Crying in Your Beer

Barrels

When my brother and I, about 8 and 10 years old, waited in the bar till dad took us home, I often heard the expression “Crying in Your Beer.” A sharecropper would take his troubles to the bar, order a few beers, and, as the liquor loosened his tongue, feeling down in the dumps, he’d unload all his miseries on the bartender.

A poor sharecropper, dependent on rain and God’s favorable weather, had a lot to grumble about. Drought that caused hundreds of acres of corn crops to burn up; a wife confined to bed for a month with a serious pneumonia; a landlord who cheated him out of his fair share percentage of the harvest that year. And it seemed no one cared.

The psalmist in Psalm 88 had his share of woes, too. “For my soul is full of troubles” (v 3); “I am like a man without strength” (v 4); “You have overwhelmed me with all your waves (v 7); and “darkness is my closest friend” (v 18).

Unlike the bartender, who could only listen, the psalmist had hope. He could offer this prayer, “O Lord, the one who saves me, day and night I cry out before you” (v 1). At times the psalmist felt that the Lord had rejected him and hid his face from him, so he cried out to him. The psalmist’s cry was transparent. He acknowledged that God had “put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths” (v 6).

In the last few months I’ve cried out to the Lord as the psalmist did. I felt so overwhelmed I couldn’t see any rescue or help. Besides my cancer, I had one health problem after another.

Thankfully he gently reminds us that he not only hears our terrors and despair, but also dries up our tears as he takes us through the miseries of life. So we pray, “I call to you, O Lord, every day;” (v 8) and “you turn your ear to my cry” (v 2). He’s much superior to any bartender! God not only listens; He answers our cries and delivers us.

An Unsung Mother Theresa

As my wife was struggling for an appropriate title for an essay she had written about her mother on the subject “Gratitude for Someone Who Has Touched Your life,” I suggested “An Unsung Mother Theresa.”

“My mother began making a ‘home away from home’ for mothers’ sons when we lived in the D.C. area. Servicemen sitting alone at the Hot Shoppe restaurant were invited to our home for pie and Swedish coffee. Many made return visits and stayed in touch with my Mom for several years. People down on their luck were given a place to stay until they could afford an apartment. We never had a large home, but there was always room for another “bed” in the living room, on the long enclosed porch, and sometimes in the dining room.

“Mom began to take her three daughters to Walter Reed Army Hospital on Sunday afternoons. We visited with servicemen who had no family in the area. Usually we went to the amputee or the hepatitis wards because most people didn’t want to visit those. We girls sang, talked with them about their families, and wrote letters for them. Emily became their ‘Mother’ away from home, and they called her Ma Person. When they were well enough to have an overnight or weekend pass, they were invited to our home.”

These are just a few examples of her Mother’s benevolent kindness to so many people.

How about if we start using our free time to become a Mother Theresa to someone as my wife’s mother did? Locate children and teenagers needing a foster home, such as in Nana’s House. Care for unwanted babies needing Christian families until adoptive agencies can place them. Serve day workers and the homeless who need bag lunches. Visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities to show them real love as Apostle James suggests in James 1:27, “Look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

When these “good works” become a lifestyle for us, then we’ll be living examples of “Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).

As there were no strangers to my wife’s mother, may there be no strangers to us.

Love on Display

What an amazing truth that Jesus prayed for us before we were even born!

Hearing Jesus petition his Father for restoration of the deep love they shared before the creation of the world allows us to hear about a love far beyond our comprehension. And Jesus doesn’t just tell us of his love, he demonstrates it.

When Jesus saw the crowd following him, he had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matt 14:14). When Jesus saw Mary weeping, he wept. The Jews said, “See how he loved him!”(John 11:35, 36). “Jesus looked at him [the rich young man] and loved him” (Mark 10:21). And the final display of compassion was his love payment for our sin at Golgotha.

Do you begin to feel a new depth in Jesus’s love for you as you realize that when he prayed before he went to the cross, he was already praying that we would know how deeply his Father loves us (John 17:23). Further in his high priestly prayer, Jesus wanted God’s love to be in his followers, “that the love you have for me may be in them” (v 26).

So when we are in need of being loved and valued, listen to how he prayed for us because the Father loved us from eternity past. Jesus prayed we’ll know that love God has for us. If we feel unloved and deserted, let’s be comforted as we hear Jesus pray for us from a heart full of an eternal love.

If you want to feel Jesus’ love flood your heart, please read John 17. Jesus’ words will change your life!

You Memorized What?

My wife and I enrolled in Bible Memory Association in our early 30s. As our children became old enough, we enrolled them too. The amount of Scripture to be memorized depended on age. Adults memorized seven verses per week and recited them weekly to an assigned hearer. We were in BMA for five years. We eventually used Sunday afternoons to memorize entire chapters from the Bible.

However, I have never attempted to memorize the entire Bible nor have I ever known any Christian who memorized the entire Bible.

Then one day I read about a pastor in the Dominican Republic, whose name was withheld, who graduated from Pastor Training School in Barahona and asked his instructor for an audio recording of the Old Testament. He had already memorized the entire New Testament. Now he wanted to memorize the Old Testament as well. (I wonder what he will do when he gets to Leviticus and Numbers. I wish I could get in touch with him through the school to find out.)

I sat there. Stunned. Holding the complete Bible, not in my mind, but in my hands, trying to hold back the tears. My mind would not stop asking, What motivated that pastor to memorize the entire Word of God? I got so convicted that I could not even ask myself, How many chapters have I committed to memory recently?

As I reflected on our family Bible memorization, the Holy Spirit brought Psalm119:20 to mind, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” Are we American Christians near the reality of this verse? Perhaps the Dominican pastor is living in the experience of that Psalm.

And to realize he wanted the audio Bible because . . . He is blind.

A Throwaway Life

What has been my driving force to live and witness for the Lord throughout my life? It began with messages like the following that I heard in every Thursday’s chapel from Dr. Percy Crawford during my four years at The King’s College. He was a man of God who literally gave every ounce of his strength to serve his Lord in his brief 58 years. I share excerpts with you.

“What’s the good of living to 70 or 80? Of course right now way up there in age just seems an eternity away. It sneaks up on you, and that time comes right along, moves right along, moves right in, whether you like it or not.
“Life is short. We should look at life in light of the ultimate of that which is sure to come which is death. In other words, when I get through with my life, and we look back, what has been the purpose, the motivating power in our lives, that caused us to spend our lives as we did?. . . .
. . . .“There’s nothing wrong with being a teacher or an engineer or a housewife. But my objective is to use these means to ultimately bring men and women to a knowledge of the Son of God. Use every avenue possible, every dollar you can lay your hands on. To me that’s life.
. . . .“And if you’re going to be a soldier of the cross of Christ, if you’re going to be called and answer his call, you’ve got to have the equipment down pat, and know the Word of God…Not an armchair critic of it. Not saying, ‘I believe that doctrine and this doctrine; this one I’m not quite sure of.’ But letting these things grip your heart and grip your soul.
. . . . “We’re not sold out. We’re not yielded. We haven’t got the vision. ‘Where there’s no vision the people perish.’ And they’re perishing by the carload! My prayer is that The King’s College will prepare you mentally in all of these various subjects and inoculate you and indoctrinate with the horrible fact of an everlasting hell, and that you may make decisions in life in the light of the ultimate of that which is sure to come so that when you’re through you can look back and say, ‘Lord, I loved you, and I failed you so miserably. But I threw down my life. I’ve thrown it away for you.’ What an honor! What a privilege! If The King’s College fails to do that, and to turn out men and women with that objective, we have failed. We’re simply another educational institution.”*

*Excerpted from A Thirst for Souls by Dan D. Crawford

“Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars.” Daniel 12:3
Are you motivated today to reach out to friends and neighbors to share the gospel?

What Do You Want for Father’s Day?

On my weekly visit with the 94-year old man at the nursing home today, I asked, “What do you want for Father’s Day?”

“Nothing. I don’t need nothing. Got everything I need.”

My mind immediately asked, What about spiritual needs. Got any of those?

As a father, for my ‘wants’ I looked at how seven fatherly characters in the Bible thought.

Like Job, that I’ll pray daily for my family to be guiltless (sin-free) before their God
(Job 1:5b).

Like the Apostle James, that my family would be busy doing good deeds, such as visiting the homeless and shut-ins and helping the needy (James 1:27).

Like the Apocalyptic John, that my family is blessed to be among the ones who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

Like the disciple John, that I have no greater joy than to find my children walking in the truth (2 John 4).

Like the aging Patriarch, that the Lord prolong my life in old age so I can continue to tell others about Him (Psalm 71:18).

Like Jesus, that I’ll look on others as he did with tender heart-felt compassion and forgiveness.
(Matthew 9:36).

Like our Heavenly Father, that we will all love with an indefatigable love that never tires of our family coming to us for help and guidance! ( Psalm 98:3 The Message)

These are the Father’s Day gifts I’d like to receive. My desire is that this Father’s Day will be a unique, memorable Day of days.

Are You a Spoon or a Ladle?

Challenged to help the needy when he heard the Sunday’s message, he took his daughter to one of the centers that fed the hungry. Surely this will lift my feeling of responsibility he thought as he took out his checkbook and began to write a check, all the while keeping his eye on his daughter. She was wandering and beginning to talk to the clientele and he was nervous about her being around them and maybe getting dirty. This isn’t really the place to bring her, and he wasn’t comfortable being there either.

The man in charge, put up his hand and said, “No we don’t want people’s money; we want people’s hearts and hands to serve the Lord by serving these lowliest of the low whom Jesus loved and died for.” Taken back, the man looked around, still not wanting to get too close and hesitatingly said, “Well what could I do? I really don’t see anything for me to do here”. By this time his daughter had befriended those serving the food and she had begun to put the biscuits on the plates. She was smiling at everyone.

Maybe this is what Jesus meant. I guess I could do something that I wouldn’t get too dirty. He started dishing the mashed potatoes on the plates as each one went through the line. By the end of the meal, they both started washing the dishes.

“Maybe we could come back again another day,” he said as he held up the spoon he was drying.

“Oh no, you can’t use that. Do you want a spoon or a ladle?” the man asked him.

“What’s the difference?”

A spoon is to feed yourself. A ladle is to serve others.

He went away that evening a changed man. Yes, his daughter had already used the ladle. He had just been using a spoon.

“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:5,6

So what will it be dear friend? As you love the Lord, will you take the spoon or are you willing to take up the ladle?