Friday, November 27, 2015

"Don't Talk of Love, Show Me!"

It was Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady who said, “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.”

She saw her ne’er-do-well admirer as all talk. Eliza’s demand was appropriate; “Don’t talk of love, show me!” She sloshed through a sea of verbiage to reach the other shore.

As Christians, our hope is in Jesus Christ. The real enemy of Christianity is not militant skepticism but a pervasive philosophy of despair and materialism. Hope ought to characterize Christians. We are a people of hope. Because of the incarnation, we have tangible hope in Jesus Christ. By all counts, Israel should have been erased from the map! It survived an avalanche of empires; the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Medes, Persians and Romans. God spoke by the prophets of a hope beyond the debris of history.

Remember, you are hope personified to someone! Martin Luther said God can carve the rotten wood and ride the lame horse. What does that mean? God chooses to use the likes of us in his redemptive program.

Christmas is almost on us. God knew that the best way to send guides was to wrap it in a person. In Jesus Christ, God was flesh; seen, heard, touched and hugged. In our hi-tech world there is a huge need for hi-touch. There is no substitute for that personal touch. Our hope is not in human achievement, goodness, institutions, government, or human systems. Our hope is about God’s redemptive program established in Jesus Christ.


Friday, November 20, 2015

"Love In Action"

When a wedding is portrayed in a movie, inevitably I Corinthians 13 is read. You know that passage; “Love is patient and kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 

When I reached 1300 weddings over which I presided, I quit counting! I enjoy doing weddings.  Something always happens that makes each wedding unique and memorable. Yes, I enjoy reading from I Corinthians 13, the love chapter, at weddings. It has taught me four important truths:
1.       Love is essential, not optional.
2.       Love is a demonstration, not an inclination.
3.       Love is a magnet that draws us together, not a wall that keeps us apart.
4.       Love is a long-term investment, not a quick return loan.

One other insight regarding I Corinthian 13: This chapter is not a definition of love but rather a description of love in action.


Friday, November 13, 2015

"Occupationally Frustrated"

The Presbyterians ordained me for Christian ministry in 1967. For the past forty-eight years, I have had the privilege of serving eight congregations from New York to California. I am still at it.  Yes, I love it. I am privileged to share the message of hope in Jesus Christ.

Do I ever get discouraged? Of course I do. There are plenty of tough times, tough circumstances, and tough people. Fifteen-hundred pastors leave the ministry every month due to burnout, contention or moral failure. That is a big number when you realize there are only 350,000 pastors in America.

George Barna says, “Pastors are the most occupationally frustrated people in America.” Why is that?  The expectations imposed on a pastor are often unrealistic. A pastor is expected to be theologian, counselor, prophet, priest, administrator, fundraiser, worship leader, welfare dispenser, teacher, recruiter, preacher and community catalyst. No wonder ninety percent of pastors feel that they were not adequately trained to cope with ministry demands.

Pastors are supposed to be dispensers of grace. Not all pastors are receivers, as well. Maybe that is part of the reason seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.

Every congregation has leaders, followers, comics and critics. That’s why every day I work at replenishing my well of grace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Use Sunscreen"

I fell in love with snow skiing as a boy growing up in Ottawa, Ontario. Sunscreen was not on my radar. I didn’t use it. Nobody did. Today I am paying the price for my ignorance.

For many years, I have battled with basal cell carcinomas. On numerous occasions I have undergone the Mohs procedure. The goal of the procedure is to remove the skin cancer totally while minimizing the amount of normal noncancerous skin removed in the process.

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Marc Carruth did a Mohs procedure on my right ear. No Fun! He removed the cancerous tissue. It took two tries! Then he had to transfer some clean tissue from behind my ear to cover the wound. Uncomfortable? Yes! Thankfully, there are highly trained physicians like Dr. Carruth available to us. Their education covers dermatology and pathology plus substantial experience in reconstructive surgery.

The message?  
1.  Use that sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. 
2.  Limit your exposure to the sun.
3. Love your dermatologist!