Friday, August 7, 2020

Flashback Friday - Why Are There So Many Denominations? - Martin Wiles

Why Are There So Many Denominations?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. Ephesians 4:5-6 NLT

Variety is the spice of life, and with religion, there’s certainly a plethora of flavors.

During my early years—the ones I don’t remember, I was a Baptist because my parents were. Around age six, I became a Methodist—not by choice but because my father decided God was calling him into the ministry. He chose a local college that happened to be Methodist. The only difference I noticed then—or for the next eight years, was that Methodists sprinkled for baptism while Baptists dunked. At mid-life, I was scorned by a particular denomination due to an unfortunate divorce. Having a bad taste in my mouth, I mosied over to a charismatic denomination where I stayed for the next five years. Here I noticed quite a few differences in liturgy, music, and doctrine. Currently, I’m back where I began as a child. Read more...

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Filled with … - Martin Wiles


And you, because of my blood covenant with you, I’ll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells. Come home, hope-filled prisoners! Zechariah 9:11 MSG
What you put in the reservoir matters.
A local manufacturer once donated a riding lawnmower to the church I pastored. Now I could cut our large lawn, which would save the church money on landscaping costs. It was a nice piece of machinery, and I loved cruising across our long, horizontal lawn.
Then, life got busy … too busy for me to have time to cut the grass. My wife decided she’d help out. Not being familiar with the engine or its parts, she made what was almost a fatal mistake.
“I think I put the gas in the oil reservoir,” she said when I answered the phone.
“Don’t crank it,” I responded.
When I got home, I cautiously placed the key in the ignition and turned, not knowing what to expect. Fortunately, she realized what she was doing before she poured in too much gas. What I got when I cranked the mower was a lot of smoke. The mower continued to run until I left the church, but it never ran as well as it did before the wrong-reservoir mistake.
The wrong thing filled Zechariah’s readers too: hopelessness. They had just returned from seventy years in foreign captivity and were now faced with rebuilding the Temple other foreigners had destroyed. They started well, but then faced opposition, both internal and external. God called Zechariah, along with Haggai, to fill the people with hope—hope for the present and hope for the future when the Messiah would come.
If we let it, ours can become a hopeless existence in an uncertain world. Abuse, crime, busyness, depression, war, terror, mass shootings, unemployment, hunger, persecution. When the money runs out before the bills do. When there’s not enough time in the day to complete the tasks. When the marriage is failing … when the fear is real … when the abuse continues … we need the right liquid in our reservoirs. And the right mixture is faith in God, mixed with hope.
Having hope in what appears to be a hopeless world is only possible through faith. Nothing else—nor anyone else—can provide it. God instills it because we believe He controls the world, our lives, and everything that happens in both.
Don’t live a hopeless existence. Go to the One who can lift your spirits and give your strength for each day and every circumstance.
Prayer: Father, we look to You for the hope we need—the hope no one else can provide.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Heart-to-Heart Talk - Martin Wiles


For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 2 John 1:12 NLT
I remember it hung on a doorknob.
My parents believed in corporal punishment. They thought the Bible taught it, and they believed and practiced the Bible’s teachings. They never abused me by using it, nor did they ever apply it to parts of my body they shouldn’t have. But they believed a good spanking was in order when I had willfully disobeyed them.
My dad’s favorite tool was a black belt from which he had removed the buckle. As a young boy, I remember the belt hanging on the doorknob of his and Mom’s bedroom. When I willfully broke one of the house rules, he and Mom used it. 
But according to Mom, things differed when I was a noticeably young boy. If I did something wrong, Dad took me into the bedroom and closed the door. The next thing she heard was crying. She assumed Dad was whipping the tar out of me. In reality, Dad had never used the belt. Talking to me did the trick. I had such a tender heart that the talk broke my little heart.
Heart-to-heart talks don’t always work, but they did on some occasions with me—and that’s what the aged apostle wanted to have with those he wrote to. Some things are better said in person rather than through another form of communication.
Sending a text or Snapchat—or firing off an email—has greatly reduced heart-to-heart talks with those we know. In some cases, we have no other choice—and communication this way beats waiting two weeks for a letter to arrive—but often these forms become our choices of communication when they don’t have to be.
Somehow, I can’t imagine that Adam and Eve would have chosen a text or Snapchat from God over what God chose: walking and talking with them in the garden in the cool of the day.
Some things mean more when said in person. Love is spelled TIME. So when you can, chose the in-person heart-to-hearts over the more convenient methods of communication.
Find someone today to have a heart-to-heart with.
Prayer: Father, move us to seek out heart-to-heart encounters with others as You do with us.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Why Is the Bible So Difficult to Understand? - Martin Wiles

Why Is the Bible So Difficult to Understand?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword…It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

If God wants me to understand his love letter, why is it penned in such a difficult language?

I was in middle school when The Living Bible surfaced. Until then, the King James Version reigned supreme. There were several other translations available—such as the Revised Standard Version and the American Standard Version, but rarely did I see anyone use either. My dad was a fundamentalist and had never swayed from the KJV. When The Living Bible emerged in 1971, he was immediately suspicious because it was a paraphrase, not a translation. Read more...

Tweetable: Do you have trouble understanding the Bible? 


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Monday, August 3, 2020

The Waste of Haste - Martin Wiles


Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. Proverbs 19:2 NLT
“Haste makes waste.”
I heard the saying as a youth from various people, but who knew it came from the Bible. Soon enough, I learned the truth of the quote.
As a young boy—and even as a teen—I spent a large amount of time with my paternal grandparents. My grandmother performed babysitting duties so Mom and Dad wouldn’t have to pay a daycare fee. And since Dad had begun college to study for the ministry, that helped out tremendously.
In addition to being a nurse’s aide, my grandmother sold Avon (in the day when they actually went to people’s house, rang the doorbell, and said “Avon’s calling”). I loved to ride in her ‘50 something Chevy. What time we weren’t doing that, I sat with her in the living room and watched her crochet.
My grandfather drove an ice cream truck, and I spent summers helping him. Hopping up in the refrigerated back to retrieve or load ice cream was just the ticket on hot, sultry days.
As I spent time with my grandparents, doing the various things I did, they told me many stories. Mostly family stories. Stories about them growing up and stories about my other relatives. I wish now I’d written more of them down because as I get older my capacity to remember fades.
Both of my grandparents are now gone—and so is my father. Mom’s memory is fading, and she often gets the stories mixed up.
I recall something my grandmother said to me when I was a young man in my 30s, trying to make my way in the world and staying too busy in the process: “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.” I neglected time with my grandparents during that time—and my grandmother was right. A bleeding ulcer let me know. Haste does make waste.
What I’ve discovered is that I only have time to do what God wants me to do. That means establishing priorities and learning to say, “No.” If I put too much on my plate, I’ll make haste and not do a good job at anything.
God has a plan for each of His children. When we follow it, we’ll enjoy life as we could not otherwise. And we won’t have to run around like chickens missing their heads because God doesn’t expect us to burn out doing His work.
Don’t let haste steal your joy in life.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom to do only those things that are in Your plan for us and to say, “No,” to those things that aren’t.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Her Best Friend - Martin Wiles


For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT
She lay on her bed—her friend beside her.
For as long as I can remember, my great-grandmother lived with my paternal grandparents. I never knew my great-grandfather—or exactly why my great-grandmother came to live with my grandparents.
Since my grandmother served as my babysitter, I saw my great-grandmother almost every day. She always seemed ancient, but recently I calculated her age when I was a young boy. Just a few years older than I am now.
She and my grandmother loved to sit in the living room, watch game shows on television, and crochet. She also loved to plant and work with flowers in the yard and in her bedroom. What time she wasn’t in the living room, she lay on her bed in her room.
A plain wooden chair with armrests rested at the foot of her bed—a chair I now own. And in that chair, I often sat—watching her crochet, listening to her stories, and watching her best friend that never left her side. Her Bible always lay just beside her on the bed or on the nightstand beside her bed—another piece of furniture I own. And most proudly, I own her ragged Bible—the cover long gone, and the pages ruffled.
My great-grandmother came to mind one Christmas. I took out a small night lamp, turned it on, placed her Bible on the table in front of it, and turned the pages to Luke 2—the Christmas story.
My great-grandmother believed what the writer of Hebrews said about God’s Word. She kept it close by and always lived out its principles. Never once did I see or hear her violate any command of God’s Word. Her example taught me a lot.
Though aged, God’s Word is not dead. The stories still come alive when read, and the commands are still relevant. When read, God’s Word burns into our souls and becomes an instrument through which God confronts us with our spiritual needs—the most important needs in life. But the Word doesn’t leave us hanging with no hope. It gives us the solution to our dilemmas as well as guidance for every life situation.
Let God’s Word become your best friend.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us the most important book in the world.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Flashback Friday - Why Is It So Difficult to Live the Christian Life? - Martin Wiles

Why Is It So Difficult to Live the Christian Life?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT

Effort normally leads to success, but the battles along the way may be intense.

I suppose I never understood why I chafed any time someone told me I was wrong, that I should do something a different way, or that the quality of my work was unsatisfactory. Somewhere along my educational journey, I discovered the term Type A personality. Then I understood. I was one, and one characteristic was distaste for criticism and correction. Type A’s thrive on perfection…doing their best. When their best is called into question, they cringe. I was among the cringers. Age has tempered this trait in me, but occasionally I still find myself bristling when I’m criticized…even if it’s constructive. Read more... 

Tweetable: Do you find the Christian life difficult? 


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