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May 2010 entries

Why Am I Still Here?

Yesterday I spoke at a funeral for one of our members. The deceased was also the sister to my wife's uncle. I did not know her well. I had seen a few times over the years and heard her spoken of fondly several times by family members. A few weeks ago I was asked by my wife's uncle to come visit his sister. She had an advanced stage of cancer and did not expect to live much longer. When I arrived I found her sitting in a chair in the living room. I made small talk for a few minutes. (I am the worst in the world at small talk so most people want me to just get to the point. I told her that I had been informed she had a question she would like to ask me. So I said "What would you like to know?" Then I got one of the strangest questions I have ever been asked. It was not the usual "Why has this happened to me?" Or even, "What happens when you die?" She looked at me very puzzled and said, "Why am I still here?"

That is a good question. Not only for those who have been told we will die sooner than later, but to those of us who choose to avoid even the though of the inevitable. Why are we still here? I thought for a moment and responded, "It is because you haven't finished yet." She thought for a moment and asked another question, "What haven't I finished?" I had to admit that I didn't know her well enough to even venture a guess. I just said that God has a purpose for us here and He will not take us home until it has been accomplished. Jesus is our example in dying just as we was in living. On many occasions people tried to kill Him but to no avail. The reason? He was not finished. When He finally hung on th cross and suffered for our sins He said with His dying breath, "It is finished!" I told the people gathered in the chapel at the funeral home that their loved one was finally finished. I don't know what it was that God had for her to do but He took her home when she was finished. She may have forgiven someone in her heart. She may have uttered a prayer for someone from long ago. She may have given one last smile or wink to a loved one. I don't know, but I do know her purpose had been completed. Now, what has God given you to do?    

Government Sheds Light on Scripture

It's funny how life seems to intersect at times. It happens that I was studying for Sundays message when I came across the passage in Matthew 6:3 that says, "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." I know this is somewhat of a hyperbole; kind of an extreme statement to make a point, but is otherwise improbable. You know like a camel going through an eye of a needle. (Please don't write me about this being a small gate into a city and the camel would have to get on its knees to get through. Its a camel and an eye of a needle. It's supposed to be impossible that was just the point. Remember the disciples then asked frantically, "Who then can be saved?" It got their attention.) So back to the left and right hand thing. My executive pastor came in to my office with an example, in real life, how this was actually possible. It seems our new satellite campus at Northgate has one corner of the parking lot in the 100 year flood plain. No part of the building is, but a few feet of the parking lot is designated as such. With closing on the property due tomorrow FEMA says we have to buy flood insurance for the whole thing. FEMA, by the way, underwrites flood insurance. We disagree with FEMA and don't believe the insurance is necessary, but to keep things rolling we agree to purchase it anyway. So off the exec pastor goes to our insurance agents office to find out how much it would be. She can't give us a quote. Guess why; because FEMA can't give us a rate since the building is not in the flood plain. So the right hand of the government is telling us to buy insurance that the left hand of the government won't sell us. Isn't it great how the government helps shed new meaning on Scripture? Jesus must have been thinking about the IRS when he counseled us to give our coats away as well once we had already given the shirt off our back.  

Lessons Learned from an Oil Spill

I've been watching with some interest the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I barely missed it as I left the Gulf a few days ago while working on my book. Some on our staff have had to postpone vacation plans because of the disaster. Thus far attempts to stop its hazardous and deadly flow have not been successful. As I do almost everything in life I see a spiritual lesson to be learned from this event down south.

First of all the oil is released from deep beneath the waters and earths surface. This black gold hasn't been seen since prehistoric times. In a sense it has been hidden. Man thought he could harness this potentially destructive and deadly substance for his own pleasure. There was pleasure for a season. It, no doubt, brought those who controlled its flow much wealth and prestige as long as it was under their control. When suddenly it was not under their control this black substance became more destructive than profitable. Not only does it cause the owners of the well money, it also interrupts the lives of tens of thousands of others. Suddenly those who fished in those waters are out of work. The hotels dotting the beaches are scarcely occupied so hotel staff workers are being laid off from cleaning ladies to desk clerks and pool boys. The environment is suffering as well. Fish and and shell fish are being polluted and some are being destroyed. Prices are being driven higher for seafood which then limit the market and the effects drive inland to restaurants and supermarkets.

Do you see the parallel? Sin is deep with in all of us. We were conceived in sin. It is best left alone, but some thing they can control it for their own pleasure. It often does bring pleasure for a season. However, we are often deceived to believe that its destructive power will never get out of hand. When it does break free it not only cause hurt to those who are guilty but to many others as well. The black stain of sin often stains the lives of children because one or both of their parents fell into and adulterous affair while they were young. These couples often promise to keep their children safe from the oil spill, but sometimes their attempts are not successful and the children suffer long after the parents recover. A man who cheats and steal at work may get away with it for years. He may even justify his actions because he tells himself that his employer doesn't pay him what he is worth. After years of enjoying his little secret another exposes it to his boss. The man curses his accuser, but the facts reveal that the accusations are true. He loses his job, his self-respect, future opportunities for advancement or employment and the respect of his family and peers. Or the young girl who gives her virginity away for the pleasure of sex or just the attention of that popular guy. She finds that her brief moment of indiscretion may have left her with a STD or an unwanted pregnancy. Her decision now not only effects herself but a new life and her family as well. Once the oil begins to seep from the well it is difficult to get it capped again. Sin is deadly. It will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you can ever imagination.    


Sorry for any who found porn in my comments section. There seems to be no limit to the depravity of those who are under sin's grip. I have removed the comment and will not allow that person to post any longer.
Pastor Ken

Willing but Reluctant to Serve

I've been dreading today for weeks. I was summoned to serve on jury duty. I'm not opposed to serving, nor do I think I am too good or too important to serve. I'm just too dad-gone busy. With much fear and trepidation I drove into C'Town this morning and sheepishly entered the court house. Finding the room for prospective jurors I sat with the others who were waiting a similar fate. We endured a 15 minute film convincing us we were a privileged lot to serve our country as jurors. That was exciting. Fortunately I had brought my reading glasses and the latest copy of Biblical Archaeology Review. Next the role began. They were to call 8 groups of 12. If my ciphering is correct that would be about 96 hapless souls. Would you believe it, God still hears and answers prayers. Sure enough I had asked the Lord to spare me of these two weeks of civil service if it were His will. I laid out a strong case with sermon preparation, counseling and Bible study as activities that would have to be re-arranged or even omitted altogether if He we to have me serve. I held my breath as the last few jurors names were called. (O ye of little faith I said under my breath.) When the 96th name was called and it wasn't mine I almost shouted. Leaving the room a young lady from DBBC who was also spared jury duty said, "I was wondering how you would use this as a sermon illustration if you were called." I assured her now it would be that God hears and answers prayers.

There was one interesting moment in the otherwise tedious 1 1/2 hours spent at the courthouse this morning. I noted as people's names were called they would grimace or bow their head and resign themselves to their fate of living in a free society. I would have probably reacted the same. There was one exception. Somewhere around the 70 or 80th name that was called a woman responded to her summons to the front with a shout and a resounding "yes!" The judge looked at her and smiled. He said in the 4 years he had called people to jury duty he had never had anyone react like this lady. She practically ran to the jurors box. She was excited about her opportunity to serve. I was a little disappointed with my attitude for a moment, but that passed pretty quickly. But I did think, "How refreshing." Someone who is excited to serve. As someone who has to call upon people on a regular basis to serve in a voluntary (read here unpaid) position, I thought how great it would be if church people responded with same kind of enthusiasm for serving the Lord. How rare it is to hear someone ask, "What can I do to help?" Typically their answers are that they are too busy to serve. I understand completely. We are all busy, but how refreshing it would be to hear someone say "yes! I'll serve." I know that would bring a smile to the Father's face.