Series 30


Mercy Kissed

It almost seemed like a comedy routine. But it was real. And it was happening in my back seat on the way home from Tuesday night church.

Two teenagers were making a case for the huge educational benefits of playing video games. Brandon started by claiming it helps his math abilities. Rich upped the ante by adding budgeting, and auto part’s knowledge.

They would mention a video game and then its enhancement to their intellect. Now I’m not a gamer. So my knowledge is limited, but the game’s names alone would probably cause a banned-status at my house. .

Still Brandon and Rich kept feeding each others enthusiasm. They added learning history to the video game benefits list. Rich said, “I’ve learned a lot about hippies.” I almost laughed. But it is actually sad how they think.

Then Brandon said, “Rick isn’t it neat all the things you can learn from video games?”

So now the door was open for me to really vent my take.

I was silent. Sure I could have said something. But I was pondering. I was pondering, “Mercy.”

The Bible says: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” What is this saying? The correct blend of mercy and truth will lead to right living before God and peace with people.

If I hammer Brandon and Rich with pure Bible truth, these two who have just begun exploring the teaching of Jesus, probably couldn’t handle it. Now mercy is cutting them a lot of slack—initially. Allowing them to grow a step at a time in their God-life.

And this isn’t ignoring untruth or permitting confusion.

Here’s the plan. Blend God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s power with a loving, merciful, and patient approach. This is the gateway to long-lasting life change.


Serving God—Your Way

“I really felt like doing some ministry last night,” Pete said. He then asked me if I knew a situation where he could serve God when his schedule and urge met at the same time.

I live on the edge of a town of six thousand people. The surrounding area is dotted with small towns and rural countryside. Seemingly rather peaceful. And fifty-plus churches are in the immediate vicinity. Still, the need for people to engage in ministry screams.

An idea instantly popped into my head. The thought of someone who might go into retirement homes excited me. Pete has an amazingly likeable personality. Plus his Bible knowledge and skills are topnotch. And he even plays guitar and sings.

But Pete seemed lukewarm to my suggestion. 

So, what does “ministry” mean exactly? Looking at the original Greek Biblical language, we see ministry simply means, “Serving—like a waiter.” Then the Bible says of Christians: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Then if you’re a Christian, you are in ministry. Serving God through serving people is a responsibility.

We’re on duty to reconcile, help connect the not-yet Christians to Jesus and to bolster the faith of those already following Jesus. And the ways to fulfill these obligations are as vast as the stars and human personalities.

Two weeks later I saw Pete. He was in an over-the-top good mood. God had opened up a ministry opportunity for him. God’s guiding far surpassed my suggestion. Pete agreed: “I love it…it’s not even work to me.”

Likewise God has a ministry designed just for you. Find it. And do as the scriptures say; “…fulfill your ministry.”


Healed By a Dime?

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

Who doesn’t need to see and understand what it is about children’s faith that touches God’s heart? God help me.

I smiled, having just caught a glimpse of the beauty of childlike faith. Simple, unadulterated belief in God’s power. 

“Look at this,” Devon said, as he pointed to a thumbtack-sized welt which had just appeared below his eye.

In a few minutes Devon and six other teenagers found their seats for Tuesday night Bible study. Now he was drawing attention to himself because he had a dime, apparently with saliva, stuck over the welt.

But soon everybody ignored this dime as we carried on. Devon engaged well in the Bible study with good answers and comments. Soon I even forgot about the dime as we interacted.

Forty-five minutes later the Bible study was over. Suddenly, Devon came back into the room. “Look,” he said. “It’s gone.”

His face was clear

I thought, “Did the dime heal the welt?”

Almost before I completed my thought, Devon pointed at the dime, “It says: In God We Trust.” He smiled big. Devon believed the motto stamped on the coin was linked to his speedy cure.

Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” He was talking to a man who desperately wanted to have his son cured from seizures. Hearing this, the man cried out: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

This man seemed to be wavering; not pure in his faith. But he asked the right person for help—Jesus.

Childlike faith. Pure. Unconcerned about what others think. Unwavering trust in God. No Devon, you don’t need a dime. Your faith healed you.


Un-rotten World

“I was starting to think the whole world was rotten,” Dean said.

But two Christians, Lucy and Corky, squelched his spiraling-to-hopeless thoughts. They will probably never meet Dean. And all he was seeing was his three children now attired in new winter coats. Provided free by Lucy and Corky.

Dean has had beyond his share of bad shakes in life. The rotten-side of humanity had broken into his car while it was parked in his driveway a few nights earlier. This, with everything else he sees, cast a bleakness over his attitude.

But then the un-rotten side of humanity arose. Lucy and Corky had felt compelled to buy winter coats for the community’s needy. They approached a local clothing distributor about a “deal.”

Now they had their criteria: “We don’t want any unpopular styles. You know—leftovers.” They wanted the good stuff. And they got it. Five-thousand dollars worth of warm, stylish coats. Then they passed them onto a local charity, fading into obscurity with one request: “For children only.”

Sometimes though, it’s hard not to agree with Dean. Thinking: “We live in a rotten world.” Which continues to decay.

The Bible says: “The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker…”

The Bible warns us to expect the world to become darker and rottener as the end approaches. But Jesus’ followers are to counter this. They are to be brighter and brighter. Shining with God’s hope.

Dean was smiling big and bright: “Thank you so much.” While Lucy and Corky didn’t hear his words, I’m sure they would say, “Thank God.”

Reminding us of Jesus’ words: “Let your light so shine before people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”


Do Turkeys Speak?

“God is speaking. Are you listening?” While driving home those words from the radio jolted my mind.

The Bible says of God: “How faint the whisper we hear of Him.” And now the radio confirmed I had heard the soft-spoken voice of God in my heart.

Minutes earlier I had been traveling the opposite direction on an errand. Wet and blowing snow necessitated reduced speeds. Then just ahead a pheasant appeared in the road. Suddenly it crossed from the opposite lane into my path. With weather conditions, the “thump’ was inevitable. In immediate succession a huge wild turkey flew almost over my car.

Mixed with the remorse of killing an animal, I thought, “What are the odds of this strange unfolding of events?”   Astronomical odds…

Arriving at my destination, I sat in my car wanting to decipher this episode. God spoke. Not audibly. I was the turkey. As in: “You’re a turkey.” A quirky term for expressing inappropriate behavior. A sickening, compassionate feeling for the plight of the struck pheasant had instantly inundated me. Nothing wrong with this.

My problem? Too often I lack appropriately compassionate reaction towards human beings.

This had happened about an hour prior. An older lady, I had known years ago, was waiting outside in the cold for a ride. I offered her a ride. But the compassion and concern I felt for her was dim. The offer mostly reflected a felt obligation. Really, I was relieved when she said: “No, I’m fine.”

The Bible say: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

God…forgive me. I don’t want to be nothing. God help me to change.