Down In The Dumps?

dog down in the dumjps

“I’m feeling a little down in the dumps!”

Whenever someone is feeling gloomy we often refer to that person as being down in the dumps. Have you ever wondered where we get that phrase?

According to the book, Devious Derivations by Hugh Rawson,

It seems logical to assume that the melancholy person who is down in the dumps is, figuratively speaking, in a depression filled with refuse—a sanitary landfill, as the old town dump is called today.

The melancholy dumps and those for refuse are separate words, however. People have been cast down in the former since the early sixteenth century: “What heapes of heauynesse, hathe of late fallen among us alreadye, with whiche some of our poore familye bee fallen into suche dumpes” (Sir Thomas More, A Dialoge of Comforte Against Tribulation, 1529). Captain Francis Grose reported that the word was “jocularly said to be derived from Dumpos, a king of Egypt, who died of melancholy” (A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1976). Though the term’s origin is not entirely clear, it is much more likely to have a European than an Egyptian antecedent, coming instead from the Dutch domp, a haze or mist. The Dutch word is cognate to the English damp, which referred to a poisonous vapor or gas before it acquired the present senses of wetness and moisture. The true allusion in down in the dumps, then, is to a person whose mind is in a gloomy fog.

By contrast, the dump that refers to a place for depositing refuse is a comparatively recent innovation. The word first appeared with this meaning in the United States, with the oldest known example coming from the diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer: “Attended the sale of the street dirt at the dumps” (4/10/1784). This form of dump comes from the Middle English dompen, to drop, fall, or plunge, akin to the Norwegian dumpa, to fall with a thud or thump. Like thump this dump may be basically onomatopoenic. In any event, the noun seem to come from the verb; refuse is dumped at a dump. (pp. 68-69.)

The person who is “down in the dumps,” therefore, is one in “heapes of heauynesse” or “heaps of heaviness.” Interestingly, the Apostle Paul refers to this state of emotion in 2 Corinthians 2:1 where it says in the original 1611 publication of the King James Version (KJV), “But I determined this with my selfe, that I would not come againe to you in heauynesse.” In the present King James Version, the verse reads, “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” The New American Standard Version (NASB) puts it this way: “But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again.”

The apostle goes into further detail to describe the depth of sorrow he felt when he wrote his previous letter to the Corinthian church:

“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you,” (v. 4).

Paul was down in the dumps because he was concerned over some serious moral issues in the church including incest (1 Cor. 5:1-2) and adultery (1 Cor. 6:9). Adding to these situations, there were divisions (1 Cor. 1:10); disorder in worship, and communion, in particular (1 Cor. 11:17- 22); and lawsuits between members including court cases being heard before ungodly judges (1 Cor. 6:1-8). On top of all that, Paul’s apostolic authority and teachings were constantly being criticized and condemned by false teachers (2 Cor. 11:1-11). In fact, although he was publicly challenged on his last visit by a member of the church (2 Cor. 2:5), Paul recommended forgiveness “lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow,” (v. 7) .

So, Paul writes not only about the sorrow he had felt after knowing about all their problems (vss. 1, 3) but the temporary sorrow he was putting them through by trying to persuade them to change their ways and get right with the Lord (2 Cor. 13:2). In essence, as he explains, it was actually out of sincere love that he wanted them to be sorrowful for their sins so that they would repent and change for their own good (v. 4). This is the sign of a good leader in the Lord.

From Paul’s experience and all the church difficulties in Corinth, we can expect to be down in the dumps if things are not going well. But at the same time, we can also expect that God will turn those feelings into joy if we handle them with an attitude of love and forgiveness in our heart.

The Apostle Paul concludes this chapter on a positive note:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God,” (2:14-17, NASB).

Paul and the other church leaders were speaking with authority from the Lord and his Word. We can take comfort from this whenever we’re down in the dumps. The way we deal with the blues will be determined by whether we look at the inspired Word as something that either condemns us or saves us. We seek a refreshing and encouraging aroma “from life to life.” The present life with all its ups and downs and unpredictability is nothing to be compared to God’s love and the future eternal life to come (Romans 8:38-39; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).

When one is down in the dumps, one is said to be downcast or in despair. When those feelings hit, it is wise to remember what is written in Psalm 43:5, “Why are you in despair [downcast], O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him. The help [saving acts] of my countenance, and my God.” It also says in, Psalm 42:11, “Why are you in despair [sunk down], O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in [wait for] God, for I shall yet praise him, the help of my countenance, and my God.”

Here are the Heritage Singers singing, “He Is Able,” http://youtu.be/ThuZI50gCuQ

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Will Robots Rule the World?

robots

Getty Stock Images

 

The year is 2035. Detective Del Spooner is sent to an experimental space station to investigate the death of brilliant, eccentric scientist Dr. Alfred Lanning. Spooner is aided by psychologist Dr. Susan Calvin, and the death is initially labeled a suicide. Spooner, though, suspects that a robot may have perpetrated the crime. That seems unthinkable since robots are governed by The Three Laws of Robotics, which state that a robot may never harm or allow harm to come to a human being. As Spooner and Calvin investigate the death, they come to believe that a robot did, in fact, commit the crime. They are aided in their investigation by Dr. Lanning himself, who appears as a hologram, and reveals that he was working on a top secret project at the time of his death. (Plot summary of the film, “I, Robot,” bing.com)

This 2004 science fiction futuristic film directed by Alex Proyas, and starring Will Smith, is all about the potential of robots to usurp power over humans. While this is science fiction, there appears to be the fear that robots really could takeover the world someday. It may not occur in such a dramatic way as the movie portrays. But there is growing concern that robots will play a significant role toward replacing humans in the not-too-distant future.

Headlines of recent on-line articles include, “When robots take over, will there be jobs left for us?”; “Robots could take over 38% of US jobs within about 15 years, report says”; and “More than 70% of US fears robots taking over our lives, survey finds,”  (theguardian.com)

According to the article of that last headline, it is reported that,

“Ordinary Americans are very wary and concerned about the growing trend in automation and place a lot of value in human decision-making,” said Aaron Smith, the author of the research, which surveyed more than 4,000 US adults. “They are not incredibly excited about machines taking over those responsibilities.”

The article cites a Pew Research survey that indicates four scenarios which have wide-reaching implications in relation to technological advancement: (1) driverless cars; (2) machines replacing human jobs; (3) autonomous robot caregivers; and (4) a computer program that could evaluate and select job candidates without any human oversight. (ibid.)

The report continues to say,

“According to the findings, 72% of Americans are very or somewhat worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs – more than double the 33% of people who were enthusiastic about the prospect. Seventy-six per cent are concerned that automation of jobs will exacerbate economic inequality and a similar share (75%) anticipate that the economy will not create many new, better-paying jobs for those human workers who lose their jobs to machines.”

The fear that robots could takeover humanity someday is real. In fact, there are those who believe that, down the road, robots will go way beyond their menial tasks to the point of destroying human existence. There is one headline that reads, “Robots could wipe out the human race, expert says,” (networkworld.com). In the article written by Patrick Nelson (4/27/15), Dr. Stuart Armstrong, of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, reportedly predicts that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) programmed into robots could lead to the mass killings of humans. In what DOES sound like science fiction, Armstrong asserts that due to the “super-speed” of robots over human ability to perform tasks, a day could come when they overpower humans.

Nelson also writes,

“The threat from artificial intelligence is “not just a Hollywood fantasy,” Patrick Sawer says, writing in the Telegraph newspaper.

“Another issue with robots, the Telegraph says, is that as the machines harness huge amounts of computing power they will eventually create global networks with each other. They’ll communicate without human interference, and that could be a problem. They could start making decisions among each other.”

Pondering these dire predictions in view of the scriptures, we can find comfort and assurance that robots will not takeover the world (Rom. 8:38-39; Ephesians 3:12; 1 John 5:12-13). True, as long as the Lord tarries, humanity could produce some amazing technology by developing the use of robots. Over the past decade, for example, robot technology has become very instrumental in improving transportation, developing artificial body parts, providing safety and rescue, and advancing scientific research. Who knows how robots could make life better in the years to come?

But, in spite of the idea that robots will takeover the world either for good or evil, the Bible indicates that humanity will continue to exist (Isaiah 45:18; Psalm 37:9, 11, 18, 22, 29, 34; 115:16; 119:90). And, not only that, God has a better plan for our future than what science and technology can ever produce. In a nutshell, it’s the Kingdom of God.

In his model prayer, Jesus included, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:10). When he entered his ministry on earth, the Bible says that Jesus began to preach saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel,” (Mark 1:15). The gospel is the Good News that the future is in the hands of God through his Son. This rules out robots. Christ will rule the world someday, not robots. And we who are in Christ will be co-rulers with him. Those who repent of their sin and receive Christ as Lord and Savior, have the hope of inheriting the Kingdom of God and receiving eternal life in the age to come (Daniel 7:27; Mark 10:30; John 3:16; Romans 6:22; 8:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 5:10). How marvelous are the promises of God!

Here’s Jeff & Sheri Easter singing, “In God’s Hands”: https://youtu.be/GHHKXpsKZEA

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Be Careful What You Expect

expect

Frank was a man who believed in the deeper meaning of numbers. He was born on May 5, 1905, and was fifty-five. He had five children, and he lived at 555 East 55th Street. For the past five years, he had earned $55,000 as an executive at Sak’s Fifth Avenue. On his fifty-fifth birthday, Frank went to the track and was astonished to find that a horse name Numero Cinco was running in the fifth race. Five minutes before the race began, he went to the fifth window and put down five thousand dollars in five-dollar bills on Number Five. Sure enough, the horse finished fifth. (An Encyclopedia of Humor)

Frank had the wrong expectations. Since five was his number, he should have expected the horse to come in fifth. Our expectations can mean the difference between winning and losing. It all depends on the reality of what we expect will happen.

According to experts, we shouldn’t be too surprised when what we expect to happen does happen. Lou Ludwig, Sales and Management Consultant, wrote,

As I see it. . . . . . . .What you expect to happen does. Our self expectation programs our mind. What we except to happen becomes programmed into our thinking and becomes part of our dominate thoughts. As we continue to think about what could happen; we find that thought becomes a reality in our mind. The more we think about what could happen; that thought becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and does happen. If the expectation is negative think about solutions. When the expectation is positive keep the thoughts in your mind until the expectation comes to fulfillment. What you expect to happen does. (®2009, Lou Ludwig, Sales and Management Consultant Executive Coach, Speaker, Trainer and Author, Ludwig & Associates, http://activerain.com/blogsview/1168387/what-you-expect-to-happen-does)

Negative expectations usually lead to negative consequences. If you think you’re going to fail, you probably will. If you think you’re going to lose, chances are, you will. If you can’t seem to reach your goals, maybe it’s because your expectations are not high enough, or they are misplaced like Frank’s were.

Positive expectations, on the other hand, usually lead to positive consequences. If you think you’re going to succeed, you probably will. If you think you’re going to win, chances are, you will. If you reach your goals, in all probability it’s because they were realistic and you expected to reach them in the first place.

The Bible makes it clear that the outcome of our expectations depends on our moral character. For example, Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous is gladness. But the expectation of the wicked perishes.” (New American Standard Bible, NASB) Proverbs 11:23 says, “The desire of the righteous is only good. But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” (NASB) Those who are not following the way of the Lord can expect to reap the problems they sow. On the other hand, those who sow with hope and desire by following the way of Lord can expect to reap his blessings (Galatians 6:6-8).

The power of positive expectations provides the benefit of security and strength. When you read the following Psalm by David, note the following benefits (underlined) that accompany hope and expectation in the Lord:

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8, NASB)

Notice where our hope comes from. God is the sole source for expecting the good that we want to happen to us. He is personal, too. Look at how many times he is declared as “my”. Say to yourself: He is my personal rock, who provides the solid foundation for living because this is what I expect. He is my source of salvation. I can expect him to save me when I need him. He is my stronghold. I can expect him to give me strength when I’m longing for someone to hold on to. I can expect to rest in his glory, to overcome victoriously even if times are rough. I can expect him to be my refuge, the One I can to turn to in times of stress, sorrow, and strife. I can expect him to be there at all times as I put all my trust in him. Therefore, I pour out my heart before him, and put all my love in him since he is my refuge and my shelter, the One I expect will be there for me.

Without him, we can expect disappointment in the end. Everything might appear right according to our calculations, but this doesn’t mean everything will turn out the right way. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a person but its end is the way that leads to death,” (New English Translation, NET). No one wants to end up a loser like Frank. We don’t put our trust in numbers, for example, but we do expect great things from God.

So, we want to make sure that we place our expectations on what God wants if we expect to receive blessings from him. If we are living the way God expects then we can expect that one day we will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matt. 25:21-23, King James Version, KJV).

Here’s Steven Curtis Chapman singing, “Great Expectations”: http://youtu.be/gWdINjAmP6g

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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The Indispensable Words of Christ

The-Words-Of-Jesus

Did you hear the one about the indispensable secretary? A young executive was leaving the office at 6 p.m. when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in hand.

“Listen young man,” said the CEO, “this is very important, and my secretary has the holiday week off. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the Start button.

“Excellent, excellent…” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

For those bosses who think they know it all, this gag will show them who’s the real boss at the office. Good Day. (Source: Bits & Pieces)

When it comes to who is really indispensable, the person who comes to mind from a salvation perspective is Jesus Christ. In Acts 4:12, the Apostle Peter declared that only in the name of Jesus can we be saved: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Since Jesus is indispensable, so are his words. Of the many verses in the Bible that refer to our Lord, there are at least eight in the New Testament that describe the characteristics of his words. In essence, his words are absolutely necessary for our salvation. For example, note how the words of Christ are….

Imperishable – Mark 13:31  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (NASB)

Gracious – Luke 4:22 “And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” (NASB)

Authoritative – Luke 4:32 “…and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.” (NASB)

Spirit – John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (NASB)

Life-giving – John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’” (NASB)

Incomparable – John 7:46 “The officers answered, ‘Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.’” (NASB)

Judgment – John 12:48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” (NASB)

Divine – John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (NASB) (Thompson Chain Reference Bible)

As you study these verses, you find how the indispensable words of Jesus are trustworthy, powerful, and essential. We can faithfully follow him knowing that his words are the source for truth, the foundation upon which we can build our lives. For he is, after all, the Son of God who reveals God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:15-16).

Here are “10 Life Inspiring Quotes by Jesus Christ”: https://youtu.be/E2n-isRAtCI

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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The Gossip News

gossip

“Did you hear about Judy? Do you know what Judy did? I am told that Judy really is guilty of it.” We usually call this kind of talk, “gossip.” Or, as it’s also known, backbiting, slandering, whispering, talebearing, and the like.

Some people are in the habit of it. Others may gossip without intending to. But it all comes out the same. Gossip maliciously spreads rumors or secrets about someone else that slanders their name and reputation.

Gossip can appear anytime, anywhere, even at church. There’s a joke about a minister who noticed that gossip was becoming a big problem in his congregation. So, he decided to preach on the subject. The order of service in the bulletin listed the sermon topic, “Gossip.” Immediately following was the hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

When it comes to gossip, one must remember the saying, “What often goes around comes around.” For example, Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extracurricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon.
She emphatically told George and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house… and left it there all night.

Even pastors can have the problem, like this joke illustrates: There’s a story about three pastors who decided to get away and go fishing. They started to talk about church problems and decided that if they couldn’t deal with their own sins they couldn’t help others deal with theirs. So each one confessed his own sin agreeing that they ought to keep it confidential. The first pastor confessed, “The people in my church give a lot of money every week. At first, I started to steal a few bucks, but eventually, I take a big amount. I can’t stop stealing so please pray for me.” The second pastor said, “I have a problem of lusting after the married women in my church and I’ve even had some affairs.” The third pastor was somewhat hesitant to bare his heart. But after the other pastors persuaded him to say what was on his mind, he finally confessed, “Well, I wasn’t going to say anything. But the sin I really struggle with is gossip. And I can’t wait to get home!”

While we’re supposed to tell others the Good News, the Bible clearly indicates that we refrain from spreading the gossip news. Why? Because, the Good News is constructive; the gossip news is destructive. The Good News brings encouragement; the gossip news brings discouragement. The Good News is genuine news; the gossip news is fake news.

Here is a list of Bible passages from Proverbs (The Message, MSG) that remind us of the danger of gossip:

11:13 “A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence.”

16:28 “Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships.”

20:19 “Gossips can’t keep secrets, so never confide in blabbermouths.”

25:23 “A north wind brings stormy weather, and a gossipy tongue stormy looks.”

26:20-22 “When you run out of wood, the fire goes out; when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down. A quarrelsome person in a dispute is like kerosene thrown on a fire. Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you want junk like that in your belly?”

When God gave his law to Israel, one of his commands was, “Don’t spread gossip and rumors. Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger. I am God,” (Leviticus 19:16). This is one example of what it means to, “love thy neighbor as thyself” (v. 18) which summarizes the entire law (Deut. 6:4-5; Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31) or, as James calls it, “the royal law,” that is, “the law of our King,” (James 2:8) since Jesus Christ is the one who lived it and taught it to his followers.

As the early church began to grow by leaps and bounds, one of the problems the apostles had to contend with was gossip. The work of the Lord was being hindered and even threatened because of “busybodies” who had nothing else to do but spread vicious rumors (2 Cor. 12:20-21; 2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:15). The Apostle Paul pointed out that gossip is one of the products of depraved minds which leads to societal breakdown and suffering and the church should have no part in it (Romans 1:18-32). This is something that ought to be taken seriously in light of the gossip that goes on in today’s social media, mainstream news, and the political world. Christians are wise to steer away from this sort of action.

Gossip is probably one of the reasons why James devoted a large portion of his letter on the use of the tongue. For after his reference to loving your neighbor as yourself he goes on to discuss faith and works (James 2:14-26) including the challenge to control one’s tongue, (James 3:1-12). James was quick to give this reminder to his fellow Christians, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom….for where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every thing,” (James 3:13, 16, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

One of those bad behaviors which cause disorder, division, disrespect, and such is the sin of gossip spread, of course, by the uncontrollable, undisciplined, untameable tongue. James previously stated that one who does not bridle one’s tongue “deceives his own heart,” and “his religion is worthless,” (1:26). But when one pursues heavenly wisdom and keeps one’s tongue in control by yielding to the Spirit, then blessings abound. This is the Good News: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable [lit., “willing to yield”] full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the good seed [lit., “fruit of righteousness”] is sown in peace by those who make peace,” (James 3:17-18, NASB).

Instead of the gossip news, our privilege is to spread the Gospel News for it sows the peace we all want to reap.

Here is Chris Tomlin’s rendition of the hymn, “Take My Life (And Let It Be)” http://youtu.be/V0Byp7aK2DA

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Look Out For That Creep!

prayer_creep

Different thoughts might be conjured when I use the word, “creep.” An insulting remark, as in, “That person is a creep,” might be one of them. Or, it could mean moving slowly close to the ground, such as, “He was quick to creep toward the door on his hands and knees to escape the burglar.” Or, the slow movement of time, as in, “The minutes were creeping by like hours as I waited for work to be over for the day.” Or, it could refer to something that freaks you out, for example, “The thought that I almost walked into the huge web with the spider staring right at me made my flesh creep.” Or, any bug could be called, “a creeping thing,” as it is called in the scriptures (Gen. 1:24). Or, perhaps the word could be used to mean something that gradually shifts to a different position, such as, “The extreme temperature of the engine caused the turbine blade to creep.” Or, creep might apply to a plant that expands or spreads over intervals of time, as in, “Creeping junipers are ground-hugging shrubs that are admired for their evergreen foliage.”

There’s also something called, “function creep.” And this is what I would like us to ponder a little more closely in this post. I came across this term recently when I saw an article titled, “Function Creep: Surveillance in London,” in a blog dated July 17, 2007. (thesamovar.wordpress.com). The writer voiced concerns that due to new technology government was exploiting function creep. Therefore, the government could introduce one useful technology that could function as a different unpopular kind thereby creeping beyond what was originally intended. One example is government issued ID cards. What starts out as a well-intentioned, non-compulsory tool for keeping statistics and maintaining civil order, could creep into a compulsory situation that would invade personal privacy and abuse civil liberties.

Surveillance cameras are another example. While on one hand, they function for the purpose of curbing crime and, especially terrorism, they could also be used to spy on innocent individuals for exploitive reasons. It brings to mind George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, where every citizen is repeatedly reminded, “Big Brother is watching over you.” In other words, the government is Big Brother who, on one hand, promises to provide for your protection and security but, on the other hand, is really suppressing your freedom and rights.

Interestingly, the potential danger of function creep is cautioned in the scriptures. Even though the term is modern, the problem it presents goes back to ancient times. The Apostle Peter was referring to a type of function creep when he opined that some of the elders were guilty of “lording it over their heritage.” Apparently, they were creeping or exceeding their authority for making a profit out of their office (1 Peter 5:3).

Jesus also contended with the scribes and Pharisees who creeped from their function as religious leaders to take advantage of disadvantaged Jews at that time. The seven woes Jesus pronounced against them in Matthew 23 include many examples of their exploits against the people. The Lord criticized them for their hypocrisy saying, “Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets,” (v. 31). And we know how the creep of these religious leaders led to the plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:1-5; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:1).

As we think about conditions in the last days, the Book of Revelation prophesies function creep, as well. The formation of a one-world government will include “Big Brother” like never before where everyone will be affected by function creep. Through the creep of a powerful political leader (Rev. 13:1-10) and a powerful religious leader (Rev. 13:11-18) everyone will be required to submit to them economically, politically, and spiritually. And anyone who does not submit to them by having a certain ID (mark, name, or number) will suffer at the point of death (Rev. 20:4).

Function creep is creepy whether it occurs through human governments, false religions, technological advancement, or moral deterioration. When society loses its spiritual cohesiveness, vis-à-vis the teachings of God’s Word, it becomes vulnerable to the creep that creates division and disorder. The end result is disaster.

Function creep can happen in our own lives, as well. When we step beyond the bounds of our liberty in Christ, sins creep in. Paul cautioned about this in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Cp. 1 Cor. 8:9; 1 Peter 2:16.) In Galatians 6:8, the apostle adds, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

The problem of living according to the flesh is that we function beyond the limitations or restrictions God places upon us. No law is able to prevent it, either. When we choose to live according to our fleshly desires, bad actions creep into our lives producing bad results (Gal. 5:19-21). But the Good News is that when we live within the teachings based on the Spirit through Christ, then we prevent creep and enjoy the wonderful benefits from it (Gal. 5:22-23).

So, look out for that creep! Keep in touch with Jesus and you will not reap the creep that threatens to corrupt your Christian life. The coming reward will be worth it (Rev. 22:12).

Here are the Maranatha Singers singing “The Spirit Song,” http://youtu.be/o6arsF6RW5I

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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Good News For Bad Days

You think you are having a bad day

Bad Days. We all have them. They are the days we wish we could just skip and go on to the next one. Maybe the day after will be brighter than this one. Or, unfortunately, maybe even worse. We pause to wonder, Could there be any Good News when we have one of those days?

Before we seriously look into this question, consider the lighter side of the situation. There are a lot of humorous lines about having bad days and here are just some which tickle my funny bone:

You know you’re having a bad day when…
your twin sibling forgets your birthday.
you call suicide prevention and they put you on hold.
you have an appointment in 15 minutes and you just woke up.
your horn sticks on the freeway behind 32 Hell’s Angels motorcyclists.
your birthday cake collapses due to the weight of the candles.
people send your wife sympathy cards on your anniversary.
your pacemaker only has a thirty day guarantee.
everyone loves your driver’s license picture.
your boss tells you not to take off your coat.
you have to hitchhike to the bank to make your car payment.

Can bad days get any worse? When one thing goes wrong, we can almost expect something else will, too. We might hope not but consider this predicament:

A young paratrooper was learning to jump. He was given the following instruction: First, jump when your are told, second, count ten and pull the ripcord, third, in the very unlikely event that it doesn’t open, pull the second chute open, and fourth, when you get down, a truck will take you back to the base.

The plane ascended up to the proper height, the men started peeling out, and the young paratrooper jumped when told. He counted to ten and pulled the cord, but the chute failed to open. He proceeded to the back-up plan: he pulled the cord of the second chute. It, too, failed to open. “I suppose,” he complained to himself, “the truck won’t be there either when I get down.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking).

This scene reminds me of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” This old adage rings familiar on those bad days. In fact, we often quote these words when things do go awry.

So what do we do? What CAN we do? Again, we go back to the question: Could there be any Good News when we have one of those days?

For Christians, the answer is “yes.” It’s “yes” because of one person who makes all the difference—Jesus Christ. If Jesus isn’t the reason for answering in the affirmative, then he wouldn’t be “the way, the truth, and the life” he claimed to be (John 14:6).

When Jesus spoke these words to his followers, he was providing comfort to them (John 14:1-6). He could see what was eating at them. They were mulling Jesus’ remark that he was going to leave them. What’s worse, he told them they could not go where he was going (John 13:33). They were troubled.

The Greek word for “troubled” means they were emotionally agitated, disturbed, affected with great pain and sorrow, (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). How’s that for a bad day? I mean, they were close to their Master. They left everything to follow him in pursuit of a dream that one day he, the Messiah, the Anointed One, would deliver Israel and save them as the prophets foretold. They would even rule along with him. But, now, he lowered the boom on them: He said he was going to go away and they couldn’t even go with him. What a let down! When told the news, we can imagine they were feeling that their beloved leader was abandoning them. Some may have felt depressed, others angry. Maybe many of them even began questioning why they ever joined him in the first place.

As Christians, we might feel that Jesus is abandoning us, too, when things aren’t going our way. We are facing a crisis. We are deeply troubled. We wrestle with our own emotions. There seems to be no way out. And we are tempted to ask, “Where is he? Why doesn’t he seem to be coming to my rescue? What’s he doing? Has he left me?”

Then, we go to John 14 and remember what he told his troubled and confused disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going,” (John 14:1-4, New International Version, NIV).

Even in the midst of bad news there is Good News according to Jesus’ words. First, you see him encouraging his disciples to believe both in God and himself. Going by the Greek meaning, the word for “believe” includes absolute trust by having faith. It’s been said, “faith gives us the courage to face the present with confidence, and the future with expectancy.” I recall another saying that goes, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”

Hebrews 11 is about many of the faithful of old who believed God. And I can guarantee you that every one of them had bad days. In fact, what we often think is a bad day for us is like a picnic on a beautiful day compared to their bad days:

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:35b-40)

I would like you to notice something extraordinary in this text that has something to do about believing and trusting in God through faith. All of these “witnesses” were looking for a “better resurrection.” In other words, they dealt with the worst days of their lives by anticipating the resurrection to eternal life to come. In spite of their loss, their pain, and their grief, they all believed that God has something better planned for them, beyond this mortal life to the life all believers will receive in the Age to come.

So, we read in the following chapter, Hebrews 12:1-3,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

With Jesus as our primary example, we do not need to grow weary or lose heart whenever we have one of those days. Jesus, himself, had a “bad day” as we all know yet he endured it “for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2). What could that joy be? It was the gladness of knowing that God would raise him from the dead, that he would ascend to heaven to be at the right hand of his Father’s throne, and his eventual return to earth to rule in power and glory. I also think that part of the joy was looking forward to the people he would save from eternal death on that Great Day.

With that in mind, go back to John 14 1-4. Indeed, Jesus said he was going to away. But while away, he would prepare a place for his followers. The place, he said, has “many rooms.” A lot of people do not understand what he really meant. The King James Version, for example, uses “mansions” instead of “rooms.” So they imagine literal mansions in heaven that souls go to when they die. But Jesus says nothing about death neither does he refer to anyone going up to heaven at all, except himself. If he is talking about going to heaven at death, then why did he say, “Where I am going you cannot come?” (John 13:33; see also Luke 12:22-48; John 16:10; Acts 1:11.)

The “many rooms” to which Jesus refers means, “to make one’s abode” and is used metaphorically for God and his Son having their influence on believers through God’s Power received through Christ dwelling in them. This is taken in context with “in my Father’s house.” Rather than a literal house, Jesus is referring to “household,” or family. When we accept God’s salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, they make their abode or dwelling in us. We become a part of his household, or family by faith (note John 14:23).

The place Jesus is preparing is a place in God’s household as we look for his appearing. He is making his abode in the family of believers preparing for the time they meet him in the air, and they co-rule with him in his glorious Kingdom on earth, “for I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Positions of honor and glory await those who are found faithful in him (Matt. 25:23; Rev. 1:6-7). Jesus is coming again to save and reward all those who have entered into the family of God (Heb. 9:28; 1 Thess. 4:16-18).

On a bad day, these are comforting promises which carry us through our difficulties no matter how great or small. Jesus was quick to point this out when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” (v. 6). Jesus is the new and living way for he provides assurance and hope (Heb. 10:19-25) when everything seems to go wrong. He is the truth in whom we can stand fast amidst the storms of life (Eph. 6:14). (Someone has counted that in the Good News Bible, Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth,” 26 times in the Gospel of John.) And Jesus is the life for he gives us peace when we’re restless and stressed (Matt. 11:28-29; John 14:27); joy when we’re sad (John 15:11; 17:13); and love when we feel rejected (John 15:7-10). Whenever we call on God through Jesus’ name, we can face any bad day knowing he is always there to guide us through it (John 15:7; Philippians 4:6-7). The comment is made that if your burdens seem great, remember this: “Daily prayers lessen daily cares.” It’s good advice for one of those bad days.

Here’s MercyMe singing, “Even If,” (Official Lyric Video) http://youtu.be/B6fA35Ved-Y

This is the stirring testimony of singer, songwriter Bart Millard which inspired the song: “How ‘Even If’ started out as a bad day.” http://youtu.be/E3wH_srDZ8k

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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