Archive for April, 2010

Hand to the Plow

April 29, 2010

Luke 9:62 reads “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ ”

I know that we are not supposed to add to scripture, but I think it might be appropriate to add a warning about looking around as well.

I have just returned from District Council.  District Council is the annual business meeting of, in our case, a state-wide organization of churches in the Assemblies of God.  It is a time of taking care of business; but also a time of reconnecting with friends in the ministry, meeting ministers new to the district, and of spiritual refreshment; as those who normally minister,instead receive ministry.

It can also be a time of comparison.

There is a far too human tendency to want to compare ourselves with others.  Sometimes this makes us feel good…and sometimes it makes us feel bad. 

I would suggest that we rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep, but not compare ourselves to others in the ministry.  We should focus on our task, our field of labor, and not be critically, or longingly examining the fields of others.  Each of us are ultimately called, enabled, and placed by the Lord of the Harvest.  It is the Lord who places His workers and it is the Lord who gives the increase.  We answer finally to Him: and from Him, we want to hear “Well Done.”

Self Expression or Self Preservation

April 25, 2010

The other day I was riding my motorcycle to class.  I saw a truck at an intersection ahead of me.  I was on the inside lane of a four lane road, so I was not too concerned when he pulled out just a little bit ahead of me.

Then he continued on into my lane.

He never saw me.

Thankfully, I had been watching him and was already easing off the gas.  I hit the brakes and easily avoided a collision.

Then, I thought about the horn.  Some people might have thought about the horn first.  I prefer to focus on avoiding an accident.  Actually, I ended up waving at him.  Hopefully he saw me, but he probably never even knew I was  there on the road.

Over the years of riding, similar events have happened numerous times.  It is always better to avoid a collision first.  That should be your focus.  Secondly, you will want to think twice about how you express yourself.  You are still on a motorcycle, and that makes you vulnerable.  If you tick off the driver by your expression of anger, there is the possibility of retribution.  Ever hear of road rage?   In a bike versus car collision, the bike will never win. 

I prefer self-preservation over self-expression.

Grounded!

April 20, 2010

A cloud of volcanic ash has grounded flights throughout Europe.  This has caused enormous difficulties for thousands of travelers and cost businesses huge sums of money in added expense and in lost revenue.  There is increasing pressure to allow flights to resume quickly.

I hope that the pressure will not cause a premature lifting of the no-fly order.  I recognize the disruption caused by the grounding of all flights, but safety, not profit, should remain the primary concern.

Signs of the Times

April 19, 2010

In the past few years there has seemed to be an increase in natural disasters.  Volcanos, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and all sorts of tragic events have occurred. The other night, here in eastern Iowa there was a blazing comet that streaked across the sky.   Some people wonder if indeed these are signs of the end, that Jesus is returning soon.

It is possible.

I have long believed that Jesus could return at any moment.  I also accept that we do not know the day or hour.  Historically, many generations have believed that they were living in the last days. Obviously it hasn’t happened yet.  So what are we to do?

We should live our lives as if Jesus could return at any moment.  We should also accept that  it could be another thousand years.  What does that mean?  It means that if Jesus comes today, we should be ready.  We should also plan for the future, just in case.

A New Ride

April 15, 2010

Since last summer, I have been doing triathlon training.  That means that twice a week I do a combination swim, bike, and run.  It has been going fairly well, and it has helped to lower my cholesterol to acceptable levels.

The bicycle that I have been using is a Schwinn Traveler, manufactured, I think, in the seventies.  I bought it at a garage sale for five dollars, six or seven years ago.  It works fine as far as I am concerned.

A friend of mine, who works at the gym, is an avid bicycle rider.  He has been telling me from the beginning that I needed a better bike.  I would laugh and tell him that mine worked fine, he could look for one for me, but it would have to be in my budget, which was very low.

Yesterday, as I am doing my weight routine, he comes in with a name and a number for me to call.  He thinks that he has found a bike for me.  It is listed for forty dollars, which is within my budget.  I called the man,and went to look at the bike.  As I am looking at the bike, the man tells me that he had bought it at a garage sale and that he just didn’t like it.  He must have thought that I was hesitating, because he offered to take thirty dollars for it.

Sold.

The bike is a Trekker 520.  I brought it back to show my friend from the gym, who informed me that I do not realize how good a bike I have just bought. He has helped people look for things before, but this is the best deal he’s found for someone.  I laughingly asked him how many pastors he has previously helped.  

He is right about me not yet truly appreciating the quality of the bike.  I don’t know very much about them.  He had to tell me how to put air in the tires.  (They are not standard tubes or nozzles.)  I will take it for a ride a little later this morning.  

I thank God that I have been blessed with a great bike for my new ride.

The Health of My Generation

April 14, 2010

Have you seen the television commercial with Michelle Obama advocating for our childrens’ health?  She encourages us to set a better example of proper diet and active lives.  She states that our current generation of children might be the first generation to not live as long as their parents.

I suspect that could be wrong.

When I first came here to pastor, I always got a kick out of an older gentleman that attended the church.  He would always look at the obituaries first, “to make sure my name wasn’t listed” he would say.  Actually, he was checking to see if any of the many people that he knew in the area had recently died.  He was at that age when many of his friends were passing on.

Maybe it’s my age showing, but I have started checking the obituaries myself.  I am sometimes surprised at the number of people in their forties, and fifties, and early sixties who are passing away.

I wonder if it is my generation that will be the first to not live longer than their parents.  After all, we grew up on television and fast food.  Less activity, more calories; it’s not a good thing.

If we don’t want to find ourselves listed in the wrong part of the paper, we should be making better choices on diet and lifestyle, not just to set an example for our children and grandchildren, but for the sake of our own health.

Making Memories

April 13, 2010

As my children were growing up, when we were heading out to do some sort of activity with the boys, especially if Gloria was not going with us, she would say to me “Remember, you’re making memories.”.

That comment would always make me think about my actions.  I would like to say that those memories are all good, but, I’ve been known to have a temper, even been called grumpy a time or two.  Gloria’s comment to me would make me think about how the day would be remembered, and I would try a little harder to make good memories.  I would try a little harder to be patient.  This took effort on my part if things were not going smoothly.

I would encourage each of you with the same thought.  Remember that you are making memories each time your family gets together.  Try to make them good memories.  This does not have to apply only to families, but to other areas of life as well. 

Make some good memories today.

Something’s Not Right

April 12, 2010

According to the Quad City Times, April 8th edition, nearly half of U.S.  households will not have to pay any federal income tax.

That just doesn’t seem right. 

Why should one half of the country pay the cost for the other half?  I understand that the people who make more money should pay more in taxes, and I fully support that concept, but that doesn’t mean that 47% should pay nothing!

Politicians get elected by lowering taxes.  Politicians think that rebates and credits will stimulate the economy.  So politicians reduce national income and increase spending.  This is a problem.

It has gotten out of hand.  We have an enormous national debt.  We need to reduce spending and increase tax income.  We need to be financially responsible as a country.

Everybody who has an income can pay something.  We should be sharing the load, not getting a free ride.

A Light in the Darkness

April 8, 2010

On one of my last field exercises before getting out of the Marine Corps, we were planning an early morning movement of the company.  We were operating under light and sound discipline.  That meant that we were not supposed to have any unnecessary light, or make any unnecessary sounds.  It was early in the morning, way before sunrise.  I dropped down between tanks, that were parked side by side, and fired up a small, portable, single burner stove that tankers carried on their vehicles, since we were often far from any source of hot food.  I placed my canteen cup over the flame and shielded the light as best I could with my body, and the vehicles.  Soon, I heard my platoon commander, whose tank was about twenty five yards away,  whisper loudly, and urgently, “Sgt. Girod”  …  I pretended not to hear him.  It was still pitch black, I couldn’t see him; and positioned where I was, he could not have seen me, but he saw enough of the light.  He sent a crewman running over to tell me to extinguish the light.  I immediately complied.

Besides, my water was already hot.  My morning coffee was ready.

The light that I had made shone brightly in the darkness.  I really could not effectively hide it from those nearby.  Actually, light can be seen for a great distance in the darkness, and if it had been a real movement, not simply an exercise, I would never had lighted the stove. 

Jesus is the light of the world and Christians believe that Jesus dwells in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.  It is important that we allow the light of Christ to shine forth in our lives.  Our actions, words, and our attitudes should all reflect the light of Christ.

That is even more true if we find ourselves in a dark place surrounded by evil, tragedy, or difficulty.  Let the light of Christ shine even more brightly in that day.

The Goal of War

April 7, 2010

Sitting next to our computer is a brass casing from a 105mm tank round.  No, I did not steal it.  I served in the USMC back in the eighties as a tank crewman and one day we were given instructions to use up the remaining brass rounds that were on hand.  Our company commander then authorized us each to keep one of the casings as a souvenir.  That was many years ago, but I still have one in my possesion.

It is visually contradictory, because we have a bouquet of artificial flowers stuffed into the top. 

I read a great quote the other day, “The goal of war is a just peace.”  and I suppose that my unusual flower stand could be used as a symbol of that statement.  The round is spent. It is no longer a threat or a danger, yet it is a reminder of a past reality.  The flowers that are supported by it currently, are a present beauty.

My hope, and prayer for our returning troops, and for the countries now in conflict, is that a time of peace will come, and that beauty may be restored, both to individual lives, and to whole countries.