Category Archives: Editorial

Jeremy’z Journey to return next week

My apologies but there will not be a “Jeremy’z Journey” column this week, the week of June 6, 2012. Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Our Journey with Christ is continuing and is unwavering. We continue to look to Him to supply our needs and answer our prayers according to His will. I look forward to continuing my walk with Christ, and reporting to you all along my journey, which will continue (in writing) next week. Again, please remember us in your prayers this week.

Your brother in Christ,

Jeremy Z. Young

Jeremy’z Journey: Who is Peter? Part II

As mentioned in an earlier posting, I find the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water to be quite interesting. If you would like to read the first observation I made about the story, it can be found in the April, 25, 2012 column titled Jeremy’z Journey: Of course Jesus can walk on water! But who is Peter? As I read over this historical account in the gospel of Matthew, I realized another analogy that can be made from this passage that can teach us Christians a lesson.
If you would like to read in the Bible, it is Matthew 14:28-33. Here are those verses from the New International Version:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” He said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When discussing Matthew’s unbeknownst parable in the writing earlier this year, I had no idea there would be a part two. But while studying in another book of the Bible, my mind wandered back to this passage. I think God allowed my mind to come back to one of my favorite passages in Matthew because both are about the Church.
The disciples were on the boat, possibly wondering when Jesus would meet up with them again. They were most likely discussing the miracle He had just performed before sending them out to sea. The “crowd” mentioned in the above verses was a crowd of 5,000. Jesus had just fed all of the 5,000 with a mere five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21). They were probably praising Him and God the Father for this miracle they had just witnessed.
Then Jesus came to them, walking on the water and Peter asked to come out to Him.
This account has taught me a number of things about Jesus over the years, and Peter as well. But this week, I think I have discovered a new hidden parable for this modern world in which we live.
Again I’m not a college-degreed Bible theologian, but I will present you this new lesson I feel can be learned from this. The boat could represent the Church. Not just my church, or your church or the church down the street from your house, but the Church as a whole. The church, with us believers in tow, makes its way through the choppy, buffeting waters. Again, the water represents the world around us – around the church.
We, the boat’s crew, or church members, get in our boat every Sunday, have a lesson or discussion about the Bible (Sunday school) and then come together for music, praise, prayer and a message. We feel safe in the boat. We know people in the boat. We are comfortable in the boat. There’s usually even a time period when we walk around the boat and shake hands with other crew members we haven’t seen since last week’s boating adventure. Some of us even venture to say, “Amen,” during the message the pastor is sharing, while others are brave enough to send a hand upward in praise during a spiritually touching song.
But would we ever dare to step out of the boat? We share our faith with an upstretched hand while at church, but do we have the courage to praise Him outside those walls? Would we dare say “Amen” once those doors are shut and the “day” doesn’t start with “Sun”?
So I will once again pose the question: Who is Peter? I am Peter! You are Peter! Jesus wants us all to be Peter. He wants us all to have the courage to say, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Don’t get me wrong, God loves it when we go to church regularly, and I wouldn’t dare tell anyone not to. It is the place where we gather together to worship Him; to pray together and to learn about God together. It’s the place where we share with the crew what God is doing in our individual lives. It is also the place where we find our strength – where we can find our courage – to stand up in the world and tell someone about what God has done for us. God wants us to have that fellowship with one another.
God puts us in the lives of people who need to know Him, and man, they’re sinking in the world – or water. He wants us to help those people up out of the water, so that they can join us on our walk. He has already given us redemption, and is continually granting us His forgiveness. He just wants us to take hold of His courage and ask to come join Him on the water; to join Him on the shifting waters of the world; to join Him in the mission field all around us and all around the church.
He will give us the courage, strength and the words to speak to those around us. All we have to do is ask Him and to trust in Him, and He will guide us. He has the power to help our lost and sinking friends and family members up out of the rough waters just by sticking out His loving hand.
And just as I pointed out in the earlier writing; just as He rescued Peter; just as He rescued and saved each of us Christians; just as it states in the scripture above: He will forgive, and pull those around us up out of their sin, “Immediately!”
Father God, We pray that our lives will serve You as a constant reflection of Your love and forgiveness; Your saving grace and Your light. Please give us the strength and understanding to recognize the opportunities You give us to share Your light, love, grace and forgiveness with others. But most importantly, give us the courage to act on each-and-every one of those opportunities. We love You and thank You for everything You have blessed us with and we want to serve You by telling those in our lives who don’t know You, exactly how wonderful You have always been for all of us. Amen!

Aunt Hester’s General Store: Almost Back To Normal

Well, My Darlings, it seems that most of the traffic that was streaming through our area has stopped for the most part and things are getting back to normal. Normal . . . what does that really mean, here in Campbell County?

Many folks did nothing during this period of heavy traffic but complain and complain. Others, accepted the situation and made the best of it. Some saw this as a chance to participate in something that benefitted so many other people from all over this country. It’s amazing how so many folks around here don’t realize they’re a part of the State of Tennessee and not living in isolation.

I’ve always understood the fact that nothing that goes on in any other part of this state or this nation, for that matter, doesn’t go on right here in Campbell County. Of course, it happens to a lesser degree, but it’s right here on a daily basis. Yes, death, taxes, political corruption, sex, drugs, and Rock N’ Roll.

For years, I’ve watched and listened as some folks do every thing they can to deny that these things exist. And with all that denial, comes the fact that you can’t isolate yourself and pretend that some things don’t exist. When you do that, it just makes the situation worse and you don’t have the time to consider any solutions to the problems, as you keep denying that these problems are present.

It’s just like when I make biscuits, If I don’t pay attention to the quality of my flour (making sure that no critters have gotten into the flour), that my oven is working good, and that my Buttermilk is rich and not watery, and that I don’t overwork the dough, how can I expect to get a good batch of biscuits?

Just recently, in Egypt, they had their first election in 7,000 years! Not 7, 70, or 700, but 7,000 years. And we, in this county think we have it hard. Poverty, in this county, would look like luxury to millions of others in this world. Poverty is not having a television, air conditioning, indoor plumbing, cell phones, medical care, automobiles, SSI, and Food Stamps. It’s “normal” for many people living in “poverty” in this county, to have all of the above and more!

And this latest road problem on I-75, just seemed to disrupt the “normal” way of life here in Campbell County for many folks. There didn’t seem to be any consideration for what this problem did to the lives of all those that had to take the detour, did it? Several folks died and so many here just complained because it took them a tiny bit longer to get to where they were going?

We are not isolated here in Campbell County from the rest of the world. Problems are just a part of living and solutions to problems are not found in complaining. T-Dot did their part, the police did their part, and in time, most of the problems were solved for the time being until something else happens. That’s life!

Poverty is abundant in many ways. My Darlings, the greatest poverty lies in the fact that too many people, here in Campbell County accept living in poverty and are aided by those who need poverty to continue their jobs in government agencies and such. Just in case you didn’t realize it, Poverty is Profitable for many folks in this county and I don’t mean, the folks receiving help.

Too many people are not encouraged to even consider thinking about a solution, they just leave the house, turn off their televisions, grab their cell phones, cigarettes, their can of Mountain Dew, get in their cars, and make it a daily routine to go about this county receiving what is given to them because they are considered to be poor and deserving of all that is given to them.

Yes, some folks need help and they should receive it. But this Poverty of the Mind, seems to be encouraged more than discouraged. It’s normal, for too many to think what I can get, rather than what I can contribute.

Has that become the “normal” for Campbell County? And we get frustrated, when traffic, caused by the structural failure of a highway, causes us to slow down? And I wonder, what those folks in Egypt think about having to walk to a place to vote, after 7,000 years of waiting to vote? Do they think they are poor?

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy’z Journey: Staring up from the abyss

“When you stare persistently into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nietzsche, a 19th-century philosopher was widely known as a critic of Judeo-Christian morality, as well as religion in general. However, I find this quote astoundingly true to us modern-day humans, with more weight to us Christians. It is relevant to us, because we, by the grace of God and redemption given through Christ, have stared into the abyss of Hell and were rescued.
I had heard this statement many times before learning of its origin. I’m sure my interpretation would not delight this Earthly logician, but I believe all of us believers can benefit from this – and possibly only this one—observation of Nietzsche.
I spoke with someone recently who felt so overwhelmed by their current plight, that in tears, they echoed the above quote to me. I couldn’t help but agree. I told this person the reason she couldn’t see a way out was because she was staring into the abyss and being consumed by it and the problem before her. Sometimes we need to look up to find the light.
As I tried to help by pointing out that with prayer, a quick breath and looking at the obstacle step-by-step, a solution out of the darkness could be seen. Then it dawned on me that we all – all of us Christians – have stared at the abyss, and saw it staring back at us. The only safety from the abyss comes from God.
Sure, there are those times when it feels like our bills, our jobs, our kids, or our lives as a whole can’t possibly get any worse. Just when you think you can see over the edge, something else goes awry and pulls you right back down. But as Christians, we know that the deepest of chasms of this world is just a small drainage ditch compared to the void of life Jesus Christ has saved us from. So how do we know that we can make it through the rift? It’s as simple as a kids’ song: “The Bible tells me so.”
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” – 1 Corinthians 1:13 (New International Version).
My fellow humans believe this: He is NOT the source of our temptation. God does not bring troubles upon us, regardless of those around us who look up and curse Him when a new problem arises.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed,” – James 1:13 (NIV).
God is not the source of our trials, but He does allow us to be tried, and as the verses above explain, He will help us if we rely on Him.
There are those around us who can’t seem to escape the holes of this world, because they haven’t experienced salvation from the eternal hollow place. They stare into the chasm and it stares back at them. They don’t know that God can and will help them out of every situation. But from my personal experience – and watching others near to me – I know, that the above quote isn’t consistently true. Staring into the abyss is only the beginning of being consumed by it.
When you travel down a path, as I once did, on which you begin to make one wrong decision after another – along with continuing the same mistakes over and over – you no longer see the abyss in front of you. You see it all around you. The abyss isn’t staring at you any longer, because you are inside it. It is already staring at someone else – the next person who has begun staring into it. And so, the farther away from the truth you get the more mistaken you become.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to shine God’s love through us. Just as the moon is a reflection of the sun, we are to reflect God’s light to those around us who are being consumed by the abyss, as well as those who are beginning to stare into it. It is our duty to live a life that allows God to shine through us so that others can see the light, shining to them and showing them the way out.
Jesus himself told the people who led us out, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” – John 15:12.
We, the believers in Christ, saw that love in someone who was near us and that love spread to us. Some unbelievers think that we Christians think we are somehow “better” than them. Truth is, us believers, we’ve all been there where you are– stuck on a road to Hell. But someone prayed for us. Someone showed us God’s love and we were able to see His light and be rescued from Hell.
I recently heard a substitute preacherman point out something obvious that we don’t often think about. Kids say, “I want to be a professional baseball player.” Another says, “I want to be an astronaut.” While another puts her hand on her hip, tilts her body just right and announces, “I’m gonna be a pop star.”
If those children aren’t encouraged to pick up a bat; if they never crack a science book or if they never practice an instrument or learn how to sing, then they can’t really wonder why those dreams were never achieved.
I hear adults all the time saying we need to pray for the lost – those who do not know Jesus Christ and the free forgiveness He offers. Tis true, we do need to pray for them and lift them up to God. But that isn’t where the work ends. We have to shine them to God’s path out of the darkness.
If you don’t believe in God and you’ve read this far, please continue.
I’m not saying it’s always simple and easy with God. I’m not saying that you can pray and then everything is instantly taken care of – there are consequences to living a life of sin. Receiving forgiveness through sincere prayer will immediately put you on the right track. But sometimes it takes time to get past the mistakes of the wrong track when you’ve traveled it for so long. But once God puts you on His footpath for your life, it becomes increasingly easier to see the way in front of you. So don’t give up when a problem persists; don’t give in when tempted. He will show you the way you are supposed to go – the way out of the abyss, a.k.a., the way out of Hell.
Father God, we thank You for saving us and we thank You for the people You placed in our lives who shined Your light while we were staring up from the abyss. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to lead others to you and out of the void. We pray that our reflection of You is bright and unwavering to them. We pray that You will open the hearts of those in our lives who need to know You. You have placed us in their lives to help guide them to you and we thank you for that. We pray that you will give us the courage and words to speak to them that will shine Your light to them. Give us the courage to follow You completely and do Your work. Amen!

Jeremy’z Journey: Recycling saves the planet, but does nothing for souls living on it

We have this wonderful green container at our house that was recently provided by the city. Free of charge, this green waste container is bigger, has better wheels, a nice metal handle, an attached lid that has no problem staying closed and is meant to hold our household recyclables. This can is a lot nicer than any refuse receptacle I’ve ever purchased to sit outside my house.
All I had to do was fill out a piece of paper and sign my name, and now, we get our recyclables picked up from the curb one day a week, just the same as the city picks up our trash. Now, I’ve become a near-model Earthling, separating household garbage into paper/cardboard, plastic, metal and glass.
The kids have become very excited about helping out, too. However, they usually drop everything into the regular kitchen trash can – which because of some sort of “global conscience” I dig through like a foraging squirrel or stray cat to put each piece into its appropriate grocery bag hanging right beside the can. Oh, they’re learning which one what trash goes into, but they are more excited by the luxurious green can sitting outside. When a bag gets full in the kitchen, my oldest boy exclaims, “I’ll take that to the recycler for ya, dad!” Apparently, it is the most thrilling thing in the world to him to save the planet by simply tossing a bagful of recyclables into this enormous green can.
The can isn’t the only thing green going on around us. We can now purchase “green”, “environmentally-friendly” products, making additional efforts to save the world. Saving it for the “next generation” they say. Products made from “all-natural” ingredients, not those old manmade chemicals, set on every store shelf.
As I traveled this can to the edge of the driveway the other morning, God gave me a thought about this so-called simple effort to save the world: We separate trash, dig through trash, make every effort to make sure paper, plastic, metal and glass don’t get thrown in the trash, get our kids involved recycling trash and take the recycling to the necessary place to be processed. We spend more of our personal time handling our trash according to our cultural and environmental wishes, than we do sharing Jesus Christ with those who need Him most.
That’s right! I’m comparing recycling to witnessing. Don’t get me wrong, recycling – I believe – is good for our planet. But what does it do for the souls living on our planet? I proudly wave to passerby-drivers as I roll my “I’m an Earth conscience American” trash to the end of the drive. But when was the last time I shared what Christ has done in my life with someone in my life who needs Him in theirs?
During His ministry on Earth, Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:26 (New International Version).
This was a seriously profound thought, I thought. What good does it do me, if I could recycle everything in the world that can be recycled, If I don’t have Jesus? What good does it do my children if I spend more time scavenging through trash than I spend teaching them and praying with them? What good is it if instead of sharing my experiences of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, I just roll on by someone who is hurting and in need to make sure my can is in the right spot?
It made me wonder, what other things do I put in front of sharing God’s perfect salvation with the people He has put in my life? Even if I’m not speaking about Christ, what do people see when they look at me? Do they think of the sins they have witnessed me committing over the years of my life? Or do they see Christ? Do they see that He has forgiven my sins and helped me to turn my life away from those sins?
I hope and pray that people see the latter of those questions. To those who have known me over the years, and known the life I used to lead: You should know that God has changed me; He has forgiven me of my past, and He is working in my life to make me the man I should be – the man He wants me to be.
God can do the same for you – for all of you who have not accepted Jesus and His forgiveness. If you are weary, if you are weak, if you are worn, or if you just need to know that someone loves you, please know that Jesus Christ loves you. He loved you enough that He would leave His home with God to come to Earth, suffer ridicule, suffer through torture, suffer through death on a cross, all so that He could be resurrected and brought back to the right hand of His father, God. The one and only God. The one and only God who loves you enough that He would allow His Son to go through the horrific events listed in the gospels of the New Testament.
Again, I say, If you are weary, if you are weak, if you are worn, or if you just need to know that someone loves you, Jesus left you a message in His own words. It is just as significant to all of us today as it was when He said it.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” – Matthew 11:28-30.
As I wrote in my last writing, Jesus is standing there, asking you to “Come!” – Matthew 14:29. Just, “Come!”
The world, which must rely on recycling and Earth-friendly products to sustain itself will tell you that Jesus doesn’t make sense and that you will be fine on your own. Just do your part and throw it in the green can.
John, a disciple of Christ wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:8, 9.
I swear it to you fellow and madam Earthmates, He has done this for me, and He wants to do this for you!
“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound that saves a wretch like me.”
Most all of us have heard that song at least once in our lifetime. Well, I’m here to tell you: I’m the wretch that song is talking about.
Jesus forgave me of all of the bad, horrible and atrocious things I have done against Him. He also forgave me for what the world would say are, “little things.” It doesn’t matter if you consider your sin big or small, Jesus will forgive them all.
God, I hope and pray that you will place your spirit upon someone who has read this. I pray that you will give them the courage to call out to you, whether loudly or silently, to call on the name of Jesus and ask for forgiveness. Father, I pray that this ability you have given me to write words glorifies You, and You alone, and brings one of Your children back to your side. Amen!