Sunday, May 25, 2008

Honoring Our Fallen

This weekend as a country, the United States of America, has set aside a time where we remember those who have fallen in the defense of our country. Unfortunately instead as a country have made it a holiday where we are more interested in celebrating the unofficial beginning of summer. Where we concentrate on grilling, opening our pools, taking our motor homes out to the lake, and getting our boats in the water.

I want to take a minute to thank those families both past and present who gave us their sons and daughters to serve in our armed forces and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in defending our country.

Thank you for the ultimate gift!

One of my best friends is a chaplain in a VA home in Illinois. He is charged with the spiritual welfare of those men and women who faithfully served our country and who are now in need of physical care. We are a country who takes care of our wounded, sometimes not as well as we could, but usually better then the church does.

I read with interest this week the response that a church gave to the arrest of one of their ministers. This church is considered a mega church with over 40 ministers on staff and one of them attempted to arrange a “date” with a n underage girl on line. When he showed up for his assignation he discovered that the girl was in fact a police officer.

He was arrested and the church promptly fired him (as they should have) All of the interviews that the church gave out would have been considered politically correct. Concern for the flock, concern for the community reaction and condemnation of the fallen minister.

What I did not hear was concern for the fallen minister and any concern for his restoration.

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Now in all fairness neither you nor I know what is going on behind closed doors. So the church should be given the benefit of the doubt. But it would not surprise me if this man were simply cut loose and condemned to Protestant purgatory for his failings. I don’t know if he could or ever should be placed back into the ministry, but I’m sure that God has not abandoned him and neither should his congregation.

Christians have often been guilty of being the only army that shoots their wounded. This weekend as we “celebrate” Memorial Day, lets remember that we are to bind up the wounded and help to heal the broken hearted.

Pass me another hamburger,

Dr. Val

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring Cleanup

As many of you know I have spent the last month preparing my house to put it on the market. I have accepted a senior pastor position in Trenton IL about 30 miles east of St Louis. And I am getting ready to move in a couple of months.

The spring is a traditional time for us to catch up on neglected projects from the winter (and for some of us ignored projects from years and years of neglect).

For the last four weeks, I’ve built a new fence and gate on the north side of the house, helped my wife spread 6 cubic yards of mulch and re-stain the deck (she really did most of the work). I laid a new floor in the front foyer, kitchen, breakfast nook, back hallway, half bath, and laundry room. I’ve also had to install a new toilet and replace a number of valves and calk the main bathroom. I though I had fixed everything there was to fix in this home and had called to have a real estate agent out to view the house and put it on the market. Unfortunately, the agent was unable to make our appointment due to a family loss and we rescheduled.

The next day I was looking at my breakfast nook ceiling and noticed a wet spot on the ceiling. I can tell you that wet spots on the ceilings bode no good. I went upstairs to check the main bathroom and found that the valve on the toilet had gone bad. So this weekend instead relaxing and enjoying the fruits of my labors I was replacing the valve, calking some more places and repainting the nook’s ceiling.

I was not real happy about my “extra” labor but I realized that I had a tendency to treat my Christian life like my house. I worked really hard to get it in shape and then wanted to sit back and relax for the next 5, 10 or even 20 years and do nothing. In the mean time the house was quickly falling into disrepair. Instead I need to set aside some time to do maintenance on a regular basis. I also need to schedule regular maintenance in my Christian life as well. Checking the foundation, the outside and the inside and then repairing the problems that develops from daily wear-and-tear.

How about you? Have you done a walk around to see how your Christian life is doing? Are there things that you need to repair and refresh? How has your time with God been going? Are you spending time communing with Him? Do you need to reprioritize your schedule?

I think I’m about caught up on the neglected repairs, but now I need to concentrate on some daily maintenance. Maybe you need to rework your schedule, too.

Handyman Val

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Missing An Important Holiday

Have you ever forgotten an important event? I did one time. A number of years ago I remembered that my parents were celebrating they anniversary. I had planned to call them that day but forgot until the next day, it was cool conversation, to say the least.

As a follower of Christ, many Christians also forget every year to commemorate a very important date as well. In fact most evangelical Christians neglect one of the most important days of the year.

The birthday of the Church! Pentecost Sunday.

Perhaps in America we don’t celebrate it because it often interferes with a civil religious holiday – Mother’s Day. (This year specifically Mother’s Day and Pentecost are actually on the same day, May 11th, 2008.) Now I’m not saying that we should not honor our mothers, but isn’t interesting that as followers of Christ we choose to honor one and neglect the other. But it seems possible to do both if we tried really hard.

Perhaps we disregard our birthday because one or two specific tribes have chosen to rally their tribes around a name and the rest of the tribes are fearful to be associated with these tribes.

Perhaps we are just ignorant of our past and don’t remember the story of our birth. If you would like to check it out you can find the story recounted in the New Testament of the Bible in the book The Acts of the Apostles in chapter two.

The birth was a big event. There was wind, lots of noise and fire and people talking in all sorts of languages and people shouting and praying and becoming followers of Christ. What started with 120 people in a room on an upper floor of a house (although there were over 500 believers according to the author Paul in his book 1 Corinthians) soon became a movement with over 3000 pushing 4000 people. All of these people were born into the Church Family on a single day in a single place and time.

Perhaps the leadership of our churches just don’t care. I’ve talked with a few that don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I suggest to those of you in this camp try neglecting important family days in your house and see what happens. Try neglecting your spouse’s birthday or your anniversary or one of your kids’ birthdays and gage their reaction and then tell me that celebrating important dates and events aren’t important.

So this weekend while you are out with Mom at dinner -

- don’t forget to wish the Church a Happy Birthday!

(She’s not looking to bad for being almost 2000 years old!)


Dr. Val

Friday, May 2, 2008

It’s All The Same

I have been reading through the second book of the Bible, the book of Exodus. This is the story of the struggle for freedom and the journey of faith towards the land promised by God to the nation of Israel.

While there are many things this ancient book teaches us the one thing that has make an impact on in my thinking is the variety of topics that God covers with Moses when giving Moses the Law.

God states The Commandments (By the way if you haven’t read them in a while I suggest that you re-read them I was surprised by the depth of some of the commandments. We tend to shorten them up a bit and lose some of the details when we list them that way) and then God does the strangest thing. He goes from discussing Ten Commandments to discussing employer-employee relationships, personal property issues, relationships with neighbors and then back to our relationship with God Himself.

If I had been composing this list of laws I would have cataloged them and listed them by topic. (You know God, people, things, etc.) But it dawned on me that God had a reason why He listed the laws the way He did. He was pointing out that all of the issues addressed in the Law are all interrelated and connected to Him. It’s all about Him and not about us. There is no difference between the secular and the sacred. For God it’s all the same thing – Sacred!

So today just remember that everything that we do, think and feel are all related to how we are responding to God and His creation!

Dr Val