Grumble Town


Have you ever been to Grumble Town? You probably have but didn’t realize that was the name of it. Such is a place in our imagination according to a story told by Dr. William J. Bennett in his book, The Moral Compass (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1995):

There once was a place called Grumble Town where everybody grumbled, grumbled, grumbled. In summer, the people grumbled that it was too hot. In winter, it was too cold. When it rained, the children whimpered because they couldn’t go outside. When the sun came out, they complained that they had nothing to do. Neighbors griped and groaned about neighbors, parents about children, brothers about sisters. Everybody had a problem, and everyone whined that someone should come do something about it.

One day a peddler trudged into town, carrying a big basket on his back. When he heard all the fussing and sighing and moaning, he put his basket down and cried: “O citizens of this town! Your fields are ripe with grain, your orchards heavy with fruit. Your mountains are covered by good, thick forests, and your valleys watered by deep, wide rivers. Never have I seen a place blessed by such opportunity and abundance. Why are you so dissatisfied? Gather around me, and I will show you the way to contentment.

Now this peddler’s shirt was tattered and torn. His pants showed patches, his shoes had holes. The people laughed to think that someone like him could show them how to be content. But while they snickered, he pulled a long rope from his basket and strung it between two poles in the town square. Then, holding his basket before him, he cried,

“People of Grumble Town! Whoever is dissatisfied, write your troubles on a piece of paper, and bring it and put it in this basket. I will exchange your problem for happiness!”

The crowd swarmed around him. No one hesitated at the chance to get rid of his trouble. Every man, woman, and child in the village scribbled a grumble onto a scrap of paper and dropped it into the basket.

They watched as the peddler took each trouble and hung it on the line. By the time he was through, troubles fluttered on every inch of rope, from end to end. Then he said: “Now each one of you should take from this magic line the smallest trouble you can find.”

They all rushed forward to examine all the troubles. They hunted and fingered and pondered, each trying to pick the very smallest trouble. After a while the magic line was empty.

And behold! Each held in his hand the very same trouble he had put into the basket. Each had chosen his own trouble, thinking it was the smallest of all on the line.

From that day, the people of Grumble Town stopped grumbling all the time. And whenever anyone had the urge to whimper or whine, he thought of the peddler and his magic line.

Yes, Grumble Town sure was filled with a lot of unhappy people UNTIL the peddler came to town. How the peddler must have been saddened to see all the citizens so discontent in the midst of those many blessings!

In spite of the fact that he didn’t own much or have nice things himself, the peddler STILL had joy in his heart. Thanks to the peddler, the sharing of his joy is what turned the people’s grumbling into happiness. Once they got rid of their troubles on the magic line, they were joyful, too.

This story is analogous to what happens when we follow the instruction of OUR Peddler, Jesus Christ. When Jesus enters our lives, our eyes will then be able to see and appreciate the many blessings all around us. Unlike the citizens of Grumble Town who couldn’t see just how blest they were, we have plenty of good things to be thankful for which far outnumber the troubles we often think we have.

When we totally trust and obey him, he turns our frowns upside down with joy and appreciation for all the good things he wants us to have—things like, peace of mind in stressful times, strength to endure hardships, order when there’s disorder, confidence to believe in God’s truth, assurance through faith that frees us from fear, resistance when temptations come our way, spiritual growth to make right decisions, and genuine hope for a better day when Jesus comes.

The Good News is that through Christ, you don’t have to reside in Grumble Town. But if you DO have the urge to whimper and whine like the citizens there, just think of what happened after the peddler came through. For, as the peddler came with joy in his heart, having the joy of Jesus brings complete joy to us, too (John 15:11)!

Without a doubt, it’s Jesus who turns our trouble into happiness. Indeed, he’s the true Source for true contentment. And that definitely leaves us nothing to grumble about but, instead, a whole lot to rejoice in!

Like the citizens learned, compared to everyone else’s troubles, ours may not seem to be so big after all. In fact, through Christ, we have the hope of a better, brighter future beyond those things we moan and groan about in this present life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Moreover, like the peddler who came to Grumble Town, Jesus came gently and humbly and “…for your sake he became poor,” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:19–20; Luke 9:57–58). And while OUR Peddler doesn’t have a magic line, we can still hang our troubles on him and watch what will happen next. For Jesus said,

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. There’s no need for living in Grumble Town when you “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
featuring Loyiso Bala, Neville D and Ivan Siegelaar:

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Trusting God When Terrorism Strikes


Every year, when we come to September 11, we are once again reminded of the terror that was felt 9/11/2001. For it was on that terrible day when the nation was suddenly attacked by Islamic terrorists and thousands of innocent lives were lost. It was a fearful time when terrorism left the free world in a state of shock, panic, confusion, and frustration.

Those of us who were around at that time vividly recall how we felt when we witnessed the planes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Still hearing that it was likely done by terrorists who hijacked the planes, chills ran down our spines when we heard of another airplane hitting the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

And if all that wasn’t enough, it was being reported that another airplane bound for the U.S. Capital ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field. We later learned that some very brave passengers had fought the terrorists who had overtaken the plane. But sadly, during their struggle, the plane went down taking the lives of everyone in the process.

From then on, the world has never been the same. Laws were enacted and security was tightened in public places like airports. There has been a heightened awareness of potential terrorist threats and what to do in certain circumstances. Sometimes terrorists are thwarted; other times they aren’t. And once again, we are reminded of what happens when terrorism raises its ugly head.

Whenever terrorism strikes, we seek a Higher Power to carry us through it. Our trust is in God. We’re talking about more than a motto printed on our money—a motto that some may not take as seriously as they should or others who would just as soon remove it from our money. Our trust is truly and truthfully in God.

We trust him more than we trust political leaders, military strategists, economic experts, professional educators, and even religious authorities. That does not mean we don’t respect them or rely on their skills, experience, and care for our safety and well-being. We do appreciate their aim to protect, defend, and instruct us for maintaining order and stability. Their sacrifices are, indeed, worthy of honor.

But when it comes to the bottom line, we know who we can totally trust to provide for us when terrorism strikes—the Almighty God, himself. The scriptures reassure us that God is the One we can turn to whenever we are faced with any kind of terror.

For a good guideline to follow, we turn to Psalm 91. This chapter shows how God, not humans, is in control of the world even when terrorism leaves us believing everything is out of control. As we trust God, we will find that security, peace of mind, encouragement, confidence and hope will keep us strong when certain circumstances get out of control.

In a sermon, one minister said,

Psalm 91 teaches all of us a crucial lesson for life—a lesson we need to live by whether we are at war against terrorism or whether we are enjoying a period of peace; whether we are experiencing economic prosperity or whether we are struggling waiting for economic recovery; whether our family life is terrific or whether you find your home torn in conflict—this is it THE truth we need to remember…THE truth we must have to live in victory: THE TRUTH THAT I SPEAK OF TODAY MAY APPEAR ELEMENTARY BUT I ASSURE YOU IT IS ALSO ETERNAL…IT IS THIS TRUTH: “IN GOD WE TRUST.” (Pastor Larry Thompson,

When you read this chapter in Psalms, you find four attributes about God in whom you can trust, particularly when terrorism strikes: (1) God is our shelter (vss. 1-4); (2) God is our strength (vss. 5-8); God is our security (vss. 9-10); and God is our salvation (vss. 15-16).

(1) God is our shelter.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
(New American Standard Bible, NASB)

You do not need to be afraid of “terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,” (vs. 5). Disease, destruction, and death, as noted in verses 5-7 are what takes place when terrorists strike. But they will be recompensed for their evil deeds according to verse 8. God is in control; he is our “dwelling place,” (vs. 9).

(2) God is our strength.

5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.

God will support you in his hands, give you wisdom to outwit the lies and deceptions of the world, and empower you to overcome the temptations of evil. Ironically, the words in verses eleven and 12 were enticements to Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness. But he found refuge in the command that, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test,” (Matt. 4:5-7). In the wilderness of our temptations, we can trust God to be our strength.

(3) God is our security.

9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

People try to find security in different ways: They built walls, create better alarm systems, invest billions of dollars in defensive weapons, sit around peace tables, and debate how they will use these tools to win the war over terrorism. But while they are doing these things, we are putting our trust in the best security there ever was: God our Heavenly Father.

(4) God is “MY salvation.”

15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.” (NASB)

Notice he says “MY salvation” rather than “let him see HIS salvation.” In troubling times of terrorism, our trust is in God since he is the true Source of salvation. It comes from him, not us.

When we put our confidence in him, we’re able to wait with courage, serve with patience, and live with loyalty toward him. The “light of salvation” that shines in our lives beams out into a dark world walking in terror every day. Our aim is be a beacon that draws others to the light of that salvation, to give life and hope to all who are seeking it.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian who knew all about terror. It happened from her own experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews during the Holocaust. But she became a survivor, giving testimony of the Lord’s grace. Years later she stated, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

If and when terrorism should strike, we know that God is always present to help us through it (Psalm 46:1). We can trust him as his Word tells us. For we do not know from one day to the next when terror may strike us. But we leave it up to our God to guide and provide like he has promised.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here is a Scripture Song from Psalm 91, “My God, In Him I Will Trust” by Esther Mui,

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The Consciousness of Your Conscience


Now and then you might hear someone say something like, “I always follow my conscience.” Some people think that if they simply follow their conscience, they will never go wrong. But what if they are not aware of what it means to go wrong?


This is where consciousness of conscience comes into play. Consciousness is to have awareness through knowledge and experience. A conscience is the strength of an individual’s moral judgment according to that person’s consciousness of what is right and wrong.

A lot of people depend upon their conscience to be their guide. Some depend upon it to be their only guide, especially in times of decision and action. At least this is what Sir Winston Churchill, the famous prime minister of Great Britain, said onetime in a tribute to his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain.

Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister just before World War II, tried to keep his country out of war with Hitler through a policy of appeasement but the plan was unsuccessful. Later, after recognizing his failure, Chamberlain joined in support of Poland and led Great Britain into war against the German aggressor, Adolf Hitler.

In a tribute to Chamberlain about a month after his death on November 12, 1940, his successor, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, said to the House of Commons,

History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however, the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor. (Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations)

Note what Churchill said…”The only guide to man is his conscience.” According to the prime minister, “the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations” indicate the need to be shielded with a conscience so that history will honor us regarding the actions we take.

Our awareness of their actions is a revelation of their conscience. Our consciousness in regard to their choices, their motives, and the results of their actions, tells a great deal about their conscience. And it sets an example for our conscience, as well.


The consciousness of your conscience is important. If you’re going to follow your conscience, then you must make a conscious effort to have a good one. But how do you have a good conscience?

I submit that it starts with the teachings of God’s Word. When one has a consciousness of God’s presence, power, and purpose for his creation, then one can develop a conscience based upon God’s wisdom, strength, and plan for his creation. We can have a clear conscience knowing that we can trust him in time of need.

This leads me to a joke: A college professor handed out exam papers to his students requiring them to sign a statement at the end saying they did not receive any outside assistance. One student was hesitant about signing it noting that he prayed for God’s assistance. The professor answered back, “You can sign with a clear conscience. From what I’ve seen, God did not assist you.”


Speaking of God, are you aware of the many Bible references to the human conscience? Consider a small sample of the following scriptures on the conscience…

  • Good conscience (1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and good conscience and a sincere faith.” ~New American Standard Bible, NASB)
  • Clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” ~NASB ~The Apostle Paul to Timothy)
  • Proud confidence (2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you,” ~NASB.)
  • Cleansed conscience (Hebrews 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” ~NASB)
  • Defiled conscience (Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” ~NASB)
  • Evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” ~NASB)
  • Weak conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7-13, “However, not all men have this knowledge [consciousness of the one God, our Father and Creator, and his Son, Jesus Christ] …and their conscience being weak is defiled…But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow becomes a stumbling block to the weak….And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ….” ~NASB).

Upon a close examination of these and other scriptures, you’ll find that having a good conscience or a bad one depends on one’s consciousness of sins. Hebrews 10:1-2 says,

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would not longer have had consciousness of sins?”


The writer of Hebrews in these verses is referring to the Law of Moses, given directly by God, himself. We are well aware of what right and wrong are through the Law. Sin is disobedience to the Law. So when the Law is broken, whether intentionally or not, our conscience bothers us. The sacrificial offerings that Israel was instructed to observe in their worship raised the consciousness of their sins and reminded of them of their guilt (Hebrews 10:3-7). In fact, one of their offerings was called a “guilt offering,” (Leviticus 6:1-7).

While it is perfectly natural for the Jewish people to have a guilty conscience for breaking the Law, you might ask, Then why do I still have a guilty conscience even if I may not be Jewish? The Apostle Paul answers the question this way:

“For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ,” (Romans 2:14-16., NASB).

In other words, God has implanted this little thing called a conscience in everyone’s brain whether they are conscious of the written Law or not. And from that conscience   the Law is written in our hearts. Thus, we are instinctively capable of telling right from wrong.

It’s because of this fact that we know (1) God exists; (2) Sin is real; and (3) We have a conscious choice to make according to our conscience. Our conscience is a testimony that God is the Supreme Lawgiver and Judge. And it’s because of our conscience that we are aware of the reality of sin. What we do with our belief in God and the condition of sin we’re in will have a bearing on our conscience.

Because of our conscience, we know the need for having human laws and governments. We make moral or immoral choices according to our conscience. We make plans, join certain groups, take various actions as our conscience dictates.

But what if we ignore our conscience? What if we shut off the consciousness of God? And, what if we no longer abide by the absolutes God provides for establishing order and contentment in our lives? You can imagine the chaos that will result.


A world that is no longer conscious of God and loses the sensitivity of its conscience… Well, that’s just the problem that the Apostle Paul describes in First Timothy 4:1-2,

“But the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” NASB).

We believe that “in later times” is a reference to the near return of Jesus Christ. One of the signs pointing to it is the great “falling away” (a.k.a.. “the apostasy,” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) of believers from the faith established through Christ. The falling away will occur through erroneous teachings and deceitfulness of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling for what it is good and right. Leaders will do whatever they have to do— manipulate and take advantage of anyone—for the sake of their own power, greed, and control.

These days we don’t have to look very far—indeed, right under our nose—to witness the lies and deceptions of those having a seared conscience: politicians preaching socialism, the “fake news” in the media, left-leaning judges, propagandists who pose as educators, and so-called “experts” in the science field who deny the existence of the one, true God. Add to these things, the rise of false religions, cults, and Satanic worship, and one can see how close we are getting to the age of “the Antichrist”—”the man of lawlessness”—who will have no conscience at all (Daniel 11:3639; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18, 22; Revelation 13:1-10).


That is why it is so imperative to keep our own conscience clear as devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus exhorted his Church to be ready for his coming. For there will be many false Christ’s and prophets who “will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, the very elect,” (Matt. 24:23-24, NASB).

Jesus is the One whom God gave to save us and give us a pure conscience. The consciousness of our conscience is built upon the gift of God’s grace and the growth of our faith through Christ. Had Jesus not died for our sins and given us the hope of living forever in his Kingdom, then our conscience would forever be filled with guilt and shame.

But Jesus, who was without sin, took our guilt and sin upon himself and died in our place so as to spare us from the second death (Revelation 20:6) as well as to provide forgiveness (1 John 1:7-10) with the hope of receiving eternal life when he returns (2 Corinthians 5:21). The shedding of his innocent blood bought us our eternal salvation (Romans 8:1-8). Therefore, if we willingly accept him as our Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38-39), we are covered by his blood with a clean conscience so as not to have the stain of a guilty conscience due to sin (Hebrews 10:22).

Desiring to become more conscious of Christ in our lives, we prepare our conscience to live, learn, and grow in our faith. As we follow his Word, we are aware of the times in which we’re living. And our conscience speaks clearly to us, Get ready, for you don’t know when that Great Day will come! “Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming,” (Matthew 24:42-51, NASB).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. When we recognize the holiness of God, we can start to appreciate our need to have a good, clear conscience through his Son, Jesus Christ. With that thought in mind, here’s Addison Road singing, “What Do I Know of Holy?”

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Hard Work From a Biblical Perspective

A lesson from ants

I was watching an old TV show the other day where the son of a very influencial and corrupt man was claiming that he was a converted Christian. The son had lived a rather corrupt life, himself, and spent several years in prison. But now he was released prison and, like the prodigal son in the Bible, had returned home to show his parents that he was a new man, reborn as a devout believer.

The ex-con confessed his old ways and his mother readily accepted his conversion. But it took more time to convince his dad of the change. The son quoted scripture to him, did odd jobs around the house that he’d never do before, said how he regretted his former way of life, and that he was now starting to go to church to pray and worship.

The truth was, however, it was all a scam. The son had not really changed. In fact, while he was going to such great lengths to show his “conversion” he was actually in cahoots with some rather shady characters. His motive? To bring down his dad for, of all things, it was on account of him that the son went to prison in the first place. And now the son was using his “conversion” to trick his dad and land him into trouble with these other characters.

To me, this story illustrates how much hard work it takes, even when it comes to doing the wrong things. Now that Labor Day (a.k.a. Labour Day as the Canadians spell it) is around the corner, we think of workers and the hard work they do. But what about those who work hard at things in which the Bible doesn’t necessarily approve?

For example, thinking of that TV show…. There is the hard work people put in to tricking and deceiving others. There is the hard work that it takes to get others into trouble, to get even, to make fake impressions, and twist the truth. Then, there’s the hard work that’s put into stealing from others, making shady deals, taking advantage of innocent persons, and terrorizing others.

Speaking of that…NEWS FLASH…would you believe that even as I am writing these very words, I just now got a scam phone call??? It was a recorded message telling me that my social security number was suspended and that a warrant was put out for my arrest? I immediately hung up for I’ve heard of such scams.

Devious persons work hard, like the scammers trying to trick me. They plan, they scheme, they lie, they cheat, they steal, they risk everything even at the expense of everyone else to get what they so lustfully desire. They truly try so very hard to get by with their crime. But this is not the kind of work that is sanctioned by God according to his Word.

God’s Word condemns evil work but commends good work. Hard, honest work is an honor for it honors God, who himself, sets the pattern of goodness and righteousness. As it says in James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). God doesn’t change and this includes his principles toward having a good work ethic.

For God rewards those who work hard at doing good but he also rewards those who work hard at doing evil. God rewards the good workers but punishes the evil workers. If we are good hard workers, we will receive God’s blessings but not so with those troublemakers who work hard at being dishonest, lazy, and right down evil.

Get a load of the following passages…

  • Genesis 2:1-3. God worked for 6 days and saw that everything was good (Genesis 1:31), then he rested—that is, he ceased from his work—on the seventh day and made it holy.
  • Gen. 3:16-19. Due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they sinned, what was once delightful, trouble-free work (Gen. 2:15) became dreadful and miserable, “by the sweat of the brow.”
  • Ecclesiastes 1:3, 14; 2:11; 4:8. Solomon takes a dim, yet realistic view of human labor and concludes, “All is vanity.” Everything thing in this life is only temporary, including our works. In the end, we all die, go to the grave, and turn back into the dust from which we were created (Eccl. 3:20).
  • Eccl. 9:5-10. Even when you die, after all your work is done, you can’t take it with you. So whatever work you do in this life, you’d better make sure you do your level best to make it count for something.
  • Proverbs 14:22-24. There are two ways to deal with hard work: (1) You can try to get around it by plotting something morally wrong, or (2) You can approach hard work wisely through constructiveness and a positive attitude.
  • Proverbs 4:14-17; 13:11. We are to abstain from working hard in all forms of wickedness. Wickedness is anything that is immoral and goes against God’s will and way Isaiah 1:4; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude 5-19).
  • Proverbs 13:4; 18:9-11; 20:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:10. God favors those who are industrious but he doesn’t like “couch potatoes.” Those who are too lazy to work (a.k.a., “sluggards”) will end in poverty. On the other hand, those who work hard and do what’s right will prosper.
  • Prov. 6:7-8; 10:4-5; 12:24; 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:6-7. God will bless those who labor diligently, unselfishly, and honorably without complaining too much (Philippians 2:14-16).
  • Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28; John 5:25-29; Daniel 12:2. Good, God-fearing workers who go about serving and helping others will be richly rewarded in view of God’s future Kingdom. But those who do not apply themselves in this manner by going against God’s instructions will face his wrath (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8; 22:12).
  • 1 Timothy 5:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:6-14. God wants his followers to mind their own business, work with their own hands, and not work as busybodies interfering with others’ lives.
  • Romans 12-11-12; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23-24. God favors those who serve him by laboring according to his standards. Whatever work we do, our priority as believers is to do it for his glory and praise. A Christian is not a worker who leaves his or her duties at the church door. Rather, a Christian’s work goes wherever he or she goes, the mission field: at home, on the job, in the marketplace, and every other place one goes. “Do ALL to the glory of God.”
  • Matt. 9:37-38; Luke 10:2-16; John 4:35-36. Whatever a Christian’s occupation, we want to remember how important it is to “occupy” until Jesus comes (Luke 19:13)that is, to be laborers of the Lord’s harvest (Matt. 20:1-16), winning others to the Good News of Jesus Christ and God’s coming Kingdom. For that is the most rewarding of any hard work we’ll ever do.

May you have a safe and happy Labo(u)r Day!
And Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

Here is Robin Mark performing, “Days of Elijah.” Please note the words,

And these are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the laborers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the Word of the Lord.

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Where Will You Go When You Die?


A funny story is told about an old tombstone in an Indiana cemetery that bears the following epitaph:

Pause Stranger, when you pass me by.
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be.
So prepare for death and follow me.

A passerby read the words on the tombstone and scratched below them this reply:

To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went.

Most people have the same sentiments as this passerby. The common belief is that when bad people die, they go down below the ground to be endlessly tortured in a fiery, burning hell. But good people are believed to go up to heaven at death to live in blissful splendor where God and his angels dwell.

Naturally, most would prefer the latter place. For they’ve probably been told all their lives: You be good and you’ll have wonderful happiness in heaven when you die; be bad and you ‘ll go to hell and suffer forever. Some add another place: Purgatory—sort of a stopping off place for punishing sinners who need their sins purged so they’ll be qualified to enter heaven.


What a lot of people, however, might be shocked to learn is that the Bible has something much different to say about where you go when you die. For example, Ecclesiastes 3:19-22 says,

(19) For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. (20) All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. (21) Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? (22) I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him? (New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Note that it says, “All [both humans and animals] go to the same place” when they die. We’re all made of the dust (Genesis 2:7) so, when we take our final breath, we “all” will turn back into the dust. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:19, says, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (See also, Gen. 18:27; Psalm 103).

For humans, the only thing that goes back to God is our breath (Hebrew, ruach and neshamah; Greek, pneuma) but that’s only the air that is expelled from our lungs once we die. The breath of life is associated with the oxygen that humans inhale. Without it, we cease to live. Our brain and nervous system cease to function when we no longer have breath.

When we permanently stop breathing at death, we can no longer experience consciousness. We cannot think, feel, or choose. Like it says in Psalm 146:4, when a person dies, “He breathes his last breath, he returns to the dust; and that same hour all his thinking ends,” (The New English Bible, NEB).


Likewise, the Bible describes the nature of death as…

  • Having no remembrance (Psalm 6:5);
  • No ability to praise the Lord; total silence; no hope (Psalm 115:17; Isaiah 38:18);
  • Unconscious sleep (Job 14:12; Psalm 13:3; Jeremiah 51:39, 57; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15);
  • No activity, planning, knowledge, wisdom for the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:10);
  • The dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5);
  • No love, hatred, zeal, nor any reward for the dead (Eccl. 9:6).

So much for feeling any kind of torment in a burning hell or eternal bliss in heaven.

So, where do the dead go? Well, for one thing, it’s not heaven, or else the Bible would say so. In John 3:13 Jesus says, “And no one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man,” (NASB). You would think that if all good people go to heaven, the Bible would say so. After all, aren’t all the righteous supposed to be rewarded with eternal life?

And yet, all the faithful including those listed in chapter 11 of Hebrews, never have experienced that promise yet. Rather than being in heaven, they are still waiting in their graves for the fulfillment of God’s promise to receive eternal life. Hebrews 11:39-40 says, “And all these, having gained approval [lit., “obtained a testimony”] through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God has provided something better for us [the living] so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

One of the faithful, listed in Hebrews 11, is King David (vs. 32). Just like we all do, David fell asleep in death. The Apostle Paul said this patriarch of the faith was laid to rest like all those before him (Acts 13:36). In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter mentioned David, too: “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day,” (Acts 2:29). He went on the say, “David has not ascended into the heavens,” (Acts 2:34).


As we’ve noted, everyone—whether good or bad—goes to one place at death. In the Bible, that place is called the grave. It’s also called “hell,” derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, helan, which literally means “to cover” or “hide out of sight,” as cited by the late Dr. Alva G. Huffer in his book, Systematic Theology, (published by Atlanta Bible College, McDonough, GA, 1960, 7th printing, 2010, p. 160).

Dr. Huffer went on to explain that when Bible scholars translated the Hebrew language in the Old Testament and the Greek language in the New Testament into English, they used the word hell that originally referred to the grave. He said,

The men who originally wrote the Bible, of course, never heard of the word hell, since this is an English word and the English language was not spoken in Bible times. In order to understand the nature of the Bible hell, we must determine the meaning of the words used by Bible writers. ( (Ibid., pp. 160-161)

So, when the Bible refers to hell, one must go to the Hebrew and Greek words from which the word was translated. So, the Hebrew word for hell in the Old Testament is sheol. And the Greek word for hell in the New Testament is hades. Both sheol and hades mean the same—namely, “the grave.” Some modern translations use the original Hebrew and Greek words instead of translating them into hell.

In essence, it can be said that all—both the righteous and unrighteous; good and bad—go to the Bible hell since all those who die are in their graves. The Bible says that men like Jacob (Gen. 37:35); Job (Job 14:13; 17:13); Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:10) all went to the Bible hell when they died. Even Jesus, himself, was in hell (Acts 2:27, 31) temporarily when he was buried in the tomb for three days and three nights. Dr. Huffer says, “Jacob, Job, Hezekiah, and Jesus did not go to a burning hell. They died and were buried. They were in the grave, the Bible hell,” (Ibid., p. 162).


Someone might wonder, What about the Bible passages where hell is associated with fire? Actually, there are 12 verses in the New Testament where the Greek word Gehenna was also translated hell. Gehenna was literally a place outside of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned. Also known as “the valley of Hinnom,” it was sort of like the city garbage incinerator where refuse, rubbish, and animal carcasses were consumed. Criminals who were crucified were also known to be cast into Gehenna. (Ibid., pp. 163-4).

When the Bible speaks of Gehenna fire, it’s referring to a future judgment of all the wicked, not something that happens at death. Gehenna hell is analogous to the “lake of fire,” for example, in Revelation 20:11-15, when the wicked dead are resurrected at the end of Jesus’ thousand year-reign, judged, and cast into, which is the second death. There will not be eternal torment but total destruction of the wicked (Malachi 4:1, 3; Psalm 92:7; 145:20; Obadiah 16; Matthew 7:13; Philippians 3:19; 2 Peter 2:12).


We can be most thankful that there is hope beyond the grave. Although all die the first death (Hebrews 9:27), we can escape the second death if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (Rev. 20:6, 15; 21:7-8). For He is the One we eagerly look forward to, who will come in power and glory to raise all those who are asleep in death.

When Jesus comes at the first resurrection, all the righteous who’ve died will be raised back to life to receive everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 21:4). And they will be co-rulers with Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, over all the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 1:6-7; 20:6). This is the Good News for all believers to proclaim.

Although we know that all go to their graves at death, and all turn to dust, we also know that Jesus will come to raise the dead when he establishes God’s Kingdom on the earth. He is our example since God resurrected his Son from death to immortality after he died (Acts 2:31-32). As it says in Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him,” (NASB).

And so, if I were to respond to the passerby, I would add this little ditty:

When Jesus comes in glory bright,
It will be a glorious sight;
Up from their graves the dead shall rise,
The living, also, to the skies;
The just shall live eternally,
The rest are doomed, no more they’ll be;
So be ready, watch and pray
For that Resurrection Day!

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Speaking of our hope, here’s a new arrangement to an old song, “Jesus Shall Reign,”

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A Sermon in Shoes

Sermon in Shoes

When I was a child in Sunday School, I remember singing one of my favorite choruses called, “A Sermon in Shoes.” The lyrics went like this:

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

The song is a reminder that where ever a Christian walks, he or she is expected to share the Gospel news to others. Whether it be by one’s actions, attitudes, or personal testimony, a Christian is always a sermon in shoes. It goes along with something that American evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) once said: “The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ.”

Indeed, it’s only fitting that we are a sermon in shoes if we’re walking with Jesus. And speaking of fitting…

According to the New English Translation (NET), Ephesians 6:14 & 15 says, “Stand firm, therefore,…by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace…”

The Apostle Paul was using the analogy of a Christian being a good soldier for Christ—“Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God….” (Eph. 6:11, 13). In his day, the typical soldier was equipped with a belt that protected one’s midsection, breastplate that protected the chest area, cleated shoes or sandals for firm footing, a shield for protecting the whole body, a helmet to protect one’s head, and, as you’d expect, a sword. Thus, in terms of being a soldier of Christ, the apostle speaks of “the belt of truth,” “the breastplate of righteousness,” “fitting your feet,” “the shield of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and “the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God,” (Eph. 6:13-17).

From these verses, we can conclude that being a sermon in shoes is part of being a good soldier of Christ. For one important feature of standing firm as a believer includes, “fitting our feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace.”

We can only be effective in our walk with Christ as long as we hold our ground concerning “the good news of God’s peace.” This involves the inner peace that transcends human comprehension and guards our own hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Peace of this kind takes “preparation” meaning, “readiness of mind.” Which begs a few important questions: Are you—like a good soldier or member of a winning team—all “psyched up” and mentally prepared to be a sermon in shoes? Additionally, what condition are the heels of your shoes? Are you so worn out in mind and body, like the heels of an old shoe, that you can’t really dig in your spiritual heels and resist the temptations that cause you to slip and stumble?

Along with preparation, think of the need for those shoes to be properly fitted. No good soldier would even think of going out to battle if the shoes or boots are too big or too small for his or her feet. It would be easier for the enemy to advance if all the soldiers were distracted with tired, aching feet. Neither can we imagine civilians in everyday life dealing well with this situation, either.

Naturally, shoes of any kind and in any walk of life that don’t fit properly are not going to feel very comfortable. It’s been said, “Nothing seems to last as long as a pair of shoes that doesn’t fit.” This is true no matter how fashionable the shoes. You can add all kinds of things—from heel pads to insoles—but if these accessories don’t help then what good use are those great looking shoes going to be? They’ll probably never leave the closet and see the light of day.

The same goes with being a sermon in shoes. If our feet are not properly fitted “with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace,” how far do you think our walk with Christ will get us? Therefore, we need to be ready, willing, and able to “spread the gospel news,” like the chorus says, and get “out of the closet” of our own comfort zone. And how can we be a light to the world if we don’t let our sermon in shoes shine out to others? 

True, it takes commitment, courage, and compassion to be a sermon in shoes. The quip is, “Some people can talk Christianity by the yard but they can’t, or won’t, walk it by the inch.” But if we’re going to walk the walk as followers of Christ then we will put forth the effort that comes with it. After all, we do have some mighty big shoes to fill as “imitators of God,” (Eph. 5:1-2).

We’re glad to be a sermon in shoes in spite of the fact that some will ridicule and mock us as we’re stepping in the Light. And, admittedly, they might have a valid reason if we put our foot in our mouth along the way and make a slip or two of the tongue.

No one, by the way, likes a shoe if the tongue is all bunched up with your foot inside. Fix the tongue, and the walk is much more smooth and easy, literally and figuratively. We must be careful not to put our foot, with shoe and all , in our mouth simply because we can’t hold our tongue. By the way, James 3:1-12 addresses the issue of controlling the human tongue.

And then there’s another important point about being a sermon in shoes…

Did you ever complain to a friend about something negative another person said about you? Maybe you were accused of having a certain flaw or weakness. And your friend told you, “Well, if the shoe fits…!” Ouch! But after some soul-searching you realized maybe your friend was really being honest and you really do need to make some improvement. Well, what are friends for, anyway? A sermon in shoes will take things like that in stride, right?

And speaking of soul-searching, or in the matter of shoes, “sole-searching”…

I have a real old, worn out pair of running shoes that I use for mowing my lawn. Now, I use a push mower, not one of those riding mowers that hardly takes any sweat and muscle and strain. I’m talking about a push mower that requires much walking over rough, hilly, bumpy terrain.

And so you can imagine the beating my grass-stained,  dried-mud-caked mowing shoes, with as many holes as Swiss cheese, has taken. I’ve duct taped them so many times in order to keep the soles on that they look like they’ve been through surgery after a bomb went off. Well, the other day, it finally happened…The duct tape wouldn’t even hold them. I lost the sole on each shoe before I had the lawn completely done. It took some “sole-searching” to find them hiding in the grass. 

Losing those soles got me to thinking about something else we pronounce the same way. Only it’s spelled s-o-u-l of which Jesus spoke—the kind he said you could lose if you gained the whole world—in Matthew 16:24-28. He was talking about the seriousness of discipleship. And that includes being a sermon in shoes without getting all bogged down about profiting from the pleasures of the world. You can have everything the ungodly world can offer but what good is it if you can’t cash it in for an eternal reward (the change from a mortal soul to an immortal soul) when Jesus comes in his Kingdom?

Being a sermon in shoes is truly a challenge. It not only means telling the good news to others. It also means showing it through empathy for others without complaining about our own woes. As one person commented, “Some people who had no shoes have been known to complain until they met someone who had no feet.”

It’s like the saying usually credited as a Native American aphorism, “walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins.” Some say the words are actually derived from a poem originally titled, “Judge Softly,” retitled later, “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins, ” which was written by Mary T. Lathrop and published in 1895.

Whether you’re a sermon in moccasins or shoes, you still need to put yourself in the place of others to understand their feelings and experiences through the love of Christ. We will then be able to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep,” (Romans 12:15). In so doing, others will be able to see what the Good News of God’s peace is all about—sort of like the arch support of a shoe. We all need support when the going gets rough (Ecclesiastes 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

And yet, as much as we try to support others, we must be careful not to appear as a “goody two- shoes.” Support? Yes. But not because we think we’re any better than someone else. Being a good sermon in shoes is reminding ourselves that no one—not even me, myself, and I—is above another person as far as virtue is concerned. As we’re told in Romans 12:3, “Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.”

And, as it says in Philippians 2:3, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself,” (NET).

Shoes are, indeed, excellent objects for learning lessons on life. I’ve talked about heels, souls, tongues, the importance good fitting, comfortable shoes and support. But what about the shoe strings, and the eyelets or eyes? If we don’t keep our shoes tied tightly, we’re likely to trip and fall and get hurt. Good, strong shoe strings are, therefore, required.

In the same vein, to be a sermon in shoes, we will want to prevent tripping, falling, and getting hurt. Thus, we want to be tightly laced to our principles and beliefs that keep us safe and secure in the Lord. In so doing, we let our eyes (eyelets, get it?) see and discover what God would have us learn and do while he controls our heartstrings through faith—a distinct characteristic of one who is a sermon in shoes.

Sadly, there are persons without Christ who are walking around in need of a sermon in shoes. So we go about the business of “soul-saving.” Our passion for lost “souls” prompts us to make sure we take the Good News to them. To those who receive that Good News, we will be timely messengers who share the Word that brings peace, joy, and ultimately salvation in their walk of life. Like it says in Romans 10:15, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.’” (Compare Isaiah 52:7).

And so…

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here is group of church children singing, “A Sermon in Shoes,”

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Coming to the Rescue

Luke 19.10

Whenever tragedy strikes, rescuers rapidly respond to save lives and prevent further danger. In any emergency—whether from natural disaster, accidental situations, or violent outbreaks—immediate help is needed. And we can be grateful for those who jump in without any hesitancy to come to the aid of the victims caught in their struggle to survive.

Lately, as we witness the shocking news of mass shootings in public gatherings, we think of those who come to the rescue to save others caught in harm’s way. In fascination, we watch first responders—police officers, firefighters, paramedics, medical technicians, and the like—bravely moving toward the chaos at hand. We commend them for fulfilling their duty, taking quick action in spite of endangering their own lives in the process.

We are also moved when others nearby come to the rescue. Take, for example, the most recent massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The mass shootings shook our nation as we first learned of a shooter that went into a Walmart in El Paso, opening fire into a huge crowd of shoppers on Saturday, August 3. In the wake of this evil act, 22 were killed and dozens more wounded. Then, during the early morning hours on Sunday,  August 4, a shooter entered Dayton’s downtown Oregon District—a collection of bars, restaurants and local businesses—killing 9 persons and injuring 27.

With all the news since then, we read of heroism in both scenes. This includes those who dove into the fray, some even acting as human shields, to save innocent lives. These were compassionate individuals who not only came to the rescue of loved ones but persons who were complete strangers.

An on-line article in the Dayton Daily News this week (8/8/19) fitly illustrates how good people are willing to help others in distress. In their article titled, “Many people rushed to help Dayton shooting victims,” Chris Stewart and Kaitlyn Shroeder give an intriguing report on their findings…

  • A critical care nurse fleeing from the scene, at first, stops and observes all the rows of wounded bodies on the sidewalk and starts to administered CPR on the ones who were will still alive.
  • A woman and her fiancé attempted to help the shooter’s sister who was among the critically wounded as the woman applied chest compressions she’d learned in a CPR course. All the while she kept praying for the victim to try to keep her alive. Sadly, however, the shooter’s sister died later.
  • A woman and her friend came running to the wounded and dying as soon as they heard shots being fired and found a man bleeding from a gunshot. She used her hands to try and stop the bleeding but he couldn’t be saved.
  • Many on the scene were said to hold up flashlights so people could apply first aid. Some supplied tourniquets and others provided comfort.
  • It was reported that 21 medic units were also tending to the wounded while police were busy chasing down the shooter.

After the shooting occurred, reports say it only took police about 30 seconds to bring down the gunman. Many believe that police officers probably saved dozens of other people from getting shot or killed had they not taken immediate action. They and all others who came to the rescue are commended for their acts of courage and compassion.

If someone has ever come to your rescue, whatever the situation, you can truly appreciate their efforts, concerns, and sacrifice for your care and safety. In fact, we can all be glad there are those who are even willing to take a risk at their own expense to come to our aid in time of need.

If we put this experience in a spiritual perspective, we can be even more thankful. For there’s another kind of situation we all find ourselves in as believers. And that’s the need to be rescued from the curse of sin.

You could say that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the First Responder to our need to be saved from the sin into which we’re born. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 6:23|). Christ came to rescue us when he died for us (Romans 5:6) so that we can be saved from the penalty of sin—the second death (Revelation 20:15; 21:8). For all sin requires that the penalty of death be paid.

Jesus died on the cross and took our sins upon him, enabling us to be forgiven of our sins (1 Corinthains 15:3; Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 4:10).

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior through faith, repentance, and baptism, we enter a newness of life in him (Romans 6:1-11). We pursue God’s holiness, love, and truth as we’re filled with his Power. And our hope and faith is built upon the promise that Jesus will come again to establish God’s perfect Kingdom upon the earth (Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:11-14).

The Good News for us is that Jesus will come again to rescue all his people from the curse of sin and death when he sets up God’s everlasting Kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 1:32-33; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 19:16). In several verses in Revelation, Jesus says, “I come quickly,” (3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). In other words, when he comes to rescue us, he will come “swiftly” according to his perfect timing.

The wicked, however, will not be saved as they will be raised, judged, and cast into the lake of fire (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Peter 2:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). God will put a final end to the evil that prevails in this present age. There will be no more curse of sin and death (Revelation 22:3).

One of the wonderful blessings of being a Christian is not only that Christ rescues and saves us, but that we can save others from the judgement fire and eternal death. Jude 20-23 says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB).

When we influence others through our Christian witness and they accept Christ, too, then we can rejoice knowing that we’ve been able to play a role in their salvation. That is one of the most satisfying feelings—coming to the rescue of others even as Christ has rescued us!

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s Christian singing artist, Lauren Daigle presenting, “Rescue”:

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