Down Days…

Today is a day when I’m down…. and can’t put my finger on why.  All the “check list” is done (Prayer, Scripture, Worship, Claiming the promises, etc), but I’m still not “feeling” up.  Been there?  It is written in Psalm 42:11…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.

From this verse I see a few things:

Sometimes we can be down and there be no particular reason!

Emotional ups and downs are a part of life… but there IS an answer.

“Hoping in God” is the proper response to emotional down times.

Hoping in God means purposefully directing our existence, well-being, and meaning in life toward God and His Truth.

Hoping in God means trusting in God and not how we “feel.”

Hoping in God means that our emotional state (However down we may be) will change for the better… (Continued)

The change for the better comes as a result of focusing on God who is the source of our being and salvation.

Now… when we’re down… how long are we to “hope in God” before we are restored?  That’s up to God Himself… and we trust His timing.  Whether it is an hour or decade… Psalm 42:11 is God’s Truth.

Now here are a few Scriptures I go to and meditate upon when I’m having a down day…

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not lean on your own understanding…

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”


What About The Girls? (Big Ben’s Immorality)

Okay… I’m tired of hearing, and not hearing, some things about “Big Ben” Roethlisberger.  I am tired of hearing how his football career will be effected by his conduct.  I’m tired of hearing how his actions will impact the draft and the Steelers’ season.  I’m tired of all the pundits talking about Ben’s this… Ben’s that… Ben needs to… Ben should… Ben shouldn’t.  Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben.  Give me a break!  He willingly and knowingly used his star status to force himself upon young… all be they starry-eyed and drunken… girls.

What about the girl(s) who’s lives have been messed up by this NFL “star” forcing himself on them?  What about the emotional trauma the girl(s) we know about who’ve been wounded by him?  What about the emotional struggles they have… and will have for years?  What about the parents and siblings of these girls?  Doesn’t anyone remember that they are having to deal just as many issues?  Where’s the compassion for them?

Honeslty… as the dad of a daughter (I’m speaking in the flesh now)… I don’t care how the situation transpired.  If a man forced himself upon my little girl I wouldn’t mind starting a prison ministry as a result of going after her attacker.  (Pause)  Now that’s out of my system… I hope and pray that I would honor God while going after little benny within the full scope of the law (If that is possible).

Now consider…

The girl(s) did put themselves in a situation they shouldn’t have (inebriation), but that doesn’t give Ben the right to force himself upon them.

The girl(s) should have known what the possibilities were (Ben’s previous conduct), but that doesn’t give Ben a green light to force himself upon them.

Note: Nothing good ever comes from drinking alcohol to excess (In my little world, if a person catches a buzz… they’ve gone too far.  I say that as the son of a severe alcoholic.).

Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

The written statement supposedly from Ben was most probably written by a lawyer for the Steelers… and had no resemblance to what a Christian who has repented should be saying.  What is at stake here are not dollars and cents, but the integrity of the Christian Faith!  If Ben were to really apologize, it would look totally different that what is being played out in front of us (Click here).

I do hope and pray Ben will get his spiritual life in order.  I pray the rest of his life is corrected also.  The latter will not come before the former.  By the same token, I pray those he’s wounded will seek God through Christ in all this (Hopefully Ben has not so defamed the faith in their eyes that they reject Christ.).  At the same time, I pray that the young girl who is dealing with who knows what all kind of issues will get her life in order also and be healed of this horrible event.

This is a sad situation indeed.  My prayer and compassion is more for the girl(s) he’s transgressed against.  For me, that is the part of the story that is missing (And maybe that’s best for the girl(s) at this time).

The Father Or Jesus (Who Sacrificed More)

Sometimes in my reading and reflection, I pose questions.  I don’t know that this question can be answered… at least to my satisfaction, but here it goes.  When it comes to salvation, who sacrificed more… God the Father or Jesus? Which one’s sacrifice showed more love… if that is even possible to ask and be answered?

Jesus left heaven where He had perfect fellowship with The Father… Where He was worshiped… Where there was perfect peace.  Jesus willingly came to a place full of brokenness, hurt, and sin.  Jesus willingly chose to be misunderstood, maligned, attacked, and eventually killed.  Worst of all Jesus was completely abandoned by His heavenly Father.  That had to have hurt deeply.

God the Father purposefully sent His Son… His ONLY Son… out from His midst to a hostile world for the purpose of being horribly murdered so that those sinners who would believe could be saved.  That had to have wounded His heart more than we can imagine.  I can’t imagine the pain God the Father had when He heard His Son… His ONLY Son… crying out to Him and then chose to ignore Him.  That had to hurt… tremendously.

I can’t come close to imagining what God the Father must have gone through.  I know what it is like to have disappointed my children (Though God NEVER failed His Son).  As a son, I know what it is like to be disappointed and wounded by my earthly dad.  But neither of those approaches what happened in heaven with God the Father!

Which is worse?  I don’t know…

This much I do know.  When God provided salvation for believers the pain, sacrifice, and suffering was on both ends… The Father AND The Son (Jesus).

Oh how great is our salvation!  That God would love us that much!

Test The Spirits!

Don’t swallow as truth everything you hear set forth as the Truth from Scripture.  I don’t care who is speaking, you test what they say because Satan can appear as an angel of light!  The reason for this encouragement is that in 1 John 4:1 it is written…

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Just because a man stands behind a pulpit… gives a speech in a religious setting… and uses the Bible as his text does NOT mean what he says is right NOR does it mean he is a Christian NOR does it mean you should believe what he says.

Every time the believer hears a message or teaching when Scripture is used, it is required that what is said is tested by The Word.  There are people who distort the Scripture for their own gain.  There are people who, though well intentioned, do not faithfully proclaim the Word.  Then there are those who Satan uses to lead people astray from the Truth.

The way to discern truth from error is simple.  Know the Truth so well that when unsound doctrine is spoken it is immediately recognized as such.  Doctrinal error is subtle and sometimes not easy to distinguish.  So every time the Word is preached in your hearing… listen closely.  Engage your mind.  Cut through the clutter of jokes and flashy presentation to what is actually being said.

For example…

A person cannot be a Christian and a practicing homosexual (Or drunkard… or thief… or liar… or adulterer.  1 Cor 6:9-10)

A person cannot be a Christian and reject the Virgin Birth…

A person cannot be a Christian and deny Jesus is God…

A person cannot be a Christian and reject the Trinity…

A person cannot be a Christian and affirm there is another way to be saved other than Jesus Christ…

A person cannot be a Christian and not become more like Jesus day by day… month by month… year by year.

How are those things known to be God’s Truth?  By studying, reading, and applying the Scripture.  And those are just the basics.

Consider Hebrews 5:11-6:3…

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings,the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

A Real Blessing!

Yesterday I traveled with my two sons from our home to a church 2 hours away for an informational meeting before going on a mission trip to Costa Rica the end of May (God willing).  The time we spent on the road was a high point of my year… let me explain.

I sat in the back seat (By choice) as we followed the Sunday rule in the Ethridge family… “No Secular On Sunday.”  That meant the whole way I enjoyed listening to my boys (Age 20 and 17) sing worship songs and talk about their faith.   They talked about how excited they were to worship at the church we are going on the mission trip with (CrossPoint Church in Argo, AL).  They talked about going on the trip also, but by far the greatest majority of time was spent listening to them sing song after song after song that exalted God and glorified Jesus.

Both of my sons have regular quiet times reading the Scripture (Without prompting from me).  Trey has a group of 8th grade boys he is discipling (Click).  Britton has a friend with whom he reads and discusses Scripture weekly (Click).  My daughter Amy and her boyfriend are in church each Sunday in Auburn and are seeking God’s will for their life.

Those are blessings that only come from God Himself!

Dr. David Jeremiah said, “Parents take too much blame… and too much credit… for how their children turn out.”  I agree.  I am thankful to God that (To this point) all three of my children love God the way they do, AND that they have a level of spiritual discernment that I am thankful God has given them.

When it comes to parenting, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

Model the life you want your children to live the best you can.

Use all of life to teach your children to love God and honor Him (Taking them to church on Sunday isn’t enough).

Talk with your children daily about Jesus, Biblical Truth, and Christian morality.

Don’t be a Pharisee (Legalist).  Explain why certain behaviors honor God and others don’t.

Pray for your children regularly… then trust God!

Wal-Mart… Bump! “Oh It’s YOU!”

Random events are NOT the way God works.  He doesn’t take advantage of coincidences to work in His children either.  Let me explain by describing an encounter I had at Wal-Mart two days ago…

I already was not in the best mood for reasons that aren’t important.  As I was picking up a few things I literally bumped into the wife of a man who disappointed me deeply and profoundly two years ago.  I hadn’t seen her in over two years, and she was without makeup which made it hard to place who she was (Not wearing makeup and just coming from a working out is actually a good disguise).  When I recognized her, the hurt and disappointment from her husband flooded back into my soul.  As a result I wasn’t ready to switch on the smooze and act as if I was doing great.  In fact… I hurried on to finish picking up a few things so I wouldn’t say the wrong thing.

While walking away I realized I shouldn’t have been so short.  So I tracked her down to apologize… at which point the discussion went in a direction that surprised me.  She began defending her husband (As any wife would and should).  She told me they decided to withdraw completely from the situation and not get involved at all.  Note: This is the very reason I was profoundly hurt.  I told her I would call her husband so we could sit down and talk… more for me to correct any misunderstanding I (!) may have contributed to from their perspective.  After I left Wal-Mart… I called her husband and asked to sit down and talk.  He said he’d call me right back… and hasn’t yet.

Now The Point Of The Post. When you love someone (As I was told multiple times by the lady’s husband), and they are in difficulty or hardship, not getting involved is not an option.  When you love a person, you will get involved.  In Hebrews 10:32-34 Christians gladly accepted the plundering of their property by associating with their Christian family that was suffering (Click here).

Note: Make sure you read my suggested lesson if you don’t read anything else… which can be found below…

I don’t mind telling you, when I was hurting… when I didn’t know who my friends were and knew I had many after me… every word of encouragement I got was like cool water on a hot day.  Some people surprised me with their encouragement.  Some disappointed me.  This woman’s husband was one who disappointed me… deeply.

I didn’t want him to interject himself into the situation.  I didn’t expect him to say anything to those I believed were in opposition to me.  I didn’t want him to come in like Mighty Mouse and save the day either.  But what would have been good was a word of encouragement… such as is commanded in Scripture…

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

Suggested Lesson: When a brother or sister is struggling… when they are hurting… when they are under pressure and stress, one of the best things you can do is give them a call to encourage and strengthen them.   There is no need for you to actually interject yourself into the situation unless you are so led… but it IS part of your call to help and encourage the downtrodden.  It IS your call to help them bear whatever burden is placed upon them that is crushing them.  And not to do so is to turn your back on the Law of Love.

I hope and pray that from this day forward I am willing to encourage those who are struggling… even if it does cost me… even if I am misunderstood… even if I have to take a hit.  After all, there is a reason God allows/causes us to suffer… it is to comfort others when they are struggling!

Who do you know, right now, that would be encouraged by you either visiting or calling them… just to build them up and pray with them?  If a name comes to your mind, that is God’s Spirit prompting you to act.