November 30, 2009
As a little girl my Grandma would look through the Sears & Roebucks sales catalog and show her daddy things the family could save money on if they would just place an order. Impoverished, Granddad Reed always responded, “Honey…they’ll always be another sale.” Personally I’m more of a ‘needs-shopper’, but I’ve noticed that this year the economists and the government are trying to make me feel guilty for not doing my part to bolster the economy. But I have to say I’m really not in need and Jesus is right, “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt 6:8 ESV)
November 27, 2009
I just watched a TV program on cats where the expert discussed different breeds and their characteristics. I found it interesting that when you bring a kitten into your home there is only a short time where they are open-minded. It’s during this window of opportunity that they are moldable and they should be introduced to children, dogs, etc. I see some similarity between kittens and children. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14 ESV) I know it’s not impossible for an adult or a mature cat to be open-minded…but they are rare creatures.
November 26, 2009
I need this Thanksgiving reminder. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1Tim 2:1 NIV) Interestingly, this was written by Paul when the notorious Roman emperor Nero was in power.
November 25, 2009
Being well organized and usually over-prepared for most situations, I can picture myself as being one of the five wise women in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. That is until it comes to the point in the story where the foolish women ask me to share my oil because their lamps are going out. Rather than sending these clueless girls to town to buy more oil for themselves, I’d probably be saying, “OK, let’s share.” Isn’t that the way many of us are when it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven. We want everyone to go to the wedding banquet so we think sharing our oil with them will somehow make them prepared for the Bridegroom. This is one of those times when we are released from the charge of ‘do unto others…’
November 24, 2009
There is an interesting cost to evangelism. Bringing others into the church means we also have to be on guard against the secular baggage that comes with them. Even our elders and deacons can sometimes get a little paranoid as they try to protect the flock from false teachers and leaders. I recently read an article about atheist groups on college campuses that are running into a similar problem. Victor Stenger, an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado said, "The trouble is, any time you start working with other groups, religion starts coming in. People bring up Jesus…” I find it strangely satisfying to know that atheists have to work at trying to keep the Lord out of their gatherings.
November 23, 2009
Because it was once a restaurant and bar, the interior of our church is pretty non-traditional. Probably the best way to describe it is to say it has the ‘feel’ of a lodge. However the woodsy paraphernalia hanging on the walls and displayed on shelves are now sharing space with a few Christian symbols and art work. The décor really is very eclectic. High up in the foyer there is a large wooden cross spray painted gold and illuminated by a spotlight. The arms of the cross are cloaked and draped with a purple swath of cloth. Looking up at the cross my four year old granddaughter Lydia said, “Look…that cross looks like a Super Hero Cross!” Well…yes it does.
November 20, 2009
There are many people who want nothing to do with the Lord…until they find themselves in a desperate situation. I think it’s interesting that these people refuse to have a personal relationship with the Lord, but yet they look to people of faith and ask for prayer support. While it’s a compliment when someone turns to you because you are a believer, it’s also sad knowing that they themselves have a tentative relationship with the Lord. I know that our prayers on their behalf are important, but I can’t help thinking how much better off they would be if they were seated at the Master’s table rather than just settling for crumbs. (Matt 15:21-28).
November 19, 2009
Last week I was in a public arena and started to interject something about the Lord when I was bitten by the PC Bug. I choked back my comments and made them ‘acceptable’ to anyone and everyone who might be in the audience…and I’ve been repenting ever since. What I find especially aggravating is that in hind sight, I doubt if anyone in attendance would have called me on the carpet for bringing the Lord into the conversation. I know I’m not alone. Many of us are so victimized and traumatized by the media that the spirit of the PC police doesn’t even have to be present for us to cave under perceived pressure.
November 18, 2009
My sister Shelly passed away a couple weeks ago and we’re trying to re-adjust to life minus the care-giving responsibilities. Even though Bill mentally deleted Shelly from our evening prayer list, occasionally her name will just pop out…and we laugh. It’s as though she’s retaining her place on the list even though she’s no longer in need of prayer. In time, all those who have passed on come to mind less frequently. Eventually they will be remembered no more, unless of course their last name da Vinci. Jesus made sure we would not only remember Him with the Lord ’s Supper, but that we would also proclaim his death until He returns.
November 17, 2009
Sometimes a music leader will introduce a new song to the congregation and it takes a few weeks of singing the same song over and over before we can really sing with confidence. There are some praise songs that, for whatever reason, I just don’t do well with and I need more practice. When the Lamb returns, we’ll have a new song to sing before the throne. “No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.” (Rev 14: 3 ESV) I’m really hoping God has set aside some practice time for us.
November 16, 2009
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he gave them a sample prayer - The Lord’s Prayer. Even today this prayer plays a role in the believer’s life, although we are more likely to recite it in unison as a congregation than we are to use it as a personal prayer. No doubt when some of Jesus’ followers stood at the foot of the cross they were at a loss for words. I wonder if perhaps in their time of grief they turned to this prayer, which seems to me, very prophetic. “…Father…Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…deliver us from evil.” (Matt 6: 9-13 ESV)
November 13, 2009
Speaking as a Veteran I appreciate the recognition that comes with Veteran’s Day, which was November 11th. It may be because of the recent tragedy and loss of life at Fort Hood, but I found this year to be especially meaningful as friends and strangers alike made more of an effort to personally say, ‘Thank you for your service to America.’ Perhaps we in the church should consider doing something similar. It might be interesting to greet other believers, especially those outside of our own denomination, with, ‘Thank you for your service to the Kingdom’.
November 12, 2009
We all know who the thief on the cross was, but I’m not sure we can say he was a thief. Scripture describes him and the other man crucified with Jesus, simply as criminals. We can’t call him by name, but the criminal who feared God said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 ESV) That day Jesus granted his request and took him to Paradise. Because he was a changed man I can’t see Jesus saying to the saints in heaven, ‘Let me introduce you to my friend the thief on the cross.’ Thankfully when we get to heaven we won’t be known by our sins either.
November 11, 2009
Apparently the teachers of the law were unaware that Jesus could hear the language of their hearts. When they saw Jesus healing a paralytic and telling the man that his sins were forgiven, they questioned in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7 ESV) We know that the Lord has the authority to forgive sin and while we can’t, we still have the obligation to forgive each other…“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15 NIV) Most of us work hard on forgiving others…but I dare say we give little thought to those who have forgiven us.
November 10, 2009
Court ordered attorneys are often called upon to defend criminals who've committed unspeakable acts. I suppose some of these lawyers turn their defense into a mental game where the only thing important at the end of the day is the win/loss column. I really don't understand defending the indefensible, even if you are ordered to do so by the court. Unless you were on a debate team, or just loved playing the role of an antagonist, how do you defend someone you believe to be guilty? And then there is Jesus, who defends us in spite of all the unspeakable acts we've committed...our court appointed Attorney.
November 09, 2009
When a child makes a mistake for which there is no excuse an adult will often say, ‘You know better than that.’ That same thought crosses my mind when I learn of a believer who has abandoned the faith. It’s difficult to see someone turn away from the Lord and personally, I just want to understand how they got off track. I want there to be an explanation, a reason or an excuse. I don’t want to think that they are willfully turning away and yet Paul says there is no excuse, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him… Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (Ro 1:21, 28 NIV)
November 06, 2009
I’m still wrestling with the Parable of the Prodigal Son because of a book titled The Cross and the Prodigal – Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, by Kenneth E. Bailey. The author maintains there are two types of sin shown in the parable. “One is the sin of the law-breaker and the other is the sin of the law-keeper.” In my legalistic mind I know that no one is capable of fully keeping the law, but I’m not ready to hear that there can be sin in attempting to keep the law. For me, keeping God’s commands is an act of obedience and Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commands. Translation: I’m showing love to the Lord when I obediently keep the His commands and sin is just not part of the equation. Mr. Bailey thinks otherwise, “Each son returns to the father either defining (the older son) or intending to define (the prodigal) his relationship to the father as that of a servant before a master. The father will not accept this definition. He offers costly love to each, out of his determination to have sons responding to love rather than merely servants obeying commands.”
November 05, 2009
Our church has been established for a little over a year and a half and we have a terrific, yet unpaid, preaching elder. Gary has opted to take Fridays off from his ‘real’ job in order to prepare the sermon and many of us struggle with the fact that the church is not yet in a position to pay him a salary. Gary however is content and dedicated to current situation…and he’s in good company. Paul, Silas and Timothy also had day jobs while they ministered to the Thessalonians. “…we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.” (2 Thess 3:8b–9 NIV)
November 04, 2009
Before my sister Shelly passed away she told the pastor that she knew Jesus was the Son of God and that all of us are sinners. However, she also told him, “We don’t agree with each other on baptism.” Shelly’s not alone, many people argue that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation and they avoid looking at baptism as an act of obedience. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 ESV) Personally I want all that the Lord can give me, whether in this life or the next. I can’t imagine wanting ‘just’ salvation. I have to wonder if folks who refuse and reject baptism are in essence forfeiting the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (that indwelling presence of the Spirit) while on earth.
November 03, 2009
I needed to drop off some papers at a local business and although I’d never been to the office, I’d seen the owner come and go, so I knew where the business was located. The first time I went to the office a quizzical look crossed the faces of a couple of the staff, but on my second visit a week or so later the secretary politely directed me to the waiting room reception area at the 'front' of the office building. I felt a little sheepish and embarrassed. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1ESV) I know a few people who seem oblivious about the tactics and means they are using to get into the sheepfold…I’m thinking they’re in for a real surprise when they’re shown The Door.
November 02, 2009
The other night a young man on the phone ask me to do a survey on environmental issues. Even though I don’t have a green bone in my body, I agreed to answer his questions. He began by asking what year I was born and I told him 1948. “Oh, I’m sorry.” he said, “But, we’ve already filled that year’s quota.” I choked back some of my incredulous laughter…which I’m certain was totally wasted on the kid. The conversation brought to my mind Rehoboam. When the elders who had faithfully served his father Solomon didn’t give Rehoboam the answer he wanted, he simply turned to the young men he’d grown up with. (I Kings 12:1-15) Believers too can be caught up in going from one person to another until we get the answer we want.