Thursday, July 30, 2009
The story is told of a Russian named Ivanovich who visited the Moscow zoo for the first time. To his amazement, he found a little lamb sharing the cage with a big fierce bear.
Ivanovich expressed surprise to his guide. The guide smiled and said, "That is peaceful coexistence."
When Ivanovich shook his head in a doubtful way, the guide explained, "Of course, we have to put in a fresh lamb every morning."
As much as we should strive for peace, there are some things which simply cannot coexist peacefully -- truth and error, righteousness and ungodliness, morality and immorality. If we try to combine two such things in our lives, they will only coexist "peacefully" only if one gobbles up the other. That's why James was so forceful in his warning:
"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4, NASB)
This verse frightens me more than just about any verse in the entire Bible, because I see the influence that "the world" has on me and on Christians around me. We have just as much interest in accumulating "things" as the world does. We often don't do a better job of taking care of those in need than the world does. We worry just as much as the world does. We value the same things as the world does. We imitate the world to such an extent that if you were to go into an average workplace and ask the boss, "Which of these men and women working for you are Christians?", he wouldn't be able to identify us.
Let us beware lest we make the mistake of thinking that our association with and imitation of "the world" doesn't affect our relationship with God. Some things can't live in peaceful coexistence, and "whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The following is reported to be a true story regarding Berkeley, CA:
In 1990, the Berkeley City Council passed a law changing the name of Columbus Day to Native American Day because Columbus wasn't nice to the Indians. Of course, no Indians were asked if they wanted the holiday's name changed or even if they wanted to be called Native Americans.
In 1991, a politically-correct group argued that Indians are not native to America but to Asia, so calling them Native Americans might be insulting to Asians. So the Berkeley City Council changed the name again, to "Indigenous People Day." Of course, neither the Indian nor the Asian communities were consulted about this.
In 1992, the Italian American Anti-Defamation League gave the City of Berkeley their Insensitivity Award. The Italian-American group said that they agreed that Indians haven't been treated well, but that the Italians weren't the ones who did it, so why take away their holiday? Nobody asked the Italian-American community at large how they felt about renaming Columbus Day.
In 1994, the Berkeley City Council finally changed the holiday back to "Columbus Day."
In 1995, representatives of the Winnamucca Indian Tribe protested at City Council meetings. They argued that Indians had never asked that Columbus Day be renamed to honor Indians, but since it had been, the City Council couldn't take it back, lest they become "indigenous-people-givers."
In 1996, the City Council again changed the name to "Indigenous Peoples/Columbus Day." It was felt that this name was a compromise which would end any and all protests from the diverse, interested parties.
Currently, the Berkeley City Council is besieged by a group lobbying to rename the holiday "Animal Rights Day."
You can't please everyone, can you? In fact, trying to do so will only frustrate you. I'm not saying we shouldn't give consideration to the desires of others, because we should. But, ultimately, in our Christian lives, we should seek to please only one person.
"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Gal. 1:10)
Take comfort in knowing that even Jesus Christ didn't please everyone throughout his life. But he always sought to please God. May that be your goal this day and every day!
Friday, July 17, 2009
The story is told of an old country doctor who went way out to the boondocks to deliver a baby. It was so far out, there was no electricity. When the doctor arrived, no one was home except for the laboring mother and her 5-year-old child.
The doctor instructed the child to hold a lantern high so he could see, while he helped the woman deliver the baby.
The child did so, the mother pushed and after a little while, the doctor lifted the newborn baby by the feet and spanked him on the bottom to get him to take his first breath.
No sooner had he done this when another baby popped out, Then another, and yet another. At this time, the little boy blew out the lamp.
The doctor yelled, "What did you do that for?"
"The light's attracting them," he replied.
Spiritually speaking, there's a great deal of truth in that last statement. We experience the "new birth" (John 3:3) only after being attracted to the "light" -- the light of God's presence, the light of God's Word. Like moths drawn to a light bulb burning in the night, those who search with an empty and unsatisfied heart will be drawn to God's light. And praise be to God who offers us a way to leave our world of darkness and enter his "marvelous light":
"But you are....His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (I Peter 2:9-10).
Heavenly Father, I live in the midst of a dark world. Thank you for allowing your light to shine into my heart and into my life. Help me as I strive to live my life in such a way that I reflect your light so that others around me may see that light and be attracted to it. In the name of the one who is the "light of this world", Amen.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
As the story goes, some prominent scientists were invited to a party, and this is how they replied (warning! only avid science students will understand every reference):
* Ampere was worried he wasn't current.
* Audobon said he'd have to wing it.
* Boyle said he was under too much pressure.
* Darwin waited to see what evolved.
* Descartes said he'd think about it.
* Dr Jekyll declined -- he hadn't been feeling himself lately.
* Edison thought it would be illuminating.
* Einstein thought it would be relatively easy to attend.
* Gauss was asked to attend because of his magnetic personality.
* Hertz said in the future he planned to attend with greater frequency.
* Morse's reply: "I'll be there on the dot. Can't stop now, must dash."
* Newton planned to drop in.
* Ohm resisted the idea.
* Pavlov was drooling at the thought.
* Pierre and Marie Curie were radiating enthusiasm.
* Volta was electrified, and Archimedes buoyant at the thought.
* Watt reckoned it would be a good way to let off steam.
* Wilbur Wright accepted, provided he and Orville could get a flight.
I think it's significant that Jesus often compared his kingdom to a feast or a banquet. Being a part of God's kingdom is like going to a party. It's a festive occasion, a time of fellowship, a time of joy. I think Jesus wanted us to understand that the greatest joys this life has to offer are found in his kingdom.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding…and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other serv ants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."' But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his business.” (Matthew 22:2-5).
The king sent out his servants to tell everyone to come join the party, but those who had been invited wouldn't come. So he tried again, sending out his messengers to say, “Look, it's going to be a great party -- lots of food and fun!” But they said, "We've got other things to do. Sorry, can't make it. We’d love to, but we’re just too busy. You know how it is.”
And you know how the king felt, don't you? We've all had that happen to us at some time or another. You work like a dog getting ready for something -- a party, a get-together in your home. You spend hours and hours getting everything ready. You work hard and you're excited about what you've got planned.
The big day comes. You planned for twenty and three show up. You planned for thirty and you get eight. You know how it feels. You want to cry. It makes you angry and frustrated and depressed. You know how the king in this parable felt. And if you know how the king in this parable felt, then in some small way, you know how God feels whenever one of us rejects his invitation to be a part of the kingdom that he has prepared for us.
The banquet has been prepared. You have received an invitation from God. He is waiting for an R.S.V.P. Have you made your plans to attend?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The story is told about a man in Amsterdam who, not so long ago, was feeling guilty about something he had done, so he went and talked to his preacher.
He said, "I feel terrible because I've sinned. During World War II I hid a refugee in my attic."
The preacher said, "I don't believe that's a sin at all. I wouldn't feel bad about that if I were you."
"But I made him agree to pay me 20 Gulden for every week he stayed."
The preacher said, "Well, I admit that wasn't the most noble thing to do, but you did it for a good cause, so I still wouldn't worry about it."
The man said, "Oh thank you, that eases my mind. I have only one more question to ask you -- Do I have to tell him the war is over?"
We as Christians are engaged in a spiritual warfare -- it's Christianity vs. the world, the forces of good vs. the forces of evil.
And it's easy to get the idea (especially if you watch the news) that God's side is losing, and immorality is winning out!
John wrote the book of Revelation for Christians who must have been feeling the same way. After all, Rome certainly seemed to have the upper hand. Christians were losing! But, in reality, the war is over, and we know who wins!
John, looking ahead, writes, "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)
There are battles around us daily, and sometimes Satan does indeed seem to be winning, but looking ahead, the war is over and we know that those who are on God's side will be victorious! Keep that in mind today when you feel like you're fighting a losing battle!