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Saturday, April 5, 2008


Rosie, our toy poodle, is wearing a plastic funnel collar. The groomer irritated her face while shaving her a week ago, and then Rosie scratched the sensitive areas until they bled. I will be glad to see the collar come off. At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, I want to tell Rosie, “I feel your pain.”

If I feel our little dog’s pain, how much more does our Chief Shepherd feel pain when one of His sheep suffers? You may recall He asked Saul of Tarsus, “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). He felt the injuries Saul was inflicting on His followers. Knowing Jesus cares should help ease any suffering we experience.

I will be visiting some families in Penrose today. I want to extend my thanks to them for attending our church and let them know I am available to serve them. Our church motto, “The church with a heart in the heart of Penrose,” should ring true.

Tomorrow, I will begin a series of messages on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Monday, I have to appear at the El Paso County Courthouse for jury duty. I may not be able to post a blog Monday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Where He Leads Me, Will I Follow?

Are we truly followers of Jesus? Or are we simply followers of
Jesus’ favors? In other words, do we give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly and do what He wants, or do we give Him only lip service, hoping He will give us what we want? In our consumer-driven culture of worship, we ought to ask ourselves these tough questions.

Each of the four Gospel writers narrated the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. The story demonstrates Jesus’ compassion and highlights His deity. Only God could do so much with so little. But the multitude turned away when Jesus predicted His sufferings. Suffering has never been a popular subject, and it never will be.

Like the crowds that followed Jesus for the free handout, are crowds attending church today for what they hope to get from Jesus? What might the crowds do if they learned they might have to suffer for Christ?

In the October 1992 issue of Covenant Companion, John Fischer wrote a brief but provocative reflection that addressed consumerism in the church. His thoughts are still relevant.

“As the church today gets more and more hip—more and more need-oriented, responding to the buttons that people push in their pews— I find myself longing for more of a historical faith. I find all my needs met as much as I want to meet God, and sometimes I wonder if he’s really interested in the noise of our contemporary clamoring. Like my dog who can’t seem to get anywhere because he keeps having to stop and scratch his fleas, I wonder if we are so busy scratching where everybody itches that we aren’t taking anybody anywhere significant”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Repairs, $2,000. Joy, Priceless

The damage to the driver’s side of my car was more extensive than I thought. The claims office and body shop found damage not only to the doors but also to the fenders. The repairs will cost almost $2,000. So Allstate Insurance and I will split the cost. My deductible is $1,000. Frankly, I’m surprised the body shop can fix the damage for that amount and guarantee the repairs for as long as I own the car.

Now, here’s the rub—my car will be in the shop for two weeks, and my policy doesn’t provide for a rental car.

A soldier was at the claims office when I was. His car was in a parking lot when someone struck it and then took off. The claims adjustor told me at least half the claims she processes involve hit and run cases. What does that fact say about drivers in Colorado Springs?

Ironically—or is it by divine design?—I’m starting a study of the book of James at tonight’s midweek service. If you know the book of James, you realize the opening topic is “trials.” James wrote that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials. I won’t exactly be jumping for joy tonight, but I have joy nonetheless. Here are a few reasons:

• The Lord protected me from bodily injury.
• My car is still drivable.
• I will save on gas when the car is in the body shop for two weeks.
• I didn’t wash the car before the accident.
• The Lord uses trials to approve my faith.
• With the exception of the hit and run driver, everyone involved in sorting things out was extremely friendly and helpful: the police officers, my insurance agent, the claims adjuster, and the body shop repairs estimator.

Monday, I have to appear for jury duty. Won't it be ironic if I end up in a hit and run trial? On second thought, it won’t happen. I have a certain bias!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Big Bang Event

Yesterday afternoon I wrote about trials. Last night I experienced one. I was driving home on a busy road when a driver swerved into my lane and sideswiped my car. To make matters worse, he didn’t pull over and stop. He sped away. Unfortunately, because it was dark and I was focused on pulling into a safe spot, I didn’t get a license plate number or a clear look at the car that hit me.

The damage? The back door on the driver’s side is severely dented; the front door is slightly dented.

In response to my 911 call. a police officer arrived within two minutes to check on my condition. I was okay. Soon, another officer arrived and wrote a hit-and-run report. I assume the driver that hit me was drunk, texting, talking on his cell phone, driving without insurance, or driving without a license. Such bad driving habits are not rare.

I have an appointment at an insurance claims office tomorrow morning, and I expect the estimated repair cost to be HIGH. I will have to kick in the deductible. At least I won’t be filling the gas tank when my car is in the body shop.

Why do “bad” things happen to Christians? Read yesterday’s blog, and stay tuned to learn the estimated repair cost.

Stay safe out there!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Let's Make a Deal?

I miss the TV show, “Let’s Make a Deal.” I found it to be entertaining and suspenseful. Whenever the show’s host, Monty Hall, offered a contestant a surprise in exchange for whatever the contestant had brought to the studio or had already won on the show, I could only guess the outcome. The suspense really built near the show’s end, when Monty offered the big winner a choice of what was behind Curtain 1, Curtain 2, or Curtain 3. The big winner knew a valuable prize—perhaps a new car—lay behind one of those curtains. He or she also knew that a zonk, a disappointing prize, lay behind another. Once the choice was made, the curtain rose, revealing either a super prize—a new car, or a boat, or an entertainment unit, or a fabulous vacation package—or a zonk—perhaps a pile of used tires, or a goat, or a tricycle.

If each of us could choose to make a deal with God, offering Him very little in exchange for material wealth and possessions, would we have to think long and hard about striking the deal? Probably not. But we can’t see what God has in store for us. The curtain is closed. However, when it rises, it may reveal what we perceive to be a zonk—something we really don’t want. Nevertheless, we may find in the long run that God has given us a priceless treasure.

For example, who would intentionally choose prolonged illness, financial setback, the loss of a loved one or friend, physical pain, emotional stress, or a nagging boss, if he or she were given a choice? Yet, God delights to turn “zonks” like these into growth experiences. Our faith develops and matures when trials strike it hard. Like a hammer striking metal on an anvil, our faith takes the shape God wants it to have. In the end it emerges durable and effective, and we discover that we are richer for having experienced the hammering.

Romans 8:28 promises that all things work together for the good of those who love God. But what do the “all things” include? And just what is meant by “good”?

Let’s answer the second question first. According to verse 29 the good thing that God is using “all things” to accomplish is conformity to the image of His Son. He has destined us to be like Christ.

Now, the first question: What do the “all things” include? Verse 18 mentions our sufferings, and reports that those sufferings are not worth comparing with the future glory we will experience. Tie it all together. Among the tools God uses to shape us into the glorious image of Christ are sufferings—trials, hard times, difficult circumstances, stresses, pressures, adversities. Call the sufferings what you will, they are intended and permitted by our loving heavenly Father to conform us into the image of His Son.

—From How to Handle Life’s Hurts by Jim Dyet, © 2004, Regular Baptist Press

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nose News

I seldom think about my nose, but I’ve been thinking about it often since an artery in the right nasal passage burst two days ago. I think about the pain. I think about the gauze pads and surgical tape I change every few hours. I think about the fact that I can’t preach this morning. Not only do I look bad, I also feel bad. How can such a little thing as a nose cause such big trouble? I hope those of you who know me aren’t questioning the description of my nose as “little.”

First Corinthians 12 compares the Church to the human body. Even the smallest member of the body is essential. When it hurts, the whole body hurts (v. 28a). Similarly, when one member of the Church hurts, the whole Church hurts. Every believer has a vital role to play if the Church is to be healthy and active.

As soon as my nose heals, I will be back in active ministry. My goal is to help the body of believers in Penrose be at their best for God. In the meantime, I will take it easy and be glad no one has compared me to Jimmy Durante.