August 31, 2009
I know Senator Edward M. Kennedy accomplished a lot in his life and by the number of folks who turned out for his funeral he was loved, respected and revered. My perspective of the Senator is tainted because I view him through the Chappaquiddick incident and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. I guess I just have a hard time honoring someone who, in spite of their good deeds, seems so...well, dishonorable. In sorting out my thoughts and feelings about Kennedy, King David came to mind. David seduced Bathsheba and then in a cover-up had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. David, ‘a man after God’s own heart’, was loved, respected and revered. I imaging the friends, family and men serving alongside Uriah found that a little hard to take.
August 28, 2009
My sister just received her third cancer diagnosis in six years. First a lung was removed, then a brain tumor and now a tumor on her spine. Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe Shelly as optimistic, I would say that she has never been pessimistic. A week ago when she learned about the tumor on her spine she said, “Damn…I was hoping for better news than that. Oh well, I’ve prayed about it and that’s all I can do. But even if it’s bad, it’s OK. I’ve lived a good life.” Now I know we all have our own skewed view of life, but Shelly has also battled alcohol and prescription drug addiction for years…and yet she feels she has lived a good life. I suppose to one degree or another everyone thinks they’ve lived a good life. Guess we’ll all find out for certain when it comes time for us to stand before the Lord.
August 27, 2009
There are times when church attendance can fall under the umbrella of obligation and we grudgingly attend services. Maybe it’s during our teens when our parents tell us we have to go, or it could be when we’ve overcommitted and have nursery duty for six months. And then there’s the spiritual dry spell when you leave a worship service feeling no different than when you walked in the door. I think even the faithful can occasionally find themselves being unfaithful. “Still others…hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19 NIV) I hate it when the worries of the world follow me into worship.
August 26, 2009
When we commit a traffic infraction while driving in town we normally avoid eye contact with other drivers. For instance, if you take the right-of-way from another driver you don’t want to look him in the eye because you know, that he knows, that you are in the wrong. Or haven’t we all rushed a yellow caution light and wound up running a red light. We don’t want to see the reaction of other drivers so we look out the window, fiddle with something in the car seat or stare straight ahead…it’s as though we believe, ‘if I don’t look you in the eye then you don’t know what I’ve done’. Sort of reminds you of Adam in the Garden of Eden…he probably thought, ‘If I don’t make eye contact with God, He won’t notice’.
August 25, 2009
I think it’s safe to say that at one time or another we’ve all asked God, ‘Why?’ Some people have countered this question with, ‘Why not?’ which I’ve always thought that was a good response. Recently however I read an even better response. The ‘Why?’ was turned into ‘What for?’ I think God might be pleased if we asked Him ‘What for?’ when we are in the midst of a crisis.
August 24, 2009
A woman in distress called 911 because she was locked inside her car. “Everything on my car is electrical and nothing’s working”, she told the operator, “It’s getting hot in here and I’m not feeling well.” Calmly the operator said, “Ma’am, do you have a lock on your door and have you tried pulling it up?” Problem solved…the captive was set free. I can so identify. The Spirit often answers ‘end-of-my-rope’ prayers with a similar, ‘have you tried pulling up on the lock?’
August 21, 2009
Years ago when we laid sod in the backyard we just piled the excess dirt by the fence. Depending on our landscaping needs, a shovelful of dirt here and there was added to or taken away from the pile. For the most part though, the heap just weathered in the elements and took on the shape of a mini-volcano. One summer a colony of entrepreneurial ants came by and couldn’t pass up the pre-formed anthill. With a little interior remodeling they made the dirt mound livable and took up residence. Our adding and subtracting eventually took its toll on the colony. Just goes to show that there is something to be said about, “building on someone else’s foundation”. (Ro 15:20)
August 20, 2009
For the last couple years my sister has lived with me and I’ve been her caregiver. I worry when she’s not feeling well, but I have a confession to make…she’s easier to get along with when she’s ill. I know it sounds bad, but when she’s really, really sick she doesn’t complain, criticize or demand…she appreciates everything I do for her. When you think about it, it’s not much different than when God allows challenges (physical, financial, spiritual, etc.) to come into the lives of believers. We really are more cooperative with the Spirit’s leading when we’re feeling under the weather.
August 19, 2009
I heard a story on the news about 90 year-old Martin Alvey who, because of degenerative eye disease, has been blind for two years. A recent dizzy spell sent Mr. Alvey to the hospital and while being examined his sight miraculously returned. Giving credit where credit is due Martin said, “God gave me back my sight.” Wanting more of a personal anecdote the reporter asked what had changed since his sight had returned. “Well,” said Martin, “When I go to shave in the morning I look in the mirror and say, ‘Hello there Buddy…Nice to see you.’” Jesus didn’t opened the eyes of the blind just so they could see the world around them…He opened their eyes so that they might see themselves.
August 18, 2009
I get frustrated with Senators and Representatives who are prepared to sign a health care bill without first having read it. Apparently many of those in Congress rely on their staff to do the reading, research and help formulate opinions. In reality I suppose it’s not much different than those of us who never crack open our Bibles…we rely on preachers and teachers to spoon feed us their opinions and interpretations. You wanna bet that the Spirit Himself just might be a little frustrated with us?
August 17, 2009
Because my church is a relatively new congregation the mission’s ministry is in its formative years. Other than thinking in terms of three different outreach directions - local, national and international – we haven’t settled on what or who to support. In the past I think the trend in churches has been to support people on the mission field, with a few projects thrown in here and there. However I’m wondering if supporting projects rather than missionaries might be closer to New Testament teaching. The disciples were sent out with no money in their purse or extra provisions and even Paul was not financed by the church, but supported himself as a tentmaker. I think I personally like the idea of supporting projects because they are measurable. Similar to the situation in the parable of the talents, most of us want to see evidence of our investment in the kingdom.
August 14, 2009
Most of us feel a certain amount of responsibility toward our children, our best friend or even our Sunday School class, if we’re the teacher. Generally speaking however, we don’t feel the same obligation towards those who fall in the category of an acquaintance. As Paul was sailing to Rome a wind of hurricane force came up and an angel of God said to him, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” It’s entirely possible that Paul didn’t even know the names of some of those on board. Here’s a scary thought…maybe the Lord has given you the lives of all your co-workers or your friends. What are you going to do with the lives God has graciously given you? (Acts 27:24 NIV)
August 13, 2009
I recently joined 13 fellow believers for a pot-luck dinner. At one time we had belonged to the same church, but today we attend five different local congregations. At the time of our separation from one another, it was somewhat painful. None of us wanted to leave the church we had in common, much less the fellowship we shared with one another. I suppose the Apostles and the 72 disciples (Luke 9:3, 10:1) may have had similar feelings as they were split up. I think my pot-luck group shares a bond with those in the early church who were sent out…you cannot be returned to one another with joy unless you’re first separated.
August 12, 2009
Recently two obituaries published in the paper on the same day caught my eye. Interestingly both deceased men, one 54 and the other 76, died of natural causes. I’m sure most of us believe we’ll die in that way…when we’re in our 90’s. Somehow dying at 54 years-old seems, well…un-natural. No doubt the warning, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come”, is just as applicable to our life on earth as it is to the Second Coming. (Matt 22:42 NIV)
August 11, 2009
My great-aunt Cleo fought going to the nursing home tooth and nail. While I was trying to encourage her by telling her God could still use her, she was telling God, ‘I’m useless, I’m ready to go to heaven and You’ve left me on earth long enough…I don’t understand why you won’t let me die’. It’s now been a month since Aunt Cleo took up permanent residence in the nursing home and all of a sudden life is worth living. It seems a fellow resident admired her strong faith and wanted a private conversation to see if Cleo could help her with her weak faith. The two of them visited for over an hour. Cleo said, “She’s elderly…well a couple years older than I am. I just hope and pray I said the right things; the things the Lord wants me to say.” Thinking that I needed to be praying for both of them, I asked Aunt Cleo the name of her new disciple. “Well, I’ve been calling her Doris, but I think others are using a different name. I need to find out who she is.” Hey I’m good with it, the name Doris works for me…besides, the Lord can sort it out.
August 10, 2009
When I enlisted in the Navy, boot camp for women was located at Bainbridge, Maryland. As new recruits, character building was an important and ever present element of our training. An impressive sign positioned over the entrance to the drill hall read, “Through These Portals Pass the Women of the Greatest Navy on Earth”. Every time we marched through those doors we were reminded of who we were. As believers it might be good to have a reminder over the doors of our churches that read, “Through These Portals Pass the Greatest Sinners on Earth”.
August 07, 2009
Because of health issues my sister has had to live with me for the last two years. I’ve prayed, hoped and kept my fingers crossed that the Spirit might somehow rub off on Shelly enough that she would come to the Lord. Strangely she got excited about the new church and made a personal investment in it by cleaning and working alongside believers as we prepared the facility for worship services. Without any prompting…or manipulation on my part, she began attending services the first Sunday in our new building. The last couple of weeks have seen Shelly’s health take a turn and she’s now in a nursing home deteriorating rapidly. The only functioning body of Christ she’s ever known is the five Sundays she’s worshiped with us. I’d like to think that some Gospel residue is sticking to her.
August 06, 2009
We all have friends and relatives who we suspect do not have a personal relationship with the Lord. Rather than our trying to witness to them through conversation, we often rely on the Holy Spirit to use our Christian life style to point them toward Christ. Not that talking to them couldn’t be productive. It just seems counterproductive to ask someone if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God knowing full well that they don’t even believe in God. Another reason I’m hesitant to ask someone if they believe that Jesus is the Christ is because I’m afraid of the answer...What if they say, “No”? I know this is skewed thinking, but somehow it seems that as long as a person doesn’t outright verbally deny Christ, then the Spirit still has an opportunity to work on them. Or maybe it’s that I really don’t want a loved one to confirm my suspicions that he’s forever lost…
August 05, 2009
I don’t have a green bone in my body and I attribute my lack of being politically correct to my formative years. I grew up with outdoor plumbing, taking turns bathing in used bath water and no nighttime heat in the Warm Morning stove because everyone was supposed to stay cozy in bed and under the covers. I’m not bothered by ecologists who warn against leaving a carbon footprint; I am however concerned that many of us seem to shy away from leaving a spiritual footprint. We are so busy trying to keep our faith and beliefs politically correct that we don’t even stir the dust…much less leave a footprint.
August 04, 2009
One thing TV crime dramas have in common is that the bad guy just doesn’t walk into a detective’s office and make a confession. Once he’s caught there’s a certain amount of interrogation, testimony, and verbal arm twisting that goes into getting him to admit his guilt. You’ve got to emphasize with the Holy Spirit. It takes a lot of time and effort to get the ‘good confession’ out of some of us.
August 03, 2009
Colorado Governor Ritter was one of the speakers at the funeral for our police officer who was shot in the line of duty. Speaking about all those who’ve sworn to serve and protect the Governor said, “The day after the Sgt. David Kinterknecht was killed, men and women across Colorado woke up, put on their uniform and went to work.” I think this same message is applicable for believers. We may be struggling, weary or grieving, but with each new day it’s the Lord’s desire that we get up, put on our armor and follow Him.