February 28, 2011
I have a friend who is heavily involved in multiple missions and he is very adept at making opportunities to boast about his accomplishments and sacrifices. Jesus said, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matt 6:2 NIV) I have visions of my friend checking over his heavenly accounts receivable spreadsheet and seeing: Gifts to the needy – rewarded in full, Visiting those in prisons – rewarded in full, Feeding the poor – rewarded in full.
February 25, 2011
The Obama administration is ending its defense of the 1996 law banning gay marriage saying they feel the law is unconstitutional. Our first reaction may be to get on our soapbox and cry foul, but quite honestly we’ll probably wring our hands, shrug our shoulders and look the other way. Sadly we in the church do something similar when we fail to come to the defense of Biblical commandments, instruction and direction.
February 24, 2011
My Grandma Belle was an outspoken Christian. Not only did you know where she stood, she would unequivocally tell you where you stood if you didn’t accept Jesus as you Lord and Savior. Grandma is now gone, but her son (my Uncle Joe) is facing death and quite honestly it’s not clear where he stands with the Lord. Some in the family expressed hope that someone will be able to reach him spiritually before it’s too late. I’m reminded of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his five brothers so that they would not wind up in the same place of torment. [My personalized paraphrase] Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, and Grandma Belle, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31 NIV)
February 23, 2011
Apparently the battery on my cell phone is dying because it refuses to hold a charge. A new one is on order and should arrive in the mail this week, but in the meantime the phone itself isn’t much use unless it’s connected to the charger. I can imagine the Spirit thinking something similar about some of us. Though the Sunday service helps refresh us for the week ahead, if we had to stay in the building being plugged into continual worship, we wouldn’t be of much use. Study in the Word allows me to go out into the world fully charged and with a renewed mind. “…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Ro 12:2b NIV)
February 22, 2011
Our Sunday school lesson last week began with the question, “Is it possible to carry one of God’s commands too far?” Apparently the addressees of the letter of 2 John were too generous and carried their hospitality to an extreme. John’s letter cautioned that they were being taken advantage of by traveling preachers. The next day during a segment on FOX News the religion reporter described some mainline churches offering their facilities to Muslims until they could build their mosque, ‘because it was the Christian thing to do’. Some of these churches have even removed their own religious icons so as not to offend the Muslims. To answer the teacher’s question, it does appear that we can carry the intent of God’s command too far.
February 21, 2011
The last couple of months we’ve gotten multiple phone calls from a foreigner telling us we had won a contest and we need to collect our winnings. We’ve asked them not to call again, hung up on them and even tried to block their blocked phone number…all to no avail. In last week’s mail we receive a check for $4,885, a portion of our $250,000 winnings. However before we collect the remainder we need to pay applicable government taxes in the amount of $2,985 to any Western Union in any convenience store. Having physical evidence of the scam I took the check, letter and the Canadian stamped envelope to the Police Department. Surprisingly the PD wasn’t too interested in the scam, but rather they wanted to know if I were a victim of the scam. We know that Satan uses temptation, trickery and deceit, but I can now hear God saying, “Yes Gail, but are you a victim?”
February 18, 2011
A second time visitor to church was already seated when he was confronted by an old-timer who informed him that the chair he was sitting in belonged to someone else. Putting myself in the visitor’s place I likely would have been offended, embarrassed or at the very least aggravated. However the visitor chose a Godly response. Taking everything in stride he overlooked the lack of manners and quietly took another seat. His gracious response was a good lesson for me. You never know when God might come along side of us and ask us to change seats.
February 17, 2011
Either I have been taught, or I’ve let others impress upon me, that if I were to judge another person, God would judge me according to the way I judged. For example, to keep God from condemning me, I should not condemn another. God will forgive me only if I forgive others. Rather than understanding the Scripture to be about my relationship to others, I’ve inserted God into the picture. What Jesus said was, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37-38 NIV) When I judge others, they can (and will) use the same criteria that I used when judging them. I need to wrap my head around the fact that I’m the one holding the measuring stick…not God.
February 16, 2011
In her column Ask Marilyn, Marilyn vos Savant says, “When we look at the stars we are viewing the past. If a star is a million light years away, we are observing the way it looked a million years ago, not the way it looks today.” It’s hard to contemplate that the star I see in the heavens today might actually be dead…that is until I think about Christ. Through Scripture, Jesus shines as brightly today as when He walked on earth.
February 15, 2011
Last Sunday the President of one of our Bible colleges was our speaker/preacher. During the Sunday school hour his presentation was interrupted at 9:38 am when his cell phone went off…a real faux pas I thought for a professional speaker. It was later during the sermon that he explained the significance. At a meeting of Bible college Presidents there was an emphasis on the need to be praying for the next generation of workers. It was suggested that as a reminder they could set the alarm on their cell phones to go off at 9:38 every day and at that moment to pray for a revival of the next generation. The Matthew 9:38 call to prayer, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
February 14, 2011
We have some political spin-doctors in our community who try to avoid detection by having others do their bidding. A letter to the editor is signed by Jane Doe, but in reality the words and thoughts of the letter are composed by stealth activist John Doe. I’m reminded of Jacob disguising himself to be Esau in order to get Isaac’s blessing. Even though their father Isaac was old and his eye sight weak he was suspicious. “Who is it? Are you really my son Esau? Come here my son and kiss me. Ah, the smell of my son…” (Gen 27 NIV) Ah, the smell of political deception…
February 11, 2011
Every once in awhile I’ll be around a person that I don’t see eye to eye with. When our attempts to win one another over fail, it often becomes a matter of agreeing to disagree. Believers are told to strive for unity, but apparently our differences can be very telling...if we know what to look for. Paul says, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” (1 Cor 11:19 NIV)
February 10, 2011
Growing up the term for homosexuality in my generation wasn’t gay, but rather queer. I’d never met anyone of that persuasion, so for me the term was simply a label, similar to what kids use today – geek, brainiac, or weirdo. It wasn’t until I was in a social gathering in the Navy that a young friend told me he was gay. At the time I totally missed the context…I thought he was trying to tell me he was happy. No doubt he felt liberated by revealing his lifestyle preference, but I felt sad. Once my eyes were opened, there were mannerisms that I’d never seen before. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Don’t ask, don’t tell…don’t always need to know.
February 09, 2011
Every week I interview a member of the congregation and then write a mini-biography about them for a newsletter. I try to capture the subject’s voice and I’m always pleased to hear others comment, “That sounds just like him/her.” I think believers do something similar when we are in fellowship and yet we hear the voice of Jesus woven into our fellowship. In the role of the Good Shepherd Jesus said, “…His sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4b NIV)
February 08, 2011
Our church has Communion every Sunday and in the past we’ve always passed two serving trays, the first one for the bread and the second for the juice. Recently the manufacturer of the trays devised a way to combine both the bread and the juice using only one tray. By placing a small round insert in the center of the tray to hold the bread, the juice cups can simply be arranged around the bread. Last Sunday Bill and I had a miscommunication as the tray was passed and he wound up drinking the juice and then eating the bread. I had whiplash of the head. It was just wrong – you’re supposed to take the bread and then the juice. Before the sermon started I picked up my Bible and turned to the Lord’s Supper and sure enough, the Lord passed the bread first and then the cup. Certainly there is no prohibition against reversing the order of the emblems, but personally I hate tampering with tradition.
February 07, 2011
Forgiveness doesn’t always come naturally. Even though I forgive someone, sometimes in the back of my mind there is the thought that God, in his own way, will still deal with the offender. Stephen, as he was being stoned, could have said to the rock-throwers, ‘I forgive you’. But he didn’t. Rather he cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60 NIV) Its one thing for us forgive someone who has sinned against us, it’s quite another to ask God to wipe the sinners slate clean and not hold them accountable for the sin.
February 04, 2011
Recently terrible flooding has been reported in various parts of the world. As I watch the rescue attempts on TV I’ve noticed that there is a significant difference between a lifeline and a life vest. With the lifeline someone will help pull and guide you to safety. However the life vest may simply keep you afloat so that you can try to save yourself. It’s interesting that when we are in the depths of despair many of us grab for the save-yourself life vest rather than going for the Lifeline that Jesus offers.
February 03, 2011
I just went through trying to disconnect my mom’s unwanted long distance phone service from a scrupulous carrier. This is not the first time it’s happened. Even though she is on a blocked-calls list, these representatives get through by claiming they represent Quest, her service provider. A simple phone call to the offending company (USBI) won’t work; you have to write letters of disputes for the charges and then because of their billing cycle being a month in arrears, it will be three months before it is straightened out. Sort of reminds me of Satan. Somehow he finds a way around my do-not call list.
February 02, 2011
The last major snow storm we had dropped over seven inches and it was a back-breaker to shovel. We decided it was time for a snow blower and Bill found one for sale on consignment. I didn’t think about it being a bigger unit than we needed until a friend asked, “Does that have a V-8 under it?” Wouldn’t you know that since buying the snow blower we’ve had very little snow…that is until just this week. Now Bill is out lovin’ his neighbor and his neighbor’s walks.
February 01, 2011
I‘ve always been impressed with the disciples who immediately left everything, including their father, to follow Jesus. Even the eunuch when he heard the Word explained by Philip saw the water and was baptized on the spot. Their actions appear effortless compared to our actions today, where we first have to think about it, organize it and make a plan. Today’s church has lost a lot of the spontaneity and immediacy of following Jesus. Maybe it’s time for a revival.