Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Life Of Grownups

David Andrew officially began his new job today. I say "officially" because he has been going to trainings and doing shadowing for a while now. Today is his first day solo - working in a group home here in Canton.

His first day on his own and a twelve hour shift - 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Unfortunately, David was up in the night with an upset stomach. When he got up in the morning he was sick to his stomach some more. But he didn't seem to have a fever... just trouble with his stomach. "Maybe it is from the late dinner of chili after caroling last night," we thought.

He went to work. He checked in with us later in the morning. He had been sick some more.

But he stayed at work.

Later in the day, I called him to see how he was doing. He was still sick to his stomach and the thought of cooking dinner for the men in the house was unsettling.

But he stayed at work.

I'm proud of David. He is showing that he has what it takes to be an adult with adult responsibilities. Schoolchildren can usually stay home from school if they feel sick. Teachers and classmates would just as soon they did, if it is messy or possibly contagious. The main consequence will be to get behind on homework.

But grownups have more responsibility. The consequences of staying home are more significant. David went to work and stuck it out for the guys he serves in the group home, for his employer who entrusted this responsibility to him and for the people who would have needed to change plans to cover for him.

David has begun to prove to his new employer that he is trustworthy and reliable. He will be there when he is supposed to be there and will not let even significant personal discomfort derail him. They can depend on him. He knows he has an important job to do - that people are counting on him.

I'm not surprised, by this. I already knew what kind of guy he was growing up to be. But it certainly makes me happy to see him put the exclamation point on it.

New Wake Up System

If you really want to wake up, try putting your arms over your head and pouring ice water down your sleeves! It works great every time!

During the freezing rainstorm this morning I noticed that my gutters were spilling over and realized that the downspouts had become plugged (again.) So I pulled out my trusty stepladder that is not quite - but almost tall enough. When I put the ladder up against the building and go up to the next step to the top, I can just get my head above the gutter enough to do the work.

But it is cold cold water! My hands became so frozen that I couldn't open my left hand and I couldn't feel anything with either hand. I got thoroughly wet.

But praise the Lord! I cleared two gutters and the third was good without intervention. Praise the Lord that I was able to get them clear. Praise God that I noticed soon enough to minimize flooding in the basement. (We only had a trickle this time.) Praise God that I didn't fall off the ladder in spite of the wet, slippery conditions and the thrashing around I was doing up in the gutter.

I am going to buy a taller ladder.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Squirrels with Attitude

Yesterday I noticed some squirrels who were doing their squirrel business right down by the curb as I drove past. They seemed to have a certain "city squirrel attitude." They don't care about the cars. They don't care about the people. They would probably run if they were chased, but maybe not.

Squirrels in the woods are more wary. They go up the tree when they see you 100 yards away. Not here. Tiny was out in the back yard a couple of days ago when a squirrel started across the neighbor's yard toward him. Tiny never saw the squirrel, but the squirrel eventually noticed the dog. Did the squirrel run? NO! He sat there like an impatient driver at a red light. He kept twitching his tail in irritation that this dog was going to put him behind schedule. Eventually the dog came back to the house and the squirrel continued on his way.

Out in the woods, squirrels run and hide. Not in the city. Here they go up the tree to the lowest branch that is out of your reach. Then they sit there and swear at you until you go away.

Profane and obnoxious squirrels! And they got that way by being around people too much! They have picked up human bad attitudes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Once Was Lost - Book Review

My note in the front of this book says I started it in May of 2008. I finally finished it today. What took me so long? It was my exercise book and for most of that time I didn't do much work on the treadmill.

But I finally finished it and I will recommend it to you. The book is "Once I Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus," by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. The book is published by IVP.

The authors have spent years working at evangelism on and around college campuses. They draw on their experience to suggest a pattern by which this generation seems to come to faith.

I appreciated that this not presented as some sort of sure fire gimmick by which people are certain to be brought to Christ. Rather, the authors suggest and vividly illustrate that winning people (especially postmodern thinkers) to Christ requires patience and understanding.

They suggest that post modern people (and I think all people) go through various steps in their path to faith. There is no way to tell how quickly this will transpire or if it will move all the way to the end or even if all of the steps will be apparent. But generally speaking there will be these steps. The authors call them thresholds.
Threshold 1: Trusting a Christian
Threshold 2: Becoming Curious
Threshold 3: Opening Up to Change
Threshold 4: Seeking After God
Threshold 5: Entering the Kingdom

The book talks about ways in which people have crossed these thresholds and discusses what the would-be evangelist might do to facilitate the step. How can you tell where a person is? When should you urge a person forward? When should you hold back? What tools to you have that can help you?

In the seventh chapter they talk about what to expect after a person makes a commitment to Christ and how to nurture them in their new faith.

They conclude with a wonderful section on "Servant Evangelism." The idea is that evangelism is not about what is easy or convenient for me. Evangelism requires a commitment to serving the needs of the lost person - whether that is building trust through kindness, showing them the teachings about Christ or confronting them about their own hypocrisy.

A good and thought provoking book. Worth reading - even it takes you all year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Icy Conditions In A Fallen World

It is early in the morning and we've been accumulating ice by freezing rain and drizzle all night.

When I stepped out on the back porch to take the dog out at 5:15 I thought maybe the ice had melted. (It is not very cold - just 32 degrees.) So I stepped of the porch and about fell down when my feet slipped on the ice on the step.

The ice is still here! Falling is a real danger.

We have power and our heat is on. That is nice when there's ice. I wish I could keep all of my dear ones safe at home - but Lola is already on the road for school. The radio says that MOST of the MAIN roads are safe... but I have no doubt that many people will find themselves sliding at some point today.

The ice is here - because the world is fallen.

An ice storm is reminder of the broken condition of the world. Mankind lives here and strives mightily to master the elements - but the world is a difficult and dangerous place. We've made ways to transport ourselves, ways to keep ourselves warm and ways to melt some of the ice on the roads - but we can't keep the ice storm from coming. We can't keep ourselves from falling or crashing on occasion. Inevitably some people will be hurt. Some might die as a result of this very storm. All of us are in jeopardy. The question is not "if" but "when."

Imagine how nice it would be to live in a climate controlled garden with everything you need or could possibly want. There you have perfect relationships - no shame, no fear, no deceit, no selfishness. There you live without the possibility of sickness or death or loss. You have perfect health. You know what you are there for and nothing stands in the way of accomplishing your purpose. There you can fully appreciate all the tastes, sights, sounds, and sensations that come with life.

It is a picture of the way God created the world. It is a picture of what God has in store for those who are redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ.

Even with our most advanced technology - life is difficult and brief. Billions of people around the are scrambling to find the wherewithal to live and keep their families alive from day to day. Man's inhumanity is ghastly - with robbery, rape, murder, and mayhem filling the news.

No wonder atheists imagine a dog eat dog world where survival of the fittest has always been the story of life. This IS what you see when you look at life in this fallen world.

But God reveals a different story and we can understand it. He created a world that was very good - and provided everything we needed - but we rebelled against Him and brought these conditions on ourselves. Ultimately God provided a way to rescue us - His own Son Jesus - who was completely obedient (sinless) and who took our punishment Himself. Jesus makes everything right again... and we who trust in Him will be restored and experience the life God intended for us.

What is the atheist's best case scenario? That he lives in relative comfort until he dies - hopefully with minimal pain.

What is the Christian's best case scenario? That he lives every moment of this temporary life (whether in pain or comfort) to honor Christ - then to pass from this world into eternal life where things are the way they were intended to be.
(2Corinthians 5:1-2) For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Postage Machine

The line at the post office was almost out the door. A line of twenty strangers is attractive... you can always strike up a conversation in a line like that. But the twenty or thirty minute wait wasn't so attractive.

There in the lobby was a machine. It looked like you could use it (and your credit card) to mail your small package. First I watched from my place in line as some other people tried it. On person seemed to struggle, but the next used it to buy stamps. Then another used it to buy stamps.

Emboldened, I took my box over and put it on the built in scale. Sure enough... I was able to weigh it, measure it, certify that it didn't contain any contraband, and buy postage for it right from that machine in a matter of about 3 minutes. It printed a label and I wrote in the rest of the address on it. Then I deposited it in the mailing bin and I was ready to go.

It was great... but not much personal interaction. I made up for it by helping an older lady who wanted to use the machine to figure out and purchase postage for her Christmas mail.

Happy Christmas mailing!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Listening #2

(Proverbs 12:1) Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

(Proverbs 18:2) A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

One of the marks of immaturity is an arrogant "know it all" attitude.

Where would we get such an attitude?
Pride? (We are sure we must know more than most people.)
Ignorance? (We don't know what we don't know.)
Insecurity? (We are afraid we won't be respected.)

What is the antidote?

We need to listen carefully to God. He has given us a book - the Bible - in which He reveals Himself. We need to "receive with meekness the implanted word." (James 1:21) We can read it to listen. We can sit under the teaching and preaching of the word. Just so we open our ears and strive to apply it to our lives.

We need to listen carefully to people who know God. Such people have insights that will illumine us - especially if they disagree with us. They see things from a perspective different from our own. They are not infallible, but honorable, and we should take their opinions seriously.

We need to listen to people with diverse backgrounds. Listening to these people increases our understanding. Listening helps keep us from jumping to conclusions. Listening to diverse people helps keep us from binary thinking. Listening to people is how we learn about the many things we don't know about. Listening to people helps us grow in respect and love for people.

We grow up through listening - not through talking.

(James 1:19-20) So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Sometimes the best thing you can do is to listen to people. And listening is hard work.

Don't jump to solutions. Listen carefully. Listen for a long time. Listen compassionately.

Wait out the pauses without interrupting. Let people tell you things you already know - they need to hear it from their own lips. It won't hurt you to hear it again.

Listening is a ministry of its own. Life is not a race to the end of the story. It is the story.

Listen and people will share their lives with you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Athiests and Evolutionary Time

Atheists are emboldened by the success of the theory of evolution. But their success is in all in getting the theory promoted in the public domain - not in proving it true.

Evolutionists have never actually quantified life - much less produced it from non-living things. They have never shown any fossil record of transitional forms of life - life appears fully formed and complex. They have never shown an example of real evolution (one life form to another) - only of adaptation (a creature with slightly different features than its parents).

One of the biggest problems for them is the "Big Bang." When I was a kid those who were optimistic about evolution said that given infinite time and infinite chance life was sure to evolve. But it turns out that "infinite time" was not available. According to the Big Bang theory the universe is far too new for even the most optimistic estimates of time required for evolution of complex life (13.73 +/- 0.12 billion years back to the BB according to the Wikipedia article).

If you are going to evolve a human being from a single celled being - how many mutations will it take to get the billions of "good" changes you need to build this complex system? (We are simply ignoring the fact that any given being would soon be out of business if there were not a whole system of plant and animal life. That would increase the problem exponentially.)

There are 210 known human cell types and the human body has millions of cells. There are dozens of different systems within the body - each of which is necessary for maintaining life (whatever life is.)

So let us say, absurdly optimistically, that we need only one billion positive creature changing species enhancing mutations to get from the single cell to the complex human being. And let us use a very conservative estimate that such mutations occur once every 2000 years.

One billion X 2000 = 2000 billion years. Rats! 1986 billion years too many!
(Remember we only have about 14 billion years back to the Big Bang.)

OK - We will go to ludicrous optimism. Say such mutations happen every 1000 years.
one billion X 1000 = 1000 billion years = 986 billion years too many.

Throw caution to the wind! We have such positive mutations every 500 years!
one billion X 500 = 500 billion years. Still 486 billion years too many!

What can we do? Do what all good evolutionist must do! Work backwards to get your estimate.

If we only have 14 billion years it must take 14 billion years. That means it cannot take THAT many mutations and they must happen much more frequently than we supposed - against all empirical evidence and the 2nd law of thermodynamics!

14 billion years / 250 years per mutation = 56 million mutations
56 million mutations X 250 years per mutation = 14 billion years. See we did it!

Of course part of that 14 billion years would have been taken up in cooling the whole mess down to life supporting temperatures, etc. And how long before life would spring into being? And of course it is inconceivable that you can make just 56 million changes account for the dazzling complexity of a human being. And if mutation occurred that frequently we would expect there to be significant evolutionary differences between populations of people on earth today - but there aren't.

It just doesn't add up. It turns out the atheistic evolutionist has the greater faith.

How the Mighty are Fallen!

One day I'm feeling fine - able to work and play and plan. The next day I am achy and whiny and grouchy and tired - barely able to get out of my own way. What is it?

The common cold... a sinus infection... a runny nose... sinus headache... fever... and I'm done for.
How can a microscopic organism knock the stuffing out of a complex, intelligent being like me? My eyes are watering. My nose is threatening to drip. My sneezing is a wind shear danger to low flying aircraft.

Ow! I'm ready to be better now! Ow!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ministry Mysteries

(Romans 11:33-36) ¶ Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 ¶ For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

I preach for a living, and I love it. It is a wonderful blessing to have spent so many years in the ministry of the word of God. It is truly a growth industry because you have to grow to keep on going in it. Every day I learn more and realize how much more there is yet to learn. Every week I look forward to the next Sunday and realize it will be a miracle if I come up with the messages and lessons I need for the following week. Each week I pray that the ministry of the word of God will make an impact in the lives of the people God puts in my way.

Praise God for another Sunday of ministry behind me! Now I pray that God will gear me up for the week of ministry ahead!

I freely confess that in myself I am incompetent and impotent to come up with messages. But praise the omnipotent God that He is sufficient! I will spend some time looking at a blank page - but He will guide my thoughts and give me the understanding I need in the end.

Praise the Lord! What an exciting way to live!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Our Debt Of Love

(Romans 13:8-10) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
We are to pay our debts - not to leave them outstanding. But one debt will never be retired. We always have a debt of love for others.

This is not to say that people are particularly lovable. It is not something they deserve because of their love for us - because we are also to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44)

Our love for others is like God's love for us.
(Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(1John 3:16) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Our love for others is based on our love for God.
(Deuteronomy 6:5) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Human beings are made in the image of God. While that image is obscured by sin, it is still there. We love God in godly love for other people. When we don't love other people, we don't love God either.
(1John 4:7-9) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
So we have a debt of love to other people. To see them. To listen to them. To care about them. To help them. To forgive them. To serve them. To bless them.
(1John 3:18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth

Friday, December 5, 2008

Merry Christmas - Peace on Earth

"At this season of THE WINTER SOLSTICE may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven, no hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
My daughter clipped the above paragraph from a news article. As I understand it, this is on a sign posted next to a manger scene in a public square. Evidently the open minded souls of the American Atheists want to wish us a Merry Christmas!

Why it is reasonable to believe that there is no God is never explained. There is, after all, a creation. Why not a Creator? There is life. Why no living Source of life? Humans are moral creatures who make laws. Why is it reasonable to think there is no Lawgiver greater than man?

Oh, well! So let them go ahead and prove that their claims are true. (Is it possible to prove a negative?)

What would God have to do to prove His existence to their satisfaction? What if He created a wonderful complex universe and created man in His image? What if He sent prophets and provided them with written revelation of Himself? What if He sent His eternal Son to become a man so that He could provide salvation?

"Religion is but myth and superstition..." Does that include the religion of atheism or only other religions?

Religion "...hardens hearts and enslaves minds?" How so? It is easily proven that many people have been freed from slavery to alcohol, drugs, sexual depravity, and other "vices" through faith in Jesus Christ as God. Have you ever heard of even one person delivered from anything (other than restraint) by coming to believe in atheism?

Many people do nice things like feed the hungry, help the homeless and work for peace in the name of Christianity. The best an atheist can do is say, "In spite of the fact that I don't believe in God, I will be civil." The worst an atheist can do has been displayed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao and their henchmen.

Jesus came to make a way of salvation for men - to offer peace with God to all who will believe.
(Romans 1:18-22) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Messy Lives

Pastor Lynn Einfeldt used to say, "There are so many pitfalls between the cradle and the grave, it's a wonder we can make it."

Life is messy. Everyday we are confronted with daunting challenges. There are difficult decisions to make. There are financial problems. There are unexpected illnesses. People have problems at home and problems at work. People have interpersonal problems and personal problems.

Life is messy enough that you might even cringe with apprehension whenever you think that just for this moment everything is going well.

We would like to iron out our lives and make them problem free, but that is not really an option. So what can we do?

The answer is faith in God. We have no control - but God is infinite, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He reassures us that there is no hole we can fall in that can keep Him from blessing us. We cannot see the pattern of God's plan, but He assures us of His love and His blessing.

Trust in God. Praise Him even in the messiness of life. Every difficulty is another opportunity to seek God's work in your life.
(Romans 8:28-39) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More laundry thoughts

When I was writing about folding clothes, it made me think of Jesus washing his disciples' feet.

That night the disciples were still anticipating that the kingdom would come soon and they argued about which of them would be the greatest. (Luke 22:24) They couldn't imagine that any of them would betray Jesus. (Luke 22:23) Peter was bragging that he would never deny Jesus, even if it meant death. (Mark 14:29-31)

So Jesus gives them this new paradigm. The Greatest is the servant - so serving is the greatest!
(Luke 22:25-27) And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’
26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.
27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
As human beings we are often concerned about our own dignity, power and authority. We want people to know that we are important. We like to be treated with deference.

Jesus washed the feet of all of the disciples - including the toes of Judas Iscariot. Then He said,
(John 13:13-16) You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
The Christian mandate is love and that love is demonstrated in service. We are not greater than our Master, Jesus. If He laid down His life for us, we should lay down our lives for each other. (1John 3:16) How much more should we fold each others' socks?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Laundry Lesson

We share the laundry responsibility at our house. Saturday is our usual laundry day and we share the duties - gathering, sorting, switching, and folding laundry. Even so, I think we all try to get out of folding the whites load of tube socks and underwear.

Folding the whites load is unexpected.

What ten year old ever dreamed he would one day be folding underwear? This isn't a Hanes commercial. This is real life where the underwear shows its age. Elastic is stretched and frayed. Some things are torn or stained. Some whites are whiter than others. Some socks have holes. Ten year olds worry about cooties - but adults need to get over it.

Folding the whites load is tedious.

There is some mystery in matching socks. There is some drama in fighting the static to get T-shirts folded straight. Getting things turned right side out can be frustrating. Putting things neatly into each person's laundry basket brings some satisfaction. But no one cheers you on... There is only the hum of the dryer and the slosh of the washer to keep you company while you fold.

Folding the whites load requires love.

We do these tedious things because we love each other. Only the most hopelessly obsessive would do laundry just for fun. We do it because it needs to be done. We do it because it is a service of love. We take care of it because it benefits our dear ones - and brings us joy in making sure they are not surprised by it.

Happy folding.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


"What we need to learn from these survey results is that our moral infrastructure is unsound and in serious need of repair. This is not a time to lament and whine but to take thoughtful, positive actions."
This quote is from Michael Josephson, founder and president of The Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute. His group recently conducted a survey of almost 30,000 high school students in 100 randomly selected schools across America.

"The survey found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls — 30 percent overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23 percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative."

They also found that cheating in school is more prevalent than in past surveys. Sixty-four percent of students admitted cheating on a test in the past year and 38 percent did so two or more times. 36 percent plagiarized an assignment, 42 percent admitted lying to save money.

Even so, "93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."

The article, (on yahoo news), quoted several educators who suggested that the students should not be made "scapegoats." These students face greater pressures, more competition, busy lives and anxiety about their futures.

I think the whole thing is ironic. Since the 1950's our society has systematically worked to make secular humanism the basis of the educational system. Now they are dismayed because students cheat and steal and lie. But based on secular humanism, who says that cheating and stealing and lying are essentially "wrong?" These young people are simply "adapting" to their environment so that they can survive and thrive. It is pure Darwinism.

Apart from a moral absolute (such as Creator God decreeing what is right and wrong according to His own holy character) who can say that cheating and stealing and lying are wrong?

We cannot teach moral standards to people in an amoral society. There is no political or educational or societal solution to this. The only solution is a spiritual solution - and it can only be applied on an individual basis, as people, one by one, accept God's right over their lives and the salvation from sin that Christ offers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving #5

I am thankful on three stories.

The family is together. The babies are darlings, now sleeping peacefully upstairs.

On this floor, Christmas music is playing, and my daughter is singing along with her amazingly beautiful lyric soprano. Lola and BJ are enjoying a cup of chai together at the dining room table.

The boys, Darren and David, are assembling and exploring a new board game, downstairs.

I praise God for the day. I praise God for my dear family. I praise God for the chance for us to all be together for these few days.

God is good and so kind.

Peace on you.

Thanksgiving #4

On Thanksgiving Day my daughter and her family will arrive for the weekend. Do you think we are eagerly anticipating that? For SURE!

So, what will life be like while they are here? Well, with a three year old and one year old, it is bound to be messy. We will have noise and confusion. We will have some laughing and some crying (mostly from the little ones). We will have toys strewn about and pies baking and food cooking. The kitchen will be crowded with people - then with pots and pans. There will be lots of setting up, picking up and cleaning up.

Do you like the sound of it - or not? It will be a little bit crazy, I'm sure. But through it all we will be united in love. We will talk, and work, and remember, and plan, and laugh, and cry, and wonder, and discuss. Above all we will love each other.

I will try to snuggle the grandchildren - when they let me. Sometimes I will protect them - other times I will protect the dog from them. All because of love. I will pick up toys. I will pick up children. I will change dirty diapers. I will help in the kitchen. I will tease (as if I could not.) All because of love.

This glorious messy fantastic disruption of routine is a great blessing. It helps us focus on our relationships in these fleeting moments of life. We will come away with happy memories to sustain us when life has returned to normal routines.

Praise God for His many blessings!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving #3

(Luke 18:11-12) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
Thanksgiving can be a mask for pride. People can express thanks as a way of bragging. "I thank God that I am so good. I thank God that I am so smart. I thank God that I am so wonderful."

Genuine thanksgiving, however, comes from our sense of unworthiness and inability. It is an "attitude of gratitude" that bubbles up in praise to God.

  • For salvation, because we are ungodly sinners - saved by grace alone.
  • For your marriage, because it is a testimony to God's selfless love.
  • For your children, because they are unique creations of God - we are only God's palette.
  • For ministry, because we are unworthy to serve God and impotent in our strength.
  • For your livelihood, because our health, strength & opportunity to work are from God.
  • For your freedoms, because God raises and throws down kingdoms according to His plan.
  • For life, because God gives us every moment, every heartbeat, every breath.
(James 1:16-17) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving #2

(1Timothy 6:17) Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
I have many pleasant memories of the Thanksgiving Holidays. I remember the large gatherings of aunts and uncles and cousins. I remember playing in the cold, then coming inside to the fragrant steamy kitchen where mingled smells of turkey and stuffing and pies and pickles made my stomach growl. I remember the tables literally groaning under the food. (There were too many people to sit at just one table - so we were placed at different tables by our ages.)

None of our relatives were rich. But we were extremely rich in our family and in our faith. We had food enough and to spare. We had people we loved and time together. Above all we had a personal faith in Christ - a confidence in Him of eternal life and blessing that is beyond this fleeting experience.

Now, I am being nostalgic - but I would not return to a past Thanksgiving for anything. We are still not rich - but still rich in family and faith. Some of our loved ones are out of our reach in heaven, but now we have extended families of our own - children and grandchildren - with whom we are making memories for the next generation.

Above all things, I pray that we will communicate our THANKSGIVING to our next generation - that they will not just love the people and the plentiful food, but also our gracious God Who " us richly all things to enjoy."

Thanksgiving is a sliver of time and many people will enjoy it. But only the people who know the one true and living God can truly appreciate it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving #1

Parents are always telling their kids to say "thank you."

Little kids are expected to say "thank you" when someone gives them a gift or a compliment. "What do you say...?" is a hint from the parent.

Older kids (through to college age) get reminders to sent out "thank you" cards. Their hint is something like, "Did you remember to send a thank you to aunt Gertrude?"

These are valuable lessons from parents about the right thing to do. Say "thank you." Send a thank you card. This is gracious living. This is good manners. This is civilized culture.

What we really need to learn cannot be taught. "Be thankful." Being thankful requires an attitude of humility, but our society encourages an attitude of entitlement.

This is precisely why little kids are not often genuinely thankful. They think that people SHOULD give them stuff. This is also why many people have no compunction about stealing. They feel entitled to more than they have... so they should be able to take it from others, even including their own family or strangers, stores or employers.

This is another manifestation of human rebellion against God. In our self absorbed pursuit of autonomy we resent God's rights over us and refuse His limits.
(Romans 1:21) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
So how about you? Do you have a thankful heart?
God doesn't need grudging thanks - He wants grateful hearts that abound with praise.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In the "old days" when David Andrew was in high school and Lola left for school at about 7:00, I used to make breakfast for us all and we would sit down together and eat before we took off in various directions. That was nice.

Now, Lola needs to leave for work at about 6:15 and David doesn't get up for work until about 7:30 on most days. I get up right after Lola at 5:00 and make her lunch while she showers and gets ready. When she comes downstairs I make her breakfast and sit and have coffee with her while she eats.

Lola leaves and I have about an hour for devotions before David gets up. Then I make his breakfast and sit and have coffee with him while he eats.

This is pretty much the routine for now. I don't know how long this will last - but it is nice in its own way. I get to have a nice private time with both my wife and my son before we all head off to work.

The routine lets me get good at the different breakfasts I cook... usually an English muffin and sausage patty for Lola and a 2 egg, 2 bacon and 2 toast breakfast for David. (I enjoy having the toaster pop and the microwave beep just when the eggs are ready to take off the griddle. Bing, Bang, Boom - and everything is ready. I love it when a plan comes together!)

The best thing is the conversation. We love each other and express that often. We talk about what we need to accomplish. We talk about schedules and events. We talk about difficulties and concerns. But mostly we communicate that we care about each other and what is going on in one another's lives. What could be better than this?

Maybe we will have oatmeal on Sunday?

Friday, November 21, 2008


Take a deep breath, stretch your arms, crack your neck and yawn.
What do you say as you let out that breath with a little explosion of air?

Bay-Beeee! (Lola doesn't like this one.)



Ouch! (My neck is more fragile than it used to be.)


Just exclamations!
Not explanations.
Not expletives (certainly not)
No exploitation.
Nothing explicative.
Not explicit.
Just exclamations - little explosions.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

An example of courage?

I just checked out the story of D. J. Gregory. He was born with cerebral palsy, but has not allowed his problems to beat him. The one sport he could play was golf, which he plays with a cane and a one handed swing. (And I suspect that he also plays better than I.)

Walking is difficult for him. He has an ungainly, unbalanced walk and probably tears up his feet when he walks much. Nevertheless, he decided to walk every hole of every PGA tournament this past year. So he did - over 900 miles and many falls.

What should be said about a guy like this? What a great heart! What determination! What courage! He is truly inspirational!! Wow!

Check it out for yourself.

Keep on going, D.J.!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Early Snow

When I was a kid it seems we almost always had snow before Thanksgiving. Now that we have moved up from semi-tropical southeastern Ohio to cooler northeastern Ohio, I guess that will be true again.

So I have to mop up some small puddles from my small poodle because snow sticks to his feet.

There are advantages.
  1. I don't need to mow the grass.
  2. The leaves are beyond being raked.
  3. I can easily track anything that walks through my yard. (I'm a country boy!)
  4. Tiny doesn't take so long to do his business - so we can both get back inside.
  5. I appreciate central heating.
Snow is a reminder of God's goodness.

The fresh snow is a beautiful blanket of white that covers everything. It reminds me of Psalm 51:7 "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" - that God can cleanse me of sin so that in His sight I am whiter than snow.

God is faithful and in complete control.
(Genesis 8:22) “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

I remember God's power and I am in awe.
(Psalm 148:8) Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;

With a little bit of snow he stops people and their mighty machines.
(Job 37:6) For He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth’; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be Good, For Goodness Sake? Part III

The American Humanist Association ad says, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake." They mean that you don't need to believe in "a god" to be good.

So far, I've argued that there is no such thing as "good" apart from a God Who establishes the objective moral standard of right and wrong. Without a god "good" is a meaningless word. The individual is free to come up with his own subjective standard for his behavior.

Today I am thinking about the question, "Why believe in a god?" I think there are some very good reasons.
  1. Because this complex and interdependent universe appears to have been created on purpose. This implies a Creator Who is greater than the creation. (While the theories of evolution may be popular with those who would like to escape these implications, they actually fly in the face of all empirical evidence.)
  2. Because humans have a sense of right and wrong. This implies a Creator Who is a moral being. In fact, the human sense that life will extend beyond the destruction of his physical being, that life has a purpose beyond mere survival and that justice should be rendered against evil - these all point to God.
  3. Because the Bible, written over some 1600 years by more than 40 human authors, purports to be messages from the Creator for His human creatures. This collection is full of diversity in style, literary genre and cultural background, but is unified in pointing to Jesus Christ as the center of God's program for the redemption of mankind.
  4. Because Jesus was born 2000 years ago, claimed to be the Divine Savior, and proved it by raising from the dead after three days in the grave. This was attested by hundreds of eyewitnesses and is the best documented event of history in spite of the fact that it has been attacked continuously by skeptics from the time of Jesus to the present.
What evidence can an atheist bring to suggest that there is NOT a God? He can try to explain how the things that exist might have come into existence, but he cannot demonstrate these theories to be true.

The fact that about 99.9 percent of the world's population believes that there is some sort of God ought to give an atheist pause.

At this point he can do no better than to say, "There's probably not a god." They hope not, anyway.

God says,
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. (Psalms 14:1)
Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Be good, for goodness sake! Part II

The American Humanist Association ad says, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake." According to their spokesman, this group defines humanism as “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.”

The British Humanist Association ad says, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." " 'Don't worry, you're not going to hell,' " said Sherine, 28. "Atheists believe this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it."

On the one hand, atheists believe that they have a "responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity." On the other hand they believe "...this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it" without any fear of eternal consequences.

Do you see the contradiction?

How do they reconcile the idea of "responsibility" and "ethical lives of value" and the idea they should live their lives to please themselves because there is probably no God to Whom they must give an account? (Probably?!)

There is no such thing as "responsibility" if there is no authority greater than yourself. Without an objective moral absolute there can be no absolute measure of ethics or of "value to self and humanity." Why would you forgo some pleasure because of an abstract idea of ethics or responsibility? Why would you care what might happen to humanity after you are gone from the scene? Indeed, why would you even care about extending your own life, if it means living with difficulty, pain, drudgery or restraint of your own impulses?

Christianity, on the other hand, argues that there is a God who has revealed Himself in His creation, in the human conscience, in propositional form in the Bible, and personally in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As Creator, His standard of moral right is absolute. He is the Judge of all the earth.

But He is also the Savior of all who will call on Him.

How can atheists see this as a negative message? Only in that it means they can't do just as they please, but must conform to God's moral standards because they are accountable to Him.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Be good, for goodness sake?

"Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake."

So says the new "American Humanist Association" Christmas season ad for Washington D.C. buses. Spokesman Fred Edwords says, "...we are trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people's minds."

Now, what is RATIONAL about this point of view?

The idea that some behaviors are "good" and others are "bad" is not rational apart from some objective moral standard. Where does an atheist go for an objective moral standard, for goodness sake? We theists understand that "good" is what conforms to the moral character of God. The AHA can vote on a standard - but individuals will still have a pragmatic bias toward what is beneficial to themselves.

Maybe that is what they mean by "be good." "Do what seems good to you." Does it seem good to you to help little old ladies and to be kind to homeless people? Do it. Does it seem good to you to rob little old ladies and terrorize homeless people? Do that.

"Do good, for goodness sake." Do whatever helps you the most. Be rational. Remember natural selection - survival of the fittest and all that. Be one of the survivors - that's good. Even when it comes at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.

Christmas memorializes God becoming a man in order to save men from the penalty and power of their sin.

What rationale would an atheist propose for self sacrifice? If there is no hope of life after death, nobody who is being rational should let go of their grip on this life for anyone or any cause.

To be continued...

Friday, November 14, 2008


Friday again already! Sounds like a good day to eat fried foods - except that I eat fried foods with regularity anyway.

We are looking forward to a visit from some long time friends - Glenn & Judy Richards - on Saturday and on Sunday we will be blessed by the ministry of Mark and Cathy Fehrman.

Glenn Richard was pastor at West Endicott Baptist Church in New York when I was in seminary back in the 1980's. They took me on as an intern for the summer of 1982 and mentored us in many ways. It was a blessing that God built into those seminary years. In some ways it rescued us from burning out in seminary after that first very difficult year.

Mark and Cathy Fehrman are missionaries with EBM's ministry - Tri-M. Tri-M offers theological education for indiginous pastors and missionaries in countries around the world. It is a great program, and we are looking forward to hearing about their year abroad.

So it should be a great weekend! I don't get to preach, but I will still be blessed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Under Siege

(Jeremiah 38:4-6) ¶ Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”
5 ¶ Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.”
6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.
I suppose that a pastor is especially susceptible to a "siege mentality."

Part of the pastor's calling is to deal with people about their sin - and to encourage them to repent and turn back to Christ. Occasionally there are dramatic positive results. Often people are defensive, resentful and unpleasant - like in Jeremiah's case.

But I love Proverbs 18:10. When I find that I am under attack, my natural reaction is to be defensive myself and to fight back. But then I remember I have a place of safety... in the name of the LORD. I can run to Him and let Him take care of the attacker.
(Proverbs 18:10) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sermon Planning

Praise God for His daily provision!

I've been working on my report for the semi-annual meeting tonight. In reviewing all of the things we have done - just since last May - I am exhausted. Where did I get the ideas for the sermons and the energy for the work?

Then I look at my sermon planning and come up with a worse question: Where will the ideas and energy come from for the year ahead? I can see the year stretching out before me in the infinite cells of my sermon planning spreadsheet. I have trouble with ideas for a daily blog... how will I come up with sermons?

I will study. I will read. I will meditate. I will jot down notes. I will crumple sheets of scribble and throw them toward the trash can. I will draw blanks and run down dead ends. I will be distracted and interrupted. I will be frustrated.

But a marvelous thing will happen. Each week - somewhere in the week - things will fall into place. Sometimes it will be well in advance. Sometimes it will be at the last minute. But somehow there will be sermons and lessons and reports and meetings.

Praise God! While I am undependable and completely incompetent in my own strength, He is gracious and merciful.
(John 15:4-5) Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 ¶ “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Every Thought

(Psalms 139:23-24) Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
It is my natural inclination to feel threatened by the fact that God knows my innermost thoughts. I am a sinner and my heart is the origin of my sins - even the ones that never make it to the surface.

But because God can see my innermost heart, He can cleanse me of even the sins that are so deep I don't realize them myself.
(Jeremiah 17:9-10) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
It is also good to know that God sees not only my actions, which fall far short, but also knows my motives. People judge me by their incomplete picture of me in my many failures - but God knows the truth.

Praise God!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Every Word

Deut. 8:3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
It is not food that keeps us alive, but God. Obeying God - every word of God - is more important than eating.
(Proverbs 14:15; 30:5) The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.
5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Some people believe everything they hear - but only God is trustworthy in everything He says. He is never wrong and never deceitful.
(Matthew 12:36) But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
Every word we speak - every thought we think - counts. God is our judge. Fortunately, He is also our redeemer and our helper. He provides what we need to fight the spiritual battle.
(2Corinthians 10:4-5) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good Example Of Bad Exposition

I heard an interesting sermon on the radio yesterday. I don't know who it was, so I can't give you his name.

He caught my interest with his strange paraphrase of Ephesians 5:25-33. He said something like, "Our passage this morning says, 'Husbands love your families as Christ loved the church...'" and he went on to talk about the husband's role in the family. He said the husband is the "CFO" of the family - making sure they are provided for and managed well. He talked about training children to manage their time and their money. He emphasized that children should be taught delayed gratification.

I didn't have any problem with his basic ideas about husbands taking responsibility for their families or training their children in managing their time and money. My issue is that he purported to be teaching them about Ephesians 5:25-33. (Maybe he was including 6:1-4 - it was hard to tell since after his loose paraphrase he didn't really refer back to the text.)

What he was doing was not exposition. The only connection between what he was teaching and what was in the text was that it did address fathers/husbands.

The text is all about Christ and the Church. He should have talked about how Christ gave Himself for the Church and why. He should have talked about how the church is united to Christ and what that means for our lives. In this passage the husband's treatment of his wife is the outworking of the truth about Christ and the church. If you don't focus on the basic truth about Christ, you don't have any foundation for the application to the family.

So what?
  • For one thing, he is NOT showing his people how to interpret scripture for themselves. They must look at this passage and say, "How did he get his lesson from this?" Indeed!!
  • Another thing is he has no biblical authority for what he is counseling. There is no tie between what he is saying and what the biblical passage is saying. Why should people take his word for it that the dad is to be the CFO of the family? Certainly not because of anything in particular that they found in this passage.
  • Finally, what he was teaching might have been sound counsel on how to manage your family and train your children about using their time and money, but it was trivial compared to the basic truth of the passage. What if your kids learn to handle money and time well, but end up in hell for eternity because nobody focused on the central truth of these passages?
Every preacher, myself included, is tempted to use his time telling people the things he wants to say. But the expository preacher is governed by what the text says. Exposition is the explanation of the text - not using the text as a jumping off place for my own ideas about a topic. If we do that we are disregarding the revealed word of God, we are substituting our own thoughts for God's thoughts, and we are trivializing preaching.
(2Timothy 4:1-4) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Husband of the Year?

I like to congratulate myself for being the "Husband Of The Year." The idea is that I do nice things for my wife... that I pack her lunch, write her love notes, give her gifts, and do helpful things around the house and treat her tenderly.

I figure that Lola should think I am the best husband in the world. But no one who does nice things for his wife really deserves a prize. When we have done them all, we are still only a pale (and cracked) reflection of Christ.
(Ephesians 5:25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Christ gave Himself to the church with infinite condescension and infinite sacrifice. He expects me to love my wife with all of my energy and imagination by giving myself to her. To do less is not really an option. Maybe some people don't, but that doesn't mean I should be congratulated for doing the right thing. What was I thinking?
(Ephesians 5:28-29) So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
Being a "great husband" is its own reward. Lola is me! We are one! Any ministry to her is a ministry to myself. To serve her is to serve myself.

I'm not talking about "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine." What I mean is that it thrills my heart to bless her. It is satisfies me to see her smile. It is my delight to delight her. We are tied together in ways that I don't fully understand. If I selfishly tried to please myself at her expense I would be withering my own soul.

I love loving my wife! How I praise God for her!

What Does It Mean?

(Proverbs 29:2) When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

No one knows for sure how Barak Obama will govern. But we now know much more about how Americans think about moral and social issues - and that is frightening.

Pray for President Elect Obama. Pray for America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Italian Buffet?

I've seen a sign for a new Italian Buffet opening near my home. I wonder who wants to be buffeted by Italians? I don't want to be buffeted by anybody - not by Chinese, not by Mexicans, not by Amish - neither in my Hometown or in a Corral (Golden or otherwise.)

All of these are entirely too violent.

Gone Voting!

It is time to vote!

I am glad for the privilege and I certainly will exercise my right! They say every vote counts, and everyone gets only one vote. I hope "they" are right. One vote is just a drop in the bucket, but when you get millions of drops - you get a flood.

Remember that the government will never be our savior. Make sure your hope is fixed firmly on God. Then, no matter what the government does you will be looking in the right direction.

Get out and vote!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preachers and Prophets

Ezekiel had a rough assignment.
(Ezekiel 2:3) And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.
In the ten verses of chapter two "rebellious" is the description of Ezekiel's audience five times. According to God they have historically rebelled and transgressed against Him. He calls them impudent and stubborn children.

Every preacher dreams of people responding in a positive way to the preaching of the word of God. But it doesn't take long to learn that a warm handshake and a congratulatory "Great sermon!" at the door of the church does not imply obedience to the message preached.

It is worse than that. People are rebels against God. They want to do what they want to do and they don't want anybody (including God) cramping their style. People have an amazing ability to dismiss any teaching of Scripture if it is contrary to their own feelings and they resent being hearing the truth.

God warns people to listen to those who preach the word of God to them.
(Hebrews 13:7) Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
(Hebrews 13:17) Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
But, instead of obeying the word of God, people resent hearing the truth. God has to encourage Ezekiel to hang in there.
(Ezekiel 2:6) “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


The GPS units in cars must be the brain-child of a woman. Men are too proud to admit they are lost - so they continue to drive around until they see something they recognize... maybe days later. And if you think that a man who is lost will listen to his wife tell him which way to turn, think again.

But a GPS unit is a technical toy and a marvel - so men are anxious to have one and eager to hear it's mechanical voice tell them which way to turn. Now these men are "in control" and happy to follow directions from a little plastic box. Did I mention that it gets its position from SATELLITES?

(Proverbs 1:7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Humans (men and women) are too proud to admit that they are lost. They will just wander around until they see something that appeals to them. They certainly are NOT going to ask God for directions about how to live their lives. That is so old fashioned! That is so out of date! We don't need those "crutches" anymore - we have SCIENCE that tells us we can do whatever our little hearts desire... but then they wonder why the world is in such a mess.

Until and unless a person will humble himself before the Lord, he will reject God's directions for his life. As long as he rejects God's directions, he will keep on going in wrong directions.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Moses Strikes The Rock

(Numbers 20:12) Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Poor Moses! He went through an awful lot of trouble leading Israel. He put up with an awful lot of complaining and rebellion. Finally he lost his temper and lost his own opportunity to enter the promised land.

What are we supposed to learn from Moses' experience?

1) We need to believe God and act according to that belief.
God said that Moses failed because, "you did not believe me." Perhaps he didn't believe that speaking to the rock would be enough - he thought he needed to beat it a few times. Perhaps he didn't believe that this was enough of a rebuke to the people or enough vindication of himself and Aaron. At any rate, he did NOT do what God told him to do.

2) Our primary objective in every situation should be to exalt God as Holy.
It is very easy for us to think the situations we face are about us. They are not. We are all about glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. When Moses went after the rock he seems to have had a "I'll show you rebels a thing or two about who the prophet is..." attitude. In other words, he seemed more concerned about his own glory than God's.

So we feel bad about Moses, realizing that we are vulnerable to the same failures.

On the other hand we need to remember that actually arriving in Caanan was not the ultimate blessing. Moses still went to heaven. Many years later he communes with Jesus and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration. (Matthew 17:2-3) Moses was shut out of an earthly blessing, but he still had his heavenly reward.

Serving God is serious business. God will not be slighted.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Seminar

I just returned home from a three day seminar at Baptist Church Planters in Elyria, Ohio. The speaker was Dr. Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary in Plymouth, MN. The topic was "Ecclesiastical Separation."

Don't say, "Ewwww!" Separation is really about Fellowship. This was a great seminar and we had great fellowship for those three days!

Dr. Bauder gave two axioms at the start.

Axiom #1 – Unity is always a function of that which unites.
Unity is a by-product of something else. In the Church, that something is belief in and loyalty to the Gospel.

Axiom #2 – Fellowship is what is held in common.
Quality of the fellowship is always determined by what you hold in common. If we have limited agreement - our level of fellowship will also be limited. The more substantial our agreement, the deeper our fellowship.

I am refreshed and exhausted. Now I need to dig out my office and catch up on my work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sleep Well!

(Psalms 4:8) I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalms 127:2) It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.
I think God built night into the world and built the need for sleep into our human bodies so that we could see our helplessness and be humbled before Him.

Sleep is a lesson in trust. You cannot protect yourself while you are asleep. You cannot run from danger or fight an attacker. You are blissfully asleep and essentially helpless. To do anything in your own behalf you need to wake up.

Because we need to sleep, we see our limitations. We cannot concentrate on anything for an indefinite period of time. We become fatigued. Our mind begins to falter. We can only continue after we recover through sleep. God is infinite. God is omnipotent. His knowledge of everything is exhaustive. His concentration never flags. We need to trust in Him. We can trust in Him.
(Psalms 121:2-7) My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quietness versus Silence

(Psalms 46:10) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
I am prejudiced toward action, but I need to spend time being quiet, knowing that God is acting for Himself. I need to be quiet and think about God - study His word - approach Him in prayer.

My hotel room is quiet... just the sound of the heater/air conditioner. White noise - they call it. I can also hear faint traffic sounds outside. Occasionally I hear a door open or close in the hallway - now some voices. (I'm not sure I ever experience perfect silence, since I have a perpetual ringing in my ears that keeps me company even when everything else is quiet. But even that tinnitus is a sort of white noise - a tintinnabulation like a chorus of Spring peepers.)

But it is quiet anyway. Quiet does not require silence. Quiet is the absence of distractions. If I turned on the TV - I would find that distracting. The communication coming from the TV would compete for my attention.

There are other kinds of noise. The computer I am using is on the hotel network - so I could access any number of things - e-mails, news sites, comics sites, U-Tube, God Tube, Facebook, etc. These things are not bad in their place, but if I let them intrude into my quiet they become noise - and they interfere.

Quiet can wear me out, but I need the quiet - some of it everyday.
I need the quiet for my Bible reading... otherwise I can't concentrate.
I need the quiet for my prayer time... so I can focus on God, His word, and His will for my life.
(Psalms 46:10) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Sparrows

I went grocery shopping today through the season's first flurry of snow. There is barely enough snow to recognize - you would think it was just a sprinkle of rain. It is pretty cold... not quite freezing, but there's a promise of cold days coming.

As I wheeled my cart out to the parking lot I noticed a few sparrows sheltering under my truck. One was fluffed up with its head under its feathers in a perfect ball, just behind my rear tire. All the birds moved out when I started unloading my groceries, but they didn't go far. They went to the cart rack in the next parking space and puffed up there. As I walked around the truck to get to the passenger side, all but one popped up and hopped off.

The one that was left stayed in a tight ball of downy feathers while I looked it over from three feet away. When I spoke to it, it raised its head and looked at me from one sleepy eye. Then, deciding I was no threat, it snuggled back down and ignored me.

I don't have much use for sparrows - but these were cute! I'm glad to know they are under God's care.
(Matthew 10:28-31) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Glorious Mornings With God

(Lamentations 3:22-23) Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Everyday I fail the Lord in one way or another. I either do something I shouldn't or I fail to do something I should. I sin in my thoughts or with my tongue. I sleep when I should be awake. I think of myself when I should be thinking of my Lord.

The burden of my sinful imperfections is great, but I am not overwhelmed because God's mercy and compassion are new every morning! Great is His Faithfulness!

I love the morning - the early morning - the crack of dawn. The day is new. It is washed clean and new possibilities stretch out in front of me.

Instead of being burdened with the failures of yesterday, I am lifted up by God's grace for this new day. Today I can apply the lessons from yesterday. The traps I fell into yesterday can be avoided today. Because of my pain in yesterday's failures I will call out to God early in the morning - "do not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one."

God is so great and so good! Even when I do all that I should do, I will be but an unworthy servant! But He loves me anyway and works in my life. Today is a new day with God. With God all things are possible.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou always will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Praise God for yet another day to serve Him!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Book Review: This Little Church Stayed Home

I just finished this book by Gary E. Gilley. The full title is "This Little Church Stayed Home: A faithful church in deceptive times."

This is a great read for someone like me who believes the Bible is the authoritative word of God and that the Church is the creation of Jesus Christ and subject to His Own design requirements. We do not "do church" according to our own whims and fancies. We are the church and we obey God's instructions about form and function.

In his previous book, "This Little Church Went To Market," Gilley detailed issues with the way the "market driven" church had developed. In this book, he takes on the postmodern emerging church movement. I think his criticisms in both cases are clear, well documented and more than fair. Gilley does not impugn his target's motives - just their theology.

Nevertheless, I get the feeling Gilley is frustrated - or maybe I am reading my own frustration into his words. Why are so many prominent Christians so willing to turn a blind eye to such glaring errors? How can anyone be happy with Christianity that is only a worldly philosophy dressed in religious clothes? How can people declare their fealty to the Bible as God's Word while using it and abusing it in ways that undercut its authority?

While this book sounds many important warnings to true believers, I don't think it focuses enough on "a faithful church in deceptive times." It outlines important basic doctrines of Scripture and the Church, but does not do much to highlight the churches that are truly faithful to these doctrines.

Faithful churches can thrive. Small churches can be vibrant. Persecuted churches are often the purest. Sound churches can grow. Gilley implies these things, but doesn't give much time to developing them. I wish he would.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who are you going to believe?

Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Can we know true truth? Writers for the Emergent Church would say no. According to them truth claims should always be viewed with suspicion. According to them we cannot know that any particular proposition of the Bible is really true truth. They reject any claim that Christ is the only way of salvation - because that would mean the claims of the Bible are more true than the teachings of other religions and traditions.

Meanwhile, these guys are prolific writers. Each of them produces several books a year and blogs without number.

Please pause to enjoy the irony with me. People who claim that there is no absolutely true truth and that all truth claims must be considered attempts to manipulate, are writing pages and pages of truth claims of their own (and expecting people to pay them for it.)

What a bunch of squirrelly snake oil salesmen! "You cannot believe the truth claims of the Bible, you must believe my truth claims about that."

Does this sound familiar to you?
(Genesis 3:4-5) Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
You know how that turned out! This is equally audacious and just as dangerous.

They say, "Jesus is NOT the only way to salvation. People of other religions will also be saved by God." But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

I have trouble believing that they are sincere. If they believe truth is relative and one person's truth claims are not true for another person - how could they spend hours writing down such truth claims of their own and how could they sell such things in good conscience? It would be as immoral as it is illogical.

There is no question if you are going to believe someone's truth claims - because you are. The only question is - "Whose truth claims will you believe?"

I choose to believe the Bible.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


This week I enjoyed the OARBC annual conference at Skyview Ranch in Millersburg. God blessed us with good weather, a beautiful setting, great attendance, wonderful fellowship, uplifting music and challenging preaching.

The speaker asked an important question. "What do you daydream about?"

Our daydreams can tell us what is in our hearts. He suggested that "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life" often reveal themselves in our daydreams. He pointed out that dreams of "success" (especially in ministry - church growth, acclaim, fame, praise...) are often a revelation of the pride of life.

He also talked about brokenness. We need to be broken before Christ and come to a place where we surrender completely to Him. If we do, we can be useful vessels. We can live to see God turn every hardship into a blessing. We can praise God at the top of our voice for a lifetime.

But what if we are not broken and surrendered to God?

We become bitter. We nurse our grudges and rehearse our wounds in a leanness of spirit that is always hungry for vindication. We are miserable as we replay our hurts blow by blow.

Our labor is not for the glory of God, but for our own validation - and there can never be enough success to satisfy us. We become grumpy and embittered. We might come to the place where we hate the work of ministry. Some are shipwrecked regarding the faith. Others are sidelined. Others cripple along, going through the motions with a grim determination but with little hope of joy.

Mercifully, God doesn't let us go unchallenged in our pride. He puts obstacles in our way to break us down. We are brought to the end of ourselves. We are presented with opportunities to put God in His right place and let go of our agenda for our own reputation. If we do that, we can get past our past hurts with joy because GOD IS GLORIFIED!

This message resonated with me. Praise God for His mercies! It is easy to think everything is about me. My success or my failure, my control, my reputation, my image, my ministry, my heritage - me, me, me. When we do this we are striving against God in the pride of life. But it is NOT about me. Everything is about God - that His name would be exalted as holy - that His kingdom would come - that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Glory to God in the highest!
(James 4:6-7) But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Slothful In Work?

(Proverbs 18:9) He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

This verse reminds me of a book a read several times as a teenager. The book was about one man's experience as a prisoner of war during WWII. He wrote about the various ways the prisoners worked to resist their captors, escape if they could and keep their morale up during their long imprisonment.

Some of the prisoners worked to culture wood dry rot. Then they sneaked it up into the attic of the old fortress in which they were imprisoned and put it on the rafters there. They reasoned that the war might last a long long time. If it lasted long enough, the dry rot would destroy the rafters and cause the roof to collapse - having the same effect as a bomb.

Slothful work amounts to the same thing as destruction. If you don't produce for your employer you can cause him to go out of business. If your mechanic is slothful in working on your car he can cause your car to be destroyed or even cause you to wreck. If your contractor (or his employees) are slothful, your house might collapse.

What about a slothful pastor? Might people be spiritually harmed if I am slothful in my study and preaching of the word? If I don't do the hard work of 2Timothy 4:2? Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Don't be slothful in your work!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Of Monks & Monkeys

In my recent reading I've run across several references to the resurgence of Christian mysticism and a related new monasticism. (The string of r words in that sentence alone might throw someone into a trance! Best to read it silently.)

What is this? Well - it boils down to people seeking a direct, unmediated, subjective experience of ecstatic oneness with God in which they might get a message from God. They practice ascetic deprivation and then "meditate" to empty their minds and free themselves of this world so they can be united with God on some new level.

So what are the issues?
  1. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. (2Tim. 3:15-17) People who want to know God need to find out objective truth about Him from the Scriptures.
  2. The Holy Spirit of God instructs believers through the illumination of the Scriptures. (1Cor. 2:14-16) He revealed it originally and He illumines it to the mind of the regenerate person.
  3. The meditation the Bible talks about is not like that of Eastern Mystics (Hindu, Buddhist, Yoga, TM, etc.). In biblical meditation people are to think about the revelation of God and it's objective meaning. (e.g., Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2) Then they are supposed to apply that meaning (including directions for living) into their lives.
  4. The practices of the new mystics and monastics are UNBIBLICAL!
So where does this come from and why?
  1. Much of what is called Christianity has shallowed out into a religious themed party and/or celebration of a can-do attitude. But many people want something "deeper."
  2. We live in an age where autonomy is the highest value. People are much more interested in a subjective experience and a private message than they are in the objective propositions of the Bible.
  3. We are in a post-modern age where truth is thought to be relative and truth statements are viewed with suspicion. Many people will not submit themselves to the authority of the Bible or the preaching of it.
So what should we do?

(2Timothy 4:1-4) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Is Deadline Day

(Proverbs 16:5) Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
Just last night at the W.A.Y. (Whipple Avenue Youth) meeting we were talking about pride being the prototypical sin. If we could get a grip on this, think how we would be blessed.

If we were not prideful -
  1. We wouldn't care what other people thought or about real or imagined slights.
  2. We would be free from other people's power to manipulate us through flattery or aggression.
  3. We would not spend any time at pity parties. (They are unpleasant and just tempt us to give in to sin.)
  4. Our angry outbursts (and revenge fantasies) would be a thing of the past. We could concentrate on driving better ourselves.
  5. We could give ourselves to promoting God's glory because we wouldn't be worried about our own.
  6. We could give ourselves to humble service with complete joy and be thoroughly satisfied.
  7. We would be on God's side - and He would be helping us.
(Proverbs 16:18-19) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Jesus is the solution to our pride problem. He condescended from heaven to become a man and die for our sins on the cross. By yielding to Him and giving Him the honor and glory due His name, we find ourselves in the right place... humbly bowing before Him and yielding up all our autonomy Him. Let Jesus rule ME!
(1Peter 5:5-7) ¶ Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Praise God we can throw ourselves on Him! He cares for us better than we could care for ourselves. Besides, He is omnipotent while we are very weak.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To Love Jesus Is To Hate Our Sin

We don't take sin seriously.

We don't think sin is all that bad. Everybody does it. Nobody is perfect. Often we can blame someone else for pushing us into it. (e.g., I wouldn't have road rage if the other people would drive better...)

Sin is rebellion against our Holy Creator. It is a treasonous betrayal of our All Wise God. It is spitting in the face of our Loving Savior. It is thumbing our nose at our Eternal Judge.

Besides that, sin is antithetical to our hope of eternal salvation.
(Romans 6:1-2) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
(1John 2:29) If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
(1John 3:6-8) No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Jesus died to save sinners from their sins. If someone is not sensitive about sin in his life - in what way is he saved? If a person has no victory over sin in his life, but continues in the same patterns of sin - it is evidence that his profession of faith was just words - his supposed faith is dead.
(James 2:20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
We don't take sin seriously enough. Our goal is to glorify Christ! We will not get that done by repeating happy platitudes - suggesting we love Him and adore Him - while by our daily actions we dishonor Him and betray Him.

To love Jesus is to hate our sin - like He does.
God said, "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Daily Blogging?

I have been caught (again) in the profundity trap. I didn't have anything especially profound to write - so I didn't write at all. Well that is stupid. What makes me think that I EVER had anything profound to say?

So, I've decided to try to write something everyday. So stay tuned. Totally random and probably inane blogging. You are now at the right place.

I've decided I need to get out of my office more and into the community. I haven't figured out how to do that - but I'm working on it. I'm thinking of setting up a street corner stand like Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip. Free pastoral advice... Maybe down at the Canton centre mall. I could drink coffee and talk to the mall walkers. (I wonder if they have wireless access down there?)

I also need to get back to teaching for the Red Cross (before I lose my certification to teach). There are always things to do instead... but you've got to make time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On Community

“Community” brings to my mind an image of people gathered at the Memorial Day celebration in a small town. Diverse people who all know each other. They are all there to watch their kids march in the parade, to show their grandkids the fire trucks, to listen to the speeches and remember the soldiers who didn’t come back. As they wait they talk about things that concern them all – the price of gas, the school levy, the business that failed, the new business that’s starting up, the latest scandal, the newest baby.

Community makes me think of the noun commune, of the verb commune and of "communion." In every case people have something in common. They have given up some of themselves and have shared what they had with the others. In community, people share food, recipes, help, advice, knowledge or any number of other things, including childcare and chicken pox.

Community has dried up in many places in the past 50 or 60 years. People wall themselves in and jealously guard their privacy and their stuff. They don’t know the names of their neighbors. Everyone is a stranger. Every stranger is viewed with suspicion and fear. People don’t share things in common. There is no common ground, no common cause and no common grace.

Real community is always good because it is based on love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Care for him as you would want him to care for you. Share, build up, help out, look after and care about the other person. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

All of these are biblical values stemming from Divine commandments. In a secularized world of naturalism, materialism and Darwinism, community is crippled. Witness the savagery and disparity in Socialism, Communism, and Free Market Capitalism. As economic systems they all work to some degree – but as community they all fail because there is no cause bigger than an individual. We are denizens of the jungle where the fittest survive by making the weak a prey. It’s a dog eat dog world.

In this world we are taught that we have absolute autonomy. The world is all about the individual. I don’t have to answer to any god and all the people around me are competitors for the world’s scarce resources. Selfishness, violence, apathy, hopelessness and lawsuits are the order of the day. Buy good locks and a gun. Don’t get involved.

When disaster strikes, people still band together as a community. There are communities of people helping others who have the same addictions, disabilities or illnesses. There are communities of colleagues in schools and workplaces. There are even neighborhood communities. It is a natural thing – built into our consciences.

From my perspective, the very best place for community is the Church. For one thing, the values that promote real community are biblical. For another, in a local church you find a group of people who have more in common than the average neighbors – they have the same world-view and religious beliefs. Finally, the church is built on communion – a fellowship of God with people and people with each other because of what God has done for them.
(1John 1:3-7) "that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
(This was originally written for Frank Mills in response to his inquiry, "What does community mean to you?" and published on his Urban Paradoxes web site.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Loyalty to Christ

What is the standard for our loyalty to Christ?

We all have multiple roles and relationships. We are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, employees and employers, citizens, neighbors, friends. We may belong to clubs and councils and boards of directors.

Where does our relationship to Christ factor into our lives?

Too often Christ comes far down the list in our affections. We are more concerned about what other people think or expect than we are about Christ. We are more concerned about offending other people than we are about offending Christ. We will compromise our commitment to Christ to make commitments to other people.

If this is true, and every time it is true, we deny Christ His place as Lord of our lives and we make those other people into our god. Other organizations and other activities take the place of worshipping Jesus as God and Savior. Other loyalties trump our loyalty to Christ.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Love Jesus with all you have! Not just with what's left over.

For true followers of Jesus there must be no division of loyalty! Be loyal to Christ. Let your love for others flow out of your love for Christ. Be a devoted husband because you are devoted to Christ. Be a devoted mother because you are devoted to Christ. Be a good citizen because you are a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Be a great employee because you are a devoted servant of Jesus Christ.

Don't compromise! Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." There is no compromise in that formula! Give other people their proper place in your life - but don't steal time and loyalty from Christ.

What does God think? Might Jesus be offended by the choices we make and the priorities we set? Let us strive to please Christ and bring Him glory in everything we do and say.