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)