Tuesday, February 26, 2019


by Rev. Jack Hulsey

Norm Abrams, Public Broadcasting’s expert carpenter (often seen on New Yankee Workshop and This Old House), used to say as he was in the process of restoring an ancient, decaying hulk: “they don’t build ‘em like they used to- thank goodness.”

You could tell what Norm meant as he tore into these ancient houses: builders in the old days didn't really know how to engineer a structure for safety and longevity, nor did they have the materials and tools we have to erect four walls that can stand the test of time.  (Actually no one can, except God.)
When the White House was built, between 1792 and 1800, the builders undoubtedly hoped it would last for eternity. But by the time Harry S. Truman became president, in 1945, it was a dump. It was so structurally unsound that the floors didn't just creek, they swayed. The president’s bathtub was sinking into the floor. A leg of Margaret Truman's piano actually broke through the floor of what is now the private dining room. Ceiling plaster was sagging as much as 18 inches in some places. Century–and–a–half–year–old wooden structural beams had been weakened by cutting and drilling for plumbing and wiring.  The addition of a steel roof plus an entire third floor in 1927 added so much weight that upon close inspection, engineers declared that the entire building was on the verge of collapse.

It was so awful that they recommended it be demolished and a duplicate White House built in its place.  Instead, Truman persuaded Congress to appropriate funds to restore the mansion.  In 1949 the Truman’s moved into Blair House while construction crews completely gutted the White House leaving only its original sandstone shell standing.

Jesus could just as easily have been talking about the White House when He referred to the Pharisees as "… whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside, are dead men's bones and everything unclean." (Matthew 23:27) The trusted symbol of authority, be it the Pharisees of old or the White House of Truman’s day, both looked solid, immovable, and everlasting on the outside.  On the inside, it had almost nothing holding it up. Mrs. Truman might have brought the whole building down by simply hammering a nail to hang a picture on the wall. The same goes for the moral structures of the Pharisees, who knew God's law inside out but still couldn't tell right from wrong.

Houses can be rebuilt, thankfully, and our inner structures can likewise be repaired and replaced. Those who live in Christian-on-the-outside shells, whose internal load-bearing beams are made of greed, pride, envy, anger, lust and lies are in danger of sudden collapse into a pile of dust and rubble.  “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1) None of us can fix or save ourselves. Only the Master Carpenter can restore us, fixing the internal and changing us from the inside out.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Stop Crawling on the Ice

By Rev. Jack Hulsey

A man was traveling from one city to another on a freezing winter night knowing that he would have to traverse a rather wide river in the dark, to reach his destination. When he reached the rivers edge, he was concerned because he didn’t know if the ice was thick enough to support his weight. He had come too far to turn back and knew if he tried to stay the night on the river’s edge he would not survive because of the freezing temperatures.  The only choice that he had was to proceed forward. Fearful that he might fall through the ice he cautiously began to crawl across the frozen river on his belly.  It was cold and seemed that his journey across the ice was taking forever. Then all the sudden there was a noise behind him that progressively got louder.  As it came closer he heard a voice, “What are you doing?”  The traveler looked up and saw a large wagon loaded with a family’s possessions, drawn by 2 large horses.  The traveler responded, “I wasn’t sure the ice could support my weight, so I was crawling because I feared falling through. How did you know that the ice would hold you?” The wagon driver replied, “Because in the last town I asked, and the mine workers said they pull their wagons full of iron ore to the mill every day across this river.”  The traveler was then offered a ride on the wagon and he was carried the rest of the way with all his fear allayed.   

I think we often, like the traveler, find ourselves alone out in the wilderness. (Note: That means we had to abandon what the Lord has promised.)  We know that difficulties lie ahead and we must do something. That is when we begin to scheme and devise our own plan without seeking counsel or all of the information. Our plan is set!  So, just like the traveler, we begin to crawl on our bellies, gripped with fear and doubt hoping that our plan works, forgetting that the foundation beneath us is solid because of what Jesus did at Calvary.  Why do we doubt?  Why do we follow our own plans built from fear and pride?
The wagon driver sought out the information and listened to those who traveled across the river daily.  He placed his confidence in the experiences of other who knew the river. 

Many of the passages in the Bible are the voices of experience giving warning, encouragement, and instruction.  When we heed these words, fear will no longer drive our plans and our foundation will never come into question. 
So the next time fear or doubt come and try to compel you to belly crawl on the ice, take heart and read verses like Proverbs 3:5-7 (NASB)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD… THEN GET UP AND GET ON HIS WAGON.