I think the disciples were somewhat naïve when they first began following Jesus. However Jesus didn’t downplay what they could expect when he told them about the persecution, being delivered to synagogues and prisons and even being brought before kings and governors all on account of Jesus’ name. I can so relate. When I ran for public office I naively thought I would be serving my community and trying to set good policy…it never crossed my mind that my real job was to be a witness to others. “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Luke 21:14-15 NIV)
June 29, 2011
After three days I was preparing for yet another hour long dusty and dry class. However I was pleasantly refreshed by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs’ presentation on water management. As he talked about the “singing of working waters, the life giving sustenance of water” and “water blessing everything it touches”, I overlaid his descriptions with the waters of baptism and now I’m wondering if I’ve been missing something. Regardless of size, when I see a body of water, I should also see its potential to become the waters of baptism. “The eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?...Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (Acts 8:36-38 NIV)
June 28, 2011
At a recent conference I attended a session titled, Budgeting 101, managing the public checkbook. Among my take-a-ways from the class was the fact that a department head’s draft budget is often filled with contingencies. Rather than budgeting for the ordinary, they budget for the unexpected and the ‘what if’ situations. It often follows that at the end of the year they have a ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy. I’m thinking that my prayer life may be filled with a few contingencies, seldom do I pray just for the ordinary. “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11 NIV)
June 27, 2011
On the news we’re hearing that the floodgates on the Mississippi River are being opened in an effort to prevent flooding. I was reminded of an incident a couple of years ago where a local political activist threatened to open the floodgates of opposition if elected officials ignored his demands. I never quite figured if the activist misjudged the political water depth, or if he had the wrong key to the gate. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Ro 12:3 NIV)
June 24, 2011
Fairly often I see a TV commercial soliciting $25 to buy a food box for Holocaust Survivors. I don’t mind the thought that my contribution will show these elderly people that someone cares. However, a couple of their assertions cause me pause. “You can bring the blessing of God back into their lives…You will show them that God cares about what they have endured in their life.” I just can’t think that God would be pleased by those statements. If God’s blessings have gone out of my life, a $25 food box will not bring it back. It seems to me that those who came through the Holocaust would recognize that God cares about what they have endured in their life…their survival alone is proof of His caring.
June 23, 2011
The Southern Baptist Convention just passed a resolution advocating a path to legal status for illegal immigrants. A newspaper article reported that the SBC, ‘which has been declining in membership and baptisms in recent years, sees ethnic diversity as one of the keys to a turnaround’. I can imagine the Spirit being offended at the thought that ethnic diversity somehow is a key to more baptisms.
June 22, 2011
I have a colleague who both privately and publically bemoans the fact that we have lengthy meetings. It’s not unusual for a candidate or volunteer to look at a job opportunity and think, ‘The job looks easy, it will only take three or four hours a month. I can easily fit that into my already busy schedule.’ For most of us, doing a job and doing it right requires a lot more time investment than we thought. There is always a cost associated with everything we do, even a cost to being a disciple. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NIV)
June 21, 2011
Recently a colleague publically accused me of going on a witch hunt for political purposes and that my actions were, ‘mean-spirited, vindictive, vial and disgusting.’ There was a time that I would have wilted under such criticism, regardless of whether or not there was any truth to the sentiments – but no more. I think my reactions are different because of a wardrobe change. Today I wouldn’t be caught dead outside the house without being dressed in the Amour of God. (Eph 6:14)
June 20, 2011
When I was in the Navy everyone took a rotation of standing watch. My station was in the women’s barracks and I learned to be grateful for the regiment of walking the halls making bed checks, securing exits and writing logs. Had it not been for the structured requirements of the job it would have been difficult to stay awake. Twice at Gethsemane Jesus asked his disciples (Peter James and John) to stay and keep watch while he went away to pray. Each time he returned he found them asleep because their eyes were heavy. Without excuse, “They did not know what to say to him.” I think that had they grasped the duties and responsibilities of keeping watch, they wouldn’t have fallen asleep. (Mark 14:32-41)
June 17, 2011
A deciding factor on some of my purchases is whether or not the item will show dirt. A light color car always looks cleaner than a dark color car. A coffee spill or grease spot can be seen on a solid colored shirt easier than on a patterned shirt. I even picked out my kitchen counter tops based on the fact that the texture and multicolor would hide the stains, wear and tear. My selection worked all too well and now I find it’s almost impossible to keep the counters clean. Because I can’t see the spills and food crumbs in a small area I have to wipe down the entire counter to make sure it’s clean. I’m wondering if I do something similar when put myself in situations where the dirt of sin will be hard to detect and not always cleaned off. In the world my sin is not going to show as easily as it does in the believer’s world.
June 16, 2011
I find myself in an awkward and somewhat spiritually unhealthy situation. I have to document events in order to protect myself and have a clear recollection of certain situations. Each time I make additions to the documentation I’m reminded of all the infractions. In essence I am not letting go of the past, but actually keeping it alive because I’m keeping a record of wrongs. We often hear it said that it’s easier to forgive than to forget…but I’m thinking that both are easier than keeping a record.
June 15, 2011
Rather than storing data on our computers, the industry now wants all of us to store our data in The Cloud. The promotions say when you need the data, you simply reach up to and retrieve what you need. When I hear people talk about the cloud my mind goes to the book of Hebrews. Here the writer gives us the image of a great cloud of witnesses (heroes of faith) who cheer us on as we run our race. “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb 12:1b NIV) I have to say that I’m much more confident in the cloud of witnesses than I’ll ever be in the data cloud.
June 14, 2011
On the way to Golgotha Simon the Cyrene didn’t volunteer to carry the cross for Jesus, he was forced to carry it. There are times when I’ve been coerced into carrying a cross that doesn’t seem like it’s mine and I feel anger, resentment…and then guilt for being selfish and unloving. We have no way of knowing what Simon felt on the way to Golgotha, but I can imagine that after the Lord’s resurrection he saw carrying the cross of Jesus in a whole new light.
June 13, 2011
I write a weekly newsletter for church and the feature article is an interview of someone in the congregation. A recent story was about a young woman who escaped an abusive relationship and later married a nice young man. Tragically the young woman was widowed eight years later and left to raise her daughter as a single parent. The mother of the young woman was surprised that her daughter would even consider doing an interview, much less be so open. After reading the article the mother said, “She has told you things that I’ve never known…things she’s never shared with me.” Because the young woman took a chance and gave us a glimpse into her life, we have a better understanding of what she may need from the church family. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2 NIV)
June 10, 2011
Because of some recent political drama I’ve had a lot people telling me that they were praying for me. I’m grateful and appreciative of any and all prayers, but two individuals intervening on my behalf have never really struck me as being people of prayer. It may be that they recognize I’m a person of faith, and knowing I value prayer, this is their way to support me. “Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5:8b NIV) I always thought it might be interesting to take a look-see at those captured prayers of the saints…but now I’m thinking about my own contribution to the bowl over the years.
June 09, 2011
My mother-in-law wears a ruby ring which she found by a railroad track in Oklahoma when she was a child. There has always been speculation as to why the ring was in that location. Did the owner break an engagement and toss it out the train window? Was it stolen property? Was a child using it to play dress-up and accidently dropped it? After the recent tornados there are parts of people’s lives strewn for miles across the mid-west. There could be ruby rings in lakes, ponds and trees. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matt 13:44 NIV)
June 08, 2011
When people come to the Lord later in life they often have a more dramatic God experience than the rest of us. For the last few years my daughter has been under a great deal of strain because of leasing a car rather than buying a car on payments. This month she reached the end of the lease and was able to turn in the keys. With a new day dawning she laughed, “What a relief. This is probably the closest thing I’ve ever felt to what a new believer experiences when he accepts Christ. The burden is lifted, your sins are forgiven and you can walk away from your old life free and clear.”
June 07, 2011
Sometimes we look to preachers, teachers and fellow believers to mature us in the faith. And then there are those seasons in our life when we take responsibility for our own growth and education in the Word. I think there is another origin of understanding that we often fail to recognize and that is the insight which comes directly from the Spirit. We normally look to one another and to ourselves for answers, but few of actually recognize when the Spirit reveals things to us. Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, and Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matt 16:17 NIV)
June 06, 2011
Two years ago Wal-Mart discontinued name brand products supposedly to “…tidy up stores for the wealthier customers it had won during the recession.” The store is now going to spend the next nine months aggressively trying to restock and regain the customers they are losing. I see some similarities between the church and Wal-Mart. Almost all mainline churches have gone through some deliberate renovations, whether they have eliminated Sunday School, tossed out hymnals or dressed down to Sunday casual. They may have gained a new demographic, but they also lost many faithful and mature members. I do see one big difference between the Wal-Mart decision makers and church leadership…Wal-Mart knows when to regroup and get back to their base. Church leadership on the other hand have spent years justifying their dismantling of the church and implying that their actions were God-led. I can see where it would be a little difficult for them to now go back to the basics and sell people on the idea that God has somehow changed His mind.
June 03, 2011
It’s been fun watching our fledging church spread her wings. Even though our preaching elder continually improves in the presentation of the message, I haven’t detected people trying to put him on a pedestal. It may be that the majority of our membership is the type who’s older and more mature in the Word and knows better than to pedestal men. Personally I see a preacher with a humble spirit who is just one of our number and is wise enough to be afraid of heights.
June 02, 2011
Last fall I became eligible for Social Security and the small in stature check is automatically deposited. At first it was only when I received my bank statement at the end of the month that I realized I’d failed to enter the deposit into the check register. As a reminder I’ve now started penciling in the check amount two or three months in advance because I can depend on it being deposited and being the same amount each month. You would think that same security would somehow translate into spiritual matters. Maybe I need to start writing some of those Bible promises in my day timer to remind me that the Lord had already deposited them into my account, ‘fear not…, greater is He that is in you…you cannot be tempted beyond…’
June 01, 2011
Recently I was a bystander in a conversation where one person asked another, “And how are you doing?” In response it was mentioned that the family would have no money coming in for two weeks, but it was also stated three times, “We have nothing left to eat but beans and peanut butter, so we’ll be eating a lot of chili and peanut butter sandwiches.” Although the family is in a dire situation, members of the church family have and will continue to help them. While I am sympathetic to the food situation, I was also reminded of my family’s stories of the Great Depression…all they had to eat were beans, they would have given their left leg to have had the peanut butter. We believers are often guilty of focusing on what we don’t have, rather than rejoicing that the Lord has provided the beans and peanut butter.