Sun, 25 August 2019
Sun, 18 August 2019
Major Brent Taylor was a remarkable man and is an American hero. The father of seven and mayor of North Ogden, Utah was on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan with the National Guard when he was killed on November 3, 2018. Part of what made his death so painful was that it was an “insider attack.”
An insider attack refers to an incident where the shooter is wearing an Allied uniform. He is supposed to be on the same team, pursuing the same objectives, but his actions betray the cause and wreak untold havoc. Since 2008 US forces have suffered 355 casualties due to insider attacks. Nothing is more dangerous or demoralizing than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Jesus knew this full well. He gave us this stark warning for the spiritual battle that rages all around us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). He knows that “insider attacks” are a constant threat against which we should we eternally vigilant. Deception is a favorite strategy of the Enemy of our souls.
This Sunday we will expose this spiritual danger for what it is. We will equip ourselves for the battles that await. Join us at Istrouma as we continue our study through Jesus’ matchless Sermon on the Mount.
“The Danger of Deception”
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. . . . 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:15-19).
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven . . . 22 On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” 23 And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23).
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Sun, 11 August 2019
On January 5, 1975 Frank and Sylvia Manley were traveling along a broad highway in the state of Tasmania in Australia. Darkness began to fall and fog blanketed the area. But the highway was smooth and they were at ease assuming that the road that they were on would ultimately lead them to their desired destination.
Their route brought them to the Derwent River. A high bridge spanned it. As they neared its apex, Sylvia sensed that something was wrong. The street lights that lined the roadway as well as the white lines that bordered their lane all suddenly disappeared ahead. She screamed in fear. Frank stomped on the brakes and as their car skidded toward an abrupt stop, its front wheels suddenly dropped. The frame of the car slammed to the roadbed finally arresting their forward progress. The car seemed to teeter. Its headlights shone into the swirling waters of the Derwent.
The Manleys realized at that moment that several sections of the bridge were simply gone. They carefully and quickly slid out of their car. In the lane next to them a station wagon, driven by Murray Ling, came to a stop just before the brink; however, another vehicle behind them could not brake in time. It bumped into the Lings’ vehicle pushing its front wheels over the edge too. Ling, his wife, and their two small children escaped.
Not everyone was as fortunate. The bridge collapse was caused by a wayward cargo ship that slammed into its supporting piers. The falling spans hit the ship and sank it with the loss of seven crew members. Four cars, unaware of the abyss that had opened, plunged over the precipice into the river below. Five occupants of those vehicles died that night.
It’s a stark reminder that not every road leads home. The way may be broad and easy, but the important thing is not our comfort; the essential thing is to get home.
Choose your route carefully.
If this is good advice for earthly routes, how much more so for those that lead to eternal destinies. Jesus speaks directly to this priority in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Join us this Sunday at Istrouma as we take to heart these words of Jesus from our ongoing study of the Sermon on the Mount.
“Doors, Directions, and Destinies”
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide . . . that leads to destruction, and . . . the gate is narrow . . . that leads to life . . .” (From Matt. 7:13-14)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For . . . the way is easy that leads to destruction, and . . . the way is hard that leads to life . . .” (From Matt. 7:13-14).
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14).
Sun, 4 August 2019
Mount Everest is the world’s tallest peak. It is remote, rugged and foreboding. Over three hundred climbers have died in pursuit of its peak and many of their bodies still lie frozen where they fell. Given these facts, something quite surprising happened this summer. There was a traffic jam on Everest!
Due to weather, typically only a few weeks in May are suitable for the ascent. This year, bad conditions reduced that window of time to a few days. For that reason, hundreds of climbers attempted the summit on the same day. Because there is a single rope that lines the last leg of the journey, it became terribly congested and torturously slow. In the so-called “death zone” of altitude, that is a recipe for disaster. Eleven climbers died during this season’s window.
One of the saddest cases in Everest lore is that of a British climber named David Sharpe. He was an experienced mountaineer. He decided that he would try a solo summit without the aid of supplemental oxygen. On his way down he stopped. Not all of the reasons for his pause are known. What is known is that 40 different climbers passed him on the trail. Though they saw his distress, no one rendered aid. All were too focused on their agenda.
Oh, that at least one of the climbers would have known and applied the “Golden Rule” that Jesus gave us! You know it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Had someone done for David what they surely would have wanted someone else to have done for them, he likely would have lived to climb another day.
Commentator William Barclay long ago said that the Golden Rule is the “Mount Everest” of Jesus’ teachings. It is needed both on the mountain top and in the valleys of life. Join us this Sunday at Istrouma as we unpack its meaning and encourage one another to apply it to life.
“The Golden Rule”
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12a).
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12b).
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12c).