Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Threads of Life - Martin Wiles

Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 NLT

Noise, dirt, confinement. I swore I’d never work in a mill, but found myself deposited there nevertheless.

For four years, I did my stint with Greenwood Mills. Three of those years, I labored in the weave room. Unbearable noise ear plugs couldn’t drown out. Dust clinging to every crevice of my body. And looms that wouldn’t consistently run regardless of my best efforts.

Looms took thousands of threads and wove them into a solid piece of cloth, but one broken thread halted the process. Finding the broken thread was often a challenge, but once it was retied the loom functioned as intended. Small broken threads wreaked havoc in the weave room, causing production to drop if not rethreaded quickly.

My life runs somewhat as a loom does. Thousands of life events combine to make up my life, but one broken string disrupts the entire scene. For early Christians, persecution was the broken thread. James encouraged them and instructed them to consider their trials an opportunity for great joy. After all, they are following their Savior’s footsteps.

Trials disrupt our lives, just as one broken thread stops a loom. Divorce, death, financial crunches, unemployment, abuse, crushed dreams. Whatever the thread, when it breaks life either stops or changes drastically. Sometimes, the looms didn’t stop when a thread broke, and a flawed piece of cloth was the result.

My response to trials is crucial. I can stop or keep going in a flawed or healthy condition. Initial stops aren’t necessarily bad. Stopping gives me a chance to consult God. If sin has led to my life disruption, I need to confess and repent. If it hasn’t, I need to check with God for direction. Not doing so means I’ll keep going in a defective state, making unhealthy and unwise decisions.

No one enjoys trials. I can’t think of one I’d like to repeat. But God sees the finished product. He knows what He’s initiating or allowing into our lives. I may complain, but He knows what’s beneficial.

When the threads of life break, God is always willing to show us the escape route—and not necessarily a route that takes us out of the trail but one that enables us to endure it, learn from it, and become a little more spiritually mature along the way.

Learn to trust God, even when the threads of life fracture.



Prayer: Father, we trust You to guide us through life when the threads hold and when they rupture. 


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Who Am I - Martin Wiles

Who Am I 

Oscar Wilde said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” 

I, on the other hand, didn’t care too much what others thought when I was struggling through adolescence. Since I was a preacher’s kid, my peers and the adults at my father’s church had a set of expectations for me. Among them what the length of my hair, the style of my dress, the words proceeding from my mouth, and the peers I hung around with should be. Read more... 

Tweetable: Do you know who you are?


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Money, Money, Money - Martin Wiles

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 NLT

Famous for his role in Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp now shines for something else: his extravagant lifestyle that costs him two million dollars a month.

Depp spent 75 million to buy, improve, and furnish fourteen houses around the world. Included is a forty-five-acre chateau in the south of France—valued at 13.5 million dollars. He also owns an island chain in the Bahamas, Hollywood houses, and downtown Los Angeles penthouse lofts. Topping this off is his Kentucky horse farm.

Depp has paid millions purchasing forty-five luxury cars. He also owns a 150-foot yacht which set him back eighteen million dollars. Since he refuses to fly commercially, he spends $200,000 a month to fly on a Gulfstream GV.

Perhaps his strangest expense is on wine. Depp puts out $30,000 a month to fly it in from all over the world. His forty full-time employees cost him $300,000 a month, and he has a total of $55,000 on a Visa card. (businessinsider.com)

There’s more, but this is more than I can conceive. Whether any of Depp’s pursuits are evil, I’m not here to judge. But he obviously loves money and what it can buy and maintain. “Money is the root of all evil” is a common misquote of what Paul actually says: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Money in itself is neutral, like many other things. What I do with it determines whether it transforms into evil. In most economies around the world, money is necessary. It’s used to buy necessities and luxuries, to pay monthly bills, to pay medical expenses, and to purchase groceries.

But money carries a danger. Money can steal my focus from God and spiritual things and lead me in unhealthy directions. When it does, the root becomes evil and has the potential to direct me away from God.

Money is better used to promote God’s work through the local church, charitable organizations, and mission endeavors. When I use it this way, I put the focus on what’s most important.

Spending money on myself is easy; spending it on others is challenging. While doing the first is acceptable, doing the second is more honorable. 

Choose to spend some of yours on others. Help build the Kingdom of God.



Prayer: Father, guide us to those people and places who need a little of our money. 


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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thanking a Boss - Martin Wiles

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

He is the most optimistic and thankful person I know.

Not having heard from Mike in a while, I texted him: “Hey Mike, just checking to see how you are. Are you still in Texas?”

Almost immediately my phone rang. A Texas number I wasn’t familiar with showed on the screen. I took a chance, and a familiar voice—one I’ve heard for the last thirty-eight years—said, “Marty, this is Mike.”

Mike and I met after high school when we both worked for the same company. I was a part’s man in the warehouse; Mike did quality control. A lay off terminated my position with the company, but Mike has stayed through name changes and layoffs.

Not long ago, a transfer brought him to a new plant in our area—two hours from his home. Prior to that, he drove three hours one way to work each day. 

Then the company sent him to Clute, Texas—eleven hundred miles from his home. The present stint will last ten more months. He has no idea where he’ll go next.

Mike didn’t sign on for this kind of life. He’s a homebody. When I commented on how tough his situation must be, his optimism and thankfulness bled through. “Well, the plant has been good to me. I try to look at it as doing my time for them.”

Mike always had down pat what Paul instructed believers to have: a thankful attitude. Me? Not so much. I tend to look at the dark side rather than the bright side. To complain about negative circumstances rather than be thankful in them.

And the little preposition in is important. In refers to location. Being thankful in all settings is radically different than being thankful for all circumstances. Being happy over a child’s death, a lost job, or bankruptcy is ludicrous.

But I can be thankful in those instances. When I remember God controls my situations, a different spin arises. Circumstances are powerless to make me miserable—just as no one can make me angry. I choose my response. Mike selected thankfulness.

God is good all the time—even when our environment makes His goodness difficult to observe. Remembering He is allows us to find thankfulness in all circumstances. 

Wherever God has placed you, be thankful.



Prayer: Father, help us to search for the bright side in all circumstances. 


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