February 26, 2010
I really like the new CBS reality series Undercover Boss, where a disguised CEO goes into his own company to discover the good, the bad and the ugly. Unsuspecting front-line employees interact with the incognito CEO and all involved are surprised by what is revealed. Actually, the concept for the show isn’t new. For believers it’s always been a part of our reality. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Heb 13:2 ESV)
February 25, 2010
Speaking from a personal point of view there are times we need to remain neutral, such as not picking sides in a family squabble. However, some of us try to take this same neutrality unto our spiritual life where we equate being non-committal to being non-judgmental. Our pride in neutrality doesn't stand up to Scriptural truth...Jesus is pretty narrow-minded when it comes to the narrow gate. "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Luke 11:23 ESV)
February 24, 2010
I recently had a lengthy conversation with a man that avoided eye contact and only occasionally looked at me. We certainly understood the words we were saying to one another, but I can’t say that we saw eye to eye, because I couldn’t see his eyes. It really was disconcerting. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body…” (Luke 11:34a ESV) and my Bible footnote on this verse says, “An eye that is healthy describes a spiritually healthy way of looking at things.” Turning that thought around, I wonder if those looking into our eyes can see our spiritual health.
February 23, 2010
Bill and I ate at the Red Robin Restaurant in a neighboring town the other day and my mushroom-Swiss burger was more than I could eat. Leftovers aren’t as good as the original meal, so when I microwaved the half-burger it was a bit blah. The bun became soggy, the aroma was nonexistent and the ambiance was missing. I started to bless my carryout and it occurred to me, this thing had already been blessed once. Did it need to be blessed again? Did it even deserve another blessing? Remembering there were a total of 19 basketfuls of leftovers from feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 I decided that it’s entirely possible someone re-blessed them before redistribution. (Mark 8:17-21) A double blessed burger couldn’t hurt.
February 22, 2010
I have a friend who is incredibly gifted in carving and his finished pieces sell for a handsome sum. I am in awe of his craftsmanship; that is until he starts talking about his creation. It’s then that the beauty before me becomes smeared with ego, draped with pride and flawed with boasting. It makes me think about going to a museum and spending hours appreciating the old masters. Maybe we should be glad those artists aren’t alive and standing beside their work explaining every stroke of the brush. It strikes me that our craft of serving in the Kingdom just might be held in higher regard if we too would simply remove ourselves and let the work be appreciated on its own merits.
February 19, 2010
Because of the high volume of traffic on Main Street, many businesses have a hard time keeping their sidewalks clean from dirt and litter. I’ve noticed that some proprietors just give up and turn the maintenance over to Mother Nature. One of our local churches relocated to Main Street and last Saturday I watched an elderly woman sweeping the sidewalk, gutter and the parking spaces adjacent to their front door. Because of her age and the way she was dressed I assume she was a volunteer rather than the janitor. Her cleaning might easily be undone before the next day’s service and will likely go unnoticed by others as they hurry into worship, but it was not done in vain. I felt a rush of appreciation for her efforts on behalf of her church and on behalf of the Lord.
February 18, 2010
A friend had an old 1981 Ford truck whose only function was to haul trash. When he no longer needed the truck and was unable to sell it, he gave it to Bill. It has four-wheel drive and a massive front bumper capable of taking on elk if necessary, but it also has almost 200,000 miles and it really is an ugly truck. The paint is dying, the quarter panels are rusting out and the dashboard is cracked and crumbling. Early this winter a tree branch broke off and dented the top edge of the bed, but we weren’t upset. In fact we laughed about it. The new dent just seemed to add more character to the poor thing. I think believers have something in common that old truck. The longer we’re in service to the Lord the more battle scars we’ll wear…and the new dents just add to our spiritual character.
February 17, 2010
As we’ve remodeled a restaurant/bar into our church, I’ve made it a point to encourage curious folks to come for a worship-visit or to just drop by and check out the facility. In the Children’s Activity area we have tables and chairs where families can sit together and kids can color or read books during the service. Shortly after we opened the building up for worship a young family came in that we didn’t know. Bill welcomed them, gave them a bulletin and showed them our seating arrangement. The dad was a little red-faced and appeared to be upset. Bill wondered if maybe they had a spat while coming to church, or he could even be irritated at having been drug to church. Before we even finished the first hymn the family shot out of their seats and left the building. Was it something we said, the song we were singing, could someone have offended them? Not knowing what caused them to exit so abruptly always worried Bill, that is until one of the other elders said, “Oh, I just think they just probably thought they were coming to a restaurant for breakfast.”
February 16, 2010
I just read where the Presbyterian Church USA has taken yet another poll, this time on the church’s statement of faith. The poll, according to the AP, says that one in three members think there is some wiggle room for non-Christians to get into heaven. I can’t imagine believers taking a poll on the clearly stated issue of salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 4:16 ESV) Jesus has a warning for individuals, but I think it’s also applicable for churches and denominations. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man [or denomination] through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7 NIV) Emphasis added mine.
February 15, 2010
Last Friday afternoon a young man was the first person to be baptized at our new facility and the first to one use the new baptistery. February 12th, the date of his baptism, also happens to be his Birthday. He said, “I’m being re-born on my Birthday.” How cool is that!
February 12, 2010
I forwarded an email with my added comments to a co-worker and only after hitting send did I realize I’d actually hit reply rather than forward. No harm, no foul…this time, but I can see how easily you can get yourself in a predicament when you’re not attentive to your messaging. Much of our communication today is done electronically and for many it is their way of speaking to one another. Although James is referring to hearing and doing the Word, I think his instruction also has application to my emailing. “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” And slow to hit send! (James 1:19 ESV)
February 11, 2010
It’s interesting how two people can hear the same sermon and each leave with a different take-away. Similarly, a friend mentioned a meeting where two people told her differing accounts of the same event. “It’s like they were at two totally different meetings.” Today’s journalists don’t agree even when they’re reporting the news…and that’s with the cameras is rolling. It makes it all the more profound that the four Gospel writers are in almost complete agreement with what they saw, heard and recorded. What are the odds of that?
February 10, 2010
I’ve just started reading Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue and it looks like I’ll be learning a lot about Alaska. In her book she relates a lesson from her softball coach and I’m glad she passed it on to her readers. Sarah describes herself as a weak softball player so catching a fly ball was an opportunity for celebration and rejoicing. The coach yelled, “That’s what you’re supposed to do girl! Quit acting surprised when you do what you’re put there to do!” We believers often bathe ourselves in surprised when we see what the Spirit accomplishes through us. I can imaging the Lord saying, ‘Quit acting surprised when you do what you’re put here to do!’
February 09, 2010
Last weekend our family got together at a local hotel for a mini-reunion. It was nice that we had the swimming pool all to ourselves so the littlest cousins could enjoy one another. Mikayla, my 10 year-old niece, is severely autistic and because of a birth defect is missing the left side of her brain. With her life vest on, Mikayla started to get in the pool and then changed her mind and headed for the hot tub. Coming up behind her, her daddy scooped her up in his arms, made her into a human canon ball and then pitched her into the middle of the pool. I was glad we were the only ones there because an observer could have easily jumped to the wrong conclusion and misunderstood. Mikayla came up smiling, paddled to the steps, got out of the pool and undeterred, headed for the hot tub. I have a mental image of the Father making sure we have our life vest on before He scoops us up in His arms and tosses us into the world.
February 08, 2010
Why is it so hard in some situations but not others to correct someone when they take the Lord’s name in vain? Sometime back Leslie was wearing a pair of fuzzy knitted socks, which were great for inside the house, but treacherous on the stairs. With only three steps to go before she reached the foyer both feet slipped out from under her and she landed with a corner of the stairs poking into her back. Sliding the down the remaining stairs, she twisted around and came to rest face down at the bottom. For a few seconds she didn’t say anything and then her groans of pain mixed with my thoughts about whether or not to call an ambulance. When she finally caught her breath, she was able to swear. I wasn’t about to interrupt her words of anguish…that is until she took the Lord’s name in vain. I tried to lasso her words and said, “Lord, she doesn’t mean that…She doesn’t know what she’s saying.” With her face still buried in the rug and sharp pain stabbing her in the back, she threatened, “Do not make me laugh…I’m dying here!”
February 05, 2010
The Colorado State Patrol recently arrested a young man and cited him with marijuana possession. His defense was that the marijuana is the, “main sacrament of his religion” and compares his pot use with the wine and the bread Christians use for communion. I had more than a few reactions – laughter, indignation, sadness. Then I asked myself, ‘How would Jesus react?’ The Lord might focus on the fact that the kid at least knew that the wine and the bread are sacraments.
February 04, 2010
In protestant churches when the preacher isn’t available a lay person comes forward to carry out the task. It appears that’s not the case for our Catholic friends, whose sacraments need to be performed by a priest. In the past, when someone was near death, the priest was summoned to perform deathbed rites. Because of a shortage of priests the once-obligatory deathbed rites have been replaced with a new sacrament known as anointing the sick. Folks are strongly encouraged to have the anointing of the sick before they go to the hospital…just in case.
February 03, 2010
I’m on a committee that is made up of predominantly senior citizens and the old adage about ‘teaching an old dog… ’ occasionally comes to mind. Often older folks believe they already know everything they need to know and what they don’t know…well, it just really isn’t worth learning. The Apostle Paul left young Titus in Crete with instructions not only to teach church leaders the gospel, but to “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self–controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance…teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live…” (Titus 2:2-3 NIV). Though I feel confident that I could teach the Word to the seniors in my committee, I can’t imagine trying to teach them temperance or self-control.
February 02, 2010
Our adult Sunday school class is watching a video series from Ray Vander Lann, Fire on the Mountain. When it comes to evaluating the value of a lesson or sermon, we all have our own standard of measurement. I think it’s safe to say it’s a good class because there’s lot of discussion and we’re increasing in attendance. However, what’s exciting is that this series is sending mature believers back to their Bibles to search out Scripture. One member reported, “I read those passages a hundred times and I’d never made the connection before.” We’re hearing a lot of ah-ha’s accompanying the mental light bulbs that are going on. Luke, in speaking about the Bereans, says, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV)
February 01, 2010
It’s interesting that no one even raises an eyebrow when Satan’s name creeps into today’s conversation. When looking at all sides of an issue someone in a group might think of a roadblock and say, ‘Let me play devil’s advocate...’ It’s an interesting thought that the devil might need, or even want an advocate. Because of Satan’s pride, he’s probably cringing at such a suggestion, or else laughing hysterically. We also have a tendency to ‘put the devil in the details’, giving him a place of importance and of course, he’s used as an excuse for our failings. Somehow I don’t think saying, ‘The devil made me do it…’ impresses anyone.