Friday, October 16, 2009

More Heat Than Light

It has been over thirty years since I opened the door to our little, two-bedroom house. The lady who had walked in kindly invited us to a Bible Study. A series of questions and answers brought several facts to the surface:

1. She was from a church whose beliefs were significantly different than ours.

2. Her church tended to think that they were the only true believers.

3. The fact that I was already a Christian, already an experienced church staff member and finishing my education toward the pastorate meant nothing. I was wrong because I wasn't a part of her brand of church.

I was incensed. I was defensive. In the end, I was rude. I showed her the door and never saw her again.

Today I'm ashamed that I got so angry and acted with such arrogance. If I met her again, I would apologize.

I thought of that lady after yesterday's post. I wondered if I might offend some of you by showing it. I tried to guess your thoughts as to why I included it in my blog.

The truth is that I am not angry at the pastor who will be burning books and Bibles on Halloween. Neither do I think it funny. I just think it's sad.

We live in a world that needs hope. They need the unconditional love which God offers through Jesus Christ. Yet, when some of them think of Christ and His followers this month...

...they will pull out a mental picture of a church burning books.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drivin' Back The Enemy!

It's rare, but I need to communicate in a different way, today...

Do you think they will want to burn this blog?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Less Than

In a perfect world, people wouldn't show up at my office to ask for financial help because they had misspent their money on things not necessary.

In a perfect world, people would not choose to be lazy, then expect others to pay for them.

On the other hand...

In a perfect world, people who have been blessed with opportunity, ingenuity, and creativity in perpetuity would not hoard their money and spend it all on themselves.


The poor would work hard.

The blessed would give generously.

Everyone would have enough.

In a perfect world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Man With The Shining Eyes

I read yesterday that Rev. Bill Watkins passed away over the weekend. Bill was almost 84 years young and had been scheduled to perform another man's funeral in a few days. I first got to know Bill in the early 1990s when we worked together on a Billy Graham associate crusade. He taught me more that he ever imagined about having a positive, loving spirit. He worked hard on that project and helped bridge the gap between otherwise disconnected churches.

Bill taught me something else he couldn't have known. I'm a bit ashamed to tell you the lesson, but I must. You see, Bill was a Presbyterian.

"So what?", you ask.

I grew up a Baptist.

Baptists were right. Therefore, we were right. Everyone else was...uh, not right!

We had the best Bible Study literature, the largest seminaries and the hugest protestant denomination in the country.

We sent out one of, if not the biggest missionary force in history.

Did I say we were right?

Everyone else -- including Presbyterians -- was suspect. If they were right, they would be Baptist.

(God, please forgive my arrogance!)

I met Bill Watkins, a man with shining eyes, a great sense of humor, a mature love for Christ and a deep well of compassion for people. He lived his sermons.

He helped open my eyes and change my heart.

I will forever be grateful to Bill. When I get to heaven, I can't wait to thank him personally!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here are the keys.

My young family was scheduled to head to the California coast for a nine-day trip which was mostly work-related. It was June and the heat rose in waves off the Interstate 10 asphalt. As we made preparations, I kept worrying about the first afternoon of travel.

Our son's last day of first grade was to end at noon and we planned to drive off across the desert in 110 degree heat. Our 8-year-old Ford station wagon had shown signs of wear and tear and I was growing concerned about it overheating. Long before cell phones, a person could get stuck out on the side of a highway for hours before someone stopped to help. I knew. It had happened to friends. One man lifted the hood of his disabled car and waited as hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of vehicles passed him on that crowded freeway.

I felt that we didn't have any choice but to leap out in faith and start the drive that last day of school. We had booked a room in San Bernardino that night and were due up in the Monterey area the next afternoon. I took care of what maintenance we could do and hoped for the best.

Those were our circumstances on Sunday, a few days before we left. Church services went on asusual that day, but afterward I was approached by Mark and Sue, a couple in our church. They asked about our trip, including a question about our old car. I told them the plan and they looked at me with smiles on their faces. "Would you accept it if we lent our our van?" Sue asked.

I was taken aback. They had a brand-new conversion van, loaded with every option you could imagine. "We want you to take it," added Mark.

A few days later, our little family climbed into a beautiful, cool, spacious van. The kids all fell asleep in the back. Cathy joined them. I set the cruise control, sipped on a large glass of iced tea and listened to the stereo as we crossed the desert.

It wasn't the last time we experienced the generosity of that wonderful couple. Mark is in heaven now, but I smile fondly when I think of his kindness to us.

I'm preaching on generosity this month at Stone Ridge. Could you help me? Tell us about someone whose generosity you have personally experienced.