Playing With Matches


People can do some funny, seemingly innocuous things that can have serious, even devastating consequences sometimes. 

One of my favorite presidents was Ronald Reagan. I remember hearing how  staff members sometimes ran into situations with First Lady Nancy Reagan because decisions about whom the president would see, when trips would be made and so forth were dictated by astrological means.  My all time favorite president Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was widely known to have seances in the White House in efforts to connect with her deceased son, Willy.

In the historical context of their lives, these two great men did wonderful things for America and I believe they were Godly men. But what tangled web can a little misrepresentation from the Ruler of this World, Satan, spin in the lives of a nation and its leaders!

In our study last Wednesday night, we saw how the devil makes direct and indirect attacks on mankind in an effort to destabilize the lives of God’s creatures, those created in His Image, so that he can establish ever greater control in the place over which he currently enjoys the dominion Adam handed over to him in Eden. It is a war in which Satan has been destined to lose ever since God cast him from heaven. It is a spiritual war billions in this world are losing and don’t seem to recognize. Lucifer apparently didn’t recognize it either when this occurred in Isaiah 14:12-15:

How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star [Lucifer], son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nation!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

The Father of Lies wants us to live the lie out that we can live like him in the world-a world in which everyday things like horoscopes, seances, fortune cookies-with lotto numbers on the back, rabbit’s feet and the like are harmless things that mean nothing in our relationship with the Lord.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Little things become big things when they interfere with our Father’s loving plan for our lives. We were, after all, created to glorify Him with every thought, every word, and every deed and when we neglect these things, even in small ways, we step away from His guidance and protection.

In Luke 10 we see the result of faithful submission to Jesus’ will and instructions given to 72 of His disciples who were given authority to exercise His ministry:

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). And Jesus replies that this is to be expected, because of who He Himself is the eternal One who was there at creation, and who has witnessed all of history, including Satan’s fall. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” Jesus told them (Luke 10:18).

This is the nature of our warfare ever since Satan was cast down!  Jesus was there! He not only saw the event, He accomplished the event! It is SERIOUS!

There is a bottom line here. Pastor Ray Stedman laid it out most wisely, I think:

There is no question that there is a great deal of fraud and deception in this whole field of black magic, channeling, and fortunetelling. There are charlatans at work who make their living off the superstitious fears of people, and they use deceptive tricks to fool people into thinking they are genuinely in touch with spirits and occult powers. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the genuine and the false in this field. Great skepticism, care, and clear thinking must be used by anyone attempting to investigate this dark realm. While there is a great deal of smoke and mirrors in the occult domain, the Bible tells us there is considerable fire as well. Despite the existence of fraud, there is a dangerous truth behind the operation of black magic and witchcraft.

The Bible consistently warns us against dabbling in these matters. Here are just a few examples of biblical teaching on the subject:

“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31).

“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6).

When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19).

 

It’s the little things friends, the seemingly harmless things that often require the greatest discernment. God has called us to this level of wisdom, so show yourselves approved and dig in to His Word to get this wisdom. He will bless you most certainly.

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Thank You Veterans!


Tomorrow, many of us in America will celebrate the lives of brave men, women, and their families who bear the burdens of home in Veteran’s Day festivities throughout the land.

These celebrations take many forms from innumerable parades and 21 gun salutes to prayer services for the vets and their families, many of which took place today in churches all over America. Some will be brief, silent prayers at final resting places spoken by the widows, widowers, and children of the courageous who came home differently than when they left to defend us.

This short blog post will be mine.

I have friends who have served nobly, and with distinction for more than 30 years. I myself served, with no particular distinction in the early to mid-1980’s, right after college. Even though I made no effort at making it a career, I served because I came from a family who served.

In the Sandmeyer house back then it was important to recognize that armed service was voluntary and a mark of pride for us. I was lucky enough to marry into a house where my own father-in-law was a Navy man like me.  My father and I were U. S. Navy officers and both of my uncles were petty officers.

My wife and I have a son who may serve one day. He really loves the U. S. Coast Guard but with the cuts in military recruitment these days that may have to wait a while.

We have friends who have made multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 9 years. Their hard work, dedication to a cause, and faith in a loving God who brings them home every time renews our faith at home, too.  One of them has a 4 year old daughter who is cute as button. 

It seems to me that courage is far more difficult to define when you’re talking about a service member with  a spouse and small children at home. It gets worse when they have been away a long time or made repeated trips back to battle after having been home.  G.K. Chesterton may have said it best:

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

I’m always grateful to veterans for their service. In a volunteer environment like we have, they represent the best attributes of  our citizenry in the United States. They fight for an ideal conceived by our founding fathers almost 240 years ago. That ideal has been repeated in many forms since then but was best enunciated by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address when he said “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

Whether such a government does or not, the highest ideal was expressed by Jesus Christ Himself and is often lived out in our armed forces every day. This shall end my homage to the best of the best among us:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  John 15:12-14