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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Talking or Non-talking?

Gloria and I ate at a Cracker Barrel last night. We were seated across from a couple about our age. I couldn’t help noticing the couple didn’t speak to each other throughout their meal. They spoke occasionally to the waitress, but not to each other. I’m sure you have witnessed this phenomenon if you have dined with 70-somethings.

Maybe after five decades of marriage, some couples run out of things to say to each other. Fortunately, Gloria and I haven’t. But the episode of silence at Cracker Barrel spun my mental wheels. Not long ago, restaurants asked arriving patrons: “Smoking or non-smoking?” Now in some states smoking is not allowed in public buildings. But why not seat people in restaurants according to the following preferences? As far as I know nothing in the statute books prohibits restaurants from doing so.

• Talking or non-talking? Why not let diners sit in either a talking section or a non-talking section? I‘m positive the non-talking section would benefit a restaurant. Non-talkers would eat quickly and leave quickly, allowing the restaurant to rotate more people in and out. The more patrons served, the more income derived.

• Fast-eating or slow-eating? Like the previous option, a fast-eating section would generate greater income for a restaurant.

• Quick decision-makers or menu cruisers? Again, a section dedicated to quick decision-makers would move a crowd quickly from order to checkout and therefore generate more income for the restaurant.

• Tippers or non-tippers? A section set aside for non-tippers might appeal to the frugal or the stingy until they tired of being seated outside, next to the dumpster.

Churches, too, could seat worshipers according to their personal preference. They might offer the following sections:

• Hand raisers or non-hand raisers? I’m guessing the non-hand-raising section would fill up with white-haired and bald worshipers. They learned to worship quietly without ostentation. They might argue that people should be able to worship God without having to be distracted by a bunch of outstretched hands. It might be good to have the non-hand-raising section down front. At least, the people down front wouldn’t have to see the hands raised behind them.

• Givers or non-givers? A non-giving section would speed up a worship service. After all, why waste time passing offering plates to those who have no intention of giving.

• Listeners or non-listeners? A non-listeners section could be stocked with reading material: old bulletins, leftover Sunday school papers, and denominational newsletters. It probably wouldn’t work to include Bibles. I doubt non-listeners have much interest in reading a Bible. The listener section should be stocked with paper and pencils. Listeners at church might welcome the opportunity to take notes on the sermon.

• Greeters or non-greeters? Some churches ask their worshipers to greet one another. Why walk the length and breadth of a sanctuary in search of people to shake hands with? The process is confusing and time consuming. Those who don’t want to shake hands can huddle together in a section apart from the howdy-do worshipers. And the howdy-do people can complete the greeting task in a faster, more orderly fashion.

• Praise choruses or hymns? Once again, the section designated for those who prefer hymns may be small and filled with seniors, but at least those who sit there would be making a statement. Of course they may sit and sit and sit without ever hearing even a phrase from “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Crown Him with Many Crowns” or “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned.”

You may think of other seating preferences for church. But please don’t suggest designated seating for bloggers or non-bloggers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An Early Morning Knock at Our Door

A neighbor knocked on our door at 7:00 this morning. He told me his mother-in-law, who lived with him and his wife, had just died. “Will you come over and say a prayer?” he asked. I followed him to his home, where I prayed with the family at the deceased woman’s bedside.

The death of a loved one or friend tests our faith and troubles our hearts, but our Lord conquered death and arose from the tomb to open Heaven for all who believe on Him. He removes the sting from death and instills invulnerable hope in our spirits. We know because He lives, we, too, shall live. Although death separates us for a time from our loved ones, it ushers us into the presence of our Savior (2 Cor. 5:8),

This morning’s newspaper reports that most Americans “believe their religion is not the only path to eternal life.” In a recent Pew Forum poll more than 60 percent of those claiming to be Southern Baptists said “many religions can be right about how to get to the hereafter.” Their opinion certainly doesn’t square with Southern Baptist teaching.

Obviously the theology our pluralistic society has become politically correct but Biblically incorrect. It seems to bend truth to fit a wide range of thinking. In the process of allowing everyone to think whatever is right in his own mind, post-modern culture has ignored what Jesus said about the way to Heaven. He said, “I am the way . . .. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

When “Who Wants to Make a Deal” was on the air, the host, Monty Hall, offered contestants the opportunity to choose one of three doors. Zonks were behind two of the doors, but a wonderful prize was behind the third. Religion may suggest many doors lead to heaven, but the Bible identifies one door as the only one that leads there. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). I hope you have made the right choice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Always at Home!

I learned yesterday that a professor at a Christian college argues that demons may invade and possess a Christian. He compares this situation to that of a homeowner who leaves his house unattended while he goes on vacation. In his absence, intruders break into the house and vandalize it. The vacationer still owns the house, but the vandals have taken over.

The professor’s illustration is interesting but completely out of sync with my understanding of pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit). I believe we should not build our beliefs on illustrations but on the Bible. The Bible should be our sole authority for faith and practice, and I do not find one iota of Scripture that suggests a Christian can become demon possessed.

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His followers, and assured the disciples the Holy Spirit would be with them and in them forever (John 14:16, 17). Unlike the homeowner in the professor’s illustration, the Holy Spirit never leaves the property. In addition, the Christian does not hold the title deed to his or her body; God does (1 Cor. 6:19). He purchased you and me at the cost of His Son’s blood (v. 20; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19). The Holy Spirit resides in us and secures us on a permanent basis—“until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:13, 14).

Demons may assault us and even oppress us, but they cannot possess us. Let’s be aware of their limitations and avail ourselves of the resources God has given us to resist and repel them (Eph. 6:10–18).

“He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).