"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Airport Atmosphere?

This past week I spent many hours in airports across the country. My sister- in-law married a US Navy Sailor in Groton, Connecticut, and they asked me to perform the ceremony. My journey began in Austin, Texas where I boarded a flight to Dallas. The next morning, I boarded a flight in Dallas where I flew to Washington D.C. In Washington D.C., I boarded another flight for Hartford, Connecticut. The following day, I left Hartford and landed in Charlotte, North Carolina where we were delayed for hours due to weather. Finally, I boarded another flight in Charlotte where my final destination was Dallas. With all of these different flights and beautifully scenery of terminals, I made some interesting observations.

When we left Dallas, for the most part everyone was very friendly. I was one of the last passengers to board the plane, but another man ran up to the gate gasping for air. It was obvious that he was running late and having a stressful morning. The agent took his boarding pass and said, “It’s ok sweetie, everyone is going to make this flight.” When I landed in Hartford, the “southern charm” had disappeared. People were as cold as the weather. At Thrifty rental car, the agent did not say, “Can I help you?” but rather, “What do you need?” Even at the hotel in Groton, I was speaking with the concierge and she said, “You’re so nice, I’m probably coming across very rude. I apologize, it’s just natural.” Apology accepted! As I was sitting in the terminal in Charlotte, exhausted and delayed due to weather, I made some more observations. The flight we were waiting on arrived from JFK airport in New York. The passengers de-boarded, ran through the airport, and pushed slower travelers to the side. I also noticed that the passengers waiting to come to Dallas were tired, but fairly up beat. Needless to say, I was ready to get back to “Chicken Fried” everything.

Now, I believe it’s wrong to be “stereotypical” people, and I think the Bible warns us against it. I’m only making observations from what I saw; it’s not always that way. Many of my friends at Harding were from the north, and they were some of the friendliest people you could hope to meet. But, it did get me thinking, “How do guests see us when they visit our churches?” I’ve heard different metaphors to describe the church. Some will describe it as a “Country Club” where everyone fits into a mold that only a few can match. Some view the church as a “Pep Rally” where everyone’s happy beyond reality. Others see the church as a “Hospital” where everyone’s broken beyond repair.

I don’t think the church can ever display only one “image.” But, why don’t we make this “image” our goal? We’re a group of imperfect people who love another, and love our God even more! That’s an “atmosphere” where everyone will feel welcome!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do You Have Any Power?

“Do you have any power?” It’s a question that’s often asked by greedy or ambitious people, wanting to know whose coat tails they can ride to reach new heights of success. An interesting article was published this past week in US NEWS that gave seven ways young professionals can gain ground in their careers through power. Unfortunately, some of the tips resemble many problems we see in the Lord’s church today. Here are just a few of them:

1) Gain power through What You Know (Have you ever seen those members who always want to “impress” others with how many verses they can quote, or remind people how many books they have at home which they probably haven’t read? It’s great to have deep Biblical insights, but it loses its greatness when it’s flaunted for others to see. Remember what Paul told the Corinthian church, who thought they were as smart as they could be? “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Remember, what you know doesn’t even compare with what God knows!)

2) Gain power through Who You Know (Ok, so you have a lot of friends! That’s wonderful! But are those friends more important than any other members in the Lord’s church? The first century church really struggled with this issue. Books such as Galatians and Romans show us the hierarchy system which was created between Jews and Gentiles. Your brothers and sisters in Christ won’t give you any power, and having an exclusive relationship with them won’t strengthen your resume with God. In God’s eyes, everyone is viewed the same. Learn to see as God sees!)

3) Gain power through Position (Some members love to “rub elbows” with the Elders and Ministers because they are people of “authority.” Even though the Elders might have the “authority” to watch over the affairs of the church, they still bow their heads and knees to the authority of Almighty God! And Preachers might be in the “spotlight” to deliver the sermons, but they are still members of the “Priesthood of ALL believers.” “Authority” is found in Christ Jesus!)

You see, as servants of God yearning for His grace, the only “power” we should strive to attain is the power that’s found in the blood of Jesus Christ, and the power that’s found in the Holy Spirit! Do you have these powers? Trust me, it’s ALL the “power” you need!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stripped of Success

College Football season is here! For many households, Saturday cartoons have been replaced by Saturday Game Day broadcasts. “Tailgaters” are tailgating across the country, bands are marching with pride, and avid fans are already making their “picks” for Bowl Season. America watches with admonition as Student Athletes perform at the highest level. However, there is one former Student Athlete, a recent Super Bowl Champion, who isn’t receiving as many accolades. According to the Heisman Trophy Trust (the foundation who administers the Heisman Trophy Award), Reggie Bush, the 2005 star running back for the University of Southern California, will be stripped of the Heisman Trophy by the end of September. Bush will lose the award because he played the entire 2005 season as an ineligible player. It will be the first time in the 75 year history of the Heisman Trophy that any player has been stripped of their success!

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in College Football. Many argue that it’s a bigger honor to receive the Heisman Trophy than to win the National Championship! To receive the Heisman Trophy, a player must earn it! He’s the best player on the field every game! The words “off day” don’t exist in a Heisman’s vocabulary. He knows nothing but perfection! It must be devastating for Reggie Bush to be kicked off the list of Heisman heroes. I guess he will get over it, since he just won a Super Bowl, and since he has a multi million dollar contract with the New Orleans Saints!

I am unaware of Reggie Bush’s spiritual life, but I am aware that Christians face the same danger. We can lose our biggest achievement, our salvation! It’s very prestigious to be called a “Heisman Winner,” but there’s nothing more prestigious than to be called a “Child of God.” And to become a “Child of God”, we don’t earn it. Rather, we obey the gospel and we’re forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ! For years, there’s been a debate in the religious realm known as “Once Saved, Always Saved!” The debate poses this question: Is there anything we can do to lose our salvation? In my opinion, we can toss verse after verse into the debate dungeon. But simply put, when we reach the attitude that there’s nothing we can do to be stripped from the Savior, that’s when we find ourselves “lost.” Reggie Bush’s legacy will be taken away because he disobeyed NCAA eligibility rules. And in the eyes of the NCAA, that offense is unforgivable! As Christians, if we willfully disobey God’s rules all the days of our life, even the blood of Jesus won’t help us!

Don’t be “Stripped of Your Success,” but be “Sure of Your Salvation!”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Lesson from Burger King?

As the pace of American life continues to get faster, American’s eating habits keep up the trend! Fast food franchises have become a billion dollar industry in the last several decades. Even towns that used to be defined by the number of stop lights and gas stations, most likely have the “Golden Arches” hovering over the metropolis; or at least one place to drive through and order cardiac complications in a sack!

However, one franchise that isn’t producing profitable numbers is Burger King. Burger King Executives won’t publish the exact deficit numbers, but they do report that the company lost “millions” in 2009, and unfortunately that detriment of decrease is staying strong in 2010. The company offers many reasons as to why the “King” no longer rules with authority. They say Burger King is overpriced (compared to McDonalds and Wendy’s), the “Flame Broiled Burger” is no longer an “innovative” concept, and they can’t compete with the “Eat Fresh, Stay Fit” market of Subway. However, the biggest reason for loss is fascinating. Burger King blames it on the notoriously fickle group of customers they have always targeted, young men between the ages of 18 and 34. All of Burger King’s meals appeal to that “appetite”. But simply put, the men may or may not come! And without these men purchasing meals, the company is struggling to survive.

Even though I wouldn’t diagnose Burger King as a fountain for spiritual insights, I do see a lesson for the church from this fast food enterprise. When we consider the demographics of the Lord’s church, it seems like older members are very faithful in their attendance and involvement. However, with our younger members, that statistic doesn’t always hold true, particularly with the men!

Fathers, it is your God-given responsibility to be the spiritual “leaders” of your home. With that responsibility, it’s vital that you AND your families gather together with the family of God! Remember, the pace of life moves at lighting speed, and don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. However, just because you’re busy, that doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize what’s really important! On the other hand, unlike Burger King, the church will survive without you because the Lord always watches over it! But don’t ever think that YOU will survive without the CHURCH!