Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's Important?

Arthur Smith wrote a short song in 1959 and recently I was reintroduced to the words and I cannot get them out of my head - but mostly my heart.  Let me share the words first.

Acres of diamonds, mountains of gold, 
Rivers of silver, jewels untold;
All these together won't buy you or me
Peace when we're sleeping or a conscience that's free.
A heart that's contented, a satisfied mind,
these are the treasures, money can't buy;
If you have Jesus, there's more wealth in your soul, 
than acres of diamonds, mountains of gold.

It is hardly necessary to say anything more.  What a picture he painted in these words.  I can picture the extreme of acres, mountains, and rivers.  In current terms, if you were at the very top of our nations 1% and you could put all treasure together in one time and place it could never buy you what is truly important.  Anyone would be willing to give anything to have peace, a free conscience, contentment and mental satisfaction.  All that we need and truly long for is found in Jesus.

As I write this little uncomplicated blog this morning I am so glad that I know Jesus as my Savior and friend.  I am glad that my relationship with him is highly personal and deeply emotional at my heart's level.  These words place life in proper perspective.  I only wish I was younger and had more years than I do now to live for my Savior and serve Him in ministry.  But while we cannot turn back the clock I can make the most out of the time I have left (whatever that my be).  It is amazing to be able to reflect and then say that I have the treasures money can't buy.  There is more wealth in my soul than acres of diamonds and mountains of gold.

Like Paul this morning I can say that for me to live is Christ (I am ready to serve my Lord) and to die is gain (I am ready to meet my Lord when he calls me home).  I hope these words will stir your soul as they have mine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just do something for others

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  Anne Frank

Every generation, as they age, thinks the world is simply going to hell.  The impressions are pretty much the same in that evil is worse than ever, youth are irresponsible, the world is coming to an end.  Well the list could go on for hours.  It is the same with every generation.  But, we never stop to think it through.  This isn't the worst ever - in fact, it's simply pretty normal human behavior just like it always has been.  It looks different so we conclude that it has to be worse.

Does one really think that we live in a more evil time than when the Romans were persecuting the Christians and ruling the world with an iron fist?  Do we feel that now is worse than when our nation was torn by a civil war with hundred's of thousands dying over the right to enslave an entire race?  Do we feel that our time is worse than Europe under Hitler and the death camps?  Is that alone enough of a reality check.  Of course right now we are being told that the destiny of America rests on this single Presidential election.  I want to laugh because I hear that one every four years.

What we do with the belief that its all about over is look at our past with rose colored glasses, disengage from now and find a comfortable chair from which we can watch it all burn up.  Truth is that we choose to do nothing to improve the world.  It is true that we should live each day as if it were the last in terms of our own being ready to meet our creator.  But, that is where it ends.  Christians are to live each day as if there is no end in sight ever in terms of doing what all Christians have been called to do everyday of our existence.

God does not give us an out because of any of our excuses no matter how reasonable they seem to us.  Not listening when we bring up the economic times, social ills, our lack of resources, our lack of special talents or abilities, our personal pains, where we live, how much we already have on our busy plate and so forth.  He's not listening to any of it.

It is our responsibility to show love to our neighbor (everyone), to spread the Good news, to be passionate about mercy and justice, to live humbly, to love God with our whole being and so forth.  It is our responsibility to make a difference.  Anne Frank really said it well  in pointing out that we don't have to wait another second to get out of our favorite chair or our place of self pity and get started improving the world.  Of course, why do that if we believe that it's all useless and falling apart at the seams.  We are right back at our normal excuse and God isn't listening.  Get up and start improving the world.  We do that one simple act at a time.  Do the right thing over and over again like the energizer bunny.

We improve our world and take simple action as seen through the eyes of God not through the eyes of our human understanding.  We want to process who is worthy of our helpful actions.  We want to focus our assistance on certain groups cutting out others.  Some only want to do things that are "local."  But not with God.  God has a world view and includes everyone.  So without qualifications we set out to improve our world at every opportunity.  It really doesn't matter who bad or how good the world is at a given moment.  Our task is not to produce or worry about an end result like a perfect result of our labors or a perfect world.  Our task is simply to do the right thing for everyone one action at a time.  Whatever your hand finds to do simply be sure to do it.  Do it today.  Improve the world!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Separation of Church & Hate

 I really enjoy reading the church signs that I drive by each week.  One of our sister churches has a great line on theirs right now.  It says, We support the separation of church and hate!  That is outstanding and I want to take some time and share some of my thoughts about that.

To start, in terms of "hate," I am not talking about bizarre behavior.  For example, those who hurt young children or murder innocent people - we all "hate" that behavior.  What I refer to is a much more nuanced definition of the word. Much of our "hate" is simply how we feel about something that is different than how we view things, especially when we feel we cannot coexist with it.  Think about that.  We "hate" what makes us uncomfortable.  So we express those feelings in visceral terms - I hate...

Church as designed by Christ is all about NOT hating.  If lived out as designed church has no place for hating those with differing political views.  Church has no place for hating those with differing views on social and moral issues.  Church has no place for hating those how hold differing religious views.  No one can tell me that it doesn't exist or that it is acceptable at any level.  No matter what it is called or how it is dressed up, I have experienced this hatred over and over again.  Especially in these three critical issues of political views, views on social & moral issues as well as religious differences.  All the hatred spewed out in the name of God.

I feel secure in what I see as "right" for me.  But, I can accept that others differ from me.  In fact, that is the key - we all differ.  The real problem with being different occurs only because we force our views on others as superior views or as the only acceptable view.  I've heard the easy answer people use.  They say, God hates the sin but loves the sinner.  While there may be some element of truth in the statement we really use it as a cover for our own negative feelings, our feelings of "hate."

We transfer the blame for our opinion on to God.  Besides, who can argue with God.  That alone justifies our feelings and our expressions about our feelings.   Since we have determined God's position on our pet topic we are only defending his position with our reactions.   In fact, our reactions are exactly as God would react.  But, if we were honest, God doesn't react like we do.  How can we ever grow, learn or help others if the first thing we do is label them as wrong and ourselves as right.  Even if unspoken we present ourselves as superior.

Church has driven many people away over the centuries because we've found ways to be people who "hate."  That's sad to me when the message we say we extend to the world is "come.'  At least for my lifetime, the church is hopelessly divided because we a sustained history of gathering into little groups that are just like us and those groups keep getting smaller as we discover that even "us" can't agree.  I wish we  could learn the joy and freedom of loving God while at the same time accepting the differences of others.  I too support the separation of church and hate.