by Norm Miller
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” James 1.2.
Isn’t that how we secretly react to this verse?
Who counts it all joy to stare down cancer, deal with a recalcitrant teen, or work for an over-bearing boss? I’m not sure who truly does, but I know who should – all God’s children. The context of the verse says a joyous reaction to troubles tests our faith, produces endurance and brings us — God’s children — to maturity in Christ.
The verse is as interesting as it is challenging. The word translated consider is a verb meaning — do it now and once for all; so, there’s no room to decide when we’ll be joyful or which trials we’ll endure joyfully. Just make up your mind now to be joyful always, come what may, rain or shine.
The word encounter means, literally, to fall into, just as the man who fell among the thieves in Luke 10.30. As the thieves sought to rob the man, so do trials and tribulations attempt to steal the joy we have determined to express in the face of such theft.
The word translated various has a connection to the Old Testament word that describes Joseph’s many-colored coat. Have you ever thought of trials as being multi-colored? Well, have you ever been blue with sadness? Ever been green with envy? So mad you saw purple? What about the yellow trials of cowardice when trying to witness for Christ? The black of guilty sin?
“What can wash away my sin? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Now there’s a color that was spilt in the trial, endured the trial and conquered the trial. And it is still powerful today, the red blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from sin and brings joy.
Text: Eph. 4:6,13
And as I entered into it I thought of my own life as a student. When I went to Baylor University I was seventeen years of age and a young minister. When I went to the university every afternoon I took my Bible and I visited those slums between the school and the Brazos River. All up and down that Brazos River were slums. I would knock at the door, knock at the door, and I would introduce myself with a Bible in my hand. And I would say my name and that I am a Christian. “Are you Christians here?” And if they said “Yes,” I would say, “May I come in and pray with you and read the Bible with you?” If they would say, “No. We’re not Christians here,” I would say, “May I come in and show you how to be saved, how to go to heaven and how to have Jesus in your heart and home?” I did that the years I was at Baylor every afternoon in those slums from house to house.
Submitted by Dr. Brad Whitt, pastor
Abilene Baptist ChurchAugusta, Ga
Yesterday, I went to preach knowing that I didn’t feel well. I’d been fighting a cold for several days, but knew that it was definitely getting worse. I was starting to cough more and grow weak. (I made note of it from the pulpit and explained that I wouldn’t be shaking any hands that morning because I didn’t want to take a chance on making anybody sick.)
I preached the first service and my iPad had a “hiccup” about half way through the message. Thankfully, our A/V guys had put a paper copy of my message in the pulpit like I had asked them one time nearly two years ago.
There were a few folks who came to pray at the altar, but no other decisions. I rested during the Sunday School hour, but was definitely feeling worse. I started preaching the second hour, and I could tell that my voice was getting even more hoarse. Oh, and my iPad crashed again. But, when the invitation was extended, three people prayed to trust Christ and three more came to join the church. His strength was definitely made perfect through my weakness.
This week, in Dr. Brad Whitt’s “Mondays are for Ministry” video, he discusses both the pastoral sensitivity and spiritual discernment needed in determining when a child is ready to profess faith in Jesus Christ.
To see the 4-minute video, click HERE.
Dr. Whitt is pastor of the Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.
by Walker Moore
Awe Star Ministies
The older I get, the more my conversations with friends seem to center around our hopes and dreams. Hope and dreams go hand-in-hand in this walk called life. Dreams are a place we want to take our hearts, and hopes are the driving winds that lift us up to those lofty goals. When the two come together, we have ourselves a journey.
One day, you’ll wake up and realize your journey is nearing an end. The sand in your hourglass is quickly running out. I’m beginning to realize Bette Davis was right when she said, “Old age is no place for sissies.” Eventually, we realize we won’t get everything done that we had hoped and dreamed of when we were younger. But that’s all right. I would rather die with a dream still unfulfilled than run out of dreams before I run out of life.
I’m not going to get the mansion with the commercial kitchen that my sweet wife has always wanted and, more than that, deserves. I won’t be like my peers who retire early and spend a year on a private yacht going from island to island. (Actually, I don’t have friends like that. They’re all poor like me.) I like where I am, in the midst of battles for the lives of students, and I’m praying I can stay there as long as I can. I would still like to get my wife a commercial kitchen, even if it comes inside a pop-up camper. But there are some things I would still like to accomplish, so you might say I have a mini- bucket list. Here it is:
1. I would like to spend an hour with Chuck Norris. He doesn’t know it, but his television show, Walker, Texas Ranger, has been a great asset to my life as a missionary. Ten Years ago, I went to work in the village of Maje in the jungle of Panama where the Choco people live. After the boat ride upstream, the people stood on the banks waiting for me. As I climbed up the hill, the interpreter introduced me. When he mentioned my first name, the tribe broke out in chatter.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
The interpreter told me, “They want to know if you’re Walker, Texas Ranger.”
“How do they know about Walker, Texas Ranger?” I asked. This village, a primitive place, has no electricity or running water. But the chief took me back to his hut. In the corner was a tiny TV set connected to a car battery and a crude antenna.
Once a week, the villagers come to the chief’s hut to watch Walker, Texas Ranger. And that’s just one of the many stories of how my name has been connected to that TV show. In some countries, the people just call me “Walkertexasranger” as one long word. I would like to share with Mr. Norris how God has used that show for His glory.
2. I would like to live long enough to take my grandson, Titus, on his rite of passage mission trip. I’ve taken thousands of other students on this journey, but the one person I want to live long enough to take is Titus. I can imagine us serving Jesus together for a season: the setting sun walking hand-in-hand with the rising sun, as the work of the Lord passes from one to the other.
3. I would like to see my Baptist Messenger articles become a series of devotionals. I started writing this column on March 5, 1998. That was 5,720 days or 15 years, 7months and 27 days or 817 articles ago. These articles address timeless issues with biblical direction along with a tad bit of humor. They could be passed down from generation to generation, right along with Great-Grandma’s suitcase-sized family Bible—the one that contains a life-size foldout picture of Jesus.
4. I would like to go home. Of course, this world is not my home. If we get caught up in thinking it is, we miss the whole point. Jesus-followers live and act in eternity, not in the present. We must consider how we serve in the context of eternity, how we use our money is in the context of eternity and how we marry in the context of eternity. If we live with eternity in mind, we will have hopes and dreams that matter.
Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).
I may not finish my bucket list, but I’ll settle for completing the last item. As I round the corner, I’m keeping my eyes on home.