A Blog by Pastor Jeff Kinne
June 6, 2014One Letter Short of Danger
This week an urgent call was transferred to my office. Clyde was upset. (the names and circumstances of this incident have been changed) No, he was irate! His personal domain had been violated from activities happening on church property and no one seemed to care. I assured him I’d meet him immediately.
I mostly listened, nodded my head and tried my best to be understanding. After 45 minutes we parted friends.
Anger. For many it seethes just below the skin. A few years ago, surveyors asked children to identify the one thing they would change about their parents. “I wish they didn’t yell at me so much.”
We deal with anger a number of ways. Some just explode. They have a short fuse that easily ignites. Others stuff anger only to pull it out at high-energy moments. Withdrawal is how some respond. They withhold affections from the one who brought anger. Another response is sarcasm. We verbally jab people but in ways that keep us pristine.
Jesus had some important words to say about this potentially hazardous emotion and how to manage it in healthy ways. They’re found in His Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus begins with the familiar and accepted and moves into the revolutionary.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you . . .”(Matthew 5: 38) Jesus quotes straight from the Mosaic Law.(Ex. 21: 23 – 25) It’s the ancient principle of exact retribution. I’ve always found the formula, well, rather harsh. In Moses’ day, however, the law restrained brutal vengeance by limiting retribution to no more than the exact equivalent of the crime. Helpful when a victim’s clan wants to kill your entire family in retribution for a crime, but the principle hardly touches the spirit of tension and strife that run so deep among us. As Gandhi once said, “If everyone followed the ‘eye for an eye’ principle of justice, eventually the whole world would go blind.”
Instead of retaliation, Jesus challenges us to respond with kindness. “But I tell you . . . whoever slaps you no your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”(Matt. 5: 39) At the core, it’s much more than kindness. It is the selfless love of a person who, when injured, refuses to satisfy himself by taking revenge. Instead of personally retaliating, Jesus asks us to look for ways to help the other person, to give back good for evil. Such an attitude and response is never easy . . . but it is restorative.
It was apparent to me and to others at the scene that Clyde’s anger had escalated beyond the circumstances. Yes, he had a justifiable complaint, but his display of anger came from something much deeper. . . seething pent up, unresolved grievances.
I wanted to respond by hitting back. Not physically. I’d never do that. But I did want to argue with him. I wanted to tell him his rage was worse than the supposed crime. I wanted to berate him for allowing such a small grievance to become so egregious. Instead, I sensed the gentle nudging of Jesus to set that spirit of retaliation aside and be born anew of the spirit that sustained Him through personal insult with retaliating.
Jesus’ gentle way defused an ugly scene. Instead of argument and agitation, God planted a seeds of understanding.
Turn the other cheek.
Go the second mile.
It isn’t surrendering to evil and wrong. It is a divine strategy that ends aggression because it refuses to personally retaliate. It’s a dignity and self-control born of love. That principle took Jesus to the cross . . . . But it brought us salvation! The same spirit miraculously transforms ugly situations today.
May 30, 2014
Mixed Dangerous Bag
A feature article in the most recent Christianity Today (The Case for an Alcohol-free Life) prompted my thoughts and this writing.
For a number of years now I’ve read about the health benefits some suggest alcohol affords. It protect against heart disease, freshens your breath, sharpens brain function, combats aging, increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels and can even help protect you from getting a common cold. Yes, there is some evidence supporting alcohol’s health benefits. However, as Robert Granger gestured in an Adventist Review article on this subject, if “alcohol were a newly discovered drug (instead of a drink dating back to the dawn of human history), we can be sure that no pharmaceutical company would develop it” as a preventative elixir. The problems and dangers far outweigh the benefits! In a more recent Adventist Review Peter Landless made an interesting comparison. The search for alcohol’s health benefits, said Landless, is like “trawling the shark-infested waters of the definite evidence showing the dangers of alcohol in search of one sardine’s worth of positive, healthful evidence in favor of alcohol use.” The health benefits of alcohol are still a hotly debated issue. The toxic effect of alcohol on the body, mind and relationships, on the other hand, is irrefutable.
I’m so grateful to be part of a world-wide church with a blueprint that informs and protects us from the problems that alcohol inevitably brings in its wake. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has stood against alcohol since its inception and vigorously participated in the great Temperance movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ellen White publically advocated against the evils of alcohol and warned against the wake of suffering it inevitably produces.
Unfortunately, some surveys show and, in some areas, the perception suggests, that alcohol use among Seventh-day Adventists is on the rise. The Valuegenesis report and other reputable studies have revealed that Adventists today are not as abstinent as we have been historically. The reason behind this increase is beyond me and the focus of this article. However, I would offer a few reasons I choose to live an alcohol-free lifestyle.
1. The use of alcohol is contrary to God’s ideal. Scripture invites believers to do life as an offering to God. (Romans 12: 1) The Bible also warns against the dangers of alcohol. The wise man said, “wine is mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Prov. 20: 1; see also Prov. 23: 29 – 35) God’s good plan for my life is hindered and often derailed by the effects of the use of alcohol to any degree.
2. Alcohol harms the body. Alcohol is toxic to body tissues and organs. It may take years of accumulated abuse, but the adverse effects are irrefutable. If you want a more immediate example, consider a simple experiment: Mix pure alcohol with the “white” of a chicken egg. The clear protein turns white and is irreversibly changed for the worse. Although people don’t drink pure alcohol, there is still an unhealthy interaction with body tissues. My mother, an alcoholic, died of issues related to cirrhosis of the liver. Years of alcohol abuse destroyed this vital organ.
3. Alcohol is addictive. Thirteen people out of every hundred who drink become alcohol-dependent. For me the chance of this happening is double. My father, my mother, my aunt, and who knows how many more first-degree relatives were alcoholics. They didn’t drink because they enjoyed it. They had to drink. . . . and it destroyed them. I’m one step away from the same scenario. I’ve preached this message to my children repeatedly. The risk factor of them becoming alcohol dependent makes drinking alcohol akin to playing Russian roulette.
4. Alcohol is associated with destructive behaviors. Commercials associate alcohol with fun. Alcohol is not fun. Alcohol is related to some of the most pervasive social problems of our age: domestic violence, vandalism, promiscuity, criminal activity and so much more. Alcohol is a substance that makes people unpredictable and unsafe, to themselves and others. My father was an alcoholic. My life is permanently impacted by the rage, abuse, fear, and destruction I witnessed throughout my childhood and adolescence. My parent’s eventual divorce was primarily due to alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, my family experience is not an isolated situation. Alcohol destroys people and relationships worldwide. The problem is epidemic.
5. Alcohol dulls and weakens my relationship with God. If someone asked you why you don’t drink and you said, “I have an allergy to alcohol.” That would end the discussion. Of if you said, “I have a strong family history of alcohol and I don’t want to take the risk,” that would probably be fine too. But if you respond by saying, “My relationship with God would suffer,” be prepared to be interrogated, ridiculed and even mocked and ostracized. God created us as intelligent, thoughtful, moral agents. Alcohol reduces and detracts from my ability to hear and respond to Him. That’s a place I don’t care to go. I have a difficult time being totally obedient to His ways even when my mind is clear. I would hate to think where I would go with the guardrails of conscience and good judgment blurred through alcohol.
6. Alcohol destroys my witness. Today many people, even Christians, associate teetotalers with narrow conservatism and meaningless pietism. An occasional drink, on the other hand, is viewed as a signpost of personal maturity and cultural appreciation. It breaks down barriers, creates solidarity, camaraderie and makes people feel like they fit in. The societal pressure to drink is gargantuan. But make no mistake. Alcohol destroys people. Consequently, it also destroys the Christian witness of any who drink. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 14: 21, “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” Alcohol may not appear to destroy in your neighborhood, but you don’t have to travel far to find this result. Explain your liquor store purchase to the person in recovery. Explain your social drinking to a neighbor who becomes dangerous when he drinks. Explain your alcohol-induced camaraderie to a brother who won’t touch the stuff anymore and looks at every day without it is a gift. I abstain from alcohol because I want to stand with, not against, my brothers and sisters who, by God’s strength, are breaking the chains of addiction.
I’ve personally experienced the ruinous effects of alcohol. I’m grateful to be part of a church that provides me with an atmosphere and teachings that help me make good choices. But in the end, it’s still my choice. And I’m happy to stay away from that dangerous bag.
May 23, 2014
The Right to be Forgotten
Sixteen years ago, Mario Costeja Gonzalez’s house in Spain was repossessed and auctioned off to pay his social security debts. Twelve years later, a local paper, La Vnguardia, reported the affair. Although factual, Mr. Gonzalez was not happy about the reporting. He was also infuriated that the decade-plus-old incident came up in Google’s search results every time his name was entered. The incident was years behind him. He had done his “just due.” He despised the shadow cast on his reputation because of something which had been rectified.
Four years ago, Gonzalez filed a suit against the newspaper. He included Google in the complaint. Gonzalez wanted Google to remove that damaging personal article from its search results.
The issue was taken to Spain’s National High Court. They, in turn, asked for advice from the highest legal authority in the European Union, the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Last week, on May 13, the Court of Justice issued a ruling that will likely become a crucial debate. It’s being called the newest addition to the list of human rights: the right to be forgotten. The EU concluded that a person ought to have the right to have potentially damaging links removed from a search engine’s data base on the basis that the information may be prejudicial to him or something from the past that he wishes to be forgotten.
The right to be forgotten. It almost seems counterintuitive. The perpetual human ambition is remembrance. Everyone wants to be remembered by posterity. Now we’re begging to be forgotten. Well, not completely! It’s not that we want our entire life to be erased. We just don’t want people to be able to dredge up our gaffs . . . past unethical and embarrassing shadows that damage and compromise our current reputation or standing. After 10 or 20 years, a moral about-face and a spiritual conversion, those digital archives of an embarrassing past live on, and on, and on.
Mr. Gonzalez wanted his past forgotten. He felt the present and future were being hurt by currently irrelevant information. The EU agreed. People have a right, they ruled, to demand that data bases be expunged at their request.
The right to be forgotten. Publically, it’s an intriguing idea that will undoubtedly be debated and argued at home, in print and in our courts for years to come. It’s the age-old debate of free speech verses the right to privacy. Which takes precedent: the desire for confidentiality or the public’s right to know? For example, what right does a person have in having his record cleared after being arrested for assault? Does it make a difference if twenty years have passed and the man is an upstanding citizen and tradesman (how about a plumber!) . . . or is seeking public office? What do we need to know . . . or have the right to know?
The right to be forgotten. Spiritually, it’s the centerpiece of our Christian experience. If our lot was to forever stand before a holy, righteous God who continually remembered and held us accountable for every sin we’ve ever committed . . . what joy would we find?
Forgotten. That’s how God has chosen to relate to my sin and yours. The psalmist says that “He has removed our transgressions from us . . . as far as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103: 12 That, my good friend, is a complete and utter removal. Just as east never finds west, so too my sins are completely atoned for through Jesus Christ. He knows I’m a sinner. But the consequence of that reality does not prejudice or alter His mind and intentions toward me. By means of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and ongoing intercessory ministry, I am treated as His beloved child. Praise God.
Forgotten. By virtue of Christ’s blood that’s the state of my sins. However, it is not my right. It is my choice . . . and privilege. The gift must be received. The sacrifice accepted. Then it becomes God’s right to forget.
I’m so glad He does!
May 16, 2014
An Engine Without Oil
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5: 10
A couple weeks ago I fired up my lawnmower for the first time in . . . three years! I replaced the engine oil, cleaned the spark plug, cleared the priming hose running to the carburetor bowl, and cleaned the spark plug. With that bit of restorative maintenance, the old self-propelled beast is running like a champ.
The episode reminded me of a tragic incident that happened a few years ago while we were living in Spokane.
I’ve never been that regular about changing the engine oil in my lawn mower. With no odometer to track the miles logged on my mower, or time gauge recording running hours, I’ve always been a bit haphazard with maintenance. (Yes, excuses come easy for me.)
Once I checked the owner’s manual: change oil at the end of each mowing season, or after every 25 hours of operation. Since I couldn’t recall whether the oil had been changed in this millennium, I figured it was about time to do so. I unscrewed the fill cap, upended the mower an emptied the dirty brown stuff into a tub. Righting the mower, I looked for a quart of SAE 30 oil. (The manual specified this particular weight.) Finding only the multi-viscosity brands used in automobiles, I thought it best to leave the mower without oil until I could secure the recommended weight.
With a dog, a cat, two boys and a daughter around who regularly helped with mowing, I knew it was potentially hazardous to leave the mower oil-less. I dismissed the inner alarm, however, reasoning that I’d have the oil replaced in a day . . . maybe two. I’d have the maintenance complete before anyone would even think of using it.
That was Sunday.
On Thursday, morning I asked Nolan to mow the lawn. When I returned home late that afternoon, I was rather upset to see that the lawn had not been mowed. There were signs of progress, but the job was far from complete. I asked my wife about it. “The mower quit running and Nolan couldn’t get it to start again.”
The mower! . . . The oil!! . . . The poor, little engine!!! My already overdrawn home budget!!!!
I contemplated keeping “silent” as David did about his sin. (Psalm 32: 3) I could have blamed it on natural causes . . . and been sort of truthful. After all, friction is a natural cause. I even thought of blaming my son for failing to check the oil before he mowed – something I had previously instructed him always to do.
My aching bones wouldn’t let me do either. They cried out, “Come clean.”
That evening I told my wife, and my son. “It was my fault. There was no oil in the engine. I was going to get the oil . . . Monday, . . . then Tuesday, . . . and Wednesday, . . . and . . .” Pretty poor excuse.
Honestly speaking, the mower died because I failed to carry through with my project. I had good intentions. But good intentions don’t lubricate engines . . . or work well in life.
Good intentions are also insufficient when it comes to personal sin. A ruined mower is a small consequence compared to the havoc that can happen in our lives when sinfulness is left unattended. Paul warned the church in Corinth that God is serious about this issue. Sin is not something to procrastinate about. It debilitates and destroys me and everything I touch while harboring it. Sin is nothing to be casual about! God promises cleanings and restoration. He’s got the oil. But I’ve got to put it in the engine!
Don’t repeat my mistake . . . with your mower, . . . or with your life.
April 18, 2014
Living as Jesus Died
This week, as I anticipated the celebration of Jesus’ victory over the grave and His glorious resurrection, I was reminded by an insightful article in an old Ministry Magazine by Floyd Bresee, that even in His death, the Jesus showed us how to live.
First of all, Jesus died forgiving. From the cross of shame, where soldiers nailed His hands and feet, and around which crowds of onlookers shouted mocking profanities, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 33, 34)
All of us have forgiveness problems. Every human being struggles to forgive and be forgiven. We have trouble laying aside the hurt caused us by others as well as the abuse we have caused our Lord. We have a double forgiveness problem.
The first thing Jesus did on the cross was to forgive. Our Christian experience begins when we accept God’s forgiveness grated us through Christ. It continues as that gracious gift causes me to forgive those who have caused me pain.
Secondly, Jesus death proved the seriousness of sin. Several years ago my son, Nolan, and I traveled to Borneo on a short-term mission trip. Among my assignments, I traveled with a dentist to a remote village by boat. I spoke to the villagers each evening and attended the dentist during the day. I was ready for the preaching part. Similarly, I thought dental assisting would be a breeze . . . until the first patient. When the dentist pulled out long needles, and blood began to flow, my head began to spin and I needed to find a seat before my seat found the floor. The dentist, however, was un-phased. His first experience of oral surgery may have caused him some queasiness. Now he was so accustomed to it that he wasn’t bothered in the least.
Sin can be like that. Initially, when the conviction about something we say, think or do floods our mind, the experience is revolting. We turn away in disgust and sorrow. However, as time goes on, our conscience doesn’t shout so loudly and sin doesn’t seem quite so sinful.
Jesus’ words from the cross remind us how sinful sin is. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) As the penalty for my sin bore down on Jesus, the separation it created from His Father was excruciatingly painful. If my sin created that agony for Jesus, I am both blind and foolish to be casual of its effect on me.
The third lesson in living that I learn from Calvary is that Jesus died thoughtful of His loved ones. From the cross Jesus tended to the needs of His soon-to-be-bereaved mother and disciple. “’Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’” (John 19: 26, 27)
I too often excuse my thoughtlessness by saying I’m too busy to take the time to be kind. Surely none of us have been more preoccupied and burdened with our circumstances than Jesus dying on the cross. Yet He took time to think of His mother, and His disciple.
The final lesson about life that I learn from Jesus death is to finish what I start. I’m a great one for good intentions. It’s easy to start a worthwhile, God-honoring project. I’m motivated and earnest as I consider the resultant blessing my endeavor will be to others. I’ve easily made big promises only to allow time and challenges to erode them. Jesus was different. The crucifixion story climaxes with these words from Jesus: “It is finished.” Then scripture says that “He bowed His head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19: 30)
It’s easier to make a promise than to keep it. “I’ll pray for you,” comes off my lips much more readily than my actual prayers for you. Forgive me, Lord! Some of us find it easy to be spiritual when we’re with those types, but just as easy to be worldly with the worldly. Like Peter, we confess allegiance to Jesus, and then deny Him before the next sunrise.
Floyd Breeze finishes the article with words worth quoting: “Don’t give up. What Jesus started at Calvary, He finished. What He has started in you, He plans to finish too.”
Happy Resurrection Sabbath!!!
P.S. For some powerful reflections on the crucifixion, I encourage you to read the pamphlet "The Sufferings of Christ" by Ellen G. White. You can read it in a printable Word document by clicking here or on the EGW Writings website here. If you have an iOS or Android device, you can also download the EGW Writings app and find this pamphlet there.
April 4, 2014
Lessons from “Noah”
Last weekend hundreds of thousands of people flocked to theatres across America for the debut of Noah. This is the title of the Paramount film by writer-director Daren Aronofsky. In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t part of the crowd, although I’ve seen enough advertisements and read enough about the film to know a bit about it.
The story, of course, is epic. The earth, scripture says, “was corrupt” and “filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:11) God registered the epidemic immorality. Every human being was unremorsefully depraved – sealed to wickedness and hatred and lies. None on earth were interested in right or love. Nothing but evil coursed through the mind of humanity. The situation was desperate. God had to act to protect His threatened creation. Every species named by Adam would be spared through a remnant, including the only salvageable of Adam’s descendants – Noah, his wife and children. It is a startling loss. A amazing truth. An epic story.
Film critics and skeptics berated the idea. They projected that revenues of such a film would barely exceed $40 million, hardly enough to pay for production. The film garnered just shy of $50 million the first weekend.
The film “Noah” only slightly resemblance the actual Bible account. Hollywood isn’t interested in truth. It creates stories that sell. Word has it that the screen event millions pay to attend has little to do with a righteous man doing God’s work. For every believable line there are bundles that are troubling. As one reviewer said, the film “doesn’t pretend to be delivering the story in a straightforward way, so you’re left wondering what the story says.”
Evidently, that’s the case. YouVersion, a Bible app that has been downloaded over 100 million times, saw a 300% increase in people opening the Noah story in Genesis 6.(Although I wasn’t part of that surge, I use this app daily for my daily devotion s and during visitation) Bible Gateway, an online Bible resource I use weekly, reported a 223% increase last weekend when “Noah” rolled.
So, although “Noah”, according to critics, suggests the weird and imaginative, the film evidently causes people to wonder. What is the real story of Noah is about? Have you looked lately?
Prior to final production, Paramount Pictures screened numerous versions of the film. They were searching for the right mixture of the sensational and the serene. Interestingly, they discovered something surprising. Most people, including Christians don’t really know the story. They think they do . . . but their ideas include significant misconceptions. In some of these screenings, people expressed concern because Noah got drunk. Hollywood highlighted that part. Most Christians hadn’t. Also, people who attended the screenings expected the relation between Noah and the townspeople to be marked by disdain and derision. I believe that. My children believe that. The pictures of their jeering faces are seared in grey matter (and mine) from scores of readings from illustrated Bible stories. This “fact”, however, is not in the Bible! I checked . . . on Bible Gateway . . . and became part of the online surge.
All of which made me think that it would be well to think again about this epic story . . . and about the religious and irreligious masses who consider it good enough entertainment to fork out a hefty sum. Is there a lesson in the box office success of “Noah”? Possibly.
The world is rapt with the idea of cataclysm – even one that originates in heaven. That’s an important truth! Every person possesses a divinely implanted sense of right and wrong. That “sense” is an important part of God’s appeal . . . for help and healing. If there is any good that can come from “Noah” it may be that people see the parallels of wickedness and hope – then and today.
Finally, the apparent success of this blockbuster is proof, once again, that the old story is not so old. It just needs a new telling. Paramount Pictures has done that . . . Hollywood style. We get the opportunity of doing it in a better way.
Next time you converse with a neighbor or friend who you know to be far from God, ask him/her about Noah and pray for the opportunity to tell about the rainbow and the promise. (Genesis 9: 11 – 16)
This link has taken you to the Village Church website. Please take a moment to peruse the site. Check out the News and Events on the Home Page. You can find this week’s bulletin by clicking on Calendar, News & Announcements at the bottom of the Home Page. Then click on CHURCH BULLETIN. That will take you to a page that lists the bulletins for the last several months. Click on the date for this Sabbath. Enjoy reading the announcements and anticipating the worship service this Sabbath!
Several items I would like to bring to your attention:
Steve Meharry was hospitalized last Sabbath in Moses Lake. Medical personnel determined that he was suffering from double pneumonia. The infection quickly worsened, and Steve was flown to Kadlec Medical Center in Tri Cities. He was placed in ICU and his situation was tenuous for several days. Steve experienced a miraculous turnaround on Wednesday. As of today (Friday) Steve is out of the hospital and recuperating well. Praise God!!
Don’t forget to join us tonight (Friday), at 7 pm and Saturday evening, 7 pm, for a special convocation with our Hispanic friends. Jose Rojas is our featured speaker. Invite your friends and relatives!
The flowers at the pulpit this Sabbath are in loving memory of Talitha Grizzell. They are a special remembrance of Jesus soon return at which time all our loved ones who sleep in Jesus will be raised to new life! Praise God!!!
We express heartfelt sympathy to the family of Dr. Don Smith. Don’s son, Ronald Smith, passed away March 27.
Remember Gospel Outreach Rally this Sabbath, 3:30 pm, in the Sanctuary.
Fountain View Academy will present a special sacred concert next Sabbath, April 12, at 6:30 pm, in the Village Sanctuary. Don’t miss it!!
Next Sunday, April 13, at 1 pm, you are welcome to attend a Memorial Service for Paul & Vivian Noodel, Cindy Moore’s parents. It will be in the Chapel.
During the first quarter of 2014 we have provided a good deal of assistance to members of Village Church who find themselves in need. We have helped with electricity bills, plumbing repairs, food, and other important items. Thank you for remembering the Benevolent Fund in your planned giving.
March 14, 2014
From Insecurity to Confidence
Last Sunday I tuned to National Public Radio as I traveled by car. An interview featuring an 83 year old woman named, Rita Moreno, caught my attention.
Rita Moreno? I couldn’t recall ever hearing of her. Other names and some titles mentioned on the broadcast were more familiar: Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, West Side Story, and more. It sounded like a glamorous career! She was a woman of amazing achievements. Ms. Moreno, I learned, is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers who have won all four major annual American entertainment awards –Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony. While I know very little about those titles, I do recognize the talent and ability they obviously require. “Rita Moreno,” I thought, “must be extraordinarily gifted.”
Early on in the interview Moreno admitted something quite shocking. She confessed that throughout her illustrious career in acting and music she continually second-guessed herself. Although her life was complete with honor and recognition, something inside said, you don’t deserve this, . . . you don’t belong here, . . . you really can’t do this.
In case you’re wondering, those aren’t the healthy musings of a humble and contrite spirit. Those are clouds of self-doubt and self-recrimination that echo in the ears and heart of every human being. The plain and ordinary consider them peculiar to their lack. The beautiful and bright, surprisingly, are often dogged by even darker clouds.
I thought of John’s words recording Jesus experience as He washed his friends’ feet in the upper room before Passover. Rabbis, as you know, never washed disciples’ feet. It was below their position. Jesus, however, “laid aside his garments, took a towel . . . girded Himself, . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (John 13:5)
Those actions do not typify the insecure. To rise to such a humiliating act required extreme courage and self-awareness. John says that Jesus, in essence, was able to humble Himself in service, because of a deep security and awareness of His place with God. “Knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,” Jesus assumed the role of a servant and washed dirty feet. (John 13:3) The same happens today . . . for you and me.
Success came fast and furious for Moreno. Nevertheless, she was plagued with an inner self-loathing. Talent, beauty, skill and intelligence . . . and years of therapy didn’t and hasn’t altered it. At eighty two the despairing clouds linger. “The negative, bad kid,” admitted Moreno, “still says, You’re going to disappoint everyone.”
That cloud has cast its shadow over my life more often than I’d like to admit. However, I find relief and hope in the words and indwelling of Jesus. His confidence to serve came from His security in God. He knew the humble act of washing feet was within His Father’s will. He was sure of His roots and His future. So He took a basin and towel.
Knowing my place in God’s plan, . . . assured of His care and love for me, . . . secure in the future before me, . . . I can move out from the shadows of self-doubt and loathing recrimination and into a confident life lived in and for Jesus.
So can you.
Please take a moment to browse the Village Church Website which you are now logged onto. You can access this week’s bulletin by clicking on the “Calendar, News & Announcements” button on the home page. You can read about upcoming events just below the banner on the front page. A number of my weekly posts are under “Encouraging Words.” And there’s much more.
In addition to the listings you’ll find on the weekly bulletin, I would like to bring a couple things to your attention.
The team traveling to Turkey for two weeks of mission work left on Wednesday, March 12. Pastor Steve is scheduled to preach to the Adventist believers this Sabbath. They begin their health seminars and smoking cessation programs on Sunday. Please remember to pray for them.
The Earliteen India Mission Trip leaves on Wednesday, March 19. Please remember them in your prayers as well.
Most everything else of interest you will find on the website!
God bless you,
March 7, 2014
An article I read recently caught my attention: Three fishing vessels from the same docks were lost in the North Atlantic in 13 days. All ten crew members died. Five were never found.
I Googled “most dangerous jobs” and discovered that indeed, fishing ranked second only to logging as the most risky profession in America. Despite that fact, three deadly accidents in such a short period, in close proximity is a rarity, especially when you consider some of the other details the investigation revealed. Three are noteworthy. First, none of the commercial fishing boats sank because of a damaged hull. All three vessels appeared seaworthy until they went down. Secondly, each boat was captained by seasoned veterans with over 10 years or more experience. Finally, all three ships were nearly back to port - within 15 miles of home.
So what could have caused such a tragic string of accidents? Interestingly, the investigation revealed that all three catastrophes were related to the weight and distribution of their cargo. Two vessels were carrying too much weight and, although the third was within its weight limit, its cargo was improperly stowed.
All three ships were clam boats laden with 3’x3’x4’ traps that weigh between 1 and 1.5 tons when they’re full of the hard-shelled, round clam native to the northeastern seaboard known as a quahog. Empty, each trap weighs 300 pounds. It was discovered that two of the ships were burdened with 10 traps beyond capacity. That amounts to 10 to 15 tons of excess weight! Although the third ship was not overloaded, the investigation revealed that the traps it carried had been stowed improperly. The crew had stacked full traps on top of empty ones compromising the ships stability. Ballast is a term which refers to weight carried below a ship’s waterline. Ballast brings a sailboat upright when wind pushes it contrary. With regards to the tragic clam boat accident, the ship was compromised because the load was top-heavy and the crew was not able to navigate the threatening North Atlantic storm.
So, here’s the question: Why would veteran captains who had fished these waters for years violate important nautical rules? The answer is illustrative of not only these three tragedies at sea but is reminiscent of blunders we commit in our Christian experience. “It’s common practice.” That’s how other boat captains responded to inquiries. Investigators were told that everybody in the fishing industry follows the same practices. Clam boats often return with traps overloaded and improperly stowed. As a general rule, fishermen don’t perceive these seafaring improprieties as a serious reason for concern.
Normal or not, these practices are dangerous. When seas become rough and storms bear down, excess weight and improper stowage are lethal.
The implication for Christ followers is straight forward. Unfortunately, experienced fishermen aren’t the only people who treat dangerous practices as normal. Often veteran Christians take the same kind of risks when it comes to their spiritual health and wellbeing. How often have you and I disregarded God’s command to rest and retreat from the business of life, reducing daily quite time with God to a brief prayer-on-the-run? How often have we ignored His invitation to commune with Him in Bible study and prayerful conversation because our demands were too great and our schedules too hectic? How often have we ignored the warnings of His spirit to refuse “whatever things” are impure or unlovely? (Philippians 4: 8)
While we may be able to manage ordinary activities we face day by day, the spiritual vacancy leaves us compromised and unable to face the larger storms that frequent our paths. Jesus wants to help us bear the challenges of life. The yoke He invites to wear relieves us of the overwhelming weight and cares of life. (Matthew 11:28-30) The invitation to rest in Christ also helps us to prioritize properly and reorganize life’s load. Jesus warned about the appearance temptation – looking good on the outside while being self-indulgent and decayed on the inside. (Matthew 23: 25, 26) He said that inside stuff (justice, mercy, and faith – vs. 23) is more important that tending to bright teeth, straight shoulders and a dollar for the children’s story. Those things may keep us looking great while tethered to the dock, but when we’re in open waters, where storms are frequent, only the deep, abiding, life-rearranging union with God forged daily in prayer and study, keeps us safe and sound.
I need to daily reorganize life in personal communion with Christ. I must give time and attention to the character work God’s Spirit is urging within me and obediently follow His call to rest and work. Jesus is praying and working with all of heaven’s power that I might be a seaworthy disciple. I’ve got to allow Him that privilege and allow Him to give me the spiritual ballast that will take me through life and the raging storms that inevitably accompany it.
February 28, 2014
I heard the commotion before I saw it.
It sounded like a skein of Canadian geese. As I surveyed the horizon my eyes beheld something I’ve never witnessed. A Canadian Goose in a Tree? And not just one . . . but two of them. Perched thirty feet up in a giant, motley Willow. Several more were attempting to hover, looking for a spot to join them . . . but to no avail. A couple dozen were pacing the ground below.
I stopped to look. “That can’t be!” I muttered. But it was. Canadian geese in a tree!
Knowing the scrutiny I would face if I breathed a word of this encounter to anyone, I immediately pulled out my phone and preserved the evidence.
I've included a picture to prove it. Check it out. Two geese in a Willow!
As soon as I returned home, I googled my query: “Do Canadian geese roost in trees?”
I was surprised to find that, although it’s a rare occurrence, others had witnessed the same phenomenon.
So although it was the first for me, others have occasionally observed it.
And strange it was! I’m used to seeing geese in flight. They do that beautifully. On water they appear just as graceful. The ground is more cumbersome but they manage. But a tree? I must say, it looked as ridiculous as it sounds. Two majestic, webbed-footed geese perched high in a tree . . . honking at the top of their lungs. Below, a gaggle of their cohorts in a tizzy undoubtedly because there was no room on the branch for them!
Canadian geese in a Willow. The sight appeared strange and, might I say foolish. Think of it. What’s the use of being perched 30 or 40 feet in the air . . . if you’re a goose? You can’t feed . . . or preen. Your blasting honk neither needs nor deserves a podium. And one false move and you could easily break your beautiful neck! Most birds would be right at home in such a perch . . . but not a goose.
“Get down from there, you silly goose!” I thought. Huh, maybe that’s the origin of that saying! Geese are not just light-feathered. They are also light headed. They’re more “birdbrained” than their cousins.
Then I thought of how I have, on occasion, perched myself on a Willow, honked loudly, and acted like . . . a silly goose. Have mercy! How “birdbrained” I’ve been . . . too often.
On more occasions than I care to admit I’ve been like a goose in a Willow. Proud, loud, . . . and foolish. Maybe you feel the same. The wise man said, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”(Proverbs 11: 2) As that birdbrained, Willow-perched, Canadian goose epitomized, when it comes to humans, pride is all honk and show and me. It blinds me of my true need. It refuses perspective and balance and consideration. To others it appears stupid. And to me, it is very dangerous.
God’s way, Solomon said, it to avoid those tree-top perches and honk instead in a gaggle, not on a limb. Simply said, be humble.
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