Thursday, August 27, 2009

Proverbs 18:2

Ponderous proclamations I'm avoiding
Pride and profundity become cloying.
Pretense and pomposity are annoying.
(Proverbs 18:2) A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

Monday, August 24, 2009

R U Grumpy?

Remember the seven dwarves? What were their names? Doc, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy and Bashful.

While only one in seven of the dwarves was grumpy, it seems that about seven in ten people LOOK grumpy. Why are people so unhappy?

This morning I found myself facing a lady driving a minivan in a narrow lane in a small parking lot. It is a one way parking lot and she was facing the wrong way, but she made it abundantly clear, even without words, that I was an idiot for blocking her path to the opening marked "entrance only" where she ultimately exited.

She was SO unhappy and that was just the beginning of her problems.

She traveled the same direction down Whipple Ave. as I did. It could not have improved her mood to turn into her driveway and find that someone had run over a big skunk almost right in front of her house. The skunk was in the northbound lanes and my truck in the southbound lanes STILL picked up some of the stink. That lady's house is on the northbound side of the road. It can't be good.

We need to be careful about our countenance. Christians need to display the fruit of the Spirit lest our attitudes stink like a big dead skunk.
(Galatians 5:22-23) ¶ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
People can see our faces behind the wheel. They can discern our "body language." They can see if we are controlling our tempers or losing them. They can tell if we are being polite or not. How will our attitudes affect our testimonies?

Live for Jesus!
(Galatians 5:16) ¶ I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lessons from Job

My annual Bible reading schedule has me in the book of Job right now. This is one of the great things about reading through the Bible on a slow schedule like this. You read parts of the Bible you might be tempted to skip and you have the time to read them slowly - to meditate on them.

Job is a tough book. Job is righteous, but he gets flattened by one disaster after another. Job complains that he would rather be dead. His friends say that God wouldn't do this to a righteous man, so Job must in fact be a terrible sinner. They say, in effect, "It is simple - repent and God will restore you." Job says that as far as he knows he has nothing specific to repent for. He says that he wishes he could just bring his case directly to God. He points out that many overtly unrighteous people are terrible violent sinners, yet have relatively trouble free lives - so it doesn't necessarily follow that suffering is the result of sin.

So, what is the point?
  1. God is not giving us our just rewards in this life.
  2. God is not going to be manipulated by men.
  3. God's chastening is to refine the faith of His people.
  4. God is merciful and longsuffering toward His enemies.
(1Peter 1:3-7) ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 ¶ In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Don't worry. God has everything in hand, and He will not drop you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Send them all to Asia!

Did you hear about the interviewer who asked an older person what he thought about the issue of euthanasia? The old gentleman said, "send them all to Asia!"

I received this interesting request in a recent e-mail.
I'd be interested in reading something practical about how we should be viewing "frightening" current events (death panels, etc). There seems to be a missed balance between those Christians who are fatalistic and fear mongering (Obama is anti christ, everybody homeschool, etc.) and those who are so busy being entertained they don't even worry about the Lord's return.
This is a tall order! What is the Christian perspective and response? How do I balance my Christian faith with my rights and responsibilities as a citizen of the USA? That is the main problem raised in the question. Where is the balance?

I was reading comments on the Canton Repository web site the other morning and there was not much offered in the way of balance. The tone was shrill and the volume was loud. Personal attacks were the order of the day. People seemed to be in a panic.

I would suggest that nobody needs to panic - especially not the followers of Jesus Christ.

BALANCE POINT ONE: As citizens of Heaven, we have (or should have) our eyes fixed on heaven. No government, no leader, no party, no plan, no law - NOTHING, is going to change the final outcome. In this life we are strangers and pilgrims. Eventually our mortal bodies will die and we will be "absent from the body and present with the Lord." Our faith is in God to keep His promises. We should not have any faith in government - no matter what party is in power and no matter what form of government we have.

BALANCE POINT TWO: As citizens of the USA we are not helpless bystanders. We are part of the political process. We can (and should) communicate our opinions to our representatives and we can (and should) vote. You also have a right to express your opinions publicly, but be careful that you don't damage your ability to speak for Christ by becoming a partisan in the fight over some political issue. Presenting the gospel is far more important than ANY political or social issue. The Gospel is more important than your life or anyone's life, much less issues of taxes or deficits or even our various freedoms.

BALANCE POINT THREE: As ambassadors for Christ, we must stay engaged with our neighbors and countrymen. All Christians are ultimately engaged in a spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12). People who want to live godly lives WILL suffer persecution! (2Tim. 3:12) Jesus said, " These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

There is no biblical encouragement to disengage from the general battle and hide out until Jesus comes! When Jesus prays for the disciples in John 17 He makes this very clear.
(John 17:14-18) I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
The life of faith is not a bed of ease and prosperity. I am afraid that too many professed Christians think that any lowering of their accustomed standard of living is equivalent to the plagues of the Great Tribulation.

There are millions of Christians who are living godly lives in countries with totalitarian governments where it is illegal to be obedient to Jesus. Thousands of Christians are killed every year for Christ. Thousands more suffer deprivation and imprisonment. Yet they are faithful and reaching lost people for Christ.

Be courageous! Fight the good fight! Be faithful! Be witnesses for Jesus, Who is alive from the dead! Remember a servant is not greater than his master. If you are obedient to Jesus in this world, they will treat you in the same way as they did Him.

Live for Jesus! If necessary, die for Jesus! If only we were as excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we are about the economy, health care, and our own physical and financial security.
(Hebrews 11:32-12:1) ¶ And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again. ¶ Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 ¶ And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Cheap Watch

About four years ago I bought a nice Timex digital watch. It was big and had an intriguing feature - an electronic compass. But it was SO big that it wouldn't fit under my shirt sleeve. I had to push my sleeve up behind it, which I didn't like, so I didn't wear it much. When I did wear it I would push a button expecting to turn on the light and get darkness. Then when I found the light button, I would not see the time but the direction the watch had been pointing when I pushed the first button. It was a fiasco - and it cost me about $50.

When the battery died, I thought, "This is a relatively expensive watch. I will buy a battery for it." Which I did, for about $10. But when I asked the store to install the battery, they declined. These watches are too complicated, they said.

"How can putting in a watch battery be that complicated?" I asked myself. So I opened up the watch. I couldn't even get the old battery out from under the restraining spring. I tried for quite a while, but, fearing that I would damage the watch, I ultimately put it back together and put it away in a drawer with the new battery in its packaging next to it.

Several months later I saw them lying pathetically in the drawer and said to myself, "What difference does it make if I break it or not? It isn't doing any good in there." So I took them out, took the watch apart, sprang the release by brute force, put the battery in, got the retainer back in place and read the mysterious inscription about resetting the compass by crossing the contact points. I saw what I thought might be contact points and crossed them with a mini-screwdriver.

I put it all back together and it worked. I even figured out how to recalibrate the compass. "Not too bad," I told myself, smugly.

But it was still too big to go under my shirtsleeve. And soon it began to behave strangely. The display would go blank, but would come back strong if you pushed a button. Then it began resetting itself... "This is too frustrating," said I.

That's it! I've had it with complicated watches. I went to WalMart and bought a $10 digital watch to replace the Timex. I am thinking disposable. When the battery goes the watch can go too and I'll buy another $10 watch. It is just not worth the time, energy and frustration - not to mention the extra money - to buy more complicated watches.

Cheap watches are the wave of the future.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Facebook, Worms and Blogging

I just followed my daughter's example and took down my Facebook page. I had a few people that used Facebook to communicate with me, but by and large it was a weird conglomeration of wall to wall notes from people I don't even know. Then one of my friends got worms - or something like that. I decided it was time to dump it before I got worms too.

Time to get back to writing blogs more frequently. I know I have been very irregular for a long while, but I want to get back at it. Blogging is writing and writing makes me think and thinking is good. It helps if people send me questions, but if not, I will make up my own questions.

Go ahead - ask any old question and I will give it a whirl. I am thinking especially about those pastoral or theological or philosophical questions that are out there... The meaning of life, the importance of flossing, the relationship of the health care debate to the Christian Gospel... stuff like that.

So, from now on I will do at least a couple of blogs a week. I promise! Check back soon.