Thursday, July 24, 2014

Heavy Loads

PRINCIPLE: “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.”

Two of our grandchildren, Micah – 8 – and Elise – almost 6 – recently took up the adventure of rock-wall climbing. They did extremely well – far better than Grandpa would have done! Micah made it to the top 3 times and Elise got beyond her dad’s reach. I was proud of them.

But it wasn’t just their success that got me excited. It’s what I observed – and hopefully they learned – during the climb that was most important. As long as they tried to climb only using their own strength, they tired quickly; but once they learned how to trust the camp counselor holding the rope, and put all their weight in the harness, the climb became easier. “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.” Once they trusted and transferred, and knew they were safe from falling, they discovered the strength to climb higher. “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.”

It’s certainly not a new principle; even the airlines (especially on small planes) are always balancing the luggage and the seat location of passengers to keep the weight evenly distributed – all so they can fly higher, fast, and safer. Certainly truckers and moving companies loading their large vans know all about weight distribution. No, it’s not new, but it’s worth remembering. “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.”

The Psalmist knew all about it also. (91) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you He will cover you …   and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…You will not fear  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands… “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.”

The word love (‘Because he loves me…) in the Hebrew connotes ‘cleaving’. It’s like putting a saddle on a horse – the saddle cleaves to the horse, is wrapped tightly around the horse. It’s an invitation to wrap ourselves around Jesus. It all hinges on trusting God. The Psalmist is saying that security in God is not an insurance policy against misfortune or trials.  Psalm 91 is, at core, a call to trust. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” To trust God is to put all your weight on Him. It’s putting all your weight in the harness and letting Jesus bear your weight. “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.” The Psalmist is inviting us not to worry. There are dark sides to life – but do not worry; they will not defeat you. No final evil will befall you. “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.”

It’s worth remembering. After all, Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed. (1 Pt. 2:24 GNT) “When the load’s too heavy, transfer the weight.” Then, in your new found safety climb higher. Perhaps you will not make it to the top – but you will be safe at rest.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today

PRINCIPLE: “Before committing to tomorrow, live today.”

We recently had several days in a row with an unusual, thick fog. Visibility was next to nil; travel was difficult. But one thing about fog is that just as quickly as it rolls in, it vanishes. It reminds me of James' letter to the early church (4:13-17 LB): How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone.” Our lives are like fog – here now but capable of vanishing at any moment. And no one can predict with certainty that vanishing moment.

I still recall that one morning when I was in 3rd grade – my folks kissed my 15 year old sister good-bye as she left for school, never realizing it would be the last time they would do so. Who was to know that a driver late for work wouldn’t see her crossing the street and hit her? I still remember the day when, as a freshman at Central College, I went into the campus library for the very first time, heard a shrill yell, and saw a student athlete fall – an aneurism had burst and it took his life. You have your stories and reality checks as well. Our lives are not all that secure.

While such thoughts can be viewed as morbid, they can also be viewed as healthy since it reminds us how to live each moment of each day. As Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote, “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth…and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up…that we will begin to live each day to the full, as if it were the only one we had.”1 While in college I took Introductory Greek from a local pastor. Every week, as I left, he would say “See you next week, Lord willing.” It took me a long time to realize he wasn’t just uttering an habitual phrase nor simply acknowledging a truth we both knew; he was re-enforcing an attitude of the heart that between then and the next time we were to meet all our time belongs to God. It's what James wrote (4:15-16 LB): “What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such self-confidence never pleases God. It’s an antidote that can prevent us from wasting our time and our days. As Bill Gaither put it, “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”2 “Before committing to tomorrow, live today.”

I've come to realize that as soon as I say, “It can wait until tomorrow,” I need to stop and ask “Can It really?” If it's important, it can't. For years I've thought about thanking my Greek Tutor for his weekly greeting. It kept getting pushed to tomorrow. Now it's too late; he passed away a short time ago. I live with regret. And I have sinned. James said (4:17), Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin.“Before committing to tomorrow, live today.” It's the only way to minimize living with regret for things not done or said; it's a way to guard against sin.

Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it? I thought you'd kill me, but you didn't. And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain and it did? I thought you'd say, 'I told you so,” but you didn't. Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were? I thought you'd eave me, but you didn't. Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug? I thought you'd hit me, but you didn't. And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans? I thought you'd drop me, but you didn't. Yes, there were a lot of things you didn't do. But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me. There were a lot of things I wanted to make up to you when you came back from Vietnam. But you didn't.” 3“Before committing to tomorrow, live today.
1 From Soul Unfinished, Robert Atwell, Paraclete Press, Brewster Mass., © 2012 by Robert Atwell
2 © 1975 William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)

3From Seizing the Moment, James Moore, Abingdon Press, 1988, pgs. 30-31

Thursday, July 3, 2014

All That Garbage

PRINCIPLE: “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.”

There’s one thing that bugs me about the road by which we live - the litter that ends up in our yard. I pick up wrappers from McDonalds, bags from burger King, and boxes from Wendy’s, along with cans, bottles, and cups – and once even a bumper from a car that veered off the road and slammed into the telephone pole in our yard. I’ve wondered why people feel so free to throw their litter out of their vehicles, to dump their garbage where they don’t have to pick it up. I think the very same thing anytime I see someone throw a cigarette butt out their window. There are probably numerous reasons – but I believe the core reason is they don’t want to deal with the garbage. They love the food, the pleasure, but not the leftover garbage. To that I say, “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.”

In actuality, this is a major biblical theme. (Gen. 3:8-10 MSG) When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden …. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Gen 4:13-14 MSG) Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.”” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Ps. 32:2-4 NLT) When I refused to confess my sin my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat”. “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Prov. 11:29) Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind.” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Prov. 10:4 & 10) “Lazy hands make for poverty…Whoever maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Rom. 6:23) For the wages of sin is death…” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (I Cor. 10:8-10) We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Gal. 6:7-8 GNT) You will reap exactly what you plant. If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death…” “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” (Mt. 5:21-22) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.”


If you don’t like the sexual immorality of our day, don’t watch the movies/shows that promote them or support the advertisers who pay for them. If you don’t like lung cancer, don’t smoke .If you don’t like being drunk, don’t drink. If you don’t like arguing with your spouse, don’t do the things that lead to arguments. If you don’t like being in debt, don’t live off your credit card and spend what you do not have. If you don’t like feeling separated from God, stop doing the things that separate you from Him. “If you don’t like the garbage, don’t eat the lunch.” In fact, if you don’t like the garbage, change your diet. (Is. 55:1-3) Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” It all begins with your relationship with Jesus. (Jn. 10:10 & Jn. 7:37-38) I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness…Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” Now that’s a garbage free diet!