Archive for February, 2010

Not In A Hurry

February 25, 2010

I was at the gym yesterday.  (I do go more than once a week, you know.)  There was a young mother there, pushing her baby around the track in a stroller.  In an attempt at humor, I commented to her that I wish my laps around the track were as easy as his, as I pointed at her baby.  Of course, I was remembering my run from Monday that had been particularly difficult. 

Later, I thought about what I had said, and have decided that I didn’t mean it.  There may come a time when my ability to run around the track comes to an end.  I may someday be reduced to walking.  There may come a time, should Jesus tarry, and I live long enough, when I will be only able to go around the track being pushed in a wheelchair. 

I am definitely not in a hurry for that!

One of the reasons that I excercise is to be able to continue to enjoy a healthy, active  lifestyle.  I am hoping to continue in that pattern for as long as possible.   I am aging, and will try to accept the natural changes of life, but everything that I have read and heard, tells me that the bodies God gave us can continue to do quite well, if we take care of them.

I will do what I can to take care of mine.

Slowing Us Down

February 24, 2010

On Monday, as I was struggling to continue my run around and around the track, it occurred to me that running was easier when I weighed less.  I know, you would think with all the exercise that I do, my weight would be where it should be, but I like to eat. On Monday, I was up ten pounds from last summer, and up twenty pounds from a couple of years ago.  I have been half-heartedly trying to lose weight since last spring.  It goes up, it goes down.

I have decided that I need to get serious about losing the weight that I had regained.  I would like to trim off some of this excess weight before my next long run in a couple of weeks.  I just think that it would have to be easier to run if I wasn’t carrying the weight belt (fat) around my waist.

These thoughts reminded me of something far more important.  Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

If our Christian race needs improvement, we can look at two things.  First, are we stubbornly remaining in a sinful practice?  Or are we making a half-hearted attempt at change?  Let us get serious about removing sinful thoughts, words, and actions from our lives.  Second, are we doing those things that we know are good for our spiritual health?  Are we consistently reading our Bible, spending time in prayer, and attending church?  Or do we claim that we do not have enough time?  We should examine our schedules to see if the activities that occupy our time are the right things.  If we are too busy, then we need to cut out something other than our spiritual disciplines. 

Most of us could stand to lose some weight.

I think it is slowing us down.

Finish the Race

February 23, 2010

Yesterday, it was time again for a long run.

It didn’t go so well.

I started out with a few pains here and there and suspected that I might be in trouble.  I started feeling tired way too early and was tempted to quit.

Then I remembered my Marine background. 

Marines don’t quit.

I also remembered something much more important.  In II Timothy 4:7, Paul writes “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.”  I thought about how important it is for us as believers to complete the tasks that are given to us by God.  “Accomplish the mission” is the first directive for Marines.  As believers who are seeking to serve God, it is important that we not quit just because things get a little difficult.  In II Timothy 2: 3 Paul writes “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  

So don’t give up if things become a little difficult.  Continue to serve the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength.  Galatians 6:9 says “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Things Change

February 22, 2010

I recently shared our churches story about how we went to two services on Sunday mornings years ago, and then how we discontinued our evening services about a year ago.

Things change.

Only God remains the same.

Our boys are now young men.  They are in the process of building their lives.  They currently both live in Minnesota, hundreds of miles away. 

Things change.

Only God remains the same.

Each day is a new day.  It is filled with possibilities.  We have the opportunity to make decisions that will change the course of our lives.  We can also choose to continue on the course that we have been following. 

Even when things remain the same…

Things change.

Only God remains the same.

With each passing day, even each moment, small changes take place.  At the very least, things age, sometimes for better, sometimes not. 

Things change.

Only God remains the same.

Since we cannot stop things from changing, perhaps we can influence that change, so that it is positive in nature.

Change is inevitable.

Only God remains the same.

In His Presence

February 18, 2010

Back in the seventies I played percussion in a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  I had the opportunity to play in a wide variety of places over the three years that I was with them.  I even had the chance to play with some recording artists at a couple of concerts.  I greatly enjoyed all of those experiences.

As it turned out, I entered the ministry as a pastor, who happens to also be a musician, as opposed to specializing in music ministry.  So, for going on twenty years, I have played as a part of the worship team of a small church, in a small town. 

Last night as we were worshipping the Lord through music, I had a revelation.  I imagined that I was playing in the throne room of God.  Instead of the small group of believers who were gathered, I thought of the presence of Almighty God, not as if He was in our presence, but as if we were in His.

What a difference that made in my appreciation of that worship experience!  I was playing In His Presence, and it was wonderful.  For years, I have quoted the verse “Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”, but the idea of my being In His Presence, was somehow, more inspiring.

How different would our worship be, if each of us thought of ourselves as worshipping in the throneroom of God?  Of worshipping In His Presence?     

If you would like to leave a comment, or to read how others have responded, click on “comments” below.

The Greatest Pleasure

February 17, 2010

Yesterday I read something in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics that caught my attention.  “…the activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of virtuous activities…”  He goes on to say, basically, that it isn’t for everyone.  Yet, he ranks philosophic reflection as the highest pleasure.

I will admit, that there are times when contemplative thinking has been profoundly pleasant.  This is especially true when you combine philosophical inquiry with theological reflection and prayer.  (I can imagine some of you are rolling your eyes by now, or perhaps have stopped reading, or maybe even have fallen asleep!)

Maybe it is an age thing.  In Hinduism, the third stage of life, from 50-75 is one of slowly withdrawing from the world, spending time with the grandchildren, and increasing your focus on religious and philosophical pursuits.  I have to admit that the idea of increased religious and philosophical meditations is appealing to me.

I suppose that means I’m in the right professions.

Sherlock Holmes

February 16, 2010

Last night we went to see the movie “Sherlock  Holmes” in our local theatre.  I had not heard very much about it, except that I had heard one report that it was good.

As it turns out, it was quite unexpected.

Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as being on the edge of sanity, actually, past the edge.  Dr. Watson is a strong, stable companion who helps Holmes cope with reality.  They are both far more physically violent than I had expected.  This is not a story for children. 

The most surprising twist to me was that their primary adversary was an individual who was believed to be a practitioner of black magic. 

I normally do not watch movies with themes centering around the use of magic, certainly not black magic.  I do not take such things lightly.  In fact, I gave serious thought to leaving the movie, when I realized how much of a role the occult played.

In the end the bad guy is defeated, Holmes demonstrates how the various effects, that had appeared to be supernatural, were actually based in little-known facts about the material realm.

That is part of the problem.  Everything boiled down to a physical explanation.  There is no validity given to the possibility of any  reality beyond the material.  Another problem is that the church was portrayed as fearful and ineffective.  So you are left with the sense that both religion and magic, plays on the fears of the ignorant.

On a good note, there is a line where the main adversary is told that he is playing with powers that he cannot control.  There is a hint of ominous, evil presence in the black raven that appears each time one of the leaders in the magical community is killed.  Perhaps people should not trifle with evil powers. 

I can agree with that sentiment.

Karibu

February 15, 2010

On the wall near our computer is a hand carved wooden plaque that my sister brought back as a gift from Africa.  It has the word “Karibu” in the center.  If I remember correctly, it basically means “welcome”.

I hope, and believe that we are, a church that welcomes people who visit us.  I am reminded of how important that characteristic is by the stories my son tells me of visiting churches in the new community where he now lives.  In some of the churches that he visited, he was barely greeted, then ignored.  Whether it was a large church, or a very small church, it didn’t necessarily matter.  Even after attending several times in succession,  he did not feel welcomed to most of the churches that he visited. 

I was amazed, and appalled at his story.  I sincerely hope that we do a better job of making people feel welcome when they visit our church.  I hope that “Karibu” is not just a sign on my wall, but an attitude that we express by our words and our actions.

Shoveling Snow or Cutting Grass?

February 11, 2010

I sometimes wonder which is worse, shoveling snow or cutting grass?  They are both chores that need to be done in their proper seasons.  There are quite a few differences of course.  Shoveling snow is done in the cold.  Cutting grass is done in the heat.  Shoveling snow can vary greatly depending on how much, and what kind of snow.  Cutting the grass can vary, but is more consistent.  Shoveling snow needs to be done within twenty-four hours of snowfall, which can be very inconvenient.  Cutting grass can be scheduled, as long as it isn’t raining.  Shoveling can be done any time, day or night.  Cutting the grass,  should be done during daylight, and not too early!

I have lived in Iowa for nineteen years now.  The winters are more mild than those in Minnesota where I grew up.  In past years, my comparison of these two chores has resulted in favor of shoveling snow being the preferred chores, primarily because it does not have to be so frequent.

This year I’m not so sure.  Maybe it is because I’m getting older.  Maybe it’s just been a year with a lot of snow.  Maybe it’s because other people volunteer to cut the grass at church, but I have the privilege of shoveling the snow.

I am re-evaluating my comparison of these two chores.

What do you think?

Oh, by the way, they are predicting more snow this weekend!

Courage, Confidence, and Recklessness

February 10, 2010

The New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl Champions.  There were several key moments.  Towards the end of the first half, the New Orleans Saints went for the touchdown on fourth and goal.  They were stopped short.  However, they managed to get the ball back, move it downfield and score a field goal in the little time that remained.

At the start of the second half, the Saints tried an onside kick.  It worked, they recovered the ball, and went on for a touchdown, and the lead.

These calls showed the courage of the Saints coach, Sean Payton, and the confidence that he had in his team to make the gambles pay off.

What if things had gone the other way?  What if they had been unable to get that field goal at the end of the first half?  What if the Colts had recovered the onside kick, and they had gone in for the score?

Then Sean Payton would be the goat, instead of the hero.  There would be lots of people vocally criticizing the calls that they now praise.  He would be called reckless, instead of courageous.

His courage to make risky calls, and his confidence in his team, may have been a part of what inspired them to perform so very well.  The reception by Lance Moore for the two-point conversion was a beautiful example of a player going beyond expectations, as he managed to gain control, and reach across the goal line, while tumbling head-over-heels.

Congratulations to the Saints. 

It worked.

This time.