January 31, 2013
Losing his battle against cancer, Bob’s life was slipping away. His family knew he was heaven bound and they didn’t want him to linger. Though they had emotionally released him to the God, his wife and daughter, Earline and Sharla did have one request of the Lord. They had heard stories of angels being present to usher saints home when they die…and they wanted to see the angels. Monday night as the family was finishing supper the daughter-in-law came into the dining room with the news that Bob had passed. Although Earline and Sharla would like to have been by Bob’s side when he passed, they had to laugh at the Lord’s timing and sense of humor. At the exact moment of Bob’s death, they were eating angel food cake.
January 30, 2013
The media is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may be considering a retreat from their no-gays position. One of those being interviewed on TV was a young man in his late teens who had completed all the requirements for Eagle Scout, but the award was withheld by the BSA when he publically came out of the closet. The young man’s father supported his son saying (paraphrased), “The Boy Scouts promote being honest and telling the truth. My son should not be penalized for telling the truth.” So let me get this straight. You want to justify using lies and deception throughout a scouting career by finally telling the truth. Actually, my angst is not as much with the son, as it is with the father. Not that the dad has any sway over the son’s sexual orientation, but he is the adult. He is the one who should have been promoting honesty and truth telling. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
January 29, 2013
Last summer about a third of our congregation went on a weekend campout together, which put a void in the Sunday morning worship service. Not that those of us who remained were the sick, lame and blind, but we were the crowd that is no longer suited for sleeping in tents, going without indoor plumbing or braving the elements. At the church it was apparent that we had some missing body parts. Our singing lacked its normal volume and some of our older communion servers, who only thought they had retired from serving, were called up for duty. I love the fact that even when we are separated by distance, we are still equipped to function as one body. “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be….As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1Cor 12:18, 20 NIV)
January 28, 2013
When my children were in school I was very attentive to their curriculum, teachers, and environment. If books were not appropriate, I got on the curriculum committee and worked to change what the school district purchased. When a teacher started teaching eastern meditations and spiritualism, I transferred my child to another class. Today I hear a lot of criticism about what is being taught in colleges, including Bible Colleges. As a non-traditional student going to a Christian college, I now understand some of the criticism and concerns. Some professors and academic types want young people to set aside their previous life and educational experiences so that they are more moldable for higher level thinking. No doubt some of my professors are lamenting the fact that this 64 year-old student is not as impressionable and moldable as the traditional student. Is it possibly that what is missing on the college landscape is lack of parent involvement?
January 25, 2013
Four Americans were killed in Benghazi, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified about the attack in a hearing before Congress. When she was questioned on the motivation for the attack she became angry and fired back, “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” My mind turned to the 26 children and adults who were killed at Sandy Hook and I wonder if any politician dare say the same thing. This type of attitude can also be seen in the church where some might think, what difference does it make why Jesus died on the cross? Peter reminds us that it does make a difference, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1Peter 3:15a NIV)
January 24, 2013
I’m fascinated by the flow of traffic in a metro area. The on and off ramps, overpasses and varying speed limits are all designed to allow cars to merge smoothly in and out of traffic. When everything goes according to plan, drivers can speed-up or slow down, pacing themselves according to the traffic flow. Of course there are always drivers who are reckless, distracted, or simply out for a Sunday drive. I think we in the church might have some things in common with those drivers on the freeway. I have a vision of new believers trying to merge into the traffic of seasoned fellowship. Too timid and they might get run over, too aggressive they might get shut out or cut off. I think back to my formative years in faith and I’m thankful for those believers who yielded and allowed me merge into traffic without honking their horn or shaking their fist.
January 23, 2013
I’m taking on-line classes and when the Old Testament Survey class professor emailed my grades for the first two lessons, I was transported back to junior high with that dreaded report card in my hand. I remember as a kid always being afraid to look at my report card because I never knew what to expect. Today I like the idea of going back to school, but I hate the thought of spending the next two years being anxious about grades. When I shared my concerns with my cousin he advised, “Don’t worry about the grades, just pass the class. No one is ever going to go back and look at what your grades were.” I thought he made a good argument, but my Expository Writing professor shot his theory to pieces. When I send my papers in for grading, she simply keeps sending them back for correction. Often our motivation for making respectable grades is to meet requirements, or to please others. I have to confess that I’d never considered pleasing Jesus with my schoolwork. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17 NIV)
January 22, 2013
About a year ago a fellow believer came to me asking my forgiveness and confessing that he had been harboring anger in his heart toward me and spreading rumors. Even though he knew that as a Christian he was in error, he believed he was justified in his feelings. I would have felt different about his confession had he not then gone on to reveal it had a direct correlation to upcoming political activities. He thought I might hold sway in the public arena and was worried I would say something that would shed a negative light on his business and his reputation. I see some similarities in the recent confession of Lance Armstrong. In the spirit of forgiveness I can accept both confessions, but I do wonder about the motivation of a confession that is self-serving and career-saving. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:9-10 NIV)
January 21, 2013
Newsweek magazine is celebrating the swearing in of Obama for a second term. The cover of their on-line version of the magazine shows the President looking reverently up into the heavens with the headline proclaiming, “The Second Coming”. My spiritual blood boiled, but when I turned it down to a simmer, I thought more rationally. The bottom line is that the magazine is trying to sell more magazines and any battle belongs not to me, but to the Lord. On the night Jesus was arrested He reminded his companions that their defending swords were not the right response. “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:53 NIV).
January 18, 2013
Steve commented on a recent blog that the conversation of older folks always seems to turn to aches, pains and bodily functions. I began to wonder if we don’t somehow open that conversational door ourselves. When we greet one another we usually ask something like, “How are you? How are you feeling?” Maybe we should be asking more thought provoking questions like, ‘How are you finances?’ or ‘How are you doing emotionally?’ Or better yet, we could truly turn the conversation upside down by asking, “How are you doing spiritually? Don’t just tell me you’re doing fine. I really want to know how things are going for you spiritually.” This is not such a farfetched idea, as members of Christ’s body it’s absolutely appropriate to talk about our bodily functions.
January 17, 2013
We can hardly get out of a store or a restaurant without the smiling cashier asking, “Would you like to donate to_____?” Of course they are all worthy causes and even though the fundraiser is trying to put a face to those who are suffering, I often can’t see past the corporate structure. I don’t discount giving to organizations, but I think the Lord wants us to be invested in benevolence and have a connection that we can see for ourselves. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’” (Matt 25:37-39 NIV)
January 16, 2013
If you own a telephone or a TV you are likely acquainted with Rachel from Card Services and Doug, a victim of mesothelioma. Not to diminish Doug’s health issue, but do you ever wonder what happened to Doug? Did he go into remission or did he succumb to his disease? Once in awhile I’ll run into a fellow believer whose conversation is similar to that of Rachel and Doug and they repeat the same thing over and over again. It’s as though they take their favorite passage of Scripture and turned it into a witnessing advertisement. Not that repetition of Scripture is bad, but I wonder where the church would be today if Paul had witnessed like that.
January 15, 2013
My friend, who has blood disorder, has had blood transfusions for over a year. Even though the situation has steadily deteriorated, his wife of almost 65 years recently said, “I’m just not yet ready to let him to go.” All this time they could make the decision on when to stop the transfusions and I’m sure they felt they had an element of control over his life. This last week it was determined by doctors that the transfusions are no longer working effectively and they will be stopped. I can only imagine being in the wife’s place and having to pry my fingers off the control button and giving it back over to God. Jesus reminds us that whether it is for ourselves, or for others, when it comes to death we really have no control. He said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke12:25 NIV).
January 14, 2013
Even though I’ve had my flu shot, I still take precautions. Sunday after church we considered going to a buffet restaurant until I started thinking about all those hands that touch the same serving spoon and all the youngsters serving themselves who, bless their hearts, are walking Petri dishes. Spiritually speaking, when we accept Jesus we are inoculated against sin, but that doesn’t mean we are immune. James’ suggested precaution includes, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double–minded.” (James 4:7-8 NIV)
January 11, 2013
A few nights ago about midnight I was startled from sleep by what sounded like something smaller than a bread box falling somewhere in the house. First I looked out the front and backyard windows just in case the noise actually came from outside. Then I started going through each room looking for something out of place…I might add that all the while I’m playing detective Bill is sleeping well. Finding nothing out of place, I returned to bed praying that God would reveal what had fallen so I could clean it up and that I could easily go back to sleep. I knew I hadn’t dreamed the noise, so the following days I continued to scan the house for the noisemaker. Finally I found the culprit. Apparently my hair curler bag under the sink toppled into a large bottle of hand lotion which on its way down crashed into an aluminum bottle of air gel. Even though it turned out not to be a big deal, my relief of just knowing was a big deal. I think we can see this same scenario played out spiritually when one life situation bumps into another. What a relief when the cause and effect is revealed by the Spirit.
January 10, 2013
The man in charge of organizing other men in our church to serve communion called to say he would be out of town on Sunday and he then proceeded to pass along a detailed list of the duties for the servers. Realizing he was overdoing the instructions he chuckled, “What can I say…I’m an engineer.” We often forget that when people become part of the body of Christ they don’t simply leave their career and personality at the church threshold. Even though the disciples left their nets on the shore of Galilee to follow Jesus, they didn’t leave behind their nature of being fishermen. Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19 NIV)
January 09, 2013
I am not a fan of David Letterman, but his reported interview with Oprah Winfrey caught my attention. Letterman acknowledges seeing a psychiatrist once a week and said, “For a long time I thought I was a decent guy, but yet thinking I was a decent guy, I was still capable of behavior that wasn’t coincidental to leading a decent life. I really want to be the person I believe that I was.” His comments were eye opening for me. I have never understood why people do dastardly deeds and then act as though nothing is amiss. I give people credit for being intelligent enough to know right from wrong, so to me their choosing to do wrong, for whatever reason, is a deliberate action. It never occurred to me that in their mind they perceived themselves as being a decent person. Paul understood this inner struggle, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Ro 7:21 NIV) However, he didn’t deceive himself saying, ‘What a decent man I am!’, but rather, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord...” (Ro 7:24-25a NIV)
January 08, 2013
Couples in serious dating relationships are often cautioned to re-consider the idea of marriage if they have any thoughts about changing the other person. It’s interesting how we can view a person with different habits and personalities as being a fixer-upper. I sometime wonder if people don’t come to Jesus with a similar pre-disposition. We become the Bride of Christ, but then we’d like to do a little fixing-up on the Jesus we fell in love with. Rather than conforming to the likeness of Christ, we subconsciously expect Him to become more like us. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Ro 8:29a NIV)
January 07, 2013
The parking lot at a local recreational site was snow packed, icy and congested with people and cars. In an attempt to avoid hitting another vehicle the driver of an SUV swerved, hitting two pedestrians and killing them. A bystander reported hearing the driver say, “I should have just hit the car. It would have been better to hit the car.” No doubt we all wish we could avert tragedy through the lens of hindsight, but that just isn’t possible. I can imagine the after-the-fact regret for Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit, Moses striking the rock which kept him from entering the Promised Land and David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Even when we are without excuse God says, “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)
January 04, 2013
Rivers in Colorado have a problem with tamarisk, an invasive species of bush that is squeezing out native vegetation. The State is working at eradicating the tamarisk, not only because it is invasive, but because it also sucks up a tremendous amount of water. Recently a newspaper reported on visitors taking a float trip down the Colorado River and seeing the dead and dying brown shrubs. They wondered if it was drought related and they were sad for our loss of vegetation. The reporter asked, “Is the death of the tamarisk sad or long overdue?” The world might look at faith in Jesus in a similar way, but from the perspective of the believer, death of the sinful nature is not sad. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Ro 6:11 NIV)
January 03, 2013
Homosexual marriage is not a visual I want stuck in my head and it has me thinking about Catholic priests who listen to confessions on a regular basis. I wonder if the priest can then get the ‘sin-stuff’ of others out of his head, or if it resurfaces and replays like a bad movie. I can’t help but think that listening to the depravity of man might somehow affect one’s own moral conscious. Or maybe the sinner simply confesses a sin, without going into the details. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)
January 02, 2013
The Hippocratic Oath is often credited for the phrase “first do no harm”, but the essence of the phrase is actually found in the Hippocratic Corpus. Normally the sentiment is applied to the medical field and the physical body, but I’m wondering if it might also be applicable to the spiritual well being of fellow believers and our interaction with one another. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Ro 15:1-2 NIV)
January 01, 2013
Most New Year’s resolutions have common denominators of being self-serving and easily broken. David has me pondering his God-serving resolve. “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.” (Psalm 17:3 NIV)