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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Blame Game

Gloria and I had a coupon for $20 of food at Fat Burgers. The coupon cost only $10 online. What a deal!
I don’t eat burgers very often; they are not on my healthful-foods list. But an occasional burger won’t kill me, will it? Besides, Fat Burger cooks up such tasty burgers.
There’s more to the story. Fat Burgers’ milkshakes are also not on my healthful-foods list, but they also taste good, and an occasional milkshake won’t kill me either.
Nevertheless, I had planned to order only a burger and a fountain drink—a Diet Coke until my wife and the order taker pressured me to order a milkshake. They reasoned I could order $20 worth of food for just $10. Why skimp?
I succumbed to the temptation, and after draining the last drop of strawberry milkshake, I excused my dietary sin by blaming my wife. If she hadn’t found such a good deal on line . . . if she hadn’t talked me into the milkshake. And then I remembered the old story of Adam and Eve. When confronted with his sin, Adam told God the woman He had brought into his life had given him some of the forbidden fruit, and he ate it. In other words, Adam engaged in the blame game. He blamed not only Eve but also God. After all, God had give Eve to him.
From Adam until now, the blame game has been popular. Here are a few comments that prove my point:
“I wouldn’t be such a nag if you would help with the kids and the housework once in a while.”
“How do you expect me to get good grades in that class? The teacher puts trick questions in every test.”
“I admit I have a hot temper, but my parents abused me when I was a kid.”
“So I get into trouble, but I had good friends where we used to live. If you and Mom hadn’t moved away from the old place, I wouldn’t have gotten mixed up with a gang.”
“The traffic light switched from green to red before I could stop.”
“I would have birdied the 15th hole if Fred hadn’t sneezed just as I was putting.”
“Sure, the economy’s a mess, but we inherited eight years of poor management.”
“It’s all Bush’s fault.”
Blaming others for our sins doesn’t fool God. The only way to shake off our guilt and become blameless in His sight is to believe Jesus took the punishment for all our sin, admit our guilt, and receive Jesus as our Savior. King David wrote: “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Long-Lasting Marriages

Strange For Sale ads appear from time to time like the one that offered a wedding dress “worn only one time by mistake.” Recently Gloria and I have been receiving 50th-anniversary announcements from friends. In each case, the wife wore her wedding dress only one time, but not by mistake. Of course, there are many reasons why a marriage may crumble quicker than the wedding cake, but here are a few reasons many Christian marriages last 50 years or longer:

1. Each person chose to marry the person God chose.

2. The husband and wife entered marriage with personal faith in Christ.

3. The marriage was never a 50/50 proposition; it was a 100/100/100 proposition. Each person was 100 percent committed to the other and both were 100 percent committed to Christ.

4. Selflessness prevailed over selfishness.

5. Both parties perceived anger as one letter short of danger.

6. “I love you” was demonstrated not simply enunciated.

7. Forgiveness displaced resentment.

8. A sense of humor kept the couple young at heart.

9. Prayer lifted burdens from the couple’s shoulders and onto the broad shoulders of Jesus, our Burden Bearer.

10. Two exercises were banned from the marriage: running up bills and jumping to conclusions.

11. Compliments flowed freely; negative criticism was rare.

12. The couple’s hair turned gray or white, but the flame in their hearts always glowed brightly for each other and the Lord.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hen and the Hog

It’s a fable, but it makes a good point.

A hen and a hog had been driving since 4:00 A.M. along Route 66 in the early 1060s. They were hungry and anxious to find a place to have breakfast. At last, they saw a roadside café with a flashing neon sign that advertised “Ham & Eggs.” The hog pulled the ’59 Mustang into the café’s parking lot and parked.

“Just a minute,” the hen cautioned the hog, “I don’t think I want to eat here.”

“Why not? The hog asked.

“Because the sign advertises ‘Ham & Eggs,’ “not Eggs & Ham. How do you rate the top billing?”

Motioning the hen to exit the car, the hog replied, “Think of it this way. For you, it is just a contribution, but for me, it’s total commitment.”

Christian living is not supposed to be simply a contribution. It involves total commitment. Can we embrace the apostle Paul’s philosophy of life? He stated: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Huntsville G8 and '58

President Obama must be impressed with his accommodations at Huntsville, Ontario. Huntsville, about a two-hour drive north of Toronto is the site of the 2010 G8 Conference. Located in the Muskoka region, Huntsville offers excellent Canadian scenery and abundant wildlife. I know Huntsville because Gloria and I visited there in the fall of 1958, a few months after our June 7th wedding.

A church in the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada had invited me to candidate for the position of pastor and had booked Gloria and me into a local motel. Our accommodations were vastly different from those of the current G8 leaders. They are guests at Huntsville’s luxurious, 800-acre Deerhurst Resort, whereas in 1958 Gloria and I stayed at a small motel about five grades below rustic. A tiny bathroom separated our cramped room from a room occupied by hunters. We entered the bathroom from our room; the hunters entered it from theirs.

Because it was moose-hunting season, all the men of the church, except one elderly fellow, were stalking moose in Muskoka. Consequently, only a largely female congregation heard me preach.

After church, we ate at a home where a rat had fallen into the well, and the hostess served undercooked pork. It was almost as pink as our faces were when we learned we would share a bathroom with hunters.

My memory may dim as my age advances, but I don’t think I will ever forget the Huntsville experience Gloria and I shared 52 years ago. Many older pastors learned a long time ago to say, “Where He leads me I will follow. What He feeds me I will swallow.” I don’t think the G8 leaders at Huntsville will have to swallow anything unsavory, and I hope you and I don’t have to swallow any unsavory policies they cook up there.