Unclogging Sinks and Hearts –

By: Judith Hargett

It’s one of those sounds you don’t like to hear…that gurgling noise in the sink. You know it’s just a matter of time before the sink stops draining, and the clog has to be cleared. I was faced with such an issue recently when my side of the bathroom sink stopped draining. I didn’t mention it to husband because I knew he would immediately suggest it was my hair causing the clog. I had assured him many times that I was very careful not to wash my hair down the drain, an assurance I thought to be accurate. Still, I took on the plumbing job with stealth…like the pink panther of plumbers. First I turned to baking soda, vinegar and hot water; a method usually effective in cleaning if not clearing. This method works best when used on a regular basis, not as an emergency backup. With sink still gurgling, I grabbed my trustworthy plumbing tool, an old toothbrush (requires no plumbing license), and began poking it into the drain. At first I got nothing more than some black goop on the brush, certainly not enough to clog a drain. Taking on a more aggressive stance, I plunged the toothbrush as far down the drain as my hand would allow while hoping it didn’t slip out of my fingers which would certainly have required husband notification. When the toothbrush seemed to meet with resistance I pulled it up finding a few strands of hair tangled in the bristles. I repeated the maneuver several times until I pulled out something that looked like a hairpiece for a long-haired dachshund. Water began to flow freely down the drain at this point.

With the plumbing project completed, I headed to my favorite chair for a little break. Sunlight was streaming across the floor, the bluebirds were raising their second set of downy feathered beggars, the temperatures were still tolerable, plants were starting to bloom and a cup of coffee sat within reach. Sounds like a relaxing scene doesn’t it? It didn’t last long. The cheerful beam of sunshine revealed great quantities of dust my cleaning rag had missed, along with a huge smear across the glass storm door. That was motivation enough to get me out of my chair and out the door to check the mail. Ahh. The great outdoors, where dust is acceptable. I detoured along the way to pick a yellow rose. As I was removing a thorn from my thumb, something swooped down barely missing my head. The bird-brained creature continued to dive bomb me until I returned to the driveway. I’m guessing there was a fledgling bluebird in the grass. Retrieving my scattered nerves, I continued to the mailbox; an activity that I count as part of my daily exercise regime.

The mail carrier had delivered another round of graduation announcements, a wedding invitation, requests from three organizations for donations and a pile of ads that would need sorting to ensure no real mail had gotten mixed in with them. As I started back to the house, my nose began to drip and my foot began to itch, reminders that the great outdoors also has its drawbacks. I returned to my favorite chair to open the mail. The sun had moved just enough so that it no longer exposed the dust or smears; instead it provided a lovely glow. Safe from the attacking bluebirds I could admire them through the now miraculously smudge-free glass door as they hovered just above the grass, waiting to catch a bug for the family supper.

Remembering the drain I’d cleared earlier, I was reminded of how our lives can also get clogged up. Our schedules sometime reflect too much busy work and not enough quiet time with our Creator. When we neglect to confess our sins on a regular basis and spend time in The Word, our minds can begin to gum up with the goop of human thinking. Before long, we’re complaining like Martha as recounted by Luke in his recording of the Gospel. He begins her story in Luke 10:38-40 (NIV): “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

But Jesus was quick to point out Martha’s faulty thinking, continuing now in verses 41 and 42:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If we don’t spend time at the feet of Jesus on a regular basis, our lives will not reflect His. Busyness that excludes worship can lead us, like Martha, into self-pity. I think Dr. Luke would agree with this prescription: Prayer, scripture intake and meditation on the Word can clear the heart of stubborn spiritual clogs when used on a regular basis. (While it is impossible to overdose, a missed dose can be hazardous to your health, and possibly cause you to be very annoying to those around you.)

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Sitting down with Tax Collectors –

By: Judith Hargett

The air was so thick with tension it seemed to require extra energy to walk through the room. Already feeling overexerted I had to make a quick sidestep to keep from getting run over by an irate man as he stormed past me and out the door. (To my way of thinking these maneuvers constituted a workout and I planned to mark it down as such on my calendar as husband is always urging me to exercise more.) I had entered the local IRS office to pick up some forms. It should have been marked off with yellow warning tape: “Area Contaminated with Verbal Toxins.”

A small group of people were waiting impatiently for their turn to speak to an agent. One miserable looking employee sat behind the counter trying to diffuse the situation. I came in as the irate man was demanding phone numbers and names so he could file a complaint, threatening as he passed me that “they were going to get more than a phone call from him.” Now I understood why they usually had a security guard on the premises; but this day he was nowhere in sight. The remaining customers were grilling the IRS employee about a break she was about to begin. She said her supervisor was requiring her to take a mandated fifteen minute break. It was in the regulations. She apologized, looking totally miserable. I wanted to hug her or offer a word of encouragement but figured that would be against some rule. I could almost imagine the headlines: “Local Woman Arrested Trying to Encourage Government Employee without Filling out Proper Form” (see rule number 3,000,001 in IRS statutes). With one final apology the employee pulled down the metal screen leaving the grumbling citizenry to fume for another fifteen minutes and probably began the most stressful break of her life knowing that those who remained would be even angrier when she lifted that screen to resume her work. I quickly backed out of the office (more exercise) before my sympathies for the employee could be detected.

According to Proverbs 19:11: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense“(NIV). Were these people impatient because they were not wise? Believers know that patience is a fruit of the spirit. As Paul told the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV, emphasis added). Before I could fall off my high horse and break my judgmental neck, I had an epiphany. The Lord used this opportunity to reveal my own ugliness. Had I not sounded and acted the very same way as these people at times when the arrogance of my self-importance overrode the warnings from The Holy Spirit? If it looked and sounded that ugly to me, how must it sound to God? I’m so thankful He gives us the opportunity to confess such sins and restore our fellowship with Him (see I John 1:9); but our public displays of rudeness and impatience are damaging to our witness.

Now back to the IRS. Some of you even now may be working on your tax returns. Either you’re trying to figure out the multiplicity of forms and rules yourself or you’re paying someone to do it for you. Intentional or not, it’s a system that tries the patience of the most sanctified among us. Now. Imagine dealing with a steady stream of people who are very agitated over this process. There aren’t enough breaks available to relieve such stress. Additionally, these IRS employees have to follow the same rules we do…at least at the local office level…and I’m pretty sure they don’t get an employee discount. I’m not suggesting you have to go out to dinner with tax collectors, though I can certainly think of someone who would, and did; but you might need to work on being more patient with them. Try getting help in a big city tax office. Even Job would have trouble with that one.

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A letter from the Elders of Cape Bible Chapel

March 2014

 

 

Greetings to everyone at Cape Bible Chapel,

 

The elders are excited to provide an update on the leadership transition that began the first of January. We recognize that this is one of the most significant changes in the life of the Chapel in the last several decades. After Dan proposed the change in his teaching responsibility to allow him to be more involved in peoples’ lives, the elders spent much time in 2013 in prayer, discussion, and planning before undertaking this major change.

 

From a human perspective, the change challenged our thinking.  But as we have already seen in the first two months of 2014, it is not about us but about Him who has infinite power and wisdom. While it is early in the transition, we are blessed to be experiencing the truth described in Ephesians 3:20-21:

 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,

according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and

            in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

 

Now to review some of the details of the transition … As you are likely aware, Dan Greene has transitioned to Lead Pastor, and after about 35 years of weekly Bible exposition, he passed the primary teaching baton to James Green (no relationship other than brothers in Christ).  James’ role has changed from Associate Pastor to Teaching Pastor. This has been a somewhat intimidating change for all of us because of Dan’s giftedness and tenure.

 

Dan continues to cast vision and is settling into his new responsibilities: 1) expanded leadership of the staff, 2) hands on leadership in the area of mentoring/discipleship, 3) lead shepherding pastor, 4) lead counseling pastor, 5) co-coordinator of Small Groups with Cliff Ford, 6) increased responsibility in oversight of Chapel Ministries, and 7) teaching in the worship services on a limited basis.

 

While James remains intimately involved in ministry oversight, shepherding, and counseling, his day to day leadership in these areas has been passed to Dan.  The teaching responsibility is now James’ primary focus.  We trust that you have been challenged and blessed, as we have, by his current sermon series, “Galatians … Understanding Grace.”

 

The elders ask that you regularly pray for the Chapel leadership and particularly for Dan and James as they continue to grow in their gifts and skills needed for their new roles.  We look forward to how God will continue to work in and through the Chapel body in the coming months, years, and generations as we seek to glorify Him.

 

Serving & worshipping Him with you,

 

Elders of Cape Bible Chapel

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The Breakdown of Adell and the Wisdom of Solomon –

By: Judith Hargett

I have come to a most unpleasant conclusion after careful consideration of the facts…followed by much sneezing and general hankie waving. The conclusion? At some point during our move from Texas to Missouri seven years ago, some living being took up residence in our computer. Being without proper nourishment, the creature perished and began the slow process of decay. It’s really the only explanation for what I found.

This sad event came to light just recently when we unplugged our faithful computer for the last time. She, Adell Grace, had served us well for many years, 11 to be exact. We had been through so much together. She was instrumental in helping me write hundreds of cards and letters, prepare tax returns I’d fretted over, send out and receive thousands of e-mails and set up all manner of schedules that seemed needful at the time. But like me, Adell kept getting older and slower. We frequently got messages from Microsoft saying our computer was running low on memory. Again. Just like me. Yet I was fond of the machine. I was familiar with her programs, her commands. But the world is ever changing. More data than I can ever absorb, or have any interest in knowing, is constantly flowing into our home through some piece of technology. It finally became too much for Adell; and she had a data breakdown, barely functioning at all. Her unnamed replacement had been on standby for a week (out of sight), but I had used the excuse of busyness to delay the transition a few more days. Then the ice and snow came and I was housebound for five days. The time had come.

I wonder what Solomon would think about computers. You might be familiar with his words in Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (It is assumed by most scholars that the author of Ecclesiastes is Solomon.) Solomon’s legendary wisdom is detailed in I Kings 4. Look at verse 29: “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” And in I Kings 3:12 God says to Solomon: “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” So. If the smartest man that ever lived, or ever will live says there is nothing new, I’m going to believe him.

Of course there are new things being made all the time, but there are no new ideas. I like the way Warren Wiersbe states it in The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, “Whatever is new is simply a recombination of the old. Man cannot create anything new because man is the creature, not the Creator.” While general knowledge may be rapidly increasing because of technology, the knowledge of God seems to be decreasing almost as rapidly…and there goes wisdom. Not to mention hope because God created man with eternity in his heart. (See Ecclesiastes 3:11.) We cannot have true joy, or purpose, without God.

I am writing this from the new computer. We’re slowly getting acquainted. I’ll try to take better care of this one. You see, when we unplugged Adell and I could see the back of her… well, I never saw so much dust in one place. And that is why I came to the conclusion that something must have died inside her cabinet for, according to Solomon, “All go to the same place; all come from dust; and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

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Slippery Slopes and Squirrel Wars –

By: Judith Hargett

It is embarrassing to realize you’ve been outsmarted by a squirrel. Wait. Let’s change that to outfoxed by a squirrel…sounds less insulting. This has happened to me more than once which I am willing to admit because I know that I’m not alone in the man vs squirrel wars. The most egregious incident took place quite a few years back when husband and I were living in Houston. We had an attractive new birdfeeder which I placed in our front yard for all passersby to enjoy. I didn’t mean to include the squirrel populace in that enjoyment. Of course, they weren’t passersby. They came and stayed. The feeder hung from a tall shepherd’s hook. I didn’t think the squirrels could climb a skinny, metal pole. Quickly proving me wrong, they zipped up and down that pole like nobody’s business, hanging from the wildly swinging birdfeeder as if on a joy ride until every bird seed was gone. That’s when our war began.

I first used the trustworthy method of yelling and flailing of arms but the squirrels would return to the feeder before I could even get back in the house. After several rounds of this annoying drill, I was further humiliated to receive a phone call from the local police. They had been observing the battle from their post at a nearby school crosswalk and assured me I had brought a great amount of levity into their otherwise boring assignment. I thanked them for their attention to such an important safety issue in the neighborhood and was very relieved they could not read my mind and know my true thoughts. I now knew I had to be more clever…and stealthy. I devised a plan that I felt sure would end the problem. I greased the pole and for extra insurance sprinkled hot pepper on it. Resuming my post inside the house, I watched with great delight as a squirrel attempted to climb the pole only to slide right back to the ground. Victory was mine!

Both animals and humans have found themselves on slippery slopes in our area this year. Between the snows and long spells of freezing temperatures, there have been plenty opportunities for frozen patches to form and linger. We have witnessed a blue jay skidding across the frozen birdbath and a snowbird sliding off a frozen plant hook when he tried landing there. And our neighbor had the misfortune of stepping on a patch of black ice between our two yards resulting in a hard fall leaving him with a bleeding hand and wet clothes. His greater concern, however, was that someone might have observed his fall rather than the possibility he might have broken his neck.

There are other types of slippery slopes humans can get on, even more dangerous than icy patches and with far worse consequences when we fall. When signs of danger are obvious, we should avoid the area! Remember what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” Well, that applies to Believers today as well. When a Believer gets on that slippery slope of testing God, the fall can be hard and painful.

But let me return to the squirrel story for a moment. My victory was short lived. After several attempts (squirrels never give up) at climbing the pole, the grease was wiped off by the squirrel’s fur. He was right back in business. As far as I could tell, the hot pepper was no deterrent at all. This brings me to another point about human behavior. When we stay in a bad behavior long enough, we grieve the Holy Spirit and sear our conscience, making the activity less offensive to us each time we participate in it. We take the corruption of the world onto our bodies and into our hearts. Unlike nonbelievers, however, Christ followers have a way to get back in fellowship with The Lord. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

In conclusion may I make two suggestions? Wear YakTrax when walking on slippery ground and clothe yourself with The Word for navigating through the many treacherous areas of this world. As for fighting with squirrels, try not to be observed in your efforts; or better yet, don’t waste your time.

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Surviving the Flu and Ladybugs –

By: Judith Hargett

The creature crept from room to room searching for that spot that might provide just a little comfort.   That creature was me.  Or, was it I?  Well.  It was one of us.  My bout with self-diagnosed flu was getting old.  I was tired of the tender skin and non-stop aching.  What I needed was a spell of warm weather, but that time clearly had not arrived.  A blue jay just skidded across the bird bath. It looked like he was training for an Olympic skiing event.  The little concrete pond where Mr. Jay got a drink yesterday was now frozen solid.

Refocusing on inside creeping things, I notice an orange speck making its way slowly across the floor.  With great effort I haul myself close enough to the speck to determine that it is a ladybug.  Very carefully I transport the wanderer to a nearby plant where I believe the creature will be more content, maybe find some moisture and a tasty aphid to eat.  Or, if this ladybug likes dust, its hit a bonanza anywhere in the house.

The ladybugs arrive in masse each fall.  For a few days they cover our window screens and lurk by the doors hoping to gain entrance and a cozy place to winter.  There are always a few that succeed in this mission.  They emerge periodically throughout the winter.  I don’t mind sharing our space with a few; they seem so cheerful and full of purpose.  But, I wondered, what do they eat inside our house in the winter?

A quick trip to the Internet revealed some stuff I’d just as soon not know.  Ladybugs, also called ladybirds, are beetles and they’re certainly not always ladies.  The ladybug might actually be a guy bug and if the food supply runs low, they’re not above cannibalism.  They can also bite…and emit a foul odor when threatened.  Kind of spoils my high opinion of them. 

But who am I to question this little critter created by God to serve a certain purpose? Humans have plenty of their own issues.   What must God think of his human creation at times?  David expressed his awe of God’s relationship with man eloquently in Psalm 8:3-5: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”  Wow!  We are tiny specks, no bigger than ladybugs, when considering all of God’s creation and yet He elevated us to a place of honor.  Shouldn’t that make us want to be pleasing in His sight? 

Hmm. I guess the plant wasn’t to the ladybug’s pleasing.  I see it traveling north across the bathroom mirror right now.  Wonder if ladybug will see that same scary lady I sometimes see when I look in that mirror?  Well, I’m not gonna’ look; I’m going to creep on back to the couch.

 

 

 

 

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Enjoying a Cup of Heavenly Coffee –

By: Judith Hargett

Two of my grandmas shared a home for many years. They kept a coffeepot on the stove most of the day. One of those non-electric, percolator types. I don’t know what time that coffeepot got put into service each morning, but it stood at the ready much of the day for that time when one of the grandmas, or an unsuspecting guest, was ready to sit a spell with a cup of some of the blackest coffee known to man. By the time the pot got put away in the evening you can be sure any remaining coffee would be strong enough to make a normally functioning person do a jig with plenty of high steppin’ moves and energy left over to keep them awake ‘til the roosters started crowing…though I never observed my grandmas performing any such activities. Their systems had apparently adjusted to the high doses of caffeine through the years. Or maybe the caffeine was absorbed by the hot peppers and turnip greens that were a big part of their diets. I concluded from my study of these two people that coffee could not be overly hazardous to your health as both grandmas lived past their 100th birthday. Some might say this conclusion has little scientific merit but it serves my purpose which is to continue enjoying my coffee without guilt each morning.

Now my grandma on the other side of the family tree drank her coffee from her saucer. I believe she poured the coffee out of her China cup into the saucer to cool it. As a child I didn’t question such behavior. I just accepted that’s how folks drank coffee in that house. This grandma also added lots of sugar and cream to her coffee which made it all the more appealing to the group of grandkids that lingered around her table after Sunday lunch like a litter of kittens hoping for a saucer of milk.

Still, I didn’t become a dedicated coffee drinker myself until I joined the Air Force. Coffee breaks were an important part of the workday schedule in my group. I soon realized it was much quicker to grab a cup of coffee than to brew a cup of tea. Important chitchat could be missed in the few extra seconds required to make the tea. A coffee pot has been one of the office “perks” in every job I’ve had since. I have shared many a cup with friends and family through the years.

Sadly, I just recently lost one of those friends I’d shared many cups of coffee with in years past. We had worked together for an oil company in Houston. He died early New Year’s morning when the car he was riding in was hit by someone who ran a red light…someone who’d had way too much alcohol to drink. My friend died at the scene, no doubt believing he had plenty of time left to visit his daughter who was on her way home from Japan, time to meet his son’s brand new baby daughter and time to spend with friends in the New Year. The e-mails he’d recently sent us sharing his latest jokes still sit in our in-box. Sometimes my coffee is seasoned with sorrow.

I believe the Scriptures make it clear that we will eat and drink real food in our resurrected bodies, just as Jesus did. I don’t know if coffee will be one of those beverages we will enjoy. Since God created us and He created food, He knows what will be pleasing to His family when we have our taste buds perfectly restored. But while we’re walking on this earth in our original bodies, we should remember this admonition from Paul to the Corinthians: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Cor 10:31).

Why not invite an unsaved friend to join you for a cup of their favorite inoffensive beverage and begin building a relationship with them so you might be able to share the Gospel with them. Then maybe one day you will be able to share a cup of heavenly coffee together.

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Moral Distress Scale

By: Stan Crader
I was thinking. Don’t act like that’s a surprise. It’s something I catch myself doing in between episodes of “Office” and “Outsourced.” The notion of a moral distress scale was pin balling around in my mind. A moral distress scale is when someone addresses the disequilibrium that results after avoiding an ethically appropriate behavior.
Healthcare professionals frequently deal with this conundrum. The question, is there a doctor in the house, is frequently met with those with the skills to help sinking low in their seats. Why?
Another example is when tempted to pick up a harmless looking hitchhiker but don’t do so. And then for the next few miles conjure up a long list of reasons for not offering assistance.
It didn’t used to be this way.
Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, “Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes man’s noblest impulses.” It seems we have reached a place where a person commits a spontaneous act of courage at his or her own risk.
Think about this, someone steals a gun, and during a subsequent criminal act uses the stolen weapon to shoot someone. The person from whom the gun was stolen could be held liable in civil court. Clear minds would hold that the shooter was responsible, but our legal system has made a sport of civil proceedings.
When I was growing up the playground equipment at the school was available all summer long. And if someone fell off the slide and needed stitches (me) they just ran home crying and their parents took them to the doctor. Now the swings are taken down and larger unmovable items are locked behind fences. What changed?
The moral distress scale concept is ludicrous. The fact that it exists is not a good sign. As individuals we can’t change the world, but we can be courageous and do the right thing.

Note: This blog was originally posted September 11, 2013 on Stan’s blog which can be found at http://www.stancrader.com.

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Window Cleaning and other non-New Year’s Resolutions-

By Judith Hargett

Greetings dear people. It has been a while since I’ve visited with you. After sending out dozens and then some more dozens of various forms of greeting cards in December, I had flatly used up my allotment of words for the year. My mental ink had run dry.

Today is January 6 and I have yet to break a New Year’s resolution. Admittedly, like the majority of the populace, I did not make any resolutions. I gave up resolution making many years back. If a resolution is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, or the IRS, it’s probably not likely to be kept. Since there’s no way to keep a secret from the Holy Spirit, or the IRS, I bear in mind this admonition given us in James 5:12: “Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.”

I sure don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep. But if I were going to make a bold proclamation regarding this New Year, it might be something like: “I will not let dirty windows steal my joy.”

I am a great admirer of clean windows. Country living doesn’t seem to be overly compatible with this condition. Or, perhaps I’m just not a good window washer. Even when I think I’ve cleaned these glass aggravants, the sun soon proves me wrong. Still, the scene out our windows right now is very pleasant despite the inadequacy of my cleaning. Oh, and it would probably help if I’d clean my glasses while I’m at it. There are enough fingerprints on them to keep the FBI busy for a week. But back to our current outdoor scene. There is a thin white blanket of snow covering the ground with occasional sparkling flurries blowing around as if we’re in a snow globe. In fact when my inner ear gets out of whack I very much feel like I’m getting a good shake once in a while. The cardinals are adding a bright touch of red to the picture. Husband made sure the birds had plenty to eat in these frigid temperatures.

It is a great source of comfort knowing God looks at Believers through the eyes of His Son. Our many imperfections are covered like this pure white blanket of snow when we confess our sins and ask forgiveness. Read what The Lord tells the people of Judah in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;…”

Wow. How wonderful the same thing applies to us today when we believe in Jesus! When the light shines on our lives, we should be reflecting Christ, not the worldly dirt that covers the windows of the unbeliever’s soul.

Well. It’s been nice visiting with you. Time to cook lunch. Husband requests healthy food for the next few weeks. His stomach rejoices at the idea. Mine panics and starts hoarding sugar. Fortunately, I have a supply of peanut patties made by my mother that will help ease me through this healthy-cooking time period. Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to share that last bit of information with my husband.

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Are you an Anthropomorphist?

By: Stan Crader

I sat down at my desk with the intention of adding a few words to my next novel, Approach The Bench. And then I saw a note to myself that I need to finish the family Christmas letter. While in the process of closing the file to my book and looking through my documents folder for the unfinished Christmas letter my eyes locked onto a book lying next to the keyboard. A.W. Tozer’s words were calling.

“What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us,” author A.W. Tozer once wrote. “The most portentous fact about any man is not what he, at a given time, may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”

As you might guess, A.W. Tozer was a deep thinker whose writings seem to pose more questions than they answer, and those particular comments set me to thinking. You see, Tozer uses the infinitive omni words to describe God’s attributes – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent – and to describe God using any other words is to anthropomorphize Him.

What’s anthromorphize? some of you may ask. I’ll be happy to tell you. Athropomorphism is the act of attributing human characteristics to something, especially a deity, like God. We humans tend to define things by relative comparison, but the problem with describing God is that His attributes simply have no comparison. His attributes are so infinite that our minds can’t comprehend them – but that doesn’t stop the anthropomorphist from anthropomorphizing.

And that brings me to another conundrum.

I think we are also defined by what comes into our minds when we think about Christmas. We’ve all heard the aphorism “It is better to give than to receive,” and while most of us try to embrace that concept, there’s always some Yahoo that will say receiving is plenty good and he’s just fine with letting others have the pleasure of giving. Poor deluded schmuck.

Or is he? Ponder this for a moment.

Is Christmas about giving or receiving?

“It’s about giving,” you say, and you’d be right. Christmas is the time of year that we catch up on our charitable gifts and give thought to what our loved ones and friends would appreciate receiving.  Most mature minds are focused on giving.  Only children (and the Yahoos) are focused on receiving. Right?

Not so fast there buckaroo, we’re not talking about Red Rider BB guns.

Christmas is the celebration of God’s gift of His son, Jesus, to the world.  So, for God, Christmas is about Giving.  For the rest of us, it’s about Receiving.

So, the next time you’re asked if Christmas is about giving or receiving, you can answer that it’s about receiving.  But unless you want to be called a Yahoo, you’ll probably have to explain.

Or if you find yourself at Christmas dinner, sitting at a table where no one is talking…ask the question yourself. It will most likely provoke many to think in way they haven’t been taught and the conversation will surely turn anthropomorphic. If, along the way, someone accuses you of being an anthromorphist, just smile and tell them it’s better than being a Yahoo.

Speaking of a Red Rider BB gun – this year marks the 30th anniversary of ‘A Christmas Story’.  It’s a great story on receiving, but not the right kind of receiving.  Ralphie does in fact nearly shoot out his eye.  And then there’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, it’s a story that depicts the right kind of receiving.  George gives and gives but in the end enjoys the biggest blessing when he receives.

I hope that your heart is filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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