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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

The Truth Stands

What is your name please?  My name is Lewis Hamilton, My name is Lewis Hamilton, My name is Lewis Hamilton.  I Lewis Hamilton the story starts and continues as it details some special thing that I did that got notoriety.  If you are wondering what I am talking about I must be showing my age.  The show was “To Tell The Truth” and it was a game show.  There were three contestants, two fakes and the real person.  The panel of 4 people would ask the different contestants questions related to the story.  After each panel member asked questions of each contestant as time permitted they were asked to vote on which was the real person.  Usually they would have a reason why they voted as they did.  Maybe contestant number one got confused with their story and contradicted what they had said earlier.  Maybe contestant number 2 didn’t listen closely to the facts of the story and gave a wrong answer.  In every case it was a matter of the fakes remembering what they said before and being consistent with their answers.  The real person just had to answer the questions truthfully as they actually experienced the event.   Sometimes the contestants were really good in their stories and their answers fooled the panel.  In that case they won some money for every panel member they fooled.  They earned all of the money they received because it was much harder to be fake than to be real.

We all have heard the strategy in a court of law that the accused doesn’t have to testify and the fact that if they didn’t testify it shouldn’t influence your decision.  The thought that they want us to believe is that some high powered lawyer will twist the words and make the inexperienced, naive witness look bad.  In my opinion it is a sales job to convince the jurors and the public that if the accused doesn’t take the stand it doesn’t mean anything.  The jurors are always told this fact of law.  Yet as a juror how can you ignore the fact that the accused doesn’t take the stand? Why would anyone just sit there and let all of the damaging testimony of other witnesses become fact in the jurors eyes without stepping up and defending their reputation? The only logical explanation is that they are hiding something.

The O.J. Simpson case has been called “The Trial of the Century”, and for good reason.  If you were alive at that time and of an understanding age you had an opinion.  You were bombarded with the trial on TV and you saw the trial being played out on the screen daily.  If I were O.J. and I was accused of this unthinkable deed and I was innocent they couldn’t keep me off of the witness stand.  Wouldn’t I be afraid of some word twisting professional lawyer making me look bad?  My answer to that question is “Not at all!”  The reason I can be so confident is because I would know and tell the truth!  There isn’t a question the lawyer could ask that would make me look bad as long as I stuck to the truth.  In fact as testimony unfolded the jury would see that I was telling the truth.  That is because the truth is consistent.  If you are trying to cover something up and have to mix a lie or two in, the lies turn into three or four, five or six.  That is because you have to tell a lie to cover the other lie.  That is where a crafty lawyer can make you look bad.  However, if you have nothing to hide, then there is nothing anyone can uncover.  The more they try the more they will look bad as your truth will uncover the twist of their questions and their motives.  So the next time you see someone accused of something and they refuse to take the stand ask yourself why?

You have probably heard the saying “The Truth Hurts.”  Sometimes the truth does hurt if it isn’t what we really want to hear.  Because it is the truth it will shine a light on things we need to improve on.  Using the truth as a starting point we can see where we are.  There is no need to pretend things are different if we face the truth.  The only way to improve is to embrace the truth as it is now and improve to a different truth down the road!  It is far better to hear the truth and deal with it than to believe the lie.

The Bible speaks about truth and lies numerous times.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me.  John 14:6  Jesus talking about Satan in John 8:44 said “when he lies, he is speaking his native language, for he is a liar and the Father of lies.” John 8:32 states that “then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So when you are being questioned, whether it is on a witness stand or in any other situation, answer truthfully. Remember, sooner or later the truth will be known. You don’t want to be a person found out to be fraudulent! By being truthful you will avoid many problems down the road even if the truth puts you in an unfavorable light at the time. At least if it is out there we can be free to deal with the situation. The freedom of the truth works so much better and easier than trying to remember the made up story and all of the made up details.

I’m reminded of when “To Tell the Truth” revealed the real person. The host would say “Will the real John Smith (or whoever) please stand up. Usually one would start to get up, then another and maybe they would fake a couple of more times. It was like a smoke screen for that moment, but only for that moment. Finally what always happened, was the real person stood up and the truth was revealed.

 

 

Listen To Your Special Friend

We all have had a special friend that calls quite often.  If they don’t call we think something is wrong so we call them.  When we first met this person and they called they probably identified who they were.  After awhile it wasn’t necessary as we  immediately recognized their voice.  As time went on and we found out more and more about this special friend it became easier to talk to them.  We recognized when they were troubled or happy just by their voice tone.  We started feeling that this special friend has so much in common with us.  The conversations were fun as we started sharing our interests with each other.  We laughed at things we both understood and got to the point where we shared in each others sorrows too.

How would we feel if this special friend called us with the same words and the same dry tone?  How would we feel if this special friend told us everything they wanted us to do and then hung up on us before we could even talk?  We would wonder what has happened to our special friend?  We might think they are sick or something is very wrong.  We would wonder why our special friend is calling us  out of ritual and obligation instead of enjoyment?

So what if you are this special friend to God?  Has your conversation hit dry spots where it has become ritualistic.  Is your conversation with God a one way street?  Do you take the time to listen for his voice?  You may ask “How can I know when he is talking to me?”  Well just as you know that  special friends voice who calls you on the phone you can learn Gods voice too!  You may not hear it audibly but you will hear it within your spirit.  You will know it is his voice because it will always lead you to righteousness.  Become a listener in your prayers.  Instead of coming to God with all of these requests and all of the one way conversation that is traditional, take the time to be quiet before the Lord.  Let him speak to you and listen to his voice.  When you hear his voice act upon what he is telling you.  You may wonder if it is just you or God?  Ask yourself, is the idea helping to promote the spread of the Gospel in some way?  If so it must be from God!  It certainly isn’t from the devil.

Many of the poems that you have read happened in just such a way!  God gave me an idea and I wrote it down.  The words came because I was in tune with the spirit and I was willing to write down what he was telling me!  So many times I cried after the poem was written.  I cried because I knew that it was far better than I could ever write.

You may not realize this but there were 40 individuals who authored the Bible.  As we all know it is very hard to get 3 or 4 people to agree on anything.  How then can 40 people be in complete unity?  Well there may have been 40 authors, but there was only one spirit that was leading them.  The spirit led each one in a special way to write what would supplement and not contradict all of the other writers!  When you put it in that light it is truly a miraculous feat!  If we have been born again that same spirit lives in us!  It is the spirit of unity within Christianity!  You and I have a special part within the whole!  There is something God wants us to do to promote the Gospel while we are here!  Develop that friendship with your God and step out in faith as the spirit leads you! Take the time to listen to his voice.  It may seem odd at first because you may not have been trained in that way.  Someone once said we were given two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.  We usually laugh at that notion but in our conversation with God I think the statement is true!

I’m The Only Jesus They Will See

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The will not read the Bible
they’ll go through life their way,
turning off all the preachers
and what they have to say

They will not go to church,
it’s all fake anyhow
Just out to get their money
there’s bills to pay right now

So how then can we reach them
and see a change of heart?
How can they get total freedom
to make a brand new start?

The responsibility is mine,
it’s entirely up to me
Lord help me shed your light today

for I’m the only Jesus they will see.

Join with others in following my
example, brothers, and take note of
those who live according to the
pattern we gave you.

Philippians 3:17

Representing Christianity

They say the customer is always right.  In reality the customer is often wrong.  Yet somebody way back made a policy for his business that tried to follow this principle.  The principle really breaks down like this.  No matter how far off base or totally wrong the customer is, they are always right.  Why is such an absurd statement treated like gold?  Well in business they determined that it is better to agree with the customer instead of ruffling feathers.  It is better to leave the customer with a favorable impression of your company even if you have to bow to their demands.

I got in trouble one time because of the customer always being right.  As I mentioned before I worked in a famous department store selling clothing for men.  One day I was working the floor alone.  I don’t know if it was thought to be a slow day or what, but here I was an 18 year old kid working the whole department by myself.  As it turned out the place got extremely busy.  Customers were lined up at my register and I was helping one after another.  There was a lady that was interested in buying a suit.  She wanted my help immediately or someone to assist her in finding the right suit.  Since I was the only one there and obviously the policy was to tend to the paying customers first, I couldn’t.  I smiled and told her that unfortunately I couldn’t help her right now.  As I was helping my long line of paying customers this lady apparently ran upstairs to the store managers to offer her complaint of not being helped.  The lady was right.  She deserved to be assisted in her effort to buy a suit.  Why did management only have one person on the floor? The answer to that question didn’t matter and was never answered.  The customer blamed me for not helping her.  In this case an 18 year old kid making close to minimum wage and doing the best that he could took the full hit for the customers dissatisfaction, because as we all know the customer is always right.

Telemarketing can be very annoying as you know.  The call usually goes something like this.  You pick up the phone “Hello”.  There is silence for a few seconds then someone comes on the line.  Mr. Hamilton, yes…and then the sales pitch begins.  My name is so and so from blah blah blah, and on and on they go.  I think the person takes a deep breath and doesn’t breath again until they have at least got through most of their talk.  I know it is a thankless job and most people hang up on them I would imagine.  I realize too that they are playing a numbers game.  They figure if they call so many people one person will say yes to whatever they are selling.  Yet to me this kind of marketing does not leave a favorable impression of their company.

I’ve been considering buying some business cards for this site.  I’m thinking it would be easier to give someone my card instead of always writing down the website.  The first place I checked was a place I could order them online.  I thought their prices seemed very reasonable, but I thought I would try a local place or two where I could meet someone in person.  The first place I visited a middle aged man helped me and he represented his company well.  He basically told me that he could not compete with the online business in price but wished me well.  I visited one more place and a guy in his twenties helped me.  He seemed to have the attitude that I couldn’t get a better deal than what his company offered.  I honestly told him that the prices he was quoting were not in the ball park with the online prices.  He responded by giving me the amount of business cards that his company sold every month.  To be honest that fact did not make any difference to me.  I was interested in a quality product at a price savings!  I didn’t care what everyone else was doing.  If he would have said “I can’t touch their prices, but if you want a quality product and don’t want to go through the internet to order I can help you,” I think I would have left with a better feeling about his company.  In fact I don’t really like the inconvenience of going through the internet.  If he could have made me a competitive offer even if it was a bit more along with his personal service, I probably would have been interested.  Instead I left feeling like i was talked down to.

This past weekend we had to have our car serviced.  Since we were told it might take an hour and a half we decided to walk over to a Burger King close by.  I have to say that this particular Burger King made me smile!  Their employees were very friendly and helpful.  I know it helped that the place wasn’t very busy when we came in.  The girl that rang us up actually stopped back a couple of times to see how we liked our food.  Along with other things we ordered one of their new shakes.  The manager was very friendly and actually sold me on getting the larger size!  It was a pleasant experience to feel that they really cared in a business where so many times it is very impersonal.  Often I’ve found when ordering fast food people are running around trying to fill my order without giving much thought to treating me like a unique person.  This experience was different and it caught my attention and made a very favorable impression of them and Burger King for hiring them!!

I see commercials all of the time promoting  large companies that are in our town.  Millions of dollars are spent for advertising to give their place of business a favorable name.  Yet, you and I have had experiences where one employee of that large multimillion dollar company has either made the company better or worse in our eyes.  My Burger King experience  was brought about by the people who worked in one location that day.  It had nothing to do with the millions of dollars they put out for advertising.  The extra time those employees took  made me feel special and important.  My experience with the second business card company made me feel small.  The salesperson made me feel like I didn’t know what I was talking about and that  he knew it all.  Maybe it was just me but that perception from five minutes in his store left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  It doesn’t matter if his company throws a million dollars into advertising to get me to come back, I won’t.  My experiences and yours are far more powerful than any advertisement.  When we think of doing business with a company, we think about how we were treated by that company in the past.  That one person represented their company in a good or bad way and makes  or breaks how we think about their company.

There are times when I have had a legitimate complaint about a company and the representative knew it.  Yet, they are trained in the felt, found, feel theory.  Their canned statement goes like this.  You know I felt the same way, until I found this and now I feel this way.  In theory it sounds like it should solve every problem.  It also sounds like they are agreeing with you.  After all the customer is always right so agree.  However I’ve found that people can be so fake saying the line that they are trained to say that it comes across as totally fake.  When they say “I know how you feel”, are they saying it with feeling or is it just words?  Do you really believe they know how you feel?  Then there is always the word “but”, as in I know how you feel, but this is company policy.  Somewhere back there the customer is always right has been replaced by the felt, found, feel statement.  It comes down to caring  not just words.  If I feel that someone really cares and are not just sputtering words, I am apt to start or keep a business relationship with their company.  If not I will look somewhere else and recommend that my friends and family go elsewhere too.

As Christians we are representatives for our Lord Jesus Christ.  As his representative I want to shine the best light on who I am representing.  This is not a case of “the customer is always right.”   Many times the people that are looking at how we live are not right.  They realize that there is something missing in their life and are looking for answers.  They are looking for people who are not fake and who walk the talk. They are looking for someone who cares about them and truly loves them.  I may be the only Christian somebody comes into contact with.  With that in mind I can either make Christianity an attractive way to live or I can turn people off.  I am only one person but as we’ve seen one person does make a difference.  The person examining me may be at the turning point of their life.  How I represent may either make or break their decision to accept Jesus.  Do I make them feel small or important?  Do I show that I truly love them and want to give them what I have or does the words I say have no feelings?  It’s very critical that I represent Christianity well because the stakes for my examiners are very high.  They are much higher than what fast food restaurant they will eat at or what business card they will buy.

I’m The Only Jesus They Will See

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

They will not read the Bible
they’ll go through life their way,
turning off all the preachers
and what they have to say

They will not go to church,
it’s all fake anyhow
Just out to get their money
there’s bills to pay right now

So how then can we reach them
and see a change of heart?
How can they get total freedom
to make a brand new start?

The responsibility is mine,
it’s entirely up to me
Lord help me shed your light today

for I’m the only Jesus they will see.

Join with others in following my
example, brothers, and take note of
those who live according to the
pattern we gave you.

Philippians 3:17

I Can’t, But You Can

By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Lord, I cannot live the Christian life
and run the race you ran
I cannot walk my talk each day
I can’t, but you can

I cannot love my neighbor
whose actions I can’t stand
I cannot stop and help them
I can’t, but you can

I cannot turn the other cheek
or forgive my fellow man
I cannot keep your commandments
I can’t, but you can

So why do I keep struggling
trying to live my life so right?
Don’t I understand that
it’s sinful in your sight?

Why do I in my own power
try to carry your plan through
Don’t I realize my hope and strength
can only come from you?

Live your life in me Lord,
let mine turn into yours
May what you do through me
open many doors

I will not live my life anymore
I place it in your hands
I cannot live in victory
I can’t, but you can!

I have been crucified with Christ
and I no longer live, but Christ
lives in me. The life I live in the
body, I live by faith in the Son of
God, who loved me and gave
himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Quit Trying So Hard

Now repeat after me I started “I can’t do anything”.  The teenage boys looked a little puzzled but went through the motions “I can’t do anything’, they repeated.  Then I followed with “now repeat this”, and I continued, “With God all things are possible!”  They repeated that phrase a little more enthusiastic but not much.  I don’t know what I was thinking but I had wavered far from the script.  It was a high school boys basketball league and I was one of the coaches.  It was a Christian organization and each week there was a devotion before the game.  It was the job of the coaches or referee assigned to the game to lead the group of both teams in the devotion.  The script was written out and was supposed to be read.  It was a booklet with a story and things to think about at the end.  Most of the kids treated the talk as just a formality before they could play the game that they loved.  I went on to tell a story I shared on this blog in January.  It was about a lady in a counseling session with my pastor at the time.  She stated “Pastor, I’m going to be a better Christian, I’m going to read my Bible and pray more, I’m going to…and on and on she talked.”  The pastor told us “right there I knew that she was doomed for failure.”  His reasoning was that she was doing things in her own power.  He knew that her “I’m going to” phrase could only lead her to failure.  At the end of my little talk I had them repeat after me again.  “I can’t do anything” and then “With God all things are possible!”  I don’t remember who won the game that day,  but those words at the little devotional are and will always be true!

Sandy Koufax was one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.  He is the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He pitched in the major leagues for 12 years.  So you probably would conclude if you didn’t know anything about his career that he must have been a success from the start.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For the  first six years of Sandy’s career he had a record of 36 wins and 40 losses.  The best word to describe his pitching up to that point was mediocre.  Sandy was blessed with an outstanding arm.  He had a fast ball that blazed from his hand.  His problem was that he didn’t know where it was going from one pitch to another.  He had a problem a lot of pitchers have had over the years, he was wild.

Norm Sherry was Sandy’s catcher in 1961.  In spring training he had a talk with Sandy.  “Why don’t you try not throwing the ball so hard”, Norm offered.  Sandy tried what Norm suggested and found that by not trying to throw the ball as hard as he could he actually could control it.  He also found that he had about the same velocity on his pitch as he did when he was trying to put the extra umph into it!  From 1961-1966 Sandy had one of the best if not the best six year stretches in baseball history and it came about because he quit trying to do too much!

David Wilkerson tells a story in his book “The Cross and the Switchblade” that was a big help to him in his effort to reach the gangs in New York City with the gospel.  As you may or may not know Wilkerson was a “country preacher” in Pennsylvania when he was up one night paging through a Life Magazine.  He came to a story about a gang of teens in New York City who had murdered a handicapped kid.  God started speaking to Wilkerson about going to New York City.  Wilkerson could not get the thought out of his head and went back to the city numerous times.  He never got to meet the gang members he saw in the magazine, but he was led to have a city wide crusade for teens.  For four straight nights Wilkerson preached to a small amount of gang members with little or no success.  As he was driving home totally depressed from the lack of success of his efforts, a gang member who he had befriended said to him, “you are trying too hard.”  That little message from a gang member who knew nothing about God made Wilkerson laugh.  He realized that he was trying instead of leaving it to God.  That was the turning point as the next night when Wilkerson turned the whole effort over to God the big breakthrough occurred!  In the middle of his sermon with the gangs in their usual mockery mode Wilkerson bowed his head.  “Lord”, he said, “I’ve done all I can do, if any good is going to come out of this meeting it will have to be from your power.”  While he had his head bowed the room slowly became quiet.  Now Wilkerson could feel the presence of the spirit!  “He’s here”, he said “and he’s here to change your life today.”  When he gave the invitation many of the gang members actually ran up to the altar to have their lives changed.  All of this started when Wilkerson took the advice of a homeless gang member who knew nothing about God.  He realized that he was trying too hard and stepped out of the way so God could take over!

Sometimes I have to laugh when a person with high tech knowledge talks to me about what is wrong with my computer or what they did to fix it.  When they leave my head is spinning and I’m thinking “What did he just say?”  Usually it’s the case of don’t explain how electricity works to me, just show me where the light switch or where to plug it in.  The same can be said about God.  We don’t have to know how he works, we just need to know that he does!  We cannot supply the power, but if we plug in to his power he can do great things through us!  Thinking back on it I wasn’t entirely right in what I said to those teen basketball players that day.  I said “I can’t do anything.”  Actually there is something I can do.  Like Koufax and Wilkerson I can quit trying so hard.  I can plug myself into God’s power outlet and let him use me.

The Old TV

by Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The old TV sat in the corner,
we haven’t played it in years
A picture never lights the screen
but no one’s shedding tears

The old TV used to play
at morning and at night
It never failed to play for us
It was such an awesome sight

Some new models came to the store
We bought one on that day
The old one was still going strong
but we moved it out of the way

The new TV played for a while
then started going bad
The picture was so pretty
but repair bills made us mad

We called the repairman over,
Come and fix our new TV
He worked on it for hours
there’s plenty wrong, you see

the repairman had to marvel
what’s this classic doing there?
He was looking at the old set
but no one seemed to care

There’s nothing wrong with this old set
as far as I can see
I’ll pay you cash to take it home
price will no object be

We could not understand just why
he liked something that old
This TV was the best one made
at least that’s what he told

There’s nothing wrong with being old
this one is tried and true
This one is proven over time,
the other one is just new

Your Bible is like that old TV
It has a lot to say
But some think it’s outdated
so they move it out of the way

Don’t always think that things are best
Just because they are new
The Bible is the Word of God
It’s proven, tried and true.

Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take
refuge in him.

Proverbs 30:5

And The Survey Said

With the recent passing of Richard Dawson my thoughts go back to the show that made him a big star “The Family Feud”.  I always liked the game and the idea of families actually competing against other families.  It was always entertaining to play along and come up with an answer that you knew had to be on the board.

There probably isn’t anyone out there who is unfamiliar with “Family Feud” because it  appears on the Game Show Network.  However, the updated “Family Feuds” do not compare to the original with Richard Dawson as the host.  He had a way of making the show funny and entertaining.  Every lady on the show got a good luck kiss and the men a firm handshake.  He was very quick with his comebacks which were usually making fun of the contestants weird answers.

Each member of the family individually had to give an answer to the survey that was on the board.  The survey usually had between 4 and 10 answers that were listed from the most popular to the least.  One hundred people were surveyed for these questions and those surveys made the boards for later shows.  If the contestant gave an answer that was on the board the team got the number of points the survey had for that answer.  For instance if 20 people said the answer the contestant gave, the team  received that many points.  After the first round Richard would announce that the points were now doubled, then tripled.  A strike was given if the team member did not get one of the answers on the board.  Three strikes before all of the answers were revealed resulted in the other family getting a chance to steal all of the points with one correct answer.  When a family got 300 points they won the game and had a chance to play big money.  Two of the family members were picked and one went off stage.  They were both asked the same questions and had to supply a popular answer.  Their scores were combined and if they reached 200 points they got $10,000.  If not their point value was doubled and that is the amount they received along with a chance to defend their championship against another family the next day.

The “Family Feud” was intriguing.  It had me picturing in my mind what members of my family I would have on the show if I were on there.  Mostly though it gave me a chance to yell at the TV when I had a good answer that the contestant just couldn’t come up with.  So many times we would watch as a family member just couldn’t even come up with a guess..They got the big buzzer and big X.  Of course it is much easier sitting there in my living room answering the questions than it was for someone on stage with millions of people watching.  Somehow though at the time I didn’t take any of that into account.

My memories of that show brings me to the basic backbone of the show which were opinions.  Everyone seems to have an opinion but I think more and more our opinions are alike.  For instance with the elections coming up this year we have received many phone calls from pollsters trying to track our opinion to issues and candidates.  What is really interesting to me is that they can interview maybe 2,000 people with samples designed around percentages of the population.  The population of their survey may be 2 million people.  Yet from the small sample of say 2 thousand they can conclude within 2 % how people will vote or how people think in that population group.  My conclusion is that because we all watch or hear the same media be it TV or radio we start thinking alike or similar to a large number of people.

It’s funny looking at the pictures in my high school year book from 1975 and comparing them to pictures of graduating seniors today.  Almost every guy in my class had very long hair.  That look was popular and it was the in thing.  I worked in a clothing department for men at that time.  A new suit had just came out.  It was called the “Leisure Suit”.  When guys came in looking for a suit they loved those “Leisure Suits”.  We sold those colorful shiny shirts to wear under them along with beads.  The  idea that they could wear them in a casual setting or wear a tie with them too made it a suit for all occasions. Today we don’t see many “Leisure Suits”.  If you happen to spot somebody wearing one it makes you think they are in a 1970’s time warp.  What was popular and the “in thing” back then would be laughed at today.

The “popular” Leisure Suit look

I’m thinking of other popular things in their time.  The yo-yo comes to mind.  How about the hula hoop, bell bottom pants, elevator shoes, the mini skirt and the list goes on and on.  I remember when I first came to college it seemed like everyone I ran into had a cigarette in their mouth.  People didn’t think of the health effects at that time.  At work I remember when break rooms were filled with smoke and smokers.  Today if people want to smoke they have to go outside and so many feet from the building.  My point is that times change and opinions change.  Things that were accepted back then are questioned now.  Things that were questioned are now accepted.  It has to be hard to ride the waves of public opinion yet in many ways we all do.  It is natural to want to be accepted and popular.

If you seek it everyone will give you an opinion.  The common phrase is “If I were you” and then they will give a detailed step by step of exactly how you should handle the situation.  We need to be careful about the advice we seek and from who.  In the Bible we see examples of mentor relationships such as Paul with Timothy.  Seeking advice from a God fearing moral based person can be a very rewarding thing!  Not being careful in who we seek advice can leave us drifting in the wind of popularity.

We all have known that something was wrong but did it anyway.  Even though maybe nobody else knew we did.  We felt that feeling that just wasn’t right in our being.  We felt the guilt after the incident and knew down deep it was wrong.  It may have been a “popular” thing to do at the time, but God puts a little gauge in us that measures if we are staying on the path.  That is why the lie detector test works.  It is natural for measurable physical differences to occur when someone tells a lie.  When that steady line becomes erratic just as the question is being answered it is slotted into the untruth category.

Just as the backbone of the “Family Feud” was the survey, the backbone for the Christian is the Bible.  Sometimes watching an old “Family Feud” show we can see how dated it is.  How the “popular” answer back then is laughable now.  The Bible stays the same and has throughout the years.  It is the foundation of our faith and the hope that lives within us.  When you need answers to life’s questions go there.  It will lead you on the right path no matter what the survey said.

If I Had Gone To Hell

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

If I could spend five minutes in Hell
I’d have a change of view
Old ways of thinking would quickly change
I’d look at all things new

If I could see the torment there
and see the raging flames,
I know my thoughts and actions here
would never be the same

My prayer life would be different
the Word of God I’d know
if on a trip to Hell
for five minutes I did go

Things that seem important now
wouldn’t matter at that time
A trip to Hell for five minutes
would get my priorities back in line

If I saw and felt the anguish there
and gnashing of the teeth,
I’d never wish anyone here
that awful fate to meet

If I hurt for you like I would hurt
If I had been in Hell
I’d make the effort to let you know,
I’d give you a hard sell

Of just how bad it was in there,
a place no one should go
I’d tell you to get right with God
and Jesus come to know

I’d treat my neighbor the right way,
a light I’d truly be
I’d make sure that nobody would
go to Hell because of me

Lord give me a real burden,
get me out of my comfort shell
Let my actions be as if
I had gone to Hell.

He answered, “Then i beg you,
father, send Lazarus to my father’s
house, for I have five brothers.
Let him warn them, so that they
will not also come to this place
of torment.”

Luke 16:27-28

The Hell Experience

Jay Wilkerson was David Wilkerson’s (The Cross and The Switchblade) grandfather.  When David was going through a time where he needed someone to counsel with about where God was taking his life he decided to seek the advice of his elderly grandfather.  Jay was a preacher from way back.  In his younger days he was called a circuit rider.  It meant that he would travel by horseback from one little church establishment to another and fire up the congregation.  He also started up and organized new establishments.  In this setting Wilkerson was not called in to preach a dry sermon.  His mission was to bring action, a spark, excitement, repenting or whatever the church needed to become a growing entity in the community!

One night Wilkerson was preaching in a tent in Jamaica Long Island.  Earlier in the afternoon he had visited a friend in the hardware business.  Since it was the fourth of July weekend the topic turned to some of the fireworks his friend was selling.  Wilkerson ended up buying some sparklers from his friend.  The sparklers were supposed to crackle, pop, smoke, and spark when stepped on.  Wilkerson put them in a paper bag in his pocket and forgot about them.  Since it was around the 4th of July a lot of people had the time off so a large crowd was in the tent where Wilkerson was preaching that night.  He preached a fiery message about Hell with a vivid description.  As his message was peaking in it’s intensity he happened to put his hand in his pocket and felt the bag with the sparklers he had purchased earlier.  Casually he pushed them out of the bag from his pocket and onto the floor.  As his vivid description of Hell climaxed he stepped on those sparklers!  With the sound of popping and crackling and smoke rising from the front behind him,  people not only swore they were moved by the message, but  when he preached they could  see, hear, and smell the Hell he was describing!
Smoking fire

Hell is a rather controversial topic around Christians and non-believers alike.  Even the non-believers are sometimes quick to tell someone to “Go to Hell.”   Yet if they really knew the enormity of their words I’m sure that they would never wish that on anyone.  Bill Wiese wrote a book on an experience he claims to have had.  It is titled “23 Minutes in Hell”.  He wrote that his journey occurred so that he could come back and tell others of the horrendous reality of his experience.  He makes the point in the introduction of his book that in today’s society “warnings serve to protect us from harm.”  He states  that in real estate “contracts are written to protect the buyer and disclose to that buyer all facts known.  In fact the buyer would be outraged if he or she was not given full disclosure.”  He continues his argument with this question “What loving parent does not warn his or her children to not play on a busy street?  When the sky turns dark and the winds increase, we look to our local news channel to communicate tornado or hurricane warnings.  So why is it that when God warns us of what will happen if we travel down the wrong road, we are quick to say he is myopic or condemning?  Or we say he is judgmental!  The truth is that he warns us because he is a good God.”  Since his experience Wiese has been on a mission telling people of a place that he knows exists from first hand experience.  He tells them of the torture as he details his experience in that awful place.

I heard a sermon years ago called “5 Minutes In Hell”.  The main point of the sermon was that an experience of going to Hell would surely change our lives as it seems to have for Wiese.  I wrote a poem about that sermon that I will share next.  I think the 5 minutes mentioned in the sermon would be more than enough time to come back a changed person!

Recently I was on a trip through Kentucky.  We stopped at a flea market off of the highway.  It happened to be a place where devastating tornadoes had just touched down within a few miles just the week before.  I was astonished to find that most of the people I asked had not taken cover.  Their attitude was best summed up by the man who rang us up.  “We get warnings here all of the time”, he stated.  Seeing just a glimpse of the wreckage from the highway was enough to convince me that if there is a tornado warning I will always take cover!

The Bible mentions Hell over 150 times.  According to the Bible it is a real place.  Since most of us will not experience a trip to Hell in this lifetime maybe we can get enough of a glimpse from books like Wiese’s or sermons like I heard.  Maybe we can warn people to not play on the busy streets of sin.  Instead we may encourage them to take the narrow path that leads to eternal life in Heaven.  Wiese concludes his introduction to his book with these inspiring words, “My sincere hope is that this book is the closest you will ever come to experiencing this reality for yourself.”  Jay Wilkerson would have concluded that if a few sparklers stepped on at the right time would help people avoid Hell so be it!
fire01

If I Had Gone To Hell

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

If I could spend five minutes in Hell
I’d have a change of view
Old ways of thinking would quickly change
I’d look at all things new

If I could see the torment there
and see the raging flames,
I know my thoughts and actions here
would never be the same

My prayer life would be different
the Word of God I’d know
if on a trip to Hell
for five minutes I did go

Things that seem important now
wouldn’t matter at that time
A trip to Hell for five minutes
would get my priorities back in line

If I saw and felt the anguish there
and gnashing of the teeth,
I’d never wish anyone here
that awful fate to meet

If I hurt for you like I would hurt
If I had been in Hell
I’d make the effort to let you know,
I’d give you a hard sell

Of just how bad it was in there,
a place no one should go
I’d tell you to get right with God
and Jesus come to know

I’d treat my neighbor the right way,
a light I’d truly be
I’d make sure that nobody would
go to Hell because of me

Lord give me a real burden,
get me out of my comfort shell
Let my actions be as if
I had gone to Hell.

He answered, “Then i beg you,
father, send Lazarus to my father’s
house, for I have five brothers.
Let him warn them, so that they
will not also come to this place
of torment.”

Luke 16:27-28

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