December 31, 2010
In their recap of 2010 some media outlets are describing this as the year to forget. They cite the tanked economy, the east coast blizzard and the oil unleashed in the gulf coast. It would be easy to jump on that train of thought, but I think the Lord looks at it differently. Assuming we believers have been doing our job, then the Gospel has spread, souls have been saved and Christ has been glorified. It doesn’t get any better than that. May 2011 become another successful year for the Kingdom of God on earth.
December 30, 2010
The subject of tongues can cause as much debate today as it did when Paul was talking to the church at Corinth. As one member of our Sunday School class put it, “We all come together having grown up with different denominational veils that cover our understanding.” Believers are often guilty of trying to be PC and getting around conflict in fellowship by avoiding those Scriptures we think leads to conflict, such as the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit. We can grieve the Spirit with unwholesome talk, but I’m wondering if He’s not also grieved by our neglect in teaching about Him for fear of confrontation and division. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30 NIV)
December 29, 2010
The Cora Indians fellowshipped with us for over a year and one Sunday the pastor was prepared to baptize a man and his wife. However, just prior to taking their confession of faith the preacher learned that the man and woman were not married, but living together. Rebounding quickly he explained privately through the interpreter that if they were going to live as man and wife they needed to be married before he could take their statement of faith and baptize them into the Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking to the congregation the pastor simply said, “This morning we have the opportunity to share in the joy of two celebrations!” In a matter of 20 minutes we witnessed the I do’s of marriage followed by the I do’s of baptism.
December 28, 2010
In Sunday School our lessons have been on the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit and of course talking in tongues is part of the discussion. I’m reminded of a time in our previous church when a bilingual member wanted to reach out to the Cora Indians (from Mexico) who were living in our valley. The Indians spoke Cora, with Spanish as a second language and Eva the interpreter spoke Spanish with English as a second language. Our services did get a little distracting and to a visitor it may have sounded like there was some talking in tongues going on. The reality was that the gospel was presented in English, interpreted/repeated audibly in Spanish and then (we hope) reasoned out mentally by the Cora in their native language.
December 27, 2010
I have an internal motto that says, ‘If you’re not early, you’re late’ and I make it a point to arrive at a scheduled event at least 10-15 minutes early. Part of my comfort level is giving time for the unexpected and avoiding surprises. I can see how someone of my character might be a frustration, not only to others, but also to the Spirit. The Spirit loves to wow us with last minute-miracles, but I like my miracles to unfold slowly with no surprises.
December 24, 2010
I’m thinking of a young Mary in her teens on the eve of her firstborn child. Miles away from her support system with only her husband Joseph (as far as we know) to serve as a mid-wife. This first Christmas Eve must have brought as much uncertainty as did the angel’s visit nine months earlier. Today believers have the promise of the spiritual indwelling Holy Spirit, but Mary was entrusted with his most precious gift…the physical indwelling presence of God.
December 23, 2010
My cousin is driving to California, determined to be there in time for Christmas. Considering the current flooding in southern California, the phrase ‘come hell or high water’ comes to mind. We really are creatures of chance. It’s one thing to suffer the physical consequences of determination, but I cringe when I recall times of misguided spiritual determination. Sometimes we’re not far removed from the high-water folks of Noah’s day.
December 22, 2010
In mega churches we have specialized job descriptions for ministers, but in smaller congregations we expect preachers to be well rounded and multitalented. They preach, make hospital rounds and lead singing. Even among ministry volunteers we see people serving in multiple areas. I find it interesting that Paul says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” (1Cor 1:17 NIV) I think there is a lesson in here for those of us who get over extended in trying to do everything and be everywhere. We just need to figure out what it is that Christ sent us to do.
December 21, 2010
I’ve come to the conclusion that dieting is like doing battle with Satan. This last month I’ve been committed to losing weight and I found I have to stay away, turn away and run away from situations that would lead me astray. For the most part people understand when I tell them ‘no thanks, I’m avoiding calories’. Too bad we aren’t as understanding with one another when we’re trying to avoid sinning.
December 20, 2010
I asked a dear friend if she were ready for Christmas she said, “Yes, I’ve been good this year, but I don’t know if you have.” Well now. Not quite what I expected in Sunday fellowship chit-chat. She then gave me a list of three political issues where she thought I was remiss in my decisions. Thankfully she was open-minded and let me give her additional information which included data, examples and a more complete picture. At one time or another we’ve all been tripped up by not having all the facts, even as it pertains to our Christian life. A good example for me is a Jew named Apollos. He was learned, had a thorough knowledge of the Scripture and he taught about Jesus accurately - and yet, he still had only partial understanding, “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Acts 18:26 NIV) Regardless of how mature I am in the Word, I must learn to be receptive to those who can explain the way of God more adequately.
December 17, 2010
I have a friend with multiple health problems, including diabetes. He is a large man and has refused to change his diet saying, “I like meat and potatoes and I don’t care what the doctor says, I’m going to eat whatever I want to eat.” My friend called me telling me he was hospitalized last weekend with a significant heart attack. Although I’m concerned, I’m not surprised. There’s that part of me that thinks, ‘You really have brought this on yourself’. I’ve known people who are in a similar boat spiritually, but my feelings are different. I suppose it’s because of the eternal consequences involved. If an unbeliever were on his death bed I would have a hard time thinking, ‘You really have brought this on yourself.'
December 16, 2010
Yesterday afternoon got stranded in a snowstorm when I-70 was closed in both directions because of road conditions, visibility and accidents. The traffic was bumper to bumper, but eventually I crept up to an ‘emergency only exit’ where I could turn around and go back to Silverthorne and get a room. For three hours I watched from the hotel room window as ribbons of car lights sat motionless. While I rejoiced at my own safety, I sympathized with those still caught in the grip of the situation. I’m reminded of loved ones stranded in the grip of the world and sometimes all we can do is watch from a distance.
December 15, 2010
One thing obvious to me when I go to the fitness center is that all of us are not there for the same reason. Some want to get in shape, others to stay in shape and then those who want to reshape themselves. When you think of it, many believers have a similar motivation when it comes to their Christian walk. As a young believer I went to the Word to get in shape spiritually, then I had to continue to study to stay in shape and now there is the reshaping and striving for conformity of Christ’s likeness. I’ve noticed that lack of exercise, whether physical or spiritual, sends me back to trying to get into shape.
December 14, 2010
There’s just something about being able to say you were part of something from the beginning. Whether it’s planting a church or having a relative come over on the Mayflower. No doubt there was satisfaction for the Apostles at being the first disciples and pride felt by those being in attendance at Pentecost. I can’t imagine the pleasure that the Holy Spirit receives with each new believer since He dwells within each of us from the beginning of our new life in Christ. “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 NIV)
December 13, 2010
I try to be patient waiting for the Lord to respond to a prayer need, but there are times I’d like to put a footnote on a prayer saying, ‘Please respond within 48 hours’. I know God hears and answers prayer, but it never occurred to me that His answer to a prayer might be hindered by a force of evil. Daniel 10:1-14 records that God heard Daniel from the moment he began to pray and an angel was dispatched. However the angel was detained for 21 days by a mighty demon. It was only with the help of Michael the archangel that the angel sent to Daniel could resume his mission. I don’t know about you, but in this generation of instant everything, a possible 21 day delay is a little disconcerting.
December 10, 2010
Every year I take my grandkids to the dollar store to do their Christmas shopping. Lydia always puts Jesus on her Christmas list and this year He got a bag of Teddy Bear cookies, which will later be taken to the local food bank. We wrapped the gifts and Lydia wrote the name tags for each one, until it came to Teddy Bear cookies. With five year-old wisdom Lydia said, “Jesus already knows these are His cookies. He knows everything…even everything in our heart.” I guess it is a little hard to surprise the Lord with a gift.
December 09, 2010
This summer we resided our house with rusted corrugated steel and installed new windows and doors. Finding a better rate for homeowners insurance, we changed to a different company, but last week they sent us a cancellation notice citing that the exterior of the house was rusted aluminum and the house not well maintained. It was interesting trying to tell the Florida representative that 1.) Not only is the siding not aluminum, but aluminum doesn’t rust 2.) It is new siding and 3.) The rustic look was intentional and well suited for Colorado. I’m reminded of seeing an octogenarian being baptized into Christ…even though they come out of the water a new creation, they still have that lived in look.
December 08, 2010
It’s not unusual for someone to want to comment on my blog for the mere purpose of advertising their own blog by asking me to link their site to the Christian Ear. A recent writer was blogging about her “new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real…” I think I can rule out committed Christians that would want to blog with the woman, but there’s probably a kindred spirit out there somewhere who will listen to her ‘new post-religion faith’. While in Athens Paul was taken to the Areopagus. “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” (Acts 17:21 NIV)
December 07, 2010
The woman at the well was evasive when she told Jesus she didn’t have a husband - which was true. However her past showed that she had had five husbands and a current line-in. Certainly Scripture cautions us about divorce and tells us that living together out of wedlock is immoral, whether in the culture of that day or today. I must admit that I’ve always heaped extra judgment on the woman for making such poor choices in men. Recently while visiting with a woman who has had multiple marriages I learned that two marriages ended because of both husband’s infidelity and one marriage ended because her spouse died. It jumped out at me that I might owe the woman at the well an apology. (John 4:1-26 NIV)
December 06, 2010
There’s a series of cliffs in western Colorado that are called Book Cliffs. What comes to my mind when I look at these flat-top mountains is a table draped with a tablecloth which forms a scalloped skirt on the bottom. All these years I never could see the books, however the other day I thought that maybe they were stacked horizontally, so that the cliffs resemble various layers of pages. I finally went to the internet and learned that the cliffs are similar to a shelf where books are placed vertically. I’m reminded of Jesus speaking in parables about Spiritual dullness, “This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” (Matt 13:13 NIV) I’m thinking I might have had my eyes opened sooner if these cliffs had been named something like Vertical Book Cliffs.
December 03, 2010
Time will tell how much damage has been done to American diplomacy by the recent information released on Wikileaks, however I think some good can come out of this situation. I’m wondering if these embarrassing revelations will force America to break free from some of the political correctness that now holds us captive. Today we can’t call a scoundrel a scoundrel or expose evil as evil because it’s not PC. Biblically speaking we are warned that everything will have its day in the light. Jesus said, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17 NIV)
December 02, 2010
Some people have a ‘bucket list’ – a list of items they want to do before they kick the bucket. Many lists contain things like taking a trip, climbing a mountain or running a marathon. I feel certain many people would not put an item on their bucket list that pertains to the Kingdom of God. When we stand before God, our work “…will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Cor 3:13 NIV) No doubt a lot of lists will be going up in flames.
December 01, 2010
The current political talk is all about the lame duck session and whether or not anything will be accomplished in Congress. Actually we believers can fall into the same scenario as we get older. We get burned out in ministry and just want to bide our time until our committee term expires. Or our participation in meetings slacks off because we know new faces will soon be taking over. Maybe we’re set in our ways and don’t want to compromise and cooperate with a new direction. Certainly there are some saints who serve and minister for the Kingdom up to the point of death - and then there are some who are lame ducks.
November 30, 2010
Around the end of the year many blood banks have a shortage of blood because donors seem to take a holiday of sorts from their regular donating. During a recent request for donors a doctor described donated blood as a ‘gift of life’. For the believer the donated blood of Christ truly is the Gift of Life. "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Heb 9:14 NIV)
November 29, 2010
The mothers of two young graffiti artist who used my newly poured cement driveway as their canvas are interesting opposites. One mother immediately brought her daughter to meet me and have the daughter apologize. I talked to the other mother on the phone and she said that she too would be bringing her daughter back to apologize…but she didn’t. In the Parable of the Two Sons a father asked his sons to go work in the vineyard. The first son said, “I will not,” but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (Matt 21:28-32 NIV)
November 26, 2010
Six-year old Lydia had a hard time settling down for bed and kept coming up with excuses for getting mom or dad to come to her bedroom. After the third call her mom took her time going into the bedroom where she found Lydia sobbing. Finally able to choke back tears Lydia said, “I forgot what I wanted to tell you!” I can so relate to Lydia’s frustration. After signing off my prayers with ‘Amen’, I often have to reopen communication with God saying, ‘I forgot what I wanted to tell you!’ “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." (Psalm 17:6 NIV)
November 25, 2010
The world has a way of redirecting our holidays and Thanksgiving has not been spared. According to Webster’s, thanksgiving is, “the act of giving thanks, a prayer expressing gratitude, a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness – Thanksgiving Day. Example: They sang a hymn of thanksgiving.” The world today would have us emphasize the ‘giving’, rather than the ‘thanks’. We are encouraged to fill community pantries, donate to soup kitchens and help fill a box of groceries for a family in need. Those are all commendable actions, but by our donating to a cause we, rather than God, become the ones getting thanked. God needs to hear our thanksgiving for what we ourselves have received.
November 24, 2010
We have a local military Honor Guard who performs duties associated with Veteran’s funerals. The Sergeant responsible for the services recently told me that his father passed away this year and now memorial services are more difficult emotionally as he can’t help but think about his dad. I was reminded of those responsible for crucifixions and the duties of putting men on the cross and then removing the bodies…especially the impact to those who physically participated in the crucifixion of Jesus.
November 23, 2010
Our City is a home rule municipality with a Council-Manager form of government. The Council members are elected officials who set policy. The City Manager is hired to administratively carry out the policy set by the Council. However, there are times when the line is blurred. Every once in a while the policy setters slip into micromanaging and try to give instructions on how to carry out policy. We Christians do something similar when we forget that God is the Policy Maker. Believers, as well as Jesus, are charged with carrying out policy. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 NIV)
November 22, 2010
I like this quote from Winston Churchill, “Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics - many times.” Those of us living on the religious landscape can also look back on our lives and remember feeling spiritually killed on more than a few occasions. For many, a church split qualifies as a near death experience. Even though it sometimes feels like it, we really don’t die spiritually, however there is a lot of walking wounded in our midst. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28 NIV)
November 19, 2010
Confessing sins doesn’t come naturally. Most of us can eventually bring ourselves to confess to the Lord, to our spouse, or to a parent. However, we’re definitely resistant to James’ instruction, “…confess your sins to each other.” (James 5:16 NIV) Not only do we not readily confess to one another, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked to hear the confession of another. Our Catholic friends may have a certain level of comfort in that they can have confession in a box, but I have to give them credit, at least they have made an attempt to highlight the need for confession.
November 18, 2010
The NIV footnote on Luke 10:31-33 states that the Jews viewed the Samaritans as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. Today’s PC Police (Politically Correct) would be indignant at using such a physical description, but I doubt they’d object to its use to describe spiritually. I tried to think who might fall into the category of a spiritual half-breed – someone who mixed Christianity with New Age, someone who obeys only selected parts of Scripture, or maybe someone who goes to church but never accepted Christ. I suppose from a practicing Jew’s perspective, all of us who believe that both the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, would be considered half-breeds.
November 17, 2010
I’ve never been happy with retailers pushing Christmas forward to extend the shopping season in order to make more money. This year Christmas decorations were selling even before Halloween was over. It’s just dawned on me that maybe my angst is wrong. Maybe I should be embracing the extended Holiday season. Retailers have lengthened the Christmas season, which includes the public display of Jesus, from 30 to 60 days…something believers could never have accomplished. God does have a way of taking bad situations that we think are bad and making them good. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done...” (Gen 50:20 NIV)
November 16, 2010
I have an interest in public speaking so I’m a member of Toastmasters and have gone to conferences and taken classes to improve my presentations. I find it interesting that with all the training and instruction I’ve received, not one time has anyone ever suggested that to be a good speaker I need to have love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor 13:1NIV)
November 15, 2010
One of the things funerals have in common, is they are usually orchestrated by the funeral director and his staff. First you are shown where to sign the memorial book and then you are led to your seat. Once the service is over you’re dismissed row by row to walk past the open casket. You then reverently stand around waiting for the family to finish their goodbyes to their loved one so that you can offer your condolences. Last Friday we had a funeral at our church and one lady later told me, “I really liked that service. It was good and it reminded me of the wakes they used to have years ago.” Although there are many physical characteristics in our building that make people feel comfortable, the lack of organized control is what lets people come together. Rather than exiting in single file, our pastor simply announces, “You’re dismissed.” People immediately start milling around visiting, while others filter past the casket…or not. It’s interesting that even though the deceased is still in the room, it’s the living that becomes the focal point of the gathering.
November 12, 2010
I’m a fan of the CBS TV show the Amazing Race. In a recent segment two teams violated the rules by taking a taxi to their next destination rather than walking. Standing at the Pit-Stop ready to be checked in each team learned that they would incur 30 minute penalties. Host Phil Keogham asked each team, “Didn’t you read the clue?” Whether it is the early disciples, believers today or even non-believers, I can just picture Jesus asking, ‘Didn’t you read the clues?’
November 11, 2010
I’m more than a little grateful the contractor was able to repair the damage done in the cement. Had the girl’s last names been permanently incased in my driveway I’d have been irked every time I saw it. The old adage to ‘forgive and forget’ is so much easier to accomplish when there isn’t a constant reminder around.
November 10, 2010
I wrote down their names, their mother’s names as well as their phone numbers and I assured the girls I would be calling. Within half an hour one mother and her daughter returned to our house with a profound apology and I give kudos to both the mother and daughter for taking responsibility. As for the other mother, I left a voice mail asking her to call me, but when she didn’t return my call, I called her again. This mother was totally unaware of the situation and seemed agitated as I explained what had transpired. It was revealed that not only was the mother not told, the child also erased the voice mail from her mother’s phone. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13 NIV)
November 09, 2010
At the same time as I was confronting the young graffiti artists our contractor came by and was able to repair the damage to the cement. However I have a real distaste for being lied to and I wasn’t going to let this go with a, ‘see that you don’t do this again’ speech. The attitude of one of the girls was particularly defiant and she seemed think she could argue herself out of the situation. ‘I don’t want to get in trouble with my mom. I’m sorry. Do I have to pay for it? Look, I just said I’m sorry!’ Although she was combative, I had to stifle a laugh at one of the lines of her defense, “I couldn’t help it. It was just such a temptation!” I didn’t buy her excuse, but it reminded me that God doesn’t buy my temptation excuses either.
November 08, 2010
We just spent $3,000 having a new cement driveway poured and two young, middle school girls on their way home from school decided to leave me their autograph. Thankfully my visitor at the time looked out the window and alerted me to what had happened and I caught up with the young ladies half a block away. They were scared when I confronted them and one of the girls not only denied their involvement, but accused some imaginary students across the street of being the culprits. The evidence however was indisputable. Not only was there a witness, but each of the girls had written their own last name. Spiritually speaking, when we sin we often think we can get away with it. The reality is that our name and our fingerprints are all over the sins we commit.
November 05, 2010
Recently I attended an event that recognizes special needs folks and one of the honorees was a man I’ve known for many years. When I went to speak to him before the program I couldn’t help but admire the huge gold medal hanging around his neck. I assumed he’d been in the Special Olympics and I wanted to give him an opportunity to boast about his accomplishment so I asked where he got his medal. Beaming with pride Clayton said, “Bought it at a yard sale!” Have you ever noticed that God sometimes gives us the victory before we’ve even run the race?
November 04, 2010
As a youngster I admired people who were so familiar with their Bible that they could flip to any book or chapter with ease. I remember the competition of sword drills to see who could find a verse the quickest and it was especially gratifying when the kids beat the adults. As an adult I’m no longer roaming back and forth between the various books of the Bible and I’ve either forgotten where some of them are located, or I have to stop and mentally recite the list. Certainly pride has kept me from wanting to look in the index or carry a tabbed Bible. However, my new Bible continues to drive me nuts. It’s not broken in, the pages are stuck together and by the time I find the Scripture the preacher is talking about he has already moved on to another verse. Last week in frustration I put index tabs on my Bible. You gotta know that the Spirit just loves chipping away at our pride. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)
November 03, 2010
During my bedtime prayers I routinely ask the Lord to put a hedge of protection around my house so that Satan and his minions might not enter in and disturb my sleep. A few weeks ago I heard Michelle Obama stumping on the campaign trail and she solicited spiritual intervention from the audience. I feel certain she meant to ask that evil, unclean spirits be kept from being around the campaign, however what she actually said was to, “Keep the spirits clean around us.”
November 02, 2010
In the spring of A.D. 30 two candidates stood before governor Pilate and he asked the crowd, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” And the crowd voted, “Barabbas.” (Matt 27:16-21) As tragic as that election was, we would not have wanted the results to have gone any other way. In the end, our Candidate won.
November 01, 2010
Recently in a phone conversation I was asked if I were a minister at my church. While I was laughing at such a suggestion, I could almost feel the heavenly saints of the Christian Church/Church of Christ sucking air. We just don’t have women preachers in our denomination...that is unless some have crept in when I wasn’t looking. I remember as a teen that the first Scripture I memorized and took ownership of was, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 KJV) Though it’s flattering to be mistaken for a minister, I still continue to be just a student of the Bible.
October 29, 2010
Every once in awhile you’ll hear someone say they have a 50-50 chance of either going to heaven or hell. I suppose that thought gives them some sort of comfort in a life or death gamble, but I’d say that the odds are really 100% chance of heaven or hell. Thankfully our salvation is not left up to a flip of the coin. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16 NIV)
October 28, 2010
As maturing believers we sometimes have to pry our fingers off worldly pleasures. Often it’s a matter of chipping away at justifications, rational and our sense of entitlement. For the last few years my local newspaper has become more biased, self-serving and encourages community division. I’ve tried to weigh the need for keeping my finger on the pulse of the community against being sucked into the media toxicity. Yesterday, after a lifetime of being a daily newspaper reader, I cancelled my subscription…and I actually feel a sense of liberation. Although Paul was talking specifically about people, I think his warning can also apply to keeping company with anything that might corrupt good character…say a video game, a novel and yes, even a daily newspaper. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Cor 15:33 NIV)
October 27, 2010
One man who has lived in several areas of the West said he was surprised at how his political views changed somewhat depending on the political landscape. For instance outspoken Democratic rhetoric has a tendency to be diluted if you move to a community where the majority of the population is Republican. The man observed, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” Applying this thought process to believers gives us another good object lesson on the importance of sitting at the feet of Jesus.
October 26, 2010
When I write a complimentary close in get well or sympathy card to a friend I often say ‘God bless you’. However it’s just struck me that I also say, ‘God bless you’ to a perfect stranger when he sneezes. Even though I’m saying the same words, the sentiments are entirely different. Think of it, the guy who sneezes could be a serial killer, mass murderer or escaped convict. If I knew the stranger’s history I might pray for him, but being honest, I might not be asking God to bless him. Just when I’m ready to start offering Kleenex rather than blessings I come across, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Ro 12:14 NIV)
October 25, 2010
I was a care-giver for my sister and it’s now been a year since she passed away. Recently my preacher emailed me asking about a New Testament Bible titled, Finding God that he’d given Shelly. He knew of someone who might benefit from the paperback and he wondered if I still had it, or if he should order a new one. I replied to the email that I still have the book and he is welcome to have it to give to someone else, but sadly it is mint condition. The preacher responded, “Good as new huh – we’ll try again.”
October 22, 2010
In the course of a conversation with a gentleman he told me that he was a recovering alcoholic. “I haven’t had a drink in 29 ½ years.” I congratulated him and we shared with one another the wide spread alcoholism that both of us have had in our families. I’m aware that Alcoholic Anonymous has participants claim their problem, but human nature tells us that after a few years we want to move on with life and not wear the title of alcoholic. I think there is a lesson in this for believers. Most of us would simply like to lay claim to being a disciple of Christ and forget the fact that we were, and are, still sinners.
October 21, 2010
When my children were very young I felt that part of my mothering responsibility included teaching them to love their daddy. Teaching them to say ‘daddy’, then throughout the day talking to them about their daddy’s character and helping them get excited about daddy coming home from work. As believers we teach our children to know the Lord, but I suspect that we work harder teaching them to love their earthly father than we do to love their Heavenly Father. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…” (Matt 10:37 NIV)
October 20, 2010
I listened to a presentation from a community foundation which partners with nonprofit organizations to provide investment management services. For a percentage the foundation manages endowment funds. According to their media ad, “This allows the organization to focus on their mission while the endowed funds generate income to sustain their charitable purpose.” I understand how the partnership can work for some organizations, but I was taken back when the testimony and endorsement in the ad was from a local mainstream church. I had visions of the disciples taking up a collection for believers in Jerusalem and rather than sending the offering on to the saints, the church hung on to it to ‘generate income to sustain their charitable purpose.'
October 19, 2010
In the drama of the Chilean miners trapped for 69 days I see some wonderful Biblical similarities. As the miners were rescued I thought of Adam coming forth from the dust of the earth. Their going from death to life has shades of coming out of the waters of baptism. As each man was released from the grip of the earth there were claps, cheers and rejoicing in the world…not unlike heaven when a sinner repents. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety–nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV)
October 18, 2010
I have a friend whose shield of faith is often turned into a target. By religiously inserting statements of faith into every conversation, when she makes the slightest misstep the world around her is quick to point out behind her back, “…and she calls herself a Christian!” It’s interesting that we can turn anything into an idol – even our statement of faith.
October 15, 2010
There are politicians who will promise just about anything to get elected and often they are merely telling us what our itching ears want to hear. As if they can somehow single-handedly influence the political landscape, they emphatically tell us how they are going to change Washington. Just once I’d like to hear a candidate say, ‘The Lord willing, I will do…’
October 14, 2010
My friend’s three year-old daughter was misbehaving so she gave the child two options. (1) The child could cooperate or (2) she would have to go to the naughty chair. “Hmm” said the child. “Let me think about that.” Her comment has a ring of familiarity to it. Often our lack of action telegraphs to God that we’re still thinking about cooperating with the Spirit.
October 13, 2010
My cousin’s husband, a non-believer, is nearing 90 years old. Laura had always worried about Nick’s eternal life until a pastor told her that knowing he wasn’t saved was better than wondering whether or not he was saved. Explaining the pastor’s reasoning she said, “As long as Nick hasn’t accepted Christ I know there is still a chance.” Jesus said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16 NIV)
October 12, 2010
I went to Sunday School and after watching 15 minutes of our current video series about the church I got up and left. The study is produced by Rick Warren’s Saddleback church staff and I knew there was no way I could be open to the Spirit’s leading if I were sitting there angry. The leadership of my previous church was sucked into Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ and quite honestly I no longer have the desire or the energy to battle the destructive influences found in the material. You’d think that Sunday morning worship would be the one time of the week that we didn’t have to be fully dressed in the armor of God and ready to go into battle.
October 11, 2010
It seems to me that Columbus Day is one federal holiday that doesn’t unite the American people. For most employees it is just another work day, however banks and government offices are closed. School children have little to celebrate because their schools remain open. Thankfully believers are always united in the day. “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24 NIV)
October 08, 2010
The study material in my Sunday school class is on the beginnings of the New Testament church. Interestingly our relatively new church has been so focused on what unites us that we’ve somehow avoided those doctrines that cause division. One element of our discussion last week was baptism. While some folks want to put in the same ordinance category as the Lord’s Supper, I am of the persuasion that baptism comes under the category of salvation. For me personally, if I gave the salvation message without including immersion I’d be speaking only partial-truth. Jesus wants us to put into practice all that He has spoken. “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt 7:26-27 NIV)
October 07, 2010
During a conversation on lacking self-confidence one man observed, “I became comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I can see that same mind-set translating into the spiritual realm of the believer. We often become so comfortable with a particular sin that we don’t feel the sting of conviction. “Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”(Proverbs 28:14 NIV)
October 06, 2010
Back-story: Over the years I’ve done battle with woodpeckers trying to poke holes into the north side of my house, which happens to be 32 feet in height. Not only were they protected because of the height, they also happen to be a protected species. Since I couldn’t legally kill them, I resorted to scaring them off by throwing gravel or trying to shoot them with a rubber-band gun. Yesterday I looked out the window and saw a woodpecker going at my neighbor’s tree and I had to laugh. We just finished residing the house with rusted metal and replaced the fascia and soffit with Hardie board (cement)…we no longer have any wood to be pecked. My victory dance felt similar to being dressed in the armor of God and knowing that I’m fully protected and able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Eph 6:11-18)
October 05, 2010
It’s not unusual to find bullies in the classroom and the workplace, but I think we can also find them on the religious landscape. We often hear stories of someone who is a physical light-weight learning karate to keep from being picked on. As new believers I think we’ve all felt the stigma of being a Scriptural light-weight. But when you think about it, we really are no different that the Apostles and early disciples. Going up against the Pharisees, they couldn’t depend on their personal relationship with the Lord to protect them from bullies. It was their knowledge in the Word that made them heavy-weights. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 NIV)
October 04, 2010
During the Communion meditation the speaker used an illustration of his childhood Sunday dinners of pot roast, brown gravy, chunked potatoes and carrots. The elderly couple seated next to me took off on their own conversation about Sunday dinners. Then in the back of the auditorium two of the guys had a side bar going about who knows what. I became irritated with my fellow worshippers for their lack of focus, for being rude to the speaker and for interfering with the meditation of others. By the time the bread and the juice came down the aisle I was frustrated and mentally fighting with Satan for stealing my time with the Lord. I’m trying to find something in this situation to be thankful for and I guess it’s the fact that in our church we serve the emblems every week and not every quarter.
October 01, 2010
In some cases church leadership frowns on members giving tithes and offerings with strings attached. I’ve known a church that returns offerings which are designated to any project other than a leadership sanctioned project. I find it somewhat disconcerting that the Lord would accept my offering, but the elders would reject it. It sort of makes you feel like if you dare to designate, then you are somehow sinning. As Peter chastised Ananias for his deception, he also reveals that we’re stewards of our own money. “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4a NIV)
September 30, 2010
A side effect of leprosy is the loss of sensation at the nerve ends and the individual can’t feel pain. It seems strange to think that one should be grateful for pain, but from the lepers perspective the ability to feel anything would no doubt be a blessing. I toyed with the thought that a spiritual form of leprosy might be a hard and calloused heart that no longer feels, but I soon rejected the idea. You can catch leprosy, but you don’t catch a hard heart. “Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” (Proverbs 28:14 NIV)
September 29, 2010
I’ve been irritated when I’ve heard of politicians saying, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ – meaning that any calamity is an opportunity for them to push through a desired policy change. However, when I stop to think about it, the Lord uses that same process with many of us. Some of my best spiritual policy changes have come in the midst of a crisis.
September 28, 2010
Last week I saw a television commercial for a Vineyard church located in the downtown area of a neighboring community. The pastor and another man were sitting at a pub bar with a half-full beer stein in front of each of them. The minister invited the listening audience to come and join him and his congregation. With a worldly smile he said, “We’re not religious…we’re just spiritual.” Well OK now. I guess if I encounter someone looking for spirits I’ll know where to send them.
September 27, 2010
One of the frustrations for the publishing industry is that they get submissions from writers who failed to read the company’s guidelines. An example might be a writer submitting a story to Guideposts promoting witchcraft, all on the assumption that the magazine has ‘spiritual’ content. The American Tract Society has this tip for writers: “Read our current tracts; submit polished writing; relate to people’s needs and experiences. Follow guidelines – almost no one does.” Believers sometimes have a similar lack of spiritual professionalism in that we too often fail to follow the guidelines.
September 24, 2010
When I walk into a room full of people I usually scan the room to see if there is anyone I know. Those I’m well acquainted with I can spot across the room and then there are others who may look familiar, but their name escapes me. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared in a different form to two men on the road to Emmaus and they didn’t recognize Him. It strikes me that when I’m in a room full of people I’m like just these two men – I’m looking for familiar faces when I should be looking for Jesus.
September 23, 2010
While in Wal-Mart I ran into a friend who lost her husband last week. Her relief and peace overshadowed any grief that she had and she seemed to be doing remarkably well. “I’m going back to work tomorrow and things really are OK.” She smiled, “Bob was suffering. I decided if you ask God to take someone quickly, then you have no right to have a pity party when He does what you ask Him to do.”
September 22, 2010
I don’t ever remember sitting down to dinner thinking, when I get done eating I want to be stuffed and miserable. And yet how often do I leave the table saying, ‘I can’t eat another bite. I don’t even have room for dessert. I’m stuffed.’ When Jesus fed the 5,000 and 4,000 Scripture says, “They all ate and were satisfied…” I’m beginning to wonder if the problem for many of us is that we eat to be full rather than eating to be satisfied.
September 21, 2010
One time there was an odor in my refrigerator and even though I cleaned out all the old leftovers, the smell remained. I’d never encountered a rotten egg before, so it took me a little while to discover where the odor was coming from and which one was the bad egg. Whether in or out of the church environment we’ve all run into people who we thought were bad eggs. No doubt others at one time or another have thought of us as being the rotten one. Paul gives us a word of caution during those smelly times, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Cor. 15:33 NIV)
September 20, 2010
Passing through town on their way to California three boys and one girl dropped into our Sunday school class. They appeared to be in their late teens and were all dressed in summer casual and stated that ‘someone’ suggested they attend our church. Two of the young folks obviously had a Christian upbringing as they readily joined in the class discussion about the ‘end times’. The group then stayed for worship, with each one sitting in a different area of the sanctuary. After services they hung around until most of people had left and it was then that I learned they were looking for a hand out. I think that one of our ladies gave them $20 and there was another offer of a gift card that they could use for food or gas at the local grocery store. I have to tell you I’m struggling with whether or not the congregation was just being conned, or whether we entertaining angels unaware. On second thought, I suppose it could be both. If it was a con job, these little angels are obviously unaware of the spiritual consequences.
September 17, 2010
Last weekend there was an air show and it was fun to see people coming out of their houses and watching the sky to see the various types of airplanes and their flying formations. Jesus gives us a similar picture associated with the end times. “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Matt 24:30 NIV)
September 16, 2010
Adam and Eve, Ananias and Sapphira, David and Bathsheba all have something in common…they tried to hide their stories and keep them from becoming public knowledge. An article, Lessons from PR Disasters (Toastmaster July 2010) says, “It’s natural human instinct to try to bury the worst parts of a story, thinking they won’t come out – but they almost always do. What you see time and time again in crisis situations is that the cost of not communicating quickly and admitting error up front far exceeds the cost of taking those steps.” I find it interesting that even those in the world recognize the need for quick confession, yet we believers keep mum hoping we won’t get exposed. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 Jn 1:9-10 NIV)
September 15, 2010
I was out walking the other evening when a neighbor woman on her deck hollered at her twin teens through the patio door. “OK, that’s 10 points for both of you.” There was a pause and then, “And that’s another 20 points for whoever said that!” It’s interesting that scoring points can be a either a good thing or a bad thing. Believers sometimes fall into a similar mental game with the Lord. It’s as though we think the Lord doesn’t have anything better to do than to keep score.
September 14, 2010
Last week I volunteered to babysit an eight-week old puppy for a couple days. Apparently the eight to nine week-age is when puppies need socialization and boy did we socialize the little guy. When Snickers was awake and running around I hovered over him, not only for his protection, but for mine as well. One day when we were outside the fire and police sirens started going off. Snickers immediately took shelter between my feet until the wailing stopped and I gave him the ‘it’s OK to come out’ now talk. As believers we too should be taking shelter in the Lord when warning sirens sound off, but all too often our actions are more like those of the Jews in Jerusalem that Jesus described when He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34 NIV)
September 13, 2010
My microwave started making scratching and vibrating noises so Bill crawled through the attic insulation to see if an insect was caught in the vent. We finally concluded that something big, maybe a katydid, was trapped between the inner and outer sides of microwave itself. Aside from taking the microwave off the wall and actually dismantling it, there was no way to get to it – and even if we could get to it, we’d likely have to kill it to keep it from getting lose in the house. After seven hours of listening to the creature scratch and vibrate against its metal tomb, I considered there might a little bit of Job’s wife welling up in me…I really wanted this thing to die and get it over with so I could move on. (Job 2:9 NIV)
September 10, 2010
Recently one of my aunts told me that we needed to go visit an estranged cousin because, “It is what mother would want us to do.” Not that I don’t respect grandmother’s wishes, but she has been dead for seven years. Who would have thought that even from the grave grandmother still had the power to keep all of us doing what she would do…and to feel guilty if we didn’t do it. But, in a moment of Biblical reflection I have to admit that’s exactly what happens when we belong to the Lord. Jesus still has the power to keep us doing what He would do - though not from the grave, but from the right hand of God.
September 09, 2010
Our adult Sunday school chairs are slat-back solid wood, similar to an older style of library chair. To make them more tolerable, some folks bring cushions to sit on. However most of us just sit on the hard surfaces and later moan and groan. After an hour of class you have to stand up very slowly to get the circulation going again. There has been some conversation about getting new chairs (I’m in favor!), but you really have to laugh at our need for comfort. None of us would likely sit in a window until midnight like Eutychus (Acts 20:9).
September 08, 2010
The woman who was subject to bleeding for 12 years touched the cloak of Jesus and was healed. “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30 NIV) I sometimes have a similar feeling when a faithful saint goes home to be with the Lord. At least for a moment, it feels as though some portion of spiritual power is drained from the Body of Christ.
September 07, 2010
I’m not so sure, but it seems to me that the only difference between a tattletale and a whistle blower is the age of the one making the accusation. As a child you’re mocked and ridiculed when you tattle on someone, but as an adult when you blow the whistle you’re applauded for your courage. The Lord never intended for believers to simply look the other way, but there are spiritually correct ways expose sinful behavior. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault…But if he will not listen, take one or two others along…If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”(Matt 18:15-17 NIV)
September 06, 2010
Laboring for the Lord is often in the forefront of the mind of the believer, but I’m not sure many of us think of ourselves as reapers. Jesus said, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (John 4:38 NIV)
September 03, 2010
Saturday morning a few folks were getting the church ready for Sunday services when one of our older ladies walked in with her Bible all dressed up and ready for Sunday School. When she was told she was a day early it took a moment to register but then she laughed and said, “I got up and around early today…I don’t know if I can do it again tomorrow.” Interestingly both the woman and the scheduled lesson had something in common…both were about ‘The Second Coming’.
September 02, 2010
We continue to refurbish the house and the cost keeps going up as we find other ‘little’ jobs that we might as well do while we’re at it. I find myself justifying the ongoing project by thinking of it as an investment. However, Paul burst my bubble in his discourse on how we should live, “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep…” (1 Cor 7:29-30 NIV) I have to tell you that we’ve been working on this house as though it were ours to keep….it certainly never crossed my mind that all these improvements might be for someone else.
September 01, 2010
A notice about an upcoming event promoted and endorsed the speaker by recalling his past presentations and then stating, “I’m sure he will not disappoint.” When I put on my evangelist hat, I sometimes search for a way to introduce Jesus to those who may not know Him. I might throw out snippets of what Jesus can do, how He can give or why He does what He does. Maybe a better introduction for me to use might be to recommend Jesus by simply saying, 'I know He will not disappoint.'
August 31, 2010
After the first day of school I teasingly ask seven year-old David if the teacher had given him any homework yet. He proceeded to tell me he wouldn’t have any homework until September 30th. I thought he must have misunderstood the teacher and maybe it was September 3rd. “No I’m pretty sure she said September 30th. Well, I’m 51 % sure that I don’t have any homework until September 30th.” I smiled at David’s percentage, but then realized I do something similar when it comes to spiritual attributes. Because I can’t be 100% perfect, I think in terms like 75% of the time I have self-control, or 95% of the time I have patience. No doubt there are times when my gentleness is only up to 51%.
August 30, 2010
Occasionally I get multiple announcements about the same event. Most of the time, it’s a case of someone not wanting the information to fall through the crack, so as a precaution they re-send it. It could be an email saying, “You may have already seen this” or a phone call saying, “I can’t remember whether or not I told you…” Often these messages contain a caveat apology that says if you are already aware of the situation then just simply disregard the repeated information. Recently a prayer chain email came through that ended, “If you have already received some of these prayer requests, just ignore these!” I find it humorous that we are sensitive about imposing on another person’s valuable time with re-reading a request...thankfully the Gospel writers didn’t say, ‘If you’ve already read this then just disregard.'
August 27, 2010
There are some community conversations going on about whether or not our area has a homeless problem. It appears that those who feel there is a problem want to start proposing the need for a homeless shelter. From a Christian perspective we are to supply our own food and shelter, with the exception of widows and orphans who are unable to provide for themselves. Personally I don’t see homelessness as a problem that requires community solution. It seems to me that the situation is the result of either a matter of choice, or because of choices made.
August 26, 2010
I was listening to a conversation about instilling work ethics in children when one of the guys told a story about his younger brother. The boy really wanted to buy a BB gun, so his dad told him he could work at the family business. The child got his work assignment along with the instructions that he was to clock in every morning and Friday is payday. Half way through the week the young man calculated that he had enough money for the BB gun. Even though his dad suggested that working a few more days would give him money to buy some extra BB’s, the boy had all the money he needed so he quit. When he asked for his pay the dad said, “Sorry son, payday is Friday.” When payday finally came around the boy went to the store only to discover that he didn’t have enough money because the BB gun was no longer on sale. I can see this same attitude with many believers. People try to put in the minimum investment in the Lord…only what’s needed for salvation.
August 25, 2010
I find it interesting in my Toastmasters club that people often join for a specific purpose and when that purpose is satisfied we never see them again. Maybe they just want to conquer a fear, polish a speech or promote themselves. Many of us do something similar when we first turn to the Lord. We come to Him wanting a broken heart mended, a marriage healed or a burden lifted. Jesus wants us to be attracted to Him, but not just because of what He can offer and provide for us in the moment.
August 24, 2010
There are some couples that, for one reason or another, don’t have children. It’s neither right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative. However, church developers would have us believe that if young families aren’t part of the membership make-up, then you’re becoming a dying church. Even though by all appearances my church is childless, I am pleased that the majority of our folks reject the need-for-youth philosophy. Just as many churches deliberately reach out to minister to youth, my church is ministering to older adults in the community. Some of our folks really are dying, but that does not equate to a dying church.
August 23, 2010
When my children got their drivers licenses I told them that driving under the influence was unacceptable and if I even so much as suspected them of drinking and driving I’d turn them into the police myself. I was of course concerned first with their safety, followed by the car, the insurance and the possible loss of their license. I was shocked when I recently heard the media reporting that the cost of a DUI is over $10,000. I doubt that many of today’s offenders have ever actually counted the cost of driving under the influence. Jesus told his followers, those then and those today, that there is a cost to becoming his disciple. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:22-27 NIV)
August 20, 2010
According to an AP report nearly 1 in 5 teens are losing some of their hearing and the likely cause is loud music and earbuds. It’s doubtful these teens understand that in the future such hearing loss will impact them personally, socially and even financially. Scripture often uses the phrase, ‘He who has an ear, let him hear…’ and yet for the believer many fail to understand that their lack of hearing has a spiritual impact. Jesus said, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matt 13:15 NIV)
August 19, 2010
I have a cousin who is depressed about the waning years of his life. He is frustrated that he can’t do things without his walker and he has no appetite, consequentially he’s losing weight and physical strength. During a recent check-up his doctor said, “Nick, we all are going to die sometime. I can’t make you 25 years old. You’re nearly 90, so get over it! I want to come to your 90th birthday party!” Both Nick’s doctor and his wife have encouraged him to think about the things that he’s able to do, rather than dwelling on things that he can’t do. I think even when we are nearing the end of life, Paul gives us a sound example to follow, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13b-14 NIV)
August 18, 2010
We have a young man who we’re paying hourly to help on our house remodel. His lament has been about his struggle in finding a full-time job, he can’t pay his bills and he’d like some benevolent assistance. He has gotten less dependable as the weeks go by. Not only is he living from pay check to paycheck, he now wants the pay check at the end of every day, rather than at the end of each week. Actually, it would not surprise me if he were to ask for an advance on his pay. Believers often slip into a similar pattern when it comes to blessings. If we are practicing faith we want to see immediate results for our efforts. We want our obedience to be rewarded today, not next week or next month. We’ve even been known to ask the Lord for advances on blessings with the promise that our actions will follow. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb 10:35-36 NIV)
August 17, 2010
I recently heard a fellow believer comparing a local pastor with a prominent TV preacher. I get the feeling that she secretly thinks the local pastor should and could strive to be more like the polished preacher who she watches on TV each week. Paul took the Corinthians to task for similar thoughts. “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (1 Cor 3:4-5 NIV)
August 16, 2010
One of the pieces of public art on display in town is a large, ugly fish made out of rusted pieces on metal. The tile of the exhibit is Trash Fish and community art critics all seem to agree that when it comes to appreciation there is no in between, you either like it or hate it. Interestingly the new rusted metal siding on my house is getting similar responses. The comments range from, “It’s really distinctive…, It’s a bold move…I wasn’t sure I liked it, but the rockwork has pulled it all together…, It’s different.” I like the fact that the house is visually set apart from other houses, but I wasn’t quite prepared to actually have it critiqued by the general public. I think there is a lesson for me in this, when I apply it to my Christianity. As a believer we need to be distinctive, bold, and different…and we also need to expect the critique that comes with it because we are set apart from those who are in the world.
August 13, 2010
In planning for the future, local government uses a master plan to project what will be needed in 20-30 years. We have master plans for the city in general, as well as for the sewer and the river corridor. A colleague recently pointed out that his metro-community has a 20-year jail master plan, which will include four more jail buildings on top of the 1,500 new beds that were just built. “My God,” he said, “we are planning jails for kids who aren’t even born yet.” My friend’s vision to turn the situation around and avoid the need for jail beds is to invest in crime prevention alternatives. Even as believers we sometimes try to incorporate our vision to the Master’s Plan… I think we need to be reminded that His plan isn’t just for the present day, but also for kids who aren’t even born yet.
August 12, 2010
I just received a fundraiser envelope from the Disabled American Veterans that included pre-printed address labels, a book mark, a prayer for luck and a gold token. I’ll probably use the address labels. The book mark says, “May angels of love, luck and liberty always smile at you and surround you wherever you go.” I can only imagine how the angels of the Lord feel about the new designation bestowed upon on them by the DAV. The prayer says, “I pray for grace from stars above…” I suppose that might give comfort to those who practice astrology. “May luck and joy be with all who know that what you reap is what you sow.” Exactly how would you go about sowing luck and joy? The coin, which they suggest you keep close to you, is said to be, “a symbol of faith…a sign of courage”. Interesting how the secular community tries to repackage not only angels and grace, but also the armor of God (Eph 6:11).
August 11, 2010
Generally speaking in the church we cut prospective teachers and leaders a lot of slack as they are developing their skills. However, when we come across an individual who wows us with their talk and knowledge we immediately want to know where they received their education. It’s almost as though regardless of their ability and courage to impart the Word, we want to know who certified them qualified. Peter and John had a similar experience when they were before the Sanhedrin who, “…realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NIV) I think we need to be reminded that a Bible college education doesn't trump being filled with the Holy Spirit.
August 10, 2010
In his epistles Paul showered the churches with care and concern. He was always thanking God for them, praying for them, thinking of them and wanting to hear reports on how they were doing. I don’t think I’m alone by saying that when I’m out of town or on vacation I give more thought to what I’m doing, than I do to what my church family is doing. Oh, there may be someone or something in particular that crosses my mind, but in general I don’t spend a lot of time in prayer for them when I’m away from them. Nor do I write them a letter of encouragement, or call them to get a report. I really have to wonder what the character of my church would look like if we had our own Paul hovering over us.
August 09, 2010
I’ve been referring to the new siding on the house as rusted metal, but the other day someone called it patina steel. I like that…it definitely sounds more chic. In Webster’s Dictionary one of the definitions for patina is, ‘a superficial covering or exterior’. We know that Jesus looks at the heart of men, but He also pays attention to man’s patina. As in the case of the teachers of the law and Pharisees, “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long…” (Matt 25:5 NIV)
August 06, 2010
During worship I love to stand in the same vicinity as someone who is a gifted singer. Not only can I follow their lead, but somehow it emboldens me to sing out stronger. I’m sure they are thinking, ‘If she can’t sing that well, why on earth is she singing so loudly?’ I’ve recently discovered that when a few weaker vocalist band together we sound pretty good…and we cover over a multitude of vocal sins. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
August 05, 2010
When you go to conventions it’s not unusual to wind up on someone’s mailing list. Maybe you sign up for their newsletter, put your name in a hat for a drawing, or you give them a business card. For over 20 years I’ve been getting a quarterly newsletter from a ministry in which I have no investment or interest. At one time I tried to stop the newsletter, but it continues to arrive in my mailbox. Sometimes in ministry we can become so focused on outreach that we don’t realize when we are wasting time, energy and resources. When the twelve were sent out they were given clear direction on when their ministry efforts should cease. Jesus said, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” (Mark 6:11 NIV)
August 04, 2010
We can look back to our younger years - sometimes with regret, embarrassment or prowess – and think ‘ah, the days of my youth’. The writer of Hebrews says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” (Hebrews 5:7 ESV) Someday we will be 100% spiritual beings, thankfully we won’t have to be looking back to the days of our flesh.
August 03, 2010
Every evening my neighbors drive their 4 X 4 truck up to our group of mail boxes. Their son, who is 8 years-old, jumps down out of the truck, gets the mail and hands it back to his mom through the open passenger window. Then hunching down on the sidewalk on imaginary starting blocks, he aligns himself with the front of the big red truck. When the signal is given, both boy and truck race around the corner of the block to his house. The dad gooses the diesel engine a couple of times for sound effects causing the boy to grin from ear to ear and run all the faster. Whether or not he wins or loses, it appears that the young man always runs to win. The Apostle Paul wants to see that type of character in believers, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24 NIV)
August 02, 2010
Women can get worn down by children who seem to test them beyond their limits. One of our exasperated anthems becomes, “Wait until your father gets home.” I don’t think we realize that by using that statement we’ve in essence relinquished our authority to our husbands. Certainly women are to be in submission to husbands and to men in authority, however we’re not told to abdicate authority positions than have been given to us.
July 30, 2010
My house is getting all new windows and siding, which means that every room in the house is torn up. Dry wall must be patched and painted, interior window casings painted and new draperies hung…and the mess cleaned up. To add to the confusion one section of an electrical circuit in the kitchen died and had to be rewired. The garbage disposal bit the dust went a nail fell into it. To top it off a newly discovered leak in the shower wasn’t new after all and the drywall in the shower is ruined. The whole shower is now gutted and getting a facelift. It sort of reminds me of becoming a Christian. You think you’re coming to the Lord just to be saved and then the Spirit moves in and starts remodeling His new digs. Every time you turn around there’s another character issue that needs to be dealt with. And the remodel doesn’t stop just because you’re a seasoned Christian.
July 29, 2010
Lydia, my 4 year-old granddaughter is tentative about giving or getting wet-willies, the art of putting you index finger in your mouth and sneaking up on some unsuspecting soul and sticking your wet finger in their ear. She recently played a game changer saying, “I'd think I’d rather have a dry Willie.” My mental reaction was, ‘well, what fun is that?’, and yet Lydia giggled just as much trying to avoid a dry finger in her ear as she did the wet finger. 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)
July 28, 2010
Sarah Palin cannot be dismissed as a political force and one reporter describes her as having the power to ‘galvanize the Republican Party’. According to Webster’s to galvanize is, “to subject to the action of an electric current…; to stimulate or excite as if by an electric shock”. I’m reminded of the power that left Jesus when the woman touched His cloak or the healing power that came through the touch of the Apostles hands. We sometimes need to be reminded that the Holy Spirit has given us power to galvanize others.
July 27, 2010
Recently there was a feel good story in the Los Angeles Daily News, written by Dennis McCarthy. When an Asian woman could no longer keep her dog she left him, along with a sizable donation, at a private ‘no-kill’ shelter. The shelter never could find a good home for Tuffy, a Korean Jindo dog. “That dog just turned the world off. He wanted no part of it…he just shut down.” Four and a half years later the Asian woman wanted to adopt a dog of the same breed and through the Internet she re-discovered Tuffy. A meeting was arranged, but Tuffy was sadly unresponsive to his former owner…that is until an employee suggested that the woman speak to the dog in Korean. I know exactly how Tuffy feels. Jesus speaks to me in a language that I understand. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27-28 NIV)
July 26, 2010
I can understand the pros and cons of having baptisms during a Sunday worship service, both from the perspective of the baptizer and the baptizee. Today the waters of baptism for many churches have to be moved into place, filled-up and warmed-up. There is something to be said for planning ahead and scheduling, but I do miss the spontaneity we once had with the confession of faith followed immediately by the public witness of baptism. It’s interesting to think that God could have scheduled the crucifixion for a time when only a couple of witnesses could be present, instead he sent Jesus to die on the cross openly, for all to see. I would hope that those coming to the Lord would be encouraged to do no less than to die openly in the waters of baptism.
July 23, 2010
I’m not an impulse shopper, nor an impulsive giver, which for me means sticking to pre-determined budgeting. Often I find myself explaining to a ministry solicitation that I can’t offer them support because my tithing and giving funds have already been earmarked. Because of my personality, it fascinates me that some of the most generous givers to our church are visitors. I feel fairly certain that when these folks first walked in the door that our church wasn’t a line item in their budget. Their generosity reminds me of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-37). As they travel by they show compassion and in a very real sense they ‘bandaged our wounds, pouring on oil and wine’.
July 22, 2010
When it comes to a huge accomplishment it’s not unusual for someone to say they have invested their blood, sweat and tears. The energy expelled could be from the work of their hands, or emotionally as they interact with people in their life. By accepting the will of the Father, Jesus made such an investment in us. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 NIV)
July 21, 2010
I produce a newsletter for our church for the sole purpose of helping us get better acquainted with one another. Every week I interview a member and then write a brief biography and narrative about them. Lately a few of the folks have been thinking ahead about what they might say if I were to call them for an interview. Prefacing their answers they say, “I thought you might be asking that.” When I die I won’t be a featured interview in a heavenly newsletter, but what if I was? With the good and the bad that I’ve done in life, I wonder if I would have the where-with-all to say, “I thought you might be asking that.”
July 20, 2010
I just purchased some iodized salt and the ‘best used by’ date on the bottom is June of 2015. Since believers are the ‘salt of the earth’, it gives me cause to wonder what my expiration date might be. I’d like to think it would be the date that will appear on my death certificate. However, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matt 5:13 NIV) I suppose if you ever find yourself in a heap and walked on by men, then you can rightly conclude you’ve passed your best used by date.
July 19, 2010
Last week I was in the clearance isle of a shoe store when I noticed a pair of well worn shoes in a box on the display shelf. Obviously someone had walked out of the store wearing a new pair of shoes and leaving their old pair behind. When the sales clerk walked by I told her that it appeared that the store had been ripped off. She laughed and explained that the shoes were actually new, but that they were made to look old. After further inspection the only thing giving the new shoes away were the sole. The Pharisees tried their best to keep the old look and feel of the Law, but Jesus told them to take a look at their souls, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NIV)
July 16, 2010
In a TV interview, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made the comment that there were enough House seats in play for the November election that it would be possible for the Democrats to lose the House majority. While Mr. Gibbs spoke the truth, it was a truth that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, doesn’t want spoken. Apparently the Democrat leadership fears that this train of thought could become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Jesus said, “… the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32b NIV), even as believers we need those who are willing to speak the truth.
July 15, 2010
I recently visited with a woman who, when her husband passed away, was left with land, farming equipment and livestock. “We always talked in terms of it being our land, our livestock, and our property. The truth was that it wasn’t ours, it really belonged to the bank.” Taking her thought a step further she added, “And in reality it didn’t even belong to the bank either, it all belongs to God.” She has a great point. Many of us try to figure out the loopholes to keep the government from putting their hand in our pocket and taking our money. Maybe we need to remind ourselves that even if they take it, it really isn’t theirs either…it all belongs to God.
July 14, 2010
Generally speaking, Scripture applies to all of us unless it specifically addresses young men, virgins, old men, etc. However, as we get older many seem to set Biblical instruction and promises aside as though they no longer pertain. Forgetting that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, we’re downcast about having to downsize, aggravated that others are making decisions for us, and mad at the loss of physical strength and bodily functions. We need to be reminded that all Scripture is age appropriate.
July 13, 2010
When we’re trying to explain our thought process or our point of view we often ask one another, “Do you understand where I’m coming from?” The question can take on a whole different meaning and requires a different answer if it comes from a believer. We come from darkness to light, weak to strong, lost to found, death to life…“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17 NIV) Rejoicing certainly is in order when we pause long enough to remember where we’ve come from.
July 12, 2010
A few weeks back an older couple came into church just as the worship service was about to begin. They appeared to be visitors so I gave them a quick welcome while showing them different areas of seating that were available. With a curt, “We were here one other time and all the seats were being saved for others.” the woman forged ahead and found a place to sit. God does have a sense of humor. It just happened to be the 4th of July and our attendance was down by about 20 people, which gave her more seats to choose from. After the service I learned that last year when this couple visited us the woman’s critique was that we were, ‘the most unfriendly church she’d ever attended’. At first blush I wondered why they bothered to come back and then I thought about the strangers that we sometimes encounter. Maybe this is a test! “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb 13:1-2 NIV)
July 09, 2010
Describing false apostles that had infiltrated the Corinthian church Paul sarcastically calls them super-apostles(2 Cor 11:5, 12:11) The NIV footnote says they were “…in reality not apostles at all, except in their own arrogantly inflated opinion of themselves.” I’m somewhat bothered by believers branding one another with titles such as, Super-Christian, Bible-Thumper or Holier-Than-Thou. I can’t be certain, but I suspect few believers set out intending to become a Super-Christian, and yet for whatever reason, others label them with that description. I think it’s possible that some of us hold back our zeal for the Lord because we fear our peers will evaluate us and deem us self-righteous.
July 08, 2010
As believers we know there is power in the word of God, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double–edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4:12 NIV). However, I’m not so sure that we give much thought to the power in our own words. At a recent conference I attended the main session was presented by author and speaker Gene Griessman, Ph. D. His advice was to never stop working on communication skills, “Words have power…Once they are spoken they take on a life of their own. They can come back to bless you or to cause you pain.”
July 07, 2010
I’m glad that Talk News has contributors who are both for and against an issue and I appreciate hearing the differing views…when I can actually hear what is being said. All too often the host will let, or even encourage the guests talk loudly over one another. Occasionally a facilitator will even join in the verbal free-for-all as though they themselves were part of the panel discussion. I see shades of Paul in Ephesus when the whole city was in an uproar and the crowd rushed into the theater shouting, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ “The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” (Acts 19:32 NIV) As a viewer of Talk News I think there are more than a few of us who get weary of the confusion and wonder, ‘Why I’m here?’
July 06, 2010
We’re all accustomed to getting voice mail that says, ‘Sorry I missed you’re call. Leave a message and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.’ Recently my co-worker called a prospective client and the voice recording said, “I’m looking at making some drastic changes in my life, so if I don’t answer your call…you’re one of them.” Well, all righty… While we may laugh at the sentiment, I doubt that most of us would actually endorse such sarcasm. However, on a Christian level there is a point to be made. When we become a believer we must say to the world and to Satan, ‘I’m making drastic changes in my life so I’ll no longer be taking your calls.’
July 05, 2010
This year the 4th of July fell on a Sunday, so government offices will be closed on Monday, July 5th to give employees their holiday. Interestingly a woman asked if our church would be cancelling worship services on Sunday the 4th in honor of Independence Day. I would like to say the thought is absurd, but the reality is that 20 years ago who would have ever thought we’d be cancelling Sunday and Wednesday evening services. Sadly, holiday closures for churches are in the realm of possibility.
July 02, 2010
We are getting new siding on our house and we’ve made an unconventional decision to do the entire house in rusted metal. We have panels of corrugated iron strewn all over the yard and Bill is hastening the rusting process by applying muriatic acid and water. Watching more rust appear hourly gives me a whole new perspective as to what God sees when he looks at my earthly treasures. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:20-21 NIV)
July 01, 2010
I have a colleague who I see about eight times a year. She has a tell it like it is personality and she’ll let you know in no uncertain terms what she thinks about you. Her philosophy is, “If you don’t want my opinion, then you better not ask for it.” She uncaringly brings others to tears and to say she is harsh is an understatement. In a strange way I find myself thinking, ‘I really hope she’s not a Christian, or if she is that I’m not standing next to her on the day of judgment’. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt 12:36-37 NIV)
June 30, 2010
The City asks that those who serve on Council to obtain a certain level of emergency preparedness. In connection with NIMS (National Incident Management System), I just completed three FEMA independent course studies. Each class was over three hours long and caused me great brain drain. However, I can now boast that I’m equipped in crisis management, whether it is local, tribal, state or federal. I can handle any catastrophe or disaster - up to and including Armageddon. I figured it wouldn’t do any good to tell them that I’m a pre-tribber and won’t be available at Armageddon.
June 29, 2010
Somewhere along the line the word belief seems to have become accepted as a substitute for opinion. Do you believe in angels? I believe you should feed a cold and starve a fever. I came across an interesting conversation on a web site: A man asked his sister, “Do you believe in global warming?” She replied, “Noooo. I believe in God. Science does not require me to believe in anything.”
June 28, 2010
We often talk about raising children and sometimes joke that because they are our children we never get them completely raised. I recently heard someone take a different slant on the issue by saying, “You’ve raised a man.” When you stop and think about it, our goal is not to raise children, but to raise men and women. We can look back and document physical and mental progress from childhood to adulthood, but it’s much more difficult for us to measure spiritual growth. I suppose one milestone is when we put spiritually-childish ways behind us. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Cor 13:11 NIV)
June 25, 2010
Author James B. Stewart describes a scene after a natural disaster by saying, “The only possible human reaction seemed to be a similarly calm and peaceful submission to forces beyond our control.” I think that’s how the majority of us feel when we finally accept and acknowledge that a situation is totally out of our control. However, I can’t always make the same application in spiritual matters. There are always those motivational Scriptures running around in my head that keep me on the edge of having some element of control. ‘Pray and keep on praying…whatever you ask in My name…’ It’s a little hard to have calm and peaceful submission when you know you can move mountains.
June 24, 2010
Occasionally I have to talk to the media and the harder I try to choose my words the more I feel like I’m babbling. I learned quickly that when speaking to a reporter you have to be specific, ‘This is on the record; this is off the record’. You do become a person of fewer words when there is a possibility that what you say may wind up on tomorrow’s front page. As believers we often do something similar with one another by saying, ‘please don’t repeat this’. How bright is that? Even if the confidence is kept, God has heard every word we spoke…and it is on the record!
June 23, 2010
I’ve been involved in some organizations where the Past President stays on the board for the coming year to add continuity to the group. It’s a nice gesture and in a sense it also helps the outgoing leader adjust to his new role of having less authority and official respect. In the arena of elected officials it’s somewhat shocking and yet humorous, at how quickly people are shuttled into and out of office. The phone starts ringing the day you’re sworn into office and abruptly stops the day your term is over. Paul reminds us about our temporary positions in life, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3 NIV)
June 22, 2010
It’s interesting that we seem to have a different standard for growing the church in the US than we have for growing it in a foreign country. On the mission field we want to plant as many churches as possible, but when it comes to the American church our business and marketing juices kick in. We think in terms of expanding churches rather than planting them. Certainly God’s kingdom can grow in either case, but I sometimes wonder if by building big churches we’ve somehow missed the big picture.
June 21, 2010
I have a family member with a very long memory when it comes to slights, grudges and vendettas. I can’t imagine how much time and effort it takes to mentally file away all those perceived injustices, let alone the ability to retrieve them at every opportunity. Recently I came across an associate who has a similar personality, but a different filing system. She records infractions by others in a little black book - person, date, time and place. I suppose that’s one way to compensate for having a short term memory. Love… “It is not rude, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor 13:5 NIV)
June 18, 2010
My son is allergic to shellfish, my grandson to peanuts and my daughter to wheat. Add to that, at any one time two or more in the family are always dieting…and none of us choose to be on the same diet. It’s a cook’s nightmare because it seems impossible to meet everyone’s needs. I think God had the right idea to put manna on the menu during the 40 years in the wilderness.
June 17, 2010
Amongst believers I’ve heard criticism that when someone is in need we should do more than simply offer to pray for them. I’m sure the intent is meant to say that actions speak louder than words; however I think we need to be cautious with that train of thought. Prayer is powerful, but if we imply to one another that it is just a token gesture, then we devalue its worth. Jesus chose prayer over action with Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NIV)
June 16, 2010
For many grocery shoppers the harvest season loses its impact because most foods are always available. I recently learned that in Afghanistan the end of the harvest season is simply the beginning of the fighting season. For these folks once the work of the harvest is completed they pick up their weapons and return to the battle field. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” (Ecc 3:1 NIV)
June 15, 2010
The best way to stop a discussion on immigration is for someone to toss in the ‘racial profiling’ remark. Something similar happens in the church. When we talk about one another’s spiritual characteristics invariably someone will toss in a cautionary ‘thou shalt not judge’ and thus ends discussion. The truth is that the Bible offers spiritual profiles on believers, as well as unbelievers. “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” (Matt 24:24 NIV)
June 14, 2010
I’m still on the prayer chain of XYZ Church and I appreciate being able to remain connected to them in a prayerful way. When a recent email request came through, my eyes were drawn to the list of addressees and I discovered that more than half of those on the list were no longer affiliated with that church. While a few had moved out of town, others had moved to various local congregations in the community. I love the fact that even though we no longer physically worship together, we can still be brought together by a call to worship in prayer.
June 11, 2010
When my kids were eligible to drive I taught them my version of defensive driving, ‘Always expect the other guy to do something stupid.’ Recently as I was preparing to turn right on a red light, I had to pull out a little into the crosswalk to see around the cars waiting for the green light. From out of nowhere a man in an electric scooter whizzed past my bumper and up onto the sidewalk. It was a close enough call that I immediately began thanking God for my guardian angel. It dawned on me that conceivably there were actually two guardian angels…one for me and one for my wheelchair bound friend. “When did we see you…” Matt 25:37-38
June 10, 2010
I just discovered a couple of unopened emails that dated back to March. Both messages were partly scrambled and the ‘sent from’ names were not the names of the sender. Obviously Bresnan and/or Outlook had a glitch. I emailed the senders, explaining and apologizing for the three month delay in responding. I can imagine the possibility that when I die I’m going to discover that my heavenly email account has more than a few unopened messages from the Holy Spirit.
June 09, 2010
Last week I had some really stressful meetings and I kept replaying them in my head during Sunday morning worship. My thoughts wandered away during the singing, were unfocused through communion and were distracted by side trips during the sermon. I have to give the Spirit credit for trying to get my attention…more than once He called me Martha. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (Luke 10:41 NIV)
June 08, 2010
My Sunday School class is doing a video series about the exodus of the Israelites. Our trek had us wandering around in the dessert for 40 years and we’re just now entering the Promised Land. Scripture is pretty plain that the dessert experience was a time of testing for the Hebrews, however the narrator went a step further and had us consider how the Israelites were strengthened because of the experience. I’m always relieved to have survived a personal dessert trial, but I had not thought about the strength I’ve picked up along the way.
June 07, 2010
I had a pew partner, a lifelong believer, who is suffering from dementia. As the communion emblems were passed he took the bread and ate it and then took the cup. Similar to sipping tea, he sipped the grape juice by putting it to his lips and then moving it away. Each time he moved it away he looked at the juice that remained. Somehow he just couldn’t manage to either tilt his head back or tip his wrist so that he could fully drink the juice. Patiently and quietly his wife tried to get him to just return the cup to the tray and pass it on, however he was focused on finishing the juice. Often the emblems are quickly passed from person to person with no thought that every drop of the Lord’s blood is precious…His cup was indeed emptied for us.
June 04, 2010
Since I want to be a better writer, I take every opportunity to learn more about the craft. However I now have to get educated in areas for which I have no natural interest. For instance my Airport Advisory Board has me learning about enplanements and fuel loads. My NIMS class, through FEMA, is trying to prepare me for disasters. And the Economic Development folks are teaching me how to package and sell our community to prospective businesses. I often must lean on the understanding of others until I’m comfortably educated and feel confident in being able to converse and make correct decisions. It sounds remarkably similar to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
June 03, 2010
A comedian gets me to laugh or a teacher causes me to learn, but I’ve never understood what I’m supposed to get from a presenter that oozes sweetness. What I find remarkable is that the only place I’ve encountered such affliction is within the church setting. Whether it is a television evangelist or a retreat speaker, it’s as though they think dramatizing their words will produce an emotional response. For many of us the results are just the opposite. When a speaker forces a sigh or a sob that fail to come from the heart, it is merely sugar coated hypocrisy.
June 02, 2010
My husband is the middle child of three brothers very close in age. During their teens and pre-teens, the youngest brother Jim got mad at the other two and decided to run away from home. Bill said, “Ray and I just parroted back what we’d always heard Dad say…‘let me help you pack’.” Sure enough Jim ran away and walked over 15 miles before a family friend (State Patrolman) found him and brought him home. Obviously in this case egging Jim on by offering to help him pack was no help at all. However, in the believer’s world there is merit in being able to know and repeat back what the Father says. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4 ESV)
June 01, 2010
I just had arthroscopic surgery done on a knee. I’ve discovered that by favoring the knee that was operated on, I’m developing aches and pains other parts of my body. My back is strained, the left hip is rebelling from carrying more weight and the right foot is weary of having to be the first foot forward. Paul compares the church body to the human body. I can attest, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Cor 12:26a NIV)
May 31, 2010
While all Veterans have given a ‘portion’ of their life in the service of their country, in battle many have actually given their life. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16 ESV)
May 28, 2010
When I think about Jesus picking up the basketfuls of broken pieces of loaves and fish after the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000, I’m reminded that He also picks up the broken pieces of our lives. After a crisis is over many of us move on with the busyness of life and often forget what the Lord has brought us through. As Jesus was trying to warn the disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, they had forgotten the lesson of the leftover loaves and fish. To their forgetfulness Jesus said, “Oh you of little faith…” (Matt 16:3-12)
May 27, 2010
There are many references in Scripture to being both physically and spiritually blind. When those who were physically blind came to Jesus their request was, “Lord, I want my sight.” The Pharisees on the other hand were spiritually blind didn’t even know well enough to ask for their sight. Growing as believer I know I still have a certain level of immaturity in some areas of my walk. I know I may not always see perfectly well, however it’s never crossed my mind that in some instances I could be spiritually blind. I might do well to begin my day by saying, “Lord, I want my sight.”
May 26, 2010
On Mother’s Day I went to a tea at the nursing home and one of the residents, an elderly woman sat at the table across the way. She had a beautiful long stemmed red rose and while waiting for the tea to be served she began one by one pulling the delicate petals off the bud. She felt the texture and closely examined the rich red color…both front and back. By the time the aide noticed Miss Dorothy’s dissection, it was too late. All that remained was a pile of petals, a green thorny stem and a few flakes of yellow pollen. I too got a rose and brought it home and put it in a vase, but it never opened. The bud soon drooped on the stem, turned black-red and then shriveled up. Somehow I think Miss Dorothy enjoyed her rose so much more. “To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life…” (2Cor 2:16a NIV)