Location: New England, United States

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Every industry has their celebrities. We are all familiar with Hollywood, realizing that they are universal celebrities. However, there are celebrities in other industry groups as well. Martha Stewart is the housewife diva, Donald Trump makes the "Good Deal", and Jack Welch is probably the best known CEO.

There are celebrities in the Christian faith, as well. Billy Graham, the evangelist comes to mind. There are others who are theologians, teachers, self proclaimed prophets, etc. Just like the celebrities of the 'world', we tend to attach more credence to the message delivered by our Christian celebrities. I say- Beware!

Just as Martha Stewart fell from grace, and Robert Downey, Jr. turned to drugs, so our Christian celebrities must be approached with the discernment of the Spirit. Though their message may have been proved over and over for a time - each message they deliver should be determined with caution and prayer. We may know their reputation with the world, but what is their reputation with God?

Measure their message against your own relationship with God. Pray, study and take no man's message and swallow it whole. For like Ezekiel, although the message may be sweet in the mouth, it may be bitter going down.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Distant Lord or a Loving Father?

Several years ago, my father was elected the National President of a large professional association. His "swearing in" ceremony was to be held in Chicago, and his eight grown children traveled from many different cities to be with him during this important event. The ceremony lasted three days, including cocktail parties, dinners, photo sessions for publication in their national magazine and other events where my father and his family were expected to make appearances.

Friends, associates, employees and colleagues exhibited respect; even reverence to my father during those three heady days, and we were all overwhelmed, even exhausted, by the constant attention. After the events, our family would often retire to my father and mother's hotel room to decompress. There, my father would cease to be the National President; he was just my Dad. We would joke with him, play tricks on him and playfully chide him. There was no fear or awe in the room - just intimacy.

This dichotomy is also evident with our Heavenly Father, especially when you compare the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Why did God have an informal intimacy with some of the biblical characters and yet, a formal, lordly relationship with others? This difference is buried in the structure of the relationship.

We are all God's creation. We all belong to him under this relationship, but we are not all his children. Even among his children, there are different relationships. Abraham's formality when speaking to God (Genesis 18:27) is in sharp contrast to the informality expressed by David (1Samuel 23:4).

God's children are those who have accepted his Son, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior. When we have made this decision, we are no longer just God's creations; we are now God's children. As our intimacy with God increases (by spending time with him in study and prayer), our relationship with God becomes less formal, and he becomes more intimate with us.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Good Leaven

Yesterday, I watched a program on The Learning Channel about "Killer Bees". Sometime in the 1950's a misguided scientist imported African bees to Brazil for the purpose of increasing the local honey production.

Bees are not indigenous to the Americas so when the first settlers wanted to import bees, they wisely chose a relatively docile species, the European honey bee. Now the more aggressive African bees have invaded the existing honey bee hives, passing on their genes to produce a new species which the scientists have named "Africanized bees". These bees have spread throughout Brazil northward into Arizona, Texas and California. When agitated, they will collectively sting at a rate of 60 stings per square inch, killing their victims within minutes. They will pursue their target for up to 1/2 mile and will not cease their attack for up to 24 hours. It is estimated that they move northward at an annual rate of 1,100 miles a year, and in the next 20 years, all of our docile honey bees will be converted to the hybrid "Africanized bees".

As I watched this program, I could not resist drawing the correlation between the progression of the "Africanized bees" and the progression of evil in our society today. When the female honey bee mates, she will mate with at least 20 drones; storing the sperm within her abdomen. She then slowly releases the sperm with each egg production over her two year lifetime. If she had the discernment to limit her mating to only those of her species, then her hive will never become Africanized, however if she mates with even one African bee, it is inevitable that her hive will become increasingly hostile.

"A little leaven leavens the whole lump." Galatians 5:9 RSV

I was cautioned to diligently monitor what is taken into my mind and soul. Once bad leaven ( evil) has been added to the flour, eradication is nearly impossible. Avoiding evil may be as simple as turning off a TV program, turning away from an irate person or quickly apologizing for hurting someone's feelings.

Adding good leaven (goodness) to the flour may be a simple as a kind word, a smile or simply listening to someone who is hurting. Good leaven can overtake the flour just a quickly as the bad leaven.

In reading the Mitford Book Series, I remembered that one of the characters daily prayed "the prayer that never fails". This prayer is always answered by God. "God, please let me be a blessing to someone today." Think of it as Good Leaven.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Mystery of Faith

"Now we all understand that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane..." 1Timothy 1:8 RSV

After accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, those who are "born again" become concerned with, "What do I do now?". This feeling stems from our sensing the Holiness (or wholeness) of God, and realizing that in comparison; we fall short. Certainly, the contrast between his light and our darkness is so stark, we become consumed with desperation. How can we ever measure up? So, in arrogance, we set about with our mental list of tasks to make ourselves holy, and in doing so, we lose our righteousness, peace and joy.

Only the Son can come before the Father in Holiness. Jesus owns his Holiness. In contrast, we must be made holy. The deception arises when Christians feel that they have the capacity to manufacture this holiness by their own hands.

Does the clay pot fill itself with water - or - does the potter, after finishing the pot, fill it with water to test for cracks? Then, if the pot leaks, who repairs the cracks?

Also, in the spring, does the apple tree lay down the compost around its own roots for the new season's growth? When the fruit appears, does the apple tree spray itself with pesticides and fungicides to prevent the spoiling of the fruit? No it is the gardener (vine dresser) who tends the garden to produce a bountiful harvest.

"Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning her husband." Romans 7:2 RSV We have died to our marriage of sin and unholiness when we accepted Jesus as our Savior. We have a new husband -Jesus. When we "married" Jesus, we took his name and now possess all that he owns - including his Holiness.

Jesus came to clothe us in his Holiness. We possess no holiness, but through him. Those who have not accepted Jesus live under the law and will be judged by the law, but we Christians will be judged by the Holiness of Jesus.

Believing in this simple Mystery of Faith fulfills Jesus' promise of righteousness, peace and joy. We are released from the strife of achieving our own holiness and only need to put on his robe of Holiness to stand before the Father.

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