Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



September/October Issue 2005 - Volume 24   Number 5

Peace In the Midst of Strife



“Adam & Eve and Reality Television”

"And the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"         Genesis 3:4-5

I am not a fan of reality television.  Even though these shows have gained in popularity in recent years, the more they multiply the more far-out and bizarre they become. It seems that they are vying with one another to see who can come up with the grossest themes and who can offend what should be normal, human sensibilities. Sometimes they are plain and simply dangerous.

A headline in Rural Arkansas (March 2005) warned: "Electrical Safety Is Real, Sometimes Television Is Not." The article described a stunt performed on a network television show which placed contestants within the proximity of an electric substation where they received minor shocks. The stunt gave the illusion that it was being held within a substation---something that is extremely dangerous, even fatal.

Satan was not using trick photography when he deceived Eve in the garden. Satan told a lie and Eve believed it. Satan did entice her by pointing out the desirable qualities of the fruit on the tree, but both Adam and Eve had been forewarned by God about the consequences of eating the fruit of this tree. Sometimes reality dawns on us when it is too late.

Speaking of the real and the unreal, Paul said the things that we see are temporal but the unseen things are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). Reality television might argue that point, but trick photography can't deny the truth.




“Peace That Passes Understanding”

“Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:6-7

By prayer we may know a peace which passes understanding. But what is the nature of such peace? Many people read this passage and think that Paul is speaking of a degree of peace. To interpret it in this way is to destroy much of its meaning. The peace here referred to is a quality of peace rather than a degree.

When all the circumstances that surround our lives are such as to leave us no ground for discontent we have an understood peace. Such a peace is pleasant but very insubstantial. Even in the moment of such peace we are still disturbed by the knowledge that it cannot last. Men and circumstances will not always cooperate with our desires in such a way as to keep us ever in a state of peace.

The only enduring peace that men can know is the peace that passeth understanding. It is a peace that is not dependent on men and circumstances. It is a peace that continues in the midst of life’s worst storms, when the howling winds of discord scream menacingly around the battered edges of the soul. In a time when calamity threatens, when fair-weather friends turn their backs, and when all those prospects that once looked so inviting have not assumed a dark and dreadful mask, this peace can still be ours. It is an inexplicable peace.

There is, of course, no way to explain a peace that passeth understanding. If we cannot even understand it, how shall we explain it? But though Paul attempts no explanation, he does point a direction. He tells us how to come by it. You cannot analyze it; you cannot understand it; but you can know it.

Seek out a quiet place where you can be alone. Take your Bible with you. Sit quietly for a few minutes and still the raging tempest of selfish thoughts. Then read some favorite passage. Stop and meditate on it. Know that “God is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Know the greatness of God, that no problem is too big for him, nor any care that troubles you too small for him to notice. Consider the love of God that reaches out to surround you. God is infinite. That which is infinite has no boundaries. God then is everywhere. He is above you but he is also through you and in you. You do not need to climb up to him. You do not even need to reach out. He is here, with you, now.

You have no secrets from God. Whatever is in your heart you may freely speak. Tell him all your dreams. Confess to him your sins. Speak to him of your heart’s desire. He will hear. And knowing that he hears let your heart open to him in simple loving praise and thanksgiving. Thank him for all the beauty that he has created. Thank him for the preservation of your life. Thank him for the opportunities this hour offers. Thank him for the joy and peace you feel right now seeping into your soul.

Suddenly you will find yourself lost in a gloriously exalted mood of adoration. This is one of God’s highest gifts to man. Your whole soul will be singing. Your troubles will have grown smaller. The ugliness of life that may have distressed you will be seen as it is, thin and insubstantial before the overwhelming reality of the eternal God. On the material plane nothing has happened and yet you have found peace. It is the peace which passes understanding. And such a peace from such a prayer is productive even on the material plane, never doubt it. Temporarily, at least, the clamoring has gone out of your life. You are aligned with the will of God. You know that eventually that will must be triumphant, and you desire nothing else. You are prepared to face life with a new strength. Thus have you found peace through prayer.

...The late N. E. Rhodes, Jr.

From Christian Appeal, January 1965



“Hope Seen Through Tears”

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”          1Thessalonians 4:13

There is no time better than bereavement to demonstrate the effectiveness of faith. Our religion is supposed to uphold us in hours of testing. Our behavior during a time of crisis can be a powerful recommendation of our faith.

A great preacher late in life made this statement: “I have preached a great gospel, but remember that Jesus Christ is greater than anything I have ever said about him.” Do you know this Jesus?

A bereaved family, going through the personal belongings of their dead father, found a diary. On a page dated the day before his death, they found these words:  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” The way we take bereavement, bear illness, face criticism, or face death is an eloquent testimonial to the reality of our faith.

Out of a quarter century’s experience in preaching funerals, I can testify to the fact that there is a difference in the sorrow of a real Christian suffering bereavement and the sorrow of a man without hope. This is true because there is a heaven waiting and the Christian believes it with all his heart. He believes in a future relieved of pain and failing powers; a place where all are young and well and strong again; where all are beautiful, and serve God night and day, and never grow tired.

We travel the dusty road

  Till the light of day grows dim.

The sunset shows us spires

  Away on the next world’s lofty rim.

In 2 Timothy 1:10 we read, “Blessed be God, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Oh you Christians, how rich you are! It makes a mighty difference to believe in Christ.

There is a sense in which bereavement, though always hard to bear, can be of real value to the Christian. Most of us are bitterly conscious of the extent to which we are at the mercy of ever more insistent pressures and demands of the carnal world on our attention and time. They call out the least spiritual side of our nature. Often, with the best intentions, under plea of good works, family duties, and social obligations, we capitulate to the surface activities of existence. We forget that awestruck upward glance which is the mark of a spiritual man. We lose all sense of proportion, become fussy, restless, full of things that simply must be done, oblivious to the only reason why anything should be done. Prayers become more and more like supernatural shopping lists, less and less like conversation between love ones. We have no time to rest in the Lord. But suddenly death strikes within our own circle and we stop. Our eyes follow the retreating footsteps of death and the worldly interest we had set our hearts on seems thin and papery. From this day forth we shall think more of heaven, for we have a treasure there. We shall listen for the whisper and look for the light that comes from beyond the world.

I remember years ago standing in a high pasture in the Rockies, surrounded by strange, almost unearthly mountain life. I was filled with that deep sense of solemn grandeur which hardly anything else can give to those who have the mountain sense. There was a rough path before me leading up to the next ridge and beyond that ridge I could see the glistening summits of snowy peaks. The near hills were only an earnest of what was still above, waiting for the climber who was not afraid. As I gazed at those peaks, I seemed to get smaller and smaller. But as I did, in a quiet and solemn way, I also grew happier and found a strange peace in my heart.

It can be like that when death strikes too. I felt much the same way when I stood over the fresh grave of my mother. I wept, but they were not bitter tears, for I remembered that day in the Rockies and what it had taught me. I remembered climbing that next ridge and being amazed at the new scene that opened before me. From my lower position I had seen but a tenth part of the beauty that awaited. So it is as we struggle upward. We stand in the midst of bereavement and there is nothing much around us but rock and shale. But still the Christian remembers that he has started a climb toward glory and the heights are ahead. Along the way more and greater spiritual beauty will be revealed and we know that at last, when the summit is reached, the Christ who is with us and in us invisibly now shall be visible then and shall bring with him all the blessed loved ones who preceded us. With the rough path behind us we shall forget the sharp rocks and long thorns and bruised knees. We shall remember only the beauty and joy of the climb and shall look back to see beauty even in those spots where formerly we met only pain. Then indeed we shall shout with Paul, “O death, where is they sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

...The late N. E. Rhodes, Jr.

From Christian Appeal, November 1967



Peace,  Perfect  Peace


                            Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin:

                              The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

                           Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed:

                              To do the will of Jesus---this is rest.

                           Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round:

                             On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

                          Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away:

                             In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

                         Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown:

                             Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

                         It is enough; earth’s struggles soon shall cease,

                            And Jesus call us to heaven’s perfect peace.


                                                            …Edward H. Bickersteth



“Explanation Of God”


{According to an email I received on September 13, 2005, this explanation of God was written by 8 year-old, Danny Dutton of Chula Vista, CA, for his third grade homework assignment. The assignment was to explain God.}

One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers."

God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, liike preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.

God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.

Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in town... At least there aren't any who come to our church.

Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.

His dad God appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.

You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip church or do something you think will be more fun like going to the

beach. This is wrong and besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.

If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids

But you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases. And that's why I believe in God.




“To Pray Or To Putt

Last week, ol’ man Lister took the parson and me to the Limburg Links golf course for a round of golf.  Usually the two have a conversation about philosophy, theology, and other such topics, but this time Lister was unusually quiet.

He pulled me aside and said, “Kid, every time I play golf with the parson, he beats me like a rug.  I'm going to watch carefully today to discover his secret.”

We both began to notice that when the parson prepared to putt, he seemed silently to mouth a brief prayer.  And every time he did, the ball dropped in the hole.

Ol' man Lister finally said, “Parson, I think I've discovered your secret.  Do you think that if I pray before I putt, the ball will go in just like yours does?”

The parson simply replied, “Not likely.”

“Why not?” Lister demanded, “Is it because I can’t pray like a preacher?”

The parson said, “Nope, it's because you can't putt.”

You know...I reckon he's right.

...Steve McLean

Lockney, Texas