Friday, July 12, 2024

Worth the Cost - Martin Wiles

worth the cost
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

We saw the top, but wanted to see the bottom.

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the stay-at-home or work order, made my wife and I pen sick. We looked for an outing that authorities allowed. Sure enough, hiking qualified—as long as we could find an open trail. But since we had just hiked two days prior, we needed a trail that accommodated our aching backs and knees. Pig Pen Falls and Lick Log Falls seemed to fit the bill since both rested on the same trail and were rated easy. 

My wife, I, another couple, and two of our grandchildren set out early one morning, looking forward to a picnic lunch and cool spring weather. The only part I wasn’t sure of was the last couple of miles to the trailhead. The directions said we had to lumber down a gravel road. We had just purchased a new van. We had previously traveled on mountain gravel roads and knew how unpredictable they were: narrow, dusty, gulleyed. But we wanted to hike, so we had no alternative. 

Our destination was Mountain Rest, South Carolina, just above Oconee State Park. The last leg of our journey took us down Nicholson Ford Road, a gravel road that started narrow but then widened. Maybe we were okay after all. 

We discovered a packed house when we reached the end and the trailhead. We weren’t the only ones tired of being home. I squeezed the van into the only remaining spot, and we donned our gear. Excitement spread across the grandboys’ faces as they anticipated letting out their energy and seeing waterfalls. 

Whoever rated the trail got it right. The only thing that slowed us down was roots. We began on the Foothills Trail for around one-half mile, then intersected with the Chattooga Trail. Just to the left lay Pig Pen Falls. A large rock made a nice resting and picture-taking spot, and my wife—the picture taker in the bunch—took advantage of the photo ops. 

During our rest stop, we met an emergency responder we had seen two days before. We asked about Lick Log Falls and smiled when she told us it was only five minutes down the trail. We had read it cascaded down a three-tier rock face. The upper two we could see from the trail, but the bottom tier required scaling down the mountain. I wasn’t sure our young grandsons—or I—could master it. 

Sure enough, we passed the top of the falls within five minutes. A little farther, and we saw the first two tiers. A few yards farther, we came to the descent trail—a steep trail littered with roots and fallen trees. An older couple approached. They had descended before, seen the falls’ bottom tier, and considered the view worth the trip down. We asked if the boys could handle it. They thought so. My wife didn’t. I did. As we began our descent, she stood on the trail and cried—a place she stayed until we returned. 

The sight from the bottom trumped the cost of all the aches and pains the descent cost me. I witnessed the bottom tier of the falls, took beautiful photos of them and the Chattooga River, and let the boys play in the sandy beach area. The climb back up to the trail challenged us more than the descent, but my wife’s smiling face and tear-stained cheeks greeted us. 

Jesus spoke of a greater cost than a trip down a mountain to see gorgeous waterfalls. His entailed taking up a cross—something He knew lay in His future and something He knew involved pain. Only His pain would be greater than anyone who hung on a cross. His entailed the pain of spikes and the pain of the world’s sins. 

Our cross probably won’t be literal as Jesus’ was. The cost varies. For some, it might only involve being made fun of. For others, it might include jail and even death. But there is a cost. Our journey with Christ involves times of ease, times of difficulty, and times somewhere in between.

Regardless of the cost, the decision to follow Him is worth whatever it costs. And whatever the price, it won’t compare to the cost Jesus paid for us on the cross as He took our sins upon Himself. Anything worth doing or having is worth paying something for—and salvation is no different. Although salvation comes by grace and costs us nothing, we must willingly pay the price of serving the one who served us. And in the service lies a mixture of sacrifice, joy, and pain. 

No greater joy exists than following the One who gave His all for us. Take up the cross, and be willing to pay the price. The beauty, in the end, will be worth anything you pay. 

Father, make me willing and eager to pay the cost of following You. 

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Seeing Dimly - Martin Wiles

seeing dimly
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV

Things were clouding over, and I was getting nervous.

My eyesight had been getting worse. Around mid-life, I heard the optometrist pronounce that I was a good candidate for glaucoma, so he began treating me with drops. I also discovered I had dry-eye disease, which required more drops. 

Things cleared up, temporarily. One month into my new venture, the vision in my left eye clouded over. Blurriness reigned, and I got more nervous by the day. My wife called the doctor and scheduled an appointment. Fortunately, it was only pink eye.

I’ve been seeing things dimly since I was about ten years old. Without glasses, I see more dimly now than then, and I have no hope my eyes will improve. Paul saw dimly as well. Scholars conjecture that he may have had poor eyesight, but the sight he speaks of here is spiritual.

Though we see dimly, Jesus, as God’s representative on earth—and God in the flesh--could see clearly. When He cleared the Court of the Gentiles of merchants who were cheating worshipers, he could see their deception and how they prevented Gentiles from worshiping. When Nicodemus came with questions, Jesus saw he needed a new birth. When the disciples marveled over the grandeur of the Temple, Jesus saw its coming destruction.

I’ve resigned that my eyesight will never improve. Glasses will ornament my face until I die. But though my eyesight will never be 20/20 physically, I can see 20/20—or at least close to it--spiritually.

Like those who produce plays or movies, God first wrote the final chapter of our lives. The plan is in place; we must simply consult Him on how to get there. Nor is God out to conceal the plan. We can know His plan and trust that it’s good. He wants us to live a whole life, and accomplishing His purpose is the only way. He’ll gladly allow us to see His plan clearly if we ask.

Don’t wonder why you’re here. God has a purpose for you. Seek it out through prayer and meditation on His Word. He’ll be happy to reveal it to you.

Father, I ask You to show me Your purpose and plan for my life. 

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time - Martin Wiles

wrong place at the wrong time
Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. Mark 14:68 NLT

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have life-altering effects.

As I backed out of the driveway, I saw a blur in my rearview mirror. Knowing a stop sign was only fifty feet away, I stopped and quickly turned my head. I knew the car didn’t see the stop sign. I also knew the chances of a crash were high.

Sure enough, another car approached the intersection from a different direction. What took only a few seconds seemed like an eternity. The car that ran the stop sign T-boned the other vehicle perfectly, causing every glass in the car to explode.

Like both these drivers, I’ve unintentionally been at the wrong place at the wrong time—or at least something I’ve owned has. My portable cassette tape player was once in the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone lifted it. My car was once in the wrong place, too, and someone busted the back glass looking for something they didn’t find.

Peter was at the wrong place at the wrong time—but intentionally. He should have stood near Jesus, not with those who were probably His enemies. Though Peter temporarily stood up for Jesus when the mob arrested him, he quickly turned tail like the other disciples. When questioned several times about his connection with Jesus, he denied knowing him.

Finding ourselves unintentionally in the wrong place at the wrong time is an inevitable part of living. In those times, we must trust God for protection and wisdom in proceeding. Intentionally placing ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time is a different story. Several things can happen when we do, and Peter experienced most of them. We can fall into sin, our witness can be silenced, Satan may cause us to doubt our salvation, we can confuse others about Christianity, we can distort other’s views of sin, we can end up in unhealthy relationships, and we can make unwise decisions. But ensuring we’re at the right place at the right time will reverse all of the above.

Ask God for wisdom so you will not intentionally find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Father, guide my steps so I might always be where You want me to be. 

 If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 

I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Barbecue Pulled Pork

 

barbecue pulled pork
 
Ingredients
1 10 lb. Boston butt

Butt Rub Seasoning

Directions

Rub Butt rub over the entire roast.

Place in the crock pot.

Fill 3/4s full with water.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Pull apart.

Serve with your favorite barbeque sauce or mix sauce in meat.

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Friday, July 5, 2024

When Fear Rules - Martin Wiles

when fear rules
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

All around, I witnessed evidence of fear.

“I can’t find eggs for under four dollars a dozen, and I’m not gonna pay that,” one of my church members said as we talked on the phone. “Nor can I find any toilet paper.”

The COVID-19 pandemic made people act in weird—even illogical—ways. Hoarding toilet paper was one of them. After a while, this practice became a joke and the topic of many memes on Facebook and Instagram. I laughed as I looked at them--but not when I, like my friend, went to store after store and couldn’t find any toilet paper. Or when I had to get to the store as soon as they opened to purchase only one pack after stores put a limit on how many packs a customer could buy.

“Eggs are just over a dollar a dozen at Food Lion,” I told my friend, “and they do have toilet paper early in the morning.” He told me he wasn’t an early riser, so I knew why he couldn’t find any.

“Do you want us to bring you some Sunday morning when we come to church?” Even though we were only live-streaming, we went to church to record the sermon. 

He said, “Yes,” and I could hear the relief in his voice. He was running low on toilet paper. Early the following day, my wife and I headed to the grocery store and made his purchases and some of our own.

Not long after our conversation with this church member, another texted my wife, “Could you see if you can find me some bread-making flour and packs of yeast? The shelves here are empty.” She lived in the same small town as our other friend.

My wife said she would, and we added those items to the list. But when we went to the grocery store early that morning, we had no luck with her items. She wasn’t the only one who had turned to making homemade bread since the shelves were often emptied of manufactured bread.

I had never experienced what the pandemic did to people. Fear and anxiety ruled, and worry followed in their footsteps. Stores couldn’t keep toilet paper on the shelves, even though diarrhea was not a symptom of the virus. Other paper products disappeared as well, as did hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and Clorox. Even though they should have already had things hoarded, hoarders emerged from the woodwork and added to their stash. Meat disappeared from meat counters.

Getting what we needed required early trips to the grocery store, multiple trips to the grocery store, or multiple trips to many different stores. By the time stores finally caught on and limited purchases of certain items, it was too late. The hoarders had hoarded.

Listening to the news didn’t help. The President and his COVID Task Force came on the air almost daily, reminding me of President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats during the Great Depression. And once a week, the governor of our state gave local updates and changes.

Initially, I let the hoarders do the fearing and worrying, but the more I listened to the news, the more I felt fear creeping into my life. Scenes of people fighting over toilet paper didn’t help--nor did seeing hundreds of people waiting at food pantries, hearing about the rising number of unemployed, or watching the military build field hospitals. Things that reminded me of war times. And we were in a war, just not with an observable enemy.

To top things off, the South witnessed a string of deadly tornadoes roar through—tornadoes that stayed on the ground for miles at a time, destroying homes and businesses and taking lives. Talking to my cousin, who’s a first responder, didn’t help. She told me about a little girl impaled on a tree.

When fear rules, anxiety and worry aren’t far behind. But Paul tells us God hasn’t given those things. Instead, He sends a sound mind.

Fear comes in two varieties: the “I’m afraid of” type and the “respect” type. The first is healthy if it relates to dangerous situations I’m trying to avoid or remove myself from. But if the things I fear are imaginary—things that might happen but haven’t—and those things control me, leading me to live in a constant state of fear, I then live in an unhealthy state of mind. The respect type of fear is good, especially concerning God. He has life and death power over me. I respect and love him because he’s my God and has provided for my forgiveness.

When the correct type of fear rules our lives, we won’t worry, fear, or be anxious. God controls all our tomorrows. He knows what we need, and just as he cares for His creation and creatures, he’ll care for us. When we trust him with all situations and circumstances, He’ll remove our anxieties and give us a peace we can’t explain. On top of it all, he’ll provide us with a sound mind that cannot co-exist with fear.

Letting the wrong kind of fear rule our lives leads to hoarding, manipulating, killing, and selfish acts. The right type of fear, however, leads us to selfless living where we trust God and love our neighbors.

Don’t let the wrong kind of fear rule your life.

Father, I give my fears to you and ask that you send me your peace. 

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Loving the Right Things - Martin Wiles

loving the right things
Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love the Father in you. 1 John 2:15 NLT

Growing up, I never doubted what my parents loved.

First and foremost, Dad was a pastor, so he loved doing what made him good at it. He spent hours in his office at home and church studying the Bible, reading commentaries, praying, and listening to God.

Dad also enjoyed hobbies, including squirrel hunting. As soon as I was old enough, he bought me a small shotgun, and we began hunting. Several Saturdays during the month, we found ourselves in the woods waiting for the tree runners to appear.

Later in life, Dad took up woodworking. By his death, he had become very proficient at it. He built items for his children and grandchildren. He even left Mom with an oak bedroom set that still adorns her room.

Mom also demonstrated what she loved: music. In every church my father pastored, she led the music. If she didn’t when he first went to the church, she did soon after that. It wasn’t uncommon to find her at the piano on Saturday nights practicing what she or the choir would sing on Sundays.

John cautioned first-century Christians to make what they loved evident. He instructed them not to love the evil world or its things but rather God and the things he loved.

My actions shout my priorities. They shouldn’t reflect a love for the evil world but only the world minus all its evil manifestations. I can love nature but shouldn’t worship it—only its Creator. I can love animals but not at the expense of other humans—or even to the degree where I place them on the same scale as another human being.

The evil world only offers physical pleasure but can’t penetrate our spiritual frame or satisfy our deepest needs. Only God can dwell there. God created every person for a connection to the Holy and to the holy things he represents. Only when we love him and what he loves can we be all he created us to be. Things may bring temporal enjoyment, but they’ll never bring eternal satisfaction.

Let God teach you to love the things he loves—the pure, lovely, true, honorable, right, excellent, and worthy of praise things.

Father, create in me a love for those things you love so that I can enjoy living life to the fullest.

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Baking a Religious Cake - Martin Wiles

baking a religious cake
Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the instructions of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local altars. 1 Kings 3:3 NLT

Separately, the ingredients would be distasteful, but together, they are sumptuous.

Of all the types of cakes my wife cooks, pound cake is my favorite. She invests hours to make sure it turns out just right, blending various ingredients together at certain points rather than all together at once.

Eggs, milk, flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and flavoring. But of all the ingredients, milk is the only one I would consume by itself. Eggs would have to be cooked, flour and butter would have to be basted, and sugar and flavoring would have to be added to something else.

Secularism is the attempt to separate government and those who represent it from religion and religious institutions. We might term it separation of church and state, but it’s an attempt to compartmentalize life.

King Solomon went to the other extreme. He worshipped God but also at the local altars, which means he pandered after the local gods. Many people thought this was necessary for their crops and families to produce abundantly. Later, Solomon would even marry unbelieving women from other nations to form political alliances.

Neither secularism in the present nor King Solomon in the past got it right. The Bible speaks of separation and conjoining. If I compartmentalize my life, I miss what God wants me to do. I won’t be a light shining into a sin-darkened world, but neither will I believe my secular life has any bearing on my worship of God.

God’s overarching purpose is to blend the various ingredients of our lives to form us into His Son’s image. God created us in his image—an image, albeit, that sin has wrecked. Through forgiveness of our sins and submissiveness on our part to His plan, God blends our lives’ religious and secular ingredients to make us little Christs. While we don’t melt into or become Christ—as butter does into the other cake ingredients--we should become like Him in word, action, and thought.

If you have been guilty of trying to separate your life’s secular and religious ingredients, blend them to produce a tasteful lifestyle that will impact others for Christ.

Father, help me understand that my walk with you relates to and should impact every area of my life. 

If you enjoyed this devotion, please share it with your friends. 

 


I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.