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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How’s the Food?

            Someone sent me this a long time ago:

            A sign posted on the wall of an Army mess read: "Don't Waste Food -- Food will win the war."
            Beneath the sign someone had written: "That's fine, but how do we get the enemy to eat it?"

            It is easy to be a critic; it should be easy to be an encourager. Times can be tough in the Kingdom. Maybe Paul had tough times in mind when he wrote, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”(I Thess. 5:11.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Christ Confidence

           Lloyd John Ogilvie writes that as a native Californian, he rarely had to wear gloves. On a trip to Detroit, he arrived during a blizzard, and the weather necessitated the purchase of a pair.
            Being a good preacher, he immediately observed a useful illustration. He noticed that without his hands inside the gloves, the gloves were “ listless, inanimate, motionless.” However, when he inserted his hands inside, the gloves became “alive, vital, energized.”
            Ogilvie applied his observation in this way: the empty glove represents our self. Our self is created by God to be filled so that we might fulfill his purpose. When we are baptized into Christ, and the Holy Spirit fills us, we are empowered to be bold and confident.
            Let us then Christ-confident, not self-confident for as Ogilvie states, “The secret of lasting confidence lies in his indwelling resourcefulness.”

Source: ASK HIM ANYTHING, Lloyd John Ogilvie

Monday, February 27, 2012

Head-on Collision in the Sky

            Over twenty years ago, a family planned on spending some vacation time at a mountain resort in California. The day of departure proved perfect for flying, so they climbed aboard their airplane at the small California airport with great excitement.
            The dad, who piloted the plane, was a successful business executive. Perhaps for that reason, his mind was reflecting on business. Maybe he was so excited to be with his family, he became engrossed in what they had to say.
            Whatever the reason, the dad got distracted. Little by little, he drifted off course until his small plane crashed into a Mexican airliner over a residential area in Cerritos, California.
            Everyone on both planes was killed. A number of people on the ground perished as well.
            The writer of Hebrews reminds us that distraction leads to drifting, and drifting can lead to disaster.

1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (Heb. 2:1.) NIV

3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? (Heb. 2:3a.) NIV
Source: Knofel Stanton, HEAVEN BOUND LIVING.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding a Babysitter

            Are you like me? Is it easy for you to allow your kids to swallow up all of your family time?           
            A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child answered, “They could not get a babysitter.”
            I don’t know about that, but I do know couples spending time together—away from kids—is important. Guys, let’s find a babysitter so we can spend time with our wives.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who’s Your Daddy?

            A friend shared with me the other day a funny story:
            Two boys were walking home from Sunday church after hearing a
strong sermon on the devil. One boy said to the other, “What do you think  
about all this Satan stuff?”
            The other boy replied, “Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your dad.”
            Peter realizes that Satan is not a myth: 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (I Pet. 5:8-9.)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Party

            The old comedian, Groucho Marx, once told a hostess as he was leaving a dull Hollywood party, “I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”
            Somehow, I think Groucho was being too direct. His response makes me think of the Proverb, “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up” (Prov. 15:1.) CEV

Source: Edmund Fuller

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Huck Finn, Jim, and Theology

            Mark Shaw wrote creative little book called DOING THEOLOGY WITH HUCK AND JIM: PARABLES FOR UNDERSTANDING DOCTRINE. He takes Mark Twain’s novel THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN and uses to teach Christians how to think theologically.
            Shaw begins with Twain’s account of Huck and the slave, Jim, who were running away. The two were on a raft when, after a period of silence, Huck asked Jim:

            “What did you bring for food? I'm hungry.”
            Jim unwrapped his bedroll. His worldly possessions were contained in it. Immediately it is all laid out in full view. There was a hat and some fruit, a pair of socks, a rabbit’s foot, and a book. Jim tossed up a piece of fruit.
            “Why did you bring the book for?" asked Huck with the tone of irritation.
            “I bought it to read,” said Jim. 'What else is a book good for?”
            “I didn't think you could read?” Huck said and wished he had not said it.
            “I can read,” Jim responded with intense seriousness, gazing into the night.
            “What kind of book is it?” Huck asked.
            “It's a book about theology,” Jim said, his voice trailing away.
            “Theology! I hate theology almost much as I hate schools and rules,” Huck said. “What good is a theology book on a trip like this?”
            Jim was silent a long time before he answered. “A trip like this is long. A lot of things are going to happen. Might come in handy.”

            Shaw’s point is this: life is a trip that takes a long time. We make decisions based upon what we think. What we think is based upon what we believe. These conspire to impact our relationships and our consequences of life. Theology, doctrine, and teaching matter.

Source: George Guthrie–Hebrews NIV Application Commentary (Page 214)

Monday, February 20, 2012

True Love

            I came across this story too late for Valentine’s Day, but Bernard Schneider writes about a young reporter working for a newspaper, who suggested to her editor a story on love for Valentine's Day. The editor was concerned about the reporter’s inexperience in life, and he questioned her if she knew what true love was.
            “Sure I know.” she answered with deep feeling. “Love is a wonderful thing when you sit alone with your sweetheart by the lake in cheery moonlight. Love is…”
            The editor abruptly dismissed her. “Nonsense, that is not love. That is just sentiment and moonlight. Love is getting up at two o'clock in the morning to fix the baby his bottle.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh Those Typos!

            I love to read the author John Feinstein. His latest book-ONE ON ONE- is another excellent one. He closes it by telling a very emotional story of a tragedy involving one of his friends.
            The story concludes with his friend encouraging himself with the classic poetic quote that hangs above the door of the Army football locker room at West Point, “I lay me down for to bleed a while but I will rise to fight with you again.”
            Next comes Feinstein's last paragraph. He writes of how he was so emotional hearing this from his friend, he wept.
            Seeking a satisfying climax, Feinstein, in his last sentence, describes how lucky he has been “to have known the people I have known over the plast twenty-five years.”
            That is not a typo; the last sentence contains the word “plast” instead of “past.”
            Having written an entire book, with deep emotions and tears, having written tens of thousands of words, Feinstein, three words from the finish line, types a typo!
            I was amazed and stunned. Perhaps, in his original manuscript, Feinstein had typed the correct word–“past.” Perhaps, along the way, someone in the publishing company pushed wrong key on his computer.
            Still, everybody missed it. And ultimately, Feinstein's name is on the product.
            Can you imagine how he felt when he discovered the mistake? I’m sure he was distressed that all of his work geared toward a stirring finish was wasted because of the distraction of that last sentence.
            In a strange way, I find comfort in this mistake. I hold Feinstein in the highest regard; this mistake does not change my feelings for him.
            If someone of his quality can make a mistake, I do not have to beat myself up for mine. The Lord knows I make plenty of them, beginning with MY TYPOS in my blogs (including this blog!)
            More importantly, I’m glad that my Lord not only forgives me for my mistakes—he forgets them.
             The writer of Hebrews, quoting Jer. 31:34, writes of God saying, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Expressing Disagreement

            In a dispute, it can be hard to be kind. A professor by the name of Parson was engaged in an argument with a man. Professor Parson grew so sarcastic that he exasperated the gentleman with whom he argued.
            At last, the man said, “Professor, I am going to have to walk away because my opinion of you is a perfectly contemptible one.”
            Professor Parson replied, “I never knew any opinion of yours, sir, which was not contemptible.”
            A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1.) ESV

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chimney Sweeping

            Doug McIntosh in his commentary on Deuteronomy tells the following story:
            In the early hours of a wet Evansville morning, a driver lost control of his vehicle smashed through the porch into the front of Lee Roy Book’s home. When a utility crew came to the house and began to check for gas leaks, they found that the home’s chimney and gas pipes were plugged by debris. Because of this, carbon monoxide fumes had been backing up into the house for some time.”
            “The poisonous and odorless gas had been creating health problems for Book for a while. Some two years before, he had begun experiencing flulike symptoms, including unexplained trembling, headaches, chills, and nausea. He would also black out occasionally and undergo periods of forgetfulness. “I'd come to when I got in the fresh air,” he said “but every day it was getting worse and worse. It was awful.” Had the utility vehicle not made its unauthorized entry, he might well have died from the poisonous effects of the gas.”
            Now, here's the irony to this story. You know how Le Roy Book once made his living? He was a building contractor. Of all people “he knew the perils of badly vented furnaces and chimneys. In fact, he regularly urged customers to check their flues every two or three years to keep just such a problem from occurring. Yet it never dawned on him to check his own chimney.”
            “A lot of people make the same mistake spiritually. They rarely consider the many ways the God has blessed them in the past and implications of those blessings the way they should live their lives… The opening chapter of Deuteronomy describes an entire nation that failed to check its chimney. Israel has repeatedly been the recipient of God's faithful acts of kindness, but they had neglected drawing the proper implications of such blessings. In Deuteronomy 1, Moses called on people to remember God's faithfulness as a spur to their own spiritual lives.”
            The book of Hebrews amplifies the ramifications of Israel’s negligence. They were, in effect, poisoned spiritually. Their relationship with God was ruined.
            Lesson learned: check the chimney!


Monday, February 13, 2012

When Wife Undermines Message

            Ten years ago, a Maryland minister began to attack gambling. The state lottery particularly galled him. His congregation had a number of African-American and lower income members, many of whom were wasting their money on a pipe dream.
            Then he made an embarrassing discovery—his wife won the lottery. Even worse, during the time period of all of those sermons on gambling, she had secretly and consistently been purchasing lottery tickets.
            Shortly thereafter, a reporter from a local TV station interviewed the couple about their recent experiences. The wife clearly felt uncomfortable. The preacher addressed the reporter’s questions in the only way he knew how, “The Lord moves in mysterious ways. His wonders to perform.”
            Needless to say, whether you agree with the preacher or not, the preacher’s message had been severely undermined. If you are a preacher and your wife is making decisions that are diametrically opposed to your message, you either need to change your message, change your wife, or announce that you and your wife agree to disagree.
            I wonder if God wrestles with this regarding the message He wants proclaimed to the world. I wonder when He sees the bride of Christ consistently making decisions that undermine His message, if he feels compelled to change His bride? Does he feel obliged to announce that He and His bride agree to disagree?
            I do know this—He’s not going to change His message.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Never Give Up!

            Mothers get no respect.
            Little Timmy (not my Timothy) watched his mother spread cold cream on her face. “Why do you do that, mommy?” he asked.
            “To make myself beautiful,” his mother replied. She then began removing the cream with a tissue.
            “What’s the matter?” asked the boy. “Giving up?”           

Thursday, February 9, 2012

You Think You Had A Bad Week

            On August 6, 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi traveled to Hiroshima, Japan for business trip. Sadly, this was the day that the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb and destroyed the city. Somehow, Yamaguchi survived the ordeal.
            He returned home and arrived two days later. The following day, August 9, another atomic bomb was unleashed on Yamaguchi's hometown, Nagasaki. Unbelievably, Yamaguchi lived through both tragedies; he was the only survivor of both of Japan's atomic bombings. (Two years ago, Yamaguchi passed away at the age of 93.)           
            I do not know where Yamaguchi received the fortitude to endure for 65 more years. I would think that after seeing two atomic bombs fall on two of your nation’s cities in the space of four days, it would be easy to become disillusioned with life.
            Surely, Yamaguchi’s suffering approached that of Job. Who knows? Perhaps Yamaguchi somehow came across a Bible and received the strength from the great book we call Job.
            If he read the book, one thing he would have found—the need for humility when facing a fallen world. Job spent most of the book thinking he had a case against God. Finally, when God came down for a visit, Job found himself intimidated. As bad as his life had become, as much as he had suffered, as much as he had thought he had known about the world, he realized he did not even have a level one awareness of how the universe is run.
            For some reason, Job found this message liberating.
            The next time we feel life is ripping us off and the cosmos is going against us, perhaps we too can find strength in a message from Job: God knows more about running this universe than we do.

Source for Yamaguchi account: World Magazine

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Seasoned with Salt

           When the great American composer, George Gershwin, passed away, a man who possessed more affection for Gershwin than he did musical ability decided to compose a musical elegy in Gershwin’s honor. Upon completion, he sought entertainer and composer Oscar Levant for an appraisal of his work.
            Eagerly, the neophyte played his piece for Levant, praying for Levant’s approval. He was disappointed.
            “I think it would have been better,” Levant told him, “if you had died and Gershwin had written the elegy.”
            I wonder if Paul had speech like this in mind when he wrote that Christians should fill their conversations with grace and “season them with salt.”

            Story source: Edmund Fuller

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Church Football

            The Super Bowl is over. I thought this would be fun to pass along. Someone sent it to me back in 1999.
Church  Football

Quarterback Sneak - Church members quietly leaving during the invitation. 

Draw Play - What many children do with the bulletin during worship. 

Halftime - The period between Sunday school and worship when many choose to leave. 

Benchwarmer - Those who do not sing, pray, work, or apparently do anything but sit. 

Backfield-in-Motion - Making a trip to the back (restroom or water fountain) during the service. 

Staying in the Pocket - What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord's work. 

Two-minute Warning - The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings. 

Instant Replay - The preacher loses his notes and falls back on last week's illustrations.

Sudden Death - What happens to the attention span of the congregation if the preacher goes "overtime.”

Trap - You're called on to pray and are asleep. 

End Run - Getting out of church quick, without speaking to any guest or fellow member.

Flex Defense - The ability to allow absolutely nothing said during the sermon to affect your life. 

Halfback Option - The decision of 50% of the congregation not to return for the evening service. 

Blitz - The rush for the restaurants following the closing prayer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Persecuting Teenage Christians

            I was sad to be reminded last week of the fact that there are still Christians in this world who are being severely persecuted for their faith.
            Susan Ithungu, a 15-year-old teenage girl in Uganda, recently left her Islamic faith to become a Christian.
            Her father responded in a savage way. He beat Susan and then locked her in a room for six months—barely giving her enough food and water to survive.
            Fortunately for Susan, neighbors alerted the local police who then arrested her father and freed Susan from her confinement. Shortly thereafter, authorities released Susan's father.
            You might say a prayer for Susan. I have a feeling she will be facing more trials and tribulations.