An Open Garage Policy…And Giving God The Authority You Gave Your HOA

Homeowner Associations (HOA’s) can be annoying, but they are created to protect property values and to provide services for neighborhoods. If neighborhoods have no rules, things can go downhill fast. So, for the most part, we accept their rules. Sometimes, though, overly zealous HOA’s can go a little too far.

For example, recently, a California HOA discovered that a family had been housing another family in their garage. So the HOA took action. Their solution? They demanded that all houses must leave their garage doors open from 8am to 4pm!

Now, I’m pretty sure none of us would like that idea. Residents, of course, voiced security concerns. But they also didn’t want people staring at their stuff all day. After all, don’t we cram stuff in our garages to hide it?

Some homeowners say they will pay the fines and face the consequences. Most homeowners, though, are complying. You see, they signed over their rights. So, the best they can do is to ask the board to change their mind…and live with an open garage door in the meantime.

I wonder if most of us give our HOA power that we don’t even give to God. What I mean is this: What if God expected you to open your life to Him, leave your valuables vulnerable to Him, and to allow Him to peer into your life all day? Would you sign that authority over to Him?

Of course, God doesn’t need permission; he can see through garages and into our hearts and minds. But He wants willing participants. Sadly, most of us forfeit far more authority to human institutions than we give to the sovereign ruler of the universe.

“Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). Invite God to rule your life, your home, and possessions. Open your spiritual garage door, not because you were forced by an HOA, but because, as the Psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my thoughts (Psalm 139:23).

Will you hand ALL of yourself to Him today?

Happy Birthday, James Meadows!

Today, rather than the usual article, I’d like to give a shout out to James Meadows for his 88th Birthday coming up this weekend! Many of you already know who James is. But if you don’t, James was one of my instructors at ETSPM, now SEIBS, and he is a true reflection of Christ-likeness.

I’d like to share 4 memories of James as I thank him and wish him a happy birthday…

#1, James used gentle, but direct, correction. One time, when discussing a Bible study I was having with someone, I shared my frustration at their lack of progress. Somewhat jokingly, I said, “Sometimes you just want to shake people!” James looked me sternly in the eye, and said, “GREGORY, was that the way you were converted?” I sheepishly answered, “no, sir.” Ever since, I have tried to remember to allow people to grow and examine the evidence at their own pace.

#2, When a student said something correct, (or just obvious), James often replied, “this, of course, is true.” He knows truth when he hears it, because he studies truth and speaks truth. He taught us without judgment, but with conviction. His loving, yet honest style even got him invited to preach at some interesting places! In the years since school, I continue to grow in my appreciation of his style of truth spoken in love.

#3, He expected excellence. When I got a 99 or 100 on a test, he would always say, “Is that the best you can do?” He was joking – I think! He was never mean about grades or overbearing. He simply gave his best, and he expected it from us as well. I appreciate that.

#4, He always had time for students. I think it was because he was the first one to school and got his work done by 5am! You simply couldn’t beat the guy there. But James always took time for his students – in the hallway, his office, or the classroom. He genuinely tried to help us succeed in every way.

James, I truly appreciate you! Happy birthday, and may God bless you, brother!

A Couple of Good Purim Lessons For Everyone

Do you celebrate Purim? Unless you are a Jewish child, or have Jewish children/grandchildren, Purim probably isn’t big on your to-do list today. But even if you aren’t celebrating, or Jewish, we can all learn good lessons from this holiday.

Purim comes from Esther, the last book of history in the Old Testament. It takes place when Persians ruled (mid-400’s B.C.). It is a “rabbinical” holiday, meaning that it was not instituted by God’s command, i.e., Passover, Yom Kippur, etc. Rather, somewhat like the 4th of July, it is a celebration of a great victory.

The holiday gets its name from the plural of “pur” or lots. Haman wanted to kill all the Jewish people because a Jewish man named Mordechai would not bow down to him. “Lots” were cast to choose a day for all Jews to be killed in their towns. Instead, though, by God’s providential care, and the work of Esther, God’s people were saved. A day of celebration, “Purim,” commemorates that victory.

Today, Jews celebrate Purim with:

  • Reading Esther.
  • Giving gifts to the poor – a reminder to help the less fortunate.
  • Festivities: decorations, costumes, food, music, etc.

You might ask, “What does that have to do with me?” Consider two great lessons from Purim…

First, Esther was in the right place at the right time to help people. We are equally in the right place at the right time to do something for God’s glory. What is it? I’m not sure what your calling is, but “for such a time as this” you have a purpose! Read Romans 12 and consider your spiritual gift for God’s purpose.

Secondly, Purim celebrates salvation from certain death. A letter of death was sent and their fate was sealed. God intervened. Today, Christians are also saved from the certain death of sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23). But do you celebrate that fact? Remember to thank God for salvation!

So…you may not be dressing up, celebrating, or eating yummy Hamantashen today, but it is always a good time to review some scripture, remember God’s providential care, and rejoice in His victory!

CDs May Be Out, But No Matter The Format, Spread The Word!

This summer marks the end of an era. Best Buy is announcing that, like K-Mart before them and so many others who are following suit, they will no longer sell CD’s. Goodbye. Eject.

If you’re like me, you’ve lived through a few music format changes. I used to own vinyl albums, 45’s, and cases of cassettes. I even had a friend who had an 8-track player in his car! Only niche listeners use those formats anymore. (see graph)

But when CD’s emerged, people praised their clear sound and portability. And, (unless you scratched them) they were supposed to last “forever.” Well, think again!

The announcement highlights an important fact – nothing in this world is forever.

Do you even remember what was the last physical CD was that you bought? These days, music is everywhere: Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, etc. You can stream it, download it, or subscribe to a satellite radio. Automobile manufacturers even warn that CDs in cars will soon disappear.

One thing is certain when it comes to technology; it will change! And, this fact is a great reminder for Christians. While God does not change, adapting to new formats is important; nothing (on this earth) lasts forever!

Not long ago, churches agonized over using PPT in worship. Some preachers still insist on hearing “page turning” rather than digital devices for Bible reading. Many people don’t share blogs or sermons online because they won’t learn new formats.

Don’t get me wrong – CD’s will still be around for a while, and there is no need to throw away your printed Bible just because others use a Kindle, phone, or tablet. If you prefer the page turning that’s just fine with the Lord. But as we reach out to others, we should do everything we can to reach as many as we can (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Of course, we must never compromise the truth. Nevertheless, we must consider new formats that meet scriptural moral standards. The times may be a-changing, God doesn’t! (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). The eternal truth of God’s Word never changes…no matter what the format.