Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Today, I read once again, the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. It is my firm conviction that most Christians like to quote this prayer and even pray it..... but most do not adhere to it. Or maybe that depends on how you define the word "Christian." It seems to me that the true Christian and the Lord's prayer are in many ways synonymous. In this I find myself coming up short for I do not believe that I have mastered what Jesus meant when he said that we should forgive our debtors. In verse 14 He clarifies it, "those who have sinned against us."
For some reason it is always easier to see the other guy's sin and feel the pain of it when he has wronged us or dissed us. But our own sins and wrong doing we are able to rationalize and for some reason doesn't quite fall into the catagory of "sin." Perhaps the biggest sin is not forgiving those who have sinned against us. We expect God to forgive us, yet, we feel no inclination to forgive others. At least I struggle with this from time to time.
Many years ago, in my former life, when I wast pastoring a church in North Dakota, an evangelist whom I invited to minister in my church betrayed me and spread stories about me to the congregation. When I confronted him he tried to kick me out of my own house. A long story short, I was forced to leave the church as irreparable damage had been done. Nothing he said about me was true and I became bitter and angry.
I began pastoring another church after a few months, but the anger stayed with me. It wasn't until one night I prayed through that I received peace. God dealt with me about forgiving that man, and it wasn't until I was able to forgive him that true peace came to my soul.
Lessons learned don't always stay learned. As life goes on new conflicts can and do arise. Soon we are back where we were before; harboring ill will and unforgivingness in our hearts. The unforgivingness hurts us more than those we don't forgive. Today, the Lord's prayer brought this back into focus and made me realize that I have some work to do. My prayer is to make me a forgiving person. To do that I know I need to walk closer to God.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Wall Street Journal posted and article today entitles "The End of Easy Oil." If this article is factual, which I believe it is, it means that there will soon be a new energy crisis in our world.
Saudi Arabia has long been the largest oil producing nation in the world. It produces easy to access light crude which is also the easiest oil to refine. They are running out of this easy access and easy refining oil. They now must drill deeper for heavier crude. This will not only slow down the daily barrel production, but will also cost more to produce. This may be good news for drilling companies, but will be bad news at the gas pump.
Auto manufacturers would do well to increase the production of hybrids, and alternate fuel cars. Although there has been a temporary cutback in the use of gasoline due to the high price, this will, indeed, be temporary. More and more of the third world are now driving cars, using electricity, and putting higher demands on energy.
A higher demand on oil, with higher costs to produce a lower quality of crude, will certainly mean we will pay more at the pump. I desperately need a full sized pickup truck that gets 40 mpg. It already costs me $90 to fill it. What will that be two years from now? :-(
Monday, May 16, 2011
As Christians, God has given us the responsibility to stay tuned in to the needs of others. I have to admit that I have grossly missed the mark in this area. My primary concern in life has been for me and mine. I have seldom looked beyond that.
Yes, I have done some of the nominal things that Christians should do. I have gone on missions trips to help repair church facilities. I have given to missions. I have prepared a few Disaster Care Kits to help those in Crises. But all of these things have fallen within my comfort zone, and I have not done nearly enough. I would say that I am the typical Christian going to the typical church. I have always assigned the things I don't like to do to someone else. I haven't really been tuned in.
I have a niece, who was adopted as a baby by my brother and his wife about twelve years ago. Little did they know when they adopted her that she was autistic. She appeared normal until they realized that she was not doing things that normal children should be doing. Rachel looks like any other normal kid and has the same desires as your kids and mine (my grandchildren). But her disease has greatly hindered her social development. She does not know how to related to others, carry on a conversation, and be a friend. The yearning of her heart, though is to have friends, even if it is just one friend. This is a tall order because the friend would have to realize that Rachel does not have the ability to be a friend in the mutual sense. This means that they may have to give themselves to her in such a way that she cannot give back.
In addition to her autism and related to her autism are a host of physical problems that most kids will never experience. She is in constant pain and has issues that the medical community has not been able to resolve.
Rachel is a person. I believe that God loves her very much. He is no respecter of persons and there is a purpose for her life. I cannot even venture to say what that purpose is. But she has pretty much fallen through the cracks of society. She is lonesome and has no friends. Society, her family (me), and her church have not tuned into her. And she is not alone in this. There are other kids a lot like her who are very alone.
I am being awakened by her need. I believe churches and Christians everywhere need to be awakened. But not only awakened but stirred to action. Not only because God commands us to do so.... but because we genuinely care. One out of every 150 babies born are now autistic. There will be more and more Rachels in this world. As Christians, Churches, other organizations, and as decent human beings, what are we going to do about it?
I know that I can't become Rachel's age and become the type of friend she needs. But I will pray for her until such a friend is found. If God can speak to us as adults, He can also speak to our children and give them wisdom and understanding. Being a friend may be the best ministry they will ever perform.
My purpose in this blog is not to shame us (although I feel ashamed). It is not to condemn us or the church. My purpose is to make us aware of this acute need, and to stir us to open our hearts to allow the Holy Spirit speak to us. Then, as we listen to God, we take action.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
This morning I am sitting on my back deck and all seems right.... at least for the moment. The sun is shining, 60 degrees, the birds are singing, and the setting is beautiful. Even the coffee is good this morning. Peace and tranquillity are the dominating factors. I'm even sitting in a position where I cannot see the tree that is dying..... our expensive tree. We don't have the heart ot cut it down yet.
That tree is a lot like me, though. Over the past year or so it seemed that a slow death was gripping my soul. The life was going out of me. The days were becoming a drudgery. Events were happening in my life and work that were shaking my faith to its very foundation. I actually began to question the existence of God. And if God did exist, did He really care about me.
Then I read the book of Job and saw the woes that he went through. Trials came to him, not because God did not care, but because God did care, and Job was able to prove himself in the most dire circumstances in life. He lost most of his wealth, He lost his health. He lost his family except his wife who told him he should curse God and die. He did not lose his friends, but they contended with him trying to convince him he did some great wrong and therefore this was God's judgement. Although he could not see Satan, Satan had stripped his life of all that is good. Yet, in all that Job did not sin and curse God.
We know the story of how once the trial had passed, God blessed Job once again. Job became not only richer in wealth, but especially richer in his relationship with God.
Well, although Job did nothing to bring on his calamities I cannot say the same of myself. There were poor choices, acts of rebellion, stupidity, and yes.... sinful thinking. Loneliness, anger, fear, frustration, and futility invaded my soul.
It reminded me of the time I was in Hawaii swimming in the ocean. I had noticed that shore was getting further away so I decided to swim directly toward shore. After a few moments I looked toward shore again and discovered that it was even further away. The current was moving faster than I was swimming. It took a great deal of energy. I swam harder than I had ever swam before to get back to shore. Finally I was able to ride a large wave into the beach.
I believe that I was caught in a negative current of life that was carrying me out to sea where I would eventually perish. A couple of weeks ago I sought God for help, confessed my sins, and asked God to take control. Life has not been perfect since then, but the shore line seems a lot closer. Then I read the Book of Job, and although not uplifting, it helped me to understand God's love and how He can guide us through trials in life. It also pointed out to me the importance of being faithful to God, even during the bad times of life. I think I am about to reach the crest of the wave that will carry me safely into shore.
This morning, instead of a troubled heart, there is peace and tranquillity. Instead of trying to hide from God I am trying to be open with Him. Instead of covering my sins I am finding that His love covers a multitude of sins. Instead of dealing with the guilt of my past, I find that He removes my sins from me as far as the east is from the west, and He remembers them no more.
And to my wife, who has endured these trials with me and has been a great example to me with her faithfulness to God, even during the worst trials of her life: I thank you, I admire you, and I love you. You are the greatest gift God has ever given to me and I will cherish that the rest of my days.
It just might be time to cut that dying tree down and plant a new one that has life!
Now, would someone please pour me a fresh cup of coffee while I sit here and listen to the robins chirp? :)
Friday, May 6, 2011
With recent world events I am convinced that our planet is getting closer to Armageddon. In the Middle East, among Arab nations, there is a real shift taking place. As their revolutions are taking place and some of these nations are overthrowing their governments, the United States has had to choose whose side they are on. We have put pressure on existing governments to give in to the will of the people. This has meant turning our backs on existing Arab governments, who happened to be our allies.
Lest you think I am critical of the Obama administration, I am not. I don't think there was a right or wrong decision as far at the US well being is concerned. Supporting the revolutionaries, who want freedom and democracy is a right decision. However, it has resulted in alienation of existing Arab leaders, who have been our allies. We, must remember that not all of these revolutions will be successful and that will leave us on the wrong side of those who are in power. And, too, some of the revolutions that are successful will not be, in the end, allies of the United States. We already see signs of this happening in Egypt.
It is my opinion, that in the end, we will have very few Arab allies. In large part because of what is mentioned above, but there are other contributing factors as well. Our friendship with Israel is a stumbling block, although it is the right thing to do. Our war on terror is also a stumbling block. Arab nations say they are against terror while they have camps training terrorists. Killing Bin Ladin, their hero in terrorism will cause Arabs to secretly seethe. Pakistan knowingly harbored him while saying they were looking for him.
Last, but most important, in the last times Arab nations will unite against Israel. Those supporting Israel will not be allies of the Arabs. The USA will have a choice to make.