Spring has sprung!

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Fo us in California today is a great day because the rains have arrived.  We have experienced one of our driest winters in history.  While much of the country has been getting a lot of rain, snow, sleet, and ice, we have been really dry.  The “drought” word has been bandied about by many in our State.  But, today, we are getting a really nice rain.  And, the rest of the week is to be quite wet.  For us spring has sprung.

But, there is a more important sign that spring has sprung.  Today, all around the country, open day baseball games are being played.  This, my friend, is a telltale sign that we are leaving winter behind and are headed to Spring and on into Summer and Fall.  For some of us at least, this is the official opening of Spring.

Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tiger’s radio broadcast, would begin each Spring training season with this quote from the Song of Solomon.  “Fo lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)  Though he just might have been taking this out of context, it sure works for setting the stage of a long baseball season.

Now, I know, many of you couldn’t care less about baseball in general or the SF Giants or even the Oakland A’s.  But, for me, I love this time of year.  For me, I’m looking forward to Madison Bumgarner throwing that first pitch.  I always seem to enter the new baseball season with a renewed hope and optimism.  I may have my heart broken by October.  But, I usually enjoy the ride.

Yet, baseball, flowers, or April showers aren’t really the most important events to Spring.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important day on our calendar.  Without HIs death, burial, and resurrection, His birth would have been useless.  Without His work on the cross, His work on the earth would shave been futile.  Yes, THIS is the reason we look forward to Spring every year.  THIS is the foundation of our celebration.  And, we will never be disappointed in this celebration.

Go ahead, if you are a baseball fan, cheer for your team.  Yell, scream, encourage, and talk about your team.  But, don’t forget the more important work of Christ on the cross.

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GO GIANTS

I want it NOW!

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Which do you choose?  Now or later?  If it is punishment, I suppose we choose later.  “Wait until your dad comes home.”  Now, in this case, waiting might be the worst part.  Or, you hope mom has forgotten by the time dad comes home.  Or, how about this one, “We’ll get that later.”  Yet, later never seems to come.  But, the “let me have it now” attitude, seems to have been perfected in our day and age.

 

I did a little historical research about getting things now.  I found that in 1936 instant Jell-o pudding was invented.  Depending on who I read somewhere between 1900 and 1922 instant oatmeal was invented.  Quaker Oats introduced an instant oatmeal in 1966, but had already been marketing a “quick oats” for over 40 years.  And, then there is our staple drink; coffee.  Many of us like to begin our day with a nicely brewed cup of java.  I guess people in the past weren’t much better about waiting than we are because it was 1890 that the first instant coffee was introduced.  It was in the 1940’s, however, that the onslaught of freeze-dried coffees hit the market.  One of the first was “Taster’s Choice” by Nescafe.  The ad campaigns marketed it to the fast paced society of the 50’s.  

Today we are simply inundated with more and more instant gratification choices.  Instead of calling someone and hear their voice we simply text.  Instead of using our writing skills with pen and pear, we just type an email.  Instead of printing pictures on paper, we keep them on our phones or computers.  You never know when you might want to look at the picture from three years ago stuck in the middle of that pile of 50-100 gig of photos! 

On Tuesday I suggested that we learn to slow down and smell the coffee.  I wonder how you have done so far this week.  Did you take any extra time to just sit quietly with the Lord.  Were you “still” to get to know God? (Ps. 46:10)  Did you take something off your schedule so you could spend time with your children, your spouse, your friends, or even your church?  Have you slowed down at all?

Time has a way of racing along.  Just yesterday I found some pictures that made my very sad.  My high school, Springfield High School in Akron Ohio, was torn down to make room for a newer, shiner one.  The pictures brought back a flood of memories.  Walking the halls, going to class, being part of sports, staging a sit-in…oh, so many memories.  But, after 43 years, I guess it’s ok for it to be demolished. In fact, I looked at when it was built and found that the newer section was built in 1950!  It was newer when I was there.  Yet, progress can be disappointing.

So, don’t let time just slip away.  Don’t waste your time on trivial pursuits that will amount to nothing. Invest in things that will reap eternal rewards.  Slow down to brew some real coffee, to make some real pudding and to cook some real oatmeal.  And, instead of just spending minutes with the Word and the Lord, invest an hour or so.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Racing through Life

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Who remembers Simon and Garfunkel? I do!  Does that make me really OLD?  I think so.  One of their more popular songs was known as “59th Street Bridge Song.”  It began with these words, “Slow down you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last….”  It was a call in the 60’s to slow down from the fast pace of life.  Maybe they were on to something.

If the 60’s represented a fast paced life, what can be said of our day?  We live in a time of just about instant everything.  From virtually instant communication through FB, Twitter, email and cell phones to the plethora of fast food restaurants and drive-up windows to ATM’s and instant cash to….  Well, you get the point.  Most people are running so much from one activity to another they never stop to “smell the roses.”  Even the prophet Nahum spoke of the invading enemy as having raging chariots. (Nah. 2:4)  I guess speed isn’t only a modern day  problem.

What do we miss in the fast lane?  We can find out if we simply pull over to the slow lane!  Or, better yet, get out to walk.  It’s amazing the things we miss when we are fixated on speed.  Teenagers want to speed through life to adulthood.  Children want to speed through childhood to being a teenager.  And, many want to just get moving faster through life.  Rarely do we hear to slow down.

I want to issue a call to slow down.  Remember when we were children our parents and teachers said this to us, “Stop, look and listen.” They didn’t want us to rush across the road and endanger our lives because we weren’t looking.  A few years ago I was on my way to a Giants game and I must have been too interested in getting there quickly.  Crossing the Embarcadero I failed to stop, look and listen and almost paid for it with my life.  I ran out in front of oncoming traffic, narrowly missing being struck.  Believe me, if I had been run over, the driver would not have been at fault!  But, the Lord was gracious and got me across the street without a scratch.  But, if I had only slowed down, none of that would have happened.

What are we missing by just rushing headlong into the fray?  We need to take time to meditate and reflect.  Find a quiet spot where you can be alone without interruptions.  That means, turn off your phone, get away from your computer, and listen to the birds.  Think about life and the Lord.  Don’t become distracted as Martha was.  She was way too stressed out and pent up!  She needed to slow down to see what was more important.  Jesus told her that her sister, Mary, had chosen the better part.

This week, why not practice a little slowing down?  Get alone with the Lord.  Watch your children or grandchildren more than the TV.  Listen to the Lord more than music.  Pay attention to others more than your favorite sports team.  Slow down.  Stop, look, and listen.

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Role, Purpose or Function?

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What is our purpose?  What is our role? What is our function?  Is this simply three ways to ask the same question?  Is our purpose the same as our role which is the same as our function? Is it related to how the words are used in a particular context?  Let’s see.

When we speak of a role our minds will often interpret this as in the role an actor plays.  The part, or role, he or she plays is not their real life or their real job or their real family.  They are given a part to play and they say woods given to them to say.  People who play the role of a smart person may or may not be as smart as they appear.  An actor or actress play the part, let’s say, of a doctor may perform that role extremely Well.  But, I for one, will not call upon them when I need surgery! 🙂

Purpose has become an overly used word in our day.  It seems everyone from Rick Warren to Dr. Phil uses this word!  Of course a legitimate use of it is fine.  But any word or thought that is overused loses its significance.  What our most important purpose on earth do is to glorify God.

But, I want to think about function.  How we function is part of doing what God has called us to do.  Each of us functions in many different capacities.  For instance, each of us functions as a producer. That is, we function as a worker.  Some of us function as a parent.  Everyone has a parent, but not all of us will be parents.  Another function some of us will take on is that of a partner.  Not as a partner in a company, but functioning as a partner in marriage.  Every husband and wife have certain functions that are more related them them than to the other. In the coming weeks we will be looking into these functions in relationship of the biblical family.

Though I will use these three words somewhat interchangeably, I want to try to focus on the thought of function.  I don’t want us to just be “playing a role.”  I don’t want us to just know what our purpose is to be.  Rather, I want us to function in way God has called us to function.  If husbands and wives, moms, dad, and children would do this, Christian homes would better reflect Jesus Christ.

So, how’s your function quotient.  In mathematics the term function is used of inputs and outputs.  A home will only put out what is being put into it.  Let’s commit to functioning well.

 

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A Prescription for Health

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Aren’t I cute?  Although I am not a cat lover, I found this picture quite amusing.  Let’s face it, dogs are much cuter, but maybe this smile will make you smile.

We are living in a time when everyone seems to have some sort of ailment.  Every day it seems we are learning of some new sickness or disease.  It is almost as if we should never venture out for fear of contracting some dreaded disease.  If I had just seen the future 15 years ago I would have invested in the stock from the Purell company!  I mean, let’s not touch anything lest we die! 🙂  People are so paranoid now that after we do anything we feel the need to cleanse ourselves.  What ever happened to “mud cakes?”

Pills exist for just about everything.  From pharmacies to vitamins, from doctors to health food advocates we are told any number of ways we can be healthier.  “Go to the gym,” some will say.  Run more, ride your bike more, play golf more, exercise more, these and other mantra can be heard.  Yet, it seems more and more of society suffers from some sort of phobia or illness.  How can we get healthier?  How can we get better?  Let me suggest a way that King Solomon recommended over 3000 years ago.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  Yes, a joyful outlook on life, a good time of laughter, will bring health to our bodies.  Doctors and researchers have studied the phenomenon of laughter and health and conclude that they co-exist.  The more one laughs, the more one possesses a joyful outlook, the healthier one will be.  It is both biblical and scientific.  Stories are told that Norm Cousins was told he didn’t have long to live.  So, as part of his therapy, he was watch humorous movies and cartoons so he could laugh at least ten minutes every day.  Reportedly he said for every ten minutes of laughter related to an hour of pain free living.  Now, there’s a reason to laugh.

Sunday night we will have a “Family FUN Night.”  The design for the night is to have FUN!  Is that unspiritual?  Based upon Solomon’s word I don’t think so.  In fact, at least three time in Proverb he mentions a “merry heart.” (Prov. 15:13,15; 17:22)  So, Sunday night we will attempt to have as much FUN as we possibly can.  And, it will be much more FUN if YOU would come!  If you are reading this and you don’t live in our area, just get your family together sometime for some FUN times.  We will play games, sit around and talk, and provide a FUN video to watch.  It’s your choice how to have FUN.  But, most of all we want to have FUN.

The service will begin at 5:00 pm.  We will sing a bit, I will be speaking on the subject of joy and FUN, and then we will be dismissed to have some FUN.

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To get you started I found these definitions which I hope will be FUN for you.  These are some “red neck” definitions.

Benign – What you be after you be eight!

Catscan – searching for the cat

Barium – What you do with dead folks!

Morbid – a higher bid than I made

Seizure – Roman Emperor

Well, ok, enough is enough.  Just laugh more today.  Enjoy the Lord and His provisions.  If you are suffering, grieving, or in pain, my prescription is this, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Neh. 8:10)

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Family First

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The Bible has much to say about believers in the Church.  Different pictures were used to describe the Church.  Some of these are a building, a bride, a body, and a bastion.  But, the one picture that might be most endearing is the picture of the brethren.  The New Testament draws lessons from the relationship in a family for our relationship with each other.  Just like in a family sibling rivalry exists, at times a little misunderstanding can happen in a local church.  And, just like in a family, we will defend our family to the end, so also in a local church we should be prepared to stand up for one another.  Families are a great metaphor for the Church.

Many years ago Bill Gaither wrote a song we sing quite often.  Some of the words are, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.  I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.  Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I’m part of the family, the family of God.”  This family is precious to us.  We have members of our family around the world that we haven’t met.  Yet, this is not the family I want to talk about.

I doubt anyone would disagree with me that the family is under attack.  More than ever the family unit is being maligned and redefined.  Society is pushing the make up and purpose of the family unit far from a biblical model.  G. K. Chesterton once said, “The family is the test of freedom.”  Where did the family come from?  Why does it exist?  How is it formed?  These and other questions will be considered as we continue our way through Ephesians 5.

Two main functions will be seen in these verses.  The first one is the roles of the husband and wife.  Paul will spell out how this relationship should function.  Remember, he was addressing a culture quite immoral and pagan.  Ephesus was the headquarters for the worship of Diana.  The people who made up the church were coming from lives of debauchery and depravity.  They did not grow up in a “christian home” or a “christian society.”  They had to learn first hand how the home should be a reflection of Christ and the Church.  What a change this represents for them.  What a testimony it would have been to see the dramatic difference their families would make.

The second relationship referred to is the parent and child.  Some married couples will not have children.  God is the One who opens and closes the womb.  But, those who are blessed with children carry a huge weight of responsibility.  The home should the breeding ground of faith as the children see genuine faith being lived out. One author said this, “The family circle is the supreme conductor of Christianity.”  We as parents are to be raising our children to love the Lord.  Will they all follow the Lord?  No.  But, it is our responsibility to be the first one to share the Gospel.

Family; we all have one.  It may not be the best, and it may not even be Christian.  But, we can change that cycle.  Love your family and give thanks for them.

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