IS IT ABOUT CHRIST

Do you get a little frustrated when someone says to you, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas?” It is interesting to me that we get interested in Christmas trees, Christmas programs, and Christmas gifts, but I sincerely wonder how much our focus is really on Christ? Some who get all excited about saying Merry Christmas haven’t really focused much on Jesus Christ all year long and whether someone says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas isn’t going to change who is at the center of your life. Let’s be honest, what are the things that really become our main interest during this season of the year? I don’t know exactly when Jesus was born and I know there is nothing in the Bible about the exact time of that birth or even us celebrating it. But I am grateful for anything that leads us to focus on Jesus more in life.

Gifts, family, dinners, church events, lighting trees, and going to programs and plays that supposedly reenact the birth of Jesus all seem like good things to do and they may well be. But I sincerely doubt that most of them leave me thinking more about Jesus in my life as Savior, Lord, and redeemer. Perhaps the best thing we could do would be to actually open the Bible and read the story of Jesus’ birth. But I must remember that while Jesus’ birth was a wonderful thing, it was his life as God in the flesh that made the difference. It was his death on our behalf on the cross that made it possible for us to be saved. It was his resurrection from the dead that demonstrated most powerfully that he had fought Satan in his most powerful arena and came out the victor over death, over the last enemy to be destroyed at his coming. It was his ascension to set down at the right hand of God and reign as king over his kingdom, head of the church and the mediator for us because he wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth that gives fullness of joy. Just before Jesus ascended back to the Father he not only gave us the great commission or mission for the church and for each member of it, to make disciples as we go about in the world, by baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.

I’m blessed as a dad to have three daughters, who all have husbands and each of them had three children all but one of which are now married and from that group, we have nine great-grandchildren, so far. What if when our family gathers during the Christmas season, all I focused on was the birth of all these grown children and grandchildren and talked about how great they looked as babies?

While I certainly have no problem with celebrating any aspect of Jesus birth, life, reign or return, it is vital to remember that Jesus in a manger was only a tiny part of the story and that if I’m to think as I should I need to celebrate “Christ” in all points of his life from before creation to heaven when he leads us by eternal fountains of water and wipes all tears from our eyes.

Two things that are extremely important to remember always are that no single part of Jesus’ life is enough. I need to see his whole life and ministry. Second, no one day of thinking about any aspect of Jesus is nearly enough. We may have wonderful celebrations of Christmas and Easter or other such great days of vast importance, but what God is always calling us to do is to focus our lives on Him and being like him, following him and leaning on Him every day in everything that I think, say or do. “Christ in you is the hope of glory.” Paul pictured his ministry as one of having Christ formed in the lives of those who were followers of Christ.

With the angels shout, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men” at his birth. Sing with all your heart, “Jesus is Lord”. Glory in the fact that “He is risen”, and “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” Jesus is just as much with us today wherever we may be as he was in Bethlehem for his birth. I hope you have a great Christmas, but I hope you think every day that the one born in Bethlehem was “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” We never need to walk alone in this world or the next. Merry Christmas!

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AS A FATHER DEALS WITH HIS CHILDREN

Being a father is one of the greatest blessings, opportunities, and challenges we face in life. It is pretty tough to find a dad whose children are older who will talk about what an easy job it is or how one ought to do it. We can usually offer the best advice when we don’t have children, our children are very small or when we are a long way from home and people don’t know much about how we really do. But, being a godly father is one of the most important responsibilities we have in life. It is truly one of the greatest ways we can change the future for good. One of the greatest tragedies in our world is the huge number of absentee fathers who leave their children to be brought up and shown the way by their moms. Praise God for godly mothers who try their very best to be both father and mother to their children but God never intended for a child to grow up without a dad at home to help them and train them.

One of the greatest passages of Scripture on the work of a dad is found in an unusual context. In I Thessalonians 2:11-12 it says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” Paul in this same context describes his work among them as being like a nursing mother, so it isn’t exclusively about treating them like a father. But it sets for us a picture both of his work among the people in getting this new church on a solid footing and it demonstrates for us what the Holy Spirit led him to say about the work of a good dad.

If you are a father, have a father or know someone that is a father that you might pass this on to, focus with me on the three jobs he gives to dads in bringing up their children. By the way, I don’t think these three duties stop just because our children grow up. These things stand as our responsibility as long as we live and have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

We are to encourage them. Let’s face it there is no lack of discouragement in the world, so they certainly don’t need to get an extra dose of it from their dads. To encourage involves several things. First, it is the idea of filling with courage. Second, it is to build them up in the good things of life, to tell and show how much we believe in them and what they can do that is good and right. Third, to encourage is to be there for the child, to listen to their hurts, to share and forgive mistakes and let them know that you believe in them and what they can accomplish. Fourth, and most important of all, if we are to encourage well, it will involve pointing them to God Almighty, showing them that living for Him brings fullness, peace, and meaning to life.

Fathers are to be ones that comfort their children. There has never been a child growing up that hasn’t been hurt, disappointed and gotten down because of things not going the way they thought they would or should. Imagine a child involved in sports as they are learning the game or as they are playing as one who has been on the team for years. There will be times when the very plays that have seemed easy before, don’t work and they mess up and even get hurt. That father that uses such times to ridicule their child and tell them to “grow up” or “be a man” is working for the devil in hell rather than the Lord. They don’t need anyone else to tell them of their mess-ups and failures. They need a father who will walk beside them when others won’t. They need a dad that will listen to all of how they feel and say, “I understand how you feel and have felt that way many times myself.” I know we often have that mentality that mothers are to be the comforters and dads the disciplinarian, but both need to fulfill both responsibilities for a child to have a great set of parents.

Fathers are to urge their children to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. Teaching and training a child in the way they should go involves helping them to know the right from the wrong, the good from the bad and the understanding and will to live the way God wants us to live no matter what everyone around us may think or say. If we do well at urging our children to live worthy of the Lord, it is completely necessary that we walk that life ourselves. The notion I can live like the devil and tell my children to not do as I do but as I say is simply a way of fooling ourselves and making us feel better. It does nothing but harm to the child. When fathers lead their family as part of the kingdom and glory of God, they are being exactly the kind of father their child needs and the kind of dad God calls us to be.

Today, would you join me in a prayer for every dad in the world? “Gracious and loving Father in heaven, it is such a blessing that you would allow us to share with you in being fathers and that you trust us to bring our children up for you. Father, it is both a rich blessing and a scary responsibility when we think of what all is necessary to be a good dad. I pray for every father in this world today that you would help us to know our importance in our children’s lives and that we can’t fulfill that need without being there with and for our children. Father help every dad to know that the best thing they can do for their children is to love their mother with all their being and teach them how to live as husbands and wives and parents in the family. I pray there will be a complete turn around in the world and there will not be absentee fathers or fathers that abandon their children due to their own selfish thinking. Father, please open our eyes as dads to see the glorious opportunity you have given us in mold our own children for you and to lean on you to lead them in the way to live with and for you forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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TO HIS FACE

What do you do when you realize someone is wrong on something and what they are doing is actually spreading the wrong and even convincing others to go in the wrong direction? It would be easy to go to one particular Scripture and use it as the standard for every situation because there are many times in the Bible when people, even those trying hard to do right, did wrong and needed to be corrected. Jesus said if we saw someone sinning we were to go to the person first just between us and them and try to correct the problem. Only when that failed were we to take one or two with us so that everything might be confirmed and only then should it go to the church if the person refuses to repent.

In Acts 18 when Apollos came to Ephesus to preach the gospel in the Synagogue and was powerfully proclaiming Jesus as the Christ to the crowd, Aquila and Priscilla were in the crowd to hear him and they realized that while he was teaching in a great way most of the things that were right, that he was not teaching the truth on baptism, knowing only the baptism of John. They took him aside talked to him, teaching him more correctly the gospel of Christ and the difference between John’s baptism and that of Jesus. After teaching him better they commended him as a preacher and sent letters to others to encourage them to receive him.

But there is a story found in Galatians 2:11-21 of Paul being in Antioch preaching the gospel when Peter came for a visit. In the beginning, it was all going great. Peter was eating and fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians in Antioch and it was a tremendous experience. But then a group of Jewish Christians came down from Jerusalem that were friends of James and Peter pulled away from fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians and started just eating with the Jews. His actions even led Barnabas to join in the Jewish group and separate from the rest of the church. What would you have done in such a situation? Obviously, it was such a public thing and was doing tremendous harm to the church and the very possibility of real fellowship between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Paul opposed him to his face, “because he stood condemned.” He was being a hypocrite and was leading others to do the same thing. “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law because by the works of the law no one will be justified. But if in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.”

Paul will go on to point out that he through the law had died to the law so that he might live for God. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

So, when should a person be opposed to their face and when is it right to do so before the whole church rather than in private? It seems obvious that it is always the right thing if we see wrong being done that the right person for us to talk to about the wrong is the one doing it and not go out to tell everyone else we meet or talk with about what we see that they are doing wrong. There is never a right time to go to others, whether on facebook or anything else to attack the wrong on another person when we can go directly to the person and confront the wrong.

But that is different from doing so in front of the whole crowd. Most of the time the best way to handle anything of that nature is as privately as possible so that the wrong can be corrected and life can move on. Sometimes in making such a move we learn that we are the ones who are wrong and what we heard wasn’t true. But there are times when the actions of a person are not only hurting them and a few others that might be talked to personally but is indeed leading a whole group of people astray and may lead to the dividing of the church itself. In such a time the opposition should be public, before the group, with the opportunity for the one we feel is wrong to either repent of the sin or to defend their actions to show we misjudged the matter. But it is not right to allow anyone to do things or say things that are wrong that will hurt the whole body of Christ and say nothing. Sometimes, the only answer is to confront to the face, in front of the crowd.

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NOT MY WILL

“I did it my way” was a popular song a generation ago. But the philosophy certainly didn’t stop being popular when the song wasn’t being sung much anymore. Too often, in life, the attitude is “My way or the highway.” On the job, it’s common for people to demand their way or they will leave or go on strike. In the family, it certainly takes place that husbands or wives declare, “it’s got to be my way or I’m not participating.” Even with the children they usually reach a point of demanding they have their way about what to eat, drink or where to go or what to do.

I suppose it is normal this time of year with the political season in progress that we would become even more attuned to what we want and how can we get it. It just seems to be everywhere you look there is a group marching, demanding attention in some fashion to get their way. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the same mentality comes to church and different people are so sure that their way is the right way that if you don’t do things the way they want then they are either mad, quitting or headed somewhere else where they suppose, at least for a time, that everything will go the way they want it to go.

By the way, let me make this clear, that I’m not just talking about other people. I like things to go my way. I have very definite ideas on how things ought to be and often believe that if that isn’t the way they are done then something is horribly wrong and wonder what is wrong with others that they can’t see that the way I think is right is the right way altogether.

But then, I remember Jesus in one of the most crucial hours of history and for the future of the entire world. He came into this world knowing the plan of God for his life and ultimate sacrifice for all people so that we might have new hope and new opportunity and a new future. But, he was now facing the final hours on this earth before being beaten, mocked, spit upon and crucified mercilessly for the crimes and sins that others had committed. He traveled along with eleven of the apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane, a familiar place for him to go and pray with them. He left all but Peter, James, and John behind and went further where he instructed them to watch and pray with him because he was deeply troubled. He traveled on a stone’s throw further and fell on his face in agony as he prayed, “Father. if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” His agony was so great that the sweat fell like great drops of blood.

When he got up and went back to the three disciples, they were sound asleep. They wanted to be able to be there for him but they were weak. He asked them again to watch and pray with him that they might not enter into temptation and went again to repeat the prayer to the Father. It happened three times and then he came to them to say arise. The time had come for him to meet the mob, to face the trials, to be mistreated, and rejected. He would carry his cross to Golgotha where they would crucify him even though he had the power at any moment to stop it, to call for twelve legions of angels to come and destroy this whole mob of hypocrites. Instead, he prayed, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

The single act of history that made it possible for our sins to be forgiven happened because of the heart of Jesus that didn’t demand his way but yielded to God’s way. Many times in life it would be much more godly to simply yield our will to someone else instead of pushing for our way.

But in the church or family or any other part of a Christian’s life, the real test is will we yield to God’s will and pray for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, rather than trying to press our will to be done on earth and in heaven? The church can only be God’s church when God’s will is what really matters. If the essence of our existence isn’t reading, praying, studying and reasoning with each other to know and follow His will in everything, nothing else will matter. If we can gather the biggest crowd, with the most exciting worship and most eloquent speakers but the primary thought isn’t doing what God wants, it is a royal waste of time.

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THE PATH TO FREEDOM

The desire for freedom lives deep in the hearts of all people. We don’t want to be held by chains whether real or ones in our mind or heart. Yet freedom is rare no matter where we live. We can be enslaved by memories of things that have happened years before, sometimes even generations before that we just can’t turn loose of. We may be enslaved by hatred for someone that we feel or know has wronged us or our family to the degree we simply can’t get away from it. We may be enslaved by prejudice so that we look at people of any particular group and think that if someone is of that race, background or religious body, they must be of a particular sort. Often it goes back to someone we have known from one of these groups and we then assumed that everyone of that group must be the same. Think of countries where just being identified as a Christian makes the people there believe that you are out to kill them or destroy them in some way. How many times in your life have your prejudices been shattered because you got to know someone personally who was of the very group you believed was all bad and they turned out to be good, caring and helpful people?

One of Jesus’ primary purposes in coming into this world and living among us was to offer freedom. He said, “If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32). In Romans 6:17-18 Paul said, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” In 2 Corinthians 3:17 it says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” But two of the strongest statements about freedom in Christ are in Galatians 5. In verse one “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Then in verse 13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

I know that I can have freedom from my sins as I turn from those sins in repentance and am forgiven by the Lord for the sin, thus bringing freedom from the sin. Even though I may have sinned in some horrible ways, there is no lack of cleansing power in the blood of Christ and even the worst of sinners can be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God (I Corinthians 6:9-11). But how can I be free from those things that enslave me in life? How do I overcome the hate or prejudice or distrust that fills my heart because of things that have been done to me that were wrong and overcome that kind of slavery?The truth is, it is the very same process involved. Often people that have wronged us in some way or whom we fear or distrust, have repented of the wrong and asked for forgiveness. When such happens, the ball is in my court. I can forgive and move on or I can question their sincerity and refuse to forgive. As hard as it is to forgive in such times, it is worth remembering that Jesus said if a person sins against you seven times in a day and turns again to say, “I repent” forgive them. The disciples realized that would be hard and asked the Lord to “increase our faith.” Notice Jesus didn’t say to examine their repentance. Only God is capable of searching¬†the hearts and minds. Our place is simply to forgive when someone says they are sorry or repenting of the sin.

But what if they don’t repent? What if they never show any regret or do anything to try to make up for the wrong done? First, sometimes people don’t repent because they don’t really understand that they have done you any wrong. So, I must go to the person who did the wrong, by myself and between me and them in the humblest way possible confront them for the wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Many times they will repent at that point and you can forgive and move on. Jesus said if they didn’t then take one or two witnesses to confirm the whole thing and try again. If that didn’t work then take it to the church and if that didn’t work then let the person be to you as an unbeliever.

But let me suggest something else. Jesus was being crucified by a mob who hated him because he wasn’t the Christ they wanted him to be. Their accusations were false and he had done them no wrong, yet they wanted him dead. The amazing thing is the first thing Jesus prayed when hanging on the cross was, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” You might say, well that was Jesus, no ordinary person could do that, but Stephen did in Acts 7 when he was being stoned to death by an angry mob who hated his message.

Sometimes, the answer for me, whether the other person ever changes or repents or not is to simply forgive it and leave it in the hands of God to deal with the person. When I forgive, it allows the hate, the fear, the prejudice and the longing for revenge to flow out of my life and I can be free from the slavery that has kept me in chains.

Someone might well say, “But Leon, you don’t know what I’ve had to deal with. You just can’t understand how hard it would be to just forgive and turn it loose.” No, I’m sure I can’t. But the truth is no one knows what the other person has been through and how many times and ways they have been injured in ways we would never have dreamed about.

Several years ago I met a lady who had been imprisoned in Germany during World War 2. She was Jewish and her whole family was murdered except her. She was just a young girl at the time when the war ended and she was freed. She was a nurse for a doctor friend that I went to and I became friends with her. She always seemed cheerful and friendly to everyone. When the doctor told me her story, I began to question her when I would see her about it all. At first she didn’t share much but as time went by she became more and more open and told of the horror of losing her whole family. An American soldier had seen her and in the releasing of the prisoners began to talk with her and found out she had no one there to turn to. He asked if she would like to come to America and become part of his family. She was shocked but agreed. Somehow he arranged for her to get to this country and have his family meet her at the dock. He was still serving in the army when she reached the states. The family took her in and treated her as one of their own. I asked one day how she had dealt with the feelings towards those who had murdered her family. Her answer was, “It haunted me for years. But the love the family here showed me helped me to forgive them and realize they were just deluded in their thinking. When I forgave them, it changed my whole life. You know hate is a horrible thing and I’m glad I’m free from it.”

God wants you too to be free.

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IS THERE ANY HOPE

Few things in life are more distressing than to stand either as friends or with a family when a loved one is extremely ill or has been in a horrible accident and the doctor is trying to explain to the family in the kindest and clearest way possible just how bad the situation really is. It is quite common in those settings, to have someone from the family speak up to the doctor with the question, “Is there any hope?” I’ve watched different doctors react in all kinds of ways when that question is asked. Some have dropped their head to say, “I don’t know. That is really in God’s hands.” Others have bluntly said, “I don’t see any way for there to be.” I remember one doctor saying to the family, “They are alive now and we are doing all we can, but you need to pray to God for more help than we can bring. Why don’t we pray right now?” and he led us in prayer for the family.

One of the saddest things that can ever happen in life is when people give up hope. It’s tragic when a family gives up all hope that a child is going to change who has headed down the road of addiction and nothing seems to be working to turn them around. Even in a country it is heart breaking to reach the point when people lose hope that things will ever get better than they are right now.

The truth is hope is what keeps up moving and believing that there is going to be some better situation. Hope is an equal mixture of desire and expectation. It isn’t wishful thinking or just a leap in the dark. It is what gives us assurance or confidence that things are going to improve. In Romans 8:22-25 Paul laid out one of the great statements of all time about hope. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Often in Paul’s writing he ties hope with faith and love and in Colossians 1 declares that our faith in Jesus Christ and love for all God’s holy people is built on the hope we have of eternal life in Christ. Peter said our hope is laid up for us in heaven from which we look for a savior who will change our lowly bodies so they can be fashioned like his glorious body.

Our hope for a better world, a better fuller life, one that isn’t hindered by death, disease, or challenges in the hope laid up in heaven. When we place our hope on the things of this world, we face the sad reality that they are in a constant state of change and that many of the things we depend on to be there for us turn out to be gone when they are needed most.

Look at Paul’s words to Titus in chapter 3:3-8 that seem to size up the whole topic of hope. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so then, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

It’s pretty common to have people ask if one is a positive or negative thinker, I prefer to think of myself as a hopeful thinker that sees hope for the world, but knows that the ultimate hope for us all isn’t found in this life but the one to come when Jesus returns and we have a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell and that we can be part of that world, living in the loving presence of God all the time.

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WHAT CATEGORY‚Äč DO YOU FIT IN?

I suppose it has always been the case that people looked at one another and immediately sized them up in some way to place them in a particular category. Let’s face it the amount of categories you can put another person in today is so multiplied I can’t keep up with them. Think of someone you met today and just had a few words with, perhaps in a coffee shop, a restaurant or on the street. How many ways did you size them up? If you carried on a conversation with them that lasted more than 30 seconds you were given several other slots you could put them in. Just from sight we can size them up by race, age, well-dressed or shabby, confident or a beggar, fashionable or either don’t care or just poorly dressed. But if you talk with them for a while you begin to put them into other slots as well. You can decide if they are from this country, from the south or north or if they are friendly or not.

But, if we are honest we have to admit the slots we have for people can be based on a multitude of other things. Are the liberal or conservative? Are they pro-life or pro-choice? Are they religious or not and if religious are they the kind I am or some other brand? Are they athletic or not at all interested in who wins or loses?

I know I fall into the same pit fall of sizing people up and putting them into some category, but isn’t it downright aggravating when someone returns the favor and sticks you into some category that you don’t even like much less think you belong in? Have you been misjudged lately? I think of the days when I was selling real estate and people would meet to look at homes or to discuss what they wanted and I would look at the car they drove and how they were dressed often to make a quick judgment of what they might want. One day an elderly couple came into my office wanting to look at a house. They didn’t give the appearance of having much money at all and when I saw their car it was old and pretty worn out. But they were asking about a house that was very expensive and wanted to go see it. I immediately thought this was a waste of time, but agreed to set it up to show them the house. After all I wanted to look at it myself. As we waited for the time for us to be able to see it, I started talking about things like if they had a house they needed to sell to be able to buy it and they said, no. I asked if they had visited any mortgage companies to see what kind of loan they qualified for and they said no. So, I showed them the house thinking the whole time this is a waste of time. At the conclusion of the showing I asked how they liked the house and she answered, I really like it and see a few changes we will need to make but we want it. I waited for the man to speak up as well, but he was quiet until we got back to the office and I said let’s go in and start the paper work. He said, O.K. and I pulled out the offer and acceptance and asked if they had in mind what they wanted to offer. He said they would give the asking price. I asked if they needed to make preparation for loan and he said, no they would pay cash and that they would be negotiable on when they people needed to move out. They signed the contract and he handed me a quite large check for the earnest money just to make it clear to the sellers this was real. After they left, I begin to do some checking and found out that they were extremely wealthy and could easily have afforded a dozen such homes if they wanted them. I had totally missed it when I tried putting them into a compartment that I thought they would fit into.

What if we just stopped all the sizing up of people in every way and really took time to get to know people without judging them, what would happen in the world? There is no question that Jesus was the absolute best at taking people where they were and offering them hope and new life no matter what their race, color, background or sin they had been involved in. He touched the unclean, ask for a drink from a immoral Samaritan woman, forgave one caught in adultery and even took a man named Saul who hated Christianity, and wanted to destroy it and turned his whole life around to become his apostle to the Gentiles.

Instead of focusing on what people are or what wrong they have done, what a different world we would live in if we could look at them and see what they are capable of becoming with our help and God’s help. Let’s try something for a few days, at least. Let’s try to eliminate or at least cut way back on the number of categories we have to put people into and then refuse to put anyone into any category until we have actually taken the time to learn about them and know what kind of problems and concerns they are dealing with. I believe it will take a lot of pressure off us but will be uplifting to the whole world.

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