Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Pick Your Battles - Martin Wiles

Pick Your Battles

God told Jehoshaphat; But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD's victory.  II Chronicles 20:17 NLT

A preacher’s son and an earring. I wondered how they’d mesh. 

“Dad, can I get my ear pierced?” My son was small when the request came. Earrings for men and boys were stylish. I had no particular convictions about him having one other than the fact I wondered how my church members would respond. I decided to avoid the battle with my son and chance one with others who might disagree with my decision. I carted him off to the local mall, found an ear-piercing pagoda, and let them poke a hole in his ear. No one made a big deal about it—other than my parents, and life was good. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you trying to fight all your battles at once? 

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Monday, November 23, 2020

The Faith Scale - Martin Wiles

Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. Deuteronomy 32:46 NLT

What I had now wouldn’t do me any good.

I come from a rich genealogical faith heritage. I can’t remember an ancestor who didn’t express some level of faith: my two great-grandmothers who lived until I reached seventeen, my grandparents—most of whom lived until I was a young adult, and my parents. Though I don’t recall it, I’m sure they read Bible stories to me when I was a young lad.

When I was five or six years old, Dad gathered me and Mom to read the Bible, not a Bible story. He skipped nothing. Including the genealogical lineages. From an early age, I learned the Bible stories that Sunday school teachers would reinforce on Sunday mornings.

But until I was nine, I had borrowed my faith from parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. At that time, I decided to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and accept me as His child. He did, but my faith remained borrowed to a great degree. I believed about the Bible—and other things—only what my father and mother believed.

Not until I went to college did I own my faith. Here I discovered that not all Christians believed the same things my father did about matters the Bible isn’t clear on. I made my own studies and came to my own conclusions, rather than adopting my professors’. 

This is what Moses challenged the new generation of Israelites to do. He would soon die because of his disobedience to God while in the wilderness. As a part of his last words to them, Moses told them to pass along God’s Word to their children. Yet, the children would have to make it their own.

At the end of time, I can’t stand before God and tell Him what wonderful parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents I had. It won’t matter—and He already knows. He won’t let me into heaven because of my family’s faith heritage. I only get in because of my faith, not on the coattails of someone else.

Faith must be adopted individually, as I did at nine years of age. No one can make the decision for us. Neither do good works enter the picture. We are responsible for passing the faith heritage down through our family lines, but each one much choose for themselves whether they’ll believe. We must own it ourselves.

Is your faith yours, or does it belong to someone else?

Prayer: Father, remind us that our faith must be individually expressed in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Tweetable: Where are you on the faith scale? 

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Chaos on the Field - Martin Wiles

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

Only one word could describe what I witnessed. Well … perhaps two or three.

My daughter’s three-year-old decided he wanted to play T-ball. I knew the game since my son had played at this age. 

My wife and I headed out one Saturday morning for our grandson’s first scrimmage. His older brother played on a nearby playground, having had no interest in playing T-ball or watching his brother. Both teams gathered at a far corner of the field for team pictures. Then, the coaches herded them across the field and to their respective dugouts. Of course, most of the boys had no idea what a dugout was, so the coach had to point the way.

Once both teams had gathered up, our grandson’s coaches brought the team onto the field and lined them up across the infield. The other team batted first. That’s when the one word came to mind: chaos. When the batter hit the ball, only two little boys—my grandson not one of them—went after it, picked it up, and tried to outrun the batter to first base. Our grandson looked on and smiled at those who did what they were supposed to do. He had a good time standing there with glove on hand. One other little tike played in the red clay.

When my grandson’s team batted, things changed little. Our grandson hit the ball, but the coach had to tell him to run to first base—and later, second, third, and home. He liked looking back at the coach instead of in the direction he was running. Some headed for third base after hitting the ball, and others ran home after tagging second base. But chaos on the field brought a good laugh from everyone in the stands.

Sometimes, when I look at world events, the world doesn’t appear much different than my grandson’s T-ball game: chaotic. Evil abounds. People ignore orders. Many don’t seem to know … or care where they are headed. Some take shortcuts. Others do their own thing.

My faith helps me remember that appearances are sometimes deceptive. God is a God of order and peace, and behind the scenes of the apparent chaos He is working to carry out His plan. Troubles happen—in the world and in our lives—but God works them all out for our good and His glory. Order does exist among the apparent disorder.

When things seem out of control—taking your peace in the process—trust the One who orders it all and who can give you peace.

Prayer: Father, we thank You for the peace You give in the midst of life’s turmoil. 

Tweetable: Does your life seem chaotic?  

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Flashback Friday - What Speech Says - Martin Wiles

What Speech Says

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 NLT

The tongue has no eraser, and mine just wrote a gang of words I wished I could expunge. 

I was new to the local town, having temporarily moved back in with my parents while I searched for employment. One of the area’s popular attractions on Saturday morning was the local flea market. Folks would gather to shop and commune with friends. On this particular Saturday, Mom had rented a booth to dispose of some odds and ends. Since Dad wasn’t the flea market variety, she chose me as her assistant. As we pulled up to our assigned booth and began unloading our wares, I noticed the neighboring seller unloading some of his treasures on one of our tables. When I confronted him, he mouthed something about that being his table. I jawed some unmentionables right back at him, informing him the table was ours. Mom was upset and embarrassed—not because of his using one of our tables but because he was a church member that I’d just cursed out. When she informed me, I looked for the eraser. Read more...

Tweetable: What does your speech say to others about you? 

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

What’s That Smell? - Martin Wiles

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15 NLT

I felt the need to explain the smell to his teacher.

My daughter believes in essential oils. She burns them in her house, sprays them on herself and her two boys during mosquito season, and rubs them on all three of them when they come down with a sickness.

Spring had sprung, and so had the pollen count. As I opened my daughter’s car door to get her youngest child (He attends the school where I teach.), a pungent smell hit me.

“What in the world is that smell?” I asked. “It smells like insecticide.”

“Essential oils,” she answered.

“Did you spray him with it?”

“Yes, for his stuffy nose,” she said.

I halfway held my breath as I walked him to my class. What would I tell his teacher? I had to say something. She’d think he hadn’t had a bath in a while—or had been playing in something he shouldn’t have. When I explained his smell, she laughed. Obviously, my grandson wasn’t the only one who’d been doused with smelly things.

Paul mentioned another type of smell—the one Christ-believers have, or at least should have. A fragrance that has two effects on people. Those who believe with us enjoy the fragrance, but those who refuse to believe can’t stand it. They may even persecute us because we smell as we do.

The fragrance has nothing to do with an actual smell, but concerns what people see in us. A smell they detect with their eyes. As they watch our actions, they pick up our odor. The odor of forgiveness. We don’t hold grudges or seek revenge when wronged. The smell of kindness. We go out of our way to help someone else, even when it means inconveniencing ourselves. We exhibit the smell of a giving nature. We open our hands when it would be easier to keep them tightly squeezed shut. We smell good to them by smelling the opposite of what they are accustomed to.

The world can be a terrible place. By exhibiting godly traits which are the opposite of the norm, we place a pleasant smell in the air that God will use to draw others to Himself.

What kind of smell are you putting off for those around you?

Prayer: Father, help us smell good to others. May they see You through our actions and attitudes.

Tweetable: What type of smell are you emitting? 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Life Is like a Pack of Pansies - Martin Wiles

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Philippians 4:12 NLT

Forest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” For us, life was like a pack of pansies.

Each year, after the hot temperatures of summer had passed, my wife and I would visit a local retailer to buy pansies. And each year we would watch as the pansies looked the same in the spring as they had when we planted them in the fall.

One year, we decided to visit a local greenhouse that had a reputation for healthier plants. We bought a flat, planted them in pots, and watched them blossom and grow during the winter. When spring arrived, our pots overflowed with beautiful pansies.

Since the pansies had done so well, we decided to buy them from the same greenhouse the next year. But that year, we were disappointed. Throughout the fall and winter months, they just sat in the pots, looking the same as they did when we first planted them. When spring arrived, they were smaller than when we had planted them and were even decorated with some dead leaves.

Forest didn’t know what kind of chocolates he would get in life; we never know what kind of pansies we’re going to get either.

Paul’s life mimicked chocolates and pansies. He never knew what was coming as he marched across his world, spreading the love of Jesus Christ. Some accepted, grew spiritually, and continued spreading the good news. Others rejected his message, and still others attempted to kill him.

One thing Paul never did was question God’s goodness. Neither should we when the unproductive or difficult times come. God remains good all the time, whether or not the events of our life seem good. He works behind the scenes in ways we can’t observe, and He always does so with love, His glory, and our best in mind.

Often, the periods when it seems nothing is happening in our lives—or when it appears that everything is going wrong—are the times when God is preparing us for a new mission, which may require more spiritual fortitude on our part.

In the good and in the not-so-good times—when the pansies don’t grow and the piece of chocolate is nasty—lean on God and let Him complete His work in your life.

Prayer: Father, we trust You to guide us through each circumstance of life.

Tweetable: Is your life like a pack of pansies? 

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Waiting Wisely - Martin Wiles

Waiting Wisely

When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:3 NLT

For a young middle schooler, the expectancy was almost unbearable. 

In 1970, my father accepted the responsibilities of pastoring a church in Jackson, Tennessee. We packed and headed 14 hours away from the only state I’d ever lived in. Leaving grandparents and great grandparents—as well as cousins, aunts, and uncles, wasn’t easy for a young boy. But summer finally arrived, and with it the appearance of my paternal grandmother. After a short visit, I’d leave with her to spend an entire summer being spoiled by my favorite grandparents and also earn money helping my grandfather on the ice cream truck. The thought of her impending arrival and my imminent departure stirred excitement in this pre-teen’s otherwise boring life. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you waiting wisely...or just waiting? 

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