March 31, 2009
After removing Saul God made David king and testified concerning him, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22) Even though he’s described as a man doing everything God wanted him to do, I just can’t picture David as the poster child for obedience. As we strive to obey the Lord I suppose we can take some consolation in David’s example. Even if we were to do everything God wants us to do…there are always going to be some things He wishes we wouldn’t do!
March 30, 2009
In an interview with World magazine Charles Murray, author of Real Education said, “America has an irrational love for the Bachelor of Arts degree…” The gist of the article is that getting a B.A. has become the status standard of measurement for higher education. Murray believes however, that certification in particular fields can actually be more valuable than the coveted B.A. Believers as well can fall victim to credentials and man’s measurement. Gone are the days when we can have a degreeless fisherman or a carpenter preaching in the church. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (I Cor 10:12 NIV)
March 27, 2009
In I Cor 6:9-11 Paul gives us a laundry list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Those included often make excuses for their behavior, but the only one on the list that actively asks for and insists upon acceptance, is that of homosexuality. Really, can you imagine an adulterer, a thief or someone who is greedy asking you to accept their behavior because they were born that way? Paul points out that at one time many of us also belonged in the list of the doomed, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I understand that there are those who’d rather find themselves in hell than to accept salvation. What I don’t get is why they think I would, or should, accept and rejoice with them in their condemnation.
March 26, 2009
Our leaders encourage us to give generously of our tithes and offerings, but interestingly the church itself is often stingy when it comes to giving to missions. An old time preacher told me the story of a small church back east that for years faithfully gave 50% of it’s offerings to missions. The time came when a new preacher was hired and under his direction the church grew to the point that they needed to expand their facilities. In order to build the new million dollar building however, the leaders reduced the mission budget. It wasn’t long before attendance dropped to pre-new pastor levels and the large facility became home to a small congregation. According to my preacher friend, “They built their building on the backs of missionaries.”
March 25, 2009
When God came to Noah, Abraham and Zachariah they all knew it was the Lord speaking to them. Today having the Holy Spirit dwelling within us we may sometimes wonder, “Is that the Spirit speaking to me?” The other night one television character said to another, “That voice inside your head is not your conscience...it’s your ego.” No doubt the Spirit has some competition when it comes to being heard over all the other voices in our heads.
March 24, 2009
The Associated Press reported on a humanist ‘congregation’ in Cambridge, Mass that is “church-like, with its parenting classes, guest speakers and small group meetings to hash out sacred beliefs.” Humanist chaplin Greg Epstein is freely borrowing methodology from evangelical churches in an effort to grow God-free congregations. I really can’t fault the chaplin. His marketing efforts seem no different than mainstream evangelical churches borrowing from the world in order to attract the world. Sadly we too sometimes appear God-free.
March 23, 2009
Recently a woman in distress called wanting some information. She needed to know who to talk to about getting herself put on the prayer chain. Even though she’s been out of the church loop lately, she was asking for prayer support from active believers. I’d say she knew exactly Who to turn to.
March 20, 2009
As a means of motivation Mrs. Burr told her kindergarten class that they can’t go on to first grade until they can tie their shoes. Using problem solving skills five year-old David suggested wearing shoes with Velcro straps, but Mr. Burr wouldn’t budge. The kids had to be able to tie shoe strings and the end of the school year is rapidly approaching. A couple days ago I answered the phone and heard, “G.G…. This is David. Guess what? I get to go to first grade!” It sort of sends me down memory lane and learning that I get to heaven. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3 NIV
March 19, 2009
When lawyers present an oral argument before the Supreme Court, they don’t expect a decision from the Justices right away. The court has no time limit on how long it takes to render it’s opinion, other than the decisions must be made before the summer recess. The Justices’ decisions can take days, weeks or even months. I’d say that sounds remarkably similar to our oral arguments before God.
March 18, 2009
In the late summer of 1915 my great-grandparents homesteaded in southeastern Colorado. They settled on land where the prairie grass was high and water flowed in the creeks. Close to a small cottonwood tree they dug a pit and hit a spring that produced two barrels of water a day. Their dreams of ranching however were shattered once they discovered it was an unusually wet year. The spring consistently produced two barrels of water a day…but not a drop more. Because there lacked a sustainable source of water for a ranch, the homestead was abandoned. The spiritual life needs more than a cupful, bucketful or even a barrelful of living water. Jesus offers “…Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14b NIV)
March 17, 2009
My thought on the effects of the economic crisis as it relates to churches has been centered on the decline of charitable contributions. Until I read an article about church foreclosures. Its one thing for small community churches to tighten their belt, but it’s quite another thing to sustain sprawling religious campuses. When this crisis hit 18 months ago many churches were in the process of expansion and have huge mortgages. You’ve got to admit that the Lord does have interesting way of putting a cease and desist order on the building of towers and the storing of treasures.
March 16, 2009
A few years back I watched the impeachment hearings held with the House Judiciary Committee and heard some of the following back-and-forth statements and questions: “Will the gentleman yield? No, I will not yield to the gentleman. I thank the gentleman for yielding.” As I listened to the proceedings I thought of the Spirit having a similar dialog within believers. When Jesus calls us He’s asking, “Will the gentleman yield?”
March 13, 2009
When I’ve studied Jesus’ warning about storing up our treasures on earth, I’ve always focused in on the phrase “…where moth and rust destroy”. Obviously I can’t take any wealth with me when I die, so who cares if it’s eventually destroyed by moth and rust. Most of us are working on storing our treasures in heaven, but with the Bernard Madoff fraud scandal this verse has taken on an expanded meaning. “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) I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t given much thought to thieves making-off with earthly wealth before I die.
March 12, 2009
Once upon a time there was a small country church in Good Hope, Alabama. In seven short years the little church grew and grew and grew until it became a coveted mega-church. Their most recent sermon series is promoted on billboards and reads Great Sex: God’s Way. Jerry Lawson, pastor of Daystar Church, says the purpose of the sermons and the billboards is to get Christian parents talking to their kids about sex before they learn too much immorality from TV or playground buddies. Can’t you just see the Holy Spirit wondering how He’s going to work this theme into ‘Come, now is the time to worship…’
March 11, 2009
The size of our newspaper keeps shrinking and every time the bill comes I wonder if I really need to keep renewing my subscription. When yesterday’s storm dumped a few inches of snow I found myself digging all around the yard and driveway searching for a paper that, if found, may have very little to offer…other than the obituaries. In hindsight I think I did the same thing in my previous church. For years the Word of God just kept shrinking, while I continued to dig and search. I finally came to the conclusion that for me, they no longer offered enough of the Good News.
March 10, 2009
Sometimes when we run up against a really difficult person who negatively affects our lives we’d like someone or something to just take them out of the equation. Not that we’d wish them ill, but scenarios can run through our head as to the easiest way for God to dispose of the agitator. Most of us are good at justifying our thoughts and even taking them captive, it’s making them obedient to Christ that’s the hard part. “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Cor 10:5b NIV)
March 09, 2009
Arriving late to church one of our ladies sheepishly shook her head as she realized she’d forgotten to set her clock ahead an hour. Watching her slip into a chair triggered my thoughts about the reaction of those who will be late for the Second Coming. Unlike my tardy fellow parishioner, these folks won’t get past the closed door much less find an empty seat. Who knows, maybe Jesus forewarned us about Day Light Savings when He said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matt 25:13 NIV)
March 06, 2009
One of the key elements in qualifying to some of the stimulus money is to have projects that are ‘shovel ready’ – projects than can begin within 120 to 180 days. This means that all the work such as environmental impacts, feasibility studies and designs have been completed and you’re ready to hit the ground running with your roads and sewer projects. It sort of reminds me of preparing for the old time revivals many churches once held. We’d spend weeks working on our unsaved friends and relatives so we could have them shovel ready for salvation when the preacher came to town.
March 05, 2009
I just read an article which said the Wall Street Journal recently reported on churches employing mystery worshippers – a variation of the mystery shopper – who covertly attend church services and evaluate them (clean bathrooms, friendly folks, etc.). I’ll be honest and tell you that my initial reaction was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ However, the writer of Hebrews did cause me a moment of pause, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Heb 13:2 NIV
March 04, 2009
We are now hearing what’s in the stimulus package and while it may be good news for some, it’s not for others. Because of the stipulations, the size of my community is either too large or too small to qualify for the coveted funding of shovel-ready projects. Granted, those who do get the funding will be taken off priority lists, giving some of the rest of us a chance to get on a list…but I anticipate it’s going to be a dog fight for any funding scraps we try to get. I can so identify with the Canaanite woman who knelt before Jesus asking for help. In parable form Jesus told her He was sent to the Jews, not to the Canaanites. She responded, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Matt 15:27 NIV
March 03, 2009
In the church we’re really skilled at studying, worshiping, and fellowshipping – but we’re lacking when it comes to networking. As defined by Webster’s, networking is: the exchange of information…specifically the cultivation of productive relationships… The Bible has its own definition of networking: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Pro 27:17 NIV) I think many of today’s leaders today shy away from networking because of its revealing nature. Iron sharpening aluminum just doesn’t work.
March 02, 2009
In the last few weeks two members in my congregation have had a family member pass away. One man lost his adult daughter and another lost his wife of over 60 years. I find it remarkable that even though both of these elderly men are in mourning, the next Sunday following each funeral these men were in church. Their grief did not keep them from joining us in worship…even though the chairs that once held their loved one now sat empty. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matt 5:4 NIV