Location: New England, United States

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The First Shall Be Last

In evangelical circles, it is well known that those groups who are "of God" are usually the most despised, maligned and mistreated by the world. Take the case of the nation of Israel. Through the ages an inexplicable hatred and prejudice of those of Jewish descent has permeated the centuries. Why are they so hated by the world? The answer is that because they are "of God".

The Christians have had their turn, as well. Starting with John the Baptist, through Jesus and into the first half of the new millennium, Christians were crucified, tortured, stoned and shunned by the world. So it would appear that if you are "of God", you are hated by the world.

Good Morning America is reporting this morning that Pope John VIII (853-855 A.D.) was actually a woman. It is reported that she actually conceived and birthed a child during her reign. Subsequently, she was stoned and dragged behind a horse until death released her from her adversaries.

If you want to talk about persecution, intolerance, unfair judgment and hatred for any one group, let us discard the Blacks, Muslims, Christians and Jews; there is another group that has suffered more than these, and her name is Woman. No other group in the history of this world has been more maligned. No other slavery has been more pervasive than a husband over his wife. No other lie has been more accepted since the beginning of the human race than the subjugation of women, and this second-class status is still prevalent today; yes even in America.

"But many that are first will be last, and the last first." Matthew 19:30 RSV

"If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." Mark 9:35 RSV

"And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." Luke 13:30 RSV

Monday, December 26, 2005

Where Are Our Prophets?

"Surely, the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7 RSV

If the Lord is still working in today's world then according to God's own word, John the Baptist could not have been the last prophet. So where are today's prophets? Where are the watchmen who warn of impending disaster? Where are those who shout from the hills, "Repent! For the day of the Lord is at hand." There are those who proclaim that they are 'baptized in the Holy Spirit' and speak in tongues ( not another language, but babbling like babies in a language that no one but the Spirit can understand). The gifts of the Holy Spirit are so much more than speaking in tongues. Where are the healers? Where are the sages? Where are the miracle workers? Where are the prophets?

"Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." 1 Corinthians 14:1 RSV

Monday, December 12, 2005

Are You Afraid of Heights?

The Hand of God will lift you up only when you have reached the edge of the precipice. God gave you two feet and a set of good legs. He gave you a map of your intended path. He expects that you utilize those feet and your legs to walk the plains. It is when you reach the edge of the canyon that he will lay out his hand as a bridge to the next plain. Use what God has given you and trust him to supply what you do not have to finish the race.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. " I Corinthians 9:24-25

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Personal Relationship - Parable

A man and woman received two tickets to a lecture by Tom Hanks from their neighbor. The man and the woman had heard of Tom Hanks and had even seen some of his films, but they were not fans. This lecture was on Sunday afternoon, a time when the man usually watched football at home, so he was reluctant to attend the lecture, but with encouragement from his wife - they started out. The street parking around the lecture hall was full, and the man cursed as he had to pay $10 to the parking attendant of the nearest lot. Finally, they were escorted to their seats. The woman complained that the seats were too close together and the lecture hall was too warm but still, they waited for the lecture to begin.

Eventually, Tom Hanks came on the stage with little fanfare. There were no props, no other actors, just Tom Hanks speaking to the audience about his life. As the woman periodically check her watch, her husband tried to stay awake. They both wondered why they had bothered coming.

After speaking, Tom bellowed into the microphone, "Please! Turn up the house lights." immediately, the lights shone brilliantly on the audience. The man woke with a start and the woman's full attention was directed to the actor. Tom made eye contact with the woman. "Stand and come to me!" Then Tom stared at her husband. Again he said, "Stand and come to me!"

An usher came to their row of seats and accompanied them to the stage. As they stood next to Tom Hanks, he grabbed their hands. The man and woman looked at Tom with awe and confusion. Tom spoke again, "I want to be your friend. Will you take me home with you?" The man and woman searched the audience wondering why Tom had singled them out. Again Tom spoke in the low small voice you hear so many times on the screen. "All you need to do is say yes and everything I have will be yours."

The God of Universe has just asked you the same question. What is your answer?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Is Your Bread Toast?

In Genesis, God charged Adam and Eve that they would toil for their bread all the days of their lives due to their disobedience.

This generational proclamation still applies to us today. Generally, if we want to eat we must toil. Not only does this toil apply to our worldly needs, but also to our spiritual needs. Receiving our salvation requires a decision from us. Maintaining a relationship with God requires prayer, worship and studying his word. Also, the Great Commission, "tell all the world The Good News", requires that we toil. However, God is good as well as just.

In Exodus we see that God does provide our daily bread without toil. When the House of Israel wandered in the desert, they were fed directly from the hand of God in the form of manna. This manna represented God's willingness to forego his proclamation to Adam out of mercy and love.
The manna was provided to the people for natural or worldly sustenance as well as spiritual sustenance.

In our Christian walk, we seldom have trouble discussing, revealing or sharing our toil and efforts in obtaining our bread. Whether worldly or spiritual, we feel an ease relating our toil and struggles. So too, we feel an ease in hearing about other peoples' testimonies about their toils for their worldly or spiritual bread. But, we do seem to have a problem revealing or receiving the worldly or spiritual manna from God's own hand.

God, supernaturally provided me with a house. The house I live in did not come from my own hands nor my own toil, yet when I relate this miracle to others, it is hard for them to accept. Spiritually, I received from God a revelation about the importance of forgiveness. I was not searching for the meaning or application of forgiveness. I was hurting and felt justified in my pain. I did not seek to forgive - I wanted justification. Instead God opened up the whole circle of forgiveness and how it works so I could heal properly.

When we share our 'manna' experiences with others, we are casting our bread upon the waters. We are showing others that although God is a just god, he is also loving and merciful. Sharing your testimony and receiving others' testimony brings God's Spirit into the world, and we sorely need His Spirit here.

"But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? " Matthew 16:8 RSV

We must recognize the manna in our lives and share it with others.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Nation Without Diversity

Normally, I would not utilize this blog to tout political views, however, I believe that the political manipulation of "Politically Correct" has evolved in unbalance with God's word.

I recently was required by my employer to complete a training session on management. This training is a once a year requirement, and I thoroughly understand this requirement from a legal standpoint. However, with that said - I still found points of the training session offensive.

As a Christian, I am totally opposed to any form of hatred, discrimination and harassment, and I value diversity. On the cover, our politically correct world would seem to promote diversity, but when one looks closer we are sliding down the slope of anonymity. It requires that we not only censure our words and actions for hatred, discrimination and harassment, but also charges responsibility for how our listener receives every type of correspondence - whether verbal, written or conveyed by body language. We are made responsible for another person's feelings regardless of our intent. I find this responsibility repugnant.

Under these new guidelines, we are no longer allowed our own convictions, as they may repulse someone with another view. Our personal values cannot be stated or freely acted upon without deliberating on whether we will "offend" another person of different values. I cannot maintain my right to individualism if it threatens someone around me, and the worst compromise of all - I am responsible for how another person processes their incoming information - in a word - I am responsible for their feelings.

God created every plant, animal and human being with diversity to portray the wonder and complexity of his creative abilities. Political correctness will erase this diversity. I am responsible for my feelings. I am responsible for the way I interpret and process the input of information from the outside world. I am responsible for my conclusions based on this input, and I am responsible for my actions based on those conclusions. And so are you.

This is how we learn and grow. This is how we become intimate with our fellow man. Isn't that intimacy and growth the purpose and joy of our life?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Just Love Him and He Will Be Happy

"For it is written, 'Rejoice, O barren one that dost not bear; break forth and shout, thou who are not in travail; for the desolate hath more children than she who hath a husband." Galatians 4 :27 RSV

Do you desire to be under the law or under the promise? Do you desire to be a slave or free? Abraham had two children, Ishmael, born of the slave Hagar, and Isaac, born of his wife, Sarah. These two children represent the two covenants outlined to God's people. One covenant is living in slavery under the law. The other covenant is living free under the promise of grace.

Jesus came that we may have freedom - freedom from sin and freedom from the law. Yet, we find people and institutions that are still mired in both. Not only do we bind ourselves with this dual chain, but we are quick to bind others as well.

God's bottom line is that he just wants to have a relationship with us. He wants a personal relationship with us. He does not want you to have Bob's relationship with him. He does not want you to have Jane's relationship with him. He wants you to have YOUR relationship with him.

Jesus came to break the two chains from our lives - sin and law - so we could have a free relationship with God. Although there is a progressive growing up in our relationship with God - he is well able to let us know what areas of our life need attention and what areas can be left alone for now. His main concern is that we spend time with him with our hearts open and our minds focused. Just love him and he will be happy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Happy Holidays!

The holidays - meant to be joyous - are frequently a time of stress, struggle and depression for many people. For more than a month, we are expected to spend time with our families and the phrase - "you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family" rings in our ears.

We kick-off the season spending time with our families on Thanksgiving. Then the entire month of December our families are ever present on our minds as we struggle to find the perfect gift for Mom, Dad and that sister or brother you never quite understood. Old wounds are once again stirred, coming to surface in the form of resentment or even all out war. Christmas looms with dread as we anticipate the careless words and hurt feelings.

God watches all of this. In some way, I believe that this "joyous season" was actually laid before us as a once a year opportunity to make peace with those created to be closest to us.

Let me share a scenario:
You have two children - a son seven years old and a daughter five. Your son is using the television to play a video game, but it is time for the Barbie Princess cartoon and your daughter wants to watch. She declares to your son that she wants to watch the cartoon and he refuses to release the TV to her. She grabs the controller out of his hand, and your son grabs it back. She turns off the television and he pulls her hair. You can hear her screams coming from the family room and you run from the kitchen. Your quick assessment determines that they are both fighting - what do you do?

You punish them both. At any point in this struggle, your son or your daughter could have come to you to mediate. Instead, they choose to handle the disagreement themselves with force and strife, and now both children are hurt and resentful.

It is the same when we argue and struggle with our families. When a disagreement arises, God expects us to come to him with the problem so he can mediate. If we choose to handle the disagreement ourselves, it will esculate into strife, hurt feelings and long remembered words. But, if we go to God with the problem, he will mediate the disagreement, averting resentment, strife and pain.

Remember, God placed you in this particular family for a reason, and I am sure it was not just for your brother's growth; but for your own as well.

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