Thursday, January 06, 2005

SIN: Someone must die in order to separate yourself from it!

BITTER MILK [Proverbs 14:12; 16:25; other topics - Man's ways; Unrighteousness]

It was reported in an Associated Press article a few years ago that Russia had developed a hybrid plant as a cheap substitute for cattle feed. However this designer plant has an unusual effect on the milk it produces ... it's bitter!

Now they've also discovered the plant, once started, is virtually unstoppable, causing "burns" and "stinging" for those who come in contact with it.

The effects of sin are much like this! What seems a good idea to man, turns into a disaster in the end!


CAN YOU REFUSE TO GO? [Matthew 25:45-46; Atonement, Hell]

John R. Cooper of Ridgecrest, California, hated paying taxes, so he didn't ... on several occasions. As you'd expect, he landed himself in jail. [Inyo County Register, 4/18/1986]

When I was a kid, a popular saying went something like this: "only two things are certain, death and taxes."

Another certainty, for those who reject God’s Son, is hell. Some hate the thought of anyone going to hell; and so they spend a great deal of energy denying its existence. Yet, unless their sin debt is satisfied (atoned for), they’ll land themselves there all the same. (Added 16 March 2006)


GETTING OUT THE STAIN! [Jeremiah 2:22; other topics - Blood; Cleansing]

When a bachelor I cooked many of my own meals ... being poor and a college student. At that time I had an adventurous spirit and liked to experiment, trying things I'd never tried before. That spirit is what got me into so much trouble before I met the Lord.

At any rate, on one shopping trip, I decided to try black beans with a ham I had purchased. Now, I’d never tasted black beans, but I reasoned: the white ones were good but the red ones were better; so, black? ... well? They’ve got to be the best. For those who've had black beans, you will know the one disadvantage of these wonderful legumes ... the stain.

Much of my culinary expertise, up to this point, had been out of an old Betty Crocker Cook Book my mother had given me. I followed the instructions for ham and beans using a nice four-quart, cast aluminum pot, also from mom.

Well, when the time smelled right, I followed the aromas and lifted the lid. At first I was startled by the dark mound in the midst of a bubbling mass of black beans, but then I gathered my senses and sternly demanded, "What are you and what did you do with my ham?"

That night I had a great meal of black ham and beans for dinner, with hot, buttered bread and creamed corn on the side. I ate like a king.

I didn't feel the least bit foolish eating black ham until the next day, when I took some really thick slices of potato bread and made a ham sandwich ... I had a vague sense that Dr. Suess had made my lunch for me. But the real shock was a closer look at the pot; it was stained black from the bottom to half way up the inside. I honestly doubted I'd never get that stain out.

I scraped, I scrubbed, I rubbed, I boiled ... nothing I did could get that stain completely out of that pot.

When I met the Lord, face-to-face, I, like Isaiah, didn’t think the stain in my heart and soul would ever come out! There were times in my life when I tried ... scraping, scrubbing and rubbing, but nothing I did seemed to make any difference to that stain.

I had almost given up when a hippie friend told me about a divine red cleanser that was guaranteed to get out even the worst of stains. She said I could only get it if I sank to my knees and pleaded with its Maker to give me what I needed (not what I deserved). I did ... He did ... and now there's no more stain ... praise His holy name!


HOLY MOLD! [Romans 6:23a; Forgiveness; Iniquity; Repentance; Sin]

I'm told fungi (plural of fungus) are multicellular organisms usually composed of a network of cottony filaments. Often their filaments (or threads) clump up, looking more like a cottony tuft or pile. Some fungi are important sources of antibiotics, vitamins, and industrial chemicals. However, fungi are parasitic to their hosts ... eventually consuming them.

Most often fungi appear black or white in color but are also found in a multitude of hues, shades, and tones. Some fungi shine, some are dry, some are dusty, and many are slimy. They may be found almost anywhere one looks or can look. They are found in small quantities or in vast networks covering several thousand square miles.

All fungi reproduce asexually; meaning they require the agency of nothing other than themselves to reproduce.

Despite the fact that sin isn't multicellular or the source of anything good, fungi do remind me of unrighteousness.

Unrighteousness is always black yet found in every size, shape and texture imaginable and some unimaginable. It is also found in every place man can look and in many places he doesn't want to look. Sin comes disguised as tiny, hidden things, as-well-as huge, overt monsters of iniquity.

Unlike fungi, unrighteousness cannot reproduce asexually ... it needs the assistance of another ... its host. Nevertheless sin, like fungi, will destroy its host!

On the one hand, we've known about fungicides (fungus killers) for centuries; on the other hand, though, we've known of a cure for sin from the beginning. It's called repentance and is followed by forgiveness; man provides the former, while God provides the latter.

The Bible tells us "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." How's that for a sin-a-cide? (Added 16 March 2006)


JUST NOT HIS DAY! [Numbers 32:23; other topics - Darkness, Word]

A report by an international news agency reveals just how bad a day some people can have ... recently, while renovating a building in the historic part of Natchez, Mississippi, masons found the fully-clothed skeletal remains of a man who has been missing for more than 15 years. His remains were found stuck in the chimney of an old, historic, Mississippi building; a structure dating from before the Civil War.

The man disappeared without a trace in 1985. At that time, a gift shop was a tenant in the building. Investigators discovered the man had a police record ... as a burglar.

The Bible tells us our sins will find us out. In fact the Bible itself tells us the Word is Christ and that ... "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." [Hebrew 4:13]


NOT A SMALL MATTER! [1 Peter 5:8; Evil, Satan, Wickedness]

Various news agencies are reporting employees at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium are looking for a lightning-quick mantis shrimp which is wreaking havoc in a coral reef exhibit.

This shrimp roams around at night, under the cloak of darkness, leaving only the shells of prized sea snails, barnacles and hermit crabs. Workers believe the shrimp was introduced by way of a shipment of display rocks from Florida, into which it had evidently burrowed.

Likewise, Satan also prowls about in the darkness seeking whom he may devour. Peter advises we stay alert and sober; you see the devil is no shrimp!

Clearly those who warn us about importing worldly things into our lives, our homes and our workplaces are correct. We must be vigilant to prevent those things (which seem harmless and innocuous on the surface but may have horribly damaging critters hidden just out of view) from entering our lives.

Desensitization is too tame a word for this danger ... "deadly spiritual carnivores" is better. These demonic forces have been leaving the shells of God's prized children along the Way for centuries.


REAPING WHAT WE SOW! [Ezekiel 21:24; other topics - Reaping, Responsibility, Sowing]

Radio talk show hostess, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, has been a major proponent of morality and women's issues, as well as the author of a book on the Ten Commandments from a Jewish worldview.

Unfortunately, twenty years ago, while dating (a.k.a. having an affair) a rock-n-roll disc jockey in Los Angeles, she allowed herself to be photographed in the nude. Last month her old flame sold those pictures to an Internet porn site for $50,000 and now the whole world can see Dr. Laura as sHe does not want to be seen.

Behold, your sins will find you out. To Dr. Laura's credit, she spoke of the issue on her talk show and took responsibility for her actions, admitted that it was a dumb thing for a grown woman to do, then said, "Now, let's get on with our lives."


ROTOTILLER WAITING TO HAPPEN! [Rom 3:23; other topics - Unrighteousness]

Kansas has been in the news a lot since the State Board of Education voted to eliminate mandatory teaching of evolution in the state's schools. This has raised a hornet's nest of trouble for Kansans.

However, hornets are not the only problem this Midwestern state has: they've got a "poor man’s grizzly" problem also. That's what hunters call the wild pigs that roam the state. These are mean, hairy, nasty, and vicious tempered hogs. They're probably reincarnated descendants of the 2,000 pigs the Lord flushed into the Sea of Galilee.

These "250-pound rats" are not welcome in this great farming area of the US. They tear up ground-crops eating young plantings, churn through river beds looking for fish eggs, drive out other wild animal species, and spread disease to man and beast alike.

One retired biologist said, "Once they have a toehold ... it's pretty hard to get rid of them." Many of the pigs are probably being trailered in, in the dead of night, from other states, he added. These feral hogs reproduce so quickly hunters can't keep their population in check; they're so adaptable they thrive in almost any environment.

The pigs have their defenders: hunters primarily. But some scientists say the problem is overblown, that the alarmists and do-gooders are making a big thing out of nothing.

Kansas is not the only place affected: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and at least 19 other states have problems with these "pesky porkers." One writer said, "Each one of these hogs is a rototiller waiting to happen." [Michael Pearce of Newton, Kansas, said]. They can destroy a freshly planted field in a night or two.

Sin has plagued the world with just as much ferocity. It is a deadly disease, passed on from one generation to another. Sin is mean, nasty and horrible ill-tempered.

Sin has its defenders: participants primarily. But some religious people say the problem is being overblown, that the alarmists and do-gooders are making a big thing out of nothing.

But sin tears up families, churches, and businesses; it's been known to tear up whole denominations, even towns; it drives out other wholesome species, and it’s especially devastating to our young seedlings.

Sin spreads its disease to man and beast alike. Once it gets a toehold it's almost impossible to get rid of it. Much of it is being brought in, in the dead of the night. And iniquity is so adaptable that it thrives in almost any environment. And it reproduces so quickly that hunters of sin can’t keep it in check.


WARNING – CAUTION RECOMMENDED! [1 John 1:9; Righteousness, World]

Large batteries, like those in automobiles and boats, are normally filled with acid (sulfuric, if I remember right); so caution is recommended when handling them. The slightest contact can permanently damage clothing; most often, the damage is unseen till the next washing. I've seen many garments lifted from the wash with blotches of discoloration that virtually decompose when touched.

Sin is like battery acid. And we're exposed to sin on a daily basis in this technological age, by things we use as tools or for entertainment (for example cars, magazines, videos, or the Internet). Caution is always recommended when using them. Their utility is enormous, but they're fraught with danger. What appears on the surface to be a harmless excursion into an entertaining medium leaves unseen damage on our robes of righteousness.

In fact, the Bible warns us to remain "unstained by the world" [James 1:27] and not to love "the things of the world" [1 John 2:15f].

Fortunately, the same Bible offers a way of escape when we encounter this spiritual corrosive. It tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." AMEN.
(Added 16 March 2006)


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