Monthly Archives: December 2014
I once had a Bible college professor with the reputation of always finding something good to say about the chapel message no matter how bad the message. Following one service in which the speaker got in way over his head and his message was less than “stellar” a student asked the professor what he thought of the message. It was obvious not even he could redeem such a failed effort.
After being asked, “So Doc, what good can you say about that message?” he responded, “I’m certainly happy I did not bring it.”
Chapter 10 of Charles Ryrie’s book Balancing The Christian Life is entitled “Routine Faithfulness.”1 Those two words belong together. Conferences, retreats, concerts, and workshops make faithfulness easy. When away attending a special event you don’t have to think about the bills needing to be paid, the car needing to be fixed, the relationships that needs mending, and the problems you need to confront.
Holidays are similar. Special days are, well, special. They are unique, unusual. No homework or going to work. But then comes Monday when the routine returns.
The Bible commends virtues such as patience, kindness, and gentleness. It also commands hospitality, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” – 1 Peter 4:9. But, as with most things, moderation is also important and very few principles in the Bible stand alone. It’s always a good idea to maintain the center of biblical tension by looking for the other side of any given principal.
I find it interesting that when the apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to counsel Timothy about relationships with older men and women he wrote, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” – 1 Timothy 5:1-2.
What I find interesting is that Paul did not tell Timothy to treat older men and women the way he treated his own father or mother but as a father or mother. Wise counsel. Not everyone has the best of relationships with parents. And not every parent makes getting along with them easy.
I don’t recall the source but I remember someone saying they enjoy hearing people talk about themselves because they know they will always hear something good. I have found the observation to be true.
There is a fine line between talking about self because one needs to and because one wants to. Jesus talked about himself quite a bit. For instance, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” – John 8:23-24.
Thinking this Christmas morning about finding Jesus. What does that mean? I’ve met a lot of people claiming to be looking for Jesus, to have found Jesus, to be loved by Jesus, and to love Jesus. But what does it mean to find Jesus?
In the gospel narratives a number of people find Jesus:
“And going into the house [the wise men] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:1–2, 11.
In The Gulag Archipelago1918-1956, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observes, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”1
This dividing line of good and evil runs through not only every human heart but throughout all of human history. One of the earliest promises concerning the Christmas message of the coming Christ was, strangely, made to the serpent in the garden of Eden where God said of the Christ child, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
It’s human nature to express an opinion. I don’t know how else we can communicate with one another. To say almost anything is to state an opinion. “I’m fine.” “Beautiful day.” “It’s cold out today.” “I like the new look.”
But there is expressing an opinion and being opinionated which is defined by one dictionary as “unduly adhering to one’s own opinion or to preconceived notions.” It all comes down to that little word “unduly.”
Went to breakfast this morning with a friend. A lifelong friend. Made me think about such friendships.
I don’t know how unique it is to pastor the home church where you grew up. I do know of two other men in the same situation but believe it is rare. Sometimes it can be funny and sometimes it can be embarrassing. There are times one wonders how wise it is but in my case it has worked for 25 years (which sounds better than a quarter of a century!).
It’s easy to grow wearisome of the mundane. Doing tomorrow what I’m doing today which is what I did yesterday. Brings to mind rats racing and hamsters wheeling. Doesn’t God want me to do more for him than the “same old same old”?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen observes,
“The largest part of Jesus’ life was hidden. Jesus lived with his parents in Nazareth, ‘under their authority’ (Luke 2:51), and there ‘increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people’ (Luke 2:52). Continue reading