September 30, 2009
Many believers today are floating in and out of churches rather than putting down roots. Because of this transient nature I’ve started inviting people to come and just visit our church, whether or not they have a regular church home. It’s been interesting to note that some ‘older’ folks that I’ve invited have heard by through the grapevine that our church has more older folks than younger folks...in other words, they don’t want to attend a church full of old people. Good grief…from that perspective you’d think Christians come with an expiration date. I don’t think that Jesus would find this criteria acceptable for worshipping together.
September 29, 2009
I have an acquaintance who was meddling in my affairs. One day I happened to pick up the phone when she was calling to talk to someone else and flippantly she said, “Well Gail, have you forgiven me?” I was a little taken back because she hadn’t so much as apologized, much less asked for forgiveness so I said, “I’m thinking about it.” Actually, that wasn’t true. I hadn’t thought about forgiving her because I didn’t think she was done meddling. I know, I know. That’s no excuse. But with some people you just can’t help feeling that if you combine turning the other cheek with forgiving seventy-times-seven all you’re going to do is get whiplash.
September 28, 2009
I just got a new Bible and can’t do a thing with it. The pages all stick together in clumpy sections, there are no familiar handwritten notes in the margins and it doesn’t automatically open to favorite New Testament books. Since it’s a different translation, the Scripture is sometimes beautifully foreign to my mind. While I’m entrenched with the phraseology of my old Bible and not yet comfortable with the new one I catch myself comparing the two translations. It’s sort of like when Daylight Savings time comes around. For a week or so after the time change I keep asking myself, ‘Now what time is it, really?’
September 25, 2009
My cousin belongs to a Baptist church and one of the responsibilities of deacons is to call on members of the congregation. Laura has been her congregation for over 25 years and never had a deacon visit. When she mentioned this fact to her current deacon he said, “Oh, we’ve hired someone else to do that.” I have to admit that when I learned the church paid a retired pastor $400 a month to do all the calling I felt a twinge of indignation. Really, I don’t know why you’d want to be a deacon if you’re going to pay someone else to do your job. It didn’t take long before I had a ‘plank in the eye experience’. I was reminded that just a couple weeks ago I offered to buy the all ingredients for a potluck side-dish if one of the other ladies in the church would just please make the dish. I wound up making a dish myself…and I’m glad that I didn’t forfeit the rewards for my labor.
September 24, 2009
There is an old joke that says doctors are called practitioners because that’s what they’re doing…practicing medicine. As patients, we want our Physicians to leave medical school being proficient, not just practicing. I think it’s interesting that we have high expectations for professionals; however as believers we give little thought to one another when it comes to practicing the Word of God. As noted by Dr. Luke, Jesus however does have expectations for his followers, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21 NIV)
September 23, 2009
Last week former President Jimmy Carter stated that those who criticize President Obama do so because he is a black man. Carter played the race card to stop comments, however a guest commentator on a talk show trumped him by saying, “America doesn’t want a President that we can’t criticize.” Personally I’m weary of being told I must follow politically correct rules, but I’m also worried that those rules keep seeping into the church. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” …and against political correctness! (Eph 6:12 ESV)
September 22, 2009
I’m not much one for all the bling in today’s fashions, but the other day I found a pair of glitter encrusted silver shoes on sale so I bought them for my four year-old granddaughter. Lydia was thrilled with all the sparkles and had a hard time admiring her shoes and walking at the same time. She told her momma, “I think these are my new glass slippers. Now my tennis shoes will just be my white shoes.” I love that fairy godmother feeling. “If you then…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:11 ESV) God knows that feeling too…
September 21, 2009
A few years ago I bought a Steiff Teddy Bear at the Salvation Army for ten-cents. He was about 6 inches tall and had patches of hair rubbed off in a few places because he was so very well loved. I wasn’t emotionally attached to Teddy so I put him on EBay and he sold for $65.00. The little guy was worth way more than I imagined and you have to wonder what he’d have been worth if he’d been in good condition. Jesus said, “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:31 ESV) And to think, none of us are in the best condition…
September 18, 2009
It’s not unusual to see folks who are down on their luck standing on a highway median holding a cardboard sign that reads, “Will work for food…Need money for gas…Homeless, please help.” While I feel sorry about their circumstances, let me fess up and say that I don’t have an abundance of compassion for the situation. I blame my reservations on the stories of my Dad’s riding the rails and hobo wonderings. For some free spirits asking for a hand-out was preferable to holding down a job. Recently I saw a vagabond’s sign that stated, “Why lie…I need beer.” I like this guy’s honesty and wit…even if he doesn’t move my charitable heart strings.
September 17, 2009
The other day while walking I noticed a couple of doves sitting together on a telephone line. When one bird flew away a ripple ran through the line leaving the other bird struggling to keep his balance. While the bird on the wire was trying to get his bearings, another dove flew in and settling next to his teetering friend, stilled the swaying phone line. I don’t know about you, but occasionally I find myself spiritually unsteady…and it takes another believer to come along side to give me balance.
September 16, 2009
Often people will tell half-truths in order to justify their position. Sadly believers are not immune from embellishing half of a story, but sadder yet is that we let one another get away with it. Not too long ago I was at a dinner party with other believers, when some partial truth was given out. I felt that if I interjected the truth it would only make matters worse…and put a huge damper on dinner. I’m still kicking myself for keeping quiet. Obviously I need a refresher course on, “…be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2 ESV)
September 15, 2009
When ministers preach they will sometime use the caveat, “What it says in the original text is…” The preface sounds so benign that in my mind I thought they meant, ‘our Bibles are in agreement with the original text…but they aren’t using the same vocabulary.’ Boy was I wrong! Preachers are actually warning us that some of our Bible translations are NOT saying what the original text says. I’m grateful to ministers who bring us back to the original. However, if Sunday after Sunday the preacher has to ‘correct’ the text of my preferred Bible, then there is a loss of confidence in my translation and cause for concern. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 ESV)
September 14, 2009
Our church shares a common parking lot with a triplex Cinema movie theater. We’re pretty compatible as neighbors since our hours of service are so different. Offering information to the community, we both have large marquee signs in front of our respective establishments to tell about events and times. This week’s line up for the movies is: Sorority Row, Julie and Julia and Inglorious Basterds. Well now…I can see that Christ’s Church of the Valley is going to be continually challenged to come up with some creative counter-culture advertising. “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” Rev 13:10b ESV
September 11, 2009
I finally finished reading, ‘The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translations’ by Leland Ryken. I now have a better understanding of the different Bible translations available and what we, as readers, have gained and lost in the translation process. One of the more striking points made is the attempt to make Scripture uniform, standard and readable for all people. Translators have ‘flattened’ out the Word of God and many our Bibles now read like the daily newspaper. There is little for the reader to ponder or meditate upon when the text is in short sentences and everything is explained. I’ve used the NIV (1978) extensively for years; however Ryken’s book convinced me I needed to change. Last Sunday I used my new English Standard Version for the first time…oh my goodness. It’s like coming home to the King James Version…minus all the thees and thous.
September 10, 2009
When I was growing up the old Frances Crosby hymn, ‘Rescue the Perishing’ was a congregational favorite…well, maybe not a favorite, but we sang it often. “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;…” I used to think these lyrics were telling me it was my job to do the rescuing and Jesus’ job to do the saving. My stats aren’t very good when it comes to rescuing people who don’t want to be rescued. Actually, throwing out the life line has much less pressure. “Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline! Someone is sinking today.” (Edwin Ufford)
September 09, 2009
My sister Shelly has never met a prescription drug she didn’t like. Since she has lived with me for the last couple of years I’ve made it my mission to fight her drug usage…basically for her life, even if it meant fighting her. Sadly Shelly is now going through her third major bout with cancer in a nursing home and will be going under Hospice care this week. I’m handling her terminal diagnosis well because we’ve known the disease would return. However, one of the goals of Hospice is to keep the patient pain-free…medicated. And I’m not handling that well. Oxycodone, Vicodin and Percocet are the archenemy and it feels like they are getting ready do a victory dance. Scripture tells us to fight the good fight, stand firm, resist evil and don’t give up…I wish it also instructed us on how and when to stop the fight.
September 08, 2009
In an effort to reach out to school children there is a video that has actors giving their support the President and then encouraging our youth to make a pledge to serve Obama. I heard a great response from one commentator who pointed out, “When the President took the oath of office he pledged to serve us. We don’t pledge to serve him.” I think the Obama public relations team might learn something from Scripture, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:26-28 NIV)
September 07, 2009
September 04, 2009
Many years ago I belonged to our women’s group that was called The Guild. The name had existed for as long as I can remember and the title seemed, well…a little out of date. In order to refurbish and energize the group a few of us younger gals petitioned the older ladies for a name change. While the new name helped to better describe us as a group, it really didn’t change us, or our mission. The new title did however have a personal affect on some of our older ladies. In their eyes I’d hoped to see enthusiasm for the make-over, but what I saw a certain loss of identity. It was a good lesson for me and is one of the factors for my current resistance to name changes just for the sake of change…like changing Sunday School to Bible Fellowship or Worship to Celebration. What we gain is not always worth what we lose.
September 03, 2009
As a parent there is very little that can compare with knowing your children are believers. It has crossed my mind however that the spiritual burden for two children was really hard work and I’m glad I didn’t have more kids. I can’t grasp the responsibility the Apostles felt toward all their disciples...nor can I imagine their reward of joy. John says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”. (3 John 1:4 NIV)
September 02, 2009
The unfolding story of Jaycee Lee Dugard who was kidnapped and held as a slave for 18 years is unfathomable. I doubt that most of us will be prepared to hear the truth of this tragic story when it’s finally revealed. More than a few people are commenting that there’s a ‘special place in Hell’ for the likes of the captors. Isn’t it strange that some of us find comfort in thinking there are degrees of Hell. Though Hell was established by God, it’s the separation from God that makes it Hell. Sure makes one appreciate that our place in heaven is being prepared for us by Jesus…
September 01, 2009
Many years ago my husband and I purchased 300 paperback Kiamichi Favorite Songs and Hymns for our church. Every month or so on a Sunday evening we’d break out the books and folks picked their favorite old-time hymns to sing. During the 1990’s there were quite a few turnovers with ministers and one new youth minister took it upon himself to clean house by throwing all the books in the trash. Needless to say I was hurt, distraught and angry that this young man hadn’t bothered to ask anyone in the congregation if they wanted to keep the books or to even give them to another Christian group. Last Sunday evening we had our first sing-a-long in our new church and lo and behold there were the green covered Kiamichi books that we’re purchased over 20 years ago. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Unbeknownst to me, one box of the books had survived on a family’s storage shelf because every year they were being used for the church camping trip. I can so relate to the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin …Just as the parables say, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my Lost Kiamichi hymn books’. (Luke 15)