MARCH 2004 - MAY 2004 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.26.04

Success

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - Psalm 23.

King Solomon over the course of his lifetime tried about every thing feasible to find satisfaction and fulfillment in life. He had the money and the power to try it all. It appears that toward the end of his life he turned away from his decadent lifestyle and turned back to God. Solomon turned back to the teachings he had received at an early age. He says at the end of his life that man should, "Fear God and keep His commandments."

The fact is that you may gain the whole world and still lose your own soul. That is what Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Solomon understood this and his father King David understood this as well.

King David had a lifetime of experience behind the words that he wrote in the 23rd Psalm. What depth and wisdom are contained in those few verses! Here we have direction for living our lives and for ending our lives. How are we to live our lives? We are to follow our shepherd through life's journey even if it takes us through the valley of the shadow of death. Even though the way may be fearful, we are to follow our shepherd each step of the way through this life. How are we to end our lives? We are to follow our Lord to His home where He has prepared a place for us.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking and pondering what constitutes, what makes up a successful life. I think that this is it. If we can look back over our lives and say the Lord was my Shepherd then that is successful living. And, at the end of our lives, we can not only say the Lord was my Shepherd but that He is my Shepherd and that is true success. I can think back to the funeral services of so many dear saints of God who did not have much in terms of material possessions. Some might say that they were failures in terms of the world. However, we know the truth of the matter is that they were successes in the ultimate meaning of the word. Because they walked with their Lord throughout their lives and to the very end and into eternity.

Is your life a success in worldly terms or is it a success in spiritual terms? Is the Lord truly your shepherd and when you face death will you know you are going home to dwell in the House of the Lord forever and ever?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.21.04

Against the Wind

Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. - Numbers 22:31-32.

The story of the talking donkey is recorded in Numbers chapter 22 and is a warning to all those who oppose God. Balaam was walking on the edge trying to please God and at the same time please himself by helping the enemy of God's people. Balak wanted Balaam to curse Israel and Balaam had hopes that God would allow him to do so. Of course, it would never happen. Balaam was walking this fine line because of his greed and his hopes of receiving monetary gain from the enemy. It was a dangerous and as the Bible says a "reckless" path for him to take. Balaam received some indication of this when his donkey talked to him and his eyes were opened so that he could see what the donkey could see. What could the donkey see? "he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn."

There is an old Bob Seger song called "Against the Wind." Here are some of the lyrics:

Against the wind. We were runnin against the wind. We were young and strong; we were runnin a- gainst the wind.
And the years rolled slowly past.
And I found myself alone.
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends.
I found myself further and further from my home. And I Guess I lost my way.
There were oh, so many roads.
I was livin' to run, and runnin' to live,
Never worryin' about payin', or even how much I owed.
Runnin' 8 miles a minute for months at a time.
Breakin' all of the rules that would bend.
I begin to find myself just searchin'...
Searchin' for shelter again and again.
Against the wind. A little somethin' against the wind.
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind.
Well those drifter's days are past me now. I've got
so much more to think about.
Deadlines and commitments.
What to leave in, What to leave out.
Against the wind. I'm still runnin' against the wind.
I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind.
To follow the path of Balaam which is opposition of what God wants is a "reckless" path. It is a path that is "runnin" against the wind. The Bible tells us more about the danger of such a path in 2 Peter 2:12-17, But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Are you "runnin' against the wind?" Are you engaged in willful disobedience to your Lord? You know what you ought to do but you still do what you know you should not do. Are you engaged in adultery, or sexual sins, or use of illegal substances, or abuse of alcohol, or robbery, cheating, stealing, deception? Or you can fill in the blank of what it is you know you are doing that you should not be doing. If so, you are on a dangerous and "reckless" path and the Lord will oppose you every step of the way. You will not succeed. You will fail. You will come to a desolate end when you run against the wind in opposition to the Lord God. Ask God to open your eyes so that you can see the truth of your situation. It may be that God will use a donkey to talk to you or more likely a friend, or a stranger. God will speak and you will know the truth.< /B>

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.17.04

VBS

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6.

But He answered and said, "It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."' - Matthew 4:4.

During most of my years in grade school, my family did not attend church. However, during the summer, I was allowed to go to Vacation Bible School and I have good memories of those times. It was in Vacation Bible School that I first memorized Scripture. It was in Vacation Bible School that I learned that Jesus always forgives. It was there that I learned that church was not a boring place to be but a fun place where I heard that God loved me. Bible School was a big deal to a little boy trapped out on a farm far away from any friends to play with.

One summer in particular was exciting because I not only went to the Methodist Vacation Bible School but I also was invited to go to the Nazarene Bible School. The Nazarene Bible School was located at a little country church and there I encountered more than fun with my friends. My first day in class our teacher asked us if anyone knew the Lord's Prayer. Without thinking of the consequences, I held up my hand that I knew it. I did not want everyone to think I didn't know anything. I had no idea what the Lord's Prayer was, so I wasn't prepared for the teacher's next question. She wanted me to say it! How could I say it when I didn't even know what it was?

My teacher had a very fitting assignment for me during the rest of the week. My project was to memorize the Lord's Prayer and say it during the program Saturday night when all the parents would be there to see what their children had made and learned during the week. I can tell you that it was very lonely up there on the stage Saturday night when all by myself I recited the Lord�s Prayer. It was my first experience with Scripture memorization and with public speaking. I now knew what the Lord's Prayer was!

Bible School helped to form my values, which included the knowledge that there is a God and that I need Him in my life. I learned that God is always listening and that I can talk to Him like a friend. Bible School laid the foundation for my eventually coming to personally know Jesus as my Savior and for my hearing God�s call upon my life.

I still have all of my Vacation Bible School Certificates, which my mother pasted into a scrapbook. Precious memories, which helped to form a life. If you have children, I would encourage you to let them attend Vacation Bible School this summer. Attending Bible School will help to set the values and direction of their lives.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.13.04

Perspective

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:4-13.

The church faces an uphill battle in order to grow in numbers. I know that many say not to worry about numbers just be concerned about spiritual growth. However, to some extent the numbers of people in the local body of Christ represent evangelism that is the result of spiritual growth. Why is it an uphill battle? Because there are continually a stream of people for one reason or another leaving the local body of believers. Most of those leaving we have no control over and are unable to influence whether they leave or not. For example in the five years I have been in this pastorate we have lost in terms of numbers approximately 50% of those currently attending Sunday School. If that many were to suddenly leave today we would be half the size we were last Sunday.

Why have people left our church? Sadly, but with rejoicing, people do move on from this world and into the presence of their Lord. This is sometimes shocking when it is an active and still faithful believer. Part of your family is gone who has contributed to the vibrancy and well-being of the family. It can be devastating and does take some time to recover. Others leave the church because they move from the area. Again, this hurts but we know that God will use them in their new church. Some leave simply because they grow up, go to college, get married or move for employment reasons. Sometimes people leave because of reasons that are not clear. Are they upset about something that has happened, have they fallen away, or were they never born again? It can be disturbing but even with your best efforts and the efforts and prayers of the entire church they remain separated and apparently have no desire to return.

I had been somewhat troubled by the lack of numerical growth in our church. Over the past few days, God has been speaking to me about looking at the entire picture the entire context or perspective. Putting it in the perspective of those who are no longer here, I can see that our church has been very aggressive in outreach and evangelism. Even though numerically we are at about the same or slightly lower level than we were at five years ago we are not stagnate but alive and well.

Not only is putting things in perspective helpful in looking at the church but it is also helpful in our personal lives and situations we encounter. Many of us have a tendency to overreact and become discouraged easily when some things happen. Whatever the situation whether it is marital, employment, education, interpersonal relations, illness, injury or personal spiritual growth we need to keep it in perspective. Before we beat ourselves up about what we have or have not done, we ought to look at the big picture. What does God see when He looks at our lives? What does He want us to do at this point?

Most likely, there is always room for improvement and surely we have made some mistakes but everyone needs improvement and makes mistakes. Even though we are in a terrible situation it does not necessarily mean that all is lost and that we have failed or that God is angry with us. It could be that we are right where God wants us to be and that we need to continue walking with Him as He leads us through this time. The apostle Paul understood this as he writes "...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Philippians 4:11b-12)."

Remember to keep things in perspective and ask God what His perspective is about whatever situation you are facing. Is the glass half-full or half empty? Through the power of God, the glass is always, half full. Problems are always opportunities for God to demonstrate His power in your life and for you to demonstrate to those watching that your faith is real.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.11.04

Is it Bad or Good?

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Looking back at my life, I can see some bad things that have happened to me. Although they were bad, I am aware that many have experienced much worse.

Early in our marriage of 34 years, Jeanie left me for a week. It was my fault that this occurred and it drove me to my knees in prayer. It made me realize that I cannot live life by myself in my own power and that I must have God's help to survive.

Twenty-five years ago, our second son, Nick, was born with Downs Syndrome. I spent his first week of life with him at the Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. Again, this drove me to my knees and to a deeper relationship with God. Nick opened my eyes to all those people who may be physically or mentally imperfect that I had blinded myself to before. He has made me and continually makes me more sensitive to God's Voice. Nick has taught me about love and serving and continues to do so.

When I entered the ministry 14 years ago it was at a time when our finances where not the best but we trusted that God would provide. Actually, our financial situation grew worse and our debt grew until it was in our eyes enormous. It looked impossible to ever be free of that debt. Again, our financial situation drove me to my knees on a continual basis. God taught me about His provision as He carried us through that time and freed us of our debt. He has demonstrated that He is faithful and that He can provide whatever is needed whether money or strength.

This last year Jeanie and I both experienced physical problems and I was hospitalized for nine days. God has sustained us during this time and given me a renewed compassion for all those who suffer physically.

I could tell you of other things that were difficult for us; however, I think that this is enough. God has allowed us to go through some difficult things. What we have experienced is not as difficult, certainly not as tragic as some have experienced. Out of those bad, difficult things, God has brought good. Is it easy during the bad times to rejoice as Paul says we should knowing God will bring good? No, but God gives us the hope and the strength which sustains us allowing God to mold us more closely into our Lord's image.

Are you going through a difficult time in your life now? You have a choice. You can rebel, and blame God for the situation, or you can draw more closely to Him trusting Him to bring good from the bad. What choice will you make?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.10.04

Stop Digging

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2.

I had never heard of the saying, "If you are in a hole, stop digging", until I read it in a book recently. It is apparently a well-known saying that many have written about. The saying appears to me to be particularly appropriate for those in the downward spiral of sin. This morning I talked with the mother of one of my former clients (while I was a parole officer) who is again in prison. He has been involved with substance abuse over the years. He had contacted me last summer prior to his most recent arrest. He had stopped at the store in our little town and picked up one of the free booklets, "Never Give Up!" that I have placed there.

Tommy knew that it was a possibility that he would be arrested because some people he had been involved with had already been. He was doing at that point the things that he should do. He had stopped using and was trying to cut off contact with the people who were trying to drag him back into substance abuse. Tommy was in a hole that he had dug and he was, as in the saying, trying to stop.

The apostle Paul was saying something similar in Romans 12:2. He said, "Do not be conformed to this world." In other words, he was saying "stop it!", "stop digging", "turn away from the things of this world and climb out of the pit you have dug". It is somewhat similar to the story of the boy sitting on a tack. Now the tack was hurting him and he wanted that to end. So, the boy was asking for advice from those who came by. Finally, another little boy said to him, "Why don't you just get off the tack?" Good question. It goes to the heart of the problem with addictions and sin. Why don't we just stop? Why don't we just stop digging the hole we are in and climb out?

It may be that we think there is no hope and that the sin is too powerful to be overcome. Sin deceives. Sin can be overcome. You can overcome sin through the power of God. However, many think that God will just zap you and you will never again have to ask God for help. They think that they can just go back to living like they were in the world and just not be involved with that particular sin. No, it does not work that way. Overcoming sin requires a complete commitment to God and to what He wants in your life. It requires a complete change. You cannot continue to visit with your old friends who are still involved in the sin you were involved in. Instead, you must constantly look to God for the renewing of your mind for freedom from your old sins.

So, if you are sitting on a tack - get off of it. If you are in a hole and digging deeper - stop digging and get out. You can do it through the power of God just like the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." You can do the same!< /B>

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.05.04

Plans

A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. - Proverbs 16:9.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13.

I am now 54 years old (as of May 4) and during those years, I have rarely seen my plans come about in the way I originally planned. Actually, I doubt that any of them have. That may very well be a statement of life that our plans will never turn out exactly as we plan them. Reality may be better than we planned or it may be worse which is often the case.

This failure of planning doesn't just happen to us it happens to everyone from the President of our country to Bill Gates. You may be the smartest person in the world and still your plans will not turn out exactly as you planned. When we put together a plan, it is to some degree a guess of what we think and hope will happen. Because there are too many variables that we have no control over that can change our plan.

I have had during my adult life three careers. I've worked in the oilfield as a pipe inspector. I've been a state parole officer and for the past 13 years, I've served as a pastor. When I graduated from high school, none of those careers were in my plan or even in the realm of what I considered to be possible.

Financially too, only a very few of my plans have actually become reality and then only in an altered way. Living life, we can never be totally prepared for the financial reality. There are so many things that can happen.

In the past year, we have been on a roller coaster financially with the elimination of our debt and then both my wife (Jeanie) and I have experienced unexpected physical problems with the related expenses. Most recently, we have had to replace a transmission in one of our cars. None of those things were foreseen nor did I make adequate plans. Thankfully, God has provided but my financial plans have never turned out as I have originally designed them.

I do not believe any of my plans about anything have ever turned out exactly as I planned. The Bible warns us about this in Proverbs 19:21 where it says, "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD's counsel--that will stand." Another translation puts it this way, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it's the LORD's purpose that prevails."

Our plans may be frustrated, almost certainly, they will be - but God's plan will reach its fulfillment. Isaiah 14:24 tells us, "The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand" and, Isaiah 46:10 says, "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."

The amazing thing about God's wondrous plan is that He is bringing about that plan through the church and through each one of us that make up His church. Every one of us who know Jesus as our Savior have been elected, chosen, called. There is a purpose for our lives that makes up part of and will help to bring about God's incredible plan. No matter who you are or what your personal plans may be - God has a plan, a purpose, a mission for your life that is of vital, cosmic, eternal importance.

To have success in life we must give up on the idea of being able to map out every detail of our lives because it is never going to happen. Instead, we must seek out God's purpose, and plan for our lives. Become a co-laborer with Him, an Ambassador for Christ. This is His will for your life. It is written in His Word, written in His blood. Seek to serve God, and to see the fulfillment of His plan in your life with each day that you live and you will find significance, meaning, purpose, and success.

(This devotional came from the sermon I preached last Sunday morning. You can hear the entire sermon at: http://www.theburningbush.org/fbcswvideo.html)

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.29.04

Sacrifice

Today's devotional was written by my son, Clark Wrather, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Clark may be contacted at fbcbb@pine-net.com.

You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice. "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. - Deuteronomy 16:13-17.

Worship equals sacrifice or giving in the Old Testament. Just take a look at Deuteronomy 16. Hebrew Worship in the Old Testament can be summed up in one word - sacrifice. The Hebrew people worshiped by sacrificing. This act of sacrifice was a holy offering to the Lord of the gift of an animal. They brought to the prescribed place the required offering or gift: an ox, a sheep, a goat, or a bird. It had to be a flawless gift.

Giving up one of these animals may not seem like a big deal to us, but to these people I assure you it was. Your average person in their society would only get to eat meat around three times a year at different religious festivals. Giving up these animals cost them something. The more costly the gift, in terms of the worshiper�s ability to provide, the more it expressed God's supreme worth. David on one occasion refused to accept animals for sacrifice from one of his subjects without first paying for them. David said, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24 :24)."

Hebrew sacrifice provided an avenue of approach to God through offerings brought by the worshiper in recognition of God's worth. These ancient Hebrews expressed their worship of the Lord God of Hosts through sacrifice.

Thousands of years later, we still enter into God's presence through sacrifice. We receive the right to become His children only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We grow closer to His will and way for our lives when we sacrifice our selfish desires and messed up priorities and ask God to please reign on the throne of our heart.

To become the person He wants you to be, you have to sacrifice your time to read His Word, spend adequate time in prayer and worship him with other believers in church. To be the person He created you to be, you have to sacrifice your time and resources to do works of service that build His kingdom.

God is approached through sacrifice. Scripture makes this clear and most of us have learned this truth in our own lives. When a person of group of His people want His attention and power displayed in a specific area, special sacrifices are often made for this purpose. King David and Josiah made special sacrifices to God. Moses led the people to make special sacrifices to God, usually when they needed His forgiveness. Some still do this today when they fast and pray. Others sacrificially give for a targeted purpose.

Will you approach God through sacrifice? A sacrifice is costly and it is an act of worship. I pray that you will join me in worshipping our God with a costly sacrifice.

(This devotional is part of the promotion of a special fund raising event at the church where my son is the pastor. They are nearing the amount needed to build a family life center.)

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.28.04

Temptation

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. - James 1:12-15.

In Saint Tammany Parish, Louisiana feeding an alligator can cost you a $500.00 fine and 30 days in jail. It seems strange that they are taking this so seriously when many promotional materials from Louisiana promote one of the exciting things to do when visiting is to feed alligators. However, feeding an alligator can literally cost you an arm and a leg. Alligators place everything into two categories - food and non-food. If human beings feed alligators, they then place humans in the food category. Feeding a baby gator is cute but a hungry nine footer is more trouble than most of us want. Deputy Howard McCrea says that he was forced to haul away 250 nuisance alligators just last year.

Temptation is much like a baby alligator in that it looks on the surface as being harmless. We take the baby temptation home with us and begin to feed it and what happens? It grows. It grows from temptation into sin. Sin unlike an alligator is never full and is always hungry. Sin like an alligator grows and grows as it is fed more and more. Feeding a nine-foot alligator requires substantial resources and time. Caution must be used because the alligator will eat you if you are careless. Sin as it grows requires more and more resources and time to be devoted to its maintenance. Caution must be used with sin as well because it will destroy you if it can. Sin when it is full grown results, according to James, in death. The end result of playing with the baby temptation is death.

There are some obvious lessons here for us. If we are involved in sin of any kind or form, it is harmful to us. How do we stop the sin once we are involved? Stop feeding it! Stop devoting time and resources to the sin. Cut the sin monster off and it will eventually begin shrinking. The less you engage in the sin the less power it will have over you. The more distance you put between you and the sin, the more free you will be and feel.

The penalty for feeding an alligator is $500.00 and 30 days in jail (It could be an arm and a leg or worse.) The penalty for feeding sin is death. Thank God that even though the wages of sin are death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23)!

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.22.04

Finding Safety

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah. But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There are many who say, "Who will show us any good?" LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. - Psalm 4.

While working in the oilfield I was on a job in Canadian, Texas when a storm came up. A tornado was spotted headed for the town and the storm sirens were blown. The safest public building in town that I knew of was the courthouse and so we went there along with many others to wait out the storm. Thankfully, the tornado missed the town completely. Some in Utica, Illinois seeking protection from a tornado did exactly what I did. They sought safety in the sturdiest building that they could find. The Millstone Tavern located in the bottom floor of a three-story building appeared to be very sturdy. The building was made with blocks of limestone some weighing as much as 900 pounds. You would think that the tavern would have been safer than the mobile homes from which some fled. Tragically, at least eight people died when the building collapsed.

This world in which we live is filled up with dangerous things that could possibly harm us. From bee stings to hurricanes, there is a vast range of things that threaten our survival. In addition, we sometimes have to be concerned about our fellow human beings who may carelessly or intentionally cause us harm.

Keeping safe can become a preoccupation resulting eventually in a paralysis of our lives. There are many who are afraid to leave their homes. There are many who leave there homes but are constantly expecting harm to come upon them. Of course, we should be aware of our environment and take precautions to avoid known hazards. However, many go far beyond this with the primary energies of their lives spent in keeping safe.

In the midst of a dangerous world, how can we live a "normal" life? King David dealt with this very problem. His world was a more dangerous world than most of us will ever encounter. David was hunted like an animal and had to hide out in a foreign land for a time. He had to live in caves at other times always aware that his enemies could come upon him at any time. At least once his enemies succeeded and carried away his family and the families of his men. With God�s empowerment and direction, all was recovered. The words that David writes in the Psalms are words that he has personally lived.

God can do for us what He did for David. What did God do for David? Here is some of what God did, "relieved me in my distress"; "put gladness in my heart"; "I will lie down in peace and sleep"; and, "You make me dwell in safety". In the middle of David's hazardous life, God enable him to have peace and normality. God can do the same for you and me.

David tells us the conditions that are necessary to bring about that peace and normality. David continually looks to God through prayer for his safety and knows that God will hear the prayers of the godly. Even during the night, David meditates upon the goodness and mercies of His God. He "offers the sacrifices of righteousness" living as he believes God would have him to and trusts God to honor his righteous living. More than once David could have killed his nemesis, Saul - however, Saul was the Lord's anointed and David refused to take the easy way out. Instead, David allowed God's will to be fulfilled in his life even though it was a difficult path. By doing so, David was able to have "gladness" of heart and sleep in "peace."

Let us put our trust in the Lord and live life with boldness knowing and believing He is with us each step of the way.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.21.04

Decay

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. - Genesis 1:1-8.

So the evening and the morning were the third day. - Genesis 1:13.

It has now been 92 years since the tragic sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912. However, people are still fascinated by the Titanic, the people aboard who perished, and the people who survived. The wreck was finally located in 1985 two miles down in the North Atlantic Ocean about two miles off Newfoundland. The Titanic at that time was in a fair state of preservation and it was thought that little would be necessary to keep it in that state. They were wrong. Tourists and scientists are speeding the acceleration of the decay. Alfred S. McLaren, an ocean scientist and retired submariner dived to the wreck in 1999 and again in 2003. McLaren said about the state of the Titanic, "I was shocked! It's much more heavily deteriorated. I expected her to be in about the same shape as 1999. But there's more rusticles everywhere." Paul H. Nargeolet has explored the wreck more than 30 times in a minisub. He says that each dive reveals more damage. In regard to the accelerating decay he says, "Things are going quicker and quicker."

From a human perspective, everything is continually in a state of deterioration. We start life in a state of youth and freshness moving toward a state of deterioration with death being the ultimate form of that decay. We see the same with plants, reptiles, and animals. It appears all of creation is moving from life to death. Not only does life decay but societies decay as well. The Titanic along with everything that we can see and sense appears to be in a state of decay. Some things decay at a very fast rate and some at a very slow rate but all things deteriorate.

God, however, has a different perspective. In the Kingdom of God things work differently than what we commonly perceive as the reality of decay of life and eventual death. God makes a statement of the spiritual reality in the opening passage of the Bible. God indicates that we are moving not from light to darkness but from darkness to light. "So the evening and the morning were the first day." "So the evening and the morning were the second day." "So the evening and the morning were the third day." This continued through the sixth day and on the seventh day, God rested.

As children of God, we are not moving from life to death, from light to darkness. No, we are moving from darkness to light, from death to life. The apostle Paul encourages us to look beyond to eternity to see the spiritual reality. Paul says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16 )." Paul indicates also that someday the decay of all creation will be ended, "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Roman 8:20-21)."

We are moving from death to life, from the decay of our bodies to the ultimate healing of our bodies. The apostle Paul puts it this way, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).'"

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.19.04

Now We Run

Today's devotional was written by Dr. Walker Moore who is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P. O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147. You may contact Walker at walker@awestar.org or 800.293. 7827. Visit their website at www.awestar.org.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills. - Deuteronomy 8:7.

A grandfather was walking down the street when he noticed a small boy trying to reach the doorbell on a house across the street. However, the boy was very small and the doorbell was too high for him to reach. After watching the boy's effort for some time, the grandfather stepped smartly across the street, walked up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child's shoulder, leaned over to give the doorbell a solid ring. Crouching to the child's level, the grandfather smiled benevolently and asked, "And now what, little man?" The boy replied, "Now we run!"

Oh, the dilemma of being a parent. It was not too long after I had my second son that I began to seriously pray for the return of the Lord. I know that I am probably the only parent in the world that feels that way, but some days I want to resign from being a parent. Sometimes I feel like saying to my wife, "Now we run!" The only thing that has saved our children from becoming parentless is that my wife and I never had this thought on the same day.

It is every parent's desire that their children grow up and becomes self-sufficient, able to stand on their own two feet. But there is something that makes us feel good when they are dependent and turn to us for help. We never want to feel that our child can live without us. One of the most difficult choices of parenting is when we are standing in the middle of an intersection called "help" or "do not help."

I believe there are two extremes to parenting: the "butterfly parents" and the "sea turtle parents." The "butterfly parents," at the very first sign of seeing their children struggle, run to help them and try to take the struggle away from them. But in nature, if a fully developed butterfly is removed from its cocoon without being allowed to break through, it will not have enough strength to fly in the world. It gains its strength by fighting its way out of the cocoon. In the same way, children who are not allowed to make mistakes or struggle, grow up not knowing how to handle the difficulties of life. Mom and Dad do everything for them. Our children's struggles are not always bad, because at times God is trying to develop strength through testing .

On the other hand is the "sea turtle" type of parenting. The sea turtle, after laying its eggs on the beach, leaves them to hatch on their own. Some parents leave their children to raise themselves without any help, nurturing, direction or love. These children are treated with indifference and usually become "sea turtle" parents themselves.

God has created human parenting hoping that we would seek His wisdom and direction. When we as godly parents find these truths, we can adopt them and look at each other and say. "Now we run." Then you are running in God's direction.

Insight: Confidence in parenting comes from the word of God.

Prayer: Dear Father, teach my how to be a parent. Help me to seek your word and it will be come a light and lamp to guide me in how to raise my children. Through your word I will have the wisdom of Solomon. The patience of Job and the tenacity of Paul in dealing with my children. Amen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.13.04

Bring Your Seat To Its Full Upright Position

Today's devotional was written by Dr. Walker Moore who is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P. O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147. You may contact Walker at walker@awestar.org or 800.293. 7827. Visit their website at www.awestar.org.

...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. - 1 Samuel 16:7.

Is it me, or are the stewardesses, excuse me flight attendants, getting older? Remember when every stewardess looked like Sandra Bullock? They were young and beautiful, and all of them had that Colgate smile. You would not be surprised in a moment's notice if they broke out in a cheer. I guess these young attendants are getting older and sometime grumpier. Recently, flying out of St. Louis our flight attendant was talking about her grandchildren and how her "get-up-and-go had got-up-and-went." She was having such a hard time pushing the beverage cart up the aisle that I wanted to get up and help her, but the "fasten seat belt" light was on. Not only do they have Grandma working on the plane, but now they have Grandpa. By the time they get to the back of the plane, I have about 30 seconds to drink a sixteen-ounce Diet Pepsi before we land.

No matter where I sit, the guy in front of me has to lean his seat as far back as it will go. This man usually plants both feet firmly on the floor, while both hands have a death grip on the armrest, and with a single jerking motion he flings his entire weight back as far as he can hoping that his seat will magically turn into a lazy boy recliner. When it does not happen, he repeats these epileptic-type of fits three more times to make sure he is not cheated out of any longitudinal benefits. Now my face is only inches from his head. I know that God knows the number of hair on his head, but now I also know and this is information I am not seeking.

On top of that, fewer airline carriers are serving peanuts, because someone on the flight might be allergic to peanut dust. I am allergic to cats but they still let them on. "The refreshment" reminds me of my elementary school days, you get a drink and one saltine cracker. And they would like for you to lay your head on the table. I think a group of ex-hippies designed airplane seats. Remember that guy in the sixties who tried to set a world record by trying to cram as many people possible into a Volkswagen. Do you know what he now does for a living? He designs airplane seats!

As I was sitting there, the Lord spoke quietly into my heart. (I do not like it when He speaks to me softly). Maybe the reason grandma is working is because she needs the money to raise her grandchildren. Maybe grandpa was let go from his job because they could hire a younger guy at half the price. Now he is just trying to make a living until his retirement begins. And the man who sits in front of me may had a business deal that went sour. Here I am on a plane full of people who have many needs, as many needs as there are seats. What am I doing? Judging from the outside. Lord, help me to see people the way you see them and teach my children to see people the way you do. But Lord help my children grow up to be pilots!

Insight: The process by which you evaluate others is the way you children will evaluate you.

Prayer: Dear Father I am so grateful that you looked past my faults and responded to my needs. You saw my need for a Savior and you sent your son. You say my helplessness and you sent your Holy Spirit. You saw my lack of direction and you gave me your Holy Word. May today I move from seeing other fault to seeing their need. Amen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.12.04

The Right Place

Today's devotional was written by my son, Clark Wrather, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Clark may be contacted at fbcbb@pine-net.com.

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. - 1 Corinthians 3: 9.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:20.

By now, most of you have heard that Mason made it through his surgery just fine. He is still healing and doing well. If you took, time to pray for him, thank you so much! You have most likely heard about my accident or saw the garish looking slice to my forehead. (Clark does not explain so I will. The day before Mason's surgery, they had gone to a store. A display appeared it might fall on Mason and when Clark stepped over to stop it, a piece of Plexiglas came up and hit him in the forehead.)

When Libby and I left the store where I was injured, we were going to the ER at Presbyterian Hospital (in Dallas, TX). There was a hospital just one mile from the store, but I had never heard of it. I believe the name was, HDH Memorial Hospital. What the HDH stands for I have no idea. It probably means, High-Dollar-Health if it's similar to my experience with other hospitals.

Due to construction on I-635 and the amount of pain I was in at the time, we decided to forgo the emergency room at Presbyterian and take a chance on this HDH Hospital. I was really worried about the level of care I would receive at this little place I had never heard of before. I mean this is my face we're talking about and doing anything possible to keep it from looking worse than it already does was a priority. Would this little place be able to handle it? Would they make things worse? Would my forehead have this huge nasty scar from now on? These were a few of the things that passed through my mind, while I held a pressure patch against my head and filled out multiple pages, flashed insurance cards, and signed an oath in blood to eventually receive emergency care.

Actually, I received excellent care. After the glue was in place, a male nurse asked me what I did for a living. This was right before I was going to walk out of there. I told him I was a Baptist minister in Broken Bow, OK. He sat down then and told me his wife had filed for divorce and he didn�t want one. I wanted to focus on myself at the moment. I mean I had just had a bloody accident, been stitched up and glued shut. Surely, I had a right to be selfish at this moment.

Those thoughts flashed through my mind briefly before I told him, "Tell me about it." He did for about 10-15 minutes. I gave him advice at different times and then had prayer with the guy. He cried.

Here's the deal, I knew that I had been at the exact place where I needed to be. I was right where God wanted me to be. It was a divine appointment and I could have easily and selfishly wasted it.

Some of you may need to listen to a stranger, but I bet most of you need to sit down and really listen to what your husband or wife has to say for a change. Take a break and look your children in the eyes and listen to them. Listen to that friend of yours, instead of talking about yourself. You may be the only person in their life, that will listen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.08.04

A Living Faith

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. - Matthew 28:1-8.

People do sometimes come back to life and many have had what is called "near death experiences." Velusamy an 80-year-old man in India was thought to have died of old age. His sister-in-law tried to wake him for supper and found him to be lying on the floor "like wood." She received no response to her frantic yells or when sprinkling his face with water. However, when Velusamy was bathed with cold water prior to his body being burned, he woke up! He said, "It's very cold" and got up from the ground. His family rejoiced at having, "got back grandpa back from the other world."

Performing a search on Google for "back to life" found 897,000 references for the phrase. A vast multitude of things are said to be brought "back to life" including books, programs, furniture, machines, radios, stocks, lakes, frozen lobsters, Inca canals, schools, bands, and nations. There were a few instances of people like Velusamy who were thought to be dead being brought "back to life." However, the reality is that Velusamy will eventually die and not be brought back again to physical life. We as human beings can restore usefulness to inanimate objects and through science restore, sustain usefulness for human beings to a certain extent. There is, however, no way by scientific methods to bring a person back to life that is actually dead. When person has been dead and buried for a year or so there is no record of such a body being raised to physical life .

Easter is not just a holiday or a time to have fun with our family and friends. Easter is important because what happened 2000 years ago represents our only true hope for eternal life after death. Easter is important and mind boggling because it represents God Himself intervening in the course of human events at great cost to provide us a way of salvation. Easter means that we have a living faith and not a dead faith. We do not worship a dead god. We worship a God who is alive and has proven that He has the power over death. God has proven that He has the ability to give life.

This Easter let us rejoice that He has indeed risen! Let us rejoice that we have a living faith in a living God who loves us so much that He died for us!

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.07.04

Don't Forget

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

The Israelites had a continual problem with their memory. They would continually forget how God had moved and worked in their lives. They would forget how God had blessed them and made their lives better. The Israelites would swear oaths and vows, which they would soon forget. As a result of their forgetfulness they returned to their old way of living over and over again.

Nehemiah was a tremendous leader who confronted the Israelites living in Jerusalem with the truth of God's Word and brought about once again a return to the ways of God. Toward the end of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah leaves Jerusalem for two years. When he returns he finds many of the people are once again living as they did previously. One of the greatest enemies to the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem was Tobiah and his friends. Imagine how disappointed and upset Nehemiah was when he returned to Jerusalem and found Tobiah living in a large room in the Temple of God. A priest, Eliashib, who should have known better, offered the room to Tobiah. Nehemiah threw Tobiah out with his furniture onto the street. Many had also begun to intermarry with other ethnic groups as they had previously. Here is how Nehemiah says he dealt with the situation, "So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, 'You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves (Nehemiah 13:25).'"

The apostle Paul reminds some of the Corinthians of where they had come from - they had come out of sin. It is the same place from which we have all come because "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)." We tend to have the same memory problem as the Israelites. Even though we like the priest, Eliashib, should know better, we have invited the enemy back into our lives.

Living the Christian life is a continual process. We have been given all that we need to live victorious lives (Philippians 4:19). However, we must remember to take advantage of those resources each day. We will never outgrow our need for prayer, Bible study, and assembling with other believers. As soon as we neglect these disciplines, these resources of God, we begin to slide back into our old way of living.

Have you invited the enemy back into your life? Kick him out onto the street and return to holy living. Give your memory a reminder every day by reading and meditating on God's Word. Don't forget where you came from!

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.06.04

Time For Action

Now it came to pass the same night that the LORD said to him, "Take your father's young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down." So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. But because he feared his father's household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. - Judges 6:25-27.

It was a time for action when 11-year-old Hannah Thompson's arm was grabbed by an Australian crocodile. The girl had been swimming with some other children in Margaret Bay, which is in Queensland. When Ray Turner heard the screams and the shouts of "Crocodile!", he took action. Being a former crocodile hunter, (he hunted crocs in Papua New Guinea) Ray knew what to do. He jumped on the back of the 10-foot crocodile and did what needed to be done. Turner says, "I landed fair on its back and I got a finger in its left eye - I missed the right eye - but he got a fright and let go. They will always let go when you go for an eye because it's their vulnerable point and their livelihood." Hannah was taken by helicopter to the hospital and suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to her arm but she is in stable condition. Hannah was saved due to the quick and courageous action of Ray Turner.

Gideon was faced with a situation presented to him by the Lord that required action and courage as well. Gideon was not a retired crocodile hunter and he was not a retired military leader - he had no training for the action that God called upon him to do. In fact, Gideon was not very excited about what God wanted but when confronted by the angel of the Lord he was convinced to take action. However, Gideon took action at night because of his fear. He tore down the altar to the false god Baal and built an altar to the Lord God. Even though he took this action by night, others found out and were very angry with Gideon. They were ready to kill him until Gideon's father took action standing up for his son and the one true God. God used Gideon in a powerful way; however, there was a time when a decision had to be made as to whether or not Gideon would take action. Gideon was reluctant to move but he did. Gideon's father also took the action needed to save his son's life.

As enemy nations came against the children of Israel Gideon though reluctant raised an army to fight them. God reduced that army to just 300 men to fight against thousands. Those 300 men had to take action. They had to believe that God had given Gideon the right plan and the time to work that plan had come. They believed, they acted and the victory was won.

We can plan, pray, and have committee meetings but eventually there will come a time for action. At times, the moment for action is not weeks, months, or years away - the moment for action is now. We must be ready. Ray Turner was ready. Gideon was reluctant but became ready. Gideon's father was ready. The 300 brave men of Gideon's army were ready. Are you ready to serve your Lord?

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.05.04

Want To Buy An Inflatable Dartboard?

Today's devotional was written by Dr. Walker Moore who is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P. O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147. You may contact Walker at walker@awestar.org or 800.293. 7827. Visit their website at www.awestar.org.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13.

We are all born with this incredible gift of potential. Somehow along the road of life, good meaning, well-intentioned people stifle that creativity. Just look into a church nursery and see the creativity that goes on. One of the blessings from God that I had were parents who let me be creative. I was one of those children who took things apart and could not get them back together. My room was littered with piles of things that used to be something else. I was the child who wanted to see what the inside of my grandfather's "bee-house" looked like. I now know, and I was only stung 122 times to gain that knowledge. I have done a lot of things in life and yet there is so much I want to experience. But much of my life I have failed. Failing is a good thing if it moves you one step closer to discovering your potential. Many of the benefits we enjoy today have come out of someone else's failures. I have had some great ideas, but upon closer examination realized that they would not work.

I thought about writing a book on "How to Read." Or create a compact, inflatable dartboard. You can take it anywhere. Blow it up and; oh, there's the problem. What if I could develop "powdered water" for third world countries? The only problem I have not solved is what you add to the powder. Then there was the idea I had for a helicopter ejector seat. I bet it would be hard to find a test pilot for it. But one of these days I am going to succeed. Even a blind hog can stumble onto an acorn. The Scriptures tell us we can do ALL things through Christ. If that is not reason enough for me to keep on trying I do not know what it is.

Encourage your child's creativity and encourage them to use it for the Kingdom. I have worked in Amsterdam many times. I have preached to the drug addicts and witnessed to the prostitutes. To this day I have never led anyone of them to Christ. It seems as if the Holy Spirit was not present. Then one day I heard a that a number of the prostitutes had come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and had returned back to their homes and families. I wanted to know how God was doing this great work. I was shocked when I discovered that a manicurist had caused the great revival. This young lady wanted to use her talents for the kingdom of God. After much prayer she felt led to go into the red light district of Amsterdam and offer the prostitutes free manicures. While doing their nails, she loved on them and shared with them the good news of Jesus Christ. Who would have ever thought that God would use a manicurist to set the captives free? A creative manicurist who believed that she could do all things through Christ and did.

Prayer: Dear Father, I use to dream dreams but somewhere along the way reality has stolen it from me. Help me to realize that I can do all things through Christ. That I can raise wonderful, creative, Christ like children. If you look at them now you would say that is impossible. Because of you the impossible is reality. Amen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.02.04

Curing Double-Mindedness

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. - James 4:7-8.

Sadly, the Passion of the Christ is no longer playing at a movie theater near us. The Passion did have a long run compared to many movies; however, it would have been nice if it could have stayed on through Easter at least. Instead, it appears that "Hell Boy" has replaced it. Now I don't know what the replacement movie is about but the title seems to say it all.

What a drastic change! From Christ demonstrating His love through sacrifice to a movie in opposition to all that He represents. Our culture is bi-polar - a large segment loves what is right and a large segment loves what is wrong. Or, is it the same segment of the population that loves both? This is even worse that we want what is good on one hand but also want what is bad. It would be interesting to poll those going to see "Hell Boy" to ask them if they had also viewed the "Passion." I think we know the sad answer is that many will watch both movies.

The Psalmist said that he hated the double-minded (Psalm 119:113). It seems to be God's attitude as well at least toward the attitude of double-mindedness. The Psalmist goes on to say, "But I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word (Psalm 119:113b-114)."

If we are one of those who have a love for the good and a love for the bad, all rolled up in us how do we ever change to single-mindedness? The Psalmist gives us direction when he says in Psalm 119:112, "I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end." He then says, "I love Your law," and says a few words later, "I hope in Your word." The Word of God which is the "Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)" appears to be the weapon of choice against double- mindedness.

James adds, "Come near to God and He will come near to you." But there is something more that is needed. There is an evil that has crept into our hearts and lives that must be dealt with. It must be confronted. It must be shown the door and pushed out into the street. James says, " Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." We cannot do this by ourselves but we must want it in our hearts and then we can come to our Lord Jesus confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) and he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Once we have been cleansed and purified, what do we need to remain in that condition? We need to continue in His Word, saturating our hearts, and minds so much so, that it runs over into every area of our lives and out into the lives of those around us.

Let us rise up against this evil of double-mindedness that has invaded our lives and push it back into the hell from which it came. Through His power and for His glory!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.30.04

Get Your Hands Dirty

So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!" And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar ( watching from a distance - NIV), among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons. - Matthew 27:54-56.

When I was a child, I would help my mother with the garden, which included planting the seeds. We planted the seeds by hand, digging the holes, placing the seeds in the small holes, and then covering the seeds up with the dirt. It was exciting when the plants began to grow and poke through the earth. That was the part about gardening that I enjoyed as a child. Some of the other parts I didn�t enjoy quite as much. But for the most part even today, gardening is a hands on activity. To be a successful gardener you are going to have to get your hands dirty.

Considering the different people involved or viewing the crucifixion of Jesus we find that there were "many women" who were present. When compared to the disciples the women are to be commended because they did not deny Jesus and they did not run away and hide. The passage of Scripture in Matthew 27 says that the women viewed the crucifixion from "afar"or "from a distance." Most likely this was as close as they were allowed to come or as close as was safe for them to be with the mob mentality that was still present. However, the phrase "looking on from afar" has caught my attention and it is a haunting and convicting phrase when applied to our own lives.

Too many times, we see ourselves and other Christians taking on the role of spectator in regard to the Christian life. Yes, we come to church, we sing, we bow our heads in prayer, and we listen to the preaching but do we ever get our hands dirty? No, we are not out there doing terrible things day after day but does our Christianity ever go beyond being a spectator sport. Are we ever involved in hands on Christianity? Do we apply the words in the hymns we sing and the sermons we hear preached to our lives? Are we benchwarmers or active, hands on participants in the Christian life?

God has called all of us to be co-laborers with Him. God has called all of us to be Ambassadors for Christ. Maybe you have been afraid you will get your hands dirty? There is no way to avoid it if you are to be fully engaged and in God's will for your life as a child of God.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.27.04
A New Heart

Today's devotional was written by my son, Clark Wrather, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Clark may be contacted at fbcbb@pine-net.com.

Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. - Psalm 51:9-11.

One morning, I went with a friend to look at a new piece of rental property he had purchased and remodeled. Evidently, the former owners had mistreated the house pretty badly and it was in quite a state of disrepair when he bought it.

In just a few months, my friend had completely transformed the place. I took a little tour and saw new carpet that actually went over floors that had been rebuilt. The front porch of the house had been redone. There were new doors and new linoleum and of course new paint. I have no idea how much time and hard work went into the transformation, but it was worth it.

Right now, if your relationship with God is in disrepair, if your spiritual walk and life is dilapidated, you could use a good remodeling. Wouldn't it be a good thing to fix up your shabby heart and make things right between you and the Lord? You can and you can do it much more easily than the restoration my friend did on his new rent house.

David asked God to create a new heart within him. That's the great thing about God. He's able to give you a completely new heart if only you�ll sincerely pray and ask for it. He doesn't even remodel. It would be nice if we could snap our fingers and our homes would be replaced with a brand new one. It would be nice, but it's not going to happen. God can snap his fingers and give you a new heart. He can instantly restore a shabby relationship someone has with Him. He can totally transform a relationship that is rundown and dilapidated. God has the power to do that. All you have to do is ask.

Why don't you ask Him? Pray and ask God to forgive you for not being where He wants you to be. Ask Him to perform spiritual heart surgery on you and He will give you a new heart in the blink of an eye. It's that simple. All you have to do is ask and mean it. Ask Him!.

(Please pray for Clark's two-year-old son, Mason. Mason will be having surgery to remove a dermal track that could be attached to his spine this coming Wednesday.)

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.24.04

Avoiding Failure - Part 3

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? - Matthew 26:36- 44.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:27.

The Russian air force is facing difficult times with a large number of crashes, which have resulted in injuries and deaths. Part of the problem is a lack of resources for sufficient airtime and training for the flight crews. Around 70 percent of the accidents have been due to human error. A report in the Ministry of Defence newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda states, "Negligence, carelessness, and a lack of discipline in some are causing concern among commanders, and a general decline in skills and professionalism."

While in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples experienced a lack of physical discipline. Jesus urged them to stay awake and pray during this critical time just prior to His arrest. However, three times when Jesus came back from praying he found them asleep. Were the disciples simply worn out from a grueling physical schedule? Possibly, but I think it was more likely that Jesus was pushing them to a new level in their prayer life which challenged their physical capabilities. It is obvious they were not used to praying when they were so tired.

When we are undisciplined, we increase the opportunity for failure to occur in our lives. The Russian air force is seeing the tragic result of a lack of training and continuous practice of the skills needed to fly modern aircraft. There will always be times when we are called upon to do what is right even when we do not feel like it. That is when our past training helps us to do what is right because we have been continuously doing what is right every day.

The fact is that there will be many times that, we do not "feel" like doing what we ought to do. Sometimes it is easy to pray, read our Bibles, go to church, live a holy life and sometimes it is not. To be prepared for those times when it is not so easy to do what is right we must continuously practice, train ourselves by doing what we know we should every day.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.23.04

When You Fail

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. - 1 Corinthians 13:8.

It was not until I was in my thirties that my Dad told me about one of his failures that had happened when he was a little boy. He failed the first grade when he was a boy and had to repeat the grade. However, he passed the first grade successfully the second time. When telling me the story my Dad gave to me a toy hatchet that his first grade teacher had given to him as a reward for successfully completing his first grade studies. That little hatchet has become a symbol for me that you can come back from failure and that is what I think of whenever I see the little hatchet or think of the story.

As we talked about previously Peter failed Jesus in denying Him (Matthew 26) but he was not the only one. All of the disciples turned away at the prospect of their experiencing crucifixion as Jesus did. However, their failure was not the end of the story. We know that all of the disciples except for Judas came back and served their Lord in mighty ways. Peter became the powerful preacher on the day of Pentecost confronting the Jews with the truth about Jesus. All of the remaining disciples except for John experienced martyrdom for their faith according to tradition. John experienced his own form of martyrdom through his difficult exile on the Isle of Patmos.

The fact is that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and we have all turned our own way (Isaiah 53: 6) which means we have failed and in our own way denied the will of God in our lives. Although we too have failed that does not have to be the end of the story. The disciples found out that God's love never ends and that His love can overwhelm and change failure into success. Instead of turning away from God when you fail this is the time when you need Him most and this is the time when He can surround you with His arms of love and restore you just as He did the disciples.

When you fail remember that you have an advocate at the right hand of the Father (1 John 2:1) who is interceding for you. Jesus Himself is knocking at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20) when you fail and He wants to come in and through His eternal love restore you to Himself. Ask Him to come in, confess your sins (1 John 1:9) and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. Remember even though we may fail Him - His love will never fail us.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.20.04

Avoiding Failure - Part 2

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" - Matthew 26:47-54.

Everyone knows that hockey is a violent sport and this was confirmed for those who had doubts when Todd Bertuzzi attacked Colorado's Steve Moore from behind. There was no way Moore could have protected himself from such a vicious and unexpected attack. As with many others I have watched the news coverage and video of this act of violence several times. It is horrifying to watch as Bertuzzi hits Moore from behind slamming his fist into the back of the head and neck pushing him to the ice with the weight of his body on top. Moore suffered a concussion, broken vertebra, and will miss at least the rest of the season. Bertuzzi has been suspended and fined.

Bertuzzi's action is said to have been premeditated and perhaps it was to the extent that someone can premeditate such an act of violence in the period of a few minutes. However, it is very unlikely that Bertuzzi was planning this attack for weeks or months before the violence occurred. What is the point? The point is that Bertuzzi like many others allow themselves to be controlled by the whim, the emotion of the moment. The thought came to Todd to hit Moore and without a second thought he did it, we all know the result, and Bertuzzi knows the result now as well.

Allowing the whim, the emotion of the moment to control us very often will result in very unpleasant things. Sadly, even those we would consider spiritually mature can and do make the same mistake. Consider the apostle Peter who when they came to arrest Jesus committed an act of violence against the servant of the High Priest cutting off his ear. Most likely Peter intended to cut off the head and not the ear but that kind of swordsmanship requires constant practice. Certainly, the violence was not something that Jesus wanted and he says as much, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"

As we have already seen Peter, along with the rest of the disciples were overconfident in their spiritual abilities. Peter never thought that he would be capable of denying Jesus - and yet he did. Peter was sure of himself, sure of his emotions, and confident that he would always do what was right. However, Peter made the wrong decision through obeying the whim/the emotion of the moment.

If we want to avoid being ruled by the emotions of the moment like Bertuzzi and Peter we must become disciplined. What does that mean? It means that we do what we know that we must do in our spiritual life even when we do not feel like it. We will come to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights not because we happen to feel like it but because we know it is the right thing to do. We will read our Bibles and pray not because we happen to feel like it but because we know it is the right thing to do and beneficial to our spiritual health. We must get beyond the idea that spiritual things are always going to �feel� good.

To avoid the rule of our lives by our emotions we must constantly be about doing what is right and good whether we enjoy it, like it, or even if we hate it. Why? Because we train ourselves to then do what is right when under stress and we have to make critical decisions in a moment of time. Don't make the mistake of overconfidence believing you will always do what is right even during stressful times. Peter would tell you not to count on it. Prepare for those stressful times by daily doing what you know you ought to do whether you like it or not.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.16.04

Avoiding Failure

Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples. - Matthew 26:33-35.

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying." And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!" And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you." Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly. - Matthew 26:69-75.

Robbie Peden recently KO'd Nate Campbell in the fifth round and will as a result have a title fight against IBF champion, Carlos Hernandez. Robbie says about his boxing match with Campbell, "I must admit Nate was much stronger than I thought he was going to be. This guy is very strong and not only that, but he can box too. I think initially I may have underestimated him, but I am the type of fighter who will never quit. It doesn't matter what my opponent brings I can adapt to it." Actually, Nate Campbell by most accounts of the match was the superior boxer and only lost because of his arrogance and over-confidence. Campbell apparently played with his opponent until the fifth round when he stuck out his chin and dared Peden to hit it. Peden gladly obliged and knocked Campbell out winning the fight. Campbell speaks about his failure by saying, "The name of this story should be ignorance, arrogance and stupidity because that's exactly what I showed in that fifth round; ignorance, arrogance and stupidity. I had this guy ready to go, and I walked right to him put my hands down, my chin out, and said, 'hit me, hit me.' I deserved to lose, and any other fighter who pulls a stunt like that deserves to lose also. I know better than that, and now I'm going to have to live with this mistake for the rest of my life."

Having an attitude of over-confidence in your own spiritual ability is setting yourself up for failure. You may not be quite as arrogant about it as Nate Campbell was in his boxing ability but you may be just as over-confident as Peter and the other disciples. Over-confidence was at the very heart of the failure of Peter and his fellow disciples. None of them believed it was possible for them to fail in their obedience to Jesus. Peter said, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" But it wasn't just Peter because the final phrase of the verse records, "And so said all the disciples."

To some extent, it appears that those who are least likely to fail spiritually are the very ones that do. How many pastors, youth ministers, missionaries and others called of God have fallen bringing shame to the cause of Christ? Too many! It may be that the cause of their failures was their over-confidence. They like Peter and the other disciples said, "It can never happen to me!" As the old saying goes, "The bigger they are the harder they fall." Believing moral failure is never a possibility in your life sets you up for the failure. It's like saying to the devil, "hit me, hit me." He will not pass up the opportunity!

To fight spiritual failure we must remember that it is surely in the realm of possibility for us to fail. We must always be alert to those situations and conditions that might lead to failure and avoid them knowing our weaknesses.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.10.04

His Passion

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:3-6.

Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. - Matthew 27:26.

By now, there are few people who have not heard something about Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of Christ." Hollywood ought to get a clue about the huge market for Christian oriented films but I doubt that they do because their hearts are so hard. Ticket sales for this film appear to be on track to set new records.

It has occurred to me that many may wonder what the term "Passion of Christ" means. Passion as in the Passion of Christ refers to the sufferings of Jesus in the period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion, as related in the New Testament. Our modern word "passion" originates from Medieval Latin passi, passin-, sufferings of Jesus or a martyr, from Late Latin, physical suffering, martyrdom, from Latin, an undergoing, from passus, past participle of pat, to suffer.

In the Passion of Christ, we see the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. In Mel Gibson's film many have commented on the how horrible is the scourging of Christ which seems to go on and on and on. A Roman scourging was a terrible thing and many did not survive it much less a crucifixion. Isaiah says, "by His stripes we are healed." Our healing has come at an incomprehensible price of the pain and suffering of our Lord. Of what are we healed? We are healed of the disease of sin, which is an eternally terminal ailment. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans that, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and that "the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23a)." Isaiah says that, "we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way (Isaiah 53)." How are we healed? "the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53)."

Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer? The writer of the book of Hebrews explains, "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-- He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:11-28)."

God has provided a Savior for you at incomprehensible cost. Have you received Christ Jesus as your personal Savior inviting Him to come into your heart and life asking Him to forgive you of your sins and be your Lord and Master? John 3:16 tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus is the one and only way provided for reconciliation with our Heavenly Father (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). I plead with you; please don't neglect so great a salvation that has been provided for you at such great cost. Today is the day of salvation. If you haven't done so receive Christ as your Savior today before it is eternally too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.04.04

The Hopeless and Helpless

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. - Matthew 10:28- 31.

A man in California bought a painting at a garage sale for $5.00 because he like the way it looked. He hung it in his kitchen where it stayed for two years. It stayed there until the 29- year-old actor decided to check out the painting on the Internet. To his great surprise, the painting is the work of Joseph Decker a well-known 19th Century artist. The National Gallery of Art in Washington purchased the painting for one million dollars!

What is the value of a human soul? Most likely, more than any of us can imagine. I like the way the Message translates Matthew 10:31 saying that we are worth more than a million canaries. I'm not sure how much a canary is worth but they are bought and sold and have financial worth. We are important enough that our Heavenly Father knows how many hairs we have or don't have on our head. We are important enough that our Heavenly Father has thought about us and has plans for us. In fact, He knew us before we were in the womb of our mother. We are of so much value in His eyes that Jesus had to leave the glories of Heaven taking human form to walk among us, suffer, and die for our sins. Your value, my value is incomprehensible - it is beyond our understanding.

Knowing our own value at least some idea that we are of much value in His eyes - what do we see when we look at those around us? When we see the homeless in this country, do we only see a $5.00 painting when in the eyes of the Father they are priceless? My heart has recently been saddened by learning of the horrible living conditions that some endure across the world. In the Philippines there appear to be frequent situations where those living in almost unbearable conditions have experienced fires which have destroyed their tiny crude homes and few possessions that they have. Now they are in a mud field at the mercy of the elements although some have plastic sheeting and some are trying to provide some meals. That is just one sad horrible situation, which could be multiplied, thousands of times across this world.

What are those people worth living in such unbearable miserable hopeless conditions? They are invaluable in the eyes of the Father. Yes, it is true that we will always have the poor with us as Jesus said. But He also died for them and they are of just as much value to the Father as any other person on this earth.

The next time you encounter someone who seems utterly devoid of value in terms of the thinking of contemporary society remember your Heavenly Father cares for them. Is there something that you can do in the Name of Jesus to help just one person out of the helpless and hopeless millions across this world? No, you can never help them all but, for the one you help it may very well make an eternal difference.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.03.04

A Hard Landing

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. - Revelation 12:9.

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. - John 8:44.

When I was a teenager, movies and television would often show stunt men driving cars incredibly fast jumping over rivers and various other hazards. When the cars landed, they almost always made it without any damage and then they zoomed off to do more fantastic stunts. A friend and I were playing chase in our cars one night on the football field of the little high school I attended. We saw some car lights coming and naturally wanted to escape being caught driving on the grass of the football field. My friend somehow escaped in his car but I was cornered. The only way to escape was to jump a six-foot wide ditch at the end of the field.

Having watched so many cars jump much wider and bigger obstacles on TV I thought for sure I could jump a little six-foot ditch. Actually, I did successfully jump the ditch but when the car landed, the impact slammed the fan through the radiator and bent the frame of the car. It was a hard landing! The car died about a hundred feet from the ditch. It was not one of the better moments of my life and it went downhill from there. Can you imagine having to explain to your parents why you were even driving around on the football field much less why you tried to jump a ditch? Not a pleasant experience!

I learned one very important lesson from my ditch jumping experience. I learned that you cannot believe everything you see on television or movies. Television and movies rarely portray the reality of alcohol and drug abuse. Instead, alcohol and illegal substances are glamorized when the reality of abusing those things is much more brutal than when my car came in for a hard landing. Sex outside of marriage is presented as the normal thing for people to be a part of by the film industry. However, they rarely present the broken lives that result from living apart from God's plan. And they almost never present the dangers of HIV and STDs, which often severely damage the health of those participating for a lifetime.

The devil is a liar and a murderer who seeks to destroy as many as he can including you. The film industry to a large part is a willing tool of deception in the devil's hands presenting a distorted enticing view of life. The devil is a master at presenting evil as being good. "sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it (Genesis 4:7b)." Don't buy into the devil's lies because if you do it will be a very hard landing!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.02.04

Just Trying To Please

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. - Galatians 2:11-13.

When I was 17 years old just trying to please turned a date into a nightmare. Soon after leaving her home, Mary (Not her real name.), flagged down some friends of hers and invited them to ride around with us. The only problem with that was they had some beer they brought with them when they jumped into my car. But I agreed because I just wanted to please. It was then that they shared with Mary they had heard about a big party somewhere and that it might be out at farm they knew about. We then headed for the farm because I wanted to please Mary even though I knew better.

I found myself driving all over a pasture in the dark hoping I wouldn�t drive into a hole of some kind. It was a little worrisome because this was the first time I had driven my car since getting it back from the body shop as the result of a little accident (I tried to jump a ditch but that's another story.). Since we didn't find the "big party", they thought it must be at the lake and because I wanted to please, I headed for the lake. I was surprised when we arrived at the location because there was a big drunken party going on with a couple of hundred kids. About ten minutes after our arrival highway patrolmen and lake patrol officers arrived to break it up. Of course, when the officers showed up with lights and sirens I headed back to my car along with Mary's two friends.

To my surprise Mary was not at the car and by the time most of the kids had left finally someone said they thought Mary and some other kids had ran off on foot trying to avoid arrest. So, my new friends and the nice officers waited around for a while. I finally asked and receive permission for us to form a search party to try to find them. About an hour later, we finally found Mary and her friends and the officers then sent us on our way. We did make it back to town and I felt a great sense of relief. At least until Mary wanted to stop off at a parking lot where most of the people who had been at the party had gathered. I knew better but because I wanted to please, I stopped and Mary jumped out along with her two friends.

Everything seemed to be fine until Mary hurriedly opened the passenger side door and said with much urgency that we had to leave, right then! Why? Because she said, someone wanted to fight me. Why? Because they thought she was their girlfriend, which was news to me. While I was still talking to Mary, someone jerked open my door and grabbed hold of my shirt shouting obscenities. My foot somehow slipped off the clutch and the jealous "boyfriend" lost his grip and fell down. We took off and I headed directly for Mary's home and with great relief saw her to the door. When I turned to walk back to my car I was dismayed to see the jealous boyfriend and a bunch of his friends waiting and shouting. I had no desire to have another discussion with the group and so I left town (I lived about 40 miles from Mary's town.) with a little escort following until they finally lost interest.

The next day I did check on Mary and it seems that while she was escaping from the beach party she came into contact with some poison ivy and was experiencing severe discomfort as a result.

I could have saved myself a very unpleasant evening if I had just chosen to say "no" and done what I knew to be right. But I gave in to my desire to please Mary. However, it is not just kids that try to please and give into peer pressure. Peter gave into pressure when some people he knew from Jerusalem showed up at Antioch. Peter had been eating with the Gentile Christians but because of the peer pressure, he then stopped. The apostle Paul confronted Peter about this hypocrisy, which must have taken much courage.

The next time you find yourself trying to "please" someone it might be a good idea to examine your motives and the possible consequences. It may save you from an unpleasant situation if you just choose to do what you know to be right. I wish I had.

Copyright 2004. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.


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OCTOBER 1998 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

SEPTEMBER 1998 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

AUGUST 1998 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

JULY 1998 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

JUNE 1998 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS


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