Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Romans 7:15 – 8:6
Frustration and Grace

I. Ths Christian life can be frustrating because there is a difference between ideal and reality.

A. Our idea is to be like Jesus.

1. The Bible tells us to imitate Jesus.

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” [1 John 2:6]

2. The reality is we have reduced this to a list of “does” and “don’ts.”

3. Lists tend to be corrupted by unhealthy and unbiblical ideas.

B. The reality of life is found in verse 15.

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (NLT SE)

1. “The Law,” reduced to a list and supplemented by “application,” is powerless.

a. It does not restrain.

b. It “guilts” us in unhealthy ways (that does not change us).

“The sinner is condemned by the law, the law-keeper can’t live up to it, and the person with the “new nature” finds his or her obedience to the law sabotaged by the effects of the old nature.” [LAB]

2. Struggling to succeed by your own strength is self-defeating.

a. In fact, it is the same problem you had BEFORE you accepted the mercy Jesus offered to you through His death on the cross.

b. Failure to succeed breeds contempt. Contempt for yourself, for church, for right religious exercise, and for God.

3. There are few “instant” solutions.

a. Years of spiritual neglect (and abuse) are not solved instantly (unless God has a purpose for that instant solution).

b. Romans 12:2 describes transformation as a process.

c. In other words, we are saved instantly but the Christian life is a life long process.

II. The Christian life can be frustrating because there is a power at work against us.

A. [v 17] “It is sin living in me.”

1. Sin is a power (principle) that continually sabotages and pulls us back.

a. When we fail, we get hurt (and we can hurt others).

b. When we get hurt, we want to give up.

2. [v 18] “I want to do what is right, but I can’t.”

a. Wishing or willing is for fairy tales and theology classes.

b. Not all addicts or people with messed up lives want to destroy themselves and those they love. (In fact, many hate themselves and their sinful/unhealthy behavior patterns.)

B. [v 19] “It is sin living in me.”

1. “Sin” sounds like a good excuse.

a. Paul is not using it as an excuse. He’s pointing out how helpless we are against it.

b. CAUTION: this does not allow us to evade personal responsibility for our actoins.

2. [v 21] “I have discovered this principle of life...”

a. It seems to be “inevitable.”

b. We can love God AND be more loyal to our selfishness and sin. [LAB]

***** This creates conflict inside us. We are driven to solve this conflict. *****

III. This frustration makes us miserable.

A. The spiritual reality is that in our own strength, we are powerless against a life dominated by sin and death.

1. If we hare powerless than we are hopeless.


a. There are almost no good things we can do alone.

b. Those that we can do alone are multiplied with others.

B. The counter-reality is that God has given us power.

1. [v 25] “The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

a. Jesus was the only one to never give in to sin.

b. Jesus broke the power of sin when He rose from the dead.

2. Here’s the picture:

a. The cross saves us from sin.

b. The resurrection saves us from ourselves [Dr. Jeff Johnson]
At the cross the power of sin is broken, at the empty tomb the power of a new life is given.

IV. The Christian life can be glorious in victory.

A. [8:1] “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

1. [8:2] “the power of the life-giving spirit has freed you.”

a. While sin can hassle us. God has given us a powerful ally and resource.

b. We do not struggle alone!

2. Who has God given us?

a. Jesus [8:3]

b. The Holy Spirit [8:2]

B. While we cannot “wish or will” we can chose. [8:6]

1. We can allow the sinful nature (sin in us) to control the battle ground and pile up more frustration.

2. We can choose to allow the Spirit to control the battle ground (and have life and peace).

C. How?

1. When we fail, we are driven to the cross and God’s kindness and mercy.

2. As we yield to the control of the Holy Spirit, we let God do the struggling for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Psalms 78:70 – 72
“Integrity of heart”

I. When the situation needed a man, David stepped up.

A. Contrast with Saul

1. When Saul was anointed King, he questioned.

“Saul answered, "But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” [1 Samuel 9:21]

2. When Saul was proclaimed King, he hid.

“When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. [21] Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri's clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. [22] So they inquired further of the LORD, "Has the man come here yet?" And the LORD said, "Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” [1 Samuel 10:20 – 22]

3. When David was anointed King, people questioned.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7]

B. Facing giants: (1 Samuel 17)

1. Goliath was a situation that seemed unbeatable.

“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. [5] He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; [6] on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. [7] His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. . . . [24] When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.” [1 Samuel 17:4 - 7, 24]

2. David took on the unbeatable foe.

“David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” [1 Samuel 17:26]

“David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” [1 Samuel 17:32]

a. But first he had to get through his family, who did not believe David could do it.

“When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” [1 Samuel 17:28]

b. Then David had to get past a skeptical authority figure.

“Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” [1 Samuel 17:33]


C. The secret to David’s courage (and eventual success)?

“But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, [35] I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. [36] Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. [37] The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you.” [1 Samuel 17:34 – 37]

1. David had a history of trusting God in difficult situations.

a. This history proved God’s faithfulness and work in David’s life.

b. Men are not born, they are made in difficult times.

2. David saw no difference between a lion, a bear, and an uncircumcised Philistine because he saw no difference in God.

a. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog.”

b. “It’s not the size of the problem or the man facing the problem, it is the size of God in the man.”

II. When a mistake was made or a wrong done, David took responsibility.

A. Contrast with Saul.

1. The Amalikite fiasco brought King Saul down.

“Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. [8] He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. [9] But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.” [1 Samuel 15:7 – 9]

a. He lied to deflect responsibility.

“Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” [1 Samuel 15:15]

b. He spiritualized his sin.

“Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?" "But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. [21] The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” [1 Samuel 15:19 – 21]

c. His real problem: was about how he looked to others.

“Saul replied, "I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” [1 Samuel 15:30]

B. The Bathsheba – Uriah catastrophe in David’s life.

1. It started when David was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. [2] One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, [3] and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" [4] Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. [5] The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant.” [2 Samuel 11:1 – 5]

a. Almost always, when a man gets in trouble he is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

b. Almost always, when a man gets in trouble (makes the decision to get into trouble) he is alone.

2. He complicated it by trying to cover it up.

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. [15] In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” [2 Samuel 11:14]

a. Think about how silly this was. The people at the palace knew about David’s adultery. Joab knew about David’s murder.

b. The brain shuts down when we try to cover our mistakes and sins.

C. David did take responsibility.

“Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD.” [2 Samuel 12:13a]

1. David understood the weight of unconfessed sin.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD"--
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Selah [Psalms 32:2 – 5]

a. This feeling is called “conviction.” It is the terrible time between the realization of the sin and repentance.

b. David had the struggle with conviction. His willfulness would not easily admit to guilt.

2. David understood the direction of sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge. [Psalms 51:4 – 4]

a. All sin is ultimately directed at God. It is either rebellion against the known will/law of God or it is stubborn/arrogant refusal to obey.

b. Repentance admits that God is right and justified in His judgement of you.

3. David understood only God could relieve him of his sin.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . .[Psalm 51:10]

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. [Psalms 51:16 – 17]

a. Only God can give a pure heart and a steadfast spirit.

b. It is a broken and contrite heart that God looks for, not ritual. [Ritual implies we can save ourselves.]

III. The key to David’s “integrity of heart” came from obedience.

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” [Acts 13:22]

A. Integrity of heart = skillful hands

1. It is a parallel idea.

a. We live in a world where that emphasizes “skill” often at the expense of integrity because we value results.

b. The mistake is that we think we create the results with our skill. (Or not have results because of our lack of skill.)

c. The other mistake is that we think we do not get results because of our lack of integrity. (Or get results because of our integrity.)

2. The parallelism means integrity of heart is skillful hands.

a. Our problem is in our judgement of results.

b. Lost in all this is the will of God (what God wants to achieve).

B. When God spoke, David obeyed.

1. Every time David got in trouble, he was acting on his own idea.

a. So why then are we addicted to our own ideas?

b. Why are we so busy we cannot hear the still small voice of God?

2. Every time David was honored, he was acting on a “God-idea.”

a. When David beat Goliath, people said, “what a man!”

b. When David was crowned king of Judah and then Israel, people said, “what a man!”

c. When David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, people said, “what a man!”

d. When David obeyed God, God said, “what a man!”

In today’s world we see a lot of boys who have not grown up. They have no real identity other than a job and who they are living with or married to... They are trained to sit down and shut up on cue. Their woman are frustrated and their children are confused and lonely.

We also see monsters. They are using and abusing women for their own gratification. They are sacrificing their families on the altar of success and stuff. They know no other life other than selfishness and brutality.
The challenge for men today is follow hard after God. Take the risks necessary to follow and obey God. It will require effort, courage, and probably a lot of blood, sweat and tears. John Wesley once said that he was looking for 200 men, who hated nothing but sin and feared noone but God... and he would turn the world upside down with them. Today, God is looking for one of those men... you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Isaiah 6:1 – 7
What happens when you meet Jesus

I. God intends a “double cure.”

A. Human existence is marked by a tendency toward sin an sinful action.

1. Isaiah is a prophet (representing God to the people) and a priest (representing the people to God).

2. It is in his role of representing people to God that God meets him.

B. You can train the mind and body (it is called discipline).

1. Discipline is necessary in life, but it does not cure the sin problem.

2. Unless we get to the underlying CAUSE of the behavior, discipline goes only so far.

II. Humans are “bent.”

A. NIV = “guilt,” KJV = “iniquity. The Hebrew word is used 220 times in the Old Testament.

1. The word means “evil bent” (think “being crooked,” like a stick).

2. The word does not mean sinful action, it refers to the “sin nature.”

B. This “bend” is our guilt.

1. It is the reason we are guilty.

2. It is a SPIRITUAL illness that can be cured only by Jesus.

C. There are emotional consequences and problems that come from being “bent.”

1. We can become hypocritical liars. (See 1 Timothy 4:2)

a. This condition makes us unable to feel/hear when God is speaking or working.

b. We teach this to others.

2. We cannot help ourselves. (See Hebrews 9:9)

a. No ritual, not amount of ritual can clear this guilt.

b. This guilt comes from a deeper reality (the “being bent”).

3. The weight of guilt can be overwhelming (See Psalms 38:4).

a. It is estimated that 30% of Americans are clinically depressed.

b. Physical pain.

c. Wounds that do not heal properly.

d. Lack of energy.

D. Admitting to the guilt a big step.

1. Jesus paid the price we could not pay.

2. Admit to the action and the bend that leads to the action.

3. Ask for forgiveness.

III. God wants to clean us.

A. NIV = “taken away,” KJV = “purged”

1. The Hebrew word literally means “to cover” and occurs 100 times in the Old Testament.

2. Sin and that bend toward sin is like “scratch and dent.” (We are forgiven but still damaged.)

B. Through Jesus we are forgiven (or debt covered).

1. However, the experience is still there.

a. We remember and it hurts.

b. We are reminded and it hurts.

2. On the other hand, God does not remember them.

IV. God wants to free us.

A. God wants to free us from the control (addiction) of that bend.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

2. God does not take that nature away from us (John Wesley) but we are free to live “above” sin.

a. Wesley put it this way, “Sin remains but does not reign.”

b. In other words, there is a constant struggle. (Be honest about this!)

B. There is value in “struggle.”

1. Sometimes God allows us to struggle with the consequences of our (and others) sin.

a. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it.

b. When we do inflict ourselves and others with the consequences, it reminds us to trust God’s kindness.

2. Sometimes God allows us to struggle and suffer in trial or temptation.

a. It keeps us from pride.

b. It keeps us to busy to fuss over the dust in someone else’s eye.

c. It teaches us absolute dependence on God.

d. It ultimately makes us stronger.

3. Paul noted this struggle in Romans 7, then came to this conclusion: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” [Romans 8:1]

a. We feel the pain and desperation of our struggle.

b. This drives us to depend on the mercy and kindness of God.

c. Which inspires us to bring our life in line with that mercy and kindness, with God’s help.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Jeremiah 17:9
“The sin sick heart”

(Ill.) A long time ago, in what seemed like a galaxy far, far away, I played softball. I had a bat (show bat) that looks normal but contains an interesting technological marvel. It is filled with water. When held up right, it is almost weightless. When you swing, the water rushes to the head of the bat, giving you a very powerful swing. At the time it was ASA approved (not sure). The bat looked normal, but contained a secret.

So it is with the heart. The prophet Jeremiah noted that the heart looks normal but is actually sick. The sickness is called sin.

I. The state of the heart: sin.

It is not popular to talk about sin. When sin is mentioned it sounds judgmental, like an unfair accusation. However, it is necessary.

(Ill.) In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car, sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, was laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car. So often when we do not talk about sin and its effects we are in danger and are actually eluding rescue. [Michael (Tony) Klinedinst]

A. Most important question: thoughts, affections, and intentions.

1. The heart is the true person.

a. Without God it is a “false self.” In other words, it is not what God designed it to be.

b. Without God it will lie to you, trying to hide what is really there.

(Quote) “Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.” [Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine]

2. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." [Psalms 4:23]

a. The heart is ruled by what’s inside it.

b. What you plant there is what you get.

B. Root of evil in the heart: “self-will” (selfishness and self-centeredness)

1. Sin sick.

a. Sickness controls the person.

b. Sickness controls the possibilities.

"Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression." [Psalms 16:13]

2. “Beyond cure” because it is beyond our ability to know.

a. (KJV, and others) “desperately wicked.”

b. The image of desperate is one of a “lose - lose” mentality. Willing to do anything (and everything) to stay sick.

(Ill.) A certain man wanted to sell his house in Haiti for $2,000. Another man wanted to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.

After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
The moral of the story is, “If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.” [Daniel Brinton ]

C. So what’s the danger?

1. Sin is self-destructive. (In a sneaky unhealthy way.)

(Ill.) The Eskimos of Canada and Greenland have an interesting, if rather cruel, way of hunting bear. They will take a bone and sharpen it at both ends. Then they will then coil it through a process, freeze it in blubber and lay it across one of the paths the bears travel. As the bear comes along he smells the blubber and in one gulp he takes it and swallows it, not knowing that it’s just blubber on the outside, but on the inside there’s this twisted, sharpened bone. The minute he swallows it he’s dead. He doesn’t drop down just yet, but every move he makes, every step he takes, causes that bone to twist and to slash and to tear and the internal bleeding starts and the Eskimos just follow the tracks of that bear until it dies. It’s the same way as a person who says, "I’m going to save my life, I’m going to keep my life for myself, I’m going to do what I want to do." The minute you do that you are already in the process of dying and destroying your life. [Owen Bourgaize]

2. Sin is self-deceiving. You can’t always see it.

Rodney Buchanan tells the story of a wilderness canoe trip (in Algonquin Provincial Park) with some friends when they paddled up to a small island. The rangers were digging like mad and taking buckets of lake water and pouring it into the holes. When they asked what was going on the rangers said that they were putting out a fire. The adventurers didn’t understand since they didn’t see any flames, but the rangers explained that it was a root fire. Someone had built a campfire where there was a root close to the surface. From there the fire had spread underground to several trees. You couldn’t see it, but you could feel the heat coming from the ground. The rangers told them that if they did not put it out, it would burn down the entire island. [Rodney Buchanan]

3. Sin separate us from God and each other.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer compared the human race to a bunch of porcupines huddling together on a cold winter's night. He said, "The colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth; but the closer we get to one another, the more we hurt one another with our sharp quills. And in the lonely night of earth's winter eventually we begin to drift apart and wander out on our own and freeze to death in our loneliness." [Unknown]

II. Then need of the heart: truth.

A. The only source of truth is outside the individual... God.

1. God searches the heart and examines the mind.

a. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [13] Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." [Hebrews 4:12]

b. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, [3] because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. [4] Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." [James 1:2]

B. God must diagnose the heart.

1. We cannot because:

a. We are ignorant. (To us truth seems fluid.)

b. We do not want to know. (Ill.) Intense light after complete darkness.

c. We think we are “good” (which does not address the corruption of sin.)

d. When we begin to learn, it is painful... so we shrink back. (BTW, the "old fashion," and good word, to describe this is “conviction” which is supposed to move us toward “godly sorrow” and “repentance.”)

2. God can because:

a. God designed the heart.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." [Psalms 139:13]

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." [Psalms 139:23 -- 24]

b. God alone is the standard of perfection.

(Ill.) A man worked with children who lived in sewers - somewhere in South America. He used to go into the sewers himself to try and help the children who were living there. Imagine you had been one of those children - virtually blind through living in the darkness. Filthy through living in the waste from thousands of homes. Maybe this man offers you a chance to leave. You jump at the opportunity, but has he leads you out, as your eyes become accustomed to the light at the end of the tunnel, you start to see the state that you are in. No matter how hard you try to brush the filth off, the stains will not go away. And of course, the nearer you get to the light coming in from the entrance of the tunnel, the dirtier you appear. Naturally you would shy away from ever coming out of the sewer until you’re fit to be presented to the outside world. The problem of course, is that you cannot be made clean until you come out of the filth of the sewer, and by coming out it’s inevitable that you will be made aware of your own filth.

If we are to see God’s holiness, it is certain that we will recoil at our own sinfulness. [Mark Barnes]

III. The necessary cure:

A. Accept God’s search.

1. We can say “No.”

a. God allows us to keep our heart disturbed, desperate, and deceitful. (Sick with sin.)

b. Living an unexamined life is comfortable but dangerous (eternal hell or heaven is at stake).

2. We can profit from such a search.

a. A cover up keeps things the same old same old.

b. God’s honest opinion and transforming power give us a chance to move from sinner to saint.

B. Accept responsibility.

1. Without God we are helpless against sin but still held accountable.

a. Helpless because we are naturally drawn to sin.

b. Accountable because God has given us a choice.

2. Jesus payed the price so we do not have too.

a. Jesus sacrificed Himself; to exchange for our guilt for His righteousness.

b. What you do with Jesus (hate, ignore, believe so that it changes) will be the determination of our eternal destiny.

(Ill.) A professional carpet-layer stepped back to survey a newly installed carpet. Reaching into his shirt pocket for a cigarette, he realized the pack was missing. At the same time he noticed a lump under the carpet in the middle of the room, about the size of the missing cigarette pack. There was no way to retrieve his cigarette pack from under the attached carpet without ripping everything up and starting over. Finally, he decided to beat the object flat, thereby destroying any evidence of his mistake. Gathering his tools, the carpet layer walked out to his truck. There on the seat of his truck was the mislaid pack of cigarette. As he lit one up, the homeowner hurried out of the house and asked, “Hey, have you seen my son’s gerbil?” [Braude’s Treasury of Wit and Humor, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Hills, NJ.]