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.'