October 31, 2011
Stella, a Sunday School teacher from my youth, recently passed away at the age of 94. For a time I lived with my Grandma and our church met in the one-room community school house. After worship we divided up for Sunday school class, with Stella taking the kids out of the building. In the summer our classes were held on the old merry-go-round and in the winter we piled into Stella’s station wagon. With the car running, the heater blowing and the windows fogging up she taught us our Bible lesson. I think Stella and Jesus had something in common when it came to making disciples…both could make a classroom out of any old boat, a hillside or a field of grain.
October 28, 2011
I recently read an obituary where the deceased was described as a pillar of the community. In the church we too have a tendency to elevate people to pillar-status. Our candidates may be those who are generationally faithful in attendance, those extremely knowledgeable in the Word, or even someone whose generosity goes far beyond tithes and offerings. Jesus gives us the qualifications for becoming a pillar in heaven and I love the fact that we are all candidates. “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it...” (Rev 3:12a NIV)
October 27, 2011
I’ve become more aware of journalists writing their news stories and then locating a photo to accompany the slant of their story. Awhile back photos of two of our elected officials appeared side by side in the local newspaper. One person’s photo was the stylish professional official photo, and the other person’s photo was a less than flattering candid shot. Even without the written story, the selected photos were a stark contrast and they told a story of their own. One official was obviously favored and there was an attempt to disparage the other official by making them appear folksy, backwards and unprofessional. In the spiritual arena I can draw a similar parallel. As believers the Lord presents us in our most positive light and then Satan does his best to bring us down by using unflattering candid shots that causes others to question our worth.
October 26, 2011
I think we all understand that when the Lord returns we will be held accountable for our heart and soul, but I was a little uneasy to read Paul’s thoughts on also being accountable for my body. I mean really. I’ve been looking forward to dumping this ageing body with its additional pounds and I fully expected to stand before the Lord as a heavenly new creation. Now I’m wondering what kind of a diet I have to go on to keep my body blameless. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 5:23 NIV)
October 25, 2011
In my previous church the Communion Table was at the front of the auditorium. After the emblems were served to the congregation, the servers would return to the front, serve one another and then place the trays on the table. In our present configuration, the Communion trays are located in the back of the auditorium and after serving the congregation, those serving simply help themselves before putting the trays on the counter. While their self-service doesn’t take away from the meaning of communion, for me there is a more profound spiritual impact when I actually see one person physically serving another.
October 24, 2011
Tim Allen, of ‘Home Improvement’, recently did and interview with Parade Magazine. Tim is quoted as saying, “On a philosophical level, I’m very religious. I call myself an intellectual Christian. I’ve been seeking answers and information about Christianity, as well as Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism…” I’m not sure I’d pride myself in being an intellectual Christian if I didn’t know any better than to say I was looking for Christianity somewhere other than the Bible. So often we get skewed ideas because we fail to heed Jesus’ warning, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt 22:29 NIV)
October 21, 2011
When my daughter and her dog stop by for a visit I often take Charlie for a walk in a nearby park. I always carry plastic bags and clean up any deposits, but it’s obvious that not all pet owners are so conscientious. I’ve noticed that when I’m on the meandering sidewalk I can relax and take in nature, but as soon as Charlie needs to go off the path my eyes are focused on the ground watching every step I take. I can just see this scenario being played out in the life of a believer. If we stray off the narrow path, we’d better be looking out for the poo.
October 20, 2011
The Air Force is taking public comment on the possibility of establishing a low altitude training area in northern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. I was surprised to learn that environmental groups are traveling across two states to attend all 17 meetings to not only voice their opposition to the training area, but to also garner disciples. I listened to various speakers who had a not-in-my-backyard attitude that they were applying to the entire region. I really wanted to say, ‘Pardon me, but this isn’t your backyard’. I was reminded of Saul before he became Paul. He wasn’t content with going house to house to destroy the church in Jerusalem, he also set his sights on Damascus, which was some 150 miles away with a travel time of 4-6 days. It seems that the human condition, whether you are a believer or not, is to worry and fret more over our neighbors backyard than our own.
October 19, 2011
Once a year on the Day of Atonement the High Priest would enter the inner room and offer a blood sacrifice for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Rather than having one’s sins forgiven, this was simply a reprieve by rolling those sins forward to next year’s sacrifice. In error I’ve always pictured the worshippers having peace of mind that they have taken care of last year’s sins by boxing them up and putting them on a shelf. However the writer of Hebrews says, “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” (Heb 9:9 NIV)
October 18, 2011
Recently I was in a situation where I not only felt underappreciated, but also unloved. I struggled with confronting the issue because I didn’t want to sound like a child who was having a pity party. Really, how do you tell someone that their actions make you feel unimportant and used like a doormat? In my soul searching I heard Jesus asking Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these…Simon son of John, do you truly love me…Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:15-17 NIV)
October 17, 2011
On the spiritual battlefield believers have to be well rounded and know how to respond both offensively and defensively. Lately I feel like all I’m doing is playing defense. The Armor of God is getting heavy and I’m getting weary. As I re-read Paul’s description on the Armor of God I was struck by the protection we get from the shield of faith. The shield of faith doesn’t extinguish just some of the flaming arrows in the arsenal of the evil one, but rather it extinguishes all of the flaming arrows. I’m thinking that standing firm and standing my ground just got easier…those flaming arrows really are simply smoldering blanks. (Eph 6:16 NIV)
October 14, 2011
This time of year it’s dark when I drive out to the fitness center. The other morning when I saw some small green lights about head high bouncing toward me I knew immediately that it was a jogger out for a pre-dawn run. The apparently safety conscious jogger was also carrying a flashlight, but oddly the light wasn’t focused on the path. Rather the spot of light was weaving all over the place, first on one side and then another, on the grass and under the shrubs. It wasn’t until I drove past the jogger that Fido, wearing a lighted collar, came into view. I have to laugh when I think about some of us acting like Fido. We’re supposed to be the light of the world and where do we see our light shining…off the path, under bushes and behind rocks. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16 NIV)
October 13, 2011
Last week we had reports of an attempted child abduction in our community. The description of the abductor was a man in his 40’s wearing a cowboy hat and driving a white dodge truck with an extend cab. When I ran errands the other day and saw a white truck driving down the road and I did a double take at the driver because he was wearing a cowboy hat. The partial description of a possible child predator will no doubt keep many of us on high alert in the coming days. Isn’t it interesting though that the Bible too gives us a partial description of our spiritual enemy the devil and yet we seem oblivious? “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
October 12, 2011
Febreze air freshener is currently running a TV commercial where two blindfolded women are sitting on a couch. One is holding an accent pillow the other a lap-throw. Because of a spritz Febreze both items feel clean to the touch and smell fresh. When the blindfolds are removed the women are shocked to discover they are on a dilapidated, dirty couch and surrounded by filth and free running pets. I can see this drama played out in the life of believers when we accept Jesus and our spiritual eyes are then opened to reveal a depraved world.
October 11, 2011
Recently at an event I introduced two men to one another. To help them connect I mentioned one’s career credentials, his expertise in fishing and then, knowing that both were men of faith, I tossed in the fact that he too was a Christian. There was an uncomfortable pause and then the other man picked up the conversation ball saying, “Someday I’d like to get back into fly fishing.” As I stepped back from their conversation I felt almost apologetic to the Lord that He had been overshadowed by fly fishing. I suppose that because this was a business meeting my reference to faith could have felt awkward and out of place. However I wonder if our failing to take advantage of such opportunities might well border on denying Christ. “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels”. (Like 9:26 NIV)
October 10, 2011
In honor of Christopher Columbus I’m reminded of the many Spiritual explorers who’ve navigated Biblical waters and shared their journey with us. My path has certainly been made easier because of their maps of understanding, such as commentaries, Bible Studies and sermon notes. However, I think we need to resist the temptation to rest on the exploration of others….each of us in our own right must become an explorer of the Word. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11 NIV)
October 07, 2011
As I interview people I often question them about any ah-ha moments they might have had with the Lord. I think we can all relate to personal testimonies, but they are so much more powerful when we actually know the people who’ve had the experience. During Bible study discussion Suzie confessed, “I sometimes expect more from the Lord. I don’t know what, maybe angels, trumpets…feathers”. Mel agreed saying that when he accepted the Lord as his personal Savior it was a grey January day and at that moment in time his rebirth was disappointingly unspectacular. Chiming in on the conversation Gary quipped, “Well at least you weren’t blinded like Saul!”
October 06, 2011
We have a huge recycling controversy going on in the community on whether or not to continue City curbside recycling…and at what cost. We are all speaking a green language, however some of us are speaking through greenbacks, while others are speaking environmentally green. At a public meeting those speaking with an environmental heart compared themselves with others by saying, “We are the good citizens, we do the right thing and we are the good kids and should not be punished for doing right.” As believers we too can get caught up into comparing ourselves with other believers. ‘We’re the good Christian, we do the right thing and we shouldn’t be punished…’
October 05, 2011
It’s sometimes important to resurrect an old committee for the purpose of assessing current needs and updating data. A recent resurrection for my city was the Montrose Improvement Team. The task for this group of folks is to look at the future needs of capital improvements for our municipality. I’m wondering if the Spirit might well look at us in a similar way as He assess our needs and looks for areas that need upgrades. His assembled team might consist of the preacher, an elder, a faithful brother and even a believing spouse.
October 04, 2011
It’s not unusual for older folks to comment that as parents we’re never done raising our kids. We continue to worry, watch and fret over them even when they have left the nest and have children of their own. I recently interviewed an 82 year-old woman who has a 52 year-old son with Downs Syndrome still living at home. Proud of being a mother Eleanor said, “John still needs attention, so I’ve never really stopped raising my children.” Generally speaking we think about God moving us on to different roles and responsibilities as we mature. I now have new insight, admiration and appreciation for those who must remain in their role for a lifetime.
October 03, 2011
Always faithful, last Sunday my morning paper wasn’t in the driveway, on the grass or under the cars. By the time the paper arrived two hours late my day was really out of sync and I was out of sorts. I thought about the Israelites having manna provided to them every morning for 40 years in the desert and I had to laugh. I can just imagine the first day God failed to have breakfast waiting for His people. No doubt there were a few of them too who were out of sorts looking under bushes and behind rocks and knocking on one another’s tent door asking about their morning manna. “The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.” (Joshua 5:11-12 NIV)