Robust Words and Anemic Chatter

Information word cloudLast week I went to the VA hospital for my annual checkup. I’ve been there enough to know the routine, so when the nurse called my name I walked down the hall and stepped on the scales. The nurse said, “Weight!” I replied: “Ok.” Then she said, “Weight! Weight!” I replied: “I’m on the scales are you wanting to check my weight or are you wanting me to wait while you check on something?”

This incident was interesting for a couple of reasons. First the nurse made the assumption that the message she sent was the message I received. From my understanding of her instructions, I thought I was being compliant; however, from her perspective I was being obstinate.

When the nurse was speaking to me, she made the all too common mistake of thinking that information and communication are one and the same. We can give a person some information; however, if the information is not understood, there is no communication.

The effectiveness of communication is enhanced when a person’s words are congruent with his actions. I think this is what Stephen Covey meant when he said: “In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”

Consistent character benefits clear communication, and James speaks of this in connection to faith and works:

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, ‘Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department.’ Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove” ~The Message James 2:14-18

Do the words of your life and the actions of your life fit together “hand in glove,” or are they as mismatched and pair-less as two left-handed gloves?

If Right is Wrong, What’s Left?

bootsHis name was Gibson. I’m convinced the G-man knew the difference between right and wrong; however, his right always seemed to be wrong.

When you’re marching in Boot Camp and your right is wrong that means you left is in error and you’re about to experience terror. Drill Sergeants do not like men who cannot distinguish their lefty from their righty!

Something else about Drill Sergeants, they lack comprehension when it comes to the concepts of grace and mercy. While they have little knowledge of these, you’ll quickly discover they are well-schooled in justice and judgment if you step out with the wrong foot.

As you walk through the remaining days of this week, here are some principles to consider. They will help you stay in step with the Lord:

• Psalm 37:23-24: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
• Psalm 119:35: Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.
• Proverbs 13:20: He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.
• Proverbs 20:24: A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?
• John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
• Romans 8:4: do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
• Ephesians 2:10: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
• Ephesians 4:1: walk worthy of the calling with which you were called
• 3 John 1:4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

And, the prophet Isaiah tells us why it is important to be in step with God: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint (40:31).”

Moon Walks and Mothers

dep276Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

This was a time in our nation’s history when the price of bread was 9 cents a loaf, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and a movie ticket was 35 cents.

On Friday, June 20th, about half way through 1930, Buzz Aldrin was born. When he was born, the idea of space flight was just science fiction; however, Aldrin would join Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; and, they would be the first two people to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin wasn’t the only person born on June 20, 1930. A baby girl, who would never experience his fame and notoriety, was also born. Her family had little money but a lot of love. Her fragile world was shattered a few years later when her mother died. She quit school in the 8th grade because her dad needed her to help work the fields—the fields of a farm he would be forced to sell.

As a young lady, she married, but heartache found her again. At the age of 35 she became a widow when her husband was killed on the job, and she was left with three young sons. A short time later she married again. Five children came with her new husband. His 5 and her 3 made for an interesting life that could be as harried as it was happy.

Then it happened again—one of their children died an untimely death. Her family would adjust to the loss and she and her husband would lean heavily on each other as they moved forward as a cohesive couple. The two of them retired, traveled, and grew old together.

When her second husband died, the truth was exposed: She was weaker than any of her family knew. Her cognitive skills were becoming cobwebs; Her sense of direction failed her; and, she was often lost.

On Monday of last week, my siblings and I had to stand toe-to-toe with the toughest woman we’ve ever known and break the news: “Mom, you can’t live by yourself any longer—we’re moving you into assisted living.”

Mom’s independent spirit has served her well for most of her life. She kept going and remained positive when she had every right to be negative and quit. It’s that same spirit that keeps saying: “I’m not staying here. I’m going home.” But with the next sentence, it’s very clear that Alzheimer’s has a befuddling grip on her once vibrant mind and spirit.

Buzz Aldrin may have walked on the moon, but he stands in the shadow of my mother, Evelyn Lou Lacy–the girl who was also born June 20, 1930. She’s been a loving and loyal daughter, a faithful wife to two fortunate men, and a sometimes fearsome force who molded the life of her children.

“Mom, we love you and we’re praying for you.”

Are You A Knot Head?

I can remember my dad referring to someone as a knot head. That was Dad’s way of saying the person in question wasn’t the smartest person around.

God doesn’t want you to be a knot head, but He does want you to be a not- head. Notice Solomon’s principles from the book of Proverbs:

• Proverbs 3:3: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.
• Proverbs 3:5–6: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
• Proverbs 20:13: Love not sleep (Be industrious!)
• Proverbs 23:4: Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.(The love of money and rank consumerism will get you into trouble

Apply these 4 principles to your life, and become a not-head for God.

Top 10 Tidbits for Thursday

As I was going from room to room in Mom’s house in search of some misplaced item, I noticed her many flashlights. When I noticed them, I was reminded of how comforting and reassuring light can be in the middle of the night or during a storm.

The light of the Lord’s presence is also a great comfort. Light is not something that God has, light is who God is. John wrote that, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”

While God “is light,” He is much more. Think about the following tidbits from the Psalms that help to define God:

• Ps 18:30: As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
• Ps. 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
• Ps. 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble
• Ps. 46:11: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress
• Ps. 48:14: God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end
• Ps 54:14: Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me
• Ps. 68:20: Our God is a God who saves
• Ps. 73:26: God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
• Ps. 84:11: God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor
• Ps. 116:15: The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

And, because God is all of this, we should: “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, and extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him— his name is the Lord (Ps. 68:4).”

The Lord is My Rock

There are times in life when doing the right thing thing seems so wrong, and choosing to do nothing would be so much easier. When I need the strength to stay the course, I know can find comfort in the Psalms.

Psalm 18 is my rock and fortress for today: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.”

Due to my schedule this week, this post will be short and posts for the remainder of the week might be sporadic.

Hidden Beauty

061229_Liberty_Head_nickelWith the recent volatility of the stock market, and all of its ups and downs, I discovered an interesting story while studying finances.

Even though the prices of both gold and silver have fallen over the last year, the price of a particular group of nickels has not declined in value. This 5 cent group of 1913 Liberty Head “V” nickels have held their value because only five of them exist.

George Walton owned one of these nickles, and his was sold by Heritage Auctions in April 2013 for a then-record $3.1 million. Walton had purchased his nickle in 1945 for $3,750. Convinced that he had just purchased a rare treasure, Walton had the coin appraised; however, the nickel was rejected as a fake.

Walton still saw the beauty and the value in the coin, so he kept it in his coin collection. About 20 years later, Walton was on the way to a coin show, but was killed when his car was struck by a drunk driver.

In 2003, a family member took the coin to the 2003 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, where experts authenticated it as 1 of only 5 of the rare nickels known to exist. In 2013, Walton’s 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickel sold for $3.1 million.

Some people spend their lives in a currency of criticism. They never see the silver lining in any cloud. Instead of seeing beauty marks, they see every wrinkle on a person’s face. Their life is a constant focus on the negative instead of the positive.

Then, there are the George Waltons of the world. They see the beauty that no one else sees, and they embrace a value that is cheapened by their peers. Instead of being consumed by the darkness of negativity, they find the light and walk in it.

When you look at your family and friends, what do you see: A bunch of plugged nickels or 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickels that are worth millions?

God or No God?

God Showing Religion Prayer Spirit Worship And FaithA topic of discussion that continues to make headlines is the God versus atheism debate. This emotionally charged discussion appears a little more often around the holidays, and it is frequently laced with disparaging language that attacks religion.

In considering the anti-God attacks and the motivation behind it, Dinesh D’Souza has said: “One reason I think is that they are God-haters. Atheists often like to portray themselves as “unbelievers” but this is not strictly accurate. If they were mere unbelievers they would simply live their lives as if God did not exist. I don’t believe in unicorns, but then I haven’t written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion. Clearly the atheists go beyond disbelief; they are on the warpath against God. And you can hear their bitterness not only in their book titles but also in their mean-spirited invective.”

What is it about the Faith that fries the faithless counterparts of Christianity? I mean, is wishing someone a ”Happy Easter” or a “Merry Christmas” really demeaning to anyone? When you live in a pluralistic society with a diversity of religions, how can you not expect to meet someone who has a worldview that is different from yours?

I’ve had Jews wish me a “Merry Christmas,” and I’ve been caught in an elevator with giggling Jewish girls celebrating a bat mitzvah. I didn’t chastise the girls and scream at them demanding silence. I smiled and spoke to them about the significance of their coming of age observance. My courtesy was no endorsement of their worldview; however, it did leave the door open for discussion.

The target of the anti-God attacks seems to have Christianity in the cross hairs. Why is this? Why don’t they also mount an assault against Hinduism or Buddhism? If atheists are really genuine, why don’t they attack Islam or take their protests to Iran? Where is their zeal and fervor when it comes to Muhammad and the Quran? Where are the slanderous and mean-spirited verbal attacks? Is this silence cowardice or a lack of conviction?

What do they find so threatening about Christianity? The Faith does not require self-mutilation, and it does not reflect a radical anti-social behavior. As a rule of thumb, Christians do not blow up buildings, or hijack airliners and fly them into buildings. The opposite is true: The Christian Faith calls it adherents to a life of service and to embrace the golden rule: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Here is one of the beautiful things about the freedoms we enjoy in the USA: People can spend money, and launch an ad campaign to tell everyone they don’t believe in God, or anything else. The real joy and absolute greatness of the USA is they are not incarcerated or executed for doing so.

As a worldview, I think atheism is empty and without hope, and I know that most atheists think religion is for the weak and intellectually lazy. I also know it is possible to have friends who are atheists. I do, and we have some engaging conversations, remain friends, and respect each other.

I’ll leave you with a question: Is the quality of an argument strengthened by slander and shouting or by respect and sound reasoning?

Easter’s Dream

Fantasy SunsetWhen a dream dies, revisit it–there may be a chance it can be resurrected!

Two women went to the tomb to revisit their dead dream, but He was not there–He had risen to new life. Read the account of this incident as recorded in Matthew 28:

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[a] and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

Celebrate the hope of Easter tomorrow. The worship services at First Christian will be at 8:30 and 10:30. Stop by the corner of Central and Star (300 W Central) in El Dorado and join us.

TGIF

good_friday_1000004443-120613intToday is Friday, and across the nation people write or shout TGIF—Thank God It’s Friday. An ordinary Friday comes once every 7 days, but this extraordinary Friday comes just once a year. The story of this Friday began in the Garden of Eden and the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

The moment Adam broke the rules established by God, he ran from his Creator. Before Adam was even out of breath, God began pursuing him; and, this was a game of hide and seek that Adam wasn’t going to win.
While Adam and Eve hid in fear, God pursued them in His mercy. Freshly embarrassed by his awakened conscious and bare body, Adam tried to cover himself with fig leaves, but this wouldn’t do. God extended His grace and clothed the first couple with animal skins.

The very first ounce of blood that was spilled on creation in its infancy was by the eternal hand of our holy God. He did not withhold His grace because of their sin; instead, grace was given in spite of their sin. Years later, Paul wrote: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because Adam and Eve had sinned innocent animals (probably sheep) had to die.

Year after year, the significance of this day was hidden in shadows and symbolism until about 33 A.D.—Good Friday. This day was announced 3 years in advance by John the Baptist when he said: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Today is the Friday that we remember His death, and this Sunday will be the day we celebrate the resurrection and the hope of Easter.

Yes, TGIF is an appropriate expression for today.