“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men,
yet they cannot fathom the work that God has done from beginning to end.”
As we are in the middle of spring, I pray you are seeing the jaw-dropping handiwork of God. Ask the Lord that resides “in” you, to show you His creations.
This week I was watching for some time the bees in my backyard collecting pollen from our mock orange shrubs (see photo above). They were absolutely fascinating. The complexity of this tiny insect is mind-boggling. There are so many mesmerizing facts about bees, I will let you do your own research, but I will share with you the famous “Waggle Dance” of the honeybees. You can also Watch the Dance On YouTube (2.5 minutes)
HOW BIG IS YOUR JESUS?
Last week I talked briefly about Jesus’ hard-hitting statements. Here they are again including Matt 16:24-25
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” …… “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
As mentioned in last week’s Friday email [E²Vegas.org/Friday-Mens-Group-7-8-22] my wife and I got to spend some wonderful time with our grandson, Ezra. So let me continue with some things I have been reflecting on regarding JESUS vs. EVERYTHING ELSE.
As I was spending time with Ezra, I asked myself, how does my love for Jesus compare to my love for Ezra (and everyone and everything else)? Is my love and exaltation of Christ exponentially greater than my love for everything else ….. or do I tend to put Jesus on the back-burner and the other things on the forefront?
Remember: IDOLATRY is the replacement of God with something else; the yielding of our primary devotion and chief affections to anything or anyone besides the Lord.
Here are a few bullet points to ponder.
- KIDS: Is your life consumed with your children and all their activities?
- I remember reading in TableTalk years ago, a pastor said a good way to depopulate your church was to have a sermon on the Idolatry of Children. It’s often an unrecognized, but a rampant issue with many Christian families.
- SPORTS: They are a good thing, but do they supplant your time with Christ?
- How many guys idolize a sports team or can hardly wait for deer season to open? In your spare time what are you thinking about? Jesus?
- ENTERTAINMENT: Like sports, it can be a good thing, but how much time do you spend in those areas and watching TV vs. intimate time with Jesus?
- A 2 hour movie and later that night 10 minutes with Jesus?
- INTERNET, NEWS & SOCIAL MEDIA: You answer that one!!
- WORK: I was a workaholic. Then Jesus consumed me. It was so difficult for me to make the transition of “Why Go To Work” …… from making money to representing Jesus.
- Early on, I also had a lot of excuses to not attend Bible studies and conferences. After all, a deal might pop up or a client might call. How easy it became to put those upcoming Bible studies on my calendar, just like I might put a dentist or doctor appointment. Even a demanding client understands a doctors appt. Note: Having my own small business gave me more flexibility than a contractual 8 to 5 job.
Ok, you hopefully get the point. The 1st Commandment unequivocally states, “You shall have no other gods before Me……you shall not bow down to them or serve them.” (Ex 20:3,5). Let’s purpose in our heart to not let anything take precedence over our relationship and devotion to Jesus…… ok?
SISTER YUEN OF SHANGHAI
In closing, if you want to read a short article (a couple minute read) that will set you flat on the ground, read the attached PDF: Sister Yuen. It’s from the book, “Back to Jerusalem” (Disciples or Just Believers). I want to thank Bill McCurine for recommending it over 10 years ago.
Sister Yuen said, “Jesus can never be replaced. Even my own children cannot replace Jesus.”
And the Lord said, “……………When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Broken before the Cross,
As Walt states below, “You are never more vulnerable to temptation than when all is well.”
The Benefit of Affliction – Red Book Day 110
The purpose of these devotionals is to help you think Biblically
Solomon said, “As a man thinks, so is he
I’m also including this devotional because of all the issues we are seeing in the Christian Church today, especially with those in leadership positions. When you preach God’s word, pray that your audience sees the “Living Word” and not you. In a recent Bible study this week, we discussed not only how dangerous “comparison” is, but “receiving honor and recognition” from others [John 5:44]. Here are a few more verses to ponder: 1 Cor 6:19-20, Romans 14:7-9, Gal 2:20
Strive for Obscurity – Blue Book Day 110
The purpose of these devotionals is to help you think Biblically
Solomon said, “As a man thinks, so is he
These prayers from the Puritans just floor me!
From the book, Valley of Vision.
A Cure to Anxiety – Isaiah 41
This is only 19 minutes and it is such a great message by Rabbi Schneider. As I was watching it, a dear friend and brother of many years came to mind and I sent it to him. This was his exact reply:
“Dan – I can’t remember when I have cried/sobbed so hard thank you- thank you- the timing is perfect. I love you Dan.”
Watch on YouTube (2.5 minutes)
Maybe there’s someone you need to send this to?
REALITY CHECK! [Note: You might want to save this for the weekend]
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:12
….“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God”…
I’ve heard men say, “Wow, that guy was really upset when I tried to share Christ with him” … or … “Man, my cousin told me if we want to stay friends, keep your religion to yourself.” A few have said they now understand what Paul was saying, that we will be persecuted if we remain faithful to Christ. FOR NOW, here in America I might modify their word persecution and use “push-back.” Let me give you a recap of what real persecution is. Let’s take North Korea:
First of all, Christians in North Korea must practice their faith in secret. They can’t meet together to worship or tell others about Jesus. If they are caught with a Bible, singing a hymn, or praying, they can face up to 15 years in a labor camp. Life in the camps is unbearable. Believers are forced to work 12 hours a day and are frequently beaten with metal rods. If they try to escape, they will most likely be shot or tortured. Even if they survive, many will suffer from post-traumatic stress for the rest of their lives. But despite the danger, North Korean Christians know that Jesus is worth any risk, and they continue to plead for God’s Word.
One of the ministries I have followed for over 20 years is totally committed to reaching the people of North Korea with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was researching my North Korea files and ran across a letter I had received some years back from a sister in Christ who was tortured for His name sake for only 3 years and then released by God’s favor so she could tell her story. Here is a brief summary of what she said:
Among the torture, one of the most difficult was when a North Korean official forced me to bow and hold my body at 90 degrees for two weeks because I would not deny God in front of him. They did not allow me to rest or sleep and I had to remain in that deep bow even while eating. They kept me from sleep by handcuffing my arms to the prison cell bars up above in my 90 degrees posture.
They hit me on the head with their metal bars until I bled. The beatings were continuous for days. They screamed at me that I did not tell them what they wanted to hear. Then they brought me in front of all the prisoners and after covering me with a blanket, they had the prisoners beat me with all of their strength. My front teeth were broken and my whole body was bruised. The guards were not happy seeing me still alive after that beating so they had the prisoners lift me up five feet in the air and drop me to the ground, not once, but maybe ten times. They didn’t stop until I had three broken ribs. Another day they beat me with an axe handle and broke my arm. I could not use my arms for three months. They sat me next to a hot coal burner for three hours so that my skin would burn. They made me clear out the toilets with my hands. The guards were incensed because I was diligent in my duty, so they made me clean the toilets by licking them with my tongue for three days. It became too much. When I could not place my tongue in the filth immediately, they bashed my head against the wall until I was all bloody. That wasn’t enough for them. They called the other prisoners to bash my head against the wall. The concussion made me lose consciousness for 10 days. They passed on to electrocution, after which I would faint for many hours.
After their initial torturing stage they placed me into a labor camp to work with other prisoners. I was assigned to cut 15 trees a day with an axe. Each tree was 60 centimeters (approximately 24 inches) in diameter. It was an impossible task. I was punished for every failure. Then I was assigned to plow and take out weeds in 1.2 acre of land in one day. Not even a strong farmer with all the right equipment and tools can do these tasks. I was not only beaten but forfeited my meals for not finishing my tasks. Then, at the end of the day, those who failed were made to pull very heavy logs from one end of the yard to the other. Even an ox would have difficulty pulling these trees. I was so beaten from my initial torture that I could not even walk yet alone carry logs. After extreme physical torture and deprived of food, I failed to complete my task and was given more physical labor in my exhausted state.
When they decided I was no use in the farm, they placed me in a concrete cell dressed only in a pair of underwear. The temperature was below freezing. Finding me still alive after days, they made me strip and crawl across a frozen rice paddy. The stubble tore my body and I broke through the ice many times. Then they made me stand at attention in the cold wind for an hour. My body was covered with a thin glazing of ice just like a frozen fish. I was so hungry that when I saw corn in the cow’s dung, I picked the corn from the feces and ate it.
Despite what I went through, the greatest torture of all was being forced to sleep face down to the floor so that I could not look up at my God in heaven and that I was not allowed to callout “Hananim” (God).
When I first started reading these stories, I questioned their validity. But over time and after speaking with the ministry in Tustin, CA, I saw that these testimonies were true. If interested, here is another story that Cornerstone published on their website.
Years ago, I read the book, Eyes of the Tailless Animals, sent to me by Voice of the Martyrs. I shared a number of the experiences in that book with my Boy Scout Troop. Several of the boys were impacted and asked for the book. Again, if interested, here is a recap of that memoir by the author, Soon Ok Lee:
The words from Jesus in Matthew 5:10 really comes into focus after reading these stories: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
By the way, if you don’t think that the persecution those sweet brothers and sisters in Christ have endured in North Korea couldn’t come to America, you are ignoring the sin nature of man, history and what the Bible declares.
His Only Son – HisOnlySonMovie.com
A bunch of the guys said this is a “must see.” I haven’t seen it yet.
Do you think Isaac was an idol in Abraham’s life?
Soren Kierkegaard said this story is the “teleological suspension of the ethical.”
Please pray for the Great Lakes Men’s Retreat
Pray for the men and the speakers.