May 31, 2012
Bill confessed to eating not one, but two lemon bars. “I just couldn’t resist. No…I didn’t resist!” I think we all give temptation a lot of power and authority that it really doesn’t deserve. Temptation isn’t really in the sin category, it’s merely a precursor to sin. As often as temptation comes our way you would think that we would be able to recognize it by seeing the red flags, hearing sirens go off and feeling the change in the atmosphere. But no, we take the bait and then blame temptation for the sin that follows. I’m not suggesting Bill’s second lemon bar was a sin, I had two myself. However, the thought of resisting never entered my mind. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)
May 30, 2012
A shopping cart with defective wheels drives me nuts. I usually grab a cart, take a few steps with it and then turn around and swap it for one that rolls smoothly and doesn’t carry on a conversation with itself. If I have to settle for a noisy cart, by the time I’m finished shopping I have a really bad attitude - I’m mad at the store, the clerks and the other shoppers. Recently a friend told me that she really doesn’t mind a cart with a squeaky wheel, “I look at it like this, people can hear me coming and they get out of my way.” The next time I went to the store I decided to give her outlook a try. She was right. Even people standing in the middle of the aisle who were oblivious to other shoppers heard me coming and gave me a wide berth. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. I also found that I connected with fellow shoppers, even if it were simply a sympathetic look of, ‘you poor dear, I understand your pain.’
May 29, 2012
A Sunday Morning news show was discussing the scandal of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler leaking documents to the media. Implying that Pope Benedict is not minding the store an observer said, “Pope Benedict’s failing is because he is only a theologian and not a ruler.” I’m surprised. I thought all the hoopla surrounding the selection of the Pope has the appearance of it being a decision on whether or not the man is a theologian and spiritually qualified…not whether he is qualified as a ruler. According to Catholic tradition the first Pope was the Apostle Peter. I don’t think Scripture paints him as either a theologian or a ruler, Jesus just considered him to be a fisher of men.
May 28, 2012
Memorial Day is a time to remember our fallen. However as believers the significance is not just about the fallen, but it’s also about those who will rise again. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1 NIV)
May 25, 2012
For me it’s easier to look back on my life if I have a few photos to jog my memory. I remarked to Bill that we just aren’t taking pictures like we used to and someday we may regret not remembering the way we were. Bill’s thought processes took a complete 180, “I don’t need photos to remind me I’m not who I used to be.” He laughed, “When I die I want you to do like everyone else does with the obituaries. I want you to find the best looking photo of me in my 20’s so people will remember what I looked like then, not what I look like today.” I’m not sure if the Spirit is into reading obituaries, but if He were I’m sure He would say Bill is much better looking today than he was in his 20’s.
May 24, 2012
When I break a routine it’s a real struggle to get motivated again. At the fitness center the other morning one member who hadn’t been working out for sometime was greeted by another member, “We’ll, you found your way back.” I was struck that the man returned of his own accord without the involvement of others. No one called him up, sent him a card or tried to remind him that he has been missing in action. In fact, he wasn’t even greeted with a, ‘we’re glad your back’. I’m wondering if believers put too much emphasis on dragging missing sheep back to church, when we really should be focusing on being at peace while they find their own way back.
May 23, 2012
The drainage ditch running past my house is home to a pair of Mallard ducks who recently became parents of quads. The other afternoon little ones were out for a swimming lesson and all lined up behind mom and dad. Because they were going with the flow it should have been an easy float trip, but the last little guy in line got high centered a cattail reed coming out of the water. By the time he dislodged himself his parents and siblings were around the bend and out of sight. I’ve been there. I can get hung up on a verse of Scripture that I just heard in the sermon and while I’m wrestling with it the rest of the folks have already moved on.
May 22, 2012
When I think about something being refreshed my mind goes to the icon on my computer, the pine scented air-freshener hanging from a rear view car mirror or to Sunday morning worship. I’ve not really considered that some of my fellow believers are actually in the refreshment business. In writing to Philemon, Paul said, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” (Philemon 1:7 NIV)
May 21, 2012
My mind was elsewhere when I came up to the big glass door of an office building. I fully expected the manual door to open automatically, but by the time I realized I was my own doorman, I had to do a stutter step and to keep my nose off the glass. I sometimes do something similar with Jesus because there is this expectation that once I’ve accepted Him as Lord and Savior the door opens automatically. “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt 7:8 NIV)
May 18, 2012
The other day when I was on the highway driving to another town the SUV behind me was matching my speed and staying right on my bumper. After about five miles I picked up speed and went around the truck in front of me just to see if I could shake the tailgater. The SUV then snuggled up tightly to the truck and seemed to be content in the trucker’s blind spot. It finally dawned on me that the driver of the SUV was probably trying to conserve his own gas by drafting other vehicles. I’ve known believers whose actions resemble that of the tailgater. Rather than exerting any energy on personal Bible study, they come to class content to just draft off those who have done their study and are prepared to discuss the lesson.
May 17, 2012
Most of us can look at our past and realize that, generally speaking, the focus of maturing spiritually was better in our yester-year than it is currently. Today we seem to be satisfied with Bible-Lite – a watered-down version of the Word. Certainly Paul dealt with something similar when he told the Corinthians, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” (1 Cor 3:1-2 NIV) At one time we were all infants in Christ, but leave it to Paul to burst that contentment bubble by suggesting that being an infant in Christ is no different than being worldly.
May 16, 2012
Sometimes when we teach, lead or preach we inadvertently try to please our audience and we become politically correct. Recently a preacher presented some good, well founded thoughts, but then he lost me when he said, “I hope I didn’t offend anyone…” The conversation in my head began, ‘Why are you apologizing? You just spoke a message of truth from the Word of God’. People in the world often look for ways to be offended by the truth of God’s Word, but as believers we should never be offended when the truth is presented. James says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” (James 1:18 NIV)
May 15, 2012
Jesus may have been referring to Jewish exorcism when he talked about an evil spirit seeking a place to rest after it had come out of a man. When the evil spirit does not find rest it returns to the house it left. “When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits... and they go in and live there.” (Luke 11:25-26 NIV) This certainly sheds a new light on re-possession.
May 14, 2012
Six year-old Lydia decided she wanted long hair, so for the last few months she hasn’t had her hair cut. However recently she told her mother, “I think it’s time to get my hair cut, it’s been growing long enough.” We believers are so much like Lydia. We ask God for patience and self-control and then a week later we do our own assessment and think we’ve been patient-ing and self-controlling-ing long enough.
May 11, 2012
A recent edition of the Daily Sentinel newspaper shows a photo of a young man on his knees at an Interstate off ramp holding a sign that says, “Please Help Hungry”. When the reporter asked why he was on his knees, the young man said that he was begging and praying. The kneeling man didn’t have any trouble telling the reporter his first name, ‘Lu’, but then made reference that he had changed his last name to ‘Cifer’. You can’t help but wonder who the young Mr. Lucifer is praying to and kneeling before. No doubt some unaware Christian travelers do support his begging, but personally I think the young man’s solicitations are misdirected. “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NIV)
May 10, 2012
Recently one of our young men gave an exceptional communion meditation. After the service I overheard a woman asking him if he had written it himself and he said, “Yes”. Showing she underestimated the young man’s talents she said in disbelief, “Did you really write it?” The young man again said, “Yes”, but I’m not sure the woman was convinced. No doubt many of us do something similar when we hear God’s response loud and clear and yet we ask Him, ‘Did You really say that?’
May 09, 2012
The first thing many of us do when we come into our house is to check the answering machine for messages. I have friends who, when they don’t have any messages will joke, “Well, I guess nobody loves us.” But when there are no messages, they also breathe a sigh of relief that there is no crisis in the family to worry about. I have to wonder about the messages we leave for God. Do I send as many messages of love as I do for crisis intervention?
May 08, 2012
In my last few newsletter interviews the subjects were one man and two women who ranged in age from 64 to 22 years. All three are active in the church, well founded in their faith and they all described themselves as shy. Normally when someone confesses to being shy, or even painfully shy, we consider it part of their character and accept them as they are. We work around their shyness to help make them feel more comfortable and we go out of our way to be inclusive. I’m now wondering if people ever consider their shyness as something to put at the feet of the Lord or do they simply plan on carrying it with them to the pearly gates.
May 07, 2012
Using the passing lane on an uphill climb I zipped past a small car in my van. Almost immediately my hands free phone rang and when I answered the voice at the other end said, “Don’t you think you’re going a little fast there?” Squinting in the rearview mirror I tried to connect the voice with a face, but I finally had to ask who I was speaking to. I was relieved to learn it was a former colleague who was driving her mother’s car. We had a good laugh, but the situation reminded me that God isn’t the only one keeping an eye on us.
May 04, 2012
Sometime back there was a story in the media about a dog that was put up for adoption because the owner, a Korean, could no longer care for him. The dog found a new home, but appeared to be struggling with depression. No matter what the adoptive family did or said the dog just moped around. Four and a half years later the original the owner reappeared and the dog was immediately transformed when he heard the Korean language spoken. As the Good Shepherd Jesus says, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:4-5 NIV)
May 03, 2012
While playing on the school swings nine year-old David got a rock in his shoe. He took off the shoe and then as he was retying his sneaker his aunt asked if he’d gotten the rock out. “No,” said David, “I just moved it to where it doesn’t hurt.” I have to say that in spite of all the thoughts running through my head I was speechless. I can’t help but wonder if the Spirit doesn’t sometimes feels the same way with us when we just move our sin to a place where it doesn’t hurt.
May 02, 2012
I just heard a report on an atheist group trying to force a community to remove a war memorial that has been standing in the town square for 91 years. The offending memorial is of course in the shape of a cross. I think it is unfortunate that we simply refer to these people as ‘an atheist group’, rather than exposing the names of the individuals involved. Certainly Satan gets more embolden when he has anonymity. Judas Iscariot had eaten with Jesus and claimed to be his friend, but he was identified as the betrayer. I can’t help but wonder if some of those from the atheist group have also dipped their hand into the same bowl with believers.
May 01, 2012
My cousin had gone to the funeral of a friend and was so moved by the eulogy written by the husband for his wife that she asked him for a copy. Sixty-four year old Linda, who struggled with a rare form of cancer, passed away last week. Her husband Ken fought the disease with her every step of the way and when she died he was by her side holding her hand. He said of her last moments on earth, “I held her hand all the way to the gates of heaven.” And there is no doubt that Jesus was waiting at the gate to take her hand.