January 30, 2009
The other day I heard a man of faith, who as an investment advisor was being interviewed on Fox News. A question posed to him by a fellow believer asked his thoughts on church contributions in this time of economic crisis. In response he said his understanding from Scripture was that 10% was one’s tithe, but beyond the tithe a person was to give out of their abundance. Paraphrasing he said, ‘If there is no abundance or excess, you’re not expected to give above the tithe.’ For years ministers have petition the congregation for love offerings beyond their tithe…I’m thinking they may have to revise their script.
January 29, 2009
Times were difficult during the Great Depression and my grandma told me her family always had two pots of pinto beans on the stove, one that was cooking and the other that was ready to eat. Grandma’s brother Hugh would eat a plate of beans for dinner then he’d smash up some more beans and pour sorghum on them for dessert. There are some portions of Scripture which are so overused in sermons that they start resembling those pots of beans. Blessed is the preacher, teacher or fellow believer who can add a touch of sweetness to the familiar.
January 28, 2009
Those who’ve been fighting for the right to life must be discouraged by Obama’s reversal of the Bush policies on stem cell research and abortion-funds. Even though this seems to be a setback, we need to remember that their labor of love has had victories. In situations like this, rather than wringing our hands in despair, we can find comfort in Paul’s thoughts, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Ro 12:18 NIV) The phrase I find most meaningful is, ‘as far as it depends on you’. When something depends on me and I have done all that I can do, there is a sense of release and relief…and I can live in peace.
January 27, 2009
Former pastor Ted Haggard’s sexual escapades are once again front page news. If I’m reading the story correctly, the new allegations were known to church leaders in 2006 and a legal settlement was reached with Haggard’s ‘friend’ in 2007. Last Sunday the current pastor of New Life Church Brady Boyd told his congregation, “I’m sorry that this wound has been reopened for many of you.” Excuse me. This would not be a ‘new’ allegation or a reopening of wounds if the church leaders had made full disclosure from the very beginning. Somewhere along the line these leaders must have determined that the congregation was too fragile to hear the whole truth. In the process of trying to save face and hide sin, they have certainly underestimated the Spirit’s ability to clean, heal and restore.
January 26, 2009
During the festivities of the inauguration many public prayers were offered up for President Obama and for the country. Some of these speakers brought to mind a warning from Jesus, “Watch out for the teachers of the law… for a show [they] make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” (Mark 12:38-40b NIV) Now I really did try to be objective, but when someone is praying aloud and the crowd starts applauding rather than saying ‘amen’, you’ve just got question whether the intended audience is God or man.
January 23, 2009
After the crucifixion the two Marys and Salome bought spices to anoint Jesus’ body. I find it so strange that on their way to the tomb they were asking one another, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” You’d think if they planned ahead enough to purchase the spices, they’d also have thought to ask a few strong disciples to meet them at the tomb. This is probably a good faith lesson for those of us who want to know that the door is going to be open before we start walking. Mark 16:3
January 22, 2009
I was looking forward to babysitting my three year-old granddaughter, but when she came to the house she wasn’t feeling well because of a cold. So for two hours Lydia sat around uninterested and unresponsive to any of my suggestions, other than watching cartoons. When her mom came to pick her up I hugged her good-bye and told her the next time she came over she would feel better and we could play. The tears started flowing and puckering up she said, “Oh no Momma. I don’t want to go…I forgot to play!” There are some of us who at times are overly serious about Christianity. When I die I’ll probably find myself standing before the Lord saying, ‘Oh no, I forgot to play!’
January 21, 2009
Last weekend I attended a 25th wedding anniversary where the large group of attendees were all believers. The honoree stated, “…all my friends are Christians. I don’t have any friends who aren’t believers.” After that celebration I went down the street and attended my uncle’s 90th birthday party where we visited in and around a live band playing honky tonk music. In church speak you could call it a blended celebration. There were believers, nominal believers and those with no belief at all. There’s a certain comfort in being surrounded by those of like precious faith, but add a little secular to the mix and you have some stimulating witnessing opportunities. I can see why Jesus accepted invitations to all kinds of fellowship configurations.
January 20, 2009
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…For he is God’s servant to do you good... He is God’s servant…Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” Romans 13:1, 4-5 NIV
January 19, 2009
I recently had a role in offering an organization a deal they just couldn’t refuse. The problem is it’s such a good deal that they can’t refuse it. In a sense they were safe until a good offer was on the table. Now they’re scrambling to come up with a logical and politically acceptable reason to turn down the offer. God offered mankind a deal in Jesus Christ that we just couldn’t refuse…yet every day people come up with logical and politically acceptable reasons for turning Him down.
January 16, 2009
I just read a thought provoking illustration: “One’s watch works only when all the parts designed in it are left inside the watch. We have no problem using Ford parts in a Ford and Chevrolet parts in a Chevy….” I think today’s church is often guilty of tinkering with the parts. We ignore Scripture that makes us uncomfortable, we tolerate teachings from other religions and we try to make the Word of God politically correct….to name a few. Just like a watch, without all the parts it’s no wonder we can’t always keep time.
January 15, 2009
Sometimes what the Lord says cuts straight to the heart, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” (Matt 21:45) And then other times we just don’t know what to do with what we hear, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” (Luke 12:41) Conviction is painful…and ignorance is bliss.
January 14, 2009
Even though people are divided by religious beliefs they can be unified by life’s circumstances. When ten lepers cried out to Jesus to have pity on them, he told them to go and show themselves to the priest. One of the ten was doubly unclean, because not only did he have leprosy, he was also a Samaritan. You’ve got to love it that this guy didn’t let his nationality keep him from the opportunity to be healed. All ten lepers were cleansed while on their way to see the priest, but it was only the Samaritan who returned to thank Jesus. Sending the Samaritan on his way Jesus said, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” It’s a good thing this Samaritan didn’t have to catch up with the other nine. I doubt if any ‘self-respecting’ priest would have come near him with or without the leprosy. (Luke 17:11-19)
January 13, 2009
It seems to me that asking forgiveness, when practiced, is mainly done amongst fellow believers. When we sin against unbelievers or strangers, our tendency is simply to just apologize. In Scripture we don’t hear Jesus saying, ‘And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, apologize to him, so that your Father in heaven may accept your apology for your sins.’ Or, ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you apologize to your brother from your heart.’ Other than God, when was the last time you asked someone to forgive you?
January 12, 2009
As believers it’s not unusual for us to hear one another petition God for help. However, a couple of times I’ve witnessed situations where persons with no religious persuasion have cried out, “God help me. God save me. Please God, Oh God…, Oh God…” It appeared that their call to God was for relief from pain and/or duress, rather than as a matter of faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb 11:6 NIV)
January 09, 2009
It’s interesting to see what God reveals, to whom He reveals it and when He chooses to reveal it. When I read where Peter publically declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God I wanted to say ‘Well duh Peter…What took you so long.’ Jesus however replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matt 16:17 NIV) When the time was right, it was the Father who revealed Christ to the disciples. Maybe that is what’s wrong with some of our evangelistic methods…we keep trying to pry open the eyes of the blind.
January 08, 2009
For many of us another person’s recommendation is a huge selling point. If someone tells us they’ve read a good book, eaten at a fabulous restaurant, or have seen a great movie, we may consider their endorsement as good enough for us to give it a try. Occasionally such a stamp of approval works with Christianity. The Samaritan woman at the well gave Jesus a five star rating by simply saying, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” I don’t know about you, but I can’t even get some of my immediate family members to give the Lord an audience, much less a whole community. (John 4:29)
January 07, 2009
It’s interesting watching those who are jockeying for political appointments. The media gives us a list of favorite front runners and then from out of nowhere a dark horse crosses the finish line. You’ve got to love those surprise endings…unless of course you are the one left in the dust. Often those who are rejected want to blame someone or something for their defeat. I’ve noticed it’s a little hard for believers to play the blame game when they know that it’s God who, “…sets up kings and deposes them.” Daniel 2:21
January 06, 2009
My Grandma had a servant’s heart and was always volunteering for things…even beyond the point where she could meet the obligation. She would sign up to make cookies for VBS, but then she couldn’t drive to the store to get the ingredients, nor could she make the delivery once they were baked. Even in her 80’s Grandma once told a friend that she was going to make him a country western shirt. The project however fell to her daughter Carol, who wound up buying the material, cutting out the pattern, sewing it up, putting on the snaps…and even delivering the shirt. I don’t think Grandma ever considered that, “…The spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” might somehow apply to her. (Matt 26:41b NIV)
January 05, 2009
There are a lot of things I still need to understand about computers, but one thing on my to-do list is to learn how to use a recall function for an email message. I know there is such a thing because the other day I started to open an email and it disappeared right before my eyes leaving a notice in its place, “This email has been recalled.” What a great feature. Of course the key is to recall the message before the receiving party has a chance to open it. There are times that I’d like to have a recall button for something I’ve said. But alas, when I can’t get those words back, the next best thing is to use the Scripture’s ‘please forgive me’ button.
January 02, 2009
Sometimes we believers get a little cocky because our salvation is secure and we know for a fact that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. But picture this; the disciples are in a boat on the lake and straining at the ores because the wind is against them. Jesus, walking on the lake, “…was about to pass by them…” It appears that Jesus might not have stopped if the disciples hadn’t cried out to Him. I wonder how many times I’ve been in dire straights and, because I failed to call out to Him, Jesus just kept on walking. (Mark 6:48)
January 01, 2009
In the days of Noah …people were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. In the days of Lot …people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. In the days of Believers…“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know what day your Lord will come.” Matt 24:42 NIV