Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The change in us...

This last weekend, we had an opportunity to share a very special occasion with some friends; we were invited to a party to share their 50th wedding anniversary. My wife and I just celebrated our 25th a couple of weeks ago. We made it together 25 years by living life day by day. These good people made it together 50 years by living day by day. And I believe that we follow God by living for God day by day.

There are no secrets to living together for many years. You just love that person each day, and pretty soon you’ve reached a milestone, whether that milestone is 25 years, or even 50 years. It is the accumulation of many days. When you stop, even for just a day, you begin to loose ground. I tell young couples as I counsel them before they are married that there is no status quo in our relationships. We don’t get married, and stay the same forever. We have to work at our relationship every day, because if we aren’t growing, we declining. We don’t stay the same, we’re ever-changing, and our relationships are ever-changing also.

Remember that as you live your lives. Since you are always changing as a person, every relationship you are in needs to be ever-changing also. You will need to work at each to keep it fresh, to keep it growing. Even our relationship with God. God doesn’t change, but since we do, we must work at even our faith.

Do different things in your devotions to keep things fresh. God doesn’t want stale praise, he wants fresh and growing and committed praise. So don’t be afraid to try new things. You will grow, your faith will grow, and will grow in you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When is it convenient?

I wanted to share something from my devotion this morning. I was reading from Acts 24, when Paul is on trial before Felix. After the trial, Felix promises to decide his case when Lysias comes (the commander in that region). In the meantime, he sends for Paul and listens to him often. At least for a while. When he gets convicted, he tells Paul, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (v. 25b)

Felix was dealing with Paul on his own terms. Of course Felix was the governor at that time, so maybe he had a right to do so. But in a way, by dealing with Paul this way, he was also dealing with God this way. Since Paul was preaching to him about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come,” Felix’s dismissal of Paul was really a dismissal of God. He essentially told God, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

What really convicted me is the thought that there are times when I say that to God. Oh not consciously, but in reflecting on this passage, I have to admit that there are times (to many times) that I deal with God on my own terms, instead of allowing Him to deal with me on His terms. I do my devotions and prayer each morning, but then spend a considerable time doing the work of the church, which is not always the work of God.

Are there times when we let God go for now, only to call on Him again when it is convenient for us? When we truly give ourselves to Him, and He becomes our Master, we should be always in tune with Him. But sadly, I suspect that there are times when we do our own will, rather than the will of Him who called us to “follow me.”

Examine your own life, and see if there might be times when you might say to God, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

Send for Him again now. And don’t let him leave again!

Monday, July 16, 2007

25 years...

This week is a pretty special week for me. Tuesday (tomorrow) is our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I was a little surprised by that – I didn’t think I was that old, but I did the math, and came up with 25! (more than once!).

This event has naturally had me reflecting on marriage – my marriage and others who are just starting out. On Saturday, I presided at a wedding service, and I kept wondering what they were thinking.

On Friday we had the rehearsal. The organist was there, all the bridesmaids and groomsmen were there, we were all in our places, and the organist began playing the wedding march. I glanced over at the groom, wondering what was racing through his mind. Was he filled with joy? Or was that fear I saw? Was he filled with expectation for the future? I thought I even saw a tear in his eye, but maybe that was in my own eye.

What will it take for them to be truly happy for 25 years? Finally, maybe I can answer that. Then again, maybe not. I have been truly happy for the last 25 years. But I don’t think it was anything I did. I married the right girl. I gave her my all. And we sought God together. And that had more to do with my happy 25 years than anything I else I did.

So to the happy couple that were married here Saturday – I have a message for you (and for anyone else who either married, or hopes to be one day). There will be ups and downs in your marriage. But God will use those to grow you, and if you can trust in him for 25 years, you will one day be thinking back on a wonderful marriage, just as I am today. And God will bless you richly, as he has Sandy and me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th!

Are you superstitious?

If you are, today is probably quite a day for you! Friday the 13th is one of those days that superstitious people are very leery of. Are you a little concerned over what might happen today?

I don’t normally go in for these superstitions – however… We did have a lot of computer problems this morning at the church office! Coincidence? Maybe not!

Just joking – of course it was a coincidence. On my desk at the office I have one of those calendars that gives a thought each day. A few days ago was one of my favorites:

The way each day will look to you all starts with who you’re looking to.

If you started this morning looking to God to supply all your needs for today, then today won’t be any different than yesterday (provided you looked to God yesterday for all you needs!). If you didn’t look to God this morning, than who knows what might come today. Who knows who might meet your needs today if you didn’t ask God this morning.

The point is, God is able to supply our every need. Some needs we might be able to meet on our own. We can’t meet all our needs on our own. But God can!

Look to God today, and today will be an extraordinary day!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pebbles to Ponder...

This mornings thought is from The Pebble, a newsletter from National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA.

Give these some thought… Something to reflect on regarding how you came to faith, and what you think of the Scriptures.

Feel free to comment.

Pebbles to Ponder:

  • Think about the ways Scripture was taught to you. How did those methods impact your understanding of the Bible’s role in your life? Did you develop curiosity and interest in studying Scripture through these experiences?
  • What role does the Bible have in the life of your congregation? Is it studied, quoted, and read?
  • How do church leaders (and not just the Pastor) respond to questions about Scripture? Does the life of the church and the lifestyles of the members embody biblical principals?
  • When you hear someone say, “It’s biblical,” what do you think he or she means by that phrase?
  • What characteristics would church school curriculum materials need to have for you to consider them as being Bible-based?
  • What does it mean to know Scripture? What is the purpose of knowing Scripture?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Deep water devotion...

One of my passions is sailing. A few days ago, I had an opportunity to go sailing with a friend of mine. We were plotting an escape for a few days to the Allegany Reservoir. Once the details for that trip were discussed, the conversation drifted to faith.

He is Catholic, and he told of a book he was reading by Thomas Merton. He enjoys the contemplative prayer that Merton wrote of. He has also read several books on spirituality of the early church leaders (St. Theresa, etc). He has been to the Abbey of the Genesee monastery and has had long conversations with Brothers there. I enjoyed our conversation because I could tell he was trying his best to get closer to God, and that’s the best anyone can hope for.

We talked about some of the Bible readings he does, and prayers, etc. It was encouraging and even exciting to see that we do some of the same disciplines each day. It’s exciting to know that when I read through the daily office, that hundreds or thousands of others are doing the same. While I spending time alone with God, I am yet spending time with thousands of others as well. That’s something to think about…

I know that some of you might write off this conversation as soon as you heard that he was Catholic, but let me assure you that I have no doubt that he is born-again, and he is as serious about his faith as anyone else I know.

Let me ask you, are your disciplines bringing you closer to God? Are you reading your Bible daily, spending time in prayer, daily devotions, or other meditations? I would love to know what you do to grow your faith. Leave a comment, you will be encouraging many others.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A deep thought on health and medical science...

Yesterday I mentioned a book I was reading on Family Systems Theory (Family Evaluation, by Michael Kerr and Murray Bowen). I came across another line in that book that got me thinking, so I thought I would pass it along and you think about it as well.

After making a case for Family Systems Theory in explaining psychological conditions, they go on to indicate that just maybe we could use the theory to explain physiological abnormalities as well. Here is something to think about:

…thinking of the body as an emotional system may enhance our understanding of a clinical problem such as cancer. If the body can be conceptualized accurately as an emotional system, then cancer may reflect some sort of disturbance in the balance of that system. This way of thinking about cancer is quite different from the way of thinking upon which most cancer research has been based. Research on finding the cause of cancer has tended to focus on what is occurring inside the cancer cell. The research question has generally been, “What has gone wrong with this cell to cause it to behave abnormally?” Research based on the assumption that cancer is caused
by a defect or disturbance within the cell may eventually provide an adequate explanation. On the other hand, an adequate explanation may possibly depend on being able to conceptualize the body as a biological unit, for example, as a colony of cells. Cancer would reflect a disturbance in the unit as a whole. The disturbance observed within the cell would be a reflection of a disturbance in the larger system of which the cancer-containing organ is part.
I know this passage is a little deep, but what do you think? It kind of makes sense to me. Perhaps cancer isn’t caused by something that goes wrong inside the cell, perhaps it’s caused by the cells reaction to something occurring elsewhere in the body. We already know of some things that increase the chances of cancer – exposure to sun, improper nutrition, there are several examples.

If this is ever proven to be true, and we can identify those things that cause the abnormalities in cells, we could prevent cancer forever! And I suspect that heart disease and diabetes could be right behind. There is a thought!

I don’t know much about this, but it seems to make sense to me. I know that God has created us in a marvelous way – and I suspect that the illnesses we suffer from are probably caused by something we’re doing. Maybe I gave you something to think about!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Evolution: The most dreadful blow to the human ego???

I am reading a new book, Family Evaluation, by Michael Kerr and Murray Bowen. Murray Bowen came up the Bowen Systems theory, or Family Systems Theory as it has come to be known.

Family Systems Theory essentially tries to explain human behavior in the context of the various systems that we are a part of, such as our family system, our employment system, etc. I knew that the theory was deeply imbedded in an understanding of evolutionary theory, but I didn’t realize how much until beginning to read this book.

As it unfolds how the theory was developed, Kerr wants to make sure that we understand the importance of evolutionary theory, so he quotes Loren Eiseley’s book, The Immense Journey, where Eiseley writes, “…(Darwin) engineered what was to be one of the most dreadful blows that the human ego has ever sustained: the demonstration of man’s physical relationship to the world of lower animals.”

That statement shocked me! The thought that evolution was the most dreadful blow that the human ego has ever sustained. I personally don’t buy the evolutionary theory. It doesn’t make sense to me for a variety of reasons that won’t get into here. Still, I suspect that they may be overstating the significance of the theory of evolution. And for the purpose of the book, any statements they bring up proving evolution can just as easily be explained by the fact that animals and humans have a common creator, so they are similar.

I believe in the Bible, and I think that there is teaching in the Bible that deals a much more dreadful blow to the human ego than Darwin ever intended. Statements like our being created in the image of God, balanced with the statements that say none are righteous, all have sinned and fallen short.

God has created mankind to have a perpetual relationship with himself. But we are so self-occupied and self-centered that we rarely think of God. He asks us to trust in Him completely, yet we continue to struggle and suffer because we won’t call on the one that can deliver us. That should convict our egos far more than any theory of evolution...

Faith First

  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him...