The Wisdom I Have
By Josh Creel
I don’t claim to be a wise man. Not old enough, not enough life experience, etc. In short, I don’t have enough grey hair to be wise (although Jared and Ethan are helping me with that). However, earlier this week I received a request to pass on some words of wisdom to the 4th and 5th grade Bible class. Well, the pressure was on! What should I say that will leave a lasting impact on these young minds (well, at least until they lose the sheet of paper, or simply throw it away). But as is often the case, I was overthinking the matter. The wisdom of God isn’t that complicated. So, here is the revised version of the wisdom I offered.
First, God loves you. Never forget that. You will hear a lot about obeying God and keeping His commandments. There’s a good reason for that. God is our Creator, and He has the authority to tell us how to live. But there’s more to it than simply obeying. God gives us these commandments because they are for our good (read Deuteronomy 10:13). The temptation for us is to see only one aspect of God’s nature: His power and might. Knowing that God is omnipotent might lead us to do what He says out of fear. We certainly should fear God (read Luke 12:5 and Acts 10:35), but God wants more than our fear/respect, He wants us to love Him. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… We love, because He first loved us,” (1John 4:18-19). God loves you, so love Him by following Him (1John 5:3).
Second, God is offering you a good life. It’s not the life you see in the movies and on TV. It’s not about nice cars, big houses and the latest technology. It’s about peace, joy and love. He knows what makes for a good life, and it’s not getting a lot of stuff! It’s about learning to love God back and other people as well (read Matthew 22:34-40). That’s what makes for a good life: having loving relationships with God and others. That gives you true peace, that gives you true joy.
Finally, never forget that God is on your side and so are a lot of other people. Your Bible class teacher is on your side, the elders and deacons are on your side, and so am I. So, don’t ever think you have to face a problem alone. God loves you too much for that, which is why He gave us each other. “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us,” (1John 4:12).
Help My Unbelief
By Josh Creel
I don’t really know Scott Smelser. We once participated in a lectureship together and I appreciated his lesson, but that’s the only time our paths have crossed. I knew him only be reputation (which was good), until this week. Now, I marvel at his faith. Many of you know that one week ago Scott’s son, Adam, drown as he was swimming in a swollen river near his apartment in Bowling Green, KY. As the week progressed and rescue turned into recovery, Scott would update his Facebook page for those who were praying for Adam and the family. Perhaps you read his posts, but if you didn’t, you need to. I include some of his thoughts here:
On Tuesday as any hope of rescue had disappeared, Scott reflected on the character of his son and on how God could allow such a tragedy to occur. “Do I wish God had intervened? Of course I do. My heart is broken. I miss my son, and wish I could have saved him. I wish I could tell him how much I admire him. I wish I could see what else this courageous and talented young man would do. But is it God's job - in this world below - to always intervene and save us from every illness? From every threat? From the laws of nature and physics? He can intervene. He saved Peter in Acts 12. But he didn't for James. Paul was spared when he was stoned, but Stephen was not. But both would face difficult deaths later…We do not get everything we pray for. Saints prayed for Peter's safety in Acts 12, and he was delivered. But I'm sure they prayed for James a few days before. Not all wishes are granted, else we would have a world full of very healthy, very ancient brethren. We have all have loved ones die that we prayed for. But another thought is this: God's definition of safe goes beyond this life. Emma Bingham wrote that she had been fervently praying, God save Adam, God save Adam. Then she realized, God has already SAVED ADAM.”
On Friday morning Scott related this exchange he had with a newly married friend who asked if there was anything he could do. Scott said, “Here's what you can do, you and that sweet wife of yours. Have a baby boy (girls are fantastic, have some of them too - but right now we are one short on the boys). And for all of them, expect great things of them. And don't let the world get their hearts. And love them like crazy, and train them like they're going to be workers for the King of the Universe.”
Finally, once Adam’s body was recovered Friday afternoon, Scott made this simple post: “Thankful. Jesus saved the soul, and the Warren County rescue found the shell.”
So, as tears fill my eyes (again), I marvel at the faith of Scott Smelser and I pray, as many have before, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Actually Practicing What We Preach
By Steve Patton
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Rom. 12:21
I read on someone’s blog recently about an incident they experienced at a Starbucks Drive-Thru. A woman thought she was being cut off in line and shouted all kinds of obscenities at this blogger (Susan). Seeing the harried state of things in the face of the woman (red eyes, frizzed hair in a ponytail, glancing at her phone every few seconds – other indications of a worried, frazzled mom), Susan pulled up to the speaker and told the cashier she wanted to pay for the woman in front of her and to tell her she hopes she has a better day. Susan watched as the woman had a long conversation with the cashier and paid her own tab. When she got to the window Susan said, “No takers, huh?” “No,” the cashier replied. But the lady was overcome by her gracious offer and was totally amazed she would offer to pay for her order after the names she had called her. “Did you tell her I said I hope she has a better day?” “Yes,” the cashier answered, “She said she already has.” As Susan pulled away, she said she began to cry, not because of the lady’s response but because God had answered her recent prayer to see others as He sees them - and to show some grace to others.
It is so important that we can do more than tell people how Christians act under stress. We must learn to actually do it. Changing other people’s lives begins by their observing changes in our own. Peter said they may even think you strange for how you live your life (1st Peter 4:4) but some of them will appreciate that “strange” reaction and be moved by it. Then the door opens to speak of why you are different and the power of the grace of God to change us.
Next time someone treats you badly, don’t do what comes naturally. Do what comes unnaturally – react like Jesus. Return good for evil and wait for the opportunity to bring a soul to the Lord. Pray for such opportunities. God will provide. I have seen it happen too many times.