November 28, 2008

Traps

A feral cat recently had a litter of kittens under our shed. When I called the animal shelter they said that once the kittens were old enough I could take them to the shelter, but that I’d have to trap them myself. Although I don’t want to trap them, I also don’t want to worry about their survival this winter, or heaven forbid that they start multiplying. My friend Harold loaned me a cat trap and I was all set to become a fearless white hunter when I had a horrible thought, what if I trapped a pole cat instead of a kitty cat. One of Satan’s ploys is setting traps for the faithful and I dare say that at one time or another we’ve all fallen into one. Maybe when we find ourselves caught in one of Satan’s traps we should come out fighting with the determination and the aim of a pole cat.

November 26, 2008

Stubborn Stains

A number of years ago I was shaking my liquid make-up with my finger over the bottle opening when it slipped out of my hand and splattered on the carpet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to get the stain out, only to give up in defeat and tell myself I’ll just have to live with it. Last week I tried a new carpet cleaner. After the application there was a slight improvement, but overall the make-up still refused to give up its hold on the fibers. It sort of reminds me of some of the stubborn sins in our lives. Even when we feel defeated and decide that we’ll just have to live with the stain, Scripture comes along with a new formula for us to try.

November 25, 2008

Reasonings

The only time in my life when I’ve thrown caution to the wind with dieting was when I was pregnant. I decided that I had a legitimate and justifiable nine-month excuse to indulge. After all, I was eating for two, no amount of calorie counting was gong to bring back my waistline and everyone expected me to gain weight. We see a similar reasoning in the parable of the Great Banquet “…I have just bought a field …I just bought five yolk of oxen …I just got married.” (Luke 14:15-20) Sometimes friends and family accept our lame excuses, but we’re foolish if we think the Lord is going to buy it.

November 24, 2008

Vetting Candidates

Having just gone through the presidential election most of us have become more educated on the process of vetting a candidate. As believers, Scripture tells us that we too must vet men for the position of elder and deacon. Even though Timothy and Titus give us some specific qualifications, some of those qualifications are a matter of interpretation. I think the stickiest qualification is that a candidate must be the husband of only one wife. For some people, that stipulation disqualifies a man who has been divorced and remarried. However, others might accept a man who has remarried because he was married to only one woman at a time. I wish Paul had been more definitive, but he wasn’t. It appears to me that the only way a congregation can properly vet an elder or deacon candidate is for him to inform the membership if he has ever been divorced and remarried. It will then be up to individuals to accept or reject the candidate.

November 21, 2008

Impressions

My 5 year-old grandson was one of only three students in his kindergarten class to be able to write his name in cursive. Pulling his practice sheet from his backpack David said, “You are going to be soooo impressed!” Well, yes I was…and I know exactly how David feels. Whenever I walk away from a temptation, stop a sin in progress or turn the other cheek I have the same desire to tell God, ‘You are going to be soooo impressed!’

November 20, 2008

Mum's the Word

More and more I’m finding myself at meetings where I’m told things that must remain confidential, or that only half of the story can be told. There’s on going investigations, code names for prospective companies or contracts that are being negotiated. I can’t make casual conversation about situations without first stopping to think, ‘Did that conversation take place behind closed doors, or am I at liberty to discuss it openly?’ I laughingly tell people that I probably know just enough information to be dangerous. I do find that I have a whole new appreciation for those who ask for confidentiality and for those who can keep a confidence. On numerous occasions Jesus said, “See that you don’t tell anyone… See that no one knows about this. [Jesus]…warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.” Certainly Jesus’ ministry was affected by those who kept a confidence…and by those who did not.

November 19, 2008

Comb-Over

Awhile back I attend a meeting and was seated behind a man who tried to cover his bald head by wearing his hair in a comb-over. Now this wasn’t your normal comb-over. Rather than combing long hair from one side of the head to the other, this comb-over started from the nape of the neck and swept up and over to his forehead. His sparse hair must have been over seven inches long and I couldn’t help but think what the coiffure would like in the wind or the rain. I felt sorry for the man, not because he was bald, but because he is like so many of us. Often our effort to comb-over imperfections just draws more attention to the problem…and to our vanity.

November 18, 2008

Lame Duck

I can just imagine the mental picture that would form in the mind of a six year-old if you were to ask him to describe a lame duck. In politics we understand the President Bush is a lame duck because his presidency will soon end. Webster’s has another definition: one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement. I’ve seen lame ducks in the church…not only that, I’ve been one. There is no doubt that if we neglect the study of the Word, even for a short time, we become weaker and fall behind in our Christian maturity.

November 17, 2008

Baal Worship

Picture this: Your pastor preaches the Sunday morning sermon while sitting on a bed and his challenge to the congregation is for married couples to have sex once a day, beginning today, for seven straight days in a row. Really, I can’t make this stuff up. The Dallas Morning News (Nov 16th) reported that Rev. Ed Young of Grapevine Fellowship Church, a Baptist church of 20,000 members, just preached such a sermon. Mr. Young thinks the ‘whoopee’ will take folks minds off all the problems in America. According to the article, a church in Florida also issued a 30-day sex challenge to its congregation earlier this year. Sort of reminds you of the worship of Baal, doesn’t it?

November 14, 2008

Kibitzing on the Side

Lately I’ve been attending a lot of meetings where, rather than being able to listen to what is taking place, I’m either hearing others carrying on their own conversations, or else someone is trying to engage me in a sidebar. It’s frustrating to hear the answer to a question when you haven’t even heard the question. As Jesus taught His disciples I think these guys were doing a lot of kibitzing on the side also. “Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” (John 16:17-18 NIV) Does anyone else find it strange that they’re looking to each other for the answers, rather than Jesus?

November 13, 2008

Salt of the Earth

I’ve heard it’s disrespectful to the hostess to salt your food before you’ve even tasted it. Most of those in my family are salt-a-holics and unless the cook warns us that a particular dish is salty, we salt before we eat. One time while at my mother-in-law’s for dinner we kept passing the salt shaker back and forth and still the food was blah. Almost apologetically I commented that I didn’t think I’ve ever used so much salt. “Oh,” she said, “I’m using a salt-substitute now.” I know that Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13), but I think I may have encountered a few salt-substitutes in the church shaker.

November 12, 2008

White Knuckling It

Regardless of the travel warnings, the first winter storm of the year always catches motorists off guard. On a trip to Denver last week vehicles were stuck in snow banks, overturned in ditches, and jack-knifed in the middle of the road. In real-time one small car going in the opposite direction lost traction and fishtailed into my lane of traffic. The Fed-Ex delivery truck in front of me clipped his rear quarter-panel sending him through the air and over an embankment. As cars were stopping to help, the situation had all the makings of an impromptu demolition derby, so I just dodged the debris and continued on my way. Going over Monarch Pass the visibility was so bad that even though I was snuggled up to the bumper of a semi-truck, there were times I couldn’t see him or his hazard lights. Once out of the storm I loosened my grip on the steering wheel and got the circulation back into my fingers. There’s no need to tell you that I talked at length with God…

November 11, 2008

Veteran’s Day Blasé

I’ve served in both the US Navy and the Army National Guard. For those of us who have served in the military, Veteran’s Day is an important day of remembrance. However some people, who’ve not been personally touched by war or by service, are often blasé about honoring those who keep our nation free. I think the same can be said of some believers. Often those who’ve suffered for the faith or have been lifted from the depths of sin are to me, more deeply affected by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Whether it’s Veteran’s Day or the Communion Table, both give us an opportunity of remembrance.

November 10, 2008

New Comment

Kris posted a comment on the blog ‘Class Act’ and I had to go all the way back to February 8, 2008 to see what ‘Class Act’ was about. Kris, welcome to the conversation. Gail

Free at Last

I’ve mentioned before that over the years all my volunteer hours were given to the church, or occasionally to some other faith based endeavor. I look back with a certain amount of satisfaction knowing I’ve contributed to the Kingdom and the strengthening of the church. However, in recent months I’ve been serving in the world of politics and I’m no longer surrounded by fellow believers. While I miss the comfort and security of working with those of like precious faith, I think the Holy Spirit within me has a different perspective. All these years, rather than taking Spirit out into the world, I’ve kept Him confined to serving in the church. I can just imagine Him saying, “Free at last, Free at last…”

November 07, 2008

Happy Martyr

At time or another we’ve all probably played the role of a martyr…even if no where else but in our own mind. As believers we may think we’ve suffered persecution, but few of us can claim to have suffered as did Paul. I find it fascinating and also hard to grasp, that Paul’s suffering actually brought him joy, delight and rejoicing. I could understand it if Paul rejoiced as he reflected on what he’d gone through, but he was actually rejoicing during his suffering. Now I know that I too will rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ…you just might not see it until I get to heaven.

November 06, 2008

Capacity

A couple weeks ago at church I was lamenting about our lack of space and said I hated to invite people because there might not be any place for them to sit. A fellow member gently chided, “Oh no, don’t let that hold you back. Some of the rest of us will just stand up if we need to.” Of course he was correct. However, as one who helps get people seated, I’ve seen people leave, or feel they should leave, just because they can’t easily find a seat. Every Sunday I find myself breathing a sigh of relief once everyone is seated. What is so interesting about this situation is that when some of the regulars are absent, there are visitors taking their place, so the facility is almost always maxed out. It sort of reminds me of the widow of Zarephath who, having run out of flour and oil and was preparing to starve to death. Through the prophet Elijah God said, “…The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.” (1 Kings 17:14 NIV) I’m assuming we will not run out of seating and that God will provide us a larger facility…all before the Fire Marshall declares we’ve reached capacity.

November 05, 2008

Treadmill

A friend came up to me while I was on the treadmill last week and while focusing on her, my left foot jumped the track and I biffed it. Note to self: Don’t try to hang on to the side bars when you can’t get your feet under you. At the encouragement of others, the next time I got on the treadmill I clipped the emergency stop button to my shirt. Things were going well until my hand accidently hit the cord and the machine stopped cold in mid-stride. Once again I grabbed the side bars. Thankfully, rather than doing a face plant, I was able to gain my footing. You know, I sometimes feel like I’m on a spiritual treadmill…and the angels are having a knee-slapping good time watching my re-runs on Heaven’s Funniest Home Videos.

November 04, 2008

Election Day

Many of us took advantage of Colorado’s early voting and mail-in ballots. However, there are pitfalls associated with early voting. A few days ago I heard of a woman who lamented, “I think I voted for the wrong man.” Reflecting on the choice between Barabbas and Jesus, some of those standing at the foot of the cross came to that same realization.

November 03, 2008

Uneducated By Choice

In describing American demographics one TV commentator observed that there are some folks who are ‘uneducated by choice’. I shrug my shoulders in agreement…it is their choice. However, when I see the same thing happening in the church I squirm. It’s hard for me to understand those who chose to be Biblically uneducated. Apparently some people are just satisfied with whatever level of Christian maturity they can get through osmosis. I suppose that rather than trying to understand them, maybe here too I should be shrugging my shoulders and saying, ‘It’s their choice’.