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Archive for February, 2012

Work out your own salvation

Philippians 2:12 ESV  “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”

Some take a portion of Philippians 2:12 to mean, “You don’t need others ‘interfering’ in your life; work it out yourself,” but they leave a particular word out: “obeyed.”  That makes it less convenient, doesn’t it?  When you have to “obey” someone or something?

Obey what?  How about being on the giving AND receiving end of verse 4:  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  How about verse 14?  “Do all things without grumbling or questioning,”  What “things”?  Well, obviously something you’d rather not.  Like letting others speak into your life.  Like letting others know what’s really going on in your life.

Philippians was written to the entire church at Philippi, not just to a church leader.

The inculcation towards the end  (vv. 17-19 ) carries a warning:  “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.   For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.   Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

Take care when you pull away from the possibly uncomfortable intense light of the Word.  If you allow your id, your self, your psyche to draw you away, it can only be toward darkness.

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Lately, every time I venture out on the roadways, I spy at least one vehicle in front of me with a little video screen with something playing on it to anesthetize the children in the back seat, and I wonder if it might just constitute child abuse.

When I was a kid, I looked out the window. On short trips, I may have seen the same thing over and over, but occasionally I’d see something was different and I would think about it or perhaps even ask my father about it. (My mother didn’t drive—imagine that!) On longer trips, we’d venture into new areas and I would see things I may never have seen before.

I would see how we got from place to place, even looking forward to what might be over the next hill, sometimes looking forward to what I knew was just ahead. One of those places, on the pre-Beltway route to Beverly Beach, Maryland, was The Shrimp Boat, probably the one still on East Capitol Street in DC. It stood out to me because back then there was a popular song by Jo Stafford called “Shrimp Boats”. I’d mention that when we’d turn at that restaurant on the way, and we might even sing a chorus.

I’d ask what things were or why they were, and my dad or mom would do their best to answer. I’d ask about driving, too. By the time I got my license, I knew more about driving than folks obviously do today, even after the required classes.

There were the negatives, too, from my parents’ perspective, anyway. The oft-asked, “Are we there yet?” (This usually upon having awakened in the back seat, having been lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the tires on the road surface or that of the telephone poles whizzing past.)

Kids, by being catered to and by being disconnected from their surroundings are missing all this, and I think it’s a shame.

I’ll continue this train of thought later, with my notions about ever-present and intrusive video games, cell phones, and texting.

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Shoes in Church

Someone sent me this poem, and it moved me, so I’d like to share it.

Shoes in Church  Author Unknown

I showered and shaved…………. I adjusted my tie.

I got there and sat…………. In a pew just in time.

Bowing my head in prayer………. As I closed my eyes.

I saw the shoe of the man next to me…… Touching my own. I sighed.

With plenty of room on either side……. I thought,’Why must our soles touch?’

It bothered me, his shoe touching mine… But it didn’t bother him much.

A prayer began: ‘Our Father’…….. I thought, ‘This man with the shoes, has no pride.

They’re dusty, worn, and scratched. Even worse, there are holes on the side!’

‘Thank You for blessings,’ the prayer went on.

The shoe man said A quiet ‘Amen.’

I tried to focus on the prayer……. But my thoughts were on his shoes again.

Aren’t we supposed to look our best, When walking through that door?

‘Well, this certainly isn’t it,’ I thought, Glancing toward the floor.

Then the prayer was ended……….. And the songs of praise began.

The shoe man was certainly loud…… Sounding proud as he sang.

His voice lifted the rafters……… His hands were raised high.

The Lord could surely hear. The shoe man’s voice from the sky.

It was time for the offering…….. And what I threw in was steep.

I watched as the shoe man reached. Into his pockets so deep.

I saw what was pulled out………. What the shoe man put in.

Then I heard a soft ‘clink’ . As when silver hits tin.

The sermon really bored me……… To tears, and that’s no lie.

It was the same for the shoe man… For tears fell from his eyes.

At the end of the service…… As is the custom here.

We must greet new visitors, And show them all good cheer.

But I felt moved somehow……. And wanted to meet the shoe man.

So after the closing prayer…… I reached over and shook his hand.

He was old and his skin was dark…. And his hair was truly a mess.

But I thanked him for coming……… For being our guest.

He said, ‘My names Charlie….. I’m glad to meet you, my friend.’

There were tears in his eyes……. But he had a large, wide grin.

‘Let me explain,’ he said……… Wiping tears from his eyes.

‘I’ve been coming here for months…. And you’re the first to say “Hi.”‘

‘I know that my appearance………Is not like all the rest.’

‘But I really do try……………..To always look my best.’

‘I always clean and polish my shoes. Before my very long walk.’

‘But by the time I get here………They’re dirty and dusty, like chalk.’

My heart filled with pain ………..And I swallowed to hide my tears.

As he continued to apologize………For daring to sit so near.

He said, ‘When I get here………..I know I must look a sight.’

‘But I thought if I could touch you. Then maybe our souls might unite.’

I was silent for a moment……….. Knowing whatever was said would pale in comparison…

I spoke from my heart, not my head.

‘Oh, you’ve touched me,’ I said……’And taught me, in part.

That the best of any man………… Is what is found in his heart.’

The rest, I thought, ……… This shoe man will never know.

Like just how thankful I really am… That his dirty old shoe touched my soul.

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Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. The “holiday” isn’t practiced as it originated, but it is a day that reminds me to take a moment, beyond the greeting card or dinner, to say how thankful I am for my wife, Mary, with whom the Lord has blessed me.

Really, what more can I say than, “I love you, Mary,” and, “Thank you, Lord, for this gift in my life”?

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I have an acquaintance who subscribes to the Outback school of Theology: “No rules, just right.”

He doesn’t get it that it’s when he stands before the judge that Jesus intervenes – not necessarily during our walk, unless we confess and repent. I’ve shared with him Matthew 7:21 KJV, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Then, there’s 1Jn 1:6-9 “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He figures that since he didn’t “do” anything to get saved other than acknowledge his state and accept Jesus, then he can do nothing to lose his salvation, despite the epistles and red print to the contrary, and the fact that there will be “a great falling away.” Deception is worse than ignorance.

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Reflections

Because I kind of liked Andy Rooney’s discourses, I was going to go for THE CHRISTIAN CURMUDGEON, but the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a curmudgeon as “An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.”  While it’s not perfect, The Macmillan Dictionary’s definition of “crusty” reflects a little bit about how today’s society affects me:  “easily annoyed.”

I am thankful that my relationship with Jesus has changed my heart, and that most things do not lastingly affect me in a bad way.  Although money (mammon) was once my god, even though I may feel the occasional fiduciary twinge—especially with what our Government is doing to our economy—I have found that I simply don’t worry.  God does indeed have a plan, and although I don’t know the day-to-day details I know that I’m in His hands and that He has my best interests at heart (though my flesh might not readily agree), and I know where I’m eventually going and can’t seem to stay worked up about happenings here.  Nonetheless, the darts do often pique my thoughts, so I’ve elected to share them.  I hope some of my reflections may strike a chord with at least some who might read my meanderings.  Please drop by from time to time, read my posts, and share your thoughts on the matter(s).

Steve

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