Archive for February, 2010

The Fine Print

The beaming faces spoke about great successes.  “$1000 in one month.”  “$700 my first day!”  “$4000 and I only worked part-time.”  The infomercial featured a book and program that promised to provide make big money from the comfort of your home by advertising online.  However, below those big smiles was the fine print.
“In a poll of those who bought the book, the majority of people did not read the book or apply it.  Most did not make any money.”
Surprisingly truthful. 
As I read the disclaimer, I wondered if that also could be said about believers in Christ.  We have the book that offers eternal life.  God’s Word outlines how to gain victory over temptation and sin.  The Proverbs of Solomon overflow with practical advice for every area of life.  The New Testament epistles are rich with theological instruction.  Yet, even the Bible is of little value to someone who lets it rest undisturbed on the shelf. 
The test of our Christian walk is obedience to God’s Word.  This requires us first to become students of the book.  More than just breezing through a chapter, we should give thoughtful consideration to what we read.  The Psalmist even encourages us to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2).  Even better is to memorize Scripture so that we can draw on it’s power at any time.  Finally, our study of the Bible should always produce practical application.  
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22  

It’s not enough simply to own a Bible.  We must live a life that accurately reflects it.  Our goal should be to maintain a testimony that doesn’t need any disclaimers.

Many Members, One Body

I cut my finger last night. I am not sure exactly how it happened (likely in a fit of excited clapping and cheering just before halftime). I didn’t even notice it until I saw the blood on my hand, jacket, and face. Somehow my fingertip just split.

The cut may be only ½ inch in length. It’s not especially painful. In a day or two I will forget all about it, but right now it is quite noticeable. That is because I have been trying to work this morning, and that includes typing with a Band-Aid on my right ring finger. While that may not seem like a huge hindrance, I am suddenly aware of how many words contain the letters “p”, “o”, and “l”. What did I ever do before “spellcheck?”

I was reminded of the biblical teaching that believers are members of one body. The apostle Paul stated:
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: [5] So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Romans 12:4-5

Adding to that thought, he reminds us that every part is important. The head cannot say to the feet, “I have no need for you” (1 Cor. 12:21). The same thing is true for the eyes, ears, hands, or any other member. Likewise, no part should feel unimportant or unnecessary. Every member has its place in the body. All are needed. All are useful for specific purposes. Even a fingertip can affect your productivity.

He has placed believers in the body to fulfill our purpose. Our goal as individuals in the church is to use our gifts for the benefit and growth of others. When we are absent or inactive, the body suffers. It is a noticeable hindrance. We are most useful when we discover our place and serve as God directs us. We discover spiritual growth in our own lives and build up others at the same time

Everyday Greatness

The legendary coach Tom Landry once said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” (Perhaps that should be printed on my gym membership card!)

Great accomplishments are often achieved by tackling the simple things that we avoid because they seem too hard or unpleasant. In fact, success is often found by doing the things that other people neglect. This requires the personal discipline to respond to all of life’s challenges and demands.

The wise king Solomon offered extremely practical advice regarding our efforts:

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Proverbs 10:4

Sure, there are days when you don’t feel like doing all that is expected of you. Rather than view all of life’s demands as a huge beast ready to swallow you up, separate them into manageable tasks. Undertaking them one-by-one will give you a taste of victory.

Spiritual discipline and success follows a similar pattern. Doing great things for God is often the result of faithful obedience in the ordinary things to which He calls us. Every day presents opportunities to think, speak, and act in a way that pleases the Lord. Remember that He is always committed to rewarding the consistent obedience of His children.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Super Sundays

One of the storylines coming out of this week’s Super Bowl hype is the Focus on the Family ad featuring Tim Tebow. The underlying story is that his mother rejected advice to have an abortion and delivered a healthy future quarterback. Certainly, that is not always the comforting outcome for every family’s situation. However, the message is that God is always in control and human life is precious, no matter the outcome.

The cultural discussion has centered on whether it is proper, or even tolerable, to broadcast this 30-second ad. Never mind that there will be more than 30 minutes of commercials during the game, including a variety of beer commercials and others filled with risqué themes and not-so-subtle innuendo. This week USA Today published a debate about whether the ad should even be allowed to air during the game. Writer Michael McCarthy pleaded, “Can’t we enjoy family, friends and football on our unofficial national holiday without debating abortion?”

I enjoy football, but struggle with the elevation of this event, or others like it, to such a level of reverence. Don’t forget the origin of the word “holiday” is a holy day, an occasion to recognize a significant spiritual event. Apparently, the sanctity of the day will not be spoiled by commercials featuring animated squirrels and a “little people KISS tribute band.”

I’m thankful that we have a compelling reason to recognize the first day of every week with special significance. The Gospel writer records the account this way:

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher…And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke 24:1-3

This Sunday I want to remember the reason that believers gather to study, worship, and celebrate. God loved us and sent His Son, the risen Savior. Long after I forget the score of this week’s game, I will still have a purpose for living and an eternal hope.