Hebrews 13:8,9--Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.
Stan* came over to my house. Earlier he sent me an email stating that he and his wife would not be attending our small group. But I wanted at least a chance to get to know him so I invited him over to chat. During the course of our conversation Stan said he and his wife were having a difficult time finding a church to attend in Colorado Springs because of theological differences. When I asked him what that meant Stan said that they did not believe Jesus was God. Therefore, church leaders were not comfortable putting them in a leadership position. He further elaborated that 95% of Christians mistakenly are taught and believe in Jesus’ deity. No wonder they were having trouble finding a church home!
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.
The word eristicis of Greek origin and refers to those who argue simply for the purpose of winning, regardless of the reason. The word animus comes to us from Latin and means strong dislike. We know this as animosity. While these two words share nothing in common, I believe that the former can lead to the latter causing the two to become intricately linked.
Colorado’s intent is to have an honorable justice system. Judges are elected differently than politicians running for office. They are rated on merit and then voted for by the public every four or six years. By using this kind of system, judges remain independent from special interest groups and earn their keep through their job performance.
Sitting in the courtroom and listening to the judge emphasize the importance of listening and truth-telling, I could not help but feel gratitude for the opportunity to perform my civic duty. For the first time in my life I was called to serve on jury duty. It was an enlightening time learning how Colorado’s justice system is set up. Unfortunately, it did not last long. The court case to which I was assigned involved a company of which two other prospective jurors and I belonged. We were instantly released from duty and sent home.
Psalm 86:11—Teach me Your way, Yahweh, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.
King David’s prayer request is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and was my key verse for 1994. When we break it into its natural three phrases there is so much we can apply.
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.
Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, wrote a New York Times Bestseller entitled The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. I listened to Dan speak at a conference for senior leaders at West Point, NY and was fascinated by what he shared. He made a powerful case for how common cheating and lying is in our society and throughout the world.
Proverbs 4:14,27—Don’t set foot on the path of the wicked; don’t proceed in the way of evil ones . . . Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.
Acts 15:13—After they stopped speaking, James responded: “Brothers, listen to me!”
Does it surprise you that the leader in the church after Jesus returned to heaven was not one of the eleven apostles? Wouldn’t it seem like the requirement for membership to the Jerusalem Council would be three years of faithful service under the Master? If Jesus said He would build His church upon the rock, and that rock was Peter (Mat. 16:18), why was James the one who rendered judgment as the leader of the Council (15:19-21)?
What Christian is not frustrated in trying to live a godly life? Why is it so hard? For starters, we are flawed. We enter the world dripping wet with a sin nature and from the very outset need God’s grace. A baby’s temper tantrum was not learned behavior it was already ingrained. We grow up enamored with the world’s offerings—what man is not drawn to lust after a sensual woman or woman drawn to the need for security? We are stubborn, preferring to do what we want. It is completely counter-culture to pursue holiness. There is nothing easy about achieving purity and we are quickly frustrated by adversity, failure, and the clever attacks of Satan who will do all he can to disrupt us from fellowship with God.
Kevin and I prayer walk an asphalt trail that is about 3/4ths of a mile around a church, a wooded area and large field. This morning I noticed big paw tracks from a dog that extended for quite a ways along the trail. If I was trained, I could tell by the size of the prints the approximate size of the dog that left its mark. Instead I could only see the obvious—a dog walked in a muddy field and then wandered across the path we were walking.
Recently I finished reading a book called Key To Yourselfby Venice Bloodworth. It was recommended to me by a very nice man who felt I would find it to be inspiring. What I found was that it was immensely dangerous. The book could be summarized in a four word sentence near the beginning of the book, “Psychology is the answer.” Published in 1952, the book is a primer for New Thought. Dr. Bloodworth’s contention is that we are all part of God and “your future is entirely under your own control.” What we need is to harness positive thinking which will then reap positive outcome. The reason we suffer ill fortune is because of the negative energy and thoughts we generate in our minds. “If the state of your health or finances is not all you desire, you must look within yourself for the cause.” Later she writes, “Ignorance of the existence and power of the subconscious mind is the cause of all failures and near failures in the world.”
Kathleen and I are trying to find the right company to help us refinance our home. Each of the four brokers we spoke with gave us compelling reasons to refinance with his or her particular company. We were uncertain as to who was really giving us the best option. Finally, we sat down with a broker in his office and listened as he explained why his option was the best for us. Before he went into his pitch he told us about his family and about a solar energy project he was working to help people bring their energy costs down. At some point in the meeting, I distinctly in my heart “heard” the Lord tell me that this was the man who would help us refinance. It was sort of a surreal moment. Yet, I instantly had peace about our choice and course of action.
In reading through the Bible in 2009, my selected theme was truth. Earlier this week, Chris primed our pumps asking us what truth is. I am going to finish off the year sharing what I learned from this vital Biblical topic hoping that it encourages and challenges you as much as it did me.
Psalm 85:11—Truth will spring up from the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven.
He jumped in too early. A white policeman arrested a prominent black professor, and eager journalists needled President Obama to answer before he knew all the facts. He misspoke. Perhaps a lingering frustration gave birth to an unfortunate vetting. That silence can be golden is an understatement for a man besieged by microphones. Our society is sensitive to racial harmony—and should we be surprised, given that our melting pot is a degree away from a boiling kettle!
A home improvement con artist swindled a 100 year-old blind woman. He rang the woman's bell, unsolicited, to offer to do any repair work needed. The woman told him that for years she had struggled with a door that was difficult to open because it rubbed against the rug. To fix the problem, she agreed to pay the man $8,000, to jack up her house.
John 15:5-I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
2 John 1-4--The Elder: To the elect lady and her children: I love all of you in the truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth—because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever. Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father.
In an age of relativism the roar of the crowd is to tame God’s Word. Two traps await Christians in this hostile environment.