December 31, 2007
My friend teaches an adult Sunday School class for the mentally challenged. She loves her class, but her husband is sometimes resentful of the extra time spent on her students outside the classroom. “I’ve been doing this class for five years and I’m not going to give it up until the Lord takes it away from me.” I like her spirit. Personally, I’d rather have the pain of the Lord prying my fingers off of a ministry, than having the regret of giving up on the Lord’s work prematurely because of the insistence of others. However, I do think when the Lord takes a ministry away from us it would help if He’s tell us to, ‘take two aspirin and call Me in the morning.’
December 28, 2007
German anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens is the creator of Body Worlds, the exhibit that displays dissection and plastination of the human body. I don’t know what I expected when I first saw the exhibit, but I was surprised that bodies stripped of outer skin and fat all look the same. For instance, with the exception of one specimen that had a tuft of grey hair, all the exposed triceps and biceps looked, well…young. I’m wondering what God sees when He looks at us as individuals. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. Heb 4:12 NIV
December 27, 2007
Recently my sister came to live with me and my mother became a nursing home resident. In closing down their apartments I’ve tried to absorb their things, so I now have multiples of everything. Together we have three irons, five coffee pots and nine vacuums of various sizes and descriptions. Our combined plethora of cleaning supplies can’t even be condensed into a few bottles because they’re all different brands. I’m struggling with my inheritance of household duplications. Trying to find God in the situation made me think of how Jesus absorbed our collective sins on the cross…and I thought I had multiples to deal with!
December 26, 2007
For me, Christmas day was spent shoveling snow. We had 12 inches of light and fluffy, however the town 10 miles north of here had no snow. “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” (Ro 9:14-15 NIV) I’m now pondering which town is the beneficiary.
December 25, 2007
December 24, 2007
Warren Cole Smith’s article published in the December 1st issue of World has a great sidebar titled, ‘Seeking but not finding: The mother church of the seeker movement has a midlife crisis.’ Mr. Smith reports on a study and a book (‘Reveal: Where Are You?’) co-authored by Callie Parkinson and recently published by Willow Creek Church. The study suggests, “Most churches are not doing a good job of true discipleship.” Apparently not overly concerned, Ms. Parkinson boasts the suburban Chicago church is not just, “seeker-focused. We’re seeker-obsessed.” No doubt the Willow Creek obsession will continue to filter down to the leadership in our churches. It just seems to me that the seeker focused movement is looking more and more like a golden calf.
December 21, 2007
‘Numbers Racket’, an article written Warren Cole Smith, was published in the December 1st issue of World. The article exposes survey results showing mega-churches ‘notoriously inflate their numbers’ (membership). List publisher Lynne Marian admitted to the discrepancies, but then justified her lists by saying, “It’s not about the numbers. It’s about taking a look at what God is doing.” I wonder how God feels about churches padding survey results in order to make Him look better.
December 20, 2007
The lead paragraph in a Colorado Springs AP article says, “A church member who suffered minor injuries in the fatal shootings at New Life Church was escorted off church grounds by police a week later because New Life officials thought he was ‘volatile’ and might be disruptive.” The article goes on to quote Senior Pastor Brady Boyd, “We felt he was a bit volatile this morning, and we didn’t want any disruption to our service.” Adding insult to injury, the police told the man he wasn’t welcome back on the property and the church is also going to seek a restraining order. I realize the report doesn’t give all the details, but you’ve got to wonder, ‘What would Jesus do?’
December 19, 2007
I find I’m in a political quandary. No, it’s not with the 2008 election, but it’s with my church’s election of elders. First let me say that biblically the new candidates are qualified. However, when they were selected as nominees, additional criteria were used. So…do I now base my vote solely on their biblical qualifications, or do I also evaluate the candidates with the additional criteria used in their selection? Maybe it’s self-imposed, but in the past I’ve felt bound by the Scriptural requirements of elders and deacons. I’m now re-thinking that position. It seems to me that whatever standard of measurement is applied (biblical and/or extra-biblical), shouldn’t the same be used by both the selection committee and the voter?
December 18, 2007
It doesn’t do much good to question a friend’s choice in a fiancée. Once she’s made a commitment, she expects everyone to happily give a blessing. It doesn’t matter if you think she’s making a terrible mistake, her mind is already made up. My church will soon be electing new elders to serve along side the current elders. The three men recommended to the congregation are, “to be confirmed by ballot on January 13th.” Although membership is permitted to raise questions about a nominee prior to the election, we’ve already been told that those selected are to be confirmed. No doubt along with the confirmation they expect us to happily give our blessing.
December 17, 2007
It seems to me that in today’s church, the more we’re encouraged to personalize and individualize our relationship to God and Jesus Christ, the less accountable we become to one another. For instance, confessing and repenting privately is much more comfortable than confessing and repenting to one another. And it’s easy to justify, because everyone knows the Lord sees what is done in private. Peter tells us to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). I can just see those in our do-it-yourself world trying to baptize themselves…at their leisure and in the comfort of their own home, of course.
December 14, 2007
Reading some promotional material on why someone would place their membership at my church caused me to pause. I looked up the Scripture referenced in the flyer, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…” (Eph. 2:19 NIV). As though the passage needed further explanation, the benefits of membership were then identified as: “1) Personal sense of belonging, 2) Personal voice and vote, 3) Personal significance, 4) Personal relationships, 5) Personal development, and 6) Personal rewards.” Sounds similar to what could be found at Weight Watchers, Anytime Fitness or the Elks Club. Too bad the writer of the promotional material didn’t cite the remainder of the Ephesians passage. “…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph 2:20-22 NIV) It’s no longer about ‘me’ when we are joined together and built together.
December 13, 2007
The Christian Communicator is a magazine for Christian writers and speakers. In the October issue Dr. Stephen D. Boyd, a professor of speech communication at Northern Kentucky University, has written an article titled ‘Let Your Ethics Show’. In it he says, “In addition to the fundamental issue of honesty and credibility, a speaker must meet other ethical standards to maintain the trust and respect of audience members. Speakers might just as well quit if their audiences don’t respect them and what they have to say.” It’s a struggle to listen to a speaker in the church who isn’t trusted or respected, but it’s out of respect for the WORD being preached that I try to listen. In reality I probably do a disservice to the speaker by giving them an audience...which they misconstrue as validation.
December 12, 2007
A few years ago I knew a husband and wife who had concealed gun permits and each carried a gun. Both were in their early 30’s and not members of law enforcement. I have to tell you, I didn’t like sitting in a pew next to a purse containing a gun even if it was stacked on top of a Bible. I know there is a time and place for concealed weapons, I just question the need for taking a gun to church. And now we have the recent church shootings in Colorado. While I’m thankful the security woman had a gun and was able to stop the shooter, I cringe at how this incident will impact churches across the US. Will we now start arming volunteer security people ‘just in case’?
December 11, 2007
During a time of jesting and verbal sparing my husband Bill noticed an undeniable family characteristic in our daughter. “It must be in the genes because you’re acting just like a Marvel.” Leslie responded, “Yes, but those genes were dormant until someone started aggravating them.” I can so totally relate…I go along pretty well in my Christian walk until someone stirs up the genes of my sinful nature.
December 10, 2007
When you ate at grandma’s table the meals often included a dab or two of leftovers from a previous meal. Her attitude was ‘waste not, want not’, and those leftovers would continue to appear at successive meals until someone finished them off. I tried to implement grandma’s tradition with my own family, but my children resisted the reruns. Today I still struggle with throwing food out if there is enough leftover for a single serving. If I’d been on the wilderness trek with Moses I’d probably have been one of those trying to serve leftover maggot-manna. (Ex 16:20)
December 07, 2007
CNN is broadcasting the program ‘CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute’. The presentation honors 18 finalists of ordinary people who CNN deems as heroes. It seems to me that the promotional clips for the program are more about the performers and the star-studded presenters than it is about those being honored. In speaking of the honorees, one reporter said, “We may not know their names, but they are heroes.” She goes on to say, “This was the guy who jumped onto the New York subway… Remember the man who saved… I really like his story…” I think her accolades would have sounded a bit more genuine had she at least given us her hero’s name (Wesley Autry). Imagine how the Lord would be perceived if we said, ‘This was the guy who stopped the stoning of a woman caught in adultery… Remember the man who saved… I really like his story…’ What was his name anyway?
December 06, 2007
In the space of three months I’ve had to close up two apartments, one belonging to my mother and the other to my sister. Both of them have had to go from one bedroom apartments to single bedroom living spaces. I’ve had to make decisions on what needs to be kept, what I know they want kept and what things we have space to keep. It’s been traumatic because everything they own is something they like and really want to keep. I know they are grieving their losses, but my house is bulging at the seams as I try to incorporate their treasures into my home. Jesus cautioned, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matt 6:19 NIV) There are days when I like to hand the keys to a thief and save him the trouble of breaking in.
December 05, 2007
Over the last few months both my mom and my sister have had health issues which put them in the same nursing home and in the same room. Although they roomed together for only about six weeks, it wasn’t a situation that either had expected or would have wanted. Both seemed to experience an emotional death of sorts. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words to Peter, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18 NIV) I wonder how Peter took this bit of news about his impending physical death…probably better than if the Lord had told him he’d be checking into a nursing home.
December 04, 2007
Although it happens occasionally, we don’t often see deer in town. Last week when I was returning home from the fitness center a six point buck crossed the four lane highway in front of me. It was just before dawn, so this normally busy stretch roadway had very little traffic at the time. Once safely across the road, the buck took cover in a forest of evergreen trees leaning against a fence at the farm supply Christmas tree lot. Maybe man can’t always see the forest for the trees, but his poor fellow saw trees and thought it was a forest. I can relate to the buck. I’m guilty of trying to take refuge in the church and amongst other believers…I need to remember that my refuge is in Christ.
December 03, 2007
Today my church doesn’t do as well in communication as it has done in years past. There was a time our worship service was broadcast on the radio each week, there was a weekly newsletter and bulletin, and even the minutes to the monthly elder’s meetings were posted on the bulletin board. Yesterday when I picked up the now monthly newsletter for December 2007 I read, “The XYZ Church Catalog, which is released twice a year, is the most comprehensive communication tool that we produce.” The article goes on to say the next catalog will be released in January. What a relief! I’m not really out of the loop after all…just comprehensively communicated with biannually.