Archive for December, 2009

Talk to, not About

December 31, 2009

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Many of us probably remember our mothers giving us that piece of social instruction.  It was good advice, and perhaps it needs to be instilled in a new generation. 

There are times when words of correction need to be expressed.  However, these words of correction should be given to the person needing correction, not to general audiences. 

If you have a problem with someones actions then you should speak to that person.  All too often, instead of offering words of correction or rebuke, we will simply talk about that individual to other people.  Did you hear about so and so?  Can you even believe what they did?  Worse yet, some will accept stories that are told to them, pass judgement on the individual, and then repeat the story, without ever asking about the other side.

Talk to people, not about them…unless it’s good of course.  Almost no one minds if you say nice things about them.

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A Long Goodbye

December 30, 2009

A member of my congregation passed away Monday night.  He was a great guy, and will be missed by his friends and family.  He had contracted cancer a few years ago and managed to beat it the first time around.  When it came back, it didn’t turn out so well. 

One thing about his illness and death is that you could see it coming.  Of course, in the beginning, there was hope that he would again succeed in returning to health, but as time went on and the treatments did not seem to help, it became obvious that unless God worked a miracle, that he would be passing on. 

During this time, many, many friends and family members came to see him, wish him well, express their love and appreciation….and to say goodbye.

He lived to share Christmas with his family, and some say that he held on long enough for the Bears to beat the Vikings.  He has gone to be with the Lord now, and he will be greatly missed.

Decoration or Proclamation?

December 29, 2009

Last night we went to see a movie at our local theatre.  One of the young ladies working there was wearing a beautiful cross,  probably a Christmas gift.  It made me wonder about her faith.  Simply wearing a cross does not mean anything necessarily.  Many people wear crosses merely for decoration.  Others wear the cross as a means of proclamation.  There is no way to tell the difference, simply by appearance. 

Certainly it is appropriate for believers to wear the cross as jewelry.  However, it is more important that the cross be seen in our lives, not just on our bodies.  The way that we live our lives should reflect the cross of Christ.  We should deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him, in a life that shines with the love of God, expressed by our love for people, demonstrated by our actions, words, and attitudes

Life and Christmas Past

December 28, 2009

Christmas is over. Only the mess, and the added pounds remain.

Sigh…

Oh, there are also the memories.  I am profoundly grateful that our sons were able to be here.  Andrew was here for Christmas, and Christopher and Galina arrived on the 26th. There were two nights with everyone home.  We played “Life” together last night and had a really good time.  (Chris won!)  It seemed ironic to me to be playing Life with these young people who are in the early stages of their own lives. 

Earlier in the week a friend had come by to make a ginger bread house.  Again, I am struck with the thoughts of how we build our lives bit by bit.

It takes a while to build a life.

I am thankful for the “brick” of the Christmas season.  I have enjoyed the times with family and friends.  I will add the experiences to my accumulated memories and will call it good.

Now to get back on the diet, clean up the mess, and carry on with life.

Good Will to All

December 24, 2009

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  Luke 2:14 NASB

As we celebrate Christmas, it is good for us to remember that God loves all the people of the world.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

No person is an enemy to Christians.  All the people of the world are meant to hear the message of salvation.  Even when people reject the message, they do not become our enemy.  They are still people for whom Christ died.  We are to continue to proclaim the message of forgiveness, hope, and salvation; offered to all the world, through faith in Jesus Christ.  We are to continue to offer the love of God, and to pray that people will respond to the message, the real message of Christmas.

Merry Christmas Mr. President

December 23, 2009

It looks like the Senate is going to pass a bill on health care reform just in time for Christmas.  It has been referred to as a Christmas present for the president, since he has made it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda.  It will still have to be reconciled with the House bill which will not be easy since there are substantial differences, none-the-less, it looks like Merry Christmas Mr. President, here’s your health care bill.

Actually, the bill will be coming later.  It is like the person who spends too much at Christmas, and then regrets it when the charge card bills come due.  Will we regret this holiday purchase?  Can it be returned if we don’t like it?

This is not change that I believe in.  However, unlike Rush Limbaugh, I hope that I am wrong.  I hope that the president is right, and that this is a great thing for our country.  I hope that it provides coverage, while lowering the deficit, just like they say that it will. 

I am also glad that, ultimately,  I put my trust in Jesus, not in the U.S. government for my future.

Choose to Act?

December 22, 2009

Our actions can be chosen after careful thought.  When we have a decision to make, we have the ability to carefully consider our options, and make the optimal choice.

But do we?

There are many times when what we “feel” like doing at the moment is not the same as what our rational mind would lead us to determine is the best action. 

Do we act according to our reasoning, or our feelings?

It depends on which is stronger at the moment of action.

Then, of course, there are those times when we simply react.  We say or do something without considering the alternatives or the consequences.  These reactions can be fostered by a whole host of various criteria. There are occasions when there is no time to think, simply to act.  Stress, emotions, fatigue,  and other factors can influence our response.

As Christians, we seek to live our lives in  a way that is pleasing to God.  We should ask God to guide our thoughts, our words and our deeds.  If we are “in the Spirit” our actions, and our reactions will be the right ones.

Christmas Break

December 21, 2009

The fall semester is over.  The last papers have been graded.  The finals have been calculated.  The students have gone home.  The final grades have been turned in, and recorded.  It’s all over except for the lingering memories of success and defeat. 

I will go in to the school office one more time, (maybe) to file away the semesters various papers, but for all practical purposes, I also am on break.

For me, it is an opportunity to catch up on a few things at home,  and at the church.  There is, of course, also, Christmas to celebrate, family that will be visiting, and… deer hunting season.  It is a busy time, a good time, a time that goes by all too fast.

Oral Roberts

December 17, 2009

Oral Roberts died Tuesday December 15, 2009.  He had an impact on me that has profoundly influenced my approach to ministry.

I never heard him preach.

I have never read one of his books.

I visited Oral Roberts University back in the late seventies, with a gospel group of which I was a member.  I remember the symbol of three hands and forearms that were joined together in a triangle.  The meaning of the symbol was explained by our guide.  It represented the hand of the doctor, the hand of a person praying, and the hand of God.   All three worked together to bring healing to an individual life.

I have always remembered that symbol, and, after over twenty years in ministry, I still believe it expresses well my own approach.  Pray, seek medical attention, and pray again; because ultimately all healing is a gift from God, whether it comes through a supernatural act, or the use of medical treatments.

Conflicted Pack Rat

December 16, 2009

I am conflicted.

I am a pack rat by nature, or perhaps by training, or maybe a little of both.  My father kept all kinds of supplies in his garage and whenever he was working on a project he could go to an area, rifle around a little bit, and come up with whatever it was that was needed, or something that would work as well.  I was impressed by his creativity and ingenuity.  His garage was filled with all kinds of stuff and I spent many hours working with him on various tasks. 

I also think of myself as frugal.  I do not like to get rid of things that may still be useful.  I tend to hold onto things that I think may come in handy someday.  After all, I wouldn’t want to have to buy something today, that I just threw out last week.

I also like simplicity and order.   I like it when everything has a place, and everything is in its place.   Less can be more.  I sometimes think that I should greatly reduce the things that I have,  so that my life would be less incumbered by possessions.  How much stuff do I really need?  

I am conflicted.

The battle continues…but I think the pack rat is winning… at least in the garage and basement.