Four Fools

by Tom Wacaster
  
A fool has been defined as “one who speaks and acts contrary to reason.” I sometimes wonder if our elected officials have decided to compete with one another on just how foolish they can make themselves appear to be! Since when did it become so difficult to understand that you cannot spend more than you take in without digging yourself into a hole? While attending Brown Trail Preacher Training School, one of my teachers, the late Roy Deaver, used to tell us preacher students that liberalism can be illustrated by the following: Two men were digging a ditch while seemingly unaware that they had dug the ditch so deep that there was no way they could climb out of the hole they had dug. When it finally dawned upon one of them of their predicament, he turned to his fellow ditch digger and asked, "What are we going to do?" To which the other man replied, "I guess we just keep digging." Of course brother Deaver was speaking of doctrinal liberalism, but I think politicians fit the bill as well.

Our country has moved to the hard left in the last six months. We are on a track to complete financial and social ruin. Of course, we moved hard left morally speaking in the late 60s and early 70s. We just did not know then that the seeds sown by the hippies and nurtured by the sexual revolution would produce the kind of harvest we are seeing today. The “greatest generation” has given way to the “me generation” and the children of that selfish generation known as the “baby boomers” are now in Washington pushing for a hard left agenda that can only lead to misery for the “next generation.” Redistribution of wealth and the spending of money that is not there seem to be the two top priorities of Washington (Congress, the House, and the Presidency). Both of these liberal agendas are foolish. Henry Ford knew the stupidity of such socialistic thinking: "There are two fools in this world. One is the millionaire who thinks that by hoarding money he can somehow accumulate real power, and the other is the penniless reformer who thinks that if only he can take the money from one class and give it to another, all the world's ills will be cured." All such men are fools! But they are not the only fools in our society.

Did you know that the Bible speaks of at least four fools? First, there is the atheistic fool (Psa. 14:1). This man rejects the overwhelming evidence of design that points to a Designer. While the “heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psa. 19:1), the atheist must conclude that our world is the product of mere random chance. He is a fool because he ignores the obvious evidence and chooses to blind himself to the truth that there really is a God in heaven.

Second, there is the rebellious fool. Rather than revere God, such “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Pro. 1:7). Some simply refuse to be instructed and run head-long toward destruction. Their life is like that of the prodigal: wasted and wanting in common sense. This particular fool will not listen to reason, and more than likely if you try to teach him the importance of responsibility he will turn on you and quickly become your enemy in spite of every effort on your part to kindly turn him from his path of folly.  Maybe that is why the Jewish proverb, "Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side" is so popular.

Third, there is the careless fool. It is not that these particular fools have some kind of a mean streak in them; it is simply that their lives are characterized by apathy, indifference, and slothfulness. They never accomplish much because they seem to think that someone else will get the job done. In the final analysis, these fools are useless. Perhaps John Adams' humorous words are not that funny after all: "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, two useless men are called a law firm, and three or more become a Congress."

Finally, there is the materialistic fool. Jesus told of a man who made more than adequate preparation for THIS life, but failed to prepare his soul for eternity (Lk. 12:16-21). “Thou fool” is an epitaph applicable to everyone “that layeth up treasure for himself, but is not rich toward God (Lk. 12:21). C.S. Lewis was fond of saying, "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither." Every time I drive by an automobile junk yard and see those rusted out Cadillacs, BMW's and Corvettes I am reminded that things do not last. So why waste time laying up treasures that will end up in the junk yard in the not too distant future and will be burned up when Jesus comes again?

Before we point a finger at the politicians in Washington and label them “fools,” maybe it would be good to take a close look at your life and ask: “If Jesus were to come today would He say to you, „Thou fool….?”

She Only Had Two Cups

By Tom Wacaster

My mission trips to various parts of the world have benefited me as much as it has those to whom I may have had the opportunity to teach.  While this country continues its slide into abysmal darkness, our citizens seem oblivious to the darkening clouds on the horizon.  The cries for "civil rights," "personal rights," "judicial rights" and "entitlements" seems to be getting louder; either that or my hearing aids are doing their job.  Sometimes I think our society has missed what it means to be truly blessed.  Let me share with you an incident that occurred some time back on one of my mission trips to Russia.   On this particular occasion I had the opportunity to visit one of the coldest cities in the Komi region.  Vorkuta lies about 200 miles Northeast of Syktyvkar, just inside the Arctic circle.   I was told while there that they were having unusually warm weather; the temperature was around 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).  The reason for my visit was to encourage the struggling congregation in that city; a congregation that had been without a preacher for almost ten years.  In May of that year Mesha and Lena Derbanov accepted the challenge to move to Vorkuta and help strengthen the church and be about seeking and saving the lost.  Mesha is a graduate of the Syktyvkar School of Preaching.  He had been one of my students at Syktyvkar and he and his wife took on the challenge to move to this bitterly cold part of the world. 

I arrived in Vorkuta on Friday, conducted a number of classes both Friday and Saturday, and taught during the Sunday morning worship service.  On Sunday afternoon I was invited to dinner at Mesha and Lena's, and I must say that the meal was fit for a king.    I was treated to three kinds of salads, a dish of spaghetti, a side order of cheese and ham slices, topped off with a bowl of fruit salad and ice cream.  The custom in Russia is to serve tea after dinner and then sit around and enjoy one another's company, chat and catch up on the latest news.   When Lena brought the cups in, I was one of two people who were given a nice mug for my tea, while the other five guests drank out of plastic cups…not at all typical of Russian tea drinking.  And as I let my tea bag steep in the hot water that had been poured into my cup I thought to myself, "She only has two cups!"  

In my kitchen cupboard back home I have an entire section just above the counter top that is dedicated to holding my mugs and cups that I use for tea and coffee.  There are cups from different states, cups with various slogans, cups that are memorabilia of a trip to one place or the other, cups that are old, and cups that are new.  I have never counted my cups, but I would guess that I have more than two dozen cups, stacked one on top of the other and both layers pushing the edges of my cabinet.  And still I thought, "She has only two cups!"  

I sometimes wonder why God has blessed our country with so much abundance.  Why has He been patient with us for the last half century during which time we have gone through a sexual revolution, criticized His word, mocked His Son, ridiculed the beautiful body of Christ and done everything we could, as a nation, to kick God out of our lives?  I am, first and foremost, a student of the Bible.  But I am also a student of history, having majored in that field in college.  Our nation is living on borrowed time.  The Bible certainly teaches us that nations that forget God will be destroyed; history provides numerous illustrations that prove this to be the case.  In spite of all our abundance, it seems that this nation has forgotten that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (Jas. 1:17). 

Tea time in Russia usually takes up more time than the meal, and this was no exception.  We drank tea, visited, talked about the church, family, and life in general. The hours slipped away, and before we knew it the sun was beginning to set.  The time came for me to return to the apartment where I was staying in Vorkuta, and Mesha, wanting to make sure I made the journey safely, put on his coat and hat on to walk me home.   That night, as I lay on my bed thinking about the day's activities, and the blessings that are truly mine, I simply could not get it off my mind that “she had only two cups.”

Truth and Integrity

by Tom Wacaster
 
In a court of law the judge, attorney, and jury are seeking to get at the truth.  Witnesses are sworn to tell the truth.  Perjury is a criminal offense punishable by incarceration.  Parents want their children to tell the truth.  I think all would agree that "honesty IS the best policy."  We want our automobile salesmen to be honest.  We expect the bank teller to give us proper credit on our deposits.  Dishonesty on the part of political figures is especially appalling.  Why is it, then, that there is so little interest in BIBLICAL truth?  And why is it that the typical "tele-evangelist" can get away with deceiving the multitudes and still maintain a following?  Does that not seem rather incredible?  It seems that the pursuit of truth on the part of the honest inquirer is sometimes treated as an offense by those being asked to investigate and examine what they believe or practice.  I have been told on many an occasion, "It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere."   Who do we think we are kidding?  Does it make any difference how much you take of a doctor's prescription?  Does sincerity negate the harmful effects of swallowing strychnine? Some years ago I read of a man who honesty thought he had perfected mind over matter. In order to prove his newly found power, he stood in front of an oncoming locomotive.  His sincerity did not keep the authorities from having to peel him from the front of the train.

While it might be expected that the world would ignore or reject truth, it is an incredible fact that some of our own brethren willingly reject truth for a lie, and then expect us to believe that all the while they are trustworthy.   But what a person does with the truth reflects to a large degree his attitude toward that truth.  Some are so foolish as to buy into the lie that truth does not even exist.  The arrogance of such individuals is apparent on the very surface of it.    In 1995 Carl Garner made this astute observation regarding this matter:  “The attitude a person maintains toward the existence of truth and of man’s capability to comprehend that truth is at the foundation of nearly every one of our attitudes toward the Bible and our willingness to submit to God. When one denies that God’s truth exists in a comprehensible form he must of necessity also deny the existence of absolutes in doctrine, in ethics, in matters of worship and fellowship, and in the distinctive marks of Christ’s church. It is therefore, no surprise to discover that some among us today are denying these very truths, their denial having its eventual source in a denial of the existence of truth and the need to defend it.  You cannot very well defend that which does not exist” (Carl Garner, Fort Worth Lectures, 1995, page 241).

Soren Kierkegaard tells the story about a man who had escaped from an insane asylum.  He feared that he might be recognized by someone so he determined to disguise his insanity by uttering some generally accepted truth that would prove to those about him that he was sane.  So he would walk down the street telling each one that passed him by, "The earth is round, the earth is round..."  As you may well guess, the man was soon apprehended and sent back to the hospital.  The point Kierkegaard was trying to make was that the truth in the mouth of one who is not affected by truth is foolishness. To know the truth and refuse to apply it to life is really spiritual insanity; actually more like spiritual suicide. But friend, look around.  Our nation is a living example of the rejection of truth.  Political correctness has taken precedence over the search for truth.  Medical professionals have taken an oath to preserve life and then they abort babies.   In the religious realm there are entirely too many 'we-ought-to's' (if that is a word) and too little application of what truth we might know. How honest are our religious leaders who claim to love God, love the Bible, and love their fellow man but who disregard plain simple Bible teaching on matters concerning the church, salvation and sin? 

Why is it that so many believe a lie (any lie) in the face of evidence to the contrary?  When I was a young preacher I thought a good dose of the truth would inoculate anyone against error, and those infected by the viscous lies of false teachers would immediately turn there from and embrace the truth.  I have learned after more than 40  years of preaching such is not the case.   Some otherwise worldly men have recognized this fact when it comes to such things a politics and societal change.  Consider these following quotes: 

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.” (John F. Kennedy) 
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. ” (Joseph Goebbels).  
“Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.” (Lysander Spooner). 
“Propaganda is as powerful as heroin; it surreptitiously dissolves all capacity to think.” (Gil Courtemanche).
“It’s the unknown that draws people.” (E. A. Bucchianeri). 
“The faster our lives spin, the more things tend to fly apart.” (Richard Paul Evans).  

Perhaps one of the most humorous observations along this line was that attributed to Winston Churchill:  “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

To illustrate the point, lets reflect for just a moment on a tragic period in our world's history.  The year was 1943.  Our world was engaged in the bloodiest and most costly war in history.  Germany was under the control of one of the most wicked men ever to live. Hitler's reign spelled death to millions.  Some of those were put to death for no other reason than their nationality. When reports of concentration camps, gas chambers, and genocide became known, many refused to believe what they heard.  Albert Speer, Hitler's minister of armaments was among that number.  He confessed later, "I did not want to know what was happening."  He was only one of hundreds, or thousands.  Why did our world refuse to investigate?  Why turn a deaf ear to the truth?  For the simple reason that a knowledge of the truth demands responsibility.  Many in the Third Reich would learn in the post war years that ignorance does not alleviate responsibility. 

So it is with the truth contained in God's word.  Ignorance does not excuse.  One Day we will all give an account before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).  The devil is deceiving many.  Too much of what we hear today in religious circles is false, False, FALSE!  Integrity demands investigation of the truth that can make you free!

Our Final Departure

by Tom Wacaster

Paul once beseeched the brethren to permit him a little "foolishness," so that he might reflect upon his labors with those to whom he was writing (2 Cor 11:1).  His great concern was that the Corinthians might not be drawn away by false teachers claiming to be apostles of the Lord.  Paul's great love for the church is most evident in his writings.  One of his most tender epistles is that written to the Thessalonians. Therein he wrote, "But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children:  even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us" (1 Thess 2:7).  Among Paul's tribulations was his "anxiety for all the churches" (2 Cor. 11:28). Oh yes, Paul loved the brethren individually and the brotherhood collectively.  Such love drove him to run the race with dedication and determination, and to preach the truth, only the truth, and all of the truth, without fear or favor of men.  I can almost imagine the great satisfaction that must have been his as his earthly ministry drew to a close, and he peered through jail bars at the henchman's block upon which he was soon to be offered.  With great confidence he wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7-8).  Tradition says that he was beheaded shortly after he penned those words.  Were we permitted to visit with Paul, do you suppose he would have any regrets for having spent his life in service to his Master?  I think not!  Those immortal words penned to the Corinthians express his sentiments perhaps even more since his departure from his earthly tabernacle:  "Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens" (2 Cor 4:16-5:1).   I ask you, dear brother and sister, are you looking at the things which are seen, or unseen?  Are your eyes fixed on the earthly or the heavenly?  the temporal or the eternal?  And if on the seen, the temporal, and the earthly, then when it comes time for you depart to realms unknown, will you be able to truly look back on your life with genuine satisfaction? 

In connection with the above thoughts, permit me to share with you a quote from Henry Van Dyke. Here is his most notable tribute to the Book of books, the Bible:   "Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. The wicked and proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and penitent it has a mother's voice.  It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, sympathy, devotion, memory, and hope put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech. No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for his own.  When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to the valley of the shadow, he is not afraid to enter; he takes the rod and staff of scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, 'Goodbye; we shall meet again;' and, confronted by that support, he goes toward the lonely pass as one who walks through darkness to light."    

The Fourth Of July

by Tom Wacaster

Tomorrow  we will celebrate the birth of this nation.  The official designation of this national holiday is Independence Day.  Unfortunately the connotation that goes with those two words is lost in our more common reference to this holiday as simply, The Fourth of July.  You and I have a sacred obligation to pray for our leaders, and to submit to the laws so long as they do not conflict with God's law.  The following items may serve to remind us of the great blessing we enjoy as a free nation.  May we never forget that the freedom we enjoy is a blessing from God and passed on to us by our forefathers who were willing to pay so much for liberty.  The following little tidbits of information may help you to appreciate this holiday just a little more.  The facts about the dollar are not my own, and I have taken the liberty to modify the article slightly.  Unfortunately I do not have the author’s name.  I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you have a great July 4th.

The Dollar Bill: Take out a one-dollar bill and look at it. The one-dollar bill you're looking at first came off the presses in 1957 in its present basic design. Though it has undergone some modifications to guard against counterfeiting the currency, it still contains elements that appeared in that first dollar bill.  This  so-called paper money is in fact a cotton and linen blend, with red and blue minute silk fibers running through it. It is actually material. We've all washed it without it falling apart. A special blend of ink is used, the contents we will never know. It is overprinted with symbols and then it is starched to make it water resistant and pressed to give it that nice crisp look. If you look on the front of the bill, you will see the United States Treasury Seal. On the top you will see the scales for the balance-a-balanced budget.  In the center you have a carpenter's T-square, a tool used for an even cut.  Underneath is the Key  to the United States Treasury. That's all pretty easy to figure out, but what is on the back of that dollar bill is something we should all know. If you turn the bill over, you will see two circles. Both circles, together, comprise the Great Seal of the United States.

The First Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a group of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to accomplish this task and another two years to get it approved. If you look at the left hand circle, you will see a Pyramid. Notice the face is lighted and the western side is dark. This country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the West or decided what we could do with Western Civilization. The Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the all-seeing eye, and ancient symbol for divinity. It was Franklin's belief that one man couldn't do it alone, but a group of men, with the help of God, could do anything. "IN GOD WE TRUST" is on this currency. The Latin above the pyramid, ANNUIT COEPTIS, means, "God has favored our undertaking." The Latin below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, means, "a new order has begun." At the base of the pyramid is the Roman numeral for 1776.  If you look at the right-hand circle, and check it carefully, you will learn that it is on every National Cemetery in the United States. It is also on the Parade of Flags Walkway at the Bushnell, Florida National Cemetery and is the centerpiece of most heroes' monuments. Slightly modified, it is the seal of the President of the United States and it is always visible whenever he speaks; yet no one knows what the symbols mean.

The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two reasons: first, he is not afraid of a storm; he is strong and he is smart enough to soar above it. Secondly, he wears no material crown. We had just broken from the King of England.  Also, notice the shield is unsupported. This country can now stand on its own. At the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying congress, a unifying factor.  We were coming together as one nation. In the Eagle's beak you will read, "E. PLURIBUS UNUM", meaning "one nation from many people." Above the Eagle you have thirteen stars representing the thirteen original colonies, and any clouds of misunderstanding rolling away. Again, we were coming together as one. Notice what the Eagle holds in his talons. He holds an olive branch and arrows. This country wants peace, but we will never be afraid to fight to preserve peace.  The Eagle always wants to face the olive branch, but in time of war, his gaze turns toward the arrows. They say that the number 13 is an unlucky number. This is almost a worldwide belief. You will usually never see a room numbered 13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor. But, think about this: 13 original colonies, 13 stripes on our flag, 13 steps on the Pyramid, 13 letters in the Latin above, 13 letters in "E Pluribus Unum", 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 plumes of feathers on each span of the Eagle's wing, 13 bars on that shield, 13 leaves on the olive branch, 13 fruits, and if you look closely, 13 arrows. And for minorities: the 13th Amendment.

Why don't you know this? Your children don't know this and their history teachers don't know this. Too may veterans have given up too much to ever let the meaning fade. Many veterans remember coming home to an America that didn't care. Too many veterans never came home at all. Tell everyone what  is on the back of the one-dollar bill and what it stands for, because nobody else will.