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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Do I Need a New Driver?

Golfers are familiar with the saying, “Drive for show. Putt for dough.” I know it’s a wise saying, but I find myself wishing for an extra 30 yards off the tee box.
Recently, one of my golf buddies let me use his Taylor Made R7 off four consecutive tee boxes after I had used my own driver. The result? Thirty extra yards each time and an intense wish to own a Taylor Made R7.
I even went shopping for an R7, but the $299 price tag quickly raised the question, “Do I really need to drive a ball an extra 30 yards?” After all, my drives are straight and fairly long for my age. What I really need, I reflected, is a laser-guided putter. Poor putting, not poor driving, is what elevates my score/. If I could putt well, I would knock at least 10 strokes off my score.
Life tends to imitate golf. We may spend money for things we don’t need, things that show well but add nothing to what really matters. Long drives without accurate putts do not improve a final score. Nor do showy things without a well-tuned spiritual life count for anything.
The writer of Hebrews didn’t play golf, but I have applied one of his exhortations to my brief love affair with a Taylor Made R7: “Be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5b).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

When Trouble Troubles Us

It’s na├»ve to assume the Christian life is trouble free. Accidents can happen. Illness can strike. Unemployment can occur. Relationships splinter. Death claims loved ones and friends. Someday death will visit each of us. But Christians belong to the One who triumphed over trials, brought God’s love, peace, and joy to human hearts, conquered death, arose from the tomb, lives in heaven, and invites us to tell Him all about our troubles (Hebrews 4:14–16a). He has promised to dispense mercy and grace “to help us in our time of need” (v. 16b).
In the Old Testament era, a succession of high priests ministered on behalf of the nation of Israel. Each high priest performed sacrifices on Israel’s behalf and represented the people as He approached God in worship. His priestly attire included two shoulder pieces, each having an onyx stone. The names of six tribes of Israel were engraved on each stone. He also wore a breast piece having twelve jewels in four rows. A tribe’s name was engraved on each jewel. (See Exodus 28:1–29.) Thus the high priest bore the twelve tribes of Israel on his shoulders and on his heart as her fulfilled his priestly duties.
Hebrews 4:14 identifies Jesus as the Christians’ great high priest. He “sympathizes with our weaknesses” and was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (v. 15). He stands in God’s presence bearing us on His shoulders and on our hearts!
When trials and temptations seem too heavy to bear, by prayer we can roll our burdens off our shoulders and onto His, and we can shift a load of care from our hearts to His.
Someone wisely observed, “Prayer is the place where burdens change shoulders.”

© Jim Dyet

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Earth's Golden Age

Earth’s Golden Age lies ahead. It will not be ushered in by humanitarian efforts but by divine intervention. Jesus will return triumphantly to earth, rescue the planet from a moral tailspin, destroy the wicked, and establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace (Revelation 19:11—20:6; Isaiah 2:1–4). Jerusalem will mark the center of Jesus’ kingdom reign (Zechariah 14:17), and Earth will undergo a dramatic renewal program.

• Deserts and wasteland will blossom profusely. Forests will spring up, and grasslands will cover the land (Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7).
• The blind will see; the deaf will hear; the lame will leap; and the mute will shout for joy (verses 5, 6)
• Water shortage will be a thing of the past (verse 7a).
• Gladness and joy will be replace sorrow and sighing (verse 10).
• The Dead Sea will become a fresh-water fisherman’s paradise (Ezekiel 47:9b, 10).
• Longevity and good health will prevail (Isaiah 65:20; Revelation 22:2).
• There will be no power outages (Isaiah 60:19, 20).
• The infant mortality rate will be zero (Isaiah 65:20).
• Everyone will eat well and live securely (Isaiah 65:21, 22).
• Property rights will be respected (Micah 4:4).
• Violence will cease, and prisons will be empty (Isa. 60:18).
• The streets will be safe for children (Zechariah 8:5).
• Children will be safe even around snakes (Isaiah 11:8).
• Wild animals will abandon their savagery. Former predators and prey will live in harmony (Isaiah 11:6, 7a).
• Previously carnivorous animals will be herbivorous (Isaiah 11:7b).
• Universal peace will prevail (Isaiah 9:7).
• Jesus will judge righteously, justly, and decisively (Isa. 11:3, 4).
• Israel will be exalted among the nations (Zechariah 14:16).
• Knowledge of the Lord will pervade the earth (Isaiah 11:9).
• Righteousness and holiness will be reflected in even the most unexpected places (Zechariah 14:20, 21).

What a pleasant place earth will be when Jesus is King over all the earth! Color codes signifying levels of terror alerts will fade into obsolescence. We will never face an outbreak of flu or any other epidemic. Hospices will no longer be needed. Burials will be extremely rare. We will not have to lock our doors or carry homeowners insurance. Amber alerts will be things of the past. Sex offenders will not live in Jesus’ kingdom. If sports venues exist, they will be free of violence and cussing. The newspapers and TV networks will have only good news to broadcast. No one will have to worry about Social Security going bankrupt or CEOs stealing company funds or hoodwinking stockholders. We will not have to wonder how our political leaders might respond to nuclear buildups in unfriendly nations. A natural disaster will not occur anywhere in the world. Peace will prevail among individuals, nations, and the forces of nature.
So don’t look around you and feel hopeless, thinking the world is about to end. Instead, look above you to the Lord of heaven and earth and anticipate a better day for Planet Earth.

—Adapted from All Good People Go to Heaven and Other Religious Lore by Jim Dyet (Honor Books). © 2006 by Jim Dyet

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild

As an editorial board member of the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, I get to brainstorm ways the Guild can recruit and train Christians more effectively for the ministry of writing. The board numbers about sixteen and includes college professors, editors, publishers’ reps, and successful writers. Yesterday, we churned out a variety of good ideas we hope will empower Guild students to create significant articles, screenplays, dramas, and books.
The printed word holds potential for good and bad. It can shed light in a dark world, but it can also cast a shadow of doom and despair. Christian writers have the ability to look beyond the stark headlines and distressing reports of world events and see the hand of God. They know He holds the future and extends help for today. If they write clearly and compassionately, they will equip their readers for a faith that triumphs over trials and temptations. Indeed, an effective writing ministry can change the world, one heart at a time. That’s what the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild is all about.

"Then the LORD replied: 'Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it'" (Habakkuk 2:2).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This Old House: Where Seniors Live

“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” (Romans 12:1).

In the 1950s Christians were singing “This Old House,” a song written by Stuart Hamlin. It compared a believer’s aging body to a house whose windows, floors, and doors were wearing out. But Stuart said he didn’t have time to fix the shingles, fix the floor, oil the hinges, or mend the windowpanes. “I won’t need this house much longer,” he wrote; “I’m getting ready to meet the saints.”
Stuart was on to something. This old house, the human body, leaves much to be desired. The older it gets, the more it sags, squeaks, staggers, slumbers, shutters, and shakes. We visit doctors and pharmacies more often than we visit grocery stores; and pills cram our medicine cabinet more than commuters cram a New York subway train at 5:00 o’clock on Friday. Most three year olds can tie their shoelaces faster than we can, and they can consume a biggie order of French fries faster than we can swallow a glass of Metamucil.
And those slick, one-pill or one-ointment-rub cure-all commercials don’t help at all. You know the kind: Grandma can’t play ball with Billy because her arthritic shoulder is killing her. But after rubbing just one dab of that no-smell Wonderlube on her shoulder, she turns into a pitching ace. Billy is ecstatic; he thinks Grandma might win the Cy Young Award.
Of course, some medicinal aids can help alleviate our pain, but this old house will never return to mint condition. We can slow the aging process, but we can’t stop it. Nevertheless, it has served us well for decades and will be our residence until our final moving day.

According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, the Christian should honor God with his body because it is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s body is also referred to as a house (KJV, 2 Corinthians 5:1). No matter how tired or stressed our “house” may be, we ought to maintain it as well as we can. Following a proper diet, getting adequate rest, and exercising regularly are just a few important ways to show respect for the body as God’s possession and the Spirit’s residence. Following our doctor’s orders and taking our prescribed medications consistently are two additional ways.
We can honor God with our body by speaking kind, loving words; by listening to a neighbor’s concerns; by talking about the goodness of the Lord; by hugging a grandchild; by extending a helping hand to the needy; by walking into a patient’s hospital or nursing home room and offering a smile; and by bending our knees in prayer on behalf of others.
We may not need this old house much longer, but until we vacate it, let’s take care of it and honor its Builder.

“Lord, may my hands, feet, lips, and ears honor You, and may my heart beat with love for You and others until You post my final moving day from this old house.”

—From 40 Days to Your Best Life for Prime Timers by Jim Dyet and Joe Ragont, © 2006 Honor Books