Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"What Should I Do?"

“What is God’s will for my life?”  Every disciple of Jesus Christ has likely asked this question.  Normally, we are concerned about the will of God regarding the big decisions we have to make.  Decisions like: “What job should I take?”  “Should I go to college?”  “Should I get married?”  “Who should I marry?”  “Should we have children?”  These big questions (and others like them) are important and we ought to seek God’s input as we make our choices.

But what about the “little” decisions of life?  What could I do this week that would honor God’s will for my life?

I can forgive someone who has wronged or offended me (Mark 11:25-26; Luke 17:3-4; Ephesians 4:32).
I can share someone’s burden (Galatians 6:2).
I can be patient with an immature believer (Romans 15:1)
I can encourage a fellow disciple (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13).
I can choose to be with the family of God (Hebrews 10:25).
I can rejoice with those who are happy (Romans 12:15).
I can weep with those who are sad (Romans 12:15).
I can abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
I can seek to gently restore someone who has given into temptation (Galatians 6:1).
I can speak truthfully to my neighbor (Ephesians 4:25).
I can pray for my brothers and sister in Christ (James 5:16).

How’s that for a start?  I can choose any action from the list above and know, without a doubt, that I am smack-dab directly in the center of God’s will for my life.  No need to wait on a word from the Lord because He has already given it.  No need to pray for discernment because God has plainly revealed His will in these matters.  When I am uncertain about God’s direction in one area of my life, I can always get busy with what I know God wants me to do.  Is there anything on the list that you could do this week?

God loves you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Responding Judiciously

The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding “Obamacare” has unleashed a flood of negative responses from those opposed to the plan.  Some of my Facebook friends were quick to voice their disapproval.  They certainly have the right to do that.  Some strong, even caustic, comments were directed toward the majority side of the 5-4 court ruling and toward Chief Justice Roberts specifically.  The sentiment seemed to be that 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices were running roughshod over the Constitution and that Justice Roberts was a traitor.
My purpose here is not to debate the merits and demerits of “Obamacare.”  Even what little I know about it has raised some real concerns in my own mind.  I have my doubts that it is the right answer to the health care problem in our country.  But I am also reminded that what we currently have isn’t working too well either.  So the debate rages on.

What concerns me is the tone of the debate.  What the current discourse has reinforced for me is just how fickle we can be.  I have to wonder how the tone of the discussion among religious conservatives would have changed if the subject of the ruling was different.  Imagine if the court would have voted 5-4 to uphold a ban on abortion.  Instead of hyperventilating about judicial activism, there would have been praise for the courage of the majority.  Instead of vilifying the swing voter, he would have been proclaimed a hero for standing up for what is right regardless of the pressure.  What changed?  Just the issue.  Because I am for it, it’s just common sense.  Because I am against it, it’s of the devil.
Again, my purpose is not to persuade anyone on the issue.  You are entitled to your opinion.  I am trying to get us to think about how we respond in the debate.  Before clicking “post” on our latest social media rant, let’s pause long enough to think about the Kingdom we represent and how Jesus might react in the same situation.
God loves you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blind Spots

“A car's blind spot is one of life's accepted inconveniences. Check your mirror, lean forward, look over your shoulder and change lanes. That is standard operating procedure.  But a math professor from Drexel University in Philadelphia named Andrew Hicks has designed a curved mirror that eliminates most of that blind spot, using a mathematic algorithm that increases your field of view from the current standard of 15 to 17 degrees to an astonishing 45 degrees without distorting the image.  To achieve the design without the fun-house or fish-eye effect, Professor Hicks's patented design is similar to a disco ball with tiny individual mirrors precisely directed using his algorithm, so that each ray of light bouncing of the mirror shows a wide yet undistorted view.  But don't expect the newest car designs to roll off the production line with these mirrors just yet. At this point, manufacturers are still required to install side view mirrors that are flat, due to issues with distortion. But Prof. Hick's just received his patent so it may take some time for the rules to catch up. Until then, you will most likely first see the mirrors in aftermarket car part stores where curved mirrors are allowed to be sold. And don't be alarmed - while the prototype cost an exorbitant $20,000, expanded manufacturing will greatly reduce the cost for consumers” (Yahoo News, 6-14-12).

Now if we could just find a way to deal with spiritual blind spots.  According to Jesus, spiritual blind spots occur when our spiritual eyesight is distorted or blocked by foreign material, such as logs (Luke 6:41-42).  These kinds of blind spots are dangerous because they can cause us to overlook our own faults and to be critical of the faults of others.  And fancy mirrors aren’t the solution.  The only remedy is to clear our vision so that we can correctly assess our own faults before moving on to help others with their faults.  Anyone have a log extractor that I can borrow?

God loves you!

"I Absolutely Could Not Wait"

Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries to the Philippines, were kidnapped along with several others by Muslim extremists on May 27, 2001 and held for ransom.  This is a fairly common occurrence in that part of the world and it usually ends with the ransom being paid and the hostages being released in a relatively short time.  This group of detainees expected the same treatment.  But due to a number of extenuating circumstances, the Burnhams ended up being held captive for just over a year.  In The Presence Of My Enemies is Gracia Burnham’s eyewitness account of the extreme struggle the hostages faced during their captivity.  Martin Burnham was eventually killed during a gunbattle with Philippine government forces on June 7, 2002.  Gracia Burnham was wounded but rescued and airlifted to safety.

The last part of the book records Mrs. Burnham’s thoughts after finally being reunited with her children and how the year as a hostage caused her to view some things differently.  I was particularly struck by one paragraph: “The next day was Sunday -- an ordinary Sunday to millions of other people, but not to me.  This was my first chance in more than a year to go to church.  I absolutely could not wait.  So many Sundays in the jungle I had sat on the ground thinking of the high privilege of gathering with other believers to worship God.  To sit in a pew (actually, in my case, they parked my wheelchair in the center aisle), to sing again, to pray, to listen to the Word of God -- it was exquisite” (In The Presence Of My Enemies, Gracia Burnham and Dean Merrill, 2010, Kindle edition)

I know it is fashionable today for even some believers to bash “the church.”  The practice of regularly assembling with fellow believers is chided as being out-dated, irrelevant, or unimportant.  Maybe we are taking too much for granted.  Perhaps if we were suddenly deprived of the privilege of assembling, it would mean more to us.  But, then again, maybe not.  What do you think?
God loves you!