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Archive for May 2010

The Wall of Life

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Over ten years ago, I heard this read by my daughter in law Courtney, and acted out by my son Martyn II during a Church Anniversary Service. – MJB

The Wall of Life

by

Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Liked”. I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was
watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Betrayed”.

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Read”, “Lies I Told”, “Comfort I Gave”, “Jokes I Laughed At”. Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Did in Anger”, “Things I Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents”. I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Listened To”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Shared the Gospel With”. The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwheming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many
things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

“No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

††

(Thanks to Sis. Eunice Padgett for finding the author’s name for me. He also wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye.)

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 24, 2010 at 8:34 am

Posted in Mercy

Why Do You Need The Holy Ghost?

with 8 comments

In Anticipation For Pentecost Sunday, Here Is One Of My Power Points On The Holy Ghost.

“Why Do You Need The Holy Ghost?”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Holy Ghost

With A Storm This Bad, It’s Hard To See Jesus

with 5 comments

With A Storm This Bad, It’s Hard To See Jesus

“Carest Thou Not That We Perish?”

More times than we wish to remember, life hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The journey that had been uneventful up to this point is now interrupted by sheer panic. What do we do? Where do we turn? How do we cope? How do we survive? The answers to those questions, for the disciples, were found in Jesus.

  • Mark 4:36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
  • Mark 4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
  • Mark 4:38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
  • Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
  • Mark 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

There are times when even professionals can’t help themselves. This was their boat. They were commercial fishermen. They knew these waters. They could handle a boat like this. It was the unexpected that caused them to panic now. All it would take was one good storm to sink them and they knew it. They looked at the size of the waves with increasing fear. They just knew this was the end.

  • A great storm of wind and waves was beating into the boat.
  • The fierceness of the wind was unbelievable.
  • The waves were very high.
  • The boat rocked.
  • Water was coming over the sides.
  • It was just a matter of time.

All along they had known that Jesus was on board. They all knew that he had performed unbelievable miracles. Now was the time when they needed a miracle. This storm didn’t look like one that could be survived.

  • They looked at the storm.
  • They looked at their boat.
  • They looked at each other in their despair.
  • They looked at Jesus and wondered why He hadn’t done something by now.
  • They looked back at the storm.
  • With a storm this bad it was hard to keep their eyes focused on Jesus.
  • They couldn’t see Jesus for the storm.
  • They couldn’t understand why He didn’t recognize their need.
  • They were pained by His lack of response to their need.
  • Was He waiting for them to go to Him?
  • If He knew everything, why didn’t He fix this problem for them?

Finally, they got to the point where they could no longer be polite or considerate. They were desperate. They woke Him up.

If the storm wind is howling, and the boat is rocking it will take more than a tap on the shoulder or a whisper to wake Him up. They would have to holler above the sound of the wind to be heard. Or they would have to jostle Him more than the rocking boat for Him to be roused. Whatever it took, they did it successfully.

Jesus arose (When God stands up something is going to happen.) and He rebuked the wind and said to sea, “Peace, be still.” And immediately there was a great calm.

He then chided them for not having faith in Him.

 

Question?

Is this story Descriptive or Prescriptive?

  • Is it just ‘describing’ a story about a day a long time ago or is it written in His Word to ‘prescribe’ hope for you in your storm today?

Answer!

It was more than just a feel good story. It’s a story that I can place myself into. It’s a story for you to insert yourself inside.

Your storm may overwhelm you today. Your storm may be one of:

  • Financial emergency
  • Serious health concerns
  • Relationship problems
  • Spiritual oppression
  • Chemical dependency
  • Emotional upheaval
  • Whatever the storm, be comforted that the Peace Speaker is in the boat.

 

He rebuked the wind, the cause of the problem. I am not sure what He said to the wind. But it stopped immediately.

He then spoke calmness to the sea. It laid down like a rug on the ground.

God will rebuke the storm for you today. He will speak Peace to your troubled waters. He will say the word that brings an end to your storm!

 

Verse 36 mentioned that there were other little boats following them. I would hate to be in any of life’s storms without Jesus in my boat.

Be encouraged today. Why are ye so fearful? Jesus is in your boat! He’s standing up even now!

 

 

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 22, 2010 at 12:28 am

Posted in Comfort, Faith, Life, Trust

I’m Talking About Your Pastor And That Other Guy

with 16 comments

I’m Talking About Your Pastor And That Other Guy

He’s God’s gift to you and your church. His office as Pastor is to be honored, and I personally thank you for loving him.

On occasion, your Pastor will invite a guest speaker or an evangelist. He wants you to like them and enjoy their ministry. It’s a compliment to his good judgment of preachers and ministries if you do.

Where there becomes an issue that is uncomfortable for your Pastor and his friends is when you give the guest preachers nicer and more frequent compliments than you give to your own Pastor.

After all, he’s the one that worries over you, prays for you, counsels with you and answers to God for you. Not the others. They may like you, they may like you a lot, but there is a line that must be drawn between them and you.

Make sure you give better compliments to your own Pastor than you do to anyone else.

It’s kind of like a man giving another woman a compliment and he doesn’t even compliment his own wife. Something is very wrong in their relationship. Something is very wrong with your relationship with the Man of God if you are guilty concerning this.

A seasoned evangelist can often spot those that have a problem with their Pastor and then try to give the guest the personal attention and honor that belongs to their Man of God.  That is just so wrong.

It even gets more complicated than this.

There are many Godly, precious people who dearly love their Pastor and would never knowingly do a thing to injure him. In innocence they attempt to interact with another preacher they admire and sometimes feel put off or hurt because of the lack of warmth in his response to them. Actually, in good conscience, he can’t. So don’t take it personal. He does like you and appreciate you, he’s just trying to be careful.

In the day of Facebook, emails and text messaging, don’t try to personally interact with other preachers (unless they are family or life long friends) no matter how much you like them. It becomes quite an uncomfortable position for ‘ethical minded’ preachers.

Don’t expect him to respond to your emails, or private messages. His loyalty is to your pastor. Do you realize that if word got out that an evangelist was having conversation, exchanging emails, phone calls, private messages on Facebook, and text messages with saints, that his days as an evangelist are numbered? It’s not right for you or him. Don’t give him your information and don’t let him give you his.

Any contact with other preachers should be directed through your Pastor. If he sees fit to pass your message or request on, then fine. If he doesn’t, then trust his judgment. He knows what he’s doing and why. Your spiritual safety is his greatest concern. Work with him on that.

Guest preachers that ‘work the crowd’ by lingering long with each saint and learning personal things about their world should raise everyone’s eyebrows. Most evangelists know to stay on the platform after service or near the Pastor for proprietary’s sake.

If you don’t understand why, imagine you as a woman contacting, calling, writing or leaving messages for a male acquaintance of your husband.  Or maybe it’s him calling you. Your husband would have serious questions for you both, and rightly so.

If he didn’t run when you called, then if he has even part of a conscience, he would not be comfortable anymore around your Pastor because of guilt. He’d know he had crossed the line of ministerial ethics. His days would be over. It’s not worth it for him or you.

If you love your Pastor then protect him. Protect how he feels about you. Protect his relationship with other preachers. Protect yourself. He’ll love you all the more for it too.

On his behalf, I thank you.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Ministry

The Importance of A Low Standard

with 13 comments

The Importance of A Low Standard

Coming from a very conservative background has developed in me an absolute and unchangeable love for Holiness. I have been raised to respect the convictions of others; they could be right!

I grew up hearing Holiness preached by men who lived what they preached. Their ministry instilled carefulness in me that I never wish to let go of. I was taught the necessity of convictions and the importance of dress standards. I am doing my best to hang on to everything that was given to me. Every generation has to get this for themselves. I believe there is much safety in Holy living.

The saddest moments in Apostolic conversation is when in hushed tones, the name of a ‘Holiness’ preacher or a respected saint who messed, is mentioned. The groups that mock Holiness seem to express great joy over the event. Evidently the moral failure of a conservative makes liberal people feel justified about their own lack of convictions.

We all have heard of people with High Standards that still fell into sin. Evidently, their High Standards didn’t keep them from messing up. With that in mind, I wish to suggest the importance of a Low Standard.

A Low Standard? Absolutely!

All of us, in addition to having a High Standard, should also have a Low Standard. By that I mean, there should be something in your heart that draws a line and says:

  • I refuse to stoop any lower than this.
  • I will never cross this bottom line I’ve drawn.
  • This is as bad as I will ever allow things to get.
  • I desire to protect my morals, so here is where I draw the line.
  • I wish to preserve my walk with God, so right here is where those other activities stop.
  • I don’t want to displease God by how I dress. Regardless of fashion, here is where I draw the line.

Others may do things I cannot do. They may go places I cannot go. They may wear things I cannot wear. The reason I cannot do what they do is because I have a “Low Standard” and I refuse to allow my walk with God to stoop to that level.

Interstate Speed Limit Signs tell you what the High Standard is. They also tell you what the Low Standard is. The signs are saying, if you wish to drive on this road, you must pay attention to both.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 21, 2010 at 12:12 am

The Day God Quit Going To Church.

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The Day God Quit Going To Church.

Isa. 1:10-17

The Message Bible

10“Listen to my Message,
you Sodom-schooled leaders.
Receive God’s revelation,
you Gomorrah-schooled people.

11-12“Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
God’s asking.
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don’t you think I’ve had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

13-17“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.

When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 20, 2010 at 12:25 am

Posted in Christian Living

What’s Going To Happen To Your Mantle?

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What’s Going To Happen To Your Mantle?

As a father and a grandfather, it becomes easy for me to see the importance of imparting things both natural and spiritual to my children and grandchildren.

It is important in my mind that they all have the benefit of learning from my mistakes and life experiences. It’s not right that I should make them start where I started. I want them to be able to start where I finished. After all, I had help. I want to boost them as high as I can and then let them build on from there.

Look at these Bible characters. One Prophet passed his mantle, one didn’t. To a Prophet, his mantle was an important and powerful symbol.

Elijah:

1. Cast his mantle on Elisha as he passed by as an invitation to join him in ministry.

  • 1Kings 19:19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

2. Used it to perform miracles.

  • 2Kings 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

3. Left his mantle behind as a gift to his protégé.


  • 2Kings 2:13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
  • 2Kings 2:14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

That is the story we love to preach about. The power packed lives and ministries of those men are not easily forgotten. They impacted their generations.

Samuel:

Where would you have to go to find a better example of what a Prophet should be?

Yet his sons were wicked. They had not learned to love the things of God as had Samuel. Regardless, he promoted them and appointed them judges even though God had not sanctioned them.

  • 1Sam. 8:1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
  • 1Sam. 8:2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.
  • 1Sam. 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

In King Saul’s final hours he visits the witch of Endor. The Prophet Samuel has died. Saul has no direction. God has ignored him. He asks the witch to bring up Samuel so he can talk to him.

  • 1Sam. 28:11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
  • 1Sam. 28:12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
  • 1Sam. 28:13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
  • 1Sam. 28:14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

Samuel died still in possession of his mantle.

I wonder how different some chapters would have read if his mantle had been passed on.

Don’t die still wrapped up in your mantle. Take the time to invest yourself in the following generations.

  • Don’t get too possessive of your mantle!
  • Someone else really needs you to give it to them.
  • There’s still much work to be done in God’s Kingdom.

What’s Going To Happen To Your Mantle?

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 19, 2010 at 12:58 am