Sloppin’ The Hogs

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Sloppin’ The Hogs

James R. Aist

This episode happened when I was a Junior at Springdale (Arkansas) High School and a member of the Student Council. We were charged with the task of discussing current issues affecting the student body and making recommendations to the school administration on behalf of the students. A new member of the Student Council, let’s call him “Ricky”, was a well-respected, if a bit naïve, Sophomore growing up on a farm located in an outlying area of our Consolidated School District. Now, Ricky typically didn’t say much, but when he did it was straight and to the point, often with an element of country wisdom and flavor.

The year was 1961, the early days of the “mini-skirt.” These articles of female apparel were getting shorter and shorter, prompting some of the parents to press the school administration to come up with a new dress code that would prevent this trend from going too far…up. So, one day the Student Council was discussing just how short we reckoned the skirts should be allowed to get, while trying to strike a delicate balance between personal liberties and raging hormones.

About 15-20 minutes into the discussion, arguments both for and against shorter skirts had been batted around without any clear consensus. Just when it seemed that we were not going to be able to agree on just how much farther above the knee the skirts should be allowed to drift, Ricky just couldn’t hold back any longer and rose to speak to the issue. “If we let the mini-skirts get any shorter”, he said, “that’ll be like sloppin’ the hogs, and then telling ’em not to eat!”

Well, after a short pause to let his argument sink in, there was a brief outburst of spontaneous laughter that changed the atmosphere of the discussion altogether, as you might imagine. We weren’t so much laughing at Ricky as at the quaint, powerful, and humorous country metaphor he had come up with to get his point across. I don’t remember what we recommended to the administration, but I’ll never forget the wisdom that was wrapped up in such a simple, but effective, illustration that only an Arkansas farm boy could have come up with.

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)

The Spirits Know!

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The Spirits Know!

James R. Aist

“Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-12)

In a previous article (click HERE), I wrote about the faith of demons. Demons are evil spirits or fallen angels who know perfectly well who Jesus is, but they do not acknowledge Him as their Lord. Nonetheless, when they stood before Jesus and He commanded them, they submitted to His authority and obeyed (Matthew 8:28-32). In this article, I will expand this theme to include the human spirits of mankind.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of a human spirit knowing who Jesus is, can be seen in the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Lazarus had been dead for four days, and his body was already stinking. So, when Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come out!”, He was commanding his spirit, not his body. In obedience, his spirit returned immediately to his body, and Lazarus was revived. The spirit of the man, Lazarus, recognized and obeyed the voice of the one whose name (i.e., authority and power) is above every name (Philippians 2:9).

With that background in mind, let me ask this: In view of Philippians 2:9-12 (see above), have you ever wondered why evil angels and even the vilest of unregenerate men and women will, one day – despite their continued rebellion against God – bow down before Jesus and confess that He is Lord? I believe that the answer lies in the fact that all angelic and human spirits were created by the one and only true God, in the person of Jesus Christ. They all know that their creator is the chief of all spirits and that, because He has all authority and power, He can do with them whatever He wants to. And for that reason, the angelic spirits and the human spirits will, in the end, go to the place where Jesus sends them: the devil and his angels to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10), the righteous people in Christ to everlasting life with God in heaven (Matthew 13:43), and the unrighteous people to everlasting torment, also in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

The spirits know who is in charge and that they can only obey Him. I believe its a Spirit-to-spirit encounter that automatically transcends and overrules all other conceivable discourse.

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Blind Trust Or Treasures In Heaven?

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Blind Trust Or Treasures In Heaven?

James R. Aist

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in nor steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Sometimes we cross paths with strangers whose kindness is so extraordinary that it leaves us asking, “Who does that?” This is a true story of just such an encounter that I still find to be mind-boggling every time think about it.

At the time, I was a graduate student, and we were headed to London, Ontario, where I would conduct a research project during the summer that would be helpful to my career development. Because it was not far out of our way, we decided this would be a great opportunity to camp for a week in the Adirondack Mountains, before moving on to London.

Unfortunately, there was a hurricane making its way North that, although considerably weakened by the time it got to New York, still was packing strong winds and lots of cold rain. For some reason, we were not aware that we were camping through a hurricane until after the fact, but we were very much aware that we and our camping gear were cold, damp and wet, and that we were fed up with being confined to our small tent for most of a week just trying to stay as warm and dry as possible.

Now, here comes the good part. An older couple “camping” comfortably next to us in a large, dry and warm camper had befriended us during the week, offering to have us spend some time with them to get warm and dry. But, alas and alack, when it came time for us to pack up and leave, we were neither warm nor dry. They picked up on our suffering, and, having pity on us, made us a most amazing offer. These total strangers would lend us the keys to their house – which was right on our way to London – so that we could spend the night there and get us and our camping gear dry, warm and clean for the final leg of our journey the next day! They even invited us to eat their food and help ourselves to their strawberry patch, which was in peak production at the time. We could hardly believe our ears; who does that? We knew that they could trust us with their stuff, but they didn’t. Such a thing can only come from generous hearts that are extraordinarily trusting and compassionate. They watched us suffer through the wind, rain and cold for a week, and then stepped up and did what they could do to help us out. Of course, we couldn’t refuse their offer and were richly blessed by their act of kindness.

I still can’t fully wrap my mind around it, though. What motivated them to make such a kind and generous offer? Were they so fully detached from their earthly belongings that they really didn’t care if we ripped them off? Or, perhaps, were they such good judges of character that they had a way of knowing that we would not rip them off? I don’t know. But, this one thing I do know: this precious couple humbly lived out, if even for only this one encounter, the heart and spirit of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:19-21. They surely made a sizable deposit into their heavenly treasury that day, I can tell you!

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)

Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

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Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

James R. Aist

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)

Different Christian “traditions” have developed their own “catch phrases” to represent biblical truths with simplicity, and, as such, they can be useful tools of communication in the Christian “world.” But some catch phrases do not accurately convey sound doctrine or theology, however well-intended. This article addresses an important example of a popular, yet misleading, catch phrase.

The catch phrase I have in mind occurs at the end of a “salvation message”, when the evangelist encourages the congregation to “ask Jesus into your life”, or something equivalent in different words.  As I was meditating briefly on this particular invitation – which I have heard on several occasions – a red flag went up. So, I paused to meditate further to try and identify the reason for the red flag.

Then it dawned on me: Do we really want to ask Jesus to join us in our sinful, worldly lives? Is that what it means to be born again? Of course not! When salvation comes, it is not us inviting Jesus to join our lives; rather, it is Jesus who is inviting us to join Him in His life, that is, eternal life.

And, these two kinds of life are of a fundamentally different nature. The life we are born into is a temporary, physical, biological life in which we are separated from God. The life that Jesus invites us to enter into is a spiritual life in which we are connected to God forever, just as He originally intended when He created mankind. Being “born again” produces a truly “new life” in our experience, and it can be ours only when we stop resisting God and let Him save us.

That said, there are surely very important ways in which Jesus does want to bless and change us during the remainder of our biological life. For example, He insists that we let Him become our Lord by being obedient to His teachings and to all of the other moral laws contained in the written word of God, the Bible. This means that the true born-again experience will result in a life that is characterized by the forsaking of evil works and the practice of good works. If these signs of a true believer are absent, then we have not yet received the gift of “saving faith”, but instead, we have received “dead faith” (James 2:14-17). Such faith is worse than worthless, because it leaves us believing that our sin problem has been taken care of, when it has not!

Revelation 22:7 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let him who hears say, “Come.” Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely.” This is an invitation from God for you to become connected to Him, sharing His life forever. The “Spirit” is God’s Holy Spirit, the “bride” and “him who hears” is the company of born-again, true believers in Jesus Christ. All of these are inviting you to enter into God’s eternal life. Those who desire to accept this invitation may take the water of life freely. So, if this is you, I strongly urge you to say “yes” to this invitation now, because everlasting life with God in heaven depends on it! There is no other way (John 14:6).

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)