Friday, May 04, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
The center of pr-I-de
IT is easy to overlook in ourselves.
IT is impossible NOT to see in others.
IT may reside in an extrovert or a introvert.
IT may attack the leader or IT may become attached to followers.
Sinners and saints are equally susceptible to IT.
IT is as home in the church as it is in the world.
IT caused a king to lose his mind and his kingdom.
When IT was squashed, his kingdom, his mind, and his position were restored.
IT is pride.
Daniel had been instructed by God to warn King Nebuchadnezzar (pronounced something like "neb YOO kuh NEZ zer") that IT would cause his loss of power and sanity.
Twelve months after the warning, the King was walking around admiring all he had done and all he had built. "That very hour...he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen..." (Read chapter 4 verses 19-36 to get the whole story.)
For seven "times" or years he lived that way until he knew "that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men" not King Neb.
Once his sanity returned and, apparently, accompanied by humility, the King who was once warned, now warns us. "I praise and extol and honor the King of heaven...(who is able to put down) those who walk in pride." (Daniel 4:36)
What causes you to house an unhealthy pride? Your accomplishments? Talents? Looks? Money? Job? What people say about you?
Or how 'bout the way you don't have those things like other people? The fact that you don't have to worry about having too much praise, honor, or attention? We can take pride in that too.
What about taking pride in your spirituality? Your religion?
Be careful. God is able to put down those who walk in pride. ANY pride. Pride over ANYTHING other than Him.
Instead, let us walk as Daniel walked: ready to help wherever God puts us, but always remembering the ability, the gifts, and the praise that follows belong to Him.
Grace & peace
Monday, April 30, 2007
Living (Mondays) as an Exile
Looking at the week ahead with a mixture of dread, angst, or apathy.
Looking back at the weekend that was, wondering how two & a half days could have slipped by so quickly.
It must be a Monday.
Mondays often leave us feeling like we're fish out of water.
And for people of faith, maybe it's even worse. If we spent the weekend with our church family, we sang the songs, we read the scripture, we prayed the prayers, we shook hands and exchanged smiles and hugs with people who CHOSE to be with us.
Now Monday makes us feel like exiles. The next five days and forty plus hours of having someone tell us where to go and what to do and how long to do it.
Where do we go from here?
Ever notice how many of the prophets in the Bible are living in exile? Ever pay attention to the number of them that are speaking, their whole prophetic career to people living in a foreign land or strange culture? Dragged off to a place they don't want to be. Living in a situation they would have never chosen. And in the midst of that exile, God speaks and acts.
In the exilic tradition, Daniel's opening verses tell us he and his circle of friends are living in just such a situation. Their country was overrun by a foreign king (Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon). King Neb came in and hauled off slaves from Daniel's country.
In the new country, they were going to confront a dominant culture that was very different than theirs. The religion was different. The government was different. The priorities were different. The language was different. EVERYTHING was different...except that God was the same (though they would learn and interact with him in a different set of circumstances).
I wonder, do books such as Daniel have something to say to us? I think so...ESPECIALLY on a Monday.
Grace & peace
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Setting Your Eyes
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Why Don't Christians Grieve?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
You Said It!
Words can get us into serious jams. I have a lot of stories like this, and I bet you do too.
It was probably along those same lines the writer of Proverbs was thinking when he wrote, "...the mouth of a fool invites ruin." (10:14b)
It happens almost anywhere I happen to be. Someone will be using their everyday vocabulary, a word or idea will slip out that they probably would choose NOT to use if they could have it back. Then they catch themselves. They look at me, "the minister", and say something like "Oh...sorry" or "Uh...excuse me".
The ones that make me laugh the most were folks who didn't think anything about it till someone says, "The MINISTER's here" or "This is my PASTOR!"
They get red-faced and guilt kicks in.
Are they feeling unnecessary guilt? Are they looking to the Church to police their language?
I don't think so. I think they're in touch with something much deeper and more significant.
"Do not let any evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit others to listen." (Ephesians 4:29)
This is a lesson most of probably heard (learned?) when we were little children.
"Think BEFORE you speak!"
"If you can't say anything nice..."
You can ask any kindergartner about it and they know the words you're not supposed to use.
But "evil talk" can take all kinds of forms.
GOSSIP is brutal. Talking behind someone's back can devastate them. I've known situations where church preachers and teachers would bring out someone else's dirty laundry in the name of "praying for them" or "teaching a lesson to others". But using names and desiring to tell to the world someone else's failings and faults is more "evil talk" than "holy help".
What about name calling? Or being told we're "stupid"? You and I can probably pull up the memories from years ago where someone demeaned us, dehumanized us, or made us feel very small by what they said to us or called us.
That's the type of talk that doesn't have any place in a home, a school hallway or classroom, a church, a city hall, an office, the high school locker room, or ANY PLACE ELSE.
"Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips." (Proverbs 14:7)
But the Bible sets a higher bar than "not saying bad stuff".
We're called to use words that will build each other UP. That may be by expressing encouragement. It may be by offering forgiveness.
The writer of Proverbs tells us that the right words bring "healing" and are "sweeter than honey". "The lips of the righteous nourish many." (Proverbs 10:21)
May your words and your life be used to build people up, bring healing to our world, and a little sweetness into the lives of others today.
Grace & peace