Driving west on I-80 in Iowa, we followed another car for about half an hour before we both exited for the rest stop. Gesturing at road signs, the passengers shot looks at each other several times, but I thought nothing of it. After using the facilities, my wife and I observed the foursome huddled around the map with bold red “you are here” arrow, arguing among themselves. The driver stopped me to ask for directions, explaining they’d come from Davenport and were on their way to Peoria, where in less than an hour, the girl was scheduled to open an important social event as Queen. “Oh my”, I replied; “Peoria is about 3 hours back that-a-way”.
So how does a driver miss the mile markers posted every mile or the large green and white traffic signs that count down the miles to the next city or interchange? You’d think that first sign “Iowa City 40 miles” would have told the driver they were headed in the wrong direction. Surely “Iowa City 30 miles” would have Continue reading
NOTE: This article is a follow up to the article Deacons? What were the apostles thinking?
The Strange Fishing Dream occurred 10-15 years ago and with the help of friends, the understanding seemed clear. Not long after, I had another fishing dream, forgotten until the Lord brought it to mind today and helped me to see the meaning.
From the window of a vacant industrial building on a pier over the Puget Sound, I was fishing and hooked a big fish, the size of a cow. Somehow I managed to reel it in on a pole much too small for the job, lifted it out of the water, pulled it through the window and placed it on what looked like a boat cradle. I don’t remember that the fish weighed anything.
It was a funny looking fish, with a rounded boxy shape and unlike anything I’d ever seen come out of the Puget Sound. It was bloated looking, smooth skinned and had a pleasant but dumb looking expression on its face. Continue reading
Before retiring a few years ago, I was an auditor and analyst. A successful auditor requires a well developed nose for error, i.e., we’re a suspicious lot, but hopefully not to the point of paranoia. Likewise, a good analyst is all about the facts and data. So I suppose it was only natural that my suspicions together with my need for fact-based truth, would compel me to sit down with a large stack of church bulletins spanning several years of worship services, to inventory and analyze the many scriptures that were read for the sermon. My “gut” strongly suspected us pew-warmers were not getting the whole story and so I set out to confirm my suspicions.
It was quickly apparent that the same scriptures were read year after year in the weeks preceding Passover, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas, while entire books and chapters of scripture were never read at all. The first time I attempted such an investigation back in the early 80’s, I discovered that the pastor read just 10 verses of scripture on average, before giving his sermon. A few minutes of number crunching demonstrated it would take almost 60 years** to preach through the Bible at that rate, assuming no scriptures were ever repeated. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; “how anal” and I don’t deny that. It’s just one of those things us analyst and auditor types do for fun when we’re not digging through the freezer to sort TV dinners in order of the “best used by” date. Suffice it to say, the exercise showed me IF I wanted to know what was in the Bible, I would have to read it for myself. Continue reading
BIBLE TRUTH: God does NOT live in temples (houses) made by hands (men) (Isaiah 66:1-2, Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24, Matthew 23:38).
BUT! Come worship God in our man-made temple every Sunday morning!
BIBLE TRUTH: We are temples (houses) of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 1 Peter 2:5, Ephesians 2:22).
BUT! Our church building is the house of God!
BIBLE TRUTH: We are Sons of God (John 1:12-13, Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:1, Revelation 1:7) and the Sons are FREE (Matthew 17:26) from paying taxes to build and maintain a man-made temple (Matthew 17:24-25).
BUT! Give to our church building and maintenance fund through your tithes and offerings!
BIBLE TRUTH: Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4:14, 1 Timothy 2:5) and we are priests before God in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:5 and :9, Revelation 1:6).
BUT! Our pastor is the priest! We are the laity. Continue reading
My outlook has changed from one of striving to do works and looking for God’s approval after the fact to one of resting in Christ and trusting the Holy Spirit to direct me in concert with God’s work. It is not unlike Peter who fished all day and caught nothing, who at the end of the day followed Jesus’ instructions and hauled in an huge catch. The former was Peter’s effort without Christ’s direction, the latter was Christ’s doing through Peter’s obedience. The lesson in that? Action without direction is fruitless.
One way I see things differently now, is through the gardening metaphor so often used in scripture. Working in my vegetable garden Continue reading
For 18 months I applied myself to various church jobs, hoping to spark something, anything, that resembled revival. Yet it seemed the harder I worked, the worse the situation became. Finally the Lord said to me:
Get out of the way and let it fail.
His words blew me away. In fact, I questioned whether or not it was the Lord speaking to me since I felt it was blasphemous to suggest that the church should fail. But the Lord showed me the church was not a building, nor the religious institution with all its programs most people identify as the church, but simply the children of God coming together as family to live in community with God and one another. The Lord went on to speak to me about building on sand and that He is doing as He has always done: sending wind, rain and waves to test our houses for whether or not we’ve built on the Rock. Continue reading