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)