

Obviously Samuel wasn’t amused. Do you know what Samuel did then? He took a sword & cut Agag to pieces. 1 Sam.15:32-33.

This might seem cruel & merciless, but let there be no mistake; this was an act of divine judgment to show the holy wrath of an indignant God against a cruel & incorrigible people.

For proof, you only have to go to the end of the book of 1 Samuel not long afterwards, to see the reinvigorated fragments of the Amalekites were still running around the countryside, eating, drinking & pillaging & still causing trouble for Israel. It was they who raided David’s town Ziklag & took his family captive. David caught up with them & got his family back, fighting them all night long into the next morning killing all but four hundred of them.

I can’t think of a more perfect illustration of what sin can & will do if not dealt with harshly. Like the Amalekites, sin if not mortified has a way of reviving, regrouping & launching new & unexpected attacks at the worst times & in the most unexpected ways.

Let’s be real here; living a pure life is difficult today & sexual temptation is one of the strongest. Did Jesus talk about that? Yes He did & He gave us three ways to break the power of sin in our lives.


In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus said;

Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, “Thou shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a women to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus is saying that looking at someone lustfully is just as detrimental to our heart & soul as if we had physically committed adultery. If you allowed contempt & hate to build up in your heart against a person it would create a barrier between you even if you never acted on those feelings. Likewise, having lustful thoughts hurts us spiritually if we never act on them because seeing someone as a sexual object builds the wrong feelings & motivations. We realize that thoughts precede actions & thinking about something paves the way to acting it out.

Look away, divert your eyes. Looking refers to one who continues to look with deliberate intent. We can’t live in a world without visual temptations but we don’t have to stare. We can always get up & leave a theater. We can put a book aside & not finish it. Even though we rented a movie, if it gets weird we don’t have to watch it.

If you go on a diet the last place you need to go is to the Dairy Queen or Wendy’s. If you’re counting calories the last thing you need is to go somewhere they have luscious pictures of Lobster Primavera on the menu. Then Jesus said;


If your eye or hand offends, put them away from you. Now we know Jesus isn’t actually speaking of mutilation here, He’s speaking figuratively. What He’s saying is whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it.

I’ve heard of good honorable people who can’t have a computer because of the temptation to log onto a porn channel. Not having a computer prevents them from communication with relatives, checking their bank accounts, checking news stories, driving directions to different locations, purchasing things conveniently, using the spiritual materials that are available online, knowing what’s happening to ministries around the world, & a multitude of other good things. But they can’t trust themselves to have those conveniences because it could open a door for a temptation they feel might be their spiritual downfall.

There are others who can’t have cable T.V because they don’t trust their ability to change the channel. Some people won’t listen to certain kinds of music & even terminate romantic relationships that are leading them into tempting situations.

There are people who haven’t had a drink for years & won’t go places where alcohol is served because it’s a temptation they don’t want to have to deal with. We might look at these folk critically but the bottom line is; whether it’s canceling AOL, having cable television disconnected, transferring to another department at work, whatever is necessary to keep out of a situation that causes temptation to sin, it’s wise to cut it out. It’s better to go dateless, have no television, not get a promotion & forego the knowledge the Internet could supply than to be trapped in sin.


David said; Create in me a pure heart O God….Psalm 51:10

I realize that temptation is a matter of the heart not just our surroundings & certainly our heart must be dealt with but in the case of many people, they feel by eliminating certain sources of temptation they get along better & give themselves the opportunity to focus on the real issues, the state of their heart.

God wants to purify our hearts so that dating isn’t a problem, surfing the Internet isn’t a problem or working with an attractive member of the opposite sex isn’t a problem. But we have to do our part. In order to be victorious, we’ve got to eliminate certain distractions, learn to look away from temptations, learn to avoid sinful situations, & learn to focus on the work he wants to do in us.

Please understand the Christian life isn’t a cut & dried proposition, a life that we live in our own strength. While It’s true that we can never abandon our responsibility to mortify our own sin, as Christians, God’s Spirit is always with us working in us, both to will & to of His good pleasure. Phil.2:13. If we have a desire to do right in the first place, it’s God’s spirit that has come along side us to give us that desire.

In a very real sense, it’s as simple as this; “Walk in the Spirit & you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Gal.5:16.

Let us therefore cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh & spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. -- 2 Cor.7:1

“When we all get to heaven” we’ll be rid of the flesh, but like the Amalekites, until totally eradicated, sin can always come screaming back with hellish fury when least expected.

Paul said, -But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Cor.9:27.

We might as well accept the fact that we have a stalker named sin & it’s our duty, with the daily faithful assistance of the Holy Spirit, to mortify it, until we rest in gloryland.