Monthly Archives: July 2008

Kind, Tolerant and Patient

By | Just Thoughts | 3 Comments

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

If you have a friend or family member who is making bad choices, you probably want very much to rescue them from the consequences that loom on the horizon. You might consider impassioned warnings, perhaps loud and stern condemnation. You might want to give up on them and turn away. Paul tells us in Romans that the method God uses to turn us from our sin is kindness, tolerance and patience.

These are not three things that most people think of when they think of God. At least that has been my discovery as I have talked with people over the last 30+ years. Many, if not most people think that God is holding a list in His hand and watching to see how many things you manage to get checked off before your time is up. On the other hand, some people think that God is a kind of Santa or genie in a bottle to grant wishes. I have found those people to be very few — usually because if they approached God with that concept in mind, they were quickly disappointed and moved on.

In the environment I lived in for over 30 years, I was given the impression that God loved me in a general way, (my sins were forgiven and I would go to Heaven) but that He would only be pleased with me if I followed a very strict code of behavior, which those in authority would specifically define and although not taught in the Bible, certain verses, if taken out of their context, could be used to “back up” the list. It almost seems amusing to look over that list now. It could even be funny, if it weren’t so sad to me that many people are still being held hostage to this teaching.

I have to wonder why there is a tendency to walk away from grace so quickly and devise some kind of system to measure one another’s spiritual condition. I still know Christians who want to play the role of God’s policeman. It reminds me a little of Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show. He was so zealous in his role that in one episode, he had arrested the entire community, including the mayor, Aunt Bee and even Opie. Some Christians, just like Barney, want to whip out their ticket book and issue citations to everyone around them. Even though God clearly warns us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37; James 4:11-12) and yet it is so easy to make that our life’s purpose.

I want to pattern myself after God, who is kind, tolerant and patient. After all, it was God’s kind, tolerant and patient love that motivated Him to send His only Son, Jesus to pay the ultimate price so that we could be forgiven and transformed into His children forever.

get out a half sheet of paper

By | Just Thoughts, Message Series, NewSpring | No Comments

I don’t know what phrase they use nowadays, but when I was in school, that meant a pop quiz was coming. A pop quiz was an unannounced test over material that had been covered either in class or in a homework assignment. Usually, there were only a few questions, which meant they all had a high value. (In other words, it only took one or two wrong answers to fail.) If you’re like me and you’ve been out of school for a long time, you may have forgotten that sinking feeling that you felt when you took one of those quizzes, but I have been revisiting that lately.

I have noticed a pattern that I picked up on a while back, and it seems to be consistent with me. Whenever a series is preached on a particular subject, I seem to get a quiz. For instance, this summer the series have covered anger and humility. So.. I should have had a clue what was coming. Indeed, I have had many pop quizzes on both subjects (which, by the way are very much related), and I’ve passed a few and failed a few. Now, I have noted that the ones I passed were ones I was prepared for. How? I was much in prayer and finding help in the Bible. I also spent time reflecting on the practical helps given in the messages. Those quizzes I failed… well, you can guess.

My conclusion on these quizzes is that if I stay prepared by prayer and reading God’s Word, I am much less likely to suffer that sinking feeling. I can face tomorrow’s quiz with confidence.

By the way, what’s the next series?

4th of July

By | Family, Just Thoughts | No Comments

We were sitting on the back porch with our bowls of homemade chocolate chip ice cream and enjoying the fireworks displayed all over our neighborhood. It was an amazing site to see! It seemed that each neighbor was alternating in such a way that it almost seemed choreographed. There were multiple concussions followed by spectacular explosions of light that turned the dark night into what seemed like broad daylight. This went on for hours. (I’m glad I didn’t have to clean up after all that this morning.) Our area must have been quite a sight because we saw several private planes circling around above us. I wonder what it looked like from up there.

Anyway, it was a wonderful Americana experience. Like all our other holidays, it brought back many memories, but also created some new ones.

I had to chuckle a couple of times and if I thought about it, I’m sure I could figure out what these things might illustrate, but for now I’ll just put them into my mental file cabinet for future reference.

When Stephen came out onto the porch, he commented that it sounded like a war out there. Of course, as I understand it, that is sort of the whole point, or at least it started out to be. The fireworks celebration is commemorating our fight for independence. It should remind us of the fact that there was a war here on our soil that cost many lives in order to gain our freedom from foreign rule.

Then there was another moment I will remember for a while. In between the bright and loud series of fireworks, I kept thinking I saw a rather faint glow flashing off and on down below us. At first I thought I was just seeing a reflection in a neighbor’s window — maybe reflecting some fireworks behind us, but then I was sure it couldn’t be a reflection. I asked Mark, “Do you see a little firefly down there or is that just my imagination?” He then confirmed what I thought I was seeing — it was a little firefly — glowing away, joining in this wonderful celebration (it would seem). It just impressed me, I don’t know why exactly.

Isn’t summer wonderful?