The Ascent Church in Monument, Colorado is in the process of selecting new elders. Two of us, who are currently on the elder board, recently met with one of two prospective elders to gauge whether he would be a good addition to our team. The process will continue with several more meetings with our pastors and elders and, then if nominated, the congregation will vote to bring them on as elders. It is a solid method and it works well for our church.
1 Timothy 5:22—Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Zephaniah 3:15,16--The Lord has removed your punishment; He has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, Yahweh, is among you; you need no longer fear harm. On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
Have you ever been in a situation where no matter what action you took nothing good was likely to happen? We call this “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” In 1917 a lack of funding caused by an earlier banking crisis led to a dispute between copper mining companies and mineworkers in Bisbee, Arizona. The workers, some of whom had organized in labor unions, gave their company management a list of demands for better pay and conditions. Management refused their request and many workers at the Bisbee mines were forcibly deported to New Mexico. “Given that the mineworkers were faced with a choice between harsh and underpaid work at the rock-face on the one hand and unemployment and poverty on the other” this is probably the source of the phrase.
I heard an excellent message from a pastor recently about not defending ourselves when we are betrayed or attacked. His point was that no matter what we say in defense we cannot undo the damage and we may actually make things worse. If we have done what is right and are slandered, lied about, or smeared unfairly, the best course of action is to continue to live our lives righteously and trust God for the results. If close friends ask what is happening, we may share with them . . . The point is: don’t retaliate, defend, or excuse ourselves.
This is not easy. To hold our peace when warred against is like watching mosquitoes take blood and not swatting them. Why would we do that?
What causes people to be downcast? I would surmise in most cases it is because of unfavorable circumstances. We want something that does not materialize. We deal with sickness. An enemy is a relentless grief-flinger. “Sixty students who had attempted suicide were asked why they had wanted to end their lives. The majority, 85 percent, said they had tried to kill themselves because their lives seemed meaningless and without purpose . . . Without purpose we lose motivation and sometimes lose health and even lose life.” Without understanding God’s ever-present love we are destined for despair.
There is a passage in the Talmud that says, “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” It is easy to be pessimistic if our perspective is rooted in the wrong place.
Genesis 12:10-13—There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine in the land was severe. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me but let you live. Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.”
The story of Abraham would make a great movie. Knowing how attractive his wife was and what the Egyptians were like, he was correct in being concerned. Pharaoh’s
It is impossible: to fly with only our human body; to please everyone; to live perfectly; to know everything; to escape aging; to run faster than every animal; to swim across the ocean; to be invincible; and, to list everything that is unattainable. Because of impossibilities we are weak, vulnerable and headed for judgment. But, because of possibilities, the same reality holds true.
On my way to Kuwait, Kathleen dropped me off at the Colorado Springs airport. As I prepared to go through security I realized I forgot to pack my laptop. Quickly I calculated how long it would take Kathleen to get home and retrieve it. I then checked with security and the United ticket counter to see how much time I actually had before the plane departed. Fortunately, despite heavy traffic, my wife was able to get my computer to me and I arrived at the gate seven minutes before it was supposed to close. Ironically, the flight was delayed.
Donna sat next to me on my plane flight home. I was blessed to get to know this incredible woman. Donna is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HMS, a company she started. As she shared with me some of her life story I was most impressed by her humility and her sense of gratefulness.
At Jerry Delmark’s memorial service during the time of sharing multiple people got up and testified that he was an authentic Christian. He walked his talk. He loved God. He was a hard worker. He made a difference in the lives of those around him. I know this to be true because Jerry had a tremendous impact on our oldest son Bryan. Yet while the tributes were fittingly positive, it was Jerry’s daughter, Jackie, who subtly took us to a harder place. Yes, she cherished his humor and loving parenting but quietly she wondered why he had to suffer so painfully in the final leg of his journey. Her question was not addressed to us but to God.
Mark 16:10-13—She went and reported to those who had been with Him, as they were mourning and weeping. Yet, when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. Then after this, He appeared in a different form to two of them walking on their way into the country. And they went and reported it to the rest, who did not believe them either.
He stood to my left with the most perplexed look on his face. No matter which sink the teenager chose to extend his hands, water would not come out of the metal pipes. They were invisible under the sensors which should have triggered action. I left that men’s room in Baltimore Washington International airport laughing, thinking of all the times the same thing happened to me.
When I look back on my life, one of the scariest memories I have was the time I was rock climbing. Somehow I got into a position where I was stuck. I was frozen to a giant slab of granite knowing I had to move but scared that if I lost my grip I would plummet far enough that my chances of getting badly hurt were considerable. I still remember asking for God’s help and for the immediate peace that came over me as He answered.
As hurricane Irene approached the eastern coast of the U.S., the media were concerned the category 3 storm would inflict catastrophic damage from North Carolina to New England. My quiet time passage for August 26, the day before the hurricane was to hit, was Psalm 107. Verse 29 reads, “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed” (ESV). Reminded of God’s awesome power, I prayed, Lord, You have many people who love You in that region, please calm the storm and hush the waves, spare our country the enormous damage that large hurricane might inflict.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold disaster for his countrymen and they felt he was a traitor. Powerful officials talked King Zedekiah into having him killed because his words weakened the resolve of their soldiers. So they took the old man and threw him into a cistern where he sank into the mud. Ironically, Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king, interceded on his behalf. The king had a change of heart and ordered Ebed to take thirty men and rescue Jeremiah before he died. The wise eunuch threw rags down to him to put under his armpits and then with ropes pulled him out. God was so pleased with the Ethiopian that through Jeremiah He promised to preserve his life.
At the beginning of each year I pick a theme to observe and mark in reading through the Bible. In 2010 the theme was wisdom along with the nineteen base words key to examining this topic: wise, teach, instruct, advise, know, learn, understand, counsel, reveal, discern, insight, intelligence, guide, sense, mature, inform, perceive, realize, and revelation.
Jeremiah 36:26—Then the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD had hidden them.
When I read newspaper and internet stories and listen to the radio and television one word leaps to mind--scheming! Republicans accuse the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress of trying to impose socialism. Democrats accuse Republicans of fear mongering and not caring about the American people. Special interest groups accuse Supreme Court justices for not holding to the Constitution. Radio talk hosts accuse the media of sensationalism and distortion. There is no happiness and unity is as easy to find as a unicorn. Perhaps we would do well to pause and to consider the nature of man.
There is a very challenging obstacle at Fort Lewis that ROTC cadets are required to negotiate during their summer training. One at a time each student climbs up a metal staircase, stands up on a narrow beam about 6 inches in width and then walks up and down a step continuing to the other side. Next, the student must grab a rope, swing the legs over the rope and slide out to the center, hang and wait for a command to drop about 20 feet down to the lake below. It is amazing how hard it is to walk up and over that step so high above the water without falling or succumbing to fear.
Have you ever wondered how astronauts fly up into space to rendezvous with a space station or other orbiting objects such as the Hubble space telescope? It is an incredibly difficult task. Let’s listen in to scientist Palmer Bailey as he articulates the challenge:
"The basic problem is that both of the rendezvousing objects are in individual orbits around the Earth. The shape and size of a spacecraft’s orbit is determined by its velocity. Thus if you try to speed up to catch something travelling ahead of you in the same orbit, you change your orbit and then are no longer in the same orbit . . . Therefore, if you are in orbit behind your rendezvous target and try to speed up to catch it, what actually happens is that your increased speed is used up raising you into a higher and therefore slower orbit and you fall farther and farther behind. You must slow down, thus dropping into a lower but quicker orbit until you are ahead of your target, then speed up at just the right rate to go into the higher slower orbit as the target craft catches up to you. It’s pretty tricky to get that timing just right."