Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 18 – No. 2716 July 02, 2016
Thought for the week: "Don't sacrifice your future on the altar of the immediate." – Bob Jones
Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, there was a story, perhaps just a legend, about a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold? They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet. They took more than a little satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job.
Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man."
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, "Wait a minute—I don't understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair."
The employer responded, "All the time you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.' None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his."
Learning to hear what is being said (not what we think is being said) is essential for healthy relationships and more importantly, is listening to and hearing what God's Word says to each and every one of us. We ignore it to our peril.
A minister was planning to preach on the text, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." While in his study meditating upon the subject he fell asleep and dreamed that he saw Satan and the fallen angels gathered for the purpose of devising ways and means by which they might effectively damn souls. He said that in the dreams he saw an infernal spirit arise and say, "I will go and tell the people there is no God." But Satan said, "That will not do, for only fools deny that fact."
Then another fiend, of unusual intelligence, arose and said, "I will go and tell them that there is nothing to religion; that it is all a farce."
But Satan replied, "That will never do, for multitudes have seen saints die, in sight of heaven, declaring that salvation was real."
One after another arose making suggestions, but Satan refused them all. Finally the most subtle of all arose and said, "I will go and tell them that there is a God; that the Bible is true; that salvation is real, but that there is plenty of time."
The minister said that in the dream he could see all were jubilant and Satan said, "Go! that is the plan." And the meeting disbanded.
– By William Moses Tidwell,
Barrie McClymont, the late Director of ACTS International, New Zealand, in a published letter to the Editor of the New Zealand Morning Herald, writes:
The suggestion that religious belief should take second place to virtue makes superficial sense, but does not stand the light of closer scrutiny.
First, the historical excesses of religions of all types must be seen as the excesses of human failing, not of religion itself. There is an abundance of evidence that shows man without religion is more prone to act in non-virtuous ways.
Second, when we talk of virtue, we must ask what virtue, whose virtue? Is this virtue to be that of our neighbors, our workmates, our friends, the folk who make the films we view, the film censor, the prime minister, the leader of the opposition, et al.?
Third, we have to accept a field of reference before we can agree on what is virtue. Many people's virtues and ethics are subject to change whenever that change is convenient, and are therefore of dubious value. The Bible sets out clear guidelines, and from the Law and the old covenant in the Old Testament to the new covenant in the New Testament (as delivered through Christ), so-called "ethics" stand aside for morals, false beliefs are exposed and clear guidelines are given for virtuous living.
I cannot imagine how rudderless it would feel not to be a Christian. Belief must precede virtue, and virtue makes real sense only as it relates to a field of reference.
– Barrie McClymont, Te Atatu,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Although I wasn't a fan of Ken Lay, convicted former founder and chairman of Enron, I was deeply saddened to learn of his sudden death [some time ago]. It was a tragic ending to the long fall from grace to disgrace.
Ken Lay was not a thoroughgoing villain. This son of a minister from a small town in Missouri had many great qualities that helped him become an American business icon before he became a symbol of greed, corruption and self-denial. He was smart (he had a Ph.D. in economics), industrious and, according to people who knew him, charming and charitable.
During the bulk of his business life he received accolades and admiration as the embodiment of the rags-to-riches possibilities of free enterprise.
It all began to unravel [some] years ago and, ever since, his life was more hell than heaven, marked by accusations, vilification and ridicule.
He was convicted ... and faced living the rest of his life in prison. Although he died before being sentenced, he lived to see the Ken Lay YMCA in Fort Bend County, Texas, remove his name.
His death is a bookend to scores of ruined lives that started with the suicide of Lay's friend, the former vice chairman of Enron, J. Clifford Baxter. Baxter shot himself in his Mercedes shortly after the scandal broke. His note to his wife sums up the terrible cost of shame:
In the end, both men died of self-inflicted wounds, but whether just or not, no one should rejoice at such a sad, sad ending.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven"1
"You are nothing but a pharisaical religious b______," Jennifer (not her real name) angrily criticized me in front of a seminar group of about 100 people. Understandably I was taken aback but answered simply by saying, "Yes, sometimes I am."
Had I become defensive and sought to justify myself, I'm sure I would have built a wall between myself and Jennifer and most likely there never would have been any further meaningful communication between us.
This actually happened in a seminar I was leading following a session discussing the subject of homosexuality. I learned later that Jennifer was gay, so her hostility towards me was understandable.
A few weeks later, for those who wanted to deal with personal issues, we had a live-in in-depth week-long recovery workshop. What amazed me was that Jennifer attended even though she disagreed with me vigorously regarding homosexuality. At the beginning of the week she kept me at arm's length. However, I assured her that even though I disagreed with her lifestyle, I loved and accepted her.
There were about 30 of us at the retreat and not one person judged or criticized Jennifer in any way all week. We all loved and accepted her. This was somewhat overpowering for her as she was so used to being condemned, especially by Christians. What shocked me even more was that at the end of the week, she came to me, hugged me warmly and said, "Perhaps you are right after all."
I am convinced that at least for many, it is a lack of love that drives people into self-destructive acts of sin in their desperate search for love and acceptance—and only love—God's love through you and me will ever take them out again.
True Christianity is much more than a creed (as important as the creed is)—it is experiencing divine love, divine forgiveness, and divine acceptance—and communicating these to every life we touch.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand every person you bring into my life and communicate your divine love, forgiveness, and acceptance to them at their point of deepest need. In doing so may they find your love, forgiveness and acceptance for themselves. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
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