Musings of a Jaw Breaker

Some of you may know that I have a jaw-breaker the size of a billiard ball in my office. The reason for my having this jaw-breaker is another story, but I was looking at it today and thought that it might make for some interesting reading. A jaw-breaker, as we all know, is a piece of candy that is virtually impossible to break with your teeth. So in order to consume it, you must put it into your mouth and let it slowly dissolve away. But, a billiard ball size jaw-breaker is impossible to put into your mouth. If you can’t get it into your mouth, then how can you dissolve it? Seems like a rather difficult dilemma, doesn’t it.

When I bought this particular jaw-breaker, I asked the sales lady, “How do you eat this thing.” She told me there were only two ways that she knew to do that. You could either lick it until it dissolved enough to put into your mouth (I can’t imagine how long that would take) or you could break it with a hammer. Being a man, the second solution appealed greatly to me. However, I have not, as of yet, applied this solution, as I have ulterior motives for the purpose of the jaw-breaker, such as writing this article.

But suppose I were to take a hammer and smash the jaw-breaker; what do you suppose would happen? I would no longer have a jaw-breaker, per se, but a thousand tiny pieces of sugary candy. At that point, no doubt, it would be fit for consumption, but it certainly wouldn’t provide the lasting enjoyment that a jaw-breaker is supposed to provide. Its purpose would basically, be destroyed. Such is, however, what happens when force is brought to bear upon that which is obstinate.

Such reminds me of the Old Testament prophets and the message that they often had to get across to others. They dealt with a people that were very similar to a jaw-breaker. Regardless the amount of scriptural force that was brought to bear upon them, they would not budge. They were obstinate. Isaiah also wrote regarding their condition: “Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass” (Isaiah 48:4). Jeremiah wrote regarding these people: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words” (Jeremiah 19:15). In order to break them, God had to bring an irresistible force upon those people; the result was that they crumbled underneath it.

My jaw-breaker also reminds me of the character Haman in the book of Esther. You remember that Haman was promoted to be the number one man next to king Ahasuerus after the king’s other counselors plotted against him. However, when Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, he decided that Mordecai had to go. Ahasuerus, on the other hand, sought to honor Mordecai. Haman thought Ahasuerus wanted to honor him. He ended up being humiliated in leading Mordecai around the city on a horse. Ultimately he was hung on his own gallows for his plot to kill God’s people. Just as my billiard size jaw-breaker is too big for its own good, so also was Haman. Romans 12:3 says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Finally, my jaw-breaker reminds me of the task that God has set before each one of us. This jaw-breaker could be consumed by licking it over and over again. But it would take some time to consume a billiard-sized jaw-breaker simply by licking it. How could we accomplish such a task? One lick at a time. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” James 5:11 reads, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” If one really wanted to consume this jaw-breaker, it could be done. We have sometimes a seemingly impossible task before us, but it can be done, if we really want to do it. We take it one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Who would have thought that a billiard-size jaw-breaker could teach us so much? Let us not be so hard that God has to break us into a thousand pieces in order for us to be useful. Let’s not be so big that we cannot accomplish the purposes for which God made us. Let’s do be patient enough to be able to “lick” those seemingly impossible tasks that are before us. God has given us the tools that we need in order to serve Him appropriately. Let’s do what we can each and every day to keep our spirits pure, humble, and patient as we long for the Lord’s return one day.

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Paganisms Promises

Witches, warlocks, bards, ovates, and druids: you’re probably thinking that Halloween is over for this year, so why the strange list? Well, according to Reuters news service, pagans are celebrating Samhuin, the Celtic new year, and “a time for remembering dead ancestors before the darkness of winter” explained one pagan priestess. According to the article, paganism is on the rise in Britain where they claim to have nearly 100,000 adherents to the religion. The same priestess explained the phenomena: “People are not finding enough insight with a Christian God. Christianity is all about having rewards when you are dead, druids are all about living life fully and reaching out.” Does Christianity offer insight? Is it merely about getting rewards after one is dead? Does being a Christian mean that you have to have a dull and boring life?

Christianity offers insight which no other religion can offer, namely, God’s insight. Of course, paganism doesn’t believe in one God, per se; paganism believes in the existence of multiple gods. Every living and non-living thing has a “spirit” in paganism; and these become the things that are worshipped. The same Reuters article quoted a pagan gathering chant: “We call upon the powers of the south, the inner fire of the sun and the island of fire. We seek the blessing of the great stag in the heat of the chase. Spirits of the south join us now in this our sacred circle. Hail and welcome.” Does paganism have insight that Christianity doesn’t have? The American Heritage dictionary defines “insight” as follows: “The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation; penetration.” How can one have more insight (discern the true nature of a situation) than the one who created everything to begin with? When you have a question regarding the operation of your car, do you consult the “spirits” of the motor, doors, windows, and wheels? Or do you read the operator’s manual, written by the manufacturer? From what source does true insight come? Really all that paganism does is replace God with a system of idolatry that has no insight to offer other than what one personally feels, and that is no insight at all. The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach!” (Habakkuk 2:19).

Is Christianity merely about getting rewards after one is dead? Are we just wrapped up in some big cosmic game show so that if we play the game right we get the prizes at the end? That seems to be what is being suggested and it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Heaven isn’t a reward, per se; it’s the continuation of life. Paganism claims to value life fully, but doesn’t understand that there is no value in life when sin has marred one’s soul. Sin takes life away by enslaving individuals to its mindless grasp (2 Peter 2:19, 20) and dumping them into eternal death (Revelation 21:8). Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). True life; real life; eternal life comes from Jesus and walking in His footsteps, not from some personified spiritualization of rocks.

Does being a Christian mean that you have to live a boring and dull life? I suppose that depends upon what one considers boring and dull. If you find it exciting to talk to trees and worship boulders, then I guess Christianity might be boring! However, if one is discussing whether or not Christians are allowed to enjoy the benefits of life, the answer is, “of course!” God made the world and all the things that are within it for man. He has provided “fruitful seasons filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). He has blessed Christians richly with every blessing that he can provide (Ephesians 1:3). He has given all things for us to eat if we receive them with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:3). He has blessed man with friendship, companionship, and wonderful relationships (Ephesians 5:31). He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). He has given to us freely all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). He’s told us that all things are ours (1 Corinthians 3:21). And promised blessings not only in this life, but in the world to come (Mark 10:30). With all of these things at our disposal, what cause does anyone have to claim that the Christian can’t have a full, rich, wonderful, and blessed life now? The problem is not that Christianity can’t provide these things. The problem is that most “Christians” don’t know what true Christianity is, much less pagans!

The Reuter’s news service article ends with a story about a man who went to one of these pagan “stone circles” and chipped off a piece of the stone to take with him. About a year later, he mailed the chipped-off piece back to the owners of the “rock circle.” In his letter he told them to glue it back onto the stone as it had only brought him “bad luck.” The same mentality that caused him to value such, ended up causing him to condemn it. What a fickle standard by which to judge reality. Paganism offers no true insight to life; it has no value for this life; and can provide no lasting life beyond the grave. It is merely another excuse on the part of man to do that which is right in his own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8).

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Wisdom, Spirituality, Truth, Religion, and God

A few weeks ago I received in my e-mail inbox an article on a psychological study regarding wisdom. My first reaction to the article was, “How can you study wisdom from a psychological perspective?” So I read. The article spoke concerning the “Wisdom Project,” conducted at the University of California Davis. In the study, the researchers sought correlations between religion, spirituality, and wisdom. The researchers concluded that those who were “spiritual” were more likely to be wise than those who were “religious.” “Spiritual” people were defined as people who “create their own sense of truth.” “Religious” people, on the other hand, were defined as people who belong to a community of those who are like-minded�i.e. a church. What did the research find? That those who were “spiritual” tended to be wiser than those who were religious. The study even listed not attending religious services as one of the predictors of wisdom.

After I read this, I thought that this was all wrong, but I couldn’t place my finger upon how they had come to these conclusions. Then I realized something. The definition of wisdom that they used predefined the kind of people that tended toward that “wisdom.” What was their definition of wisdom? In essence, they defined wisdom as being open minded to all different kinds of ideas. It should be obvious that if “spiritual” people are defined as creating their own sense of truth, that they would be open to just about anything and since that is how “wisdom” is defined, they were “wise” by definition. On the other hand, “religious” people, who are more concerned about being like-minded, i.e. promoting a standard of truth that is objective for all, would not be as open to just any old teaching, hence, by definition, they would not be “wise.” I also noticed another assumption which was incorrect, namely, that religious people are not spiritual people and vice versa. The last time I read my Bible, the religious were spiritual and the spiritual were religious as well. But again, it goes back to the way that those terms were being defined for this study.

First, what does the Bible have to say about “wisdom” and the source for wisdom? The first passage that came to my mind was James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The source of wisdom is from God. That means that wisdom cannot be defined as stated above, namely, just accepted any old thing as truth, because God has defined for us truth. If wisdom comes from God and God’s truth is absolute, then God’s wisdom is going to be absolute as well. Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” For one to be truly wise means to fear God. The definition of wisdom that involves creating one’s own truth is an incorrect definition.

Second, what does the Bible have to say about being “spiritual”? It certainly doesn’t mean that one has abandoned religion. In 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” Spirituality meant acknowledging the truthfulness of the things that Paul and the other apostles wrote as the commandments of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 also teaches that for one to be spiritual one must acknowledge the words of the Spirit of Christ. Being spiritual means that one lives according to the desires of the Spirit instead of the desires of the flesh (1 Corinthians 3:1). Being spiritual means that we be the kind of people that God wants us to be in His service (1 Peter 2:5).

What is the fundamental problem with these terms “wisdom” and “spiritual” as used in this study? The words have been redefined not to reflect the truth regarding these words and their appropriate use, but to reflect how Satan through society has changed the definition of these words to propagate a fa�ade of spirituality. There is no difference in changing a definition and in telling a lie. How God has defined these words over the ages, however, has been consistent. Wisdom and spirituality are both things that come from God and His word. They have a firm standard of truth to support them, namely, the knowledge of Christ. When it comes to wisdom and spirituality, let us make Paul’s prayer to the Colossians our own: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col.1:9).

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Never Enough

Not too long ago, I received a Bible riddle from an online friend. The riddle was, “What does the Bible say will never be satisfied and say ‘It is enough?'” So I got to looking through the concordance, looking for some of these key words and I came across Proverbs 30:15, 16 “The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.” I had to look up the term “horseleach” and it is simply what we call today a “leech,” in other words, something that is always feeding and never satisfied with enough. The writer goes on to tell us that there are four things that are never satisfied and that never say, “It is enough.” They are: the grave, the barren womb, the dry earth, and fire.

The Grave

It doesn’t take long to realize that the grave is never satisfied. With each new life that comes into this world, a grave will eventually be dug, and as long as babies are born, and the Lord doesn’t return, there will be death. In Hebrews we read, “�it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The Barren Womb

The womb which does not conceive a child is another things that says, “It is not enough.” In the Old Testament it was considered a reproach not to be able to bear children. And so the barren woman would never be satisfied until she conceived and her reproach was taken away (Genesis 30:23).
The Dry Earth

Many west Texas farmers can tell you how dry the ground can get. I’ve heard tell that it’s been so dry out there that the cows are giving evaporated milk. Now that’s dry! In all seriousness, when the earth is dry and cracked, you can pour water on it all day long and it will never stop soaking it up.


Fire is never satisfied, is it? The more logs you add, the bigger it will grow and the more fuel it will consume until there is nothing left but ashes. As long as you feed fire, it will continue to burn.

What is the point of all of this? Is Agur simply writing these things to be witty? Or is there a lesson in it all? Unlike these things, we should learn to say, “It is enough.” In the grave goes death; in the barren womb is emptiness; in the dry earth is that which is unquenched; and in the fire is consumption. The person who has such characteristics is never satisfied with what God gives, but is always looking for more. Covetousness is a temptation for such a one, as well as unrest and malcontentment. The children of Israel had a problem with this attitude in the wilderness. Paul tells us that they were murmurers, lusters, idolaters, and fornicators (1 Corinthians 10:6-10)–all because they were malcontent with their situation. What is our attitude today? Are we content with such things as we have (Hebrews 13:16)? Or are we like the leech? Always sucking more out of someone else?

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You might say that I enjoy a good potluck just as much as the next person. In fact, were one to take a good gander at my physique, I would dare say that the conclusion would be that I don’t miss too many meals. And judging from some of the other men in our congregation, I believe the same could be said regarding them as well (after all, I didn’t start the tradition of potlucks in Berryville; someone wiser than I did that). To some degree, eating is considered the sign of a healthy person. And while, admittedly, there are those of us (ahem) that could eat less, nevertheless, it can be generally stated that we get our “three squares.”

There are, however, those who do not eat like they are supposed to eat. I’m not talking about those who are so poor in the world that they don’t have food, but rather, those who refuse to eat as and when they ought. The condition that I am referring to is known as anorexia. This is a medical condition that describes a state of mind that compels an individual to eat so little so as to be dangerous. The thought seems very foreign to those of us who like to eat. However, did you know that there are actually pro-anorexia “help” groups available on the Internet for people who WANT to be anorexic? I recently learned that the search engine Google contains links to over 30,000 web pages related to the search term “pro-anorexia.” One might ask, “Who in their right mind would not want to eat?” And that is exactly the point. Those who have such a medical condition are not thinking correctly. And yet, many suffer malnutrition and some even suffer death due to this condition. Yet, what is most astonishing is that many of these have abundant access to food on a daily basis. It’s not that they don’t have food; they just refuse to eat it.

As horrible as the problem of anorexia is, there is an even worse problem. I’m not speaking about physical anorexia, but spiritual. There are many today who suffer from the condition of spiritual anorexia. Oh, they may be healthy physically, but their spirits are malnourished. They don’t eat like they are supposed to eat, spiritually. Like those who are physically anorexic, these believe that somehow, they will be better off by not eating. Yet, their condition does not grow better, but worse each day. It is (like the physical problem of anorexia) a faulty state of mind that causes someone to so think and act. And yes, you can find many groups on the Internet that will help someone to starve spiritually; I’m afraid to say that there are much more than 30,000 web sites devoted to spiritual pro-anorexic groups. Amazingly, some actually desire to starve spiritually. Is it that there is no access to spiritual food? No, there is plenty of spiritual food available; it is just that these refuse to eat. The consequences, however, for spiritual malnutrition are far more deadly than the physical�eternal separation from God.

We learn from the scriptures that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35, 48). He desires that everyone eat that spiritual bread and live (John 6:51, 58). He has made an abundance of spiritual food available for all (Matthew 5:6). Why would one not want to be nourished spiritually so that they may have eternal life? One can only come to the conclusion that they have a disorder in their life. What is that disorder? It is sin. Sin is what separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2) and what ultimately leads to spiritual death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Yet, amazingly, some refuse to come to Jesus that they may have life (John 5:40).

How can we avoid spiritual anorexia? We must sit up and take a bit of nourishment on a regular basis. We have opportunities for congregational Bible study on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. We each have our own personal Bible that we can study at any time. We have tracts, bulletins, pamphlets and other materials that we may take with us to study at other opportunities. The nourishment is available; what will we do with it? Will we eat? Or will we be “pro-anorexic”?

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