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Little Visits with God

  This title is plagiarized from a wonderful children's devotional by the same name. This book and its sequel, More Little Visits with God, has been a blessing to all five of us for many years.
Like the original, Chapter 4 is a list of encounters with Jesus. Sometimes it's an incident that has a special message. Sometimes it's a thought that Jesus plants in our heads at an appropriate moment.
The unnumbered entries that follow are the new entries that have arrived since the last revision of this site. The originals follow after that.
Why, Lord?
Are you confused over how an all-loving, omnipotent, and omnicient God could possibly allow the tragic events of 9/11/01? Click here to read entries 3 and 4. I certainly do not claim to have the mind of God, but perhaps what you read there might provide a small measure of insight.
U be the Pastor (Part I)
The pastor was in his study preparing for the next Sunday's service when a young man knocked on his door. He was a new Christian and he requested a few minutes of the Pastor's time to help him resolve a personal problem.
"Well, I'll get right to the point. I am living with two different women. I have children by both of them. Now that I'm a Christian, I want to know what God wants me to do about my family situation."
"Now let me get this right. You're living with two other women together under the same roof with children that you fathered by both of them?"
"Then both women obviously must know about the other?"
He nodded.
"Are you married to either of them?"
"Is either woman married to another?"
He shook his head.
"And are both women satisfied with this living arrangement?"
"They say that they are."
"Well, your relationship with these women is called fornication, which is a sin for which Jesus died. God plainly states that you are to be married faithfully to one woman, and not living sinfully with two."
"But what specifically does God want me to do to correct this situation?"
"You must leave one and marry the other."
"Which one do I marry?"
"But I love both of them. How do I choose?"
"That's up to you."
"But that a very hard decision. It's like asking a parent to decide between two children. After all, God didn't force David to choose between Bath-sheba and Abigail; He didn't force Jacob to choose between Rachel and Leah and all their hand maidens; He didn't force Solomon to choose one of his 900 wives and concubines." His voice was becoming sadly desperate.
"While that is true, we are living in a different society, as well as a different testament. The laws of the state do not allow you to marry both women. Even if they did, two wives confuses God's marriage plan of "one flesh" as described in Ephesians."
"But I can't choose between them. Even if I could, I still couldn't"
"Please explain."
"They're identical twin sisters. I started dating one of them when I was 18. I didn't know that Laura even had a twin when we first met. Sometimes, Lisa would secretly go out with me and I couldn't tell the difference. I was falling in love with two women and I didn't even know it. When I was alternately dating them unknowingly, I never knew because they communicated between themselves so thoroughly. "
"So they conspired to deceive you?"
"Well, yes. But try to understand that they have been very close their entire lives, not just in appearance, but emotionally, as well. Throughout childhood and adolescence, they shared everything. Even today, they do things together as much as possible. If one has to walk the kids while the other has to make phone calls, they have to share their complete experience while apart when they are together again. I don't think that there is anything that is known by one of them that the other does not know.
"As they moved through their teenage years, they gradually realized that marriage, at least in the conventional sense, would destroy the unity that they both had meticulously created and zealously protected. So they came up with this plan.
"When they finally admitted the deception, I was hopelessly in love with one of them, but I couldn't tell who. Even today, I don't use the names, Laura and Lisa, at least not individually, because I honestly don't know who is who. When I ask them, they won't tell me. In fact, they may not even remember. Instead, I call both of them Laura, because they are a single person, with a single spirit, that is shared between two human souls."
The pastor had a facial expression of total wonder. "Unfortunately, the laws that relate to marriage pertain to tangible human beings, and not spirits."
"But what if you were a missionary in a primitive mission field overseas and I was a tribal chief who had many wives. If I became a Christian, what would you tell me about my family situation then."
"Assuming that this would be no violation of the local marriage laws, I would not exhort you to change your present marital state."
The young man's face brightened. "That's our answer! We can simply relocate to a part of the world where we can marry legally."
Relieved by this unforeseen solution, the pastor prayed, "May God bless you in this quest."
"Thanx, Pastor, until we can arrange our move, we'll see you in church this Sunday morning!"
Although he tried to make his mouth form some words, the pastor was speechless as the happy young man skipped out the door.
A Ministry for Santa Claus
Dress up as Santa Claus for Halloween and go door to door. While accepting candy, pass out pocket new testaments with the gospel message that are wrapped up nicely in Christmas paper and ribbon.
Me and John Newton (part 2)
Sing the following song to the music of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall":
99 sinners are going to hell
99 sinners are lost
But one of them ran
Through the Blood of the Lamb
98 sinners are going to hell
Letter to Tyndale
Hello Tyndale,
I was given a Tyndale 1999 daily desk calendar for Christmas. It's 4.25"x4" and I tear off a sheet each day as I go through the year. Each day has a quote from Max Lucado and a passage from the Bible.
I keep it on my desk where I work. It helps to identify me with my Savior and it occasionally gives me an opportunity to speak of Him to my coworkers. It's great.
The only thing that troubles me about this calendar is that I systematically discard it as the year passes. Each day I trash timeless wisdom!
Well, that was before my great idea. Now I save each page and use the flip side for notes, lists, and memoranda, both for myself, and especially others! You see, I use them instead of those yellow sticky notes.
Here is a typical scenario:
   I use an interoffice mail envelope to forward a customer proposal to Fred for his approval before it goes to the big boss.
   I attach a note for Fred to double-check the numbers in the second paragraph. (The note is on the back side of an old calendar page from last week.)
   The next day, Fred comes to me, approves the proposal, and we send to the big office down the hall.
   Fred tells me that he saw my note, noticed that there was printing on the other side, turned it over and read every word!
   He tells me, "Nice try, Ford, but after more than 10 years of your relentless evangelism, don't you think I'm on to you?"
Unfortunately, Fred knows me pretty well. But many others in my company don't, and it could just be the message and medium that they need.
Think about it. People who may be offended by a tract will fully accept someone's concern to save resources!
But how does this relate to Tyndale? Why not produce this calendar as if it were a yellow sticky note pad? But put the printing on the same side as the adhesive! Perhaps your calendar holder could have a plastic protector that would prevent contamination of the exposed adhesive.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for what you do,
Poverty, the Right Way
With the exception of Jesus Himself, has anyone ever made themselves poor by deliberately giving away all their resources?
Because Abraham, the patriarch, gave 10 percent of the spoils of war to an ancient priest, this has become the standard of giving throughout the church age. But how did Christ feel about this standard? Consider these two incidents from the gospels:
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus commends the poor widow because she gave all that she had.
In Luke 18:22, Jesus tells the rich ruler to "sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven". Such action is supported earlier in Luke 12:33: "Sell all that you have and give alms".
The scriptural evidence seems to indicate that Jesus wants me to give it all. But what would my finances be like if I chose to live entirely by faith in this promise? Second Corinthians 9:6 says "He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully.". This verse implies two facts:
I cannot outgive God.
I receive the greatest return by giving as much as I can.
Of course, the return is not necessarily an earthly one, as seen previously in Luke 18:22.
Therefore, my scripturally unattainable objective now becomes godly poverty. My life savings, my house and all that I have hoarded therein, my land, my cars (not much value here), etc. now belong to Him. But I'm no longer buying into that standard compromising drivel about how He lets me hold onto 90% of it as a steward.
First Corinthians 13:3 adds another dimension to this issue. There, the bible says, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profiteth me nothing." This means that my self-imposed indigence cannot be some grand socio-theological experiment. Instead, it must be motivated by a sincere compassion for my brother, sister, and neighbor.
But how do I deal with 1Timothy 5:8, which tells me that I have denied my faith if I do not provide for my family?
Christian Boot Camp
I suppose that all fundamental Christians complain about that pervasive godless humanism that infects our public schools. Christian teachers, however, are greatly hindered from sharing their faith due to laws that protect our students from such harmful influences as Christianity.
But the Christian student has an opportunity to influence the public school mentality that others do not have. They can share their faith much more boldly because they have no job to lose. A student who loves Jesus would have to become rather obnoxious in his/her evangelistic endeavors before a principle would consider such actions as suspension or expulsion; especially if that student were diligent to maintain good grades and healthy relationships.
But the Christian student is often poorly equipped to contend with all the forces of godlessness in the public school. Although they have the guidance and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, they lack battle experience.
So, it's time for the Christian boot camp. There, young people who are committed to the furtherance of the gospel in their own educational environment can learn about the forces of evil, both academic and social, in the public school and the most effective tools to fight back. The CBC would be a summer camp where only an inner core of young soldiers would learn how to contend for the faith. For example, they might learn…
   What to say when the biology teacher implies that an unborn baby is nothing more than a piece of tissue.
   Effective and unique ways to win faculty, administration, and other students for Christ, without being too obnoxious. (Maintaining good grades is an important start.)
   When to use the more obnoxious methods.
   How to respond when the science teacher dismisses creation as the means by which the universe happened.
   How to pray in public.
   What to do when administration and peers threaten with a wide range of punishments (or perhaps temptations) to coerce or tempt compromise from a strongly evangelistic stance.
   How to use legal channels.
Because weaker Christian teenagers might succumb and conform to the world when pressure arises, only the students who have the most glowing approval of their pastors would qualify. Due to the social and perhaps legal ramifications of the ministry for which they are being prepared, only students with the full support of their local church would be admitted.
Star Story
My daughter attends a Bible-believing Christian school. Her science book states that some stars, millions of light-years away, have been detected here on Earth. If that's true, then millions of years would be needed for the light from those stars to reach Earth. That, in turn, means that these stars must be at least millions of years old, far older than roughly six thousand years, which would correspond to the Biblical account of the creation.
Stop! Please do not be discouraged from following your Christian faith by what you read in the previous paragraph. Rather, I want you to carefully consider the basis of your faith. Consider these words from God:
   We look not at the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen. For that which is seen is temporal, but that which is not seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
   Do not be concerned over so-called "oppositions of science", which have caused some to wander from the faith. 1 Timothy 6: 20,21
   Let not your faith stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5
I hope you didn't miss the point. Don't be troubled by what your kid's science book says. At best, it is merely the most reasonable conclusions that can be derived by supposedly unbiased scientists from only a small fraction of the evidence. But, when all the evidence is gathered, God's Word will be soundly vindicated!
The Ministry of Why
My son, Barry, has helped me to discover the "Ministry of Why". As an inquisitive young child, he, like so many other children of his age, would simply want his dad to tell him  "why". And he could be relentless in his use of this single-word interrogation. But I noticed that every one of these encounters would lead us to God. I recall that I might begin by telling him to pick up his toys, and after several questions, I found myself explaining to him the basic characteristics of God and unable to give any further explanation.
Last summer, when Barry was 22 years old, I was reminded of this one Saturday afternoon when he was disappointed that I didn't return the library book that I said I would.
"The library was closed, Barry"
"Because it's always closed on Saturdays in the summer"
"Because school is also closed, and students don't need the library for studies"
"Because school is always closed in the summer"
"Why?" (By this time we both realized that we were revisiting and enjoying a dad/son experience from long ago.)
"Because our country began primarily as an agrarian society, and farming families needed their children to help on the farm"
"Because there's lots of work on a farm."
"Because from the fall of mankind, God said that man shall work by the sweat of his brow"
"Because man in his foolishness chose to rebel against God."
"Because he was deceived by the enemy of his soul."
"Because Satan, like mankind, wanted to be like God."
"Because of his sinful heart."
"Because God said in Romans that He has concluded all to be in sin, that He might have mercy upon all."
"So that we might be redeemed by the blood of His Son, Jesus."
"Because He loves us."
"Because God is love."
"Someday, you'll have to ask Him yourself. I have no more answers."
"So that's why the library is closed, huh Dad?"
Try it yourself on your own kid on the next time he/she wants to know why about any topic whatsoever. See if your discussion doesn't eventually lead to God.
The Element of Hypocrisy
The following letter was sent to the Courier Post editorial department on 11/15/1991, and later published. (This follows the moral fall of evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.)
As Readers See It
c/o Courier Post
PO Box 5300,
Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034
Your 10/24 cartoon accurately illustrates public sentiment toward Jimmy Swaggart.  "He's a fake," or "He's pretending to be sorry to protect his money-making scam," or "He wants to pick up more prostitutes while spending money from the suckers that send it to him," are typical comments that I hear.  But before we dismiss him as a greedy, lustful hypocrite, let's see where all the rest of us fit in.
Long ago a similar tragedy happened to a great religious leader.  King David murdered his friend and stole his wife.  When God's messenger, Nathan, confronted the king, the Bible says that David genuinely repented and God forgave him.  Then, Nathan told David: "By this deed you have given opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to show contempt" (II Samuel 12:14).
The "enemies of the Lord" rejoiced over David's fall.  Why?  Because if a man of God could commit such an atrocity, why should anyone feel accountable to God?
Today also, many of us prefer nonaccountability to God.  But Swaggart's sermons would make us feel uncomfortable if we were living a life apart from the influence of Jesus Christ.  Because we judge the message by the messenger, his disgrace makes us feel better again.  But to keep feeling good, it's important that Jimmy's repentance is a fake.  
We criticize the man because he openly repents and continues unchanged.  Yet we have more pity and less contempt for the alcoholic who laments the destruction of his own life and the hurt that he caused family and friends, yet who drinks again.  Why the double-standard? Because the alcoholic does not say things that bother our conscience.
Is Swaggart's sorrow is due to the shame he brought on himself, his family, friends, ministry and its supporters, and his God?; or due to the millions of souls that may reject God because of his foolish example?  No, we prefer to believe it's due just to his own personal loss.
No defense for Swaggart is intended.  His resignation is long overdue.  But after he's gone, then perhaps we'll see our own motives more clearly.
U be the Pastor (Part II)
A young man's wife died in a car accident after only a year of marriage. During that year they had videotaped themselves many times during intimacy. Now that she is gone, he has sex with himself every day while watching those tapes. "I'm not indulging in pornography, neither am I masturbating.", he claims. "That's my wife whom God gave to me. I am simply making love with her posthumously!"
That completes the new entries. What follows are the ideas that have appeared with the previous revision of this site.
1. Samuel Revisited
On 11/11/93 at 9:21, I bumped the clock radio on my desk, and it came on. When I set the selector switch to the Radio Off position, the radio continued to play a song on WKDN (106.9 FM) that had the following refrain:
Whatever it takes to draw closer to you Lord
That's what I'll be willing to do
For whatever it takes to be more like you Lord
That's what I'll be willing to do
For the next two minutes the song tried to encourage me to make a more complete surrender to God (i.e., money, things, ambitions, comforts, etc.), while I tried unsuccessfully to turn off the radio. (The On/Off switch would not turn off the radio! I didn't want to unplug the cord because the outlet was located under my desk and behind a large stack of books and binders.)
When the song finally ended at 9:24, I realized that I had bumped the SLEEP CANCEL/DOZE switch. When I pushed this switch again, the radio was silent.
Then, Jesus told me to record this occurrence in this book.
2. Where Lord?
Shortly after Kathy and I were married and before BJ arrived, we somehow acquired a little (no more than four inches long) plaque that sits on top of a desk or table. If I recall correctly, the plaque had a small statue of Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, and plastic, glow-in-the-dark lettering, which said "TRUST GOD."
Well, the early years of our marriage were sometimes challenging. Hey, I was an only child, and, as such, it was easy for me to assume that sharing and other similarly uncomfortable qualities were for others. As a "spoiled brat", I was convinced that one of His blessings for me was that I could live my life on my terms, marriage or no marriage. (I'm embarrassed to admit that God still needs to give me refresher courses today.)
God was trying to show me otherwise, and sometimes He would use Kathy's help. During one rather ugly confrontation in which I was using more than words to emphasize my feelings, the plaque was knocked off the bedroom bureau onto the floor. I later placed it back on the bureau. But I didn't notice at that time that three of the plastic letters had broken off the plaque.
In the early hours of the following morning (before dawn), I woke up and I immediately felt remorse over my words and behavior the previous day. Then I saw the plaque glowing on my bureau. Although there was no question mark, the plaque wanted an answer. It now shined across the dark bedroom, "RU GOD"?
But the story is not yet complete!
I was learning, grudgingly, that God wants all of my heart. He wants His plans for my life. In my mind, I wanted to serve Him only, yet selfish desires were not easily dislodged. None were surrendered without resistance and pain.
Well, submission was gradually becoming more common and God would be faithful by returning to me the joy that comes from a living a life that is influenced by Jesus. During this time, I was looking for God's purpose for my life. I was trying to find the ministry by which I could serve Him best.
I don't know how much later it happened; nor do I recall how, but the plaque was again broken. Two more letters were missing. To this day, I'm not sure where God had in mind, yet the question became a command: "U GO".
  3. Boy, Mother, and Stove
Once there was a little boy who toddled into the kitchen while his mother was cooking. Seeing the bright blue toy dancing on the stovetop, he quickly ran over to play with it. Just in time his mother grabbed his little hand, gave his little hand a sharp whack, and clearly told him that he was never to play with the fire on top of the stove. The little boy cried.
Now, let's consider this incident from the perspective of the child:
Well now, my supposedly loving mother not only denied me what I wanted, but she also deliberately inflicted pain on my poor little body, and, if that wasn't enough, she gave me a thorough scolding, as well!
Because he couldn't understand Mom's response, he thought that his mother was selfish, unloving, and uncaring. Some day he will understand that his mother inflicted that pain to spare her son from a far greater pain.
When life becomes more uncomfortable for me, do I have the faith to see myself as that young child whose present difficulties are being used by my loving heavenly Father to protect me from far greater harm?
These insignificant troubles will bring us eternal glory that is far greater than the troubles themselves. 2 Corinthians 4:17
4. Saul in 1893
One of the more difficult questions that I have encountered from unbelievers who have a nominal understanding of the Bible is, "Why would a loving God tell King Saul to totally annihilate the entire Amalekite nation; all men, women, children, and animals"?
Then, God put the following scenario directly in my mind. Just suppose...
   King Saul reigned during the year 1893 instead of a thousand years before our Savior arrived.
   God told King Saul to take his army and march to a little town in Austria called Linz. (In 1893, Linz had a population of less than 10,000 people.)
   God told King Saul to massacre every living/breathing person in Linz, Austria.
Well, I suppose that our reaction might be similar to the reaction of those who are shocked by God's command to destroy Amalek. Perhaps our response might be even more pronounced since it was more recent.
Yet, what if I were to tell you that one of the residents of Linz, Austria at that time was a three-year-old boy by the name of Adolph Schekengruber, who later changed his last name to Hitler! Is it possible that we would rejoice that God would sacrifice the lives of a few thousand people to spare the lives of six million people, not including millions more that were killed outside of the death camps, 50 years later?
How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways are past finding out! Romans 11: 33.
5. Yes, All Things
My baptism was, and always will be, one of the most memorable experiences of my Christian life.
October, 1977. Kathy and I were married for just four months when it was time for me to publicly proclaim my faith in Jesus through baptism. It was an outdoor service at Medford Lakes. Pastor Bill Finnegan, the man who married Kathy and I, led the service. The water was cold.
Except for myself, all the other candidates for baptism that day were friends and family members of a certain young man whose name is David. Ironically, David was not present that day. This is why I still remember.
David and his mother were the only born again believers in the Secora household. Dad, the brothers and the sisters were unsaved. Dave and his mom attended Faith Bible Church in Medford regularly. The rest of the family didn't.
David had a pastime which was skydiving. One late summer day in 1977, David made a jump, and for reasons that only Jesus will understand, he blacked out shortly after he left the plane. He died.
Realizing just how tenuous life really is, David's entire family, as well as many friends, turned to Christ for their eternal salvation. On that brisk Sunday afternoon, they were all baptized, along with me.
But there's more. At a Sunday evening service shortly after David's death, Mrs. Secora tearfully acknowledged that she had been praying that God would do something, anything, to bring her family to Christ! God had answered her prayer in a manner that can only be appreciated in the light of eternity.
6. The Real Reason St. George Killed that Dragon
For where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Matthew 6: 21
Today (1/15/93) as I was truckin' Barry off to school, I mentioned that when his sisters are older and they are asked to become some young fellow's wife, one of many prerequisites to my approval will be that a future son-in-law must be able to beat me in a game of basketball one-on-one. Or, if I'm too old and crodgety to offer much competition, the prospective brother-in-law has to beat you.
Well, Barry smiled and gave me one of those looks that said "Right, Dad". I could see that an explanation was needed.
"You see, Barry, it doesn't really matter whether he can dribble the ball two feet without bouncing it off his foot. I'd be looking for a young man who loved either Tabitha or Cherish so much that he would be willing to practice and practice and practice and make any other necessary sacrifice to give him any chance at all to somehow whip either one of us, and thereby win her hand in marriage. In doing so he will have paid something to win something; the value of which, hopefully, will last for the rest of their lives.
"When you see these qualities in your future brother-in-law, Barry, you may even decide to let him win"!
I forgot to tell BJ that his future wife must first beat me in one-on-one, also. Or, maybe beat me at chess or pool. Or perhaps beat Tabitha and Cherish at "Doggie, Doggie, where's your bone?"!
7. Field of Schemes?
Field of Dreams is one of the most beautifully intriguing movies that I have ever seen. Although truly a very satisfying experience to watch, this movie tries to convey two false messages:
Heaven and Iowa just might be the same place; and both might be reached without help from Jesus.
Parents who do not want their children to have morally questionable school books are stupid, ignorant, and woefully behind the times.
8. Kathy's Essay
On May 24, 1989, I keyed in this essay which Kathy copied on a tablet. I say "copied" because Kathy says that she wrote down the words just the way the Holy Spirit told them to her.
I am a sinner too, I am limited also by this flesh. But I must strive and seek not to impose my limitations on others; not to offend others with the stench of my own sins!
Tell fears and weak areas and sinful thoughts and feelings to Jesus first, before sharing them with others. Then I will present myself as a cleansed person, rather than unburdening the guilt of my sin on them. My burdens will have been lifted by Jesus so that I can receive a new attitude and a Christ-like view of myself and a Christ-like understanding of others. So I will not judge, but instead I will lead them gently to the soap and water source to remove the stench of their sin. The same source which I found to remove my own stench will also remove theirs. They'll be washed in the blood.
Admit the error of your ways to the Lord first. Then you can ask Him to empower you with His spirit to overcome your sinful tendencies, and see yourself as He sees you. In the light of His word you will be set free from a condemning spirit. You will only want to lead your offender to the same source which has relieved you of the overwhelming sense of your own failures! So then they can be released of their burdens and sins, in order to pick up the pieces and go on in the strength of the Lord and the power of His might!
In your own strength you can say the words of regret, but you cannot free yourself of the power sin has over you. You must come to and continue to rely on your source, Jesus Christ to arm you against sin. He will open your blink eyes and cause you to see your areas of sinfulness. Then, following this, He will enable, empower you to overcome in His strength and for His sake.
Out of a heart of gratitude toward Him, for His forgiveness and provisions, you will desire to please Him rather than yourself. In pleasing Him, others will be pleased with you too. Don't attempt to please others without first and foremost asking for a heart which desires to please Him. If you first desire to please others, you will become a men pleaser, and you will fall short of the glory of pleasing God. Only He deserves a heart which desires to please Him. Only He has not asked us to please Him according to a self-centered will. He desires us to please Him so that He in turn can please us with His riches and blessings. These blessings are the only rewards to us which are not based on self-centered reasons.
God is not an egotist, desiring to be puffed up or praised for selfish reasons. When we praise or please Him, He in turn cleanses us. When we praise and please others, they can lead us to the path of destruction. Worldly praise gets your eyes off Jesus, and onto your own self worth. This praise is deception, for we are worthless in our own ability to produce righteousness. Our ability is given to us of God!
It is not within us to be righteous without Jesus Christ! He must produce His righteousness within us. What then do we have to be praised for? That is why we must reflect or transfer all "praises of men" to the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all "compliments" belong! If your accept even one compliment, you are walking down the path of destruction to your soul!
Christ asks of you right now to give all your compliments to Him! Following this, He will release you to give all your blame and guilt to Him also! Then and only then you will be a free agent. Free from pride and self-righteousness and free from sin and guiltiness! Give it all to Jesus. Jesus, who counted Himself as a sinner in order to same you from your sin. He who knew no sin himself bore our sin, bearing our shame and guilt. Giving up the glory and honor and compliments that was due His name! He did not seek the compliments of men, but rather He sought the will of God!
And the will of God concerning His perfect sinless son was not to receive the praise or compliments of men, but instead God's will for His perfect sinless Son was to receive condemnation and punishment and guilt! Imagine that! A perfect person for whom the highest, most gracious will of God was to receive insults and criticism and a sense of unworthiness.
Why? First of all to set us free from the bondage of our sin and filthiness, and secondly so we could be partakers of His own righteousness. How do we receive His righteousness? By telling Him how nice we are? By reminding Him of all our good deeds? God forbid! But, it is by confessing our sinfulness and our unworthiness to receive compliments, or the praise of God or men!
Therefore, when men praise us, what must we do to receive the righteousness of Christ? We must give this praise or compliment to Jesus immediately. Then and only then will He be able to clothe us in His righteousness. Only as we give up and denounce our own achievements and sense of worthiness can we be free to receive the only true righteousness, of Jesus Christ! Praise the Lord!
Here we can begin to grow again! He came to this world not to establish His own worthiness or righteousness, but to give up His own self-worth and worthiness, so that He can produce His own worthiness and righteousness in us. He gave us this gift on His own merit. Not on any merit that we might think we have. Our merits were so self-centered and egocentric, they were taking us on a swift trip to Hell! So He gave us His merits to enable us to enter Heaven and live a life which can be pleasing to Him. How then, knowing these things to be true, can we receive the compliments of men? We must say then that God gave me the words to write or the thoughts to express or the ability to repair;or He put the thoughts in my mind, the strength in my hand, the desire in my heart to do this for "His sake," to bring glory to Him and not to myself!
Then and only then will God be able to bless you. As you turn down the blessings and praise of men, you receive the blessings and praise of God! And only His blessings can truly satisfy your longing heart and build your deflated ego and give you status quo!
9. Walking by Faith, and Sight too!
As the battle continues over mankind's earliest beginnings within this world and universe, a disturbing attitude is held by many fundamental Bible-believing Christians who should really know better.
Many believers today insist that our science books must not contain any information that contradicts God's Word. For example, they reason that because God has carefully revealed to us the timetable of our world from its birth, that the modern scientific pronouncement of a much earlier beginning must be a doctrine authored by Satan himself.
Too often, and perhaps too anxiously, Christian scholars have carefully presented evidence debunking evolutionary thinking, as though the faith of their believing listeners depends upon the superior credibility of Biblical creationism against the "doctrine of darkness". Furthermore, great effort is often made to show that "true" science and "rightly divided" scripture are fully compatible.
Christian reader, your eternal security depends upon faith; faith in the promises of God as recorded in His inerrant revelation to man. It is not important that your faith bear the slightest resemblance to observable evidence.
Organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research of San Diego, California have good intentions as they demonstrate significant evidence supporting Biblical creationism. But behind this evidence there seems to be an unspoken but annoying need to make the Bible more believable by providing "scientific" proof of its contents; as though science is the standard by which God's Word must be compared. I have heard eminent creation scientists, such as Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Ken Hamm, soundly debunk evolution and compellingly hold up the Genesis account. Although their words make me feel good about my faith, I need to ask myself, "Does the Bible require the imprimatur of scientific scrutiny as a prerequisite to its credibility, or can it really stand alone"?
Do we, as Christians, need to become defensive when the evolutionist boldly states that science and scripture do not agree? Let's consider what science really is. Is science anything more than the most logical conclusions that mankind can derive from whatever observable, empirical evidence is available? Notice that science does not depend upon divine revelation. While science books have been and will continue to be rewritten regularly as new evidence is uncovered, God's revealed Word remains unchanged. If, today, there appears to be contradictions between matters of faith and science, are we wise to either dismiss the scientist as devil-possessed or search for our own scientific evidence which is more compatible with our faith?
Just one of many contrasts between scientific unreliability and scripture are the observations of Hipparchus. In 135 B.C., this respected Greek astronomer "proved" that there were exactly 1080 stars in the universe. This information was considered as irrefutable in its day as our belief today that the movement of minute, negatively-charged particles make our refrigerator light glow. Yet, six hundred years earlier God told Jeremiah to record that "the heavenly host cannot be numbered" (Jer. 33:22). Not until the days of Galileo and Copernicus could Fundamentalists hold their heads up again.
While there is ample, measurable evidence supporting creationism, let's not be afraid to say to an evolutionist "Although you may have evidence supporting your claims, I know that you are mistaken; not because my observable evidence is always stronger than yours; it is not. I know that you are mistaken because God says so. Although your argument may have strength today, when all the evidence on this discussion has been uncovered, my faith and my sight will be one."
"Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God"
(I Corinthians 2:5).  
10. Church Communication
To: Immanual Baptist Church Board of Deacons
From: Barry and Kathy Ford
Date: 12/25/86
Subject: Communication
On the evening of Monday, November 17, Leo and Frank visited our home. All of us had an enjoyable evening of Christian fellowship and prayer.  
But Leo and Frank came for another reason, which they made plain to us. They were concerned about lagging attendance and participation at IBC. They solicited our opinions, which we gave to them.  Leo asked us to express our thoughts in a letter to you, which we have finally done.
The problem that faces IBC (and nearly every other organization that is made up of people) is maintaining good communication.
Every church consists of two groups of people:
The Inner Circle.  This group consists of the pastors, the youth directors, the deacons, the church secretaries, as well as all church members that contribute to the operation of the church.  These people include the Sunday school teachers, the AWANA leaders and helpers, the bus drivers, the ushers, etc.
The Outer Circle.  This group is made up of everyone else (i.e., both regular and not so regular church members and other attendees) who gather at Main and Poplar each Sunday morning.  
This division is both unavoidable, and not necessarily detrimental.  (After all, we know that our Lord Jesus Christ had his "inner circle", consisting of Peter, James, and John.)  
If Immanual Baptist Church is to succeed as a ministry of Jesus Christ and an agency of evangelistic outreach in Maple Shade and beyond, there must be good, healthy communication between the inner circle and the outer circle.  
IBC needs a "hotline" just as much as Washington and Moscow need theirs to carry the following two types of critical information:  
Prayer Requests
Notification of Offenses
Let's discuss both.
1. Prayer Requests
A corollary to the preceding capitalized statement would be:
The outer circle must know that the inner circle is prayerfully concerned about the outer circle's spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.
But how does the inner circle know what those needs are?  After all, the outer circle doesn't show on Wednesday night, and, as a result, only their most visible needs appear on the prayer list.  
Here is what you can do to help eliminate this problem: Stock the racks in the back of all pews with 3x5 cards with the following suggested message and form:
   We of Immanual Baptist Church take seriously the command of God to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).  Because we believe that God hears and answers prayer, would you share your needs with us, so that we may have the privilege of praying for them?
My need:  ________________________________________________________________
I would appreciate a personal visit from the pastor or a church deacon.  Yes______ Not now_____
The best times to visit would be: ________________________________________________
I would appreciate having my needs prayed for at Wednesday night prayer meeting. Yes___No__
Name:________________________________________________  Date:______________
Address:_________________________________________  Phone:_________________

Try to contain the entire message to just one side of the card.  This will allow the confidentiality of placing the card face down when the collection plate goes by.  Also, ensure that the pews are stocked with pencils! Stress the importance of these cards from the pulpit every Sunday morning and evening.
If that first box is checked, ensure that a spiritually mature member of the inner circle visits that person just as soon as possible.  
This course of action, when fully implemented, will place a greater demand (perhaps too great a demand) upon the pastor's time.  If so, make sure that several inner circle members, who are not only well-grounded in Biblical truth, but more importantly, who know how to use their ears as well as their mouth with Godly compassion (James 1:19), are prepared to assist with this ministry.  
2. Notification of Offenses
This is a more sensitive area of communication, and, as such, is at least as important.
The inner circle is composed of both the spiritually mature, and, hopefully less often, those folks who substitute either church activity for a correct relationship with Jesus Christ, legalistic zeal for brotherly kindness, or dogma for a genuine burden for lost souls and weaker saints.  
The outer circle is composed of both growing Christians, spiritually lazy Christians, Christians whose health does not permit them to participate as actively, and perhaps a few unbelievers.  
The Bible says (Luke 17:1) that misunderstandings (i.e., offenses) are inevitable due to this contrasting makeup of complete church body.  Unless you, the leadership of IBC, implement God's methods for resolving offenses, unresolved offenses will tear apart the church.  
By God's methods, I am referring to the three-part procedure given in Matthew 18: 15-17, tempered with guidelines provided in Galatians 6:1.  I urge that these methods be frequently and meticulously preached from the pulpit. If I'm rightly dividing the Word of Truth, there are two substantial responsibilities involved in every offense within the body of Christ:  
Responsibility of the offended party:  Every member of the body should know that if he or she is offended and subsequently goes to a friend for "moral" support and consolation, rather than going to the offending party for restoration, that person can very easily become a talebearer.  (An exception might be the offended's spouse, who, being "one flesh" is an extension of the offended party.)  
The offended party should know that (a) a talebearer commits the last of the seven sins that God hates (i.e., sowing discord among the brethren; Proverbs 6:19), and (b) one characteristic of Christlike love is that it is not easily provoked (I Corinthians 13:5).  
Responsibility of the offending party:  "Agree with your adversary quickly" (Matthew 5:25), and "as much as possible and as much as lies in you live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).  Of course, if the offense is due to sound Biblical doctrine, there can be no true restoration without repentance. But please be sufficiently humble, non-judgmental, and loving enough not to use scripture to hide your insensitivity.  
Perhaps some of you have heard of an instance in which step 3 of the restoration process (i.e., "tell it to the church" Matthew 18:17) has been carried out.  I have not.  But I am certain that the threat of such action has prompted many offending Christians to be reconciled with the offended brother or sister in one of the earlier steps.  
Just as chemotherapy often feels more painful that the cancer that it is intended to destroy, this is often an uncomfortable process.  Without it, however, those unresolved offenses grow into unnecessary major strifes which ultimately kill the body.  
Recently, even as this letter is being written, we have seen a more sensitive spirit at IBC, which has been very encouraging to us.  We pray that this will continue.  
There is no greater blessing to the community than a local church that faithfully proclaims the Word of God.  We are praying that Jesus Christ will again be fully glorified through the ministry at IBC.  
"But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."  (Hebrews 13:16).
11. Paul's Farewell
The following text is an outline for a dramatic presentation of the book of Second Timothy. Many years ago, the Holy Spirit told me to memorize this epistle, which clearly reveal the final thoughts of the great apostle just before his death at the hands of a Roman executioner. Someday, perhaps I will have the opportunity to present this drama. Several areas, which are still incomplete, will be filled in when complete.
Characters: Paul, Luke
Date: ?
Location: A cold and lonely dungeon in Rome
Overall Introduction
Following our introduction, my partner (the one who plays Luke) and I go forward. As we put on our makeup and costume, we discuss the upcoming presentation.
Paul. Good evening.  In just a few minutes I will become Paul, the great apostle.  Tonight it is my privilege to share with you the closing scene of the earthly ministry that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, entrusted to Paul many, I play the part of Luke, who happens to be Paul's only companion when this epistle is written. We know this from verse 10 of chapter 4, when Paul says "Only Luke is with me"! This means that it's possible that Luke wrote down the words as the Holy Spirit told Paul to speak them. So for this presentation, I will be a scribe for Paul's words and serve as the narrator for this presentation. Hey, Since Luke was a medical doctor in real life, he had lots of practice writing prescriptions!
Chapter 1
Luke: In chapter 1, Paul identifies himself as the writer of this classic letter of the wise old, and perhaps slightly tired, preacher to the young enthusiastic preacher, Timothy. Although separated and unrelated by blood, the early verses show no father and son had a closer relationship than Paul and Timothy.
Paul rejoices in that Timothy received a Godly upbringing from both his mother and grandmother. Even so, Paul seems to sense a measure of fear in Timothy. Because the first century could be quite hostile to the messengers of the gospel, Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus has conquered death and that his Savior will guide him throughout eternity.
At the close of chapter 1, Paul is both sad and happy; sad that so many of his colaborers have deserted him, but happy for the loyalty of Onesiphorus, who was not embarrassed or fearful to attend to Paul's needs even in prison!
Paul: Recital of Chapter 1 of 2 Timothy
Chapter 2
Luke: In chapter 2, the longest of the four, Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful.  Because there are so many passages in this epistle which are intended to bolster Timothy's faith, perhaps Timothy was somewhat fearful of the consequences of a strong personal testimony for Jesus Christ.  Whether true or not, this chapter includes several examples, analogies, and personal experiences that are intended to make Timothy strong.
Paul opens by comparing the Christian life to the courage of a soldier, the determination of an athlete, and the patience of a farmer.  He explains the importance of these qualities when he says, "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him."
Three different verses in chapter 2 warn Timothy about what we might call the "peripheral issues" in the Christian life.  These are the matters that do not include the divinity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His literal resurrection, or the inerrancy of scripture.  He urges caution because these things confuse the listener and create ungodliness and strife.  
Yet Paul is not soft on doctrine!  Paul cites two believers, Hymanaeus and Philetus, whose teaching has missed the mark, and, as a result, has caused confusion among younger believers.  This warning, coupled with the closing verses of chapter 3 in which all scripture is declared as God-breathed, seems to indicate that we should live as close to the literal Word as possible, while showing patience and tolerance to all believers.
Paul: Recital of Chapter 2 of 2 Timothy
Chapter 3
Luke: In Chapter 3, the shortest of the four, Paul prepares Timothy for some of the most difficult issues that he will endure as a young pastor.  
In the first 10 verses, Paul exhorts Timothy to be careful as more and more ungodly behavior overtakes the world just before the return of Jesus to this earth.  
In verses 11 and 12, the Holy Spirit directs Paul to use his own ministry as the benchmark for all other ministries, both now and until Jesus comes.  Because this portion of his letter to Timothy sounds boastful, Paul is not comfortable with these words.  I know this because Paul stated in an earlier letter to the church at Galatia "But God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The next four verses include a reminder that persecution is an unavoidable result of discipleship, an exhortation to learn and grow in faith, and praise for the results of a saving relationship with Christ when he was still a young child.
Chapter 3 closes boldly with a clear statement of the inerrancy and divine authorship of scripture, which allows the Christian to build strong spiritual values in his/her life.  
Paul: Recital of Chapter 3 of 2 Timothy
Chapter 4
Luke: Chapter 4 covers a wide range of important messages that the Holy Spirit is to convey both to Timothy and countless believers down through the ages.  
In the first five verses, Paul exhorts, urges, and pleads that Timothy will remain faithful, diligent, and vigilant, in the face of many temptations and false teachers.
In the closing four verses, Paul remembers his friends and loyal colaborers in Christ .  Most of Paul's letters close with this personal touch in which Paul greets and prays for various members from churches that he has founded earlier in his ministry.  Most were lead to a saving relationship with Jesus by Paul himself.  Like Timothy, Prisca, Aquilla, Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Linus, Claudia, and Pudens are Paul's spiritual children, and he loves them.  In an earlier letter, Paul stated "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth".
Between the opening and the closing, is a portion of scripture that is perhaps the most powerful, and yet touching, expression of human emotion that can be found in the Bible.  Except for Luke, Paul is alone.  Paul laments that he is suffering from human loneliness, yet rejoices that Jesus, Himself, is in that prison cell, preparing Paul for that final step of faith, death.  Although he is hurt by associates that have failed or forsaken him, Paul exults "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me."
We don't know just how much time elapses between the end of 2 Timothy and Paul's execution at the hands of the Roman emperor.  Because PauI asks Timothy to visit him before winter and bring with him books and clothing (verses 12 and 13), the delay is probably more than a few hours or even days.  But it doesn't matter, because there is "A crown of righteousness" waiting for Paul on the other side of death.
And now, the final chapter.
Paul: Recital of Chapter 4 of 2 Timothy
Paul: Before we finish tonight, I want you to be able to leave with one of the verses that Paul spoke tonight locked into your memory. Hey! I first had to learn 83 verses! You can at least learn one. Which one?  Verse 8 of Chapter 4. Let's say it together:
Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all that love His appearing!
The Holy Ghost told Paul to say that Jesus Himself will give to Paul a special crown of righteousness; but not Paul's righteousness, which the great apostle actually compared to a pile manure in his letter to Philippi. Instead, the crown signifies the righteousness of his Savior, Jesus Christ, that He freely gave to Paul one day along the roadside.
We might be tempted to feel that Paul is receiving this crown because he was such a great and mighty Christian. But the most exciting part of this verse is what follows the semicolon. Paul is not the only one who will benefit from Christ's righteousness. Everyone, including you and I, who looks for and eagerly awaits Christ's return "at that day" receives the same crown. My hope and prayer that you too long for the return of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
12. Death Trap
In the early morning of 4/23/93 I had very graphic dream. Although I firmly believe that the Bible is God's only revealed message to me, this dream powerfully reinforces an important Biblical principle pertaining to the sanctity of marriage. In other words Jesus wants His children to be totally faithful to the husbands and wives that He gives to them.
Although listed with all the other dreams in Chapter 3, the compelling nature of this nightly subconscious message requires special mention. Here it is:
Several lustful men are pursuing an evil relationship with a cheap, equally lustful female tramp. Their sinful pleasure quickly turns to horror as this alluring harlot transforms into a gigantic, slimy and grotesque leech. There is no escape for these terrified men, who are slowly ingested and consumed by this hideous creature.
My heart was pounding as I woke up quickly. I immediately went to Jesus, "Lord, please help me to yield all ungodly desires to You, long before they have a chance to cause me spiritual and eternal loss".
The house of a harlot is on the way to hell; going down to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7: 27
Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. 1 Peter 2: 11
13. Repelling Temptation
Once upon a time there was a  single, and very immoral, young man. Although not particularly good looking, he had an unhealthy appetite for loose women, on which he wasted much of his money and time. Shallow and broken relationships filled his life. A thin veneer of pleasure disguised his great unhappiness.
One day, though, he met a young lady who was beautiful both inside and out. Because her life was greatly influenced by Christ and Christian principles, he immediately saw a big difference between her and the other women with whom he kept company. He saw that she was happy and secure, as a child under the watchful eye of a loving father, which she had. Because he wanted and he knew that he needed the moral fiber and supernatural joy that Jesus had given her, he accepted Christ as his savior.
After that their relationship blossomed. Soon they were engaged, and later they married. They both resolved to grow in Christ, both together and individually.
Though happily married, he discovered that Satan would often use his earlier life style to contaminate his mind with impure thoughts. She was a loving, caring, committed, and somewhat jealous wife; which was fortunate for him, because her protectiveness helped him to remain faithful.
Slovenliness and laziness were two of his personal weaknesses. Unshaven, dirty, dog-breath, and BO were her common complaints. He knew that it was true. On those rare occasions when he would try extra hard to make himself look and smell good, he would receive her approval, which made him happy.
However, other women would notice and approve as well. Satan made certain that he noticed that they noticed. He knew that extra measures would be needed to thwart the sexual restlessness that the enemy would create in his soul. He had witnessed the fall of some great Christian leaders who had fallen into shame and defeat through immorality. If this could happen to such men of far greater faith than himself, what hope had he? He decided to use a rather unusual approach.
He reasoned that if fleeing temptation became very difficult, why not encourage temptation to flee from him. To do this he decided to enlist his weaknesses as his ultimate weapon against the enemy. He knew that while he was living in his unkempt state, a greater defense against adultery than his moralizing was the fact that no one was interested!
From that day forward, he was ghastly. His messy, out-of-fashion clothes from the thrift shop, his untreated breath and pits, his sandpaper face, and his ironweed coiffure totally solved the problem. Women who might otherwise take a second look, now would only do so in repulsive disbelief of their first glance.
Well, he was overjoyed and very grateful for this great spiritual victory for himself, his marriage, and for his Savior. Although his poor wife did appreciate his faithfulness, she discovered, however, that he had difficulty cleaning up when he was only with her.
This marriage continues. But pray for this couple. Pray that God would show them how to have a close relationship without dangers from without. Thank you and may God bless you real good.
14. Deception
Have you ever felt frustrated when discussing the Bible and its doctrine with a scripturally knowledgeable unbeliever? I sure have. As a new Christian I would become upset when someone would cleverly use specific verses to undermine my faith. I didn't have enough firepower to hold him off.
I think I matured a little since then. After my initial ignorance, I discovered that I must become more conversant with God's Word so that I can more adequately defend Biblical Christianity. Well, that has happened, and is continuing to happen. I would try to memorize all the verses that I would need to repel those smooth-talking JWs; or I would write them in my Bible. Even with my greater understanding of the scriptures, I would still encounter problems sometimes. But at least Jesus has enabled me to handle tougher opposition.
In fact, it still happens today. When it does, I use a very effective answer that no one but Jesus has given me. It goes like this.
"Your argument is quite compelling. To be honest, I do not have sufficient knowledge of the Bible to refute your statements. However, I still know that I am correct and that you are mistaken.
"I know this because the vast majority of Bible-believing, born-again Christians do not agree with you. Your position is held by only a very small minority of religious people. "
"God says that numbers are important. Consider 2 Peter 1: 20, which says:
No prophecy of God is of any private interpretation.
Surely, you realize that your obscure interpretation of scripture qualifies as such an interpretation. Also, God says in Proverbs 11: 14
In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.
"While your arguments are very interesting, I urge you to find out why they differ from the doctrine that is held by far many more Christians."
Let no man deceive you with vain words; for this reason the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:7
15.   Wearing His Testimony
Let me tell you the story about a star football player by the name of William Isaiah. Bill is a born-again Christian who always looks for ways of conveying his faith to others. When Bill was drafted by the NFL's Houston Oilers, he was delighted to find that his favorite number was available to him to wear on his uniform.
The reason why this particular uniform number was so important to him was due to his desire to remind everyone who watched him play, both in the stands and by television, that Jesus came to earth and bore our sins by dying the death that we deserved. Bill wanted all to know the Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, by whom we become righteous in His sight.
But how could he do that while he was playing football. Simple. When viewers would see the back of Bill's jersey, they would see:
16. Godly Athletic Magazine
My son, Barry, wants to lift weights to improve his athletic ability for basketball and any other sport that he may decide to pursue. I think that's wonderful.
So I go to the magazine rack of the nearby Acme, hoping to find a recent copy of the same Strength & Health magazine that encouraged me many years ago. Well, there were many magazines on this topic, but all of them were trash. They seem to use exercise just to show lots of flesh, both male and female, rather than train it.
Some day I hope to find a magazine that is intended to encourage the young Christian athlete, both physically and spiritually. Such a magazine would have the personal testimony of successful Christian athletes as well as their training program.
Every athlete submits his body to a regimen of exercise. They do it for a corruptible crown, but we do it for an incorruptible crown. I Corinthians 9:25
17. Which Verse?
Once there was a young Christian woman named Kathy to whom God gave a most beautiful singing voice. She resolved early in her relationship with Jesus that she would use her voice only for His glory.
Well, she went to the same high school as Bill, the football star (see #15). She was a constant problem for the school administration though, due to her soul-winning activities. The principal, who was pressured from liberal elements inside and outside the school to repress her fervor, would frequently ask Kathy to tone down her evangelistic zeal, but she wouldn't do it. Suspension was being considered.
The principal, knowing of her agreement with God about her voice, decided that she would not be suspended if she would sing the National Anthem at the school's next home football game. At first, Kathy refused. But later, after much prayer, she agreed.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the fall; perfect for a football game. The stands were packed with fans, the band was ready, and Kathy walked up to the microphone to sing:
Oh! Thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The principal was enraged. He quickly found Kathy after her performance and screamed at her, "What the blazes did you sing!"
"The national anthem", she replied, nonchalantly.
"You're lying! I know the national anthem, everyone does, and you sang something else"!
"Oh it was the national anthem all right. It just wasn't the first verse"! Kathy walked away while the principal kicked the wall in anger.
18. The Chairs Cry Out?
Here's a simple little evangelical tool that I should remember.
Bob was born-again believer and a new employee.
One day Bob and I had to attend a seminar at work. I was late. When I arrived the seminar had already begun. I sneaked in the back and saw an empty chair next to Bob.
I asked Bob, "Bob, is this seat saved"?
Bob looked at the chair and then looked up at me and said, "No. In fact, it's not even under conviction"!
19. Soles
Steve, another writer at work with whom I had been sharing God's Good News, offered me replacement lowers for my older pair of shoes. He said that I could simply glue or staple these replacements to my existing shoes.
The next day he brought them in. I glued and stapled them to the undersides of my shoes and the completed job added miles.
Steve later commented, "Well, Barry, now I've saved your sole"!
20. An Indestructable Home
At around 1 PM On Saturday August 11, 1979, a car driven by a drunken teenager came barreling down Collins Avenue. I can't even guess the speed. The streets were wet. When it was time to apply the brakes at the intersection of Forklanding Road, those brakes either didn't work or the driver didn't apply them.
The car went straight through the intersection, jumped the curb, cut down a tree with a six inch trunk diameter, and busted through our front door. The car was halfway into our living room when it stopped.
Because it was a hot night, all three of us were sleeping in the living room. Barry Jr. was less than two weeks old. He had been home from the hospital for just one week. He was asleep in a wooden cradle, which protected him from the flying glass of the mirror tiles that used to be on the wall. Kathy was on the couch, just 10 feet from the point of impact. I was on the floor. I dreamed that I was in a large cafeteria when someone dropped a large tray of dishes.
Although I was suddenly in the same room with an automobile, Kathy's shouting at me woke me up. Remarkably, I would have kept on sleeping.
At first the driver and passenger wanted to run. Then they thought better of it, knowing that their car was stuck in our house. Shortly, our house was filled with police, paramedics (no injuries, praise God), rescue workers, emergency utility workers, etc.
In seconds, our house was converted from a rancher to a split level. It sustained $10, 000 of damage. (Praise God for homeowners insurance as well.) For the next month we stayed at Kathy's parent's house while our house was being repaired. We ate out every day and the meals were also covered by insurance.
One Sunday evening during this time we visited Faith Bible Church in Medford. When Pastor Finnegan asked for personal testimonies, Jesus told me to stand up and tell how He had protected us in the midst of this accident. He then told me to close my story with the following verse:
For we know that if our earthly house is destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. II Corinthians 5:1
21. How God Saved Me
Have you ever thought about all the factors that God has used to bring about your salvation? Well, I just did. He wants me to write them down here. Here's the procedure that God followed:
   One evening when I was in Navy boot camp (summer of 1967), our company commander asked if any sailors wanted to go see an artist. Since anything was better than the barracks, I went with some buddies. Perhaps 300 sailors attended. He was a Christian artist. He described God's plan of salvation while drawing a picture of a great city. (It may have been heaven.) When he invited us to accept Christ, I wouldn't do it, although the invitation was intrigueing. I noticed that several other sailors raised their hands. Bibles were given to the sailors that received Christ. For the next several days I would see sailors reading their new Bibles. Over time, I saw those Bibles less and less. A shallow, meaningless display of emotion, I thought.
   After the Navy, I spent lots of time palling around with Rex and Dave. One day in 1971 or maybe 1972, we were playing football in the empty lot next to Rex's house. A young fellow named Ed, who lived just across Kings Highway from where we were playing, walked up to us. I don't remember his last name. He immediately spoke to us about God's salvation plan. I reacted quickly. I told him that he had no proof, and that he was foolishly promoting folklore as fact. He invited me to check out what the Bible had to say. Some time later (not that day) I accepted his invitation. Although he showed me some interesting passages from scripture, I was unmoved. He invited me to his church. I declined. I did notice that his life seemed to be characterized by a greater measure of peace than mine.
   It was the summer of 1975 and I had been living in my house on Forklanding Road in Maple Shade for a few years. When I came home from work one day, I found a post card from Immanual Baptist Church offering me a free Bible. At that time I wouldn't have given anyone a nickel for a Bible, but I couldn't pass up a free one. So I checked the Yes box and sent it back. Pastor Harry Pfeul visited me a few days later. He gave me the Bible and he explained to me what God had in mind for my life. I listened as closely as possible, but I wasn't yet ready.
   In January of 1976 I met Kathy, my future wife. She was a Christian from a Christian family. We had been dating for a few months when she invited me to her church. I accepted. (She was prettier than Ed.) I heard the salvation message from Pastor Newton Conant. Not yet, but the message is getting deeper.
   Kathy, her mother, and I were sitting around their dining room at their Camden house. My future mother-in-law asked me if I am going to heaven. I said that I didn't know how anyone could know that for certain. She showed me some important verses on this subject. I was surprised. I also noticed that I wouldn't be there if I died at that moment.
   Then in July 1976, Kathy and I and Joe and Paula went to a Sunday evening service. Paster Bill Finnegan, who later married us, didn't use vague words. I got the point. The Holy Spirit was telling me that now is the accepted time. Kathy whispered that she would go with me. We went forward together. Jesus became my Lord and Saviour.
22. Me and Reggie
I suppose that it was around August of 1992 when we went to the Homestyle Buffet Restaurant for dinner. Kathy said she overheard someone at the salad bar that there were some famous athletes in the restaurant. I looked around, and sure enough, there was Reggie White and Hershel Walker eating dinner a few tables behind us.
I had been planning to call up WIP Sports Radio when Reggie was a guest. I wanted to ask questions that would give him the opportunity to tell listeners about his Saviour. I wanted to ask him if Jerome Brown, who had recently died in a car accident, was a Christian. I wanted to tell him how his ministry was was a blessing to us. I wanted to tell him how we were praying that Jesus would keep him strong in the face of the enormous temptations that he must face as a professional athlete. Though I would apologize for interrupting his dinner, I wanted to say how grateful I was that Jesus provided this opportunity to tell him so.
I think Jesus was telling me to tell him right now. I forgot to pray first, but God gave me the words anyway. As I approached his table, he gave me a look like I was just one of those countless number of people who were constantly interrupting his life. When I was done talking, he smiled and thanked me.
Later, they autographed paper napkins for all the children in the restaurant. He wrote John 3:16 on Barry's and Tabitha's. Except for one little detail, the entire occasion was a blessing. Reggie didn't think that Jerome was a believer.
23. That's All I Need to Know!
Every so often I hear a song about Jesus that just compels me to join in. For many years, however, I didn't know the words. Then, one day I heard the song on WKDN. I scribbled the lyrics on the back of an envelope just as quickly as I could. I didn't get it all, but I did get the part that I wanted most. I include this just so that I can refer to it again.
Other friends that I love so may pass me by.
Other friends may never see the tear drop in my eye.
Other friends may never know the pain I bear
Every tear He wipes away and every heartache share.
But I get goose pimples on the following chorus, especially on the words "walk" and "step".
I won't ever walk alone. He holds my hand
He will guide each step I take, and if I fall, I know He'll understand
'Till the day He tells me why He loves me so
I can feel His hand in mine; that's all I need to know.
24. Christian Backgrounds
The following matter is based upon the way things seem to me. I have absolutely no tangible evidence to substantiate what you are about to read. The following observations simply appear true to this observer:
   The vast majority of committed, Spirit-filled Christians are offspring of equally committed, Spirit-filled Christian parents. And that observation is really no surprise.
   The second largest group of such Christians come from homes that are characterized by outright godlessness. If any thought pertaining to God, sin, righteousness, or eternity happens in these homes, it's met with ridicule.
   The fewest number of committed, Spirit-filled Christians comes from homes in which, as Paul told Timothy, parents practice "a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof". Homes with a facade of Christ, but no substance, produce the fewest number of genuine Christians; even less than unregenerate, unrepentent homes.
Because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth Rev.3:16
25. Don't waste that Question!
I'll guess the year was 1986. And I think the location was Bill and Sue's old house on Spruce Street. A birthday party, I believe, or it could have been a holiday.
Anyway, the whole family was there. Later in the evening all the adults gathered around to play the Ungame, that wonderful family game that sometimes generates more strife than peace. But that's another story.
After playing for a little while, Kathy drew a card with instructions to say something nice about each contestant. Although I do not recall her answer, I remember that her comments seemed acceptable.
But ever since that night, I have been wondering what I would have said if I had drawn that card. After a few days, I came up with what I would have said. After many years, I still remember. Jesus told me to write them down, and here they are:
   Joe, you are the family conscience. You provide for the rest of us a Biblical standard by which we can make important decisions. We all benefit from the extra measure of sensitivity to sin and temptation that God has given to you.
   Paula, you have the gift of hospitality. You create in your home an atmosphere of comfort and fellowship that all of us enjoy.
   Bill, you are enthusiastic and spontaneous. You're not forced into the mold just because it's always been done this or that way. Because of your gift, we all benefit by breaking away from old and boring traditions.
   Sue, five years ago, I didn't think that there was any woman alive anywhere who could do anything with this man (pointing to Bill). I'm sure all of us agree that you and Jesus have done a marvelous job.
   Al, while it's true that all of us have been greatly blessed by the practical fixit skills that Jesus has given you, that's not the quality of yours for which I'm the most grateful. I'm even more grateful for the cheerful willingness by which you share these skills.
   Debbie, your gifts are reliability and dependability. You can be counted on to meet whatever family need arises.
   Dad, we're all very grateful for the way that you are there when you're needed. Whether it's babysitting or a needed pickup of one of the kids from school, or some other task, you're there; and that's a blessing for us all. But there's more, Dad. You make us laugh, often at ourselves. And that's very important.
   Mom, I know what you're thinking! What's he going to say about me? Well, Mother, I've been in this family long enough to learn that you are the original reason why Jesus is honored in this family today. "What Mother would have done" is a phrase that I have frequently heard from the lips of all four of your children. Although you may not feel very important today, considering all that you have endured in recent years, you still symbolize godliness for this family.
   Kathy, you are the embodiment of compassion. I have never met anyone who has the capacity to care the way you do. I'm very thankful that my wife has this gift, because I tend to be just the opposite, which is lazy, unmotivated, and apathetic. But don't worry, God is using you to change me.
26. Pa, if only...
Today, Friday January 28, 1994, I thought of my father; or Pa, as I called him. From time to time I have wished that I had been a Christian while Pa was still alive. Then I could have shown him the pathway to Heaven, which he had sought for many years before his death in 1969. I feel a little sad when I think of about this.
I reached for the dictionary on my desk, where I looked up the name Blavatsky in the biographical section. I was mildly surprised to find the name was there! It said:
Blavatsky, Elena Petrovna1831-1891; Russian traveler and theosophist
So what, you say? Well, Madame Blavatsky was a person whose life and teachings interested Pa very much. So I looked up the word theosophist. I discovered that a theosophist was an adherent of theosophy. So I moved down one entry. I was not encouraged by what it said:
1. teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight  2. the teachings of a modern movement originating in the US in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation
My father had a measure of spiritual unrest within his soul. He had rejected Roman Catholicism at an early age and became a Quaker. (He met my mother at a Quaker young people's group.)
Apparently, Quakerism had also failed to satisfy this hunger. In addition to Blavatsky, he investigated the teachings of Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. This didn't seem to help either.
While he never, to my knowledge, confessed the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, I am intrigued by a verse from Jeremiah, which says:
And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Pa did seem to spend much energy looking for the truth. Is it possible that, unknown to all but Pa and God, the Holy Spirit allowed Pa to find Jesus perhaps moments before he left this world? Some day I'll find out.
27. Evangelism by Interrogation
A question often conveys a message more effectively than a statement. Why? Because a question demands a response. Even if the response is unspoken, a question can linger long after a statement fades away. God commonly exposes our conscience via the rhetorical question, which requires no answer because the answer is universally known. Here are some of my favorite "rhetorically evangelistic" questions from scripture:
   Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Isaiah 55:2
   What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36,37
   How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:3
   If a man dies, shall he live again? Job 14:14
   O Death, where is thy sting; O Grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55
   Am I a dog? I Samuel 17:43
   For if God spared not His own son, but freely gave Him up for us all, how shall He not freely give us all things? Romans 8:32
   Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle, who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? Psalms 15:1
   If God is for us, then who can be against us? Romans 8:31
   The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
   What shall separate us from the love of God? Romans 8:35
   Adam, where are you? Genesis 3:9
28. Hosea Revisited
To avoid breaking trust with a trusted friend, I am not including this information.
29. Not in My House!
This entry is the result of Idea entry #189 in Chapter 1. There, I talked about a plan that would allow TV viewers to watch filtered entertainment. The filter, which would sit on the TV like a VCR, removes all unacceptable viewing and language by simply flipping a switch or two.
But this idea misses an important spiritual point. Although I want to be a consciencious parent and Christian, I must acknowledge that there is another part of me that wants to watch uncensored, unfiltered filth. If this sort of entertainment never enters my home, I will never be tempted to watch.
But, if I can gratify these evil desires by disabling the filter, there may be many opportunities when I will be sorely tempted to do so. For this reason, I prefer to locate the filter on the telephone pole.
Abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. I Peter 2:11.
When you allow yourself to be in the path of temptation, you take the first step toward yielding to it.
30.   How to Sanctify Halloween
I guess I'm getting a little sick of the Halloween lawn decorations. Years ago it was just goblins, witches, skeletons,and ghosts. Today it's victims buried upside down with the feet sticking out of the ground, dismembered body parts, and other displays that are too ugly to mention.
But what can a Christian do for a Halloween display on his/her front yard? Well, Jesus gave me this idea; just a big sign stuck in the ground that says:
31. Another Evangelism Tip
The next time you see a perfectly clear day; I mean a day with all blue from horizon to horizon, don't waste the opportunity to mention these words to the first person you encounter (preferably outside):
You say, "you know, I don't believe that Jesus will return for His church today".
He or she says, "Huh"?
You say, "Well, just look at that sky! There's not a cloud to be seen anywhere! In Revelation chapter 1 it says that Jesus will return in the clouds to gather up His bride. Now, of course, He could make a cloud in a moment, but if the natural course of weather continues for the rest of the day, He won't show from the sky until at least tomorrow".
If he or she hasn't walked away yet, tell them how to be a one of those redeemed saints that Jesus will gather in the air.
32.   George W. was Here!
George Whitefield was a great preacher of the pre-revolutionary 1700s. He, along with other eminent orators of God, such as Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley, were very effective instruments that the Holy Spirit used to bring revival to this yet unborn nation. His "Hell is hot and sin is black" sermons brought many into the kingdom.
In fact, I should remember to give thanks to Jesus for men like George Whitefield. Because he believed that the life of an itinerant evangelist in a difficult age was not too great a price to pay, but rather a joyous privilege, many Americans today, including myself, have had the priceless opportunity to hear and respond to God's invitation of grace.
So what, you say? Well, God put these thoughts in my mind while I was driving home from work at INC late one Summer afternoon. I was driving west on Amwell road (or Route 514). The rustic little town of Reaville was about two miles behind me. In another mile or two I would turn south on Route 31. First I noticed an old graveyard on the right, and then the sign:
Well, I suppose that the words "religious zeal" were the most compelling words that a publicly funded historic road marker would allow. But, don't be fooled; I bet that old Amwell Church shook. I wish I could have been there. Or, at least I wish the building could tell the story.
Peter had the same results. Acts 2:41.
33. My Christmas Testimony
On Saturday evening, December 10, 1994, Kathy and I went to a Friends Relying on God's Strength (FROGS) dinner at IBC. We ate, we sang, and we gave our personal testimony. Actually, I didn't say anything, although I knew I had something to say. I just couldn't think of what it was. By the next day I figured out what I wanted to say the next time someone invites me to talk about my relationship with Jesus during the Christmas season. Here it is:
This is the time of year when I commonly think about my first Christmas. I don't mean my earliest memories as a very young child; I mean my first Christmas as a Christian. For me, it was Christmas of 1976.
1976 was a tremendous year for me. I was excited when the Phillies played their first post-season game in 26 years. But far more importantly, I received Jesus as my Saviour the previous July. Then, one month later I managed to convince Kathy that she should marry me.  
But on the following Christmas I heard the Christmas carols for the first time. Songs like "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", "O, Come, All ye Faithful", "Joy to the World", "Silent Night", etc. had an effect on me that never happened before. They were always beautiful songs of the season to me, but nothing more. But have you ever really listened to some of these lyrics?:
Hark, the Herald andels sing, glory to the newborn king!
Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Saviour was born upon this day
To save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray
O, tidings of wonder and joy!
Those words are distinctively evangelistic! For years I have sung those lyrics and never thought about the message. Perhaps you did too before you accepted Christ.
But I'll never forget hearing "Silent Night" for the first time after I became a Christian. I was at home in December, preparing for Christmas and for my wedding the following June. Family Radio was tuned in and there it was. It was the same beautiful Christmas carol, but it reached different ears. I remember collapsing on my sofa and crying.
34. Here's what I should have told you, Scott!
Although I forget the exact day, I think it was in September 1994, Scott. On that day you arrived at our house in tears over a broken romance. I forget what I did say to you, Scott, but I should have added these words:
Twenty-five years from now, Scott, you will have teenage children. One day one of them will come home also feeling totally devastated over a romance that didn't work out right; just the way you feel today Scott. When that happens, you will be able to put your arms around him or her and say what happened to you on this day many years from now. And after you do, he or she will be comforted and encouraged by your words.
And you can also tell him or her that God is preparing them for a ministry for your grandchildren, just as He is beginning to prepare you today, Scott.
We comfort others by the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God.
2 Corinthians 1: 4
35. Romans 8:28 in Real Life
On 12/12/94 I locked my keys in the car at the bank. The bank didn't have any wire coat hangers in their closet. After walking up and down the street a few times I finally found someone with the right type of coat hanger.
While I tried over and over to open the door, I was berating my stupidity. Then I noticed my checkbook was under the car. I would never have noticed that my checkbook fell out of the car if I hadn't locked myself out. I finally opened the door, and as I drove away, I realized what a blessing it was that I locked myself out.
Lord, give me the grace to realize that you don't always give quick, simple, and easily understandable reasons for every difficulty that I encounter.
36. If I were Paul Hill
On 12/12/94 ABC broadcast an interview with Paul Hill, a man condemned to die in Florida for killing a doctor that performed abortions. The interviewer obviously did not want to allow Hill to use this interview as a forum to advance an agenda of fire-with-fire. I don't feel that he was entirely successful. Mr. Hill expressed his position rather well, I thought.
Because I have the benefit of afterthought, I would have answered a few questions differently. For example:
Q: Mr. Hill, do you consider yourself to be a hero?
My A: I feel that it is for others to decide whether or not I deserve that title. Let's just say that I do not regret my actions.
Q. Is that how you want to be remembered? as an unremorseful killer?
My A. Dr. Britton was the killer. I simply put an end to his carnage. Suppose I had just assassinated Adolph Hitler. Would you consider me a hero?
Q. Do consider yourself to be such a person?
My A. Mr. Hitler murdered six million innocent men, women, and children. Since Roe vs. Wade, over 30 million babies, of even greater innocence, have been deliberately murdered. Now obviously, Dr. Britton was not responsible for every one of these childrens' blood. But he certainly did his share.
Q: What possible good will come of your actions? Won't women simply go somewhere else?
My A. If my actions cause just three mothers to change their minds, I will have broken even. (Dr. Britton's life, his bodyguard's life, and my life). But if I convinced a fourth mother to save her baby, I'm ahead.
Q. According to the interview with Mrs. Britton, her husband was a kind and loving husband and father. Do you mean to say that you feel OK about permanently depriving this family of this man?
My A. I watched that interview and I cried when Mrs. Britton said that. I believed then and now every word that she said about Dr. Britton. I feel very badly about separating this family from their husband and father. But you must understand that there is another side to this man - a side that is evil, dark, and ugly. If there were a way that I could have destroyed the evil Dr. Britton, yet retain the good Dr. Britton, I would have done so. I just didn't know how to do that.
My answers actually frighten me somewhat. I find myself agreeing with Mr. Hill to a degree that makes me just a little uncomfortable. However, it's a dilemma that every pro-lifer must address. That is, if life in the womb is just as sacred as life outside the womb, what, exactly, is Mr. Hill's crime?
37. The Right Way to Quit.
It's December of 1994 and Barry is playing basketball for Maple Shade High School. He's having a little trouble, though. Although he has many skills at this game and good size (6'6" - 230 lbs), he has one significant problem. He is slow - both in foot speed and reactions. I understand that. I had the exact same problem.
When he lost his starting job with the JV team, he felt like quitting. But I was delighted with the decision that he made; a decision that had very little to do with basketball. He decided that he would work as hard as he could to earn his job back, and then quit, if, of course, he still felt like it.
He seemed to know that quitting in response to discouragement or frustration would create a pattern of failure that may hurt him later in life, when life will be more than a basketball game. He also seemed to know that that the type of failure which happens in spite of resolve and hard work will never hurt him.
Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men. Colossians 3: 24.
38. Something I need to tell my daughters
This information is for Tabitha and Cherish and perhaps any other girls in the family if they care to listen. These are important thoughts, feelings and facts that you need to hear from your father! Of course, if you had heard them from Mother, they would be just as valid. Just as some subjects are best told my your mother, likwise your father should tell you others.
Way back in July of 1980, before either of you were born or even expected, your mother and I attended a very important seminar at the Philadelphia Civic Center. It was what we have since called the Bill Gothard seminar. Mr. Gothard, the seminar's leader, is a man who has been blessed with remarkable insight and wisdom pertaining to human relationsips.
We both learned much about family relationships, especially about our two most important ones, which are first to Jesus, and second to each other. But there was another relationship that caught my attention that week. Perhaps it was because Mr. Gothard spent much time discussing it. It was between father and daughter. Since then, I had been praying that He might give us a girl, that I might have the opportunity to use this information. He gave me two!, PTL!
Since that week I have tried to be as affectionate to you as possible, but of course, with fatherly purity. I have wanted to love your mother in the way that I would hope that you would be loved by your husbands some day. I regret several failures in this objective, yet I hope that I have earned the right to be heard now.
Mr. Gothard told the teenage girls in the audience, "When a young man first asks you for a date, tell him that you are complimented by his invitation , but that he must first ask permission from your father". Until now, God has used both of your parents for your spiritual protection. But now that the years of dating and courtship are hear, God gave you a father for specifically for these challenging times.
Perhaps you are thinking, "What makes you think that you are better equipped than Mother to protect me from boys"? The answer is that a man can discern the romantic motiviations of another man better than a woman can. In the same way, when BJ meets a girl, it's far more important that she meet your mother than she meet me. Why? Because the girl would probably influence me in the same way that she influenced your brother. But Mommy would not be fooled by these superficial factors.  
There are two types of fellas who will ask you for a date. Both will show interest in you because he likes your appearance or personality, or both. But their deeper motivations are different.
   The Find. He's the one who sees you as a potential partner for life. He cares about the things you like and dislike. Although he may not yet know you well enough to know for sure if you're the one, he wants to treat you with respect, honor, and dignity, just in case you are.
   The Pretender. He's the one who doesn't care at all about your feelings or preferences. But he will pretend that he does because by doing so he hopes to use you to gratify his sexual desires.
Notice that both of these guys sound the same. So how can a girl tell the fake from the real thing? This is where dad can help.
When romance affects us personally, all of us hear two signals - one from the heart and one from the head. For most of us the heart usually wins. Although you may hear two messages, your dad is not hearing two messages. That's why it's important to listen to old dad.
Although he may be surprised, Mr. Right will not be discouraged when told he must ask my permission. In fact, he may be pleased that his possible future wife is a loved and cared-for daughter.
The Pretender, however, is far more likely to  get cold feet and look elsewhere to find his fun. This is where you must trust that God will send you just the right husband. You must realize that when a good-looking, heart-throb of a guy walks away after being told that he must see me first, this is God's way of sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Please remember this very important rule of love:
Unless that young man firsts respects you, he will never love you!
Girls, a boy is much more likely to behave like a gentleman and treat you like a lady if he knows that back home their is a dad who is vitally concerned about your well-being and who will hold him accountable for his behaviour. Conversely, if a guy thinks that no one really cares about this girl, he may not show you the respect that you want and deserve.
Which brings us to rule #2:
In a healty marriage relationship, the husband gives love to get sex, while the wife gives sex to get love.
Every teenage girl needs to know that the factors that motivate her to walk to the alter are different from the factors that motivate him. Although this tends to characterize men as sex-driven animals, please know that things like kindness, sensitivity, and the romantic instinct, though inborn in females, must commonly be learned by males.
Remember the Bible account where Jacob had to work seven years to earn Rachel as his wife? When the time had come, Jacob told Laban in Genesis 29:21: "Give me my wife, that I may go in unto her".
For her, the physical union with him is the moon and the stars, and a little white cottage by the edge of a meadow with golden haired children playing in the yard behind a white picket fence, etc. etc. For him, it can be little more than the satisfaction of an appetite, like a good meal or a bowel movement.
Courtship is a little like a business transaction. Each of you has something that the other needs. But a man will not pay for something if he can have it for free. If you surrender your negotiating tool before the deal is made, you may lose your benefit from the deal.
I know that it's not pleasant to compare romance with business, but please remember that he sees your relationship differently than you do.
Please be careful in this very important time of your life. Your mother and I would be nearly as devastated as you if you were to be hurt by this all too familiar cycle:
I looked at him, I liked him, I loved him, .... I let him, ...................I lost him.
If you be faithful to Jesus, and let the world know that you will not compromise your standards for anyone, God will bring you the man of your dreams.
39. How does he do it?
One of the cleverest tricks that Satan performs is the remarkable control he wields over the movie industry. If I were an unsaved Hollywood producer who wanted little more than another buck, I would seriously consider making movies that deal with the more terrifying aspects of Christ's teachings, namely Hell. Not that I would care one hoot about spreading "a bunch a of religious BS", but simply because I would want to cash in on movie-goers desire to be scared right out of their socks.
Wouldn't you love to see MGM produce, and Steven Spielburg direct, movies like John Bunyon's A Pilgrim's Progress, Dante's Inferno, Frank Perreti's This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, C. S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles and The Screwtape Letters, or even stories of eternal fright right from the Bible like Lazarus and the rich man, etc.? If done with a typical Hollywood budget and with recognized actors and actresses, wouldn't theaters be filled?
Yet it doesn't happen. How does Satan do it? Is it because we know that the feelings of fear that we experience from watching a flick like Friday the 13th are not real? Would the unsaved public be too timid to watch the real thing?
40. Desiderata Deo
Because 30 years have passed since my last Latin class, my structure probably stinks. But what I intend for this title to say is "Things that God wants." I forget what the possessive form of Deo is, but if someone smarter than me wants to correct me, I won't be offended.
Many years ago, perhaps in the sixties, I first read a collection of wisdom entitled Desiderata. I thought it was one of the most beautiful guidelines of life that I had ever read. It was set to music and became a top hit. I recorded both the song and its subsequent spoof, which was as funny as Desiderata was beautiful. My mother later gave me the plaque, which I still have. Since then, I have seen this "prayer" displayed in homes and offices everywhere. (By the way, the plaque said that Desiderata was found in Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore. It was dated 1692.) The title means something needed, and I fully agreed.
Yet, since I became a Christian in the mid 70s, I have revisited Desiderata several times. Each time I have come to the same conclusion. The first 75% is absolutely harmonious with the holy bible. But then something happens. You have probably read this before; but read it again, slowly and thoughtfully.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
Good stuff, huh? At this point, however, these beautiful thoughts deteriorate into a bunch of pantheistic, ecumenical drivel. Perhaps I should say that some of it does. Anyway, this is how I would finish Desiderata:
You are a child of the King and Creator of the universe, of far greater value than the stateliest tree, the noblest beast, or the brightest star; you are here by His eternal plan. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul, your brother, and your Lord and Savior.
Although much beauty may be found in this world between the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is not worthy to be compared with Heaven. Be faithful.
I call my version, which consists of mostly plagerism and simple editing, Desiderata Deo. I hope you like it.
41. A Prayer from Childhood
Speaking of prayers, every night as a young child my mother would recite with me the Lord's prayer and another prayer, which I have never heard anywhere else, any time, ever. It goes like this:
Grant unto us O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness and the serenity which comes from living close to Thee. Daily renew in us a sense of joy and let thy Holy Spirit dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner of our hearts with light and gladness. So that we bear about with us an infection of good courage. We may be diffusers of light, meeting all the comes of good or ill, even death itself, with gallant and high-hearted happiness. Giving Thee thanks always for all things.
42. Steve
Steve is a very intelligent and sensitive 18-year old young man who I had the pleasure of meeting on Friday, March 24, 1995 at the Drenk Mental Health Unit of Burlington County Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly. I first saw Steve when he sat down near me in one of the waiting areas. He seemed nervous and upset. Now I'm not the most congenial person around, but the Holy Spirit seemed to tell me to do something.
"How are you today?", I started.
"Terrible", said Steve.
"I understand those kinds of days. What makes today terrible for you."
Although Steve gave me an answer, it was obvious that I was much too nosy. After a pause, we talked about school, church, family and other safer topics for the next 10 to 20 minutes. Then I tried again.
"Steve, why do you think that your peers ridicule you"?
"Well, I guess one reason is my sssssssssspeach immmmm...pediment", said Steve.
It was true. Steve had a very obvious problem with talking. I was glad he mentioned it, though, because it gave me the opportunity to talk to him about my often unhappy experiences with this problem. I told Steve about that infamous game of Cat and Mouse way back in second grade. I was the cat and I was supposed to say, "What are you doing in my house, little mouse"? The mouse would say "Eating cheese, if you please." Finally, the cat would say "You better scat, because I'm the cat." before chasing the mouse through the house, which consisted of all the other kids in my second grade class.
Unfortunately, the game got no further than the sound of "Whaaaaa..whaaaaaaaaaaaa," coming from my mouth while all my classmates were laughing at me.
Then I had the opportunity to share with Steve what God had provided for us through His Son, Jesus. Steve listened thoughfully and respectfully, but he made no response.
I changed the subject. "What do you like to do in your spare time, Steve?"
"I study ancient English history", was the surprising answer.
"Really? What era is most interesting to you?"
"The sixth century, espicially the times of King Arthur."
Next, Steve told me all about the legendary king, his court and round table, his knights, Queen Guinivere, the sword, his evil son Mordred and much more and in remarkable detail. He said that he studied both the facts and the fables that surrounded this great king, and he he knew the difference.
"But Steve, how do you know the difference between the facts and the legends concerning King Arthur?"
"Well, you see, ... (a noticeable pause during which Steve seemed to be determining how much he could trust me) ... I was King Arthur!"
Next I learned facts about the great king that only Arthur himself would know. I learned his favorite food (roast pork) and his preferred temperature for drinking ale (lukewarm). Steve explained with tears of pain that he had forgiven Sir Lancelot for his affair with Guinivere. I learned that she is alive today and that he would find her.
Of course, I couldn't step inside Steve's mind and see for myself. But I am convinced that Steve is convinced that he was Arthur. When Steve and I parted, I prayed that he would find Guinivere ... and Jesus.
43. Then and Now
At first, this entry was part of the previous story about Steve. Although it relates, it also needs its own title.
I told Steve that while I was in the navy I recalled reading a book entitled The Here and the Hereafter. I don't recall the author or the publisher, but I do remember that the early chapters of this book were quite interesting. The book explained, and referred to several instances that confirmed, that hypnosis allows many people to recall facts from their life which they could not recall when fully concious. Some people can actually provide details about their own childbirth, or even life in their mother's womb!
But what happens when the subject is taken back beyond this point? Not surprisingly, most people remember nothing. But some people, when taken back to pre-birth times under hypnosis, begin to describe a totally new life. The book explained that when the same subject was taken back to the same period on another occasion, the subject would recall the same life with few or no differences or contradictory information.
Now I claim to be a born-again Christian. Because the Bible does not teach reincarnation, is my curiosity in a possible previous life a foothold for the enemy? Is hypnosis a tool of Satan? If my miniscule mental capacity cannot reconcile this apparent disparity between the unbiblical principle of recurring life and the biblical teaching of one life/one eternity, does that make investigation of this topic equal to heresy?
If there is a shred of evidence that any of this pre-life stuff is valid, such evidence is only the empirical evidence of a finite human mind. Some day I will be privilege to the infinite perspective of God. Then, I will see that reincarnation was no more than an intriguing intellectual pursuit, which could not put the smallest scratch in the absolute truth of God's Word.
44. Bravely, but Respectfully
I often find myself dreaming about the kind of Christian that I would be if God were to allow me to live in certain circumstances. The obvious question that follows is: What kind of Christian am I in the actual circumstances in which I live? As I cleverly sidestep that question, let me tell you about Fred, a 17-year-old high school junior who is also a fearlessly evangelistic Christian.
Fred attends a Quaker school, where he is an honor student. (This is important to Fred because he knows that his words will be more readily received if he has a godly attitude toward school and study.)
Fred zealously seeks out every opportunity to share the gospel. The Thursday meeting for worship was a constant problem for the school administrators, because every week Fred would use this as a forum for sharing his "hell-is-hot-and-sin-is-black" sermons. Guest speakers at the Wednesday morning religious life assembly frequently hear from Fred at the subsequent student discussions, especially if they offer a liberal religious philosophy. Though driven to share Christ wherever possible, Fred also realized that his ministry would be less fruitful if he were to show disrespect for authority.
Well, it was spring, and the time for the Junior public speaking contest was drawing near. Much to the disappointment of Mr. Hiatt, the headmaster, Fred was unanimously elected by his classmates to participate. This was a problem, because the auditorium would be filled with many important people; influential people of diverse religious backgrounds, who would be easily offended by the message that Fred would deliver. So Mr. Hiatt dealt with the problem in the manner that he felt would be most effective.
The day of the contest finally arrived. The auditorium was packed. The six best speakers in the Junior class, including Fred, sat on the stage. The contestants were nervous, but not as much as Mr. Hiatt. After each speaker was introduced, that speaker delivered a three-minute message.
Finally, it was Fred's turn. "And now speaking on the topic of difficult decisions is Fred Snodgrass"! Fred rose to his feet, walked to the podium, and carefully looked out to the audience.
"Good Morning," Fred began, "when you heard the topic on which I am speaking, those of you who know me well probably assumed what I am about to talk about. The difficult decision that I was referring to was mine, not yours. Let me explain.
"Two days ago, I was called to stand before a school administration meeting. There, I was told that if I tell you today that you need to accept Jesus Christ as your saviour, I may not be allowed to continue at this school. I was told that if tell you that without Christ you are lost and have no chance of going to Heaven, my status here is in jeopardy. Furthermore, I'll definitely be packing my bags if I say that Hell is terrible place where lost souls will spend eternity in absolute anguish. So if you heard something in the past minute that offended you, I want you to know that it's not their fault!
"I also want you to know that I didn't make this decision lightly. I don't want to look like some bratty punk who's using Christianity as an excuse to take cheap shots at authority. I value my education here. I respect Mr. Hiatt and the entire school administration. Up until the moment that I walked on stage, I thought that I would be talking to you about macrame. But when I saw your faces, I realized that I may never again have the opportunity to plead with you to avoid a Christless eternity in outer darkness. Thank you for listening. God bless you."
Fred returned to his seat to a trickle of applause, which quickly transformed into a thunderous, standing ovation. He won the contest, though no one really cared. He stayed in school. And many souls, including Mr. Hiatt's, were spared from that Christless eternity.
45. How I would Pray
It's now May of 1995, and I have been playing softball with the IBC men's team for several weeks now. Before every game and after every game both teams join hands and pray together. Usually Pastor Vince and the other team's pastor prays aloud while the rest of us bow our heads and pray silently.
I had been wondering how I would pray, if I were ever asked to do so. After thinking this over for about as long as I have playing with the team, I came up with the answer, which I share with you now:
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for Podunk Bible Church and for the ministry that you have entrusted to them. We also thank you for the gift of athletic competition and the enjoyment it brings to all of us here this evening.
Lord, help each of us to participate to the best of the abilities that you have given to each of us. But also let us remember that whoever wins or whoever loses today will be quickly forgotten. But the friendships we make and the fellowship we enjoy will last throughout all eternity.
Finally, Lord, we thank you for paying the debt that we could not pay at Calvary. In Jesus perfect name we pray, Amen.
46. Jack
I guess that you would call Jack Cavalier a typical lonely old man from a small town, but he was also very distinctive in his own way.
On 7/30/95, Kathy and I had dropped off Tabitha at the Mustard Seed Bible Camp for special kids in Zionsville, Pa. We rented a motel room nearby and the following morning we had breakfast at the McDonalds in Pennsburg. After we put down our tray, Jack came and sat at the next table.
I don't remember all the topics that he covered. He talked about sports, about OJ, about his military service back in WW2, about his family in Colorado, about the relationship between local property values and the race of their occupants, about the decline of moral fiber everywhere, and about God.
Kathy and I would occasionally offer some weak acknowledgements. I confess that I was beginning to feel a little resentful toward this meddlesome, senile intruder.
Eventually, Jack would stand up and dance, play Shake, Rattle, and Roll on a deflating balloon, and blow some disconnected notes on a harmonica that he pulled out of his pocket. (I vowed I'd never play my own harmonica again.)
"Lord, do something about my attitude toward this obnoxious distraction", was my quick and silent prayer. I wanted to call the management.
Unexpectedly, the topic jumped to God. It wouldn't have mattered if it hadn't. The Holy Spirit had equipped me with the words.
"Jack, have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?"
He seemed to answer my question by telling me about his church affiliations and his religious practices.
"That's great, Jack, but have you ever accepted God's free gift of salvation for your sins? He loved you so much that He died a shameful death for you; so that you can avoid everlasting torment in Hell and have a home forever in Heaven. Have you ever done anything about that, Jack?"
Again, his answer was a little evasive, but not as much so as the previous response.
I pressed again, "Jack, is Jesus your payment for your sins?"
"Yes!", he declared, "He's my Lord!"
We continued to talk until we had to go.
"Goodbye, Jack. Remember, we'll see you again."
Jack understood ... and agreed.
47. Speaking out about Defilement
There's a hypothetical conversation that is going through my mind. I first realized this on 8/7/95, while standing in line at Cumberland Farms convenience store on Route 73. I was aware of the dirty magazines that were behind the counter and thinking of how a conversation would unfold with my son, Barry Jr some five years ago. This conversation would be easily overheard by anyone in the vicinity.
"What are those magazines, Dad?"
"Son, that's what is known as pornography. It contains pictures of people doing evil activities without their clothes. Pornography is a powerful tool of the enemy of your soul, son. Flee from it."
"What makes it so bad, Dad?"
"Well, for one thing, pornography is an insult to your mother, to your sisters, to your aunts, and grandmothers, and to any female whom you respect and care about.
"But as dehumanizing as this literature is to women, what it does to men is far worse! When a man looks at this stuff, it creates strong feelings of sexual restlessness. In Chapter 6 of Proverbs, God asks an interesting academic question, where He says: Can a man take fire into his soul, and his clothes be not scorched?
"The implied answer, son, is a resounding NO, he can't. Indulging in smut will greatly hurt your fellowship with Jesus!
"Pornography can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol and just as destructive. In fact, even more so. I heard of reformed alcoholics and drug addicts. But the next reformed sex addict that I hear of will be the first.
"The blood of Christ can break the power of sin in the vilest pervert! I've heard the testimony of believers who have been rescued from the ravages of every chemical. But I must confess, I never heard such testimonly from a reformed fornicator who was deeply entrenched in his habit. There's an important message in that, son."
48. How would you Answer?
Have you ever been asked by an unbeliever, "Well if I accept Jesus as my Saviour, do a have to give up my drinking?" Of course, any sin could fit here; swearing, lying, adultery, selfishness, etc. I have received this question more than once. And the answer should be carefully considered.
If I say "yes", I could easily give the impression that salvation comes by Jesus and some hard work on my part. But if I say "no", I ignore clear biblical teaching that salvation results in a changed life.
Salvation is not a contractural relationship with God. It's a good thing, too, because we are woefully incapable of keeping our part of the contract.
Instead, it's a heart relationship. When the unsaved asks me, " Do I gotta do this and do I gotta stop doing that", that question tells me that I have not yet explained salvation. Salvation means that we replace the "gotta's" with "wanna's". When I receive Christ as saviour, the highest desire of my heart is to please Him.
I don't gotta do it to be saved. Jesus took care of that. But I wanna do it.
49. Evangelism Tip #3
I recall that several years ago I got involved in a pick-up game of Hoops with some unbelievers. One of these fellows had a rather vulgar tongue. During the game he would let expletives fly across the court; not due to disappointing play, but just due to the way he talks.
Finally, he used the name of my Lord and Saviour to help him express his frustration over a missed shot.
Without warning, I heard myself saying loud enough to be heard by all, "He is a wonderful Saviour, isn't He?"
Hey, the awful language stopped. Even the unsaved respect the name of Jesus, even if they don't know why.
Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. Phillipians 2:10,11.
50. The Inner Battle Revealed!
Ben (my former coworker, not my nephew) would often try to tempt me; not seriously, perhaps, but at least in an attempt to incite another of our discussions. He might say, "Hey Barry, do you want to go to the White House for lunch?"
Now when Ben refers to the White House, he does not mean a visit to the first family. Instead, he is referring to a little white building on Route 73 between Route 130 and Forklanding Road. It is a place where carnal men pay money to watch women do evil things. It is a place where no Child of God should be seen.
"Ben, there's a part of me that would love to go!", I reply.
"Great!, meet me at my car at noon!" Actually, Ben's not serious. Although he's not a Christian, he would never visit that place. He knows, but hesitates to admit, that there is something there that would permanently stain him.
"But Ben, there is another part of me that would be greatly harmed. You see, part of me would greatly enjoy the pleasure of sin. The question is, can you offer that pleasure without a trace of guilt, shame, remorse, or even a lingering desire to do it again? If you can, Ben, it's my treat and I'll drive!"
"Maybe I could, Barry, if you gave me the opportunity to desensitize you to your silly moral taboos."
"I agree that you could if I gave you such an opportunity. But such a path would lead to destruction. Remember when you smoked that first cigarette? You coughed wildly and your eyes watered, as your body was trying to give you the loudest message that it could give. But as you continued smoking, the coughing subsided and you comfortably began your downhill ride to cancer.
Likewise, Ben, if I ignore the Holy Spirit's first warning, I will lose my sensitivity to God's voice, and quickly lose my fellowship with God first and then my family."
For the Flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh, and they are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would. Galatians 5:17
51. The Movie! not the Christmas Tradition
On the last Saturday of 1995, we watched Pollyanna, a Walt Disney movie that we borrowed from the library.
This flick captured my attention right away due to three reasons, all of which pertain to the character that was played by Karl Malden:
   His name was Ford.
   He played the part of a small town country preacher.
   Except for Jesus's words Himself, never have I ever watched a movie, or listened to a any sermon, that so graphically (and accurately) describes the horrors of a Christless eternity than what I witnessed in this movie.
A major theme of this movie is the transformation of Reverend Ford. Though he preaches the most sobering "Hell-is-hot-and-sin-is-black" messages imaginable, he has an attitude that is unbecoming to a preacher, or any Child of God. Rev. Ford is cold, distant, and aloof. Instead of using a tenderly broken heart to lovingly warn his flock of the reality of God's holiness and judgment, he has a smug "it'll-serve-you-right" demeanor.
But, thanks to the charming ways of Pollyanna, Hayley Mills' character, Rev. Ford sees the errors of his ways, and becomes a kind, compassionate pastor. However, his messages become softer, gentler, and far less terrifying. The unfortunate implication is that both the message and the messenger have made some very necessary improvements. Whatever concern that his old sermons had created within the hearts of his congregation for their individual eternal destinies could now be safely disregarded.
What I would have liked to have seen and heard was the same old message; only delivered from the broken heart of God's servant who is pleading for his sheep to return to the loving Shepherd of their souls. (I Peter 2:25)
52 Double-Minded Music
I understand that the beautiful Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was once a beer-drinking song until John Newton, a born-again song writer, replaced those original lyrics that promoted debauchery with words of hope, joy, and eternal confidence. Why don't today's Christian songwriters do the same? After all, there is certainly no shortage of material.
Perhaps you already found the entry in Chapter 2, Miscellaneous, that lists my favorite music. The intent there is to inform you of what external sounds cause the most pleasurable responses in the brain of Barry Ford Sr. All music listed therein has lyrics and notes that I enjoy.
But what about beautiful music that includes lyrics that I don't particularly like. Because this condition is usually due to my Christian beliefs, these songs would be an excellent starting point from which a Godly composer could create some truly inspirational music. Here are some examples:
   Does the Beatles' Hey Jude refer to seeking God in prayer via Saint Jude, as many of our Roman Catholic friends do? Barry Jr. seems to think not. If not, why couldn't they sing Hey Fred, or something? But I love the feelings I have when I listen to this.
   The Beatles also did a beautiful job with Let It Be. Unfortunately, like many good Catholics, they elevated Mary to divinity. Mary, herself, would be quite embarrassed by such acclaim, since she spoke of her own need of a Saviour for her sins. Yet the music haunts me. Why couldn't they sing: "When I find myself in times of trouble, Jesus comes to comfort me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be."?
   Several years later, the Beatles' influence continues with Paul McCartney's Imagine. How often I have found myself starting to sing along with this pleasant tune only to bite my tongue. This song seems to dream of the day when a Godless utopian society arrives. Remember the words, "and no religion, too"?
   One of the most beautiful of all contemporary American ballads is American Pie by Don Mclean. While the song correctly states that music can wield a powerful influence upon the spirit of a man, I doubt that neither "Satan was dancing with delight" nor that the holy trinity left town "the day Rock music died".
   Flowers never bend with the Rainfall is one of the more obscure, yet most musically entertaining, works by Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkle. Yet, the song speaks of such hopelessness, even in the full awareness of God's presence. "I'm blinded by the light, of God and truth and right, and I wander through the night, without direction". With each chorus the song sadly encourages the listener to continue living with feigned optimism.
   Love the one you're with has a fast-paced and captivating musical style. I don't recall the artist, but the refrain reminds us over and over again: "If you can't be with the one you love, Honey, love the one you're with"! Any questions?
   Ave Maria is some of the most beautiful music ever. Unfortunately, the song is used by our RC friends to promote Mary to deity, even though Mary herself acknowledged her own need for a saviour.
   C...., You know it ain't easy is the type of captivating music that takes my brain hostage for days at a time as the refrain is constantly lurking in my mind and often escaping my lips as well. Each time it does, however, I must ask forgiveness for breaking the third commandment. The artist, one of the former Beatles, uses the name of my Lord and Saviour to help express his feelings, as the title reveals.  
   Fire, by Jim Morrison and the Doors, is a song by an unsaved artist that lays out the unredeemed sinner's eternity rather accurately. "You've worked hard and you saved and you earned. Now everything is going to burn", are some of the more significant lyrics. Perhaps this music needs no changes.
   My Sweet Lord, by George Harrison, fooled me. I thought it was a song of praise for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. After all, "I really want to see you, I really want to know you, I really want to be with you" are lyrics that suggest a strong desire to be closer to Him. Unfortunately, the refrain plainly changes from "Halelujah" to "Hare Krishna" somewhere near the end of the music.
By the way, I learned that the Beatles were successfully sued by the writer of the oldie, "He's so fine", for stealing the music and adding the words of "My Sweet Lord". The radio DJ said he couldn't hear the similarity. Neither can I.
53.   "I'm an Alcoholic"
At the 1/17/96 prayer meeting at IBC, Paster Leo discussed the importance of naming that personal sin when coming to God for forgiveness. "Anyone can call himself a sinner. After all, it's a prerequisite to get to Heaven. But can we name that sin which tempts us, and often defeats us? That's harder"!
His words reminded me of an organization that fully understands this, and practices it. I'm referring to Alcoholics Anonymous. I read many years ago that whenever AA members greet one another, or even outsiders sometimes, they will say:
"Hi, I'm George. I'm an alcoholic".
When I meet someone for the first time, I instinctively want that person to have a positive impression of me. Now what could be the purpose of such an introduction? I think that such a greeting is intended to say this:
"I'm a very frail human being. Right now I'm sober, and for me such a condition is a gift of God, for which I am very grateful. My present sobriety is due to His protection, and not due to my futile efforts. The difference between my current state and one of total drunkenness is a very, very small one, indeed. The slightest temptation, perhaps imperceptible to others, could destroy me. Therefore, I must take extreme precautions that many may consider foolish or eccentric. I share this information with you, not for sympathy, but for your understanding and prayers".
Now shouldn't Christians who are seriously concerned about sin and temptation in their personal lives have a similar attitude? Shouldn't they have a similar awareness of their own vulnerability and their woeful inability to guard themselves from the enemy's lure?
Of course they should! Therefore, I suggest that Christians stop this stupid facade for two reasons. Firstly, I'm not nearly as nice a guy as I pretend to be when I greet someone for the first time. Secondly, such self glorification steals glory from God. Instead, let's consider changing our greeting style to match our spiritual temptation, as follows:
And how would we respond? Well, suppose Paul had just introduced himself to me. This might be my response:
"Hi Paul, I'm Barry. I'm a pervert too, as well as a liar. I praise God for your personal sensitivity to temptation and sin. Although I'll never ask you to babysit my children, I want you to know that I love you as a brother in Christ. I'm especially grateful for the grace and courage that Jesus has given you to share this with me. I'll pray for you and do whatever I can to guard you from your temptation".
54. Mr. S
Mr. S was Barry Jr.'s seventh grade basketball coach. He was an older, white-haired man who used his raspy voice from the sidelines to prod his troops on to their best possible performance. He was a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point kind of coach and person. (S was short for Siniskowski or some such complicated name. He wanted to be called Mr. S.)
I suppose I include this entry because it's the latest in the category entitled, "You can't judge printed material by it's copyright". You see, at the end of Barry's basketball schedule that year, Mr. S gave each player a handmade book that recognized each player's personal accomplishments.
But what really blew me away was what was written on the last page. Here it is:
Help me be a good sport in the game of life. I don't ask for an easy place in the lineup. Put me anywhere you need me. I only ask that I can give you 100% of everything I have. If all the hard drives seem to come my way, I thank you for the compliment. Help me remember that you never send a player more trouble than he can handle.
And, help me, Lord, to accept the bad breaks as part of the game. May I always play on the square, no matter what the others do. Help me study the Book so I'll know the rules.
Finally, God, if the natural turn of events goes against me and I'm benched for sickness or old age, help me accept that as part of the game, too. Keep me from whimpering that I was framed or that I got a raw deal. And when I finish the final inning, I ask for no laurels. All I want is to believe in my hart that I played as well as I could and that I didn't let you down.
55.   No Excuse!
Here's one of the best billboards that I have ever seen next to a public highway. I found this sign along route I-95 heading north just above the Cottman Avenue entrance. The time was January, 1996. If I ever find out where the 10th Presbyterian Church is, I will write them a letter thanking them for the message.

56. Glen
Last night (5/9/96), I had the opportunity to talk to Tabitha's boy friend, Glen, about life, death, God, the Bible, eternity, and salvation. I suppose that I had become evangelistically lazy. I had forgotten the thrill of sharing the most important information that could ever be shared.
This morning (5/10/96), I talked to Barry about the experience with Barry on the way to school. I told him that I would be a very proud dad if Barry were to be suspended from school ...  for the right reason, of course. That reason would be his relentless, unwavering desire to introduce classmates and teachers to his Best Friend, Jesus. Despite warnings from the principal, school board, the ACLU, and several other important sources, he wouldn't shut up about his Saviour.
Of course, I shouldn't expect Barry to have a greater desire for souls than my own desire.
Dear Jesus, help me to have a greater desire to tell others of you, without embarrassment or fear.
And they that are wise shall shine with the brightness of the firmament, and those that turn many to righteousness as the stars, forever and ever. Daniel 12:3.
57. Where is that Bell?
I have often found myself intrigued and sometimes confused by the architecture of my church building, Immanual Baptist Church of Maple Shade, N.J. Why this is so is due to its nonrectangular construction. Perhaps this design is because the original church included an add-on some 30 years ago. Whatever the reason, the building has several interesting quirks, rooms, and passageways.
This is a trivia quiz about my church building. Some day I hope to administer this quiz to other members and visitors. It may even happen tonight (12/27/96) at the FROGs dinner, although no one is expecting this to happen. Anyway, here we go:
   How many entrances are there to the church building from the outside?
   Now we all know that the sanctuary has two columns of pews that run from front to back. But how many rows are in each column of pews?
   How many windows are on each side of the sanctuary?
   The church building includes how many rest rooms?
   What bible verse appears in the front stained glass window? (I want the book, chapter and verse and the passage itself. After all it's been in front of your faces every Sunday!)
   The next question is about stairways. Now we know that when we enter the building from the parking lot, there are steps that take us up to the sanctuary level and steps that go down to the basement. Also, there are steps that lead from the sanctuary level up to the balcony. Further, there are steps from the front door on Poplar Avenue that lead up to the sanctuary level. Then there steps that lead from the basement up to the large back room where the younger children have Sunday school. And of course there are steps that connect different levels in the basement (even in the men's room). But there is one more stairway at IBC that I did not mention. I call it the secret stairway. Where is it?
   Somewhere on the church premises there is a big metal bell. I won't say whether it's inside or outside, but it's in plain view. Where is this bell?
   What bible verse is displayed above the water fountain in the basement?
   There is a word that I have heard mentioned only at IBC. For a long time I thought that this word was unique to IBC, until I discovered it in the dictionary. It means a church vestibule. From the pulpit, it is commonly announced that signups for various activities will take place in this area. What is this word?
   The final question pertains to the name of our church body. The word Immanual appears two times in the Bible, both in the same book. What book is it?
58. Rationalization
For the past 10 years a middle aged husband and father has betrayed the trust of a few friends of his immediate family. The nature of this betrayal is such that only he and Jesus know. To the best of his knowledge, no one else is aware of this sin.
The nature of this betrayal is such that none of his victims will ever be harmed by his sin, unless they find out. If that were to happen, the relationship  between him and the betrayed friends would be quickly ended, perhaps forever. Material restitution for this sin is not possible, because he stole something that cannot be repayed.
He is a born-again believer who is greatly troubled by his dirty little secrret. So how does he reconcile his sin with his faith? He uses the story of the publican and the Pharisee to justify himself.
How?  His careful  study of this passage seems to indicate that God prefers a sinner who is troubled by his sin  to a man who proudly boasts of his moral life. He notes that the publican only bewails his transgressions;  there is no indication that he actually turns from his sinful vocation.
Furthermore, he reasons that his sin is actually protecting him from God's most detestable sin, which is pride.  He remembers that before he fell into this behaviour, he would often derive a certain satisfaction from his goodness, an attitude that he now knows greatly displeased his Saviour (Proverbs 6:17).
"Jesus allowed this temptation and fall", he claims (ignoring James 1:13), "because He greatly desires a hopeless dependence on Him.  And until I mature, this is where He wants me to remain. He would rather that I remain a publican who is distraught over his sin than become a Pharisee who feels that his righteousness needs no saviour."
59. Comparative Sanctification
Once there was a puny little Volkswagen, who simply had no power is his life. He felt defeated by every obstacle in the road because he just didn't have the drive to overcome them.
Then one glorious day a wonderful gift was  bestowed upon him. He received by no merit of his own, a tuneup from a kind and caring mechanic. Immediately, his life was completely changed. Now he could zip down the interstate, even pass a few surprised laggards. Now he could move up Heartbreak Hill at a respectable pace, without gathering a lineup of annoyed and impatient cars and without sounding like Chugga, Chugga.
He was very happy. So happy that he told all his friends. He told the Escort, and the old Pinto, and the spunky little Neon. After he told all his friends of his new life, he went out and told every stranger that he happened to encounter at each traffic light and stop sign.
Due to his enthusiasm and love for his fellow vehicles, he just couldn't keep this wonderful news to himself. As a result, many others came to the mechanic for their own tuneup. They too were changed, and like the VW, told still others.
Then one day our little friend met a Cadillac next to him at a parking lot. "You know, Mr. Cadillac, you really should go to the mechanic and receive this wonderful gift. I did, and my life has been wonderful.  Etc, etc."
"Whoa! Back off, Bucko!. You know, I was watching you the last time you took on Heartbreak Hill. You needed  nearly 2 full minutes to reach the crest of the hill from the stop sign at the base. I consistently climb that hill in less than one minute without trying. And you are telling me that I should have this same gift that you have? What a hypocrite! You have this supposedly marvelous gift, but you don't  act like it! I don't need your stupid gift! I'm a Cadillac."  
The little VW felt embarrassed and ashamed. He knew the Cadillac was right. So how could he show him his need when he didn't have the inner power to defeat  a simple obstacle like Heartbreak Hill? He thought of the discredit that his inconsistant life was bringing to his loving mechanic. O how that hurt.
60. My First Christmas
We attended the Christmas Eve service at Immanual Baptist Church on the evening of 12/24/97. That evening, several people participated in the service, including eight of the kids in our family. They sang Silent Night and Joy to the World.
Earlier that day I felt that the Holy Spirit wanted me to participate in this service as well. I thought that I might have time to do so if I called Paster Vince right away.
When I shared this with Kathy, she discouraged me from doing this. She felt that I might steal the praise from the children. She felt that I might simply want to show off, giving myself the glory instead of Jesus. She said that she would be embarrassed.
Although disappointed and confused by her objections, I did not pursue this plan. I suppose her most pressing reason is that I might come across as some "Mighty Joe Christian" when she feels that there is room for improvement in my treatment of her.
Anyway, here is what I would say.
Good evening and merry Christmas.
This evening, I want to share with you the second most important moment in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And, for me, this moment relates to Christmas.
I suppose that all of us can remember when we decided to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. I certainly can. It was July of 1976. No other instant in history past or future will ever have greater significance for Barry Ford, personally.
But tonight I want to tell you about number 2. And that happened a few weeks before Christmas of 1976, the first Christmas after I was adopted into the family of God.  Actually, at that time, I was entering into another family as well. Kathy and I met the previous winter, engaged in August, and planned to marry the following June.
Perhaps you noticed that I'm holding a harmonica. I began playing this when I was a early teen. (My present skill isn't commeasurate with the time since then.) I would try to play various music that I like on my instument.
Anyway, when the 1976 Christmas season arrived, I started hearing the music again. But this year was different. I heard it for the first time.
Well, one evening that Christmastime, I pulled out the harmonica with the intent to try Silent Night for the first time. Although Silent Night is not a very challenging tune, I still missed a few notes. But I'll never forget that as I began the first "Sleep in Heavenly Peace, I could not continue. As some musicians who play wind instruments say, I lost my lip. I couldn't continue because at that moment the Holy Spirit showed me what Christmas was all about.
All the earlier Christmases were folklore and fairytales. That was the first Christmas that made sense!
The Holy Spirit told King David to write, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy Salvation!". For me that has always been a Christmas verse.
Anyway, I'm about to play just one verse of Silent Night. And as I do, I want each of you to think about your first Christmas as a child of God. In fact, if you can, try to remember that first time you heard this Christmas song as a Christian. I know it had an effect on you.
            Silent Night.
God bless you and Merry Christmas.
61. Worms
Black: my sin before the...
Red: Blood of Jesus...
White: washed me this clean.
Gold: Someday I will walk someday on heavenly streets because I now have...
Green: everlasting life
62. Titanic Ramifications
On Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7, Kathy and I had one of our getaways. Tabitha stayed with Mrs. Kirkland, a respite care-giver that was provided by DDD and Cherish stayed with my mother. Kathy and I went to Ocean City.
As usual, we stayed at the Economy Motel in Somers Point. We fell asleep watching a stupid movie and the following morning we ate at the Chatterbox in Ocean City. Then we went to the boardwalk.
A few stores were open. We went in and out of several of them as the time approached three PM. The sky was overcast and drizzly after we left the last store. We didn't want to leave.
We noticed that Titanic was playing at the Strand Theater on the boardwalk. The next show began at 3:30. This was the movie that was about to break all box office records, including ET and Star Wars. Further, the matinee cost less than $5. The circumstances seemed perfect.
The rating was PG-13. So I asked the young fellow behind the counter why this rating was given to this movie. He said, "There is about 10 seconds of nudity in the middle of this movie."  That's when it began.
Kathy wanted to see this movie... bad.  "I'll just give you a nudge when the bad part comes on and you simple take off your glasses and look away until it's over."
"Look Hon, it's not that easy when you live inside a body that's influenced by the male sex drive. If we buy a ticket and go in and sit in front ot this movie, I don't know that I will have the strength to look away when I should."
"In that case, we will simply walk out to the lobby when it's about to get bad."
"No good. I'll be walking slowly with my face toward the screen. The time to fight this temptation is now, before we enter. If we don't, you will be very angry with me when we leave."
We went back and forth like this for several minutes. Kathy went on to say that several Christian friends said it was a nice movie, and after all it is PG-13. We have never seen explicit nudity in a PG-13 movie yet. Maybe he meant implied nudity.  I capitulated when she threatened to ruin the rest of the day.
Kathy put us near the back next to the aisle. This would allow a quick escape when things got steamy. It won't work, I thought. I had already reasoned that because she had deserted one of the most important ministries that Jesus had ever entrusted to her, namely the spiritual protection of her husband from sexual temptation, I had decided to enjoy every sinful pleasure that this movie would offer.
The move was beautifully made. The computer graphics were indistinguishable from the real action. The acting was first rate. The story was captivating. The music was haunting. The good characteristics of this move were indeed, very, very good.
But the bad was just as bad as the good was good, only worse. There was about 10 seconds of explicit female nudity. I was amazed that anyone could rate this movie as a PG-13.
I looked and then I looked away and then I looked again.  I'm embarrassed to say that I kept my promise to myself.
Here is a complete and unabridged list of all parties that are responsible for my sin:
   Kathy. Normally, you are very protective of your husband in this critical area of temptation. But today you wanted to be entertained far more than you wanted to carry out this responsibility that Jesus gave to you way back on June 12, 1977.
SLAB. First SB. Scott, Barry, When you saw this movie for the very first time, you may have been surprised to see what you saw. Like Mom and I, perhaps you simply didn't expect a PG-13 movie to be so obscene. When that scene arrived, an alarm activated in your minds, just as it did in mine. You both were aware that something very enjoyable, but very harmful, was in front of your eyes. But you both watched this movie again. When you sat down to watch the second time, you knew, and the Holy Spirit knows that you knew, what was coming. Fellas, if you allow your eyes and minds to absorb sexual stimuli, your marriages and lives could be destroyed. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he", says Solomon in Proverbs 23. Job says, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; therefore, I will not look upon a woman." Please learn from these men.
Next, LA. Lindsay, April,  I know both of you well enough to know that neither of you could have felt very comfortable sitting in the theater next to your boy friends while an image of a naked female was in front of you. You may have been surprised the first time, but you chose to put yourself in that position each time thereafter. Just because you both have only a negligible trace of male hormones in your blood streams, does not excuse you from guarding your future marriages. If you continue to tacitly approve of your future husbands exposure to this type of entertainment, the consequences to your future marriages could be tragic. If you had expressed your honest feelings to Barry and Scott after the first time, I know both of them care enough for each of you to respect those feelings.
All four of you had seen this movie at least two times before Mom and I saw it once. Yet, you never warned us. When important things are happening, silence is a lie!
   Mr. James Cameron. As director of one of the most successful movies in the history of cinema, I'm certain that he is a very wealthy  and influential man right now. Regrettably, someday he may have to give an account to Jesus Christ himself for several reasons that pertain to the Titanic:
   Of course, he will be held responsible for that scene which could contribute to the ruination of husbands and fathers and families everywhere.
   Also, there was a significant amount of vulgar language, especially near the beginning.
   I noticed a small, but perceptable anti-Christian influence. The on-board worship service consisted of mostly the wealthy, the arrogant, and the superficial and self-centered first class travelers. Remember the preacher who was reciting scripture from Revelation that describes the glories of Heaven while the stern was slipping under the waves? He didn't seem genuine to me. But during the height of the crisis,  the quartet did play "Nearer my God to Thee". Perhaps I'm a little too sensitive in this area.
   Finally, like many movies, Titanic glorifies fornication. The scene itself is not too bad. But the movie uses the arrogance and insensitivity of Rose's fiance to justify an affair with Jack. Because this movie is especially popular with teenage girls, its influence could result in more teenage promiscuity.
If Mr. Cameron had simply made a few simple changes, the result would be a family movie that everyone could enjoy. Of course, the nudity and the language are easy to remove. But the relationship between Rose and Jack is the central theme of the story. How can that be changed?
What if the story were presented to be more sympathetic to Rose's fiance? Then his character strengths could be emphasized and we would learn more about Jack's less shining qualities. Couldn't this story be just as powerful using virtuous heros and heroines and bad guys who are clearly bad? I think so.
   Ms. Kate Winslet. The heroine of this story needs to be told that that the body that Jesus has given her is for the exclusive enjoyment of just one person, who is the husband that He gives to her. He did not intend it to be sold for the sinful enjoyment of moviegoers.
   The Movie Rating Board. These people lied to me. They labeled this entertainment PG-13, stating that the nude scene had "redeeming artistic value".
   My Pastor. What on earth could my pastor have to do with any of this? Well, I learned from Barry that he spoke to the college-age group one Wednesday night about this subject. According to Barry, when my pastor went to see this movie, he said he simply looked away when the bad scene arrived.Now this is the commendable and honorable course of action for any mature Christian man. However, this shows insensitivity to his weaker Christian brother.
Before I became a Christian, my life was not characterized by moral restraint. In fact, if the Holy Spirit had not intervened in my life way back in 1976 when I was just 28 years old, the chances are reasonable that I would have perished long ago from some insidious STD, and my soul would now be languishing in Hell.
I compare myself to a redeemed alcoholic. Although he loves his Saviour intensely, he recognizes that something as simple as the whiff of a wine bottle cork is enough to destoy his life. As a result, he must take precautions that may seem extreme to other Christians.
Similarly, I must take precautions that other Christians may feel are extreme. I must fight temptation of this nature before it is in front of my face; otherwise, I will lose that battle to the enemy .  
One of the most significant benefits of growing up in a Christian home is the spiritual protection that a pair of godly parents can provide to their children. However, I suppose that my pastor may have more difficulty understanding the gravity of temptation than a pastor who was rescued from the enemy later in life.
Guard that flock, Pastor! If you know that a movie could be harmful to any of your sheep, warn them, from the pulpit if necessary. Protect them from the wolf who wants to devour them. Just looking away may be enough for many, but it's woefully lacking for some.
   me. Having distributed the blame generously to as many as I can think of, I recognize that I willfully and deliberately chose to sin. Forgive me Lord.
But the most sobering message from this movie and from the disaster itself is the one about me. Perilous situations tend to declare who we really are. If I had been on that ship, what kind of person would I be? Would I have been that musician who valiantly lead his comrades in "Nearer my God to Thee"? If I had been trapped below, would I have been that mother who fearlessly tucked in her children, confident that they would arise in the arms of Jesus?
Or, would I be desparately looking for a life boat, using whatever cowardly means were at hand to do so? Although not shown in the movie, I understand that there were some accounts of men who disguised themselves as women to escape the ship.
I like to think that my faith will enable me to endure any threat against my life; facing my earthly departure with joyful confidence. Some day I will face death, perhaps not by water, but it's inevitability will be inescapable at that day. How I respond will be determined by the day-by-day elements that I am building into my life before then.
Dear Jesus, help me to live that type of life that I will wish I had when I enter into your presence. Amen.
63. Pots and Pans
Kathy, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am not a very good communicator. The journey to this momentous destination has not always been a comfortable one.
Jesus wants me to tell you when you either do or say things that hurt me. I intend to use this entry to do so.  
But before I begin, I will keep a promise to you that I have failed to keep many, many times over the years of our marriage. I will first tell you what I like about you, what I admire about you, what I appreciate about you, and what I desparately need about you.
First, I like how you always take the time to look your very best. Unlike me, you have never embarrassed your spouse in public by careless attire or sloppy personal attention to basics.
Second, I am so greatful for your capacity that Jesus has given to you to care. When a family need arises, you respond totally without one thought of what this will costyou in money, time, sleep, or emotional reserve.
Also, you live that verse from Proverbs 12, which says, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband". I never give a thought toward the possibility of another man, because you are faithful in everything you do.
Having said all this, I'm not even sure that I want to continue. I have good feelings toward you and to be honest the details of the offense have become hazy. But I know that I should continue.
Unfortunatly, I wated too long to finish this entry. I've forgotten the details of the offense. Oh well, wait `till next time.
Ok, the next time just happened. I was sleeping in our bed one evening. When you came to bed, you saw your favorite cover wrapped around my feet. You slapped my on my legs and scolded me sharply for using your blanket to cover my sore toe.
I apologized. It was dark and I was sleepy and my pillow was missing. I used my own blanket for a pillow and I found what I thought was a different blanket on the floor.
Kathy, the words that you used and the actions that you had taken hurt me. But you refused to apologize. How you reacted told me that your blanket was more important to you than our relationship.
This scenario has replayed itself many many times in our VCR called marriage. The details may vary, but the attitudes are constant.
During the years of our marriage you have often told me that I am harboring resentment toward you. I would always deny this because I was convinced that I was not a resentful person.
But recently I have discovered evidence that has forced me to rethink this issue. Often, I find myself reacting toward matters that concern you with less than my best attitude toward you. These reactions would be instinctive, often subconcious.
Later, I would think about my earlier behaviour and wonder why I didn't do better toward you. With little or no extra effort (and sometimes with less effort) I could have responded in ways that were more beneficial for you.
The only answer that I could find was resentment. This resentment would be due to unapologized, unforgiven offenses in which you communicated to me that our relationship was not as important as something as trivial as a blanket.
Now Jesus doesn't want me to hold onto these attitudes. Instead, He wants me to either forget them or come to you, state my case and allow you to do what you should to bring healing.
64. Dear Abby
Abby, I believe that it was in your column way back in the spring of '98 in which you suggest the use of masturbation as a means by which an otherwise sexually active person can exercise more restraint. This letter describes both what I have observed and experienced.
First of all, I'm a born again, Bible-believing Christian. I find only two Scripture passages, Genesis 38:8,9 and I Corinthians 7:3,4, that only vaguely discuss this subject. Neither clearly defines God's opinion of this activity.  In fact, Dr. Tim Lahaye, perhaps the foremost authority on the subject of human sexuality from a biblical perspective, says "There is nothing in the Bible that specifically condemns masturbation. So we cannot be dogmatic on this point."  
I learned as a young teenager that winning the affections of a female is much more difficult than simply gratifying my newly discovered sexual desires myself. The physical and emotional ramifications of sex with another person were not worth the momentary pleasure. Because masturbation offered much of the same feeling with none of the unwanted emotional entanglements, I became hooked.
Throughout my teens and well into my 20s I provided my own sexual pleasures, while remaining a virgin. This changed when I joined the "sexual revolution" of the 70s. However, I continued to masturbate at a far greater rate than attempt to enjoy a woman's intimacy. Although normal sex was more satisfying, self-sex was more convenient and less expensive.
For me at least, masturbation requires an image, either visual or mental, which I would use for my own stimulation. I would use the images that my mind would capture during my promiscuous sex to fuel my masturbation.
I assumed that when I met the right girl, I would marry and my self-centered habit would simply go away. It wasn't that easy.
Soon, I met my future wife and we married. Like most newlyweds, we had lots of sex. But that's when I first discovered my addiction. Often wasn't often enough. Due to my Christian faith, I refused to even consider an extramarital affair. So, throughout our early years I would often supplement our intercourse in order to feel more satisfied.
That's when I began to learn how and why God designed the male sex drive in the way He has. He made him to be physically attracted to her, which motivates him to do and say the things that creates affectionate feelings in her. He gives love to get sex and she gives sex to get love. The result is a strong relationship and a healthy family.
In fact, I fully believe that the vast majority of the greatest human accomplishments throughout history can be attributed to a properly channeled male sex drive. I know these are fightin' words in this day and age, but can anyone honestly say it ain't so?
But I was siphoning off much of that energy from my marriage. The result was a poorer marriage relationship because I was less motivated to please her . My relationship with God through Jesus has helped enormously, but the struggle continues. In fact, Dr. LaHaye's next statement is "But masturbation does tend to undermine that one-flesh relationship that God has designed between man and wife."
Abby, I'm sure that the comments you made on this subject several months ago were motivated by your concern about the dangers of the improperly channeled male sex drive. Please understand, however, that masturbation is like the safety valve on a steam generator. Although that boiler will never explode if you leave the safety valve open, it won't get much work done either.  
Furthermore, masturbation requires a mental fantasy, as I mentioned earlier. But God wants his children to maintain a pure thought life. While we may quibble about His opinion of auto-erotism, His views about mental purity are quite clear. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he", declares the Holy Spirit in Proverbs. So then, you are what you think, as well as eat.
And by the way Abby, that old legend that says masturbation causes blindness is not completely without substance. Masturbation causes a much sharper rise in blood pressure compared to normal sex. Over the course of many years, this activity can gradually deteriorate sensitive tissue, such as the retina.
In other words, masturbation is not a panacea. Instead, it's a powerful medicine with side effects that should be fully understood before anyone uses it.
65. An Unexpected Find
On 6/25/98, I found these words written on the back side of an old shopping list that had somehow missed the trash can.
Contentment is natural wealth.
Luxury is artificial poverty.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
Cherish - Study Spelling
  66. Me and John Newton
I'll guess that the world's most popular love song to Jesus is Amazing Grace. Everyone loves this melody and lyrics, both believer and unbeliever alike. But I wonder how many know that the writer of this wonderful music, John Newton, had taken it from an old beer drinking tune.
Well, the Holy Spirit may have given me some music that also can glorify my Savior. For the past 40 years, the lyrics from an advertising jingle for Ballantine Beer, a sponsor of the Philadelphia Phillies TV broadcasts, have been bouncing around in my head. After I became a Christian in the mid-70's, I gradually came to realize that I wouldn't need the musical prowess of Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, or Bill Gaither to sanctify this tune.
This song poses a series of questions that asks how our Lord and a few of His divine characteristics compare with several simple earthly pleasures. The music concludes with the answer, which plainly states that the Holy Spirit greatly exceeds the spirit that can be produced from these various enjoyments.
Unlike Amazing Grace, sing this song with unbridled enthusiasm. Click here to see the music and lyrics.
I hope you like it.
67. Boat Note
Another ministry to which Jesus seems to nudging me is the ministry of sharing ideas. Chapter one of this opus that I call Ruminations contains ideas. Unless I share them, no one will ever know.
Proverbs 18:16 says "A man's gift maketh room for him." Therefore, I plan to give my ideas to people that may appreciate them. Along with the idea I will share the gift of eternal life.
My first idea to share is the automobile-powered engineless boat (thus the title of this entry.)
(I'm beginning to realize that I'm most effective at ministries in which my mission field never gets a close look at my personal life.)
68. Patch
This time Kathy and I saw the movie Patch Adams on our weekend getaway to Ocean City.
Patch exemplifies the verse from Proverbs 10, "Love covers a multitude of sins". You see, Patch was blessed with a relentless compassion for other people. He derived his greatest pleasure from helping others.
For this reason, everyone loves Patch, me included. Yet his language is filled with obscenities and his behaviors are embarassing.
I'll return to this entry when I am further motivated.
69. My Final Message
I intend to deliver at least one salvation message. And that message will be delivered shortly after my departure.
Jesus has been leading me to record a video message to be played at my memorial service. As I receive further inspiration for this project, those thoughts will fill out the space under this heading.
The video will be made deep in the woods behind Sunhillo. Specifically, the location will be in the pine forest along the dirt road that begins next to  the billboard that is roughly 1/3 mile north of Sunhillo on Route 73.  It's only about a quarter mile walk from the road. After you walk around the fallen tree and cross the dried up creek bed, the pine forest begins. Unlike the rest of the woods, this part of the forest has no underbrush. It's easy to walk among the trees.
I will need a windup turntable, a battery-powered audio tape player, some printed pages that introduce and conclude the video, and of course the video camera. And my harmonica, I almost forgot.
To begin, I'll wind up the turntable, put the camera on it and set it to record. Then I'll sit under a tree and begin playing "Jesus loves me, this I know". The video camera will begin a slow 360 degree sweep of the forest. The printed pages will pass in front of the camera and introduce the video. The turntable will wind down and stop as it comes to me as I complete the last chorus.
I might begin by saying, "If you're listening to my voice right now, that means I'm dead."
I know that most families go out and find a man of the cloth to say a few words to those who are left behind. If I let him, my pastor would deliver a very correct message to you about what God says in His Word about eternity. But Jesus wants me to do the job myself.
If you are hearing me, that means that you came to my funeral. Someone once said, "Despite all of our earthly accomplishments, the single most important factor that will determine how many people show up at our funeral will be.....the weather! So, if you came to my funeral, that means that you must care about me. My life has probably been influenced by our relationship. If that's true, then I have some things that I must  tell you today, right now.
"Dead, deceased, departed, passed away,  gone home, flown away, kicked the bucket, etc. If I need any more words for death, I'll consult my thesaurus or review that segment in Patch Adams where Robin Williams and the occupant in bed 305 exchange a rapid list of words and phrases that are synonymous with death.
"Have you ever wondered why we have so many synonyms for death? Well, this is only my opinion, but it's the same reason we have so many terms for drunk; you know, intoxicated, inebriated, smashed, plastered, etc. By comparison, there are very few words for sober, just as there are so few for life.
These words are called euphemisms, which means a way of saying something unpleasant in a more pleasant way. Hey, I bet you never thought you could learn som much from a dead guy!
All of this avoids the answer, which is simple. The thought of death, like drunkeness, make us  uncomfortable. When we tire of bearing the enormity of what the word death conveys, we say departed instead. But soon, we know what  that means too, and we say passed away, etc.
This, of course, brings us to another question. Why does the thought of death make us uncomfortable? I suppose that this is an easier question. For many people, there's this nagging uncertainty about what is on the other side of that dark door.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Check out this dead guy over here. Oh, he looks soooo handsome. Is that what you said? Hey, don't think I didn't hear you! Well, if that's true, then these guys with whom I've spent the last few days are very good at what they do.
But that isn't true. You see, that horizontal fellow over there is not me. What? Now before you get upset with the funeral guys, let me explain.
The real Barry Ford isn't in that box over there! Throughout my life here on Earth, I consisted of two components; body and spirit. Wherever the body went, the spirit would follow.
But just a few days ago all that changed. You see, God says in the Bible, "The outer man perishes, but the inner man is renewed day by day." Just look at this flesh. Right now, it's in the process of becoming grass fertilizer. But the Bible says that you, I mean the real you that will never perish, will remember what I am telling you 10,000 years from now, and beyond!
Remember that old age is very much like cheap underwear. They both creep up on you!
70. Spiritually Incorrect
One late evening somewhere during the third week of June 1999 I was watching the TV commentary show, Politically Incorrect, with Bill Maher. The first discussion was the recently proposed legislation that would allow the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools..
The host, as well as the show's guests apparently were very comfortable with Bible-bashing. But the comments of one dark-haired woman especially caught my attention. She said, "Claiming to believe the Bible is no guarantee of acceptable behavior. Some very heinous crimes have been committed in the name of the Bible. In fact, wasn't one of the gunmen in the Littleton massacre a Bible believer?"
Such comments would upset any Christian; but they also intimidate me as well, because I frequently feel unable to answer these statements acceptably or knowledgeably. I suspect that there may be a measure of truth to what they say, but I'm not smart enough to refute their words.
So, after several days of stewing, I discovered the words that I would have said if my brain had worked fast enough:
"Although you may be able to cite some instances in which the Bible supposedly has influenced certain individuals to commit some very ugly deeds, this number is microscopic in comparison to the number of people whose lives have been positively influenced by the Bible. Furthermore, I suspect that closer examination of those few instances to which you refer would show that these individuals have misunderstood the Bible, either by ignorance or by purpose, in a mistaken attempt to give some sort of divine credibility to their own deranged agenda."
71. What did He say?.
While playing Bible Trivia with Bill, Tabitha, Cherish, Ben and Becky on 7/3/99, I got the question, "What three-word question did Pilate ask of Jesus?". I finally thought of it! "What is truth?"
Then it occurred to Bill to wonder, "What did Jesus answer?" No one knew. So we looked it up. There was no answer; at least no verbal answer. Pilate didn't wait for an answer. I wonder if Pilate knew without a word that he was facing the one Who was the answer to his question.
72. Comparative Sanctification II
I still find myself frustrated by unsaved individuals who seem to live on a higher moral and ethical plane than myself. Well, here is a continuing collection of thoughts on this matter.
Try to imagine with me if you can a table that shows the moral level of each member of humanity. Such a scale is measured on the vertical axis from 0 to 10, which indicates a quantified level of righteousness, where 0 is absolute moral dissolution and 10 is the righteousnees of Christ. (Please forgive me if I seem to be so presumptious as to assign a value of rightousness to God, which cannot be measured by any earlhly scale. I simply need a numeric reference for absolute and unblemished goodness.)
The horizontal axis includes the name of each member of this world, from Aaron to Zuzuwari.
Now I suspect that this chart would have many entries between 4 and 6, fewer between 3.0 and 4.0 and 6.0 and 7.0, and fewer still as we move closer 1o 10 or 0.  Now I will assume that I am hovering around a 5.0; as are the vast majority of all my friends and neighbors.
Then one day, someone introduces me to Jesus Christ and I respond by making Him my best friend, as well as my Lord and Savior. My moral level jumps from 5.0 to 6.7. This 34% increase clearly confirms that I am a "new creature in Christ".
In my excitment I tell everyone I know and many respond with immediate improvements that range between 10% up to a whopping 22%. Life is exciting!
Then one day while passing out tracts I meet my neighbor around the corner who is cruising through life at a staggering 86% WITHOUT CHRIST! How does he do it? This man derives his greatest satisfaction through his service and generosity toward his less fortunate brothers and sisters of mankind, whom he obviously loves fervently. His personal life is characterized by remarkable purity. And he does it all in his own strength!
He looks at my literature, hands it back to me, and comments, "Very nice story and your recent improvement certainly shows that it has substance. But frankly, you don't have anything I need."
Now I can confidently reply, "But imagine what your life would be with Christ. Why this change might push you well into the 90s! You would be in the same company as Albert Schwietzer and Theresa of Calcutta, and most of the world's greatest humanitarians! But more importantly, you will have eternal life with Jesus in Heaven"
You see, comparative sanctification means that we no longer need to be intimidated by such virtuous unbelievers. Rather than focus on the discrepancy between their lives and ours, focus on the difference that Christ has made between your old life and your new. Such an approach could affect anyone, regardless of the quality of their current life.
73. An Eternal Home
Saturday, August 4, 1979 was a warm and humid evening. Barry Jr., who was a mere five days old, came home from the hospital the day before. So we decided to sleep in the living room where the AC pumped air that was more conducive to sleeping.
Kathy slept on the sofa that was directly in front of the front bay window and next to the front door. I slept on a mattress that I threw on the floor. BJ slept in a wooden cradle that his Uncle Al made for his cousin Alex less than two years ago. Later, I realized what a blessing that cradle was.
Eventually, we all fell asleep in the little house on North Forklanding Road at the end of Collins Avenue.
At some time during the night a car full of drunken teenagers came barreling down Collins Avenue, crossed Forklanding Avenue, cut down a tree in our front yard that had a five-inch diameter trunk, and crashed through our front door. In a single second our home changed from a rancher to a split level.
Believe it or not, I didn't wake up. Instead, I dreamed that someone had dropped a heavy load of dishes in a crowded cafeteria. When Kathy finally woke me up, I climbed over the hood of a white Pontiac, and, though I don't remember doing this, Kathy says I caught the kids and restrained them until the police arrived.
In minutes our house was crawling with police, firemen, rescue workers, utility personnel, and others. We spent the rest of the night as well as the following month at Kathy's Mom and Dad's house while the house was being repaired. We also ate out every night at the expense of the insurance company.
It was during this time that God showed me a very interesting verse from His word. It says, "If our earthly house is destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens". 2 Corinthians 5:1
74. Roots
"We believe that He alone is our Redeemer and Saviour, even the captain of our salvation, who saves us from sin, as well as from hell and the wrath to come.... Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last....And He rules in our hearts by His law of love and life....He is our Mediator, that makes peace and reconciliation beween God offended and us offending."
Who wrote these words? It is none other than George Fox, the founder of Quakerism. Based on these writings and others that I have found in "Mind the Heavenly Treasure", a yearly devotional that includes daily passages from both the Bible and Fox, I have no trouble calling myself an orthodox Quaker. This seems to make my mother quite happy.
75. Flatlands
When I was younger and living with my parents, my father once read to me the story of "Flatlands", a fictional two-dimensional place that is inhabited by two-dimensional people who live in two-dimensional houses and ride in two-dimensional cars, etc. I was recently reminded of this story by an article in the 7/31/00 Philadelphia Inquirer, where I learned that Edwin A. Abbot wrote this story in 1884.
What I remember best about this story is what happens to an individual who is convicted of a crime. That person is sent to the Flatlands jail, which is simply a two-dimensional rectangle that encloses all the two-dimensional bad guys.
As a three-dimensional being, I instinctively wonder why an inmate doesn't simply step over the line that defines the edge of the jail and walk away. But I need to understand that Flatlanders only understand length and width; height is a totally incomprehensible dimension. Therefore, the rectangle is a very effective jail in Flatlands.
One of the story's intents is to cause us to consider how easy the escape from our three-dimensional jails should be. Simply move out of the enclosure by taking a step in the fourth dimension. Although such a move is difficult for us to imagine, it's obvious to a four-dimensional being who may be considering our three-dimensional dilemma.
If we could simply discern that fourth dimension, imagine the freedom we would have. H.G Wells (i.e., The Time Machine) and many other sci-fi writers think it's time. Many stories are based upon time travel.
Recently, however, God has imparted a hint to me concerning that mysterious dimension. Check out Ephesians 3: 17-19, which says:
Christ may dwell in your hearts… that you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge.
Notice that the Holy Spirit told Paul to ascribe four dimensions to the love of Jesus Christ! I used to think that the Bible simply used two different names for the same measurement. But now I suspect that our graduation from this world will be characterized by a four-dimensional transition to glory. Will Jesus give us this ability at the moment of our departure?
Now I look at Isaiah 61:1,2 just a little differently than I did before:
…He hath sent me … to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
76. Christian Survival Tip
On 6/14/00 I watched that TV show that seems to be enjoying exponential advances in popularity, Survivor. I was especially interested in Dirk, a born-again Christian who, according to this night's broadcast, is constantly being found reading his Bible.
Apparently, Dirk is a vocal Christian. He is not embarrassed to share his faith and his Lord with whoever will listen. Most of his fellow survivors have no trouble with this. But Richard seems to be an exception.
Richard says that he resents Dirk's aggressiveness with his faith. It's an annoyance that he would prefer to avoid.
I thought about this for a few days before I finally sat down to verbalize my feelings in this situation.
Every day, all of us, both Christian and non, send out a message about who we are. We clearly tell our listeners about our values, our principles, our preferences, and our faith.
The Bible is a mirror that clearly shows us who we are. The view is not pretty. For this reason, I have discovered, just as Dirk has, that whenever I tell others about what God says about mankind in His Word, I often encounter some resistance. This is understandable.
But when Richard explained his views, I couldn't miss that he was conveying his values, principles, preferences, and … yes, even his faith just as clearly and fervently as Dirk, perhaps even more so.
Richard would have preferred that Dirk listen quietly as he spoke about these matters. But I suspect that if we were to ask Dirk, he might tell us that just passively listening to Richard's "testimony" might be equally uncomfortable for Dirk, whose mind would become more and more defiled by Richard's ungodly words and thoughts.
As Christians, I now know that we need to speak boldly for God and His righteousness for two reasons:
   The Holy Spirit might use our words to lead our listeners to repentance and salvation. (I knew this reason for many years.)
   Our words will fortify our spirit and help to offset the negative effects of non-Christian  thought and words. (I didn't know this until I met Dirk and Richard.)
77. Murray's Confession
Murray knew he had a problem. He was a born-again Christian, but his conscience had been tormenting him for the many years since he began doing what he had done. Although no one knew except himself and Jesus, he could wait no longer. He went to a counselor.
"On several occasions in the past, I sexually touched sleeping children in my home" Murray told the counselor on his first visit. "The child, who was a friend of one of my kids, was staying over night. The child didn't wake up. I suppose that I got away with this crime, but the Holy Spirit has been bothering me severely ever since."
Mike, the counselor, listened intently, advised Murray to make himself accountable to a group of caring Christian men within his church, and prayed for Murray before he left.
Next week, when Murray returned for his next appointment, both Mike and his boss wanted to speak to him.
"Murray, did you tell Mike last week that you committed some sex crimes against children?", Mike's boss asked.
"Yes." Murray said.
"Did you indeed do this?"
The boss took a deep breath. "Murray, we are required by state law to report this to the police. Do you understand?" Murray nodded.
"Murray", the boss continued, "I don't know what the outcome of all this will be, but I do know that this is the first step to your recovery." Murray was silent, but he knew what the boss said was true.
Mike made the call and told the dispatcher. Shortly, two officers arrived and escorted Murray to the police station.
Later, seated across a table from a police investigator, the Miranda rights were recited. Then, Murray provided the same information that he told Mike.
After a few more questions, the investigator asked, "Who are these children?"  
At first Murray didn't answer. Then he responded with a question of his own. "If I identify them, what will you do with that information?"
"Well, we will pass the information to the Division of Family Services, who will interview these children to determine if they have sustained any psychological harm."
"Then I won't tell you who they are. I know that none have been harmed for two reasons. First, I know that the children were sleeping. Because I had been a purchasing agent for the local hospital in the past, I was able to procure anesthesia and safely use it on my victims. As a hospital employee I could access all patient records. Nearly everyone in this town has a record in that hospital and I could know what anesthetic is safe with which child.
"Second, I know that none are harmed because all of my past victims and I currently enjoy a normal relationship. None exhibit any fear of me today. In fact, all have requested to stay over several times since the offense, although my wife and I no longer allow any sleepovers for this reason. Furthermore, I don't trust the people who would be conducting that interview. How do I know that they won't create unnecessary fear and significant distress for that child and their family?"
"And I suppose that you don't want to spend time in the slammer, either."
"I'd be lying if I said that never occurred to me."
"How many children were violated?"
"About 10, although a few more than once."
"Well Murray, you have no accusers. You are seeking counseling to help you with this problem. You are taking steps to avoid this problem in your home. We can't hold you any longer. You can go now."
The story would have ended there, except that the police investigator submitted the police report, which was picked up by a news reporter for a local paper. He published the story.
Now the entire community knew about Murray's crime, but none of the details, including his victims' identity. Murray's life changed dramatically. To many, he was the same as a convicted sexual predator, a hated menace that his neighborhood wanted to evict. To many others, he was a hero and a shining example to others who bravely came forward to get the help he needed to mend his conscience and his relationship with his God.
But there was another problem. He was the recently retired youth pastor for his church. Also, his wife has been very active with church related children's activities. Over the years, literally hundreds of children ranging in age from five to 18 have slept over at Murray's house. Today, the victims' ages would range from five up to 35.
Ten of them were victims of Murray's momentary weakness. But, except for Murray and Jesus, no one knew who, and Murray wouldn't say.
Many townspeople found great humor in this story, as bumper stickers popped up everywhere proudly declaring I'M A CHARTER MEMBER OF THE MURRAY 10!
Others, however, found no humor at all! As a result of Murray's unaccused criminal actions, a growing number of young people within the community were experiencing a growing measure of insecurity, lack of self esteem, and fearfulness knowing that they may have been one of Murray's victims. More and more suspicious parents were blaming Murray for every little emotional quirk that they think they see in their child. A significant number of the town's population and their families, each convinced against long odds that they or a loved one were one of Murray's prey, were beginning to suffer from the same disabling emotional trauma that actual sex crime victims and their families experience.
Then the false accusers began to file charges against Murray. Although all charges were dismissed one-by-one by polygraph evidence, Murray would more frequently encounter fear and anger from his neighbors whenever he appeared in public. Murray decided what he had to do.
He and his family sold their house and moved hundreds of miles away. Eventually, time healed the community and life continued.