Punta Gorda, Florida is privileged to have one of the “Whispering Giants” woodcarvings done by Hungarian sculptor Peter Wolf Toth. Carved out of a Parota or commonly called “ear tree” in 1974, the statue depicts a dying bison and eagle with a broken wing on the head of a Native American male and female. The sculpture is one of the series to honor the Native American heritage in each of the 50 states, and a few others in Canada. A plaque beside the sculpture reads: “This Whispering Giant “Calostimucu” is an effigy to the first people inhabiting this area carved by Peter “Wolf” Toth, maintained by those who care”.
The last part of that plaque impressed me. “Maintained by those who care” can speak to us of another heritage that we as God’s people need to maintain. The whispering giant that I think we need to give attention to is the Christian heritage in our nation. Our founding fathers were God-fearing people who established our republic on principles of hard-work, freedom, and biblical morality. They carved out a nation in the wilderness and gave the world the most prosperous and freedom loving nation the world has ever seen. References to this heritage can be seen on the nation’s monuments, documents, and institutions.
I have read that some of the “Whispering Giants” sculptures have been damaged by disease and termites and are no longer standing. I am afraid that the giant of our godly heritage in America is in a similar danger as it is exposed to the dangers of atheism, secularism, and ungodliness. The Bible tells us in Prov.14:33: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people”.
What a beautiful and inspiring “Whispering Giant” stands at a prominent corner in downtown Punta Gorda. I hope that it stands for a long time. What a valuable and priceless heritage we have as a nation. Yet that Christian heritage is being threatened. Let those of us who care do our best to maintain it.
The mud and snow were flying behind the spinning tires as we tried to get my son’s truck out of the ditch. Coupled with freezing temperatures the frustration of not being able to make any progress was discouraging. I was too cheap to call for a tow but found someone passing by who had a chain. We attached the chain to the truck and was finally able to pull it free. My son is not the only one who has experienced the frustration of getting stuck in the ditch. You probably have your own “stuck story”.
God’s people often find themselves stuck in the ditch. That ditch can take the form of discouragement or depression. It can be the ditch of sinful habits, wrong attitudes, or even damaging relationships. We can even find ourselves stuck in the ditch of overwhelming grief. I have seen many Christians who are continuing to spin their wheels unable to free themselves from the ditch they have swerved into. And many times they just give up and stay stuck. I am so thankful that we have a Savior who not only saves us from our sin but loves us enough to pull us out of our stuck condition. The Bible tells us, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Also we learn, “for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). John tells us, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We have more than enough log chains at our disposal to help us get unstuck. We have the promises of God in the Bible, we enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we can turn to encouraging help of God’s people who will lend us their chain and give us a tow.
God never intended for His children to remain stuck. Why continue to spin your wheels in the ditch? Attach your hope to the chain of His promises and pull yourself free.
Have you ever gotten lost? I certainly have on many occasions. I remember before the days of GPS when you had to depend upon another human being to give you directions to their home. I was pastoring a church in Northern Iowa and received directions to someone’s house who was living out in the country. You couldn't find the houses by street signs and house numbers but had to use landmarks. I was trying to find a home down a lonely country road and must have missed the silo I was supposed to use as a directional landmark. Do you realize how dark it is out in the country without street lights? I thought I found the house but before I got out of the car I read a warning sign on the fence post. It read, “Beware of dog”, but had a line through the word “dog” and then scribbled below was the additional message, “Beware of rooster, he killed the dog”. It was then I decided someone must have given me some wrong directions, and I wasn't about to get out of the car and see for myself.
Finding your way to heaven is the most important directions you can ever receive. However, there are those all around who offer wrong directions. The Bible warns us about those wrong directions. No other religious leader can get you to heaven, only Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 tells us: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”. Scripture tells us that good works is not the way to become right with God (Eph. 2:8,9). It also tells us that keeping the law is also the wrong way to go (Rom. 3:28). The simple directions to become right with God is faith in Jesus Christ God’s Son. If you are following some other way, some other person, or some other plan, you are lost and very soon you will find that you have been given wrong directions.
It seems that every day we live we are assaulted with news of plane crashes, robberies, fraud, deaths, and a various assortment of bad news. Someone once said that if it bleeds it leads. We all hate bad news don’t we? Whether it comes from the doctor or the tax preparer or from our boss or our family we would much rather be hearing good news. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Jesus paying the penalty for our sins is the best news this old world ever heard. The mission of the church is to be sure that the good news of the gospel is heard by as many people as possible and pray that they would accept the message and receive Christ as their Savior.
However before people can embrace how wonderful the good news is they need to be confronted with some bad news. The brilliance of a diamond is shown best placed against a black background. The Bible has some extremely bad news for us. In describing the human race the apostle Paul tells us that God has placed in the human heart as well as in nature a knowledge of God. However man rejected that knowledge and made his own gods. Rom. 1:18 says: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Man is a sinner and hopelessly lost. He is without excuse, he is under the wrath of God, he has come short of the glory of God, and he will pay the wages of his sin with his own death (Rom. 6:23). This death is more than the physical death of his body it is the eternal death of his soul. He will be separated from God and spend eternity in hell. Of all the bad news anyone ever received I can’t think of anything worse.
The bad news regarding man’s condition is serious and it is certain. However, you and I do not have to allow the bad news to describe us. The good news of Jesus Christ can change the headlines and rewrite the story of our soul. Good news or bad news, which will you choose?
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation