December 31, 2008
A few years ago my daughter gave me a coffee mug for my birthday. The mug depicted a caricature of a woman devoid of facial expression with the caption, “IT’S OFFICIAL…I’ve become my mother.” I wasn’t laughing. I’ve worked hard trying not to be like my mother. It’s not that my mom isn’t a good person, she just has a few personality traits that I don’t want to emulate. I have to admit that I’ve never used the mug…probably because it reminds that in some ways I am in fact like my mother. It wasn’t until recently that I learned the sentiment on the cup was meant as a compliment. Leslie was implying she has become like me. In the spiritual realm we too take on the characteristics of our parent. Actually, there is no greater compliment than to say, It’s Official…I’ve become like Him.
December 30, 2008
This time of year many communities come together and share with those who are needy. However I think it’s sometimes difficult to identify those who are really in need. Paul says, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.” (1 Tim 5:5 NIV) I’ve known folks who put their hope in relatives, in the government and in friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who prays night and day asking God for help. I’m sure it’s not PC to ask someone about their prayer life, but it could be a nice litmus test to identify those who are really in need.
December 29, 2008
I sometimes struggle with writing a daily blog and have to remind myself, as they say in baseball, ‘you can’t hit a home run every time’. There are days however when my mind goes blank and I feel there is nothing to write about. I chide myself, ‘What…you mean you can’t see God anywhere today? God is Omni-Everything and you don’t have anything to say about Him?’ The psalmist never seems at a loss for words. No doubt the sight of my blank page is enough to make him hyperventilate.
December 26, 2008
I wanted to get our three year-old granddaughter a pair of boots for Christmas, but getting the right size and also having it be a surprise was impossible. The first pair I purchased was too large and when Lydia was told she couldn’t keep them, she pouted. The second pair fit, but once again she couldn’t keep them because I needed to put them under the tree for her Christmas present. More distraught than ever she added tears to her pouting. Finally on Christmas Eve Lydia opened her gift and pulling the boots from the package said, “Look…I’ve got my boots. They’re mine. I’ve got my new boots.” Even on an adult level I can relate to Lydia’s disappointment and her joy. I’ve known God to give me a glimpse of a perfect gift, only to have Him deny me the gift because it’s not the right time, the right size...or He has something better in mind. It’s hard not to pout…
December 25, 2008
December 24, 2008
Last week our choir sang ‘Lion of Judah’ for special music. I don’t recall ever hearing the song before, but it is beautiful. Apparently the words and melody settled comfortably in my mind because when I woke up at 2:00 am this morning I was singing with the choir and could not get the song out of my mind. I can just imagine how maddening the Christmas season is for Satan. Songs of praise ringing out from every corner of the world may just be stuck in his head. Do you suppose he and his minions are loosing sleep by being reminded of their failure to kill the Holy One of God?
December 23, 2008
I helped my grandkids compile their Christmas gift list for family members before we went shopping at the Dollar Store. On the first outing I took three year-old Lydia and it didn’t take her long to get into the groove of being in total control. While she picked out taffy, hot sauce, rock salt and a jump rope, I put a post-it note on each item naming the intended recipient. When a rack of pet pooper-scoopers caught Lydia’s eye, she was insistent that Mama needed one for cleaning. I explained that these were for cleaning up after pets and that she did not have one. She stated, “I have a puppy (stuffed) and David has a kitty (also stuffed).” Undeterred she continued, “…and, I think Daddy needs one too.” In compromise I finally convinced her that if she purchased only one, maybe Mama and Daddy could share. Haven’t we all, at some time or another, received a gift we know we don’t need? Someone thinks they know how to help us utilize that gift, so they assign us to a ministry or volunteer us for a project. Our reaction can be a real test of believer maturity.
December 22, 2008
When I was employed as a bailiff I enjoyed listening to lawyer’s arguments. It was a challenge to weigh the evidence to see how my internal verdict compared to that of the jury. Some attorneys were more polished than others in their delivery, cross examinations and performance in the courtroom. Likewise, some witnesses had better credentials or were more believable than others. I think we encounter similar circumstances as believers. It’s our responsibility to be alert and keep the Word from getting lost in the presentation and delivery of the sermon.
December 19, 2008
We usually take the phrase ‘you haven’t changed one bit’ as a compliment. Perhaps we have some outward characteristics which stay consistent, but generally speaking if we haven’t changed over the years, we’ve got a serious problem. Really, can you imagine being the same person you were 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Or worse yet, being the same person you were when you first became a believer. Just as we enjoy watching young people grow to adulthood, we also take pleasure watching one another grow spiritually. I dare say we’re all more comfortable being the watcher than being the watched.
December 18, 2008
I once had a minister who wrote of the church, “Our resources, specifically human resources, are limited. By limited, I don’t mean that there are so few attending, rather there are so few people available to serve.” Taken literally, I think his comments paint a picture of an elderly congregation whose strength for service was limited. I have to laugh because at the time of his critique we had a thriving congregation averaging over 600 in weekly attendance. The reality was that there were few people available to serve in the manner that he wanted them to serve. Obviously not every believer has a servant spirit, but “…If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:11b NIV
December 17, 2008
I know a lady who I count as a friend, in spite of fact that she thinks I’m going to hell. Now she has never come right out and said I’m going to hell, but she has hinted her doubts about my salvation. One time I spoke of the collective ‘we’ being secure in our knowledge of our salvation and unable to look me in the eye she stammered, “Well…, well… I don’t know. I just couldn’t say.” Bless her heart, she just couldn’t state with any certainty that those outside her denomination have a place in heaven. It’s no wonder Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…” He’s probably going to have to send some of us to our rooms until we learn how to play together. (John 14:2a NIV)
December 16, 2008
I once had a minister who sprinkled his messages with data and survey stats. He purported himself to be a visionary who was up to speed on issues relevant to today’s culture. Doubting some of his statistics, I tracked down the source material and learned that the data he presented under the umbrella of ‘Christian’ was not mainstream Christianity, but rather taken from a collection of all the world’s religions. Now, I don’t believe he deliberately set out to mislead his audience, but I do think he failed to check the accuracy of his facts because he needed them to support his current vision. I’m envious of the Bereans. When they heard Paul preach all they had to do was examine, “…the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11b NIV
December 15, 2008
After I caught up on the family news with my spunky Great Aunt, we then talked a little politics. Jesting she said, “I have so much [political] wisdom that people could benefit from, but when you’re already seeing eye to eye with those around you, what’s the point of discussion if everyone’s in agreement.” I know what she means. Believers often find themselves in much the same dilemma when they’re with one another. Salvation is just not one of the topics of discussion when everyone’s in one accord.
December 12, 2008
I don’t understand the criteria used by the media for censoring. In one photo or video clip a face might be blurred-out while body parts are exposed, and then in another clip it’s just the opposite, the sensual parts are blackened-out and the face is exposed. I suppose it depends on who the media is trying to protect - the person in the photograph, the viewing public or themselves. Amazingly believers sometimes take it upon themselves to blur the Word of God. The writer John penned a warning to deal with any would-be censors of Revelation. “And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Rev 22:19 NIV)
December 11, 2008
Recently my husband told our three year-old granddaughter, “I think you need to given me a hug.” Quietly and thoughtfully Lydia said, “No, I don’t think we need to do that.” Obviously Bill’s mistake was in giving her an option to think about it. Have you ever noticed that there is nowhere in Scripture (to my recollection) where God asks us what we think? Occasionally Jesus asked the disciples what they were thinking, not because He wanted their opinion, but to expose the thoughts running around in their heads. I’m wondering how our conversation would change if we were to replace the phrase ‘I think’ with ‘God thinks…’
December 10, 2008
I hate it when I’ve finished a conversation and walk out of the room, only to hear the other person start talking again. I then have to turn around, go back and ask them to repeat what they said. It’s irritating. Part of me is beginning to say, ‘Just keep on walking’, while another part suggests, ‘That would be rude’. I’ve tried to figure out what’s wrong. Do I have so many things on my mind that I’m moving too fast to get on to the next item, or is the other person just unaware that I’ve left the room? On a Spiritual level, I suppose it’s possible to do the same thing to the Spirit. With all the busyness of life going on, I may very well be leaving the building before He’s done talking to me.
December 09, 2008
In the city Holiday Parade of Lights last weekend our church had its début float. One of our members, who just turned 91, was determined to watch the parade and see our entry. Settling in to watch the festivities Sylvia misjudged the curb on the street and fell, breaking her hip. Family members helped seat her into her walker, but she wouldn’t let them call the ambulance. Sylvia had come to see the parade and she was going to see it, besides, “…if I don’t move, it doesn’t hurt.” An hour and forty-five minutes later the parade was over and Sylvia was ready to call the EMT’s. With such determination I’m reminded of both Simeon and Anna who, despite their age, waited and served in the temple at Jerusalem in anticipation of “the Lord’s Christ”. (Luke 2:25-40)
December 08, 2008
Our newly forming church has been meeting for almost seven months and the selection of elders and deacons should be completed in the next couple of weeks. Even though we’ve all been praying about the need for a building, it’s startling to see God answering prayers without our help. Yesterday we learned that one person has gifted the church with almost three acres of land and another family has stepped forward to be our ‘banker’…oh yes, and that family just happens to have an architect in the family who will draw up the building plans. After the announcement I and a few others wondered aloud if three acres would be enough. How absurd…if we needed more acreage the Lord would have provided us with a larger parcel of land. Obviously, I’ve since repented and asked for forgiveness.
December 05, 2008
With all the moisture in the air we are seeing some terrific sunrises and sunsets. Clouds of orange and mauve ripple like waves across an ocean of blue. Unlike fall leaves changing color, the moving sun allows only moments to appreciate the brilliance of the clouds before they abruptly turn grey. I think I can understand why Moses put a veil over his face (2 Cor 3:13; Ex 34:34) both for the people...and possibly for himself. It’s a real let-down to watch God’s radiance go so quickly from glorious to ordinary.
December 04, 2008
Over the Thanksgiving holidays our local hot air balloonists were offering free rides to veterans, but the weather was not cooperating. For three mornings in a row the pilots and crew stood around visiting and drinking coffee while trying to decide whether or not they could fly. Rather than stick a wet finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing, one morning they sent up a PIBAL, a small black pilot balloon. All eyes were on the PIBAL and the higher it climbed, the further everyone’s heads tilted backwards. It reminded me of Jesus being taken up into heaven right before the eyes of the disciples. They looked intently as He was going until a cloud his Him from their sight. Two men dressed in white suddenly appeared. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NIV)
December 03, 2008
When my husband wants to get everyone’s attention at a large gathering he produces a shrill whistle by positioning his tongue against the back of his teeth and tightening his lips. Hearing that same whistle coming from the garage I charged through the door to discover Bill standing on a half twisted ladder. With one hand he held tight to an overhanging brace and with the other he held a long handled paint roller. And there, teetering precariously on the top of the ladder was a tray full of paint. I have to tell you it was funny. Paul describes the church as being one body, but having many different parts. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1Cor 12:21 NIV) In Bill’s case, neither can the hand or the foot say to the part that whistles, ‘I don’t need you!’
December 02, 2008
Laura, a Sunday School teacher for mentally challenged adults was telling me about her class. “We screen what we say and how we say it, but the folks in my class just blurt out whatever is on their mind. They say exactly what they’re thinking.” She went on to tell me about Emily, a 52 year-old member of the class. One Sunday Emily prayed, “Lord, work with me on this! Let’s work together and get this done!” Normally I think about working for the Lord, or Him working through me. I appreciate Emily’s insight. It never occurred to me to work shoulder to shoulder with Him.
December 01, 2008
At some time or another I think we’ve all struggled in interacting with folks from different religious backgrounds with whom we are polarized opposites. My fear is, if a group falls in the cult category, does having fellowship with them encourage them to think I’m accepting of their beliefs? Last week I participated in a community Thanksgiving service where those in the program came from all different denominations. We had everything in common as far as Scripture reading, songs, prayers and the messages. It’s undeniable that everyone at the service was a person of faith…even if that faith is not in Jesus Christ as Savior.