Robbing God

I am taking a class this Semester with only a few students in it. It has given me a chance to talk to some of them on a more personal level, which is really great. I met Ralph, a pastor at a nearby church. He said that at the end of last year he was thinking that the church was going to close the doors for good in the coming year. The budget had dwindled and they were not sure what was going to happen. Many of his congregation came to him and told him that they didn’t want to go anywhere else because he taught the word as it should be taught, with Authority. To make a long story short, he got up one Sunday and told the chruch how it was. The Statement went something like this, “If you guys don’t stop robbing God, we will close the doors on this church at the beginning of the year.” It is amazing how God can turn things around with just a simple statement. He said that the church is now serving God in so many different ways and they are not “in the red” on their bank statement anymore. Even in these tough times, it is important that we do not take what God has given us for granted. After all it is really ALL his anyway, and He only askes that we give our Church only part of it. I think sometimes we all need a “kick in the pants” to get back on track with what God has for us.

Scriptures:
Malachi 1:12-14
12 “But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty. “When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the LORD. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Malachi 1:12-14
6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’  “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

Open Door Policy

What a day! It is amazing how many things can break in one day, or at least over a short time period. I woke up and found that my car didn’t want to start (I think the battery is going bad and we just spent some money on it as it is), my computer doesn’t want to work, my IPOD froze (I cannot turn it off to reset it), the washer broke, and the dishwasher is not cleaning well for some reason. Am I complaining (Maybe a little) but what surprised me was what I was thinking.

You see my wife and I are trying to put the house on the market, pay for school, and go to Russia for a mission’s trip. All of which costs money. I started to think that maybe we are getting something wrong and God does not really want us to do something. After all shouldn’t he open the doors for us to make it happen, if it is his will! At least that has been my train of thought.

Have we been trained to think this way? Does God choose the easy way? If it is God’s choice, isn’t he just going to make it happen? That is when I started thing of things that were God’s choice like:

  1. His plan for Redeeming mankind – Christ had to die and rise again. It was not a easy path.
  2. For his Disciples – Many of them died a martyr’s death and lived hard lives.
  3. Scriptures like “Take up your cross and follow me” ring in my ears
  4. etc. etc. etc.

Maybe I have been thinking about this in the wrong way. This is when I remembered something that Dr. Woo was talking about in New Testament class. “When God opens doors, Satan is waiting!” We are in a spiritual war after all, and he doesn’t want the things that God wants. The open door can lead to opposition and not an easy life.

So what am I getting at? In everything give thanks and continue searching for God’s will. Simple answer, but even in the opposition I can count on him to make it happen even if it is not going to be easy. I like easy, but it is praiseworthy when you see God fill in the blanks and make things happen his way.

The next time you have an open door policy, when it comes to God, remember that, “just because opposition comes, it does not mean that that is not the way he wants you to go.” It could very well be the thing he desires for your life.

The Child Cocoon

I once heard a story about a butterfly:

The story of the butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!

In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:

The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.

I found myself contemplating on this story as I read about Madlyn Primoff, the mom that dropped her kids off a couple of miles from home because of bickering. I read comments about this story when it first came out and was surprised how many people said that they have done something very similar, while other chided her for what she had done. While I am not condoning her actions, I wonder what we are doing to our children. Are we trying to protect our kids too much from the dangers of life – for instance – Teachers cannot use red ink because it may cause self esteem issues. Are we cutting the butterfly from the cocoons – metaphorically. I think that we need to give our children a little more benefit of the doubt, and let them grow up strong. The real world is not an easy place to live in, and we need to be preparing our children for this reality. I am sure that it is hard to let your children get a bruise sometime, but in alot of cases it helps them develop and mature. Am I off base or are we coddling our children into a life of dependence on others?

Don’t Let Gilligan Guide Your Boat!

Gilligan's Island Title Card
Gilligan's Island Title Card

There have been a couple of times recently that I have woke up with a statement in my head and didn’t know why. A few days ago it was 1 Tim 3:1: (if any man aspires to the office of Overseer, it is a fine work he desires.) This morning, however, the statement was a little odd: “Don’t let Gilligan guide your boat!”

I am such an odd person anyway so this didn’t really surprise me. So I started dwelling on what this could mean. First I thought about how, “If I let myself be guided by the wrong person, then I will end up in a place that I don’t want to go.” Second I thought, “It is when we take this kind of path (letting the wrong person guide our life) that we tend to take people with us. Gilligan’s mistake cost 6 other people their freedom and left them stranded. Each time they had some way of potential escape, Gilligan would do something stupid and it causes it to fail. Eventually they did get off the Island but by the end of that show they were back to where they started, stranded and starting over.

It is funny, I once heard that each of the Characters represented one of the Seven Deadly sins. Although I don’t believe that there is such a thing as the seven deadly sins, (I believe sin is sin) I have to admit it does seem plausible. Here they are:

  • Ginger is the most obvious with the sin of LUST!
  • Mr. Howell is easy to spot as well with the sin of GREED!
  • Mrs. Howell is a little harder with the sin of SLOTH!
  • The Professor: PRIDE!
  • Mary Anne was hard to see as well with ENVY!
  • The Skipper they try to associate with both ANGER and Gluttony but I think that it would be just the one. He was a big guy but that would be too obvious for gluttony. He did always get onto Gilligan and hitting him with his hat though.
  • Gilligan some websites attributed him to the devil but I think he would have been GLUTTONY – He was always eating something.

You have to admit it is an interesting concept and pretty creative if you think about it. I think that in my statement above, it has more to do with who is driving the boat, however. Many times we try to drive it ourselves, other times those who give us peer pressure, but I would like to think the person that is driving my boat is Christ Jesus, he will never steer you wrong and leave you stranded on an Island. The Skipper was a seasoned veteran when it came to it but it was Gilligan that caused the trouble. The times that the boat goes in wrong direction is when we try to take the wheel for ourselves. It is when this happens that we take the people that we love with us.

Curious! What are your thoughts?

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