Counterfeit

March 14, 2017

Let me begin with a brief update to my last rumination. I have received no phone call from the Dr’s office so I take that as a good news.  Ellen is anxious for me to call which I will do, but I was told, “No news is good news.”  Now on to more important things…

Years ago I heard a story about how folks learn to detect counterfeit money. I honestly have no idea if this is true, but it makes a great point none the less.  If you want to train people to spot fake money you have two choices:  You can either have them become experts on every deceptive practice and every fake currency.  OR, you can train them to spot authentic money so when they see something that is other than what they know to be genuine, it has to be counterfeit.  Does that make sense?  When you know the real thing it makes it possible to distinguish the false thing.

There are many things in this world for Christians to be involved in, to take a stand on, to demonstrate on behalf of. There have to be thousands of “places” where we can choose to “drive our stakes in the ground.”  Many of them are very worthwhile.  Too many of them are a waste of time or out of order in regard to priorities.  You know, like “save the cockroaches!”  Or “let’s grow better marijuana for those who can make the argument that they NEED it.”  We need more of these sorts of earth shattering kinds of things don’t you think?!

No doubt the world is a complicated place. Very much complicated because of sin.  One of the things I do know about the world is this:  Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It’s interesting to note the difference between the words “conformity” and “transformation.” The prefix “con” means “with.”  So “conformity to the world” literally means to “be with” the world.  And let’s be honest… going back to elementary school when all of a sudden we became aware of “style,” we all wanted to “be with it.”  Right?  At the very least, we DIDN’T want to be social outcasts.  We all remember those kids… or maybe we were those kids.  Either way, it’s painful to recall.  Given a choice, most of us choose to be “with it.”  That attitude or value greatly reflects how we find ourselves adopting the worlds “ways.”  Paul says in Romans that we are clearly NOT called to “conform” to the world but in fact we are called to “be transformed.

The prefix “trans” means to be “above and beyond.” So when Paul says we are to be “transformed” it means we are “…to be above and beyond the standards of this world, not in the sense that we are to elevate ourselves in lofty status above everybody else, but that we are called to a more excellent way of life.” [i]   Why is it that so many Christians look just like others in the world?  I think it has something to do with counterfeit things.  We are caught up in the things of the world because we do not know or recognize what is real and true.  We spend our time and resources spinning our wheels on things that do not draw us closer to The Author of all Life and Truth.

No doubt we all know this verse from the Gospel of John, chapter 14, Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ I certainly do not object to folks fighting for all kinds of causes. But I am very much opposed to Christians taking positions that do not reflect the Truth of Jesus.  Or, frankly having lousy attitudes that do not reflect the grace, peace and love of our Lord!  What does that mean then?  It means that we need to become experts on The Messiah.  We need to be so familiar with Jesus that we can tell when something is contrary to Him.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to cause us to be “transformed” so that we are not walking in lock step with the world.

This is not a process that occurs on one occasion. It is a spiritual reality that comes with maturity, study, vulnerability and hard work.  Do you know the Real Thing well enough to distinguish it from pretenders?  The New Testament is filled with references to people falling for deceptions and false teachings.  You and I are not immune.  If you think you cannot be deceived… you already have been!

No Jesus… no truth.

Know Jesus… Know Truth.

Blessings.

[i] http://www.ligonier.org/blog/how-should-we-be-world-not-it/

Of Colonoscopies and prime numbers…

This past week I went for my once-every-decade colonoscopy.  I could say much about this process, but I will attempt to maintain my dignity (what’s left of it) and refrain from giving you the details.  For those who have gone down this road… in reverse I might add…, I don’t need to tell you.  For those who have not… ah… one more thing in life to which you can look forward.  Anyway, when the procedure was “accompli” (that’s French meaning “done” for you Yinzers reading this) the doctor came to give me his report.  He breezed into my cubicle and said, “You had 17 polyps!”  My insightful first words were, “Wow, that’s a prime number.”  He went on to explain that 17 was a lot.  Actually 17 was 17 more than I was supposed to have.  He then said that he sent half of them out to be tested.  Now assuming they were not sent out for an I.Q. test, or the S.A.T. tests, I’m guessing we’re talking about cancer testing.  But here is what really troubled me.  I mean, if I remember correctly, prime numbers are only divisible by themselves and 1.  So when he said he sent “half” of them out for testing… well, how do I interpret that? Is there something he’s not telling me?  Do you know what I mean?  He has to know what a prime number is, right?  It’s all rather troubling.  The good news is this… he concluded by telling me that I get to do this again in 365 days.  Whoo, whoo!

I’m sure you can tell by now that this rumination is about math.  I don’t really know much about math.  It’s not something that we spent a lot of time on in Seminary.  Well actually, it’s something we spent no time on in seminary.  I suspect it’s related to the fact that the Bible doesn’t have much math in it.  Outside of page numbers, chapter numbers, verse numbers, (none of which were placed there by the original authors) and a few other “holy numbers,” there just aren’t many digits to speak of.  My underwhelming “love” of math goes back to my teen years.  In high school I liked Algebra 2 so much that I took it twice.  After completing the second go around I figured I knew so much about Algebra that there was no need to go on to Algebra 3-Trig.  Well and I graduated that year… so…

I should say that there is a field of study in the context of the Faith (both Jewish and Christian) called “Numerology.”  This “discipline” is practiced by folks who believe that there is a complex numbering code in the Bible that holds hidden clues to the future and secret messages from God.  And it’s practiced by those who have NOTHING in the world to do of importance but count words and letters.  These are likely the same people who get a yearly subscription to “The World News magazine” and “The Inquirer.”  I don’t want to be disparaging but… um… these folks are crackpots!  They can tell you what the very middle word in the Bible is, what the middle letter is, what the central verse is.  They can even tell you which chapters in the Bible speak of the assassination of President Kennedy.  (Seriously, look it up.)  I was going to convey all that information, but honestly it’s so complicated, convoluted and moronic that our time would be better spent emptying the lint traps in our dryers.  Oh… right… back to math.

Ellen and I went to see “Hidden Figures” at the movies a few weeks ago.  If you don’t go to the theater much this film is well worth a special trip.  It’s about many important things… math being one of them.  I can’t help but hear about these complex math equations and wonder where God is in all of it.  I mean, God created this universe and somehow He factored math in.  (Get it… “factored.”)  Complex math; mind boggling math; no doubt above Algebra 2 math.  There are some brilliant people walking around who could astound us with their understanding of math and yet…

1 Corinthians 1:25  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 3:19  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”

Romans 11:  33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.       

I gather from those verses that even the wisest and “smartest” of us are but babies when compared to the Author of all math… even those of us who completed Algebra 2… twice.

I say all of that as a reminder that we worship an amazing and complex God.  One who continues to be faithful to His unfaithful creation and One who does not cease to surprise us daily.  If you are inclined to think that you sort of have a handle on God… I would suggest you think again.  We’re all going to be surprised on the far side of the Pearly Gates.

In closing… I would appreciate your prayers related to that prime number thing I mentioned.  Like I said… math is not my strong suit, but I can count off the 7-10 days before I hear if my polyps got a passing grade.

Blessings.

Anger or Grace?

Warning… semi-rant spoiler alert!

A long time ago I knew a woman who had a very different way of viewing the world from me.  We often talked about our conflicting values but, surprise surprise, we actually liked one another.  (And still do.)  I remember on one occasion her saying something like this:  “Do you know what your problem is?!”  (Actually my problems are legion.)  “You are an idealist!  You want to see the best in people and if you can’t see the best you make excuses for why they are not who they should be.”  Truthfully and sadly… that guy is gone.  Something to do with age, maturity, various experiences (some of them not so good)…  Oh, I still have smatterings of that old ideology but not nearly what I once had.  That being said, I do have high expectations for those who claim to know Christ.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hypocrite.  I have high expectations for myself as well, and I often fall short to my continued regret and sorrow.  The desires for Godliness are still there ripping me apart as I also struggle with the “old man.”  You know, the broken sinful one. (Romans 6:6 “We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”) So please do not read this essay as a condemnation of those who do not have their lives all together as I do because, as Paul said in 1 Timothy 1 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  I guess if Paul can admit to his short comings… well…

Let me also make it clear that I am writing to those of you who claim Jesus as your Lord.  Maybe you use different language to describe your faith but in the end… well… it’s about Lordship.  And, in particular, who is yours?  I have little expectation for non-believers other than continued self-centeredness.  When light shines through them, it’s all “gravy.”  I find myself saddened by the anger, vitriol, cynicism, and constant haranguing of “Christians” who do not agree with others on a variety of items whether they be political, theological, topical, etc.  What should we “Christians” be known as in this country in the 21st century?  Are we the “people of the issues?”  Are we “the religious Democrats?”  Are we the “religious Republicans?”  Are we the “religious independents?”  Are we the “Christian Pro-lifers?”  Are we the Christian Pro-choicers?”  Are we the Christian “Obama people?”  Are we the Christian “Trump people?”

Much of what I see on Social media these days by self-proclaimed “Christians” is anything but “Christian.”  Their comments are agenda driven.  They are surely not Jesus driven.  I see no “grace,” or “love,” or “kindness.”   I have not seen one person remind us to pray for those on the opposite side of issues… not prayers for “illness or assassination” as have been abominably mentioned for over 8 years now, but Godly prayers for health, blessed lives, for their families, for wisdom, for their faith….  Nope, I guess we are the “people of the issues”, not “the people of prayer.”  What ever happened to grace, love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness?  These things have somehow gotten lost in our desire to take a stand on political or social concerns.  And I would add that for too many, they have gotten lost in our need to vent our inner anger and rage that likely have more to do with our own sinfulness than the defense of “issues.”  The world needs to hear a whole lot more about “grace and love” and a whole lot less from those who can’t keep their angry pie holes closed.  Just saying.  (Whew!  Good thing I just thought that and didn’t actually write it down.)

I know… someone is going to say, “Well, Jesus got angry.  He even tore up the temple!  Not to mention the fact that he humiliated the religious leaders of the day on numerous occasions.  So, there is Biblical precedent for the expression of ‘righteous anger’.”  Can we be clear on this?  First, no doubt Jesus did those things but they are greatly outweighed by His teachings on love.  Second keep in mind that his outrage is almost without exception directed toward religious leaders who were leading people astray, not toward political types.  Use whatever rationale you want for your anger toward your political enemies, but don’t drag Jesus into it.  This is on you, all on you.  (Well okay you can drag some Old Testament prophets into it if you want.  But keep in mind those prophets were talking to God’s “chosen people” what we might think of as The Church, not to secular politicians.)

I think I’ll conclude with this.  Should we have values that cause us to take on issues?  Of course!  Absolutely!  Without a doubt!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a great German theologian and pastor before and during WW2, was a pacifist when the War began.  He eventually came to the conclusion however, that sometimes evil is so great that there are no options but to stand against it and destroy it.  In time he became part of a plan to assassinate Hitler.  But you also need to know that he came to these conclusions and actions with much soul searching, grief and sadness.  I see little soul searching, grief or sadness by many as they spew their rants to friends, family and on the faceless internet.  I should add that Bonhoeffer was vindictively killed by the Nazis as they saw the war coming to an end.

If your hope is to bring about change consider this challenge:

Take a week (or a month if you dare) and send a message (direct or otherwise) to family, friends, “Facebook friends” and anyone else you choose.  The message is this (use your own words).  I am about the love and grace of Jesus Christ for all.”  You are not allowed “buts,” or explanatory prefaces.  Just love and grace.  No other messages… only this one.

I bet some of you just can’t bring yourself to do it.  The Body of Christ is diminished because that.

      

Of Mice and Mousy Men

Written February 17, 2017

*Editorial comment related to last week’s Rumination.  In the past week Ellen and I have wandered through various venues with literally thousands of people if not 10’s of thousand.  I have not seen more than 30 couples holding hands… just sayin.

At the gracious invitation of Ellen’s younger brother Daniel and his lovely wife Kelly, Ellen and I spent this past week in Orlando Florida.  Seriously I don’t get it.  People talk about Florida likes it’s some sort of “heaven on earth.”  Outside of the perfect weather, exotic birds, beautiful flowers, majestic palm trees, green landscapes, clear blue skies, flawless pot hole free roads, everything Disney, sandy beaches, beautiful resorts, amazing architecture, warm swimming pools, bright sunshine in February and maybe a couple of other things… it really isn’t much different from McKeesport in the winter.  Um… okay… well… maybe it’s a little different.

I am 62 years old and thanks to my daughter Rebekah and her free Disney employee tickets we spent our anniversary at Epcot.  It was WAY cool.  Well, outside of the “space ride to Mars” that I went on ALONE because someone who shall remain nameless refused to go with me.  She missed the opportunity to suffer motion sickness for most of the afternoon after the G forces to clear our atmosphere, weightlessness, and the final crash landing on the Red Planet.  If you haven’t experienced the ride I can’t really help you very much.  I can tell you this however… if you go to Epcot, want to fly to Mars and they give you the choice of “Intense vs less intense”… choose wisely!

Today we drove 90 minutes to Florida Southern College to meet up with Ellen’s older brother John and his wife Carolyn.  (You can see whose family this trip is all about!)  We had no idea that this College has the largest “collection” of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the world.  Normally I’m not into architecture but it was amazing seeing all of these historic structures designed by the greatest architect of the 20th century in a somewhat out of the way place in southern Florida.  We had a wonderful time exploring the campus.  I even got a short private tour of one closed building by the head financial director of the college.  Too long to tell here, but it pays to greet people and to be friendly to them.

Tomorrow we board a plane in the afternoon for the 2 hour flight back home… connecting in Super Bowl losing Atlanta.  Honestly… I’m not a big fan of flying.  I’ll do it, but I avoid it as much as I can.  I would have gladly driven down here but the time taken to do that would have seriously curtailed my opportunities to get sick in Epcot.  I don’t like it when the plane jumps all over the place and I pretty much white knuckle it wherever I go.  I have tried to get a handle on this fear by analyzing the reasons behind them.  I’m pretty sure the anxiety finds its roots, not in the rough flying, but in the potential 600 mile an hour stop on the ground.

That raises an interesting question… is “fear” sinful?  Is it lack of faith in God?  Do you feel guilty when you experience “fear?”  I do at times.  I doubt there are many folks who do not have a fear of something.  The admitting of it is not a strong suit for some.  It may be the obvious things like snakes or heights.  Or it may be things like fear of failure or fear of dreadful things happening to our children or grandchildren.  Admonitions to refrain from fear are found over 100 times in the Bible.  Joshua is told by God’s messenger 3 times in the beginning of the book named after him not to fear.  We’re told in Luke that Jesus’ pours oozed blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.  No doubt taking on the sins of the world, much less the horrors of the cross, were frightening indeed.  Fear, it seems, is not sinful in some situations.  As a matter of fact, it’s a response built into our systems that likely keeps us safe on many occasions.  Would that Eve had had a bit of fear!

So if fear is not in and of itself sinful… when does it become sinful?  I suspect that the line is somewhere tied up in our occasional lack of faith.  When fear debilitates us because our faith is negligible then it has likely become sinful.  When we find ourselves unable to see or follow the hand of God because of our fears then we walk a path that ought to cause us to be afraid.

Years ago I heard a pastor ask this of a group of clergy, “If fear were not a factor in your life, what could you do for the Kingdom of God?”  I was immediately convicted and recognized how my life is controlled by fear.  As I said earlier… I, for sure, have fears.  And I grieve over the things I have not done over the years because I have been afraid.

How about you?  What things could you do in your life or for Jesus if fear were not a factor?

Oh, one more thing… there is no fear in Florida.  Well unless you are afraid of “mice” because there is one giant one here and he seems to be EVERYWHERE!

Blessings

 

 

 

First Love

February 6, 2017

Years ago, Ellen and I knew a couple who were in their early to mid-70’s. They loved each other like two school kids.  Any time we saw them in public, they were holding hands.  The glow on their faces as they talked about one another caused Ellen and I to say, “We want to be just like them when we grow up!”  And we do!  They are both gone now… she having died first.  He joined her in death 5 years later.  I never told them about my admiration for them.  Sadly, I can’t now.

I have a question to ask of those who have been married for a while. Did you hold hands when you were dating and early in your marriage?  If so… why did you stop?  Maybe you didn’t but honestly, I see few couples who hold hands any more.  Why is that?  Some might think that’s a silly question, but I would like an answer.  Have you ever even thought about it before?  Maybe folks object to holding hands because it’s a “PDA.”  Talk about silly… that objection seems to be a bit over the top to me.  Or could it be that when kids come along you don’t have spare hands anymore?  That makes sense on some level, but why don’t folks go back to holding hands after the kids are gone?  Or when they are alone without the kids?  Yeah, see the “kid” excuse doesn’t really work for me.  Wanna hear my theory?  Well, here it is…

I think that when we are early on in dating relationships physical touch is “electric.” Men and women (young men and young women) want to touch and hold one another and they want to be touched and held.  Does this apply to EVERYONE?  I’m sure it doesn’t, but I’m guessing for the vast majority of us…  it’s true.  Then over the course of years something happens.  The “electricity” that was a driving force early on dwindles into a small spark and eventually disappears.  Holding our loved ones’ hand becomes like wearing our old slippers.  “Comfortable” but not ecstatic.  Why do it anymore if we aren’t getting anything out of it, i.e., the spark is gone?  So we don’t.

Ellen and I hold hands pretty much everywhere we go. We even hold hands in the car while I’m driving sometimes.  Guess what?  No spark.  No electricity.  No voltage.  No current…  Just comfort.  Does that sound sad or childish?  I don’t think of it that way at all.  Honestly, I need and desire “emotional comfort.”  Don’t you?  I don’t want to live in a constant state of anxiety or aloneness.  I am grateful to God that there is someone that I can reach out to and know that they will take my hand, love me and comfort me.  That is not sad or childish.  That is the electric part these days!  Not the hand holding but the sharing of life.  Young people who are still experiencing the voltage of touch have not yet learned the power of long standing, sticking to, experiencing together… LIFE with someone.  It’s glorious and cannot be understood until one has done it… seriously.  And as the years go by… it becomes more comfortable and more glorious!  At least that’s my experience.

Can I suggest that for some, their faith journey parallels parts of the story above? Maybe you remember your early days in the faith.  It could have been in a church youth group.  Or maybe you came to faith in your teens in some other form.  Remember the fun and the adventure of those days?  Learning about Jesus with friends.  Maybe going on mission trips together.  Or just hanging out with other Believers.  There was excitement in all of that… or shall I say “electricity.”  Then the years came and went.  You grew up.  You grew older.  You became an adult with adult worries and adult pressures.  You no longer spent time with your Christian friends in a Bible study or group.  Not only was the electricity gone, but you didn’t grow into any old slippers either.  It all just… drifted away.

The Faith for too many folks has become like… I don’t know, “obligation,” if anything at all? What a dreadful place to be.  Something that was once so wonderful and exciting has turned into just another commitment.  Oh, I get it.  Every once in a while, we are reminded of the old spark, but it sputters pretty quickly.  On occasion I have met with old friends who used to be a part of my life when the faith was electric for both of us.  Sadly, on too many occasions they are no longer walking with Jesus.  I enjoy my time with them, but the last thing we are going to talk about are faith issues.  It’s just awkward.  The thing that used to pull us together has become uncomfortable.  How sad is that?

What do we do about all of this? How do we find some perspective on our faith after the electricity seems to be gone?  I can’t say that I know the answer to this for everyone, but I can suggest one thing.  Begin with the notion that the Christian faith is not about a set of rules or a “belief system.” The Christian Faith is about a relationship. In particular, it’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It’s about “knowing and being known” by the Son of God.  It’s about spending time with the One who died for us on a cross.  I’m going to guess that for those who have found their faith to be “obligatory” or “dull,” or even “non existent” it has something to do with the fact that it has been a long time since they worked on their relationship with Jesus.  No wonder their faith has grown weak or died… they don’t know the One the Faith is about anymore!  Once their early faith friends were gone, so was their “Christianity.”

In his book entitled A Case for Faith, Lee Strobel interviews Charles Templeton a past co-laborer with Billy Graham.  At one point in his life, Templeton came to the conclusion that Christianity made no sense to him any longer, so he abandoned all faith and became a self-proclaimed atheist.  Below is part of a striking interview he had with Strobel about Jesus.

“He was,” Templeton began, “the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about him except that this was a form of greatness?”

I was taken aback. “You sound like you really care about him,” I said.

“Well, yes, he is the most important thing in my life,” came his reply. “I . . . I . . . I . . . ,” he stuttered, searching for the right word, ‘I know it may sound strange, but I have to say . . . I adore him!” . . .

” . . . Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. Yes . . . yes. And tough! Just look at Jesus. He castigated people. He was angry. People don’t think of him that way, but they don’t read the Bible. He had a righteous anger. He cared for the oppressed and exploited. There’s no question that he had the highest moral standard, the least duplicity, the greatest compassion, of any human being in history. There have been many other wonderful people, but Jesus is Jesus….’

“Uh . . . but . . . no,’ he said slowly, ‘he’s the most . . .” He stopped, then started again. “In my view,” he declared, “he is the most important human being who has ever existed.”

That’s when Templeton uttered the words I never expected to hear from him. “And if I may put it this way,” he said as his voice began to crack, ‘I . . . miss . . . him!”

The words of an atheist… they miss Jesus. Friends, maybe that has something to do with the lack of electricity for you.  Maybe you just miss Jesus.  Guess what?

Revelation 3:20

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Answer the door why don’t you!

Blessings.

Eternity

January 27, 2017

Many years ago I was visiting an older couple who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  30 years ago that was a scarce event.  I don’t mean that folks are more faithful to marriage now because they are not.  I just mean people live longer so 50 or 60 years of marriage is not at all unheard of these days.  Anyway, this was a couple in their mid to late 70’s.  He was quiet and very kind.  She was… um… not as quiet and… uh… not as kind if you know what I mean.  Maybe a little “cantankerous” would be the best description.  In the midst of our conversation, I discovered what might have been the origins of her… uh… “crankiness.”  Well okay, it’s probably not the origin but it may explain some things about her.

At one point in our chat she proclaimed, “We have been married for 50 years and have never been to a restaurant.” I think I may have said something like “Never?!”  “Never!” was the immediate response.  Naturally, I needed to hear the origins of that story.  “So… how come?” I asked.  He answered definitively, “I hate garlic and onions and you can’t eat at a restaurant without getting those ingredients.  And even if they are not in the food, the food is cooked in a pan that had garlic or onions in it at one time.”  I think it’s fair to say I was speechless.  This was not an allergy thing it was… um… something else.  Don’t get me wrong, if folks don’t want to eat out that’s entirely up to them but the reasoning in this case seemed a bit… over the top maybe?  Unreasonable?  Absurd?  Maybe even idiotic?  And yet it is not beyond us to think in these terms on occasion.

Several types of people come to mind in regard to this way of thinking, the first being “conspiracy theory” folks. I understand that periodically throughout history, organizations and governments have done secret things that they don’t want anyone to know about BUT…  We never landed on the moon!?  It was just a movie?  Do we have any idea how many people would have to be in on that conspiracy in order to keep us deceived?  Seriously?!  And not one person since 1969 has come forward to recant the moon landing or written a “tell all book.”  Not one.  And yet there are still folks who believe it never happened.

Another one I hear regularly; “You know they have a cure for cancer but the drug companies are making too much money on treatment so they don’t want to make the cure known.” That is so dumb I can’t even comment.

My favorite are the folks on Social Media who blindly pass along one falsehood after another in order to support their cause or bring attention to themselves. They don’t take one second to research their “news” they just pass it along as if it were fact.  I personally like the one about Mr. Rogers having been a sniper in Vietnam.  He wore sweaters because his arms were covered with tattoos.  Oh yeah, almost forgot… and he was a convicted child molester.  Seriously, there ARE folks who believe in and perpetuate this nonsense!  Go to http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/mrrogers.asp  Why is it necessary to correct these things if there were no one passing them along? BECAUSE THERE ARE!!!!

Years ago I had a conversation with someone close to me. They wanted to share their thoughts about God.  Too often these conversations do not go well.  I remember them saying,  “Well, I believe that everyone goes to heaven.”  I asked what they based that on, i.e., what or who have you read that would lead you in that direction.  Silence… total silence.  The truth is they had not thought for one second past their own wishes.  They didn’t study, research or contemplate their eternal lives.  Well, at least any longer than it takes to come up with the self-serving notion that “everyone is saved.”

I admit that there are theologians who hold to that idea. It’s called Universalism.  And I respect (but disagree with) those who thoughtfully live their lives with that notion.  But they at least have thought it through!  They have not come to ideas about their ETERNAL LIVES based on rumor, innuendo or some form of self-satisfying, self-gratifying “schlock” theology.  Don’t you think ETERNITY is too long to risk?  Maybe we ought to have something we have considered a little longer and more seriously than, “Yep, that’s what I want to believe… God saves everybody.”  I wish that were true.  I really do.

I just want to encourage you today to think about your faith. Why do you believe the things you do?  Seriously?  We really ought to have some way of talking about what we believe other than opinions that we have formed based on… ourselves.

Consider this: 1 Peter 3:15  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

SNOW (& glory)

January 17, 2017

By the way, you can thank me any time you want… seriously. A personal “thanks” is nice.  Money is always accepted.  A card is thoughtful.  Stuffed cabbage… well the ultimate “thank you,” of course.  Any of the above or some other form of gratitude will be humbly received.  Oh, I’m sorry!  What are you thanking me for?  Well, that’s easy.  8 weeks ago, I bought a snow blower.  Yeah that’s right… a big boy, honest to goodness, manly… snow blower.  Not one of those sissy “snow displacers” with an anemic 5 horse power engine.  Nope, I got the 8 horse, electric start.  I don’t want to blow snow into my neighbor’s yard… I want to blow it into the park down the street.  Yesiree Bob… now all I need is some snow.  You get it?  See what’s going on here?  It’s the middle of January… where the heck is the snow?!

YOU’RE WELCOME!

Two weeks ago we had an inch of snow. One measly inch! I was sorely tempted… I really was.  But even in my frothing snow blowing state of mind, I could see the overkill.  I didn’t want the neighbors laughing at me either:  “Look at the minister… what a moron.”  I’m being toyed with.  The weather gods are laughing at me.

Now truth be told, I have never, ever used a snow blower. Well okay, that’s not entirely accurate… I used one that someone gave me for the whole 5 minutes that it ran before it turned into junk.  I have never experienced the glory of being the monarch of my own clean, snow barren driveway…  Well, at least without being drenched in sweat and heaving for breath.  I can only imagine the overwhelming emotion that will accompany exposed black top and the mountains of cold white stuff that I personally throw out of place.  Ha… I will be THE MAN!  The king of my domain.  I’m pretty sure my expectations are not over blown.  Get it?  “Over blown.”  Get it?  I kill myself!

So what does this have to do with religious stuff anyway?  Hmmmm… Where was I going with this!?  Oh yeah, I remember – Glory!  You can see the obvious connection right?

The word “glory” in various forms is used close to 400 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it comes from a word that literally means “heavy, weighty”, or as we might say “worthiness.”  In other words, when used to describe God or Jesus (the primary subjects in the Bible), it means “one of significance or ‘worth’.”  A few verses to consider:

Exodus 15:11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

 Exodus 24:17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.

Exodus 40:35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

Psalm 3:3  But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Psalm 24:7-8 Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Psalm 66:2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

 Luke 9:26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

 Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Experiencing the Glory of God is not necessarily… um… desirable. If you remember when Moses was on the mountain, God told him to hide as His Glory passed by lest he die.  Ultimately Moses was blinded by God’s Glory.  Glory can be a fierce thing.  And yet it is THE thing we ultimately long for.  We live… or shall I say die… to see the Glory of God; the worthiness of the King of Kings; the Holiness of the One who did not consider equality with God something to be held onto but allowed Himself to be a man and ultimately to die for me… (Philippians 2)… that Glorious One!

You may have some pretty difficult things to deal with today or this week, or maybe not. Can I ask that sometime in the midst of your life in the not too distant future you might… contemplate, meditate on and consider what it means that “your God is Glorious.”  Because if your God is not “glorious” then he, she, or it is hardly worth the time.

Blessings.