I’ve been busy this week. I mean really busy. Busy with things that are important. Busy with things that need to and have to get done before a deadline. Busy. Busy. Busy.
So busy in fact that I wasn’t even sure what I was going to be preaching on this coming Sunday, even as late as this morning (Wednesday).
“Come on, preacher! What have you been doing if not studying and sermon preparation? What else is there to your job?”
Well, this week there’s been a couple of trips to Fayetteville for hospital visits (it takes less time to drive to Fayetteville than to find a parking space at Washington Regional, FYI).
I’ve also been putting the finishing touches on a community involvement project I’m involved with on Saturday...that’s what most of my time has been spent on this week.
So Wednesday rolled around and it hit me that I really needed to start working on what I normally spend the first part of the week working on.
So why am I telling you this? Well, because this is somewhat how Satan works in our lives. He tries to get us to be so “busy” that what is really important goes undone.
In Luke 10, Jesus is a guest in the home of Martha and Mary. Martha served while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. So Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her, but instead Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
In other words, Martha was so busy with so many other things, she forgot what was really important.
Remember what is really important: sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening.
Perspective is a funny thing. It can cause us to see some things so clearly while other things are obscured. Perspective can cause us to notice something (good or bad) about someone else all the while being blinded to the same thing in ourselves.
Tuesday afternoon I had a sudden realization about perspective. We were driving home after visiting Harding University. Rachel had tried out for and is now a proud member of “The Thundering Herd” (Harding’s marching band). She will find out about concert band and scholarships in the next few weeks.
We spoke with the head of the criminal justice department (Rachel wants to go into law). We also spoke to a professor in the Theatre department (Jamie is very interested in theatre). Both girls asked good questions and enjoyed their time and tour.
So as we were driving home it dawned on me that when I was thinking about where to go to college, I chose a place that was about an eight hour drive from home...and it wasn’t that big a deal to me. That was where I wanted to go, so that’s where I went.
Now that my oldest daughter (and possibly my youngest too) has settled on a college that is a four hour drive away...well, it’s a huge deal to me: it’s SOOOOO far away!
When I was going to college, I wasn’t really thinking about distance from home...it didn’t matter to me. Now that I’m a parent, distance DOES matter a great deal to me (but my daughters getting a Christian education matters more: this has always been my perspective and that perspective will NEVER change). But my “distance” perspective has changed.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
What Paul is saying is that, as we age, our perspective changes. There are things we did when we were young, that we just don’t do anymore.
In the same way, as we grow in our faith, our perspective should change. There are certain things that we may have thought were OK that we learn are not OK.
The question is, will we continue to speak, think and reason like a child or will we allow our perspective to change as we grow and mature and give up those childish ways?
A magnifying glass can be a wonderful tool. It can help us see things that we, without it, would not be able to see. We can actually read “the fine print” with the aid of a magnifying glass.
Have you ever watched someone use a magnifying glass? One thing that cannot help but be noticed is that the magnification actually goes both ways...which can be a funny sight.
Each of us has several “magnifying glasses” within us. When we look at someone, many times we will use one of these “magnifying glasses.” This is not always a bad thing...but at times using the wrong “magnifying glass” can lead to undesirable results.
For example, let’s take the “magnifying glass” of emotions. You hear through the grapevine that somebody did something to someone else. Depending on how you feel (what level of emotion you have) for that “someone else” the “something” you heard was done to them can cause you to look in an overly critical way at the “somebody.”
Rather than investigating to see if what you heard was true or if there were parts to the story that the “grapevine” left out, you assume it is true and the “emotions magnifying glass” makes every fault that you see or believe you see in the “somebody” to appear much, much larger than they actually are so that if/when you confront them the result is hurt feelings instead of reconciliation.
In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
A magnifying glass can be good and helpful in removing a “speck” from someone’s eye. But as you use the magnifying glass to see the speck, the one with the speck also sees the log in your eye...and it appears much larger too.
The “grapevine” has been known to magnify things too: so be careful about how much trust you put in it. When you hear “something” don’t just assume it is true...check it out.
And when you look into the matter, use the “common sense” magnifying glass. Use the “compassion” magnifying glass. Use the “empathy” magnifying glass. Use the “love” magnifying glass. Use the “patience” magnifying glass.
If you’ll use each of these magnifying glasses, instead of relying solely on the “emotions” magnifying glass, hurt feelings can be avoided and reconciliation can be the result.
Each year, at about this time, our thoughts turn to Spring. And when our thoughts turn to Spring, we know that Summer is not far off. And somewhere, between thinking about Spring and Summer, our thoughts turn to graduation.
Each year we honor our high school graduates by giving them a Bible from the church and, perhaps individually you might give them a little something. Do you ever wonder if there is anything more you can do to help them out?
Well, if they choose to attend Harding University there is a little something more you can do. You see, Harding does a “church match scholarship.” What this means is that Harding will match, up to $500, any scholarship that a church gives to a Harding student (several other church of Christ affiliated universities also offer similar scholarships...but, for some reason my thoughts are turned to Harding right now).
When the Fall semester begins in August, Eastgate will have two (possibly three) students at Harding. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to be able to help each of these families by giving each of these students a $500 scholarship that will turn into $1000 when it is received by Harding?
If you would like to help, all you need to do is write a check to the church, noting that it is for the Church Match Scholarship. You can then, as you are able, donate more if you choose.
If we have more than the $1,000 or $1,500 we need for this Fall, we can keep the excess in the account for the next school year and the account could continue to grow. Before too long, we would have a nice way to continue to assist those of our church family who wish to continue their education at a university affiliated with the church of Christ.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, Rachel is one of the two “for sure” students at Harding in the Fall. So, yes, my family is one that will benefit from this scholarship account.
Note: if you do not attend Eastgate church of Christ, you can still contribute to this fund - just send your contribution in the mail. However, I would encourage you to speak to your congregation's leadership about establishing a similar type of program...and don't wait until you have a daughter (or son) graduating to do it: the money you save could just be your own!
You may or may not be aware but we have entered what many people consider the holiest season of the year: Lent.
Lent and all that goes along with it (“Fat Tuesday,” “Ash Wednesday,” “Maundy Thursday,” etc.) is a Catholic tradition that has been adopted by many Protestant denominations and even some in the church of Christ. I tell you this because you need to know that Lent is NOT found in the Bible...it is a tradition of man.
The Catholic Education Resource Center begins it’s article on Lent by saying, “Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.”1
Lent is characterized by “giving up” something for God. Typically what you “give up for Lent” is something that might be coming between you and God or that is taking time away that you could be spending for God.
A few examples of things people might give up for Lent might be social media, cell phone use, TV (or maybe just a program), alcohol, meat, dining out, etc.
These things are “given up” for a period of 40 days (from “Ash Wednesday” to “Maundy Thursday”) but you are allowed to take Sundays off and “take back” that which you have “given up”...otherwise it would add up to 46 days.
While Lent is not found in the Bible, some aspects are actually biblical. So why is it that we do not celebrate Lent (or at least the biblical aspects of it)?
Well, if praying, repenting, sacrifice and good works are appropriate for 40 days out of the year, what about the other 325¼?
If something is coming between you and God or is taking up time that you could be spending with God (prayer, study, serving, etc.), why would you want to give it up for just 40 days? Why would you just “give it up for Lent”? Shouldn’t you, rather, “give it up for good”?