November 30, 2007
Growing up my daughter described me to her friends as being the FBI, CIA and Santa Clause all rolled into one. From her perspective that’s probably an accurate characterization. My kids knew that any illegal activity, such as underage drinking, would not be tolerated. I went so far as to tell them not to worry about the police catching them if the broke the law, because if I found out something was amiss, I’d turn them in myself…and I would have. Applying the same principles to their friends, it’s understandable they had lots of friends hanging around our house after school, but they didn’t get invited to the ‘in-group’ parties. I think Paul offers great parenting advice, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Cor 15:33 NIV
November 29, 2007
In the November 10, 2007 issue of World magazine Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek Community Church fame, is mentioned in the ‘Quotables’ column. Apparently a study showed that the Willow Creek church model had not produced spiritually mature Christians. Mr. Hybles is quoted as saying, “We made a mistake.” My church, like many others, adopted portions of the Willow Creek model and we too are showing signs of spiritual immaturity. I’d really like to point an accusatory finger and at Willow Creek for leading us astray, but it’s not their fault that my leaders jumped on their train. Many of today’s church leaders desire to be at the helm of a megachurch. I wonder if it ever crossed their mind they might also have to deal with mega-immaturity.
November 28, 2007
Jude says, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 22-23 NIV) I think we’ve all tried our hand at snatching others from the fire and we’ve got the burns to prove it. If you’re like me, you have at least one relative who doesn’t want to be snatched from the fire…they’d rather play with it instead. My Sunday School teacher has a theory on witnessing. He believes we often fail in our witnessing to family members because they know us too well. I suppose to relatives some of our rescue burns could have a self-inflicted appearance…and in some cases they’re right.
November 27, 2007
Several years ago when my great uncle passed away friends volunteered to provide a meal for the family after the service. The meal never arrived and someone finally made a hasty trip to the grocery store for cold cuts and chips. The next day my aunt called the meal organizer to let her know about the miscommunication. Things became murkier when my aunt learned that the food had indeed been delivered. The volunteers took the food the house and finding it locked gained entrance from a neighbor who had a key. The meal was put in the oven and the refrigerator so it would be ready for the family when they returned from the graveside. Unraveling the confusion it was learned the meal was delivered to a house with the same address…only the house was on a different street. In a Godly coincidence, the meal had gone to a family who also had just returned from a funeral service. Not recognizing any of the names on the dishes, they didn’t know who to thank or where to return the dishes. “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt 6:8b NIV)
November 26, 2007
The October 2007 issue of Toastmaster magazine has an article on political communication written by Linda McGurk. One paragraph subtitled ‘Be a Visionary’ says, “While politicians often deal with many complex issues, it’s generally easier to captivate an audience and mobilize voters with big, sweeping visions of where you want to go and what you want to get accomplished than to present a laundry list of detailed changes to the tax code.” I’m thinking this same thing is taking place in the church. We, the congregational audience, are hearing more about where leaders want to go and what they want to accomplish than we’re hearing about sin, redemption and the blood of Christ. Whether political or religious, it’s interesting how easily captivated and mobilized we can be when it comes to men’s visions.
November 23, 2007
We always turn off the outside house light when everyone is in for the night, but a few days ago the trash had to go out and the last person in forgot to turn off the light. Around 7:00 pm an elderly lady, who appeared to be in her late seventies, rang the doorbell. She was lost, cold and frightened. I learned she’d just moved to Colorado from North Carolina and on the spur of the moment she decided to walk to the grocery store. Almost apologetically she said, “I didn’t realize it got dark so quickly here.” It was already dark when she finished shopping and left the store. Pulling her small cart loaded with groceries she’d taken a wrong turn and had been wondering around for some time. Showing me a map she’d torn from a phone book she ask to be pointed in the right direction, but the poor thing was well over a mile from her destination. We took her home and offered to help put her groceries away, but she said they could wait until the next day. She was tired and just wanted to go to bed. I don’t think angels live in houses, but if they do she just might qualify as one.
November 22, 2007
November 21, 2007
I live on a fairly busy street and on several occasions people have come to the door asking for help. A few years ago around 11:00 pm an intoxicated young man stumbled up the stairs and pounded on the door. It was the dead of winter and he was sopping wet and muddy. Judging by his tracks in the snow he’d failed to navigate the drain ditch while taking a short cut across the park. His breath hung in the air and through chattering teeth he ask if he could come in the house and use the phone. Surely Lord, this can’t be one of those strangers we’re supposed to be entertaining (Heb 13:2). I just couldn’t let him in…but I did offer to call the police so they could help. Shivering uncontrollably he declined my offer. As I closed the door his muddy feet slipped on the redwood steps and he ricochet to the bottom coming to a sprawling stop. He got to his feet and staggered down the road. I suppose this stranger could’ve been an angel…nah!
November 20, 2007
In my recollection of the ‘old days’, soda pop came in redeemable bottles. Kids could get five cents for every empty bottle they returned to the local grocery store. People driving cars were always throwing empty bottles out the window and I could pick them up on the side of the road, cash them in and buy penny candy. It was a great way to make spending money. Some bottles not acceptable for returning to a bottler were stamped, “No Deposit, No Return”. Who would have thought that an empty soda bottle could teach a child about deposits, returning and redeeming. The Lord left the Spirit as a deposit. Without the Spirit…no deposit, no return.
November 19, 2007
My husband Bill thought he’d given the Postal Service plenty of notice about his planned retirement date. Much to his surprise the fine print stated he must give 60 to 90 days notice. Oh, he could still retire all right…he just wouldn’t get any checks until the paperwork was completed in 60 to 90 days. Since his coworkers had already sent out the invitations for the retirement party, they decided whether or not he actually retired, the show must go on. Bill was left having to explain to his postal customers why he kept hanging around after his send-off party. Many of us struggle with and often avoid fully reading documents. Even the Bible can fall victim to our methods of skimming. I’m wondering how well failing to read the fine print will play on Judgment Day.
November 16, 2007
Our church attendance continues to drop in spite of the leadership’s spin that we are growing. Many of those leaving are prominent leaders in their own right – youth leaders, committee members, ministry leaders, etc. Because they are qualified servant leaders they quickly settle into positions of leading and teaching at other churches. It’s our loss and their gain. I find it interesting that these folks are slipping out of the boat without rocking it. To their credit they would rather leave quietly than add dissention to the dysfunction. Their explanation about leaving and needing a change sounds as benign as taking a Sabbatical – only we both know that once they’ve connected with another body they won’t be back. Personally, I’d like to see a few of them do a cannon ball off the boat…maybe then someone would yell ‘man overboard.’
November 15, 2007
The first show on Broadway to be affected by the stagehands strike was “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” Now that’s what I call prophetic for those with reserved tickets and everyone connected with the show. I know the Grinch all too personally. For me he shows up uninvited the day after Thanksgiving and won’t leave until Christmas day. He plays on the fact that I never feel completely ready for the holidays. Even without putting Christmas on the calendar, my month of December would be full. The gifts I’d like to buy I either can’t find, or can’t afford. Entertaining family and meal preparation seems more work than pleasure. I do love the decorations…if someone else puts them up and takes them down. Maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe if I’d really let the Grinch steal Christmas then I could focus on the birth of Christ.
November 14, 2007
Some prominent televangelists are coming under scrutiny because they’ve not been forth coming with financial accountably. Sunday morning I caught a portion of an interview with Dr. Michael Lindsey on Fox News. Paraphrasing he said, “We need to know if a widow’s mite is paying for an evangelist’s Bentley.” I dislike the lavish lifestyle of ministers who preach the ‘prosperity gospel’, but then again, I don’t support them financially. When Dr. Lindsey puts the widow and her mite in the equation, it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture. Of course, neither does hearing about a criminal conning his victim out of their Social Security check.
November 13, 2007
Last weekend I read an article written by Associated Press Writers Oskar Garcia and Elliot Spagat about sexual abuse across the US. The article contained an interview with Mary Jo McGarth, a California attorney who has worked on teacher sexual abuse cases for three decades. Ms. McGarth said, “Rumors are gold. Rumors truly will light the way to tangible evidences of what’s going on.” Our tendency in the church is to equate rumors with gossip. And, as we all know, nothing will put the breaks on a rumor faster than someone hinting that it is gossip. Rather than squelching a rumor, if we investigated it for the purpose of shedding light on what’s going on in the body the church might be healthier.
November 12, 2007
I’d never been out of Colorado until I joined the Navy and was sent to Bainbridge, MD for basic training. Upon arrival each new batch of recruits was assigned a Company Aid (CA) who stayed with them for the first week to help them adjust to military life. My CA was a petite, soft spoken blond who, I later learned, was just barely out of basic training herself. The first night as I lay in my bunk for bed check I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. The firm voice of the night watch echoed through the barracks, “Lights out” and the quiet was deafening. I felt like I dare not move, much less whisper to other bunkmates. As the CA was leaving for the night she called out from a distance, “Good night Company 30…God bless you.” And so we were.
November 09, 2007
Twenty some years ago an elderly couple moved into a small house a couple doors down from my house. One of their friends helping them settle into their new home let me know right away that I could now look after them...seeing as how we had Christianity in common. I let our relationship be neighborly, including being available to them for emergencies, but I always kept them at arms length...I didn’t want to look after them. A few years back the husband passed away and more recently his widow sold her home and moved into assisted living. Even today she calls every few weeks to chat and hear the neighborhood news. All these years I’ve felt guilty for not doing more and resentful for feeling I should have done more…seeing as how we had Christianity “in common”.
November 08, 2007
On my way to an appointment one morning I got behind a slow moving white mini van that eventually pulled over and stopped in front of an apartment complex. A few moments later when I stopped at a stop sign an impatient Chevy Blazer roared around me and took a right turn speeding down a different road. I continued on and came up behind a pick-up truck with a camper shell, which I then passed. Although using alternate roads, the Blazer and I hit Starbuck’s parking lot at the same time. Getting out of our vehicles the young red headed diver said, “If I’d known you were coming here I’d have followed you.” We walked toward the coffee house as the white mini van, along with the passenger she picked up, drove in. Looking over my shoulder as I opened the door, I saw the little pick-up pulling into the parking lot. We all had the same destination…just a different pace. Sort of reminds me of becoming a Christian.
November 07, 2007
Last winter I found a Ladybug on the kitchen floor and I really didn’t know what to do with her. Temperatures were well below freezing for over a week so who knows where she came from. I wanted to send her on her way, “Ladybug, Ladybug fly away home…”, but if I put her outside she’d be freeze dried before she got home. I had no inviting habitat to offer since my green thumb is limited to glass flowers and dry pussy willows. The only thing I could offer was the trash compactor. I reasoned she might be happy crawling around in there if she could avoid being squashed when someone turned on the compactor. Then maybe, just maybe, the weather would warm up before the next time the trash had to go out. Believers aren’t immune from being in the wrong place at the wrong time either. I think the Lord spends a lot of time trying to put some of us in places where we won’t get squashed.
November 06, 2007
In yesterday’s blog I quoted my church leaders who’ve said they would like a prospective elder candidate who is, “…also concerned about what ramifications their present decisions have on the cause of Christ in the future.” Generically speaking, I should hope so. However Biblically speaking, if a person is overly concerned about ramifications, they may be thinking politically, or even second guessing the Spirit’s leading. Leaders may like to think that the decisions made today on behalf of the church will be written in stone. In truth, it only takes a new minister and new staff to do a re-write.
November 05, 2007
It’s the time of year when my congregation selects and elects elders. In addition to the Biblical qualifications, our leaders would like elder candidates to have other ‘practical and spiritual characteristics’. One of the things they are looking for in a prospective elder is, “He should be a visionary leader. Our elders are to be men who are not only concerned with the present but who are also concerned about what ramifications their present decisions have on the cause of Christ in the future. Our elders are expected to cast a vision that the church can follow. (Prov. 29:18 KJV, NASB; 1 Peter 5:1-4)" I looked up the Bible references and they just don’t support the ‘visionary’ statements. Personally, I think the Lord has already cast a vision for the church…and He expects us to cast nets.
November 02, 2007
I’m an election judge for the upcoming election and I spent the day working on early voting. There are many safeguards in the election process, one of which requires we have multiple judges from both the Republican and Democrat parties. I have confidence in the election results because of the accountability that’s in place. My church is also in the process of doing their annual election of elders…I wish I had as much confidence in it as I do in the local county election. I feel a conflict of interest is a very real possibility anytime all nominations and voted ballots are submitted and returned to only one person rather than to an independent committee. In the church, men filling the position of elder are to be above reproach (1Tim 3:2). It only seems fitting and reasonable to expect those handling the election should also be above reproach.
November 01, 2007
My normal practice for banking is to use the drive-up window. On Halloween however, I needed to do my business inside the building. A sign scotched taped to the front doors read, PLEASE REMOVE MASKS BEFORE ENTERING. Good idea! I’m thinking the same signage on the church doors might be applicable.