Hold My Mule

Image result for farm mule plow

Robert F. Turner wrote a story that tells of an old Farmer, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Many of the members thought the old Farmer compensated for his inability to sing by singing loud. His singing disrupted those who sat nearby and disturbed those that sat on the other side.

The looks of disapproval didn’t seem to catch the notice of the man’s joyful noise.

The men of the congregation talked amongst themselves and appointed 3 men to make the long drive to the old man’s farm and have a chat with him about his obnoxious behavior in the assembly. “Didn’t he know that we don’t act like that during worship? Didn’t he know that there are dignitaries and all sorts of important people hearing his off tune, off key, off tempo singing?” they reasoned among themselves.

Dressing in their suits and shiny shoes, which meant to make a statement about their importance, they trekked out to the old man’s farm.

As they pulled up to his run-down house, they saw him out back plowing a dusty field ‘Jeeing & Hawing” a tired old mule. They honked the horn hoping to gain his attention to avoid having to get out and mess up their nice suits. However, the old Farmer was busy wrestling that old mule.

After some time, they reluctantly pulled themselves out of their air-conditioned car and walked out to talk to him.

As they approached, the Farmer excitedly said, “Well looky here, what a pleasant surprise. It’s so wonderful you made the trip out to this old farm. What brings you ‘round?”

One of the men replied, “We’ve come to talk to you about your singing…” Before he could finish his prepared speech, the farmer interrupted. “I know what you mean. When we start singing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about my ramshackle house and the MANSION Jesus has gone to prepare for me.”

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

[John 14:2]

“When we sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about this dusty field, the sweat and toil. Then I’m reminded about how God promised there’d be no more sorrow.”

“When we start to sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but be reminded of how much sin and sadness there is in this world. I think about my wife and son and how they died together at his birth and I’m reminded how the good book says that God will wipe away all tears. I’m reminded how we’re to meet our loved ones in the air when Jesus comes back to get those that are His.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev 21:4]

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” [1Thess 4:17]

He kept on, “I just get so excited about God’s promises that I can’t help but sing praises to our King. As a matter of fact, I feel like singing right now. HOLD MY MULE.” Then the Farmer handed the reins of his old mule to the men and began to sing (perhaps he sang “No Tears in Heaven”) as the men just stood there in the middle of that dusty field.

After a few moments, the men tied up the mule and somberly walked back to their shiny new car. After several quiet minutes of the long drive back to town one of them said, “You know, I didn’t realize how beautiful that man’s voice really sounds.”

“Yes indeed,” replied another. The third man said, “If I get to heaven, I hope that God will see to it that I get to sing with that good man.”

—Spencer

Do you remember when you were without hope?

You may be thinking that this title refers to that time in your life when you had great financial distress, but it doesn’t. Or you may suppose that it refers to that time when you may have been in fear for your life at the threat of a thief or a maniac, but it doesn’t. Or you may be thinking it’s referring to the loss of a parent or a spouse, but it doesn’t.

It’s referring to Ephesians chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,… That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Too many people are hopeless, and far too many Christians are displaying hopelessness as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the concerns for this life and to forget that there’s an eternity awaiting us. Paul is saying that without Christ this life is hopeless. Without Christ this life holds no promises.

The writer of Ecclesiastes makes the same point in a very powerful way. He writes about seeking success, wealth, joy and meaningful work, but at the end of the day it’s vanity, “grasping after the wind.” He’s not suggesting that these pursuits are worthless. His conclusion is the same as Paul’s, without God in your life all these things are hopeless. His conclusion of the whole matter is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

Have you ever met someone that appeared to have nothing, no money, had physical disabilities or otherwise devoid of many of this world’s goods but was happy? I have, many times. I met a man, whom I’ve told you about, who had a disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It is a disorder in which muscle tissue and connective tissue are gradually replaced by bone (ossified), forming bone outside the skeleton. He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I loved being around him because he brightened every room he entered.

How can anyone in a condition like that be happy? It was by no cause of his own, it happened to him beginning from his youth up. He experienced daily pain because of his disease but brought joy to those around him. How did he do it, what’s the key? I’ll tell you, he looked forward to being with God. In other words, he had purpose. This is true of nearly everyone who, despite the difficulties of life, are happy. They have found purpose, meaning and a direction.

THE KEY TO TRUE JOY…PURPOSE

People with purpose are some of the happiest people on the planet. They will endure great pain & struggle because of purpose.

I read about a study where scientists tossed lab rats into a jar of water that had been placed in total darkness to see how long they would swim to survive. In total darkness it took 3 minutes before they gave up. Then they took the rats and placed them in the same conditions, but this time with a small ray of light at the top. How long did the rats struggle this time? 36 hours! When they had a light, a possibility of escape, they were able to endure.

Think about how strong we can be when we have hope, true hope that is in Christ. We can face tomorrow when we know that we’ve been reconciled to God in Christ. Paul finishes his command to remember by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

So, let us be reminded that without Christ we are without hope, without the promise of heaven, but IN CHRIST we have both the promise of heaven and hope that He will return to take us there. [Gal 3:27 put on Christ in baptism]

The next time life gets you down, and it will, look up and be reminded that God loves you, and that He sent His Son to provide you a way of escape.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11]

THAT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!

We all face frustrations in our lives. It’s a part of life for just about everyone. It comes because of unresolved problems or unfulfilled goals, desires, or needs. [These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33] The definition of frustration is;

(n) the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

Frustration is often manifested by feelings of discouragement, anger, and annoyance. Since each of these is condemned by scripture, we need to learn how to handle frustrations in our lives.

I’d like to offer a modification to the current definition of frustration:

the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because they DON’T KNOW HOW to change or achieve something.”

ANGER:  Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

DISCOURAGEMENT:  Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

The regular definition has a feeling of inability, helplessness and hopelessness. That’s just not true. We DO HAVE ABILITY to do something about those things that frustrate us. There is hope.

OVERCOMING FRUSTRATION: Below are a few ways we can minimize or even eliminate frustration using the example of evangelism.

LEARN / GROW: Ask Yourself, “What Is Working?” Arguing with folks is very counterproductive. Has anyone ever been won over by an argument? Evangelism used to be frustrating when all I ever did was use conjecture without ever opening the Bible. When we study, we can turn to passages and show them to people. Their anger with us then becomes anger at the Bible and they know they can’t do that.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 3:18]

LOOK AHEAD: Many sorrows come upon us because we just don’t pay attention. When speaking with someone about salvation they often jump around from subject to subject. Knowing ahead of time about this, we can prepare ourselves to remain on the subject at hand.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [Ephesians 5:15]

TRY AGAIN: We will face Mockers which can be very aggravating. However, it’s not new, Paul faced mockers when he preached [Acts 17:32]. What did he do? He kept on preaching, he just took those who wanted to hear and spoke with them.

So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed. [Acts 17:33-34a]

AUTOPILOT: Critics of the Lord’s church will use about 10 of the same arguments (i.e. thief on the cross, just love, the Roman road etc.). Rather then let that bother us, prepare an answer. If we’re going to get the same objections from most everyone we preach to, learn the answers. Now, instead of frustration, it makes me smile which always improves the interaction.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. [Col 4:6]

STOP FIGHTING GOD: We often believe that just because we’re having a conversation with someone that we’re doing God’s will. Not so. When we face the mockers, the disinterested or the haters we end up in an argument and, fighting against God. Jesus explicitly told us not to do this.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. [Matthew 7:6]

REMAIN POSITIVE: We need to acknowledge that we can’t change people, they must want to change. Once we admit that the only way things will change is when we change, then we can have a new perspective about frustrations and recognize them as just challenges to overcome. Challenges are good and very rewarding. [Mat 5:10-12]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. [John 14:27]

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-10]

A life of frustration is no way to live and can never glorify God because it contains no joy, it has no hope and it leads to sinful attitudes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23]

Tis the season to be Jolly

grinch

YOU KNOW SPRING, summer, fall and winter, but do you recall the most famous season of all? As a popular song proclaims this time of year, “TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY.”

It seems the “jolly-season” starts earlier and earlier because people just can’t wait to be jolly. Why do we wait until now to be jolly? For some, it’s hard to be jolly, even during the ‘jolly-days’. Folks who are off to war, or upset over a recent election. Still others find it difficult to be jolly because they don’t have enough money to buy more STUFF.

What is Jolly? Is it the ability to have more stuff? Is it the congested roads as we race across the country to be with folks that we hardly speak to at other times of the year? Perhaps it’s the dread of the extra pounds that we’ll ‘resolve’ to lose after the new year. The jolly season contains mixed feelings, especially as we consider unresolved goals and issues from this year.

The reality is this, a single season to be jolly is contrived. Being Jolly is an idea that should continue throughout the year. Especially among God’s people [1Peter 3:15].

Life is always filled with ups and downs. Instead of calling them problems, we ought to call them challenges. Everybody’s got them. Are we to wait until the challenges of life are gone before we feel jolly?

Jolly is the joy that springs forth from an attitude of hopefulness.  Jolly is a mindset, not a season. Jolly is HERE (point to head) not here (jiggle belly). Why do we wait for a season to be jolly? Are we going to go back to being miserable after the season is over? Perhaps our new year’s resolution ought to be jolly all year long. Is it possible? I believe that it is because God says that it’s so. Paul was joyful in prison, [Phil 1:18]. Peter taught of hopefulness in the persecuted saint, [1Peter 3:15].

When does JOY actually begin? Does it start the day after Thanksgiving, or does it start within your heart as a child of God? The eunuch, in Acts 8:39, went away ‘rejoicing’ upon his resurrection from the watery grave of baptism. Can a Christian be anything but joyful (jolly) regardless the time of year? As the ‘Grinch’ said, “What if (it) doesn’t come from a store? (Our joy) came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” it was delivered upon a cross.

How can we be Jolly? Here are a few things to think about that may help us keep joy in our lives throughout the year: [Phil 4:8]

  • whatsoever things are true,
  • whatsoever things are honest,
  • whatsoever things are just,
  • whatsoever things are pure,
  • whatsoever things are lovely,
  • whatsoever things are of good report;

In the context of the above, can we also meditate on what goes well rather than what goes wrong? A habitual daily pause to look for the joyful things in life may be part of the answer to a perpetual joy. What is good, joyful or jolly…

  • About yourself?
  • About your life?
  • About your relationships?
  • About what you’re doing?
  • About the love IN your life? (notice I didn’t say love OF your life?)
  • About doing your BEST at what you do?
  • About knowing the reason why you get up every day?

The truth is, there’s no better time to be joyful, than today. Why wait for a season, a present or a person to make you happy? If not now, when? When the economy gets better? When people stop being mean? When the stars align? You’re not promised that much time [James 4:14].

I am resolving to be jolly all year long and I challenge you to do the same. Why wait to be happy, after?

TOO MUCH FUN

Is it possible to have too much fun? Perhaps…

We are ruining our lives. One way we’re doing this is by viewing entertainment as our highest priority. None of us wants to be bored. By using amusement as the remedy it becomes the norm, we learn to crave constant amusement and entertainment. We’re striving to create magical “DISNEY LIKE” moments every day which make them less magical requiring us to search for more and more.

Boredom also leads to spending money in our pursuit to thwart boredom. We go to the mall, movies or amusement parks seeking that ever elusive fix called excitement.

There’s a song called, “Too much fun”, but it only refers to meaningless or harmful things as fun. Yes, we CAN have too much fun when that is the only type we pursue.

The radio host, Dennis Prager, says that fun can be categorized 3 ways; Harmful fun, Meaningless fun, and Meaningful fun. Let’s look at these…

Harmful Fun, this is the entertainment that causes us harm. These can be summed up in Galatians 5 called the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness…” The list also includes drunkenness, drinking parties and the like. Any fun that is taken from this list may seem pleasurable for a time, but in the end leaves us empty and unhappy. [Heb 11:26; Pr 23:32]. Harmful fun can also be spending too much time with Meaningless fun…

Meaningless fun, this is the entertainment that is not sinful or wrong in and of itself but adds little to no value to your life. Video games, certain fiction novels, TV watching and the like. Meaningless fun can be described best as entertainment that is passive as opposed to active. When we watch TV, whether it be sitcoms or sports, we’re actually just watching other people making a good living at their jobs.

Meaningful fun, this is the entertainment that adds value to your life or the life of another. Reading of good literature or of non-fiction. Better still, the reading of Scripture [Eph 3:3; 2Tim 2:15], yes, studying your bible can be entertaining. Meaningful entertainment choices are those things which require you to be an active participant rather than a passive watcher.

Another area that very few consider fun is work. Our society has demonized work, but there are millions that truly enjoy their work (and not just for the money). I’ve met teachers, doctors and even janitors that like going to work because of the joy it brings to them.

Can service to your fellow man be fun? Certainly so. Many hours have I sat at the feet of one of my elders, listening to the stories of the depression and the War. Joy was to be had by both of us, myself for the valuable insight of a life well lived and for them, to have someone, anyone, showing an interest in their lives.

Is there a remedy to this problem of “TOO MUCH FUN”?

First, we need to examine other methods to combat boredom, rather than just taking the easy path of passive, mindless fun. The 10th chapter of Proverbs say, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. 5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” [See also 10:16; 13:4,11; 18:9]

Service to another can be fun and overcome boredom. In service that is voluntary or money making, either way, we can find joy and be entertained in it. There’s value beyond ourselves in service when you consider God’s word on such things. [Mat 25:35; John 13:17]

Now go out and have some fun.
Pr 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

10 keys to a balanced life

To a workaholic, Balance is equivalent to failure. A sluggard will bemoan the fact that balance includes work. The truth is, if we fail to take time for important things, we get off kilter and fail to enjoy life to it’s fullest.

Regardless of how busy we are, here are 10 keys for a balanced life…

  1. Think: is the beginning of anything. God gave us the ability to reason, to think, and we fail to do it enough.  Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,Ps 119:148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word. The trouble with people is that they just don’t think.
    • Adding this to your day;  take 15 minutes everyday to come up with 10 ideas on how to improve your life and those around you.
  2. Work: it’s the price of success. From the very beginning, man has been given work. Ge 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Retirement is not in the Bible.
    • Adding this to your day;  get a job, and treat it as if you were the owner, or better still, as if you work for God. Eph 6:5
  3. Play: – this can only fully be enjoyed after we’ve worked hard. In order for YOU to play, some work had to be done (usually by MOM).  Ecc 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. Ec 2:24; 3:12,22; 5:18; 9:7; Jesus went to a wedding,  Joh 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.  A Friend of mine uses the opportunity of play to meet people, to get to know them and share the Gospel with them.
    • Adding this to your day; All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Use it for exercise, use it to meet people, but never let it separate you from enjoying the rest of life. All play and no work makes jack a POOR boy!
  4. Read; I remember commercials back in the 70’s saying, “RIF Reading Is Fundamental.” How many books do you read? Kings – De 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them. 2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God. Jesus asked in Mt 19:4 “Have you not read…”
    A man that refuses to read is no better than the Illiterate man.

    • Adding this to your day; Read a little bit every day. The average person reads less than 1 book a year. Read 1 book a month! (I’m not talking about only reading trashy novels or sci-fi, but include biographies, or I don’t know……..the BIBLE!
  5. Worship; It is for our benefit. It helps to add focus to our lives. 1Co 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
    • Adding this to your day; Pray without ceasing, 1Thess 5:17, Assemble with the saints every Sunday, Acts 20:7.
  6. Help & enjoy friends: our friends ultimately are going to be a major source of comfort and happiness. The cure for most psychological ills come through the company we keep. Consider the friendship of Jonathan for David in 1Sa 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:1-42; 23:16-18. Everything we will ever have or enjoy will come through other people. Do you want a friend, be one. Do you want good service, be a good customer.
    • Adding this to your day; Make friends of God’s people. God calls Christians His CHILDREN, If that is so, how should we treat them?
  7.  Love –Though we achieve all success and substance, Without love, we are nothing.  Yet this is the most missed–element in our lives. In 1Cor 13, Love is described perfectly, never failing, never boasts, is kind and patient. Take time to Love.
    • Adding this to your day; Read 1Cor 13 and compare that to your behavior. Are you patient,  kind, do you envy others, are you rude, do you think evil?
  8. Dream: it is the foundation upon which hope is built. Another way of saying this is to set Goals. Little goals, big goals. The average person only plans til the next paycheck.  Before a ship sets sail, it lays in a coarse, it knows where it’s going. Where are you going? How will you know when you get there?
    • Adding this to your day; Do you feel you’re without hope? In Christ we have a hope of heaven. Rev 22
  9. Laugh; did you know it’s in the Bible? Have you ever seen a laughing baby, so cute. Laughter is healthy and all of us love to laugh. In Ec 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh.  Ro 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 1Th 5:16 Rejoice evermore. Php 4:4; Luke 6:21 you shall laugh.
    • Adding this to your day; hang out with your friends, listen to good clean comedians, or look up videos of laughing babies.
  10. Plan: It’s the secret of being able to have time for the first nine things. This is different from dreaming, this is about taking control of your day.  God is a planner – 1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
    • Adding this to your day; In the morning, get up just a bit earlier, and after you’ve prayed, map out your day. Include time to work on your dreams. If you take control of your days, your life will take care of itself. Today is the only day you can manage.

Before BALANCE can happen, one must be in Christ. Are you in Christ? If no, then your life will always be out of balance.

spencer
Borger, Tx
806/274-5021

Ask me how to make your calling and election sure. 2Pet 1:10