Category Archives: Bulletin Articles

Words of wisdom from our weekly bulletin

“Triplets”

My uncle and his wife had good intentions in arranging a blind date between a girl they knew and me.  She was nice and polite and we attended a movie together. However, we were both shy and the date was awkward.  Even though I was curious about her life as a triplet, there was never a second date due to distance and our mutual disinterest.  Having two siblings who look exactly like you surely must be a unique experience.

If we were to create an imaginary group of triplets named Shoulda, Coulda and Woulda, what would that look like?  Let’s say that their surname was Dunwright and they lived up to their names.  If they were to marry and have offspring, might their names be Senseless, Slothful and Selfish?  Suppose further that the family down the block is named Giterdun and their triplets are Cana, Willa and Dida. Their children could well be called Faith, Hope and Charity.

The proverb, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” was thought to have originated in 1150 by Saint Bernard.  It is still as true today as it was then. When Christ comes in His glory to judge the people of all nations, He will separate them as a shepherd does his sheep and goats. (Mt 25:31-46)  The goats represent those who are cursed for not caring for the sick, hungry and poor. (vv 41-43)  Their fate of going to eternal punishment (v 46) will be the same as those who hate God and persecute His people. (Rom 1:28-32) (2 Th 2:10-12) It appears as if Shoulda, Coulda and Woulda and folks like them will be among the goats.

In the same sermon Jesus praises the people (sheep) who treated the strangers, sick and needy as if they were Christ himself. (Mt 25:40) They are called blessed and have the kingdom and eternal life as an inheritance from God. (v 34 & 46) The other triplets, Cana, Willa and Dida, would surely be among the sheep.  The message for any Christian, whether a triplet, twin or single birth child, is to love Christ enough to follow through on our good intentions and obey His commands.

                                                                   –Jim Bailey

“Flashbacks”

Memories and dreams can run the gamut from sweet to horrific.  So can flashbacks, although they are often thought of in the dictionary definition as, “vivid recurrent recollections of a disturbing event.”  Sometimes even the most mundane action, sound or sight can trigger an emotional or violent reaction.  Fire fighters, law enforcement, and military personnel seem to be the most obvious victims of this syndrome, but anyone who has witnessed or has been involved in a traumatic occurrence could also be subject to flashbacks.  At times there are also hallucinations that accompany these and it seems as if all efforts to repress certain events can be outflanked by conscience and feelings of guilt. One cannot control the dreams, but can ameliorate the effects through proper understanding and good counseling.  One can learn to better cope with and even use flashbacks to handle current situations. Good authors often employ them to build a backstory and inject them in the plot to enhance character development.

As one reads through the Letters of the Apostle Paul, one can see his frequent use of flashbacks.  He must have often thought of the severe persecutions and dangers he had endured —prisons, floggings, stonings, shipwrecks, bandits, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst and the constant verbal attacks by false apostles. (2 Cor 11:23-28)  He also mentions the destruction of families of Christians he caused when he was still called Saul. (Acts 8:3) (1 Cor 15:9) One wonders if he felt a certain irony upon later being the guest of Christians like Mnason, (Acts 21:16) Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Rufus and several others. (Rom 16:1-15)

The Apostle Peter also surely had his flashbacks as the Lord Jesus was asking him to feed His sheep. (Jo 21:15-19)  He must have recalled his painful betrayal of his friend and Savior. (Jo 18: 25-27)  It is most probable that the rest of the Apostles and many disciples had similar flashbacks. Thomas was doubtful and unbelieving about Jesus’ resurrection. (Jo 20:24-25)  James and John and the other Apostles had once argued about who was the greatest and had been humbled by Jesus’ lesson of servanthood.  (Mk 9:33-37)

Even though no present day Christian has seen the Lord, we can still flashback to the events of His life as we remember Him during the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor 11:23-32)  We are told to examine ourselves before partaking by meditation and prayer. (v 24)  Many flashbacks can also be sweet and uplifting.  These should help us to recall the successes as well as the failures in our journey to eternity.  

                                                                                  –Jim Bailey

“Learning”

Learning is a lifetime endeavor from infancy to death even when one is unaware that it is happening.  Some things need to be unlearned and relearned.  If one thinks that he has learned everything there is to be known about a topic, he only has to try teaching others this information to quickly learn how much more there is still to be learned.  Memory and exposure to new facts and experiences play a huge part in the learning curve.  In the 21st Century there are constantly new and faster ways to learn more and more information.

There is a program on the History Channel in which astronomers attempt to educate the rest of us about the origins of the Universe.  The episode I watched recently focused on the Big Bang theory.  The professor said that everything began when an infinitely compact material exploded and produced all that we now see.  Anticipating the obvious question, he expounded that, “it is possible to start with nothing and produce something.”  If he was denying God’s part in creation, then he also has more to learn.

Little children learn God’s commandments at an early age when parents and others take the time and effort to train the child in them and impress them upon their hearts. (Dt 6:7) (Pr 22:6) (Joel 1:3) Sometimes the tables are reversed and it is the children who teach the adults as Jesus did in the temple at 12 years of age. (Lk 2:46-47)  Jesus commands people of all ages to, “learn of me.” (Mt 11:29)  To learn and believe one needs another person to teach and explain the lesson (Rom 10:14) as Philip did for the eunuch. (Acts 8:26-39)

To truly learn God’s will, one must have a soft heart and an eager attitude.  Isaiah through the Holy Spirit spoke of a people who would have a hard heart and stubborn resistance and thus make any learning impossible. (Isa 6:9) Jesus later quoted this scripture to the leaders of His day. (Mt 13:14-15) (Acts 28:26) The Holy Spirit tell us the very thoughts of God, but one who doesn’t have the Spirit living within him, considers them foolishness. (1 Cor 2:10-14) God will give His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:32) (Acts 2:38) Learning facts and how to use them is important, but learning God’s will is eternal.                                                                               

–Jim Bailey

“Side Effects”

Most everyone has seen the ads for a new medicine on TV or in print media.  The ones that are hard to pronounce and tell you to ask your doctor if this could be right for you.  However, if one reads the small print, the side effects are really scary.  It might produce infections, liver or kidney damage, dizziness, hallucinations, paralysis and many others including death. To be fair, any new medication has to go through many clinical trials lasting months or even years.  The side effects are limited to a very small percent of the total population.  Nevertheless, there are risks one has to weigh before deciding whether this medication is, “right for me.”

During a Christian’s spiritual journey to eternity he or she will encounter many situations that will demand a choice.  One must weigh the short range benefits against the long term outcomes. Satan is the master of counterfeit and subterfuge, (2 Cor 11:14) as are his servants. (v 15) He has always used subtle lies to attract the gullible, unwise and apathetic “client.” (Gen 3:1-7)  He sells his exciting “medicine” of sin by touting the short term qualities of pleasure, (2 Pe 2:13) (Heb 11:25) popularity and wealth. (Ja 2:5-7)

The manufacturers of new medicines are required by law to publish the possible side effects of their products, albeit in very small print, right along with the ads.  Satan and his servants have no such disclaimers nor restrictions.  He doesn’t tell the new drinker of alcohol of the embarrassment and addiction that may occur down the road.  The Bible does. (Tit 2:3) (Pr 23:20-21) (Isa 28:7) Satan doesn’t warn of the consequences of illicit sexual behavior.  The Bible does. (2 Sam 12:9-12) (1 Cor 5:9-11) (Eph 5:3-5) (Rom 1:26-27)

Of course there are many other “products” (sins) that Satan peddles such as illegal drugs, materialism, gambling, violence, and many others.  They all appear glitzy but are sold “as is” without any “buyer beware” sign.  The side effects are harmful and often spiritually fatal.

Whereas, the merchandise the Holy Spirit offers is free and innocuous.  He gives believers “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23) In other words, no hidden agendas and with only wonderful side effects. 

                                                                     –Jim Bailey

“Perfunctory”

Although there is certainly a place for habits and traditions in one’s daily life, they can easily become perfunctory.  The one-armed hug while air-kissing someone’s cheek might be perceived as a hasty and superficial, routine duty when done with a lack of interest or enthusiasm.  An action that one feels is obligatory can morph into an artificial gesture rather than an honest, sincere and heart-felt expression of genuine appreciation and admiration.

Of course the circumstances surrounding greetings would certainly come into play.  The hugs at a funeral, after a long separation or after a natural disaster, would no doubt be intense and prolonged.  They would be zealous, which is the opposite of perfunctory.

The 1st Century Christians were admonished to greet one another with a “holy kiss” in several scriptures. (Rom 16:16) (1 Cor 16:20) (2 Cor 13:12) (1 Th 5:26) (1 Pe a5:14)  Given the severe persecutions of that era, they could not be sure they would ever have another chance to show their love of the brethren. (1 Th 3:4) (2 Ti 3:12) (Jo 15:20) There is little doubt then that their greetings were not perfunctory.  Probably because of our culture’s perceptions, the hoy kiss is very rare today.  However, we can still show our love of the brethren through handshakes, hugs, fist-bumps, pats on the back and smiles.

When faithful Christians meet together weekly (Heb 10:25) there could always be the possibility of allowing worship to become perfunctory.  The Lord Jesus Christ hates that and warns His disciples not to forsake their first love (Rev 2:4) nor to be lukewarm (Rev 3:16) We are never to be lacking in zeal, rather to keep our spiritual fervor. (Rom 12:11)

                                                                                    –Jim Bailey