Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Helping Hands - Martin Wiles

Helping Hands

The doctor’s words shocked us: “You have one on each foot. I can do one at a time or both at the same time.”

We decided for both, and for the next two weeks, I helped my wife recover from planter’s wart surgery. If we went to the store, I pushed her in a wheelchair. At home, I helped her from point A to B by holding one of her arms while she hobbled on her heels. Without my helping hands, she would’ve been confined to her recliner. Read more...

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Sheltered - Martin Wiles

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 NLT
A shelter can be a welcome sight—and if often was for me.
The Appalachian Trail—which extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine—is a two thousand plus mile trail dotted with shelters. Some who thru-hike the trail don’t even carry a tent but depend on the shelters to protect them from the elements and provide a place to sleep, relax, read, wash clothes, and do other necessary things.
While their construction style varies, every one I’ve seen is three sided. Some have fireplaces, but the missing side allows snow and rain to blow in during storms, predators—such as bears and raccoons—to enter at will, and cold and heat to penetrate. Still, sleeping in a shelter is better than lying on the ground during the cold months or in inclement weather.
I’ve slept in a few of the shelters, and one thing they’re not is comfortable. They provide what is necessary, but no creature comforts. While better than nothing, they don’t begin to compare with a plush home. After all, those who stay there are backpacking and want to rough it in the wild.
The psalmist didn’t find his shelter in a three-sided structure, but in the Lord. He, too, as a lad, was an outside person. He tended sheep and also lived in the wilderness in caves for a time while running from a jealous king. He knew a thing or two about shelters.
As a shelter, God shelters me from sin and its dangers. When I ask, He forgives my sin and restores me to a right relationship with Him. Forgiveness shelters me from the eternal consequences of rejecting Him: hell. He also promises not to let temptations get so intense that I can’t walk away from them with His help.
God shelters me through life’s disappointments—and they are many. He won’t take them all away. They may often have a place in His plan for my life. But He will shelter me from the damaging emotional effects if I turn to Him instead of other things.
God also shelters me through periods of brokenness. When I’ve lost a job, a child, a spouse, my reputation, my peace, my friends. He gives a peace that surpasses my understanding.
Unlike the Appalachian Trail shelters, God’s shelter is fully enclosed, warm, peaceful, and always available. Run there often.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being our shelter in our times of need. 

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Whirlwind Called Life - Martin Wiles

"Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 NLT

The whirlwind of going to the grocery store seemed pointless.
Once a month, we make a major contribution to Walmart. On one such trip, the meaningless of grocery shopping became evident—except for the fact that I have to eat.
My wife rolls the buggy, picks out the items, hands them to me, and I place them into the cart. When we’re finished, we roll up to a cashier and take the same items I just placed in the cart out of the cart. The cashier scans our merchandise and puts it in a bag. I take the same items—only now bagged—and return them to the same cart I just took them out of.
After arriving home, I pick up the same bags I just picked up at the grocery store and carry them inside. My wife picks them up again and puts them in their respective places. By now, I’m tired of counting how many times I’ve handled these same items. There must be an easier way.
Life didn’t mean much to King Solomon—at least not when he tried to live it apart from God. He had all the wisdom and riches one person could want, but his many endeavors were meaningless when God wasn’t included. Life was a whirlwind of pointless activity for him.
Whether it appears so or not, life does have a purpose when lived with God in mind. As crazy as grocery shopping seems, I must have food and drink to survive—even if I do have to handle it six times before I’m done.
Life’s purpose isn’t found in play toys, possessions, knowledge, relationships, or good health—although all those things can be included in it. Solomon tried those tired efforts. If I listen to his conclusions, I won’t have to repeat his folly.
When life seems like a whirlwind of pointless activity and endeavors, I try to remember God sees what I can’t. He knows where He wants to take me and how He wants to get me there. When I open myself to the leadership of God’s Spirit, life takes on new meaning.
Life’s purpose will reveal itself if I approach it from the correct foundation: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Building my life on Him changes my perspective on everything—grocery shopping included.
Don’t get sucked in by the whirlwind of meaningless living. Live life from God’s point of view.
Prayer: Father, guide our steps so that we might understand Your purpose for us. 

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Flashback Friday - Free for the Asking - Martin Wiles

Free for the Asking

He stood behind the pulpit holding a single bill, begging someone to come forward and take it. 

Growing up as a preacher’s son, I attended many evangelistic meetings and revivals and witnessed the maneuvers of numerous speakers. One common tactic often occurred during the invitation when the speaker would hold the infamous dollar bill and encourage someone…anyone, to come forward and seize it—no strings attached. Usually, some brave child would finally run down the aisle and grab the money from the speaker’s hand…often at the prodding of a mother or father. Read more... 

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Be Ready - Martin Wiles

And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15 NLT

At 7:15 in the morning, any answer I have is fuzzy.

As I walked through the neighborhood we once lived in, a man stopped his car and waited for me to approach.

“You’re a preacher, aren’t you?” he asked.

“I am.”

“I want to ask you a question. Now I’ve asked several ministers and other people, and so far no one has been able to give me an answer,” he said.

Now I was worried. He had tried the question on others. Even on people who knew the Bible well. Why did he think I’d be able to give him an answer? And though I’m a morning person, I didn’t know if my brain was in theological mode.

As it turned out, the question he posed was legitimate and one I’d pondered myself. The trouble was, it was a question the Bible doesn’t answer clearly. Speculation abounds. I gave him my conclusion, we kicked around the various answers for a few minutes, and he went on his merry way. When he pulled off, I thought about what Peter said.

The answers I should always be ready to give must be based on truth. In our current generation, truth is flexible, slippery, and maybe even subjective to many folks—especially the Millennials. Regardless of what a person might think, the Bible proclaims that it contains truth. Truth when it was first spoken and written and truth now. And truth for people from all cultures, races, and nationalities.

Being ready to give an answer takes effort. I have to think, ponder, meditate, formulate, and investigate. And once I’ve formulated, I have to periodically refresh my memory so that my answers stay in my long-term memory.

I have to get ready ahead of time. My episode was proof of that. Had I not gotten ready prior to the encounter, I couldn’t have provided any answer at all—or at least not one that was clear. What he wanted to know, I’d already investigated.

My answers should also be given with love and kindness. People who are searching don’t want a tongue lashing or a Bible beating. They want spiritual truth, but they want it delivered with love, not legalism or pride.

So be ready to profess and defend your faith. You never know when the opportunity to do so will arise.



Prayer: Father, arm us with Your truth so we can answer those who ask about our hope. 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

When Death Knocks - Martin Wiles

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. Hebrews 9:27 NKJV

*”Johnny has been killed in an accident.”

The shocking news rolled through my soul like a tidal wave. Someone had crossed the middle line. A head-on collision occurred. Johnny was driving one vehicle; an older woman the other. Both were killed.

This death hit home. I had taught with Johnny’s mom for four years. I had even taught Johnny in Bible class—as well as instructed his younger sister and brother in grammar.

Now Johnny was a senior—graduation a mere three weeks away. But he would never walk across the stage and receive the diploma he’d worked so hard for. College scholarships would mean nothing.

Sleep refused to come the remainder of the night. I tried to imagine myself in Johnny’s family’s place. How they were feeling. What they were thinking. Could they feel at all—or think at all. I imagined they were numb. The headmaster would meet with high school students the next day. Pastors would be on hand. I sent him a text telling him I’d pray for him.

Johnny’s unexpected death reminded me of the words the writer of Hebrews penned. What he said was true then and now. Though perhaps not a part of God’s original plan, death came because humanity sinned. Now, it’s a part of life. It will knock on everyone’s door. The only ones who will escape are those alive when Jesus returns.

Death’s knock is never easy or pleasant to answer, but answer it we must. I can never know the exact moment it will occur. For some like Johnny, the knock comes much too soon. For others, the knock holds off for what seems a long time.

Students, and adults, will seek an answer. Why him? Why now? But there is no good explanation for what appears senseless. All I can do—all anyone can do—is hold on to the truth. And the truth is that God is in control and God loves us. I don’t know why He allowed Johnny to die so young—many have died younger. But I do know there is no power greater than God’s. Nor is there anyone who can love more than God does.

Johnny’s family will take comfort in knowing he is with the one whom he trusted as his Savior. When death knocks, be sure you know where you’re going when you answer.


Prayer: Father, thank You that we can know where we’ll spend eternity when death knocks.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the family. 

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