Sunday, August 26, 2012

Just on Loan...

Readings: I Chronicles 29:10-20

During the rein of King David, he attempted to build the finest temple the world had ever seen. God had other plans, however, so the duty fell upon Solomon, his son, after he took possession of the crown. While the magnificent structure was being planned and David was collecting provisions for the undertaking, he prayed the following prayer:

"Praise be to you, O Lord, God our Father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name" (29:10-13). 

David then goes on to point out something very liberating to us all: "Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand" (29:14). "O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building  you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand and all of it belongs to you" (29:16).

Everything we have...our time, our possessions, our very lives...are on loan. It really puts things in perspective. Probably one of the best loans we'll ever receive, no doubt--but a loan nevertheless. All the fuss about what to wear, how to decorate our homes, how we appear to those around us--not really that big of a deal after all. Our sole purpose is to take the abundant blessings we're given and to use them to help those around us. That pleases God more so than all the latest and greatest of anything.

So, the next time we feel like we're not quite good enough because we're not where someone else is financially or otherwise, just's just a loan. 

We're given this loan interest free and unconditionally. What we do with this miraculous loan truly determines our respect for it.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear Politicians...

Readings: Proverbs 25:11-14, Ephesians 4:2, Luke 14:1-11

Dear Politicians...

I'm concerned...concerned that you freely use the name of God to support your ideas, your wants, your needs.

I'm concerned that words apparently mean little...even the words of God. If you all truly followed the word of God, you would eliminate the hate from your speech. "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver"(Proverbs 25:4) Where are the words aptly spoken?

Boasting about your abilities, your skills, your ability over your opponent' many empty words. "Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boats of gifts he does not give" (Proverbs 25:14).

The posturing, the name-calling, the negativity and ugliness of words toward one another. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3).

How about truly practicing what you're "preaching" instead of bombarding all of us with the venom that has become commonplace and turned this country increasingly ugly? Let's bring it back to what you claim it to nation under God.

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).

Thank you and Peace Be With You.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Parenting 101

Readings: Job 5:17-26; Ephesians 3:13-21; Luke 7:11-16

All of us have been involved some way in parenting--we either are parents or we've been parented. It's a topic we can all weigh in on since we're a been there, done that group.

I think we can all agree that parenting styles have changed over the decades--dads, in particular, have gone from parenting after work and on weekends to making themselves available most all the time. With moms becoming more a part of the workforce, the dads of today have stepped up in sharing more of the responsibilities of rearing the kids. When the dads of today take on this role, they certainly have the perfect role model--God...the ultimate parent. "Happy is the person who God corrects! Do not resent it when he rebukes you" (Job 5:17). Talk about Parenting 101...could we ask for a better teacher?

The finest things any parent anywhere can give to a child are the gifts of ultimate love and faith. This trumps the latest and greatest toys, gadgets, or vacations. These gifts from God never wear out--they only get better. A beautiful couple of verses in Ephesians seems a wonderful way to share this gift with a child, no matter what age: "I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you will have roots and foundations in love so that you, together with all God's people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep is Christ's love. Yes, may you come to know love--although it can never be fully known--and so be completely filled with the very nature of God" (3:17-18). 

Do we ever get parenting completely right? Probably not. But we do have a guide full of lessons in the Bible. All throughout the New Testament as Jesus was on his mission while on Earth, he dealt with parent after parent. We know his compassion was always with them and he gave them hope. Christ blessed children wherever he went. He blessed the parents as well. In several instances in his journey he would encounter a parent who was grieving over the loss of a child. In some cases, he would miraculously bring that child back to life. In other cases, he would mourn with the parents. "When the Lord saw her, his heart was filled with pity for her" (Luke 7:13). We read in several instances that Christ gave very sound advice to the parents of that time--that advice still holds just as strongly today. 

So, when parents of children of all ages get a little weary of knowing the right thing to do for their children, we all need to remember to shove those parenting books aside and look to the ultimate Parenting 101 guide...all the advice we need is right there--and the support team is beyond compare!

Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

This Worry is Not For Us

Readings: I Kings 17:8-16, Galatians 5:25-6:10, Matthew 6:24-34

Worry. It's epidemic. 

Since I've gotten involved in the study of reflexology, I've read article after article of studies done on the stress that comes from worry. We tend to worry about anything and everything. The Bible speaks to this: "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" (Matthew 6:31) Sound familiar?

When we think about it from a spiritual point of view, it seems pretty minor--yet how many billions of dollars each year are spent on having just the right look? How many arguments will there be this next week over what kids should or will want to wear to school? 

This worry is not for us. We're told instead to "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these (other) things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). 

The drought this summer has brought with it another pile of worries. Are we told that things are always going to work our way? No indeed. Instead, we are told to "let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). This verse in particular reminds me of the farmers who dedicate so much to their craft. Not giving up is the bottom line in farming. Crops have been replanted after devastating weather. They pick up the pieces and keep doing good. "Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Galatians 6:10). We know that farmers are people of faith and can they be otherwise? In our own way, we can "farm" our faith as well in our day to day lives. And we all know, if we're busy farming, we don't have time to worry.

In I Kings we read the story of Elijah going to the widow's home and asking her for food. She replied that she was gathering fire wood to fix the last of the food in the home for her and her son and then they would perish. And Elijah? He told her not to worry, and there would be enough food...and there was. 

"So therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).

This worry is not for us.

Peace be with you.