Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sidetracked - Martin Wiles

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21 NLT

Getting shoppers sidetracked is a retailer’s dream come true.

After a long day of sweating in the hot, humid temperatures of a South Carolina August, my wife and I showered and readied ourselves for church. Moving isn’t fun, but we had no choice.

Following church, we stopped by the local Wal-Mart for a few necessities: curtain rods and a gallon of milk. Tired from a day of moving, I said, “Now, we’re just going to get those two things and leave, right.”
“That’s all,” my wife remarked.

As we entered the store, we began walking in the wrong direction: the garden center. “You mom said they had chair cushions on sale.”

And so our visit went. Though we only came out with four instead of two items, I had to continually keep my wife pointed in the direction of what we came to get. My recliner was calling my name, but the retailer’s reputation for putting things in my wife’s path that attracted her kept getting her sidetracked.

God did His best to keep the nation of Israel on track. He sent prophets, priests, and judges who kept His ways before them, but they kept getting sidetracked. The pagan nations around them put more attractive things in their path.

I’m not much different than God’s people of old. In fact, I’ve been known to get sidetracked in Wal-Mart myself—just not over the same things my wife does. That’s how the enemy of my soul works. Through experience, he learns what attracts each individual. He won’t try to sidetrack me with clothes or shoes because he knows they don’t interest me. But he will throw up a few tech gadgets, a fancy calendar, or a recently released DVD movie.

I had to continue telling my wife not to get sidetracked. “Keep your eyes focused on what we came for,” I reminded her.

I have to do the same for myself. If I don’t, Satan will lead me in sinful or unhealthy directions. And like a puppy on a leash, I’ll follow if I’m not clothed in my spiritual armor. By the power of God’s Spirit, I can say no, get what I came to get, and go home.

Don’t get sidetracked by Satan’s attempt to convince you that you need things you don’t.


Prayer: Father, give us the power to say no to Satan’s attempts to sidetrack us. 

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Downsizing…of Sorts - Martin Wiles

Then he said, “I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.” Luke 12:18 NLT

“Where are we going put it? I think we’re turning into hoarders.”

My wife and I both have asked the question and made the statements. Our love for antiques…especially furniture, keeps us adding to our collection and trying to stuff them into a small townhouse. On a recent move, we decided we were going to downsize—of sorts. Not that we were going to sell anything. We would simply transfer some things from our townhouse to the storage shed.

There were a few items we decided we could live without seeing or using. We loaded them into the back of our SUV and transported them several miles away. Perhaps our kids will want them someday. Or, maybe we’ll once again live in a larger place before we die. And of course, all of our stored pieces are assets we can sell if we need money.

Jesus told about a rich man who was a hoarder—but he wasn’t in to downsizing. He was in to upsizing. His crops produced more than normal. His barns were full. There was nothing for him to do but build larger barns, store his goods, and eat drink and be merry. Life was good…or so he thought, until God confronted him and told him his life would end that night.

Whether I downsize in actuality, I need to at least downsize in my thinking. Possessions are for this life. I will always love antiques and continue collecting them—and sell a few along the way. But I’m intelligent enough to know I can’t take them to heaven with me when I go.

God gives us things of this life to enjoy, but they are for earth, not heaven or the new earth. Possessions are tangible, corruptible, breakable, and can be stolen by thieves. Placing my security or faith in them will always lead to disappointment.

My possessions bring me joy, but God expects me to use them to help others and also advance His Kingdom. Seeming what I have as temporary helps me do this with the right attitude and avoid the rich man’s. He was selfish and thought only of himself. And, if by chance, my possessions turn my focus from God, I need to downsize.

Don’t let your possessions possess you. Downsize.


Prayer: Father, we thank You for all You give us. Help us use them to glorify Your name and advance Your work in this world. 

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Throwback Tuesday - Different Is Okay - Martin Wiles

Different is Okay

Different is okay now; but it wasn’t always.

Peer pressure is real. The pressures of elementary school seem tame when compared to the present, but they were intense then. A certain brand of tennis shoes, a particular name on my jeans, or letting the lazy students who were bullies copy my homework or gaze on my test. Pressures were more intense in the teen years. Drinking, smoking, and using drugs were the big three. In adulthood, the pressures became more subtle but were just as penetrating. Re-think what I believed about God, cheat on my wife, fudge on my income tax return, steal from the boss, and call in sick when I wasn’t. Sometimes I gave in because I didn’t want to be different. Read more...


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Building Blocks of Healthy Relationships - Martin Wiles

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NLT

“I remember when you used to…”

Anytime I hear my wife say the above, I know it will be followed with something I once did but don’t do anymore. Things like opening the door for her when she’s getting in the car or entering a store. Or coming up behind her and putting my arms around her neck while we’re shopping.

My wife has a memory like an elephant and recalls many things I’ve long forgotten. Among them, how our relationship was when we first married. I tell her our relationship has matured. She thinks, Now that you’ve got me, you think you don’t need to do those things anymore. We’re probably both right to a degree, but healthy relationships must be maintained.

Paul gives a list of instructions for husbands and wives. Some women don’t like the submission part while some husbands take issue with loving their wives enough to die for them. But Paul prefaces the instructions with a command for mutual submission. Doing this requires building blocks.

Mutual love and submission entail intentionality. If I’m not intentional or determined to love my wife as Christ loved the church or to submit to her as I desire her to submit to me, it won’t happen. Anything important requires my undivided attention.

Thoughtful words and actions are important. My wife loves to hear me tell her I love her, but she wants to see the love in action. Holding her hand, opening a car door, giving her a card, kissing her first thing in the morning. Little things that mean a lot.

Honesty is also critical. Dishonesty will wreck any marriage or relationship. I know. I’ve been on the receiving end of dishonesty, and it leads to a dead end. Trust is built in small ways over the course of many years. One wrong move can destroy what it took years to build.

Faithfulness is a must for healthy relationships. It follows on the heels of honesty. In the marriage ceremony, I promised faithfulness to my one wife until death parts us. No good reason exists to break that promise as long as I’m in the relationship.

More important than any other block is including God. Relationships that exclude Him are headed for failure from the start.

Use the correct building blocks to erect healthy relationships in your life.


Prayer: Father, give us wisdom to build healthy relationships with those You send into our lives. 

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