Sunday, January 26, 2014

Speaking the Same Language

My six year old grandson had a conversation with his sister a few mornings ago on the way to school.  He said out of the blue, “Addi I need to get a new girlfriend.” She responded “What girlfriend?” He said, “My girlfriend at school. I think it’s time to break up.” Addison starts laughing and says, “Brody I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”  “Yea, she’s Spanish, but I gotta breakup.” She asked “why Brody?” “Cause every time she gets mad at me I can’t understand a thing she says---she starts speakin that crazy language. Addison said laughing…”Well Brody, I don’t know what to tell you. He replied, “well I’ll tell you Addi…I’ve gotta get me a girlfriend that speaks my language.” This humorous story prompted me to ask a question, “Is there times when God wishes He had another people? Does He ever get weary because we often speak a different language?” Lest some misunderstand, the language I’m speaking of is not that of Spanish, French, German, or even English.  All of these are unique and beautiful; the creation of God given to each ethnic group for unity and connectivity. No, the language I have in mind has to do with love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness. Sometimes we humans are not on the same wave length as God.  A good case in point is the story of the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus. The religious crowd spoke words of judgment but God used the language of grace. And we can’t forget about Zaccheus who was considered the off scour of the community; while described as a despicable sinner, the Master clothed him with sensitivity making him a saint. Yes, we have to admit that there are times when we communicate differently from God. However, the same opportunities Jesus had, we have. We are destined to meet those who have been labeled losers; people who have been beaten and bruised by the thoughtless remarks of humanity. In doing so we are called upon by the Father to speak words seasoned with compassion that help to heal the wounded. In other words we are invited to join forces with the Creator who formed and created us in His image in order that we could speak the same language.           

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Does Faithful Praying Work?

In the small Texas town of Mt. Vernon, Drummond's Bar began construction on a new building to increase their business. The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck and it burned to the ground. The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that it was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means. The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, "I don't know how I'm going to decide this case. It appears that we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not." If the same judge had been assigned to the case involving the early church in Acts chapter 12, he may have rendered an identical verdict. Peter was in prison; several members were praying earnestly for his release and guess what--it happens.  Their faith and persistent praying brought about a miraculous release. Upon being set free the apostle heads to the house of Mary where everyone has gathered and knocks on the door. A damsel named Rhoda recognizes who it is and runs to tell those inside that the beloved leader is standing outside. Their reply at first was “you are mad.” However, this little girl is persistent, so they decide she has seen an angel. All the meanwhile, Peter continues to knock and someone finally opens the door. Immediately they are all astonished almost beyond belief. How could this be? Someone has said, “The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.” Why is it that we like the aforementioned seem to doubt our faith and the power of prayer?  We should not be surprised when God moves on our behalf. When we follow the instructions given we should trust that the door of opportunity will swing open over and over because faithful praying really does work!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Enemy Number One—Fear

Charles Sawyer, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce (under Harry Truman), told about the planeload of people flying across the Atlantic; a voice came on the intercom: “We are now flying at 35,000 feet. If you will notice, out the right window, the two engines on that side are on fire, and the engines on the left had to be stopped. If you look directly below, you will see a yellow sea recovery raft with six small dots on it. The dots are the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, and two hostesses. This is a recording.” Have you ever wanted to bail out when experiencing fear?  I think we all have. However, to capitalize upon the moments God places before us, we have to learn to live beyond our fears.  I ask “What are you afraid of and how is that fear affecting your life.”  If you look around you will see people doing some pretty weird things when becoming fearful.  What is it that you are doing or not doing because of fear? I think this could very well be our number one spiritual enemy. It certainly was a force recognized by Paul, and being so he wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7 God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” To many, fear is the barrier that keeps them from utilizing a gift or a shovel to help them bury a talent. For others it is the door that holds them captive in a dark room or the arena that causes some to give way to public egotism. Regardless of how it affects you, the important thing to know is your enemy can be crushed.  Fear is actually the opposite of faith. The first is formulated by listening to the lies of the devil, the latter by giving heed to the word of God. Because of this, our number one enemy can be crushed and the devil’s lies dismantled when we cling to the facts of scripture rather than mere assumptions. David understood the strategy for victory and revealed it in Psalm 27. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.” Here is a man who has found the secret to dealing with enemy number one. His confidence in the word of the Lord gives him the assurance that all will be well when there is the threat of fear. We have the same guaranteeing us victory even when seemingly being in the face of defeat. So, carry-on but do so without fear! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Things

A few days ago I decided to do something I had never done before.  A church member had given us some freshly cooked apples and Phyllis had bought a can of instant biscuits. Seeing both ingredients on the counter, my imagination got the best of me. I suddenly saw myself making golden brown fried apple pies. Without a second thought I gathered a deep frying pan, added some cooking oil and began the heating process.  While bringing the oil to the appropriate temperature, I popped open the can, began to roll out the dough and add the tasty apple filling. My vision of grandeur was almost complete; the only thing left—the cooking.  Everything had gone as planned up to that point. I grabbed a couple of the neatly fabricated pies and plopped them into the hot burning pan.  That was my first mistake. Suddenly oil splattered everywhere and within seconds the crust was no longer golden but burnt brown; the problem, a degree miscalculation. The burner was way too hot. Added to the oil splatter on the stove was a nice dusting of self-rising flour.  Needless to say it was a mess.  I retrieved the first two pies and proceeded to drop another batch when in walked Phyllis. She was not a happy camper. All men know that a lady’s kitchen is her private domain. It is not to be invaded and if by chance husbands choose to trespass they are never to break the cardinal rule—it is not to be left in disarray.  Immediately she went into the reaction mode—you have made a mess, look at my stove. Having studied conflict resolution I knew the thing needed to stabilize her emotional surge was a delightful peace offering. She would be the first to try my homemade experiment. She grabbed one broke it into and took a bite.  I waited for her response. “It tastes good with the exception of the crust being a little overcooked and the inside a little doughy.” As I looked sure enough the outside was dark brown but the inside needed more attention. This was not so bad my motives were good but my skills inadequate.  Another member who heard about my effort brought us some pies. They were cooked with expertise and tasted wonderful.  What is the point being made—we try a lot of things for the first time.  We may fall flat on our face but God always appreciates the effort and comes behind us with a beautifully composed plan and gift that is a success.  Do not be afraid to try.  He knows how to take a mess and turn it into a masterpiece. However, in doing so it requires someone who is willing to try some first things!