The media is always writing about President Obama’s push to make policy that will “add to his legacy.” I find it curious that today’s politicians feel they can write their own story, rather than letting history determine whether or not they were accomplished leaders. In my mind the legacy of a believer is not so much what they accomplished on earth, but what they were able to pass on to others, or pass down to future generations. Paul wrote of such a legacy in the family of Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Tim 1:5).
April 28, 2016
Before getting the diagnosis on Bill’s pelvic fracture some friends and family offered suggestions of alternative doctors, specialists and treatments. While I appreciate the suggestions, all of them seemed premature while we were still in the process of running tests. On the religious landscape people of faith do something similar when we diagnosis one another’s spiritual health. Jesus’ disciples asked about a man they encountered who had been blind from birth, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:2 NIV). I suppose the disciples had visions of sending the man to the priest, or a doctor specializing in sin, rather than to The Healer.
April 27, 2016
Last week Bill’s medical tests revealed he has a fractured pelvis. While it is extremely painful, he can sit on pillows in a recliner and get some relief. Bill can’t sit on a regular chair, or walk without a cane, but last week from the comfort of his recliner his mind told him he could go to church on Sunday, make a run to Home Depot for some handicapped bars, and have coffee with the guys on Wednesday. Many of us can relate to the Jesus’ observation about His disciples, “…The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt 26:41b NIV).
April 26, 2016
In a recent newspaper article on property rights a spokesperson said, “Weeds don’t know a boundary unless they tumble up against a fence.” The “Song of the Vineyard” gives a clear description of what becomes of the land when the hedge, or the fence, is removed. “Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it” (Isaiah 5:5-6 NIV).
April 25, 2016
Bill and I were in the waiting room of the regional medical oncology center when an 84-year-old man on oxygen crumpled and fell to the floor. The lobby became a whirlwind of no less than 20 nurses, doctors and aids who were equipped with a wheeled blood pressure monitor, a defibrillator, and an oxygen mask. Once the man regained consciousness and was able to speak the EMT’s, who were dispatched from across the street, arrived with lights and sirens ablaze. It strikes me that mature believers, who are certainly equipped to handle a spiritual emergency when someone falls into sin, could take a lesson from our medical counterparts. Paul said, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2 NIV).
April 22, 2016
I attended a meeting of the local Botanical Society and prior to the program the president made a pitch to those who might want to join and become members. She said, “Some people think that in order to join you have to get your hands dirty, or bend low [planting and weeding]. That’s just not so.” I understand the intent of her comment and in the church evangelism is similar in that it encourages people to come to the Lord just as they are. However, leaders and others who are mature in faith often neglect to tell new believers that in order for them to grow and mature in the Lord, they will indeed get their hands dirty and bend low. Paul said, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11 NIV).
April 21, 2016
During my exercise walks I watched, over period of weeks, as young vandals demolished one of the stick built dugouts on the elementary school ball field. Even though the destruction was reported to the authorizes, it didn’t stop the vandalism from escalating to arson and the dugout was recently burned to the ground. I can’t help but wonder at the lack of parenting, but I’m having a hard time understanding why these young vandals would destroy something that was built for them and their peers. Paul reminds us to, “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).
April 20, 2016
In a neighboring community the Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers want to stop religious literature (Gideon Bibles) from being made available in middle schools. This group was afforded the same rights and they were allowed to put satanic literature, some of which was cartoonish, on a table in the school. I understand what the Atheists are trying to do. However, their battle is with school policy and policy makers. The willingness of these adults to use children as pawns is inexcusable. Jesus said, “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42 NIV).
April 19, 2016
I’ve known a few women who’ve made some very poor choices when it comes to the men in their life. After six marriages and divorces it’s hard not to do an eye roll when I hear they have once again found Prince Charming and a new Knight in Shining Armor. Let me admit that if I were one of the townsfolks who heard the testimony of the Samaritan woman who returned from Jacob’s Well after an encounter with Jesus I’d have said, “Yah right. You’ve met another man and he has told you everything you’ve ever done. We in the town know your reputation and we too can tell you everything you’ve ever done!” However, the point of the woman’s testimony is not her reputation, but that looking for the Messiah was in the forefront of her mind. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ” (John 4:29 NIV)?
April 18, 2016
Throughout the adult Sunday school-hour a charismatic brother with a booming voice interjected, “Thank you Jesus, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah…” Often his adulation drowned out the prayer requests and the teacher’s comments. His hand clapping, sidebar commentary and repeating the teacher’s words actually drew my attention to him and away from the Lord. No one wants to squelch the Spirit living in our charismatic brothers; however, Paul calls us to orderly worship, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33 NIV).
April 15, 2016
I attended a program on butterflies and learned they can, depending on the species, live for a day, a week, or for two seasons for those that hibernate. Because there is a decrease in the number of Monarch Butterflies some people want to put them on the endangered species list. The speaker pointed out that the Monarch’s migration is a one-way trip, “I don’t know how you would protect something that migrates all the way from Canada to Mexico.” How presumptuous of man to try and take God’s place in caring for his creatures. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (Mat 10:29 NIV).
April 14, 2016
I visited a photography club and the program presenter preferred shooting portraits and people over photos of landscapes and nature. He said, “There is no soul in a landscape. It could be a desktop photo, or a placemat. Take a picture of people working, studying, or in a religious setting…they tell the story that we are always looking for in a photograph.” In a similar manner, when believers live to please God and love one another, their actions tell a story and their soul is exposed. Paul said, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thes 4:11-12 NIV).
April 13, 2016
I had a brief conversation with a friend about ghosts and he felt that ghosts of the dead do hang around if there is unfinished business, or if the person died too suddenly. Putting this in a Christian context many of us would say that because there is always work to do in God’s kingdom, there is always unfinished business…and some of us are even surprised at how suddenly death knocks on the door. I’m trying to imagine Christian spirits with unfinished business who only thought they were going to rest from their earthly labors! For me, I need look no further than the example Jesus put before us as He hung on the cross. “A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:29-30 NIV).
April 12, 2016
On the national political landscape everyone is making up new rules as they go along to control Donald Trump and keep him out of the White House. Local politics are no different. After a recent election the old guard, in an attempt to control a controversial newly elected representative, made up a few new rules for him to abide by. Even in the church, leaders find it easier to write new rules and set policy, than to help believers mature. The Pharisees were insulted when Jesus exposed a similar practice. Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46 NIV).
April 11, 2016
I’ve read a couple of AP newspaper articles with the titles, “Pope emphasizes flexibility over rules for modern families,” and “Pope insists conscious, not just rules, must lead modern families.” I can understand where doctrine, if it is a belief instituted by man and taught by the church, might evolve to accommodate modern families. However, any implication that the Bible must somehow conform to each new age, or modern family, is dangerously close to pleasing people, rather than pleasing God. To suggest that one’s conscious, rather than the Word of God and the Spirit, is more capable of leading modern families elevates man over God. Paul said, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim 4:1-2 NIV).
April 08, 2016
Recently a laborious political email (bcc) was sent to a number of people in the community. When printed out the document, mostly single spaced, was 10 pages long. It should come as no surprise that by the time readers got through the information they completely ignored the disclaimer at the end of the document. Citing the Electronic Communication Privacy Act 18 2510-252, “… you are hereby notified that any dissemination or copying of this email message is strictly prohibited.” Needless to say the email was disseminated, forwarded and found its way to the media. I’m reminded that Jesus too attached a disclaimer to some of His miracles. Jesus healed two blind men and then warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region” (Matt 9:30-31 NIV).
April 07, 2016
I visited a club and during the business meeting the treasurer said, “If you don’t pay your dues you will be dropped.” Later in the meeting a retreat was discussed and the organizer said, “There is only room for 24 to attend.” Uncomfortable, the woman next to me said apologetically, “We sound so exclusive…like you could be voted off the island. I’m sure you wouldn’t immediately be dropped if you didn’t pay your dues.” I recognized my table mates wanting to soften the club’s rules and regulations, because we believers do something similar when we soften the Word of God and claim ignorance for our loved ones. Paul said, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom 1:18-20 NIV).
April 06, 2016
More than a dozen members of the community attended multiple meetings to object to a peace pole being installed on public library property. During the most recent library board meeting one board member summarized her view of the objectors, “It is what I would call religious fundamentalists who perceive the peace pole as a religious symbol… [and] a threat to God and the constitution.” I have to laugh at the absurdity of anything being a threat to God. A psalm of David, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2 NIV).
April 05, 2016
During the winter we parked our big green John Deer 28-inch snow blower in the breezeway between the house and the garage. A few weeks ago in the middle of the night someone stole it. Actually, because of the size and weight, it would have taken more than one person to lift it into a truck. I have no expectations of getting the snow blower back, but because the model and serial numbers were entered in the national and state crime information computer system, the thieves will have a harder time trying to sell, pawn or trade it in. I fall short of loving my enemy when at the same time I’m hoping they got a hernia from their dastardly deed. Jesus said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-31 NIV).
April 04, 2016
On the political landscape elected officials play the transparency card, but if there were true transparency there would be no need for subpoenas, public records requests and investigative reporters. On the spiritual level we’d like to think that Christians are above reproach; however, even they can lack transparency. Paul said, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God” (1 Cor 4:5 NIV).
April 01, 2016
On religious holidays like Easter many people go to church, not so much out of respect for the Lord, but out of respect for the family member who invited them. I find it curious that most of us invite loved ones to church on special occasions like Easter or Christmas, but fail to extend an invitation on the other 50 Sundays in the year. I suppose in the back of our mind we think the significance of the holiday gives us leverage and opportunity. Jesus however, didn’t wait for a festival, Passover, or the Sabbath to offer an invitation. A simple walk on the beach while fishermen were fishing was His opportunity, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matt 4:19-20 NIV).