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Friday – The elder ruled with an iron fist

“None of these things will last after they have been used for awhile. They are human commands and teachings.” Col 2:22 (Simple English Bible)

The elder ruled with an iron fist. He was very strict about the length of hair, mode of dress and other imagined signs of “disrespect” in the church assembly. Women and girls were not permitted to wear jeans, slacks or pants. They were separated from the men by a central aisle in the buildings. All men over a certain age had to wear ties. Only church officers were permitted to serve the Lord’s Supper and baptize people. Aside from the worship service, the hall was a silent as a tomb. The youth were only allowed to sing in the choir. So many people left that the leadership became alarmed. Yet this intolerant man held the reins of power tightly in his hand. When he died, the congregation breathed a sigh of relief and returned to normal.

Perhaps Christian feel that they must improve God’s method of operation. Maybe they feel the need to tighten a few loose rules or strengthen weaknesses. The New Testament is largely based upon principle, not command. We are free to choose the way we conduct the services of the church as long as they are decent and in order. Nowhere in the New Testament does it state that churches must have a morning and evening service on a Sunday. Nor does it set guidelines for Bible studies, adult classes or Sunday School.

We are free to choose! But we are also responsible for our choices.

Worship and praise God! That is the principle. How and when you decide to do this, is up to you!

Steve

Thursday – Ever since he was a kid

“I may do anything I want to do but not everything is best for me. Yes, I may do anything I want to do but I won’t allow myself to be a slave to anything.” I Cor 6:12 (Simple English Bible)

Ever since he was a kid, Jason loved motorcycles. If he had a choice for toys, he’d always choose a motorcycle. His uncle had one and Jason constantly begged for a ride every time his uncle visited. He had posters of Frand Prix cyclists on his walls. He read book after book about them. They were his heroes and idols. The closer it came to Jason’s 16th birthday, when he could obtain a license for a motorcycle more he pestered his parents to buy him on. He knew exactly the size, shape, model and color he wanted. It took him a year of intense pressure because his parents reluctantly caved in and bought Jason his dream. Within a week, he’d been killed in a motor accident.

There are events and occasions in our lives when we desire something so intensely that it occupies our minds and hearts for months, perhaps even years. Yet, our Father knows what we should have and what we shouldn’t have for a particular time period in our lives. We might feel that we “need” it more than anything else. But God feels that we should need His Son with the same intensity and focus. Christ is the reality, everything else is window dressing and will be left behind when we’re called home.

Christmas is coming. Gifts will be purchased, wrapped and placed under the tree. Kids and people will anticipate and eagerly open their gifts. These are all good things but we should each remember that the best gift of all died on a Cross and arose again!

This Christmas, remember to give the best, too.

Steve

Wednesday – This song never fails to stir my soul

“Op die wolke van die hemel sal ons Jesus weer ontmoet…” traditional Afrikaans song from the Namaqua Desert.

This song never fails to stir my soul. “On the clouds of the heaven, I will meet Jesus again.” It is a song of joy, thanksgiving and anticipation. It is sung with enthusiasm and pride, usually accompanied by clapping hands and a little African two-step shuffle. Most of the farm workers and laborers live along the narrow strip of the Orange River as it courses its way between the Kalahari to the north and the Namaqua in the south. They are poor and have a basic subsistence living. I know it is probably sung in other areas but I’ve only heard it in Namaqualand.

It’s basic truth is simple:  all Christians died to themselves and were buried with Jesus in the water. Because we are all raised in a new life, all Christians have this glorious hope of meeting Jesus again. This time, face to face, and anticipating His promise to take us home. As far as I know, there isn’t another hymn in English that carries the same thought and that’s why is has become so special to me. I haven’t heard it for a number of years now and I find myself humming it every now and then.

Perhaps I’m getting older and more sentimental. Maybe my brain just plays mind tricks.

But, in my heart, I know I have the same hope as those men and women living between two deserts as they sing it in praise to our Father.

Steve