The Pilot Light

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Saturday morning we woke up to a cold house. The thermostat was working, and the furnace was running, but it was cold. The problem was that the pilot light had gone out.

A gas furnace is still fairly new to me, but our friend Greg Starr knows about gas heat. He was not only able to diagnose the problem, but to remedy it. In no time, we were warm again.

The engine was running, so to speak, but the gas wasn’t getting through. Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps this is happening in your job, your life, or even your Ministry. You’re doing all you can, and are committed to continuing full force, but you’re tired. That happens to all of us, it’s happened to me.

When it does, you connect with a friend, or group of friends, that can help you to recharge. This week, our Church, is providing a Conference whose sole purpose is to serve Kingdom workers. The goal of The Iron Conference November 6-7, in Nashville, Tennessee, @ Point Of Mercy is  to serve those who are always serving others.

It’s settings like these that can re-energize weary souls, strengthen soldiers, and give them a place to recharge. The goal of this two day Conference is to bless those who have committed their lives to God’s Service.

We strongly feel that the Speakers for this Conference have been divinely selected to strengthen someone.  To impact the workers  who are giving their all, even if they are weary.

PruittWrites is  so excited about the opportunity to attend this Conference. We truly see this as a refueling opportunity, to reignite both energy and passion, and we hope to see you there!

True Friendship

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Proverbs 18:24

 24 A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.

Steel and wood don’t fold into each other. At least, wood doesn’t in the way that others metal fold into steel. All metals have to be fashioned to join together with any form of tree. In other words, you carve a handle and fit it to steel. Metals can be forged into a compound, but metal and wood are normally coupled together.

That doesn’t make them any less valuable. In fact a hammer is one of the most useful tools in anyone’s tool chest. The same is true of friendships. Yes, you should be compatible with your friends, similar interests are nice. There are friends though, that are more important than whether or not you like the same basketball team. Go Celtics!

The people in your life that mean the most are more important than the color of their jersey. This is true, even if they disagree with you on the best phone, car, or even crime fighter. Friendships, like metal and wood, build homes. The nail in one beam may hold a picture frame, while another connects the beam to the frame.

[tweetthis]Friends can be blood, or not blood, but true friends will always become family![/tweetthis]


One minute you’re watching a game with a friend, the next, you’re driving to the hospital together. My friends know what makes me smile, and makes me sad. They know what makes me angry, and what makes me laugh. They’ve been with me, both to dry my tears, and to hold me until I was through weeping.

Friends can be blood, or not blood, but true friends will always become family! If you don’t have a friend like this, first, there is hope. It wasn’t always like this for me, but it is now. Second, the Scripture says to have a friend, “you must show yourself friendly.” Find someone that’s hurting, and be their friend.

Do this, without expecting anything in return. Maybe they’ll reciprocate, maybe they won’t, but it’s good practice. God sees that void in your life, and He wants to fill it. First, with a relationship with Him, for “He is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Second, with loved ones who will help you in dark times.

Psalms 68: 6

 6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains:

The Bible says that, “He sitteth the solitary in families, and brings out those bound with chains.” Maybe you’re afraid to have friends, you’re afraid for them to see your scars. We all have them. No matter how hard you try, someone will notice that you’re not perfect. Perfect by the way, in a Biblical sense, means mature. It means you’ve grown, you’re complete, and you’re whole.

 

[tweetthis]Isaiah 49:16 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of [my] hands; thy walls [are] continually before me.[/tweetthis]

 

The Lord Jesus is perfect in both, the sense of being infallible, and in the sense of maturity. He came to Earth because He loved us. He grew as a man to be among us. He died as a man to take our scars, and according to Zechariah, He kept them because He wants to show His Friendship.

Zechariah 13:6

6 And [one] shall say unto him, What [are] these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, [Those] with which I was wounded [in] the house of my friends.

He will keep them, even with a glorified body, even though He need never suffer again. He kept them for His friends, as proof of His Friendship. This is true, not just in the day Zechariah talks about, but every day of our lives. The Lord Jesus opened Zion to both Jew and Gentile, and He told them something in Isaiah 49:16. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I won’t forget you, I have carved you in the palms of my hands.”

Isaiah 49:16

16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of [my] hands; thy walls [are] continually before me.

Famous For Building

imagePsalms 74:5
5 A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.

In American folklore he is a legend. His mighty axe felling trees that no mere man could cut down. He was famous, not for fighting crime, or rescuing worlds, but cutting down trees. It may not sound as impressive now, but you have to understand what Paul Bunyan’s story represented.

He was clearing land for houses in an expanding country. Paul also represented progress. America would become a rich nation, thanks in part to hard work, and harvesting our resources. You and I know that Paul’s story was greatly exaggerated, but what it meant wasn’t.

2 Chronicles 2:8-9
8 Send me also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon: for I know that thy servants can skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants,
9 Even to prepare me timber in abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.

Recently I found a much more real set of heroes in Scripture than Paul and Babe his blue ox. They are in Psalms 74:5. These men, both Jew and Gentile, worked together to supply the timber for the Temple. These nameless citizens to you and I, were not kings or priests, but they were famous in the congregation. They were known for the trees they selected and secured for Solomon.

In Gill’s Commentary, he offers this note from Kimchi. “When the temple was built, he who lifted up his axe upon a thick tree, to cut it down for the building, was known, as if he lifted it up above in heaven before the throne of glory; all so rejoiced and gloried in the building.” It is a beautiful picture, these normal men, producing something that reached to Heaven.

I can’t help but imagine it, picture two of them. One man, a member of Israel, who may have never been outside of his borders. The other, called to secure trees for a God that he had never known. Over time, friendships were formed, and stories exchanged.

“If you’ll hold your axe this way, you’ll get more results.” The one instructed the other. “This isn’t just any building. The God that we serve, brought us out of Egypt. He vanquished the Philistines, and took down Goliath. Our God sat David on His throne.” He taught his new friend about The God of Israel. There was a sacredness to what they accomplished, isn’t it amazing?

What is so incredible is the fact that you and I can be a part of this in a different way. As Christians, we can be a part of the very real work of building the Church, one soul at a time. Throughout Scripture, God has compared Christians to trees planted in the courts of The Lord.

We can, in our every day lives, form very real relationships with those in need of God’s love and mercy. We can show them that both He, and we, care about them. People will hear our message once they’ve seen our hearts.

Like Paul Bunyan, logs weren’t the only part of the industry, there was the running of the camps. Things had to be maintained, equipment had to be oiled, and food prepared for the loggers. We can volunteer in the local Church to make a difference.

These men weren’t Solomon and Hiram. They weren’t architects, but tree cutters, yet they built the Temple. You and I don’t have to sing, preach, or play an instrument to build the Church. We don’t have to have great ability to make a difference, only to be available.

When we involve ourselves in the work of The Lord, we are lifting beams to Heaven. Jesus said that we are laying up treasures there that can’t be corrupted or destroyed. In the end, making a difference isn’t magical or mythical. It’s the act of mortal men in the hands of a Divine God, directed by the Man Of God He has placed in our lives!

The Shepherds Tent

Painting By Charles Jaque
Painting By Charles Jaque

Song of Songs 1:8

“8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.”

This verse represents part of a conversation between Christ and His Church. He is The Shepherd, and The Church is the Fairest of all. In it, He tells her the way to find Him. The Lord says to follow the path of the footsteps of the flock, and to feed thy children beside of the Shepherd’s tents.

This is beautiful for so many reasons, one of which is this, sheep don’t leave footsteps. Only Shepherd’s leave footprints. We know He isn’t only referring to Himself as The Chief Shepherd because shepherd’s tents is plural. This is a reference to the Pastors in our lives.

The men who, while following The Good Shepherd, walk every mile of our journey with us. They go ahead, securing the path to our future, to make sure it is safe for us. A shepherd would only take a tent with them when the journey was a long one. They would spend more time outside of it than inside it.

Most of their time was spent carving for their flock. It is no different today, Pastors spend most of their time bearing our burdens, caring for our loved ones, and smiling through tears. The life of a Shepherd is bound up in the life of his sheep.

The Lord Jesus gave His life for the sheep on Calvary, and spends every waking moment watching after us. He has positioned His Pastors to do the same through the sacrifices of their every day life. He never sleeps, Yet He did while here on Earth. Jesus knew His Under Shepherd’s would get weary, even as they gave their heart for His people.

That is why He gave them a tent, a refuge from the weariness that they gladly experience for the good of the people. As a Minister myself, and as a member of the flock, I’ve seen firsthand the sacrifices of The men, women, and children that commit all to the care of the sheep. Pastor’s and their families sacrifice for the Church. I’ve watched them work, not tirelessly, but in spite of fatigue if a sheep was hurting.

Aches, pains, and their own problems are placed on pause when they hear a cry from the flock. The Only trouble with this that we, as sheep, have been guilty of expecting this to be their pattern. The Lord intended it to be, not merely a blueprint for His leaders, but an example for His flock.

Just as The Lord said that we are all to be Kings and Priests, we are to care one for another. It is also our privilege to show care to those who care for us. October is Pastor Appreciation Month, one month out of the year, we honor those who are there for us all the other days of our lives.

When I think of the births and the goodbyes, the happy moments and the tear filled ones, I see my Pastor there. Smiling, while sleep deprived, skipping meals because of a hospital call, or just listening to someone for hours. Wishing he could be spending time with his own children while at the hospital for one of God’s children.

The Lord never takes lightly their sacrifice. This is why He tells His Bride, The Church, you’ll find Me in the footsteps of the flock, which are the shepherd’s prints because only shepherd’s leave footprints. He also tells her something else, feed the children by the shepherd’s tents.

It’s not only because they provide us the Preached Word. It’s because of the lesson in the manner they share it. They serve selflessly, honoring their God, loving His flock. That is why He provided rest for them, by supplying a tent for the journey. Christ brings that tent to the attention of His people too, reminding them to make sure we care as much for the caretakers, as they care for us.

The Happy Series

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As you know, Ashley and I are blessed to be part of Point Of Mercy Church in Nashville, Tennessee. This month, our Lead Pastor, Pastor Denny Livingston is sharing an incredible set of messages called “The Happy Series”.

This series reveals the practical way that we can find, maintain, and thrive happily in a troubled world. We invite you to click on the link and experience it for yourself.

It is our hope that you will join us for these life altering services the next few weeks. So cast all your cares away, and come on, get Happy!

Storm Of Mercy

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Job 37: 9-13

9 Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.
10 By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened.
11 Also by watering He wearieth the thick cloud: He scattereth his bright cloud:
12 And it is turned round about by His counsels: that they may do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.
13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for mercy.

Job said many things in his book, and some of them were wondrous, like when he said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. Also, when he said, “In my flesh I shall see God.” There is one thing that Job didn’t say, and that was “Lord, please deliver me”, or “Please save me from this trial.” The words save, and deliver are mentioned more than once in the book, but not in that context.

Elihu sits and listens to Job and his three friends for several chapters, and then he begins to speak. In Job 37:11, he says something very important. He states that the ‘bright cloud’, or storm, comes for three reasons.

The storm arrives either for correction, for His land, or for mercy. Some battles are for correction, and thank God, for rescuing us from a much greater and eternal storm of judgment. Others are for His land, some battles are for the growth of The Church. Calvary was very much a personal battle, in the sense of Christ suffering alone, but it was a corporate battle for the Salvation of man. It, and the last of three sparked this article, the storm of mercy.

To you and I, a storm isn’t about the rain, it’s about the thunder, lightning, and the lighting. As kids, we played in rain showers, but most of us hid in storms. The difference was the conditions surrounding the rain. These were the darkness, the lightning that repelled it, and the thunder that broke the silence.

[tweetthis]A Heavenly action touches Earth to cause a natural reaction.[/tweetthis]


We know that the thunder represents God’s voice, and that the lightning represents His movement, or the movement of His instruments. The two work hand in hand in the Heavens to produce something in the Earth. A Heavenly action touches Earth to cause a natural reaction.

A good friend of mine, Lucian Linkous, explained to me recently that lightning produces nitrogen. This acts as a fertilizer to cause things to grow. Scientists say that the sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces a sonic expansion. This expansion, much like a sonic boom, causes thunder. Pressure and intensity therefore produce a sound, a cry if you will.

When we are going through our trial, and we cry out to God, He will answer us. The problem is that often, we mistake the answer as just the noise of the storm. The lightning isn’t meant to scare us, but to cause growth in both the Christian, and the Church. At times, trials are long, and they are so dark, but then God moves, not to end the trial, but to give us relief from the darkness.

What we think is the noise of the battle, often is God responding to our cry. They say that in history, when the Apostle Peter was forced to watch his wife dying on a cross before his death, he did something. He yelled out, “Remember Christ.” He was saying, “In the midst of your pain, remember His Sacrifice. He is with us in the agony that we face.” God is neither silent to our pain, or ignoring of our sorrows.

The trouble is, as humans, we are more in tune with the darkness than with the thunder. As a child, darkness scared me less than thunder and lightning. I would hide my face from the lightning, but I couldn’t ignore the thunder. As a man, I can now say, rejoice in the thunder and rebuke the darkness.

Light is God’s plan for His Church, not darkness. From the beginning, we were made to hear His voice, and not the silence of being without Him. That all changed after the fall, yet God returned things to normal at Calvary. Was there darkness at Calvary? Yes, six hours of it, but the same God who created the worlds raged against it. He did this all while nailed to a cross. He thundered “It is finished.”

His lightning, or His actions, not only saved the world, but rescued a thief. A man who’s business had been darkness, that’s when a thief works. He existing by becoming one with the darkness. The lightning was not his friend, it hampered his movements. The thunder no doubt unnerved his stillness. Now, it was dark again, but this time, it couldn’t help him, it was time to try the opposite.

In Luke 23:39, he turns to The One that had, in Luke 23:34, just five verse before said this, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” I’ve often wondered what changed the thief, because the other Gospels explain that he began mocking like the other thief. I think it was this verse that changed him.

[tweetthis]If you had told that thief, at any time in the past, that the greatest day of his life would be this day, he would have laughed.[/tweetthis]


In the same verse that Jesus said this, it records the soldiers parting His raiment. Christ forgave, essentially the equivalent of a personal mugging, in the throes of death. What if, this act of forgiveness, was what gave the thief hope that The True God Of Thunder could forgive him?

If you had told that thief, at any time in the past, that the greatest day of his life would be this day, he would have laughed. Now, I can say confidently, he would not have traded this day for all the others. The pain of a wooden cross was nothing compared to the redemption that he experienced.

Job’s storm wasn’t for correction, it was for the other two reasons. It was for both God’s land, (His Church), and for mercy. It was an example to all who follow after, that the purpose of a storm isn’t to destroy, but to produce. A storm isn’t only about the rain, like the nitrogen, it’s about what can only be produced in a storm.

We purposely skipped over verse 9, “Out of the south cometh the whirlwind:” As I said, the storm isn’t about the rain, it’s about what is produced in it.  For several chapters, Job asked to speak with God.  He failed to ask for rescue, he wanted to know why.  Like us, Job asked an inferior question.  God never answered the inferior one, Job never learned in his book why.

Job 38:1

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Instead God responded to the better question, He talked with Job.  In the heat of our battle, much like the song, “He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me that I am His own.”, it isn’t about the current need, it’s about the reassurance of our place with Him.

[tweetthis] One word from His lips will reveal it’s not a tempest to destroy us, but a storm of mercy to help us grow.[/tweetthis]


The most important thing is who we are talking too.  Friends can bring comfort, or they can bring pain.  We can receive council that will shed light on our situation.  In the end though, only two conversations mattered.  They were the one that the Man Of God had with Job, and the one that God had with Job.

Every service, the Man Of God shares God’s Message with us.  It is our responsibility, and our joy, to follow that up with a daily conversation with Jesus.  Whether in peace, or a raging a storm, a conversation with The Master will transform our battle.  One word from His lips will reveal it’s not a tempest to destroy us, but a storm of mercy to help us grow.

The Native: Silencing Our Doubts

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We’ve talked about him before, In The Order Of His Course, but I would like to revisit the scene.  Zacharias, a Priest of God, a child of Abraham, is having a conversation with an Angel. He had his doubts, as a result, the Angel told him that he would not be able to speak until the prophecy was fulfilled. On the surface, we humans, might be puzzled at this, until you examine more closely.

Yes, Zacharias was human, yes, it was an extraordinary promise, but it was not an unprecedented one. Since David, the promise of Christ from the family of Bethlehem was well known. Also famous, was the birth of Isaac, to two elderly parents named Abraham and Sarah. If anyone knew the history of God’s people, it should have been Zacharias.

What we must be careful, not to misunderstand, was the reason for the silencing.Set aside for a moment, the fact that this was a Priest Of God, and that he was talking to an Angelic messenger.  Instead, look at where they were standing, at an Altar inside a building that had been destroyed once before.

At the time of the exile, many probably doubted that God would return His people to their land.  Perhaps, some thought they would never again see a Temple on that mountain, but they did.  God had prophesied, before the first Temple’s destruction, that He would return His people to their land.

Zacharias was standing in a place of miracles, talking to the Messenger of a Miraculous God, about God’s plan for our future.This son of Abraham, had a heritage of hope, and yet, fear attempted to drown out his faith.

Please understand, I’m not judging Zacharias, just identifying with him.  It would be easy to say, he should have known better, but then again, shouldn’t we? Every Sunday, we stand in a place of miracles while the Messenger Of a miraculous God reveals to us God’s plan for our future.  How often do I, do we, give more voice to our doubts than we do our faith?

Doubt is a form of fear, and it can be very deceptive.  In our minds we think, “It’s not that I doubt God’s ability, but the circumstances are so great.”  Or, “I know He can do it, and has for others, but will He do it for me?”  Fear comes to us disguised as doubt, it’s less aggressive, it is less blatant, but it is still fear.  It will take many forms before it is defeated.

I’m sure that the enemy tried to fill Zacharias’ head with doubts even after that day.  The thoughts of, “All that could go wrong …”, even after Elizabeth was going to have the baby. I admit, I would struggle with all the ‘what if’s’ just as he probably did.  We are human, and we are going to grapple with fear.  It’s a battle however, that we cannot afford to lose.

The difference between Zacharias and us, he couldn’t give voice to his doubts. He had no choice, but we must choose not too.  In the middle of the night, when whispers filled his brain, he only had to remember one thing. His vocal chords refused to communicate them, they refused to give fear a voice.

God did this for our example.  No, He doesn’t make a habit of stilling voices, but He was trying to teach us something.  If we will silence our doubts, and give voice to our Faith, then we will always be victorious.  Yes we will have fear, but no, we do not have to communicate it.  We must choose to speak our faith instead of our fear.

That isn’t to say we won’t have fear.  I’m not saying that we pretend that we’re not scared of, insert mental image here, but I am saying that we mustn’t focus on it.  I can choose to speak what God promised.

I can grab hold of the hope that is before us like the horns of an Altar.  Incense fills a room, the smell attaches itself to clothing.  Zacharias was surrounded by a cloud of faith, and fear still was successful in hindering him.  Why?  Because, while the room was filled with faith, his vision was filled with fear.

One of the greatest things that God did for Zacharias was silencing his fear.  It had spoken so loudly that it had drowned out his faith.  It took over nine months, but he watched as faith grew, and fear dwindled.  Zacharias was given his opportunity to speak again. He said first, “His name is John, (Grace), and then he praised God.

In verse 63, he spoke his son’s name, and in verse 64 he praised God. Last time he spoke fear, this time he spoke faith. As a result, in verse 67, he was filled with The Holy Ghost, and God spoke through him. When we refuse to verbalize our fears, and we speak faith, we become the mouthpiece of God.

Luke 1:70
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

The Bible says that God prophesied through Zacharias. It’s no surprise that he uses the word spake in verse 70, and called in verse 76.  He went from doubter to Disciple long before Thomas was given the nickname.

God gave us an example in Zacharias, but today, God wants us to silence our doubts. He will cause the miracle, but we must do the practical. We must still them, not by the absence of doubt, but the purposeful rejection of it.

The Lord was essentially saying, “Not here, not now, and never again!” We must actively do the same to our doubts. When we do, like the child in Zacharias’ arms, something new will be born in our spirit. It will grow, and produce an even greater future in us, that points only to Jesus!

Unlocking The Doors

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The keys were in the ignition. The car was running, and the seats were warm.  It was ready to go, the only problem was it’s two normal passengers.  We were also excited, but for a very different reason.  I had locked my Wife and I out of the car.

In thirty eight years, I don’t think that I’ve ever had to call a locksmith to open my car.  Thankfully, it was covered by insurance.  However, I lost roughly two hours in the process. It may not seem like a lot of time, but a great deal can happen in two hours.

In reflecting back on this, The Lord directed my mind to His Church.  We’ve been in a series at our church, Point Of Mercy in Nashville, TN, called “Season Of Sacrifice”.  In it, our Pastor Denny Livingston, was calling us to a deeper place in the work of The Kingdom.  It was a truly great day this past Sunday.  The two images paralleled this afternoon, a ready Church, and a running vehicle.

Like our car, the Church is fueled and ready for the work of God’s Kingdom.  The keys are in the ignition, The Lord Jesus gave them to us before He ascended.  While, not locked, it is secure, and it is warm and inviting.  The problem is, too often, my focus is outside of it. For my fellow drivers, I have one question?

We attend Church, but do we attend to the Church? This vehicle isn’t only a means of personal Salvation, it’s a rescue vessel. Will its mission continue, or succeed without my involvement? Most definitely! However, if I neglect it, or give less than my all; I rob myself of being part of so many blessings.

There is nothing like seeing revelation on the face of a new convert. Or the feeling of praying with someone that you had a hand in witnessing too. There is excitement in everyday Evangelism. While I love the Mission field, we don’t have to go overseas to change lives.

My incident with the car robbed me of two hours. It robbed my coworkers of my help, and it made my Wife late. Aside from the great things I’ve robbed myself of, what have I cost those that I would have reached? Had I not been too busy on my ________ , who would have received this Message, hope, or encouragement sooner?

Thankfully, a Locksmith, wedged something between my car and the door. I received another chance to drive. Sunday was God’s way of stirring us to a call to action. Every day, we are given an opportunity to reach the person that we weren’t able to reach yesterday.

Maybe you’re doing all you can, if so, refuel, and keep going. If you’ve allowed yourself to focus on the traffic beside, and behind you, take heart. God knows how to clear the clutter. Breathe, focus on that person that needs a smile, and drive towards a new day. He unlocked the doors for us. It’s time for us to pick someone else up along the way.

The Red Steps

1 Kings 10:11-12

11 And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.

12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

 2 Chronicles 9:11

11 And the king made [of] the algum trees terraces to the house of the LORD, and to the king’s palace, and harps and psalteries for singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.

In The Temple Of The Lord, King Solomon built what are called terraces in one place, and pillars in the other. While there are some opinions, they are most likely a pathway or steps, each with balusters attached. Solomon knew that at some point, these balusters would be needed. It’s one thing to simply have steps in the Temple, but it’s another to have railings attached.

Solomon must have known, that after a day of service, the Priesthood would be tired.  They would need the support that the banisters and steps would offer.  King Solomon had a son who would one day be king.  He must have known that his children would need the stability of those steps and banisters.

God had chosen King Solomon to lead his people, that made him the Captain of the Armies Of Israel.  He knew that his soldiers would enter the temple weary.  They would need the strength that those steps and railing would offer.

Finally, people who had made mistakes would come to the Temple with sacrifices.  In hopes of Atonement for their sins.  They knew that they would need the saving grace that comforted them from the embarrassment of their sins.

What made these steps and banisters special, was the type of wood that was used in them.  It was from the Algum or Almug tree.  According to Bible Commentators, it is mostly likely a type of wood known as red sandalwood.  Ophir, was believed to be a trade city of India, and this was where this wood was found.

It is red, or garnet in color, and rulers as far off as the Emperors of China, prized it for it’s value.  While it is most certainly beautiful, there are many more amazing qualities of this tree.  It is an unusual tree, it is so dense, it will sink in water.  Red sandalwood is used as a medicine to enhance mental function, at the same time, it is effective in giving rest to those with insomnia.  It’s no wonder that the royalty of China treasured it so.

It is said to treat both the inside and outside of man. Red sandalwood is used as a method of blood purification. From skin conditions to stomach ailments, it has even been known to be effective against multiple types of cancer.  Wouldn’t you love to have some of this tree?

Trees have been vital since the beginning, The Tree Of Life springs to mind immediately.  While the sandalwood tree may not have been the Tree Of Life, it pointed to it.  It pointed, not to the one in the Garden Of Eden, but to The One that would pray in the Garden Of Gethsemane.

Those steps imitate the steps of Jesus.  The journey to Calvary was covered in blood.  Christ was beaten and mocked by both Herod and Pilot’s men.  Blood overflowed from the whipping post to The Cross, and finally His blood covered body was carried to the Tomb. While He left death behind three days later, He kept the scars to remind us of His love and mercy.

The Lord Jesus knew that His blood would support the Christian throughout His entire walk.  When we come to Him as sinners, we turn from our ways in Repentance, and begin to die out to our old life.

Romans 6:4

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

According to Romans 6:4, we are buried with Him in Baptism.  His blood is applied to our lives.  Our sins are dissolved in His blood when we are baptized.  Like the sandalwood, they sink into oblivion.  This connection with The Blood and Baptism is why, when Christ’s side was pierced, out came blood and water.  Just as He told Nicodemus in John 3:5 foreshadowing the future.

John 3:5

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

When we arise to walk in newness of life with Christ, we will sometimes be weary.  We will struggle, and make mistakes.  This is why 1 John 2:1 the Apostle tells us two things. First, we are to purposely live a Godly life.  Notice The Bible still says, if we sin, not when we sin.  The second tells us that if we make a mistake, Christ’s blood is present, in our new life, to forgive us.

1 John 2:1

1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

He is the righteous pathway yes, but He is also the stabilizing banister.  This isn’t only for when we make a mistake, but like the Priests He strengthens us when we are weary from service.  He is The Rest for our souls! Christ Our King is the strength for the soldiers of The Cross.  He is the stability for our children, as we raise them in the fear and admonition of The Lord!

Lastly, Solomon also made harps and psalteries out of this same wood.  Christ is our song!  In the Temple, there were both the old instruments of David, and the new instruments of Solomon.  Whether it is played on the Hammond, or on the acoustic what does it matter?  As long as our song is Christ, and Him crucified, what difference does the tempo make?

 1 Peter 2:21

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Let us imitate Christ, following His steps, holding on to Him. As He holds us up, let us hold up one another.  If we do this, then together, we will follow His steps in love and unity from here to Heaven, singing as we go!

Dr Ed Makes A House Call

The following is our fourth article in our Edification Series. My Father taught me that some of the best lessons are injected with laughter. This gave birth to the character of Dr. Ed, our Surgeon General Of Encouragement. We hope you enjoy his prescription for combatting worry today.

You’re all familiar with my brain’s resident encourager, Dr. Ed. By now, you are also expecting a trip to his studio, but not this time. Today Dr. Ed made a house call.

“Are you going to stand there with your mouth open, or ask me in?” I was in shock, I didn’t expect my daydreams to be interrupted by my smiling friend. “Of course, come in. Why are you here?” “I’m making a house call, you were daydreaming.”

He walked past me and laid his bag on the table. It wasn’t your typical physician’s bag, it looked like a large red velvet carpet bag. He pulled a stethoscope out and listened to my heart. “A murmur.” I blinked, then laughed. “How can a fictional doctor diagnose a heart murmur?”

He smiled back. “You were daydreaming.” I sighed, I was avoiding the obvious. The minute he had said daydreaming, I knew why he was there. The daydream was a pleasant experience, until a hint of worry reared it’s ugly head, that was the murmur.

“What have we said about worry Timothy?” “That it is unproductive, unnecessary, and very human.” He nodded. “True. Let us consider the symptom prior to the cure. The strongest Christian will face trouble, and we will have times of stress. Medically speaking, ‘A functional murmur or “physiologic murmur,” is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart, as opposed to structural defects in the heart itself. Functional murmurs are benign (an “innocent murmur”).'”

He paused, took out something from his case and continued. “Chronic worry however is neither innocent, nor functional. It must be examined, extracted, and eradicated. For your well being, and for the well being of those around you.” “I agree, Doctor, by the way, what did you take out of your bag?”

The next sound I heard was, “Ow”, and it came from me. “What is that thing? A hyper-anti-hallucinatory-worry-ometer?” “No, it’s a mallet. I just hit you with it.” “I know!” I said as I rubbed my head. “Why?” “Because you know better.” “If I had wanted you to hit me on the head for worrying, I would have asked you too.” That was when he reminded me that he is a figment of my imagination. Next he quoted two of my favorite verses, Psalms 11:1, 4.

Psalms 11:1, 4
1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord ‘s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.

“Why do you love those two verses?” I laughed. “Because when people try and worry me, I can say I know Who I trust in. As long as He is on His throne, everything will be ok.”

He just looked at me. Then walked around me a couple of times. Finally, I said, “What is it?” “A murmur can be caused by a valve leaking. The Truth of that Scripture is in your head, but it must have leaked out somewhere.” “It didn’t leak out, it just got…” “Buried, ignored, stifled, drowned out…” I held up my hand. “I get the point.”

“No, I’m not sure you do. Sometimes, the way to counteract worry is to verbalize what we know is true, and not what we fear might happen. It’s not enough to know it, it must be enacted, enabled, and evaluated. You enact it’s effectiveness against worry by stating it. That’s Faith working through your vocal chords. You enable the Scriptural Truth as the primary vehicle driving your thoughts by focusing on it completely, not half heartedly. Finally, as you evaluate it, you remember the past concrete examples.”

“Meaning every time that The Lord has taken care of me personally.” He was ecstatic now. “Scripture must be applied personally to counter a personal battle. When we remember that we are in a relationship with a faithful God, it will illuminate His work in our lives. It also does something else. It exposes the fact that the majority of our fears are false. They murmur in our minds scenarios that have never happened to us before, and have little chance of starting now.”

“We all experience some occasional fear. An idle worry is an innocent murmur, but give life to it, and it becomes a Frankenstein. Just ask the Israelites who walked through the wilderness. Their murmurs not only ended their lives, it changed their destiny. It is our choice what we do. Once the worry enters our thoughts.”

“What about legitimate fears, things that have, or actually will happen?” I knew where he was going next. “Legitimate fears still face a Legitimate God. One that rules, not only in our hearts, but the cosmos. The God who, not only formed the sun and moon, but caused them to stand still for Joshua. He who shined from Calvary when the sun was too sorrowed for it’s Creator to give light. The same One whose Glory illuminated the walls of the grave that He exited!”

“Worry is a con man peddling a shell game of maybes. God is Our Friend, and an unfailing One at that!” He took a breath, winked, grabbed his bag, and headed for the door. I hollered after him. “Thanks Doc, I’ll remember.” He responded as the door closed behind him. “I would cure the malady, else the mallet will return.”