Archive for March, 2010

Reduced Freedom

March 31, 2010

The passage of the new health care bill will result in many more people having coverage.

Whether they want it or not.

The bill will require companies to provide health care coverage, or pay a fine.  Either way it will increase the cost of doing business in the United States.  That cost will be passed on to customers.  It will also be one more reason to send jobs out-of-country, where the cost of doing business is cheaper in many ways.

The bill also requires individuals to purchase health care coverage, if they do not have it provided, or pay a fine.  Yes,  there will be a subsidy, but for many people, the subsidy will not cover the cost.  It will be one more added expense for people who already are having a difficult time.

Comply or be fined.  Those are the options, and it is a reduction in our freedom to direct our own lives, and our own businesses.

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A Shield About Me

March 30, 2010

On Sunday morning in the second service we were singing the old song based on Psalms 3:3, “A Shield About Me”.  My wife, who was leading worship felt impressed to linger for a while on this song, which was the last in our list.  It contained both a statement of faith, and the response of worship.

I later preached on the triumphal entry, it was Palm Sunday after all, but I included the prophetic word that Jesus spoke over Jerusalem, and the episode of Jesus driving the merchants, and money changers out of the temple.  I refered to judgement against the city, and in the temple.  I connected these to a warning that judgement could come against our country, and even against Christianity.  Would anyone deny the presence of sin in our land, or in the church that calls itself Christian?

However, the good news is; for those who are trusting in the Lord, for those who are faithful and obedient, God will be a shield about them.

Common Courtesy

March 29, 2010

What has happened to common courtesy?

I just finished watching an interview on television, never mind who it was specifically, I have seen others just like it, and much worse, in the last few months.  In the interview, both individuals were frequently interrupting each other.  When interrupted, they both just kept talking.  I am not able to follow two people speaking at once and so did not get very much out of the exchange.

In my class, it is not uncommon for there to be people talking quietly among themselves during the class time.  Sometimes I will ignore it, and sometimes I will point out their rude and distracting behaviour, depending on how tolerant I am feeling at the time.  I teach an ICN class, which means that it is telecast by cable to remote locations.  I am told that at the remote locations, there is often a lot of talking taking place.  I am unable to hear what is going on at remote sites without a microphone being keyed, so I rarely address that situation.

I was brought up to understand some basic points of common courtesy regarding conversations.

1.  Only one person should be speaking at a time.

2.  Let the person who is speaking, finish what they are saying.

3.  Allow opportunities for response.

4.  Invite others to share their thoughts.

5.  Listen to what people are saying.

6.  Avoid vulgar or profane language.

7.  Stay on topic, unless it is agreed to move on to a new subject.

(Feel free to add some more rules in the comment section.)

In our country, there seems to be a trend towards rudeness.  I recognize that we have serious disagreements about many issues, but can we at least discuss them in a civilized manner?  Can we show, even the people who we disagree with, a little common courtesy?  Maybe, just maybe, they will return the favor.

Cricket in a Skillet

March 25, 2010

Last night in Bible study, a lady referred to a “cricket in a skillet”.  She was illustrating how sometimes people can be very busy, but not accomplishing anything.  We began by discussing what it meant to be lazy.  We had agreed that laziness was difficult to define, but that it could be understood as an imbalance.  On one end of a scale are people who work too much, and on the other end of the scale are people who work too little.  Work could be described, not simply as manual labor, but any helpful, productive activity.  We recognized that “work” would mean different things to different people, and that our type of work would change throughout our lives. 

Then came the question of the person who is busy, but not accomplishing anything.  They are not lazy, but they are misdirected; the cricket in a skillet.  We agreed that it was important that God give us wisdom to properly direct our activities, so that we can be productive.  We want our lives to be balanced, focused; and directed by the Holy Spirit.

Ten Mile Run

March 24, 2010

Monday I ran ten miles in 1 hour 34:17 minutes.  It was a beautiful spring day.  It was sunny, and in the upper fifties.  My run took me out-of-town and through fields that are waiting for the spring planting. (It will be a little while yet.)  The last mile and a half, before the turn-around-point, was a little used gravel road; with a series of large hills.  It was a wonderful run.  I felt great, I was excited because I had been working towards the goal of a ten-mile run for months and today was the day! 

It felt great…for about eight miles.  The last couple of miles didn’t feel quite so great.  I wasn’t in any pain.  I was just tired.  I stuck with it,  kept the feet moving one step at a time, tried not to think about how much further I had remaining, and finished the run.

Running is a good metaphor for life.  Paul, in the New Testament,  used it to describe his life of ministry.  I suppose that each of us can borrow the idea for ourselves.  Whatever “run” you are called to do in this life, don’t quit.  Stay at the task that God has given you and one day you will hear the words “Well Done, thou good and faithful servant. “

The Rapture

March 23, 2010

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  I Thessalonians 4:17 (NKJ)

This being “caught up” is called the rapture.  There are three basic theories about when this event will occur.  They are called the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib theories.  Pre-trib is the belief that the rapture will occur before the tribulation.  The tribulation is a seven-year period of time when the anti-christ will rule the world.  The mid-trib is the belief that the anti-christ will make a pact with Israel at the beginning of his reign and will break it after three and a half years, the mid-point of his reign.  The rapture would occur at that time.  The post-trib says that the rapture will occur when the reign of the anti-christ is over, and Christ is about to return.

I believe in the pre-trib theory.  The belief that Christ could return at any moment inspires us to live faithfully, expectantly, and hopefully.  It is not necessarily wrong to believe in the other theories, I just favor the pre-trib. 

Of course, there is also the pan-trib theory.  This basically states that we shouldn’t worry too much about which theory is correct.  It will all pan out in the end.

Find a Way

March 22, 2010

The  health care bill has passed.  History will judge whether or not this is a good thing.  Our country is divided on yet another issue.  That is not good.  We have debated, argued, campaigned, and struck deals.  Now it is time to move forward.  It is time to let the dust settle and seek to obtain some measure of stability and unity.  It is time to reassert a basic sense of commonality.  We want our country to be united in a quest for the common good.  Many of us do not like the decision, but that doesn’t mean that we want it to fail.  Now that the bill has passed, let’s find a way to make it work.

Spring Break 2010

March 18, 2010

Spring break is not just for the students.  As a college instructor for over ten years, I can confidently say that faculty members also very much enjoy a little time off in the springtime.

Most years, for me, spring break means that, for a week, I can focus on my primary job, which is pastoring a church.  For this week, I have a little more time in my schedule.  I can catch up on a few items on my “to do” list. 

I can catch my breath. 

Today, here in eastern Iowa, it is supposed to be sunny and in the mid-sixties.  I will ride my bicycle to the church this morning, and this afternoon, for my exercise, I will both ride, and run outside.  It should be a beautiful afternoon for exercising outdoors.

A breath of fresh air!

Last week, I enjoyed a week with my son and his fiance, who were down for their spring break.  They are planning their upcoming wedding and are excited to begin their life together.  I suppose that you could say that they are in the springtime of their lives.

Excitement is in the air!

Spring break is good.  You don’t have to go to some far off location.  You certainly don’t have to party, and get drunk, and behave stupidly.  It is a wonderful opportunity to catch your breath, take a break, enjoy the changing seasons, relax a little, and refocus on what is important in your life.

Who’s to Judge?

March 17, 2010

I believe…

Whatever I believe to be true is an expression of my own judgement.  I accumulate information, determine it’s credibility, interpret and apply what I have judged to be worthy of inclusion.

I believe in God.

I have been told that He exists.  I have accepted it as true.  I have thought about it, evaluated the information and come to the conclusion that I believe that God exists. 

I am passing judgement on the existence of God.

I read the Bible. 

I have accepted that the Bible is the Word of God.  I have been told that it is the Word of God.  I have thought about it, examined the claims, and judged that it is the Word of God.  Even after that acceptance, I must read it, interpret it, and apply it to my life. 

I am exercising judgement on the Word of God.

Isn’t this backwards???

If God exists, then ultimately, He will judge me. 

If the Bible is God’s Word, then my life will be judged by what that book contains.  

Who is to Judge?

Whose judgement will be final???

Cut Back!

March 11, 2010

If an individual is spending more money than they make, they must either make more money or spend less.  If they decide to spend less, they will maintain the essentials and trim back on the non-essentials.

The same is true in the business world.  If you are not making a profit, then you need to remove non-essentials from your operating costs.  This can sometimes involve painful decisions.  It is important to make the right cuts.

The same is true with our government.  It is time to recognize  what is necessary, and what is non-essential.  It is high time to reduce spending in non-essential areas. It is not a time to be spending more money.  It is time to be spending less.