Health Care And The Responsibility Of The Church


The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that President Obama’s health care bill is Constitutional, besides coming as a surprise, has stirred up considerable discussion, some vitriolic and some jeering, depending on which side of the issue a person falls.

I have a tangle of thoughts that I haven’t sorted out yet. Maybe I can do that here.

First, I believe President Obama’s intention is to right a wrong. It’s wrong, for example, for insurance companies to deny coverage to people once they get sick. It’s also wrong for medical costs and insurance rates to be so high poor people can’t afford insurance and small businesses can’t afford to offer that benefit to their workers.

One of the arguments for this health bill is that the uninsured cost the rest of society because medical professionals must raise their rates on everyone else in order to make up what they lose treating those without insurance.

Here’s where I think things have gone astray. Once, doctors didn’t expect to get rich by practicing medicine. They understood that their time was not their own and that they might get paid in eggs over weeks and weeks, if at all. That was OK with them because they saw their job as a service to the community. They were willing to work sacrificially for the good of others.

All that’s gone. Now doctors and hospitals and pharmacies and insurance companies are in business. It’s all about making money.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are some dedicated doctors and nurses out there, doing what they can within the system. But by and large, the health profession has changed from a helping profession to a lucrative one. As far as I’m concerned, it’s wrong for individuals or a corporation to get rich off the misery of others. Insurance companies, if we’re to use them, ought to be non-profits. But it’s probably too late to close that barn door.

That’s not all that went wrong, I don’t think. Health insurance has reduced the sense of obligation for a neighbor to look out for those in his community.

Years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had good health care, but as a single, unable to work for a time, her disability insurance only went so far to cover her rent, utilities, food, and the like. Her church and the Christians she worked with rallied around her, and she told me that the months when she was unable to teach, she actually made more money than when she was working. Christians stepped up to care for her much the way Scripture instructed believers to provide for widows.

Insurance or no insurance, believers are supposed to care for one another and to help the poor. But more and more, the government is stepping in to do what the Church is supposed to do. Has government taken on the role of providing for the needy because believers no longer live in obedience to the Word of God?

I suppose it’s futile to try and figure out what caused the breakdown of the Church’s role as the primary resource for the poor. I have to believe, however, that “universal” health care will only increase this trend. Who will think to help his co-worker who is going in for surgery? That’s what we have insurance for, isn’t it?

And how will individuals learn to trust God in the crunch of adversity? We have insurance now. Our trust is in the government programs.

Except, the reality is, government programs fail.

This week the city of Stockton, California, has been in the news because they had to declare bankruptcy. Another city, I believe, declared they were cutting back on city employee pensions which had provided them with something like 80% of their salary after they retired, for the rest of their lives! How anyone ever thought that was a workable arrangement, I have no idea, but the thing is, those employees undoubtedly put their trust in their government pensions.

But shouldn’t our trust be in God? And hasn’t God given His people the mandate to share with those in need?

Every time I read God’s plan for the nation of Israel, I’m amazed. If they had followed what God set down, there would have been no poverty among them. It’s quite an involved plan that included a “jubilee,” or a time of giving back to the former owner the land you’d bought. In essence no one actually bought land. They bought a number of harvest seasons before the next jubilee.

Unfortunately unscrupulous rulers like Jezebel and King Ahab ignored God’s law and took what they wanted which brought the whole system down.

I bring this up because I believe God has structured and called the Church to look out for the needy and for one another so that there should be little poverty today.

Instead, we have the government inserting itself in our affairs, ordering us to look out for ourselves.

It strikes me that Peter instructed believers in his first letter to submit to “governors as sent by [the king] for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Peter 2:14). Today, however, the government has decided it’s up to them, the leadership, to do right instead of praising individuals who do so.

The question that comes up next is, Who then will punish or praise the government?

That’s the best I can do for now. What are your thoughts about the Supreme Court decision?

Warnings Or Threats


Jesus Christ came to seek and to save. That cost Him His life. But Scripture also says He gave us an example to follow. Peter said it clearly in his first letter.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:22-24)

So Christ is our model. When he was condemned, censured, abused, attacked, He didn’t sling invectives back. While he was beaten bloody, while he hung dying, He didn’t curse those who were responsible. He didn’t threaten them with Hell, and surely He could have.

I started thinking about threats in the context of warning sinners about their eternal destiny if they don’t repent.

I’ve said before that part of a Christian’s responsibility is to tell people the truth about what their headed towards. How else can they turn from the error of their ways if they haven’t heard that their ways are leading to destruction?

I’ve likened the Christian’s role to that of an emergency worker warning traffic that up ahead the bridge is out. They can’t slow down and carefully easy their way forward. No, the bridge is gone! If they continue down the road, they will crash. No other option. They must either turn around or die.

Is that a threat?

I know some atheists think so. They look at Christians as gleeful in their pronouncements of doom.

The truth is, there’s a difference between warning someone of impending disaster and threatening someone with it. In the first case, the person is trying to prevent harm and in the second, he is calling it down on another’s head.

Sadly, I believe the Christian’s job to proclaim the truth about God’s justice is much harder as a result of a misguided group of people professing Christ but listening to false teaching–the Westboro Baptist folks.

They were in the news here in SoCal a week ago as they made plans to come and picket the funeral of a soldier killed in combat. As it turned out, they didn’t show up, but the local community was up in arms and ready to spring a counter-protest.

These wrong-headed people from Kansas are in no way following in Jesus’s steps. This from a news release sent out days before the funeral and still available on their web site:

GOD HATES AMERICA & IS KILLING
YOUR TROOPS IN HIS WRATH.
Military funerals have become pagan orgies of
idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the
dunghill gods of Sodom & play taps to a fallen fool.

The last line is the worst: “THANK GOD FOR IEDs.” That would be the weapon used to kill this soldier.

So how is it that people like this think they are walking in obedience to God’s will? Christ was suffering but He made no threats. Do they think that because they’re not the ones suffering, it’s OK to issue threats and recrimination?

In the end, all they accomplish is to confuse society so that when someone wants to issue a warning, it’s taken as a threat. But that’s what false teaching does–it plays right into the hands of Satan, the father of lies.

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on Warnings Or Threats  
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The “Manination” Of Animals


Manination. It’s sort of the opposite of incarnation. But let me explain.

A day or so ago the news carried a story about a first that is bizarre even for Hollywood. It seems Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar Award winning movie The Artist became the first dog to have his paw prints immortalized in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

You know, that’s the tourist trap hot spot where all the famous stars have their Stars on the sidewalk. So now, along with the hand prints of actors like Cary Grant and Lucille Ball, you can visit Uggie’s paw prints.

Uggie’s, I thought, not Lassie’s or Rin Tin Tin’s? Not even Benji’s? I mean really. Uggie?

But then I saw the look on the poor dog’s face as his trainer took hold of his front paws and pressed them into the wet cement. It was the most forlorn look. A sort of despairing, “What are they doing to me” look mixed with, “If I have to, I have to.”

What next, I thought. We already dress dogs up with hats and holiday outfits. We have TV shows about them and dog health insurance. We even have dog spas and boutiques.

Of course for this celebration there was at least a nod to Uggie’s dogginess. After all, they gave him a fire hydrant shaped cake.

Really? you might say. A cake? Dogs generally don’t consider fire hydrants things to eat!

I’m with you on that. They also don’t usually wear bow ties or walk the red carpet, but apparently Uggie is breaking the barriers.

As I thought about this for a bit, I realized that all the training and pampering is entirely for our benefit. Uggie would undoubtedly be content chasing a ball with a ten-year-old boy or running around some farm or basking in the shade of some suburban home.

He’s a dog.

He has no aspirations for wealth or fame. Yet we, in our infinite wisdom, have decided to make Uggie humanish. We find it cute to force him into these poses and postures not natural for a dog.

How typical of Mankind. We talk a good game–all about caring for the environment and preserving endangered species, but the species we have around us on a daily basis, we want to make over in our own image.

How unlike God who came to earth in our likeness. Rather than dressing us up as little gods and prodding us to pretend we are doing what He’s doing, He came to earth to live like us so we could actually know Him as He is, so we can in truth become like Him.

I wonder how many of these faithful dog owners would volunteer to become a dog so they could be closer to their dog.

Jesus Christ stooped far more than that when He left Heaven. What’s more, He did so knowing full well that His reception wouldn’t be of the Hollywood-style Red Carpet variety.

Imagine there was a pet owner brave enough to become a dog in order to help all dogs know and understand their owners better, but instead, the dogs formed a pack and tore that owner to pieces. That’s a picture of what Jesus endured.

That’s a picture of the Incarnation, not the Manination we are forcing on dogs these days. Quite different, how we act and how God acts, don’t you think?

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm  Comments (3)  
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Book Awareness


The hardest thing about being a writer these days is getting noticed. I’m convinced of this.

I judged several contests this year and it’s apparent to me that there are some really good writers out there. I’m also a critique partner and an editor and a blog tour coordinator. I see lots of books, some that I’d like to see hit the NY Times best seller lists. But reality is, they probably won’t.

Promotion of books is hard.

It’s harder now than ever, I think, because we have had an explosion of indy publishers and an ever-growing number of self-published authors. How does anyone set themselves apart from that crowd?

I just left a Facebook Launch Party chat for one of the best books I’ve read this year. I got there late and already there were nearly 300 comments. Wow, I thought. Three hundred!

But guess what. If each of those comments was from a person who has bought or will buy the book, that’s small potatoes. And this book deserves BIG potatoes! 😉

Speculative middle grade and young adult writer Sally Apokedak is working to build her tribe, and as a result has come up with a great idea. She’s creating a semi-annual newsletter about the best picture, MG, and YA books–a great tool for parents looking for Christmas presents in the fall and for summer reads for their kiddos in the spring.

On top of this, Sally is giving away prizes. Just for signing up for this wonderful newsletter (and trust me, one look at her web site and you know she does things up right), you’ll be entered to win a Kindle Fire, or one of the other prizes available. What a deal.

But with all the goodness, you’d expect hundreds and hundreds of people to sign up, wouldn’t you? Let’s just say, she hasn’t reached those numbers yet! 😮

What’s it take, I wonder. Giving things away doesn’t seem to get you noticed any more these days.

Everyone blogs and Tweets. Writers are speakers and do interviews and book signings. Yet that’s the deal–everyone does it. How does a writer separate from the pack?

Is it brilliant marketing? A great public relations campaign?

Or do we say that God works all things for His purposes? Great marketing campaigns have been known to lay an egg and small, unheralded projects have been known to hit pay dirt.

So here’s what I think. If I ever publish my fantasy novels and they find a readership, everyone will know that it’s God at work (one of those “wonders and signs” I wrote about recently 😉 ) because I’ll tell you flat out: I haven’t got a clue how a person or a book can separate from all the others out there to actually be noticed. As I see it, it has to be something God brings about.

Published in: on June 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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Believing What You Believe


Sunday our guest preacher, Chris Ward, spoke from Ephesians 4. Great message from a young pastor headed for the teaching team at Yorba Linda Friends Church, I believe. Anyway, he pointed out that Paul started out this section of his letter about how a Christian should live by saying how a Christian should NOT live–like unbelievers.

Paul traced the problem that unbelievers have to hard hearts which spawn wrong thinking that leads to wrong actions (see Eph. 4:18-19).

He goes on to admonish the Church, not with a list of right things to do, but with how to think:

be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:23-24)

This is the same renewal of the mind that Paul talked about in the book of Romans:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

The thing that stuck with me from this message is that this renewal of the mind must be a constant thing. We know what we believe, in theory, or at least we know what the Bible says, and we say we believe the Bible, but in practice, we too often believe a lie.

Chris used Eve as an example. She knew what God had said: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Enter Satan and his questions, and suddenly Eve is believing a lie instead of the truth.

When Satan in serpent’s guise asked, Has God really said … Eve could have answered, Yes, indeed God HAS said, and He would not lie or deceive us. The end of the story would have been very different.

So today we say, for example, that God answers prayer, but in practice we don’t pray much.

One of my favorite, favorite ministries illustrates this point. I’m listening to a great series of sermons on prayer, but at the end of each, instead of asking listeners for prayer, they ask for money because this, they say, is what keeps them on the air.

Really? Not God answering the prayer of His people? It’s actually promotional ploys and slick appeals?

I know these fine folk would never say that’s what they believe, yet that’s the way they act.

I do the same kind of thing.

Charles Blondin crossing Niagara Falls

Another illustration, possibly true, possibly apocryphal, is the story of tightrope walker Charles Blondin who was known for his stunts as he crossed dangerous terrain like Niagara Falls (See “Walking The Tight Rope.”) One of those feats was to push a wheelbarrow across the wire.

After successfully completing the trek, to thunderous applause from the hundreds of onlookers, so the story goes, he turned to the crowd and said, Do you think I can do it again?

Yes, absolutely, of course you can, they shouted, clapping and urging him to push the wheelbarrow across again. He waited for them to quiet.

I’m touched by your faith in me, he said, so I’ll make the return trip. I just need a volunteer, someone who will get into the wheelbarrow.

No one stepped forward. The crowd all believed in theory that he could push the wheelbarrow back to the other side, but they didn’t believe with their lives.

As Christians, we need to believe with our lives, and that comes as we renew our minds. We need to recall moment by moment the truth about God–who He is and what relationship we now have in Him–and bring it to bear in any and every circumstance.

We believe, for example, that God is good. Consequently, when I experience a disappointing result or a hurtful comment or a life-threatening situation, I need most of all to renew my mind and recall that these circumstances don’t mean God is not good. Rather, because He is good, I need to understand that He has allowed, in His goodness, what feels so hard to bear.

Why would He do that?

If I am to believe what I believe I must continue to search the Scriptures and to pray in order to think aright about what is difficult. The alternative would be something like shaking my fist at God and demanding that He fix things–essentially saying, He is not good, that He’s messed up, that I know better than He, and that He owes me better than what I’m getting. It would be to say with the people of Israel, I want to go back to Egypt.

Yet I say I believe God is good.

Only by renewing my mind can I live as if I believe what I believe, and jump into the wheelbarrow.

Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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Signs And Wonders


God is powerful and does amazing things, never more clearly demonstrated than when He sent Jesus, God incarnate, to live on Earth with those He created. God’s greatest feat, yet this is the one that a great many people deny. Here is the line of demarcation that divides humanity.

The thing is, Jesus came with proof.

Recently as I read the book of John, I noted how many times that gospel referred to the signs Jesus did. And yet, you know what the Pharisees asked for as proof He was the Messiah? Yep, signs.

As I look at it, Satan seems to be most concerned with calling into question Jesus’s identity. I’ve studied and analyzed the record we have of those three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, comparing them to the classifications of sin mentioned in 1 John (“the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,” – 2:16), and to the specific doubts Satan stirred in Eve (“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise” – Gen. 3:6, emphasis mine).

But more recently I began to see these temptations as a direct challenge by Satan demanding that Jesus prove His deity–(“If you are the Son of God…,” “If you are the Son of God …,” and then turning it on its head, “If you worship me…”) This “prove it” demand was the same one the Pharisees hounded Him for, all the way to the end. Even as He hung on the cross, they were saying, If you’re the Christ, get yourself down from there.

The real issue with Jesus throughout history is whether He is who He said He is.

Toward the end of his gospel, John gave a clear statement of his purpose for writing–an explanation for his preoccupation with signs:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

John also recorded Jesus’s own statement about the witnesses He had. In the Jewish context no fact was established without two or three witnesses. Jesus came in with three several times.

The point is this. The signs and wonders in Jesus’s day had a specific purpose. They established His identity.

They also served a definite purpose in the early Church–they established the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. First in the disciples, then in the other Jewish converts, and later in the Gentile believers.

So what about signs and wonders today?

I have no doubt God can do signs and wonders today. He can multiply bread, move mountains, heal the blind, raise the dead. He is still God, after all.

But what’s the point?

Part of me thinks, Well, need, for one thing. There are people who need food and who can’t see and who have died. But just like the fact that Jesus didn’t come to establish an earthly kingdom, He didn’t come to set up a utopia either. All the people Jesus healed eventually died of some other cause. They didn’t stay cured. Not physically, anyway.

The signs and wonders, though, point to the real reason Jesus came. He conquered death. He defeated sin. He triumphed over Satan. His signs and wonders were the precursor to the ultimate victory He enjoyed, breaking the bonds of sin and establishing the Way to reconciliation with the Father.

Signs and wonders are not the gift. A magician named Simon discovered that. He of all people, who presumably had trafficked in the dark arts, was amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit, released when the apostles laid hands on people. Simon wanted that power.

But it wasn’t for sale. The power was nothing more than the evidence of that which Simon could have–the indwelling Holy Spirit who would seal him for salvation.

Signs and wonders? They aren’t the big thing. They are merely the evidence of He who is Bigger, Grander, Mightier than we can imagine, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He’s given us all the signs we could ever want to believe that He is who He says He is.

Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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Wasn’t He Suppose To Wait Tables?


Generally Stephen is referred to as the first Christian martyr and yet when you look at the Biblical account of his life, short though it is, you discover that his position in the church was one of “helps.” I suppose the equivalent in my church would be “deacon.”

Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to take care of a group of widows who were not receiving what they needed. When made aware of the problem, the apostles told the Church that they ought not “neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.”

The plan, then, was for the Church to choose seven men “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” The apostles would then be free to focus on “prayer and the ministry of the word.”

One of the seven was Philip, and yet somehow he ended up going to Samaria and preaching to crowds. At what must have seemed like the height of that ministry, however, the Spirit of God sent him back to Judea in order to explain Scripture to an Ethiopian traveling back home from Jerusalem.

After he baptized the man, the Spirit of the Lord “snatched” him away and he ended up near the Mediterranean Sea, in Azotus (present day Esdûd), one of the five chief cities of the Philistines, where he picked up his preaching again. On he went from there to Caesarea, proclaiming the gospel in all the cities along the way.

And this was one of those men chosen to serve tables.

Stephen did what Philip was doing, but more so. After Scripture notes that the apostles prayed for the seven chosen to care for the needs of the widows, it next states that Stephen performed “great wonders and signs among the people.”

Hmmm, sounds like more than serving tables.

As if that wasn’t enough, a bunch of Jews, some originally from Greece and some from Asia, began arguing with him. The problem was, they were no match for Stephen’s wisdom, not to mention the Spirit with which he spoke (see Acts 6:10).

In retaliation they persuaded a handful of men to lie and say that Stephen had blasphemed. They also stirred up the people and eventually dragged him before the Sanhedrin.

In front of this group of the most important Jewish leaders of the day, Stephen preached a sermon like few others, to the point that the hearts of those that heard him were pricked. You might say, in today’s parlance, their consciences were seared.

As a result, they attacked him and stoned him to death.

By point of reminder, Stephen was one of the seven chosen to serve tables.

Since when did serving tables become so dangerous?

Well, obviously they didn’t kill Stephen for serving tables. They killed him because he didn’t confine himself to just serving tables.

That’s the issue, I think. In today’s desire for efficiency and clarity and categorizing, we study the spiritual gifts the Bible talks about and we take tests to determine which gift we have. Then we know what our ministry focus should be and we pigeonhole ourselves into a slot.

Not that there isn’t value in discovering our spiritual gifts. But I tend to think today’s Western Christian, myself included, doesn’t think large enough. We think, I’ve got this little greeter job, or this class of seven-year-olds, or this newsletter to create. What if God wants us to preach to crowds even though the job the church has commissioned us for is to work the sound equipment Sunday morning?

Here’s the question: Why should we let our church job define our ministry? Philip didn’t and neither did Stephen, though it cost him his life.

I wonder if today we are too afraid of what preaching boldly would cost. Not our lives, but perhaps our reputation, our job, or peace in our little corner of the world.

Not that we should go out looking for a fight, but I don’t think that’s what Stephen did. Instead, he let the Holy Spirit use him how He wished, whether that meant serving tables or preaching in front of the religious elite, or dying for doing so.

Published in: on June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm  Comments (2)  
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Systematizing A Relationship


The nugget my missions pastor passed on to us on Sunday referred to “high theology.” I know what he was talking about. The previous sermons in the book of Ephesians looked at what Paul was telling the believers about their faith, or more accurately, the result of it.

In chapter one, for instance Paul gives a number of “in Him” statements: He chose us, redeemed us, sealed us. Of course he elaborates some on each of those, so that we can understand them and the great gifts we have.

In chapter two Paul gives several “you once were … but now” statements, tied together with a couple “remember” passages. Again he is clarifying who the believer is: what he was saved from, how he was saved, and what he now enjoys as a result of salvation

This is theology.

As Pastor Mike Erre, our soon to be new senior pastor, said when he preached from Ephesians, the first half is full of indicatives–expressions of simple statements of fact.

Theology.

Paul undergirded a number of his letters in this way. First the indicatives, then the imperatives.

In other words, before he addressed what instruction he needed to give the church, what things they should do to live up to their calling, he first wanted to be sure they understood that calling, especially God’s provisions and promises attached to it.

What struck me today, though, as I was reading a book about the Church, is that today we seem to be systematizing our theology to the point that it would be easy to forget we as believers in Jesus Christ primarily have a relationship.

The particular chapter I was reading followed a discussion of what the kingdom of God meant and whether the kingdom of God is synonymous with the Church (no), whether it has come as Jesus said from time to time or if it is still to come.

The discussion reminded me of the interviews I heard with Rob Bell when his book Love Wins first released (see “If Love Wins, How Come Earthquakes Happen?”). He made much of the fact that Jesus said the kingdom was near, was within, and he ignored any statements that indicate the kingdom is something yet to come.

As I’m thinking about this, I suddenly thought, maybe these scholars are being too scholarly. Maybe they’re trying too hard to understand something, to systematize something that is really easy to understand if you get the fact that it is relational more than it is rational.

Rational things can be analyzed and categorized. Relational things are harder to do so. But to a great degree, relational things are easier to figure out.

Jesus made it quite clear: “If you love me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He expanded on that moments later:

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:21-24)

Interestingly, John also records a conversation the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ had with Peter. His repeated question was, Do you love Me? (see John 21:15-17)

I don’t think it requires some kind of understanding of primary languages or a degree in theology to get what Jesus is saying.

If you’ve ever loved someone, you know that you want very much to make them happy. You want to do things they will appreciate, give them things you hope they like. Even if it means giving up what you want. The desire to please them is greater than the desire to go to the movie you want to see or whatever else might be at issue.

Our relationship with God is much the same, Jesus is saying. If I love Him, I’ll want to please Him. It’s not really an academic study, not something we need to understand as much as commit to.

If you’ve been by A Christian Worldview of Fiction before, you probably know that I really like theology. I love studying the Bible and understanding what it says. But I think sometimes we can get so caught up in our study we forget we are dealing with a Person, that we are in a relationship, and that it’s not an overly complicated one–unless we make it so.

A Choice Keeper Nugget


I’ve really appreciated my church’s missions pastor, Dan Crane, who has stepped in to shoulder the bulk of the preaching while we searched for our next senior pastor. Pastor Dan has a real knack for seeing the way Scripture passages divide in an organized way or how they relate to one another.

So too, this Sunday when he preached from the end of Ephesians 3. As he reminded us, Paul spends the bulk of the first three chapters giving us the truth about our position in Christ and what that means for us.

He then noted some particulars Paul presented for praying for others. Good stuff.

The nugget, though, came right at the end. Paul closes this section with a wonderful statement of praise:

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Dan’s point regarding these verses? High theology leads to high doxology. Now that’s a keeper.

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm  Comments Off on A Choice Keeper Nugget  
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It’s All About Him


It’s easy to forget that life isn’t all about me. I would like it if it were. Everyone would cater to my every desire, worry about keeping me happy. They’d make sure they didn’t offend me, be quick to encourage me, tell me how kind or smart or talented or helpful I was.

OK, OK, you all can get up off the floor now and stop laughing.

The old saying is that babies are born into the world thinking they are the center of the universe and spend the next eighty years learning they aren’t.

Pretty true. Kids tend to think every toy they want should belong to them. When they’re hungry, it’s time to eat. When they wake up, it’s time to get up.

When we become adults, of course, we realize we need to take into consideration the “others” in our lives.

But if we stop with that realization, we are still woefully wide of the mark. Life isn’t all about me, and it isn’t even all about other people.

Why I am here–why we all are here–isn’t about us. No matter how great an impact a person has on society, how many people he helps, he will soon be gone, and another generation may not even remember his name.

I suspect when President McKinley, the twenty-fifth President of the US, was assassinated, people throughout the country thought he would never be forgotten, that his death was one of the most tragic events in the history of the US. Of course, that was before two world wars, the rise and fall of Communism, the Great Depression, Vietnam, or 9/11. Today he is little more than a footnote in history books. And he was the leader of the nation!

Men of wealth don’t fare much better. Once the names of Rockefeller and Carnage demanded the kind of respect we give Bill Gates and Steve Jobs today. Or what we once gave Steve Jobs.

James is right about Mankind. We are just a “vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

How silly, then, for us to believe life is all about us?

It ought to be abundantly clear that our comfort, ease, security, happiness is transitory and cannot be the ultimate purpose of our existence since we ourselves are temporal.

Who wants to draw bucket after bucket of water to pour into the gutter? Why would we spend our time in such a futile effort?

Yet that’s what we so often do when we make life all about us. We spend our precious hours trying to shore up a sandcastle. We might even landscape and furnish it with elaborate, expensive pieces, but in the end, it all washes back out to sea.

How much better if we spend our time on what lasts!

Life, after all, is all about God, not about us. He is the Creator, and we, the creatures made in His image. We exist for His pleasure, not the other way around. We glorify Him, exalt Him, worship Him. He’s the One who is high and lifted up, whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours, whose name is above every name.

How far we have fallen, to think that we should only read the Bible or pray if we feel like it or that we have a right to complain if in church we sing too many hymns or not enough or if we stand too long or the lighting is too low or too bright.

If life is not about us, worship is certainly not about us either. How different our days would be if we remembered that we exist for God, and life, creation, all He made exists for Him.

Published in: on June 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm  Comments (3)  
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