July 31, 2007
Although I’m a fairly new member in Toastmasters International, I accepted the position of Area Governor for our district. I’m obligated for one year and I guarantee it will take me that long to learn the meaning of all the acronyms in the leader’s guide. I think they used the whole alphabet in abbreviating titles and programs for the individual, the club, the area and the district. I’m going to need either a decoder or a cheat sheet in order to speak the language. I’m so glad the Apostle Paul didn’t know text messaging – shall we say PTL?
July 30, 2007
Because of a family crisis my Mormon friend hasn’t attended church on a regular basis and now she’s in no hurry to get back into the groove. “When I start again there won’t be anything new, it’s always the same thing. I already know what I need to know. And I just don’t feel like having a calling right now - even though it’s good for me [to be involved].” I find it interesting that she feels her church has nothing new to offer and she already knows everything she needs to know. Not to put her down, but with Christianity I’m always finding something new and I’ll never know all I need to know. “For the word of God is living and active…” (Heb 4:12 NIV).
July 27, 2007
In the DVD video message ‘Indescribable’, Louie Giglio uses the universe as an object lesson to help explain the magnitude of God. Comparing man and earth to the rest of the universe Mr. Giglio said, “I’m not trying to make you feel small – I’m telling you that you are small!” As one who is geographically challenged, I always viewed the earth as being pretty big. In fact, when God kicked Satan out of heaven I thought He [God] was being generous to give this rebellious angel rule over the whole earth. The vastness of the universe was once Satan’s playground, now he’s grounded.
July 26, 2007
In Joel Osteen’s televised message of 7-22-07 he explained he didn’t have all the answers to Biblical questions. He told the audience it’s important to recognize your gifts, but to also accept your limitations. I appreciated Joel’s honesty in saying he’s an encourager rather than a theologian. As the camera panned his audience I chuckled at the thought of what it must cost the largest church in America to be encouraged each week. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t begrudge Joel his salary. He’s earning his salary by doing and saying what his audience wants to hear. In 2 Timothy Paul says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (NIV) Who would have ever though that ear scratching paid so well?
July 25, 2007
You don’t have to be a professional movie critic in order to evaluate a movie. When our family enjoys a movie we start discussing it while leaving the theater. It’s not unusual for good quips of dialogue to become part of our vocabulary. The better the movie, the more we critique, but that’s not to say we don’t also discuss movies that are a bust. I find somewhat of a similar situation when leaving church Sunday mornings. I like to talk about thought provoking, convicting and insightful teaching, but I also have opinions about sermons and classes which fall short of the Truth. I think it’s too bad that people feel they can’t comment on a sermon or lesson that’s a bust. Speaking from experience, it doesn’t take much to squelch a Christian’s critique. All you’ve got to do is substitute the word criticize for critique you’ll stop us in our tracks every time.
July 24, 2007
The Rocky Mountain News ran an article on July 7th with the heading SUSPENDED Episcopal priest says she’s Muslim. According to the report, Rev. Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle, a priest for 23 years, has been a practicing Muslim for 15 months. If that won’t give you a religious migraine I don’t know what will. I have a hunch some parishioners may have known something was amiss, but they had to wait on the church hierarchy to take action. For me the real kicker to this story is that Ms. Redding has been suspended from the priesthood for one year. Suspended, what does that mean? Do the leaders think a year will give her time to pull her head out from under her arm pit?
July 23, 2007
The media reports that after years of negotiation the Los Angeles archdiocese has agreed to a $660 million settlement in sex abuse claims. I have trouble with this situation on so many different levels. One thing bothering me is seeing Catholic priests and Cardinals continue serving in their designated roles during these ongoing investigations. Legally men are innocent until proven guilty, however Jesus said even if you remember that someone has something against you, "… leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:24 NIV) I wonder if their gifts, whether service or tithes, have any value when reconciliation hasn’t first taken place.
July 20, 2007
Commenting on Christian fiction writers, novelist Flannery O’Connor wrote, “For [the author] to ‘tidy up reality’ is certainly to succumb to the sin of pride.’ I’m no fiction writer, but her words smarted when they penetrated my mind. I must confess I stand guilty of trying to tidy up reality. Wanting things to be seen in a good light, I help friends, family and yes, even the church, save face by making excuses for their attitude and behavior. I suppose covering up and making justifications began in my childhood while dealing with an alcoholic dad. I can now see how embarrassment for myself and for others would lead to the sin of pride. Ignorance was bliss…
July 19, 2007
When the last Harry Potter books hit the shelves an over zealous letter carrier accidentally delivered some books too early. With the final book in the series now coming out the Postal Service has taken precautions to make sure Harry doesn’t arrive before his appointed time. I find it humorous that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ is just under 800 words, but the government’s simplified instructions telling letter carriers how to deliver the book is 25 pages long. Reading portions of the Old Testament I often get bogged down in the lengthy instructions and repetition. I suppose the scribes of Leviticus and Numbers thought they too were writing simplified instructions.
July 18, 2007
I’ve often heard older preachers and teachers jokingly say to their audience, “You have a right to disagree and be wrong it you want.” While we laugh at the statement, the truth is few will openly disagree with them in a class setting. The average person in the pew may suffer from a self-imposed inferiority complex when confronted with those who have Bible College credentials. I remember when I began shaking off the shackles of Biblical inferiority. A friend in my Bible study called and asked me to help her find a particular passage of Scripture. She could have called the pastor or the teacher, but she called me. What a compliment – both to me and my trusty concordance.
July 17, 2007
My uncle, now deceased, referred to himself as ‘Slop bucket Dutch’. In good natured fun my ¼ Choctaw Indian mother-in-law is called a gut-eater because she likes to eat the gristle off the chicken breast. Labels which once added color to a person’s character are stricken from our vocabulary because we’ve become so PC. I’ve noticed a similar thing happening to churches. We’re told that new titles and names are needed in order to appeal to a wider audience and depict the personality of the today’s modern church. Personally I think changing a church name for the sake of marketing gives a church an identity crisis and dulls the color of her true character.
July 16, 2007
Today many service clubs are bemoaning the drop in their membership. A member of the Lion’s Club recently told me, “We have members who pay dues and financially support the club, but they’re the older folks who no longer want to participate and be active. We are trying different methods to bring in younger members.” I see the same thought process in the church. Looking for young blood, the older generation expects the next generation to become their replacements. I think we’ve failed to realize the Lord is in the new creation business, not the replacement business.
July 13, 2007
My grandparents homesteaded in southeastern Colorado. Church was held the one-room community school house where folding chairs were transformed into pews on Sundays. There was no running water, but we did have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ outhouses. The school had a piano, but we didn’t have a pianist. I don’t ever recall having communion and if someone wanted to be baptized they’d go to a church in town that had a baptistery. Occasionally a circuit preacher would visit and if we were really lucky his wife knew how to play the piano. I’d like to see a church experiment with using circuit preachers. Many organizations pay speakers for a one time presentation, why wouldn’t the same work for preachers? Filling the pulpit with a different preacher/teacher each week would challenge the speaker to do his best and also challenge the audience to develop a discerning ear.
July 12, 2007
Because of my analytical personality I sometimes seem uncompassionate. I don’t want to appear hard hearted, but for me compassion has a direct correlation to how much pain and suffering is brought about because of a person’s own actions. For instance, I have a different level of compassion for someone contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion than I do for someone contracting the disease because of their lifestyle. Even though we serve a God of compassion, I really appreciate the glimpse into His analytical nature when He says to Moses, “…I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Romans 9:15 NIV
July 11, 2007
When people move to a new location they are often starting over. Although they may be excited to move on, they may also want to leave behind unhealthy relationships and bad habits. We have similar situations in the church. I’ve heard qualified leaders, ministers and musicians place membership in our church with the qualifier, “I’m not going to be as involved in this church as I was in my last church. In XYZ Church I did everything – that’s not going to happen here.” I understand the hazards of burn-out and the need for a sabbatical. However, I’m surprised by the premeditated withholding and rationing of their gifts.
July 10, 2007
We once had a music minister who week after week force-fed ‘spirit’ to the congregation. His praise team gave repeated demonstrations on when to sway, when to clap and when to raise holy hands. I felt like I was back in high school at a pep rally – ‘Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!’ On more than one occasion I became a casualty of the worship service and sat down before the 30 minutes of music came to an end. To me overuse of praise jingles becomes mindless. Although Paul was specifically addressing speaking in tongues, I think his directions are applicable to repetitious praise choruses. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” 1 Cor 14:15 NIV
July 09, 2007
On June 1st a story by Lynn Allen appeared in the La Junta Tribune Democrat. Her article reported on a third generation rancher whose family homesteaded in southeastern Colorado. The 74 year-old rancher and his wife are in danger of losing the family ranch to the US Army. “But it doesn’t matter. If they want it, we can’t stop them. The military I served will come and escort me off my land at gun point. I don’t think I’ll go.” If I’m reading his words correctly, the rancher is saying he’ll sacrifice his own life before letting the government take his land. Having grandparents who also homesteaded in the same area, I understand how this rancher feels about his beloved land. However, thinking about the situation from a Biblical perspective, is the land becoming an idol to the rancher?
July 06, 2007
Parents often caution their children to think before they act. When doing woodworking projects that requires cutting angles, my husband mutters to himself, ‘OK stupid - now stop and think’. Jesus dipped a piece of bread in a dish and handing it to Judas said, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27b NIV) Quickly? Knowing what Judas was contemplating, I would’ve been saying, “Whoa Judas, stop for a minute…let’s think this thing through.” Apparently the time for thinking had already passed.
July 05, 2007
A life long Christian, my great-aunt normally offers sound Biblical advice. Recently when I called her to vent a frustration she listened patiently and then said, “I try not to get angry with God, but I do offer Him advice once in awhile.” Even though I chuckled at her matter-of-fact statement, I couldn’t help but wonder if God lets her get away with giving Him advice because she’s 87 years-old. I finally concluded that auntie’s advice giving is probably no different than the disciples trying to tell Jesus what he should do. Personally I relate better to those disciples who dared not ask Jesus any more questions, but secretly I’m jealous of people who can talk to the Lord about whatever crosses their mind.
July 04, 2007
July 03, 2007
I watched a TV news segment on tattoos and was surprised at some of the reasons people gave for getting tattooed. For some, tattoos are a reminder of their children, their faith and loved ones. One person spoke of the permanency of a tattoo, “It’s a life long commitment, its forever.” Although I’m not a candidate for a tattoo, I think it makes a good illustration for those of us who accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Even though we don’t wear a visible image, our being sealed to Jesus is permanent, life long and forever.
July 02, 2007
There was a time when our church newsletter was considered an evangelistic tool and was sent to active, in-active and prospective members. The last several years however, it seems to be dying a slow death. In cost cutting maneuvers the mailing list was purged to reflect mostly active members. Then we went from a weekly to a monthly publication. The most recent change eliminates mailings all together. According to the staff, “… we have decided that since those of you who get the newsletter are actually attending on Sundays that it makes sense to hand out the newsletter rather than mailing it.” While the newsletter may still have a slight pulse, I’ve prepared for its funeral. Look at the money we’re saving.