Thursday, June 26, 2014

Modern Day Parable: Two Men Sharing a Hospital Room

Two Men Sharing a Hospital Room – author unknown
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.
His bed was next to the room's only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band -he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with
descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body
of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left
him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.

“Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spiritual mission creep (Psalm 24:3-4)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 24:3-4 (CEB) - larger reading Psalm 24
Who can ascend the LORD's mountain? Who can stand in his holy sanctuary? Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart; the one who hasn't made false promises, the one who hasn't sworn dishonestly.

We can supplement our accountability to others by reading slowly through literature designed to challenge our Christian maturity. Consider, as an example, these questions related to sexual purity that I had to read carefully as I read Kent Hughes' Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome:
1. Are we being desensitized by the present evil world? Do things that once shocked us now pass us by with little notice? Have our sexual ethics slackened?
2. Where do our minds wander when we have no duties to perform?
3. What are we reading? Are there books or magazines or files in our libraries that we want no one else to see?
4. What are we renting at the local video stores? How many hours do we spend watching TV? How many adulteries did we watch last week? How many murders? How many did we watch with our children?
5. How many chapters of the Bible did we read last week?

“Mission creep” has been in the news a lot recently. Something begins with good intentions, but over time, ever so slowly, it gradually grows until it demands far more from us than originally proposed. Mission creep.

The five questions listed above could be used to measure Mission Creep for our spiritual journey. We justify certain things in the context of that journey believing that we are on the right path because we can justify what we are doing, reading, viewing, listening to, and reading. Initially the simple little lapses in our spiritual commitment doesn’t seem to phase us, but alas before we know what has happened we are deeper than we could ever imagine. But it began so innocently.

“Clean hands and a pure heart” actually is harder than we can imagine. Temptations surround us and the devil knows our areas of weakness. As my new favorite statement says: Faith makes it possible not easy. It is hard keeping our hands clean and focusing the seat of our soul pure and on the right path… but so goes our walk. We should take it one step at a time because anything more could find us experiencing spiritual “mission creep”.


You know our hearts better than we know ourselves. You know our desires and our challenges. We pray often “lead us not into temptation” and then we turn outward and there those temptations are staring us in the face. Help us to take one step at a time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The judging needs to stop - NOW (Romans 14:13)

SCRIPTURE: Romans 14:13a (CEB) – larger reading Romans 14:13-23
So stop judging each other.

Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping.
"Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, 'Please God, send me an angel . . . preferably one with mechanical experience.' Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: 'Hell's Angels -- California'. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, "Thanks so much," and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, "Don't judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you're talking to." With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.

We all do it… don’t we? We see the outer shell of a person and pass a quick judgment. Even though scripture clearly states that we shouldn’t, we still do… regularly.

When we see a person with tons of tattoos – do we see the tattoos or the person? When we see someone with all sorts of body piercings – do we see the piercings or the person? When we see a black person do we see the color of his/her skin or do we see a person? When we see two men or two women kissing do we see homosexuals or do we see two people in love? When we see a homeless person holding up a sign asking for donations, do we see a lazy homeless person or someone in need of a hand up?

We do it all the time. This tendency of ours becomes a barrier that keeps us separated, isolated and far less than what God has called us to be. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. You make not know who you are talking to.” Wise words for a very unlikely source, but why should his comment surprise us? Because he was a member of Hell’s Angels or rode a Harley or a had a beard?

Romans scripture says – stop it – period. It does say, “try to stop” or “make every effort not to judge” or “do what you can to stop” … it just plain out states: Stop it! End of story. If we empowered by the Holy Spirit… well, you get the picture.

Okay, you’ve communicated to us in no uncertain terms. We are going to stop right now, this very moment. From this moment on we are going to see people – not women people, not Arab people, not Republican or Democratic people, not gay people, not homeless people, not black/red/yellow people … we are going to see just God created people. People that Christ came to die for.

Note: Starting on Monday, June 30th I will be taking a three-week vacation from writing my daily blog. Thanks for continuing to read these simple words from an old preacher.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Can I get a witness? (Joshua 24:27)

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 24:27 (TM) – larger reading Joshua 24:16-28
Joshua spoke to all the people: "This stone is a witness against us. It has heard every word that God has said to us. It is a standing witness against you lest you cheat on your God."

A pig ate his fill of acorns under an oak tree and then started to root around the tree. A crow remarked, "You should not do this. If you lay bare the roots, the tree will wither and die." "Let it die," said the pig. "Who cares as long as there are acorns?" 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;

hither by thy help I’m come;

and I hope, by thy good pleasure,

safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

wandering from the fold of God;

he, to rescue me from danger,

interposed his precious blood.

The old preacher would ask: “Can I get a witness?” Someone, anyone who would be a faithful witness to the truth of the message. Isn’t it true for most of us that we would rather easily trade in our witness for a few meager “acorns”?

Oh, we think we are being faithful, but silence fills the void. We think we are being righteous – reading our Bible, having our daily devotion, worshipping regularly – and yet it is those little things that creep in and convince us (or at least try to convince us) that everything is alright, that we haven’t done anything wrong, that our witness is still solid.

We have become tone deaf to the murmurs of the crowd, the shaking heads, the lackluster response of others. They see what we fail to see… a person who has tipped over our Ebenezer stone – our faithful witness – our testimony … all for a few meager “acorns”… “Cheating God” as suggested in the Joshua verses.

But God keeps the door open. God still stands on the watchtower waiting for his child, his precious child to return home. Grace is still available.  Forgiveness is still an option. The Ebenezer can be righted. The witness can continue, but like the prodigal son in Luke 15 we still have to come to the awareness that we have sinned against God and all that is righteous.

It is just determining which is more important – the “acorns” or the Tree of Life.


Eternal God we’ve all been there. Some of us are still there. Beat some sense into our gray matter so that our spirit will desire to return to you.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday's Parable - The Call from Almighty God


This story involves a pastor of a storefront church. The pastor’s church is called The Almighty God Tabernacle. On a Saturday night not long ago, this pastor was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer, but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes.
When he tried again she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, but she said that it hadn’t rang at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and didn’t give it a second thought.
The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night.
The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn’t figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the guy said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer. “The pastor then remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he intended to call his wife.

The man said, “That’s OK. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’ At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God’. I was too afraid to answer!”