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)