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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Time for Some Knee Bends?

Do you enjoy browsing through antique stores? If so, you are not alone. On any given Saturday, thousands of antique shoppers stroll antique stores’ narrow aisles and peer into stall after stall stocked with items from a bygone era.
“Mother used a potato masher like that,” one shopper recalls.
“Grandpa kept a scythe like that one in his barn,” another shopper comments.
Another shopper asks, “Remember the penny scale in front of Murray’s Drug Store? When we were kids, we would step on the scale, insert a penny, and read our weight. And then a little fortune card would slide out of the scale. Those were the days!”
Not long ago, an e-Bay ad offered a truly unusual antique for the home that has everything! It was a hand-carved oak confessional c. 1880, measuring approx. 6 feet x 5 feet x 10 feet. It had been removed from the Church of St. Charles in Algiers, Algeria. Asking price: $2,000/OBO.
Perhaps a buyer would use the confessional as a backyard playhouse or a tool shed. Surely he wouldn’t place it in his living room for the convenience of family wrongdoers.
Like that antique confessional, genuine, contrite Biblically directed-confession itself seems to be almost archaic. Perhaps we have bought so thoroughly into the positive self-image, feel-good-about-yourself philosophy that we fail to acknowledge our sins and the need to confess them to the Lord.
King David understood firsthand the value of confessing our sins humbly and honestly. He wrote: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). I’m sure David didn’t use a confessional booth, but he found just enough room to kneel humbly before a righteous God. In the twenty-first century, too, knee bends are a good spiritual exercise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Patient Waiting

I should be used to waiting. I’ve done so much of it in my lifetime. Waiting at red lights. Waiting at checkouts. Waiting in doctors’ offices. Waiting for payment of articles. Waiting for lunch guests. Waiting for service in restaurants. Waiting for results of medical tests. Waiting for preachers to conclude their sermons. Waiting for slow golfers. The list is almost endless, but I don’t want to make you wait for more examples so I will end it now.
If you think I’m not very patient, you are right, but I’m working on the patience trait. Just yesterday I learned to be more patient when I read in the newspaper that wives and children were reunited with their soldier husbands and fathers at Fort Carson here in Colorado Springs. The soldiers had finally returned from Iraq after a 15-month tour of duty. The long separation must have taxed everyone’s patience beyond measure. The waiting those families endured makes any waiting seem paltry.
So I am going to try to be more patient and find something constructive to do while I wait. I might read a book or harvest some ideas for writing a book. Or I might fill the waiting times with prayer.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples showed impatience. He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 5). However, they asked whether He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time (verse 6). He responded by telling them they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (verse 8). Then, He ascended to heaven.
Jesus will return from heaven someday, and our responsibility is to wait for Him, not idly but actively. We should exercise productive patience and ask what the Lord wants us to do today?
And by the way, Jesus will restore the kingdom to Israel someday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, I am another year older today. I was born November 11. I will give you the century—the 20th—but you will have to guess the year. According to legend, my father left a pot of tea for my mother and left for work the morning of November 11. When he returned from work, he found mother, tea, and me in oor wee hoos on Welgate Street in Larkhall, Scotland.
I was the second son of three, but the only one born in Scotland. My older brother and my younger brother were born in Canada. My parents had emigrated from Scotland to Canada and welcomed my brother Bill into their lives in Hamilton, Ontario. Later, they returned to Scotland, where I was born. When I was three, they emigrated again to Canada, where my brother Bruce was born in Ottawa. A year later we moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, about 12 miles from Niagara Falls. That’s where I grew up.
In 1965 I became a U.S. citizen in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where I served as the pastor of Bell Avenue Baptist Church.
Frankly, I have always cherished my Scottish birth and heritage, but I cherish my birth into God’s family much more highly. January 18, 1952, I received Christ as my personal Savior and immediately became a member of God’s family (John 1:12). I also became a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
I don’t know how many more birthdays I will celebrate, but I want to honor God each day and serve as a channel of blessing to others. After all, what we put into our years counts far more than the years we put in.