Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mind the Chickens - Martin Wiles

Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. John 13:10 NLT
Sometimes, chickens leave behind more than eggs and meat.
My maternal grandmother had a dozen or so chickens wandering around her yard. At night, she enclosed them in a small pen, complete with a coop. There, they slept and laid eggs.
Being the country boys we were, my cousin and I stayed outside most of the time, romping through the woods, playing in the hog pens, and mulling around in the yard—the same yard the chickens scratched in. Since we didn’t always wear shoes during the summer months—and even if we did, our grandmother would warn us before we came onto her porch or into her house: “Check your feet (or shoes).”
Chickens, it appeared, left more than eggs, and my grandmother didn’t want it in her house or on her porch. When we discovered this unwanted material on our shoes, we paused to scrape them on the dirt or on a grassy patch. Doing so became such a habit that eventually our grandmother didn’t have to remind us as much.
In Jesus’ day, getting one’s feet dirty was a fact of life. If shoes were worn, they were open sandals, and open sandals don’t keep out dirt. And since the main form of travel was by foot, people’s feet stayed dirty. When entering a house, it was common for the owner—or his slave, to wash the guest’s feet. He didn’t, however, wash the entire person. If the person needed a full bath, they could tend to that.
Jesus’ meaning is deeper. The bath happens when I trust Christ as my Savior. God the Father takes the righteousness of His Son and applies it to my sin, making me pure and holy in position—although not in practice. But daily living is like walking in my grandmother’s yard. I’m subject to get my feet messy with unwanted things. The world is full of sinful influences and testy temptations.
The news isn’t all bad though. Jesus says I just need to wash my feet. Though the spiritual disciplines of praying, meditating on the Bible, and confessing, I scrape my feet across the dirt or on a grassy patch and remove what shouldn’t be there. Confession brings restoration, and knowing God’s Word keeps my lifestyle aligned with His principles.
Learn to mind what the chickens of this world leave behind.

Prayer: Father, give us insight and courage to avoid those things that dirty our feet and taint our souls. 

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Flashback Friday - Spring Cleaning - Martin Wiles

Spring Cleaning

“Why do you sweep with that kind of broom,” I asked. “Because it’s better than a stick broom.” 

That was the answer my maternal grandmother gave when I asked why she swept with a broom unlike I’d ever seen before. Each year when the broom straw in the field behind her house grew tall enough, she would sickle some and bind it together with twine to make a broom.

I often watched as she used this crude instrument, but as the sun shone through the naked windowpanes I witnessed thousands of dust particles floating through the air. I couldn’t help but think: “When these settle, the room is going to be just as dusty as it was initially.” But Grandmammy was content even though she was scattering more than removing. Read more...


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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Frustration of the Unknown - Martin Wiles

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT
After numerous doctor visits which brought no answers, my wife and I were frustrated.
The unknown started after a recent move. My wife lifted an item and felt a stabbing pain. Thinking she had pulled the mesh from a recent hernia surgery, we visited the general surgeon. After testing, he determined it was only scar tissue.
Then unexplained weight gain resulted in a trip to the emergency room and then to the cardiologist. Pills to reduce her fluid didn’t work. More tests followed. One revealed an enlarged spleen and liver.
We re-visited the general surgeon who sent her to a kidney specialist. The cardiologist, in the meantime, sent her to a digestive disease doctor.
Weeks and months have passed between the tests and doctor visits. As of this writing, we still don’t know the answers to her unexplained fluid retention. Her frustration—and mine, builds as we await answers while trying not to imagine the worse.
Paul could have also been frustrated by the unknown. Would he survive the persecutions or the trip to stand trial before the Roman emperor? Would his friends betray him? Instead, he did what he advised others to do.
Praying about the unknown is crucial. Every night, I pray for my wife to have strength to face what might be ahead and for God to give the doctors wisdom to find out the reason for her dilemma.
Trusting is important in times of the unknown. God has never let me down and promises not to, regardless of life’s challenges. I can trust Him to work things for my good—even things that appear bad. He has my best interests at heart.
Additionally, I choose to believe God is in control. Doing so helps control my anxiety and frustration level. If He isn’t, I have an even larger problem than the things causing my frustration.
In my wife’s case, I believe God can guide the doctors to discover the reason for her health concerns and to give her the proper treatment. I also believe He can heal her apart from the doctor’s intervention if He so chooses.
Don’t let the frustration of the unknown lead you to doubt, anger, bitterness, or unbelief in a loving God. Rather, believe God loves you and has your situation under control.

Prayer: Father, we trust You to guide us safely into and through the unknowns of our lives. 

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Friendships’ Benefits - Martin Wiles

Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. Philippians 2:29 NLT
Both were named Mike, both were good friends, and both had a very different influence on me.
I met the first Mike when I was 15. My dad had been called as pastor of the church where Mike and his family attended. I was in the rebellious stages of adolescence…and so was Mike. He had experimented with a little more than I had and was eager to introduce me to alcohol, drugs, and cutting school. I was eager to follow his lead—and did. Mike was a good friend—and would have done anything for me, but his influence was negative.
I met the second Mike shortly after graduating high school when I started work at a local metal fabrication plant. He worked in quality control and had a desk in the warehouse where I worked. Mike had recently become a believer and was eager to please God with his actions and attitudes. At the time, I was still a little rough around the edges. Mike kept me sanded down. Every time I cussed, Mike gently called my name. Every time he saw or heard me committing wrongful actions, he lovingly rebuked me. Rather than get mad at Mike, I appreciated his concern for me and shaped up around him.
Forty years have passed since I hung around with the first Mike and about 34 since the second Mike. But I remember their influences well. So did Paul when it came to Epaphroditus. Paul was in prison. Epaphroditus delivered a gift to him from the believers at Philippi.
Good friends hold me accountable rather than lead me into unwise and unhealthy attitudes and actions. I’ll appreciate their rebukes because I know they have my best interests in mind.
Good friends show me unconditional love. Regardless of how I act or respond to their efforts, they will continue to love me as Christ does.
Good friends are always willing to lend me a helping hand. Helping me may inconvenience them…but they don’t mind.
And good friends and I share a common bond—belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and build our friendship on that foundation.
Wanting to be a good friend as well, I will return these favors for my friends.
Develop friendships that lift you up…not bring you down. Don’t let just any Mike into your life.

Prayer: Father, lead us into friendships with other believers who will enhance our journey with You. 

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