Monday, September 26, 2016

Pastor's Pondering, September 26, 2016

Tell The Truth

The ThinkProgress publication had an article in the May 11, 2011 issue, which quoted the politician, Newt Gingrich who said, “So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.”  In the Washington Post September 24, 2016 edition, Brandon W. Lenoir, a High Point University professor of political communications said that some voters are undeterred when their candidate lies. “When new information comes in, if it is consistent with your world view or your opinion of that particular candidate, you let it in; if it is inconsistent, you block it out.”

While many will support and enthusiastically applaud blatant dishonesty from potential leaders, the Bible says that God detests lying (Proverbs 6:16, 17, 19).  Further, God identifies people who tell untruths with the source of lies, the devil (John 8:44).  He says, moreover, they will not be in His house or even stand in His presence if they practice deceit (Psalm 101:7).

In this political season where fact checkers are needed to verify the veracity of every statement of our potential leaders, the Lord God would rather we take a different route.  He wants us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15). Sometimes telling a lie may be the easiest choice, may seemingly protect someone’s feelings, or make us feel better. This week let us remember that the truth is what God wants to hear from us and He wants us to be just like him.

Proverbs 6:16, 17, 19
New International Version (NIV)
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community

John 8:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Psalm 101:7
New International Version (NIV)
No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

Ephesians 4:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, September 19, 2016

Love For Real

This evening my wife and I and some of our church members enjoyed a dinner at a local restaurant and tonight I feel stuffed.  Earlier, I enjoyed our church service where I did not worry about armed men coming to arrest me.  I drove an SUV and was not concerned about gas.  I am living in a home where the local police protect me.  My pantry and refrigerator are full and my bills are paid.  I am retired and do not have to beg for handouts.

Yet I cannot help but think about those who are not as blessed.  Poverty Facts and Stats updated in 2013 shared the following horrific statistics. Half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 per day.  According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.  Nearly one billion people entered the 21st century unable to sign their names or read a book.

We can shake our heads, mournfully think positive thoughts, and wish our desperate neighbors well or we can remember the Good Samaritan story in the Bible where one of the three gentlemen who helped the person in need was the neighbor (Luke 10:36, 37). What have you done, what are you doing, and what are you going to do to share from your resources to help the needy?  The Bible says if you see your brother or sister in need and don’t help them, how can God’s love be in you? (1 John 3:17)

It is very easy to love people over the world in theory but what happens when an aid organization asks for donations to help them? What if that needy person is just around the corner and asks for spare change?  What happens if it is that sex worker who we would rather not share the gospel because other people might get the wrong impression?  What if that single mom needs baby-sitting help to attend a doctor's appointment? These and others could use the help but may not want to humiliate themselves or possibly embarrass you by asking. 

God would ask us not to simply talk the talk, but to walk the walk (1 John 3:18).  This week, let us be on the lookout for love opportunities.  I believe if you seek for them, you will find them so that you can help others. Let your love be for real!

Luke 10:36, 37
New International Version (NIV)
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

1 John 3:17, 18
New International Version (NIV)
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, September 12, 2016

Remember 9/11 by Remembering God

The September 11, 2016, Reuters posted an article that indicated that North Korea was capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile.  As a child of the fifties and sixties, we were terrified that the Russians were about to bomb us at any time.  Now the threats can come from sleeper cells in the US, terrorists, fanatics or even one’s friendly neighbor.  As if we did not have enough to consider, one presidential candidate suggested that he would start a war because of a rude hand gesture from a soldier of another nation.

In spite of these disturbing signs, God directs us to not let these things trouble us (John 14:1).  He really does not want us to be afraid and wants us to know that nothing happens in the world without His control (Matthew 10:29, 31). He knows the big things and the little things about every aspect of our lives including the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30).  The Bible says that although disease and disaster may worry us, we are not to fear them (Psalm 91:5, 6 MSG). Our God is present with us to help in troubling times such as these (Psalm 46:1).

On the fifteenth anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, many of us have bitter memories and even fear another violent attack may occur.  Let us remember God’s word of comfort, assure others that God is still God, and know that we can confidently look to Him for our protection.

John 14:1
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

Matthew 10:29
New International Version (NIV)
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Psalm 91:5, 6
Message (MSG)
5 Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, 
6 Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster than erupts at high noon

Psalm 46:1
New International Version (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, September 6, 2016

Our Father Loves His Seniors

The September 5, 2016 edition of the New York Times featured an article entitled, “The Health Effects of Growing Old, and Lonely.  The writer indicated that there were positive health benefits from continued contact with the elderly.  Reflecting on my personal experience, I agree with this theory. Our church, Sanctuary Gospel Center Church has had a ministry where we visit a local nursing home twice a month for the last ten years.  I am not sure who is blessed more, our members or the residents. 

I believe that God wants all of mankind to consider our elders, talk with them and include them in our lives.  Many of them have much to say and are willing to share a great deal of their wisdom and experience. If we would listen to them, we may avoid a lot of mistakes. 

However, there is a more important reason to treat our elderly kindly. The Bible specifically mentions those who are overlooked in society, such as the chronically ill, widows or prisoners, as the "least" of our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:34-36, 40).  Although they are not specifically included, our elderly are also those that are often forgotten by us in our busy lives. This passage says that the way we treat our brothers and sisters is the way we treat Jesus (Matthew 25:34-36, 40).

The Bible also states that we should treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). On Monday, September 5, 2016, we celebrated Labor Day honoring those whose work was useful and honorable.  We should do no less for those who have spent their productive years as housewives, parents, laborers, professionals, and workers and now are resting from their work.  Let us pick up our phones, drop by our elderly’s homes, and spend some time with them.  They will be happy, you will be glad that you did, and most of all, God will be pleased.

Matthew 25:34-36, 40
New International Version (NIV)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 7:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.