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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recovering from Depression

Elijah tumbled. He had shown tremendous faith by confronting and triumphing over 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, but his faith deflated faster than a punctured balloon when Queen Jezebel threatened his life. He fled far into the desert, where he asked God to end his life. To put it plainly, Elijah was depressed.
Some forms of depression have medical causes and require medical attention, but others, like Elijah’s, result from a lapse of faith, worry, weariness, and a sense of overwhelming guilt. Elijah’s faith went poof when Jezebel said “Boo!” He worried and ran for his life. Exhausted, he plopped down under a broom tree and asked God to take his life.
So how did God restore Elijah’s spiritual and emotional well-being?
First, He let Elijah rest (1 Kings 19:5a). A pastor used to say, “Christians on their way to heaven should be in bed by eleven.” If we fail to get adequate rest, we may succumb to depression.

Second, God fed Elijah and provided a jar of water too (vv. 5b, 6). Proper sleep and nourishment often help us move out of “the dumps.”

Third, God gave Elijah a new revelation of His presence. He showed Elijah He was with him in the stillness as well as in life’s exciting times. He was present in the desert just as He had been on Mount Carmel (see vv. 12, 13).
Finally, God gave Elijah new assignments. He commissioned him to anoint a successor and two kings (vv. 15, 16). God doesn’t write us off when we write ourselves off. He has specific assignments for each of us. A sense of mission rejuvenates us.

© 2009, Jim Dyet

Friday, January 16, 2009

Self-Pity on a Golf Course

I was feeling sorry for myself today. I was playing golf, but not hitting the ball very far, and I was finding it hard to see where I hit it. Fortunately, my younger golf buddies have better eyesight and were able to tell me where my ball landed. I played only 9 holes, but only two of them were worth mentioning—a par on one par 5 and a birdie on the other. Old age has not been kind to my golf game.

Nevertheless, I am still able to play, and I met a golfer today who made me feel young. He is 89, has been married 65 years, and plays golf four times week. He offered me some of the candy he was munching on. So I don’t have a good excuse to quit golf. Maybe I will be able to keep playing until I am 89.

It’s good to know our times are in the Lord’s hands whether we reach 89 or not. I would be grateful to be able to play golf at 89, but I would be especially grateful if the Lord suddenly enabled me to hit the ball 50 yards farther than I do now. I plan to play again Monday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bobby Jones and Calamity Jane

Bobby Jones and Calamity Jane

To own a replica of the Calamity Jane putter is to own a significant piece of American golf history.

Although the Calamity Jane putter had been on the market for a couple of decades, it did not become famous until Bobby Jones first used in 1920. Then, six years later, he replaced it with another putter, Calamity Jane II, which he used masterfully in ten major championships.

The U.S. Post Office set up a temporary postal station at the 1976 U.S. Open in Atlanta to pay tribute to Bobby Jones and his Calamity Jane putter. The station was named the Calamity Jane, Georgia Station.

Today, visitors to the USGA Museum may see Calamity Jane II, donated by Bobby Jones. Calamity Jane I has its home at Augusta National Golf Club.

There is nothing fancy about Calamity Jane. Probably this simple blade putter would never have achieved fame except for one thing: Bobby Jones held it in his hands, applied his putting genius, and used it to win championships.

God doesn’t need multitalented, highly educated, wealthy, and stunningly beautiful people to serve His purposes. Anyone with a humble heart and love for Him will do just fine. Remember, He used a scrubby desert bush to display His glory to Moses (Ex. 3:1-6). He used one stone and a shepherd boy’s slingshot to drop the defiant giant Goliath facedown onto the ground (1 Sam. 17:45-50). He used a widow’s nearly empty pantry to sustain Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-16). He stretched a young boy’s small lunch far enough to feed at least 5,000 hungry people so well that the disciples were able to gather twelve baskets of leftovers (John 6:1-13).

Any believer, who offers himself to God as an empty vessel, receives God’s power and is able to serve His purposes. God delights to respond to our availability with His infinite ability.

© 2009, Jim Dyet

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Biblically Equipped for Life

I wonder how well Tiger Woods would play golf if he had only a wedge. Sure, he might beat some weekend-warrior golfers, but he would not be as effective as he is with a full set of clubs. Unfortunately, some Christians try to play the game of life with only a couple of Bible verses in their “bag.” They know John 3:16 and perhaps Romans 3:23, but they haven’t equipped themselves with full resources of Scripture. Dwight L. Moody’s counsel holds true today, as it did more than a century ago. Referring to the Bible as “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), Moody advised Christians to take the whole Bible, not just a part of it, because the soldier of the Lord can’t win battles with a broken sword.

Are we losing battles because of broken swords? Are we losing our Christian distinctiveness by pursuing a lifestyle that resembles that of our unregenerate culture? Are churches scuttling the Book while relying on entertainment to attract unbelievers? And once those churches have attracted unbelievers, what are they doing to acquaint them with inspired Scripture that is able to make them wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) and then spiritually mature (vv. 16, 17)?

Fluff-and-feathers, touchy-feely sermons are about as effective for building lives as cotton balls are for constructing a high-rise office building. Expository preaching has become scarce, but it should be plentiful. The systematic teaching of Scripture in context with emphases on God’s character and appropriate life application beats gushy, pop-psychology preaching as a builder of strong Christians. It does so as handily as Tiger Woods with a full set of clubs beats weekend-warrior golfers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kids Ask the Hardest Questions

When some inquisitive kids in Children’s Church asked the director some profound questions, she instructed them to write them on a sheet of paper. She would pass the questions along to the pastor, she promised. So before the children leave this morning’s worship service to attend Children’s Church, I will answer the following questions: “How old is God?” “When did God begin?” and “What time was God born?”

My challenge is this: How can I explain “eternal” to a seven year old? Because God is eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27, He has no beginning or end. He has always existed, and always will exist. He created all things, and gives everlasting life to all who believe on His Son as Savior (John 3:16). Although we cannot wrap our minds around the meaning of “eternal,” we can accept by faith the fact that God is eternal.

Young children are abstract thinkers, so my answers about God’s birth and age will not fully satisfy the seven year old’s curiosity, but I hope he will know I appreciate his asking them. On the other hand, if my answers help in some small way, I may move on to answer another hard question (not asked in Children’s Church): Is sacerdotalism a threat or a contribution to ecumenism?