Friday, October 26, 2012

Lord of the Harvest Party

Harvest was a big deal in the town where I grew up.  I grew up in a small community in southern Idaho that was supported by several large farms.  Those farms spent the entire year looking forward to the harvest.  When harvest arrived, they collected their crops, took them to market, and sold them for profit.  This generated income for the coming year and drove the little town’s economy. 

The best part about the harvest was the party that followed.  Farmers celebrated the income the harvest generated.  They celebrated the year’s work.  The town celebrated another year of business.

Christians in Homedale added something to the celebration.  They celebrated God’s provision.  They recognized that the good work and income was ultimately a gift from God.  God provided the rich soil and ideal climate for the harvest.  God provided the resources that allowed them to reap another year’s livelihood.

In a world of super markets and vending machines, it is hard to appreciate the harvest.  A wealth of food and products are always available, at the swipe of a debit card.  Because we harvest blessings on a daily basis, we may not always remember that the Lord has provided those blessings.

The Bible reminds us in very clear terms.  Psalm 67 says, “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.”  Celebrating any harvest is an opportunity to rejoice in God’s provision.  We can rejoice in God’s provision the next time we drive the combine or stop by the grocery store.

Sunday night, our church family will be rejoicing with our very own “harvest party.”  Kids will descend on our church building in droves.  They’ll wear wild costumes, play games, and eat candy.  As they do, remember what we are partying for.  God has provided.  Though few of us sow as farmers, all of us reap the incredible rewards of God’s harvest.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Shock and Awe of Apologies

Apple Computers did the unthinkable.  No, they didn’t invent something discontinue the iPhone.  No, they didn’t give their Macbooks away for free.  It was way worse.  Apple Computers apologized.

A couple weeks ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a letter of apology to customers.  Apple had released a new application that was riddled with bugs.  Customers were unhappy.  Apple listened to their feedback, realized the product didn’t live up to the company’s standards, and posted a letter of apology on their website.

What struck me about the apology was not the apology itself.  The letter read like your standard act of repentance.  What struck me was the shock of the people Apple apologized to.  People were genuinely surprised.  News outlets led with the story.  Bold, alarming fonts announced the news on the front page of websites.  Bloggers analyzed the meaning, intent, and ramifications of the apology.  People were really surprised – even shocked.

For Christians, apologies are hardly a surprise.  Apologies are a way of life.  The Bible teaches us that we are all broken people who make mistakes.  The best thing we can do about our mistakes is admit them, ask those we have hurt for forgiveness, and go a different direction.  The Bible tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other…” For Jesus’ people, apologies are a way of life.

As you go through the coming week, don’t hesitate to apologize.  When you have wronged someone, act quickly.  Say you’re sorry.  If you have spent time covering up a mistake, trying to hide it from others, stop wasting your time.  Instead, say, “Hey, I really got that wrong.  Please forgive me.” Though the world may be shocked by the apology, they will be even more surprised by the freedom it brings you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Priesthood of All Cheaters

When I was in school, I took a very challenging class called “Aspects of World Religiosity.”  For one of the mid terms, the professor allowed us to take the exam at home.  We were to give ourselves fifty minutes to answer two essay questions – no more.

I took the exam, honored the time given, and wrote just under three pages worth of answers.  I showed up the next day, ready to turn in my exam, and was shocked.  A few of my peers had written over twice as many pages as I had.  I worried that my work was not as thorough as theirs and I would be graded down.  I expressed my concern to the professor and he assured me that everything would be fine.

Later that day, one of the students confessed to another student that she had cheated.  She said she had taken far more time to answer the questions than the professor had allotted.  She wanted grades that were good enough to get her into a PhD program and cheated in order to give herself the greatest advantage possible.  She justified the behavior in saying this: “It’s not like I’m going to school to be a pastor.”

Even though that student didn’t want to be a pastor, I still think her actions mattered.  Pastors are not the only people Jesus calls to live with integrity.  We are all called to live our lives in a way that glorifies God.  In his first letter, the Apostle Peter tells the entire church to be holy as Christ is holy.  It seems that holy living is the profession of every Christian, not just the clergy.

As you go through the coming week, live in a way that honors Christ.  Whether at work, home, or school, live with an integrity that reflects Jesus’ holy character.  Jesus has given us an example to follow.  When it comes to following that example, it doesn’t matter if you are going to school to be a pastor or not.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Root Beer and Good News

A popular blogger recently wrote about his search for an ice-cold root beer.  He was driving down the road one day and felt a little thirsty.  He saw an A & W on the side of the road and thought he would stop to get a cold one.  He got out of his car, walked in, and ordered the beverage.  The cashier responded, “We’re out of root beer.”

The blogger thought it was odd that the restaurant had run out of its signature product.  But, feeling charitable, he didn’t cause a fuss.  Stranger things have happened.  Root beer shipments run late.  Orders get lost.  He assumed he had visited A&W at a bad time.

Days later, the blogger stopped by the restaurant again.  He still craved a frosted mug of classic A & W.  He approached the cashier and ordered the illusive drink.  The cashier gave him the same answer: “We’re out of root beer.”  This time he asked, “How does A&W run out of root beer?”  I think that is a fair question.

We may be quick to scoff, but we wrestle with a similar challenge in our devotional lives.  Jesus gives His people good news.  It is the product the His people are known for.  But, we also have a hard time articulating it on our own.  If someone were to ask us about Jesus and His impact on our lives, we don’t know what we would say.

As a result, people walk right up to us and place an order for good news.  We tell them, “We’re out.”  After a couple times, they wonder, “How does the church run out of good news?”

If Jesus Christ has made a difference in your life, tell someone.  You don’t have to get on TV or stand on a soapbox.  Simply tell a friend, co-worker, or family member what Jesus has done.  If Jesus has made a difference in your life, show someone this week.  Be peaceful, patient, kind, joyous, and self-controlled when the world least expects it.  In a world where fast food restaurants and soda fountains fail, Jesus gives us good news that doesn’t run out.