18

Jump Start for Dad

Jump Start for Dad

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Today’s jumpstart has been hacked. Don’t be alarmed. This is Roger’s son Jordan. Dad’s 60th birthday is on Sunday (August 20 th ). Dad, you’re always writing such kind words for others, and so I thought for your upcoming birthday, I’d write a few words for you.

Let’s just start with some numbers. You’re turning 60 years old. You and mom have been married for 37 years. You have four children, each of whom is married, 7 grandchildren (with one on the way). You have been preaching for over 37 years. That means you’ve preached over 3,700 sermons, written nearly 2,000 bulletin articles, taught countless Bible classes and personal studies, and as of today you have written 1914 jumpstarts. Looking at all those numbers – that’s impressive! I know it must bring a smile to God’s face.

A common question I get about you is, “Is he the jumpstart guy?” After saying yes, they always follow up by saying, “How does he do it?” Usually I say, “I have no idea.” But I see it. God has given you a gift. You have such an incredible eye for the Scripture – to take something that would seem so simple to all of us, and yet you pull out such depth from each verse. That comes from all that hard work, all those years of studying the Bible. You have such a way with words. You’re a gifted writer, an incredible preacher, and a wonderful example of what it means to be a servant of God.

Without fail, whenever I’m traveling and introduce myself to someone new, they’ll ask, “Are you Roger Shouse’s son?” I’m always so proud to say yes. Your reputation is far reaching. Your preaching, writings, and example have touched the lives of so many people. Because of you, people have come to know Jesus. Because of your teaching, churches are stronger. You’ve stood for the truth, and proclaimed the gospel. You’ve helped thousands of people start their day with Christ. What a difference you’ve made in this world! You’ve always been my favorite preacher.

I can speak with confidence about the lives of 4 you’ve forever changed: Nathan, Sarah, Jordan, and Joel; your children. None of us would be where we are, or who we are were it not for you, Dad. Because of you we all have a love for music, especially the Beatles. The love of reading, the competitive drive in sports, the love of chocolate and popcorn, even down to a love for color (and crazy socks), it came from you!

I think of the passage in 1 Thessalonians 2 about Paul’s preaching, and I think of you. You preach with such passion and love – like a father towards his children. That’s something we have seen firsthand, not just your preaching from the pulpit, but the sermon’s you’ve preached through your love and instruction as a father.

Nothing we could give you could compare to the gift you’ve given your children. You taught us Christ. You modeled grace. You instilled in us a love for God and His Word. You taught us to live for Jesus every day and everywhere. You showed us what it meant to be a husband, a loving spouse. You formed in us a servant’s heart through encouraging us to have open eyes toward the needs of others. You taught us to love the church, and to be active in whatever local congregation we are a part of. You taught me how to preach (for which I’ll forever be thankful). You pointed us to God. You charged us to walk in a manner worthy of His glory.

And here we are – grown up, married to godly spouses, active in the Lord’s church, raising our own children to love and serve the Lord. That’s because of you and mom. We are your sermon! We are your “epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;” (2Cor 3:2). Thank you for showing us the way. Thank you for lovingly and patiently lead us to Christ.

We see you now and smile. We see you as a grandfather to 7 grandkids who adore you. Because of you and mom, there’s a whole new generation that will come to know and love the Lord. I speak on behalf of your family in saying that we love you so much, and that we are so proud of who you are and what you’ve done in the Lord’s kingdom, and in our lives.

I know you’ll receive lots of gifts for your birthday, and for certain that you’ll have a chocolate cake, but the best gift I have to offer you is to let you know how much I love you, and how honored and blessed I am to be your son. You’re my source of wisdom and inspiration. You’re my mentor, my hero; I’m so proud to call you my dad. I am who I am today because of you. When I grow up, I want to be like you.

I love you Dad. Happy birthday.
Jordan

18

Jump Start # 1915

Jump Start # 1915

Daniel 9:5-6 We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.”

 

Should a modern generation tear down the statues placed by earlier generations? That seems to be a hot topic at the present. Mayors and governors across the land are calling for some statues to be removed. Some are not waiting for local administrations to decide, they are taking matters into their own hands and are tearing these statures down. Specifically, it’s those statues honoring the Civil War Confederates. I haven’t heard anyone wanting to tear down all Civil War statues, just those belonging to the south. One, but not the only cause of fighting the war was slavery. Whether it’s right or wrong to tear down statues and what is the best thing to do for this generation will be hammered out in court rooms and legislative halls.

 

There is a Biblical thought for us here. It takes us to our passage today, the prayer of Daniel. Nations, as well as churches, and especially individuals, have a history that isn’t good. Slavery isn’t good. Maybe for some, those statues remind them of that. But we can’t forget a history, even if it was wrong.

 

One of the unique things about the Bible is that God shows the failures, the blemishes and the warts of His people. The Bible’s “Hall of Fame,” could just as easily be the “Hall of Shame.” Noah got drunk. Abraham lied. David committed adultery and murder. John the Baptist had doubts. Peter denied. Paul and Barnabas disagreed and went different directions.

 

The history of the nations isn’t pretty. Israel and then Judah spent a long time bowing down to idols. Even the churches of the N.T. seemed to be plagued with problems. Paul warned the Galatian churches about devouring one another. The Corinthians were divided and a mess. Laodicea was lukewarm. Sardis was dead. Ephesus lost it’s first love.

 

Messy. Messy nations. Messy churches. Messy lives. In many ways the pages of the Bible are statues and reminders of these blunders, failures and sins. Why did God preserve these dark pages? Why do we need to know about Noah’s drunkenness? Why not tear these pages out? Why not just show the good stuff?

 

As with the Bible, and our nation, the true and complete story contains dark pages. They remind us that we are not perfect. That is important. Folks show up on Sunday mornings and they see everyone dressed nicely and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. It’s easy to conclude that I am the only one who is struggling. I am the only one who questioned whether or not I should come. I am the only one who is not right with the Lord. How perfect we can look. How perfect the church can seem. One wonders why we even need Jesus. It seems that we have it all together on our own.

 

Those dark pages of the Bible are a reminder of the dark pages in our lives. We all have them. It’s called sin. It is because of those dark pages that we need Jesus. Sometimes it’s better to be realistic than to put forth an image of what we are not. We are not perfect. We struggle. We have good days and bad days. There are times we forget to pray. There are times our attitudes are not right. We can say the wrong words. We can express feelings of prejudice. We are a work in progress. We are on a journey. None of us have arrived, not yet.

 

Without the dark pages of the Bible, it’s hard to find a connection with these people in the Bible. They seem too good and too perfect and too right, all the time. I’m not like that. But there is doubting Thomas. I can understand. There is Peter, firing off his mouth without thinking. I get that. There is Abraham, afraid, he lies. I know what that’s like. These dark pages are not to justify my wrongs and keep me in the wrong, but they help me to see the mistakes they made and I have made and to see what needs to be done.

 

Churches can have dark pages as well. Maybe there was a time when discipline was too quick. Maybe attitudes toward some weren’t kind. Maybe there were periods when it wasn’t as friendly as it could be. We can deny those things ever happened, but the people involved know. Or, we can use those dark pages to do better. No church is perfect. We learn. We grow. We make mistakes. We even sin. If an individual can sin, certainly a group of us, or a congregation of us can sin as well.

 

These dark pages in the Bible also serves to show the justice and the mercy of God. God struck some with immediate death. Some were forgiven. All of this shows the seriousness towards God’s word that we need to have. It shows how careful we must be with God’s word.

 

These dark pages also are teaching moments. We can use them to help another generation from making the same mistakes that we have. It’s easy for our children to think that we are perfect. The teenager who struggles with moral issues may have a tough time talking with his parents, because he sees them as never struggling. They always did what was right. They never messed up. But we know better. For many of us our teen years and college years were not pretty. Drinking, drugs and fornication were all too common. As difficult as it is to go back to those dark pages, your experiences can help your teen. If he asks you, “Dad, were you ever drunk?” What are you going to say? Are you going to lie? Are you going to lie to keep up an image that isn’t true, or, are you going to use that dark period of your life to show him how he can make better choices.

 

I fear that taking down Civil War statues is just the beginning. The next step may be the rewriting of our nation’s history. We can just remove those dark pages out of our history books and pretend that they never existed, or we can see, learn and be better because of those dark pages.

 

Daniel in his prayer, didn’t make things better than what they were. He was specific. Later he says, “Open shame belongs to us.” He realized that the right way to deal with wrongs is to confess them to the Lord. Don’t change the history. Don’t deny what has happened. Don’t cover them up. Don’t justify them.

 

Open shame belongs not just to Judah, but to this nation as well. But more than that, open shame belongs to you and me when we are honest about the dark pages in our lives. Forgiveness, honesty and changing is what needs to be done. I tend to think that the Confederate statues are a reminder of what we never want to do again. We don’t want to forget. We shouldn’t forget. If we do, we might repeat the dark pages again.

 

Now, we can dwell in those dark pages and believe that’s all there is, or we can also see that Noah, Abraham, David are well spoken of in Hebrews 11. They are examples for the rest of us, just as you and I, with our dark history, can be examples for people today. Forgiveness means forgiving yourself. We are not to live in those dark moments, but to walk in the light as He is in the Light. Because of Christ, we have moved on. We have done better. We now live, love and hope in the grace of Christ.

 

God kept those dark pages in the Bible for a reason. We need them.

 

Roger

 

17

Jump Start # 1914

Jump Start # 1914

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”

This summer we have been having a special series on Wednesday nights at the congregation I attend. We’ve invited a different preacher to come each Wednesday and have given them a specific topic that we wanted them to preach about. The overall theme is “A beautiful life.” That idea came from one of our hymns but also from this passage. What Jesus gives us is not just eternity in Heaven after we die, but a beautiful life now.

I want to focus upon the front part of this passage, the work of the thief. In the context Jesus has been talking about hirelings, sheep and shepherds. He describes Himself as the good shepherd. Those that came before Jesus are described as “thieves and robbers.” The sheep did not hear them. But now, in our verse, Jesus refers to “the thief.” Who is He talking about? The analogy of sheep and shepherds has shifted quickly from a real setting of animals to the work that Christ came to do. The thief is killing the sheep. The thief is doing the very opposite of what Jesus came to do. Our first thoughts might be of the Pharisees who opposed Jesus, but sooner or later, all fingers point to Satan. He is the ultimate thief. We do not belong to him. He has done nothing good for us. He is trying to steal people away from Christ.

He comes to steal, and kill, and destroy. There are multiple ways Satan does this.

First, he steals our peace of mind and hope. He generates fear. He causes people to mistrust. He creates doubt. He generates worry and suspicion. Just look at our nation this week. Hatred, anger and finger pointing. People are really upset. This anger has led to violence, name calling and wild accusations. Prejudice, racism, hatred are tools of Satan. This hasn’t been a good week for many people.

Second, he steals and kills our relationships with others. He does that through sin. Sin always kills. Sin never does anything worthwhile. The sin of selfishness ruins marriages. The sin of lying destroys the trust between friends or families. The sin of pride pushes people away. Satan doesn’t make anyone sin. It’s always our choice. But he paints a pretty picture and hides the consequences. Sin can seem so attractive and irresistible. All we think about is the fun and thrill of sin. The path of destruction that it leaves is always kept from our eyes.

Third, he destroys our minds by filling them with error, junk and violence. If a person goes looking for a fight, he will probably find one somewhere. I’ve seen folks lose their cool at ballgames. They are usually escorted out by security and they miss the end of the game. The books, the movies, the TV shows—thrive on sinful content. Sexual encounters that are nothing more than fornication. People taking the law into their own hands. Meanness. Ugliness. Nothing good. Nothing positive. Nothing uplifting. Like a sewer, that stuff flows into our minds and hearts. Profanity is common. A lack of respect is common. Where has all of this come from? Satan who has been destroying minds.

Fourth, he makes life miserable. Look at these three words from our passage: steal, kill, destroy. Those are not the words that you’d find cross stitched on grandma’s pillows. The work of Satan is to make life ugly. Unhappy people. Miserable people. Hopeless people. Angry people. Fighting people. Look around. Satan’s having a day with many people. Complaining rather than being thankful. Seeing what’s wrong rather than seeing what’s right. Demanding rather than being helpful. Hearts that are not at rest. Hearts that are not content.

Fifth, he destroys the soul. That’s where all of this leads to. Satan wants to kill our souls with sin, rebellion and ignoring God. He wants us to blaspheme God’s name. He wants us to ridicule righteousness. He wants us to champion wrong. Mock the athlete who bows and prays. Belittle the college student who believes. Chain the soul to an eternity in Hell by feeding temptation after temptation. Remove God from the heart and people will turn on each other. They will fight each other. They will accuse each other. Addicted to sin they will die that way and forever live in a Hell that was meant only for Satan.

Satan has gotten society so drunk on his plan that they truly believe all the dumb things that they are saying. They believe they are living the best life. They have fooled themselves into thinking that they are happy when they are really miserable. Their marriages stink. They do as they please. They are selfish to the core. And when this world is done, they will have wasted a lifetime dancing with the devil and will spend forever with him in a place so terrible that everyone ought to be afraid to even mention it. That’s what the thief does. We do not belong to him. He has stolen us from Christ. And, rather than make things better, he’s kidnapped our hope, future and heart.

Why doesn’t God do something? Why doesn’t God stop Satan? God sent Jesus. That’s the answer. Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly. Real hope. Real forgiveness. Real purpose. Real outlook. What Jesus does changes us. It makes us thankful and helpful. It turns us into servants that lifts our fellow man. We don’t have to figure everything out, God’s on the throne and that’s enough for us. God will take care of us.

Life. Just the opposite of what Satan is doing. Instead of misery, Christ gives us real joy. Instead of taking away peace and hope, Christ fills our hearts with real peace and joy. Instead of killing relationships, Christ makes our relationships stronger and richer. Through Christ we become kind and gentle. Through Christ we forgive others. Through Christ we find real life, the abundant life. A beautiful life.

Satan is dangling trinklets before your eyes. He is trying to get you to take your eyes off of Christ. He is singing a song that he thinks you will want to dance with him. He is trying to steal you, kill you and destroy you. Will you let him? Will you walk blindly into his enticing arms and allow him to drag you to Hell? Or, will you be different and follow Christ? Will you believe the Gospel message? Will you make Jesus the Lord of your life? Will you say no to Satan? Will you refuse to open the door when temptation comes knocking?

He came…I came…they both want you. Who will you follow?

Roger Continue reading

16

Jump Start # 1913

Jump Start # 1913

1 John 2:11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

 

It’s time we said some things about hatred. The bottom seems to be falling out of our country. Hate groups want things their way. Those that don’t agree with the hate groups seem to be hostile, angry and on the verge of hatred themselves. They hate the hate groups. Then there is the President. Some are so mad at him that they all but hate him. He didn’t speak soon enough some say. He didn’t say the right words. Mad. Mad. Mad. Anger fuels hatred. The fire rages hot within some and it spews out in acts of violence and words that offend. This hatred can spill into churches and even into sermons. Churches must recognize that there is a line that they can cross and at that moment they stop being spiritual and start becoming political. From my perspective, it sure seems that there is plenty of hate going around. Plenty of places to point fingers, but one of the best things to do is to start looking in the mirror first.

 

Some things to consider:

 

First, hatred has no place in the heart of a Christian. PERIOD. Our passage reminds us that hatred is characteristic of those who are not walking with God. In the next chapter, John says, the one who hates is a murderer. Our wonderful Savior crossed all kinds of cultural barriers. He sat with a woman in Samaria, at noon around a well where all could see. He went to the home of a tax collector. He included a tax collector among His apostles. He healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter. He sent His apostles into all the world. If we are going to be like Jesus we will be color blind to race and recognize that we all get our breath and life from God and that each one of us are made in His image.

 

It’s time we did three things. First, we need to stop talking about “them.” The “them” and “us” language is divisive, not Biblical and shows extreme ignorance. Stop talking about people who are different than we are as if they are aliens. We can do that with religious groups we disagree with. We can do that according to ethnic groups, nationality, race, sex, and even education. Just drop the “them” and “us” thinking. Put those thoughts in a blender and mix them all together. We are humans. God sees us as His children or those who do not follow Him.

 

Next, we need to stop generalizing. Lumping everyone in a group isn’t right, fair, and most times accurate. Saying, “All whites…” you’ll find exceptions. Saying, “All women,” better watch it, you’ll find some that aren’t that way. Or, “All husbands…” Nope. Not 100% true. That’s what bothers me about Facebook. You’ll find these titles, “Ten things every housewife needs.” How do they know? Did they ask every housewife? Or, “Ten things your church is lacking.” Really. It’s just someone tooting their own opinions. Be careful about generalizing. Not everything nor everyone fits nice and neatly in a category.

 

Next, we need to get serious about hatred among us. We are quick to blast a teenager who was caught drinking or bring in the execution squad for a person who was unfaithful, but right there in a Bible class a comment can be made that is offensive, rude and laced with hate. We let that slide. Why? Had the person said a “cuss” word we would have stopped him. Instead, he gets a few chuckles. No one confronts his ignorant outbursts. We passively allow the “them” and “us” spirit to thrive. Don’t tolerate that stuff. It’s wrong. It’s sinful. Hatred is characteristic of a dark heart. Hatred is not of God.

 

Second, let’s talk about race. Red and yellow, black and white—we are all made by God and made in His image. We must look at the Bible from Heaven down, the way it was delivered, and not through the color of our skin. What color was Adam? The first man. The perfect man. The sinless man. White? Asian? Black? Red? We can look at the common races in that general area today and make a guess, but it is just that, a guess. We don’t know.

 

Was Eve the same race as Adam? We assume so but is that assumption correct? When and where did the different races enter? Was it at Babel when God changed the languages? Was it after the flood and people spread out over the world? The Bible doesn’t tell us. It doesn’t matter. God does not hold up one race as superior to another. What God holds up is faith in Him.

 

The curse of Cain has been taught by white people to be dark skin. How do we know that the curse wasn’t “white” skin? Nothing in the context states that the mark on Cain would be passed on to future generations, carried on the ARK, and continued to modern times. One of my grandchildren is Korean. He has the sweetest, kindest little heart that you would ever meet. His eyes just sparkle. He is as much a part of our family as the others.

 

Why is it that some of us are tall? I was born with very red hair. Never liked it. It has darkened through the years. Some of us have big noses. Some have big feet. Some have little hair and others are very hairy. Why? God made us the way we are. Some are shy. Some never stop talking. Some are good at fixing things. Some have that special insight to be visionary. All of this shows us that we are all different, unique and gifted. Yet, we are all the same. We all need Jesus. We all sin. We are not saved by nations, churches or race. We are saved by our individual faith in Christ.

 

Much of what a person is has nothing to do with the color of their skin but their upbringing, their choices, the environment that they have surrounded themselves in. Hated is found in all colors of race. But so is, faith. These things are choices.

 

The issues of hatred not just in this country, but in the world, are found in people that do not know the Lord. There are places in the world that hate our American values. Terrorism isn’t against anything other than one person hating the values of another. As our verse tells us, they are in darkness and do not know where they are going. The darkness has blinded them. In this case, the darkness of hatred. They may not recognize how wrong they are to God.

 

In Galatians is a powerful passage that reminds us in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male or female, slave or master. We are all one in Christ. Can you imagine. Can you imagine a Jew serving a Gentile the Lord’s Supper? Or, a master handing the plate to a slave, knowing later on the slave will hand the master his food when they got home. One. One in Christ.

 

Behind all this hatred is pride. Pride says I am better than you. Pride blinds. Pride is foolish. And pride is wrong. I am not better. You are not better. I do not apologize for being white. It’s the way God made me. I do not apologize for being male. It’s the way God made me. Nor do I apologize for the dumb and wrong things that people have done whether currently or in past generations. I must stand for my choices. When I have done wrong, I need to apologize for that. Hatred of someone who is different than you are is wrong. A person cannot change their race and they cannot actually change their sex. Chromosomes do not change. I can be against the sin that someone does but not hate a person. There are words that are offensive. God’s people do not say those words, even under their breath. There are things that we have no part of. If not careful, we start hating those who hate. In this, we are really no different than they are. Hatred is darkness. We need to fill our hearts with Christ. I am the Light of the World, Jesus said. That’s what needs to fill us and needs to be spread everywhere.

 

I don’t stand with whites. I don’t stand with males. I stand with Christ. I must drop the rocks that I have in my hands and realize that I too am with sin. I too need Jesus. The blood of Christ was for all people, even me.

 

I don’t know the solution, if there is one, to the heated moment we are in. Calming down is important. Mob mentality often runs without much thinking. Things are said that should never have been thought of. Things are done that are hard to take back. The only solution is Jesus. Love one another. Hatred is a choice. Hatred is learned. And, hated can be stopped. It won’t come from the White House, the court house or the school house. It must come from my heart and the choices that I make.

 

Love one another—God is love. God so loved the world…

 

Have we forgotten?

 

Roger

 

 

15

Jump Start # 1912

Jump Start # 1912

Psalms 85:10 “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other.”

In this very poetic passage written by the sons of Korah, we find the principles of lovingkindness, truth, righteousness and peace. These four principles are characteristics of God and are need to be found in the people of God. It seems, especially the way moderns present things, that these principles have little in common with each other and can even be portrayed as opposites. To be loving, it seems that a person must back off the strictness, especially around truth. Love and grace go together, that’s for certain. Love and forgiveness. But lovingkindness and truth? Righteousness and peace also seem hard to fit together. These four principles seem like square pegs that we try to fit into round holes. It’s not smooth, easy or comfortable. To have peace, it seems one must compromise. How can one compromise and be right? It is easier to understand be right or be at peace, but not both. Not together. Not at the same time.

 

These four principles are personified. They appear as people. Lovingness meets truth, just like two people meet. The flow of this sentence is that the meeting is good. They have joined together. A friendship has formed. Two grand principles of God meet. They do not square off against each other. They do not walk away from each other. Rather, because of what follows, it seems that lovingkindness and truth hit it off. They become friends. The legendary singer Glen Campbell recently passed away. I watched a video about one of his dear friends. They golfed almost daily. They lived in the same town. They respected each other’s abilities. Their wives were good friends. Their kids grew up together. Who was this friend of Glen Campbell? It was the hard rocker Alice Cooper. Talk about opposites. But he shared how much they had in common. He explained why there were such great friends. Lovingkindness and truth meet.

 

The next expression brings in affection. Righteousness and peace do more than meet. They become more than just friends. They kiss. There is a bond between them. A romance. A love. Boy meets girl. All of us who are married started with a first date. There was that first kiss. That romance grew into a marriage. After many years, it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Righteousness and peace, together, just as they ought to be. The platform in which peace can exist and survive is righteousness. The opposite of being right is being wrong. Wrong with God. Wrong with each other. When we have been wronged, peace evaporates. Someone talks about us in a bad way. Someone lies. Someone has been dishonest towards us. This does more than hurt our feelings, it breaks the trust we had in them. Peace no longer remains. So, for righteousness and peace to kiss, makes perfect sense from Heaven’s side of things.

 

All of this brings us to some greater observations:

 

First, the principles of God are not counter to each other. It’s not a cafeteria, where we pick out certain qualities and leave others untouched. We are not to pick out lovingkindness but leave out truth. God wants us to manifest all the characteristics that He reveals. This would be true of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. This would be true of the virtues found in 2 Peter. This would be true of the last verse of Ephesians 4. To be whole in Christ, we must grow and develop all of these. Without being right, we cannot have peace. To love, is to stand with truth. Many make sure that the church is standing true and pure yet they haven’t done the same thing with their own hearts. While they would never deviate one inch away from what God says the church is to do, they don’t see the same with their attitudes, tongue or heart.

 

Second, some qualities are easier than others. Because some qualities do not come naturally to us, or they challenges us, is no means to avoid them or ignore them. In Titus we find, “Our people must learn to engage in good deeds.” In Timothy we read, “they must learn to practice piety in regard to their own family.” Paul told the Philippians, “I have learned to be content.” Learn. Just as a student in school must learn, so must we. We must be shown how to develop the heart and characteristics of God. We must put forth some effort to learn. Every school year, some kids do well and get on the honor roll. Others flunk out and must take classes over. Some learned. Some learned well. Some didn’t.

 

Third, some excel in these more easily than others do. Some, because of their background, thinking, and internal wiring, are more likely to develop these qualities much easier and faster than others. Some are loving. They have grown up seeing the love of God and the love of neighbor. Their thought process is to think the best of others. They have learned to be kind in word and respectful in attitude. But for others, their journey has not been this way. They may have grown up with prejudice and hatred. Their world may have been surrounded with those who were bigots. Lovingkindness is tough. They have a lot of history to overcome. They have to change how they view people. I expect for some Pharisees who became Christians, it was hard to love Samaritans. Even among the apostles, there was a Jewish zealot and a tax collector. The dynamics for disaster were all there. Yet with Christ, we can learn. With Christ we can change. We can overcome our background. Prejudice people can love. People who agitate by nature can become peaceable and get along. Truth and righteousness can be a part of our lives.

 

Fourth, when these qualities are present, it makes the home and the church much better. The foundations that bring about love, truth, righteousness and peace is grace, fellowship and the love of God and His word. A home or a church that doesn’t stand upon truth will not be righteous. And if love isn’t present, there won’t be any peace. We can pick at each other until we get so upset that we leave and never come back or we can get along. I’ve noticed some folks are just like a mosquito. That pesky bug will buzz and buzz around you. You know he’s going to land on you and bite you. But he’s a nuisance in the process. Just like some people. You know they are going to find something negative to say. They buzz and buzz around, and you feel like swatting them but peace, lovingkindness, truth and righteousness keeps you from doing that. You can get annoyed by some. Some can really get under your skin. You could scream. But you don’t. You could smack them. But you won’t. The reason is that lovingkindness and truth have met. And, righteousness and peace have kissed. And, where did all of this take place? First in Heaven. Then, throughout the Bible. But lately, and most importantly to you, in your heart. You have brought lovingkindness and truth together. You have arranged for righteousness and peace to meet. These bonds have taken place in your heart.

 

Just as someone arranges for a boy to meet a girl, this arrangement was made by you in your heart. My sweet wife and I met on a blind date. A mutual friend, who knew her and knew me, introduced us together.

 

Lovingkindness and truth…righteousness and peace. Best friends. Companions. Together. And they are found in your heart and because of that, they have changed you. You walk in truth and righteousness. You manifest lovingkindness. You are a person of peace. It shows in your choices. It’s seen in your attitude. It’s a part of you now. It’s your spiritual DNA. Your family notices it. Your church benefits because of it.

 

Together, just as God intended. Lovingkindness, truth, righteousness and peace—found in God. Found in the Bible. And found in you. This is just one of the many differences God makes in our lives.

 

Roger