Jesus explained there is no marriage in heaven, but the example presented to him by the Sadducees, which is not listed as a parable, has always bothered me. According to my NIV Study Bible being childless was, “…generally considered to indicate divine disfavor and often brought social reproach.” The prominent barren ladies of Scripture are Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth. In my mind I’ve always included the woman who in succession was married to, and widowed by, seven brothers. When putting myself in her place I can only imagine the disgrace she endured being passed from one brother to the next and never having children. However, a closer look at the text doesn’t describe her as barren. Luke wrote, “Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too” (Luke 20:29-32). These brothers no doubt had other wives, but still no children. It’s possible that the woman did not endure as much disgrace during her life as I had originally envisioned.
May 30, 2017
About halfway through the sermon the pastor said, “Some of you may think things in your life are going good right now, you may not feel like you need this message…but six months, a year from now you might need this message!” I thought of Jesus taking the Twelve aside and predicting his death — that he would be mocked, insulted, spit upon, flogged, killed and raised on the third day. “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about” (Luke 18:34 NIV). I can imagine Jesus thinking, “Six months from now you’re going to need this message.”
May 29, 2017
For believers Memorial Day occurs not just once a year, but every time we gather at the Lord’s Table and partake of the emblems of bread and juice that represent the sacrificed body and blood of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was in Bethany a woman poured expensive perfume on the Lord’s head and the disciples were indignant and objected at the waste. “Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her”” (Matt 26:10-13 NIV). It gives me pause to wonder about the things I’ve done for the Lord and what, if any, will be told in memory of me.
May 26, 2017
I’ve just discovered how often the phrase, “The Word of the Lord came to me…” appears in the major and minor prophets. As a mature believer I’m familiar with Scripture coming to mind at just the right time for the needed situation. However, I’ve not considered that, like waiting for an expected phone call, I should be waiting for and recognizing the Word of the Lord coming to me on a daily basis.
May 25, 2017
It is our job as believers strive to become more Christ-like. However, I’ll admit there are times when I can’t resist the temptation to publicly get on my soapbox and fight for justice, speak out against misuse of tax dollars and confront elected officials who fail to uphold their sworn oath of office. Jesus did not stand on a soapbox, but rather fulfilled the what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.” (Matt 12:18-20 NIV).
May 24, 2017
Last week Roger Ailes, the 77-year-old founder of Fox News passed away. Ailes is credited with discovering and hiring commentators, news anchors and weather personalities. In reflection commentator Sean Hannity recalled that during auditions for the network Ailes would turn off the sound and see if an interviewee could communicate without words. We believers often forget that it’s our actions that are read by others. Paul said, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden” (1 Tim 5:24-25).
May 23, 2017
A local opinion columnist seems to always disparage President Trump and it strikes me that the writer has no connection to Washington DC, or firsthand knowledge of the President. I’d be curious to know if his readers ever fact check his column, or if they are content to let him simply recycle what he has learned from other news sources. During my church visits I’ve developed a great appreciation for those pastors who are not intimidated by people who fact-check the message and encourage their members to use their Bible. Paul was not speaking about immature believers when he said, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV).
May 22, 2017
Within the space of 30 minutes I listened while elected officials displayed a double standard when dealing with two different vendors. One vendor, who always stayed within their budget, was verbally spanked for not being more progressive. The second vendor was a friend of the officials and there was not one word of chastisement even though he had falsified marketing data and had nothing to show for $8,750 of taxpayer funds. “These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judging is not good: Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent”— peoples will curse him and nations denounce him. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them” (Proverbs 24:23-25 NIV).
May 19, 2017
I spoke to a woman on the phone to verify their church worship time and she suggested I avoid the first Sunday of the month because that is a time set aside for congregation testimonials. “I don’t want to discourage you from attending, but sometimes people get carried away and you can’t control the message.” I appreciate the candor and I understand where she is coming from. John said, “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son” (1 John 5:9 NIV).
May 18, 2017
I realize that I sometimes irritate family and associates by repeating an opinion. In my mind when people don’t respond I feel they haven’t heard me, so I re-state the situation. In their mind they’ve heard what I have to say, have no comment and want to move on. I’m now trying to apply the words of Isaiah, “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field” (Isaiah 28:23-25 NIV)?
May 17, 2017
My friend’s cat strolled up to the dining room table while we were visiting. Shaking a verbal finger to the cat Cathy said, “I recognize that look. Don’t you even think about jumping up on this table.” As though the gauntlet had been thrown down the cat jumped up on the table between us, flipped its tail and nonchalantly walked the length of the table before hopping off to the floor. There was no pretense of being sneaky, this cat was displaying in-your-face disobedience. Obviously the cat did not fear her master. It occurs to me that sometimes people of faith display a similar a characteristic when we fail to fear the Lord. "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in fear of your laws" (Psalms 119:120 NIV).
May 16, 2017
I recently attended a church where a member declared that their denomination is the only one that has the Truth. Interestingly, during my various church visits I keep running into some of the same people that I just encountered at a different church. These folks are mature believers, one of whom is a retired pastor, and by all appearances the place they worship is not as important as the worship itself. People of faith need to be reminded that the body of Christ is not a building, a denomination or a particular fellowship. The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:23-25 NIV).
May 15, 2017
The media reported that local residential property valuations for 2017 would increase an average of 15 percent. When my valuation came in with a 29 percent increase, almost double the average, I filed an appeal. In my mind the assessor’s valuation is far afield from market value. I’m now contemplating God’s assessment of my spiritual valuation and wondering how much my value has increased between 2014 and 2017. “May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children” (Psalms 115:14 NIV).
May 12, 2017
During my church visits the sermons I’m hearing are on the soft and gentle side — peace, love and self-improvement. Rarely do I hear a message about the importance and immediacy of obedience to the Word of God. However, I can’t place all the blame on pastors when we in the pew seem to be satisfied with pablum. The Lord speaks to us today. “They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:10-11 NIV)!
May 11, 2017
My friends and family who are diseased are in the forefront of my mind and I preface my prayers by asking God to heal them. However, my prayers for those who’ve drifted away from the faith take on a different form as I pray for them to come to their senses and return to God. It never occurred to me that those who are diseased and those who are backsliders have something in common…both need healing. “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God” (Jer 3:22 NIV).
May 10, 2017
I took a photo for an article and one of the subjects immediately let me know that she takes it as a personal insult if her name is spelled incorrectly. I have no idea if the woman is a person of faith. However, if she is a child of God, she may be in for a real shocker when she gets her new name. Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it” (Rev 2:17 NIV).
May 09, 2017
During elections some candidates face criticism for winning when they run unopposed. It’s as though if they had any competition at all, they would not have won. Recently, after receiving an email from a critic, an elected official changed the narrative with her response, “It appears I need to also remind you that due to my proven actions/interactions, decision skills, reputation & direction, no Party chose to run a candidate against me.” Although Paul was speaking to a young Timothy, his words should encourage even mature believers that we too have the power to silence our critics. "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 3:12 NIV).
May 08, 2017
The older we get the more we deal with the death of friends and loved ones. My grandma was a rock of Christian faith and there are still times I wish she were here and I could share with her my milestones. I know those who die in Christ are at peace with Him, but I’d not considered that in death we are also spared from evil. “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV).
May 05, 2017
When a 501c3 (non-profit) starts making financial decisions that I can’t support I redirect my tithes, offerings and contributions to other charitable organizations. I’ll confess, if I were one of the early disciples I would not have contributed to the Lord’s 501c3 as long as Judas was in charge of the money bag. John said, “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:4-6 NIV).
May 04, 2017
Small communities are notorious for power struggles and people wanting to be in control. Generally speaking citizens can ignore small pockets of divisiveness, but political flamethrowers are not satisfied with staying in a small pocket…they want to set the city on fire. People of faith are not immune from either being the pot-stirrer, or the pot that is being stirred. At Antioch, “The Jews incited the God–fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region” (Acts 13:50 NIV).
May 03, 2017
I’ve been trying to put my finger on what I dislike about worship services that lack structure and I am finally seeing a similarity between that type of church and a bar/lounge. In a lounge you can sit alone at the bar, or you sit with others in large or small clusters around a table. You are free to walk around, get another drink, or strike up a conversation with anyone else in the facility. You can lean against a wall and watch others play pool or throw darts and even though you are just an observer, you are included as part of the overall experience. You can listen to the music, join in with karaoke, or talk above and around the music. Everything is fluid, and everyone looking to their own interests and comfort. Paul said, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like–minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:1-4 NIV).
May 02, 2017
I always thought the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread,” was a request for the Lord’s provision and sustenance. It then stands to reason that I offer thanksgiving for the food the Lord provides. However, it never occurred to me that having either more or less than enough to meet my daily needs could hurt my relationship with God. “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV).
May 01, 2017
Following the communion meditation worshipers were directed to the front of the auditorium where the bread and juice were available on tables and we were given three options. 1). Take the emblems back to your seat. 2). Pick up the emblems and take them to an area of the facility where you can partake of them in your family group. 3). Partake of the emblems when you pick them up at the table. In theory communion is made personal when worshippers are given time to examine themselves and then partake of the emblems when they are ready. However, my time for reflection was shattered as family groups talked amongst themselves, finished at different times and turned back to other activities. While some folks were still in line to pick up the emblems, those who had finished their communion went back to drinking coffee, eating grapes and bagels from the café and walking around the auditorium. Paul cautioned about taking the Lord’s supper in unworthy manner. “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk…So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment” (1 Cor 11:20-21, 33-34 NIV).