Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Do You Remember Phil Donahue?"

Do you remember Phil Donahue? He was a big personality on CBS and very popular. Years ago, CBS got a scoop on a mine disaster. It was cold, late at night, and plenty of snow blowing around. At the minehead were gathered many friends and relatives of the trapped miners. They huddled around smudge pots that gave off feeble heat.

Somebody started to sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  The crowd joined in. It was emotional. Fears and tears were all too common. “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

A local pastor stepped to the front of the ragged circle and began to pray. The prayer surged from his mind and his spirit. Aesthetically, it was beautiful! Emotionally, it was profoundly moving. Phil Donahue said he had goose bumps, not from the cold, but from the emotion of the moment.
Donahue and his crew tried to capture that moment. However, the camera batteries failed. When they finally got the camera working, Donahue asked the pastor if he would do his prayer again. It would reach 260 stations – millions would hear the pastor’s prayer. The pastor refused!  “I have already prayed to God and to do it again for TV would be wrong.”

Donahue pleaded with the country preacher. No, was the answer. It was a demonstration of moral courage. The man would not show biz for Jesus! He refused to sell his integrity for TV, not even national TV, not even for CBS. Praise the Lord!


Monday, February 20, 2017

"That Country Song"

I can’t get that country song out of my mind.
                God is great!
                                Beer is good!
                                                People are crazy!

In the first century, Corinth was a hotbed of hedonism and materialism. Above the city, at 1200 feet, was the Temple of Aphrodite. At night torches lit the path up to the Temple where allegedly prostitution prevailed. Drunkenness and debauchery were in Corinth’s label.

The Apostle Paul felt that if Christianity could take root in Corinth, it could take root anywhere.  Paul, with his tent-making skills, showed up around AD 50. For two years he shared the gospel of Christ. A church was formed. However, it was not only an amazing mix of people, but also a mess! He had to emphasize that the believer’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, not a vehicle for the satisfaction of lust.

The New York Times says that our busyness is self-imposed. We are loaded with ambition, anxiety, and drive. We are addicted to busyness because we dread what we might have to face in its absence.  That’s where the country song cuts in.

Effective love is rarely efficient. People take time. Relationships do get messy. Repairs are needed on occasion. Humility is required. Forgiveness is a choice.

What sustains me is the knowledge that in Jesus Christ, I am loved passionately, personally, and powerfully. How do I know that? My benchmark is the cross of Calvary.


Friday, February 10, 2017

"The Love of Christ"

In the Roman Empire, the crudest form of capital punishment was the crucifixion. It was reserved for murderers, slaves that revolted, and other heinous crimes. Roman citizens were beheaded for crimes but not crucified. Jews shared the Roman revulsion to crucifixion.

Jesus, the son of God, was crucified. Even nature convulsed at that. You remember, the ground shook, the rocks cracked open, and the sky went black. It was as if an arrow pierced the heart of hope. The derision of the crowd must have been deafening, “He saved others. Now let’s see him save himself.”

C.S. Lewis said, “The crucifixion did not become common in art until all who had seen a real one died off.”

Instead of making a spectacle of relief, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Was that a prayer for himself?  No. It was a prayer for all abusers, doubters, mockers and persecutors. It covers us to this day. In that moment on Calvary, the balance of power shifted because of this one that absorbed all evil, past, present and future.

The love of Christ does not neglect sin nor merely condemns it, but finds redemption for it.  Corinthians 5:19 has it, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

That suggests to me that Christ dealt with all those hurts you don’t deserve.


Friday, February 3, 2017

"God Knows My Name"

The Bible affirms that we are made in the image of God. What does that mean? As I look around at other human beings, I wonder what happened to the image of God. It sure looks tarnished to me. To be made in the image of God suggests that we inherently have some gifts such as; will, self-transcendence, choice, and reason.

Those gifts suggest we live not by impulse, coercion or instinct. We live by choice that implies the ability to make moral decisions. Maybe the greatest gift we have is that of choice? The bottom line is we are free and accountable. Before God, we have a sense of responsibility that pertains to all of life’s moral decisions.

Isaiah 43:1 is so personal, “Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

We are not just set free on a sea of heredity to do as we please or respond to any impulse. All life is a gift of God. Could it really be that Almighty God really does know us and still loves us?

To me, this suggests that our worth is not determined by our grades, bank accounts, looks, power, notoriety or usefulness to society. God calls us precious because we exists by the will and purpose of God. I am so relieved to know that God knows my name.