I hope that this will be a sweet day of thanksgiving and blessing for you as we give thanks for the goodness of our kind heavenly Father, who makes His sun shine on all of us whether we acknowledge Him or not, and who sends His rain of refreshing on us all whether we acknowledge its source or not.
As He is a blessing to us may we learn to be a blessing to others in our Lord Jesus - as Black Friday intrudes even upon Thanksgiving...may we be givers and not consumers. Nothing we can buy tonight or tomorrow can fulfill our greatest hunger or the hunger of those we love - only our Lord Jesus can do that - may we intentionally share Him with others as we enter into Advent.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
A runny nose is one thing, excessive salivation is another. We normally associate a runny nose with having a cold; salivation is often associated with a stroke or madness. People do not normally salivate excessively; it is abnormal for entire populations to excessively salivate - at least it once was abnormal...but no more.
We have friends and coworkers excessively salivating, communities salivating, an entire nation salivating - our excessive salivating puts Pavlov's dogs to shame - they produce a trickle of salivation compared to our Niagara.
Like Pavlov's dogs we have been conditioned; as Black Friday approaches our habits change, our Thanksgiving changes from what it once was, our time with family changes, our spending changes. We think we are smart by taking advantage of Black Friday "savings", we think we are even smarter by taking advantage of Black Friday sales that begin on Thanksgiving - no matter that this means we pay lip service (or stomach service) to Thanksgiving, no matter that others must work so that we can gorge on materialism.
We think we are smart, but our excessive salivation reveals that we are but following in the paw prints of Pavlov's dogs...no doubt they thought they were smart too. Considering that Pavlov's dogs were few but we are many...perhaps we are more akin to a pack of rats.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Early one morning, as the fog hovered just above the trees, I was riding my motorcycle outside Huntington, MA, heading north, when coming around a curve I saw a mother fox and her kits playing in the road. It was a fleeting scene, for my presence caused them to flee; only a moment or two – but it was a lasting moment. The joy of the mother and pups running in circles and jumping brought joy to my heart. The early-morning ride occurred some fourteen or fifteen years ago, but the memory still brings joy and pleasure to me.
I remember how the rest of my ride that day was flavored with the delight of seeing the foxes and how I couldn’t wait to share my experience with Vickie.
This past Monday morning there were three adolescent foxes playing in our backyard; running in circles, jumping on each other, rolling over, leaping into piles of leaves – but this time, as Vickie and I enjoyed watching them, it was not a fleeting moment as it was outside Huntington, MA, but at least forty-five minutes of wonder, forty-five minutes of delight, forty-five minutes of a glimpse of heaven. Innocence at play is a preview of heaven, and perhaps nowhere do we see such innocence as in creation that has yet to encounter the hand of man and the general decay of the earth in its fallen condition.
Jesus wants His joy to be in us and He wants our joy to be full (John 15:11; 17:13) – this is not a joy of passing euphoria, but a joy that transcends circumstances and the vicissitudes of life; it is a joy of innocence, a joy without guile – rather simplistic it may seem, yet profound in actuality; profound because its source is God – not the trite little gods of temporal pleasure and narcissism and materialism – but the God who created and redeemed us to be His sons and daughters.
If earthly parents take pleasure in playing with their children – how much more does our heavenly Father look forward to playing with us?
Monday, November 3, 2014
Three times sealcoating contractors have stopped by our home to give us pricing on coating our asphalt driveway. Each time, had I said “yes” we would have wasted our money. They all stopped because they saw either Vickie or me outside – I wonder if the fact that we are “senior citizens” had anything to do with their attempt to separate us from our money.
The last time was typical. The contractor stops, says he is doing work in the immediate area, notices that our driveway needs sealing (which it does), and asks if he can give us a price. I say “yes” and he then measures the driveway and tells me the price. I tell him that I’m going to get other bids, he then says that if I do the work today that he’ll give me a special price, which turns out to be around $500.00 lower than his first price; he tells me his boss (who is not with him) will only allow him to give me the “special” if the work is done today. I thank the contractor and tell him I’ll wait to get bids.
What none of the contractors tell me, but which I know from being in property management, is that there are two sections of our driveway that need repair and that sealcoating these sections will only mask what will become a serious problem if not corrected. If the repairs are not done soon the problem areas will grow and our driveway will be undermined – costing us thousands of dollars to dig out and fill with new asphalt. Sealcoating may make the driveway look good in the short term but a day of reckoning will come.
We had a reputable contractor come and repair the problem areas and next spring he’ll be back and sealcoat our driveway to protect the asphalt – it was too late in the year for the sealcoating to have worked well – the reputable contractor did not want us to waste our money.
One of the great disciplines of life is that of not glossing over our sins – whether individual or collective. When I was younger I was engaged in one great sealcoating project in my own life, I ignored problem areas in my character by pouring religious sealcoating on them in the forms of emotions and new teachings and new experiences and action…lots of action. A moving target is hard to hit, a life in perpetual motion is a life not likely to stand still under the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. The teaching I exposed myself to was designed to make me feel good, the music and lyrics were geared to make me feel good; I had little, if any, awareness of my narcissism, a narcissism nurtured and unchallenged by my popular Christian environment.
Another way to state the above discipline is to say that one of the great disciplines of life is to allow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to examine our hearts and minds on an ongoing basis, to submit to Christ in repentance to the conviction of sin and unrighteousness and character defects that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit reveal in us. To say with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (Psalm 139:23 – 24).
We need to know who we are in Christ, we need to know our identity in Him and to know that the Trinity lives within us – but we also need to know that the Trinity does not come to us in order to gloss over sin, for Christ Jesus came to atone for our sins and became the object of Divine judgment on our behalf, bearing our sins on the Cross. To gloss over my sin is to gloss over the death of Jesus Christ.
There are a lot of sealcoating messages in the church world, promising us a good price today if we will only avail ourselves of today’s “special” – they lead to eventual ruin.
Is there something in my life today that I am glossing over?
What about you?
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account,” (Hebrews 4:12 – 13).
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Today I received an envelope that proclaimed, above my name and address: WARNING: $2000 FINE, 5 YEARS IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH FOR ANY PERSON INTERFERING OR OBSTRUCTING WITH DELIVERY OF THIS LETTER. U.S. MAIL, TTT.18 US. CODE.
It also had the make, model, and year of one of our cars. When I opened the envelope I was greeted with: IMPORTANT VEHICEL PROTECTION INFORMATION – PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY (and then a phone number).
I was then informed that my vehicle’s warranty had expired and that unless I wanted to take the risk of significant out-of-pocket expenses that I had better call the number and purchase protection. I wonder how many consumers call the number. I wonder how many owners of my particular make and model and year vehicle call the number. I hope none do because my vehicle has a 100,000 mile warranty and it would be a waste of money to purchase protection for a car that is already protected. Plus, why would I care to do business with a firm that uses deceptive business practices? But people must buy into the scam – otherwise why would they send these mailings?
I see the same thing in the church world, people think they have to add something to the Gospel, add something to the word of Jesus Christ, add something to secure their salvation. They seem to think that the warranty that comes with Jesus Christ is going to expire, that God’s grace and mercy in Christ is not good for the long haul.
The Galatians thought they needed to add religious works to secure God’s warranty, and Paul writes, “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3).
The Colossians seemed to want to cover all the bases, they were into keeping the Law, and dabbling with pseudo angels; if legalism wasn’t the trick then there was always Gnosticism (New Age). (See Colossians Chapter Two).
And the Corinthians! From sectarianism to false apostles to undue emphasis given to certain gifts, they were all over the board.
Why isn’t Jesus enough for us? Why do we insist on adding something to His Person and work? Why do we let people convince us that they have something to add to what Jesus has done? Why do Christians buy into religious scams that claim to make their heavenly warranty secure?
I knew the mailing I received was bogus because I’ve read the warranty on my car. Oh I wish Christians would read their Bibles and talk to one another about the Scriptures – we would be a lot less likely to buy into the next spiritual warranty that comes in the mailbox of life, that seeks to replace or supplement our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel.