April 26, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Sometime ago, a very good friend and I traded emails on current political issues. Our positions are very different, and with each message our words got increasingly heated. Finally, I told my friend that I did not want to jeopardize our long and positive relationship by discussing politics any longer.

When watching a news show in which liberal and conservative guests are invited to comment on a political issue, quite often both the guests and the host, eager to make their point, end up talking at the same time. When that happens, it is impossible to understand anyone, so I quickly turn to another channel.

Katherine Mangu-Ward, managing editor for Reason magazine, recently  made this comment about those who argue their politics so passionately:
“Morality binds and blinds . . . (it) binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle.”
If we turn to Scripture for guidance on how to conduct ourselves in a debate, we might remember Jesus’s commandment that we love each other as he loved us. And for a definition of love, I have always considered Paul’s words in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians (in italics) without equal.

The next time you find yourself “heating up” in a political discussion, consider the following: 
Love is patient  /  Listen carefully 
Love is kind  /  Be considerate
Love is not proud  /  Speak without airs.   
Love does not dishonor others  /  Be respectful   
Love rejoices in the truth  /  Use facts
PS  It’s also good advice for anyone in a relationship.

April 20, 2012

In God We Trust

A minister who had an allergy which caused him to sneeze and cough around fresh flowers was asked to preside at a memorial service. He agreed with the understanding there would be no flowers in the room.

When the pastor arrived for the service, he was surprised to see numerous bouquets around the casket. Realizing it was too late to back out, he proceeded with the service, but in just a few minutes, he was sneezing and coughing so badly, he stopped and asked that the flowers be removed.

In response to his request, a family member approached and whispered, "Reverend, you told us about your allergy, and all the flowers here are artificial."

Things are not always what they seem. For example, those who trusted the Titanic was immune from disaster, sadly, learned that was not the case.

In whom or what do you put your confidence and your trust?

One of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture is the Twenty-third Psalm. These few lines from David’s Psalm express so simply yet  powerfully the depth of the poet’s confidence and trust in God:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me."
In 2011, the House of Representatives reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States. May each of us, as individuals, trust in God’s unfailing love and accept the Rock of Ages as our strength, our confidence and our salvation.

April 13, 2012

Weeds in the Garden of Life

In 1975, Nancy and I bought an old farmhouse with a beautiful view of Keuka Lake. The house had no heat, running water, or electricity, and it badly needed painting inside and out. But we were young, and we were up to the challenge. When we finished renovating and remodeling, we had a new home requiring a minimal amount of upkeep. 

Below the house, was a half acre of rock garden so well hidden beneath locust trees, wild roses, wild grapes and weeds, it was no longer visible from the road it bordered.  With a mental image of what we hoped to achieve, we set about clearing, cutting, pruning, planting, transplanting, watering and grading. Finally, we were satisfied that the result of our efforts deserved to be shown in a local garden contest. 

Two weeks before the judges arrived to inspect what we had accomplished, we withdrew from the competition. The problem was . . . . weeds! 

Each Sunday, our pastor, Judy White, shares with our congregation her thoughts on the Word of God, choice seed that hopefully falls on good soil. But just like our garden on the hill, without constant attention and maintenance, unwanted weeds such as hatred, bigotry, envy, bitterness, lust, greed and anger may also grow in our hearts and ultimately choke out that which is inspired by God. 

Ultimately, we received a first place award for our garden on the hill. Now our goal is to earn God’s approval in the garden of life.  

April 6, 2012

I Believe

Two of the many things I know to be true, but defy understanding, include infinity and what makes the heart start beating in a fetus.

I believe infinity exists, because I know there is no wall out there a billion light years away, but even if there were, there must be something on the other side. Like another infinity.

One explanation of how the heart starts beating in a fetus is that the contractions arise “spontaneously”  22 days after conception.  Spontaneously is defined in the dictionary as “occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.”  Wow! I don’t understand that but obviously, something starts the heart beating.

Each Easter morning throughout the world, Christians celebrate Jesus’s Resurrection from the dead. That miracle defies understanding, but I believe it as a matter of faith and because of the evidence reported in the Bible.

The Scriptures record that Jesus was seen many times after his Resurrection, not as an apparition, but someone who walked, talked and ate with those who saw him. And I believe that without the Resurrection the frightened disciples would never have been heard from again.  Instead the Resurrection  transformed them into flaming, fearless evangelists. who changed the course of history.

Finally, I am a "Big Godder." I believe in a Big God who Is Creator of the universe, who is capable of miracles that defy understanding and who can raise the living from the dead.

I recently heard a gospel song by Bill and Gloria Gaither that expresses how I feel about  the miracle of the Resurrection. Here are the first lines of the lyrics:
I believe, help thou my unbelief. 

I take the finite risk of trusting like a child.
I believe, help Thou my unbelief.
I go into the unknown, trusting all the while.