March 31, 2010
Sometimes in the church our serving is stifled because we’re waiting for someone to give us an assignment or to give us authority to proceed. For better or worse, part of my make-up is the need to get permission before I do something. I want to know that if someone asks, “Who told you that you could do that?” I can refer them to a higher authority. Jesus was teaching in the temple courts when the chief priests and the elders came to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matt 21:23 NIV)
March 30, 2010
Most of us put little stock in the fortunes that come out of a fortune cookie, but I like to play a mental game with them to see if the sentiment is Biblically sound. A few months ago I had one that said, “For light, go directly to the source of the light, not any reflections.” I thought I could make a spiritual application, because even though we reflect the Lord’s glory, that reflection comes from the Lord – the Light. (2 Cor 3:18) My most recent fortune cookie however, has left me no spiritual connection. It reads, “Oops… Wrong cookie.”
March 29, 2010
On one of the boards that I serve there is a vacancy, so the current members are reading resumes from folks who’d like to serve with us. It’s surprising how many applicants subtly, and some not so subtly, reveal a bias toward the group they want to join. They’ll highlight what they perceive to be flaws and then proceed to tell you how they can fix the organization once they are appointed to the position. We do something similar in the church when we tell others that we know what is best when it comes to music, the sermon, or serving. It doesn’t hurt for us to be reminded that, “…in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Cor 12:18 NIV)
March 26, 2010
There are some people and organizations in my community that have a lot of axes to grind, especially with each other. I’m thinking someone should create a bury-the-hatchet cemetery. The world doesn’t have to kiss and make up, but as believers the Lord calls upon us to turn the other cheek or do unto others or love your neighbor…
March 25, 2010
When I became a believer I knew there were spiritual battles to be fought, but I suppose I thought in terms of fighting a few rounds here and there. Perhaps running the occasional race or following a graph of maturing faith as it inches its way up. Obviously I was thinking in spurts, rather than lifetime achievement. Paul looks back over his 30 years as an apostle saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7 NIV) I rejoice over folks who come to the Lord in their latter years, but I am really heartened by those who can look back on their life knowing that they fought the good fight.
March 24, 2010
A slim young woman who goes to my fitness center appears to have debilitating rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, feet and possibly her hips. Now I know when we get ‘stove-up’ that the doctor recommends we keep on moving because if we sit and do nothing we’ll be in worse shape. However this woman does more than just try to keep moving. She arrives early in the morning, uses the few apparatuses that she can manage, and does a flurry of partial sit-ups that most able bodied people wouldn’t do. Because of her exercise regiment, I’m giving more thought to the invalid by the pool at Bethesda. You’d think that an invalid of 38 years would at least try to keep on moving to keep his strength up. It seems fitting that Jesus would ask him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-8).
March 23, 2010
I recently visited with a lady who wants to be a professional speaker, but she’s just so busy that she doesn’t have time to write a speech. Actually she admitted that she doesn’t care to write speeches at all and she’d like to find someone to do the writing for her. I think I see a similar thought process with Moses. Inexperienced, young (relatively speaking), and untrained in leadership, Moses avenged a fellow Israelite by killing an Egyptian and he “…thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” (Acts 7:25 NIV) Rather than receiving the title of ‘rescuer’, he fled to Midian and lived in that dry and desolate place for 40 years. I think Moses had to do an apprenticeship in the wilderness before God was ready to appoint him as the one to deliver Israel.
March 22, 2010
My son and daughter-in-law were doing their family Bible Study and the text happened to be on the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3). Though Troy didn’t want to gloss over the term, he also wanted to choose his words carefully in explaining it to his young children. Before he could form his thoughts six year-old David said, “Oh, I know what it means. Adult - tell - ree…It’s when an adult has something they want to tell you.” You’ve just got to love childhood innocence. The apostle Paul says, “…I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Ro 16:19b NIV)
March 19, 2010
I just had an extreme make-over on my hair and I’m trying to cope with a new look. Last Sunday it was obvious that a few men didn’t quite know what to say. I relieved their awkwardness by joking that until I become competent with fixing my new hairdo, it may appear that I’ve put my finger into a light socket. Because I don’t yet have a sense of what I look like, every time I pass a mirror I look at myself. It gives me a whole new appreciation for James’ observation, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24 NIV)
March 18, 2010
Our Sunday School class has been studying the parable of the prodigal son and we’ve had some interesting discussion from well seasoned believers. One class member stated, “It’s harder for me to forgive a fellow believer than it is to forgive an unbeliever.” Another commented, “Love your enemies…you made them!” I chimed in, “It’s easier for me to forgive someone who sinned against my neighbor than it is to forgive someone who sins against me.” I love the fact that we can honestly and openly share our weakness with one another. Believer, unbeliever, enemy or neighbor... “Forgiveness isn’t earned…it’s given.”
March 17, 2010
I used to get frustrated with the commentary notes in my Bible that failed to comment on my verse of interest. Or, when they did comment they might give you something inconclusive and offer a couple of different interpretations. John 3:34 is one of those instances. “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (NIV) Some think it is Jesus alone that was given the Spirit without limit, while others argue that Christ gives the Spirit to believers without limit. We know that the Spirit lives within the believer (Romans 8:11). To me it seems reasonable to think that the Spirit is only hindered by the self-imposed limits we put on ourselves.
March 16, 2010
We recently had a huge rockslide in Glenwood Canyon that closed I-70 for a few days and the interstate is now down to single lane traffic. In one place there is a 10 by 20 foot hole punched through the upper deck of the highway. As CDOT workers and experts assessed the damage they had one eye on the road and the other eye on the canyon wall searching for more unstable rocks. I’m not sure how you’d get out of the way of a boulder even if you saw it coming. One driver who’d gone through the canyon 90 minutes before the rockslide breathed a grateful sigh of relief that no one was injured. If the report is correct, this same man had survived a bolder hitting his car 2004, an incident which took his wife’s life. It’s frightening to think about rocks falling on you and yet John writes, “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Rev 6:15-16 ESV) Apparently these folks would rather take their chances with falling rocks than with the returning Christ.
March 15, 2010
For the next few days many of us will be going around comparing the old time with the new time. We know what the clock says, but is it 9:00 am or is it actually 8:00 am disguising itself as 9:00 am. Referencing his return Jesus said, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33 ESV) I can just see the Lord returning on one of the days we ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back’.
March 12, 2010
During last week’s communion I took the emblems and then passed the tray on down the row. It came to an older gentleman, one who is having a few memory issues. He took the bread and ate it, then he took the cup and drank it saying, “There’s nothing in there…it’s empty.” Obviously, he mistakenly picked up a cup that had already been consumed by someone else. His wife then helped him get an untouched cup from the tray. I thought about the emblems; the bread represent’s the Lord’s body and the juice His shed blood. Imagine what it would mean for us today if the Lord’s cup truly was empty. “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb 9:22 ESV)
March 11, 2010
It’s not unusual for our eyes to lose depth perception as we get older, but generally speaking our perception of one another’s character gets better with age. Where we might use life experiences in measuring another’s character, God has a unique way of determining the depth of our spiritual character. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12 ESV) I suppose some believers actually neglect the word of God in hopes of avoiding the spiritual autopsy.
March 10, 2010
I met a man who is a self-described land conservation activist. I’ve always found it strange that preserving a wilderness area often means that very few can enjoy what is preserved. God created His model of conservation when He put Adam in the Garden of Eden to care for it. Certainly conservationists might argue that they too are taking care of the land by making laws restricting access to the general population. Today’s environmentalist would certainly protect the garden by banning Adam and Eve. Oh wait…that’s exactly where they found themselves because they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
March 09, 2010
During a TV interview a zealous politician was asked about his political involvements during the 1990’s and he said, “Well, I think at that time I was politically asleep.” I hate to admit it, but I can relate to his self-examination on more than one level. There are times believers are spiritually asleep and we fail to expose unfruitful works of darkness. Paul says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 514b ESV). Of course then there are those folks who are only half awake and just pull the covers up over their head when the Lord shines on them.
March 08, 2010
It’s not unusual to have discussion in Sunday School where someone will interject a little tidbit they learned while doing their own devotions or Bible Study. While those ah-ha moments are exciting for us, others don’t always share our enthusiasm. They may understand what we’re saying, but the Spirit is just not giving them the same ah-ha. Jesus taught in parables and it reminds me when Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” (Luke 12:41NIV) A similar thought comes to mind, ‘Lord, is this ah-ha just for me, or is it for others too?’
March 05, 2010
Within less than a week of each other, I had meetings in both Denver and Washington DC. In packing my bags I tried to think of all the contingencies - weather, lost luggage, delayed flights. I couldn’t fathom taking either of these trips with only the clothes on my back, no itinerary and no purse…although it would have been a breeze to get through security checks. When Jesus sent the Twelve out to preach, teach and heal he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Luke 9:3 ESV) It sounds to me like the Lord sent them out to play a game of Evangelistic Survivor.
March 04, 2010
With upcoming elections starting to heat up, I recently read an anonymous blog, where a constituent blasted a former elected official saying, “What did Representative Doe ever do for us in his previous term?” Although I can’t say that I really remember Doe’s accomplishments, I do think he could respond, “I didn’t sell you out.” Often men and women of integrity are the ones who, in the eyes of the world, seem to accomplish the least. When Jesus was before Pilate the people shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I think I can also hear the world saying, “What has this Jesus ever done for us?” Jesus didn’t sell us out; rather He bought us for a price.
March 03, 2010
I think the upcoming Census will put the population in my community somewhere around 18,000. It’s interesting that Peter’s sermon at Pentecost was so motivating that “…those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41ESV) If Peter preached in my town today it would mean that over 16% of the current population would come to the Lord. Can you imagine the impact of living in community like that?
March 02, 2010
Often evangelistic efforts focus on telling unbelievers what Jesus can do for them…forgive sins, salvation, caring burdens. When you think about it, it’s somewhat presumptuous of us to try and quantify the things the Lord will do for others. When Jesus healed the possessed man from the demons known as Legion, the Lord sent him on his way with the instructions, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39 ESV) I think it’s interesting that in this instance the preferred means of evangelism was not to serve up a sampler plate of what the Lord can do for others, but to simply give a personal testimony.
March 01, 2010
Our local newspaper just reported on a father and son finding each other through Facebook after 25 years of separation. As I read the story, a modern day parable of the Prodigal Son unfolded. The father reacted to the end of his 25 year search, “My jaw hit the floor, and I was wondering if I would ever find him. I would look at that [picture] and think about him all the time.” When the father first saw a picture of his son on the computer he pointed to the screen and screamed, “There you are! My heart was so full of joy…” The son’s message to the father was, “Are you really my dad?” and he responded “Yes!” I can imagine those who’ve been estranged from God returning to Him saying, “Are you really my dad?” and He answers, “Yes!”