Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hot Water - February 21, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 21, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


The past few weeks have been a blur for me. The adage seems to hold true; when it rains, it pours. One day, while we were making almost daily trips back and forth to the hospital in Hot Springs, our hot water heater started leaking. Because I didn’t have time to replace the water heater immediately, I drained the tank so it wouldn’t leak, and we were without hot water for several days. As I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for the expense and inconvenience of having to replace our water heater, I realized that I was facing a first world problem.

I thought about my friends in Belize. When we visited them, the young couple and their son lived in a 64 square foot apartment with no hot water. Their water source was a cold water spigot outside the apartment. When my wife talked to a group of fifth-grade students in San Pedro, Belize, one of the questions they asked her was, “do you have a bathroom in your house in America?” She told them that she did, but was too embarrassed to tell them that our house has three bathrooms.

Even though being without hot water is a first world problem, after four days of going without hot water I was, ironically, in a bit of hot water. My wife very nicely wondered when I might be able to get the water heater installed. The next evening, we didn’t make the trip to the hospital in Hot Springs, but instead stayed home and installed the new water heater.

The expression to be in hot water, meaning to be in trouble, is a very old expression. It has been used for over five hundred years. One story says it got that meaning from the custom of throwing boiling water down on enemies attacking a castle, but most linguists are unsure of its origin. Most people no longer pour boiling water on their enemies, but we still get in hot water. When we are in hot water, we are in trouble.

I recently read that in England, during the Middle Ages, a suspected criminal was forced to put their arm in a cauldron of hot water up to the elbow. If the arm did not heal in a couple of days, they were found guilty. That sounds like as good an explanation as any of being in hot water. During the 1500’s a common phrase used to signify being in a troublesome situation was, “cost me hot water.” In 1537, Arthur Plantagenet wrote in a letter; “I can get no conserve dishes; howbeit, if they are to be had, I will have of them, or it shall cost me hot water.” And in 1593, in his historical play of Edward the First, G. Peele used the line, “it shall cost me hot water, but thou shalt be King Edward's man.”

In an ironic twist, there is a church mentioned in the Bible that was in hot water with Jesus because of being like lukewarm water. In Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT), In a letter to the church at Laodicea, Jesus said, "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"
Some Bible commentators have suggested that the metaphor of lukewarm water has been drawn from the water supply of the city. The nearby city of Hierapolis had hot springs, and the city of Colossae had cold, pure water. But archaeology shows that Laodicea had an aqueduct that probably carried water from hot mineral springs some five miles south, which would have become tepid before entering the city. In his book, Archaeology And The New Testament, John McRay writes, "Water piped into Laodicea by aqueduct from the south was so concentrated with minerals that the Roman engineers designed vents, capped by removable stones, so the aqueduct pipes could periodically be cleared of deposits."

The warm, sulfur water was probably nauseating to the taste and smell. By traveling only a few miles, the Laodicean residents had access both to healing hot waters in one direction and to refreshing cold waters in another direction. However, Laodiceans could also choose to partake only of the waters that flowed into their city. In that case, they drank lukewarm water that smelled bad and made them feel nauseated.

After getting their attention by telling the Laodiceans that “since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!" Jesus then explains why He described their spiritual condition as lukewarm. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have prospered and grown wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17 (AMP)

The church in Laodicea thought of itself as rich and in need of nothing. Many of the members may have been wealthy, but Jesus is talking about spiritual pride and arrogance. Jesus' message is the same for us. Many of us are neither spiritually hot nor deadly cold. We have become lukewarm like Laodicea, who was not only self-sufficient and distracted by worldly things, but also felt that their own efforts made them safe.

Gentle Reader, “it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8,9 (GNT) If you are lukewarm, Jesus says to you, “I correct and discipline those whom I love, so be serious and repent! Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.” Revelation 3:19,20 (ISV) Will you open the door?

When the Rain Comes - February 14, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 14, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


My dear Momma passed away February 7th. She had been battling pneumonia, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation for weeks. After spending her last few days struggling to breathe, she is now at rest. She can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ (NIV) Even though it has been a difficult time with lots of tears, I take comfort in the words found in ‭‭I Thessalonians‬ ‭4:13 (NKJV); “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”‬‬‬‬

As my family and I made arrangements and a multitude of phone calls, my mind went to an article that I had written a couple of years ago. I want to share it with you.

My normal routine on a work day is to go to Wal-Mart when I get off of work. I do my banking there and often pick up a few things for supper. A few days ago as I drove to Wal-Mart, it began to sprinkle. As I walked into the store, there was just the occasional drop of rain. After making my bank deposit, I began shopping. I had quite a few things on my shopping list that evening. While I was selecting produce to put in my buggy, a huge clap of thunder resonated throughout the store. A couple of people nearby visibly jumped.

After checking out, I headed toward the doors and saw that it was pouring outside. The rain was coming down in buckets, a real toad strangler. By the time I put the groceries in my little Rambler, I was completely drenched; soaked through to the skin. By the time I had carried the groceries into the house, I looked like a drowned rat.

I felt much better after I took a shower and put on dry clothes. In a bit of irony, that very evening a friend of mine sent me a YouTube video about a heavy rainfall. The description of the short film reads as follows. “This film was based on a true story (written by Bob Perks), and the premise of it is very simple. We are reminded of the need to avoid becoming weighed down by the trivial hindrances that soak our paths on a daily basis. There are always people in worse situations with real troubles, and that should put our small daily problems into perspective. Perhaps things aren’t as bad as they first seem.”


In the film, a group of people can be seen standing under a shelter, because of the heavy rain. A young girl asks her mother why they can’t just run through the rain, and her mother tells her that they would get soaked. But that’s when the young girl reminds her mother of something she had said that very morning. Talking about her husband’s battle with cancer she had said, “If we can get through this we can get through anything.” After thinking about her daughter’s question, the mother decides to run through the rain.

The young girl’s attitude reminds us that we can’t let such trivial things as rain hold us back. How we look at the problems we face in life is all a matter of perspective. Things may not be as bad as you think, and we have to remember that there are always people with far greater problems. It’s a simple but important life lesson, told so beautifully in this short film!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a very personal poem titled, “The Rainy Day.” The first lines of the poem read, “The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary.” He personalizes his thoughts in the second stanza, “My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.” But Longfellow doesn’t leave us in his dark place. The final stanza says, “Be still, sad heart! And cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Into every life, a little rain must fall. It’s what we do with the rain that makes the difference. Rain can be a force that destroys our lives and washes away hope, or it can become a tool God uses to bring healing, growth and new life to our hearts.

What are we afraid of when the rains of this life come our way? Are we afraid of getting wet? Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that we won’t get wet. Pain in all its forms is the common universal human denominator we all share. Your pain and difficulties are different than mine, but we all have them.

We see this concept in Matthew 5:45 (GW) where it says, “He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.” God doesn’t tell us that His children won’t have rainy days. He just says, “run through the rain, anyway. I will be there for you. You may get wet, but it will be OK.”

Gentle Reader, I know that God wants me to trust Him. He doesn’t want me to feel down when the rains come. Instead, I need to remember that God only has plans for me that are good. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) tells me, “’For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Even in my dark hour, I know that God has good plans for me, and I am “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13 (NKJV) When it rains, I do not need to be disappointed and feel alone. I have hope! “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 (NKJV)


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Long and Winding Road - February 7, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 7, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


In May of 1970, The Beatles released their final single, The Long and Winding Road. Paul McCartney has stated that he came up with the title "The Long and Winding Road" during one of his first visits to his property, High Park Farm, in Scotland. He was inspired by a winding road stretching up into the hills in the remote Highlands surrounded by lochs and mountains. 

This past week I have made numerous trips from Mena to Hot Springs to see my Mom in the hospital. As I was making the drive, I thought that Paul might have used that stretch of road for inspiration if he had ever driven in this part of Arkansas. It is a very winding road, and especially late at night, it seems very long. No matter which route I take to Hot Springs, the road is a long and winding road.

All of that time on the road gives me time to think. Sometimes the road before me seems long, steep and challenging. I feel lost, uncertain and afraid. Sometimes I'm not sure I have the strength for the journey. Perhaps just like me, you feel overwhelmed today. You may be experiencing some sadness, loss or worry. You may find that God has called you to a difficult path. "Surely," you think, "God has an easier road for me to travel."

It's in those times that God wants us to remember that we are not traveling this road alone. Psalms 46:1-3 (GNT) assures us that, “God is our shelter and strength; Always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the ocean depths; even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence.”

God knows where the road leads. He can see what lies ahead. God also knows my concerns. He knows what I feel. The pain I cannot explain to someone else. He knows about my fear of the unknown. In his book “A Sweet and Bitter Providence,” John Piper offers these thoughts about God’s guidance: “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.”

The truth is, we don’t have enough information to assume another path would be best for us. Maybe the easier road won't make us into the person God intends us to be. Perhaps the difficult road is protecting us from the worst. Out of all the possible paths, God knows the best path. The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9 (NCV) We can trust that the road God has laid out before us is the best road. We can trust in His wisdom and love, and we can be certain that God will never lead us down the wrong road.

Without God’s guidance, we will take the easiest road, but it will be the wrong road. In Matthew 7:13,14 (NIV) Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

When we are sure we are on the best and easiest road, sometimes God has to place an obstacle in our way. The story of Balaam’s donkey is a good example. Balaam had decided on an easy road but not the road God had laid out for him. “The angel of the Lord stood in the road to stop Balaam. Balaam was riding his donkey, and he had two servants with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a sword in his hand, the donkey left the road and went into the field. Balaam hit the donkey to force her back on the road." Numbers 22:22,23 (NCV)

Balaam was so determined to go the way he thought best that he couldn’t see the angel of the Lord. After three incidents where the donkey saved Balaam by avoided the angel of the Lord and was repaid by being beaten, “the Lord made the donkey talk, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to make you hit me three times?’ Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You have made me look foolish! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!’ But the donkey said to Balaam, ‘I am your very own donkey, which you have ridden for years. Have I ever done this to you before?’ ‘No,’ Balaam said.

Then the Lord let Balaam see the angel of the Lord, who was standing in the road with his sword drawn. Then Balaam bowed facedown on the ground. The angel of the Lord asked Balaam, ‘Why have you hit your donkey three times? I have stood here to stop you, because what you are doing is wrong. The donkey saw me and turned away from me three times. If she had not turned away, I would have killed you by now, but I would have let her live.’ Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, ‘I have sinned; I did not know you were standing in the road to stop me. If I am wrong, I will go back.’” Numbers 22:28-34 (NCV)

Gentle Reader, life is a long and winding road with many unknown perils and troubles, but we can be certain of God’s love, providence, security, and care. Don’t be a Balaam and go your own way, but ask God for guidance. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5,6 (NLT)

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Question - January 31, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the January 31, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


When I was a teenager living in Loveland, Colorado, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom listening to my stereo. When I started buying records, one of the first ones that I bought was Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues. In the fall of 1972, the song Nights in White Satin was in heavy rotation on the radio. The Moody’s had re-released the single from 1967, and it became a big hit. Because I loved the song, I purchased the album Days of Future Passed.

I can still remember the first time I put the record on the turntable. Classical symphonic music greeted my ears. I wondered what kind of record this was. It was over five minutes before the orchestral music segued into the vocals of Dawn is a Feeling. Throughout the rest of the record, the Moody Blues tracks alternated with interludes from the London Festival Orchestra. That record made an impact on me. I loved the record from start to finish.

The idea of a Days of Future Passed 50th-anniversary tour had been on the Moody Blues members' minds since 2015. The idea was to perform the album live in its entirety. When I first heard about the project, I thought it would be wonderful to see them perform Days of Future Passed in concert, but never imagined I would be able to. When I found out that they would be in Tulsa at the BOK Center, I purchased tickets. The concert was amazing. The first half included a number of songs from their extensive catalog and the second half was the album Days of Future Passed. After the last strains of music faded away, the audience erupted in massive applause. As the Moody’s returned to the stage for an encore, they played their 1970 hit, Question.

“Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at the door; with a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?” As I listened to the song, my mind wandered to some of the current drama in my life. My Mom has been very ill, and it seems that we haven’t been able to get the medical care that she needs. There have been family issues and personal issues and a lot of stress. I have to admit that I have asked God why all of this is happening to my family.

We may ask the question "why me?" but 1 Peter 4:12 (ICB) tells us, "My friends, do not be surprised at the painful things you are now suffering. These things are testing your faith. So do not think that something strange is happening to you.” Jesus Himself said in John 16:33 (NET), “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”

When trouble and suffering seem do dominate our lives, it's not surprising that we would ask the one-word question, "Why?" That "why" can pack so much emotion, such as confusion, desperation, or even anger. But as we sort through our feelings, our questions, our doubts, it is good to remind ourselves that a loving God always hears us. He always cares about us.

The Bible makes a startling statement about the tough times in our lives. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2,3 (NASB)  I don’t know about you, but I am not looking for tough times, and I’m not looking for more endurance. But the Bible says that I should consider it a joy.

I find that in my life, doubt creeps in because I can’t stand unanswered questions: Why is there suffering? Why do innocent people suffer harm but guilty people go free? Where is God when something terrible happens?

The lyrics of the Moody Blues, Question, seems to speak to me. “But in the grey of the morning, my mind becomes confused. Between the dead and the sleeping and the road that I must choose. I'm looking for someone to change my life. I'm looking for a miracle in my life.”

I’m looking for change in my life. I’m looking for miracles. At times, like me, you may wonder where God is, and what He is doing. Life can go very wrong at times. It may test your sanity and your faith. But you are not alone. Job, Paul, Elijah, John the Baptist, and even Jesus went through tough times that pushed them to the edge. C. S. Lewis, who watched his dear wife die of cancer, put it this way: "But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Gentle Reader, there is no easy answer to the problem of suffering. We may never understand, but we do know that God gave his Son to save us from our sin and all its destructive effects in this world, and that includes suffering. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV) I'm looking forward to the day when God will make everything that is wrong become right. “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’” Revelation 21:3,4 (NLT)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Out in the Cold - January 24, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the January 24, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


This past week, my hometown has seen the coldest temperatures in over twenty years. On the coldest morning, the temperature was five degrees with a wind chill of minus thirteen. Because of the unusually low temps, the working conditions at my shop were very cold. My old, drafty, uninsulated, shop building has only space heaters for heat. On the bitterly cold days, the heaters could do little more than keep the temperature above freezing. Like many other people in the area, I had water pipes that were frozen. As I worked, I longed for warmer weather.

According to an article published by the Associated Press, “a record-breaking blast of cold closed schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with the wintry weather. At least ten people died.” Cold weather can be deadly, and each winter many people lose there lives because of the cold.

I grew up in Colorado and experienced lots of snow and cold weather. I can still remember how frightened I was the day that I experienced a Colorado blizzard. It was a fairly nice winter day with temperatures in the forties. I was listening to the radio while I worked. It seemed like every few minutes there was a bulletin warning of a significant winter storm that was fast approaching. As I listened to the warnings on the radio, I decided that because I had a twenty-five-mile drive home, I should head home early.


By the time I headed home in my little Ford Pinto, the snow was coming down. Soon the snowfall was so heavy that visibility was almost zero. Before long I began to get worried. The snow was already so deep that the ditches were full of snow and I couldn’t tell where the edge of the road was. As I inched my way along, I frequently stopped the car and got out to find the edge of the road. I knew that if I slipped off the road in my little Pinto, I would never be able to get out. My progress was very slow, and the storm intensified as time went on. I began to regret not grabbing a coat that morning. My mind wandered to stories of people who were stranded after sliding off of the road in a blizzard.

While I was driving slowly down the road, I noticed my wheels starting to slip. I soon realized that I wasn’t making any progress. I was on a fairly steep hill, and the little Pinto couldn’t make it up the hill. I carefully backed down the hill and tried following my tracks with all of the speed that I dared. I made it a bit farther but still couldn’t get over the hill. When I got out of the car to survey my situation, I noticed a driveway just off to my left. I pulled into the driveway and sat there for a while. I didn’t know what to do. After about a half hour, I shut the car off because my gas gauge showed almost empty. In my hurry to get home I had forgotten to gas up. Before long it was quite cold in the car. I hadn’t seen one other car on this lonely stretch of county road. I began to get worried and prayed to God for a way out of my situation.


When the blizzard let up a bit, I could see a house off in the distance at the end of a long driveway. I got out of the car and walked up to the house. I knocked on the front door and got no answer. I went around to the back and knocked again. Still no answer. After standing in the snow and shivering for a bit, I checked the door to see if it was locked. The back door was unlocked. I opened it and stepped into a mudroom with boots, coats, a sink, and a couple of old metal chairs. After a few minutes, I took one of the coats of off the hook and put it on. I hoped the owners would understand.

I sat there, a bit more comfortable because of the coat, and thought about my troubles. I knew that my wife was worried about me, but I had no way to let her know about my situation. The door into the house from the mudroom had three small windows. I looked through the windows and noticed a phone hanging on the wall. I tried the doorknob, and it was unlocked. I felt terrible about going into the home of a stranger, but I didn’t know what else to do. I made a quick call to my wife to let her know that I was safe, but had no idea when I would be able to get home. Then I went back into the mudroom.


Over the next hour, I made several trips back to my car to see if the conditions had changed. The snow wasn’t coming down as hard, and visibility had improved. On one of these trips, a four wheel drive pickup drove up the hill leaving tracks to follow. I got in my little Pinto, backed down to the bottom of the hill, drove as fast as I could up the hill and made it over the top. In a few minutes, I was able to make it safely home. I’m sure that the owners of the home never knew that they had been my salvation.

Gentle Reader, that memorable scenario happened forty years ago. I don’t think I have ever been colder or more concerned about my safety. While He was talking to His disciples about signs of His coming at the end of the world, Jesus said, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:12,13 (NKJV) Don’t let your love grow cold. Jesus has promised to save those who endure to the end. “God is to us a God of deliverances; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” Psalms 68:20 (NASB) Whenever you feel the cold of the world surrounding you, remember the promise found in Micah 7:7 (NKJV) “I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.”

Rehabilitation - January 17, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the January 17, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.


For the past week, my Mom has been in the inpatient rehabilitation unit of the local hospital. After spending a week in the intensive care unit, she was transferred to the rehabilitation unit where she has been given physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Rehabilitation is the process of restoring a person's ability to live and work as normally as possible after an illness. It helps the patient achieve maximum possible physical fitness and regain the ability to be independent. It offers assistance with skills needed in everyday activities. My Mom is looking forward to regaining her strength so that she can return home.

Rehabilitation is not only for the person who has suffered a serious illness. It can also be treatments designed to facilitate the process of recovery from an injury to as normal a condition as possible. Every patient in an injury rehab program has to follow a recovery plan so that they will gain strength and avoid re-injury.

Spiritually we have all been injured and are in need of rehabilitation. Every one of us at some time has been spiritually wounded. How have you been injured? Do you have relationships with other Christians that have been damaged? Have you placed your trust in a church system or a leader instead of God? Have you lost your faith in God? Because spiritual matters are complex, it can be hard to find the problem. Any of these things can injure our faith and leave us in need of healing.

When we have a physical injury, we can see the need for healing and rehabilitation. But the negative spiritual effects of painful physical events often aren’t as obvious to us. Has betrayal, rejection, loss, or abuse left you wondering where God is?

In Hebrews 12:12-14 (NASB) There is a passage that sounds a lot like rehabilitation. “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

In a society that is obsessed with instant gratification, rehabilitation seems hard. Many of us are not willing to put in the time and effort needed. Spiritually, we want things to improve immediately. I don’t know anyone who likes to wait. Waiting can test our faith. When we have been injured, and need rehabilitation, we are often impatient and discouraged. When our rehabilitation doesn’t happen quickly, we begin to wonder if God cares.

Rehabilitation simply means working back to health. As painful as injuries are, they are only a stage. There is a future. Whatever the enemy has tried to take away from you, God wants to restore it. God wants to make it better than before. Every day we have choices to make. We can be tempted to get hurt, wounded, or depressed. We can complain and remain in the same awful condition. Or we can give our cares to God and begin our rehabilitation. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

It isn’t unusual for people to be discouraged in times of trouble and tribulation. In the Bible, there are many examples of godly men and women who were spiritually injured and were discouraged. King David wrote many of the Psalms during the dark times in his life. The Psalms of David can encourage us when we are depressed, tired and discouraged. Even though David had experienced some dark times and had been injured by others, he wrote these beautiful words in Psalms 23:1-3 (NKJV) “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

When other people injure you, don’t be discouraged or depressed. Don’t allow what people say to control your emotions. You control your destiny. God has promised to restore you. He is painfully aware of your suffering. When you cry, He is aware. Psalms 56:8 (NLT) tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” And In Psalms 34:15, 17-19 (NASB) we read, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Gentle Reader, if you have been injured and need rehabilitation, Jesus says, “come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) No matter what others have done to you, no matter what spiritual wounds have been inflicted on you, Jesus says, “I will restore you to health, and I will heal you of your wounds.” Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Emergency Room - January 10, 2018

An Arkie's Faith column from the January 10, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.



Last week my Mom called my wife to let her know that she had gotten an appointment with the cardiologist. When she got off the phone, my wife immediately called me to tell me that I should take my Mom to the emergency room. “Mom was out of breath from talking on the phone. She needs help now,” my wife said. I called my Mom and told her that I would be there in 15 minutes and go with her and Daddy to the emergency room.

Daddy drove Mom, and I followed in my shop truck. When we arrived, I planned to go inside and get a wheelchair, but Daddy drove up to the emergency room door, and Mom got out and walked inside. I quickly parked and ran in to help her. When I got inside, I saw that the waiting room was full. I hurried to catch up with Mom. She was at the registration desk. They asked her what the problem was, but she was so out of breath that she couldn’t answer. I told them that she couldn’t breathe. In less than a minute, there was someone there with a wheelchair, and they whisked her away.

I finished with the registration process, and then they took Daddy and me back to see her. She was already on oxygen and able to talk with us. I was thankful for the quick response of the emergency room team, but I couldn’t help thinking about all those people in the waiting area who hadn’t been helped yet.

If you’ve ever been to the emergency room, you’ve experienced the process known as triage. Triage is a French word that means “to sort out,” and it refers to the system that doctors and nurses use to decide which patients are in dire need of help and who isn’t. I looked up triage in the dictionary, and one of the definitions given was, “the sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care.” If a doctor were to treat someone with a cold while another patient with a heart attack goes unattended and dies, the doctor and the hospital would be in trouble. Some situations call for immediate attention, while others can wait. I’m thankful that the decision was made to help my Mom immediately.

Every day, each one of us has to make triage decisions in our life. We only have 24 hours. We have to decide what is most important to us. I recently read a story that illustrates what is most important. A time management teacher stood in front of his corporate overachiever students. He said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He picked up a gallon, wide mouth jar and set it on the table. Then he took some fist-sized rocks and placed them in the jar. When the jar was filled to the top, and he could fit in no more rocks he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said “yes.” He said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in, and asked them once more, “Is this jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not.” one of the students said. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar, and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No,” the class shouted.

Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was full to the brim. The truth this illustration teaches us is that If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life? If you sweat the little stuff, the gravel, the sand, the water, you will fill your life with little worries that don’t matter. You will never have the real quality time that you need to spend on the big things.

What is the biggest rock of all? What matters most? In Matthew 22:36-39 (NKJV) we read, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” Barbara Bush said it in a slightly different way, “What matters most is how you treat others and not what you have done.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,3 (NLT) if I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

Gentle Reader, what matters most in life is love. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:16 (NLV) “We have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love. If you live in love, you live by the help of God and God lives in you.” Love should be your top priority, primary objective, and greatest ambition. Love is not just something good in your life; it’s the most important part. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT) Paul tells us to “let love be your highest goal!” It is not enough just to say that love is important; we must prove it by investing time in our relationships with God and people.