Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's all in the Application

I read the story recently of a rabbi and soap maker who went for a walk together. The soap maker had some negative things to say about religion: "What good is religion? Just look around you. What do you see? Trouble, misery, wars - even after all these years and years of preaching and teaching about goodness, truth, peace. What good is religion with all its prayers and sermons if all this evil still exists?” The rabbi kept quiet as they continued their walk. Then they noticed a child playing in the gutter. The child was just filthy with dirt and mud. The rabbi said to the soap maker: "Look at this child! Now you say that soap makes people clean, but what good is it? With all the soap in the world this child is still dirty. What good is soap after all?" The soap maker immediately answered him: "But rabbi, soap can’t do its job if it isn’t used!" The rabbi said, "The same is true with religion." What an incredible truth! While religion is looked upon as being suspect and inefficient by many, God offers so much to us through it.  However, our ability to receive depends upon its application.  Medicines can be prescribed, encouragement offered, advice given, but if not applied these do no good. This is the case with our spiritual lives. Faith, prayer, praise, and submission hold the key to making the facets of religion work. When taken seriously and used effectively they bring peace, victory, joy, and perpetual satisfaction. Dirt requires soap and sin a spiritual remedy, but just not in name only. The benefits are offered but success comes only when the principles are applied. So if you have found yourself being skeptical, doubtful, or disappointed why not try religion. Just remember success is not a given but comes as we participate with God which means it’s all in the application.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Everyone Is Needed

Right now the NFL is working to put together their teams for the 2013/14 season. Although talented and performance driven several players will be cut.  Why? Teams can have only so many on their roster. Selections are made based upon who owners, managers, and coaches feel will give them the best chance at winning. While this is how the sports world handles giftedness, the same is not true of the church. Paul emphasized this in 1 Corinthians 12:14-16. “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” All are a part and all are equally and vitally needed. Dr. Gary Smalley in his book “The DNA of Relationships” remarks “Suppose your heart and your kidneys got into a heated debate about which one most needed a steady blood supply, winner take all. “Hey, I pump blood through the whole body,” declares the heart.  “Without me, every organ dies-including you!” “That may be,” retorts the kidneys, “but if the blood doesn’t go through me, all you accomplish with your incessant pumping is to poison the entire system.  And then guess who dies?” The truth of the matter is, the heart cannot “win” at the expense of the kidneys any more than the kidneys can “win” at the expense of the heart. When we look at this in relation to the kingdom the game is not won with twenty-two carefully selected players while grandstands filled with thousands look on. No, everyone is a player because there’s no one we can do without. Selections are not made during a yearly draft nor games played by a seasonal schedule.  There are no “most valuable player” awards granted because all are gifted and empowered to do their best. So, put on your gear, get off the bench and get onto the field. The Coach of the ages has just called a play and says “for this one everyone is needed.”

Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Amazing Father

This is that time of year when we honor fathers. I am reminded of the story of the three boys who are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50." The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, and they give him $100." The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon. And it takes eight people to collect all the money!" I suppose all of us could give personal accolades that if entered into a contest would make our father a blue ribbon winner. When you think about it there are no adequate words to describe the sacrifice dads make for their children.  While it can be said that some disregard their responsibility, the majority go far beyond the call of duty to provide for the needs of their family.  The reason being—they have the perfect role model to emulate.  The bible is very descriptive in letting us know that our heavenly Father is a loving provider that constantly seeks what is best for His children. He walks behind us covering our past.  He walks with us helping to order our present, and He walks before us helping to secure our future.  He is a “constant present help in the time of need.”  In other words He has us covered. Therefore, we have no need to worry or be afraid.  To do so is to doubt His faithfulness and His presence in our lives. Elizabeth Cheney explains the anatomy of doubtful behavior when writing:  

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow, I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings rush around and worry so,
Said the Sparrow to the Robin, Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father, Such as cares for you and me.”   

In our celebration of Father’s day may we not sit in the audience of the anxious, but may we be overwhelmed with confidence knowing that we have “An Amazing Father.”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Cost of Rebellion

A little boy was being rather rowdy and his mother was doing her best to calm him down. Finally after several attempts at trying to get him to behave she came over grabbed him and sat him firmly upon a seat demanding he stay there.  He looked at her and then said, “Mom I may be sitting down but I’m standing up on the inside.”  That humorous story explains the behavior of a lot of people. It also exemplifies an attitude of rebellion which is something God hates.  All of us meet authority at different levels of our lives. Thus, it is something we cannot dismiss or avoid, especially in the spiritual realm.  If the believer wants to have authority he or she must first submit to it. This often presents a challenge because we tend to justify obedience on the basis of our agreement or disagreement with authority. If we agree we obey. If we disagree we offer complaint or protest. However, God has not given us the option to respond according to our own whims. He simply requires obedience.  And to refuse is to invite His judgment upon our lives. Not only are we to submit to Him but also to those over us in the Lord.  Paul describes it like this, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). John Bevere agrees in his book Under Cover and states; “We cannot separate our submission to God’s inherent authority from our submission to His delegated authority….There is freedom in submission and bondage in rebellion.” One only has to do a random study on the lives of such Biblical characters as Adam, Eve, Saul, Miriam and Korah to discover that rebellion is too far great a price to pay for temporary spiritual volition.  God’s favor and authority come through submission. While He hates rebellion He loves obedience and sees it as the highest form of worship. So when it comes to compliance let it not be said that we are sitting down but standing on the inside. Rather, let us live our lives in obedience both inwardly and outwardly.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"No Purchase Necessary"

My ten year old granddaughter recently attended a church service where there was an utterance in tongues given.  Afterwards she asked her mother if she would purchase the Rosetta Stone course for her so she could learn to speak in tongues. While Addison was innocent in her request we read of a man named Simon in Acts chapter 8 that was not.  He was involved in sorcery and loved to be considered “the great one.” Following is the account as given by Luke: “Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God.” This was quite a rebuke but totally necessary. There are two things about God that we must always remember.  One, He loves to provide the power of the Holy Spirit as well as other gifts we need. Just as importantly, He loves to provide those things for free.  While we are so accustomed to patronizing stores that display items for a suggested price; God operates just the opposite.  He offers us grace, gifts, and glory with a sign attached, “No Purchase Necessary!”  So why not capitalize on His offer—nothing pleases Him more.