Monthly Archives: February 2014

Now That Is Inflation!

inflationSomeone in the congregation sent me a picture the other day with the title, “Inflation at Wal-Mart.” How long did you have to look at the  picture before you figured out why?

Most of us have to take a double take just to make sure. We would never expect a vegetable to cost $68 a piece! A decimal point sure makes a difference, doesn’t it?

Inflation is when the cost of goods rises and each unit of money purchases fewer goods. Or, to put it simply, stuff costs more but you don’t have more money to pay for it. We see the effects of inflation all the time: soft drinks, movies, gas, etc. Even the $.99 menu items are $1.49 now, and the dollar theater costs $3!

Marketing people (especially Wal-Mart employees) spend a lot of time and effort trying to make sure that we are happy with the price we are paying for something. It is called “value-based pricing.” But when we see a price that is far too expensive such as the sign above, we are shocked by the discrepancy between the actual value and the advertised price.

Have you ever gotten something that you thought was a bargain? What about a deal that was too good to be true? One you almost felt guilty about? Well that is exactly what God did for us in the price that was paid for our salvation. What price would you put on your soul? How would you compare that value to God’s Son’s life? What would you be willing to pay for eternal salvation and life in Heaven with God?

Clearly, we don’t have that kind of money. And nothing we can do would ever be enough to buy a spot in heaven. The cost is too great and the purchasing power we have is far too low. But God gave us grace. He spent the precious blood of His Son on our behalf.

I wouldn’t pay $68 for a vegetable, but I would gladly spend my days being thankful to a God who loves me enough to send His Son to die for me. How will you spend your days? Thanking Him with obedient faith is a great way to budget!

 

Watch How You Teach!

Suicide BomberPay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16

Suicide attacks are no laughing matter. And the loss of life is never humorous. But Iraqi citizens are sleeping a little better and enjoying a bit of irony because of an accident at a suicide bomber training camp in Northern Baghdad last week.

As reported by the New York Times, the accident happened at a terrorist training camp associated with an Al Qaeda splinter group known as “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Apparently, a bomb exploded when an instructor was demonstrating how to make and use belt explosives to would be suicide bombers. The instructor and all 21 students died in the accident.

Now, it would be easy to laugh at their misfortune, as in, “Pay attention, I’m only going to do this once!” But based on the daily bombings that take place in that part of the world, this is merely a short-lived respite for the residents of Iraq. Sadly, there will be many more suicide bombers and more deaths.

But it is a good reminder to all of us that what we teach and how we teach are extremely important! Teachers have a special responsibility. They are charged with the task of carefully imparting knowledge to their students. And each of us will be judged by what we taught in this life.

The Apostle Paul knew this fact very well. He stressed to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, that we ought to handle the gospel with great care. If perverted into “another gospel,” false teaching can be more damaging to a soul than a terrorist’s bomb. That is why we take great care with God’s Word.

The differences, though, are obvious. Terrorists and suicide bombers bring death, but the gospel brings life. Terrorists work with explosives that kill, but the Christian works with God’s grace that brings mercy. Hear the good news of Christ and teach it carefully to others…their lives, and your own, depend on it!

Don’t Panic…Get Bread and Milk!

bread

Bread and milk. It is snowing and I don’t have bread and milk!!! Don’t panic…or should we?

Ok. We have all heard of someone making a mad rush to the store to buy “bread and milk” as soon as they hear the word “snow” on the news. Perhaps we have done the same thing. But have you ever stopped to wonder why “bread and milk” specifically? Psychologists give two interesting reasons for the “psychology of panic stockpiling.”

#1 “Stockpiling makes us feel in control.”

Lisa Brateman, a New York City-based psychotherapist says that running out and buying perishables gives the buyer a sense of control. Even if it all spoils because the power goes out we feel ready for whatever the storm throws at us.

#2 “It makes the storm feel temporary.”

Interestingly, panic stockpilers generally don’t grab cans of Vienna sausages and spam! Although purchasing non-perishables is probably more practical, psychologist Judy Rosenberg, Ph.D., believes that it would be a “psychological admission that you’ve surrendered to waiting out the storm.” Buying perishables is about optimism – a belief that the storm isn’t going to last long.

The truth is that we aren’t in control when the storms of life come, and we don’t know how long they will last. But the Bible tells us how to be ready: get some BREAD and MILK!

In the bible, bread and milk aren’t bought at stores in a frenzy, but rather, they are necessary for every day life. In John 6:48-51 Jesus explains that He is the “bread of life” that must be eaten in order to go to heaven. In 1 Peter 2:2, Peter reminds us that we must “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

There is nothing better for daily growth, or to have stockpiled in a crisis, than the bread of life and the milk of the word. And you don’t have to worry about them being out of stock! So if it does snow…curl up with your Bible and enjoy some real bread and milk.

I’ll Take “A Better Way” for $1,000, Alex!

arthur-chu-jeopardy-facebook[1]Americans love to see an underdog win. We love to see a “Rocky Balboa” fighting and clawing his way to victory. But every now and then someone finds a way to win that seems too easy. Some people react with an “aha” moment: “it is so simple…now I see! Why weren’t we doing that all along?” But many people react by crying out, “no fair” and “cheat.” Turns out, most audiences don’t like to see someone change the way to win! It is the old fraternity idea…I was hazed so I’m going to haze the next guy.

 Arthur Chu has learned this sad fact the hard way. Chu, who recently won his 3rd straight victory on Jeopardy, is making national news because Jeopardy audiences have grown increasingly hostile toward him (some even boo when he wins).  Why? Chu doesn’t play right! He doesn’t grind out question after question from easier to harder in the traditional way. He tries to find daily doubles, answers more valuable questions, and wins based on strategy rather than most correct answers.

 And they hate him for it. Audiences are calling for Chu to be taken off the show! Why? Because things that are “too simple” are usually equated with cheating.

People didn’t know how to take Jesus’ strategy either. It just didn’t seem right. He said, the last would be first. He said if you want to lead, serve others. He said if you want to be righteous, follow Him, not the traditions of the Pharisees. But people had been working really hard at doing things the Pharisee way for a long time! It was hard, very hard…too hard. People suffered while trying to follow all the rules the Pharisees had put on them.

 Jesus showed them an easier burden, a lighter yoke. Of course, that message seems too simple to many people today, as it did in Jesus’ day. And they crucified Him for it. It seems like cheating. If someone can turn away from their old lifestyle (no matter how bad), confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, they can get into heaven???

 Of course, that is often easier said than done. It takes a change of heart, a change of mind, and a willingness to submit to something larger than ourselves. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. Jesus gave us an easier pattern – true worship, in His name and according to His authority. It is a winning pattern; won’t you give it a try?