What’s On Your Lamp Stand?

Okay – Although lately I haven’t had much time for television, I’ve probably been watching too many episodes of “Criminal Minds.” Recently, while exiting my car a young man @ 15 years old unexpectedly approached me from behind and said; “My mom has a car just like that.” Ordinarily, I would engage such conversation except that the young man had this half smile look on his face and he was holding a shovel in his hand. I’ve seen a lot of kids in the neighborhood but he was new to me and my heart was racing. I kind of dismissed the issue with the car and decided to ask how he was doing, did he or his mom go to church etc. and eventually asked what was he going to do with the shovel. He replied, “I’m waiting for the snow to finish falling so that I can shovel some sidewalks. It was a great reason for having a shovel except he didn’t have the rectangular shaped shovel generally used for snow. He had a shovel generally used for digging holes and based on my “Criminal Minds” education the kind often used to hit people over the head. So I mentioned he probably had a long wait (suggesting that he may want to go inside) because although the flurries were heavy  they weren’t sticking to the ground and that might take some time. He thought about what I said and with the shovel still in his hand, went back to my inspecting car. Now my heartbeat is doing double-time so I decided to simply listen to his full inspection and comparisons and together we concluded that his mother did in fact have the same car. On one had I felt good about my attentiveness to the situation and even with my heart still racing I did invite him to church. Yet, on the other hand I felt silly and embarrassed when I learned from others that this young man was no “criminal mind” and in fact harmless.  Not every encounter or situation is a harmless one but I realize that sometimes, it doesn’t take much to affect the actions of our heart and mind. Thank you God for I better understand the importance of what we daily put on our “lamp stand,” and the effect we sometimes experience when we give room on that lamp stand for things that do not belong.

Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lamp stand? Mark 4:21-34   Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise… Ephesians 5:15-16

Life Is A Gift

Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else!  Daniel 5:13-30  I really like Daniel’s attitude.  I believe the story that follows his statement to King Belshazzar is a lesson in learning from other peoples’ past experiences. It is to help us understand that what God reveals for one of us is a revelation for all of us. Sometimes, by God’s grace we are allowed to see various things happen without having to personally experience it. We owe it to ourselves to transform our own lives according to the grace that God provides through others who have gone before us. We don’t know that tomorrow we will have an opportunity to unbind ourselves from the things of the world. Daniel knew that life itself is a gift and each day it offers many rewards. God only asks that we honor him above all of them. The good news is that today if the writing is on the wall, through Christ we don’t have to lose our lives.

Discerning The Challenge

The good news about John’s message is that it prevails today and no testing, has overtaken us that is not common to everyone (1 Corinthians 10:13). However, our repentance during that test is the work of God’s grace and mercy manifesting in our lives. It also enables the process of discerning the physical from the spiritual. Herod could have acknowledged and repented to what he had done as wrong according to Jewish law, if in fact he was committed to it. Historically we know that he was not (Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews). By his actions, Herod was committed to himself. While there are times when we should be committed to our selves, for example our health, a Herod’s dilemma, isn’t one of those times. When we are committed only to ourselves we often have a tendency to believe that the laws or rules therein do not apply to us, we make our own rule for life and go our own way. John’s message is given that we may prepare our selves to be committed to the Spirit of God so that when the challenge of our commitment is tested, our response will honor God (from the heart) and not our selves (according to other peoples’ perceptions). History tells us that this is not always an easy thing to do and if we continue to look through the eyes of others we only see what other people see and respond the way other people respond. When we learn to look through the eyes of Christ we begin to see what God sees and learn to respond through Christ.

Ephesians 1:3,7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,