Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Big Picture

Researchers at the University of Alabama are using modern technology to uncover ancient ruins. Instead of digging and sifting through tons of dirt by hand, these scientists used satellite images taken by powerful infrared cameras orbiting some 400 miles above the surface of the earth. These images have allowed the researchers to “see” the ruins lying underneath the earth’s surface. So far, they “...have located seventeen lost pyramids, 1,000 tombs and more than 3,000 ancient settlements in Egypt.” Already being referred to as “space archaeology,” this new technology holds a lot of promise for efforts in studying the past. A lead scientist on the project was quoted as saying: “Indiana Jones is old school, we’ve moved on from Indy; sorry Harrison Ford” (Source: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/25/17-lost-egyptian-pyramids-space/).

The implications of these new techniques for the field of archaeology are truly staggering. But in a more general way, this article reminded me again of how greater insight is often gained by stepping back rather than getting closer to any particular situation. As the old saying goes, “sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.” This is true in family problems. Those most directly involved in a family issue are often unable to deal with it in an effective way because they are too closely involved. Sometimes assistance from one not so closely involved is necessary to help the family step back and see the big picture. Congregations can also have the same struggles. We get caught up in the day-to-day issues and problems of life because that is where we live. If we are not careful, we can become so narrowly focused that we also miss the big picture.

When we view the work of God from “satellite distance”, some amazing things start to happen. We begin to see opportunities we have never seen before. Problems and fears begin to shrink when they are compared to the plans and desires of God. Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and look at the big picture.

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Did You Miss Judgment Day?

If you are reading this article, a false prophet has been exposed once again. Harold Camping, a Bay Area radio preacher, has been boldly predicting that the Judgment Day of God would occur on Saturday, May 21, 2011. His own website (familyradio.com) clearly describes what was to take place: “On May 21, 2011, two events will occur. These events could not be more opposite in nature, the one more wonderful than can be imagined; the other more horrific than can be imagined. A great earthquake will occur -- the Bible describes it as "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." This earthquake will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God. On the other hand, the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed. The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description. Each day people will die until October 21, 2011 when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants.” In answer to the question “What if May 21 ends and nothing occurs?”, the website gives this answer: “The Biblical evidence is too overwhelming and specific to be wrong...God in His mercy has revealed the vital information needed to know the day. Judgment Day on May 21, 2011 will occur because the bible declares it.” So...since it didn’t happen, I guess God and the Bible are to blame, not Mr. Camping!

Time will tell what excuses Camping offers for HIS failure. Sadly, some of his disciples will become disillusioned and give up on God altogether. Others will continue to blindly fund his ministry, enabling him to continue to mislead others. And the world will laugh at the rest of us who believe in God and endeavor to teach what the Bible really says. Sigh...

God loves you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

You Talk Funny

Karen Butler hasn’t been the same since she had oral surgery a year and a half ago. While the swelling and numbness didn’t last too long for the Newport, Oregon woman, an unexpected side effect has remained. Butler came out of anesthesia with a foreign accent. That’s right -- this native Oregonian now sounds like she grew up in the British Isles or Australia. Doctors have diagnosed her with a neurological condition known as “foreign accent syndrome.” It is quite rare, with only 60 recorded cases over the last 100 years. Normally, it is caused by strokes, but it has also been linked to migraines, head injuries, and multiple sclerosis. In Butler’s case, doctors are puzzled over what brought it on, since the normal factors don’t appear to be present. Regardless of the reason, oral surgery changed Karen Butler’s life. She no longer speaks like she once did.

When God operates on our hearts, our speech is expected to change. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:8-9). “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). “...(A)nd there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). “...(F)rom the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:10).

May we all be afflicted with spiritual “foreign accent syndrome.” May the words we choose and the way we talk reveal us to be foreigners (Philippians 3:20).

God loves you!


“After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors had a telephone network more than 100 years ago. Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed English scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters. Shortly thereafter, headlines in the English newspapers read: ‘English archaeologists have found traces of 200-year-old copper wire and have concluded their ancestors had an advanced high-tech communication network a hundred years earlier than the Scots. One week later, The Kerrymen, a southwest Irish newspaper, reported the following: ‘After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat bog near Tralee, Paddy O Droll, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Paddy has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Ireland had already gone wireless’” (Glad Tidings of Good Things, Vol. 30, May 6, 2010).

The humor in this fictitious story is strengthened by the real-life rivalries between the countries involved. Most of us have a competitive streak at one level or another and a good-natured rivalry can be beneficial in many ways. But rivalries can also become unhealthy. Jesus had to deal with an unhealthy attitude of rivalry among His own disciples. “John said to Him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us’” (Mark 9:38-40).

In the midst of our efforts to advance the kingdom of God, let’s remember that every disciple of Jesus Christ is on the same team. We are not rivals. There is no need to oppose or denigrate the efforts of a teammate. If you are not against me, you are for me. Serving Christ is a community effort, not a competition.

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Little Is Much

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go. For even if you have defeated the entire of Chaldeans who were fighting against you, and there were only wounded men left among them, each man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire’” (Jeremiah 37:9-10).

We are impressed when we read the biblical stories of how God’s people were able to win unlikely victories over more numerous and better equipped enemies. By the power of God, they were able to overcome great odds. I’m thinking of men like Gideon who, with God’s help and a small army of 300 men, routed the combined forces of the Midianite and Amalekite armies (Judges 7). Who can forget the young shepherd boy who, with God’s help and some skill in handling a sling, became a giant slayer (1 Samuel 17)? In fact, during the reign of King Hezekiah, God defeated the entire Assyrian army without a single soldier of Judah going to battle (2 Kings 19)! The size and strength of the enemy doesn’t matter when God is with you.

But we also need to remember that the opposite is true. The size and strength of the enemy doesn’t matter when God is opposed to you. In the time of Jeremiah, God brought the Chaldean army against His own people to discipline them for their rebellion. Jerusalem was under siege and the people of Judah were doing what they could to survive the onslaught. For a brief time, the Chaldeans lifted the siege to engage the Egyptian army that was coming to Judah’s aid. Those in Judah were encouraged by this turn of events. Maybe they would escape! But God warns them not to get their hopes up. He tells them the Chaldeans would accomplish their God-given task even if their army was reduced to just a handful of wounded soldiers.

Little is much when God is in it...regardless of whether you are for Him or against Him.

God loves you!