Wednesday, July 24, 2024

God’s Plunder Room - Martin Wiles

God's plunder room
My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live in Egypt. Deuteronomy 26:5 NLT

We called it the plunder room because that’s what we did there.

My maternal grandmother’s home had a large room built on the back—a room once a bedroom for a father who stayed with them. Sometime after that relative died, my grandfather tore away a part of the large farmhouse’s back porch, but he left what we called the plunder room.

My cousin and I often spent time there, sorting through the many discarded items to see if we could use anything as we tried to entertain ourselves on the farm. Technology hadn’t inundated our lives. Restlessness drove us there when we had nothing else particular to do.

Many of the Middle Eastern biblical characters were nomadic. Various occurrences caused them to change locations. For Jacob, it was learning his youngest son, Joseph, wasn’t dead after all. A desire to see him and escape the famine that ravaged his land made him leave his homeland and travel to Egypt, where his descendants eventually spent four hundred years in slavery.

Restlessness is a taxing feeling. As a teen and even a young adult, I felt it hanging over my head more than once. The desire to get away … to escape. I couldn’t pinpoint any reason; I just wanted to leave. Hop on an empty railroad box car and see where it took me. Walk a power line and see where it led.

Looking back, I suppose my running from God caused my restlessness. I knew what he wanted from me, but my lifestyle warred against it like water against oil. Only when I stopped plundering in the wrong places and with the wrong people did I finally settle down.

I still periodically fight the restless spirit—the desire to return to what once was. Paul calls this battling the flesh, the part of us that wants to rebel against God and all we know to be right.

God wants us to plunder in his plunder room. Rather than discarded valueless items, God’s plunder room holds his purpose and plan. It houses the strength to do his work. He doesn’t want us to live aimlessly and purposelessly but to discover and follow his plan diligently.

Rather than plundering aimlessly, plunder around in God’s plunder room. There, you will find his plan and purpose for you.

Father, guide me to pursue those things of spiritual value that will enable me to accomplish your will. 

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Monday, July 22, 2024

Walk the Path - Martin Wiles

walk the path
Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Proverbs 4:26 NLT

Though once clear and distinct, the path has now disappeared.

Paths vary in length and purpose. The Appalachian Trail marches over two thousand miles of the roughest terrain in the Eastern United States and is traversed by thousands yearly. I’ve walked parts of it. The Foothills Trail meanders some eighty miles along the most remote mountainous areas of the North Carolina-South Carolina border. I’ve walked all of it.

But there was another path—one that connected my maternal grandparents’ home with my aunt and uncle’s. In comparison, not many people walked it, but thousands of footprints kept it well-worn. Footprints that represented numerous trips for various purposes: to eat a meal, to spend the night, to ask a question, to have a glass of Southern sweet tea, to borrow a cup of sugar, to go fishing, to go hunting, to play in the hog pen.

In 1991, one terminus of the path vanished when my grandmother died. Then, in 2015, the other terminus moved when my aunt died. 

On a final trip to see my aunt before her final trip, I noticed the path had vanished. What was once well-worn was now grass-covered. The last time anyone walked it was 1991. There was no reason. Strangers had bought and moved into my grandparents’ home. Exactly how long it was after people stopped walking the path that it disappeared, I’m not sure. But eventually, the last sprig of grass snaked over the final bare spot, and it was gone—never to be seen or walked again.

For me, this path between the two homes led to family, fellowship, love, fun, and safety. Other paths have various purposes. The one we must walk to Jesus represents forgiveness and eternal life with the God who loves us. As we walk it, spiritual growth should take place.

Paths can also lead to new friendships and love relationships—to happiness and contentment. And, of course, some paths—those that are damaging to us spiritually, emotionally, or physically—should be left to grow over, like the one between my relatives’ homes.

Consider the paths you’re walking. Where are they taking you and why? Then, walk the path your Creator planned for you.

Father, guide me to the path that leads me to You and then to the path of loving others. 

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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Bird Dogs

 




Ingredients
FRIED CHICKEN STRIPS (COOKED)

HOT DOG BUNS

BACON SLICES (COOKED)

SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE 

HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING

Directions
PLACE CHICKEN IN BUNS. 

ADD BACON AND CHEESE.

DRIZZLE HONEY MUSTARD. 

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Friday, July 19, 2024

In the Pit - Martin Wiles

in the pit
Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. Genesis 37:24 NLT

Only some qualify for the pit.

I once was a NASCAR fan. Although I only attended a few races, I watched many on television. The drivers intrigued me—the training they had to endure, the car’s heat, the inconveniences of hours of racing, the dangers—but the pit crew interested me more. I loved watching the cars roll into the pit area and seeing the crew members swarm the vehicle. One slid across the hood of the car and changed the tires on the opposite side of the car. Another took the opposite side. One popped the hood and made a quick check. Another reached over the tire changer with a long-handle brush and cleaned the windshield. Still, another manhandled a large gas can and shoved the funnel into the car’s fuel tank. Top-level pit crews could get everything done in as little as eleven seconds, helping the driver maintain his spot in the race.

I assumed pit crew members were master mechanics. Wrong. At least in most instances. Decades ago, pit crew coaches tried to turn trained mechanics into pit crew members. That seemed to be the logical thing to do since mechanics knew mechanics. But their efforts didn’t work. Mechanics may have known the nuts and bolts of the job, but most didn’t have the skill, strength, and agility needed to work on a pit crew. They were not performers, and the pit crew required people who could show out. Athletes fit that bill, so coaches began hiring and teaching athletes to be mechanics.

Pitting a car in record time—a time that takes a pit crew to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—takes years of work. In one survey, where thirty-three pit crew members responded, nearly three-fourths had participated in sports. 

Not everyone would enjoy pit life. Joseph didn’t. However, he was partly responsible for putting himself in the pit. But God was also involved in this process. Joseph’s two dreams let him know he would rule over his family one day. His mistake came in blabbing that to his brothers, who already hated him because their father showed Joseph partiality. And because Joseph had a habit of reporting their bad behavior to their father. A tattle tale.

Joseph’s pits later transformed into other types: slavery, false accusations, and prison. These he had no control over. Only God did. It wasn’t until Joseph had been elevated to ruler over all of Egypt and saved his family from dying of starvation that he could look back and see how God had worked through all of his pits.

I’ve endured quite a few pits in my lifetime as well. Some I groveled in because I made bad decisions. Others, I mired in because of someone else’s decisions and actions. Either way, I found myself in pits I didn’t enjoy. Being there, however, did give me time to reflect.

When in a pit, asking “Why am I here?” is a good starting point. If sin has put us there, the proper response is confession and repentance. God may then move us out of the pit or let us stay there a little longer so that we learn our lesson and don’t repeat the same wrong moves in the future. If others’ decisions have put us there, we may have no control over the situation. We have to wait it out.

Although we might not consider it, God can put us in pits even if we haven’t sinned—as long as the situation doesn’t violate His holy nature. He puts us there to teach us essential lessons or prepare us to accomplish His future plan. Moses’ pit was the backside of desert tending flocks. Paul’s appeared in the form of jail, beatings, shipwreck, misunderstanding, and a whole list of other things. David’s involved betrayal by one of his sons.  

We need patience and attentiveness regardless of why we’re in the pit. Trust also weighs in. We can trust God to do what’s right even when the pit appears wrong. God wants us to trust His wisdom, guidance, and timing. And when the time is right, God will lift us from the pit and restore us.

Ask God what He wants to teach you when you find yourself in a pit.

Father, I trust You to deliver me from my pits and teach me vital lessons while I’m there. 

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Surviving the Church: How to Emerge Alive and Well, in eBook or paperback. If you have been hurt by the church or are struggling with too much church, this book is for you. Click on the title above to order your copy today. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Protected from Self - Martin Wiles

protected from self
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14 NLT

On any given day, stress levels can escalate.

I work well under pressure but don’t handle pressure well. I feel pressured when I’m behind on grading assignments I’ve given students. Or when the internet acts up. Intermittent downtime means more time is required to do the work I’m required to do—if I can do it at all. My students can’t access their online books or complete their online exercises. More than once, students have heard me grunt at the computer.

While I may blame my stress level on the computer, the internet, or the demands of my profession—or just plain life—I am the source. My attitude toward these or other aggravating circumstances swells my stress level. However, circumstances or people can only stretch my stress level if I allow them to.

The source of any sinful actions or thoughts is identical. James says my biggest problem is me—not others or even Satan. I am my worst enemy. On the other hand, he isn’t teaching that Satan or his demonic companions are figments of religious imagination.

We are all born with a sinful nature. When we follow Christ, He replaces it with a new nature but doesn’t remove the “flesh.” Flesh isn’t a reference to skin but to the part of us that still wants to act and think as we did before we met Christ. Satan temps through our flesh, but the flesh is ours, making us responsible. We need protection from ourselves.

The devil can’t make us do anything. The Spirit in believers is greater than the one (Satan) in the world. When we feed our flesh and new nature with God things, we lessen the chances we’re going to cause problems. Having God’s Word hidden in our hearts gives us a source to run to when our flesh acts up. Remaining in a constant attitude of prayer reminds us God is always present to provide us with wisdom and strength to overcome what Satan—or ourselves—throws at us.

Putting on the whole armor of God protects us from Satan’s attacks. Tending to our inner selves protects us from ourselves.

Father, I ask that You give me an inner desire to obey You rather than the temptations of Satan or the flesh.

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Monday, July 15, 2024

Life on Loan - Martin Wiles

Life on Loan
But God said to him, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?” Luke 12:20 NLT

A day’s plans can change in a moment.

Since we were a one-car family, my wife normally drove me to work. On one particular day, she let me drive. As I attempted to put the car in reverse, I heard a snap and then noticed the gear shift didn’t look quite right. It hung limply against the steering column. Within a couple of hours, a tow truck had taken it to the local Ford dealership, and I had called my mom to see if we could borrow her car.

I never questioned who owned the car I would temporarily drive. I didn’t treat it like mine because I knew I had to return it. I was more careful than usual with my driving and kept the inside and outside as clean as possible. Mom never said, “You can’t have this car,” but she didn’t have to. I knew it was on loan.

The rich fool forgot his life was on loan. He had a fertile farm that produced an abundant crop. He had money to build larger storage buildings to accommodate the overflow. He planned to sit back and enjoy life’s pleasures—until God interrupted his plans and reminded him his life wasn’t his own. 

While I don’t have the means to do anything I desire, adopting the same mindset as the rich fool comes easily. Life was about him and no one else. But life isn’t all about me. God loaned it to me. He created me in my mother’s womb and had a plan in place before my birth. One day, God will call for full repayment of the loan. I’ll stand before my Creator to give an account of how well I’ve cared for what He entrusted to me. Did I keep the inside and outside clean? Did I treat it selfishly or use it to do His work? Did I live like I thought I’d never have to return it to Him?

Our gifts, talents, and opportunities are not inherent or developed by chance. God has ingrained and loaned them.

Make sure you are using well what God has entrusted to you. One day, He’ll call for full repayment.

Father, may I always remember my life is on loan from You. 

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Surviving the Church: How to Emerge Alive and Well, in eBook or paperback. If you have been hurt by the church or are struggling with too much church, this book is for you. Click on the title above to order your copy today. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Great Northern Beans and Smoked Sausage

 


Ingredients

1 pound dried Great Northern beans

1 pack of Hillshire (or brand of your choice) skinless smoked sausage

1 large Vidalia onion

salt and pepper

Directions

Separate out any broken beans.

(optional) Soak in cold water overnight.

Slice smoked sausage.

Cut onion in half.

Place all ingredients in crockpot, and fill half full with water. 

Cook on high for 2 hours and then on low for 2 hours or until beans are soft. 

Serve and enjoy. 

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