Archive for April, 2009

Hybrid People

April 30, 2009

Hybrid cars are automobiles that have two different engines.  Normally they are electric and gasoline.   The electric engine will provide propulsion part of the time and the gasoline engine will provide propulsion the rest of the time.

We are comprised of flesh and spirit, body and soul, or material and nonmaterial, if you prefer.  At times we are operating in the flesh, at other times we are operating in the spirit. 

It is important that we take care of our physical and spiritual beings.  Proper nourishment, exercise and rest for the physical; prayer, Bible study, and fellowship for the spiritual.

It is also important that we recognize the proper order.  As Christians we seek to be “living in the Spirit” as opposed to “walking in the flesh”.  We want to “seek  first the kingdom of God” and “all these other things will be added unto us”.

May God help us to continue “running smooth”.

Does your engine need a tune up?

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It may be legal, but it’s still a sin

April 27, 2009

Today in Iowa, gay couples can apply for marriage licenses.  It is now  legal for two men, or two women to get married in Iowa.  The state supreme court made that decision.  It was the result of much hard, well planned, work by a group of gay activists, some from outside of the state.

It may be legal, but it is still a sin.

Leviticus 18:22 says “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.  It is an abomination.” 

This passage is quite clear.  The penalty for practicing homosexuality under Mosaic law was death.    Some say, correctly, that Jesus never addressed the topic of homosexuality.  There was no reason for Jesus to address the issue with a Jewish audience.  It was not an issue up for consideration. 

Others may say that we are not under the Mosaic law.  They are correct. However Paul, whose primary work was with Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire, which widely accepted homosexual practice,  is quite clear in addressing the issue. 

I Corinthians 6:9-10 says “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 

Lawyers may have been successful with their arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court, but ultimately it is God, to whom we will answer.

The Fellowship of the Saints

April 25, 2009

God’s people are not meant to live in isolation.  It is one thing to draw away by oneself for periods of time.  I believe that we can all use some time alone.  Jesus himself, would go off to be alone and to pray.  It is good to spend some time alone with God.

However, there is a definite need for God’s people to gather together.  We can encourage one another, support one another, give instruction or advice, and simply enjoy the fellowship of the saints.  The best place for this to take place is at the local church.  People can gather together to worship, to pray, to receive instruction from the Word.  It is a good thing.

I say this, not just because I am a pastor, but because I believe it to be true.  Long before I was a pastor, I regularly attended church services.  I expect that I will do so for as long as I am physically able to  get out and about.

I hope that you too, will make church attendance a priority in your life.  It will do you good.

Wrong Answer?

April 23, 2009

During the recent Miss USA pageant,  Perez Hilton, one of the judges, asked Carrie Prejean  (Miss California) if every state should follow Vermont in legalizing same sex marriage.  She responded by saying “No offense to anyone out there, but in my family, I was raised to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”  (This quote may not be exactly correct word for word since I am going by memory, but I am sure that it is close.)

The judge, who is openly gay, was not happy with her answer. 

Recently California had a statewide vote on the issue, and gay marriage was soundly defeated.  It appears to me, that Miss California correctly represented the majority of her state with her answer.  Actually, in every state where the issue has been put to a popular vote, gay marriage has been soundly defeated, so her answer also appears to represent the majority of Americans.  She also remained true to her own personal moral and religious convictions, even though she probably realized that it was not the answer that the judge wanted to hear.  She demonstrated a moral integrity to her personal values that should be commended. 

Or has moral integrity somehow become a bad thing?

I hope not.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

April 21, 2009

Life as opposed to death,  I understand. 

Liberty is a precious commodity.  How free are we?  My platoon sergeant, back in my days in the USMC, a long time ago, once told me that the only thing that we have to do is die.  Every thing else is a choice.  We just have to be willing to deal with the consequences of our choices.  It is those consequences, and the limitations that are place upon us by both internal and external factors that impact our experience of freedom.

The pursuit of happiness appears to be different for each individual, yet at it core I believe that it is the same for everyone.

I would suggest that true joy is found in our inner relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  I believe that this internal relationship produces a joy that this world cannot understand and cannot take away.  Our problems arise when we look to the things of this world to make us happy as opposed to the God who is in, but not of this world.

Rejoice in the Lord.    Always!

The Carrot or the Stick?

April 18, 2009

We have probably all seen the cartoon of someone riding a donkey, holding a stick with a carrot dangling from a string in front of the donkey’s nose.  The donkey, not being very smart, sees the carrot in front of them and moves ahead in pursuit of the ever elusive carrot.

When that approach no longer works, the rider can take the stick and smack the donkey on the rump to provide a little additional motivation.

What motivates us?  Is it the promise of reward? Or the  fear of punishment?  Do we have other options?

I would like to think that we are motivated by something that is more than simply the threat of punishment or the promise of reward.  I would like to think that we can be motivated by the present, presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.   

The presence of the Holy Spirit provides ultimately all that we need to fulfill the calling of God in our lives.  If we have been made alive in the spirit, then we can learn to walk in the power, and presence, of the Holy Spirit.  It is not dependent either on the threat of punishment or the promise of reward but rather on an internal quickening, that is not something of this world, but something that is  expressed in this world by a changed life.

God can sometimes use the carrot or the stick, but I think that it is better to be motivated by the Holy Spirit that is a very real presence in the lives of those who seek to walk with God.

Gossip

April 16, 2009

In the Bible we are warned against gossip.  I have thought long and hard about what it means to gossip.  It is not when we sit down with family and friends and discuss what is going on in our lives.  It is when we talk about people who are not present for our discussion.  Does that mean that I can never tell my friends, what my sons are doing, if they are not with me? 

That seems absurd.

I believe that gossip comes in various forms.  First of all, when we are sharing unsubstantiated rumors, that is clearly gossip.  Serious damage can be done to people’s lives by the repetition of lies and half truths.

  Sometimes, there are things that we know are factual, but we shouldn’t be talking about them anyway.  I think that it comes down to a simple rule.  We should not be repeating something that makes another person look bad, unless there is a definite need to know.

I have taught this basic rule to my family and my church and I try to practice it in my own life.  I think that it is a good definition.

I am not quite sure how news stories fit into this definition.  At what point is something news, and when is it gossip?  I am still working on that.

Our Father Knows Best

April 14, 2009

I believe that God blesses those who follow him in a wide variety of ways.  It is important that we learn to see the hand of God in our lives and to appreciate the blessings that we receive from his hand.

One problem that I believe often happens, is that we fail to recognize the ways in which God blesses us.  It does not always happen in the way that we expect that it will.  God will sometimes give us the things that we ask for, but sometimes his blessings will be something that he has chosen for us.  He is our loving father, and he is good to us.  He truly is a father who knows what is best for his children 

Christ said that he came to give us live, and that more abundantly.  I believe that as we learn to appreciate the simple blessings that are around us every day, we will be better able to experience the richness of the life that God has for us.

Why Exercise?

April 7, 2009

I  exercise regularly.  Lately, I have been finding it more difficult to be motivated to go through my workouts.  I groan and sigh as I approach the gym.   The other day as I was stretching before starting a run, I asked a person who was nearby, why we bother to exercise.  Their response was stated almost as a a question.

Boredom?

I haven’t been bored in twenty five years.  That is not the answer.

Health, loose weight, look better, feel better, come on, I needed some motivation and boredom was definitely not the problem.

As I began to run my laps, (Kind’ve like a gerbil on a wheel, oh wait, that is the people on the treadmills!) it struck me why I exercise.  It is not because I want to lose weight, although I do.  It is not simply so that my heart will stay healthy, although that certainly is a good thing.  It is definitely not because I am bored, have nothing else to do, or that I think it is fun.

I exercise so that I can enjoy a better quality of life. 

I like the fact that as I approach fifty, I can still do almost any activity that I want to participate in, without fear of having a heart attack, or other physical problems.  (I say almost, because my sons, who are young adults,  tried to talk me into going to a mixed martial arts class with them.  I thought about it, and decided that it was probably not a good idea.) 

I enjoy good health and that contributes to being better able to enjoy life.    

That is why I exercise, for quality of life.

Rejoicing and Weeping in Iowa

April 4, 2009

Yesterday the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriages.  This is a reason to celebrate for some, a reason to weep to others.

For those who rejoice, they rejoice because the state is granting gays the right to a legal status that they did not enjoy previously.

For those who weep, they see this decision as a step for the state, further away from the particular religious morals that many still hold in their personal lives.

This is a land of religious freedom.  People are still free to believe that homosexual acts are sinful,  and to proclaim their belief.  It is a particular religious belief, and others are free to accept or reject that teaching.

People do not have to believe in God, or the Bible.  They can ignore or remove the parts that they do not like,  but I believe that we will all one day face the God of the Bible, and be held accountable for our actions.