This past week has been a tough one for my family…especially the four legged members.
Anyway, apparently Shadow and Gabriel have both seen moves before…and been hurt by them. Ever since we started packing things in boxes, they have both seemed concerned.
When they came out of Rachel’s room into a nearly empty house on Tuesday, then saw their “humans” sleeping on air mattresses that night they knew something was not right.
Wednesday we drove to Searcy and they didn’t know what to think about the new house. When the girls left to go to their apartment and Shadow stayed with us, well, let’s just say he didn’t want to go to sleep Wednesday night (despite knowing he is not allowed on our bed, he jumped up and plopped right in the middle of it! We finally got him into his kennel, though.)
But it started getting “real” for Shadow and Gabriel last Sunday. On Sunday Monica took Princeton to a lady who had already found him a new home in Kansas – the state, not Oklahoma community (our landlord was gracious enough to allow Shadow to come with us, despite a “no pets” policy he’d had in the past…we felt we’d be pushing it to ask to keep Princeton).
Sunday afternoon, when we packed up Princeton’s kennel, toys, food, etc and Monica and Rachel took only him for a car ride…they knew something was up. I guess that might have been how they ended up in shelters before coming to live with us.
I had to copy they DVD’s of last Sunday’s service, and when we got into our van to head to the church building, Gabriel was running all around, whimpering, and seemed very worried (I don’t know if he thought we were going to drop him off somewhere or if he was concerned about Princeton…his “big, little brother”).
I want to think it was the later. He knew that a member of our family was going somewhere that we would never see him again…and he was concerned.
After taking the DVD’s to Charlie, we had to go to Walgreens to get a prescription and Walgreens gives puppies who come with their humans a treat. Once Gabriel had a treat, it seemed he forgot all about what was concerning him before and he was “back to normal.”
How often are we like that? We see a “brother” (or “sister”) in Christ headed down a road that we know ends with us never seeing them again. For a little bit, we act concerned, but then we find a “treat” and get distracted and never really give that brother or sister much thought at all.
Luke 15 contains three parables that show how much each one of us means to Jesus…even those who have left and we think we’ll never see them again. Jesus cares enough to go out and search for the lost (including the wayward Christian).
It’s strange how ideas pop up in the most peculiar places. It has been “forever” since I watched the movie “Beauty and the Beast” or even since I heard the fairytale...but I was thinking about it the other day.
At the start of the story, an ugly and elderly woman approaches a castle seeking help. When the master of the castle turns her away, she transforms into a beautiful and young woman. When the master attempts to back track and allow her to come into his home, she says he had made his decision and it could not be reversed.
She then gives him a rose and announces that he has to learn to love despite outward appearances by the time the last petal falls from the rose or the transformation would be permanent. And with that a curse falls on his castle.
The once bright castle transforms into a dark castle. His servants are changed into animated inanimate objects that reflect their job in the castle. And the master is changed into a horrible looking beast.
The question I have for you is this: is this fair?
Is it fair that, due to a choice made by the master, the servants were changed into teapots and clocks and candlesticks and foot rests and, well, you get the point?
Is it fair that they would be stuck in this condition “forever” if the master/beast did not learn to love?
Is it fair that the old/young woman doesn’t give the master a chance to change his mind?
In answer to all these questions, I would have to say no, it is not fair. But then again life is often not fair.
Sometimes we only get one opportunity to “get it right.” If we blow it, the consequences could last “forever.”
Strange as it may sound, the choices that we make can and do influence those around us...particularly those who are closest to us.
For example, you have a good friend who is not a Christian. You are presented with an opportunity to share the gospel with them...but you don’t. Then something happens and, for whatever reason, you never get another opportunity to speak to them ever again.
Every day we make choices that not only impact ourselves, but also those around us. We need to be aware of this and make sure the choices we make are the right choices...because “forever” may hang in the balance for us and those around us.
A couple of mornings ago, at 12:58 AM, my phone made a sound like it does when the doorbell at the church is rang. Naturally, I was asleep. Because of my job, when my phone makes noises in the middle of the night, I wake up and the adrenaline kicks in...I can’t just ignore it and go back to sleep.
So I picked up my phone and opened the Ring app. It didn’t show any new rings or motion alerts since late that afternoon. So I checked the security cameras and, long story short (too late!), nobody was around the building.
It turns out that the doorbell was letting me know that the battery was only at 22% charge and needed to be charged soon! Ugh! But, as I mentioned, adrenaline had kicked in and, try as I might, I could not go back to sleep. Around 3:00 AM, I decided to see if watching an old movie would help me get back to sleep...so I went to the living room and started watching “Back to the Future” (I hate the fact that I just called a movie released when I was a junior in high school “old”).
As I watched I noticed something I don’t think I had noticed all the times I had watched the movie in the past. When Marty goes back to 1955, he crashes into the Peabody’s barn. When the Peabody family comes out to investigate, the father sees the DeLorean and says it must be an “aero-plane”! The son quickly corrects his father by saying, “That ain’t no aero-plane, look,” and shows his dad the cover of a comic book with a spaceship and aliens on it. Marty gets out of the car in a radiation suit and everybody screams.
The family runs out and, when Marty steps out of the barn without the radiation mask on, the boy tells his father, “Shoot it! Its already mutating into human form!” His father then proceeds to empty his shotgun in Marty’s general direction.
This made me start to think (lengthening my insomnia) about so many things today. So often we react before we know all the facts. We hear about something that happened and react before all the details are known.
Sometimes it is the one who “knows” and is telling others about it who desires a specific reaction, from those others...and often gets the desired response because those others don’t want to wait for all the facts to be discovered.
With social media being such a big part of our lives today, many times “news” items spread quickly...before all the facts come out. People get upset and say and, sometimes, do things that they may regret later.
In Acts 17:11 we are told the Bereans were excited by Paul’s message of the gospel, but that they examined the Scriptures daily to make sure it was the truth.
Perhaps it would do us all good if, when we hear about something in “real time” that happened, we take a step back and wait for all the facts to be unveiled before we offer our opinion...to make sure it is the truth!
This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day set aside to honor dear old dad. A day when gifts and hugs are given freely. A day when we treat our dads like they should be treated all year.
It is a day that takes on even more meaning when your dad is no longer with you. This is my third such Father’s Day and, well, let’s just say there are times when I just miss my Dad.
I was blessed to have one of the all-time great Dads in history (I won’t say he was the greatest, because I don’t want to start an argument, but he was!). He set an exceptional example of what a father is supposed to be.
Unfortunately for many children, their father is no longer with them, not because he passed away but because he chooses not to be with them. He either walked away from his wife and children or, well, he walked away because he and the mother were never married and her getting pregnant just doesn’t fit with his plan.
Either way and for whatever “reasons” most of the time these children miss out on something very special...a relationship with their father (there are a few exceptions to every rule, though).
My heart aches for these children. Children who will never experience the joy of having a father who loves them and would do just about anything for them...or can they?
This Sunday is Father’s Day, but in all truth, EVERY Sunday is Father’s Day (and every other day for that matter). No matter how good or bad or absent their earthly father is, they have a Heavenly Father who loves them so much that He sent His One and Only Son to earth to die for them.
So on this Father’s Day, I urge you to spend some time thinking about those children whose earthly father has failed them. Then take some action to make sure those children know that they have a Heavenly Father who will NEVER fail them!
A few months ago, or it may have been a few years ago, I told you about acquiring one of those round vacuums that finds its way around the house picking up stuff.
Well, we recently remembered that we had this wonderful device (we’d put it away at Christmas and, well, just hadn’t gotten it back out). So, we put it on its charger and everything seemed to be fine.
Then we tried to get it to work. We pressed the start button and...nothing. So a little while later, being the mechanically gifted person that I am, I took my screwdriver and started unscrewing things.
The first thing I unscrewed turned out to be a part of the waste storage (yes, I had emptied it before...but there were a couple of screws so…). It turns out “Bob” as we call it, because the company named it “Bob”, had inhaled a small piece of quarter round (no, we hadn’t noticed it was missing).
I figured that had to be the problem. So I tightened the screws and...nothing.
So I started unscrewing more screws. I’d take about 5 out and was trying to get the thing apart when I saw something I had forgotten about. On the side was a little switch that said “on/off” and it was in the “off” position.
I put all the screws back in and, would you believe it, when I flipped the switch to on...it worked perfectly!
It’s so strange: the solution was right there in front of me. All I needed to do was look...but instead I decided to pursue a more complicated solution - that might have actually made the problem worse if I’d kept on trying!
So often, in life, when we face problems, we immediately start looking for the complex solution...a process that, at times, does make our problems worse.
What we really need to do is simply look for the simple solution. Often times that simple solution is right in front of us: in black and white and (sometimes) red.
God created us. He is fully aware of the problems and trials that we face. Fortunately He has provided us with the simple solutions. All we need to do is read them and learn from them.
Lean on God; listen to God; learn from God.
Epilogue: What I learned from “Bob” this week is that there is no problem that is so simple that it cannot be made more complex by me wielding a screwdriver!
Those who seem to know about things are telling us that we need to just accept a “new normal” because of the COVID-19 virus. That this “new normal” involves things like social distancing, wearing a face covering of some sort, and very limited physical contact (if any at all) with those outside of your immediate family.
They say that if you don’t abide by these “new normal” standards then you are being selfish. One person I know on social media even said you were not being a Christian if you don’t just accept these new rules for what is “normal.”
I don’t think so! First, there may be some changes to how we do things, but there is really nothing new about change.
In the beginning God spoke directly to the patriarch of the family. Then God spoke directly to Moses and provided a “new” law for His people. Then God communicated with priests, then prophets, and, finally, He sent Jesus.
Once Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He gave His disciples a commission, a Great Commission. He told them to tell everyone everywhere the saving message of the gospel.
So the disciples started in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth to tell others about God’s love for them. A few wrote biographies of Jesus’ life, several wrote letters that have been preserved for us that communicates God’s will for our lives.
So what is my point? That change is nothing new. While God Himself has never changed, He did change the way He revealed His will for mankind. So we can change the way we interact with each other.
While some of the more “extreme” changes will hopefully not last (like the frowning upon even a handshake as too much “physical contact”), perhaps these momentary changes to our “normal” will help us in a lasting way, that will make “normal” better.
Maybe we’ll hold that handshake or hug a little longer...perhaps it will be a little more sincere even. Maybe we’ll not take assembling together for worship for granted. Maybe we’ll enjoy fellowship outside of our assembly times more often. Maybe we’ll start to look for reasons to come together with our Christian family, rather than using any and every excuse to stay apart.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll understand and appreciate the urgency of Jesus’ commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations...maybe even making disciples in our own neighborhood!
Let me start by thanking those of you who complimented this past Sunday’s “memorial” service. I do hope that we will recall the lesson on future Sundays as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
I had been thinking about tinkering with the order of our worship service for a while...well, since about the third week we were online. Maybe putting the shepherd’s prayer first or changing the order of the songs or even putting the sermon before the Lord’s Supper.
This last reordering was, perhaps, the most appealing to me. If you watch the service on YouTube, you can see the number of devices that are watching at any given time (there’s a little person profile with a number by it).
I’ve noticed that the number consistently drops by 2-4 devices immediately following the Lord’s Supper. It’s kind of like people getting up and walking out of the services after communion, before I preach my sermon. I understand that sometimes circumstances necessitate leaving services early...but 2-4 “devices” every week is a little odd.
Now, before you think “Big Brother Carl” is watching you, YouTube doesn’t say who is watching, just how many, which is why I encourage those who watch to say “hi” in the live chat. But the real reason I’m saying this is...
The second most “popular” response to this past Sunday that I have heard was, “I thought you had forgotten communion.”
Sometimes change is good for us. Changing the order of service might cause some to pay closer attention. It might “force” some to stay for the whole service and discover that there is, in fact, more to worship than just the Lord’s Supper: the singing, the praying, the giving, and even the sermon can be a very encouraging and uplifting time.
Maybe the 2-4 devices that “leave” after communion are visitors (people with no affiliation to our congregation who “stumbled” upon our YouTube channel, and thought it was something else, so they leave). Maybe they are regular members at Eastgate.
I’m telling you this because, well, I might go ahead and change the order this Sunday, just to watch the “analytics”. Or I might keep them the same, because I’ve noticed friends from other places tuning in just in time for the sermon (they comment on the live chat, that’s how I know they are watching).
Every act of worship is important. I encourage you to take part in all of them...even online!
Maybe it is just me, but I’m a little confused. There is all this talk about churches “reopening.” As I said, it’s a little confusing, at least to me.
And, before anyone gets upset, yes, I too have talked about when we were going to reopen. But then I thought about it. “Reopen” implies that there was a time when we were, well, not open...in other words there was a time when the church was closed.
While I cannot speak for other places, the Eastgate church of Christ has not been closed. We have continued to be “open” for business throughout this period in time.
We have had people stop by seeking help...we have helped them.
We have had many of our members calling other members to check on them.
We have had many of our members doing “little things” that have provided big encouragement to others.
We have produced “full length” worship services that were viewed online...perhaps by more people than were attending when we last met together.
We have produced a Wednesday night Bible lesson that, in my own opinion, is not too bad.
We have continued to do everything that we would do back when things were “normal”, with one exception.
That exception is that we are not meeting in person. Thus, some would say, we are “closed.”
But can the church really close? I suppose if a congregation suspended operations, then it could be said that it was closed. But if we are just not meeting together in person, are we closed? And even if a congregation ceases operations, is it really “closed.”
Not a chance! The church cannot be closed, because the church is not a building it is people!
I look forward to the day when we reo...no, when we restart meeting in person!
For those of you without Facebook, you may not know that on April 27, Monica had to go to the dentist. She ended up having to have a tooth pulled, which is never any fun.
Well, on her drive home things got even more “fun” as a truck (either that she was behind or that was heading the opposite direction) lost a large rock or a mass of mud that hit the ground and then hit the car Monica was driving.
All she noticed was a smudge of mud on the windshield, so she kept on driving. When she got home, she got out of the car to see that the driver’s side front end was significantly damaged. It looked like this: (the picture under this article).
Well, we called the insurance people, then took it to a local body shop. They told me she was “lucky” not to be injured or worse, based on where the mass hit and that it didn’t go into the windshield. I don’t think “luck” had anything to do with it...God was watching out for her.
Eight days later, we got the car back and it was in incredible shape. It had a new front end and, well, a new car feel and even new car smell to it. They had even vacuumed the interior and there was not a trace of dog hair, which is truly amazing!
So I started thinking about how messed up the car was, but, when we turned it over to someone who knew what they were doing and placed the car in their care...the car came back good as new.
Such is life. We mess our lives up so bad. Sometimes it is our fault, other times...well...we just couldn’t dodge the obstacle coming at us and it hits us.
The world tells you that it knows how to fix things and offers items that, in the end, actually make our lives an even bigger wreck.
The thing to do is simple: turn our lives over to the One who knows what He is doing. We need to place our lives in His care.
If we will do this and allow Him to do what He does, without interference from anyone else, He will make our lives just like new again.
The wise teacher says, in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He makes all things beautiful in its time.”
God can take even the most messed up life and make it beautiful, in His time.
How well do you know the New Testament? Would you say you are fairly knowledgeable? Are you familiar with what Paul and the other New Testament writers wrote to different churches and people?
1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you about the hope that you have. So how ready are you to do this? How well do you know the New Testament?
I was thinking about this just the other day. 2020 hasn’t been the best of years for me for my personal study. Over the past few years, I’ve stuck to a daily reading program that takes me through the New Testament in 60 days and the book of Psalms in 30 days.
This year, I guess too much other “stuff” has squeezed out the time I used to spend reading. I really need to get back on my daily plan!
Now you’re wondering why I’m asking you these questions and telling you these things.
If these were “normal” times this week would be the final week of the spring semester at Harding University. The final week of any semester at any college or university is also known as “finals week”.
This semester, several of the girl’s professors decided not to have a final or to make the final optional. But one of their professors decided to still have a mandatory final (oddly enough, it is in her Bible class). But this final is a little different...perhaps even different than the professor would have given had they been on campus.
Her class is on, well, the final 22 books of the New Testament (that’s everything but the gospels and Acts). The final exam: she has to make her own 100 question test. 20 of the questions can be True/False; the other 80 are multiple guess...I mean...choice.
Once it is finished, I have asked her to send me a copy. Once I have a copy, I would like to have some “guinea pigs” take the test.
So, there are 100 general knowledge New Testament questions...if you’re interested, just let me know: it’d be a nice way to spend a little time when you are stuck at home.
By the way, all of the questions have the book, chapter, and verse included. So if you want it to be open book, it can be. But since it’s not really for a grade, I’d encourage you to try to do it without looking first.
So, any test takers?