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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blessings Come in Unexpected Ways

A couple of weeks ago I bought a car on Ebay. I know, I know, you either think I am crazy or have a lot of nerve. Yes, I have heard that many times. But I didn't take as much of a chance as people who buy used cars from dealers.

First, I ran a carfax report. This gave me the vehicles history. I knew that the car had been a lease and was owned by only one person. I saw where it had been registered and knew that it had never been in a major accident.

Second, I checked out the dealer. She had over 500 sales on Ebay and had no complaints. How many car dealers do you know that have no complaints?

Third, I watched her auctions for a few weeks. I saw what she sold and about what price I could expect to pay. So, I went into this deal with a lot of research and some great expectations. Yet, I was still surprised.

I guess I thought that all car dealers were spawned on Halloween at midnight. I expected the slick talk and the greasy handshake. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I met Ronnie and Lisa Waggoner who were the most down to earth, likeable people I have ever met. Ronnie picked me up from the Atlanta airport and took me to his home. The car I bought was waiting on me. Before I looked at it he told me that he would buy me a plane ticket back if I didn't like the vehicle. Now, what chance had I taken?

Lisa was equally friendly. She didn't push and didn't dally. She had all the legal papers ready when I wanted to complete the deal. The whole thing took less than thirty minutes. If Ronnie and Lisa weren't so friendly I wouldn't have hung around talking to them for another hour!

Sometimes the people you expect to stretch your patience are the very people who are a blessing to you. I guess I should stop trying to categorize people by what they do or how they look. Duh!

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's Really Important?

Last week I saw the news about a Hooter's server who was asked to adjust her dress so that she could board a plane. She did so and flew. Later, we find her on national news complaining that she was embarrassed and wanted an apology from the airline. Did the airline contact the national news agencies to tell them about this travesty? If she was so embarrassed wouldn't she have kept her mouth shut?

The problem I have is that the news agencies carried her story. It just wasn't news. It was as serious as being asked to quieten down when another passenger complains. All I am saying is, "Let's not give this fifteen minutes of fame!"

Twenty-four hour a day news has blurred the lines in what is important. Most days we don't have enough enough relevant substantive news yet, because the media must fill the time, insignificant stories make the airwaves. Unfortunately, our society doesn't even recognize that much of this is gobble-de-goop and not news at all.

Sometimes I will hear people say things that indicate they don't know what's important. They say things like, "Well, the kids had a good time and that's the most important thing." Of course, that is never true. Kids often have good times doing things that are very dangerous. Their safety is more important than their good time. I guess this is why so many parents buy their children video games yet fail to teach them some of the basics about life. Their exclusion of teaching indicates they believe it is more important that their children have a good time.

Surely, you can both buy children video games and teach them but I am finding that to be rare. Most fathers are not teaching their sons to become gentlemen and most mothers are not teaching their daughters to be ladies. I hear the appalling language coming from young people and must believe they have not been taught what is important. Amazingly, much of what I hear comes from Christian young people.

What if we had a revolution? What if we said that we will carefully discern our time by what we do and what we watch? What if this happened in the Christian community alone? Would our lack of participation cause others to take notice? Would our careful observances of good, meaningful activities cause others to join us?

I think so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Power of Belief

I have been leading a Bible Study on Wednesday nights for about two and a half years. We started in Genesis and we are now in Joshua. Recently, we read the passage where Joshua takes God's people into the Promised Land. He sent spies into the land and they came out praising God for what they were about to possess. They obeyed everything Joshua said and believed that God would give them this land. I thought how different this was when Moses did the same things but got a disastrous result. Moses saw the people rebel and not believe God would give them the land. The power of belief gives one group victory and the lack of this belief condemns another.

My belief on whom I know God to be will be reflected in my actions. My actions will either allow God to show who He is or they will present an impotent God. When I act like God can't or won't do what He said He wanted I fail to receive God's best for me. This is not what God desires for me nor what I want for myself.

I find myself with many difficult tasks. Each week I must prepare a sermon which will deliver God's word to the people. I must lead a church to act faithfully to our Lord and grow both spiritually and numerically. I must seek ways to see God's vision of making our church known because of her faith. That faith should turn the world upside down just like the early disciples faith did. I must enlist people to join the battle. Each of these things are too hard for me, yet they are required of me by God. My continuance in these arduous tasks reveals who I believe God is. It also determines the results. I believe, listen and obey or I fail. There is no Promised Land for those who fail to believe, listen and obey.

Of course, my human nature would rather God give everything to me without any effort on my part. Was that what Moses congregation expected? Did Joshua's generation learn that through forty years God provided and could be trusted in a way that Moses' group did not? Which is greater: manna everyday or crossing the Red Sea? Maybe neither. Both reveal who God is.

So, I sit here with a completed Bible asking God to do some great things. I cannot ask Him to work without expecting that I will have to work too. That isn't His pattern.

I ask God to do something of biblical nature. I would like to see a turning of the world upside down with the faith of His believers. I would like to see places shaken because of the prayers of God's people. I would like to see people healed and receiving miraculous provisions. At the same time, I am afraid to ask. What will He require of me that will be an act of belief?

The power of belief changes the world.