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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sunday's Coming

The Super Bowl should be entertaining, but I don’t have a clear favorite. I like both teams. Our son was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, just 90 miles east of Pittsburgh, and I have always favored the Steelers except when they played the Broncos. But Arizona borders Colorado, where Gloria and I and our son, daughters, and granddaughters live, so I am drawn to the Cardinals. Also. I like the way the Cardinals rallied late in the season to pull off amazing victories, and I have heard that Kurt Warner, the Cardinals’ quarterback, and several other Cardinals are Christians. Undoubtedly Christians play for the Steelers too, so I think it is unwise to believe God favors one team over the other. As far as I’m concerned, football is a non-theological contact sport. So permit me to be ambivalent until the game is well under way.

I will be preaching from the first chapter of the book of Jonah Sunday morning. When the Lord commanded the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry against it, Jonah disobeyed by booking a ship headed for Tarshish. As you know, his disobedience landed him in a whale of trouble. It is always best to obey God!

I plan to preach from the book of Jonah each of the four Sundays that remain in my interim ministry at Penrose. A permanent pastor begins his ministry March 1.

What will I do when my current interim pastor ministry ends? The answer lies in the Lord’s hands. I am open to go where He sends me and to do what He wants me to do. I have no intention of packing my bags and checking into a retirement community in Tarshish.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Out of Debt Forever

Our national debt for ’09 is estimated at $1.2 trillion. That’s a lot of debt to pass along to future generations of Americans. Frankly, I think the stimulus plan to bail out companies and institutions by throwing money we don’t have at them is unwise. Is there something I’m missing?

I try to stay out of debt by paying what I owe with real money. I’m sure that’s also your personal economic plan. However, there is one debt I could never pay. But someone paid it for me. Jesus cancelled the debt of my sin—and yours—not with a promissory note but with His blood. On the cross, He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). A valid paraphrase of those triumphant words is, “Paid in full.”

Colossians 1:14 points out that we have redemption through Jesus’ blood. If anyone suggests redemption comes through good works or through a church, you may wish to refer him or her to Colossians 1:14.

An old Gospel song asks, “What can wash away my sin?” The next line replies, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” I'm not surprised to find good old theology in a good old hymn.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Retirement Isn't in the Bible. So?

“Retirement isn’t in the Bible. So I don’t plan to retire.” The 40-year-old teacher told his adult Sunday school class. Stay tuned! Twenty-five years from now he may change his mind.

The teacher was right about one thing, though; the subject of retirement isn’t in the Bible. But neither does the Bible mention health insurance, automobiles, vacations, or hot fudge sundaes. Yet, most of us carry health insurance, buy automobiles, take vacations, and enjoy an occasional hot fudge sundae. You haven’t heard anyone say, “No hot fudge sundae for me, thank you; the Bible doesn’t mention hot fudge sundaes. But, if you happen to have some locusts and wild honey . . . .“

The issue of retiring comes down to a personal decision based on circumstances. More of us are postponing retirement. We recognize that improved medical care—clear diagnoses, safe surgical procedures, and new drugs—is extending human life. If we retire at 65 but live to be 85 or 90, our previously anticipated retirement income need would not carry us through those extra years. Also, if we enjoy good health, we reason that we might get bored after a few years of fishing or lounging beside a pool. So we opt to stay in the work force a while longer. Then, too, shrinking 401Ks make it hard to retire as early as many of us had planned.

Post-retirement-age workers pose a problem, though, to their companies because they cost more in wages and health benefits. Many firms, therefore, encourage employees to retire by offering them an attractive severance package. But, if aging workers love their jobs or feel no one can replace them, they may choose to stay until they are carried out in a pine box.

The Bible doesn’t indicate whether it is right or wrong to retire, but it makes it clear that we ought to serve the Lord as long as we live. What happened to the apostle John affirms this fact. The Roman emperor had banished—retired—John to the obscure island of Patmos. Surely, at the age of 90 and living far from the mainland, John would pose no threat to the empire. How could he spread Christianity from Patmos? He might as well kick back, wait for Gabriel to blow his horn, and take his last breath.

But John wasn’t the retiring type. He kept on worshiping and serving the Lord, and one day he received a visit from Him. There, at Patmos, Jesus commissioned John to write Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Revelation has given believers through the centuries a glimpse of Jesus as our glorified Lord, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. John’s brightest day and perhaps greatest ministry arrived nearly three decades after his 65th birthday.

Your best day, too, may lie ahead.

© Jim Dyet