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Takes the Teeth Out

I have noticed that horse people have to pay a lot of attention to the teeth of their horses, and I know a good cow man will check the teeth of older cows when making culling decisions. Though I know this, have done it on occasions, and understand the reasons for doing so, I really never thought much about the consequences of missing teeth and the animal’s ability to bite, chew and consume its food.

I recently experienced something that brought the phrase ‘takes the teeth out” to mind and gave me a new perspective and understanding of the meaning and significance of these words. Last week, due to the affects of long term Lyme’s disease and the antibiotics to treat it, I had to have every tooth in my head pulled. I am currently in the process of trying to heal and learn to wear dentures.

After a week, I am still unable to bite a saltine cracker or chew a piece of bread. I find myself picking up an apple and putting it almost to my mouth—before remembering that I cannot bite into it. When the teeth came out, so did the bite!

As I pondered on my plight, a special Bible verse came to mind that I have used in several funerals, when dealing with those who have lost Christian loved ones or who have received news that their physical condition is life threatening:   “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:54-57)

This passage expresses the hope and promise of eternal life that comes through our faith and relationship in Christ Jesus. Even though we all will experience physical suffering and death, our sins that sentence us to death can be forgiven. Just like Jesus, our dead bodies can be resurrected and be made new and imperishable. We too can have eternal life.

The Sherwood Pictures movie Courageous that came out in 2011 is a story about four law enforcement officers in Georgia. Day in and day out they saw firsthand the sinfulness and wickedness of people. They personally experienced struggles and losses in their own lives, and in the process, they were forced to deal with their own sinfulness and guilt.

Below is a short excerpt from the film that involved a discussion between one of the senior officers, Nathan (N) and a junior officer, David (D), that illustrates where we all are as sinners and how we can deal with our sin in a way that “takes the teeth out” of death (the consequence of our sinfulness), and replaces our fear with hope and confidence for eternal life:

D: Hey Nathan, can I ask you something?

N: Help yourself.

D: Do you really think it messed up your childhood not having a dad?

N: More than you know. I struggled with who I was, tried to prove myself, almost got in a gang.    

     You know, if a father would just do what he is supposed to do, half the stuff we deal with on    

     the streets wouldn’t exist. Why you worried about it?   You nervous about being a father    

     one day?

D: I already am one.

N: You got a kid?

D: A little girl. She is four now. I was playing ball in college, got hooked up with a

     Cheerleader. I told her to take care of it—but she didn’t do it. So, I got mad and left her to

     deal with it herself. You know, she lives just 30 minutes away now and I still can’t bring

     myself to go see her.

N: Is she married?

D: No. I just really never loved her you know. I hear you guys talking about how fathers

     walking out are messing up their kids, and then seeing this stuff, I don’t want to be one of

     those guys.

N: David, part of being a man is taking responsibility. Any fool can have a child.

D: I’m just tired of feeling guilty.

N: Let me break it to you this way: You are guilty! One day, you, me, and everyone of us are

     gonna have to stand before God, and He’s gonna do what a good judges do.

D: Well then, I hope my good outweighs my bad Nathan.

N: That’s not the way it works. You know that. Let me put it this way: Who’s the person

     you’re closest to?

D: Probably my mom.

N: Okay, suppose she was brutally attacked and murdered in a parking lot. The guy was caught

     and put on trial, but he says to the judge: I committed this crime, but I’ve done a lot of good

     in my life. If the judge lets him go free, would you say he is a good judge or a bad judge?

D: A bad one.

N: That’s right. Because the Bible says God is a good judge, He will punish the guilty not for

     what they did right, but for what they did wrong. Because He loves us, He sent His son Jesus

     Christ, to take the punishment that we deserve. He put it on Himself, and that’s why He died

     on the cross.

     That only applies if you accept it. That’s why I asked for His forgiveness. I

     asked Him to save me, and I am a new man because of Jesus Christ. You understand what I’m

     telling you? What’s holding you back?

D: Nothing

Though our sins may be different, we too are guilty just like David. The Good News and the gift of Jesus Christ is that in spite of our guilt, He died in our place so that our sins can be forgiven and we can inherit eternal life which “takes the teeth out” of death.

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (Mt 15:22).  

What’s holding you back?

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