Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Is It Possible to Love Everyone? - Martin Wiles

Is It Possible to Love Everyone?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

She had once been a good friend, but for a time she was my enemy.

Four years after becoming her pastor, I noticed our relationship changed from friendly to unfriendly…at her request. The church’s governing body made a decision affecting her position in the church. A decision that was actually for her protection and the church’s, but she didn’t view it that way. They were questioning her integrity. And though I only consented to the decision, I became her target. I knew we were enemies when I noticed every Sunday that she was reading her Bible while I preached. Happily, a couple of years later we were friends again. Read more...

Tweetable: Can you love everyone? 


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Monday, May 25, 2020

Falling to Success - Martin Wiles


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NLT

He came in and fell his way to success.

Jimmy was my favorite cousin—second cousin actually—and he was also my grandmother’s favorite nephew. He belonged to her sister, the one who died much too young from cancer they probably could have cured now.

Since this set of grandparents kept me much of the time when I was young, I saw Jimmy often. He loved to see my grandmother, his favorite aunt, and especially to get a couple of glasses of her famous sweet tea—two cups of sugar per gallon.

My grandmother’s favorite sitting spot was the end of her couch by the end table. Jimmy would knock at the back door, my grandfather would let him in, and he would walk through the kitchen and hall and into the living room.

That’s when the action began. After speaking to my grandmother, he strolled across the living room floor to get a hug, but just before he reached her, he buckled his legs and pretended to fall into her lap. He was a comic, and this was only one of his many shenanigans, but he fell his way into what he wanted: a hug.

I thought about his trick lately and how much truth inhabits it. Success never comes without fallings along the way—usually many of them. James told early believers their success in living the Christian life would only come through persecution. Not an inviting way to achieve fame. Through persecution, the early church blossomed, and through pain the believers would develop patience.

Jesus defined success as loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then others as myself. I must travel many side roads to reach that point. A regular pattern of taking up the spiritual disciplines being one of them—Bible study, prayer, meditation, worship, fellowship with other believers, evangelism. All of which require time, and in a busy world this means taking the initiative and planning.

While on the journey, we’ll fall—into temptation, into depression, into disappointment, into frustration, into unhealthy relationships, into busyness, and into many other things. But when we respond with faith and trust, these falls will lead to our eventual success. With faith, we’ll get up and trust God to lead us on to His goal for our lives.

Don’t let the falls of life lead you away from God’s goal for you: salvation and sanctification. Rather, let the falls propel you toward His desired end.

Prayer: Father, take the falls of our lives and make something beautiful from them.



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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Don’t Put Off until Tomorrow - Martin Wiles


Series: 3 Unforgettable Lessons Learned from Dad

Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. Proverbs 13:4 NLT

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

I heard the statement numerous times from dad. I’m not sure if he heard this from his parents—they were like second parents to me, and I never heard them say it—but if he didn’t, he must have picked it up from somewhere else. As the first-born child, this was another part of his effort to teach me responsibility. I suppose, along life’s way, he had learned some lessons about procrastination—a fancy word for not putting off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Dad pastored churches and in all of them had to unlock the doors on Sunday mornings. So he arrived early. Thirty minutes to be exact. Mom came later. She was never ready. His logic? He needed to leave early just in case something happened along the way. You never knew when things might happen. Traffic jams, wrecks, flat tires, etc.

My personality made learning this lesson easy. When I began working, I showed up thirty minutes early—sometimes earlier. Something might happen along the way, and I wanted to be ready to do my job when the time came for me to start. I’m now almost retirement age, and I still carry out the lesson. When I go to a movie, the theater, or out to eat, I always show up earlier than the starting time. If I have an appointment, I’m there early. The trouble is, I expect others to follow suit, but not everyone thinks the same as I do about procrastination.

I once taught a student who had an English project due on a Monday. A project she had known about since the first day of school when I gave her the syllabus. The Friday before it was due, she wanted more information and explanation. I refused. I wanted to teach her the lesson Dad had taught me: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” She didn’t appreciate my effort.

The wisest man who ever lived said something similar: If you put off working, you won’t prosper. Nor will you have money to pay the bills or put food on the table.

Among the many things I shouldn’t put off are turning my life over to Christ, loving my spouse and children, being kind, sharing God’s love, praying, reading God’s Word, loving others, forgiving others, and working hard. I think I’ll do those today.

What are you putting off that you shouldn’t?

Prayer: Father, prompt us to do today those things we should.



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Friday, May 22, 2020

Flashback Friday - If I Died Today, Would I Go to Heaven? - Martin Wiles

If I Died Today, Would I Go to Heaven?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

Middle School was a difficult period for me. Many things I’d never faced cropped up. Peer pressure grew intense. Pressures to cheat, curse, lie, and jump over other firmly ingrained moral codes pulled at me. Most troubling was my sudden fear of death. I had trusted Christ as my Savior several years earlier, yet this haunting horror seemed to hover over me daily. My only consolation was knowing I’d be safe in heaven if I died. I had made the necessary arrangements. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you on the way to heaven? 

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Keep a Good Record - Martin Wiles


Series: 3 Unforgettable Lessons Learned from Dad

Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 NLT

The borrower may serve the lender, but that’s exactly what Dad wanted me to do—and at sixteen.

A firstborn child normally has many challenges—among them having parents who seem to go overboard, trying to teach them responsibility. And Dad was determined I would learn that if I learned nothing else. Years later, I appreciated all the efforts he and Mom made, but at the time I didn’t see the benefit.

One day he said, “Let’s go down to the furniture store.”

I had no idea why. That’s when Dad explained the importance of a good credit record. I wouldn’t be able to pay cash for some big-ticket items in life—such as a new car, new house, appliances. Not luxuries I’d want, but necessities I’d need. I suppose Dad assumed I wouldn’t earn an enormous salary. No one in our family history had.

A good credit record was important he said so I could one, get the money, and two, could get it at a low-interest rate. Made sense to me, so off we went. Before I knew it, I had purchased a complete solid-oak bedroom suit “on time.” Each month, I would have to send in a payment. Doing this would build my credit rating.

Dad was right. A good credit record is important. Mine stayed that way for many years until some things beyond my control ruined it. Borrowing was easy, and money came with cheap interest rates. Over the years, I saved a significant amount of money by having a healthy credit rating.

But Solomon was right, too. When I borrowed, I became a servant to the lender. They gave me the money and watched over my shoulder to make sure I paid it back—on time. If I didn’t, they’d charge me extra. And if something happened and I couldn’t pay it back, they’d turn the matter over to a collection agency who would charge me more money and harass me as well. Their action would go on my credit record and would lower my numbers, which meant that even if I could borrow in the future, I’d have to pay more interest to get the money.

Dad never encouraged me to borrow if I didn’t have too, but when I did have too, it sure was nice to have a good record.

How’s your record, and what can you do to improve it?

Prayer: Father, help us to manage our money well.



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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Living like a Stranger - Martin Wiles


So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 1 Peter 1:17 NLT

I felt like a stranger—because I was.

One of the drawbacks of growing up as a preacher’s kid was changing schools. Dad never stayed at one church long. This meant I changed schools often. I did the math one time. We averaged living in one place about one year, which meant many schools.

Kids usually avoid the new kid on the block, and they did me. The reasons varied—and all are not bad—but it’s tough on the new kid. I rarely made over a handful of friends, sometimes not that many. No need to make fast friends; I wouldn’t remain long enough to enjoy the friendship, and saying goodbye if I got close to them would hurt.

Other kids helped me feel like a stranger, and I accepted the label. I rarely felt as if I fit in, and they helped me feel like that in numerous ways: avoided, picked the very last for teams, laughed at, bullied, shunned.

According to Peter, I should feel like a stranger or “temporary resident.” Not in a bad way that causes me to withdraw from others, but with a mindset that this earth—or the earth in its present form—is not my final home. God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and I must die to experience it—unless Christ returns first.

As a stranger, holiness should characterize my lifestyle. God is holy and says His children should follow suit. Holy in our actions, thoughts, and words. Set apart. Different. Something I didn’t like as the new kid—and something I don’t always like as a believer. But God says this is a requirement for following Him.

Strangers in a new place are cautious. At a new school, I was careful about whom I talked to or made friends with. The same applied with the teachers. The same holds true in my experience with Christ. I must influence others who don’t know Christ, but I can’t let them influence me. I also must establish different priorities.

Being a stranger—in whatever way we are—isn’t always fun, but being one as a believer is a reality. It entails having fun, enduring persecution, going without some things, and attaining success—but success of a different kind.

Only God can give you the fortitude to live like a stranger in this world—and enjoy it. If you’re not already, become a stranger today.

Prayer: Father, help us to live in this world like the strangers we are.



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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Is It Fair for God to Forgive Anyone Who Asks - Martin Wiles

Is It Fair for God to Forgive Anyone Who Asks? 

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

David James O’Connor was a volunteer wrestling coach at Curtis Junior High School and later at Curtis Senior High School. Recently two young men accused him of molesting them while they were on the wrestling team at Curtis Junior High. The charges against O’Connor, however, were dropped due to a technicality. Actually, another law called the statute of limitations. Since the illegal occurrences transpired in 2005, charges would have had to have been filed by 2008. He was free to go. His release didn’t seem fair…and certainly wasn’t to the young men he molested. Read more...

Tweetable: Whom have you not forgiven? 


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