Welcome to the May 2001 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.
When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves. Where scripture is quoted, I used the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain.
A WORD FOR TODAY, May 2001
May 1, 2001
Tourist We took advantage of our years living in England. We did as many of the tourist sites as we could, taking every opportunity to visit the castles, cathedrals and other historic places. It was fun and educational to see the ancient homes of kings and to pray in the thousand year old churches. It was also expensive at times. We had to take into consideration the gas prices, entry fees, food and souvenir prices. We joined several organizations that provided reduced or free entry into the places we wanted to visit. On those days when our finances were tight, we chose local sites to visit, packed picnic lunches and went to places with free entry. We did manage a few extraordinary vacations, however. We spent time in Paris, Cornwall, Scotland and Austria. Those trips were wonderful; times we will never forget.
Those trips don’t even compare to the vacation of a man named Dennis Tito. He spent $20,000,000 on his latest adventure – a trip into space. He is spending six days in the International Space Station, much to the annoyance of the authorities at NATO. It is their opinion that an untrained person on the space station poses a threat to the safety of the people as well as equipment on board. Mr. Tito had enough money to purchase what he wanted, so he did. He does not expect to travel into space again for some time, but he has decided to do all he can to help others achieve their goals. He is encouraging others with the finances to buy a trip into space. There are some things that money just cannot buy.
Read Revelation 5:6-10
We had some wonderful trips during our stay in England. They do not compare to the extraordinary adventure that Dennis Tito is taking this week. Yet, some of our fondest memories were from the days we spent worshipping in the local village churches or wandering through the gardens of a country estate. We can buy good times and extraordinary vacations, but only God could purchase our freedom from sin and death. It was by the blood of Christ, the sacrificial Lamb, that we can have the real adventure, living a life of faith in the Kingdom of God.
Suffering When we read the scriptures and think about the suffering and persecution of the early Christians, we can’t even imagine living under such conditions. Though our Christian lifestyle is not always accepted by our society today, we do not face the fear of death for our faith. Yet, around the world there are more Christians around the world dying for their faith than for any other religion. One place where this is especially true is in the Sudan.
There has been drought, famine and civil war for several years, causing large numbers of people to suffer at the hands of nature and man. The Islamic government troops are invading villages throughout Sudan. The motivation is racial and religious hatred. These troops are murdering the people, raping the women, and putting those who survive into slavery. Those who are in slavery are being starved to death with food that is not fit for human consumption. This is part of an Islamic jihad, a holy war, to expand the territory of the Islamic faith. Some Christians have even been crucified. The horrors in Sudan are beyond our comprehension, but we cannot ignore the truth of this world. We risk even our very lives to follow our Lord Jesus Christ because the world rejects His message and His salvation.
Read Psalm 14
Though Christians in America or other western nations do not suffer the persecution of the early Christians, we need to know that there are Christians who do. We need to stand with them in prayer and do everything within our power to help these people to be freed from the slavery, poverty and death.
A schoolteacher in Aurora, Colorado read a newspaper article to her children about the problems in Sudan. Her children wept over their plight and took measures to help those who were suffering. They collected together funds – from their allowances, fund-raisers, yard sales. They held a letter writing campaign to government leaders and celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. These children collected $50,000 in 17 months to free 1000 slaves.
Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His very life for our freedom from sin. We know that we will face persecution because of our faith. Though we may not personally be able to save the world, we must stand firm in our faith and walk boldly in the truth of Christ. The Lord God Almighty is your refuge, no matter what the world says or does against you. What are you going to do today?
Philip The biblical definition of a saint is “one separated from the world and consecrated to God; one holy by profession and by covenant; a believer in Christ.” Those who live in Christ are saints because His new covenant and good work on the cross made us part of the Kingdom of God. We are saints because we believe in Jesus Christ. Throughout history the church has recognized men and women of faith whose lives have been exemplary examples of commitment to Christ. The church has a calendar of feast days in remembrance of those men and women who have died in Christ.
These men and women were not perfect. If we look at the lives of the Apostles as found in the Gospels, we see that they are a motley crew. They were filled with pride, doubt, fear, hopelessness, confusion, hate and denial. Yet, the continued to follow Jesus and were obedient to His Word. Today is the feast day in remembrance of Philip the Apostle. Philip had the gift of asking the stupid question. In the story when Jesus fed the five thousand Philip asked, “How are we to buy the bread so that the people may eat.” Jesus already knew where they would get the bread, but He was testing Philip’s faith. In another story, Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied.” We look at Philip and we wonder about his faith. Yet Philip was simply vocalizing the things that the other disciples were questioning in their heads. Philip’s faith was indeed great, as we see in this story from John.
Read John 1:43-45
Philip did not need to be convinced to follow Jesus. He simply said, “follow me.” Philip not only followed, but he went immediately to find Nathanael and told him the good news. Philip was the first evangelist. When Nathanael questioned the possibility of the Messiah coming from Nazareth, Philip didn’t argue, he just took Nathanael to see for himself.
Philip didn’t worry about what other people thought of him. He spoke out, sharing the good news and asking the questions we all have. He is remembered because he served the Lord in his weakness, his foolishness. His questions are recorded in the Gospels so that we will not be afraid to ask when we have doubts and fears. Philip did not always understand how Jesus was going to accomplish the work, but he did not question Jesus’ request to follow Him. He not only followed, but he shared the good news. Do you follow Jesus and share His message no matter what? We all face the same doubts, from within ourselves and from the world. Just walk in faith, like Philip. Thanks be to God.
Toads The nearby town of Conway, Arkansas is celebrating their annual festival this weekend. It is called “Toad Suck Daze.” This strangely named festival is a weekend of fun, music, and community spirit. They have toad races and other contests, concerts by local bands as well as internationally known recording stars. There is an emphasis on children with activities to keep them busy as well as opportunities for local high school students to receive scholarships to attend the local university. It is a fun time for all and the benefits for citizens and community are extensive.
Where did they come up with such an unusual name for their festival? The legend goes back into the steamboat days. Toad Suck Lock and Dam was located near Conway. As the steamboat crews moved along the Arkansas River, they often had to stop to wait for the channel to fill. They spent their time at a tavern, drank and carried on so much that the locals would say, “They suck on the bottle ‘til they swell up like toads.”
Of course, today Faulkner county Arkansas is alcohol-free, the tavern has long disappeared and the steamboats no longer move along the river. Today, the people of Conway, Arkansas continues to carry on in the streets of the town, but the fun is much different. They share community spirit with good, clean activities that will please the whole family.
In the steamboat days, the local community received some benefit from the time the crews spent in their town. The crew spent money on drink and food, which provided the residents with income to live. However, the residents had to put up with brawling and drunkenness. Today, the festival of Toad Suck Daze profits the town in many ways, not just financially. The old times are remembered, but done in a whole new way.
Read Matthew 9:14-17
Toad Suck Daze are wonderful, but if alcohol were a part of the celebration, many of the good things would be ruined by the foolishness of drunkenness. The Old Testament ways had some benefit to those who lived in accordance with those laws. The Pharisees lived according to a set of rules that served a purpose to their physical well being. However, Jesus Christ came in flesh to teach us a new way of life. He warned that if they continued to live according to the laws of the old way then both the old and new will be ruined. Today, we need to remember that Jesus gave us a new covenant and that we need to live according to that grace rather than according to the rules established by man. Thanks be to God.
Exclusive There lived a family of ducks on a lovely little lake. One day, the mother found a lonely duckling. His mother had died, leaving it to fend for itself. This duckling did not look like her children, but she welcomed him into her family to care for it. Unfortunately, since this duckling did not look like her children, they excluded him from their games. They teased him because he was ugly and bigger than they were. As they grew, the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan. The brother they excluded was an incredible gift from God.
The Jewish community of Jesus’ time had strict rules about their socialization. They could not eat with people who were not circumcised. In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, as the apostles were beginning to teach and preach the Good News to the world, they continued to live according to the rules of their community. Peter refused to fellowship with those who were not circumcised.
One day, a gentile from Caesarea named Cornelius saw an angel of God. Cornelius was a devote and God-fearing man, giving generously to the poor and praying regularly to God. The angel of God told Cornelius to send for Peter who was in Joppa at the time. Cornelius obeyed this word and sent two servants and a soldier to bring Peter to his home.
Meanwhile, Peter had a vision. As the three men from Caesarea approached, Peter was on his roof praying. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Peter was upset by this command, because the food before him was unclean according to the law of the Jews. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This vision happened repeatedly, to ensure Peter that what he heard was the truth of God. When the vision ended, the men from Caesarea asked Peter to go with them.
Peter did not hesitate to visit the home of Cornelius. Peter told Cornelius it was against his law for him to be there, but asked why he had been called. Cornelius shared the story of the angel and Peter understood that the vision was not only about food but also about people. So, Peter stayed with Cornelius and shared the Good News with his whole household. They believed and the Holy Spirit came upon them. The circumcised Jews who had come with Peter were amazed that God would pour out His Spirit on gentiles, but they heard them praising God in other tongues.
When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him for preaching to the gentiles. Peter explained the vision and the visit to Cornelius.
Read Acts 11:15-18
So many churches today are more like exclusive social clubs that houses of worship to God. When strangers enter your church, do they feel welcome or are they faced with people who have set themselves apart based on some experience with God that others have not shared? At times we look at others as ‘unclean’ because they do not fit into the mold we have created. Even within our congregations, people are rejected for certain tasks because they are not the right age or gender. We set aside those who do not have the right education or position in society. We reject people for our own biases. But, God shows no favouritism. He brings life to whomever He desires. He grants gifts to His children based on His Will and for no other reason. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Thanks be to God.
Today’s story about Peter and Cornelius can be found in Acts 10:1-11:18.
Prom Last night was prom night for many schools around the country. The prom is a celebration of the end of the school year, a time for them to act all grown up. They rent or buy fancy clothes, go out to eat at expensive restaurants, hire limousines and hotel rooms. For many young people, it is a night when they drink too much or share in an intimacy with their date that goes beyond appropriateness for their situation. They think these actions make them adult.
The prom is always such a special time. It almost has a magic feeling to it. The girls feel like princesses and the boys are like their knights in shining armour. This fairy tale atmosphere continues as the young people vote to choose a prom king and queen. For one night, a lucky young lady is chosen to be a queen, to wear a crown and have the spotlight shine on her. The girl and her date dance a special dance and the couple is remembered for eternity in their yearbook as some thing special.
Unfortunately, the fairy tale atmosphere of prom night does not always last. Too many young people get into trouble because of the alcohol and the late nights. They think they can handle the adult activities they long to enjoy, and yet they find that the alcohol and sex can be dangerous. Drunk driving causes deadly accidents and private hotel rooms are the scenes of date rape. Some schools are trying to overcome these problems by offering all night lock-ins and designated driver programmes.
The magic of prom night is not real life. It is a beautiful, wonderful time for the young people but it does not mean they have become adults. They show themselves to be immature because they drink alcohol and become intimate with their dates without being responsible for their actions. Even the prom queen, at times, takes the title of queen and thinks that she should be treated differently for eternity.
There are many Christians who are immature in their faith. They know the saving forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as they live and learn about His life in them they think of themselves more highly than they ought. There are people who preach and teach a gospel that makes them equal with Christ. They believe that they have already reached the level of perfection that we will have when we live in eternity. They think they are sinless and know all that needs to be known about God and His kingdom. They take this knowledge and become very irresponsible with their actions.
Read Psalm 24
The young people at the prom are not yet grown up no matter what actions they take on that special night. But these young people can act responsibly and have a night when they enjoy each other and celebrate their school years. Human beings never reach the point of perfection that we can approach the throne of grace on our own. However, there is one who can, our Lord Jesus Christ. He can ascend the hill, receive the blessing and vindication. As His followers, believers in His name, we can go with Him before the throne. He clothes us in His righteousness, and in His life we are all grown up. Thanks be to God.
Agenda Robert’s Rules of Order was first published in 1876 and has been adopted by many organizations to promote orderly discourse and debate. At times, discussions become confusing and unruly because people do not have the same understanding of the procedures. This publication establishes definitions for the terminology and helps with the flow of discussion by making the understanding equal for all. Each member knows the meaning and process for a meeting, and if they follow the rules, the meeting goes smoothly.
It helps to have a pre-established agenda when conducting any sort of meeting. If the members have a guideline, they know when they can bring up certain business or add their own input. We have all attended committee meetings that are an unorganized mess, with people bringing up topics that are out of order and going back to topics repeatedly after the subject has been decided. These meetings last forever and accomplish very little. When the organization follows the agenda and an established set of rules, their meeting flows smoothly and the work is accomplished.
Another definition for the word agenda is ‘an underlying often ideological plan or program’. Politicians have an agenda, to accomplish things for their constituents. Churches have agendas, to do the Lord’s work in their communities. People have agendas, which can be seen in their walk and their talk. Unfortunately, some people revolve their entire life around their agenda. They choose their friends based on their ideas. They commit to activities and organizations that will carry out their agenda. There are even people whose use their prayers to proclaim their agenda.
Read Luke 18:9-14
Henry Robert gave us rules for keeping a meeting orderly. Jesus gave us rules the help us to keep our prayer lives in order. In Matthew 6:9-13 He tells us to worship God, ask for His will to be done, to ask for our daily needs, to ask for forgiveness, to give forgiveness and to ask that we be protected spiritually from all harm.
So often, however, our prayers are filled with statements that make known our goodness to people listening. The Pharisee in today’s reading spoke loudly so that the sinner in his presence would know his good works. I have heard people pray by talking to a congregation giving their opinions on matters of politics, religion and society. We should never pray with our own agenda, but with Christ’s. Rather, pray like the sinner in today’s lesson – humbly standing before God and ask for His mercy. He will grant you all you need. Thanks be to God.
Night Vision Modern technology has made it possible to see and do things in the black of night that were never possible before. We have seen video clips from shows like “Cops” that show the capabilities of such advancements as night vision goggles. I always wondered how they work. I thought that they provided their own source of light, however the user would then be visible to others. So the question remains, ‘How do night vision goggles work?
I had the opportunity to experience these modern marvels for myself, to see how they work. The tour took us in to a room with green lights. When everyone was inside the door was closed and we were handed the goggles. We were warned not to turn them on until the lights were out. Then the lights were turned off. As we stood in total darkness we were told to turn on the goggles. We looked through the viewer and there was a greenish light that made it possible to see the scene in front of us.
The room we were in was set up with a landscape that had different terrain such as desert, mountain and forest. Pilots are brought into this room and shown the different effects of light can have on the glasses. There are different faint lights set up, to represent the stars and moon at different places in the sky. They can recreate a night with full moon in the south with light cloud cover or any other sort of weather conditions. This helps the pilot learn how to plan their flights, according to the best use of the light available with their night vision goggles.
Night vision goggles take advantage of the existing light in the air. We stand in total darkness and think there is no light, yet there is always some light. The goggles magnify the tiny specks of invisible light so that the user can see what lies ahead. The picture in the viewer appears somewhat snowy, the light appearing like speckles in the air. The interesting thing is that the more light is available, the more distorted the picture is.
As the guide was showing us these different lighting affects, I took off the glasses, certain that the lights they were using must give enough light on the landscape to see something. However, the darkness was overwhelming, even when the light in the goggles was overwhelming. It amazed me how much light was in that darkness. However, it was necessary to keep the goggles on to see that light.
Read 1 John 2:7-11
The only way a pilot can do his job at night is to wear those goggles. He must keep focused on the light available to see his way. As Christians, we live in a world filled with darkness, but we can walk in this world because we see the light that exists in the midst of it. We see that light through the grace our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because He is that light. When we walk in love, we walk in that light. Love does not mean that we should tolerate the darkness. When we love we share the truth of God’s Word with our brother to help them see the light. Thanks be to God.
Space Shuttle Yesterday was an exciting time at Little Rock Air Force Base. We had visits from several unusual aircraft. The flightline that normally holds only C-130’s had a wide variety of airplanes visiting for the day. The best surprise of the day was when we learned that the Space Shuttle would make a short stop at our base.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour took off from Kennedy Space Center and spent time twelve days in space. It was scheduled to land in Florida, but due to poor weather conditions, the landing was moved to Edwards Air Force Base in California. The shuttle then needed to be moved from California back to Florida for maintenance and preparation for its next trip. Though the Space Shuttle looks similar to and lands like a regular airplane, it does not fly the same. To move it from one place to another, it must be carried piggyback on a 747. It is an awesome sight to see, these two mighty machines attached as they fly through the air. The shuttle is dependent on the crew and the strength of the 747. During an interview, one of the pilots said, “It rattles a bit, and if it fell off we would know.” He said this in jest, but they are always aware of their precious cargo and take great care to protect it from harm.
The Space Shuttle on the back of a 747 is an awesome sight, but even more awesome is seeing a faithful Christian riding on the back of his or her Lord and Saviour.
Read Isaiah 63:7-9
The pilots who carry the Space Shuttle home to Florida do all they can to get it there safely. Our Lord God Almighty is our Saviour and He does great and wonderful things for us as He leads us home to be with Him. He is compassionate and kind, merciful and just. He cares about our cares and carries us through our trials. He loves us and by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and for His sake, He has redeemed us from our sin. Thanks be to God.
Email I got an email chain letter today. The letter asked me to forward this to all my friends, including the person who sent it to me. I normally don’t send these emails, but this one was sweet so I tried to send it back to my friend. I received a message asking to refrain from mailing chain letters, that it was against the terms of service for my Internet provider. These chain letters cause traffic jams on the information super highway. Every byte of information takes up valuable computer space.
There has been an epidemic of computer viruses in the past few weeks. There was a virtual war between hackers in China and hackers in the United States. These viruses have caused problems on major networks, even with excellent security features. One of the characteristics of these viruses is to automatically open the receiver’s address book and forward the mail on to those people. This creates a snowball affect, first affecting one person, but then affecting all their friends, and all their friends’ friends, and all their friends’ friends’ friends. Just like the email chain letters, these computer viruses fill the computers with superfluous emails and tie up the networks.
It is amazing how quickly these things can grow. One email can become thousands in just hours as the people sending it multiplies. The same can be said of sin. For example, a little white lie can grow into a series of deeper lies and other sins. One angry word can lead to an argument and even physical violence. One moment of lust in our hearts can lead to adultery and even divorce.
Read Proverbs 4:20-27
Jesus told us to avoid the things that would lead to greater sin. He said that it wasn’t enough to not murder, He told us to not be angry. One small sin can lead us down the wrong road, and cause us to be unable to do our work as a servant of God. Solomon writes here in the Proverbs that we should guard our heart. When we allow things like lust, anger and dishonesty to affect our lives, sin creeps into our heart and builds. Thanks to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are forgiven for our failure, but we must guard every thought, word and deed and fix our eyes on our Saviour. In this way, we stay on track and can do His work. Thanks be to God.
Appreciation Throughout the year, we have days set aside to give special thanks to the people in our lives. There is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day, and hair stylist who fixed my disastrous haircut day. It seems there is a special day for everyone. Today is “Military Spouse Appreciation Day.”
Military spouses have a difficult job. Military members have a twenty four hour a day, seven day a week job. They can be called to the four corners of the world with little or no notice. Their job is often dangerous and exhausting. The military spouse stays behind to keep the home fires burning. They deal with the needs and problems in the household. They care for the children, at times acting as Mom and Dad. Since military families rarely live close to their hometowns, they do all this without help from grandparents. The spouse, who is not necessarily ‘a wife’ anymore, provides emotional and spiritual support. They need to be strong, organized, dedicated, independent, flexible and supportive. Since military families are transient, they need to be willing to move often – giving up jobs, friends and houses they have worked hard to make their own for such a brief moment in time.
The most difficult part of being a military spouse is living so far from people you love. Paul was a missionary who spent much of his time traveling from one church to another, teaching the new Christians to walk the life they’ve been called to live. They, in turn, provided Paul with encouragement to continue with his ministry. They all missed having him in their presence, teaching the truth of God’s kingdom.
Read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Paul understood the importance of being thankful for those who supported him. He sent greetings to the churches so that they would know how much he cared for them. Today, we are thankful to God for those who provide the physical, emotional and spiritual support for those who have committed their lives to protect the freedoms of our nation. We pray that God will continue to provide these women and me with every good and perfect gift, so that they can stand firm in the Lord and provide for the needs of their spouse. Thanks be to God.
Dirt It is so much fun to watch young children play in the dirt. They dig with a shovel often sending dirt flying into the air and all over their body. They use their hands to grab big handfuls of dirt, which they then put on their heads and in their mouths. I recall a time when Zachary’s face was covered with dirt. It looked like he had been eating Oreo cookies but he had actually had a meal of the dirt from some plant on our patio. The only way to clean someone so messy is to turn the hose on and squirt!
As a young mother, such an experience would have upset me. A child shouldn’t be eating dirt! However, by the time Zachary did it I realized that it is just a little dirt and will come out sometime. Of course, we need to be careful about keeping our children away from things that are truly harmful to their health, but we eventually learn that a little dirt won’t kill our kids.
In Jesus’ day, the Jews had a long list of oral rules – the traditions of the elders – which regulated the way people lived their daily lives. These were meticulous rules about crops and food, Sabbath and festivals, marriage, civil and criminal law, sacrifice and purity. Among the purity laws were statements about what food to eat and how to wash hands before eating. These rules were important to the people, and those who did not obey were not righteous in the eyes of the Pharisees.
Read Matthew 15:10-20
As a mom, I won’t let my kids eat too much dirt, but I don’t worry too much if they get a little into their system. I’m more concerned about the things they say and do, as I teach them to live a Christ-like life in this world. My lackadaisical attitude often offends other mothers who worry about everything and are often overprotective of their children. Jesus offended the Pharisees because he told them that obedience to their rules is not what made a person clean. These Pharisees obeyed the rules, but they did not live a life of obedience to God’s law. They loved God with their mouths but their hearts were far from Him. Even today we often live according to rules established by men rather than walking in the light of our Lord Jesus. Our cleansing does not come from what we put in our mouths, but from the Spirit of God within our hearts. It is when we are in a deep and abiding relationship with God that we are clean. Where are you today?
Mother’s Day Today is a day to honour mothers all over America. My family took me out to eat and the restaurant was packed with families sharing special dinners with the women who have had the most impact on their lives. There were women carrying presents, flowers, wearing corsages. The same was true at church, as mothers were given special attention in everything. My family presented me with cards and gifts so that I would know how much they love me and appreciate all I do for them throughout the year. It is sweet to be remembered, and spoiled in such a loving way.
It is not easy being a mother. After nine months of carrying another being, a woman goes through intense pain so that child will be born into the world. That pain is set aside as a mother takes her child in her arms showing her love and beginning a life of caring for that little human being. During the early days, the child is completely helpless. Mother must change diapers, carry, feed, bathe and love the child from sun-up to sun-up. As time goes on he learns to do things on his own, but Mother must continue to care for the needs of the child for many years, until they become independent adults and can take care of themselves. A mother’s job does not end when a child moves out of the home. She still loves her baby and she prays for her health and protection.
Mothers do not only provide for the physical needs of a child, but also the intellectual and emotional needs. From the day of birth, a mother speaks to a child, holding him close and whispering love and encouragement through the tears, fears and hurts. Mother sings songs, such as the Alphabet Song, that helps the child in language development. Mother provides opportunities throughout their toddler and school age years for continued learning and growth.
Mothers also provide for the spiritual welfare of their children. As a Christian mother, it has been very important for me to provide my children with Christian worship and fellowship and copies of the Bible so they can read and study it on their own. Mothers take their children to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. We teach our children the Lord’s Prayer and other ways to speak to God. We teach them the ways of living faith, so that they will be obedient to God our Father in Jesus’ name.
Read Proverbs 22:6
Mothers suffer many things. They suffer through the pain of childbirth, the rambunctious toddler years, the preteen years when children begin to grasp their own independence and the teenage years that provide their own difficulties. We do our best to raise our children in the ways of Christ, pray for them and hope that they will continue to walk in those ways. There may be periods of rebellion, even rejection. However, plant the seeds of faith in the hearts of your children, teach them about the grace and mercy of God and give them every opportunity to see His love in your life.
In the first letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” I certainly enjoyed the special attention today – the dinner, flowers, presents and cards. But as a Christian mother, the great joy will be in the coming days as my children grow in faith and walk that life. I pray someday, someone like Paul will say the same about your children. Thanks be to God.
Conversion Timothy was a young man who followed The Way from a very young age. His grandmother and mother provided a solid foundation of faith and he grew in the ways of obedience to God’s Word and calling in his life. Not all Christians have such a beginning. Paul, for example, was a leader among the Jews. He was highly educated in the Law. In the early days of the church, Paul who was named Saul at the time persecuted those who followed Jesus Christ. Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He heard the eloquent testimony presented by Stephen, listened to the gospel message, and still approved of his death.
When Stephen was finished, the Jews screamed and attacked him, dragged him out of town and stoned him. In desperation, Stephen could have begged the people to listen. He could have been concerned about converting them to the Way. Instead, in those final moments, he turned his attention to his Lord and asked Him to receive his spirit and forgive those that did not believe.
Saul continued to persecute the church. One day he was on his way to Damascus with letters to punish the followers of the Way when he saw a great light and heard a voice from heaven. The Lord Jesus called to him and asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me.” Saul was blinded and sent to Damascus. There he met a disciple named Ananias. When Ananias laid hands on Saul he was healed. Saul was baptized and spent several days listening to the teachings of the disciples. He then set out to teach and preach the Gospel of our Lord.
His ministry was filled with adventure, as he journeyed to many cities helping the early churches grow and learn to serve God in the Way. In the end, it was necessary for Paul to teach and preach in Rome. He was arrested and sent to Rome to meet with Caesar. Along the way, he continued to share his testimony with those who wanted to see him die.
Read Acts 26:19-29
We don’t face the same kind of persecution that Stephen and Paul faced. It is unlikely any of us will have to die for our faith. However, the world refuses to listen to the Gospel and turn to God. We may be ridiculed and attacked. In our society, the attacks are more verbal than physical, but they are still painful. Stephen and Paul knew when to speak the Gospel and when to let God do His work. Too often, we are desperate in our attempts to see people confess that Jesus is Lord. We do not know when to simply pray that God will fulfill His promises.
Is there someone to whom you have shared the Gospel that does not seem to hear? Remember the story of Paul, who once heard the word and still approved the death of Stephen. In God’s time, and in His way, Paul heard the word and then lived the life he was called to live. Have hope that your friend or family will hear, knowing that God does fulfill His promises. Thanks be to God.
Charity At this time of year, many schools are having thank you parties for the people who volunteer – the moms and dads who take time out of their busy schedules to chaperone field trips, help in the classrooms and bake cookies for the children. The teachers and staff want to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of those parents. Most of the parents simply want to play an active role in their child’s school life. Everyone benefits from the work – the child, the school and even the parent.
They say there is no such thing as a selfless act of charity. The one doing the good deed always benefits in some way. There was an episode of “Friends” where Phoebe tried to find a way to do something good where she did not benefit at all. At the end, she called into a telethon and gave every last penny she had in the bank to the cause. The person on the other end of the phone was Joey. She told him that she wasn’t gaining anything out of the act, because giving so much money away was going to mean she would have to go hungry. Her kindness meant that Joey appeared on TV, which was why he was giving his time at the telethon. She said, “Oh, Joey, that makes me so happy.” Even in suffering, she found joy in the giving.
Read 1 Peter 3:13-17
There have been times in my life when the volunteer work I did was a burden. Chaperoning thirty eight-year olds is never my idea of a good time. I generally come home with a headache from time spent in close quarters on the school bus. However, being with the children, knowing that they are gaining some knowledge from the experience, and knowing that my child has benefited from my presence – these things bring me great joy. At times, however, our desire to do good things is seen by others as foolishness or our motives are misrepresented.
We, as Christians, are called to do good in this world. Our Lord Jesus gave His life for us. We in turn are to give our lives for His glory. When someone questions our purpose we are to testify about the work of Jesus Christ, patiently and in love. Our good works are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Be ready to give that testimony, to share the reason you are able to give so generously. Though we may benefit from the experience, always remember that it is for the glory of God, in Jesus’ name, by the power of His Holy Spirit that we do anything good. Thanks be to God.
It seems the latest flu has made its presence known in our home, so today's daily word is a repeat from one year ago today. The subject of forgiveness is always a timely one, so I pray you are blessed by this rerun.
Forgiveness We visited many castles in England. I was quite surprised at the appearance of the first castle we visited. It was a castle built during early days of Norman rule, when William the Conqueror came to rule the British Isle. The castle keep, the main building in the complex is nothing more than a large stone box, four or five levels in height. The building was designed for defense rather than comfort. The castles we think about from the Disney movies have hundreds of comfortable private rooms. Norman castles had one large hall on each level, with a few small rooms built into the fifteen-foot deep walls. The top level was the king’s private apartment. The next level was for the day to day working of the castle. This is where the people would meet with the king.
One of the castles we visited had a large wooden table, which acted as a desk for the king. Here he would receive visitors, his subjects who came to pay debts or petition for their needs. The society was one where the king owned everything. Many people were considered slaves. If you were a freeman, you had to pay rent on the land you used to farm. A person could not even kill a deer in the forest without permission from the king.
In the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we find the story about the unmerciful servant. A servant goes before his king unable to pay his debt. The servant falls upon in his knees and begs for patience with a promise to pay. The king has mercy on his servant and grants him more time to collect the funds necessary. On his way out the door, the servant finds another servant that owes him money. He does not have mercy, but rather sends the debtor to prison. The king learns of the unmerciful servant’s actions and sends him to jail.
We are forgiven with the same measure we forgive. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that you might be forgiven the greatest debt, that of sin against your Father in heaven, your Creator. When someone hurts you, are you able to truly forgive, even forget that which they did against you? Or do you speak the words of forgiveness, continuing to hold on to the hurts, resurrecting them occasionally for some self-purpose?
Read Isaiah 43:25
It is hard to forget. Today, walk in the ways of your Lord. Forgive the sins against you, and remember them no more. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you have walked before the table of your King and received His mercy. Will you now go out and be merciful?
Shopping Balancing the checkbook is always a depressing time. We look at each of the expenditures and realize how much money we spend. Most of our money goes to necessities – paying the bills, feeding the children. Yet, there always seems to be receipts from department, hobby and other stores with purchases that were not necessities. And there are more things we would like to purchase. We have spent money decorating our home, preparing school projects and starting new hobbies. We are planning some trips in the coming months and the children need new clothes. The temptation to overspend is overwhelming.
We have learned to stay within our budget. We rarely use the credit cards we have and pay them off as quickly as possible. There are things we would like to purchase, however we have put off those desires until a time when we can afford to purchase them. Many people put themselves into financial difficulty because they spend more than they earn. Budgeting is a matter of learning what you can do with your resources. After awhile, we realize the things we desire are not necessary – perhaps even unsound – choices and we avoid making mistakes with our money. I have found that the closer I get to living according to God’s will in our lives, the more likely I will make better use of our resources.
Read Galations 5:16-17
There are many aspects of today’s society that we as Christians should avoid. As we watch television, read newspapers and magazines or just walk the streets, we can see the affects of violence, lust, greed and anger. Paul continues in this passage from Galations by describing the acts of a sinful nature. Some are easy for us to avoid, because we recognize the danger involved to our physical bodies and our souls. However, each of us faces temptation to act according to the desires of our sinful nature.
Read Galations 5:19-21a
When it comes to our shopping habits, particularly in our society, we must be careful not to fall into the sins of idolatry and envy. Which of these acts of the sinful nature are your greatest challenges? Remember, as Christians, you live by a different set of standards. The Holy Spirit lives in you, and you should no long live according to your sinful nature. Walk in the Spirit, and do what God desires of you. By His strength and love, you can live as He has created you to live. Thanks be to God.
Peaches I am planning on making peach ice cream for a party we are going to tomorrow. I thought about buying fresh peaches, but the ones in the store were not yet ripe and would have made very sour ice cream. I decided to buy canned peaches for this batch and wait to use fresh peaches when it is the proper time.
I remember living in California when the peach trees were ready for harvest. The fruit was so heavy that the branches had to be held up with poles to keep them from breaking and touching the ground. Driving through the orchard was a heavenly delight, the smell of ripe peaches in the air. Even on the hottest days we often turned off the air and put down the windows just to get a whiff. My mouth waters just thinking about how juicy and sweet those fresh peaches were. The ones in the grocery store were still hard, had no smell and would not have been right for the ice cream.
In yesterday’s devotional, we looked at Paul’s writing to the Galations. He reminded them that they needed to walk in Spirit and set aside the desires of their sinful nature. He warned them about the acts that are evident in one who lives contrary to the Spirit of God. They are the ones who are sexually immoral, impure, hateful, jealous, envious, angry. How do these sins manifest in our lives in this society? We see it in our overspending, the sexual nature of many television shows and commercials and in the violence in movies. We see it in politics, business, education and even religion. All of us have some desires of our flesh nature that need to be overcome through prayer and God’s strength.
The joy of living a life in our Lord Jesus Christ is that He does transform us. He takes those desires of our sinful nature, makes us aware of them and gives us the strength and courage to set them aside. It is a process, called sanctification. The more we walk in His light and life, the more we are cleansed from the things we should not be doing. Paul knew he was not perfect. He knew he was being perfected. We also know that in the midst of our transformation, the Spirit of God still shines through our lives.
Read Galations 5:22-26
There is nothing wrong with the peaches in the stores today; they are good food to eat. With some patience and time they will ripen, but not quickly enough for my ice cream. As for our nature, God is patient and long-suffering, bringing us into His desire until that day when we will be with Him for eternity. We live in the Spirit of God, a gift from our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, let us keep in step with that Spirit, setting aside the desires of our bodies so that everything the world sees is only the good ripe fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God.
Formal Last Saturday night, Bruce and I had the opportunity to attend the Spring Formal held by our base. It was in a fancy hotel with incredible food and dancing until midnight. An Air Force band from mid-America provided the music. They played everything from modern to Motown to disco.
When we arrived at the hotel, everyone looked so handsome. The men were in their mess dress uniforms with bow ties and cummerbunds. The ladies were in floor length evening gowns that sparkled in the candlelight. The tables were set with flowers and candles, the silver and linen was fresh and clean. Everything was in its place and everything was beautiful.
We had a few introductions, but no formal speeches, much to everyone’s delight. We enjoyed the dinner and the conversation. Several of our friends threatened a food fight, but everyone was very well behaved and we laughed and enjoyed the company. The room was filled with laughter and we had a lovely time. After dinner, the band performed a few songs for our entertainment, a wonderful set of uplifting music dedicated to service people and their families. Then the dancing started. It always takes awhile for everyone to warm up to dancing. Only a few people made their way to the dance floor during the first song but it quickly filled up. Bruce and I had a wonderful time dancing together.
As the night wore on, the room and the people lost its original luster. The dinner tables were scattered with dirty dishes, glasses and silver. The linens were covered with spots of gravy and smudges of butter. As the dancing wore on, the men removed their jackets and their shirts showed signs of perspiration. The curls and other hairdos of the beautiful ladies no longer were perfectly styled, messed from the activity on the dance floor. The former glory of the evening was gone, though the joy remained.
When Moses went onto Sinai, he faced the glory of God and returned a changed man. The scriptures tell us that whenever Moses stood in the presence of the Lord, his face was radiant when he returned. Yet, that glory did not last.
Read 2 Corinthians 3:7-11
Our evening at the spring formal is one that will bring fond memories for years to come. Bruce and I enjoyed the company, food and dancing. We particularly enjoyed spending time together. Yet, the joy we had at that one dance is nothing compared to the party that awaits us in heaven. God has prepared a place for the heirs to His Kingdom, a banquet so grand that we cannot even imagine with our limited experience. We are blessed with a glimmer of that glory in this day, in the worship of the saints of earth and heaven, in the love of brethren as we pray and serve one another, and in the joy and peace we have in our hearts. Thanks be to God, for His great and glorious life! Come, Lord Jesus!
Project Vicki has been working on a huge end of the year project for her fifth grade class. The topic is “Arkansas”. The purpose of the report was to inform the reader of all the things that make Arkansas great. She has spent hours on the computer – on the Internet researching as well as in the word processor producing the written report. She has made several posters, one that show the different symbols that are identified with this lovely state. She cut out pictures from brochures and articles from the newspaper that help describe the history and culture of this region. It has been a long and tedious process, but the project has turned out well.
The project is due tomorrow, and from past experience – my own – I’m sure there are parents today running around trying to find all the materials their child needs to complete their work. It is typical of any classroom to have some children who are diligent, studying for tests and doing homework on time. There are always other children who wait until the last minute and simply do not put much effort into the work.
The same can be said about Christians. In any congregation, you will find that there are some members who are diligent about studying God’s word, and there are others who do not put much into their relationship with God. There are a number of people who are actively involved with Bible study and others who only come to church for that hour of worship.
Read Acts 17:11-12
Our Lord Jesus Christ loves all His children. He loved the Thessalonians as much as the Bereans. The thing that set the Bereans apart is their desire to know truth fully for themselves. Do you go to church one hour a week and settle for the understanding your pastor gives to you during his message? Or do you take the scriptures out for yourself – reading, studying, praying and understanding what it means in your life? The Bereans listened to Paul, took his knowledge and then searched the scriptures for confirmation of what Paul taught. We should do the same, always desiring to learn and grown in our relationship with the Lord.
The children in Vicki’s class, both the procrastinators and the committed students, may do similarly well on the project. The amount of time does not necessarily matter, it is the quality and content of the project. However, Vicki is going to school tomorrow confident she has done well with her work. When we study the scriptures, we can speak God’s message confidently to the world and stand before God with the assurance of His Word in our hearts. Thanks be to God.
School Reunion Have you ever had the opportunity to go back to your High School for a reunion? Unfortunately, during my alumni years, I have been unable to do so. I’m sure it is fun to see old friends and talk about your lives since graduating. Those people with whom I have come in contact over the years have amazed me with their accomplishments. They went on to college and great careers where they are accomplishing so many things. It is a testament to the school we attended because they prepared us for living in the world.
It is fun to go back and walk around your old schools. The lockers and desks seem so small. It is especially amusing to return to the schools of your childhood. Remember how big the halls and teachers were back then? To walk those same halls today gives you the feeling of being a giant. The teachers were so special and could do almost everything. As we go back to that part of our past, now that we are adults, we recognize that they were just normal people doing their job trying to teach us whatever they could and prepare us for our life ahead. But as we remember the teachers and schools of our past, we realize the wonderful things they did for us.
There was one who came before our Lord Jesus Christ. He was nothing extraordinary. He lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and honey. He wore fur rather than cloth. His message was one that spoke of repentance and he baptized the people for the forgiveness of sin. He set the way for the One who was to come after him. He did not perform any might acts, did not heal anyone or raise the dead. He simply spoke the truth and prepared the way.
Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized and John wanted to refuse. He did not consider himself worthy of such an act. Jesus told John that it must be this way, so John agreed. At that moment, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit appeared together – in voice, spirit and flesh – all three together. John was a witness to this miraculous moment and testified to the greatness of God.
Read John 10:40-42
When we go home again, or return back to our schools, we realize how ordinary things were during our childhood. Jesus returned to the spot where His ministry began, and it was in that spot where many people believed. It wasn’t because of the miraculous things that were being done, it was because Jesus confirmed the testimony of a simple prophet who spoke the truth.
Do you testify to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ in your life? Or do you think that there is nothing to say? You haven’t done anything extraordinary, so who will bother to listen? We are called to speak the truth, the Gospel of our Lord. He does the rest. It is by His power – His Spirit – that the world will come to believe. Speak the words, and the Lord will come and confirm your testimony. Thanks be to God.
Storms The summer storm season is just around the corner. Yesterday the forecasters predicted that we would see eleven storms in the Atlantic, some of which would be hurricanes. Though the forecast is not always perfectly accurate, it is valuable to know what to expect so that the threatened areas can prepare.
We live near tornado alley. The threat of tornados in our area is not as great as it is elsewhere, yet we must be prepared. In the past few months, we have been under tornado watch, though we have stayed safe and dry. Just a few days ago we had an incredibly violent storm late in the night, with fierce wind and dangerous lightening.
It is best to be prepared. Throughout the last few months many resources have been offered to help families know how to protect themselves during a violent storm. The base held a safety day where procedures were discussed in the event of an emergency, and the people were offered materials on safety. The radio and TV stations have provided reports about the different weather situations so that their audience can know the difference between a tornado and a wind sheer. The communities in the Midwest have emergency warning systems, with announcements posted on the Internet, TV, radio and community loud speakers. We keep bottles of water and non-perishable food, a radio and flashlight in a kit in the center of the house, where we will gather if we need to take cover. We have discussed all this with the children and we are as ready as we can be if a violent storm comes our way.
As Christians, we have another emergency warning system. The Holy Bible gives us all the information we need as we face the storms of life. We are given the Word of God, which speaks of His grace and mercy. We are given practical advice on how to walk in love, faith and truth. We are given the assurance that in our frailties, God will always be with us to guide, encourage, discipline and protect. We can prepare for those moments of danger by having the Word written on our hearts – through prayer and bible study. God is our refuge through the storms of life.
Read Psalm 18:1-6
It is good to be prepared for the inevitable storm during this coming season. Even more so, it is good to be prepared for the storms of life, so that your faith will never waver. As the world tries to harm you and your enemies approach to attack, remember that the Lord God Almighty is your rock, your refuge. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ call out to God and by the power of His Holy Spirit you will know His love and grace. He will see you through. Thanks be to God.
Opera Last night, we went to see a couple of operas that the fifth grade students at our school wrote and performed. They were silly stories filled with song and dancing. Vicki’s class did one they called “The Saga of Wordsville.” It was a story about a town that used words as wealth. They bought and sold everything with words. In such a town, an uneducated person is very poor. Wordless, Dumb and Dumber decided they wanted the wealth, and when a brand new word mine was found they tried to steal it. The matter was settled when Vanna, a young girl from the town, had a spelling bee with Wordless. Wordless had to cheat to spell a couple of words, but he was discovered and lost the spelling bee. Instead of putting the three villains in jail, the sheriff put them in school so they could learn to read and write and no longer be poor.
The children did a marvelous job with the opera. It was funny and well written. The props, sets and costumes were well done, and created a real feel for the scene and story. The children did a wonderful job performing the songs and dancing. We could tell that much work was put into the creation of this opera. The other class put on an equally pleasing presentation. The teachers guided these children in a difficult and at times frustrating experience, but in the end it was well worth their time and effort. Putting together such a performance takes a great deal of time, work and practice, as anyone who has participated in live theatre is well aware. There are times throughout the creation that those involved wonder how it ever will come together. Yet, on opening night, everything falls into place and the audience receives the benefit of all their work.
Jesus Christ came in flesh to change the world. His purpose was for the forgiveness of sin, yet along the way He taught people how to live a life in humble submission to God our Father. He called a number of men to be His disciples, and though they were a motley crowd He molded them into a team that went on to share the message of the risen Saviour to the world.
Read Matthew 4:18-20
Peter and the other disciples were not great men of God when Jesus called them into His service. They were uneducated, but hardworking. Jesus called them each individually, and like Peter told them He would make them fishers of men. Jesus spent several years teaching the disciples about the Kingdom of God. He molded them into the great men of God we read about in the scriptures.
He does the same for us today. He tells us to follow Him, and in our Christian walk we are transformed so that we too can share the Gospel message with the world. Just like the opera, it takes hard work by the teachers and the children for it all to come together. Our Lord Jesus Christ set the wheels in motion when He came in flesh two thousand years ago, and He calls us to follow Him. Through the power of the Holy Spirit when we spend time in prayer, fellowship, worship and study, our Lord transforms us into a great and wonderful opera that shares His Word with the world. Thanks be to God.
Computers I received a cartoon in the mail today. The picture showed a man sitting at a computer, poking the keys with one finger at a time. In a speech bubble, the computer says, “Stop blaming me for being so slow, you are the one still typing with one finger.” While we can upgrade our computers with faster processors and more memory, even the best computer is only as good as the person operating it.
Computers have become such an important part of our lives. We use them for everything these days – to communicate, plan, process and organize. We fill them with files of information like recipes, addresses and calendars. As we expand our technological horizons, we add new programs that help to ease our use of the computer. However, with every new program we have to figure out how to use it. We need to learn the right commands so that the machine will do what we want it to do. When I first began to write html for web design, I learned quickly that even one keystroke in the wrong place ruins the page. I was often frustrated when a table or link did not work and in the beginning I spent hours looking for my mistakes. The more I learn about design, the easier it is to find my mistakes. We cannot ask the computer to do something it is not programmed to do. I can’t write code in one manner and expect it to show up on the computer another. If I want the page to have a blue background, it is necessary for it to have the code to give it a blue background.
Read 1 John 5:13-15
In our Christian walk, how often do we try to do things our own way? We ask God for things that are against His will. We know that He hears our prayers and grants our requests. What are we asking? Are we asking for a million dollars or some other gift that is not His will in our lives? By the blood of the Lamb, and by His resurrection, we have the assurance of eternal life. We are children of the Most High God, heirs to the Kingdom. He has given us such a great and glorious promise – that He would hear our prayers – because He loves us and desires that we will have everything we need. He does this so that He will be glorified.
In our prayer life, we grow in our relationship with God learning how to listen to His still small voice. He makes it clear what He desires for us. Those prayers line up to His will, rather than our wants. Just like the computer that will not work unless you use the right commands, God cannot give us anything that goes against His nature. Has it seemed as though God is not hearing your prayers? Consider what it is you are asking, and ask God to show you what He wants for you. Trust that God knows best, and seek His will in your life. In this God will be glorified. Thanks be to God.
Community Barbra Streisand sang a song called “People” that is a favourite of many people. The words spoke about how lucky we are to have other people in our lives. We live with our families and neighbours, working together to accomplish the daily tasks of life. Our society has been founded upon the close relationship between people. The earliest settlements in the United States would have failed if the people had not cooperated with each other to produce food and shelter.
Recently, however, we seem to be moving toward a ‘people-free’ lifestyle. It began with the development of communication technology. Today, if you try to call any major business on the telephone, you are likely to get a voice mail message directing you through a maze of options that will eventually lead you to the answer you seek. I tried calling the cable company several weeks ago. The voice told me that this voice mail system was designed to make it easier to serve my needs. Yet none of the voice mail options were appropriate for my problem. It took ten minutes of button pushing and waiting until I finally found the way to reach a real person.
In more recent days, banks and gas stations have gone self serve. You can visit an ATM machine to take care of most of your banking business. Some banks even charge its customers that use teller service for certain transactions. Gas stations have pumps designed with payment points for credit cards. I went to a grocery store to make a small purchase. When I found what I wanted, I approached the checkout. There was not a single clerk on a register. Three lanes were fitted with self-serve technology. I scanned the item, hit a few buttons and inserted my money. It gave me my change and receipt. I walked out of the grocery store without saying a word to another human being.
Read Acts 2:42-47
The earliest Christians lived in a community where they shared everything. They gathered often to pray, learn and fellowship. They ate together, communed together and worshipped the Lord together. We are loosing that sense of community, not only in our society but also in the church. There are mega-churches where huge groups of people gather together to worship God, and yet the individual gets lost in such a crowd. On the other extreme, many Christians are choosing to have a solitary life of faith, no longer attending services at the church down the street. Televangelists have become very popular, as people sit in front of their TV to learn about the scriptures and praise God by themselves. They read and study the bible, but miss on the life of community that comes from fellowship in real life with other Christians.
I don’t care for this trend toward ‘people-free’ living. We need to interact with other people every day, to share our joys and pain. We need hugs and smiles. People need people. In the beginning, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and He created another person. This is as true today as it was in the beginning. I pray that today you will find someone with whom to interact. Even if you go to the bank, gas station or grocery store and are not waited on a person, seek out someone in your home or neighbourhood to share a moment of the love of Christ.
Drunken hedgehogs There is a breaking story out of England about hedgehogs. A society that is for the protection of those adorable little balls of fur is quite concerned about their welfare. They have noticed that more and more hedgehogs are perishing because of alcohol consumption. Snails and slugs are a problem in English gardens. The gardeners have discovered that the creatures are attracted to beer. They lay bowls of the sweet nectar in their flowerbeds. The snails and slugs climb into these bowls to drink the liquid, and then they are unable to escape. They drown and are no longer a threat to the plants.
Unfortunately, the hedgehogs are also attracted to the beer in these bowls. They drink and end up drunk, unable to act as a proper hedgehog should. The greatest concern to the society is that the hedgehogs fall asleep right there in garden and they do not roll up in their safe little ball. Predators are more able to attack and kill a hedgehog that has fallen into a drunken stupor.
This story may seem funny, and yet how true it is that we can get into deep trouble when we have consumed alcoholic beverages. When we are drunk, we are more likely to take risks and we leave ourselves open to all sorts of dangers. Several years ago, a drunk driver hit my car. He was under the influence of more than just alcohol and decided he could run a red light. The force of the collision was so great, my car spun around several times. I had an unopened can of coke on the seat next to me. The accident caused that can to fly into the dashboard and explode. There was coke everywhere. Had I not been wearing my seatbelt, I’m certain my fate would have been similar to that of the coke.
Read Luke 21:34-36
This is not a sermon against alcohol. I enjoy a glass of wine or a Fuzzy Navel on occasion. Yet, we must recognize that the affects of alcohol can be death. The poor hedgehogs do not even understand that they are taking a risk by drinking the liquid in the bowls. They are simply trying to quench their thirst. There are times when humans do not realize we are using substances like alcohol to overcome something in our lives. We drink to cover up pain, fear and doubt. However, this method never works, and instead we waste our resources, we become unable to control our actions, and we cause greater worry as we loose those we love. We get trapped in the bowl of beer, or leave ourselves vulnerable to attack from an enemy.
On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember that it is ok to have fun and enjoy a beer or two at a party. However, beware of drunkenness and provide yourself with safe passage should you overdo. Have a good holiday. Amen.
Crook There was a show on TV called, “America’s Dumbest Criminals.” It showed video, either real life or reenactments, of criminals doing stupid things. They always got caught in their foolishness and were punished for their crime. I heard a story of one such man. He hid in the store he was planning to rob until after everyone went home in the evening. Then he took a duvet cover and filled it with merchandise. All was going very well until he tried to leave the store. First, he took a crowbar to the front door but it would not budge. Next, he tried to break through the rear wall. None of his escape attempts succeeded. Eventually, he called the police to he would be freed. Unfortunately, his freedom would be very short-lived.
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10
The criminal in the story wanted more. He was not content with his own possessions and he tried to get more. His desire led him into a life of crime, and a destructive trap from which he could not escape. That is what sin is, a destructive trap. God, our heavenly Father gives us everything we need to live in this world for this time. When we try to have more than our daily needs, we are tempted to do whatever is necessary to meet those desires.
Money itself is not evil. Throughout the ages, men and women have given up everything to live lives of poverty so as to follow closely in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not necessary to follow in this lifestyle as long as we remember to be content with what we have. We fall into temptation when we desire to get rich and we do whatever we can to make that happen.
As for the criminal, he desired to have more. He chose to follow his desires and ended up on a path to destruction. The locked doors of the store trapped him, but there was a way out. He called the police who let him out, but he suffered the consequences of his foolish behaviour. We too, have a way out when we fall into temptation. We can call God, in the name of Jesus and ask for His mercy, grace and forgiveness. We may face some consequence of our actions. However, in the blood of Jesus Christ, we know we are forgiven and can move on in freedom to be content with what we have. Thanks be to God.
Memorial Day People all over America are celebrating Memorial Day. This weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. Many of the warm weather attractions like swimming pools and amusement parks are opening for business. The beaches will be crowded with people who want to have a good time splashing in the ocean and lounging in the sun. This Monday morning the roads will be free from traffic because nearly everyone has a holiday. Grills will be heated up at homes and picnic areas, as families and friends gather to have fun.
Why are we celebrating? Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who died defending our country. Throughout our history, we have faced enemies who threatened the peace and freedom on which our nation was founded. We have faced enemies who threatened our allies and the world. The focus this weekend is the sixtieth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor Hawaii. That one moment in time drew our country into World War II. The years have passed and few veterans who survived that great war are still living. The WWII generation is honoured because of their sacrifices for our country. They lived through depression, loneliness, poverty and fear. Yet, they also stood for hope, peace and courage. We remember them today, for all they did for our country.
The WWII generation was not perfect. They have made many mistakes with the way they dealt with issues through the twentieth century, and yet we can look to them as examples of living a good life. They established a strong foundation of morality and work ethic. They provided for their children who are more educated than any other generation in the past. Though we may not want to return to the ways of the first half of the twentieth century, we can look to those men and women for hope, peace and courage in the days to come.
Read 1 Peter 2:11-12
As Christians, we can stand as a testament to the way we should live in this world. As we walk in peace, love and joy, the world sees our failures, but they also see the light of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. Today we celebrate the lives of those men and women who throughout our history have sacrificed much for our freedom. Lets remember especially that generation whose lives are passing quickly and thank them for all they did to bring us to where we are today. Thanks be to God.
Religion The word religion is difficult to define. There is such a wide range of religions around the world that it is impossible to come up with a few key words or phrases that fits every sort of religion. The main understanding is a belief in the supernatural, in an institutionalized setting. Yet, there are religions that that hold to no supernatural force at all, and those who practice their faith privately. The Merriam-Webster dictionary adds several other definitions that must be considered when discussing the meaning of religion. If we reach into ancient history, the word religion meant conscientiousness. It can also be simply a cause, principle or system of beliefs held with ardor and faith.
Human beings are religious by nature. We believe in something. We hold to a cause, principle or system of beliefs, whatever it may be. Even the humanist and atheist are religious in their lack of belief in a supernatural force. Unfortunately, religion tends to be a catalyst to many problems in this world. When two people with differing ideas clash, the end result is often violence. We attack one another, particularly in words. However, we also go farther and attack physically, causing violence and war. Many Christians emphatically claim they are not religious simply to avoid the stigma that is attached to the word based on a long history of improper action in the name of God. Yet, we are all religious.
Everyone lives out his or her religious nature differently, and for different purposes. Many people do follow an institutionalized programme of beliefs. They fellowship with others who hold to similar ideas. They gather together to follow some ritual or liturgy regularly. Some people prefer to practice their faith privately. They study their scriptures, pray or meditate in quiet seclusion from the world. Yet others seek to convert the world to their understanding and speak out about their ideas and faith (or lack of it).
Just as our practices are diverse, so too are our purposes. Some people are religious because they seek to be blessed. This is not necessarily the fulfilling of material desires, but they also desire more friends, health, happiness, strength, knowledge or peace. Others are religious because they want to make the world a better place. They do it for moral and charitable reasons. Others live out their beliefs so that they will bring glory to someone, either themselves or some sort of god, human or supernatural. Some people are religious because they believe there must be something better than what they have in this life. They seek something greater than themselves. It is a hope for something eternal, something beyond this life.
I think if we really consider the way we live our religious lives, we will realize that our actions suggest all these reasons. We all want to have more than we have, and it is in our belief in ourselves or our God that we find fulfillment. We all want to make the world a better place, and we act out of our faith to do just that. We all want to bring glory to something. We all have hope for some sort of eternal life – whether it is life beyond this life, or a lasting memory in this world.
As Christians we have a hope that will not disappoint. Though I live out my Christian life in this world for the glory of God, for the betterment of society, and for the blessings I receive from living a ‘good’ life, I also look forward to the day when I will be face to face with my Lord. The life that waits beyond this world is one so incredible that we simply cannot imagine.
Read Revelation 7:13-17
May these words of John give you hope to live your faith in Jesus Christ in this world today, sure of the knowledge that one day soon we will live in a place with no hunger, thirst or pain. Some day soon, we will live in the very presence of God for eternity, with nothing to separate us from the fullness of His glory. Thanks be to God.
Allergy Everywhere we have ever moved, we have heard the same warning. It normally comes the first time we catch the sniffles that come with a common cold. “Do you have allergies? You will. This is the worst place for allergies.”
I was very surprised when we moved back to the United States to see how many allergy medications are advertised on the television. Watch for an hour and you will see commercials for several different types of drugs available from a doctor to help overcome the symptoms commonly found with allergies. The commercials come with disclaimers, warning of the negative affects. They advise you to talk to with your doctor and get a prescription to ease your suffering.
A woman had been suffering from allergies for over a year and was regularly taking the medication prescribed for her situation. After a year, the medicine had not relieved her suffering at all. She took another test, which was more accurate and expensive, and she discovered that she was never allergic. She spent a year taking useless medicine that cost her $80 a month. Medical tests can be rather costly, so doctors tend to use the easiest, least expensive option. However, in the case of allergy testing, this option is highly inaccurate, often coming up with a diagnosis that shows allergic reaction, when it is simply a reaction. Those who are misdiagnosed end up spending money on unnecessary and potentially dangerous drugs. A recently released study showed that sixty-five percent of people taking the prescription medications on the market today are not allergic. The researches expected to conclude that people were being misdiagnosed, however they were surprised by the extremely high percentage.
We could discuss blame for this incredible situation, and yet everyone is doing the best they know how. Unfortunately, in all aspects of life, we make wrong conclusions based on improper information. This is most true when dealing with people. How often have we made a snap judgment about someone, only to find that your first impressions were wrong? Someone who seems to be harsh and angry was just having a bad day and is really a sweet, gentle soul. Or someone is lovely and kind, but they are eventually found to be wearing a façade designed to gain trust and popularity. We make assumptions about people based on our own faulty tests.
Read Matthew 9:9-13
Are any of us really healthy, spiritually? No, we are all sick, and Jesus came for all of us. There are many who consider themselves healthy or righteous based on their own. These people do not turn to the Lord Jesus because they do not think they need His help. However, when we live without a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, something is missing. So, we turn to other things to try to fill the hole. The Pharisees filled their heart with the rules of their law and they judged others by their faulty test.
In today’s society, many people are filling the hole with new age spirituality, drugs or work. None of these medicines will help the problem. They have misdiagnosed their problem. How are you trying to fill your emptiness? Give it over to the Lord God Almighty in the name of Jesus. By the power of His Holy Spirit, you will be filled and healed of what truly ails you – separation from God. Thanks be to God for His love, mercy and grace. Amen.
End Today is the last day of school for our children. Most of the schools in our area, as well as around the country are finishing the school year this week or very soon. Seniors are celebrating their graduations from high school or college, setting out on a new phase of life. Families are planning summer vacations and how to keep the children occupied for the next three months. I’ve been reading about the Arkansas landmarks that might be fun places for us to visit. We have season passes for the zoo and museum and we have found several wonderful parks that we can explore.
It is especially difficult for the children who come from dual income families. During the school year, children spend most of their days in school; so childcare is not as expensive or deep a concern. However, during the summer months, parents must find some provider who can watch their children. It is far more expensive and dependable childcare is often difficult to find.
As the children grow older and more responsible, many parents choose to allow them to stay home during the day. These young people can find ways to keep themselves occupied. Some even find summer jobs or spend time with their friends. It can be a valuable tool for teaching children independence and self-sufficiency.
Unfortunately, kids have a way of finding trouble when they have too much time on their hands. Some young people end up breaking the rules when they have no parental guidance during the day. Even the most trustworthy children can fall into the web of peer pressure. Kids have a way of convincing other kids to do the things they know is not right.
The same can be said about Christians. We learn about values, morality and the rules. We study the scriptures and know the appropriate actions we should take. We listen to solid pastors and teachers about God’s Word and we hear His voice by the power of the Holy Spirit. We know the truth. Yet, we too can fall for the enticement from the enemy.
Read Proverbs 1:8-19
Let us pray for all the children as summer vacation begins – those at home with parents, at daycare and those who will be responsible for themselves. Pray that they will remain safe and out of trouble. Pray for those who will care for them over the next few months, that they will provide proper guidance with love and wisdom. Most of all, let us pray for each other that we will heed the words of the proverbs, never falling for the enticement of the enemy into the ways that lead to destruction. May God protect us all today and always. Amen.