Monthly Archives: August 2018

Aug 2018
Love of Money

I distinctly remember this particular Sunday morning when I was either 12 or 13 years old. Something seemed different as there seemed to be an odd feeling to the service. I then remember when the service was over going out to the car and seeing my mom crying. I don’t remember when exactly the story was relayed to me but I do remember learning in short order that things were never going to be the same at my childhood church. Our pastor had been found to be siphoning money off of the church’s account and into his own. How he had done that I don’t know but the proof was beyond dispute.
How could something like that happen? Our reading today sheds some light on this all-too-common issue. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
The love of money and the things it offers has been an issue as long as humans have been on this earth. Whether it’s the desire to have a lot of money to spend on elaborate vacations and expensive toys or the desire to save it all and enjoy the security that it brings sitting in our bank accounts, it is a temptation that many of us face. However, Paul warns in these verses about the trouble that yielding to this temptation brings. Phrases such as “foolish and harmful lusts” which “drown men in destruction” and the prospect of being “pierced with many sorrows”.
The answer to this type of sin is spelled out for us in verse 8. “And having food and rainment let us be therewith content.” That’s it, contentment. That doesn’t mean we don’t look for opportunities to better ourselves financially but at the same time we should strive to be content with the things God has blessed us with, even if they may be just the basic material things of this life. And if we have that attitude we will save ourselves from the consequences of a materialistic and greedy mindset.

Aug 2018
Hear More, Speak Less
My mom was a philosopher. I didn’t realize it while I was growing up, but she would quote ancient Greek philosophers during my rearing. I never knew she was such an avid pupil of Epictetus and Zeno, but when she must have been when she told me, “You have two hears and one mouth; hear more, speak less.”
Honestly, my mom probably never heard of Epictetus or Zeno, but then the value of hearing did not originate with them. Scan through Proverbs 18 for “receptor” words like seek, discover, and getteth. Someone who applies themselves to wisdom before speaking fairs much better in their relationships. Then you see the fool seems to run aground repeatedly because of their blundering tendency to speak before thinking. “A fool hath no delight in understanding…[His] mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul…He that answereth a matter before he hearth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:2, 7, 13).
One of the things I love about our church’s location is the gentle stream behind the church. The pleasant, bubbly flow of the stream refreshes my ears which are so connected to the artificial sounds technology generates. Think of the contrast in our social environment. You can silence the noise of life through the powerful words of wisdom which are “as a flowing brook” (Proverbs 18:4).
Excluding some of the torrential storms, the stream is a constant, steady force which cuts a path through the earth. The fool rushes in, but the wise exercise strategic patience. In time, the wealth of wisdom will return a great dividend. This is a necessary reminder for me. I hope it encourages you as well.

Aug 2018
Join the Choir

Upon reading the Bible this morning, I came upon verse 12 of Psalm 96, “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.” I was reminded of a song we used to sing in Bible Camp. It is entitled, “When the Trees of the Wood Will Clap Their Hands.” As we sung this kid’s favorite, all would clap their hands at that part and sing out loudly. Being one of the adults there, I would wonder about trees clapping their hands-literally. Surely, I saw trees on the “Yellow Brick Road” engage humans in speech; however, this is not a fictional movie! But I did my share of wondering in awe.

So, do trees clap, the sea roar, do floods clap and hills rejoice (Ps. 98:8)? My answer is simply-yes. An inquisitive person would ask if I have ever seen or heard trees clap. I have heard mighty rushing winds that sounded like voices (another language only the Creator knows?). I have seen endless wheat fields sway back and forth, in the wind, as if dancing in the presence of the Almighty. Who could forget the majesty of the Tetons? Many a morning the alpenglow was glorious, as sunrise approached, giving the viewer a quick peak at God’s palette. There was no detectable sound, yet I knew there was praise taking place and it caused me to praise God too. What about the Grand Canyon? Nowadays folk gather there to discuss what millions of years have done to create it. Hogwash. Time was not the sculptor of this wonder, but a Holy God who either spoke it into existence or used a finger to etch it so. “I stand amazed in the presence…”

So, the verdict? Some say these verses are metaphorical, but not I. If God’s Word says these things, why couldn’t they be literal? Why do humans think they have to rationalize everything? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rm. 11:33). Everything was created to praise God in one way or another, but humans have a choice; that sadly, not all exercise. From the early morning robin, to a rock on the ground (Lu. 19:40), to a hoot owl at night, to the clapping tree and even the stars (Job 38:7) these are all part of God’s choir. We have but a powerful lesson to learn from these things. We possess the wherewithal and knowledge yet we balk. Theologian Karl Barth summed this up beautifully when he wrote, “When man accepts…Jesus Christ…he is only like a late-comer slipping shamefacedly into creation’s choir in heaven and earth, which has never ceased its praise.”

Aug 2018
The Story Continues

The book of Chronicles begins and you probably wonder when the names will stop. Imagine looking through a photo album, but not of your family. It is your neighbor’s or your friend’s album. Maybe you recognize a few faces because you grew up together, but that is the extent of your familiarity. In Chronicles, you are looking through someone else’s photo album. Each name contains a story. There are stories of celebration and distress, of wickedness and righteousness, of renown and obscurity.
Keep in mind the author’s intent. He was not writing a cure for insomnia. A few decades earlier, the Jews returned to Jerusalem after spending a few decades in exile. The promises of God were fulfilled. He did bring them back to Israel, which meant His other promises were also possible. The promise of a perfectly just ruler in Jerusalem from the line of David who would reign with unrivaled righteousness. All the nations of the earth would flood into Jerusalem to worship Him. The Messiah would sit on the throne. This chronicler is simply stimulating the hope of Israel.
By replaying all the known history via a catalog of names, the reader is to quickly refresh his memory of God’s work in times past. The accounts of King David and his sons build the anticipation. The King is coming! In the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles is the last book. Can you appreciate the Jews excitement as you turn the last page of Chronicles and live out the incredible arrival of the Messiah in the Gospel accounts? The memories are fresh, the promise reviewed, the nation waits with bated breath as the forerunner announces the Messiah’s arrival. Can you also grasp their devastation as their Prince of Peace was not sitting on a throne, but hanging on a cross? The story continues. Just as the chronicler wrote, the future is bright because the promises of God are still alive and well. Get ready to herald the King’s entrance!
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13).

Aug 2018
Getting in Line
As a teacher begins a new school year, some of the most important lessons of the year come during the first week. No, for the most part, it does not have much to do with the “three R’s” of education. However, these vital points of instruction actually make or break the classes educational quality. What are these most important points of education? They teach the young ones how to walk in line. At first glance, you probably doubt the importance of these points of procedure, but do not be fooled. They surprisingly establish the environment for learning. Training the children’s basic deportment in the classroom and in transition around the school essentially conditions the atmosphere to eliminate all distractions and maximize the teaching potential. 
The Israelites are about to learn how to walk in a line, literally! They are going to learn how to sit at their desk…well, more like how to live in the camp, but the concept is the same. They have sat at the base of Mt. Sinai and learned how to worship God, now they will grow in their discipline as a nation while they learn to walk with God. They are a kindergartner of a nation, so God is going to show them how to walk and live. He will “whip them into shape” in order to eliminate all distractions and maximize their learning potential.
As you read through all the numbers and organization, consider your own life. Are there some distractions you could eliminate? Are there some extraneous activities that clutter your life so you can’t hear God clearly? Are you a little haphazard in the way you walk with God? Maybe you’re that kid who is lost in their own world and left behind in the lunch room? Or maybe you are the mischevious child always looking for a way to dash to the playground? Paul echoes the lesson of Numbers: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Is your life characterized by “order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5)? The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. They will engage the enemy and live in maturity! Their success or failure pivots on their awareness of God’s presence and protection. Their survival depends on their appreciation of God’s provision and patience.
All of this is learned in the wilderness. Get in line. Answer “here” to the roll call. Class is about to start!

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