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Friday, August 8, 2008

Sundays Away from Home

Somewhere I read Westerners do not take as many vacations as Europeans. Although I don’t dispute this observation, it seems to me Westerners make the most of whatever vacation time they have. Our airports, train stations, and bus terminals overflow with vacation travelers, especially during summer months. Also, weekends find thousands of travelers driving our highways in bumper-to-bumper pursuit of that special get-away-from-it-all place. It may be a lake, the mountains, a river, sand dunes, the desert, an amusement park, the ocean, or a golf resort.

However, not all travel is for relaxation or recreation or rest. Many men and women travel weekends for business purposes. Where would our economy be without them? But in all of our vacation and business travels, do we take time to attend public worship? We should. Not only does attending public worship away from home refresh and inspire us, it also encourages those who welcome us into their churches.

There’s nothing quite like the experience of meeting new Christian friends and joining with them in praise and Bible study. Certainly, the joy of Christian fellowship lasts much longer than a vacation or business trip, and each worship experience honors the exhortation, “Let us not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25).

—By Jim Dyet, Copyright © 2008, Anchor

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Slingshot and a Care Message

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

I have yet to catch a foul ball at a baseball game, but one leisurely afternoon I did catch something that resembled a baseball. It happened between the fifth and sixth innings at Colorado Springs’ Sky Sox Park, the world’s highest professional baseball park. Sky Sox staffers had carried tightly rolled T-shirts and giant slingshots onto the field and assumed a launching position between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. Zap, Zing! A missile flew swiftly toward me. I reached up and grabbed it. (No, the Sky Sox didn’t offer me an outfielder’s contract.)

I unfurled the wadded T-shirt and read its message: “Memorial Hospital. We hear. We heal. We care.” What a good motto for a hospital, I thought.

Jesus’ earthly ministry was one of hearing, healing, and caring. He heard the desperate cries of sin-oppressed, poor, physically challenged, and outcast men and women. He provided both physical and spiritual healing for those who believed. He cared about everyone. He lifted burdens, met needs, forgave sins, turned sadness to joy, and instilled hope in those who despaired.
Jesus still cares. He hears our simple calls for help, meets our needs, and makes life worth living.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fire on the Mountain

It seemed inevitable. A raging grass fire would surely break out near a residential area. After all, Denver had experienced 23 consecutive 90-plus days with humidity hovering around 10 degrees. Forty days this summer brought temperature readings above 90 degrees. The intense heat had turned the foothills brown and dry. Rain is only a faint memory in this drought stricken year, the driest since 1928.

Yesterday, the inevitable happened. Dark clouds rolled over the foothills. Flashes of lightning lit up the western sky. At least one strike ignited parched grass near Green Mountain’s 6th Avenue Estates. Soon a jagged wave of marauding, angry flames rolled toward million-dollar homes. One home, called the hotel home by locals, was almost encircled by fire, but firefighters managed to protect it. As the fire advanced, residents packed valuables into their cars and wondered whether their homes would succumb to the inferno. Ultimately, however, the fire surrendered to the firefighters’ efforts. It left behind hundreds of smoldering, charred acres.

Today’s weather forecast offers the hope of cooler temperatures and rain.

Reports from the fire scene on Green Mountain brought back painful memories. Our family lived in the Green Mountain area for less than six months, and moved from our home to the back of a church August 5, 1973—25 years ago today. In case you are wondering, we did not live in a million-dollar home, nor did fire drive us out of our home. We lived a few miles southeast of the area that is now 6th Avenue Estates, and a flood forced us to leave our home. An underground stream had changed its direction and rushed into our home. For the record, insurance does not cover damage caused by underground water.

Yesterday, residents whose homes were at risk learned what I learned 25 years ago. Property and material possessions are vulnerable to sudden loss. I hope they also learned that only spiritual blessings endure. Perhaps we all attach too high a value to what we live in, wear, stash in the bank, and drive. We should rank such things much lower in value than what we have in Christ. As the apostle pointed out in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

May we keep everything in proper perspective!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Putting Money in the Right Place

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

Somewhere I read a joke about a woman who sued for a divorce on religious grounds. She told her attorney she worshiped money and her husband didn’t have any.

We can enjoy the humor in this story, but it also has a serious side. Some people do worship money and even accompany such worship with sacrifices. They may sacrifice their own health as they work long hours in the pursuit of what they consider the almighty dollar. They may sacrifice their marriage by devoting far more attention to their financial goals than to their spouse. They may sacrifice their children by leaving little or no time for parenting. They may even sacrifice their souls by having greed as their creed and valuing gold above God.

Jesus issued crisp but significant counsel about setting life’s priorities. He taught us to set our hearts on eternal values. Serving God pays eternal dividends, He explained, whereas serving money leads only to irreversible loss (Matthew 6:19–24).

To be sure, the Bible does not condemn wealth. To the contrary, it lauds a number of wealthy men and women for their service to God. Those individuals had their priorities straight. They valued God above money. Like them, we should be good stewards of our money instead of slaves to it. Let’s build our securities in heaven!