Saturday, October 1, 2016

Straddling the Fence - Martin Wiles

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people answered him not a word. 1 Kings 18:21 KJV

At 12 years of age, my grandfather learned about straddling the fence.  

When my grandfather was only of middle school age, his father died. In a time period when women worked mostly at home and the man was the sole bread winner, this put the family in a precarious situation. Among three brothers, my grandfather was the only one who could take the reins. 

With the help of his Uncle Ransom, my grandfather got down from the fence and went to work. Taking care of a mother and several female siblings at 12 years of age wasn’t easy, but he knew what he had to do and did it. Quitting school in the sixth grade meant he’d never secure a job that would pay very much. And he didn’t. 

When he later quit farming, he took a job at the Paradise Ice Company in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he worked the remainder of his lifetime. Though his pay lacked a lot to be desired, again he knew what he had to do and did it. 

Elijah wasn’t a fence straddle either. He summoned 450 prophets of the pagan god Baal to the summit of Mount Carmel and challenged them to a contest to see which god was God. Before the contest began, he asked the people how long they would hesitate between two opinions…how long they were going to live with a divided mind. 

Jesus once told people they couldn’t serve God and mammon. Mammon could be money or material possessions. But I can take anything and insert it in the place of mammon. I can’t choose God and Baal. 

Baal was a fertility god. Worshipping him allegedly brought prosperity and happiness. My Baal can be anything that proposes to do the same thing. 

God presents us with the same question Elijah did to Baal’s representatives: “How long will you live with a divided mind?” We must choose God as well as the things that represent His nature. We can’t serve Him and other gods. Nor does He want half-hearted service from us after we choose to follow Him. He wants our undivided loyalty—not a divided mind. 

Give God your all. He wants it—and deserves it. And when you choose to get off the fence, you’ll experience life as you never have before.

Prayer: Father, give us strength to follow you with all our hearts, souls, and minds. 

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Flasback Friday - Martin Wiles

Serving with Sincerity

I was serving, but deep inside my motives were tainted.

Fresh out of college and pastoring my very first church, I was eager to impress…someone…anyone. So began my journey for recognition. In addition to pastoring and teaching full time, I directed a department in our local church association, worked on my Master’s, and volunteered with local literary associations. To say my plate was full is an understatement.  Read more...


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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rooted - Martin Wiles

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17 NLT

With really no roots at all, Tom sold most of what he had and headed out. 

Tom had a fragile childhood. His father was known as a rowdy type, a sailor with a woman in every port. Naturally, things between his mother and father fell apart since his father wouldn’t stop his running around. Then the day came when his mom met a man from Florida. Before he knew it, they were married and moving to Florida—without him. 

Tom was left to live with his grandmother who lived with her daughter and son-in-law and their two children. His aunt and uncle became his parents, and his two cousins became his brother and sister. 

Tom’s life wasn’t much different than his father’s. None of his marriages lasted very long. Since he couldn’t father children of his own, when the marriage dissolved so did all the roots that went with it. When his last wife died from breast cancer, Tom sold almost everything he had, loaded his horses and belongings in a trailer, and hit the road. He had no roots. 

Sometimes I feel a little like Tom. As a preacher’s kid and then a preacher myself, moving from place to place came with the territory. Family reunions were often missed due to church, so I depended a great deal on my grandmother to keep me updated. Mom and Dad’s sister are the only family matriarchs my family has left. 

Though my earthly roots are somewhat fragmented—and now very shallow—my spiritual roots run deep. Distance, divorce, and death can shatter and fragment genealogical roots, but the root that extends down into God’s love is a deep one. In fact, it is a tap root with no end.

Others may leave us in life for numerous reasons. We ourselves will one day have to leave this earth behind. But if we are rooted in God’s love, we have a large family that is planted across the world. Though our physical families dwindle and fragment, our spiritual families can be found anywhere we go because anywhere we go we can find people who are rooted in God’s love. 

When it appears your family roots are slowly dissipating, remember how large your spiritual family is. Pray for them, and enjoy spending time with them. 

Prayer: Father, we thank You for giving us spiritual family all across this globe.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Technology’s Overload - Martin Wiles

For God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT

Too much of a good thing can be harmful. 

Exercise is good, but too much can damage the body. More importantly, it might damage relationships with others.

One Krispy Kreme doughnut won’t harm me, but eating a dozen a day most likely will. Where what I eat is concerned, most doctors will say, “Everything in moderation.” Eating a little along and along is better than binge eating. 

Our day is really not much different in the moderation area than was Paul’s. Idolatry, sporting events, drugs, alcohol, sexually immoral practices, gluttony. They were all available. So Paul took the opportunity to remind first century believers that their bodies were temples of God’s Spirit. He had bought them with the death of His Son. The least they could do was honor Him with their bodies. 

The current greatest “too much of a good thing” temptation is technology. An entire generation of digital natives is alive and well. Defined, they are the young people who have never known a time when the internet didn’t exist. Just as doctors once thought tobacco was good for us—and freely smoked in and out of the presence of their patients—but then discovered it was dangerous, so the same is now happening with technology. 

Researchers have now unveiled the damage too much digital interaction—especially gaming, can have on people’s brains. The younger the brain, the higher the addiction rate and the more harmful technology is to the brain. Staring at and interacting with “screens” not only builds an addictive wall in our brain, but it also damages our eyes, leading to dry eye disease.

I use technology profusely and am certainly not an advocate against it. Through it, I can spread the gospel with one press of a button or touch of a screen. But like everything else, I can get too much of a good thing. Moderation is necessary lest overload occur. 

Some suggestions to avoid technology’s overload: take a break from it every 15 minutes, don’t give it to young children (It’s not a good babysitter.), use it wisely, take it out of your bedroom at night (Analog clocks are still available.), enjoy an analog activity (Board games are still sold.), and go outside. 

What’s one thing you can do to avoid technology’s overload?

Prayer: Father, help us enjoy the good things You’ve created but not to be mastered by anything that steals our attention from You. 

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