"Be joyful always." That's what the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Now, if you're looking for a verse of the Bible to memorize, that is one of the easiest, right alongside the classic "Jesus wept." Actually, did you know there is a shorter verse in the NIV translation? Job 3:2 is just "He said." But I digress. I was saying that "Be joyful always" is a real easy thing to say, and almost as easy to memorize… but how hard is it to do?
Well, my doctor has advised me to reduce my salt intake for the sake of my blood pressure, a task which has proven to be very difficult. I can pass by the obviously salty things like chips and bacon, but salt is hidden in everything from artichokes to zucchini. Cooking without salt is not hard, but dining out low-sodium style is next to impossible.
Our church's construction project has hit a little delay. We're still waiting for approval from the Department of Transportation. So, I asked the contractor who's trying to work through all this what I could do to help. I was thinking he might tell me to make a phone call or supply some documents. His answer? Pray.
In this information age, almost anything you want to know can be gleaned from the internet or some other source. The recent "Wiki Leak" of tens of thousands of war diary entries from Afghanistan is only the most recent in the flood of data made available to us. The problem with data, though, is that it is up to the user to analyze it and draw conclusions. While our knowledge has grown exponentially in one generation, it would be hard to say that wisdom has gained much ground. I'm afraid the raw data from 91,000 pages of journal ...
Are you busy? You know that question precedes someone asking for a moment of your time, right? You know that it might come off as rude to say "yes" and then walk away, even if you are busy. But you are busy, aren't you? Doesn't it always seem that there are more things to do than time, money, and energy to do them? Are there things you don't get to because your life is so hectic? My guess is "yes."
Tomorrow, I'll be conducting a funeral of a man not yet 50 years old. So, needless to say, there are a bunch of people asking a bunch of questions. Have you ever been in that situation? Have you ever asked God "Why?" And maybe it isn't even about a death. Maybe you've tried to figure out why you lost a job, or why your child rebelled, or why your health failed, or why whatever else happened in your life that you would not have picked for yourself.
If you asked 50 people what they wanted in life, you would probably get 50 answers. But at the heart of each answer would run a common theme: meaning. We all want meaning in our lives. We all want a sense of purpose and gravity around something bigger than ourselves. This is part of what John Wesley called Prevenient Grace. It is God's gift to us which includes our innate awareness of the need for God. It is not taught but is a universal characteristic of all cultures. Without it, we wander through life with an empty feeling of ...
You know the saying: "Freedom is not free." As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, it's important to appreciate that. Think of how much so many have given so that you could be reading this in peace. Think of the lives given so that we can be so comfortable in our security that seeing things exploding in the sky this weekend will not be scary.
Current events can sometimes take a toll on my spirit. Recently, the news outlets have bombarded us with this hot news flash: More Of The Same. More economic stagnation, more sweltering heat, more closures and foreclosures, more oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. Even a new field general in Afghanistan does not mask the fact that it is the same old war. Politicians campaigning for office are giving us the same old message: "If you send me to Washington, I'll be different. And this time I really mean it!"
Here's a quandary for you. When you see a building going up - who gets the credit? Is it the contractor, the supplier, the fund-raiser? Or what about the architect, or the laborers? I know that a whole bunch of people will be at least partially taking credit for my church's new building. The contractor and the stone supplier and the stained glass guy have already asked for pictures to use in their advertising. I'm sure the architect will have our picture up in his office soon, and I'm sure that, before long, the foundation that gave ...
"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace." For 25 centuries, believers have been holding God to these promises that he gave us to use as we bless each other. But what exactly are these words saying?
The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. Or so the song goes. We sing it often, and its theme is reflected in many places throughout the New Testament. So why must we be reminded of church unity so frequently? Are we such disparate people, so inclined to fragmentation, that unity goes against our very nature? Would the Church universal spin off into a thousand shards without our constant efforts to hold it together? Is church unity even a realistic hope, or just a lofty ideal that is ultimately unattainable?
In the Old Testament book of Haggai there is an interesting account of extremely troubled economic times. Some of the children of Israel had returned home after 70 years in captivity. They were trying to re-establish themselves in their homeland, but everything they touched seemed to turn to dust. They couldn't understand why.
Life is often a series of routines that keeps us going. We have our morning routines for getting ready to meet the day. We have our weekly and monthly routines to get work done and meet family obligations. Good habits are good for us. Routine is good.