February 27, 2009
I recently attended an event where my colleagues and I were called forward to accept an award on behalf of our community. It was a surprise, but I think had we known about the presentation, all of us would have done prepared differently. Our thoughts would have been less scattered, our attire more professional and the one missing colleague would probably have made a point to attend. At the house of a Pharisee Jesus told a parable warning us about being presumptuous and taking the best seat at a wedding banquet (Luke 14:7-12). I can just imagine the guy who took the lowest seat and was then honored by being moved up to a seat of importance...he was probably thinking, ‘Man, I knew I should’ve worn one of my better tunics!”
February 26, 2009
Whether it’s a committee, a board or a council, each member is nothing more than an individual until they come together as a group. Only then are they are empowered and have authority to make decisions, give direction and set goals. I think there is a similar situation for believers. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (I Cor 12:12, 27 NIV) Individually we all have the Spirit living within us, however we need to be reminded that it’s only when we come together that we are transformed into the body of Christ.
February 25, 2009
As each of us work with our respective ministries we have a tendency to think everyone else has or should have the same vested interest. Normally during the church service there is a time and place for announcements. There are times when the announcements combine a history lesson and current activity update on a particular ministry, when all we really needed to hear was the date and time of the upcoming fundraiser. Over the years I’ve been in worship services where a 30 minute sermon had to be shortened by 15 minutes because the preceding meditations, promotions and updates cut into the preacher’s time. Though I enjoy getting caught up on our weekly activities, I cringe when they take time away from God’s Word being proclaimed.
February 24, 2009
I recently had a conversation where I was given a scenario about a problem. I understood the scenario, but I couldn’t see a problem or an issue. When I left the conversation the other person was shrugging their shoulders with a frustrated look of, ‘She just doesn’t get it.’ I did get it…about 12 hours later. Rather than speaking plainly, this person used himself as an example of how he thought a situation needed to be addressed. In reality what he was doing was attempting to steer me toward what he thought I should be addressing. I can sympathize with the disciples when Jesus talked to them in parables…and I also share their sense of relief when they could say, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.” John 16:29 NIV
February 23, 2009
I’m a member of Toastmasters International and one of the things they encourage us to do is take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. On short-notice I was asked to moderate a legislative panel discussion and while I was saying, “Sure, I’d be happy to do that,” my mind was saying, ‘You don’t have a clue about what it is you’re agreeing to do…’ Whether it has to do with our salvation or an unexpected opportunity, I think it’s safe to say that most of us feel unprepared when God calls us. Paul puts it in perspective for us, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world…; God chose the weak things of the world… He chose the lowly things of this world…” I Cor 1:26-27. Oh, now I feel qualified…
February 20, 2009
Whether it’s an email, a voice mail or dialog with your teenager – most of us want some sort of a response that the intended recipient actually got our message. Spiritually speaking, the Spirit within us knows whether or not we got the message, but I think that He too wants to hear us acknowledge that fact. After eating the forbidden fruit in the garden Adam and Eve tried to play a game of Hide-n-go-Seek. God knew exactly where they were (both physically and spiritually), but He asked the rhetorical question, “Where are you?”
February 19, 2009
The other day I went to a public forum to listen to a newly appointed Senator. The Senator made a few opening remarks, the crowd asked questions and in general the communication was informative and congenial. Later in the day the Senator made stops in a couple of neighboring communities and although I haven’t heard how he handled himself, it was reported that there were elements of disrespect and even hostility coming from those audiences. When we feel attacked the natural response is to defend our positions and ourselves. The chief priest said many things against Jesus and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” More than a few of us could benefit by following Jesus’ example, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15: 4-5 NIV
February 18, 2009
There’s a young adult man in my neighborhood who sometimes dresses up in costume. In his childlike creativity I’ve encountered him as a park ranger, a US Marine and an NFL football player…and he actually looks pretty convincing, even down to his physical mannerisms. Paul encourages us to do some dressing up of our own. Just think if we actually followed Paul’s instructions and put on the full armor of God – we might look pretty convincing too. (Eph 6:11)
February 17, 2009
The opening season of the CBS reality show the Amazing Race had contestants going up and down a steep slippery Swiss hillside carrying huge blocks of cheese. The team’s conversation went something like this, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…You can do it just keep moving. No, I can’t do it any more, it’s too hard. You’ll have to carry mine I’m just not strong enough…Don’t quit, we can do this.” It sort of sounds like the conversation we Christians have with the Lord. If I’m honest I have to confess that I don’t always want the Lord to help me carry my load…I rather have Him carry the whole thing.
February 16, 2009
Years ago we were returning from home from Denver on a calm winter day. The sky was brilliant blue and not a cloud in sight. As we came out of the mountains the far reaching highway of South Park was overlaid with a blanket of white. For as far as you could see there was a thick fog settling on the valley floor. My mom slowed down going into the fog, but ten seconds into the white mass we discovered we were in a white-out ground blizzard. Around the windows of the passenger side the snow sand-blasted its way into the car. Although we couldn’t see anything out the windshield, if I looked straight down the passenger’s side of the car I could tell my mom where the yellow line was. Amazingly a semi-truck passed us and we were then able to follow him out of the storm. His secret to the navigating the blizzard was that the cab of his truck was right above the snow line. While we were blinded, he had clear vision. When I’m in a life blizzard I need to be reminded that from God’s perspective there is blue sky.
February 13, 2009
Some of the keys on my computer are shiny with wear, while others are dull because of lack of use…or no use at all. No doubt all the keys can all do wonderful things, but I have visions of opening Pandora’s Box and releasing a plague that will send my files into computer space. Or I might even become Alice in Computer-land and never find my way back to the desktop. In the same way I avoid exploring the power of my computer and the internet, I think many of us avoid exploring the power of God. I’ve never thought about Googling God…but He does have his own Search Engine. “…The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor 2:10b NIV)
February 12, 2009
A professional facilitator on assignment in New Mexico found the following ground rules posted in the senior citizen’s center. 1) No alcohol on premises 2) No fighting will be tolerated 3) No abusive language 4) No harassment tolerated 5) No weapons allowed on premises. In good natured humor, seasoned with a hint of disbelief, she questioned the director about what seniors found worth fighting over. “Oh… it happens. They fight over the ladies.” Now wouldn’t you think that as a senior your maturity would override the need for rules? It’s no wonder the ground rules found in Scripture don’t change according to our maturity level…some things never change.
February 11, 2009
Paul was sailing to Italy when he stepped forward to give the crew a warning about the dangers of the voyage. “But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.” (Acts 27:11) I probably would have come to the same conclusion because reason tells me that the pilot and owner of the ship had more sailing expertise than Paul…the resident prisoner, tentmaker and a Pharisee turned disciple. I think we sometimes make the same mistake in the church. If we look only to those in leadership, then we’re overlooking the spiritual insights and wisdom of those in the pew. There are more than a few people sitting in our pews who, after throwing the cargo overboard, are entitled to echo Paul’s words, “Men, you should have taken my advice…”
February 10, 2009
In my political life I get a variety of personal invitations and I try to attend as many events as I can so that I can connect with the community. A while back I received a generic invitation in the mail to attend an open house for a church that had relocated. The invitation appeared to be for the community at large and while I mentally wished them the best in their new digs, I didn’t think about attending. The parable of the Wedding Banquet then comes to mind (Matt 22). I’m not going to make excuses for those who paid no attention to the invitation…they made enough of those for themselves. However, I’ve got to wonder if any of them thought the invitation was generic rather than personal.
February 09, 2009
A member of our church family just passed away after what appeared to be a short illness of only one month. The reality is that 59 year-old Diana hadn’t focused on her health for a couple of years, “It’s my own fault for not going in for check-ups.” Although Diana had dismissed her physical health, she was spiritually healthy. After years of faithfully serving in the church, I suppose she might fall into the Dorcas category (Acts 9:36). I find the story of Dorcas interesting. She was dearly loved by those in her church community, died unexpectedly and then Peter prayed over her bringing her back to life. I always wondered if Dorcas would have preferred staying with the Lord rather than returning to a life of service and love. It seems to me that our friend Diana has earned a well deserved rest from her labor.
February 06, 2009
There is a program being implemented in some schools called Safe2Tell. The program is an avenue for students and parents to give information to school faculty and law enforcement anonymously. It is reported that in crisis situations, 81% of the time (suicide, drugs, fights, threats to students) someone knew about it, but didn’t tell. The Safe2Tell staff knows that by breaking the code of silence they can save lives. They hope to get across to youth that it’s not a betrayal to inform on their friends…but failing to get help for their friend, is betrayal. I think we could use a Safe2Tell program in the church. Sin amongst believers can at times be blatant and yet we don’t get help for our friends. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV
February 05, 2009
Jesus remained silent during his interrogation until Pilate boasted that he had the power either to free or to crucify. Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11a NIV) Verse twelve continues, “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free…” Well now, I guess Pilate didn’t have quite as much power as he thought he did. Going through today’s troubled times leaders, in both the world and the church, would do well to remember Who gives them their power and authority.
February 04, 2009
Webster’s defines a potshot as: a shot taken from ambush or at a random or easy target. A critical remark made in a random or sporadic manner. Some of us have been on the receiving end of religious potshots. Of course we know Jesus says, ‘Turn the other cheek’, and to the Lord’s credit many of us are really good cheek turners. Nothing against the cheek turning, but I think we could sometimes avoid being hit by potshots if we weren’t such easy targets. I’ve found that the more faithful I am in Bible study, the less vulnerable I am…or maybe I just enjoy watching the return fire of Biblical ammunition hit its mark.
February 03, 2009
It always lifts my spirit when Jesus is proclaimed outside of the church. Whether it’s a football player pointing heavenward after he’s made a touchdown or a news commentator interjecting a New Testament teaching, it brings an amen to my mind and a smile on lips when Jesus is mentioned. Come to think of it, I suppose Jesus is smiling too every time He has an opportunity to get out of the church building.
February 02, 2009
Many churches today are removing pews and replacing them with movable seating that can be re-arranged, stacked or stored. Certainly there is a convenience factor in chairs, but I have to tell you that I miss the physical and psychological comfort of pews. Stout and securely attached to the floor, pews offer a measure of support for both young and old alike. People can spread out or cozy-up, but I don’t think they can ever fill up a pew…there’s always room to squeeze in at least one more person. With chairs, when they’re full, they’re full. Really, when was the last time you invited someone to share your chair?