Friday, September 28, 2007

Must walk as Jesus walked

I john 2:6; I Peter 2:4-5 – Rejection; Psalm 27:9-10

Homeless people are a problem for those of us in the property management business. They urinate on the walls and leave trash as evidence of their seemingly never ending presence. Dealing with homeless people can stretch ones patience to the end. The only way I can remember to always be kind to them is to keep in mind they were someone’s little baby. Only then do I regain my patience and kindness.

Remember the scene, a little baby is born, mom and dad look on with admiration at God’s miracle, yet as time goes on, we as families have our differences. It’s hard to imagine, but some parents later in life reject their children. What if your mom and dad reject you? What kind of hurt is that? Deep and lasting. Psalm 27:9-10: “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” The hurt of rejection from mom and dad can leave lasting scars. Remember, the Lord won’t reject us.

God’s word says we must walk as Jesus walked. I John 2:6: “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” When Jesus was on this earth, He was rejected. Does this mean we can be rejected? Yes; if we stand for Christ and truth, we at some time can expect to be rejected.

Sin is the ugly root in each one of us; even in light of that truth rejecting one’s own son or daughter seems cruel to me. I have a hard time understanding this but human pride, unforgiveness and the desire to control other people’s lives forces some people to reject their own. How sad.

Remember God could have very easily written us off. Even though we are His sons and daughters, we are all prodigal sinners. We all need forgiveness and restoration. Remember Christ’s work on the cross, it allows us to be accepted by God the Father, not rejected.

Do you know someone rejected by their own blood? Be gentle, be patient. Remind them though flesh and blood may reject, the Lord will not reject them. Pray for restoration.

Mark 8:31; “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” If you have been rejected, you have walked as Jesus walked. Walk on brother, walk on sister, you’re in good company. Continue to walk as Jesus walked.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home.

During the week of Christmas 1968 I was working in a cable trench somewhere in Southeast Asia. It was close to 100 degrees, and I was working with a Wisconsin cheese head named Mike. Mike said to me, “Beef, wouldn’t it feel good to lay in a snow bank for about an hour?” It sure would have felt good at that time. Mike and I reminisced about memories of winter and Christmas in the upper Midwest. It left us “longing to go home".

When I got home in the spring of 1969, I realized you never really come home. Things change while you’re gone; people die, trees get cut down, and other things change. Memories of home become distorted over time. The reality of coming home never measures up to our “finally coming home” expectations.

Today we as Christians talk very little about Heaven and the new world to come. Why? Because we have it very good here. God has blessed us but we have sold out for second best, the pattern of this world. Romans 12: 1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We may say one thing and believe another; we live grabbing and clutching for everything the world has to offer, yet deep down we know it does not truly satisfy.

We will not truly feel at home until we go to Heaven. The old Negro spiritual was right, “The world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” In this world, we should not feel so comfortable with it that we fail to look forward to our Heavenly home and the new world to come.

The 60’s country music song writer Joe South penned these words, “All God’s children get weary when they roam, don’t it make you wanna go home.” In Hebrews 11, the chapter on the heroes of the faith, it says: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:8-10) and “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Heb.11:13-16)

Are you weary of roaming? Are you searching for a place of personal peace? Is there a “searching for home” shaped hole in your heart only God can fill? Are you weary? Come home to Jesus.

Come home, come home,You who are weary, come home;Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,Calling, O sinner, come home! (I think I heard this somewhere before.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Diminishing Our Daughters’ Honor

Proverbs 11:22: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (NIV)

Kyla Ebert, a twenty-two year old college student and Hooter’s waitress, was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for being dressed in a manner deemed far too revealing. Ms. Ebert protested and was allowed to fly. There has been much discussion concerning this incident; speculation and snickering by the press. I read one press account that said “What’s next? Will women be required to wear berka’s when they fly Southwest?” The discussions center around what kind of dress is appropriate and what is too revealing. I realize Ms. Ebert is 22 years old but did mom and dad teach any discretion or modesty in dress when she was 15 years old?

During a discussion with a couple of friends about being parents, the husband used the phrase “allowing our children to diminish their honor”. In our society today, do we allow our children, in the name of fashion and popularity, to dress in a manner “that diminishes their own honor”? It set me thinking.

We as parents are to know better. One of our God given functions is to teach and guide our children through “the maze” called life. But I fear we as parents want our children to be fashionable and popular. Will we allow our children to cheapen themselves as we worship at the altar of fashion and popularity? As a caring parent, we should not allow them to acquiesce to pressure of the “anything goes” culture. We must protect them, not just for the short term but for the long term, protecting their lifelong honor.

Jacob, the Old Testament patriarch, had a number of sons and a daughter named Dinah. In Genesis 34 Dinah, apparently on her own, goes off to visit the neighboring pagan tribe. In the process, she is raped by the son of the tribal leader. Shechem, the son, speaks tenderly to Dinah and wants her as his wife. The clan is willing to pay anything for him to have her as his wife. “Now Jacob's sons (Dinah’s brothers) had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter--a thing that should not be done.” (Gen. 34:7).

They were filled with grief and fury! Why, because Shechem had done a “disgraceful thing”, lying with Jacob’s daughter, “a thing that should not be done.” Dinah was blessed to have two older brothers who were willing to defend there sister but in their fury and grief they became deceitful.

Negotiations ensue, both clans, intending to take advantage of each other, reach agreement which extracts a high price for her hand in marriage. Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, add an additional requirement for the marriage agreement; all the men of the pagan tribe must be circumcised. The pagan tribe agrees and when they are sore and healing and cannot defend themselves, Simeon and Levi kill the men with the sword, plundering everything and take the women and children captive. A message needed to be sent. In any case, this is an overreaction to this situation.

But do our women know we would defend their “honor” no matter what? Would we, as men today, defend our daughters’ honor, our wife’s honor? Do we as men through indifference allow our children to “diminish their own honor” by being an indifferent parent, by shirking our duties? When we defend someone’s honor, let’s deal decisively but honestly and with passion.

Kyla Ebert may be a babe and the world will admire her or it may abuse her. There is nothing wrong with beauty; God is a God of beauty. No doubt a beautiful woman is the finest piece of God’s handiwork but without modesty, she is a woman devoid of true beauty; she looks cheap.

Have we, as parents by our own indifference, allowed our daughters to “diminish their own honor”? If we have, how sad.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

When the swallows leave Winfield Township (Doesn’t sound as romantic as “when the swallows return to Capistrano!)

The first sign of fall was three leaves turning golden yellow on the big ash tree by the bird feeder. The days continue to be hot but the evenings and nights cool off, putting a snap in the Minnesota air. My neighbor stops by and during our conversation says, “The air feels like fall.”

Last Saturday after I had taken a tire to be fixed at Warren’s in Prinsburg, I decided to drive home cross country. I ended up coming east on County 64. Slightly east of Darren Bratsch’s about 160 barn swallows were gathered on power lines. I love barn swallows, the “fighter jets” of the bird world. They are efficient bug harvesters; each farm place seems to have about eight on an average year. I wondered, who told the swallows when to meet? Who told them where to meet? I mean, if my math is correct, 8 per farm, 160 swallows total, they gathered from twenty farms.

When swallows have their first of two groups of fledglings, they harvest bugs from before sunrise until after sunset to feed their young. When they have the second batch, the young swallows help feed the new batch making it easier on mom and dad. Swallows take time off after the second batch of fledglings is out of the nest. They hang around ponds, grass, and fields harvesting bugs strengthening themselves for migration.

Barn swallows are impressive travelers. A round trip for migration can cover 14,000 miles. Who told them when and where? When swallows migrate, they average 600 miles a day; roughly 12 days to cover the 7,000 mile migration. I’m impressed.

Swallows have been known to play with each other. People have observed a swallow picking up a piece of tin foil, flying in the air, dropping the foil and another picking it off in flight only to be dropped again and the process is repeated over and over again. (Personally, I believe this is “Top Gun” training for young “fighter jet” swallows.)

The Lord takes care of the birds. (Matt. 6:26-27: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?) Something is telling them where to gather (Rev. 19:17: And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God,) and when to gather to head back to Argentina.

The Lord is so good, yet many times I do not recognize it. Last Saturday I was concerned about my Sunday sermon. As I worked, my thoughts were continually occupied with thoughts about this sermon. Sunday morning I awoke early and in my time of prayer, I asked for God’s guidance. I received no peace until I met with the elders of the church; they had no peace either concerning this service. Yet when we visited, the same issue was on all our hearts. My sermon addressed these issues. We prayed with tears of joy in our eyes.

What’s the message? On Saturday the Lord allowed me to notice the swallows on the power line by Darren’s and it should have reminded me not to worry because if the Lord takes care of the barn swallows, He will surely take care of me, one of His sons.

I should have known; oh what needless pain we bear!