A Heavy Mettle Discussion

867bfc01-5e47-4d5f-a8e9-9a3d2f48f421_zps40643497I heard the sad story of a man who died recently. He had crawled under a house to steal the copper wiring and was electrocuted.

This is sad for a couple of reasons:

  • Copper prices are at historic lows, and this man lost his precious life trying to take something so cheap.
  • His attempt to steal was evidence of a steel less and easily tempted character

This copper incident reminds me of the judgment discussion that Paul had with the Christians at Corinth:

“You are God’s building.  As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.  After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ.  People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done.  If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward.  If his work is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.”               ~I Corinthians 3:9-15

In the verses above Paul offers a  Double M Lesson:

  • The first M is Metal or the gold and silver.
  • The second M is Meddle or the wood, hay, and straw.
  • Paul uses these objects to frame his argument in the context of a quality of life versus a quantity of life perspective.

The metal and meddle aspects of your life will be judged by fire which “will determine what kind of work each person has done.”  The difference between your metal and meddle may be your mettle or the manner in which you confront the challenges of life and faithfully persevere.

When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he engaged in a little heavy mettle discussion:  “When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.”  ~2 Timothy 2:3-5

I encourage you to do what Paul admonished Timothy to do in the verses above:  “Think it over.”

The Nasty Secret of Bloodshot Eyes

article-2358570-1A9F7641000005DC-522_634x378It’s enough to make you cry!   You know what I mean . . the stinging sensation when your eyes began to burn after jumping into a swimming pool. Up to this point, you may have attributed the red eyes and stinging to chlorine in the water. I hate to be the one who breaks the news to you, but chlorine isn’t the chemical culprit:  It’s urine.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that when pool goers go in the pool, the urine binds with the chlorine and produces chloramine.  Not only is chloramine an eye irritant, it is also a derivative of ammonia that can cause respiratory problems among some swimmers.

If you find the thought of little tykes tinkling in the pool a bit disgusting, think about your stream of sins from God’s perspective.  Jesus said, “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution (Mark 7:20-23 from The Message).”

Are the habits that define you ones of pollution or purity?  Are they mortifying to God or glorifying to Him?  I encourage you to live a life that glorifies God by clothing yourself “with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).”

Judge Scalia and Jiggery-Pokery

scalia2According to Justice Antonin Scalia, the decision of the Supreme Court to allow health care subsidies nationwide is nothing less than “jiggery-pokery.”

After a little research, I’ve learned that jiggery-pokery is associated with the dishonest manipulation of the truth.  This is what Justice Scalia felt the majority of his fellow judges had done when they twisted the truth and skillfully sidestepped it by misinterpreting the words of the law.

Paul gave a jiggery-pokery warning to Christians in several different churches.  He alerted them to the danger of being deceived by “persuasive words, fine sounding arguments, and those who change the truth into a lie.”

Recognizing the truth in a world filled with deceit can be difficult.  This is why we need to heed the words of Paul:  “Do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth.”

Falling In The Fallout Shelter

IMG_0547 (1)They’ve hung there for over 50 years, and they’ve become so commonplace that they are hardly noticed.  For some reason though, my eyes focused on the FALLOUT SHELTER sign when I entered the church yesterday.

During the 50’s and 60’s, shelters of this kind were stocked with crackers, candy and water to sustain people if their fears of a nuclear holocaust became a reality.  In some districts, public schools would have practice drills, so the students would know what to do in case of an attack.

As an adult, I realize that the viability of some structures was more than just questionable.  There is, however, a shelter is that is much more reliable, and it is found in Psalm 91:4:  “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge. His truth is your shield and armor.”

Whenever I read this Psalm and think of being covered with “his feathers,” I’m reminded of the protective behavior of a pigeon that is sitting on a nest of eggs.  My brothers and I raised pigeons when we were kids, and our curious hands were spanked more than once by a hen who was protecting her squabs.

God does the same for us:  He covers us with His feathers; hides us under His wings; and, He is our refuge, truth, and shield of armor.  This is the same God who said He would never leave or forsake you.

When trouble comes your way, you can be confident that God is your fallout shelter or refuge.  You can fall in to his nest of care by using Psalm 57:1 as a prayer to God:

Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in You.

I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings until danger passes.

The Man With The Better Idea

thomas-edisonI have always been amazed at the brilliant and inventive mind of Thomas Edison.   During his lifetime, Edison developed many devices including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and his discoveries were the prototype of the modern day power grid.

To offer some insight into the mind of Edison, I have selected five simple but intriguing quotes that are credited to this wonderful man:

  • The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.
  • The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.
  • I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator.

In 1914, Edison’s factory burned to the ground destroying his one-of-a-kind prototypes.  Edison’s response to the catastrophe revealed his character: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”

This remarkable statement by Edison, reminds me of Paul’s assessment of his life.  Notice the value he places on what he lost and what he gained, and how he contrasts the earthly and the eternal:  “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.  More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”

What do you value most, the earthly or the eternal?  Paul said: ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

My Friend and Co-Laborer For Christ

It took him somewhere around 3,000 days to do it, but Sean turned in his keys on Sunday.  He, Susan and their three girls are moving to Minnesota.

SeanI’m not sure how many different kids Sean ministered to in the eight years he has been the youth director at First Christian.  I do know that he helped many of them come to know Christ as their Savior and that he encouraged them in their walk with the Lord.

Sean, Susan, and girls, I wish you the best as you begin a new chapter in your life.  I appreciate all you have done during your ministry in El Dorado.

God Bless You!

Stan

A Tribute to Mom

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One year ago today, I walked into my mother’s room and said:  “Mom, today is your birthday.  Do you know how old you are?”  She thought for a moment and said:  “No Stan, I don’t think I do.”  “You’re 101,” I said.  My statement revived her spunky and independent spirit, and she informed me that, “I might not know how old I am, but I know I’m not 101!” 

Mom died about a month later form the ravages of Alzheimers. Since Mom today is her birthday, I’m re-posting this blog as a tribute to her. . .

Times 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. At the time of his birth, 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 later 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.

Thanks for reading this tribute from a 62 year old orphan who misses his mother on her birthday.

Simply and Complexly Marvelous

Beauty-of-NatureIf you want to spice up a conversation, bring either religion or politics into the discussion.  There are many diverse opinions on both subjects, and the topic of creation can stir the pot among both the believers and skeptics.

Some people believe in a random Big Bang form of creation, others espouse a view known as intelligent design, and then there are those who embrace the Genesis account of creation.

I find it hard to look at the intricate design of the world and believe it just happened by chance.  In Psalm 9, David writes:  “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

When was the last time you paused and reflected on the “marvelous works” of God?  What would a flower be without its fragrance?  How dark would the night skies be without the light of the moon and stars?  How different would birds be if they were drab in color and whistled and sang out of tune?

The sunrise, the sunset, and the rainbow are the canvas on which the Master Artist paints in vivid colors, and the day would be much different if it began and ended in a colorless brown instead of  fire-red hues.  Speaking of fire, what would fire be without its warmth on a cold night or water without its refreshing coolness?

How about food?  What would chili be like if there was no spice or a breakfast roll without cinnamon?  And, it’s almost too painful to consider a world without ice cream!

How mundane would life be without this complicated, yet marvelous thing we call love?  Isn’t love the WOW factor in everything that God created?

When you read the book of Genesis, you see God at work.  After He had spoken the physical world into existence, God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life.  Next in line was the creation of the animal kingdom, but God wasn’t finished until He created woman.

Adam thought he had seen it all, but then he saw Eve.  To Adam she saw the marvelous WOW-inducing work of God

Take sometime this week, to marvel at the works of God, and the way He has blessed you.

Is Left Ever Right?

IMG_0530 (1)Have you noticed that some cities seem to be in a perpetual state of ruin?  You know the cities I’m thinking of, the ones that seem to take pride in roads lined with bright orange traffic cones:  As far as the eye can see, they dot the highway and try to guide you safely down the road.

A day or two ago, I was driving through an intersection laced with orange cones and concrete barriers, and I got a little nervous. It looked like I was being directed into the oncoming lane of traffic.  For a moment I thought the engineer had been imported from England and he had brought his, drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road, mentality with him.

This experience reminds me of the message on a sign:  “One Way or Another.”  The sober truth is that  when you die, you will go one way or another.

The good news is that there is a road map to lead you through the detours and confusing  intersections of life.  Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  If you will make the right turn and follow Jesus, you will never get left by Him.

When Lions Devour Lambs

misconductThe number is 225, and it involves a group of people in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti.  While a large portion of Haiti is known more for its poverty than anything else, one segment has seen even more oppression and suffering.

A United Nations peacekeeping mission has been accused of sexual misconduct in a scheme that involved the sexual exploitation of 225 Haitian women.  Their sex for shoes shenanigans has robbed these women of the peace they had hoped for, and it throttled their trust in the economic promises of the United Nations.

No one should engage in any form of sexual exploitation or sex trafficking, and this is especially true for a high profile agency like the United Nations.  When abused by those you trust the most, the sanctity of your soul is violated, and you are left empty and hollow.

  • Over 600,000 women and children are bought and sold, across international borders, every year and exploited for forced labor and sex.
  • In the USA alone, multiple thousands of kids under 18 years of age are lured into the sex industry every year.
  • Human trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry.

Any time anyone looks at pornography on a computer or buys a sexually explicit magazine, he is supporting this industry and he is exhibiting despicable and demeaning behavior.  Lust is no companion of pure love, and the two are at the opposite ends of the emotional continuum.

What can you do to help stem the rising tide of moral degradation?  You can get involved with groups like Love 146 and Samaritan’s Purse.  You can also answer the call of Jesus to share His peace with the oppressed:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God  (Matthew 5:9).”