|November 23, 2011||Slipping Away||no comments|
|October 27, 2011||The Simple Things||no comments|
|October 19, 2011||Just Makes You Want to Dye||no comments|
|October 07, 2011||Speak Softly, Shine Brightly||no comments|
|September 23, 2011||Is it Just an Opinion?||no comments|
|September 23, 2011||Don’t Delay||no comments|
|September 16, 2011||The Delivering God||no comments|
|September 02, 2011||Junk Food||no comments|
|September 02, 2011||Is The Motor Missing?||no comments|
|September 02, 2011||What are you Wearing?||no comments|
By Shane Singleton
There is a story told of the great scientist, Isaac Newton, that is a great reminder that none of us is really as smart as we think we are...
On a Sunday afternoon ride, Newton decided to dismount his horse in order to more safely climb a hill. He took the horse’s bridle and began to walk him up the hill. The horse, having no desire to go up the hill, managed to slip his head from the bridle and go free.
However, Newton had no idea the horse had gotten loose and so, bridle in hand, continued his way up the hill. When he reached the top, Newton looked around at the wonderful view the high vantage point gave him. After taking it all in, he turned to remount his horse found that he stood at the top all alone.
Newton, with his scientist’s eyes had been taking in all of the scenery, busying his attention with this and that, and even though he got to the top of the hill, he’d lost his horse. And the thing is, this great scientist, this very intelligent man, wasn’t even aware of it until he found his need for the horse again.
How very like us as we go through this world. We busy our attention with this and that and the other thing. And we might even find that we have made our way to the top of the hill...but what did we lose along the way? What opportunity slipped from our grasp? And how easily did we let it go, not realizing what we had until need for it arose?
For some the tragedy is that what’s slipped from us is the opportunity of salvation -- we wait for a more convenient time. For others it is the heartbreak of leaving encouraging words unsaid to those we love and care for until there is no longer any time to express them. And for more still, there are opportunities unnamed and unknown, not realized until they’ve passed us by...or slipped from us.
What do we busy ourselves with that may blind us to our opportunities? What causes us to let them slip from our grasp? Is the top of the hill so important...are the distractions so great...they are worth losing opportunity? Today is filled with opportunity...for you...for me...for all...
Let’s not let them slip away.
By Shane Singleton
It is that beautiful time of year when all the leaves begin to turn and the roadsides become a rather nature-inspired fireworks show. The different trees with all the leaves turning different colors is really a comforting and awe-inspiring sight. But as we take the time to gaze at all the wonderful colors, let’s take the time to give a little consideration to something else...and maybe we will find a little comfort and awe in what we find there as well...
The consideration is when we look at those trees, the mighty oak for example, and we see those wide-spreading branches, and we remember the storms that tree has braved, we take the time to think. Where did this tree come from? Who planted it?
Imagine for a moment a little acorn, small enough to fit in the ‘paws’ of some unknown squirrel, dropped on that spot years and years before. Now, as time has rocked on, a giant tree has come forth with strength and beauty to be seen and shared with all around it. A simple act from the smallest hands with the ‘littlest’ seed -- and just look what happened.
As Christians, we go forth with what the Psalmist called ‘precious seed’ -- the seed of truth; the seed of kindness sown in the name of Jesus Christ. What could possibly be the outcome? It remains to be seen how an act of love and kindness on our part may blossom in the lives of others. And the eternal rewards for faithfully sowing echo through eternity...
Something as simple, and some might even say small, as offering a cup of cold water carries great reward. The reward of life abundant and the reward of life eternal. No hand is too small, no seed of love or kindness is too tiny, no act is to simple when it is done for the good of others and for the glory of the Lord!
Let’s seek to be fruitful for the mighty things come from the smallest acts.
By Shane Singleton
I heard recently this story of a woman with a particular hair color. We won’t specify, so we can all picture ourselves in the story. Plus, it cuts down the possibility of getting in trouble. She had become tired of all the ‘dumb’ jokes that were often told of people with her hair color, so she had her hairstylist cut it and color it. She then took her convertible out in the country for a drive taking the time to reflect on how smart her decision was and how no one would overlook her intelligence anymore.
As she drove through the countryside, she happened upon a sheep rancher guiding his sheep across the road. Those sheep are just so soft and cuddly, she thought, I want one. So she called out to the rancher and said, “If I can guess how many sheep you have, will you let me have one?”
The rancher thought a minute and said, “All right”. The lady stared intently at the little group and finally announced, “387”. The rancher was greatly surprised, but he was a man of his word and invited the lady to get out of her car and pick out her sheep. The lady looked the bunch over and then claimed her prize leading it back to her car.
As she was getting in the rancher called to her and said, “Ma’am, if I guess the true color of your hair, can I have my dog back?”
Some might think this little story a little critical of others, singling them out unfairly. Not really. All of us have done things that could rival this lady and her poor choice. See, the thing is everybody’s smart, but few people are truly wise. Smart-ness, if that’s even a word. See... is based on the knowledge that we have gained over a lifetime, but wisdom, that is being wise, is knowing how to use that knowledge.
It has nothing to do with hair color, brain power, good decisions or poor ones -- it has to do with using the wisdom you have to make the choices that need making. And what if, even with wisdom, we make a bad choice? We simply gain more wisdom, if we’re wise enough to learn from our mistakes.
None of us are as smart as we think we are, and none of us are as wise as we can become, but we must be willing to recognize where we are, where we’d like to be, and learn to be wise as we make our way there. Scripture says we may ask God for wisdom and He gives liberally. Let us then be smart enough to ask, and wise enough to use that wisdom to glorify Him. It’s the smartest, wisest choice we could make.
By Shane Singleton
There is a show that I’ve found that fits the old NBC slogan of “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you”. The show, which isn’t actually on NBC, is called ‘Aerial America’ and gives scenic views of all fifty states from the air. Each show showcases one state and all the high points, if you will pardon the pun, it contains. Lately, I’ve been watching the New England states and they are beautiful.
Now you may wonder why I’m telling you all of this. It’s because beautiful things inspire one to tell of what they’ve seen. And the most beautiful of all the breathtaking views, at least in New England, are the lighthouses. They fascinate the imagination not only in the way they look, but in how they work and in what they do.
When I see these lighthouses, I am reminded of Jesus’ descriptive term for His followers to be a light. A light that was to shine brightly before the eyes of the world so that they would see our good works and glorify God. That’s what the lighthouse does -- the good work of keeping the people in the midst of the dark and upon the rough seas safe and in that safety, they would praise the Lord.
Yet what we often do as Christians is remind others of the good work we are doing for them. Of all the things that we are doing for God. The light that shines forth from us becomes a spotlight on how great we are, or at least believe ourselves to be. And even that bright of a light is still overcome by the sound we make calling other’s attention to focus on us.
When we do this, and it is a common failing among us all, we are disregarding what Christ taught us to be -- a light that shines on our good works, but draws the attention to God. We do the good works so that God may be glorified, not us. Let us be aware of one of Satan’s great snares -- the pride of life -- that we don’t seek for ourselves the recognition that belongs to God.
Let us take to heart the sentence sermon of one of the great preachers of yesteryear, D.L. Moody, who said “Lighthouses blow no horns, they only shine the light”. Let us speak softly, but let us shine brightly -- our Lord is worth ‘seeing’.
By Shane Singleton
In the pages of baseball history, there is an umpire by the name of Babe Pinelli, who oddly enough umpired a game that featured the legendary Babe Ruth. The exchange between these two men is familiar to those die-hard baseball fans, and you know who you are. Their exchange is also a good spiritual reminder as well.
Ruth stepped to the plate and as the first pitch went by, Pinelli called a strike. Ruth seemed a little perturbed, and the crowd certainly began to murmur, but nothing was said. The second pitch brought about the second strike and now the crowd was murmuring and complaining. Ruth, was getting visibly angry. You probably know what happened next...
The chorus of boos and catcalls from the fans in the stands was almost deafening. How could the great Babe Ruth possibly be called out on strikes. They would not stand for it. Ruth who moments before had seemed angry now had a little smile on his lips. He turned to Pinelli, and with a bit of sarcasm said, “Pinelli, there is a stand filled with fans who know that wasn’t a strike.”
Pinelli eyed the crowd, and then he looked to Ruth, and simply replied “That may be so, but the only opinion that matters here is mine.”
It takes a lot to stand firm on your conviction. Especially when someone viewed as ‘greater’ than you holds a different opinion; especially when it seems the whole world holds a different opinion. How wonderful to see a man like Pinelli not bow to the whims of the crowd or the fame of a legend, but to the rules of the game. In that instant, the only opinion that mattered was his.
So it is with the Christian. For it to be a true conviction of Christian practice it must have its root in Scripture (‘the rules of the game’ so to speak). And when the conviction is spoken or practiced, there will be boos and catcalls from the world; there will be those of ‘higher stature’ (given them by the world remember) that will snidely disagree. When those moments come up, think of Pinelli...better yet, remember Christ...and know the only opinion that truly matters is His -- not only what He thinks of them, but what He thinks of you.
Every soul desires recognition and applause, but what it comes down to is whose applause you desire most--man’s or God’s? Conviction brings the applause of Heaven. Convenience brings the applause of men. Whose opinion matters most to you? And on whose opinion do you stand, serve, and live?
Published in the September 14, 2011 edition of the Reformer
By Shane Singleton
There is a very subtle root to bad habits and how they take hold of a person. We pick up on these things in our youth, and by the time we ‘season’, these habits have become part of not only what we do, but who we are. Consider the bad habit of always running late (I must confess it is a habit I hold myself)...in most cases it doesn’t seem like much but brief delay; but like most bad habits that don’t seem like much, it holds a great danger.
There once was a young man who as a youth was allowed all that he wished to do, including running late. For every meal, he was the last to eat because he was the last to come in. Any appointment with him must include a fifteen to twenty minute delay if he even met with you at all. He ran so far behind, he could possibly meet himself coming the other way.
In his twilight years, he had an attendant to help him see to his needs. He always begged for company and was told he could go and visit anyone he wished at any time. But that habit of delay had become so ingrained that he would spend his day in preparation and very little of that time in progress. Loneliness began to set in, yet he could not break his habit of delay, becoming more involved in the preparations than in the progress every time.
It could be so with us, for as we say, the root of bad habits, especially delay are very subtle. We don’t have the time we believe we do, and yet there is so much we wish to accomplish -- we spend all our time getting ready rather than getting gone. How sad that loneliness sets in as delay steps between friends and family, but sadder still when it steps between a soul and the Savior.
“I’ve got time to tend to my soul later” is often heard “I’ll come when I’m ready”, meaning when I’m too old to do any more wild-oat sowing. But delay can become denial and eventually... Well, none of us have the time we think we do. Preparation is an important part of Christian living, and church is an important part of that -- God calls His people to His house...but we will leave that to another time -- but if we make no progress, if we delay, what we miss is far greater than what caused us to miss it.
Today is the day of salvation, Paul wrote, now is the accepted time. Why would any soul delay when it’s delay leads to death? Habit. The enjoyment over preparation rather than the employment of progress. And the fact we believe there will always be a later.
The Savior bids to all “Come” -- let none of us delay.
Published in the September 7, 2011 Reformer
By Shane Singleton
It seems to me that we rarely hear stories of faithful Christian workers anymore. There is such a great wealth of encouragement and inspiration to be found in those stories. Consider the Scottish missionary of the late 19th century, John Paton.
Paton served in the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific with his wife. One night, hostile natives sought to burn down the mission station in which the Patons lived and to see them killed in the fire. When the danger became real and recognized, Paton and his wife begin to pray inside the station. They cried out to God for deliverance. The natives threatened through the night; the Patons prayed through the night...
And following that terror-filled and horrible night -- daybreak came...
As the sun arose, the Patons saw the natives simply...leave!
A year later, the tribal chieftain of the natives made a profession of faith in Christ. As the chief and Paton stood together, Paton could not help but remember that horrible night months before. He asked the chieftain why the tribe had decided to simply walk away. The chief readily replied, “All those men with you.”
Other than Paton and his wife, there had been no other people at the mission station. A puzzled Paton shared that fact with the chief. Yet the chief stood firm in his recollection of the evening. “All those men with you. Hundreds of men dressed in shining garments and swords drawn. They surrounded the station and we were afraid to attack.”
What surrounds you today? What troubling situation or circumstance? What hurt or heartbreak? The same God that delivered the Patons, surrounding them with His army of grace, will deliver you. What do you seek from God today to meet the need of your soul?
By Shane Singleton
Have you ever been really hungry? Or really thirsty? I remember some time back when I had a truck route and would be in the middle of nowhere and my throat would get all dry and my stomach would rumble. Then, in the distance, there would be some quick-stop convenience store where I’d get a Coke and some chips and/or a Little Debbie cake, usually. The day immediately improved because the hunger and the thirst was gone; even though what I had eaten isn’t considered the healthiest of foods, I was fed.
Now if we switched gears to being spiritually hungry or spiritually thirsty -- how hungry for holiness are you? How thirsty for righteousness? Jesus promised those that had such cravings that they would be filled. Yet when it comes to a hunger for God, we seem to be weakly motivated. We feed ourselves on worldly things that leave us full but not satisfied. Junk food gives a full stomach with empty nourishment. Why do we not crave the good things of God when we hunger and thirst; the way we crave to find things to satisfy our physical hunger and thirst? The weakness is not because God doesn’t taste good -- as a matter of fact, Scripture calls us to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’.
If we are hungry and thirsty for the good things of God -- what is our prayer life like? How often do we practice soul-winning? What spiritual discipline do we make use of to draw close to God? Do we make the reality of God’s presence something we live in every moment of the day? Does the hearing of God’s Word soothe our conscience or change our life? When we begin to honestly and humbly answer these questions we will begin to see that our weakness in hungering after God is not because He is unsavory, it’s because we stuff ourselves with other things -- junk food!
In considering the receiving of not only God’s blessings, but also God Himself, ask yourself -- with what am I satisfying the hunger of my soul, the strengthening of my heart, the growth of my spirit? Taste and see that the Lord is good...and be filled with the good things of God.
Published in the August 24, 2011 Reformer
By Shane Singleton
There are many dark and mysterious reasons why an automobile will stop running. Some of these problems turn out to be quite simple; others bring about costly repair, unless you are among those talented enough to be ‘do-it-yourself’ guys, of which I am not. But what if the reason was something you never imagined possible?
The cars of this day and age have little lights and voices everywhere to alert you to possible dangers. These so-called ‘idiot lights’ and, yes, that is an unfortunate name, warn against everything from the door not being completely closed and the fuel supply running low to emission sensors and other complicated, at least to me, things. But again what if there was a problem so unexpected no ‘idiot light’ could give warning?
Automobiles of every make and model have their usual problems to be sure. But regardless of your preference, none of them will make any progress if the engine is gone. Who would imagine such a thing happening? How could a light be made ready to warn of that problem? And ‘check engine’ doesn’t count--that means something else. But it can happen... There was a news story not too long ago of a man in Glasgow, Kentucky, who found that his car wouldn’t run and after going through the mental checklist all of us would go through in similar circumstances, he lifted his hood to find his engine was gone.
The reason I bring this to your attention is this...with no power-provider, there will be no progress. This is true in cars and trucks, but it is also true in churches, in families, and in souls. There will never be the progress we could make nor the ‘running well’ that could be if there is no engine driving such possibilities. But we are given a blessed opportunity -- could there be a more powerful provider than the Holy Spirit of God? And such was promised to them that believe...and in His power progress unimaginable can be obtained. Just think the gospel of Christ has gone around the world through the power of the Spirit (fulfilling the command of Acts 1:8). Yes, there are still souls to reach, but look at the progress already made.
A church can only grow if under the leadership of the Spirit.
A family can only strengthen if under the leadership of the Spirit.
A soul can only mature if under the leadership of the Spirit.
Everybody wants progress, to grow stronger, to move further, to go higher -- and the possibility and privilege is there in the Spirit. So if these things seem to be absent in our lives, we need only examine one thing...
We need to see if the Motor is missing.
Published in the August 17, 2011 Reformer
By Shane Singleton
Grace is a needful thing to the lofty as well as the lowly. We are all familiar with the people of Scripture from so-called low stations in life receiving the grace of God, and in that grace going on to do great things for the Lord, but do you know of King Jehoiachin who also received much needed grace?
Briefly, the history of King Jehoiachin. He was one of Judah’s worst kings and eventually his nation was invaded by Babylon, a judgment from God. Jehoiachin was taken captive and placed in a Babylonian prison for 37 years. But then, there came an offer of grace...
Many things about Jehoiachin’s life changed that day, but the most evident, and there is always an evident change in those who have received grace, was that he changed his clothes. That might not seem like much, but consider this -- when you see someone in an orange jumpsuit or those green and white striped pants, what do you immediately identify them as?
Whenever I see those clothes, especially the pants, I’m reminded of Mrs. Ginny and me running an errand when we served at the Children’s Home. The food pantry in Jackson was staffed by prison trustees and when the little girl who was about 12, that we took with us on this errand saw those pants, she said, “Oooh, where’d you get those pants?” The lady kindly replied, “Darling, you don’t won’t to wear these pants.” And she was right, of course, who wants to wear clothing that daily reminds of guilt, shame, defeat, and sin?
No wonder the first thing that Jehoiachin did when offered grace from the king was to change his clothes. Have you changed yours? The Bible tells us that we have all lived in the prison of sin, and that the offer of grace has been extended to all as well -- but only those in possession of that grace, that is those that trust that God’s offer and exercise their faith to receive it, have been set free. And have the liberty given by Royal Authority to exchange prison clothes for garments of beauty.
Our prison clothes may not be as visible as the orange jumpsuits or striped pants, but if God’s grace is absent from our lives, we are wearing them just the same -- carrying the guilt, shame, defeat and sin that God offers to free us from. Consider your clothing today -- see if the clothes of your soul are those of the prisoner or the robe of righteousness given to those accepted as children of the King because they accepted the King’s grace...
Simply stated, what are you wearing?