December 31, 2012
I’ve been studying wisdom literature in the Bible and the concept that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, and that fear must be taught and passed down from one generation to the next. Understanding this heritage in wisdom, I look back on my own genealogy and see where some of my ancestors dropped the ball completely, while others only taught their children to love the Lord. I’m not sure that any of them grasp the responsibility they had in passing on the fear of the Lord to future generations. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV)
December 28, 2012
I ran into a friend who told me that although there were problems in her church, she would never change churches. “I just couldn’t leave because I’ve been a member there since 1967.” I can remember have similar feelings a few years ago when I felt that church heritage somehow superseded my spiritual need for a change of scenery. I can imagine the Lord shaking his head at our willingness to be fishers of men…just as long as we can stay on the bank of our own familiar pond. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:17-18 NIV)
December 27, 2012
Recently a man applied to get a liquor license for the restaurant he owns in Colorado. His background check revealed that he was a Mexican National, his Social Security number was held by at least 13 other people, he was not allowed to work in the US and his border crossing card restricted him from travel beyond a 60 mile radius of the Mexico border. One of the questions that the Liquor Licensing Authority had to determine in the hearing was, ‘Is the applicant of good moral character?’ The applicant has been in this country for many years and numerous people spoke on his behalf saying he is the father of two teenagers and he wants them to have a college education. He is friendly to everyone and all he wants to do is make a living to support his family. I don’t know this man personally, but the fact that he has not abided by US immigration laws speaks volumes of his moral character. We believers do a similar thing when we blur the line of salvation. Even though God’s desire is for everyone to be saved, saying someone is a really good person does not gain them entrance into eternal life.
December 26, 2012
Last week there was a news paper report about two fishermen lost at sea for three weeks when their boat engine died. “The water was too deep to use the anchor and the current too strong to use the oars, so the boat slowly drifted away from Jamaica.” I have this mental image of believers who find themselves in a precarious position spiritually. “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Heb 2:1 NIV)
December 25, 2012
I watched my grandchildren, ages 9 & 7, open their age and interest appropriate Christmas gifts – $15 in one dollar bills, Lego blocks, Polly Pocket doll, and books. I wonder what they, or we adults for that matter, would have thought if we had received gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I can envision some of us investing the gold and re-gifting the frankincense and myrrh. It is not uncommon for people to sometimes receive a gift that they really don’t know what to do with…even the gift of Jesus Christ.
December 24, 2012
Recently my cousin lost her husband and although his was not a lingering death, he was bedridden for some weeks and the encouragement, the get well and Thanksgiving cards all piled up. Laura emailed, “I decided to open the cards tonight while I was alone and it was quiet. As I opened each one, I began to realize that the hard part was that I wasn’t prepared for whether or not I was going to have a Christmas card or a sympathy card.” I’ve always found it comforting in reading about the manner in which David grieved for the son he had with Bathsheba. While the boy was ill David pleaded with God, fasted, wept and slept on the ground. On the 7th day when the child had died, David picked himself up, changed clothes and put on lotion. “now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him [when I die], but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam 12:23 NIV)
December 21, 2012
While shopping in the toy aisle of Wal-Mart I found myself next to man and his granddaughter. The mite of a girl, with a full head of long hair, had her back to me as she was looking up at the shelves of dolls. Apparently she was shopping for herself with her own money, but some dolls were out of her price range. The grandfather suggested that some of the things she wanted might be under the Christmas tree. Although I didn’t hear her response, I smiled when I heard him say, “Well, what did you do to get on the naughty list?” I finished my shopping, and as I was leaving, I saw my two toy aisle friends coming toward me. The little girl was older than I had first thought and I recognized her as having primordial dwarfism. She was such a cutie that I too started wondering what she did to get on the naughty list. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Ro 3:22b-23 NIV)
December 20, 2012
Our library was one of 40 locations across the nation to host a traveling exhibit that celebrates the 400th anniversary of the translation and publication of the King James Bible. This week I attended one of two sessions with professor and author Leland Ryken, a scholar and national expert on the KJV. We were seated together closely at tables and behind me was a stoic, but attractive and smartly dressed woman in her 60’s. At her table sat one of the local pastors who asked her where she went to church. “Oh, I don’t go to church.” Making a smooth transition he told her their church doors were always open and she was welcome to visit them. I turned around in my seat and joked with the pastor about overhearing his snippet of evangelism. I suppose the woman could have been library patron, or simply someone who considers the KJV Bible to be great literature. However, I cannot wrap my head around anyone attending a lecture, and apparently having some sort of relationship with the KJV, and yet not going to church.
December 19, 2012
In reporting on the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting one TV reporter described the first responders as being “trained to be heroes.” My thoughts turned to our training as believers. While I don’t think we are training to be heroes, I do wonder how many of us would consider ourselves to be first responders. For instance, if someone wants to know more about Jesus, do we recommend that they go see the preacher? Or when someone is ill do we tell them they need to schedule a time with the elders to be prayed over? The Apostle Paul gave this charge to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim 4:2 NIV)
December 18, 2012
One of our local newspapers has a column titled ‘You Said It’ that encourages people to write in short snippets of anything that is on their mind. One couple wrote saying that when Bush was President they put their postage stamps on upside down in protest of his policies. “Finally in 2008, when we got Obama, we started putting them on right-side-up.” My husband Bill is a retired Postmaster and we both had a good laugh. For starters, no one actually sees stamps on letters today because they are machine sorted. Even our own letter carrier doesn’t look at the stamp, he looks at the delivery address; and if you are making a bill payment, the envelope is most likely opened automatically. Regardless of what type of message we are heralding, nothing is accomplished if it goes unheard. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 4:14-16 NIV)
December 17, 2012
The parents of the children whose lives were lost during the elementary school shooting at Sandy Hook are struggling with their children being taken from them. No doubt families will also struggle with letting go of the children. I find comfort in the image of Jesus welcoming these precious little ones, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt 19:14 NIV)
December 14, 2012
Farmers talk about having good and bad years with their crops and I find myself applying the same terminology to the five deaths we’ve had in our family in the last nine months – this has been a bad year. All but one of the deaths were somewhat expected, however with each successive funeral, the grieving process is easier. The world might define the grieving as becoming numb or desensitized, but from the believers perspective there is a spiritual element that should not be overlooked. In our grief none of us can say to the other, ‘but you just don’t understand’ or ‘my sorrow is greater than yours’. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4 NIV)
December 13, 2012
On the surface an insurance company’s rationale behind a pre-existing conditions clause sounds reasonable; particularly in the case where medical conditions are self-induced, like drug and alcohol abuse. However, according to a California advocacy group, possible situations that could come under pre-existing conditions are acne, hemorrhoids, and bunions. For us, God’s one and only pre-existing condition is simple. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins…” (Col 2:13 NIV)
December 12, 2012
Last Sunday’s 3-5 minute Communion Meditation turned into a 20 minute theological message about the preparations and events surrounding the Last Supper. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent message but it had a ripple effect. The audience started getting restless and because there was little time remaining the preacher was forced to cut his sermon almost in half. Looking on the bright side our auditorium is windowless and on the ground floor. “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.” (Acts 9-11 NIV)
December 11, 2012
The sidewalks were still ice encrusted when I left church last Sunday. Going out the door at the same time was one of our elderly ladies with her cane straddling across the handles of her walker. I cautioned her about it being slick and offered to walk along beside her to her car. “Na-ah.” She said with a chuckle. “If I fall, I just fall.” She wasn’t being cantankerous, but merely implying that if she falls she’ll either pick herself up, or if she can’t get up, then she’ll ask for help. I sort of wish that I could apply more of that type of attitude to my Christian walk. There are times when I am overly cautious because I don’t want to fall, or I don’t want others to help me. I need to be reminded, ‘If I fall, I just fall…and Jesus will be there to pick me up.’
December 10, 2012
My brother-in-law, Ray, was diagnosed with a larger cancerous mass in his esophagus and stomach. He had some chemo and the doctors attempted surgery, but they stopped during the procedure because of liver complications. Ray reached out in all directions for treatment and cure. He started coming to church and the elders prayed over him, he went to an acupuncturist who put him on a vegan diet, where he lost 60 pounds, and he traveled to Arizona for a second opinion. The recent scope of his esophagus showed no signs of the mass and the PET showed only one lymph node to have cancer. Ray is being inclusive in his thanksgiving saying that whether it is God, the diet, the acupuncture doctor, or all of our prayers, he is rejoicing. There are times that we’ve all struggled with giving credit where credit is due. Even in Paul’s day, some who were very religious were careful to cover all their bases so as not to offend any god or object of worship. “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23 NIV)
December 07, 2012
A recent blood test showed my husband’s PSA is on the rise again. Dr. Chipman, his oncologist, is a positive and enthusiastic sort of man and he knew from my questions that I was concerned. “Look, I don’t want you to worry. I’m the one who worries.” He laughed, “That’s what you pay me for!” I told him I could go with that, but only so far, I really hadn’t seen him doing any worrying. We both laughed and he assured me that when it is time to worry, he would worry. Maybe that’s the same problem some of us have when we give our problems over to God. We know the Lord has everything under control, but we’re still looking for evidence that He is doing the worrying. Jesus asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt 26:27 NIV)
December 06, 2012
My mother passed away six months ago and she just got a bill in the mail from CenturyLink, her telephone service provider. The total amount due is $.08. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. No telling how much it cost the company to process the billing and mail it. My options are to ignore the statement, call the company to see if they would reconsider, send them a check, or mail them eight cents. I decided it was worth the cost of first class postage to mail the eight pennies to the company’s outsourced billing department. Companies today always requests that the consumer remit with checks, credit cards and electronic transfers, so I’m wondering if they even have a local bank where they can deposit eight cents cash. Of course the most practical solution would be for the company to simply write off the eight cents, but I suppose this situation is no different than some of us failing to write off wrongs that were done to us.
December 05, 2012
A couple months ago my friend was driving into my driveway when she was rear ended by an SUV. As Sharon’s van spun around 180 degrees, the teenage driver in the other car screeched to a stop, turned to talk to his passenger, then floored the accelerator and sped off. The expression that ran across the driver’s face was, “We’re in big trouble. What should I do? Maybe if we can get out of here fast enough no one will catch us and no will know who we are.” Little did the driver realize that two witnesses wrote down his licenses plate number, and three others were able to make written police reports of the incident. I can imagine that the same image of fear and flight runs across our faces when we sin. We think that a fast getaway from the scene will keep our sin from being exposed…and we too think there are no witnesses.
December 04, 2012
In the limousine on the way to the graveside service the twenty-something granddaughter asked the grieving widow, “When do you read the Will? I’m sure grandpa would have left me something. I need to know if we read the Will now, or if I need to make arrangements to come back later.” Even giving a pass for the selfishness of youth, I’m still left saying, “Really?” However, after a little more thought I’m wondering if the church is missing out on a great opportunity. Just as soon as a new believer comes out of the waters of baptism we should be reading the Will. They need to know that Jesus left them something, they are included in the inheritance and they are an heir.
December 03, 2012
One of our local papers has a weekly column titled “You Said It”, where people write in with little comments about things they see and hear going on in the community. It is amazing how many of the comments are from people thanking others for anonymously paying for their groceries or their bill for a meal. Often the writer is so appreciative that they promise to pay it forward by passing the same generosity on to someone they encounter. Certainly Jesus paid for my salvation by going to the cross and although I try to reach others with the Gospel message, I’ve never thought in terms of paying my salvation forward. I now wonder what those actions would look like.
November 30, 2012
When Charlie the dog comes to my house for a visit, he jumps up in the chair by the window so he can watch whatever is going on outside. As though he’s sounding the alarm or protecting the house, he’ll bark when someone walks by, or drives in the driveway. What I find interesting though, is that he never barks when he is outside. When I take him for a walk, the other dogs on leashes, or those in fenced yards, charge at him barking like they would like to tear his leg off. He’ll just stop and nonchalantly look at them, then simply walk on by. I sort of envy Charlie’s ability to just ignore those who are aggressive and out to eat him alive. “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”. So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5b-6 NIV)
November 29, 2012
We’ve all been in social situations where the person we are talking to is always looking beyond us to see who else is in the room. Or we can see the talking heads on television who, rather than talking to the TV audience or their co-hosts, are watching their monitor to see how they look on the screen. I suppose God feels something similar when I start thinking about getting Sunday dinner on the table while the sermon is being preached. “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (Psalm 119:37 NIV)
November 28, 2012
Recently a local man made two failed bank robbery attempts…while wearing a global positioning ankle bracelet that was a condition of his parole from a previous offense. If there is a video of this guy in action he just might be a candidate for the World’s Dumbest Criminals. Of course we shouldn’t feel too superior. I can envision the heavenly audience watching some of us on the World’s Dumbest Sinners. “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:2-3 NIV)
November 27, 2012
The last few months at church we have watched an infant foster child growing physically and in personality. Her adoption will be finalized next week, but she is already a member of the church family. Sunday I mentioned to her soon-to-be father that her dark hair is really getting curly on top. Jose smiled and pointing to his own wavy hair said, “She gets it from me.” I thought of our own adoption as believers. I can imagine Him pointing to us and saying, ‘She gets it from Me.’ “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--” (Eph 1:4-5 NIV)
November 26, 2012
As believers most of us recognize that everything we have comes from the Lord, and we praise Him for His provisions. When I watch a television show on hoarders, with all their piles of treasures, stuff and trash, I have to wonder at what point did God’s provision turn into greed and self-sufficiency. As a believer I try to see God in everything, but I’ve got to tell you I haven’t been able to locate God in any of the homes I’ve seen. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1Tim 6:17 NIV)
November 23, 2012
Usually when we donate to a blood bank we think in terms of emergency situations, but that is not always the case. Years ago my father-in-law (now deceased) had a blood disorder that required blood transfusions. At first it was every six months, but as time went on, blood was needed more frequently going to every six weeks, then finally to every 10 days. Obviously, there was a point where the only thing keeping him alive was the transfused blood from others. Each week at the Communion table I’m reminded of the blood Jesus shed to take away my sins, but I had not put the Lord’s sacrifice in terms of being life-giving blood. In that sense the only thing keeping any believer alive, in this world or the next, is the blood of Jesus.
November 22, 2012
A day of thanksgiving and harvest is not limited to an American tradition, or to the confines of earth. The twenty-four elders fell on their faces and worshiped God saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great--” (Rev 11:17-18 NIV)
November 21, 2012
I went to my grandson’s Thanksgiving Day program at the Christian School and watched the middle school children put on a play about David and Goliath. The program, which was incorporated with their chapel service, began with the pledges (American flag, Christian flag, and the Bible), a prayer and three songs from the hymnal. It felt so good to hold a hymnal in my hands and I was amazed at how touched I was to see this old friend again. The musical notes, the author information with the date published, and an applicable passage of Scripture jumped off the hymnal pages. Like most churches today, my worship service uses slides and video, rather than hymnals. Although I take my Bible when I go to church, it is unnecessary because the Scriptural passages from the sermon are displayed on the overhead screen. Some of us have an emotional attachment to our Bibles and to hymnals, but I have to wonder about this current generation. Somehow I just can’t quite picture them having an enduring connection with a video screen.
November 20, 2012
During announcements Sunday morning, someone’s car alarm started going off in the church parking lot. At first only about three or four people got up quietly from their seats, so as not to disturb others, and headed for the exits. The alarm continued to honk and a few more folks left the building and the look on their faces said they were hoping against hope that it wasn’t their car making the disturbance. I had to laugh when I witnessed a little bit of a laying-on-of-hands as some of our men with hearing aids tried to locate the car by touching the hoods. It’s interesting that a worldly alarm can go off and mentally we start wondering if it could somehow pertain to us, but just let a spiritual alarm go off and we calmly stay seated in our chairs thinking we need not worry.
November 19, 2012
I took my new Smith & Wesson 38 special out for some target practice and I was disappointed to find that the laser isn’t worth a hoot in sunlight. I guess if a daytime intruder comes to the house I’m just going to have to ask him to come back sometime after dark. When I used the gun sight I kept shooting high, but when I started aiming for the target’s knees, lo and behold I nailed him in his midsection. As dusk approached I was finally able to use the laser and I transformed into a real Annie Oakley and I guarantee that target will never bother anyone ever again. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor 10:3-4 NIV)
November 16, 2012
I get a little perturbed when people don’t clean up after themselves. Such as if someone decides to cook and not clean up the stove, and then proceeds to leave the dirty dishes in the sink for someone else to put in the dishwasher. Yesterday I was in the pantry and dropped a partial container of cornmeal. I was aggravated at myself, but the thought did cross my mind, “I wonder what it would feel like to just leave it…maybe someone else will clean it up.” Of course that someone else is going to be me, so putting off cleaning it up didn’t make sense. Unfortunately messes are not limited to just our physical space, but they can also be seen in the spiritual realm. The Spirit really is the only One who can clean up our mess.
November 15, 2012
In the community we have more than one hospice and when it was time to decide which service my family needed, a nursing home employee took it upon herself to guide me toward hospice ‘A’. Ultimately I chose a the other hospice, but a few days later I watched the hospice ‘A’ nurse walking the halls of the nursing home. She was overly friendly to patients and visitors alike and after she walked away one of the elderly residents, who was not easily impressed, quipped, “She’s just looking for candidates”. I had to laugh and couldn’t help but wonder if people have similar feelings toward believers when we’re looking for people who are in need of salvation.
November 14, 2012
When we feed the hungry, visit those in prison, clothe those in need, give a drink to the thirsty, and invite strangers into our home, we are in effect doing those same acts of benevolence to the Lord. It’s not lost on me that rather than taking care of our own, the Lord emphasizes these acts of kindness are done towards strangers…people that we don’t already know. In some cases that’s a relief. I don’t know about you, but for me there are times that inviting a stranger into my home is preferable to extending an invitation to an eccentric family member. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matt 25:40 NIV)
November 13, 2012
Last weekend I went to Cabela’s to buy a Smith and Wesson 38 special. The mall parking lot was full, the store was packed with people, and guns were flying off the shelves. I asked the clerk if it was always this busy on a Saturday and he said, “Only since Tuesday’s election.” Apparently shoppers are trying to get ahead of any of the President’s threatened changes in the law regarding the sale of guns and ammunition. It’s interesting that the possibilities of tighter regulations are more motivating to people than the impending judgment of Christ. You would think the church parking lot would be full and the facility overflowing with Bible toting souls. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matt 24:32-33 NIV)
November 12, 2012
I know a couple of Veterans who came home from their military Service with survivor’s guilt. Although their service was decades ago, they still carry the burden of fellow service men being wounded and killed, while physically they were unscathed. Certainly the Lord does not want them forever burdened, but Satan is relishing in the fact that they continue to re-live the past. I’m reminded of Saul/Paul who, in the early church, was a perpetrator, a persecutor and a supporter of murder. Paul had blood on his hands and yet the Lord chose him to be the one to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles. Some people wanted to forever shackle Paul to his actions, but he responded by openly acknowledged his past and refusing to let his past maim or cripple his mission.
November 09, 2012
The formatting on some of the blogs I post seem to have a mind of their own. I always compose in the same font and size, but for some reason when I post the blog changes will appear on the site. I decided I could live with that, but lately random words which were once black started showing up as blue and underlined. I can’t figure out why it is happening, or how it can be corrected. It reminds me of some of the sins in my life. I’ll be thinking that I’ve got my mind in sync with the Lord and then the Spirit will come along and highlight some corner of my heart that I didn’t even know needed attention.
November 08, 2012
If my kids were about to make a decision that had dire consequences I would first try to dissuade them. Second I would tell them, “If this doesn’t work out the way you want, then I don’t want to hear about it.” The day after the election I feel the same about those bemoaning unemployment. I don’t want to hear anyone say that they can’t find a job in their field or they can’t find a job that pays better than entitlements. I imagine that God gets an ear full of hearing believers complain when they suffer the consequences of their actions. We too are not above expecting to get what we perceive as spiritual entitlements.
November 07, 2012
I recently attended a funeral where the speaker described the deceased as a believer and assured the audience that one day we would see our loved one in heaven. Personally I’d never seen the deceased display any characteristics that would identify her as a believer, but by the same token I can also say I’d never actually heard her reject Jesus. No doubt the speaker’s intentions were to give the family encouragement, but I have to wonder if he may instead, have been giving them false hope. Rather than assuring people that their loved one is in heaven it would be better to tell them that God is a just God. “And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (Rev 16:7 NIV)
November 06, 2012
At the invitation of a friend I attended an open house for the new Mormon stake, which will hold services this week. It is a beautiful facility, the tour was nice and the members welcoming. Before I left my friend offered me a video Finding Faith in Christ. Although I tried to decline the gift, I was sensitive to the situation. For several years now the LDS church has made a concerted effort to become acceptable as mainstream Christians. My friend was on that train of thought when he said, “The video is not about the LDS church or promoting the church, it just about the Savior, Jesus Christ.” While I understand the motive behind the video; the message of the video itself is moot when it is given to a mature Christian who has already found faith in Christ.
November 05, 2012
The front page headline in the local paper said, “Storm cruel to elderly who refused to leave.” When one 90 woman was asked why she didn’t heed the warnings of hurricane Sandy she said, “I’m tired, I don’t want to go.” It’s interesting that the story goes on to suggest the storm was crueler to the elderly than it was to younger victims. Generally speaking it seems to me that everyone in the path of the storm had the same warning and the same amount of time to evacuate. I suppose I expected the wisdom of the elderly to prompt them to action; while the foolishness of the young would led them to feel invincible and indestructible. Apparently the opposite is true. As I consider the Gospel message I have to wonder if some of the elderly who fail to heed the salvation warning are themselves saying, “I’m tired, I don’t want to go.”
November 02, 2012
In the arena of government administration it is not unusual for constituents to go answer shopping. If they don’t get the answer they like to a question, they simply go to another department to see if they can get a different answer. In the religion arena we do something similar. The Bible tells us that the wicked (adulterers, homosexual offenders, idolaters, etc.) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet if we have a loved one who is an adulterer, we just can’t stand the thought of him being barred from heaven, so we answer shop among fellow believers. It reminds me of Satan’s conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’...You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.” (Gen 3:1b, 4 NIV)
November 01, 2012
In my expository writing class the on-line teacher expects me to turn in papers that follow a specific format. She grades each paper and sends it back for corrections and it seems like with each revision she finds more corrections that need to be made. Personally, I’d just as soon she give me a lower grade and let me move on. A comma here and a semicolon there just do not seem that important to me. Does it really matter if I get a B- rather than an A+? I’d like to think if God had entrusted me with the blueprints to the ark, the temple, or the Holy of Holies that I’d be more precise. However, I can imagine that there too I’d be saying, “Does it really need to be that exact?”
October 31, 2012
A few weeks ago my brother-in-law was seriously ill, but refused to go to the hospital. It wasn’t until he was admitted to the ER that he learned how ill he was, and that he was on the brink of death. One day last week my 57 year-old cousin was ill, but that morning she rejected going to the ER until she had a chance to get a shower and pull herself together. Evette passed away at home before noon and the family is now waiting for the results on the cause of death. It is amazing that as well as we know our own bodies, we are lousy at evaluating when death is near. Scripture also gives signs that accompany spiritual death, but all too often they too go unrecognized.
October 30, 2012
It goes without saying that Hurricane Sandy will be disruptive, but maybe the disruption isn’t all bad news. I can see the storm stopping the plans of some terrorist, thwarting robberies, and cooling down gang member activity. From a spiritual perspective our East Coast friends and their extended families across the nation will spend this next week on their knees praying. During a furious storm on the lake the disciple’s boat was taking on water, but Jesus was sleeping. “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matt 8:25-27 NIV)
October 29, 2012
Our newspaper has started a new weekly Church and Community column and the current topic was public vision and conversation. The author of the article wrote that Christians should be the ones to lead the way to restoring the virtue of civility. I was a little taken back when he said, “It is generally agreed that our public officials are doing a poor job of modeling civility.” What I find disturbing is that almost all of our elected officials are people of faith who are active in their church and their beliefs are evidenced in the performance of their duties. Although he may be oblivious, the author’s accusation against public officials is really an accusation against his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I think we need to be reminded that people who are in public office do not turn off the Spirit within them when they get elected, and then turn the Spirit back on once they have completed their term of service.
October 26, 2012
The song This World Is Not My Home, written by Jim Reeves, is all about heaven and I love the thoughts that come to mind when we sing this song. However, I’m wondering if I might find even more peace and encouragement if I were to take my focus off heaven and put it back on the world. Especially when I’m struggling with difficult people I need to be reminded, ‘This world is not my home…’
October 25, 2012
All pollsters agree that Ohio is a must win state and whoever wins that state will become the next President of the US. Last week before church started I was talking politics with one of our octogenarian members. With the upcoming election approaching she was disgruntled because people don’t take time to be informed about those running for office. “My son is one of them, and he lives in Ohio!” Pat laughed, “I’d really like to ask him for an early Christmas present…which would be to not vote at all.”
October 24, 2012
A recent communion meditation at my church turned into a get-out-the-vote promotion and when completed about half of the congregation applauded enthusiastically. Although the speaker’s sentiments were good, well written and applicable to the political season, they were misplaced. Jesus didn’t institute communion so that we would focus on ourselves or our spiritually disheveled country. On the contrary, Jesus specifically wanted us to focus on His spilt blood and pierced body, His sacrifice on the cross for us. When we participate in the communion emblems Jesus tells us, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Surely it’s the Lord who deserves the applause.
October 23, 2012
The political season is in full swing and locally we’ve heard complaints from both political parties accusing each other of stealing campaign signs. Although a sign in my yard had been untouched, my next door neighbor appears to be one of the victims. His sign would be up for a few days and then missing for a week before another one reappeared. This ‘here today gone tomorrow’ activity has been going on for well over a month. Since we live on an extremely busy street, you would think someone would have seen the thief and reported him. Yesterday I caught the husband in his yard, and I had to ask, “What gives with your missing sign?” My zealous Christian friend laughed, “Well, Sandy and I don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to politics. So we share the yard. She puts up her candidate’s sign…and I take it down.”
October 22, 2012
Not too long ago I sat through a seven hour Liability Seminar. The presentation was funny, engaging and thought provoking; however, the presenter’s verbal expletives clogged my mental slang-filter. During the lunch break while visiting with another attendee I was surprised at how quickly the heavy dose of expletives we’d been receiving were already planted in our minds and some of those same words were coming out his mouth. Later as I went over my notes some of the off color language resurfaced in my mind. Whatever occupies our mind shows up in our actions and our conversation and Paul reminds us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil 4:8 NIV)
October 19, 2012
My friend’s nine year-old asked her mom how she knew for sure if Bible was really true. Rather than going into a lengthy explanation her mother simply explained that men who followed Jesus wrote down everything Jesus did and they put it in the Bible. “Oh,” she said. “You mean Jesus had stalkers?”
October 18, 2012
A damper was put on a recent get-together when I learned that one estranged family member was a registered sex offender. Although I don’t know the specifics of the offense, I kept him at arm’s length - both mentally and physically. I can’t say that it was a relaxed social visit, but by being on guard I found an interesting sense of control and power. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
October 17, 2012
Hillary Clinton is now taking the blame for the Benghazi situation, but I’m a little bit indignant at the White House for not taking any responsibility. It feels like the Obama administration has no problem with throwing a woman under the bus. I see a similarity between him and the patriarch Abraham. Abraham, fearing Abimelech would kill him if it were revealed that Sarah was his wife, told Sarah to say that she was his sister. God intervened and rescued Sarah from Abimelech’s harem, but here too I feel somewhat indignant toward Abraham. He put fear for his own life above the importance of his relationship with his wife. (Gen 20)
October 16, 2012
I visited with a pastor friend who told me his dream job would be leave the pulpit and become a missionary. My friend was forthcoming in sharing what was holding him back, “You can’t become a missionary without being forced into becoming a fundraiser. If I won the lottery I’d become a missionary.” He laughed, “But that’s not going to happen because I don’t play the lottery.” There are Scriptural examples of missionaries financially supporting themselves, missionaries on the field who are supported by the church and even disciples being sent out into the field specifically with no support. I think my pastor friend is well intentioned, but like many of us, we restrict our acts of service by adding to the job description. The Lord doesn’t ask us to be equipped as fundraisers before we can be successful fishers of men.
October 15, 2012
An organization called the American Atheist is sponsoring a billboard campaign going after the religious beliefs of both Obama and Romney. Their goal, according to their statement, is to “expose the foolishness of religion in the political landscape” and they are specifically attacking Christianity and Mormonism. I doubt if these folks ever considered how fortunate they are to be American Atheists. I wonder, is there such a thing as a Middle Eastern Atheist?
October 12, 2012
Information in a recent obituary described a man who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and “He devoted his next six years to the pursuit of sunshine and laughter while being surrounded by a circle of family and friends who loved him enormously.” The life expectancy for untreated prostate cancer is about 10 years, so I assume the recently deceased gentleman chose to pursue sunshine and laughter rather than treatment. Although I’m surprised, I really shouldn’t be. I’m wondering if the Lord had given us a spiritual life expectancy how many people would still reject available treatment. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23 NIV)
October 11, 2012
Charlie, my daughter’s dog, was in the yard with us when a car stopped across the street. A friend of the family, who was Charlie’s previous owner, rolled down his window and hollered, “Is that Charlie dog I see over there?” Charlie, oblivious to traffic or anyone trying to stop him took off like a shot. In spite of a close call Charlie was safe, but all his human friends were beating themselves up for letting him off-leash and for calling his name. This is not so unlike what we experience as believers. We can be happy little Christians one minute and then the world stops by and calls our name. The next thing you know we’re off to the races for a moment with our previous way of life. Is it any wonder the Lord keeps us on a short leash?
October 10, 2012
President Obama’s performance in the recent presidential debate is described as lackluster, unprepared and disengaged. I can imagine he is somewhat embarrassed and ashamed at taking the debate so lightly. I feel we can learn something from the President’s overall dismal showing. One should never be deceived into thinking that their public speaking skills and charismatic personality can somehow replace being fully prepared and equipped for presenting a message. “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 09, 2012
A previous pastor of mine who has dealt with cancer for many years was put in hospice last week. Even though he is weak and his health is deteriorating rapidly, Ronnie telephoned a widow whose husband passed away two weeks ago. “Ronnie wanted to encourage me with the faith we have in Jesus Christ. He himself is dying and yet he is still in ministry and thinking of others.” Occasionally we hear of a death bed confession where people confess their sins, but I can imagine Ronnie’s lasts thoughts being of the good confession, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
October 08, 2012
A squall came down, the boat was being swamped and there was great danger. Normally a ship captain would take inventory and ask the sailors about the oars, the sail and the life vests. Jesus takes a different inventory when his followers are in the midst of a storm, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25 NIV)
October 05, 2012
Shaking my head in disbelief at their stupidity I read the report of college students using alcohol enemas at parties to increase the effects of the alcohol. Seriously? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor 6:19-20 NIV)
October 04, 2012
In the area of teaching and leading not all men and women are created equal and class attendance sometimes depends on whether or not our favorite teacher is teaching that week. I found it interesting that some of the Old Testament prophets prophesied during the same period of time, but they didn’t prophesy in the same place or to the same audience. It was probably a really good scheduling decision on God’s part. Can’t you see some folks skipping a prophetic message just because they were waiting to hear the message delivered by their favorite prophet?
October 03, 2012
It is being reported that a strategy in Romney’s play book for the first debate is to defend his reputation by rebutting the mischaracterizations made by Obama’s campaign. The pundits however are all advising Romney that if he wants to win he should forget about defending his personal character and focus on policy, the economy and connecting with the voters. The Apostle Paul comes to mind and I’m not sure the Corinthians would have been as responsive to his message had he not first defended his character and expounded on his credentials. “…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again”. (2 Cor 11:23b NIV)
October 02, 2012
An interesting article in the newspaper reported that some European governments are taxing registered believers and then turning the collected tax over to the church. Apparently Catholics in Germany who refuse to pay the tax “will be denied sacraments, including weddings, baptisms and funerals”. I can only imagine the Lord’s reaction to supposed guardians of the faith who take it upon themselves to put a price on the basic outward expressions of Christianity. “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor 7:23 NIV)
October 01, 2012
It’s that time of year when gardens tend to over produce. I am amazed that every day I can find vegetables that I missed picking the previous day. I can understand cucumbers being overlooked because they blend so well with the leaves. But for the life of me I can’t understand ripe tomatoes – bright red, orange and yellow – that are able to escape my contortions of bending, stooping and lifting of leaves. Transferring this image to fellow believers makes me laugh. No doubt I’ve been guilty there as well of overlooking the Fruit of the Spirit that they produce.
September 28, 2012
Recently a woman asked the prayer chain for prayers to stop the progression of a disease, but the qualifier was, “She wishes to remain anonymous, but God know who this woman is.” We sometimes use that same thought in worship services when we take public prayer requests and then the speaker adds the caveat that if you can’t express your request out loud to the congregation it’s OK because God still knows your need. Certainly we would all agree that God knows our needs, but I can only imagine what the Apostle Paul would have to say about anonymous burdens. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2 NIV)
September 27, 2012
When my son was in the 4th grade his teacher suffered from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). From the very first day of class she let her students know that if she were physically having a bad day she would warn them so that they could then be on their best behavior. Not long after starting 5th grade Troy came home from school frustrated and mad at his new teacher. Apparently the entire class had gotten into trouble and through tears Troy said, “We didn’t know. He didn’t even tell us he was having a bad day!” On the Day of Judgment I suspect there will be many who look at God through their tears and wonder why He didn’t warn them that He was having a bad day. “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8 NIV)
September 26, 2012
With all the upheaval in the world I’ve been considering buying a small hand gun. The style I’m leaning toward is a small, light weight revolver with a laser. The salesman showed me the simplicity of turning on the laser and I was a little startled by the red dot that appeared on the wall. Somehow the gun with the laser seemed more intimidating than the same model without the laser. The salesman didn’t see the humor when I suggested that maybe all I needed was the laser to point at an intruder. God doesn’t use a visible laser when He is aiming for our hearts, but in a way I wish He would. It would be a good reminder for me that God’s sights are always set on every human heart.
September 25, 2012
In videos of the unrest in Libya there are clips where militants are attacking businesses and government offices in order to disrupt the establishment. One video clip shows a neighborhood with three torched police cars with flames shooting through the windows. As the vehicles burned a couple of the rebels were aggressively beating the cars with sticks. I was laughing as I thought, “Look, the cars are already dead…move on.” As believers Paul reminds us that we need to have purpose when we are running the race and fighting the good fight. “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.” (1 Cor 9:26 NIV)
September 24, 2012
Last week the organizing of a church member’s funeral had some scheduling conflicts, so the decision was made to set up the family viewing area at the church. The night before the service the open casket was put in place and the flowers arranged. There was only one minor detail that was overlooked…no one remembered to tell the early morning cleaning crew that the deceased was in residence. I can only imagine that these two ladies were as shocked to find the occupied casket as the two Marys were to find an empty tomb. “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matt 28:5-6 NIV)
September 21, 2012
There are those who recently attended a County Commissioner meeting where their whole purpose was to inflame public opinion and belittle the Commissioners. One speaker admitted that a few days before he had put in a request for public information, but he didn’t want to wait for the answers to come through the proper channels because “wanted them answered in a public meeting”. It is no coincidence that this is an election year and two of the three commissioners are running for reelection. Whether in the Middle East or in the United States, those who incite discord among the people today are no different than those recorded in Scripture, “But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.” (Acts 17:5 NIV)
September 20, 2012
My mother, bless her heart, perfected the art of never forgetting an infraction. Many years ago she was in a doctor’s waiting room for an extended length of time and she eventually left without ever seeing the doctor. She held a grudge against this doctor because he didn’t have the courtesy to at least tell her why there was a hold up in the scheduled appointment. Fast forward 20 years and this same doctor, whom she had never met before, actually saved her life by putting in her pacemaker. She admitted the doctor gave her excellent care, but she couldn’t let go of the fact that at one time he had kept her waiting. Spiritually speaking believers can fall into a similar trap when we expect the Lord to keep our scheduled appointments.
September 19, 2012
Occasionally we’ll hear of a surgeon stopping an operation in mid-surgery because his patient’s condition is worse than first expected. In lay terms we say, “They just closed him back up because there wasn’t anything else they could do.” I always think of this dire situation through the eyes of the patient and his loved ones, but I forget the role of the surgeon and the helplessness he must be feeling. Jesus is the Great Physician and I can imagine the sadness He must feel when all he can do in the hearts of some people is to close the patient back up.
September 18, 2012
It has been a year since one of our older gents from church was widowed and he continues to be somewhat at a loss and grieving. Like many others during their later years of life he says, “I don’t know why I’m still here.” We compassionately accept this thought from the elderly because after years of laboring for the Kingdom we know some of them are feeling tired and they want to go home to be with the Lord. Is it possible that when we are weary we take it upon ourselves to measure our own usefulness to the Lord? “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2Cor 10:12 b NIV)
September 17, 2012
I get irritated and feel short changed when a speaker opens his presentation with, ‘I really didn’t know what I was going to talk about, but at the last minute I came up with this thought…’ I can’t help but wonder how some of these procrastinators would feel if they arrived at the pearly gates only to learn that the Lord waited until the last minute to come up with a design idea for their place in heaven. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 NIV)
September 14, 2012
In my overview of the Minor Prophets I was struck by how patient God is with people and nations. I’ve always felt that if God applied corrective action sooner rather than later, most of us would learn more quickly from our mistakes. However, it just dawned on me that if God were to strike us with lightening at every sinful infraction our obedience would be out of fear, not out of freewill. My focus on God’s seeming slowness in reacting to sin is apparently misdirected. Sinful issues are all around and as a spectator I want to see God smite the offender. However, what I should be looking for and learning from, is God’s grace, patience and mercy towards the offender.
September 13, 2012
The City Council in a neighboring community finds themselves caught between a rock and a hard place over a zoning issue. There is immense political pressure from two opposing factions, one business and the other environmental. Instead of making a decision on the zoning, the Council punted and will put the issue on the April ballot to let the people decide. I was reminded of Biblical characters who also shirked their leadership duties. Aaron let the people decide whether to worship God or a golden calf and Pilate let the crowd decide who should be set free, Jesus or Barabbas. There is no doubt that we can all think of times when the Lord has put us in leadership roles and we relinquished decisions to others by asking, “So what do you think we should do?”.
September 12, 2012
Last week my brother-in-law came to worship at our church and he plans to come back next week. Ray is a believer, however he is not actively a part of any church family. A week from now Ray is schedule for cancer surgery and he knows the Lord has the power to heal, but he also recognizes the power of believer’s prayers. Jesus has told us we are the light of the world, but I’m wondering if we sometimes forget that we also give light to everyone in the house. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matt 5:14-15 NIV)
September 11, 2012
Eight of the 259 homes lost in the June 2012 High Park fire belonged to firefighters. In a fund raising event for the volunteer fire department one of the wives was talked into baking a pie to be auctioned off, but she lamented that since the fire she’d forgotten how to bake. She went on to explain that her rolling pin, pie plates, oven and her mother’s 1947 cookbook were all burned up. Over the centuries we’ve heard accounts and reports of God’s people being deprived of or even losing the Word. I can only imagine that they too woke up from their catastrophe feeling that they somehow lost the ability to worship. “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:10-11 NIV)
September 10, 2012
In the current political environment I heard a Hispanic politician ask, “When have you ever seen a Hispanic panhandling or begging?” He went on to say that in his culture it is an embarrassment to the family for anyone to beg. I think he has a point. Hispanics may take advantage of the social services offered in the community, but I have never seen a Hispanic panhandling. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the shrewd manager. The manager was about to lose his position and said to himself, “What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg.” (Luke 16:3 NIV) I’m wondering if the element of being too embarrassed or ashamed to beg has been lost in today’s society.
September 07, 2012
Founder of the Unification Church the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah, has died at age 92. I have a classmate who, in her search for God, wound up spending three years in spiritual captivity under the oppression of the Moonies. In the 1980’s Deanna wrote a book, Life Among the Moonies chronicling the dehumanization she witnessed and experienced and how she escaped the cult. If I were in Deanna’s place today I would be rejoicing at the news of Moon’s death – not for the loss of his soul, but that other souls might now be saved from deception. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matt 24:10-11 NIV)
September 06, 2012
A 92 year-old WWII veteran shot and killed an intruder who broke into his home. The elderly man said that he had no fear because his war service gave him the skill and the right to carry a gun, “I aimed right for his heart.” Spiritually speaking I believe we can learn something from this veteran. In our attempts to bring people to Christ we often take aim at their actions, attitude or their apparent lack of salvation. It strikes me that we might be more successful if we took aim at their heart. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Ro10:10 NIV)
September 05, 2012
A portion of Sunday’s sermon was about the lame excuses people make for not going to church. The congregation had a good laugh, because not only have we heard them all before, but some of us have even used them over the years. At the end of the service the preacher asked if there were any additional prayer requests that needed to be made known. A visitor in the back of the room raised her hand. “I know this was mentioned, but I have four young men up on the lake fishing right now and I told them I’d pray that they catch some fish. So I would like to ask that you pray for each boy to catch two fish.” Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. This appears to be a classic example of a sermon failing to hit its mark. “He who has an ear, let him hear.” (Rev 13:9 NIV)
September 04, 2012
Many years ago my father-in-law (now deceased) had a blood disorder that required blood transfusions. As the transfusions increased in frequency it became apparent that the best he would ever feel would be on the day of the IV and as soon as the transfusion was complete, his energy would begin deteriorating until the next IV. Spiritually speaking the same can be said for me as a believer. The moment I’m no longer being transfused with the Word I begin to deteriorate. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV)
September 03, 2012
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 NIV)
August 31, 2012
At first blush the remedy Jesus has for an unproductive plant, tree or disciple can seem pretty harsh. I have a better appreciation for the Lord’s view point when I look at the huge tomato plant in my mini garden. The plant is stout, sturdy and healthy and even though it’s loaded with flowers, there is no fruit on it anywhere. It is merely taking up space, water and sunlight. The thought of cutting it down and throwing it into the trash is not such a difficult decision after all.
August 30, 2012
A fellow believer is struggling with whether or not she can support Mitt Romney for President because she feels his religion is a cult. I view Mr. Romney as a person of faith, although he and I do not share the same faith. I’m reminded of the disciples wanting to stop a man from driving out demons because he was not “one of us”. Jesus said, “Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” There are some areas of doctrine where Mr. Romney is not one of us, but I have seen nothing indicating that he is against Christ. (Mark 9:38 NIV)
August 29, 2012
Because of the need for financial disclosure, Mitt and Ann Romney’s church tithing record has become public record. To their credit they have a respectable record of giving, but I can imagine their discomfort at having their donations put out for public consumption. Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:3-4).
August 28, 2012
I visited with a woman last Sunday whom I thought was a first time visitor, but later discovered she had been has been worshipping with us throughout the summer. I learned that she wintered in Arizona and summered in Colorado and was hoping to have dual membership so that she could have a home church in both locations. However, she did preface her membership desires by saying that she was reserved and not outgoing when it comes to joining activities. After worship I learned that another couple who has worshiped with us for a couple of years was pulling their membership because the church was not charismatic enough. Their leaning was more toward talking in tongues. We believers are a strange lot. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV)
August 27, 2012
Some people think it’s admirable for a man to support a woman’s right to choose, but I have to wonder if it is a cop out. Instead of letting the woman make the choice, I see it as burdening the woman to take all the responsibility for the decisions that are made. Essentially a man can easily shirk all his responsibility on the abortion issue by simply saying it’s a woman’s right to chose. I see shades of Adam in the Garden of Eden saying, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Gen 3:12 NIV)
August 24, 2012
As Jesus hung on the cross bystanders were heard saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes down to save him.” (Matt 27:49b NIV) I find it interesting that the more outspoken believers are about their faith, the more they are scrutinized. Bystanders are just watching to see if Jesus will come down and save them from every predicament and struggle they have in life. What they fail to realize is that, like Jesus, we’ve already been saved.
August 23, 2012
I remember being a new believer who, because I lacked biblical knowledge, felt ill-equipped to fight a lot of spiritual battles. I hated having to walk away from spiritual conversation because my footing wasn’t as good as that of my opponent. We all know the importance of using the Word when we are in combat with Satan, but we seem to think in terms of winning and losing. I’m now wondering if some of us are working on the wrong end game. Jesus said, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11:17-18a NIV) Rather than defeating or defending, the real victory is in dividing.
August 22, 2012
The fortune in my fortune cookie read, “If you must choose between the lesser of two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.” At first blush I laughed at what appeared to be the obvious, but when I applied that logic to political races, it gave me pause. Political parties are often putting forth such weak candidates that constituents do in fact make a choice based on what they perceive to be the lesser of two evils. Somehow I don’t think the Lord is impressed with our standard of measurement. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” (Ro 13:1a NIV)
August 21, 2012
With the tagline “Let her help”, our local newspaper is launching an advice column and encouraging readers to submit their questions to the author. I suspect that because syndicated advice columnists Dear Abby and Ann Landers are expensive to contract with, the proposed new column is a cost saving measure and the publisher is hoping that their readership will embrace an unknown author. The newspaper has given us the name of the author, but they failed to offer any credentials, qualifications or background information. I was reminded of Job’s friend Bildad who also thought himself qualified to give advice. Sarcastically Job critiqued his friend’s advice, “What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed!” (Job 26:3 NIV)
August 20, 2012
There are some people who, when they want to get out of a situation, look for or even create a reason to be offended. Occasionally their reasoning may have a ring of legitimacy, but more often than not it is a lame excuse that others can see through. Recently a church member wanted us to change our worship schedule to an earlier time slot so that people could then have more time to get out on the golf course on Sunday. Out of diplomacy the leadership took a survey, however the consensus of the congregation was to leave the time alone. The person making the request is now sending out signals that he will probably stop worshipping with us because, ‘No one listens to me’. Objectively the Apostle Paul says, “… 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 12:3b NIV)
August 17, 2012
On short notice I learned of a problematic meeting that was going to take place so I called one of the committee members to see if I needed to be there to lend my support. After making a few phone calls and giving it a little thought he felt the meeting was not in jeopardy of being hijacked, so he really didn’t think I needed to be in attendance. I was relieved that I didn’t have to rearrange my schedule in order to attend, but did add that I would hold the meeting up in prayer. He laughed, “Now that’s who we need to come to the meeting…we need God in there!”
August 16, 2012
Recently I was in a public meeting where a man made a racial slur during his time at the microphone. It was an awkward situation and the chairman, without making any comment, simply moved on with the meeting. After the meeting an audience member, who was of that heritage, was visibly upset because no one spoke up to condemn the comment. My first reaction was to agree with her that someone, presumably the chairman, should have interjected that racial slurs are not acceptable, nor would they be tolerated. However after giving it more thought I concluded that everyone in the room, including the person offended, could have or should have spoken up. I find it interesting that even in the church when something comes up that has an element of controversy, we’re always waiting for the other guy to speak up. “When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalms 138:3 NIV)
August 15, 2012
In 2008 my sister-in-law unabashedly stated that she voted for Obama because, “I wanted to be able to say that I voted for the first black American President.” Politically speaking I guess we’re all entitled to have our own standards. Spiritually speaking, it’s somewhat of a relief that the Apostle Paul gave us instructions for picking leaders in the church by narrowing down the eligibility field. “…I am writing you these instructions so that…you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:14-15 NIV) Seriously, if it were left up to us, can you imagine what type of individuals we might put in positions of leadership?
August 14, 2012
I have an account that requires I change my password every six months. Just making the change is frustrating enough, but the IT Department requires that you be a gymnast and jump through hoops to come up with a password you can never remember. The minimum requirements are:
· Is at least eight characters long
· Includes at least 1 uppercase letter (A-Z)
· Includes at least 1 lowercase letter (a-z)
· Includes at least 1 number (0-9)
· Does not include any portion of your name
· Is not a previously used password
Thank goodness my five letter salvation Password is simple…Jesus.Quoting the prophet Joel, Luke writes, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 NIV)
August 13, 2012
When I ask Bill to do something he will often in jest salute me saying, “Yes Boss, whatever you say boss. Yes ma’am.” I normally take his joking in stride, however if it is something that I have repeatedly asked him to do for me, it can get under my skin. The other day there was one of those occasions so I snapped back, “I’ve heard that before…that’s nothing more than lip service.” The Spirit wasted no time letting me know that there have been occasions where I too have offered lip service to the Lord. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and the teachers of the law concerning their lip service, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men’.” (Matt 15:7-9 NIV)
August 10, 2012
The automatic pilot in an Alaska Airlines airplane malfunctioned causing the cabin to lose pressure. In his analysis, one expert said, “When the automatic pilot fails, the pilot needs to know how to fly the plane.” No argument with me on that one. The concept did however cause me to think about those who are mature in the faith and so firmly planted in the Word that, spiritually speaking, we are often flying on automatic pilot. Personally speaking it’s a real shock when the Lord switches me to manual to test me and see if I really know how to fly.
August 09, 2012
I’m working on having a yard sale in a couple of weeks and when the task starts looking overwhelming I start procrastinating. I’d really like to have my whole house cleaned out all at once, but there are times when I just don’t want to go through one more closet or one more cupboard. Family members are gently and sometimes not so gently, encouraging me to keep going. At the moment, rather than cleaning out a whole room, my tendency seems to be to clean a little in this room and then a little in that room. Consequently no one room is completely finished. I’m wondering if I do the same thing when I’m trying to get rid of the sinful clutter in my heart. When I look at the sin I’ve piled up in the corners of my heart, it too can be so overwhelming that I just want to do a little picking up here and there and then leave the rest of it for another cleaning day.
August 08, 2012
Our church missions group is suggesting that we participate in year-round contributions to the local food bank. Each month we will be encouraged to donate specific items listed on a food-wheel. I have to tell you I’m somewhat agitated by the list. For August, September and October the items are laundry soap, hygiene products and paper products (toilet paper, napkins). How did we go from feeding the hungry to handing out boxes of Kleenex? No doubt there are good intentions behind the suggested donations, but I now feel there is a stigma attached to the food bank. I suppose it would be different if we were taking up donations for a laundry soap bank, a hygiene bank or a paper products bank.
August 07, 2012
It’s reported from the 2012 Olympics that badminton teams from South Korea, China and Indonesia have been caught deliberately losing their matches so they can gain a more favorable quarter final draw. My righteous indignation kicked in until I recognized that sometime we believers are also guilty of throwing our spiritual matches. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (I Cor 9:21 NIV)
August 06, 2012
In a local newspaper there is a weekly Sunday column titled You Said It…Here’s what’s on your mind. The forum allows people to have their say anonymously and some of the comments are critical, while others are complementary and praise worthy. In last week’s column a letter writer said, “Get your government hands off my food stamps.” Seriously? And yet I can see this jaw dropping comment filtering into the church. We want the assurance of salvation, but our actions are often saying to God, “Get your hands off my earthly life”.
August 03, 2012
Coming back from the fitness center the other morning I passed an SUV that had the back window rolled down and a dog’s head sticking out. It had rained the night before and the Golden Retriever, with his nose in the air and his large dangling tongue flapping in the wind, was getting a taste of the crisp morning. He was a really happy dog. “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8 NIV)
August 02, 2012
Yesterday I drove 120 miles round trip to have a meal at Chick-fill-A, and oh my goodness. At 12:30 there were three police cars in turn lanes with lights flashing and uniformed police officers directing traffic. The line of customers wove itself around inside the building and then spilled over into the parking lot where it snaked around the building. The city street at the side of the restaurant was bumper to bumper cars as it formed a new drive-through lane. Over a period of four hours I went back to the restaurant three different times hoping to find a lull, but none was to be seen. Even though I never made it all the way to the cashier line, I’m convinced that taking my place in the line of cars trying to get into the restaurant driveway showed my support. There was one lone protester carrying a homemade sign that read, “Love is love” and standing next to him on the corner was a white-haired Christian gentleman sharing Jesus’ love.
August 01, 2012
My niece, who I haven’t seen in over three years, was in town and some of our family got together for a quick lunch at a local fast food restaurant. The atmosphere didn’t lend itself to an in depth discussion, but I did learn that at age 45 she is living with an older man whom she calls her boyfriend. She is a grandma, compliments of her eldest son, and she allowed her youngest son to be adopted by her mother. Later that evening I emailed all the cousins to bring them up to speed on the brief mini-reunion and there was a fleeting moment the word gossip crossed my mind. I did some soul searching and concluded that what I passed on was not gossip, because she shared it openly. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13 NIV)
July 31, 2012
The critique on a new Bible translation, The Voice, says that it is written like a screenplay and cites the use of drama to make the Scripture come alive. I listen to the dramatized version of the NIV on CD and I appreciate how dramatization enhances the text without changing the text. However, The Voice adds to the text. An example is at the birth of Cain, “Eve (excited): Look I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal.” I suppose Eve may have been excited, but I hate it when an author tries to read between the lines for me.