Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Look at our new web page for discipleship

Take a look at the new web page I am hosting. It is called "Discipleship.chccsa.com" and is a page linked to our church web site intended for growing Christians and populated with articles growing Christians might want to read. This is a part of our new discipleship emphasis which we will unveil soon at Castle Hills Christian Church.
Here is the link for the site: http://chccsa.com/discipleship/

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Four Trees: Ed's Gospel Account

Four Trees: Ed’s Gospel Account

The Tree of Life: God’s Original Intent: Genesis 1-2

The only way for a human being to know anything about God is for Him to reveal himself in some way. Fortunately for us, God has chosen to do that very thing. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and his plan for mankind. The Bible lets us know that God is love, and that he is all about having a close relationship with his creation. Genesis, the first book of the Bible tells about God’s creation of the world and the first humans he placed within a beautiful garden called Eden. Everything needed for human life was within that garden, and God himself, would enter the garden and speak to the two humans, Adam and Eve, every day in the cool of the evening. There was unbroken fellowship between God and mankind, and God directly provided all that was needed.

Within the garden, God planted two special trees. The first was called the “Tree of Life,” and as long as Adam and Eve remained in fellowship with God they could eat freely of this tree and live forever in fellowship with God. But God also planted another tree in the garden and called it the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” God told Adam and Eve that whenever they ate of that tree they would die. No doubt, you may wonder why God would bother to put the second tree in the garden. He had a good reason for putting it there, which will be revealed soon. Meanwhile, life in the garden was perfect in every way. God provided all that was needed, and the humans enjoyed every advantage that came with unbroken connection to God, their creator and sustainer.

The Tree of Testing: Mankind’s separation from God: Genesis 3

A new character enters the picture at this point. Satan, in the form of a serpent, arrives to put the human couple to the test. Though we may be tempted to blame everything that is about to happen on this evil intruder, we need to realize that God allowed his presence in the garden and was aware of what he would soon do. The serpent was nothing more than a catalyst to bring to light what was already stirring within the hearts of the humans, and the tree of knowledge was actually a tree of testing.

You see, God created free moral agents when he created the humans. They had the power to obey or disobey God as they might choose. Providing the second tree was God’s way to allow mankind the freedom to use the power of choice to either stay connected with God willingly, or to separate themselves from God and go their own way. In eating the fruit of the second tree, they chose the path of separation from God. The testing tree allowed the humans to taste disobedience for themselves so that they could literally know the difference between good and evil by experience.

Because they chose this way of willful disobedience certain things changed for them immediately. God removed them from Eden so that they would not be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in a state of separation from fellowship with God. God cursed the earth introducing pain, hard labor, decay, sickness and death. All of this sounds cruel on God’s part, but there was a hidden mercy even in the curse. As for the humans, though they didn’t die immediately, they were now living in a cursed world, with bodies that would eventually succumb to disease and death. But the real principle of death now at work was the principle of spiritual death and separation from God. This was their new spiritual condition due to disobedience and separation from God:

  • They were now slaves to sin because disobedience ruled their hearts (Romans 6)
  • They were married to the law which continually condemned them (Romans 7)
  • Their minds were continually dwelling on the flesh (Romans 8)
  • Their spirits which would normally allow communion with God were dead (Romans 8)
  • They were in a hopeless situation because of sin and separation from God (Ephesians 2:12)

The Tree of suffering: God’s provision for man’s plight: John 1:1-18

From the very moment of mankind’s fall, God was busy working out a plan for mankind’s redemption and restoration. When God found Adam and Eve naked, he killed an animal and provided them with proper coverings even though they had tried on their own to cover their nakedness with fig leaves (an example of man’s puny religious attempts to cover his own shame). In this action God began a system of blood sacrifices to atone for sin. Already, God was working to reconnect man back to himself, but he had an ultimate plan in mind to take care of sin once and for all.

From the moment of Man’s fall, God began to reveal his plan to redeem mankind back to himself (Genesis 3:15). At just the right time in history God put on flesh, entered into time and space as a human baby, and lived a perfect life, thereby enabling himself to become a perfect and final sacrifice for sin. John’s gospel tells us about the life of the extraordinary man named Jesus, from a town called Nazareth in a region called Galilee. He was the one the Jews were looking for whom they called “Messiah” and Christians later called “Christ”. His entire life is worth careful study, but the greatest thing he did for mankind involves the third tree. This tree didn’t look anything like a tree, but it came from chopping down a tree to fashion a instrument of torture and death the Romans called a cross. Jesus was condemned to death by the cruel actions of godless men who, in a frenzy, shouted out “Crucify Him!” Jesus had done nothing worthy of death, but he was killed anyway. This would all seem pointless if it weren’t for the fact that God had planned this as his method of redeeming the world. He literally became his own blood sacrifice to atone once and for all for every sin mankind would ever commit.

We know from ancient prophecies in the Old Testament that dying by crucifixion was always God’s plan to redeem mankind. Passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 which were written between 700 to 950 years before the events of Christ’s death on the cross are examples to show us this was always God’s plan for redemption.

So what did Jesus death on the cross do for us? Jesus took on a curse for us so we could be blessed through him. Galatians 3:13 says, “13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (KJV)” Notice, in that passage, the cross on which Jesus died is called a tree, and it was a tree with a special curse placed upon who ever would die upon it. In taking a curse upon himself, Jesus represented every sin that could ever keep you or myself out of heaven. Though the whole experience was painful and shameful for Jesus, he willingly endured it all so that salvation could be made available to every human who sought to come back to a relationship with God (like Adam and Eve enjoyed in the beginning.)

So how does a person take advantage of what Christ did on the cross to redeem all mankind back to God? We simply receive salvation from God as a free gift by putting our faith in Jesus as our savior. What Jesus did on the cross was done in our behalf, so we simply acknowledge it and claim it for ourselves. If I believe that what Jesus did was done for me, then with my mouth, I confess the gift of salvation to be mine because I take Jesus to be my personal savior. In doing this I am also confessing that I know I am a sinner in desperate need of a savior, and I repent (turn away) from all the sins that used to control my life, and I submit to baptism as a testimony of my submission to and connection with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In my baptism, I declare that I have died with Christ, and therefore, know that my new condition as a born-again Christian is as follows:

  • With Christ I have died to Adam’s race and am now a child of God (Romans 5)
  • With Christ I have died to slavery to sin and am now a servant of Christ (Romans 6)
  • With Christ I have died to marriage to the law that condemned me and I am now part of the bride of Christ (Romans 7)
  • With Christ I am now able to have my mind focused, not on the flesh, but on the Spirit which is life and peace (Romans 8) because God has enlivened my spirit and placed His Holy Spirit within it.
  • With Christ I am no longer hopeless because I have the blessed hope (Christ himself) as my inner treasure. (2 Corinthians 4:7, Titus 2:13)

The Tree of Life restored: Revelation 22:2

There is a fourth tree mentioned in the Bible. This tree is the same tree we saw once before in Genesis. The tree is called the “Tree of Life” and we notice that what was denied to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, is prominently displayed in heaven. Notice the words of Revelation 22:2, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. I admit that I am baffled as to how the one “tree of life” can be on “each side of the river,” But I am looking forward to eating a different crop of fruit each month from that tree which will be available to everyone living in the heavenly city. Notice that what was lost in Eden will be fully restored and then some in the heavenly city. Surely, you must want what is promised here to be available to you and those you love. By receiving Christ as your Savior and Lord you can enjoy the bounty of that fourth tree (which was actually the first tree), and you can erase the curse of the second tree by connecting with the man who hung on the third tree. Please don’t let this remain unfinished business in your life. Receive the gift of salvation today through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Simpleton Diet

I have come up with my own diet which seems to be working at the moment. I call it the "Simpleton Diet" because it is so simple any simpleton can figure it out. There is one rule to the simpleton diet: Eat one item per meal. What do I mean by that? I mean, "Eat one item per meal." Most people eat several items per meal. For example, the average restaurant meal has a main dish usually containing meat, and one or two side items (veggies, fries, etc.) My diet involves eating one thing per meal. Today I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (one item). Then for lunch went to a Greek restaurant and ordered a Gyro. It came with fries or chips on the order so I chose chips and took them home rather than eat them. Susan brought home Pizza for supper and I had a piece. Get it? One item.
So what is the idea of eating one item? Simple. Eating one Item is less food than eating a plate of food. The problem with the American diet is that we usually eat too much food. I read that the average American eats over 100 lbs of sugar a year and about 65 lbs of fat per year. No wonder we are diabetic and stuffed with cellulite. So the answer is to eat less food. What about nutrition, vitamins, minerals, etc.? Eat a variety of items per day. Like everyone else, I am an omnivore so I don't eat the same thing throughout the day. I learned a version of this diet years ago when I learned about the Weighdown Workshop (Gwen Shamblin). She advised eating only when truly hungry. Unfortunately, for me, that was all the time. But she taught the wisdom of eating smaller portions and sticking only to what you truly like to eat and avoiding the rest. She warned that we had been improperly taught by parents to clean our plates. We were wiser if we left food on the plate and forget the parental rebuke about the starving kids in Africa. Since I generally eat what ever is set before me, the trick is to see to it that less is set before me.
I believe that most of the time, one item is enough. If I get hungry ("true body hunger" as Gwen called it) I can eat a piece of fruit or a few nuts. Anyway, I'm gonna give it a whirl. Being something of a simpleton myself, I must have a diet program that is a no brainer. So far, I'm about 9 lbs. lighter. I'll keep you posted about my progress if you need to know. Let me know if you decide to join me in my simpleton ways. Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We get what we pray for

In his message Sunday, my co-pastor, Ronnie Morgan mentioned a prayer Campus minister, Roy Weece would pray daily. Though I don't remember the exact wording, it was something like this. "Lord, bring three people my way today with whom I can share the love of Jesus."
The very next day He shared with me a story about a guy at the fitness center who spoke to him and told him about a doctor's report he had gotten telling him he had prostate cancer. Ronnie was able to speak comfort and encouragement to him right there and then.
I'd like to try out that prayer, but I'd be happy with just one person per day, at least to start with. (baby steps?)
I think so often we miss out on ministry opportunities because we have conditioned ourselves not to expect them. Therefore, they seldom happen. Perhaps if we changed what we expect; what we pray for, then we would see a change in the happenings of our daily experience. As for me, I'm all up for adventure, God-incidences, fortuity, God-winks, serendipity, blessing, happenstance. What ever you call it; bring it on!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My new book is now for sale!

The front cover of my new book

My new book is now officially for sale on Lulu.com. If you want to find it, log into Lulu.com and do a search for the title: A Place at my Father's Table. The paperback book is available on Lulu for $12.97 plus postage, or as a down-loadable e-book for $5.95. In about two weeks I will also have books available myself at a discounted price. You can contact me at edskidmore@sbcglobal.net if you want to order through me starting about the 5th of August.
This is a devotional book with 89 devotions in it that started out as articles in the Communicator News Letter starting back in 1985 through this year with articles on this blog. What I've worked on ever since the start of the year is now available for general distribution through Lulu.com and will eventually be available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon in about 2 months. Why not check it out on Lulu now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Necessary tools for writing

I am in the process of getting a book ready to be published and have been focused on it to the exclusion of other things (like this blog for the past month or so). At the same time, I have also started working on another book I would like to publish sometime next year. Attempting to carve out time, energy, and inspiration to work in the next book has taught me some lessons. I have noticed three powerful barriers to getting that task done.
The first and more obvious barrier is that of finding time available to focus on writing. I have walked into my office intending to give a block of time to the writing task only to have a half dozen other things come to my mind that need to be tended to. My desire to write gets buried under an avalanche of expediencies. Thinking that my office is the proper place to do this work because my books are there along with my other completed sermons and lessons from which to draw material, I discover that my office is one big cubicle of undone tasks begging for my attention. Well, I can fix that. I'll just go home and write there; but distractions abound there as well. Along that line, I find that I need a size-able block of hours to be able to focus and get a few pages put on paper. I just can't cram this kind of work into little half hour snippets because, for me, there is a need for revving up, so to speak, to get a flow to my writing. Interruptions put me into neutral, and I have to start over in first gear. Along with the time element is another equally weighty issue to writing.
The energy element cannot be ignored. Sometimes I am just too tired to write. When this becomes my condition, I am just as likely to snooze off as to get words on the screen. I know that some people get up at the early hours before phones ring and people are running around demanding things. I wish I was one of those who needed minuscule amounts of sleep. Unfortunately, I am on the other end of the sleep spectrum. Anything less than 7 hours of sleep per night, and I am a zombie the next morning. Thinking I would write today, I awoke at 6 a.m., closed my eyes to rest just a minute, then opened them again at 8. Oh boy! Afternoon hours are sometimes unproductive for the same reason. The after lunch malaise sets in and my brain gets foggy. If I try to read then, I may just read the same sentence over and over again.... for a half hour. I have to time writing when I have the energy to get things done with a clear head, and the ability to focus. By the way, am I the only one finding it increasingly difficult to focus in this advancing period of my life? ... Let's see, where was I?
The final element needed for writing is what some call "the muse" and we religious types call "unction" While sometimes I am too drained of energy to write, other times I have an empty head. I am ready to write but nothing comes to mind. The inspiration just isn't there. I guess that's what some call "writer's block". I've noticed that in the arena of ideas I simply must get beyond my own brain to find edifying content for my writing. That means research, which is what you call it when you steal ideas from more than one source; otherwise it would be plagiarism. I have also learned that by means of daily contact with the Holy Spirit who resides in my own spirit, I am given insights and gleanings to make me a slightly more mature believer with each passing day. I am reminded of 2 Cor. 3:18, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." By means of that connection, I not only grow towards maturity, but I have more inside my mind to communicate through speaking or writing.
So there it is: time, energy, and inspiration; the big three when it comes to transferring thoughts from cranium to paper or computer screen. I am hoping that today will be one of those days when all three will be present. Just a literary thought.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Place at my Father's Table

A Place at My Father’s Table

The shepherd’s psalm has been the most memorized and most beloved poetry in the Bible because of the rich metaphor we find there. Being a lover of food myself, I appreciate anything to do with eating. Therefore, I am drawn to the words, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (vs. 5, NIV) I am able to eat in peace even though a wolf, or bear, or lion may be in the vicinity because the shepherd is watchful. This particular phrase is a mixed metaphor because we know that sheep don’t eat from tables. But humans can appreciate the fact that a place at the table has been reserved for them. For us, the one in charge is more than a shepherd. He is the one who has adopted us into his heavenly family.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16, NIV)

Thinking back to childhood days, I have fond memories of meals with the extended family, but at those larger gatherings with cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents, I was often relegated to the children’s table with the younger cousins. Therefore I missed out on the conversation enjoyed by the adults at the main table. Thankfully, the table at home was just the right size so that I could sit at the same table with my parents and enjoy the status of a full-fledged member of the family. In fact, I remember that generally my father would fix a hot breakfast for me, and he and I would eat together at the table. Though I don’t remember our conversations, I consider that to have been a high point in my day. More recently, I enjoyed role reversal when my daughter’s family lived with us for a while. My one year old grandson would get up and share breakfast with me. Though he could barely talk, we had such pleasant times at the table sharing a hot breakfast together. (He had a fondness for bacon.)

There is something powerful about time spent together at the table. Therefore, I am grateful to know that my Father’s table has a place set exclusively for me, and I am able to dine there regularly at the Father’s invitation.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My daughter, Kaysha, needed a poem about igloos so she could teach Lydia phonics, so Susan and I came up with this limerick about igloos. Here it is.

There once was in igloo in Nome,
that thought it was merely a dome,
while the outside was "frozey";
the inside was cozy,
so an Inuit made it his home.

(by Grammy and Papa Ed.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

" A little bird I am"

Bird in a cage

I read this fascinating poem by Madam Guyon and thought I would include it here for your edification: It's called "A little bird I am"

A little bird I am, Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing to Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be, because, my God, it pleases thee.

Naught have I else to do; I sing the whole day long;
And He, whom most I love to please, Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound me wandering wing, But still he bends to hear me sing.

Thou hast an ear to hear; A heart to love and bless;
And though my notes were e'er so rude, Thou wouldst not hear the less;
Because though knowest as they fall, That Love, sweet Love, inspires them all.

My cage confines me round, Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound, my heart's at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control the flight, the freedom of the soul.

Oh! it is good to soar, these bolts and bars above,
To him whose purpose I adore, Whose Providence I love;
And in the mighty will to find the joy, the freedom of the mind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deuteronomy: Moses' Swan Song

I'm reading through the Bible in one year using a Bible reading plan provided by a Logos Bible App. on my I-phone. This plan goes from Genesis through Revelation in a year involving an average of two or three chapters per day. Right now I am in Deuteronomy about to read chapter 14. I've read through the Bible before, but I guess it's been long enough since the last reading, that all of it seems fresh and new to me. I'm also using a new version I've not read before (The English Standard Version).
Deuteronomy surprised me. I assumed it was just a continuation of the various laws, or a recounting of later history in the period of wilderness wandering. Though it does contain history and various laws, this is actually Moses Swan-song. These were Moses' final words to the people he had been leading for 40 years. In it, he prepares his people for what they will face when Joshua and Caleb lead them into the promised land. Since neither he, nor Aaron will be able to make this transition from wandering to conquering, Moses retells the highlights (and lowlights) of the departure from Egypt and the wilderness wanderings. He actually mentions each place they camped by name and in correct chronological order. Further, he prepares the minds and hearts of the people for the change of leadership mantle, reminds them of the blessings that will come with obedience and devotion to God and the possible curses if they turn away to the detestable gods of the Canaanites. Finally, Moses sang a song to his nation (Deut. 32), blessed them, and climbed into Mount Nebo from which he would be able to view the promised land. And there he died.
All of this caused me to wonder, If I had a chance to say final words to my people, what would I choose to say to them. I'm not yet at the time for saying final words (thankfully), but having just passed the 25 year milestone with the church I now serve, I can't help but wonder how many more milestones I will be privileged to pass. Deuteronomy strikes me as a more powerful book as I realize that Moses was allowed to finish up an amazing ministry and spiritual journey spanning 120 years. And consider the fact that Moses took up his greatest work at a time in his life when most other people were getting their gold watches, and taking to their rocking chairs. Though it would be easy to focus on Moses failures and shortcomings, I would rather focus on the fact that his relationship with God was such that he was able to speak face to face with the Almighty as one speaks with his friend. No other pastor has ever served such a large congregation for such a long time. The fact that Moses never entered the promised land does not diminish his stature in my estimation. It is more than enough to consider that he led Israel out of slavery, gave them the law, put up with their foolishness, and pastored them for 40 years. Moses is a paragon of heroism, a master of historic writing, and a model of spiritual development. Deuteronomy should be read with that in mind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Law was our Schoolmaster

Moses with the Law

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24, KJV). It is interesting to discover that God instituted the Levitical law for the purpose of walking us to the feet of Christ. It was never intended to be an eternal covenant by the simple fact that it was a conditional (if-then) covenant. Any covenant with conditions can be nullified by the person who breaks the terms of the covenant. And as Bible history clearly shows, the Jewish nation broke the terms of the covenant repeatedly.
But, as Paul explains in Galatians, the law was given for the purpose of showing wayward people their need for something better than the law. It was God's plan to provide grace as a gift at just the right time through his one and only Son and his finished work on the cross. In fact, I love Paul's words in Colossians concerning the written code of the law when he wrote in Colossians 2:14 (NIV) having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. We see then, that the law served the same function as the household slave who walks the children to school and deposits them into the presence of the teacher. That is what a "pedagogos" was; not the teacher himself, but merely, the slave who took the children to the place where they could be taught. The Levitical law walked us wayward children into the presence of Christ by revealing to us that we were ill equipped to keep the law in and of ourselves. In fact, attempting to keep the law was never anything other than an effort in futility. But until we tried and failed, we didn't realize how badly we were in need of imparted grace and imputed righteousness that only Christ could give. Praise God! The schoolmaster has finished its work. It has walked us up to the foot of the cross and deposited us at the feet of the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. The master has come, so the slave is no longer needed. Now we are justified by faith apart from the law!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Foolish and Harmful Traditions

Maasai girl standing in the door of her family hut

I received an a-mail today from a friend in ministry who has served in missionary work among tribal people in Africa. He was back among the people he had ministered to for about two decades finishing up a Bible translation project and working with a long term native ministry partner. He mentioned in his e-mail that he had just finished preaching the "most embarrassing sermon" he had ever preached to these tribal people concerning a topic he had avoided for all his years on the field. His tribal friend had begged him to preach to his people about female circumcision after his own daughter was taken against his will and secretly circumcised without his permission. This practice, normally carried out largely in Muslim circles all over Africa and the middle east, would be considered child abuse if it were practiced here. I won't get into the details of this in this blog, but you can Google it if you want more information. My friend concluded his e-mail with these words, "It may be a while before the subject is fully worked out among the people here. Maybe a generation, maybe this generation. Pray for God to give us all wisdom."
I wrote back to the brother who sent the e-mail to encourage him for dealing with such a difficult task. I had observed the same issue while visiting missionaries in Kenya who were working among Maasai tribals in the Mara area of west Kenya. Along with female circumcision, they also had another similar issue regarding a common practice of removing the two bottom teeth of Maasai children. Back when that practice started, removal of the two middle bottom teeth allowed a straw to be inserted into the mouth of a person suffering with lock-jaw so they could get nourishment in spite of the disease. But no one has suffered lock-jaw there for nearly a century. Still the practice persists today, and children are taken, without warning, and a spoon is inserted between the bottom teeth, and the two teeth are literally scooped out without anesthetic by a man in the tribe who has become proficient at the primitive tooth extraction method. It amounts to child abuse in my mind, but looking at Maasai tribals, evidently all of them have gone through the procedure.
I mentioned to my friend that both female circumcision and lower tooth removal amount to tribally approved forms of child abuse. It may be seen as appropriate by change-averse tribal
people, but it is a poor exhibition of what Christ can do to change inappropriate behaviors. I call to mind the oriental practice of foot-binding that is no longer endured by girls. Even non-Christians can eventually catch on as to what is harmful and unloving practice to foist on children in the name of tradition. I applaud my friend for bringing it up, uncomfortable though it may have been. Female circumcision is a middle-eastern (Muslim) abomination. The sooner it is stopped the better. It took William Wilberforce a lifetime to abolish slavery in the UK, but it was worth all the effort and time on his part. Girls and women in Africa and the Middle-East will thank those who speak up against such barbaric practices in the years to come. We must not be embarrassed to speak out for the innocent ones subjected to foolish practices in the name of tradition.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"All Ear"


"A missionary translator was endeavoring to find a word for "obedience " in the native language. This was a virtue seldom practiced among the people into whose language he wanted to translate the New Testament. As he returned home from the village one day, he whistled for his dog and it came running at full speed. An old native, seeing this, said admiringly in the native tongue, "Your dog is all ear." Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for obedience.' (-Paul Lee Tan)

The quality of steadfast obedience is a precious and rare commodity these days. Those in the medical profession have complained that, next to the patient who does not pay his bill, the most annoying patient is the one who refuses to follow orders. In a survey taken of doctors, they have estimated that between 16 to 90% of all patients leave half-empty pill bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups despite careful prescriptions and cautious advice.

The writer of Psalm 119 had this to say about obedience:(vs.1-6) Blessed are they whose way's are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways . You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

This text has some tall orders: "precepts that are to be fully obeyed", "steadfastness in obeying your decrees". Could it be that God really expects that level of obedience from his children? From Old Testament history we discover that Israel made costly mistakes every time they assumed that they could trifle with God's laws.

While we may be human and subject to error, I believe that we often hide behind our humanity as an excuse for callously disregarding God's precepts altogether. Like the wayward patients mentioned above, we presume to know more than the experts we pay to take care of us and advise us on our physical health. Spiritually, we presume to "interpret" God's laws to suit our predispositions, then we wonder why we are put to shame as we consider God's precepts.

When God's laws seem impractical in relation to your life style, the problem does not lie in the laws, but in your attitude towards obeying them. In most cases God's precepts have not been tried and found wanting, they have been found disagreeable to our undisciplined ways and not tried at all.

Like the missionary's dog, we need to learn to come-a-'runnin full tilt when we hear the master's whistle. We are promised to be blessed when we develop a heart to keep the Lord's statutes and seek him with all our heart. May we then seek to develop a STEADFAST OBEDIENCE so we can be "all ear" when the master calls.

(This article from the Castle Hills Christian Church "Communicator" which I wrote, is included in a new Devotional book I am writing and will be out soon.)