I continue to contemplate the church leaders and paid ministry staff who publicly confessed to being cold, slothful and not diligent in the study of God’s Word, or hearing the Word of God. “We have not honored the Spirit of God; we’ve had little of the mind of Christ; and we courted honor from men, not Christ.” The confession indicates the error of their ways is not new and to some extent, it has been tolerated or ignored by the congregation. Paul wrote that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. It occurs to me that those of us who are mature in the faith have a right to hold preachers, leaders and ministerial staff accountable; however, as Paul said, “But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor 9:12b NIV).
November 29, 2016
Incorporated in the worship service of a local congregation was a video montage of the large staff confessing their sins as church leaders. “We are here to say we have failed and we have been wrong and we ask your forgiveness.” They confessed being cold, slothful and not diligent in the study of God’s Word, or hearing the Word of God. “We have not honored the Spirit of God; we’ve had little of the mind of Christ; and we courted honor from men, not Christ.” I’ve never seen nor heard of such a confession and I’m trying to wrap my head around not only the confession, but the manner of presentation. 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 NIV).
November 28, 2016
We accepted an email potluck dinner invitation and since I seldom go anywhere without being prepared I mentally refreshed my mind on who I thought would attend so I could get the right husband’s name with the right wife. We were the first to arrive and as the 30 or so other invitees began to filter into the house there were no recognizable faces to put with my names. I suspect we somehow wound up the wrong email invitation list. All the attendees, even though relatively new to the community, had established relationships and came from a different economic and recreational status than mine…golf and skiing are not part of my vocabulary. Although not totally applicable to the situation, I kept thinking of Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Banquet, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:11-14 NIV).
November 25, 2016
The Apostle Paul wrote about the spiritual gifts in the body of Christ, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor 12:21 NIV). In today’s Christian environment we marginalize one another’s gifts. Unfortunately, rather than saying I don’t need you we say, “I may be a hand, but I can see better than the eye.”
November 24, 2016
The writer of Hebrews reminds me that Thanksgiving should not to be limited to earthly abundance and blessings, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28 NIV).
November 23, 2016
A few nights ago after 9 p.m. someone rang the door bell and pounded on the front door simultaneously. The pounding stopped as abruptly as it started so there was no sense of an accident or an emergency, but rather a possible threat, or a prank. While I headed for the front door, Bill headed for the handgun. I’ll have to admit it wasn’t the smartest move on my part to open the door without knowing who or what was out there…but hey, Bill had the handgun equipped with a laser. There was no one at the door, but as a precaution we walked the perimeter of the property a few times, double-checked all the locked doors and left the outside front light on for the rest of the night. Even days later my sense of alertness is still heightened and it crosses my mind that on a spiritual level I should have this same type of alertness. Jesus, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:42-44 NIV).
November 22, 2016
Prior to the start of the worship service announcements scrolled through on the video screens in the front of the auditorium. One scheduled event had the caption “Cleaning the Church” and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when the image of Jesus arriving at the temple in Jerusalem on cleaning day flashed through my mind. “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:15-17 NIV).
November 21, 2016
I’m writing another church series and at the church I visited yesterday the usher team was on duty, helpful and all the doors were covered. However, when it came to the time of congregational greeting people seemed to congregate in small groups of friends and they overlooked the people on the peripheral. Three people greeted me; however, it was a matter of, “Hello, nice to see you” let’s shake hands and move on. No one from the congregation engaged me in conversation, asked my name, or showed interest in me as a person sitting on the back pew. I find this to be a good reminder that is it not the sole responsibility of an usher to be the greeter. Jesus said, “And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:47 NIV).
November 18, 2016
My friend passed away and last night I attended the rosary and visitation. With the exception of the Lord’s Prayer the first 45 minutes of the service was almost entirely in Spanish. Since I couldn’t understand the language, the image of someone in the church talking in tongues with no one to interpret crossed my mind. More than once I thought about leaving the service because I couldn’t connect with the ritual commentary. However, the Lord’s words to Peter caused me to re-evaluate my need to stay, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour” (Matt 26:40b NIV).
November 17, 2016
Many of us fall into the trap of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Even in social situations Jesus reminded us to not seek a seat of honor because someone more distinguished might have been invited and we could be asked to give up our seat. Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11 NIV). I have to laugh when I hear Jesus describe our worth, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7b).
November 16, 2016
Many of us have a special article of clothing hanging in our closet that we will never wear again —a wedding dress, a military uniform, a tux…maybe something in a size eight when we now wear a size 14. I’m wondering about the soldiers who crucified Jesus and cast lots for his clothes. The Lord’s undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom and coveted by the soldiers, “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it” (John 19:2324a NIV). I can’t imagine the winner of the lot actually wearing a garment that was surrounded with so much significance…and yet I wonder if this crown jewel of garments languished in a closet.
November 15, 2016
Generally speaking we don’t punish people for things they don’t know; however, once they know right from wrong and choose to disobey they are subject to punishment. We spank a toddler when they know what they are doing is wrong and we ground a teenager for being willfully disobedient. Paul reminds believers that we too are held to an expected standard of obedience, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (2 Cor 10:6 NIV).
November 14, 2016
Many people of faith will be distraught by the passage of Colorado Proposition 106 which makes assisted death legal under some circumstance. We continue to watch as man sets himself up to be God and control life and death. The book of Revelation paints a different picture of assisted death. The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, the Abyss opened and locust came down on the earth. “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them” (Rev 9:4-6 NIV).
November 11, 2016
Following the election Sean Hannity was interviewed by telephone on Fox News. Hannity was asked what Trump needs to do in order to find a way to work with Congress. Hannity turned the question around and said, “I’d tell Congress that they need to find a way to work with Trump.” The Apostle Paul reminds us that there is a worldly point of view on reconciliation; however, people of faith are to see things differently. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:17-19 NIV).
November 10, 2016
It’s not just Democrats, pundits, and the media who are in shock by the 2016 election results, but foreign countries are weighing in with global doom. Let me be clear, I’m not inferring that America is the Babylon referred to in Revelation. However, I find the current rhetoric coming from the four corners of the earth to have familiar ring. An angel with a mighty voice shouted, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:1-3 NIV).
November 09, 2016
Prior to the election our pastor made a public service announcement (PSA) and encouraged everyone, regardless of their affiliation, to go to the polls and vote. Even though he prefaced his comments with, “I know I’m probably preaching to the choir…” an older couple appeared to take offence, got up and left the building. At first blush I couldn’t see the problem; however, I then reflected on a recent situation during a city council meeting where a councilman seated at the dais used his position to offer a PSA and invite citizens to a local pub for a fundraising event. There are times when, whether as a citizen or a worshipper, we hear a message that has no value to us. Even the Gospel, as powerful as it is, needs to be presented with the right combination of elements. The writer of Hebrews said, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Heb 4:2 NIV).
November 08, 2016
By all reports Obama, the Clintons and even the Bush family, are worried that a Trump administration will tear down all that they have built during their terms in office. These politicians are more concerned about what they perceive to be their legacy than they are about letting a future president build on the foundation of America. Paul warns believers about building on a foundation other than Christ, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor 3:11-15 NIV).
November 07, 2016
If you listen to pundits they say Clinton will win because she has the better ground game – more TV advertising, more workers going door to door and more campaign offices open. In some respects, I see Trump’s ground game similar to that of Sampson. Single handedly Sampson took on the Philistines and said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves” (Judges 15:3-5 NIV).
November 04, 2016
As the election winds down, whether I support Trump or Clinton as the leader of the free world is not the issue. I can find peace in Paul’s comments, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Ro 9:16-17 NIV).
November 03, 2016
The Democrats blame their email hack on the Russians. We get it. All of us know how to play the blame-game...bad parenting, no breaks in life, underprivileged. A favorite for those of us living on the religious landscape is, “the devil made me do it.” However, Paul tells us that on the spiritual plane the blame game is not a valid excuse, “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).
November 02, 2016
Democratic Party Chairman Donna Brazile dodged the question of feeding debate questions to the Clinton camp and told TV Fox News interviewer Megyn Kelly, “As a Christian woman, I understand persecution…Your information is false. What you’re -- well, for suggestive e-mails were stolen. You’re interested and you’re like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that.” It’s a mouthful to invoke the name of Christ, claim persecution and take Scripture out of context all in one breath. Apparently Ms. Brazile put metaphors, parables and end-times in her own political blender. Paul said, “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thess 5:4-5 NIV).
November 01, 2016
The release of more emails has the Clinton camp conferring, calculating and doing verbal gymnastics to keep from answering journalist’s questions. I’m reminded of Jesus speaking in the temple when the chief priests and elders of the people demanded to know who gave him his authority. Jesus was willing to respond if they would first give their opinion of whether John’s baptism came from heaven, or from men. “They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know”” (Matt 21:25b-27a NIV).