Archive for February, 2012

Yield!

February 28, 2012

When the light is green it is your right to drive through the intersection.

Way back in high school, I was driving home after class, when I had an interesting event.  I had stopped at a red light, a block away from my house.  When the light turned green I started to accelerate, but I noticed a truck coming out of the corner of my eye.  He wasn’t slowing down.  I stepped back on the brake and watched him sail through the intersection directly in front of me.  I can still see the look on his face as he realized, too late, that the light was red.  My friend who was riding with me, said “Wow!  I’m glad you were driving!  Greg or John would have accelerated right into the path of that truck.”

I learned an important lesson that day.  I had the right to drive through the intersection, but to avoid a collision, I needed to yield.  That lesson has served me well through decades of driving both automobiles and motorcycles.   You may have the right-of-way, but sometimes it is right to yield for the sake of safety.

Knowing when to yield is important in many other parts of life.  There are many situations where we can either stand firm, or “yield” the right of way.  This is true in family matters, work issues, neighbors, politics, and so on.  The first step is to recognize that things do not have to always go our way.  The second step is even harder.  That is being able to recognize when to stand firm, and when to yield.

Following the Lord

February 27, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday.

I. Numbers 9:15-20  Following the Lord

The children of Israel had a physical symbol of the presence of God in their midst.  There was a pillar of smoke by day, and a column of fire by night over the tabernacle.  When the pillar lifted, they would break camp.  When the pillar settled, they made camp.  They had no doubt about how God was guiding them.

We do not have a physical symbol, but we do have a spiritual reality.  We have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our lives.  If we are asking God to guide us, we can trust that He will direct our choices so that we are fulfilling His plan for our lives.

II.  Numbers 11:1-6  Israel Grew Tired of the Lord’s Provision

The people complained about only having manna to eat.  They fondly remembered the food that they enjoyed back in Egypt.  God sent fire among them and some died.

We need to be careful not to complain about the provision of God for our lives.  We should enjoy, and be thankful for, the things that we do have, rather than pining for something else.  After all, we have the presence of God in our lives.  Everything else, in comparison, is truly insignificant.

III.  Numbers 21:4-9  The People are Discouraged

It has been a long trip.   The people are discouraged and again complain about the manna.  God sends serpents as a judgement and many die.

How should we respond to disappointment or discouragement?  Together with Paul we should learn to “rejoice in the Lord” even when our circumstances are less than we desire.  God is with us always, even if we do not have a pillar of smoke or a column of fire to remind us of that fact.

IV. By My Spirit… Zechariah 4:6

We are able to maintain a good attitude by the Spirit of God.  We retain the influence of the Spirit through regular devotions and corporate worship.  As God speaks to us by His Word, and by His Spirit, we are to respond with faith and obedience.  We should continue to trust God, that He will provide the necessary wisdom, strength and assistance that we need.  We should also recognize the goodness of the Lord that is present in the current circumstances.  We should enjoy the blessings that we have received, rather than whining about wanting something ‘better’. God gives good gifts to His children.  Do we appreciate them?

Traffic Cameras

February 23, 2012

Here in Iowa there are a number of cities that utilize cameras for both speeding and red-light violations.  The Iowa congress is debating banning the use of cameras for traffic law enforcement purposes.

I fully support the use of cameras,  for the following reasons.

Speeding and running red lights increase the risk of accidents.

People are less likely to speed or run a red light if they know they will get a ticket.

There will likely be fewer accidents in areas that utilize cameras.

People who are ticketed shouldn’t have been breaking the law.

People should not expect privacy on public streets.

Criminals do not deserve privacy so that they can break the law.

The income from fines can be put to good use.

Owners are responsible for their vehicles.  If a car is loaned to someone other than the registered owner, the owner should recoup their costs from the person to whom they loaned the vehicle.   If that is a problem, then people will be more judicious about whom they let use their vehicle.

I suspect that the only people who really oppose traffic cameras are people who habitually disregard traffic laws.

Oh…

Many people do habitually disregard traffic laws.

No wonder there is such a fuss.

Leadership Opportunity

February 21, 2012

Each year I hope that the president will present a budget that shows significant improvement by reducing the deficit.  Each year I have been sadly disappointed.  I do not want to hear about savings over a ten-year span.  I want to see changes in the current year.  No household, or business, can simply continue to operate in the red, talking about what they will do in the future.  They would go bankrupt, and/or, out of business.  Have we not learned anything from observing Greece?  Is there not a recognition of the urgency?  When will someone provide the necessary leadership and make the necessary changes?

Our country has a leadership opportunity.  Will someone please step up?

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012

Today is Valentine’s Day.

This will be a great day for some people and a lousy day for many others.  I believe that many in  American society have a distorted view of love.  True love is not simply the infatuation of a moment, or of a few weeks or months, or even years: but rather it is a life-long commitment of going through life together.

For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.

True love is not a fleeting passion,  but a commitment to share in the varied experiences of life together; and to find ways to make the most of the journey.

The Spirit Within

February 13, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from February 12.

Introduction:  Even as the special mentioned, it is wonderful to know that we can call on Jesus: that He is always present and able to help those who are in need.

I.  John 13:34-35 Love One Another

Is this what people see in us?  Sometimes church people can be mean to each other, and cold to outsiders.  I wonder if people would say that our love for one another is obvious.  Do we extend the love of God to those who visit?  How do we love people who are different, boring, or obnoxious?

II.  John 14:15-17  The Spirit as Teacher

We are to keep the commandments of Christ, including the one to love one another.  We can do this because God gives us the Holy Spirit.  He will help us to live, and to love as we should.  This sets us apart from the world.  The Spirit will dwell within our hearts.

Verses 23-24:  Again there is a reference to God dwelling with us.  We can rest assured that God is with us in whatever trial we face.  We are not alone.

Verses 25-27:  The Spirit will be our teacher.  We will learn to do what is right.  We can be at peace.

III.  John 15:9-11  That Your Joy Might Be Full

The love of God is freely given to us.  The presence of the Holy Spirit changes us.  We are able to keep the commandments of Christ because of the Spirit within us.  As we walk with God our joy will be full.

If you are walking in willful disobedience to the commands of God, do not be surprised if your joy is diminished, and your peace is disturbed.

IV.  John 16:33: Power to Overcome

We can anticipate that we will have tests and trials in this life, but we can be at peace because Christ has overcome the world.  Our joy and our peace are not dependent on external circumstances, but on the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Conclusion:  The Holy Spirit dwells within us.   It is the Spirit that fills us with the love of God.  The Spirit enables us to love one another, and to keep the commandments.  The Spirit guides us into truth, helps us to know how we should live, and brings love, joy, and peace into our lives.   God freely gives us His Holy Spirit to be our ever-present Helper.

Helath Care Reform and the Catholics

February 9, 2012

There has been information in the news recently about further implications of the health care reform and the impact that it will have on Catholic institutions, such as universities and hospitals.  Simply put, these institutions will be required to provide coverage in their health care packages for their employees that goes against Catholic teaching.  Specifically, “preventative care” including birth control pills, the morning after pill, and RU 486, which is a medication that induces an abortion.

Catholic institutions do not forbid their employees to use these products, they simply do not provide for them in their health care package.  They do not provide them because of a conflict with their religious teaching.

Churches are exempt from this part of the reform, why not religious institutions?  This is government control of religious practice.  This mandate should have no place in a country that practices religious freedom.

The Grace of God

February 7, 2012

Yesterday was a long day.  The specific details are not important.  What is important is that I am again reminded that the grace of God is sufficient.  Whatever circumstances we are facing, whatever is going on in our lives, the grace of God is sufficient for us.  This is true for all believers.  God does not abandon us.  His grace truly is sufficient for us, for this day, whatever the day may bring our way.

A Simple Choice

February 6, 2012

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday.

Introduction:  Today is Superbowl Sunday.  As the playoffs were underway there was a lot of discussion over a commercial that had aired during one of the games.  The commercial featured children reciting John 3:16.  Apparently some people found that to be offensive.  I thought it was cute.  I just think that some people don’t get it.

I.  John 1:1-5  The Light Shines in the Darkness

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Jesus is the Word.  Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness, but some people do not comprehend it.  They don’t understand.

II.  John 3:14-17  The Good News

Almost certainly someone in the crowd today at the game will be holding up a sign with John 3:16 written on it.  Many people will know the reference.  Some will not.  The good news is that Jesus came into the world to save the world, not to condemn the world.  It is the ultimate demonstration of the love of God for the people in the world.

III.  The Sad Truth

There are those who do not believe.  In not believing, they are condemned already, for they have not accepted the forgiveness offered by God in Christ.  The truth is that they prefer the darkness over the light, because their deeds are evil.

This does not mean that we are saved by our works.  Rather we are saved by our faith in Jesus, which in turn, will produce lives marked by righteousness.  (See I John 5:3-5)

Conclusion:  This past week I had been reading in Leviticus.  In chapter 26 there are two conditional statements.  If you obey me, I will bless you; and if you disobey, I will punish you.  This idea of a simple choice is set before us over and over again in scripture.  Belief and obedience are rewarded.  Disbelief and disobedience are punished.

Which will you choose?

Church Game Night

February 2, 2012

Once in a while our church sponsors a game-night.  There is almost no cost involved and the concept is pretty simple.  People bring their favorite games to play and snacks to share.  It is open to everybody, and people of all ages participate.   Someone has to take responsibility to open the church and clean up afterward, but still, it is a relatively stress-free activity.

And it is a hit.

People of all ages come and enjoy themselves.  It is a great church-family activity.