Monday, January 26, 2009

Sewing Days

Elissa told me recently "Mom, I'm so glad you taught me to sew". Now I have 2 more budding seamstresses. Taylor and Tessa have been sewing by hand for quite some time and when I'm not in the middle of a project I let them sew on the machine with me. Recently I got out quilt squares that I've been working on for almost 4 years and finished the blocks. It was time to let the twins have a go at the machine all by themselves! They LOVED it and both came away with fingers intact. It's a little hard to see the blocks on my floral bedspread, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In The World But Not Of The World

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company” (George Washington). This good advice has a biblical ring to it, doesn’t it? Actually, the Scriptures often counsel us to choose our associations carefully. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). “A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good” (Proverbs 16:29). “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” (Proverbs 22:24-25). Other verses could be cited but these few make the point crystal clear: Choose your companions carefully!

So…we should all retreat within the walls of our secluded monasteries to avoid contamination by the world, right? We should only associate with God-fearing, Bible-believing, sin-avoiding people like us, right? Wrong! A quick survey of the words and actions of Jesus dispel any thoughts of isolationism. He was known to associate with the “wrong” crowds. He was characterized as “a friend of…sinners” (Matthew 11:19). When the religious folk confronted Him about His “questionable” associations, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Is God calling us to contradictory purposes? No. Is it possible to balance God’s call to avoid bad company with God’s call to reach out to sinners? Yes. The key is in the results of the relationships. If we are able to be salt and light in a dark world without damage to our faith and witness, then praise God for the outreach. But when the darkness starts to overwhelm us and we begin to adopt the sinful practices of those we seek to influence, then it becomes time to limit the association.

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rock Theology

“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:8-9).

Some Pharisees and Sadducees were among the large crowds who responded to John’s preaching concerning repentance and the kingdom of heaven. As their turn came to be baptized, John confronts them regarding their prideful attitudes which were keeping them from acting upon their professions of repentance. Apparently, these men felt that their ancestral link to Abraham exempted them from having to make certain changes in their lives. John bluntly shatters their delusions of self-importance by reminding them that, if necessary, God can make descendants of Abraham out of rocks!

I need to be reminded of the same thing from time to time. Like when I become prideful of my own efforts to serve God. Like when I get to thinking that I am so valuable to the cause of Christ. Like when I presume God needs my help in defending Himself. Like when I assume my opinions or preferences ought to be everyone else’s opinions or preferences. Like when I believe God can’t get along without me. It is precisely at these times that I also need to remember that I can be replaced by a rock!

Am I important to God? Am I valuable to Him? Of course! But it is not because of my perceived abilities, usefulness, understandings, or accomplishments. I have no intrinsic value – any worth I have is granted to me by the grace of God. God isn’t lucky to have me on His team – instead, I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve Him. God doesn’t need me – but I desperately need Him.

Lord, when my own unworthiness becomes overshadowed by my illusions of self-importance, please gently remind me that my significance comes from who You are instead of who I am. Thank you for the incredible privilege of being Your servant.

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Brother Like That

Cory Collins shared this story in a recent bulletin of the Mars Hill Church of Christ in Florence Alabama: “Dan Clark relates the true story of his friend Paul receiving a new car as a gift from his brother. A poor boy admired the shiny automobile and asked, “Is this your car, Mister?” Paul nodded. “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.” The boy’s eyes opened wide. “Boy, I wish…” He hesitated. Of course, Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels. “I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.” Paul was astonished. He took the boy for a ride; the boy asked Paul to stop at some steps. He ran inside and came out carrying his crippled little brother. He showed him the car, told him how Paul got it, and said, “One day I’m gonna give you one just like it!”

What a rare attitude! Perhaps we have bought into the idea that the church would be a better place if we just had better spiritual brothers and sisters. “If brother so-and-so would act like a Christian, our congregation would be much better off.” “If sister so-and-so would soften her heart, the church would be a more peaceful place.”

When faced with challenging circumstances in the body of Christ, let me suggest that we begin to deal with them by looking internally instead of externally. Instead of wishing that others would change, I could determine to be more Christ-like myself. Instead of hoping that others would treat me better, I could resolve to treat others as I would like to be treated. Instead of thinking that others should do more, I could set an example with my own involvement.

Lord, instead of being so quick to see the flaws of others, would you help me to be who You have called me to be. May I be “…a brother like that…”

God loves you!