Which One Are You?

There's an old story told of two farmers who were in desperate need of rain. Both prayed for rain, but only one prepared his field to receive the rain. Which one trusted God to provide the rain? Which one are you?

I like this story, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable for I know that I often pray to God, but then do nothing until I find out if He will do His part. How foolish! God will always do His part, so the only question is whether or not we will do ours.

As I was thinking and praying in the disappointing aftermath of this week's election, it dawned on me: I was asking God for something that cost me nothing. In other words, I wanted Him to rescue me from the evil around me, without doing my part. For instance, have I really done anything to try to prevent the immorality that goes on in our nation? Have I done anything to try and stop abortion? Have I... prepared my field to receive the rain that I am so earnestly praying for?

Or, am I just expecting Him to do everything? This type of expectation is not faith, as some might believe, it is a hope for spiritual welfare. If we want God to answer our prayers favorably, then we have to be willing to do our part. So, go ahead and pray for your needs, God wants us to rely on Him. But, after we pray, we better get ready to receive the rains. 

Otherwise... what good would it do us, anyway?

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him?

James 2:14, NIV

 

9|11 Where Were You?

Where were you... when the planes crashed into those towers?

It's a question that just about everyone over the age of 20 can answer. Not only do most remember where they were, they remember what they were doing. It was one of those moments where time just seemed to be suspended, while we all tried to process what was going on.

I remember I was walking through the hall at my house that morning when the phone rang. One of the men from the church was on the line to let me know what had happened. I quickly turned on the news and watched the live events unfold as they reported what was at the time thought to be a terrible accident. Then, the unthinkable happened: While the world watched the footage of the burning Trade Tower, a second plane flew into the other tower. I sat in stunned silence as it dawned on me that this was no accident. But... who would do such a thing?

As each day went by, we learned not only who had done this awful thing, but why. It was heartbreaking.

But, before the ashes were cold from these hateful acts, something remarkable happened: People started to think differently. Instead of thinking of things, they started thinking of people. Families and friends, long parted, contacted one another just to see if they were alright. People started thinking of the well-being of not only their loved ones, but of complete strangers.

And... people started to pray again - not for power or money or stuff, but for others. The pews in churches across America started to fill up again on Sundays as people sought the peace and comfort that can only come from God. And, the terrorists failed, at least for the moment, because we became stronger not weaker.

But now, the pendulum has swung once more. Americans are back to thinking about their money and their power and their stuff. Strangers are strangers, once again. The prayers have tapered off and the pews are a bit emptier. And, if we are not careful, we will become vulnerable once again - not to attacks from hateful men, but to the thoughtlessness of indifferent men.

We must not, dear friends, let that happen. We may not be able to fully protect ourselves from the evil attacks of evil men, but there is something that we can do: We can remember not only where we were when we drew closer to God and our fellow men on that fateful day... but we can also remember who we were. Who are you, today?

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV 

 

Where Do You Want to Go From Here?

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. 

Anon.

 

Zig Ziglar tells the story of a large southern community that had a garbage dump close to town. As with all growing cities, the dump just got too close to be pleasant and something had to be done. So the people stopped dumping garbage there, removed what they could, and then covered the rest with clean fill dirt. Then they built a large shopping center which employed hundreds and served thousands.

 

There is a lesson in this story for those who would take the time to learn. How many times have we seen people who have made a big mistake or a series of small mistakes that rendered their lives, for the lack of a better phrase, a garbage dump? I suspect that we have all been in that very situation a time or two ourselves - but what can you do? Well, you could do what the people in that town did!

 

So, how do we go about getting rid of a garbage dump of our own making?

 

The first step to getting rid of a garbage dump is to stop dumping garbage. I know this seems obvious, but many miss this step and are doomed to being surrounded by filth. The second step is to remove the garbage that can be removed. The third step is to cover over the garbage that cannot be removed. The fourth, and perhaps most critical step, is to build something beautiful in its place.

 

Would this work for you, or for someone you know? Aren't we all called to repent - to stop dumping garbage? Aren't we all called to wash away our sins - to get rid of the garbage we have dumped? Aren't we all called to walk a newness of life - to build something beautiful in it's place? Today really is the first day of the rest of your life,- with all of the promise and potential that a new life holds. if you just decide to make it so. God does not want us to live in a garbage dump. He has called us to something better! Why not accept His call?

 

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For He says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. 

II Corinthians 6:1-2, NIV

 

When Life is too Complicated, Simplify

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo DaVinci

Sometimes I think we make things way more complicated than we should. There was a news story the other day about a little boy who was being disciplined at school for pointing his finger like it was a gun. It seems that the school had a zero tolerance policy on weapons in school and the little boy had violated it. The school's position was based on that thorny issue of where to draw the line on zero tolerance. I have a suggestion for them: Common sense!

I have a friend who traded a kid for his Dad's souvenir bazooka shell on his way to school one morning in the 1960's. Since he couldn't go back home and risk being late for school, he just brought his new prized possession on to school with him. He was quite a hit with the other kids that morning. He was also quite a hit with his principal, who called him into the office to determine if he had lost his mind or just his judgment. When the proper determination was made, the matter was closed. Pain was involved, a lesson was learned, and the matter was settled. No lawyers were needed... when men and women used simple common sense.

Oh, for the days when principals were allowed to use common sense.

Now, I realize that we live in an era where kids cannot be permitted to bring bazooka shells to school, but that's not the point. The point is that when society cannot distinguish between weapons of mass destruction and a six year-old's finger, we may have made things too complicated. It's time to simplify!

The same is true in our service to God. We have so many intellectuals in religion today that we are ruining Christianity. So many people are teaching so many things about Christian living that we begin to wonder if anyone can understand what God's will is. But we can, you know - God was not incompetent in the giving of His word, nor was He being tricky. The solution to the problems of every day life isn't all that complicated: It's to simplify! We don't need lawyers to tell us how to handle six year-old fingers, nor do we need experts in the law to tell  us what God really meant. We just need to read the Bible ourselves and then do what it says.

My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6, NIV

Seek and you will find. Matthew 7:7, NIV

 

When did Profanity become Acceptable?

Frankly my dear...                                                                                                                                           

We don't even have to complete the sentence as nearly everyone knows the rest of the phrase by heart. It was scandalous when first uttered in 1939, but scandal sells so well... in America. The voices of concern were drowned out by the "adult" voices of that era (insisting that those offended should just grow up) and that hole in the dyke of virtue has since become a tidal wave that has flooded our society with every type of unholy and profane speech imaginable.

When I was a kid, Beaver Cleaver would have been skinned for the mildest profanity, Opie Taylor would have been banned from Mayberry, and Father Knows Best would have been promptly cancelled had father or mother uttered just one of the words that are so frequently heard in the popular "family" shows of our era. Even today's conservative news and talk show hosts would have been banned from the airwaves just a few short years ago, for the type of language that passes for the commonplace in our modern, "grown up" society.

What has happened to us? What has happened is that we have become numb. Even some of our public school teachers, coaches and many of our college professors find it difficult to construct a simple sentence without spicing it up with a choice word or two.  Once a language reserved for the most base of men, profanity is now the playground for many of our teen aged daughters and the proving ground of the modern business woman.

It is time, I believe, for a change. Perhaps we should consider if profanity is the type of language that we would use in the presence of the Lord (and He is in our presence, you know). Perhaps we should once again respect one another, and maybe even have a bit more respect for ourselves. Perhaps it is time to clean up our language again and just grow up.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Col. 3:7-8, NIV