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Showing posts from July, 2009

Cut To The Chase

I love that phrase! It causes me to bring everything down to the simplest common denominator. I've just finished outlining a sermon from Matthew 5:31-48. This passage deals with some of the more difficult teachings of Jesus. He was answering His critics who were accusing Him of changing or dismissing the laws of Moses. Here He deals with divorce, using oaths, retaliation, and treatment of enemies. The last line of the passage is the "cut to the chase" statement. "Be perfect therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Wow!!! Two by four to the face! When you stop to think about it, how could a perfect God set any standard for His followers that is less than perfect? The moment He does so, He becomes less than perfect. The beauty of this command is that Jesus has met the standard on our behalf. Just as He paid the sin-debt owed by all mankind, He has met the impossible standard of Godly perfection and applied it to our account.
Can I be perfect? …

Golf; A Metaphor for Life

I've heard it many times before. "Golf is a metaphor for life". After this year's British Open, I believe it. For 71 improbable holes, Tom Watson looked to be the victor; a 59 year old putting all the 20, 30 & 40 somethings in their place. He rose to every challenge. He sank impossible 60 foot putts that he called "no brainers". Time and again he split the fairways with magnificent drives that matched his younger opponents not only for accuracy, but for length. Then, on the 72nd hole, with victory in his grasp, something unexpected happened. After a bold putt from the fringe zipped by the cup and settled some 8 feet away, Tom Watson putted, not to win, but to keep from losing. At that moment, the British Open was over. Oh I know that he and Stewart Cink played a four hole playoff, but the tournament ended when Tom switched from offense to defense on that next to last putt. At that point, the 72 hole finish line was moved to the 76th hole, and…

The Inigma of LIfe

Life can often seem complicated. The Apostle Paul mentioned his struggle in Romans 7 where he repeatedly said, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." That appears to be a universal struggle among Christians. Time and again we find ourselves wandering from our chosen path of following Christ to following our own base desires. Sometimes it is a chosen action on our part, but more often it is a reaction to some stimulus; either what someone says to/about us or does to us or to someone we care about. In my experience I've found that the best course of action when I'm tempted to do this is to RESPOND rather than REACT. What's the difference?
When I react to something or someone, I am not in control. It is like when the Dr. hits your knee with that little hammer. You don't think about it, your body just reacts. By allowing my "knee-jerk" reaction free reign, I'm constantly giving the person or occ…

The Miracle @ Cana; Fresh Insight

In continuing writing my devotional book on the sayings of Jesus, today I re-read the passage where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. This is commonly considered to be Jesus' first recorded miracle. As I read it this time, I saw something I hadn't noticed before. I believe there are some lessons here regarding prayer.
Prayer is not limited to just presenting a laundry list of requests to God. Sometimes it is discussing situations with Him with the expectation that He will do what is best in the situation. That seems to be the case in this story. Mary, His mother, simply apprises Him of the situation; the wine had run out. Jesus' response would seem to have ended the discussion, however Mary assumed that He would do something, and alerted the servants to follow His direction. The directions that Jesus gave defied logic, and yet, when the servants obediently did as He bade them, the result was miraculous.
So it is with our prayers. Perhaps we n…

Public Praying

Often prayers that are uttered in public seem to be done on auto-pilot. There are certain words or phrases that are repeated seemingly without thought as to whether they fit the context of the prayer. It seems that when we open our mouths to pray, part of our brain shuts down.
When our girls were young, we determined that we were not going to teach them the rote meal blessings (God is great, God is good...etc) We thought we'd teach them to think about what they wanted to say rather than just recite a memorized prayer. Interestingly, they invented their own rote meal prayers, memorized them and repeated them over and over.
I had a student in my youth group who used the word "Lord" as a punctuation mark or instead of saying "er" or "uh". He was totally unaware until I pointed out to him that in a brief (two minute) prayer he'd said the word "Lord" twenty eight times. The next time he prayed publicly he was almost tongue-tied.
Here is ho…