The Treasure in Measure

25_powerlockI’m certain that I’ve seen and spoken the word “measure” thousands of times in my life, and I’ve read Romans 12:3 many hundreds of times.  When I read it again a moment ago I noticed something different. I saw the three words found in measureme-a-sure.

 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. ~Romans 12:3

While me-a-sure has nothing to do with the meaning of measure or the theological significance of Romans 12:3, me-a-sure motivated me to think of the things that I can be sure of knowing, like:

  • Eternal Life: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (I John 5:13).
  • The Truth: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
  • The Good Shepherd: I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own (John 10:14).
  • The Hope: I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints (Ephesians 1:18).
  • The Love of Jesus: You may know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul said there was one thing he was sure of, and it was the need to forget the things that were behind him and to focus on the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:14).”

How does your relationship with God measure-up?  How have you been reassured in times of trials and heartache?  How has your confidence in God been strengthened?  I’d like to know, so share a comment or two with me.

Fashionista or Functionalist

home-juradoNo one has ever accused me of being a fashionista.  I’ve always preferred blue jeans over a three-piece suit; and, instead of wearing patent leather wingtips, I’d rather wear tennis shoes or boots.

This is why you might find it surprising that I took some interest in a fashion slide show: What People Were Wearing the Year You Were Born is geared more to women than it is to me, and it gives a visual history of what has been in style for the last 100 years.

While I do have my Sunday-go-to-meeting-clothes, I also have different sets of clothing that I wear depending on the occasion.  Instead of being a fashionista, I guess I’m a functionalist.  I don’t wear my Muck boots to church, but they’re sure handy when the snow is a foot deep and the temperatures are sub-zero.

When I read the bible, I think Paul was also a functionalist.  Instead of being worried about the fashion and style of his day, he instructed his cohorts to dress for the occasion:

In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray (Ephesians 6 ~JB Phillips).

When he wrote to the Colossians, Paul spoke of functional clothing for the Christian life:

Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:12-13).

Before you leave your house today, you might want to look into the mirror to see if your clothing is fitting for your agenda:

The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness (James 1:22-25 ~JB Phillips)

Oniomania:  It’s That Time of Year

Planting-Onions-1861281I remember the first time I saw oniomania in print.  My eyes read the word as ras onion-mania, and my brain processed it as a strong desire related to onions.

My confusion was the result of the partnership that exists between the eyes and brain in which they work together to interpret conflicting signals from the outside world. Even though it may not be reality, we see whatever our brains think we should.

Because the brain processes an immense amount of information as fast as it can, it uses any available shortcuts. According to Stuart Anstis, a vision researcher, the brain has “to find a minimum hypothesis to cover a maximum amount of data.”

When my eyes saw the onio prefix of oniomania, my brain took the shortcut of associating onio with onion.  This is the difference between perception and reality or feelings and facts.

Oniomania is an uncontrollable desire to purchase things.  Onionmania, could be interpreted as an uncontrollable desire to eat, smell, use, or plant onions.  With the warming temperatures, I thought of my seasonal mania to buy plants, seeds, and fertilizer for my garden.

Are you an oniomaniac?  Are you controlled by an overwhelming desire to purchase the goods of this world and fail to invest in the world to come?  This was the mistake that was made by the fool who built on the shifting sand instead of the solid rock:

Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock.  Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!   ~Matthew 67:24-29

What is it that compels you and drives you during this season of your life?  Is it the need to fit in with the world and your group of peers, or to be fit for the world to come and to please the peerless—Jesus Christ?

 

Flapjacks For Firemen: Responding to a State of Emergency

barber wildfireThe raging wildfire that has devoured 72,000 acres of grass and farmland was the focus of an article I wrote last week.  That same fire is still burning this morning, and it has now consumed over 400,000 acres.

The snow that fell Easter Sunday has helped the fire-fighting efforts. Thanks to the hard work of firemen, ranchers, and volunteers from Kansas and the far corners of the USA, the fire is about 81% contained.

This fire has done much more than just burn grass, it has killed livestock, left houses in ash heaps, and zeroed the resources of many rural fire departments.  In an effort to respond to some of these needs, there will be a, Flapjacks for Firemen, benefit breakfast Saturday morning, April 2 from 8 to 10 in El Dorado, Kansas.

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To help respond to the needs of these first responders, you can attend the breakfast and make a donation, or you can give online or mail a donation to:

 

Flapjacks For Firemen

C/O First Christian Church

300 W Central

El Dorado, Kansas 670452

For more information, you can contact Stan at 316-321-2878.  Thanks for your help!

….Flapjacks for Firemen Updates will posted on Facebook ….

Boxing, Pampers, and Politics

trump-cruz-liar1Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself thinking about Jim Mc Donald.  Mac was a gym teacher and a coach at El Dorado High School.

Mac was also a man of practical wisdom, and he had the solution to any problem between hot-headed boys when their disputes got too heated and feisty—boxing gloves.

After a few punches were exchanged, and arms were quickly wearied, the arguments were ended.  None of these matches lasted very long, and I can’t remember anyone getting hurt too badly.

If I could find those gloves, I’d encourage Trump and Cruz to get them on and to get after it.  After a couple rounds of physically pummeling each other, maybe they’d be willing to start debating policy and quit demeaning partners.

I’m sick of hearing Ted whine about Donald’s comments about Heidi, and I’m equally tired of hearing Donald whimper because Ted has slighted Melani. Instead of discussing the weighty issues, Ted and Donald are being characterized by a pettiness that’s ridiculous.

Their nauseating narcissism and infantile behavior is casting a dark shadow on the hopes of the Republican Party, and its effort to elect the next president.

As an old sage once said: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common, they both need to be changed regularly—and for the same reason!”  The foul behavior of these men have left a rank odor in the air, and I think it’s time they make a change.

A Good Friday To Remember

Happy-Good-Friday-2016-CardToday is Good Friday, and it’s a day that I focus my thoughts on the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.  The essence of Good Friday and the hope of Easter is clearly stated in I Corinthians 15: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (3-4).”

In the death of Jesus, we see the innocent dying for the guilty.  Bill Crowder has said that “…death was not Jesus’ penalty; it was His destiny. It was not His lot in life; it was His mission. It was not His unavoidable fate; it was His purpose statement for coming to earth that first Christmas: ‘Born to die.'”

The crucifixion was an open display of the love of God for sinful man, and John Piper has commented: “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did.  At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift –the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

When Jesus spoke of His impending death, He would also speak of His resurrection.  In regard to His death and resurrection, Watchman Nee said, “Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”

On this most somber day of Christianity, I ask you: What is your history with Jesus, and what is your future without Him?

State of Emergency Declared: Heart of America Aflame

fdireSeveral years ago, Barber County, Kansas was home to me.  I lived in a spot in the road called Hazelton, and I was a frequent visitor of Anthony, Kiowa, and Medicine Lodge.  When I needed to stock up on groceries, I would drive to Alva, Oklahoma. Alva also had a tasty hamburger served at a café on the town square.

As I watched the news yesterday, I followed the raging prairie fire as it devoured rain-starved pastures and some 72,000 acres. I thought of my old friends in this rural pocket of Kansas, and I prayed for their safety and well-being.

The voracious appetite of a fire is a graphic illustration of some scripture found in James 3:6-10:

 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!         ~The Message

The words you speak are ripe with the potential to be either healing or harmful. 

Think about the way you have spoken to people this week:  Have your words beaten them down and left them battered and bruised, or have you use the gift of language to encourage, instruct, and build them up?

If your tongue is in need of taming, it might help to ponder the principles below:

  • Foolish words cut like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18)
  • Pleasing words are like honey. They are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)
  • A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin (Proverbs 26:28)
  • Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29 ~The Voice).

Give some thought to the brute strength of your words: They can be as devastating as they are delightful, and even though they may be forgiven, they’re rarely forgotten.

Will people remember you for your soothing words that helped them to heal, or for language that was so heated it left them scorched and scarred…like the fires that have swept across the Kansas prairies?

Awkward Gracefulness

duck---a-waddle-and-a-quack-a918While I was fishing a day or two ago, I startled a duck that was sleeping on a boat dock.  I smiled at its awkward waddle as it hurried down the ramp and into the lake.  I smiled again when I saw how fluid and graceful its movements became as soon as it entered the water.

God created waterfowl to be more at home on the water than on the land.  Like that duck, we’re also the creation of God.  Paul described God’s creative gifting in an interesting fashion.  Depending on which translation you read, the believer is described in Ephesians 2:10 as God’s workmanship (NKJV), masterpiece (NLT), or handiwork (NIV).

In The Voice, it says, “we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

God created you to be you and to be a masterpiece of His creative endeavors.  He has gifted you with the talents and abilities you need to accomplish His purpose.

When you live within the framework of His will, you are as graceful as a swan on a pristine pond of water; however, you’re as awkward and clumsy as a waddling duck when you reject the plans He has for you.

As Max Lucado said, “You are the only you God made… God made you and broke the mold.”  So, thank God for the uniquely magnificent manner in which He designed you and then dedicate yourself to sharing your gifts with the body of Christ.

Eudemonics: You Da’ Man!

You_Da_Man_Recordable_Greeting_Card_By_Urban_Chakkar_729834You da’ man!  You’ve probably heard this exclamation after someone has done something great or unusual. The only reason I even mention You da man, is to help you with the pronunciation of Eudemonic (yoo-di-mon-ik).

A lot of what I do focuses on the end results of Eudemonics which is behavior that produces happiness and a sense of well-being.  This type of happiness is not associated with the circumstances of the world, but it has more to do with the concept of joy and your relationship with the Lord.

With this in mind, it’s easy to identify a few of the Eudemonic Principles in the Bible.  There is the:

  • Joy of Knowing God:  But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You (Psalm 5:11)
  • Joy of Forgiveness:  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32:1)
  • Joy of Mercy: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1)
  • Joy of Restoration:  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:12)

I encourage you to give some thought to your relationship with God, and to take the time to mediate on the joy-filled message of Psalm 62:

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.  All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.”

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

Cinderella’s 44 Seconds of Eternity

 

BBCindThe craziness of March Madness was on full display this past week.  Several upset-minded teams played the role of Cinderella as they danced their way to victory.

On Friday, the Panthers of Northern Iowa wore the silver sneakers and defeated the University of Texas with a dramatic half-court buzzer beater. On Sunday, however, the magic was gone and UNI lost to Texas A&M.

I’m not sure how many bible scholars play for UNI, but I do know they learned something about eternity—it never ends. With a 12-point lead and just 44 seconds left to play, UNI was already tasting victory.

Those final 44 seconds turned into an eternity of mishaps.  With Matt Bohannon on the bench with a knee injury, UNI discovered the weak link in their lineup—no other player could fill his shoes.

The Panthers agonized for 44 seconds as Texas A&M intercepted one inbound pass after another, and their 12-point lead vanished.  Evidently the Panthers Fairy God Mother had left the stadium 45 seconds earlier, and she wasn’t present when this Cinderella took a nasty fall.

The Panthers loss reminds us that a team is only as strong as its weakest link—the same is true for churches.   This is why Paul encouraged Christians to help bear the burdens of fellow believer; to lift each other up in prayer; and to live a harmonious life in a coordinated effort to grow one another:

We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies. But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love (Ephesians 4:14-16 ~The Message).

As an individual part of the chain, are you properly functioning?  If not, you just might be the weak link.