April 28, 2017

Mockery of Prayer

During a church business meeting the congregation was asked to pray about a decision where the answer has already been determined by the leadership. Since the decision has been taken out of the God’s hands the need to petition the Lord is a moot point. I can’t shake the feeling that in this instance the practice of prayer is either being mocked, or it’s being used simply as busywork for the congregation. God looks for sincerity in worshippers, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen” (Isaiah 1:15 NIV).

April 27, 2017

Heaven and Earth Become One

I recently visited a family-friendly church where children played on the floor with dump trucks, elementary age girls danced in aisle, and people walked back and forth with food and drinks while visiting one another. Teens huddled together in conversation, young parents swayed with babies in their arms and bounced them on a knee. All this while the praise team lead the congregation in the worshipful praise song, “Here in Your Presence.” Needless to say, the lyrics were apropos, “Here in Your presence, we are undone; Here in Your presence, heaven and earth become one.

April 26, 2017

Visitors In Season

I arrived at a church at 9:15 a.m. for the scheduled 9:30 service only to read in the bulletin that the start time was 9:45. In fairness to the members, when they entered the auditorium they greeted me warmly; however, their normal routine was to have fellowship and café in the foyer prior to worship. I’ll be honest, I felt like a guest who misread the invitation and arrived 30 minutes early to the party where the host wasn’t quite ready and didn’t know what to do with me. Paul charged Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2 NIV). I’m beginning to think mature believers are more capable and comfortable with testimonials, meditations and witnessing than we are playing host to a visitor.

April 25, 2017

Expedience

I’m seeing a pattern of elected officials having to publicly admit, “It’s the first I’ve heard about it.” Employees seem to be waiting days, and in some cases weeks, before telling leaders about potentially explosive situations. It’s hard to know the employee’s rationale — stalling in order to come up with an excuse, thinking the situation will just blow over, or hoping with the passage of time it will soften the seriousness. I’m now wondering about Adam and Eve in the garden. Did they think God would never find out they had eaten from the tree in the middle of the garden? Would their punishment have been less severe if they had gone to God immediately? How long did they play hide-n-go-seek in the bushes before being confronted by God; a day, a week? Certainly it was long enough for them to sew fig leaves to cover themselves. It occurs to me that many of us maybe spending time sewing fig leaves and yet we know the day will come when God calls to us, “Where are you” (Gen 3:9 NIV)?

April 24, 2017

Post-Easter

Yesterday in his opening prayer the pastor said, “Father, I pray for those who go to church today for the second week in a row…the week after their annual obligation [Easter].” I chuckled to myself and then realized even we who are mature in the faith are not immune from feeling of obligated. The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24-25 NIV).

April 21, 2017

Uniquely Qualified

The last few years our city government started moving employees from one position to another, often creating positions and handing out flashy new job titles. It has gotten to the point where citizens are realizing that many employees are not qualified for the title they have. During a recent meeting one committee member said, “In the city you have a lot of people wearing a lot of different hats. Eventually your programs will fail.” I’m reminded that in the body of Christ where we are uniquely qualified for our appointed position. Paul said, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor 12:28-31 NIV).

April 20, 2017

Western Hospitality

Some retail business owners look to local government and the chamber of commerce to help market their business. During a recent community meeting one retailer rejected that idea and said, “It’s businesses who are responsible for bringing customers into their own business.” The point made by the retailer is applicable to the body of Christ. It is our responsibility to offer the same type of hospitality in the church that we would offer to a visitor in our home.  Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Rom 12:10-13 NIV).