September 28, 2007

Burden Lite

I think some of the things I consider to be burdens wouldn’t be a burden if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a Christian. There are times I just get weary of playing by Bible rules and I’d like to ignore the ‘do unto others’ stuff. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29 -30 NIV) I suppose Jesus does have a point. Certainly my soul is at rest. Now if I could just find rest for the rest of me!

September 27, 2007

What's Missing?

I enjoy doing puzzles and games that challenge you to find something missing or hidden. There’s definitely something missing from the description of my church as put forth in the weekly bulletin. It says, “WE ARE A CONNECTING CHURCH. It is our desire to connect people…to Jesus Christ and to one another…thus, providing the opportunity for life-change! Our Mission: To Make and Mature Disciples for Christ to the Glory of God! Our Mandate: “Grow Up and Move Out” Our Methods: 1. Celebrate in large group settings! 2. Study & serve through small group settings! 3. Reach out in all settings! Our Motive: We are compelled by the Love of Christ! II Cor 5:14.” What ever happened to ‘worship’? I suppose it’s just another one of those traditions riding off in the sunset.

September 26, 2007

To Catch a Fish

The 2007 September/October issue of Israel My Glory published an article by Renald E. Showers titled ‘Critical Issues Facing Today’s Churches’. Showers says, “…Christ commanded believers to go ‘into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15). He ordained that the church evangelize primarily by going out into the world where the unsaved are. If you want to catch fish, you go where the fish are. Evangelism is not to involve the church changing its nature to attract unsaved people into its services to get them saved. The method reverses the order of evangelism that Christ ordained.” So that’s why we’re not catching any fish! And here we’ve put all that effort into building and equipping such attractive fish ponds.

September 25, 2007

I Don't Get It

I hate coming across a cartoon or comic strip where I don’t get the punch line. Sometimes I can get the gist of the illustration, but still not find the humor. For the most part, it seems to me that Scripture has a serious and somewhat humorless tone. I keep thinking surely there is some levity, or a comedian of record, somewhere in the Bible. I suppose a camel going through the eye of a needle, or straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel might have been considered a knee slapper in NT times. Maybe modern commentators have so dissected and analyzed every word of the Word, that they’ve lost the seasoning salt of humor.

September 24, 2007

Being Sociable

As children our teachers trained us to come in, take a seat and follow directions. Many of us still carry that patterning whether we’re in the church auditorium, Sunday school classroom, or a pot luck dinner. We’ve been conditioned to sit and wait for someone to give us directions. In a sense I envy those who usher, greet or serve communion. They can move freely about the auditorium making personal contact with others because it’s their job. I think as adults we should rebel against ‘taking our seat’. We should give ourselves permission to move around, shake hands and visit with one others until it’s time for an event to begin – of course that’s after you’ve put your Bible and jacket down in the pew to save your seat.

September 21, 2007

A Rock and a Hard Place

Years ago in our small community it seemed everyone was so inter-connected they were either related by blood or very well acquainted. While Peter was making his third denial, “One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?’” (John 18: 26-27 NIV) Not only was Peter denying his relationship with Jesus, he was being questioned by a relative of the man whom he de-eared. I can imagine him thinking, ‘This guy wants to defend the family honor because I embarrassed Malchus when I cut off his ear.’ It appears Peter momentarily forgot he was a rock.

September 20, 2007

Splitting Hairs

Paul gives instructions on customs in the worship service saying, "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering." (1 Co 11:13-15 NIV) I’ve known some women with such sparse hair that it won’t cover the top of their head, much less anything else. I just can’t grasp the picture of thinning, limp, sparse hair being a woman’s glory. Isn’t it interesting the images of Christ handed down through the centuries portray him with long hair? Thankfully Paul quantifies the issue of hair as something which is practiced in the churches, rather than stipulating it as a command.

September 19, 2007

Serves You Right

Grace is often described as ‘not getting what we really deserve’. Having been a recipient of God’s grace when I hear of someone suffering the consequences of their actions, I’ve sometimes felt guilty for doing a ‘you-deserve-what-you-get’ dance in my head. However, that was before I read about the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18. “In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’” (Rev 18:19b-20 NIV) Maybe I don’t feel so guilty after all.

September 18, 2007

Sugar and Spice

There’s one verse in the parable of the 10 Virgins that seems, well…unchristian. The five foolish girls didn’t bring enough lamp oil, so naturally they asked the other five to share. “No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” (Matt 25: 9 NIV) Doesn’t this just fly in the face of everything we’ve been taught by our mothers, grandmothers and Sunday School teachers? Aren’t we supposed to share? Now, if this parable were written about 10 young boys it would be more understandable…

September 17, 2007

Evangelism 101

Years ago while mentoring an un-churched man one of our members encouraged his friend to attend the Young Singles Sunday School class where he might meet some nice Christian girls. As the sponsor for the class I found myself in an awkward position. Not only was the visitor 20 years older than the rest of the class, but he’d bolstered his courage to come to church by having a drink or two. The following day I contacted our visitor and recommend another, more age appropriate class. Then as gently as I could, I made him aware that having a couple drinks and going shopping for nice Christian girls at 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning just doesn’t work. I think one of the biggest fallacies in our attempts at evangelism is the idea that the Holy Spirit will miraculously rub off on the un-churched once they are in close proximity to believers.

September 14, 2007

Oh Ye of Little Taste

One time our women’s ministry did a program titled, Dress for Success. The program covered everything from hair and make-up to clothing and accessories. A stifled chuckle ran through the audience when the Master of Ceremonies introduced me for my segment of the program by saying, “You all know Gail, she’s the one who always wears black”. Taking the podium I semi-smiled at the ‘what not to wear’ introduction, but my mind was saying, 'So what’s wrong with black? Black goes with everything, its slimming and disguises lumps - maybe you should try it.’ I’d like to be mature and report I’ve gotten over what I perceived as a public chiding. However, even though I can hear Jesus telling me not to worry about what I wear, the truth is this incident resurrects itself every time I see this other woman.

September 13, 2007

Las Vegas

While vacationing for a week in Las Vegas my daughter’s dieting regime was sorely tested. Stepping on the bathroom scales when she returned home she announced, “What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.” I’m thinking calories and sin have something in common - they often don’t bite you until a week later. “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” 1 Timothy 5:24 NIV

September 12, 2007

Las Vegas

While vacationing for a week in Las Vegas my daughter’s dieting regime was sorely tested. Stepping on the bathroom scales when she returned home she announced, “What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.” I’m thinking calories and sin have something in common - they often don’t bite you until a week later. “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” 1 Timothy 5:24 NIV

September 11, 2007


I think it’s safe to say that revivals have gone out of favor in today’s church. It’s probably been over 25 years since our church has held one, but I can remember week long events where contests were used to encourage members to ‘fill a pew’ on a specific night. The focus seemed to be on getting friends, family and the un-churched into a service where the Spirit had a chance to work on their hearts. Looking back I think our efforts may have been somewhat misguided. Webster defines revival as ‘an act or instance of reviving; a new presentation of something old’. The heathens we invited had nothing to revive - it’s we believers who need spiritual CPR.

September 10, 2007

Give it All to Jesus

Last week my life was like a roller coaster with one family crisis after another. Even though the Lord’s hand was evident at every turn I kept thinking things couldn’t get worse, but they did. On Sunday I telephoned Aunt Cleo, the reigning spiritual matriarch of the family, for support, encouragement and words of wisdom. Her advice, “Give it to the Lord, but don’t let Him have all of it. Save a little of it so you’ll have something to worry about.”

September 07, 2007


Although she has a whole laundry list of problems, my 61 year-old sister seldom shows a hint of having a bended knee toward the Lord. Diagnosed bipolar, she’s also addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs. Over the last few years she’s undergone surgery, radiation and chemo at separate times for both lung cancer and a brain tumor. At one point her prognosis was six months to a year – that was 17 months ago. Right now she is in ICU after having mixed a cocktail of wine and prescription meds. Physically and mentally her outlook is grim. Spiritually speaking, you’d think that any one of the obstacles in her life would have sent her on a quest for the Lord. No wonder the Lord is patient – He’s dealing with a lot of slow learners!

September 06, 2007

Sticking Together

The path I take on my daily walk goes past a neighbor’s desert garden of cactus and rocks. This spring I watched four stinging nettles as they inched their way up through a group of tightly packed barrel cactus. The nettles were no match for the cactus. Trying to avoid the cactus needles, the stems of the nettles became bent and distorted. I’ll have to admit that I loved watching the thistles get a dose of their own medicine before they withered and died. Too bad Christians aren’t as tightly packed together as the barrel cactus – the thorns of the world wouldn’t stand a chance.

Thanks for Sharing

Daniel is a new contributor and has just posted comments on ‘Roped Off’ and ‘Anonymity’ [past blogs]. I appreciate your comments Daniel. Sharing a different view, insight or experience gives us new perspectives. It certainly makes me more sensitive to ‘do unto others’.

September 05, 2007

Save the Children

Television segments about the food crisis in Africa and other programs depicting starving children pull at my heartstrings. I find them difficult to watch for any length of time before flipping to another network. There’s a similar situation taking place in the church. Rather than look upon spiritual starvation, our leaders simply flip our attention to a new program, motto or method. By focusing on the hand clapping, smiling faces of the contemporary crowd we don’t have to look at our gaunt, neglected and spiritually malnourished brothers – nor must we calculate those who’ve already starved to death.

September 04, 2007

Welcome to America

An article in the September 3rd issue of the Montrose Daily Press reports on a Nigerian priest who will begin serving in our local Catholic church. Reporter Kati O’Hare writes that Rev. Augustine, “… ‘came to serve where he is needed,’ and with a background strong in spirituality, he hopes to provide an authentic expression of his culture’s humanity.” [I’m sure this is one of the items at the top of the Lord’s priority list.] Augustine said, ‘…the Catholic religion in the United States is much like it is in Nigeria, practicing the same rites.” [One would think so.] “He also wants to work with the youth ministry and develop charisma to Christian music.” [Contemporary worship leaders are going to love hearing they need more charisma.] The current priest, Father Malin, says of his new co-worker, “We’ll be talking a lot, dreaming a lot and visioning a lot.” Welcome to American churches where everyone seems to have a vision.

September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’.” Revelation 14:13 NIV