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?

Papa’ Last Card?

My eight-year old great granddaughter Elena was writing a thank-you note to me for a recent birthday gift, Stories from Grandma’s Attic. Her mother shared this story with me. Elena laid her pencil down, looked up at her mom, and asked,

“Is Papa still sick?”

“Yes, Elena, he still has cancer.”

“Is he very sick?”

“Yes, Elena, he’s very sick.”

“Then I better be extra neat. This may be the last card he’ll ever get from me.”

When I heard about that story, I cried–cried for joy. What a thrill for a young child to be that concerned for her Papa. I prayed, “Heavenly Father, how encouraging that her parents are filling her young heart and mind with your eternal truth. Keep Satan from snatching away the good seed.”

I know that my granddaughter Michelle and her husband are doing for our three great grandchildren what Joshua commanded Israel: “Be careful to love the Lord your God, to live in his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul (Joshua 22:5).

Of Joshua’s five commands, the one “to hold fast to him,” conveys a great truth that we hold onto the Lord as we hold onto things of great value to us that we don’t want to lose, such as
a diamond ring or a child’s tattered teddy bear, yes even Elena’s card.

I opened my Papa card and reread my precious great granddaughter’s message to me. It says something more than just “thank you.” And between the lines, it says, ‘I love the same God that you love, Papa.’

Beyond Memorial Day

Memorial Day

What does it mean? For many who lost sons, brothers, fathers or uncles in the war it is a time to remember.

For others who had sons, brothers, fathers or uncles who fought and came home it means a time to be thankful.

For me as a believer, it means that besides human sacrifice there is one who gave His life for me, not on the battlefield but on the cross, so that I could live eternally. What a beautiful time of remembrance and thankfulness.

My wife’s uncles, Emil and Bill, served in World War I from 1917-1918. And they sang the song When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again. Her brother Vernon served in the US Army in Germany in World War II from 1943-1945 and he sang White Cliffs of Dover and When the Lights Go On Again. My brothers JC and Glenn served in the US Navy and US Air Force in Korea and Viet Nam during both of those wars. And they sang Tie a Yellow Ribbon.

The battles still rage across the earth but there is no song that we sing in America today; just lethargy about our freedoms.

However, the spiritual battle is the Lord’s and He has given his life and He is the victor. We have read the back of the Book! John 8:36 promises “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Take time to thank God for your relatives who served in the military over the years. And be very sure to thank our Lord Jesus for serving and giving his life that we might live for eternity. Our glorious song can be Faith Is the Victory.

A Bird Plays His Violin for God

A freak sideshow in nature? No, it’s for real.

After we had moved into our new home in Florida, one of the first projects on our “to do” list was to get bird feeders up and filled. My wife and I play a game to see who can be the first to identify a particular song bird. We marvel at the red-throated hummingbird’s sounds. We marvel at the painted bunting’s high-pitched singing in short phrases of variable pitches.

But we marvel most at one we have never heard. That’s the sound made by a small tropical bird, different from the song of any other bird.

Deep in the tropics of Ecuador, an ornithologist heard what sounded like a miniature string orchestra. Baffled, he pushed his way through heavy vines and underbrush to watch a bird sing with its wings. A tiny red-headed bird’s wings created a loud, clear tone that sounded as if it came from a violin. The bird, called a club-winged manakin, sings, not with his throat but with his wing feathers as they vibrate to create violin-like sounds.

The psalmist calls for all the birds to “Praise the Lord from the earth small creatures and flying birds” (148:10). When the manakin “plays his violin,” he wings his music heavenward, first and foremost, to delight his Creator, a God of variety and surprises. And his Creator lets us enjoy what he hears.

Our human voices add our hymns of praise to the manakin’s “violin,” and our blended musical praise soars for the pleasure of, and glory to, our music-loving God of the universe.

Every time now when I hear a violin playing, I think about our delighted Father listening to his unique club-winged manakin’s “violin,” deep in the forests of Ecuador.

And you know what? God invented the moon walk. The manakin actually does the moon walk. Check it out on line.