Saturday, June 11, 2011

Family Memorits

Past memories are flooding my mind as we get ready for my nephew's wedding. It is like a family reunion here in Texas. My sister gave me a folder of very old newspaper articles my mother had saved.

By old I mean that some of them dated back to the mid sixties. Most of them were about my ministry over the years. There were some things that I did not remember until I read them. I really need to sit down with this stuff and write my life's history while I still can.

In talking with my siblings I recognize they remember some events differently than I do. Sometimes I have to laugh about the variance in our reflections. Life is that way when it comes to a point of view. We witness the same event and see different aspects of it and that charges our memories with different understanding. It is not that one of the other is lying but we honestly remember differently. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Truth About Wisdom

Wisdom is not easily possessed. One can have all kinds of knowledge and be intelligent, and yet not have wisdom. One can be lacking a higher education and still be wise.  Wisdom is the ability, one could say a
 gift, to ponder a problem and know the best answer. Like Solomon knowing how to discover the correct mother between two women claiming the same child.

Wisdom develops out of intelligence, knowledge and experience. Beyond simply knowing and understanding what options are available, “

Wisdom” provides the ability to differentiate between them and choose the one that is best.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One of my Old Testament Heros

The story of one of my favorite OT hero’s is inspiring. It’s not David or Esther. It’s Gideon, a very ordinary man who learned an extraordinary lesson that still inspires God’s people.

            Gideon was a farmhand who lived in a chaotic time in Israel when the nation was so weak it did not even have a king. When the country was threatened by their powerful neighbors, the Midianites, God chose the improbable Gideon to lead the army assembled to fend off the enemy.

            The scene for the battle is set:  135,000 Midianites encamped in a broad valley, with Gideon at the head of 32,000 troops just north of there. And God speaks to Gideon:  “The people who are with you are too many for me to give them victory over the Midianites. They might think that they have won by themselves and give Me no credit …”  
            Too many—32,000 against 135,000?!  But at God’s order, Gideon announced that those who were afraid could leave and go home. And 22,000 did just that!  So Gideon now heads 10,000 Israelites to go up against an opposing army.

            God again speaks to Gideon: “the number of people is still too many for me to give them a victory…bring them down to the water and I will test them to chose who shall stay with you”.  What a test for Gideon, even to trust that he was not on a fool’s errand, that God was not setting them up to fail.

            Gideon led his men to the nearby springs and told them to drink. Most of them got down on their knees to drink, while a few lapped water scooped up in their cupped hands. “Surely God will dismiss these few oddballs,” Gideon must have thought, “and leave me with the majority.”

            But God’s decision was just the opposite! God seemed to prefer the 300 who did the unusual, or who did not think of themselves first, but kept a watchful eye even while drinking water. So Gideon was left with 300 men—a force one percent of its original size, with a ratio of some one to 400 fighters!  

             God now declared, “This number is just right. With 300 people I will save you, and give them victory over the Midianites.”  When he then instructed Gideon to move forward for battle, God must have sensed his anxiety and doubt. That night he told Gideon to go down to the enemy’s camp and “You will hear what they are saying, and then you will be bold and confident.”  So, under the cover of darkness, he took his trusted aide and slipped down to spy on his opponent.

            Gideon got to the camp just in time to hear one soldier telling another his dream: “I dreamed that a loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and hit a tent. The tent collapsed and fell on the ground.”

            “Aiiee!” said his friend, “this has to be the sword of Gideon the Israelite!  It can’t mean anything else! God has turned Midian—our whole camp—over to him!”          Finally Gideon understood—none of what he had happened was just coincidence or unlucky accident.  The 300 men, the risky spying mission, then overhearing the dream and learning of his enemy’s weakness and fear—it was all God’s doing to give them wisdom and understanding that would lead to victory.

            With new faith, Gideon bowed in worship. Then with new confidence, he rushed back to rally his people: “Get up!  The Lord is giving you victory over the Midianite army!”  You can read this story in Judges 6 and 7, how Gideon used his new found trust in God to inspire his people to rout their enemies and save the vision of the Promised Land.

Today we encounter numerous Midianites: the great needs of people, the uncertain economy, the changing political and social climate. Today the resources may seem too few to meet the need and accomplish the mission.  I hope the story of Gideon will inspire us to remember:

  • That God’s people have been in this position before
  • That the direction of our vision is right
  • That the resources needed—including the talents of each other—are at hand, and they are enough

All this is true for us, as it was for Gideon, when we trust, not in our power or might, but in the Spirit of the Lord of all—all time, all peoples, all justice, all assets, all visions, all hope.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is it fair?

A good reputation is something to cherish and very difficult to rebuild once damaged. It is a life long process to maintain and requires good core values.

Some people are like the man who said, “I was converted 40 years ago and I have been a Christian off and on ever since.”

Every day by our actions and our words we either ad to or shred our reputation in the society in which we live. One slight slip can reduce to ashes a life’s image that took so long to build up.

It is not only our own reputation we affect when we talk about or make judgments about other people. We are dealing with their reputations when we talk or act in haste. We need to be vary careful not only about what we do to our personal reputation but be fair toward the reputation of others.

Gossip can tarnish unfairly the reputation of a person and cause a lot of grief. An old saying before speaking about another person is “Is it true, is it fair? If in doubt don’t say it.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Yellow Rose Now Red Rose

This Rose bush once produced big Yellow Roses
Now it produces these Red Roses

Faith Offers Us

I talk to so many people who feel that their faith should provide them with an escaper from all of life's problems and troubles. The idea that if I just have enough faith all my troubles will not happen and I will be protected from illness and disaster is not real.

Christian faith is not intended to withdraw us from life or even solve our problems. Note what happened to most of the Apostles who were killed because of their faith. Our faith does provide us wit deep spiritual strength to guide us in dealing with the problems that life throws at all humanity. My faith gives me the strength to face what ever tomorrow will throw at me.

My faith gives me power and love.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Fish Tale or What We Think We Know

Mention the story of Jonah in the Old Testament and what comes to mind is Jonah and the whale. We have heard that so often that it is set in stone in our minds. So we think we know that as a Bible Fact.

If you actually read the book of Jonah you discover that no where does it say "Whale" it just says "Big Fish" and people assume they know what it is and go from there. To top that off the fish tale is a very small part of the story. Because we get so caught up with the fish tale we miss the main message of the book.

Jonah is the first foreign missionary that God sent and he so  hated the people he was sent to that he ran the other way. Jonah was reluctant and had to be convinced to go. When he did go and preach God's words to the Gentiles he was successful and the people repented.

Now if I had that much success in the mission field I would be filled with joy. Not Jonah, he got angry and went out on a hill and sulked because God did not destroy his hated enemy.

The message that God loves all his children often escapes us and we want God to hate the people we hate while God wants us to love the people He loves. We all need to really read the message of God in the book of Jonah and forget the fish tale.