Thursday, March 30, 2006

Judging by Appearances

Have you ever made a purchase at a grocery store and received a handful of change? When you looked at the change in your hand you saw a coin that was unrecognizable. You didn’t really want it but because of the people in line you slipped it into your pocket anyway. It might be foreign or domestic a penny or a dime. You just couldn’t tell at the time.

This happened to me too. When I saw the coin I said to myself “I don’t want this it’s good for nothing”. I could barely make out the image of President Roosevelt, ok, so it’s a dime. All scuffed up and gouged like it had lain on the highway for years until perhaps a little child found it and spent it with joy on a piece of candy. The edges were nicked and bent. Couldn’t even be used in a vending machine. “Worthless”, I pronounced. Truth is it was still worth ten cents.

We are so quick to pronounce judgment on the things we don’t like that we completely overlook their intrinsic value. We do this to people. We do this to ourselves.

As I stood there looking at that boogered up coin, God spoke to me with that still small voice. Reminding me that I am made in His image and have value to Him, great value. Reminding me that those around me, each and every person, is made in the image of God and has great intrinsic value. Who am I to judge others or myself?

I don’t like the scuffmarks and scars this world has eroded upon me. I can definitely see this erosion in others as well and I pass judgment. I say to myself “Worthless, good for nothing, scum, jerk, @$$hole”.

Verses to meditate on:

  • Joh 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
  • Luk 18:17 I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it.
  • Heb 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus tells us to receive the kingdom like a little child, looking past the dings and dents to see the image of God in others. Jesus endured the cross with joy! Why could He suffer so and still have joy? Because He knew that His sacrifice would bring an innumerable fortune of boogered up coins into His treasury. Truth is we are of great value to Him.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Peggy’s Garden of Kindness

Peggy loves to sing. She especially loves to sing in church. When we were first married she asked me to be honest with her and tell her what I thought of her singing. I was brutally honest as new husbands usually are. I told her that she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. How it must have hurt her, but she didn’t let me see it, or I just missed it as usual. I suppose she privately promised herself that someday she was going to show me.

Peggy has taken voice lessons now for at least 15 to 20 years. During this time she has sung at every opportunity the church could afford her; every service, every special occasion, holidays, productions and plays. For years she would try out for solos knowing she wouldn’t get them. She would encourage everyone else trying out for the same part, praying with them and truly happy when they got the part and not her. And then she would go back and do it again. I felt as if I were married to the choir. All our family events had to fit inside the choir’s schedule. I had to let her because that is what makes her happy, and more importantly, it is the call of God on her heart. I imagine that in heaven she will be in the tryout line for Seraphim if they’ll let her.

Peggy loves to praise the Lord. She loves to be a part of that great company in heaven that praises Him continually. She’s not just in the choir; she’s in The Choir. When she closes her eyes and sings to her God she knows that His purposes are being manifest in her. She knows quietly deep within her that God is working in His church and her heart. Her fear and trembling are put way away and she finds strength to face the difficult people and things around her.

She offers them kindness. Peggy is the kindest person I know. Not all the time and everywhere like she wishes she was, but most of the time and especially when it really really matters. At work she likes to play a game. When difficult people confront her she opens up and pours out kind words and sweetness just to see how long it takes to turn their attitude around. She loves to bless God and bless others.

If we had the ability to choose what would go wrong in our lives we would never learn a thing. But it’s during the times when things go wrong that you learn what you are really made of. It’s a beautiful garden. Peggy doesn’t see it, because she is always looking up. Kindness grows there, cultivated by the very hand of God. She has tended it in her heart for so long with praise it just seems as natural as drawing breath.

Cancer is a scary thing. Once you become aware of its’ potential the fear of it haunts you all of your life. It is a distant terror, not unlike other major catastrophes, but in our collective minds it is coupled with death. Cancer came to live in Peggy’s throat. It threatened to take her voice, to blot out the praises. Laughing in the face of God Cancer made a mistake. It must have caught this Freeloader of Rottenness off guard to find itself in a place where kindness for others was more important than fear for oneself. Peggy was afraid but she didn’t care. She was going to keep on singing, loving, praising, and letting God love others through her. It was harvest time in Peggy’s garden.

Peggy has shown me all right. Not just that she can sing, but that singing God’s praises brings God’s presence into our lives. There are worse things than Cancer, much worse.


Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2nd Peter 1:2-8

Lessons From a Little White Dog

First I have to set the stage.

One oft misquote of scripture is "Money is the root of all evil". I have noticed people use this when talking about someone who was caught embezzling or when they find themselves in a bad divorce where money or its misuse is one of the themes. But the correct quote is from 1 Timothy 6:10

"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (NASB)

This observation leads me to believe that as humans we like to reserve something outside ourselves for casting blame on. Money seems to be the perfect scapegoat in this instance. Scripture though won't let us get away with that. Paul correctly points the finger at the root of the problem, a heart that harbors "the love of money". Ouch! It's inside me. I have to accept responsibility, now I can't blame it on money.

Crown Financial Ministries ( identified 2,350 verses of scripture that says something about handling money. As I went to my Crown group meetings one of the things we discussed was the question, "Why do you suppose God talks to us so much about money?"

Now I can tell you about my little white dog.

Gypsy is a small to medium English pointer. My daughter brought her home to us on her last move home. Gypsy was rescued from the pound. I think her previous owner must have been a football player because she loves to tackle and body slam. Oh, did I mention she has the energy level of Taz the animated Tasmanian devil? She constantly tackles your feet and bites them as you walk by. The morning stumble down the hall is now a real treat. Playful dog biting and grabbing while I try to find the kitchen without falling down. When I finally make it to the coffeemaker Gypsy grabs her stainless steel food dish and attacks it like she did my feet crashing it and clanging it all about.

I have been working with Gypsy on obedience training and making some progress. One real area that needs work is the complete misunderstanding of the command "come". For some unexplained dog reason every time I holler, "come" she runs away. In fact it's as if she waits for the door to open just wide enough for her to bolt out. She is really so obstinate I hate chasing her down. I really just want to say, "So you want to run away - good riddance!" but she has a chip in her ear. If I let her go animal control will find her and return her. Sheesh.

One sunny summer morning I went out to check the mail. I thought I closed the door behind me. Gypsy bolted across the lawn and down the street to the corner. I was barefoot and only wearing my bathrobe. I wasn't about to chase her this time. Good riddance. I called to her only to see her tail disappear around the corner. "I'm not chasing her," I thought to myself. Then I remembered her stainless steel dog dish. I picked up her dish and dropped her chew bone inside. Clang it rang. I took it outside and started to rattle and clang it while calling Gypsy by name. Soon a little dog head peeked around the corner and saw the dish. Next thing I know I have an English pointer torpedo heading straight for me. In the house, lets get in the house. Ok so that was a good trick. But wouldn't it be better if she actually came when called?

The Lesson

So what's this got to do with money? Well the question was why do you suppose there are so many verses in the Bible about money? The answer, God speaks to us about money so much because it is something we respond to. Like Gypsy's stainless steel dish money is something we are fond of and it gets our attention. Now wouldn't it be better if we just came when called?

I don't think God is responsible for money. I believe it is an invention of man, a tool to use. Money in and of itself is neither good nor bad any more than any of the other tools in my storage shed. God loves us so much He makes use of it to get our attention. He doesn't have to. He could just let us run away and say good riddance.


Read Colossians chapter 3, Paul writes in Colossians 3:5 that greed amounts to idolatry. The solution is to consider greed dead, to be renewed in the knowledge of Christ, and to put on love and allow Christ to rule in our hearts. This is how the Holy Spirit wants us trained.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why use a megaphone in an empty room?

A friend once tried to interest me in blogs. My response was something along the lines of, “Why would I use a megaphone in an empty room?” I suppose I was thinking of blogs in terms of the old BBS days of netmail and forums. I see now that the power of search engines has changed the landscape of electronic communication.

So here I am. Hopefully more than the sound of one hand clapping.