Thursday, February 25, 2010

Watch Out For Lucille

I heard about someone who works in the customer service call center of a national pager company. He deals with the usual complaints regarding poor pager operation, as well as the occasional crank caller demanding to be paged less often, more often, or by more interesting people.

His favorite call came from a man who repeatedly complained that he keeps being paged by "Lucille." He was instructed that he would have to call her and tell her to stop paging him.

"She don't never leave no number, so I can't call her back," he said.

After three such calls, someone thought to ask how he knew it was Lucille if she didn't leave a number.

"She leaves her name" was the reply.

After establishing that the customer had a numeric-only pager, the light bulb came on. "How does she spell her name?" the service rep asked.

"L-O-W C-E-L-L"

When things start to bother us, the problem may simply be that we need to get "re-charged". Keeping our schedules overbooked, staying busy "doing things", going here and there -- it takes a toll after a while. Before we get stressed out and burned out, we need to learn to take some time to unwind and recharge. Turn off the radio and the television. Oh, and the computer, too! Unplug the telephone if you need to, or better yet, get away from the house (without the cell phone). Spend some quiet time with God in prayer and reflection on His Word.

Notice what Jesus did as he was surrounded by a crowd of people, all demanding a piece of his time:

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there." (Matthew 14:22-23)

Watch out for Lucille! Don't forget to recharge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Dun

This week, we have been engaged in our congregation in a massive effort to collect and send clothing to the earthquake victims in Haiti. Our efforts reminded me of this illustration that I've used before:

     A cowboy rode into town and stopped at the saloon for a drink (root beer, of course!).  Unfortunately, the locals always had a habit of picking on those of a British background, which he was.  When he finished, he found his horse had been stolen.  He came back into the bar, handily flipped his gun into the air, caught it above his head without even looking and fired a shot into the ceiling.  "WHICH ONE OF YOU SIDEWINDERS STOLE MY HOSS?" he yelled with surprising forcefulness.


     He had another root beer, walked outside, and his horse was back! He saddled up and started to ride out of town.  The bartender wandered out of the bar and asked, "Say partner, what happened in Texas?"

     The cowboy turned back and said, "I had to walk home..." 

     Ever known anybody like that, lots of threats, but no real intention to carry out them out?   All talk but ultimately no action? More to the point, is your Christian life characterized more by what you SAY you're going to do, or by what you're actually willing to DO?

     "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."  (James 2:14-17)

     What kind of faith do you have -- the kind you talk about, or the kind you show through your obedience to God and service to others? Is there someone in need that you've been praying for? It may be time to stop praying for others to do something and start helping yourself.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Give Thanks For Your Friends

I heard about a farmer who was detained for questioning about an election scandal.   The attorney asked him, "Did you sell your vote?"

The farmer said, "No sir, not me.  I voted for that there fella 'cause I liked him."

The attorney said, "Come, now, I have evidence that he gave you fifty dollars for a vote."

The farmer said, "Well, now, it's plain common sense that when a fella gives you fifty dollars you like him."

I suppose that’s one way to define a friend.  In fact, Solomon said, "Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts." (Proverbs 19:6).

But, a true friend involves a depth of relationship.  It's someone you enjoy doing things with, someone you enjoy talking with, someone you wouldn’t hesitate to turn to in times of need.  I like how I once heard someone describe a friend as someone you could call at 2:00 a.m. if you needed something. Solomon lets us know how important friends are in the difficult times of life:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Eccl. 4:9-12)

Give thanks to God for the friends who are a blessing in your life.  And let those friends know how special they are to you!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First the Bad News....

Doctor: I have some good news and I have some bad news.
Patient: What's the good news?
Doctor: The good news is that the tests you took showed that you have 24 hours to live.
Patient: What's the bad news?
Doctor: The bad news is that I forgot to call you yesterday!

Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.
Patient: What's the good news?
Doctor: The good news is they are naming a disease after you!

Lawyer: I have some good news and some bad news.
Client: Well, give me the bad news first.
Lawyer: The bad news is that the DNA tests showed that it was your blood they found all over the crime scene
Client: Oh no! I'm ruined! What's the good news?
Lawyer: The good news is your cholesterol is down to 130!

Have you ever had somebody come up to you say, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news, which one do you want to hear first?” Research shows that most people would rather hear the bad news first.

And that’s what Paul does in the book of Romans. He starts off this letter by saying, “I’m ready to come share with you the gospel, some good news….but first of all, let me tell you the bad news.” And he’s got some bad news for us – some really bad news.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18)

It’s very important that we understand the reason Paul does this – it’s because we can’t fully appreciate the grace of God until we fully understand what we’ve done wrong and what we deserve as a result.

This is where I think we make a big mistake when we try to share the gospel with people we know. We want to talk immediately about the “good news” without talking about the bad news. But good news isn’t good news to someone unless they realize they need it.

We need to teach others that “there is none righteousness, no not one.” (Romans 3:10), and that includes you and me. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). And, as a result, we all deserve to die because “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23).

Only after I understand my sinfulness and the fate that I deserve can I fully appreciate the gift of grace that God offers. And only after I become fully aware of where I am spiritually can I understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news indeed.

Don’t be afraid to share the “bad news” before you share the “good news”!