Sunday, March 26, 2006
I was invited to a men's Bible study this week; we were studying the book of Titus. A question came up about "what are good works?" People made many suggestions. Two really hung with me: We should smile at other people and we should wave to them. That is good. We need to do that to fellow believers and for all the other people that don't know Christ. We want to be friendly with the neighborhood drunk, smile and wave at him but we don't want him to "puke" on our couch! We don't want to be disturbed with the 11:00 p.m. call from his wife, saying "come and help me get him in to the house he passed out on the lawn."
I don't think we believe the church exists for others. We believe it exists for us, and we are going to smile and wave until the drunk feels so good he just might come through the doors of our church and hopefully, with all our back slapping and firendly smiles, come to know Christ.
The prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23 "A man's life is not his own." Do we believe that? Jesus said in part in John 13:12-17 "Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you." James said "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26). Works don't save us but a result of our love for a gracious God who has "given us life and breath and everything else." Acts 17:25
Isn't it time we give up living for ourselves and live for others? "No greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." John 15:12-17. What if Jesus had just waved and smiled at us?
Thank you Lord for another reminder.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
After listening to a talk radio show from Minneapolis the other day, I was inspired to write the following letter. Let me know what your feelings are about this issue. ~ Beef
March 22, 2006
Mr. Al Malmberg
625 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Dear Mr. Malmberg:
This morning (Tuesday, March 21st) I heard with interest the discussion related to the shooting in Uptown. It was spirited and very revealing, but most of the solutions offered are “after the fact” solutions and they seldom work.
I feel I am qualified to comment since I am an 18 year veteran property manager who has been assaulted on the job by the street thugs we deal with every day. Street drunks, beggars, scam artists and thieves.
What we have in America and Minneapolis is a “Dad” problem. Look at the facts:
Out of Wedlock Birthrate for the US
Year Black White
1965 24% 3%
1990 64% 18%
2000 68.5% 27.1%
Data from The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #5 “Analysis of Out of Wedlock Birth in the United States” and Governmental Data from CDC using NCHC data. (Please note: even though the Black rate is higher, the White out of wedlock rate is increasing much more rapidly than the Black birthrate.)
We, as men, wield the biggest influence on our children. It is sad to say, but many of us have let our “penis” do the decision making in our lives. We need to reach the Dads of the world.
Many fathers are not involved in the lives of their children. I met a nurse who worked as an intake nurse at a drug treatment facility for seven years and in seven years she only had one person come through with their original two parents still as a family unit.
The only solution I see is a spiritual transformation, but I don’t believe the church, as it is now, is the solution.
What we say to people today is “When you get your life cleaned up and your problems straightened up, and you act like us, come to church.” In reality they never come. The clear call for Christians is “to go”. So we need to go where the men are and minister to them.
Most of us are self-consumed in our own expensive hobbies or pursuits. And seldom, if ever, become involved in someone else’s life. Until we get up out of our comfort zone and bring some discipline, direction and accountability to men, the problem will not go away. All our half-hearted, but well intentioned, efforts will fall on deaf ears.
You may be saying, talk is cheap, what has Jerry done?
In Cokato, Minnesota last year, 10 men met to reach out to other men. We meet for Bible study in the back of an excavation contractors shop. Men are invited by other men. Men come-as-they-are from work; they do not have to worry about messing up someone’s living room. Men share when they realize no one else is listening; namely, children and wives. They want hard-hitting truthful help. Many said they would not come to a traditional church setting.
Today we have 30 men coming; many are recovered drug addicts and alcoholics. Most of us have not had a positive father figure in our lives. Many have said they did not know how to be a good father and husband. We are mentoring one another and learning much more ourselves along the way.
Change will not occur until we (all of us) get up and become involved in another person’s life. This type of commitment cannot be maintained by our own effort. The only solution is spiritual transformation.
We need to go to the front lines and be there for one another. This hurting world needs help and we, as men, are best equipped to meet the need.
We do not need any government funding, no committee meetings, and no big organization that needs funding. We need self-sacrifice and dedication, accountability, and a new vision. Today these things are sadly lacking and we are paying the price for it on the streets of Minneapolis.
Keep up the good work.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
After the service I had the opportunity to visit with many people and learned this topic revealed deep loneliness, anguish, and isolation experienced by some believers who experience cancer.
The second of my three concerns was this: most Christians are not afraid to die but none of us want to suffer. Suffering in and of itself means nothing. Suffering only has meaning when it has relationship. I will borrow a story from Joni Eareckson Tada in her book When God Weeps.
“You are walking down a street, minding your own business, when you are accosted and forced to carry a huge and heavy basket on your back. You’re ordered to walk three blocks, turn left, go two blocks, turn right, then proceed straight on. Staggering under the weight, you stumble on, bewildered and angry. The weight of the basket is crushing. Your back is breaking. The whole thing is meaningless and haphazard. You resent how the heavy burden consumes you, becoming the focal point of your entire existence.
“When you are halfway down the third block, reeling under the burden, you finally bellow, “What gives!”
“The truth is then revealed. The burden you are carrying is your child, injured and unconscious. “What?” On top of that, you discover you are not trudging through a meaningless rat-maze but the most direct route to a hospital emergency room.
“Immediately you straighten. You inhale new vigor. Your knees quit buckling. Adrenaline and fresh energy quicken your pace, and you move forward with a new attitude. Why the change? The suffering you’re going through involves a relationship. Not just any relationship, but one with your child. It is the love you have for your child that quickens your step and buoys up your heart. Your relationship gives your burden meaning. Even your twisted path makes sense. You know where you are going. Your journey has a positive end—the hospital—and this instills hope.
“Suffering has no meaning in itself. Left to its own, it is a frustrating and bewildering burden. But given the context of relationship, suffering suddenly has meaning.”
For as Christians, we must share in each others suffering; it binds us together. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 1, Paul writes in part in verse 4, we have troubles so we can minister to those in any trouble and in verse 9 “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” It gets rid of our self reliance.
You will notice we have trials and tribulations so we can minister or comfort one another. What I heard from people after the service is this: some of us have been blessed by our Christian brothers and sisters (I have). Others are lonely and afraid, slowly being crushed under the weight of their trials.
Shared suffering helps those suffering and it helps us. It tenders our hearts towards one another, it binds us together.
I believe times for Christians will become harder. We think we don’t need one another now but we do, and the way to get to know one another is to share each other joys and yes, even each others sufferings.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
“Unbelief as a Symptom of a Deeper Problem
“Why should we think about hell? Its intrinsic importance and the unbelief with which it is surrounded are both valid reasons. But there is a third, more significant than either of these. The unbelief is symptomatic of a deeper problem.
“A symptom is so-called because it has an importance beyond itself. One day you discover a lump on your body. It is not painful and does not inconvenience you in any way. You can live normally and get on with your work. In that sense the lump is insignificant in and of itself. Yet is that how you react? Not if you care for your body and have any sense. You go to your doctor and have an examination. You seek treatment. It is not so much because of the lump, but because of what it might signify—something more dangerous, of which it could be an evidence.
“Unbelief is, of course, more than a symptom. It is itself a sin. But the illustration is valid to this extent: unbelief is an evidence of something worse. It is a symptom of humanity’s deepest problem, man-centredness. Here is the root cause of all our difficulties. We make ourselves the centre of our universe. We become the beings around whom everything else revolves. It all goes back to Eden, where Satan said to Eve, ‘You will be like God’ (Genesis 3:5), and she listened. Indeed, it goes back further. Satan himself had said, ‘I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:14).
“This sin of self-centredness, or humanism (for this is another name for it), has been present in the world since the Fall. But it has in our day come to dominate the culture, so that it saturates the world in which we live. Man-centredness is as pervasive, and as unnoticed, as the air we breathe. No one is unaffected by it. Like pollution in the atmosphere, it is there, we absorb it, it is poisoning us.”
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
When we called the clinic to cancel his appointment, we asked if we could get the results of the PSA test and were told "it was perfect!” What more could I say then “Praise the Lord”? Jerry does have to go in to see the doctor next week but we are trilled with outcome.
Jerry has been feeling really well. He worked at the office 3 days last week and he preached at Montevideo on Sunday. He’s back at the office this week but has spent a lot of time dealing with his aunt’s situation. She is in critical condition. Her brother was hospitalized in Glenwood on Saturday but seems to be better today. Lots of drama and lots of concern.
Thanks again for all the prayers. ~ Judi (Mrs. Beef)