November 30, 2010
Around the end of the year many blood banks have a shortage of blood because donors seem to take a holiday of sorts from their regular donating. During a recent request for donors a doctor described donated blood as a ‘gift of life’. For the believer the donated blood of Christ truly is the Gift of Life. "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Heb 9:14 NIV)
November 29, 2010
The mothers of two young graffiti artist who used my newly poured cement driveway as their canvas are interesting opposites. One mother immediately brought her daughter to meet me and have the daughter apologize. I talked to the other mother on the phone and she said that she too would be bringing her daughter back to apologize…but she didn’t. In the Parable of the Two Sons a father asked his sons to go work in the vineyard. The first son said, “I will not,” but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (Matt 21:28-32 NIV)
November 26, 2010
Six-year old Lydia had a hard time settling down for bed and kept coming up with excuses for getting mom or dad to come to her bedroom. After the third call her mom took her time going into the bedroom where she found Lydia sobbing. Finally able to choke back tears Lydia said, “I forgot what I wanted to tell you!” I can so relate to Lydia’s frustration. After signing off my prayers with ‘Amen’, I often have to reopen communication with God saying, ‘I forgot what I wanted to tell you!’ “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." (Psalm 17:6 NIV)
November 25, 2010
The world has a way of redirecting our holidays and Thanksgiving has not been spared. According to Webster’s, thanksgiving is, “the act of giving thanks, a prayer expressing gratitude, a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness – Thanksgiving Day. Example: They sang a hymn of thanksgiving.” The world today would have us emphasize the ‘giving’, rather than the ‘thanks’. We are encouraged to fill community pantries, donate to soup kitchens and help fill a box of groceries for a family in need. Those are all commendable actions, but by our donating to a cause we, rather than God, become the ones getting thanked. God needs to hear our thanksgiving for what we ourselves have received.
November 24, 2010
We have a local military Honor Guard who performs duties associated with Veteran’s funerals. The Sergeant responsible for the services recently told me that his father passed away this year and now memorial services are more difficult emotionally as he can’t help but think about his dad. I was reminded of those responsible for crucifixions and the duties of putting men on the cross and then removing the bodies…especially the impact to those who physically participated in the crucifixion of Jesus.
November 23, 2010
Our City is a home rule municipality with a Council-Manager form of government. The Council members are elected officials who set policy. The City Manager is hired to administratively carry out the policy set by the Council. However, there are times when the line is blurred. Every once in a while the policy setters slip into micromanaging and try to give instructions on how to carry out policy. We Christians do something similar when we forget that God is the Policy Maker. Believers, as well as Jesus, are charged with carrying out policy. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 NIV)
November 22, 2010
I like this quote from Winston Churchill, “Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics - many times.” Those of us living on the religious landscape can also look back on our lives and remember feeling spiritually killed on more than a few occasions. For many, a church split qualifies as a near death experience. Even though it sometimes feels like it, we really don’t die spiritually, however there is a lot of walking wounded in our midst. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28 NIV)
November 19, 2010
Confessing sins doesn’t come naturally. Most of us can eventually bring ourselves to confess to the Lord, to our spouse, or to a parent. However, we’re definitely resistant to James’ instruction, “…confess your sins to each other.” (James 5:16 NIV) Not only do we not readily confess to one another, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked to hear the confession of another. Our Catholic friends may have a certain level of comfort in that they can have confession in a box, but I have to give them credit, at least they have made an attempt to highlight the need for confession.
November 18, 2010
The NIV footnote on Luke 10:31-33 states that the Jews viewed the Samaritans as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. Today’s PC Police (Politically Correct) would be indignant at using such a physical description, but I doubt they’d object to its use to describe spiritually. I tried to think who might fall into the category of a spiritual half-breed – someone who mixed Christianity with New Age, someone who obeys only selected parts of Scripture, or maybe someone who goes to church but never accepted Christ. I suppose from a practicing Jew’s perspective, all of us who believe that both the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, would be considered half-breeds.
November 17, 2010
I’ve never been happy with retailers pushing Christmas forward to extend the shopping season in order to make more money. This year Christmas decorations were selling even before Halloween was over. It’s just dawned on me that maybe my angst is wrong. Maybe I should be embracing the extended Holiday season. Retailers have lengthened the Christmas season, which includes the public display of Jesus, from 30 to 60 days…something believers could never have accomplished. God does have a way of taking bad situations that we think are bad and making them good. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done...” (Gen 50:20 NIV)
November 16, 2010
I have an interest in public speaking so I’m a member of Toastmasters and have gone to conferences and taken classes to improve my presentations. I find it interesting that with all the training and instruction I’ve received, not one time has anyone ever suggested that to be a good speaker I need to have love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor 13:1NIV)
November 15, 2010
One of the things funerals have in common, is they are usually orchestrated by the funeral director and his staff. First you are shown where to sign the memorial book and then you are led to your seat. Once the service is over you’re dismissed row by row to walk past the open casket. You then reverently stand around waiting for the family to finish their goodbyes to their loved one so that you can offer your condolences. Last Friday we had a funeral at our church and one lady later told me, “I really liked that service. It was good and it reminded me of the wakes they used to have years ago.” Although there are many physical characteristics in our building that make people feel comfortable, the lack of organized control is what lets people come together. Rather than exiting in single file, our pastor simply announces, “You’re dismissed.” People immediately start milling around visiting, while others filter past the casket…or not. It’s interesting that even though the deceased is still in the room, it’s the living that becomes the focal point of the gathering.
November 12, 2010
I’m a fan of the CBS TV show the Amazing Race. In a recent segment two teams violated the rules by taking a taxi to their next destination rather than walking. Standing at the Pit-Stop ready to be checked in each team learned that they would incur 30 minute penalties. Host Phil Keogham asked each team, “Didn’t you read the clue?” Whether it is the early disciples, believers today or even non-believers, I can just picture Jesus asking, ‘Didn’t you read the clues?’
November 11, 2010
I’m more than a little grateful the contractor was able to repair the damage done in the cement. Had the girl’s last names been permanently incased in my driveway I’d have been irked every time I saw it. The old adage to ‘forgive and forget’ is so much easier to accomplish when there isn’t a constant reminder around.
November 10, 2010
I wrote down their names, their mother’s names as well as their phone numbers and I assured the girls I would be calling. Within half an hour one mother and her daughter returned to our house with a profound apology and I give kudos to both the mother and daughter for taking responsibility. As for the other mother, I left a voice mail asking her to call me, but when she didn’t return my call, I called her again. This mother was totally unaware of the situation and seemed agitated as I explained what had transpired. It was revealed that not only was the mother not told, the child also erased the voice mail from her mother’s phone. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13 NIV)
November 09, 2010
At the same time as I was confronting the young graffiti artists our contractor came by and was able to repair the damage to the cement. However I have a real distaste for being lied to and I wasn’t going to let this go with a, ‘see that you don’t do this again’ speech. The attitude of one of the girls was particularly defiant and she seemed think she could argue herself out of the situation. ‘I don’t want to get in trouble with my mom. I’m sorry. Do I have to pay for it? Look, I just said I’m sorry!’ Although she was combative, I had to stifle a laugh at one of the lines of her defense, “I couldn’t help it. It was just such a temptation!” I didn’t buy her excuse, but it reminded me that God doesn’t buy my temptation excuses either.
November 08, 2010
We just spent $3,000 having a new cement driveway poured and two young, middle school girls on their way home from school decided to leave me their autograph. Thankfully my visitor at the time looked out the window and alerted me to what had happened and I caught up with the young ladies half a block away. They were scared when I confronted them and one of the girls not only denied their involvement, but accused some imaginary students across the street of being the culprits. The evidence however was indisputable. Not only was there a witness, but each of the girls had written their own last name. Spiritually speaking, when we sin we often think we can get away with it. The reality is that our name and our fingerprints are all over the sins we commit.
November 05, 2010
Recently I attended an event that recognizes special needs folks and one of the honorees was a man I’ve known for many years. When I went to speak to him before the program I couldn’t help but admire the huge gold medal hanging around his neck. I assumed he’d been in the Special Olympics and I wanted to give him an opportunity to boast about his accomplishment so I asked where he got his medal. Beaming with pride Clayton said, “Bought it at a yard sale!” Have you ever noticed that God sometimes gives us the victory before we’ve even run the race?
November 04, 2010
As a youngster I admired people who were so familiar with their Bible that they could flip to any book or chapter with ease. I remember the competition of sword drills to see who could find a verse the quickest and it was especially gratifying when the kids beat the adults. As an adult I’m no longer roaming back and forth between the various books of the Bible and I’ve either forgotten where some of them are located, or I have to stop and mentally recite the list. Certainly pride has kept me from wanting to look in the index or carry a tabbed Bible. However, my new Bible continues to drive me nuts. It’s not broken in, the pages are stuck together and by the time I find the Scripture the preacher is talking about he has already moved on to another verse. Last week in frustration I put index tabs on my Bible. You gotta know that the Spirit just loves chipping away at our pride. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)
November 03, 2010
During my bedtime prayers I routinely ask the Lord to put a hedge of protection around my house so that Satan and his minions might not enter in and disturb my sleep. A few weeks ago I heard Michelle Obama stumping on the campaign trail and she solicited spiritual intervention from the audience. I feel certain she meant to ask that evil, unclean spirits be kept from being around the campaign, however what she actually said was to, “Keep the spirits clean around us.”
November 02, 2010
In the spring of A.D. 30 two candidates stood before governor Pilate and he asked the crowd, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” And the crowd voted, “Barabbas.” (Matt 27:16-21) As tragic as that election was, we would not have wanted the results to have gone any other way. In the end, our Candidate won.
November 01, 2010
Recently in a phone conversation I was asked if I were a minister at my church. While I was laughing at such a suggestion, I could almost feel the heavenly saints of the Christian Church/Church of Christ sucking air. We just don’t have women preachers in our denomination...that is unless some have crept in when I wasn’t looking. I remember as a teen that the first Scripture I memorized and took ownership of was, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 KJV) Though it’s flattering to be mistaken for a minister, I still continue to be just a student of the Bible.