In the Valley

In the Valley.


There are those times in our Christian walk when we need a “hug from Heaven.”  These are those scenarios when only one set of footprints are in the sand.  May you be encouraged as you read this article on being in the Valley of discouragement.


The Ultimate Prodigal!

Man Bible Pick-up_cropI cannot begin to comprehend the distraught a man must sense when he first discovers that his son has become involved in a homosexual life style.  For a Dad who loves the Lord and believes in the Bible this has got to be a most devastating realization.  Painful emotions most assuredly must grip his heart; hurt, anger, disbelief and even guilt.  How much more is the disbelief when it is the mans first born son, his heir, his pride and joy?

The seems to be a special bond between a man and his son.  A camaraderie of sorts that women often share with their little girls.  Anticipation of having him grow up, play sports, find a good wife and bring forth the next generation are a few of the many visions a Dad has for his male child.   There is often that noticeable pride in the voice as a man shares the accomplishments of his budding protegé so to speak; let alone the way his chest seems to expand as he talks (boasts).  This scenario is shattered, literally destroyed when the Dad discovers that his son practices sodomy.

There is a problem with the term homosexuality.    A murderer is a murderer and a homosexual is a homosexual.  Both are lifestyles that people choose to follow, and both are sinful practices.  No one is born a murderer and no one is born with a genetic make up for being a homosexual.   It would be similar to having a horse born with a pig head.  It just does not happen.  God intended for a man to be a man in every sense of the being.

So where does a Dad go from here?  He love for his son is so great that he wishes he could just erase the sin and get on with life.   Some Dad’s have literally disowned their misfit of an offspring, perhaps to salvage their male pride.  God fearing men have not been exempt from this life trauma and even Bible preaching Pastors have had to deal with a son who chose to participate in a homosexual relationship.  The struggle within the souls of these men must be agonizing to say the least.

We know from the Bible that God hates sin.  The sinful practice of sodomy is especially an abomination to the most Holy God.  The practice is totally unnatural.  The Lord Jesus has set forth the example that we are to hate the sin but love the sinner.  It is ok for a Dad to continue to love his son who is involved in a homosexual life.  God commanded his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners……………..Regardless of the sin, God continues to love the sinner.  Understandably God cannot ‘look upon’ the sin, nor condone it, nor make excuses for the practice of the sin, and neither should the Dad involved in the same type of situation.  Oftentimes God allows harsh circumstances to evolve in ones life to bring them to himself, thereby setting the example for Dad’s to follow.   This is like ‘tough love’.  When a Dad learns of his son’s homosexual practices, he needs to prayerfully consider initiating specific guidelines or restrictions for the expressed purpose of guiding his son toward repentance.

Men who love the Lord usually keep an open door of communication with their son to reassure him that he is still loved.   The son could be included in family gatherings but the ‘friend’ is not.  Just as God cannot tolerate sin in his house,  the wayward son should not live at home, nor should the parents provide financial assistance that would sustain a homosexual relationship.  It is imperative that the Dad seek wisdom from the Lord and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in dealing with his son.   The Lord gave the example of a man being won to the saving knowledge of Jesus by the Godly example of the wife and so much more so the example of the Dad to the son.  Oftentimes, verbal witnessing or admonishing will fall on deaf ears and create unnecessary tension.  Some things can only come about by fasting and prayer, with a Godly example.

For those of us who have not been subject to this particular trial in our life, may we ever be mindful to lift these Dad’s before the throne of grace, that they might one day rejoice in the repentance of their prodigal son.

Nicodemus – Searching for Answers

Nicodemus190x239My mental picture of Nicodemus depicted this leader of the Jewish people as a relatively short man with a muscular build.  He seemed to me to be a man up in years,  educated with a caring countenance.  The photo at the right could be more in tune to his true physical appearance, but irregardless, it is his spiritual nature on which we must focus.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, we are introduced to Nicodemus.  John tells us that he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court in Israel.  In addition to being learned in the Old Testament Scripture, Nicodemus  possessed a wise inquiring mind and was not satisfied with the legalism of the Pharisees.  He could not rest until he found the truth which he badly wanted to understand.  Although he seem to be a courageous man, Nicodemus personally sought out Jesus during the night.  Perhaps he discerned that he would have a greater opportunity in talking with Jesus alone while others slept or as some scholars believe, he was fearful of being seen by the Jewish brethren.

The Lord welcomed Nicodemus and understood that he came to him not as a ruler to discuss the affairs of State, but as a man concerned about his soul.  Jesus immediately began to share with him the necessity of being born again.  Even though he misunderstood what Jesus was teaching, Nicodemus acknowledged his ignorance, which showed the Lord his desire to be better informed.  Needless to say, our New Testament friend was somewhat perplexed.  How could a man be born again when he was old?  The Lord went on to explain the two births, the physical and the spiritual, emphasizing once again that man needed to be born again in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  How can these things be, asked the inquisitive Nicodemus?

In His wisdom, Jesus referred Nicodemus to the Old Testament account of the Serpent in the Wilderness, whereby giving him insight into the scriptures of which Nicodemus was much aware.   In comparing himself to the serpent in the wilderness, Christ was able to help this seeker of the truth to understand that only by looking unto Jesus, could a man be saved from the sting of spiritual death; separation from God, for eternity.  Jesus went on to comment that as man believeth on the saving power of the serpent to save him from physical death, man must now look unto Christ to be saved from Spiritual death.

The third chapter of the Book of John reveals these truths to man today.  Mans inability to understand what Jesus is saying is indicative of a fallen, sinful heart and has nothing to do with ones level of intelligence.    Even as Nicodemus knew the Scriptures quite well, we must realize as he did that knowing the Bible is not enough; one must believe in the Living Word. the Lord Jesus Christ.  John 1:1.

Although the scripture does not specifically state that Nicodemus believed in Jesus, we do know that his life indicated that a regeneration had taken place within his heart.  We learn in John 7: 50-53 that much to the frustration of his fellow Pharisees, Nicodemus defended Christ when he was being judged unfairly according to Jewish Law.    After his death, it was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who cared for the body of our Saviour, disregarding their own safety and reputation.   The anointing spices for the Lords body were provided mainly by Nicodemus, some 75#’s of myrrh.

In studying the Biblical biography of Nicodemus, one must admit that it is clear that once a person does accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior, old things do pass away; all things do become new.  My friend, as you consider this man’s life, let me encourage you to become a seeker of the truth.  The Holy Spirit of God will open your eyes that the god of this world (Satan) has blinded that you will be able to understand as Nicodemus did; you need but ask.  Let me close with that most precious verse:  John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in His name shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

A Tribute to Phyllis

220px-Shetland_Sheepdog_600Totally unexpected; how many times has this expression been used  in reference to the sudden death of a family member or friend.  Such is the case of Phyllis, a Christian, Mother, friend and neighbor.  The personal sadness incurred with her passing cannot compete with the overwhelming joy of knowing that ‘we’ will see her again.  In the meantime, the memories of our life with her will bring us joy, laughter and comfort.  She was a good friend, a true sister-in-the-Lord.

Phyllis left behind  her beloved companions “Sparky” and “Cali”.  Her pets brought her great pleasure and happiness.  We would sit and laugh at the antics of Cali, the cat, attacking Sparky, her beautiful  playful dog.  Most everyday, when the weather was appropriate, Phyllis would take Sparky out to play ball.  I would sometimes open the window and talk to ‘Sparky’ watching him wag his tail gleefully at the sound of my voice. She shared her beloved pets with the rest of the ‘Four Musketeers’ and we a grateful for the memories.  Sadly, not all of her neighbors appreciated Sparky and Cali, and their unkind words troubled Phyllis, piercing her heart.

In addition to her pets, Phyllis had a love for the out-of-doors and God’s Creation.  During the summer months she could be seen outside tending to the flowers and landscaping around the apartment complex.  She single-handedly cleared all the overgrowth, weeds and trash and made it a most appealing sight to gaze upon.  This was one example of her penchant for serving others.

Thelma, our 92-year-old resident ‘granny’ was blessed by the caring attentiveness of her friend, Phyllis.  On many, many occasions, Phyllis would chauffeur Thelma to the Doctor, the grocery or even just out to eat.  There was not a day that went by the she did not check in on her elderly friend.  We were quite often convicted by the compassion and consideration which Phyllis exhibited in her life.   You see, Phyllis did not do these things to make herself look good, or for monetary gain,  she did them because it was the right thing to do.

You see, Phyllis was not an ordinary lady.  She was a blood bought born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Of her own admission, there was a time in her life that she realized that she was a sinner on her way to hell.  She believed that the Bible, the inspired, infallible Word of God stated in Romans 3:23 ‘That all had sinned and come short of the glory of God.’  Furthermore she accepted the truth of Romans 6:23 ‘That the wages of sin is death (spiritual separation from God) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.   At that particular moment, Phyllis called upon Jesus to forgive her sins and to save her; and she was gloriously and wonderfully saved.  She knew that when she died that she would go to heaven to be with Jesus, and there, my friend is where she is this very moment.

God began a new work in her, and Phyllis willingly sought to serve the Lord.  She was faithful in reading her Bible, praying and attending her church.  She thoroughly enjoyed sharing Jesus with the other members of the Four Musketeers, Nancy, Deb, and Diann;  her Sisters-in-the-Lord.  What great times of fellowship we had studying God’s Word together.  These memories will last for eternity.

You see, my friend, we will see Phyllis again!  Whether is be by death or by rapture, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we die, we will spend eternity in heaven.  This is not because we have lived such a sinless life or have performed an enormous amount of good deeds; it is because we, like Phyllis, realized that we were sinners on our way to hell; that Jesus shed his innocent blood on the Cross of Calvary, and that he died to give us the gift of eternal life.  We cannot work our way to heaven by going to church, giving money to the poor or any other human attempt at achieving a home in heaven.  It can only come by believing on the name of the Lord Jesus.  Romans 10:13  Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; because   John 3:16  For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  We will see Phyllis again,  Will you?

FYI:  Photo is a facsimile of Sparky