In today’s society it seems common practice for people to value themselves above others. As an example of humble service Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to show them what they should do for others. I’d always felt Jesus reinforced his illustration when he told the disciples what they already knew, “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16 NIV). However, I now believe those in Jesus’ time were as self-centered as we are today. Apparently this truth revealed by Jesus was a new teaching, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (vs 17).
November 27, 2015
Bill received a weather station as an early Christmas present and son-in-law Tim helped him install the sensor on the peak of the house. With the wireless remote now on a shelf in the house we don’t even have to poke out nose out the door to know what the weather is like…wind speed, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and rainfall totals. As much as were going to enjoy our new toy, I’m also reminded of Jesus’ thoughts about the weather watchers of his time. When the Pharisees and the Sadducees demanded Jesus give them a sign from heaven he said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matt 16:2-3 NIV).
November 26, 2015
The world is in turmoil, but even in the midst of chaos both here and abroad, the Apostle Paul tells us to be thankful. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thess 5:16-18 NIV).
November 25, 2015
During a contentious public meeting the men were loud, confrontational and accusatory…each tried to outdo the others with their ego and diatribe. However, one woman sprinkled her comments with swear words. I suspect this was her attempt to make her mark amongst all the men, but I doubt they were impressed. “Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you — for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others” (Ecc 7:21-22 NIV).
November 24, 2015
The news reported on an Amish man who runs marathons in his traditional clothing of slacks, long sleeve shirt and suspenders, along with non-traditional sneakers. He went through a rebellious streak in his teens and his brother-in-law introduced him to running. The young man said that whenever he is tempted to sin he runs. Well now that’s a concept! Paul said, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22 NIV).
November 23, 2015
A public meeting was billed as finding candidates to run for elected office and a member of the audience made a veiled threat that boarded on candidate intimidation. He said, “Any candidate you run will look like fools when we call them out. We will ask them questions about what they don’t know! If you run a candidate, they better be able to answer [our] questions.” The Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the law devised questions for Jesus with the intention of discrediting Him and making Him out to be a fool. The Lord was not intimidated, but rather responded in a manner that exposed the folly of His questioners. “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (Proverb 26:5 NIV).
November 20, 2015
I have major email issues and in order to solve the problem I wound up with four different email servers, each doing a different function. With two I can receive emails, but not send out. With another I can send and receive, but none of my contacts are in that email address book. One is selective and will receive some, but not all emails. Currently I am cutting and pasting messages onto different servers until I have time to consolidate and get everything in one place. I have this image of the Spirit being similarly frustrated when He sorts through the mixed messages of believers…are they sending, receiving, deleting, saving…or simply dealing with junk mail. Paul said, “…but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1Cor 2:10-12 NIV).
November 19, 2015
I get irritated when my grandkids get in my car and start poking buttons. Occasionally my husband Bill will also change some settings and forget to put them back — rearview mirrors, seat position, radio station, dash lights. When I hop in the car and start down the road I either have pull over and do some resets, or just continue driving with a bad attitude and things out of kilter. Last night I had an evening meeting and as I drove out of the driveway I realized Bill had dimed the intensity on the dash board and I could hardly see the speedometer, much less any of the other controls. It took me about three blocks before I realized that even the street lights and house porch lights were not as bright as they should be. It’s amazing how things look when you’re driving at night with your sunglasses on! “Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).
November 18, 2015
I’ve mentioned to a few people that I scheduled a meeting with an official and each and every one of them has cautioned, “Do not meet with him alone.” Their reasoning is not that something inappropriate might happen, but that anything said might be twisted or manipulated. I’ll keep the scheduled meeting, but being mindful of the counsel from others I intend to record the conversation. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22 NIV).
November 17, 2015
Disconnected phone numbers and incorrect addresses are a couple of reasons I’ve had difficulties finding some of the churches I’ve wanted to visit. One address turned out to be a tattoo parlor, so I called the phone number listed and the man laughed and said, “Well, just get a tattoo and then come on upstairs to church!” The church, which was in a strip mall, had relocated to an upstairs room. However, in order to find the church entrance I had to drive through the alley, locate an industrial door with a small church sign and then climb a flight of stairs. At the conclusion of the service I told the pastor about my difficulty in finding them and he said, “Well we used to put a sign out front on the sidewalk, but we just got tired of putting it out.” I suspect that as individuals may of us are of a similar mindset. Having been believers most of our lives we forget the importance of putting out our own personal sign of hope and salvation. The writer of Hebrews said, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 6:19 20 NIV).
November 16, 2015
In his sermon on temptation the pastor took us back to the Garden of Eden, “In our mind we think the temptation of Eve took only a few moments. The truth is we don’t know how long it took — a day, a week, a year.” It’s a new thought to me that Eve may not have been so weak-willed that she jumped at the slightest temptation; and also that Satan might well needle us with the same temptations, the ones we are most vulnerable to, over long periods of time. Whether the temptation period is long or short, the antidote prescribed by James is the same, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).
November 13, 2015
Leif Babin, former Navy Seal and co-author of “Extreme Ownership,” spoke about leadership during a FOX News segment. He said those in leadership positions need to “…acknowledge failure and own their mistakes.” We rarely see that from politicians, but the same can be said about Christians. It’s easy for me to say I’ve failed, made mistakes and sinned…but quite another matter to take ownership and cite details and particulars to someone else. I’m not sure I can even remember the last time I confessed my sin to someone. James said, “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).
November 12, 2015
Recently a library ballot referendum was defeated by 519 votes and some in the community, including some Christians, are furious with the 519. A fellow believer even wrote a letter-to-the-editor saying that these people should be embarrassed by their vote. Those who villainize these folks are overlooking the fact that the vote was actually 5,618 to 5,099. I guess it’s easier to rationalize being angry with 519 than it is being angry with 5,618 voters. I’m amazed people can become so impressed with themselves that they think they can direct the lives of others, up to and including how to vote. In Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders he warned, “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
November 11, 2015
Fairly often I’ll get a forwarded email that has been doctored and fluffed up by each consecutive reader. There will be highlights, bold and underlined words, and fonts so large that a word wraps around to the next line. I normally delete the collage because it’s distracting to read and quite honestly I don’t need someone else telling me what they think is important. Thank goodness biblical scribes weren’t allowed to highlight portions of Scripture that they thought needed added emphasis. John wrote, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev 22:18-19 NIV).
November 10, 2015
It was frosty early Sunday morning as I looked out my kitchen window into my neighbor’s backyard. Three young adults dressed in jackets and hoodies were moving around trying to stay warm while they shared a joint and lite up a pipe. I know I’m naïve, but seriously, who smokes marijuana for breakfast? Although Proverbs 7 is a warning against adultery, marijuana might well fit the image of an adulteress, “At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment” (Proverbs 7:6-7 NIV).
November 09, 2015
The topic of our Sunday school lesson was “serving” and the teacher encouraged us to follow the example of Jesus and serve one another. As I reflected on how I serve others I thought of the many times people stopped me in my tracks by trying to repackage my service. For example, if I offer to bring a vegetable dish to the potluck, but the organizer of the event says she would rather have me on clean-up duty. Or, if I volunteer to serve as an adult Sunday school teacher and someone tries to assign me to the nursery. It is curious that people think they can be in charge of directing another person’s service. Peter did something similar when Jesus began washing the disciple’s feet. “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me...I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:8, 15 NIV).
November 06, 2015
Amongst local government agencies and community organizations the term “partnership” is used so liberally that it has become an illusion. The public perception presented is that everyone is working together; however, the reality is that not only are they working around each other, they often work against one another. Their actions seem remarkable similar to the deception Jacob perpetrated on his father Isaac when he disguised himself as his brother Esau. Unfortunately many of us in the community have weak eyes and are as blind as Isaac simply because we take the concept of partners that is presented to us at face value. “Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied” (Gen 27:22-24 NIV).
November 05, 2015
Many of us think in terms of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, reaching our community for Christ, or bringing someone to salvation. I had not thought in terms of my relationship with one person impacting their sphere of influence. For instance, I’ve befriended a single woman and while I sense my Christian witness has touched her life, I hadn’t considered that my witness might be extended through her to her young children, co-workers and extended family. I suspect I’ve underestimated the power of the Spirit to multiply my witness. Jesus said, “Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32 NIV).
November 04, 2015
Being on the do-not-call list hasn’t stopped my getting unsolicited phone calls. Normally I simply hang up, but the other day in frustration I called the number back. To my surprise the recording said, “If you think you have been called by mistake and want to be put on our no-call-list press five.” I now return unsolicited calls and often I’m able to get on the individual organization’s no-call-list. I haven’t stopped all the calls, but eliminating even a few has given me a sense of empowerment. Spiritually speaking, the devil is also on my do-not-call list, but that hasn’t stopped him from calling either. James said, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).
November 03, 2015
Some of my older friends are rebelling against age and they refuse to use walkers, oxygen tanks, and install handicap ramps. In spite of two broken hips and two fractured ribs my aunt, who is in her early 80’s, refuses to use a cane because, “She doesn’t want to become dependent on it.” It occurs to me that in many instances believers have a similar mind set. We don’t completely turn our lives over to the Lord because we don’t want to become too dependent. The Psalmist reminds us, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Psalm 62:5-7 NIV).
November 02, 2015
At the close of Sunday morning worship a visitor came forward and wanted to offer his testimony. In a nutshell he was born in the Czech Republic and had been in the US for almost two decades…sometimes legally, sometimes illegally. With a few rabbit trails he took us on his journey of finding God and included his concern for America’s decline and fear that if the US didn’t wake up we would someday resemble his former homeland. His testimony/political commentary in broken English was lengthy and while some people took their seats, others exited the building. I found it to be an awkward and worrisome situation that a man, whom none of us know, could simply walk in off the street and gain an audience with the congregation. Paul’s charge to Timothy is applicable to us today, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge…” (1 Tim 6:20 NIV).