Are You Trapped?

George Whittenby George Whitten

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Charles Swindoll wrote about these men who bring in animals from Africa for American zoos. They say that one of the hardest animals to catch there is the ringtailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years.

The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

There’s a pretty clear moral to this story, wouldn’t you say? If we really want to be free, we must let go of the things we love. The more we hold on to our earthly possessions, the more frustrated we will get and eventually, we will be entrapped.

Let’s let go of the worldly things we’ve been holding on to. God has much greater things for us to be doing than sitting here with our fists in a melon!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love

by George Whitten

Pursuing Excellence

John MacArthurby John MacArthur

“So that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10).

In a world of mediocrity and confusion, God calls you to excellence and discernment.

There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker mid flight and said, “I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is we have a strong tail wind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life but they’re getting there fast!

We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.

“Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. Approving what is excellent refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.

Many organizations and businesses have adopted the motto, “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!

Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out those virtues?

by John MacArthur