Helen, one of our older ladies has donated her extensive library to the church and we just completed a 19 foot bookshelf to accommodate all the books. We're going to catalog all the books she gives, but because she is such a student of the Word one thing we won’t need to do is scrutinize each book to make sure of its theological footing. However, this isn’t always the case with donated books. There are those who do judge a book by its cover and they sometimes give books to the church based on spiritual appearance, not on the content. In Paul’s day some new converts took it upon themselves to have a public book burning of inappropriate books that were once prominent on their library shelves…today we just send them to the landfill. (Acts 19:17-20)
December 30, 2009
Recently there was a letter-to-the-editor in the newspaper and the writer was complaining about the manhole covers in the streets. The pavement around some of holes slopes into the covers, so when you drive across them your shock absorbers get a little exercise. It’s not like you’re hitting a pothole, but there is a bit of a jar. I find it interesting that the gentleman wants to make an issue out of level manholes. Most of us who are familiar with the road usually straddle them, drive around them or just take the bump in stride. It sort of reminds me of the highway to heaven. Most of us would like for the path to be smooth, without obstacles or pitfalls. However the reality is that the road is narrow and believers must learn to be defensive drivers.
December 29, 2009
It’s reported that a Priest in northern England during his Sunday sermon condoned shoplifting for people who are desperate…as long as they steal from a national chain, rather than a family owned business. The Rev Tim Jones says he doesn’t regret what he said from the pulpit, he just regrets that the media is focusing on the shoplifting and not on the underlying problem, i.e. homelessness and unemployment. This guy obviously needs to go back to the basics, like Ten Commandments 101…‘thou shalt not steal’. As a spiritual leader this Priest is held to a higher standard than others, but the truth is many of us are just as guilty of worming our way around Scripture. In attempting to justify our actions we deceive ourselves by creating loopholes in the Word.
December 28, 2009
Steve Corey posts comments on the blog and I’m always amazed at his in-depth response. I have to admit that I’ve often wondered, ‘Where and how does he come up with so many different facets to something that I think of as being just a simple observation? Do his thoughts from many years of study just float around in his head and when he needs to write them down they just spill out?’ Well, I recently learned Steve’s secret...and I’m so relieved. Using the blog for his daily devotion time, he makes it an opportunity to dig into the Word to fully understand what the Bible says on the topic of the day. Who would have thought that even in our devotional time there’s opportunity to go the extra mile?
December 25, 2009
The shepherds spread the word concerning what they had been told about the child and, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” We too treasure these things and ponder them in our hearts, “…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1-29 ESV)
December 24, 2009
My Great Aunt Cleo just passed away from a heart attack and I am REJOICING for her! A strong willed, card-carrying American Baptist her whole life, she spoke her mind to everyone - including the Lord. She’s always said, “They may not like what I have to say, but at least they’ll know what I think.” These last few years Cleo has been unhappy with the Lord because she’d made up her mind she was ready to go to heaven and He wasn’t cooperating. Having to go into an assisted living facility it was like the last straw. She refused to use a walker and much to her disappointment when she fell all she got was a few bruises. I really think she was just trying to give the Lord a hand…you break a hip, go to the hospital…and then you die. Right now I can picture Aunt Cleo bending the Lord’s ear wanting to know why it took Him so long to bring her home and the Lord saying, “Patience Cleo, you needed patience.”
December 23, 2009
Last Sunday at the end of the worship service a woman came forward to place her membership with the church. In a quick side bar conversation with the preacher, she was asked if she were an immersed believer. Affirming that she was, he then asked her to repeat the good confession, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” I appreciate these steps taken by the pastor. Many folks today want to be accepted as a believer by simply saying, ‘I’m a spiritual person…I have faith…’ Lydia, a seller of purple and a worshipper of God, listened to Paul preach and her heart was opened. After she and members of her household were baptized she said to Paul, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” (Acts 16:15b NIV) I feel Lydia’s story delineates the difference between being a worshipper of God and a believer in the Lord.
December 22, 2009
The 19th season of Survivor just ended and one contestant was consumed with the game. Russell H. dubbed himself the greatest player ever to play the game. He lied, cheated and manipulated…and came in second place. Obviously the jury, consisting of players previously eliminated from the game, didn’t share Russell’s opinion of his greatness. So distraught at loosing the title of Sole Survivor, Russell even offered winner Natalie $10,000 if she would sell him her title. Sort of reminds me Simon the Sorcerer who boasted that he was someone great. He become a believer, was baptized and then tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter and John. After being chastised for his wickedness, Simon came to his senses…I think he realized the need for becoming a Soul Survivor.
December 21, 2009
This year my four year-old Granddaughter put Jesus on her Christmas list. Her mother explained to her that she didn’t need to actually buy something for Jesus, but that even giving someone a drink of cold water could be similar to giving Jesus a present. Armed with her own money and her shopping list, I took Lydia to the dollar store. She picked out a roll of painter’s masking tape for her Daddy, iced animal cookies for 86 year-old Great-grandmother Ruth and a wine glass for Granddad. I thought we’d completed our shopping when Lydia informed me there was still one more, she still had to get something for Jesus. When I tried to reason with her she simply said, “Hmmm. We need to find the stuff for boys.” A shoe shine kit really took her fancy, and it took a little convincing on my part that Jesus didn’t shine his sandals. She finally decided that something in the food isle might work, because Jesus did feed people. The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh…Lydia’s Spaghettio’s should fit right in.
December 18, 2009
Our state voted to approve the use of medical marijuana and now unregulated dispensaries are springing up all over the place. A couple days ago I heard a legislator say, “The people have spoken. Now it’s our job to figure out [the] legislation to carry out the will of the people.” Voters feel it’s a good thing for our leaders to respond to the demands of the people, but not always. “Build us a golden calf…Let’s build a tower that reaches to the heavens… Give us Barabbas”. We can point fingers at a person or group for the national situations we find ourselves in, but really the one to blame is the will of the people.
December 17, 2009
Because the authorities feel that all hope of survival is gone, the search for two lost hikers on Mount Hood has been called off. I have a mental picture of God searching for us and I take comfort in knowing that He would not suspend the search. God is not the only one who searches however. Scripture also obligates us to be the ones to search for the Lord, as David charged Solomon, “If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9b ESV) How often are we guilty of calling off the search?
December 16, 2009
There are differing opinions about the upcoming Census, but despite the controversy, it will take place. USA Today has an article about the efforts to get the Latino population (legal and illegal) to participate in the 2010 Census. The promotion tells the Christmas story from the book of Luke and the message on the posters reads, “This is how Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph participated in the Census.” No doubt the message of the Census will be strengthened by tying it to birth of Jesus. You have to admit that this is a clever way for the Lord to show His presence. Who would have thought of using the 2010 Census to spread the Gospel?
December 15, 2009
When it came to eating a T-bone steak my dad’s motto was always, ‘If you eat the best first, then you’ll always be eating the best’. My dad was a worldly man with a selfish attitude. However I think his philosophy can work when we’re giving to the Lord. If we start by giving the Lord the very best we have, anything more will still be the best we have to give.
December 14, 2009
Lately I’ve been skimming a book titled Do-It-Yourself Advertising. One section states, “Practically no one buys anything solely because of its features – it’s the benefits that sell.” The example the author gives is that you shouldn’t advertise, ‘the world’s best seeds,’ but rather, ‘the world’s best lawn!’ I think I see some spiritual application that can be made. In the world we live today, they would have us consider Jesus based on his features, such as being a teacher, a prophet and the son of Mary. What the world doesn’t was us to promote is the benefit that Jesus is to each of us personally.
December 11, 2009
Last night ABC Nightly News had a segment on faith. The crux of the reporting revealed that when it comes to religion, Americans want a smorgass board to choose from. For instance people are blending yoga and astrology in with their mainline theology. One woman interviewed considers herself a Catholic, however she regularly attends protestant churches, ‘because God is bigger than one denomination’. This certainly brings home the point that Jesus makes when he says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21 ESV)
December 10, 2009
Worldly Conduct The other day a friend critiqued the actions of another fellow saying, “And he calls himself a Christian...” Apparently my friend has a mental check-off list for Christians and in his evaluation, this fellow came up short. There wasn’t any point in trying to defend this guy, or to tell my friend that he misjudged. I did however find consolation from Paul, “Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world… in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.” (2 Cor 1:12 NIV)
December 09, 2009
With all the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, evangelism is probably the last thing on our minds. I would hope that I don’t overlook a ministering opportunity if it comes my way, but the reality is that I’ve never gathered up my family for a trip to the mall saying, ‘Let’s look around…maybe we’ll run into someone we can share about the Lord with.’ Paul tells Timothy to, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching…” (2 Tim 4:2 ESV) Maybe I should put the Lord’s name at the top of the shopping list as a reminder that any season is the season.
December 08, 2009
In promoting his new book Grow Your Church from the Outside In, George Barna states that it’s unethical to steal people from other congregations. Personally, I’m not sure we can actually steal members from one another, but if we could, would it really be unethical? I think Mr. Barna’s comment smacks of applying political correctness to the body of Christ, in other words, if you invite those of a different denomination to you church you are labeled unethical. I don’t think so. The disciples of John the Baptist weren’t thinking ethics when they went to ask Jesus, “…Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Lk 7:22b ESV)
December 07, 2009
What mother at the end of her rope hasn’t uttered the phrase, ‘You just wait until your father gets home.’? Deep within exasperated hearts we want the disobedient child to experience fear and dread, and then to receive the punishment they deserve. Sometime we have similar thoughts about one another’s spiritual disobedience. We may get so exasperated with a wayward brother that we anticipate their penitence, repentance and yes, admonishment. It’s interesting that we all seem to forget that our Father is always home…
December 04, 2009
Occasionally I’ll leave a conversation regretting that I wasn’t as convincing as I could have been. Maybe my witness seemed vague, that I didn’t speak clearly or I just stumbled and fumbled for the words I wanted to use. We’re told to, “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1Peter 3:15b ESV) In trying to make a good defense, I think I fall into the habit of trying to tell others who Christ is to me, rather than just telling people who Christ is. No doubt I’m making this harder than it needs to be. The answer may simply be to quote Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:16 ESV)
December 03, 2009
Most of us do not live our lives day to day. Sometimes our plans, appointments and dreams are scheduled years in advance. I just flipped my calendar over to December and saw that my sister Shelly has an appointment with the pulmonary doctor on Dec. 7th. Since she passed away on October 27th, I called and left a message on the doctor’s answering machine that Shelly won’t be making the appointment. It was strange making the cancellation and it brought to mind the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). His land produced such a good crop that he decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones…All for the purpose of having plenty laid up for many years so that he could, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” The man died while making his grandiose plans. I can sympathize with his family having to cancel meetings with the developer, the realtor and the city planning department.
December 02, 2009
I picture Dorcas as a faithful servant, albeit older, tired and weary. Not only was she was always doing good and helping the poor, but she took great care with the widows in her community making them clothes and robes. One day Dorcas became sick and died. I find it interesting that it wasn’t until after her body was prepared for viewing (washed and placed in an upstairs room) that someone got the idea to send for Peter and urge him to “Please come at once!” When Peter arrived he sent everyone out of the room, got down on his knees and prayed. Telling Dorcas to “Get Up”, she opened her eyes, sat up and Peter then presented her back to her friends alive. Because Dorcas was brought back to life many people believed in the Lord. This is a good thing, but I can’t help but wonder if Dorcas herself wanted to come back. Do you think she might have had a DO NOT RESUSCITATE order on file? (Acts 9:36)
December 01, 2009
As a means of encouragement we hear believers tell one another ‘Don’t worry. God will not put more on you than you can bear’. I think the Scripture they are trying to use as a comforter comes from 1st Corinthians. The problem is that this verse is about being able to bear temptation, not about being able to bear burdens. “…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…” (1 Cor 10:13b NIV) It seems to me that God does in fact give us burdens we cannot carry. Honestly, if we were capable of doing all the heavy lifting of our own burdens there would be no reason to seek the Lord’s help.