Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Rod Serling spent his life trying to communicate messages. Some of you may know that he did more than just the Twilight Zone gig. He said one occasion, “It is truly difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by those dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”

I bet Jesus understands his frustration. You talk about someone trying to communicate a message – we call Jesus the Logos, the Word. He has a message! It is a message of love, justice, mercy, service, judgment and faithfulness. After he personified this message among our forefathers, he provided it in writing for future generations, including our generation. I wonder what he thinks about the interruptions.

A wise man wrote a song about a strong, righteous person: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The courageous man wrote, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust….” The individual determined not to sin affirmed, “I have written your word in my heart.” The one who loved to obey proclaimed, “I will not neglect your word.”

How would your life be different if soccer was interrupted by study? Do you think you would benefit if you allowed making money to be interrupted by meditation? How honored do you think God would feel if you stopped hustling to the next appointment, and let him come into your heart to refresh and rebuild you? That’s Life at Work!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Price-paying Devotion

We have a Bible Study group early on Monday mornings. Right now, we are looking at Paul’s second letter to Timothy. That Paul was a devoted man. He was devoted to the people to whom he preached, to the gospel that he preached, and to the God who saved him to preach. He told Timothy that he would endure any suffering, even being treated like a criminal, though he had done nothing wrong, as long as people got to hear the story of Jesus and his resurrection. The gospel is worthy of that kind of devotion.
John Kennedy spoke of that kind of devotion in his inaugural address in January of 1961: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.” Liberty is certainly a noble cause, worthy of that kind of devotion, too.
You’ve got other things in your life that, likewise, deserve that kind of devotion. Building a strong marriage, rearing children who are well taught and motivated, and personally growing to a Christ-like maturity all deserve a price-paying, burden-bearing, hardship-enduring fully involved devotion from you.
Our careers, hobbies, homes, and Hummers (or whatever else you drive) get way too much of our time and energy. Be devoted to the really important things. That’s Life at Work!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Let the Retaliation Stop
A wife screams and scratches at her husband, and the husband belligerently yells back and raises his hand like he would slap her. A teenager shouts, “I hate you! You never let me do anything!” Her mother bursts through the bedroom door and bellows her retort, “My whole day is ruined the minute you walk in that front door!” It happens in the home, on the road, at the work place, in school, on the church pew, in the check-out line, and at the neighborhood meeting. Anywhere that you have potential for conflict there is the potential for someone to return ugliness for ugliness. Responding to harsh words and abuse with more harsh words and abuse is the wrong response.
Martin Luther King tried to drive that point home in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community. He wrote, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” He was right. You might temporarily subdue the yelling and abuse that others heap by topping what they are doing; but the bitterness will return soon. When the opportunity for retaliation arises, retaliation is likely to take place. Let the retaliation stop with you.
Jesus taught to turn the other cheek and pray for those who harm us. Peter used the Passion story to call us to refuse to return insult for insult. Paul instructed us to let the Lord take whatever vengeance might need to be taken, but we are to live at peace with everyone. He said to overcome evil with good.
Today, and this week, when your spouse or your teenager is harsh, respond with a kind word. When the maniac cuts you off as you are driving home, back off and let him have plenty of room. When someone lies about you to another, tell the truth gently, and don’t return the slander. Do these things because it is the best way to stop the descending spiral. Do these things because it reflects the kind of person you are and the Savior that you committed to imitate. That's Life at Work!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Importance of Group

"Church" is the English word in religious context translated from a Greek word with a more general meaning. "Ecclesia," refers to an assembly - a group of people. Twice in Acts 2, Luke says that as people accepted the message, were baptized and were saved, they were "added to their number" by the Lord. "Ecclesia" is not found in Acts 2, though the idea of a group is obvious. We will find ecclesia and its English religious equivalent "church" for the first time in Acts in chapter 5.
From the beginning of the assembly of the saved, God intended that "group" should be a significant part of the Christians life. Our use of the accepted English words has played a part in our failure to understand the importance of group. For us, the assembly is the Sunday morning gathering. For us, the church is the building where we assemble.
These Christians were numbered together, as opposed to being numbered with the rejecters of the word, the unbaptized and the unsaved. These Christians who were numbered together experienced things together. They met, ate, learned, saw miracles occur, praised, grew, and gave their possessions together. Together, they enjoyed the favor of all the people. These Christians were afraid together, raised their voices in courage and thanks together, prayed together, were filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word boldly together.
Next year, Alcoholics Anonymous will celebrate 70 years of helping alcoholics stay sober. Their strength, above everything else that may be taught and emphasized, is their group. The greatest benefit of joining Alcoholics Anonymous is that the alcoholic becomes a part of a group whose purpose is to keep its members away from alcohol and its destructive consequences.
Research indicates that individual education and personal growth through individualized counseling may help an alcoholic stay away from his poison, but its not likely. For a real chance, you’ve got to have a group whose sole purpose is to help you quit drinking.
The church, the assembly, the group of the saved has a soul purpose. From the beginning of the group God has said, "This is not an ‘alone’ thing." You’ve been added to the number.