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Saturday, November 3, 2007

A New Ministry

It’s almost time to turn our clocks back one hour, and it is almost time for me to begin a new ministry. Tomorrow, I will become the interim pastor at Beaver Park Friends Church in Penrose, Colorado. I am looking forward to the opportunity to share God’s Word and shepherd the flock.
Penrose is not an entirely new field of service for me. I had served as interim pastor at an Evangelical Free Church there for six months in 2004. Only a few blocks separate that church and the Friends church.
Philippians 1:1–11 is the text for my Sunday morning message. I plan, Lord willing, to preach through Philippians with brief excursions to seasonal themes at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you live in Penrose or within driving distance, why not attend tomorrow’s service at 10:30? You will receive a friendly welcome and the encouragement of a life-related Bible message. Beaver Park Friends Church is located at 140 Illinois. Take Highway 115 to Penrose. Go east on Broadway to Illinois, and then turn right on Illinois. You can’t miss the church. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Raking Leaves

I was raking leaves yesterday, and I will rake again when all the leaves have fallen off our trees. When I was a kid. I enjoyed raking leaves, but it isn’t something I enjoy doing now. When I was a kid, environmentalism may have been a word in scientists’ vocabulary, but it hadn’t slipped into the vocabulary of the general public. All of us kids delighted in raking fallen leaves into huge piles, jumping into the piles, and eventually moving them to the curb, where we set them on fire. I can still visualize the glowing evening embers of bonfires up and down our neighborhood’s streets. If I focus well on that mental image, I can even smell the rising plumes of smoke.
But yesterday, raking leaves was all work and no play. While my lower back muscles signaled displeasure, I mused about conditions in the Garden of Eden. God had charged Adam with the task of caring for the Garden, but did Adam rake leaves?
No, he didn’t. For one thing, backbreaking unpleasant work did not kick in until sin got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden. For another, seasons didn’t exist until after the Noahic Flood. No changing seasons, no fall; no fall, no falling leaves!
The Bible mentions leaves a number of times. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness by sewing fig leaves together to form aprons (Genesis 3:7). God later clothed them with animal skins (v. 21). Human beings still try to look presentable to God by doing something on their own—good deeds, church attendance, religious rites, etc.—when they really need the covering for sin God provided through the shed blood of Jesus. (See Romans 4:4–8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4–10.)
Psalm 1 features the delight a righteous person experiences when he meditates on God’s Word. Also, meditating on the Word makes his life meaningful and fulfilling. He is like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatsoever he does prospers” (verse 3).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus approached a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. He promptly consigned it to a lifetime of barrenness. Apparently, the fig tree resembled Israel’s religious condition—all show and no fruit. The Lord still detests hypocrisy. He is not impressed by empty religious ceremonies and phony religious actions.
Revelation 22:2 describes the celestial city, New Jerusalem, as having “the tree of life” with leaves “for the healing of the nations.” I believe the New Jerusalem will hover over Earth as a satellite city during the millennial reign of Christ on Earth. At that time, the nations will submit to His lordship, and peace and prosperity will abound. Further, human beings will enjoy extraordinary longevity, perhaps due to the healing properties inherent in the leaves of the tree of life. It is not out of the realm of reasonable speculation that representatives of the nations will shuttle back and forth to the New Jerusalem to obtain the tree’s medicinal properties.
You may want to think about these few Biblical references to leaves next time to rake your yard. I know I will.
Rake on!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's New?

Venez ici, Sadie! Bonne fille, Sadie!
I suppose I could speak to our new puppy this way. She is a Coton de Tulear, a French breed similar to a Bichon. Cotons originated in Madagascar, and “Coton” is French for “cotton.” However, since Sadie was born in Burlington, Colorado, I will forgo the French and address her in English.
Sadie looks like a ball of cotton and is just as light. She seems to be as easy to train, as she is to lift. I’m sure she will be a magnificent little dog. Although we purchased her only yesterday, she has already become a cherished family member as “sister" to our Maltese Molly and our toy poodle Rosie.
Bringing a puppy into one’s home carries a huge responsibility, but the fun that accompanies the responsibility makes the event well worthwhile. I think every senior should buy a puppy. The challenge and joy of caring for a puppy helps to keep a pet owner young at heart. It also forces a senior to stay active.
I can’t walk Sadie in the park alongside Molly and Rosie until she has had a few more vaccinations, but I am looking forward to that first walk. Handling three leashes will require a certain amount of dexterity and alertness and I may have to do the Highland Fling occasionally to avoid tripping, but my muscles and joints will thank me for the exercise.
Regardless of your age, accept a new challenge soon, whether a new puppy brings it to you or it arrives in some other form. Start a Bible study or befriend a needy person or visit a nursing home or invite a neighbor to church or ______________ . You fill in the blank.
We are never too old or too insignificant to take on a new venture for the God of new beginnings.

Here's Sadie!!

Sadie is an 8 week old Coton de Tulear. She joined our family, yesterday. Rosie and Molly are enjoying the companionship of their new sister.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wait until Next Year!

“Wait until next year!”
I suppose Rockies’ fans have been mouthing these words since last night’s decisive loss to the Red Sox. However, no words compensate for the agony of being swept in a World Series showdown. It is almost inexplicable to account for four losses in a row in the World Series by a team that had previously won 21 out of 22 games. We can chalk up the disaster only to the Red Sox’s better pitching and better batting.
It’s time to move on. The Broncos are playing today on Monday Night Football.
Disappointment often punctures a perfectly good day or series of days, and deflates our hopes—and sometimes our sense of self-worth. Second Kings 19 depicts the prophet Elijah as so disappointed in himself that he asked the Lord to take away his life. He had previously championed God’s cause and restored a nation’s faith by exposing the futility of Baal worship and spotlighting the power of the true God. But this event had infuriated sadistic Queen Jezebel, who had imported Baal worship to Israel. She immediately put a contract on Elijah, predicting he would be dead in 24 hours. That’s when Elijah’s faith took a hike; and so did Elijah. He fled the country, continued through Judah to the south, sat down exhausted and depressed under a broom tree in the desert, where he prayed for a quick end to his life.
But God doesn’t give up on His people, even when we give up on ourselves. He revealed Himself to Elijah in a “still, small voice,” and gave him new assignments. Disappointments may be ideal times to anticipate His appointments. When we are at the end of ourselves, we can see new beginnings. Elijah left his one-man pity party in the desert and embraced new opportunities to serve God.
The fact that we are still breathing proves God hasn’t given up on us. We can serve Him today. We don’t have to mope around and wait until next year for another opportunity to serve Him.