Saturday, September 23, 2006

"What's In Your Wallet?"

“What’s In Your Wallet?”

What would you think of a man who carried his god around in his wallet, pulling him to bow down to him or talk to him at appropriate times? Never talked back, never did anything, never acted like you’d think a god would act. My bet is that you’d give him plenty of room. “I mean, really,” you’d probably say to me, “How can that thing be god if he can carry him around in his wallet?”

Truth is we carry around our gods in pockets and purses and don’t even realize it. C’mon, admit it – the things that tend to rule our lives are held in our hands or, if too big to physically hold, they possess our minds. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah about this.

5“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? 6Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! 7They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It cannot even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It has no power to get anyone out of trouble. Isaiah 46:5 - 7 (New Living Translation)

So what’s the job description for god? What’s the resume require? Let me give you some suggestions.

If you can contain it, it is not god.
If you can understand it, it is not god.
If you can create it, it is not god.
If you can control it, it is not god.
If you cannot depend on it, it is not god.
If it changes, it is not god.

Now think through the things at top priority. We may not literally bow down to modern “gods” but they rule our lives. Apply these tests and see if they stand up. Money is god to many. Can we understand, create, control, and contain it? Can we depend on it? Does it change? 6 for 6 and it doesn’t qualify as god. Run through the others people put at the top of their lives: power, popularity, success, cars, sports, beauty, possessions, people, and on and on. None qualify.

Do the same with the real and only God, Jesus. Can we understand Him? Not a chance. Can we create Him? No, He created us. Can we control Him? HA! Much as we think we’d like to at times, we can’t. People couldn’t even when He walked here. Can we contain Him? The entire universe could not. Can we depend on Him to be there for us, true to His promises? Absolutely. Does He change? His character, personality, and purposes never, ever change. HE PASSES!

That being true, don’t you think it a good idea for us to stop carrying around god and allow Him to carry us? As it should be.

Boldly, Herb

Friday, September 08, 2006

“Mayor O’Connor, the Steelers, and 9/11”

Mayor O’Connor, the Steelers, and 9/11”

Do me a favor, click your fingers. You know, using your middle finger and your thumb, click them.

I’m waiting. I’m not going on until you do, ‘cause this is an object lesson.

C’mon… indulge me. There, you go! Now don’t you feel better?

Do it again to get the feel. How long does the snap sound last? A fraction of a second.

What is the use of clicking your fingers? To feel the rhythm of music, as a signal that you forgot or remembered something, as a warning to your dog or children. There’s one more. The most important. That “snap” represents your life.

Whoa, that’s heavy. Yep. A fraction of a second, a breath, a moment – that’s our lives. On the CD of history, reaching thousands of years back to Adam’s first heartbeat and forward to who knows when, you and I are a “snap.”

Today we buried the beloved mayor of Pittsburgh, Bob O’Connor. 61 years young, still so much life to live and good to do for the people of the Steel City. Who would have thought this would happen less than a year ago when he realized his life long dream of becoming mayor, or when he stood at the podium with the victorious Steelers, or when he put such effort into the Baseball all-star game? No one. Not one. He went into the hospital with flu like symptoms and never came home. “Snap.”

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers begin defense of their Super Bowl title. Long awaited and much celebrated. Five months from now, no one will be talking about them unless they are playing for the title again. They will be a buried story, old news, yesterday’s paper. All that effort and hype. “Snap.”

On Monday we will remember the tragic events of 9/11 five years ago. Over three thousand people lost their lives that day. And our nation has never been the same. Do you think any of those people had any inkling that it would be their last day? It was a day like any other, a bagel on the desk, dinner plans for the evening, a birthday gift to buy at lunch time, a ball game to catch with a friend. “Snap” and everything changed.
Five years ago I wrote the following words in my email article for “From Where God Sits.” I thought it appropriate to say again.
“As I prayed following the events of 9/11, I sensed God saying to me, ‘There is something worse than dying physically. It is dying without a relationship with Me and going to Hell.’ All of heaven welcomed many of the people who died Tuesday into an eternity beyond our wildest imaginations. Those people are better off, they’re receiving a reward that will last forever and ever and ever. Others, however, are damned to an eternity beyond our nastiest nightmares because they refused a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is worse than the cruelest death we will hear about.
God’s words to me, as surprising as they were, have helped bring me out of the fog of the tragedy and have given me His bigger picture perspective. Yes it is a tragedy. The ripples will last for decades. The worst may be yet to come. But thousands of people around the world suffer daily. Persecuted Christians perish day after day. People die every day within blocks of us, sometimes even cruelly. Perhaps if we are honest with God and ourselves, we have to admit that our feelings are selfish. The tragedy has threatened our personal sense of security, our personal comforts, and our self-absorbed way of life. It grabs our attention because of the unthinkable way in which we were attacked and the enormity of the loss. We are shaken. This one hit home where we thought we were safe and secure.”

“Snap.” Click your fingers again. Someday that will be you and me. Could be ANY day. What are you doing to make it count? Little things, big things, in between thing. Reaching toward those you love, reconciling with those where hurt has gotten in the way. “Snap” and the chance is over.

Start with this prayer of David, listen for God’s answer, and live life BOLDLY.

""Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV)

Boldly, Herb