Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone Madness!

Today is the day millions of "cell phone junkies" have been waiting for. Apple released the much anticipated iPhone for use on the AT&T wireless network.

Prices for this cutting-edge gadget begin in the $500-$600 range with a two year service agreement, and monthly service plans for the iPhone are significantly higher than with other devices. For many avid "gadget geeks," price is not an object. Click the link below to watch an interview with a gentleman from New York City who waited in line by himself for four days in order to score the first iPhone.

The Bible says...

Buy the truth and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
Proverbs 23:23, ESV

The truth is more precious than any accumulation of gadgets. It is of more value than any amount of money, fame, power, or popularity. Being what Jesus called, "the pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:45-46), it is infinitely and eternally more valuable than anything and everything the world has to offer aggregately.

To what lengths will you go to acquire and firmly take hold on the truth that sets man free (John 8:32)?


Thursday, June 28, 2007

What Christ Means To Us

To billions of men and women around the world, he was just another man. Some say an extraordinarily wise moral teacher, but still just a man after all. The Bible says...
He [God] is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV

If, then, you will allow him to be, Jesus will be:
  • Wisdom for your mind
  • Righteousness for your heart
  • Sanctification for your service
  • Redemption for your victory


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What Good Will It Do?

Over a five day span in June of 2006, visitors to a popular faith-based website were asked to participate in a survey. 10,567 individuals answered questions dealing with the subject of hell. One of the survey questions was, "Do you believe in hell?". 76 percent of the more than 10,000 individuals responded with a "no." Keep in mind the fact that this website is visited primarily by those who profess to be Christians.

Is this an accurate sampling? Do three-quarters of those who profess Christianity really believe there is no such place as a literal hell? Speaking from personal experience, I would say the number is at least that high.

Understandably, it is human nature to avoid sad and frightening subjects. However, there is great wisdom in addressing such subjects -- especially when doing so will prevent an individual or many individuals from experiencing pain and suffering.

For example, one of the last statements anyone wants to hear is, "You have cancer," but would a patient really be wise in plugging his ears and denying the very existence of the disease? Much the same way, will denying the reality of hell benefit me in some way? To the contrary.

If the calculations I have seen are correct, the inspired record shows that Jesus preached on the subject of hell three times more often than he did on the subject of heaven. Granted, just because one subject is addressed more than another in Scripture does not mean it is more important. More than one of my denominationally minded friends have brought that up in discussion as proof that belief is somehow more importance than obedience. That being said, it is interesting that Jesus spent significantly more time on the subject of hell. Why might that be the case?

Jesus says his earthly purpose was to "seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). With so much of his time dedicated to declaring the devastatingly real nature of hell, it is clear that a significant aspect of "seeking and saving" involved educating the finite human mind about an infinite, eternal separation from God in torment and destruction.

76 percent notwithstanding, Jesus taught there is indeed a hell by:
  1. Direct Statements (Matthew 10:28; 23:33)

  2. Powerful Allusions (Mark 9:43)

  3. Historical Reference (Luke 16:19-31)

Friend, what good will it do to stare an angry charging bull in the face, declaring all the while that angry charging bulls do not exist?


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Unfeigned Faith

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that is in thee also.
2 Timothy 1:5, KJV

Most English-speaking Americans do not utilize the term "unfeigned" on a regular basis. We might be more inclined to say, "sincere," as the English Standard Version so translates. Obviously, this sincere faith is a very commendable attribute; it is something to be desired by the people of God today. Here is just a handful of items entailed in this idea of sincere faith:

  1. A firm stand for righteousness (Ephesians 6:13-18)
  2. A life that triumphs over sin (1 John 5:4)
  3. A heart indwelled by Christ (Ephesians 3:17)
  4. A life growing in spiritual attainments (2 Peter 3:18)
  5. A consistent walk of good report (Hebrews 11:1-2)
  6. A life lived to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

I am thankful for you who live "sincere faith."


Friday, June 22, 2007

One Weak Valve Equals One Big Mess

Those who know me at least somewhat well are well aware of the fact that I am one of the most squeamish of all the people who have ever walked the face of this planet. It's not only the sight of blood or an injury that will cause me to squirm and feel ill. Often just hearing about it will cause me to be weak in the knees! I've always said it's a good thing I had no aspirations to work in the medical field, for my dreams would have been dashed early on.

I struggled mightily in my science classes in which I was responsible for dissecting everything from a cow's eye (yuck!), to a frog (ugh!), to a fetal pig (ahhhh!), to a cat (excuse me for a moment........). Don't bother sending me emails making fun of my wimpiness, for I acknowledge it in full.

I'm glad I was sitting down this morning when I read a story about a certain tanker truck spill in the Pacific Northwest. This past Wednesday, the truck -- carrying 4,000 pounds of pig blood -- spilled all its contents on a roadway in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Zoikes!! Biohazard teams were sent to clean up the scene caused by a broken valve on the tanker truck.

Here are the numbers:

4,000 pounds pig blood
200 feet of roadway
1 tanker truck
1 broken valve on said tanker truck

That tanker truck was only as strong as its weakest link, and its weakest link happened to be exceptionally weak! The church of God is a living organism, made up of all sorts of individuals. At any point in time -- past, present, or future -- that number will always include those who are experiencing a spell of weak faith.

How are we to treat these brothers and sisters?
"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all."
1 Thessalonians 5:14, ESV
If my counting is correct, this divine directive includes four verbs -- four terms of action God prescribes for our dealings with a weak brother or sister.
  1. Admonish
  2. Encourage
  3. Help
  4. Be patient

So friend, while holding fast to and being uncompromising with the doctrine of Christ, take care to admonish, encourage, help, and be patient with our weak brethren. When your own weaker times come, you will need the same!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Shades Of Jehoiakim In Chattanooga

Richard McCoy may not even know it, but he was virtually reenacting a scene from the book of Jeremiah.

Chattanooga fire officials say McCoy used pages from a copy of the Bible in his Best Western motel room to kindle several small fires. He even disconnected his room's smoke alarm to delay detection, thereby greatly endangering other guests.

Thankfully, no one was injured as a result of the "Biblical blazes," but McCoy was arrested and charged with counts of aggravated arson and vandalism.

When I first came across this strange story, the first thought that came to mind was the account of King Jehoiakim. In the 36th chapter of Jeremiah's prophecy to Judah, the childishly stubborn acts of this king are recorded for all to read; and, although Mr. McCoy may or may not have shared this king's motivation, his strange antics help us recall the actions of a foolish leader.

Jehoiakim's hard heart compelled him to reject the very word of the Lord that was intended to mercifully warn Judah of impending disaster. His worldly wisdom deceived him into believing the burning of one scroll could prevent God's will from coming to pass. From observing the teaching and behavior of many in our own time (including many religious types), Satan still has the masses duped and deceived into believing that human effort can somehow thwart or alter the plans of the Almighty.

May we always hold God's word in utmost reverence.

"So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Jeremiah 55:11, ESV

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Now THAT Is What I Call A Will To Live!

It was September 1914, and three of the Royal Navy's armored cruisers -- the HMS Cressy, Aboukir, and Hogue (pictured at right) -- were on patrol off the Dutch coast.

None of these three British behemoths were zig-zagging (as sound naval practice dictates), and their water-tight doors all hung open. They were oblivious to the danger that was lurking nearby.

The crew of German submarine crew U-9 could not believe their luck. In less than an hour, the German "U-boat" had torpedoed all three ships, sinking them one after one. This event marked what most consider to be one of the worst naval defeats (or greatest naval victories, depending which side you were on) of all time.

The most amazing part of this story, however, are the experiences of 15-year-old Kit Wykeham Musgrave. He went overboard when the Aboukir was going down as a result of the first torpedo. He swam like mad to escape the immensely powerful suction as the ship sank into the deep. Just as he was getting onboard the Hogue, she was torpedoed. After abandoning that ship, he swam to the Cressy which, a short time later, was also torpedoed. All

The list of men who can lay claim to being blown off three ships in the same day while living to tell about it is rather short -- comprised of just his name, as best we can tell! Kit Wykeham Musgrave was a young man of only 15 years who had an intense desire to live. His is a wonderful story of perseverance.

Have you ever felt like Satan's "darts" are more like heat-seeking missiles -- almost following you wherever you go? Listen to the words the Lord relayed to some Christians in the first century:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58, ESV

How strong is your desire to live in eternity?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Unchanging Jesus

The Bible says...

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Hebrews 13:8, ESV

The book of Hebrews portrays the majestic Christ in the past, present, and future tenses:

  1. Past -- Yesterday -- lower than the angels for a while (Hebrews 2:7a)

  2. Present -- Today -- crowned with glory and honor; all things in subjection to Him (Hebrews 2:7b, 8a)

  3. Future -- Forever -- all things under his feet (Hebrews 2:8b)

Aren't you thankful we have the opportunity to serve a God who is faithful instead of fickle? His character, plans, and blessings are invariably right, just, full of love, and full of mercy. He is worthy of our praise and adoration -- our utmost devotion and service. This day, tell someone who needs to know.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paris Hilton Update!!

"You must be kidding," you say? Well yes, actually, I am. Truthfully though, if we wanted give a real boost to the Food For Thought ratings, it would be a great idea to reserve ample space for daily -- maybe even hourly -- updates on Paris Hilton. You know -- fascinating stuff such as what she ate for breakfast, how much she paid at the pump on Rodeo Drive, and other fascinating bits of information we simply must know.

Four months ago, our airwaves and front pages were saturated with minute-by-minute updates of Britney Spears' latest hair-do, and constant updates on the Anna Nicole Smith case. I wrote an edition of Food For Thought in February dealing with our world's obsession with celebrity gossip, and since the Paris Hilton saga is making the Spears & Smith cases look like they were virtually ignored by the media, I thought it might be beneficial to consider some of these thoughts again.

As best I can tell, the culture in the United States has lent itself to an extreme celebrity obsession for many generations now. Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dimaggio, and others from previous generations were all idolized by a significant portion of the public. However, recent generations have accelerated celebrity infatuation to soaring new levels. The populace wants to know as much as possible as quickly as possible and as often as possible about their favorite actors, sports stars, and musicians. What is even more amazing about this culture's obsession is that more and more people are famous for nothing more than being famous.

Think quick...why is Paris Hilton famous? Sure, she has appeared in films and on television programs. That is not how she became famous, though. She is a celebrity because of her fame. Huh?? To put it simply, publicity stunt after publicity stunt has kept her in the limelight -- the latest being her incarceration. You have to give Ms. Hilton and her publicist credit for how well it is working, though. Or should we give credit to the tens of millions who are duped into thinking this whole thing is something other than a "real-life," one-woman soap opera with all the convincingness of a pro wrestling match?

It used to be the case that those of us who wished to ignore such "junk food news" were required to do little more than pass tabloid publications by at the grocery store check-out line. However, today's mainstream media is filling our pages and airwaves with less real news and more frivolous scandal and innuendo. The "pornification of America" (as Laura Ingram has coined it) is being augmented by news outlets that we once relied on for actual news! When we get in the car and turn on the local news radio station and hear 20 or 30 minutes of every hour devoted to Paris Hilton, there is something severely wrong.

Okay, so what (if anything) does the Bible teach in connection with these matters?

"They learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not."
1 Timothy 5:13, ESV

Bearing in mind the context in which these words were written (instructions to the church about widows), there is a principle here that most certainly applies to the situation at hand. Does anyone actually believe God is glorified or pleased when we go about contributing to the longevity of celebrity gossip? Does righteous character include gossipping about someone, regardless of whether we know them personally or not?

As we have already noted, more than a few celebrities have been known to manufacture scandals (many of which, by the way, involve gross immorality) to "jump-start" fledgling careers. Regardless of the situation, Christian character demands out abstinence from perpetuating gossip and profitless trifles.

The truth of the matter is, we have too much honest and productive work available to involve ourselves with idle talk. If I find myself with enough time to know what flavor cream cheese Paris Hilton had on her bagel yesterday morning, it may very well be the case that I have become an "idler" (see verse above). God expects us to be good stewards of the resources He has given us -- including time.
"Let none of you suffer as a murder or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler."
1 Peter 4:15, ESV

Friday, June 8, 2007

I've Heard Of Wolves In Sheep's Clothing, But This...

Most students of the Bible are well acquainted with Jesus' words regarding wolves in sheep's clothing (see Matthew 7:15-20), but have you ever heard of pigs in tigers' clothing? I didn't think so.

Well, prepare to be amazed. Inset at right is a photo taken at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand (near Bangkok). These photos have been used in an email hoax to go along with a fabricated story about a mother tiger whose prematurely born tiger cubs all died after birth.

According to the ficticious tale (which is passed off as genuine, by the way), the keepers at a zoo in California (they didn't even use the real location) were trying to save the life of this mother tiger who went into deep depression after the death of her cubs. When they were unable to find any orphan tiger cubs, in desperation they wrapped piglets in tiger skins and encouraged her to nurse these little pigs in tigers' clothing.

As already noted, this is an inaccurate account of what the photo actually portrays. The zoo in Thailand where these animals truthfully reside is known for "creating successful relationships with animals of different species." Since this facility may more accurately be described as part zoo, part circus, these relationships are strictly for entertainment value. This same attraction features basketball playing elephants.

By the way, the mother tiger was herself nursed by a pig as an infant. This explains very well why she views pigs as family instead of prey -- companions instead of pork chops!!

Now friends, if a tiger and five helpless little piglets can live peaceably in the same envirnonment, surely so can we! The Bible says...

"If possible, so far as depends on you, live peaceably with all."
Romans 12:18, ESV
A wise person once said, "Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it." If you have lived on this planet for more than five minutes, you are well aware that conflict will arise even amongst the best of friends. God is looking for peacemakers. Those who cope with conflict in a Godly manner are the true peacemakers, and the Bible says they are the ones who shall be called "sons of God" (see Matthew 5:9).


Friday, June 1, 2007

A League Of Their Own

For the benefit of those of you who may be new to Food For Thought, we have a standing tradition on Fridays. We look through the headlines to find some bit of wacky, amazing, or completely off-the-wall story that will help illustrate a spiritual principle.

Today's amazing story comes to us from Baldwin Harbor, New York. Here's the story as told by Carl Macgowan of

That wasn't Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens on the mound Wednesday at Baldwin Park. And the hurler wasn't trying to strike out ageless Mets infielder Julio Franco.

The Yankees and Mets veterans are mere rookies compared to Mickey Werner, 93, of Baldwin, and Paul Rotter, 86, of Woodmere, who faced one another Wednesday in a senior league softball game.

In fact, Werner is older than Clemens, 44, and Franco, 48, -- combined.

"Oldtimers game" took on new meaning when Werner's Mets took on Rotter's Dodgers. And the senior southpaws, the oldest players in the five-team Long Island Senior Softball Association, said they don't plan to retire anytime soon.

"Why should I?" Rotter said. "As long as I can play, I'll keep playing.

""Pitching is just swinging the arm and pushing the ball forward," said Werner, a retired New York City physical education teacher, who gave up one run in three innings in his club's 9-6 victory.

Rotter, a former special ed teacher, was the losing pitcher after allowing nine runs in six innings.

Werner drew a walk in his only at-bat against Rotter, and Rotter singled the only time he batted against Werner. Both were replaced on the basepaths by pinch runners.

The minimum age requirement to play in the senior softball association is 68. Innings are suspended when a team scores five times, and games last only seven innings.

League commissioner Joe Friedman, 71, of Oceanside, who plays for the Dodgers, said safety is a priority for the league. "If people don't feel physically fit, we ask them to get a doctor's note," he said.

Werner's daughter, Ellice Bekier, 59, of Valley Stream, said she only worries about her dad on hot, humid summer days. She watched Wednesday's game with evident pride.

"He's a kid at heart," she said of Werner. "How many people even have their fathers at 93?

"Werner's and Rotter's longevity amazes their teammates. Rotter pitched both ends of a doubleheader last week, said Dodgers manager Harry Schwarzkopf of Woodmere.

"He also pitches fast-pitch on Sunday," said Schwarzkopf, 76.

Dr. Craig Levitz, director of sports medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, said most of his patients are seniors. With minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, older athletes can stay on the playing field longer, Levitz said.

"One reason they're living longer is they're more active," he said. "The reason they're playing at that age is that they've been playing for 20 years" or more.

The Dodgers and Mets Wednesday looked as if they could keep playing for another 20 years.

"You don't get old from playing softball," said Dodgers player Arnie Raichek, 75, of Oceanside. "You get old from not playing softball."

Whether or not you are a sports fan is immaterial when it comes to a story like this. 96-year-old Mickey and 86-year-old Paul ought to serve as reminders of the great things our more "seasoned" folks can accomplish.

Certainly, some enjoy better health in old age than others. The ravages of time will eventually wear down even the most physically fit (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-8) - even fellows such as the incomparable Jack Lalane!

Still, the multitude of important work being done in God's kingdom by our older brothers and sisters is worthy of our noticing. It is so important for Christians who are "getting up in age" to stay as involved as they are able in the work of the church. Aside from the glory brought to God in the process of their good works (see Matthew 5:16), staying involved in kingdom labor provides valuable time for younger Christians with those who have garnered wisdom through the years.

The Bible says...

"The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness."
Proverbs 16:31, NKJV

"The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair."
Proverbs 20:29, ESV

To the younger thankful and take advantage of the wisdom that can be imparted by our older brethren.

To the older saints...the kingdom of God needs your abilities, even if that entails nothing more than mentoring the younger generations within the Lord's church. The wisdom you have collected through a life of righteousness is a splendor - yea, a crown of glory to be admired!