Visiting Day

This devotional first appeared in the LaPlata Home Press, August 7, 2002

He was looking forward to this moment all day long, after six days of labor, it finally arrived-Visiting Day!! The man with the keys arrived to swing open the large, heavy doors. The cold, grey hall springs to life in the warm glow of light. He could hardly control his emotions.

The families began to arrive. He peers from the corner of the room longing for the first glimpse of his loved ones. He lives for the weekends. He lives for the visits.

As the cars arrive, he watches intently. Then finally she arrives, his bride, for whogs used to be. At one point, they break into singing, with interruptions of laughter and applause.

But all too soon it is over. A tear comes to his eye as his bride departs. Then the man with the keys closes the doors. He hears the key turn in the lock marking the end of a special day. There he stands, alone again. He knows that most of his visitors will not contact him again til next week. As the last car pulls away from the parking lot, Jesus retreats into loneliness as He waits until next Sunday-Visiting Day. [Borrowed from the Knob Noster Christian Church Newsletter, The Door Knob, David Jordan, Minister].

I share this story with you to ask you these questions. How much time do you spend with Jesus? Has Sunday just become visiting day for you? Is it the only day that you spend with Jesus? And is it only for an hour or two? Does visiting day come around less frequently than it used (maybe once a month or even less)? Or do you spend time daily with God as you should?

My wish is that you take of Jesus’ promise that He is always with us (Matthew 28:20). The truth is that our lives have become so compartmentalized that we have our life at work, our life at home, our life at school, our life at church, etc…and we conform to the image of the situation rather than conforming to the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29). The result, the weakening of faith and convictions. The power of the Holy Spirit is in the life of the Christian and yet not utilized and Satan wins another battle in our lives.

My challenge to you is to let the presence of Christ permeate every aspect of your life. Let Christ dwell in your hearts and fill you with his power so that daily you are becoming more and more like Christ. Let’s live every day for him. Let’s strive to be like him. Don’t miss the opportunity to be near him all the time, to hear his voice, to love his people, to remember our first love (Revelation 24-5).

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At What Level?

I am convinced that the measure of a person’s faith and the effectiveness of a church does not amount to how big things are. How big an impact is made. How big a program or an event is. How powerful something is that makes you feel spiritual, blessed, or simply just makes you feel good.

We live in the Mega-age. Everything is huge. Mega-stores, mega-malls, mega-events, mega-churches and on it goes, mega-trends. Something is troubling about the mega-trends to me, especially in Christianity.

I wish to address this in generalities for the moment. The Bible, our only rule and final guide of faith, in the New Testament overall, presents faith and Christianity as small group interaction and evangelism after the day of Pentecost, mostly as one-on-one, individual. Think coffee-house sized groups and sharing your faith with someone in their living-room.

A friend of mine is a campus minister, once for over 20 years at a small university of about 6000 and now at a major university in the Midwest of about 40,000. The way he leads these campus ministries is mostly through small groups and one-on-one encounters. There are small groups of all sort, men’s, women’s, fraternity, and various Bible study groups and his evangelism and mentoring is even smaller, individually. In terms of methods, it is most effective.

Yet in this culture of mega-everything, the count is about the largest number of people, and/or programs, and/or small type of big thing. Yet, Philip preached to an Ethiopian official (Acts 8), Jesus mentored a small group of 12 (read the Gospels). Paul spoke to large groups of people but mentored people and evangelized individuals in small groups and individually.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit down with me as we consider what level spirituality and faith grows in.

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What I’m Thinking

I’ve been thinking quite a bit but haven’t been able to articulate what is running around in my head. I have been concerned with celebrity worship, especially in our churches. I am concerned with everything Christian having to be so big and everyone participate in nationwide programs. I am concerned with Christianity that is placid and inactive.

Coming soon!

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The Bungee Truck

This devotion first appeared on September 18, 2002 in the LaPlata Home Press.

A commercial a few years ago by the GMC truck division showed a truck sitting on a ramp mounted on the side of a bridge over a very deep gorge. All at once, someone pulls a lever and the ramp tilts and the truck rolls off the ramp. The truck is attached to a bungee cord and as it falls, the first thought one might have is, “Will the bungee cord snap?” Of course the truck stretches the cord to its limit and bounces back into the air (see commercial below).

This seemed like a bunch of foolishness to me. I saw the commercial many times and still wondered what the purpose of the commercial was, until, one day as I watched, I also paid attention to the commentator. Before, the only purpose I could imagine the commercial to be about was to show that the bungee cord was capable of holding the weight of the truck and the physical properties of gravity as the truck reached the limits of the cord. As I listened to the commentator, I realized that they were illustrating the strength of the truck’s frame and towing capacities as the forces of gravity worked against the truck.

When we study the Bible, especially prophecy, and in particular the book of Revelation, we see pictures described and wonder, “What is the book really about?” and, “What do these symbols and pictures mean?” Though the pictures are real, the message is given by the author, who is Jesus. That message is one of encouragement, hope, and victory for the Christian. Therefore, instead of focusing all of our attention on the pictures in Revelation, we need to focus on the message presented to avoid the confusion of misunderstanding and misapplying the pictures. It is like seeing the commercial and not understanding the meaning at all.

The key to understanding the book is presented in the first three chapters of Revelation. The one who overcomes by faith and faithfulness, no matter what, will inherit eternal life with God the Father and Christ the Savior. What a picture! What a promise! What a God!!

All scripture quotations are from the New American Standard.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_dXgp4dpAE

Memory

This first appeared in the LaPlata Home Press September 11, 2002 in a weekly devotional called Flowing From the Mouth of the Jordan.

When I was 3 1/2 years old, my parents, my Grandma Dillman, and I took a trip out east.  We went to Gettysburg, Niagra Falls, and other special places of interest. The next year we went to the Rockie Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Knotts Berry Farm as well as other places of interest of interest to us.  I remember blotches of these moments. For instance, the only thing I remember at Knotts Berry Farm was riding the train. I sat in a seat by myself (remember I am 4 1/2 years old) and two guys dressed as western bandits sit behind me and tell me to “stick-em-up.” My parents told me I told them “NO!”

Most of what I’ve told you I barely remember. In fact, the details of what I could tell you about each situation have been filled in by my parents, especially by the pictures they took of these two trips.

Every Sunday, when God’s church gathers in each church building, the church shares together in the Lord’s Supper (i.e., Communion). The Lord’s Supper is a sharing in remembering what God has done in Christ on the cross. We were not there when he nailed and died and taken down and laid in a tomb (John 19:17-20:10). We were not there when he bore our sins on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). But, when we came in faith to Christ in baptism, we participated in Jesus’ death for our sins (Romans 6:3-8) and the Lord’s Supper reminds us of the depth of love God has for us, and the forgiveness we’ve received in Christ through our faith and obedience.

Just like the pictures of my family’s trips fill in the blanks of my memory, reminding me of what happened in Gettysburg, and Colorado, etc., the Lord’s Supper reminds us of the work of the cross in our lives. The cross brings forgiveness of sins to those who have faith. For the Christian, participating in the Lord’s supper is as if we are participating in the cross, because Jesus experienced our sin in his suffering.

All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Version.

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The Flush Toilet

What innovation had the most impact on life n the twentieth century? A popular survey asked this question when (sic) we approached the year 2000. Many conveniences were suggested; washing machines; hair dryers; canned food; improved communications; radio; TV and more. However, the number one response was indoor plumbing, specifically, the flush toilet. People are most grateful that not only do they not have to carry in water from an outdoor well but they do not have to visit the outhouse. Of all the great technological marvels of the twentieth century, indoor plumbing captured the hearts of most Americans.

What will be the number one innovation in the twenty-first century? Voice activated computers; cars that drive themselves or air travel like on the cartoon The Jetsons; cures for disease or something else? Who really cares? Stuff happens and things change. Who would have believed that the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903 would have led to air travel being such a major source of transportation, or that the first computer (which was as big as a house and had millions of parts) would lead to computers being so important.

Innovation and invention are the result of God-given abilities (thinking, creativity, and ability to produce ideas). The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8.* Things and times change, Jesus doesn’t. The Hebrew writer continues with a warning to not be carried away by many and strange doctrines (verse 9). Beliefs change and deceive many people. There are many gods, materialism, sexual addictions, drugs, alcohol, and more. Innovations come and go. Religious beliefs come and go and many are rehashed. However, Jesus never changes. Christianity under Jesus’ rule is never altered. Whatever comes, whatever goes, there is one we can trust who does not come and go, who never changes, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

* Scripture reference is from the New International Version of the Bible

This first appeared in the July 31, 2002 LaPlata Home Press

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