Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is that Clock Right?

Life at Work
Hugo Wolf was an Austrian composer who in 1897 went insane and was committed to an asylum. He was sane enough, however, to know his condition. Once, pointing to a large clock in the dining room of the asylum, he asked, "Is that clock right?"

"As far as I know," responded the attendant.

Wolf asked, "Then, what's it doing in here?"

There are requirements for being in certain places, aren't there? One of the requirements for being in the Kingdom of God is to be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). The Pharisees were not poor in spirit. They were spiritually rich, in their own eyes. Because of that, they couldn't come into the Kingdom.

I used to say that I had not come across many people who were convinced they had everything right spiritually. Since then, I’ve met a few. I have also known many, self-described, good ole boys/girls who just never do anything really bad, in their own eyes. They never go to the cross acknowledging the fact of their guilt, and never ask for forgiveness. The church is not the place for people who won’t admit they are wrong. If you think you're right, or just don’t do much wrong, you don't belong (1 John 1:8-10). To enter the Kingdom, you've got to admit you've been wrong, and know that only Jesus can make you right.

That’s Life at Work!

The Greatest Thrill

Life at Work
George Shearing was a jazz pianist, and he was blind. One afternoon he was waiting at a busy intersection for someone to help him across the street. Another man, a blind man, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if Shearing would mind helping him get across. Being asked about his response, Shearing said, "What could I do? I took him across and it was the biggest thrill of my life!"

But for the grace of God, Shearing would never have gotten to tell that story because he and his blind companion would be dead. But for the grace of God, the blind man writing this article would never have gotten to tell his story, the story of forgiveness. I, was not physically blind, but spiritually. Jesus, the Light, gave me sight so that he can lead me to the other side. Now, my greatest thrill in life, and the greatest thrill for all of us who are disciples of Jesus, is to help someone else on that same journey. The way is not one that we created, nor a crosswalk we painted. The path is the gospel - the good news that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again. When we respond in faith to that message, the greatest thrill is ours. That's Life at Work!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Life at Work

Life at Work

Near the end of his life Douglas MacArthur said these gut-wrenching words:

"In memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God....

Twenty years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts... the horror of stricken areas of war."

War is one of those things about which many memories will always be ugly. MacArthur's memory could not rose-color the awful memories of the years of war. There was too much filth, weariness, suffering and death to be overcome.

I'm convinced that if the filth, weariness, suffering and death that is a part of our spiritual war could be visualized on an on-going basis, the army of the Lord would have many more soldiers than it does. I believe that because we see it occasionally. We look at the lives of others and see the turmoil brought about by alcohol and other drug abuse--and when we see it we think about how filthy and rotten sin is. We see the marches on television with the vile public actions of the sexually immoral, and we think about how filthy and rotten sin is. We see a building or a subway blown to bits and hear about the hundred or more killed; and we think about how filthy and rotten sin is. When these things happen, more people become convinced that obedience to God is the only way to clean up.

These things don't happen every day, though. They only occur occasionally, thank God! It is easy to forget between reminders, though, that every sin is ugly. Every curse word, every evil thought, every gossip session, every lustful look, every lie, every hateful gesture, every laziness, every sin is filthy and brings weariness, suffering, and death.

Too many have come to like fighting in this war zone, though. In fact, they look for the ugliest foxholes, the nastiest trenches, and the most stricken areas. Jude commands us in his letter to "hate even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

We must keep in mind that this spiritual war is dirty. Whether we see the filth, whether we sense the suffering and death, is unimportant. It is there, and God is the only one who can keep us clean.

Thinking Sacramentally

Life at Work
Sex, money, and power. When you read those words just then, were your thoughts negative or positive? I mean did you think of ungodly things or godly thing? I’ve said those words and asked that question about them a time or two recently. Nearly everyone has said that the words spark a negative, ungodly thought in them – including me, by the way.

In his book Rumors of Another World Philip Yancey encourages us to think sacramentally. Sacra mean “sacred.” Mentally indicates “in mind.” To think sacramentally, then, is to keep the sacred in mind when considering something. The truth about sex, money, and power is that they were created by God and God said that his creation was good – very good after mankind was created in fact. Those three things were intended by God to be used by people for our good, not for our destruction. If they have bad connotations, it’s not because they are actually bad things; but that we have abused them.

Paul told us that people quit glorifying and thanking God, and that their thinking was futile and their hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21). We have continued in that pointless thinking and dark hearts. It’s time to be renewed in our minds.

Open your eyes again to the way that God sees things. When we see them his way, we will use them in a good way. That’s Life at Work!