Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
- I hate women because they always know where things are. ―James Thurber
- All work and no play makes Jack the wealthiest man in the cemetery. ―anonymous
- After being turned down by various publishers, he decided to write for posterity. ―George Ade
- If there is a wrong way to do something, then someone will do it. ―Edward A. Murphy
- If you can't be a good example you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning. ―anonymous
- Life is hard but it's harder if you're stupid. ―John Wayne
Monday, December 8, 2014
- Most of the trouble in the world is created by people wanting to be important. ―T. S. Eliot
- The truth doesn’t hurt unless it ought to. ―B. C. Forbes
- Never play leapfrog with a unicorn. ―anonymous
- One may smile and smile and be a villain. ―William Shakespeare
- Wishes won’t do dishes. ―anonymous
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Boys are self-absorbed, insecure human beings, which is nearly the definition of immaturity. Having fun and avoiding responsibility is the modus operandi of boyhood. Back in the days when boys games primarily involved sticks, boxes, balls, rope and some dirt, at least imagination (the arts) and engineering (the sciences) skills were being developed. While the games were simpler, there was some work involved; they had to creatively entertain themselves. Now the work is done for them, and as Neil Postman observed, in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, “When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”
Affluence has enabled an extension of boyhood, and that affluence is essentially ubiquitous in our culture. Even “poor” people are affluent in the West. Why you can even stay on your parent’s health insurance until you’re twenty-six. Thus we have seen the multiplication of the pajama-boy beta-male, living a boy’s life well into their twenties and beyond. Some have the high ambition of “growing up” to be professional “gamers” and “filmmakers,” where the fun will never end. Add to that Internet porn and the sexual revolution, the need for marriage is vastly diminished; pleasure everywhere, all the time. For those old boys who do have to get jobs, their paychecks continue to finance boyhood. Boys work to play.
Men find pleasure in their work. In fact, this is one of the ways we know that a boy has become a man. A man might still find some pleasure in playing a game, but he has learned that there are other kinds of pleasures in life; more important and lasting pleasures. There are pleasures that come from achieving goals, honing a skill, working hard, self-denial, giving to others, sacrifice, etc. And there is the ultimate pleasure of hearing the heavenly Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” This is a real man who is ready to be a husband and a father; ready to contribute to a church and to the broader community. This is a man that makes a positive difference in the world.
Now if the goal of raising boys is to turn them into men―to turn them into men sooner rather than later―then these qualities must be instilled along the way. Boyish play is a good thing on a limited basis, but it must form a smaller and smaller percentage of their lives as they progress toward maturity. By the time they enter their teen years we should clearly see the making of a real man evidenced by hard work, self-sacrifice, and obvious godliness. If these qualities are slight or absent at age fifteen, it’s unlikely that they’ll suddenly appear at age twenty. They’ll probably not find pleasure in their work at first; play will still be more attractive. Hang in there. Turn this boy into a man and he’ll know the real, deep and abiding pleasures all the days of his life.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Having been overly blessed by family and friends most of my life, I possess an embarrassment of riches. I’ve known enough pain and suffering to have some idea of what that means, and I’ve certainly seen plenty of pain and suffering in the lives of others. Some of the blessings we have come by way of hard work and others just fall out of the sky, undeserved, right in front of us. Likewise, some of the pain and suffering we face are the result of foolish and sinful decisions we make, while other kinds of pain and suffering come from living in a fallen world. Thank God for His mercy and grace; that ill-deserved favor we enjoy from time-to-time; that unexpected kindness of a friend or stranger that can make all the difference on a bad day or bad year or a bad life.
Real love is about sacrifice for others; giving up ourselves, our time or our things; meeting the needs of the needy. God made the world to function with a certain kind of reciprocity. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38). Now the world is full of needy people; way more needy people than we have the ability to satisfy. We should feel a general sorrow for humanity, but as G. K. Chesterton observed, it’s easy to love the world but hard to love our neighbor. God loves the world and therefore gives the world His Son. We’re called to love our neighbors and to give ourselves to them. While we can’t save the world, we can save a few that God brings across our path. In the name of Christ, whose Body we’re part of, we can show them love and make a difference in individual lives.
We can’t help others without running the risk of “being taken.” There are people out there who are up to no good. They might take advantage of you. Nevertheless, we can’t do what God has called us to do and not take that risk. God will still bless His people when they do the right thing. He loves for us to be generous: “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Pr. 11:25); “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Pr. 22:9); “A generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand” (Isa. 32:8).
Now this kind of generosity should become part of who we are. Blessed people should be blessing other people on a regular basis. During the Advent and Christmas seasons we are, perhaps, a bit more mindful of giving, and such an annual reminder is good. Find someone who has less than you and give them something. You’ll be just fine with a little less and they’ll be enriched by your kindness and love. What is kindness and love worth? If you can’t find someone, come see me. I know some really needy people who could use some unexpected blessing in their life; some of that undeserved grace that we have so much of. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
Monday, December 1, 2014
- I don’t have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem. ―anonymous
- Don’t think you can spend yourself rich. ―George Humphrey
- In ancient times they had no statistics, so they had to fall back on lies. ―Stephen Leacock
- The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. ―anonymous
- Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home. ―David Frost
Friday, November 28, 2014
Forgiveness is the best gift of all. It recovers what was lost and restores what was broken. It helps the helpless and gives hope to the hopeless. It is so powerful that Jesus tells us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Forgiveness is predicated on repentance, which is itself a gift from God (1 Tim. 2:25). We have all known both side of this equation, having repented many times from our sins, and also having many times received the gift of forgiveness. It’s all grace from first to last.
As we imitate Christ, our relationships are sustained by this process. Heeding the admonition of the Apostle Paul to “forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” we soon see that our marriages, families, churches and friendships depend on the unmerited favor of others. When God forgives us, He does so at His own expense; He picks up the tab. Likewise, when we forgive others, or when they forgive us, they are paying the price to remove the sin and maintain the relationship. Our only proper response is gratitude and a fresh commitment to avoid the sins that created the breach in the first place.
We’ve all incurred debts―little ones and big ones. As your pastor, I have known most of you long enough to recognize that forgiveness offered and received is central to who you are as followers of our Lord. The world cannot comprehend such love and grace; it’s unnatural. Yet, as recipients of supernatural grace, we have the privilege of showing that grace to others.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. ―2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Forgiveness of sins (which pays for and removes the debt), restores the relationship; it reconciles the account so that all is good. A new foundation is established. This is a happy thing. Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving!
Thursday, November 27, 2014
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
It’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy. Gratitude and bitterness are filters through which all things are interpreted. You can’t be filled with gratitude and bitterness at the same time; one will push out the other. Gratitude is an attitude; it’s a perspective on life.
God made us to be dependent creatures; dependent on Him and dependent on one another. None of us can do it alone, which means we need others to help us. It’s easy to take such help for granted and to sail right past those who sacrifice to enable us to move forward. Families, churches, friends and neighbors: these are less than perfect people but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they do much for us. Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote: “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1). In addition to the people God has placed in our lives He has also surrounded us was many other good things: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).
When Paul wrote to Timothy he described a culture that was crumbling, and in that list of declining attributes he included the term “unthankful” (2 Tim. 3:2). Children (for example), are notoriously unthankful to parents because they assume that parents are supposed to do all those things for them. Forgetting to be thankful is a serious sin (Rom. 1:18-21). Ungrateful people are self-centered people―they’re victims―they have always gotten a raw deal. Mistreated and malcontent, the ungrateful heart is like a fly that finds every sore.
Every year is full of joys and sorrows. In this fallen world everything is bitter-sweet. But even the sorrows can surprise us with new joys when we recognize the hand of God in them. Gratitude is an attitude. He calls us to give thanks in and for all things; to find the sweet in the bitter. Every sweet thing has some taint of a fallen world, yet in every bitter thing there are remnants of the sweet, unfallen world as well. Even in the greatest of what we call “tragedies,” even in the darkness, the power and goodness of God shines forth and hope moves us forward. God mends, saves, and resurrects. He brings good out of evil. Even in the storm, He comes to us. In our weakness He is made strong; and He makes us strong. While we can’t usually see very far ahead, nevertheless, if we can see Him in the storm, if we can hear His still small voice, then we have a Lighthouse that will bring us to safety. By this, we’re able to give thanks for all things.
Our Thanksgiving Day Feasts, with the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pies―with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures―with the friends and family―these are but tokens and reminders of a million other gifts for which we should be thankful every day. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Babies that are born premature often lack certain biological functionality and require some special medical assistance. Even healthy babies are dependent on others for their health and survival. As a normal child grows toward maturity, we recognize that an inherent immaturity is always part of the mix. Assessment of this maturity level differs between the child, the parents and others. The child often thinks he's more mature than he actually is. Thus, he makes premature determinations about situations, things, and people without the necessary and sufficient information and experience needed for sound judgments. For example, the five-year-old assures us that he doesn’t like some new food on his plate even though he has never seen or tasted that food before. The fact that the food is new to him is (in his premature opinion), sufficient data for him to draw his conclusions. Most children will grow up and come to love many of the foods they first rejected. Maturity provides needed perspective. Maturity brings wisdom.
Now there are two lessons I want to draw from this point of pre-maturity. One lesson is for parents who are trying to raise their children to be responsible, mature adults. Parents, you're there to provide the mature perspective that your children don’t yet possess. Therefore, you decide what’s good for them when it comes to things like: food, sleep, hygiene, clothes, music, entertainment, friends, work, church, and a world of other things. This doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t make some decisions, but it does mean that you’re guiding and overseeing that process and not simply leaving it up to their pre-mature whims. You have lived longer and can see further than they can. That’s why God gave them parents.
A second lesson is for adults. Turning twenty-one doesn’t automatically eliminate this problem of pre-maturity. In one sense, we’re all lacking a measure of maturity and thus we’re dependent on one another. Having the label “adult” applied to us can cloud this truth. A twenty-five-year-old doesn’t typically get advice from fifteen-year-olds; that’s who fifteen-year-old- get advice from. Twenty-five-year-olds get advice from other twenty-five-year-olds. In both cases, peer advice tends to coincide with our own perspective and thus we hear what we want to hear (“My friends agree with me”). God put us in communities with a broader perspective for a reason. Just like little children need parental perspective, so too the rest of us need people who have lived longer and can see further than we can. This is how we can gain a maturity beyond our years.
The trinity of time, knowledge and godliness come together to give wisdom or maturity. These are the things that enable us to see further than we used to. Through our own experience (learning things the hard way), and by vicarious experiences, maturity accumulates. We learn not to judge books by their covers, not to judge people by our first impressions, not to believe every sales pitch, that most things worth doing are harder than you think, that time will tell, that we don’t know as much as we thought we did, and a million other things that come with time, knowledge and godliness. So, we should tap into all those resources of maturity and get advice from the broader community that God has surrounded us with.
Monday, November 24, 2014
- Retirement means twice as much husband on half as much money. ―anonymous
- Santa Clause has the right idea: Visit people once a year. ―Victor Borge
- Whenever you hear the word save, it is usually the beginning of an advertisement designed to make you spend money. ―anonymous
- He is a sheep in sheep’s clothing. ―Winston Churchill
- Silence can’t be misquoted. ―anonymous