Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Greater Call of Duty

Even if you aren’t into gaming, you have probably heard of the recent release of Activision’s latest game, “Call of Duty.” If you don’t have a gamer in the house, you may be unaware that war games have taken over the industry in recent years. In fact, “Call of Duty” will be responsible for more than half of Activision’s yearly revenue. Many analysts believe that “Call of Duty” could collect more than $1 billion in revenue and become the highest-selling game of all time. To say the least, it is a far cry from the days of Pac-Man and Tron!

Fantasies about battle are nothing new, but as we consider the idea of a real fight, battling evil, facing a true enemy, and winning a crown in a real kingdom, nothing higher than the Christian life exists. In Luke 14, Jesus reminds his disciples that one must be willing to lose his own life (26). He tells them, “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (27). Jesus wants us to know that Christianity is not just another game with unlimited lives and no cost in losing. He emphasizes that real disciples must count the cost and decide if they are strong enough to stay in this fight until the very end. “What king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (31).

Have you counted the cost? Are you ready to do battle for the Lord? Are you ready to fight Satan and the strongest enemy of all time – sin? Are you ready to win a crown of righteousness that has been prepared for those who remain faithful until the end? If so, pick up your cross and follow Jesus today…a greater life and a greater reward and a greater “call of duty” available to us today.

A “ones” in a lifetime opportunity?

Did you celebrate 11:11:11 on 11/11/11? Is there anything special about these numerical wonders that seem to captivate our attention? Is this impressive numerical palindrome cause for dancing in the streets? The media gave us a variety of “experts” today who spoke about why these numbers were so important, including making important financial decisions and pursuing love interests on this once in a lifetime day. Even Verizon got in on the action, releasing the new Droid Razr at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11. Technically, the “20” in 11/11/2011 ruins the “perfection,” but that didn’t stop amateur numerologists from sharing theories about the end of the world, politics, and religion. So is it just another day? Or is there something special about this numerical oddity?

Being able to understand the times is an important quality. The sons of Issachar had this skill and were leaders because of it (1 Chronicles 12:32). The “wise men” who allegedly had this ability misused their “skill” with King Ahasuerus (Esther 1:13). In Jesus’ day, those who should have known the Messianic era were able to predict the weather but not the most important time of history (Matthew 16:3-4). Whether New Moons or Sabbaths, end of the world predictions or numerical oddities, Jesus was clear about one thing – He is going to return. The question is, “are we prepared?” If not, why not? Are you looking for the return of the Christ or the solution to a math problem?

Here’s some math we can live by! One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father all fulfilled in one Christ who is coming to redeem those who are His. In the mean time, we have what may be a “ones” in a lifetime opportunity to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Please don’t wait too long! Find out about the grace God offers to those who obey His will.

In the mean time…happy birthday to Demi Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and other 11/11 babies. And by the way, if you missed it, don’t worry; there will be another chance in 100 years!

A Near Miss?

Did you happen to see the information NASA released about an asteroid that passed close to the Earth Tuesday? If this asteroid had hit the Earth, it would have caused a 4,000 megaton blast and a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. If it had hit the ocean, it could have caused a 70-foot high tsunami for 60 miles. Scientists and the media were quick to assure people that the asteroid, known as 2005 YU55, posed no actual threat because it would miss us by 202,000 miles, eight-tenths the distance to the moon. For us, 202,000 miles may seem like a long way, but it is a “near miss” to scientists, a miss the likes of which they haven’t seen since 1976.

I imagine many people went through Tuesday without ever hearing about or caring about this asteroid. For most of us, the threat wasn’t perceived as real. On the other hand, if the scientific community had said the asteroid would impact the Earth, I imagine that the reaction would have been quite different! What would you have done differently? Where would you have gone? Join the looters? Perhaps time alone contemplating life?

Chapters 13 and 14 in the Gospel of Mark show that Jesus knew his last moments on the Earth were coming. He chose to use that time in prayer and sharing final thoughts about the Kingdom with His disciples. He encouraged them, taught them, and prayed with and for them. After Jesus was raised from the dead, He continued to encourage and teach them. Jesus never abandoned His faith or wavered in His resolve to do the will of the Father – no matter the circumstances.

We cannot control external forces, only our reactions to them. Your next challenge might be on its way…how will you react? Whether illness, injury, or a giant rock speeding through space at 129,000 mph, how will you spend your days? Like Ezekiel 33, we who are on watch have a responsibility to announce the danger of sin. What will give you hope in those last moments? Jesus is the one, true hope.

Mind your Matzoh and your Mitzvot

Someone once asked me how to find balance between the law and love of others. Perhaps we can take a lesson from Matzoh and Mitzvah. Matzoh is unleavened bread – that stuff we eat every Sunday in the Lord’s Supper. Mitzvot are good deeds or commandments.

Every Passover, practicing Jews search their houses to ensure they have removed all yeast (leaven). This law is explained in Exodus 12 & 13 when Israel is given the legal aspects of the Passover. “Minding your Matzoh” means, keep the unclean or evil thing from your house. This is what Jesus was doing when he cleansed the Temple of the money changers during Passover. While Israelites were removing yeast from their houses at Passover, Jesus showed them that he would remove the unclean, evil thing from his Father’s house.

According to the traditional Jewish interpretation of scripture, there are 613 Mitzvot or commandments. If you follow or teach others to follow a commandment, it is said you have done a Mitzvah, a good deed. So you might help someone cross the street today, and that would be a Mitzvah, a good deed. Certainly, Jesus taught that we must do good deeds (Luke 6:9).

Finding balance between the two can be difficult. If we do nothing but mind the law, we may lack love toward others. Similarly, if we do nothing other than good deeds, we may lack adherence to the law. It is an effort to follow laws and help our fellow-man.

For the Christian, balance includes doing good deeds and following laws, but if we don’t have God in our hearts, then we’re just people-helpers and rule-followers. Unfortunately, for many people, following God’s Laws and helping others would be a step up. Nevertheless, it doesn’t get us any closer to heaven or salvation. We cannot work our way into heaven. The only way to heaven is through Christ. Once we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of God in our hearts, then and only then, can we be about our Father’s business of minding matzoh and mitzvah – law and good deeds.