Saturday, January 28, 2012

Very smart girl!

When our daughter Angela was in high school she started working at a Chinese restaurant.  One summer day the owner was taking a break by shooting baskets in the back parking lot and left the screen door to the kitchen open.  A neighbor's dog ran into the kitchen followed by the owner with ball in hand, raised above his head ready to punish the intruder.  Angela who was walking through the kitchen at this moment raised her hand to block the shot and said,  "I wouldn't do that if I were you!"  "Why not?"  "If you hit that dog it will yelp and the last thing your customers want to hear is the yelp of a dog in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant."  The owner lowered his hands and said, "Angela, you pretty smart, you know?"

Not long ago Angela suggested I print two words on the oars of my driftboat. On one "Faith" on the other, "Works."  After all if we trust in faith alone we just go around in circles.  Likewise if we are so arrogant to trust in our own efforts, like pulling on one oar, we will make no progress in our spiritual growth.  James in the New Testament writes:  "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.  But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.'  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."  (James 2:14-18)

Like the two oars of a boat both are needed to make progress in the right direction.  By the way Angela, "You still pretty smart."

Yours and His,


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I've discovered something this year.  I don't like fishing, what I like is catching.  Fishing has been described as, "The art of  casting, trolling, jigging, or spinning while freezing, sweating, swatting, or swearing."

 It has been said that the reason Christianity is so unbelievable is that it was first told by fisherman.  Peter was a professional fisherman, not only was it his livelihood, he loved it.  When life became frustrated or problems seem to overwhelm him, he muttered, "I'm going fishing!" and headed for the boats.

It was one of those times that Jesus stood on the shore and asked, "Have you caught any fish?"  The fact was, he hadn't.  Professional fishermen do not like to admit failure much less be told how to fish, especially by a carpenter.  Jesus told Peter to cast on the right side of the boat.  The catch was unbelievable.  It's recorded in John chapter 21 of the Bible.  Unbelievable is how life is meant to be lived as a gift from God.  "No eye has seen, no ear heard no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.  But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit."  (I Corinthians 2:9ff)

Don't get me wrong, such a life is not without difficulty.  Fishing sometimes requires rising early and if you use a drift boat, long hours of pulling on the oars.  What God has planned for your life is beyond belief if you are willing to follow Jesus.  Jesus said, "I came that you might have life and have it abundantly."  But most of us are still fishing from the wrong side of the boat.  Perhaps, even in an area marked "No Fishing."  And we wonder why we are in trouble.  There is some great news, God loves fisherman and there are promising waters ahead for anyone who will believe and obey Jesus.

By the way,  Jesus didn't like fishing without catching either,  nor did he like an empty banquet table,
or sheep that were lost without being found.  And he would rather die than live without you in His presence.

Yours and His,

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm not sure where I got the quote.  It was one of those sentences I wrote down while reading a book but I didn't write down the book title, author, or page number.  Kay will testify I do the same with phone numbers.  I have phone numbers written on pieces of paper or sticky notes, no names just phone numbers!  She asks, "Why do you do that?"  My response is, "If you want to know who it is just call the number."  Anyway, here is the quote:  "The greatest danger in the church today is casual Christianity, people who profess faith in God yet live a life in which that faith makes little or no difference at all.  The classic illustration is told by Tony Campolo:  He was walking late one night in  Boston when a robber confronted him for his wallet.  Tony explained that he was just a poor Baptist preacher and didn't have any money.  The thief responded, "Isn' that something, I'm a Baptist too."  It's like a politician who says, "I will not allow my faith to interfere with my politics."  Calvin Miller has written:  "Unless we integrate the Christ of Sunday and the everyday Jesus we shall never arrive at wholeness."  Just to make the point, let me ask one more time,  "Are people surprised by the difference Jesus makes in your life or are they surprised that he makes no difference at all?"

Yours and His,


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turnaround the New Year

A friend was visiting large churches in sothern California to find out how the college she was representing could better serve the church.  After the initial research was done and the staff of
a relatively large church was dismissed the senior minister made and interesting confession.  "We are growing but there is no real change in people's lives."  George Barna confesses that after 30 years of doing research on churches in America, "I had worked with a number of organizations and devout individuals who were just as excited as I was about making a difference in the world, and together we had played our respective roles in the ongoing cultural and spiritual battles with passion and intensity.
But nothing had changed....In my weaker moments, my assessment of the church in America was that it couldn't have found the path to victory if  Jesus Himself had been holding a neon road sign pointing the way." (Futurcast, Introduction)  Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."  Many times over the years I have heard this text quoted as an invitation to those outside the church to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The context is clear, this is an invitation to the Church to repent and turn back to Jesus.  One of my mentors used to say the reason there is so little difference between the world today and the church is not because the world has become more holy.  I have always liked a little paraphrase of I Peter 4:4  "Are people surprised by the difference Jesus makes in your life, or are they surprised that he makes no difference at all."  Plato said, "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light."

How much difference would it have made if our founding fathers had said,  "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unaienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the persuit of what is right."  May this be our pursuit in 2012.

Yours and His,