Welcome to the June 2005 Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
    You are welcome to use these writings or pass them on. All we ask is that in all things you remember the Author and give Him the glory, and remember this vessel which He has used to bring them to you. Peggy Hoppes


Topics

Fruit

Envy

Creation

Law

Holy Spirit

Communication

Witness

Piety


A WORD FOR TODAY


Scripture on this page taken from the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain.





A WORD FOR TODAY, June 2005







June 1, 2005

India  Dr. Charles McCoy had been a preacher for many years at a congregation in Oyster Bay, New York when he retired at 72. He spent most of his life pursuing an education, collecting seven college degrees over the years. In the end it all seemed futile to him. "I just lie on my bed thinking that my life's over, and I haven't really done anything yet. I've been pastor of this church for so many years, but nobody really wants me much and what have I done for Christ? I've spent an awful lot of time working for degrees, but I haven't won very many people to the Lord." I have learned over my lifetime that when we live for the Lord, He makes amazing things happen, many of which we never see. Yet, a life of faith is expected to bear the fruit of that faith.

While Dr. McCoy probably should not have felt that his life was futile, his concern led him to do become a missionary to India. He sold everything he had and went with nothing but a billfold, his Bible and his passport, all of which was stolen as soon as he arrived in Bombay. He made his way to the home of some missionaries who did not know what to do with him. After all, he was an old man. They took him in and after a day or so he announced that he was going to go to the mayor. The other missionaries told him it was fruitless; they'd tried many times and could not even get through the door. Dr. McCoy when and gave his card to the receptionist who told him to return later that day. When he arrived, he was welcomed with a grand reception. His multiple degrees, listed on his card, and his distinguished appearance gave them the impression that he was a powerful and important man. They thought he might even be from the President of the United States. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they listened politely. Though it seemed to have no impact on the gathered leaders, he was approached by a military leader who asked him to speak at his school. He eventually received many invitations to speak in many countries. He started churches in Calcutta and Hong Kong, and he traveled to Egypt and the Middle East. He served as an evangelist for sixteen years before he died.

As we look at his life we can see that God had a greater plan. He thought that his degrees were useless, futile, but they were the doorway to a great ministry in the East. The fruit of his parish ministry was not as visible as that from his later years, but there must have been fruit. A good tree can't bear bad fruit.

"By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:16-20 (ASV)

We worry a great deal about whether or not we are doing enough for God. We are often like Dr. McCoy, wondering about the purpose of our life. Have we done the work He has called us to do? Have we done enough? What more can we do? Did we make the right choices? Dr. McCoy was afraid in what he thought were the final moments of his life that he had wasted God's blessings. However, those were not wasted moments. For sixteen years after he retired, Dr. McCoy continued to serve the Lord. His fruit was more visible, but not more important. He bore good fruit his whole life because in Christ he was unable to bear anything but good fruit.

Do you feel like your life and ministry has been fruitless? Do you feel like you haven't accomplished what God has called you to do? Go forth in faith because in Christ you are bearing fruit you do not even know you are bearing. Perhaps one day you too will see the great work of God manifested in a way that touches many people. Perhaps you will not know the good works He has done through you until the day you meet Him face to face. Just remember, faith in Christ will bear good fruit for the sake of His Kingdom. He will make sure of it. Thanks be to God.

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June 2, 2005

Lottery  I watched a program the other night about the homes of people who had won the lottery. They showed us the life they used to live took us on tours of their old homes and then showed us the homes they bought with their winnings. Each of these families stepped up from humble abodes to grand mansions. In one case, the winner filled his home with ridiculously expensive items. One room seemed to be made from pure gold. He had chandeliers worth tens of thousands of dollars. In his bathroom, he had an ancient statue carved from wood that was worth more than a hundred thousand dollars. That was in his bathroom.

Two things happen when I watch shows like this one. First of all, I envy the families and their blessings. I don't blame them for buying houses and things that are bigger and more expensive than necessary. After all, I did the same thing. As soon as I was able to buy a house, I bought the house that was within my financial ability and I filled it with beautiful things. The cost of my home was just a fraction of those other homes, but it was as much as I could afford with the amount of money I had. As I look at my home, I realize that those lottery winners, before they won their jackpots, would probably have thought I was the rich fool.

The other thing I do when I see shows like this is I think about all the things I would do differently. don't think I would buy a thirty seven room house. As the winners described their experience, several of them talked about their initial purchases. They went out and bought the most expensive car, they quickly found the biggest house. They took their windfall and spent without thinking much about their past. Several of the families were down to their last dollars when they won. They were practically living out of their cars. Lottery winners often quit their jobs and take risks with their money.

I would like to think that if I won a large amount of money I would do something different with it. Of course, I would never purchase a hundred thousand dollar statue to put in my bathroom. I hope I would consider God first and find a way to thank Him for the blessing. I hope I would share some of my winnings with those I love. I hope I would purchase things because they are beautiful not for to impress others or make them envious. However, as I watch these shows, I can't help but envy what they have.

"For he shall see it. Wise men die; The fool and the brutish alike perish, And leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. But man being in honor abideth not: He is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: Yet after them men approve their sayings. Selah. They are appointed as a flock for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall be for Sheol to consume, that there be no habitation for it. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for he will receive me. Selah. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul (And men praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself,) He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see the light. Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish." Psalm 49 (ASV)

I automatically assume that those who willingly flaunt their wealth on a television show would ignore the needs of others while filling their lives with beautiful things. I think that I would do things different. This is a wrong attitude. What we don't know is what they don't tell us on the show. It was a short program, prepared by people with a specific purpose to make us envy the good things of another person. It is possible, even probable, that many of those winners found wonderful ways to share their wealth, perhaps with their church or another charity or with their family and friends.

The trouble is not that they have gotten this windfall or that they are using it to make their world more beautiful. The problem is in my attitude of envy. We are called to be thankful for what we have and I have so much for which I should be thankful. I might do things differently than those families on the show, but it doesn't matter, none of us will take it with us. What we take when we die is our relationship with Christ and the love we have received from Him. The final verse in today's passage tells us that it is not the wealth that is the problem, but the lack of understanding. When we know that our wealth is fleeting and perishable, that it will be passed on to another in the day of our death, we will live in that wealth with mercy and love. This is what matters. No matter what wealth we have no matter how many zeroes are in our net worth, those who live in the love of God will be blessed today and always. Thanks be to God.

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June 3, 2005

Lorikeets  We went to Sea World yesterday for a few hours. We enjoyed some of the shows and just walked around the park to see what was new this year. We saw the whale show, ate some lunch, fed the alligators and then fed the sea lions. Sea World also has an aviary, a habitat for a number of parrots from Australia called Lorikeets. There are about fifty of these bright colored birds that freely fly through a room with a pathway for human visitors. The purchase of a cup of nectar will grant entry into the aviary.

The kids wanted to feed the sea lions, but I just had to feed the birds. In both cases, the animals were excited about the food and came quickly to the people offering them something to eat. The kids said that it only took one fish into the pool and a whole group of sea lions flocked to the edge below where they stood. They felt so bad when they ran out of fish because the animals continued to bark for more. Eventually more people came with fish, so they moved on to the other guests. It was fun watching them splash and play in the water. Some of the other sea lions were sunning on the rocks, and they were so content.

I took my cup of nectar and waited patiently at the door. The caretaker had to let me into the habitat so that none of the birds would escape. He explained how to hold the cup and gave a few tips to help me with the birds, and then let me in. One of his tips was that I should go directly into the center of the habitat because the birds tend to flock close to the door. I noticed that the birds were rather excited, hanging close to the gate waiting for the treat they knew was coming. When he opened the door, I walked quickly to the center, but it did not take long before the birds were all over me. I had one on my shoulder, a few others on my arm. They were fighting for their turn at the treat I held. One bird, either very patient or not quite hungry, sat on my chest and looked me in the eye. I wasn't so sure about this particular bird I was a bit concerned that he would try to nip me with his beak. He didn't. He just sat there for a few minutes and then flew away.

When I was near the exit, two birds landed on my arm. They were twins and rather young, but definitely getting used to living in this exhibit. I was nearly out of nectar, but that did not stop them from trying to eat. One bird tried to steal the cup from out of my hand and the other nipped me on the finger with his beak. The caretaker suggested that I drop the cup this would help the birds know it was empty so that they could move on to the next guest.

The people at Sea World have a great responsibility. They are granted the privilege to care for those beautiful animals, but that means ensuring their health and their safety. It might seem somewhat cruel to keep those birds in cages or those sea lions in the pool, but they are truly loved. Though it is possible to feed the animals, the amount of food is limited so that they will not be over fed. There are always caretakers near by to ensure that the human visitors do not do anything to harm the animals. Every detail of their daily life is planned an executed to the benefit of the animals. And because they are willing to do this, we have the opportunity to see and learn about animals we might never see. Education helps us to live a little more thoughtfully in this world so that we will do what is necessary to take care of God's good creation.

"And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." Genesis 1:27-31 (ASV)

I don't think that God is walking around the earth as if it is a Sea World exhibit, watching human activity like the guests at the park. However, I do think God enjoys us in our habitat, laughing with us as we play like the sea lions and giggling in surprise when we, like the birds, sneak up on Him from behind seeking the sweet nectar of His love. He has created us to be like Him, co-creators called and gifted to take care of His good creation. It is indeed good. Every creature has been given a unique purpose in this world. The more we learn about God's creation, the more we can take care of it. It is a great responsibility, but such a joy. Thanks be to God.

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June 6, 2005

Chauffeur  I heard a news story the other day about a chauffeur that refused to take a group of high school students to the prom. These students, and their parents, signed a release stating the rules for the evening. The limousine company had a clearly written policy that did not allow alcohol or drugs and it banned a number of wild behaviors in the car. The policy was designed to protect the limousine company and the driver who could be arrested if the under age students in his car was found to be intoxicated.

This particular group of kids signed the agreement, as did their parents, but they did not abide by the rule. The kids tried hiding the alcohol at first, but they were obviously getting out of control. Then the chauffeur saw two bottles of alcohol and heard one of them ask "Is anyone in this limo sober?" The chauffeur confiscated the bottles, turned the car around and took them home. He refused to take them to the prom. Most of the parents were upset by his action, incredulous that he would ruin their children's special night. Things got out of control, the parents threatened the driver and a boy broke the gas cap of the car. One parent stood in front of the car, refusing to move until the driver fulfilled his contracted time. He was only able to leave when he dialed the police to report the incident.

The group of students got to go to the prom, their parents drove them to the prom. If the school officials had known what had happened, they would have refused to allow the students into the dance. These kids broke every rule and did not deserve the pleasure of their prom. Still, I'm expecting to hear about the lawsuits that will be filed, despite their signature on the contract agreeing to the rule. The driver did what was right because the kids were not obeying the rules. They broke the covenant and the privilege of riding in the limousine was taken from them.

"The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, Stand in the gate of Jehovah's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of Jehovah, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute justice between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your own hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, from of old even for evermore. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods that ye have not known, and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that ye may do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it, saith Jehovah." Jeremiah 7:1-11 (ASV)

It is easy to blame the limo driver for ruining the kids' prom night, but the reality is that they ruined it for themselves. The high school officials and one set of parents fully support the efforts of the driver. They were thankful that there was someone who would do what was right for the sake of the kids. Kowtowing to the desires of children will not help them to lead a good and prosperous life. They will eventually learn that there are consequences to behavior, and it may be too late.

Jeremiah 7:19 says, "'But am I the one they are provoking?' declares the LORD. 'Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?'" It is impossible to love God and to do whatever we want. Though the LORD is forgiving and merciful, we simply can not expect to embrace the world and still live under the cover of God's love. His blessings are like an umbrella, covering us from the evil that exists in the world, but when we step out from under that umbrella we can't be guaranteed that we will still be blessed.

The people of Israel were trying to have it both ways. They wanted to enjoy the benefits of a false religion while still counting on God's protection for the nation. Yet, could they really be safe when following after false gods, behaving against the expectation of God? Just like the rules in the limo were designed to guard and protect all those involved, so too God's laws are designed to keep the people safe. When they willingly went out to steal, kill, commit adultery, like and worship other gods, God's mercy could not protect them from the consequences. The same is true for all of us. God's grace is greater than our sin, His forgiveness is limitless. However, when we step out from under the umbrella of His protection, He can't guarantee we will receive the blessings of His love.

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June 7, 2005

Electricity  We take so many things for granted, like electricity. As I look around our house, I see we have hundreds of plugs, more than enough for all the electronic equipment and appliances that make our lives comfortable and convenient. We don't even think twice about plugging something in it is easy to do so because the plugs and sockets are designed to be easy.

It was not always that way. In the early days of harnessed electricity, appliances needed to be directly connected to the wires in the wall there were no easy plugs for the average homeowner to use. These were developed and patented in the early 20th century by Harvey Hubbell and then standardized in the U.S. a few years later. Unfortunately, it is not so easy when we leave the shores of America to visit other countries. They have developed different types of plugs; there are thirteen different configurations around the world. So, if you decide to go to Europe or Asia, Africa or Australia, do not bother taking your small appliances. A curling iron will not work because there is no way to plug it in. Of course, this is actually a safety issue also, since many foreign countries use a different voltage and frequency in their electricity. Plugging an American hairdryer into a European socket could cause a fire if it were possible to plug it in.

The book of acts tells us the story of the early church, their missions and their difficulty. We meet the apostles and see how they learned what it meant to continue the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Things were not perfect in those early days. Many people did not fully understand the message, they tried to spread the Gospel that they did not fully know. Others tried to take advantage of the possibilities, using Jesus' name in vain. Yet others wanted to control the effort, to ensure it was done in their way. God had His hand in it all and the Gospel message was shared while the church grew in number and in strength. It is fascinating to read the stories of those early days to see how much we are still like them.

"And when they had gone through the whole island unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus; who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding. The same called unto him Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fastened his eyes on him, and said, O full of all guile and all villany, thou son of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord." Acts 13:6-12 (ASV)

Paul was an interesting character, often seen as being arrogant and haughty. In this story with the Jewish sorcerer, he was downright rude. Can you imagine how he would be received today, calling someone in the government a son of the devil? Certainly, causing someone to go blind is not a merciful and tolerant thing to do. We expect religious people to be compassionate and loving, particularly those filled with the love of Christ. Yet, as we read this story, Paul was not in control. He was plugged into a greater power the power of God. It was God's hand that brought blindness to the sorcerer that was trying to use His power against Christ. The proconsul, seeing the miraculous feat, came to believe in Jesus Christ.

What we don't see in this passage is the rest of the story. What happened to the sorcerer? Did he stay blind forever? The same thing happened to Paul when he did not believe in Jesus. He was struck blind until he was healed by the power of God through Ananias. Perhaps the same thing happened to Bar-jesus, so that through blindness and healing he too came to know the truth about Jesus Christ and become a son of God through faith in Him.

Now, this story does not tell us we should be walking around calling people the son of the devil and calling down God's power to blind them so that they might see the truth. In this story we see that it isn't Paul doing the work, but that God's hand was with Him. God was in control, He spoke through Paul into the life of the sorcerer. It was His power His hand that brought blindness upon the man so that others might see the miraculous work of God in this world and believe. We have to be plugged in to the Holy Spirit, or else we are like a hairdryer without the proper socket in which to be plugged, trying to do something without the power. When we do it on our own, we are like Elymas the sorcerer, false prophets, when we speak for ourselves rather than giving way for God's word and His power to speak through our lives. But when God's hand is on our lives, we can share the Gospel message in a way that will bring faith into the hearts of even the most ardent unbelievers. Thanks be to God.

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June 8, 2005

Camp  Zack is at Boy Scout camp this week. This is the first time he has been away from home for such a long period of time. In the past, his overnight activities have been for just a night or two. Now Zack is twelve years old and can be somewhat frustrating and annoying at times. Ask Vicki and she will tell you how much her little brother can get under her skin every day. Yet, I can't help but miss his presence in this house. There are several times I wish he were around to help with the chores or just give me one of his precious smiles.

Though he is gone, it sometimes feels like he's around. I caught myself before I called him to dinner last night. I've looked in his room or in the game room, thinking he was there quietly playing his gameboy or watching TV. I've looked into the rearview mirror of the car, expecting to see him sitting in his seat. I miss him, but I am anticipating the day when he comes home again. Hopefully he will be able to call tonight, to let us know how he is doing.

It is not like we do not know how to deal with separation. After all, Bruce is in the military and often has had to leave for days, weeks or months at a time. You learn to cope and you learn to creatively communicate. Of course, over the years things have gotten easier. During the first Gulf War, I only had occasional phone calls and letters. We kept in touch as much as possible, but it was expensive and difficult to make the calls and mail was often held up by security and logistics problems. Things have gotten much better over the years. With email, we can be in touch daily and the military has arranged to make instant messaging available for those who are deployed. With cell phones and cheaper phone rates, communication is easier than it ever was.

As we look at the communication over the ages, we see that we have it very easy compared to what it was a few years ago. Even then it was better than when it was during the World Wars. Mail to the original colonists took months, even years, to make it from the old world to the new. Imagine what it must have been like for those early Christians two thousand years ago. For us, the cost was overwhelming for a phone call, but for the apostles the cost of even a piece of paper would have been considerable not paper, but vellum or papyrus. Then the letter would have been carried by hand to the recipients. If there was a problem, Paul could not call the church to find out was going on. He could only write and hope that his words would make a difference. Yet, in his words and by the Spirit, it was almost as if he were present with them.

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church; whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you-ward, to fulfil the word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ; whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ." Colossians 1:24-2:5 (ASV)

Zack will be home in just a few days and we will survive his absence. I expect it will not take very long before he's being an annoying little brother to his sister and settling in front of the television or his gameboy for too many hours a day. It will be nice to have him home again. I'm sure he'll be happy to sleep in a warm comfortable bed and eat mom's home cooking.

Paul helped organize a number of Christian churches but could not stay with them at all times. It became necessary for him to communicate through letters to help them deal with their difficulties. It was early in Christianity, they were just trying to figure out what it meant to be a Christian and how to live according to the Way. They didn't have a Bible as we have; they had only the witnesses of the apostles and early followers. Paul's letters were even written before the Gospels were put to paper. It must have been very hard to have such an important leader far from them in times of trouble. Even still, Paul was with them in Spirit, through the Spirit of God. This is what holds us together today. Just as our family is still a family even while one of us is far away, so too, the church of Jesus Christ is bound together by something greater than time and space. Paul's words are as real for us today, even though Paul is long dead, because we are together in spirit. Thanks be to God.

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June 9, 2005

Word of mouth  Advertisers rely on word of mouth as one of their best forms of advertising. There is good reason for this fact. People do not necessarily believe the claims of a product even when they are supported by plenty of evidence obtained through testing and researchers. Consumers want to hear the testimonial, especially from people they know and they trust. They are more likely to believe someone who says, "I tried it and I liked it" than if the research proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the best product ever produced.

One of the things celebrity endorsers are often asked when being interviewed is whether or not they really use the product they are advertising. Some people refuse to tout a product they don't believe in, others are willing to sell their name for anything. However, the people that really believe in the product are the ones who are more likely to make the sale. They have a passion for it, can speak with honesty and integrity. The ones who are unconvincing in the commercials are most likely the ones who have never used it. Advertising is much more believable when the speaker tells what the product has done for them rather than what the product can do to others.

Evangelism is the same way, which is why testimonials work so well when sharing the good news of Christ. A person trapped in the web of guilt and sin is more likely to listen to someone who was in the same position. This is why the former alcoholic can reach the alcoholic much better than someone who never liked to drink. The sin and guilt is often so entrenched that the sinner who needs to hear Christ's message of love and forgiveness can't hear it from someone they don't think is a sinner. They think it was easy for Christ to save the goody-two-shoes, but impossible to save them. So, rather than evangelizing by telling unbelievers what Christ can do for them, we need to sing our own praises of the things He has done for us. We need to proclaim that we are also sinners in need of the Savior and praise Him for His grace. Then they might listen and believe that He could transform them too.

"Oh sing unto Jehovah a new song: Sing unto Jehovah, all the earth. Sing unto Jehovah, bless his name; Show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvellous works among all the peoples. For great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols; But Jehovah made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him: Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe unto Jehovah, ye kindreds of the peoples, Ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength. Ascribe unto Jehovah the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come into his courts. Oh worship Jehovah in holy array: Tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth: The world also is established that it cannot be moved: He will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; Let the field exult, and all that is therein; Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before Jehovah; for he cometh, For he cometh to judge the earth: He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with his truth." Psalm 96 (ASV)

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we lived daily in the praise and thanksgiving of God's grace we feel and let it shine into our everyday encounters? Oh perhaps some people would think we were nuts and others will persecute us for our foolishness. However, many people those open to the Gospel message will see our joy and want to know from whence it came. Evangelism, witnessing the grace of God to the world, does not come simply by telling others their need for a Savior, but rather it comes from telling the world what that Savior has done for us. Our testimonial will help others to realize their own need and then they can look to the one that meets all our needs Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God.

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June 10, 2005

Spurs  We live near San Antonio, Texas, the home of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. Anyone who follows the sport will know that the Spurs have made it to the finals against the Detroit Pistons. Spurs mania is everywhere. Last week booths started popping up all over the city as entrepreneurs try to take advantage of the passion the locals have for their heroes. Cars, houses and people are decorated with all sorts of paraphernalia, flags, posters, t-shirts and every sort of accessory you can imagine. The news stations have special programs to discuss the team and the games.

Last night was the first game of the final. While I am not a sports fan, it is hard to miss the news stories relating to this exciting event. Last night things began slowly for the Spurs, the team was well rested perhaps too well rested. They were somewhat rusty after waiting so many days between their last game and this one. Eventually they got their groove and were able to pull out the win. In the after game interviews, much of the credit was given to Manu Ginobili. Tim Duncan is quoted as saying, "{Manu was} Unbelievable. He was great. We got a little stagnant there because he was amazing. We just stood around and kind of looked at him and he made big shots, he got on the roll there, I think early on, I think everybody had a little bit of jitters in them, a little bit of that break in them and we had to kind of get through that."

One of the things that makes the Spurs fans so loyal is because the players are respected on and off the basketball court. They live well and do not get into trouble like many other professional sports figures. Some past Spurs players are even known for great philanthropy and devotion to their Christian faith. They have been known to hold Bible studies before practices and games and most live rather normal lives. They are men that the kids of this town can look up to and they are even more likeable as basketball players. It is no wonder that so many people of this town are fans.

In Paul's first letter to Timothy, we hear about the expectations of the leaders of the church. Though this is not specifically a list of rules, it is a list of ways which the leaders can show the people what it means to be a Christian. Paul writes, "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task." It is a great privilege to lead God's people. It is also a great responsibility. The leader should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit and act as Jesus Christ because they are now living examples of the life Christ calls all believers to live.

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory." 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (ASV)

I've heard professional basketball players from other teams talk about how they didn't ask to be held up on a pedestal, they didn't want to be role models for kids. They only wanted to play basketball, so if the children get the wrong idea from them, it is not their fault. However, any person who is in a place of authority or in the public spotlight will automatically become role models for the people who watch them.

The same has been said by Christian leaders, yet they have no excuse. Paul's letter to Timothy is addressed to all those who choose to be in leadership this is what is expected of those who claim to be guardian's of Christ's church. The advantage we have, compared to those professional basketball players, is that our goodness or godliness does not come by our own strength or ability. The mystery of piety is revealed in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His life is the source of piety, godliness. As we live in faith by grace, He grants us the fruit of His Spirit and manifests His life through ours. Thanks be to God.

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